GEORGE NEEDLER. For seventy-nine years George Needler has lived in Grant county. His recollections cover almost three-quarters of a century, and he is one of the few survivors of the actual period of pioneer circumstances and events in Grant county. At the present time nearly every section of land in the entire area of Grant county is more or less improved, and every section is a praiseworthy tribute to the hardy endeavors and ability of the pioneers. Of those who came in the vanguard of civilization and assisted in the clearing up of one of these sections, the Needler family is not only one of the oldest, but through the worthy character of its various members is one of the most prominent. The Needler family originated in Germany, where the great-grandfather George Needler was born, and where he was married, and partly reared his family. About 1790 he crossed the Atlantic with his little household, and on the voyage his wife succumbed to the hardship of the long trip, and was buried at sea. With his four sons, George Needler landed in Philadelphia, where he lived until his death at a good old age. His son George Needler, Jr., married Mary Snyder, who, though her name belies the assertion, is said to have been born in Ireland. After his marriage George, Jr., pursued his trade of cooper for a short while, then moved to the vicinity of Winchester, Virginia, and while there his family of six sons were born, whose names were: James, George, John, Jacob, David and Abner. About 1807 or 1808 the family left Virginia and settled in Guernsey county, Ohio, their location being on lands reserved by the government for school purposes. Some years were spent in that vicinity, and by the combined labors of all the household, a substantial home was added. Some of the sons got their first capital and start in life through employment in the salt works in that vicinity. Then in 1832, James Needler, the oldest of the children, came to Indiana, and in the wilderness of Jefferson township of Grant county, acquired four hundred acres direct from the government. The following year he again came out and built a log cabin in the midst of the wilderness, and there in 1834 he brought his young wife and his father and brothers also came and thus the household was reunited in the valley of the Mississinewa. However, the mother of James died during the journey out to Grant county, and thus was enacted one of the tragedies of pioneer life.

Her body was laid to rest at the roadside at Darby Plains near Urbana, Ohio. After they were all settled and started in the regular pursuits of a pioneer community, George Needler Junior was quietly taken from life at an old and vigorous age. He had been cutting wheat and still had his sickle in his hand when death called him.

James Needler was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in 1797, grew up in Virginia and Guernsey county, Ohio, learned the trade of cooper, though practically never followed it, and on coming to Grant county was soon followed by all his brothers except Abner, who remained behind. Abner later came to Grant county, still later went to Missouri and died there. James Needler lived the life of an industrious pioneer and cleared up two hundred acres of land in Jefferson township. There he pursued his vocation as a farmer until his retirement, and he spent his last days at the home of a son in Hartford City, where he died in 1881 at the age of eighty-four years. He was a Democrat in politics, belonged to the Presbyterian church, and was an upright and honored citizen. He married Rebecca Ward, a daughter of Captain John Ward, who held a commission in the United States Army during the War of 1812, and who died about 1815. Rebecca Ward was born about 1807, was reared in Ohio, in the family of some Irish people, until her marriage. She died at the old home in Jefferson township, about 1870. Her religion was that of the Methodist church.

Mrs. George Needler was born in Guernsey county, Ohio, May 14, 1832, about two years before the family left hat region and settled in Grant county. His career has been one of great activity, and of considerable variety. For four years he taught school, was in the business of manufacturing tile for eight years, served in the office of county com- missioner four years, and aside from those activities has spent the greater part of his life as a farmer and stock dealer. His success has fluctuated, and at one time he was the owner of two hundred acres, but reverses reduced his property until he now possesses about sixty acres, and yet is still in fair circumstances, and is regarded as a man of reliable integrity.

Mr. Needler was first married in Blackford county, Indiana, to Lydia Cunningham. She was born and reared in that county, her birth taking place in 1832, and she died in 1891. The children by her marriage were as follows: Franklin died after his marriage leaving two children, who live with their mother in Oklahoma; Mary M. is the wife of W. H. Coffin, a farmer in Delaware county, and they have children; Clementine lives in Muncie, the wife of Willard Nolan, and their children are five in number; Emazetta is the wife of Charles Dodson, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and they have one daughter; Andrew J. is a resident of Muncie, and has a family of two children; Charles is a farmer in Jefferson township, and has six children. For his second wife Mr. Needler married Elizabeth Monroe, who was born in Grant county, July 23, 1844, a daughter of Joseph and Hannah (Shirar) Monroe, who came from Pennsylvania, were settlers first in Ohio, and later came to Grant county in 1840, where they were among the early farmer settlers.

Mr. Monroe died March 27, 1856, and his wife on March 27, 1875. They left two sons and two daughters, who are still living and three of them are married.

"BLACKFORD AND GRANT COUNTIES INDIANA, A CHRONICLE OF THEIR PEOPLE PAST AND PRESENT WITH FAMILY LINEAGE AND PERSONAL MEMOIRS"; Complied Under the Editorial Supervision of BENJAMIN G. SHINN; vol. II ; THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY; CHICAGO AND NEW YORK; 1914
Submitted by:Peggy Karol and Karen Overholt



JOHN BORREY. The era of natural gas brought many able citizens to Grant countyŚmen of large and varied industrial and commercial experience, whose enterprise and energy has done much to develop the county during the last thirty years. After a number of years as a successful glass manufacturer, John Borrey has chosen Fairmount as the home of his quiet years and prosperous retirement. With an ample share of the world's goods, he shows a fine sense of responsibility toward his community, and is employing his means and influence for the improvement of his home locality.

Few Grant county families have so interesting a history as that of the Borreys. They are of French ancestry, and Mr. Borrey's grandparents lived and died in Alsace. This border province of the German Empire has been changing destinies during the last century, so that a native of Alsace may properly claim to be either a native of France or of Germany. At the time of the Napoleonic wars, Alsace was taken from Germany and made a part of the French Empire. So it remained until the Franco-Prussian war of 1871, when it became one of the prizes of the war, and was returned to Germany and has since been a part of the German Empire. The grandparents of John Borrey spent their lives in Alsace while it was under French dominion. They were Catholics in religion, and the grandfather followed the family occupation of glass blowing. Mr. Borrey has no information concerning the names of his grandparents. However, it is known that there were four children, two sons and two daughters, the sons having been John and Michael, and one of the daughters named Elizabeth. These children were born in Alsace, but subsequently all moved into Germany, where they spent their lives in quiet industry and comfortable home life. They all reared families of their own and for many years had their homes at Sauerbroke, Germany.

Michael Borrey was born in Alsace in 1820. He learned the trade of glass blower when a young man, went to Germany, served according to the law of the land for three years in the army and then took up his regular work as a glass blower. He followed with great skill a special department of this work in the manufacture of large carboys, carboys being large glass containers. His father had worked at the same line of glass blowing in France, and the two sons on going to Germany took a contract for the blowing of these large bottles under condition that all the bottles should bear the family name of Borrey stamped upon them. Both brothers John and Michael continued in the manufacture of carboys until they were sixty years of age. They were large and powerful men and were masters of their trade. Michael died in Germany when eighty-two years of age. Throughout his active career he had been a hard worker, and enjoyed peculiar esteem in his community. He married a German girl named Salma Schamm, a native of Frederickstahl, one of the great glass manufacturing centers of Germany. She died twenty years before her husband. All the family were Catholics in religion. The children of Michael and wife were: Lena, who married a glass blower in Germany, and they spent their lives in that country, leaving a family of children; Sophia, married a window glass blower, and they were the parents of five children, the family spending their lives in Germany; Lizzie married Joseph Smith, also in the window glass trade, and they died in Germany, leaving a son and two daughters; Jacob, was a bottle blower in Germany, married and died when his only child was one year of age, while his widow is still living: Netja married a German glass blower, later moving to the United States, and both died at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, leaving two sons and a daughter.

Mr. John Borrey of Fairmount, a brother of Michael, just named, was born in Frederickstahl, Germany, near the French border, August 9, 1848. He grew up there, learned the glass blower's trade both in the manufacture of bottles and window glass. In 1868 he decided against serving in the German Army, and in order to escape that rule he emigrated to the United States, landing in New York City. From there he went to Pittsburg, and on account of his skill soon found a profitable employment in one of the large bottle manufacturing and window glass houses of that vicinity. After four or five years he moved to Ravenna, Ohio, where he spent sixteen years at his trade. For about five years of this time he was manager of the plant. As a glass blower he had few superiors, and was a quiet and efficient worker, well minded his own business and still was popular and a good manager.

While a resident of Ravenna, Mr. Borrey married Louisa Hahne, who was born at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, April 4, 1854, of German parentage. Her parents, when she was fifteen years old, settled at Ravenna, Ohio, her father having been a glass flatner, but later taking up the occupation of farming. Her father died near Ravenna, Ohio, at the age of seventy-three, while her mother survived until eighty-eight years of age. Her parents were married in Germany, and came to the United States in 1848.

Mr. Borrey through his early career both when single and after his marriage exercised a great deal of thrift and economy in the management of his financial affairs, and as he commanded high wages, both as a blower and as manager, he was early on the highroad to prosperity. In 1888 he went to Massillon, Ohio, where he took stock in a window glass manufacturing company. Becoming manager, he remained there until the development of the natural gas belt in Indiana, and the consequent cheap fuel made it profitable for the company to move away. The company accordingly dismembered the entire factory, and brought it in pieces to Greenfield, Indiana, and during 1890-91 rebuilt the entire factory. It was conducted for the manufacture of window glass successfully until 1897, when Mr. Borrey sold his interest. He then came to Fairmount and established a glass factory in this Grant county town. From the start, largely owing to his long and varied experience, and a peculiarly able management, he was successful, and after about a year sold out the plant at a large profit over its cost to the American Window Glass Company, the trust. He was later employed by the combine, as a special manager, going from one factory to another to see that things were all right, but finally gave up the glass business altogether, and retired to his fine home at 510 East Washington Street in Fairmount. He now enjoys a large and ample prosperity, and among other property owns one of the best business blocks in the city at the corner of Main and Washington Streets which he erected. Although he had well earned a period of leisure, Mr. Borrey is not the kind of man who can sit down and fold his hands, and soon after he retired he bought a fine farm of good land with excellent improvements, well built and modeled houses and barns and with silo and all the appliances of modern farming, and on that country estate finds a profitable pleasure in farming and stock raising. He raises all the general crops and feeds everything to stock on the place with the exception of his wheat. He keeps only first class stock and has about a dozen first class horses, and all the machinery is of the very best type.

Mr. Borrey is a Republican in politics, and is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His wife belongs to the Congregational church. To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Borrey were born the following children: Bertha, who was born in Ravenna, Ohio, July 3, 1871, and is the wife of Paul Hagen, whose home is Indianapolis. They are the parents of two children, Marie and Lucile. William, the second child, was born September 27, 1872, is a glass manufacturer at Kokomo, Indiana, and is unmarried. Flora, was born January 11, 1875, and is the wife of Edward Welsch, a hardware merchant at Fairmount. They have no children. John G. was born November 4, 1876, is a farmer and manager of his father's estate, being unmarried and living at home in Fairmount.

"BLACKFORD AND GRANT COUNTIES INDIANA, A CHRONICLE OF THEIR PEOPLE PAST AND PRESENT WITH FAMILY LINEAGE AND PERSONAL MEMOIRS"; Complied Under the Editorial Supervision of BENJAMIN G. SHINN; vol. II ; THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY; CHICAGO AND NEW YORK; 1914
Submitted by:Peggy Karol and Karen Overholt



JOSEPH RATLIFF. Among the old and honored residents of Fairmount, one who has been a witness to and a participant in the wonderful development which has changed this part of Grant county from an undeveloped wilderness into one of the garden spots of the State, is Joseph Ratliff, who is now living retired from active pursuits, after many years spent in agricultural work. Mr. Ratliff is a grandson of Richard Ratliff, who was born in North Carolina, and whose parents, natives of England, emigrated to America at an early day and spent the remainder of their lives in farming, leaving a family of eight sons and four daughters.

Richard Ratliff grew up a farmer, and married a North Carolina girl whose name has since been forgotten. After the birth of several children, he left his native State in 1810, and came north across the mountains in teams, settling in a Quaker locality in Wayne county, near the present site of Richmond, although that city had not yet been established. There, in the wilderness, surrounded by pioneer hardships and privations, he made a home for his family, but later disposed of his interests and moved on to a new property near Hopewell, in Henry county, where the remainder of his life was passed in tilling the soil. Both he and his wife lived to advanced years and reared a large family of children.

Gabriel Ratliff, the father of Joseph Ratliff, was one of the older children in the family, and was born in North Carolina in 1805, being five years of age when he accompanied the family to Wayne county, Indiana. He was not yet of age when he came to Henry county, and he was there married to Catherine Pearson, also a native of the Old North State, where she was born in 1808. She had come with her parents to Wayne county in 1810 or 1811, by wagon, and located in the Quaker settlement near what is now Richmond. At that time one John Smith started a little store, and there they purchased their first goods and sold their eggs and produce, this being the only store for many miles around. The Pearson family accompanied the Ratliff family to the same neighborhood in Henry county. Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff settled on a property not far from Spiceland, and there Mr. Ratliff died in 1845, aged only forty years, during an epidemic of typhoid fever. Subsequently his widow and her children moved to Miami county, Indiana, locating on land then situated in the Indian Reserve, where many of the Indians still remained. There Mrs. Ratliff was married to a Mr. Atkinson, who died in 1871, and Mrs. Atkinson then came to Grant county, where she passed away at the age of seventy-five years, at the home of a son. She was a Quaker until late in life, when she adopted the faith of the Wesleyan Methodist church. By her last union she had no issue.

A brother of Gabriel Ratliff, Nathan Ratliff, was one of the most famous hunters and trappers in Indiana, and many tales are told as to his prowess with the rifle. As related, on one occasion, when invading a bear's den after a litter of cubs, he was surprised by the return of the mother bear, which he killed only after a desperate struggle. He spent his entire life in the woods of Henry and Blackford counties, and died in the latter when about eighty years of age, leaving a widow and family.

Joseph Ratliff was the fifth son and ninth child in his parents' family of twelve children, and was born in Henry county, Indiana, in 1838. He was nine years of age when he accompanied his mother to Miami county, and there he received his education, attending school a part of the time until he was fifteen years of age. At that time there were no roads, and in their travels to church and to the homes of their friends the early settlers had to depend upon blazed trails. He grew up an industrious, thrifty farmer, and this has been his occupation throughout life. An interesting conversationalist, he speaks entertainingly of the early days, of "log rolling" and "house raising," of coon hunting and of running through the woods after the cows, and of going a dozen miles through the woods to church and to market.

Mr. Ratliff was married first in Miami county, Indiana, to Mary A. Lamb, who was born a Quakeress, in the Quaker settlement near Moonsville, Madison county, Indiana. She died in 1881, leaving seven children. Prior to this, in 1871, Mr. Ratliff had come to Grant county and purchased a fine farm of ninety-two acres, just beyond the limits of Fairmount. He married in Miami county, for his second wife Mrs. Mary (Arnold) Thomas, who was born June 7, 1851, in Miami county, daughter of Nathan and Sarah (Overman) Arnold, natives, respectively, of North Carolina and Wayne county, Indiana, although Mrs. Arnold was of North Carolina parentage. Both families were of old Fox Quaker stock, and came to Wayne county as early as 1800. Nathan Arnold and Sarah Overman were married in 1839, on August 21, near Richmond, and moved to Grant county, Indiana, in 1847, to a farm which the grandfather Arnold had entered from the government. It was all then a wilderness. Some years later Mr. Arnold traded his farm for one in Miami county, where he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives, he passing away in 1868, at the age of fifty-five years, and his wife in 1894, when seventy-three years of age. Both were active Friends, Mrs. Arnold being overseer and elder of the church at Amboy at the time of her death, while Mr. Arnold was for many years an elder. He was a substantial and progressive farmer, and owned the first carriage in this section, in which he traveled in his preaching trips. By her first marriage with Mr. Simeon Thomas, who died at the age of twenty-five years, Mrs. Ratliff had two sons: Nathan H. and Herbert E., the former of whom lives on Mr. Ratliff's farm in Fairmount township, while the latter lives at Marion, Lamoure county, North Dakota, where he has large agricultural interests.

Of the children of his first marriage, Mr. Ratliff has three living. Charles, a farmer of Cass county, Michigan, is married and has a family of five children. Hon. Ancil, a successful farmer of Liberty township, Grant county, is an ex-member of the Indiana Legislature, and led the local option movement four years ago in Grant county. He has six children, all graduates of Fairmount Academy, while one daughter, Ina M., is a Friends missionary in Cuba. Milo E. Ratliff, D. D. S., with a large dental practice at Cassopolis, Michigan, is a graduate of Fairmount Academy, Earlham College, Northwestern Dental College, Chicago, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He married Belle Bogue, and they have twin daughters.

Mr. Ratliff's life has been a long and useful one, and his activities have served not alone to give him financial independence and prominence in Fairmount, but have also assisted materially in advancing the interests of his adopted community. He has always been straightforward and honorable in his dealings, and everywhere he is held in the highest esteem by all who know him. He was trustee of Fairmount township for eleven years, elected on the Republican ticket.

"BLACKFORD AND GRANT COUNTIES INDIANA, A CHRONICLE OF THEIR PEOPLE PAST AND PRESENT WITH FAMILY LINEAGE AND PERSONAL MEMOIRS"; Complied Under the Editorial Supervision of BENJAMIN G. SHINN; vol. II ; THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY; CHICAGO AND NEW YORK; 1914
Submitted by:Peggy Karol and Karen Overholt



JOHN H. SIMONS. Among the old families of Grant county that of Simons has had a prominent place from the time when this county was on the western frontier. Its members have prospered as farmers both in the times of early settlement and in later generations, have been good business men and public-spirited citizens and their lives have been led along the paths of quiet industry and prosperity through a period of three-quarters of a Century. The representative of the name selected for special note in this article is John H. Simons, for many years identified with business and civic affairs at Fairmount.

His grandfather, Adrial Simons, was born in the state of New York. He served as a soldier in the war of 1812. In his native state he married and then moved to Pennsylvania which remained his home until about 1820. He then went west until he reached Darke county, Ohio, and his death occurred there in 1876. There was a large family of ten children, all of whom grew up and two of them are still living: Mrs. Naomi Broderick, of Fort Wayne; and Sarah J. Wilt, on a farm near Warren, Indiana.

Henry Simons, the father, was born near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, May 15, 1815. He was a small boy when the family moved out to Darke county, Ohio, and in that pioneer locality he grew up. In 1837 he set out from Darke county, walked all the way through woods and over the old time trails, to Grant county, where he entered eighty acres of land in section thirty-six of Fairmount township. Then he walked to the land office at Fort Wayne, seventy-five miles distant, entered the land and paid the fees, after which he retraced his steps to Grant county and cleared off the woods from a few acres of the land. These preliminaries having been accomplished he went on to his old home in Ohio, where he married Phoebe, a daughter of Solomon Thomas. In 1839 or 1840 he brought his young wife to Grant county, and located on the eighty acres which he entered a couple of years before. There he lived and his death occurred in 1902 on the thirty-first of March when at an advanced age.

Henry Simons attained the distinction of a long and well spent life. In his community and in his family he was noted for his uprightness and high qualities of mind and heart, and may be said to have fulfilled all the obligations of righteous living. He was a member of the Christian church and in politics a Republican. His first wife died in the early fifties, leaving five children. Two of them, William and Adrial, are living and have families of their own. For his second marriage Henry Simons, in 1853, took Mrs. Elizabeth Parrill, nee Walker. She was born in Rockbridge county, Virginia, in 1826. When she was thirteen years of age she came with her father to Grant county. Here she was married to James Parrill and left one son, Joseph, who is now in the automobile business in Fairmount. She died on March 19, 1899, leaving the following children by Mr. Simons: John H.; Levi, a farmer in Jefferson township, and the father of three children; Wilson, who lives on a farm in Jefferson township, is married, and his seven children are at home; Mata, wife of Oliver Buller, who resides in Fairmount and has one son and one daughter.

John H. Simons was born on the old homestead in Fairmount township, November 17, 1854. His youth was spent on a farm, and he was given better than ordinary educational advantages. From the country schools he attended the Marion city schools, and afterwards was a student at the National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio. He began his career as a teacher, and later entered the lumber and saw mill industry. His partner for some seven years was William H. Lindsay, until he finally sold out to Mr. Lindsay. All his life he has been skilled in the mechanical arts, and has done much work as a carpenter and builder. Mr. Simons was one of the organizers of the Citizens Telephone Company at Fairmount, served as its president seven years, and as secretary and treasurer during 1911 and 1912. He is now a stockholder in this successful enterprise. His business career has been one of success, and all his accomplishments have been worthy and of benefit not only to himself but to the community.

Mr. Simons served two terms in the city council at Fairmount. In politics he is a Republican, and at the present time he is holding the office of township assessor. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Knights of Pythias Lodge in Fairmount.

In 1891 Mr. Simons married E. Ruth Stalker, who was born in Randolph county, North Carolina, August 11, 1863, a daughter of Thomas and Sara J. (Elliott) Stalker. Her father was a member of the Quaker sect, and her mother a Methodist. Her parents were married in Randolph county, North Carolina, August 4, 1847, and her father died there after a career as a farmer, on November 2, 1864. His widow was left in very poor circumstances, and with seven children in her care. In 1865 she brought her family out to Indiana and went through many hardships in her endeavor to keep her flock together until they were grown. One of her children died at the age of fourteen. A son, Jabez L. Stalker, is now living in Marion county, Oregon, and has one son who is also living. Another of the Stalker family is Paulina, widow of Harrison Wiand of Marion, and she has seven children still living. Mr. and Mrs. Simons are the parents of one son, Harry L., born June 2, 1892, a graduate of the city high school, and still at home.

"BLACKFORD AND GRANT COUNTIES INDIANA, A CHRONICLE OF THEIR PEOPLE PAST AND PRESENT WITH FAMILY LINEAGE AND PERSONAL MEMOIRS"; Complied Under the Editorial Supervision of BENJAMIN G. SHINN; vol. II ; THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY; CHICAGO AND NEW YORK; 1914
Submitted by:Peggy Karol and Karen Overholt



Deb Murray