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Weston Wagons West - Ep D3 - George Kinnick Family Migration to Indiana

Updated on November 19, 2017
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

They crossed the Cumberland Gap

Cumberland Gap in winter
Cumberland Gap in winter | Source

George was determined to make the trip despite his infirmities

By 1850, George Washington Kinnick had reached the age of 64. His wife, Hannah, was 62. Much of his family was ready to make the move to Indiana, but George had suffered a ‘stroke of paralysis’ which affected him from the waist down so that he could not stand. He sat in a chair made especially for him with rollers on the legs which he propelled by using two canes. His children tried to discuss what to do with him, when he wasn’t around. Once, he heard them say: “What are we going to do about Pap?” He suddenly appeared on the scene and shouted: “”Pap’s going along!” So, the decision was made to harvest the crops, form a caravan of wagons, and head west across the Cumberland Gap, and make their way to Johnson County, Indiana - to “the Kinnick Settlement” there.

Pap - that is, George Washington Kinnick - made the entire trip riding all the way on a cot put in his own big covered wagon. He never left his cot the entire trip. The boys fixed a rope on a pulley of his cot so that when they came to a rough spot in the road, he could steady himself by holding on to the rope. His wife, Hannah, cared for him the entire way. The complete wagon train consisted of over 50 people, mostly close family, and a few close friends, as well. They included his married daughters and their husbands and children: Johanna Barlow, Sarah Sheek, and Penelope Boner. Also included were his sons and their families: Dempsey C. and William. George’s sister Susie Harris and several of her married children and their spouses and children. There was also a nephew of Hannah’s, Soloman Grimes, a single man. Several members of the Weston family also accompanied the wagon train among the other close friends and single men to help with the animals and wagons.

By the time they joined the wagon train, Jeremiah and Sarah Weston were each 45 years of age, Michael was 24, Polly 22, Frank 20, and Delbert 17. None of the Weston children had yet married. Michael, Frank and Delbert were skilled and experienced farriers and blacksmiths like their father. Polly had become a skilled horsewoman, and found that she intimidated many young men with her skills. The family carefully selected the members of their Morgan horse herd to take to Indiana with them and which to sell in preparation for the journey.

They got ham by butchering a hog

A modern whole ham
A modern whole ham | Source

They trekked from North Carolina to Indiana

The entire trip took just about a month for the ten wagons, accompanying animals, and large group of people, all who could, walked. About halfway through the trip, they stopped for a couple of days to butcher and dress three hogs so they would have ham, shoulder, sausage and bacon for the rest of their journey and on arrival. In order to accomplish this, they had brought with them the necessary provisions: butcher knives, big iron kettles, sausage grinders and five gallon jars for the lard, along with salt, pepper, sage and other seasonings. Their work was rewarded immediately with a sumptuous feast, to provide sustenance for the balance of the trip.

One other unusual experience was crossing a railroad track, that was still unusual, with the entire wagon train. They waited at a distance, to let a train pass, that would scare the animals, and then proceeded to cross, with no damage done. With the mountains behind them, earlier, the trek across Kentucky was relatively uneventful. Crossing the Ohio River by ferry boat took some time, but had become routine, with all the traffic now arriving. Once in Indiana, they continued north and west toward Johnson County in the south-center of the state.

Family tradition has it that George Barlow, husband of Johannah, driving the lead wagon, “stood up on his wagon, with hat removed and held high, shouted back, ‘WE ARE NEARING THE KINNICK SETTLEMENT!’ This news was shouted back from wagon to wagon until the last wagon was reached and their shouts died away in the night air.” But, being near nightfall, they were farther from the cabin of Jabez and his wife, Betsy Ann, than they realized. When they finally reached the cabin, the lights were out and the family was sound asleep.

They scattered to each find a farm on which to live

A country road through a farm field
A country road through a farm field | Source

They arrived at the Kinnick Settlement in Johnson County, Indiana

Not wishing to disturb the family, they circled the wagons and “camped out” in the farmyard for the night. In the morning, six-year-old James Thomas Kinnick, “Jim Tom,” was the first in the loft of the house to awaken and see their yard filled with wagons, horses, and people. “He didn’t know what to think,” his daughter reported, later in her book on the family. Quite a commotion and reunion followed, of course. How would you like to have 40 to 50 unexpected guests for breakfast?

The coming days after arrival of the wagon train and families from North Carolina were chaotic, of course, as different parts of the extended families and friends departed for temporary and permanent farms on which to settle themselves. Most of existing Kinnick-related farms were in Pleasant and Clark Townships in the northeast corner of Johnson County, Indiana. Many of the members of the wagon train focused on these two townships as they sought settlement farmland that might be available for them to rent or buy.

The Weston family quickly became aware of a fairly new, and apparently fast growing, village in the southern part of Pleasant Township, called Whiteland. They decided to make this village their home base, locating a property on the northeast fringe of the village where they could establish their blacksmith shop, headquarters their farrier services, and raise their Morgan horses.

Historical note by the author

All members of the Weston family are fictional, of course. All the Kinnicks were historical figures, used here fictitiously. The relationship between the Kinnick and Weston families therefore were created fictionally for this story. The George and Hannah Kinnick children are historical, but the details of their birth dates and early lives are filled in fictionally based on best available collected information. Each of the children were related to the author as second cousins, four generations removed. See the link, below, for more information on the author's genealogy blog. This episode, in particular, drew heavily on the work of Mrs. Waggener, cited, below.

Each of the relationships within which these historical figures appear in these episodes is totally consistent with known historical facts for each such person in the official records of Maryland, North Carolina and Indiana.

The author's historical perspective in this hub relied extensively on collaborative research done while compiling the 2003 KINNICK Genealogy Book Online …
 This was an update and revision completed on the 50th anniversary of the 1953 publication of: "A Genealogical History of the Kinnick Family of America" by Mrs. Nettie Edna Kinnick Waggener (self-published).

This episode is the third in the Dx series following the David Weston and the John and Ann Kinnick branches of the families.

Video Book Trailer


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