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Weston Wagons West - Ep. T5 - Truman Weston moved to St. Joseph Township, Williams Co, Ohio for a new life

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.

Location of Williams County in Ohio

Location of Williams County, Ohio. Michigan lies to the north, Indiana to the west.
Location of Williams County, Ohio. Michigan lies to the north, Indiana to the west. | Source

St. Joseph Township offered a number of incentives

St. Joseph Township was located about 25 miles northwest of Defiance, just outside of The Great Black Swamp region. Truman had visited several times with William Preston as William sought a farm to purchase and raise his family. Truman was also ready to find a place to grow his herd of horses, and, perhaps, start a family of his own. On a recent trip, he had met, for a second time, Esther Lawton, the daughter of one of the pioneer farmers in the area. On a later trip, Truman had also identified a piece of land with good pasture where he felt he could be successful with both his farrier/blacksmithing business and raise his horses. It was a few miles north of the one-quarter-section farm that William Preston had purchased.

After much planning, with help of neighbors in the community, and each other, in the Spring of 1831, both the Preston family and Truman Weston made their final move to St. Joseph Township. Each had made sufficient trips to their future homes during the ensuing months to have houses and farms ready for full-time living. The Preston family, of course, included 5-year-old Billie and 4-year-old Alice. They had another boy in 1829, but he only lived a little over a year. His health problems had contributed to the delay along with other issues.

Almost immediately upon arrival, a family and friends wedding was held at the Lawton farm home for Truman Weston and Esther Lawton. By this time, they were ready to start their new lives, together. Her parents had been a big help with the move by Truman and the Preston family.

Township map of Williams County Ohio

Map of Ohio showing townships and towns
Map of Ohio showing townships and towns | Source

More children join each family

William and Asenath came to love their new farming life and their neighbors very much. It was a good time for them, as Billie and Alice grew. In December of 1832 they were joined by twin boys, Henry C. and George W. Life on the farm worked well for them all.

Over at the Weston Ranch, a daughter, Phebe, was born in August of 1832. Esther was very happy to have her parents and family nearby with the arrival of their first child. The ranch was doing well with the horses Truman had bred and raised finding great favor among newly arriving neighbors who were in the market for horses to work their farm land. Truman had begun to breed his horses more for the complex duties on the farm in recent years whereas in earlier days he had focused more on saddle horses, first for soldiers, and then for traders who began to ride more rather than walk.

In February 1835, Asenath gave birth to a young son that they named James P. Rather than referring to him as Jimmie, they always called him James P., and, sometimes, "J.P." for short. He was a wiry thing, very active from the moment of his birth. A couple of months later, Esther also gave birth to a boy, whom they named Martin. Before long, however, he was called Martie, and that name seemed to be the one that stuck.

The Farm Horse

Farm horse similar to those Truman was developing.
Farm horse similar to those Truman was developing. | Source

Sadness and tragedy befell the community

Although William Preston had given up his short law enforcement career, having been Sheriff for those four years still took up more time than he would have hoped as he worked to establish his farming life. Two or three times a year he would find it necessary to return to the Defiance area.

The positive side to this dilemma, however, was that at least once a year, he was able to take Asenath to see her father, who now lived by himself a few miles west of the little village of Florida, along the Maumee River, downstream east of Defiance. William often visited him even when Asenath was not able to. The two men had maintain a close friendship in addition to their kinship. They enjoyed exchanging "war stories" of their colorful lives on the frontier.

However, in November of 1830, the Preston's received word that John Butler had died. His wife, Lena, had died a few years earlier, and his sons seemed to have scattered to the winds. He had left a will, and told a neighbor as well as William, that William had been named to settle his affairs. William made the winter trip over and carried out those duties, as Asenath was in ill health at the time as well as the unfavorable winter weather conditions.

In August of 1837, William was called again to return to Defiance to testify in an ongoing court case. This time, however, he did not return alive. His body was found in the Auglaize River, just below the old fort grounds. The cause of death never was determined. Truman Weston volunteered to go bring the body home. They buried him in a carefully laid out plot in a sheltered corner of his farm. Besides his wife, he left five young children: Charles William (Billie), age 9, Alice, age 8, Henry and George, not yet 5, and little James P., just 2 years old.

John Butler Commemorative Marker

Cemetery marker placed by the Sons of the American Revolution to honor John Butler, Revolutionary Soldier
Cemetery marker placed by the Sons of the American Revolution to honor John Butler, Revolutionary Soldier | Source

Historical note by author

Ten or so years ago, the Sons of the American Revolution placed a stone for John Butler in the Florida, Ohio, cemetery. The author has a VHS video tape of the ceremony with Revolutionary re-enactors; I didn't get to be there, but a cousin was. I have a copy of the program for the day.

The Lawton family and the Weston family are fictitious, of course. All other characters and events are shared fictitiously, but adhere to known facts as closely as possible.

In 1845, Defiance County was split off into a separate county; St. Joseph Township remained with Williams County. All of the land south of St. Joseph Township made up Defiance County.

Following William's death, the Preston farm land became entangled in law suits that lasted 35 years among the family members and interests from whom William had originally purchased it. An interesting side note is that this land in a few years actually became the site of the town of Edgerton. The single plot where William Preston was buried, became a part of the community cemetery.

And life goes on…


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