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History of Clinton County, Indiana: Together with sketches of its cities ... online

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from their pwn private resources, and they were really the found-
ers of the educational interests of this township. With their own
money they hired Peter Stowers to teach the first school in the
winter of 1844-'5, he receiving as compensation for his services
$10 a month and his board. Isaac McLelland was the first
school examiner. Some of the early teachers were Elijah Boxley,
Nelson Purdom, William Lowdeu, Geo. H. Merritt and Alfred

The first marriage in the township was that of Samuel Thomp-
son and Lucinda Bradburn, in 1844.



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The first white child was born October 7, 1841, Jane Burget,
daughter of William and Lida Bnrget

Mr. Natter died in 1844 and this was the first death which oc-
cnrred in the township.

The first postolfice was located at Burget's Corner, and William
Burget was the first postmaster. The first store was opened by
William Burget, in which the postoffice was kept. The building
which was erected for this purpose now stands in Scircleville and
is used for a saloon.


Johnson Township was organized in March, 1843, and the first
election was held the following April at the house of William Bur-
get, who acted as inspector. At this election Mr. Burget was
elected to the office of justice of the peace, which office he held for
eighteen years. The first trustees were Mathew Orr, Jacob Stroup
and John Bristow. Their successors were Lewis Vencill, Geo. A.
Kent and James Frier. The present township officers are: M. L.
Olark, Trustee; H. A. Keever and James Sanlins, Justices of the
Peace; O. C. Moon, Assessor.

The Lake Erie & Western Railroad traverses Johnson Town-
ship from east to west in the southern part, giving it six miles of
railroad, with stations at Scircleville and Hillisburgh.


The population of Johnson Township has probably had a more
rapid and steady increase than that of any of its sister townships.
In 1850 it had reached 777, which is a larger number than many
of the others had attained, although they were several years older.
In 1860 the population was nearly double the above figures, being
1,521; and in 1870 it was 1,666; and in 1880 it had reached 2,103,
and was therefore the third in the county. •


The number of acres of wheat sown in Johnson Township for 1886
is 4,085; corn, 4,024; oats, 131; number of acres in timothy, 690;
clover, 894; wild grass, 1,120; acres of new land brought under
cultivation for 1886 crops, 206; timber land, 2,143. There are 86,-
850 rods of drain tile in operation in this township.

In 1885 there were 1,290 gallons of sorghum and 64 gallons of


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maple molasses made. The number of gallons of milk taken from
cows, 90,300; pounds of butter made, 14,100; honey, 660.

Of the horse kind there are 436; mules, 24; cattle, 1,040; milch
cows, 337; hogs, 1,975; sheep, 1,000; pounds of wool clipped,
1,215; dozens of chickens sold and used during the year, 486;
turkeys, 9; geese, 20; ducks, 12; eggs, 12,975.

The number of fruit-trees are as follows: Apple, 3,785; pear, 97;
plum, 12; cherry, 606; crab-apple, 34; grape-vines, 339.


Politically, Johnson is one of the reliable Democratic townships,
and never varies from this sentiment except it be on some local
issue. In 1884 Cleveland's majority was eighty-seven. Following
is the vote of the township at the last general election November
4, 1884, for President, State and county oflBcers:


Grover Cleveland 216 87

James G. Blaine 129

Beoj. F. Butler 8


IsaacP.Gray 217 89

William «H. Calkins 128

Hiram Z. Leonard 8


Mablon D. Manson 217 89

Eagene H. Bandy 126

John D. MUroy 8

Secretary of State,

WiUiam R. Myers 216 87

Robert MitcheU 129

Tliompson Smith 8

Auditor of State,

James H.Rice 216 87

Bruce Carr 129

JoBias H. Robinson 8

Treasurer of State.

John J. Cooper 216 87

Roger R. Shield 129

Frank T. Waring 8


Francis T. Howard 216 87

WiUiam C. Wilson 129

John O. Green 8

SuporintenderU of Public Inetruetion.

John W. Holcombe 216 87

Barnabas C. Hobbs 129

BamnelS. Boyd 8



Supreme Judges,

Joseph A. S. MitcheU. ... 216
Edwin P. Hammond 129

Reporter of Supreme Court.

John W. Kern 216

WilUam M. Hoggatt 129


ThomasB. Ward 214

Charlen T. Doxey 131

Henry T. Cotton 7

Circuit Judge.

Allen E. Paige 216 216

Prosecuting Attorney,

WiUiam A. Sfaley 214 88

William R. Hines 131


John A. Petty 217 86

William D. Clark 131


Thomas R. Engart 208 62

Alex. B. Given Ul


James A. Hedgcock 219 88

Samuel Scott 181


Walter L. Shores 216 116

Daniel W. Heaton 100

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James R. Brown

Joseph H. Lovett



DeWitt C. Bryant 216

JohnH. Oaldwell 182


BrastusH. Staley 209

Oliver Gard... 184


Oammi$$ion&rt FirU DutriU.

JohnEnright 216 85

Thomas Major 181

OcmmiBsumert Second Diitrici .
Arthur J . Cleodenning. . . 218 80
James McDavis 182

Oommieeioner^ Third Distriet.

John Pruitt 202 64

Andrew J. Sharp 188


Ab a means of interesting comparison we give the items of valua-
tion and taxation for 1845: Polls, 46; acres of land, 7,396.92; value
of lands, $8,840; value of improvements, $2,060; value of land and
improvements, $10,890; personal property, $4,417; total valua-
tion of taxables, $16,307.

State tax, $62.96; county tax, $41.61; road tax, $8.09; total
taxes levied, $102.56.


Polls, 286; acres of land, 16,992; value of lands, $253,316; value
of improvements, $26,010; value of land and improvements, $279,-
326; value of lots, $3,940; value of improvements, $13,69&; value
of lots and improvements, $17,685; value of personal property,
$93,796; value of telegraph property, $445; value of railroad
property, $46,340; total valuo of taxables, $390,755.

State tax, $641.34; capitol tax, $82.89; State school tax, $807.13;
university tax, $20.72; county tax, $1,926.16; township tax,
$414.46; tuition tax, $621.68; special school tax, $2,072.30; road
tax, $414.45; dog tax, $116; county sinking fund tax, $414.46;
county interest f and tax, $290.11; gravel road fund tax, $207.23;
bridge tax, $269.39; total taxes levied, $8,298.30.


This village is located on the line of the Lake Erie & Western
llailroad, on sections 3 and 10. It was laid out in 1873 by Adam
Scircle. Josiah Drake opened the first stock of general mer-
chandise here and John Scircle was proprietor of the first drug-
store. The present business interests areas follows:

General merchants, Richey Bros, and Marshall Thatcher; drug;
gist, T. Heaton; tile factory, Alfred Weaver; saw-mill, Ohappel
Bros.; elevator, Allen Bros.; undertakers, Howard & Orove;
blacksmith, E. E. Grove; hotel and livery, J. O. Scott & Son;


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station agent, William Berryman; postmaster, Z. B. Hendricks;
physicians, "W. T. Cooper and W. Q. Smith.

Bcircleville has a population of about 300, and is the central
trading point of the township.


The Soirdevills Lodge, I, 0. 0, F. was instituted in 1882, and
among the charter members were J. M. Ritchey, J. A. Hayden,
John Deever, J. W. Galbraith, J. O. Welshhamich, A. J. Sharp,
H. C. Atchinson. The first officers were: J. M. Richey, Noble
Grand; J. A. Hayden, Vice-Grand; John Deever, Secretary; J.
W. Gkilbraith, Treasurer. The present officers are: Samuel Simp-
son, Noble Grand; Samuel Powers, Vice-Grand; R. W. Heaton,
Secretary; L.C. Merritt, Treasurer. Present membership, thirty-five.

Joe RooTcer Post^ No. 97, G. A. R,^ was chartered August 28,
1882, and held its first meeting September 2 of the same year,
with thebe charter members and first officers: William Hobson,
Ck>mmander; Joseph Gross, Senior Vice-Commander; William M.
Wicker, Junior Vice-Commander; W. G. Smith, Surgeon; S.
J. Keever, Quartermaster; W. T. Cooper, Adjutant; J. R. Gal-
braith, L. D. Richards, J. A. Hayden, John Stroup, L. H.
Stroup, Thomas Oir and E. Burget Present officers: G. W.
Epperson, Commander; J. Davis, Senior Vice-Commander; John
Fox, Junior Vice-Commander; Thomas Chappel, Surgeon; W. B.
Randall, Chaplain; W.G. Smith, Adjutant; S. J. Keever, Quarter-
master; J. M. Cambridge, Officer of the Guard. Present mem-
bership, thirty-five. Condition, flourishing.


is located on sections 6 and 7, on the line of the Lake Erie &
Western Railroad and has a population of about 250. It was laid
out in 1874 by John E. Hillis. Its business men are: A. J.
Miller and Hugh Shearer, general stores; M. Shearer and James
Stewart, drug stores; Jones Bros., blacksmiths; Sanlin & Son, saw-
mill; A. J. Miller, grain elevator; Geo. Mann, grist-mill; John P.
Moore, meat-market; A. J. Chiddick and W. B. Reynolds, physi-

Hillisburgh has two churches — Methodist Episcopal and Chris-
tian. The former has a membership. of about twenty-five, with
Rev. John Wayman as pastor. They have a neat brick church in
which they worship, and bid fair to become a strong society. The

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_ - — ^k .


latter's membership numbers about fifty-six, with Kev. John La-
man for their pastor. They have a large frame church building,
erected in 1872, and are the strongest church organization in the

Hillisburgh has a fine brick school building, arranged for the
graded system, with three rooms.

A. F. & A. M.

Hillisburgh has a prosperous lodge of the Masonic order, which
was organized in 1877, with the following gentlemen among its
charter members: J. Sanlin, Dr. D. M. Cook, Hugh Shearer,
William Frazier, Samuel Boyer and Mr. Walker. Its first officers
were J. Sanlin, Worshipful Master; Dr. Cook, Secretary; A. J.
Sharp, Senior Warden; Hugh Sharp, Junior Warden. It has a
membership of thirty-tireeand is in a good condition. Its pres-
ent officers are: G. A. Strong, Worshipful Master; William
Earner, Senior Warden; J.Q.Grant, Junior Warden; Jerome
Clark, Secretary; A. J. Sharp, Treasurer.


Samubl Merritt, grain dealer of Scircleville, is a native of
Coshocton County, Ohio, born February 23, 1827, a son of Adam
and Catherine (Haines) Merritt, the former of English and the
latter of German ancestry. They came to Clinton County, Indi-
ana, in 1842, and settled in Johnson Township, being among the
first settlers in this locality, where they passed the remainder of
their days. Our subject accompanied his parents to Clinton
County in 1842, remaining with them on the home farm in John-
son Township till twenty-three years of age. He was united in
marriage April 26, 1851, to Miss Dorinda Heaton, a daughter of
James Heaton of Michigan Township, Clinton County. To this
union was born one child, Francis E., who was killed by the ac-
cidental discharge of a gun. Mr. Merritt was bereaved by the
death of his wife February 21, 3855, and after her death he went to
Cass County, where he remained a year. He then returned to Clin-
ton County, and acted in the capacity of clerk in the stores of Gaddis
& Merritt and B. F. Douglass, of Michigantown, until his second
marriage, which occurred April 28, 1858, with Miss Elizabeth
Gaskill, a daughter of J. W. and Abigail Gaskill, residents of
Center Township, Clinton County. By his second marriage Mr.
Merritt has had nine children, as follows — John W., William A.,

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James D., Sanford (deceased), Seabarj, EUie (deceased), Lola
(deceased), Emma and Jennie. In 1860 Mr. Merritt was elected
coantj sheriff, in which position he served efficiently for two years.
After retiring from office he followed farming for five years, when
he embarked in the mercantile bnsiness at Scircleville, in which
he continued till 1884. He commenced buying grain in 1877, in
which business he has since continued, and is now devoting his
entire attention to the grain business. In 1878 he was elected to
the office of township trustee, which position he filled two terms
with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents.
When he entered upon the duties of his office he found the town-
ship about $6,000 in debt, and at the expiration of his last term he
had removed the debt and had a surplus in his hands of $1,200.
In his political views Mr. Merritt affiliates with the Bepublican
party. Now, after induring mud, in rainy weather, for forty-four
years, he is superintending the construction of a gravel road across
Johnson Township, the first that has ever been constructed in the
eastern part of Clinton Connty.

Andbbw J. Miller, general merchant, Hillisburgh, Indiana, has
been a resident of Clinton County since August 25, 1883. He
was bom in Wurtemberg, Germany, October 23, 1845, a son of
Frederick and Hannah D. (Rousenberger) Miller, his father born in
1813 and his mother in 1816. His father died in 1881, and his
mother is now living in Bellefontaine, Indiana. Their family
consisted of seven children — Andrew J., Luther F., George W.,
John C, Hannah D., Mary and E^atie. The family came to
America in 1854 and settled in Logan County, Ohio, where tkey
were living at the breaking out of the war of the Bebellion.
July 4, 1862, Andrew J. enlisted and was assigned to Company E,
Forty-fifth Ohio Infantry. He served three years, his time ex-
piring July 4, 1865. He participated in all the battles of the
regiment, .being in the hospital only thirty days. He was with
Sherman from Buzzard's Roost to Macon, and from his regiment
returned to look after General Hood, and afterward was at the
battles of Franklin and Nashville. After the war he went to Ford
County, Illinois, and from there, in 1875, to Iroquois County,
where he lived eight years. Mr. Miller was married in January,
1868, to Mary M. Bentley, who was bom near Constantino, Michi*
gan, in January, 1846, a daughter of Wheeler and Miranda
(Loomis) Bentley. They have had six children, of whom five are
living — Minnie, Nora, Luther F., Charles and Clarence. William


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died aged six yeard. In politics Mr. Miller is a Republican. He
and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal charch.

Hugh Sheabeb, general merchant, Hiliisbnrgh, Indiana, came
to Olinton Oonnty May 2, 1859, and bought a farm ia Michigan
Township where he lived until 1864, when he sold out and went to
Howard Oounty, Indiana, and a year later went to Delaware
County. In 1869 he returned to Olinton Oounty and again bought
a farm in Michigan Township, which he owned two years to a
day, then moved to Kirklin Township, and in 1883 moved again
to Michigan Township, where he lived about two years and then
exchanged his farm for property in Hillisburgh and forty acres of
land in Johnson Township. In January, 1886, he opened a store
and carries a general stock of merchandise suitable for farmers.
Mr. Shearer was borh in Miami Oounty, Ohio, July 24, 1824, and
was married January 17, 1843, to Sarah Ann Shephard, who was
born in Miami Oounty, February 4, 1826, a daughter of John and
Elizabeth (Oarroll) Shephard. September 22, 1866, Mr. Shearer
moved to Tippecanoe Oounty, Indiana, where he built a steam saw
and grist mill and also engaged in general merchandising. When
he was married he had only $10, and when he left Ohio, had $180.
It cost him $24 to move his family and goods, and with the $106
left he bought a stock of goods, and when he left Tippecanoe
Oounty sold out for $1,050, having increased his stock and taken
care of his family with the profits. Mr. and Mrs. Shearer have
had twelve children; eight are living — Davis R., Mathias 0.,
Minerva A., John A., Florence E., Dulcina F., Marcella B. and
Manson A. Three children — Sarah K., Orren W. and one un-
named died it) infancy, and Elvira R. lived until her marriage, and
at her death left one child. The father of Mr. Shearer, Abram
Shearer, was born in 1774, in North Oarolina, of German descent
He was married in his native State to Anna Byrkett, who was born
in 1776, a daughter of Joseph and Mary Byrkett. They moved to
Ohio in an early day, passing though Oincinnati and Dayton when
there were only three houses in either place, and lots that are
now worth thousands of dollars in Oincinnati, could then be
bought for $10. The father was a farmer and cooper. In 1827
he and Peter Earrison built a fiat-boat and took it down the river
and sold it, and on their return the canoe, containing ten persons,
was capsized. All were saved except Mr. Shearer and his eldest
son, Absalom. The mother died in Miami Oounty in 1842. Mr.
Shearer is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He is in-
dependent in politics.

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Geography and TopoaaAPHT. — ^Eably Sbttlembnt. — List of thb
PiONEBBS. — *' Competition is the Life of Trade." — "A Little
Mixed on the Forms." — Early Etbnts. — First Churches and
Schools. — Organization. — ^First Marriage, Birth ajid Death.
— ^Improvements. — Railroad. — Population. — Political. — Sta-
tistics OF Agriculture. — Valuation and Taxation of Property,
1845-86. — Township Officers. — ^Kirklin Village. — History.
— Business. — School. — Lodges. —Churches. — ^Biographical.

Kirklin lies in the southeastern part of the coantj, and is the
second from the east in the sonthern tier of townships. It is
bounded on the north by Michigan and Johnson townships, on the
east by Sugar Creek Township, on the south by Boone County, and
on the west by Jackson Township. It contains thirty-five square
miles, and is in general five and a half miles from north to south,
and six from east to west. A considerable portion of the township is
watered and drained by Sugar Creek, and its several branches,
which flow in a southwesterly direction through the center of the

I EARLY settlement.

I This township was named in memory of N'athan Kirk, to who m
is due the honor of being the first white man in the eastern part
of Clinton County. Some claim that Eirk was the first man in
the county, but it is probable, from the most reliable authority,
that William Clark settled on the west end of the Twelve-Mile
Prairie a t&w days earlier.

It is positively known that as early as 1826, while Clinton was
designated as *' Washington Territory," Nathan Kirk settled on
the east end of the Twelve-Mile Prairie, on the farm owned by the
heirs of Richard McEntire. Being an active, industrious man,
his humble pole cabin, of crude and hasty construction, soon ap-
peared in the forests, which for several years afterward was a




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*- B



favorite stopping place for travelers and those in search of

Until abont the year 1829 Mr. Eirk was the only inhabitant of
the township. In that year came Thaddens Panbarn, Daniel
Hunter and William Wynkoop. The first two were in the employ
of Mr. Eirk and never made entry of land. The exact location of
the latter is to as unknown.

In 1830 William Harris, of whom we will speak in the history
of Sugar Creek Township, moved to Eirklin Township, and set-
tled on section 2, and others of the same year were Henry Per-
cifield, who settled on section 23; John Busseli, on sec-
tion 6; David Galbraith, on section 10, and John Foster, whose
exact location is unknown.

In 1831 came John Gallaher, and located on section 6; Joseph
Bickley, on section 1; John Wheeler, on section 33; Barney
Step, on section 28, and John Mitchell, whose place of settlement
could not be ascertained.

In 1832 Benjamin Bickley, father of 0. H. Bickley, settled on
section 1; William Boils, on section 2, and Adam Vencill, on the
same section.

In 1833 A. Hollcraft, still a prominent citizen of the township, I
settled on the farm where his son-in-law, Robert Cram rock, lives.
This gentleman has taken an active part in the affairs of the town-
ship, and by his industry and careful management is classed among
her largest land-holders. We mention here the fact that Mr. HoU-
craft has in his possession a relic of considerable value, being
bound in a single volume — the copies of the Maryland Ga»etts^
as published from the year 1776 to 1781. This carries the reader
through the greater part of the struggle of the colonies for inde-
pendence. Hence there is found within its pages much of rare
and varied importance.

Continuing our list of early settlers, we mention as coming in
the year 1833 John Thompson, Edward Miller, John Bland, James
Hollcraft and Anson Beech. The latter was a minister of the
Methodist Episcopal church, and is now living at Thomtown in
rather deatitnte circumstances.

In 1834 came John Davis, Isaac McClelland, Jacob Boils, Isaac
Newhouse, William Davis and John McClelland.

Among those who came in 1835 and 1836 we name John For-

geson, David Bogan, Ambrose Whitaker, Williams, James

Parks, Cornelius Hall, John Condry and Lewis Hall. Prominent

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<S .^




among those who came soon after 1836 we mention Andrew and
William Bogan, John Falkerson, Jacob and Gleland Harlej,
George Wimbonrough, S. Moore, Uriah Jones, James Davis,
James Bogan, James Qlark, John Swisher and a Mr. Brackenridge.


In the winter of 1839 and 1840, an event transpired which did
more to benefit the township financially than anything which oc-
cnrred before, or perhaps since. Coon, as was always the case in
a new country, were very plenty. Their skins, when dressed, sold
from 6 to 25 cents apiece. Walker & Co. were the only buyers.
At the time mentioned above, however, John Fury, agent of the
Northwestern Far Company, came and contracted with Nathan
Kirk to act as agent for him in buying fur. Mr. Kirk was rather
reluctant to engage in such an enterprise, but, being assured by
Mr. Fury of abundant means to compete successfully with any
firm, his agents were soon scouring the country in every direction
in search of fur. Walker & Co., not wishing to be driven from
the field without a show of resistance, began to advance the price
of skins. So great was the strife between the contending parties
that soon the current price of a good coon skin was one dollar and
fiftA/ cents. It was an easy task to catch in a single night from
one to six coons. This was a rare opportunity for every able-
bodied man to better his financial condition, and it is almost need-
less to say that all profited by it. In the spring an immense
amount of fur had been collected by Mr. Kirk. This was to be
conveyed to market by wagons. Three of the wagons bore each a
coon skin nicely dressed, trimmed in blue ribbon, with the follow-
ing inscriptions: ** Competition is the life of trade," *'John
Fury against the world," **Iam not to be bought for a quarter^
As the teams passed through the villages and cities on their
journey they were loudly cheered, and general excitement pervaded
the country.


The old residents tell a story on Joe McKinney, the first justice
of the peace, as follows:

McKinney bad been recently elected to his responsible office,
and was as innocent as the new-born babe of any knowledge of the
forms of law. When, therefore, Asa B. Keach was to be married
and called upon the ^^ 'squire " to make ready to tie the knot a


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few hours later, McEinnej fonnd it necessary to consnlt his
books. Having found the proper statutes, he repaired for coneul-
tation to the saloon of Jim Hollcraf t, near by, where it was deemed
best to rehearse the approaching ceremony, with the assistance of
several by-standers. It took a number of rehearsals to satisfy the
** 'squire *' that all would go smoothly. Between times all hands
would '' liquor up." After two dummies had been married many
times, and most of the men were well under the ^^ inflooence," the
company repaired to the house of the bride. Here the now confi-
dent justice of the peace requested the contracting parties to ^^jine
right ban's,'' and then began, promptly[and dignifiedly, ''You do

Online LibraryU.S. Census BureauHistory of Clinton County, Indiana: Together with sketches of its cities ... → online text (page 63 of 91)