Genealogy Trails



A few pioneers are still living in the community or are represented by descendants carrying the names.

Buford Banta came from Kentucky in time to have four sons shoulder muskets in the Civil War. They were John. William. Henry, and Benjamin. Caleb, who died recently at the age of four score and ten. was a son by a second and
late marriage and an infant when the war began. Two brick houses across the road from each other in the Curveton neighborhood were built by the Bantas. A grandson of Buford Banta, Caleb's only son, George Banta, carries the name so far only, as his children are all daughters.

Thomas V. Barnes, living on the land entered by his grandfather. "Tommy" Barnes, south of Burnettsvile. is the local survivor of a very old pioneer family. He is a son of William Barnes. His uncle. Robert Barnes, never married.

The Buchanan family is represented by J.J Buchanan of Burnettsville. Mrs. Buchanan is also the descendant of pioneers. Her grandfather was Richard Davis.

Richard Chilcott with four sons, Amos, Benjamin, Henry, and John, all of whom served in the Civil War, established the Chilcott family in Cass and White counties. Amos was the only son to live in Burnettsville continuously until his
death. He had six daughters and one son, Charles, deceased. Ernest Chilcott, mail carrier, Burnettsville. is a son of the later.

George and James Duffey are the only survivors of this pioneer family, who live in Burnettsville, to carry the name. The former is cashier of the State Bank of Burnettsville, the latter is a construction contractor for thirty years in Miami, Florida.

Elijah Eldridge was one of the 1830's pioneers. The family became quite extended. Frank Eldridge with his big, flowing black mustache and bass voice was a leader in singing groups that flourished in the era of barbershop quartets. John Eldridge, who lived and died on his farm adjoining the Barnes homestead south of town, was one of the few prohibitionists of his time. He was active to the extent of distributing tracts on the subject. An accidental death prevented him from realizing his fondest hopes as it occurred before the passage of a constitutional amendment banning liquor in every state. His son, T.E. (Ed) Eldridge, lives on the old home place and doesn't lack much of qualifying as a pioneer in his own right with a residence of seventy five years in one spot.

The Frys, born sawmill men, constituted a large family grouped a few miles south of town about the Fry sawmill, the group known as Frytown. Answering the roll call were Frank. George, John, Joseph. Jonah, and Marion, the last, a farmer. Quincy Fry of Burnettsville is a son of Marion and Mrs. Walter McBeth (Fuye Fry) of Royal Center, a daughter of Frank Fry.

Dr. Jesse Galbreath is the representative of the large pioneer family of that name. His father lived east of town on the border of Lake Cicott. Another branch of the family settled north of Burnettsville.

William Gardner, who lives on the farm adjoining Burnettsville on the south-west, where he has produced tons of pork and other foodstuffs annually for about sixty years, must rate as a pioneer himself at something like eighty years of Burnettsville citizenship, while his father and mother had preceded him in that distinction by a generation.

David Graham and his four sons. Woods, Frank, Samuel and Robert, counted two generations of pioneers. Robert and Samuel left the home town, the latter with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at Logansport where in time he became train dispatcher. He had no children and none of Woods Graham's has survived. Virden Graham, Burnettsville postmaster, is a son of Frank Graham.

Delbert M. Hatton, Burnettsville and Monticello plumbing contractor, whose father died when the two sons, Del and George, were quite young, has pioneered the name through four fifths of the town's century, and holds forth, hale
and hearty, and looks much the same as then, in the home which he built near the business section fifty years ago. If good citizenship awards are made, the committee on awards need look no further.

The name of Heiney represents three generations of pioneers. Jonathan Heiney and wife, who was a sister of Any Irelan, were the parents of a dozen children of whom James and Mrs. Annette Herman, third generation pioneers, both over ninety, live about a block apart in Burnettsville.

The Johnsonbaugh family dating from "Uncle Henry," who had three sons, Ira, John, and Sanford, the latter a long time businessman of Monticello, has at least one third generation pioneer living, in the person of Charles Johnsonbaugh, a farmer in the Burnettsville vicinity all his years going back to the sixties. He belonged to the old Burnettsville band which was the town's pride in the eighties and has not missed a local farmers' institute in its fifty years of sessions.
Mrs. Frank Morris (Gaile Johnsonbaugh) is a daughter of Sanford Johnsonbaugh, an uncle of Charles who was one of Ira's sons.

The three Mertz brothers, Daniel, George, and Peter, were almost cornerstones of Burnettsville, literally and figuratively, as their farms surrounded it on two sides, east and north. These pioneers were among the community's most progressive farmers and cattlemen. Milt Mertz, 80, son of Daniel is the only one of the numerous sons of the brothers to stick to the home fires right straight through. He is a faithful representative of the splendid traditions of his family, of the pioneer spirit, and of the best interests of his community and country. He lives in Burnettsville but operates the Mertz farms, part of one of which is within the corporate boundaries.

Earl Perkins, Burnettsville, section foreman, and his sister, Mrs. Braskett (Maggie Perkins), represent two pioneer families. On the Perkins side were veterans of the Civil War and on the mother's, the Bishops who were in the 1830's arrivals. Peter Bishop, Sr., was their grandfather.

Roy Personett is of the third generation of that family. His father was Marshall (Marsh) Personett, prominent farmer and water melon expert from north of town. Two pioneer families are combined here. Mrs. Personett is a daughter of William Lontz, brother of Simon, AI, John, and Samuel.

Russell Reiff, son of Milt K. Reiff, a former trustee of Jackson township, occupies the Reiff homestead northwest of town and is well known as a scientific farmer and stockman, taking up where his father left off and fully sustaining the reputation of the pioneer Reiffs as thrifty, successful agriculturists. Minnie Reiff, a sister, is a registered nurse and lives in Burnettsville.

Elton Shafer, around the four score mark, is a third generation pioneer. His grandfather was a first settler on the north side of the Carroll County line in White County and his father an Adams township pioneer on the south side of the line. Elton has lived in the town of Burnettsville most of his adult life.

Jacob Showalter, whose farm adjoined the town on the northwest, was one of the organizers and a director of a co-operative creamery which was built on the corner across from the present Christian church. The enterprise flourished for a time but could not withstand the impact of the financial crisis of the nineties and finally suspended operation. The building was razed. Sam and John Showalter were his sons. Charles Showalter of Burnettsville is Sam's son.

The Tedford family, founded by Newton Tedford, was well represented in the early pioneer days as there were.five sons of the second generation. Alonzo, the only son to remain permanently in the community, lived on a farm halfway between Burnettsville and Idaville. His wife was a daughter of Henry Johnsonbaugh. Their son, Dalton, occupies the homestead and is well known in farming circles.

The Townsley name goes back to the first settlements in the Burnettsville vicinity. William and Samuel, brothers, located a few miles south of the site of the town. The former's life was spent in the same spot while Samuel bought a farm a mile Southwest of town where he lived until his retirement and removal to Burnettsville. Samuel had no children but William reared a large family which included Newton Townsley, the eldest of the family. Newton's son, A.O. (Art) lives in Burnettsville where with his son, Wayne, he conducts a lumber and building materials business. Mrs. Townsley is a daughter of a pioneer, the late Hiram Beshour.

Many of the families, as shown above, belonged both to Burnettsville and Idaville communities. This was especially true of the Barnes, Coble, Gibson, Henderson, Marvin, Small, Tarn, Timmons, and Townsley families. The name Timmons was found from the Wabash River below Lockport, through Burnettsville and Idaville, and northward from those towns. John Green Timmons represented the district in the state legislature in the eighties or early nineties. J.D. (Jake) Timmons moved from Idaville to Monticello where he was connected with a bank and was prominent in financial circles. The late Wilbur Timmons served as township trustee.

White County Democrat, 17 June 1954, p. 9.
By Guy C. Hanna
Originally Published in The Hoosier Genealogist Vol 39 No 2 June 1999

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