Four Hundred Remniscenes., Clay County, Indiana Page 5
From: A History of Clay County, Indiana
By: William Travis (of Middlebury)
The Lewis Publishing Company
New York - Chicago 1909
First Cases of Bigamy and Breach of Promise.
The first case of bigamy in the courts of this county, so far as now known, was the indictment found by the
grand jury against Philip Fox, in 1848, who lived on the old Darting place, on the Lower Bloomington road, west
of Ashboro. He was found and arrested on the Keifner place, just east of the Dr. Harris residence, by Sheriff C.
W. Moss. Shots were exchanged between him and the officer, the sheriff's discharge taking effect under Fox's right
shoulder blade. After having been taken into custody Fox gave bond for his appearance, but was never brought to
trial, his bond having proved to be worthless.
In the troublous days of maintaining the feeders and operating the Wabash & Erie canal following the cutting of the embankment and the draining of the Birch creek reservoir, Governor Joseph A. Wright issued his proclamation offering a reward of $50o for the apprehension and conviction of any of the persons who aided in the perpetration of the act. Large handbills to this effect were posted within the county, one or more of them upon the scene of the depredation. A night or two after this posting had been done some one took down the most conspicuously displayed sheet about the reservoir and substituted a written one offering a reward of $500 for the apprehension of "Old Joe Wright" and his delivery in good condition on the embankment of the reservoir.
Mrs. William Edmonson, mother of S. A. Edmonson, who is known to every one in the south end of the county as "Uncle Austin," the year after the arrival of the family from Tennessee, in 1829, produced with her own hands the cotton from which she manufactured and colored a dress pattern which was pronounced superfine in texture and finish by all to whom it was shown. This piece of domestic fabric, perhaps the first of its kind produced in the county, which was the envy of all the aspiring lassies of the neighborhood, Mrs. Edmonton sold to one of the daughters of a nearby neighbor, receiving in exchange a sow and pigs, from the sale of which, later on in the year, she realized $50 in cash. With this money she entered the forty acres of land which afterward and for many years was the Ransler Horton homestead, about a mile north of New Brunswick, now owned and occupied by John Weatherwax, which is now worth from $75 to $100 per acre.
In the latter part of the summer of 1864 there came to Clay county from the state of Pennsylvania a young man named Shannon Hardman, ostensibly for the purpose of visiting relatives in Posey township, south of Staunton. As he was a teacher he was solicited by his relatives and others to teach their district school for the fall and winter. To this he assented, then called on the county superintendent to pass examination for license. From his neat, genteel appearance, faultless deportment and conversation, he made a very favorable impression. On examination he answered promptly and correctly all the questions put to him, including several test questions, making a credit of one hundred per cent in all the branches, entitling him to the highest grade of license then authorized by the statute. As there was a fractional or unexpired term to be taught out before the current term, the school began earlier than the usual opening, perhaps at some time in September. The school was organized and conducted successfully and satisfactorily to the patrons. The weather was quite warm, necessitating ventilation for comfort. Aside from elevating the lower sash in the side windows of the primitive log house, he removed wholly the sash from the window in the rear end of the building, immediately back of the teacher's stand and desk. After teaching several weeks, one day, while a class was on the floor reciting, standing in front of the teacher and with their backs to the front and entrance to the house, .very suddenly Mr. Hardman's attention was diverted and he made a very hasty and informal exit through the open window, disappearing from the scene through a piece of timber land skirting alongside the schoolhouse. The children composing the school, who were mostly small, were startled and almost panic stricken over this strange and to them inexplicable conduct of their teacher. But a minute or two later there was a gentle tap on the door, when one or more of them ventured up to open it, where stood a stranger who inquired if that was the place where Mr. Hardman was teaching, when they replied by relating to him what had just taken place.
The sequel to this unannounced, unprecedented and dramatic egress of the teacher was that on looking out through a side window he had observed the visitor approaching, whom he recognized as a detective from the Keystone state, where he (Hardman) was wanted for jumping the impending draft ordered for recruiting the depleted ranks of the Union soldiery in the Civil war.
As an example of the privations endured by the primitive inhabitants and home makers of the county and the straits to which they were often reduced, Martin Bowles, one of the original settlers in the northwest part of the county, when Posey township included all the north end, related substantially, at an old settlers' meeting, in 1873, the following incident in his experience : Owing to a partial failure in the corn crop in the year 1827, there was a scarcity of breadstuff the succeeding year, no other grain having then yet been produced in the virgin soil of the county. His family, as well as some of his neighbors, were without bread, subsisting for the time on game and a few vegetables. Though corn could be bought at places, he had no money to pay for it. One day, while out at work, clearing up ground, his attention was drawn to the barking of his dogs in the distance, as though they had some 'game at bay. On going to them he found that they had an otter run in, which he caught and skinned, and the next day took the hide to Terre Haute and sold it for $2.50. Returning home, he went tip into Raccoon valley and purchased a couple bushels of corn from a farmer who had a surplus. This corn he took to the Kilgore mill, in Parke county, where he had to wait two days to have it ground, all customers taking their turns. This lucky find, by the help of his dogs, provided the family with bread for some time, with a small cash balance for other necessaries.
Seventy years ago there was a most remarkable example of tenacity in the life of the hog, in Lewis township, as vouched for by A. J. Baber. On the west side of Eel river, a little below where the Eldorado mill stood at a later day, a large hog lay in a hollow log from the 26th day of November, 1838, to the 8th day of January following, a period of forty three days, closely confined and without anything to eat. Having wasted away in flesh and size sufficiently to extricate itself, the animal came out and soon recovered from the effects of its protracted imprisonment and fast.
In the spring of 1829 one of Martin Bowles' horses strayed away from the family home, near the National road, in Posey township, a mile 'east of Cloverland. Thinking it to have gone in the direction of Eel river, Bowles started in pursuit. There was then but one house between his home and that of James P. Thomas, on Eel river, near Bowling Green, which was Levi Walker's cabin, on what was afterward long known as the Gilfillan place, immediately east of the present town of Center Point. Walker accompanied Bowles in the search for his horse. It was in time of high water, and they had to swim the streams. The search was continued as far as Jared Peyton's, who lived between Eel river and the site of the town of Poland, where they stayed all night. They did not find the missing horse, nor did Bowles ever hear of the animal afterward.
In 1846 the board of trustees of Harrison township appropriated all the available, funds in the hands of the township treasurer to the purchase of shovels for road working, and constituted Harvey Lankford agent of the township to make such purchase. It is not said in the record of this transaction where the agent should buy the tools, but, presumably, at Bowling Green, Point Commerce or Terre Haute. At a subsequent meeting of the board of trustees, Lankford having discharged the duty committed to him, so reported and was allowed sixty eight cents for the service.
At one of the pioneer shooting matches, at Rawley's mill, at the Old Hill, James Treasher, who lived across the line in Greene county, became intoxicated, lost his way and lay out all night, losing his new rifle, worth twenty dollars. Though he made repeated searches for it, the gun could not be found. Forty years afterward, while plowing corn in a field on the south side of the creek, between the Louisville road and Eel river, east of the Church Puckett corner, Joel H. Butler and his boys turned up the barrel of this rifle, the stock having entirely decayed.
For the period of seven years-from 1850 to 1857-there were in Lewis township seven school districts, seven resident teachers, seven families in which there were seven children of school age, seven road districts and seven supervisors, seven township officers (three trustees, two justices and two constables), and among the qualified voters of the township there were seven Crists, seven Starks and seven Pucketts. A. J. Baber, who knew personally every family in the township, gave out this local statistical information just half a century ago.
On the 14th day of February, 1848, the counties of Clay, Owen, Greene, Sullivan and Vigo joined in a big chase
to rid the territory cornprised within their borders of the numerous ravenous wolves which were playing havoc with
small stock that winter. More than a thousand square miles of territory were embraced within the circle of this
chase, and hundreds of interested and determined people of the respective counties participated in the drive. The
half-mile center circle, or closing ground, was staked off in Eel river bottom, a little distance south of New
Brunswick. The captains in command were Elias Cooprider and Joseph Griffith, Sr., with several aids, for Harrison
township ; Joseph Puckett, John J. Lanning, Dick.North and John Neal, for Lewis township ; Isaac Sexton, Allen
McBride, Wyatt Johnson, with their aids, for Sullivan county ; Rev. Richard Wright, Alexander Poe, Dick Lambert,
John Standley, Ned Combs,' Enos Huey, and Elias Dayhuff, for Greene county; Aaron Hubbell, Alexander Winters, Jesse
Ragan, Adam Slough and the Littlejohns, for Owen county.