139 – A Look Back

The Civil War ended on May 9, 1865. The country was about to enter a period of prosperity and expansion.

But before we go forward, let’s take a look back at where we’ve been.

We began this series after the Revolutionary War. We’ll end after the Civil War.

Between those two conflicts, a lot had happened to our Jarvis grandparents. They uprooted their families, left their parents and hometowns, and went west. They found opportunities and hardships, met successes and failures.

These historic events are bookends to the everyday lives our Jarvis ancestors lived between them.

They were witness to the wave of civilization sweeping westward across the county. They went from almost total self-sufficiency on the Kentucky frontier to shopping in general stores that sold window glass, canned food, and factory-made clothing. They experienced amazing technological miracles – the telegraph, steamboat, railroad, and steel plow.

We have their census records, deeds, and death notices. We can view their lives through the prism of citations and history and current events of their times. But we can’t know their thoughts or dreams or fears.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to meet them in person and experience their lives for a while.

William and Margaret Jarvis (5G)

William Jarvis and Margaret Thompson had come of age during the American Revolution. It was the beginning of a new experiment, the republic of United States.

William and Margaret grew up in Harford County, Maryland. They married in 1780 just as the war was ending.

After the war, many residents suffered financial hardships and lack of opportunities to acquire land. William and Margaret made the decision to leave Maryland and go west into unsettled frontier. Around 1792 they made the journey over the Appalachians and down the Ohio River to the new state of Kentucky.

They were the fourth generation of Jarvises in America to migrate westward.

They built a log house, cleared some land, and forged a life in Pendleton County, Kentucky. This was the pioneer era in Kentucky. There were no roads, schools, or churches. Almost everything the family required was grown, raised, or made at home.

William and Margaret had a family of nine children.

As their children came of age, they faced many of the same issues in Kentucky that William and Margaret had dealt with in Maryland. Most of the farmland had been claimed over several decades of settlement, and there wasn’t enough land on the family farm to split among grown children and their new families.

In the 1820s, the children had grown, married, and once again emigrated west, most to Indiana.

William Jarvis died in January 1823 at age 62. Margaret stayed on the farm for a while and then moved into her daughter Sarah’s household.

Around 1846 Margaret moved to Indiana and lived with the family of her daughter Malinda Robinson. Margaret died in 1853 at age 90, and was buried in Benham, Indiana.

The era of William and Margaret had come to an end. But they left a large legacy.

In addition to our direct ancestors, there were siblings and cousins. Plenty of them. Look at the fan chart of William and Margaret’s children and grandchildren and their spouses. Nine children and 61 grandchildren!

Fan Chart – William and Margaret Jarvis – two generations of descendants

I know you can’t read the names, but it’s an amazing view of the progeny of just two people in two succeeding generations. Those highlighted in red lived within that “Jarvis World” circle around Cross Plains, Indiana.

Harvey Jarvis and Sarah Robinson (4G)

Harvey Jarvis was the youngest of William and Margaret’s children. He was born in 1803 in a log cabin on a farm by Fork Lick Creek in Pendleton County, Kentucky.

Sarah Robinson was born in 1802, a member of a large group of Robinson families in Pendleton County. The Jarvises and Robinsons made for convenient marriage candidates. Four Jarvis siblings married four Robinson siblings.

Harvey and Sarah married in 1822, both age 20. Shortly after, they joined several of their siblings in moving to southeastern Indiana.

Harvey was a stone and brick mason, having learned the trade from his father William. Several of Harvey’s brothers also learned masonry.

In Indiana, Harvey and Sarah raised a family of seven children, five of which survived to adulthood.

They moved from time to time, perhaps following mason work, or trying their hand at farming.

In 1865, Harvey and Sarah were living in Jefferson County, Indiana. There were many of Jarvis and Robinson and Benham siblings living nearby, within 10 miles of Cross Plains.

Joseph Jarvis and Martha Buchanan (3G)

Joseph Jarvis was born in 1830 in Ripley County, the third child of Harvey and Sarah Jarvis.

Martha Ann Buchanan was born December 15, 1835. The Buchanans were one of the earliest families to settle in southeast Indiana. They built and lived in one of the frontier forts, Buchanan Station.

Joseph and Martha married November 20, 1852 in Jefferson County, Indiana. They lived on a farm in the Shelby Township, Jefferson County, just a few miles from the town of Cross Plains in Ripley County.

Joseph, like his father and several brothers, was a brick mason.

By 1865, Joseph and Martha had four children. They would have four more in the coming years.

Newton Jarvis (2G)

Newton Jarvis was the second child of Joseph and Martha Jarvis. He was born October 2, 1855 in Jefferson County, Indiana.

In 1865, Newton was nine years old and living with his parents.

And a look ahead

We’ll pick up the next series of stories where we’re leaving here, in 1865. Let’s peek into the future.

Harvey and Sarah Jarvis will live out their years, and make a deal with one of their children for their long-term care. Pretty smart.

Joseph and Martha Jarvis will have more children. They’ll buy and sell a few farms in Jefferson County, but eventually move to the town of Rising Sun, Indiana, nineteen miles east of Cross Plains.

Newton Jarvis will come of age, marry, and have children. But several tragedies will befall his family.

Stay tuned.


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