O
LD  SETTLERS


Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Wabash Valley
 By Sandford C. Cox
 
 
The Formation of Tippecanoe County and Its Early Settlers


Lafayette Daily Courier, Monday, November 7, 1859
 
OLD SETTLERS
   
"To give a full list of the old settlers of Tippecanoe county, in chronological order, would require more time, research and space that this brief sketch will allow.
 
We propose to mention the names and localities of a few of the prominent inhabitants of the several neighborhoods, or settlements, as those neighborhoods existed shortly after the organization of the county.
   
Many persons, equally as ancient in point of settlement, and as worthy a place in these sketches as those whose names we chronicle, must necessarily, according to the plan we have adopted, be omitted.
   
For the sake of system we will divide the county in four parts, thus: by running a line from  Lafayette south, along the old Crawfordsville road, to the Montgomery Co. line, and will call the portion lying west of said line, and south of the Wabash river, Division No. 1; that part of the county lying west of the Wabash river, No. 2; that part lying between Crawfordsville road and the Lafayette and Indianapolis road, No. 3; and the remaining  portion lying between Lafayette and Indianapolis road aforesaid, and Carroll county, as the line now runs, No. 4.

The residence of PETER WEAVER, at the lower end of the Wea plain, shall be the beginning point.  That worthy old pioneer was as extensively and as favorably  known to the early inhabitants as any man on the upper Wabash.  He killed more deer, wolves and rattlesnakes; caught more fish, found more bee trees, and entertained in a hospitable manner more land-hunters, trappers and traders than any other private citizen between Vincennes and the mouth of the Salimony.  He is still living in Missouri, near Keouk, Iowa, and, although he is near one hundred years old, he still delights to hunt, fish and trap--with a success that astonishes the later generations of his sons and grandsons.

Near WEAVER lived LEWIS THOMAS, JOHN McFARLAND, JOHN CORAN, TRUEMAN ROLLINS, DANIEL CURREN, SCHOONOVERS, HUFF, and old man HAINES.  They all owned or worked land on the lower end of the beautiful and fertile Wea plain--which for many years was regarded as the Egypt to which the people came to buy corn for fifty miles around.  Southwest of this neighborhood, near Clark's Point (now Pin Hook), resided SAMUEL O. CLARK, PETER CHRISTMAN, NIMROD and WM. TAYLOR, VANSANDT and ABRAHAM MORGAN, JOHN KENNEDY, JOHN W. ODELL, SAMUEL RANKIN, JOHN DUTTON, JOHN W. and SIMON CROUSE, ABRAHAM EVANS, and others, in a rich, fertile, and now well-improved portion of the county.  Further east and north, near Middleton (now West Point), was the KISERS, HOLLINGSWORTHS, HUFFS, EWRYS, ELLISES and others. The High-Gap neighborhood consisted of WILLIAM DIMMITT, JOHN BRADFIELD, MOSES HOCKETT, JAMES P. ELLIS, DR. DURKEE, ANDREW HOOVER, SHERRY's, ELI PATTY, and PAUL and JOHN SHERIDAN.

On the little Wea was the CROSES, WILLEYS, CROUCHES, WYLIES, BRUNSONS, Judge ALLEN, FOXES, THOMAS SMILEY and the SEYMOURS.  As the upper end of the Wea plain resided JOSEPH and JAMES HAWKINS, BAKER GUEST, JOHN PROVOLT, WILLIAM JONES, JOSEPH FELL, WILLIAM WEST, PETER HUGHES, JOHN BEAR, JOHN MAGILL, ISAAC GALBREATH and ROBERT STERRITT.  On the north side of the Wea plain lived ADAM KINSER, JOSEPH COX, and ABEL JANNEY; and below the town of Lafayette lived D.F. DURKEE, NEWBERRY STOCKTON, EDWARD McLAUGHLIN, and JOSEPH TRAVIS.

We will conclude our remarks on Division No. 1, after alluding to the manner of conducting a militia muster, held by Capt. P.H.W.* on the south side of Wea prairie, in early times.

The captain was a stout-built, muscular man, who stood six feet four in his boots, and weighed over two hundred pounds.  When dressed in his uniform--a blue hunting shirt, fastened with a wide red sash with epaulettes on each shoulder, his large sword fastened by his thigh, and tall plume waving in the wind--he looked like another William Wallace, or Roderick Dhu, unsheathing his claymore in defense of his country.

His company consisted of about seventy men, who had reluctantly turned out to muster, to avoid paying a fine, some with guns, some with sticks, and others carrying cornstalks.

The captain, who had been recently elected, understood his business better than his men supposed he did.  He intended to given them a thorough drilling, and show them that he understood the maneuvers of the military art as well as he did farming and fox-hunting--the latter of which was one of his favorite amusements.  After forming a hollow square, marching and counter-marching, and putting them through several other evolutions, according to Winfield Scott's Military Guide, he commanded his men to "form a line."  They partially complied, but the line was crooked.  He took his sword and passed it along in front of his men, straightening the line. By the time he passed from one end of the line to the other, on casting his eye back, he discovered the line presented a zig-zag and unmilitary appearance--some of his men were leaning on their guns, some on their sticks, a yard in advance of the line, and others as far in the rear.  The captain's dander rose.  He threw his socked hat, feather and all on the ground, took off his red sash and hunting shirt and threw them with his sword upon his hat.  He then rolled up his sleeves and shouted with the voice of a stentor-- "Gentlemen, form a line and keep it or I will thrash the whole Company!"  Instantly the whole line was as straight as an arrow.  The captain was satisfied, put on his clothes again, and never had any more trouble in drilling his company."   INCOG

(*Note: This militia captain was Patrick Henry Weaver, son of Peter Weaver.)




Lafayette Daily Courier, Tuesday, November 8, 1859
 

OLD SETTLERS

"In October 1827, ISAAC SHELBY, a distant relative of Governor SHELBY of Kentucky, laid out the town of LaGrange, on the lower line of Tippecanoe county, on the west side of the Wabash River.  In giving a list of the old settlers in Division No. 2 of Tippecanoe county, as made in my last, I will begin at LaGrange.

When his town was first laid off, its proprietor considered it a hopeful rival of LaFayette, Attica, Covington, and other river towns.  At first it gave fine promise of becoming a place of considerable business, and for several years kept pace with the other villages along the river. Owners and masters of Keel Boats and Pieronges, in ascending and descending the Wabash, invariably made it a point to stop at LaGrange, and exchange bacon, salt, flour, and fever and ague medicines for bees-wax, feathers, fur-skins, and whisky, in which articles the proprietor kept up a pretty active trade.
   
A polemic society was organized in this town, which was strongly attended by the debaters from WEAVER's neighbor- hood east of the river, Judge SAMUEL L. CLARK's neighborhood on the river below, and the MACE, DAVIS, and FENTON neighborhood in Warren county.  At one time there appeared to be a strong probability of a Lyceum and Academy being established there.  But a few cabins, and small frame houses, soon brought this village to itculminating point, and it was in a few years entirely wiped out--and like ancient Greece and Rome, it lives only in history and story.

There were in that neighborhood, besides SHELBY's family, JESSE DOUTHIL, HARVEY H. LYONS, NOAH GRIGGS, L.S. WESTGATE, WM. WILLIAMS, DANIEL GOODEN and IMMEL.

Near the mouth of Indian creek was ELIJAH GODFREY, JOHN BUCK, WILLIAM PAYNE, ALEX. CROY, MICHAEL JONES, BOXLEY and JEHU STANLEY.  Near Slim Prairie was ENOS MOORE, AARON DAWLEY, FOSTERS, COON, NAGLE and BURNS.   Northwest on the edge of the Grand Prairie and in the timber, lived VANNATTA, EASTBURN, SHAMBAUGHS, ELICONHONCE, McCRAY, GATES, BILDERBACKS, ROCKS,JOURDANS, PIERCES, JENNINGS, KELLOGG, RAWLES, and others.
   
North of this settlement, on the head waters of Burnett's creek, was another neighborhood composed of several families, viz: JOHN CLARK, ELISHA G. LAYNE, JOURDAN KNIGHT, CHARLES H. MARSTELLER, JONES HENDERSON, WILLIAM SIMS, THOMAS CONNELLY, NEWBERRY STOCKTON, Jr., DANIEL STOCKTON, DAVID JONES, JOHN BARNARD, and JAS. GRIFFITH.
   
This locality was long famous for large quantities of wild game.  Many an extensive deer hunt and wolf hunt has come off along the border of the Grand Prairie, and in the timber about the head of Burnett's Creek.
   
Two or three miles east of the mouth of Indian Creek was another neighborhood consisting of JAMES BEDWELL, ROBERT WILLIAMS, THOMAS W. TREKELL, WILLIAM, BENJAMIN, and SAM'L KNIGHT, FRANCIS SUNDERLAND, CUPPY, STARRET, SUITS, JAMES EMERSON, H. OILAR, LAYTONS, and RUSSELS.

In this vicinity, on the Wabash river, opposite the mouth of Wea creek, D. PATTON and others, in an early day, laid off the town of Cincinnatus, which entered the list of river towns with a spirit that, for awhile, promised a prosperous future.  But its race was not so long or glorious as that of LaGrange and there remains not a vistage to mark the place where the town of Cincinnatus stood.
   
A few miles below this defunct village, I had an adventure many years ago, the recollection of which still chills my blood with horror.  An account of the truly fearful adventure I will give in my next number."   INCOG




Lafayette Daily Courier, Wednesday, November 9, 1859  

OLD SETTLERS
   
"On a balmy evening in June, in 1835, I strolled from the cabin of my brother-in-law where I was stopping for the night, to enjoy a quiet moonlight ramble through the verdant valley which surrounded his humble mansion, which stood about midway between the Wabash river and the Indian creek hills, which lifted their elevated heads several hundred feet above the bottom lands beneath.
  
 With difficulty I climbed to the top of one of the peaks of this romantic range of hills.  The scene which surrounded me was sublime and picturesque beyond description.  Before me, in the distance, lay the Wabash river, rolling its silver current along the northern edge of the Wea plain, which was besprinkled with garlands of wild flowers of every rich and varigated tint.  Hawthorns and wild plum bushes, overspread with wild honeysuckle and grapevine arbors, grew in clusters along the river banks, as if in love with it placid, laughing waters that flashed and danced in the moonlight.  I stood spellbound, gazing upon the lovely prospect and listening to the many voices that came floating down the prairie and river for miles distant, then reverberating and dying away in echoes amidst the surrounding hills.  The talk and laughter of children, bleating of sheep, barking of dogs, and gabble of geese, for three or four miles off, came echoing around me with a clear, distinct and witching cadence.
   
While thus enchanted with the lovely scenery which surrounded me, and just as I repeated in an audible voice, "If there is an Elysium on earth, it is this--it is this," a fox darted through the thicket, down a dark ravine, barking as it went.  In a few moments back it came at full speed, and passed over the hill near where I stood.  I heard a confused cracking of bushes, rattling of stones, and gnashing of teeth, with a loud boo-boo-oh from the ravine the fox had just left.  Instantly I felt the peril of my position--my hair stood on end as the fearful truth flashed upon my mind that the fox had started up a gang of wild hogs.  I ran a few yards and sprang up a large log, which at first seemed to promise me safety, but which I soon abandoned when I discovered that I could be approached from the upper side of the hill, where the log rode but a few feet from the ground.  I sprang off and ran for an oak tree that stood on the very summit of the hill, gathering from the ground, as I ran, a sugar-tree limb as thick as my arm, and about eight feet long.  On reaching the tree, I found I could not climb it.  Instantly I threw my back against the trunk of the tree, and faced my dreadful adversaries, who, by this time were close to me.  I waved my club, and yelled and screamed through very fright.  They made a furious onslaught--my waving bludgeon and violent gestures repelled them; they renewed the attack again and again--my whirling, well-aimed club beat back the foremost.  A panorama of terrors passed through my mind, but Harpies, Faries, and the Gogon terrors of the fabled Medusa's head, encircled with hissing snakes, would be desirable, compared with the horrible thought of being devoured alive by a gang of furious wild hogs, that would, probably, in a few seconds, rend me into a thousand pieces, crush every bone, and consume every vestige of my mutilated body, and every shred of my garments, so that none would ever know when or how I left the world.
   
A super-human strength seemed to nerve my arm as I plied my bludgeon, and yelled and hallooed at the top of my voice, which echoed wildly among the surrounding hills.  During a slight pause in the combat, I heard my brother-in-law's voice, as he ran to the rescue, crying, "What's the matter?--what's the matter?"  By the time he reached the foot of the hill, my bristly adversaries, hearing his voice in their rear, showed signs of retreating, but one old sow, who appeared to be leader of the gang, and had in her several of the devils or evil spirits that entered into her ancestors in the time of our Saviour, was for keeping up the siege, which she actually did, until my brother-in-law got within a few rods with his gun, when she turned her head to one side, listened, heard his foot-falls as he ascended the hill, then raised her head, snorted a retreat, and with her devil-possessed comrades darted off down the dark ravine, and I felt as if an Andes has been lifted from my breast."  INCOG




Lafayette Daily Courier, Thursday, November 10, 1859

OLD SETTLERS

"South of Tippecanoe River, on the borders of the Pretty Prairie, there was a settlement in early times, composed of the following families, viz: WILLIAM KENDALL, MOSES RUSH, MOOTS, PHILLIP RUNNELS, BEEKER, MARQUIS, and SAMUEL STARRET.  Further south, between Pretty Prairie and Prophets Town lived JAMES SHAW, JOHN BURGET, PELEG BABCOCK, JOHN SHAW, JOHN ROBERTS, JOHN S. FORGEY, THOMAS WATSON and FLEMINGS.  North of these thinly settled neighborhoods, there was a wide, unbroken wilderness-- "Where nothing dwelt but beasts of prey, Or men as fierce and wild as they."

It would be a culpable omission on my part to leave this locality without alluding to the Battle of Tippecanoe, which was fought on the morning of the 7th of November, 1811, between Gen. Wm. H. Harrison, then Governor of the Indiana Territory, and the Shawnee Prophet, who commanded the Indians in the sanguinary engagement.
   
For several years previous to this battle, the renowned Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, and his brother, Law-le-was-i-kaw (loud voice), had been stirring up the various tribes of Indians for several hundred miles around to resist the encroachment of the whites--advising them to make no more treaties with the pale-faces and prevent them surveying those tracts of land already ceded to the whites; averring that all treaties made with isolated tribes, were utterly void--and that a valid treaty could not be made without the joint consent and concurrence of all the various tribes, who were but fractional portions of the one great Aboriginal Family.
   
The eloquent harangues of Tecumseh, backed by the religious sanctions of the Prophet, fomented feelings of enmity between the whites and Indians, which ultimately brought about a state of open hostility.  The most ardent and restless of the different tribes flocked to the standard of Tecumseh and the Prophet, who laid deep plans for a wide and simultaneous outbreak of the Indians upon the frontier settlers of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.
   
The Prophet's forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe consisted of warriors from among the Shawnees, Wyandotts, Ottowas, Chippewas, Kickapoos, Winnebagoes, Sacs, Miamis, and Pottowatomies.
  
When Harrison arrived with his forces (consisting of about nine hundred men) within a few miles of Prophet's Town, the Indians manifested much alarm, feigned friendship, and expressed great surprise that their amicable feelings for the whites should be for a moment doubted.
   
But their friendly protestations did not prevent the Governor from using every precautionary measure to prevent a surprise. Guards, and picket guards were stationed around the well selected encampment the evening before the battle, and orders were given that the soldiers should sleep on their arms, with fixed bayonets, and their clothes on.
   
About two hours before daylight, the Indians made an attack by picking off sentinels with arrows, and then rushing with hideous yells through the lines into the tents of the sleeping soldiers, many of whom awoke to receive the stroke of the uplifted knife and murderous tomahawk.
  
Harrison and his brave soldiers met their foes, which were considered in point of numbers about equal to their own, with a firm and determined valor.  Again and again were the desperate savages repulsed, in each fierce onset.  Amidst the roar and blaze of musketry, and the rattle of small arms,the furious combatants were seen to grapple in the deadly conflict.  Victory awhile seemed poised, then vacillating as if in doubt on which side to alight.  But with the early beams of morning the savages were driven from the field, and the almost breathless victors looked after their wounded, and buried their dead comrades.  In this battle about 37 whites were killed, and 151 wounded, of whom 25 afterwards died of their wounds.  It is reported that 38 Indians were killed on the battlefield, and full as many if not more wounded, than there were of the whites.  Among the killed of our gallant band, was DAVIESS, SPENCER, OWEN, WARWICK, RANDOLPH, BAEN, and WHITE, while heading their heroic soldiers on the gory [sic] field, besides others, whose names and deeds embalmed in the hearts of a grateful people.  And why not?  They poured out their life blood like water to protect your cradle and mine from the tomahawk of the savages. Peace to their ashes. A few of the survivors of this glorious battle still linger among us. Let us cherish them, and the memories of the valiant dead, whose bones lay bleaching on the battlefield for many years--being disinterred by the enemy--and were gathered together and buried again by the early settlers of Tippecanoe and the surrounding counties, assisted by the inhabitants of Terre Haute, Vincennes, and perhaps some other points, in the year 1827 or 1828.
   
Gen'l Tipton, who was a soldier in the battle, bought the land on which the battle was fought, and donated about thirteen acres of the ground where the main part of the battle was fought, to the State of Indiana, as a burying place for his fallen comrades.
   
The battle ground is now enclosed with a good plank fence, and it is in contemplation to erect a suitable monument to commemorate the names and the actions of those who fell on the consecrated battlefield of Tippecanoe."   INCOG




Lafayette Daily Courier, Thursday, November 11, 1859

OLD SETTLERS
"Resuming the order of my division of Tippecanoe county, I will begin at Columbia (now Romney), a little village laid off in August, 1832, by JOSIAH P. HALSTEAD and HENRY RISTINE, on the Crawfordsville road near the Montgomery county line.  This will be the southwest corner of subdivision No. 3.  In this vicinity lived ENOS PARK, JOHN FRALEY, the TALBOTS, JOHN KENNEDY, MARTIN MILLER, DAVID MARTIN, and others.  A few miles east of Romney JAMES B. JOHNSON laid off a village in the summer of 1832 which he named Concord.  In this neighborhood resided WILLIAM BRADEY, DANIEL TRAVIS, DANIEL STONER, RECERS, KIRKINDALL, JOHNSONS, ELI PERKINS, and a few others.  Southeast of Concord, near Yorktown, lived the CAULKINS, WELLS, COLES, TRINDLE, BAKERS, PARVISES, and WESTLAKE.
   
On Lauramie creek, near the village of Cleveland, laid off by HEZEKIAH HUNTER in February, 1832, lived ALVIN PIPPIN, JAMES CARR, ISAAC WICKERSHAM, STINGLEYS, ELLIOTTS, BARNE, KEELER, MARTIN ROADS, and JAMES COWLEY.
   
One or two miles southeast of Cleveland, on the road leading to Jefferson, was another village called Monroe, laid out by WM. MAJOR, in 1832.  Here was a cluster of families, consisting of WILLIAM and JAMES H. MAJOR, JOHN KILLGORE, MARTIN LUCAS, JAMES B. HARTPENSE, MICHAEL CULVER, and a few others.  I may not be entirely correct in the adjustment of these names to their exact neighborhoods, as many years have elapsed since these settlements were formed, and as they widened and extended every year, they coon became merged into one, and all the original lines of demarkation were completely effaced.
   
Northwest of Cleveland, in the direction of Lafayette, lived JAMES CAWLEY, the WHETSTONES, WILLIAM HEATON, the KIRKPATRICKS, DANIEL CLARK, MORGAN SHORTRIDGE, BILLINGS BABCOCK, SAMUEL BLACK, JAMES EARL, LEVI THORNTON, JOHN HOOVER, ALEM BREESE, JAMES COCHRAN, DAVID H. COCHRAN, SAMUEL PARSONS, MATTHEW ORBISON, MATTHEWS, PHILIP HARTER, DAVID PATTON, MICHAEL BUSH, and a few others.

In naming the old settlers in Division No. 4 we will begin at Lafayette, or in its immediate vicinity, with the GRAHAMS, L.B. STOCKTON, HILT, KNAPPER, AARON T. CLASPILL, JAMES THORNTON, JONATHAN WOLF, GUSHWAS, GUNKLE, JOHN DOYLE, JAMES KEENE, FORESMANS, JOHN COCKRELL, CRESSES, WALTER FREEMAN, SILAS SIMPKINS, PETER LONGLOIS, JOHN ALLEN, GARRET SEYMOUR and JOHN W. SMITH.

In the vicinity of Fairfield (now Dayton), laid off by TIMOTHY HORRAM as early as 1829, was TIMOTHY HORRAM, WILLIAM BUSH, SAMUEL FAVORITE, JOSEPH BARTON, DAVID PADEN, PAIGES, RIZERS, TOOLES, SAMUEL McGEORGE, BARTIMIS, STROTHERS, STEENS, STALEYS, JOHN ROBINSON, JESSE EVANS, CLEAVERS, McCURDY, VINCENT and WILLIAM DYE, JAMES WYLIE, CHRISTIAN BARR, WARD and BURKHALTERS.
   
In and about Americus, a town laid off many years ago by WILLIAM DIGBY, on the east bank of the Wabash River, on the road leading from Lafayette to Delphi, was another neighborhood, composed of several families of the STAIRS, JOHN CUNNINGHAM, RICHARDSON, SCHOOLCRAFTS, STEVENSON, STANFIELD, GISH, BENJAMIN DOTY, and EDWARD BROWN.

Americus was laid out on the nearest eligible ground for a town to the mouth of the Tippecanoe river, where the Wabash and Erie Canal was to terminate, according to the original grant of land from Congress which induced the proprietor and many others to suppose that it was soon destined to become a great commercial town, that would throw Lafayette, Delphi, and Logansport into the shade; and the lots sold at extremely high prices.  But the subsequent extension of the canal and the hard times, combined with other circumstances, caused the growth and duration of Americus to be much after the fashion of Jonah's gourd.
  
 I have now given you, reader, the meagre skeleton of Tippecanoe county as it existed some twenty-eight or twenty-nine years ago, when the settlements were chiefly confined to the timber and borders of our many beautiful and fertile prairies; and along the banks of the Wabash, Wild-Cat, Wea, Lauramie, Sugar Creek, Buck Creek, and other streams that checker and fertilize
our county.
   
I will now leave it for you to draw the contrast between now and then. After looking through the reversed telescope as I placed it in your hands to enable you to get a good view of "the day of small things," then change the instrument, and look at things as they now are, and anticipate what they will be when the resources of our county are fully developed.
   
I can will recollect when we used to wonder if the youngest of us would ever live to see the day when the whole of the Wea Plain would be purchased and cultivated; and our neighbors on the Shawnee, Wild-Cat, and Nine Mile prairies were as short-sighted as we were, for they talked of the everlasting range they would have for their cattle and horses on those prairies--of the wild game and fish that would be sufficient for them, and their sons, and their sons' sons.  But those prairies for more than fifteen years past, have been like so many cultivated gardens, and as for venison, wild turkies and fish, they are now mostly brought from the Kankakee and the Lakes."  INCOG



Contents of Old Settler   


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