I recently discovered the name of a very early Crawfordsville pioneer, James T. Mack, while perusing “History of Montgomery County, Indiana” by Hiram W. Beckwith. This publication is a wonderful resource for early Montgomery County history, whether you have a relative in there or not. Printed in 1881, there are scores of biographies of early settlers listed by township. For today’s entry, I’ve searched in Union Township and found this industrious merchant from our town’s early days.
Mr. James T. Mack and his wife, Catharine Wilhite Mack, had families that settled in Oldham County, Kentucky and then moved to Montgomery County. The Wilhites bought land here as early as 1824 in Union Township. Imagine that Crawfordsville at the time consisted of two cabins! James helped the other early settlers in clearing the land for the town to grow. Later he became a tavern owner when he bought the “hotel,” or double log house situated next to the original log courthouse. He moved on from there to a home on Vernon Street, which is now Pike Street. He decided to farm, and moved south of town. James would haul his grain by himself the fifty-six miles to Terre Haute. He was also known for his skill in cabinet making. James T. Mack died in 1841, leaving his wife, and a daughter, Mary Jane, both of whom supported themselves through needlework. There were two sons, Samuel, a newborn, and James T. Mack, age 11. James was not afforded an education, but instead, worked hard and became a very successful restaurant owner in Crawfordsville, at no. 44 East Main Street, near the courthouse. He married Elizabeth E. Wasson in 1849 and had four children: Susan, Sarah, Jennie, and James T. Jr.
|Photo from CDPL Image Collection|