Search billions of records on

You Are Here > Home > Indiana Bios > Ransom & Rebecca (Strahl) Smith

Ransom & Rebecca (Strahl) Smith

Submitted by: JP Smith
Hamilton County

Ohio and Ransom nearly had the same birth year. President Thomas Jefferson signed the proclamation allowing part of the Northwest Territories to become the 17th state in the Union, on March 1st, 1803. He was born to Rosanna Foster and Nathan Smith of Vermont. His parents cleared land for farming in what was called the Duck Creek Allotment. He no doubt enjoyed being a youngster, scampering about the farm buildings and discovering the mysteries of the dark forest. As he grew in age and stature, he would have assumed more responsibilities of the farm; as he seems to have been the first male born to Rosanna. The work of clearing land must have been brutal on father Nathan, until oxen could be purchased on the frontier. Even when the Cumberland Trail was pushed through to Zanesville, that was still several miles north and west of their farm.

As teenage Ransom learned to farm and raise stock, he no doubt thought about the day he would have his own farm, wife, and family. Entertainment in those days, consisted of the occasional trained musician and story telling. Ransom and his siblings were regaled by thrilling stories of their father and Uncle Abraham's adventures as they followed trails from Vermont to the bank of the Ohio river where they made a raft. Putting all they owned on the raft, they made it to Duck Creek and the little village of Marietta. The destination was land their father was given for his Revolutionary War service. They may have embellished their story, adding a few skirmishes with Indian war parties as they trekked north through the woods.

It is unknown just how it happened, the moment and place that Ransom and Rebecca (who was one year older) first glimpsed sight of each other. But he must have travelled many miles as he courted and then married her on February 8th, 1828, 20-odd miles east in Belmont County. They began a family and worked for themselves as the kids came along, 1, 2, 3. He bought 74 acres in the Northwest quarter of Section 3, on September 8th, 1835. Whether it was the adventure stories, or seeing the emigrant wagon trains moving through Zanesville, the young couple decided to sell out to one John H. Seely on Halloween,1838 and join the westward movement in 1841. Mother and widow Rosannah also sold out to Mr. Seely at the same time and likely tucked all their possessions and the grandchildren into four covered wagons and pulled away headed for Zanesville and west to Indianapolis.

Daughter Lavisa, later retold the family story of the four wagons taking four weeks to make the trip. It is likely they used oxen to pull the wagons 15 to 20 miles a day except Sundays. They probably enjoyed traveling and camping in the woods with other emigrants, the kids playing tag along the streams. The Cumberland Trail (later part of the Great National Pike), took them right into Indianapolis town. He bought 160 acres in Hamblin township, Brown county on January 9th,1841. That was the northwest quarter of Section 25. On July 27th the following year, they sold that property to John McIlvain for $350 and headed north to Hamilton county and the White river. Ancient Delaware (Lenape), Miami (Twatwa) and Pottawatomi Tribes were pressured to leave their eastern lands and some have lived for untold generations in the White River drainage. As they moved into the area they found ceremonial earth mounds built by the mysterious Adena/Hopewell culture near present day Andersontown (named for Chief Anderson). At the beginning of the 1800's, these indigenous Indian tribes occupied the White River (Wapihani) Territory from Munsee Town to Strawtown, (named for Chief Straw). As the cultural tsunami of settlers swept westward, the native peoples were unable to hold on to their lands, finally ceding them in the 1818 Treaty at St. Mary, Ohio. In 1820 the first white man (Henry Shatterly) was born in the area. Possibly the great emigration of devastating squirrels that moved through the country in 1826 caused Zenas Beckwith to build the first brick house in Perkinsville the following year. In just a few years the 1830 Hamilton County settler population stood at 1,705. At the time father Ransom brought the family north to the Duck Creek Settlement, they would have traveled on the Indianapolis- Ft. Wayne road, built on the existing Indian trail shadowing the White River. There was a high probability the first family home was log construction since there wasn't a sawmill active in the area for a time. Some farmers first used the Brown & Davis mill for their grain grinding needs. The tub mill was located at Snellson's mill race, located a mile and a half west of Andersontown on the White river. By 1867 the mill was called Moss Island Flouring Mills. Additionally, this was an important landmark in the area because of the 5 cent toll road to cross the mill pond dam near the grist mill on the river.

Rebecca unexpectedly passed away on February 20th, in 1853. That may have explained why Ransom was called to the Ministry. He and another, built and founded the Hopewell Church. It was located a little south of where daughter Lavisa had written that he bought land (that Clint Lower later owned) bordering John Harvey, located in Section 13, on the 1866 White River Township, Hamilton county, plot map.

Sometime during the period, Ransom met a young widow, Nancy Baldwin. Nancy was the sister of Lavisa's husband, Eli Baldwin. Nancy was previously married to Ariel Beeson, and had a son named Monroe Beeson, born 1853. Ransom married her February 9th, 1856 and they set up housekeeping together, he in the fall of his life, she in the summer. It may have started as a marriage of convenience with the 29 year difference in their ages; but along came Harriett in 1857, and Hannah in 1859 and Eddie in 1868. After a move to the Lathrop area in Clinton County, Missouri, along came the twins: Asa W. (named after her father) and Mary E. in 1870. The twins died the same year and Ransom two years later. The three of them rest in the Harlan, Missouri cemetery. Upon the passing of Ransom Sr., Nancy took in boarders to provide Eddie and Harriet a home.
Copyright J.P. Smith, 8/2005

Karen Dismore Sprunger supplied many details on Ransom's family, including the surprise that he was married twice. 6/04/2004.

Ransom Smith was referred to as John Ransom Smith by his daughter, Lavisa Smith-Baldwin. This seems odd, as he had a brother with the first name of John. We have found no other record that his name was John.

From Augustus Finch Shirts 1901 book, page 131- 133:
"The Newby and Carey settlement from the west line to the east line of the township, and north from the Strawtown settlement to the Ault, Leeman and Ransom Smith settlement. These people lived pioneer lives in pioneer cabins; came to and conquered the wilderness and made it bloom and bring forth an abundant harvest."

"North of this settlement in 1838 George, William and Cornelius Leeman settled between the present site of Omega, and Aroma, Harvey, Ault, Smith...constituted the settlement at the north end of the White River Township. These men built the regulation cabin and began pioneer life in the same manner that other settlers did. In that township they did their milling at Perkinsville and their trading at Strawtown. This neighborhood attended church at three different places. Harvey was a Quaker. A Quaker church was built on his land at the date unknown to me. The Leemans and all persons in that neighborhood believing the doctrine preached by Alexander Campbell, attended meetings held by that denomination in a log church on lands owned by Rev. Blount near the north lie of Hamilton County. They continued to attend these meetings until the Christian Church was built at Omega. A cabin was built for the United Brethren Church on the lands of Henry Ault. Services were held in that cabin for a number of years. They were finally discontinued. What was known as the Ironwood Seminary building was built upon lands owned by Cornelius Leeman at the time, but afterwards sold to Mr. Harvey. Jabez Brown built this house with money raised by subscription. He was the first teacher therein. This school building was largely patronized and was the best building for school purposes at that time in the norther part of the township.

The men composing the neighborhood herein spoken of were of the hardy pioneer class. They found plenty of hard work to do and were willing to do it, and their labors were crowned with success."

Grandfather Ransom left a message on his original tombstone for us: "Friends adieu, prepared to die I gladly home to Jesus fly."