Genealogy Trails
Wayne County, Indiana
Page 2

Settlement Of Wayne County

    The first settlements in the valleys of Whitewater within the limits of the present county of Wayne, were made in the vicinity of the site of the city of Richmond, then in the county of Dearborn, the county-seat of which was at Lawrenceburg, on the Ohio river. Of the present territory of Wayne county, only that part which lies east of the Twelve Mile Purchase, was then the property of the General Government, and offered for sale to settlers. This strip of land was, at the south line of the county, about 8 1/4 miles wide; at the north line, about 4 1/4 miles; and on the National Road about 6 3/4 miles. The Twelve Mile Purchase was twelve miles wide, and extended from the Ohio river north to the bounds of the state. Its eastern and western lines were parallel, running from the river about 13 degrees east of a due north course; the east line about 2 m. west of Richmond, running near or through the town of Salisbury; the west line dividing Cambridge county near the west end of the town. This land was purchased of the Indians in the latter part of 1809. It was not surveyed, however, and ready for sale, before 1811; though a few persons had previously settled on it.
    In the year 1805, the first settlement of white men on the banks of Whitewater was commenced, and the first rude bin built. In the spring of that year, George Holman, Richard Rue, and Thomas McCoy, with their families from Kentucky, settled about two miles south of where Richmond now stands. Rue and Holman had served under Gen. Clark his Indian campaigns several years before the formation of the Northwestern Territory under the ordinance of 1787. Both had been captured by the Indians and held as prisoners out three years and a half. (An account of their captivity elsewhere given.) Both also lived on the lands on which they settled, until their death, far advanced in age. Rue was the first justice of the peace in this part of the country.
    Holman and Rue selected and entered their lands late in 04, at Cincinnati, on their way home. Early in the winter they returned to build cabins for their families, bringing with era, on their horses, such tools as were necessary in that and of architecture, and a few cooking utensils. Holman's two eldest sons, Joseph and William, then about 18 and 16 years of age, accompanied their father to assist in this initiatory pioneer labor. In a very few days, two cabins were ready for occupancy. Rue and Holman, leaving the boys to take care of them- selves, started again for Kentucky to bring their families.

    On reaching their homes, they found two Pennsylvanians, who were in search of new land, and had brought their famil­es with them. They soon decided to accompany Rue and Holman; and the four families, with their effects, consisting clothing, provisions, tools, cooking utensils, & etc.all on pack-horses; traveling with wagons so great a distance rough an unbroken wilderness being impracticable. McCoy and Blunt selected their lands near those of their two friends, thus was commenced the settlement of Wayne county.
    A few miles lower down, and near Elkhorn creek, the Endsleys, the Coxes, and perhaps Hugh Cull, settled the same year, [1805,] and were followed in 1806 and 1807 by Lazarus Whitehead, a Baptist minister, Aaron Martin, Charles Hunt, and their families; all of whom are elsewhere noticed. Cull was a Methodist minister, who lived where he first settled, until his death in 1862, at the age of 103 some say, 105 years. Shadrach Henderson also, in one of these years, settled 2 miles below Richmond, on the west side of the White­water, where one of the early saw-mills was built, near where Larsh's flouring-mill now stands. A family of the name of Lamb also settled a few miles below, near or on the Elkhorn.
    The next year after Holman and others settled as above stated, lands were taken up where Richmond now stands, and on the west side of Whitewater. About the first of March, 1806, David Hoover, then a young man, residing with his father in the Miami country in Ohio, with four others, in search of a place for making a settlement, took a section line some eight or ten miles north of Dayton, and traced it a distance of more than thirty miles, through an unbroken forest, to the place where he afterward settled. He fancied he had found the Canaan his father had been seeking. His parents were of German descent, and members of the Society of Friends. They had emigrated from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and thence to Miami, where they had temporarily located, until a permanent home could be selected. Young Hoover and his companions were supposed to be the first white men who explored the territory north of Richmond. They discovered many natural advantages, among which were the pure spring water issuing from the banks of the stream, with its prospective mill-sites, inexhaustible quarries of lime­stone, and a rich soil. Following the stream south a short distance, they found traps set; and near the west bank of the Whitewater nearly opposite Richmond, they saw some In­dians. From these Indians, who could speak broken English, they learned that white men had settled below on the east side of the stream. They made their way thither, and found the Holman, Rue, and McCoy families. After a brief rest, they started back for the Miami by a different route, and reported the finding of the " promised land."

    In May or June following, the first entries were made. Andrew Hoover, father of David, entered several quarter sec­tions, including that which the latter had selected for himself on his first trip. John Smith entered on the south side of what is now Main street, cleared a small patch of ground, and built a cabin near the bluff. Jeremiah Cox purchased his quarter section late in the summer, north of Main street, of Joseph Woodkirk, who had bought it of John Meek. Wood-kirk having made a small clearing and planted it with corn, Cox paid him for his improvement and corn. Andrew Hoover had a number of sons and daughters, who settled around him as they got married. David had taken a wife in Ohio before coming to the territory. But he did not occupy his log cabin until the last of March the next year, [1807.] Here, on the west bank of Middle Fork, he resided until his death, in 1866.
    The land in and about Richmond was settled chiefly by Friends from North Carolina; some of them from that state direct, others after a brief residence in Ohio. As the Hoover family were the pioneers of these people, but for the discovery made here by young Hoover and his fellow adventurers, the Society of Friends would probably not have had the honor of being the first proprietors of the land on which Richmond stands, and of naming the city. Indeed, the Judge, in his " Me­moir," modestly claims " the credit of having been the pioneer of the great body of the Friends now to be found in this re­gion."
    Although the Hoovers had entered their lands in May or June, 1806, most of them did not bring their families until the spring of 1807. Jerry Cox says: " We were the first family of the Friends that settled within the limits of Wayne county. But soon after, [the same year, 1806,] came John Smith and family, Elijah Wright, and Frederick Hoover. In the follow­ing fall, several of the Hoover family came out to build cab­ins and to sow turnip seed. In the spring after, Andrew Hoover, Sen., David Hoover, and Wm. Bulla came. Some later in the spring came John Harvey and others not recollected."
    The spirit of emigration prevailed strongly in the Southern States, especially in North Carolina.    The Friends had settled in that state before the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, which allowed the enslavement of the African race in this country. They were generally unfriendly to slavery: hence, probably, their desire, in great part, to find homes on better soil and in more congenial society.
    Soon after the families above mentioned, others of the Car­olina Friends began to arrive. Among those who settled in the vicinity of Richmond were, Jacob Meek, in 1806; Elijah Wright, in 1806 or 1807; Jesse Bond, 1807, on the farm where Earlham College now is; John Burgess, 1808; Valentine Pegg, 1809, 2 miles westerly from Richmond; John Town-send, (year not ascertained;) Cornelius Ratliff, 1810; John McLane, 1810; and about the same time came families of the names of Stewart, Evans, Gilbert, Thomas Roberts, and others. On East Fork also a settlement was commenced early. Joseph Wasson, a Revolutionary soldier, settled there in 1806, and Peter Fleming in 1807, both having entered their lands as early as 1805; Benjamin and Robert Hill, 1806; Ralph Wright and John Hawkins, 1807; John Morrow, 1808; John Charles, 1809; James and Peter Ireland, (year not as­certained.) With the exception of the Fleming, Wasson, and Ireland families, who were Presbyterians from Kentucky, the most or all of those named above, were Friends, and came from North Carolina. The names of the places they came from became stereotyped phrases. When asked from what part of that state they came, the common answer was, " Guilford county, near Clemens's Store;" or " Beard's Hat Shop;" or " Deep River Settlement of Friends;" or Dobson's Cross Roads."
    Besides those above mentioned, many others settled on East Fork, some about the same time, and some several years later; but the dates of their settlement are not ascertained. Among them were David Wasson, a son-in-law of Peter Fleming, afterward known as Judge Fleming, who had entered several hundred acres, on which he settled his children, reserving for himself a homestead, since known as the " Barnes farm," and the " Woods place," and now owned by John Brown adjoin­ing the state line. The farm early owned by his son, Samuel Fleming,and now by James Smelser, was a part of the Judge's purchase. Charles Moffitt, an early settler, lived on the south side of East Fork, near Richmond, where he built a mill. He remained there until his decease, many years ago. Hugh Moffitt, a son, still resides near the homestead. A little above, Amos and John Hawkins settled early with their families; and a little further on, Wm. Ireland, long since deceased. Next, Benj. Hill, already mentioned, who remained there until his death, about forty year ago. His wife survived him until 1867. Adjoining on the east was Joseph Wasson, before men­tioned. Nathaniel McCoy Wasson built a cabin, in 1809, on the homestead near the banks of East Fork; married, and lived there until his death, in 1864. Near by was John Gay, an early settler, known as Major Gay, who early sold his land to Jacob Crist, still living on the premises. John Drake, with his numerous grown up sons, settled early on their farms ad­joining the Ohio line. The Drakes were of the Baptist denomi­nation. During the prevalence of a malignant fever at an early period of the settlement on East Fork, a number of robust, middle aged men fell victims to it. Of this number were David and John Wasson.
    On the Ohio side were John Wasson, David Purviance and his sons, several families of the Irelands, and some others, in the vicinity of where New Paris now is. The Purviances, Adamses, and Irelands were from Kentucky, where David Purviance had been a member of the legislature, and made himself conspicuous by his opposition to slavery. After com­ing to Whitewater he became a preacher of a sect, called "New Lights," a body of dissenters from the Presbyterians. In the latter part of his life, he was a pioneer in the Anti-slavery movement.
    On Middle Fork, near its mouth, was Wm. Bulla, an early settler and son-in-law of Andrew Hoover, Sen. He early built a saw-mill on his farm, near the site of Burson's oil-mill. He lived there until his decease, some years ago, at an advanced age. Near the lands of the Hoover families, Jesse Clark, Ralph Wright, Alexander Moore, and Amos and Abner Claw-son settled. A little further up were the Staffords, Bonds, Bunkers, Swallows, Ashbys, Andrewses, and others; all of whom, we believe, were from North Carolina, and chiefly Friends. They had a small log meeting-house in the vicinity, and were subordinate to Whitewater Monthly Meeting.
    William Bond had erected a saw-mill, and Joshua Bond a cheap oil-mill. Edward Bond, Sen., died a few years after he came. A little further up, Jeremiah Cox, Jun., settled, and early built a grist-mill, to the great gratification of the settlers. Above Cox's mill were a few inhabitants. Among these were Isaac Commons, Robert Morrisson, Barnabas Boswell, Isaac, John, and Wm. Hiatt, and John Nicholson, the farms of some of whom are now within the limits of Franklin township. Bladen Ashby settled near Cox's mill, and owned the land from which has long been obtained the lime furnished the builders of Richmond.
    Among the early settlers, there was probably none poorer, certainly none whose humble beginning and future condition in life present a wider contrast, than Robert Morrisson. He was a brother-in-law of Jeremiah Cox, Sen., and came in from Carolina in 1810. After lodging a short time in an out-house of Cox used as a sheep pen, he settled on Middle Fork, as above stated. Neither in the hut he had just left, nor in his cabin in the northern wilderness, nor when hunting and trap­ping wolves and taking bounties for their scalps, could he have dreamed of the success he achieved. In 1813 or 1814, he sold his new farm, and, as will be hereafter seen, made his second advent, and as a permanent settler, in the embryo town of Richmond.
    On West Fork, above the lands of the Ratlift and Hoover families, already mentioned, was Joshua Picket, an early settler. Next above was the Addington settlement, on both sides of the stream. Further up, the first settlers were the Starbucks, Swains, Harrises, Turners, and others, who were useful, enterprising citizens. Paul Swain and Wm. Starbuck wagoned produce of various kinds to Fort Wayne. Edward Starbuck, Sen., was an early justice of the peace. William died in middle life. Hester Starbuck, his widow, died within the last three or four years, Having lived to old age.
    An early settlement was also made, in 1806, about 4 or 5 miles south-east of Richmond, by Jesse Davenport, Jacob Fouts, and his sons William and Jacob, and his son-in-law, Thomas Bulla, natives of North Carolina, but immediately from Ohio. By the formation of Boston, the land of Daven­port was taken into that township. Other families came in soon after.
    The heads of the pioneer families were generally of middle age, and robust, as were also their worthy wives, who were well adapted for the hardships and toils of a frontier life. They were on what they considered the extreme border of civiliza­tion; the average breadth of Government lands along the east line of the territory being only about seven miles, until after the "Twelve Mile Purchase" of the Indians was made. Few or no other settlements were known in any parts of the ter­ritory except Vincennes, and on the Ohio river. Some families settled on this Purchase before it was surveyed; but a large portion of these left their habitations, from apprehensions of molestation by the Indians during the war of 1812, and did not return until after the war was ended. After the return of peace, the Twelve Mile Purchase was settled rapidly.

Return To The Main Index Page