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398 - History of Vermillion County Biographical and Historical Record of
Vermillion County, Indiana
James Burns, was one of the pioneers of Parke County, Indiana, settling there as early as 1828, on wild land when wild animals and Indians were numerous. The latter camped within a half mile of his home. The father being a farmer, our subject was reared to the same avocation, his youth being spent in assisting in clearing and improving the home farm and in attending the rude log cabin subscription schools of his neighborhood. Mr. Burns was first married in 1847 to Caroline Vanlandigham, a daughter of Thomas Vanlandigham. Mrs. Burns left at her death one child, Caroline, who is now the wife of Enos Kuhn, of Lawrence, Kansas. Mr. Burns was married a second time in 1857 to Mary Millikin whose father Stephen Millikin, was an early settler of Helt Township, Vermillion County. Seven children were born to this union, of whom four are yet living -- Mary L., Edward H., Belle and Joseph. In 1851 Mr. Burns purchased the ferry property, which he has since owned, operating it himself for twenty years, and now running it by hired help. In 1872 he built a warehouse near where his factory now stands, and in 1873 Josephus Collett, Isaac Porter and himself built the Montezuma Fire Brick Works, which he has since operated successfully. He is also the owner of a fine tract of 300 acres of land, surrounding his factory. He is a member of the Odd Fellows order, and a much respected citizen, having by his fair and honorable dealings gained the confidence and esteem of all who know him.



GEORGE W. EDWARDS, the present efficient postmaster at Clinton, is a native of Indiana, born in Lawrence County, November 11, 1827, and is the fifth child and third son born to John E. and Margaret (Brindley) Edwards. His parents came to Vermillion among the pioneers of 1829, crossing the Wabash River midway between Newport and Clinton. They established their home in the forest about one and a half miles south of Newport, their old homestead being owned by Charles Potts. There the family lived many years, and finally changed their residence to Helt township, where the parents died when but little past the meridian of life. George W., the subject of this sketch, was reared and educated in Vermillion County, where he has lived from the age of two years with the exception of five or six years. He was the first man who left Vermillion County to try his fortune in the California mines, joining a party numbering twenty-one in Coles County, Illinois. They commenced their weary march on March 9, 1850, which occupied 175 days. Their route ran through Fort Hall, Fort Kearney and Fort Laramie, and at these places were seen the only buildings in 2,000 miles. Dr. Joseph Goodman, their only physician, died on the plains of Kansas, after a few hours sickness, which led to gloomy forebodings, but no other loss was met with. During the journey Mr. Edwards rode not more than ten miles. He spent two years in California, in mining and prospecting with varied success, the wild life agreeing with him, and in this time he improved his health if not his wealth. He returned via the Isthmus of Panama, reaching the old home in the fall of 1852, and shortly afterward he engaged in the mercantile business at Highland, this county. In 1854 he was married to Miss Mary A. Derr, a native of Columbiana County, Ohio, and they are the parents of two children -- Maurice C., a young man of good business qualifications, residing on the Rio Grande River in Texas, and Etta L., at home with her parents. In 1868 Mr. Edwards removed with his family to Terre Haute,


Biographical Sketches - 399
Indiana, remaining there three years, since which time he has made his home in Clinton, this county. He has been an active business man nearly all his life since reaching manhood, and has done much toward building up the town of Clinton. He erected and for a time owned the finest residence in the place. During the past few years he has been engaged in the boot and shoe business, and in 1885 he associated with him in business, Matthew W. Scott, thus forming the present firm of Edwards & Scott. He has been a life-long Democrat, and one of the leading members of that party in the county, and with the change of administration he was appointed to the office of Postmaster, which he has filled since 1885, Mr. Scott acting as his deputy. Mr. Edwards is a member of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to the lodge at Clinton. Both he and his wife are members of the Presbyterian church, and among the respected people of Clinton.



WILLIAM HENRY SKIDMORE, a worthy representative of one of the prominent pioneer families of Vermillion County, was born in Helt Township, September 4, 1853, a son of Hon. William and Amelia Skidmore. He was reared on the home farm in his native county, and in his youth received good educational advantages in the seminary at Sullivan, Indiana. He subsequently taught a school for three years during the winter terms, being a popular and successful instructor. He is now devoting his attention to general farming and stock-raising, and is the owner of a fine farm containing 115 acres of valuable land on section 14, Helt Township, where he resides. Mr. Skidmore was united in marriage October 19, 1880, to Miss Annie Mays, a daughter of James Mays, a resident of Tuscola, Illinois. Mrs. Skidmore is a lady of culture and refinement. She is a graduate of the State University of Bloomington, Indiana, where she received the honors of her class. She was a teacher in this county, and won the confidence and respect of all her pupils. She is a consistent member of the Christian church at Dana.



JOHN HIGHFILL, farmer and stockraiser, section 16, Vermillion Township, was born in Vermillion County, September 4, 1828, a son of Jeremiah and Mary (Taylor) Highfill, natives of Maryland, of English and Irish  descent. They left their native State for Kentucky, and thence in 1826 to Vermillion County, Indiana. The mother died in 1852, aged about sixty years, and the father in 1857, aged eighty-five years. They reared a family of seven children but two of whom are living -- Mrs. Melissa Slater, widow of James Slater, and our subject. John Highfill, was reared amid the scenes and incidents of pioneer life. He received but limited educational advantages, attending school in the rude log cabin school-houses of his day, where the window lights were of greased paper, and the seats were of slabs, and with puncheon floor and clapboard roofs. He was brought up on the home farm, where he plowed with wooden mold board plows, and the harvests in those days were cut with reap hooks. The first reaping machine seen by our subject in operation was one bought by his father-in-law- in 1856. The machine was attached to the front wheels of a wagon, and the bundles raked off by hand. He remembers when the women spun and wove the cloth for most all the clothing worn in those days. He has always followed farming