History of Greene County, Indiana

Chapter 12

One thousand eight hundred and forty-six was a year of sorrow throughout the land. The tocsin of war was sounded, and the notes of the life and drum were heard from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. A call was made for volunteers to go to Mexico, and the people, with commendable patriotism, rushed to the fray. In Greene County a company was promptly formed, and they assembled on the courtyard at Bloomfield and elected their officers. L. H. Rousseau was elected captain, Adam Stropes, First Lieutenant, David Irwin, Second Lieutenant, and Zachariah Sims, Third Lieutenant. Lieutenant Sims afterwards resigned and John Roach was elected Third Lieutenant.

The most dangerous enemy that they expected to meet was the climate and the diseases that would be most likely to assail them in such a climate. Of course they expected to meet the Mexican Army, but they did not believe that the army of the enemy was as dangerous as the diseases incident to the Southern county.

Solemnly and silently they took up their weary march toward New Albany, the place of rendezvous, some never to return.

Some fell in battle, some by disease, and some had their health impaired forever.

Among the great battles that they fought was the battle of Buena Vista. Many of these brave boys were compelled to return home before the expiration of term of service on account of disease. Those who remained until the expiration of their term of service, returned in 1847.

Nearly thirty years have passed, and very few of them remain in the county. Some who were called boys are getting to be quite old now. - James Busan is probably the oldest in the county who went out in this company. He is the oldest citizen, and universally respected and honored. One of his sons was killed in the late war, thus showing that soldier and patriotic blood courses through the veins of the family. Andrew Johnson is probably the next oldest. We are not so well acquainted with him, but suppose he is a good and true man. Solomon Burcham is probably the next oldest; he was a Sergeant in the company; he is one of the very early settlers, having come here when he was a boy; he is one of our best citizens, and is always brimful of patriotism. He, too, had a son killed in the late war. Littleton Goad is probably the next oldest of those who attended their last meeting, since which meeting he has gone over to the other world. He was a very early settler, and a quiet, industrious and good citizen; and, if we are not mistaken, he had a son or sons in the late war. William Bough and Henry Roach, two soldiers of the old company in the Mexican War, made efficient officers in the late war, and acquitted themselves with honor. John Vanscoyk enlisted in the late war, and became totally blind in the service. James H. Hall, as we have heretofore started, served five years in the regular army and three years in the late war. Robert D. Andrews served in the late war and was severely wounded. Perhaps others of Company E., 2nd Indiana Regiment, who are here served in the late war. Henry Goad, J. L. Stropes, William Holtsclaw, Benjamin Holtsclaw, Noah Cox, Daniel Cox, Levi Nicholson, Simpson Osborn, Solomon Dixson and Thomas Rader are comparatively young yet, and they all served in Company E., and our now here among us, and we believe they are all prosperous and doing well. William P. Stropes, although not mustered into service on account of being too young, made the trip until his health failed. Other soldiers of the Mexican War have cast in their lot with the people of our county, and are living here. Captain E. E. Rose, John Sharr and A S. Nations belonged to the same regiment but not to the same company. Ahart Hash, Champlain Cox, Joseph Piggman, Josiah Sullivan, and Elza Wagoner are all soldiers of the Mexican War, and our now living in Greene County, and perhaps there are others whose names we have been unable to get.

In all ages of the world, people have taken pleasure in doing honor to the defenders of our country. Those who fought the battles of the Revolutionary War were especially honored by Legislation and otherwise. In most of the States, and in Indiana among many others, they were exempted from certain legal process that other men were liable for - they were exempted from imprisonment upon civil process. Late in life, the survivors and widowers of the deceased were pensioned. In this county there is yet one widow of the Revolutionary soldier who is drawing a pension. It is Susanna Lang, of Highland Township.

The soldiers of the War of 1812 were, in many respects, honored in their day, and a few years ago were pensioned. All these soldiers in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 fought the battles of their country in their own land.

The Mexican soldiers were called upon to go into a foreign land to fight the battles of their country. They were required to endure privations, want and toil in a strange land, where all the inhabitants were enemies to them, and where dangers awaited them on every hand. There was no sympathetic hand among the citizens to give them a cup of water or bathe their fevered brows. Under all these circumstances, our soldiers in Mexico pressed on, a part of the army under General Taylor and a part under General Scott. Gallantly and bravely they bore the old flag from point to point, and from city to city, until its floating folds waved in triumph and in peace over the hills of the Montezumas. Then the brave boys who had not fallen in the contest returned to their homes amid the anthems and hosannas of the rejoicing thousands of people. Of those who went out from Greene County, some never returned. There were killed in battle, William Aiken, John Dillen and McHenry Dozier. There died from disease, James Aiken, Greenberry Chelton, Ambrose Storm, Washington Elliott and John Russell. There were wounded in battle, William Bough, Wick Bland, William Mathes and James Roe.

Another company was formed in the county, under Captain Rousseau and Lieutenant Stropes, but it was never mustered into service, the call being filled without it. It was rather singular that each company should have a Captain Rousseau and a First Lieutenant Stropes.

The officers elected this year were, John Jones, Representative; Edward E. Beasley, Sheriff. We have heretofore mentioned Mr. Jones. Mr. Beasley was an early settler in that part of Burlingame Township since formed into Beech Creek. He was a farmer, and very popular with the people, and served two terms as Sheriff. In 1856, he was a candidate for Representative in the State Legislation. His friends generally wished him to endorse Mr. Filmore for President, but he was conscientiously in favor of Fremont, and openly avowed himself in favor of the "path-finder." He said he would rather be right and suffer defeat, than to be wrong and be elected. He was too honest to act from policy, where his conventions of right were otherwise.

During this year, Joseph Baum, Gilligan Schrinz and Peter Hassler declared their intentions to become citizens of the United States. Alexander McClelland and Augustus L. Rhodes were admitted to practice law. Mr. Rhodes became a resident of the county, and resided here several years. He was a man of classical education, having graduated at an eastern university, and was a close student and fine lawyer. We occasionally hear him spoken of by some of the old citizens as being an honest lawyer, a compliment that is not very freely extended to men of that profession. He went to California in 1854, where he took front rank in his profession, and for several years later he has been a member of the Supreme Court of that State.

At this time, and several years before, R. H. Rousseau was school examiner for the county. At times it was rare fun for Dick to examine applicants for license. In that day, school teachers were not so efficient as they are at the present, and in many localities they only taught reading, writing and spelling, and the writing lessons were often written by some other person. On one occasion, he gave an applicant a certificate that he was "capable of teaching a very common school."

In 1847, L. H. Rousseau, who had returned from one year's service in the Mexican War, was elected Senator in the State Legislature. Stephen H. Lockwood, who has heretofore been mentioned as "Jonah," was elected as Representative in the Legislature; H. C. Owen was elected Assessor; Jeremiah Stone and Adam Stropes were elected Commissioners, and B. F. Cressy, Surveyor. H. C. Owen has been an active, leading man in his party ever since, and even before this election. This was the first time that Mr. Stone appeared as a county officer. He was an early settler in that part of the county now known as Jackson Township; he was continued in office for several terms, and was regarded as a careful and prudent officer, and was, and is, one of our best citizens. He is yet living, and seemingly enjoys a ripe old age. In his younger days he was noted for his fondness of a joke; but, in late years, he has been overshadowed by his neighbor, William Hert, who can tell more sharp and funny yarns than any two men in the county.

B. F. Cressy was only a moderate early settler; he was a shrewd, sagacious and active businessman, as well as a man of fair education. If we are not mistaken, he continued to be Surveyor from this time up to his death. He was regarded as a first-class Surveyor and a first-class citizen.

Craven P. Hester appeared as Prosecuting Attorney this year, and Lewis Bollman and George Munson are admitted as attorneys. George Munson was a partner of George G. Dunn, and was a lawyer of superior legal attainments.

The year 1848 was another year of great political excitement. General Zachary Taylor led the Whig hosts to victory in the race for President, but lost Greene County by one vote.

John Yarnell was elected as Representative in the State Legislature. In 1847 he had been defeated for the same office by S. H. Lockwood. Mr. Yarnell was regarded as an excellent man and no doubt would have made a good Representative if he had lived, but he died in a very short time after his election. An election was called for the same day of the Presidential Election, at which R. H. Rousseau was elected, this being the first and only time that he was ever elected to office in this county.

We were not acquainted with Mr. Yarnell, but he was universally conceded to be a good citizen. He resided at Point Commerce, and was a partner of William S. Bays, who was a very early settler in the county, and was well known throughout it as being one of the most genial and clever gentleman in it. Towards friends and strangers visiting or having business in his town, he was certainly the most courteous gentleman in the county. He was never too busy to stop and show visitors around, and extended to them those courtesies that contribute so fully to make a visitor feel well and enjoy himself. Such disinterested gallantry is becoming almost out of style in these latter days, yet such attention is ever and kindly remembered by the recipients of each courtesy.

During this year, James S. Hester and R. A. Clemments were admitted to practice law. A murder case was tried this year, on change of venue from Daviess County. The case occupied five days of our court, and was ably prosecuted and as ably defended. Craven P. Hester and his son, James S. Hester, who now reside in Nashville, Indiana, prosecuted the case on behalf of the State, and Richard S. Clemments, Lovell H. Rousseau and E. S. Terry made speeches on the defense. The case was against Willis M. Miller, and he was charged with murdering his wife. The theory of the prosecution was that the defendant had thrown his wife into a well and held her under the water until she was drowned, or that she had fallen in and he had held her under the water instead of taking her out. The evidence showed that the top of the water was not far within two feet of the top of the well. A large train of circumstances were detailed to the jury, going to sustain the theory of the State. James S. Hester was then quite young, but he had made an elegant speech, which was perhaps his first big effort. There was no positive evidence against the defendant, but the general belief among the outsiders was that he was guilty; but the jury gave him the benefit of all doubts, as it was their duty to do, and after hanging some time, acquitted him.