Benjamin Pickering Catt, a well-kmown and up-top-date farmer of Blue River township, this county, is a native Hoosier, born in the neighboring county of Rush, September 12, 1846, son of Solomon and Cerena (Pickering) Catt, who became early residents of the Hopewell neighborhood in this county and there spent their last days.
Solomon Catt, the son of one of the earliest settlers in Hancock county, was born on a pioneer farm near the present site of Cleveland, in this county, in 1818. He was reared there, but later went over into Rush county, where for some years he was engaged in the cooperage business. There he married Cerena Pickering, who was born in Ohio and who parents had settled in Rush county at an early date. As a cooper Solomon Catt accumulated eight hundred dollars and in 1854 came with his family over into Hancock county and paid that sum for eighty acres of land in the Hopewell settlement, giving a shot-gun for "boot." There he erected a hewed-log house and established his home, he and his wife spending the rest of their lives in this county. In addition to the labors of clearing and improving his farm, Solomon Catt continued for some time after settling here to ply his trade as a cooper and many barrels were turned out of the shop he set up on his place. He increased his land holdings and presently became the owner of one hundred and twenty acres surrounding his home. He and his wife were earnest members of the Friends church and aided in the organization of the church in the vicinity of their home, Mr. Catt shaving the boards that entered into the construction of the first edifice erected by that meeting. He also was one of the first officers of the meeting and in all ways did well his part in the formative period of the now well-established community. Originally a Whig, he became a Republican upon the formation of that party and ever remained stanchly loyal to the principles of his party. Solomon Catt lived to a good old age, his death occurring in August, 1901. His widow survived him for thirteen years, her death occurring in 1914, she then being eighty-eight years of age. They were the parents of eight children, of whom the subject of this sketch was the seventh in order of birth, the others being as follow: Rebecca Ann, who died about thirty years age; Lucinda, who married Joseph L. Binford and died about 1908; Eli O., who lives in this county; Harvey, who lives in Rush county; Mark A., living in North Dakota; Riley A., a resident of this county, and Nathan, who went to the front as a soldier of the Union during the Civil War, enlisting when he was sixteen years of age and died of typhoid fever at Murfreesboro while in the service.
Benjamin P. Catt's early youth was spent at Knightstown, where his father conducted a cooper shop, and there he received his first schooling in a log school house which stood where the present central school building at Knightstown stands. He was eight years old when his parents came over into Hancock county and his schooling here was continued in the school established at Hopewell by his mother's brother, William Pickering. He was an active assistant in the work of developing the home farm and grew up strong, active and vigorous. Benjamin Pickering Catt went west and was away from the old home for twenty-five years, at the end of which time he returned and bought twenty-five acres of land, where he now lives, paying for the same one thousand dollars. He later added an adjoining tract of fifteen acres and to that, presently, another tract of forty-four acres. For the last four-acre tract he added to his place he paid the sum of eight hundred and twenty-five dollars. Mr. Catt is a progressive and up-to-date farmer and his place is admirably improved. He has a modern nine-room house, piped for gas; cement walks about the place; a wind-mill and farm buildings in keeping, and his farm is under excellent cultivation.
Mr. Catt is a birthright member of the Friends church and has always contributed to the support of the same. He is a Republican and has always supported that party. During the ascendancy of the Populist party he was appointed a delegate to the Omaha convention of that party which gave William J. Bryan the nomination for President, but he declined to accept the honor.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 1098-1100.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 17, 2001.
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