The John Smith Carris Family's Westward Migration

They [the John Smith Carris family] lived in Orange County, New York, until 1837, at which time they removed to Ohio, traveling by boat through the Erie Canal and Lake Erie, landing at Coshocton, thence traveling overland to a farm near Newark, Licking County, Ohio, where they lived until April, 1854.

Again the West called them and they drove to Iowa in covered wagons, arriving in Washington County, Iowa, June 7, 1854. Because of the facts of the increased settlement and value of lands in Ohio and the natural desire of the older members of the family to acquire homes of their own, the matter of taking advantage of the open lands further west was given consideration in the early "fifties" with the result that, in the fall of 1853, John S. Carris, together with his son Rufus, started on a trip of investigation and purchase.

Prior to this time, Angeline had married Albert Wyeth and had removed to the vicinity of Charleston, Illinois. It was their intention to locate near there, however, the conditions they found were not altogether to their liking and they decided to look over Iowa.

The edge of the settlement was then in western Washington and eastern Keokuk Counties, which is probably why this particular locality was selected.

In the vicinity of what is now the town of Keota they made their purchases, selecting five (5) eighties in sections of ten (10) and eleven (11) in Dutch Creek Township, Washington County, Iowa, and several pieces along the road two (2) miles south of Keota.

At the time of starting this trip it had not been the intention of John S. Carris to leave Ohio himself but only to seek out opportunity for his family but, upon seeing this county and considering the opportunities it seemed to offer, he decided to cast his lot with the "boys" and come West also, the three eighties in Section Eleven (11) becoming his homestead.

They returned to Ohio and sold out their holdings, and in April, 1854, they started for Iowa, driving overland with their household goods, implements, etc. The party consisted of thirteen (13) members.

  • John S. Carris and wife, Hila Ann
  • J. C. Jones and wife, Maria, their sons Frank C. and Danforth
  • Jack, born Feb. 6, 1849, who made his home with Jacob and Maria Jones family until time of his death May 29, 1904
  • Rufus Carris and wife, Mary
  • Edward Carris (died Feb. 28, 1862, aged 27 yrs. 6 days)
  • Victor W. Carris
  • Seth D. Carris
  • William Carris
  • Emmor Carris

    They came via Charleston, Illinois, crossed the Mississippi river at Burlington, and arrived at Dublin, Iowa, June 7, 1854.


    (From Geneology of John Smith Carris Family, Published 1954, Washington, Iowa)