Sunday, April 27, 2014

APRIL 30, 1814

200 years ago this month, George Beck probably rode through the Benjamin Brewer homestead to see how the settlement of Salem was progressing. Being of German descent from Rowan County, North Carolina, Beck was amused that the newly placed seat of government for a County named after George Washington could not be called Mount Vernon because Mary Pitts Lindley was concerned that those of German heritage could not properly pronounce it. He was hopeful that this new town would benefit business at his mill rather than hurt it. On his trips from the mill to Royse’s Lick, he often noticed the pall of smoke from the burning of brush and timber from the newly cleared farmsteads. There was little smoke around Beck’s Mill as the barrens were no longer annually burned off by the Indians to maintain its prairie appearance. Since the Pigeon Roost Massacre about a year and a half before, the Lenni Lenape bands of Old Ox and Highland had left the area due to hostility from the settlers entering their former home. With no timber in the barrens south of Beck’s Mill, this land was not being claimed and cleared.

APRIL 27, 1814

200 years ago today the sale of lots in the newly platted county seat of Washington County, Indiana was a slow market as the town's streets and public area had not yet been cleared of its forest and underbrush. Smoke was arising from the south end of the platted area of Main Street by Royse's Fork as brush and trees were being cleared there to determine how best to later build a bridge. In fact, smoke loomed throughout Washington County and the Indiana Territory as recently arrived settlers were beginning the process of deforestation to clear land for agriculture. 1816 would be called "The Year Without a Summer" because of the smoke from deforestation and the worldwide atmospheric effect from the Tambora volcano located in the Dutch East Indies. In 1800 it was estimated that there were 20 million acres of forest in what became the State of Indiana. By 1900 only 1.8 million of this original forest remained in Indiana.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

APRIL 26, 1814

200 years ago Alexander Little was expecting Washington County’s first peach harvest on his farm just northeast of Royse’s Lick. Alexander Little was one of the 3 sureties on John DePauw’s $5,000 bond to guarantee his performance as the sales agent for the lots in his plat of Salem. Little came to the Indiana Territory from Mercer Co. Kentucky in about 1808. Like many of his fellow settlers he was a native Virginian having been born there in 1779. His father had emigrated from Scotland having come from the Dumfries area which was the home of the poet Robert Burns. Little was appointed the first “lister” of the county to regulate prices charged by various business ventures and to enumerate properties subject to tax in the newly formed county . He must have been rather judicious in his official duties as he was elected to the Indiana House in the first State election of 1816. Little later moved to Hendricks County, Indiana which was formed in 1824.

Friday, April 25, 2014

APRIL 24, 1814

200 years ago today, Isaac Newton Blackford was serving under his commission from Governor Thomas Posey as the first Clerk and Recorder of Washington County, Indiana. He was a 28 year old attorney who came west 6 years after graduating from Princeton College in New Jersey. Before 1814 was over, his abilities led to his appointment as the Clerk of the Territorial Council. In 1817 he was appointed as the first Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court by Governor Jonathan Jennings. He served on the Indiana Supreme Court for 38 years and became known as the “Indiana Blackstone”. Blackford County, Indiana is named for him. There is no known record of his observations of the array of frontier personalities that he encountered in his brief sojourn here. Will there ever be another local bar member who is a Princeton Tiger?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

APRIL 23, 1814

200 years ago, George Brock and Catherine Zink Brock and their sons-in-law, Adam Barnett, Frederick Neideffer and son George Brock, Jr. were watching the clearing of John DePauw’s town with curiosity. They were far enough north and up the creek so as not to be disturbed by its activity but close enough to do business on a daily basis if the lots got sold and a court house built. They had toiled hard in order to pay for and make improvements on the 640 acres they had bought from the Jeffersonville Federal Land Office in the last 3 years. They also allowed settlers such as Godlove Kamp to rent part of their land while seeking out their own land for settlement. Brock already had a cemetery on his land from the death of a daughter, Catherine Brock Neideffer, and a nephew, John Zink, who died of wounds at Vallonia incurred in a skirmish with Indians that had raided the area. The Brocks were hoping that they could start using their land occupied by the trail that went from the White River ford to Royse’s Lick. If Salem became the center of local activity, then roads would lead to Salem instead of Royse’s Lick.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

APRIL 22, 1814

200 years ago this week, Sheriff William Hoggatt realized how much territory he had to cover in Washington County which was now his new bailiwick. Without a jail or available deputies, he must have hoped that settlers on the Indiana frontier would be generally civil and neighborly. The patrolling of the Indiana Militia to protect against Indian depredation should also help maintain general conduct in the area. In addition to keeping the peace, the primary duty of Sheriff Hoggatt was the collection of taxes. In April 1816, Hoggatt along with Marston G. Clark and Joseph Kitchell laid out the town of Bono between Clifty Creek and Sugar Creek near the south bank of Driftwood River in the newly created Orange County, Indiana.  Later in 1816, he had moved on to western Indiana where he selected the site for Terre Haute for a group of investors called The Terre Haute Company. An agreement regarding the transfer of shares in this company included enough Salem speculators so as to prompt its recording with Washington County Recorder Basil Prather.,-86.3211111,2111m/data=!3m1!1e3

Monday, April 21, 2014

APRIL 21, 1814

200 years ago today, the first 3 judges of the Washington Circuit Court were Jonathan Lindley, Moses Hoggatt and Simeon Lamb. They were commissioned by the Indiana Territory government. These judges also functioned as the county executive until commissioners were first elected in 1817. All 3 were of Quaker affiliation. Jonathan Lindley was the leader of a large group of Quakers that emigrated from Orange County, NC in 1811 to Lick Creek which was then included within the boundaries of Washington County in late 1813. Moses Hoggatt settled to the immediate northwest of Royse's Lick in 1809. He frequently hosted the Indiana Rangers as they forayed out from Corydon on patrol to the White River area in pursuit of hostile Native Americans. Lamb as previously reported was a physician and ran the trading post at Royse’s Lick. By this time, Mary Pitts Lindley was getting tired of them constantly meeting in her house just south of the new “town” with all their attendants and visitors with muddy boots.

Friday, April 18, 2014

APRIL 18, 1814

200 years ago this month, Amos Thornburg was working on the northwest corner of his 110 acre homestead at the confluence of Royse’s Fork of Blue River and Highland Creek. He had heard stories of how Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) had burned a witch from Highland’s band of Delaware Indians at this location. His brother in law, James Harbison, who was settled just northeast of him and Godlove Kamp and Samuel Blankenbaker, who settled to the north by the large spring on Highland Creek often shared tales of their encounters with the local members of the Delaware bands of Highland and Old Ox.  Thornburg and his neighbors were pleased that Washington County had been formed and that a county seat was under development.  Doing official business in Salem would be much better than having to go to Corydon. Thornburg was a settler of some means and was checking frequently with John DePauw on the sale of lots in Salem as he and Harbison and Alexander Little were the sureties on his $5,000 fidelity bond.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

APRIL 15, 1814

200 years ago this month James Harbison and his wife Nancy Glazebrook Harbison prepared to plant crops on the farm they had received title to in July of 1813. The farm lay in the rolling upland between Brock Creek named after George Brock and Highland Creek named after a Delaware Indian. They also wondered where the neighbors on their east line, Benjamin and Katherine Brewer, would relocate now that they had sold their farm for the development of Salem. The Harbisons had both been born in Virginia and were married in Lincoln Co, Ky. where the Charles DePauw family had lived before emigrating to the Indiana Territory. Harbison noticed that Royse's Fork would occasionally flood impeding access to Salem from the state capitol and markets near the Falls of the Ohio. He decided to suggest to John DePauw that a bridge should be built at the south end of Main Street whenever it was cleared and graded.

Friday, April 11, 2014

APRIL 11, 1814

About 200 years ago today, Simeon Lamb and Jacob Mendenhall were trying to recover from a failed business partnership. According to the Stevens Centennial History, Lamb built one of the first crude structures in the new town of Salem. It was located on Lot 83 which is at the southeast corner of the intersection of East Walnut Street and North High Street. A store of sorts was built there even though none of the streets had yet been cleared of trees and underbrush. Lamb had taken over the trading post at the salt lick from Frederick Royse in about 1804. Although the trading post was being surrounded by new settlers staking claims to the newly opened land around the Saline Reserve and the School Section, Lamb must have realized that the settlement of Salem would spell doom for his trading post. Lamb and Mendenhall formed some sort of venture which led to Mendenhall's financial ruin. Mendenhall lost his 160 acres immediately north of Benjamin Brewer. The tract was acquired by Zachariah Nixon who quickly started to develop it when Salem was laid out. The new store on North High built by Lamb must have had some initial success as Mendenhall was able to take title to the lot on 4/15/1815 after paying his purchase balance to John DePauw a year after contracting to buy it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

APRIL 10, 2014

Easter Sunday 1814 occurred on April 10. The early settlers of Washington County, Indiana were of diverse religious affiliation including Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Covenanters, Friends, Lutherans, and Brethern (Dunkards). However, the only known church building existing then was for an independent congregation located on the Middle Fork of Blue River known as the New Lights/Free Will Baptists. This location of this church was next to the Old Blue River Cemetery at the end of Katy Lane. It was located on the southwest corner of the Amos Wright homestead with his son John Wright as the preacher. At that time, other denominations met in the homes of members or were attended to by circuit riders such as William Cravens who was one of my 4th great grandfathers.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9, 1814

Town Trustee Thomas Beasley located Salem's first tavern at a position of advantage. He bought lot 106 in April 1814 from John DePauw with 25% down and the balance in 1 year. He recorded his deed on April 16, 1815. The tavern was located on the southeast corner of DePauw's plat on the natural terrace overlooking Royse's Fork of Blue River where the road to the Falls of the Ohio [now Martinsburg Road] entered Salem. The approximate location is pinned on the Google map below.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

APRIL 6, 1814

200 years ago today, Quaker farmer Andrew Pitts was probably discussing with his wife Margaret Braxton Pitts how the platting of a town named Salem on the west property line of their homestead might affect them. His brother in law, William Lindley, was already talking of plans to sell the remaining part of his homestead located north of Royse's Fork that was next to the new plat. The Pitts' son, Thomas, was proud of his efforts in helping John DePauw and Levi Wright lay out and stake the plat. The Pitts considered seeking buyers for that part of their farm located on the hill west of the river.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April 5, 1814

200 years ago today, Quaker farmer Andrew Pitts was probably discussing with his wife Margaret Braxton Pitts how the platting of a town named Salem on the west property line of their homestead might affect them. His brother in law, William Lindley, was already talking of plans to sell the remaining part of his homestead located north of Royse's Fork that was next to the new plat. The Pitts' son, Thomas, was proud of his efforts in helping John DePauw and Levi Wright lay out and stake the plat. The Pitts considered seeking buyers for that part of their farm located on the hill west of the river.

Friday, April 4, 2014

April 4, 2014

200 years ago today on April 4, 1814, General John DePauw as Territorial Agent for the Town of Salem filed the original plat for Salem of 142 lots with Isaac Blackford as County Recorder. The north boundary was Hackberry Street; the east boundary was east of High Street; the south boundary was Royse's Fork of Blue River and the west boundary was Mill Street. He was supposed to advertise for sale the lots by the 2d Tuesday in April, so he just did beat the deadline. Legend has it that the plat was laid out with a chain made of a grapevine. DePauw was assisted by Levi Wright and Thomas Pitts. DePauw was authorized to sell the lots on credit with 25% down and the balance due in 1 year. Was there a land rush? Stay tuned.