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

his tile factory in 1885, which he has since operated with success, manufacturing about 100,000 tiles annually. In politics he was formerly a Republican, but now votes with the National Labor Reform party.



JOHN H. STAATS, farmer and stock-raiser, section 7, Helt Township, was born in Mason County, West Virginia, April 7, 1806, a son of Isaac Staats. In December, 1829, he came to Indiana and settled in Helt Township, Vermillion County, where he has since lived. He was obliged to undergo many privations and hardships, but he was determined to make for himself a home in the new country, and kept bravely at work on small wages, but being economical and persistent he accumulated enough to pay for his land, and finally by industry and energy got it cleared and under cultivation. In 1833 he went to Chicago and was employed in driving oxen and hauling rails at $1 per day and boarding himself. At that time the West was principally inhabited by Indians, and Mr. Staats tells many interesting incidents of adventures he had with them. His life has been one of hard work, but he can look back and recall many pleasant events that have served to lighten his labor, and he is now reaping the reward of his industry, and his many friends testify to the honest integrity and genuine hospitality that have been his chief characteristics. Mr. Staats was married September 21, 1834, to Malinda Miles, a native of Kentucky, daughter of Thomas Miles, an early settler of Helt Township. To Mr. and Mrs. Staats were born five children, only one of whom, Mary, is living. Thomas, Isaac and Elijah, triplets, died in childhood, and Benjamin M. lived until manhood and married Margaret, daughter of Samuel Aikman, and at his death left one son, Fred A., who is now a resident of Dana. Mary married Jacob C. Foncanon, and to them have been born five children -- T. Frank, a physician of Emporia, Kansas; J. Albert, of Helt Township; Virginia, wife of Albert Southard, of Helt's Prairie; Charles, deceased, and Edwin. Mr. Foncanon was born in Perry County, Ohio, October 22, 1829, and came to Vermillion County in 1852. He was a soldier in the war of the Rebellion, enlisting in Company B, Eighty-fifth Indiana Infantry, and served eight months, when he was discharged on account of disability. He is now a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. Mrs. Staats died April 21, 1880. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and a consistent, earnest Christian. Mr. Staats and his daughter are also members of the Methodist church.



MAJOR JAMES BLAIR was one of the oldest citizens of the county, and in fact of this section of the country. He was somewhat stooped and round-shouldered in his old age, but still of commanding figure, soldierly step, and frank, manly countenance. He was a soldier of the war of 1812, and assisted in building from the green forests the ships which, under the gallant Perry, won the battle of victory on Lake Erie. In an early day he came to the Wabash and settled among the Indians, north of the line of Harrison's purchase, on the farm now owned by Hon. John Collett, on section 16, range 9. His old friend Coleman settled in a neighboring cabin, same station, and farmed on the adjoining prairie. Major Blair by his soldierly qualities and fair and manly course of life won the love and respect


Biographical Sketches - 513

of the Indians, especially Chief See Seep (She Sheep), one of the heroes of the battle of Falling Timber, Wayne's Victory, and also Tippecanoe, but afterward, obedient to the treaty, he (Se Seep) was faithful to the whites. The Major's course of life also won as well the full confidence of the whites. Hence he was a peacemaker, and prevented or averted war and battle many times. He afterward was proprietor of Perrysville. He was several times a member of the Legislature, and probably served once as Senator. During the period of the construction of the Wabash Canal he was State Commissioner, and although handling millions of money, he accounted for every cent, and was as poor when he retired from the position as when he entered upon the duties. Such integrity and honesty is worthy the remembrance of old Vermillion.



PHILO CURTIS, one of the prominent farmers of Clinton Township, Vermillion County, residing on section 29, is a son of Amos and Mary (Wright) Curtis, who were among the old and respected pioneers of the county. His father was born in Canandaigua County, New York, and was first married in his native State to Miss Abigail Cargill, who died in Vermillion County. Their only child, Almira, became the wife of Dr. Gifford, and died at Brazil, Indiana, leaving at her death two children. The mother of our subject was a daughter of the pioneer George Wright, and a sister of John Wright, now a resident of Clinton. Philo Curtis, whose name heads this sketch, was born on the homestead of his parents on section 31, Clinton Township, May 3, 1838, and with the exception of one year spent in Vermillion County, Illinois, he has passed his life in Clinton Township. He was but eight years of age when his father died, but his mother managed to keep her family together until they became old enough to start in life for themselves. She died in 1869, leaving a family of four children -- Handy, the eldest child, now lives in Crawford County, Kansas; Amos lives in Edgar County, Illinois; Mrs. Mary A. Browning lives in Montgomery County, Kansas, and Philo, our subject. One son, George, died at the age of eleven years. The mother was a consistent Christian, and a loving wife and mother, and her memory is yet fondly cherished by her children. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Philo Curtis was early in life inured to hard work, beginning when a boy to assist with the work of the farm, but the lessons then learned have been of lasting benefit to him, fitting him for the duties of later life. He has always followed the vocation of a farmer, and by his own industry and energy he has acquired a fine property. His home farm contains 200 acres of well improved land, with good residence and out buildings, the entire surroundings of the place showing the owner to be a thorough, practical farmer. Mr. Curtis has been twice married, his first marriage taking place April 25, 1867, to Miss Isabelle Swan, a daughter of Joshua Swan. To this union three children were born -- Elmer, who died in infancy; Elsie, who died in October, 1867, aged three years, and Francis M., who died in December, 1871, aged six years. Mrs. Curtis died April 25, 1867, and January 20, 1870, Mr. Curtis married for his second wife Miss Laura A. Scott, a daughter of John and Jane (Clover) Scott, her father now deceased. Her mother is a daughter of John Clover, who was one of the early pioneers of this county. She is now Mrs. Jane Martin. Mrs. Curtis is a native of Livingston County, Illinois, born July 20, 1849. Mr.