Sunday, July 29, 2012

Columbia Township Ear Marks, 1791-1820

This is the 4th in a series of posts written by John Tholking. Proving that you have ancestors who lived in Cincinnati before December 31, 1820 can be quite a challenge, but the rewards are worth it. Your ancestors could be recognized as part of the "First Families" lineage group. Proving their residence in Hamilton County may require consulting some unusual records, such as those described by John in this post. 

Genealogists use many different records to establish the location or residency of their ancestors.  Birth, marriage and death records, the census, land and court records, and voter’s lists are some of the more common official records.  One of the more unusual official records used by local genealogists is the Columbia Township list of Ear Marks. 

The clerk of the township assigned marks of identification to be cut in ears of cattle.  Fences were not plentiful and it was common for livestock to be pastured together or to wander off.  Branding did not appear until 1820.

A slit, a penny, a crop, a half penny, a swallow fork, a nick, a saw tooth, a slope, and a "poppler" leaf were markings used to form numerous patterns cut into the ears of cattle for identification.   

The original documents at the Cincinnati Historical Society cover the period 1791 to 1861.  This list from 1791 to 1820 was extracted from an article in Hamilton County Court and Other Records  v.2  p.14 - available at the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library. The name of the pioneer, the date recorded and the description of the ear mark is listed.

Membership in First Families is open to descendants of pioneers who were residents of Hamilton County before December 31, 1820.  Applications or requests for forms may be sent to FFHC, Hamilton County Chapter OGS, PO Box 15865, Cincinnati, OH 45215-0865