One of the old-time merchants of Fortville, Hancock county, Indiana, was William R. Rash, who for over twenty-five years conducted a general store that for a long time almost monopolized the trade of the village and the surrounding country, he being one of the most affable of salesmen and one of the most upright of dealers. He is now living in retirement and is enjoying in quiet comfort the fruits of his early devotion to business pursuits. He was born in Green township, Hancock county, Indiana, March 2, 1841, a son of John K. and Margaret (Fuqua) Rash, natives of Kentucky, who settled in Indiana in 1832 when the entire state was but little better than a wilderness.
John K. Rash was a son of John Rash, of Virginia, a soldier in the War of 1812. He was born in 1813, and for several years before his death, which occurred May 3, 1902, made his home with his son, William R. On coming to Indiana he entered one hundred and sixty acres of government land in Green and Vernon townships on which he cut the first brush. He was a very active and energetic young man at that time, was one of the best up-to-date farmers in the county and soon increased his possessions to three hundred acres. In prominence, he ranked among the foremost residents of the county, was a leading Democrat in politics, and his religion was represented in the faith of the Christian church, of which he was one of the most substantial pillars. In addition to farming, Mr. Rash did his own blacksmithing and other mechanical work, being naturally handy with tools. He reared nine children, namely: Elizabeth, widow of Jacob Shirm, who died from the effects of wounds sustained in the Civil War; Mary J., deceased wife of George Bannon; John T.,. of Fortville; William R., whose name heads this biography; L awson F., lives in this county; Susan T., deceased, married David T. Wynn; Benjamin M. resides in this county; Nancy A., deceased and James A., deceased.
Thomas L. Fuqua, maternal grandfather of William R. Rash, was also one of the sturdy pioneers of Green township, Hancock county, Indiana. He came from Kentucky in the fall of 1832 in company with John K. Rash and settled near Eden, where he occupied an open-faced shanty at a season when there was a great depth of snow on the ground, but by Christmas they had completed a log cabin into which they moved on that day. Around the cabin where John K. Rash lived packs of wolves that howled all night, and the plan resorted to in order to scare them away was to build a great fire on the hearth and to open the cabin door, when prowling beasts of all kinds would vanish. Appearances were discouraging, but Mr. and Mrs. Rash toiled diligently on until 1835, when they became weary of their frontier life and went back to Kentucky. The homeward trip was made under great difficulties, Mrs. Rash riding horseback, with the babe, Elizabeth, in front of her, while the household effects were piled into a wagon. The stay in Kentucky lasted two years, at the termination of which time the family again came to their Indiana home, where they passed the remainder of their days.
William R. Rash was educated in the primitive log school-house in vogue in his boyhood days and began his active life in 1861 as a farmer. In 1863 he commenced learning the carpenter s trade with J. M. Trueblood at Eden, with whom he worked until 1869, and in undertaking until 1876, when he opened a general store, which, as has been stated, commanded the leading trade of the place for over a quarter of a century; he sold out to Lowther & Williams September 1, 1901. During this interval Mr. Rash was also one of the promoters of the first gas well in Fortville, being one of the organizers of the Fortville Oil & Gas Company.
Mr. Rash was united in marriage August 8, 1861, with Miss Sarah Jarrett, daughter of Robinson and Caroline (Brawley) Jarrett, but this lady was taken away from him by death May 10, 1879, having borne him five children, namely: Orlando, deceased; Fannie, deceased; Ella M., who was first married to E. A. Cummins and bore him one child, Clarence, and is now the wife of E. B. Hanna, of Brightwood, Indiana, to whom she has borne two children, Hope and Marcus A.; Margaret is the wife of J. Emmet Phares, of Indianapolis, and Mollie E. is married to Merrill S. Ball, of Henderson, Rush county, Indiana, and they have one child, Margaret C. The second marriage of Mr. Rush was solemnized November 27, 1879, with Miss Catherine A. Rains, a daughter of Henry and Emily (Frederick) Rains, of Madison county, Indiana, and to this union there has been born one child, Morris, now deceased.
In his fraternal relations Mr. Rash is a member of Fortville Lodge No. 207, F. & A. M., in which he has filled nearly all the offices. For five terms he served as worshipful master and is now the secretary. In religion he is a Methodist and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal congregation at Fortville, to the support of which he liberally contributes. He is a stanch Republican in politics, and as a citizen and pioneer stands very high in the esteem of all the residents of Hancock county wherever his name is known, and there are very few places in the county where it is not known.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 429-430.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI Aug 15, 2006.
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