Finfrock were their modern successors. George Ward was proprietor
of the village tannery on the out-lot across the creek from the
old village. This was quite an enterprise of its day, many cords
of tan-bark were used and a large quantity of leather
manufactured. Joseph Taylor was the skilled tanner. The office
was quite a place of the "town club" for social chit-chat and
amusement. Henry Evans, a large, portly man, and a brother-in-law
of Taylor, was the early shoemaker of the village. His successor
was Alexander Dunwoody. One John Grissom was the village tailor,
whose residence was where the Big Four depot now stands, for it
must be remembered, the "Bee Line Railway" came buzzing down the
old State Road, which was then Main street, monopolizing both,
the right-of-way being readily ceded to the Company, so anxious
was the pent-up village and community for egress and access to
the outer world, and five thousand dollars in stock was taken by
the township, besides Mr. Geo. Ward as Representative of both
Darke and Shelby in the Legislature, labored and lobbied
assidously for Sidney and Jacksonville for the "Bee Line" route
to Indianapolis as against Piqua and Greenville, which towns got
left to the left.
Early Schools in the Village.
We put it thus, because the first village school was on the site whcre the present commodious and imposing high school building stands, but there were school houses located in the village of much earlier date. One of the two primitive school houses of the log-cabin type with its description and location has already been given in these pages. Robison of
whom mention was made as first teacher, was succeeded by one Issac Reed, quite a scholarly man, especially on thc line of astronomy, which suggests:
The Meteoric Display of 1833 And Incidents.
On the occasion of this memorable night, that the stars fell, and most thought, that the great day of the Lord had come in the night, and the conflagration was about to begin, his nephew and name sake was sent to Uncle Isaac to ask him "what of the night?" Out on a log gazing with calmness and pleasure, he replied, "It is one of the most remarkable meteoric displays known to astronomers." Wilson, Aunt Sally's husband, who was something of a scholar and a teacher, when told the stars were falling, said, "Oh, no, not thc stars, else the earth would be knocked to atoms." Old Uncle Jimmy Hole was called upon to refer the matter to the Lord in prayer, and his voice rang out so as to be heard for two miles around, that his many nephews and other relatives could hear and thereby be comforted, either by reflex influence, or that the Lord would directly interfere. Old Aunt "Betty" Ward, a Baptist sister, who believed what must be, would be, retired with her children to the apple cave and waited the Lord's disposal of the matter, Who disposes of events justly, wisely,and benevolently, whatever his creatures may believe.
Village School Houses.
The second school building was a frame erected, or was a store room removed to the lot that is now the town's gravel pit, so like the ground whereon it stood, many of its pupils have been wheeled away. Some of the teachers of about these years, were a sort of traveling missionary pedagogues, whose names dropped out in the mists of the past. Then there were James Greer, Thomas Goodall, Dr. Williamson, Robison Brandon, and Jacob Miller. The third school house
in the village was a low, but rather roomy building, located west
of Samuel Hoover's residence. Here Tom Goodall, Samuel
Stevenson, and 'Lance Cutting taught the young mind the idea to
shoot, and also the young boy how to "scoot," particularly Tom
Taylor and John Kerns. Rev. O. H. Sheldon, an aged and eminent M.
E. divine, held forth in this building prior to his erecting the
little frame church building where is now the more commodious and
modern M. E. church. Upon one occasion when Dr. Williamson had
returned from a professional call in the country, coming into the
room very much chilled, he took occasion to replenish the fire
and warm before the services began. Upon Sheldon's appearing half
an hour afterward, he inquired with some emphasis, "who made that
fire?" The doctor answered frankly, "I did," upon which Sheldon
remarked, "Well, Dr. Williamson is the last man I should think
had that little sense!" This afforded a good deal of hilarity for
the audience assembled and the doctor as well, but the old
divine didn't smile.
The Coming of the "Bee Line" Railway
First came the surveying party locating the route in 1851 or early '52. To make the curve into and through the village, so as to interfere as little as possible with the real estate, then again verge north and west and get the grade across the valley, sufficient to ascend the sloping hill beyond; required no little calculating, figuring, and reconsidering on the part of Engineer Wells. But J. C. Reed's old, little, frame store, and Grissom, the tailor's, residence, had to go and give the railway track the right-of-way. Then came the contractor, old Billy Kelly, and the Irish laborers, who "spake" the Celtic language, to the natives, a strange, rythmic tongue, to cut the grade and make the fill, where high, with wheel-barrow
load after load, they wheeled, the culvert made and all's complete. When pay-day came, and they sallied forth their shanty villa red to paint, not a few were the broken heads, bruised faces, and bloody noses. Sometimes they broke the peace and order of the unpoliced village and collided with the citizens, then forth came the men of fistic fame, stalwart forms, and brawn of arms as police force, the mob to quell, though it require battle bloody. The grading done and ties piled here and there along, the crew laying the rails of the compound "T" type, came, and the iron horse neighing and puffing, and the train of flat cars loaded with rails, pulled, at rear end was two cabooses, where they ate and slept. Then forth came the populace from village and country, hill and dale, young and old to see the railway and a railway engine, for this was in '53, and such scenes, at that early date, were rare enough. Then followed Engineer Seymore with his gravel train, and John Madson, who with his Irish crew who too, the Celtic language spoke, to take out the gravel from the great gravel pit on the old William Hoel farm, which the railway company purchased of his heirs, and then sold to William E. Laramore, their first station agent, and the village post master of early railway days, an old Virginian by birth, genial, myrthful, and full of jest, and prominent figure of the town thereafter.
A Red-Ribbon Day.
A few months further on, the day we celebrate came and Engineer Seymore had proclaimed that the company would give a free ride to the "sinking pond," an undergrouml lakelet, six or seven miles east of the State line, and over which the railway passed, but to make a sufficiently solid grade, vast quantities of timbers, loads of boulders, and tons of earth had to be thrown therein. Then again forth came the populace, young swains and gay belles, lads and lasses, old men and matrons, a motley and patriotic concourse, to ride upon that train of flat cars with temporary seats improvised; or as spectators to see the great pageant. Then the whistle gave signal,
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