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Weston Wagons West - Ep. J16 - The Kinnicks and the Westons chose to move further west as well

Updated on December 23, 2014
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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.

The families traveled down the Ohio on a flatboat

Men on a Flatboat
Men on a Flatboat | Source

The Walter W. Kinnick family continued to grow and the Weston boys grew up

A son, Joseph, was born to Walter and Susan Kinnick in March of 1839. He was followed by another son, Walter Watson, born in November 1840, bringing the total number of children in the family to 5. Down in Batesville, where Arly Weston was beginning to go regularly with and for his father to provide their services with the horses, the Triplett family was continuing to grow as well. James and Mary welcomed John in November of 1838 and Simeon in January of 1841 along with Rebecca in January of 1843 and Sarah Jane in February of 1845.

Jasper Weston, aged 16 in 1842, worked regularly north of Morristown, including for the Walter Kinnick family, as he began to envision his own farrier and blacksmith service, one day soon. At the Kinnick farm, Walter, Susan and their five children were joined by a daughter, Catherine, in April of 1842 and another son, William, in February of 1844. That spring, the family made the decision to take a boat trip down the Ohio River, with others in the area, and move to a new land of opportunity in Illinois. Jasper Weston decided this was his opportunity to seek new adventures, as well. With the approval of his family, Jasper, now an 18-year-old, packed up his farrier and blacksmith tools and boarded the boat with the Kinnick family and the others.

Walter's mother, Mary, and his wife, Susan, had their photos taken before they left (see Episode 15 for the images). This was a good thing to have done, as Mary died, in Batesville, within a couple of months of their departure. On the same boat with the Kinnick family and young Jasper Weston was another family, from the Virginia side of the Ohio River, that would interact many times with the Kinnick family over the years, in Illinois. These were the Townsend and Susan Fletcher family with their eleven children, ranging from 23-year old Mary to babe-in-arms, Elizabeth. They were out of Fauquier County, Virginia, and were also going to Bureau County in Illinois. Mary Fletcher had already married William Mercer and they had three children, themselves, that made the trip, led by 5-year-old Rachel Ann Mercer. They had read the same advertising broadsides, and now they were sharing a boat down the Ohio River.

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John S. Kinnick died too young

Tombstone of John S. Kinnick in the Forest Hill Cemetery of Wyanet, Illinois
Tombstone of John S. Kinnick in the Forest Hill Cemetery of Wyanet, Illinois | Source

There were calm times as well as perilous times on the journey to Illinois on the Ohio River

Boat trips such as that taken by the Kinnicks, Fletchers, Jasper Weston and others were not uncommon during 1844, but they were not without their challenges. The waters were fast moving. There were frequent islands to be negotiated around. More than three thousand flatboats descended the Ohio River each year. Once they made their way to the Mississippi River, the passengers transferred to a different flatboat that took them north, up the Mississippi to their destination in Illinois. Once off the boat, and on land, wagons were available from the speculators in Bureau County to get the passengers across the state to their final destinations.

Walter W. and Susan Kinnick initially settled on a rental farm in Dover Township, four miles north of the small town of Princeton. The Fletcher family settled initially on a farm just south of Princeton, near the Bryant family from Massachusetts (including the mother, sister, and brothers of poet William Cullen Bryant, who visited them, from time to time). Jasper Weston set up his farrier and blacksmithing shop on the west edge of Princeton. Baby William Kinnick had been ill most of the trip, and continued to be in ill-health. A few months short of his second birthday, William passed away in October of 1945.

Jacob Kinnick was the first child born to the Walter and Susan Kinnick family after their arrival in Bureau County, Illiniois. He was born in January of 1846. The passing of one son, and the arrival of another within a few months was sadly typical of life on the frontier. Meanwhile, in Princeton, Jasper Weston had met a Bryant cousin, Julia, and they were married in June of 1846; they were each 20 years of age at the time. Their first child, a son, they named him Peter, was born in September of 1847. A second son joined the Weston familial in March of 1849. They named him Everett.

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Walter W. Kinnick died at age 43

Tombstone in Forest Hill Cemetery, Wyanet, illinois
Tombstone in Forest Hill Cemetery, Wyanet, illinois | Source

Tragedy and joy continued to follow our families in their Illinois lives during the first ten years there

In February of 1851, another daughter, Margaret, joined the Kinnick family. They usually called her Maggie, practically from birth. John S. Kinnick, oldest son of Walter W. and Susan Kinnick, at age sixteen, was kicked in the head by a cow, and died from the injury in June of 1851. As they had hoped and planned for, Walter W., in October of 1851, for $185, purchased one-hundred sixty acres of land in Concord Township, from John & Hannah Dodge, who had received the original title to the land by Patent from the United States of America. The Dodge family had decided to move on to Iowa. This land laid about eleven miles west, and two miles south of the current Kinnick family farm in Dover Township. Their move was scheduled for March 1, 1853.

Jasper and Julia had a third son, they named him Marcus, born later in October of 1851. A few days later, on the first of November 1851, Susan Kinnick gave birth to another daughter that they named Fanny Susan Kinnick. As the family was gathering their things together to move to their new farm, on the 28th day of February, 1853, forty-three year-old, Walter W. Kinnick, suffered an apparent heart attack, and died. He was buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery, in nearby Wyanet, Illinois, next to his son, John S. Widow Susan Kinnick was left with 8 children to care for: Mary E., 18, Sarah Ann, 17, Joseph, 14, Walter Watson, 13, Catherine 11, Jacob 7, Maggie 3, and one-year-old Fanny Susan. After some delay, they did get moved to their own farm, where Susan spent the rest of her life.

The children of the Fletcher, Kinnick and Weston families all attended school in Princeton (which was renowned in later years as the home of the oldest township high school in the state, founded in 1867). In the Fletcher family, oldest son, William, nearly 24, married Lovina Holbrook in August of 1853. The oldest Kinnick daughter, Mary E., married George W. Harrison in the same month. Her sister, Sarah Ann, in February 1854, soon to be eighteen, herself, married Thomas Richmond. They made their farm just a mile south of the Kinnick homestead on Richmond land. Later in the year, Mary E. gave birth to her first daughter, Evaline, and Sarah and Thomas welcomed their first daughter, Almira, at about the same time. George and Mary E. had a second daughter, they named her Mary A., born in November of 1856.

A number of Kinnick family members were buried at Forest Hill Cemetery

Forest Hill Cemetery, Wyanet, Illinois
Forest Hill Cemetery, Wyanet, Illinois | Source

Historical notes by the author

All members of the Weston family are fictional, of course. Each Kinnick, Fletcher, Mercer, Bryant (except Julia, who is fictional), Richmond, and Harrison were historical figures, but were used here fictitiously. The relationship between the Kinnick and Weston families therefore were created fictionally for this story. These families (and the families related by marriage) were historical, but the details of their birth dates and early lives are filled in fictionally. They each played key roles in the life of Walter W. Kinnick, a 3rd great-grandfather of the author, and Walter Watson Kinnick, a 2nd great-grandfather. 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 Ohio and Illinois.
Information related to Princeton, Illinois, came from the Wikipedia article.
Also relied on was continuing family history research as this is a direct line ancestry of the author, of course.

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