Genealogy Trails

Greene County, Indiana





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 mystery.

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 exceptional ability.

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 office "Hobbieville."

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.


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 New York.

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. Ritter

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 connection.

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 importance.

The city of the dead, two miles south of Worthington, is one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in the county—the Dixon graveyard.

By W. D. Ritter.

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 houses.

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 circumstances.

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 Kansas.

By W. D. Ritter.

Further back than the town of Bradford, county of Yorkshire, in England, we know nothing- of the Bradfords.

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 to stay.

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 county.

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 day.

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 nevermore."

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.

Biographical memoirs of Greene County, Ind. B.F. Bowen Co 1908
Source: FHL 1351156


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