Sonnystone Saga: The Fellows

To celebrate 17 years living at Sonnystone Acres, we are publishing  a series of posts chronicling the first three families who lived here, spanning 111 years… This is the ninth installment of the series…

Mary Igleheart Erskine had accomplished her goal of attending college despite all the hardship of an outbreak of typhoid fever, spending two years at Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw) in Greencastle, Indiana.  While there she met and fell in love with a seminary student, Albion Fellows.

Albion Fellows was born in New Hampshire, but his family had moved to Dixon, IL when he was young.  He had attended Mt. Morris College, near his hometown, for a couple of years before beginning his studies in Theology at Indiana Asbury.  He and Mary were married a month after his ordination in 1854 and they began the traveling life of a Methodist minister of the times.  Rev. Fellows joined the Northwest Indiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, serving first in Valparaiso, then in Westville, where their daughter, Ella Delia, was born in 1856.  In 1857, he was a professor of Greek at the Methodist seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  That year, Mary and the Reverend welcomed their second daughter, Lura.  ( Mary returned to McCutchanville for the births.)

In 1859, when Mary was pregnant with their third child, the Rev was transferred to the Southern Indiana Conference, where he pastored a church in Boonville, Warrick County, Indiana, fairly close to Mary’s childhood home. Mary gave birth to a son, Wilbur, in August, 1859.   The 1860 census reveals that the Fellows Family -Albion, 32, Mary, 31, Ella, 4, Lura, 2, and Wilbur, 11 months, are living in Boonville where Albion is a “Minister, ME” with real estate valued $600 and personal property, $300.  Also living with them are Mary’s sister, Martha, who is a schoolteacher.  Sadly, baby Wilbur died later that year.

Rev. Fellows and family moved briefly to Patoka (Gibson County) and then to Mt. Vernon (Posey County) between 1860-1862.  In April, 1861, another son was born: Erwin. Erwin died just a month past his first birthday in 1862.

By 1863, the family had moved to Evansville, then a thriving town of 11,600 souls;  All of Mary’s Igleheart uncles were living there, as well as a couple of her Erskine relatives.  I’d wager she was glad to be closer to home/family, especially after the loss of her babies.

According to the 1863 City Directory, the Fellows were living at 66 SE Second Street (now the parking lot of EVSC offices); Albion is listed as “Presiding Elder, ME”.  1863 also saw the addition to the family of daughter, Anna.

Two years later, Rev and Mary were still at the same address, but he is named as Pastor of Locust Street ME Church. just across the street.  Locust Street ME had been built in 1839 and was growing strong. The congregation had made plans for a new building, had even bought the land for it on Third and Chestnut, but the Civil War had delayed the efforts.  When Fellows became Pastor, he re-invigorated the building plans.

From “Holy History/Evansville Living Magazine, May/June, 2016:

“The local architectural firm Mursinna & Boyd prepared drawings for a 150-by-76-foot, Gothic-style building patterned after St. Paul’s M. E. Church in Newark, New Jersey. In 1864 the Evansville Daily Journal asserted the building would prove “one of the very handsomest church edifices in the whole western country.

Trinity UMC Evansville IN – truly one of the prettiest churches I’ve ever attended…(sketch from 1870s)

“Work began in early 1864, with the first of 400,000 bricks set in place on May 16, 1864. A little over a month later, on June 19, the congregation laid the cornerstone — at this event Rev. Fellows praised the congregation’s faith in undertaking such a project during the Civil War.”

Ah, yes, that pesky Civil War. Evansville’s commerce along the Ohio River was reduced during the war, especially after the closure of the Mississippi to commercial trade with the South.  There was some economic recovery in Eville by providing transport to Union troops across the river, and the growing railroad network kept them afloat.  Other than the men who joined the Indiana Regiments, the city’s greatest contribution to the war effort was providing medical care for the wounded soldiers.  During the Civil War, four hospitals served the Evansville area and took in hundreds of injured soldiers from the bloody battles being fought up and downriver in Kentucky and Tennessee.

The new church building for which Rev. Fellows had laid the cornerstone was completed in 1866, but the Pastor did not live to see it completed.  It is written in the history of the church that he was “overtaxed” by the building of the church, leading to his premature death at age 37.  The family history relates that the Rev. had become soaked and chilled after a horseback ride back to town from a rural church, and subsequently came down with a fatal case of pneumonia.  Most likely both histories are true.

At the time of Reverend Albion Fellows’ death on March 4, 1865, Mary Erskine Fellows was very pregnant.  She gave birth on April 8 and named the baby girl after her deceased husband: Albion.  Tragically, Mary’s oldest daughter, nine-year-old Ella, died four months later on August 25.  Shortly after, Mary and her three daughters retreated to her father’s farm in McCutchanville.

Stay tuned…


Sonnystone Saga: Erskines and Iglehearts

To celebrate 17 years living at Sonnystone Acres, we are publishing  a series of posts chronicling the first three families who lived here, spanning 111 years… This is the eighth installment of the series…

I just received a hard-to-find copy of Kenneth McCutchan’s book “From Then ‘Til Now: History of McCutchanville”, autographed by the author even!  This book was published in 1954 by the Indiana Historical Society and it is chock-full of interesting information such as this:

“The Erskines, the second white family to arrive in McCutchanville, came also from Ireland, but were descended from a very old Scottish family whose records go back for centuries…

It was the bitterly cold Christmas Day of 1819 when William and Mary Erskin and their four children tied up their flatboat at the Evansville landing.  They had come from Largey, in Antrim County, Ireland.  Whether they had intended going on down the river is not known, for during that Christmas night the river froze over so solidly that all traffic was brought to a halt.  Mr. Erskine was able to rent a small cabin from Hugh McGary, the founder of Evansville, and the family remained there until spring.

Perhaps during the long months while the winter wore away they began to like southern Indiana, for when the weather broke and good green days came again, Mr. Erskin went back into the hills and selected a site for a farm, which he later purchased at the Vincennes Land Office for $1.25 per acre.

With the spring, the family moved to their new estate and set to work to build a barn.  There were more hands to do the work than there had been in the McJohnston family.  The Erskin children were already grown; the two oldest boys were 22 and 23 years of age.  This barn, constructed of round hickory logs, is thought to have been the first building erected in the McCutchanville area.  It was located on the brow of the hill north of the present (McCutchanville Methodist) church at the end of what is now Erskine Lane.”

The children of William and Mary Erskine were John, b. 1797; Andrew, b. 1799; William, b. 1802; and Mary Ann, b. 1805.  The elder Erskines died in 1825, just six years after their arrival, both aged around 60.  By that time, though, the community had already come together and the “children” were integral members.

Levi Igleheart, Sr. was 37 when he settled into western Warrick County in 1823.  He and his wife, Anne, had seven children with them: Harriett, 14; Elizabeth, 12; Mary Ann, 10; Catherine (Kitty), 8; Asa, 6; Levi, Jr. 3; and Eleanor, 1. In 1825, their last child, William, was born.

The Iglehearts were not in McCuchanville. so there is next-to-nothing written about the family in Kenneth McCutchan’s book.  Their land was situated in Warrick County along the Vanderburgh/Warrick County line,  just a  short distance east of the British Settlement.

From Indiana Biography Reference Page, Levi Igleheart, Sr. :

“There is reason to believe that proximity to the British Settlement was an inducement to the elder Igleheart to settle with his family, as the leading families of the British Settlement had brought with them into the wilderness, British ideals, correct speech, musical and literary culture, with church opportunities, and all three of Mr. Igleheart’s sons found their wives in the British Settlement and two out of five of his daughters found their husbands there.”

However, Levi Igleheart, Sr. was a big deal in Warrick County. In 1825 he was appointed Magistrate in Warrick County and was elected by the Board of Magistrates to be its president. He continued in that position until after 1830, when the law was changed to form a board of three County Commissioners, to which Igleheart was perennially elected.

In 1826, Levi’s eldest daughter, Harriett, 18, married John Erskine, 29,   They set right in having babies and ended up with eight children: Joseph, b. 1827; Mary, b. 1829; James, b. 1831; Levi, b. 1833; William, b. 1835; Anne, b. 1837; Martha, b. 1839; and Sarah, b. 1846.

Soon, all of Harriet’s and John’s siblings married.  John’s brother, Andrew, had married Ann Ewing in 1825. In 1834, Harriet’s sister, Kitty, married John Johnston. In 1842, brother Asa was wedded to Ann Cowle. Youngest sister Eleanor married Amos Wright in 1843. Levi, Jr. married Susanna Ingle in 1844., and William tagged along in 1848 when he married Mary Ann Ingle (his sister-in-law’s sister).  The population was booming as they started having babies.

All of these grandchildren of Levi Igleheart, Sr. lived a typical American Frontier life, even though their grandfather owned the biggest house in the village.  The older daughters were taught to be responsible for their younger siblings at an early age, as their mother was having babies every two years.  The boys were expected to help in the fields as soon as they were able.  Formal schooling only lasted 10-12 weeks and studying had to be worked around many chores.  Their mothers picked up the slack, teaching at home and encouraged learning, and the Igleheart men were supportive of education for both girls and boys.

John and Harriett Erskine’s oldest children, Joseph and Mary, dreamed of going away to college.  In 1837 Indiana Asbury (now DePauw University) had been founded in Greencastle, Indiana, and the two siblings, with the blessing of their parents, planned to attend together in 1847.  Alas, that was not to be.  In 1846, an epidemic swept through the village, killing 37-year-old Harriett Igleheart Erskine.   Joseph, 19, also succumbed, as did little Sarah, only two-years-old.  The fever also killed Anne Taylor Igleheart, the matriarch of the Igleheart clan.

Mary Erskine, just 17, was devastated by the loss of her adored brother, mother, and grandmother. Now she had to be a mother to her younger brothers and sisters, who ranged in age from 6 to 15, and her dream of attending college seemed like just a dream.  The family, indeed the whole community, helped where they could, but the responsibility was crushing.

In 1849, Mary’s Uncle Asa Igleheart, who had been studying for years, passed the Indiana Bar Exam and received his license to practice law.  He, his wife and young children moved to Evansville, about eight miles south of the farms, where he set up a law practice.

Finally in 1852, Mary Erskine, now 23, and three of her siblings traveled the 150 miles to Greencastle, rented rooms, and began their studies. (note: the college was not co-ed; the women attended in separate buildings, called the Ladies’ Seminary)   She loved it and things went so well that in 1853 they returned, bringing with them another sister and two Igleheart cousins.

In 1853, there was an outbreak of typhoid fever that took the life of one of the cousins.  One of her sisters was very ill and Mary spent months nursing her back to health.   Though she missed a lot of classes,  she made the best of it. She had, after all, fulfilled her dream…and had also met the man who she would marry…Albion Fellows, a seminary student.

Meanwhile…back at the farms…

 Uncle Levi, Jr. moved to Evansville in 1853 where he established a saw mill.

 In 1854, Uncle Asa was appointed Judge of the Pleas Court, a position he held for the rest of his life.

In 1855, Grandpa Levi Igleheart, Sr. died,, distributing his wealth and land among his family.

In 1856, Asa, Levi, Jr., and little brother, William went into business together, establishing a grain mill at 5th and Locust in downtown Evansville (where the old Majestic Theatre was in my childhood).  They called it Igleheart Brothers, Millers.

Stay tuned…



Sonnystone Saga: the British Settlement

To celebrate 17 years living at Sonnystone Acres, we are publishing  a series of posts chronicling the first three families who lived here, spanning 111 years… This is the seventh installment of the series…

Soon after the death of his wife in 1817, Charles McCutchan-Johnstone sold his businesses in County Longford, Ireland, gathered up his seven children, and set out for the USA.  They arrived at Pittsburg, PA, where Charles (hereafter the family name is McJohnston) bought flatboats and traveled down the Ohio River to Evansville, IN.  Eville had little to show for itself in 1819, so McJohnston continued past it and up the Pigeon Creek until he reached Stringtown Hill road where he disembarked.  He had brought with him, besides household goods, a wagon, horses and plenty of pounds sterling…  He headed northward along Stringtown Road Ridge.  In 1819 the “road” was nothing more than a winding path through the forest from which the saplings and underbrush had been cut, but which had giant forest trees standing in its center along its entire course.

Instead of following the road northward and on toward Vincennes and Princeton, as earlier arrivals had done, Mr. McJohnston struck out eastward on an Indian trail about a quarter mile past Sonnystone, now called Petersburg Road.  The family crossed the valley, and climbed the next ridge of hills where they stopped. The land had been government property since the Indian treaties and was open to claim. He registered approximately one thousand acres at the Vincennes Land Office.  Upon those acres lay the future village of McCutchanville.

There was an influx of settlers who followed the McJohnstons.  Do you remember the Inwoods?  William Inwood, father of both of John Reed’s wives, also arrived in 1819 with his family; his son John married one of McJohnston’s daughters.   There were the Erskines, the Wheelers, the Maidlows, the Hornbecks.  McJohnston’s brother, William McCutchan, came later.  The area around McCutchanville was known in those early days as the “British Settlement”. By the end of 1820 there were 53 families who owned 12,800 acres of land and capital of $80,000…about 1.2 million today.  Not a bad start.

It was 1823 before Levi Igleheart, Sr. arrived with his family.  The Igleheart family had come to Maryland from Germany in 1740.  Levi’s father, John, had fought in the Revolutionary War and owned plantations in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  Levi and his wife were Woke!  They decided slavery was wrong and sold their slaves (you could not actually Free slaves in those days; there were Laws against free black people living in the slave states).  However, they found they couldn’t farm the property without the slaves, so they sold their land to relatives and pioneered west.  After a stop in Kentucky, they finally settled on the outskirts of McCutchanville along the eastern edge of Vanderburgh County.

The community was tight-knit.  There was a lot of work to be done clearing and building homes, barns, and mills.  Though of varying denominations, there was a circuit rider that began to visit the village in the early 1820s. The homes most often visited were those of Charles McJohnston, Sr., Levi Igleheart, Sr., Mark Wheeler, John Erskine, Sr. The preacher came on Saturday night, sometimes traveling for a month to get there. Two services were held on the Sabbath, morning and afternoon. The living room was cleared, beds were removed and slabs were brought in and set up for seats. The “congregation” had traveled anywhere from 5 to 10 miles on horseback, in wagons, and on foot. They brought cold lunches with them that were supplemented by cooking done the day before by the homeowner.

The village built their first schoolhouse in 1832.   Girls were given the same consideration for education as the boys. It was 1845 when Samuel McCutchan (McJohnston’s nephew) was appointed the first Postmaster and the community was named after him.  That same year, ground was broken to build a Methodist-episcopal church-building with $300 old Charles McJohnston had willed for that purpose.

From McCutchanville to the Evansville Court House it was about 8 miles.  The only way to get there was down Petersburg Road to Stringtown Rd, past Sonnystone Acres and down the hill across Pigeon Creek to the flatland.  We are situated about about halfway between the two places, so the residents of McCutchanville passed by Sonnystone on a regular basis on their way to town.

100 years after McJohnston blazed that trail, one of the descendants of those early settlers, Albion Mary Smith, moved into Sonnystone and she and her husband, George Davis Smith,  placed the S on the chimney.

But first, let’s meet Mrs. Smith’s ancestors…

Stay Tuned…


Camp Sonnystone 2020: The Movie version…

What a Wonderful two weeks it has been!  Let’s all get Together (wearing masks and social distancing, of course) and Save the World for our grandchildren.  They are soo worth it.

Come on, people!  Smile on your brothers and sisters! 

Everybody Get Together and Love One Another right Now!  Right Now…

‘Cause We’re All in this Together…


Sunday Report

It’s Closing Day of Camp Sonnystone 2020 and I’m preparing a feast of summer foods. It seems like I’ve not taken enough pictures, so when the Jrs arrive we’ll go into a frenzy of snapping pics for this year’s Movie.

Like All of 2020, it’s been a different kind of camp– No field trips, No restaurants, No visiting or visitors, just a lot of pool-time, dancing, painting, playing, and relaxing.  Eliza is a Donut Bank Fiend, so most days began with a drive-through there for coffee and sweets — especially the free cookies that she Loves.  The Jr. kids have been here every other day and we’ve had dinner from every fast-food place in town, plus a few carry-out restaurants.  We’ve had plenty of ice cream to keep us cool in this record-breaking heat and humidity.

The New Yorkers have been in school every morning Mon-Fri and I’ve sat in to read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” with Eliza, as well as “Stamped” with Emma.  They’ve also continued to practice their Irish Dance on the Dance Floor Pawpaw set up for them.

Our Theme this year is Together and our Theme Song is “We’re All in this Together” from Disney’s High School Musical.  Emma studied the choreography and taught it to the her sister and cousins…and me.  Wait ’til you see my moves…

Eric drove back to NYC two weeks ago and returned yesterday evening.  During those two weeks,  Evansville’s Covid-19 cases have quadrupled from 250 to over 1,000 and the mayor is begging people to wear a mask.  Please.

The Jose’ Fam will head home tomorrow, leaving me to my memories… The Quiet is always deafening after they are gone…  This year’s video will be Great, if I do say so myself, and I’ll share as soon as it is complete.


Sunday Report

The Jose’ Fam arrived Friday evening!  Eric already drove back to NYC as he has to be present for some court cases next week (he’s a paralegal).  Melissa, Emma, and Eliza will be here for a couple of weeks.  I am in heaven.

We’re not doing a Traditional Camp Sonnystone, but of course we’ll be making a sign or two.  Michael’s kids will join us often and we’ll dance, sing, paint, and play.  The pool is cool, the corn hole game is corny, and the next weeks will be full of fun.

I’ll keep you posted…


Sonnystone Saga: The Reeds: Coda

To celebrate 17 years living at Sonnystone Acres, we are publishing  a series of posts chronicling the first three families who lived here, spanning 111 years… This is the sixth installment of the series…

Minnie Reed Olmsted took possession of her family home, now known as Sonnystone Acres, in 1908 upon the death of her mother, Mary Inwood Reed. Mary was the last surviving child of pioneers William and Hannah Inwood, a family that had been integral to the British Settlement established in 1819. I have loved stalking the Inwoods…especially Uncle John and his kids…

In 1910, Minnie Reed Olmsted, 52, and her husband, Goodrich, 60, were living here at the Acres with a “boarder”, William Harper, 14. I believe he helped out on the farm, as their occupation was truck farming. Their oldest daughter, Emma, had married in 1906 and moved to New Albany, IN. Daughter Mary Ella, had married in 1908, and she and her husband, Oscar Hanning, owned a dairy farm on nearby Kratzville Road.

Minnie and Goodrich Olmsted…

Ada Reed Van Dusen, 50, and her husband, Louis, 52, were also empty nesters. Their daughter, Mary Irene, had married in 1901. Her husband was a butcher by the name of Louis Yokel. By 1910 Yokel had opened his own grocery and meat shop on the corner of Main and 7th streets, named Yokel and Sons. The family still lived on Stringtown Road, though, in a house across from present-day Old North UMC that we Almost bought just before we found Sonnystone. Coincidentally, I got to know Mary Irene’s daughter, Marjorie Yokel Copeland, and her grand-daughter, Carol Stremming, when I was attending Old North back in the 80s…

Sometime around 1910, Minnie’s son, Charles Elston Olmsted, and her sister Ada’s son, LeRoy Reed Van Dusen, set out for the West where they bought a farm/ranch in Prairie Springs, Idaho. Cousins! How adventurous!

As for the other Reeds in 1910, Thomas, 64, is still a drayman, still on Goodsell Street with a houseful. Living with him are his sons Harry and Inwood, Harry’s wife and three children, and his daughter, Sadie.

Jack Reed, now 68, is living out on Darmstadt Rd, boarding with Fred and Mary Kaiser. His occupation is “own account” which means he works for himself or has an independent income.

George Childs, 63, was the Postmaster of Chandler in 1910, where he and his wife, Anna, the schoolteacher, resided. Their son, Leslie, still lived with them and his occupation is listed as “gold miner”… Seriously. More likely, he was a coal miner.

Louis Van Dusen died in 1917 and Goodrich Olmstead died six months later in 1918. Per the 1920 census, the two widowed sisters, Minnie, 62, and Ada, 60, were living together here at Sonnystone. They list their occupation as truck farmers…always…

I can’t find a record of the death of Jack Reed, but according to my abstract he died around 1921. I’m not surprised that he wasn’t buried in the family plot. George Childs died in 1923 and he was interred with the rest of the family in Salem Cemetery.

In 1923, Minnie sold the farm, at least that’s what it says on my abstract. Minnie died in 1929 and her death certificate says that the coroner “took her remains” for an inquest. That would mean, I think, that she had died unexpectedly, perhaps in her sleep. It says he came to the scene at 7:30 a.m. and that the informant was Ada Van Dusen. Cause of death was “coronary lesion” — heart attack. Here’s the mystery: the location of her death and of her residence on the certiicate are R.R. 5, Stringtown Road. That would be Here, but then when did the new owners move in…? Why was Minnie here in 1929? Or was she? I’ll work on that.

Ada Reed Van Dusen was the last survivor of the Reedmont days, living until 1943. She died at Regina Pacis Nursing Home.

The New Owners were George Davis Smith and his wife, Albion Bacon Smith. The Smiths placed the “S” on the chimney that inspired me to name the place Sonnystone Acres. They are responsible for the east addition and the garage-without-a-driveway, as well as the leftover kennel pens and the skeet-shooter hidden by brush on the edge of the woods. George and Albion were members of Elite Evansville Society, third-generation wealth.

Their fascinating family stories will take us back to the pioneer days of the British Settlement around McCutchanville and Mechanicsville again, but this time we’ll visit the bustling metropolis of Evansville before we return to “Stringtown Rd. 5 miles out”…

Stay Tuned…

another week-end wrap-up

To celebrate 10 years of blogging, we start a series of Re-blogs…

This is a post from June 27, 2010

Wow!  Ten Years!*…Seems like a Decade!! We could roam around at will, and we did. If everyone would just wear a mask, by next year we could have all our fests back…

* note it was “Before the Trees Fell”…before we screened in the front porch.


The News from Sonnystone Acres

this has been a very uneventful week-end.  it’s rather tempting to make up some exotic story to impress and entertain you, but who do you think you are, anyway? if i’m bored, you can be, too.  friday casey was off, so we did the rummage sales and farmers’ market.  he spent the rest of the day getting ready for a Scout biking/camping trip while i gardened and cooked.  the rest of the week-end,  i stayed close to home, gardening, computing, reading, eating…….


casey did have an interesting story when he returned this afternoon.  some caggies brought a large family-size tent (considered wuss-ish by real scouts who sleep in pup tents or some such primitive structure) and were only using it for 2 people, so he just threw down his bedroll in the front part and settled down to sleep.  before he drifted off, he heard something and felt something…

View original post 140 more words

Sonnystone Saga: The Will

To celebrate 17 years living at Sonnystone Acres, we are publishing  a series of posts chronicling the first three families who lived here, spanning 111 years… This is the fifth installment of the series…

I wonder if his family were aware of the stipulations of John Reed’s Last Will and Testament before he died. The Will starts off quite normally:  Being of sound mind but failing body, Thank the Lord for his Goodness, pay all the debts, etc.  He leaves his beloved wife, Mary, all of his personal property and 1/3 of his real estate.  He dictates that she should keep all the income from all of the property for the first year.  Later in the Will, he names her as executor.

Then it gets convoluted, and of course it’s about Jack.

“I give and devise unto my son, John Reed, a sum of money equal to 1/15 in value and amount of this devise shall be ascertained in the following manner to wit:  Within ninety days from my death, two reputable free-holders of Vanderburgh County, state of Indiana, wholly disinterested and not of kin to any of my devisees shall be selected, one of my said son, John, the other by Thomas Reed, George Childs, Minnie Olmsted, and Ada Belle Van-Dusen, to appraise the whole of the real estate of which I may die seized.”

I don’t think he trusts them..  There’s more…He says if any of them fail or refuse to select an appraiser then one should be chosen by his wife Mary along with the Vanderburgh County Court Clerk…and if they fail to agree with that choice, a third should be chosen and the majority rules… Rather expecting an argument, doncha think?  So once they finally agree and get it appraised, John’s 1/15 is to be a lien on the property of the others and paid in a very specific manner

“Within ninety days from the day of my death and each of every ninety days thereafter on demand, the sum of twenty-five dollars, until the amount is fully paid; said sums so paid to be a credit upon my said son John’s legacy. “

He goes on to say that if the full amount isn’t paid within two years, interest of 4% should be paid to Jack.  If Jack dies before the full amount is paid, the rest is to be given to his grandchildren (Jack’s daughters) Alice and Mary Reed.  He also wills 1/15 of his real estate to Alice and Mary, to be held as joint tenants. No other grandchildren are mentioned.

Thomas Reed, George Childs, Minnie Olmsted, and Ada Van Dusen are each given 9/60 (nine sixtieths).  He stipulates that’s only if they give John his money.

Furthermore, he states:

“It is my further will that in case any of my devisees or legatees shall object to the provisions in this my will made for them and shall institute any legal proceedings for the purpose of setting this my will aside or in any manner interfering with the disposition herein made of any of my property, then and that case the devise of legacy herein made to the objector or objectors shall immediately become null and void and the share, or shares of the objector or objectors shall be divided equally share and share alike among those of my devisees or legatees who are satisfied and content with the provisions herein made for them.”

The will was signed and sealed on 12 January 1881.  John Reed died 14 January 1888, age 72.  Mary Inwood Reed,  was 64.

Phew!  I don’t get it.  It’s obvious something was Wrong with Jack.  Given my Life Experience, I’m gonna guess alcohol is involved. He has run out on his wife and daughters, obviously ran up debts to his cousin James, and — Spoiler Alert! — his life gets no better.  Yet his father writes a Will that forces his brothers and sisters to Support him and gives Jack’s daughters a share of property equal to theirs.  John Reed’s actions are those of a real enabler.

In 1889, Thomas, George, Minnie, and Ada did go to court against Mary, the grand-daughter.  Alice Reed had died before her grandfather.  Mary had claimed that the Will gave she and her sister Each 1/15 and that she was her sister’s legal heir. However, the case was found in favor of the plaintiffs and Mary was given only 1/15…which is what it seems to me that John wanted.  The land is partitioned off in that document, giving Jack’s daughter, Mary, about 14 acres, leaving 100 or so to the Big Four.

Sonnystone proper belonged to Mary Inwood Reed as part of her 1/3.  It consisted of the house and about 60 acres.  Thomas Reed and George Childs sold their share of the land to their sisters and George bought a place in Chandler, IN.   The Van Dusens and Olmsteds pretty much stayed in the homes where they’d always lived and continued to farm through the decade of the 1890s.

By 1900, Charles and Minnie Olmsted and their three teenagers were living at Sonnystone with Mary, age 77.  Louis and Ada Belle Van Dusen lived just down the road and Louis’s 84-year-old mother lived with them.  Both families had a servant living with them.  Both men are listed as gardeners…!

George and Anna Childs were still in Chandler.  George is listed as an “agent machines?”.  The machine part is pretty clear, but I can’t read the first word well. Son John, 25, was a schoolteacher like his Mom.  19-year-old son Leslie was a day laborer.

Thomas Reed was still on Goodsell Street, still working as a drayman.  He had a houseful: four children, Harry, 24; Ben (also called Inwood), 21; Thomas, jr., 18; and Sarah Belle, 13;  and one niece, Ella, 30 (daughter of cousin James Inwood, who had died in 1884).  But that’s not all..  Thom’s wayward brother, Jack Reed, 55-years-old, is also living with him, not working… What a guy…

Mary Inwood Reed died 17 April 1908.  Her death certificate states cause of death as senility.  She was 85-years-old.  The following month court papers were filed stating that Thomas Reed, George Childs, and Ada Van Dusen gave up all their claim to Mary’s property and giving it to Minnie Reed Olmsted.  It is the first time that I see the property listed as our address on Stringtown Road, though it is still a rural route.

Minnie Reed  Olmsted was now the proud owner of her family home, Reedmont, aka Sonnystone Acres.

Stay tuned…