Greene County, Indiana
From "Simp" Osborn, the
old Mexican soldier, and his brother Jesse, I learn that John Abbott,
their grandfather, was raised near Chesapeake Bay, in Maryland. They
don't know where or under whom he served in the Revolution, but very
likely he was a member of the "Maryland" line. By courtesy of Frank
Pate, in showing me his abstracts of land titles, I learn that he
bought of James Warrick, Sr., on September 13, 1834, the eighty acres
of land which comprises the Bloomfield cemetery. He gave the first
ground for the purpose of burial there and was one of the early ones
himself to be laid there to rest. Mr. Abbott was a good citizen, and
was commonly known over the county as "Jack" Abbott. I heard the name
often in my childhood. I knew his sons, Alumby and George. The former
lived many years near where Joe Leavitt now lives. George was a soldier
of the War of 1812. "Markers" have been placed to their graves. Many of
the descendants are in this county. A large number of the Osborns, part
of the Skinners and "Abe" Spainhower's children in Worthington are
among the number. Three of "Simp" Osborn's sons all lay dead at once in
his house many years ago.
By W. D. Ritter.
Of the Revolutioners that
resided in Greene county I give the following reminiscences, with such
other facts as are obtainable:
lived in the neighborhood
of Scotland, and very likely died there. We know no more about him than
that he was a soldier of the Revolution. Blevins was one of the
fourteen I saw march on the Fourth of July in the long ago. He was a
large man physically.
the father of Morris R.
Burnett, now deceased, late of Taylor township, who lived and died in
the same township, was a native of New Jersey. He had a conspicuous
natural "mark" that covered one of his temples, but did not injure his
looks. He had bear a man of very fine physical structure—neither too
much nor too little flesh; nice, manly, rugged proportions and
appearance. He lived nearly a hundred years and was buried in old
Plummer (now Taylor) township. We know nothing about his sendees in the
war, save that he was an honored soldier in it.
was a South Carolinian,
and when a boy his father took him to see Lord Cornwallis when he
raised the "royal standard"- in South Carolina under which to swear the
people to allegiance to the British crown, the "royal standard" being
the great national ensign of England, a flag a hundred feet long. Mr.
Chaney's father had gone to see the general for a purpose I have
forgotten. Cornwallis persuaded the boy to enter the British army. He
said he was extremely ignorant of the cause of the war and would have
done so in a minute, but he was under age and his father would not let
him. Cornwallis gave them each a bottle of wine. On their way home they
drank the wine and threw the bottles away. Afterwards General Sumpter
(after whom Fort Sumpter was named) sat on a log all day and explained
to him so that he enlisted in our army. He was in the siege of
Ninety-six, battle of Eutaw Springs and elsewhere. He was a blacksmith
by trade and worked in the shop with Francis Marion in that ever to be
remembered making of swords out of mill saws. At Eutaw Springs he saw
the use of his own swords when a battery was playing on the "Maryland
Line." So highly was that body of men prized that great exert as were
made to save them. There was one thing about these old veterans that
can never be told—the heartfelt reverence the people had for them
wherever they were seen. A man in Greene county sued Mr. Chaney for
twelve and one-half cents (that was before the day of dimes), and on
trial Mr. Chaney proved that he had already paid it twice. This was
then supposed to be the meanest trick in the world.
little boy I was passing a sugar camp in company with a man driving a
wagon in which Mr. Chaney was riding. He said he wanted one more good
drink of sugar water before he died.
man who drove the wagon and myself got over the fence and brought a
trough of sugar water to the wagon so he could drink out of it. As we
were climbing the fence with the trough, a difficult task, the man said
with an earnestness I never heard equaled, "I do love to wait on the
Chaney was a good workman and he had helped to make anvils and many
other articles of the highest usefulness. One of his specialties was
the making of cowbells. He knew how to "tune" his bells. No bell of any
kind can sound at its best without being in tune. He was very
intelligent in regard to the chemistry of metals, tempering, brazing
and soldering, as well as making the combination of chemicals for the
purpose he understood well. He was buried near the old Olley mill on
the father of "Alec"
Clenny, who lived and died north of Bloomfield, was a Virginian and
fought in the Revolution with the highest and best leaders—both
Washington and Greene. . Washington* always said if he was lost he
wanted Greene put in his place .
Clenny was at the closing scene of Yorktown. He remembered well the
names of the French officers who served there, and to hear him
pronounce them as he did was a rich literary treat to any one. He was
an excellent citizen all his long life and made his own living by
patient, useful labor, tanned his own leather, made his own and
family's shoes, raised wool, cotton and flax, of which their clothes
were made, and made his hand-mill on which was ground their breadstuff.
He had an almost matchless figure, showing an exquisite model of
perfect manhood, rugged and stalwart. In his last years he was entirely
blind. His dust lies in the Bloomfield cemetery.
was a native of South
Carolina. When a little boy he was kidnapped on the seashore and taken
to Cuba and kept there three years, then brought back. While there he
picked grapes. He said the pickers were allowed to eat at the first.
and last pickings, but at no other. When making tree sugar the children
were allowed to eat at the first and last makings, but at none else. He
was a natural mechanic and made his own pocketknives; would use no
other. He made excellent rifles, locks, triggers and all. The only lock
of those days was the flintlock, much more complex than any lock of the
Conway's locks had to be double-bridled inside and out and have a "fly"
on the tumbler—all these of the best type ; then the shooting of his
gun must be so good that, to use his own words, he could hit a
twenty-five cent piece a hundred yards.
served eight years in the army of the Revolution. He helped bury so
many of his comrades that he said, when he was at the age of
eighty-six, he wanted to be buried soldier fashion; that is, to be
wrapped in whatever he died on, like the soldier in his blanket, and
laid in the grave, and yet he had made a great many coffins for others,
for which lie never would take a cent of pay. Whether the wish was
complied with at his burial I do not know. He never took a cent of
pension. His reasons were that he considered the risking of life in war
to be above money.
in good health all the time during the war. was never wounded, and
thought the service to be but the debt that the able, capable men owed
to their country— that he was as able to make a living as anybody, and
was willing to do it. He was a pioneer frontiersman, a hunter, farmer
and general mechanic. He put his time to making articles of the highest
usefulness—the axe, plow and all other tools used in that day. He could
build a cabin in all its parts, then make everything that was used in
and about it.
made everything used in making clothing spinning wheels, looms, etc. To
name all would include things that people of the present (many of them)
could not understand. He was low of stature, a little stooped in the
shoulders, quick in action, united the quietest mind to the most
wilderness of Kentucky, where Mr. Conway would push out alone to hunt a
new home, he was calm, though surrounded by ravenous beasts and savage
men. His health was perfect, even when sleeping on the ground in all
kinds of weather. He did an incredible' amount of work with the
uttermost patience and method. He died at the age of eighty-eight
years. When alone in the wilderness of Kentucky, here is a supper from
Mr. Conway's own cook book : Stick a piece of fat bear meat before the
fire on a stick to broil. Just under it a piece of fish on another
stick. As the bear meat broils the grease drops on the fish; then stick
the hunter's knife in the fish, work it around to let the grease down
in. Pewter dishes, plates and spoons, as well as the moulds they were
run in, were among the articles of his production. He was buried at
Ocley's mill on Richland creek.
lived near Eel river, in
Smith township. The place of his nativity we do not know. He was one of
those who marched in the squad of fourteen on July 4th in Bloomfield in
the long ago. He was a very large man. Big "Jim" Harvey, the famous
flatboat pilot of old Point Commerce, was his son; also Anderson
Harvey, another great pilot of the olden flatboat times, was a farmer.
grandfather of "Dick"
Huffman, was a native of Washington county, Pennsylvania, and served in
the French and Indian war, which lasted from 1754 to 1763. It is not
known at what time, where or under whom he served —whether under
Bracklock or Forbes or whom, or whether lie served in company with
Washington or not.
where he did, it is very likely he served against Fort Du Quesne, now
Pittsburg. If so, he served with Washington, for Washington was in the
two expeditions against that place, the first under Braddock and the
next under Forbes. He afterwards, like Washington, served through the
Revolution, in company with Mr. Shryer, named in this sketch. They were
from the same neighborhood. In 1819 he, in company with Mr. Shryer,
moved to Indiana, Daviess county—that part of it which is now Greene
county, Taylor township—and lived near Mr. Shryer a short time, then
returned farther east and lived about two years in Ohio, dying in that
state, and was buried near Lawrenceburg, Indiana, which town is just at
the state line*.
as I know Mr. Huffman outranks for length of service as a soldier any
man who ever lived in this county, having fought through both
these long and bloody wars. Other branches of the Huffman family live
in Washington and Daviess counties. He was a woodturner, wheelwright
and chairmaker by trade.
was a Marylander, a
member of the honored famous "Maryland Line," one of the most notable
bodies of men that served in the Revolution. He was in the siege of
Ninety-six and saw a woman shot who had come out of the fort to a
spring- to get water. The sentinel at the spring allowed her to go away
with one bucket of water, but warned her not to come again. She came
again carrying a babe at her breast. The sentinel ordered her away,
telling her he was compelled to shoot her if she got water again. She
filled her bucket and started to the fort, and the sentinel shot her
dead, but Mr. Land and Mr. Chaney—(they were both there and saw it)
differed about the babe—one said it was killed, the other that it was
Lang was in the battle of Eutaw Springs when the British battery played
on the "Maryland Line." Such was the feeling of the partisan troops
held by regulars that Mr. Lang always thought there never was such a
man as Francis Marion.
Chaney's answer to this, "Sure as there is a Francis Lang, there was a
Francis Marion," for, as we have seen in our article on Mr. Chaney, he
(Chaney) had worked in the blacksmith shop with Marion himself, making
swords of mill saws. Mr. Lang owned land, lived many years, died and
was buried near old. Jerry Workman's.
him well and he was a good citizen. Our old soldier and poet friend, J.
R. Corbley, says the road is cutting and wearing into his grave and
that of his wife. By the way, the wife (Susana) was the last person who
drew Revolutionary pension in all this county.
was a Virginian and was
with Washington himself in the War of the Revolution. He lived in
Taylor township, Greene county, and was the father of the noted Nancy
Hatfield, the grandfather of Captain Fielding Hatfield. Mr. Oakley was
a large man physically.
last time I was at his house he told his wife she cheated him in her
age when she married him—told her, she was forty years old then. She
disputed his word. He then said she was thirty-nine years and seven
months old at that time, which she did not dispute. Mrs. Oakley excused
herself by saying that young men were scarce and hard to get at the
close of the war; that during the war a husband was not to be got at
all, and that owing to the fact that she was good to work and make a
living, she thought there w.ls no wrong in using a little strategy, a
little policy and management, to get a husband; said she had cleared
land, made fence, plowed and raised corn, raised flax, pulled it and
made it into cloth had raised wheat, reaped and threshed it. She was a
good spinner and weaver. She lived some time after his death, and if
her gravestone in Bloomfield cemetery tells the truth, for she and her
husband lie there side by side, she was over a hundred years old at the
time of her death. She was a small woman, and one of good qualities,
great energy and industry being part of them. From her it was that
Nancy Hatfield, her daughter, inherited the capacity by which she
acquired two excellent farms by her own management after she was left a
was bom in Virginia and
remained there until he was fifteen years of age, when the Revolution
began. This places the date of his birth, of which we have no record,
in the year 1760, the war having commenced in 1775. At the outbreak Mr.
Storm, tender as was his age, enlisted in the "Continental" Cavalry
under command of Colonel Billy Washington, as he was familiarly called.
The colonel was, I think, a cousin to the commander-in-chief. In this
capacity Mr. Storm served faithfully and very efficiently through the
entire dark and bloody struggle, growing and hardening up into a most
splendid manhood in the constant handling of the saber, and he became
in that dreadful eight years a very great expert in its use. He must
have fought in many battles, because Washington's cavalry was in the
battles of Guilford Court House, Cowpens, Eutaw Springs and many
others. In the final maneuver which drove the British under General
Stewart to Monk's Corner, then to Charleston, and finally out of the
state, that ubiquitous cavalry had a very active part. This ended the
war in the South. The sudden, tremendous rush, the clang of steel, "the
shout and groan and saber stroke," had all become familiar occurrences
to Mr. Storm.
considerable time after the close of the war he was married to a Miss
Parson, very probably of South Carolina, for her people afterwards
lived in the state of Alabama. To this union were bom Joseph, long
called "Joe" Storm, who was for years a citizen of Bloomfield, in
decade of the thirties. He was several times representative of Greene
county, and a militia captain; Leah, Peter, Mattie, Annie, from whom
are obtained all these facts, who yet lives in Harrodsburg, Monroe
county, and who is the mother of Dr. Lowder, of Bloomfield ; Washington
year 1815 Mr. Storm moved to what is now Jackson county, Indian
Territory. He there on one occasion, with his neighbors, had to "fort
up" for protection from the Indians, and against the advice of his
friends Mr. Storm would go out and plow his corn. He was blamed for
rashness and called "Indian bait." At one time, while thus engaged,
he heard a sudden rush of footsteps behind him. "I am 'Indian bait' at
last," thought he. "Ah, if that good blade were in my hand; one
lightning flash of steel, and that uplifted savage arm would be
severed, the tomahawk it held flying to one side, and ere it could
touch the earth another quick gleam and my saber would bury deep in a
painted skull," but he was totally unarmed. "I am outnumbered, too, and
all is against me, but must I run? My children are hidden under the
flax in the stable loft, and must they be burned ? Not till after I am
dead." So with a war whoop he turned, his only weapon (his fist) drawn
to make what show of defense he could. What wonder if in the tone of
that "whoop" there was a touch of despair, for now he was alone and
verging towards sixty years old? The struggle would be short, his
entire family added to the dreary list of Indian massacres. That voice
that rang exultant at Cowpens did its best, and the aged hero strung
his nerves for the last battle. But, old soldier, you didn't have to
fight that day. It was all surprise—it was only his two big dogs in a
dash of play. But laughingly to the end of life he said that was the
biggest and best scare he ever had.
Jackson county he moved to what is now Greene county and "entered" the
northeast quarter of section 36, in township 7 north, range 3 west,
containing 160 acres. This we learn by courtesy of Mr. Smith, county
recorder. He received his "patent" for this land from the United States
October 26, 1816. On this land, one mile and a half northeast of
Hobbieville, just east of Indian creek, he spent the rest of his days.
Even down to old age he did not forget his loved "sword play." He would
have a friend to take a stick and himself another while lie tried to
the stern joy that warriors feel At meeting foe man worthy of their
Storm and his entire family were uncommonly athletic. He was a
converted Christian and member of the Baptist church ; by occupation a
farmer. He lived until if 35. On his own farm, since called the "Pink
East" farm, and later still divided into other hands, rests his honored
dust till the resurrection.
To understand his
character one has but to look back through the ages at the race from
which he sprung. That race is the "Cavalier." The words cavalry,
chivalry, cavalier and chevalier mean very nearly the same thing. These
words express the character of Mr. Storm —open, above board,
hospitable, brave, frank and manly.
New England states were settled by the "round head" from Virginia and
the South by the cavalier. It was but natural for him to go forth to
war in the cavalry. Through the past we may look at the class of
mankind as far as to Leonidas with his three hundred long-haired men at
Thermopylae. Each class—"round-head" and "cavalier"—had its excellence
and defects. One great defect of the cavalier is laziness. He will
fight, but won't work. In many instances Mr. Storm entirely escaped
this defect, for he was by no means a lazy man, the "excellencies"— all
of them—he had.
was a native of North
Carolina. When Francis Marion came to that state to procure recruits
for the patriot cause Mr. Lawrence enlisted under his command, remained
and served with Marion from that time, which was early in the war up to
the time when General Lincoln was transferred from South Carolina
Lawrence was transferred with him, and was one of his color-bearers.
This brought him, in course of time, to the siege of Yorktown, which,
as all know, resulted in the surrender of the entire British army.
Three years before this General Lincoln had to surrender Charleston,
South Carolina, to Lord Cornwallis. Washington loved and respected
Lincoln, and to soothe his wounded feelings designated him to receive
the sword and surrender of Lord Cornwallis on exactly the Si. me terms
that Cornwallis had exacted of him at Charleston. On this never to be
forgotten occasion Mr. Lawrence bore his honored "color" with
unspeakable pride. There is much difference in the detail of
at Saratoga received Bourgoyne's surrender with great privacy and
delicacy of feeling"; the terms exacted of Lincoln at Charleston were
very humiliating. Lord Cornwallis could, of course, raise no question
as to terms set by himself.
Lawrence, after the lapse of years, moved from North Carolina to White
county, Indiana, and lived there several years, then removed to Greene
county, Center township, bought land in section 19, township 7 north,
range 3 west, as John R. Combs remembers, by whose kindness we are
furnished with all these facts.
Mr. Combs told me this, I myself remember Mr. Lawrence very well. I can
see him yet in his good old age, on horseback, wearing his excellent
"camlet" cloak made in the comely style of long ago. Our honored
veteran had the distinction of being a soldier longer than any person
ever lived in Greene county. He was of that size and vitality the very
personification of alertness and activity so often connected with long
life. His age at death was one hundred and four years. He died in 1840
and was buried one mile and a half northeast of Sylvina church. By
occupation he was a farmer. He knew himself to be a relative of Captain
James Lawrence of the navy, who commanded the "Chesapeake" in her
battle with the "Shannon" in the War of 181 2, the man who, with his
dying breath, gave the order, while being carried below, "Don't give up
the ship." Here in Bloomfield is a beautiful walking cane, in
possession of Mr. Frank Edwards, which has been in the family now three
generations, which was made from a piece of that renowned vessel on
which Perry fought, and her name, as all know, was the "Lawrence." was bom in Virginia, February
22, 1792, in the same state and on the same day of the month that
produced Washington. Another coincident in this nation's history was
the year 1732, which gave the world both Washington and Marion. When,
in 1814, the British forces under Admiral Cockburn and General Ross,
were operating in the waters and vicinity of Chesapeake Bay, when the
city of Washington was captured and burned and Baltimore attacked.
supposed that Norfolk would be captured, it being considered the "key"
of the bay. Of a regiment of infantry that marched to defend Norfolk,
part of them were from Virginia and part from North Carolina. Mr.
Bingham was fife major. In the making up of that regiment my father
heard him play the fife. Father said his uniform was red as blood and
had round, shiny brass buttons on it the size of musket balls. And the
very sight of him, together with his stirring music, sent a thrill
through the people like an electric shock. No real attack was made on
Norfolk, so Mr. Bingham was in no battle. You all remember that while
the British were fighting to take Baltimore Francis S. Key wrote
the danger was passed and the war over Mr. Bineham's regiment was
discharged and he returned home. Under the United States militia law,
which continued in force on up to about 1840, he was still a very
active and efficient fifer, both in Virginia and Indiana. Virginia was
his home until about 1830, when he moved to Indiana, first on White
River, then to Center township, Greene county, of which he was fife
major until the militia system ceased. To all the people of the county,
"Frederick, the fifer," as he was lovingly called, was well and
the very first things I remember was the big muster days in Bloomfield,
with Frederick for fifer and his little boy, Hiram, for drummer. That
fife's keen notes I shall never forget, even one of his old tunes I
still remember that he played in Bloomfield as long ago as 1831. While
on parade Mr. Bingham carried himself with spirit and bearing that was
inspiring. The very breath of his nostrils seemed to be patriotism
coupled with high resolve. A militia muster was a "high day" in those
times of long ago.
Virginia he was married to Miss Obedience Powell, and to them were born
Hiram; Eliza Ann, now wife of Elsbery Anderson, of Center township,
from whom these facts are obtained ; Alfred and Edmund. Mr. Bingham
owned laud and pursued the occupation of farmer in section 12, township
7 north, range 4 west. He was an industrious, honest man, known and
read of all men.
took a premium on a hogshead of tobacco at Todd's warehouse in
Louisville, Kentucky, about the year 1836, it being- the best one there
that year. You remember that Mrs. Abraham Lincoln was a Todd, of
Kentucky. The owner of that warehouse was her relative. Also here in
Greene county when a warehouse was established at old Point Commerce he
was appointed tobacco inspector in it, which office he held for many
years. In March, 1859, he went to the house appointed for all the
living and is buried in the Bingham graveyard in Center township, near
A respected Greene county
citizen and business man, who was financially ruined in the building of
the Bloomfield, Bedford & Switz City Railway, was he whose
William Mason was born in- Guilford county, North Carolina, August II,
1812, and died November 29, 1894. He came to Greene county, Indiana,
with his father's family November 16, 1821, with whom he lived to
manhood very near the place where he died, this being the year Greene
county was organized. He had a scholarly inclination ; was clerk for
John Inman and school teacher in his early majority. The history of the
county for 1842 says this of him, in regard to his first appointment as
treasurer : "They selected a young man who had acquired a fair
education and gave evident indication of good business qualifications.
This young man was William Mason, who accepted the appointment and was
afterwards re-elected several times and made one of the most efficient
officers we have ever had."
1842 he was married to Mary Ritter, who died in 1843. Shortly after
this he became part owner and clerk of the steamboat "Richland," the
other owners being Andrew Downing and Captain M. H. Shryer. For Andrew
Downing Mr. Mason did business in the "flat-boating" way to New Orleans
a good many years.
partnership with his brother Henry, and with John B. Stropes, other
trips were made on the Mississippi. In all business relations—the
finances of the steamboat and flatboats, his seven years as treasurer
of the county—the more he was tried the more it was seen that he was
eminently capable, honest and efficient. In the forties he was married
to Malinda Shaw, who bore him three sons—John C, Henry and Edward. She
died in 1864. Within these years he had become an extensive landowner
and stock raiser, especially of fine cattle. In the building of the
narrow-gauge railway he was so important a factor that it could hardly
have been built without him. In this enterprise his large property was
lost. Since that time he has lived with his son, John C. Mason, in
Illinois and Indiana, and also with his brother Henry, just across
Richland creek in Taylor township, this county.
In 1824 a spot was
selected and surveyed for the county seat of Greene county, and named
Bloomfield. Three years before that, November 15, 182 1, Henry Mason,
with his father's family, came to within two miles of that place, where
a home was made, on which and near that vicinity all the family lived
long- lives and died. Henry was the last one, who died May 23, 1895. He
was born in Guilford county, North Carolina, September 22, 1820.
boyhood he plowed corn when young panthers "cut their capers" and
played like kittens on the fence. Mr. Mason was married to Mary J.
Quillen, December 15, 1853. To them no children were born. He had the
uncommon strong sense to know when he had enough of this world's goods
and the still higher manly and Christian quality to covet no more. His
oldest brother lost his property in building the narrow-gauge railway.
Henry told him, "While I have anything it is yours till it is gone." So
at his house that brother had a welcome home until, at past four-score
years, all was over with him on earth.
From Professor J. W.
Walker's history of Beech Creek township, published in Goodspeed's
history of Greene county, we learn that William Wilkerson was bom in
North Carolina, January 5, 1730. He was a soldier of the Revolution.
Particulars of his life in the army are all now lost. He was the father
of Squire Solomon Wilkerson, who laid out and named Solsberry in honor
one year he lived in an apartment of his son's house. The day he was
one hundred years old he split one hundred rails on top of the hill
where Dr. Axtell afterwards had his dwelling. He died in Brown county
in the summer of 1842, at the great age of one hundred and six years,
six months and one day. He delighted to tell of his patriotism during
his country's struggle for liberty.
in all wars a soldier, in
peace an honorable, useful citizen, was bom of Scotch-Irish parents, in
Ireland, in the decade of the fifties of the last century. He emigrated
from Cork, Ireland, to Virginia in time of the Revolutionary war. He
was in the springtime of early youth and he felt as had his fathers for
ages the grinding heel of oppression from the British government. In
the long past they had no chance to help themselves. Now he might
strike for God and home and the common rights of humanity.
enlisted in a Virginia regiment, marched, toiled, suffered and fought
seven weary years against that flag "that for a thousand years had
braved the battle and the breeze."
the best that can now be learned it seems that he was under General
Wayne. No particulars are known of his long career as a soldier in the
Revolution. We only know he was a gallant, efficient, useful man in it.
the blood and darkness had passed he put his hand to useful, honorable
industry. In no act did these matchless heroes more show their real
manhood than when they laid down their arms and walked the long, lonely
journey to their desolate homes, with not even money to pay for a
night's lodging—to beg their way, to work their way or starve their
way, just as they could.
Downing was a home and family man in peace, and in war was a soldier.
To have a home was what great numbers had left all in the old world
for. Just when Mr. Downing married cannot be told. The Revolution ended
early in the eighties of the seventeenth century. Early in the nineties
occurred Harmer's defeat here to the northwest. He was in that, for as
long as he was able, whenever he had a chance, he was in the army of
his adopted country manfully fighting the old, hated oppressor.
and St. Clair both having been beaten by the Indians under British
encouragement, Washington appointed Wayne to command in the northwest.
With the stem joy that warriors feel Mr. Downing marched under his old,
trusted, loved commander of the Revolution —"Mad Anthony," as he was
called. All this my father told his children when Mr. Downing passed
his house on his way to his son's (Andrew Downing) in 1832.
Wayne's signal victory at Fallen Timbers, called also the battle of
Maumee Rapids, he took part in, as a many-times veteran. That victory,
like Wayne's other great victory at Stony Point in the Revolution, was
gained with the bayonet.
Indians were behind the fallen trees blown down by a hurricane, which
gave the name Fallen Timbers. They supposed the whites would just be
good enough to stand and be shot.
quick a charge as possible was ordered. The logs were mounted, the
Indians were very still behind them : there they got the bayonet. Then
some getting up and running took place by the survivors, and they got
the bullet. Forward through that old forest went our army, and when the
foe was driven out of it the victory was complete. One may imagine how
so splendid a veteran as Mr. Downing, every fiber of soul and body
ablaze with battle, would bear himself through such a bayonet rush as
the dates of all his service are known to all. After this he is known
to have been long a soldier along the frontier on the Ohio River as
well as being, as we are caused to believe, five years in the regular
army, taking' in the War of 1812. Now which of these took place first
we do not know.
Fort Massac, on the Ohio River, in what is now Illinois, below the
mouth of the Tennessee River, he was on duty; how long is not known.
From there he carried the mail afoot and alone through the wilderness,
likely to the falls of the Ohio, now to Louisville. The lonely,
dangerous journey, the slow hours of night as they passed over the
silent man in his solitary bivouac, the writer never passed Fort Massac
without trying to imagine.
Through the War of 1812, from what little we know, it seems he was in
the regular army. Of his service in that war we have no particulars. It
is only known i that he was in it and was still a soldier up to 1818 ;
known that eleven years of his life ere spent in the tented field, and
whether longer is not known. This is the longest soldierly career in
actual war of any man who ever lived in Greene county. In 1818, on the
Kanawha River in West Virginia, he embarked his family on a flatboat
and came to Louisville. From there he came by land to Washington
county, Indiana, where my father knew him; settled on Walnut Ridge;
lived there until 1832, when he came to Bloomfield ; lived here some
years, then went to Jackson county, where, in 1852, he passed from
earth. In that year a land warrant was issued to him by the government
for one hundred and sixty acres. His children were John Andrew, so long
a very energetic citizen of Bloomfield, having built and operated the
Richland furnace, built the old brick court house and jail and many
other buildings, and was part owner of the steamboat "Richland"; Paul,
the great flatboat pilot; Albert and Gallatin (twins), and Peggy.
Andrew Downing was the
third son of Michael Downing, the veteran soldier of the Revolution, of
Wayne's victory in 1794, and the War of 1812, as well as five years'
service afterwards in the regular army. On the Kanawha River in West
Virginia, in 1818, he embarked on a flatboat with his father's family
and came to the falls of the Ohio River at Louisville ; from there by
land to Washington county, Indiana, then to Bloomfield about 1829.
the street from Wolf's blacksmith shop he built the first brick house
in Bloomfield. The first I remember of him he was a shoemaker, made the
first little pair of shoes I ever wore that I can remember, as well as
shoes for my two older sisters.
next business he engaged in was handling liquors and groceries, sugar,
coffee, molasses, etc. As early as 183 1 he built and ran the first
flatboat ever sent from Bloomfield.
1832 the cholera first came to America. That year, while on the river,
Mr. Downing became acquainted with the disease. After he came home
Thomas Warnick, clerk of the county, took it. He lived a mile south of
town, where Thomas Patterson now lives. The doctor gave him nothing but
calomel, which was no manner of use in this case. As soon as Mr.
Downing heard of it he went to him as fast as a horse could carry him.
The patient was in the collapsed stage—the cold sweat of death already
on him ; nothing but mechanical means is quick enough now. A big-
kettle of roasting ears in hot water was soon ready. These wrapped in
cloths so as not to burn were put in the bed all around the body and
limbs, then this heroic man held the patient still and held the covers
on through the agony of reaction. This is dreadful (I myself have been
there). When the blood goes back in the cold feet and legs it hurts
like hot needles. All this is just like a sinking chill. I have seen
both, for I had the cholera in New Orleans in 1849. Mr. Warnick was
saved and lived many years, engaging up Warnick was saved and lived
many years. Up to 1837 Mr. Downing engaged in merchandising' and
flat-boating. Some of the time his place of business was where the "Old
Stand" (tavern) is. At this time the old brick court house was on
contract. The builder drew his first one thousand dollars and ran away.
Mr. Downing was one of his sureties and had the house to build. In 1839
it was finished. William Eveligh was brought from Louisville as boss
carpenter on the house. This brought the family, which consisted of
three brothers and two sisters, all fresh from Ireland. The! sisters
were very beautiful.
Downing and Mr. M. H. Shryer were both widowers. The first event to
occur in the fine new court room was a big ball. The first act of the
ball was when all was in magnificent array, prompter and musicians in
their places, as Mr. Downing and Mr. Shryer and the two Eveligh sisters
stood up and were married.
brick block north of the square, built by himself, was where the
largest of his merchandising was done. The discovery of iron in
Richland creek attracted the attention of Mr. Downing, and for about
fifteen years engaged his great energy. The mill, store, bank, iron,
flatboat, canal-boat and steamboat business all had their part in his
affairs. The first brick house in Bloomfield, the first flatboat, the
brick block on the north side of the square, the old brick court house,
the brick jail that stood on the east side of the square, the house on
the hill where Mrs. Grismore lives, Richland forge and furnace, the
large mill that was burned where French's mill is, the town at the
furnace, the stone bank that was moved to Bloomfield and is here yet.
little stone house used for a "bank" at the furnace was built by Mr.
Davis, a refugee from Kentucky, who came some years before the war for
the Union on account of the trouble and danger then rife among the
people. He was a cousin of Jeff Davis—a tall, typical Kentuckian, who
with tenderness cherished his family. One of his children, Nettie
Davis, was as handsome an object as I ever saw or expect to see on
going down of the canal the iron business had to stop. Mr. Downing went
to Texas in 1857, got into the cattle business and politics, was
elected to the legislature from Bosque county. When the war for the
Union came on he was loyal. The "secesh" papers were killing their
enemies until they had more men dead than were in the whole nation on
fact he ventured to point out to them, so he had to leave the state. At
two different times he was over fifty hours in the saddle, until at
Fort Smith, Arkansas, he reached the United States army and safety.
Coming to Bloomfield, he stayed all winter with Colonel E. H. C.
Cavins, and when Bank's army entered Texas lie went with it, and
finally home. He was appointed United States marshal of Texas; held the
office some years, and died in 1872. His oldest son, John, he set up in
merchandising in the old brick block mentioned heretofore that was
burned years ago. In a short time John died. His other sons, Paul and
Andrew, are living- in Texas.
was the first clerk of Greene county, and he held the office for
fourteen consecutive years. He was the son of James Warnick, Sr., who
came from North Carolina and entered the land where Joseph Leavitt
lives, taking in the Bloomfield cemetery, March 16, 1818. In 1821 the
father was one of the first county commissioners; in that year the
county was organized. His home was on the knoll just north of Mr.
Leavitt's. On the land where the cemetery is a cabin was built in the
thick woods for a residence, I should think, because it was like a
residence cabin and not like a school house.
1832 the cabin had fallen to decay. Myself and another boy five years
old were out to see it ; looked in and saw that a person had been
buried inside ; no floor in it. Child-like, we ran with all our might.
This was the beginning of the cemetery, others being buried. near with
the consent of the land owners on down to the forming of a public
ground for the purpose. Such a rumor as that Mr. Warnick, Sr., had kept
school in the cabin existed in the long ago. If he did, it was the
first school probably in this vicinity. I knew old Mr. Warnick very
well. He was such a man as might have kept a school intelligent,
capable, trustworthy in office or in any other way.
27, 182 1, Thomas Warnick was commissioned clerk of Greene county for
seven years. June 4th following he was qualified. For some years he
lived with his father, where he was not very far from Burlington, then
the county seat. The first two or three courts were held at Thomas
Bradford's, a mile south of Bloomfield, at the place where Thomas
Revolutionary war a certain boy served in the army until he was of age
and the war over. His name was Gillam. On coming home in South Carolina
he married, went out in the woods to cut logs to build a house, became
so lonesome, being used to the bustle of camp nearly half of his life,
he concluded to run away. Just then his beautiful young wife came to
him with his dinner. This reconciled him, the logs were cut, house
built, and there he lived, raised a family and died. One son, Edward
Gillam, was one of the very first settlers of Greene county. He lived
and died where Dan M. Bynum lives, two miles east of Bloomfield. April
26, 1824, Thomas Warnick issued his own license to be married to Lydia.
daughter of Mr. Gillam.
the Warnicks came here there were still a few Indians wandering about,
and frequent were the tragedies which occurred in the silent forest
between them and the white men. Thirty years ago James Warnick, son of
our subject, told me "if that old hill could talk (the hill where
Joseph Leavitt lives) it could tell of some of the Indians being laid
out." When a child I heard a story that Thomas Warnick met an Indian
and they passed each other till fifty yards apart, when Warnick turned
around and shot him.
serving as county clerk the three years that the county seat was at
Burlington Mr. Warnick made his home with his parents. When Bloomfield
was laid out he built his house where the Sarget-McGannon residence
is—a hewed log, two-story, with an "L" for a kitchen. This was a very
great house for Bloomfield then.
to have a brick chimney. One of the most active young men was then
working his way through college at Bloomington. He could lay brick,
walked to Bloomfield and got the job of building the chimney. In after
years he never made a speech in our town while running for congress and
governor (he was elected to both) without speaking of his brick
chimney. He was Governor Joseph A. Wright, appointed by Lincoln
minister to Prussia.
Towards the last of the fourteen years during which Mr. Warick served
as clerk he bought the farm where Thomas Patterson and Clift Dixon now
live and moved to it.
decade of the forties the upper story of the old residence in town was
used as the Bloomfield high school.
Grammar schools and other select schools were kept there several years,
at night as well as day. "The Comet" was published there by Alfred
Edwards. This was a Whig paper, advocatitng" the election of William H.
Harrison for President. I remember to have seen a press in the kitchen,
so this might have been called a "printing house."
the militia law each county had a colonel. Mr. Warnick for some of
these years was colonel of Greene county. The fashion then was that
officers wore on parade, as part of the uniform, a Suarrow hat with a
plume in the top. This was the most showy hat ever worn. It was flat
from front to rear, stuck out wide at the corners and high up where the
plume was attached; in front a silver eagle. Wellington wore one at
Waterloo, as did Napoleon. No one bore himself with more pride on
parade than Mr. Warnick.
living on his farm my father sent me, then seven years old, to ask him
to come immediately for some business to town. I was on a very old
horse and he was on foot, but bantered me for a race—said he could beat
me to town, and started to run. All I could do was to whip up and
follow. He laughed at me heartily. The neat-shaped foot and active form
I well remember. Where is the man now who would like to run a footrace
a mile against a horse?
fourteen years of service, October I, 1835, his successor in office,
Samuel R. Cavins, was qualified.
old sand hill cemetery at Clift Dixon's and the Gillani graveyard, two
miles east of Bloomfield, the Warnicks and Gillams, most of them, rest.
PETER C. VAN SLYKE, SR.
Peter Cornelius Van
Slyke, Sr., was not in the Revolution, but he was the first man who
ever bought land intending to live on it in the vicinity of Bloomfield.
generations of the VanSlykes I have known who had the names of Peter
and Cornelius interchanged, one before the other each generation, the
last one, the oldest son of the Peter VanSlyke, many of you knew, died
Cornelius was a common name in Holland, where the VanSlykes came from.
Cornelius May was the first manager of the little far-trading post in
1623, where New York City now stands. The Vanderbilts. who are of the
same Dutch stock, still keep the name) Cornelius. In 1657 Cornelius
Adrian VanSlyke received a grant of land on the Hudson River, near
Catskill, from the government of New Amsterdam, when Peter Stuyvesant
was governor seven years before the English took it and named it New
century later finds the family on the Mohawk River, in Schenectady
county, New York, where our subject was bom April 5, 1766, on a fine
farm of river bottom and sandy upland similar to the land entered here,
taking in Bloomfield and all the land to the river in sight from the
Mr. Wake Edwards, of Louisiana, now seventy-one years old, who was
raised a neighbor in New York, told me while standing on the mound down
towards the iron bridge known as the VanSlyke cemetery mound. At
maturity he married Margaret Lighthall. Mrs. Joanna Eveleigh, who was
seventy-seven years old in 1897, told me that her mother told her he
was a soldier in the War of 1812. Mrs. Eveleigh is his grandchild and
was the first white female child born in the vicinity of Bloomfield.
His daughter, Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. Eveleigh's mother, said he was a very
fine-looking man with his regimentals on. His height was six feet and
four inches, weight at his best 250 pounds—just the same in height and
weight as George Washington.
dressed with the knee breeches, knee buckles, shoe buckles and
stockings in the fashion of the time. The Mohawk Indians were numerous
and he took many of their habits. His buckskin dress with fringe round
the hunting shirt and down the breeches legs were made like theirs. The
Mohawks were among the finest athletes in the world.
came to Indiana in 1816 and bought land, some of which is now the L. H.
Jones farm, to which he sent his son-in-law, John Vanvorst, in 1817. In
1818 he with his son Cornelius Peter and family moved by wagon,
bringing his own wife and unmarried children.
son Cornelius built a dug-out in the south side of the "burial mound,"
where there is yet a little depression which marks the spot. Mr.
Vanvorst had built south of there at the big spring.
old folks built south of Vanvorst's where they lived a few years, then
built not far west of where Col. A. G. Cavins now lives. At this place
he built a horse mill, which was a very important thing for the people.
Here they lived until old age when they went to their son Cornelius,
north of the cemetery mound, to spend their last days.
first piece of money ever coined by this government, a twelve and a
half cent piece, was one of his cherished relics.
with another silver coin of interesting history, which history, with
that of many others of his relics I have forgotten, were kept to be
placed on his eyelids to hold them shut after death. This was done. A
very small child, I was held up by my father, who had made his coffin,
and saw them on his eyelids there.
rare coins of silver and' gold of many nations were in his collection.
The first one thousand dollar bill issued by the old National Bank in
Philadelphia he had also. This had been at one time kept so long under
the house that it mostly rotted. Afoot he carried it back to
Schenectady, New York, to the man he got it of, and not his affidavit
of the fact, then still afoot went to the bank in Philadelphia and
showed the remains of the bill with his testimony. The bank gave him a
new bill in its place, after which the long tramp back home was made.
about seven hundred acres of land including part of what is now
Bloomfield, when Burlington was abandoned as a county seat he bought
fifty acres more from Samuel Gwathney, of Jeffersonville, and gave the
original town plat to the county on condition that the county seat was
to be placed on it. This deed was made in 1824.
past life has been so full of incident that in his last days he told my
father he thought he would write it out for his friends, but this was
September 25, 1834, at the home of his son, Cornelius P., he passed to
eternity; was buried on the mound by his wife, who was laid there only
a few days before, where to this day no stone marks the spot where the
"dust" of the man who left many thousands of dollars in money and
hundreds of acres of land is resting in the long sleep of death. Since
then a stone was set there, furnished by the war department, in
recognition of his services as a soldier. My father was one of the men
appointed by the executors to count the money. I went with him to the
house of death and saw it. The silver and gold, or may be only the
silver, made their fingers black like they had been handling lead—when
it was hauled to John Inman's up in town, who lived on the corner
lately burnt out, where the postoffice was.
this money, land and all was "entailed" by will to the third "Peter,"
then a minor, for the name's sake, Inman trustee and guardian. On
coming of age "Peter" sued Inman for the whole amount; swept it all
from him; left him in old age with no where to lay his head.
Unfaithfulness in duty—not giving it over at the proper time was the
cause of the entire misfortune.
Biographical memoirs of
Greene County, Ind. B.F. Bowen Co 1908
Source: FHL 1351156