242 - History of Vermillion County Biographical and Historical Record of
Vermillion County, Indiana

Helt Township


The following list of early settlers of Helt Township, although apparently systematic, can not be supposed to be complete or free from error, but it is as accurate, we trust, as such data can generally be made. The years indicated at the head of the respective paragraphs are the years in which those mentioned came here as settlers, except where otherwise specified.

1817-'18. -- In the winter of 1817-'18 came Obadiah Swayze, who occupied as a "squatter" one of the three cabins just built by the Helts, spoken of in the next paragraph. He, however, remained as a permanent citizen. His remains now lie buried in Helt's Prairie Cemetery, with his wife, two sons and a daughter. He has a grandson, Wesley Wright, living in Kansas City.

1818. -- Daniel Helt, after whom the prairie and the township were named. He was born in Pennsylvania, in 1791, was a soldier in the war of 1812 under General Harrison, and died March 25, 1879, a good man and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. George, John and Michael Helt -- all now deceased. C. B., Thomas, Hiram, E. B. and F. M. Helt were all born here in pioneer times. Augustus Ford, from Ohio, long since deceased. His son John, born in Ohio in 1809, came with him, and died May 6, 1882, an exemplary member of the Methodist Episcopal church, after having lived upon the farm first occupied for half a century. Mr. Rodney, from Maine. John Skidmore, who died at the age of eighty years. Hon. William Skidmore, who was born February 19, 1819, died several years ago. George Skidmore was born in 1824, and Josiah Skidmore in 1831. Samuel Rush, father of James, who was born in Ohio in 1817. This year, or soon afterward, C. C. Hiddle (or John Hiddle, according to one authority), and John Martin came and built the first cabins on Hiddle's Prairie.

1819 -- Samuel Ryerson, who died January 31, 1862, at Clinton. His wife, Phebe, died in the fall of 1874, at the age of seventy-nine years. She was a remarkable woman. At

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the age of twelve years she had never heard one pray. At that time she attended a Methodist meeting, where the expected preacher did not arrive, and the class-leader sang and prayed, which was the means of her conviction and conversion, and she remained a zealous member of the church all her life. She and her husband formed the first Methodist class on Helt's Prairie, consisting of eight persons, soon after their settlement here. A short time before her death she willed $1,500 to the Missionary Society, $500 to Asbury University, $200 to the educational fund of this county, and $200 to the Biblical Institute at Evanston, Illinois, besides other sums, to various individuals.

Matthew Harbison came this year. Joseph Harbison was born in this township in 1834.

1820. -- Mr. Hood, father of Charles D. and S. S., both of whom were born in Tennessee, in 1814 and 1815, and are still living here. According to one authority, Joel Hollingsworth arrived in Helt Township this year.

1821. -- Abraham and Enoch White. The latter was born in Kentucky, in 1814. James Harper. Stephen Harrington, who was born in Ohio in 1814, was a resident here during most of the county's existence. Warham (or "Wirum") Mack, born in Ohio in 1801, died here. The other Macks came later: see under 1832 and 1836.

1822. -- William Andrews, Sr., tanner and farmer, born in Ohio in 1807, (see under 1832), and died of heart decease [sic] in December, 1879, two miles southwest of St. Bernice, a member of the United Brethren church. (For others by the name of Andrews, see under 1832.) John Conley. M. A. Conley, long a resident, was born in this township this year. James Conley, born in Ohio in 1817, is still living here. William Conley was another pioneer.

1823. -- Alanson Church. His son Josiah was born here, September 29, 1823, and died January 7, 1884, two and a half miles west of Summit Grove. Eleven of his twelve children are still living. John Peer, Sr., born in Virginia in 1803, and deceased. John Peer, Jr., a resident, was born here in 1834. The Pearman family; of the younger members, John is living, Benjamin is dead, and besides these there were S. D. and William.

1824. -- John Van Camp, whose house this year was where the first township election was held, moved to Missouri. John Langston, father of Oliver, of Dana. William L. Malone, born in Ohio in 1805, deceased. Richard, his son, was born in the same State, in 1826, and lives in Dana.

1825. -- Caleb Bales, Sr., from Virginia, died in 1836. Caleb Bales, Jr. is living. George Bales, early settler, father of Robert, is dead. William Bales, born in Virginia in 1827, settled in this county in 1831. William F. Bales was born here in 1829. Chandler Tillotson, who came to the county about this period, is dead. Daniel G. and G. B. Tillotson were born here in 1825.

1826. -- Edwin (or Edmund), William and Elijah james. S. R., Joseph, W. A. and S. S. James are all natives of this county. Mr. Keyes, father of Dr. C. F. Keyes. The doctor was born in Indiana, in 1822, brought up in Helt Township, became a competent physician, although somewhat eccentric in style, and died at Dana, February 8, 1884, leaving a wife and five children. John Vanduyn born in New Jersey in 1803, still resides in this township. M. Thompson. Mr. Rhoades, father of Stephen, was born in Kentucky in 1822. William Kearns, born in Kentucky in 1806, is dead. John, his son, was born in 1832, and is still living here. Samuel Pyle, was two years old at this time, when he was brought here; he is still a resident of this township.