New Castle, IN Courier 1875
Woodville Past and Present-- Interesting episodes in it's History.
Woodville, March 12, 1875
In presenting this pen sketch of a neighboring village to the public, I am well aware of the importance of the work before me. My interest has not been identified with Henry county longer then thirteen years, and the facts here presented in relation to the early history of this portion of a populous and wealthy county, have been obtained from those who lived in the days when whiskey was passed through the cracks of log shanties and people, when smitten on one cheek, did not turn the other.
Woodville owes its present appellation to one James Atkinson, who emigrated from Ohio several years ago. He bestowed upon it the name of his county seat, and by this it is known from the land of flowers to the land of the perpetual snow. The first survey of this region was made by one Brice Dille. The town was surveyed long before there was any improvements---long before the rude log cabin of the early settler graced the spot.
Thomas Goble erected the first habitation in Woodville, it was built entirely of unhewn logs, the foundation being of buckeye, which in due time became so thickly covered with sprouts as to almost resemble a young buckeye forest.
The first grocery was kept by William O'neal. He is said to have sold a better article of whiskey and for less money than one can buy it for, even now, in the neighboring town of Cadiz. The first dry goods store was ran by Alfonzo Freeman. Like many who succeeded him he only flourished for a brief season. Mr. Stephen Decker next tried the goods business. He, to, was unsuccessful, but prosperity at last crowned his efforts, and he is now an extensive merchant in a distant Western city.
Some eight years ago Mr. T. L. Fowler commenced business here. His first stock of goods invoiced the enormous sum of $221.00. He worked on a rented farm the first year, entrusting the small trade to Mrs. Fowler. Cincinnati drummers often experienced the inconvenience of going to the cornfield to sell Mr. Fowler a bill of goods. His business gradually increased until he was compelled to desert the old time-worn room from whose rough counters the first goods were sold that were brought to this place. In the summer of 1871 Mr. Fowler built a large and well-arranged business room, filled his shelves to overflowing, and began a "big trade" for Woodville. In the meantime Mr. Alfred Jackson built a large storeroom with a hall above, and commenced a good business, but it was short lived. Mr. Fowler bought the building and now has upon his shelves a well-selected stock of goods that will, perhaps, invoice $4500.00. His annual sales of some three years have reached the neat sum of $10,00.00. Mr. Cyrus Guier has been clerking in the establishment some two years ---in fact, seemingly belongs behind the counter. Honesty and truthfulness have endeared "Cy" to a large number of people, and wherever he may go the good wishes of the citizens here will follow him. Score one for T. L. Fowler, the first and only successful merchant of Woodville.
Dr. Moss was the first practicing physician in this place. As an evidence of his skill, he once administered a vomit to citizen who had unfortunately broken two of his ribs. Some six other medical doctors rose, resigned and fell. Dr. W. C. Olden is at present engaged in the practice of his profession here, and has many warm patrons who would feel lost to see him go elsewhere.
Emsley Addison was the first man to make an anvil ring in this wild region. Mr. Jesse Weasner is at present engaged in that "honorable profession".
One Frank Davidson first taught the young idea how to shoot. Many citizens here flourished under his administration, and can testify to the fact that he was not strictly opposed to corporal punishment.
In listening to a rehearsal of the stirring scenes of early times, we can scarce see a face that does not exhibit emotions as the sensitive mind wanders back to "Joyous youth's enchanted hours."
Alas! But a few of those pioneers by whose ponderous ax-strokes the giant forest melted like snow flakes in the sun are left to enjoy the rich fruits of their long and eventful years of ardent toil. They are falling around us like the seared leaves of Autumn,
The sons and daughters of that bold and hardy race are now the rightful owners of the rich and fertile fields. The log cabin has, in a great measure disappeared. Neat and cozy farm houses great the traveler on every hand--- a plain indication that the people in this vicinity are no longer lingering in the lap of ignorance and superstition, but are adapting themselves to the age in which they live---boldly marching in the vain of the army of reform.
In the spring of 1872, the New Lights made an effort to establish a church here. By liberal donations from a few citizens, the frame of the building was raised and remained in this exposed condition until the timbers became so blackened by rain and sun as to resemble the crumbling remains of some ancient castle. No further attempt was made to complete the structure, and the citizens have sat by many a warm fire during the past winter made from the material of this would be temple of the Lord.
Woodville Lodge, No. 450, I. O. O. F., was organized here some nine months ago, D. D. G. M., O. C. Cannon officiating. The order is now in a very prosperous position, supporting a membership of nearly forty.
There is also an order of Patrons, which was organized here November 5, 1873, with the following principle officers: Ross Wilkinson, Master; J. W. Payne, Overseer; William Brookshire, Treasurer. This order is among the best in the county. There are at present eighty members, all live, active working men, an honor to any community. Some of the brethren have been making purchases through Mr. Tyner, the State Agent, with very satisfactory results.
Next comes the Literary Association, which is now in full blast. There are thirty members connected with this great enterprise, all seemingly taking a great interest in the discussion of the most important questions of the times. While there may be other Societies better versed in history and parliamentary law, yet there are none others where a greater effort is being made to become eminent in the art of public speaking.
The different orders here are exerting a great moralizing influence over society, and while there is no Beecher to fire up the souls of the people by copious burst of eloquence, no Plymouth Church with its frescoed walls of dazzling beauty, yet the great care of moral reform gradually moves onward, guided by the grand unfolding light of science.
Having thus given a truthful sketch of Woodville in other days, I will now notice the last and most important episode in its later history.
The Old Settlers Meeting: Next on the agenda. (Coming Soon)