History of Odon
The data herein, this May 1981, is gleaned from the Knox and Daviess County historical records, combined with cooperation of the men and women from whom much information and many photos have been gathered: one among them being James E. Garten, who wrote the book “Clarksburg and Early Odon” which is housed in our public library and from which a large portion of this book is compiled.
We take this opportunity to acknowledge our indebtedness to all whom, in any way, assisted in the preparation of this Centennial history, especially our local historians, Mrs. Carrie (Cad) Gantz and Mr. Victor (Massy) Herndon.
Odon - One Hundred Years and still Young!
The largest little town in the world-good school, five good churches in the town - good streets - good water - excellent lighting system - and up-to-date library - good Volunteer Fire Department - good ambulance service - co-operative residents - accommodating business men - first class merchandise - and well kept homes.
We are located eight miles on the east side of the West Fork of White River - two miles south of Furs Creek (First Creek), and surrounded for many miles by fertile fields, which have for the last one hundred years, amply furnished the needs of those who till the soil; and seven miles from the Naval Weapons Support Center, which provides employment for many of our and the surrounding towns, people - Odon is to be congratulated for the wealth in which she abounds. Come and visit us. We invite you.
In 1779, Colonel George Rogers Clark, after completing his victory at Vincennes, was amusing himself by scouting trips. On one of these trips, he came to a spring, “Buffalo Wallow”, less than a mile southwest from what is now the town of Odon. This spring furnished water for range stock during the early days of the community.
Clark’s lieutenant, seeing his commander was impressed with the county’s beauty, suggested naming it “Clark’s Prairie”. James E Garten states that after moving on his farm, he got to thinking that it might have been William Clark. He was assured that William Clark had never been in Daviess County, and that it had been Gorge Rogers Clark who had camped near Clarksburg. He wrote letters to the Vincennes Library and to the Federal War Department to find out when Clark had made the “Buffalo Wallow” history, but, of course, the results were disappointing, as there was no information as to Clark’s visits to the Indian tribes, or his encampments near here.
In 1832, Baldwin Howard, who was a fairly industrious farmer and was half-Indian, wandered into Clark’s Prairie region and stayed. He thus became Madison Township’s first settler.
Madison Township, which was organized in 1823, was originally called Wallace. On petition of a group of interested citizens, the name of the township was changed to Madison in 1835. Madison Township is located in the north east corner of Daviess County; the county being 28 miles long from north to south and 18 miles wide. Madison Township is bordered on the east by Martin County and on the north by Green County.
Mr. Howard settled on the farm later owned by James H. Garten, about three-fourths of a mile south of what is now Odon. He was quite a farmer and historians seem to think quite a lot of Mr. Howard. Whether he ever built a house on this land, we do not know. However, there is a tradition that he split enough rails to fence a small field, and he carried them on his shoulder a quarter of a mile or more to the fence line. In time he came to own a great deal of land east and north from Clarksburg. He had several husky sons, and it is said that they often raised wheat crops of 100 acres; cutting the grain with reap-hooks or cradles.
Dr. John Townsend, who boasted a covered wagon, wife, and a young daughter, camped at the spring; liked the area, and in 1836 purchased from the Federal Government, the north half of section 29; 320 acres in Madison Township. On a small knoll he built a two-story log house which, in the language of my informant “was plastered with white mud”. That is the way of saying the chinking between the logs was covered with white clay. This house stood on what is now the north end of Oak Street where Mize ceramic shop is now. At that time there was no house at any point of the compass south within several miles, save one. That house was the cabin of Dr. Pleasant Franklin on the ridge a little more than a mile southwest in Van Buren Township, not far from the junction of what is now Madison, Elmore, Bogard, and Van Buren Townships.
Anne Louisana, following the tradition of her father, settled in Clarksburg with her husband, Martin Winds. Their marriage being the first in the community. They were married by a circuit rider 2 years after Dr. Townsend founded the town.
Some of the pioneers were afraid to settle in Clarksburg because it was swampy and the Indians still had a quaint habit of carrying tomahawks to work. Two of the local tribes here were the Miamis and the Shawnees.
In 1837, Dr. Townsend sold the west 100 acres of his farm to Amos Townsend, who was probably his brother, for $1,000.00. There was also a family by the name of Kinnamon with son Peter, who came from Kentucky in 1838. There were only 3 families here. In 1841 he sold the east 160 acres to Isaac Eaton for $1,000.00. Five years later Isaac Eaton sold this land to Albert Boyd for $1,000.00. In 1852, Andrew Sears bought the land for $1,040.00. Sears owned this and other land lying to the east and south, for good many years.
Between the years of 1846-48, Sears settled here and bought from the heirs of Amos Townsend the west 160 acres of the Townsend land for $800.00. It seems that Dr. Townsend, when he sold his land, retained the site of his homestead. When he died, he was buried in the old cemetery; according to the late Harvey N. Correll; where the big cedar tree stood, about a hundred feet north and west of the memorial stone erected by the public spirit and enterprise of the local American Legion Post.
When Clarksburg came into being there was a great deal of wild game; especially deer and turkeys; on the prairies and in the vast swampy region that began west of the town and extended to the White River bottoms, and for many miles south, known as the “marsh”. Wild turkeys were still found there in the early 1880’s.The region around Clarksburg was a region of prairies. West of town there was Round Prairie and beyond that was Owl Prairie. South extending to Horse-lick Branch, was Clark’s Prairie, and southeast was Willow-lick Prairie. This lick being a place where deer used to lick the salty marsh. Northeast was Bunkum, probably so called from Buncome County. North Carolina, from which many of its settlers came. The country north was Good Hope, with its church and later its school.
Prairie farm fires burned over the region every fall, thereby preventing any trees from getting a start. The stands of timber that were so abundant in later years grew after the lands were fenced and put into cultivation. Wild snakeroot grew on the prairies. Cows ate it and the milk produced an illness called “milk sick”.
There had been no buffalo east of the Mississippi since a hard winter with logs of deep snow about 1811. Otherwise, there was plenty of wild life. It was said that Solly Ketchem used to get a good station on the high ground above the infant hamlet and study the deer on the prairie south. When he had picked out one that suited him, he would work his way cautiously within a fashion, until he got within rifle range. Ketchem was a dead shot.
“Uncle Joe” Boyd once told this story: Two hunters whom we may call Brown and Jones were in hiding waiting for deer in the Buffalo Wallow. It was the dead of night. Presently two animals moved slowly through the brush. Both men fired at the same moment and one of the beasts fell. Brown exclaimed, “There, we killed a deer”! Jones spoke up, “YOU didn’t, I did.” When they approached the game it proved to be a horse. Jones said, “Yes, we’ve killed a horse.” Brown replied, “No, I didn’t, you did.”
John Hastings had laid out the town of Clarksburg. The work was done by John P. Agan, county surveyor on December 25, 1846. There were 36 lots, 18 on each side of Main Street, with Spring and Oak streets running north and south and bisecting Main Street. There were six lots in a block, and an equal number on each side of Main Street. The two cross streets were the width of three blocks apart.
Benjamin Fulkerson bought the first lots, numbers 19 and 30. For $12.00 each in 1848. Later Samuel Danforth bought lot 20 for $52.00. Finally John Hastings sold all the remaining lots to Andrew Sears in 1852.
A walk down Main Street from the west would reveal at the corner of Oak and Main the blacksmith shop of Miles Reynolds. The next lot is empty. On the next, at the corner of Main and Spring Streets, is the store and house of Jesse Phipps. Across Spring Street is a log milinary store. Why there should be such a store in a community where all the women wore slat bonnets is anybody’s guess. This store was to become a general store owned by Charley Burns, the son-in-law of Dr. Townsend. Across the alley and on the next lot north is the residence of J.D. Boardman. Directly across a vacant lot and due east lived the Rev. Matthew Hawes. Just outside the town plat and facing Main Street, is the H. Long place. A short distance up the street is the home of Howell Hastings, brother of John A., who was the father of Paris and Martha Myers, all prominent in Daviess County.
On the north side of Main Street, in the middle of the block between Oak and Spring Streets, is the Dr. Townsend residence. We cross Spring Street and in the middle of the last block of lots in the plat, lives John Hastings.
The west end of Main Street joined the roads that led to Owl Town on the west and Washington to the south. East Main met the Scotland road leading northeast and the Maysville road leading to the southeast. These roads were rough dirt trails. The first frame house in the township was yet to be built.
Who were these early settlers? One may be sure that they were not numerous at first. We can name only a few. In southeast Madison Township and Martin County, Daniel Ketcham entered 160 acres of land from the Federal Government. He was the first of that family in Daviess County: having come from Kentucky. His son, Seth was once trustee of Madison Township. He once told that he attended the new State University for a short time and studied mathematics under the great Dr. Kirkwood, who, as a scientist, was then unknown in his native state, but was an outstanding man in the astronomical world of Europe. Seth L. Ketch’s son, Daniel, a West Point man, rose to the rank of Brigadier General, and saw service in World War I. His second son, Mac (his familiar name) was a Sergeant of Marines on Dewey’s flagship at the Battle on Manila Bay.
A young man named Moses McCarter, came from Kentucky on a mule and in time, married a daughter of Ketcham and founded the McCarter family. William McCarter and his son, Rufus, were township trustees of Madison Township. A brother of Rufus, John K., was a lifelong teacher and school superintendent. Dan McCarter and others of this large family are now widely known.
There were many others that we know less about who kept coming in from the south and some from Ohio, between the years of 1840 and 1850. There were the Ledgerwoods, Laughlins, Chambers, Conrads, called “Coonrods” by the early Hoosiers. Banner Brummett, Park Fisher, Emsley O’Dell, Bill Briner, Potter Phipps, Philip and Leonard Ward, Clement Correll, Josiah D. Boardman, John and Jacob Shafer, John Ferguson, and William Hubbard. Also there were the Bloughs, Soloman and Andy York, George Pownall, Eli Booth, James H. Garten, Nathan Howard Crooke, Charley Westmoreland, Solly Ketchem, and Andrew Sears, to name only a few. There was also a Negro man named Ben Perkins, who was among the early settlers and was a general favorite. More came at a much later date than others did, but all deserve to rank as genuine “Old Settlers”.
Solly Ketchem operated a distillery about a mile and a half northwest of Clarksburg. Don’t get the idea that he was regarded as a menace to public morals. Almost all early settlers regarded whiskey as a medicine. There were a few prohibitionists, although drunkenness was looked upon much as it is now. Staid old Methodists like James Garten bought whiskey at the still house by the barrel, kept it in the smokehouse and had a large bottle full of liquor, dogwood bark, and slippery elm and black locust and other barks in the family cupboard to use for ague, milk sick, and many other ills.
Andrew Sears came to Clarksburg from Lawrence County. He had sold his farm there for $5000.00, which was a great deal of money at that time. The Federal Government had given the State of Indiana a large tract of land with which to finance the Wabash and Erie Canal. This land was sold in 40-acre tracts, and Sears was a heavy buyer. His land was strung out south of Clarksburg for more than a mile. He had a large family. His daughter, Margaret, was married to Siotha Callahan, Lucinda was the first wife of James H Garten, Jane married Fred Boyd, and Eliza was married to Jacob Summers. We do not know about the rest of the family. The Joseph Sears, well known in Odon, was a grandson and was the grandfather of Dr. Don Sears. Also, among the new settlers in Madison Township were two Amish families by the name of Gingerich and Graber. One of the Gingerich sons, Christian, settled with his family of 15 children (some of whom were married before the move to Daviess County was made), settled just east and north of Odon. Among the Gingerich sons was Joseph, who married Catherine Raber in 1870, to be the first Amish wedding in Daviess County. Peter, another of the older Gingerich sons, bought 80 acres on Christmas Day, 1868; the first recorded purchase of real estate in Daviess County by an Amishman.
Others began settling north east of Montgomery about 1869. There is also an Amish cemetery located in Madison Township about 1 mile east and one-half mile south of Odon.
The following is a story as told by James E. Garten in his book, “Clarksburg and Early Odon”.
As I have already noted, the first settlers of Madison Township, like Daniel Ketcham and Baldwin Howard, came from the south. Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina were the states that furnished nearly all, if not all of them. These settlers did not all come directly to Daviess County. The Sears, Crookes, Gartens, and others first came to Lawrence County, Indiana. Before the Civil War, starting in 1846, a pretty good colony, approximately 50 families came from Start, Tuscarawas, Holmes and Crosotau Counties, Ohio. The Shafers, Boyds, Smileys Dunlaps, Winkleplecks, Kinnamans, Booths, and many others were all from the Buckeye State. Attracted by cheap land and the opportunities a new county offers, they kept coming for twenty-five years and more after the Civil War was over.
These people came from a much older civilization to a land of stumpy fields, log cabins, and roads that had often been marked out by wild game trails. They found the Hoosier mostly poor, semi-illiterate, and unacquainted with many luxuries. It was quite natural that the newcomers looked upon such natives with pity and contempt. They liked to tell of the wonders of the holy home-land which they usually spoke of as “in there”, or “back yonder, still”. There was longing and nostalgia in much of their talk as they tried, in a round about way, to show the unwashed backwoodsmen just how much of a “hick” he was. They clung to the memory of sacred places in the homeland. They could not change the name of Clarksburg, but Ray Dunlap wanted to christen Raglesville “Pinchy”, which was the nickname of Winfield of Tuscarawas County. They liked to tell of the “old Maid” Winyard woman, for example who always put on all the clothes she had, summer of winter, so as to save them in case the house burned down during their absence from home. A favorite topic was old man Peterman who they claimed had a door cut in each end of his coffin so when the Devil came in at one end he could slip out at the other end. The “Yellow-breeches” schoolhouse was one of the much talked of shrines; but the masterpiece of their boasting, their Empire State Building, was the gr3eat and wonderful barn built by Jake Hoopingarner. This sublime edifice was located at “Pinchy”, to the people of Winfield. There were no barns worthy of the name in or around Clarksburg. The average Hoosier lad a log stable with haymow floored with loose saplings; by no means a hole-proof affair. He would listen quietly while he chewed his “home twist” tobacco until in time he came to feel that the Hoopingarner Barn must occupy most of the east side of the country called “back yonder, still.”
As the years passed and “The Barn” grew bigger with each succeeding wave of immigration, the Hoosiers finally made it a joke. When a new Buckeye showed up in the community he was asked, the first thing, if he has seen Hoopingarner’s barn. If he had not, he was told that he was not of the faith, and that there was something wrong with his passport.
The spirit of the Ohio culture was, for a time, paramount in the community. Strange to say, the “branch” running through town was not named Broad Run after the sacred stream flowing near “Pinchy”, or Winfield. No streets had Buckeye names; but the first baker was nicknamed “Sol Domer” after the proprietor of a cake shop on the road between Dover and New Philadelphia.
While the Ohio citizen often tried to stress his own rank and superiority, from the standpoint of practical education he was not too far ahead of the native Hoosier, just different. He smiled when his neighbor said “we-uns”, “you-uns”, “a right Smart”, and “this here” and “that thar”, idioms brought from the South; however, his own conversation was overloaded with “aready” “still”, and often the two together, as “I have been to town aready. He had his corn shucked still. We think it will rain aready still”.
Hoopingarner’s Barn in Madison Township became more than an ideal barn. Jacob Mumaw and John Ferguson, with Jacob Alishouse and others, built Ohio barns. They were built with the lower story like a cellar. Livestock was kept there. On the upper floor were graineries and room for machinery. The type of course came from the Pennsylvania Dutch, and they were most complete barns. Hoosiers called them “bank barns”
What follows let me warn the reader is strictly personal. Read it or skip it, if you like.
Like the little boy in “The Great Stone Face”, Hoopingarners’s Barn took a peculiar hold on me. I wanted the see it more than anything in the world. Ion time, I visited New Philadelphia and the shrines in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. But to my surprise, the Ohio people gave not significance to any of the places I named and had never heard of most of them.
However, owning to the courtesy of two Hoosier born young ladies, Stella and Alta Hoopingarner, granddaughters of the barn builder, I not only got to see the barn but I took dinner with Mr. Jake Hoopingarner. What greater distinction could I ask!
We found the barn to be all it was said to be, except that it did not cover half of a township. It was seventy feet long with proportionate height and width; it could house plenty of livestock. I do not remember whether I took off my shoes when I entered the sacred place or not, but I suppose I did. The location: Where else could it be but in “Pinchy”, or Winfield, near the waters of Broad Run!
I have not kissed the Blarney Stone nor been to Jerusalem or Mecca. Such things as the Bunker Hill Monument or the statuary of Washington are secondary; I have seen “The Barn!” What more could I desire!
The first post office was located about 2 miles east of Clarksburg at the home of Wilson Webster, the first postmaster.
A pony rider used to meet the stagecoach at Vincennes and carry the mail sack to Clarksburg. The mail was distributed by the simple act of dumping the sack on Webster’s floor and calling out the names on the letters.
Later on, during the 1850’s, the post office was moved to Clarksburg. As there was already one town by that name in the state, the office became Clark’s Prairie, although the town did not change its name. The postmaster here was a man named Lutes. He kept the office in his home on north Spring Street. He was not overworked, as once a week the mail come in a hack from Loogootee, and most of the community was awaiting its arrival.
Other places of business, beside the general store at northeast Main and Spring Streets came into being. James H. Garten and Clem Correll had a store on north Main Street. There were no banks but State banks, and these were allowed to issue paper currency almost without limit. Each business house got, from time to time, a directory giving the standing of all the banks in the state. Whenever a customer paid for an article the merchant had to look up the value of the currency offered in this directory. Actually, bank notes were continually changing in value.
Dry goods were hauled by teams over dirt roads from New Albany. It took a long time to make a round trip to Clarksburg. The story is told that once a member of a party of these teamsters got a violent toothache. Whiskey and tobacco did no good and New Albany and a dentist were far away. At that time, wagon wheels were kept on the axles by lynch pins instead of hub caps. This man suffered so much that he had a fellow teamster take a lynch pin, put the point against the tooth and knock it out by a blow with the doubletree pin. The operation was a success and the patient lived.
Sometime in the late 1850’s Ray Dunlap established a wagon shop at the northeast corner of Oak and Main Streets, which is now Ard’s Grocery. This shop was in business, and in time passed into the hands of John Ranson, who was not only a good wagon maker, but a first-class carpenter and cabinet maker as well. After the Civil War this business was continued by his nephew, an ex-soldier named George Abraham, and another recent soldier, Charley Freeman. Abraham did the woodwork on the wagons and Freeman attended to the iron work. Lon Caughy also worked with them. It was not many years until they could buy Studebaker wagons cheaper than they could make them. That ended the wagon factory. George Abraham went into the hardware business and Charley Freeman became a blacksmith in the shop where first Miles Reynold and later Hugh McCoy had operated on Main Street. However, that did not end wagon making in Clarksburg. The Harmon and W.N. Neeriemer blacksmith shop, at the southeast corner of Main Street and the county road continued to make wagons until they retired from business.
The Civil War found Clarksburg ready to do her share for the Union. The local American Legion, with our good friend, “Massy” Herndon as historian, had made a detailed record of the community and the war. Zimri V. Garten raised a company, which was known as Garten’s company. It was soon incorporated into the 91st “C” Regiment of Indiana volunteers as Company C.
Some of the best known Locally were Richard Dunlap, John O’Dell, William Gadberry, William Wirts, George D. Abraham, F.G. Lutes, Billy Arford, Charley Freeman, James H. Garten, and others. Many members of Company C” were from Raglesville and other parts of the county. Corporal Paris Taylor of the East Side of the township was in the 56th regiment; Harvey Correll, Tom Wirts, Mike Wallick, George Critchlow, and others served in the 27th regiment. The roll of Civil War veterans for Madison and adjoining townships was large. Some of these men served in the Home Guard at first and later enlisted in the armed forces for three years.
On one occasion this Home Guard drove to Washington to join county forces to meet an expected attack by the raider, Confederate General John Morgan. They waited all day, but the dashing confederate did not arrive. The crowd had a lot of fun because only one Clarksburg guards expected causalities, Ezrum Redman brought along a roll of bandages.
There were causalities among Madison Township soldiers, and two deaths, that I know of: Eli Booth and Phill Taylor, uncle of the late Henry Taylor. In one skirmish, Mike Wallick, Andrew J. Vest, and Bob Shears of the 27th regiment were captured. The “Rebels” wanted to shoot Mike Wallick, because they said, he had killed their general. His fellow prisoners knew that he had for “Uncle Mike” was a fine shot. After a long and heated argument, they finally made the “Rebels” believe that the man who did the killing had escaped.
The three were imprisoned in Belle Isle. The food was bad as in all other rebel prisons. Wallick and Vest said that while they sickened on the food, Bob Shears, who had been reared in the slums of Cincinnati, got fat. It was better than he had been accustomed to at home.
But all Madison Township was not so loyal. Northeast of town was a cell of the Knights of the Golden Circle. Many of them were openly disloyal. Some of them, as well as others in southern Indiana, wore pins, made out of a butternut, a kind of walnut. Such Southern sympathizers were called “butternuts”. After the war, one of these told a son-in-law whose two older brothers had served in the Union Army, that the local Golden Circle lodge made all preparations to join Morgan when he came; that they had riders picked out to ride each of the son-in-law’s father’s horses. None of these would be Confederates ever went south to join the army in rebellion. Today the “butternuts” and the Knights of the Golden Circle are practically forgotten.
Forgotten, too, is the Goose Pond, a big swamp in Greene County. Not a few citizens of butternut quality hid in that almost inaccessible region to escape the draft. I have heard old soldiers sing a song about it:
“The Goose Pond forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah,
Down with the Union and up with the bars,
For we’ll rally round the Goose Pond,
We’ll rally once again.
Shouting for Andy, Dan, and Treason.”
Andy Umphries and Dan Vorhesse were Copperhead leaders. Vorheese was afterwards a Democratic senator from Indiana.
Howard Crooke and his brother, Monroe, came to Clarksburg from Springville, Indiana. Their father, Ollie Crooke, had the first harness store on Main Street, now occupied by the Odon True Value Hardware Store. Howard first bought a farm in the northwest corner of Van Buren Township where the four north townships of the county came together. From there he moved, as always noted, to the southeast corner of Clarksburg. He farmed, practiced law, did a good deal of trading, and engaged in various other enterprises. He was sort of a of business barometer. Any business that he would invest in was assumed to be sound.
It was he who bought the unprofitable spoke factory, owned it for a time and finally sold it to Lowery Cooper. He always made money in his deals. In partnership with a man named Mulford, he started an exchange bank; this was about 1890. It was located on the East Side of Spring Street, the building just south of the alleyway. Mulford retired from the business after a few years, but Howard Crooke and his son Harry continued to operate it until it was finally sold to George D. Abraham.
Monroe Crooke first located on land south of town directly west of the Park on the West Side of the Shiloh road bordering the Garten farm on the north. I am not sure that he owned it or that he built the house that stood for many years after he moved to town. During these early years the J.M. Crooke store and O’Dell Brothers across the street west were the main dry goods stores of the town. At the time of the fire, Monroe Crooke had retired from business and the Dan and Fred Hayes grocery occupied the building.
The Crookes were not rich by present day standards, but they ere well-to-do, and contributed much to the development of early Clarksburg.
George D. Abraham was of a different type. Energetic, impulsive, he never hesitated to try a new thing. Wagonmaker, hardware merchant, dry goods and shoe store owner, farmer, banker, postmaster, and always a staunch Republican politician, he was a busy man. Such a plunger the town had never had before nor since his day. He was also a builder. The drug store and grocery building at the northwest corner of Race and Spring Streets, the Barkley Store building in east Main Street, the White building or south Spring Street and most of the small wooden structures south of it were built by G.D. Abraham. There may have been others.
Caleb O’Dell and his twin brother, Alex, were important dry goods merchants during the Crooke-Dr. Smith era. They built the store building on west Main Street, which is now the present sit of Osmon Insurance Agency. After they quit business, Caleb, as editor of the town paper was an important factor as a public mouthpiece and general booster.
J.D. Laughlin, or Joe Dunn as he was usually called divided the law practice with Howard Crooke. Joe Dunn as a young man had taught district schools and had, for a time, attended the academy at Dover Hill, Martin County.
That institution of Learning looked big in its day before the rise of the famous Mitchell Normal School. Both are now forgotten. Mr. Laughlin read more widely than anybody else in the little town; he was literal in his views, and was disliked by the clergy. Along with Caleb O’Dell, he did all he could to promote the growth of the town. These were not the only citizens who served the community by any means.
These men represented types found in most small towns. But the citizen who was unique and original, in a class seldom found anywhere, was Emel Welty who was a Swiss by birth. He was a cabinet workman, made coffins, as well as household furniture, and he was a skillful taxidermist. He was not the first undertake. John Burrell has that distinction, but Mr. Welty did a great deal in that profession. It was said that he kept pet snakes, and he probably did. There was something snaky and uncanny about him. He was the sort of chap who could get chummy with a blacksnake. His shop was on what is now east Race Street. In a wide window near that street he kept a collection of stuffed owls, hawks, and other birds. People like to drive past that window to see them. Once a large white hawk appeared in the community. Welty shot it and mounted it in his window. One year, about 1880, a terrible storm blew down all the rail fences in the country as well as many shaky old buildings. It left a large bird with very short wings in Captain Zimri V. Garten’s meadow. It resembled pictures we now see of penguins. Welty mounted this bird and made it the central figure of his display.
Suddenly, in the later 1880’s, the Welty family left town. Nobody knew why or where they went. Many years passed and to most people the Welty’s were a vague memory, when to the surp0rise of the community, Emel Welty returned. He had kept the taxes paid on his property and set up shop in his old abode. He said that he had been in Wisconsin.
Along with the late Wallace Smiley, Mr. James E. Garten called on him one night. Wallace wanted to hear some classical records played on Welty’s phonograph. We found that he had a taste for the very best of music and he had an unusually sound education. When quoted extensively from the Aenead, Mr. Garten expressed his surprise. He said that he had begun the study of Latin in the Old World when he was a boy of six years.
Welty did not remain in Odon many months till he had sold his property and again was lost in the unknown.
The good citizen who rears his family, pays his taxes, attends to such civic duties as fall his way, and keeps out of office and jail, is not likely to stand out on the pages of history. Clarksburg and Madison Township had many of these. Likewise, the wives who often cooked over an open fire, spun the home grown wool, and looked after the garden, chickens, and the children are also generally overlooked. Yet there are men and women who are in this state. However, I must not forget one man who was always trying something new.
Dr. Daniel J. Smith, brother of Editor John V. Smith was the sort of man who would, today, make good copy for a feature news writer. He came from Lawrence County when Clarksburg was quite small. His sister had been married to Andrew Sears, already mentioned. When Smith and his friends came to their new home they had to chop brush out of the trail so their wagons could get through. He built his first house on the hill in the east end of town, north of where Main Street crosses the county road, or what is not North East Street and is owned by Samuel (Monk_ and Geneva Hayes.
The house is still standing, and of course, has been remodeled with rooms added. In late years he sold the first house and built a new one considered quite “a house” in its day on the southeast corner of Sycamore and Main Streets where the Baptist church now stands. He had the first telephone in town. In the hall above the drug store he put on dramatic performances, and installed the town’s first incubator and hatchery. Then he tried a skating rink. Later on, in the back room on the first floor, he opened a poolroom. This last act was too much for the Christian Church of that day, and it suspended his membership, but not for long. He bought the first Edison phonograph that the town had ever had. He gave exhibitions with it in the Stoy Opera House. Almost every year he was doing something new.
Joe Boyd, in a letter to the Journal a few years ago, recalled the story of Old Billy Lynch and Dr. Smith’s battery. The doctor liked to put a coin in a pan of water, drop an electrode in it, and then ask one of the boys to pick up the electrode, and with the other hand pick the coin out of the water. It is an old, old trick now, but it was new then. Nobody in the crowd could stand the shock, as he plunged his hand into the pan of water. Billy Lynch came along and stopped to watch the fun. Somebody told him what was up. Old Billy carried a thirst several days old, and he was very dry and wanted the fifty cents in that water. Taking the electrode in one hand, he plunged the other hand into the water. He let out an Irish yell that carried several blocks, but he held on to the fifty cents.
In another chapter, Mr. Garten says more about DR Smith’s dramatic experiences.
On the southwest corner of Spring and Walnut streets stood a building housing a drug store of D.J. Smith, whose office was also there? Upstairs was the printing office of his brother, John V. Smith. This building was the oldest business building in Odon, being occupied in its last days by Talmage Hastings as a grocery store and feed store. It was torn down in 1979 and is now a parking lot.
From this original office came the town’s first newspaper, a four-page sheet, each page eight inches long by seven and three-quarters wide; title
This was Vol.I., No.I. The first page was mostly taken up with a salutatory in which the editor says that he is offering this newspaper because of the public needs one. The new editor is in favor of Woman’s Rights, the right to marry any man she can catch. He admonishes young men to cultivate good looks and to take a good care of their whiskers. He wishes the merchants lots of trade and the mechanics to get good pay.
Here are some of the locals:
Snow is in the air.
Captain Garten wants a Railroad. Can’t someone help him? Henry Correll of Washington has purchased the residence of Mr. Seneff of this place, and proposes supplying the trader with tinware. Good.
It is passing strange how the novelty of a small printing press will last, and the press not a novelty either; “Stand Back, Boys!!!!!”
The inside pages are a display advertisesment of T.J. Smith and Company.
On the fourth page, the editor apologizes in broad faced type widely spaced for the late appearance of the first issue of the The Spy.
The paper room grew to page, 10 ˝ inches by 8, and the title became THE FORMER “SPY” building. Later Hastings grocery store before it was torn down. Unknown because the railroad did not come through here for another 16 years.
The Spy of January 15, 1874 tells us that A.W. Caughy and Miss Ollie T. Redman were married by Rev. T.A. Long of Carksburg. No bride’s maids, no best man; no frills. We are not even told how the bride was dressed. The account concludes thus: We wish for Mr. Caughy and his fair bride a long and happy life as they travel through the low ground of sorrow, and when life and its toils are o’er, may they soar to that lofty habitation above where friends never part and joys everlasting.
There are business cards of J.D. Laughlin and Howard Crooke, attorneys of Law; ads of J.V. Smith and Co., Abraham & Freeman, and the flourishing tinware establishment of H.N. Correll. The following may be interesting:
J.T. Glenn has a large lot of choice tan-bark, which he will sell on very favorable terms. Inquire or address James T. Glenn, Clark’s Prairie, Indiana.
Dr. D.J. Smith’s ad of May 21, 1875 puts strong emphasis on coal oil. “Always keep the best,” he says and adds, “I will shortly have some pure liquors for medical purposes and for “Nothing Else”.
“Clark’s Prairie, Indiana, January 18th, 1874.
Editor of the Spy: During the last week, I visited the following schools in Madison Township, Trustee Shaffer accompanying:
District No. I, Abel Padget, teacher. Number enrolled, 37: average daily attendance, 16 ˝. (This school is now abandoned.)
District No. II, Amanda J. Haskins. Teacher. Number enrolled, 40; number present, 25
District No. III, Clarinda Wilson, teacher. Enrolled, 48; attendance 37. Examinations in classes in arithmetic and grammar. Pupils passed a good examination - awarded certificate of Good Scholarship to Mary O’Dell.
District No. V, Robert Stotts, teacher. Number enrolled 35; average attendance, 20. Examined classes in arithmetic, grammar, and orthology; pupils did not pass a very good examination, probably owing to irregular attendance. Certificate awarded to John P. Keek.
District No. VI, John M. Haskins, teacher. (No enrollment or average daily attendance given.)
District No. VII, Thomas Hubbard, teacher. Number enrolled 42; number present, 35.
District No. VIII, Fred S. Boyd, teacher. Number enrolled, 20; number present, 15. Teacher young but very good.
District No. IX, Alexander O’Dell, teacher. Number enrolled, 71; average attendance, 64. This is a well-managed school.
District No. X, John W. Stotts, teacher. Number enrolled, 33 number present, 24. Examined classes in arithmetic and orthography. Passed but a medium examination. Certificate awarded to Elizabeth Fisher.
High School, Henry B Kohr, Principal. Number enrolled, 34; number present, 24. School well governed. Theory and practice very good.
On the whole, the schools of Madison Township are doing well. If parents and guardians would try to visit their respective schools once in a while, thereby encouraging both student teacher and pupils.
Edward Wise, Co. Sup’t.
The following advertisement speaks for itself: Wanted, a wife. Must be good looking, medium height, and accomplished. Address: Ben Lane, this office. The issues of THE SPY do not reveal that Ben found a lady who could qualify.
The Spy of September 15, 1875 proposes the following candidates for next year:
For President 1876 - Oliver P. Morton of Indiana.
For Vice President - James G. Blaine of Maine.
The editor of The Spy had a keen sense of humor. The paper kept growing in size until it was about like those of the later Journal; but it never got beyond four pages. At last the title read “Weekly Spy”.
The late Sam Burrell left to the Winklepleck Memorial Library the file of the early Clarksburg newspaper that is left. According to it, the last number of the Weekly Spy was dated June 16, 1877. Why The Spy ceased to exist is not known. It was probably not a paying proposition. John V. Smith then left Clarksburg. For the next eight years the town got along without a newspaper.
However, in the summer of 1885 Mr. J. V. Smith and his brother, Dr. D.J. Smith called at the residence of James H. Garten to inform him that a new paper was about to be launched. It was to be called THE PRAIRIE SCHOONER. According to Sam Burrell’s file, the first number was dated October 10, 1885. Mr. Smith did not long remain in business. The next editor was W.L. Stoy till 1889 when purchased by Caleb O’Dell who bought the paper in 1889 and changed the name to Odon Journal. The paper’s name had changed from The Spy, to Prairie Schooner, to Odon Republican to the Odon Journal. At the helm have been besides Caleb O’Dell, William K. Penrod, Wilson Myers, Dean Inman, John Stoats, and Carvel Stotts, and the present owner, John L. Myers.
During the campaign of 1896, when William Jennings Bryan was dashing about all over the nation preaching his doctrine of the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1 of gold, George Abraham and other republicans, got afraid that Mr. Penrod’s paper would turn from the party gold standard principle for free silver. George was never slow to act on an idea. Accordingly, he financed a new tabloid weekly, The Odon Commercial, with Harley Burrell and Walter Breden in charge. His fears proved to be groundless. Mr. Penrod did not vary from the party line, and the town had two newspapers. It was not long until Mr. Penrod sold out to Wilson Myers and Mr. Penrod went to Loogootee with the Tribune.
The Commercial lasted two or three years, Burrell and Breden went to other jobs, and the paper ceased to be, partly because there was not room in a small town for two newspapers. Another such venture is very unlikely.
The reader must remember that while the town was named Clarksburg, the post office was Clark’s Prairie. That name began to sound too rural to the young people and the progressive citizens who expected the place to become a second Terre Haute. There was a lot of argument around the store hotstoves during the winter of 1881 as to what the name should be. Lon Caughy wanted the name to be Garfield for the newly elected President. Joe Dun Laughlin and Alex O’Dell had been two of the principal agitators for a new name. It was finally decided to name the town for them. O for O”Dell and Don for Joe Dun. The syllables put together spelled Odon; nobody had the old norse god Woden, in mind. Nobody there but Joe Dun and Wesley Neal had ever heard of him. There was already an Odin in Illinois and the knowledge of that place helped to blend O and Dun in Odon.
Then in 1885, following settlement as to the name, the town was incorporated and the era of wooden sidewalks was on. The walks were made of two-inch planks laid lengthwise, they were on both sides of all the principal streets, and the citizens were most proud of them. Elnora, they felt was outclassed.
Through the early 1880’s the town grew to several hundred inhabitants. New additions were being laid out. North of Main Street on the west extending from Grove Street west to the county road and north of Elnora Street was the Hugh McCoy addition. Just east of McCoy on both sides of Spring Street is the Olley Crooke addition. Beyond and across Elnora Street was the Sam Dunlap addition. West of Spring Street, south of Main, the Sarah A. Garten plat extended from the old Clarksburg lots south and west. Farther west, on Main Street to the county road. Captain Z V. Garten laid off a series of lots. East of Spring Street and south of Main the Howard Crooke addition extended east and south. Then east of the County road and south of Main is the Sarah Pensinger addition. The Harvey Smiley annex was farther east, on both sides of Main Street. At this time, there were nine dwelling houses west of the U.B. Church on west Main Street and six on the south side. Center Street had been opened to extend west from Grove Street and Parallel with Elnora and Main Streets. On the southwest corner of Center and Grove stood for many years, a log cabin. Another cabin stood on the adjoining lot west.
East of the U.B. Church, as one walked up Main Street on the north side were the J.M. Crooke and Franey Stoy houses, where now stands the Winklepleck Memorial Library and where the late W. T. Dearmin's residence once stood and where York’s Pharmacy is now. Across Oak Street on the corner of Stoy’s Opera House. It stood where the wagon shop had been.
The Opera House rates more than a passing notice. It was a two-story frame building with an outside stairway on the East Side. On the first floor was Walter T. Dearmin’s Drug Store. On the second floor was a hall seated with chairs, and there was a stage with some scenery in the north end. There were no church basements or school auditoriums in which to hold public gatherings. Consequently, Stoy’s Opera House was used for festivals, township conventions, political speakers, and quite a few dramatic performances. The most widely known man to speak there was that Hoosier-born politician, John P. St. John, one time Governor of Kansas, and when he was at Odon; he was candidate for President on the Prohibition ticket.
The next building was a large, rambling hotel, Stoy’s Inn, which after a life of about fifteen years gave place to the K of P. building, which is now Ard’s Grocery. The Hugh McCoy - Charley Freeman blacksmith shop had first been succeeded by marble shop.
The monument business had first been carried on by Albert Burrell and Bill Waggy on Main Street where it corners with the county road on the north side. In time, Waggy was succeeded in the firm by George Correll. The shop was then moved to the site noted above. It was finally moved to the location west of the Odon Milling Company and north of the railroad.
This firm produced an artistic genius who should always have a prominent place in Odon history; the statue of Lincoln in the City Park is a work that has elicited the admiration of visitors from far and wide. Ira Correll has produced other works, many of which were shipped all over the USA, that
have given him an enviable place among sculptors.
The marble shop on Main Street was followed by a grocery store building erected by Hugh McCoy. The location is now Charlie William’s barbershop. On the next lot was the McCoy home. On the street corner of this yard, George Abraham, in a few years, built the business houses later known as the Gantz drug store and the hall grocery which is now the Masonic Hall and the Odon Journal.
Across Spring Street on the corner of Main and Spring was a frame two-story building on the site of the old Charley Burns store. This was Monroe Crookes’s general store. Dan and Fred Hayes had a store in the building when it was destroyed by the 1891 fire.
Later, Monroe Crooked replace
this building by a two-story brick business house which was torn down in recent
years to give place to the present First National Bank structure, which will
soon vacate to their new building located on the corner of South West Street and
Main. The cottage east of the
Crooke building was also in the path of the fire as was a frame store building
just beyond it. The Myers’ Clothing
Store stands where the cottage was.
James H. Garten built the building to house the Levi Clothing Store. The next building was the two-story drug
store with a two-story hotel attached as a wing on the east side belonging to J.
B. Crooke. The fire also got
it. The livery barn escaped the
flames because the next lot east of the hotel where the Malt Shop now stands was
vacant. The livery stable was of
more importance to Odon life than one might think. There were no railroads or buses
carrying traveling men or furnishing transportation.
Far up the street beyond the old brick school building was the Sammy Daugherty tanning yard. Harvey Smiley was the original tanner, but he quit that work to manufacture tile. For years he and his son, Milo, sold little over a wide territory. This business was on farther east.
Let us go back west on the south side of Main Street. The first place of business on the corner of Main and the county road is the Harmon-Neeriemer blacksmith shop. The firm made wagons, too, and was quite a flourishing place. There were a few residences in that block. Across Sycamore Street cornering with Main Street, was Dr. D.J. Smith’s new residence with the first Clarksburg telephone. This is now the site of the Baptist Church. The telephone wire which ran from residence to office in Main Street drug store, passed over a corner; a very small one; of the Daggley; lot. When the two men quarreled, Dr. Daggley notified Dr. Smith to remove his telephone off his premises. Next in order was Henry Correll’s tin shop, and then his home where Aunt Julia Correll kept a hotel that was very popular with the numerous traveling salesmen of that time because of its bountiful table. This is the site of the present American Legion building. Then came a residence; across the alley was a low building that had once housed Ollie Crooke’s harness shop. In the middle of the 1880’s it held the Hitchcock and Winklepleck hardware store. Aaron Jolliff, later about 1906, erected the present hardware building, which is now occupied by the Odon True Value Hardware Store. Next was the Link Stoy drug store. A cottage, not a recent structure came next, George Abraham had a store on the next lot, which is approximately where Mary Bunch’s Towne Shop is now. On the corner was a small one-story building used as a grocery and for the business including a saloon.
A certain public-spirited citizen of Epsom had conducted a saloon at that town, and he noted that a number of the leading men of Clarksburg liked to stop at his place enroute to Washington. He concluded that it would be a grand idea to move his product closer to so vigorous a market, therefore, he moved his beverage to this store building on the corner of Main and Spring Streets. It proved to be a sad mistake. The Clarksburg friends did not come near him, and he had to go back to his old location. Had he had the system of back entrances and back rooms that the drug stores were later to use, results might have been very much more satisfactory. On the corner Dr. Daggely later built the well known brick front building. In 1900 W. J. Danner replaced it with the Poindexter building, which now houses the Up Town Motel.
Across Spring Street was the Alex O’Dell large yard and residence. On the lot cornering with Oak Street was the O’Dell Brothers general store which is now the Harp’s Hardware. Spring and Oak Streets extended but a single block south. There was no suggestion of a future Dearmin poultry plant or of the busy business and traffic on Spring Street. Walnut, the next street south of Main, began, as did the next street, Race, at the Harvey Smiley lots east and ended at Sycamore Street. The Stoll Brothers Lumber Inc. building is now at the corner of Sycamore and Race. All the territory where the railroad, businesses and the residential section south of there was at the the time all pasture land belonging to Howard Crook east of Spring Street, and to Zimri V. Garten west of the county road. The business directory of 1888 lists Ezra Mattingly, Principal of the Odon Schools; L.M. Courtney, minister; Howard Crooke and J.B. Crooke and J.D. Laughlin, attorneys at law; Wm. H. McCarter, township trustee; Alex O’Dell, township assessor; John Dearmin, Carton Sears, S.F. Harris, Steven G. Culmer, and A.K. Lane as physicians; George Abraham, W.T. Stoy, J.M. Crooke, J.W. Danner and Hitchcock and Winklepleck as merchants, Harvey Smiley and son and Dunlap and Pershing as manufacturers.
Perhaps there are some mistakes in this narrative, but correct data is hard to obtain now.
THE MOCK LEGISLATURE AND OTHER RECREATIONS
The frame schoolhouse on the hill on east Main Street was, for a long time, the only place for general assembly. It was used for church services, formal meetings, and conventions. The most noteworthy of these was the Mock State General Assembly during the winter of 1875. It seems that all the adult citizens were members and there was, of necessity, a single house. In this case, the Assembly elected the Governor, who was also the presiding officer. We have no information as to who the candidates were for that high honor, but Captain Zimri V. Garten was the one who was elected.
He gave a rousing inaugural address that was very good, that is to say short - it filled only one half column of the February 15 number of the Clarksburg Spy. He also delivered a message, which filled a little more than five columns of a page in the same issue. The Spy, at that time, measured eleven inches by eight. The two addresses were probably delivered on different evenings, for it seems the sessions were all at nighttime. The room was lighted by tallow candles and lanterns.
The Governor’s message discussed the dog tax, railroads, the courts, game laws, temperance, education, internal improvements and state affairs. Each in a separate heading.
The law-taxing dogs was a real issue and this executive was opposed to it because, he said, it did not work. He would use powder and lead on sheep-killing dogs, and would force their owners to pay for sheep killed.
He wanted a railroad built from New York City to St. Joe, Missouri, which was to pass through Clarksburg. Congress was to build it and finance the Indiana part of it by the sale of land in the alternate counties through which the road was to run. Jackson, Martin, and Knox Counties were named, not Daviess, as the ones furnishing the land.
The courts were too slow. The law’s delays were irksome. Witnesses should not have to pay their own expenses while waiting to testify.
The game laws were not to his liking. He seemed to favor no such laws at all.
He thought the laws on the liquor traffic rather futile or they were poorly enforced, however, he offered no substitutes. Drunkenness he deplored, and wound up the topic by advocating laws to restrain the distilling and the sale of liquors. He suggested that fines collected from petty crimes and misdemeanors should go to the school fund.
The new Governor was opposed to the efforts of some others to abolish the office of county superintendent of schools. He would raise the pay of that officer from $4.00 per day to $7.50. He though that if said superintendent should be injured by being thrown from a horse for from having the branch of a tree fall on him, that the trustee of the township where the accident occurred should take the injured man to his home.
Laws should be passed, he urged, to encourage farmers to drill holes in their land to a depth of as much as two hundred feet. In this way coal veins and other mineral wealth could be discovered.
As he had no budget before him, he could only make the age-old plea for economy in state affairs.
From reports, the message “went over big”. The sessions went on most all the winter. Orators spoke to crowded houses. One member, named Jim Glenn, furnished a large part of the wise-cracks and witticisms. A favorite subject for discussion was the law taxing dogs, and but few of the members favored the law. Glenn’s speeches in opposition usually “brought down the house”. His apt remarks were frequently quoted first as those of Scott Arford.
We do not know whether any of these imitation statesmen ever became members of the real General Assembly, but we do know that many of them who were to represent Daviess County at the State Capitol.
Forms of entertainment as we think of such things, were few. No movies, no athletic games, circus, show, and virtually no travel. The only trips most people had made had been in ox-drawn wagons. But there was jumping; the broad jump, the running jump, and half hammon. In the latter, they ran to a set mark and took a hop, step, and a jump. Fist fights were very common, there were local bullies, but no boxing matches were held.
In the fall and late summer there were apple cuttings and corn huskings for the young folks. There were spelling matches after the schools were established, and the revival meetings that went the rounds of the local churches. When two young people began to “keep company”, a wedding usually resulted. It required but little capital to start a home and family in those days.
At one time four townships voted south of Clarksburg, at the junction where the old Will Smiley home stands. The old-time elections were not very quiet affairs. Often a candidate would set a bucket of whiskey in a conspicuous place and invite his supporters to come up and refresh their political fervor. Fights were frequent and there was plenty of vote buying. Each party printed its own ballots. They were not kept track of and were handed about by candidates like advertising matter. The only ones that counted were the ones that went into the ballot boxes. Drunkenness was common and little attention was paid to it. Mr. Garten’s uncle told of being at a political rally a mile east of Clarksburg. There was a ten-acre field that was full of transportation, and under the greater number of the wagons, lay a drunk man.
In time, the public whiskey keg or bucket ceased to be used. The liquor was handed around secretly in a pint flask. Vote buying went on until the Australian Ballot came into general use. That checked, but did not stop the practice altogether. The voters who were for sale were called “floaters”. The politician who bought the votes, paid the men in secrecy, usually one to two dollars, gave him a ballot, walked him to the ballot box, and saw him put the ballot though the slot.
Mr. Garten remembered a case back in the 1880’s where four fellows came to the election and offered themselves for sale. They spent the afternoon dickering first with the Republicans, then with the Democrats. They wanted two dollars each, which the politicians thought, was too high. While they were undecided about their votes the polls closed.
Campaigns were waged with great heat. The Clarksburg-Odon part of the county was strongly Republican with the Grand Arm of the Republic, which was an important factor. To many of them, a Democrat was a sympathizer with the South. One often heard Oliver P. Morton’s famous utterance: “All rebels were Democrats, but all Democrats were not rebels”. It should not be forgotten that there were many “war Democrats”, men who volunteered to fight in the Union Army but who still vote their old party ticket.
From the Johnson administration until the Spanish American War, all the Republican presidential candidates, save James G. Blaine in 1884, had had records in the Civil War. That conflict, too, had a big influence in state and local elections. The Clarksburg-Odon community was strongly affected for it was decidedly Republican and G.A.R.
The Democrats had named Winfield S Hancock for their national standard bearer in 1880, a general whose record was of the best, yet he was defeated by James A. Garfield, a brigadier of Volunteers from Ohio. However, in 1884 the Democrats nominated Grover Cleveland of New York, a man with no military achievements to his credit, while the Republicans put up their best statesman, James G. Blaine, of Maine. That gentleman had served in Congress during the war. It was a hot campaign all over the county. Cleveland was unknown out of New York. His being a minus quantity in military ways made him a good political target.
Rallies, torch light processions and other manifestations of party spirit were held all over the county. Here at home, Caleb O’Dell composed a song, a parody on the ancient turn, “Good Bye, My Lover, Good Bye”. In the poetic effort Mr. O’Dell mentioned Grover Cleveland, the district candidate for Congress, and all the Democratic candidates for county office; then told them what was coming to them.