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Alanson Andrews
January 27, 1881 North Vernon Plain Dealer

   Andrews, at his residence in North Vernon, Tuesday evening, January 25, at 7:30 o'clock, Alanson Andrews, in his 79th year. Funeral services will be held at the Presbyterian church on Thursday afternoon at 1 o'clock. Interment at Vernon.
   Mr. Andrews was on Sunday enjoying his usual good health, and his many friends remarked his sprightliness on that day when they met him at church. At night soon after retiring, he complained of a slight headach, and during the night grew worse. On Monday evening he became entirely paralyzed and unconscious, and hopes of his recovery were not entertained. Without regaining consciousness he passed away on Tuesday evening, regretted by all who knew him, and they were many, for he was an early settler in this county and had lived a long and useful life which brought him into communication at one time or other with nearly every permanent resident of the county. As soon as may be possible we will endeavor to give a sketch of his life and public services.

   Col. Andrews' grave in the cemetery at Vernon, will be protected by torpedoes. This is a very good arrangement. Every grave should be secured in like manner.

North Vernon Plain Dealer - February 10, 1881
Of the life and public services of one of the most prominent pioneers of Jennings County.

   The death of Col. Alanson Andrews, which was announced last week, calls for more than a passing notice. He was one of the oldest settlers, and for more than sixty years was identified with the moral, material and social progress of the county.
   The paternal ancestors of Col. Andrews came over with the first settlers of Plymouth. Soon after the settlement of Boston, the family divided, one branch going there, and the other, through which Col. A. traces his descent, settling on Taunton river. At the beginning of the eighteenth century his great-grandfather, Josiah Andrews, was living at Taunton Green. His grandfather Josiah Andrews, at the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, was a volunteer in the first patrols, and participated in the engagements around Boston. He retired from camp soon after the battle of Bunker Hill, and not long afterward died. He left a family of small children, the youngest of whom, Josiah, was the father of the subject of this sketch. This latter had the usual experience of a boy left in such circumstances. After various struggles, he became at the age of nineteen the owner of a forge in Ludlow. In 1797 he was married to Abigail Strickland, of Connecticut. He then emigrated to Bristol, Vt. It was here that Col. Andrews was born, Oct. 11th, 1802. He was put to school at 5 years of age, going three months in winter and five in summer. He tells us in his journal that he was not very diligent at this age-too fond of playing truant. He learned to read and write, however. It was during the residence of the family at Bristol that his first great sorrow came to him. His only sister, Olivia, six years of age, sickened and died, leaving him the only child. Though so young, he seems to have felt it keenly at the time, and for many years afterward. He thus refers to it at twenty years of age "I remember it well; I stood by the head of the bed and saw her last breath-I shall never forget the scene-the dying daughter and sister, the parental tear, the emotions of my own heart. I had never a brother, and she was my only sister. Long since I have often thought, if she had lived, of the mutual affection that would have grown with our growth, of its purity and of the cheer and comfort it would have been to me; and often since have mourned her loss." When eleven years of age, his father emigrated to Ashland, Mass. The first three years of their residence here he worked on the farm in summer and went to school in winter. In the fourth year, at the age of fourteen, he entered an embryo academy in Ashland. Here he began arithmetic, grammar and geography, with excercises in declamation and composition. In grammar and Geography he passed from the lowest to the highest class in one term. He speaks of the pleasure he took after the first effort or two, in declaiming, and also of the great difficulty he experienced in writing anything that he was willing to hand in as an essay. After repeated efforts, however, he began to compose with greater ease. During these years at Ashfield, he began to form a taste for reading, and read all the books he could procure.
   But his school days were soon to end. Owing to discouragements in business the father determined to seek a home in the then far West. Accordingly in the autumn of 1818, he with his family, came west and settled on the north branch of the Muskatatuck, within the present limits of North Vernon. Here he built a saw and grist mill. The boy was now 16 years old; and he tells us that he labored hard here for three years, in the mills, on the farm and in clearing land.
   During the winter after he was eighteen, he taught a school a few miles from home. He speaks of the house as built of round logs, poorly covered and with wide open cracks between the logs. While teaching he reviewed those branches that he had gone over, and made some further progress. At the close of his school he resolved, with the consent of his father, to spend his earnings in the further prosecution of his studies. But it was more than a year after before he got settled down to the study of Latin with the late Wm A. Bullock, then a young lawyer of Vernon. Mr. B. was a graduate of Williams College, and a good scholar. The young student was often called away from his books, however, to assist in the mills and on the farm.
   On the twentieth anniversary of his birthday he records in his journal a number of resolutions, among them the following;
"3d.-To use my best endeavors in whatever situation I may be placed, for the improvement of mind and manners."
"4th.-To spend the few fleeting moments of time the Great Disposer of events may be pleased to allow me, in such a manner as shall be most conductive to the interests and happiness of myself and those around me."
   There is thus frequent and reverent reference to God and His providence. He frequently during these years chides himself for waste of time and frivolity of manner, and seems greatly impressed with the immense value of time.    About this time he changed preceptors, and began reciting to Wm. Holton, a young lawyer educated at Dartmouth College, who had drifted West and was teaching in Vernon at that time. Associated with him at this time in study, and afterward in the study of Law, was a young man named Pendleton, of whom he speaks very highly. Holton soon died and the young man returned to Mr. Bullock. His journal describes their surroundings and difficulties. Their room for study was large and open. It was winter and the snow sometimes blew in till the floor was covered to the depth of two or three inches. They had to gather their fuel as they could from the streets and commons; yet, sunrise found them at their books and they did not retire till all the lights in town were extinguished. He speaks of reading the last two books of Virgil's AEneid in one week or 350 lines at a lesson.
   The winter after he was 21 years of age he taught school in Vernon at $10. per month. Thirty dollars is now considered low wages. In the spring, after the close of his school, he began the study of Law. Besides Pendleton, there were associated with him in study, Richardson, Terrill, Ovid Butler and a young man named Newton. He was much attached to these friends, and expresses his estimate of their mental capacities, and discusses the merits and defects of their characters. And it is interesting to mark in these criticisms the high standard he had set up for himself and to see so much discrimination and so sound a judgment in so young a man. His prognostications in regard to these young men have been, so as known, remarkably fulfilled.
   In August, 1825, he passed an examination before Judge Ross and was licensed to practice law. In his 22d year he had been elected a Captain in the militia and Justice of the Peace. The office interfered greatly with his studies and practice, and after serving three years he resigned it. He seems to have entered upon the practice of Law with great misgivings. Once, in speaking of the difficulties he had to overcome, he mentions "a most fearful diffidence." In another he exclaims: "A kingdom if I could but speak with ease, and without embarrassment!" This is surprising, for Col. Andrews always seemed one of the coolest and most self-possessed of men. It shows that great modesty and even diffidence are consistent with a manly self-possession.
   On the 24th anniversary of his birthday in remarking upon the flight of time he says: "I grow old fast, but slowly wise;" and after expressing regret at the needless loss of time, he gives a list of the books he had read during the past year, 32 volumes in all, comprising 9274 pages. Twelve of these were law, and eighteen miscellaneous, all the latter being works of real merit. In addition, part of the time during the summer was spent on the farm at manual labor. Besides this, the cases he tried as Justice of the Peace averaged one for every 2 ½ days. There was also his business as an attorney in the courts of Jennings and Decatur. A good year's work one would think.
   During the following year he was elected Lieutenant Colonel in the militia. There was about as warm a contest for the military as for the civil offices in those days and his election to this office was considered quite an honor. About this time he made the acquaintance of Miss Laura Harding, sister of the Hon. S.S. Harding, a Lady of superior attractions and excellence of character; and on the 24th of January, 1828, they were united in marriage. In the spring he removed from Vernon to the mills, and for some years devoted a large part of his time to farming and milling, giving only a small part to his profession.
   When thirty years of age he chides himself severely for not improving his time better and living to a better purpose. He says: "At school, on the farm, at study, in my office, in my profession, I have erred in frequent remissness, and my duty to my God, O, Thou, 'my offense is rank!' All has been wrong-almost a blank! Thus, thirty years have I lived and trifled and sinned, **** But I turn from this dark view with joy in a consoling hope of redeeming mercy. Yes, lately, I trust after so long a time crowded with so many sins, a ray of infinite mercy has lit a spark of grace in my soul. O, may I feel its sustaining influence under all the vicissitudes that await me in life; and at last may it light my spirit to the joys of eternity!" Thus writes a young man of clear head and cool temperament when viewing himself in the light of God's law - a young man whom everybody loved and against whom no one could bring a reproach. Two years after, he records a hearty thanksgiving to God for His gracious mercy, and after referring to the past thus writes: "But the future, O, the future, what are thy uncurtained scenes! Time must unfold. O, my God, dispose my part in mercy, and prepare me for it! May it be useful and exemplary!"
   In 1886 he returned with his family to Vernon, and soon after was elected a ruling elder in the Presbyterian church there. The church was without a house of worship, and he, with two or three others bore the principal burden in erecting one. He remained in Vernon 17 years. They were eventful years to him. During this period he devoted much more time to his profession, though nearly all the time he was merchandising also, and still giving some attention to the farm and mills. In 1844 his wife suddenly died without time for a last word. Colonel Andrews was not a demonstrative man, and only his nearest friends knew how sore a trial it was to him. He was left then with the six children who survive him.
   After two years he was married to Miss Elizabeth Lieper, a most estimable and highly educated lady. She survived their marriage but two years, when he was again bereaved. During these years he began to take a more prominent part in politics. He had been at one time the Whig candidate for the legislature against Gen. Spann, Democrat. The contest was a heated one. They went into every precinct and school house, part of the time together. Andrews' speeches were spoken of very highly, and as being much above what is usually expected of candidates for the legislature. He was defeated by a small majority. It was said at the time that the severity with which he attacked not only the Democratic position, but the candidate, excited sympathy for Gen. Spann, who was an old man, and lost him the election.
   In 1850 he was married to Mrs. Ann McKeehan, widow of James McKeehan, and sister of Rev. Daniel Lattimore, with whom he lived happily for more than twenty years.
   In 1852 he was again the Whig candidate for the Legislature against Clark Jones, Democrat; was again defeated by a small majority. The Whigs ought to have elected their man, but the "Fugitive Slave Law" had recently passed: there was much excitement on the subject, and Micham, a colored man, long a resident of the county, was arrested, charged with being a fugitive. Col. Andrews, who was a cordial hater of the "peculiar institution," defended him with all his power. The cry "Abolitionist" was raised in the campaign and some of the weaker Whig brethren refused to support Andrews, and thus defeated him. In 1852 his residence in Vernon burned down, and in the following year he returned to the old homestead at the mills. During his residence in Vernon he had buried two wives, his mother, and had seen his home burned to the ground, with many articles and records of family interest. On returning to the old home, he at once built a steam saw mill, and laid out the Andrews division of North Vernon. In 1857 he went with his wife to Minnesota, and preempted a quarter-section of land, residing on it for the prescribed time. From 1858 to 1860 he edited the Jennings Independent, a paper published in North Vernon.
   From this time forward his life is well known to all who will take an interest in this sketch. He visited his old New England home in '62, returning by Washington City. In 1868 the Republicans sent him to Senate. In 1874 (1872) death again invaded his home and carried off his third wife. This was a great affliction to him. She was much younger than he, and he had not expected her to go first-had not planned for it. He continued to reside, however, in his own house, first with his daughter and then with his son till death. The last few year he had given up all business, spending a peaceful old age in reading, writing, in visiting his children and many friends in this and other States. At the time of his death he was an elder in the Presbyterian church in North Vernon. It was a busy life. And yet so ready was he always for every social call, so ready to give his time to others that many thought his was rather a life of leisure, and even his friends did know he was so busy.
   It is clear that his time was too much occupied by other pursuits to permit him to reach so high a position in his profession as he might have taken if he had devoted himself entirely to the law. He was an only child, and his attachment to his parents and sympathy with them in their loneliness, constantly drew him to the old homestead, and into his father's business. His talents, with exclusive application to his profession, would have made him a prominent lawyer of the State.
   His was a pure, clear life from boyhood onward. There lay at the foundation of his character, honesty, truthfulness, sincerity, and a kind heart. He could not be a trifler nor a pretender, nor deceitful, he could not wrong others. The boys in his employment (and boys in such positions always discover the weak points in a man's character if he has any) knew that in transacting business for him, they were expected to deal honestly and fairly with everybody, and that when occasion called for it, they could be very liberal without being scowled at."
   He was a most genial, companionable man, of fine social qualities, with a rich store of anecdotes; saw the serious, the pathetic and the ludicrous sides of things, and always told a story well.
   Firmness, both of purpose and principle, was characteristic of him. He was no time-server. In the old days of subserviency to, the Slave Power, no one ever accused him of being a dough-face. He was faithful in his friendships, but very rarely complained if others proved false to him.
   Complete self-control was a prominent characteristic. He could sit in his chair without a frown or change of color while a ruffian was swinging his fists about his head and heaping all manner of abuse upon him.
   He was public-spirited and benevolent-gave the aid of his voice and his purse to all public improvements, to the school and to the church and its enterprises. He was an indulgent creditor, and in time of need a most useful friend. It is safe to say that Col. Andrews' kindness of heart cost him more than his living. He was a most affectionate husband, and the kindest and most indulgent of fathers; his children will cherish for him the tenderest recollections.
   Few lawyers pay so much attention to elegant literature as our friend did; his books and papers abound in passages copied from the best English writers, especially the poets.
   He loved flowers, and was fond of gardening and horticulture, and during his later years took great interest in improving the grounds about his residence.
   His life was a good, useful and honored one; he died in the Christian faith, in possession of the Christian hope, and we feel sure that it is well with him.      N.

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