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Friday, January 8, 2010

Westbound Day 5 Uniontown, PA to Springfield, OH 307 miles

About 3" of snow has fallen overnight.  The temp this morning is 11 with a windchill of -1.  Roads seem to be salted but the forecast is for blowing scattered snow all the way west.

So far this has been my high mileage day.  Despite the frigid temperatures and persistent snowfall and wind I had a great day.  I was able to visit the Fayette County Courthouse.  Since most of Uniontown was frozen closed there was little traffic and only a handful of people doing deed research.  Their records are well indexed and within only a short time I found a deed for the sale of land in Masontown by Shepherd B Grove to Charles Bohen recorded October 14, 1825.  This deed along with the baptism record (see post of December 13, 2009) provides further further evidence that Shepherd once lived in Masontown, PA and that is the likely location of William's birth.

Of course I had to visit Masontown.   It's a small town approximately 10 miles from Uniontown.  Jacobs Lutheran Church is a rural church surrounded by a cemetery. I would have never found it if I hadn't had my GPS which took me over some incredibly rural roads that had only been slightly plowed and the wind was causing drifts.  In many cases I was the first set of tire tracks down the road.  But the effort was worth it because not only did I get to see the site of William's 1822 baptism, I also found the graves of John Grove and his wife Mary Brown Grove at this cemetery.  These are William's grandparents although he was born long after their deaths in 1811 and 1812 respectively.

The Grove westward migration truly begins with leaving Pennsylvania.  My research, and this trip, confirms that my Grove ancestors prior to William and Sarah were concentrated in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland.  Based on the birth of their children I know that William and Sarah left West Virginia sometime between 1853 and 1857.  Since Franklin Shepherd was born in Springfield, OH in 1857 and Edward Dunlap was born in Urbana, OH in 1860 it appears they were the first Grove's to cross the Ohio River and head west. The topography of the land drastically changes when you cross the Ohio River at Wheeling WV into Ohio.  The hills, valleys, ravines, immediately flatten out and the mid-west farmland begins.  It's hard to imagine how any of those westward travelers made this journey without automobiles whether they were crossing the Alleghenies or Appalachians or Rockies or Sierra Madres it had to be a welcome sight when the land stretched out before them as compared to the mountainous east.   Once you cross the Ohio River at Wheeling, WV the land seems to stretch out before you and you can see the west horizon.

It appears William and Sarah, like many Americans in the mid-19th century, followed the National Road west.  By 1850 when the railroads reached the Ohio River from the east the National Road began its decline since there was now an alternative to reaching the west.  But for most travelers enroute west of the Ohio, the National Road provided the way.  It reached Vandalia, IL in 1839 so it provided a paved surface for William and Sarah to follow to Richmond IN.  Today that route is closely approximated by I-70.  Prior to the mid-20th century construction of the interstate highway system the National Road was US Route 40.  In places US Route 40 still exists and I exited I-70 for about 40 miles and followed US Route 40 toward Columbus OH.  All along this route you can see references to the National Road.  It provides the main street of many Ohio towns on its route.  You can see stone markers at certain major intersections.  It certainly is not a "fast" route west today since there are stoplights and many crossroads but I'm sure I made better time on it than William and Sarah and the kids, Cynthia, John, Franklin, and Edward.

Tomorrow I am bound for Richmond, IN, the birthplace of my great grandfather, Charles Miller Grove in 1866.  I will also visit Centerville, IN where William enlisted in the Union Army in November, 1862.

Thanks for the emails Michele Murphy, Julia Holloway, Shannon Jordan, Kathy Noren, Jim & Stella Mainero, John Burkhardt.