Into the extreme northern end of Tobin Township had come Thomas Cummings from Virginia as early as 1807, and inside the next three years he was followed by his son, Uriah Cummings who, on his way to Indiana, had married in Kentucky, Sarah Lanman, like himself a native of the Old Dominion. They located upon land which the father had entered, and became the parents of four sons and seven daughters, so that their descendants are numerous and found in other townships as well as on the original homestead, the name of Uriah having been handed down through each generation to the present.

From 1815 to 1829 Uriah Cummings I operated a saw- and grist-mill on Poison Creek, afterward conducting a store in a building on his farm until he died, July 30, 1831. His donation, in 1816, of forty acres, had secured the location of the court house at Rome, but the condition attaching thereto, (providing for reversion to his heirs in case Rome ceased to be the county seat,) was disregarded when the county offices were moved, in 1859, to Cannelton, and through some technicality the claim of the Cummings heirs to the property was defeated.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


John Hargis, who had come from Kentucky with his wife, Nancy Allen, among the pioneers, was unfortunate in losing the land he had entered in Section 13, owing to an accidentally erroneous description of its location, only discovered and taken advantage of by other parties after he had made considerable improvement of the property.

He bought other land near by and for several years operated a large horse-mill, the power whereof was conducted by a band of raw bull's-hide, with the hair still on, cut out in a circle beginning at the centre of the hide. This business was so profitably managed that he was the owner of a half-section (320 acres) of land at his death, October 17, 1838. His widow survived him forty years, dying at an advanced age in June, 1878. Their descendants through twelve children are of great number, scattered through many states, besides represented in the old neighborhood and connected by marriage with numerous Perry County families.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


William Mitchell founded the third town in Perry County, on Section 33, Township 5, South, Range 2, West, which he had taken up in 1818, after coming from Virginia through Kentucky, with his wife, Mary Bruner, and their several children. On November 4, 1835, John Cassidy, then conducting a store at the mouth of Oil Creek (but who had been a County Survyor in 1819) laid out for William Mitchell a town-site comprising 21 lots 90 by 60 feet in dimensions, with a 50-foot street (Water Street) along the river front, and Second Street, parallel there with, 33 feet wide, one square back. These were intersected at right angles by three alleys, 16 feet in width.

Of this plat, however, the encroaching river has devoured so much that one can scarcely recognize today the original plan as recorded December 4, 1835, on Page 18, of Deed Book B, by Samuel Frisbie, Recorder, per Joshua B. Huckeby, deputy. It has always been told that Samuel Frisbie was the town's sponsor, choosing its name to honour the Old Work home of his ancestors (Derby).

Almost directly after the first house was built in Derby, William Mitchell erected a distillery on (and partially in) the hillside. When in operation its daily output was between twenty and thirty gallons of whiskey and brandy, for which a ready local market was found at a price far from prohibitive, twelve-and-a-half cents, or "a bit" per gallon.

After some twelve years the building was turned into the first chair-factory in Perry County and used a such for several years by Jesse Inman. He employed three of four other men, each of whom turned out a dozen chairs as a daily average, the work being performed entirely by hand.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


To the Hon. Francis Yates Carlile, of New Orleans, who arrived during the early summer of 1840, is due the renascence of Coal Haven, and his descendants may justly claim for him the distinction of having been the real founder of Cannelton, since his was the executive ability which placed upon an ultimately permanent basis the community which today exists as an enduring monument to his energy.

He was born about 1812 in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of William and Sarah (Yates) Carlile, both of whom died in his infancy, so he was reared by his maternal grandfather, Esquire Yates, of Salem, Massachusetts, who gave him the advantage of an education at Harvard. His great-grandfather, Thomas Carlile, had come from Scotland in the Eighteenth Century and was a sterling patriot, appointed in 1777 as Captain of an Artillery company in Providence, and reappointed in 1780.

After entering upon mining operations in Indiana Francis Y. Carlile habitually spent his winters in New Orleans, engaged in real estate, forwarding and commission business, meanwhile doing much in the field of journalism, a profession which he later followed, after leaving Cannelton, for several years in Evansville and Memphis, where he died February 16, 1866.

For thirty-five years he was survived by his widow, to whom he had been married, September, 1851, in New Orleans, Anna Lousie Howard, of Matagorda, Texas, a duaghter of Charles and Anna Walden (Blount) Howard, formerly of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Mrs. Howard was the granddaughter of Jacob Walden, who was on board the Ranger with John Paul Jones and was by his side during his battle with the Drake. He also piloted Washington's army across the Delaware and in Trumbull's celebrated painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware," Jacob Walden's is the figure next to that of Washington.

A gifted woman, intellectually her husband's peer, coming as a bride to join him in establishing their residence beside the Ohio River at the edge of the village he had created, Mrs. Carlile made "Elm Park"earliest notable individual home in Cannelton. Three children were born to them - Francis Howard, Grace Lee (Mrs. Bolton-Smith) and Nathaniel Endicott, the two elder surviving as residents of Memphis.

An old print of the estate shows the mansion to have combined the characteristic Southern feature of a wide gallery surrounding the lower floor with many gables in the upper story, while the carriage-drive and ornamental plantings bespeak a studied attention to landscape gardening, them everywhere in its infancy, though with the famous Downing as its American foster-father.

Some few of the old cedars outlived the dwelling itself, which was destroyed by fire during the seventies, after passing through several changes of ownership. A singular fatality has seemed thenceforward to overhang the place, three other houses on the site having been burned in succession, so the spot is now untenated, its gardens a mere field, though a part of its osage orange hedge has grown to tree-like proportions.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


In 1843 James Boyd, a Scotch-Irishman of Boston, who had just become a shareholder in the company (American Cannel Coal Company), erected a large store building on the river-front close to the north bank of Casselberry Creek, and somewhat later built his residence in the block below, between Taylor and Washington Streets; a long, low structure which stood until the early seventies, shaded by a picturesque weeping willow tree harmonizing with its cottage type of architecture. This house is shown in a lithographic view of Cannelton, of which only one copy is known to exist, reproduced from a pencil drawing made about 1850-52, from the cliff back of Hawesville by a Louisville artist whose name is not preserved, although Captain Joseph W. Carlton, of Hawesville, who was a lad with him when he made the sketch, recalled the circumstances with perfect distinction sixty years later.

The burning of Boyd's store by incendiarism led to an indictment for arson against William Ritchey, who was brought for trila before Judge Embree in Rome at the May term of court, 1844, James Lockhart as prosecutor represented the state, Samuel Ingle, of Evansville, appearing for the defendant, who received a two-year sentence upon conviction. An appeal to the Supreme Court was taken by Ingle, on the ground that no value of the store burned had been alleged in the declaration. A reversal of decision was handed down, followed by a re-indictment and a second trial which resulted in Ritchey's acquittal.

Close to the former site, or at the south-east corner of Taylor and Front Streets, another store was erected, of such durable materials as to be practically fire-proof, its massive rock walls and slate roof - with the inscription "Built by James Boyd, 1844" deeply carved into the stone lintel of the central doorway - remaining a landmark along the river-front for three-score years, or long after its disuse as a business house. In 1904 the Cannelton Flouring Mills put up their modern four-story manufacturing edifice on the Boyd corner and a portion of the original stonework is now comprised in the walls of their boiler room.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


Solomon Lamb was the senior of the others (first Board of School Examiners for Perry County), both in years of age and of residence in the county, having come about 1808-09 from New York to Indiana with his parents, John and Beulah (Curtis) Lamb, whose eldest son he was. Born July 21, 1780, in Albany County, New York, he was married May 26, 1811, to Elizabeth Shepherd, a native of Kentucky. Like his father, he became the parent of twelve children: 1. Isabelle; 2. John; 3. William Shepherd; 4. Helen; 5. Amanda; 6. Thomas; 7. Robert Negus; 8. Solomon, Jr.; 9. Israel; 10. Eliza; 11. Ezra B.; 12. Cynthia.

He lived first in Tobin Township, but soon afterward in Troy, when the county was officially organized. He was the first Sheriff, Recorder and Clerk, all in 1814, serving only two years in the first-named capacity, but holding the other two for a period of twenty-three years. His son, William S. Lamb, succeeded in 1837 to the position, which he held fourteen years, the longest tenure on record in Perry County of one office in a single family, father and son. In 1841 William S. Lamb also took his father's place as School Examiner, but the last office held by Solomon Lamb (County Commissioner, 1845,) does not appear to have been transmitted to any of the family at his death in 1848.

William S. Lamb became a quartermaster with a rank of major during the War Between the States, and his direct descendants now reside in Gibson County. May lines of descent keep up the blook of John Lamb, Sr. and Solomon Lamb, Sr., in Indiana as well as other states, and near the old home place in Tobin Township a wide relationship has come down from the marriage of Israel Lamb, Sr., and Margaret ("Peggy") Winchel, a daughter of John and Rachel (Avery) Winchel. Israel Lamb was twice chosen Justice of the Peace, in 1814 and 1817, and in 1818 another brother, John Lamb, was elected Sheriff.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


Samuel Frisbee, born about 1779, in Plymouth, Litchfield County, Connecticut, who had been admitted to the bar in 1819, was one of the most notable and successful of the early resident lawyers and was elected County Treasurer in 1822. At the election of 1828 he was chosen Representative and was sent to the upper house two years later as joint-Senator. In 1833, 1835 and 1840 he was elected Justice of the Peace, thus deriving the title of "Squire", which clung to him the remainder of his life, and in the Constitutional Convention of 1850 he was Perry County's delegate, elected by one vote over his opponent, Dr. Robert G. Cotton, of Troy.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


Resentful over their loss of the court house to Rome in 1818 the Trojans brought to bear a strong pressure on the convention, their leader being John P. Dunn, who had removed in 1846 to Troy from Dearborn County, his birthplace. He was a man of powerful personality, the father of eighteen children by three marriages, and was delegate from the senatorial district embracing Perry and Spencer. But the insertion of the aforesaid clause ("The provision contained in the new constitution that whenever the citizens of Perry and Spencer Counties became so inclined they might establish metes and bounds of a new county, to be formed out of about equal parts of each, not to exceed one-third thereof, and that an election should then be held whereby a majority of the voters in both counties should determine whether a new county should be formed") was the full measure of success gained, so far as Troy was concerned. Although Dunn himself was chosen Auditor of State in the elections of 1852 the local result was crushingly adverse to the Trojan's fond hopes, to-wit: For a new county, 311; against a new county, 1,041.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


Augustus Bessonies, who was born at Alzac, Departement do Lot, France, on the day of Napoleon's final eclipse at Waterloo, June 17, 1815, was the chosen instrument for this work, and in him lived again the dauntless courage of his consecrated predecessors. As a lad he attended the preparatory school of Montfaucon, going thence to the seminary of Isse, near Paris, for the classics and natural philosophy.

In 1836 Simon Guilaume Gabriel Brute, first Roman Catholic Bishop of Vincennes (with jurisdiction then covering all Indiana) paid a visit to Isse during a trip abroad, and although young Bessonies had already been received as a postulant for foreign mission by the Lazarist Order, upon the advice of his director, Father Pinault, he offered his services to the visiting prelate for his far-off American diocese.

Great was the joy of Bishop Brute. Impulsively embracing Bessonies, he exclaimed: :Je suis heureux a penser d'un autel nouveau dans ma chere Indiana." ("I am happy to think of a new altar in my dear Indiana.") "But," he added, "I have no seminary at Vincennes. Remain, therefore at St. Sulpice, and in three years I will send for you."

So he did, in 1839, but it was one of the latest acts in his long episcopal career. When Bessonies reached Havre to embark for America, the same sailing vessel in which he had engaged passage had brought to France the sad tidings of the good bishop's death. By the time the sorrowing deacon reached Indiana, October 21, 1839, Bishop Brute had been committed to his last resting-place. In the crypt of a mortuary chapel beneath the high altar of St. Xavier's Cathedral his ashes repose to this day, and it is easy to feel that his spritual presence was not far distant, to add its intangible benediction when Augustus Bessonies was elevated to the priesthood, February 22, 1840, by the Right Reverend Celestine Rene de la Hailandiere, the new Bishop of Vincennes.

Work among the Indians of Cass County, near Logansport where the Pottawatomies and Miamis under Chief Godfrey long dwelt on their "Richardville" reservation, was desired by Father Bessonies, but the decision of his bishop set him instead to the forests of Perry County as the first recorded minister of the Roman Catholic faith therein. With that far-seeing ecclesiastical policy which in countless other instances has secured to the Church of Rome land grants of strategic value, Bishop de la Hailandiere had entered, or soon entered, a tract near geographical centre of Perry County and it is no reflection upon his judgement that its destiny has not been all that he anticipated.

Difficult, indeed must have been the beginning of Father Bessonies' pastoral labours in that almost unbroken forest which yet covered practically all of Southern Indiana, where clearing were few, established highways unknown, and the only travel possible by means of the blazed trees marking a course through the tall timber from one place to another. Furthermore, although a graduated seminarian, the brave young priest's acquaintance with the English tongue was still rudimentary, while the point toward his steps were turned was as yet unnamed, even in Perry County, and the way thither form Vincennes might have puzzled a seasoned backwoodsman.

A few years earlier, however, the Rev. Maurice de St. Palais (of noble French lineage, and later third Bishop of Vincennes), had established a mission upon the banks of Patoka River in Dubois county, for the German families living near so Father Bessonies at length found himself safely in charge of the Rev. Joseph Kundek, of Jasper, to whom he was recommended for instructions as to the final stages of his somewhat vague journey.

Father Kundek had had the advantage of ten years' forest experience and it is told that he had himself blazed an original trail from Jasper to the site which he chose in 1840 for a new town, naming it Ferdinand, for the Emperor then reigning in Austria-Hungary. He drew, therefore, with his own hand a map, indicating by unmistakable natural landmarks such as rocks, creeks and hills, the route which Father Bessonies followed to his destination.

Nor was this the only instance wherein the revered Jasper priest marked out a path for his younger clerical brother, there being a distinct parallel in the extensive work carried on by the two men, with a strenuous activity unsparing of personal strength. Ill health, developed through exposure, brought Father Kundek's earthly life to its end December 4, 1857, and the magnitude of his labours lying altogether outside Perry County may not be herein dwelt upon.

Father Bessonies, however, was one of those "men - so strong that they come to four-score years," living until February 22, 1901, being at that time Vicar General to the Right Reverend Francis Silas Chatard in Indianapolis, and an honourary Monsignor of the Vatican household, a title conferred upon him January 22, 1884, by Pope Leo XIII.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


A kinsman of the William H. English family had already located in the tiny hamlet (Leopold), Doctor William H. Drumb, its first resident physician, if resident be the correct term describing a rural practitioner whose range of patients was scarcely narrower than the circle of Father Bessonies parishioners. Doctor Drumb and William H. English were first cousins on th maternal line, grandsons of Philip Eastin, "a lieutenant in the Fourth Virginia Regiment in the War of the American Revolution," to quote the inscription on the tombstone marking the sport of his burial, 1817, in the Riker's Ridge (or Hills) Cemetery, a romantic spot overlooking the Ohio River, in Jefferson County, some few miles northeast of Madison.

William P. Drumb and his wife, Sarah A. Stevens, were the parents of seven children, the eldest son, Elisha English Drumb, born May 20, 1841, in Leopold, and educated for three years at West Point, becoming a successful lawyer and conspicuous politician in Cannelton, the father being the first County Clerk who lived there after it became the county seat in 1859. Through deaths and removals the children became widely scattered, none of the third generation now residing in Perry County.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


Almost equally early came Peter and Angeline (Emery) Casper, with their twelve children, from Wurtemburg, the father having been a soldier under Napoleon. They were among the few German settlers of the locality. Somewhat later Peter and Margaret (Devillez) George, who were natives, respectively, of Hachy and Nobresart, Luxembourg, arrived with a family of ten children, so both these names are now extensively represented.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


Job Hatfield, one of several brothers in an Ohio family, came down the river about 1842 in a store-boat, and after remaining for a year or two afloat though tied to the bank, with increasing trade at this point, finally landed his boat above high water mark and conducted the store as a fixed establishment, moving his family into a log dwelling which had been commenced by the Martins.

From that time to the present the Hatfield family through the lines of Job, Lorenzo Dow and William, have been associated with the frowning cliffs of "Buzzard's Roost," which come close to the river north of the rich bottom land between Oil Creek and the Ohio. In earlier days they were of important connection with the mercantile, professional and political affairs of Perry County, but the family name and stock is now more largely represented in Spencer, Warrick and Vanderburg Counties.

When a mail route was established in 1848 between Leavenworth and Cannelton, extending to Rockport, Job Hatfield was appointed postmaster and the settlement appears under the name Rono. This was said to be the name of an old dog once owned by Jesse Martin, which lived to an extraordinary age. Whether or not a true story, the hamlet remained as Rono until 1896, when the postal department changed it to Magnet, the present title.

The most important, if not the only, commercial interest of early Rono was the slaughtering and packing trade carried on for many years by the Hatfields, a massive stone smoke-house, built after a disastrous fire in 1856, yet standing in testimony to the extensive operations. They also conducted a business in general produce and merchandise, shipping flatboats South like most other dealers of their time.

Job Hatfield was the last treasurer of Perry County who held office in the old court-house at Rome, and an interesting story, not without its exciting side, is recalled concerning an incident of his term, 1856-1860.

There were then no banks in the county, available as depositories, and the county funds were kept in such places of security as the treasurer could devise. On one occasion of taxpaying, when certain exceptionally large sums had bee paid in, some circumstances aroused Treasurer Hatfield's suspicions, so that he determined to leave no money in the rather fragile county safe that night.

Carrying home, therefore, after dark all the coin and bills, in a huge sack whose weight was about all he could handle, he put it into a coal-scuttle which he next fille to the brim with loose coal, completely hiding the money-bag. Then calmly going to sleep, the first new to greet his awakening was that the treasurer's office had been "robbed," the sage broken into and all its contents stolen.

Hatfield received the startling messages with no sign of disturbance, merely saying that he would be at the court-house for business at his usual hour. And so he was, quietly bringing with him the money which he had in private removed from its place of concealment, so that no one, not even his immediate family, knew until long afterward just where the county treasure had been hidden over night.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


The first physician of Rono was Dr. Hiram M. Curry, born September 23, 1827, in Brown County, Ohio, a son of William and Hannah (Adkins) Curry, who were natives, respectively, of Virginia and New York. After attending an academy in Maysville, Kentucky, and Shurtleff College, Alton, Illinois, he took a three years' course in Ohio Medical College, soon afterward locating in Perry County, where for two years he was associated with Dr. William P. Drumb, of Leopold.

Later, he practiced alone at Rono, and for one year (1853) at Rome while filling out the unexpired term of William Van Winkle as auditor. Still later he lived at Grandview, at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Cannelton, and lastly in Spencer County again. His first marriage was to Julia A. Hatfield, of Rono, May 18, 855; Letitia Lamar, of Spencer County, becoming his second wife in 1864; and Fannie W. Smith, his third, in 1883. The offspring of these three unions keep up the Curry name elsewhere in Southern Indiana.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


In 1849 Cannelton's first resident lawyer was admitted, Charles H. Mason, who had just taken up his abode there after the customary short period spent in Kentucky. He was a native of New Hampshire (Walpole, his Cheshire County, birthplace, being also General Seth Hunt's home town), belonging to that old Colonial family of the Captain John Mason who with Sir Fernando Gorges had founded, in 1622, the royal province of "Laconia" under charter from James I. It was after a division of this grant that Captain Mason bestowed upon his portion the name New Hampshire, to commemorate the English shire of Hants (Hampshire) where the Masons had long held estates.

Charles Holland Mason, born August 9, 1826, was the son of Joseph and Harriet (Ormsby) Mason, and received a thorough classical education to fit him for the law, a professions for which he seemed to possess a hereditary bent. A near collateral relative, to whom he bore a striking personal resemblance, was the Hon. Jeremiah Mason, of Boston, for many years the law partner of Daniel Webster.

No resident lawyer practicing before the Perry Circuit Court, or upon the Common Pleas bench, where he sat twice during the existence of that court, ever ranked higher than Charles H. Mason. Of distinctively oratorical temperament, profound in legal lore, he was a strong speaker, witty, high-minded and eloquent. He founded Perry County's first newspaper, the Cannelton Economist, in 1849, maintaining it at a remarkable standard while its editor, and in later life was a constant contributor of brilliant miscellany to many journals and some of the best magazines. Under the nom-de-plume of "Sandstone" his writings, purporting to come from Rock Island, were a feature of Cannelton journalism during the sixties and seventies, along the same line of humorous character sketches which ha given "Abe Martin" a place in current literature.

March 21, 1852, in Cannelton, Charles H. Mason was married to Rachel Littell (Huckeby) Wright, a daughter of Joshua B. and Rebecca (Lang) Huckeby, but no children were born to the union, which was of thirty years duration, terminated February 26, 1883, by Mrs. Mason's death. In 1890 Judge Mason, who had continued to reside in Cannelton, was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison as United States Commissioner for the Indian Territory (before the organization of Oklahoma) with headquarters at Vinita, where he died in June, 1894.

Perry County
A History
by Thomas de la Hunt
The W.K. Stewart Company, Indianapolis
Published 1916


Deb Murray