DRAYTON M. AYERS, an old settler of Adams County, was born in Madison County, New York, December 28, 1815, son of John W. and Catherine Ayers, the former a native of Connecticut and the latter of Massachusetts. Mr. Ayers' father was a surgeon in the war of 1812. His parents emigrated to Warren County, Pennsylvania, where they lived several years, then removed to Belmont County, Ohio, where his father practiced medicine about twenty years, after which he removed to Medina County, Ohio, and there died. Mr. Ayers' parents had six children, of whom two are living - Mary J. and Drayton M. He received a common-school education, and his early life was spent in various occupations. He was married in Richland County, Ohio, February 9, 1843, to Elizabeth Z. Crabs, born March 30, 1823, in that county. They had ten children, of whom six survive - Nathan, Perry, Walter, Ida, wife of Samuel Teeple, Albert and Melvin. In 1853 our subject, with his family, immigrated to Adams County, Indiana, settling in Washington Township, where they have seen much of pioneer life. His wife died January 2, 1878. She was a kind and loving wife and mother, and is greatly missed by the surviving members of her family. Mr. Ayers is a member of the Baptist church, and for several years has officiated as deacon. In politics he is a Prohibitionist. He owns 200 acres of excellent land, and has been a sueccessful farmer. All he has he has earned by honest industry and good management. In his younger years he worked at the cabinet maker's trade for some years.
NORVAL BLACKBURN, publisher of the Democrat, is a son of Thomas K. and Anna Blackburn, natives of Pennsylvania. They were married there, removed to Holmes County, Ohio, in 1833, to Stark County, same State, in 1849, and in 1850 to Indiana, settling in Adams County. They resided here, engaged in farming, until 1865, since when they have lived on a farm in Newton County, this State. They reared a large family; Norval was the fifth child, and is the third of those now living. He was born January 16, 1843, and lived with his parents on the farm until twenty years old, receiving a common-school education. In September, 1863, he enlisted as a private Company C, Eleventh Cavalry, One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Regiment Indiana Volunteers, and he was afterward promoted successively to Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant and Captain. He was mustered out Septeinber 19, 1865. During the next nine years he was successively engaged in several pursuits in Adams County. In December, 1874, he was appointed deputy sheriff, which office he filled for four years. In 1878 he was elected clerk of the court, which office he entered November 1, 1879, and vacated November 1, 1883. A few weeks after the latter date he bought a half interest in the Democrat, and in February following he became sole proprietor. May 14, 1885, he was appointed postmaster of Decatur, and between the postoffice and the conduct of the official newspaper of Adams County, Mr. Blackburn is a very busy man. His long service as a public official has made him universally known in the county, and he is always spoken of as a liberal, popular citizen. He is a member of the Masonic order and of the Grand Army of the Republic. Mr. Blackburn was united in marriage August 21, 1869, with Sarah J. Stoops, daughter of James Stoops, of Decatur. They have been given four children; of these, two, Nellie and Hattie, are living.
P.W. PRUDEN, a prosperous agriculturist of Adams County, engaged in farming and stock-raising on section 29, Blue Creek Township, was born in Shelby County, Ohio, October 29, 1834, a son of Peter and Christiana (Amos) Pruden, the other a native of New Jersey and the mother of Kentucky, and of English and German descent. He was reared to the avocation of farmer, which he has made his life-work. was married near Piqua, Miami County, Ohio, February 12, 1861, to Miss Minerva S. Frost, who was born in that county in 1840, and was a daughter of Ebenezer and Nancy (McReynolds) Frost. Of the eight children born to this union seven are living - William C., married Fanny A. Kitchen, of Piqua, Ohio; Frost, Nannie A., George H.. James, Clara A. and Alfred. Mr. Pruden enlisted in the war of the Rebellion in 1862 and was assigned to Company F, Eighty-third Illinois Infantry. He participated in the two battles of Donnelson, and was mustered out at Nashville, Tennessee. He then went to Chicago, Illinois, and from there returned to his home in Ohio. In 1872 he came with his family to Adams County, Indiana, and settled where he has since resided in Blue Creek Township. He purchased 200 acres of uncultivated land here, which he has converted into a fine farm, and is classed among the well-to-do farmers of his township. He had but $300 when he left the army, and from this smallbeginning he has acquired his present fine property, the result of persevering energy and good management.
ADONIRAM JUDSON HILL was born in Herkimer, Herkimer County, New York, Octoher 9, 1832. His education was obtained in the common and select schools and completed by an academic course at Little Falls, New York. In the Winter of 1848-'49 he emigrated with his father and family to Virginia, settling in the Shenandoah Valley, near Front Royal, where he remained until he attained his majority. In the fall of 1852 he came to Indiana and settled in Adams County, which has since been his home. In the spring of 1859 he purchased a half interest in the Decatur Eagle, and a little later the entire interest in the paper, which he conducted until the fall of 1862, when he enlisted in the Eighty-ninth Indiana Volunteers and was elected Captain of Company H. He took with him the entire force of the office, including "the devil" for a drummer boy. He continued in command of the company until the fall of 1864, when his health failed; and he returned home in January, 1865. A draft was pending in the county at the time, which was soon wiped out by the enlistment of some sixty volunteers by his personal exertion, which filled all demands made by the President for troops during the war. After this he resumed his old position on the Eagle, the office having been rented during his absence in the army. At the solicitation of John McConnell, then clerk of the Adams Circuit Court, he was made his deputy in the spring of 1865, and at the October election, 1857, was elected Mr. McConnell's successor. Four years after he was re-elected, thus serving two terms. His first presidential vote was cast for James Buchanan, and he has always been active in the interests of the Democratic party, having been chairman of its central committee for some ten years. In the fall of 1874 he disposed of his interest in the Eagle to Joseph McGonagle and opened a notion store. In August, 1881, he re-purchased the Eagle (meanwhile changed to the Democrat) of S. Ray Williams, and conducted it two years, when it was sold to Roth & Cummings. Since that time ill health, the result of exposure in the army, has kept him from any active business pursuits.
GEORGE PONTIUS, one of the prosperous farmers of Hartford Township, residing on section 26, was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, February 23, 1827, a son of John and Julia A. (Critz) Pontius, who were natives of the same county as our subject, their parents being of Pennsylvania origin. They immigrated to Adams County, Indiana, in 1854, settling in Hartford Township, on section 25, where they lived till their death, the mother dying March 1, and the father March 31, 1859, aged respectively fifty-four and fifty-three years. They were of German descent. Both were consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church. The father was a staunch Democrat in politics, and during his life held many beat oflices of trust and responsibility. His father, George Pontius, was a soldier in the war of 1812. He died in Pickaway County, Ohio. George Pontius, the subject of this sketch, was reared to manhood on the home farm, and in his youth attended the common schools of his neighborhood, where he received but a limited education, but later in life received a good practical edncation, which has well fitted him for the duties of life. He remained at home till his marriage, May 13, 1850, to Miss Emily Shoemaker, who was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, January 12, 1832, a daughter of Daniel Shoemaker, a native of Pennsylvania, and an early settler of Fairfield County. Mr. Shoemaker came with his family to Indiana about 1855, first settling in Hartford Township, Adams Counky, and two years later removed to Newville, now Vera Cruz, in Wells County, where he bought a farm and saw and grist-mill, operating the mill, in connection with his farming pursuits, until his death in 1857. He was twice married, his first wife being Sophia Marks, a native of Pickaway County, Ohio, by whom he had four sons and two daughters. She died in February, 1832. She was a member of the German Lutheran church. For his second wife Mr. Shoemaker married Elizabeth Baker, and to this union were born five sons and two daughters. She died September 28, 1885, at the advanced age of eighty-tbree years. She was a member of the German Reformed church. To Mr. and Mrs. Pontius have been born ten children Mary Jane (deceased), Daniel, Sylvester, Clinton, Albert, Edward, Charles, Osaetta, George F. and John. After his marriage, in 1850, Mr. Pontius came to Adams County, Indiana, and settled on land given him by his father, located on the northwest quarter of section 26, Hartford Township, which was then unimproved aud covered over with a heavy growth of timber. His first house here was made of hewed logs, 18 x 28 feet in size, and in this house he lived till 1871, when he built his present large and Commodious residence. It is built of brick and cost $4,000, and is one of the finest residences in this part of the township. His farm buildings for his stock are also noticeably good. He has a fine frame barn 45 x 108 feet, erected in 1873 at a cost of $3,000, and from a small beginning he has accumulated a large property, owning yet 240 acres after giving liberally to his children. He has experienced many of the hardships and privations incident to pioneer life, coming to Hartford Township among the early settlers, where he worked hard at chopping wood and clearing land for 50 cents a day, his present prosperous condition having been gained by persevering industry and good management. In politics, like his father, he affiliates with the Democratic party. In November, 1886, he was elected commissioner of the Third Congressional District of Adams County, receiving a total of 2,012 votes, a majority of 748 votes over the Republican nominee. Both Mr. and Mrs. Pontius are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Their post office is Geneva, Indiana.
W. FRED PYLE, a popular and successful teacher, residing at Geneva, is the eldest son of Andrew J. and Mary A. Pyle, who were among the early settlers of Wabash Township, and was born November 22, 1858. He remained at home with his parents till attaining his majority, receiving in his youth the benefits of the common schools of Adams County. In 1879- '80 he attended the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, Indiana, after which he engaged in teaching, which he followed till 1883. He then entered the Eastern Normal School at Portland, in Jay County, graduating from that institution in 1884, since which he has been engaged in teaching school during the winter term, and reading law under the preceptorship of William Drew at Geneva, and at present is teaching in District 9, Wabash Township. November 1, 1885 he was united in marriage to Miss Clara Veley, a native of De Kalb County, Indiana, born October 27, 1867. They have an infant son, born April 22, 1887.
REV. FREDERICK BERG, pastor of the German Lutheran church in Root Township, was born in Logansport, Indiana, March 20, 1856, where he remained until fourteen years of age, then went to Concordia College, at Fort Wayne, graduating in 1875. He then went to Concordia Seminary, at St. Louis, Missouri, graduating there in 1878. He then became a missionary to the colored people at Little Rock, Arkansas, where he organized the first Lutheran church for colored people in the United States. He remained there until he came to his present pastorate. The membership is seventy-five active, voting members, and 379 souls in the congregation, with 235 communicants. In Decatur he has an organized congregation with eight voting members, fifteen communicants and twenty-four members of the congregation. The schools number sixty-five pupils. In this school all the common branches are taught, and by rule of the church pupils are obliged to attend until fourteen years of age. They are then confirmed as communicants, and the males at twenty-one become voting members. The parents of Mr. Berg were born in Prussia, Germany. The father came to America in 1853 or 1854 and settled in Logansport, Indiana, where he died October 23, 1856, aged twenty-eight years. The mother is still living in Logansport with a half-sister, Mrs Augusta Smith. Mr. Berg was married July 10, 1879, to Miss Augusta Jox, who was born in Jackson County, Wisconsin, August 10, 1859, where she lived until five years of age. She then removed with her parents to Logansport, where her father has since resided, as pastor of the German Lutheran church. Both her parents were born in Germany. They were married in this country. The father was educated at Fort Wayne Seminary. The history of the Lutheran church in this place is as follows: There were two men, named Clamor Fuelling and Dietrich Gerke, who, in 1841, sold five acres each to the congregation for church purposes, about three-eighths of a mile southeast of the present site of the beautiful Lutheran church, consideration $30. On this site they erected a log church in which there was a parochial school. The first missionary in this locality was Frederick Wyneken, who preached in barns. The next was Rev. Knape, who resided in Preble Township. In the meantime there was a school taught by Messrs. Schlatermund, G. H. Jaebker and Rennicke. Mr. Jaebker afterward became the pastor of the Preble Township Lutheran church. The log church was built in 1841. The church was regularly organized in 1843, and had a deacon by the name of Frederick Christianer, and also owned property. F. Hussman succeeded Rev. Knape, who, in turn, was succeeded by Andrew Fritze, who had charge of this Congregation twenty-eight years, and lived in the present parsonage twenty-three years. He died here March 28, 1877. He was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, October 11, 1816. He came to Amenca a single man, and was educated at Fort Wayne, at the Lutheran Seminary. The second church (frame buildmg) was built in 1851, and is now used for school purposes. It was built during the ministry of Rev. Fritze, who was succeeded by Theodore Hahn, who came here in 1877 and remained until the summer of 1881. During his ministry, in 1879, the present brick church was erected at a cost of over $6,000. It is 42 x 72 feet in size, and the ground consists of the ten acres previousily mentioned. The church has an organ, a bell and a beautiful cemetery. The present pastor, Rev. Frederick Berg, came to this field in November, 1881.
GEORGE FRANK, a farmer of Washington Township, was born in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, November 7, 1815, son of Peter and Magdalena Frank, natives also of Pennsylvania, and of German ancestry. When seventeen years of age he emigrated with his parents to Darke County Ohio, and there they resided five years. He received a rudimentary education in the district schools, and being a great reader, has become a well-informed man on the general topics of the day. In 1838 he came to Adams County, and entered eighty acres of land in Blue Creek Township, where he settled in a log cabin and lived nineteen years. He has experienced all the hardships of pioneer life. His family subsisted on wild game for their meat many years. He subsequently removed to Washington Township. He was married September 29, 1839, in Adams County, to Naucy Sackett, born August 14, 1823, in Greene County, Ohio, daughter of Samuel and Isabel Sackett, natives of Ohio. Her parents came to Adams County in the fall of 1837, settling in Blue Creek Township, and were among the early pioneers. Mr. and Mrs. Frank have had seven children, three of whom survive - Peter, Samuel, and Elezan, wife of Joel Roe, St. Mary's Township. Mr. Frank in an early day served as clerk of Blue Creek Township, also as justice of the peace for several years. In 1848 he was elected county assessor. At that time there were no township assessors. In 1858 he was elected sheriff; served one term and was re-elected. He was subsequently appointed to fill a vacancy in the board of county commissioners, and after his appointment expired he was elected to that office. He was serving the county when the court-house was built, and was one of its strongest advocates. It was built largely through his influence. He owns a good farm of eighty acres on section 14, in good cultivation. When he first came to this county he had only six dollars in cash and the clothes he wore on his back. The remainder of his possessions was done up in a 'cotton trunk." He is a member of the Masonic fraternity at Decatur, and in politics is a Democrat.
ABRAHAM McWILLIAM BOLLMAN, recorder of Adams County, Indiana, was born near Dalton,Wayne County, Ohio, March 6, 1845. His father, Abraham Bollman, was a native of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, of German parentage, and when a young man left his native State and located in Wayne County, Ohio, where in 1829 he married Christiann Cook, a native of Ohio. In 1852 he came to Adams County, Indiana, and was engaged in the dry goods business at Decatur until his death, which occurred in August, 1873, aged nearly seventy-three years. He was in politics a Democrat, and during Buchanan's administration served as postmaster at Decatur. He also held the offices of trustee and treasurer of Decatur several terms. His widow survived him until June 7, 1885, being at her death nearly seventy-five years old. They were members of the Presbyterian church for a number of years. They had a family of thirteen children, all of whom save one lived till maturity, and eight are still living, four in Adams County, two in Miami County, one in Jay County, Indiana, and one in Reno County, Kansas. A. McW. Bollman accompanied his parents to Adams County in 1852, and was here reared, receiving his education in the schools of Decatur. When seventeen years old he began teaching, and taught three winter terms in Adams, and seven in Miami County, Indiana. In April, l873, he was deputized county recorder by Captain J. J Chubb, and again by his successor, John Schurger, holding the position six years. In July, 1879, he was appointed deputy circuit clerk by B. H. Dent, and in 1881 by Captain Norval Blackburn, serving over four years. In October, 1882, he was elected county recorder, assuming the duties of his office 1883, and was re-elected to the same office November, 1886. In 1873 he made the first abstract of title of Adams County, and 1876-'77 made the first complete abstract of records and titles of the county, and at present is at work on a condensed index of the titles in the county. Mr. Bollman was married October 22, 1874, at Bunker Hill, Indiana, to Elsie E. Keegan, a native of Natick, Massachusetts, daughter of Peter and Bridget (Killiam) Keegan, natives of lreland. They have four children - Jennie, Arthur McW., Frances L. and Maggie. Mrs. Bollman is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.