John and James McCormick were natives of Hamilton, Butler Co., Ohio, John being the elder. James was born in 1797. Their father, John McCormick, Jr., was born in Virginia, of Scotch ancestry, was a pioneer in Butler county, Ohio, and later removed to Connersville, Ind., where he died in 1845. John McCormick, Jr., was one of the first three county commissioners of Marion county. His death took place in 1824, and he left a widow and eight children, of whom Mrs. Tabitha Marsh, of Arcadia, Ind., is now the only survivor. She and her twin sister, married twin brothers.
James McCormick, the father of Jediah R., married Miss Martha (Patsy) Perkins, and they brought with them to Indianapolis one child, Hezekiah, who died long ago. In 1832, Mr. McCormick bought eighty acres of land upon which he and his family settled. Crown Hill cemetery is now situated on a part of this property. Six boys and five daughters were born to Mr. McCormick and his wife after their arrival in Indianapolis. The following are the living members of this interesting family: John L.; Amos D.; Ira N., of Jamestown, Ind.; James W., of Bainbridge, Ind.; and Mrs. Catherine Eagle, of Frankfort, Ind. The oldest brother, H. S., died at the age of sixty-six years, and J. P. died at the age of sixty-nine.
Mr. McCormick was a Baptist in his religious views. In politics he was a Whig in the old days, and always a strong and pronounced anti-slavery man. He died in 1858, and he is remembered not only for the fact that he was one of the very first settlers of Indianapolis but also for his manly qualities and high character. His widow passed away in October, 1880.
Jediah R. McCormick was born Jan. 29, 1827, in Shelby county, Ind., where the family for a time resided, and was a twin brother of Amos D., of Lebanon, Ind. His education was secured in the "pay" schools, as there were no public schools established in his neighborhood during those early years. When he reached mature age he learned carpentry, which was his life work.
Mr. McCormick married Elizabeth Coonfield, a native of Pennsylvania, and they had one son and four daughters, as follows: Mrs. Laura Ellen Barlow, Mrs. Jennie Brockway, Mrs. Alice Parker, Mrs. Cora Eppert and Harry G. They all reside in Indianapolis. Mr. McCormick, to whom we are indebted for much of the information contained in this article, remembered well when Indianapolis was but a hamlet, and gave little promise of the beautiful city it has become. At the time of his death he was residing at No. 1217 North West street.
The McCormick Family
McCauley, the English historian, said "The history of a country is best told in a record of the lives of its people." In conformity with this idea we will endeavor to present the history of these two families. The history of the McCormick family can be traced back to an early period in Scotland. During that period of Scotch history known as the "Covenanters" when the trouble arose between the established church and the Presbyterians, the McCormicks on account of persecution emigrated to the northern part of Ireland. They remained there for a time and later emigrated to America settling in Virginia and Pennsylvania.
John McCormick, Sr. a descendent of the McCormick family that came to America about the year 1700, was born about thirty miles from Winchester, Virginia, August 30th, 1754. At that time it was a province of Great Britain. The McCormicks were loyal to the king, but being opposed to the tyranical [sic] measures of the English government, early cast their lot with the colonists in their struggle for independence. John McCormick Sr. served in the Revolutionary war from 1776 to 1783, as the records in the War Department show. His first enlistment in 1776 was in Captain James Robinson’s Co. in Col. Church’s regiment. He again enlisted January 8th. 1778, in Captain James Shelley’s Co. and afterward served in Captain Mark’s Co. 14th Virginia regiment, subsequently in the same Co. with the 10th Virginia regiment under Col. Charles Lewis. His last enlistment was from Pennsylvania for three month’s service. A part of his service was against the Indians on the frontier. The records show that he engaged in a fight with the Indiana on the Wataga [sic] River. His residence at the time of his first enlistment was Molachucky [sic] River, Virginia, now a part of Tennessee. In 1780 at the expiration of his second enlistment he located in Bedford, Pennsylvania.
On the 24th of March he was married to Catherine Drennen at Bedford, Pa. and in 1808 the whole family moved to Ohio, and settled in Preble County not far from Eaton. The overland trip was made in wagons, then down the Ohio River in flatboats. They remained in Ohio only a short time then "Westward Ho," journeyed to the territory of Indiana. The remained sometime at the fort at Connorsville as there was trouble with the Indians at that time, but Mr. McCormick was the first man to leave the protection of the fort and venture to settle elsewhere. He located on land adjoining Connersville, and there spent the rest of his life, dying April 18th, 1837, aged 83 years, 7 months, and 19 days Catherine McCormick, wife of John McCormick, was born January 25th 1769, in the state of Pennsylvania. She was pensioned as her husbands widow, and survived him until February 22, 1862, and passed away at the age of 93 years and 28 days.
To them was born a family of fourteen children, nearly all of whom lived to be three-score and ten and some of more than fourscore and ten years. Their names and date of birth is recorded as follows:
|Sarah||April 22nd, 1786||Samuel Sanders|
|Anna||Sept. 6th, 1787||______ McCormick|
|Samuel||Sept. 23rd, 1789||Elizabeth Case|
|John||Sept. 15th 1791||Bethiah Case|
|William||Sept. 27th, 1793||Susan Wolverton|
|Joseph||Sept. 7th, 1795||Fanny McCoy|
|James||Dec. 5th, 1797||Patsy Perkins|
|Elizabeth||Mar. 29th, 1800||Williams|
|Robert||June 19th, 1804||Elizabeth Job|
|Lewis||June 9th, 1807||Mary Stephens|
|Catherine||Dec. 20th, 1808||James Kirkwood|
|David||Jan. 24th, 1811||Elizabeth Gregg|
|Mary||July 9th, 1813||Died Nov. 1st 1815|
The mortal remains of John McCormick and Catherine McCormick repose in the silent confines of the cemetery at Connersville, Fayette Co. Indiana, near where they established a home and spent the remainer of their lives. If this spot is unmarked, and no epitaph has been written, this would be most fitting, "After life’s battle they rest well." If the information could be obtained it would be a pleasure to undertake the task of writing a sketch of each member of the above family, but lack of information forbids such and undertaking. This work must fall upon the survivors of each family.
John McCormick, Jr. fourth child of John McCormick, Sr. was born near Winchester, Virginia, and was seventeen years old when the family came to Indiana. In 1811, near Hamilton, Ohio, he was married to Bethiah Case, who was born in Bolton County, Kentucky, 1795. Her people were originally from Pennsylvania and they finally located in Ohio. Shortly after their marriage the Second War with Great Britain was declared and he enlisted in the service of his country against England. The war records show that John McCormick, Jr. served as a private in Captain Allen Scrogg’s Company, First Andrews regiment, Ohio, War of 1812; that his service began Sept. 21st, 1812, and that he was transferred on December 9th, 1812, to Captain Allen’s Company. The records also show that he was transferred agin on February 28th, 1813, regiment or company not given.
After peace had been declared he and his wife came to Indiana and settled near Connersville, Fayette County, where his father was then living having moved there in 1809. He continued to live there until the year 1820, when they made a home of their own on the present site of Indianapolis, arriving there on the twenty-sixth day of February 1820. The country was a vast wilderness and they were compelled to cut a road sixty miles to their new location. Indians, also wolves and many other kinds of wild animals were numerous about their forest home. Twelve men accompanied this courageous pioneer in order to assist him put up his log cabin. Two of these were his brothers, Samuel and James, they with the others remained until the cabin was completed. It may be of some interest to those who never have seen the primitive cabin of the pioneer, to know how they were built. They were made of round logs notched to fit together at the corners, often a single room was sufficient, but generally a double cabin was constructed with an opening between the two parts roofed over. The roof was made of clapboards split from straight grained oak timber and held in place by poles pinned to the logs at the ends, the floor was either the natural earth or make of puncheons split from a tree and hewed smooth on one side. A huge fireplace was made at the end of the cabin, or if a double cabin, one at either end, laid up of split sticks and plastered with clay morter, such is a bried description of the house of the early pioneer. If a single cabin, it became parlor, sitting room, bed room and kitchen all combined. The latch string was always out and hospitality was extended to the travelers. The journey of the McCormicks was made in big sleds covered for their protection. The start was made on February 18th 1820, and they landed on the banks of White River February 26th 1820, taking eight days to travel the distance of sixty miles. It was necessary for them to cut the trail the greater part of the way. By the rapid transit of today the distance can be covered in a little less than an hour. It was evening when they arrived at the banks of the river, John McCormick got down from his sled and walked over to the stream. One of the men of the party called to him and asked him is this was where he was going to stop. "Yes" said John "There are too many fish here for me to go further," he being an expert fisherman. And it was at this exact spot where the first cabin was built.
By a peace treaty made with the Indians and signed at St. Marys, Ohio, a strip of land was ceded to the United States, this strip was made a part of Indiana, and was known as the "New Purchase." It was on this strip of land John McCormick settled. The Legislature that assembled in the winter of 1819-1820 appointed ten Commissioners, Viz. Stephen Ludlow, John Conner, John Gilliland, George Hunt, Fredrick Rapp, John Tipton, Joseph Bartholomew, Jesse B. Durham, William Prince and Thomas Emmerson to make selection of a new Capital site. This commission visited the different sites which had been proposed for the State Capital. The majority of the commission was favorably impressed with the site on White River near the mouth of Fall Creek, and on the seventh of June 1820, this site was almost unanimously chosen. There was much rejoicing among the few settlers, when they realized their good fortune. These facts are given because it was in the humble cabin on John McCormick, which served as wayside inn or tavern, where the report of the commission was made and signed. The table that was used on that occasion is in the Indiana State Museum. Mrs. Bethiah McCormick while living often spoke of the time when she entertained the commission that selected the site for the new Capital of Indiana.
John and Bethiah McCormick were parents of the following children: Jacob born in 1811; Katherine born in 1812; John W. born in 1815, married Susan Gregg; Lavina and Tabitha, twins, born February 27th, 1816, Lavina married Isaac Martz and Tabitha married Moses Martz; William born March 27th. 1818, married Katherine Drennen; Mary Ann born December 1819, married James Hawkins; Eliza Ann born December 1821,married Hiram Gardner; Jane born March 1826, married Ebenezer Jones. They continued to reside where the first cabin was built until 1822, when they moved five miles up the river and built a mill near the present Crown Hill Cemetery, which he operated for three years prior to his untimely death, August 25th 1825. He was a member of the Baptist Church, his wife was also a member of this church in her earlier years, but later united with the Christian Church. After her husband’s death Mrs. McCormick married John King, a farmer of Morgan County, Indiana, in 1828, and to them the following children were born: -- Julia A. born in 1829; John C. born in 1830, married Martha Park, died during the Civil War; Cornelius born in 1832, died during the Civil War; the death of Mrs. McCormick (King) occured January 28th. 1874, at the home of her daughter in Arcadia, Indiana, in her eightieth year, outliving Mr. McCormick just half a century.
It has been a disputed question as to who first settled Indianapolis, J.H.B. Nowland, the early historian of Indianapolis, has this to say about the first settle, "It has been asserted by some that George Pogue settled here in 1819, which I am prepared to show by the most indisputable evidence is not the case, and that it was the latter part of February, 1820 that the McCormicks came, and then followed, that spring, the Harding families, Wilsons, Pogues and others." Instead of Pogue being the first settler, it was a fact well known by the first settlers that Pogue did not even build the cabin which he occupied after coming to the "New Purchase." Ute Perkins came from Rush County, Indiana, a short time after the arrival of the McCormicks and others, and built his cabin near Pogue’s Run, but he became dissatisfied in a short time and returned to Rush County. When George Pogue arrived he took possession of the abandoned cabin and made it his home. The small stream which is known as Pogue’s Run was called Perkins Creek by the first settlers. The name was changed after Pogue had taken possession of the Perkins Cabin. A number of years ago, Nowland, the historian, made the statement, that John McCormick was the first white man that settled in Indianapolis. Some person informed him that he was in error, and that George Pogue was here in 1819. Whereupon Mr. Nowland wrote to Cyrus Whetsel, then living near Waverly, Indiana, and received the following reply: --"The subject to which you call my attention, I thought was settled many years ago, that John McCormick built the first house in Indianapolis in February 1820, and that George Pogue settled on the creek which bears his name the following March. My father and I came out in the spring of 1819, cleared ground, raised a crop and moved that family in the following October. I am confident there was not a white man living in Marion County in 1819. My father and myself settled where I now live in the spring of 1819, when I was in my nineteenth year, and at an age calculated to retain any impression made on my mind." Mr. Nowland was certainly in a position to know as he was six years old when his father, Mathias Nowland, arrived here in November, 1820.
Bethiah McCormick (King) is remembered well by the younger members of the family as the champion story teller of the McCormicks. She used to sit by the hour and tell of the hardships of the early pioneers and their struggles in making homes, also the many troubles the white settlers had with the Indians. There are living today many people who have heard from her own lips the story of the removal to the "New Purchase" as she told it, and she always placed particular emphasis upon the fact that she was the first white woman to tread its soil. I will here give a little incident [as recounted by Nowland] in which Mrs. McCormick was the chief actor, though if she ever referred to it, it was in a very modest manner. An Indian attempts to cut a door down. "One bright, sunny Sunday morning, about the middle of March 1821, my father and myself took a walk to the river. When within about fifty yards of the house of John McCormick, we heard the cries of Help, Murder! Etc., coming from the house. We ran and by the time we got there several men had arrived. It appears a well known Indiana from the Delaware Tribe, known as Big Bottle (from the fact that he generally carried hung to his belt a very large bottle,) had come to the opposite bank of the river, and demanded to be brought over. Mr. McCormick not being at home, his wife refused to take the canoe over for him, knowing that he wanted whiskey, and when drinking was a very dangerous Indian. He set his gun down against a tree, and plunged into the river and warn over, when we reached the house, was ascending the bank, tomahawk in hand, preparatory to cutting his way through the door, which Mrs. McCormick had barricaded. At the sight of the several men he desisted from his intention, and said he only wished to ‘scare white squaw.’ He was taken back to his own side of the river in the canoe, and admonished that if he attempted to scare the white squaw again her husband would kill him. This rather irritated him and he flourished his scalping-knife toward her and intimated by signs from her head toward his belt that he would take her scalp, but he never did as she carried it until her death."
TAYLOR E. McCOY, a well-known farmer of Anderson, belongs to a family of pioneer stock on both sides, and one that has been connected with practically the whole period of development for the State of Indiana. He was born in Butler county, Ohio, son of John and Lydia (Clendenning) McCoy. Both families were of Scotch descent.
Alexander McCoy, grandfather of Taylor E., accompanied his father from Pennsylvania to Butler county, Ohio, about 1808-10, when he was a boy. When they passed through Cincinnati, then a mere hamlet, they were offered a strip of land where the city now stands, in exchange for a yoke, of oxen, but refused. They settled in Butler county, where Alexander grew up, married Miss Elizabeth Long, and cleared up a good farm of 120 acres. His wife was born in Pennsylvania of Dutch stock, in 1791, and her father was one of the Ohio pioneers. He and Alexander McCoy built the first log house on Indian Creek, on the uplands, five miles west of the Indian trading post, Hamilton. Both Mr. McCoy and his brother-in-law, Minor Long, were in the Indian wars and they started on the march for Tippecanoe to take part in that battle, but were prevented from reaching there by a swollen stream. Alexander McCoy reached but middle life, but his wife lived until 1871, dying aged eighty years. They were members of the United Brethren Church. They were the parents of four children: Margaret, unmarried, who reached the age of eighty; John; Theodore; and Alexander.
John McCoy was born on the old homestead in Butler county, April 5, 1824, received a limited education in the schools of that day and at the age of fourteen he had to take the responsibility of the family on his shoulders, after his father’s death. He did much of the clearing on the new farm, and supported the family until he was twenty, when he married and made his own home. His worldly possessions then consisted of seventy-five cents and a horse, and he sold the horse for enough to build and furnish a log cabin on his mother’s farm. He lived there some years, then rented a farm near by for three years, and in 1856 moved to Indiana. He settled in Springfield township, Franklin county, and although it was but eighteen miles, it was considered “way out in Indiana.” He moved his effects in wagons, and made his home on a tract of eighty-two and one-half acres, which he bought and cleared. This he added to until he had a good farm of 160 acres.
During the Civil war John McCoy raised a company at Mt. Carmel, which became Company H, 37th Ind. V. I., and of this he was captain, but after four months’ service he was obliged to resign, as he could not stand the marching, owing to his great weight; he was six feet four inches tall, and weighed 300 pounds. Returning home he became a stock raiser and dealer, buying cattle, which he drove to Cincinnati for sale. He was also in the butcher business at Mt. Carmel for several years. Mr. McCoy was prosperous, and at his death left a good property and no debts. In politics he was one of the original Republicans, and was an active politician, although he held no offices.
John McCoy was married in 1846, to Miss Lydia Clendenning, who was born in County Fermanagh, Ireland, Feb. 3, 1828. Her parents came to America in 1833, for their health, and settled at Springfield, Ohio, but both died three years later of consumption. They passed away within a week of each other, and were buried in the same grave. There were four children left, John, Thomas, James and Lydia, and the two latter were brought up by an uncle, John Clendenning. Mrs. McCoy remained with him until she was sixteen years old. Both Mr. and Mrs. McCoy were Methodists, and assisted in the support of their church, and contributed $200 for a new building. They were the parents of eight children: (1) Ann Eliza married Arthur Clarkson, of State Line City, Ohio. (2) Thomas Alexander served six months in the 86th 0. V. I., was three months in the 134th Ind. V. I., and then being wounded in the knee in a skirmish, was discharged. He has never recovered from the lameness. (3) Taylor E. is mentioned below. (4) Elizabeth married the late Samuel Sering, and resides in Anderson. (5) Amanda Jane became Mrs. Francis M. Gates, of Anderson. (6) Margaret died at the age of eighteen. (7) James. (8) Emma married William Coulthard, of Ohio.
Taylor E. McCoy was born in Butler county, Ohio, Oct. 17, 1848, and was six years old when his father settled in Franklin county. He was educated there, going first to school in a little log cabin, and then in a large frame school house, but he received little instruction as he could attend but in the winter months. In the summer time he worked on the farm and drove cattle for his father. At the age of sixteen, in April; 1865, he enlisted at Brookville, and was mustered in at Indianapolis as a private in Company F, 146th Ind. V. I., to serve three years or during the war. He was mustered out Aug. 29, 1865, at the end of the struggle, after nine months’ service in Hancock’s Corps in the Shenandoah Valley, and around Baltimore, thus seeing the fearful devastation of that beautiful region. Except for one week in an accommodation hospital, Mr. McCoy was in active service all the time. He was the youngest man in the regiment who carried a musket, being just over sixteen years old. At that time he was five feet eleven inches in height, and weighed 150 pounds, while now he stands six feet one and three-fourths inches bare-footed.
After the war Mr. McCoy returned home, worked on the farm and ran a butcher’s shop until 1871, when he married, he then settled at Thorntown, Boone county, Ind., where he was in business as a butcher for fourteen years, and then returned to take charge of the homestead for five years. Another year he spent at the William Seal farm, and in 1892 bought his present home, which he has greatly improved. He has repaired the house, built a new barn; drained the land, set out a quantity of small fruits, and made it into a beautiful place. It is situated just four and one-half miles from Anderson. Mr. McCoy is a straight-forward, upright man, highly esteemed for his fine character. He is a Republican and cast his first vote for U. S. Grant for his first term. He is an unaffiliated member of the I. 0. 0. F. Both he and his wife belong to the First Presbyterian Church.
Mr. McCoy was married March 6, 1871, in Franklin county, to Miss Martha A. Seal, who was born there in Springfield township, Oct. 25, 1851, to William and Rebecca (Varner) Seal. The Seal family is of English descent, and settled first in Virginia.
William Seal, Sr., grandfather of Mrs. McCoy, came from Virginia, and is thought to have settled in Springfield township, Franklin county, as early as 1809. He was accompanied by his wife, whose maiden name was Eliza Owen, and his oldest son is said to have been born the year of their arrival in Indiana. William Seal entered a large tract of land and finally became so extensive a land owner, that he had three farms adjoining, each of 160 acres, beside 220 acres in Brookville township, where his son Herman lived. He had also given 160 acres near Mt. Carmel to his son, James. He had one of the first stills in that region, and later erected a larger one. He became very wealthy, built a large two-story brick house on Big Cedar Creek, and bought the first cooking stove in the county. His wife, Eliza (Owen) Seal, was noted among the pioneers for her healing skill, and would ride miles on horseback to visit the sick through the surrounding country. She delighted to recount her experiences among the pioneers. Indians frequently came about her cabin to beg; and on one occasion an Indian came for bread. She told him she had none, but showed him a loaf baking in the oven which she intended to give him when it was done. He did not understand and was very angry and knocked over the oven. When her son Harrison was three weeks old, he was stolen and carried away by the Indians, but some time after he was rescued near Lafayette. The children born to William and Eliza Seal were: Harrison, James, John, William, Eliza, Harriet and Hannah. The parents both lived to extreme old age, and died at their home, Mrs. Seal reaching the age of eighty.
William Seal, Jr., was born in Franklin county, Oct. 5, 1822, and was brought up to be a farmer. His father gave him 160 acres and he bought 120 more, becoming a wealthy and respected citizen. He married Miss Rebecca Varner, daughter of Joseph and Martha (Drum) Varner. Her parents were both of Pennsylvania Dutch stock, and were pioneer settlers in Washington county, Ohio. The children born to William and Rebecca Seal were: Martha A., George Franklin, John Wilford, Emma, Alice and Ida Bell. William Seal, Jr., was a Jacksonian Democrat in politics, and active in local matters, serving as constable in his town and in other minor offices. During war times he was editor of the Franklin County Democrat, in Brookville. Mr. Seal lived until December, 1890, passing away at his home at the age of sixty-eight years.