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Irwin Digby


Submitted by Carolyn Schwab
Newport Hoosier State, Thursday, August 27, 1874

An Interview with One of the First Settlers of Western Indiana

IRWIN DIGBY, one of the oldest pioneers of Western Indiana, who emigrated to this county in 1815, was in town on Saturday last. He can give a full and complete history of the early settlement of this county. He helped survey a large portion of the public land that lies north of the Big Vermillion River, and says he was on the Tippecanoe battleground shortly after the termination of the War of 1812. His brother WILLIAM DIGBY purchased from the government the most of the land on which the city of Lafayette now stands, and laid out that city. Mr. IRWIN DIBGY, moved from Butler County, Ohio, to Vigo County, Indiana, in 1813, where he settled. Terre Haute was not then laid out, and where that thrifty city now stands, was an open prairie. He says his uncle JOHN and NICHOLAS BAILEY established the first ferry across the Wabash River near Terre Haute. About 1817 he made a trip with 6 other men to this county, went to Saltbanks on the Big Vermillion River, and from thence they went across the Grand Prairie to the then town but now large and beautiful city of St. Louis. On this trip their provisions gave out and they were compelled to butcher and eat a dog that was with them to keep from starving to death. He says that when he first settled in this county, there were no mills nearer than MARKLE on Otter Creek prairie. He says he has, many times, pounded corn into coarse meal in what was called a hominy mortar. It is really interesting to hear him give a history of the hardships and privations of the early settlers of this county.