MEMORIES OF BIGGER TOWNSHIP
Excerpts from the book "Memories of Bigger Township"
Mary Jo Schumann Wahlman
Opal Sullivan Shuck
Lillian Anderson Taylor
I want to Thank Mary Jo Wahlman for giving permission to
use some of the wonderful information from this book on the Jennings
County Web Site. If your family has ties to Bigger Township this book is a
treasure. I purchased my copy from the Jennings County Historical Society
be sure and contact them if you want one.
Mary Jo gave me permission to put parts of the book on line back in 2008. After my move here she became
my go to person when I had a question about her beloved Bigger Township. Jennings County lost Mary Jo Wahlman this year
so I want to dedicate this page of the web site to her.
Mary Jo Wahlman
September 29, 1926 - November 4, 2012
San Jacinto about 1908
Formerly known as "Forks of the Graham"
In 1840, Bigger Township was carved out of vernon
Township, and named for Samuel Bigger, the Rushville Whig, who was Indiana's
governor from 1840-43. Judge Bigger was not only a famed orator who cried out
for internal improvement, but also a vocal advocate of better schools. His way
of thinking appealed mightily to the setllers, who by that time were streaming
to this part of Indiana.
The Township consisted of 30 square
miles, bordered on the south by Jefferson County, on the east by Ripley County,
the west by Vernon Township and the north by Campbell Township. However, in
1940, about one-fifth of Bigger Township was taken by the U.S. Government, for
Jefferson Proving Ground. Many of Bigger Townships residents were displaced and
the little town of Benville disappeared.
The terrain of Bigger
Township consists of rolling hills, level plains and fertile valleys. Underlying
limestone, caves, sinkholes (who can forget the one in the San Jacinto school
yard), and underground springs are also prevalent. The largest Stream Big and
Little Graham Creeks, cross the area.
The Township was covered
with virgin timber for many years, especially the southwest area around
The earliest settlers came to Bigger Township in the
early 1800's. before the Indians had left the territory. James Needham built a
cabin near where Big and Little Graham Creeks converge, (now known as San
Jacinto). James Hughes settled a llittle past the forks, on land later owned by
the heirs of Lottie Byar. William Callicott built his cabin about 40 rods west
of the present Graham Baptist Church, on the farm of Vernon Brooks,
By the time Bigger Township had become a separate township,
many pioneers had already arrived. The early settlers endured many hardships.
The Indians had not yet left this area, and many feared them. So much so, that
every man who was old enough to carry a gun, was supposed to attend muster days
at the block house in Vernon. Mrs. William Callicott was deathly afraid, and one
night caused her whole family to spend the winter night in a sinkhole away from
their cabin. Another time she awakened her husband saying she thought
the Indians were coming. The husband replied that it was the deer breaking
the ice in the creek.
In the forest were wolves, panthers and
bears. These wild animals were often raiding the livestock. Wolves were seen in
abundance, and were seen attacking the stock. So the county paid a bounty for
killing a wolf. The last wolf was killed in Jennings County, two miles northwest
of San Jacinto. It was mounted and displayed in the Tripp and Hicks Mill, on
Crooked Creek, also in Bigger Township. Jim and Newt Calicott and Thomas Egan
killed a deer in Bigger Township, in October 1862, supposedly the last deer in
the county. They were still hunting bear in the area of Bigger township in
Many remember the mysterious tracks discovered
in the 1940's and 50's by Roy Kinnear and Charlie Vinson, among others. It
was though to be a large wild animal, possibly a panther! No one ever saw
the "critter" though, but speculation of what it could be made for many a
Some of the wild animals have returned. As early as
1942, deer were spotted near Rabbit Plains. There are hundreds of them today,
most taking refuge in the Jefferson Proving Grounds. The wild turkey and beaver
are back, and the coyotes howl every night!
Some of the
earliest landowners listed and recorded at the Jennings Courthouse are
William McClure (1816) Section 19; John
Hughes (1817) Section 22; William McClure (1818) Section 22; William
Harbinson (1819) Section 33; William Hicklin (1819) Section 23;
Jesse Cole (1821) Section 12 & 7; Pete Huey (1821) Section 7;
John Hicklin (1821) Section 22; James Spaulding (1822) Section 14;
James McGuire (1820-1822) Section 25 & 26; Joel Linder (1824) Section
12; James Spaulding (1824) Section 12; Azariah Merrill (1824)
Section 25; Robert Torbett (1825) Section 21; Rober
Crouder (1826) Section 18; Isom Boashear (1826) Section 18;
James Mitchell (1826) Section 18; Noah Bland (1826) Section 19;
Samuel Van Cleve (1826) Section 30; Hugh Gordon (1826) Section
30; William Utter (1827) Section 34; William Thorn (1829) Section
13; Benjamin Merrill (1829) Section 25; Isaac Hughes (1832) Section
27; Asa Jones (1836) Section 15; Osborn Bland (1836) Section
24; Samuel Stott (1836) Section 26; John H. Johnson (1836) Section
6; Joseph W. Smith (1837) Section 31; Thomas Brown (1837) Section
31; Thomas Ramsey ( 1839) Section 35; John W. Smith (1839)
Section 36; Azariah Merrill (1839) Section 36; Jacob
Wildman (1848) Section 31; James Cook (1848) Section
In the history paper written by Mr. Callicott, he records
the dates of several of the families settlements.
The Forks of Graham by W. G. Norris
The center of population
of Bigger Township, Jennings County, is the thrifty little villiage of San
Jacinto, situated at the junction of the two branches of Graham Creek. It has
stores, shops, residences, school house, Odd Fellows Lodge, Knights of
Pythias Lodge, and other vital interests. I am told that years ago there was
another San Jacinto a mile or so east three or four houses and a
In the early Sixties, this settlement was
called the Forks of the Graham, because of its location. It was a mere
hamlet but with some necessary industries, a store, a blacksmith shop, a
mill, and perhaps half a dozen residences. Of these latter, a new two story
frame, built for the family of Lin Stanley, was the most imposing. Stanley also
built a steam sawmill on the banks of the main stream and operated it for
years afterward, later being asisted by his son Will who had grown up
meantime. The store where everything necessary for the demands of the
neighborhood was the property of Gil Cox, who was also post master. Alongside
the store building was a small lean-to in which was kept the township library.
There were no other stores nearer than Butlerville, Dupont, Grayford and Gil had
a good trade. John H. Cox, his brother, was mail carrier from Dupont, the
nearest railroad town, and made regular trips to and fro. The blacksmith of the
town was Jim Craig, and his shop was on the edge as you approached from the
In those days I lived on school section No. 16 in a story
and a half log house the wreck of which is still there, badly demolished from
want of care in later years. It was my custom in winter seasons, on Saturdays to
scramble into the saddle on the back of an old gray mare belonging to the family
and make my wat the two miles to the Forks at a slow walk of the beast as I
could not stick on if she trotted, and she was never inclined to make such
effort, so per force the ride was a long one. The road was good, a flat, except
when cut up into ruts by logging wagons and then it was very bad. Both sided
were lined with the original forest then except for two farms, on one of
which near the road, was the Hickland home, the only house in sight in the long
lonely ride. Since then the forests, of of them have been cleared away and a
good number of farms residences line the road. The road led into the town
by a long slope. At the foot of this I rode into Craig's shop. Jim would tie the
horse to the strap hanging in the middle, lift me from the saddle and set me on
his forge before the fire which he would enliven by working his old-fashioned
bellows, until I was thoroughly warmed. Then I would hop down off the forge
and run to the store, about a square away, and leaving the order for the goods I
was to buy, proceed to the lean-to where the books were kept and from the
hundred would select the ones I wanted (three or four at least) of the books
from that little library in those winter seasons. I can only remember one
distinctly, and I must have read that one several times. It was "Two Years
Before the Mast" by Dana, and old, old-timer, but still to be found in most
public libraries and in many private ones. Back to Craig's shop with my books
and my purchases. I would warm up again and with a cheery word Jim would loose
the horse, set me in the saddle, and off for home.
always remember Jim Craig as one of my earliest friends. In due time he enlisted
in the ranks of those who left their homes and risked their lives to save our
Union. He was 100 per cent American and didn't have to bawl out the fact. He
came home safely at the close of his service and I knew him for many years
The families, as I remember, who lived within a
radius of two miles or thereabout from the Forks were: Richardson, Milhous,
Shaw, Carson, Conboy, Silver, Walker, Williams, Heid, Hickland,
Starkey, Ross, Robbins, Mosely, Anderson, Cox, Ale, Hughes, Bland, Shuck,
Miles, Spaulding and Smith. There were others, of course, but at the moment I do
not recall the names.
Article written by W.G. Norris and published in the
Plain Dealer in 1925.
Bigger Township History
(Plain Dealer 1927)
In Section 2 in a dense woods, John
Dixon lived one year and sold his farm to Samuel Shaw, known mostly to us as the
Milhous farm. Mr. Dolan
then moved across the creek to the farm where he
lived till his death. He was a strong advocate of religious freedom, 1854-57,
came Samuel Neill, George and Joseph Passmore, Charles Murphy, David Silver and
many others. The Quakers were quite an asset to the Hoosiers, being
energetic, religious and interested in education. They were a wonderful
factor for good. Samuel Neill owned the first buggy, Thomas Egan owned the
In 1858 to 59 came Thomas Conboy, Sr., Starkeys,
Spencers and Mixes and others from Switzerland County, Indiana. In 1854
was the very dry season-didn't rain from May till November. No corn that
year but the hogs fattened on Oak and Beech mast. Wonderful flocks of
pigeons roosted where John E. Robbins and J.E. Hallet now lived. On August
28 and 29, 1863 came heavy frosts ruining tobacco crops and gardens, afterwards
nice and warm till New Years Day, 1864. The cold New Year, Jacob Wildman
had cattle frozen to death. Soldiers on Island Number 10 in Mississippi
froze to death. In 1855, George Anderson killed a monstrous big boar near
the ponds on the Hallett farm
John Anderson, Sr., entered land
in Section 28 in 1838, William Fawcett in 1849 in Section 3. Thomas Egan
built a cabin in about 1840, it had a dirt floor, a stump in the middle of the
room with boards nailed on the top, served for a table.
Presley Jackson, father of Governor Ed Jackson, was going home with Joseph C.
Anderson from school, when they saw two little fawns which had come up with
Saunder's cattle. They with other school children, surrounded them, hemmed
them in a fence corner. When about to touch them, the fawns jumped through
a large crack in the fence and made their escape.
Barber matches came into use, it was common for people to borrow fire.
Frequently neighbors would come to our house complaining their fire had gone out
and wished to borrow enough to start with. It was quite an art to keep a
fire, especially in summertime. Grandfather would dig a hole in the ashes
put in a few chunks, then draw the ashes nicely over the top, so it would keep.
This was generally the last job before going to bed.
winter of 1852-53, Abe Partlow killed 17 deer, the Madison Courier printed
this as a bit of news. Wild turkey, squirrel and other game were very
plentiful about this time.
Bigger Township 1860 Census
PO is Vernon, Census Taker John
J. Spann-household number is listed
Page is 299 (born Indiana unless
887-Prather, John L., 59,
farmer; Mary, b. Mass.; John Y. 13, b.
888-Cox, Jacob M., 60, Clergyman, b.
Ky.; Martha C., 50. b. Ga.; Francis M. (male), 24 laborer;
Gilliam H., 22, laborer; Thomas L., 19, Laborer; John H., 17;
Nancy E., 14; Jacob J., 12; Martha W.,
889-Fenen, John, 58, farmer, b. Ohio;
Methitable, 56, b. Ky.; John B., 22, laborer; Wilfred, 20, laborer;
Samantha, 18; Delia, 16; Minerva, 14; Eliza,
890-McCue, Charles, 50, laborer, b. Delaware;
Mary, 50, b. Del.; Patrick, 23, laborer, b. Del.; John, 21, laborer,
b. Del.; Dominee, 19, laborer, b. Ohio; Jammie, 12, b.
891-Anderson, T.P., 33, farmer; Angelina,
28; Phebe, 11; Taylor, 10; Wesley, 8; Allen, 7;
Irvine, 5; Samuel, 4; Rosa
892-Callecott, William, 74, laborer, b.
NC; Martha, 60, b. Ky.
893-Lawler, Ezram C.,24,
farmer; Eliza, 21, b. Ohio; Mary 16, b. Ohio
894-Egean, Thomas, 54, farmer, b. Ireland; Margaret,
53, b. Ireland; Margaret, 19; Michael, 17; Thomas, 16;
Susan, 14; Teresa, 12; William, 10; Sarah, 8; James and
John, 6; Eliza, 4; Keyran (male), 2
Elijah, 21, farmer; Nancy, 20; James,
896-Saunders, John, 45, farmer; Sarah A., 55,
both born England
897-Callicott, Riley, 45, farmer, b.
NC; Charlotte, 40, b. Ohio; James R., 20, laborer; Nancy
J., 19; Mary A., 18 (deaf & dumb); Martha, 15; Jess H.,
12; Jasper, 11; Charity P., 8; Tinetta P. (female),6.
Excerpts from the Indiana State Gazateer on Bigger Township
(local people usually paid to get listed in these
publications, they were like early day Telephone
CARPENTER & BUILDER
Richard Reynolds, Butlerville
Benjamin W. Holmes, San Jacinto
Dry Goods & Postmaster
GENERAL STOCK DEALER
William D. Morris,Vernon
J.V. Milhous & Max, Needmore Valley
Nurserys, a good collection of Fruit and
Ornamental Trees, Grapevines ect.
PHYSICIANS & SURGEONS
Morton S. Neill, San Jacinto
A.W. Newton, M.D. " ?path, Cures
Gravel without Operation
STOCK & GRAIN DEALERS
R.J.Richardson, San Jacinto
SAN JACINTO A villiage of
50, inhabitants, in Bigger township, Jennings county, 7 miles east of
Vernon, the seat of Justice and most abailable shipping point.
Vernon is the banking town. Hogs, cattle and produce are shipped.
Population, 50. J.F. Stanley, postmaster.
Hayden, John, justice
Johnson, N. Rev. (Baptist)
Kendrick, N., physician
W.D., grain and justice
Spencer, J.A., physician
Stanley, J.F., General
Stanley, L., flour mill
Wildman, B.F., township
A village of 50 inhabitants, in
Bigger township, Jennings county, 8 miles southeast of Vernon, the
seat of Justice and usual banking town,
Butler's Switch, 31/2 miles east on
& L.R.R, is the nearest rail approach.
W.H. Stanley, postmaster
Hand, L.A. township trustee
Morris W.D., justice
Rolston Joseph, flour mill
Shuck, James, blacksmith
John M., cutlery
Stanley W.D., General Store
Wildman, W.A., physicianBENVILLE
Is in Bigger township, Jennings county, 10 miles east of Vernon, the
county sear. Butlerville, the shipping depot. is 7 miles west, on
Madison Br. J.M. & L.R.R. Population 40
Graham, James, saw mill
Haines, J.A., live stock
J.F., General Store and Justice
Hoole, J.H. carpenter
Hughes, H., live
Mayer, J.G., wagonmaker
Neill, W.A., live stock
Perkins, John H.,
Ransdell, Robert, constable
Stout, T.G., saw mill
EARLY CITIZENS OF BIGGER TOWNSHIP
|Francis M. Cox
||Jefferson Co. Ind., 1837
||South Caroline, 1865
|Nancy J. Frank
||Johnson Co., Ind., 1848
||Farmer & Merchant
||Jennings Co., Ind., 1884
|John M. Heid
||Farmer & Saw Mill
|Wm. T. Hughes
||Jennings Co., Ind., 1844
||Kanawha Co., Va., 1871
||Physician & Surgeon
||Hamilton Co., Ohio, 1872
|Chas. W. Miles
||Jennings Co., Ind., 1858
||Fayette Co., Pa., 1857
|Perry A. Owens
||Farmer & Teacher
||Clearfield Co., Pa., 1877
THE "FORKS OF GRAHAM"
Later known as San Jacinto
San Jacinto was always the largest village in Bigger Township, although it never
had more than 50 residents. There are no industries in Bigger Township
today but here are some of the past
Storekeepers in San Jacinto were: Eagan in
1855; Isadore Manowitch in 1860; Taylor Stibbling, Ben Cox, Elijzh Spaulding,
Stanley Bros., Carson Bros., Solomon Burchill, W.W. Anderson, Ben Hughes,
Albert Johnson, Will Holmes, Charley Holmes, Dick Brooks, Vernon "Bud"
Brooks and lastly Sam Temple.
There were six doctors in San
Jacinto (three at the same time). They were: Dr. H.D. Walker, Dr. A.W.
Newton, Dr. Jonathan Spencer, Dr. Morton Neill, Dr. Nathan Kendrick and
everybody's favorite, Dr. William A. Wildman. Dr. Newton advertised that he
could cure gravel without an operation.
of the Peace, who were referred in those days as "Squire", included: John
Hayden, W.R. Hughes, W.D. Morris, J. Johnson and W.W. Anderson.
Blacksmiths were indispensible during the early years, and for many years
afterward. The following plied their trade in San Jacinto or Bigger
Township: Charles Goldsborough, Jim Craig, Ed Semon, Ben Hand, Joel Hogden,
James Shuck, Arch McMillian, James Alford Stewart and lastly Charley
Monta Beach Vinson, 96 says her father, Walter Beach,
was also a blacksmith at San Jacinto. She remembers when she was twelve years
old and living with her family in North Madison, where her father was
blacksmithing, men coming from San Jacinto to get her father to be a blacksmith.
They moved to San Jacinto, and her father bought the house and farm across the
road from the Hall in San Jacinto. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Beach
lived the rest of their lives in that home.
The first saw
and grist mill, perhaps in San Jacinto, was owned by Linsey Stanley. It was on
the lot where the K of P Hall now stands. It was torn down and the Hall
built in 1898. This building was not only the Castle Hall for the Lodge, the
lower part of the building was used for other industry. The first San
Jacinto High School terms were taught there in 1905. and continued until 1916.
Hare and Custer had an implement store there where they sold farm machinery,
pleasure vehicles, and hardware.
Later when Mr. Hare's business
got too big for this building, the Hare building (later known as the Holmes
building) was built. Later when his business outgrew this building, too, Mr.
Hare took his business to Butlerville. Harold Sawyer had a garage there where he
repaired autos. Charley Stewart refinished and repaired furniture in the
building while his wife, Tessie, manned the telephone exchange upstairs. The
exchange had also been in the corner house known as Stewarts across from the
Hall. The upstairs was made into an apartment and several persons including the
Stewarts, Lester Sullivans, Don Brooks and many others made it their home.
Richard (Dick) and Barb Brooks were the first to operate a grocery there,
followed by Vernon (Bud) and Dorothy Brooks and Shirley Temple. It is used
for storage now with the upstairs as a residence.
branch of the North Vernon Public Library was located at the home
of Maude Cole. Anyone could get a library card and take their favorite book
home to read. You could even request her to get a certain book and whenever the
booklady came again, you would get it.
Later Sue Fields Holmes
operated the library branch at her home. Lenore Holmes Austin had a millinery
shop and "did" permanents at her parents home. Her sister, Zoe, recalls the hats
came from an aunt in Indianapolis.
The large I.O.O.F. building
seen in the early 1910 pictures of San Jacinto was also Gil Cox's general store.
It burned the same year and the lodge moved to the upstairs of the Hare (Holmes)
building. This building was torn down in the 1960's.
barn and blacksmith shop located adjacent to the schoolyard, were also torn down
about that time.
The K of P Castle Hall still
The village that grew up at the forks of Graham
Creek, at the forks of the public road, and near the center of the township, was
known as "The Forks" (later San Jacinto). Alice Bundy in her "A Glimpse of
Pioneer Life in Jennings County", relates that her mother gave her the following
picture of "The Forks" in 1860.
Taylor Stibbling had a
general store in a small frame building to which was added a "lean to",
used for a ware-room. One entered the one door by ascending wooden steps.
Shelves extended on both sides of the room which were bolts of calico and muslin
near the door. Other supplies reposing on the shelves for sale were: matches,
hardware, candy, mostly "candy kisses" which were cubical pieces of candy
wrapped in bright colored papers on which were printed endearing verses. A
counter reached across the end along the side. On the end counter were the
balancing scales, and barrels of brown sugar and green coffee were crowded in a
small space; also a barrel of New Orleans molasses with a fawcet for filling the
customer's jug was lying near. The post office boxes and a small amount of
postal supplies occupied the corner next to the window.
Stanley had a sawmill and grist mill. On Saturday the mill ground corn the full
day, and the little village thronged with pioneers who brought their grist, and
too, on that day the weekly mail was brought on horseback from Dupont. A group
would watch eagerly for the postman. When the postman opened the "mail sack",
everyone crowed into the small empty space in the store and listened intently
for their name as the postmaster called the names of those receibing mail. The
receiver replied "here" and the letter or newspaper was tossed to them.
Benville, Ind., Jan. 3, 1900
I presume that a great many of the readers of your paper who do not know
of Bigger township other than by name and therefore I believe a short wirte-up
of its facilities and business will not be out of place at this time.
Geographically, Bigger township is in the southeast corner of Jennings county;
it is bounded on the east by Ripley county, on the south by Jefferson County; on
the west by Vernon township, on the north by Campbell township; it is six
miles long (north & south), and five miles wide (east & west),
containing thirty square miles; is situated in town 6 north and ranges 9 & 10 east.
It is crossed from northeast to southwest by Big Graham creek, which is joined
from the east by Little Graham at San Jacinto, which is the voting place of the
San Jacinto is beautifully located in the broad and
fertile valleys of Graham creek, and is surrounded by some of the finest
farms in Jennings county. Its business interests are: Carson Bros., general
store; Hare & Custer, dealers in farm machinery, pleasure vehicles, and
hardware; James H. Shuck, horse shoeing and general blacksmithing; Gabe
Peterman, dealer in timber; Dr. Wm. A. Wildman, physician and surgeon. Here also
are located Graham Baptist Church, Pleasant Valley Lodge No. 391 I.O.O.F., and
Graham Valley Lodge No. 356 K. of P. It is also the home of Rev. Nelson Johnson,
known to Baptist people all over Southeastern Indiana.
is located two miles north of San Jacinto, in a rich farming district, and is
surrounded by as comfortable homes and good farm buildings as may be found
anywhere. Its business interests consist of : Thomas Conboy, general
store, and stock shipper; Arch McMillan, blacksmithing; E.T. Carson,
dealer in timber, lumber and ties; McDowell & Farren, threshing
machine, corn shredder and sawmill; John M. Heid, sawmiller and
manufacturer of the famous Heid Buckwheat Flower; Mix
Bros., contractors and builders. Here is also located the Rush Branch M.E.
Benville is located on the county line, three miles east
of Rush Branch (Hyde), and is surrounded by good farms and comfortable
homes. E.H. Burton dispenses general merchandise and buys country
produce; Ed Semon does general blacksmithing; Joseph Ralstin &
Son are sawmillers and also operate a threshing machine, a corn shredder and a
clover buller; U.E. Smith is a contractor and builder and also raises
barns for other carpenters throughout the country, Bigger P.O. is three miles
southeast of San Jacinto and is the home of many industrious farmers whose
surroundings bespeak prosperity and happiness. John B. King is postmaster
and general storekeeper; L.F. Giddings deals in timber;
Robert Sullivan is agent for fertilizer; Benj. P.H. McIntire is
thresherman and sawmiller.
Our schools are second to none in the
county; church and Sunday school facilities good; roads above the
average, and when our 8.19 miles of pike now under contract are completed we
will be able to travel in almost any kind of weather.
surroundings and with the present prosperity, which we think will continue, we
are a happy and contented people.
Article found in
the Republican, January 12, 1900
There were five post
offices in Bigger Township. The mail carriers came first on horseback, after
meeting the mail train at Dupont, Butlerville or Grayford. The following
are the list of known postmasters according to the the U.S.
Benville - Open
Joseph Passmore, James Hole, Joel
Hidder, Robert Ransell, Jonathan Cope, John Hayden, Francis
Bigger - Open from
P.M. King, William Graham, John B.
Hyde - Open from
Maize - Open a short
time in 1890
U.S. Grant Smith
San Jacinto - Open from
Thomas Bland, Gabriel Layton, Caleb Andersen,
Ezra Lawler, Gill Cox, William Anderson, Elijah Spaulding, Isadore Marrowitch,
Jacob August, John Layman, James Craig, Benjamin Wildman, J.F. Stanley, William
Stanley, Solomon Burchill, Samuel Carson, William Carson and Albert
The mail was picked up once a week and
delivered to these stations. The post offices were generally located in
the local store or other place of business. When the Rural Route Delivery
state law went into effect in 1906, all the post offices in Bigger township were
closed. Mail came by delivery from post offices in Dupont, Buttlerville or
North Vernon, and until the roads were improved and the automobiles introduced,
not really an everyday occurance, but citizens did not have to go to the
store for their mail.
HISTORY OF SAN JACINTO
San Jacinto dates back to the time when southern
Indiana was first settled by white men. What we now call Old San Jacinto was
located about two miles east of the present site near the cross roads on the
Lester Sullivan Farm. It was a small village consisting of a general
store, blacksmith shop, shoe repair shop, three dwellings and one church, the
Methodist Prodestant Church, a branch of the Methodist.
When the town had grown to proportions that justified, the people began to
clamor for a post office. In 1845, a petition was circulated, then forwarded to
Washington, D.C. with the plea for a post office by the name of West Cincinnati.
When the papers came back back for the establishment of a post office, instead
of the requested name, it was called San Jacinto.
In 1836, the
Texans defeated the Mexicans in a battle fought near the mouth of the San
Jacinto River, which flows into Galveston Bay. The San
Jacinto Battleground State Historic Park and the U.S.S. Texas battleship
are now located there. It is believed to be the origin of the name selected for
About the year 1857, the post office moved to "Forks
of Graham Creek" as San Jacinto was then called and the name of the post
office was given to the village. The post office was placed in the house
later known as the C.P. Cole home. The post office was closed later and the mail
delivered from Butlerville in a horse drawn carriage until about 1920. A car has
been used since that time.
The first school was built in
1858, across the creek from the present site and on the east side of the road.
The next was a brick building erected in 1892. The first term of high
school, in 1905-06, was held in the lower part of the K of P Hall. In 1916
the people of Bigger Township saw the need of a larger and better school
building and made provisions for the erection of the building which at the
present time is used as the Community Center. This was built under the direction
of Cassius Silver at a cost of $5,555.55.
On March 24, 1872, a
meeting was held in the upstairs of the Post Office and the Odd Fellows Lodge
was organized. They held their meetings there until the Odd Fellows building,
which stood on the lot between the Walter Beach and that of W.E. Holmes, was
built. This building burned in 1910 and the Odd Fellows bought and moved into
the upper part of the building known as Holmes' Grocery from 1913 until 1966
when the store was closed. This building was torn down by the new owners in the
The Knights of Pythias met in 1892 and were
organized. They built the K of P Hall, which still stands. This lot was
formerly the site of a grist and saw mill combined. Both the Odd
Fellows and the Knights of Pythias have disbanded.
W.J. Hare had
a hardware and implement store in the lower part of the K of P Building.
His business grew so rapidly he built the store that later became known as
Holmes' Grocery and conducted his business there until he moved to
Dr. Wildman, for years was the family physician and
friend of the whole community. He owned the first automobile and created quite a
sensation when he started out on his calls.
Although San Jacinto
has not increased a lot in size, it is still a meeting place for the surrounding
community and the same neighborly spirit of a century ago is felt by all. The
buildings that make up the town seem very contented in this valley and the
hills, proud of the trust given them.
Written by Zoe Holmes Shull in 1919, Updated in 1983
San Jacinto around 1908-Gil Cox's general store-first library-Dr. Wildmans house in the background
San Jacinto - translation Hyacinth or purple flower). These flowers were in
evidence at the Battle of San Jacinto. The following pictures are some from
the book and are as most remember the little town. Note that the local
nickname for San Jacinto is Cinto.
JEFFERSON PROVING GROUND TAKE OVER
1938, the U.S. Government, began gearing up for the defense of the country.
Industrial defense plants were being built, and the military increased. A
proving ground for the big guns and bombs was needed, and the lone proving
ground at Aberdeen, Maryland was inadequate.
In October, 1940,
the Government decided to build a new proving ground of 55,000 acres in
southeastern Indiana. Sworn to secrecy before time, a group of 22 Federal, State
and local officials made the announcement on the 6th of December, 1940. Edison
Stark recalls how he and Lester Sullivan and the Jennings County Agriculture
Agent, had the formidable task of telling each farm owner in Bigger Township,
that their land was required. All were told on the same day, so people wouldn't
sell and buy before the others knew about it.
It was a sad day,
and roughly one-fifth of the land in Bigger Township, was taken. Families were
uprooted and had to move from their homes and farms. Some had lived there
all their lives, and had even inherited land from pioneer ancestors. Life for
them and for the township was changed forever.
Some who gave up
their homes were; Frank Armand; Edward Beatty; Luke, Willie and Martin Bland;
Arthur and Milton Carter; Frank Dolan; Frank Etter; Carey, Jim and Homer Fry;
Ruth Gadd; Arthur Hallett; Mollie Hare (King family lived here); Jim Hastings;
Herbert Hans; Edie Johnson; Dan Losey; Kate McDonald; Ora Perkins; William
Schonfeld; Simeon Shelton; Edison Stark; Clarimore, Gilbert, Lawrence and Robert
Stout; Frank, Ernest, John and Sam Sullivan; John Walker and Charles Fox. Losing
acreage but not their homes were; William Welch, Edward Heid, J.W. Morris and
Frank Hall. Although Elden Wyne's home was in Ripley County, it was taken along
with the rest of their farm that lay in Bigger Township.
155 days the proving ground was being used to test weapons, and the
countryside was not quiet anymore. The loud noise of the big Howitzers, the roar
of the bombers, and the sounds of the bombs exploding, became commonplace.
That stopped in 1990, when the Jefferson Proving
Grounds was shut down. The land was sold to a private citizen in 1996, with
parts being reserved for wildlife and conservational purposes. A target site for
the Air National Guard, was also reserved across the fields from San Jacinto.
The peaceful little township is still noisy today.
Hyde P.O. was located two miles north of San Jacinto in a rich farming district
and was surrounded by comfortable homes and good farm buildings as may be found
anywhere. It's business interests consist of Thomas Conboy, general store and stock
shipper; Arch McMillan, blacksmithing; E.T. Carson, dealer in
timber, lumber and ties; McDowell and Farren, threshing machine, corn
shredder and sawmill; John M. Heid, sawmiller and manufacturing of the
famous Heid Buckwheat and Flour; Mix Bros., contractor and builders.
Thomas Conboy, son of Thomas and Jane Conboy, was born in Pennsylvania,
Juu 29, 1852. When he was a small boy the family moved to Indiana and
located in Switzerland County. In 1861 they moved to Jennings County, the
father having bought the Thompson Brothers' farm at Rush Branch.
On May 6, 1894, he was united in marriage to Margaret Coleman. To this
union was born one daughter Cordelia, who with her mother survives. When a
child he united with the Presbyterian Church and while in later years he
was not actively engaged in church work, he endeavored to practice the
teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures say "in as much as you
do unto the least of these ye do it unto Me". Throughout Bigger
Township there are many people who have and do testify to the fact that
Thomas Conboy went about doing good. Mr. Conboy passed away at the family
home on Sunday evening Sept. 30, 1928, at the age of 76 years 3 mo. 1 day.
He was conscious to the last and able to converse with his wife and
daughter. He is survived by one brother, John Conboy, and one sister,
Mrs. John Sullivan, one brother and five sisters having preceded him in
death. Mr. Conboy is also mourned by the wife and daughter and to these
especially the sympathy and friendship of the community are
CARD OF THANKS
We wish to express our sincere thanks to our relatives, friends and neighbors
for their kindness and sympathy shown at the death of our husband and father,
Thomas Conboy. We also wish to thank the Rev. Rilley of Greensburg and the
Rev. Rule, of Louisville, Undertaker Jordan and those who sent flowers.
Mrs. Margaret Conboy and daughter Cordila
BIGGER TOWNSHIP And The UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
As early as 1825, Indiana was known for the Underground Railroad, where
residents helped slaves from the South, escape to Canada and freedom. Many of
Bigger Township pioneers came from North Carolina and Kentucky to get away from
slavery. So they were not in favor of it.
The Aegan or Short cave located on Big
Graham Creek, near the broder of Bigger Township and Vernon Township, became one
of the Underground stations. It was not very big cave, but it had an upper
chamber that made a good hiding place. It also had a cold spring to
Perhaps the best known station in Jennings County was Thomas
Hicklin's large two story brick house, east of San Jacinto. The house had a big
basement, and a tunnel for hiding.
However this was not always used. One time
when the "slave catchers", were right on the heels of a runaway slave, he was
hurriedly hid under a curtained bed. Dummies were placed on the backs of horses,
and as the deceived catchers went off in hot persuit, the slave was safely
escorted to the next station. It is said that Thomas Hicklin never lost a slave
entrusted to his care. Thomas Hicklin died in 1845, and is buried in the Hicklin
graveyard on his farm, where his mother was laid to rest in 1812. His tombstone
reads as follows:"An Ardent Preacher of the Gospel, and an Able Advocate
of Human Rights, Died December 16, 1845. Aged 57 years 7 months 5
Not only was Thomas Hicklin an Abolitionist, but it is also
believed he ran for vice president of the United States of America on the
This article appearing in the North Vernon Plain Dealer in
1885, supposes that a log house on the property now owned by Lottie Byar's
heirs, was also a station.
The Quaker families that settled in the northeastern part of Bigger Township were
very sympathetic to the slavery question, and in fact it is believed they often
helped the along the underground route, but in fact the churches in Bigger Township
were divided over the slavery question, and as early as 1845 several members split
from Graham Baptist Church, because they "churched" James Hicklin, for breaking the
law and aiding and abetting slaves to escape from their owners. The Fugitive Slave Law,
was enacted in 1850, making it illegal to aid the slaves. (Maybe the Baptists were
referring to an earlier state law).
Later in the census of 1880, several free negroes were listed as living in the
township. In fact, a school known as the Colored School, was opened in Bigger, near
The Fugitive Slave Law,
enacted by Congress in 1850 after
much acrimony and growing grievous division, decreed the capture of fleeing negroes.
But an association of Eastern abolitionists sent agents to strategic points along
the Ohio River to assist their escape northward. A ferryman was stationed regularly
at Madison 25 miles south of Vernon, to help speed the refugees into Jennings County.
From there by obscure and secret routes they proceeded at night via the famed
to Toledo and Detroit, to Canada and
freedom. Indiana Quakers were foremost in operating this furtive escape,
although many of them declined to help because this evasion of the law "made
a virtue of falsehood".But Bigger Township, and Campbell Township
immediately to its North in Jennings County were vital links.
THE PRESIDENTIAN CONNECTION
Perhaps, the most influential of the Quaker families that settled in the
northeastern part of Bigger Township was the Joshua Milhous family.
Joshua and Elizabeth Milhous came to Bigger Township from Ohio in 1854.
They settled on a farm about three miles from the present Rush Branch Church. They built
the house now owned by Russell and Jeanne Sporleder.
The Milhous family was well known and respected members of Bigger Township.
Joshua established a nursery on their farm, known as "Sycamore Valley Nursery", where he and
his sons sold fruit trees, ornamental shrubs and grapes. They not only sold to neighbors,
but they traveled the wide countryside into other states, to sell the items.
Mrs. Joshua (Elizabeth)Milhous was the Quaker minister of the Hopewell
Friends Meeting, and also superintendent of the Friends Centennial Sabbath School, later
known as the Harmony Hill Sunday School. Some of the children became school teachers.
Joshua Milhous died in 1892, and is buried in the Hopewell (Quaker)
Cemetery, near Butlerville.
His sons continued the nursery business, but in 1897, Frank Milhous
and family, including a twelve year old daughter, Hannah, moved to Whittier, California.
All their possessions, they loaded into a boxcar, and shipped their new home in California.
However, Frank did not sell his property in Bigger Township until much later. Meanwhile,
Hannah Milhous, grew up and married, becoming the mother of Richard Milhous Nixon, the
Hannah and her husband made trips back to Bigger Township in 1937 and 1951,
on their way home from attending events concerning their son, Richard. President
Nixon said his mother always had fond memories of her childhood in Bigger.
On June 24, 1971, a marker, located on U.S. Highway 50, near Butlerville, was
dedicated by President Nixon in a special ceremony at the Jennings County Courthouse.
Document & Photo concerning election of James Miles
William Wildman was the local doctor for many years during the late 1800's to
the 1920's. He and his wife Kate lived on Cinto Hill, and the house is still
referred to as the Doc. Wildman place. His driver in the horse and buggy days,
was Solomon (Sod) Losey. He got a Ford touring car later, and drove himself. Rom
Beckett, so of a Versailles doctor taught him to drive. The story is told that
he forgot how to stop the car, and once drove right through the garage,
frantically hollering "Whoa, whoa!"
Dr. Wildman's father-in-law, Dr. N. Kendricks, also practiced
in San Jacinto.
Although Doc. Wildman had his office in his home at the top of
the San Jacinto Hill, he also saw patients in their homes. He always required
someone to act as chauffeur for his horse and buggy and also to assist in other
duties. One of those "chauffeur assistants" was Dan Losey who, a teenager, lived
with Doc's family for a few years and said that he always went inside with the
doctor to help him. Only one particular surgery became too traumatic for him.
The patient had been diagnosed as having a brain tumor.
The kitchen table had been sterilized, the patient prepared, and
surgery started. But when the doctor had begun sawing through the skull, Dan
became violently ill and had to leave the house. The surgery was successful and
the patient, John Goins, lived for many years. Other than that one time, Dan had
enjoyed the time spent with the good doctor and had received a valuable free
education, which was in later life very helpful in raising his own family.
When Dan got married at the age of 24 and moved near Benville, his
brother Solomon (Sod) became Doc's chauffeur.
Other Dr's who lived in Cinto included: H.D. Walker, A.W. Newton, J.A.
Spencer and Morton Neal.
Veterans of eight wars spanning two centuries represent Bigger Township well.
The first veteran and only soldier of the Revolutionary War, was John Hughes, who
served with the Sixth Virginia Volunteers. His son James Hughes, was a veteran of the War of 1812.
The Rev. Lawson Stephenson also served in the same war. Among the Mexican War soldiers were Hamilton
Wafford and Daniel Grinstead, who were members of the Sixth Regiment, Indiana Vol. Infantry.
Payton Anderson was the first to enlist in the Civil War and the township contributed
about a total of 100 men. The Jacob Cox and Callicott families sent five sons apiece. Those killed in
battle included George Batchelor, George Henry, William Walker and James R. Callicott. Dying while in
the service were: Benjamin, Thomas and Lafayette Cox; A. McGuire; M. Guirl; Nathan Whitsett; Ben Farrin and
William Partlow. Not all casualties of the Civil War died while the war was in progress. The Rev. Nelson
Johnson, noted Baptist minister, died in 1901, the direct result of a cannonball wound received.
Forty-seven men and boys from the San Jacinto vicinity were called as militia
to Indianapolis to guard prisoners of war, during the Civil War. This group included
Ben Wildman and Jasper N. Callicott.
Promotions during the war-Ninth Regiment Indiana Legion
Thomas C. Bachelor Captain San Jacinto June 5, 1861
James Craig Captain San Jacinto Sept. 4, 1861
1st Lieut. San Jacinto June 5, 1861 Promoted Captain
Marion E. Bland
1st Lieut. San Jacinto Sept. 4, 1861 Resigned Oct. 8, '61
Gillum H. Cox
1st Lieut. San Jacinto July 17, 1862 Resigned
John F. Haden 1st Lieut.
San Jacinto Oct. 24, 1862
Joseph H. Passmore 2nd Lieut. San Jacinto
June 5, 1861 Promoted Quartermaster
Azariah D. Stephenson 2nd Lieut San
Jacinto July 17, 1862
Bigger Township boys gathered at the W.W. Anderson store
near San Jacinto, when word came that Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and
his raiders were riding towards Jennings County. They formed a company to assist
the wounded. To identify themselves, each volunteer agreed to wear a green
calico arm band. The Morgan raiders did not come to Bigger. But although their
help was not needed, the boys bravery was outstanding!
A total of 45 men registered for the World War I draft. Dick
Grinstead was the first to register and the first to go. Ernest Fewell and George
Crank died while in camp.
When the guns rumbled again in Europe and bombs fell on Pearl
Harbor, Bigger sent some of its finest to battle. Billy Darling and Eugene
Brightwell, Jr. made the ultimate sacrifice, Darlings brother Holly, an officer
in the Navy, was also killed in action.
Several men from Bigger also served in the Korean and
Vietnam wars, but fortunately, all survived.
The only woman engaged in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War
II, that had connections to Bigger Township, was Helen Etter, daughter of Frank and
Grace Etter. Helen spent here girlhood in the Bethel neighborhood, braduated from
San Jacinto High School. Her family lost their farm to the Jefferson Proving Ground
and moved in 1941.
Phillip Johnson was born in Scotland or Virginia in 1758 and died in
Jennings County, Indiana, July 11, 1835. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary
War. He enlisted at Hale's Hole, Essex County Virginia in April, 1777 and served
as matross for six years in Captain James Pendleton's Company and was at the
battle of Bunker Hill and at Yorktown when Cornwallis surrendered. According to
the record in the Bureau of Pensions, Washington, D.C., Phillip Johnson was in
four battles; Monmouth, Stony Point, Camden and Pittsburg.
Phillip Johnson married after the war was over in 1782. His wife
Susannah was born June 13th,1766, and died November 14, 1834, 68 years old. He and
his wife were the parents of eleven children: Jane, William M., Giles, Elizabeth,
Joel W., Lemy, James R., Mary, Berry, Lankston, and Clement.
It is believed the ancestral home was where Charles Miles lived and owned in Bigger
Township, north of Blandtown School.
Phillip and Susannah are buried in an old garden on the bank of Big
Otter Creek in Campbell Township
No one remembers when the first telephone lines appeared in
Bigger Township. But Bruce Clements started the first central telephone line
that encompassed the whole township.
Farmers could donate locust poles and help sting the wire to
pay for the initial cost of getting a phone. Many a crooked pole proudly dotted
the countryside during the late 1930's. The lines were not stretched very tight
and Mr. Clemments earned the nickname "Loose Wires" Clements.
The exchange was located at the corner house in San Jacinto
and Tessie Stewart was the operator. Later, the exchange was sold to Sylva
Renner, and Mae Renner and Kate Carney also manned the switches. Norman Koelmel
was the last owner of the San Jacinto exchange, before it was incorporated into
the Southeastern Indiana Rural Telephone Cooperative. This cooperative included
five other telephone companies, but San Jacinto retained her name for the
exchange and the new cooperative went into effect in 1953. Ronald Wahlman was
the first director representing this area on the South Eastern Telephone Co-op.
New lines were built and dial telephones installed in 1956. Still later the
lines were all put underground. The phone company is one of the most modern in
For many years, Bigger Township residents had to rely on wells,
cisterns or springs for their water supply. In 1972, Johnnie Anderson, a Bigger
Township native, was instrumental in forming and establishing one of the pioneer
rural water companies, thus making it possible for the rural areas to have piped
in water. Mr. Anderson served as president of the Muscatatuck Water Company and
Jennings Water, Ind. Around 1973, Bigger got on the rural extension of
Muscatatuck Water Company. In a few years, Dupont Water Company was established
and folks in the sourthern part of the township also got water. Most of the area
is now covered with rural water lines from one of those companies.
Today, life in Bigger township is as modern as anyplace. Electricity,
rural water and up to date telephones in combination with unpolluted air and one of
only two unpolluted streams in Indiana makes it an ideal place to live.
The Anderson Family
John F. & Mary Belle lived on the old Benjamin Merrill farm.
The house is still standing and is probably the oldest house in Bigger Township.
Both are from old pioneers of the township.
John was the son of Joseph C. and Rosa Belle McCabe Anderson. He
was born January 22, 1862 in Marietta, Indiana and moved with his parents to
Bigger Township when he was a young boy. He began life without any resources
other than his own physical strength, mental abilities, honesty and energy which
gave him success in life. In 1926, he was elected township trustee of Bigger
Township, which position he filled creditably until his death in 1929. Mary
Belle served as trustee until his term was over.
Mary Belle was the daughter of James and Mary Ann S. Miles. Mary
Ann S. first married John Merrill who was a farmer and wagon maker and in 1857, she
married James Miles, and had four children: Charles, Emma, Mary Belle and Anna.
On this farm were orchards, farm land, groves and a maple sugar camp.
All of these areas helped to improve their survival.
The Merrill Family
The Benjamin Merrill family. They were descendants
from some of the earliest settlers in Bigger Township, the family orginally
settled near Rabbit Plains in the early 1820's. Most of the Merrills later
mirgrated to Howard County, Indiana.
The Fall Family
The Fall ancestor, Beniah Fall, came to Bigger Township in the
mid 1800's. He purchased the farm directly east of Graham Baptist Church. The farm
has been in the Fall family every since that time. A direct descendant, Vernon Brooks,
Jr. owns the land today.
The Boggs Family
Mrs. Anna Boggs was left a widow when most of the
children were small. She was the daughter of Gabriel Peterman. The Petermans
came to this area in the 1800's. Burrs from the old water powered mill, located
in the Big Graham Creek near the Peterman farm are in the steps of the Boggs'
home. Anna Boggs' great-grandson, Keven Boggs, lives on the Boggs farm, which
also includes the Miles Bundy place on County Road 150 South.
Bigger has been relatively free of natural disasters, but
a few should be noted. Several floods have been recorded but none as bad as the
flood of 1897, also called the McKinley Flood, mentioned elsewhere in this
Several times during this period, there were snowstorms. In the
early years, they were not crippling, because people did not depend on electic
power like they do today. Many will remember the snow/ice storm of 1961. It
happened during a boys basketball tourney, and some of Bigger citizens were
caught in a gym unable to drive home on the icy
People in and around San Jacinto cannot forget the
snowstorm of 1978. The snow drifted until there were snow drifts on the roads
over six feet high and it was bitterly cold.
The power was off for
three days and the Wahlmans could not milk or feed the cows during that time,
but miraculously the cows did not get sick! During this time most of the 25
persons in San Jacinto, plus the Buck's Siamese cat went to the Community
building (aka the old schoolhouse). Here they had a gas cook stove, wood and
coal furnaces and did community sharing of their food until power was
Dorothy Lacey Combest remembers that snow. She says, "The
blizzard of '78 left many roads drifted and closed in Bigger Township. Our
daughter and family (Jeff and Joyce Morrison) were drifted from both ends of
their road. The county road workers tried to get through, but their equipment
couldn't make it. Meanwhile the family was shut in their bathrood with a little
camper stove to keep warm. Jeff used his CB to call for help early in the storm.
Randy Boggs on his bulldozer with Dr. Jack Shuck on back, froke through the
drifts to their home. The family including their baby daughter checked out OK
but the coke outside their bathroom door was frozen!
Note: It is
interesting how Dorothy found out what was going on during this time. There was
no dial tone on the phone in her house, but regardless, she kept picking the
receiver up every once in a while. Once when she picked it up, someone said
"Hello, hello, hello". Dorothy answered and asked who was on the phone. Cheryl
Boggs (Randy's wife) was the answer. It was a miracle that hey could talk to one
another over a dead line. They were not even on the same phone line. When Cheryl
found out who she was talking to, she informed Dorothy that her husband with his
bulldozer was on the way to help Dorothy's daughter and family. They made an
arrangement to be on the phone at certain time each hour so they could keep in
touch. That was how Dorthy learded from Cheryl (also in contact by CB with
rescuer) the update on getting to the Morrison's. What a relief, when Cheryl
relayed the message that the bulldozer with the doctor aboard had not only
reached them but the family was alright and taken to a warm place. The phone in
the Combest home was still dead!
Although there were various
accounts of winds and cyclones during the 1800's, and barn roofs, small
buildings and trees were blown down, nothing compared in the past to the tornado
on April 9, 1999. The tornado hit around 3:03 a.m. while most people were
sleeping. It came from the area of Dupont, causing a lot of destruction there
and skipped to the Franks and Elliott farms near the County line road. The only
personal injury occured when Brenda Elliott's mobile home was demolished and she
was carried across the road and thrown into her father's bean field. She was
confined to the hospital for a few weeks and had a long period of
The Tornado then hit the McCammon and Morris farms, in the
far southeast corner of Bigger Township. All the barns at both farms were
destroyed and the houses sustained much damage. Relating what happened, Ray
Morris said, "We rolled off the bed and pulled the mattress over us. I felt the
floor move under me, but we didn't have time to be scared." (A piece of tin
roofing pierced the window and landed on the bed where Ray had been
Coty and Sid McCammon were in their upstairs bedroom when Coty
said, "We heard the windows poppin in our house, and we started to go to the
basement, but we didn't have time. It was over so fast." Some roofing was also
blown from the Marty and Kerri Morris house next to the Ray Morris home. The
landscape will never be the same, but all are thankful there were no
Anna Cosgrove entertained with a
poverty social last Tuesday evening. A number of Anna Cosgrove's friends could
be seen winding their way to her home which is 1-2 mile east of San Jacinto.
From the young people's ragged costumes it could be plainly seen that it was a
poverty social. For supper, corn bread, beans and onions were served. A pleasant
evening was spent in talking, laughing and playing games, and all too soon it
was time to go home. Everybody declared Miss Anna, a royal entertainer. A number
of those present were: Mary Wildman, Gertrude Cole, Lucile Sprague, Ada
Sprague, Edna Semon, Florence Fewell, Hettie Fewell, Mabel Sullivan, Georgia
Fry, Verna Fry, Vinnie Ralstin, Eva Wright, Laura Wright, ESthel Shuck, Otha
King, Anna Grinstead. Leland Shuck, Archie Hare, James King, Archie Hare,
James King, Archie Hare, James King, Archie Cosby, Richard Cosby, Ed Heid,
George Heid, Dan Losey, Carl Sullivan, Ernest Sullivan, Everett Ralstin, Earl
Ralstin, Clifford Fewelll, Jimmie Fry, Homer Fry, Everett Grinstead, Richard
Grinstead, John Moll, Willie Schonfield, John Stanley, Carrie Fry, Robert Fry,
Printed November 22, 1906
THE WASHING MACHINE
By Lillian Taylor
For thousands of
years, one of the most tiresome of household tasks was the washing
of clothes and linens. In early times, women often washed clothes on smooth
stones at the edge of running streams. The clothes had to be pounded and rubbed
by hand to get them clean. In some primitive parts of the world women still use
such methods. For a long time, inventors tired to figure out an easier way to do
such work. There was such an inventor in our family, however, he didn't get a
patent on his machine. I'm sure that it made wash day a little
When selling my grandmother Anderson's estate, no one
seemed to want this odd piece, only the auctioneer must have known what it was
for he became the rightful owner.
This odd piece was call a
washing machine and was used in the Anderson family for several years. Actually
it was a very simple piece of mechanism. The bottom part was inserted in a tub
of soap and water. There were two cords with loops and when the handle was
turned, the cords went up and down and the the clothes were rubbed over the part
that was built like a washboard. The clothes were rinsed and hand
wrung. Sounds primitive, but it served the purpose in those
This inventor was Lewis Merrill, who was a half brother to
my grandmother Anderson. He made three of these machines. One for
my grandmother, one for my great-aunt Emma Rogers, and one for my
great-aunt Anna Graham.
Lewis Merrill was a carpenter and
worked in building houses and barns in Jennings County and then came to
Johnson County, where he worked his trade and also worked in building Smiley's
Mill on Sugar Creek, east of Franklin. He married Lizzie Tucker and later moved
to Traverse City, Michigan.
I have no idea when it was
made, but this washing machine is now in the museum at Vernon.
1829-Liberty-Graham Baptist Church-1999
On the second Saturday
in August, 1829, nine members of the Stephenson-Merrill families met at the home
of Lawson Stephenson, on Little Graham Creek, nearly two miles east of the
present church, to form a church compact. With help from Brother James Alexander
of Middlefork and brethern from Bethel and Freedom, they had prayers and gave
each other the right hind of fellowship, and took the name of Liberty.
Licensed to preach by Bethel in 1828, Lawson Stephenson was
ordained in 1831 and become both pastor and moderator, without compensation,
until his death in 1835.
The church started meeting
alternately at Vardamon Hughes'; which was a mile or so west of the present
church on Big Graham Creek, and the Stephenson home. In 1839, the name of the
church was changed to Graham, and it was decided to build a meeting
house more centrally located. After many changes of sites, it was agreed to
build a 36 by 40 brick meeting house on land donated by James and Jane Hughes
and John and Martha Hicklin. The members worked several years preparing the
lumber and materials. The fricks were burned on the site. In May, 1848, Brother
Read claimed there was enough brick to build the house by, "dispensing with the
chimneys". Construction started in July, 1848, and many of the men and
boys had a part. Rev. Jacob Cox's nine year old son blistered his hands so
badly, working with the brick, that he carried the scars the rest of his life.
(It was built by a labor of love.)
A major remodeling was done
1898, when the roof was raised and the building built higher and a belfry and
bell added. When this was completed the church looked much the same as it
does today, one hundred plus years later!
Graham has had
good times and bad times, but the worst of all was the time it was advised by
the State Baptist Officials to close the doors and merge with Dupont. This was
during the great depression, and it was hard to get a pastor and even harder to
pay one. But with prayers and plenty of raith, the fifteenloyal souls kept the
doors open and services continued. In fact, Graham has now completed 170 years
of continuous service for the Lord!
In 1940, when the U.S.
Government took land for the Jefferson Proving Ground, Bethel Baptist Church was
included. Several of the Bethel members joined the fellowship at Graham. They
bought with them $700.00 from Bethel and that became the start of a
building fund for Sunday School rooms. The first Sunday School/dining/recreation
room was built on the back of the church in 1947. Electric lights were installed
and a cistern made at this time. In 1956 there was need for more rooms so a
basement was dug, the rooms added, along with central heating and bathroom
facilities. Through the years many changes and improvements have been made for
the needs and comforts of the members. Recently new windows, new siding, new
central air, and heat have been installed and the parking lot paved. When a
faithful member was called home in 1996, her husband and friends donated the
beautiful stained glass windows above the front doors.
have been forty some pastors at Graham, the longest who served was Rev. Jacob
Cox, who labored twenty-two years without pay. In recent years, many have come
as students at the seminary in Louisville, so do not remain long. The
church thanks the Lord for each one, as each has brought their different
talents and abilities, as they serve.
Graham is proud of the
little church in the valley, but does not lose sight of its reason for
being. It is to welcome any and all who will come and worship, as it has called
others, through the years. Graham is the only Baptist Church that has ever been
established in Bigger Township, and she has a long and glorious history of
serving the community for 170 years.
|James Alexander (preached
||F. Carson Riley,
that have served Graham: Azariah Merrill, Robert Armstrong, Lankston Johnson,
Barnett Johnson, Jacob Wildman, John H. Cox, F.M. Cox, Smith Williams, B.F.
Wildman, Daniel Marsh, Wm. Fall, James Custer, A.S. Johnson, John Losey, George
Visnon, Chas. Sawyer, Walter Beach, Logan Vinson, Herbert Holmes, Wm.,
Hayden, Virgil Mills, Vernon Brooks, Chester Buck, Marion Vinson, Harry Pettit,
George Horstman, *Ronald Wahlman, Andrew Johnson, *Joe Lee, Raymond
Perkins, *Thomas Welch, *Ralph Petit, *Sam Pettit, *Vernon Ingram, and
*Presently serving as
GRAHAM BAPTIST CHURCH MARKS ITS BIG SESQUI-CENTENNIAL
Baptist Church celebrated their sesqui-centenial all day Sunday, August 16,
1979, at the church. A large number of former members and friends
Pastors attending included Brainard Lee, William
Mocherman, Otis Bentley, Donald Buck, Jasper Cox and Marion Cox as well
Graham's current minister, David McMahon.
A basket dinner was
spread at noon featuring a birthday cake with the church's likeness on it. There
was much visiting and remembering old times a well as a pleasant look at a
collection of old pictures including some between 55-70 years
The highlight of the afternoon was a short history of the
church in pageantry, complete with authentic costumes. Participating were David
McMahon, Susan Wahlman, Mary Jo Wahlman, Judy Wahlman, Larry Wahlman, Shirley
Murphy, Caldon Murphy, Paula Smith, Erin Brewer, Richard Wahlman, Kim Lee, John
Murphy and Charles Welch; singers, Beverly Lee, Helen Pettit, Jeanne
Campfield, Freda Johnson, Shirley Murphy, Judy Wahlman and David McMahon;
children, Kristi Lee, Michelle Hatton, Charlotte Hatton, Andrea Campfield,
Karen Arp, Carol Sweeney, Melinda Sweeney, Leslee Wahlman, Mike Murphy, Tim
Murphy, Jacob Wahlman, Joel Wahlman and Christopher Wahlman and Christopher
Wahlman. Also taking part were Curt Lee, Harvey Mucphy, Joe Lee, Sam
Pettit, Tom Welch, Donald Buck, Amney Estell, Ethel Morris and Avis
Recognized were Graham's two members who have been
members each for over 71 years. Mrs. Hazel Fall Vinson has the distinction
belonging to the church the longest as she became a member three months before
Mrs. ESthel Johnson Morris. Both ladies have a wonderful record of service to
the Lord. They both grew up in the church with parents and grandparents long
members of Graham.
In fact, Mrs. Morris is the only member of
Graham today who is a direct descendant of the founders.
Both were Sunday School teachers for many years. Mrs. Vinson was the pianist and
both ladies often sang specials. The offices in the church both held are
too numerous to relate.
The church is grateful to thses whose
combined years of service total 142 years.
The program ended
with the Lord's Prayer and the song "God Be With You Till We Meet
A very special 150 birthday party!
Baptist Church parsonage was built in 1962 at San Jacinto, on land donated by
Deacon Chester and Elizabeth Buck. The building commitee was: Marion Vinson,
George Horstman, Harry Pettit, Andrew Johnson, Robert Smith, Dale Pettit, Grace
Comigore and Laura Marie Welch. Tony Lamb was the contractor and Rev. Arthur
Burcham laid the brick. Church member Spencer Brown constructed the porch and
walk. Many of the members donated labor and money.
THE BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH
Established in 1828 and disbanded in 1940, was taken in by the Jefferson Proving
Ground. Many Bigger Township residents worshipped here, but the church was located
in Ripley County, near Benville. The cemetery was moved to County Road 50 N., after
being displaced by the Jefferson Proving Grounds.
THE OLD SAN JACINTO METHODIST CHURCH PRODESTANT CHURCH
Built by followers of Rev. Thomas Bland in 1853. It was
located east of San Jacinto, on what is known as the Lester Sullivan farm now
owned by Mary Lauderbaugh. This church flourished until 1877 when the Southern
Methodist came. It was abandoned many years before it was torn down in
When the church was torn down to keep it from falling on
someone, there were hollow pillars that fell on the floor. Inside one of the
pillars was a rolled up piece of paper which almost fell apart before
it could be put on another piece of paper. You could read-San
Jacinto Chapel, AD 1832, 15th of May, Of the Conference, 83 members,
This is the History of the little church, according to
U.E. Smith's history of Bigger Township churches. (February 2, 1919, Plain
Dealer). Several of the members of Graham Baptist Church left its fellowship in
1845 when James Hicklin was "churched", for hiding slaves to escape their
masters. It is believed this group joined the San Jacinto Methodist who
organized in the late teens or early twenties. They built a church on the James
Hicklin property east of Graham forks, near the bridge, in June, 1845. Many of
the early families, including the Needhams, Hicklins, Dennys, Milhous; and
others attended this church. Quoting directly from U.E. Smith: "In 1848
and 1849, quite a number of these early pioneers migrated to Oregon, and this
coupled with political strife that was rampart in those anti-bellum days,
finally culminated in the disruption of the church organization, part going east
to Old San Jacinto to organize a Methodist Protestant Church and the other wing
going north to Rush Branch to organize the present Rush Branch M.E.
This "split" possibly occurred in 1852, as the M.P.
Church was erected in 1853, and the Rush Branch Chruch was organized in 1857.
The church east of "The Forks" was sold for $100 in 1855 to Henry Stanley who
used it as a home until it washed away in the flood of 1897.
RUSH BRANCH CHURCH
Beyond the memory of the present eldest
inhabitant of Bigger Township, there was built a little Methodist Church. It was
located on one side of Rush Branch, a small water course that meandered through
the township from east to west, and took its name from the stream. I was the
resort of all religiously inclined residents of that part of the township and
when service was held by what was called a circuit rider, the benches were
filled. Only the large and more prosperous churches could afford an all time
preacher. The smaller and more remote houses of worship were supplied by
preachers riding from one to the other on horseback over wide and wild country.
They were all energetic workers for the cause and true Christians, pioneers in
religious work. They were entertained by the families they
About the year 1862, this worshipping center was shifted
to the crossroads, named Hyde, then changed to Rush Branch, al larger and more
modern building was erected, and is still known as Rush Branch Church, has a
good congregation. A peculiar custom prevailed in that early day of separating
the sexes, seating them on opposite sides of the room. If you attended Rush
Branch Church with your wife or best girl and elderly deacon met you at the door
and motioned you to your side of the room and the lady to the other, and you
both went. There was no complaint as this was the custom, but it is now
Of the devout residents of the neighborhood none were
more so than Daniel Carson, his wife, three sons-John, Thomas and P.D., and one
daughter. This family attended all the church services, entertained the circuit
rider in their turn, held family worship each evening, asked a blessing and gave
thanks at each meal. They were farmers, tilled the soil and produced good crops,
rendering them prosperous. Besides their agricultural industry they operated a
shingle mill by foot power, making a good product of the many poplars which grew
in profusion all over that region, from three to five feet in diameter. Much of
this they cut from their own land, and bought from other landowners. The machine
was set up in their own woods and they did not need horses, oxen, or tractors to
get the timber to it. They would cut a tree, saw it up with crosscut saws into
suitable sections for lengths of shingles, rolling the sections to the machines
where they were split into such blocks as could be conveniently fed into
it. Some of the shingles made in this manner by this family, in that early
day may still be found on roofs of some of the oldest buildings in this county.
On one occasion, John, who was operating the machine, holding a block up to the
knife left the tips of the fingers of one hand too long on the block and the
tips dropped into the shingle dust on the ground. He didn't want to lose
such good fingertips as they had been to him, and picking each of them up,
brushed off the dust, stuck each one back in its proper place, held them there
and proceeded to the house, had them properly bandaged. Strange to say they
stuck and grew fast.
Another family of equal importance and
merit was that of Thomas Conboy, whose farm and home was at the crossroads near
the present church building. His family was his wife, three sons-Thomas, John
and Samuel and several daughters. They also were constant church goers. In
addition to the farming interests, in which he was successful, Mr. Conboy had
another industry, that of boot and shoe making and mending. If he wasn't holding
a plow or engaged in some other farm work, one could find him in his little shop
across the road from the house. For many years he kept the families of his
neighbors from the discomfort of wet or cold feet.
either one of these homes at mealtime, no excuse was allowed to interfere with
your sitting up to the table, and with a hearty welcome, your plate heaped with
the best of good eating. The women of these families were splendid cooks,
and it seemed an offense to them if you did not do full justice to the results
of their labor. This hospitality to guest and strangers was common to the
country in those days.
Between Hyde and the Forks of Graham
(now San Jacinto) lived the Mosley family; mother, father, and a host of little
ones. When the Civil War broke out they lived in Virginia and were loyal to
the Union. Because of this, their rebel neighbors made life something of a
misery to them. They took a far-off look and bundling their goods and children
crossed the country to Indiana, and landed in Bigger Township, where they made
their home for many years. Mrs. John Conboy was one of these children who came
The Plain Dealer, March 19, 1925
RUSH BRANCH CHURCH-100th YEAR
From the North Vernon Plain Dealer, July 24, 1958
Sunday, July 20, was a big day in the Rush Branch community because it was
on this day that people from all walks of life and all sections of Indiana, some
from Kentucky and Ohio, and some from way out in Great Falls, Montana, came to
celebrate the 100th birthday of the Rush Branch Methodist
As would be expected, the day was spent in reminiscing.
Many people were seeing each other for the first time in many years, so there
was much to talk over.
There were services in the morning, with
Dorrell Ochs of North Vernon as the speaker. At two o'clock the group convened
in the sanctuary for the afternoon meeting. The present minister of the church,
Rev. John Wire, was in charge. There were several ministers present: Rev.
Richard Gates of Columbus, a former pastor of the church; Rev. Bob Dollar of the
Graham Baptist Church and Rev. James Moore of the Centerville Community Church.
Rev. Noble Pfiffer of East Columbus was the principle speaker. Mrs. Pfeiffer led
the singing and sang two numbers, accompanying herself on the
Flowers were furnished by Losey Florist, Ralph
Jordan, Mary Sullivan, and Dr. William King of Indianapolis.
history of the curch was discussed. The following is the history of the church
to the present time.
Rush Branch Sunday School was organized in
the year 1858, with James Bachelor as superintendent. The Sunday School and
church services were held in a little log school house, about one and one-half
miles east of the present site. It was situated on the little stream called Rush
Branch, from which it took its name. Although the house was small and mean, the
seats crude and uncomfortable, the people came from all directions until the old
house was filled with old and young.
Mr. Bachelor must have been
the superintendent of the school some six or seven year; then followed "Father
Rigg," John Layman and Madison Cotton. The church and Sunday School grew until
it became a necessity to have a larger and better building. A new church, which
is the one occupied now, was with the exception of the belfry, erected and
dedicated in 1869. Although some distance from the stream, it still retained its
old name, Rush Branch.
Mr. Cotton was the first superintendent
in the new church, followed by William Anderson, who served for a number of
years. John Brown was the first to introduce the Berean Lesson quarterly into
school; it was adopted and is still in use.
In 1879, we find
John Carson, superintendent; David Silver, assistant; A.J. Woolman, secretary;
Thomas Conboy, treasurer; Lizzie Carson and Irvin Waldron, librarians. The
general attendance was 38.
From 1880 until the present the
following persons have served as officers:
Carson, for years; J.N. Callicote, five years; Joseph Rogers, two years; Wm.
McDowell, two years; S.A. Carson, three years; O.M. Anderson, three years; S.
Burchill, two years; C.W. Masters, two years; Mrs. Grace Rogers, Mary Burchill,
Henry Mix, Lillie Rogers and Isabelle Callicote, one year each.
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENTS: Joseph Rogers, William Stanley, Joseph Waldron, James
Silver, Thomas Carson, William McDowell, J.J. Carson, Mary Burchill, C.M.
Silver, O.M. Anderson, S. Burchill, C.W. Masters and Mrs James
SECRETARIES: Benjamin Anderson, S.V. William Stanley,
Joseph Waldron, Amos Silver, Alvin Moseley, S.A. Carson, Lillie Rogers, Alice
Bundy, Nellie Heid, Hettie Fewell, Alice Losey and Hazel Hough.
TREASURERS: Amos Silver, Thomas Heid, Will Carson, W.D. Carson, Geo. Spencer,
Phillip Max, Fannie McDowell, Agnes Conboy and Mrs. Hawkins.
ORGANISTS: Emma Stanley, E. Callicote, Lottie Callicote, Ursula Carson, Ollie
Gibbons, Edna Alexander, Bernice King, Lottie King, Elsie Burchill and Leota
The average attendance has ranged from 38 to 63 during
these years, and the enrollment from perhaps 60 to 138.
the school was organized as a missionary school and remains so still. It was
also continued throughout the year. Before that time it had been run from
seven to nine months only, though the summer and fall, then closing for the
winter, but for the past 23 years the school has been what is called "evergreen"
continuing all year.
While it is not strictly a part of the
church history, it may be interesting to know that the Rush Branch Cemetery was
surveyed and staked off in lots in 1887. John Sullivan was the first person
buried there. He was buried before the ground was surveyed. Some eight years
later, the first time the church bell tolled, was for Mrs. Sullivan, his
During all this time there was no permanent minister
at the church, but one who rode the circuit. The dead were buried then when the
minister got around they would have a service at the grave; this was the origin
of our present graveside services.
The program was much the same
then as today. There were the Christmas programs, Easter, Fourth of July
celebrations and the annual picnic at Rabbit Plains, which is still being held.
Mrs. Mattie Terhune organized a Young People's organization, then called
Epworth League, and in 1904 delegates were sent to the League Convention at
In 1906, a new organ was purchased. In order to pay for
it, two suppers were given, the old organ was sold, and individual donations
were taken. The organ cost $32.75. This seemed like an enormous sum when we
realize that the collection for a whole year was only $15.00 to
In 1910, the Sunday School began taking the
collection from the first Sunday of each month and sending it to the missionary
Through the years the church people participated in all
the events related to the Suday School and church which took place in the
county. In 1914 they won first prize of $10.00 for having the largest delegation
on one wagon taking part in a parade in North Vernon.
moved along on an even keel the next years. In 1949, a series of improvements
began. A new hardwood floor was laid, and new curtains and heaters were
purchased. In 1956, a new room was added for young people's meetings, Sunday
School and social gatherings. The church as just recently been painted.
This brings us up to date, and we just hope and pray we
can continue to grow in faith and strength and become the church our
predecessors hoped for when the Rush Branch Methodist Church was organized.
THE RUSH BRANCH PICNIC
The picnic at Rush Branch held last
Wednesday under the auspices of various Sunday Schools was a most pleasant
affair barring the extreme heat.
Shortly after seven o'clock a
number of wagons started with the Vernon crowd of probably 75 people arriving at
the grove after a warm and dusty ride. The grove of beech and tall slender gum
trees is an ideal place for such a gathering. From all directions they came in
buggies, surreys, wagons, and floats one of the latter being drawn by six sturdy
mules. The grounds had been nicely prepared, the speakers' stand being nicely
festooned with bunting, while "Old Glory" proudly waved a welcome to
Martial music in abundance cheered the crowds as each of
the different schools arrived on the grounds. At eleven o'clock after marching
by the schools, Chairman Carson called the gathering to order. America was sung
and the Declaration of Independence read.
Rev. S.W. Troyer
was then introduced, who spoke briefly on "When is a government safe?" The
flag an emblem of freedom to all people. This government is an asylum to people
of all nations. They come from all lands for the protection of Old Glory.
Solomon said: Righteousness exalteth a nation. We want a righteous rule,
and when we have this our borders will be broadened and we will be regarded as
holding possissions in the world.
Dinner was announced and all
over that big grove were seated groups, all of one mind, intent on emptying
baskets of good things-a big dinner table with a much varied bill of fare. If
any went hungry it was their own fault for an abundance was
Then came an intermingling and visiting
epoch. Sociability prevailed while friends and neighbors greeted each other and
the stalwart boys and pretty girls drank lemonade, ate ice cream or patronized
Now followed more music while Jocephus
Russel beat the long drag and filled every body with admiration for the way he
went after that drum.
The hour for the address of the day having
arrived Mr. Troyer introduced the Hon. A.E. Wiggam of Vernon, as the second
Beveridge of Indiana.
Mr. Wiggam is a whirlwind of oratory
with a most pleasing address. He speaks rather rapidly, but makes himself heard
at all times. He uses the very finest of language, is never at a loss for
words or ideas, and has the happy faculty of escorting his auditors into
the region of the stars, where with one wave after another of the magic
wand he discovers a realm of wonderous beauty, and gently draws back the curtain
while his hearers gaze at the inventions of a genius. The speaker plays with
words, apparently innocent of the knowledge that but one man in ten
thousand is so gifted. With his remarkable vocabulary and poetic discriptive
powers he paints like a master. Scholarly, original sublime. Of the class
"Dangerous Americans" the demagogue was crowned king. As a whole he was thrown
into the air with elephantine like strength and as the political dissolute
decended to earth the orator caught him of the blade of his trochar all
bristling with superlatives, and he was analyzed in the absolute absence of
Mr. Wiggam has much of the voice of Thurston, and his
impassioned style and delivery resembles that of Beveridge.
After the oration there was much general sociability and at night time
the big crowd wended their way homeward to dream of Valley Forge, and
watched their great grandfathers as they kindled anew their campfires on fame's
eternal camping ground.
Article found in the Vernon
Journal, July 11, 1900.
THE SOUTHERN METHODIST
Methodist under the leadership of Rev. John Threlkeld met at Bland School House
and organized a church whose members were drawn largely from the ranks of
the old Scinto M.P. Church. This church was organized in 1877, but after two
years of more or less successful career, the pastor quit the field and moved to
Brown County, Indiana, where he died a few years later. The church never
procured another pastor and died with the moving away of Mr. Threlkeld.
PLAINS METHODIST E. CHURCH
Plains Church was
organized in September, 1909 and was a part of Butlerville Circuit. The original
members were Charles W. Miles, John F. Anderson and wife, C.H. Hoffman and wife,
J.J. Eger and wife, James Hood and wife, L.F. Giddings and wife, Luke Bland,
Lucy Hoffman, Arthur Miles, Mable Sullivan, Harrison Sullivan, Grace Miles,
Marie Giddings, Dessie Anderson, Ursula Anderson, Lorena Anderson, Pearl Krause
and Dora Krause. The Ladies Aid Society of Rabbit Plains had as officers:
President Lucy Hoffman, Vice-President Mrs. Eger, Secretary Mary B. Anderson and
Treasurer Mrs. Mary Miles.
This church flourished for several
years but in 1932 after a large number of its members had moved from the
neighborhood. Old Marble Church about two and one-half miles southeast of Rabbit
Plains was reorganized and given the time previously allotted to Rabbit Plains.
Pastors of Rabbit Plains: G.L. Conway, Jesse Denbo, R.I. Bostie, J.E. Cash, R.E.
Badger, L.M. Alexander, R.W. Mitchell, Roy A. Strum, Curtis Keck and W.F.
MEMORIES OF SAN JACINTO 1921-1935
In 1921, Dr. Wildman lived upon the hill with Katie, his wife.
He loved children. A few months before he passed away, he was confined to his bed,
but the children he used to go see, came to visit him. When they were afraid
to come up close and shake hands,he would, hold out his cane, and gently pull the
child up close with the curved end of the cane around their neck. No child ever
forgot that experience. The he shook hands, took the cane away and soon had
the child laughing. He was a very caring doctor.
owned a blacksmith shop. He liked children too, be he didn't want a horse to kick
them, so they had to stand outside to watch him shoe the horse with his hammer and
Tessie Stewart, his wife, did wallpapering for people in and around
San Jacinto. Her daughter, Mary, helped paste. With the high 12 foot ceilings,
Tessie climbed on a scaffold made of two ladders with wide boards to walk on and
literally ran across the room, holding the wallpaper up with a broom, as she
papered ceilings. It looked easy, but when unskilled people tried it, you could
end up with your head going through the wallpaper-paste and all.
Walter Beach lived across the street from the Stewarts. He drove a horse drawn
hack in 1923. It was two miles of gravel road, and nearly two miles of dirt
road-mud when it rained. After a thaw, the wheels sank so far in the mud, that
the horse couldn't pull the hack, so the children had to get out and
walk behind it for the rest of the way home. Walking in the mud was fun. There
was little traffic, so he often sang, "The Preacher and the Bear", so the
children wouldn't get bored and throw bean bags.
Coles lived on the
other side of the Stewarts. Pleanent "Ples" was janitor of the new "1916"
school, and he would check the thermometer every hour so the furnace
wouldn't get too hot or too cold. Later, Mrs. Cole was janitor with the
help of her daughter, Juanity, and son Bill, whom preferred playing
basketball-that he liked!
Maud Cole also had a library in her home,
where Pearl Huckelberry, the North Vernon librarian, brought new books all the
The house down from the Coles was owned by Charlie
Stewarts' parents and brother, Fred. A stile was built to go over the fence.
That ladder was very tempting to school children and so was the sink
hole-both forbidden territory. It was always a mystery where one would sink to,
but nearly every child ran down through it once and got out alive.
Charlie Holmes' father owned the store at that time. A pot belly stove was in
the back with chairs all around it. The neighborhood men always joked about the
women listening on the party line to get the news. Men never eavesdropped, but
they sure got the news around that pot belly stove, and it seemed to take an
hour to go buy a loaf of bread-or two hours, if the news was
After Mr. Holmes' death, the store was owned by Charlie
and Susie Holmes. Three items that they had in their store was not
grown on a farm: apricots (a luxury), candy suckers, and longhorn cheese. The
rag man brought bread and longhorn cheese and sat on the front porch of the
store, and made his sandwiches and ate them. The school children all but
starved, watching him eat that cheese.
Lenora Holmes had a beauty shop
in her home next to the store. People would walk a mile to get their hair cut
"shingle bob". She also had a hat shop. The hats were straw, sewed in circles.
One ten year old girl experimented on her hat to see how far it would punch up
in the center. It went up a foot-but it wouldn't come down-looked like a dunce
cap. Her mother was horrified.
Lenora Holmes also gave the first
permanents in her beauty shop. A few people had their own electricity, but
others had to wait for the rural electrification before they even had
running water in the house.
The buildings that are no longer there
are: Holmes' store, Holmes' house, Beaches' house, Coles' house, the blacksmith
shop and the 1916 schoolhouse. The buildings remaining are: James Stewart's
home, Charlie Stewart's home, the lodge building, and Dr. Wildman's home. Other
new homes have been built since then. The old iron bridge has been replaced and
there is still a mystery about that sink hole. It's gone!
How we came to Bigger Township, Winnie Gadd Vogel
Rueben and Nora Wilhoit were living in Bigger Township near Rush
Branch. Some time after that my father's brother, Nick Gadd, and family settled around
Butlerville. Our family, Raymond and Margaret Gadd and children; Winnie, June,
Ray Jr., Bill and Eva would come down on weekends and visit with Nick and his family
as well as the Wilhoits. In 1940 my father, Raymond Gadd bought a small farm near Ruch
This was a big change for us, as we moved from a modern home in
Covington, Kentucky, to the farm. Almost all of our neighbors had electricity, the line
stopped before it reached our place. So, we left all the comforts of our previous life,
to outdoor toilets, and aladdin lamps etc. It was a big change until we could get our
My little sister was born after we came to the farm and she was
named Zora Marie, after our two neighbor ladies, Zora Anderson and Marie Holmes.
Our life on the farm was happy. June and I would ride our bikes to San
Jacinto to attend the Busy Bees 4-H meetings. The whole family would attend the Farm
Bureau meetings at the school there. Eva and Bill, who were not old enough yet to go
to school, would get up and sing at these meetings. Everyone had a good time.
Dody Holmes was a good friend and we often were overnight guests at one
another's home. Evelyn Mills was our teacher and a real friend. June and I and Neva
Reece would visit her home and also spend the night many times. We also attended Graham
Baptist Church with Evelyn and Virgil.
I graduated form the eighth
grade at San Jacinto in 1943. Commencement exercises were very special, since
there wasn't a high shool at San Jacinto. All the pomp and ceremony that
the high school seniors experienced, the eighth graders had, complete with
corsages or boutonniers for all the class members.
I spent my
freshman year at Butlerville, and then we moved to North Vernon, where my dad
opened a John Deere store. My little sister Zora Marie, died in 1946 with
complications from chicken pox. I graduated from North Vernon High School in
1947. My mother, Margaret, will be 89 on her next birthday. Our family have fond
memories of Bigger Township.
This is an incident happened when we
lived Rush Branch. For some time after we moved to the farm, my dad worked
in Cincinnati and would just come home on the week ends. This particular week
end, my mother had been with my dad as she had taken my little sister to the
They were on the way home fairly late at night. Somewhere near
Butlerville, they encountered these people on the road who had car trouble. They
asked if there was a hotel, close, so my dad invited them home to our house. The
next morning, my mother served them a big country breakfast of ham, eggs, gravy,
etc. They enjoyed it so much they spent part of the day visiting us.
Who were our travelers? They were Sam Workman, his wife and little boy, Jane
Allen and Ramona Riggins. Ramona would later marry Grandpa Jones
of Grand Ole Opry fame. At the time they were on WLW radio as part of
Sunshine Sue and Rangers.
A real friendship formed and we kept in
touch with them over the years. Just a few years ago, Mother, myself and my
daughter and son-in-law, Debbie and Bob Matney and their children, Ben and
Cindy, went to Mountain view, Ark. where Ramona had the Grandpa
Jones Dinner Theater. We had an enjoyable time and spent some time
reminiscing about that long ago night. Guess you could call it "Bigger
Sugar Maple Syrup Time - Olin Estell
In preparation for making the maple syrup, we would make what you
call spiles, by cutting elderberry limbs about 10 inches long and taking out the
pith and tapering the large end and driving them into holes we drilled in the
maple trees. The sap would drip into buckets or lard cans or whatever we had to
catch the sap.
Late February and March is the time of the year when
the sap of the maple is rising. If it is cold enough at night to freeze the
tree some, the sap would drip much faster the next morning when it warmed
I remember my brother Harold, Dad and me going to the "Sugar
Camp", as it was called, to collect sap each morning. We would take it to
the little shed where we built a rock-walled trench, approximately 3 foot wide
and 12 foot long and 3 foot deep, we put it in pans and boiled the sap water. It
would take 40 or 50 gallons of sap water to make 1 gallon of syrup; which was
the best syrup you could find anywhere! It required a lot of work getting the
wood cut and taken to the shed and making a fire where we did the boiling of the
syrup, but it was worth it.
*NOTE: Logan Vinson also had a sugar camp
on the John Anderson property and made a lot of maple syrup. Opal Sullivan
Schuck and Shirley Vinson Wiley, had fond memories of riding the shed through
the snow to pick up the pails of syrup, when they were girls.
Estell is the son of Raymond and Amney Vinson Estell, grandson of Joe Estell and
George and Martha Frances Cox Vinson.
Effie Mae Hughes Lunsford recalls walking to the Rabbit Plains
School some 2 1/2 miles her first few years of school. The road was often flooded
in the draw below Roy Kinnears house. Roy would bring out his old mule and sit Effie
on and take her across the water and set her down on the other side, Effie said
"Roy was such a nice man." (Many have fond memories of Ray, too.)
It was during the depression when Effie went to Rabbit Plains and she remembers
one of the school children, who was very poor, coming up to her at noon and asking
if they could have her apple core after she had eaten her apple. Her mother and father
picked apples at the Sullivan orchard, so she had not only good things in her lunchbox,
but often apples. She says that after that, she never finished her apple to the
core but left some of the apple for the child. Memories of that great depression
still lives in many persons today.
Loyd Sawyer Money relates that
the Sawyer family came from Kentucky to Lancaster in Jefferson County. Her
great-grandfather, Nathaniel Sawyer, came to Bigger Township by following a
blazed trail through "the woods". He must have settled where her grandfather,
John H. Sawyer was born and raised, near Rabbit Plains. John H. married
Catherine Jordan. They were married June 11, 1865 by Graham Baptist minister,
J.M. Cox. Her father Edward Walter Sawyer, born in 1870, married Ruth Anna
Van Cleave also of Bigger Township. He died in 1956 at the age of 86. Loyd's
granddaughter and Walter's great-grandaughter is Judy Ann Cooper (Mrs. Donald
Cooper) now lives in Bigger Township north of Rush Branch Church. She is one of
the decendants of the early settlers that live in Bigger.
and his family can also trace his mother's (Ethel Johnson Morris) family back to
the early settlers. He lives in the Rabbit Plains area where Ethel's family, the
Johnsons and Merrils settled. Another resident who actually lives today where
his ancestors came in the 1870's, is Vernon Brooks, Jr. The Benniah Falls were
From Paul Robbins Book
Our pioneer ancestors crossed the Ohio River at Vevay or Madison and followed a road
or trail to Vernon where there was a small settlement, thence north to Decatur
County or to northern Jennings County along the Sand Creek.
It is said
that by 1840 there was a Robbins family or one related by blood or marriage to
them from the Jennings County line to within two miles of Greensburg. The trail
laid out by these pioneers from Kentucky named Robbins, was traversed by
practically all travellers between 1820 and 1840.
great-grandparents were Thomas and Matilda Robbins, married in Scott County,
Indiana in May, 1825. Also Phillip and Caroline Hartwell, married in Jennings
County in May, 1833.
My paternal grandfather, Amasa Robbins, was born
in Jennings County, Indiana in 1841 and died in 1905. Grandma was Mariah
Heartwell Robbins, born in Jennings County in 1844 and died in May 1909. Grandma
and Grandpa Robbins are buried side by side in Graham Church Cemetery near San
Jacinto in Jennings County.
Both my paternal grandparents died long
before I was born. I have never seen a picture of them. My dad or "Pop" as he
was called by one and all never talked much about his ancestors, so my story
about them will be short and sketchy.
Amasa and Mariah raised ten
children and they were named as follows: John Eldo or "Dode", George, Phillip,
Amsey, Oliver, Scott and girls Alzora or "Allie", Minnie Janie and
Amasa and his family were intelligent hard working, hard living
pioneer people with little or no education. Grandpa didn't see a need for "book
learnin" so only two of his ten children ever went to school. However, they had
lots of smarts when it came to using the tools of the day, or felling a tree or
plowing a straight furrow, etc. They wern't much on religion or going to church
but their word was as good as gold. Yes, they were smart honest people but
with some very rough edges.
Mostly the children when grown, at least
initially, settled in the Needmore Community and became subsistance farmers,
primarily producing for family use, and they harvested timber or worked off the
Memories of a Store-Keeper's Daughter
The store known as "Holmes Store" in San Jacinto was our
life while I was growing up! Everything was centered around it. My Dad, Charles
Holmes, did hauling for a living and was still living at home, so was able to
help his father, William Edward Holmes, with things around the store, too.
One story I remember Dad telling was about the time he had to go down to
Madison, Indiana to pick up some things with his truck. He took Walter Beach
along and the brakes were doing something not quite right. They stopped at the
top of Madison Hill (hanging rock hill, we called it) and Walter picked up a big
old piece of wood. Dad drove down the hill as slow as he could, in low gear, and
Walter ran along side with the piece of wood. Several times he used it to slow
down the truck a little. Then when they got near the bottom, Dad forgot about
Walter, and he just let it roll. He crossed the bridge at the bottom before he
remembered Walter and waited on him. They really enjoyed telling this story.
Grandmother Holmes died on Christmas Day of 1928 and Grandfather's health was
not good, so my Dad took over the store. He and Mother were married Jan. 12,
1929, after having dated for seven years off and on. When his Father passed on,
he was able to purchase the property from others in his family.
Dad kept long hours, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and meals were whenever he could lock
up long enough to come to the house and grab a bite. Folks came to the door if
he was there very long. Back then the store sold feed, seeds, bolts, hardware of
all sorts, gasoline and kerosene, and of course groceries. The store was heated
with a coal stove In the back and at times during bad weather the stove would be
encircled with men sitting on nail kegs as they swapped news and tales of all
sorts. Even though there was an old spittoon, they would open the stove door and
spit their tobacco juice into stove. It was pretty gross to a young girl!
He bought and sold eggs, chickens and Mother's tested cream. At an early age
I learned to candle eggs and find the bad ones. Dry beans of several sorts were
in boxes in a row along the floor with a large scoop to put them into a paper
bag. Bushel baskets leaned against the front counter with onions, potatoes,
apples in them. What we called butcher paper was on a big roll to wrap meat,
etc. in. The only meat he had when I was young was cured meat. Later on he
purchased a used Kelvinator refrigerator that ran on kerosene and even later a
meat case for fresh meats.
It was fun growing up in Cinto for whenever parents came to shop, or do their
trading, kids would come along to play in our yard. Whenever the weather was
bad, Mother would always be ready to bring out a game of some sort and we kids
would sit around the kitchen table. She taught all of us how to play Flinch,
Rook, Gin Rummy, Checkers, Parcheesi – you name it we played it! The Losey
family lived above the store and they were like family because we were together
Dad had a big "bread box" on the store porch with a sloped metal lid and
everyone loved to perch there. Every Halloween the bread box ended up on top of
the boy's restroom over at San Jacinto school. The next morning as the buses
were coming in and high school kids would be hanging out on the front porch of
the store. Dad would come out and say "Okay, boys – go get the bread box for
me". Probably the same ones who'd toted it over there may have it carried it
One year at Halloween, Ross Demarees farm wagon was taken apart and then
reassembled atop the Cinto bridge. Can you imagine that feat being accomplished
during the night hours? It made for quite a sight the next morning! There was
always what seemed to me to be a big garden between the house and the store.
Charley Stewart or Walter Beach would plow it with their horses or mules, in
Walter's case, and disc it. Mother always had a row of gladiolas out by the
When Jefferson Proving Ground went in, it took away many of Dad's regular
customers and many of my young friends.
We kids all loved to help (?) Mr. Beach farm! He'd let us ride on the two
mules and we especially liked the ride into the barn on top of the hay. When
Conrad Hughes was Sheriff, someone stole his Sheriff's car. The same night my
Dad found tire tracks and rings from milk cans in the sandy area around the gas
pumps. Of course he called the Sheriff’s office. Conrad had someone bring him
out to investigate the robbery and learned that the tire tracks were his. I
believe his car was found in the Ohio River.
The only time the store was ever closed was on Sunday afternoon when we would
take a ride or for a funeral for a family member.
The floors in the store always had place where it squeaked, and we kids
thought that was why Dad oiled the floor. Later we learned it was to keep the
Dad closed the store in late summer, 1966. Later they sold the house and
moved to Grayford Road near Highway 7 in September, 1967, where my Mother lived
until her death of April of 1991. Dad passed away July 30, 1969. It was a great
place to grow up there in San Jacinto.
Written by: Edora Ann (Dody) Holmes Horstman
A JOURNAL OF CHILDHOOD MEMORIES
As we journey through
life there are some days that become true blessings, days we will always
cherish. Friday May, 19, 1995, was that kind of day. Many times I had told
our daughters; Linda, Mary Ann, Patty and Anita, that I wanted to take a
"Sentimental Journey" down to Jennings County. I wanted to share my childhood
I was born July 20, 1925, in Bigger Township,
Jennings County, Indiana, and lived there until September 1, 1935. I was ten
years old and ready to enter the sixth grade of school when we moved to Decatur
County. That was a real big change in my life.
Our daughters had
never been to the places which were my life as a young child. I wanted them to
see and know where my "roots" were. Even though our earthly possessions
were humble and meager, my five sisters and I had a happy time growing up
together. We were "Depression" kids. Our childhood games were simple and
our toys, ets., were few but I have fond memories of these early years of my
We traveled in Patty's van so we could enjoy the fun of
conversation about our stops along the way. Going down Indiana &, through
North Vernon and Vernon, we turned on to Grayford Road and drove past the place
where Mary, our oldest sister, and James Hoyt had lived nearly all their married
We drove to San Jacinto, a tiny little villiage where San
Jacinto School was located. The building has very recently been torn down but
the foundation and steps still remain, along with a goodly number of bricks. Pat
and I captured a "souvenir brick".
Memories of the first four years of my
formal education came quickly back-the big tree still standing where we played
house with our dolls. Charlie Holmes' store across the road where the rare
purchase of a penny candy was a real treat.; the big sink hole which we little
kids dared not go near. It was no longer there but it's vivid memory will be in
my mind. The horse drawn school hacks were still used in the first years of my
school. Names of my first school friends came to mind and Pat and I wondered
where they were in 1995. That school building seemed so big and awsome in 1931
when I was a shy first grader.
Loyd Moore was my First Grade
teacher and the house where she lived still stands on the hill above the school.
She was a wonderful teacher, still living today and her warm, loving concern for
each one of us did great things in starting us on the journey of life at age 6.
She invited me to stay at her home overnight when I won the Spelling Bee one
year. She took me to the county Spelling Bee in North Vernon and that was a
Mrs. Moore taught First and Second Grade and
she would let me do the Second Grade class work when my First Grade work was
done. At the end of that year she told my parents that I didn't need to go
through Second Grade. Thus I was placed in Third Grade in my second year of
school. Mrs. Pearl Mills was my teacher and she, too, was an excellent teacher.
The girls in the Third Grade didn't too kindly to my being in their class after
only one year and I remember that they wouldn't let me play with them. I really
didn't understand that at age 7. So most of my school friends were a year behind
me through Grades 3, 4 and 5.
The school had all 12 grades and
since I am the fourth of the six daughters. I always had my older sisters close
by if I needed them. As we walked about the area, I reached far back into my
first school years, pulling memories that had been tucked away for many years.
What fun it was to share them with our daughters!
Our next stop
was the Graham Baptist CHurch, about a mile from San Jacinto. This little church
is still active and doing a good job of sharing the "Good News of Jesus' love".
It was in this church where I first learned the song "Jesus Loves Me" and other
stories of the loving God who gave me life. It was where I first stood before
the congregation and said my "Childrens Day" piece. My dress was made of pongee
with blue french knots embrodered around the neck. I was very
I remember that baptisms were held in Graham Creek which
runs behind the church. As we walked through the church cemetery, we remembered
family names of our neighbors who now rest eternally with God. We would walk to
Sunday School down the hill from our home and across the field to the road where
the church was located.
It was quite a long walk for a
little kid like me but I looked forward to going with great anticipation.
Occasionally one of our neighbors, Laura Hughes and her daughter, Effie Mae,
would invite us to have dinner with them after church. That was very
We left the church and drove the narrow conunty road
about two and a half miles to "Springdale". the 40 acre farm where we were born.
The house my father built still stands today. It has been added on to but the
present owner was in process of changing the structure so we could see the
original frame lines. The house was four rooms, two upstairs and two downstairs.
(Imagine my parents and six children living in such a small
The springhouse which my father built still stands
below the hill. Anita went over to it (through the heavy weeds) and the
cement troughs inside are still intact. The cold spring water was piped to run
through troughs and that provided a fine place to keep the milk and butter cold
in the summertime. Before each meal we would go down to the springhouse and
bring those things to the table to eat.
What fun it was to swing
out over the hill above the springhouse on those long grapevines. It was a great
place to build childhood memories. Five or six of us sisters were born in
that little house at Springdale where we lived till I was about five years
Depression years were setting into the nation and farming
was bad. We moved from Springdale to the house where my Grandmoter and
Grandfather Tatem lived, about two miles away.
One more memory
of Springdale, across the road from us stood the house where my Grandmother and
Grandfather Richey lived when they came from Milroy to Jennings County in 1914.
That was where our Mother lived when she and my father met. They were
married in December, 1915. The house still stands today.
the way to Grandfather Tatem's farm, we passed the house where Mother and Daddy
lived when our oldest sister Mary, was born. It was always known as the
A woods stood right next to our house and our
yard was always shady. We never had grass in the yard to mow. In fact, we swept
the yard with a broom to tidy it up. There was a big oak tree near the front
porch where I spent many hours playing. There were areas between the tree roots
where I would dig the dirt out and make imaginary swimming pools for my dolls. I
loved that tree. I also remember the big two seated swing that stood on the
front porch. That was also a fun place to play.
We had great
times playing in the woods. We would give shows using large tree stumps for a
stage. I can remember my sister Verna dancing the Charleston on our favorite
stump. We always had a play house somewhere in the shed or barn in the summer.
It was good childhood fun and didn't cost anything.
of my Tatem Grandparents were formed here. Grandpa Tatem was a very forceful
person. He would sit by the lane and we kids had to chase the chickens out of
the cornfield on the other side of the lane. Grandpa Tatem's death occurred in
1934 while we were living there. The funeral was at home and I thought I had
never seen so many people as they came that day. My Grandma Tatem was a slim,
little lady and always was gentle and loving to us. She was very special to me.
She would save corn on the cob for me from their noon meal and I thought that
was so-o-o good. Even Cold!
We would walk across the fields to
visit our friends. I especially loved to go to the neighborhood library which
was about two miles away. Ida Hoffman was the librarian and she had the library
in the front room of her home. I loved to read and remember making many trips to
her home to get books.
Our nearest neighbors at Grandpa's place
were an older couple, Edison and Anna Elliot. They will always have a special
place in my memories. We would sometime walk over to their place after supper in
the evening. In summer we would play croquet and in the winter we would play
Rook. What fun that was! Their grandson now lives in their
It really was a long walk to Graham Baptist Church from
Grandpa's place, so we went to Dupont Methodist Church most of the time. A good
friend, Mary Anderson, would pick us up in her car and take us to Dupont. There
were times we didn’t have a ride and we would walk to Dupont. There is a pretty
little stream on the way near the "French" place where Grandma Tatem was born.
We would stop at the bridge and throw stones in the creek on our walk home from
Leaving Grandpa Tatem's farm, we traveled the familiar
road to Dupont. We stopped for a picture break at a little stream and Peter
threw some stones in the little creek. (Like Grandma – Like Grandson.) I
remember the days in the early 1930s when we would sometimes travel that same
road in the wagon drawn by horses. Each place along the way had its own special
memory about the people who lived there at that time. How I enjoyed sharing
those memories with our daughters.
The little village of Dupont
still has many places that Pat and I could identify with, the store building
right in the heart of town which was then Manning Rea's General Store. The
building has been kept up and still houses a store. As a child I thought there
was nothing that could not be purchased at that store. We would take cream and
eggs to Lottie "Tot" Lockman's cream station. Sometimes we would stay there
while Mother and Daddy did the buying at Rea's store. Of course, in the 1930
Depression years, precious little was bought anywhere.
a fun place called The Railroad Inn on the Main Street just down from the bank.
It was good for a refreshment break of ice cream, pie and cake. It is located in
an old house and even though it was kind of a new in the town, it fit in well
with our memories of the place. We walked a short distance down the street to
the Methodist Church we had attended. It remains about the same in outward
appearance. We took pictures there before continuing on.
short distance down the street is Dupont School where my father received his
formal education. He played in the Dupont School Band and the clarinet he played
was still in his possession when we were grown kids. He would play it
We drove south on Indiana 7 to the Dupont
Cemetery where Grandma and Grandpa Tatem were buried. We located their graves
(very near the hill at the south end of the old cemetery which is on the right
side of "7"). Grandma’s death occurred in 1941, six years after we left Jennings
County and moved to Greensburg. I well remember the times she would come to
Greensburg to visit us for a week or so. They were special days for
It was time for us to turn back north and so we drove back
through Dupont, taking a different road out. Pat commented that the area we were
driving through was "No Man’s Land" when we were children. We seldom drove that
road out of Dupont and so we knew very little about the people who lived along
it. It was very close to Grandpa’s farm but our traveled world was very small
then. We were soon back to the Jennings-Jefferson County line road and about
one-half mile from our home so were back again to familiar childhood territory.
Before we continue on, I want to share one more memory which
left a "burning" impression on me. It was St. Patrick's Day and a very windy
one. A fire had been started on the Wilson Smart place which was just a short
distance down the Jennings-Jefferson road from our place but across the road.
That gusty March wind carried that fire across the road, the fields, and nearly
right to our door. It burned in our woods right next to our house. I remember
that they plowed a furrow around our house to keep the fire from burning it up.
It burned in our woods and in the strawstack for a long time. I also remember
them calling the CCC boys to come help fight it. that day certainly made a
frightening experience stay with me for a long time.
the Jennings-Jefferson county line road, we continued on to the corner which
took us to the Rabbit Plains School location. This was the little school where
my older sisters started to school. They would walk there from our home at
Springdale, mud roads and all. The Annual Rabbit Plains reunion was an event we
all looked forward to with great anticipation. Cracker-jack with a prize in each
box (even back then), ice cream cones, playing with friends! What more could a
child ask for! The reunion was held for many years after the school was closed
and the building became a residence.
Just a very short distance
farther was the home of Ed and Pearl Heid who owned large apple orchards.
Sometimes Verna and I were invited to come play with their daughter, Pauline.
Their house was so big that we thought of it as a mansion. (They even had an
indoor bathroom.) The Jefferson Proving Ground starts at that point now but, of
course, that all came about during World War II after we had moved from Jennings
We retraced our route back past Graham Church, through
San Jacinto and from there drove through Butlerville, Nebraska, Holton and home.
We remembered how the trainmen used to wave to us as we drove along US 50
through Nebraska when we would go to Jennings County to visit and return home.
They made us feel real important as children.
Memories—Memories! What a great day it was as Pat and I reconstructed memories
of our childhood. It was only about 40 miles away. So close to our home now yet
so far away when we were children.
It has been 60 years since
we moved from Jennings County to Decatur County in 1935. Dale and I have been
married nearly 48 years. Linda is nearly 46, Mary Ann nearly 44, Patty 39 and
Anita 33. Thanks to the four of them, I was treated to the joy of sharing a bit
of my early childhood with our daughters. It was something I had wanted very
much to do for a long time. AND WE FINALLY DID IT!
Evelyn Tatem Lange
A P.S. Memory—As Patty read the story she commented that I had not included
the memory of Bright Hills. So, this is the Bright Hills story
The Bright Hills is a dense wooded area about one half mile from our
childhood home at Springdale. It was no doubt named for the beauty of its fall
foliage. However, as a child I remember it was a place I never wanted to get
close to. We believed it was place where "outlaws" and such people would go to
hide out. If you got in there, you would never, ever get out. Bright but
forbidden and so close to home! To be sure, we never walked to the Bright Hills.
It still remains a densely wooded area. I wonder if the children who now live in
that community know about the "Horrors of the Bright Hills!"
TOLD TO PAULINE SCHWARZ BY HER MOTHER, PEARL HEID
my great-grandmother, came from Pennsylvania in a covered wagon as a very small
child (never traveled farther than a half mile from where she originally
settled.) Settled in the Logan Vincent log cabin in Bigger Township. She married
Benjamin Fewell and had seven children: Ben, George, Philip, Albert, Sarah, Mary
(Molly) and Lucy. All born in log cabin. After the seven children were married,
they build a nice frame home across the branch on the public road (log cabin was
back in the field). Albert lived in new house with his mother since his
brother and sister said he could have the farm if he take care of
Albert then married Eda Stanley and they had seven
children: Florence, Pearl, Ernest, Frank, Wella, Earl, Loyd and George. Eda was
teaching school when she got married in February (4 months of school). She
walked from her mother's home (Judith Ann Blackburn Stanley) to a small school
(Benville School which was 3 miles each way), Eda's education--8th grade at
Butlerville where he boarded in a private home. Then she continued for 6 weeks
training "normal school" at Butlerville. Then had taught one term 4-5 months
when she got married. Stanleys were Quakers they lived near a creek on road to
San Jacinto on the (Mansion-Welch place) there was a stairway which was
carpeted, a balcony upstairs, parlor, living roon, 4 bedrooms upstairs, 1
bedroom down. The parlor was where the 7 girls entered their gentleman
friends. The living room was where the family sat.
There were 7
girls and 1 boy in the family of John M. Stanley and Judith Ann Blackburn
Stanley: Vina, Mary, Rosa, Emma, Eda, Liby, Lucy and Henry. Aunt Vina adopted
"my Aunt Emma Heid."
AUNT EMMA HEID
Judith Ann Blackburn Stanley left her 8
children and went to Chicago because her oldest daughter, Vina way dying. Vina
had previously adoped a baby, one of twin girls. My Aunt Emma Heid passed her
off as her own child. She made Judith Stanley (her mother ) believe that Emma
was her own child. When Vina died Judith brought the 2 year old child home to
the Stanley farm where she was accepted and loved by everyone. She was accepted
as part of the family and received equal inheritance.
Emma's adopted parents names were Vina and Patrick Donah. Father bought and sent
expensive gifts. Then bought small farm with log cabin which he fixed up (Vinson
farm up creek). He then insisted that Emma come live with him. She did not like
to leave the home and live in the log cabin. She was 18 years old. One day her
"Father", got mad at her and blurted out the entire story - that she was adopted
- except he did not tell her she had a twin sister. This she learned when she
was 40 years old. The twin sister's adopted mother told her about Emma and she
was able to locate her. The sister was identical and had had a beautiful
Judith Ann Blackburn Stanley came from northern
Ohio, the great lake region and settled in Bigger Township. The Nixon
family came frim the same area if Ohio and settled in Bigger Township, about a
mile - as the crow flies - 4 miles around the road.
MEMORIES OF ZOE SHULL
Zoe Holmes Shull, 97 of McAllen Texas,
writes of being a young girl when her father, Will, moved her family to San
Jacinto to open a general store (they moved to San Jacinto about 1911.) She
remembers her sister, Lenora Holmes, her cousins, Violet and Martha Furguson,
Monta Beach, Mary Stewart and her along with Edison Stark (to carry the lantern)
walking to Graham's Sunday night services. Later when she started dating, she
and her date would drive the horse and buggy to services. They would hitch the
horse to the hitching rack and Zoe says, "Mr. Fall was so nice, he would open
the windows way up so we could hear the sermon," she said, "The reason
they sat in the buggy, and listened to the sermon was that the women went in the
left door and the men went in the right door and that was how they were seated
way back then. So we sat in the buggy. Do you blame us?
The lights were on
and there was no harm going on." (Could this have been the first drive-in
church?) She went on to say that she always has a warm feeling of "home" when
she thinks of Cinto.
BUTCHERING and SORGHUM MAKING in BIGGER TOWNSHIP
Charles and Hazel
Fall Vinson were my partents. Dad was the son of Mr. & Mrs. W. C. Vinson and
were Wm. & Agnes Ulrey Fall. There were six of us
children: Agnes, Mable, Craigg, Herschel, Robert & Jennette (called Jetty
Dad was a farmer, but did butchering and made sorghum to
make a bit more money. He fixed up a slaughter house on our place where he
butchered for people, rending the lard and made sausage. He went to the
customers farms when he slaughtered cows. Some folks did not want the heart or
the liver, and would give these to Dad. We often had fresh liver or heart in the
wnter. So we all learned to like liver!
Making sorgum was
different, and Mom had to help. Cane was planted in the spring during planting
time. They usually
mixed the seed with fertilizer and put it in fertilizer
boxes on the corn planter; then they planted it in rows as you would corn. It
was also cultivated to keep out the weeds. In late summer or early fall, when it
was ripe, but before a frost, it was harvested.
Frosted cane made black, bad
tasting sorghum. The cane was cut with a corn knife. The leaves were stripped
and the seed heads were cut off. Now it was ready to take to the
My first memory of sorghum making was when I was about six
years old, at the old Vinson farm about three miles east of Freedom Church in
Vernon Township. The mill was two large round rollers spaced, almost touching
each other; much like the old washing machine wringers, except they were on end.
Dad had a pole with a horse hitched to the far end of it. The horse
walked round and round to turn the rollers. I don't remember the connection
that was made to turn the rollers. The cane was fed between the rollers and the
juice from the cane ran down a pipe to the cooker. Many may remember the
juice from a cane stalk.
The mill we had in Bigger Township was
at our farm about a mile east of San Jacinto. It was turned by an old auto
motor, I think it was a Chevy. The pan the juice ran into and was cooked
down in, had six compartments. Each one was about three feet long, 18
inches wide and 6 inches high. Each of the six had a small opening about
3 inches wide that connected it to the next compartment. White flour sacks
were used to plug these holes until the juice was cooked down enough to move it
to the next compartment. This was done until they moved it to the last
Dad made a paddle on the end of an old broomstick, with a
strip of cloth on the bottom edge to push the juice from one pan to the next. He
also made a skimmer about the size of a dust pan, with screen wire on the
bottom, to skim the green off the first three pans (I called it scum) as it
cooked. As the juice cooked and thickened, it was pushed down from one
compartment to another until it was finally of the right consistency. The syrup
was then drained off into the containers the customers provided. Dad often
took syrup as part payment, if it was of good quality.
cooker set on a foundation, and the end where the first juice pan was located
was open. That was where the fire was, and it was the hottest there. At
the far end of the foundation was a smoke pipe. From the front end to the
back end was like turning down the heat; a little lower under each compartment,
so the syrup would not stick and scorch as it cooked. My dad was very good at
making a good quality sorghum and was noted for this mill. It sure smelled good
and tasted even better.
I remember how hot it was inside that
cooking shed. What with the heat of the fire, the steam from the slow
cooking molasses and the smoke from the wood, it made an exacting job even
harder. Dad would sometimes put sweet potatoes in the ashes to bake and we had
them for supper. Or if the last batch was late coming off, Dad would give
them to the boys to eat. No salt or butter, but they seemed to enjoy them!
HUMOROUS BUT TRUE
Two stories told by Tom Welch! Tom's dad,
William Welch, ran a threshing machine. One summer a young man took a job on his
threshing crew, and stayed at the Welch's. The crew were all on hand to
work, but a rain came up. The men came in the barn wondering what to do. The new
worker said, "Guess we'll just have to do what they do in Texas." "What's
that?" asked Lester Sullivan who everyone knew had just moved back from Texas.
"Why, jest let it rain." the man answered.
Another time a group
of men were in the Welch barn, during one of those 'working' days, and Ora
Perkins was rolling a cigarette. A young man, Ed (Skeeter) Fry, asked him for
his sack of tobacco, as Skeeter already had papers "Are you 21?" asked Ora.
Skeeter replied, "I guess so, I've been cured of the 7 year itch, 3
Former resident Jim Fry of Zionsville, related, that his
uncle. Carey Fry only knew two words to work his team. They were both
explitives. But when he really got mad he called them "Hitler".
Bigger Township native, Willard Peterson, had a slow drawl and a dry wit. His
grandson, Bennie Peterson, lived with his grandparents and had a good job at
Cummins. Bennie, a bachelor, purchased two brand new cars, a gold one in 1973
and a blue one in 1976. A visitor to the Peterson home in Talking with Willard,
asked if Bennie was going to sell one of the cars. "Naw," drawled Willard,
"Bennie just can't stand prosperity."
Bennie also recalls
another of his grandpa's sayings. Bennie did a lot of work on the new Graham
Cemetery, using his own money to pay for bulldozing etc. The cemetery
was to pay him back, when they could afford it. Willard a couple of men and Jim
Dixon were watching the bulldozing operation. Jim remarked to Willard that he
understood Bennie was paying for all that. Willard answered " Bennie, Jack
operates like a millionaire on a 10 cent income."
following is a direct quote from Paul Robbins book, "A Boy From Needmore", about
his uncle a Bigger Township native. "One of my favorite stories about Uncle Dode
concerns the time he dropped a quarter through the hole in the privy. He took a
new $5 bill from his billfold, folded it tightly into a small rectangle and
dropped it beside the quarter. Later, someone asked him, "Dode, why did you drop
the $5 into the toilet?" His reply, "Dammed if I was going down into that mess
for just a quarter.
The ladies of Bigger Township were
unflappable! Oldsters still chuckle about the lady soloist singing in the local
church, when her slip fell to her ankles. Without missing a beat, she bent down,
stepped out of it, folded it on her arm and continued the
Noah and Verna Tatum More moved from North Vernon to
Verna's old homeplace near Rabbit Plains, in 1935. They had a large family, and
the older boys were thrilled to live in the country, for they were avid hunters.
They often killed wild game and supplied meat for the family. Verna's ony
requirement was they must dress what they killed and have it ready. One day they
decided to play a trick on their mother, and killed and dressed a young coon and
laid it among the rabbits they had prepared. Verna did not catch on until she
cooked it. Good sport that she was, she did not punish the boys or even brawl
them out. But one more requirement she made, ever after they would leave one
foot on the game. We remember Verna laughing her infectious belly laugh, as she
related this tale to her woman friends.
Cassius M. Silver had an
old 1928 or 29 pick up truck, with solid rubber tires. He went to get his
license and had to take a drivers test. The instructor told him to speed it up
to 20 m.p.h. "Gosh Dings, I never drive that fast." replied
Charley Miles won many elections, and was used to
winning, but one time he lost. When told of the fact that he had been defeated,
he exclaimed, "OH MY GOODNESS, what will the people think?"
olden days, wells had to be cleaned for drinking water. Will Shuck, grandfather
of Opal Sullivan Shuck, told of climbing down in the well to clean it. A boy at
the top of the well was to pull the bucket up, after Will had scooped it full of
ricks, mud, dead anything, and more mud and toads. When the boy pulled the
bucket up with a rope he yelled down. "What do I do with it!" Will yelled back
"Dump it!" He dumped it! Back into the well on Will's head-mud, toads and
Sam Lemmon ran the school hack from Rush Branch. It was
really a wagon with benches put in it. Some jokesters changed his wheels,
putting the front wheels in back and vice versa. Poor Sam, who was getting up in
years, couldn't understand why his wagon always seemed to be going
Did you ever hear of going to church to shoot craps?
When Graham had long protracted meetings, people came from far and near.
Everyone went to church as nothing else was going on. A group of young men took
a blanket and spread it on the ground, so they could see the lamplight in the
church and proceeded to shoot craps. It drove the sexton, Clarence Forward,
crazy as everytime he tried to catch them, the blanket and fellows
One-Room Schools in Bigger Township were Fairview (Blandtown), Buzzard
Roost, Crooked Creek, Maple Grove, Rabbit Plains, Rush Branch, Victor, Walnut
Grove, San Jacinto, School of Color.
In the early days, children went
to school for a few months. It is not certain when the schools were organized in
Bigger Township but a few records were found, and it seems there were two
or three in the late 1830's and 1840's.
There were ten one-room
schools in Bigger Township at one time. The only one that is not located is
School No. 6. However, it is believed to be in Section 16, which was know as
School Section 16, School taxes were managed by the school district trustees and
paid by each qualified voter according to his wealth.
The record for
School Section 16 started August 24, 1837 with a list of names of inhabitants
entitled to vote with the number of children. The
inhabitants for Section 16 mentioned were Armstrong, Andersons,
Mosley, Torbet, Brown, McLoughlin, Hughes, Bingaman and Agon.
28, 1844, a document mentions that John M. Vallilee was teacher, other teachers
mentioned were David King, Averilla Barnes and in 1878, Carrie Hole was the
To get to school, children went through woods,
climbed fences, crossed branches on fallen logs, waded through the snow and
also walked two or three miles.
The books used were
McGuffey's spellers, McGuffey's readers, Ray's arithmetic, Pinneo's grammer
and 'spencerian system in
It would be rewarding to have the names of all the
teachers of Bigger Township, but at this point it is almost an
impossibility. However, there are several names that have been
For instance in 1878-79, there is a
District 1 - Collins
District 2 - Perry
District 3 -
District 4 - Lewis I.
5 - J.N.
6 - Carrie
District 7 - Wm.
District 8 - Ester B.
District 9 - Thomas
Rabbit Plains teachers: Salle Trusdale, Ursula Shuck, Collins Wildman
San Jacinto District: Samuel Whinery, Juliet Onson, Jennie Vawter, John
Laymon, Mary Anson, Brack
J.S. Baily, Frank Bundy, Ibbie Woolman, Becca Heid, Lester
Old Sinto: Alonzo G. Smith, A.D. Stephenson, Jim
Fair View: Major Ransdel, Tom Batchelor, Agnes Dolan, Mary Richardson,
Alice Bundy and L.T. and
White Hall now Victory: Y.J. Little, Emma Bell, Leland Shuck and Ella
Buzzard Roost: John Spencer, Josephine Russell, Minnie Nauer, Mary Anson,
Jennie Conboy, Isabelle Callicott
more. (Buzzard Roost and Crooked Creek schools were
Rush Branch: Thomas Conboy, then followed Frank Bundy, Pleasant Cole,
Jennie Williams, Garfied Hopkins,
Emma Brown, Leland Shuck, Mary Ansom, Nell Schlottman and many others
and still going
No. of school buildings in township -
No. of school dwellings not in use -
No. of teachers employed -
Benville was locted on the county line three miles east of
Rush Branch (Hyde) and was surrounded by farms and comfortable homes. E.
R. Burton dispensed general merchandise and bought country produce. Ed. Semon
was a general blacksmith. Joseph Ralston and son were sawmillers and also
operated threshing machines, a corn shredder and a clover huller. U.E. Smith was
a contractor and builder and also raised barns for other carpenter throughout
Not much is known about the school at Benville, but there
is one native of Bigger Township who began teaching at Benville in 1899. Mrs.
Lorena Bailey Waggoner was born, April 19, 1879, on a farm in Bigger Township,
near Graham Baptist Church.
She was a member of this church for many
years. After attending local schools, Mrs. Waggoner attended Danville Teacher
College and received her license to teach elementary school. In 1899, she began
teaching at Benville Elementary School. Later she taught at Maple Grove School,
also in Bigger Township.
She lived to be over 100 years of age.
BLANDTOWN SCHOOL - FAIRVIEW
Blandtown was an early settlement which
was located in the eastern part of Bigger Township. The land was taken by
the Jefferson Proving Ground in 1940.
Blandtown school burned and was
replaced by Fairview. The school was a one room wooden frame. After the
school closed they still had Sunday School and Christmas programs. It is said
Mr. McDonald made the perfect Santa in 1919.
The last teacher, Ethel
Shuck, got to keep the last flag with 46 stars. Several of the teachers known
were Major Ransdel, Tom Batchelor, Agnes Dolan, Mary Richardson, Alice Bundy,
L.T. Cox, Jessie Cox, Ethel Shuck and Dessie Anderson.
Methodist under the leadership of Rev. John Threlkeld met at Bland School House
and organized a church whose members were drawn largely from the ranks of the
old Cinto M.E. Chuch. This church was organized in 1877 but after two years of
more or less successful career, the pastor quit the field and moved to Brown
County, Indiana, where he died a few years later. The church never procured
another pastor and died with the moving away of Mr. Threlkeld.
CROOKED CREEK and BUZZARD ROOST SCHOOL
Crooked Creek School was
between the Heid Farm and Ed Fields, in northwest Bigger Township. As they
approached the school, the children had to climb a very steep hill which was
called the "Hill of Difficulty". The school house in 1853 was an old
delapidated frame, weather-boarded on the outside, sealed with boards in the
inside. Seats or benches were made of thick planks, two or three inches thick
and 12 feet long. A big rusty iron stove was in the center of the room and
usually one bench with a back and shorter benches were put around it so the
children could get warm, some who attended were: Miles Bundy, Henry Hickman,
Ezra Woolman, Will Boyd, and T.J. Little. The old house was discarded in 1862. A
new one to thake its place was built in 1863 on or near the John W. Morris place
and it was called Crooked Creek.
After a number of years, Crooked
Creek and Buzzard Roost, which was in the northern part of the township were
consolidated. Some who taught in the new school were Jesse Grinstead, Joe
Batcheler, Joe Bailey, Eliza Brown, Mr. Willoughby, Jennie Conboy, Lewis
Huckelberry, Thomas Conboy and many others.
After Rush Branch was
built at the crossroads, that was the end of Crooked Creek District.
Long before the other schools, there was a school
called Maple Grove. It was then the Hughes District. It was located on the Ed
Hendricks farm. The school house was made of hewed logs and had a big fireplace
six feet wide. In 1852, Milton Willoughby was the teacher and was remembered for
the way he disciplined. The next teacher was William D. Nichols in 1853. A few
others were Henry Batchelor, James Craig and David Watson. The old house burned
in 1895 and another was built on the same spot. Tom Jordon taught 28 days in the
In 1896, the school site was moved about one-fourth mile
south on the Riley Callicott farm. Later there were many other teachers -
Ethel Shuck and Lloyd Sawyer were two of
At one time Needmore was a thriving community with 2 stores,
20 to 30 families, and a school which was also called Maple
By Paul R.
The Needmore School was built in
so now a hundred years have passed since it first
Grandpa Robbins helped build the
when Needmore was in
There was a Post Office and two
logging was a
little red school in Old
has served our family
the memories that we have of
something we can
Grandpa Robbins built the
but his kids never
their youth was mostly
But his grand kids were
and most lived
So off to Needmore School they
in bad weather and blue
the Robbins, Davidsons, Rouseys and
a part of our big
Raised the kids and filled the
as regular as a
The school a hundred year
modern and up to
It had two toilets with ample
so no one had to
The school was cleaned and the fire was
by my old aunt you
walked to work and did her
for a daily two bit
The teachers came and the teachers
as they are prone to
Vernon Brooks, Glen Mallott,
Baldwin and Lloyd Sawyers just to name a
At this old school my learning
in the year of
My siblings: Daisy, John, Denny, Chris, Earl, and
had studied there
thirty kids attended
best I can
The school looks none to big for
then it held them
Brother Ted was then a smart young
and teacher Watson's
While Paul was just a little
teacher hardly knew him
The first year was a bust for
the best I can
dropped out at mid
to help Mom after her bad
We lived over on the Wesser
this was a dreadful
Our house had burned and we lost the
Pop without a
Betty and Grandma
we lost in January
the Robbins Clan
of 1926 the
from Needmore was going
school enrollment dropped and people
the school will close before
school enrollment dropped to just
was now so clear to one and
the old school would not
the old school was closed in
and never more to
The place where Needmore
to learn their
The old school sometimes served as
as it had done
Preacher VanCleve spoke in tongues, no
Then later on the school was
to make it into a
memories that I have of
fill the Hoosier
I well recall when I was
and living real close
I often ran off and went to
older children wondered
The little kids sat up in the
big ones in the
I learned a lot from bigger
by remembering what I could
Each class was called in
to come up front and
I listened to this most all
and studied my lessons at
kids would trap in
to earn a little
If by chance they caught a
would nearly always
When the stove got hot and the smell got
home they were
sometimes it was several
the smell was
Now old school you have seen a
but time has passed you
But let us cherish the memories you
up to the day we die.
In southeast Bigger Township sits an area called Rabbit
Plains. How it became Rabbit Plains is an old story. When the early settlers
were clearing land for school #2, someone remarked "you can see a rabbit plain
here". and there after became the name of the school and the
The land for the school was given by the Miles family to
be used as a school and when it was not used as a school, the land was to
be given back to the family.
Rabbit Plains school was in
existance from 1860 to 1894. It is believed the old school was covered with
brick and the roof was raised. The red brick school house had one large room,
three windows on each side, a large wood stove in the center of the room with
several feet of pipe. The school house was used as school, Sunday
School and a church. In 1885, the patrons of School No. 2, beautified the school
grounds by adding one-half acre to their lot and trimming the fifty oak trees
that nature furnished. The lost will contain one and one half acres of ground
and will be "one of the beautiful spots in the county". This was
reported in the Vernon Banner under San Jacinto News on May 9,
In 1897, Effie Hendricks was the teacher. She had 80
pupils, some of the children attending were Smiths, Whites, Hoffmans, Tatems,
Stanley, Miles, Sawyers, Lambs, Andersons, Johnsons and Sullivans. All of these
were old pioneers of the township and knew interesting facts about their
family. One such family was the Sawyer family. They may be descendants of a
little girl mentioned in a poem that we all know. Remember the poem "Mary had a
little lamb and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go?" The little
girl's name was Mary E. Sawyer and she did have a lamb. Lloyd Sawyer
Money has researched her family and this is what she said about the story.
The "Mary Had a Little Lamb" story was very interesting to me because I
didn't know what part of England the Sawyers came from or any thing much about
them. My folks always said our ancestors came from England and Ireland. I
think the VanCleves, my mother's family were Irish. We used to have a wooden
chest which they said had come over on a ship from Ireland. The story of
the Sawyers being woodsmen fits into the family real well as my dad said
they all worked in wood, especially making spokes, and he had done
that when he was a young man for 75 cents a day. He also had a kind of
blacksmith shop back on the farm near the little house that they first
lived in. He had built the house himself. I like it because it had big windows
and a fireplace. The shop had bellows, that when you turned a crank it
blew the fire to make it brighter. He used to shoe horses too. One of his
brothers was killed when a tree fell on him. The part of the little book told
about how the poem came about. Mary loved the little lamb so much that it
followed them and when the lamb came to the rail fence, they thought it would be
fun to take it to school. Mary hid it under her shawl, but when the teacher
called Mary to come to the recitation bench to recite as they used to do, the
lamb came too, so the teacher put him out. It was really a true stor.
On June 20, 1889, a Sabbath School was organized with Ben Wildman,
Superintendent; U.E. Smith, Treasurer; Anna Miles, Secretary; and teachers were
Kate Sawyer, Lena Smith, B.K. Johnson, Matilda Giddings, R.F. Custer, U.E.
Smith, Mary B. Miles and Emma Miles. On July 22, 1889, the attendance at
the Sunday School had increased to such an extent that the school felt
compelled to order new supplies of lesson helps.
On February 14, 1908,
great and terrible things happened in the vicinity. First it was St. Valentines
Day. Second it was a terrible rainy day. Third in the afternoon twin girls were
born to C.H. Hoffman and wife namely Velma and Virginia. Fourth, about four
o'clock, a cyclone came through the neighborhood. Commencing near the Rabbit
Plains school house going northeast as it crossed the Miles farm it blew down
considerable timber and tore up the orchard. Miss Nellie Anderson was on her way
home from school and was caught in it and blown into a hollow. It next struck
C.W. Miles place, tearing down out buildings and moved the summer kitchen from
its foundation. It then struck Al Fewell's barn, taking the roof off. Fences,
cornshocks and such were blown down in the neighborhood.
Names of known
teachers at Rabbit Plains
Arthur Rogers, Collins Wildman, William
Wildman, Jake Wildman, Mary Joens - 1874, Kate Truesdale - 1875, Perry Owens -
1876, Effie Hendricks - 1897-98, George Ale - 1899-1902, Carl
McGannon - 1903, Leland Shuck - 1904, Emery Brown - 1905, Jessie Mix -
1906, Brook Nichols - 1907, Jennie Shepherd - 1908, Elsie Johnson, Tillie
Sutton, Bailey Rawlings, Myron Gates, Ethel Bowman, Charles Sawyer, Anna
Baldwin, Stella Taylor Burge, Laura Hess, Gladys Vance,
Jonnie Anderson, Velma Lauber, Edison Heid, Elsie Myers, Iris
THIS IS ONLY A PORTION OF THE BOOK "MEMORIES OF BIGGER TOWNSHIP",
It has lots of pictures of people, schools, and buildings of Bigger Township.
You may use this material for your own personal research, however it may not be used for commercial publications without express written consent of the contributor, INGenWeb, and