Before 1860

Both Thomas Garrett and Martha Agnes Johnson were born in Kentucky, he in 1808 and she in 1811. It is not known when they were married, but it appears that they were in Illinois by 1828 as that is the place of birth recorded in the 1850 US Federal Census for John, their oldest child.

Their second child was Wesley Green Garrett, who was born in 1831. He is more commonly listed as Greene or Green Garrett rather than Wesley.

1850 US Federal Census, East Galena Precinct, Jo Daviess Co., Illinois
Last name:  First name:  Age:  Gender:   Place of birth
Garrett Thomas 42 Male Kentucky
Martha 35 Female Kentucky
John 21 Male Illinois
Greene 18 Male Illinois
Eilza J. 17 Female Illinois
Catherine 12 Female Illinois
Joseph 9 Male Illinois
Charles 7 Male Illinois
Thomas, John, and Greene are listed as being farmers.

Thomas moved his family from the Galena, Jo Daviess Co., Illinois area to Clarke Co., Iowa as he is listed in the 1856 Iowa State Census. It is not known why the family moved to Iowa instead of remaining on a farm in Illinois, but the Clarke County Original Entry Deed Book did show that Thomas Garrett purchased land in Washington Township from the U. S. government in a sale dated 20 September 1856.

John and Wesley Green are not mentioned in the 1856 Iowa State Census. According to family tradition, John moved to Oregon. He must have traveled the Oregon Trail that had been more widely open to new settlers since 1843. Perhaps part of the lure for John Garrett was the passage by Congress of the Donation Land Act, offering 160 acres of free Oregon land to white males or half-Indian settlers and another 160 acres to their wives. Travel and weddings boomed as settlers rushed to stake claims before the law expired in 1854. Whether or not John Garrett was one of these settlers is unknown. It is also not known if John ever married. See Appendix 1, Donation Land Claim Act.

John is listed in the Martha’s petition and bond recorded a few days after her death in 1884, so it appears likely that the family knew where he was living. He was to be awarded $1.98 from Martha’s estate.

Whether John actually went to or remained in Oregon is not known. He may have moved to California at some point, but records do not definitively support either location. If he did utilize the Oregon Trail, as he surely must have, there is no record of how he travelled, whether by himself or as part of a wagon train. It is also not known if John ever returned to Iowa.

See Appendix 2: A Brief History of the Oregon Trail

The rest of this story will concern his father Thomas and his younger brother Wesley Green.

It is not known when Wesley Green left the family, but he is known to have married Lucy Coleman on November 25, 1859, in Henry Co., Iowa, possibly in the town of Mount Pleasant. Lucy was the daughter of Elic Chalker Coleman and Catherine Bieler.

Wedding Day Photo Wesley Green Garrett and Lucy Coleman

Wedding Day Photo
Wesley Green Garrett and Lucy Coleman

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