Friday, December 16, 2016

Henry Fisher, Rensselaer Tile Farmer

Found in History of the Town of Remington and Vicinity, Jasper County, Indiana by James H. Royalty, 1894, p. 134

Early settlers of Rensselaer, Indiana.
Henry is in the middle row, second from right.

Henry James Fisher was born on February 24, 1821 in Marion County, Indiana.  His father, James Fisher, was a Pennsylvania native and his mother, Sarah Rue, was born in Kentucky.

Henry married Nancy Elizabeth McLaughlin, also a native of Marion County, on March 13, 1843.  The story is handed down in the family that they eloped to be married; Henry was 22 and Nancy was not yet 17.

After their marriage, the Fishers lived in Marion County, Indiana where Henry engaged in farming.  He supposedly owned the land in the Beech Grove area where Amtrak is now located.  Around 1850, Henry, Nancy, and their three young daughters lived next door to the Marion County Asylum (which was essentially a poorhouse for paupers and the feeble-minded).  Henry was the superintendent of the asylum.

Later, the Fishers lived in the village of Broad Ripple, and are shown in the 1860 census with six of their children: Lavina, Minerva, Joseph, Benjamin, James, and Rebecca (my great-great grandmother).  The two oldest children, Susan and Elizabeth Jane, had died before the census was taken.

Henry Fisher was a Civil War veteran, mustered in on August 30, 1862 and discharged on February 12, 1864 with a disability.  He served in the 63rd Infantry Regiment (History of Indianapolis and Marion County; Marion County in the War of the Rebellion, page 36.)

Henry Fisher, c. 1890
After Henry returned from the War, the Fisher family moved to northwest to Jasper County, Indiana in 1877.  There Henry continued farming and operated his own tile factory.  According to the common practice of that time, the tile was installed in the fields as a means to drain the farmland and make it more productive.

When we take into consideration that Remington and 
the surrounding country [Rensselaer] was classed as swamp lands by the United States general survey, we may well look upon 
it with great astonishment. It is now considered to be 
the finest farming country in northwestern Indiana. The 
lands have been all placed in a high state of cultivation; 
nearly all of it having fine farm residences and the greater 
portion of it being well drained both by open ditches 
and tile drainage, the tiling having been mostly done 
within the past few years, which fact alone has added at 
least twenty dollars in value to every acre so drained. The 
County is being rapidly populated with wealthy and ener- 
getic men. (History of the Town of Remington and Vicinity, Jasper County, Indiana by James H. Royalty, 1894, p. 155).

In 1895, both Henry's wife and son Benjamin died, and by the 1900 census he was living with his fourth child, Minerva, and her family in Jennings County, Indiana.  In September of 1904, with his health failing, he went back to Rensselaer to live with his son, James.

Henry and Nancy Fisher's headstone
Weston Cemetery in Rensselaer, Indiana
Photo taken 18 April 2016 by Brenna G.
Uncle Henry Fisher, as he has been long familiarly known, died on Monday morning, February 27, 1905, at the home of his son James Fisher on Front Street.  He had been confined to the house since before Christmas, with a valvular disease of the heart, complicated with Bright's disease of the kidneys.  He has all along been in possession of his faculties and able to sit up every day, as in fact he was obliged to to much of the time to get his breath.  He has lately been subject to sinking spells and it was one of these that carried him off.  His age was 84 years and 3 days.  

He was a resident of this country for many years on a farm northwest of town, and after owning a residence in town on Main Street.  Some five years ago he went to Jennings County to live with his children, but returned here last September to live with his son, at whose house he died.

He leaves one other son, Joseph, and three daughters: Mrs. Minerva C. Mills, Mrs. Mary E. Nichols (wife of George E. Nichols), and Mrs. Anna Worland - all living in the southern part of the state. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lot Green, M.D. and the 1902 Smallpox Outbreak

Dr. Lot Green (1847-1905)

Dr. James Wilkinson Green and Mary Jane Gowdy had thirteen children - five of them followed their father's profession.  Lot Green was their oldest child and the first of his brothers to become a doctor.  As a young man, Lot studied medicine under his father, a country physician in Shelbyville, and became well versed in anatomy and physics.

In 1872, Lot Green married Cordelia J. Barnard.  Six years later he entered the medical department of Butler University.  Lot graduated in 1880 and began his medical practice alongside his father before going on to open his own office.

Lot and Cordelia had five sons; Lucien Louis, Hallie Wilkinson, Frank Hayes, Charles Sumner, and Derby Blaine Green.  Lot took his oldest son Lucien with him on multiple house calls, perhaps to encourage him to become a doctor. These early experiences must have not made a good impression on Lucien, because he left Rushville for good and started a career as a loan officer in Indianapolis.  Of the five sons, only Frank Hayes Green continued the tradition of Green doctors, like his father and his grandfather had done.

During the summer of 1902, Lot Green issued a mandate for the residents of Rush County to be vaccinated after discovering a case of smallpox.  The news was publicized in the Indianapolis Journal as an effort to convince locals that the situation could turn serious.  However, the citizens of Greensburg in neighboring Decatur County disregarded the warning.  A special sanitary marshal was appointed to enforce the quarantine.

On February 21, 1905, Lot Green died at the age of 57.  There are differing accounts as to how Lot died; one article in the Indianapolis News states that he was "stricken with apoplexy while in his office." However, the Shelbyville Democrat said that Dr. Green was found in his sleigh, after he had an attack of apoplexy.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Perry Green, a Hoosier Pioneer of Pasadena

Let others stay here and freeze if they wish; I’m going to California.
- Helen Elliott, an original member of the Indiana Colony in 1873[1]

The vibrant city of Pasadena, California, home of the Rose Parade and Caltech, has deep Indiana roots reaching back to the early 1870’s. The brutal winter of 1872-1873 pounded the Midwest with conditions unequaled in recorded history, which left many Indiana residents wishing for a more temperate climate.[2] Moreover, some believed that warmer weather would be beneficial to their health. A group of hopeful families migrated 2,000 miles west to form the quiet farming community that would later become Pasadena. As one of the original Indiana colonists determined to build a new life, Perry M. Green played a vital role in the establishment, growth, and culture of Pasadena, California.

In the spring of 1873, Perry first heard glowing accounts of life in California from a letter that was being passed around a group of his Indianapolis friends.[3] Many of the Hoosiers, including Perry himself, resolved that they would head to California as soon as possible. He joined the company in the hope of improving the health of his ailing wife, Hettie.[4] The small band of investors, calling themselves the “Indiana Colony,” immediately laid out their plans for departure.

However, their endeavors got off to a rocky start when the economy collapsed during the Panic of 1873. Perry Green described the devastating effect the financial depression had on the Indiana Colony:
Alas for the uncertainty of human calculations! The financial crash of 1873 fell upon the country like a clap of thunder from a clear sky, and failure, disaster, and bankruptcy swept like a tidal wave over the land, and the bright hopes of the “California Colony of Indiana” went down into the frightful vortex.[5]
Although they had lost much of their financial backing, Perry Green and those faithful to the cause rallied to form the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association.[6] In essence, their perseverance transformed a dream into reality.


In 1875, the association finally purchased land; Perry Green’s investment secured him 60 acres in the San Gabriel Valley. [7] Before building one of the first homes in the colony, Perry assisted in laying underground irrigation pipes, surveying the land, and planting grape cuttings.[8]  Then, Perry met with other community leaders to discuss a name for the new town. Someone suggested “Pasadena,” a Chippewa word that meant “of the valley.”[9] This name seemed to reflect the character of the beautiful landscape better than all the other proposals.

Many of Pasadena’s original citizens were educated professionals – doctors, lawyers, and journalists – with little to no agricultural experience. One visitor to Pasadena even remarked: “What a highly educated lot of farmers you have out here! Do they all talk so learnedly?”[10] In 1877, the celebrated naturalist, John Muir, wrote a letter which further illustrates this point:
There is nothing more remarkable in the character of the colony than the literary and scientific taste displayed. The conversations of most I have met here is seasoned with a smack of mental ozone, attic salt, which struck me as being rare among the tillers of California soil. People of taste and money in search of a home would do well to prospect the resources of this aristocratic little colony.[11]
Yet Pasadena clearly needed more than scholarly attainment. Those who had even a rudimentary knowledge of agriculture were a huge asset to the community. Perry Green was an educated attorney, but as a boy, he had been employed as a farm hand in rural Indiana.[12] His early familiarity with farming now equipped him to guide his struggling neighbors. Eager to help his fellow farmers succeed, Perry and several others formed a society for the purpose of developing the necessary skills to cultivate fruits such as oranges, figs, and apricots.[13]

The novice farmers soon came to realize that adequate irrigation was the key to their success. As one California pioneer put it: “Water here means gold.”[14] This need resulted in the formation of the Land and Water Company of Pasadena in 1877. Perry Green was on the company’s first board of directors and was selected to fill the position of vice president, a role he continued for 25 years.[15]

Another issue in the early years of Pasadena was the anti-liquor ordinance. In the beginning, the majority of the colony, including Perry Green, was strongly in support of the Temperance Movement, forbidding even the cultivation of certain grapes that could be used in the production of wine.[16] Notably, during the first nine years of the settlement, there was not one single criminal prosecution.[17] However, with the arrival of new settlers who did not share the same sentiments, it became harder to keep the founding principles enforced. In 1888, Perry Green served as chairman of a mass meeting of 1,000 concerned Pasadena citizens. The deliberation resulted in a set of anti-liquor resolutions and an “enforcement committee,” of which Perry was a member.[18]

Perry Green was the driving force in organizing many major financial and business institutions, particularly Pasadena’s first bank. Although he had no previous experience with banking, Perry saw the need for a bank and was willing to contribute his time and money to make the venture succeed. The bank prospered, and by 1886 it received a charter to become the First National Bank of Pasadena.[19] In addition to being the president of the First National Bank, Perry was involved in at least a dozen other civic establishments as a board member, trustee, or treasurer.

In the space of ten years, Pasadena had already outgrown its status as a quaint agrarian community and was well on its way to becoming a bustling city. As a result, it became necessary to create a better form of internal transportation. Perry Green embraced these changes and invested more of his time and money in streetcars and railroads, becoming reasonably wealthy in the process. He became both director and treasurer for the first streetcar company of Pasadena, as well as joining the Los Angeles and Pasadena Railway Company’s board of directors.[20]

With Pasadena’s central transportation system flourishing, Perry turned his attention to a new enterprise that would benefit his city. He had an idea to construct a railway into the Sierra Madre Mountains (now known as the San Gabriel Mountains), allowing adventurous tourists to experience the beauty of the landscape.[21] More importantly for Pasadena, the proposed railway would become a source of revenue. Perry provided some initial funds for the project and commissioned Thaddeus Lowe, a well-known engineer, to oversee the monumental task of building a track up the side of the steep mountain.[22]


On Independence Day 1893, a multitude of spectators attended the unveiling of the Mount Lowe Incline Railway, paying the substantial fee of $5 for a ride to the top of the mountain.[23] The completed railway was an incredible feat of engineering. Perry Green, as vice president of the Pasadena and Mount Wilson Railway Company, gave the opening remarks for the occasion: “The railroad is . . . such a triumph of engineering and construction and skill, as to challenge our unbounded admiration.”[24] Eventually, hotels were built at the top of the mountain, making Pasadena one of the most popular vacation spots of that era. Although the Mount Lowe Incline Railway no longer exists, it ultimately changed the character of Pasadena from an ordinary town into a well-known resort destination.

As an educated man, Perry Green naturally involved himself with the academic sector of Pasadena. The California Institute of Technology (also known as Caltech), was founded in 1891 as Throop Polytechnic Institute, a vocational and preparatory college. Perry Green, part of the initial board of directors, was elected as the institute’s first treasurer.[25] Furthermore, he took a philanthropic interest in the school, as shown in the following remarks made by his Throop colleagues:
Mr. Green has given the best that was in him for the advancement of this school. He yearned to help the young, frequently paying the tuition of deserving students who were unable to meet that expense, and following their career through the school with watchful interest.[26]
Over time, the California Institute of Technology has emerged as one of the most prominent scientific and engineering schools in the country.

Without a doubt, the Rose Parade is [27] The first parades consisted of horse-drawn buggies ornately decorated with locally-grown roses and orange blossoms.  But by the early twentieth century, some merchants who had previously sponsored the parade no longer saw its potential; they decided to withdraw funding that was crucial to the parade’s operation.[28] As treasurer of the Rose Parade committee, Perry appealed to the community for help. A group of supportive citizens responded by donating the needed $13,000.[29] Perry’s timely intervention was pivotal in preserving the city’s unique celebration.  Pasadena’s most iconic tradition. Even so, it is not widely known that the New Year’s celebration was created to boost morale after a financial depression. By showcasing the best of what sunny Pasadena had to offer, Perry Green and other community leaders also hoped to renew interest in investors from the Midwest.

Perry M. Green’s steadfast guidance was truly essential to the formation, progress, and character of Pasadena. He overcame many obstacles to fulfill the vision that he had for his adopted homeland. Through hard work and careful investing, Perry amassed a great amount of wealth, which he generously poured back into his community. Even toward the end of his life, as his health declined, Perry continued to serve his city in countless ways. On the day of his funeral, all of Pasadena’s businesses closed their doors as a tribute to the city’s beloved founder.[30] The beautiful city of Pasadena, California stands as a legacy of Perry Green’s leadership, dedication, and ingenuity.





[1] James H. Madison, “Taking the Country Barefooted: The Indiana Colony in Southern California,” California History, Fall 1990, 237.
[2] Michael Snyder, “Flower Power,” Indianapolis Monthly, Dec 1998, accessed January 15, 2015, 86. https://books.google.com/books?id=Fh0DAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
[3] R. W. C. Farnsworth, A Southern California Paradise (Pasadena: Farnsworth, 1883), 35. https://books.google.com/books?id=6XcUAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
[4] James Miller Guinn, Historical and Biographical Record of Southern California, (Chicago, Chapman Publishing Company, 1902), 227. https://books.google.com/booksid=3BU1AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
[5] Farnsworth, 35.
[6] Guinn, 226.
[7] “Appreciating Pasadena, Garden of the Californian Dream,” Kim Weir, accessed January 19, 2015, http://www.uptheroad.org/appreciating-pasadena-garden-of-the-california-dream
[8] Ann Scheid Lund, Historic Pasadena: An Illustrated History (Pasadena, HPN Books, 1999), accessed January 15, 2015, 20-21. https://books.google.com/books?id=3HLb4SY0uyEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false
[9] Snyder, 92.                                                                                                                                       
[10] Lund, 25.
[11] Ibid, 25.
[12] Guinn, 227.
[13] Lund, 25.
[14] Madison, 240.
[15] Guinn, 227.
[16] Farnsworth, 39.
[17] Ibid, 46.
[18] Hiram Alvin Reid, A History of Pasadena, (Pasadena, Pasadena History Company, 1895), 256. https://books.google.com/books?id=uRU1AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
[19] J. W. Wood, Pasadena, California, Historical and Personal: A Complete History of the Organization of the Indiana Colony, (Wood, 1917), 246. https://books.google.com/booksid=YxQpAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
[20] Reid, 430, 434.
[21] Michael A. Patris, Mount Lowe Railway, (Arcadia Publishing, 2007), 8. https://books.google.com/books?id=IFEmrlwqgUIC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
[22] Ibid, 9.
[23] Ibid, 45.
[24] Reid, 448.
[25] Ibid, 191.
[26] “Honor His Memory – Citizens Pay Tribute To Late P. M. Green,”Los Angeles Herald, March 25, 1903, accessed January 19, 2015.  http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnca=d&d=LAH19030325.1.10&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN------#
[27] Snyder, 92.
[28] Lee E. Johnson and C. W. Taylor, Eminent Californians 1953, (Palo Alto, C. W. Taylor Publishing, 1953), 15.
[29] Ibid, 15.
[30] “Last Honors Paid – Funeral of Late P. M. Green,” Los Angeles Herald, March 27, 1903, accessed January 19, 2015. http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=LAH19030327.2.140

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

52 Ancestors 2015: #16 Long Live the Lathams!

Princeton Leader, Princeton, Kentucky, 18 July 1912
Elijah Stephen Latham, my 6th great grandfather, was born in North Carolina in 1756.  According the the above article, which appeared in at least three different newspapers, Elijah, as well as my 7th and 8th great grandfathers, Jeremiah and Phillip Latham, lived to be over one hundred years old!  Since I know very little about these three men, I was excited to find this information.

My fifth great grandfather, Stephen R. Latham, broke the trend of Latham longevity.  He died of typhoid at the age of 76.  Unfortunately, Stephen's son, James Harvey Latham, also died of typhoid fever.  He was only 39.  I wonder how long they might have lived if they had not been victims of the disease.

By the way, Rev. George Washington Latham, the subject of the newspaper article and a Civil War veteran, died a few years after the story was printed, at the age of 91.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

52 Ancestors 2015: #15 Mary Green, Early Pasadena Pianist

1889 Wm. Knabe & Co. piano advertisement
http://pianoartisans.com/piano-info/piano-history/knabe-piano-company/
What was to be a joyous birthday present from the late P. M. Green to his daughter now comes to her as a sweet but sad memorial to his love. Some months ago, the millionaire ... gave his order for a specially designed Art Grand Piano to be manufactured by the famous old house William Knabe and Co., Baltimore.  Such special work requires months of patient waiting before the finished product is ready for shipment and this order was no exception to the rule... The piano arrived only yesterday, and is now on display at the Pacific Music company's warerooms... Seldom, if ever, has any show window in this city been decorated by such a magnificent specimen of the piano maker's art.  (Los Angeles Herald, 9 Aug 1903) 

The recipient of that piano was Mary Green, my 1st cousin 4 times removed.  She was born in March 1863 in Shelby County, Indiana and was the only child of Perry M. Green and Henrietta "Hettie" Campbell.  Mary's mother had poor health, which influenced the family's decision to seek a better climate. When Mary was 10 years old, she and her parents, aunt, uncle, and cousins joined a migration of Indiana families to southern California. 

Mary was the founder of the Pasadena Symphony Club, which met for the first time at her parents' house on November 5, 1896.  The club's meetings included papers given on composers and musical forms, orchestral and piano rehearsals, and many public performances.  According to several newspaper accounts, Mary was a remarkable musician and a pianist of great technical ability.  (I wish there was a recording of her playing!)  Among the pieces she performed with the Pasadena Symphony Club were:

Dvorak's Symphony No. 5 in E minor "From the New World"
Saint-Sรคens' Dance Macabre "Dance of Death"
Raff's Symphony No. 5 in E Major "Lenore"
Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" 

After Mary's father died in March of 1903, her mother's health also began to decline.  Hettie, who for a while benefited from the climate change, eventually contracted severe bronchitis and passed away in 1908.  Two years later, on July 22, 1910, Mary Green died from heart failure at the age of 47.  She never married and has no descendants.  I wonder what happened to Mary's beautiful piano.  I like to hope that it is preserved in a museum somewhere.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Slaves of John Nelson Sr. of Fauquier County, Virginia

Schalene Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees has initiated a new genealogy project: The Slave Name Roll Project.  It provides a way for genealogists to trace their enslaved ancestors.  By digitizing and recording information about ancestors who owned slaves, others can piece together their ancestor's lost stories.

John Nelson Sr. was born around 1725 in Fauquier County, Virginia.  On December 7, 1745, he married Sarah Whitson at Overwharton Parish in Stafford County, Virginia.  John Nelson died at the age of 59 in Fauquier County.  A transcription of his will, dated August 9, 1784, follows.

1787 Map of Fauquier County, Virginia.  Elk Run is highlighted.
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kell/mom/groves/1787_fauquier_co_va_map_.jpg
Will of John Nelson 
Fauquier County, Virginia, dated August 9 1784 [Abstract of record].
John Nelson, Sen'r of Elk Run in Fauquier County, being aged and infirm but of a sound mind and disposing memory. 
Sons: Jesse and John Nelson--my tract of land on Dry Run in Shanado [Shenandoah] County to be equally divided between the said Jesse and John. 
Wife: Sarah -- have the use of the plantation and tract of land whereon I now live together with the slaves and stock of all kinds and household furniture thereon during her natural life, provided that as any of my children, namely Jesse, William, Margaret, Jemima, Lettice and Sarah Nelson (who are now single) do marry that each of them shall have four head of neats cattle, a feather bed and furniture and two ewes -- if my daus. Margaret, Jemima, Lettice or Sarah Nelson or any of my said four daughters should remain single till the death of their mother, . . . that the hire or labor of my two slaves, George and Daphne, shall be appropriated to the support and use of all or any my aforementioned four daughters while they remain single after the death of their mother. 
Son: William -- set of Smith's tools, a young sorrel mare, now in his possession -- (after the death of his mother) the plantation whereon I now live --Negro boy named Lymas. . . . at the death of my wife, the whole of my personal or moveable estate (excepting my two slaves George and Daphne)-- shall be equally divided between my children Jesse, John and William Nelson, Lidia Morehead, Nanny Fishback, Mary Rector, Margaret Nelson, Jemima Nelson, Lettice Nelson and Sarah Nelson or the survivor of them. 

Signed: John (his X mark) Nelson, Sen'r. 
Wit. Jno. Matthews, James Gillison, James Blackwell, Thos. Helm, Joseph
 George, John Thomas

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

52 Ancestors 2015: #14 Little Napoleon

James Cyrus Green, c. 1898
H. S. Stephens, Rushville, Indiana
This is my great-grandfather when he was about four years old.  I wonder how he felt about wearing this outfit.  The enormous bow tie and the tall button boots must have been very uncomfortable for him, but perhaps it made him feel special to be all dressed up.  The riding crop and bicorne hat seem unusual to me -- maybe they are props from the photographer.  I think they make him look like a little Napoleon Bonaparte.

James Cyrus Green (called Cyrus) was born on September 12, 1894 in Arlington, Indiana.  His parents were John D. Green, M.D. and Lavanche Emarine Trees.  He had two younger siblings, a sister named Mary Catherine and a brother named Maurice Thomas.  As a young man, Cyrus attended Sewanee Military Academy in Tennessee.  On June 12, 1916, Cyrus married Mary Ida Sefton in Greensburg, Indiana.  He died June 25, 1964 in Rushville, Indiana.