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Jay County Indiana Biographies

Peter Studebaker
On the 15th day of February, 1821, Mr. Peter Studabaker 
and Miss Mary Simison were joined in the bonds of holy wedlock 
at the house of the Simison family, where Fort Recovery, now 
Mercer County, Ohio, now stands. The newly married pair re- 
solved to go still farther on the frontier and hew out for them- 
selves a home in the wilderness. So they gathered their house- 
hold goods, and with several friends entered the wilds, soon 
striking the "Quaker Trace" leading from Richmond to Fort 
Wayne, which they followed until they reached the Wabash 
River. This spot was their destination, and upon the low bank, 
near the water's edge, they prepared to "camp." Cutting four 
forked poles, they drove one end of each into the ground, laid 
poles and brush across the top, and their camp was completed. A 
fire was kindled at one end. by which the young wife cooked 
supper for her company — hei first experience in house, or rather 
camp-keeping, by herself. Their simple repast was highly 
relished and soon dispatched, and they retired to rest, blankets 
spread upon the ground serving for beds. 
Sleep had scarcely calmed the wearied company when they 
were aroused by the yells of a gang of approaching wolves. 
Elsewhere came an answering howl, then another and another, 
till the forests seemed ringing with their hideous yells. The 
howling became so terrific, the dog sprang out and threatened to 
give battle, but soon came bounding back, panic stricken, and 
jumped upon the nuptial bed. As they lay there, so close to the 
bank, they could see about a dozen wolves at the water's edge on 
the opposite shore. Soon they heard the sharp, savage snap of 
wolf-teeth near their bed, and glaring eyes shone in the darkness 
within six feet of their camp. The men sprang from the ground 
in alarm, seized their rifles and fired. The howling pack fled in 
haste and did not return. Again the men lay down, and soon 
"tired nature's sweet restorer" calmed their fears, and they slept 
soundly till morning — perhaps dreaming of the pleasant homes 
and dear friends of their childhood. Thus camped and slept the 
first white family that ever trod the wilderness which fifteen years 
afterward became Jay County. 
This was on the farm now owned by Samuel Hall, on the 
south bank of the Wabash, at New Corydon, Soon Mr. S. built 
a cabin, "all of the olden time," and into it they moved, with the 
naked earth for a floor. This cabin, the fist home of that now 
widely known pioneer family — a rude hut twelve by sixteen, of 
small round logs, with clapboard roof held on by "weight poles," 
— was the first civilized dwelling ever erected in our county. Un- 
broken forests were on every hand ; no house within fifteen miles 
— no mill or store in thirty-five. Their only companions were 
Indians — their only foes were wolves. 
These animals, always annoying by their constant howling,
were often very troublesome. It was next to impossible to raise 
stock of any kind. Once a wolf came up to the house in open 
daylight, to attack a calf, when Mrs. S. appeared, and it ran off.
At other times they were still bolder. One night a pack attacked 
the hogs. Mr. S. went out with his gun, his wife holding a torch 
while he shot at them five times, but without effect, and they 
came still nearer, snapping their teeth almost within reach. They 
seemed bent on an attack, and the entreaties of his wife prevailed 
on him to go into the house. 
Mr. Studabaker obtained a livelihood in various ways — principally by hunting. 
His delight was- to be in the wilderness, beyond the reach of society and 
its innovations. He loved the quiet grandeur of the forest, and the excitement 
of hunting deer, squirrels, otters, wild ducks, wolves and bears, possessed to him 
irresistible charms. The game he killed furnished meat for his 
table in abundance, and of the rarest kind. But they had other 
sources of income. Even at that early day many travelers passed 
along the "Quaker Trace," and they all stopped to enjoy the hos- 
pitality of these pioneers. In fact, at that time it was rather a 
matter of necessity, as the distance in either direction to any 
other house was a day's travel. The "Quaker Trace" was so 
called because it was opened and traveled by the Quakers of 
Wayne County, on their way to Fort Wayne market. 
Mr. S. sometimes traded provisions to the Indians for furs,. 
and by selling the furs added something to his income. An inci- 
dent of this kind is worth relating. 
In the fall of 1821, Mr. S. and Thomas Robinson, who then 
lived on the "Prairie," in what is now Adams County, went to 
Greenville and got some flour, and bringing it to the Wabash, dug 
out a large canoe and started down the river, to sell their flour to 
the Miami Indians, in a town at the mouth of the Mississippi — 
one hundred miles by the river route, and a few miles above 
Peru, Miami County, Indiana. Easily and rapidly they glided 
down the smooth waters of the Wabash. In the afternoon of the 
;second day they came in sight of the town. They soon saw that 
the Indians were on a desperate "spree," and were dancing, sing- 
ing, yelling and fighting. They wisely concluded it would not be 
safe to visit the town that night; so they rowed up the river a 
.short distance, anchored their canoe, went ashore and camped for 
the night. The next day they went down towards the town. 
Robinson staid with the canoe, while Studabaker went to nego- 
tiate a sale of the flour. The first Indian he met was a squaw, 
named "Big Knife," with whom he was well acquainted. She told 
him they had had a terrible time the night before, and that in the 
fighting several Indians had been killed, and that they were then 
all in their huts, sleeping off the effects of their revelry. He in- 
quired if any of the men were sober. She replied that one was, 
and offered to conduct him to the hut where that Indian slept. On 
their way through the village, which seemed almost deserted, they 
passed by a young Indian who was lying with his stomach ripped 
open, and part of his entrails lying upon the ground, but still 
alive. They went and aroused the sober Indian, who, after much 
painting and ornamenting, went with Mr. Studabaker to the 
canoe. On their way they passed the wounded Indian. A 
squaw was sitting by his side, weeping, replacing the entrails, and 
with an awl and deer's sinew was sewing up the horrible wound. 
The Indian looked at the flour, and pointing to the sun and the 
western sky, said that when the sun reached such a place the 
Indians would get hungry and come and buy. At the appointed 
time this sober Indian came down to the canoe, followed by the 
others, each of whom purchased a small quantity of flour. Our 
adventurers then returned, occupying about three days in their 
slip-stream rowing. 
Thus the family endured very many severe hardships during 
their stay at this point on the Wabash. So the first families who 
■settled in each section of the county endured privatations and trials 
which would have overwhelmed others less patient, energetic and travel. 
To the comfortably situated residents at the present time 
these trials seem almost incredible. Here is a leaf from the life 
of Mary Studabaker: 
Late in the autumn of 1822, the Indians, as they were some- 
times in the habit of doing, stole two colts — one from Mr. Studa- 
baker, and one from his brother-in-law, John Simison. In the 
early part of winter Simison came to Studabaker's, and the two 
men set out for Wapakoneta, Ohio, in search of the colts among 
the Indians of that country. Before leaving, Mr. Studabaker 
hired a boy from the settlement to stay with his wife, who then 
had a babe only three months old, to cut the wood and build fires. 
The men had been gone scarcely an hour when this boy proved 
treacherous, and left Mrs. Studabaker and her child entirely alone. 
This placed her in an alarming situation. Her husband expected 
to be absent nearly a week ; the weather was very cold, and she 
had no wood and but little strength. She was fifteen miles from 
any neighbors, in a wilderness full of roving gangs of Indians and 
wolves. The prospect was a dreary one. She saw her dangerous 
situation, and with heroic fortitude resolved to do her utmost to
save herself and child. She devoted herself assiduously to chop- 
ping wood and building fires. Quite naturally she sought the 
kinds of wood which would chop the easiest, and sometimes cut 
"buckeye," the poorest of all wood. This made it difficult to 
keep good fires; but she managed to get along without suffering 
much, except from loneliness, until the fifth day, when the weather 
turned extremely cold. All this time had passed, and she had not 
seen a human being. Even the sight of an Indian would have 
gladdened her heart. This day she built a fire, but it would not 
burn. She chopped more wood and piled the great fire-place full; 
but all in vain. To use her own words, 'it seemed to be, as it 
is said to be in Greenland sometimes, too cold for the fire to burn." 
Disheartened and despairing, as her last hope, she took her babe 
and went to bed. Here they must lie until assistance came, or 
freeze to death! But the kind care of an ever-watchful Father in 
Heaven was upon her. In about two hours Mr. Studabaker came 
home, bringing the stolen colt. He soon built a large, comfort- 
able, crackling fire. How great was her joy at this very op- 
portune rescue! 
Mrs. Studabaker gives the following account of the survey 
of this part of Indiana by the government surveyors. In the 
winter of 1821 and 1822 James Worthington, of Columbus, Ohio,, 
son of Governor Worthington, accompanied by nine assistants, 
came to Mr. Studabaker's, and made their home with him during 
the three months occupied in making the survey. Having two 
sets of instruments, they operated in two distinct companies, and 
surveyed the territory now making the counties of Jay, Adams and 
. They gave Mr. Studabaker a plat of their survey, which 
was very useful to the early settlers for many years. 
About forty rods below Hall & Arnett's mill, at New Cory- 
don, is a tree on which many dates have been cut, and among 
others the figures ''1822." They are now grown up, so as to be 
barely visable, and have every appearance of having been put 
there at that time. It is quite likely the work of the government 
The first person born in Jay County was Abram Studa- 
baker. He was born in the little cabin on the Wabash, Sep- 
tember 29th, 1822, a child of the wilderness — the first born of the 
family and of the county. His life was but a blossom, having died 
March nth, 1824, at Fort Recovery. Another son was afterward 
given the same name. 
Mr. Studabaker moved to the Wabash with the intention of 
making that his permanent home ; but the frequent overflows of 
the river at that time discouraged him, and finally led him to move 
away. One evening in the spring of 1822 several travelers 
stopped to stay all night. The Wabash was quite high, but not 
unusually so. Mrs. Studabaker made a bed on the floor, in which 
the travelers retired to rest. In the night, one of them thought 
he felt rather "moist," and on turning over found the puncheons 
were floating. They got up; one went up in the "loft," and the 
other concluded to nap the rest of the night away on the logs of 
wood by the fire place. But the family, being more fortunate, 
were on a bedstead, and slept there until morning, when they 
found all the puncheons except the two on which the bedposts 
rested, floating about the room. Mr. Studabaker waded out and 
brought his canoe into the house, and took his family to dry land 
in the woods, where they camped until the water went down, 
which was in four or five days. In this way the Wabash over- 
flowd the land about his cabin, and he moved back to Fort Re- 
covery, having lived in Jay County about two years. 
Mary Studabaker has been a pioneer all her life. She 
was born March i6th, 1796, in Sherman Valley, Penn. At the age 
of two years her father, John Simison, moved to Kentucky and 
settled within six miles of Lexington. Residing there six years, 
they moved to Warren County, Ohio. After living there ten or 
twelve years, they moved to Greenville, and from there, in the 
spring of 1817, to Fort Recovery. There was not a single family 
living in the region of the Upper Wabash. They were the first 
pioneers of Fort Recovery — that place so celebrated in history 
as the scene of St. Clair's defeat, and Mary was afterward of Jay, 
and still later of the south part of Adams County. There was a 
trading house then at Fort Recovery, built by David Connor. It 
was about twelve feet square, and surrounded by pickets — logs set 
in the ground reaching about eight feet high — as a protection 
against the Indians. Into this house John Simison and family 
moved. Mr. Simison farmed the ground upon which the town 
is now built, while his boys did the hunting. He raised most of 
the living for the family, but had to go to Greenville to find a 
store and mill. He had a hand mill, and sometimes ground on 
It was while living here that the Treaty was made with the 
Indians, October 6th, 1818. Dr. Perrinie, of Greenville, attended 
that meeting. Starting in the morning, on foot, he expected to 
reach Simison's that evening; but night overtook him while he 
was in what is now Madison Township. Finding he must camp 
out, he was much alarmed lest the wolves should devour him. 
Coming upon a much-broken tree-top, he set about building a 
camp that would protect him. Out of the broken limbs he built 
a very small, oval-shaped pen, leaving a hole at the bottom. Into 
this he crept, and drew a stick, prepared for the purpose, into the 
hole after him, thus effectually blocking all entrance. Curling up 
there, he slept soundly. Some time after this Thomas Robinson 
settled beside Mr. Simison — then soon moved to Adams County. 
But sorrow was in store for this family. Mrs. Simison died 
in September, 1820, and on the last day of that ever-memorable 
year, she was followed by her husband. His burial took place on 
New Year's day, 1821. Thomas Robinson and Peter Studabaker 
happened to be there at the time of his death, and making a rough 
box which had to answer for a coffin, they buried their pioneer 
friend. But for the fortunate presence of these men, none beside 
the mourning orphans would have been there to perform the last 
sad offices for the lamented dead. 
In a few weeks Mary was married, and entered upon her 
brief life of trials in Jay County. After moving back to Fort Re- 
about twelve years, when he moved to Adams County, where he 
died June 15th, 1840. He was born in 1790, in Moreland County, 
Pennsylvania. Mary now lives with her son Abram, in 
Adams County, Indiana, in a log house, with one of those great 
old-fashioned cabin fire places, which so abundantly dispense 
warmth and cheerfulness to the inmates. It is about sixty feet 
from the river, upon the banks of which she has lived since her 
childhood days, nearly half a century. By the side of its quiet 
waters she was wooed and won, and has devotedly braved many 
dangers, reared a large family, and followed her husband and 
several children to the silent tomb. She is now seventy-four 
years of age, and though in feeble health, her mind still retains its 
I original vigor. Strong common sense, quick perception and 
[good judgment are her characteristics. Indeed, without these 
Equalities, she could not have passed through so rugged and event- 
ful a life. Her son, Hon. David Studabaker, has resided for 
many years in Decatur, Indiana, where he has been, and still is, 
I a prominent attorney. He has represented that county in the 
I Legislature of the State, and was for four years the State Senator 
I from that district composed of the counties of Jay, Adams and 
Wells, in which position he sustained himself with credit. 

Reminincises of Adams, Jay and Randolph Counties
Author: Lynch, T. A., Mrs., b. 1854, comp. cn
Publisher: [Fort Wayne, Ind., Lipes, Nelson & Singmaster, job printers
Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
Language: English
Call number: 31833008272400
Digitizing sponsor: Internet Archive
Book contributor: Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
Collection: americana
Notes: No TOC. Very tight margins. Some pages have text bound too far into gutters.
Scanfactors: 46

Published 1897 by Lipes, Nelson & Singmaster, job printers in [Fort Wayne, Ind .
Written in English.

Edition Notes

Compiled by Mrs. Martha C. M. Lynch. cf. Introduction.

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