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North Vernon Plain Dealer - February 23, 1876

Believed to have been written by Lemuel H. Prather editor of the North Vernon Plain Dealer in 1876.

    In writing the history of so small a community as a county, it is not necessary to discuss the extaneous causes that led to its settlement. While the causes that set the tide of emigration in the direction of Indiana might be clearly marked, and would be of interest to general readers, yet, in writing a history of the county, it would more pertinent to narrate the events of its settlement, and these, undoubtedly, would be more interesting to its citizens. It may be remarked, however, that longing for change of circumstances, desire to better one's condition in life, love of adventure, preference for the pioneer life, and, in many circumstances, the hope of escaping the just retribution for broken laws, are the general causes that induce emigration; and the supposed reaching of these attainments, is the consideration to which we may trace almost every individual settlement in a new country. We may truthfully say, however, that we know of no refugees from justice among the early settlers. Most of these latter reasons that directly influence settlement, are hid in the breast of the settler, and, if known at all, scarcely live longer than the first or second generation: hence, thair existance can only be indicated from circumstances and anology.
    With this view we shall write what facts and traditions we have been able to gather in the short space in which we have undertaken to write this history.
    The greater part of Jennings county was obtained from the Indians by what the old settlers called "the Grouse-land Purchase", so named from the great number of grouse found in it. This purchase was made about the year 1811, and compromised a great portion of the sourthern part of Indiana, including that part of Jennings county which lies south-east of a line that ran north-east and south-west through the north-western part of the county. This line may be located by extending the north-west boundary line of Columbia township south-west through the county. It would leave Scipio a very short distance to the north of the line. All that country north-west of this line belonged to the Indians until 1815, when their rights to it were extinguished by what was known as the "New Purchase", which made all the land in the county subject to entry.
    The county is well watered. The north and south forks of the Muscatatuck flow south-west through the north-east part until they reach each other near the center, at Vernon, where they unite in one stream and continue their course to the south-western part of the county. Graham creek flows in the same direction through the south-eastern part, and Sand creek takes about the same direction through the north-western part. Big creek forms a part of the south-east boundary. It has other smaller creeks,-such as Crooked creek in the eastern part, Coffee creek in the southern part, and Six-Mile creek in the western part. These creeks have more or less rich bottom lands, which were sought after, and were occupied by the early settlers.
    The first settlement in the county was made by Col. John Vawter at the junction of the north and south forks of the Muscatatuck. Mr. Vawter was a civil engineer, and, while surveying through that part of the country in 1815, was attracted by its picturesque beauty and good soil, and determined to make it his home, and also to make it a town-site, as it was desirably located for that purpose. In August, 1815, the town was surveyed and platted, and the first salle of town-lots was made in September of the same year, while the place and the surrounding country was yet an unbroken forest. The limpid waters of the shady Muscatatuck washed its unbroken banks, and the wild animals and not much less wild Indians claimed the coveted spot as their home. Such a faith in one's own judgement and energies seems to have belonged to those days; at least, it was possessed by Col. Vawter, who, in the same year the town was located, built him a log cabin on the town-site, and in the winter following improvised a fence around it out of brush on the west, north and south sides, and of beech and sugar-tree rails on the east side.
    The nearest neighbor at this time was John Badgley, who lived on Camp creek, ten miles from Vernon on the road to Madison.
    In the spring of 1816, Col. Vawter's solitude was shared and lightened by the arrival of a neighbor in the person of Andrew Young. Mr. Achilles Vawter and family were the next additions to the little community, and in the same year were followed by William Prather, Alexander Lewis, William Padgett, William T. Stott and Joseph Newton.
    Mr. John Vawter sold his cabin to Mr. Newton, which was the first transfer of real estate in the county. Mr. Padgett settled on the Muscatatuck about one and a half miles north of Vernon, where Mr. G. W. Penniston now lives, and Mr. Stott settled on the same stream one mile further north, where Mr. Raridon now lives. William Prather settled on the south fork of the Muscatatuck one and a half miles east of Vernon, on the land now owned by Mr. Hinchman.
    Out of thirty-five head of sheep Mr. Prather brought with him from Clark's Grant, on the next morning after his arrival at his new home, there was but one left; the wolves having devoured the others.
    In 1815, Mr. Wm. James settled in Montgomery township on the land now owned by Dicks and Roberts.
    In the next year Ebenezer Brandon settled in the same neighborhood. His farm is still known as "the Brandon farm."
    The following year John Roberts and Sylvester Roberts added their number to the new neighborhood, the former located on the farm now owned by J. H. Cox, and the latter on that owned by R. L. Dicks.
    In 818, Jacob Earl settled the farm now owned by John Ross, and about the same time Peter Weaver entered the land now belonging to Benjamin Crenning.
    Albert Roberts and John James settled in that part of the county in 1820, the land entered by the latter is now divided into several farms and owned by W. H. Conner, J. H. Conway and others.
    North-east of this neighborhood Mr. Benjamin Merrill and Lawson Stephenson settled on Little Graham in 1818; the former on the farm now owned by Jas. Miles, and the latter on what now belonging to his sons, Charles and Azariah Stephenson.
    Sand Creek, in the northern part of the county, was settled in 1817, by Mr. John Winchell, about four miles above where Brewersville now is; Wm. Shields, on the farm now belonging to James H. M"Cammon; David and William M'Clay, just west of Brewersville; Adam Kellar, where Kellar's mill now stands; Mr. Wells and Mr. Cutler further down the creek, and John Latwright at the corssing of the Indian line.
    The settlement of the flats and uplands was much later, and is still in progress.
    In this year or the year following, Mr. J. Andrews settled on the north fork of the Muscatatuck about two miles north of Vernon. Other settlers came in rapidly and settled on the creek bottoms, the families of Campbell, Carson, Lattimore and Graham settling on the south fork; so that in the spring of 1817, Jennings county contained about one hundred families. Most of these must have settled in the spring of 1816, and immediately put in what crops of corn they could, for there seems to have been a demand for a mill, which Mr. John Vawter built on the Muscatatuck, three fourths of a mile east of Vernon, and which promised to be a source of considerable revenue to its enterprising owner but with the rising of the spirits by this pleasing expectancy, there also came a rise in the creek, which washed the mill away, after it had run only one day. This was a saw and grist-mill, with what was called a tub-wheel. He immediately went to work and rebuilt the mill, taking pains to avoid the cause that brought destruction to the first one. Shortly after this Mr. Branham and Mr. William Stribling built a horse mill at the head of the narrows. This was afterward used as a furniture factory.
    In 1819, Messrs. Josiah Andrews and Joseph Newton built a grist and saw-mill on the north fork, near the residence of the former. A distillery was also connected with it. Nothing now marks the site of this mill except the rock foundation on the west bank of the creek; the dam, machinery and superstructure having disappeared many years ago.
    Since the building of saw aand grist-mills was, as we believe, a very good index of the growing prosperity of those days, we have spoken of them in order to give some additional idea of the county at about the time of its organization, which took place in 1817.
    The first Sheriff in the county was Frederick Barrows, who received his office by appointment under the territorial government.
    The next Sheriff was Achilles Vawter, who was also appointed by the same government.
    The first Justice of the Peace was Alexander Lewis, and near the same time William T. Stott.
    In the spring of 1817, the county was organized and the following officers were elected:
    Jas. Stott, Clerk; Morris Baker, Sheriff; John Denslow and WIlliam Prather, Associate Judges; Samuel Graham, Samuel Campbell and Jas. Shepherd, County Commissioners.
    Mr. Shepherd came near not enjoying this discintion, for his competitor for the office, Mr. Baker, was just as popular at the log-rolling, house raising, huntings, and other things generally, as was Mr. Shepherd; so when they asked the suffrages of the people, there was a tie vote. When the judges of the election found there was a tie vote, they proposed to settle the question by lot, which was agreed to. Mr. Shepherd's and Mr. Baker's names were written on slips of paper and put in a hat, when the inevitable ever-present boy was selected to draw one of the slips from the hat and the first name drawn should be the Commissioner elect. The boy Smith Vawter, who was seven or eight years old, was first asked if he could read writing, and after having satisfactorily answered his interrogator, he was instructed to draw one of the slips from the hat. The first slip he put his finger on he could not get hold of very easily and abandoned it for the other-drawing forth the name of James Shepherd.
    The first Circuit Judge in the county was John Test, with William Prather and John Denslow as Associate Judges, and J. F. Dalemar was the first Prosecuting Attorney. The courts were held in a small frame building on the west bank of the Muscatatuck. The attorneys who attended this court were Jerehiah Sullivan, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Hawk.
    The first meeting of the Board of Commissioners was on the 6th day of May, 1817, the proceedings of which we give below:
                    "Vernon, 6th May, 1817
    "The Board of County Commissioners for Jennings county this day for the first appeared and producted the Sheriff's certificate of their having been duly elected with an endorsement on the back thereof by Alexander Lewis, Esqr., of their having severally taken the oaths prescribed by the Constitution of the State, viz: Samuel S. Graham, for three years; Samuel Campbell, for two years, and James Shepherd, for three years.
    "Whereupon it is ordered that John Vawter act as clerk to said board until the clerk to the Circuit Court of said county be commissioned and qualified as the law directs.
    "Ordered by the board that James Shepherd be authorized to call on Capt. Daniel Searls, one of the Commissioners for fixing the county seal, for all papers in his possession in relation to the same, and that he obtain said papers and have them present at the next meeting of the board.
    "Ordered by the board that John Vawter be appointed agent for the transaction of all such duties as are enjoined by an act of the late Terretorial Legislature, entitled, 'An act for fixing the seats of justice in all new counties hereafter to be laid off', approved March the 2nd, 1813, and that he give bond and security at the next meeting of said board, in the sum of fifteen thousand dollars, conditioned for the faithful discharge of his duty.
    "Ordered by the board that all that part of the county lying south dividing townships five and six, north, constitute the first township, to be designated and known by the name of 'Montgomery', and that an election be holden at the house of John Chambers, sr., on Monday, the thirty-first of this inst., for the purpose of electing one Justice of the Peace within and for said township, and that Walter Carson, jr., be appointed inspector of said election.
    "Ordered by the board that the remainder of Jennings county constitute the second township to be designated and known by the name of 'Vernon", and appoint the same day, for holding an election in Vernon for the purpose of electing one Justice of the Peach for said township, and making George Stribling inspector of said election.
    "Ordered by the board, that all that part of Ripley county that was attached to the county of Jennings constitute the third township, to be designated and known by the name of 'Franklin', and appointing an election to be held in the house of James Wooley, on the same day as above, for the purpose of electing two Justices of the Peace for said township, and appointing Joseph Clark inspector of said election.
    "Adjourned until tomorrow morning at nine o'clock.                SAMUEL GRAHAM"                     "Friday, 9th May 1817
    Met persuant to adjournment. Present, Samuel Graham, Samuel Campbell and James Shepherd.
    "On this day it was ordered that the agent for the county let to the lowest bidder the building of a stray-pound on the north-west corner of the public ground, to be built of hewn logs, 30 feet in length, to be 6 feet high, and to stand on blocks 18 inches high, and to be completed in 6 months. Also that the agent for the county let to the lowest bidder the building of a jail for the county, on the public grounds in Vernon, of the following dimensions: eighteen by sixteen feet square, of squaew logs twelve inches square, the lower floor to be of good oak, walnut, cherry, or locust timber, to be built on a stone wall of at least twelve inches above the highest point of ground where the same stand, with a floor of stone laid in the nature of a hearth under the timber, each story to be seven feet in the clear and both overlaid with logs of the same size above named, all to be good, sound and solid timber; to have two iron-grated windows in the upper story and two in the lower story, each to be twelve by eighteen inches square, with door in the upper story, well hung on iron hinges, and a hatch-door to communicate between the said upper and lower stories, well hung on iron hinges and with a good bar across the same; the houswe to be covered with a good joint-shingle roof and to be finished by the first day of next December
    "Also ordered that John Vawter have the use of the pblic grounds this year to sow a crop of oats, he sowing the same with timothy or blue grass.
    "Also ordered that the agent for the county give notice that the commissioners will give twenty-five dollars per year, for three years, to the first person who will build and rent to the county a house of the following size: to be of hewn logs, twenty-four feet in length by eighteen in width, one story high, a good tight roof, floor above and below laid down of loose plank from the saw, one door and shutter well hung, one twelve-light window, a good wooden chimney and fire-place, the walls to be made tight before winter comes on, and a sufficiency of benches for the accommodation of judges, commissioners, jurymen, etc.
    " Also ordered that the agent for the county purchase the necessary books for the benefit of the Circuit Court, the County Commissioners and the Recorder's office, making the best contract he can so as to have sufficient books for the several uses in the different offices.
    Ordered by the board that John Lattimore, John Chambers, sr. and John Hopkins be appointed Fence-Viewers for Montgomery township and that Ebenezer Brandon and John Miller, sr. be appointed Overseers of the Poor for sid township.
    "Ordered that Moses Neill be appointed Overseer of all that part of the Coffee-creek road that is in this county, and all the hands living within two miles north of Samuel T. Grahams, west of his land line, and on the waters of Coffee-creek do assist him in keeping the same in repair.
    "Ordered that Joseph Mounts be appointed Overseer of the Graham road, and all the hands living in the fifth township and eighth range, not allotted to Joseph Neil, do assist him in keeping the same in repair.
    "Ordered that Alexander Chambers, Maurice Baker and Aaron Holdman be appointed Fence-Viewers of Vernon township, and that William Hickman and George Stribling be appointed Overseers of the poor of said township.
    "Ordered that Daniel Wooley, Robert Creath and Joseph McIntosh be appointed Fence-Viewers for Franklin township, and that John Sanders and Henry Ditch be appointed Overseers of the poor for said township.
    Ordered that Geo. Roberts be appointed Overseer of all that part of the road between Jas. Burkman's and Lan Shery, and that all the hands living on Laughery or within five miles of said road, do assist him in keeping the same in repair.
    Ordered that Jas. Hamilton be appointed Overseer of all that part of the Laughery road from Jas. Burham's to the county line, at or near Charles David's, and that all the hands living on the waters of the Indian Kentucky and Franklin township, do assist him in keeping the same in repair.
    Ordered that Joseph Clark be appointed Overseer of the road from his house to the county line, and that all the hands living on the waters of Graham and the Big creek and within Franklin township, do assist him in keeping the same in repair.
    "Ordered that the board adjourn until the first day of April next.
    In this year the county seat was located at Vernon; Mr. John Vawter and Mr. David McClure donating grounds for the public square.
    In 1817 the county sent its first Representative, Mr. Zenas Kimberlan, to the Legislature, which then met at Corydon.
    When the county was first organized, there was no tax on real estate, except town lots which were taxed fifty cent on the one hundred dollars in value. Each horse, mule and yoke of oxen over three years old was taxed 37 1/2 cents. After this, land was taxed $1 per hundred acres for first rate-land, 87 1/2 cents for second-rate, and 67 1/2 cents for third-rate, which tax continued for several years. In 1818 the deliquent tax list, as returned, amounted to $6.99.
    The first church in the county was the Vernon Baptist church, established in Vernon on the 27th day of April, 1816, with Rev. Jesse Vawter as pastor, John Vawter as clerk, and William T. Stott, as moderator. The other members were William Padgett, Anna Padgett, Mary Stott, Nancy Lewis, and Margaret Stribling. They met in what was known as the common meeting house one the commons in the eastern part of Vernon. In this house most of the public and religious meeting were held for several years.
    The next church in the county was the Methodist Episcopal, which was organized at the house of William Prather, in 1817, where their meeting were held for many years Rev. Wm. Garner was their first pastor, then called circuit rider, and James Chitwood was their local preacher. This church was composed of the Conners, Blankenships, Broughers, Needhams, McClellans, Spauldings, Cheevers, Eastmans, Prathers and others.
    The Presbyterians established their church in Vernon in 1819, and on Graham about the same time. Rev. John FInley Crowe, afterward professor in Hanover College, was their pastor. Their membership was made up of the families of Andrews, Lattimore, Carson, Graham, Miller, Clapp, Torbet, Dobbins, Calahan, and others. All these soon made their influence felt on the side of temperance, morality and religion.
    In 1819 a sect sprang up by the name of New Lights, who held meetings in all parts of the county. They were great zealots and created much excitement among the people. At their meetings many would fall and remain in an unconcious state for hours and then rise shouting. Others would have what was called the "jerks," which would affect them as the name indicates, making them jerk and jump about in an unaccountable manner. These religious performances were too exhaustive to last long, and this denomination disappeared in a short time.
    The ministers of the Gospel in those days were not very well paid in this world's good. Elder John Strange's circuit included Hamilton Ohio, Brookville, Lawrenceburgh, Madison, Jeffersonville, Corydon, Salem, Brownstown, Columbus, Richmond and Connersville. The whole amount of cash payments on this circuit did not exceed $20 in one year. Contributions of jeans clothing, wool socks, cotton shirting, ets., were made. What a contrast is shown in this respect by a comparson of those times with the present. It shows us how few our real needs are, and how unlimited are those that fancy or caprice may create.
    In 1833 the denomination of Christians organized a church with Rev. John B. New as pastor. They held their meetings at Vernon.
    The Catholics established a church on Long Branch in 1838. St. Ann's) This settlement was mostly made up of those who had aided in the building of the Madison & Indianapolis railroad. They were mostly German speaking families.
    Piblic sentiment has somewhat changed within the last two decades in regard to the rights of colored people, and now they have a church and school to themselves which was established in North Vernon in 1873. This is the first church and school of the kind in the county. There were actually Black churches in the Richland community south of Vernon prior to this.)
    It is almost impossible, if not useless, to give a history of each church; but we have given the dates and circumstances connected with the establishment of the first of each denomination as a matter of paramount interest to their subsequent histories.
    We will now recur to those affairs that more immediately interested the settlers individually.
    Most of them, when they moved into their new homes brought enough provisions to last a while, but many were compelled to make numeroous trips to the "Grant" and to Madison to carry home provisions on pack horses before they could depend on their crops.
    Sometimes several neighbors would combine in a business transaction and transportation scheme, a little more extensive. For instance, Mr. Achilles Vawter, Wm. Prather, Joseph Pool and Samuel Campbell bought a barrel of salt of Mr. John Woodburn, at Madison for which they paid $22, and then hauled it home on a sled. Mr. Woodburn kept a commission store in a slab shanty on the banks of the Ohio, and furnished the Jennings county people most of the flour, salt, pork, etc, when they then used.
Clipping about Mr. John Woodburn's store from the August 9, 1821 Madison Republican - Newspaper

    While the settlers were yet few, and neighbors scarce, the people were very kind and generous to each other. This feeling mitigated much of the harshness of those deprivations that accompany the early settlement of wild countries. Hart time made hard hand and hard cheeks, but soft and light hearts.
    They had their jokes too. Young Samuel Campbell, who had settled just east of William Prather's, wanted some lettuce seed to plant in his garden and asked Mr. Prather if he had any to spare. Mr. Prather, whose wife's name was Lettice, answered that he had a kind of Lettice that was good all the year round, Young Campbell, who had been paying his respects to Miss Chloe Prather, naively replied that he would like to have some of the seed of that Lettice.
    The work of clearing farms in the heavily timbered country, and of building log houses, which were about the only kind built, generally required more force than one man could muster in his own family, and often called on each other to assist at log rollings, house raisings and wood-choppings. They thought nothing to going five or six miles to help in any of these employments, which were always the occasion of much good feeling.
    On one of these occasions a messenger came after a Justice of the Peace to marry a couple. Mr. Wm. T. Stott, who had but a short time before been elected a Justice of the Peace, was present.
    In fact, all the county officers carried their offices about with them, as ready for business in the corn-field or at a wood chopping as any other place. Office did not make them any better than any other person.
    Mr. Stott, with his coat off and in his working clothess, went to perform the ceremony. Mr. Samuel Campbell and Miss Chloe Prather were the happy couple. This was in May, 1817, and was the first marriage ceremony performed after the county orgnization. Who, and how many, have followed this worthy example, it would be a pleasing but useless task to relate.
    Punishments for crime were a little more primitive then than now, the whipping post and ducking-stool being brought into frequent requisition.
    On one occasion a man was convicted of some offense, and to satisfy the judgement of the court, was taken to the water, had a rope tied about his waist, and was thrown into the water and drawn out three time. The he was tied on a horse, face down, with his head toward the tail, and in this manner rode back to the jail. Another man was tied to a post and received forty-five lashes to expiate his crime. These two instances were during the territorial government.
    Dead beating and vagrancy did not pay. If a person had no visible means of support, he was sold to the highest bidder and made to work for his living. The present generation might take many useful lessons from the past in this respect.
    In the spring of 1816, and incident happened that created some excitement in the neighborhood of the south fork of the Muscatatuck, and Graham creek. A man came to Lewis' block- house on Neal's creek south of Paris, and stayed all night. In the morning, when he left, he stated that he was from the south, and that he was prospecting for minerals, which he said could be found in a cave about three miles east of the forks of the Muscatatuck, at the mouth of Crooked Creek. On the same he was seen at Joshua Mount's, on Graham creek, when he made a similar statement. This was the last seen of him; but in a few days afterward an old hunter by the name of Perkins, while hunting in the neighborhood of Francis' Cave, found the stranger's horse striped of all his equipments except the headstraps of the bridle. Search was instituted for the man but he could not be found. The news of the lost man spread far and wide, and persons from all parts of the country, from Charlestown and Madison, came to assist in the search. The Badgley Cave, on Graham, and other caves were searched. The last one was the Francis Cave, on Crooked creek. This cave was entered by Mr. Perkins and Samuel Campbell, the former with a torch and the latter with a rifle, eacch having a rope attached to him, one end of which was held by parties outside. They had not gone far when they saw the glittering eyes of some wild animal. Mr. Campbell took a careful aim at the eyes and fired. Those outside heard the gun, and thinking something had gone wrong immediately began to haul away on the rope. This soon brought them to daylight, though somewhat bruised, when they told what they had seen and what had happened in the cave. Finally, the search for the lost man was given up in dispair, and the whole matter remains a mystery to this day.
    From the time of the first settlement by the whites, up to 1817, there were a great many Indians in the county. Their camps extended along the south fork of the Muscatatuck, at intervals, up to the mouth of Little Otter creek, near which there was a red post that marked their burying ground. Killbuck, their chief, had been killed by Capt. Collins, and Bill Killbuck, his son, a half-bree, who could talk good English and write a little, was very friendly to the whites, and went about among them a good deal. They supplied the settlers with numerous useful articles, such as dressed skins, moccasins and baskets. Their young braves and the youthful Hoosiers would often pit their strength and skill against each other in running, wrestling and jumping. The Indians could not bear defeat very patiently. In 1817 the Indians disappeared to the west, and were seldom seen in the county afterward.
    Town site speculations are not confined to these days of railroads, telegraphs and government subsidies; but our grandfathers also were captivated by their golden charms. Before the new purchase, Mr. John Latwright and Joseph Parsons built a mill on Sand Creek, near the crossing of the Indian boundary line. This being on what was called the great thoroughfare, and a convenient post for trading with the Indians, made the prospects for its future very bright; so a town was laid off and called Geneva. In a short time the town had two hotels, business houses, and numerous dwellings. About this time the State road from Madison to Indianapolis was projected and Geneva thought is fortunes were made if it could suceed in getting the road. It could not muster the influence however and Geneva was left about two miles to the east. This failure quenched Geneva's hopes. It lingered along for some years, but finally it glimmered away like a dream, leaving nothing to mark the spot once thronged with the busy feet of barter.
    Mr. Wm. Clapp built a mill about where the State road crosses Sand Creek, in 1820, and in 1826 laid off Scipio, which became the successful rival of Geneva. What might Geneva have been if it had secured the road?
    John Winchell, who settled on Sand Creek in 1817, a few miles from the north boundary line of the county, and near the Indian boundary line, laid off a town and called Columbia. The fate of this town is rather obscure. It never justified the enterprise of its propietor, but we may hope that his ambition was somewhat gratified by giving a name to one of the townships of the county. Other towns, such as Paris, Queensville and Zenas were more fortunate.
    Paris was founded in 1821, by Samuel Graham and Jacob Tannehill. The former at that time was a maker of powder and the latter a distiller of whisky. In fiftry-five years time Paris has become a town of two hundred and fifty inhabitants.
    Robert and David Elliott located Zenas in 1826. This town became the successful rival to Columbia, and we may reasonably suppose that it was the immediate cause of the decline of the latter, there not being sufficient barter in that part of the county to support two towns.
    In 1819, the county had quite a business aspect. Besides the agricultural interests, almost every family had its own loom, shoe shop and shaving-horse by which most of the demands for home consumption were supplied. Saw mills furnished all the lumber required for building, and grist-mills ground their corn and wheat. In a word, the new country began to prosper, and was considered of sufficient importance and wealthy enouhg to have a court house.
    The building of a Court house was let this year and was completed in 1821. It was a two-story brick, built on the public square in Vernon. It was paid for in three installments of $1,120 each; and then, like in most other public buildings. the contractor wanted pay for extra services. His claim of $125, which was rather modest compared with what contractors now demand for "extras," was paid.
    In 1820 the people had very hard time on account of the failure of their whaet crop, and the squirrels came in great gangs, and when one was killed it seemed as though a dozen more would take its place. In that year farmers made squirrel hunting a business, and often employed others to help them. One man would kill from 50 to 100 per day. Lewis Wagner, especially, was an adept in the business.
    During the early days in the history of our couonty the people did most of their trading by barter, or exchangins one kind of commodity for another, and also did a great deal of swapping work. If a good farm hand hired ut for pay in cash re received from 30 to 37 1/2 cents per day. Six days work would buy a pair of shoes, and about the same, enough cotton goods for a shirt. All goods not homemade were very dear, and, when paid or in barter, the exchange balanced great in favor of the importer. As an example, one young man paid 65 coon skins for a silk hat. Whether this was on account of the excellence of the hat, or the poor quality of the coon skins, we are not informed, but certain it is that coon skins in those days had intrinsic value enough to be a tolerably fair circulating medium, though rather less convenient than greenbacks. Wheat then sold for 37 1/2 cents per bushel, and corn for 12 1/2 cents.
    From the first settlement of the county up to 1832, the number of its citizens increased rapidly, and although not informed as to its population at that date, yet it was sufficient to warrant the establishment of a newspaper. The paper was established in 1832 by Willoughby Conner, and Richard Randall, and called "The Vernon Visitor." It changed several times, passing through the hands of Mr. John Vawter, Amos Frost, B. B. Root, John B Conner and others. It's name was changed to the "Chronicle," the "Times," and finally the "Banner," its present name, now edited and published by C. E. Wagner and J. F. Lattimore.
    In 1831 the practicability and utility of railroads became an established fact, and the excitement they created reached Indiana and Jennings county. Soon afterward the question of building a railroad from Madison to Indianapolis began to be agitated. The State favored the project, and in 1835 the road was built as far as Vernon. This was quite a help to Jennings county, furnishing employment to many at tolerably fair wages, besides giving much better facilities for shipping the surplus of their produce. The road was ten years in reaching Indianapolis. The people of Jennings county have given as much attention to the educational interests of their children as any other community. They had not the means, during the early history of the county, to accomplish a great deal in that direction, but they did what they could under the circumstances. The following is a facsimile description of one of the first school houses built in the county. It was built of longs, one story high and covered with clap-boards, with weight poles laid across to hold the boards on. The floor was made out of flat pieces of timber split out of logs cut the proper length. For seats they took the same kind of pieces of timber and bored two holes near each end, in which they stuck wooden pins for legs. The writing desk was made by boring holes in the side of the house about four feet from the floor, in which wooden pins about two feet long were driven, on which boards were laid. This desk was used only at stated times in the day when pupils had to use their quills and home-made ink. There was a log cut out of one side of the house, about five feet from the floor, and the space was filled with 10 x 12 glass. This was the window. The fire-place was made for five foot wood and the hearth was made of broad, flat rocks. In this house the youthful Hoosier learned the rudiments of an English education. At the present time there are 125 schools in the county, and some very fine school-houses. There is not a child in the county now but that can have the advantages of a six to nine months ter of school every year.     The present court-house in Vernon, was finished in 1859. The building of this house was the occasion of considerable feeling in the county. When it was proposed to build the house, a remonstrance was gotten up by some of the citizens of the county, and was circulated and signed by a great many. The remoustrants thought that the old court-house met all the requirements of the times, and that considering this fact and the hard times, the building of a new one should be indefinately postponed. However, the commissioners thought differently, and the new house was built. It is a very nice two-story building, with court room upstairs and county offices down stairs. The Sheriff's residence and jail are also connected with the court house.
    In 1853 the Ohio and Mississippi railroad was built through the county. This brought considerable immigration, and was the cause of several new towns being built in the county. North Vernon, a short historical sketch of which is given in this paper, was the first town built on the new road. Butlerville, seven miles east of North Vernon, was platted in 1854, by Bryant Y. Trickey. Butlerville is now a flourishing town.
    Nebraska, three miles east of Butlerville, was laid off in town lots by Robert Elliott, shortly after Butlerville was platted.
    From 1861 to 1865 Jennings county furnished twice as many soldiers for the Union army in the war of the rebellion as was her whole number of people when it first organized as a county.
    The Louisville branch of the O. & M. road was bulit in 1868. Several new towns were built on this road.
    Paris Crossing, on this road, was platted in 1870 by Henry S. Dixon.
    Commiskey and Lovett are important towns in the county on this road.
    In 1873 there began to be organized in the county, societies called Patrons of Husbandry [The Grange]. The object of these societies is to protect its members against the high percentage paid to middle men, and to improve stock and farm produce.
    We had intended to give a church and school directory in connection with our county history; but in the short time we have had for the work, we have not been able to comlete this part of it.
    For any information with regard to the present status of Jennings county, we refer the reader to our county directory, which we have every reason to believe is complete.
    It was probably in the year 1840 that a Roman Catholic congregation was established here. It was then called the "New Settlement on the Greensburg Road", and was composed of about fifty-nine German and Irish families. They had been attracted by the fairness and apparent fertility of the soil. They were, more or less, such people as were employed in the construction of the Madison railroad.
    From the very earliest up to the present time, but few Protestants have lived in this district, the only one of whom there seems any by recollection is Mr. Beech, who settled here about 1832.
    Before 1830, the settlers were John and Joseph Gasbher, Joseph Erbsland, Simon Blaes, Frank Hilderict, Tony Frederick, John Hell and a Mr. Sterling; in 1830-35, John Decker, George Decker, John Henry, Blas, Spech and Adam Dittlinger. After this, among the earliest settlers,-though the date of settlement could not be ascertaine,-were Nicholas Demmer, Ant. Daeger, Ant. Gasper, Mr. Winter, Mr. Fiesz, Jacob Johannes, Mr. Gantner, Mr. Gehl, Mr. Klein, Gasper and Michael Burkert and George Mayer.
    As above stated this settlement was first called the "New Settlement on the Greensburg Road"; later it was called, and often at present, "the church at Gray's Branch, or Long Branch." But the present name of the location is "St. Ann's".
    During the summer of 1838, many Indians came to the farm of Mr. Decker, and enquired whether he or any one else had found a keg of money hid near the roots of a tree marked with thirty-four diamonds cut in the bark. He said he had not, and the Indians left, looking along the creek and in the woods for the marked tree; but it seems that they never found it. A few years after this a white man came here on the same errand. He went along the creek about six miles and returning,said he had found nothing; but a few weeks afterward, Philip Mick, while out hunting, found the marked tree near the cave first mentioned. A large hole had been dug on the south side of it, and the form of a small keg where it had stood in the ground. It is believed that this man found the money, but did not wish it known. The money, as the Indians said, was given to them by the government for their land. Mr. Mick that day also found the body of an Indian baby in a small stone coffin upon a large flat rock in the cave.
    The land about here is fertile on the streams. The flats are very good for wheat. The principle products of the farmers are corn, wheat and oats. A good deal of stock is raised.
    Up to the year of 1830, no horses and few wagoms were in this part of the country. Oxen and home-made carts were used.
    When Claude Mick settled here, in 1850, he found about seventy families; some from Bavaria, Prussia, Baden, Alsace Lorraine, etc. They had a log church some forty feet long, twenty-four feet wide, and twelve rounds of logs high. Formerly they had congregated in a room, attached to the old parsonage, that has since been torn down, and replaced by the new house on the north side. At present the congregation has a fine brick- spacious enough-having three altars, a fine pulpit, confessional and a choir.
    The house on the county road to Long Branch, one-fourth mile south pf the Catholic church, now occupied by Mr. Philip Mick, was built in 1831, as a district school-house, and was used at the same time as a Baptist meeting-house. The first teacher seems to have been Mr. Sterling, who had been compelled to leave France on account of having taken part in the "Robespierre Revolution", which put Louis XVI to the guillotine. Mr. S is said to be a well educated man.
    This school was attended by many of the present settlers, a few of whom remember to have had an Irsih teacher, who received one cent per day from every child, and free board from the settlers, he staying with one family one day and with another family the next day. Now this man loved whisky so much that he compelled his scholars to bring their cents every day, in order that he could get his whisky.
    The present school teach is Mr. John Bapt. Schuster, a well educated and agreeable gentleman.
    In 1850 the house was sold to Mr. C. Mick, and the money obtained was divided-a school house being built a few yeards south of John Stott's farm, on this same road, and another house for school purposes, near the Catholic church, which is now occupied by the teacher as a dwelling house, it having been repaired and fitted up for such purpose.
    Concerning the pioneer life of the settlers, it has been that, like to most every backwoodsman who settles in a forest where the sound of the axe has not as yet been heard. A few of them-Mr. Simon Blaes and Mr. George Decker-remember to have seen Indians and conversed with them. That is to say, they did not camp here anywhere but would now and then show their faces, being on hunt for game. At that time (1830) there were plenty of wild turkey and deer in this neighborhood. George Decker and Joseph Clem managed to kill nineteen head in one day.
    From the many traces and things left by the Indians it is very apparent that this part of the county was one of their favorite resorts. About the year 1852, Jos. Gasber plowed up forty-five tomakawks near the root of an old poplar stump just east of the Catholic church. They were very heavy. He left them lying on the stump, but when others heard of them and found they were so heavy they foolishly supposed there was gold or silver in them and broke them into pieces, except one which is still preserved by Rev. L. Oosterling. There are also several caves that were used by the Indians along the Muscatatuck, one on the east side of the road to Oakdale and another about eight miles further north.

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