Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Bayles Family: Migration Along the National Road

In about 1859, Thomas and Louisa (Shaffer) Bayles uprooted themselves from their home in Muskingum County, Ohio and migrated 400 miles with their children to a new home in Fayette County, Illinois. (Map). It is probably no coincidence that the major overland route from the east to the western states, the so-called "National Road", passed through Muskingum County, crossed Indiana, finally terminating in Fayette County.

Construction of the National Road begain in Maryland in 1815. Surveying, grading, clearing, laying stone and building bridges took decades. The route finally reached Vandalia, Illinois in 1838. In the succeeding years many settlers traveled the road from Ohio into Illinois. Many of them, like Thomas and Louisa Bayles, settled in Fayette County. Others continued west.

Thomas and Louisa settled, at least briefly, in Cumberland (now Otego) Township, near Hickory Creek. The Bayles family eventually moved closer to the town of St. Elmo, in Avena Township, where Thomas was a farmer.

By the 1860s, the expanding network of railroads was already making the National Road obsolete. Taverns, inns and other businesses that had prospered with the traffic eventually disappeared. The 20th century brought a revival of the road - today highway 40 closely follows the original route.

Louisa died in 1869, and is buried in Howard's Point. Thomas remarried (twice) and moved to Missouri in 1890. He died in Kansas City in 1901.

The National Road (National Park Service Exhibit)
History Magazine: The National Road
History of the National Road (with emphasis on Fayette County, Illinois).
The National Road: a Photo Essay (covers Maryland through Ohio)

Map of the National Road into Fayette County, Illinois
1875 Township Map of Fayette County (large image)
History of Vandalia, Illinois

Photos of the National Road near Zanesville
The National Road in Eastern Ohio (note: lots of graphics)
Zanesville, Ohio History

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