Almost every day, after her retirement, that she served as curator of the Ripley County Museum at the end of the day, she would reach for pen or pencil and any piece of paper and start to write another chapter about the community she had called home. She may have just returned from a long walk over the hills and valleys of her beloved county. Often she trudged as many as twenty miles a day to chase down a fresh lead to a new story or family history. She would go up to the door of a home and ask for the information about the family, who their ancestors were, where the family come from and any other genealogical facts. All of these family facts of hundreds of Ripley County Fmilies are recorded in TOPH PAPERS. History of county, towns, churches, schools and events both good and bad are written about in "The People's Hislory of Ripley County".
Her zeal for recording this material for posterity into the history of Ripley County for future generation is a source of information for people today. She recorded not only the good but also the skeletons in Ripley County history. She had written hundreds of pages about the county and the people who have passed through its history. Stacks of manuscript overflowed into every corner of her modest home.
Her father ran a general store and a post office in Springdale while she was growing up. The little village is no longer there. Later Violet and her mother moved to Versailles.
She started teaching Latin, English, Home Economics and Botany before she received her high school diplomo. She started her training to be a teacher at Indiana State Normal School but her education was interrupted by measles. She later received her A.B. degree from the school in 1921. She had started teaching in 1900. She taught in many of the one room schools of that time. She earned a life license in teaching from the State of Indiana.
She lived alone in Versailles after the deaths of her parents until she passed away 11 Oct, 1956 and is buried in Cliff Hill Cemetery next to her parents.
COL. JAMES H. CRAVENS was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, August 12th, 1802, and died December 4th, 1876, at Osgood. In early life he learned the gunsmith's trade, but becoming dissatisfied began a study of law in the office of Col. John Kennedy, of Harrisburg. In 1823, after passing examination, he was admitted to the bar and began his practice in Pendleton County, Virginia. December 23rd, 1824, he married to Sophia Capito. The marriage was a "runaway match" but was a happy and wise one. In 1829 they settled in Jefferson County, Ind, and in 1831-2 he was elected by the Whigs to represent Jefferson County in the House of Representatives in the General Assembly. In March, 1833, he moved to Ripley county and soon became a leading lawyer and politician there. He was chosen Senator by the Whigs of Ripley County in 1839. Later he was selected by his party as one of the candidates for Elector for President and Vice-President at the great Whig convention which assembled at Indianapolis, January 16, 1840. He entered at once upon the canvass and his success was remarkable. He was a member of the Electoral College that cast the vote of Indiana for Harrison and Tyler. After the election of Lincoln war was upon the people.
At the age of nearly three score, he rushed into the service of his country and was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the 83rd Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry under Col. Benj. J. Spooner. He was compelled to retire in a short time on account of ill health. When he heard of Morgan's raid in Indiana, he, full of enthusiasm, rallied his fellow citizens to resist their progress, at Versailles, but beore organizing, the force arrived and he was taken prisoner. It is said that Morgan told him that he understood he was one of the original abolitionists who had gotten up the trouble the between the North and South and asked him if he had been rightly informed. Col. Cravens promptly
answered, "Yes." There upon Morgan said "suppose I should hang you for it?""Well," said Cravens " suppose you should; you wou wombldn't cheat me out of cleanmany days, and I should die satisfied in having lived out my time amd had a good time while I did live." Then said Morgan, " They tell me you live in the little town of Osgood,up here on the railroad. I have a notion to burn it for you." "Burn it and be d__d. It isn't much of a town anyhow." Morgan finally released Cravens and his men on the condition that they would not follow him. They assented the more readily as they had no means of following him if they wanted to. Cravens lived to see freedom throughout the whole country. He lived to see all the states restored to the Union after their terrible separation and strife, and finally, he saw the great centennial jubilee of his native land and witnessed the peace and harmony throughout the States, and the advancement for popular education, development
and advancement that had been made. For two years preceding his death he felt that he needed rest. He passed away in peace, dreading nothingin the unknown, at Osgood, December 4th, 1876.
MAJOR JOHN O. CRAVENS was born at Versailles, May 25th, 1834. He was the third son of Hon. James H. and Sophia Cravens. He first attended the Ripley County Seminary, but in 1852 entered Asbury University and graduated in the scientific department in 1852. He graduated in the Cincinnati Law School in 1848 and then practiced in Martinsville until 1861. He enlisted as a private in Co. G, 6th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, being one of the 123 who went to Indianapolis and tendered their services to Gov. Henry S. Lane two days before President Lincoln issued his call for volunteers. This was the first body of men in the State, outside of Indianapolis, who volunteered their services. In the winter of 1861, having been previously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, he was detailed as aid-de-camp to Maj. Gen. R. H. Milroy, and was subsequently commissioned Major and Assistant Adjutant General of his staff by President Lincoln, and retained the position
until the close of the war. Although detailed from the company to which he belonged, and not serving with it after 1861, his men elected him their Captain in 1863, and he was commissioned accordingly by Gov. Morton; but, having in the meantime received higher ranks from the President he could not accept the candidacy captaincy. This fact illustrates the esteem by which he was held by his comrades in arms. He served in twenty-seven engagements, among the most important which were Winchester, Second Bull Run, Cross Keys, Strasburg, Slaughter Mountain and Murfresborough. On retiring from the army he resumed the practice of his profession. In 1872 he was elected Prosecuting Attorney of the 6th Judicial Circuit. In 1874-76 he was re-elected. In politics he was a Republican. He married Maggie Hite, an adopted daughter of Col. Tom Smith, of Versailles.
HIRAM EATON was born in Reuben County, New York, in 1811, and of English descent. When eight years of age, he, with his parents, moved to near Napolean, where he since lived. He received his education at home and at pay schools. He worked on the Louisville canal during the summers of 1829-30. After returning he purchased 80 acres of woods (school land) for which he paid one-fourth down and the balance in ten years, with interest at 7 per cent. He also worked near Cincinnati one season. In 1884 he was elected Trustee of Jackson Township. He married in Adams Township, in 1835, a Miss Catherine Janes, of New York State. Mr.Eaton had lived a quiet farm life and possessed about 300 acres of good farm land. He was one of the six settlers of Ripley County, who settled not later than 1820.
CHESTER E. FAULKNER was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 27, 1820. His parents (Cornelius and Lucinda Faulkner) were of German and Irish descent. They moved to Dearborn County, near Moore's Hill, when Chester was a boy. He married Sarah Wills, of Moore's Hill. In 1862 he moved to Holton, Ripley County. He enlisted in the late war but was found to the disabled in the way of a limb deformity, consequently he remained at home. For fifteen years he was employed by Chambers & Stephen's Dry Goods House, of Cincinnati, as traveling salesman and collector. He was sent to Washington in 1876 by his firm, on business, and while on his way back he received the appointment of Special Police at Washington, during the inauguration. Since then, until he received his present position, he had served as Daniel Voorhee's private secretary. In 1879 he was elected as Joint Representative from Ripley, Decatur and Franklin Counties, by the Democratic party. While serving
in this office he was Chairman of the Temperance Committee. In 1880 he was elected to the State by the same party. He was Chief of the Record Division of the Pension Office at Washington. His family lived on a farm near Holton. He had five children dead and two living. One daughter lived with parents and the other in Greensburg, the wife of J.T. Sands. He had two sons in the late war. Clinton died of fever in Vicksburg, and Levi died, after coming home, of consumption, contracted while in the service. Mr. Faulkner was an Odd Fellow for nearly 40 years, and a member of te Christian Church fifteen years.
FRANK FERRIS was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in October of 1815. He moved from Cincinnati to Franklin Township in 1830, to Aurora in 1834, back to Franklin Township in 1836, to Switzerland County in 1849, then back to Franklin Township in 1853. Since then he had lived on his farm in Franklin Township, about two miles from Sunman and six miles from Milan. He married Miss Martha J. Taylor in 1839. He served as Trustee of his township for seven years. In 1846 he was elected as Representative from Ripley county by the Republican party. He was a devoted member of the M.E.Church, and had been a Mason for fifteen years.
JONATHAN W. GORDON, next youngest son of William and Sarah (of Scotch and English descent) was born in Washington County, PA, August 13, 1820. His parents emigrated to PA in 1790 and to Ripley County in 1835. Here, young Jonathan, after receiving a common school education, began the study of law, and in 1844 was admitted to the bar. Meanwhile, he had married Miss Catharine J. Overturf.He practised law at Versailles until the beginning of the Mexican war. He joined the volunteer army as a soldier and was commissioned Major ofhis regiment, by his colonel. He went to the Rio Grande with his regiment but was compelled to return on account of ill health. After returning his health was still bad until 1854, when he regained his former strength, but he was warned by his physician not to speak in public. For this reason he changed his course of study and began the study of medecine, of which he already had some knowledge. He attended a course of medical lectures
at Rush Medical College during the winter of 1847-48. soon after he graduated in the Medical dpartment of Asbury University. He practised for two years at Moore's Hill, Dearborn County, Ind. While he was elected to the Medical School of Indiana and was made chairman of its committee on Asiatic Cholera.He soon became tired of the medical profession and in 1862 moved to Indianapolis. After some years, he became well known for criminal and medical counsel. After the war, he was employed by Secretary Stanton to defend General Hovey. And in 1873 was emp[loyed with Mr. Porter to maintain the validity of the temperance law, known as the Baxter Bill. Major Gordon died in Indianapolis April 1887.
SAMUEL BALL was born in Concord, MASS, August 7, 1790 and died at Ballstown, Ripley County, Ind, in 1874.His parents, of purely English descent, emigrated to America in the early part of the Eighteenth Century, and settled on a small clearing. At the early age of one year Samuel was left an orphan by the death of his father. He lived with his mother until twenty-two years of age, when he married Miss Olive Nelson, of Stafford, Connecticut. At the age of twenty years he learned the carpenter trade. Having early cherished the idea of emigrating to the far west, in the latter part of 1824 he set out on his journey. In the fall of 1825 he landed on the preent site of Ballstown, Laughery Township. Here he remained one year, and then fearing the winter and a scarcity of provisions, he returned to as far as Ohio, where he had friends and relatives, remaining and working at his old trade (carpentering) until the early spring of '40, when he returned to Ballstown,
this time to stay. He was a valuable citizen, and one of the kind needed in the building up of a new country. He served as justice of the Peace and as Postmaster for a number of years. He was always ready to take part in anything that tended to advance or enlighten his community.
ADAM G. HOYER was born inn Bavaria, germany, in 1825. He was first educated in the public schools of Bavaria. He afterwards took a high-school course at Bayreuta, Bavaria. He was married May 19th, 1845, and in 1853 he settled, with his wife and parents, on his present homestead. He served seven terms as trustee of Lughery Township. In 1872 he was elected, by the Democratic party, as Representative of Laughery Township. His homestead was in Laughery Township, near Steamboat Landing.
CAPT. WILLIAM HYATT was born in Shelby Township, June 14th, 1821, and was the son of Shedrick and Elizabeth Hyatt, of Maryland. His parents had moved first to Kentucky, and then to Brown Township, where they both died.He received his education in public schools. In 1840 he married Emily Benham, who died in 1861, leaving six children alive and two dead. He entered the army as First Lieutenant of Company A, 37th Indiana Volunteer, and came out as Captain of the same company. In 1863 he sent in his resignation, which was accepted. He was discharged September 5th, 1863. He was in several engagements and skirmishes, including Tallahoma, Bowling and Stone River. In 1864 he married Miss Mahaley Waggoner. In the same year he was elected to the Senate by the Republican party. He had served two terms as Justice of the Peace before this. While in the Senate he was a supporter of the 14th amendment. He later made the race for Sheriff against P. McCullough but was defeated.
He resided with his wife and three children on a 270 acre farm in Shellby Township. He was 67 years of age and in poor health. He contracted lung trouble and also had his hearing impaired while in the army. He had been a Mason for 30 odd years and a member of the M.E. Church for 12 years.
HIRAM KNOWLTON was born in Franklin County, Maine, in November of 1809 and died in Indianapolis in February of 1878. He was of English descent, and was educated in Maine. In 8122he, along with his family, moved to Hamilton County, Ohio, and two years later he married a Miss Mary Stevenson, of Cincinnati. She was also of English descent, being born in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, in 1817. In 1844 he removed to Milan, where he remained thirty-two years. He first served as Justice, but in 1850 was elected by the Whig party to the Legislature. In 1851 he was re-elected. In 1876 he removed to Indianapolis, where he remained until his death. Most of his life was spent in business as a merchant. He was, for a time, a partner of Proctor, of Cincinnati, (now the noted firm of Proctor & Gamble). He was for thirty years a Mason and for five an Odd Fellow, and was also a member of the M.E. Church.
JAMES A. BOYD was born at Elrod in Washington Township, July 1st, 1848.He was the son of Robert W. and Mary Loyd, of Irish and German descent. During the early years of life he learned the carpenters trade. He was educated in the common schools, and also attended Moore's Hill College the winter of 1871-72. He taught school for twelve winters before being admitted to the bar. In the summer he would work at his trade. He was admitted to the bar May 12th, 1880, having studied under Green Durbin. He served as Deputy Clerk from 1877 to 1879 and as Deputy Prosecutor from 1884 to 1886. The 24th day of May, 1886, he married Miss Sarah E. Seelinger, daughter of the then County Treasurer. In 1885 he was elected Representatiuve of Ripley County by the Democratic party. While in the Legislature he introduced fifteen bills, which were carried. Among these were: "An Act for the reorganization and support of the Knightstown Institution" and "An Act to prevent gaming and
gambling on fair grounds and prescribing penalities against officers of the association permitting such." He was a member of the Judiciary Committee on Federal Relations. He was chairman of the Knightstown Investigation Committee, which was appointed to look after the scandalous reports concerning the Soldiers Home at Knightstown. He practised law at Versailles. He enlisted as a private in Company C, 156 Indiana Volunteer, on the 23rd day of March, 1863, and was discharged at Stephenson Station, Virginia, August 4th, 1865.
DONALD McCALLUM was born in the Province of Ontario, near Kingston, in 1847. He was of Scotch descent. His parents moved to Ontarion in 1838 and to New York State in 1863. Here they remained one year and then removed to Ontario. In 1864 they moved to Ohio. During the winter of 1864-65 Donald worked for the Government on Government works at Nashville, Tennessee. In the fall of 1865 he went to Shelby Township. He was by then an orphan, and had but five cents in his pocket. He engaged to work in the saw mill of a Mr. Rhine. At this time he could not write his name. During the day he would save the strips (shavings) and by night study by the light of them. n this way he prepared himself to enter Moore's Hill College. After going one term he was persuaded to teach. He taught seven years in succession from 1869 to 1876 and then was elected trustee. He married Euphrenia J. Morrow, of Switzerland County, December 21st, 1868. In 1877 he purchased the
place of business Benham P.O. He was elected Representative in 1886 and served one term. He was a candidate once before but had been defeated by J.B. Loyd. Loyd was the opposing candidate when McCallum was elected. He was chairman of the Committee on Enrolled Bills. He was present at the Senate door when Robinson was put out. He was also present in the Senate at the time of the great excitement over the decision of the Supreme Court in the contest between Smith and Robinson for Lieutenant Governor. Mr. McCallum was engaged in the mercantile business in Benham. He had been a Mason for seven years and an Odd Fellow for eighteen years. He was a member of the Shelby Christian Church.
DAVIDSON REA was born December 10, 1831, on the old homestead in Shelby Township, near New Marion. He father was from North Carolina and his mother from Kentucky. He was of Scotch and English descent. His mother wasth daughter of Benjamin Brown, a prominent early setter of the county. His education was received in the public schools of Shelby Township. In 1853 he was married to Miss M.F. Holman, daughter of Jesse L. Holman. In 1857 she died, leaving one child living and one dead. The one living, Chas. D. Rea, was a farmer of Shelby Township. In 1863 he married Miss Sarah B. Baldwin, of Jackson County, who lived with him until her death Feb. 4th 1880. He was again left with a child (Kennie) who became a teacher. Mr. Rea had served as trustee of his township, one term, (1874-76). He was elected to the legislature by the Democratic part, as Representative, in 1876, and served one term. He bitterly opposed the Bill, making the appropiation for the new State
House. An extra session of ten days was held. He and Kennie lived on their farm near New Marion. They had an extensive livestock business.
HEZEKIAH SHOOK, SR. was born in Maryland, near the Dixtrixt of Columbia, in 1795. He was of English and German paretage. In 1814 he moved, with his parents, to Hardintown, near Lawrenceburg, and while there married a Miss Susan French. He lived there three years and then moved to Hamilton County,Ohio, remained one year and returned to Hardintown. In 1828 he moved to Versailles and in 1836 was elected to the House of Representatives by the Democratic party. Mr. Shook was a successful farmer. He raised two sons who were elected to the Legislature in later years (Luthe and Hezekiah Jr.) He died on his farm in 1852.
HEZEKIAH SHOOK, JUN. was born on the old farmstead near Versailles, January 24th, 1832. He was raised on the farm and his education was obtained at the puvlic schools and the Ripley County Seminary. In 1858 he married Miss Libby Alley, of Versailles, and in 1856 he was elected to the House of Representatives by the Republican party. He served since then four years as Deputy Treasurer, four years as Deputy Clerk under William Gookins and served four years as Deputy Auditor under Thomas Willson.
LUTHER SHOOK was born in Hamilton County, Ohio, in December of 1817. With his parents, he moved to Hardintown in 1818 and to Versailles in 1828. He was raised on the farm and educated in pubic schools. He was a clerk in his uncle's store for awhile before moving to Ripley. In 1839 he married Miss Emily Breeden, who then lived two and one-half miles from Versailles. In 1850 he was elected to the House of Representatives, and in 1852 to the Senate, by the Republica party. He was a merchant at Versailles for several years, but was a farmer from 1861 until the time of his death, March, 1877.
Thomas W. SUNMAN was born at Holtby, in Yorkshire, England, September 27th, 1804, and died at Versailles, March 21st, 1872. His father was a jointer or stair-builder and was a man of considerable means. Thomas was educated in England as a navigator. He moved to Adams Township, and settled on a farm of 200 acres, in 1820. In 1842 he served as Justice of the Peace and later as trustee of his township. He married February 14th, 1853. In 1868 he was elected to the Legislature, which convened in 1869. He, with the rest of the Democrats, resigned rather than vote for the Fifteenth Amendment. Im March of 1869 he was re-elected upon that issue. This was his last public service. He was always a warm supporter of the Democratic party. He was a farmer, miller and distiller when not in office.
T. W. W. SUNMAN was born in Adams Township, Ripley County, Indiana, the 2nd day of February, 1855. He was raised on the Sunman homestead, and educated in public schools. He married a Miss Jennie Robinson in 1876. The Democratic part elected him to the Legislature in 1885, as Joint Representative, from Ripley and Franklin Counties. The old homestead contained some of the most valuable timber, in this section of the state. Mr. Sunman had erected one of the finest sawmills in the county, and had an extensive lumber business.
WILLIAM D. WILSON was born in Milan in 1839. His parents were of English and Irish descent, and emigrated as early as 1830. They settled in Versailles when Daily was two years old. He received his education in the public schools of Ripley County, and later took a course at the County Seminary. He made one trip to Iowa to assist his father in Engineering. While in Iowa he also studied law. In 1862 he married Miss Olive Huffater, whose father was a pioneer. He served as District Prosecutor one term, during the fall of 1864. In 1868 he was elected as Representative from Ripley County by the Republican party, and in 1872 made the race for Judge against Judge New, but was defeated. Mr. Wilson was the president of the Ripley County Bank and Proprietor of the Osgood flour, stave and saw-mills. He had the finest residence in the county. He, with his two brothers, Charley and Tom, owned nearly 2000 acres of land which was cultivated. He also dealt extensively in livestock and timber.