BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF
EARLY SETTLERS OF
THE JENNINGS COUNTY
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I am including here people who were in the area early and who lived or died in Jennings County. Especially in the southern part of the county where the border changed. The town of Paris was originally in Jefferson County but according to local lore some of the local residents where enjoying their alcohol a little too much it was causing the Jefferson County sheriffs deputies to have to ride to Paris frequently. So Jefferson County decided to give the area around Paris to Jennings County. The situation became so bad that the state legislature had to get involved. Since the boundary between the two counties was already set, an act of law was needed to deed over the town. After finding researched facts it was actually because of land issues with the town of Paris originally being laid out in both counties. In 1822 the act was approved, this has caused records from the area to be located in either Jennings or Jefferson County so be sure to research both. It is a good idea to look at neighboring counties in any case.
Joseph Ayers born 1828 in Hamilton County, Ohio. His parents John and Sarah Ann Ward Ayers
moved with most of their 7 children in about 1842 to Jefferson County, Indiana.
Joseph Ayers married Harriet Zener, December 2, 1851 in Jefferson County. They moved to Jennings County where they lived most of their married life. Joseph was a carpenter/cabinet maker he made furniture and coffins and helped build the covered bridge over Graham Creek that led to Paris Crossing. In 1861 he was elected first lieutenant in the Indiana Militia, Paris Guards, out of Paris, Jennings County, Indiana. In 2007 the original Ayers home still stands on Hwy. 250 in Paris.
Joseph & Harriet had 6 children Geneva "Jennie" Ayers born 1852 in Jefferson County, lived most of her life in Jennings, County, She married Patrick Bernard Flood in Vernon, Jennings County after they divorced she married Simeon Stewart. They lived in Paris, Jennings County all their lives and are buried in the Gaddy/Wycoff Cemetery.
Mathias Zener Ayers born 1855 in Jefferson County, moved to California and then Washington
state where he is buried.
Sarah Catherine Ayers born 1857 in Jefferson County, married George Franklin Lawrence in 1873 in Jennings County, the Lawrences moved to Nashville Tennesse, where they are buried.
Leonidas Ayers born 1860 in Jefferson County, lived in Paris, Jennings County all his life, in 1879 he
married Martha J. Lett. Leonidas is buried in the Paris, Cemetery.
Joseph L. Ayers born September 1, 1866 of whom I have no information, possibly died young.
Magdaline L. Ayers born 1868 in Jefferson County, married Wilburn "Wib" Malcomb about 1890 in Jennings County, after his death in 1920 she married Simon Risser, they moved to Liberty Center Indiana. Magdaline is buried beside her first husband in the Coffee Creek Christian Church Cemetery near Paris Crossing.
Harriet Ayers died in 1900 and Joseph Ayers died in 1920 and both are buried in the upper section of the Paris, Cemetery, known as the Gaddy/Wycoff Cemetery.
David Zener; born 1797, Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Davids father Mathias Zener was from Germany
he was a Hessian Mercenary during the Revolutionary War and was captured at the battle of Yorktown.
His mother was Elizabeth Gerringer of Fredrick County, Maryland.
David Zener emigrated to Lexington County, Kentucky in 1799, and in 1810 to Clark County, Indiana.
During the War of 1812 David served in Captain Ziba Holt's Company of Infantry, 13th Regiment of the Kentucky detatched Militia, Oldham County, Kentucky. He fought in the Battle of New Orleans
and in January of 1815 he walked home from there after discharge. During this journey his feet were
badly frozen and he was nursed back to health by Indians, with whom he stayed for nearly 3 years.
When he returned David married Phoebe Baker of Hagerstown, Maryland in 1818 in Hardinsburg,
Kentucky. Phoebe and her sister Elizabeth Baker both ended up in the area, Elizabeth married Samuel Wells both she and her husband are buried in Pisgah Cemetery in Graham Township, Jefferson County, IN.
In 1819 David and family were living right on the Jennings and Jefferson County line, where they had
their home and David had a mill on Neil's Creek, many of the boards for the plank road between Paris
and Madison were made at this mill. This farm was later owned by the family of John Ray. Another
endeavor the Zener family was involved with was weaving of cloth which Harriet Zener fashioned into
clothing. David imported Marino sheep with which Harriet and her daughters made into colorful plaids.
They also planted a long row of Mulberry trees and imported silk worms which were used to make silk
cloth similar in texture to shantung. Grandmother Zener made this silk cloth for years on her looms for
which special metal parts had to be imported. When large silk mills in the east came along it ended this business and over the years a blight destroyed most of the Mulberry trees.
David and Pheobe Zener had 11 children, I will be including sketches on some of them who married
David Zener died in 1877 and is buried in the Gaddy/Wycoff section of the Paris Cemetery, Pheobe later moved to St. Clair County, Missouri to live with her son David G. Zener and is buried there in Pleasant Grove Cemetery.
David G. Zener born in 1837 near Paris, in Jefferson County. His parents were David
and Pheobe Baker Zener. He took over running the Mill on Neil's Creek and on June 8, 1862
married Zerilda Gaddy daughter of Benjamin S. and Sarah Cobb Gaddy. Zerilda was born
July 11, 1842 in Jennings County. Around 1876 David and Zerilda struck out for the west,
with other members of their family, settling in Tiffin, St. Clair County, Missouri. After the
death of his father his mother went to live with him. They all lived in Missouri until their
deaths and are buried there. It is interesting to note a number of other connected families
also had members who moved to the same area in Missouri, including the Wells.
Sarah Zener born April 8, 1826 near Paris, in Jefferson County. Daughter of David and
Phoebe Baker Zener. Sarah was the second wife of Charles (Rodney) Kendall Laird, known
locally as C.K. Laird. C.K. was born in Vermont and was a merchant and farmer who lived
in Paris for a time. He has written an interesting autobiography which gives some fascinating
insights as to life in the 1800's. Sarah and C.K. had 5 children Brooke, Flora, Miriamme,
Graham Bright and Julia H. Sarah Zener Laird died April 30, 1894 and is buried in Fairmont
Cemetery, Madison, Indiana.
Lydia Zener born Oct. 2, 1823 near Paris, in Jefferson County. Daughter of David and Phoebe Baker Zener. It is stated in some local records that she first married a Dixon in about 1840 but we have not verified that information. She then married Robert S. Bain, they had at least 3 children, David Z., William & Sarah. She last married John M. McJimsey and they lived in Montgomery County, Indiana. Lydia lived past the age of 100.
Catherine Servilla Zener born Feb. 13, 1828 near Paris, in Jefferson County. Daughter of
David and Phoebe Baker Zener. Catherine married John Troutman Foster in 1853, they had one son George Hiram Foster. John Troutman Foster was the son of Hiram Foster and Mary "Polly" Trumbo. They lived for a time in Graham Township, Jefferson County, Indiana, near Deputy.
Malinda Zenor born Jan. 20, 1834 near Paris, in Jefferson County. Daughter of David and Phoebe Baker Zener. Malinda married Francis Marion Landon in 1856 in Jefferson County. They had 5 children, Phoebe, William, Jennie, Clara and Sarah Agnes Landon. Francis Marion was a Miller and both he and Malinda are buried in College Hill Cemetery, in Lancaster, Jefferson County
Wilbur A. McClanahan was born Nov. 10, 1856 in Jefferson Co., IN, near Deputy.
He was the son of Harvey and Martha Hutton McClanahan. On Aug. 29, 1883 Wilbur married
Luella Roseberry, daughter of Samuel and Julia Ann Waldsmith Roseberry. Three sons were
born to Wilbur and Luella, Arthur, Frederick, and Loren Roseberry McClanahan. Luella died
on Jan. 20, 1895 when Loren, the youngest son was only two and a half years old. Wilbur never
re-married. He raised his sons with the help of his parents and a cousin, Cora Hammel, who
lived with the family and became a surrogate mother to the boys. Wilbur was a school teacher
in the Deputy area. He also helped his parents on their farm. Later he became superintendent
of schools. After he retired from teaching, he had a grocery store in Paris Crossing. Wilbur
died June 10, 1935. At the time of his death he was living in Paris, IN where he had owned
a home for several years next door to his older sister, Alice Wells. Alice, known as Allie, was
first married to Almond C. Earhart in 1869. They had two sons, William, born 1871, and Harvey Earhart, born 1875. I don’t know if Mr. Earhart died or if he and Alice divorced, but between
1875 and 1879, Alice married Martin Wells. They had one son, Melville Wells, born 1879.
I want to thank Ardath Blue for contributing this biography to the Jennings County Site.
William Barber Lewis, Sr., was born around 1783,likely in Marlboro, Ulster County, New York,
on the lower Hudson River. He was the son of a Zaoc(k) Lewis, and was a stone mason by trade. He
moved to Seneca County, New York, living on the shores of Seneca Lake, where he married a Mrs. Sarah
Butler (nee Miller) probably around 1810. They the later moved to Steuben county, New York.
Sarah was a woman of Irish descent and had flaming red hair, according to family tradition. Her father,
it is said, was a Martin Miller. It appears Sarah was divorced (between 1805-June 1810) from a Phineas
Butler. Sarah already had two sons, Sidney and Lewis, the former of which was prominent in Jennings
County. There is speculation that this Butler line was already related to the Lewis family as well.
Herschel Lewis, great-grandson to Daniel Lewis, tells of the migration to Indiana: "William and his family
left (Steuben) County, New York, in the fall of 1821, likely in a covered wagon pulled by oxen. They
traveled overland some 150 miles to the Allegany river where William either paid for boat transportation
or built a raft and then floated downstream to Pittsburg, Penn. The Allegany joined the Monongahela at
Pittsburg to form the Ohio River. Some time was spent in Pittsburg building a more elaborate raft for the
trip down the Ohio.
Imagine such an undertaking, it was not an endeavor for the faint of heart. William has a wife who was
8 months pregnant and children ages 1, 2, 5, 7, 8 & 10. Timothy was the 2 year old and my
great-grandfather (Daniel) was 8. The trip was completed and the raft tied up a few miles below
Madison, Indiana. On April 25, 1822 John M. Lewis (the youngest child of William and Sarah Lewis)
was born on the raft."
Mary Lewis Osterman reports that a family named the "Langdons" came with the Lewis family. It must
have been quite an endeavor.
William had come to Indiana to claim land due to his service in the War of 1812. Apparently there was
some difficulty obtaining it so he purchased land along Graham Creek. However, he eventually settled
along Slate Creek and that is where he and Sarah raised the family. William apparently continued work
both as a farmer and as a stone mason. It is said he helped to build at least 2 of his sons' houses; both
of which still stand (the John M. Lewis house in Jackson County and the Daniel Lewis house in Jennings County).
The Lewis line intermarried with many notable names in Jennings County, but the family with which they
were most associated was the Samuel Adkins Keith family that had settled down the road a piece (across
from what is now called the Keith Cemetery).
William died in May 1864, around the ripe age of 81, and is buried in an unmarked grave, according to
family tradition, in the "Old" Coffee Creek Baptist Church cemetery next to his daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth Lewis Hall and Samuel Hall. Sarah Miller Butler Lewis preceded William in death, having
passed on November 26, 1848 at age 67. Thank you, Johnathan Lopnow for this contribution to Biographical Sketches.
Samuel Lard came to Jennings County from Otsego County, New York about 1813, settling in what is now Montgomery Twp. In 1815 he filed land entry papers for 160 acres in sections 27 and 22. He and his family made their permanent home in the NW quarter of Section 27, on Graham Creek. Samuel was active in the community, serving as a justice of the peace and a commissioner. His first wife, Rebecca Hammond, taught in the earliest schools in the area. She was a published poet, and quite a remarkable woman. [Some of this poetry can be found at http://www.bsu.edu/ourlandourlit/Literature/Authors/authors_rd3lardr.html. Several of his children lived and raised families in Jennings and Jefferson Counties, and became important in the life of the community.
Samuel was born in Southwick, Massachusetts in 1771 or 1772. His father and mother, David and ________ (McLaughlin) Lard had come to the Connecticut/Massachusetts area from Ireland before the Revolutionary War. After David was killed at the Battle of Monmouth, Samuel’s mother remarried and moved away. Samuel was raised by a man named Campbell who was kind and gave him a good education. Samuel became a merchant seaman, sailing out of Connecticut ports. He was issued Seaman’s Protection Papers in the New London Customs District on 30 Nov. 1796. In the original register, it is stated that he was 24 years old, born in Southwick, Massachusetts, 5’9" tall, and of dark complexion. [His children always said that Samuel had been born in Connecticut. This confusion might be because of a change of boundary between Southwich and Suffield, Conn. in one particular area.] He subsequently was a founder of the town of Warren, Vermont, where he lived from about 1797 and served as the first town clerk. He also served in several other offices in Warren, including selectman.
He married Rebecca Hammond, daughter of Jabez and Priscilla (Delano) Hammond on 12 Feb. 1801 in Woodstock, Vermont. She was born 7 March 1772 near New Bedford, Massachusetts. About 1807 Samuel and Rebecca moved their family to Hancock, Vermont, and from there to Cherry Valley, New York prior to 1810.
When Samuel decided to migrate to Indiana, Rebecca declined to join him. Instead, she took her children back to Vermont to be with her own family. Their son, Samuel Adams Lard, went west to join his father in 1817. In 1819, Samuel Jr. returned to Vermont and convinced his mother to bring the family west. Their journey was one familiar to many early western migrants, down the Allegheny River by flatboat to Pittsburg, and on west by way of the Ohio River.
Unfortunately, Samuel’s and Rebecca’s marriage did not thrive. In 1828, Samuel was granted a divorce. He remarried to Mary Williams (Hughes) Rector, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Williams) Hughes, and the widow of Hezekiah Rector of Jefferson Co.
Samuel died between 2 Feb. and 19 March 1838, by tradition on Feb. 11. Rebecca died 28 September 1855 and is buried in the Old Coffee Creek Cemetery. Mary died 15 June 1879 and is buried in Lancaster Cemetery, Jefferson Co..
Children of Samuel and Rebecca (Hammond) Lard:
1..Julia Philory Lard, a.k.a Julia Rachel Lard, b.27 March 1802 Warren, Vermont, m. James Hammond 22 March 1821 in Jefferson County. James had come to Jennings Co. before 1820, and remained until his death on 7 Feb. 1853. He is buried in Old Coffee Creek Cemetery. After his death, Julia migrated to Cowley County, Kansas with her sons and their families, and her niece Julia (Lard) Walton. She died there on 4 Sept. 1883, and is buried in the Tannehill Cemetery northwest of Arkansas City.
2. Samuel Adams Lard, b. 3 Feb. 1804 Warren, Vermont, m. Margaret Bright, dau. of David G. and Ruth (Graham) Bright in Jefferson County on 13 Sept. 1832. Samuel was engaged in merchant activites and trade on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. He lived in Natchez, Tennessee and in Louisiana. He died in the winter of 1846 or spring of 1847, leaving only one living daughter, who was raised and cared for by her father’s siblings.
3. Horatio Nelson Lard, b. 24 Jan. 1806 Warren, Vermont, d. Crawford County, Kansas on 23 May 1885. He m. 1) Hannah Stonemetz 1828 or 1829 in New York. She d. between 1834 and 1837 in Indiana. Nelson m.2) Eliza Ann Waldsmith, dau. of Peter and Hannah (Long) Waldsmith on 30 Jan. 1840 in Jefferson Co. Nelson and Eliza moved to Shelby County about 1850, and from there to Crawford Co., Kansas, where both are buried in the Dumbauld Cemetery near McCune.
4. Charles Rodney Lard (a.k.a. Charles Kendall Lard or Laird), b. 20 Dec. 1808 Hancock, Vermont, d. 1 Mar. 1893 in Jefferson Co., Indiana. He and his second wife are buried in Fairmount Cemetery in Jefferson Co. He m. 1) Jane Dinwiddie, dau. Archibald and Margaret Dinwiddie in Jennings Co. 30 Oct. 1834. Jane d. between 1850 and 1853. Charles m. 2) Sarah Zenor/Zener, dau. David and Phoebe (Baker) Zenor/Zener, 5 May 1853 in Jefferson Co. Charles was a prominent citizen of Jefferson Co. He was a successful merchant and farmer, and raised a large family of successful children.
Children of Samuel and Mary (Hughes) (Rector) Lard [Mary also had children from her marriage to Hezekiah Rector]:
5. Benjamin Franklin Lard, b. 7 Jan. 1829 Jennings Co., d. 11 May 1871 Carroll Co., Missouri. He m. Irene Elizabeth Wells.in Jennings Co. 9 Oct. 1851. She was the daughter of Lemuel and Mary "Polly" (Walton) Wells. Benjamin lived and raised his family here, moved to Carroll Co., Missouri in 1871, and died suddenly. Irene brought her family back to Jennings Co. to live until about 1884, when she joined several of her children who had moved to Kansas.
6. Joseph Warren Lard, b. 16 Nov. 1831 Jennings Co., d. April 1897 in Jefferson Co., buried Lancaster Cemetery. He m. Emily "Emma" Hays 10 Dec. 1868 in Jefferson Co. Joseph lived in Lancaster Twp., Jefferson Co. He was a farmer and harnessmaker.
7. Isaac Williams Lard, b. between 1830 and 1837, Jennings Co., d. there about 1839 or 1840..
Contributed by Sharon L. Seaver. Corrections, additions, and inquiries are welcome . email@example.com
Lemuel Wells, son of John Boyd Wells and Margaret (Hawkins) Wells, came to Jefferson County, Indiana with his father and mother, brothers and sisters, about 1816 from Hamilton County, Ohio. He had been born in Kentucky on 10 Sept. 1801. He was married in Jefferson Co. 16 Sept. 1824 to Mary "Polly" Walton, daughter of Abraham and Mary "Polly" (Hutchinson) Walton. Polly was born in Maine on 1 Feb. 1807, and died 5 July 1881 near Lovett in Jennings Co at the home of her son John. Lemuel died 7 April 1870 in Jennings Co. Both are buried in the Hopewell Methodist Church Cemetery, along with one son. Fletcher, who was born and died the same day in 1837. [The church, originally located about 4 miles north of Paris on Rte. 3, is no longer there.]
Lemuel and Polly came to Jennings County about 1826 and lived on a farm in Montgomery Township which was deeded to them by Polly’s father for "love and affection". On this farm [West 1/2 of SW quarter of Section 14, Twn 5 North, Range 8 East] they raised five daughters and five sons, all born in Jennings County except the oldest daughter, Sarah Jane. Two sons became Methodist ministers, and one daughter married a minister.
Lemuel and Polly’s lives centered around their family, their church, and their community. Polly was a handsome woman with dark eyes and dark, wavy hair. Even as an old woman, her pictures show a striking appearance, with snow white hair They were faithful members for many years of the Hopewell Methodist church. Lemuel is reputed to have had a wonderful voice, and led the singing. They, along with other members of the Wells and Walton families, were active in abolitionist circles, and took part in the activities of the Neil’s Creek Anti-Slavery Society. It is said that runaway slaves found shelter at Lemuel and Polly’s house, and at the home of Polly’s parents in Jefferson County as well.
A daily dairy kept by Lemuel from 1862 to 1864 details the kinds of crops he raised, and the other activities in which he engaged. He took part in the road work that was required of all able bodied early settlers. Some of the crops raised on his farm were sweet potatoes, peas, beans, beets, parsnips, melons, carrots, radishes, onions, potatoes, corn, clover, timothy, wheat, and sorghum. In addition, he had an extensive orchard with peach, pear, and apple trees. He grafted trees in the orchard. He made boards from wood he had cut himself from trees on his farm, made grain cradles and fence rails, and made bee hives. Lemuel mended bridles and saddles, gathered elm bark for bottoming chairs, made soap, and even made shoes. He kept hives of bees. This was a very self-sufficient farm, but there was a need for cash money to buy certain things. He satisfied this need by selling corn, potatoes, hay, fruit trees, and by turning his talent for working with wood to profit. He mended wagon wheels, and made and sold ax handles.
Lemuel’s diary also presents a picture of a close family with many visits from brothers, sisters, cousins, children and grandchildren. Sometimes the creek would rise because of a heavy rain, and visitors would suddenly become overnight guests. There was a great deal of community in working a farm, with neighbors and relatives pitching in to help each other at various tiimes.
All but one of Lemuel and Polly’s children lived to adulthood, and raised families of their own. Their children:
1. Sarah Jane, b. 27 Aug. 1825 in Jefferson Co., d. 6 June 1913 in Jennings Co., m. Phineas Buckley Bailiff, son of Edmond P.
and Susannah Bailiff, on 5 March 1846. This couple raised their family and lived all their lives near Lovett.
2. Mary Ann, b. 12 April 1827, d. 20 Jan. 1903 Rush Co., m. 28 Feb. 1850 Amos Riley Shepherd, son of Joshua and Nancy
(McClelland) Shepherd. This couple lived for some time near Lemuel and Polly and raised their family here. "Riley" was a
teacher. Both are buried at Vernon Cemetery.
3. Dudley, b. 5 May 1829, d. 13 Oct. 1892 in Rush Co., m. 3 Mar. 1859 to Mary Jane James, dau. Enoch and Emily Ann
(Shepherd) James. Both are buried in the Methodist Cemetery near Richland. They raised their family in Jennings Co.
4. Irene Elizabeth, b. 27 Jan. 1831, d. 18 Dec. 1904 in Parsons, Kansas, m. 9 Oct. 1851 in Jennings Co. to Benjamin Franklin
Lard, son of Samuel and Mary Williams (Hughes) (Rector) Lard. Irene and Benjamin lived in Jennings Co. until 1871, when
they moved to Carroll Co., Missouri. Benjamin tragically died suddenly, and Irene brought her family back to Jennings
County. Several of her children moved to Kansas in the 1880’s, and she followed them.
5. Merit, b. 18 January 1833, d. 2 Mar. 1910 in Indianapolis and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery there, m. 9 Feb. 1864 to
Morincie Robertson, dau. of Aquila and Esther (Deputy) Robertson. Merit was a dentist who practiced for 42 years in
Indianapolis. He attended Indiana Asbury College (now DePauw) and dental college in Cincinnati.
6. Martin Luther, b. 12 Feb. 1835, d. 19 Feb. 1907 in Los Angeles, California, m. 3 April 1869 to Martha "Mattie" Ghent.
Martin is buried in Greendale Cemetery at Lawrenceburg, Indiana. He was a graduate of Indiana Asbury College, and a
7. Fletcher Wells, b. and d. 30 July 1837, bur. Hopewell Cemetery.
8. Emily Eliza, b. 11 Mar. 1839, d. 15 OCT. 1909 Washington Twp., Boone Co., Indiana, m. 21 July 1859 to Boyd Hudson
Shepherd, son of Joshua and Nancy (McClelland) Shepherd. Boyd was the brother of Amos Riley Shepherd, who m. Emily’s
sister Mary Ann. Emily is buried in Center Cemetery, near Lebanon, Indiana.
9. Abraham, b. 9 Oct. 1841, d. 27 April 1923 Cincinnati, Ohio, m. 28 October 1874 to Mary L. Wiseman. Abe was a Methodist
minister and graduate of Indiana Asbury College. 10. John Smith, b. 6 March 1844, d. 28 Feb. 1929 Harper, Kansas, m. 4
Dec. 1866 to Mary Catherine Deal, dau. John and Elizabeth Deal. John and family lived for some time in Jennings Co., then
migrated to Harper Co., Kansas. Both buried at the Harper Cemetery.
11. Margaret Celesta, b. 25 April 1846, d. 17 May (or Mar.?) 1901 in Illinois, m 7 Nov. 1867 in Greencastle, Indiana to Austin
Hugh Reat, a Methodist minister, son of Hugh and Margaret (Whitesel) Reat.
Contributed by Sharon L. Seaver firstname.lastname@example.org March 28, 2007. Corrections, contributions of further information, and inquiries are welcome. Thank you, Sharon Seaver for your contributions.