Thursday, February 26, 2015

Harmony Township

The earliest settlers in the Fairfield area eventually found themselves in a different county.

Elsewhere, we have researched the creation of Fayette and Union counties, as well as the legend of the lost courthouse, so no point dogging that cow.

Rehashing for effect, in the period between 1819 and 1821, Franklin County was sliced essentially in half. There's nothing especially odd about that.

Of the 92 Indiana counties, a vast number of them were once called Wayne's Purchase, which ran from Detroit to Buenos Aires, which is in Brazil. Well, slightly overstated, but the need to supply government to the people increased exponentially as the number of people increased.

Fairfield's northern neighbor, also known as Harmony Township, was formed in 1826. A number of the original settlers, including some of the Hanna-Templeton clans, found themselves in a different jurisdiction by the stroke of a pen.

According to the Union County historical Atlas of 1884, "An election was  ordered to be held on the second Saturday of April, for the purpose of electing an additional Justice of the Peace for the new township; place specified was at the house of Jeremiah Corey; Robert A. Templeton was appointed as Inspector of Election."

Harmony Township remained completely rural for its entire existence. Its only community was Quakertown. Its current community is a series of bait and boat sales shops.

The description of the township won't be much a surprise to anyone who traveled it, looking for mushrooms or blackberries, or grizzly bears. Well, maybe a few Teddy bears up around Roseburg ....

"The surface of the country is quite broken, owing to the presence of the East Fork of the Whitewater Rivers, which traverses the territory a little west of its center, north and south, with its several tributaries, the largest of which are Hanna's Creek and Dubois Creek, on the east, and Eli's Creek on the west."

The essay says the soil was fertile, "having a limestone base that is naturally recuperative and self-supporting. Its soil is well adapted to cereals of all kinds, and heavy yields of corn and wheat annually enrich the garners of husbandman."

(Glory be, the husbandman!)

As well, "its principle article of commerce is the Poland-China hog, or similar breeds of what has been termed the "American Idol."

(So, that's a hog?)

Harmony Township is where John Templeton and Joseph Hanna set up husbandsmanship in September, 1804. The two men were connected in their time in Laurens County, S.Carolina, prior to staking out the Whitewater Valley for homesteading.

The Atlas includes some interesting names. Reportedly, Catherine H. Templeton, who eventually married a man named George Newland, was born on July 15, 1805 -- the first white child born on the East Fork.

Among the other early settlers in Harmony Township were:

1804: William Cunningham, James Taylor.
1805: John Ewing, Martin Baum.
1806: Hugh Abernathy, Jacob Boyd, James Piper, Joel Williams, Alexander Dubois, Isaac Dubois, John Dickison, William Dubois, George Hollingsworth, Matthew Brown.
1807: David Huston, William Carter, Samuel Huston.
1808-09: Amasiah Elwell, William Sparks.

Abernathy eventually was one of the original platters for the town of Fairfield, in 1815.

Photo: The Templeton cabin, built in 1805, was moved to the grounds of the Union County Courthouse in Liberty in 1980.
Map: What's left of Harmony Township. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Interstate 1, Fairfield exit

The question of why the settlers in the East Fork settled at Fairfield is probably best understood by facts that are not in evidence.

In other words, who knows for sure? I think it's fair to assume that the Hannas and the Logans and the Templetons did not travel a thousand miles without having something of an idea what they were buying.

Adventure being one thing, predictable adventure something entirely different. As if there weren't enough bears and lions and tigers (oh, my) in the rich woodlands along the Whitewater River.

So, why did these men choose the lands they chose? Perhaps it had something to do with the obvious: If you can't get there, then go somewhere else.

We read extensive research that describes the valley as heavy with timber, though there are reasons to suggest that some parts of it didn't have many trees.

It's also safe to assume that the settlers at times followed existing trails through the thicket. After all, if there's a path, take it. If there isn't a path, there's a reason nobody thought it was useful or necessary to put one there, so no point following that.

A 1907 research document in the Indiana History Magazine discusses the development of the road system in Indiana, or what there was of it in 1810.

Of these primitive ways for travel and transportation the earliest, long antedating the white man's advent, were the Indian trails -- narrow, winding routes beaten by many feet traveling in single file, and akin to the paths made by animals.

It's fairly safe to conclude that the paths made by animals were for reasons that are generally animal in nature. The paths made by the humans probably went somewhere that mattered to humans. So when in doubt, take the human path.

Assuming that the tribes had something resembling a pattern for travel and commerce, the paths would have linked to places that benefitted them, such as places to catch fish, places to build dwellings ... or baseball stadiums.

If those original settlers were paying attention to the signs and had something of an idea what they were buying from the government, it's fairly clear that they ended up in the East Fork in the places they did because ... well, one could stand a better chance of surviving.

The human propensity for intercommunication as distinguished from mere gregariousness was revealed by those obscure forest highways, and by virtue of that they were something other than mere random ways -- they were a system. If this system could be restored in a chart we would be surprised, no doubt, to find what a network it formed, reaching over the country in various directions.

As time went on, the roads improved, essentially linking the people who had come to Indiana. One tends to connect a source of commerce to another source of commerce. By the 1820s, roads were getting better under state government control.

The government funded part of the road system, and a user tax added still another share. There were toll roads in places. The "road tax" was levied on real estate.

Another more Libertarian source of road maintenance in the 1820s required "all male inhabitants between the ages of 21 and 50, except preachers and certain other exempts, to work on the roads two days in each year, when called out, or pay an equivalent thereof."

Where roads were being established in the area known as New Purchase, in central Indiana, men were expected to contribute four days of labor per year, though that rule was rescinded in 1827.

The research document also suggests that the road-building program in Indiana had its share of graft, mistakes and self-serving projects. It's nice to know that in the 21st century, we no longer have that problem with highway projects.

A lot of the road work in the 1820s was completed during the term of Gov. James B. Ray, whose home was in Brookville.

Source: Indiana History Magazine

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A little tale about corn mash

Nectar of the Gods?

Devil's Brew?

White Lightnin'?

Whisky, with or without the "e" ... straight, no chaser.

Among the products most traded in the Whitewater Valley in those early days, alcohol was high on the list.

And why not? It comes from corn and corn was a staple crop. One of the problems with corn in those early days was storage. And in come cases, just harvesting it was a challenge. There were no machines, no pickers, no conveyor belts, no Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

What was planted came up and grew, and eventually was harvested. The good corn was ground into cornmeal, the worse corn was fed to the hogs. The really bad corn was thrown into a vat and ... well, they just cooked it.

When produce and goods were traded, whiskey was often one of the mainstays. First off the boat, first up the valley ... and, as it was once described: "Whisky was almost legal tender for all business transactions in those days."

The 1882 Franklin County Atlas describes liquor in some rather glowing terms:

Much has been written and said concerning the common use of ardent spirits in pioneer times. Many good people of to-day are inclined to think these legends somewhat fabulous, or that the story has been tol for all it is worth, at least.

Nothing is more clearly established than that whisky was a common article of "produce;' the old newspapers contain advertisements wherein it is quoted, and named as a companion to beeswax, maple sugar, flax and other country produce. Whisky was "concentrated grain," and as such it was both portable and marketable, and brought in exchange what the farmer needed for his use and comfort.

Whiskey production is as old as the Whitewater Valley itself, and the best stills were from copper kettles that the more affluent farmer could afford. "Commonly there were two of these stills, of 120 gallons capacity each, in one house, mashing four or five bushels of corn and making from 2-and-a-half to 3 gallons per day, using a little rye occasionally,  and making a much better article than  is now made and less injurious to those who used it."

Preachers made whiskey and often sold it. And why not? There was profit in the product. Eternal salvation was their other product, but the concept rarely paid the bills in those rugged times.

"In fact, it was respectable to drink in those days," according to an interview with a man named William McClure.

As the valley matured socially, that began to change as some families "did not dare keep whisky  about their premises with some of the members having too strong an appetite for it."

Stills were found in several areas of the county, including "one up toward Fairfield."

The report continues: "There was hardly a store in Brookville that did not keep liquor for sale by the quart."

Federal regulations, while in place, were vague in those days. Whiskey taxes were difficult to collect and production almost impossible to control. As if the county sheriff had any reason to bother.

Whiskey sales were frequently restricted on Sundays except "for travelers."

To some end, the product was used for "medicinal purposes" and was occasionally flavored with various native roots or plants, "and made more palatable by a little sugar." Various fruits could also be added or substituted, including apples, which made a hard cider.

Native Indians were frequently given to alcoholism and many were tricked into bartering valuables in exchange for poorly distilled whiskey.

The Indiana History Magazine adds some other details:

Whiskey was plentiful, there being no restriction on its manufacture, and could be bought for 20 to 30 cents per gallon. Merchants kept for sale copper stills, and people made whiskey for sale and for their own use. There was so much whiskey in the country that the market was usually overstocked.

Distilled spirits and the knowledge of their production moved westward with each advance of the frontier and in Kentucky distilling spirits from native fruits and grains began with the first permanent settlements in the 1770s.

Flatboats carried whiskey and other produce.
By the 1790s coppersmiths in Kentucky were producing stills and the corresponding apparatus necessary for local production. Although a temperance movement swept the state in the 1830s, a number of early distillers were also prominent members of the clergy.

Brookville, in the 1810s, was considered a mecca for newspaper publishing. The history magazine includes this interesting detail about an 1816 Plain Dealer edition:

A yearly subscription was two dollars if paid in advance, but if the subscriber did not have cash, the Plain Dealer would accept country produce — wheat, whiskey, wool, sugar—and presumably any other item that had utility. The Plain Dealer's advertising rate for a notice "not exceeding one square" (approximately four square inches) was one dollar for three insertions and 25 cents for every subsequent insertion, with "larger ones in proportion."

But we'll take the whiskey if that's all you have.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Whetzel's Trace

It's my considered opinion that the first man to make a left turn in Marion County was a guy named Jacob Whetzel.

Today, they make those turns at 140 mph. Jacob Whetzel was a bit more cautious than that.

What a car race has to do with the history of Fairfield is a matter of connecting dots. From there, you draw your own line.

Who was Whetzel? (Or Wetzel, depending on your search results.)

Indian fighter, scout, adventurer, family man, landowner, regular all-around guy for the first quarter of the 19th century. But enough has been written about him and his brother Lewis to legitimize the story.

The W(h)etzels were from Pennsylvania and had resettled in the area around what would become Wheeling, W.Va., during the years immediately prior to the American Revolution. A year after the war began, the British, in an effort to disturb the colonial cause, had struck a deal with several tribes, including the Shawnee and the Wyandot.

An archived biography of Lewis Wetzel by James P. Pierce explains:

"Indians captured Lewis from his home on Wheeling Creek when he was 13. It was 1777, the second year of the Revolutionary War. The Wetzels, along with most of their neighbors, were holed up at nearby Fort Henry waiting out that season's spate of Indian raids.

"Wyandot raiders captured Lewis and his younger brother Jacob as they were working with their father and their older brother George. Their father and brother had, uncharacteristically, left their guns back in the cabin when they had all gone out to the fields that morning to hoe crops."

What followed was that the boys, going back to retrieve the weapons, were abducted. Inevitably, the two escaped and began a life in the forest, learning Indian ways and dedicating themselves to avenging the attack. The brothers became notorious among the tribes for their ruthlessness.

Shortening the story to its pertinent parts, the Whetzel brothers landed in Indiana and were part of William Henry Harrison's campaign to defeat the Shawnee-led federation at Tippecanoe.

After the war, Lewis went one way, Jacob went the other. Evidently, Jacob was given land by Harrison as part of his loyalty in the Tippecanoe battle. The problem was, it was in a place that was to become Morgan County. Um ... pretty far from anything, since there really wasn't anything. One assumes that Jacob Whetzel craved his privacy. No other white settlers were known to be in that area of the territory, save for a few French trappers.

The Fairfield connection is somewhat tenuous, but the story is interesting ... so, work with me.

Whetzel, in order to claim the land, had to go to Brookville to the federal land office, where he put down his "X" on a document and became a Hoosier. One other problem: You can't get there from here, Jacob.

In order to enter the land, he had to go down the Whitewater, down the Miami, down the Ohio, clear to the Wabash, back up the Wabash to the White, and back up the White to the Eel, rowing upstream about half the time. All this with a box full of cookies and a washboard. And some bacon, beans and cornbread mix. A couple of magazines. His laptop. And a 50-box of Crayola.

This, Jacob realized, was not an optimum plan. So, the story goes, he was staying in Fairfield trying to drum up a strategy. Most great ideas happened in Fairfield. Well, maybe he was living in Laurel ... but it's a better story this way.

It came to him. Overland. Right across the state.

So he and his son Cyrus, 18, and a few other hardy souls (Thomas Howe, Thomas Rush, Richard Rush and Walter Banks) went to a place that would someday become Laurel, and started hacking away at trees until they had gone across an area a few miles south of present-day Rushville, past what would become Shelbyville, across the area just south of the site of Indianapolis to a spot where Waverly is located.

This was in 1818.

He had gotten permission from the Delaware tribe to cut the path, which became known as Whetzel's Trace ... the first "highway" in Indiana. From Waverly it was a short canoe ride to the home place, and Jacob staked a claim on it.

The Trace, which cut across an area known as the New Purchase, became a central path for settlers heading into the state's interior for a number of years until new and better roads were cut toward Indianapolis, which was laid out as the state capital around 1824. The Trace was instrumental in the decision.

Along the way, Shelbyville and other settlements sprang up and the population of Indiana began to grow exponentially. As an aside, a man named James Wilson, one of the founders of Fairfield, moved his family into the Shelbyville area around that time, taking the Whetzel's Trace.

The importance of the Trace to Franklin County was that the introduction of settlers in the central part of the state meant moving the federal land office from Brookville to Indianapolis. The impact that had on the economy of Franklin County was ... well, it mattered. A lot. Moving the land office was central to the plan to build the capital. One way to get people to move to a town is to offer something that they have to have. A federal land office was a big deal in 1818.

The 1818 exploration connects to the founding of Fayette County in 1819. The Trace was close enough to Connersville to visibly impact its economy and population.

For a time, Jacob's land at Waverly was considered as the site of the new state capital. Had they had a sufficent speedway, perhaps ... .

Jacob's grave is in Morgan County at the "Whetzel Cematary."

Brother Lewis died in Mississippi and is interred near Wheeling, W.Va. A county in West Virginia is named for Lewis Wetzel despite a reputation that modern scholars deem cruel and barbaric. In those early years, his exploits were legend.

Pierce, author of the Wetzel article, writes:

"As was then the custom in the South, he was buried in the front yard of his cabin. His cousin's wife insisted that his rifle be buried with him, saying that a gun that had killed as many as that one had would haunt any house it was kept in." (It was Wetzel's name on the silver plate on the rifle that eventually helped identify the body when it was exhumed.)

One assumes that Jacob was at least as vicious as his brother.

Whetzel's Trace disappeared in the middle 1820s and no evidence of it exists. A state legislative attempt to reimburse Jacob for his work was rejected. He probably didn't complain much.

Nope, not a lot of Fairfield connection, but it's a cool story all the same. -- John

Loper vs. McFarlan

What happened to George Loper is what happened to capitalists who didn't have access to capital.

He was essentially driven out of business by the competition —  namely a hard-driving industrial giant named John McFarlan of Connersville.

McFarlan's story is quite amazing and he's probably the main reason the city became a manufacturing hub that endured for decades. Thousands owed their living to Connersville industries, many of which were in the city as a result of McFarlan's drive.

The story is fairly simple. Loper was making carriages in Fairfield and had decided to open a showroom in Connersville, and he apparently had plans to start making buggies in the city. Not a bad idea, considering ... it was a hub of commerce.

McFarlan was building his own buggies and had the foresight to do more creative marketing of his products. He paid better than Loper did and evidently was the owner of a business that thrived on pilfering away more talented workers. The competition between Loper and McFarlan was genuine, intense and ongoing. Loper pulled back on plans to open a factory in Connersville, since McFarlan had control of most of the industrial necessities —  access to the railroad, natural gas for heating and fuel ... as well as local government support.

By the late 1880s, McFarlan was outdistancing himself from Loper and all other comers in the buggy-carriage industry, which was prominent in most towns across America. The country traveled by horse and buggy. Sales were often confined to local residents, though McFarlan saw the need to expand beyond the local market.

A bit of biography on McFarlan:

He was born in London, England in 1822 and at age 8 moved with his family to Hamilton County, Ohio. Early on, he worked as a carriage blacksmith near Cincinnati before moving to Cambridge City. Soon after his arrival in Connersville in 1856, McFarlan purchased several local buggy and carriage manufacturers. 

In 1857, he organized the McFarlan Carriage Company, which effectively centralized a portion of Connersville's carriage manufacture under his control.

The McFarlan Carriage Company's first factory was located at 6th and Central streets in quarters formerly occupied by the Ware and Vetch Carriage Company, one of the firms McFarlan purchased the previous year. McFarlan remained in the 6th and Central factory for 30 years, but in 1887 the need for room to expand the carriage operation forced him to look for a new factory site. 

McFarlan's initial success in consolidating a number of small carriage firms under his control in 1856-57 led him to attempt a similar move in 1887 when he formed the Connersville Industrial Park. McFarlan intended to attract manufacturers and suppliers of carriage and buggy equipment to the park and thereby lower his own costs while providing a steady market for other manufacturers.

One of the first firms to join the McFarlan Carriage Company in the park was the Ansted Spring Company; Ansted-owned enterprises eventually dominated manufacturing in the park. 


An 1898 history stated the McFarlan carriage firm employed 400 hands and had an annual capacity of 12,000 vehicles. The firm's products were distributed across the country and included numerous factory branches, chief among them two showrooms located in Council Bluffs, Iowa and Kansas City, Mo. The firm's carriage tags read "New York Grade," McFarlan Carriage Co., Connersville Ind.

McFarlan became a very BIG shot in Fayette County and he did everything right. His industrial park lured many companies that supplied parts and services for his buggy company. Companies that would eventually join the automobile industry set up shop there. McFarlan had also cornered the market on natural gas, which had been piped in from Rush County.

At the time of his death in 1909, McFarlan was president of the McFarlan Carriage Co., the Connersville Blower Co., the Connersville Natural Gas Co., the Connersville Land and Improvement Co., the Fayette Banking Co., and the McFarlan Building Co.

When the buggy industry began to falter, his company built automobiles. The 1909 McFarlan Six was quite the car, selling for about $2,000.

Later on as the industry matured, McFarlan was a luxury automobile owned by celebrities of the day such as William Desmond Taylor, Wallace Reid, Fatty Arbuckle, Paul Whiteman, Jack Dempsey and Virginia governor E. Lee Trinkle. Al Capone bought a McFarlan for his wife, Mae, in 1924 and bought a second one in 1926.

McFarlan died a month after the company's first car was introduced.

George Loper, meanwhile, was outgunned, outfinanced and outlasted.

Rex Buggy Company

The tangled connections among various manfacturers related to the buggy industry are diverse.

"The Rex Buggy Mfg.Co. was organized in 1898 with an authorized capital stock of $65,000 by Charles C. Hull and a group of Connersville and Indianapolis businessmen who included William H. Harris, Herman Munk, Col. James E. Roberts, and Frank G. Volz. They purchased the former Munk & Roberts Furniture Company factory and began crafting horse-drawn buggies and light carriages that were marketed under the Rex and Yale trade names."

That lasted awhile ... until ....

Connersville, Ind., June 9, 1916 — The Rex Buggy Co., of this city, which for many years has been actively engaged in the buggy business, has now practically ceased all activities in connection with the horsedrawn vehicle and has turned over the entire plant to the manufacture of car tops, and the trimming and painting of bodies.

If you've heard of Connersville Rex, this would be the place.

Loper vs. McFarlan, the fight

An excerpt from "Custom Built by McFarlan: A History of the Carriage and Automobile," by  Richard A. Stanley (2012): 

"Excitement at the (Fayette County) fairgrounds wasn't limited to viewing the exhibits and socializing. Bantering back and forth among exhibitors over whose product was the best was a common pastime that was usually given and taken in good humor, but could lead to flaring tempers and fisticuffs or more serious eruptions. Such was the case at the 1881 county fair. The account in one of the local newspapers read as follows:

"Some of the employees of the carriage factories of J.B. McFarlan, of this city, and George Loper, of Fairfield indulged in a row Thursday afternoon  on the fairgrounds over the merits of the work on exhibition  from their respective shops. Fortunately the fracas was quelled before much blood was let. The arm of the law apparently felt the situation should not be passed over as the "McFarlan boys" who participated in the fight were charged with inciting a riot. The case was settled a few months later in January 1882, when the local court acquitted them of the charge.

"Both J.B. McFarlan and George Loper had records of high quality workmanship and had previously won premiums at the county fair. The workers that were involved were showing a certain amount of pride by their actions, but nobody else found it to be acceptable behavior at an event geared for family entertainment.

"The 1882 County Fair was apparently less exciting as there was no record of anyone running afoul of the law. However, McFarlan found it to be quite profitable as he sold 16 vehicles to fairgoers. Those purchasing side-bar buggies were Lee Roberts, Horry Clifford, Charles Jackson, Elijah Jemison, Berry Meek, Wellington Beeson, Lycurgus Beeson, John Murphy, Alf Corbin, W.V. Spivey, Clark Porter, William Rertch, and Lewis Simler.  Alex Edwards and Doc Sparks each purchased a Jagger wagon and J.H. Manlove a platform Kellog."

Sources: Diverse, most of which contain similar content in varied formats. The Connersville Chamber of Commerce produced a book for the city's bicentennial celebration of 2013. I'd gamble that the Fayette County library can help you with that. There are books on the Connersville sesqui (1963) available on

A website called COACHBUILT.COM is a very interesting way to squander time.

Here are some ads and photos I've snipped from that website.

-- John


An early McFarlan

A 1917 McFarlan ($5,300!)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Loper, the carriage maker

What we remember as the old "buggy factory" in downtown Fairfield was actually once a quite thriving business in an industry that demanded excellence in style and durability.

It was pre-automobile.

Leather working, harness making, blacksmithing ... all tools of a very important trade. These were horse carriages, not to be confused with the horseless variety that uses too much gas, pollutes the air and is great for some of the best commercials on television.

A number of men were engaged in the leather business, but chief among them was the fabled George Loper.

Loper Carriage Manufacturing.

The 1882 Franklin County Atlas devotes a section to Loper, which meant that he was a man of some prominence, socially and politically, in the Franklin County area.

Among the enterprising business men of this couny ranks Mr. George Loper. he was born in Fairfield, October, 19, 1829, the son of Oliver and Hester Loper, nee Baxter. They came to this county in 1818 from New Jersey.

His youth was passed on the farm until his twenty-fifth year, when he began life on his own account. On April 29, 1853, he was married to Miss Susanna Harrell, daughter of William Harrell, of Fayette County, this State. Their family consists of Mary, Lorea, Louis, William, Douglas, Pleasant, Minnie and Amos.

In 1854, he spent one year in the tannery business and then four years in the carpentering business. In 1856, he started the manufacture of carriages and buggies, beginning in a very small way.

He has, by arduous labor and strict attention to business, secured one of the largest and finest trades in this section of country. 

The first year he only turned out some five or six jobs, now the capacity of the factory is some 200 buggies per annum. 

He has a show room in Connersville, and his turn outs are recognized and well known throughout this entire section. 

In politics, he is a strong supporter of the Democratic Party, and always takes great interest in the affairs of that political organization. His son, Louis was admitted as a partner in the carriage factory July 1, 1882.

What we know about Loper is that he and his family are buried in the Sims-Brier Cemetery east of Fairfield. Loper was originally buried in Brier; he died in 1904.

How thriving was his business? It would appear that producing 200 buggies in a year's time (about one a weekday) would have been substantial but I can't determine the extent of that without knowing his resources or available labor force. His sons were part of his business.

The main factory was in the building just to the east of the Fairfield town square. The larger building on the corner was the warehouse and showroom.

I did discover that a tidbit about Loper's business appeared in an 1892 copy of the Hub, which was the carriage industry's publication of choice.

WANTED--George Loper & Sons, Connersville, Ind., have received a flattering offer to move their carriage manufactory to Rushville.

I am so far unable to determine when his business in Fairfield ended, though an item in "Fairfield: Town Under The Lake" says at least two fires struck the Loper factory though neither was devastating.

I have read that it was not uncommon for buyers of carriages to visit Fairfield and stay several days in the town's hotel while their buggies were being trimmed.

The 1890s, "the Gay Nineties," was the decade of the distinguished carriage. There were dozens of styles. An early ad says he also built "spring wagons."

The 1892 trade publication "The Hub" is loaded with advertising and industry news. I've found it online though it's rather cumbersome to read. Nonetheless, I've harvested some advertising that shows the scope of products and materials that a carriage-maker would need.

Varnish seemed to be a pretty big deal.

The gasoline engine had been invented but it would be awhile before Henry Ford made it affordable to the masses.

As George would say: "Any color you want, as long as it's black."

The sketch at the top of the page is from the 1884 county Atlas. Apparently it was an advertisement. Extremely detailed artwork. The actual Fairfield buggy factory (left) looked vaguely like the building on the right in the drawing. I have no details on the fate the larger building.

You can actually buy that drawing (and many others, as well as maps) for around 20 bucks.


A few advertisements from the 1892 issue of "The Hub."

The lake, some particulars

Amid the history of Fairfield, it doesn't go without saying that the reason the history is important is because it abruptly ended. Most communities have a history and watch it slither past without as much as a nod of the head. Too bad.

Once it's gone, it's gone.

But Fairfield was lost to the lake. What about that lake? Here's a little background. Without it, this history might be slithering past without so much as a nod of the head.

Brookville Reservoir
The Brookville Reservoir became operational in 1974. The maximum depth of the reservoir is 140 feet, with the average depth being 30 feet. The reservoir is fed by the Whitewater River and other tributaries, such as Templeton's Creek, Hanna Creek, Dubois Creek and Silver Creek.

From the Indiana DNR web site: 

"The Whitewater River may have been misnamed because there is really no true white water on the river. However, there are many rapids due to the steep gradient present. In fact, the Whitewater is said to be the swiftest river in the state as it falls an average of 6 feet per mile."

The DNR report further describes the river at its source and its conjunction with the West Fork:

"The river in southern Randolph and Wayne Counties and flows in two main branches which are scarcely 10 miles apart as they flow southward before joining just south of Brookville. From there, the Whitewater flows southeasterly into Ohio where it eventually joins the Miami River, a tributary of the Ohio River." 

The watershed is generally steep. The river was formed as the retreating glacial ice sheet dumped its meltwater to flow toward the Ohio River. Thick deposits of sand and gravel resulted and still characterize the river’s bottom today."

The reservoir

Construction of Brookville Lake began in 1965 and the reservoir began operating in 1974. The purpose of the reservoir was to control flooding in the Whitewater Valley and control flows into the Ohio River. The lake is also a municipal water supply for the region.

The reservoir is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Land surrounding the reservoir is leased to the Indiana DNR for recreation and wildlife management.

The Corps of Engineers also manages the lake level. The DNR leases the acreage surrounding the lake from the Corps. The Corps lends staff and program support to the lake and its naturalist and interpretive programs.

Source: A DNR Interpretive handout.

(Top) The dam just north of Brookville is 2,800 feet long, 180 feet high and is made of earthen fill.
(Middle) The lake at the Fairfield Causeway. The light-colored area is the natural channel of the East Fork.
(Bottom) The Fairfield Marina is just west of where the town was located.




Quakertown was originally called Millville, and was one of two communities to be lost to the reservoir project.

A bit of conflicting history, which isn't unusual, claims that the town was established by the Test family in the early 19th century. An article in the 1884 Union County Atlas says a Quaker named Nathan Henderson was the first settler. We will split the difference and say both of them were on the spot when the first fence railing was cut. The Test family cast a visibly larger shadow, for what that is worth.

Research suggests that the name of the town is in deference to the fact that no Society of Friends church ever existed in Quakertown, though Quakers were prominent across Union County in that time. There was a Quaker church in Fayette County and the sect was eventually quite prominent in Wayne County, notably Richmond and Centerville. As well, the Quakers tended to attract other like-minded sects, abolitionists such as the Universalists.

But the town had a Methodist Church ...

According to an article in "Fairfield: The Town Under The Lake":

"Services were conducted in the upper story. The room was furnished with settees on one side of the main aisle, and they were occupied by the ladies. On the other side were rather crude benches with straight backs, and the men and the boys sat there. An organ furnished the music, and a platform at one end of the room served as the pulpit.

"The building that housed the Quakertown store was destroyed by fire in 1911 while being operated by the Stanton brothers, sons of the original owner. Kirkwood and Wade Stanton built a new structure, using the existing foundation and that store remained in business until the automobile made it possible for their patrons to go to larger trade areas."

A church was built in 1892. (Photo courtesy Marilyn Luke Gausman)

According to History of Union County, 1821-1988, the Stanton's building remained empty for some time until George Bridenhager, Liberty attorney and postmaster, purchased it for use as a summer home for his family. When it was learned that the Brookville Lake would be a reality, the Bridenhagers sold the building to the Treaty Line Museum, located in Dunlapsville. (That will be explored in another blog entry, but the building is on display.)

In the article, resident John Coffman described Quakertown:

It was a scenic town, and there were a few houses on the hill. There were two roads running through the town, the main road and one heading up the hill. They were known simply as the low road and high road. On the corner of the low road was a huge building that served as many things over the years, including a store and a mill. Next to that building was a stone foundation with a railroad spike hammered high into the wall. That spike reportedly marked the water level of the 1913 Flood.

Oldest grave

An article that appeared in the April 16, 1869, Brookville American claimed the death of Zaccherus Stanton, at age 90. He was the oldest man in Union County. The same writer has the following: The oldest grave yard in Union County is almost half a mile below here (Quakertown) on the East bluff of the river on the farm owned by Bennett Osborn. The first white person ever buried in the valley or country of the East Fork of the Whitewater was at this grave yard. Her name was Annie Cunningham, a young lady about 17 years of age. She was buried in the fall of the year 1807…The first frame house ever built in Union County is still in existence, and is now owned and occupied by John W. Maze, about one mile south-west of here. It was built by our highly esteemed and venerable old pioneer, Adam Pigman, Esq.”

Union County Atlas of 1882 adds this:

This village is situated near the northern boundary of the township ... and is the principal commercial point, being the natural center of a large and thrifty neighborhood.

It consists of a flouring mill, store, post office and blacksmith shop. Its natural advantages are inviting to the capitalist and businessman, having, in addition to what has been mentioned, the best natural site for hydraulic power of any point on the river.

The first settler on this site was a Quaker by the name of Nathan Henderson, who built the first mill of the place, which was quite a rde affair, containing one run of buhrs (a hard rock for making millstones).

Here, the Quaker did a small business; so slowly did the mill grind that it was a saying among the old settlers, that "the mill would grind one grain -- and then grind another."

This mill or at least the mill site, finally fell into the hands of Samuel Test. In 1826, it was quite a mill, having two run of buhrs.

It changed hands a number of times and is now owned by Paul Gardner.

There was also a woolen factory and carding machine (for combing wool) operated here by Samuel Test, Jr., and an oil mill.

Subsequently, Benjamin Bond became possessor of the woolen factory, and in 1848 Zaccheus Stanton & Sons, who operated it until 1857, when the machinery was sold and a general store started in the building, by J.M. Stanton, who was in April, 1866, commissioned the first Postmaster of Quakertown, and who is the present incumbent.




An 1880s map of Quakertown. The Mullin family was among the early settlers in Fairfield Township, which included Harmony Township until 1821, when Union County was formed. Quakertown was the only settlement in Harmony Township.

Prior to 1934 when Indiana SR101 was built, one left Fairfield (not shown) and headed north on the road (follow the red line) to Quakertown. This map shows that a traveler would cross the river three times. Apparently the road was built more for local value than for efficiency of distance.

-- John


  • Diverse, with the photo of the marina at the top the product of a general internet search. There is no shortage of "marina" photos to be shared. 
  • "Fairfield: The Town Under The Lake" is available at the Brookville library and contains hundreds of photos, stories and recollections. (I am a contributor.) 
  • As well, various old atlases, county histories and websites have added valuable information. 
  • More information about Quakertown and the lake project is available at the libraries in Brookville ancd Liberty (Union County.) 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


The non-existent town of Philomath is useful for a Fairfield history for no real apparent reason.

It's just interesting, is all.

First off, Philomath actually doesn't exist. It was supposed to exist and it almost existed, and the people who wanted it to exist were downright doggedly determined to make it exist.

It just didn't.

The word means "lover of learning," and that's effectively what the place set out to be, after an original attempt to call it "Bethleham." One would suppose that "Bethleham" (or "Bethlehem") had already been taken.

It's in Union County, a few crow hops north of Brownsville, and it currently has a couple of farmhouses. But a 19th century map shows it was platted with streets, and a "college" lot that makes Philomath more interesting than just rudimentary trivia.

Its founders were the Rev. Jonathan Kidwell and Joseph Adams, who in 1832 posted a notice in a Cincinnati newspaper:

"Know ye that we, the undersigned,have purchased the town plat of Bethlem, Union Co., Ind., and intend to lay off and attach the said plat to the town of Philomath. All persons having claims on the said plat of Bethleham, will attend to this notion, come forward and establish their caim, or forever hold their peace."

So, in June 1833, Philomath was born and a man named Nathanial Chapman opened a grocery and gin mill.

Kidwell had an agenda. He was a Universalist minister and was in charge of spreading the word of the church across the southeastern corner of Indiana. He worked hard to make Philomath succeed.

The proprieters of the village advertised extensively through the press. "All useful mechanics who wish to settle in this village are requested to call and examine for themselves -- millwrights, carpenters, house joiners, masons, cabinet makers, a good book-binder, a tinner -- have choice building lots on a good credit, at a fair price and pay for the same in their own professional labor. Strangers are requested to bring credentials of their moral character, as none but men of sober habits and good morals will be employed, and all such will find it to their interest to give us a call."

Kidwell and Adams wanted to turn the town into an educational utopia, the seat of the "Western Union Seminary" -- the place where the Universalist creed could be studied, promoted and advanced.

Kidwell's "seminary" didn't ever amount to much, if anything. The town plat shows it's on the map, but it was probably nothing more than a cabin in the woods where Kidwell ran a printing press promoting his Universalist doctrine. The church did hold a "regional" conference there, but one wonders exactly how that worked.

The Universalists were strict abolitionists (as were the Quakers and Presbyterians) and were significantly more creative in their approach to Christianity. Their philosophy was effectively just an open-door policy, guaranteeing salvation for everyone based on the principle of an abiding and benevolent divine creator. The sect endures in different forms today.

Kidwell's reach is rather broad, from Richmond southward to Cincinnati. A Universalist church was founded in 1840 in Fairfield and existed for about six years and guess who its minister was?


The Universalists established churches in several towns in the Whitewater Valley with a fairly large one in the area east of Billingsville near College Corner, Ohio.

The "College Lot" was where the learning occurred. Some reports, however, claimed that visitors to the town didn't find the place to be "very smart." Note that everything was taxed as "farm property."

Sources on this are varied, including an 1884 Union County Atlas and the Indiana Magazine of History. 

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

The Franklin County Atlas from the 1880s is brimming with interesting tidbits, maps, stories, details ... just some very fun reading. The books are about 18 inches by 24 inches and the ones on file are reprints of the originals.

I came across this offering from the "publisher" of the book, who isn't identified. This one is titled


In searching for old fragments of local history here in the Whitewater Valley, one occasionally hears, or sees in print, something regarding the above occurrence. Perhaps the only account of it, here, is preserved in the papers of Mr. Wiley, from which liberal quotations have been made in this work. He says:

"The same fall in which the battle of Tippecanoe was fought (1812), the whole Western country was shaken by earthquakes of a severe kind. These lasted the largest part of a year, in which we could have occasional shakes, but they were not so severe after the winter passed by. The first shock was on Sunday night, or rather Monday morning. I and my family were asleep when the cracking and jarring of the house awakened us, and I saw the cradle rocking in the midst of the floor, without any hand touching it. I was then living in part of my father's house, and I and my brothers started up to search for a file of newspapers in which we remembered to have seen some articles on earthquakes. We found the articles, and they assured us that there was no danger from this phenomenon, unless in mountainous regions, and we went to bed and slept quietly.

"We day arrived, I felt anxious to have another shake, that I might witness its appearance by daylight, and I was soon gratified, for after we had finished feeding the animals, I was leaning against the fence, I felt it begin to shake, and looking at the barn, I saw it shake fearfully.

"This shake satisfied my curiosity, and I would have been glad for the to have been the last, but the thing having begun did not end so readily, for in February we had shakes still more terrible. We were at a loss to account for the "seat of Empire" of these shocks; we were sure from the movements it could not be in the Allegheny Mountains, and we though the Rocky Mountains too far off.

"After some weeks of suspense, we learned that the seat of rivers was in the Lower Mississippi Valley. This destroyed our faith in the newspaper articles. We concluded that if fire and rivers could burst up from under the Mississippi, that the Ohio, or even the Whitewater might be disturbed in a similar manner.

"The whole country became alarmed, and the most hardened sinners began to tremble and quake, and go to meeting, and weep and pray. There was one man named William Ramsey who I had regarded as one of the most profane and wicked men I ever knew, who became as tame and timid as a lamb. he afterward became a useful preacher, and continued sofor years, while he remained in our part of the country."

* * *

OK, the facts are:

The New Madrid earthquakes allegedly caused church bells to ring hundreds of miles from its epicenter. The Mississippi River reportedly ran backward. Had this been a modern quake, the devastation would have been incalculable.

What "Mr. Wiley" is describing would have been, at best, frightening in a time when the news was usually 6 months late. The article did not say where "Mr. Wiley" lived.

The first quake occurred in December, 1811. The battle for Tippecanoe was fought about that time and was considered important in the battle when the Shawnee leader known as the Prophet claimed it to be an omen for victory. (That didn't happen.)

A series of major shocks occurred well into the next year.

"The area of strong shaking associated with these shocks is two to three times as large as that of the 1964 Alaska earthquake and 10 times as large as that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Because there were no seismographs in North America at that time, and very few people in the New Madrid region, the estimated magnitudes of this series of earthquakes vary considerably and depend on modern researchers' interpretations of journals, newspaper reports, and other accounts of the ground shaking and damage."

-- US Geological Survey


From Cedar Grove to Connersville

One of the earliest settlers in Indiana was John Conner, an opportunistic man who laid claim on major portions of prairie north of what was to become Indianapolis. Conner was heavily invested in trade with the native Indians and carved out vast areas of commerce in the early 1800s.

Conner has no unique connection to Fairfield but one should assume that settlers in the East Fork valley would have known him and traded with him, or the native Shawnee who knew Conner. The town of Connersville was platted around 1808, the year Brookville was founded as a town. Connersville was platted as a town in 1813.

One of Conner's first ventures in the Whitewater Valley was at an area near where Cedar Grove was eventually founded. In 1808, he opened a trading post there. A Franklin County Atlas from 1882 describes an adventure at the store.

So goes the story:

Conner's store ... was the scene of many an early incident in the history of the county and Whitewater Valley; the story recently published in a local newspaper and entitled "The Little White Squaw--A Tradition of Early Times in Franklin County," had its origin at this trading post. The narrative has some probable foundation in part, and serves to illustrate the characters of the men and times under consideration. A few extracts are here given with such comments as are necessary to tell the story in the fewest words:

"During the latter portion of the last and the first of the present century, there stood on the river bank, about half a mile upstream from what is now the town of Cedar Grove, a trading post, known as Conner's Post. At present, all trace of it is gone, even the ground on which it stood has been swept away by the shifting river. After it was vacated, the trader, Conner, went farther up the river, establishing another post at the place where our neighboring city of Connersville is now situated, and from him the town received its name.


"The structure was rudely and strongly built of logs, containing for barter those few necesities required by the first settlers and many trinkets and bright woven materials to attract the Indians and exchange for furs. Chiefest among these commodities were powder, lead and whisky.


"At this post the trapper, scout and hunter would meet and relate their various experiences and purchase their supplies, and often the squalid Indian, too, would idle away the hours in lounging and drinking.

"Thus it happened on a sunny autumn afternoon, when a few men were seated upon boxes, benches and barrels, conversing with a tall, powerful savage with a grim and evil countenance, who for want of a better name may be style 'The Wolf.' He deposited a small quantity of furs and asked for liquor in return, and having received it he immediately swallowed a portion of it and sat down glancing furtively here and there, his black eyes flashing with a metallic glitter.

"He seemed to be known and disliked by the whites, as they seemed to be hated and suspected by him. he drank freely of the intoxicant, and, as his brain became elated with it, he forgot his cunning and grew garrulous and boastful, seeking to awe the hunters by stories of his powers and of what to him were his mighty deeds of valor, but which, in reality, were thefts and murders, executed, oftener through treachery and cunning than any boldness on his part.

"Stopping every few sentences to refreshen his throat and memory with potent drafts o the whisky, he boasted exultingly (sic) of securing scalp after scalp, until he led up to what he gloried in as his grandest feat of arms, which victory procured for him the most beautiful of all the scalps which hung in his lodge.

"The Indian finally boasted of having killed and scalped a beautiful young white girl; told all the cursed details as only a drunken Indian can tell such particulars.

"The reader can see how that Indian had made one egregious blunder, in thus giving publicity to such a secret, in such a party.

"At the termination of the narrative some of the white men sprang to their feet with bitter curses on the red demon, whose heart was a stone, and while the hands of all sought gun and knife, the trader hurried forward, and a grey-haired scout, with a fierce determined look, pointed up the river trail and said, 'Wait.'


"The vaunting savage dimly understanding that he had told too much, struggled to his feet, and after again drinking freely of the liquor, purchased a quantity of powder and lead, and staggered away from the post up the trail.

"It will not be necessary to follow the Indian very far on his course, because he came to a sudden halt about sunset, at which time a sharp report rang out, a puff of blue smoke floated heaven-ward, a heavy body fell to earth. Two hours later, the moon rose up and sent down through the branches long slanting rays of light that touched red stains which were not drifted sumac leaves. The Indian was never seen again; none of the white men at the post ever questioned whither he had gone."

Some links to Conner





Monday, February 16, 2015

The Thompson tale

Fairfield's most famous author had almost no real connection to the town, though his legend extends quite a distance.

James Maurice Thompson, usually just referred to as Maurice, was the author of a novel called "Alice of Old Vincennes," a rousing epic about a girl and a priest in the western Indiana territory in the time of the American Revolution.

Maurice, though born in Fairfield, didn't live there very long. His father, a man known as "Old Thompson," was a Baptist preacher.

"Old" was Grigg Matthew Thompson, eldest son of Wilson Thompson who had been one of the most eloquent and influential Primitive Baptist ministers of the Midwest.

According to a Scholarworks article published by Indiana University about Maurice's grandfather, Wilson Thompson ...

After years of itinerant preaching and wandering in Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio, Wilson Thompson settled in the Connersville area about 1834 when he was in his middle forties. He still preached in many churches and was often minister to several at one time. In counties adjacent to Fayette, Rush and Franklin for example, he was long remembered as an oracle from afar, called in to revitalize flagging faith with thunderbolts of oratory.

"Old," the son, attempted to carry on his father's mission, with marginal success as the winds of religion had begun to shift. The Primitives were usually in disagreement about doctrine, it would seem.

Young Maurice rambled through life as he and his brother Will tried to distance themselves from the Primitive Baptist culture. The Methodists and Presbyterians were far more influential in those years, most research concludes.

More about Maurice:

The outlines of his life help to explain his inner, personal complications. His father had been a strong-minded, strong-bodied Baptist minister who was living at Fairfield, Indiana, when James Maurice Thompson was born in 1844. Some 10 years later the family settled in Georgia where the Thompsons had acquired a plantation and lived as back-country aristocrats. Thompson's early education included some tutoring in the classics and liberal arts. But the family may have felt insecure in these years. They were never firmly established Southerners. He served three years in the Confederate army (a very young veteran of the battle of Chickamauga), but after the war he could find no future for himself in the South. 

Eventually, he did get elected to a single term (1879) in the Indiana General Assembly, as a Democrat.

In 1900, Maurice visited Vincennes and researched the people and time, wrote "Alice" and became a literary hero for a time. He died a year later.

He had, along the way, other published works that were met with indifference. He also became somewhat of an expert in falconry and archery techniques.

His personal beliefs are more complex, and he was ambivalent in some areas about slavery, calling it evil in the abstract but genuinely romantic as it applied to the Southern way of life. In effect, he was a literal racist.

For the pure Negroes there is hope for a very gradual development along certain lines. As makers of policy and leaders of a community, they have no real potential whatever. They are created to be ruled and to make their contribution to society in their own way, primarily as servants and entertainers.

"Alice," as a novel is dated in its use of grammar and sentence structure, but it's still compelling literature.

From literary critic Charles B. Lasselle in 1908:

The story of "Alice of Old Vincennes" ... is so realistic that a number of the writer's friends hare requested him to point out such characters and events as would justify its claim of being an "historical romance." As to Alice herself, she was a real person, well known to the early inhabitants of Vincennes. Her real name was Mary Shannon. She was the daughter of Captain William Shannon, one of Colonel George Rogers Clark's most patriotic and gallant officers. 

How do we know "Alice" was real?

Lasselle says Thompson actually knew her. Or, Mary Shannon.

(Thompson) knew "Alice" well in her old age. It so happened that her youngest son, named William Shannon, after her father, and (Thompson) were playmates together, and their families being near neighbors, he often visited her house. In her personal appearance and character she was well described by the author. But he states several times that she was not to be regarded as beautiful. The writer would have thought otherwise, and that in her girlhood days she must have been a beautiful girl. The most prominent features of her character were her independence and kindness. She was, in fact, such a woman that the men would have called her "grand old lady" and the ladies "a sweet old lady.

-- John



We know this building served as a Baptist church about ... well, a zillion years ago. It was located just west of the covered bridge on the road to Blooming Grove. We always thought it was just an old corn crib. Jim Senefeld took this and many other priceless photos of the valley. Could this have been the "Old" Thompson church? 

Some "Alice" characters as Thompson presented them in the story:

* Alice Roussillon was tall, lithe, strongly knit, with an almost perfect figure, judging by what the master sculptors carved for the form of Venus, and her face was comely and winning, if not absolutely beautiful; but the time and the place were vigorously indicated by her dress, which was of coarse stuff and simply designed. Plainly she was a child of the American wilderness, a daughter of old Vincennes on the Wabash in the time that tried men's souls.

* Men like Gaspard Roussillon are of a distinct stamp. Take him as he was. Born in France, on the banks of the Rhone near Avignon, he came as a youth to Canada, whence he drifted on the tide of adventure this way and that, until at last he found himself, with a wife, at Post Vincennes, that lonely picket of religion and trade, which was to become the center of civilizing energy for the great Northwestern Territory. M. Roussillon had no children of his own; so his kind heart opened freely to two fatherless and motherless waifs. These were Alice, now called Alice Roussillon, and the hunchback, Jean. The former was twelve years old, when he adopted her, a child of Protestant parents, while Jean had been taken, when a mere babe, after his parents had been killed and scalped by Indians. 

*Madame Roussillon, a professed invalid, whose appetite never failed and whose motherly kindness expressed itself most often through strains of monotonous falsetto scolding, was a woman of little education and no refinement; while her husband clung tenaciously to his love of books, especially to the romances most in vogue when he took leave of France.

* Although Father Beret was for many years a missionary on the Wabash, most of the time at Vincennes, the fact that no mention of him can be found in the records is not stranger than many other things connected with the old town's history. He was, like nearly all the men of his calling in that day, a self-effacing and modest hero, apparently quite unaware that he deserved attention. He and Father Gibault, whose name is so beautifully and nobly connected with the stirring achievements of Colonel George Rogers Clark, were close friends and often companions. Probably Father Gibault himself, whose fame will never fade, would have been to-day as obscure as Father Beret, but for the opportunity given him by Clark to fix his name in the list of heroic patriots who assisted in winning the great Northwest from the English.

* Long-Hair was not a young man; but it would have been impossible to guess near his age. His form and face simply showed long experience and immeasurable vigor. Alice remembered with a shuddering sensation the look he gave her when she took the locket from his hand. It was of but a second's duration, yet it seemed to search every nook of her being with its subtle power. Romancers have made much of their Indian heroes, picturing them as models of manly beauty and nobility; but all fiction must be taken with liberal pinches of salt. The plain truth is that dark savages of the pure blood often do possess the magnetism of perfect physical development and unfathomable mental strangeness; but real beauty they never have. Their innate repulsiveness is so great that, like the snake's charm, it may fascinate; yet an indescribable, haunting disgust goes with it. And, after all, if Alice had been asked to tell just how she felt toward the Indian she had labored so hard to save, she would promptly have said: "I loathe him as I do a toad!" 

* It is safe to say that Rene de Ronville went home with a troublesome bee in his bonnet. He was not a bad-hearted fellow. Many a right good young man, before him and since, has loved an Adrienne and been dazzled by an Alice. A violet is sweet, but a rose is the garden's queen. The poor youthful frontiersman ought to have been stronger; but he was not, and what have we to say?

* Lieutenant Fitzhugh Beverley was a Virginian of Virginians. His family had long been prominent in colonial affairs and boasted a record of great achievements both in peace and in war. He was the only son of his parents and heir to a fine estate consisting of lands and slaves; but, like many another of the restless young cavaliers of the Old Dominion, he had come in search of adventure over into Kentucky, along the path blazed by Daniel Boone; and when Clark organized his little army, the young man's patriotic and chivalrous nature leaped at the opportunity to serve his country under so gallant a commander.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tidbits, trivia

In varying degrees, the people who came to Indiana during the early years had an impact on the development of Fairfield, though it's not a classic that-makes-sense logic.

In truth, Fairfield's location limited its growth and certainly its ethnic and social diversity. The explanations are more clear with a cursory study of what was going on, where and by whom.

In the early 1800s, settlement was driven by an influx of white Protestants who were eager to (a.) find new futures and (b.) remove themselves from the economics of Southern slavery.

The economy that followed was agrarian. Timber, livestock, trade with the native Indians. Those first settlers were building dreams, not industry.

As Indiana matured and its population soared, so did its needs. Slowly, county seats were formed, towns established, roads cut from the forest and commerce expanded. By the 1830s, Indiana was ready to take its place.

Again, how this impacted Fairfield is simply a matter of connecting dots ... because the reality was that it did NOT affect Fairfield, unless you conjure up some what-if's.

Fairfield wasn't close enough to the middle of the action to actively profit from it and, by nature of that, did NOT profit from it.

Two major groups of people moved into the Whitewater Valley during the 1830s, both of whom essentially set up shop elsewhere for completely different reasons.

One group, the Quakers, came to Indiana to bolster the abolitionist movement that had sprung up in the decades prior to the Civil War. They came west on what was to be known as the National Road (U.S. 40) that came through ... Richmond, Wayne County.

The National Road (Cumberland Road) was actually begun in 1811, the same year that Franklin County was formed. Originally, it was simply a route to the Ohio River from the Potomac. Later, in the 1830s, it was rebuilt and headed west.

Among other components of this rather large movement of settlers was a standard Friends philosophy against hedging on their principles. Indiana Yearly Meeting of Orthodox Friends in 1837, "cautioned against joining with others not of our society, lest the standing of Friends as a peculiar people, separate from the world, be compromised."

In other words, don't hang around with people from Fairfield, who are not Quakers.

The other more significant group who came to the Whitewater Valley in the 1830s were Germans, both Catholic and Lutheran. Mostly, they had been lured to America because economics in Europe had largely been shifted toward a factory culture. Farmers and small shop owners were finding it impossible to thrive.

Religious sects migrated, especially the Old Lutherans of northern Germany, to avoid being united with the Reformed churches. Still others fled because they were political refugees. The latter were usually university-trained men with a zeal for liberty and democracy. The Germans regarded the West as a land of opportunity.

They came to America, armed with dedication and spirit, and found work building the Whitewater Canal, the "stream of dreams." They settled in Franklin County, in Highland and Ray townships, depending on their faith.

Fairfield's problem was that it wasn't close enough to the work or the road to the work.

Some other interesting tidbits about the migration of the 1830s:

* Since the roads were better, the weather more favorable, and the food more plentiful in the autumn, farmers were urged to move with their teams and wagons at this season.

* According to the Indiana Gazetteer or Topographical Dictionary of 1833, Brookville had 600 people, two gristmills, a sawmill, a cotton factory, a carding machine, five stores, three taverns, four lawyers, three doctors and a "large number" of artisans. (Only three taverns?)

* Fayette County established two new towns during the 1830s, Columbia and Berlin. (Neither is to be confused with Metropolis.)

* In 1838 Connersville's population was around 500 with "seven mercantile stores, one drug store, four taverns, four lawyers, four physicians, and two printing offices, besides mechanics of all kinds." (Only four lawyers?)

* Union County incorporated its county seat, Liberty with a population of around 500, and laid out one other town, Philomath, during the 1830s.  (Philomath? Yes, Philomath.)

* In Wayne County, Hagerstown and Cambridge City were laid out and both were on the canal route. Richmond platted earlier was growing by leaps and bounds. In 1832 it had a population of 1,252, and the next year it reportedly boasted an increase of 488. (They were actually lying about that, research concludes.)

* In 1822-23 delegates from Randolph, Wayne, Union, Franklin, Fayette and Dearborn counties met at Harrison, Ohio, to consider building a canal. The leader of this group was Augustus Jocelyn, a minister, and publisher of the Western Agriculturalist at Brookville. Jocelyn utilized his paper to create an interest in behalf of internal improvements within the valley. (By the way, the little drainage ditch that remains is far inferior to the overall scope of the actual canal.)

Sources: Indiana Magazine for History
Map is of the route for the original National Road. More on that: