Friday, February 10, 2012

One Voyage Westward

John and Margaret Mathers Grim
I haven't put a lot of thought into how my ancestors migrated westward to Iowa. Most came through Pennsylvania and Ohio judging from available records but I never really thought much about the journey itself. I mostly just thought of the time frame and the reason why. However, while researching into the Civil War and how it played into my family tree, I ran across a bit of info on the journey my 3rd great grandparents John and Margaret Mathers Grim made from their home in Mercer county, Pennsylvania to their farm near Morning Sun, Louisa county, Iowa.

They left in a covered wagon date unknown and got as far as Mansfield in Richland county, Ohio before pulling over to let nature take its course. By nature, I mean the birth of their third child Mary on October 31st, 1863. My 2nd great grandfather William 'Billie' James Grim wasn't quite two years old at the time and his older sister Martha was a few months past three years old so I'm guessing my 3rd great grandfather had his hands full.

When they got going again a few months later, they caught a boat and rode it down the Ohio river to St. Louis where they came across a lot of soldiers waiting to be transferred to various destinations. Billie was two years old by then and evidently got lost among the mob of soldiers on the boat and had my 3rd great grandfather John looking worriedly for him. He eventually found him (I know because I am here now typing this) cracking eggs with the army cook in the galley. The road the boat north up the Mississippi to the Port Louisa on the Iowa side of the river. From there, it is unknown their final mode of transportation but they ended up on the Woodruff farm north of Morning Sun, Iowa.

John eventually found work at a grist mill, the occupation of his grandfather, and moved near Cairo, Iowa for a couple years. For reasons unknown, my theory he just loved farming better than running a mill, he hired onto the Darius (Dunk) Key farm and worked that farm for the next fourteen years. If you recall, that is the farm that I visited last year and wrote about here.

When he was too old to farm, he moved back to Morning Sun and lived to the ripe old age of 82. He was still going strong when he fell and broke his hip and after growing weaker for a week, finally passed away.


Vince said...

For you given the connection, it's how. For me it's why they moved from Mercier. They seem to have been sound enough financially if they took that length of time to get to Iowa for that trip would be one of the quickest for the time. Down the Ohio and up. Such a trip would have been well trampled for 80 years at that stage.
I wonder had Lincoln any hand in the development of that area of Iowa. His family had history of land development.

sage said...

I wish I knew more about my family's movement from Scotland to the Carolinas. Interesting story here!

Ed said...

Vince - From what I know, John was very religious and his son, bearing his name, was actually a minister of known name here in Iowa. I suspect that John Sr. left Pennsylvania to avoid the later parts of the Civil War.

Sage - On the grand scheme of things, I know very little but I really love all that I have discovered which keeps me searching for more.

Vince said...

I wonder. On the face of it, yes, that seems logical. But then you have the mountains and Pittsburgh between him and any raid. While economically that area would have a history of being a boom spot for farming. You have the coal mining towns the city of P-berg, then you had down the Ohio if prices weren't so hot nearer home. Pretty much a win coming and going.
My point being about the time taken getting to Iowa is what was he doing to support himself and a family between he two places. Itinerant labour, be that skilled or unskilled is treated much as if they were in a tied transaction with the company shop. There would be two prices for any product. So he wouldn't be getting out of a town with very much more than with what he entered it. And if he was a preacher in those places, you'd know by now. While one long family mooch from one end of the Ohio to the other is a distinct possibility. You'd have to say that scenario might sit if the trip was over a few months not in years.

R. Sherman said...

My son asked me yesterday how we got "here," thereby allowing me to wax historic about what I knew.

It's good to have a connection to the past and to be able to show one's offspring their connection to a piece of real estate. Little Abbey will be the better for it.


Ed said...

Vince - John's father was a miller and from what few accounts I have read, a lazy one so I'm guessing John had very little money when he came. The other end supports this since John worked as a laborer in a mill and on farms for a couple decades before he purchased land of his own in Iowa. So to answer your question, I have no idea how he supported himself that long getting to Iowa. Perhaps he got a job while waiting for the birth of his daughter?

R. Sherman - I hope she will grow up to at least 'understand' my passion for family history. My parents pretty much thought my genealogist step-uncle was a bit 'daft' for spending so much time of his retirement doing genealogy and it was his research that first 'bit' me. Now they appreciate it and wish he had done more. I think it a fact of nature that the closer to death we all get, the more we appreciate our past.

Vince said...

No, you are missing my question. The 900+ miles from home to Cairo then the 500 or so up the Mississippi would have been one of the quickest trips that one could take any place in the world. It would have been quick even in the time of the trains.
I suspect he was visiting and staying with family. Which is what I would find fascinating for it would indicate an entire society that ignored the political boundaries of the States and acted like those on the Rhine in Germany. Basically a different configuration, but perhaps far more real.
And the Miller in that sort of society was the local banker/speculator, certainly the contact with an outside world.

Ed said...

Vince - All research has shown that he was the only child in his family that left Pennsylvania and his father was the only child in his family that left eastern Pennsylvania so I'm guessing he had very little related family to visit. However, the German culture certainly had their own relationships in the communities so he may have knew people where he was stopping.