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This Biography taken From
By Lucian V. Rule
A series of articles starting with the
January 14, 1930 - North Vernon Sun

Memories of an Old Quaker Pioneer

   It is an unusual thing in life to survive for ninty years. But there are men and women born in the days of Andrew Jackson still living in the time of Herbert Hoover. One of these is the venerable and revered Henry Hinchman, patriarch of Vernon, Indiana, the little town in which the first stretch of railway west of the Alleghanies was built in 1829, and where John Finley Crowe, first abolition editor in the Ohio Valley, came to build a Presbyterian church in 1825 dedicated to Faith and Human Freedom.
   We have often halted in our pastoral rounds to visit Mr. Hinchman. Like an old ship at anchor after many voyages, he rests now in seclusion at his little cottage down the shady street which is also one of the great highways of the Middle West. This aged man has shown remarkable vigor until just lately. We had known for some time that his life had been passed amid remarkable periods and experiences of national ____. So, one day, with his devoted son, Ed. to correct any little slips of memory by reference to family records, we interviewed him for this story.
   "Where were you born, Mr. Hinchman?" we asked.
   "In Columbiana county, Ohio, September 22, 1838," he answered.
   "Who were your parents?"
   "My father was Allen Hinchman, a native of Burlington county, New Jersey. He was a farmer and an Abolitionest. My mother Sina Burson, was a native of Columbiana county, Ohio."    Reference to the family bible showed that Allen Hinchman was born October 13, 1802, and died December 2, 1886, aged 84 years. Sina Burson was born May 22, 1808, and died April 20, 1887, aged 81 years. They both passed away in Vernon and sleep now in the lovely town cemetery along the winding waters of the Muscatatuck.
   "When did your parents come from Ohio to Indiana?" we asked.
   "In 1852 when I was about fifteen years old. They bought in trade the old Prather farm, out near Ebenezer church."
   Reference to local history shows that this farm was originally owned by Col. Hiram Prather, an early settler from Clark county, Indiana. His farm was situated right in the middle of the Indian encampments of Jennings county. He witnessed their migration and left this account: "The Indians were encamped on the South Fork of the Muscatatuck Creek, their camp extending several miles up the creek. They were the control of Captain White eyes and Big John. Bill Killbuck seemed to be their chief. He was half white, could read and write, and was the son of Old Killbuck, who was killed by Captain Collins near the Pigeon Roost Settlement the evening before the massacre. These Indians were Delewares and Potawattomies. In the spring of 1817 they left their camp and by hundreds passed our cabin going west. They used to trade with our folks selling baskets, dressed skins, bead work, and the like".
Story of Captain White Eyes
   The country around Vernon, Indiana, belonged to Captain White Eyes and his tribe. They were Potawattomies and he was the biggest Indian in the whole tribe. He always had a gun and tomahawk with him. These Indians came from the banks of the Wabash. The one fault of White Eyes was a burning thirst for fire water. Filled with this, ther was no telling what he might do. White people were terribly suspicious of his professions of friendliness...he committed several cruel acts in the cabins of the settlers and everybody dreaded him.
Next installment - December 31, 1930
   We learn that in Columbiana county, Ohio, where Mr. Hinchman was born was another Indian by the name of Captain White Eyes. Amongst the first Kentucky pioneers across the river was a family by the name of Carpenter. Captain White Eyes stopped at their cabin door one day, full of liquor. He got into a qrarrel with a Carpenter boy of about seventeen years and threatened to kill him, the boy ran persued by White Eyes with raised tomahawk. As the Indian was gaining on him the lad stopped suddenly, turned and fired. White Eyes pitched headlong to the earth and soon expired. Young Carpenter had to stand trial for murder under the territorial laws of Ohio. The judges then were local magistrates. The trial was under widespread apprehension and excitement. The Indians bitterly resented the death of their chief and it was feared that hostilities would break out though it was a period of peace. Young Carpenter was acquitted, the evidence showing self defense. The white people attempted to allay the anger and resentment of the Red Men. Presents of great value were made to the friends of the dead chieftan; and his wife was presented with three hundred dollars. This killing was the last drop of Indian blood shed in that part of Ohio, which is a remarkable record, as it was then only 1797.
Rescue of a Slave Girl
   Indian stories were current when Henry Hinchman was a boy growing up. His people were Quakers. They belonged to the original immigration surrounding William Penn. The town of Salem, O, in this same county, was largely a community of Quakers, who came out west in 1806. The sentiment of Abolition was very strong amongst these sturdy pioneers. "The Western Anti-Slavery Society" centered in the town of Salem. "The Anti-Slavery Bugle" was published there, and the editors were aggressive and tireless in condemming negro bondage and in assisting fugitive slaves.
   The Quaker church was open to these Abolition meetings. Shortly after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law such a meeting was being held and the speaker was denouncing the bold reaches of the Slave Power on Northern Free Soil. A man in the audience arose and got the attention of both speaker and the chairman.
   "Friends", said he, "I hold in my hand a telegram informing me that on the train due here at four o'clock there is a Southern family with a slave girl as a nurse. Now if we mean business let us go to the station and rescue that slave girl".    A cheer burst from every throat. Someone moved to adjourn and carry out the proposition before them.
   In a body they repaired to the station. A score of men boarded the train gained the negro girl and parted her from her owners, who were so frightened that they offered no protest at all. The child was given to a good home, put to school, and grew up in the town of Salem under a new name.
   Acts like this sprang out of the continual agitation of Abolition sentiment in the community. The old Salem Town Hall was famous in early Ohio history as a platform of human freedom. William Loyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Stephen Foster, Owen Lovejoy and other names of national renown in Abolition circles made the old hall ring with their burning utterances. Horace Mann, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and yet others voiced their sentiment of enlightenment and liberty. As we turn the pages of the local history of Henry Hinchman's home county in Ohio we find to our surprise, that Ralph Waldo Emmerson, Susan B. Anthony and a still longer roll of eminent advocates of human rights addressed the populace continually in that old Salem Town Hall.
Next installment January 30, 1930
A Young Quaker Martyr
   And stiring things happened. There sat a Farm boy in the audience named Edwin Copoek (Coppock). He took these teachings seriously. He believed that the Declaration of Independence meant what it said. If not, he wanted to make it so. Dispite the peaceful _____ of the Quaker people, this boy sholdered his musket and marched behind John Brown to Harpers Ferry ___________. Of course tried and condemmed to be hanged. A couple of days before his execution he wrote a letter to his uncle, a Quaker, who lived outside of Salem. He had no regrets or apologies. He was offering up himself as a protest against holding human beings in bondage.
   History has said a lot about John Brown's nerve and soul in face of the gallows. But this young boy was not one whit less heroic. Winess his heroic words "I had fondly hoped to live to see the principles of the Declaration of Independence fully realized. I had hoped to see the dark stain of slavery blotted from our land, and the libel of our boasted freedom erased, when we can say in truth that our beloved country is the land of the free and the home of the brave. But that cannot be.
   I have heard my sentence passed. My doom is sealed. But two more short days between me and eternity. At the expiration of these two days I shall stand upon the scaffold to take my last look of earthly scenes. But that scaffold has but little dread for me, for I honestly believe that I am innocent of any crime justifying such punishment. But by the taking of my life and the lives of my comrades, Virginia is but hastening on the glorious day when the slave will rejoice in his freedom. Accept this short scrawl as a rememberance of me. Give my love to all the family. Kiss little Joey for me. Remember me to all my relatives and friends. And now farwell for the last time. From thy nephew Edwin Coppock".
   The body of this young man was brought home after his execution and was deposited in the Salem cemetery with every mark of grief and love. It stands recorded by a monument honoring him as we do other brave youths who gave their lives on the battlefield. The assault on Ft. Sumpter so aroused the Quakers of Columbiana county, Ohio, that the first two volunteer companies responding to President Lincoln's call enlisted in Salem alone.
The Hinchmans at Old Ebenezer
   It sometimes seems a pity that a youth of such sturdy manhood as Henry Hinchmans had to remove from his native section. The farm back in Ohio that was exchanged for the one in Jennings county, Indiana was not nearly so fertile; and a sad regret lingered long in the family as they faced once more the crude and semi-civilized life of the green woods around them. Yet such was the rugged character of these pioneer Quakers that their family name was soon attached for all time to the Indian cave on the Muscatatuck, to the ford of the river nearby and the farm on which they settled. It was on this farm that the first Methodist church in Jennings county by the Prathers in 1817. And, there being no Quaker church near, the Hinchmans bacame Methodists. Old Ebenezer, "Rock of Help", is the mother church of this faith in Jennings county, Indiana.
   There was a one room school house at Cherry Park, a quarter of a mile from Ebenezer church. Jim Hinchman, as everybody called him, a young man by the name of Sol Patrick taught there previosly. They only had three months sessions of the school. Cal Cope taught in 1862 and the next summer Miss Eva Wagner, sister of "Banner Ed" Wagner, of Vernon.
   Hinchman cave was on the North Fork of the Muscatatuck. Back of the school house on the hill were evidences of the spot where the Indians made their arrow heads and spears. When the pioneers began to arrive there were such names in the community as Hinchmans, Bundys, Patricks, Sinnets, Francis, Carneys, Thompsons and others equally worthy. The Norrises came in 1839. Wilders cut away the beech and other timber and _______ and a half house with a stone chimney. George Norris was a young man who had studied for the Presbyterian ministry, coming from Pennsylvania, but never completed his preparations. He was a neighbor of the Hinchmans and it was such folks that gave character and tone to the Ebenezer neighborhood.
Next Installment-February 13, 1930
   William Norris recalls the township library system of those early days and how he would go on an old white horse to the Forks of the Graham, now San Jacinto, to purchase groceries and get books to read. The schools were much better in Ohio whence the Hinchmans came. Henry Hinchman was a skilled pensman and taught eleven writing schools. He had eight brothers and sisters. Henry became acquainted with Irene Patrick. William Norris recalls seeing them together on Sunday in 1860. They were married when Henry was twenty-two. There were five children of that union two of whom are yet living.
Henry Hinchman at Vernon
   Henry Hinchman was married in 1876 to Sallie Baughn. She was a school teacher, intelligent, highly gifted, a most gracious and lovely young woman. Henry Hinchmans loss in the death of his first wife had been a great blow to him; and in his new home life he was greatly blessed. She was a favorite teacher of the young at old Vernon Academy and she left an impression and children that time can never efface. One beautiful sabbath day in early spring we walked down to the Vernon cemetery with her son Roy Hinchman to visit her grave. It was a memorable hour in ones lifetime and friendship to hear his tribute to such a mother. She had a gift of writing that indicated a peculiar sensitive and poetic temprament; and her death after a happy marriage of but ten years left Henry Hinchman and three younger children desolate.
   The Hinchman home in Vernon was out on the hill, now the manse of the Rev. Daniel Simpson. This home during the Civil Was had as a guest Henry Ward Beecher when he came to Vernon to plead for the Union and the cause of Freedom. This was just before his departure for England where he made even greater speaches for the American cause. The Hinchman home in Vernon then has its traditions. There Henry Hinchman lived for forty two-years.
   In the days of his prime even at fifty-five years of age Henry Hinchman could leap over a fence while standing flat on the ground. He was one of the handsomest men in the community, with black hair and flowing beard. He served as township assessor, twice as sheriff of Jennings county, then as trustee, auditor and commissioner. He left a long and honorable record of public service. He was a man of unflinching courage, both physical and moral. A desperado once escaped the jail in Vernon and Henry Hinchman ran him down. The man fired and bullets bit the dust at the sheriff's feet, but he captured his man and brought him in.
The Beggar Burglar
   Yet this sturdy Quaker was tender and humerous as a child. He never locked his doors at night, but lived as though all the neighbors around were Quakers. He never turned a tramp or beggar away from his door. One day as he sat out under the pine tree a negro tramp came to him for money. With quizzical fun and to test the sincerity of the beggar. Henry Hinchman gave him a small piece of money and told him to bring back the change after purchasing what he wanted to eat. The colored man did return sure enough and offered the change. Mr. Hinchman thoughtlessly took from his pocket some bills and smaller change. He gave the man a half dollar to really satisfy his hunger.
   That night as the children were sound asleep a footstep was heard and a creeping sound. Henry Hinchman kept his trousers hung at the head of his bed. The scream of his daughter awakened them all and the burglar fled with the trousers down the hill toward the cemetery. Henry Hinchman gave hot persuit and the negro man dropped the trousers but escaped with the money. Yet he was not angered. He simply reflected how thoughtless it was in him to have tempted the man by exposing the money.
Stories of the Old-Time Preachers
   Henry Hinchman once had a pork-packing house in Vernon with Smith Vawter; and he also owned a butcher shop. Many a time the Methodist preacher received a juicy steak without a bill. And this reminds that Henry Hinchman loved checkers ardently. One day the Methodist preacher happened in the shop while Mr. Hinchman and his partner were playing. In the confusion to get the board out of sight the checkers rolled all over the floor, to the utter mortification of the players. But what was their astonishment when the preacher challenged them both to a game and beat them hands down.
   Another story is told of how Henry Hinchman once attended a revival meeting in Vernon where the evangelist clad in a great fur coat and with an unusual air of prosperity, invited that every one who did not make a public testimony was sure of perdition. Henry Hinchman's Quaker rearing had deeply instilled in him a certain spiritual reticence. He had been unusually active that day quietly ministering to the needy of the town. And when the evangelist accosted him at the church door about being in danger of torment because he had not told what the Lord had done for him. Henry looked the man through and through with a referance to the Last Judgement and those who had not remembered their Lord when he was sick or in distress, or in prison, and so on.
   For Henry Hinchman was a Mason as well as a Methodist in those Vernon days when old Jennings Lodge No. 59 florished. This Lodge was the predecessor of North Vernon Lodge of the present day and has many fine traditions. Henry Hinchman was Master of it and filled the chair with grace and dignity.
A Home Guard Against Morgan
   Quaker though he was by inheritence and training, Henry was one of the men who went out with the Home Guards to repel the invasion of General John Morgan and his troopers in July, 1863. Vernon Indiana, was one town where the tide turned against the gallant rebel troopers. And it is indeed strange to relate that General Morgan surrendered in Columbiana county, Ohio, where Henry Hinchman was born. The spot was under a cherry tree a few hundred yards from the farmhouse of John Hepner, about seven miles south of New Lisbon. The account of this event is thrilling indeed, but we cannot relate it here.
   So in the evening of his days this fine old man awaits the call of his maker with peace and resignation. His devoted son, Ed will one of these days recieve the crown he deserves for filial love and fidelity. The other children also do well to love and revere such a father. Few young men have been closer to us in pastoral relation than Roy and Ed Hinchman; and this tribute is one of grateful affection and friendship.

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