For a period of nearly seventy years the name of McNamee has been familiar to the citizens of Hancock county, especially to those living within the boundaries of what is now the township of Sugar Creek. As a representative of this well-known, sterling old family the subject of this sketch is entitled to more than a passing notice and it is with pleasure that the following outline of his life and achievements is given a place in this volume devoted to Hancock county’s leading men and prominent citizens.

In the year 1833 there came to this part of Indiana one David McNamee, who, with his family, drove through from Highland county, Ohio, making the journey in the face of many obstacles, not the least of which was the absence of roads, as the country in many places was new and such things as highways were unknown. After a long and tiresome trip he finally reached his destination, and a more uninviting and discouraging prospect than the wilderness of Sugar Creek township held out to the pioneer family cannot easily be imagined. On every hand were dense forests of gigantic trees, among which but few white men had ever penetrated, and several miles intervened between the site of Mr. McNamee’s settlement and the house of the nearest neighbor. He entered one hundred and sixty acres of land, put up a small round-pole cabin and, resolutely facing the future, began his struggles in the wilderness with a determination to win success in the end. Blessed with a fine physique and superb health, Mr. McNamee made rapid progress in the work of clearing and preparing his land for cultivation, and but few years elapsed until he had a goodly number of acres fit for tillage. It is a matter of local history that he was the third actual settler in Sugar Creek township, but he lived to see its forest give place to happy homes, and its population increase until the township became one of the most progressive and prosperous sections of the country. He took an active part in the growth and development of the county and his life was very closely interwoven with its history until his death, which took place at an advanced age.

David McNamee was a prosperous man and at one time owned four hundred and fifty acres of valuable land, the greater part of which was developed by the work of his owns and his son’s hands. He assisted each of his children to obtain a substantial start in life, and gave them the benefit of his advice and counsel in the various undertakings in which he engaged. In his religious belief he was a Methodist and for many years held the office of steward in the local church with which he was identified. He lived a full life, was respected by all who knew him, and when his labors were ended in 1870 the people mourned him as a kind neighbor, a sincere Christian, a substantial citizen and a man whose influence was always for good. The maiden name of Mrs. McNamee was Catherine Townsend; she bore her husband two children, Benjamin, father of the subject of this review, and Jane, who married James C. Hawk. She is dead but her husband is still living in the township of Sugar Creek.

Benjamin McNamee was born in Highland county, Ohio, and accompanied his parents to Hancock county, Indiana, nearly seventy years ago. He remained with his father until the latter’s death, and spent the greater part of his life in Sugar Creek township, plying the vocation of agriculture. He was married in this township to Miss Mary A. Irons, a native of Ohio, and became the father of the following children: Catherine J., wife of Morgan Caraway, of Brandywine township; James W., John Wesley, deceased; Margaret died in childhood; Benjamin F., deceased, as are also David S. and Lou E.; Mary E., the youngest of the family, married J. Ashcraft and lives in Sugar Creek township. Benjamin McNamee was one of the substantial farmers of his township and earned the reputation of a good man and enterprising citizen. By industry and thrift he acquired a competence and his death which occurred in 1895, was greatly deplored by the people of the community. Mrs. McNamee survived her husband until 1901, in September of which year she too entered the other life.

James W. McNamee is a native of Hancock county, Indiana, born on the family homestead in Sugar Creek township, November 21, 1852. He grew up to the full stature of physical and mental manhood on the farm, and received a good education in the district schools, attending the same of winter seasons during his minority. Springing from a long line of ancestors whose livelihood and wealth were derived from the soil, he early decided to make the ancient and honorable vocation of agriculture his life work, accordingly, on reaching manhood’s estate he began farming for himself. He remained at home until 1879, in which year, on the 22d of December, he entered the marriage relation with Miss America Myers, of Shelby county, Indiana, daughter of Joseph Myers, one of the well-known citizens of that part of the state.

Immediately following his marriage Mr. McNamee went to Fremont county, Iowa, where he purchased four hundred acres of land and engaged in farming and stock-raising. The west not coming up to his expectations, he disposed of his interests there after a residence of two and a half years and returned to Hancock county, Indiana, locating in his home township, where he now owns a fine tract of land, embracing two hundred and thirty-two acres, including a part of the old homestead. This is one of the best cultivated farms in Hancock county, also one of the most valuable. Its improvements are all up to date and the soil is tilled according to the most advanced methods of modern agriculture. Mr. McNamee believes that farming is a science and has a proper conception of its true dignity when compared with other vocations. He studies the soil and its adaptability to the different crops and by intelligently following out his ideas seldom fails to make his well cultivated acres yield large returns. In the matter of livestock he has been more than ordinarily successful, devoting much attention to fine breeds of hogs, shorthorn cattle and blooded heavy draft horses. He has long been considered an authority as a stock man and is entitled to great credit for his efforts in inducing the farmers of his neighborhood to improve their breeds of domestic animals.

Mr. McNamee gave personal attention to his farm until 1900 in the spring of which year he left the place and took up his residence in Greenfield, where his is now living a retired life. He still looks after his agricultural and stock interests, but performs no manual labor, contenting himself with managing his business affairs. He has accumulated an ample competence, is now rated with the solid financial men of his county, and enjoys the fruits of his labors with becoming modesty, making no ostentatious display of the fortune in his possession.

Mr. McNamee is a stanch Republican, and in 1894 was the party nominee for sheriff, lacking but sixty-four votes of election, with the county having a normal Democratic majority of six hundred. Fraternally he holds membership with the Pythian brotherhood, belonging to New Palestine Lodge No. 215.

Mr. and Mrs. McNamee are the parents of three children: Benjamin died when five months old, Ruby and Jessie, the last two students in the city schools. The prime motive for Mr. McNamee’s removal to Greenfield was to afford his children better educational advantages than the county offered, and he proposes to spare no reasonable expense in their intellectual improvement. He takes the proper view in this matter, for in strengthening their minds and storing them with much valuable knowledge he is providing his offspring with a legacy of which no turn of fortune can deprive them. Mr.McNamee is a conservative man, but possess a soundness of judgment and clearness of foresight which have won him the highest regard of the leading business men of his city and county. He takes a broad and comprehensive view of things, keeps himself well informed relative to business, public and political affairs, and has long been numbered with the representative citizens of Hancock county.

Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 342-344.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI July 29, 2002.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / tcward@columbus-ks.com

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