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submitted by  Jill Frieders


taken from:
Seymour Tribune
Saturday, August 28, 1926
* see bottom of page.

About 107 years ago (1819) two families in North Carolina decided to go West. Their names were [Jesse] Lucas and [Elizabeth] Park. My father and mother were children at that time, father was ten years older than mother. She was merely old enough to remember the trip.

I have often heard her tell how they started out with pack horses, with what worldly goods they had fastened to pack saddles, the children and the women riding and the men walking in front with their guns on their shoulders. In those days men seldom went out without their guns to shoot game and to protect themselves from wild beasts and Indians.

Settled first at Borden....They followed the trail over the mountains and through the valleys and in the dense forests. They finally reached Indiana Territory and settled in what is now known as Borden, Indiana, where my father and mother grew up to manhood and womanhood and were married. My oldest brother, Joel, was born there. The land there being government land, they decided to move on and they selected this (Freetown) as their future home. My father went to work and built the first log cabin that was built in the neighborhood. They settled on and entered eighty acres, the forty now owned by Laura Spurgeon and the forty owned by my brother, George.

House without nails....This first home of my father was an interesting place. The cabin was built without nails. The doors were made of boards with wooden hinges. The roof was fastened on with weight poles. The nearest and only neighbor they had at that time was Uncle Abram White, on what is now known as the Wes White farm.

A little later as settlers came in and established homes one of the interesting features of the pioneer life for old and young were the "Gatherings". These were of a different nature and usually for some purpose such as wool pickings, corn husking and log rollings. These log rollings were held after the forest trees had been felled by the pioneer's ax, the trees being large enough they had to be burned in two in order that the men could carry them and lay them in heaps for the burning. They carried them by means of the "Hand Spike" which was a small sapling cut into six foot lengths---two men to the spike on either side of the tree, it sometimes taking a dozen or more men to carry the log. These were laid in large heaps and burned. The fine timbers destroyed in this way would today be worth small fortunes to landowners.

The food on the table of the pioneers consisted almost entirely of what he produced with his own hands and the game he killed was abundant, such as venison (deer), wild turkey, etc. To secure their coffee and other groceries, trips were made to Louisville, Kentucky, which was the nearest trading post at that time.

The first cabin was built just north of where Mrs. Spurgeon's house now stands. It was built without nails, hinges, glass or dressed lumber.

Post office at Brownstown....The nearest post office was at Brownstown. My father and Riley Combs carried the mail to Freetown and Maumee, Mr. Combs coming here after father had brought the mail from Brownstown about once a week. Later a post office was established at Freetown and George Motsinger was the first postmaster. And when the patron called for his mail it was all laid out.

At one time the post office was conducted for a number of years by an old settler who could neither read nor write. And when the patron called for his mail it was all laid out and he selected his own mail from the rest, thus relieving the postmaster of the responsibility for mistakes. I served as postmaster for eighteen years, having been originally appointed under President Harrison. During my term as postmaster the post office safe was blown open and robbed twice. At the beginning of my term there were no envelopes. A letter was written and folded so that the writing was on the inside. It was then sealed by a little wax wafer.

The first public road in this section extended from. Brownstown to Nashville, and it was over this road that the first mail route was established. What was known as the State road leading to Indianapolis crossed the Nashville road at this place.

Freetown eighty years old....Freetown was laid out the year I was born--in 1846. It was platted by Charles Rosenbauin, the first storekeeper here. The southwest was laid off first, and my brother, Jacob P. Lucas, built the first three frame houses in town, about the year 1850. One of these is still standing. Harry Winklepleck lives in it. (House burned January 7, 1970)

Houston was laid out before Freetown, but Kurtz was built with the construction of the Southeastern railroad in 1886. I remember the date easily by the fact I had just married my second wife and we were living at a farm north of town.

Home was a religious center....My mothers' hewn poplar log house was always open for religious services of whatever denomination, and the first preaching to be done in the community was done in my mother's home. It was done by a Newlight minister, although the first church to be built in the neighborhood was the United Brethren church on the lot where Jim Wheeler lives. It was made of logs. Then the Christian church was built. The first frame church was the Methodist Episcopal.

One of my earliest recollections was the religious services held by George Motsinger of the United Brethren church at his log barn. The barn was located on what is now known as the Chute farm, one-fourth mile north of Freetown. The barn had a "tramping" floor through the center with a tier of stalls on each side. These meetings were not very formal affairs but served a real service for the community and many men and women attended in the summer without shoes. Sometimes the young ladies carried their shoes until they were near the church and then dressed their feet, thus saving shoe leather. The "tramping" floor was used in threshing grain. The heads of grain were placed on the floor and a horse driven about over them to tramp out the kernels. It was in the room containing the "tramping" floor where the religious services were held.

Armed against criminals....Robberies were frequent occurrences in the days when I was a young man and the depredations of the bandit gangs became so persistent and so bold that the citizens were forced to form supplementary detective organizations to assist the officials in bringing the outlaws to justice.

Such an organization was the "Freetown Vigilance Committee" which was organized in the year 1875. There was a three-fold purpose of the organization. It was to detect and apprehend felons committing crimes in Jackson and adjoining counties; to mutually protect the members against horse thieves and other felons; and to indemnify the members who suffered losses from the acts of thieves or other felons. The personnel of the Vigilance Committee, which was a secret supposedly at the time of its activity, was composed of nineteen of the leading citizens of the community. The members were James George of Salt Creek Township; Thomas J. Boyer of Brownstown Evan Scott, Henry Welch, William A. Spurgeon, Robert Jones, Eli W. Bowers, Jesse D. Lucas, Benjamin F. Harbaugh, George H. Chute, Samuel Delong, James-----------, John P. Lucas, Solomon Z. Cross, Zachariali Hays, William H. Brock, George Kear and Jacob P. Lucas of Freetown.

The Vigilance Committee was organized to assist in the enforcement of law and not to take the law into their own hands, although it was popularly supposed that this might be the case. One incident which cast some suspicion on the vigilantes was the hanging of a Negro whom they were bringing to justice. He had robbed a store at Houston and was apprehended and was being brought to justice when some of the members of the accompanying crowd threw one end of a rope about the colored man's neck and threw the other end over the limb of a tall Dogwood tree, and drove the horse from under him, leaving him hang.

This occurred on the spot which has since been called "Nigger Hill" in memory of the event. The morning after the hanging, John Lucas, my brother, who lived nearby on a farm, was called upon by the coroner to bury the Negro. The spot of the grave is unmarked.

Drunken brawls common....Freetown was a bad place for drinking and fighting in the saloon days. There were considerable number of citizens who enjoyed engaging in "fist and skull" contests. There was no show, or picnic or gathering of any kind that did not have its disorder caused by liquor. A group of men had to be constantly on guard to care for the drunks at each meeting. In the old days a man could buy a glass of whisky for three cents and the old three cent pieces were used for that purpose. The drinks were "life size", the whisky glasses of those days holding two or three times as much as the ones of later days. The better grades of whisky sold for fifteen or twenty cents a quart.. I have seen many a man come to town to buy groceries for his wife and babies and go home penniless, intoxicated and without food for his family, having spent all his money for booze.

Taught for $1.35 a day....Although I was a farmer by occupation, I taught school for seven years during which time I received $1.35 a day for my work, which was considered top prices in those days.

I was married the first time, July 4, 1869, just a few years after my discharge from the Union Army. On September 6, 1886, I was married to Emma George, at whose parents' home I had boarded when she was a young child. We will celebrate our Fortieth wedding anniversary and I will celebrate my eightieth birthday this year. (1926)

Joined Army at age of 18....During the exciting days of the Civil War, I was a young man working on a farm. I was under contract to work during a period of years but I finally broke the contract and joined the Union Army when I was eighteen years old.

I took pneumonia soon after getting into camp at Indianapolis and later took Typhoid Fever at Winchester, Virginia. I was in an Army Field Hospital July 4, 1865, during a review of Union troops. The day was so hot that hundreds were overcome with heat and we convalescents were forced to go back to camp to make way for the new patients. The exposure to camp life caused me to take a backset and I was ill during the remainder of my Army experience, having to be taken to the tram in an ambulance at the time I was discharged from the Army.

Addendum: Jesse D. Lucas and Emma G. Lucas were parents of May, Mary and J. C. Lucas. May married Charles E. Hayes and their children were: Roger, Charles, Zachary and Jack. Roger married Elva Rotert and their children were Mark and David. Charles married Margaret Gaskill. Zachary Hayes died at age seven in 1924. Jack married Marjorie Wray and their children were Lisa and Gregory. Lisa married John Bozic and their son was Zachary David; Greg married Denise Macintosh and their daughter was Alexandria Marie. The Zachariah Hays mentioned was the father of Charles E. Hayes. Zachariah Hays married Rachel Browning and they were the parents of Charles and John Hayes. For some reason Charles Hayes changed the spelling of the surname from Hays to the current spelling (Hayes).

*Article is posted word for word and in the language of its time, and does not reflect the attitudes or language of 2007.