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Harrison County, Indiana


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Harrison County, Indiana History part1

Harrison County History
Aurela Porter Brewster
from the 1906 Atlas of Harrison County published by F. A. Bulleit


     The settlement of Harrison County by white men dates as far back as 1800 when Indiana was erected into a territory.  Adventurous spirits weary of the worn out farms of the older states set out, hunting new homes and fresher fields.  In ox wagons, on horseback and on foot these pioneers pressed forward with eyes fixed ever on the Western Star.  The Ohio River furnished transportation for many. They floated down on rafts or flat boats, and landing on its lonely shores, they struggled with the Indian for a foothold and prevailed.  It is the old story of men with brawny arms and resolute hearts and of women worthy to stand beside them in the stern battle against rude and uncultivated nature.
     It is certain that Daniel Boone and his brothers crossed the Ohio into the Southern border of the state in search of bear and deer and found with them the panther and the Indian.  Other restless hunters came with them or followed in their wake-venturing only at first to cross the river with rifle in hand; at another time halting long enough to plant a little corn in some fertile valley; then, with gun in easy reach to build a log cabin and finally with stout hearts and hopes to bring wife and children and light the fires of home.
     Ferries were early established at Brinley's and at Mauckport.
     Ripperdan's Valley, three miles long and from one to two miles wide, offered special inducements to the pioneer, and here, in June 1807, came John Ripperdan from Danville, KY., his wife riding beside him with a feather bed for a saddle.  This valley produces good crops after nearly a hundred years of cultivation, some fields at present yielding 25 to 40 bushels of wheat per acre.  John Ripperdan's descendants linger around this valley yet.  He was the maternal grandfather of John P. Sonner whose father, Capt. William Sonner, also emigrated early from Virginia.
     In 1807 Ephraim Fleshman came to Harrison County settling in Heth Township upon what is now known as the John Frank land and was buried there, probably the first person to die in the county.  John Frank moved from Salisbury, North Carolina, and brought his family in wagons.  He brought several chests containing apple, peach and pear seeds and a small quantity of peach brandy.  Jacob Lopp came in 1808.
     Wolves were especially troublesome in the new settlement and John Simler, Sen., built a pen in which to catch them.  Wolfe Knob receives its name from the great number of wolves that congregated there to howl at night.
     About six mile back from the Ohio River, in Grassy Valley, Squire Boone (a brother of Daniel Boone) with his sons, Isaiah, Enoch, Moses and Jonathan and five nephews built their cabin and then began to cultivate the land.  This was in 1802.  Afterwards R. N. Heth bought the claim.  In 1802 or perhaps earlier William Applegate came from Pennsylvania and Henry Watson from Kentucky.
     In 1798, John Hudson, grandfather of W. H. H. and James Hudson, came into the county from Shenandoah Valley, VA., having lived for a short time in Kentucky.  He crossed at Louisville when there was but a single house on the Indiana side of the river at New Albany.  He entered much land all around where Elizabeth now stands.
     Thomas Stevens, great grandfather of Warder and Charles Stevens, settled in Pleasant Valley, among the first in the county.  James Armstrong settled below Lanesville in 1800 and had his first sight of roasting ears when he saw the Indians there holding them before the fire to roast.
     These are the names of only a few of the stalwart men who, here and there all over the county, opened up the wilderness to civilization.  There were many more and their descendants are with us to this day.  They can relate incidents and family anecdotes that would fill a volume.
     Harrison County was the fourth formed in the State.  Knox, Clark and Dearborn were earlier.  It was organized in 1809 and named after Gen. W. H. Harrison.  The first term of the Court of Common Pleas was held in that year with Moss Boone, Patrick Shields, and John George Pfrimmer Associate Judges.  The first sheriff of the County was Spier Spencer who was appointed by the territorial government.  Dennis Pennington was foreman of the first grand jury.  The other members were John Smith, William Nance, George Gresham, Reuben Wright, Tice Light, Henry Rice, George Crutchfield, John Livanks, Jacob Conrad, Eli Wright, William Vest, Edward Smith, Lawrence Black, John Smith, Sr., William Branham, Isaac Richardson, John Hickman, Lawrence Bell, William Pennington and William Sands.


     In May, 1816, delegates were elected to make a State Constitution and met at Corydon on June 10th, 1816, and performed the work during a session of nineteen days.  This constitution was signed on the twenty-ninth by Jonathan Jennings, President and William Hendricks, Secretary.  The delegates from Harrison County who signed it were Dennis Pennington, Davis Floyd, Daniel C. Lane, John Boone, and Patrick Shields.


     On the first Monday of August following officers were elected for the new State.  Indiana was admitted into the Union in December, 1816.  The population of Harrison County in 1815 was, white males twenty-one years or over, 1056, and a total of 6,975.  The county was entitled to one Senator and three Representatives. The first Senator was Dennis Pennington, the first Representatives were David Floyd, Jacob Zenor and John Boone.  Judge David Floyd in 1801 was Recorder of Clark County before Harrison was formed from it.  He was an admirer of Aaron Burr and came near being led off by that artful traitor.  Floyd was suspected of implication in the Burr conspiracy, was tried and convicted for which he received three hours imprisonment only.   At the first State election in 1816 Governor Posey was a candidate for Governor but was beaten by Jonathan Jennings, President of the convention of late delegate to Congress, by a vote of 5,211 to Posey's 3,936.
     The majority of the early settlers came from slaveholding States.  They had felt the blight of slavery and came seeking freedom from its widest sense, and brought with them their dislike to human bondage.  Jennings had been a leader of the free state party since his entrance into public life while Posey, a Virginian by birth, was considered the pro-slavery candidate.
     The pro-slavery men of the Territory kept up their organization, hoping to repeal that clause in the Ordinance of 1787 which prohibited slavery.
     It is hard to realize that slaves were ever held in Indiana, yet the first fight for Governor was made on this issue.  Slaves were held here as late as 1830.  In 1820 there still remained one hundred ninety slaves in Indiana.  The legal right to hold slaves came to an end in 1830 but the census of 1840 disclosed the fact that there were still three slaves in Indiana.  Many hundreds were brought here  and liberated.  Paul Mitchem, a gentleman from Virginia, came to Corydon at a very early day, bringing with him a number of slaves whom he set free.  Their descendants have lived here since - Jonathan Mitchem, the present driver of the mail wagon from Corydon to Elizabeth, being one of them.


     Squire Smith settled on the Charley place in 1808.  After him Jacob Charley had a mill there.  The house had the usual big fireplace where the cooking was done.  People for miles around the country gathered there to have their grinding done.  They brought their own victuals with them as, sometimes, they were obliged to stay for days at a time before they could get their grinding done.
     Distilleries were everywhere, at convenient distances, to work up the quantities of fruit for which the county has always been famous.  The first one on record was built in 1816, but doubtless many were in operation before that time.  There was a distillery on the Harrison farm.  Our forefathers drank unadulterated whiskey and entirely too much of it, but some excuse may be found in the hard life they lived and the dangers and sickness to which they were exposed.  The "Millie Gwin" Hotel in Lanesville, an old landmark still standing, was famous in its day for the well filled whiskey bottle that always stood on the mantle shelf.
     As an offset to this it is pleasant to record that churches built of logs sprang up in many a clearing.  It is useless to try in the short space this history affords, to tell the self-sacrificing labors of the pioneer ministry. They beleived the groves were God's first temples and for lack of church buildings instituted a circuit of camp meetings where all could be accommodated and where a fervent gospel was preached without money and without price.


Between Lopp's Landing and Mauckport a cabin was built long ago by a boatman who landed, burnt a lime kiln and made ready to go down the river with a load.  Instead of this, he was murdered and robbed, his head cut off and his body thrown into the river.  At various times since then this headless man has been seen in Haunted Hallow, as it is called.  It is a dreary, lonely spot and the traveler instictively hurries through having a feeling that the "gobblins will get him if he don't watch out."


Elizabeth Polk, daughter of Colonel Polk, an old Indian fighter, and wife of Spier Spencer, was stolen by the Indians when a child.  The father and brothers wereaway from homeafter Indians when another party attacked the house carryingaway the women and children.  All were recovered except the little girl Elizabeth to whom an old squaw had taken a liking.  They were obliged to get the British to negotiate with the Indians and were able to get her back on payment of sixty dollars.


     Old Goshen Church in Boone township is, without doubt, the oldest church in Harrison County.  It is standing just as it did when Moses Boone and George Bartley cut down the trees and hewed the logs on the spot and put up the building in 1813.  The cemetery adjoining has moss gorn tombstones almost a hundred years old, bearing the names of Douglas, Boone and many another well known pioneer and their descendants to the third generation.  
      John George Pfrimmer, a United Brethern preacher, organized all the early churches of that denomination in the State.  He built Pfrimmers Chapel in 1818.  The present church stands on the old site.
      James Armstrong, a methodist preacher, came to this country in 1800 and settled just below Lanesville.  He traveled and preached all over the State in school houses and churchesand at camp meetings.
      Roger's Chapel in Posey township is among the oldest in the county.  Mr. Rogers and Mr. Potts, the latter, father-in-law of Henry Funk gave the land and it was named for Mr. Rogers.  The first log house is gone and the present one stands in the same place.  Mrs. Rogers is buried there.
      The land for Thompson's Chapel in Spencer township was deeded July thirty-first 1824, by John Hughes to be used as a Methodist Church and a schoolhouse.  It was named for William Thompson, a typical pioneer preacher, who accepted just what people chose to give him for his services.  He had a buffalo overcoat that sheltered him in rain or snow, or served as a saddle blanket while riding.  At night it was rolled up for a pillow and its owner slept on the ground wherever night overtook him.
      A Dunkard church stood long ago near Bradford.  The cemetery is filled with tombstones with inscriptions that date back a hundred years.
      Levi Long was a noted baptist preacher.  He was the son of a Revolutionary soldier and was bornabout the time the war closed.  While still a young man he came to Indiana and began preaching.  He travelled over Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio and asked no pay for his services.  His wife was a charitable woman who managed to to knit and give away four or five dozen pairs of socks every winter.  Her husband seems to have appreciated her for he was wont to say "Its a good thing everybody does not see alike or they would all have wanted my Sukie".
      Mr. Long helped to build the old State House and when the corner stone was laid he put in some coins.  His read assistance was givewn to help build nearly all the Baptist churches in the county.  He was buried at Oak Grove.
      The famous Republican meeting house was located in Ripperdan's Valley.  The house was built by the united efforts of the neighborhood in 1828 and answered the double purpose of church and schoolhouse.  It was free to all denominations.  The first Baptist preachers were Revs. Lone, Armstrong and Levi Long.  Lutheran ministers wereHenkle, Reiser and Krack.  Presbyterians were Martin and Dubuar.  Methodists were Revs. Daniels and W. C. Smith.  The Methodists organized here about 1838 and in 1847 had the first Sunday School, Aaron Bean Superintendent.  The first person buried on the church lot was Eli J. Wright, son of John Wright.  There are now over two hundred buried there.  The old church was sold about 1873 and moved to New Amsterdam and the high water of 1884 carried it away.
      The Christian Church building in Corydon was originally a United Brethren Church.  The ground was donated dy Dr. D. G. Mitchell.  Rev. Lyman Chittenden was the last preacher of that denomination who had charge.  This was in 1852.  Soon afterwards it was bought by a small membership of the Christian Church and at different times has been renovated and improved until 1903 when it took on its present handsome appearance.
      On the seventh day of September, 1826, Isaiah Boone, son of Squire Boone, deeded to Thomas Highfill, John Smith, Jacob Kintner, Jacob Hisey and Benjamin Adams, trustees, the south half of lot number forty three in the town of Corydon to build a house for the use of the Methodist Church.  This building stood until 1859 when it gave place to a new and larger one.  This in turn was remodled in 1902 and is now a commodious and beautiful structure.

  • Harrison County, Indiana
  • 1800-1906

Harrison County, Indiana History part2


It would be useless, in the short space of this history to try to enumerate those who preached the word in this old church.  The Recording Angel can call their names, although to earthly vision they may not appear on any costly stone or monument of marble.
      In 1810 Rev. Dr. Crowe of Hanover came to Corydon and organized a Presbyterian church with Mr. Armstrong and Henry Rice, father of John Rice, as ruling elders.  A small church was built in 1819.  Its earliest pastor was William W. Martin, known as Father Martin.  His sons, D. N., Dr. William A. P. and Dr. Claudius B. H. became ministers, the two former going to China as Missionaries.  When W. A. P. Martin was born his father was absent from home at a meeting of Presbytery.  Word was sent him and he announced the fact to the assembly and added "Here is a young missionary."  His words were prophetic.  W. A. P. Martin went to China and is still there an aged missionary.  For many years he has been President of the Imperial College at Pekin and was a trusted advisor during the Boxer uprising.  Five of the seven daughters of Father Martin married Presbyterian ministers.  Three brother-in-laws, Samuel, Thomas and William A. P. Alexander were all ministers, the latter being a missionary in the Sandwich Islands.  The first permanent pastor was Alexander Williamson who came to Corydon in 1824 and married Miss Lydia Rice in 1826.  Mr. Williamson went in 1822as missionary to Mississippi.  He died at Corydon in 1849 and is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery.  Mrs. Eleanor Slemons, now living at the age of eight-six, the oldest surviving member, was baptised in the old Court House before the church was built.    
      The Catholic Church at Lanesville is one of the finest churches in the State.  The congregation dates back to 1843 when Father Opperman on his way to Oldenburg stopped to give services to the few Catholic families there.  These services were held in an old dwelling just in front of where the church now stands.  At this time three hundred and twenty-five dollars was paid for land on which to build a church.  The first church was built in 1849 by Father Neyron.  In 1854 Rev. Alphonse Munshina took charge and provided a school and a parsonage for the Sisters of Providence.
      The first mission was preached at this place by Father Weninger in 1855.  The magnificent church which now stands was begun in 1856 and occupied in 1860.  It was dedicated by Bishop de St. Palais in June, 1864.  Father Munshina was pastor for thirty-nine years and was succeeded by Rev. A. Peckskamp in 1893 and who is still its pastor.  Father Peckskamp was born in Dama Oldenberg, Germany, August twent-ninth, 1849, and emigrated to America in 1860.  During Father Peckskamp's pastorate he has spent over five thousand dollars on the interior decoration of the church and built a magnificent brick school  building that cost about five thousand dollars more.


     It may not be amiss to recount some of the old time manners and customs and to begin at the foundation: - it was not possible at that early period to keep provided with shoes, hence going barefooted was customary everywhere, even in winter.  Dr. G. D. Mitchell, a self made man, went to school barefooted over the snow.  He carried a puncheon slab well heated and frequently stopped to stand awhile on this to get his feet warm and would then procedd on his way.  The pioneers who worshipped at Goshen Church dressed themselves in their clean clothes and went to church bare-footed.  Mr. John Lane, now dead, was heard to say he never had shoes when a boy but ran over the ice and snow as nimbly as if well shod.
     The wild grass, mast and roots were so abundant in the woods that hogs, cattle and horses required little other food.  The farms consisted mostly of cornfields.  Hogs ran wild and had to be marked or they would be shot like other game.  These marks were put on record in the courthouse to defend the rights of the owners.  It is amusing to read descriptions of some of these marks.
     Fires were lighted with a tinder box or two hard substances rubbed together until a spark would be engendered which set fire to inflammable substances.  In winter the fires were carefully covered up at night to preserve coals.  If there were no coals left it was not unusual to have to go to a neighbor for a shovelful of coals or a burning chunk or brand of fire.
     Grain was thrashed with a flail as late as 1840.  Salt was hard to get, the nearest market for it being Louisville.  It was evaporated in shells or bark of trees by the Indians at the salt licks near Lanesville.
     Cooking was done at the fireplaces and once more the writers recollection goes back to a big spare rib suspended in front of the fire which it was her duty to keep turned ever and again to roast both sides while the grease dripped into a pan below, or at other times to keep fresh coals on top of the iron oven lid, inside of which the corn bread was baking.
     Abe Lincoln's experience of studying by firelight was no new thing to the dwellers in Corydon, who as early as possible advanced to lard lamps and tallow candles and hailed with delight the coming of kerosene with its splendor.
     Window glass was a rarity in 1810.  Greased paper served the purpose.  Governor Jennings was a polititian who beleived in keeping his name before the public and old residents said his name could be seen in the paper sashes of every schoolhouse.  He also helped to build log houses and mow in the fields.  Mr. Frederick Doll, who came to the county in an early day, has said that he used to haul hay to Corydon for Governor Jennings when the latter was the State Chief Executive.  He said that the Governor would assist him in unloading the hay and was quite familiar with him, and frequently would crack a joke or two.
Mr. Giles, "Uncle Jimmie" as everybody called him, used to exhibit an old cherry sideboard which he owned and had at his house.  He said that this piece of furniture had been  formerly owned by Governor Jennings when he was Governor of the State; that the latter had drunk many a glass of "grog" from the same sideboard.  Governor Jennings became intemperate, which greatly impeded his usefulness in later life.
      Women used to piece togther quilts and work their samplers.  They dressed their own wild turkeys for their wedding dinners and embroidered their own wedding gowns.  Bear, fox and coon hunts were a recreation among the men.  Wolves were so plentiful that they sat in the open road as children went to school and a bounty was paid for every wolf scalp.  At one time a bear was tracked to his den by Henderson Stevens and two neighborhood boys named Foster and Arnold.  It was in its cave so far that only the glitter of its eyes could be seen by the light of a lantern.  Young Arnold was let down with a rifle in his hand and his feet held by the other two, and in this position he shot the bear.
      Another story is of a squirrel hunt in 1825 to which a prize added zest.  Capt. William Heth and Captain Isaac Sonner headed each a band of twenty-five men and they were to capture as many squirrels as possible, the prize to go to the band having the greatest number.  A difficulty arose over the matter and a fight ensued in which Captain Heth came out second best.


     Until the close of the territorial government three-fourths of the state was in possession of the Indians.  By treaties with them the hounds of the Vincennes tract were laid so that it's survey might be made.  The Delawares and Piankeshaws were the last to cede.  The Indian trail running diagonally across the north of harrison County on Indiana maps shows a portion of this boundary.  The Indians still roamed around when Corydon was a town of three houses but they were generally friendly.  A party of them visited the cabin of Edward Smith and found only the children at home, the parents being on a visit in Lanesville, the nearest neighborhood.  The Indians gave the children some ornaments made of shells and departed peacefully.  At another time Dr. English, whose sisters had married respectively Dennis and William Pennington, was visiting Mr. Smith.  He with his sisters, in their youth, had been held in captivity by the Delaware Indians.  It happened that a party of Delawares were camping where Mauck's Mill afterwards stood and by some means heard of Dr. English's presence so near.  They threatened his recapture and he became alarmed.  With the guidance of some of Mr. Smith's family he went away and never returned.


     In 1812 Colonel Posey was Pension Agent.  A pensioner named White came to town to draw his pension and stopped at the Spencer House where a stranger named Cooley was staying.  In the evening these men went out together for a good time and White got very drunk.  In the morning he found his money gone and suspicioun was at once laid on Cooley.  Some of the citizens, Tipton, Mefford, Fred Kintner, Vigus and others tried to get him to confess but failed, whereupon they took him out and whipped him.  After many stripes to no purpose.  Tipton remarked "We will be prosecuted anyhow, so lets wear him out."  Some of the crowd started off for more switches and while they were gone the culprit confessed and told where he had secreted the money.  It was found and given to the owner and the culprit allowed to depart.  This is the first affair of this kind on record.


     In January, 1834, a disturbance arose in the Sipes neighborhood, near Blue River township.  Levi Sipes, a young man became enraged over a whipping given his brother in school and grew so unruly that the local authorities were not able to manage him.  They sent for the county sherrif, William Gresham, that he might arrest him.  Siped shot Mr. Gresham and afterwards slashed him with a knife.  The body of Gresham was prepared for burial and brought to Corydon and afterwards taken to his home near Lanesville.  Sipes was tried at the April term of Court, 1835, and was defended by Honorable John Rowan, of Louisville, Kentucky, Charles Dewey was prosecuting attorney.  The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and punishment fixed at twent-one years in penitentiary and one thousand dollar fine.  Sipes was pardoned by the governor after having served four or five years imprisonment and his fine was remitted.
      During the September term of court in 1850 St. Clair Young was shot and killed at the Jameson boarding home in Corydon by William C. Marsh.  Mr. Young's son had married a daughter of Mr. Marsh and family troubles had followed until the two were bitter enemies.  At the dinner table that day the quarrel was renewed and Young threw a fork at Marsh when Marsh drew a revolver and shot him dead.
      This case came up for trial April thirteenth, 1852, with W. T. Otto Judge and G. A. Bicknell, Prosecutor.  Lawyers for prosecution were Ben Hardin of Kentucky, Charles Dewey, James Collins, Jr. and S. K. Wolfe.  For defense were R. Crawford, W. A. Porter, H. P. Thornton, A. P. Willard, S. H. Keene and D. W. Lafollette.  Jurors were William Hancock, Jonathan P. Cole, Isaac Pitman, George Wright, Wm. Evans, W. M. Bruce, James Wright, Oliver W. Littell, William Wright, John R. Horner, William Wright and Craven Lynn.
      The case was argued for prosecution by Dewey and Hardin and for defense by Porter and Keen.  Marsh was acquitted.  A few years after, in 1858, during  term of court at Brandenburg, Mr. Marsh, was standing on the steps of a hotel in that town when Stanley Young, a son of St. Clair Young, went out on top of a veranda nearby, shot him dead and made his escape.  He was never captured and it is supposed he entered the Southern army and was killed.


     In the summer of 1854 Reuben Williams killed Benjamin Miller at Mauckport.  Williams had, prior to the killing, been employed by Miller to work in his mill.  They had a difficulty and Williams was discharged.  It was believed that Williams slipped up behind Miller while he was at work and struck him on the head with a hatchet.  Williams was tried and acquitted by a jury and made his escape from Mauckport immediately.
     The following account of the Indian White Caps is condensed from an article published in a Pennsylvania paper and prepared by George C. Irwin of the Democrat office:  The first case of White Capping was the flagellation of James Keen in 1868.  He was accused of stealing from his neighbors in Scott township.  He returned to Kentucky.


     In 1873 there came into existence a secret organization known as the "Harrison County Regulators", a society which had signs, grips, passwords and binding obligations.  The name "White Caps" was suggested by the white hoods worn by them as a disguise.  Each council had two officers a captain and a lieutenant, and their place of meeting was in some sequested spot at midnight.  At these meetings they heard reports from committees of investigation and decided on the punishment for alleged misdemeanors.  The members were then provided with strong hickory switches, and upon command of the captain the company galloped away on its mission of vindicating the offended law.
     Within the next few years over twenty cases of White Capping occured.  The number of lashed given was usually fifty but sometimes as many as seventy-five were given.  It was useless to appeal to the courts for nothing could ever be proved against the accused Regulators.
     The first sacrifice of life in these hazardous White Cap operations was in Blue River township on the night of April twenty-sixth, 1880.  Henry Long was termed a "jack leg lawyer" and accused of stirring up strife in the neighborhood.  He was a man of well known courage and they resorted to a ruse to avert danger to themselves.  They had him arrested on a trumped up charge and the trial set at night with a long array of witnesses to prolong it until a late hour.
     The trial was proceeding before Squire Archibald Boston when the Regulators appeared.  Long had been disarmed but a friend had managed to slip him a revolver.  He sprang to the door and shot the first masked man who entered.  He lived but a short time and proved to be Louis Henriott, a leading citizen in the township.  After the first shot the revolver failed to work or he would no doubt have succeeded in selling his life more dearly.  Almost miraculously he escaped the mob, not however, before receiving a shot in the head that resulted in his death a few days later.


     At twelve o' clock at night, June twelfth, 1889, one hundred and fifty horsemen rode into Corydon and a few minutes later James Devin and Charles Tennyson had been taken from the jail and were dangling at the ends of ropes from the girders of the bridge just west of town.  The crime for which they expiated their lives was as follows:  Friday, June seventh, 1889, James Devin and Charles Tennyson went to the home of James lemay, four miles northeast of Corydon, ostensibly as stockbuyers.  They were given supper and while eating they kept looking about the room in a suspicious manner.  Mr. Lemay noticed this and armed himself with a revolver.
     The men were told their room was ready and they could retire when they wished, one of them drew a revolver and ordered the family, consisting of Mr. Lemay and his wife, his two neices and a hired man, into a room and shut the doors.  When the doors were closed Mr. Lemay reached for his revolver and the man nearest him commenced shooting.  A continuous firing was kept up between them.
     Mr. Lemay fired three shots and was wounded five times, and Miss Lucy Lemay was wounded in the arm.  After emptying his revolver Devin ran out the door and Tennyson went headforemost out of the window.  Miss Matilda Lemay ran out and rang the farm bell for help, but the men had escaped.  They were captured at New Albany and brought to Corydon and placed in jail.  Their punishment followed as above described.


     The closing scene in this White Cap drama was enacted in "Conrad's Hollow" near the source of Mosquito Creek in Boone township, Saturday night, August fifth, 1893.  In a cabin in this hollow, Sam and Bill Conrad lived with their mother and sister.  Their father, Edward Conrad, had been found in a dying condition a few hundred yards from his door some months prior to the above date and suspicion of murdering him rested on the two sons.  They were tried in Corydon but no proof being found against them they were discharged from custody.
     George K. Gwartney was their attorney and received from them two shot guns in payment of his fee.  Certain men upbraided Mr. Gwartney for being instrumental in their release and intimated that justice would be given them by some other method.  Mr. Gwartney replied he had only done his duty as an attorney and was now going to do his duty as a citizen of Harrison County - he was going to return their guns to the Conrads.
     Shouldering their guns the Conrads returned home.  It was not long until they heard the clatter of horsehoofs and the barking of dogs at night which betokened that the White Caps were holding councils.  When their own dog was mysteriously poisoned they realized that something would soon occur in their hollow and they moved their beds to a secreted place in the hillside three hundred yards distant from the cabin.  They were fully awake and ready for the fray when the White Caps appeared.
     Secreting themselves behind a picket fence within ten feet of the house, they awaited the coming of the Regulators.  Their opportunity came when, after they had thoroughly searched the house, a large body of White Caps appeared on the porch facing the position occupied by the two vigilant brothers.  There were gun shots in quick succession and five men fell mortally wounded.  The other White Caps precipitately fled.
     It was not until eight o' clock Sunday morning that anyone could br induced to go into the hollow and make investigation of the tragedy.  In the meantime the Conrad's had crossed the river at a point four miles distant and disappeared in Kentucky.
     The Coroner returned a verdict that Edward Huston, Lewis Wiseman, William May, John Timberlake and Alfred N. Howe came to their death by gunshot wounds inflicted by Samuel and William Conrad.
     This is the last attempt at White Capping in Harrison County.  It is not at all probable that there will ever be a repitition of the brutal acts that made the county so notorious.


     On Sunday, July tenth, 1864, John H. Lohmeyer shot and killed Colonel John Timberlake at a church near Mauckport.  Lohmeyer was cleared on a plea of self defense.
     Claiborne Shuck, Sheriff of the county, shot and killed Gideon Heth, Marshall of Corydon on Market Street Novemeber second, 1892.  Shuck was tried before Justice R. S. Kirkham and acquitted on plea of self defense.
     Martin Alexander (colored) attacked and shot William H. Brown (colored ) in Brown's own homeon January twent-second, 1894.  Alexander was tried in court and sentenced to life imprisonment.  He died in the northern prison in Michigan City.
     September twenty-sixth, 1896, Andrew White (colored ) killed James Yeager on the street in Corydon.  White was sent to the reformatory and afterwards paroled.


     Horace Bell was born in New Albany, December eleventh, 1830, of Revolutionary stock on his mother's side.  When he was two years old the family moved to Harrison County just above Mauckport.  He attended a private school in Kentucky, his last teacher being Norman J. Coleman, our first Secretary of Agriculture.
     In 1849, in quest of gold and adventure, he went with many others to California.  In January, 1856, he joined the Walker army of occupation in Nicaraugua and when the war ended in 1857 he was in command of a battalion and one of eighteen left of the original three hundred and eighty-five.  In 1858 his father and brother Charles were thrown into prison in Brandednburg, Kentucky on a charge of attempting to run off some slaves.  Under existing conditions between North and South there was no hope for their release.  Horace and his brother John were called home from California.  They planned a daring scheme of delivery.  On a day when most citizens of Brandenburg were absent at a picnic, they crossed the river, entered the jail and demanded the keys of the cells where the father and brother were confined.  Liberating and arming them, all four passed quickly to their boat and were half way across to indiana before the escape was discovered and themselves hailed.  Horace stood up in the boat, a revolver in each hand, and fired at his pursuers, some of the balls burying themselves in an old blacksmith shop on the shore.
     In the fall, while visiting the Fair at New Albany, he was captured by officers and taken to Brandenburg to jail.  Two boat loads of citizens of New Albany and vicinity followed, determined on his rescue.  Excitement ran high in those days and trouble was only avoided by the wise cousels New Albany lawyers.
     He returned to California in 1860, but almost immediately came back to Indiana in time to join the Sixth Indiana Regiment at Camp Morton.  He was mustered out as Major, April eighteenth, 1866.  In December 1862, Major Bell was married to Miss Georgia Herrick, a girl of seventeen who went with him to his field in the very storm belt of the Rebellion in and around New Orleans.  After the war he went overland to Los Angeles and took up the practice of Law.  He now lives with two unmarried daughters in a handsome home in Berkeley, California.


     In the early days of the territory and State when there was much litigation, there gathered about Corydon, the capital, a brilliant galaxy of legal talent that has perhaps not been equaled since.  The names of many who then practiced at the bar have come down to us as the brightest lights the State has ever known.  After Corydon lost the capital to Indianapolis the attorneys practiced in both places and at many other points in the State, going the rounds of the large curcuit on horseback, through tangled thickets and over muddy roads and swollen streams with "leggings" on and saddle bags beneath them.  The writer of this remembers being aroused at night from childish slumbers by the arrival of her father and his friends after weeks of absence, and the subsequent aroma that arose from frying bacon and eggs as the women of the household prepared a midnight supper for the belated travelers.
     Benjamin Parke, afterwards United States District Judge under President Madison, seems to have been ubiquitous.  His first case was a trial of a young man for stealing a twenty-five cent pocket knife.  He rode all the way to Wayne County to try this case, the only one on the docket.  The Judge sat on a log, the court being held in a forest.
     Other names are Ratliff Boon, General W. Johnson, Thomas Randolph, Attorney General of the Territory, Harbin H. Moore, Reuben W. Nelson and Henry H. Coburn.  The first session of the Supreme Court was held at Corydon May fifth, 1817, and was composed of three judges, namely, James Scott, John Johnson, and Jesse L. Holman.
     Judge Dewey, a bosom friend of Benjamin Parke, sat on the Supreme bench eleven years.  He was in the front rank of Indiana judges.  He moved to New Albany and as late as the fifties he argued cases in the old Corydon courthouse.
     Robert A. New, first Secretary of State, George F. Pope, first Clerk of Curcuit Court, Henry P. Thornton, A.P. Willard, W. T. Otto, Judges Bicknell, Porter and Slaughter, John W. Payne, W. Q. Gresham, Samuel Keen, S. M. Stockslager, S. K. Wolfe, W. N. Tracewell, R. J. Tracewell, Geo. W. Self, are only a few names among many on the long illustrations roll.  At present C. W. Cook is on the bench, associated with the following attorneys: William Ridley, Major W. Funk, Henry Richards, William Roose, Congressman W. T. Zenor, Clay Hays, Emery H. Breeden, Abner Hunter, Frank Self, T. S. Jones, E. D. Mitchell, Clarence Jordan, T. J. Wilson, R. S. Kirkham, George Gwartney, and Lewis O'Bannon.


     In 1814 the general assembly of Indiana granted charters for two banking institutions.  The Farmer's and Mechanic's Bank of Madison and the Bank of Vincennes.  The latter was authorized to raise a capital of five hundred thousand dollars.  The bank had a branch at Corydon in 1821.
     There is no record of any other bank in Corydon until 1857.  On the first Monday of August of that year the Bank of Corydon went into operation with a capital stock of fifty thousand dollars, divided into five hundred shares.  W. C. Depauw held three hundred and ninety-nine of these shares.  Thomas Posey was President of this bank and B. P. Douglas, Cashier.  Other stockholders were Arthur Vance, Edward C. Powers, Benjamin Wendell, G. A. Harbaugh, J. L. Menaugh, S. W. Douglas, Joseph Pollock, George W. Denbo, and John L. Bates.
     In November 1860, another Bank of Corydon commenced business.  Samuel J. Wright, Robert Leffler and T. C. Slaughter of Corydon and James R. Shields of New Albany were stockholders and directors.  T. C. Slaughter was President and James H. Shields was Cashier when it was opened.  The county was disturbed with political and war excitement and this bank never did much business.  In 1862 James Shields resigned as Cashier and was succeeded by his father, Henry B. Shields.  The Morgan Raid occured and the bank office was visited by one of the rebel officers, but as its funds had been taken temporarily to New Albany for security against capture, he got nothing out of it.  Such a troublous state of affairs led to a conclusion to wind up the Bank of Corydon, which was done in the latter part of 1864 or first of 1865.  Nearly every dollar was presented and redeemed.
      George W. Applegate established the Bank of Corydon in August, 1880.  W. B. Slemons, Cashier.  This was merged into the Corydon National Bank, July first, 1905, with the same officers.
      The First National Bank was established  April second, 1903, with J. M. Andrews, President, and V. J. Bulleit Cashier.


     During the war the tide of battle surged up close to the Ohio River, and often the old court house bell rang out an alarm and people gathered on the street corners, believing the foe was right upon us.  We were thus somewhat prepared when on Tuesday, the seventh of July, 1863, the dreaded John Morgan appeared at Brandenburg with his face turned toward Indiana.
     What follows in this account is taken very largely from the article in the Corydon Democrat of July fourteenth, 1863, written by its editor, S. K. Wolfe, and furnished to the writer by Mrs. Agnes M. Jordan.  It is mixed with personal recollections from various sources which might be multiplied indefinitely if space permitted.
     The steamboat T. J. McCombs landed at brandenburg and was immediately captured by Morgan's advance guard then in possession of the town.  The McCombs was taken by the rebels to the middle of the river and there she hoisted the sign of distress.  Soon after, the Alice Dean coming up was hailed to give relief.  For that purpose she approached the McCombs and was thus also captured by the rebels.  The news of the capture of these boats was communicated by some Union men of Brandenburg to Lieutenant Colonel William J. Irvin of the Indiana Legion, then at Mauckport.
     A short time after receiving this intelligence, the Lady Pike coming up was hailed by Colonel Irvin at Mauckport and turned back to Leavenworth for a six pound gun and assistance; a dispatch was also sent to Colonel Jordan for reinforcements.  At midnight the Lady pike returned with the leavenworth gun and a small company to man it under command of Captain Lyons and Colonel Woodbury.
     The fog prevented any action until Wednesday morning, the eighth.  A confusion of orders here occured which has never been satisfactorily explained.  Colonel Irvin gave orders to fire on the boilers of the boats, which orders he says were countermanded by Provost Marshal Timberlake, who claimed precedence and who ordered the gunners to fire on the rebel cavalry on the bank.  Soon, however, two rebel batteries, one at the Court House in Brandenburg and the other toward the lower part of town, began to play with terrific force upon our guns with shells, making it too hot for our boys to hold their position.
     Under the cover of those batteries the enemy began to cross their forces to the Indiana side.  About one hundred men under Captains Farquar, Hays and Huffman met them and opened up fire briskly, holding their ground as long as it was prudent to do so in face of such a superior force.  When they fell back they left Jeremiah Nance of Laconia dead on the field and James Current mortally wounded, to whom Capt. S. M. Stockslager was carrying water in his hat.
     The only thing that could be done was to hinder the march of the rebels as much as possible until reinforcement could arrive on general Hobson, who was in pursuit, could come up.  No help came from New Albany where government troops with artillery were stationed, although dispatches were repeatedly sent there for help.
     Nothing daunted, the Home Guards, with Colonel Jordan at their head, gathered a force of three hundred men on Wednesday evening and marched as far as Peter Glenn's, four miles south on the Mauckport road.  Several small skirmishes occured between these troops and the enemy.  A body of rebel cavalry dismounted at Glenn's house and shot John Glenn, who appeared on the porch with his gun in his hand.  They decoyed his father, Peter Glenn, to the house by a white flag.  Mr. Glenn before the war was accustomed to preach at many points in Kentucky.  In some of these sermons he took accasion to bitterly denounce the institution of slavery, and for this reason incurred the displeasure of many of the slave owners of that section in Kentucky.  It is reported that some of these men were with Morgan and that they had Mr. Glenn marked, and decided to kill him.
     As the Home Guards came upthe rebels rushed for their horses.  One man could not loosen the halter of his horse quick enough, and Mr. Glenn, who saw his son lying wounded and his barn burning, took down his gun and shot this man, thus sounding his own death knell.  The rebels killed him and burned the nice farm house in which he lived.  They had previously burned Peter Lopp's mills on Buck Creek.
     Corydon was a scene of excitement that Wednesday night.  Everybody expected the town to be sacked and burned.  The few remaining men were busy hunting supplies and ammunition for the Home Guards already out on duty, and spiriting away valuable horses.  The women flitted everywhere, hiding valuables and rendering such assistance as was in their power.  The night was moonlight but foggy and weird looking, and through this shadowy atmosphere the figures of men and women looked like ghosts.  The writer remembers forming one in a procession which bore a small box containing watches, silver spoons, and family heirlooms, to the far off garden and there, under the widest spreading current bush burying the box deep from mortal eye.  The few sick people were moved to places of safety and none but children slept.
     About half past eleven o' clock Thursday morning scouts brought the report that the enemy was approaching in strong force up the Mauckport road, toward Corydon.  Our forces, consisting of four hundred and fifty Home Guards and citizens under command  of Colonel Lewis Jordan of the Legion, assisted by Provost Marshal Timberlake (late Colonel of the Eighty-first Indiana Regiment) and Major J. S. Pfrimmer, who up to this time had been engaged with the cavalry in scouting, formed a line of battle on the hill one mile south of town, the extreme right wing resting at the Amsterdam road and the left near the Laconia road, making the Mauckport road one-third of the distance from the right wing.  Temporary breastworks composed of logs and fence rails were hastily thrown up, which did good service in impeding the charge of the enemy.
     About an hour later the enemy made an appearance in small force in front of the Home Guards and were bravely repulsed by the infantry, under the command of Captain G. W. Lahue.  In that fight Mr. Steepleton was killed.  The rebels had several killed and six or seven wounded.  Before this skirmish was fairly over the enemy appeared in front of our main line along the Mauckport road, in strong force.  They completely filled the road for nearly one mile.  The "Henry Rifles", under command of Major Thomas McGrain, opened fire and did good work, the enemy being in full view.  Soon the fire became general along the entire right wing, which checked the advancing columns and compelled them to flank both our wings at the same time.  Their greater numbers enabled them to do this easily.
     The rebels then opened up with three pieces of artillery, which made it necessary for our men to fall back.  The fight then became a series of skirmishes in which each man seemed to fight on his own hook.  In the meantime the enemy had taken possession of the plank road one mile east of town.  On the right wing a large flanking force was sent against our lines and the fighting was very sharp for the space of twenty minutes in the quarter; twelve Henry Rifles and a squad of thirty or forty, a hundred yards to their left, armed with the ordinary rifle musket, holding a heavy body of flankers in check for ten or fifteen minutes and compelling them to dismount.


     Being completely overpowered by numbers our forces gradually fell back to Corydon and most of the cavalry and mounted infantry made their escape.  The rebels planted a battery on the hill south of town and threw two shells into town, both of them striking near Market Street.  One exploded but did no damage.  Seeing the contest was hopeless, and that a continuance of the fight would only result in unnecessary loss of life and the destruction of the town.  Colonel Jordan wisely hoisted the white flag and surrendered.
    "General Basil Duke, in his history of Morgan's Cavalry, places the number of militia at four thousand and says 'they defended their rail piles manfully'.  The defense must have been very creditable indeed, if a brave, veteran officer like Duke could see four thousand men where only four hundred stood.  The War Department recognized the importance of this engagement by inserting the name of "Corydon" in the official list of battles of the Civil War." - (Henry Jordan.)

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  • Harrison County, Indiana
  • 1800-1906

Contributor: jenbreshears
Created: June 29, 2010 · Modified: March 28, 2015

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