Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Ogden Family History

A few years ago, in preparation for a family reunion just like the one I recently attended in Madison early this week, I prepared a presentation on the family history. I have sort of fallen into the role of the family historian, gathering information on both sides of the family. Both the paternal Ogden and maternal Buchanan side of the family had interesting characters and stories. With the advent of the Internet, research several generations back into the family tree without leave my home office was quite easy.

I'll focus here on the Ogden family.

I went into the research project expecting, like other family researchers, to tell tales of famous relatives or at least brave military service by my descendants. Unfortunately that linkage was not there. There were two early noteworthy Ogden's - Pilgrim John Ogden (who came in the second wave of Pilgrims) and whose family settled in New England. Captain Amos Ogden is the other Ogden. Amos Ogden fought in the French and Indian War and led settlers from New York to what is now southwest Mississippi during the same period when my family arrived in that part of the country. But my branch of the Ogden family arrived from England landing in the South, with no connection to John "The Pilgrim" Ogden or Captain Amos Ogden appearing in any record.

Both of my parents' descendants arrived before the Revolutionary War. The Ogdens, in particular Richard "The Tailor" Ogden, settled in the Pee Dee Valley in northern South Carolina in 1740. In 1780, the Ogdens suddenly pulled up stakes and move to what is now southwestern Mississippi, before the state even became a territory. In 1780, a strip of land along the Gulf Coast, including the southern parts of what is now Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, was known as Western Florida.

In 1780, Western Florida was British territory. 1780 was a year known for revolutionary war battles in the Carolinas between Americans who supported the revolution and those who were supported British. The Americans loyal to the British crown lost the battles and many left. While a book entitled "History of the Baptists" suggest those who migrated from the Pee Dee Valley in 1780 supported the revolution, frankly I have to question that fact. Why would someone pick up and move from American territory to British territory if they were supportive of the revolution?

The book also details the story of an Indian attack as the Ogden descendants were making their way to the Mississippi delta. It seems there were three boats going down the Holston River. The Baptist preacher Curtis was in the first boat, the second boat had the Ogden family and the third boat contained people who were unidentified. The third boat floated further back than the rest because the occupants had small pox. The Indians attacked the Curtis boat but were repelled. The Ogden boat floated by while the attack took place apparently unnoticed by the Indians. The Indians turned their attack to the third boat killing everyone on board except for one person they took hostage. The Indians reward was to also contract small pox.

It's interesting to think if the Ogden boat had not escaped the attack of the Indians, yours truly wouldn't be here today.

Arriving in the Natchez area of now Mississippi, the Ogden family set up a homestead. The Western Florida area was shortly thereafter acquired by the Spanish and several years later claimed by the United States. (Mississippi became a state in 1817) Having arrived as one of the first settlers, the Ogden family remained in southwestern Mississippi, in what is now Wilkinson County for the next 70 years. If you go there today, Wilkinson County is very rural and one of the most poor counties in the country. In 2002, the per capita personal income in Wilkinson County was $16,041, while the national per capita income that year was $30,906. 68% of the population in Wilkinson County claims an African-American ancestry.

My ancestors owned a number of large farms in Mississippi (I'm not sure how large makes a "plantation." Inventories to wills also indicate they owned quite a number of slaves. So much for the proud Ogden family history.

The Ogden family suddenly pulled up stakes in 1850 and headed north. Around that year the family matriarch Kesiah (Kizzy) Ogden moved the family from the delta to the Bedford, Kentucky across the river from southwestern Indiana, and the Madison community which I claim as my home. There they lived for the next 100 years. Around 1950, my father met my mother and relocated to the Madison, Indiana area, eventually residing on a small farm outside of tiny China, Indiana in southwestern Indiana. There I was born.


M Theory said...

You sure were a long road getting here, Paul! It was worth the effort.

It is awesome that you know your family lineage so far back. It would make an interesting screen play or novel.

Had Enough Indy? said...

That is cool. Thanks for sharing.

Paul K. Ogden said...

HFFT, I was surprised how easy it was. Fortunately for my research efforts, we came over here early and there was a lot of info on line about them.

We plan to go to Mississippi to check out the land we owned and see if there is any history we can uncover.

Lane for Congress said...

Isn't Madison in southeastern Indiana? just saying...

M Theory said...

Take a metal detector with you to Mississippi. you never know what you might literally "turn up".

Annie said...

"Both of my parents' descendants arrived before the Revolutionary War"

Aren't YOU one of your parents descendants?

Just sayin' (: