Burright’s Role In 1840 Murder Trial

We know where Orrin Burright and his brother Ashbell [Asabel] were in 1840. According to ‘The History of Van Wert County’ they were members of the Indicting Jury, in the first murder trial in the county. I recently discovered this snippet of our family history whilst searching the Historical Books section of the LDS Family Search website.

Van Wert County Ohio, First Court House

The text first lists the primary judges for the trial. Then goes on to say …

“The grand jury that indicted was composed of Josiah Foster, William R. Kear, Jacob M. Harpster, Peter Bullenbaugher, David Major, William Johns, Lyman S. Wells, Asabell Burright, James Major, William Glenn, George Leslie, Daniel M. Beard, Joseph D. Moore, Orrin Burright and Samuel Moore.”

From various family records, we already know that Orrin spent time in Ohio before moving to Illinois in the mid-1800’s. His son Joseph Warren Burright was born in Washington Township in 1833. It was only after some in-depth research of land purchase evidence in Illinois, that I realized Orrin had several brothers and sisters, including Ashball. Discovering a narrative that included both brothers was a great find.

The first murder trial in Van Wert County, Ohio

According to ‘The History of Van Wert County’, on January 10, 1840, a Wyandot Indian called Tawohesackwaugh inflicted a wound in the neck of a fellow Wyandot named Sacheewaugh. Sacheewaugh died from the wound four days later. At the subsequent trial, May 1840, Tawohesackwaugh was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in a Penitentiary. He was later pardoned so that he could go West with his tribe.

There must have been a lot of interest in the trial as there were reportedly ‘over 100 Indians’ at the murder trial. The trial itself was contentious. Many white people didn’t think that the trial should be held and wanted the defendant handed over to the Wyandot tribe to be dealt with. That having been said the author of the book says that Tawohesackwaugh’s wife and mother visited his house after the trial saying they were glad Tawohesackwaugh had been sent to the penitentiary and that ‘he would be a good Indian when he was set free’.


The History of Van Wert County, Ohio and Representative Citizens. Edited & Compiled by Thaddeus S. Gilliland. 1906
The Sun Rides High. compiled by Ora Blanche. 1976
Burright Family Tree