The highly cultivated farms, the good houses, the many pikes and other improvements in this township speak favorably of the thrift and enterprise of its citizens and the character of its agriculture.
Of the early settlers in this section of the county may be mentioned the names of John NELSON, John BEATTY, David WILLIAMSON, Ephraim BAKER, Thomas HUNT, John MORROW, Duran WHITTLESEY, Thomas KYLE, David GRIFFIS, Cornelius MURPHY, the ELLIOTTs, HUGHESes, VOORHEESes, LOWERYs, KAINs, HOWARDs, and others.
The principal towns are Princeton, Bethany, Jericho, and Huntsville; none having attained much size, nor being in importance what they were years ago.
When all was a wilderness, and before any of the sturdy oaks had been felled, John NELSON moved into the township, and cleared the first farm. This was where Jasper ROSE lives now, and prior to 1796. John BEATTY came in 1797, and found him snugly fixed in his pole cabin. He had come with his father David BEATTY to Port Union, in 1795. The father died soon after this event, a very old man, and was buried at Tylersville, the second burial in the township. A child of MCMAHON's was buried here prior to that time, and was the first event of that kind. John BEATTY had two sons, John R. and James, and one daughter, afterwards Mrs. STEWART. John R. BEATTY married Miss Nancy STEWART, and raised a family of seven children, all of whom are dead now but Mrs. 'Squire MCLEAN.
Mr. John BEATTY settled just above where Bethany is now, and his house was probably the second in the township. He subsequently started the "Beatty Tavern, " which was also the first house of that kind in the township. This tavern was carrried on for a long period of time; first before his death by Mr. BEATTY himself, then by his widow, and subsequently by his son, John R. BEATTY. David WILLIAMSON next came to this part of the township and settled on a farm adjoining that of John BEATTY, building his house where 'Squire MCLEAN's house stands. This was in 1798, and was the first house built in what was afterwards Bethany. His brother, Peter WILLIAMSON, had come just previous to this time, and settled in the north-east part of the township. Peter and David VOORHEES came this year also, but settled in Huntsville. William LOWERY came prior to 1800. His brother, Samuel LOWERY, dug the grave for John BEATTY in 1816.
The first marriage in the township occurred Dec 15, 1798. The parties contracting were Miss Mary HOWARD, of NJ, and Samuel KAIN. Mr. KAIN bought land just above Bethany, wher Drake now lives.
John MORROW was settled on land now owned by David SWEARINGEN, before 1803. His brother, Jeremiah MORROW, was governor of OH. John MORROW was the first justice of the peace in Liberty Twp and served in that capacity for 18 years. He was followed by "Squire MCLEAN, who held the office 24 years, and following him was Silas WILLIAMSON, who is, and has been, 'squire for 15 yrs. Each of these 3 men have been peace-makers in the strict sense of that term.
Silas WILLIAMSON's grandfather, David WILLIAMSON, married Mary VANDYKE in 1787, emigrated from PA to KY in Jun 1797, and from KY to OH, settling on Section 14, of this Twp, in 1798. He had 4 sons: George, b 1788; John, father of Silas, b 1790; David V., b 1795, and Peter, b 1801. 'Squire WILLIAMSON has also been twp clerk, elected in 1865, and held the office many years. He was married to Christiana WHITE in 1843.
John MCLEAN was b in 1810. In 1843 he married Miss Sarah CLAYTON. She died in 1847. In 1850 he married Miss Mary Ann BEATTY, daughter of John R. BEATTY.
Bethany was laid off into lots, four by eight rods, in 1822, by Samuel LOWERY. Five of these lots were surveyed by Nesbit, and were on the east side of the street. A man by the name of CRAWFORD built a house just opposite where 'Squire MCLEAN lives now, and kept a grocery; it was a small affair at first, there not being ten dollars' worth of goods in his house. The first blacksmith's shop was in the woods at that time, and just opposite where Mr. LEGG now lives. It was kept by Mr. BUSBY. He was followed by Mr. GARRETT, and he in turn by Peter C. DILLEY. This was before 1822.
John MCLEAN, of Bethany, is descended from the MCLEANs of Scotland. After the rebellion of 1715, a portion of that clan emigrated to Ireland, and after a considerable sojourn, to America. They settled in York, now Adams County, in PA. The MCLEAN who was the ancestor of John MCLEAN, of Bethany, had seven sons, all surveyors. Their names were Archibald, Moses, William, Samuel, John, James, and Alexander. Each and all of them took an active part in our Revolutionary struggle. Archibald and Moses were both members of the PA Legislature, and Moses was also a captain in the Eleventh Regiment of the PA line. Samuel MCLEAN, the grandfather of John MCLEAN, of Bethany, moved to Fayette County, PA, and left two sons, William and John. The latter remained in Fayette County, while the former removed to Butler County, in 1808. He was a farmer, and had six sons and three daughters. His sons were Samuel, b Dec 24, 1799; Elisha P., b Mar 3, 1802; Stephen, Jan 7, 1804; William, Dec 21, 1805; elizabeth, Sep 25, 1807, the widow of William GOUDY; John, b Feb 13, 1810; James, b Sep 25, 1811; Sophia, b Dec 8, 1813; and Sarah Ann, Apr 13, 1816. Samuel, Elisha P., Stephen, William, James, and Sophia are dead.
Mr. MCLEAN came to Butler County in 1808, and settled on Seven-Mile, Wayne Twp, where he purchased a hundred acres of land. He came down the Ohio River in a flat-boat. He traded his farm in PA for castings and sold them in Cincinnati, and with their proceeds purchased here. He died in Union Twp, Sep 12, 1824, and his wife died Sep 27, 1834, in Springfield Twp, Hamilton County. His son, John MCLEAN, was born Feb 13, 1810, in Wayne Twp, and married first, Jan 3, 1843, Sarah R. CLAYTON, b in Liberty May 5, 1813, and died Sep 19, 1847. They had son child, Anna Isabella, b Nov 3, 1844. She died Jun 3, 1846. He married second, Nov 20, 1850, Mary Ann BEATTY, daughter of John R. BEATTY and Nancy(STEWART) BEATTY. SHe was born in Liberty, Dec 29, 1814. By her he had three children, one being now alive, Lewis. He was born Oct 18, 1852, and is married. John A., b Jan 7, 1855, died an infant; and William C., b Mar 6, 1860, died Aug 5, 1881.
Mr. MCLEAN is one of the most prominent citizens of Liberty Twp. He has held several twp positions, and, in fact, has always held some twp office. He was appointed assistant revenue assessor in 1865, an office he has held two terms; has been justice of the peace for eight terms, omitting one term, or a total of 24 years, from 1836 till 1864. He was also postmaster at Huntsville, and is at present notary public, serving his sixth term. He has acted from 1864 till the present time without interruption. He is a Mason and Odd Fellow both, but of late years has not attended. He held the office of recording secretary in the Odd Fellows. His uncle, Colonel Alexander MCLEAN, was out in the Revolutionary War, being a colonel of frontier rangers. He also served in MCINTOSH's campaing of 1780. He was also one of the surveyors engaged with MASON and DIXON in running the division line between PA, VA, and MD, in 1766 and 1767, and in 1782 and 1783 he, in connection with Joseph NEVILLE, carried out the southern boundary from where MASON and DIXON stopped at the Indian warpath.
Mr. Samuel KAIN carried on wagon-making for many years, beginning as early as 1823 or 1824. We read of the KAIN wagons receiving the first premiums in the Butler County Agricultural Society. On Oct 13, 1836, Mr. KAIN received three dollars premium on the best wagon manufactured. The shop was afterwards turned into a buggy and carriage factory for the manufacturing of the Kain harrows.
Doctors STEPHENS, Samuel WITHROW (a steam doctor), CASLEY, and ARMSTRONG were the first physicians.
The first brick house in Bethany was built by Peter WILLIAMSON, in 1839. It stood near where the Presbyterian Church now is. The next brick structure was the first brick house erected for David LEE, in 1841, in Jericho. The brick was burned and the building erected by 'Squire McLEAN. 'Squire McLEAN carried on brickmaking for a period of five years, and during that time burned a million of brick. He became the proprietor of the first saw-mill in Jericho, in 1850, and conducted it for 8 years. He sold the mill to Benjamin BOYD, who finally transferred it to other parties, and it was by them taken down and removed to Lebanon.
The BEATTY Tavern was the principal stopping-place for travelers, but there were other houses, also, subsequently. Mr. WILLIAMSON had a good tavern for many years, as also did Robert CARTER. The amount of travel was enormous. Old residents say that it was not uncommon to see four and six horse teams, a dozen at a time, stopping over night in this place. Houses of entertainment were along the highways every few miles, and necessarily so, to accommodate the traveling public. As soon as the railroads sprang up the hotels went down.
The mail was carried, prior to 1834, by Dr. STEPHENS, on horseback, from Brookville to Lebanon. Abner ROSS had the contract also, and sometimes went with his oxen, making the round-trip in one week. He went by the way of Lasourdsville and Hamilton, to Brookville, IN, and would return by the way of Hamilton, Princeton, and Huntsville to Lebanon. Dr. STEPHENS had the office up to 1834, 'Squire McLEAN to 1841, at which time it was moved to Bethany. Peter WILLIAMSON then took it and kept it a long time.
The Methodist people of this place formerly worshiped at private houses, and frequently met at the BEATTY Tavern, where they were always welcomed. The Rev. Samuel PARKER was presiding elder when the popular and youthful Rev. John STRANGE served as their first minister, in 1809. The first Methodist Episcopal Church building was a frame, erected in 1849, and is standing yet, doing duty as a town hall. The present brick was erected in 1876. The Bethany people attended the Huntsville Methodist Episcopal Church from 1817 up to 1849, at which time this Church was removed to Bethany. The Cumberland Presbyterians built here in 1875. The society has forty members.
Prominent among the early events of this place was the building of the Spring meeting-house, the first Methodist Church in the county. The ELLIOTTs especially were greatly interested in this work. The Rev. Arthur ELLIOTT, the pioneer Methodist preacher, took the matter in hand, and his brother, Joshua ELLIOTT, gave the ground for both the building and the grave-yard.
The country was then under heavy timber, and when a daughter of Charles LEGG died in 1816, the trees and brush had to be cut away to make room for the digging of a grave. She was the first person buried in that yard. The next year the hewed log-house owned by Joshua ELLIOTT, a half mile distant, was moved bodily through the woods to the allotted place, and was known as the Spring meeting-house. The building stood some twelve years, when a brick Church was built. This last Church building was used as such until 1849, when the society moved to Bethany, since which time there has been no Church in the place.
Mr. Charles LEGG was the first class-leader in this Church; he came from Washington County, PA, in 1805, and settled first between Huntsville and Bethany. The Rev. John WATERMAN was the first preacher. Samuel WEST, Mr. GODDARD, and Mr. MATTHEWS were also early missionaries in this field.
The New Lights were numerous in this place at this time, and had a building of their own where the old grave-yard is now. It was made of brick, and erected about 1831 or 1832. Ira HUNT at that time burned brick, and had the first brick-yard in thw twp. He and his sister, Phoebe, were leading spirits of the Church. The Rev. Mr. SIMONTON was one of their principal pioneer preachers, and the Church society was very large. It was not then thought far for the beaux and their girls to walk two or three miles to attend one of those night meetings, and usually a large congregation would assemble. Nor was it an unusual thing to have a noisy time of it. The sight of a hundred new converts, clapping hands, shouting, singing, praying, yelling, confusing noise itself with deafening cries, was not uncommon, and was often witnessed there.
Ira HUNT moved West, finally, and the church gradually went down. He did much for the town with his brick-yard and mill. Nicholas CURTIS had a distillery in the place, and Joseph CURTIS the pioneer store. This house was just opposite where Alexander DYKES now keeps one. Zebedee AKERS has been a blacksmith in this town for 40 years or more. The VOORHEESes were settlers here prior to 1800, and this is where Daniel VOORHEES, of IN, was born.
Daniel W. VOORHEES, of Terre Haute, IN, and Senator from that State, was born in Liberty Twp, not far from the old Spring meeting-house, Sep 26, 1827, and was only two months old when his parents removed to Fountain County, IN, where they now reside. His father, Stephen VOORHEES, was born in Mercer County, KY, 1798, and emigrated when quite young to Butler County, and in Dec, 1827, moved to the farm in Fountain County, IN, which he now occupies. His grandfather, Peter VOORHEES, was born in New Jersey, and soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, emigrated to Kentucky. Peter VOORHEES's wife, whose maiden name was VAN ARSDALE, was born at Brant's Station, then a fort. Her father, Luke VAN ARSDALE, fought at the battle of Blue Licks, and distinguished himself there and elsewhere against the Indians under Daniel BOONE. His other grandfather, Stephen VOORHEES, was a soldier in the Revolutionary army, and fought at Princeton, Monmouth, and other celebrated historic fields. His paternal ancestors came from Holland, the original name being VAN VOORHEES. Mr. VOORHEES's mother, Rachel ELLIOTT, born in MD, of Irish ancestry, was married, in 1821, and still survives. Daniel W. is the third, and was brought up on a farm about ten miles from Covington, IN, remaining there until 1845. In 1845 he entered Asbury University, whence he graduated in 1849.
Soon after graduating he entered the law office of Lane & Willson, at Crawfordsville, and the following Spring settled to practice at Covington, the county seat of Fountain County. Here E. A. HANNEGAN, formerly United States Senator, having heard him deliver a "Fourth of July" oration, made proposals for a law partnership, taking effect in Apr, 1852. In June, 1853, Mr. VOORHEES was appointed by Governor WRIGHT prosecuting attorney of the Circuit Court, in which position he soon established a fine reputation as a criminal lawyer, and broke up a nest of desperadoes whose headquearters were at Lafayette. In 1856 he was nominated by acclamation Democratic candidate for Congress, but was defeated by 230 majority in a district previously Republican by 2,600. In Nov, 1857, he removed to Terre Haute, the county seat of Vigo County, and the ensuing April, 1858, was appointed United states District Attorney for the State of Indiana, by President BUCHANAN, in which position he increased his reputation as an orator and lawyer. He was elected to Congress in 1860 and 1862, and in 1864 was again a successful candidate, but in this last election his majority was contested by his opponent, Henry D. WASHBURNE, who obtained the seat. In 1866 Mr. VOORHEES refused the nomination, but in 1868 he was elected, and again in 1870. In 1872 he was defeated by Morton C. HUNTER.
As a precursor of the late war the insurrection at Harper's Ferry, VA, in which John BROWN and others were concerned, and for which they were convicted and hung in 1859, will always stand prominent in the history of the country. At that time the gifted A. P. WILLARD was governor of Indian, and the champion of the Indiana Democracy, and it was with sorrow and dismay that his friends learned that Colonel J. E. COOK, arrested with "Ossawatomie BROWN," was a brother of Governor WILLARD's wife. Governor WILLARD was not the man to turn his back upon a brother or a friend. His first thought was of "Dan VOORHEES," who was then at Vincennes arguing a case before Judge Micael F. BURKE. Governor WILLARD sent a message to Vincennes, and Judge BURKE continued the case while Mr. VOORHEES immediately started to consult with Governor WILLARD. Several gentlemen advised him not to undertake the defense, but he emphatically declared his resolution to defend his friend's brother regardless of consequences. He went and took part in that celebrated trial. The result is known. John BROWN was convicted of murder and treason, but Mr. VOORHEES succeeded in having a Virginia jury convict COOK of murder only, thus bringing him within the pardoning power of the governor. Governor WISE, however, refused to pardon, and COOK was executed with the others. This was, however, the beginning of Mr. VOORHEES's national reputation. His speech was listened to by the vast audience with rapt attention, and met with unequealed approbation. He was the recipient of enthusiastic congratulations, and his speech was published all over the country and in Europe. From this time forward he has occupied a conspicuous place in the eyes of the public. At the bar, on the stump, and in the halls of Congress, he has been a man of mark. Mr. VOORHEES's political career and principles, his powers as a parliamentary orator and a statesman, are now a portion of the history of the nation.
From the sobriquet of "the tall Sycamore of the Wabash," so often and familiarly applied to Mr. VOORHEES, it will be inferred that he is of tall stature. He stands 6 ft and 1inch in height, and weighs over 200 pounds.
In 1850 he married Miss Anna HARDESTY, of Greencastle, IN, and they have 4 children.
Mr. VOORHEES was appointed Nov 6, 1877, to succeed Governor MORTON in the United States Senate. The issue in the election of 1878 in Indiana was whether he should be elected by the Legislature to succeed his appointment. On this issue the Legislature pledged to his support was elected by a majority of over 30,000 over all opposition. During his term of service in the Senate he has been assiduous in his attentions to the public needs. He is always present, and allows no measure of political opponents to pass without the severest scrutiny. With him vigilance is the price of liberty. He has recently shown his power of breaking old shackles by speaking for protection to American industry.