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

Gardner, from North Carolina, who settled Walnut Grove: Mr. Worth selected lands which have been held by his family to the fourth generation. Alexander Richardson and wife Mahala at Eugene, he died in Indianapolis in 1864 (or '74), and she March 3, 1880, at the age of seventy years. She was born in Knox County, Kentucky, and was but eight years of age when her parents moved to this State settling at Bloomington. Lewis Hollingsworth was born in this county in 1835. On Coleman's Prairie settled families by the name of Wilson, Dicken, Hopkins, etc.

John R. Porter, A. M., circuit judge for many years, and an advanced farmer between Eugene and Newport, was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, February 22, 1796, of an "old English" family; graduated at Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1815, taking the first honors of his class; studied law, and in 1818 became a partner of his preceptor; about 1820 he came to Paoli, Orange County, Indiana, where he was county clerk, postmaster and circuit judge. While there he married Mary Worth. Receiving from the Legislature the appointment as President Judge of Western Indiana, he moved to this county, settling in Eugene township. His circuit extended from the Ohio River to Lake Michigan. His term expired in 1837. Here he was elected Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the counties of Parke and Vermillion, which office he held until his death, about 1850. He was a prominent statesman in early day, in laying the foundation of Indiana jurisprudence. Was a close reader of Eastern agricultural papers, and also of the ancient classics, and foreign quarterly reviews and magazines. His conversational powers were accordingly very great, and his letters and contributions to the press were gems of eloquence. He was in correspondence, more or less, with such men as General Harrison, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, etc., besides many Georgia "colonels." Prominent men of Indiana were often his guests. He was the leading spirit in all public mass meetings in his neighborhood assembled for deliberation on measures of public welfare. Was president of the Logansport convention, which gave initial direction to the construction of the Wabash Valley Railroad.

As an agriculturist he was scientific and in advance of all his neighbors, -- so far indeed as often to excite their ridicule. He led in the rearing of fine-wooled sheep, and in the cultivation of Switzer lucerne, ruta-bagas, sugar beets, moris multicaulis, Baden corn and hemp. Although these rare things never were remunerative in cash, they paid well in pleasure.

Judge Porter's children were John W., deceased, Isaac, Dewey and Abba. John W. married Henrietta, daughter of Andrew Tipton, a neighbor, and their family consisted of two sons and four daughters. The widow is still living, on the old homestead. Isaac is a successful business man of Danville, Illinois. Dewey is a farmer on the old homestead. Abba married Dr. Davidson, of California, who afterward returned to this county and died on his farm near the old homestead.


Eugene Township, as will be seen from several pages of this work, is noted for antiquities. Besides those related in the introductory chapters of this history, we specify two or three more in this connection, for want of a better classification.

In 1869 Prof. John Collett discovered in a mound near Eugene a small coin upon which was an untranslatable inscription, in char-

Eugene Township - 283

acters closely resembling Arabic. The mound was covered with full-grown forest trees.

Early settlers near Eugene found an ax growing in the heart of an oak with 125 rings of growth outside of it, thus indicating that the implement was left there as early as 1712, probably by a French missionary. While it is generally understood, and is generally true, that a ring of wood growth indicates a year's time, the question has recently been mooted by botanists whether it is always exactly true, as some of them seem to have evidence that there is variation both ways, -- that is, that some unfavorable seasons produce no distinct ring, while other and more favorable years sometimes produce two rings. Different kinds of trees, different stages of development and different situations also produce variations.

In zoology, the following incident illustrates a rare trait of animal nature: One evening about sundown, in April, 1868, as "Eel" Vickers, who lived about four miles northwest of Eugene, was returning home from a house-raising, he was suddenly alarmed by the scream of a lynx, which he soon discovered was in pursuit of him. Being unarmed, he dared not give battle, and began to run homeward with all his might. Of course the beast could easily enough have overtaken Vickers at a bound or two, whenever it desired, but such is feline nature that it occasionally rested a moment and screamed most terrifically. When Vickers approached his house the animal jumped around in front of him, to intercept his passage to the house; but at this critical moment the dogs arrived and chased it away. Its previous yelling had alarmed them and brought them out just in time, but with not a second to lose!

November 7, 1874, George Barbour, a cooper from Browntown, went to Eugene, with five or six other hands, and he, with two or three others, became very drunk. On their way home Barbour was murdered, in this township, and his body so concealed that it was not found until January 18 following, when a man named Smith was passing along the road and chanced to notice a dog at some distance, devouring a suspicious-looking mass! The victim was a man about twenty-four years of age. In his pockets were found several photographs, two or three letters, and a receipt from the Coopers' Union, of Terre Haute, for quarterly dues as a member of that organization.


This village was laid out by S. S. Collett, in 1827, about the "Big Vermillion" mill of James Groenendyke, on a most eligible site. Samuel W. Malone, the present hotel-keeper, who located here in 1827, is the oldest living resident, and is still an active man. James P. Naylor, father of William L., came the next year.

As previously remarked, Eugene is another example of those numerous towns that were killed by the railroad passing just at killing distance; but it is a beautiful place for a quiet residence. The present population is estimated at about 500. Two or three conspicuous features strike the stranger who visits the place. One is, a most magnificent row of sugar-maple shade trees for a distance of two squares on the west side of the main business street. Each tree, with a perfectly symmetrical head, covers an area of forty feet in diameter. In the western part of the village is the most beautiful, perfect, large white elm the writer ever saw.

The ground upon which Eugene is situated is just sandy enough to be good for gardening, and at the same time prevent being muddy in rainy seasons. Wells are sunk only eighteen or twenty feet to find the purest