The record of a life well spent, of triumphs over obstacles, of perseverance under difficulties, of gradual advancement from a modest beginning to a place of distinction in the professional world, when imprinted on the page of history present to the youth of the rising generation an example worthy of emulation. Such is the life of the prominent citizen and distinguished lawyer a brief review of whose career is herewith set forth. From the most reliable information obtainable it appears that the American branch of the Marsh family settled in Pennsylvania at a very early date of the Colonial period. Near the middle of the eighteenth century there was living in this colony one Gravener (or Gravinor) Marsh, who, according to old records now in possession of his descendants, was married February 19, 1763, to Miss Jane Boyd, a daughter of a well known pioneer family. This marriage resulted in the followng children: Henry, born February 6, 1766; James, August 27, 1767; Anna, June 25, 1770; Hannah, January 27, 1773; Joanna, December, 1774, and Lydia, who birth occurred May 27, 1776.
According to certain accounts, Gravener Marsh appears to have moved in an early day to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but the records shows that the above children and some of their descendants were born in Virginia, to which state the family had emigrated. Gravener Marsh was twice married, the second union being without issue; the second wife was a lady by the name of Howells. Mrs. Jane Marsh died on the 16th day of December, 1804, and her husband departed this life April 16, 1817.
Henry Marsh, oldest child of Gravener and Jane (Boyd) Marsh was married on the 29th of December, 1792 in Frederick county, Virginia, to Miss Elizabeth Likins, who bore him children with the names and dates of birth as follows: Gravener, January 17, 1794; Henry, December 23, 1795, Jonas, September 2, 1796; James, May 6, 1798; Rebecca, April 14, 1800; Jane, November 4, 1801; Josiah, May 27, 1803; Elizabeth, April 12, 1804; Abel, May 5, 1806; Hannah, December 31, 1811; and Erasmus, who was born April 19, 1813. The father of these children died July 7, 1846, at the age of eighty-one years; the mother preceded her husband to the grave, dying on the 11th day of August, 1845, at a good old age. Mrs. Elizabeth Marsh was a native of Virginia, born and reared on a farm about eight miles from the present city of Winchester, where her parents settled in a very early day.
The second son of the above family, Jonas Marah, is the father of the subject of this sketch. His birth occurred in Washington county, Virginia, and when a young man he accompanied his parents to Tennessee and settled in Washington county. He was married there August 20, 1818, to Miss Margaret Kennedy, whose people were among the early pioneers of the above county. Springing from the marriage were the following children: George and Henry, twins, born August 9, 1820; the latter died in Hancock county, Indiana, February 8, 1896; Elizabeth Ann, born October 30, 1822, married William S. Kennedy, and died in Morgan county, Illinois, July 12, 1849; Rebecca, wife of James W. Piper, was born October 11, 1824. The mother of these children was born August 23, 1798, and died in Tennessee, August 5, 1826. Subsequently, January 27, 1827, Jonas Marsh entered into marriage with Catherine Kennedy, a sister of his former companion, and became the father of seven more children, namely: Louisa, born August 18, 1827; married William S. Kennedy, and died in Warrington, Indiana, August 5, 1855; William, born November 8, 1829, married Sarah Ellen Lakin, after whose death he married Permelia A. Patterson; Montgomery, the subject of this sketch, is the next in order of birth; Mary Jane, wife of Benjamin F. Gibbs, was born January 6, 1835; Matilda, born March 10, 1837, married Dr. William Trees, and died January 8, 1900; the Doctors death occurred August 5, 1894. The children mentioned in the above list were born while the family lived in Tennessee. After coming to Hancock county, Mrs. Marsh gave birth to the following: Jonas, born July 19, 1839, died September 2, 1840; Martha Ellis, born November 6, 1841, married William F. Pratt; Ephraim, born June 2, 1845, married Matilda Brewer; John Leonard, the youngest of the family, was born December 27, 1851; his first wife was Laura E. Trees, after whose death he married Miss Ida Brown.
The following is a brief general outline of the Kennedy family. The grandparents of Mrs. Margaret and Catherine Marsh were William and Elizabeth Kennedy, the latter a daughter of George and Margaret Purcell. William Kennedy was born October 25, 1773, and died April 9, 1850; his wife was born May 22, 1778, and departed this life on December 30, 1838. They had children as follows: Margaret, John, Elizabeth, George, Mary, Catherine, Sarah, William, Robert Jackson, Amanda and Dicy, nearly, if not all, of whom have long since passed into the other life.
Jonas Marsh disposed of his interests in Tennessee in 1837 and in the fall of that year moved to Hancock county, Indiana, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in section 25, Brown township. In early life he followed mechanical pursuits, principally as a wagonmaker and wheelwright, but after coming to Indiana he turned his attention entirely to agriculture, which vocation he followed the remainder of his day. He cleared and developed a good farm and became one of the substantial men of his community. He took an active part in the material development of the township in which he settled, but never had any ambition to gratify in the direction of public position, contenting himself to live the quiet life of a farmer and private citizen. He lived to a ripe old age, dying on the 7th day of March, 1877, in his eighty-first year; Mrs. Marsh died in Greenfield, April 30, 1885, and lies by the side of her husband in the Hayes cemetery.
Montgomery Marsh was born near the town of Leesburg, Washington county, Tennessee, March 30, 1832. He was a lad five years old when his parents came to Indiana and from that time to the present he has spent the greater part of his life in Hancock county, with the growth and development of which his career has been largely interwoven. In his childhood and youth he attended such schools as the neighborhood afforded and the training thus received was supplemented later by a full course in an Indianapolis commercial college. When old enough to be of service on the farm he did his share of work in the fields and until attaining his majority remained at home as his fathers faithful assistant. He early learned to prize honest toil at its true value and to place a proper estimate upon earnest endeavor in all avenues of activity. Mr. Marsh earned his first money by working on a railroad and it was with the money thus made that he was enabled to carry out a desire of long standing by completing his business education above referred to. From an early age Mr. Marsh manifested a decided predilection for the legal profession and it was while prosecuting his studies in the commercial school, and working at home and elsewhere, that he borrowed law books and devoted his leisure to their careful perusal. Subsequently he read law under the direction of the Hon. Thomas D. Walpole and James Rutherford, well-known attorneys of Greenfield, and the assistance received from these gentlemen, together with a diligent observance of the proceeding in courts, served well as a foundation for his subsequent career as one of the leading member of the bar of the Hancock circuit court.
Mr. Marsh continued his reading and investigation until his admission to the bar in 1854, after which he entered upon the active practice in Greenfield and was not long in building up a lucrative business. In the year 1856 he was elected prosecuting attorney for the judicial district composed of the counties of Hancock and Madison, and as such discharged his duties in an able and praiseworthy manner for a period of two years, retiring from the office in the fall of 1858. At the expiration of his term as prosecutor he discontinued the practice for a time and turned his attention to merchandising, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Dr. William Trees, under the firm name of Trees and Marsh. This enterprise proved fairly remunerative and was continued under the above name until 1863, at which time Mr. Marsh disposed of his interest in the firm and engaged in business by himself. He purchased a miscellaneous assortment of merchandise and by carefully studying the demands of the trade soon had a liberal share of patronage. He continued the goods business until 1865, when he began buying and selling live stock, an undertaking which proved quite successful during the two years in which he followed it. With an ardent desire to resume the practice of law, he discontinued commercial pursuits in 1867 and opened a law office in Greenfield, since which time he has been a prominent factor in the legal affairs of Hancock and neighboring counties.
Mr. Marsh was attorney for the Citizens Bank of Greenfield for a period of twenty years, aside from which his attention has been devoted to the general practice. From the beginning his career presents a series of successes, until, as already stated, he early won a conspicuous place among the leading lawyers of Greenfield and became widely known as an able and painstaking attorney, a safe and reliable counselor, a forcible advocate and a successful practitioner. His knowledge of the basic principles of legal science is deep and broad and his tact in applying it to cases in hand, together with his uniform observance of the ethics of the profession and courteous treatment of opposing counsel, have won him a clientage second to that of few lawyers in this section of the state. Mr. Marsh is exceedingly careful in the preparation of legal papers and is clear and concise in elucidating them before the court; in the management of cases he has long been recognized as painstaking and judicious, leaving nothing undone whereby an opponent can obtain advantage, but never resorting to anything savoring of disreputable practice in order to befog witnesses and confuse jurors. He is strong as an advocate, clear in stating his premises, logical in the presentation of arguments and often eloquent in impressing them upon the minds of court and jury.
Mr. Marsh not only takes precedence as a lawyer, but for many years has been one of the leading Democratic politicians of Hancock county, as such being well known in party circles throughout the central part of the state. He has been a wise adviser and judicious counselor in a number of campaigns, besides contributing much to the success at the polls as an earnest, active worker in the ranks. A clear and logical speaker, and possessing agreeable personality, his services were often sought and he never failed to satisfy and convince his auditors while discussing with much power the leading questions at issue. Mr. Marsh is a politician, but not a partisan in the sense the latter term is usually understood. His efforts are eminently honorable and while deeming no reasonable sacrifice too great for the party cause, he never resorts to the methods of the professional demagogue. He has given freely of his time and energy to promote the interests of Democracy and that, too, without hope or wish of reward; nevertheless, in recognition of his valuable services as well as by reason of his eminent fitness for the position, he was nominated by his party in 1896 for representative from Hancock county to the lower house of the general assembly. At the ensuing election he defeated his opponent by a large majority and his record as a legislator has fully justified the confidence reposed in him by his constituents. Mr. Marsh took an active part in the deliberations of the legislature and was honored by being placed upon some of the most important committees of the house. He introduced several important bills which became laws, used his influence for the enactment of other laws which now adorn the statute books and all in all made a record that reflects credit upon himself and the county he so ably represented. In the year 1891 he was elected by the legislature of the state of Indiana, trustee of the Eastern Hospital for the Insane at Richmond, and as such served acceptably for a period of four years. In the above and other responsible spheres he has proven himself worthy to discharge high and important trusts, and through a long and honorable career his chief aim has been a conscientious regard for duty. Not only in the various public relations to which reference is made has Mr. Marsh achieved distinction, but in the common affairs of life he has discharged his duties with the same fidelity that has characterized him as a professional man and official. Interested in everything that tends to benefit the public, he is no idle spectator of current local events, but in a large degree he has directed and controlled them. Strong in his individuality, he never lacks the courage of his convictions, but a lively sympathy and an abiding charity, combined with sterling integrity and honor of character, led him to avoid rather than seek disputes with his fellowmen. He has long been and is still one of the strong and notable men of his city and county and, though in the meridian of life, is destined to continue for many years to come a potent factor in the affairs of this part of Indiana.
Mr. Marsh was made an Odd Fellow in 1856 and is still an active member of the order; he has represented Greenfield Lodge No. 135 in the grand lodge and is also a worker of note in the encampment in this city. He was married January 13, 1861, to Miss Ann Louvisa King, of this county, and is the father of one daughter, Flora Belle, wife of Daniel B. Cooper, of Greenfield, and one grandson, Marsh Paul Cooper. Mrs. Ann Louvisa Marsh died July 4, 1887, and is buried in Park cemetery, Greenfield. Mrs. Marsh was the daughter of James Kennedy King and Irene King. Mr. Marsh has never married since the death of his wife in 1887, although fifteen long years have passed since her death.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 223-227.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI May 26, 2002.
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