The science of agriculture—for it is a science as well as an art—finds an able demonstrator as well as successful practitioner in the person of Arch W. Byers, who is widely known in Johnson county, maintaining a very productive and desirable farm in Franklin township. He comes of a very highly honored pioneer family, members of which have played well their parts in the general development of this favored section of the great Indiana commonwealth.

Arch W. Byers, well known throughout Johnson county as the owner of the celebrated “Melrose Farm” in Franklin township, was born on December 28, 1869, in this township, and is the son of Henry S., Sr., and Maria (McCauley) Byers, natives of Kentucky, his mother being a daughter Dr. Robert McCauley, a native of Scotland, and the latter was also one of the early pioneer physicians of Johnson county, where he was held in high esteem. Henry S. Byers, Sr., was born in 1823 and died in 1900. He came to Johnson county, Indiana. with his father, Henry Byers, in 1825, the family settling in Franklin township, where the father had filed on government land, one hundred and sixteen acres of this tract being still in possession of the family. Henry S. Byers became an extensive land owner and live stock man, owning at one time five hundred and eighty acres in one tract. Besides this tract he bought other land and gave a farm to each of his children, allowing them to pay out in time. During his life he owned over one thousand acres of land and was numbered among the most prosperous agriculturists of Johnson county. Politically, he was a staunch Whig, and upon the formation of the Republican party he became aligned with that political faith, from which he never departed. He was a member of the Home Guards, and his religious membership was with the First Mt. Pleasant Baptist church. The subject’s mother died 1901. They had become the parents of thirteen children, of whom nine were reared to maturity, namely: Robert McCauley, who died at the age of forty-two years; Sarah M. Vandivier, of Franklin township; George W. of Franklin; Alonzo N., of Franklin township: Adeline, who married a Mr. Wilkes and lives in Hensley township, and Caroline, the wife of Mr. Riggs, of Franklin township, are twins; Sylvanus, of Franklin township; Susanna (Mrs. McCaslin), of Franklin township. R. N. McCaslin now occupies the old home place, where the subject of this sketch first saw the light of day, it having belonged to the old Dr. McCauley estate. The house, a fine old brick mansion, was built in ante-bellum days, but was burned down during the war and later rebuilt. The subject of this sketch received his education in the little brick school house near his home, and he was reared to the life of a farmer. Upon starting out in life for himself he applied himself diligently to the vocation of agriculture, spending seven years on his father’s farm. In 1897 he received one hundred and thirty-six acres of the home farm on which he built a house, and in time he paid his father for the land. The father had a peculiar plan of distributing his property among the children. When a child had accummulated [sic] two thousand dollars, the father gave him a farm and also two thousand dollars and gave him time to pay for the land without interest. The payment notes were five hundred dollars yearly, and if all the notes aggregating thirty-seven hundred dollars were paid as they came due they bore no interest. Nine children in the family were thus treated, and were thus enabled to accumulate good estates. The subject lived on his tract of land for eleven years and then traded with George W. Byers for his present farm, which comprises one hundred and thirty-one acres, and which is improved with a fine sixteen-room modern residence, large and substantial barns and other necessary outbuildings. Mr. Byers feeds stock largely with the grain produced on the farm, and has thus been able to realize unusually good profits from his efforts. He keeps fifteen to twenty full-blooded Jersey cows and sells the milk from these, averaging three hundred pounds a day or thirty-five gallons. He has twenty acres of land planted to wheat, fifty acres to corn, fifteen acres to oats and forty acres to clover and hay.

Politically, Mr. Byers is a staunch and active supporter of the Progressive party, heartily endorsing the policies of that party as promulgated by Theodore Roosevelt. His religious membership is with the First Mt. Pleasant Baptist church, to which he gives liberally and which he is a regular attendant.

In 1890 Mr. Byers was united in marriage to Nona Nichols, and to them have been born two children, Paul and Raymond Nichols.

Reverting to the genealogical ancestry of the subject of this sketch, it is worthy of note that the emigrant ancestor of the subject, George Frederick Byers, who came from Germany to this country, married Catharine Sams. Among their children was Henry, born January 15, 1788, who married Elizabeth Wylie, September 5, 1811, and whose death occurred on April 14, 1865. They had eleven children, George, Sarah, John, Isaac, Benjamin, Henry S. Sr., Catharine, Elizabeth W., Cynthia Ann, Jacob and David. Henry was born in Pennsylvania and, having lost his father while quite young, he was taken into the family of Demaree, who brought him to Henry county, Kentucky. He was there reared and in the spring of 1825 he was married and moved to Indiana, the trip being made on horse-back, on which he also carried a sack of flour. He entered a farm five miles southwest of Franklin, the same being that now owned by Sylvanus Byers, of which he cleared five acres and planted it in corn. He then returned to Kentucky after cultivating his crop and brought back his family. He was an expert drummer, and was presented with a drum by the state for his services during the Indian troubles. This drum, with the gift inscription, is now owned by Arch W. Byers. Henry Byers married Maria McCauley on January 9, 1845, and to them were born the following children: Robert M., born November 17. 1845, died November 30, 1887; Mary E., born March 27, 1847, died September 18, 1851; Sarah M., born October 4, 1848; George W., June 15, 1851; Alonzo N., October 3, 1853; Caroline, December 7, 1855, and Adaline, the same date twins; Sylvanus, April 20, 1858; Clarissa, July 4, 1860, died April 4, 1863; Rachel, November 10, 1862, died December 4, 1862; Almira, February 7, 1864, died April 22, 1865; Susanna, April 13. 1866; Arch W., December 28, 1869, the last named being the immediate subject of this sketch.

Mr. Byers long been numbered among the progressive agriculturists and public spirited citizens of this county, and is now the owner of a very desirable farm property and is one of the substantial men of his community. Endowed by nature with strong mental powers and possessing the courage and energy to direct his faculties in proper channels, he early became a man of resourceful capacity, as the able management of his private affairs abundantly testify. He possesses the happy faculty of not only making friends, but binding them to him by his good qualities of head and heart.

Branigin, Elba L. History of Johnson County. Indianapolis, IN: B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc., 1913. pp 765-768

Transcribed by Lois Johnson