Wednesday, February 22, 2012

There Ought to be an Ott

         The mother of Lelia Clingman Humphries Amick was Lucinda Ott who was born and grew up in Greenbrier County. Not much family tradition has been handed down from Lucinda's family, but her father was Michael D. Ott, and her grandfather was Michael Ott, Sr., who has a significant history in Greenbrier County.
         The stories of the Ott family of Greenbrier County begin in 1798 with the first documented record of Michael and Catherine Ott.  On 27 August 1798 in Orange County, a marriage bond was posted for Michael Ott, who was born around 1773 in Virginia[1], and Catherine Pence, who was born about 1778 in Virginia[2].  In the 1880 Federal Census Michael’s children gave the birthplace of their father as Prussia.  There is no evidence that he was born in Prussia (or evidence that he was not).  Perhaps he told stories of his father or grandfather from the old country so that his children always thought of him as having come from Prussia, or perhaps he came with his parents as an infant to America.  In all other records, Michael’s birthplace was listed as Virginia

Prior to this marriage several events are mentioned in official records in Orange County that concern a Michael Ott.  While it is likely that this is the same Michael Ott, it is not possible to say that all of them concern the same man. 
Chalkley’s Chronicles, a history of the court records in northern Virginia, report that on 15 September 1795 in Orange County, Michael Ott is preparing to leave the state and cannot continue to be the guardian of an orphan, Margaret Fulwider.  Michael Ott would have been about 22 years old at this time.  Margaret chose John Ott (relationship to Michael not given) to be her guardian.
In Orange County on 25 April 1798 in a deed which transferred land from Henry Ott to John Ferrell, mention is made of a line running between the land of Henry Ott and Michael Ott.  In the research of Jerry Ferrell, Michael Ott of Orange County is listed as the brother of this Henry Ott who leased land to John Ferrell.  According to the Ferrell research, John Ferrell was the first of these three to arrive in Orange County when he purchased land outside Stannardsville.[3] 
The research of Jerry Ferrell indicates that Henry Ott of Orange County was the son of John Ott.  Henry was born 15 June 1770 in York, Pennsylvania, and died 8 September 1840 in Rockingham County, Virginia.  His father was John Otte.  Henry married Margaret Ferril in Rockingham County 21 April 1790.  Henry was under 21 years old, so the consent of his father was required.  John Otte signed in German, as did Henry. 
Henry Ott, the son of John Ott, was apprenticed to John Miller (who came to Orange County with John Ferrell) in the 1780s and is supposed to have met his wife while apprenticing.  John Miller purchased land and released the deed to Henry Ott, who first appeared on Orange County tax records in 1795.[4]
            In April 1798 in Orange County a bill of sale is recorded from Henry Ott to Michael Ott for a cow and her calf, one cow, a yearling, one horse, and one sow with eight shoats, three basins, three dishes and six spoons, three pots, a Dutch oven, tea kettle, a skillet and frying pan, a chest, a table and three chairs, two plows, a lock chain, and two flat irons. 
           The Ferrell research concludes that since Henry Ott’s and Michael Ott’s birthdates are only three years apart, they are probably brothers.  Considering the relationship between Henry and Michael (residing next to each other, sale of personal property) and the citation of Michael and John Ott in Chalkley’s Chronicles, it's probable that John Ott was Michael Ott’s father.   In further proof of this, DNA testing conducted on a descendant of Michael Ott, Sr., and a descendant of Henry Ott, there was a significant match which indicates that the two men were probably brothers, making John Otte the father of Michael Ott, Sr.
Henry Ott relocated from Orange County to Montgomery County, Virginia, which was the reason he sold his furniture and farm equipment to his brother, Michael.  Henry Ott moved to Montgomery County with his brother-in-law, George Ferrell, and in 10 years he was living in Kanawha County, Virginia.[5]
            Then in August 1798 Michael Ott, who was about 25 years old at the time, married Catherine Pence, with William Campbell signing the bond for Catherine.  On 1 April 1799, Michael received a land grant in Orange County for 250 acres on some of the branches of Blue Run.  The deed describes the land as adjoining the property of Jacob Holesapple and John Douglass.  The southeastern line falls on the south side of Piney Mountain.  Blue Run is a stream in the southwest section of Orange County near the town of Somerset, which sits today among flourishing farms and rolling fields.  
            The parcel of land in the grant was the object of a lawsuit (250 acres of land adjoining J. Holsapple) which mentions that Michael Ott obtained his patent “sumptitiously” (perhaps a transcription error for the word “surreptitiously”) during a controversy between Benjamin Johnson and Capt. James Barbour concerning several tracts of land.  The mention of Capt. Barbour indicates that Michael’s land may have been located near Barboursville which is in the area of Blue Run.    The Madison-Barbour Rural Historical District describes the area:
 “. . .rolling, semi mountainous terrain broken periodically by broad stretches of fields and pastureland.  A web of 18th- and 19th-century roadways offers expansive views of unspoiled pastoral scenery. For more than two and a half centuries the area's gentry have exhibited their wealth by erecting some of the state's most impressive country houses. Sprinkled through the region are several 19th-century hamlets including Tibbstown, Barboursville, and Somerset. The district's name refers to the area's two most prominent landowning families, the Madisons and the Barbours, who were responsible for its two nationally significant plantation complexes -- Montpelier and Barboursville. The district also contains more than 200 contributing dwellings in various national styles and vernacular forms reflecting a broad socioeconomic spectrum.”[6]

Thomas Barbour settled in the area in the mid-1700s.  The Captain James Barbour mentioned in the law suit concerning Michael Ott’s land built a home that was designed by Thomas Jefferson.  Captain Barbour served as governor of Virginia from 1812-1814.   The Barbour Estate is now home to a vineyard.[7]  The land which Michael Ott obtained by grant in Orange County was part of a legal dispute in Barbour v. Rawlings that was settled in court on 21 January 1804.[8]  James Barbour had possession of the land at that time, but a Mr. Rawlings also laid claim to the land.  The land was surveyed and the suit settled in 1804.
By the time this lawsuit was filed and settled on 21 January 1804, Michael Ott had purchased land in Greenbrier County.  John Comer sold 185 acres to Michael Ott on 26 July 1803.  The deed describes this parcel of land as lying on the Greenbrier River and adjoining the land of Frederick Comer, Henry Holesapple, Thomas Edgar, and Jacob Kuhn.  Thomas Edgar was known to have property lying in and near the present-day downtown Ronceverte area; he built a mill in the area that helps to pinpoint the location of his tract of land.  Michael Ott’s land ran in a north east direction with part of it lying along the Greenbrier River and some of it crossing the river to a steep hill side.  Edgar’s land was to the south of the parcel, and Holesapple’s land was to the northwest.  This would have placed Michael’s land between present-day Ronceverte and Fairlea with the river on the southeast border.  In the 1840 census Archibald Edgar (son of Thomas Edgar) and John Stuart (son-in-law of Michael Ott) appear on the same page as Michael Ott and David Ott indicating that they all lived in the same vicinity. 
Michael Ott appears on the Greenbrier County tax list for 1805 living in the Sinking Creek District.  In 1806 a daughter, Elizabeth Ott, was born.[9] 
            Michael and Catherine had three children who were possibly born in Orange County.  Julia A. Ott was born in 1800 in Virginia.[10]  William Ott was born in 1801, also in Virginia.[11]  According to the family Bible of Michael D. Ott, he was born 5 December 1802.[12]   
            On 26 September 1807 (entered in court 26 April 1808) John Mathews granted Michael Ott a deed of trust and indenture for the sum of $222.50.  A deed of trust was basically a mortgage that Michael would have had to repay by a certain date or a lien against his property would require that the property be sold to repay the debt. 
Michael also appears on David Hanna’s tax list in 1810 with one white tithable (a white male over the age of 16), no slaves, and two horses.
Although no documentation has been found for the birth date of Michael and Catherine’s fifth child, Susanna Ott was probably born sometime between 1810 and 1820.  Census records before 1850 did not include each family member by name, but there was a female in the Ott family in 1820 and 1830 whose age indicates that she was born between 1810-1820 (in 1820) and 1810-1815 (in 1830) and who is unaccounted for in other censuses.  Michael Ott signed the marriage bond for Susanna Ott in 1832 when she married John Stuart, and she is probably the female that was born 1810-1815.
David Vitalis Ott was born 17 May 1810 to Michael and Catherine Ott.  Michael and Catherine sold their property in Orange County in April 1812 to James Lemons or Landrum.  The deed of sale indicates that Michael and Catherine Ott reside in Greenbrier County so that the deed documents that the Otts from Greenbrier are in fact the Michael and Catherine Pence Ott found in Orange County records. 
At the time the Greenbrier Valley was being settled, the United States was only about 34 years old, and its future was doubtful.  After years of conflict, the United States declared war against Great Britain on 18 June 1812[13]  The war concluded in 1814 with the Treaty of Ghent, but Andrew Jackson fought the British in January 1815 in New Orleans.  The United States lost only 8 soldiers in that battle compared to British losses of 700.  The victory propelled Andrew Jackson to the Presidency.  The War of 1812 in Virginia was fought mainly in Navy battles along the coast, so although many Virginians fought in the war, the conflict did not intrude itself in the daily lives of the Ott family. 
The youngest child of Michael and Catherine Ott, Simeon Ott, was born in 1815 in Greenbrier County.[14]  The Federal Census of 1820 for Greenbrier County lists Michael Ott as the head of the household.  In his home were two males, ages 0-10 (Simeon and perhaps David who would have been about 10 years old in 1820 or a son whose name is not known); two males ages 10-16 (probably Michael D. and perhaps David); one male age 16-26 (probably William), and one age 45 and over (Michael, Sr.).  Census records are not precise sources of birthdates.
The same census lists one female age 1-10 (probably Susanna); one female age 10-16 (Elizabeth); one female age 16-26 (Julia); and two females ages 26-45 (Catherine and an unidentified female). 
In 1830 the Federal Census of Greenbrier County lists Michael Ott living in South Greenbrier with the following household members:  two males ages 15-20 (Simeon and David); one male age 20-30 (Michael D.); one male age 50-60 (Michael, Sr.).   William, who would have been 29 years old, may have left his parents home by this time. 
The 1830 census lists two females ages 15-20 (Susanna and an unidentified female); two females ages 20-30 (Elizabeth and Julia); and one age 50-60 (Catherine).  One possibility for the unidentified female is the person Ann Ott who married George Stuart 21 February 1843.[15]  Andrew Hutchinson signed the bond for Ann Ott.  George Stuart and his wife, Elizabeth, are listed on the 1850 and 1860 censuses, both born 1822-1823, but are not listed on censuses after 1860.  If this is the same George Stuart who married Ann Ott in 1843, she may have died before 1850, and George remarried.  The name Ann Ott does not appear in any other vital records in Greenbrier County
On 30 March 1830 Michael Ott obtained a land grant for 166 acres on the Greenbrier River.  This land adjoined property owned by Thomas Creigh, George Stuart, Lewis Stuart, and Elisha Buckingham.   Again the Greenbrier River flowed along the southeastern boundary of Michael’s grant which fell in a north easterly direction following the river. 
On 2 October 1832 Susanna Ott married John Stuart, widower of Elizabeth Holesapple.  Michael Ott and John Stuart signed the marriage bond. 
On 5 November 1833 Michael Ott sold 40 ¼ acres of land on the south side of the Greenbrier River to John Miller.  This property adjoined the lands of Lewis Stuart and John Miller.[16]  In the lawsuit in Orange County, Major John Miller is mentioned as locating the 250 acres in a survey adjoining J. Holesapple, Richard Payne, and Kirby Douglass on 12 August 1792, but it is not known if this is the same John Miller who purchased land from Michael Ott in Greenbrier County.     
The marriage bonds of Greenbrier County record that David V. Ott signed a bond to marry Augusta D. Moore on 13 December 1833.  The bond was also signed by Charles Page, Augusta’s father.  Augusta had married Thomas Moore who died on 27 March 1832.  Augusta and David Ott had five children:  Catherine, born 12 October 1834; David H. S. Ott, born 2 March 1837; Sarah “Sallie” Ott, born 29 October 1839; Jewitt, born 1840; and John Wetzel Ott, born 2 June 1844Augusta died on 22 June 1844, twenty days after the birth of her last child.    David Ott later married Elizabeth Jane Page, Augusta’s sister, on 15 September 1851.
            In 1834 the population of Lewisburg was about 750 people.  The town had three hotels, six stores, a weekly newspaper, two tannery yards, three saddlers, four blacksmith shops, two coppersmiths and tin plate workers, three bricklayers, four carpenters, four tailors, and two wagon-makers.  Lewisburg was home to three physicians and seven lawyers.[17]
            On 1 May 1834 Michael Ott sold to Simeon Ott for $5.00 a parcel of land containing 125 acres adjoining the land that Michael lived on and lying on both sides of the Greenbrier River.  Included in the bill of sale was all Michael’s horses, cattle, sheep and hogs, farming tools and all of his household and kitchen furniture and grain on hand and sown, with all the debts due Michael.[18]  Simeon was about 19 years old at that time, and Michael was about 61 years of age.  Perhaps Michael was going to reduce the role he played in operating his farm, and Simeon was to become the “corporate head” of the farm.   
The Greenbrier County marriage records list a marriage between William Ott and Eliza Clingman in December 1834.[19]   The minister who performed the marriage was Rev. McElhenny, the Presbyterian minister who came to Greenbrier County around 1808 and served the area for many decades.  The William in the marriage record may be the son of Michael and Catherine because it appears that William was not living with them at the time of the 1830 census but had returned in the 1840 census.  In 1850 William lived in Cabell County and had no wife on that census.  His parents and unmarried siblings also lived with him in Cabell County.                                                                                                                              

Children of Michael Ott and Catherine Pence Ott
Birth date
Marriage date
Death date
Julia A. Ott
About 1800
After 1880
William Ott
About 1801
Dec. 1834 (?)
Eliza Clingman (?)
After 1880
Michael D. Ott
5 Dec. 1802
Jan. 1835
Elizabeth Clingman
Abt. 1880-1885
Elizabeth Ott
About 1806
4 Oct. 1853
David V. Ott
17 May 1810
(1) 13 Dec. 1833
(2) 15 Sept. 1851
Augusta Page Moore
Elizabeth Page
24 Jan. 1867
Susanna Ott
2 Oct. 1832
John Stuart
About 1845
Simeon Ott
After 1880

Michael D. Ott married Elizabeth Clingman in January 1835.[20]  They had the following children:  James William Ott, born 5 December 1836; Addison Ott, born 11 September 1840; Lockard Patten Ott, born 7 August 1844; Lucinda Ott, born 29 April 1847; Samuel Ott, born 26 September 1849; Edwin Ott, born 7 September 1852; and Clowney Ott, born 12 December 1855. 
There are no records which indicate that Julia Ott, Elizabeth Ott, or Simeon Ott ever married.  They continued to live with Michael and Catherine until the deaths of Michael and Catherine, and then the siblings lived in the same household until their deaths.
In the 1839 tax rolls of Greenbrier County Michael Ott is listed as owning 125 ¾ acres of land described as “river hills” valued at 50 cents an acre for a total value of $62.80.  He owed a tax of six cents.[21]  In 1840 he is again listed as owning the same land now valued at 25 cents an acre for a total value of $31.44.  He owed four cents in tax.[22]
The 1840 census of Greenbrier County lists Michael Ott with the following household members:  one male aged 20-30 (Simeon Ott, aged 25); one male aged 30-40 (William, aged 39?); one male aged 60-70 (Michael Ott, Sr., aged 67).  There was one female aged 20-30 (unidentified—Susanna Ott was aged 20-25, but had married John Stuart); one female aged 30-40 (Elizabeth Ott, aged 34); one female aged 40-50 (Julia Ott, aged 40); and one female aged 60-70 (Catherine, aged 62). 

[1] 1850 Federal Census, Cabell Co., Virginia.
[2] 1860 Federal Census, Cabell Co., Virginia.
[3] Jerry Ferrell, email dated 12 August 2007.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Jerry Ferrell, email dated 12 August 2007.
[8] Virginia County Court Records, Chancery Suits, Orange County, Virginia, Ruth & Sam Sparacio, 1988, p. 62. 
[9] 1850 Federal Census, Cabell Co., Virginia.
[10] 1850 Federal Census, Cabell Co., Virginia.
[11] 1850 Federal Census, Cabell Co., Virginia.
[12] Family Bible of Michael D. and Elizabeth Clingman Ott.
[13]“The Petersburg Volunteers, 1812-1813”,  Lee A. Wallace, Jr.
[14] Federal Census, Cabell Co., 1860. 
[15] Greenbrier County marriage bonds.
[16] Greenbrier County Deed Book 13, p. 81.
[17] Greenbrier Pioneers and Their Homes, Ruth Dayton, 1942, p. 306.
[18] Greenbrier Deed Book 13, p. 234.
[19] Greenbrier Marriages, p. 188.
[20] Greenbrier County marriage bonds.
[21] Greenbrier Land Book, 1839-1842, pg. 22.
[22] Ibid, pg. 84.

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