We know where Orrin Burright and his brother Ashbell Burright [Asabel] were in 1840. According to ‘The History of Van Wert County’ they were members of the Indicting Jury, in the first murder trial at the Van Wert County courthouse. We 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 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-1800s. 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 we realized Orrin had several brothers and sisters, including Ashball Burright. Discovering a narrative that included both brothers in the early days of Van Wert County was a great find and helps put more color in their stories.

The First Van Wert County Trial for Murder

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, in May 1840, Tawohesackwaugh was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in a county 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 Van Wert County courthouse. The trial itself was contentious. Many white folks 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’.

County histories are not always the most reliable records, so it would be great to find more information for Van Wert County criminal records in the mid-1800s but until then this is a nice piece of information that a little more to the Burright family history.


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