John Francis Sprague.

Brief biographies of the members of the Indiana State Government : executive, judicial, and legislative, 1874-5 (Volume yr.1874-1875) online

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Online LibraryJohn Francis SpragueBrief biographies of the members of the Indiana State Government : executive, judicial, and legislative, 1874-5 (Volume yr.1874-1875) → online text (page 1 of 10)
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Brief biographies of the
meme-er5 of the indiana
State Government , . .


or THE

J^ E ni*^ B E I^ s

Contpi'hnemta of

Indianapolis Sentinel Company.


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iNDjANA State Government;







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Allen County Public Library
900 Webster Street \

PC Box 2270
Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270


For the gratification of commendable curiosity on the part of
the public, the Sentinel recently published an eight page supple-
ment containing short sketches of the members of the General
Assembly. That enterprise met with such general favor as to
warrant the thorough revision of those sketches and their repro-
duction under cover, together with the members of theExecutiTe
and Judicial departments of the State Government of Indiana,
outgoing and incoming. The preparation of these sketches for
publication was beset with obstacles not easily surmounted. Some
most meritorious subjects were sketched but briefly because the
necessary data was not accessable. So far as they go, however,
all may be regarded as reliable. It has been the purpose of the
publishers to be impartial and non-partisan, giving each subject
sketched the full benefit of all the material at hand.|




To write the history of the political and public life ot
Governor Hendricks would require a book. It should not
be attempted hero and now, for another reason, viz : Tliat
he is yet in the middle of his public career and the proper
time has not arrived to comment upon it. A mere outline
of the facts on this point may be given as follows: Pro-
fessionally, a lawyer, and a successful one; he was in the
Indiana Legislature from 1845 to 1849, an active member
of the Constitutional Convention of 1850 from Shelby
county, twice elected to Congress, in 1851 and the succeed-
ing term, in 1855 appointed Commissioner of the General
Land OflBce by President Pierce, which position he held
four years, in 1863 chosen to the Senate of the United
States, and in 1872, against his wishes, elected Governor
of the State of Indiana for the term ending January 13
1877. Within this condensed summary is contained a
political history of great activity, and a brilliance which
attracts national attention. There are exciting campaigns,
years of service, memorable acts and speeches which
together mark the man as one of the foremost living states-
men. As such, he is looked upon in the present and
counted on for the future by a people whose confidence
and affection, also, he enjoys in the highest degi'ee. Gov
Hendricks is altogether an Indiana citizen. Born, it is
true, in Ohio, Muskingum county, September 7, 1819
before the end of his first year his father and mother had
come into the Hoosicr State, and his first step in life was
probably made within the present city of Indianapolis.
The family went to Shelby county in 1822 and assaulted


nature in her fortresses yet nnimproved, It was a rough
fight; but healthtul to character. The Governor made the
most of the common schools, and pursued his studies
further in a college of his own State at Hanover, Jeffeason
county, which is now proud of her eminent son. Only
once he left the State in search of learning, and that was
to complete a course of law study with a near relation at
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. This done, he retuned to
his life work in his own State. So tenacious is he of util-
izing and relying on home resourcBvS, that lately in seek-
ing a head officer for the Purdue University, he set his face
steadily against going outside of Indiana.

The magnetic charm of Gov. Hendricks lies in his per-
sonal character. All men and women and children, too,
are attracted to his presence. In his society political pre-
judice and partisan hostility are inevitably destroyed. They
flee away before the genial influence of cordiality, good
nature and engaging conversation. Although he always
maintains a genteel dignity, the humble,timid, and con-
sciously uncultured, find ease in his society and pleasure
at his presence. No man of the people feels restraint in
approaching him the second time. He is the life of an
excursion party, a reception, or a good time where "two
or three are met together." Temperate, sprightly, witty,
need it be said that the ladies find in him a companion for
travel or the social circle worthy their refined tastes and
agreeable at all times. In his disposition, the Governor is
by nature conservative. He clings to the old and distrusts
the new. Consulting his feelings rather than judgment,
he would be inclined to discourage changes and innova-
tions. This comes of nature and is indicative of strong
home influences extending back in the family. But they
err most egregiously who, not studying him personally,


assume that the Governor ie non-combative, timid, or
vacilhiting. He is cautious, but if arou9ed, the impulses of
his nature rise to absolute fury. This fact is none the less
real, because his strong judgment and v/ill restrain rash
demonstrations. It is unnecessary to say that the
subject is of handsome face and figure. Most people know
that. His manner of speech in private and public is
enchanting, and on the political rostrum he is clear, sharp
and statesmanlike in stylo. He is exceedingly happy in
short addresses on miscellaneous occasions, having a habit
not universally known, of being carefully prepared, when
it is supposed the speech is strictly impromptu. One
point more must not be omitted in this inadequate sketch.
That is the staunch devotion of Gov. Hendricks to the pub-
lic schools of Indiana. On these he builds all expecta-
tions of a worthy citizenship and a prosperous State.
Intelligent himself in spite of the adversities of a pioneer
history, he demands education for the people and insists
upon it everywhere, and at all times. It is not, therefore,
unworthy for Indiana to be proud of her own rearing,
when her greatest son is known still more widely for his
integrity, purity and intrinsic goodness.



Is a native of Rushville, this State, having been born there
May 19th, 1827. His f:\ther was born in Massachusetts,
his mother in North Carolina, and they moved to Indiana
in 1821. Mr. Sexton has lived at Rushville all his life,
with the exception of a brief period of time spent at

8 EXECtrrrvE.

school. He graduated from Jefferson College, Pennsyl-
vania, in 1846, and then he read Idw in the office of the
Hon. A. W. Hubbard, late member of Congress for three
terms, from the sixth Iowa district, but now engaged in
banking at Sioux city, in that State. In politics Mr. Sexton
was a Whig until the organization of the Republican party.
The first vote he ever cast was for President Taylor which
was on the second Tuesday of November, 1848. Immediate-
ly afterward, on the same day, he took a state room on a
palatial boat on the White Water canal, eni'oute to Cincin-
nati to attend law lectures by Messrs. Groesbeck and Til-
ford, the former a prominent politician and eminent
jurist, yet living, the latter, then his partner, now deceased,
having acquired the necessary legal lore for a beginning,
he returned to Eushville and entered upon the practice of
his profession, and he has continued to be so engaged ever
since then except when in public life. In 1856, he was a
candidate for Legislative honors, his opponent being
Samuel McBride, Esq. A contest case which lasted all
through the session and never was settled, was the result
and Eush was not represented in the lawmaking branch
of the government during all that time, yet both contes- ■
tants drew their pay as regular members. Such cases
were then very rare and served to spice the sessions which
otherwise might have been monotonous.

In 1872, his friends, without his knowledge and consent
in State convention, entered him fortheracefor the Lieuten-
ant Governorship, and the people, at large, elected him.
By virtue of that call and election, he is now the incum-
bent of that office and as such, President of the Senate.
As a lawyer, he has a high standing in his section of the
State, and indeed, throughout the State, and has a host of
friends at the bar, and among the people. In fact, he pos-


866868 all the elements of personal popularity. At homo
i:nd abroad, he is uniformly kind and generous to the poor.
Law students are always anxious to read for the pro-
fession in his office. Unlike most members of the bar,
he is particularly delighted to assist and advance all worthy
young men who show a disposition to help themselves.
He never discourages anybody when seeking to step
higher upon the ladder of life.

He possesses quick perceptive power, amounting almost
to intuition, and at the same time is cool and collected,
qualities that peculiarly fit him for wielding the gavel
over a deliberative bodv.




The young and brilliant incumbent of the Secretary of
State's office comes down from the tip-top of Indiana.
That is to say, he is a native of Winchester, Randolph
county, which is the highest land in the State. His parents,
the father from Ohio and the mother from Pennsylvania,
are Scotch-Irish and German by descent and the family
hold a leading position in Randolph county. Mr. Neffs
father was the first treasurer of the county, and also a
quartermaster with the rank of captain, in the Mexican
war. The son is a bright and successful lawyer, having
like the State Auditor, laid the foundations of his educa-
tion at the State University of Bloomington. That Mr.
NeflF possesses the abilities of a successful politician is
strongly assured by his achievements already made. Born
Oct. 26, 1846, he was less than 29 years old when elected



to his present important office. Two years earlier ho was
a candidate for Congress in the then Ninth District in com-
petion with the Hon. J. P. C. Shanks, and received, beyond
doubt, a majority of the votes. But the contest was so
close that Mr. Shanks, a Republican, had the advantage in
Congress, to which the decision was referred by Gov. Baker,
and held his seat. In the last campaign upon the stump,
Mr Neff was a full match for Mr. Curry, his antagonist,
who was the champion debater of his party. They met
before the same assemblies, and the popular judgment sus-
tained this view. Mr. Neff possesses the elements of pop-
ularity in a high degree in personal intercourse, is shrewd
and discreet in all his movements and very effective as a
political orator. Perhaps the only objection that can be
laid at his door is the circumstance that he is still unmar-
ried, thus setting before the young men of the State, a bad
example in high places. But as it is not yet too late, it is
to be hoped that this mistake will be speedily remedied.



Was born in Louisville, Kentucky, February 15th, 1824^
His genealogy is American on both sides so far back as he
can trace his ancestry. All the education he was able to
acquire was through the medium of the common schools.
At an early age he was apprenticed to a cabintet maker
and served five years. When twenty-one he entered the
rainistry of the Universalist Church, since which time he
has had charge of congregations in Columbus, Dan-
ville, New Albany, Logansport and Terre Haute. For


several years past, however, he has divided his time
between the pulpit and the stump. In 1864 he made a
spirited canvass for Congress in the New Albany district,
but in as much as he had a most popular opponent, (Mr.
Kerr), both politically and personally, and an overwhelm*
ing majority to overcome, it is hardly necessary to add
that he did not go to Congress on that occasion. There is
no doubt that he came nearer going than any one else of
his political principles could have gone. In 1868 he was
made a member of the Boad of Directors of the State
Prison South and served four years. He was elected
Secretary of State in 1872, from which position he recently
retired with the well earned plaudits of all parties. Gov-
ernor Hendricks complimented him highly in his message.
He was ably assisted in his official duties by his daughter,
Miss Cory Curry. Mr. Curry is universally recognized as
one of the most ready debaters and able stump orators in
Indiana. Very few have the hardihood to meet him in
joint canvass. He has a way of arranging statistics and
raining them down upon an opponent like shots from a
Gatling gun. His sallies and repartees usually arouse an
opponent to manifest displeasure, in which respect Mr.
Curry is not wholly unlike the gods who first make mad
whom they would destroy. He is a stauch Republican and
an ardent advocate of temperance and morality. Though
he is now out of office he is still a citizen of Indianapolis.



Mr. Henderson is not the traditional self-made man. He
had a good start, and it is as much to his credit, and posai*



bly more so, that a good fortune inherited from his parents,
did not make a fool of him as it would have been to have
climbed out of poverty by hard work. Both results
prove that a man is made of good material. He was born
in Morgan county, where his elegant home, property and
■business interests still remain. The date was June 2, 1833,
-and h-e is consequently 42 years old, in the flower and
•Vigor of manhood. He is the only child of parents who
came from Kentucky to this State in 1831. He is also a
•son, but not the only son, by some hundreds, of the State
•Un-iversity at Bloomington. There is a fitness in this cir-
■.eumstance, that the State fitted him for her own service.
Being possessed of a handsome estate from his father, it
was both natural and wise that Mr. Henderson should give
that his attention instead of running off to a profession
because he was fitted for it by native talent and education.
Happy will it be for Indiana when more of her well edu-
cated sons shall devote their energies to industry, and
-crown labor with intelligence and mental culture. Besides
farming on a large scale, Mr. Henderson has given a gi-eat
deal of attention to dealing in stock, and is one of the
leading pork packers of the State. His own county hon-
ored him in 1860 with the custody of her funds as Treasu-
rer, which duty he discharged faithfully one term. In
1868 he was a member of the State Senate, and one of its
active workers. He is a shrewd and effective manipulator
of the political tides and currents and makes a sure thing
of what he undertakes. In his late campaign he was the
nominee of both the Independents and the Democrats, and
was strongly supported by both parties. .He possesses in
a large degree, the elements of personal popularity, especi-
ally among the body of the working people. He "brings to
the duties of his important office as Auditor of State, a


wide and extended business experionoe, a clear record of
integrity and great energy ; in short all the •lements which
guarantee success and honorable service for the State.



Every inch of Mr, Wildman, and there are about sev-
enty-five of them in the clear, is Hoosier. He was born
in the State, grew up on the Indiana plan, not of finance,
but of hard, honest labor, and he represents in his charac-
ter and stylo the true Western man. A gentleman in
every sense, he acts on the rule, without any exception, to
treat every other man as a gentleman. This habit, united
with a genial and cordial temper, has made him as popu-
lar with the people as a man can well become. The people
like Mr. Wildman, for he is one of them, ^o elevation of
official position can make him forget the days of manual
labor, or divorce his sympathies from that class among
whom his career began. He is a native of Jefferson
county, born May 22, 1834, of American parentage, and
received his education in his own county,, beginning on
the puncheon-floor of the common school house, and fin-
ishing ofi" at Hanover College. He spent a couple of years'
in Iowa, 1855-6, and then came back and set his stake in -
Howard county, when Kokomo was a crude and muddy
town. He has seen a wagon with one milk can mire down
in front of his own door; helped to lay the first flat stone
sidewalk, put somo money in every one of her churches, •
built or helped build her fine school, and in short been a-
part and pai'cel of that now thrifty and bright city.


Twice elected County Auditor, he developed in that office
the qualities which the event has proved fitted him so well
to oversee the financial economy of the State. In 1868 he
represented his county in the Legislature, and in 1869 was
made Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fel-
lows, in which fraternity he stands among the first. Ho
leaves the office of State Auditor with the unqualified
approbation of all, irrespective of party. Mr. Wildman in
a staunch Eepublican, always working squarely in the
traces, but committed to a fair fight, and in public service
treating all alike impartially as citizens of equal rights.
In a campaign he is not by any means negligent of politi-
cal tactics, and as a hand-shaker he has few equals and no
superior. It is not time yet to sum up his public service
for he is always conspicuous in a crowd, and may get hit
again. Indeed, it will be strange if he does not. But
whether in public service or in private lite, he will honor
the State which claims him, and never lack a host of



Was born at Oxford, Ohio, February 3d, 1831. His
parents were natives of North Carolina and Ohio respec-
tively. His educational opportunities were confined to an
old log school-house, and the first twelve years of his exis-
tence in his native State, where in his thirteenth year, he
was apprentenced to a carriage maker, and in due time
learned that trade and has followed it closely and suoceaa-
fully ever since, except during a part of the period of the

EXicuxrvi. 16

war, when he waB in the army. From April 1861 until
July, 1863, between which dates he served his country a*
2d and Ist Lieutenant, Captain and Major of the 7th
Indiana, camp commander of the 4th Congressional Dis-
trict, and Lieut. Colonel of the 68th Indiana regiment. He
came to the State in 1848, since which time he has resided
at Kushville, Laurel, Wabash, Greensburg and Indianapo-
lis respective!}'. He has been a Democrat all his life,
except the eleven years intervening between 1854 and
1865, and he was elected by Democrats and Liberals to the
office he now holds, at the last election.



"Was born in Orange county, Indiana, March 4th, 1833.
His parents were both natives of this country; his father
removing to Orange county from Kentucky, in October
1814. He was reared on his father's farm in his native
county, goinng to school when the weather forbid working
in the field. When approaching maturitj' he attended
school at New Albany and elsewhere. After completing
his course, he secured the situation of teacher in New
Albany, and afterwards taught in the Salem High School.
At the beginning of the war he organized a company and
was assigned to duty in the 38th infantry. He was elected
Captain of the company, aud was promoted to Major of
the regiment, and he served in that capacity until the
war was over. Upon his return from the army his
services received recognition by his being elected to the
office of County Treasurer. At the close of his term h*


was re-elected. In 1872 he was elected Treasurer of State
by the Eepublicans, of which party he haB been a life long
member. He was defeated as a candidate for re-election, '
and but recently retired from that office to the regret of all
his personal friends in Indianapolis and in Indiana, regard-
less of party.



Is a native of New York. He was born in the beautiful
little village of Friendship, Allegheny county, Nov. 8th,
1842. His father's family were descended from Holland,
and his mother was of Scotch and Irish ^ ancestry. The
son received the rudiments of his education at Friendship
academy in his native village. Then he came West and
completed his course of studies in the University of Michi-
gan. • Having read law with Messrs. Balch & Smiley at
Kalamazoo, and attended law lectures at Ann Arbor, he
was admitted to the bar in 1865. The year ensuing, he
removed to tkis State and located at Princeton. His legal
ability and admirable social qualities soon gave him a first
place in the hearts of the people of that section of the
State. In 1872 he was nominated for a seat in the Legis-
lature, and was elected. He served on the Judiciary and
other important committees, with credit to all concerned,
through the special and regular sessions, as appears by the
reports. Suffice it to say that he served the State so satis-
factorily in that capacity that he was nominated in 1874 for
the more responsible office of Attorney-General. Again he
was elected and by a large majority. In politics ho has
always been a Democrat, and an able and ardent champion
of the principles ot that party. Personally he is a man of
imposing appearance and engaging manners.




Was born in Knox county, Indiana, AiigUHl 8th, 1829.
His father was from Kentucky, and his mother from Ten-
nessee, the foi'mer removing to this State in 1804, and the
hitter in 1818. The elder Denny was Clerk of Knox county
from 1852 to 1860, and was re-elected in 1860, but uuder
the ruling of the Supreme Court, that such clerks could
only hold two terms, he could not sei've. He then
entered the army as Captain of Company E., 51st Indiana
Infantry, but died the same month he was assigned to duty.

General Denny was educated in the common schools of
Knox county, in private schools and in the University of
Yincennes. He was reared on his fathers farm. When
about of age, however, he entered a store in Yincennes
and remained there as clerk for four years, reading law at
night, the last two years, of his service there. Then he
secured the situation of deputy county clerk, and read law
two years longer. Soon afterwards he was admitted to the
bur and began the practice of his profession, having Judge
J udah for a partner. The partnership lasted six years, being
dissolved by mutual agreement in 1860. Since then he
has been judge of the Circuit and Common Pleas Court
and Attorney General, from which office he recently
retired. During the time since the dissolution above alluded
to, when not in official position. General Denny has resided
in Yincennes and practised his profession. He makes his
home in Indianapolis now ; has an office on Washington
street and resides on North Tennessee.





Was born in Center Harbor, N. H., in 1841. He received
an academic education in the East and came West about
twelve or thirteen years since. In 1863 he was engaged
in a responsible position in the Toledo public schools,
where he taught two or three years Then he removed to
Fort Wayne, and was elevated to the superintendency of
the schools of that city, and soon became identified with
the educational interests of the State at large; so much
80 indeed, that when the Democratic party had an oppor-
tunity to elect a Superintendent of Public Instruction
they selected him as the favored one. He had then long
been an active member of the State Board of Education,
where his rare executive ability was first recognized and
appreciated. Those who know him best claim that his
strong point is in organization, a quality that eminently
fits him for the office of Superintendent of the schools of
the State. The ability he displayed in the management
of the Fort Wayne schools augurs well for the educational
interests of Indiana for the next two years. Added to

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Online LibraryJohn Francis SpragueBrief biographies of the members of the Indiana State Government : executive, judicial, and legislative, 1874-5 (Volume yr.1874-1875) → online text (page 1 of 10)