"THE MAGERS - LOGSDON FAMILIES IN AMERICA"
by Mary F. (Magers) DeVault, read at the First
Annual Magers - McKenzie Reunion at Ft. Wayne, Indiana,
July 24, 1938
is a reprint from 1977. My editorial comments are set
in parentheses. - Rev. Homer D. Blubaugh, March 8,
(This treatise offers a very informative insight into
early Maryland, especially the northwestern areas of Cumberland,
Frostburg and Mt. Savage. This travelogue by a Magers
descendant, Mary DeVault, takes us to Knox County, Ohio,
and into Indiana. It is composed of her research and "extensive
family stories" and also includes information about
Blubaughs, Durbins and Logsdons.)
"Less than two centuries ago, the hills and valleys
of western Maryland were covered with primeval forests,
through which roamed wild beasts and in which the Indian
made his home.
The beautiful and now historic Potomac River flowed on
its way to the sea undisturbed save by the Indian's canoe.
The few white settlements were made near the river and
what is now Allegheny County was beyond the frontier.
A half century later, civilization had crept this far
west. In order to protect the few white settlers and establish
a military post, a log fort was built at the mouth of
Wills Creek in 1754. It was called Fort Cumberland in
honor of the Duke of Cumberland, for then Maryland had
been one of the original thirteen colonies.
There is a family tradition that our ancestors came to
America with Lord Baltimore, seeking religious freedom
in 1634. This has not been proven, but many histories
make this statement and we may give it some credence.
Of the three-hundred passengers on the ships, 'The Ark'
and 'The Dove', from England and Ireland and Scotland,
only twenty were men of wealth and influence. While the
rest were laborers and men of small means who paid their
passage by working for the landed proprietors after their
arrival in America.
I feel sure that, if the tradition is true, our ancestors
were among the latter class, anyway I like to think of
them as having attended that first Mass on American soil
by Father Joseph White, the historian of the expedition.
An Indian chief had given him permission to use his wigwam
in the in the wilderness as a chapel in which to give
thanks for their safe arrival. In traveling from place
to place in search of new homes, I have found many of
the families in the same pilgrimage, and in consequence
many sons and daughters of one family married sons and
daughters of others of these pilgrim families.
They intermarried to such an extent (often using the same
first names) that it is like hunting the proverbial 'needle
in the haystack' to trace any particular line.
Back in the days of the 'French and Indian War' (1754-60),
we find recorded the first Catholic settler in Allegheny
County, Maryland, was John Mattingly, a member of one
of these closely allied families. Another member of these
families was John Arnold, whose 'Will' was recorded in
1761, and his death was the first recorded in the Cumberland
The first record I have found of the Logsdons is that
of five brothers who came to America at least one generation
prior to 1799 and settled for a time at Leonardstown,
Maryland. Later they moved to other parts of the state.
Benedict and Lawrence went to Baltimore and John, Raphael
(Ralph) and David went to Mt. Savage, Maryland. (A brief
early Logsdon History is available about the grandfather
of these five brothers, William Logsdon, a 10-11 year
old cabin boy who came from England in 1673-4.)
The earliest reference that I can find of the Magers/Majors
is in Harford County, Maryland. This reference is to the
effect that 'Nathan Magers came to Harford County at a
very early period and was one of the pioneers of Allegheny
County', so I am assuming that this Nathan was the son
of Peter Magers, Sr., who had lived in Harford County
before going to Allegheny County.
Then we find the 'Will' of Peter Magers, Sr., probated
in Frederick County, March 3, 1790, in which are mentioned
his wife, Ann, and the following children: Peter, Jr.,
Nathan, Elias, John, Lawrence, and daughter, Mariah Henrietta.
We find many of these allied families (including Blubaughs)
as pioneers of Frederick County, then after a time they
went farther west to Allegheny County, and it is here
that our story becomes more tangible and we can speak
with more authority.
Raphael/Ralph Logsdon and Margaret Arnold were married
at Mt. Savage in 1795. It is possible that they were married
in Margaret's father's tavern, where Mass was read until
1825, when St. Ignatius Church was built. John Arnold
gave the land for the church and cemetery and many of
our forbearers are buried here.
Father Stephen Badin, the first priest ordained in the
U. S. in 1793 was stationed at Mt. Savage for a few years.
He made the journey from Baltimore to Kentucky on foot,
and later came to northern Indiana and with Father Soren
were the founders of Notre Dame University, South Bend,
Mt. Savage is a beautiful mountain town ten miles northwest
of Cumberland. From William's "History of Allegheny
County" I quote the following: 'A visitor in 1845
described Mt. Savage as follows: 'I was astonished to
find in the very heart of the wilderness, a scene which
almost realized the enchantment of an Eastern fable. I
found myself in the midst of a busy manufacturing town
of 3,000 souls. The iron works are really stupendous,
the fabulous amount of $1,000,000. being invested and
about 200 tons of iron being manufactured in one week
in this little mountain hamlet. The Mt. Savage Iron Works
had the distinction of rolling the first rails made in
Prior to 1787 we find at least one of the Logsdon families
migrating to Kentucky. They were among the frontier settlers
in the broadest sense of the word and were always found
a little beyond the confines of civilization. This life
demanded courage in the highest degree, together with
an intrepid and resourceful nature.
In (George) Washington's diary for 1784, dated in September,
he speaks of stopping at the house of Joseph Logsdon for
the night and at Thomas Logsdon's on the north branch
of the Potomac, where he met a brother of Thomas, and
intelligent man, 'who informed me that some years ago
he had traveled to the great Kanawha (River in West Virginia),
where he asserted that communication to the western world
could be made. '
Leaving Mr. Logsdon after an early breakfast, Washington
crossed the Alleghenies and arrived at Fort Pleasant,
Joseph Logsdon acting as his guide.
An old history published in 1840 gives an account of Joseph
and Mary Logsdon and their son, Joseph, who were among
the frontiersmen who settled near the Green River in Kentucky,
in 1185. Joseph, the son, was employed by the federal
Government as an Indian Scout in this territory and his
name is on the original 'Roll and Muster of Scouts and
Spies in the Service of the U. S.'
Joseph Logsdon was a member of the Regulars, a very necessary
organization, following the great war. He was killed in
a skirmish with Indians.
At a very early date, St. Joseph Seminary was founded
at Bardstown, Kentucky, near the Green River. That our
ancestors were true patriots in the Revolutionary War
is proven by the fact that many of them were members of
the Associators or Committee of Observation in the middle
These Associators or Guards were required to take the
'Oath of Allegiance' and to be men who could be depended
on for sobriety and attachment to the cause. Among the
members of this guard we find the names Anthony Arnold,
(Jacob Bluebaugh), William Logsdon, Sr., Ralph Logsdon,
Edwin Logsdon, John Logsdon, Peter Magers, Sr., and his
son, Peter Magers, Jr., Elias Magers, Moses McKenzie,
Joseph McKenzie, Gabriel McKenzie and Elias McKenzie.
(Moses McKenzie was a fifer in the War with England. His
daughter, Hannah, married Jacob Blubaugh, son of John
Blubaugh I. John and Hannah Blubaugh later migrated to
Danville, Knox County, Ohio. Moses' two brothers, Jesse
and Joshua, were young drummer boys in the same war. All
of this is in the National Archives.)
These men all received Military Tracts of Land in Allegheny
County, Maryland, in 1188, for their services. Also among
those receiving similar tracts we find the family name
of Durbin, Mattingly, Porter and Frost. These names are
clearly related to the previous list.
Our families (including the Blubaughs) were all farmers
at this time, so far as I can learn.(In 1776, 90% of the
American people lived on farms, while in 1976 less than
10% resided on farms.) They all lived in log cabins, each
one as good as his neighbor's. Work was done in a primitive
way. The ox team was used, the cradle, the sickle and
the flail was used to harvest the grain and corn was ground
with mortar and pestle (items now found only in American
The house wife's duties included the making of soap (from
grease and lye), the baking of bread and corn pone by
the wide open fireplace. Even the sugar was homemade (squeezed
from corn sorghum) and stored in barrels in the little
lean-to. There was scarcely a cabin without its spinning
wheel and loom. The mother and daughters 'pick' the wool,
card, spin and dye it, then weave the cloth with which
they made their men's, women's and children's clothing.
In later years a traveling weaver would go from cabin
to cabin weaving counterpanes and coverlets. One of these
beautiful covers was in the possession of Miss Mary Logsdon
of Mt. Savage. It is in six colors and has this legend
in one corner: 'Woven for Mary Magers in 1846 by August
Brailor. I This was the way of identifying the owner and
In 1812 an interesting event took place in the family
of Nathan Magers, Sr., at Mt. Savage. His daughter, Miss
Catherine, became the bride of Meshech Frost on June 16th.
The 'National Pike' had just been surveyed by the government
and work had just begun at Cumberland, the eastern terminus.
Meshech Frost and his bride journeyed the eighteen miles
on horseback to Mt. Pleasant and went immediately to housekeeping
in a double hewn log cabin where they kept a tavern and
boarded laborers on the new highway.
In later years this tavern was known as 'Highland Hall'
and was the favorite stopping place for all travelers
from the south and southwest to the east. The incessant
crack of the whip and the clatter of hooves and wagon
wheels heralded the arrival of fortune hunters, teamsters,
actresses, laborers and statesmen. Among the latter class
were Henry Clay, Col. Richard Johnson and Andrew Jackson,
who made it a point to stop here on their way to Washington.
When Mt. Pleasant changed its name is not certain, but
from the building of the 'National Pike' and the establishment
of the Post Office it has been called Frostburg, now a
town of 6,500 people, year 1938. In 1912 Frostburg celebrated
its centennial on an elaborate scale.
The Frostburg Mining Journal published a handsome souvenir
edition descriptive of the town and its history. In part
it says: 'Mr. and Mrs. Meshech Frost built their home
and conducted a tavern on the spot where St. Michael's
Church now stands, directly on the National Highway. They
are laid to rest in this yard and a beautiful monument
has been erected to honor and perpetuate the memory of
the Founders of Frostburg.'
Their old house is still occupied. It is called the 'Frost
Mansion', located on Frost Avenue, and has every appearance
of having been the home of a prosperous and influential
The pioneer spirit that prompted their ancestors to migrate
to America in the 17th century is still possessed by these
hardy families and we find a caravan of these allied peoples
moving to the far West, the 'Ohio Country' in 1819.
The history of Knox County has this to say of these pioneer
home seekers, 'The Catholics were the religious pioneers
of Union Township, Knox County. They were composed of
families from Maryland who were descendants of Lord Baltimore's
Among the many brides and grooms who made this perilous
journey through the wilderness were my grandfather, Nathan
Magers, Sr., and his bride, Winifred Logsdon Magers, who
were married April 11, 1819, in Mt. Savage. They are also
the grandparents of many of the Magers and McKenzies here
(in Indiana) today, for their families still intermarry
as of old.
This caravan from over the mountains in Maryland did not
travel in the protection of covered wagons. They rode
horseback, carrying all their earthly possessions, clothing
and their household utensils. Their journey was fraught
with dangers of every kind, attacks of wild animals and
Indians and no doubt many harrowing experiences were theirs
if but we knew.
They traveled over bridle paths and Indians trails for
roads had not yet been surveyed as far West as Central
Ohio. Upon their arrival at this Promised Land these related
families settled a few (fifteen) miles northwest of Mt.
Vernon in Knox County.
These settlers cleared the land and used the logs to build
their cabins, each man helping his neighbors. As soon
as homes were built, they erected a small log church in
1822, the second Catholic Church in Ohio. (The first Catholic
Church was built and blessed as St. Joseph, near Somerset,
Perry County, Ohio, in 1818.)
These pioneers were all farmers and located their cabins
as near to each other as possible for convenience and
protection. They named their little settlement Danville
(after the local pioneer surveyor and veteran of the War
of 1812, Daniel Sapp. Previously the area 2 mile southwest
was known as 'Sapps Settlement' where the Catholic churches
and cemetery were located,)
After clearing their lands and planting their crops, they
planted a small garden patch of vegetables and beautified
it with flowers. The famous benefactor of mankind known
as 'Johnny Appleseed' carne into this section at an early
date and planted many fruit orchards, apples, plums and
peaches. He also warned many settlers of Indian attacks.
On one occasion he made the trip from Mansfield to Mt.
Vernon, the county seat, under cover of night, to secure
help when Indians (the Mohicans) threatened attack on
the settlers. He made the thirty mile trip on foot, in
five hours, and thus averted serious trouble.
After these pioneers had worshipped ten years of more
in this little log church, it became necessary to accommodate
the increasing congregation, so a larger frame church
was built in 1831 by Father Lamy, who afterward became
Bishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Among the highest subscribers
of St. Luke Church was my grandfather, Nathan Magers,
who gave $1,000 and a few others gave a like amount.
My grandparents lived all their married life in St. Luke's
Parish. They died there and are buried in that cemetery.
Their funeral sermons were preached by Father Julius Brent,
a relative who was stationed there, 1854-74. In St. Luke's
Church the eight sons of Nathan and Winifred Magers were
baptized, from Ambrose, the eldest, born May 5, 1820,
to my father, Francis Marion, born January 28, 1838. One
of the sons died in infancy. Grandfather died when my
father was four years old, leaving grandmother to raise
her seven sons to manhood.
She must have been a very self-reliant, resourceful, and
courageous woman to have accomplished this task as successfully
as she did. She lived on the same farm until her death
in 1863. Her sons may have been denied many of the joys
and advantages of youth, but they were comfortably clothed
and fed, and educated as well as conditions allowed.
At the age of fourteen my father entered St. Mary's Academy
at Perrysville, Missouri, near St. Genevieve, where he
remained three years. He also spent one year at St. Joseph
Seminary, Bardstown, Kentucky, where he lived with a Logsdon
family who were relatives.
The wandering spirit still possessed these families and
we find some of the Magers and the McKenzies making the
trip to the new country of Noble and Allen Counties in
Indiana. They were pioneers in this section for they came
in the 1850's. Elias McKenzie settled in Allen County
and Ambrose and John Magers in Noble County.
Frances Marion, my father, came from Knox County in 1855
and taught school in Noble County for a few years. He
then returned to Knox County, Ohio, where he taught in
the district school until his mother's death. He remained
in Knox County and read medicine with Dr. Casimer Bryant
at Mt. Vernon.
He then in 1864 entered the Medical School at Ann Arbor,
Michigan. The following year he engaged in active practice
in Churubusco, Indiana, where for over fifty years he
was eminently successful as a country doctor, his practice
extending through Allen, Noble and Whitley Counties, Indiana.
Francis Magers married Mary Ellen Metzger at Academie,
northeast of Ft. Wayne, on November 23, 1865, by Father
Carrier. They were the parents of seven children, all
living except the eldest, Casimir Bryant Magers, who died
suddenly in 1924, and the youngest, a daughter, Gertrude,
born in 1885 and died in 1912. Ursula, single, lives in
the old home in Churubusco, where the family lived for
over sixty years.
Edmond is located at Thayer, Missouri, and Frank at Bismark,
North Dakota. Bessie Maloney resides in Milford, Indiana,
and I, Mary F. (Magers) DeVault, in Kendallville, Indiana.
They were devoted members of the Immaculate Conception
Catholic Church at Ege, Noble Country, Indiana, and are
buried in the church cemetery. Francis died in 1915 and
Mary, 1934. They were revered and respected by the whole
community in which they had lived for some many years.
TO OUR FOREFATHERS
Our Forefathers belonged to an aristocracy not of royal
blood, but of service. Their true Christian character,
aims and achievements are very worthy of preservation,
none the less. 'Their coat of arms are Noble Deeds. Their
peerage is from God.
TO OUR PIONEER MOTHERS
They conquered the primeval wilderness with a fortitude
unparalleled in the annals of sublime womanhood. They
gave counsel and comfort to the sturdy, heroic men who
became the founders of our nation. They directed their
children along the trail that led to the very summit of
useful patriotic citizenship.
They braved the perils of plain and forest, of mountain,
and river, of wild beast and lawless men to build a home
in the freedom of the open spaces on the Western frontier.
They had no thought of direction, save that it was God's
will to guide their footsteps into a land rich in opportunity
for their loved ones.
They broke all ties of ancestry and kindred and set their
faces fearlessly into the golden glow of the setting sun.
It is to them that we give praise for a patriotism, a
courage and vision far greater than our own."
(P. S. My clarifications, additions and corrections
to Mary's manuscript came from information that she
did not have almost sixty ago. Having visited Cumberland,
Frostburg and Mt. Savage, Maryland, her descriptions
are apt. - HdB)
text Copyright 1977-2002 Father Homer Blubaugh