Delivered at the SHILOH REUNION May 26, 1887 by D. D. Banta

"Our early days! How often back
We turn on life's bewildering track
To where o'er hill and valley plays
The sunlight of our early days!"
(Republican Print, Franklin, Indiana)

     December, 1822, Gov. WILLIAM HENDRICKS signed the bill providing for the organization of Johnson county. The population of the county at the time, which was confined mainly to the Blue River and White River settlements, did not exceed 550. There were about 100 families, which was one family to every three and two-fifth square miles. In 1823 the settlement at Franklin was begun and the town laid off. The same year the first settler built his cabin on the south fork of Stott's Creek, in Congressional township No. twelve, in range three east, which Congressional township was, in 1830, incorporated into the political township of Union. This first setter was BARTHOLOMEW CARROLL, who located on section thirty-four, near the place where John Vandiver afterwards built a mill. His family consisted of himself and wife, three sons, WILLIAM, JOHN and SAMUEL, TWO DAUGHTERS whose names have not been handed down, and the grandfather of his children, a very aged man, who died, it is said, when he was 110 years old.
     BARTHOLOMEW CARROLL was a genuine backwoodsman who spent his days hunting and trapping and gathering wild honey. In that early day, and indeed for many a year after, all this region was celebrated for the abundance of its wild game, its fur-bearing animals and its wild bees. It is said that CARROLL would sometimes have as many as 100 bee trees marked in the woods at one time. The CARROLL'S had the country to themselves for three years, when, in 1826, others began to move in. PETER VANDIVER settled in section twenty-five, not far from the southeast corner of the township, where he lived till his death, in 1864. GUNINNE UTTERBACK, a widow, with 8 sons, settled at the place now known as Union village. JOHN GARSHWILER, and JOSEPH SIMPSON moved to the eastern border of the township
     In 1827 I know of only two newcomers, GEORGE KEPHEART, who built a cabin on section twenty-three, and ALEXANDER GILMER, in the northeast corner of the township. But the year following witnessed the advent of nearly or quite a dozen families. PETER ZOOK, SAMUEL WILLIAMS and HENRY BANTA, moved into the VANDIVER neighborhood; BENJAMIN UTTERBACK to the vicinity of his sister-in-law, MRS. GUNINNE UTTERBACK, and ADAM LASH, JAMES RIVERS and JOHN MITCHELL, well up toward the north side of the township.
     In 1825 WILLIAM BURKHART, a young man who was much of a woodsman, and who came to be known in after years by the cognomen of "LITTLE BILL BURKHART," to distinguish him from an older member of his family bearing the same name, was out hunting, and, and in the woods some where between the Hopewell settlement and PETER VANDIVER'S, he struck a runway which he followed westwardly a distance of "about five miles" till it brought him to Rock Lick, on the north fork of STOTT'S CREEK in section sixteen, which ultimately proved to be one of the most famous deer resorts in all the country. For miles and miles in every direction, runways led to and from this lick, and its fame was soon spread abroad, and hunters visited it from great distances. the hoof print of an exceptionally big deer was now and then seen in or about the lick, and every hunter that saw or heard about the big track was at once fired with an ambition to slay that deer.
     Of the hunters who visited Rock Lick in the early times was JESSE YOUNG [SR.], from the Ninevah settlement, whither he had moved from Brown County, Ohio in 1825. What may have been his habit as to the pursuit of game before coming to the new State of Indiana, I am not advised, but it seems that shortly after making his home at Nineveh, he became known as one of the most expert woodsmen and hunters in the country. I have heard from divers sources a tradition of a white deer that roamed the woods and eluded the hunters till its trail was struck by JESSE YOUNG [SR.]. At that marvelous distance it was brought down by a ball from "Old Crate," his hunting rifle.
     He must have visited Rock Lick in 1827, and probably in 1826. When passing through that marvelous forest of White Oak timber then growing on the table lands just south of the lick, his trained eye saw in its rich fruitage a far more abundant and infinitely cheaper food for his heard of swine, than the best tilled fields of corn of that day could produce. And so he drove his hogs out to the White Oak forests of Rock Lick, that they might feed and fatten at Nature's crib, and at the same time he, as their herdsman, gratify his love of the woods.
     In 1828 JESSE YOUNG [SR.] determined to make this township his permanent home, and to that end he selected the east half of the northwest quarter of section twenty-seven, on which to begin home making, but he did not enter the land from the United States till the following year. A cabin, however, was erected the same year in the woods, on a site on which PETER VORIS lived and died; and in the fall of the year, now nearly fifty-nine years ago, he moved his family out and Shiloh neighborhood was founded.
     JESSE YOUNG [SR.] came of Scotch-English Presbyterian ancestors who settled at Jones Falls, near Baltimore, about 1680. At the close of the Revolutionary war his father, JACOB YOUNG, having become involved in trade, sold his possessions, paid his debts, and crossing the Allegheny Mountains, settled in Western Pennsylvania. Here, in the midst of a hardy race, JESSE grew to manhood, and in his twenty-third year married MARGARET WILEY, then in her nineteenth year. Subsequently he moved to Brown County, Ohio, where we know that he and his wife were members of the Strait Creek Presbyterian Church, and from Brown County they moved to Indiana in 1825, as we have already seen.
     In 1828, JESSE YOUNG was forty-six years old, and MARGARET, his wife, forty-one, and they had a family of six sons -- JOHN, JACOB, WILLIAM, JESSE, JAMES, JONATHAN EDWARDS and THOMAS, (the advent of NEWTON WATTS, his youngest son and the first to be born in this neighborhood, not being till August 31,1830,) -- and of four daughters -- MARY, SARAH W., ELIZABETH and MARGARET EATON. Three of the boys were stalwart men, and one of the girls was a woman in years.
     Memory has not handed down to us the circumstances attending the building of that first Shiloh cabin. The building of cabins in those days was not looked upon as much of feat. All we know of this one is, that it was built in the woods, and that JESSE YOUNG and his sons could easily have built it without outside help, and that they probably did it. All Shiloh was in the woods. The Three Notched Line Road -- in the early times commonly known by the name of the "Hacked Line", and occasionally as the "Three Hacked Line," -- had been cut out as early as 1822, but between that road and the Morgan County line, along the tier of sections on which the Shiloh cabins were afterwards erected, there was not, when the site for that first cabin was chosen, a "stick amiss." What a wonderful growth of trees made the Shiloh forests of that long ago! Where we today see fruitful farms, then grew such an array of mighty beeches and ashes, and maples, and of giant oaks, and poplars, as only this American continent of ours can grow. So dense was the shade during the summer season that the noonday sun could scarce pierce through the arboreal arches above to the moist home of the blue violets below.
     The down trees were scarcely less numerous than the standing. Imagine these in all stages of decay, some newly fallen and some sunk half their depth in the oozy soil, and lying, some by the side of and others across each other, and all enveloped in thickets of spice wood, green briers and young saplings, and you may understand what an impenetrable barrier would confront the horsemen, and even how hard it would be for the footman to wedge his way through.
     The land chosen for the seat of this new neighborhood being, as it is, a part of the table land between the north an south forks of Stott's Creek, was, in the beginning mainly without natural drainage. Here were to be found swamps flooded from the beginning of the winter rains till the coming of the summer drouths [droughts]; nay, swamps that held water the year round. Can I ever forget those spongy marsh lands, with their heavy timber growths, made up in the main of shapely swamp-ash, heavy topped white elm and straight bolled bur oak trees? And if the picture of those swamp forests could, by any means, fade from my vision, could I forget the myriad voices piping from their lagoons on the advent of the spring thaws and the vernal showers?

"And when the course of day was run   
And sunset tints had changed to dun,
There came from out the mud and muck,
A weird wild chorus, chuck cluck che-ruck;
Chuck cluck che-ruck, chuck cluk che-ruck!"

     But there was change even in this swamp life. As the sun crept slowly up from the south and touched to life the white crept slowly up from the south and touched to life the white blossoms of the haw and the wild plum , and the dogwood and the crab-apple growing upon the ridges and knolls, the "Chuck cluck cheruck" song gave way to one pitched in a higher key.

"And there came from out the shadows deep   
Ten thousand voices, peep peep che-reep!
Peep peep che-reep, peep peep che-reep!
Here we come from Lethe's sleep
Here we come from icy thrall
To join in Nature's carnival,
Peep peep che-reep, peep peep che-reep!"

     With the advent of the summer solstice a new set of Musicians leaped upon the stage. All the summer night long the wakeful Shilohan could hear the never ending refrain of these marsh minstrels, crying in chorus, "K-n-e-e deep, k-n-e-e deep and deeper!" "K-n-e-e deep, k-n-e-e deep and deeper!"
     But it was in that dread season, the early fall, when the night air was laden with the deadly miasm, and when the pestilence shadowed the footsteps of the pioneer and stood sentinel at his bedside, that the bull-frog took up the moan and boomed from the fans and bogs his gloomy "Mully Maroon!"

     But let us return from these visions of the marshes to the first cabin home. JESSE YOUNG was not a rich man. Rich men seldom became pioneers in the times of which I write, and certainly there were none who came to our Shiloh. MR. YOUNG already had in the White Oak woods over against Rock Lick, a "large lot of hogs," and he brought with him "eight or ten head of cattle," including a pair broken to the yoke, and one mare, "Old Jewel," who is entitled to honorable mention as being the first of her race to pick browse in these woods for a living.
     By the following spring MR. YOUNG and his boys had about eight acres cleared, which was tilled in corn. History has not handed down to us any of the particulars of that clearing, except as to the rolling of the logs, but if all the trees eighteen inches and over in diameter were left standing and scorched at the roots with burning brush to ensure the death of the summer foliage, while all trees under eighteen inches, and all down logs, save the big oak and poplar ones, were rolled into heaps and burned, that was a well cleared field for the times. The big logs were worked around till the pioneer could find time to "trough" them with fire and thus remove them. Tradition does tell us something about that first log rolling in Shiloh. It occurred in the spring of 1829, and the names of some of those who handled the hand-spike on that occasion have been handed down. GIDEON DRAKE, who must have come all the way from Ninevah, was there, and so were the CARROLLS, BARTHOLOMEW the father, and WILLIAM and JAMES, his sons, and JAMES SPEKES, his neighbor, and SAMUEL WILLIAMS and no doubt PETER VANDIVER. Doubtless there were others, for it was the custom in those days for every able bodied man to go to all the log rollings within his reach.
     It was a year and a half after JESSE YOUNG moved in before he had a neighbor. In the fall of 1829, or early in the following spring, JOSEPH YOUNG, his nephew, built a cabin a half mile west of him. JOSEPH was a Pennsylvanian by birth, but moved to Ohio about the time he attained his majority. When twenty-eight years old he married MARY MOORE, of Brown County, in that State, who was twenty-one. This occurred in the spring of 1828, and the following fall they moved to Indiana, stopping in this county at the Nineveh settlement. On the 17th of March, 1830, they moved out to their new Shiloh home. They took with them two cows, a few hogs and a coop of chickens, in addition to a very little furniture and a goodly outfit of home-spun goods. NANCY JANE, their first born, was four months old.
     The same year [1830] JOSEPH YOUNG moved he cleared about three acres which he cultivated in corn with the hoe and with such success that he raised enough corn to supply him with bread till the next year, at which time he had enlarged his field to five or six acres, and once more cultivating with the hoe, he raised enough for his bread and sold two or three barrels besides, which doubtless was the first Shiloh grain product ever sold.
     The same year [1830] JOHN YOUNG, Jesse's oldest son, married RACHEL TITUS, on Indian Creek, in this county, and took a claim on a tract of land lying south of his father's entry, where he built a cabin and made a clearing of about nine acres, on which his eldest son, JOSIAH was born, all three of whom are now living in Monroe County, Iowa. Afterwards JACOB CORE "entered him out." This occurred in 1831, when MR. [JOHN] YOUNG took a claim in section thirty-two, where he built a cabin and cleared ten acres which, in 1837, he sold to DAVID DEMAREE, and then moved eastward on Stott's Creek, where he built a mill which was for a good many years a great convenience to the neighborhood and some profit to its owners. My earliest recollections of milling go back to that old log mill with its undershot wheel and its hundred yards of mill race. For the first few years it ground corn only, but as the country was cleared up wheat-bread began to take the place of corn-bread on the Shiloh tables, Mr. [JOHN] YOUNG put in a bolting cloth and turned out an article of flour which was acceptable to the housewives of that day.
     On the first day of January, in this year of 1830, GIDEON DRAKE, with his family, moved to section nineteen and opened a farm whereon he lived for many years thereafter. MR. DRAKE was a Kentuckian by birth. Before he attained his majority he moved to Brown County, Ohio, where, in 1822, he married SUSANNAH MITCHELL, and thence as early as 1824 he moved to the Nineveh settlement in this county. In the autumn of 1829 he entered a quarter of said section on which he built a small cabin into which he moved at the time mentioned. Like most other cabins of that day his was a primitive affair. Its clapboard roof was held in place by weight poles. The floor was of puncheons, the chimney of mud, the back wall and jambs of clay, the door of riven oak boards and the window was covered with oiled paper. Six sheep which were nightly housed in a pole-pen to protect them from the wolves, and two cows, were all the live stock he had.
     It was late that New year's afternoon when the family, cold and tired, reached their new home in the woods, but the cheerful blaze of the open fire gave warmth to the body and animation to the spirits. The next morning a moist and clinging snow of six inches in depth clothed the trees and the bushes and the earth in a mantle of white.
     MR. [GIDEON] DRAKE began a clearing at once, and in time to plant the ensuing spring a late crop of corn, he had a small field of four or five acres prepared, but an early fall frost cut short his crop. The second year an additional field was ready for the hoe. Everything eighteen inches in diameter as "high as the knee" was felled, and all brush and sticks piled around the trunks of the standing trees and burned. Amidst the down logs corn was planted and cultivated solely with the hoe. MR. [GIDEON] DRAKE did his milling on Flat Rock for the first year or two. His grists he carried on horseback, and it required two days for him to go and return.
     As an evidence of how completely a pioneer might be shut off from the world in those days, it may be mentioned that it was just one year to a day after MRS. SUSANNAH DRAKE moved to her new home ere she saw the face of one of her sex.
     In this place another anecdote characteristic of the times. The pole-pen in with MR. [GIDEON] DRAKE nightly housed his sheep to protect them from the marauding wolves, was built contiguous to his cabin. One day during the second year of his residence, a wounded deer fleeing before a hunter and his close pursuing dog, passed through MR. [GIDEON] DRAKE'S clearing and finding an entrance to the pen ran in for protection. MRS. [SUSANNAH] DRAKE and the woman whose face she had at last seen, MRS. NANCY YOUNG, investing the animal in its new quarters, captured it and ere the hunter came up had it transformed into a dressed venison.
     GIDEON DRAKE was not a Presbyterian but a Methodist; nevertheless he belonged to this neighborhood. He took an active part in the erection of the first meeting house; he helped nurse its sick and bury its dead. He took part in the building of the Shiloh school houses,and never failed at every school to furnish a bench full of boys and girls. Ten children were born to him and his good wife, seven sons and three daughters, all of whom are yet living, and I rejoice to know that the aged father and mother are still in the flesh.
     How different these days from those! In these, families move to new countries in palace cars, and can send houses already to be nailed together, through on freight trains. Counties are settled up in a season, and villages become metropolises in a few years. It was otherwise in Indiana during the times of which I write. A family a year for the first five or six years marked the growth of Shiloh. In 1831 JACOB YOUNG, a son of JESSE, built a cabin on a tract of Congress land, a half mile east from GIDEON DRAKE'S cabin. He was the one new settler for that year.
     In 1832 JACOB BANTA, from Henry County, Kentucky, constituted that year's accession. He came in the early part of September to this State on a tour of inspection, an being pleased with the prospect as presented in this neighborhood, bought JOSEPH YOUNG'S "improvement" and entering 200 acres of land including the YOUNG tract and the tract on which this church house is built, early in the following October he moved to his purchase, and at once added to his home by building an addition and an double cabin. MR. [JOSEPH] YOUNG then bought a tract in section thirty, near MR. [GIDEON] DRAKE'S which he improved and lived on for over twenty years.
     JACOB BANTA was of Holland descent. It may be interesting to all who are descendants of the Hollanders to know that at the time our ancestors came to this country, family surnames were not common to them. Every man had his own surname which was the Christian name of his father. Thus the first of the Banta tribe to arrive in this country was named EPKE JACOB, that is, Epke son of Jacob. This custom was adhered to by the New York Dutchman for two generations, when they, began to assume family surnames. Sometimes the place whence they came suggested the surname, as for instance, VORIS, or the more correct form, VAN VOORHEES, signifies "from before Hees," the name of the hamlet in Holland whence the family came. Whence the name BANTA, I do not know.
     EPKE JACOB (BANTA) came from Harlingen, East Friesland, Holland, with his wife and five sons to New Amsterdam in 1659. In a few years he is found at Hackensack, [NJ] and in about 1768 his descendant, HENDRICK BANTA, JR., of the fourth generation, is one of a colony that goes to Adams County, Pennsylvania, and ten years later he moves to Boonesborough, Kentucky, and shortly after to Mercer county, and ultimately to Shelby county, near Pleasureville, on the "Dutch tract" where he died in 1805, aged eighty-eight years, the father of thirteen sons and six daughters, nineteen in all, fifteen of whom married and reared families. He had 104 grand children.
     JACOB BANTA was of the seventh generation from EPKE JACOB, the Frieslander.
     But let us linger a little in the dead past. Shortly before the war for Independence a swarm from the Dutch hive in and round about Hackensack, in New Jersey migrated and for a season, lodged at a place they called Conawago, in Adams county, Pennsylvania, close by Gettysburg, a place made famous by one of the best fought battles of the late war. There they built a church, a school house, and made farms.
     After the close of the war many of them once more setting their faces to the Western sun, ultimately took up their abode in Kentucky, most of them at the first in Mercer county. It is doubtless true the original purpose when they left New Jersey was to cross the mountains sooner or later, and it is certain this was accomplished as soon as it became apparent that the Kentucky pioneers by their numbers, gave promise of protection from the Indians. Doubtless there was more than one migration into Kentucky from Conawago, but all were connected by ties of nationality, by a common faith and most of them were akin. Of these old Conawago families that moved to Kentucky the following are familiar as household words to all of us: BREWERS, BRUNERS, BANTAS, BICES, BERGENS, CARNINES, COVERTS, DEMAREES, DEMOTTS, LAGRANGES, LISTS, LUYSTERS, MONFORTS, SHUCKS, SMOCKS, VANNUYSES, VANARSDALLS, VANDIVERS, VORISES.
     True to their traditions these descendants of the Knickerbockers founded churches, built school houses, opened farms, made tan yards, constructed mills, in a word, practiced all sorts of handicraft, and thus did their full share towards developing their country. They were not politicians in the modern sense, yet one of them, PETER BRUNER, was a member of the first constitutional convention of Kentucky. Some of them, as the DEMAREES and the MONFORTS, were of French descent and it is a curious fact that all the school masters, doctors and divines produced by these descendants of the Knickerbockers for a hundred years came from the French blood. Three generations were born and dead before Frenchman or Dutchman dared be a lawyer. Yet, one of their number, more than half a century ago, was honored by a constituency that lifted him from a township magistracy to the Circuit Judge's bench. He, too, was a Frenchman by blood.
     About the beginning of the present century a Mercer county colony moved into Shelby and Henry counties, in Kentucky, to a tract of land yet known in the locality as the "Dutch tract", a name indicating the origin of its purchasers.
     JACOB BANTA'S immediate family lived near Pleasureville, 'Whence he moved to his neighborhood, as we have seen in the fall of 1832. He was barely past his twenty-first birthday, at the time of his arrival, and his wife, SARAH DEMAREE before her marriage, was not quite eighteen. While yet in his teens at his old Kentucky home he had, as the tallest, broadest shouldered and best built man of his militia company, been chosen as their captain. His young wife oftener weighed under one hundred pounds than over.
     The young pioneer entered with zeal upon his farm work, and at the end of three years had not less than fifty acres under fence, thirty-five of which was in cultivation. He planted an orchard that bore fruit for many years, and he sowed the first blue grass seed that ever sprouted into green pastures in his western side of Johnson county. It is not going too far to say, that no man of his day had so promising a future in this neighborhood, in a worldly sense, as he; but alas! How soon did he realize the truth of the Preacher's words, "vanity of vanities; all is vanity!"
     On the 24th day of November of this year, 1832, the first marriage was celebrated in Shiloh at the home of JESSE YOUNG. THOMAS TITUS and MARY YOUNG were the contracting parties, and ESQUIRE JAMES, from the VANDIVER neighborhood, officiated. Shortly after, the newly married couple set up housekeeping over on the extreme south side, but probably not till in the spring of 1833.
     We have come now in the progress of this history to the time of the organization of,this church. In 1824 Presbyterian churches had been established in Franklin and Greenwood. For several years Pleasant Hill, as it was then called, now Hopewell, had been a preaching place and the county was visited from time to time by missionaries zealous in their Master's service, who let no opportunity slip to preach the Word wherever a hearing could be had, or of visiting a family wherever one was found professing the Presbyterian faith. JESSE YOUNG was a pronounced Presbyterian. Twenty-four years after his settlement here, he gave me as a reason for moving from the dryer lands of the Nineveh, the evil influences likely to surround his boys in that vicinity, and the hopeless outlook for a church of his choice. He had the faith to believe that were he to make a home in the unbroken wilderness, he could make his home the nucleus of a Presbyterian neighborhood. Thinking as he did and hoping as he did, it is not to be supposed that his family was unknown to the missionaries visiting Franklin and Pleasant Hill from time to time. I have no certain knowledge that any of these missionaries visited at his cabin prior to the coming to the county of the REV. DAVID MONFORT, which occurred in 1830, but I have no doubt they did, and if so, it is very certain a sermon was preached at every visit. The preacher may have sat in the corner and the family constituted his only congregation, but he would preach the sermon nevertheless.
     Little or nothing is known of MR. [DAVID] MONFORT'S dealings with the families of this neighborhood prior to the organization of the church. JAMES W. YOUNG remembers that he preached at his father's house, but that is all. He seems to have known the Presbyterian people, however, and when the time came for the church to be organized, he was present and saw that it was orderly done.
     Here then in the fall of 1832 were living four families, in two of which, JESSE and JOHN YOUNG'S, the heads of the families were members of Presbyterian churches, and in the other two, JOSEPH YOUNG'S and JACOB BANTA'S a Presbyterian faith was adhered to, but there was no church membership.
     On Indian Creek, in Hensly township, were three families entertaining Presbyterian views -- JAMES WILEY'S, PETER TITUS' and JOHN CLARK'S. WILEY was JESSE YOUNG'S brother-in-law, and had come to the country with him, but never joined this church. Ultimately he went to the Cumberland Presbyterians. TITUS and CLARK were from Adams County, Ohio, and had been living in Hensly since 1825.
     On the 5th day of October, 1832, according to the written record, the church was organized. A computation shows the day to have been Friday, though it is due to history to say that one* who was present and even remembers the text of the preacher, says the day was Monday. The REV. DAVID MONFORT preached the organization sermon from Romans III. 28:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."

     I have never heard a reason given for the organization of the church on Indian Creek rather than in this neighborhood. Of the six foundation members, four were of this neighborhood and two of the Indian Creek. Of the six members, four were women and two men, and the men lived here. JESSE YOUNG was the Father of Shiloh and stood at the front in its organization. From a statement in the record describing the foundation members as "a number of persons residing on the waters of Indian Creek," it might be inferred that it was the original purpose to make the Indian Creek neighborhood.
     *THOMAS W. TITUS the seat of the church, but I cannot believe it to have been so. Very soon after the organization was effected the building of a meeting house was agitated, and I never heard that any other location was talked of than the one adopted. Whatever the reason for effecting the organization on Indian Creek, I cannot but think the purpose from the beginning was to locate it in JESSE YOUNG'S immediate neighborhood.

"Making a Neighborhood", pages 1  2  3
"Making a Neighborhood" INDEX