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The Little Village of Raysville

Mary V. (Ballenger) Barnard
(Read before the Henry County Historical Society.)

   The little village of Raysville is situated on the National Pike in the southern part of Henry County, Ind., was platted by John Anderson in 1827 and named in honor of Governor James B. Ray. It appears from tradition, however, that a man by the name of Jackson squatted at a spring just south of Raysville as early as 1818. He was brave and active, trafficking with the Indians as well as he could, supplying his stores from Cincinnati. Henry Ballenger was entertained by him in 1821. Later on, he entered a tract of land three miles north on Blue River, at which place the first elections were held. He died here in 1824 of yellow fever, having contracted it in New Orleans while in the boating business. This is probably the only case of yellow fever ever in the county, as there were no succeeding cases in the family.
   Anderson, founder of the town, was of Irish importation, a man of no ordinary energy and ability having earned $100 by his spade in digging a millrace for Abraham Heaton (of whom I will speak presently.) He walked to Brookville and entered eighty acres of land where the town now stands, erected himself a dwelling, married a Miss Jackson, and soon began a prosperous career, in a few years becoming quite wealthy. He was at one time associate judge, but overwork induced paralysis of which he died much lamented in the midst of his usefulness.
   Daniel and Asa Heaton were squatters as early as 1820. Abraham Heaton came soon after, and erected a gristmill, which is now the site of the White mills. Eli Gappen erected another mill farther up on Buck Creek, which is now abandoned.
   William Ballenger was among the first carpenters and he built many of the houses now standing. Joseph Harris was another carpenter. Isaac Scott came from Philadelphia at a very early day and erected a hotel where he acted as landlord until his death. Afterwards his widow, Sallie Scott, became quite a noted landlady for many years, dying just recently.
   Harry Pearson was a early citizen and seemed to been a U. S. superintendent of grading on the National Road, or perhaps a sub-agent. His son, Austin, superintended cutting through the bluff on the west side of Blue River.
   Early in Raysville's history came Wm. Pickett, he brought with him much money and purchased several tracts of land in the surrounding vicinity. He was really the Quaker nucleus about which many Friends gathered, until this community became largely of his persuasion, a church was established on 24 Jan 1839 with Caleb White, Samuel Pritchard, Charles Mayan, Joel Pusey and Samuel Warner as trustees, which still lives and has its being in the little white house on the hill east of town. Among the early Quaker preachers, who at different times have resided in Raysville, are Jeremiah Hubbard who was pronounced in his day to be the Friends most eloquent preacher at home or abroad; he died in 1849 near Fountain City. Sarah M. Hiatt, who twice visited Friends churches in England. The scholarly Wm. Haughton, whom many of us have heard, Wm. G. Johnson, widely known, also lived here.
   The Friends inaugurated a higher order of schools, employing teachers from the East, making every interest bend to a through instruction in science, literature and morals. It would perhaps be invidious to mention any of these teachers. I will, however, name Hiram Hull and Jacob Branson. Benjamin Albertson taught here for a number of years, also Wm. Mendenhall, and later on Wm. Haughton, a very fine instructor particularly in mathematics and astronomy.
   Samuel Pritchard, Pickett's son-in-law soon joined him, purchasing a tract of land near the village; he was a man of sterling worth. Caleb White purchased the Heaton mills. About this time began a change of citizenship, the early rough pioneers, many of whom spent much time in target shooting, selling out and going farther west, leaving only a remnant of the early pioneers.
   Rayville's first merchant was James Woods, who erected a store building near where Charles S. Hubbard now resides. Merchants later on were Joel Pusey, Robert Wilson, George Hunnicutt, John T White, Joseph Woods and Richard J. Hubbard, who at one time represented Wayne County in the legislature. Nathan H. Ballenger and Ira Musselman were hardware merchants. Soon the noted Katy Staff engaged in the liquor business and seemed almost to bid defiance to all laws.
   The Hon. Robert M. Cooper, at one time a State representative in the legislature, had his home in this village. Also the radical Henry Bigler, a man of more than ordinary ability, and rather noted in his day, both were attorneys. Philmon Bliss, another attorney and one of the most talented young men who ever come to the county, resided here. He was of a literary turn of mind and refined in his taste. He taught school for awhile in Knightstown; he afterward moved to Ohio, from which State he was elected Congress.
   Squire Milton Brown, at one time recorder of Henry County, hailed from Raysville. Butler Hubbard, son of Jeremiah, comes from old North Carolina, and in time represented his county in the legislature, also served as county recorder. Jacob Hubbard becomes a citizen- he was a man of talent and had been in North Carolina a noted merchant.
   Raysville physicians at different times were Drs. Tyler, Terrell, Dare, Shaw, Cochran, Goodrich, Haughton and Jay. This profession and the business of representing the county in the legislature seems to have been remarkably well supplied from the citizens of Raysville when we take into consideration the smallness of the town, but the inhabitants of this little place seemed to make up in quality what was lacking in quantity.
   Among the other early settlers, and all worthy men, was Eli Overman, who settled south of the village. Samuel White and Isaac Trueblood , brothers-in-law, who started a tannery; using water from the noted springs on the hill south of town through an aqueduct; Calvin W. Pritchard now of Chicago, once attended these vats. Amos Kenworthy, John Horner, Charles Moore, Benajah Parker, Micah Newby, Thomas White, James Hollingsworth, Ralph Burt, a tailor, Willets and Job Barer, cabinet makers and Nathan Barker, silversmith. Theodore Lutz was probably Raysville' first dairyman, in this business he was extensively engaged.
   As later residents I mention the aged Wm. Harrison, an Englishman who lacks but a few years of 100. Uncle Alec and aunt Jemima Whitworth, who are almost ninety. He for a number of years has been blind, but she so faithful to him, lightens his burden and brightens his dark pathway by reading and conservation. As he is quite deaf this is no light task for one of her age. For fifty years they have journeyed together and now in the evening of life their song is:

"Only waiting till the shadows
Are a little longer grown.
Only waiting till the reapers
Have the last sheaf gathered home."

   But I must go on to others; there is Timothy Harrison, a man of ability, who died a few years ago. Charles L. Hubbard, another representative in the legislature at one time. George Hubbard, John Bird, John Furbee, Jackson Smith, a man of remarkable memory and by reason of this could repeat more history than any man in town. John Brands, a nurseryman, John Teas, first nurseryman, Charles White, grain merchant, Richard Elliot, farmer-but I must stop enumerating them for I cannot name all who live or ever have lived in Raysville, besides this paper was not to include the modern history of the town.
   In conclusion I think I can truthfully say that very few villages, taking numbers into consideration, boast of so many intelligent, honorable citizens as the little old town of Raysville, Indiana. The solidity of character among the parents, and the elevated tone of thought and mind among the young people was worthy of great praise and admiration.

UEB 2004

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