James O. PARKS was born in Bourbon County, Ky., March 20, 1813; he was reared amid scenes of pioneer life, and his opportunities for acquiring even the rudiments of an education were exceedingly limited. A rude log schoolhouse, with all its appointments of the most primitive order, and its teacher a thorough specimen of the old-time pedagogue, furnished him with his first insight to the mysteries of knowledge, and inspired him with a thirst for more. Even in his boyhood, he had dreams of a career that should not be bounded by his farm lines, and that this dream became a reality in other years was due to the persistence with which he pursued his studies, aided by none but his own bright intellect. At the end of a hard dayís work, he would pursue his studies until the last ray of daylight vanished, and in the winter he would sit by the blazing fire-light far into the night, poring over his books. He soon distanced his school-mates and teacher, and grew up a well-informed man. In 1827, the family emigrated to Rush County, Ind., and settled upon a tract of wild land, which they cleared and cultivated for about eight years. In 1835, they removed to Marshall County, Ind., and were the first white settlers in Bourbon Township; here they entered a tract of 1,280 acres. At the age of sixteen years, James began teaching school, and for nearly ten years was thus engaged during the winter; he had acquired proficiency in the science of surveying, and, immediately upon coming to Marshall County, in 1835, began his public duties as a surveyor, and was thus engaged for about fifteen years, during which time he became thoroughly conversant with the topography of the county, and the location of valuable lands. In the meantime, he pursued a course of legal studies, with the view of entering upon the practice of the law. In 1844, he was elected Justice of the Peace, and resigned that office three years later, to accept the nomination of his party for Representative in the Legislature of Indiana; he was elected by a handsome majority, and re-elected in 1848; in 1852, he was admitted to the bar, and began the practice of his chosen profession; in 1858, he was again elected Representative, and re-elected in 1859, and at the expiration of that term, he returned to resume his practice at the bar; in the year 1860 he was employed by some subjects of the Danish Government, then residing in this county, to settle some estates in the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas and St. Croix), and went there for that purpose, gaining thereby valuable additions to his knowledge of maritime law. He returned in 1861 to find his own country engaged in civil war, and his eldest son a soldier in the Union army. As a practitioner, Mr. Parks has met with signal success, particularly in the settlement of estates. He is not a flowery or fluent speaker, yet his cases are prepared with great system and accuracy, and his devotion to the best interests of his clients, as well as his great integrity, have made him a successful lawyer and a powerful opponent. In all his public life, his actions have been such as to command the respect and approbation of friends and political opponents alike. While in the Legislature he proved himself the friend of the public schools, by introducing legislation for their advancement and improvement. In the session of 1858 he was Chairman of the Committee on Education and Temperance, and drafted and presented the bill, by which the Board of three Trustees for each township was abolished, and their duties relegated to one trustee. He was devoted to this move in the interest of the simplification and efficiency of the school system, and had the pleasure of seeing it become a law. He was also a leader in the legislative action by which the bank-tax fund, the saline fund and the sinking fund were converted into the general school fund. He filled other important positions while a member of the Legislature. In the session of 1849, he was a member of the special committee for the settlement of the State debt, arising from the construction of the Wabash & Erie Canal, which culminated in the passage of the Butler Bill, by which the State was relieved of a great debt and an imminent probability of repudiation. In the session of 1858, he was a member of the Committee of Rights and Privileges, as well as that of Education and Temperance. As a legislator, his career was marked by fidelity to trusts, and honest efforts for the best interests of the State and its people; as a lawyer, traits equally commendable have marked his professional record, and all combine to inspire the high regard in which he is held as a man and citizen. For more than forty years he has been a member of the Presbyterian Church, and for thirty-two years has occupied the position of Elder. He is always prominent in all measures tending toward the moral or temporal improvement of the community, and has long been identified with the temperance reform.

On the 3rd of October, 1836, he was married to Miss Susan DINWIDDIE, a lady of fine accomplishments and a noble, Christian woman. Of this happy union were born two sons - Sinclair D. and John W., and one daughter, Jennie. Both sons are graduates of Ann Arbor (Mich.) University, and both are successful attorneys at the Marshall County bar. Sinclair D. is located at Bourbon, while John W. is located at Plymouth. Jennie, the eldest daughter, is a lady of rare accomplishments, and was identified with the early schools of Bourbon as a teacher. Until quite recently she was a teacher in the public schools of Frankfort, Ind., where she gained an enviable reputation. She was married to Henry D. WEAVER in 1865. Ora Bell, his adopted daughter, is an accomplished musician, and occupies the position of organist in two churches at Bourbon.

Submitted by: Karen Marks
Source: History of Marshall County, Indiana 1836 to 1880 by Daniel McDonald, printed in Chicago by Kingman Brothers, Lakeside Building, 1881


James William Riggens, son of Samuel Riggens and Elizabeth Brown Riggens was born in Etna Green, Indiana on April 11, 1875. He lived in Bourbon and Plymouth before making his home in Culver in 1904. During the Spanish-American War he served in 157th Regiment of Indiana. He also served as a Captain of the Liberty Guard during World War I. He was married to Cora Geiselman on December 7, 1902. They had three daughters; Lorena, Lucille and Mary. Mr. Riggens was employed as a barber at the Culver Military Academy. He also served as a Justice of the Peace from 1920-1950. He was active member of several civic, fraternal and professional organizations. He was a member of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, a past Master of the Henry H. Culver F.& A.M., a charter member of the Emily Jane Culver O.E.S. and a member of the Chapter and Council in Plymouth. He was also a member of the United Spanish American War Veterans Association, the Culver Lions Club, Finney-Shilling Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Marshall County Bar Association. Mr. Riggens died on December 5, 1950 in Culver, Indiana and is buried in the Culver Masonic Cemetery.

Submitted by: Kim Wroblewski


Among the self-made men of this county may be mentioned the subject of this biography; he launched out into the world just as his youth merged into manhood, and, with few advantages to assist him, has steadily fought his way to a position of independence. He was born at Mechlinberg-Swerin, Germany, on the 12th of January, 1829. Under the liberal school system of his native country, he enjoyed a good education, and after finishing his school life, became a tailorís apprentice. By the time he attained his majority he had completed his apprenticeship, and, with his trade as his sole dependence, he started to the United States, reaching New York on the 3rd of May, 1850; he secured employment at his trade, and after acquiring a knowledge of our business usages, embarked in business for himself. Eleven years passed, during which he met with success, and acquired some property in New York. At the close of that period, in 1861, he started for a tour through California and Oregon, and upon his return trip visited Mexico, Central and South America, and reached New York in 1864, having virtually circumnavigated the Western Hemisphere. During the voyage, he met a gentleman who was engaged at that time in the hardware trade at Bourbon, Marshall Co., Ind., and having already decided to locate in the West, it was partly through the influence of this gentleman that he selected Bourbon for his future home. He arrived at that town in the spring of 1865, and on the 15th of April of that year, opened a merchant tailor establishment in a very small room, from which he was soon forced to remove by his increasing trade. Year by year his business grew, and with it he combined the purchase and sale of lumber, amounting to many thousands of dollars annually. He managed his business affairs with a master hand, and his careful guardianship of his interests resulted in great gain to himself; he became the possessor of an ample fortune, and several years ago retired from active business. Since then his time has been devoted to the supervision of his property. While he has always been prudent and economical, he has been free from any disposition to hoard a fortune already ample, and has dispensed his bounty liberally in aid of educational and charitable institutions, and public benefits of all kinds. He is a public-spirited man, and takes a lively interest in the improvement of the county.

He has been twice married; first in New York, in 1856, to Miss Catharine BOYLE, a native of New Jersey, who died in 1872, leaving two daughters, Mamie A. and Lucina; in 1874, he was married to Miss Madie A. WALLACE, his present companion. Mr. Searís political affiliations have always been with the Democratic party, and while he has never sought office, he has twice consented to serve in a public capacity; first, as Trustee of Bourbon, which position he filled creditably for two years. In January, 1880, he was appointed County Commissioner to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of H. Barnaby, and in the fall of that year was elected for the remainder of the unexpired term. Personally, he is esteemed by all who know him, and words of eulogy from the strangerís pen can add none to the high regard entertained for him by the citizens of the county in which he has passed a portion of his life.

Submitted by: Karen Marks
Source: History of Marshall County, Indiana 1836 to 1880 by Daniel McDonald, printed in Chicago by Kingman Brothers, Lakeside Building, 1881


John and Eliza Sheaks

Written by Eva M. Martin

Jacob SHEAKS (circa 1760-182?) emigrated from Germany just before the Revolutionary War settling in Northampton-Berks Counties of Pennsylvania. After serving in the war, Jacob married Elizabeth in the 1780ís and they became members of the Zion Lutheran Church. On 25 August 1819 Jacob entered 90 acres of land in Genoa Township, Delaware County, Ohio. Here he build a dam and mill on Big Walnut Creek. Jacobís son, John SHEAKS Sr. and his wife, Eliza PRALL migrated from Delaware County, Ohio circa 1855 to Polk Township, Marshall County. They came with their children in acovered wagon pulled by a yoke of oxen.

They purchased 200 acres of land for $1.50 per acre from a Mr. ELS who had bought the land for $1.25 per acre.

When they first settled there, the land was very swampy and covered with trees. Trees were cut, swamps drained, then land was farmed and became tillable.

Their home was of logs with a huge fireplace, and it was said Johnís wife, Eliza, who was of great strength and large of stature, could hoist her end of a log, along with John, to toss it in the fireplace.

John was born in Pennsylvania 8 February 1801. Eliza, his wife, was born 24 May 1810 in Kentucky or Pennsylvania. They married approximately 1830 in Ohio.

John and Eliza had 12 children: Jacob, who died in infancy in Delaware County, Ohio; Mary, who married Charles WATERS and migrated to Marshalltown, Iowa and had six children; Susan married Benjamin CLARK, staying in Indiana, and had five children; Isaac married Ann Eliza BARBER and had four children. She was the daughter of Joshua T. BARBER who came to Marshall County in 1848 and gave the land for the first log school to be built which served its purpose in educating many children. They were neighboring farmers of the Sheaks. After Ann Elizaís death, Isaac married Amanda Jane PORTS and had four children; Julia married Ashbel M. BROWN and had one son, and years later, married John L. MURDOCK and raised one foster daughter, Jennie; Sarah married Edwin LANE and had eight children; Sanford married Eliza BUSSARD and always lived on a portion of the original homeplace, and had nine children; Hannah married Oliver F. ALEXANDER, lived in Indiana and had four children; Rose Ann (Rosanna), married David STONER and moved to Michigan and had four children; John married Mary Jane BROWN and had eight children; Philip died at age 18 of typhoid fever; Louisa died at the age of 11 months.

Several of the Sheaks, John Sr. and his sons, had neighboring farms near Teegarden in Polk Township, Marshall County. They had to go to Teegarden to pick up their mail.

Many of the family are buried in the Polk Township Cemetery located on Road #6 [U.S.6] near the Center Church, now known as the Wayside Chapel. Some of the tombstones are more than a century old.

Submitted by: Karen Marks
Source: History of Marshall County, Indiana, Sesquicentennial 1836-1986, Marshall County Historical Society, 1986, Taylor Publishing Company (commercial use of this information is prohibited.)


James M. Davis, a representative of a leading family of Walnut township, is the subject of the following sketch: Jacob Davis, his paternal grandfather, was born Pennsylvania, and was a son of a German emigrant who came to the United States at a very early day and settled in that state. Jacob wedded Rhoda Barnett and became the father of the following offspring: Isaac, Abner, Jacob, James, John, Ella, Mahala, Mary, Belinda, Maria and Annie. The parents in an early day settled in Belmont county, Ohio, and subsequently became residents of Henry county, Ind., where the mother died. Later the father located in Howard county, where his death occurred. This early pioneer was a soldier of the war of 1812, and served under General Harrison. He was present and witnessed Col. Dick Johnson shoot the Indian chief Tecumseh, who was shot in the left breast as he arose from behind a thistle patch, dressed in a crude leather suit from which, the dust flew when struck by the bullet. John Davis, our subject's father, was born in Belmont county, Ohio, and died in Marshall county, Ind., November 30, 1869, aged sixty-one years two months and fifteen days. With his parents he came to Indiana, and located in Henry county, where he was united in marriage with Mary Atkinson, who was born in Belmont county, Ohio, dying in Marshall county February 9, 1882, aged sixty-one years four months and fourteen days. The above marriage resulted in the birth of the following children: Jane, Daniel B., James M., Rhoda E., John J., Charles, George W., Hannah M., Hulda, Olive O., Rose A. and Elias. From their marriage up to 1846 the parents resided in Henry county, Ind. From 1846 up to 1862 they resided. in Howard county. In November of 1862 they located in Walnut township, of this county, and here continued till called away by death. The father was a farmer by occupation, and well-respected citizen. James M. Davis, the direct subject of this sketch, was born in Henry county, Ind., November 1, 1842, and was reared and educated on a farm. Upon reaching his majority he began life for himself with a capital of $1,000. For over seven years he was engaged in buying and selling of cattle, but he has for some time been engaged in farming and moving of houses, moving annually about fifty houses. October 8, 1866, he was united in marriage with Martha E. Dawson, who was born in Fayette county, Ind., May 12th, 1848. Unto the above marriage there have been born four children, namely: Elnora F., Mary M., Cora B. and James D. Mr. Davis enlisted April 5, 1865, in Company A, Fifty-third Indiana volunteer infantry, and was discharged Septemer 3, 1865. Mr. Davis is a member of the Christian Temperance Union and in politics a democrat.

Submitted by: Marilynn Howard
History of Indiana; Special Edition for Marshall County, Vol.II, 1890, Brant, Fuller & Co. , pgs. 243-244


Richard Curtis, a prominent farmer of Walnut township, was born in Butler county, Ohio, July 6, 1844, and is a son of George and Elener (Carter) Curtis. The father was born in Scotland in 1772, and died in Miami county, Ind., in 1853. The mother was born in Ohio, in 1804, and died in Marshall county, Ind., in 1883. Their marriage was consummated in Ohio, where they resided till 1849, when they located in Miami county, this state. To their marriage was born: George, Susannah, Maria and Sophia (twins), Andrew, Richard, Nancy, Jane, James, Rebecca and Wilson Curtis. George Curtis was a tailor by trade, and a farmer by occupation. After his death his widow and her children remained in Miami county till in 1865, when they removed to Marshall county, where the motherís death occurred many years afterward. The oldest son was the only one of the children that did not come to the county. Richard Curtis was reared and educated on a farm, and has followed agricultural pursuits with good success all his life. March 1, 1869, he was united in marriage with Mrs. Jane Robey (nee Davis), daughter of John Davis, a pioneer settler of Marshall county. She was born in Henry county, Ind., December 2, 1839, and by her first marriage was the mother of two children, namely: Laura E. and Addie C. Robey. The marriage with Mr. Curtis has been blessed by the birth of the following children: Charles H., Clarry L., Harvey J. and Luther J. Mr. Curtis is a member of the German Baptist church, and Mrs. Curtis belongs to the Progressive branch of the same denomination. The parents have taken much interest in the education of the children, of which Charles H. is a teacher in the public schools of the county.

Submitted by: Marilynn Howard
History of Indiana; Special Edition for Marshall County, Vol.II, 1890, Brant, Fuller & Co. , pgs. 242-243


Mrs. Mahala Borton was born June 28, 1807, at Steubenville, Ohio, died November 20th, 1894, at Bourbon, Ind., aged 78 years and 5 months. Funeral Services were held on Friday, Nov. 30th, at the residence of her son-in-law, Dr. L. Johnson whose family she had lived during the past few years of her life. A brief service was held the same day at the home of her son Dr. T. A. Borton of Plymouth, with whom she had made her home a part of her time during the last six years, after which the body of the dear departed one was laid to rest in the Oak Hill Cemetery at Plymouth, to wait the resurrection morn.

A husband, three sons and a daughter had preceded her to that better land, and one son and three daughters left to mourn the loss of a loving and faithful mother and friend.

During her last bodily affliction, which covered many years, she showed a true Christian patience and fortitude, never loosing faith in the promises of God's word which were her comfort and joy, thus commending to all by a beautiful an almost saintly life, the sweet comforts and joys of the religion of the Lord Jesus. It can be truly said of her: She hath finished her work, that which should be the ideal of every mother the rearing and training of a family that will honor God and bless humanity. The departed has immortalized her work, not on a crumbling monument of marble, but she hath reared her memorial on the hearts of her children, earning a place for herself among the world's noblest benefactors - our mothers. She came to her grave in a full age, and had entered into that rest prepared for the people of God. Pasora

Mahala Nash was born June 29, 1807 in Steubinville, Ohio. She married Samuel Borton, Jr. on March 29, 1827 in Jefferson County, Ohio. She died at the home of her son in Bourbon, Marshall County, Indiana, per the obit, November 29, 1894. She was the mother of Albert, Amos, T. Artemis, Elizabeth, Louisa, Jane, Rhoda Ann, and Israel.

Mahala was the daughter of Stephen Nash and Mary McBride. Besides Mahala, there were 10 other children.

Submitted by: Arlene McLennan


Deb Murray