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

large. He was prominent in advocating the law providing for the construction of gravel roads, under which State gravel roads have been made throughout Indiana; but he was most forward in advocating compulsory education, at a time when very few dared to favor such a measure. Also, he rendered great service to the cause of education by assisting Hon. James D. Williams, then a Senator from knox County, and since Governor, to obtain the passage of a law requiring that the surplus bank funds be distributed among the counties to be loaned at interest for the benefit of common schools, instead of leaving it, as before that was the case, only in charge of the State officers to inure to their benefit exclusively. Also, he saved from defeat the bill providing for county superintendents of schools, and he was the first to advocate the establishment of a State home for the feeble-minded. Mr. Collett was a Whig in early life, and became a Republican upon the organization of that party; but, notwithstanding his zeal in the cause of Republicanism, he was the choice of Governor Williams in 1879 for the Chief ot the Bureau of Statistics and Geology, then just established. In assuming the position, he found himself under the necessity of devising the methods for gathering statistics, and although embarrassed for the want of sufficient appropriations of money, he succeeded in collecting much valuable information on a great variety of important subjects. This was compiled in two volumes of over 500 pages each, on a plan which has not since been materially departed from. While serving in this office, his influence led the State House Board to institute a series of scientific tests, which resulted in permanently establishing the superiority of Indiana building stone over the other kinds that before had been in use; and thus was developed in his State an industry which every year brings great wealth to the people. But Mr. Collett's greatest notoriety is as a scientist, especially in the departments of Geology and Palaeontology. When but eight years old he displayed a remarkable aptitude in the collection and classification of geological specimens. As he grew older his talents in these respects became so marked, that scientific men in all parts of the United States opened correspondence with him, and received great benefit from his contributions to science. For the last ten or fifteen years no man has been a more enthusiastic and successful student of the hidden treasures of the earth's crust in this region; nor has any one furnished more valuable or welcome information to the scientific world. From 1870 to 1878, as Assistant State Geologist, he contributed nearly 1,000 condensed pages of matter concerning the counties of Sullivan, Dubois, Warren, Lawrence, Knox, Gibson, Brown, Vanderburg, Owen, Montgomery, Clay, Putnam, Harrison and Crawford. While State Geologist, 1879-'84, he compiled four volumes, averaging over 500 pages each, on the Geology and Palaeontology of Indiana, which have become standard books of reference in all parts of the civilized world. These reports embrace a large number of illustrations of great value to students of science as well as to miners. The report of 1883-'84 gave to the public the first geological map of Indiana ever published. Even when appropriation from the State funds fell short, Mr. Collett advanced thousands of collars from his own purse to keep his assistants in the field and his department steadily running; and for this the State is still indebted to him. Since the expiration of his term as State Geologist he has been engaged in various literary and business enterprises, which allow him rest and quiet, and to make trips in different directions across the continent. In all the positions he


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held he has exhibited a remarkable capacity for excessive hard labor and endurance, both mental and physical, often doing much more than one would suppose was possible for any man to do. In religion, Mr. Collett is a believer in Christianity, and his predilections are in favor of the Presbyterian church. In keeping with the instinct of the family, he still maintains his residence at the old homestead near Eugene, where his chief enjoyment consists in agricultural pursuits and scientific studies. In stature he is six feet two inches high, straight as a plumbline, and of a military bearing; his eyes are a piercing gray; complexion fair; hair formerly auburn, but both that and his beard are now snow white and of patriarchal length; mouth wide, and of an affable outline; nose indicating a marked character; in motionm he is quick and determined. In the prime of life he could outwalk three ordinary men, and hence have the advantage in rambling over hill and dale in the examination of the earth and collecgtion of specimens. In walking, he does not, as many do, keep his eyes just before his toes, but cast forward at a great distance, indicating energy and high ambition.


ELIAS PRITCHARD, auditor of Vermillion County, Indiana, is serving his second term, having been elected in the fall of 1880, and again in 1884, his present term expiring in 1888. He is a representative of one of the pioneer families of Vermillion County.  His father, Ezekiel Pritchard, was a native of North Carolina, removing thence when a young man to Pennsylvania, and from there to Ohio, where he married Eleanor Watson, a native of Pennsylvania.  About 1828 they moved to Indiana and settled in Clinton Township Vermillion County, where he died July 12, 1838.  He entered 120 acres of land on section 5, township 14, range 19, which he partially improved, building a log house, setting out an orchard and erecting necessary farm buildings. He was a hard-working, honest and respected citizen, and had many friends among the pioneers. He left at his death a widow and fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters, all of who grew to maturity, and all but one of the deceased left families. Those living are John, of Joliet, Illinois; Mrs. Elizabeth Payton and Mrs. Maria Hill, of Clinton Township; Mrs. Mary Cottrell, of Terre Haute; Johnson, of California; Mrs. Martiin Curtis, of Edgar County, Illinois, and Elias. Elias Pritchard was born in Clinton Township, October 12, 1838 and has always been identified with his native county. He was reared a farmer, remaining on the farm until twenty-four years of age, when he was employed as clerk in a dry goods store, and in 1870 engaged in business for himself at Bono, when he continued until his election in 1880 to his present position.  He is an efficient public officer, fulfilling his duties conscientiously and with painstaking care.  Mr. Pritchard married Miss Mary A. Patrick, of Edgar County, Illinois, daughter of Samuel and Maria (Nichols) Patrick. They have had four children, of whom only one, a son, is living -- Ordie E., born April 18, 1879. Their eldest, Ella M., died at the age of sixteen years, and Grace and Blanche aged respectively six and nine months. In politics Mr. Pritchard is a Republican, being the only one of his family who votes that ticket. He cast his first Presidential vote for Lincoln in 1860, and has voted for every Republican nominee since, with the exception of 1864 when he was absent from the State. He is one of the prominent and substantial citizens