Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fighting in Grey: Jefferson County's Confederates

Many Jefferson County residents recognize the name of author Edward Eggleston. They may not know he spent 13 months on a family plantation in Virginia around 1854 and developed his opposition to slavery.

Even fewer know that his three brothers, George Cary Eggleston, Joseph W. Eggleston, and Miles Eggleston, born in Vevay, became Confederate soldiers with George writing a famed account called “A Rebel’s Recollection."

George Cary was a Jefferson County resident, before he returned to Virginia to inherit the family plantation, and it was his experiences as a teacher at the Rykers’ Ridge School that formed much of the basis of Edward's novel, "The Hoosier Schoolmaster."

It is surprising there weren't more Hoosier Rebels—the area had a large population that came from the South. Before the Civil War, the South was filled with visions of the lower Midwest seceding. And in 1863, the belief that thousands of Hoosiers would fight for the Confederacy led John Hunt Morgan to cross the Ohio River.

In fact, Morgan's raid was something of a community battle—many in the Fourth Kentucky Infantry lived just across the river. Carroll and Trimble County residents who would fight in major battles that also involved Jefferson County soldiers. Confederate recruiters visited Milton and Carrollton.

There were many divided families. James W. Quinn of Milton Township fought for the Union while his sister Mary wed Willis Little, who lived in Carroll County, and joined the Southern army.

There were a number of "sort of" Jefferson County Confederates.

A Prussian, Peter Charles Kyle, who came to Madison about 1844 and was educated there, helped form a Rebel unit Louisiana in 1861. Another member of the Fourth Kentucky, Minor Horton, left Milton Township in 1853, moved to Kentucky by 1860 and joined the Southern side.

One man, however, stands out as a Confederate who was born in Madison and lived there when he enlisted in Co. H of the Fourth Kentucky Infantry in 1862.

John Woodburn Shrewsbury took his name from his mother's father, John Woodburn, who helped found the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad. The son of Capt. Charles Shrewsbury whose home bears the family name, Wood, as he was called, was dedicated, but sickly, and served in several battles, although consumption (tuberculosis) often sidelined him. A Confederate account said Wood often served hospital duty because of his health.

The Shrewsburys were also a divided family because Charles participated in a rally in Madison in 1862 that declared secession illegal.

There may have been more Rebels, but bragging about Confederate service was not safe in Jefferson County. It is also harder to prove these men existed. Union records often recorded the residences of enlistees; Confederate records rarely did.

In any event, Wood Shrewsbury survived the war, but not by much. A note in a Madison newspaper of Aug. 27, 1866 noted that John W. Shrewsbury, eldest son of Charles and Ellen, had died at his home.

Friday, February 22, 2008

John Brough: More than Folly

John Brough was a very busy man. It’s not just that he was running the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad, and preparing to make his name a symbol of failure with the construction of Brough’s Folly, the attempt to run the railroad through what is now Clifty Falls Park.

No, Brough (pronounced Brough) was very busy because he was running more than one railroad company while he lived in Madison and headed the M&I.

In 1851, Brough attempted to get a charter for the Atlantic & Mississippi Railroad, which was to run from Terra Haute to Saint Louis via Vandalia. That was denied after $500,000 was subscribed; another charter application was denied in 1853. In fact, the account, published in 1884 in the book, "Counties of Cumberland, Jasper and Richland Illinois" says he tried and tried, but was always denied. One of these efforts was apparently the Terra Haute and Saint Louis Railroad, whose board elected him as president, sometime before an account was published, also in 1851. An Illinois history said he tried to pursue the line, despite the lack of sanction of law. Illinois kept him from building any line.

That determination, and his physical appearance, were well known. After the train engine, the John Brough, arrived in Madison on May 10, 1850, the next day’s Madison Courier commented, We are told this engine is called the John Brough on account of its great weight and for the great amount of business it is capable of doing.”

The weight made itself known in his life as a politician, in the following verse.

“If all flesh is grass, as people say

Johnnie Brough is a load of hay.”

And there was a joke, when he challenged Madison’s Michael Bright to a dual that Bright would have been at a disadvantage because the bullet would have trouble penetrating Brough.

His energy did not come from clean living. One nineteenth century account said he chewed enormous amounts of tobacco, was never very clean in his personal appearance, and “Did not believe in prohibitory laws and could not be labeled as an exemplar of any particular purity.”

His joint railroad jobs contrasted with the fact that the M&I board hired a superintendent under his predecessor, Samuel Merrill, holding that the two positions were too much for one man. Apparently, Brough was in a different category.

Brough left Madison in 1853 to take over the Bellefontaine & Indianapolis Railroad (which he may have had his hand in before leaving), and was still at work in his other Iron Horse ventures.

Whatever his capability in railroads, give him credit as a politician. As a vigorous pro-Union War governor of Ohio, he ensured that state stayed strong in the fight.

Brough came close to leaving his name on another map. The town of Effingham, Ill., was originally paired with one named Broughton, but that name was abandoned and the towns merged as Effingham since Brough wasn’t terribly popular.

Well, it could have been worse in Indiana. Madison could have been named Broughton

Monday, February 18, 2008

Madison's Richest Man

Ask anyone familiar with Madison in the 1800s to name the city’s richest man and the answer would probably be James F.D. Lanier.

The Lanier Home symbolizes his wealth and he was possibly the wealthiest person to have lived in Madison and Jefferson County during the Nineteenth Century. But he was probably never the richest person while he lived in the city.

The 1850 census was the first tally reporting financial information about individuals, giving the value of real estate holdings. The census showed Lanier’s real estate had a value of $90,000, but this did not include stock holdings.

Still, the wealthiest Madison residents in 1860 were probably two land-rich widows, Anna Paul Hendricks, daughter of Madison’s found John Paul and widow of the late Sen. William Hendricks, and Eliza McIntyre, widow of Madison developer John McIntyre (or McIntire), which reflects the wealth that their husbands had during their lifetimes.

The Madison Courier of Sept. 9, 1851 listed John McIntire’s heirs at the top with $236,100 in property, followed by Hendricks’ heirs with $136,760. Ranking No. 3 was Michael Bright, followed in order by John Woodburn, Jesse Whitehead and Lanier. However, this didn’t include stock holdings. Lanier would have needed a lot of stock to come out at number No. 1.

Michael Bright, older brother of the well-known Senator Jesse Bright, grew significantly richer, with $90,000 in real estate and $50,000 in personal property in 1860, with diverse holdings. There were shown around 1850 by his appeal of city taxes. A Madison City Council record showed the council agreed that he owned $2,250 of Madison & Indianapolis Railroad stock, not the $4,750 he was originally taxed. This apparently stemmed from Bright’s briefly leaving Madison, and not being a resident. But the council held he was properly taxed on $30,450 in state stocks as he had re-established residency in December 1850.

Whitehead is rarely mentioned in local histories, but he lived in Madison about as long as Lanier. One account said he originated the state’s banking system and it’s possible he and Lanier should share credit. He also reportedly pioneered Madison’s river boat industry. His wealth grew sharply from 1850, when the census showed he had $17,000 in real estate. The 1850 Madison tax assessor’s list showed Whitehead were $20,017 of railroad stock, $19,320 in Madison bank stock and $15,000 in Indianapolis bank stock.

By 1860, Whitehead was clearly No. 1 with $355,000 in real estate and $14,275 in personal property. No one else was close. Michael Bright had $90,000 in real estate and $50,000 in personal property, according to the 1860
Madison census.

Lanier, who was already a part-time resident in 1850, had $250,000 in real estate and $250,000 in personal property, according the 1870 census for New York County (Manhattan.) Whitehead, living in Chicago, had retired and his holdings had fallen to $150,000 in real estate and $4,000 in personal property.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

First Visitors: Pushing Back County History

Who was the first European to visit Jefferson County and when? The answer usually given is George Logan in 1801. But exploration started the middle of the eighteenth century and perhaps earlier.

A crudely drawn map, referred to as the Trader’s Map, usually dated to 1753, shows a stream entering the Ohio at the right place for the Indian-Kentuck Creek. The creek that enters the Ohio River at Brooksburg. In 1778, Thomas Hutchens produced a more carefully drawn map which shows lines of latitude and longitude and shows what is almost certainly the Indian-Kentuck, although no streams were named. Given the map’s accuracy, someone must have gone up the creek to chart it.

The Indian-Kentuck became the first geological feature in Jefferson County to get an English name, when it appeared on John Filson’s first map of Kentucky, Drawn in 1784, and published in 1793, the stream was the only one on the Ohio river’s north shore between Cincinnati and Louisville to have a name.

The name was also used in an ordinance adopted by Congress on May 3, 1786, which establishing the creek as the western boundary of land to be surveyed. As Indian-Kentucky, it appeared again when a retired French General Victor Collot floated down the Ohio on a spying mission, and passed the area sometime after March 21, 1796, when his voyage began in Pittsburgh. Collot referred to three creeks between the Indian-Kentuck, which were not Hutchens’ map, implying that the Indian-Kentuck Creek was.

The name’s origin was explained by two visitors to the area, Fortescue Cummings, who toured the Midwest from 1807 to 1809, and David Thomas, who visited Madison 1816. Pioneers gave names to streams on the northern side of the Ohio by adding the words Indian in front of names of streams on the south side. So Wheeling Creek, Short Creek, and the Kentucky River, which flowed north, had counterparts called Indian Wheeling Creek, Indian Short Creek, and Indian-Kentuck Creek, which flowed south.

Europeans continued to visit the area with Kentucky settlers and Indians exchanging raids that brought them on the Indian side, opposite the mouth of the Kentucky River. One account identifies a settler named McMullen who was captured on the Indiana side on Feb. 13, 1790.

We can put another name to visitors the next year when General Charles Scott led 752 mounted men north to find Indians. Scott crossed the Ohio on May 23 and 24, 1791 at a place that was described as opposite the mouth of Battle Creek, five miles below the mouth of the Kentucky River. While the name is no longer used, a 1795 map shows that Battle Creek was the earlier name for Locust Creek in Trimble County.

Two years later, teenagers John and Peter Smock were captured by Indians in Shelby County, Ky., about 1793. The settlers pursued the Indians, who camped for three days on the site where the Jefferson County courthouse now stands, according to an 1874 account by their nephew John Smock.

A few years later, Indians complained to Gov. William H. Harrison that Europeans crossed the Ohio in search of game from the mouth of the Kentucky to the Mississippi and were depleting the Indians’ food. In a letter written in July 1801, he noted these expeditions occurred every fall.

So by the time George Logan carved his named into a tree near Hanover in 1801, a lot of European feet had set foot in Jefferson County.

Aid and Comfort to the Enemy

Sometime during the first half of 1861, the steamboat, the “Masonic Gem,” began sailing a regular route between Madison and Louisville under a permit issued by the military authorities, who were regulating Ohio River traffic.

But the permit was fraudulent, while the ship was “heavily laden with provisions destined for the Confederacy,” according to the Cincinnati Daily Gazette of June 17, 1861. It was a brief episode, since its operations were made public. But illegal traffic from Madison was a problem throughout the War.

Part of this could have been war profiteering, in which participants take only the side of the most money.

For example, soldiers blew the whistle on one scam. According to a soldier from Vevay, in an account printed in the Vevay Reveille of Aug. 29, 1861, five cavalry companies left Madison on five boats on August 26. There were supposed to be six, but the writer claimed that and Col. Wharton and Bob Lodge of Madison tried to cut corners.

The soldier’s letter alleged the two, responsible for feeding and transportation, wanted to cram the men into four vessels, rush them to Pittsburgh without supplies or cooking facilities, charge the government for six watercraft, and pocket the profits. However, junior officers blew the whistle and supplies and five boats were provided.

While there’s no need to recount in detail here that Madison-resident, Senator Jesse Bright, owned slaves in Kentucky, the city had its share of Southern sympathies, if not actual sympathizers. The well-known writer William Woollen termed Madison a “quasi-southern city,” which is emphasized by the plantation mansion appearance of J.F.D. Lanier’s home (even though he was a stout Unionist.)

The commercial connection was strong. According to a 1903 account detailing the history of Methodist Churches in Madison, “Residents choose sides, in many cases, according to their financial interests. Flour, pork, lard, and hay had found ready sale down South and very naturally pecuniary interests were paramount to patriotism, and most of the citizens connected with the flat-boat or steamboat interests were Southern sympathizers.”

How many actually aided the South is not known. But the Louisville Democrat, as quoted in the Reveille of June 30, 1861, outlined a plan under which hundreds of barrels of bacon and pork were to be diverted to the south. These barrels were shipped under the name of Madison’s Powell, McEwen & Co., whose name was replaced with that of Guthrie, White & Co.

About the same time, Capt. David, a well-known Madison steamboat man, refused to unload a delivery of pork in Louisville and took it back to Madison after he could not get guarantees that the barrels would stay in Louisville.
Goods weren’t just going downriver. Various newspaper articles reported a brisk trade from Southern Indiana to the south via the Kentucky River.

The Sept. 12, 1861 issue of the Vevay Reveille noted the Madison Courier had reported “It is also alleged that illegitimate shipments from Madison are daily being made.” The Madison Courier of Aug. 29, 1861 noted the North had stationed 200 to 300 soldiers Cedar Lock on the Kentucky River to make sure no boats passed without being searched.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Corruption and the Hoosier Schoolmaster

There have been many attempts to identify characters in the “Hoosier Schoolmaster,” the novel by Edward Eggleston, as specific people in Jefferson and Switzerland Counties.

But no one has claimed someone they knew was Dr. Henry Small, who led the band of thieves and who framed Ralph for theft, or Pete Jones, the corrupt county commissioner who was siphoning off money that was supposed to be spent on care for those in the poor house, like Shocky and Hannah’s mom, Mrs. Thomson. Yet, these less than savory characters provide the dramatic conflict for the work.

George Cary Eggleston, Edward’s brother, taught at the Rykers’ Ridge School before the Civil War and it was his experiences that formed the basis of many episodes in the novel. George Cary wrote about this in his book “Recollections of a Varied Life” in which he quoted his brother.

“I have a mind, Geordie,” he [ Edward] said, “to write a number three story, called ‘Hoosier Schoolmaster,’ and to found it on your experiences at Ryker’s Ridge.”

However, George Cary, known for his book about his experiences as a Confederate soldier, said that Edward was too good a writer to base the characters on specific individuals. He continued that Edward “made one or two personages among my pupils the models from which he drew certain of his characters but beyond that the experiences which suggested the story in no way went into the construction. George Cary got the Ryker’s Ridge job at the age of 16, which places the period at roughly 1855.

It seems clear Edward did use some specific people as the base. George’s Cary’s pupil Charley Grebe, who bears a surname from the area, had thrashed “the master,” as was the threat in the book. Descendants of a branch of the Buchanan family that moved to Illinois cited the Jeams Buchanan of the novel as part of their clan. And Bud Means, whose real name turns out as Israel Means, at the end of the story, was the name of a resident of Craig Township in Switzerland County who was born about 1830, about the right age for the Bud of the book. And he mentions other area families such as the Banta, while the Rev. Mr. Bosaw also bore a Switzerland County surname.

Eggleston frames the villains with a geography that is semi-real, especially when the Ralph Hartsook, the book’s hero, was visiting Pete Jones’ house.

Ralph "remembered that the region lying on Flat Creek and Clifty Creek had the reputation of being infest with thieves, who practiced horse-stealing and house-breaking."

The political corruption was also described in some detail.

Eggleston said the poor house as being in bad repair "for though the commissioners allowed a claim for repairs at every meeting, the repairs were never made, and it would not do to scrutinize Mr. Jones's bills too closely, unless you gave up all hope of re-nomination to office. …" Bill Jones, the poor house superintendent, had threatened to bind out Shocky (for money) because Mrs. Thomson spoke out against him, and Pete Jones, a county commissioner.

The fact that the Joneses were also in cahoots with Dr. Small, suggests Eggleston patterned these events on the way county business was performed. No, Small and Jones probably weren’t based on specific people. But it is clear, this too, was part of the Jefferson County experience.