Edna OTWELL-SIM > Edwin OTWELL > Maurice OTWELL . John F. OTWELL > William OTWELL > Francis OTWELL > William OTTWELL
|Shilling circa 1798|
We see many different spellings for the surname in generations prior to Francis of Kentucky. You will note that William's surname is spelled OTTWELL - this is based on his last will.
Let's start with a map of Maryland and Delaware. Just note that Maryland is on the left and is divided by the Chesapeake Bay. To the right and outlined in red is Delaware. Keep in mind that in the early days, there was a dispute as to where the border was. So, in upcoming blogs, areas called Delaware then may be Maryland now and vice versa.
The following (indented) is from the research of Rev. Edward H. OTWELL and Edward BREGENZER’s The Otwell Manuscript (The Otwells in America Since 1619) which is a compilation of their research on the Otwell family history, dated 1998. (You can find a link to this document on our resource page.)
William OTWELL was likely born in Sussex Co., Delaware about 1717 to Francis and Hannah OTWELL. The family later moved to Somerset, MD.
By 1769 at age 52, he was married to 21 year old Grace RIGGIN (1748-1819), daughter of Charles RIGGIN and Amory TOWNSEND of Somerset Co., MD.
10 known children were: William, Hannah BEAVINS, Polly (aka Mary), Parker, Francis, Eleanor SHORT, Druzilla, John, Obediah and Joshua.
Sussex is the southern most portion of Delaware. The following map is of the Chesapeake Bay area and will be used in the next several blogs. Sussex County is where William was born and where he died, Somerset County is were he lived in his early years.
The earliest record of William is the 1740 census where he is listed as a dependent in his father's household in Somerset, MD. Here, the surname was listed as OUTWELL.
The date of marriage is unknown. Because of the age discrepancy, it is possible that William was previously married and his older children were from a previous wife. On various sites, there is reference to up to 3 different wives, but no documents are provided.
William died 10 April 1798 in Sussex. We know that at this time, our ancestor Francis was already living in Kentucky. William’s will was dated 20 December 1797 and it lists his wife and all of his living children. Note the spelling of the surname is OTTWELL in this document:
“William OTTWELL 20 December 1797
To son William OTTWELL -one shilling
To daughter Hannah BEVINS-one shilling
To daughter Polley OTTWELL -cow and calf or money to buy one
To son Parker OTTWELL -one shilling
To son Frances OTTWELL -one shilling
To daughter Elenor SHORT-large pot, ewe and lamb
To daughter Druzilla OTTWELL -bed furniture, cow and calf, pot, ewe and lamb, 6 pewter platted, pewter dish, 6 earthen plates
To son John OTTWELL - my house and the land to the division that was made between him and his brother and yoke of oxen and $10
To son Obediah's OTTWELL - the land that was allotted by the division between him and his brother and yoke of oxen and $10
To son Joshua OTTWELL - three years schooling by his brothers John and Obediah's and 50 pounds if they refuse to give him schooling. If John or Obediah's should die without heir, Joshua to have the land given them
To wife Grace OTTWELL - whole estate for widowhood
Executor: wife and son John
Witness: Levin CONNAWAY, John TRUITT, Barsheba TRUITT 10 April 1798”
In general, wills had the names of children in order of age (but not always). From census records, we know our Francis OTWELL was born between 1766 and 1774. William, Hannah, Polly and Parker all appear before Francis in the will and likely were his older siblings (though most on-line sites list them all as being born about 1770 and later). It is also noted that these older siblings inherited very small amounts. One shilling in 1797 is equivalent to less than $10 today. It could be that they were already established and William wanted to give his estate to his youngest children. Or, it could mean that only the younger children’s mother was Grace and she ensured that she and her sons received the bulk of the estate with the older siblings given a nominal amount to avoid lawsuits.
At this period, the US was still using shillings and pounds as they were converting to dollars and cents and you will note that the will refers to several denominations. In addition to the land, John and Obediah received $10 (about $200 today) Youngest son Joshua was about 14 years old at the time this will was written and William ensured that he receive his education from his brothers else they pay Joshua 50 pounds (about $9,500.00 today).
After the Revolutionary War came the westward expansion and some of William's descendants were early pioneers in the territories. Our Francis moved to Kentucky by 1797 (along with a Solomon OTWELL, though we are unsure how Solomon is related). John settled in Pike, Illinois by 1828 after a brief stay in Ohio. The youngest son Joshua initially went to Pike, then moved to the wilds of Texas.
Widowed at age 51, Grace next appears in 1810 census (age 63) in Delaware next to John SHORT, likely her son-in-law. No additional information was found for Grace.