Robert Binford, one of the first settlers of Hancock county, was born in North Carolina, July 2, 1813. In 1826, at the age of thirteen years, he came with his parents and other Binford families to the new free state of Indiana and settled in the green woods of what is now Blue River township, Hancock county, but then Madison county, in the "New Purchase."
James Binford, grandfather of Robert Binford, had at one time been well off, having owned large plantations and numerous slaves in Guilford county, North Carolina, but, becoming convinced that the trafficking in human souls was a sin against heaven, and that slavery and the bondage of either blacks or whites was contrary to the principles of our free institutions, which in spirit declare that all are born free and equal, with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, he and his children voluntarily freed their slaves, one and all, and endeavored to reinstate them in their primitive moral rights by dividing with them what property they had helped to accumulate. Selling their lands at a sacrifice, they determined to seek a home in a free state, away from the blighting influences of human slavery, and hence sought an asylum in the "New Purchase."
Before the emigration was completed James Binford, grandfather of Robert Binford, died, and his four sons and two daughters came to the "New Purchase" and settled on most of the land between Carthage, in Rush county, and Westland, in Hancock county. The names of these children were Micajah, Joshua, James, Benajah, and Mrs. Jared Patterson and Mrs. Rebecca Parker. James L. Binford, the third son of James Binford, came with his wife and family, consisting of four sons and one daughter, the oldest of whom was Robert Binford, the immediate subject of this sketch. The members of the family were Robert, Joseph, Benjamin, William and Mrs. Anne Bundy.
Robert Binford was married March 30, 1837, to Martha, daughter of John Hill, one of the prominent pioneers of Rush county. Mr. Binford had plenty of land for a beginner, having received one hundred and sixty acres by his wife and a similar amount from his parents. A little cabin was soon erected in the green woods and the young couple set about in earnest to make an honest living. Not an acre of his land was at this time cleared and he was really poor, too poor to buy a second horse and in consequence had to care for his first crop with a single team. His first crop consisted of two and a half acres of corn, the grain being worth at that time twelve and a half cents per bushel, but he had none to sell. His first wheat crop was grown on the same little tract of land, but it was "sick" wheat, so called by the early settlers because it made them sick to eat it in any manner, even in limited quantities; hence it was worthless and he received nothing for it. His first hogs sold at a dollar per hundred weight, which brought him eighty-seven dollars, the most money he had ever had. Farm hands were worth seven to eight dollars per month; calico forty cents per yard; coffee and tea were too expensive to be within the reach of the pioneers, hence they used rye and other substitutes.
Mr. Binford reared a large family, nine children, who are all successful, honorable, industrious citizens, who have accumulated much property. Six sons and two daughters reside in Hancock county and are briefly mentioned as follows: Benjamin H. Binford, farmer;; John H,. Binford, attorney and banker; William Penn Binford, farmer; Mrs. Martha J. Elliott, teacher and farmer; Robert Barclay Binford, farmer; Joseph L. Binford, farmer, Mrs. Mary L. Brunner, physician; Nathan L. Binford, banker The ninth and youngest, Mrs. Alice A. Bacon, resides with her husband and three children near Hutchinson, Kansas, where they own one thousand acres of rich Kansas soil.
By great industry and rigid economy Mr. Binford succeeded in accumulating considerable property. He gave most of his children good college educations and also gave to each one a farm and several thousand dollars. He did much for charitable and educational institutions and always contributed liberally of his means for the support of the church. In politics he was a Republican and in church relations an orthodox Friend or Quaker. Naturally timid, modest and unassuming, he avoided publicity, never aspiring to office, but preferring the quiet walks of life.
Mr. Binfords death occurred at his home on the 2d of February, 1884, at the age of seventy years and seven months. He was held in the highest esteem by an unusually large circle of warm friends. He was one of the earliest settlers of Hancock county, a man of unblemished character, one of the most successful farmers and heaviest tax-payers of the county, the father of nine worthy and well-to-do children, a charitable Christian gentleman-all in all, a good citizen. He left a large estate to his widow, Martha Binford, whose death occurred August 8, 1899, at the advanced age of eighty years and seven months. Their labors are ended, and, like ripened sheaves gathered into the garner, so have they, fully ripened in all that earthly life can do, been gathered to their eternal rest.
The descendants of this worthy couple have grown to the large number of sixty and are among the extensive land owners and successful business men of the county. They own in the aggregate about three thousand five hundred acres of splendid land in Hancock county. An annual reunion and picnic of the Robert Binford family has been held in August for the past ten years in the vicinity of the old home place and is well attended by the members of this family. This year (1902) they gathered at the place where, sixty-five years ago Robert Binford cleared a little place in the wilderness and erected a log cabin for his home. A sumptuous feast was prepared for the occasion, after which reminiscences were given by the older members of the family. The old cradle, made by Robert Binford, in which each of the nine children were rocked, was viewed with special interest, as was the linen made from flax raised on the hold homestead and spun by the mother of the family, Martha Binford.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 298-300.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI July 20, 2002.
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