Friendsville Precinct


The first permanent settler of Friendsville Precinct was John Wood. He was born in Maryland and was a Revolutionary War soldier. He had farmed in Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky. His last location in Kentucky before coming to Wabash County in 1809 was Barren County. In the spring of 1809 he built a cabin on the NE 1/4 of Section 36, T 1N, R 13 W. He finished his cabin and returned to Kentucky in the fall to bring his family, consisting of his wife Martha (Ogle) and children Susanna, Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, Alexander, Jeremiah, Rebecca, Eli, Martha and John. Three of the children married the children of Enoch Greathouse, the first man to settle where Mt. Carmel is now located. John Wood brought with him young apple trees and planted an orchard. These were called the Wood apple and they were propagated in many places within the precinct. Jeremiah Wood built the first water ill in the precinct around 1817 or 1818. It was located on Crawfish Creek about 3/4 of a mile above the wagon road leading from Friendsville to Patton. This was probably in Section 25.


William Barney set out from New York in 1808, traveling by water down the Ohio River by flatboat and then by keelboat up the Wabash to Ramsey's Rapids, just above Palmyra. (Ramsey's Rapids was where Moses Bedel built a mill later and the ripple on the river is now referred to as Bedell Dam.) The men in the group explored the land west of the Wabash until they came upon a large prairie where the grass was 10 foot tall and chose to settle there. This is known as Barney's Prairie now. The Barney cabin was built shortly after John Wood built his cabin and was located on what is now the south edge of Friendsville. Later the Friendsville Academy was built on the same site. The Academy building became the grade school later.


Barney brought his wife and nine children; George, William, Richard. James, Betsey, Jane, Sarah, Clara and Ann. Three sons-in-law who came in the group were Ransom Higgins, Philo Ingram and Wilbur Aldridge. Ransom Higgins was the son of George W. Higgins, another settler in the group from New York and Ransom was married to Mary Barney. Ransom was a wagon maker. He built a mill on Barney's Prairie Creek in 1813 and built Ft. Higgins. Barney's Prairie Creek appears to start in Section 23 and runs roughly east into Sections 25, 30 and 29 until emptying into Crawfish Creek in Section 29. Modern maps show it much straighter than the 1888 map so the creek may be part of a drainage district and has been excavated.


The Barney cabin was where the village of Friendsville stands now but the village was not laid out in the SE 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of T1N, R13W until 1854. The proprietors of the village were William R. Wilkinson, John F. Youngken and Cyrus Danforth. Friendsville was named for a town in Pennsylvania where many of the settlers came from about that time.


In April 1812 the Harriman massacre occurred in Lawrence County. The Shawnee tribe of Indians roamed the Wabash valley and had camps along the river at various places and were angry about white settler encroachment on lands they claimed. Indians had been stirred up by the leader Tecumseh and were being paid for scalps by the British. There had been other massacres in Crawford County. So several forts and blockhouses were built in Wabash County for protection. By 1810 Wood and his neighbors constructed a fort for protection from the Indians. Its location is said to be south of Friendsville, where the old Wood Cemetery is located. This is on property now owned by the Dunkel family. The cemetery can be seen at certain times of the year to the east of Friendsville Avenue. It is located in the NE 1/4 of Section 36. In 1816 a larger fort was built called Ft. Barney. Ft. Barney was 60 by 100 feet and made of sharpened logs placed upright in the ground. It was about half an acre in size and would hold 50 families. The traditional location of Ft. Barney is on the north edge of Friendsville on a hill on the west side of Friendsville Avenue. Another fort called Ft. Higgins was built north of Friendsville. None of these forts was ever attacked but two men and several dogs would stand guard each night. In the winter of 1812 the fort was thought to be insufficient and everyone moved to Indiana to a large fort in an area called "The Neck", the land in Indiana between the Wabash and White Rivers south of Vincennes.


Mr. Preston was one of the first people buried in the Friendsville Cemetery. His homestead was in the W 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of section 23. Philo Ingram settled on the land in the NE 1/4 of Section 30. Wilbur Aldridge made his home in the NW 1/4 of Section 24.


Willis Higgins came west from Allegheny County ahead of his father and brothers in 1812. He settled in the S 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Section 14. He was said to be a fine hunter and made repairs on guns for his neighbors. Later he taught school in 1821-1822.


After Indian uprisings were quelled and fear of attacks were calmed, a great migration came to the area in 1815 and 1816. George Higgins, John Higgins, Edward Brines, Henry Utter, Lemuel Haskins, David Moss, John Harrison, Benjamin Smith, Levi Couch and their families arrived from New York in 1816. They set out on the Alleghany River, which begins in northern Pennsylvania, winds northward into southern New York and Alleghany County then makes its way southwest through the west side of the Appalachian mountain range before joining the Monongahela at Pittsburg to form the Ohio, The mode of travel was family boats which they used to navigate the Ohio. Near the junction with the Wabash (possibly at Evansville) the group exchanged their boats for keel boats which the men then poled up the Wabash to Palmyra. From there they moved overland to choose the sites for their homes after receiving guidance at Palmyra.


George Higgins, Edward Brines, Henry Utter and Lemuel Haskins settled in Friendsville Precinct, south of their other fellow travelers who located in Lancaster precinct. This group purchased land farther south in Friendsville Precinct in the area known as Bald Hill. The area is a bit hard to locate today but was said to be about 4 miles west of Palmyra. That would make it west of the Ogden community in the area that Wabash Avenue 17 passes through. Henry Utter was a millwright and had been a soldier in the War of 1812 and was called Major throughout his life but it is not clear how he obtained that title. He was one of the first county commissioners and was instrumental in Wabash County being separated from Edwards County. A militia had formed and drilled on his property. He was elected Illinois State Representative in 1824 and introduced a bill to make the separation into two counties complete. The fuss began in 1821. Major Utter was the pioneer ancestor of the Parmenter and Henneberger families. He is buried in the Hallock Cemetery on N 1600 Blvd.


Nathaniel Claypool came to the precinct in 1814 and settled on the NW 1/4 of Section 32. In 1815 he served as the County Clerk of Edwards County. This was before Edwards County was divided into Wabash and Edwards counties. The same year Thomas Pulliam came to the NW 1/4 of Section 32. Nearby the Decker brothers, John and Moses, settled. Decker's Prairie was named for them.


William Higgins and his brothers A. and E. Higgins came from Pennsylvania in 1815. William settled on the SE 1/4 of Section 24 and the brothers made their home on the SE 1/4 of Section 18. The brothers did not stay in the area long.


Jarvis Dale came to Friendsville in 1815 and settled on the SW 1/4 of Section 20. He married Patience Chaffee. Her family were early settlers. Mr. Dale was a farmer, mechanic and horse trader. Henry McGregor came in 1815 and settled on the SW 1/4 of Section 31. John Smith, Jr. came from Ohio in 1815 and made his home on the NE 1/4 of Section 21. He made his living as a tin smith and was known as Tinner Smith. He was a big joker and their were several stories about his jokes on his wife.


William and James Pool came from Hamilton County, Ohio in 1815. James was a minister, farmer and a tanner. William returned to Ohio after about 5 years. James was the first minister in the area. Josiah Higgins settled on the SW 1/4 of Section 13 in 1815. Ephraim Reed came the same year and settled on the W 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of Section 13.


The Knapps were from New York state. James Knapp was the county surveyor for many years,. John Shadle who was a German from Pennsylvania came in 1815 and settled on the NW 1/4 of Section 31. His two sons, Henry and John came with him. Shadle was a carpenter and a good farmer. He was said to be the only one who could raise wheat. In 1866 there was a Shadle school district southeast of Friendsville. Charles and John McNair came from New York in 1815. Charles was a prosperous farmer and a carpenter. He was a tanner and currier for several years. His brother did not remain long. Currying is "the separation of tanned skins for the purpose of imparting to them the necessary smoothness, color, luster and suppleness."


Gervase Hazelton settled on the SE 1/4 of Section 32 in 1815. This property was immediately north of Palmyra. In 1866 he also had property adjoining this to the southwest. He also owned a great deal of property just across the river in Indiana. Hazelton, IN is named for him. He was a prominent man in his day and one of the proprietors of Palmyra. He was a member of the legislature, was an auctioneer and operated a horse mill on his property. Hazelton married Eliza Osgood in 1816. Her father Nataniel Osbood was a Revolutionary War soldier.


Coles Besley was a large and powerful man who brought his children with him; James, William, Catherine and Susan, when he settled on the NW 1/4 of Section 18. George Litherland came in 1816 with his 3 children William, Matthew and Mary. He settled on the SE 1/4 of Section 24 and was a good farmer. George and his wife Catherine (Courter) were charter members of Barney's Prairie Christian Church. There are many descendants of George and his brother James in Wabash and Lawrence counties.


In 1816 William Brown came from New York and settled on land in the NE 1/4 of Section 11. He raised a large family of children there. John White was also from New York and settled on the NW 1/4 of Section 12 in 1816. He had 3 wives and raised a large family of children, some of whom came with him from New York. Brown and White were on adjoining 1/4 sections. The SW 1/4 of Section 12 was settled by Reuben Blackford in 1815. Benjamin Taylor came from Ohio in 1816 and settled on the E 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of Section 13. He brought his son Theoron and 1 or 2 daughters. Mr. Taylor had some medical knowledge and doctored many people in the precinct. He also operated a cotton gin. The land of this group of settlers in Sections 11, 12 and 13 was just south of the Allendale-Lancaster blacktop and on either side of Friendsville Avenue.


Mr. Z. Warner came from New York in 1816, bringing his family and settled on the W 1/2 of Section 20. David Daily settled on the W 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of Section 20 around 1816. Henry Chrisman came from Indiana and was a carpenter and millwright. He settled on the SW 1/4 of Section 20. He helped build Bedell Mill. He was a very strong man and was said to be the stoutest man in building the mill.


William Courter was the pioneer ancestor of the Courter family in Wabash County. He came to Friendsville precinct from Perry County Indiana in 1816 and his family traveled with the George Litherland family. Courter was a Christian minister and he purchased land about 2 miles east of Friendsville. Some of his descendants are the Chapman, Blood, Jackman and McFarland families. James Fordyce came from Indiana and purchased land in the NW 1/4 of Section 34. His marriage to Susan Gard took place on June 28, 1815 with Reverend Jeremiah Ballard officiating.


Colonel Simmonds brought his family of four; Stephen, Medad and 2 daughters in 1820. He laid out an old town called Mt. Pleasant in the NW 1/4 of Section 1. He set up a horse mill there. The locality was known for a time as Clark's Corners. A Dr. Duke was there for a time and Mr. Hunt had a store there and there was a blacksmith shop. This would be just north of Wabash 17 Avenue. There is a small group of homes there now off E 850 Road at N 1750 Lane. Could this be the old town of Mt. Pleasant?


Mr. Tuttle, a hatter, came from Connecticut in 1817 with his five children; Horace, John, Betsey, Sarah Ann and Nancy. Their home was in the E 1/2 of Section 1. Betsey married Capt. Clark who settled near his father-in-law at the edge of old Mt. Pleasant. Curiously after his death around 1830, his body was exhumed for an autopsy. The cause of death was poisoning.


The Melson family came in 1817 or 1818 and settled on the S 1/2 of Section 8. Mr. Fields was another early settler on the N 1/2 of Section 8.


Robert Bell, a Revolutionary soldier came from Rockbridge, VA in 1818 with his children George, Hiram and Jane and settled on the SE 1/4 of Section 22. Hiram became the first recorder, circuit clerk and county clerk and county surveyor of Wabash County and kept the offices until 1860 and surveyor until 1853. He was a Brigadier-General of the Second Brigade and Second Division of the Illinois militia. Bellmont is named for the family and some of his descendants were Judge Robert Bell and Brace Bell Beemer (Lone Ranger).


Asa Smith came in 1818 and settled on the W 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of Section 5. George Omen/Oman came from New York in 1818 with his family of nine children; John, George, Mary, Priscilla, Anna, Minerva, Jacob, Eliza and Henry. He settled on the NW 1/4 of Section 18. Henry shot and killed Ezra Warner with a motive of jealousy. The Warners had come from New York about 1817. Jeremiah Wilson settled on the E 1/2 of Section 7 in 1818. He was a carpenter and boat builder. Cyrus Danforth came from New York with his family in a keel boat in 1818. He intended to go to Terre Haute but was stopped at the Grand Rapids just north of Mt. Carmel. He feared sickness at Palmyra so struck out cross country and found Barney's Prairie to his liking and made his home there.


Adam Corrie Jr. came from England in 1818 and purchased a large tract of land in Decker's Prairie. About fours years later five brothers and sisters and the Milligan family came from Scotland and settled there.


Job Pixley built the first house about 1818 where the village of Friendsville was built later. He came from Ohio near Cincinnati with his wife Parthena, sons William and Asa and daughter Abigail. Abigail married James Andrews who built the second house at what became Friendsville.


Dr. Ezra Baker Jr. brought his family of two children from Philadelphia in 1820 and purchased a farm near Gard's Point. He was wealthy and well dressed, sociable and well spoken. He was a leading citizen of old Centerville and the founder of Rochester, which at the time had surpassed Mt. Carmel in commerce. He also was the proprietor of Bennington in Edwards County. After over extending himself he died a puaper in Philadelphia.


Harry Ingram came from New York around 1820 and settled on the W 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of Section 19. Edward Mundy, an attorney, came from New York in 1820 with his wife and son Phineas. He practiced law several years in Wabash County and then went to Michigan where he became a circuit judge and lieutenant governor of Michigan.