History of Fayette County, Indiana

All life and achievement is evolution: present wisdom comes from past experience, and present commercial prosperity has come only from past exertion and sacrifice. The deeds and motives of the men who have gone before ha\e been instrumental in shaping the destinies of later communities and states. The development of a new country was at once a task and a privilege. It required great courage, sacrifice and privation. Compare the present conditions of the people of Fayette county. Indiana, with what the\- were a century ago. From a trackless wilderness and virgin land, the county has come to be a center of prosperity and civilization, with millions of wealth, systems of railways, educational and religious institutions, varied industries and immense agricultural and dairy interests. Can any thinking person be insensible to the fascination of the study which discloses the aspirations and efforts of the early pioneers who so strongly laid the foundation upon which has been reared the magnificent prosperity of later days? To perpetuate the story of these people and to trace and record the social, religious, educational. Political and industrial progress of the community from its first inception, is the function of the local historian. A sincere purpose to preserve facts and personal memoirs that are deserving of perpetuation, and which unite the present to the past, is the motive for the present publication. The publishers desire to extend their thanks to those who have so faithfully labored to this end. Thanks are also due to the citizens of Fayette county, for the uniform kindness with which they have regarded this undertaking, and for their many services rendered in the gaining of necessary information.

 

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I - A SHORT HISTORY OF INDIANA 33
CHAPTER II - GEOLOGY 69
CHAPTER III - HEINEMANN'S RESEARCHES 76
CHAPTER IV - JOHN CONNER 143
CHAPTER V - COUNTY ORGANIZATION 155
CHAPTER VI - OFFICIAL ROSTER OF FAYETTE COUNTY 186
CHAPTER VII - TOWNSHIPS OF FAYETTE COUNTY 214
CHAPTER VIII - TRANSPORTATION 273
CHAPTER IX - AGRICULTURE 283
CHAPTER X - MILITARY HISTORY 298
CHAPTER XI - THE BENCH AND THE BAR 323
CHAPTER XII - THE MEDICAL PROFESSION 334
CHAPTER XIII - BANKS AND BANKING 344
CHAPTER XIV - EDUCATIONAL HISTORY 351
CHAPTER XV - LITTERATEURS AND ARTISTS IN FAYETTE COUNTY 386
CHAPTER XVI - CHURCHES OF FAYETTE COUNTY 398
CHAPTER XVII - THE PRESS OF FAYETTE COUNTY 463
CHAPTER XVIII - FRATERNAL AND BENEVEOLENT SOCIETIES 482
CHAPTER XIX - LITERARY, MUSICAL AND SOCIAL CLUBS 504
CHAPTER XX - THE CITY OF CONNERSVILLE 517
CHAPTER XXI - FAYETTE COUNTY MEN OF A PAST GENERATION 583
CHAPTER XXII - GLIMPSES OF FAYETTE COUNTY 597

 

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Titles are usually indicative of labor and responsibility, but not always. The editor-in-chief of this book respectfully disclaims any just to the responsibilities and labors naturally implied by his title.

There was a time when, with full appreciation of the interest and charm to he found in the history of Fayette county, he accepted a commission to write a of of its founding and progress, to comprise approximately (Hie hundred and fifty thousand words. The pressure tif business with the publisher led to some two and one-half years of delay before it was absolutely positive that the work in full would be needed. In the meantime the mills had turned so fast, and responsibilities had gathered so rapidly, that the undertaking just mentioned was manifestly impossible. A conference took place with the publishers and it was agreed that the association of the work with the name announced as editor-in-chief had gone so far that it would be better for the work not to change this association. Consequently, the publisher proposed, and it was agreed, that a historian of high ability should perform the work and that the duties of editor-in-chief should be reduced to mere consultation and to the reading of so much proof only as was devoted to the general discussion of the county and its institutions, and not including any examination or labor in connection with the biographical department of the work.

The specious philosophy of Alexander Pope declares "whatever is, is right," and so it sometimes proves. Had the writer of this preface really carried out his original plan and written a history of the county which has for so many years been his home, it would have been a far different work from the careful and detailed labor of Dr. Ernest V. Shockley. The county history is valuable, as it gives detailed and specific facts and definite positive items from which the reader shall construct his own picture of days gone by. Such a work Doctor Shockley, by reason of his learning and his association with the historical faculty of Indiana University, was amply qualified to produce.

The immense labor of searching little items of detail from the records of the state offices at Indianapolis, from the county records of Franklin county and of Fayette county, from papers and manuscripts, deeds, wills and mortgages, now well nigh effaced by the obliterating finger of time, were a joy to Doctor Shockley and his assistants, but would have been beyond the possibilities of a man absorbed in other things.

Some day, using Doctor Shockley's data, someone will draw sketches of the typical scenes of our county. He will picture the period of the dogged retreat of the Indian; of the rugged pioneer on the edge of civilization; of the stately days just before the war, and of the grim determination of Fayette county that the Union should be preserved. Some one will picture the story of the old canal, when Market street and the site of the Big Four freight depot and yards was a great pond, in which canal boats stood at their moorings, discharging the cargoes to be distributed throughout all eastern Indiana.

Someone who sees the historic old buildings at the comer of Fifth and Third streets and Central avenue, and who beholds the wide doors from second- and third-story windows, will learn that these were the headquarters of merchant princes handling a quarter of a million dollars a year in merchandise a sum quite equivalent to twenty times that amount under our present conditions.

Someone will some day picture the great herds of cattle, swine and turkeys being driven in from the north and west through Connersville, often miring by the hundred in the ford which was back of where Roots Foundry now stands, in a long pilgrimage to the Cincinnati market. Someone will picture the rattling stage coaches drawing up behind the stately elms which beautified the grounds of the United States Hotel, standing where the Roots building on Central avenue now stands; he may even step within that hostelry and see in conversation the conspicuous figures of that day Senator Smith and the Hon. Sam. Parker, Caleb B. Smith, and not improbably Judge Oliver P. Morton, from the neighboring village of Centerville.

There is also another picture of the days long gone by of which very little actual historic record remains, but legend has it that the great Frenchman, the Marquis de Lafayette, thought it worth his while to visit the home of John Conner on his way to the New Harmony settlement and when one reads the striking accounts given by the circuit riders as to the amount of silver plate displayed in the home of the one-time Indian trader, Conner, one can scarcely doubt that the reception of the great Frenchman was such as he little expected in the remote country village of Connersville.

In the hustle of today's industrial activity, when the keyword is, doing the most in the best and quickest way, the stateliness of another day has passed away. Connersville and Fayette county are fair standards of industrial, commercial and agricultural efficiency, but those of us who are in the thick of the commercial fray of today still love occasionally to think of such reminders of another period as we can recall.

While I am proud of the productivity of our farms and the efficiency of our factories, I still love once in a while to recall the one stately figure I chanced to see in my boyhood the Honorable Benjamin F. Claypool, a gentleman of the old school, a dignified, learned, aristocratic old man, daily marching between his law office and his Central avenue mansion, a heavy, silver-haired figure, with the brow and dignity of a Roman senator, though withal clothed in the more modern garb.

Had I written this history, it no doubt would have been very interesting to me, for it would put in words my admiration for the great men w ho have builded this community. It could not possibly have contained the fund of exact information which Doctor Shockley has secured, and which, in a way, is a monument to the great pioneers like John Conner, the great journalists and radical agitators like Matthew Robinson Hull, the great lawyers like Judge Jeremiah M. Wilson, James C. McIntosh and Reuben Conner, great manufacturers like William Newkirk, John B. McFarlan and Edward W. Ansted, and the great men in every other line of activity who have been in our midst.