GREENE COUNTY TOWNS.
W. D. Ritter tells the
names and origin of some of our towns as follows:
About 1819 Fair Play was
laid out as a town by white men. Solomon Dixon, owner of the town site,
the county's first representative in the legislature, the leading man
of the neighborhood as to wealth and influence, owner of valuable fast
horses, a trainer and racer whose motto was "fair play," named the town.
Before this, for ages
untold, a town had been there by the aborigines. Earthen pots have been
dug up that were several feet in the ground. The pots had been
cooked—the fire-black was fresh upon them. How the pots were made is a
On the outside is the
print of grass, as if the mud of the pot had been plastered inside of a
vessel platted out of prairies grass, then dried and burned. The grass
burned off, the prints showing outside. What caused me to think of the
grass pot was the fact that I saw at Colonel DeWitt Wallace's, in the
city of Lafayette, a pot platted from prairie grass that had been made
out West, which was watertight. It was used to make soup in. Put the
grasshoppers and water in, then put in hot pebbles to boil it, take out
cold pebbles and put in hot ones until the cooking is done. The pottery
is on both sides of the river—out on the Grismore and Heaton farms on
the east side of the river, and in the north side of the town of Fair
Play on the west side of the river. Jack Bradford, in digging his
cellar forty years ago, took out some of the pots. The town of Fair
Play is no longer in existence.
In 1821 Burlington was
laid out as the county seat. It was where Sam Harrah lives, two miles
northwest of Bloomfield.
The water well at the
Harrah home was the public well on the public square of the county seat
in the woods. The name was possibly given it by old Hiram Howard, of
Vermont, in memory of the town of that name in his native state. Three
years of dignity was all that was allowed to Burlington. The well did
not supply enough water, so the county seat was moved. Burlington is no
longer a town.
About this time John
O'Neal, my mother's father, started the town of Newberry, so named in
memory of Newberry, South Carolina.
Judge L. B. Edwards, in
his history of Greene county, published in the "Indiana Atlas and
Gazetteer," says it was named for a town in North Carolina, or, at
least, the types made him say so.
This is the only mistake
in his excellent history. South Carolina was an Eng-lish colony, and
Newberry an English name.
In St. Paul churchyard,
London, England, is a family named Newberry, who were booksellers for
ages. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was a promoter of colonies in the South. My
mother's mother, Hephzebah Gilbert, a distant relative of his, always
spoke of England as "home." Dr. H. E. Gilbert, D. D., was a man of
Looking back in the dim
past of Greene county, Scotland was named by David Wallace and Jimmy
Haig, the latter the grandfather of the Haigs of Bloomfield, after the
land of their nativity.
Other persons of the same
land were of the early colony—the Anderson family for one, of whom Jack
Anderson, of Taylor township, is a descendant.
Davy Wallace cut a
straight tree, cut off a rail cut and mauled all day; at night he had
two rails. Now, this would not do, so he got Thomas Plummer, Sr., the
man for whom Plummer creek and township were named (the township since
divided into Taylor and Cass), a man who knew what it was to be in the
woods and what to do in the woods, to show him some trees that would
split. After that Davy could have some rails. Tho tree that cost so
much work and gave so few rails, he said, he believed they called it
"goom" (gum). This entire story, as told by the sufferer in his very
broad Scottish dialect, was one of the much-repeated "tales" of the log
cabin age of the county. Scotland now has the enviable reputation of
being; a place where people mind their own business, earn an honest
living, have no dogger)', pay their debts, are prosperous and happy.
Marco was one of the
first settlements of the county. The first entry of land was made by
Allen Reaves, in 1816. The Stafford family, who gave the name to the
township, is of the fine old English stock who have for ages made
England famous and wealthy by her splendid stock, especially cattle.
One of the last times I ever talked with a Stafford he had just been
buying some cow halters. The very rich corn land attracted the Dixons
as well as Staffords. That same land is now feeding the great herds of
the present Morgans. Before these Morgans a family of the same name
lived in the township, who came from Virginia. These men of the present
are sons of "Georgie" Morgan, a Yankee, who was in the sixties of the
last century a county commissioner.
Members of the Virginia
family were relatives of the famous General Dan Morgan, of the
Revolution. Zack Morgan, of the second generation of the family, is yet
remembered by a very few. The name "Marco" I remember a very little
about in connection with Hugh Massey, a useful and very early citizen
of African descent, who had a "cotton gin" when cotton was raised in
Greene county. My father had a cotton gin in Daviess county at the same
time. My mother had cotton cards, with which she carded cotton into
"rolls" to be spun. Our ancestors' clothes were made in part of that
material. Who gave the name, and for what reason, I do not know. The
present town is some distance from the old one.
Jonesboro was so named by
the early citizens, and when the postofnce1 department was applied to
for an office they could not call the office by the town name because
there was an office of that name in Grant county, so they named the
The two names have had a
hard time of it—many people don't know "which is t'other." In the long
ago the name of "Screamersville" was used because the people expressed
themselves "out loud" in time of election. Fifty years ago in
Louisville, Kentucky,. a woman asked me if I lived near "Bibbsville."
Long afterward I learned that that was the best she could do with the
name Hobbieville. So in time passed three names that had done service
for one town.
Libern Owen built a
blacksmith shop, laid out a town in the green woods and named it
"Owensburg" in 1842. '"Dresden" was so named in memory of the native
town in Ohio from which some of the first settlers had emigrated.
"Mineral City" (Fellow's Mill) was so named by the railroad authorities
because there is coal in the vicinity. Rockwood (Ruth's-ford) by the
same authority; Robinson also.
In the state of New York
there are two Bloomfields (east and west), and in many other states
towns of the same name.
Twenty years ago I
received a letter from England, directed "Bloomfield, United States of
America." It had been to six Bloomfields—one in Iowa, one in Illinois,
one in Missouri and one in New Jersey, where the postmaster had
directed, "Try Bloomfield, Indiana." The writer did not know that the
state must be on the direction.
When Bloomfield, Greene
county, was laid out and ready for a name, Dr. Hallet B. Dean, who had
been a citizen of the first county seat, and was raised in one of the
Bloomfields of New York, proposed the name. Point Commerce was laid out
by J. M. H. Allison and his brother, John F. Allison, in April, 1836,
and was so named because of their intention of buying and shipping
produce down the river. An average of fifteen flatboats a year for many
years were run to New Orleans by these very enterprising men. Their
business was larger than has been done by any firm in the county. This
town is no longer in existence.
When the canal was built
on the west side of Eel river opposite Point Commerce, Andrews and
Barrackman, in April, 1849, laid out Worthington, so named because Mr.
Andrews came from a town of that name in Ohio, which town was named
after one of the first governors of that state.
Jasonville was named for
Jason Rogers, one of the proprietors of the place.
Linton was named for a
Terre Haute man who ran for congress at the time of the laying out of
the town Dixon, after Daniel G. Dixon, its proprietor.
Switz City, for the
landowner of the town site.
Lyons was named by the
proprietor, 'Squire Joe Lyon, of Bloomfield, who for years had been
treasurer and auditor of the county.
Solsberry, for Solomon
Wilkerson, one of her citizens, who was a son of William Wilkerson, the
Revolutionary soldier, who split a hundred rails on Solsberry hill the
day he was a hundred years old.
Newark was named for the
town of that name in Ohio.
Koleen was named by the
railroad authorities because "koleen" clay, used in making dishes, is
found in that vicinity.
PIONEER REMINISCENCES. By
W. D. Ritter.
As to high connection and
good blood, Hugh L. Livingston possibly stood above any who ever made
their home in Greene county.
Colonel John Stokely, the
county's first surveyor, was "aide" to General Washington and well
connected. One of the family was mayor of Philadelphia in time of the
Centennial, but of his ancestry we know nothing.
Of the Livingstons it is
known that four earls (lords) of Linilthgow, in Scotland, lived before
the days of "Mary Queen of Scots," and that at her birth (1542) the
fifth Lord Alexander Livingston was one of her guardians, and that his
daughter Mary was one of the four little girls (all Marys) appointed to
be companions and playmates of the little queen. In an old ballad of
the time it was said:
"Last night the queen had
four Marys, Tonight she'll ha'e but three; She had Mary Seaton and Mary
Beaton And Mary Livingston and me."
It is known that Queen
Mary had attendants of the greatest devotion, who stayed with her
through her long imprisonment and forsook her not at the tragedy of the
scaffold, but whether Mary Livingston was one of these is not known.
The first American
Livingston crossed the Atlantic in 1674 and settled in Albany, New
York. His name was Robert. At twenty-one years of age he became
secretary of Indian affairs. In twelve years he had bought of the
Indians one hundred and fifty thousand acres of land, now nearly all of
the counties of Dutchess and Columbia. He was a tall, handsome man, of
courtly manner. Governor Dongan, of New York, erected his estate into
the "manor and lordship of Livingston," which act was confirmed by King
George I. Down to the Revolution four of the family were British lords.
At that time Robert R. (chancellor) was lord of the manor. One of the
family was married to the Scottish Lord Stirling, who became General
Stirling of the Revolution.
These four generations
were all eminent for culture and high usefulness, intermarried with the
very highest class. One was the wife of General Montgomery, who fell at
Quebec in 1775.
A three-story mansion of
hewn stone in New Yorkcity— the mansion on the "manor"—and one in
Albany, for generations were kept up by the family, in all of which
much "entertaining" was given to those of the highest influence in the
land. The family of the "chancellor" was specially noted in all
respects—for numbers (five sons and seven daughters), talent, beauty
and the utmost usefulness. Three daughters married leading generals of
the Revolution. One (Catherine) married the noted preacher, Freeborn
Garretson. Of her a very fine steel engraving exists, which shows her
to have been superb in appearance. The Livingstons of the present—one
of them is an admiral in the navy, has been for many years— there were
college presidents, judges, doctors of divinity, doctors of law, etc.
Alexander Hamilton was befriended when a penniless boy by them. The
wife of John Jay was a Livingston. Among their very particular friends
were George and Martha Washington, especially while the capitol was at
Robert R. (Chancellor)
was on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence ; would
have signed it, but other duties to his state kept him out of congress
just then. His brother Philip did sign it. The "Chancellor"
administered the oath to Washington at his first inauguration ; he also
assisted Robert Fulton and made possible the first steamboat, which was
named "Clermont," after his home. This boat ran on the Hudson. He sent
his friend Roosevelt to Pittsburg, who went from there to New Orleans
in a canoe to see if the Ohio and Mississippi would do for steamboats.
He then gave money to build the "New Orleans," which made the first
trip to New Orleans in 1811.
Edward, his brother, was
our minister to France, and bought Louisiana from the first Napoleon
for fifteen million dollars.
When the states were
invited by congress to set monuments of their greatest Revolutionary
leaders in the rotunda of the national capitol, New York responded with
statues of Robert R. Livingston and George Clinton. Gilbert Livingston,
brother of Robert R., had a son who married a Laurens, a relative of
the gifted, eminent Colonel Laurens, of the Revolution. At the old
"manor" on the Hudson, in the year 1800, Hugh L. was born. While a
child the father moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he was
reared. In youth he entered West Point, but did not graduate ; went
under Captain Bainbridge on a cruise on the Mediterranean ; also one on
the Caribbean sea.
I have heard him name the
mathematical terms used in the rtavy in training the gunners. From
certain causes Americans have been exceptional in skill to shoot. The
first Napoleon was so astonished at their shooting on sea in the War of
181 2 that he sent for two of their guns to see what kind they were. He
saw at once that it was not in the gun, but the man.
Once a member of the
British parliament moved that they use means to train their gunners. In
his speech he said: "You might put Americans on a raft and they would
sink the best battleship England owns."
On his return he studied
law. His studies finished, he came to Indiana in 1822. In his very
nature dwelt the instinct of courtly manner and bearing. Such manner I
have never seen equaled.
Dr. Franklin called
Robert R. the "Cicero of America" ; Hugh L. was called the "American
Chesterfield" by those who knew him best.
When a child in my
father's log cabin home (my father was a justice of the peace) often
have I seen him address the "court." The phrase "Your Honor" he spoke
with a genuine politeness that was perfect—could not he more so if the
"court" had been the supreme court of the nation instead of an humble
dwelling where the children had to be—no other place to hold court.
The first circuit court
ever held in the county ( 1812) was by a large log-heap fire, a mile
south of Bloomfield, where Thomas Patterson now lives. I knew him very
well. Forty-two years he has been in the grave.
The late Judge Mack, of
Terre Haute, once a citizen of Bloomfield, wrote for the Louisville
Journal that he had to contend with Dewy, Dunbar, Blackford, Whitcomb,
General Howard, Colonel Thompson, at times Rowan, of Kentucky, George
C. Dunn and others who were equal, but such was his ability that he
soon rose to the head of the bar, where he stood thirty-five years. He
had a great deal of practice in the supreme court. He died in
Bloomfield, May 16, 1857. His surviving children by two marriages are:
Mrs. Colonel Alexander, of Denver, Colorado ; Mrs. A. G. Cavins, of
Bloomfield; Edward, of Missouri, and Mrs. Throop, of Linton. Indiana.
By W. D.
THE DIXON FAMILIES IN GREENE
By far the most numerous
and in some respects most important connections of people who settled
first in this county were the Dixons. Ancestry.—The Romans called
England "Albion while they had it; the ancient inhabitants called it
"Britain"; the Saxons called it "Eng" (grass) land. They were a
pastoral people, and wanted the land to raise cattle on. For ages that
island has been famous for her cattle. When King Alfred was a fugitive
he stayed, with a cow herder, whose wife gave him that good scolding
for letting the cakes burn on the hearth while she went out to milk the
cows (he was in disguise and she did not know who he was). She told him
he was willing enough, to eat them, but was "too good for nothing" to
watch them a little.
The Dixons are of the
fine old English stock that has paid attention to cattle and horses for
many generations. With other immigrants they came to Virginia as long
as two centuries ago ; from there to Tennessee, then to Indiana, the
first of them in 1816. The very best of the land in Stafford, Fair Play
and Jefferson townships is where they made their homes.
Solomon Dixon entered
land first in 1816; in 1821 he was the county's first representative.
His home was near Fair Play, where the old house still stands. They had
a "deer park" for the pets, of which he generally had as many as a
dozen. The old aristocratic habit of having peafowls he kept up to the
end of life.
The old English love of
good horses, and fast ones, too, was strong in their breasts. To test
the speed and "bottom" of their young horses, they had a race track of
their own a mile below Fair Play. High old times were had there for
many years. The land is excellent and in late years used to raise com.
When eight years old, with others, I went to a big race on that track.
We were too late to see
the great race of the day. Smaller races were in progress. The first
thing I saw was a fine young Mr. Dixon roll off to a great distance
from the horse he had been riding in a race. The horse had fallen with
great violence in the struggle. The rider lay as one dead, but revived,
if I remember rightly. The horse, a very valuable one, was ruined
entirely. The nice proportioned young man, his fine clothes, he laying
so still when he stopped rolling toward the fence—all are a picture in
my memory yet plain as can be. Old Solomon Dixon had a clock which he
took to "time" his horses on the track. No "new-fangled" stop-watches
would do him —his clock had a second hand to it.
At the tornado at
Natchez, about 1842, young Joseph Dixon, who was on his way down the
Mississippi with a boatload of corn, was killed. He was blown two miles
up the river and out into the back-water, where he was found. This
storm was something like the one at Galveston, Texas. This young man
was said to have been the most promising one of all the then numerous
Major John R. Dixon, his
cousin, searched several days for his body before finding it. The major
was sheriff of the county of Greene many years, and later was
representative. The Dixons were relatives of the Pryors, of Virginia.
One son of Solomon Dixon was named Pryor. He died while a youth. The
Pryors are and have been very high-classed, chivalrous "F. F. Vs."
Roger A. Pryor took a
very active part in the rebellion. He it was who crawled in at a
port-hole of Fort Sumter to talk to the commander, Major Anderson, in
regard to surrender. A lady of the family is now a very fine writer of
very high standing among the elite of the Old Dominion.
William Dixon, to whom so
much of the property fell by heirship, has long been numbered with the
things that were. He died-without heirs. He was nearly the last of the
once powerful race in the count)', where they had held sway so long.
Some of the descendants of John H. Dixon, of Highland township, as well
as those of Stephen and Eli, who owned the best farms south of
Worthington. are living in the states west of here. Dixon county.
Tennessee, and the city of Dixon, in Illinois, were named for the
family on account of their settlement there, their numbers and
The city of the dead, two
miles south of Worthington, is one of the oldest and largest cemeteries
in the county—the Dixon graveyard.
Peter Hill is said to
have been the man who built the first log cabin in Bloomfiekl. It was
on lot No. 36, where Asbury Haines now lives; it was built in 1824.
Cabins ranged in size
from fourteen by sixteen to sixteen by eighteen and eighteen by twenty
feet. Logs had to be small, eight to ten inches in diameter, so that
the small force could put them up. Some of smaller dimensions and of
smaller logs were raised by the pioneer and his faithful wife. Mr. Hill
was from North Carolina. His cabin was of the pretentious kind, larger
than some others and "scutched" down, logs hewn a little inside. In
very early life I remember of taking the census of Bloomfield. I stood
where the old locust trees are on the corner of the Colonel E. H. C.
Cavins property, then the home of my father, and counted the cabins in
the county seat. There were ten of them. At my next count there were
twelve. The town looked mighty big then. Not a nail was used in any of
The "boards" of the roof
were held by weight poles. The "poles" were kept apart by "knees" so
they laid on the lower end of each "course." The lower end at the eave
was held hy a split pole on the corner logs, so the flat side came
against the ends of the boards. "Ribs," "knees," weight poles and
butting poles (the latter the split pole the boards "butted" against)
were the "pat" words at a log cabin raising. Where a goodly number were
present a "raising" was a high old time. "Cornermen" were elected, to
stay on the comers with axes to "saddle" the log that had been placed
and "notch" the next one to fit on the saddle. These cornermen felt
pretty big—would shout "Roll up your dough" at the hands, meaning roll
up the logs.
The roof was not very
steep. The weight poles would keep a young Hoosier from falling or
sliding off. So up there was a good place to gad about, yell, sing
songs or talk to other young ones on their house, if a house be near. A
quarrel could proceed and the parties feel pretty safe under such
Mr. Hill's wife was a
Brooks—kin to the present Brooks, of Bloomfield. She was by nature a
"landlady." So in a few years, when a two-story tavern was built where
the Hert store is now, the Hills took charge of it; kept it for ten
years. When the present "old stand" was built by Joseph Eveligh, they
kept that many years longer. After several removes, Mr. Hill died where
Dan Bynum now lives, two miles east of Bloomfield, about the year 1840.
Two notable descendants,
grandchildren of his, who were reared, one in California and the other
in Kansas, have visited the old home within twenty years—both more than
commonly attractive and beautiful. The one from California, Nettie
Hill, was much astonished at thunder and lightning—said in her state it
never thundered. She married Steve Huff, of Bloomfield. The other,
Gertie Hill, of Kansas, said she never saw a drunken man in her life
until she saw one in Sandborn, Indiana. Yes, "prohibition prohibits" in
By W. D. Ritter.
BRADFORD, THE FOUNDER
OF GREENE COUNTY.
By W. D. Ritter.
Further back than the
town of Bradford, county of Yorkshire, in England, we know nothing- of
Whether John and William
Bradford, who came on the Mayflower and signed the celebrated "compact"
at Cape Cod, November n, 1620, came from Yorkshire, we do not know, but
have reason to think they did. John was afterward governor of the
colony and gave the order to have the first "Thanksgiving" on the last
Thursday of November, 1621.
The climate of New
England was fatal to many of the colonists. The first governor, Carver,
and half the people died the first winter. A branch of the Bradford
family removed to North Carolina, where, about 1785, our subject,
Thomas Bradford, was born in Orange county, of that state. In 1814 he
came to Orange county, Indiana, which county got its name from Orange
county settlers from North Carolina. He was advised to return to
Carolina until the Indians could be removed from what is now Greene
county, which was his destination. This he did, and in 1816 came back
Three brothers of them
came together; the other two settled, lived and died in Daviess county.
The sand hill where Thomas Patterson now lives, a mile south of
Bloomfield, was his first home.
In 1821 he took legal
steps to organize the county of Greene. The first court was held at his
house, or, rather, near it, for it was by a large log-heap, on fire out
of doors; the court room was large and airy. For the next twenty years
his life was but the history of the county. Having at first secured the
appointment of commissioners to locate the county seat, he entertained
them at his house, filled the office of sheriff pro tern, to notify in
regard to electing county officers, had the election held at his own
house, filled many of the offices required, gave the officers their
certificates of election, and did so many other things as to the
starting into life of the county government that it makes us think of
the fact that historians cal.l the Mayflower compact by the eminent
name of "organization." Associate judges acted with the presiding
judges then, and Mr. Bradford held that, as well as many other offices,
for many years. At times it was impossible for the presiding judge to
be present, then the associate judges held court without him. The
office of associate judge has long been abolished. Mr. Bradford lived
near Burlington, the old county seat, about twenty years.
Yorkshire, in England, is
the home of arts and mechanics; Sheffield has no rival on earth for
working metals. Mr. Bradford had the old mechanic blood in him was a
blacksmith of more than common capability. Old persons in all this
neighborhood yet remember the skill as a blacksmith of his son,
Garrison Bradford ; it was unequaled. For sixty years my father and
myself have had a hand vise, seven inches long, that Thomas Bradford
brought from North Carolina. Not far from 1840 he passed away. Now all
his larg-e family have followed him. In person he was the genuine
Puritan—short stature, square shoulders, compact chest, figure alert
and tapering from shoulders to heels, arm tapering from shoulders to
finger ends, showing him to be just what he was— a man of all-round
capability. His descendants in the county are numerous, all of whom,
like himself, are citizens of usefulness and good repute.
By W. D. Ritter.
The man who built the
first log cabin—William Latta—in 1816, built his cabin on the hill just
south of where the canal railroad crosses the creek now bearing his
name. Jack Baber thought this to be the first white habitation in the
Where Mr. Latta came from
we do not know. The Lindleys were among the first who entered land in
the county, and Zach Lindley, a very famous horsethief catcher, of
Orange county, had part in finding a fine gray mare which had been
stolen, and which belonged to Mr. Latta, but I do not know if they were
relatives or neighbors. From the character of the mare and the way she
had been kept we can construct a very good character Mr. Lindley, in
Orange county, before the owner got to see her, Mr. Latta made the
request that he, with other for the owner.
The scientists, from a
very small part of a skeleton, can construct all the rest. She (the
animal) was, in the first place, a very good one, and when in
possession of men, be allowed to put his hand in the crack of the log
stable and let the mare pick out her master. This was done in such
manner that she could not see the men. She smelled of the hands along
without showing interest till she came to the right one, when she
nickered and fondled and licked the hand in such a way that satisfied
all perfectly as to the acquaintance that existed between the parties.
As early as 1818 my
father was in "VanSlyke bottom," when piles of deer hair and turkey
feathers waist high lay where the Indians had camped and was at Mr.
Latta's house, which was just across the river. The Indians had told
the whites of "cold sick" (ague) on Latta's creek. Professor Latta, of
Purdue University, thinks he is a relative of our "first settler." So
he told me when he was at our farmers' institute some years ago.
The professor is one of
the most valuable of citizens, able and honest! in his teaching to the
fanners, and so capable in selecting teachers to send over the state.
So far as I know all these not only teach the people how to work, but
to take care of their earnings. They teach them not to spend one cent
at the saloon.
The Lindleys went to
Hendricks county, where the Quakers made a settlement on White Lick, a
perfect garden spot, where many descendants of them and the Jessups now
live. The Greene county Jessups are their kin. I do not think Mr. Latta
died here, but whether he went to White Lick I do not know.
By John M. Harrah, M. D.
The first doctor of any
prominence whom I remember was a young man named Fitzgerald, who was
located for a while in the neighborhood of what is now Linton, in 1840.
He came to visit my
great-grandmother in her last illness, and I can remember how he looked
as he bent over her bed in examining her. He did not long remain in the
neighborhood, and the next doctor I remember was William G. Skinner,
who came to the county early— think he must have come in the thirties,
perhaps in 1838 or the year following.
He was said to be well
educated for that day and did much business, riding from his home in
Scaffold Prairie, Smith township, to Black creek and all over the
western and northern part of the county. He remained here until about
1850, when he returned to his eastern home in New York.
About the time Dr.
Skinner located in the county Drs. Shepherd and Johnson located in
Point Commerce and remained until they died in 1850 or 1851. I am not
sure of the exact date, but they died about the same time. Dr. Johnson
died of cholera and Dr. Shepherd, I think, died of bilious colic.
They were both popular
and eminent physicians, and did much business. Some time in the early
thirties Dr. John A. Pegg came to the county and located in the village
of Fair Play, where he lived during the epidemic of cholera and devoted
his talents to the afflicted during that trying time. Some few years
after this he moved to the country, bought land and built a house, in
which he died about the year 1876.
He did an immense
practice, and had he been remunerated as he deserved he would have been
wealthy. His children are nearly all dead, I think. He has one
daughter, Mrs. Shoptan, living in Worthington, and one (Mrs. Parsley)
who lives in Indianapolis; also a son, Isaac, whose home, I think, is
the Soldiers' Home at Marion, Indiana.
About the year 1848 Dr.
William F. Sherwood, the father of Drs. E. T., Ben and Hal Sherwood,
now living in Linton, located there and died there in 1874. He did much
practice and was a man of great influence in the community, and his
sons are among the most respected practitioners of the county today.
In 1850 Dr. Abram J.
Miller, with whom I read medicine, located in Linton, where he soon
became known as a skillful as well as a careful and industrious
physician, and he had all the business he could attend to. During the
Civil war he removed to Paris, Illinois, where he soon became one of
the leading physicians. He died there about the year 1903.
Dr. E. J. Jackson came to
Linton in the year 1863 and remained there until his death, which
occurred about the close of the century. He was a man of much ability
and left a number of children, who reside in Linton.
At Newberry Drs. Dagley,
Stoddard, McDaniel and O'Neal were among the earliest to locate, and
all of these have passed over from labor to reward.
Dr. Nathan Kimball, who
was prominent in the affairs of the army during the war, and who was
made a major general on his merits, practiced medicine in the county,
living in Newberry.
I have not the room in
this article to name all the men who came here early to engage in the
healing art, but will mention only a few. Dr. James A. Mintich came to
Point Commerce in 1854 and died in Worthington in 1897; Dr. J. H.
Axton, who located in Worthington in 1850 and moved to Illinois about
1862 ; Dr. W. B. Squire, who came to Jasonville in 1854, served in the
army during the Civil war, and located in Worthington at its close,
where he died a few years ago; Dr. William L. Greene lived in
Worthington and vicinity before and during the war, and died in
Worthington during the present year (1908).
There are many names
which I cannot recall at this time, and as there are no records of
these men I have no means of knowing about them, although many of them
were reputable and deserving of honorable mention.
The men who are now
active in the profession have, most of them, entered since the middle
of the last century, and while their opportunities for acquiring
knowledge have been far superior to those whom I have mentioned, they
have much to be thankful for in other respects. The pioneer doctor had
a most laborious profession and led a life of toil. He was subject to
calls at all hours of the day and night, rode horseback over all kinds
of roads, exposed to all the weather, through sunshine, rain, hail,
sleet and snow, and with small compensation. Most of the physicians of
whom I have written died rather young, and few accumulated a great deal
of property, but they had the satisfaction of knowing that they were
useful members of society and that they were held in esteem by the best
people of .the community.
I have only mentioned
those who lived west of White river except those who lived at Newberry,
as I was not acquainted on the east side of the river in early life,
having been reared in the western part of the county.
The experiences of the
first hardy settlers in Greene county form a stoiy of trials,
privations and sufferings and a picture of heroism and triumph, which
never lias been and never will be adequately portrayed. While distant
from their native homes and out of reach of every civilized comfort,
they transformed patches of woodland here and there into bearing
fields, and yielded to nothing but protracted and blighting disease and
death. The rude log cabins in which they lived were utterly devoid of
ornament or adornment. The half of one side of the only room was
devoted to the fireplace, at which the members of the family toasted
their shins, the good wife meanwhile cooking the simple meal of corn
cakes and wild meat on the same fire. The one room was parlor, kitchen,
diningroom and bedroom, and, in the coldest weather, some of the few
domestic animals were kindly given a night's shelter from the storm.
The furniture consisted
of a few splint-bottomed and bark-bottomed chairs of the plainest and
roughest sort, made by the use of a hatchet, augur and jack-knife,
bedsteads and a table of a light character, and a scanty set of cooking
utensils, the most important of which were the skillet and a pot. There
were no pictures on the walls, no tapestry hung at the windows, and no
carpets were on the puncheon floors.
The ornaments of the
walls were the rifle and powder horn, bunches of beans, medicinal herbs
and ears of corn for the next planting suspended from pegs driven into
the logs of which the wall was composed. The windows needed no
curtains, as they were made of a material which not only kept out
strong sunlight and the fierce winds of winter, but admitted a
sufficient amount of the former for all practical purposes. In this
matter the pioneers displayed an amount of ingenuity that could be
called forth only by the mother of invention—necessity. Sheets of paper
were procured and soaked in hog's lard, by which procesr they became
translucent, and these pasted to some crosf sticks placed in the
opening for the purpose constituted the window of the early log cabin.
Puncheon floors were a luxury and not to be found in every house, as in
many the native soil was both floor and carpet.
The long winter evenings
were spent in conversation over some personal events of the day, or of
recollections of events of the old homes in the east or south from
which they had emigrated. The sunshine of literature did not circulate
very freely. The whole library consisted of a Bible, an almanac and a
few school books. A tallow dip afforded the only artificial light. In
1830 a clock or watch was a novelty, and the pioneer marked time by the
approach of the shadow of the door to the sun mark, or the cravings of
the stomach for its ration of corn bread and bacon.
Daytime was devoted to
labor, and great was the toil. The shouts and exclamations of the gangs
as they' rolled and piled the logs preparatory to burning could be
heard for miles. Corn huskings, grubbings, flax-pullings and other
gatherings were also sources of enjoyment. Night brought its
compensations in the form of the social gathering when all the
neighbors would crowd into a narrow cabin to crack jokes and tell
stories, while the voiceful catgut gave forth enlivening strains of
music, and four and eight-handed reels, even round, till the break of
The fields of the first
settlers were not very extensive, and consequently their crops were not
very large. In fact during the first few years they had no incentive to
raise more than was required for home consumption, as there was no
market for surplus stock. The flail was the first implement used to
thresh the grain with, but was not so popular as that of tramping it
out with horses, which method was adopted later. The grain and chaff
were separated by the wind, or by a sheet in the hands of persons. The
four-horse ground-hog, as it was called, eventually supplanted the old
methods. It was a rude affair, in comparison with the improved machines
now in use.
The mowing scythe, hand
rake and wooden pitchfork were the implements of the hay harvest. The
grain scoop was not known for several years. In cribbing corn, it was
either thrown with the hands or pushed out of the end of the wagon bed
with the foot. Iron scoops did not come into use until emigration set
in from the east. In the cultivation of corn, the hoe was largely used.
"Plow shallow and hoe well," was the prevailing rule.
We might continue our
description of early modes of farming, customs and habits to almost an
endless length ; suffice it to say, that in all the departments of
life, a corresponding simplicity was the rule. How different we find it
now! It is useless to attempt to enumerate the comforts and modern
conveniences now in use. Things unthought of by the old pioneers abound
everywhere. Industrious hands and active brains have been at work, and
we behold on every hand a wonderful, a rapid, a happy change.
The few cabins scattered
over the county were all made of logs with the traditional
"cat-and-clay" chimney, the huge fireplace, the rude chairs, benches,
floor and door, and the hanging herbs, dried venison and beef and the
rifles and axes. The ground, when cleared, was rich, and on the lower
lands fifty bushels of corn could be raised to the acre. The old wooden
mold-board plow was the principal agricultural implement, or perhaps
that ancient implement, the hoe, was, as the stumps and roots were too
thick for plows. Corn was ground at Slinkard's mill, or at Washington,
Daviess county, where the settlers usually went when the winter's
supply of flour was to be obtained and where the marketing was to be
done,' the trip consuming several days. There it was the first plows
were sharpened. The cutter could be taken off and sharpened by a
blacksmith and reattached. The old wooden mold-board plow mostly in use
was called the "Bull's plow," and was regarded as a high type of art.
Blacksmiths made them. In a short time shops were established nearer
than Washington, and homes, mills, stores, etc., as good as could he
found anywhere in the wilderness rendered useless the long and
harassing trip to Daviess county. Wheat was raised in small quantities
and was threshed with a flail on a puncheon floor, on in some cases
tramped out after the custom so old that the memory of man runneth not
to the contrary. It was the custom in the reign of the Pharaohs of
Egypt, and in the old Assyrian and Babylonian dynasties, in times
antedating authentic history. Cattle were driven around and around upon
the grain in the stalk until all was cut to pieces, when the grain was
separated from the chaff by the tedious process of winnowing. Corn was
raised easier by the early settlers than wheat, and was the "staff of
life." "Hog and hominy" have become household words in the Hoosier
dialect. Pumpkins were grown in large quantities and sweetened and
prepared for the table, with maple sugar or syrup, or fed to the
cattle. The peavine pastures of early years were famous for the herds
of cattle. Cattle eagerly sought this vine, and though it imparled a
strong taste to milk and butter, still it was not unpleasant after a
few weeks' use. Hogs ran wild in the woods, subsisting the year round
on the rich "mast" which covered the ground.
It seems strange, but the
fact is that in early years cotton was quite extensively grown in
Greene county. The early settlers, many of them, had come from the
southern states, where cotton and tobacco were the principal staples,
and where it was thought that "cotton was king" and tobacco queen, and
that their kingdom was bounded on the east by the oceans and on the
north and south by the British possessions and Mexico. It was not
dreamed that the rich soil of the northern states was to create a
revolution in farm products, placing corn and wheat on the throne so
long occupied by the justly illustrious cotton and tobacco. So it came
to pass that the early settlers brought seed cotton and tobacco with
them to Indiana. In a short time a large number of the first residents
annually grew from one to five acres of cotton, and from a few rows to
an acre of tobacco, both of which products were mainly consumed at
home. The cotton was freed of seed by a neighboring cotton gin and then
taken in hand, and in a short time, by various mysterious processes,
transformed into garments of sundry sizes and hues. Before the gin was
brought in the seed was picked out by hand in picking bees by the girls
and boys. Many a match of pioneer youth was struck and lighted into
fervid flame at these pickings. Yes, your father and mother, now old
and wrinkled, with palsied hands and tottering feet, were then young
and rosy and strong, with warm, loving hearts under linsey-woolsey and
jeans and tow, with spirits "feather light" in the merry morning of
their lives. Soon you came on the stage in swaddling clothes, very red
in the face, lifting up your voice in doleful lamentations, and then
father and mother were never tired waiting upon you, tenderly watching
your uncertain growth and directing your energies in healthful pursuits
and curbing your abnormal passions with the specific of Solomon. Can
you do too much for them now ? They are standing on the brink of the
river of death, and can hear the surf beat on the rocky shore of time,
and can see the dark boat in the distance coming for them. They know,
as the Arab expresses it, that—
"The black camel named
Death kneeleth once at each door, And a mortal must mount to return
There is no evasion. When
the camel comes one must go. There is time for but one kind word, a
clasp of the hand, a kiss, a last goodby, and the boat leaves the
strand and goes out into the mist of oblivion. Once the old loved to
pick cotton for your little form, loved to meet pioneer associates with
salutations of the backwoods ; but now they live only in memory, in the
happy days of the dead past where their hearts lie.
Wild animals were very
numerous and were represented in this locality by some of the largest
and most dangerous species. Bears were often seen and not infrequently
encountered. Deer were far more numerous than sheep, and could be
killed at any hour of the day or night. Their hides were worth about
fifty cents each, and a "saddle of venison" brought less than that. In
some cases hogs were as savage as bears, and were known to attack men
when cornered, and when it seemed likely that they were destined for
the pork barrel. The tusks of the males frequently attained a length of
six inches, were turned up at the points and as sharp as knives. Wolves
were numerous, went in small packs, and it was next to impossible to
keep sheep unless they were guarded by day and securely penned up by
night. Foxes were killed once in a while. Wildcats infested the woods.
Panthers frequented deer licks. Squirrels were a nuisance. Corn had to
be guarded constantly until the kernel had sent up a tall stalk and had
rotted away. They were hunted and killed by the hundreds by companies
of men organized for the purpose. Turkeys, ducks, brants, pheasants,
wild geese, otters and a few beavers were also present to afford the
hunter sport and the settler subsistence. One day Isaiah Hale, who had
been away, returned home through the woods, and while walking along
suddenly came upon a large bear, which had been concealed from him by
intervening brush. He was so close to it that he could not escape, for
it instantly reared up and struck him with its paw, catching his hand
with its paw and badly lacerating it. He then ran back, and bruin left,
seemingly as glad to escape as he was.
John Haddon was an
experienced hunter and trapper, and he is said to have caught some half
dozen or more otters on the creeks near his cabin. He was a noted deer
hunter, and but three men in the county are said to have killed more
than he in the first year after his arrival. He was one of the very
first settlers in the county, if not the first, as his date of
settlement may have been as early as 1815 for aught any one now living
knows to the contrary. He killed as high as ten deer in one day, and is
said to have confessed that he often tried to exceed that number, but
could not do it. In one winter he is said to have killed one hundred
and twenty deer. The hides were worth from fifty cents to one dollar.
He caught large numbers of minks, raccoons, opossums, etc.,and always
had on hand many valuable furs, which were regularly purchased by the
traders from Vincennes, who visited his cabin for that purpose. One day
he killed two deer at one shot, and without leaving his tracks loaded
his rifle and shot another. He killed panthers and bears in this
county. He went out near his cabin one morning, so the story goes, long
before daylight, to watch at a deer lick, and while there, just as
daylight was breaking, saw a panther approaching, which he shot dead at
the first fire. One of its paws hung in his cabin for many years, and
was remarkably large, with claws two inches in length. The Indians were
numerous when he first came to the township, and often visited his
cabin for warmth or to beg" food or tobacco and ammunition. He secured
many valuable furs from them for a comparative trifle, for which he
received a handsome sum from the French traders. He hunted with the
Indians and could beat them shooting- at a mark.
Buck creek is said to
have received its name from a circumstance which occurred on its bank
at a very early day. A large buck frequented the neighborhood, and was
seen there on, several successive seasons, and was an enormous old
fellow, with a remarkable spread of antlers, and was so shy and so
alert that no hunter could approach within shooting distance of him.
Emanuel Hatfield and others in the eastern part of the county came
there to hunt and succeeded in heading the old fellow and killing him.
He is said to have weighed two hundred and sixty pounds. This creek was
a famous resort for the deer, as there were numerous brackish springs
and a succession of dense undergrowth which favored their escape when
pursued. Alexander Plummer was another famous deer hunter. He is said
to have killed more deer than any other hunter in Greene county except
Emanuel Hatfield. He had as high as a dozen dead ones lying in his
dooryard in cold weather at one time. The skins and hams were usually
saved, but the remainder, except the tenderloin, was fed to the hogs.
In later years the wolves became so troublesome that a small crowd of
citizens surrounded a portion of the township and moved in toward a
common center to hem those inclosed in the circle to smaller limits and
shoot them. Not a single wolf was killed.
Bowen Co 1908
Source: FHL 1351156