Biographical and Historical Record - Adams and Wells Co. Indiana Lewis Publishing Co. Chicago, IL 1887
ALTON LOVEJOY DEVILBISS, D.D.S., Decatur, is a native of Indiana, born near Spencerville, DeKalb County, a son of Alexander De Vilbiss, who was born in Frederick County, Maryland, August 8, 1816, and died in DeKaIb County, Indiana, January 19, 1861, aged forty-three years. In his early boyhood the father of our subject removed with his parents to Licking County, Ohio, where for a time he lived in Alexandria. After his father's death he was apprenticed to learn the tanner's trade, which not agreeing with him, he obtained his release and went to Tiffin, Ohio, and for time worked at cabinet-making, when he returned to Alexandria and worked on his mother's farm. January 27, 1839, he was married to Lydia M. Clogston, who was born in Charleston, Virginia, now the capital of West Virginia, November 4, 1821, and to them were born eight children, of whom Alton L. was the seventh child. In June, 1843, the father removed with his family to Michigan, and the same year came to Indiana, locating on a farm in the vicinity of Spencerville, where, in connection with farming, he was engaged in the manufacture of fanning-mills until his death. In his youth he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. In 1853 he joined the United Brethren church, and soon after was licensed to preach the gospel, of which he was an earnest defender. He was a devout Christian and was always charitable toward the unfortunate, and ever ready to help the poor and needy. He was strictly temperate in his habits. Mrs. De Vilbiss still survives her husband, and is now a resident of Fort Wayne. Alton L. De Vilbiss, the subject of this sketch, was born near Spencerville September 8, 1855. He began to do for himself at the age of thirteen years, working on farms during the summer months, and attending school in the winter until he was fifteen years old. He then began working at the carpenter's trade, which he followed till reaching the age of eighteen years, when he began the study of dentistry at Fort Wayne in the dental rooms of H. C. Sites, with whom he practiced and studied for over two years. May 11, 1877, he came to Dccatur, Adams County, where he has since been engaged in the practice of dentistry, and in his chosen profession has been very successful, and has gained the confidence of all who know him. He is a member of the Dental Association of Indiana. He was married near Monmouth, Adams County, September 9, 1879, to Miss Florence Lizzie Kunkel, who was born December 20, 1861, and reared in Adams County, and educated in the schools of Decatur. They are the parents of one child - Fannie, who was born at Decatur July 23, 1880. Mr. De Vilbiss was elected councilman from the First Ward in Decatur in 1886, which office he still holds. He is a worthy member of St. Mary's Lodge, No. 167, Decatur, and Decatur Encampment, No. 138, I.O.O.F. He was one of the originators and is a director in the Decatur Cemetary Association, and is also stockholder and director in the Eagle Manufacturing Company of Decatur. Mrs. DeVilbiss is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran church. Her parents, Samuel D. and Martha (Dorwin) Kunkel, were formerly from Ohio, coming thence to Adams County, Indiana, in an early day, when they located on a farm near Decatur.
Biographical and Historical Record - Adams and Wells Co. Indiana Lewis Publishing Co. Chicago, IL 1887
REZIN TODD, deceased, was one of the early settlers of Wabash Township, and was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, June 24, 1818. He was reared in Ohio, and received a good education. He followed teaching when young, and came to Adams County in 1837 with Isaac Wheeler, for whom he cleared land two years. He married Mary Bitler, who was born in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, February 22, 1824. Her parents, Samuel and Mary (White) Bitler, were natives of Pennsylvania, and of German ancestry. They removed to Ohio about 1833, settling near Lancaster, where the mother died. The father again married and went to Missouri, where he also died. Mr. Todd entered 160 acres of land in what is now Monroe Township, and followed school teaching in connection with farming. He remained on this place about seven years, then sold out and came to Buffalo, now Geneva, and engaged in the mercantile trade, being one of the first to open a store in the place. He was appointed postmaster of Buffalo, succeeding Jacob Conkle, who was the first postmaster. He held the office until 1870, when he gave up his business and went to farming, following that occupation until his death, which occurred February 17, 1875. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. and Mrs. Todd were the parents of eight children - Mary J., Sarah A. (deceased) Maria H., Hannah M. (deceased), Emma J. Martha F., John W. and George B. (deceased). After her husband's death, Mrs Todd married John F. McLellan, who was shoemaker by trade, and a native of Ohio. He served as treasurer and also as sheriff in Hamilton County, Indiana. He served three years in the late war as Captain, and after it closed engaged in the milling business in Hamilton County, Indiana. He lived but two years after their marriage. Mrs. McLellan again married, October 13, 1880, her third husband being Mr. Tharp, who was born in Cayuga County, New York, Februaly 11, 1811. He went with his parents to Ohio, who settled near Chillicothe, where he was married. He was engaged in building vessels at Cincinnati, and from there went to Kentucky, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar. He enlisted as a private in the Thirty-fourth Kentucky Infantry, and was afterward promoted to Regimental Quartermaster, holding this position until the close of the war, having served three years. He also had two sons who served in the war. Soon after his discharge he came to Huntington County, this State, and engaged in the practice of his profession. From there he removed to New Corydon, Jay County, where he resumed his practice. His first wife died there, leaving a family of six children. After her death he came to Geneva, where he resumed the practice of his profession, which he followed until his death, March 14, 1886. Mr. Tharp was a member of the Odd Fellows fraternity for many years. He was also a member of John P. Porter Post, No.83, G.A.R. Mrs. Tharp is still living at Geneva. She is one of the oldest, if not the oldest settler in this section. She well remembers the hardships endured by the early settler. Neighbors were miles apart, no roads, no mills, and no postoffice. Mr. Todd taught the first school in the township. Mr. Tharp was a minister in the Protestant Methodist church, and Mrs. Tharp is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Biographical and Historical Record - Adams and Wells Co. Indiana Lewis Publishing Co. Chicago, IL 1887
JOHN CHRISTEN, JR., farmer, Root Township, owns forty acres of land on the southeast quarter of section 16. He was born in Canton Berne, Switzerland, October 5, 1844, and when he was six years of age came to America with his parents and seven other children, landing in New York in July, 1850. They then came to Adams County and settled in Root Township, where the parents are still living. John was reared in Root Township, and educated in the common schools. He commenced teaching in the winter of 1871, and taught fourteen winter schools. In 1885 he was obliged to give up teaching, as his health was becoming impaired. His parents, John and Elizabeth Christen, were born in Switzerland, the father August 7, 1812. The mother is a few years younger. The father was a baker by trade, but has followed farming since coming to America. Our subject was married July 22, 1870, to Miss Catherine Magley, who was born in Root Township, Adams County, December 25, 1850. Her parents were Christian and Mary Magley, who were born in Switzerland and came to America, settling in Licking County, Ohio, thence to this county previous to 1850. The father died in August, 1861, aged thirty-nine years, and is buried in Root Township. Mr. and Mrs. Christen have six children - Edward S., born December 13, 1871; Arthur A., born October 12, 1873; Minnie C., born October 14, 1875; Henry W., born November 25, 1877; Wilburt C., born January 21 1884, and Raymond D., born September 19, 1885. Mr. and Mrs. Christen are members of the Lutheran church, and in politics Mr Christen is a Democrat. In the spring of 1886 he was elected assessor for four years. Mrs. Christen's grandfather, Jacob Sharer was born in Switzerland, and died in Licking County, Ohio. Her grandmother, Mary Sharer, was also born in Switzerland, and died in Root Township. At the time Mr. Sharer settled in Adams County, game was very plenty, he having shot more deer than any other man in that part of the county, and at one time killing two at one shot, and often shooting squirrels and other game from his cabin window. Her grandmother, Mrs. Magley, on her father's side, died in Yew York soon after they landed, and Mr. Magley, her grandfather, died in Licking, Ohio.
JACOB YAGER, was born in Huron County, Ohio, September 20, 1837. His parents, Jacob and Margaret (Wysup) Yager, came to Adams County in July, 1838. His grandfather, John Yager, came from Germany when seven years of age and settled in Pennsylvania. The grandmother Yager probably came from the old country. His ancestors on both sides were of the Protestant faith, and were generally farmers. About the year 1834 the grandfather came to this county and entered two sections of land, which he divided with his children, who were nine in number, six sons and three daughters - Francis, Henry, Peter, Samuel, Jacob, Sarah, Polly and Catherine. The parents were married in Ohio, and began their home life in the forest of Preble Township, Indiana. The land had no improvements whatever. Wolves, bears, etc., were uncomfortably plenty, and deer, and other wild game, had been almost entirely undisturbed. The tract of 100 acres which Jacob's father received cost about $125 at this time. The family went to work with a will; tree after tree was felled and acre after acre was cleared until this part of the wilderness became a productive farm, and the old log cabin, with its puncheon floor, after many years of faithful service was supplanted by modern buildings. When the parents came to this county there were very few settlers. There was no county seat, and papers and deeds were recorded at Fort Wayne. Mr. Yager's parents had five children - John, Jacob, George, Sarah and Polly Ann; Jacob, Sarah and George are living. After remaining on the homestead until he was twenty-five years of age, aiding in the improvement and cultivation of the farm, Jacob Yager and Mary Jane Archibald were united in marriage October 24, 1861. They began domestic life in Preble Township, settling upon a forty-acre tract which Jacob received from his father. The land was partially cleared, but had no buildings or other improvements. After three or four years forty acres more were added to the original tract, and a frame barn and a hewed-log house were built. They lived on this place eleven years, then removed to Decatur, where they resided two and a half years, then moved to St. Mary's Township upon a beautiful tract of land, comprising 197 acres, situated about three quarters of a mile from Pleasant Mills Village. It is one of the finest farms in the township, having 150 acres of improved land, and being well watered by two creeks, or branches, which renders it valuable as a stock farm as well as for agricultural purposes. Mrs. Yager was born August 16, 1840, daughter of Thomas and Phebe (Valentine) Archibald who were probably natives of Ohio and of Irish ancestry. In a very early day her paternal grandparents removed to the Territory of Indiana and entered 160 acres of land in Wells County, where they lived until their death. Her parents removed to the same county, probably in the year 1848 where the father purchased eighty acres of land. Her ancestors were all Protestants, and one of her uncles, John Nevett, was a minister. Her great-grandfather served in the war of 1812, and her mother's brother, William Valentine, served in the war with Mexico, during which he received an injury. Jacob Yager and his brother John were soldiers in the late war, John serving in Company C, Thirteenth Indiana Cavalry, and Jacob being a member of Company D, Fifty-first Indiana Infantry. Jacob was mustered into the service at Indianapolis in 1863, from which point his regiment was ordered to Nashville, thence to Pulaski, where the regiment was attacked by the rebel General Hood, about the first of December, 1864, and was forced to retreat, having only about half the force of the enemy. On this retreat many very bloody and hotly contested battles were fought - Spring Hill, Columbia, and others, until finally the historical stand was made at Nashville between Generals Thomas and Hood. Here every precantion was taken and every arrangement made for the desperate encounter soon to be made. The breast works of the rebels and the federals were in close proximity, and the men could converse with one another. Many little trades were made by the pickets on both sides. The crisis finally came on the 15th of December, 1864, and on the 16th the battle had its full force. Mr. Yager's regiment was engaged almost the entire day, during which time he was wounded in the ear. This produced paralysis of the jaw. After about six months the ball was extracted. On the evening of that dreadful day the regiment, which in the morning had answered to 900 names, could muster only about 300 names, the remainder having been sacrificed in battle. The dead were literally strewn over the ground and the scene of death was all that the imagination can picture. Mr. Yager was taken to the field hospital, thence to Nashville, thence to Jefferson Hospital, Indiana, and August 26, 1865, he received an honorable discharge for faithful and patriotic service. When he arrived home he continued the occupation of farming, which he has continued to the present time. He has been honored with various official positions, viz., constable, assessor of Preble Township six years, city marshal of Decatur, has also been guardian, and at present is commissioner of Adams County, serving his second term. His father died June 16, 1886, and his mother January 6, 1887, at the residence of her son Jacob, aged seventy-three years, eleven months and five days. She was a member of the Baptist church a great many years. Mr. and Mrs. Yager have had five children - Ida May, born September 8, 1876, died March 1, 1880; Charles William, born August 5, 1866; Margaret Jane, born January 16, 1863; Lydia Adaline, born November 26, 1868; Phebe Viola, born October 20, 1872.
THEODORE DEFFENBAUGH, deceased, was an early settler of Adams County, born in Cumberland County, Maryland, September20, 1826. His parents, John and Eleanor (Martin) Deffenbaugh, were also natives of Maryland, and emigrated to Ohio; thence to Adams County about the year 1838, settling in Hartford Township, where they lived until their death, the father dying in 1850, and the mother five years later. They had five children, and were members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Theodore was the eldest child. He remained at home until he reached his majority and received a good education. He was married July 29, 1852, and for some time engaged in school teaching. Mrs. Deffenbaugh was formerly Keziah Clendennin, born in Fairfield County, Ohio, August 8, 1835. Her parents, James and Mehitable (Fox) Clendennin, were natives of Pennsylvania. They removed to Fairfield, Ohio; thence to this county, settling in Hartford Township, where the father died in March, 1867. The mother is still living. They were the parents of nine children. Mr. and Mrs. Deffenbaugh had six children, and were members of the Baptiat church. Mr. Deffenbaugh was a soldier in the late war, being a member of Company H, Fiftieth Indiana Infantry, and participated in several battles, Nashville being the last. He died of small.pox January 25, 1865. Mrs. Deffenbaugh was again married to Jesse Carey November 6, 1880, and resides in the village of Geneva.
ANDREW GOTTSCHALK, treasurer of Adams County, is a native of Indiana, born in Nottingham Township, Wells County, November 13, 1850. He was reared to the avocation of a farmer, and was educated in the district and private schools of his native county, remaining on his father's farm till reaching the age of twenty years. He then engaged in teaching school in Nottingham Township, which he continued till 1872, a period of two years. In May, 1872, he came to Adams County, Indiana, and engaged in the drug business at Linn Grove. In November of the same year he removed to Berne, Adams County, where he has since been associated with Peter Hoffman in the drug business under the firm name of Hoffman & Gottschalk. During this time, from 1877 till 1883, he was postmaster at Berne, and from 1880 till 1882 he held the office of justice of the peace, serving with honor to himself and satisfaction to his constituents. May 9, 1875, he was married at Botkins, Shelby County, Ohio, to Miss Laura Sheets, a daughter of Philip and Cornelia (Monger) Sheets, who were natives of Germany. Four children have been born to this union, three of whom are living - Cora B., Thurman and Wilda M. Oliver E., their second child, died at Berne May 15, 1883, aged over four years. Mr. Gottschalk was elected treasurer of Adams County in the fall of 1884 on the Democratic ticket, and in September, 1885, came to Decatur to assume the duties of that office, being re-elected to the same office in the fall of 1886, in which he is serving to the best interests of his county. He was a member of the Adams County Democratic Central Committee two years, from 1882 until 1884, and in 1884 was a delegate to the Democratic State Convention held at Indianapolis. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gottachalk are members of the Evangelical Association, of which he has been superintendent of the Sabbath school for the past five years. The parents of our subject, Jacob and Christina (Fox) Gottschalk, were natives of Wittenberg, Germany, where they were reared and married. They immigrated to America in 1845, first locating in Montgomery County, Ohio, removing shortly after to Wells County, Indiana, where the father followed farming till his death,which occurred January 26, 1867. The mother also died on the homestead in Nottingham Township, Wells County, in 1855. Both were consistent members of the Evangelical Association. They were the parents of nine children, eight of whom still survive, residing in various parts of the State of Indiana.
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CORNELIUS TRENTON DORWIN, photographer, of Decatur, is a native of Adams County, Indiana, born at Monmouth, March 27, 1848. His father, Calvin S. Dorwin, was a native of Vermont, a son of Ziba and Anna (Stackhouse) Dorwin, and of English descent. Cornelius Dorwin was eight years old when his father died. His mother subsequently married James Spencer, and removed to Decatur. Our subject was reared at Decatur, receiving his education in the schools of that city. When fourteen years old he began to learn harness-making with I. J. Miesse, which he followed until seventeen years of age. He then went to Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he commenced to learn photography with A. F. Wise, remaining with him until he reached the age of nineteen years. In February, 1867, he enlisted in the United States Regular Army, and was assigned to Company F, Twenty-first United States Infantry, and was stationed at Fortress Monroe, at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, a part of the duty of his company being to guard Jeff. Davis, who was at that time a prisoner at that place. In 1869 his regiment was ordered to the Pacific coast, and was transported by the Union and Central Pacific Railway Companies on the second train from east to west on that route. He was present at the laying of the last rail on that road, and saw the golden spike driven in by a silver hammer. His regiment was stationed at Fort Goodwin, Arizona Territory, until 1870, to look after the Apache Indians, when his term of service expiring, he was discharged February 4 of that year. He then returned to Decatur, Adams County, and soon after went to Montgomery County, Indiana, and opened a photograph gallery at Waveland, which he carried on until 1872. In that year he went to Edgar County, Illinois, locating at Kansas, where he remained until the fall of 1874, when he returned to Decatur, Adams County, and has since been engaged in the photograph business. In 1886 he began quarrying stone, burning lime and dealing generally in that business, and at the same time continuing his photograph business. January 18, 1876, Mr. Dorwin was married at Decatur to Miss Maggie J. McGonagle, a daughter of Joseph and Elizaabeth (Crawford) McGonagle, of Ohio. They are the parents of three children - Otis Joseph, Kate Elizabeth and Eva. Both Mr. and Mrs. Dorwin are members of the Presbyterian church at Decatur. He is a member of Kekionga Lodge, No. 65, K. of P., in which he has passed all the chairs, and is a member of the Grand Lodge of the State of Indiana.
LABEN HEDINGTON, deceased, who was one of the old and honored pioneer of Adams County, was born in Knox County, Ohio, January 6, 1822. His parents died when he was a child, and from an early age he was thrown on his own resources and worked at whatever he could find to do. He was married in Van Wert County, Ohio, in 1840, to Sarah Daniels, who was born in Knox County in 1821, a daughter of Robert and Susannah (Osenbeaugh) Daniels, natives of Pennsylvania, and of German descent. The parents of Mrs. Hedington were married in Knox County, and to them were born eleven children. They came to Adams County in the spring of 1839, and after living a short time in Monroe Township, went to Michigan, where the mother died about 1860, a member of the Lutheran church. She was born in the State of Ohio, October 16, 1802. After his wife's death Mr. Daniels returned to Indiana and lived with his children. He died in White County in April, 1871. To Mr. and Mrs. Hedington were born thirteen children, of whom eight still survive - Samuel, Lhamon, Maria, Isabell, Julia Ann, Minerva, George B. and Arminda. Henry M., their second son, enlisted in the war of the Rebellion when eighteen years of age, and served three years. He was wounded twice. After his return home he was married, and had a family of three children, two of whom survive him. Mr. Hedington came to Adams County, Indiana, where he lived two years, and then settled in Van Wert County, seven miles from Monroe Township, as early as 1841, in which year he settled in Monroe Township. In 1848 he settled on section 24 of Monroe Township, where he spent the remainder of his life. His first purchase was forty acres, on which a log cabin had been built. He afterward built a hewed log house, in which his family lived until 1860, when he erected a comfortable frame residence, in which his wife and three children still reside. He followed stock-raising in connection with his general farming, and in all was very successful, and was enabled to add to his original purchase until he owned 500 acres besides what he had given to his children. In politics he was a staunch Democrat, casting his first Presidential vote for James K. Polk. He was a kind and loving husband and father, and was much respected throughout the neighborhood where he had lived for so many years, and his death caused universal regret to his friends and sorrow to his family.