History of Miller Township, Dearborn County, Indiana
From: History of Dearborn County, Indiana
Her People, Industries and Institutions
Archibald Shaw, Editor
Published By: B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1915

MILLER TOWNSHIP.

Miller township was organized in the year 1834. A petition having been presented to the county commissioners asking that a township be created out of the northern part of Lawrenceburg township, it was granted, and given metes and bounds which in 1852 are described as follow: "Beginning at the northeast corner of congressional township 6, range 1 west, running thence south on the state line between the states of Ohio and Indiana, to the southeast corner of section 24, in said township 6; thence west to the southwest corner of section 24, in said township 6; thence south to the southeast corner of section 26, in said township 6, range 1 west; thence west on the east and west line dividing sections 26 and 35, to where a line drawn north and south through the center of section 27 strikes said line; thence south to the congressional township line dividing congressional townships 6 and 5, range 1 west; thence west to the southwest corner of said congressional township 6, range 1; thence north on the line dividing ranges 1 and 2, to the southern line of the lands owned by Samuel and Virgil Dowden, being a fifty acre tract on the north end of the northwest quarter of section 30, township 6, range 1; thence east on the eastern and southern line of said Dowden's land, to the east and west section line dividing sections 19 and 30 in said township 6; thence east on said line to the southeast corner of said section 19; thence north on the north and south section line dividing sections 19 and 20, to the west fork of Tanners creek; thence down said fork to the junction of the north and west forks of Tanners creek; thence up the north fork of Tanners creek, to where a north and south line drawn through the center of section 7, township 6, range 1, strikes said fork."

Miller township lands were purchased from the government early in the county's history. The desirable bottom lands about where the village of Cambridge was once located were too attractive to escape the eye of the good judges of real estate, such as the early pioneers were. Settlements were commenced as early as 1804, and the rugged frontiersmen continued to push their way out the natural roadway of Tanners creek until government lands were a thing of the past. The first settlers, like those who first located on the other tributaries of the Ohio river, in the county. were men of strong character; men of affairs, with a strong grasp on the possibilities of the country. The first settlers came in 1804 and the last piece of land to be entered was in the year 1836. In 1836 George Cook and Levi Swan entered a part of section 5, and William Smith entered a part of section 8, both of them in congressional township 6, range 1 west, in which congressional township all of Miller township is situated.

In 1804 Jacob Blasdel and Archibald Stark entered all of section 28, and Jacob Blasdel took up a portion of section 29. Thaddeus Cooley entered a portion of section 27, the same year, and Charles Dawson entered a part of section 23. Noble Butler entered a part of section II, and Thomas Miller a part of section 13, the same year. Also Robert McConnell entered a part of section 14. Sections 27, 28 and 29 lie along Tanners creek and much of the land entered by Jacob Blasdel is yet in the hands of his descendants. Sections 11, 13 and 14 are close to the state line and near the old Sugar Grove burying grounds.

Following these first entries John Dawson came into the township in 1806 and entered a part of section 20. This land remained the property of the family until recently, when the part that included the old homestead was sold and is now the property of Martin Miller. The land entered by Jacob Blasdel is largely now the property of Ambrose E. Nowlin, Ferris J. Nowlin, H. L. Nowlin and Robert J. Nowlin, all of them descendants of Jacob Blasdel. In 1806 there was entered, besides that entered by John Dawson, a portion of section 2, by Jacob R. Compton. In 1808 William Torrence and Thomas Fuller purchased a part of section 14; Abiah Hayes a part of section 22; Henry C. Smith and John McCleave a part of section 27. In 1806 John Ewbank came from England and entered, in 1811, a part of section 17, and in 1817 entered parts of sections 20 and 17.

In 1809 Michael Shanks bought from the government a part of section 12 on the state line. Michael Shanks also purchased, in 1814, a portion of section 21, on Salt Fork creek, where his descendants still reside and own some of the same lands.

The lands situated along the state line were adjacent to those in Whitewater township, Ohio, and were settled about the same time. Some of the sections entered are not far from the Vhitewater river and overlook that stream from the hills to the westward. Some of the early settlers in the Great Miami bottoms entered lands in Miller township in order to have uplands for grazing purposes, the lands in the bottoms being subject to overflow and not so good for pasturage.

In 1815 Joseph Hayes entered a part of section 23; in 1829 Walter Hayes entered a part of section 15, and in 1809 Abiah Hayes entered a part of section 22. In 1815 Ezekiel Jackson entered a part of section 22, and in 1817 Enoch Jackson entered a part of section I. In 1830 Ezekiel Jackson also entered a part of section 21, and in 1831 Enoch and Ezekiel Jackson entered some more of the same section. Some of this land is yet in the hands of the descendants of these prominent pioneer settlers.

THE FIRST SETTLER.

John Dawson and a man by the name of John White are credited by some with being the first to settle in the township. It is claimed by some authorities that they came into the township in 1796. Mr. White died in the township in 1852, in the ninetieth year of his age. He was a native of Maryland, moving to Pennsylvania, and in 1792 coming from that state to North Bend, from whence he came into Miller township. When he died it was claimed that he died in the same house he had erected for himself fifty eight years previous and that it was the third cabin erected in the settlement. It is very probable that there is a slight mistake in the statement for it would make his cabin erected as early as 1794, and the three other cabins would be even at an earlier date, which is hardly possible, unless they were hunters and only lived in the cabins while out on a hunt.

John Dawson was one of the first men to settle in the township and his son, Harrison Dawson, who lived on the lands entered from the government by his father, is authority for the statement that his father came into the township in 1799. Mr. Dawson died in 1848, in his seventy fourth year, having resided in the house in which he died more than forty years. He was a native of the eastern shore of Maryland, but was raised in Virginia, and when grown, immigrated to Tennessee, thence to Kentucky, and from there to Miller township. He at one time was a large landowner in the township.

It is said of Mr. Dawson that during the Indian troubles several of a band of redmen entered his cabin and attempted to tomahawk Dawson and his wife. He could talk the Indian language sufficiently well to make them understand his meaning, and drawing his rifle upon them, told them not to stir upon their peril, for the first one that moved his tomahawk would he a dead man. Holding them all at bay, he talked to them and demanded that they get out of the house, which they were very prompt to obey. He shot a large panther which was just in the act of jumping upon him, and also killed a large elk on the Darling ridge, which is thought to have been the last in the neighborhood. One of Mr. Dawson's sons was appointed under General Jackson to a position in the land office at Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and he there became prominent in the affairs of that locality; his children and descendants are well known and active in public affairs there to this day.

The Jackson family is to this day one of the most prominent families in the township and in numbers it stands among the first. Enoch Jackson and Ezekiel Jackson both entered land from the government, and their father, John Jackson, was one of the first settlers in the township. He came from the state of Maryland with his family in the year 1798. His children were John, Ezekiel, Enoch, Susan and Sally. Susan became the wife of John Dawson, and Sally the wife of Charles Dawson. The old pioneer died in 1814 and his wife in 1823. John Jackson, the father, was drowned in Tanners creek while attempting to ford the stream during a freshet. His son, John Jackson, married in Kentucky before the family came to the township. He came here with his father and purchased land from others on the site of what was afterwards called Georgetown, where he erected a brick house which is standing today and in good condition. It is probably the oldest brick house standing in the county today. There was a postoffice at Georgetown for a number of years, probably in the decades between 1820 and 1840. At one time, it is claimed, the mail between Cincinnati and Indianapolis was carried via Georgetown, and the mail vehicle stopped there for the carrier to eat dinner. A cemetery was laid out there about 1820 and many of the early settlers are sleeping their last sleep in that quiet spot. During the muster day period it was one of the places of rendezvous, and many were the good old times spent at these gatherings.

INFLUENTIAL MEN OF EARLY DAYS.

Enoch Jackson, another son of John Jackson, was born in the township in the year 1804, and on growing to manhood became a public spirited man with much interest in the political affairs of the county and nation. He served his county as a member of the Legislature. It is claimed by some that Edward Eggleston's politician in "Rory" was Enoch Jackson, and that the scene of the book was laid on Salt Fork. This may or may not be true, but Mr. Jackson was a very prominent man in a political way and was a good citizen. His brother. Ezekiel Jackson, was a much older man, and was also an active man in political affairs and lie, too. served Ins county in the Legislature four times during the years from 1820 to 1830. The family have kept up their reputation as patriotic men interested in the welfare of their country and take an active part in political affairs; a son of Enoch served as county treasurer from 1857 to 1861, and another son, Edward, serving his county in the Legislature during the first part of the decade between 188o and 189o, while another son, Francis M., was township trustee for several terms and county treasurer two terms.

Major Decker Crozier was one of the influential men of the Georgetown neighborhood, where he resided and where he drilled many a company during the far famed muster days. George W. Lane says of him from personal acquaintance: "Major Crozier was associated with Captain McGuire in building blockhouses and with the men under his command patrolled the country between them, thus protecting the infant settlements, which during the War of 1812, only extended about four miles back into the country, since most of those who had located land farther out had, for security, moved to Lawrenceburg, or some other place that was secure. Major Crozier was a stonemason and a farmer, and when the writer first knew him was living on one of the best hill farms in Dearborn county. He had a strong arm; the grip of his hand was equal to a blacksmith's vise and, like Logan, he knew no fear. Major Crozier's life was spared to see, if not a large family, a family of large men grow up around him, and witnessed extensive improvements in the wilderness country he had so often traveled before a tree was cut or a path had been blazed."

Job Judd, a soldier of the Revolution, came to the county in 1817, from the state of New York. He was the father of Orrin Judd.

Aaron Bonham, with his father's family, came to Cincinnati in 1796, from which point he came to the Whitewater valley, and, it is claimed, erected the first cabin west of that river. He served in Captain McGuire's company in the War of 1812, and after the war married a member of the Guard family and located in the eastern part of Miller township.

Jehu Goodwin settled on Salt Fork in i800. He was among the Indians so much that he learned their language. It is said that he once went to one of their camps near Georgetown and joined their sports. He could out jump, out run and out shoot them, so he jokingly said: "Indian good for nothing; I beat him at jump, run and shoot and now I can beat him at bow and arrow." In a moment an Indian seized a bow and drew a bead on him, his eye flashing, and Goodwin thought his hour had come, but another Indian in a moment grasped the arm and turned away the shot and Goodwin escaped.

EXPERIENCE OF A PIONEER GIRL.

Alexander Piles settled in the township in 1807. His son, George Piles, married a young lady who has been raised in the vicinity of Boonesborough, and whose mother and father were pioneers there. Mrs. George Piles was very athletic, and on one occasion when she was about seventeen years of age, she was staying in the stockade at Cambridge with her parents, on account of the Indians being seen nearby and were thoughf to be on the warpath. Her parents' house was only about a mile from the stockade and she remembered that they had left at home a cedar churn and she needed it for churning, for they had brought their cow along. So she and another girl of about the same age started to their home to get the churn. She says. "Out we went and got well on our way to the house, when going through a hazel copse I saw a dog sitting watching us with his ears cocked, and I said to my companion: 'Jessie, look at that dog,' when just as I spoke up jumped an Indian. As soon as we saw him we started and ran for the stockade, the Indian in chase, but we were too quick for him and when we got into the open ground lost sight of him. As soon as we got to the fort we told the rangers and they started in pursuit."

Jacob Blasdel, who settled on Tanners creek, at the locality where he afterwards laid off the town of Cambridge, now a switch on the Big Four railway called Pella, was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts, April 8, 1754. He was a blacksmith by trade andworked in the Brentwood iron works. He married Ruth Morse, of Brenton, March 25, 1791. He had served in the Revolutionary War. Shortly after his marriage he immigrated with his wife to Columbus, Ohio, then in 1804 he came to Miller township, settling on Tanners creek on what was even at that time called "Cherry Bottoms." He soon after locating there erected a grist mill, the old race can yet be traced. It was after that for a number of years called Blasdels Mills. Later on he laid out the town of Cambridge there. In recent years it has been called Pella, although the school house near the residence of H. M. Shanks is given the name of "Cherry School," after the original name given in the early part of the last century. Mr. Blasdel brought with him his family of four sons and four daughters. He and his son Enoch served in the War of 1812. He was a public spirited man and was very active in everything that helped to develop the country. He deeded a lot in Cambridge to be used for school purposes, which in the quaint language of the time specified that it should be used for educational purposes "So long as grass grows and water runs." The first building erected on the site donated is said to have been a log one with a puncheon floor, a huge fireplace, and the seats for the pupils were made from slabs of trees with legs inserted by means of auger holes. The house was called an "academy" and it has been claimed that some of the higher branches were taught there by some of the teachers. The ground has continued to be used for school purposes from the days of the rude "academy" to this day.

A FAMILY OF PATRIOTS.

Jacob Blasdel had four sons, Enoch, Jacob, Jonathan and Elijah. each of whom reared a large family. His daughters, of which there were four, married as follows: Nabby married Thomas Townsend and had no children; Ruth married Elisha Scoggins; Sally married twice, first to Ezekiel Harper, then to Leonard Chase; Betsy to Aaron Boroughs and after his death to William Leper. Each family was identified with the early history of the country. Jacob Blasdel's son Jacob, it is said, made the first temperance speech ever heard in the county. It was at a campmeeting held in the forest on the tract of land recently laid off and platted by the Greendale Land Company in their addition to Greendale. He got up to talk and attempted to tell the "cost of a bottle of whisky" and told of a barn raising at his place, where one man lost his life on account of hands made unsteady by liquor, letting the timbers slip. At that time temperance was not popular, the ministers tried to sing him down but he was possessed of a powerful voice and raising it he continued to pour out his invective against the use of liquor and it is said was only silenced by being pulled down by the coat tails. He was also a very public spirited man with strong convictions on other subjects besides temperance. Among the descendants of Jacob Blasdel in Dearbqrn county are Ambrose E. Nowlin, banker; F. J. Nowlin, Harry L. Nowlin, and R. J. Nowlin, now trustee of Miller township, farmers; J. H. Eubank, abstractor; L. J. Eubank, and 'W. A. Harper, T. W. Harper and Sherwood Blasdel.

Jacob Blasdel had four sons, Enoch, Jacob, Jonathan and Elijah, each have had something to do with the patriotism of the Blasdel family. Patriotism is strenghtened by training, and the family of Blasdels had it to an unusual degree. A list is here appended to some of Jacob Blasdel's descendants who served their country in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865: James M, Blasdel, Jacob W. Blasdel, Lewis Crosby and Jacob Crosby, Second Illinois Cavalry; Thomas Blasdel, Ferris J. Nowlin, Charles B. Blasdel, Jonathan B. Nowlin, John Blasdel, Huron Blasdel and Alonzo Jackson, Eighty third Indiana Infantry; George Blasdel, Fifty second Indiana Infantry; Richard Robinson and Anthony Blasdel.

The advance guard of the English to settle in Miller township was John Eubank. Mr. Eubank immigrated to this country in 1805, and in a short time sent for his family; then came to Miller township in November, 1811, entering a large tract of land on which some of his descendants are living to this day. George W. Lane describes him as "A plain matter of fact kind of a man. of few word, and in trading with him in old times, the less bragging you did over your goods, wares, etc., the sooner you could strike a bargain. It might be said John never kissed the 'blarney stone.' " He has a numerous family of descendants in the township to this day and they are all of the best citizens.

About 1818 and 1819 quite a number of settlers came into the township from the vicinity of John Ewbank's home in England, among whom were the Smiths, Sawdons, Hargitts, Liddles, Cornforths, Lazenbys. Many of their descendants are living on the ground taken up by their forbears from the government. They are a fine class of people, and have acquired property and are of the kind that make our country a stable one.

AN EARLY ADVERTISEMENT.

The town of Cambridge, which was laid out by Jacob Blasdel, at one time had a little prosperity. There was the Blasdel grist mill, a store, hotel, blacksmith shop and a number of houses there. In the Western Statesman of March 17, 1830. Jacob Blasdel had his grist mill at Cambridge advertised for sale. About the same time an announcement was made in the same paper as follows: "Public Entertainment. The subscriber respectfully informs his friends and the public in general that he has opened a house of public entertainment in Cambridge, Dearborn county, Indiana. Six and one half miles from Lawrenceburg, five from Elizabethtown, five from Heustis's, Manchester township. On the nearest route from Cincinnati to Versailles, Napoleon, etc. His House and Stable are well situated for the accommodation of travelers, who may see proper to give him a call. His Bar is supplied with good liquors and his Stable with Forage. He flatters himself from the experience he has had that he will give general satisfaction, and solicits a share of public patronage. W. F. RIPLEY."

When Miller township was organized it was ordered that an election be held, and accordingly the first election ever held in the township was ordered by the board of commissioners held at the house of Jesse Goodwin, with Isaac Jackson, inspector, and a township clerk, trustee and justice of the peace were elected.

UNWELCOME NEIGHBORS.

The name of Cherry Bottoms, that has clung to the Tanners creek bottoms in the vicinity of what is called Cherry school house, is said to have originated from a family by the name of Cherry who lived there as squatters before Jacob Blasdel entered the land in 1804. It is said that the family settled there claiming they had a Virginia land warrant that enabled them to have a legal claim on a vast amount of land anywhere in the Northwest Territory, the warrant dating back before the territory was ceded to the United States; and the Cherrys are said to have settled on the land very early, even earlier than some or any of the settlers in the county. They were a family inclined to take the law in their own hands and encouraged others to live in their neighborhood of the same character. One of the sons traded for a horse in Cincinnati and started home with it when it developed that the person he had traded with had stolen it, and the Cincinnati authorities thought that young Cherry was the man that had stolen the horse. A constable was sent on his trail and Cherry, not knowing of the circumstances, was soon caught up with and arrested. The officer of the law, in order to be sure of his prisoner, tied him on the stolen horse, which, not being well broken, broke away and running, killed the young man, who could not get loose. This incited the ire of the Cherrys, who at once proceeded to Cincinnati and hunting up the constable, shot him unceremoniously. Knowing it was an unlawful deed the family concluded that it was best to get away, so they brought what little household goods they might have to the river, secured a boat and floated away to the southland. It is claimed that descendants of the family are yet found living not many miles from Galveston. It is certain that in the vicinity of Cambridge there was a gang of horse thieves immediately after the Tanners creek lands were entered from the government. The Cherrys, if they ever had any legal claim, lost it when they departed to escape trial for their crime, and nothing further was ever heard of them or the old Virginia land warrant.

JOHN EWBANK.

John Ewbank, the first, of Tanners creek, Dearborn county. Indiana, was born in Yorkshire, England, in the year 1752. the eldest son of an English farmer, of French Huguenot descent. At this fatner's deathbed he was left as the head of the family and the presumable holder of the lease, and "bred, his younger brothers to the trades." After his father's family were grown and off his hands, in the year 1792, at the age of forty years, he married Ann Chapman, a young woman of great force of character and a strict follower of Wesley, and with the Wesleyans or Methodists he cast his lot either at the time of his marriage or a few years before.

In the year 1805, he was forced to pay a security debt for a friend, at about the same time the ninety nine year lease of the farm expired, and on account of his belongingto the non conformist church, the landlord refused the customary renewal. Thus he found himself at the age of fifty three, with his ready money and his leasehold gone and with a wife and large family to support. Leaving his wife and children in England, in the year 1805 he sailed for New York, and took service as a farm laborer. He was soon promoted to a manager's position, and soon after became a managing partner in a stock farm. In 1807 he was able to send for his wife and family of ten children, with whom he settled in the state of New Jersey, and there he farmed as a tenant for four years.

In the year 1811 he sold off his stock and tools and with his family drove over the mountains to Pittsburgh, where he built a flatboat and floated down the river to Cincinnati, where he staid some time while prospecting. He finally purchased lands on Tanners creek, acquiring five and one half quarter sections about one mile north and east of the present town of Guilford, including parts or all of the farms now owned by W. F. Ward, A. Liddle, Hufman & Miller, A. E. Snell, N. Vogelgesang, J. H. Smith, J. L. Bundy, C. Andrews, G. W. Harper, C. E. Liddle, N. A. Ewbank, H. Woods, A. K. Hansell, A. W. Darling and Joseph McCawley.

His family consisted of six sons, Thomas, John, Lancelot, Benjamin, Martin and David, who was killed by a falling tree at the age of sixteen years, and lies buried at the yard of the old stone church; and four daughters, Ann, who married William Smith; Frances, who married Joseph Hall; Hannah, who married John Hall; and Rhoda, who married George Randall.

John Ewbank was a leader among the English settlers who followed him into the neighborhood where he was the first Englishman to settle, He was class leader of the Tanner's creek class of the Methodist church from its organization until his death in the year 1832. Following the same principles which had made his ancestors exiles from France for conscience' sake, and had led to the persecution which drove him in his old age from England, he took an active part in the fight for freedom of the laity in the Methodist church. After his death his family were among the leaders in organizing the Methodist Protestant church, on strictly republican principles, where each member should have a vote in the management of the church affairs, especially in the finances, and where the higher ecclesiastics should never get beyond a strict accountability to the laymen.

With most of his children John Ewbank sleeps in the churchyard which he donated to the church he loved and help build, in the community which he helped establish, and any of his descendants that fight as good a fight and keep the faith as well, may well claim to show themselves workmen that needeth not to be ashamed.


Return to [ Indiana History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Indiana Biographies ]


Indiana Counties at this web site - Cass - Clay - Dearborn - Elkhart - Fayette - Gibson - Hancock - Hendrick - Henry - Miami - Monroe - Montgomery - Porter - Posey - Putnam - Rush - St. Joseph - Tippecanoe - Wabash

Also see the local histories for [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ PA ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]


All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy