Amos R. Williams attended school in Nottingham township until he had attained the age of twenty-one years, and at the age of twenty-two took a one-third interest
in a saw-mill in partnership with his brother George and Henry KIRKWOOD. This firm operated the mill for three years, when Amos R. and Kirkwood bought out the interest of George Williams; six months later Amos R. Williams bought out Kirkwood and conducted the mill on his own account for six months, when he traded it for eighty acres of land in section 9, this being the east half of the quarter section on which he now resides, and of which but a small portion had been cleared. He had previously owned the forty acres now belonging to Amos GEHRETT, but he sold this tract and bought the west half of his present farm and now owns one hundred and sixty acres in one compact body. On his original tract of eighty acres there were no improvements, save a small frame house and an old log barn, very little fencing and no tiling. Mr. Williams, however, set strenuously to work to make his place worth living on, but his health gave way and in 1882 he moved
to Bluffton, Indiana, where he resided two years and then returned to his farm, his health having been restored. In 1893 Mr. Williams built one of the finest barns in his neighborhood, and in 1897 erected a palatial residence. Besides his farm, Mr. Williams has an interest in a string of drilling tools, and his personal assessment for 1902 reached sixteen hundred dollars.
March 25, 1875, Amos R. Williams was united in marriage with Miss Mary KIRKWOOD, daughter of William and Susan (GEHRETT) KIRKWOOD, natives of Ohio, but early settlers of Wells county, Indiana. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Williams has been blessed with nine children, namely; Oliver J., who was born March 27, 1876, died September 3, 1877; William A., born March 11, 1878, married Mary FOREMAN, and resides in Nottingham township; John F., born November 20, 1879, died August 2, 1880; Verne, born August 4, 1881; Pearl, born November 3, 1883; Delbert, born September 15,
1885; Clem, born April 28, 1887; Samuel, born September 11, 1889, and Anna, born September 3, 1892.
Mr. Williams is a member of Lodge No. 752, I.O.O.F., at Poneto, and has filled the chairs in Petroleum Lodge No. 721; his grown daughters are members of Rebekah Lodge No. 571. In politics Mr. Williams is a stanch Republican and has several times served as a delegate from his district in the county convention. He and family are among the most highly esteemed residents of Wells county, and well deserve the respect in which they are held. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have in their possession an old parchment sheepskin deed, bearing the signature of President Martin van Buren and executed November 10, 1840.
Biographical Memoirs of Wells Co., IN, 1903, B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Pg 297
Submitted by: Colleen Rutledge
WILLIAM C. ARNOLD
William C. Arnold was born February 15, 1853 in Vera Cruz, Wells county, Indiana, and is the son of August and Augusta (Jan) Arnold, who were natives of Saxony, Germany, where they were married and whence they came to America in 1846. The father, who was a tailor, followed his trade for a short time in Ohio, as he did also for five years at Vera Cruz, Indiana. In 1853 he traded for forty acres of woodland in Adams county, paying a small difference in cash, and there he passed the remainder of his life, dying in April, 1865, leaving a widow (who died in 1899) with seven children, viz: Frank, a farmer in Adams county; Malinda, widow of Christopher ASHBAUCHER; Charles a resident of Wells county; William C; Sarah, wife of Robert CASE, of Adams county; Louis, a resident also of Wells county, and Ella, who was married to George F. MARKLEY, but is now deceased.
W. C. Arnold attended the public schools until he was seventeen years of age,
but his oldest brother being in the army, the care of the family fell chiefly on him and his brother Charles. At the age mentioned he began to work in the saw-mill of Hull & Blackstone, in Harrison township, and for four years performed his duty faithfully and to the satisfaction of is employers. He was next employed by Charles COLE in a saw-mill in Liberty township, holding the position nineteen years. He purchased property in Liberty Center in 1881 and built for himself a neat dwelling. In 1886 he purchased thirty acres, besides which he owns a valuable tract adjoining the village. February 15, 1901, Mr. Arnold bought the half interest of A. B. TINKLE in the hardware store in Liberty Center, since when he has been associated with James W. JACKSON in a lucrative trade in a general stock of assorted hardware.
October 13, 1876, Mr. Arnold was married to Miss Isabella HIGMAN a native of Wells county, born June 23, 1858, a daughter of Clem and Martha Higman,
natives of Virginia but both now deceased, the mother having passed the closing years of life at the home of Mr. Arnold. Mr. and Mrs. Arnold have two children: Martha, who is married to George RUSSELL, a farmer of Wells county, and has two children, Gerold and Ruth Irene; and Louis. Mr. and Mrs. Arnold are members of the Baptist church, of which he is trustee and to the support of which they freely contribute. He is also a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge at Liberty Center, of which he has served as treasurer during his entire membership, and he is likewise a member of the encampment at Bluffton. He is a life-long Democrat. For five years he served as assessor of Liberty township, and was then elected trustee, a position he also held for five years. During his incumbency of this office the school-houses at Liberty Center and Poneto were erected, and these schools, being graded, are considered among the best in the county. In every position he has performed
his duty conscientiously and with credit to himself as well as to the satisfaction of all.
Biographical Memoirs of Wells Co., IN, 1903, B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Pg 547
Submitted by: Colleen Rutledge
JOHN G. DETTINGER
Many a man is unfortunate in having become skilled in a calling for which whenever afterwards had any use. Years of time and unlimited patience have been expended to acquire a thorough knowledge of business, only to find, when it has been secured, that a machine has been invented which does the work better and many times faster than it can be done by hand. In such an emergency all that is left to the unlucky artisan is to turn his talent to something else in the hope of not being forestalled in that also. It often happens that what the poor victim of fate looked upon as real misfortune later proved to be only a blessing in disguise. It proved so with John G. Dettinger, the subject of this sketch. In early life he learned the business of a nailer, or manufacturer of nails (by hand). At the time it was a most flourishing and remunerative calling. Within a few years after he became thoroughly skilled in the business, machinery so completely superseded hand work and nails became so inordinately cheap that no one but a crank or imbecile would think of having nails made by hand. The result was that John G. Dettinger, skilled nailer, found himself out of a job. He came to America, turned farmer in the woods of Ohio and Indiana and now in his declining years finds himself one hundred fold better off than he would have been if the business of making nails by hand had not completely collapsed.
John G. Dettinger was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, July 4, 1830. His parents were Samuel and Rosa (FRANK) Dettinger, natives of that country. Samuel Dettinger was well educated and a skilled mechanic, the manufacturer of nails by hand. It was good business, in which there was at that time unlimited employment. The family was not rich, but in very comfortable circumstances. They were members of the German Lutheran church and were the parents of eight children, four of whom are living, three in the fatherland and one, John G., here. Both
parents are dead, their entire life having been passed in their native land.
The benefit of a fair, common school education was accorded to John G. Dettinger. He attended school until he was fourteen years of age, and then went into the shop and worked with his father until he had learned the trade. At twenty-one he was forced into the military service of the country and required to serve for a period of six years. On being discharged he hastened across the waters to America, landing in New York July 1, 1857. Ten days after he landed he went over into the state of New Jersey and was united in marriage to Miss Mary KILE—rather a brief courtship, it might be thought, but not nearly so brief as on its face it seems. Miss Kile was a passenger on the same ship coming across the Atlantic and, as the voyage in those days was of many weeks’ duration, there was ample time for getting acquainted and coming to an understanding. When the first flood of connubial happiness had
subsided, the first thought of the young people was to seek remunerative employment. Making nails by hand had then ceased to be a calling in New York and vicinity, so Mr. Dettinger turned his attention to something else. he had some money and so wisely determined to go west. They located in Ohio, where they remained until 1886, when they moved to French township, Adams county, Indiana. He invested in a farm of fifty acres which he cultivated for some time, when he added, by purchase, forty acres more, which gave him a very desirable farm of ninety acres. Through his experience in Ohio and Indiana, Mr. Dettinger became a very expert farmer. he was always favored by good crops, because he always saw that plowing, planting an cultivating was well done. No year was permitted to elapse without laying aside a little from the receipts of the farm. These sums, as soon as they had assumed sufficient proportions, were always judiciously invested, generally in property that afforded
an income, investments which have all turned out well. In 1897 he sold his farm at a very gratifying figure and moved his family to Vera Cruz, being now retired from active labor. He has real estate and other property from which he derives a comfortable income, enough to supply his own wants and those dependent upon him.
To Mr. and Mrs. Dettinger fourteen children have been born, of whom twelve are living, viz: Maggie, Eliza, Christiana, John, Jacob, Charles, Caroline, Samuel, Mary, Rosa, Wilson and Emma. Maggie is the wife of W. D. MARKLEY and Eliza is the wife of John LOBSIGER. The family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, regular attendants upon its services and contribute liberally to the support of religion and charity. In politics Mr. Dettinger is a Democrat, but has the wisdom to know that most of the time spent in politics is time wasted. He is a man of very wide acquaintance, genial, liberal and companionable. Among people of his own nationality especially he
wields a wide influence and always for good. Any way that his life may be looked upon, financially, socially or domestically, it must be pronounced a success. He has reared a large family of bright, intelligent, moral sons and daughters who are a credit to their parentage and to the community in which they live. Had the business of making nails by hand continued to flourish, it is quite likely that Mr. Dettinger would have stayed at his forge and anvil and never have accomplished the tenth part of what he has. The total collapse of that business proved in the end indeed a blessing in disguise.
Biographical Memoirs of Wells Co., IN, 1903, B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Pg 358
Submitted by: Colleen Rutledge
ROBERT F. GAVIN
A single statement will sometimes give a far better insight into the character, disposition and mental trend of a person than would the contents of a volume. In these days of party strife, when the political organization is supreme, to say of a man or to have a man say of himself that he "never voted a straight ticket in his life" is to say that he is a man of independence, a man with the courage of his convictions, a man of marked and pronounced individuality. Robert F. Gavin, of Liberty township, makes that assertion regarding himself, and in doing so inadvertently pays himself a very high compliment. It is such votes as his that "turn the rascals out" of office and keep them out. Whatever the partisan politician may say, there is no question but that the independent voter is the true patriot.
Robert F. Gavin was born in the city of Galway, Ireland, December 11, 1838. His parents were George and Mary (BENTON) Gavin, he of Kings county and she of Queens county,
in the province of Leinster, Ireland. His parents were James and Mary Gavin, while her father was Henry BENTON, who for many years was connected with the customs department of the government in Ireland. February 23, 1838, George and Mary were united in marriage in the cathedral in the city of Galway, and for ten years thereafter he was connected with the royal Irish constabulary. The family emigrated to America in 1848, landing in the city of New York. They did not tarry long in New York, but came to Ross county, Ohio. There he engaged in farming until 1854, when they moved to Wells county, established themselves upon a rented farm in Harrison township. There they remained until 1857, when they moved to Liberty township, having bought eighty acres of land in the woods. When he arrived in America he possessed some five hundred or six hundred dollars, but by industry and economy he succeeded in accumulating a handsome property, so that at his death he was recognized as one of the most
substantial farmers of the county, being the owner of two hundred and ten acres. He died December 11, 1882, being survived by his wife about three years.
To George and Mary Gavin eight children were born, viz: Robert F.; Mary A., deceased; Sarah, wife of Harrison SNOW resides in Marshall county, Kansas; Henretta died on the voyage across the Atlantic and was buried at sea; James B. is a resident of Liberty township, Wells county; Henry J., and Eliza, both deceased.
Even as a child Robert F. Gavin was imbued with ambition and thirst for knowledge, and although but ten years old when he arrived in America, he was by no means a novice in the common school branches. In mathematics he especially excelled, for it is a current belief in Ireland that a man who pretends to learning without a thorough knowledge of figures, is either an impostor or an ignoramus. Problems in the "voster," the Irish arithmetic, that were quite easy of solution to him, would puzzle many an older head.
Here, he attended the district schools and had the benefit of one term in the seminary at Murray, Indiana. In 1859 he entered the school room as a teacher and continued that occupation each year during the winter months until 1871.
March 4, 1866, Mr. Gavin was united in marriage to Miss Martha McFARREN, daughter of Jacob and Rachael (FOUST) McFarren. Jacob McFarren was a native of Pennsylvania, the son of John and Elizabeth McFarren, also natives of that state. When Jacob was a small boy his parents emigrated to Highland county, Ohio, where he grew to manhood and married Rachael FOUST, March 4, 1841. That same year the young couple moved to Huntington county, Indiana, and there Martha was born, February 27, 1842. In 1857 Jacob moved to Liberty township, Wells county, where he and his wife spent the remainder of their days. She died October 10, 1873, his own demise occurring August 24, 1895. To them were born ten children, viz: Martha A., George F., John, deceased,
Andrew, Sarah, Jonathan, William, Mary, Emma and Joseph M. Soon after marriage the subject and his wife settled on the place now owned by M. JOHNSON. He had one horse, and his wife a cow, but he cleared some thirty acres and in 1871 sold to Absalom FUNK and purchased one hundred and fifty acres of the farm upon which he now lives. The land was wet, wild and wooded when he got it, but it is now a most desirable productive farm of three hundred acres. He also owns one hundred and sixty acres in section 24. In addition to managing his big farm and other interests, he has been interested in a grain elevator at Poneto for several years, his partners being H. A. MAN, Frank KIZER and William WALKER.
To Mr. and Mrs. Gavin eight children have been born, viz: George; Rachel A. married C. B. McADAM and they are the parents of two children, Arthur E. and an infant daughter, deceased; Mary J. married Charles P. EATON and died December 14, 1891; John F.; Winona married W. H. WEINLAND, May 22, 1895, and
they have one child, Iantha Ann; William; Austin, and James H., who died at the age of five years. John and Austin have attended the Marion Normal School, the former teaching for a time. Mr. Gavin is a member of the Methodist Protestant church, holding membership at Blanch chapel, of which he is trustee. his wife belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church at Poneto. He is a member of the I.O.O.F., being treasurer of Poneto Lodge No. 752. In politics he is as free and independent as the breezes of the plains, being bound by no party ties or hedged in by any organization. His vote is his own, not being influenced by any man, set of men, circles, clique or political party.
Biographical Memoirs of WellsCo., IN, 1903, B.F. Bowen, Publisher, Pg 526
Submitted by: Colleen Rutledge
GEORGE W. HUFFMAN
A biographical compendium of the nature of this work would be incomplete without due reference to the life of George W. Huffman, whose career as a citizen and as a public official have won for him a prominent place in the esteem of the people of Wells county. Mr. Huffman’s parents were natives of Clark county, Ohio, but about the year 1846 they came to Indiana, settling in the county of Huntington, where the subject was born on the 27th date of January, 1847. His father, John Huffman, was a farmer and spent the remainder of his life in his adopted state. Like the majority of country lads, the early life of George W. was spent under the parental roof and as soon as old enough to be of practical service he was obliged to contribute his share towards cultivating the farm and providing for the general support of the family. In the common schools he acquired a fair knowledge of the fundamental branches and later, by much reading, close observation and contact with the world in various business and official capacities, became one of the well balanced and thoroughly informed men of the community in which he has so long resided. Actuated by motives of filial duty he remained at home until his twenty-second year, meantime assuming much of the responsibility of managing the farm and sparing no pains in looking after his parents’ interests and ministering to their comfort and welfare. At the age of twenty-two he took a life companion in the person of Miss Sarah C. NEFF, of Wayne county, this state, and shortly after his marriage moved to the county of Wells where he engaged in farming on land leased for the purpose. Mr. Huffman began life as an independent factor with a limited capital, but in the course of two years was enabled to purchase a home of his own, investing his means in an eighty-acre tract of wood land in section 1, Jackson township. To clear and reduce this place to cultivation required long and unremitting toil, but with a spirit born of a determination to succeed, he pursued in the undertaking until in due time he not only had a well tilled farm, but had increased his real estate to one hundred and ninety-eight acres of as fine soil as the county can boast. Mr. Huffman was extremely fortunate in his selection, although unconsciously so, as future developments attested. When oil was discovered in the Indiana field, it was found that his farm lay in the heart of the finest producing district of the state, the result of the discovery raising the value of his land many fold, its present worth being conservatively estimated at over thirty thousand dollars. As a farmer Mr. Huffman has long enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most enterprising and thorough of the county, as the splendid condition of his fields and the general appearance of his place abundantly prove. Admirably situated for agricultural and live stock purposes, he has spared no pains in its development and, barring the boundless wealth which lies beneath the soil, it is today one of the finest farms as well as one of the most beautiful and attractive homes in the township of Jackson.
For many years Mr. Huffman has taken an active interest in public and political affairs and since attaining his majority has been unwavering in his allegiance to the Democratic party. Not only has he been an active worker, but his ability as a natural leader of men long since caused his services to be sought by the councils of his party both in local and general campaigns. In the year 1893 he was elected sheriff of Wells county, which responsible office he filled four years, proving a most capable and obliging public servant, his administration being eminently satisfactory to the people regardless of party ties. At the expiration of his term he retired with the best wishes of all and since that time has not been actively engaged in any vocation further than to look after his large and constantly increasing oil interests,
which yield him a handsome income. At the present time there are twelve producing wells on his place which, with others to be drilled at intervals, assure him a fortune of still larger magnitude in years to come. To Mr. and Mrs. Huffman have been born three children, the oldest of whom, Oscar, died at the age of three and one-half years; Ella, now the wife of Isaac ROUSH, of Mt. Zion, this state, and Charlie WAYNE, the youngest, who served with distinction in the late Spanish-American war and at the present time lives in the city of Bluffton.
In his private life Mr. Huffman is sociable, hospitable and generous, ever ready to lend a helping hand to others and to give his influence and material assistance to all enterprises having for their object the general welfare. Few men in the county are as well and favorably known. His integrity has always been above reproach and his name is synonymous for all that is correct in manhood and ennobling in citizenship. Already he has won many victories
in life’s battle field and it is no extravagant flight of fancy to indulge in the prediction that many more triumphs will yet be his before the days of his usefulness and power shall end. Fraternally Mr. Huffman is a member of Lodge No. 92, Knights of Pythias, and religiously belongs to the Methodist church, as does also his wife.
Biographical Memoirs of Wells Co., IN, 1903, B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Pg 230
Submitted by: Colleen Rutledge