Early Recollections of
Lanesville, Harrison County, Indiana, by a Former Resident of That Town
From information received
from my grandparents, Hilary and Sarah Lane, they came from Barren
county, Virginia, about the year 1822. They had four or five children
at the time—Henry, who later went South; Winifred (my mother), who
married Abraham Kerr, of Corydon, about 1824; Mary (or Polly), who
married Ira Crandall; Willis, who went South; Sarah, who married Thomas
Reese, of Louisville. One daughter, Betsy, married a merchant named
Rhodes, of Elizabeth, Indiana. Their other children were John Lane, who
married Anne White, of Corydon; George Lane, who married a girl from
Alabama; Martha Lane, who married Johnson,, a hatter; Anne Lane, who
married Garvey, an old bachelor farmer, back of Jeffersonville, Ind.;
Harriet Lane, who married Rawls, and died a few years later.
Hilary Lane's home, from
which daughters were married, was about one hundred feet from the
Constitution Elm Tree, under which the Constitution of the State was
first read. It was also near Wind Cave, which is historic on account of
its proximity to the big elm tree.
The tannery of Jacob
Kintner and Abraham Kerr was located on a rise to the northwest of the
big elm tree and Wind Cave, When Kintner and Kerr discontinued business
(Kintner was very wealthy and retired) my father, Abraham Kerr, decided
to build a tannery at Lanesville. While it was being built my parents
moved to Louisville, where I was born March 22, 1827. When I was about
a year old we moved to Lanesville and my recollections of the place
date from 1832, when I vividly recall the big flood, during which Big
and Little Indian Creek, which almost surround Lanesville. flooded the
entire vicinity. I recall the crash of the falling trees when we all
rushed to the door and saw the immense trees lapping across the creek.
My earliest recollections
of Lanesville. The only tailor shop in town is that it was almost
surrounded joined the Sackett home, by Big and Little Indian Creek,
which come together just below Davis farm. Big Indiana Creek runs
the entire length of Lanesville. The Sellers farm was on the north-west
corner of Lanesville street, the only street in Lanesville. The
Gresham farm was on the other side of the street—northeast corner. Big
Indiana Creek crossing this street between the Sellers and farms.
The elder Gresham's
children were Larkin, William, Dennis, John, George and daughter Joyce.
Larkin Gresham married my oldest sister Rhoda Kerr. William Gresham's
children were Benjamin, Anne Amelia (or Andromeda, as I think she was
named), and Walter Q, who was born and raised on the Gresham farm,
attended school in the little one room log school house with his
brother. Joyce, myself and most of the other old-timers around there.
He afterward became Secretary of State during Cleveland's
administration. He is buried at Arlington, not one hundred feet from
the front door of General Lee's old home.
Dennis Gresham built a
house on his father's farm, next door to Aunt Milly Gwin's Tavern, the
only hotel in the town. It was a one story log house of about five
rooms. Often her guests brought their own provisions and cooked for
themselves in her kitchen.
Across from Dennis
Gresham's house was the shop of George Betty, the only cabinet maker
and carpenter in town. Rhoda Gresham's son (my nephew), still has an
old bureau which George Betty made in this shop. George Betty married
Lydia at the home of my parents. She wore a pretty white dress and a
white cap, of which the present day cap is a revival. the bride dressed
at the home of Mrs. Goodwin and walked next door to our home, where she
was married by a Methodist minister in the presence of about fifty
people. those not invited chivareed the young couple at our house, that
night, which was against the law at that time, and the ____ were
presented at the ___ink smeared_______________office
daughter of Aunt Milly Gwin. Fullenlove was kicked in the jaw by a
horse, lingered about a month and died. They had two boys.
There were about
twenty-five houses in Lanesville in 1837. The woolen mill was owned and
run by Philo, Simson, Alexander and George Goodwin. the father being an
invalid for years. Mrs. Goodwin, their mother, was the only milliner in
the town. She bleached and trimmed hats for people for miles around.
The Goodwin woolen mill
adjoined the tannery of Abraham Kerr, who came from Cannonsburg, Pa.,
located awhile in Corydon, then went to Lanesville, about 1828.
When I was about nine, a
man named Sykes shot and killed William Gresham, Father of Benj.. Anne
Amelia and Walter Q. Gresham, as the sheriff was called to break up a
riot in a log cabin about three miles below Lanesville. on main road to
Corydon. Sykes came out and shot Gresham from his house. At daylight I
saw him carried on a sled past my house, and 1 well remember the blood
sprinkling the snow on the way. He was buried in the family burying
ground on his father's place.'
Not far from Wm.
Gresham's. was the farm off Samuel Cook, noted for his hospitality and
geniality. Nearby was the farm of Baird or Beard, who had a large
family, some of the children going to the old log school house. The
HARBESON place was below Lanesville, leading to Corydon. Mary Jane
Harbeson, about fourteen, (a schoolmate and friend of mine) was
accidentally shot by a hunter in her father's orchard. She lingered a
few days and died.
The Sackett family lived
next door to the currying department of Abraham Kerr's tannery.
Father's home was across the street from the Sackett's. William
Sackett, wife and sons, Charles and Oziam lived there. Chas. Sackett
married Joyce Gresham. She attended school with me, though much older.
The only tailor shop in
town adjoined the Sackett home.
My father's home was on a
several acre tract of land opposite the Sackett's home and the Goodwin
woolen mill. His tannery was further down the street on a nigh rise and
right on the creek. The bark was ground by horsepower, which turned a
When I was a child I was
almost killed when I caught one of the projected timbers fastened to
the large wheel of the Goodwin woolen mill. The wheel was turning as
the horse was treading and I thought I would take a little ride. I
barely let go in time to save myself from being carried down into the
On a high hill, back of
the town, was the Davis place, in front of which the Big and Little
Indian Creeks ran together. The Davises had a great many sheep, which
went into the big crevasses in the rocks, or under the overhanging
rocks, to rest or sleep. They had large orchards and every one was
welcome to help themselves to the fruit. They always sent cider to my
Uncle Billy Pennington
was another prominent farmer, and I remember chasing turkeys with my
brother Henry, through the thick leaves. We each caught a turkey and
went home to exhibit them to mother as "wild turkeys" When asked
where we got them we told her that while gathering walnuts at Uncle
Billy Pennington's we saw a big flock of about fifty, and we chased
them till we caught two. We were much crestfallen when mother made us
trot back to take the turkeys (sort of turkey trot). We tarried them
till we heard the others gobbling and turned them loose. Years
afterward, while it West Baden Springs. I , met Dr. J. Ross Pennington,
a grandson of Uncle Billy.
Will never forget how
Betsy Pennington, a young bride, saved my sister Rhoda from being
drowned, when a little girl. After the big storm the water was rising
rapidly, and Rhoda was about to cross the bridge on her way home. The
bridge was covered with water and ____________late the creek __________
Rock Hill, Ky., July 11,.
when a little girl. After the big storm the water was rising rapidly,
and Rhoda was about to cross the bridge on her way home. The bridge was
covered with water and the __________________into the creek_____drowned.
During another big storm,
brother Henry and I were going home in a roundabout way with Nancy
Gwin. We were so late our parents feared we were drowned and everyone
was out hunting us. In the meanwhile Uncle Billy Pennington carried us
across the creek on a big log, which washed away just as we reached the
other side. This was right in front of William Gresham's house. Wet as
drowned rats we met the rescuers hunting for us as we were going home.
The school-house was on a
little hill, about a mile from William Gresham's. Whoever reached
school first made the fire, and the boys always chopped the back-logs
for the big fire-place. There were thirty-five or forty children. Boys
and girls recited together, but had separate playgrounds. The
schoolmaster was a bachelor named Ross. Sessions were all day, recess
at noon, dismissal at four. Whichever girl could get excused would poke
a snowball through a crack in the corner by the fireplace, and we girls
passed it around, holding our books before our we were surprised when
the school-master said, "Well, you two Janes (Jane Davis and I, Jane
Kerr) have had a good time today with your snowballs."
There was no church in
town and services were sometimes held in the school-house. They had
camp-meetings every summer below Lanesville, and people would ride and
drive for miles to get there. Occasionally circuit preachers would hold
revivals, either in the school-house or one of the larger homes. On
such occasions the boys would have to sleep in the barn, for the houses
were always crowded.
Whenever the circus came
to town, my father gave the tanbark for the circus rings. They always
gave him passes for his entire family or any one who wanted to attend
Once a year a shoemaker
came to measure our entire family and others for shoes, father
furnishing leather for the whole town. One night this shoemaker nearly
choked to death at our table. Father gave him a hard knock in the back,
which dislodged the food.
In those days each family
had its own loom for weaving cloth. Old Mrs. Gresham always kept the
best supply of dye and gave her neighbors a start so they could make
the different colors. We took the wool to the Goodwin woolen mill,
where it was made into rolls or however we wanted it. for weaving or
We made either dip or
molded candles, everyone saving the tallow when beef was killed. Candle
wick came in big balls and often a number of families would send to New
Albany for a supply at once. . We had no matches and if the fire went
out we would go to the nearest neighbor for a red coal. We had no
stoves, and used old fashioned Dutch ovens, or cooked in the fire-place.
Father went security for
his best friend and nearest neighbor, also for Dr. Luke Coon, about the
same time. Both these men failed. Dr. Coon skipping to St. Louis, and
Abraham Kerr ad to sell most everything he had to any his debts. This
broke him up in Lanesville. He sold his tannery to a German named
Haller, from New Albany, and moved with his large family to
Georgetown. Across the street from oar home in Georgetown was George
Walts, who kept a general store.
After living in
Georgetown about a year (father dealing in stock and farming), we moved
back to Corydon then to New Albany, than to Madison, then to
Louisville, where, about two years later, in 1841. I married James
Callahan, a miller. Afterward he engaged in the grocery business, then
built a grain elevator elevator,
Callahan and Sons at
Fourteenth and Magazine Streets, and at the time of his death was the
President and founder of the grain elevator at Thirteenth and Lexington.
My father died a few
years after my marriage, just as he was preparing to revisit his old
home in Cannonsburg, Washington county Pa., which he had left at the
age of eighteen. Besides the Father and Mother, Samuel and I
_________ __________ __________
there were eight
brothers, Joseph, John, Samuel,_______, Walter, Robert, Abraham
and ________, one sister Gabrielle Kerr___________
_______ ____ ____ have ten children, twelve grandchildren, and
six great-grandchildren. My husband died in 1907, aged eighty-five.
These are only a few of the many facts I recall about Lanesville and
MARY J . CALLAHAN
New Albany Public Press
July 29 1913