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Weston Wagons West - Ep. T3 - Fred Weston's family matures as the Preston's and Ewing's decide their futures

Updated on May 19, 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.

John Johnston

John Johnston, Indian Agent, of Fort Wayne and Piqua
John Johnston, Indian Agent, of Fort Wayne and Piqua | Source

Jacob Weston begins his apprenticeship

In October 1812, the youngest Weston son, Jacob, reached age 12, and began his farrier apprenticeship. In his case, however, he apprenticed with his older brother, Truman. The father, Fred, now 67, was beginning to take the advise of his wife, Winona. She had been urging him to slow down. Now he consulted with Truman and enjoyed watching his sons mature, together. Truman was now 22, and Charles was 20. Truman and Charles were now also doing most of the traveling to customers, activities that Fred had done in earlier years.

Truman had become very interested in competition in the region for business leadership in the "trading trade." Alexander Ewing and his sons had come to Troy from Detroit, as we have seen, hoping to resume the trading operations in which he had been engaged for many years, in different parts of the country. William Preston and is brother, John, were indicating strongly that they wanted to get into the field. They had many conversations with the Ewings, some in the presence of Fred and/or Truman Weston, suggesting possible partnership combinations. Alexander Ewing seemed to have access to capital that the Preston's did not. However, they had ambition and a willingness to work hard and succeed.

About this time, the surround circumstances changed. John Johnston arrived from Fort Wayne, where he had been an official U. S. government Indian Agent since 1802. Upper Piqua had been designated an official government agency site, and Johnston was the appointed to the Indian Agent post there. He was especially well know to the Indians in the region from his years of work in the field. Suddenly, the Ewing and Preston interests realized they were at an extreme disadvantage here in Miami County.

Johnston Farm and Indian Agency

John Johnston comes to the Piqua area

John Johnston was a contemporary of Daniel Boone. Johnston was an honorary pallbearer when the remains of Boone and his wife were reentered in Kentucky from Missouri. Before he was 17 years of age, he had driven an army supply wagon in support of General Wayne to Pittsburgh. By 1793, he had followed General Wayne into winter quarters at Fort Greenville. He found he like and did well on the frontier. This eventually led to his 1802 appointment at Fort Wayne.

Charles Weston made it his business to meet and work closely with John Johnston and his family as they began their new trading operations in Upper Piqua. It became a relationship that paid dividends over many years into the future.

Social life existed in Miami County along with hard work on the frontier

John Preston and Sophia Ewing seemed to be one of the unexpected "love at first sight" cases. John said he was not looking for love, but there she was: "The most beautiful thing I have every seen." Charles Weston, on the other hand, participated in every social event that he could, but love did not come his way. Such is life.

John and Sophia were married on the 13th of October 1814.

A few days later, Jacob Weston celebrated his 14th birthday with the receipt of his 3rd and 4th mare from his parents, just like his older brothers. Having seen the success of Charles in pursuing wood working, he decided to specialize in wagon building, with only additional blacksmithing skills that would complement the wagon building skills. Fred was pleased with his son's decision. Fred was more often in poor health, these days, than in good health. He had gotten past age 69, but questioned how many more he would see.

He was correct. He passed away quietly, in his home, with his wife Winona and all three sons by his side, in January 1815.

Wagons for the Westward Movement

A wagon like those Jacob was learning to build, perhaps.
A wagon like those Jacob was learning to build, perhaps. | Source

Trading opportunity decisions acted on my the Preston and Ewing families

Alexander Ewing had continued to work all his contacts in the government and in the trading community to seek the best opportunity for himself and for his family. He was one that now sought land speculation opportunities as well as trading opportunities. His three sons were in their twenties, now, as well, and prepared to continue any success he might be able to obtain.

With the arrival of John Johnston to Miami County from Ft. Wayne, to the west in Indiana Territory, Ewing had been looking for his own reasoning behind that move. Ewing saw Ft. Wayne as the better location. He soon found evidence that political influences were as important as any other in the move. With this information and the changing Indian environment, Ewing began to focus his attention on Ft. Wayne. With the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, Indian hostilities in Indiana Territory were effective at an end.

By early in 1816, William and John Preston had reached an agreement with Alexander Ewing to purchase/assume the trading business they had developed and to base their new operation at Fort Defiance, in Williams County, in the northwest corner of Ohio, a few miles to the north of Miami County. As these plans became fixed, Truman Weston made the decision to make the move to Fort Defiance, as well, so as to continue to work with the Preston brothers, but also to create his own life there. By this time, he felt secure that Charles, Jacob, and their mother would be able to continue the Miami County business and continue to have a good life there.

Definance, in northwest Ohio

Red dot shows location of Defiance, Ohio, where historic Fort Defiance was located
Red dot shows location of Defiance, Ohio, where historic Fort Defiance was located | Source

Historical note by the author

Only the Weston family is fictional. Other persons mentioned in the story are actual historical figures. Reference to persons, facts and actions are incorporated fictitiously but adhering as closely as possible to know historical facts. Information available from research about each was included in the story only to the extend that it moves the story line forward.

The Ewing family did move to Fort Wayne and are recognized as founders of the city we know today. The three sons were successful beyond any expectations. One source is provided in the link, below. The marriage of John Preston and Sophia is in the public record. John died in 1819. We do not know if they had split before then, or not. There is no record of Sophia being at Fort Defiance, although the presence of the Preston brothers is well documented. Sophia remarried in Fort Wayne and led a very full life, as well. Nowhere in extensive documentation examined to date is there any mention of her earlier marriage to John Preston. There has been speculation that they may have had a son, but no firm evidence has been found.

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