Part 1-No shortage of inconsistencies, 10 June 2011
A collection of inconsistent information written about about William Preston, the first sheriff of Williams County, Ohio.
Part 2-Driven to a more historical account (10 postings), 16 June 2011
Genealogy is a journey. The second article in this series presents particular information we used to break down our brick wall. The various postings mention how the records were discovered, questioned and evaluated to better identify Sheriff William Preston.
2.01 William and his Miss Butler (marriage)
2.02 He survives (census)
2.03 The Butler did it! (identifying our Butler family)
2.04 I do declare, and he did! (declaration)
2.05 Death plus 30 (probate)
2.06 Of brothers and soldiers (about John Preston at Ohio)
2.07 You do the math (about William C. Preston and the King)
2.08 One good deed (and the long road home)
2.09 Through the peep hole (the larger family)
2.10 Rummaging about Rumney
Part 3-Putting it all together - Part 3A
PART 2-Driven to a more historical account
2.06 Of brothers and soldiers
It would be more fun to play at the fort if a brother was tagging along. :)
Historians report Sheriff William Preston arrived at Fort Defiance with a brother, John Preston, who had married "a daughter of Judge Ewing, of Troy." John reportedly died about 1819.
Searching at Williams and Defiance counties, no reference was found to a John Preston probate, death notice, grave marker or marriage. Working with three clues, "Judge Ewing," "Troy, Ohio" and "John Preston," we hoped to and did identify a Preston-Ewing marriage (1814) recorded at Miami County, Ohio (graphic below).
Notice of John's marriage is the earliest Ohio record we have located about the two Defiance settlers, John and William Preston.
Unfortunately, the record contains nothing by which one could know the name of the bride's father or further associate John and William Preston.
Miami County, Ohio, is located south of Williams and Defiance counties. The Miami Valley Genealogical Index was one of the first aides I used to in the quest to learn about possible Preston-Ewing connections in the area. The index is a highly summarized listing of recorded events. There are three early Preston entries in the index--all about John Preston, (a) his marriage in 1814, (b) the purchase of a lot at Piqua in 1815 [said 2:413] and (c) the sale of a lot there in 1816 [said 3:50]. While long overdue, we have not pulled the two deeds indexed about John Preston, but Miami County officials have separately confirmed that no probate about John Preston exists there.
The hint of a relationship. Fort Winchester at Defiance, Ohio, is thought to have been abandoned by troops in the "spring of 1815," [Historical Marker] not long after which we believe William and John Preston settled there. We found clues the Preston men had migrated from the Piqua area about the same time settlement at Defiance would have occurred. Perhaps the best of the clues in my files is an 1816 news item by the Piqua post master, reporting letters waiting there for both John Preston and William Preston. (The circumstance of John's lot sale in 1816, as the last deed recorded there in his name, is also evidence of migration.)
Ewings of Piqua. A history of the area indicated Piqua was surveyed in 1807, when a reportedly seven homes there were, "occupied by John Manning, Edward Manning, Alexander Ewing, Benjamin Leavell, Arthur Brandon, Nathaniel Whitcomb and Joseph Porquette." [Thomas C. Harbaugh, Centennial History: Troy, Piqua and Miami County, Ohio (1909), p. 132] "In 1809, the famous Ewing tavern stood on Main Street. For some time it was the commercial center of Piqua. It was the first place sought by the new comer ..." [Harbaugh (1909), p. 137]
Alexander Ewing and daughter Sophia. From biographical accounts of the man and his family in Brice's History of Fort Wayne (1868) and Griswold's The Pictorial History of Fort Wayne, Indiana (1917), among others, it was clear Alexander had interests at Troy and Piqua, and had a daughter, Sophia/Sophia Charlotte, about the right age to have been our bride. Unfortunately, published biographicals, including comment by Sophia's son, William Ewing Hood, mention only two marriages, one to William N. Hood (1827) and, still later, to Smallwood Noel (1843)--we could find no published Ewing reference to John Preston or an earlier marriage. The son's statement called out five Hood children. [Griswold, p. 255-56]
The House of Ewing. In 1998, William Smith read Robert A. Trennert's Indian traders on the Middle boarder: the house of Ewing, 1827-54 (1981). There was again no mention of John Preston in the work, but Smith afterward wrote a memorandum relating Preston family tradition about the brothers' trading operation at Defiance (indirectly, as early as 1815 to as late as 1828) [Corbit, p. 92] with the development of the early Ewing trading operation. 
The footnote. Brief notice about "Captain John Preston" as the first husband of Alexander's daughter, Sophia Ewing, was found in the footnote to a published 1826 letter referring to "Mrs. Preston." [The John Tipton Papers ... 1809-1927.]
The Tipton editor's footnote cited "Genealogy of the Ewing Family, compiled by Mrs. Sam R. Taylor, in Indiana Biography Series, 4: 99-101." It was a long process (years) to locate the Taylor manuscript--found by state archivists indexed under Mrs. Taylor's given name, "Isabella H. Taylor" (graphic above; in relevant part). With the assistance of K. Yeuxdoux, member, Genealogists in SL, we identified Isabella Houghton Taylor as Mrs. Samuel R. Taylor and confirmed she was a co-author of The Pictorial History of Fort Wayne Indiana.
Taylor's 1929 manuscript cites "... [leading words not represented on the filmed image] a few data from my own knowledge gained through many letters from Emily [therein, Miss Emily Wright Hood, daughter of William Ewing and Mary Wright (Homans) Hood]. Taylor also refers to genealogical work done by Ewing relations (and their attorneys) to "break W. G.'s will."
Separately, Ewing family researcher K. Avery provided a death and burial date for "Captain John Preston," Sophia's first husband. While we don't know the source of Avery's reference to military rank or burial date, she shared her transcription (c1998, at the National D.A.R. library) of a 1904 William Ewing Hood affidavit in which John Preston was mentioned.
Taylor's references (1929) and the details in William Ewing Hood's 1904 affidavit suggest other documents referencing John Preston were extant and are yet to be discovered. Research continues to locate the original William Ewing Hood 1904 affidavit and other documents relied upon or referenced by Taylor and Hood. 
Like father, like daughter--another incomplete historical record. Taylor's 1929 manuscript reports John and Sophia's daughter, Eliza C. Preston (1816-1833), married, as his first wife, "Daniel Bearss." The same manuscript (p. 3) calls him "Dan'l Bearss, uncle of Cynthia Hill." Yet more, Taylor writes (p. 2) that William Griffith Ewing (1801-1854) "[m]arried Esther Bearss, sister of Daniel R. Bearss (uncle of Mrs. O. G. (Cynthia) Hill)." Working from the Taylor manuscript, we identified Eliza's husband as Daniel R. Bearss (1809-1884), a prominent man of Miami County, Indiana.
Sigh. Just as John Preston was not mentioned in several published Ewing biographical reports, Eliza C. (Preston) Bearss was not mentioned in the published biographical about her husband, Daniel R. Bearss. [Bodurtha (1914) 1:158-159] Daniel married second, Emma A. Cole, daughter Judge Albert Cole.
?Soldiers. Ewing tradition [Taylor manuscript (1929)] refers to, "Captain John Preston." Separately, Defiance, Ohio, area histories report William and/or John Preston served and/or were officers in the war of 1812. [Winter (1917), p. 405; Slocum (1905), p. 524] Family tradition about Sheriff William suggests he served.
It's certainly noteworthy to see Ewing documents that bestow a military title on John Preston, but modern Preston family researchers have not found evidence that William and/or John served in the Regular Army. Research continues about those who served in Ohio militias, especially those who might have been associated with Alexander Ewing during the war.
As well, research continues to locate more timely documentation about John Preston and/or something closer to primary information (statements written by his wife during her lifetime, or by his daughter, Eliza). Researchers continue to chisel away at the timeline for John and William Preston in the Piqua area. We can surmise the men were there early enough to have provided a courtship for John and Sophia--but were they at Piqua early enough to have participated in war of 1812 missions that involved others from Piqua?
"The growing town [Piqua] was considerably helped by the War of 1812 ... Piqua became a place of rendezvous during the war. Provisions were collected there and from there transported north. This brought a good deal of business to the town." [Harbaugh (1909), p. 133]
In the alternative, did somehow the war bring them to Piqua, or did they migrate there for some other reason.
Genealogy is a journey. Questions remain; research continues.
Summary. There is more to write about John Preston, but the short genealogical sketch in the graphic here summarizes discussions about his family for the purpose of this section 2.6.
For the fun of it ... early Piqua habits. In his 1909 work, Harbaugh included the account of Joseph Hilliard about some early Piqua habits. "The common dress of the young men consisted of hunting shirts made of buckskin and cut in notches in such a way as to make ornamental fringes, and pantaloons of the same material. Instead of hats they wore fur caps of their manufacture and made from the skin of fox or raccoon and adorned with the tail of the animal for a pendant. Boots and shoes were little worn, buckskin moccasins being worn instead. When fine shoes were worn they were ... much longer than the foot and terminated in a sharp point which of course turned up. Young ladies dresses were made of calico or chintz, but principally of calico. Their ordinary dresses were made of striped linsey and very often they had no other kind. There were no hoops in those days, our log cabins scarcely affording sufficient room for the modern style of female dress." [Harbaugh (1909), p. 133.]
Updated: 2013, to update fonts and incorporate GenealogyBank notice.
 Some early documents related to the Ewing trading operation are extant--part of 56 boxes/32 volumes of the William Griffiths Ewing and George Washington Ewing Papers held by Indiana State Library [my notes read "G. W. and W. G. Ewing Papers" (business records); earliest recorded date, 1801]. These records are mostly not indexed; they have not been reviewed by those researching John and William Preston.
 Since both provide secondary information, if we aren't able to drill down and find the documents Taylor consulted for the 1929 manuscript with the documents William E. Hood consulted for his 1904 affidavit (transcribed), we can't really know if they weren't working with the very same set of materials.