It is part of my family's tradition that a particular ancestor of mine was a participant in the Battle of Tippecanoe, on November 19, 1811, but I am having a little trouble confirming it. Here are the pertinent facts from the time period...

Notes: My ancestors are named Ebenezer Blackstone and Sophia White. Sophia's father's name was John. Their first child was named Vestus. I will try to source most of the information below, but for the purposes of this question you may assume it is accurate.

1803 : John appears in Waterford Township, Washington County, Ohio in a census.

1810 : In January, Ebenezer and Sophia marry in Marietta, Ohio (close to the wife's family).

1810 : The newlyweds do not appear in the federal census. In particular, they did not settle in Marietta as the census records survived for that county. The rest of Ohio was lost, as was Indiana though not Pennsylvania.

1810 : John White is not listed as living in Waterford Township. In addition, there is some unsubstantiated lore that he moved to Athens county at some time. Perhaps it happened between 1803 and 1810 as this would explain the lack of census data for him.

1811 : (November). Someone with my ancestor's name participates in the Battle of Tippecanoe in Indiana. The strange thing is that the soldier was actually a member of a company of infantry of the Indiana Militia.

1812 : (January) Vestus is born, likely in Pennsylvania, but possibly in Ohio. (Sources differ here, though Vestus answered PA for the 1840 Census, so that seems most authoratative to me.)

1816 : By this time the family is reunited and is back in Ohio, in Athens County. A couple more kids have been born, though one likely died quite young.

The big stumbling block for me is the fact that the participant in the battle was in the Indiana Militia, and it seems unlikely to me that the newlyweds settled in Indiana at any time. It is another documented fact that some groups of soldiers stopped in Marietta on their way to the Indiana Territory where they were going to end up in the battle, so I was thinking that my ancestor could have joined them at that time (and letting his pregnant wife stay with family in PA) but if that were the case then would it even be possible for him to end up in the Indiana Militia? On the other hand, I've tracked everyone I can identify that shared a name with my ancestor, and I cannot identify the battle participant with any of them easily.

I guess if I had to boil this down to one question it would be : Under what circumstances, if any, could a resident of Ohio end up in the Indiana Militia in the year 1811?

Summarizing some of the comments...

For Sophia and Ebenezer to be "missing" in the 1810 census one of two things is true. Either they were living with another family and Ebenezer was not the head of household, or they settled in an area where the census data was lost. This could be Ohio (outside of Washington County) or Indiana.

To accept an answer for this question (though the discussion has been quite fruitful for me) I would like to see some authoritative evidence one way or another as to whether the Indiana Militia had members who were not residents of Indiana, as I think it most likely that my family did not settle in Indiana before coming back to Ohio. The population counts seem to indicate that there were probably non-Hoosiers in the militia, for if not then 5% of the male population of the state would have been involved in the battle. Still, I'd like something a little more authoritative.

  • Note for readers outside the US: the 1810 Census names heads of household only, so Dave's ancestor does not appear in the Washington County, Ohio schedules as a named head of a household. If they were residing in someone else's household, they would only appear in the counts of other people in the household by age. Unfortunately it takes the study of the entire community to see if a couple of unexpected people show up in a census household.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 3:23
  • Sometimes family stories morph over time, and it's possible that you did have a family member participate in that battle, but it is not the person you were told about. Start backwards, and study the person who was in the battle as if he were unrelated to your family, and see where the evidence leads you. Google Books can be a good source of information (lots of Government Printing Office materials can be found there, as well as local histories that were written closer in time to the events).
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 15:38
  • @JanMurphy : With respect to the 1810 census, it's probably not worth taking too much time to investigate the families in the area for added members. It's probably much more likely that the newlyweds were either missed (unlikely) or were accounted for in an area where the census data was lost. All of Ohio save Washington County was lost, as was Indiana. It's also of interest that the bride's father disappeared from the census between 1803 and 1810, suggesting he moved to a lost area. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 21:37
  • 3
    What if we asked the question: how many members of the Indiana Militia at the time of the battle were not native-born members of the Indiana territory? In determining how to answer that question you may find the answer to yours.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 1:50
  • 1
    If you want us to hunt for other sources, please edit the question to include a list of your sources and the name of the person who was supposed to be in the battle. +1 for the timeline and clear explanation of the problem. Also, it might be helpful to add your clarifications in the comments to the end of the questions; we aren't supposed to use the comments for discussions.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


If we ask the question another way -- "Did men from outside Indiana Territory fight in the Battle of Tippecanoe? -- then the answer seems to be YES.

The Wikipedia article Indiana in the War of 1812 says:

The native tribes who were part of the battle joined forces with the British in Canada at the onset of the war. Led by future U.S. President William Henry Harrison, American forces from Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky were able to turn the tide of war on land that initially begun badly for the United States.

(emphasis mine)

The introductory section has no citations, however, so to get more information, you may have to do some digging. The article Battle of Tippecanoe, 1811 on the website of the U.S. Army Center Of Military History says:

Along with the 4th Infantry, by October Harrison had mustered twelve hundred men, including one detached company of the 7th Infantry, a company of the Rifle Regiment (armed at the time with muskets), Indiana militia, mounted riflemen, and one hundred twenty dragoons from Kentucky and Indiana.

You can find out more about the men from Kentucky via articles like John M. Trowbridge's Kentuckians at the Battle of Tippecanoe, published in Kentucky Ancestors (2006) V 41-3, pages 125-147. While this article may not answer your question directly, it has a bibliography which is full of ideas for further research. In particular, Trowbridge cites three works by historian Virgil D. White:

Thinking about the pension files in these indices led me to the US National Archives's website at https://www.archives.gov/. In Prologue Magazine's article Genealogical Records of the War of 1812 (Winter 1991, Vol. 23, No. 4), author Stuart L. Butler gives us an overview of the holdings at NARA. He says:

Compiled Military Service Records. The great majority of soldiers who served during the War of 1812 were volunteers, or members of state militia who were federalized for portions of the war period. There were also volunteer units directly raised by the federal government. The service records of these soldiers consist of compiled military service records or those records of service that were compiled from the original muster and pay rolls by the clerks in the Adjutant General's Office after the war (Records of the Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94). The records are arranged by state or federal volunteer unit and thereunder alphabetically by name of soldier. A microfilmed index to these records is available on Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers who Served During the War of 1812 (M602, 234 rolls).

So the question I have is this: was the Indiana Militia federalized, in which case, could there be pension files at the National Archives? (Note that the project to digitize the 1812 Pension files is now completely funded; the images are being placed on fold3 and are free to view.)

Were the soldiers awarded Bounty Land as part of their compensation being in this battle? If so there might be records in the Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, also discussed by Butler.

The CMSRs are compiled from rosters and have little genealogical information, just like the roster linked to in the question. To get to enough information to tell if this is your ancestor, or someone else with the same name, you need records with information in them, such as a pension application or bounty land records, or diaries of people who served in the militia, which might be in manuscript collections.

If the Indiana militia was not federalized, any records that survive would be held at the state level. Investigate all states where your ancestor might have been living at the time he applied for a pension.

The Indiana Archives and Records Administration's page on Early Military Collections describes their holdings as follows:

Indiana Territorial Militia, 1811- 1813

Taken from an early index and some of the muster rolls of the Battle of Tippecanoe and the War of 1812, the Indiana Territorial Militia index is available as a part of the Early Military Index on the Indiana Digital Archives. All information has been transcribed. Due to gaps in some records, not all soldiers, particularly privates and non-commissioned officers may be listed. Digital Images of the Indiana Muster, Pay, and Receipt Rolls, War of 1812 indexed by the Indiana State Library are also available on the IUPUI Program of Digital Scholarship Webpage.

The muster, pay, and receipt rolls will be subject to the limitations noted by Butler -- there won't be any genealogically relevant information for you. But what happens if you study the militia members as a group, instead of as individuals? Can you find them in the census, or in local histories? Did anyone else come from Ohio? Is there a migration pattern which is similar to the one you've traced for your ancestor?

If you can find manuscript collections with diaries, you might get a lucky dip and find someone who served in the militia with your ancestor (or his same-name counterpart) -- which might lead to more clues, which lead you to the information you want.

Study all parts of your ancestor's life. If he had land, work backwards in the deed records until you can find the original owner. (Hypothesis: Could the family story have come about because your ancestor or someone in his family purchased bounty land from a soldier who was in the battle? The FamilySearch Wiki says the bounty land awarded for the war of 1812 was in "Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, and later, Missouri".) Then widen your search to his friends, neighbors and associates to see if you can find a group of people whose migration shows the same pattern as your ancestor's.

You may not find a single record which answers your question with direct evidence. It's very likely that you'll need indirect evidence and negative evidence to answer this question. Seek out posts from bloggers, local histories, and genealogical articles written by others whose ancestors fought in the battle, and see what resources they used and what references they cite. (See the lecture Inferential Genealogy by Dr. Tom Jones, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, for an example of how to use indirect and negative evidence to solve problems.)

Finally, one record type which is often overlooked when trying to fill out an ancestor's timeline are tax records. In his webinar "Using Tax Records for Genealogical Problem Solving", Dr. Michael D. Lacopo, DVM, reminds of the five Ws of journalism: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Genealogists are pretty good at the Who (name), When (time period), and Where (geographical location), but we tend to fall down on the What and Why. He suggests checking state statute books to find out what was taxed and for what purpose the taxes were collected. Judy G. Russell's presentation "How Old Does He Have to Be?" addresses the same point with a wider variety of records.

This may require old-school "boots on the ground" research at county courthouses -- tax records were generated at the county level. But usually the taxes collected had to be sent to the state, so check state archives to see if they have state copies of the records.

In areas and times where records are scarce, gather everything you can find and analyze all the records as a group.


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