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

Episcopal church in Perrysville. Mr. McNeill has been county surveyor of Vermillion County, Indiana, was for a number of years, examiner of school teachers for the county, and has been a notary public continuously for over a quarter of a centruy. He, under order of court, has been a commissioner to divide real estate among the heirs of deceased persons oftener than any person that has ever resided in the county. He was also enrolling officer for Highland Township, and always had much to do with public affairs and filled the various positions with credit and ability. In addition to the drug business he and his son William K. McNeill are engaged in farming and stock-raising on their farms near Perrysville. Mr. Mc Neill is a Republican and has been an active member of that party since it organization -- is an unwavering believer in the truths of the Bible and in orthodox Christianity, as taught in the standard authorities of the Methodist Episcopal church. He was eminently loyal to the Government during the rebellion, and never became dispondent during its darkest days -- expressing his views as he often did "that the Lord of Hosts was not dead and that the Devil did not reign -- therefore the Government would finally triumph and the rebellion be put down." Mr. McNeill is outspoken in whatever views he may hold -- is public spirited, charitable, liberal and kindly disposed but will not suffer his rights trampled upon. At the age of nearly seventy years, does as much work and pushes his business as energetically as when young.



DAVID W. BELL, an active and enterprising business man is a native of Vermillion County, Indiana, born at Eugene, December 26, 1856, a son of Thomas W. Bell of Eugene, who was one of teh early settlers here. David W. passed his boyhood at Eugene, receiving his education in the schools of this place. At the age of fourteen he went on a farm, where he farmed for three years. He went to Terre Haute in the spring of 1876 and was there engaged in the drug business until 1879, when he returned to Eugene where he has since been engaged in the drug and general mercantile business. He is associated with William W. Hosford, and both being live business men, have established a good trade which is steadily increasing. Mr. Bell is the present accommodating postmaster at Eugene, having been appointed to this office in 1885, his commission bearing the date of April 27, 1885, and signed by Grover Cleveland.



BENJAMIN HARRISON, one of the old and honored pioneers of Vermillion County, dates his birth February 8, 1805, in Rockingham County, Virginia. His parents, William and Molly Harrison, were also natives of Rockingham County, his father being one of the prominent men of the county. He was also a Captain in the war of 1812. The subject of this sketch grew to manhood in his native county, where he was reared to agricultural pursuits, which he made the principal avocation of his life. His education was limited to a few months attendance at the subscription schools of that early day. In 1825 he accompanied his parents to Ohio, they settling in Gallia County, but the following year he returned to Virginia, and was married in his native county to Miss Jane A. Bright, January 3, 1827. They were reared in the same neighborhood, and were playmates in early life. She was born in Rockingham County, the


Biographical Sketches - 319

date of her birth being January 19, 1806. Thirteen children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, of whom seven are living at the present time -- Mrs. Abbie Davidson, born in Virginia; Robert also a native of Virginia; Milo; Calvin; Charlotte, living with her father; Franklin and Joseph. The remaining children died in early childhood, with the exception of Alexander, who died in 1876 at the age of thirty-seven years. Mr. Harrison continued to reside in Rockingham County until October, 1832, when he came with his family to Vermillion County, and made his pioneer home on Brouillet's Creek, where he bought a tract of 320 acres. After clearing some fifteen or twenty acres of this land he sold it, and in 1837 he removed to his present farm on section 19, Clinton Township, where he now owns about 500 acres of land, 200 acres being bottom land, and unexcelled in the county.  April 2 1887, he was bereaved by the death of his wife, who had shared with thim the joys and sorrows of life for over sixty years. Mr. Harrison was reared a Democrat, but at the time of the Rebellion he stood firmly by the administration of President Lincoln, and since then has been one of the active Republicans of Vermillion County. Perhaps no man in Indiana has filled successively the office of magistrate as long as the subject of this sketch -- a period of thirty-eight years. In 1842 he was elected justice of the peace, holding that office until 1880, when on account of his advanced age, he refused a re-election. During his term of office he proved an efficient officer, and his decisions were always wise and just. One fact in his official career speaks well for his wise judgment, that not two cases decided by him were appealed to the higher courts. During his long residence in the county he has gained the confidence and respect of the entire community, and made many warm friends. Paricularly is he loved and honored by his children, who have all settled around the old home.



DECATUR DOWNING, of Clinton, is one of the representative men of Vermillion County. He was born in Clinton, Indiana, January 23, 1836 a son of Jonathan Downing, who was born in the State of Maryland June 12, 1806, and a grandson of William Downing, who settled near Columbus, Ohio, moved to Clinton, Indiana, in 1818, and died here March 7, 1822, aged forty-six years, his widow surviving until March 27, 1842. Jonathan Downing passed his youth principally in Ohio. In 1820, two years before the death of his father, he came to Clinton, Indiana, then strong, ambitious and of good habits, and sought employment among the pioneer farmers, but shortly after reaching manhood he commenced an active business career. In the employment of others as clerk he gained experience, and became the business partner of B. R. Whitcomb, in Sullivan County, and later he established himself in the grocery trade at Clinton. Some years later he was elected magistrate, and served efficiently in that capacity, to the entire satisfaction of his constituents. In 1846 he removed to Newport, Vermillion County, where for a short time he kept a hotel, and also bought and shipped produce to New Orleans and other points. In 1848 he returned to Clinton, where he died in 1849. His widow, Mrs. Eliza (Iliatt) Downing, still survives, and makes her home with her son Decatur Downing, the subject of this sketch. She was born at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 6, 1815, a daughter of Robert Payton, who with his family moved to Kentucky when Mrs. Downing was quite