In the death of the honored subject of this memoir, May 7, 1881, at his home on West Broad street, New Castle, Indiana, there passed away another member of that group of distinguished and representative professional men who were the leaders in inaugurating and building up the commercial interests of Henry County, Indiana. His name is familiar, not alone to the residents of the city to whose development he contributed so conspicuously, but to all who have been informed in regard to the history of this particular section of the Hoosier State. He was identified with the growth of Henry County all his life and greatly contributed to its material progress and prosperity. He early had the sagacity and prescience to discover the eminence which the future had in store for this great and growing section of the commonwealth, and acting in accordance with the dictates of faith and judgment, he reaped, in the fullness of time, the generous benefits which are the just recompense of
indomitable industry, spotless integrity and marvelous enterprise. Prominently connected with the business and professional interests of New Castle, the career of Judge Robert Lindsey Polk is one eminently worthy of permanent record. Greater fortunes have been accumulated by others, but few lives furnish so striking an example of the wise application of sound business principles and safe conservatism as does his. The story of his success is not long nor does it contain many exciting chapters; but in it lies one of the most valuable secrets of the prosperity which it records; his business and private life are replete with interest and incentive, no matter how lacking in dramatic action, the record of a noble life, consistent with itself and its possibilities in every direction. This eminent jurist, late judge of the eighteenth judicial circuit (Henry and Hancock Counties) of Indiana, was a native of this state, born in Greensboro, Henry County, October 12, 1841.
The parents from whom he descended were Robert H. and Hannah (Hodgin) Polk, natives of Virginia and North Carolina, respectively. His grandfather, Capt. William Polk, was a native of Ireland and came to America prior to the Revolutionary war, settling in eastern Virginia where he engaged in the manufacture of salt, and it was at the beginning of the war for independence that the Tories, or adherents of the British government, maliciously burnt his salt works as giving aid to the enemy. He immediately thereafter raised a company of military, of which he was elected commander, and hence his title of Captain, which title he bore the remainder of his life. The company bore itself gallantly from the beginning to the end of the war, serving in some of the most desperate engagements, particularly those at the south. Robert H. Polk, father of the late Judge Robert Lindsey Polk, was a pioneer of Henry County and one of its most enterprising and highly esteemed citizens. He was
a life-long Republican and took an active interest in the success of his party, but was never an aspirant for public favors, though he was prevailed upon, while a resident of Greensboro, to accept the postmastership of that place, which position he filled for several years. He was a member of the Masonic order, in which fraternity he had been a regular attendant for many years. He was also, as was his wife, zealous and consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and were highly esteemed by all who knew them. His death occurred at New Castle in 1891, at the advanced age of ninety-one years, having long survived his wife, who died in 1873. She was of English descent and came of the same family with that of the late war governor of New York, who became famous at the incipience of the Civil war by his issuance of the mandate: If any man attempt to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot. When Robert L. Polk had reached his eleventh year, his parents
came with their family to New Castle, and here the boy for two years attended a school taught by James S. Ferris and Russell B. Abbott, after which he took a course at Bryant and Stratton's Commercial College in Cleveland, Ohio. He next entered Whitewater College at Centreville, under Prof. XV. H. Barnes, attended one year, and then began reading law with James Brown, father of William A. Brown, the attorney with whom Mr. Polk formed a partnership in 1863,which was maintained until 1872. In that year Mr. Polk was elected judge of the court of common pleas. This office, however, was abolished the following year, and Mr. Polk then re-engaged in the practice of his profession, this time alone, and so continued until 1876, when he was elected on the Republican ticket, judge of the eighteenth judicial circuit court, which honorable position he worthily and judiciously filled until his death. Judge Polk was a man whose character was above reproach. He was not only a refined,
polished gentleman, but was endowed with moral and conscientious scruples, which made his life one of perfection and admiration. He was noted for his generous hospitality and at all times took delight in receiving his numerous friends, and in enjoying with them the feast of reason and the flow of soul. The last social gathering in which he participated was held on the fifteenth anniversary of his wedding. He also enjoyed all games calling for the exercise of his intellectual powers, such as chess, and was fond of hunting, when off the bench, and it is even said of him as a joke that he once adjourned court to witness a game of baseball. He nevertheless left behind him a reputation unexcelled for purity in office and ability as a jurist, as well as a useful member of society and in his death Henry County was bereft of one of its most valuable and highly esteemed citizens. Judge Polk was united in marriage on the 28th day of November 1865, the lady of his choice being
Miss Harriet, daughter of Rev. Milton Mahin, a biographical sketch of whom will be found elsewhere in this volume, and to this union were born five children, viz: Paul, who is in the house-furnishing business in Louisville, Kentucky; Mary is the wife of Dr. R. H. Ritter, of Indianapolis; George is a decorator, still living under the maternal roof; Catherine, the wife of Dr. W. J. Sandy, of Gosport, Indiana, and Dudley is now in business with his brother Paul at Louisville, Kentucky. Judge Polk was well read in all classes of literature and took great interest in the education of his children, of whom Mary was graduated from DePauw University, taught school two years in Henry County and two years in the Indianapolis schools. Paul and Catherine were also attendants at the same institutions. Mrs. Polk is a native of Indiana, having first seen the light of day at Versailles, Ripley County, October 22, 1844. She is a highly educated lady, and possessed of refined literary
tastes and talents, illustrating in her pleasing personality many of the valuable and worthy traits of the native born and bred lady of culture. She is endowed with great strength of character and agreeable manners, which easily win her friends, and her pleasant home is often the scene of enjoyable social intercourse. She served as the first vice-president and the second president of the Woman's Club at New Castle, and also held membership in other literary societies. She is a consistent and worthy member of the Methodist Episcopal church, as was also her husband, and is highly respected and esteemed for her genuine worth by all who know her.
Submitted by: Lora
Compendium of Biography Of Henry County, Indiana B. F. Bowen 1920
This native-born citizen of Henry County, Indiana, had his nativity on the site of his present home in Fall Creek Township, June 23, 1838, and is of Virginia extraction and ante-Revolutionary descent. His parents, William and Sarah (Miller) Fleming, were natives of the Old Dominion, having been born long before the new state of West Virginia was partitioned off from the old, and William Fleming was the first child to see the light of day in the fort at Fairmont in Marion County, West Virginia, his birth having taken place in 1787. Bose Fleming, the father of William, was a soldier in the patriot army during the war for American independence. William Fleming, the father of William R., was first married in Virginia and came to Indiana with four children, about 1830. He first located in Delaware County, four miles north of Middletown, Henry County, where his wife died two years later. A year or so after this event Mr. Fleming was united in marriage with Miss Sarah Miller,
daughter of William Miller. This lady was a native of the Shenandoah valley, Virginia, and was a child of three years when taken to Clermont County, Ohio, but was a woman grown when she accompanied her parents to where Tabor, Delaware County, Indiana, now stands. Mr. Fleming thence came to Henry County and purchased the tract of land to which he brought his newly-made bride, which tract was improved with what was then considered to be a large frame house, but which would now be looked upon as a small affair, and in this house William R. Fleming was born. The original farm was increased to about four hundred acres before the death of the elder Mr. Fleming, to which he added still more, of which he gave his eldest son a fair share and cleared up two hundred acres for his own use, being still the owner of four hundred at the time of his death. November 24, 1862. His death was caused by exposure while flat boating on the Ohio River and his age at the time of his death was
seventy-five years. To the first marriage of William Fleming were born the following named children, who reached mature years: George, who was a farmer in Delaware county and died about 1862 at the age of seventy years; Mary, who was married to William Jones and died when past sixty; David H., who had lived on a part of the old farm as a bachelor and died at seventy; Norville, who resides at Sulphur Springs. To the second marriage was born William R. Beniah, who had enlisted in 1861 for three years or as long as the war might last, was assigned to Company E, Eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, died of pneumonia in March. 1863, when but nineteen years old, when passing through the state of Missouri: William R. also enlisted at the same time on the same terms, was assigned to the same company and regiment and was with his brother at the time of the latter's death. The Eighth Indiana was in the service three years. Mr. Fleming took part in many marches, skirmishes and battles,
among the latter of which was Pea Ridge, Arkansas. After this battle he was assigned to the Sixty-ninth Indiana Regiment and took part in the memorable Banks expedition up the Red river. He was at Vicksburg, and was sent across the Gulf of Mexico into Texas. Subsequently he joined his own regiment at New Orleans, and they went aboard the boat St. Mary's, bound for Fortress Monroe. From the latter place they were sent to the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, when the subject received his honorable discharge, September 5, 1864. He was never wounded and never missed roll call and now receives a pension from the government of twelve dollars per month. When Mr. Fleming returned to his home he bought out the interest of the heirs to the old homestead of two hundred and forty acres, but it required about twenty years for him to clear up his indebtedness. - On this farm lie has made all the improvements, building the dwelling in 1870. He now owns two hundred and eighty acres, on which he grows
grain chiefly and fattens hogs, depending on the latter for his profits. June 22, 1865, Mr. Fleming married Miss Nancy J. Harvey, a daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Ball) Harvey, who at that time resided near Sulphur Springs. Indiana. Mrs. Fleming was born April 28, 1840, in Delaware County. Indiana, and when a child was brought to Henry County by her parents, who originally came from Monroe County, West Virginia. Mrs. Fleming was not a very robust lads', was for two years a confirmed invalid, and passed away March 31, 1887, the mother of five children, namely: Harvey B., a farmer living near the parental homestead; Henry Everett, who died in infancy; Ludoska, who died at the age of fifteen years: Maude, wife of Rutherford B. Harter, who lives on the Fleming homestead, and Nellie, who passed through the common school course, was well educated in music and is now the housekeeper for her father. Mr. Fleming is a gentleman of strong will power and is sufficiently broad
minded to learn the lessons of experience, a faculty in which many Hoosiers are lacking: never the less he was very impressible in his early clays and dropped into many follies which he rectified in later moments of reflection, never again to resume them. At the age of twenty-one he began to chew tobacco, but soon abandoned the pernicious habit. At the same age (1839) he went to Pike's Peak, Montana, where he passed nine months in prospecting for gold, but with no satisfactory results. On his trip to that then Mecca of adventurers in seek of a fortune he saw for the first time a gambling game going on, on aboard a steamboat on the Missouri river on the voyage from St. Louis, Missouri, to Leavenworth, Kansas. Mr. Fleming took a hand in the game, which in fact was no game at all, but simply a one-man trick and that one man a blackleg. Mr. Fleming lost fifty dollars, but was allowed by the operator to win it back again, together with the invaluable advice to gamble no more,
advice Mr. Fleming has since implicitly followed. In his early days Mr. Fleming was also greatly addicted to the use of alcoholic beverages, and when he and his brother-in-law got "full" they slept off their intoxication in the orchard, until one day he saw his wife approaching in tears at his deplorable condition and this ended the bad habit forever. He had the will power to do so, and his word then, as now, was as good as his bond. In politics Mr. Fleming is a stanch Democrat and stands on the Chicago and Kansas City platforms of the party. Fraternally he has been a Mason since June 1865, and is a member of Lodge No. 271 at Middletown, but attends meetings only when it is necessary to take part in the work on the trestle board. Mr. Fleming is in fact the architect of his own fortune, his success in life being the result of his individual efforts, and no residents of Henry County stand higher in the esteem of their fellow citizen than Mr. Fleming and his family, of Fall Creek Township.
Submitted by: Lora
Compendium of Biography Of Henry County, Indiana B. F. Bowen 1920
The gentleman whose name appears above is widely known as one of the honored citizens of Henry County, Indiana, where for many years he has been prominently identified with the varied interests of his community. His well-directed efforts in the affairs of life, his capable management of his business interests and his sound judgment have brought to him prosperity, and his life demonstrates what may be accomplished by the man of energy and ambition. Ezekiel T. Ice was born August 5, 1832, in Prairie Township, Henry County, Indiana, the son of Jesse and Sarah E. (Hickman) Ice, both natives of Virginia. His father was married in Virginia and moved to Prairie Township, this county, in the spring of 1832 and here remained until his death. He was a captain in the war of 1812 and his father was a Revolutionary soldier, living to the advanced age of ninety- two years. Jesse and Sarah Hickman were the parents of twelve children, who are briefly mentioned as follows: Mary, deceased;
Andrew J. died in 1901; Joshua, deceased; Josiah, deceased; Ezekiel T., the subject; Frederick M. is a resident of Prairie Township, this county; Abel W. is a resident of St. Louis, Missouri; Jesse enlisted for service during the Civil war and at the battle of Kenesaw mountain was shot through the brain, living for five days after the brain was exposed; Sarah Elizabeth is the wife of Louis Allen, a farmer and Baptist minister living near Hagerstown, this state; Dallas died in childhood and two others died in infancy. The subject is indebted to the common schools of his district for his education, attending there until he was eighteen years old. He then attended the New Castle high school, being under the instruction of Profs. Ferris and Abbott. When he had attained his majority lie left the parental roof and engaged in the milling and lumber business at Mt. Summit, being thus engaged for twenty years. During this time, however, he was also interested in farming, having
several valuable agricultural properties under his control. He also at that time carried on the grain, stock and implement business. For twenty years he was the junior partner in the firm of A.J. & E T. Ice. He was very successful in all his operations and attained a good reputation among commercial circles. During the past twenty years he has been very extensively engaged in agriculture, having the oversight of over five hundred acres of land. He also attained quite a reputation as a horse breeder and developer, having been for ten years engaged in this line. He owned several valuable animals, among them a mare for which he was at one time offered fifteen hundred dollars, but which died shortly afterward from a broken neck. Besides his farming property he owns eight lots and three buildings in Mt. Summit, Indiana. For the past eighteen months Mr. Ice has been engaged in constructing a Streetcar line from Muncie to New Castle. He has been very successful in this enterprise,
having secured a franchise in every town through which the road is to pass. It is a connecting link between Fort Wayne and Cincinnati and passes through the finest part of Indiana, both from a commercial and a scenic standpoint. Springport, which is located on this line, offers the best facilities as a watering place of any town in the state, and close to this line there is also the beautiful Shively Park, One of the beauty spots of central Indiana, which is located near Mt. Summit. On the 18th of November 1858, the subject was united in marriage with Miss Rebecca Bond, the daughter of Adam Bond, a native of Pennsylvania. To this union were born the following children: Jessie F. born August 20, 1859, became the wife of Dr. F. G. Jackson of Muncie, and they have two children. Lulu I. and Sarah; Lulu B born April 12, 1861 married James Harvey, of Muncie, and they are the parents of three children, Edna. Ruby and Sarah: Joseph P. born May 26. 1864, is a farmer in this county, and married Bertha
Haines and has one child. Trammel; George A., born August 24, 1866, is a traveling salesman for the Champion Harvester Company; Harry H., born June 18, 1872, who now lives in Muncie, married Virginia Leggett and they have one child, Virginia E. Mrs. Rebecca Ice died October 17, 1878, and for his second wife the subject married, December 13, 1882, Mrs. Hester A. Hickman, the widow of Charles Hickman and the daughter of Nicholas Mower, a native of Pennsylvania. By her former marriage she was the mother of two children, as follows: Carrie M., born March 6, 1861, is the wife of Robert Winters; Joshua L., born March 8, 1876, is a resident of St. Louis. The subject and his family spend their winters in Muncie and their summers at their country home. Mr. Ice was reared a Democrat and has never seen any reason for changing his allegiance. He is an ardent admirer of William J. Bryan, in whom he has the utmost confidence, and believes that the Farmers Alliance has done a vast amount
of good in educating the people along the lines of agricultural and political economy and in harmonizing the differences formerly existing between the north and the South. He was reared a Baptist, but in his later years has formed the belief that eventually universal salvation will prevail. Fraternally he is a Mason, having taken his degrees as soon as he had attained his majority. He belongs to Blue Lodge No. 91, Chapter No. 54, council and commandery, all of New Castle, and was the first chancellor commander of Mt. Summit Lodge No. 49, K. P. The following incident is related by Mr. Ice, Josiah Hickman, a cousin of the subject, was trustee of Prairie Township, and while in that position located a schoolhouse one and a half miles west of Mt. Summit. The citizens were much dissatisfied with the location and decided to defeat him for reelection. A convention was called and the result was the nomination of the subject. Shortly afterwards the citizens from the northern part of
the county called on Mr. Ice and asked of him a pledge that he would erect a school house in Springport. He refused to accede to this request, saying that if elected to the office he would enter it free of any pledges. Thereupon the citizens referred to, Democrats, caucused with the Republicans and at the election following succeeded in defeating the subject. As one result the township has been in disorganized condition politically ever since. Mr. Ice was a delegate to the convention, which nominated Gen. George B. McClellan for the presidency and also to the St. Louis convention that nominated William J. Bryan for the same office. During all his residence in this county he has borne his full part in all public improvements and his standing as one of the county's progressive and representative citizens is conceded by all. He has an extensive acquaintance throughout the county and the name of his personal friends is legion.
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Submitted by: Lora
Compendium of Biography Of Henry County, Indiana B. F. Bowen 1920
The medical profession is well represented in Henry County, Indiana, and the city of New Castle is favored with more than the ordinary proportion of truly talented physicians and surgeons usually found in cities of its size, even in much older portions of the world. Among the younger members of the healing fraternity who are noticeable in this community for their professional ability and successful treatment of the ills that afflict mankind will be found the subject of this sketch. Cassius E. Van Matre is a native of Henry County and was born near Middletown, November 13, 1868. His parents were Cyrus and Catherine (Sayford) Van Matre, the former a native of Delaware County, Indiana, and the latter of Roanoke County, Virginia. Cyrus Van Matre, a son of David, a pioneer of Delaware County from Ohio, was reared on a farm, and soon after marriage came from Delaware County to Henry County and established his homestead near Middletown, where he still resides. Catherine
Sayford was a daughter of Rev. Samuel Sayford, a Lutheran clergyman who was graduated from Gettysburg Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and came from Virginia to Indiana when his daughter Catherine was nine years of age, and located on a farm in Delaware County, but continued in his vocation of preacher through all his neighborhood. Richwoods church was built on his farm and he, being the pastor, erected it himself, with possibly some little outside financial assistance. He was an eloquent pulpit orator and a devout and earnest laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. Mrs. Catherine (Sayford) Van Matre was called away June 27, 1901, having passed her sixty-second birthday the 13th of the previous February Cassius E. Van Matre passed his boyhood on the home farm and until eighteen years old attended the district school, after which he was a student in Wittenberg College at Springfield, Ohio. He began reading medicine with Dr. W. W. Hall, a well-known physician at
Springfield. Ohio, and afterwards took a course at Miami Medical College in Cincinnati, from which he was graduated with the class of 1895, and began practice at New Castle in April of the same year. Since then he has felt no regret at his selection of this city as the field for the exercise of his acknowledged ability as a physician, his patrons being of the better class of citizens and his remuneration quite satisfactory. Dr. Van Matre keeps well abreast of the advanced progress of medical science, to which some new features are yearly added. In this his place is by no means retarded by his association with brother professionals in various organizations. He is a member of the Henry County Medical Society and the National Medical Association, and of the former has been secretary and treasurer for two years. In the meetings of these societies he has heard read many valuable papers, and has, besides, contributed many himself, no less valuable. The marriage
of the Doctor took place at Springfield, Ohio, September 16, 1896, to Miss Minnie McFarland, a native of Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio. She was graduated from the high school, from which time she taught until she was married. She is an amiable and accomplished lady and an adept at painting on china, an art that she indulges in only for her home ornamentation. She is a very ardent member of the Presbyterian Church and active in the work of the societies attached thereto; the Doctor is also a member of this congregation and is a liberal contributor of his finances toward its maintenance; no children have yet come to crown this marriage. Dr. Van Matre is a member of the blue lodge, F. & A M., and also of the Improved Order of Red Men. He is passionately fond of good horses and greatly enjoys witnessing a well-conducted race. He is one of the most agreeable of men and his good-natured face and genial conversation add as much to the recovery of a patient as
do medicine and nursing.
Submitted by: Lora
Compendium of Biography Of Henry County, Indiana B. F. Bowen 1920