Henry County, Indiana
The following pages are the result of a desire to collect and preserve facts connected with the early history and growth of our county, which are constantly becoming more difficult to obtain, as the pioneers of the county are rapidly passing away. It is not supposed, however, that what has been done in these pages is all that can be done in this direction, as I have met with several persons since portions of the work were closed up, who were in possession of a fund of facts of which I would gladly have availed myself at an earlier day.
This pioneer essay, it is hoped, will not close the effort in this direction, but may stimulate some one to begin the collection of material at once, and at no distant day present something more thorough and worthy of our county and the memory of those who have gone before, and through whose patient endurance and hard- ships we now enjoy so many of the blessings of life.
It is proper, also, to state that the work of collecting material was begun late in November last, with a view to issuing only a small pamphlet of some forty or fifty pages at most. It was soon determined to enlarge the scope of the work a little, and it was advertised to contain one hundred pages, and the price fixed accordingly. As fast as the material for the first chapter was collected, the "copy" was placed in the hands of the compositor, there seldom being so much as five pages ahead, and when one hundred pages were completed, many topics too important to be omitted had not been touched, and now, with nearly one hundred and fifty pages, a large portion of the notes collected, especially those relating to the hardships and incidents of early times, with brief personal sketches of some of the early men of note, have to be omitted in toto. For nearly three months, one hundred and twenty pages have been in the binder's hands, while an unexpected pressure of other work has prevented any attempt to complete the remaining pages till within a few days.
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In the year 1800, "Indiana Territory" was carved out of what was previously known as the "Northwest Territory," and included nearly all of the present States of Indiana and Michigan, and all of Illinois and Wisconsin, and a portion of Minnesota.
The population of all this vast region, according to the census of 1800, was but 4,875. Michigan was erected into a separate territory in 1805, and Illinois in 1800. Previous to the separation of Illinois, the territory had been divi five counties, of which Knox, Dearborn, and Clark were within the present bounds of Indiana, and St. Clair and Randolph constituted Illinois.
In 1807, an enumeration of the "free white males over twenty-one years of age" was had, by which it appears that there were 2,524 within the present limits of the State, which would indicate that the whole population was less than 12,000. Of this number there were 616 white adult males in what was then Dearborn county, which comprised perhaps about one-third of the present limits of the State.
From 1800 to 1813, the seat of government for the territory was at Vineennes. At the latter date, it was removed to Corydon.
By a joint resolution of Congress of December 11, 1816, Indiana was formally admitted to the sisterhood of States. So rapid had been the influx of population for the ten years preceding that the State was estimated to contain 65,000, and by divided Into eighteen counties, although more than three-fourths of the State was still in possession of the Indians. Prior to 1810, the Indian boundary ran east of Centrevllle, Wayne county, and when an additional "Twelve-mile Purchase" extended the limits of civilization to as to include the present sites of Milton, Cambridge City, and almost to Hagarstown, there was quite a flocking to the new country, even in advance of the surveyor. So early as 1811, Thomas Symons had settled at the mouth of a small creek that emptied into West River, between Cambridge and Milton, and his brother Nathan fixed residence at the mouth of another creek that unites with West River above the site of the ancient village of Vandalia. Their early possession of the mouths of these creeks both having their source in Liberty township,) served to attach their names to the streams, and Symons' Creeks were well known to the early settler of this county. Indeed it is highly probable thai of the whole number of persons who entered this county, for the first five years, at least nine-tenths crossed the county line between these streams.
The war with Great Britain, from 1812 to 1815, and the consequent alarm occasioned by the hostile attitude of the Indians all along the frontier, partially broke up the settlements along West River. With the return of peace, however, the settlers returned to their homes, and a rapid increase of emigration at once set in, extending to the very limits of the Twelve-mile Purchase, though it Is probable that no white family intruded itself upon the almost impenetrable wilds within the present limits of Henry county prior to 1819.