Monday, June 26, 2017

The Huntington Family--Builders of Beauty

Try to take a fast drive through Ladoga, and I guarantee that you will slow down to gaze at some of the beautiful late 19th century homes that grace its streets. Maybe you’ll wonder about who must have built all that beauty.  A local man, Hiram Huntington, and several partners, including his son, George, were responsible for bringing about the peaks, the porches, the gingerbread, and the fish scale siding on many of these homes. Hiram Huntington was the best builder in the county beginning in 1866 and continuing on for fifty years!  He started out as a trainman in 1859 in New Albany, Indiana, on the Monon Railroad, then during the Civil War he worked as a pattern maker in Nashville, Tennessee, making armament for the Union forces. After the war, he moved his family to Ladoga, and began making his mark on Montgomery County.
from CDPL image database 
   Probably the most visible and well-known building he and his son, George, completed was the Ladoga East Graded School (1897). What a grand looking school with its ornate brickwork, half-round windows, and lofty turrets mounted on each corner!  This school was used for seventy-five years!
J. C. Knox home, Ladoga, 1895
    One home that he built, the Ashby home, south of Ladoga, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The J. C. Knox home, in Ladoga,  is a quintessential example of Victorian architecture. Hiram, despite his poor eyesight, was responsible for making much of the elaborate woodwork found inside and outside many of the houses he built.
    A funny note about the family--Hiram and Sarah Gregg married on February 14, 1858. Their two sons were also born on Valentine’s Day--George in 1867, and Harry in 1869!
George (2nd row, with moustache) in his Ladoga High School picture (ca. 1885)
      So, the next time you take a slow drive through Ladoga, think about this influential and talented family, the Huntingtons.  
(Information from "Family Histories, Montgomery County, 1823-1988." Compiled by the Genealogy Sect. of the Montgomery County Historical Society, 1989)


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Toliver Larsh--A Ferry Boatman's Son and County Pioneer

       An 1832 unstamped letter from Toliver Larsh to his brother in Preble County, Ohio, has been acquired by CDPL and is available to view on our “images” database.
     Our curiosity was raised about this early county resident, so we started on a search.  We found his obituary in the Crawfordsville Weekly Journal of November 17, 1870, which can be viewed on microfilm on the second floor of CDPL.  In it, we found that Mr.Larsh and his family lived quite interesting lives!
     Toliver’s family story starts with his grandmother, Mrs. Kincade, and her sister, Mrs. Byrd. Both of them, with their families, were captured by Indians in the middle 1700's near the Scioto River, which is now in Ohio. All but the two sisters lost their lives in captivity, and Paul Larsh, an Indian trader, was able to help them escape to Illinois, and he and Mrs. Kincade married.  From their marriage came Charles Larsh, Toliver’s father. 
    Early in Toliver’s life, his father moved first to Adams County, Kentucky, and then Mason County, Kentucky, where he ran ferry services across the Ohio River.  Toliver became his right-hand man and was known for his skills with an oar and his work ethic. 
    The War of 1812 erupted, and all the men in the family, except for Toliver, served in the Army.
     In 1823, Toliver emigrated to Montgomery County to what is now Ripley Township.  There were no roads, mills, towns, or really, any form of civilization in that area.  Most things needed to come by canoe from Terre Haute up the Sugar River, as it was called then.  He spent the winter of 1823-24 with the Stonebraker family in a three-sided enclosure, keeping a fire going to fend off the wild animals that were prowling at night.
 After building a cabin, he spent many a day toiling with land clearing so he could farm.
     In 1840, he married Jane Gilkey. Together they had four sons and three daughters.  from the archives of Josephine Stubbins Miller, great-granddaughter of Toliver Larsh
l. to r.  Mary Jane, Robert, Jane, Henry Clay, Toliver, John, Martha, Sarah Ann, and Paul
photo circa 1857
     Mr. Larsh was well-known for his kindness to all, and showed great hospitality to those who visited him and those who worked for him. He never became wealthy, because he paid his workers a fair wage. He mentored many a young man, most of whom held him in high regard throughout their lives.