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

Ohio, and in Louisville, Kentucky. He used to remark, humorously, that he was in danger of spelling Congress with a K; but even a classic scholar would wonder why his language was so correct as it was, and modeled so exactly after the Latin style. It could be explained only by the fact that in his young manhood he was "major domo" in the household of Governor Worthington, of Ohio, a highly educated Virginian of the strictest rules of courtesy and politeness. That positiion was to him a good school. He was present when the Legislature established a new county, cut off from that portion of Parke County lying west of the Wabash River. When asked to give a name to the county, he said the principal stream was the Vermillion River, and suggested the name Vermillion for the county, which was adopted. Mr. Collett took especial pains with his dress and appearance. Everything about his premises must also be kept neat and in its place. His horses were symmetrical, attractive and good travelers. His hogs and sheep were of the finest breeds, and kept in good condition; and his cattle were also the very best. The following instance illustrates his generous disposition. Learning that the Methodist church in the village was paying its preacher only $17 or $18 a year, with which he had to support himself, wife, baby and horse, he was amazed and furiously angry. He sent the young man a $5 bill, and requested him at his earliest convenience to take dinner with him. Though somewhat reluctant, the young minister was prevailed upon to accept. Arriving at the house of his benefactor, he was met with the kindest welcome, and a feast was served to himself and family. At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Collett loaded the young man with luxuries, and engaged to send him immediately a barrel of the best flour, a barrel of corn meal, a quarter of beef and potatoes and apples enough to last him through the winter. The young man was surprised and over-whelmed. At another time the Presbyterian minister at Perrysville was starving out under similar circumstances. He wrote a pleading letter to Mr. Collett, who immediately headed a subscription which made the poor minister comfortable. Such instances of generosity were common in the life of Mr. Collett. He became a Freemason in November, 1815, at Franklinton, Ohio. In religious sentiment he was liberal, if not free and easy. He wanted it distincly understood that he was no Calvinistic Presbyterian, but preachers of all denominations were equally welcome guests at his table and fireside. Sometimes, after hearing a good sermon, he would say to the preacher, "I was delighted with your discourse; almost thou persuaded me to be a Christian." He had unbounded faith in the immortality of the soul, professed on his death-bed to have always been a believer in the Christian religion, and had had frequent visiions and communications which he declared could come only from those purporting to deliver them. He had vestiges of what has been called "second sight." One time, during a severe spell of sickness, it seemed to him, at a moment when he was partially awake, that he was in the other world, holding a conversation with a spirit. The result of that conversation was that it was not yet time for him to leave the material world by ten years. On fully awakening in the morning, he was really distressed to find his soul still in the body. He did live just ten years longer, dying at the age of eighty-five years. On one occasion, when his friends, John R. Porter and Edward A. Hannegan, were at his house. they all became particularly serious, feeling that a spirit from the other world was influencing them; and they


Biographical Sketches - 449

then and there solemnly pledged to each other that after death the first one to enter the next world would return if he could, and announce to the others the fact that there was a spirit world, etc. Judge Porter died first, and the other two never afterward received any communication from him.



WILLIAM M. HAMILTON, senior member of the firm of Hamilton & Anderson, is one of the leading business men of Clinton, and one of the representative citizens of the town. He was born in Clinton, September 17, 1843, a son of James and Mary (Hines) Hamilton, and with the exception of the time spent in the service of his country, he has always lived in his native place. The history of the Hamilton family in Vermillion County dates with the settlement of his grandfather, William Hamilton, who crossed the Wabash River March 17, 1818, and shortly afterward settled on section 4, Clinton Township. He and his wife, formerly Margaret Pierce, were born in the State of Pennylsvnia, but married in Ohio. James, the father of our subject, was born in Ohio, and was their eldest son. Their second son, John, is living on section 8, Clinton Township. He was also born in Ohio. Nine children were born to them after coming to Vermillion County, of whom only their daughters, Mrs. Mary Sprague, of Chicago, and Mrs. Emily Hubbard, are now living. William Hamilton was a kind neighbor, and always did all in his power to relieve the needy. His home in the pioneer days was the abode of hospitality, and although he was not rich in this world's goods, he enjoyed what he had, and died at the age of sixty-five years. His widow survived him several years. James Hamilton lived at the home of his parents until reaching manhood. He married Mary Hines, and of their three children William M. is the only one living. The father of our subject died in 1848, when he was five years of age. His mother was a second time married to Mr. N. Chappell, and after his death she was again married to John Straine. She died in Helt Township, this county, at an advanced age. William M. Hamilton, whose name heads this sketch was early in life, thrown upon his own resources, and has made his own way through life, his inheritance from his father's estate not exceeding $250, but the hard lessons learned in his youth have been of lasting benefit to him in battling with the stern realities of life. Before reaching the age of eighteen years he enlisted in defense of the Union in Company C, Eighteenth Indiana Infantry, and his first engagement was at the memorable battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. He was in the operations of General Grant in the Vicksburg campaign, participating in the battles of Magnolia Hills, Champion Hills, Jackson and Raymond, and the siege of the city of Vicksburg. Later he served with his regiment in the Gulf Department, and in August, 1864, was honorably discharged. After his return from the war he attended the Commercial College at Indianapolis,, and later engaged in clerking at Clinton. In December, 1868, he married Miss Fannie Keegan, a native of Vanderberg County, Indiana, and a daughter of Patrick Keegan, and they are the parents of one child, named Estella. In 1873 Mr. Hamilton began dealing in grain and agricultural implements at Clinton, with Alonzo Shepherd and William Nelson, under the firm name of Nelson, Shepherd & Co. Changes ensued in the business, and in 1876 Mr. Hamilton became associated with Decatur Downing, with whom he has extensively engaged in the same business, under