A large audience recently assembled in Fowler's Hall at Woodville, in accordance with a previous announcement, for an 'Old Settler's' gathering. Mr. Isaac Brown called the house to order. Mr. John Hayes was chosen President, and Joseph Leakey and Thomas L. Fowler Secretaries.
The President briefly stated the object of the meeting, after which the oldest citizens in the audience was called for to relate his experience as a pioneer.
The aged and venerable Father E. M. Hendricks ascended the platform, trembling with the weight of years, and said; he saw this part of the country when it was a vast and unbroken forest, and was one among the first settlers of Henry county. Having built his rude habitation in the wilderness more than forty years ago. After he had raised and roofed his cabin he moved his wife and nine children into it without even the luxury of a "puncheon floor." The only meat they had was turkey and venison. The first year of his wild life he cleared four acres of ground upon which he planted four hundred apple trees. He labored incessantly until his farm was sufficiently improved to sell. The "eighty" was accordingly sold for the small sum of $500. He purchased other farms, clearing and improving the same and thus his life has passed. He could chop more wood and split more rails than any man he ever knew. But two religious organizations existed at that time. The members of each body always gave each other a cordial greeting. There was no distinct element to divide God's people as exist now. There were gorgeous temples, no costly edifices. The people met to worship in the cabin and the forest. Reverend Hendricks is the father of twenty children----twelve by his first wife and eight by his second. He has witnessed the stirring events of more than fourscore years, and rejoices to think that he has not an enemy in the world.
Robert Hogue, commonly known as "Uncle Bob," was next honored with an invitation to speak, being the next oldest person present. Said he saw Woodville thirty years ago----all was wilderness. Button-wood ponds were plenty---plenty of deer and wild turkey--wolves scalps were sold for $5 ---what plows were used had wooden moldboards. Buckskin britches and moccasins were worn by the hunters. He was born in a region of country of the Buckeye State where wild animals roamed at will, and necessarily experienced some fearful foreboding on passing through the trackless swamps of Henry county. Said he had cleared up more button-wood swamps than anyone [here someone suggested that he bear the title of "King of the Button-wood Pond"]. A title which has no bad meaning to those who have the benefit of his services in improving and beautifying their farms. "Uncle Bob" has passed his three score and ten, is now hale and hearty and even willing to relate interesting scenes of his youthful days.
William Trail, whose father was a former slave of South Carolina planter, said he had lived in Henry county since he was three years old. His father moved into a log cabin without fireplace or door; cut out a log for the children to crawl through. By the help of a brother seven years old, his father cleared and cultivated four acres of ground the first year, living mostly on wild game. Drinking and fighting were the prominent characteristics of the settlers in the region of Woodville. He thought it would now compare favorably with any village in the county, especially in temperance and morals.
William Chew, Esq., related a very amusing incident, which occurred many years ago.
He had occasion to visit a person living some distance, in an official capacity, and found breakfast was rather late on account of the non-appearance of the "family cow." The proprietor suggested to his friend that they take a chunk of corn-bread, a tin cup, and go to the woods and hunt up the cow and take breakfast in a quite way.
Mr. Joseph Dill said he was born in Coshocton county, in the State of Ohio, and moved to Henry county in the year of 1836. He knew something of the hardships and privations of pioneer life. He had been an eyewitness to many drunken carousals and bloody fights from the effects of whiskey, and had always been a temperance man and was glad to know that a great reformation was taking place in this vicinity as well as other points.
John W. Payne gave a very forcible picture of the condition of county and the neighborhood of Woodville when he visited it fourteen years ago. Farms had sprang up in all directions, thrift and enterprise was visible on all sides. The educational system had improved greatly, society was better in every respect, and one had ample encouragement to invest in land where a few years ago it was almost valueless.
John Lockridge, Jr., gave a brief statement of his fathers advent into Hoosierdom. He bought forty acres of land ---traded a horse and a few head of sheep for it ---the land is now worth perhaps $2,000, quite an advance. Mr. Lockridge moved into his cabin on the first day of January. A large stump in the center of the cabin formed the fireplace and the trap was without a door. Such were some of his adventures in the early settlement of the county, which doubtless, seem more pleasant to relate than to experience.
Joshua Lutholtz, waded the swamps hereabouts some twenty-five years since. He gave a very amusing statement of his adventures when a boy seven years old. His father had a favorite team of horses, named Nance and Luce respectively. The team, (notwithstanding it might have been imported from the old Dominion) would balk occasionally, and usually on such occasions, the old man would apply the whip to both the boy and the team, many times compelling him to drop to the mud to avoid another blow. An old citizen, who now lives near, once fell from a barn, and was supposed to be seriously, if not fatally injured. His son, who was a lad just rejoicing in his powers as a "choppist," raising his voice to a high key, sang out, "Goody! Goody! Dad's dead! I'll get his ax!" The relation of this laughable affair will perhaps add new laurels of the fame of Mr. Lutholtz as well furnish the neighborhood with an actually amusing fact.
Mr. Ross Wilkinson gave a very interesting statement of the pioneer manner of dressing deer skins, his father having been engaged in that business when he was a boy. Said he remembered four desperate characters who rejoiced in boasting of their "muscle"
The first fight he ever witnessed was from the pernicious effects of whiskey, nothing uncommon even now.
Joseph Leakey said he hauled the first good to Woodville that was ever sold here, he brought them from Richmond with an ox team. He had been acquainted in this locality before the country was improved to any extent, he was near fifty years of age and had watched with great interest the rapid growth of his native country.
Mr. Reuben Wilkinson spoke briefly of his wild life in the woods, he related some of the perplexities of pioneer life, his father having removed from Illinois to this county when it did not posses many of the beauties and attractions of today.
And thus closes one of the most interesting occasions known in annals of Woodville, Indiana's history.