While we may not have the benefit of such modern records as birth certificates when we research our ancestors from previous centuries, we do have a few other way to track their whereabouts: land records and tax records. In the case of Joseph and Elizabeth Flowers, my mother-in-law's second great-grandparents, it is land records which help us determine when they first landed in Perry County, Ohio.
From the archives of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, we can find a digitized copy of a record assuring us that one Joseph Flowers had made his way to the land office at Zanesville, Ohio, with verification that he had made full payment for a specific parcel of land situated in Perry County.
Those one hundred fifty five acres which Joseph Flowers obtained on May 26, 1828, may have been officially documented in that land office, but the notes on the preserved record let us know that Joseph was actually the assignee of another man, Vachel Ogg. How Vachel Ogg happened to originally obtain the land, I can't yet determine—although Ogg's name can be found associated to various land transactions not only in Ohio, but back in Pennsylvania, as well.
That neither Ogg nor his assignee, Joseph Flowers, obtained the land through military service is fairly clear. A check through the Patriot files at the national headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution reveal no entry for Ogg's name, and Joseph was likely born too close to the dates of the Revolutionary War to have been eligible to serve.
Joseph Flowers may have obtained this parcel of land in 1828, but that is not the earliest date we can find him in Ohio. Though I can't yet find him in any 1820 census records, tax records in 1818 reveal there was someone by that same name in Muskingum County—the county from which land was drawn to form Perry County in 1818. And, of course, there was that mention in a hundred-year-old local history book that his son Thomas was born there in 1814.
Now that we've isolated a few instances of the earliest dates of our possible Joseph's existence in Ohio, that helps us zero in on the dates in which he and his family might have left their former residence. After all, one can't be in two places at the same time. Though the name Flowers is not the most common of early American surnames, we still need to make sure we are not following the trail of a name twin, and this timeline clue is one token to guide us to some possible prior residences in Pennsylvania.