From the 1885 History of Steuben County, Indiana

pages 578-579



Demary Tillotson, the oldest settler of Fremont Township, was born in Pittsford, Monroe Co., N. Y., April 26, 1810, a son of Nathan and Mary (Kellogg) Tillotson, early settlers of Monroe County.  The mother died in 1821 and the father afterward went to St. Clair County, Mich., where he died.  They had a family of seven children, three of whom are living -- Joseph, of Monroe County, N. Y.; John and Demary.  Our subject received a limited education in the common schools of his native county.  After the death of his father he was thrown on his own resources.  In 1833 he went to Branch County, Mich., and bought 160 acres of land near Coldwater.  In August, 1835, he came to Steuben County and settled on section 28, Fremont Township.  His family lived for three weeks under a shed made by laying boards on the crotched limbs cut from the trees, till their log cabin could be built.  Mr. Tillotson was the second settler of the township; the first, John McMahon, preceded him about an hour, and was preparing to feed his team when Mr. Tillotson drove by.  He opened up a farm where the Noyes place is now located, near the depot at Fremont, then known as Willow Prairie.  He lived on this place four years and in 1839 settled where he now lives.  He was married April 12, 1835, to Harriet Shepard, a native of New York, and to them were born six children -- Jerome, William, Truman T., Merritt, and two who died in infancy.  Jerome was drowned in Lake James, Steuben County.  William was a member of the Fifty-fourth Indiana Infantry in the war of the Rebellion and was killed at Vicksburg.  Mrs. Tillotson died March 18, 1850.  She was a member of the Baptist church and a most estimable woman.  In January, 1853, Mr. Tillotson married Mrs. Sarah (Thomas) Phenecie, a native of Franklin County, Pa., born Oct. 5, 1824, widow of James Phenecie.  To them were born two daughters -- Sarah, wife of Homer Withington, and Ida.  Mrs. Tillotson died July 21, 1883.  She was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist church, and was loved and respected by all who knew her.  Mr. Tillotson left New York with a man named Simeon Pierce, but left him at Detroit and proceeded to Branch County on horseback, and when he landed there had $95 and his horse.  Although a poor man when he came West he was possessed of a determined will and strong ambition, and made a success of all his business ventures, leaving no stone unturned that would aid in furthering his interests.  He tells many thrilling and amusing reminiscences of his life in a new country.  Before he raised any grain he was obliged to go to English Prairie to buy it and then take it to be ground.  It was midnight before he was ready to start for home, and the snow was two feet deep.  His oxen wanted to go home in the same direction that they made the journey and started toward English Prairie, and it was with difficulty that he got to the main road.  He then rolled himself up in an old-fashioned cloak and with a bag for a pillow went to sleep.  When his oxen reached a small store, Dr. Calton's tamerack store, at which they were accustomed to stop, they came to a stand-still.  This wakened him, and he got up and started them on again.  By this time the wolves began to howl around him but paying no attention to them, he again slept till they reached Cove's cabin, where the oxen again stopped and he alighted and put up for the rest of the night.  Many are the adventures Mr. Tillotson had with wild animals and Indians, and his manner of telling them cannot be portrayed by any but one who has had the experience of like adventures.  He is a man of unquestionable integrity, and now, in the seventy-fifty year of his age, is reaping the reward of a well-spent life.  He has lived to see the county of his adoption change from a wilderness to finely cultivated farms and prosperous villages, and many of the improvements are due to his energy and enterprise.



Submitted by Kim Davoli