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3 1833 02300 4788
JOSEPH P. ELLIOTT.
A Complete and Concise Account from the Earliest Times to the
Present, Embracing: Reminiscences of the Pioneers and
Biog-rapical Sketches of the Men Who Have Been
Leaders in Commercial and Other
JOSEPH P. ELLIOTT.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1897,
In the Clerk's Office of the District of Columbia.
This history is a recital of prominent local events of our people
from the earliest day to the present. Their habits and customs and
growth will be told in the simple, plain manner of those pioneers.
I had almost said in the open, frank style of that heroic age — when
bravery was exercised and deeds of valor performed, when the pro-
v!N tection of life and the guarding of property were the incentives to
. action, when the home and the family were jealously watched against
^ the wiles of the skulking Indians, when the vain ambitions of con-
("^J' ventional society of this swift day were entirely wanting.
I In those days, let us not forget, a man's word of honor was his
I bond, as inviolable as his sacred rights, and his simple "yes" or "'no"
were never repudiated nor impeached by himself, nor discredited by
neighbors. They were given without qualification or reservation
and accepted in the spirit and force that the conventionalisms or cus-
toms of that day attached to them. Sham and pretension were no
.|^ parts of the Hoosier pioneer's nature, nor would he suffer anything to
-^ smirch his good name or compromise his family honor. He scrup-
ulously separated his politics and his religion, and personal differences
were sometimes settled at the rifle's muzzle. Instances are not want-
ing where the bravado and the thief have been summarily dealt with.
The code of honor among those primitive people was of such a
high standard and inflexibility that a villian and a sneak could
\ not adapt themselves to it, and therefore they found more congenial
V^ quarters elsewhere, as a rule. Dishonor and bad faith in anyone were
\ never forgiven, and a promise was held sacred. Their high standard
of equity and probity developed a race of honorable men and women,
and their application of strict morals to daily life restrained the evilly
inclined and gave them honest public officials and professional men of
superior character and sterling qualities. Reputation was not then a
mere bond of dollars and cents, as it is rn our rushing, forgetting, ex-
citing, nerve-exhausting, peace-destroying day. This brief portraiture
of the majestic character of those early heroes may convey a glimpse
at the threshold of those of whom we write.
No labors are required at our hands, we are delighted to say, to
frame defenses or invent apologies for these friends and neighbors,
who are set down in this volume with loving care and jealous love.
Herein an humble effort has been made to portray all the phases of
life in those early times, as they existed socially, commercially, po-
litically, educationally, religiously, and indeed in every channel of
their affairs. The incidents drawn out to illustrate the customs and
habits of our respected fathers shall in no way cast a shadow of dis-
respect upon them. As Mark Anthony said of the Eomans in the
days of Julius Caesar, they were all honorable men — all. That is to
say, no bruisers, no mongers of scandel, no violators of law, no
broilers, no immoral characters, no evil-doers find a place in this
history. Although not a hero-worshipper, the historian has con-
scientiously endeavored to be, however, an impartial tribunal in
estimating the value and significance and relationship of facts that
might illustrate these typical pioneers of whom he writes.
It may add relative value to the truth and character of the facts
marshaled in this book, if it is understood by the reader that the
larger portion of the period embraced in this volume is covered by
the author's own stretch of life. Much that is noted and set down in
these pages is taken from personal experience and observation. The
remark is ventured without vanity and without any thought that the
reader will wonder at it, that the writer is thankful to the Lord, at the
green old age of 82 years, for a good memory and a clear recollection
of the early citizens of whom he writes and of the progress and
growth of this city.
Acknowledgment is here made of my indebtedness to many of the
descendants of the pioneer families, whose deeds are accurately re-
corded herein, for valuable aid in supplying family history and other
relative facts. These records have been carefully verified by the
older family members the^nselves, and are therefore entirely trust-
worthy and genuine. To some extent our forefathers, with ax in
hand, gun strapped upon shoulder, and Bible in pocket, hewing
their way through the dense forests, were negligent of the matter of
making records, and about the only records outside of the courts are
to be found in the old family Bible. They chopped and shot and
prayed their way through the tangled wild wood until they saw day-
light burst in upon them like the smiling sun through a rift in the
cloud. As did Xehemiah when restoring the walls of Jerusalem, they
builded, as it were, with sword in one hand and trowel in the other.
The annalist could conceive of no better way of preserving the
business status of the city and the condition of the people at this time
than to give an interesting and elaborate ciiaj)ter of histories of firms
and individual biographies.
These things are now submitted to the friendly reader witli a fond
hope that he may be ])rofited as well as entertained, and that tiicy will
be useful to the future historian of this growing city.
I. Introductory Remarks.
The Author's Advent to the Town — His Long Business
Career has made him Thoroughly Acquainted with
Every Step of the Progress of Evansville and Van-
derburgh County — Personal Incidents — An Interest-
ing Letter — List of Business Men in 1837.
II. Original Families.
Their Enterprises — Conquering the Wilderness Vie et
Armis — Colonel Hugh McGary, the First Settler on
the Site of Evansville— The First Rude Log Hut
and Where It Stood — Log Houses then were Primi-
tive Forts Against the Indians — Life of McGary —
Siege of Bryant's Station — First White Male Child
Born Here — Purchase of the "Pocket" from the
Indians — General Evans.
III. Remarkable Adventures of Isaac Knight as a
Captive Among the Indians.
Long Perilous Tramp to Detroit — Sick and Cruelly
Treated — Adopted in an Indian Family — Smallpox —
Life Among the Treacherous Redskins — After Four
Years He Escaped and Returned Home — Adventure
of Charles Harrington — Life of General Evans.
IV. Personal Recollections of Pioneer Times.
Where Many of the Early Settlers Located— First
Campmeeting — Schools — Rude Flouring Mills —
Abundant Game — Robbing an Indian Grave — First
Steamboat on the Ohio — Journey of the Socialists to
New Harmony — Early Times — Tlircshing Methods.
Vanderburgh County Formed out of Warrick
County, Which was Originally a Part
OF Knox County.
The Part General Evans Took in Forming Evansville —
First Town Election — First Census in 1819 — Gradual
Growth of the County Seat of the New County —
Judge Henry Vanderburgh.
Town Corporation Rights Granted Evansville by
THE State Legislature.
liist of Trustees of the Town Board from the First up
to the Time When City Rights were Granted — Sub-
sequent History of the City — Business Industries.
VII. Early Manufacturers.
Rivalry Between Stringtown and Xewburgh — Negley's
Grist Mill an Important Enterprise — A Place Where
Men Met and Discussed Politics — Trysting Place for
Farm Lads and Lassies — Some Liked Their Toddy —
List of Patrons of the Grist Mill.
VIII. Means of Transportation in Primitive Days.
Difficulties in the Way— The River the Great Thorough-
fare — Farms Bought in Louisville and Vincennes —
Peddling Wagons Sprang into Existence — Wabash
and Erie Canal — History of Its Grant and Construc-
tion — Legislative Enactments — Terminus of the Canal
Where the Present Court-house Stauds — First Tow
out of Town and First Trip up the Canal — Suits for
the Property — Decision of the Supreme Court.
IX. Early Method of Levying and Collectix(; Rev-
First Tax Collected was Less than One Hundred and
Fifty Dollars — Financial Depression — Coonskins and
Otiier Articles Collected by the Tax-gatherer —
Favorable Location for Evansville's Great Prosperity
— Class of People Who Settled in A'anderburgii
County — Expenditures of Public Money.
X. Civil Tom'nships.
Formation, Description and Names — First Voting
Places in Eacii — List of Tax-payers in 1837.
XL County Offices.
Complete List of County Officials— Work of the First
Meeting of the First Board of County Commissioners
— Justices of the Peace as County Commissioners — •
County Agent — State Representatives and Senators.
XII. Judges of Courts.
First Session of the Circuit Court — Associate Judges —
Characteristics of Some of Them — District Judges —
Old Legal Forms of Procedure — Antiquated Legal
Language Dragged Along Down from the Medieval
Ages — The Fixity of Legal Principles Necessarily
Operate Against Progress in Codes of Practice —
Court-houses and Court Cases — Different Law Courts
and the Judges.
XIII. Full List of Justices of the Peace from the
The Only Break being in Pigeon Township — Acted as
County Commissioners at One Time.
XIV. School System.
Wisdom of the Ordinance Organizing the Northwest
Territory — Indiana's Large School Fund — First
School-house — Pioneer Teachers — History of the
City's Schools — A Roster of Superintendents, Profes-
sors and Teachers.
XV. History of Music in Evansville.
Names of Members and Dates of Organizations of
Bands — George W. Warren Prominently Connected
Therewith All Along— M. Z. Tinker's Life— His
Connection with the City Schools for Many Years —
Vocalists and Pianists — Noted Soprano Singers.
XVI. Medical Science.
Allopathy — Homeopathy in p]vansville — History of
Milk sickness — The Science of Dentistry — Hospitals
XVII. Financial Institutions.
History of Banking Houses — List of Officers at Present
— Building and Loan Associations.
XVIII. The Civil War.
Captain Walker and His Company — Some Prominent
In.stitution.s — Home of the Friendless — Orphans'Asy-
lum — Insane Hospital — Postoffice — B. M. A. History
and Splendid Building — Eiver Transportation.
XIX. The Churches.
A Complete History of All the Churclics of the City —
The Protestant Churches — The Catholic Churches —
The Jewish Congregations — The Spiritualists.
XX. Secret and Benevolent Orders.
The Ancient Order of Freemasonry — Odd Fellowship
in the City from the First to the Present— Knights of
Pythias — Ancient Order of United Workmen —
Knights and Ladies of Honor — All the Fraternal
Organizations and Benefit Institutions — The Military
Orders — Knights of St. John.
XXI. Military Ordeks.
An Invaluable Record of Farragut Post, G A. R. — A
Comi^lcte List and History of All Who Have Ever
Belonged to It — The Womans' Relief Corps — The
Sons of Veterans — The Old Soldiers — Other Military
Some Biographies of the Leading Men of Evan.sville —
Men Who Have Distinguished Themselves in Var-
ious Pursuits of Life — Citizens Who Have Helped
to Make Evansville What It Is — Those Who Have
Laid Its F'ouudations and Seen Its Growth.
Introductory Remarks — The Author's Advent to the Toivn — His
Long Business Career Has Made Him Thoroughly Acquainted
with Every Step of the Progress of Evatisville and Vander-
burgh County — Personal Incidents — An Interesting Letter — List
of Business Men in 1837.
AVhen Columbus, coutrolled by ideas beyond those at Salamanca
and the wiseacres of his day, pushed out across the undiscovered
Atlantic under the directing haud of Queen Isabella and discovered
America — or marked the ^\'ay for its discovery — he knew not what a
mighty nation would develop upon the new-found land. He dreamed
not of the magnificent cities that would spring up nor of the golden
principles of government that the mixed races would evolve, nor of
their high grade of liberty which would be a pattern for all the nations
of the earth. He conceived not of the relief that would be afforded the
congested people of P^urope by emigration to the New World. He
could not surmise that the new form of liberty of this wondrous nation
would be so broad and tolerant that it would invite the oppressed of
all nations to its shores. The marvelous discovery opened up not
only a vast country of unsurpassed fertility but found a home for a
higher freedom and a deeper civilization than the world ever knew
10 HISTORY OF VANDERBURGH COUNTY, IM).
For one thing this higher development showed there was need tor
it in the world, showed the undeveloped state of social relationship,
showed the extent of barbarism yet trammeling and enthralling the
people, showed the imperfect economical relations that existed be-
tween man and man. So the oppressed of many lands found a wel-
come in America — fleeing from English, from German, from French,
from Spanish, from all forms of European oppression.
Under the providence of an all- wise and beneficent God the thirteen
American colonies, despising taxation without representation, threw
off the British yoke after a long, hard, bloody, self-sacrificing, patriotic
struggle for freedom and blessed their descendants with a priceless
bequest of liberty of conscience, liberty of thought, liberty of body.
The war of the revolution gave its experiences and its lessons, re-
vealed the logical meaning of a wider tolerance and a deeper charity,
educated in wiser measures of human government, and gave sover-
eignty to the people, the true source of all power. If there is any
meaning in the thought of progress, men, nations, and the world go
on developing continually, and so the beauty of American civilization
was beheld with wonderment and Delphic prophecies. The war of
1812 was not in vain in the progress of personal and national rights
which it distinctly brought into prominence. The war with Mexico
was a preliminary step — speaking of the final results — that culminated
in the fratricidal struggle of 1861 and ended in the severance of the
shackles from so many Africans imposed on them by an unwi.se social
and economical system. It is "with malice toward none, with charity
for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right," as
Lincoln said, that our glorious republic has finally come to administer
affairs, and as far as may be consistent with individual liberty grants
equal opportunities to all men.
The Indian wars only helped, it may be said, to confirm the origi-
nal settlers in the possession of the land and bring prosperity out of
the virgin soil. That liberty of conscience, so distinctly an inherit-
ance of American development, gave us an educational system that is
at once the admiration of the world and the maker of men of letters,
professors, statesmen, men of science, ministers and business men.
Such have been some of the influences at work shaping American
character and American methods of thought. The pioneers, it maj'
be said, were the makers of these influences that have practically filled
the whole earth like the stone "cut out of the mountain." Such men
settled at Evan.sville, in the beginning, and we to-day are their de-
scendants. Their career, as far as it has been preserved, is a most
HISTORY OF YANDEKBUEGH COUNTY, IND. 11
interesting one. The object in writing this book is to bring promi-
nently to the front the worthy old citizens, now gone over the river
of death, and to preserve a class of facts that are in danger of being
forever lost sight of and perishing like the men themselves. This
volume, it is not extravagant to say, is a social reflex of the people
and the days long gone by, and a presentation of the growth that has
gone on since, in their descendants and the city. It is not too far-
fetched to speak of it as a growth — Phoenix like — out of the ashes of
It is hoped, dear reader, it may not seem improper in the writer,
who touched shoulders with those grand, old first settlers, to refer
occasionally, as the case may seem to require, to his own relationship
to this tast-fading past. The reader, of course, will readily under-
stand that in writing the original history of a community, the
historian must of necessity rely upon tradition to a limited extent
as well as the few x-ecorded facts. In point of fact, these people,
now carved in cold type herein, so to speak, were not the path-
finders of the great wild west but the pathmakers. And naturally
they had no time, opportunity, nor inclination to record the tran-
spiring events of the day — scarcely time enough to make distinctions
as to propert}- rights. The telegraph, the railroad, the newspaper,
the telephone, the matches, all came after their day and generation,
and there was no daily record of the jjassing panorama as there is
for us now. Then they were satisfied to have their families around
them ; now we have turned Gypseys and Meander over the face of the
earth. Then, when death, from which there is no appeal, broke the
family circle, an entry was made in the family Bible and a life-history
was deemed complete ; now the progressive human race has various
ways of writing the biographies of the departed ones. In this impul-
sive vast-recording age the living human creature makes a record
beginning with the cradle and ending only with the grave. The
memorial volumes in black, the picture on the wall, the inscription
in granite, the obituary column in the church and local papers, the
resolutions of friends and orders, the column of character eulogy and
loving tribute by a friend, the reporter's biography at the time of
death, contain a complete record now of our passing old friends ; then
our forefathers tenderly laid the father and mother away on the hill,
watering the earth with their tears and cherishing the departed one's
memory to the last.
It is not a vanity — and this phrase is not an apology — that induces
the author to refer to the fact that his grandfather and two granduucles
12 HISTORY OF VANDERBURGH COUNTY, IND.
participated in the first unpleasantness with John Bull & Co. It is not
a vanity that leads him to speak of his father, whom many remcmher
as a man of many parts, and whose i-eraains now rest in Oak Hill
Cemetery, as a man of righteousness and justice combined. These
things .show how far hack into the past the author's lite reaches, and
how near his own finger-tips, so to speak, touched those of the great
and good Washington. Indeed, it has l)een his good fortune to know
personally such men as Henry Clay, Thomas Mar-shall, Richard M.
Johnson, John J. Cj-ittenden, Ca.ssius M. Clay and others, and he
knew in a great degree the inward facts of their lives.
Now, the information caught up and recorded here for present and
future generations is not the work of an hour, but, in a sense, of a life-
time. As the work progressed the writer was more and more im-
pressed with its significance and magnitude. It grew on his hands.
He has not followed the old stereotyped formula of delivering himself of
local afiPairs and events, but has, like a pioneer, blazed out a way of
his own. It is his fond hope that some good may be done in this
work, some help be extended to some one in some way.
Not desiring to be discursive or digressive, nor to develoj) uuduly
any particular fact or fancy in the author's mind, he yet begs to say
one more thing. In his ojjinion the muniment of our liberties is the
great charter giveu us by our foreiathers, aud as long as that is jeal-
ously guarded and scrupulously honored American independence and
civil liberty will not be a myth and a hiss. Law, natural or divine,
may not be violated with impunity. Slavery brought its sorrow and
shame upon us aud humiliated us in sackcloth and ashes. The pen-
alty for every violated natural law must be paid, every en-or must be
atoned for, every pain has a cause. Wrong teaching and wrong ten-
dencies and a loosening of respect tor the institutions of our wise and
good forebearers can alone be the cause of the downfall of our noble
civil structures. It is not, therefore a venturesome or vagrant opin-
ion, when it is said the millennium is detained by injustice, aud false
economical conditions, and by that uneradicated element of barbarism,
selfishness — apotheosized selfishness. If the handwriting ever appears
on the wall to this nation, as it did to Belshazzar at Babylon, it will
be written with its own hands and without an excuse. The old ship
of state, about which Horace wrote so entertainingly, sometimes gets
near dangerous roaring reefs, but we have faith in the supreme and
superior altruistic elements at the very foundation of the republic that
she will out-weather every storm aud out-ride every rough sea, and at
Aast enter safe iuto the harbor of her dostiuv — whatever that niav be.
HISTORY OF VANDERKURGU COUNTY, IND. 13
Reforms have almost always come up out of the masses — have been
brought out by plain men, as for instance the simple fishermen of
Galilee. When God selected Lincoln, a woodchopper, railsplitter,
and flatboatman, it was another illustration of this fact. When
Grant was taken from the currying room of the tannery and selected
to lead the Union armies against the pro-slavery sentiment of the
land, and thus became an instrument to assist Lincoln in setting the
bondmen at libei'ty, he was also a teacher of men, through examjile,
of the beauty of generosity and the grandeur of liberty and peace.
The reader's own mind will supply multiplied similar instances.
And still one more thought, commonplace as it may seem. It is this:
Every one is the arbiter of his own destiny, in no small degree, not-
withstanding the fact that Robert Owen spent a fortune to demonstrate
the proposition that circumstances make the man, notwithstanding
Shakespeare's well-worn, oft-quoted sentiment that
" Tliere's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew tliem how we will."
It is within every one's range to gather knowledge, to accumulate
ideas, ideas of some kind; and these control him. Hence he is the
arbiter, as stated before, of his own destiny, in so far as he follows out
his own inclinations. The future no man may know, for "it is not for
you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put into
his own hands."
Early in life, indeed at the age of seven years, the author became a
believer in the teachings of Holy Writ. In all the many conflicts of
life since then nothing has transpired to shake his belief in the all-wise
providence of God, who never requires impossibilities of His creatures
or non-understandable mysteries to be imposed on them.
In His own good time all things will be made plain. All of life is
summed up in this : Believe and trust in God. Those who presume
to be wiser than the Deity may find what consolation they can in the
statement that there is no relief from punishment of a violated phys-
ical law, and by analogy none from a mental or moral law — no excep-
tions, not even for a Tom Paine or a Pagan Bob.
If we shall have lightened one burden, strengthened one hand, lifted
one pain from the heart, buoyed up one despondent soul, we shall bo
rewarded for our labors and researches.
14 HISTORY OF VANDERBURGH COUNTY, IND.
AUTHOR'S ARRIVAL IN 1837.
The author of this chapter will narrate his coming to Evausvillc
and his observations for a short time thereafter.
I arrived here on Sunday morning, ''February 15, 1837. My
brother, Wm. M. Elliott, had come to Evansville about one month
previous on a prospecting trip, and rented a store for our business,
to-wit : Saddlery and harness and saddlery supplies. Our store was