Thursday, December 25, 2008

Jefferson County’s Mormon Pioneers

No congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints was successfully established in Jefferson County until the 1960s. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.

It might be better to say no long-lasting congregation was established because there were efforts from very early in the history of the Mormon Church and these continued throughout the 1800s.The earliest record the church reports is the trip by two ministers, Reynolds Cahoon and Samuel Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, who set out for Missouri in June 1831. Along the way, they stopped in Kentucky and preached in Madison, Vienna and Unionville, although no details were given about these appearances.

Next, in the winter of 1832/33, Simeon Carter organized an L.D.S. branch in Hanover, which had 27 members, according to the April 1833 edition of the Evening and Morning Star, a Mormon publication. But no further record of that effort has been found. After that, there is a gap of 20 years of reported church activity in Jefferson County. At a conference in Nauvoo, Ill., held on April 6, 1843, Joshua Holman and John Pierce were appointed as missionaries of Madison. Holman died in 1849, having returned to Nauvoo, and Pierce was not listed in the 18500 Jefferson County census.

What happened next is unclear with only hints given about Mormon activity from records of the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints. (They did not call themselves Mormon and the denomination changed its name to Community of Christ in 2000.) At some point a Swiss immigrant, Louis Van Buren of Manville had become an L.D.S. member. This is known because by 1861, he had joined the reorganized church whose Saints Herald said Van Buren had visited the denomination’s headquarters in Lamoni, Iowa. It reported that “Elder Louis Van Buren, of Manville, Jefferson county, Ind., tarried in this city several days. He is a believer in the New Organization, and I am informed that he was an elder in the Old Organization. He is on his way to Switzerland, his native land, and expects to return next summer.”

The presence of Mormons probably drew the Reorganized Church into Jefferson County for organizing efforts that began in the 1870s with much greater success than the Mormons had achieved.

An 1878 letter by the Rev. James Scott, who spearheaded this activity along with his brother the Rev. John Scott, mentioned that, “There are a great many more of the old saints throughout the county,” but gave no other details. Few of these are known, including, the Rev. William Marshall is known, as a Madison newspaper account said he had been a Mormon, and had been excommunicated by the R.L.D.S. because he believe in polygamy. (In the twentieth century, he was a Baptist and preached at the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Shelby Township.)

The Scotts began their evangelizing by Dec. 7, 1872 when James wrote he had procured a house of preaching. This was probably at Wirt where on June 27, 1873, following 20 days of meetings held by the Scotts, four Madisonians joined the Union Branch which met at the Union School House two and a half miles from Wirt. These included “Brother Woodburn and his wife” who were described as members of the old church. On July 2, 1873, the Daily Courier reported Union Branch had 26 members. James Scott’s 1878 account said the branch began with 10 members under elder Samuel Rector and minister (called a priest) William Blair. By March, 10, 1876, Union had 33 members. By 1883, it was reportedly considering purchase of the Christian Church building in Lancaster. Whatever it did, Union Branch moved into its old building by Nov. 9, 1884, when the Saints Herald reported its church building had been dedicated. This was probably the one building reported for the denomination in Jefferson County by the 1890 census.

There were also attempts to found a congregation in Madison. The May 15, 1873 Saints Herald, noted that Elders were wanted at Madison. On July 25, Elder Scott and Elder B.V. Springer conducted a service at the hall of the Washington Fire Co. in Madison that drew 50 people. But no congregation formed. Meanwhile, Springer had luck elsewhere. The Madison Courier of Feb. 4, 1874 mentioned that Elder Springer of Kansas had become the settled pastor of the Mormons of Smyrna Township. The congregation gave him ten acres of land and was building a house for him.

While no other records of the Smyrna congregation have been found, more is known about the Mt. Pleasant Branch, which met on the Milton Township of Hall’s Ridge. It was organized on Oct. 13, 1879 with 22 members and conferences of the Reorganized church’s Southern Indiana District were held on Nov. 20, 1879 and March 5, 1881. Since the R.L.D.S. had only one structure in the county in 1890, Mt. Pleasant probably did not have its own building until after the congregation purchased land in 1894. But the church did not last long and in 1904, the property was soon and the new own demolished the building.

By 1900, the L.D.S. itself was ready for one for effort in Jefferson County. Madison’s 1900 census showed Hugh Harvey, Jessie Pay, Isaac Zundel, and Erick Larsen boarding at 204 East Street. All four, born in Utah, had the same occupation “preaching.” They probably returned to their homes after their missionary service and there was no Mormon congregation in Madison until 1967.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Myth of Madison’s Pork Supremacy

Madison, a small city on the Ohio River was once the pork packing capital of the world, eclipsing its larger upstream neighbor Cincinnati. In 1850, a Madison newspaper bragged that the city had five times as many hogs as Cincinnati.

Unfortunately, the story wasn't true. Madison was a leading city for slaughtering hogs and packing porjs. But it never came close to matching the volume of business done in the Queen City. It did close the gap in 1852, Madison’s greatest year and the last year of growth in its pork market.

In 1837, the first year that statistics are available for Madison, it handled 13,000 hogs while Milton, Ky., processed 5,000, according to the Western Address Directory. Cincinnati packed 103,000 that year. Madison only topped 100,000 once and that was in that final year of glory. Madison’s three best years were 1850, 1851 and 1852 and the number of hogs was reported at 93,949, 94,984, and 130,730, and had the town been able to maintain its dominance in Indiana railroads, it probably would have kept growing.

But even then, from 1833 through 1851, Cincinnati had only two years in which its volume dropped below 100,000 hogs. There were 85,000 in 1833 and 95,000 in 1840. In the 1840s, there were five years in which the totals were 213,000 or higher. In 1848, 1849 and 1850, Cincinnati houses packed 498,160, 310,000 and 401,755 hogs respectively. There was a reason Cincinnati, not Madison, was nicknamed “Porkopolis” during that era.

The Cincinnati numbers were from the book The Industry Resources of the Southern and Western States, published in 1852 by J.B.D. DeBow, a Louisiana professor who was known for his magazine DeBow’s Review, which covered a wide range of economic issues in these regions. While statistics vary in other sources, none of them put Madison in the lead in any year.

The reasons for Cincinnati’s dominance are likely very simple: it was founded earlier and it was bigger so it had the time to develop the resources that Madison was just beginning to attract. Also, while the area to the north of Madison was just starting to develop in the 1830s, Cincinnati was able to draw on a more mature farm economy from most directions.

Cincinnati packing houses could also offer more money to farmers. The 1850 annual report of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad noted that in good weather, some farmers drove their hogs to Cincinnati, rather than shipping them to Madison, probably reflecting a combination of higher prices paid there and the high rates the Madison railroad charged.

When the railroads linked, Cincinnati picked up more business. And as is accurately told, Madison’s booms days were over.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Band of Gypsies

They didn’t have much, if any impact on Jefferson County, and they may have left no descendants in the area. But a band of gypsies that settled in Hanover by 1860 got more than their share of stories published about their brief sojourn in Jefferson County.

The group showed up in the town of Hanover when 81 persons identified in the 1870 census were shown as gypsies. They carried the surnames: Green, Youngs, Woods, Reynolds, Knobbs, Smythes and Bofo and included some distinct first names, such as Whyte Youngs and Pablo

Youngs. Thirty-seven bore the Young/Youngs surname and 12 were Greens.

The 1860 Jefferson County census doesn’t shown the surname Stanley, even though several sources show that Owen Stanley, reportedly the Gypsy King (there were probably many of them) and died in his wagon near Madison on Feb. 21, 1860 in his sixty-seventh year. There were supposed to be 200 in this group so the rest must have left by 1870.

Stanley was born in Reading, Berkshire, England, and his body was taken back to the Woodland Cemetery near Dayton, to be buried next to his wife, Harriet Warden, who died on Aug. 30, 1857, age 63. That's according to the History of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio, published in 1909, whose author found their tombstones. This book claims Woodland was the first gypsy cemetery in the United States, but that’s one of those claims that should be immediately questioned.

he group appeared to have arrived at Dayton in 1856 from Canada (where they can't have stayed long), moved on to Indiana quickly, and most moved on quickly again. The best evidence of their emigration date comes from a transcribed tombstone in the cemetery that showed: “ daughter of Mary,Dangefo and Dovie Stanley; born in England, died December 11th, 1857, aged two years and fourteen days," …

The publications talking about them were kind, compared to some of the comments made about gypsies. Part of this seems to have been racial--the Stanleys were far more European looking than some of their darker brethren.

Owen Stanley
was succeeded as king by his son Levi Stanley, whose wife Matilda became queen. There is no indication they came to Indiana with the rest of the tribe and were shown in Troy, Miami County, Ohio, in 1860. There were 25 people shown as wanderers in Troy. The 1880 census shows none of these families remaining In Indiana--they apparently came together and left together.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Madison’s Curious Status

An earlier column on this blog looked at the odd way in which the founding of Madison has been given as 1809 and which has led to the city’s 200th anniversary being set for 2009—even though the only thing that happened in 1809 was John Paul’s purchase of the land on which lots were later created.

As pointed out, the first settler within the land that became Old Town Madison, John Henry Wagner, arrived in 1808 and no lots were sold until 1811. But beyond that is the question of the status of Madison as an officially authorized government entity, after its platting by Paul.

Initially, Madison was simply a populated area governed by the Court of Common Pleas, which handled all areas of government for Jefferson County after it began operating on Jan. 11, 1811.

The first act specifically naming Madison was the creation of road districts—for defining the area in which residents could be required to work on public roads. This occurred on June 18, 1811, although for some reason the court then authorized Madison to be formed into a road district on Feb. 19, 1812, perhaps reducing the number of districts to one—the minutes do not spell out the difference.

Madison was the also site of a justice of the peace court with the appointment of William Vawter on May 15, 1808. Justices were appointed by the governor until Indiana became a state in 1816, and there is no indicated that these justice’s territory was limited to Madison. (Even though John Vawter stated he was the first justice, territorial records clearly show William’s appointment and that John was named to the position “vis”—in place of—William, who had resigned on July 16.

Madison definitely got its own justices on March 5, 1817, as the commissioners authorized an election to be held on the first Monday in April for the election of two justices “for the Town of Madison who are to reside there …”

The usual report is that Madison was not incorporated as a town until April 1, 1824. However, the minutes of the county court showed the election of Dawson Blackmore, Nathaniel Hunt, Abraham Clarkson, James Ross and Martin Rowzer as trustees on Sept. 8, 1817. The language of the minutes is clear in referring to these men as trustees for the “corporation of the town of Madison” and this seemed to end the court’s direct governance.

Besides the 1824 action, there were more involving Madison’s status as a town. It was incorporated again on Jan. 2, 1829. Then followed a series of laws, including one of Jan. 25, 1850 in which the state legislature extended the town’s southern boundary from High Street to the Ohio River. However, the lawmakers felt that a series of amendments to the charter had made the situation confusing, and reincorporated the town on Feb. 4, 1831

As a town, Madison had no mayor. The trustees choose one of their own members as president who presided over meetings and signed official documents. In 1824, and perhaps earlier, the board had been expanded to seven from the five-member board of 1817.

Madison achieved its final government form in 1838 when it was incorporated as a city.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Council Bluffs Land: Politicians for Hire?

Did three leading Indiana politicians sell their votes in the 1850s?

On the surface, the charge, made in the Council Bluffs (Iowa) Bugle of April 14, 1858, looked ridiculous. The newspaper claimed that Senator Jesse D. Bright, a Madisonian, and Congressmen William H. English and James B. Foley, all Democrats, had accepted land as payoffs for the votes for admitting Kansas as a state under the Lecompton Constitution, which permitted slavery.

The House of Representatives appointed a committee to investigate the charges on April 27, 1858, but the motion was immediately tabled and there is no record of further discussion.

The Bugle article, which was read into the Journal of the House of Representatives, alleged that that the Commissioner of the General Land Office ordered 2,480 acres to be entered in Bright’s name, 2,280 in English’s and 1,440 acres in Foley's.

The men's defenders noted that the charge made no sense since Bright voted for the Lecompton bill and Foley and English against it. The Lecompton Constitution had the support of President James Buchanan and the question of whether to recognize Kansas as a slave or free state was a major issue leading to the success of the Republican Party. And it’s hard to see why Bright, a slave owner who supported the Fugitive Slave Act, needed an incentive.

Foley represented a district including Decatur County from 1857 through 1859. English, a Scott County resident, represented Indiana’s second district from 1853 through 1861. However, English actually authored a compromise and was considered a Buchanan man.

But the three men did secure thousands of acres in Iowa in patents dated May 1, 1860 and entered at the Council Bluffs land office. So did Buchanan, who as president signed the patents, attempt to sway Bright, Foley and English regarding some issue?

Because Bright did in fact patent 2,480 acres at the Council Bluffs land office and English had 15 patents dated May 1, each 120 acres for a total of 2,240—the 2,280 mentioned in the congressional record was likely a transcription or typographical error. And Foley’s nine May 1 patents of 160 acres each add up to 1,440 acres.

All of these patents came via land warrants that were originally awarded to soldiers who had served in the War of 1812 or the Mexican War, and had been signed over to the politicians. Other politicians had followed this practice. For example, Senator William Hendricks, another Madisonian, patented 1,480 acres that had been awarded to soldiers.

Since amounts of land patented by the three men match those reported in the Iowa newspaper, something was up. But what? Did Bright get land for trying to persuade English, who had worked in Bright's law firm, and Foley? Certainly, Madison Courier Editor Michael Garber, Bright’s nemesis, considered the senator to be corrupt and accused him of padding his Senate expenses. And while Garber was shrill, he was often perceptive. But Garber apparently did not know about this issue.

The question remains of just how these men obtained the land.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hoyt vs. the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad

The cog system that enabled railroad cars to climb the long inclined plane of the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad was a very good idea.

It was so good that a Dupont resident, William Hoyt, and the railroad company fought for years over who invented the system and had the rights to its patent. Hoyt received the first patent in 1849. But the patent office overturned the grant and awarded it to Andrew Cathcart, a Scottish machinist who was still working for the M&I.

While most histories credit Cathcart with the invention, Hoyt claimed he invented it in 1840 and that Cathcart stole the design after seeing it 1844.

The battle really pitted Hoyt against John Brough, the hardworking and arrogant president of the M&I whose name lives on in Brough’s Folly, the uncompleted tunnel in what is now Clifty Falls State Park.

Hoyt pictured his opposition as using unfair tactics. When witnesses gave depositions, all those testifying for Cathcart were railroad employees who gave their statement in the company offices in front of Brough, along with lawyers Michael Bright and Joseph G. Marshall, who were railroad directors. Hoyt tried to get the lawyers to testify, claiming they were acting for Cathcart. But Bright and Marshall said they represented the company. Hoyt also alleged that all witnesses met beforehand in private in William Jackson, the railroad’s secretary, or with “the Old Fox himself” [Brough] in the company anterooms.

The most serious charge was that in January 1850, Brough advertised in an Indianapolis newspaper that he was “of counsel” to Cathcart.

All of these charges were spelled out in a pamphlet called “Vindication” that Hoyt published in 1850 in support of his version of events.

Money was at stake. Hoyt alleged that the railroad company agreed to pay $1,000 a year, plus a $6,000 payment in 1853, if the experiment were success if Cathcart received the patent, which would then be transferred to the company. The company feared if Hoyt won, he would seek damages, the inventor said

Whoever was right, the Scientific American of June 12, 1858, reported the railroad “compromised the dispute by paying him [Hoyt} a handsome sum.” Handsome or not, other sources reported the amount as $1,000, not bad for the era.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Don't Drink the Water

The biggest health hazard in Madison, Ind., in the late 1800s and early 1900s was probably not a particular disease. It was the town’s water supply.

Many towns on the Ohio River faced the issue of a water supply that was increasingly polluted. Nor did towns need to be on the river to have problems. The state board of health tested three private supplies in Kent in 1899. None of the water was considered suitable for drinking.

But Madison had special problems that stemmed from the attempt to come up with cleaner water.

A 1901 report by the state board of health noted the town’s sewers, which served a small part of the city, as follows: “All the sewage goes direct to the river, there being eleven outlets along the river front. From one to seven feet of clay cover the gravel strata and many cesspools drain into it.”

The problem was the sewage wasn’t treated, and obviously that applied to the cesspools as well. The same reported said that, “Night soil is collected by licensed men and is dumped into the river opposite the town.”

Despite the city’s efforts, the situation actually got worse In1908, six wells were sunk in the bed of the Ohio River and the water was taken from these wells which were six feet below the river bed, under a layer of sand and gravel. The theory was the water would be filtered by the beds of sediment.

However, the system didn’t work. When the river was low, water had to be pumped directly from the river into the water mains. And at some point, water from the river broke through the sand bed and fed directly into the wells. The result is easy to imagine.

A report by the state board of health for 1909 noted, “There are times when this water is of good quality, but at other times it is entirely unsatisfactory. Twenty-one private supplies have been examined, five of which were of good quality, one was doubtful and fifteen were bad.”

A 1911 report repeated the finding:: “The tap water of the Madison city supply is wholly unsuitable for drinking and domestic purposes in its present condition.” In 1914, tests found the water “seriously polluted and unfit for drinking purposes.” It noted Madison had a “splendid supply” of water available through driven wells which could be place in the river bottom or on its banks. And the latter course would be the eventual solution.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Almost High Noon at Madison

It is more an accident than anything else that Madison did not go down in history for the second most high-profile duel in American history. The first, of course, was the duel in which vice president Aaron Burr killed former secretary of treasury Alexander Hamilton.

The planned faceoff between then-Senator Jesse Bright and prominent Madison lawyer Joseph G. Marshall would have been almost as noteworthy and the antagonists tried hard to make sure it happened. It was only through the intervention of their friends, which included some of the nation's most prominent men, that it was averted at the last minute.

Bright and Marshall had clashed repeatedly. Bright owned slaves while Marshall, who inherited slaves and set them free, was a champion of abolition. Marshall, a Whig and later a Republican, would have become United States senator from Indiana, except that Bright, a Democrat, outmaneuvered the Republicans in the Indiana legislature.

They had one thing in common besides ambitions--both were hotheads. Once, at a trial in Charlestown when a
Judge Otto called him a liar, Marshall “knocked him down. Judge Otto arose, and, coming at Mr. Marshall" in a belligerent manner, was knocked down again." Marshall later apologized. And in another episode, he got angry and broke down a door.

On the other side, Bright reportedly knocked down the doorkeeper of the House of Representatives for what was termed "an inconsiderable offense." Bright also used invective freely. On April 27, 1857, he wrote to R.M. T. Hunter, chairman of a House committee, demanding the Hunter fire the committee's clerk named Henrick, for a letter the latter had published in the New York Herald. "He is a liar, slanderer, and within a few days past, has proven himself a coward" and a few words later dismissed him as a "lying slandering coward" Bright said. The charge of cowardice suggests Bright had challenged Henrick, who had declined, although it may have been Bright was simply liberal with his epithets.

The personal animosity led Marshall to plan killing Bright. In what sounded like a Wild West showdown in the streets, Marshall once purchased a bowie knife, which he put in his pocket. He walked Madison’s Second Street between the post office and West Street from 10 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., knowing that Bright customarily picked up his mail at 10 a.m. Bright, however, changed his routine that day. Marshall was quoted as saying: “Had he come I should have attacked him and killed him, if I could. I knew he was always armed, so I would not be taking him at a disadvantage.”

The dispute spiraled into a duel challenge. The two agreed to meet on an island in the Ohio River, placing it in Kentucky, probably because the Indiana constitution prohibited dueling. Their entourage included leading Madison merchants and prominent public officials and future leaders. One of them, Madison’s William McKee Dunn, a Congressman and later Judge Advocate General, provided many of the details.

The weapons of choice were rifles at 50 paces. Bright and his group stayed at the Gault House while Marshall and his contingent at the Louisville Hotel. Marshall was so determined to shoot it out with Bright that when police came to arrest him, Marshall said his brother, the Rev. Samuel Marshall, who came to stop the duel, was Joseph Marshall and the police led the minister away. The attorney was later corralled and their friends negotiated a settlement.

Bright never got that close to a shoot-out again. But Jesse wasn't through. He got into a fight in a courtroom in 1853 and was fined along with others; an incident reported by author Francis Lieber an article entitled “The Character of a Gentleman.” And on Sept. 16, 1853, Bright wrote to his friend and financial backer W.W. Corcoran, apparently preparing for trouble.

"I am unwilling to trouble you about my domestic affairs," Bright wrote "for I have already been the reception of favors of your hands that must necessarily go unrequited through life; yet I will venture to enquire whether you know of a Duelling [pistol] that I can get and suitable for a humble disciple of the immortal 'Franklin Pierce.' I hope you may have one to suit me, but if not, pardon me for asking you to engage one for me. I must have one now."