Memoirs of Fred Dillard
Submitted by Marvin Beatty
Fred Dillard was a well known school teacher in the French Lick area.
Town of Newton Stewart
This brings us to a town with a most interesting existence. To tell it all, the happenings that took place would make a most interesting book. The History of Orange County gives a bare outline story of it. My great grandfather, uncles, and aunts lived here. For an account of them read Arthur Dillard’s Genealogy of the Dillard Family.
The town consisted at different periods a water mill and dam,a handle factory, general store, two lodge buildings, two blacksmith shops, saloons, shoe shop, barber shop, doctors offices, churches, and residences. For many years during my boyhood days from 1900 to 1914 I was fascinated by the water mill and dam. I often played below them along the watering place with my cousins Arthur and Frank Dillard. The dam was made of wood planks laid on sloping 8 x 8 timbers so that logs and limbs would go over during floods. Under the mill floor was a square room that would hold water. This was called the fore bay. A rectangular opening in the wall allowed the water to flow into the cups under the metal water wheel. This was an under slot one. As the water ran under it with pressure generated by the 8 ft. of water above the wheel turned an upright shaft some 12 ft. long that extended into the floor above. By means of gears and belts the gears and machines were turned. One young man, Hickman Carroll, while oiling the shaft above the fore bay had his clothes caught on the revolving shaft and was beaten to death on the walls around it. His foot was found in a shaft downstream and later buried with his body in the Family Farm Carroll Graveyard.
This mill made only corn meal and feed. It had many owners. First I believe that I have read that it was constructed by the Mr. Allen who was the first settler. His log cabin long stood west of the Charles Denbo home.
The business of producing handles and spokes from Indiana hickory timber is very interesting and too lengthy to be discussed here. From these early times as of now it is recognized that white Indiana hickory wood takes the most beautiful polish in the world.
Just west of the factory stood the Shoemaker Shop and further west near the Mason Hall the residence of Eli Jones. Like uncle John Byers, Eli had lost his help mate when his children were young. They were Tom, Alberta, Robert, Cora, and Ed, Mattie. Unfortunately some of these children were afflicted with Tuberculosis. The youngest died on Christmas Day. The others were blessed with exceptional health. Mr. Jones like Mr. Byers was a Confederate soldier and the exact likeness of Robert E. Lee. Here I wish to mention a man that possessed the same resemblance. He was Prof. James A. Woodburn of Bloomington, Indiana. As a paper boy I have had the pleasure of conversing with him in his palatial home on North College Street when collecting for the Bloomington Telephone. Mr. Jones repaired shoes. Men and women had to be careful in those days and shoes though subjected to hard and excessive wear had to be repaired and made to last. What a change when now are worn only while in style!
The Jones family I think came from Virginia and were typical of the more aristocratic southern people. As I look back on the people of this village they stand out as being above the average in intellect and culture. There were different social strata in Newton Stewart as in Peyton Place.
Town of Newton Stewart
Just across the street stands the Mason Hall. Many of the early businesses were conducted in the rental ground floor. There still is visible the clothing ad sign along the side where Mr. Lindley had the Apparel Store. General storekeepers who operated in this building were T. A. Parks, Omer Osborne, and John Riley. There were others in earlier days. The P. O. was also here.
This lodge was very influential in its community and had as its members then and now many well-to-do and influential citizens. The future is uncertain and the problem of being established elsewhere or being disbanded will have to be resolved. This is true of the other institutions of this village. The history of this Lodge would make an interesting book. A complete history of this unique lodge can be found in the possession of Porter Stemply at Wickliffe. A large picture of the State Convention held in the early 1900’s hangs in the Riley store at Newton Stewart. Charles Denbo was the delegate from Newton Stewart.
Now it is a beautiful, sunshiny, spring day in early March 1971. The grass is beginning to grow in the yard and pasture. The long haired, black Angus calves are rejoicing to be again in the green pasture. Blue Jays and red headed Woodpeckers are lording it over the other birds in the trees. Red birds are beginning to hop in the fire bush and grape vines. Birds of all kinds flit from fences to trees and to the ground. They have returned from the Southland with the spring time. As I set in my room looking at these things I am tempted to go outside and being a farmer begin to plan a garden and to begin work in the fields. But hampered by the wear of 77 years and a burden of Arthritis this can not be so I will just do with ny precious time what I can do and continue to write of past days and the places and people dear to them.
Coming now to the northeast corner of Main and Market street as shown on the attached plat of Newton Stewart we come to a large store building and warehouse. It is some 150 feet long, two stories with large warehouses on either side. A wide porch crosses the front. This was built in the early 1900’s and after being in use some 30 years was destroyed by fire. In it was conducted the greatest volume of business to be done in this community. The man who was responsible for this enterprise was Thomas A. Parks. His name is synonymous with Newton Stewart during this period. His life was a strange enigma of what life can be. I shall try to relate it as it was or as Walter Cronkite says “Tell it like it is.” Since he was my merchant; since I was a teacher of his children; since having the opportunity of setting with him on his store porch and discussing things in general; I came to know him and regard him with great admiration I suppose because of his success as a business man and of his influence in the community.
He was well liked by all with whom he dealt. He was minutely honest in all his business dealings. He was an employer of many men. They drove his freight wagons to Eckerty, worked in his warehouses and on his farms. Women did his laundry work and household chores in his palatial home (for that day) at the north end of Market Street. This is there to this day.
He was a man of medium height, rather handsome, and active. His complexion was fair and his hair and mustache were a reddish brown. He wore glasses. He was a typical business man, he was just a smaller Theodore Roosevelt in every way. His eyes had a merry twinkle that caused one to expect some humorous remark that one always expected him to make. While this was true his facial expression was that of one that has an extraordinary memory for figures and detail.
Town of Newton Stewart
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Foot prints on the sands of time
What a wonderful opportunity this talented person had to have been the one praised in the above verse, but his influence lived on in the lives of others in this town. Two of his younger sons became alcoholics and the younger a suicide. Many young men of the community have never accepted the teachings of the church. At the time of his death in 1920 his business was failing. His administrator, B. J. McFarland and attorney, Buskirk, of Paoli, took three years to liquidate it, and it was said, that it paid only 33 cents per dollar on his liabilities.
Now, dear reader, I am sure you are aware of the fact that I have referred to this town as Peyton Place. I wish to tell of another episode that pertains to the church that will add more to the similarity. The church at Newton Stewart was first organized in the 1880’s as a Union Church. It was composed of Christian Disciples and United Brethren. Later some of the U.B.’s adopted in addition the Holiness doctrine. Some did some didn’t. This doctrine as you know is considered contradictory to that of the more conservative Disciple teaching.
It was early in the winter of one of the years in the first decade when I was a teen-ager that the Holiness Church, as was the custom, decided to hold a revival. The leaders of this section of the church secured three young men from the Bible school in Cincinnati to be the Evangelists. As the people of the community said (some of them) that they carried things too far and were radical. The preachers made allegations that God would not move among the audience because there were too many wicked people there. They went so far as to almost designate them. without naming them. As we say today with conditions that existed they polarized the community. I remember the comments of the people that took sides. The words Holy Rollers and Sinners were thrown about recklessly.
One Sunday evening as a boy of 12 years of age I walked with the large group of young people, boys and girls, down the road east to the church to attend the revival. As was the custom in those days everyone in the community, young and old, took part in the church as a social institution. Many went that were not Christians at all, in fact they were far from it, for they came to meet others. The songs like “ Some folks jump up and own all night at a D-A-N-C-E.” and “On Sunday I am happy and Monday full of joy” and others were sung.
Prayer had been offered by many and testimonies given. The young revivalist, with his assistants seated on his right and the other on his left, read his text and began to unfold it. The house was crowded though it was large. The men sat in the amen of the church corner to the right of the speaker and the women sat in the opposite corner. The mixed congregation sat in the large space directly in front and on either side of the long aisles that led to the two wide doors in front. It must have been warm weather for these doors were open. I sat about half way back in the middle section. Suddenly three white things sped through the air over my head from the doors like the whiz of the ancient Mariner’s Crossbow. They were eggs. They splattered on the wall above the speakers head. Then three more came. One hit the speaker on the head and one of his helpers was hit. Then three more came and I was so scared I didn’t know where they hit. (The spots made by these were visible on the walls for many years.) The minister with his handkerchief cleaned the egg from his hair. All the audience was deathly quiet and moved for it seemed such a long time. Tears came to the eyes of the men in the amen corner and the other ones cried. Others did also and handkerchiefs were in evidence everywhere. I had a sinking feeling as did many others that these good people (for that was what we knew them to be in their daily life) were being persecuted for righteousness sake.
The first person to break the silence was my father’s aunt, Maggie Dillard. the wife of Taylor. From her front seat across from the older men that had been so deeply moved she said “Uncle Joe (Joe Whitmire) has something to say. How she knew that I shall never know. Uncle Joe, admired by all in the community arose and without a quiver in his voice (I am confident that he fully understood what had happened) said, “When men of my age first came to this place there was no church. It was not a good place to live. It grieves our hearts that there are men who would do this. We pray that God will show them the error of their way. It is easier to tear down than it is to build up.” With that he sat and others joined in praising him and God and the service continued.
This even touched me deeply and as you can see even the smallest details are remembered and I am sure this is true for many who experienced it.. As I look back I think it was responsible for many later conversions in the church. One I want to mention especially, it was about this time that a young man, John Carroll, by name gave himself to the Lord in this church. For a complete account of the life of this man of God and his work I refer you to a book that he wrote of his fruitful life. “Forty-seven years behind the Gospel plow.” There are copies in this community. You will find it most inspiring and rewarding.
So that is the story the church tells - soon to be taken by the lake. For many years the knowledge of who threw the eggs and who was back of it escaped me. But when becoming older and talking with people who should have known I was surprised to hear that they said it was three young men (T.A. Parks, R.L. Holiday, Wm. North) who were furnished the eggs by the merchant, trustee, and doctor of the village, (J. North, J. Flick, F. Smith) I write this only as heresay and not as facts - but you have all the facts and conditions that existed at that time. No doubt these men before the end came repented and wept bitterly over this as did Peter when he denied his Lord.
On this rainy day March 10th 1971 I am setting comfortably by a furnace register with a radiant electric light. fed by the electric current from the Dubois Rural Electric Co-op at Jasper. Having lived in the olden days I appreciate these modern conditions. I am glad I had a small part in bringing them about while working as an easement manager for this company during the early years of its organization. On April 29th I will reach my 77th birthday. I am a retired farmer, teacher, and soldier. I am above on my 180 acre farm which I call “Painter Place.” My oldest son gave his life for our country in 1943. My other children are in their productive years doing the work of the world, establishing homes and raising their families. They are my greatest security in my declining years. During days like these I feel that I can do nothing better than to write of places and events that have taken place here and maybe preserve some interesting information for those that may enjoy delving into the past at a future date.
Town of Newton Stewart
Before going further I wish to state that there is nothing extraordinary about my life or the places and people about whom I write. My experiences were the same as were those of many more poor country boys of the region. My accomplishment, as were theirs, was neither great or distinguished. We were just common ordinary run of people. The events of which I write were ordinary and I suppose were duplicated a million times by those that have lived in our great nation.
Just north of the large store building in Newton Stewart still stands the home of Dr. Robert L. Holaday and his wife, Maude (Pinnick), her mother being Myra (Dillard) Pinnick. Doc was a typical rural country doctor. He was always cheerful and went about whistling and singing. He had a large practice when the pioneer community had only mud roads and few bridges. His transportation was on horse back or a buggy during the dusty summer months. He was on call day and night and it was surprising how soon he could be present at the bedside of the sick person. His personal interest and old time drugs were equally efficient.
As we worked in the fields very often we saw the doctor trotting his horses along the neighboring road. We had a feeling of sadness and symphony for we knew that someone was very sick. Later the doctor and his family moved to Paoli where he continued the practice of medicine. It was he who gave me my physical when departing for WW I. His notations are on my service record in the archives in Washington. Later Grover Cox and his wife Daisy Southers lived there. It later became the property of James Denbo.
Going further north at the head of Market Street was the large home of Thomas Parks which is still standing. I have told of this family elsewhere. It is now the property of Dora Denbo as is the farm.
Across the street from the Dr. Holaday house stands the home now occupied by Everett Dillard and his wife, Hattie (Newton.) It was the same home of his uncle, Taylor Dillard and his wife, Margaret (Boyd.) For the story of this family see the “History of the Dillard Family” written by Arthur Dillard. He was the village blacksmith for many years.
On the SW corner of Market and Main Streets stood the large two story home of William North. It was like the Love and Willis Cox homes. It had a large wide hall through the center. A lower and upper porch was built across the front. This was the first home that I ever saw that had lightning rods. The downward ground leads were separated from the building by glass insulators. This is no longer done by our modern installers. This building is gone and a new one takes its place.
Across the Main St. from the church was (still standing) the home of Mack Cox and his wife Nancy (North.) Here Grover and Johnny were born. This family along with the William North and John Cox family were the leaders of the Christian Church. Mack was the driver of the four horse freight wagon for Thomas Parks. He made the trip every day to Eckerty. The minister (Christian) for the church lived at Antioch, a village northwest of West Baden. He kept his appointment every third week-end of the month as pastor of the church. His name was Bro. Bex. He looked like Lew Wallace.
To get to Newton Stewart from his home he had to walk to the Southern station at West Baden early Sat. morning and take a train to Huntingburg. There he went by train to Eckerty arriving there at 10 in the morning. Mack Cox with his wagon would be going to Newton Stewart in the afternoon. After riding that wagon all afternoon he would preach Sat. evening, Sun. morning and Sun.evening Then after staying with the Mack Cox family over night, he would reverse the itinerary back to his home on Monday.This he did for years and I know his pay was not an inducement. All us young people remember him as a good old man and we liked to come to his meetings. In every sermon he quoted these words “Lay not up for youselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.”
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”
It was with deep regret when as a man grown older with a wife and family of my own that I read of the passing of this grand old man.
Going west across the street from the church is a home (still standing though vacant) of George Brubeck and his wife ---- McFarland. Here were born Irma and Earl. No man was ever more faithful in attending his church than this carpenter.
North across the alley from the Brubeck home is that of Paul Denbo and wife Norma (Kirby.) Here first lived Johnny Cox and his elderly wife. I first remember them when I and my father delivered two shoats to him from which he was to get his meat. He sent us to the merchant Tom Parks to get the pay. Mr. Parks was his guardian.
Just west on Main St. from the Brubeck home was the home and doctor’s offices of two brothers, James and Manual Smith. Manual had a speech impairment. He stuttered. Many people were grateful for their services. Later uncle Tommy Gilliatt and his wife lived there, with his daughters Ella, Ary, and Cleo.
I had the pleasure of staying in the home of Tommy Gilliatt while teaching my first school in 1914-15. The school was # 8 a few miles west of Newton Stewart. Mr. Gilliatt at that time lived near the school. I enjoyed many evenings of hearing him tell of the Civil War Battles of Chickamauga Park Look Out Mountain, Shiloh, and others. While training for a Med. in Chickamauga Park, GA. in WW I as I walked among the markers and state monuments I could imagine a short Northern soldier carrying his musket over these fields.
Across the Main St. from this home was the old log cabin well preserved of a man and his two daughters. He was Harry Dean and Grace and Glenna. They later moved to French Lick. Like Mr. Byers and Mr. Jones, Mr. Dean lost his wife and raised his family alone. This home later belonged to Charles Russell and John Riley.
Just north of the Dr. Smith’s home is a large two story home now owned by Ruby Ash. Here she lived with her father and mother, Charles and Emma Dillard, and her son John Paul. She purchased the farm from Omar and Marie Parks. At one time this building was the office of Dr. - - - - Sanders before he moved to Birdseye. Before him Wesley Shoulders, Wesley Newton, and Wells Foster had lived there.
Just west of this home once stood the large two story Odd Fellows Lodge building. This was torn down and is now a part of the Eckerty Mill. This was a large and influential group of men in the early days. The Modern Woodmen of America once met in this building. William Osborne and Captain Swift kept general stores in it at different times. Across the street from this place is the home of John Riley and family. This was the home of Sam or Reuben Brown. These brothers were early residents of Newton Stewart and I do not know which lived in the Riley home or the one further west much like it owned by Joe Denbo and wife Gladys (Dillard.) It is interesting to read of the Brown brothers in the ‘History of Orange County.” These homes are still well preserved. Near the Riley home is the modern country store operated by Kenneth and his mother Dana Riley.
The first resident of the Joe Denbo home that I remember was Thomas Drake and his wife Anna (Swift) a daughter of the Captain and much like him. Here were raised Robert and Vincent. The father was a good carpenter and he built the Matt Sinclair home that I will describe later. It is still standing in perfect condition. I shall write of it later as it is to be taken by the Park. Here in this home once lived the Rev. John Carroll and his wife, Ida (Gilliatt.) Here were born Gladys, Edna, Lee and William. I had the pleasure of being their teacher in 1917-18 before they moved to Kentucky. For a complete account of this wonderful family read his book “Forty-seven Years Behind the Gospel Plow.” On and on I could go but with this I will end the story.