CHAPTER II.
THE OLD FORTS AND THE FIRST SETTLEMENTS.


The first settlements in Sullivan county were made on lands that the French had obtained from the Indians during- the period of the French regime. These lands were in the vicinity of Vincennes, and were later known as the Vincennes district. The treaty with the Indians for these lands was made in 1742, and the general description of the boundaries was-"lying between the point above, Pointe Coupee en haut, and the river Blanche below the village, with as much land on both sides of the Wabash as might be comprised within the said limits." Pointe Coupee was a mile or so above the mouth of Busseron creek, in the southwest corner of what is now Gill township. The village referred to in the treaty was, of course, Vincennes, and the river Blanche was White river. Thus the lands granted to the French by this treaty comprised practically all of Knox county, the southern portion of Sullivan county, besides some lands on the west side of the Wabash.

Some of this land was occupied by the residents of the country during the French and British control of the territory. After the American conquest, and while Vincennes was commanded by governors from Virginia, further dispositions of the lands were made under the authority of the local officials. After the organization of the Northwest Territory in 1787, the disposal of the lands was regulated by Congress.

In 1791 Congress passed a land law upon which were based subsequent titles to the lands of this district. This law provided:

1. That 400 acres of land should be given to the head of each family residing at Vincennes or in the Illinois country in the year 1783;

2. That a tract of land containing 5,400 acres near Vincennes, which had been under fence and used as a pasture for thirty years, should be given to the inhabitants of Vincennes to be used by them as a common until otherwise disposed of by law;

3. That the governor of the territory be authorized to donate a tract of land of 100 acres to each man who 011 the 1st of August, 1790, was enrolled in the militia, had done militia duty and had not received a donation;

4. That the governor upon application should confirm to heads of families the lands which they may have possessed and which may have been allotted to them according to the usages of the government under which they had respectively settled;

5. That where lands had been actually cultivated and improved at Vincennes or in the Illinois country, under a supposed grant of the same by any commandant or court claiming authority to make such grant, the governor might confirm such claim not exceeding 400 acres to each person.

The bodies of land described in the first section have since been known as "donations;" those in the third paragraph, as "militia donations;" and the last classes are generally known as "surveys."

The status of the lands in the Vincennes district at about the time the first settlements were platted in Sullivan county is described in a letter from General Harrison to James Madison in January, 1802. He said that the governors' courts maintained at Vincennes under the authority of the Virginia commonwealth from 1779 on had assumed the right to grant land to all applicants; that they did this for a time without opposition, and concluded that, as they were not interrupted, they could continue as they pleased; that finally the whole country, to which the Indian title was supposed to be extinguished, was divided between the members of the court and perhaps others, the lands thus disposed of extending along the Wabash river from La Pointe Coupee to the mouth of White river and forty leagues west and thirty east, excluding only the lands surrounding Vincennes, which had been granted to the old residents. The authors of this division had later perceived that their course was illegal, and the scheme was abandoned, but was revived a few years before 1802, and portions of the land purchased by speculators and sold fraudulently to eastern settlers. Harrison stated that upward of 500 persons had settled or would soon settle upon these lands in consequence of these frauds, that the owners pretended that the court had ample authority from Virginia to grant the land, and that speculators had gone to Virginia, had secured a deed for a large tract, had had it recorded and duly authenticated, and had then made their fraudulent transfers to the credulous.

A large amount of litigation rose from this condition of land claims, and it was several years before the claims were investigated and settled by the government commissioners. A more complete account of the subject is not pertinent to the history of Sullivan county. But the fact that much of this land got into the hands of speculators and was offered for sale in Virginia to prospective homeseekers no doubt explains the cause that attracted some of the first settlers to the region now included in Sullivan county.

The lands about Vincennes were, as already stated, ceded by the Indians to the French in 1742. But on June 7, 1803, General Harrison concluded a treaty with the Delawares, Shawnees, Pottawatomies, Miamis, Eel River Weeas, Kickapoos, Piankeshaws and Kaskaskias, which confirmed this cession. The northern boundary of this cession, as described in the treaty, is a matter of history in Sullivan county. Pointe Coupee on the Wabash, just above the mouth of the Busseron, was the principal point on this boundary. The line did not run due east and west through this point, but at an angle of 12 degrees from this direction, its general course being from northwest to southeast. The treaty also provided that in case some of settlements and locations of land made by the citizens of the United States should fall in the Indian country, the boundary might be altered to include these settlements.

This is the origin of the "Old Indian Boundary" in Sullivan county, a line that often figures in the land descriptions of the southern portion of the county. A small portion of the southwest corners of Gill and Jefferson townships is south of this line, and the greater part of Haddon township is by this line shown to be in the cession which was confirmed by the treaty of 1803. In Haddon township the boundary leaves the straight course at right angles so as to include within the ceded area a rectangular body of land lying about three miles northeast of the general direction of the boundary. In this rectangle is the town of Carlisle. It is probable that when the survey was made this deviation from the regular course was made in accordance with the clause of the treaty above noted, in order to include some settlement or settlements that otherwise would have been left in the unceded Indian country.

The Fort Settlements.

In the boundaries of this "Old Purchase," as it was called, were planted the first settlements of Sullivan county. It is probable that in 1803, at the ^me ^ie treaty, some of the lands south of the Indian boundary were in the nominal possession of certain individuals who claimed them bv right of one of the methods above described. So far as can be learned there was 110 actual settlement in Sullivan county previous to the year 1803. The family of James Ledgerwood came to this vicinity in 1803, and his is the first pioneer name of prominence in the county. It is hardly possible that he was the first and only person who deserved the honor of first making a home within the limits of the county. Others came, doubtless, about the same time, but either because they did not remain long or because they were not of the prominence to impress themselves on the memories of later residents, there is no record of name or fact concerning them.

The Ledgerwoods settled on the Busseron, as did the majority of the first comers to this region. In a few years the locality at the northern edge of the Old Purchase was called, for purposes of distinction, "the Busseron settlement," and in 1808, when the northern part of Knox county was set off into a single township, it received the name of Busseron. Busseron was the name of one of the leaders of the militia at Vincennes about 1790.

The Ledgerwood family settled west of Carlisle. When they constructed a habitation they also made it a castle of defense against the Indians. The distinguishing feature of the "block houses" or "forts," of which there were several in the southern part of the county in the first decade of the last century, was the projecting upper story, with numerous loopholes, from which the assailants were exposed to the guns of the defenders above, and all entrances to the building were thus guarded by the overhanging story.

These block houses were built of the very strongest timbers that could be obtained, and required both more time and labor for building than the ordinary log homes of the early settlers. When built they served not alone for the protection of the individual household, but each became a central gathering place and fortress for the entire neighborhood during times of danger.

In the vicinity of Carlisle and within the limits of what is now Sullivan county there were four block houses during the first decade of the century, each being the home of one of the prominent families of the county, and each one serving, as a refuge for the other families living near by. Fort Haddon was built about 1806, and took its name from the pioneer John Haddon and family, who came from Virginia in that year. Those who assisted in the construction of this fort were Frank Williams, Joel Price, Thomas Holder Sr., John Haddon, William Price, John McConnell, John Ingle, James Black, Thomas Anderson, Joel Collins, and Edward Purcell. A block house was also built by the Holder family, who setted here in 1807, and one by the Lismans. At the time of the Indian hostilities which preceded and continued through the war of 1812, these were the places where all the people of the vicinity gathered on occasion of an Indian alarm, and they naturally came to be known as Fort Haddon, Fort Holder, etc.

During the first decade of the last century little direct historical testimony can be found concerning the settlers about Carlisle and along the Busseron. An examination of the files of the Vincennes Western Sun, which began publication in 1807, brings to light an occasional item concerning the people of this vicinity. These items are often valuable in fixing the dates of settlement by different families.

At that time Vincennes was the business and official center for this county, and the inhabitants on the Busseron went there to get their mail and to transact all business that connected them with the ouside world. A list of advertised letters at the Vincennes postoffice on July 1, 1807, discloses two names that belong to the pioneer history of this region-Samuel Ledgerwood and Robert Gill. The latter was no doubt a member of the family which gave name to the prairie in the southwest corner of this county and later to the township. The date when the Gill family reached Sullivan county cannot be given with assurance, but it is said that one of the name was among the advance pioneers who explored this region before any of the permanent settlers had arrived. In the advertised letters for October, 1807, appeared the name "Jesse Haden."

Another evidence concerning the pioneer settlement was a notice published in the issue of December 2, 1807, of the incorporation of the Wabash Baptist church, including the members "residing on Bussroe," the notice being signed by Newton E. Westfall.

On April 3, 1809, an election was held for representative of Knox county. The electors of Busseron township, according to the published notice, were to meet at the house of John Haddon Esq. John Haddon was himself a candidate for the office of representative, receiving 120 votes in the county. Busseron township at this election cast 94 votes. Another election was held on May 22, 1809, for an additional representative to the legislature, and John Haddon was this time the successful candidate. He was probably the only member of the territorial legislatures who lived within the boundaries of the present Sullivan county.

Up to this time the country north of the Indian Boundary above described was not open to settlement, and thus the greater part of our present county had not been redeemed from barbarism. But in 1809 was effected a treaty with the Indians which not only brought into the public domain a large territory including this county, but was one of the causes for the uprising of the Indians under Tecumseh which preceded the opening of the war of 1812.

By the Indian treaty of September 30, 1809, the Indians ceded all the country between the boundary line established by the treaty of 1803, the Wabash river, and a line drawn from the mouth of Raccoon creek in a southeasterly direction to White river. Raccoon creek is a few miles above Terre Haute, so that by this treaty the United States public domain was extended from about the locality of Carlisle to about the northern limit of Vigo county. The area gained by this treaty was called the "New Purchase," in distinction from the "Old Purchase," which lay south of the Indian Boundary line. These lands were not open for public entry and sale until 1816, but under land warrants and by actual occupation many settlers had gone into this region before this time.

But for five or six years after the treaty of 1809 the permanent settlements of this country were greatly disturbed and further influx of settlers much retarded by the Indian hostilities which preceded and accompanied the war of 1812. The Indians had not failed to regard with jealousy the gradual encroachment of the whites upon their hunting grounds, and when, in 1809, several of the tribes ceded a large tract of territory to the American government, Tecumseh opposed the treaty, declaring that one or several of the tribes could not barter away the lands that belonged to all the Indian nations in the confederacy. Despite the efforts of Governor Harrison toward breaking up the confederacy which had its center about Prophet's Town, the Indians became more hostile every day. Small parties appeared in different parts of the territory, stealing and occasionally taking, the lives of settlers. Tecumseh and his brother became more insolent in the conference with the governor, and, on the eve of the second war with Great Britain, a secret British influence increased the disaffection of the tribes.

Then followed the campaign of General Harrison against the Indians, the building of Fort Harrison, the battle of Tippecanoe, which effectually broke the resistance of the Indian confederacy, the attack on Fort Harrison, and the subsequent desultory hostilities which kept all the settlers within reach of the forts and block houses throughout the duration of the war. These were events of general history, and only in a few instances concerned Sullivan county more than other counties. A few items in the Western Sun mention the movements of the troops through this county and other incidents of the period. In the issue of November 23, 1811, it is stated that "on Sunday last the governor arrived with the army on the Busseron about 20 miles above here, where the troops from the eastern counties of the territory and Kentucky were discharged." In October, 1812, it is noted that Major General Samuel Hopkins with his army started up the river toward Prophet's Town, having about 4,000 men, 2,500 of whom were mounted volunteers. This was the unfortunate expedition which, partly owing to the incapacity of the leader and also to the rebellious conduct of the troops, left a record along its route of plunder and destruction among the white residents and against the real enemy effected little or nothing during the few weeks of the campaign. In the issue of the Western Sun of November 3, 1812, is the statement that the Kentucky mounted troops had returned to Busseron, where they were discharged.

A tax sale advertisement in the Sun of May 26, 1812, relating to delinquent taxpayers on Busseron creek, contains the names of some of the residents of that vicinity-John Dooley, John Culbert, Thomas Barton, Matthew Dobins, Abraham Huff, Daniel Hazelton, John Johnson, heirs of James Ledgerwood, and Francis Williams.

Of more interest is the following advertisement, dated May 16, 1814: -"Grist mill for sale. Will be exposed to public sale on the 3d day of June next, a saw and grist mill with five acres of land, laying on Busseron creek, formerly known by the name of Ledgerwood's Mill. Twelve months' credit will be given.-William Ledgerwood." This was the original mill of Sullivan county, and at this date the only one along Busseron creek except the one in the Shaker settlement.

Another item of civil affairs at this time was mention of the election in Busseron township to be held at the house of John Curry, which is the first mention of that pioneer name in the annals of the county. This election notice is in the issue of June 29, 1814.

Recurring to the Indian hostilities of this period, there are a few brief items in the Western Sun that afford a contemporaneous view of some events which have a large place in the Indian annals of Sullivan county.

In the issue of December 3, 1814, is reported the fact that the Indians had again been committing depredations on the frontier. "On Saturday and Sunday nights last they stole a number of horses from the Busseron settlement." The paper of March 4, 1815, gives the report of one man killed and one wounded on the Busseron, this evidently referring to the Dudley Mack massacre. The Sun of May 13, 1815, has the following paragraph: "We have to record the murder of another of our fellow citizens by our friends the Indians. On Saturday night last Mr. Davis from Kentucky was killed by them near Fort Harrison. We have also learnt that the two boys taken prisoners by them some time ago on Busseron have been murdered." The last of these records of Indian hostilities in this vicinity is in the issue of May 20, 1815. "On the 13th Lieut. Morrison with 16 men was surprised and his party dispersed by the Indians between Busseron and Fort Harrison. Five bodies have been found and three are missing."

There are several local accounts of the Indian depredations which are thus briefly referred to in the newspaper items. In the former history of the county were published the various versions of the Dudley Mack and other Indian depredations, most of the information on the subject coming, it was said, from Dr. Helms. These accounts are repeated substantially as then given.

On Sunday afternoon, February 12, 1815, Dudley Mack and Madison Collins were on their way home from Shakertown, and had reached the east side of Husseron creek, near Lisman's ford, on Survey 20, when they were surprised by four Indians, who commenced firing upon them, killing Mack instantly anti wounding Collins severely. When Collins was struck he fell from his horse, and, though bleeding profusely from several wounds, he ran toward a road nearby, and just as he reached it his horse came dashing, up to him. With the desperation of a drowning man he swung his body over the back of the faithful animal. At this instant one of the Indians ran up and hurled his tomahawk, which struck the horse in the ear and caused it to dash off at full speed toward the block house, three quarters of a mile distant. Arriving there the wounded man was well taken care of, but there being no surgeon nearer than Vincennes, one of the Haddons was posted off to that point, and hours had to elapse before the wounds could be properly dressed. Collins eventually recovered. The body of Mack was buried in the Jonathan Webb graveyard, on the edge of Gill's prairie.

On the same afternoon of the above occurrence, two boys, named Campbell and Edwards, took their guns with them when they went for the cows, intending to kill some wolves which had been seen in their neighborhood. They never returned from the woods, and were never heard of again, though it was reported in the Sun, as above stated, that they were murdered.

The most interesting and detailed account of the country along the Wabash and about Fort Harrison as it was at the close of the war of 1812 and when settlement was just beginning to change the wilderness is afforded in an old book, entitled "Travels through the Western Country in the Summer of 1816," by David Thomas. The book was printed in 1819, and some of the facts have been brought up to 1819, though in general the diary kept by this industrious and observing traveler describes things as they were during the summer of 1816. The author had journeyed down the Ohio and up to Vincennes, and it is after setting out from the old capital that we will join the traveler as he passes over the country from Vincennes to the northern edge of settlement.

Shakertown.

"Eight miles above Vincennes we passed from the woodland flats into the south end of the prairie that extends up to Shakertown.

. . . . Shakertown, the residence of the Shakers, consists of eight or ten houses of hewn logs, situate on a ridge west of the bayou, eighteen miles above Vincennes. The site is moderately elevated. As we approached, the blackness of the soil, and the luxuriance of vegetation, was peculiarly attractive; but much water was standing on the low ground to the east; and a mill pond on Busseron creek must suffuse the whole village with unwholesome exhalations . . . . The number of inhabitants is estimated at two hundred, who live in four families . . . . Marriage is prohibited. From dancing, as an act of devotion, their name is derived. Like several other sects, they conform to great plainness in apparel, but their garb is peculiar. In language they are also very distinguishable . . . . In their dealings they are esteemed as very honest and exemplary. Until within a few months they entertained travelers without any compensation; but the influx has become so great that they have found it necessary to depart from this practice . . . . The estate at this place consists of about 1,300 acres. The mills which they have erected are a great accommodation to this part of the country, and to these they have added carding machines . . . . These people settled here before the late war [1812-15]; but after their estate was ravaged by the troops who went with Hopkins on his expedition, they sought refuge amongst their own sect in Ohio and Kentucky, and only returned last summer . . . .

"After procuring some refreshment [at Shakertown], we resumed our journey-turning eastward, and nearly at right agles to the river, intending to visit M. Hoggatt, to whom we had been directed by our friends at Lick Creek. He resides on a farm belonging to the Shakers, at the distance of seven miles . . . . Our friend has resided between two and three years on this farm. On his first removal from North Carolina, he fixed his abode at Blue River; but came hither to explore the lands of the New Purchase previous to the sale. These lands have excited much attention, but various circumstances have conspired to prevent the surveys from being completed . . . .

French Lands. "To satisfy the claims of the old French settlers, the United States directed to be set apart all the lands bounded on the west by the Wabash river; on the south by the White river; on the east by the West branch; and on the north by the north bounds of the Old Purchase. Four hundred acres was assigned to each person entitled to a donation. The land has never been surveyed by order of the government, consequently it has never been regularly performed; and the maps of this territory within these boundaries are generally blank . . . . All lands held in this quarter are therefore under French grants (except some militia claims). In locating, it was necessary to begin at the general boundary, or at some corner of lands, the lines of which would lead thither; but no course was given, and the claimant settled the point with his surveyor as he deemed most to his interest . . . .

From Shakertown to Fort Harrison.

"Accompanied by our kind friend M. H. [Hoggatt] we commenced our journey for Fort Harrison. Our road led northwesterly through prairies principally composed of clay, though very fertile and interspersed with fine farms . . . . At the end of seven miles we crossed [Busseron creek] at a mill . . . . We then passed through barrens (so called), which produced corn of uncommon luxuriance . . . . At the distance of three miles we came out into the Gill's prairie, where the extent and beauty of the scene and the luxuriance of the corn excited our admiration; but the driftwood was deposited in lines above the level of no inconsiderable part of this fine tract. Indeed, we have seen none except the Vincennes prairie that is free from bayous . . . . This bayou, ten miles in length, receives its waters from Turtle creek.

"We were now within the limits of the New Purchase, and consequently none of the few inhabitants who have fixed here can have titles to the land except through the intervention of Canadian claimants.

"At Turtle Creek the woodland commences . . . . Our route still led through woodlands. We had five miles further to travel, and the approach of evening induced us to mend our pace. But it became dark before we arrived at Tarman's [Turman's] where we lodged . . . . This person with his family resided here before the late war. A small prairie of 200 or 300 acres, known by his name, and bordered by thick woods, except toward the river, chiefly contains the improvements. Last spring they removed from the prairie to a new cabin in the woodlands, near the road. The upper story of this building projects for the purpose of defense; and may serve as a memorial of the apprehensions which overspread the white settlers before the late treaty with the Indians at Fort Harrison. A short time before the approach of those persons who came with Hopkins, this family, fearful of the Indians, abandoned their dwelling and retired down the river. In the hurry of removal many articles were necessarily left behind. When the band arrived they wasted everything that could be found; and the sons told me that their hogs and neat cattle were wantonly shot down, and left untouched where they fell . . . .

"After breakfast we continued our journey. Several families have fixed their abode one or two miles further north; and so much confidence has been felt in the right of possession that a sawmill has been erected in the present season [1816] on a small creek. We should be gratified hereafter to learn that such industry and enterprise have been respected. In this neighborhood we passed a coal mine, which has been recently opened, though the work has been but partially performed . . . . As the excavation is made in the channel of a small brook, the torrent, by removing the loose earth, doubtless led to this discovery. All the strata of this fossil that we have seen in the western country has appeared near the surface; and it would not surprise me, if it should be brought forth in a thousand places where the shovel and the pickaxe have never yet been employed . . . ."



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