Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Local Letter Reveals Historic Connections

Our local history archives is growing again, this time with the accession of an August 1834 letter written to a local resident, Mary Catharine (Anderson)  Naylor. Mrs. Naylor was born in New York in 1807, and married Isaac Naylor in 1826. The couple moved to Montgomery County in 1833, and here her husband became a judge presiding in the local court. Her sister Jane, living at the time in Indianapolis, penned the letter, beginning with devastating news: Jane’s six-month-old baby girl had passed away, and due to the uncertainty of the mails, she was writing to see if Mary Catharine was aware of the sad event.

Although greatly of interest as a family letter, learning some background of this family lends depth to the story of American history and the history of Indiana. Robert Anderson, the father of Mary Catharine and Jane, was an Irish immigrant who served in the Revolutionary War with General Washington at Valley Forge. Jane’s husband was Samuel Merrill, a  three-term member of the Indiana General Assembly, State Treasurer of Indiana, first president of the State Bank of Indiana (an achievement alluded to in the letter itself), and a staunch abolitionist. In 1850, Mr. Merrill purchased a bookstore in Indianapolis which eventually became the Bobbs-Merrill publishing firm.
Each document we receive helps to add detail to the picture of the history of our county, providing information for genealogy and local history researchers alike.  If you have original photographs or documents relating to Montgomery County history, please call the Reference and Local History Department at 765-362-2242 ext. 117.

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