Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sarah Hanna's Fairfield story

Sarah A. Hanna, from her book
Sarah A. Hanna, the author of the esteemed "House of Hanna" history, blends some reality with perceptions when she discusses her family's activities surrounding the Whitewater valley.

In a deliciously imaginable gathering of family somewhere "up the river," she tells of Fairfield. It's a curious approach to the story.

"Here Graem interrupts our conversation to tell me that there is to be a town a mile north of our homestead, not a quarter from William Logan's house, just a little north of it."

Graem, I presume, is her father, so somebody else is telling the story and Sarah is remiss about attributing it, since she was a lot of years not yet born.

No matter, it's a great story.

"The population all through the country has been increasing so rapidly by immigration that they began to feel the necessity for a trading post nearer than Brookville."

So the Hannas, while not given credit for actually platting the town, appear to be strident in supporting it.

"Consequently, in 1815, the plan of Hugh Abernathy, George Johnston, Thomas Osborne and James Wilson materialized in a plat of a town, the four corners of their respective lands being in the center of the town."

Those four men were not among the original Carolina settlement but didn't miss it by much, perhaps three years at most. Wilson didn't stay long and headed west to help settle in an area that is now Shelby County.

Sarah goes on.

"They have bestowed the name of Fairfield upon their new town because of the general beauty of the surrounding scenery, and from the fact that it was the neutral ground where various Indian tribes were wont to meet and swap."

The Shawnee were the leading native tribe in the valley at that time.

Sarah continues.

"About three-quarters of a mile north of the town plat is the ruins of a Shawnee village but lately deserted. It is located on a small branch which the whites have named Shawnee Branch, and close to its confluence with the White Water (River). There is a shallowness in the river that affords a good crossing, and they have named it Shawnee Ford. There has already been builded (sic) a log school-house a half mile north of the village plat, on the school section, and Mr. Harvey dedicated it to Cadmus by teaching the first school in it."

I have no idea who Cadmus was.

At this time, Fairfield was still a part of Bath Township but the Shawnee Ford bridge across the river was being used until the state highway was finished in 1934.

One would presume that the settlers had something of an commercial connection to the Shawnee though at least one document I've seen claimed that the Shawnee had all left the valley by about 1821.

Sarah includes information about Thomas Eads, who came from Brookville in 1816 to start a business with his brother William. "Then one by one other little businesses were introduced into it until it assumed such importance that four years later, in 1820, a post office was established in it."

August Reifel uses her report freely in his history, published in 1915. Sarah's "House of Hanna" was published in 1906. A Franklin County Atlas from 1882 includes much of this information. History, handed down.

Logan cabin
Sarah's reference to the William Logan cabin is interesting. The cabin, on land owned by Silas Pope at the time of the reservoir project, was moved to the Dunlapsville Treaty Line Museum, where it stands today.

The Pope farm was located at the corner of S.R. 101 and the southern entrance to Fairfield.

The cabin was uncovered when Pope began dismantling his house after it was sold to the federal government. It had been covered over by its owner, Earl Glaub, during a remodeling project.

The Logan cabin, as explored in a 1967 article by Max Knight in the Richmond  Palladium-Item:

The south end of the house still retains its original logs, placed there in 1804 when the Logan family  built the cabin. How they hoisted these logs into position is almost beyond belief. For the logs measure 24 inches square and are various lengths, some 15 feet long. They appear to be solid oak.

It was Pope who insisted that the cabin be moved for posterity.

Glaub was the grandson of Floretine Logan, grandson of Thomas Logan, the first child born in Fairfield. Glaub had bought the house in 1935.

The Dunlapsville museum was originally intended to be a self-supporting tourist attraction. That project ended in 1988.

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