Obadiah Stout: Turbulent Times

Obadiah Stout 1745-1830

Frankly, if it had been up to me, I doubt that the Ohio Country of the Northwest Territory would have been settled. Thank goodness for people like Obadiah Stout and his family.

Obadiah Sout, my 6th great uncle, child of Freegift Stout, lived a life on the front edge of history and the western edge of American civilization in the late 18th century. When he died, he left behind sons and grandsons who broke new trails even further west than he wandered. That makes Obadiah well worth investigating. But what a bunch of mysteries remain.

The Mysteries of the Basic Facts about Obadiah Stout

Researching Obadiah Stout resembles putting together a jigsaw puzzle after someone has spilled it on the floor and several pieces have rolled under the sofa. Among the things I do not know:

  • When did Obadiah marry?
  • What was the maiden name of his wife? She is known as Mary McBride or Margaret McBride, but Stout and Allied Families says she was a widow of a McBride. (I assume her name was Mary Margaret.)
  • Where were his first two sons born? Which relates to when did he leave New Jersey?
  • Where exactly did he go when he left New Jersey?
  • Although there are census records with age for a few of his ten children, I have no other proof of when they were born, and therefore the “where” is also in doubt. In fact, two of the children who are most frequently listed in family trees may not exist. And one source lists two others that I do not include for lack of corroborating evidence.

The Mystery of the Revolutionary War Service of Obadiah Stout

But if you think all of that is frustrating—Obadiah was the right age to serve in the Revolutionary War, and New Jersey was in the epicenter of the fighting.

The Daughters of the Revolution, in compiling a list of Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Ohio,1929, list him as a soldier. The Adjutant General of the State took their work at face value, and distributed the book of Ohio soldiers’ graves. However, their “proof” of Obadiah turns out to be a reference in a paper written by a member of a Historical society. And although I have not seen that paper, I’m willing to bet it was based on the book, A History of Adams County,Ohio (1900) the earliest source I have found for the information. That book, by Evans and Stivers, states “(Obadiah) was a native of New Jersey and had served in the Revolutionary War.” Later books use the same words.

Here’s the catch. The Adjutant General of New Jersey made a list of all the Jerseyites who served, and Obadiah is nowhere in that book. (1929) Obadiah moved to Pennsylvania’s “Redstone Country” between 1774 and 1777. So could he have first moved to Pennsylvania and THEN signed up to fight? Given the importance attached to service during the Revolutionary War, it seems odd that if he served, no one mentions with what unit, in what state, and for what period of time he served. But as I read of frontier life, maybe not so odd after all.

1776 Pennsylvania Counties
The county lines of Pennsylvania in 1776. From the book The Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organization and Operations 1776-1783 by Tressell.

Obadiah Stout Lived in the Wild West

He lived in Redstone Country in Western Pennsylvania after he left New Jersey, and the area, probably Westmoreland County, definitely classified as frontier. While many men were conscripted or volunteered to fight during the Revolution,they spent their service protecting settlers from Indians rather than fighting the British.

There is a reason that all of the information about Obadiah and his family is so hard to find. A book entitled The Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organization and Operations 1776-1783 brings home to me how rough shod life was on the Pennsylvania frontier. I read there, “…company personnel records virtually non-existent.” So there you have it. . Law enforcement, let alone bureaucracy, had not been well developed in this “Wild West.” And record keeping was not a priority in frontier Kentucky or Ohio, either.

The Mystery of When and Where He Migrated

Redstone Country

Obadiah left New Jersey with other Jerseyites who were heading west. At some point he married a widow, Mary Margaret (McBride), either in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Lacking proof of birth, the consensus is that his first son was born in 1774, but in which state? Some trees say that his third son was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, but again, I have no proof.

Many accounts say that Obadiah migrated to Redstone, Pennsylvania. If we look at current maps, that looks like a township just south of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. However, typical of the fast-changing geography of the 18th century, the complete story is complex.

According to Old Times in Old Monmouth,(1887), page 24, a wave of emigrants from New Jersey moved westward between 1780 and 1850. They emigrated to “Redstone Country.” Redstone Country consists of red rock lands in Pennsylvania and Virginia west of the (Allegheny) mountains.

It seems likely that the settlers who traveled from Monmouth County, New Jersey to Pennsylvania, were following Redstone Creek, which wanders north from the southern boundary of Pennsylvania toward the Monongahela River. The New Jersey emigrants might possibly have headed for the protection of a fort built in 1759.

Fort Redstone

From Wikipedia, describing the 1759 construction of Fort Redstone:

Geopolitically, Redstone was a frequent point of embarkation to cross the Monongahela River for travelers who had crossed the Alleghenies or were heading west via the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers by boat…Redstone Old Fort was the terminus of an Indian trail which settlers improved around the 1750. They afterward called it Nemacolin’s Trail, named after the Indian chief who assisted the improvement through the mountain pass. From this area, travelers could travel by water downstream on the Monongahela river to what is now Pittsburgh, or overland, by trails that later became Brownsville Road to the same destination The fortress site was chosen to guard and command the crossing point[notes 2] of the formidable east-west obstacle of the Monongahela River along the route of an Indian trail from the Potomac River—along one of the few mountain passes allowing traffic between the Ohio Country and the eastern seaboard cities.

The early settlement around the fort also came to be called Redstone, but eventually became known as Brownsville, Pennsylvania after its farsighted developer Thomas Brown. The use of “Redstone” devolved to apply to just one of its neighborhoods.

Father Changes Will

The more I read, the further I get from knowing exactly when and where Obadiah Stout traveled to and how he got there. A tiny clue exists. In 1763, his father had willed him land in New Jersey. A 1766 codicil to his father’s will changed that legacy to cash. Perhaps because he had traveled west?

Obadiah Joins Political Movement

Map of proposed state of Westsylvania 1776
Map of proposed state of Westsylvania from western Pennsylvania, parts of Virginia (later West Virginia) and Kentucky.

He could have gone by boat. He could have traveled by wagon across the Allegheny Mountains. The only solid clue lies in the fact that he joined a movement known as the Mercantile Movement in 1768, that organized around Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh. Their purpose, to form a territory known as Westsylvania, failed. Shortly thereafter, Obadiah moved on to Kentucky, across the Ohio River from the Ohio Territory.

Kentucky, on the Ohio River

Ohio Country- full

Note in this map, the red ex beside Blue Licks 1782. The settlement sits on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. In early 1780, Obadiah and his family–wife and 4 or 5 sons who had been born in New Jersey or in Pennsylvania–moved to Blue Licks, Kentucky on Limestone Creek. Stout and Allied Families, calls the location Stout’s Bottom. The only mention I found a mention of Stout’s Bottom in a list published in the 1929 of geographical points along the Ohio River. It states that Stout’s Landing (!) is at the end of the Lewis County Kentucky highway leading to (ta-da!) Stout’s Bottom. However, I don’t know that the unfortunate name survived into this century.

More Politics–Kentucky County Lines

From https://www.kyatlas.com/+historic-counties/1790.html

Another small clue to his whereabouts can be seen in two petitions he signed in the 1780s, along with citizens of Bourbon County, who wanted Limestone Creek included in Bourbon County. Bourbon County was formed from Fayette County in 1786. Mason County was formed from Bourbon County in 1789, so the citizens apparently tried to influence the legislature’s decision on boundaries. The Kentuckians submitted their petition to the legislature of Virginia, as That state still governed Kentucky. The LImestone Creek folks failed in their attempt to join Bourbon County. Whether that influenced his next move, or he was trying to find a safer place for his family, by 1790 he had moved again.

Since they had moved to Kentucky, the family had added the first girl, born in 1782, and two boys born in 1783 and 1784. The last two daughters also must have been born in Kentucky, in 1785 and 1787. The family now included ten children, and they lived a life under siege. The settlers rowed across the Ohio River and cleared land, hoping to be able to settle there once the hostilities with the Indians allowed. Islands in the great river served as pastures for cattle, and their families stayed on the safer, Kentucky bank of the river.

A fort called Graham’s Station provided a haven against Indian attacks, and the family was there in 1790 when a ferocious attack occurred. Obadiah’s 7-year old son and namesake, and his 6-year-old son, John, were both scalped and died.

Obadiah Founds a Town in Ohio Country

In August 1795, the United States signed a treaty with Indian tribes in the Northwest Territory, unleashing an influx of settlers. The situation finally had calmed enough that Obadiah moved across the river to what became Green Township in Adams County Ohio. Specifically, he settled on Putenney’s Fork of Stout’s Run, just about directly across the Ohio River from the unfortunate Graham’s Station. (No trace of that Indian fort where he lost two of his children survives.)

People called the little village that Obadiah started with his family, Stout. If the ages I have for his children are right, he and his wife took with him across the river eight children, ranging in age from eight to twenty-one. The History of Adams County credits Obadiah with being the first settler in Green Township, although the county did not have an official name for another two years.

As he did everywhere, Obadiah took an active part in community life. In 1806 residents of the county voted at Obadiah’s home. and Green Township got a name. His fellow citizens also called on him to serve on juries.

Obadiah’s son William (1778-1860), married in 1799 in Ohio (Marriage listed in The History of Adams County). He fathered the first white child born in Green Township, a boy christened Obadiah for his grandfather. The book on Adams County lists 1796 as the birth date for Obadiah Jr. which makes a good story, since that is the year they list as Obadiah becoming the first settler in the county. However since the same book says William and his wife, Margaret Bennett married in 1799, something is amiss. Either the date of birth of the little Obadiah is off–or Margaret and Obadiah did not get married for a while. The latter is reasonable, given the paucity of judges or ministers to perform the ceremony.

Obadiah Stout’s wife Margaret died in 1823 and Obadiah in 1830, both in Adams County, both buried in Stout’s Graveyard.

I am tempted to follow the trails of all the sons and grandsons of Freegift and Obadiah Stout in separate posts, but if I do, the exercise will sidetrack me from my exploration of my main line.

I did write about Aaron Stout and his family here. Aaron moved to Putnam County, Ohio around 1820, a generation after Obadiah’s move to Pennsylvania in the 1770s.

Jediah Stout, born in 1757, the son of Benjamin who was the brother of my ancestor Freegift, settled in Kentucky by 1785, but further south instead of along the Ohio River like Obadiah. I cannot guess whether they were aware of the move they had in common.

Just because I can’t entirely ignore them–here are two of the descendants of Freegift and Obadiah who founded towns in the West.

William Stout , Founder of Another Ohio Town

Plaque at the town of Rome, https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM2B9G_Rome_Adams_County_Ohio

Another William (1806-1859), the son of the William (1778-1860) mentioned above, perhaps founded the town of Rome in 1835, just down the road from the settlement called Stout. Since the post office came first, it retained the name Stout. The postmaster William Stout also ran a small store. Confusion reigns about which William founded Rome and which served as postmaster. This commemorative sign indicates the senior William, but I tend to believe the History of Adams County, that indicates it was the son who did both, because the book explains that William ran a small store with his brother John. William Senior’s only brother John was scalped by Indians as a child.

Elisha Pinckney Stout, Founder of Two Cities

Although most of William Stout Sr.’s children stayed in Green Township, Adams County, his grandson, Elisha Pinckney Stout, had enough adventures to make up for all of his aunts and uncles and cousins. Elisha, son of William Jr., had been born in Greene Township, Adams County, Ohio. Between 1854 and 1860, He moved to Kansas and Iowa, was a founder of Omaha; elected legislator in Nebraska territory; a gold-hunter at Pike’s Peak; a founder of Denver (where there is still a street named Stout) , and at the age of 25, upon returning to Ohio and getting married, he joined the Union Army where he served as a suttler. A suttler provided goods to soldiers as a civil traveling merchant. He established a prosperous life in the Cincinnati area. He traded in tobacco, had other business interests, and became a prominent banker. Elisha took his last journey toward the end of his life, and I have not discovered why, but in December, 1913 at the age of 79, he died in Los Angeles.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William Cochran (Doc) Stout, who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1822), who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1800), who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1773) who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1740) who is the son of
  • Freegift Stout, who is the father of
  • Obadiah Stout, who is the father of
  • William Stout, Sr., who is the father of
  • William Stout, Jr., who is the father of
  • Elisha Pinckney Stout.

Notes on Research

  • A History of Adams County; From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present. First Settlers of Greene Township; Nelson Wily Evans and Emmons B Stivers, 1916 Available on books.google.com and on archive.org as a free ebook. (Includes biograph of Elisha Pinkney Stout.
  • Westslyvania Pioneers 1774-1776; William C. Frederick III, Meching Bookbindery: Chicago 1991, Reprinted 2005.
  • Old Times in Old Monmouth; George Beekman and Edwin Salter, Self published 1887. Fairchild NJ: Office of the Monmouth Democrat, 1894. Available at archive.org in digital form.
  • Stout and Allied Families, Vol. 1, Harold F. Stout, Cpt. USN, 1951; self-published. Available at archive.org
  • The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in Ohio, Vol. II Assembled by D.A.R.; published by the Adjutant General of Ohio; Columbus Ohio: F. J. Heer Co. 1929. Available at archive.org in digital format.
  • West Virginia and Its People, Vol. IV; Thomas Condit Miller and Hew Maxwell; Lewis Historical Publishing Company 1913. “The Stout Line” , pg. 1103. I am citing this only because several Ancestry trees quote it. It has several errors in the content on the Stouts, and I do not believe it is reliable.
  • United States Federal Census Reports Green Twp, Adams Co. Ohio, 1820; 1830;1840;1850; 1860; Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio, 1870; Wyoming, Hamilton, Ohio 1880; Springfield, Hamilton, Ohio, 1900, 1910.
  • Tax Lists Mason County Kentucky, 1790; Green, Adams, Ohio, 1808;
  • Petitions of the early inhabitants of Kentucky to the General Assembly of Virginia : 1769-1792 Ancestry.com, Family Search.org
  • Find a Grave, Obediah Stout; William Thomas Stout, Sr.; William Thomas Stout Jr.; Elisha Pinkney Stout (This memorial quotes at length from sources regarding Elisha’s life.)

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4 thoughts on “Obadiah Stout: Turbulent Times

  1. Cathy Meder-Dempsey


    Twitter:
    I love being able to access books on the Internet Archive. Nice work putting this together. I was especially interested in the map of the county lines of Pennsylvania in 1776. County formation in Virginia was one of the first things brought to my attention when I began researching US families two decades ago.

    Reply
    1. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Agree, Cathy. I think Internet Archive is a hidden resource that not enough people know about–or know how to access the rich holdings. I have been using the county formation maps for quite a while, but I this is the first time that I had to do it for THREE states for the same person. Thanks for the compliment. The work was equally frustrating and fun.

      Reply
  2. Amy

    Amazing research, Vera! I feel like I’ve taken a walk through American history with Obadiah. He exemplifies the American pioneer—the spirit of adventure, no fear of the unknown. It was people like this that really created our country. Great work!

    Reply

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