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

young, and died at Covington not long afterward. Mrs. Payton with her five children, of whom Mrs. Downing was the eldest, in 1827 moved to Vermillion County, where all died with the exception of Mrs. Downing and Mrs. Margaret Mitchell of Clinton. The mother was again married to James Booher, who died in 1845. She died in February, 1849, aged fifty-five years. The two children born to her second marriage are deceased. Mrs. Downing was first married December 20, 1829, to Thomas J. Hiatt, who died March 3, 1834. She married Jonathan Downing December 20, 1834. Jonathan was twice married, taking for his first wife Miss Eve Hammond, who died October 23, 1828. She left at her death two children whose names are Mrs. Delilah Doty, now living in Madison County, and Mrs. Perie Charlton, who died at Tuscola, Illinois. Decatur Downing, whose name heads this sketch, has been all his life identified with Vermillion County, and has always taken an active interest in promoting any enterprise which tends toward its advancement. His educational advantages were limited to the common schools of the county, and of these he made good use, and in the broadest sense he may be called a self-made man. But thirteen years old when his father died he was taken into the home of John Payton, his maternal uncle, who whom he remained as an employe [sic] in his warehouse and mercantile establishment, until twenty-two years of age, and during this time he laid the foundation of his successful business career. When twenty-two years old he became a partner in his uncle's business at Toronto, Vermillion County, which business relation existed until 1873. Mr. Downing was married October 18, 1860, to Miss Matilda Richardson, who was born in Clinton Township, Vermillion County, March 7, 1842, a daughter of William A. Richardson, She died at Toronto November 30, 1873. Clearing his business relations with his uncle, Mr. Downing with his only surviving child, Sarah Eliza, who was born August 29, 1861, again established his residence in Clinton. He has lost two children: Frank, who died October 9 1865, aged over three years, and Blanche, who died July 24, 1869, aged six months and thirteen days. Since returning to Clinton Mr. Downing has been one of the active business men of the place. In 1875 he became senior member of the firm of Downing & Nelson, dealers in produce and agricultural implements. In 1876 the firm was changed to Downing & Hamilton, erecting a large warehouse to accommodate their increased trade. This firm continued until 1887, when Mr. Downing retired from the business. September 21, 1886, he married for his second wife Mrs. Sarah Sophia (Jaques) Haselett, a daughter of John and Mary (Vannest) Jaques, and a granddaughter of John Vannest, the first settler of Vermillion County. She was born near the pioneer home of her grandfather in Clinton Township, March 9, 1844. She was first married to William J. Haselett, who was born in Putnam County, Indiana, July 15, 1843, and to this union were born four children -- Mallie B., Edith L., William J. and Emma G., the third child, who died aged two years. Besides his fine residence and other property in Clinton Mr. Downing owns three farms in Clinton Township aggregating 570 acres. In politics he was identified with the Republican party from its organization until within the past few years. In 1886 he was the candidate on the National Labor Reform party and endorsed by the Republican party for election to the Indiana General Assembly in his district comprising Sullivan, Vigo and Vermillion counties, and although having a plurality of 1,200 votes to overcome was defeated


Biographical Sketches - 321

only by thirty votes, which shows the esteem in which he is held among the men whom he has lived so long. He has served as commissioner of Vermillion County several years with honor to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents.



THOMAS CUSHMAN, deputy treasurer of Vermillion County, is one of the veteran officials of the county. He is a pioneer of the county, locating in Perrysville in January, 1836, where he resided until 1872, when he was elected auditor of the county, and moved to Newport, where he has since lived. He was born in Onondaga County, New York, October 15, 1814. His father, Seth Cushman, was born in the State of New York and was a direct descendant of Robert Cushman who came to America in the Mayflower in 1620. He was reared in his native State and there married Nancy Runyan, a native of the same State, of English descent, her parents belonging to a prominent family in New England who later settled in New York. In the spring of 1818 Seth Cushman moved with his family to Sullivan County, Indiana. Immigrating West seventy years ago was a slow and tedious undertaking. Several families accompanied Mr. Cushman, the party going by ox team to Olean, New York, when they constructed a flat-boat and floated down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers to Evansville. Here they separated, each family going its own way. Mr. Cushman, bought a team at Evansville and went north to Princeton, where he spent the winter. The following spring he went to Sullivan County, and pre-empted forty acres of land which he began to improve. His family at that time consisted of eight children, their ages ranging from two to twenty years. Mr. Cushman did not live long to see his pioneer home develop and the country around it become improved. From the effect of exposure and the malarial character of the country he contracted disease which resulted in his death in the spring of 1821. He was reared a Quaker, and possessed that high moral and religious nature, characteristic of that sect. Honest and upright in all his dealings, he and his wife were worthy representatives of that brave pioneer element that is fast passing away. After the death of the father the family remained together and the boys continued the improvement of the farm and also added to it. In 1829, when fifteen years of age, Thomas went to Vincennes and obtained employment in the store of Tomlinson & Ross, where he remained five years. He then went to Perrysville, and engaged in general merchandising with George Bishop and R. D. Moffatt. In 1841 Mr. Bishop withdrew and the firm of Moffatt & Cushman continued until Mr. Cushman's removal to Newport in 1872. Mr. Cushman was married in Perrysville, in 1847, to Susan E. Firth, a native of Kentucky, where her parents died when she was a child and she and a sister afterward had a home with Elijah Roseberry and with him came to Vermillion County in 1844. Mrs. Cushman died in March, 1859, leaving five children, only one of whom is living -- William J., now of Danville, Illinois. In 1862 Mr. Cushman married Mary A. Baxter, widow of Dr. John S. Baxter. She died in July, 1883, leaviing a daughter, Carrie Glanton, now the wife of William L. Galloway, of Wichita, Kansas. Mr. Cushman began life poor and whatever success he has gained has been due to his own efforts. In early life he was a Whig, but since its organization has been allied to the Republican party. His first presidential vote was cast for General Harrison in 1840. There never