Letter From J. C. Beck
The Early History of Middletown
This letter was published in the New Castle Courier
March 24, 1876
I wish to give you a little sketch of this village. The first settler of this town was Thomas Gardner; Coons came soon after. Among the first settlers were; David Davis, (the blacksmith and warmhearted Freemason,) Edward Davis, Nathan Riley, Lewis Summers, and the VanMeters. Gardner built his cabin near the spring, a very fine one, then and now furnishes water enough for the entire town and the vicinity. Henry Pierce was the first merchant, Joseph Bowman second, and soon after two brothers by the name of Moffit. The Moffits were pro-slavery Virginians and became dissatisfied and sold out and moved to Missouri. They were single gentlemen.
I should have mentioned that Jos. Yount ever since October1835, has been a resident of our city. He purchased the Moffit's store and became the fourth merchant. Mr. Yount was born near Waynesboro, Virginia, December 24, 1805, and is now in his seventy-first year, and to look at and converse with him you would not believe him to be over forty-five. He married Saphira Crim, sister to the banker and agricultural president Wm. Crim, of Anderson. Mr. Yount and his wife with their all in wagons, arrived here in October, as previously stated, and a log cabin being empty, they put some of their carpets on the rude floor and some over head, and thus they spent their first winter in this place, and I have often heard him say the happiest winter of his life. The next spring Mr. Yount built a two story frame house and moved into it, and was then able to unload his wagons, which had stood all winter with his household goods in them. Mr. Yount began to keep tavern and prospered. Dr. Henry, Henry Pierce and the Moffets and others boarded with him. Pierce died with milk-sickness, and told Mr. Yount where he had his money, and to take charge of it for his brother. His death was very sudden and unexpected to all but Mr. Pierce, who contended that he could not live and would not see the light of another day. To the surprise of every one, Mr. Yount turned over $700 in silver to the brother of the deceased, who came here dome months after. This money Pierce had saved up from an insignificant trade, as people thought, a very small store.
The Moffitts, after a year's residence, became weary of a free State and offered to sell out to Mr. Yount who was unable to buy, and they being aquatinted with him and excellent judges of human nature, sold to him on long time and easy payments, and really said they would not ask him for the money, but to send it t them as he could spare it from keeping up his stock. Before dismissing this part of the subject, I must say that in this community which has neighbored and traded with Mr. Yount for almost a half a century, that his reputation has been like Caesar's wife, always above suspicion, and he now has the respect of the entire community.
The next merchants were Dr.Geo. H.Ballingall and Bushrod W. Scott, and soon after Frank Murphey, and those since that are now in the goods business are too recent to mention, as they are known to everybody, and I would not like to speak of them unless they would pay you a large sum of money for advertising their wares. I may say they are getting along slowly because they do not advertise.
The Oldest Jurist in The County
I do not mean to say the oldest man, for he is quite a young and active Justice of the Peace. I allude to Chauncey H. Burr, who came to this vicinity in 1830, when there were but thirty-eight voters in all of that quarter of the county called Fall Creek township and Middletown became its capital. In 1835 he was elected a Justice of the Peace, and has held this office ever since, and I may say his decisions give not only general satisfaction, but are sustained by the higher courts when a litigant has the money to throw away on an appeal. Mr. Burr secured a post-office here and was made the first post-master. There was a mail carried from New Castle to Chesterfield without any post office between these two points. As I have not space to mention intermediate ones, I will say the J. D. Farrell is the present post-master.
The first doctor here was Joseph Henry in 1832. He came here with Esq. David Shawan. Dr. Henry was a native Philadelphian. He had received a fine education during his minority, and on arriving at man's estate he became overwhelmingly in love with a sweet girl, a school-mate, who reciprocated his affection, but her parents opposed the match with such vigor that a communication with his love became impossible, and he left his native city and came west to Brownsville, Pa., where he boarded a flat-boat and descended the Ohio and Mississippi to Natchez, and returned to Cincinnati and out to where Mr. Shawan then lived back of Cincinnati, where he taught school and studied medicine and graduated, and then with Mr Shawan came here in 1832, as mentioned, and was here several years before his modesty permitted him to get into a good practice, as he uniformly refused to be second choice, he must be first choice or not all. Dr. Henry attended many with the milk sickness, and always heaped imprecations on the disease because it was mysterious an unmanageable. He attended our first merchant, Henry Pierce, when he died with it, and when told by Pierce that he must die, Henry would not and could not believe him seriously ill. Finally Doctor Henry took the milk-sickness and declined all medical aid till the day before his death he sent for that kindest of our early medical men, Dr. Joel Reek, late of your town, who remained with his patient all the time till he died. Dr. Henry was a gentleman and a man of honor, and beloved and respected by his friends and lamented by all who know him, but the truth of history requires that I should say he did not die as one having hope and faith in a beloved Savior who died for him. From the beginning of his fatal illness to his last breath between efforts to vomit he usually spent in the most horrid oaths and imprecations on the disease that was destroying his life. Dr. H. died as he had loved crossed in love and bachelor.
Dr George H. Ballingall was the next physician, and for some years lived on a farm east of town. Dr. B., was a Scotchman with all the characteristics of his nation. He was for years our county surveyor, and in 1850 was the only Whig elected to the Constitutional Convention from this county, as the Free Solers held the ribbons that year, and they bargained with the Democrats and elected the Fusion ticket, with the exception of Ballingal. Daniel Mowrer was the Democrat and Isaac Kinley was the Free Soiler who were sent to the Convention that year.
Dr. Albert Preston, who afterwards married Dr. Ballingall's daughter, was the next physician. He now lives at Greencastle, Indiana.
Dr. John Horne was the next, and married a Miss Scott, niece of the late Bushrod W. Scott. He now lives at Yorktown.
Dr. L. W. Hess, a student of Doctor Horne's was the next physician. He is very well known over the county, and as he is well known in county politics as in medical circles, it would be useless for me to say he lives in Cadiz.
Dr. John I. Guysinger came next and located here in September, very poor and destitute, but before Christmas he had booked nearly nineteen hundred dollars. His favorite prescription for fever (intermittent) generally was quinine, saltpeter and calomel. He has seen more ups and downs in finances than in medicine. He has been below zero and above summer heat, and then below zero again, and is again above the freezing point. He lives at the station beyond Anderson, and this side of Frankton.
Dr. W. F. Boor, who came here with Dr. Guysinger, lives in your town. I may add, without impropriety, that he was then a young man, and that now his son is L. W. Hess's son-in-law and is also a doctor. Dr. Boor, we are getting old!
Dr. Roland T. Summers was our next physician. He was a descendant of the Summers that came here at an early day, and died not long since.
I will say nothing of the present generation of doctors here, as they are quite numerous and do not advertise. I have given you a brief mention of the political, commercial, judicial and medical history of our point, and it would not do to quit this letter without giving some account of some the theologians in, our have been in our community.
He was one of our early preachers, and his descendants are nearly all preachers of the Christian Church, generally called Campbellites by their opponents. Benjamin, Daniel and David, his sons have become renowned as debaters on Christian doctrine. I wish I had the data so I could say more about Joseph Franklin, who died nearly thirty years ago, but I can add that his grandchildren are preaching the word of God to the present generation, I allude to Benjamin and Joseph. There may be others of his grandchildren in the ministry. The children all inherit their talents from their maternal ancestor and their qualities as debaters from their paternal side. Joseph Franklin's wife was one of the most talented women in our early times, and did a great deal towards the elevation of the standard of intelligence. She survived her husband many years. She, as her husband, died with the hope of having part in the first resurrection. They were both good, honest persons, loved by all who knew them.
Rev. Aaron Davis
There is in this town a remarkable man who has preached the word of God for half a century or more-----a man born in North Carolina, October 11, 1805. At eighteen years of age he was converted, and became a Methodist----he was religious from boyhood---and after six months was a licensed exhorter, by Rev. Mr. Hedge, of that conference. In 1825 he married and moved Ohio and thence to Indiana in 1830. In 1831 he united with the United Brethren Church, and was sanctified to the ministry by that church and soon after sent out on his first circuit, and in 1836 preached through this county, one of his appointments being near Honey Creek, at a church called White Chapel. His circuit that year was, from beginning to end, twenty-eight stations, classes and appointments and 360 miles in length, and he preached at each place every four weeks. This circuit was traveled through the woods, blazed traces occasionally, and included all the tract of country from the Indian Reserve-now Tipton county-to and including Bartholomew county on the south, this corner of Delaware and third county on the east, and Indianapolis on the west. He lived his three score years and ten, and has been blessed beyond his companions in length of days and health and happiness, and is now spending a serene and happy life in our village. He believes that God has children in all churches, and that he will guide and direct them in the way of all truth, shield and defend his own form sin, temptation and woe, and keep them from all harm of the evil one, knowing that there are guardian angels all the time watching over the saints and "encamping round about the righteous and delivering them" - Psalm xxxiv., 7. The angels are "all ministering spirits sent to minister unto the heirs of salvation" - Paul to the Hebrews.
My letter is already too long; I must quit....J.C. Beck