Samuel Harden.

Early life and times in Boone County, Indiana, giving an account of the early settlement of each locality, church histories, county and township officers from the first down to 1886 ... Biographical sketches of some of the prominent men and women ... online

. (page 12 of 38)
Online LibrarySamuel HardenEarly life and times in Boone County, Indiana, giving an account of the early settlement of each locality, church histories, county and township officers from the first down to 1886 ... Biographical sketches of some of the prominent men and women ... → online text (page 12 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

better crossings over the streams of the county. At the June;
session of 1870, seven thousand dollars was appropriated to


erect a 130-foot iron span bridge on stone work near Thorn-
town, over Sugar Creek; also five thousand dollars to erect a
similar structure over Eagle Creek at Zionsville, and four
thousand dollars for one over Sugar Creek at Mechaniosburg.
The erection of these three structures were all made out of
general county revenue. For ten years our county fathers
were content without further bridge accommodations.

In 1881 the legislature authorized county boards to create
a special bridge fund, and since that time a fifty-foot iron
bridge, on stone work, has been erected in ]\Iarion Township
over Eagle Creek. In Clinton Township two iron bridges
have been erected, one over Mud Creek near Elizaville, fifty
feet long, and one over the same stream near Hugh Wiley's,
seventy-five feet long; Washington Township has a good
bridge near the Bird, seventy-five feet long, and at the present
time a 144-foot span on stone work is being erected over Sugar
Creek at Crose's Mill. This structure, when completed, will
be the largest, as also the most expensive, in the county. A
bridge ninety feet long is also being erected over Brush Creek.

Sugar Creek Township has two bridges, one north of
Thorntown over Sugar Creek, and one east over Prairie Creek.
Center Township has three good iron bridges, fifty feet long,
all over Prairie Creek. Union Township has an eighty-foot
iron bridge over Eagle Creek. Eagle Township has three
iron bridges over Eagle Creek. Jackson Township has an
eighty-foot span over Eel lliver and a fifty-foot span over
Raccoon Creek. In all, eighteen good bridges in the county,
fourteen of which are of wrought iron, costing in the aggre-
gate §40,200. Large as this seems, many counties have ex-
pended half the amount on one structure. As much more
expended on good, substantial structures and Boone County
will have the streams crossing her highways well bridged.

In its native condition, a large portion of Boone County
consisted of marshy lands, much of which during the wet seas-
ons, was occupied and covered with extensive sloughs and
lagoons of water. At an earlv day these lands were estimated


to be of little value, as it was then thought that it was im-
practicable to drain them. As the improvement of the county
progressed, a partial and very imperfect system of ariitieial
drainage was commenced in some localities. "Without giving
the details of the early progress of drainage, we may state
that up to the year 1879 much ditching had been done. Prob-
ably as much as three hundred miles of large open ditches had
been made, and more than six thousand miles of small, mostly
covered, drainage had been made. Take the number of farms
in the county and estimate an average quantity of ditching on
each, and the highway ditching, and the above estimate will
not appear to be too great, though the exact amount can not
be given. Since 1879 it is probable that more drainage has
been done than })rior to that date. Many of the open ditchts
that had been cut prior to 1879 have been re-cut and much
enlarged so as to increase their efficiency in the capacity of
drainage; besides many new drains have been made, and
many thousands of rods of covered tile drains have been put
in, the exact quantity it is impossible to give, and yet there is
no abatement in ditch improvements, but it is on the increase
every year. Fresh impetus was given to drainage by the leg-
islative act of 1881, which gave a new method of procedure
by giving the circuit court law, under which James Xealis and
George Stoltz were appointed Drainage Commissioners. They
were succeeded by Thos. J. Shultz and S. F. Cox, and they in
turn by I. S. Adney and Josepii Etter. During the first tit-
teen months, beginning with September, 1881, forty-thrte
large drains — about one hundred and seventy-five miles — were
constructed. Since that time as many miles more have been
constructed, until at the j)resent time as much as four-fifths Oi
the large drains of the county are constructed. The construc-
tion of so many large drains gave ample outlet to many deop
])onds and sloughs that heretofore the imperfect outlets had
failed to drain. One singular obstacle to the drainage of "ur
county is that on most all of the ditches is a backbone, or high
place; on these the beaver and muskrat built their dams. On


the removal of these obstructions many thousand acrres became
dry land. Not until 1883 were any provisions made to keep
suoh valuable public improvements in repair, which now is
placed in the hands of the county surveyor. The first large
ditch in the county Mas constructed by Fordice & Dcvol, fol-
lowed h^ Eel River, Sanitary Raccoon, Grassy Branch and
many others. In proportion to the number of acres of
land originally, probably Perry Township is the best drained
of any in the county, while Harrison has the largest number of
main drains according to area. At this time, by estimate,
there are near four hundred miles of open drains and seven
thousand miles of underground ditching in the county.


As early as 1720 the French traders had established a trad-
ing post at Thorntown, being one of the system of posts
extending from the valley of the St. Lawrence to that of the
Lower Mississippi. In 1800, it is said, the town included
thirty-six trading houses or stores, and was the home of a branch
of the Miami Indians. The white population up to this time
seems to have included only males, and no attempt was made to
establish society or to found schools and churches.

In 1828, when the Indians sold their reservation of Thorn-
town to the Government, the entire population, French as well
as Indian, abandoned the place and the new town of Thorn-
town, laid out in 1830, was located upon the west or opposite
side of Prairie Creek from the site of the old town. It may
be said then that the first Anglo-Saxon settlement was that of
the McCord brothers, v/ho settled east of the present site of
Zionsville, in 1821. Other settlers came in each year and
about 1826 the first school in the county was organized in an
abandoned cabin on the east bank of Eagle Creek near the
Marion County line and about one and a half miles south of
the site of Zionsville.

In 1832 a school house was built on the farm of William


Beelar, in Eagle Township, and about the same time a log
school house was built in the new town of Thorntown, and
Jefferson Hillis was engaged as teacher at the latter point.
These two were the first houses erected, built especially for
school purposes, within the county. The same year the first
school in Washington Township was taught by Daniel Eilis,
in a deserted settler's cabin, on the south bank of Sugar Creek
just a few rods south of the subsequent site of the Chase or
Ben Crose mill. In this same winter of 1832, the first school
in Marion Township was taught in a cabin on the farm of John
Pan, just north of Big Springs. It was not till 1836 that the
first public school house was built in Marion Township, being
situated upon the farm of John Wright, not far from the pres-
■ent site of School Xo. 2. Within these years, from 1832 to
1837, private schools were carried on in all the new settlements.
In Jefferson and Union townships as early as 1833, and in the
southwest part of Jackson Township in 1835, schools had been
established, and rudimentary instruction was given pupils who
•came through the tangled forests and swampy by-ways to gain
what knowledge was then opened to them. All of the schools
in the county were at this time carried on by subscription on
the settlers who, from their scanty means cheerfully gave, and,
each in turn, boanled the teacher for the sake of giving their
■children a measure of j)reparation for the wider range of duties
to devolve upon them with the development of the country.
In 1835 the first school in Clinton Township had been
established in a deserted cabin in the Mud Creek settlement,
northwest of Elizaville, with J. H. Sample as teacher. The
following year witnessed the first school in Perry Township,
being in a cabin in the northwestern part of the township. In
the year 1837 the first school in Worth Township, and prob-
ably the first free school in the county, was taught in a cabin
on the farm of James McCord, the teacher being Henry Lucas,
and the teacher being paid by the county. In the autumn of
this same year a subscription school of two or three months
duration was taujrht bv Pleasant Crawford in Harrison Town-


ship. This was the first school taught in that township. From
this time on the growth of the schools in the county kept pace
with that of the population. In 1824 the legislature had
enacted a law to establish school houses, of which two provis-
ions were as follows :

Sec. 6. Each able-bodied male person of the age of twenty-one or
upwards, being freeholder or householder, residing in the district, shall !)e
liable equally to work one day in each week until such building mav be
completed, or pay the sum of thirty seven and one-half cents for every day
he may so fail to work, and provided, morever, that the said trustees shall
always be bound to receive at cash price, in lieu of any such labor or monev
as aforesaid, any plank, nails, glass, or other materials which may be needed
about such building.

Sec. 7. That in all such cases such school house shall be eight feet
between the floors, and at least one foot from the surface of the ground to
the firsc floor, and finished in a manner calculated to render comfortable
the teacher, pupils, etc.

Under this law school houses were rapidly constructed all
over the state, the great majority of such houses being built
of hewed logs with puncheon floors and capacious fireplace^
and chimneys. The seat- were without backs; the writing
desk or table was made of puncheons re-ting upon wooden
pins driven into the walls and extending along two or thivo
sides of the room. The teacher's whips were laid upon two
long pins above the teacher's desk. The public schools under
the old con.-titution depended entirely upon the income from
the congressional fund, no tuition tax being provided for l)v
law. From eight to twelve weeks usually exhausted the pub-
lic money. In a majority of cases the term was extended
several weeks by subscription upon the part of the patrons of
the district. The early teachers were generallv Yankee, Irish,
or Scotch, with an occasional Quaker from Xorth Carolina.
For a long time there were no public examinations to deter-
mine the fitness of teachers other than the local school direct-
ors and the patrons at large. An indisj)ensible recpiisite was
the ability and disposition to make a vigorous use of the
beech and hazel rods that lay above the teacher's desk. Add


to this the ability to do "the sum"Iin Pike's Arithmetic
through "Tare and Tret," to spell through the old Element-
ary and to read loud and rapidly and he was fully equipped
for his manifold duties! Most of the teachers uniformly
"skipped the fractions" in arithmetic. It is related that one
or two of the earlier teachers in the county attempted to teach
the spherical shape of the earth, and even asserted that it was
as cold at the south pole as at the north pole! For these
ignorant and blasphemous teachings more than one pioneer
teacher was promptly dismissed. Their notions of geography
were not orthodox, for how couhi the earth iiave "four cor-
ners" if these things ■were true? But a better class of teach-
ers soon came into the new county from New England, the
Middle States and Kentucky. Many men who have since led
their profe-sion in our state, came into the state as pioneer
teachers from 1835 to 1850. The county seminaries, designed
as stepping-stones from the district school to the State Uni-
versity, were being rapidly established in the different county
seats of the state, and about 1840 the old Boone County Sem-
inary was begun on the east side of Lebanon. The building
was finished in 1843, and that autumn the first school within
it was taught by Stephen Neal, Esq., who is still a resident of
Lebanon. Mr. Neal was succeeded in 1844 by John M. Pat-
ton, late cashier of the Thorntown national bank. The county
seminary continued to flourish during a ])eriod of ten years,
until the adoption of the new constitution in 1852, when, like
most of the seminaries in the state, it was sold at public sale.
It brought the county school fund the sum of §900, and was
converted into a hotel or boarding house, for which it is still
used,- known as the Pleasant Grove, or Bray House.

Among other early teachers of Boone County we may men-
tion a Mr. Schenck, a German, who taught the second school
in Perry Townshij) in 1837; Mr. W. L. McCormick, who
first taught in the county in 1842, teaching a public school in
an old log house a mile and a half east of New Brunswick, in
Harrison Township. Since that time Mr. McCormick has.


with the exception of one or two winters, taught every year,
keeping pace with the rapid advancement of the school sys-
tem. For many years he has kept his place as the oldest
teacher in the county. Among the early teachers at Thorn-
town were numbered liufus A. Lockwood, afterward famous as
3. brilliant and eccentric lawyer, the winner of the tamous
Mariposa gold mine suit in California, and who went down in
the Atlantic with the ill-fated Central America, and Rev.
Bird, a Presbyterian minister, who established a school at
Thorntown about 1840, which attracted many pupils; Andrew
J. Boone, Joseph Sample, Isaac and Robert Carmack, Rev.
Philander Anderson, David Burns and others became widely
known over the county as teachers within the two decades
from 1840 to 1850. In 1855 the Thorntown Academy was
■established under the charge of the Northwest M. E. Confer-
ence. Among its principals may be cited Rev. Tarr, Hon. O.
H. Smith, Republican candidate for Superintendent, in 1878 ;
Prof. J. C. Ridpath, the historian and literateur; Prof. Sims,
now Chancellor of Syracuse University, Xew York ; Profs.
Osborn, Rouse and others who have been widely known as
educational workers. This school flourished for about seven-
teen years, at the end of which time it was sold and converted
into a public high school. In 1860 the Presbyterian Church
began the erection of an academy in Lebanon. The first school
was taught in the new building in 1862, under the charge of
Prof. Xaylor. The school continued to prosper for some ten
years when it was sold to the town and converted into a public
high school, for which purpose it is still used. Upon the
conversion of the academy into a public school the three dis-
trict schools, which had long been maintained in Lebanon,
were abolished. The meagerness of the county school records
-afford but few statistics of the steady progress of the public
schools; but each year the enumeration and enrollment in-
creased and the facilities of every kind were extended. But
two or three isolated school ma'ams had been known in the
•county previous to the breaking out of the civil war; and it


seemed to have been a matter of general astonishment whei^
the necessary employment of women proved that in many
cases, at least, the school ma'am could surpass the school-
master in tiie efficiency of her work and the beneficence of her
influence. For the year 188G-87 there are employed in tht
schools of Boone County fifty-four female and lOG malt-

Until a few years ago there was still in use, near the Har-
rison and Perry Township line, an old-time log school house,
known popularly as ''Cornbread College." In fact, it still
stands, and is used as a wood house for No. 9, Harrison Town-
ship. This was the last of tlie old-time log school houses with
its two logs cut out for windows, its puncheon floor and mon-
ster chimney. From hewed log to frame, and from frame to
brick has been the transition. There are now in Boone
County 135 school buildings, of which thirty-six are frame
and ninety-nine brick. The total value of l)uiidings and
furnishings exceeds $200,000.

Of the town school buildings, that of Jamestown was
erected in 1873, at a cost of $12,000. It is a very spacious
and well-located building. That of Zionsville was erected
soon afttrwards and is a handsome edifice, and its site, upon
an eminence at the west side of town, is unsurpassed in the
state. In 1883 the Thorntown High School was erected, at a
cost of about $15,000. It is probably the best school building
possessed by a town of the size of Thorntown in the state. It
is commodious in its arrangement and beautiful in its propor-
tions and its finish. Within the past year the city of Lebanon
has built a neat ward school building, and it is the expectation
that a new high school building that will honor the county
seat will be erected in the near future. Certain it is, that no
railway or other enterprise can ever bring to a town the pros-
perity and development that such a school must insure.

There were enumerated in Boone County in the year of
1886, a school population of 7,980, of which number 5,098
were males and 4,862 females. Of this number about 7,700


are enrolled as pupils in the public schools, with an average
daily attendance of about 5,000. The total school revenues
of the county for the years 1885-86 were $99,882.15, of which
$65,732.81 was special school revenue.

The length of the schools have, within the past few years^
varied widely in the different town:<hips, ranging from eight
months in Sugar Creek to four months in Perry

The school and township libraries of the county number
1,500 volumes. The apparatus for purposes of illustration is
valued at §5,200.

A uniform course of study, divided into five grades, is fol-
lowed in all the schools of the county, and notwithstanding
the many drawbacks of irregular attendance, insufficient sup-
ply of text-books, inditference of parents, etc., rapid progress
is making toward such a system of classification and work as
will secure, it is hoped, the best idtimate results, and enable
pupils moving from one school to another to pursue their
studies without the loss of time or change of work.

The common schools are the people's colleges, and looking
back over the progress of the half century past, and then to
the unlimited possibilities of the future, it is easy to believe
that the fondest dreams of their founders will be more than


In rambling o'er the hilltops late,

Where once I used to roam,
So changed from their former state,

A lonely feeling o'er me came.

But sixtv years and more have past,

Since those early scenes were met ;
Though slow in youth the years have past,.

In age soon each year is met.

The scenes so dear to me in youtb

Now lie in' sad decay;
I scarcely realize the truth,

That has passed so quick away.


The woodman's ax has done its «'ork,
The forest has been removed ;

Where savage Indians, so unbeloved,
Held their dances where we men work.

Made ready for the husbandman,

The fertile soil to cultivate
The clioice iiroJiicts of the land,

To increase his good estate.

The bears and panthers, wolves and deer,

Unmoltsted used to roam
The wiidwood which in days of yore.

They no more dare to come.

Wild turkeys, deer, and raccoons, too,

"Were plenty in those days;
They fed where they chose to go,

And frolicked in their plays.

But now the place so free to them.
No longer gives them room; *

And all who 'scape the eyes of man.
Have found another home.

Days, weeks, montl s and years have passed,

In the long, long time Pgo ;
The time so slow yet swift has passed.

Since four and sixty years ago.

Though sixty years and more have passed.
Since first those scenes I roamed ;

In memory dear, from first to last,
My youth has been just now renewed.

Some of the scenes alone have sadness brought.
That memory now by time records ;

Of scenes more recently have passed.
Some comfort yet at times atlbrds.

My span of life is almost done,

When counted by the score;
Three score and ten is not enough,

You must add yet four years more.

JLebanon, Ind., March 3, 1887.


\ '






Oh, I love to read the story

Of the grand old pioneer,
Living in his little cabin

On the wild, wierd frontier.

Far away from native homestead
By childhood's memories blest,

"When this goodly land of ours
"Was a wilderness, out west.

Oh, I fancy now I see him

Sitting in his cabin door,
In the shadows of the evening,

When the hard day's work is o'er.

In the forest dark and gloomy.
Clustering all around his home,

Undergrown with briars and bushes
Where the bear and panther roam.

And the prowling wolf in shyness,
For the darkness lies in wait,

Whilst he sits alone in silence,
Dreaming of his native state.

All unconscious of (he darkness.
And the dangers lurking nigh.

Until wakened from his musings
By the panther's fearful cry ;

Borne upon the night winds chilly,
Heard above the rustling leaves.

Then he blinds the liltle windows.
Just beneath the clapboard eaves.

Piles the rough wood in the corner,
On the heavy puncheon floor.

Draws the string in through the latchet,
Fastens well the oaken door.



Wife and children all around him,
Sleeps he 'til the morning sun,

Safe as any king in palace,

With his faithful dog and gun.

Honest hands by toiling hardened,
Honest hearts that knew no fears.

Oh, I love to hear the story
Of the grand old pioneers.
Zionsiille, Februai-y 9, 1SS7.



The following are the names of the company who left Eagle
Village for California, March 15, 1852: Marion Patterson,
James Duzan, George Harden, Henry French, James N. Lee^
Isaac Cotton and Samuel Harden.

Comrades, it is growing late, tis camping time,
Here let us rest on the ban! s of this stream ;
Yonder is a spring, and wood to light our fire by ;
Green pastures on every hand to rest our jaded team.

Yes, let us gather 'round the fire once again ;
For we must be nearing our journey's end ;
The plains are past, the mountains are in view.
The slope beyond where sky and water blend.

How like life the overland journey seems
The plains the morning, ere the noon begins;
The mountains gained, snow-capped we find
Jrlorning past, the evening tide appears.

Comrades, our journey o'er the plains is nearly done^
The golden shore lies just beyond ;
Our fire is burning low — another day begun ;
We may reach there ere night comes on,
Lebanon, May, 1SS7.



At thi^ day and age of the world a county without an agri-
cultural society would be like a wagon without wheels. So
the citizens thought thirty-five years ago, and about that time
(1853) took steps looking to an organization. Most of the
time since there has been more or less interest manifest in this
direction. There have been times when the life of such an
organization might have been debatable; but if such a time
ever did exist, it has passed away forever, if one might judge
from visiting the fair of 188G. It is now a hearty^ live, big,
well-conducted society. The past few years — say since 1868 —
the society have added to their grounds, half mile north of the
city, from time to time, ample space and erected suitable build-
ings to make it one of the most desirable in the state. The
Lebanon fair is now a " household word" in the county, the
pride of all classes of people — the farmer, the mechanic, the
merchant and all — a fixed institution that we could illy do
without. The rapid progress we have made as a county, in
the way of products and stock improvements has sprung par-
tially from an impetus given by this society, brought about by
that laudable strife, "Who shall best produce?" Among
those active in the first organization, we find H. G. Hazlerigg,
A. J. Boone, Levi Lane, William Zion, L. C. Daugherty, John
Higgins, Thomas R. Cobb, J. M. Ball, Samuel S. 'Heath,
Jesse Neif, Adolphus Wysong, T. J. Cason, William C. Kise
and Jacob Kernodle.

Online LibrarySamuel HardenEarly life and times in Boone County, Indiana, giving an account of the early settlement of each locality, church histories, county and township officers from the first down to 1886 ... Biographical sketches of some of the prominent men and women ... → online text (page 12 of 38)