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Lewisville, Ind. Fifty Years of Progress

The Wilderness of 1830 Transformed Into a Garden

From the New Castle Courier August 1883

The site of the solitary log cabin of pioneer times.
The busy, bustling town of Lewisville today, 1883

A few facts gathered by a Courier representative during a recent visit

      What the earnest efforts of industrious citizens may accomplish during a half a century may be observed by a visit to Lewisville and the surrounding country. In about 1830 Lewis C. Freeman and others in the East were struck with the Western fever, and gathered up their affects and headed for the then Far West. They came upon a spot of finely timbered and well-watered land, which proved upon investigation, to be especially adapted to agriculture. Here they pitched their tents, cut out timber and built cabins with the view of remaining and growing up with the country. To some of the present day and generation, the prospect would seem hazardous and discouraging to an extreme, but in those days they did not know how to give up, but went straight ahead, and as a result there is situated at a point forty-two miles east of Indianapolis, on the C., St. L. & P. Railroad, a thriving little town of about five hundred inhabitants known as Lewisville, the name being derived from Mr. Freeman's Christian name, Lewis. It is situated one mile from the Rush county line, eighteen miles from Rushville, ten miles from New Castle, ten miles from Knightstown and ten miles from Cambridge City, giving it a good commercial situation. In the year 1831 John Hall with his family, moved to this place from North Carolina, being among the very first settlers. Three of his sons are still living, Robert Joseph and Phineas, the former the father of T. W. Hall, a leading merchant, and who will be remembered as a candidate on the Democratic ticket, last fall, for Joint Representative.
     There were others at this time, the names of whom we are unable to give. We will however, give the names of the prominent business people, past and present. About the first men who launched out in merchandising were, James B. Harris, John Widows, Martin Morris, and Ross Spencer, who did a thriving business. The next, probably was Jesse Baldwin, who kept a tavern located where the Caldwell house now is, and he did a big business, as by this time the Western fever was raging and his transient custom was heavy. The old gentleman is still living, enjoying comparatively good health, at the age of eighty years. He lives in Georgetown, Illinois. He is the father-in-law of Joseph Beard, who enjoys the luxury of a fine farm near Lewisville. In 1834 W. L. Houston moved there from Liberty, Union county, and the following year and engaged in general merchandising, and by strict attention to business, honesty and economy, which have followed him throughout his whole life, he accumulated considerable means. There are few men in that section of the country that are better known than Mr. Houston, and there are none who bear a better and honorable name. He is the present Postmaster, which position he has occupied, in all, eighteen years, having received his first appointment under Martin Van Burren's administration. Eli Davis carried on merchandising and milling about the time Mr. Houston did. He also started a distillery, but at this enterprise he was not successful and lost considerable of his accumulated wealth, but in his other business he was quite prosperous, and died a rich man. He has two sons living, Harvey and Clinton, the former now in business in Indianapolis, and the latter well-known in New Castle. The Wiles brothers, now prominent businessmen, did merchandising there also. Robert Bartlett was also one of the pioneer businessmen, and although he has passed away, the business is continuing by his widow. There were smith and shoe shops, harness and cabinet making establishments. Among the early physicians were; Drs. Marcus Strong, Pumphrey, Montgomery, Longshore, Kersey, Van Nuys and Rea, the latter moved to New Castle just before the war and is well know here. Dr. Kersey enlisted in the war and became a surgeon. Dr. W. M. Bartlett went there about the close of the war, and being an excellent physician and giving strict attention to his profession he secured a large practice and has accumulated a fortune. He still lives and enjoys a large practice.
     To go back a few years we will take in the names of Wickersham & Gray, who carried on the grocery business. Then B. S. Parker and his father began during the war and carried on business for several years. Had not misfortunes of various kinds overtaken them they might have been added to the list of rich men, but they were not successful. Solomon Crull probably succeeded them. The first exclusive hardware and stove store in Lewisville was started by Jesse Sanders, who was succeeded by Judge Cosand, who was also succeeded by T. W. Hall. Mr. Hall was succeeded by Sylvester Voorhees, who continued the business until about a year ago. Thomas Fletcher was also one of the pioneer merchants, and his brother Robert, is still living. The early inhabitants erected a log house in which school was taught and which was used as a house of worship. Among the early settlers still living we will mention the names of Robert Smith, Miles Scott, John M. Mary, Robert Fletcher, Philip Siuthwick, P. Ball and Momon Ballard. There are others, we presume, whose names we are unable to give.

2001 UEB

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