In the spring elections of township officers, in 1863, the Union candidates were elected in some of the townships, while in others the Democrats were successful. In Blue River township the Union vote for township trustee was divided between B. F. Luse, John Hunt and James P. New. The Democratic candidate was elected. In Vernon township the Union candidate, Levi Thomas, received 129 votes and George W. Stanley, Democrat, 140 votes. The Union vote in the townships, however, was not as large as it had been in the previous fall elections, while the Democratic vote held it won.
On May 16, 1863, the Union central committee held a meeting, at which the proposition of uniting with the Democrats on the selection of a county ticket was considered. The committee finally adopted the following resolutions, which were presented to the Democratic central committee:
"MESSRS. B. F. CALDWELL AND OTHERS, COMMITTEE:
"Sirs: The following preamble and propositions, on behalf of the Union county central committee, are herewith presented to your consideration, to-wit:
"Whereas, our country is involved in an unfortunate, unnecessary and causeless internecine war, commenced wantonly and wickedly, and still waged in the same spirit by rebels and traitors, against the government of the United States; and whereas, the rebellion is of such magnitude as imminently jeopardizes the safety of the people and the perpetuity of the government; and whereas, in our opinion, the government, in its efforts to suppress the rebellion, greatly needs the united support of all Union men; and whereas, the perpetuity of old party organizations tends to engender and continue criminations, strife and division among loyal men, when nothing of the kind should exist; therefore, to mitigate, and, if possible, avoid the evils growing out of party contest at a time like this, and to preserve and cement good feeling among all loyal men, we, the Union central committee of Hancock county, on behalf of our friends, submit to the central committee claiming to represent the Democracy, the following propositions, viz:
"That no nomination convention be held in the county during the present year (1863).
"If this proposition is not acceptable, then we propose that two central committees unite in calling a county nominating convention, to be composed of or represent all men who are for the Union, the Constitution and the vigorous prosecution of the war to suppress the rebellion.
"Hoping that the preamble and propositions will be favorably considered,
William Frost, Chairman,
William Mitchell, Secretary"
Even the most casual perusal of the above proposals will reveal the fact that its adoption by the Democrats would have involved the complete surrender of all of the principles which had been enunciated in their own resolutions adopted from time to time. Each party again nominated its county ticket for the October election, in 1863. The tickets, with the number of votes received by each candidate, were as follow:
Treasurer-Nelson Bradley, Union, 1,382; John Addison, Democrat, 1,198.
Auditor-Lysander Sparks, Union, 1,385; Montgomery Marsh, Democrat, 1,195.
Sheriff-William G. Caldwell, Union, 1,394; Jonathan Dunbar, Democrat, 1,162.
Commissioner- John Hinchman, Union, 1,388; Hiram Tyner, Democrat, 1,191.
Coroner-Isaac Ballenger, Union, 1,382; Warner G. Smoot, Democrat,.1,187.
The approximate majority in each of the various townships at this time was as follows:
The Union ticket thus had a majority of approximately two hundred votes in the county.
After the votes had been counted, Jonathan Dunbar, the Democratic candidate for sheriff, brought an action to contest the election. The action was brought before the board of county commissioners of Hancock county. All the candidates on the ticket with the exception of the candidate for prosecutor were made defendants. The petitioner gave the following grounds, in substance, as the basis for his right to contest the election:
"That the ballot box in Center township was stuffed by persons unknown to the contestor.
"That force and violence were used at the pools in Center township, and thereby voters were excluded from the pools who desired to vote for the contestor and his associate candidates.
"That votes were allowed to be cast for the Union candidates by persons who were not citizens of the county.
"That minors were allowed to vote the Union ticket.
The board of county commissioners dismissed the petition for the reason that the statute governing the case provided that "when the office of county auditor is contested such statement shall be filed with the clerk." In this action the county auditor had been made a party defendant. From the decision of the board the petitioner appealed to the Hancock circuit court, Montgomery Marsh and John Addison going on his bond. On February 26, 1864, the cause was dismissed on motion of the plaintiff.
One year later, at the October election, in 1864, the Democratic ticket was successful. The tickets before the people in this election, with the number of votes received by each candidate, were as follow:
Representative-Thomas C. Tuttle, Union, 1,361; John H. White, Democrat, 1,395.
Recorder-Benjamin T. Raines, Union, 1,363; Levi Leary, Democrat, 1,392.
Surveyor-George W. Hatfield, Union, 1,362; William Trees, Democrat, 1,395.
Commissioner-Benjamin Reeves, Union, 1,358; William New, Democrat, 1,398.
At the Presidential election in November, 1864, Lincoln and McClellan received the following number of votes:
A Union mass convention was held August 26, 1865, at Greenfield. Elias McCord was elected president of the convention; Henry W. Thompson and Henry C. Moore, vice-presidents; William Mitchell and Dr. W. W. Pierson, secretaries. The resolutions committee was composed of William Frost, Dr. M. McManee, H. L. Moore, John Thomas and A. H. Allsion. The following resolutions were adopted by this convention:
"Resolved, that the Union party of this county, composed of all such as have ignored all past parties and party issues in a common patriotic purpose of saving the government of the United States from overthrow, is, if possible, now more than ever devoted to the Constitution and Union of our common country.
"That coercion has saved the government and country from overthrow and ruin, and the policy of the Union party in the prosecution of the war has proven a complete success.
"That we rejoice that the causeless and wicked rebellion has been suppressed, our country saved, and peace restored, without a dishonorable compromise with traitors in arms, by the labors, toils, privations and sacrifices of our Union people.
"That we cherish in grateful hears the memory of our lamented President Lincoln.
"That President Johnson, by his honesty, integrity, ability and patriotism is worthy to be the successor in the Presidential office of our good and great Lincoln, and that we have abiding confidence in the success of his administration.
"That we cordially endorse and approve the policy first adopted by President Lincoln, and followed and firmly adhered to by President Johnson, for the reorganization and restoration of the states, whose people have been in rebellion, to their practical relation to the general government.
"That all men must be free within this government, and that all should be protected in person and property, and that while we desire the improvement, progress and comfort of all, we are opposed to the extension of suffrage to the negroes, and as far as practical favor their colonization on some suitable territory without the jurisdiction of the states.
"That the gratitude of the country is due to the army and navy, soldiers and sailors for their bravery and patriotism in defense of the 'old flag,' and their families, the widows and orphans have a right to our sympathies and the care of the government.
"That we approve of the execution of the assassins of President Lincoln, and demand that Jeff Davis, the Confederate head of all treason, be speedily tried, and if found guilty executed."
Candidates were nominated by the convention, the convention giving to each township a ratio of one vote for every fifty or fraction of fifty votes cast for Abraham Lincoln, at the Presidential election in 1864. Under this rule the votes were distributed as follows: Blue River, 3; Brandywine, 1; Brown, 2; Buck Creek, 3; Center, 7; Green, 2; Jackson, 5; Sugar Creek, 6; Vernon, 4.
On September 9, 1865, the Democrats held a primary nominating convention. The county convention met on September 16, 1865, to ratify and confirm the votes of the townships and to declare the result of that vote. There seems to have been more or less of a fight between George Y. Atkison, on the one hand and Noble Warrum, Morgan Chandler and Dr. B. W. Cooper on the other for the control of the party. It seems that Atkison was rather successful in the fight. The two tickets put into the filed by these conventions, with the number of votes received by each candidate at the October election, in 1865, were as follow:
Clerk – H. A. Swope, Union, 1,375; William Marsh, Democrat, 1,206.
Treasurer-Nelson Bradley, Union, 1,358; Robert P. Brown, Democrat, 1,240.
Sheriff-William G. Caldwell, Union, 1,388; S. T. Dickerson, Democrat, 1,202.
Commissioner-Ephraim Thomas, Union, 1,369; Smith McCord, Democrat, 1,234.
Recorder-Amos E. Beeson, Union, 1,373; Wellington Collyer, Democrat, 1,231.
The Union ticket was thus successful again in 1865 with majorities ranging from one hundred to one hundred and fifty votes.
On March 10, 1866, a Democratic county mass convention was held at Greenfield to select delegates to attend the Democratic state convention. John W. Ryon was chosen president of the convention, and C. T. Cochran, secretary. The chairman appointed the following committee on resolutions; Center, B. W. Cooper, John H. White, J. L. Mason; Blue River, Samuel S. Chandler; Brandywine, Alfred Potts; Brown, William Garrett; Buck Creek, Isom Wright; Sugar Creek, Robert P. Brown; Green, Edward Valentine; Jackson, Benjamin F. Caldwell; Vernon, Solomon Jackson.
The following resolutions, endorsing the efforts and policies of President Johnson, were adopted:
"Resolved, that the principles of the Democratic party have ever been national, and that it is the duty of every patriot in this hour of our country's trial to aid the President in the restoration of the country to its former unity.
"Resolved, that the firm stand taken by President Johnson in his efforts to maintain the Constitution, restore the Union, and bring about harmony and good feeling between the people of the different sections of our country, meets with our unqualified approval.
"Resolved, that the vindictive and radical course adopted by the majority of the present Congress, in our opinion, is calculated to prolong the restoration of the states, and a return to quiet, prosperity and the industry of its citizens, and therefore meets our unqualified disapproval.
"Resolved, that we cordially endorse the President in his veto of the Freedman's Bureau bill.
"Resolved, that we are in favor of maintaining the public credit and that we believe it is a just principle that property of all kinds should equally bear the burdens of taxation, and that federal securities should be taxed for state, county and municipal purposes the same as other property.
"Resolved, that we congratulate our brave soldiers upon the restoration of peace and return to their homes; that while we mourn the loss of our comrades in arms we pledge to them our support in all efforts to secure from Congress provisions for the sick and wounded, and the families of those who have fallen.
"Resolved, that we are in favor of Congress equalizing the bounties paid to soldiers to suppress the late rebellion, either in public lands or in money.
"Resolved,that we stand unalterably opposed to conferring the right of suffrage upon the negro race and unqualifiedly condemn the action of Congress in its attempt to force the same upon the people of the District of Columbia.
"Resolved, that we invite the conservative men of all parties, who with us approve the veto and the restoration policy of President Johnson, to unite with us in sustaining those principle at the ballot box.
"Resolved, that we are opposed to any amendments being made to the Constitution of the United States until every state recently in rebellion is represented in the Congress of the United States."
At this convention the following Democratic central committee was appointed: Blue River, August Dennis; Brandywine, Alfred Potts; Brown, William Marsh; Buck Creek, John S. Wright; Center, John W. Ryon, James P Galbreath; Green, A. W. Huntington; Jackson, A .V. B. Sample; Sugar Creek, Ernest H. Faut; Vernon, Solomon Jackson.
John W. Ryon was elected chairman of this committee. The committee decided to hold a primary nominating convention on June 23, 1866.
The war had now closed and new problems of the reconstruction period began to force themselves upon the attention of the people. It is worthy of notice that the Union and Democratic parties of the county were agreed upon several points, as they had expressed themselves in their resolutions adopted on August 26, 1865, and on March 10, 1866, respectively. In their resolutions both endorsed the policy and statesmanship of President Johnson and both were opposed to giving the ballot to the negro. Two years later, however, the Union party was no longer willing to subscribe to its resolutions on August 26, 1865.
The county central committee of the Union party met at the county recorder's office on July 28, 1866, and there decided to hold a Union mass convention for the nomination of candidates on August 24, 1866. It seems that just at this time the Union central committee was in need of a little more financial support and hence the following committee was appointed: Blue River, J. I. Hatfield, B. P. Butler; Brandywine, John Roberts, William Workman; Brown, Dr. Trees, Isaac Smith; Buck Creek, E. Thomas, S. H. Arnett; Center, Nelson Bradley, Thomas Bedgood and S. Sparks; Green, R. Jarrett, H. B. Wilson; Jackson, John Barrett, John A. Craft; Sugar Creek, Adam Hawk, Benjamin Freeman; Vernon, Levi Thomas, Capt. T. R. Noell.
It was decided to collect fifteen dollars from each township for defraying accumulated indebtedness.
On August 25, 1866, the Union voters of Hancock county assembled in mass convention at the court house, pursuant to a notice previously given by the chairman of the Union central committee. The convention was called to order by Dr. N. P. Howard. On motion Presley Guymon was chosen president of the convention; H. H. Hall, William G. Caldwell, Ashbury Pope, vice-presidents; Thomas N. Bedgood and John G. Hatfield, secretaries.
On motion the president appointed three men from Center and one from each of the other townships as a committee on resolutions. It was also ordered, on motion, that all resolutions submitted to the convention for adoption, be referred to the committee on resolutions without debate. The committee on resolutions made two reports, a majority report and a minority repot. The majority report was as follows:
"Whereas, the Congress of the United States by a two-thirds vote has proposed to the several states thereof for amendments to the Constitution of the United States, fully recognizing the right of each state for itself to regulate and prescribe the qualifications of voters within the limits of such states, and to proportion the representation of such state in the Congress and electoral college according; therefore
"Resolved, that we believe such proposed amendments to be wise and just and expedient, and are in favor of their adoption.
"Resolved, that we recognize the right of each state to prescribe for its qualifications of its own voters, and that we are now, as heretofore, opposed to negro suffrage.
"Resolved, that we endorse the state ticket nominated by the Union state convention on the 22nd of February last, also the nomination of John Coburn by the Sixth Congressional district convention of July 19, 1866.
"Resolved, that we will show by our acts our high appreciation of the heroic citizen soldiers and sailors, who, by their valor saved and established man's God-given right to govern himself."
William Frost, a member of the committee on resolutions, submitted to the convention, as a minority report, the resolutions adopted by the Union Hancock county convention on August 26, 1865, and in February, 1866, respectively. These resolutions, after being read, were, upon motion, laid on the table. The resolutions offered by the majority report were adopted by an overwhelming vote of the convention. The following men were then appointed as the Union central committee for Hancock county for the ensuing year: Blue River, N. D. Coffin, B. P. Butler; Brandywine, William Workman, Ashbury Pope; Brown, Joseph Stanley, William Trees; Buck Creek, H. H. Hale, Shade Arnett; Center, N. P. Howard, A. F. Hart, William H. Curry; Green, Henry Moore, Robert Jarrett; Jackson, P. Bedgood, G. O. Chandler; Sugar Creek, Nelson Hogle, E. W. Pierson; Vernon, Thomas Hanna, Levi Thomas.The resolutions adlopted by this convention again contained the clause, "we are now, as heretofore, opposed to negro suffrage." They failed, however, to endorse the reconstructive policy of President Johnson; instead, they endorsed the action of Congress.
The rejection of the resolutions that had previously been twice adopted by the Union party and which had been offered again by William Frost in his minority report, was not received kindly by a great number of voters. Coburn, too, was entirely too radical and it was well known that his sympathies were with Congress rather than with the President. The same causes that were producing the breach between the President and Congress were also dividing the Union party in Hancock county.
As an indication of the dissatisfaction that arose on account of the action of the Union convention of August 25, 1866, the following notice appeared on August 30, 1866, in the Hancock Democrat:
"We, the undersigned voters of Hancock county, who supported Lincoln and Johnson in 1864, or who have since supported the Union ticket and who now must support the restoration policy of President Johnson, call upon the supporters of said policies, irrespective of past political divisions, to meet in mass convention in Greenfield on Saturday, September 15, 1866, to consult together as to the proper course to be pursued to sustain and carry out such policies.
John C. Rardin, Late Capt. 9th Cav.
A. K. Branham
James K. King
Pursuant to the above notice, the convention met at the designated time and place. A. K. Branham was chosen president and William Mitchell, secretary. George Barnett, Noble Warrum, Thomas West, William Frost and H. A. Swope were appointed as a committee on resolutions. They were also directed to report to the convention the names of suitable persons for a central committee. The committee on resolutions reported an endorsement of the National Union platform adopted at Philadelphia on August 14, 1860. This report was unanimously adopted. The party was liberal in its attitude toward the South and had great faith in the reconstructive policies of President Johnson. The following central committee was appointed: Center, George Barnett, Thomas West; Brown, Thomas Collins; Blue River, William Moore; Buck Creek, D. Offenbacker; Brandywine, William Service; Green, H. B. Wilson; Jackson, Noble Warrum; Sugar Creek, Capt. Thomas Tuttle; Vernon, Capt. George Tague.
There were three tickets in the field for the October election, 1866-the Union, Democratic and National Union. The following was the result of the election:
Joint Representative-William Rigdon, Republican, 1,317; John L. Montgomery, Democrat, 1,469.
County Representative-E. W. Pierson, Republican, 1,303; John H. White, Democrat, 21,461; Isaiah Curry, National Union, 35.
Commissioner, Middle District- Robert Andis, Republican, 1,321; James Tyner, Democrat, 11,453; C. G. Osborn, National Union, 22.
Surveyor-Abijah Bales, Republican, 1,321; William Fries, Democrat, 1,450; James K. King, National Union, 28.
The National Union organization of the county attempted to unite all Johnson's supporters on its ticket. In this it failed. Isaiah Curry, the candidate for county representative, received only thirty-five votes. Of these, thirty-three were in Center township, one in Jackson and one in Brown. Though the effort of this party to unite the Johnson supporters on a new ticket was a failure, that did not signify, as will be seen later, that the people had lost faith in Andrew Johnson. The President had been given an unqualified endorsement in the resolutions of the Democratic party, adopted March 10, 1866, and the Democrats simply voted their own ticket in support of the President, instead of voting the National Union ticket.
The National Union organization of the county attempted to unite all Johnson's supporters on its ticket. In this it failed. Isaiah Curry, the candidate for county representative, received only thirty-five votes. Of these, thirty-three were in Center township, one in Jackson and one in Brown. Though the effort of this party to unite the Johnson supporters on a new ticket was a failure, that did not signify, as will be seen later, that the people had lost faith in Andrew Johnson. The President had been given an unqualified endorsement in the resolutions of the Democratic party, adopted March 10, 1866, and the Democrats simply voted their own ticket in support of the President, instead of voting the National Union ticket.
The beginning of the disintegration of the Union party became evident in the nominating convention of August 25, 1866. The cause that had produced the party had been removed. New questions of reconstruction were confronting the people. The fight was on between the President and Congress, and, as has been seen from the resolutions adopted by both the Union and the Democratic conventions, there was a strong sentiment in Hancock county favoring the policies of the President. The county was especially opposed to negro suffrage, and when the great questions involved in the adoption of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution were before the people, and when other congressional legislation involving the right and state of the negro were under consideration the great majority of the people in Hancock county supported the President. Throughout the Civil War Governor Morton had been very popular with the Union party of Hancock county. At the close of the war Morton allied himself with the more radical element of his party and with Congress in support of negro suffrage. His action was a severe blow to the Union party in this county. The Hancock Democrat, which had been the organ of the Union party from the time of its formation, was again fighting the battles of a united Democracy in the campaign of 1867. It will be observed from the tabulated result of the election of 1866 that the Democrats were successful. With an exceptional loss of an office now and then, the party has remained in power in this county from that time to the present.
In the year 1866, David S. Gooding, who had been very active during the Civil War for the Union cause, was appointed United States marshal for the District of Columbia. This position he held until 1869. At that time he had a strong following in the county and it is a matter of speculation how far his appointment may have had an influence on the attitude of the county toward President Johnson.
During those years the Judge's name appeared frequently in the Eastern papers and articles referring to him were, of course, often copied in the Hancock Democrat. As an illustration of the standing of Judge Gooding at that time as a citizen and politician of Hancock county, we offer the following from the Cincinnati Commercial by the Washington correspondent, copied in the Democrat in the latter part of 1866.
"Mr. Gooding is a Western man, whose numerous friends in Indiana are readers of the Commercial. As I said before, custom had made it obligatory upon the district marshal to stand as interpreter of the people's names to the President during a levee. It is no ordinary task to present in that elegant and recherche manner many those of the bon ton of not only the capital, but all the capitals of the civilized world, to the chief executive officer of this greatest republic on earth. Yet Mr. Gooding succeeds admirably. He is tall, graceful and natural. That's it. He is not hampered by formality, but goes at it as a Buckeye or Hoosier would salute (in an unmentionably delicious way) a newly arrived feminine cousin. If it is Mr. Smith who comes to see Andy, then it is simply and emphatically "Mr. Smith, Mr. President." Hands are joined for a moment, and additional word may pass, and the crisis is transpired. It would do your Hoosier readers' hearts good to see this fellow citizen doing the honors at the White House."
On March 16, 1867, the Democratic central committee met to determine the time and manner of holding a nominating convention. The first Monday in April, 1867, was decided upon and the following resolution in relation thereto was adopted:
"Resolved, that all Democrats and Conservatives, who support and sustain President Johnson in his reconstructive policy, are invited to participate in said nomination, and that the Johnson men select their candidate for sheriff, and the Democracy are requested to support him"
The Union central committee, appointed in February, 1866, served through this campaign. The committee ordered a primary nominating convention to be held on July 27, 1867, and about three hundred votes were cast at this convention.
The following tickets were then before the people in the October election, in 1867:
Auditor-B. W. Cooper, Democrat, 1,336; Jonathan Tague, Union, 1,363.
Treasurer- R. P. Brown, Democrat, 1,481; Burroughs Westlake, Union, 1.236.
Sheriff-William Wilkins, Democrat, 1,471; Joseph Shultz, Union, 1,239.
The number of votes received by each candidate is indicated above. It will be observed that the entire Democratic ticket with the exception of the candidate for county auditor was elected.
As soon as the election was over it became noised about that Wilkins, the sheriff-elect, intended to appoint James Galbreath as his deputy, and to give him sole charge of the office and that Wilkins himself intended to remain upon his farm. This rumor was soon verified by Wilkins, who assured the people of the county that Galbreath would make a very efficient deputy, and that he could attend to the duties of the office just as well, or better than Wilkins himself. This occasioned a great deal of criticism from Democrats as well as Republicans. The voters of the county seemed to feel that since Wilkins had been entrusted with the office that he should give his personal attention to it. Wilkins, however, remained upon his farm during practically the entire term. Galbreath was a very efficient deputy, yet the arrangement was not wholly satisfactory to the voters.
In the election of 1867 not a county ticket was scratched in Buck Creek township. The county showed that one hundred and one straight Republican and one hundred and sixteen Democratic tickets had been voted. Another feature of this election in Buck Creek township was that Charles G. Offutt, who was not a candidate, received every Democratic vote in the township for prosecuting attorney. These were days in which names could be written on a ticket, pasters used, etc.
Before the campaign of 1868 opened the Union party had entirely disintegrated and the Democratic and Republican parties were again marching under their own banners. M. L. Paullus was the chairman of the Democratic central committee. Lemuel W. Gooding, who had been the secretary of the Union central committee and who had been elected chairman of that committee, now issued his party notices as "Chairman of the Republican County Central Committee."
The campaign was characterized by the organization of young men's clubs- the Grant clubs by the Republican, and the Seymour and Blair Clubs by the Democrats. In the election of 1868 Grant received 1,414 votes in the county and Seymour, 1,682.
In 1870 a new county Republican central committee was selected, composed of the following men: Center, P. Guymon, H. J. Williams; Blue River, B. P. Butler, John F. Coffin; Brown, Dr. William Trees, Lewis Copeland; Buck Creek, E. Thomas, S. H. Arnett; Brandywine, W. H. Curry, E. Bentley; Green, H. L. Moore, H. B. Wilson; Jackson, George W. Landis, Joseph Dunbar; Sugar Creek, B. Westlake, N. Hogle; Vernon, T. Hanna, W. H. Pilkenton. Dr. N. P. Howard was elected chairman of the committee.
Although it was not a presidential year, young men's clubs were again organized in the county.
Jared C. Meek, who has received so much notice in the local papers during the last few years as "the first white child born in Greenfield," was the candidate for sheriff on the Republican ticket in this campaign.
The campaign of 1870 is memorable in Hancock county because of the race of Judge Gooding for Congress and the contest for the congressional seat which followed the election. The Judge had a strong following at home, and at a Democratic mass meeting held at Greenfield on Saturday, February 26, 1870, of which Wellington Collyer was president and William Mitchell and William Marsh, secretaries, S. CD. Chamberlain offered the following resolutions:
"Whereas, the Democracy of the county, at the last county convention, expressed their preference for the Hon. David S. Gooding for the Congressional nominee of this the Fourth Congressional district.
"And whereas, four of the Democratic newspapers of this district have endorsed him as their choice;
"And whereas, we believe he is the choice of the Democracy of this county and of the district.
"And whereas, it will be inconvenient and unnecessary to call the people of this county together again for the sole purpose of choosing delegates to a Congressional convention; therefore, be it
"Resolved, that a committee of one from each township be appointed to report the names of the Congressional delegates."
After the adoption of this resolution the president of the mass meeting appointed the following committee to select delegates to attend the congressional convention: Blue River, James P. New; Brown, William Marsh; Buck Creek, Henry Wright; Brandywine, Alfred Potts; Center, C. T. Dickerson; Green, Neri Jarrett; Jackson, Frank Chandler; Sugar Creek, David Ulery; Vernon, Solomon Jackson.
This committee in turn reported the following men as delegates to the congressional convention: Blue River, Augustus Dennis, William New, C. G. Sample, William Handy; Brandywine, William H. Walts, Wellington Collyer, A. P. Brown, Alfred Potts; Buck Creek, M. C. B. Collins, Henry Wright, J. W. Shelby, George H. Black; Brown, William I. Garriott, J. P. Harlan, B. W. Beck, John B. Heck; Center, George Barnett, J. C. Atkison, William Mitchell, Isaiah Curry, William M. Johnson, S. C. Chamberlain, William Frost, S. T. Dickerson; Green, Jonathan Smith, Edward Barrett, John Green, Benton Marin; Jackson, John Addison, G. W. Sample, Berd Lacy, E. C. Reeves; Sugar Creek, Henry Fink, E. H. Faut, William Barnard, David Ulrey; Vernon, D. Z. Lewis, Andy Hagan, W. P. Brokaw, Solomon Jackson.
These delegates were instructed by the convention to vote for Judge Gooding and to vote as a unit.
Judge Gooding was nominated and made the race against Judge Wilson, of Connersville. The two men agreed to meet at all of the important points in the congressional district for joint discussions. Beginning in the latter part of August, 1870, joint debates were held at Richmond, Cambridge, Brookville, Greenfield, New Palestine, Connersville, and at other points. When the votes were counted the following seemed to be the result:
This gave Wilson an apparent majority of four votes in the district. A recount of the south poll at Richmond, in which the candidates had tied, gave Gooding a majority of eleven, which seemed to give him a clear majority of seven. Judge Gooding contested the election in the National House of Representatives. The contest was not finally decided until a short time before the next election, when the committee on resolutions offered two reports. A majority report, in favor of Wilson, and a minority report, in favor of Gooding. The question was decided by the House on strictly party lines, Wilson receiving one hundred and five votes, Gooding, sixty-four.
In 1872 political matters were rather unsettled in the county, both upon national issues and upon local questions. On June 29 a number of citizens inserted in the Hancock Democrat the following notice or call for a citizens' mass convention at the court house in Greenfield:
"All who are in favor of an honest and economical administration of public business, and are opposed to the corrupt way at present of controlling our county affairs are invited to come up and participate by voice and vote in the selection of a ticket of honest, upright and capable men, without any distinction of party, to be supported by the citizens of the county at the ensuing election.
J. A. Hall
G. T. Randall
H. J. Williams,
Nothing, however, was accomplished by this meeting in so far as political organization was concerned.
The marked inclination of the county toward the reconstructive policies of Andrew Johnson, as before observed, again came into prominence in the campaign of 1872. Even among the Republican there was a dissatisfaction with the radical tendencies of Congress. During the summer rumors spread that many Republicans in the county intended to vote for Horace Greeley. The Republicans, of course, attempted to minimize these reports by creating the impression that but very few Republicans would vote against General Grant. This occasioned the publication of the following statement signed by a number of Republicans in which they gave expression to their intentions:
"We, the undersigned Republicans of Hancock county, Indiana, having heard that it is being industriously circulated that there are but three Republican voters in this county who are in favor of the election of Horace Greeley as next President, take pleasure in disproving and correcting said report, by declaring respectively our intention to vote for Greeley and Brown for President and Vice-President:
"Anthony Smith, A. K. Branham, B. A. Roney, S. S. Roney, Thomas J. Hanna, N. C. Roney, O. P. Gooding, S. Stewart, N. M. Cooney, Andrew Stutsman, Jonathan Lineback, Lewis Carpenter, L. W. Gooding, Alexander Dickerson, Andrew J. Herron, N. P. Howard, W. F. McCord, Jacob McCord, Jr., Ebenezer Steele, John E. Cooney, C. S. Cooney, D. T. Davis, M. C. Foley Isaac Stutsman, William Taylor, J. T. McCray, Samuel Wallace, W. S. Catt, Albert Minson, Capt. Adams L. Ogg, Capt. Jared C. Meek, S. H. Arnett, Aquilla Grist, Moses McCray, M. S. Ragsdale, John Roberts, Nicholas Stutsman, John H. Myers, Stephen McCray, W. W. Gregg.
On August 17,, 1872, a meeting of "Liberal Republicans" was called at the court house for the purpose of effecting a county organization. The call, made through the Hancock Democrat, was signed by Adams L. Ogg, J. C. Meek, N. Stutsman, N. C. Foley, A. Smith and L. W. Gooding. The meeting was held. John Roberts was elected president and M. S. Ragsdale, secretary. The convention appointed the following county central committee; Blue River, Jonathan Lineback; Brown, James McCray; Brandywine, John Roberts, M. S. Ragsdale, Buck Creek, S. H. Arnett; Center, Capt. A. L. Ogg, Capt. Jared Meek; Green, Martin Alley; Jackson, Anthony Smith; Sugar Creek, M. C. Foley; Vernon, Thomas J. Hanna, William F. McCord.
On August 24, 1872, the Liberal Republican also organized a Greeley and Brown Club at Greenfield. Captain Ogg addressed the meeting on that occasion.
On Saturday, September 14, 1872, the county central committees of the Liberal Republican party and the Democratic party had a joint meeting at the court house. Both parties were supporting Greeley, and arrangements were made at this meeting for a campaign in the county. Dates were fixed for speakings at various points and thereafter Charles G. Offutt, Capt. Adams L. Ogg, Eph. Marsh, J. H. White, M. S. Ragsdale, James L. Mason, Oliver P. Gooding and James A. New spoke from the same platforms to the same audiences in support of Horace Greeley.
Another feature of the campaign of 1872 was the second race of Judge Gooding for Congress against his former opponent, Judge Wilson. The two candidates again "stumped" the Congressional district in a series of joint debates. The following schedule was agreed upon and published in the district: Warrington, Friday, August 9, Gooding opens; Fortville, Saturday, August 10, Wilson opens: Greenfield, Monday, August 12, Gooding opens; Moscow, Thursday, August 15, Wilson opens; Rushville, Saturday, August 17, Gooding opens; Liberty, Monday, August 19, Wilson opens; Fairfield, Wednesday, August 21, Gooding opens; Brookville, Friday, August 23, Wilson opens; Connersville, Saturday, August 24, Gooding opens.
It was agreed by the two candidates that all meetings open at one o'clock P.M.; that the speaker opening the debate have one and one-fourth hours, that the second speaker have one and one-half hours, and that the first speaker again have fifteen minutes to close. In this campaign Gooding was defeated by a majority of three hundred and eighty votes.
Among the notable political speakers at Greenfield in the campaign of 1872 was Daniel W. Voorhees, who spoke on Wednesday, August 28.
In the campaign of 1874, the Patrons of Husbandry, or "Grangers," made their influence felt. At that time they enrolled about fifteen hundred voters in the county. A fuller history of this movement will be given elsewhere. In 1874 the order decided to put a county ticket into the field. A county central committee was appointed, composed of the following men; Blue River, John Sloan, Lemuel Hackleman; Brown, Elijah Reeves, Joseph Stanley; Buck Creek, J. B. Cauldwell, F. Pentland; Brandywine, B. F. Goble, John Roberts; Center, Rufus Scott, Eli R. Gant, Enos Geary; Green, E. S. Bragg, George W. Hopkins; Jackson, John M. Leamon, John S. Lewis; Sugar Creek, John Vansickle, H. P. Anderson; Vernon, William G. Scott, J. D. Merrill.
On August 29, 1874, they held what they termed a "Reform or Independent Convention:" at Greenfield. John McGraw was elected president of this convention, and Enos Geary, secretary. The following candidates were nominated: Representative, Jacob Slifer, Center; clerk, John McGraw, Jackson; auditor, George W. Hatfield, Blue River; treasurer, Elbert S. Bragg, Green; Sheriff, William Edgill, Brandywine; recorder, David Hawk, Sugar Creek; law appraiser, Joseph Garrett, Brown; surveyor, J. H. Landis, Jackson; commissioner western district, Elias McCord, Vernon; coroner, Enos Geary, Center.
It seems, however, that political affiliations were stronger than the ties of the order. The Democratic ticket was elected. But from reports of persons now living who went through that campaign, it seems that the Democratic candidates were given much concern by this political organization. The Democrats had been in control of the county, and the success of any other political organization, of course, meant Democratic loss.
The popularity of Andrew Johnson with the great majority of the voters of Hancock county never appeared more clearly than when Johnson was elected to the United States Senate from the state of Tennessee, in January, 1875. To celebrate his victory a meeting of the citizens was held at the court house on Thursday evening, January 28, 1875. Smith McCord was elected president of the meeting; Jonas Marsh and Benjamin Galbreath, vice-presidents; George Barnett and William Mitchell, secretaries. Speeches were made by Smith McCord, Ephraim Marsh, Montgomery Marsh, Judge Gooding, J. V. Cook, James A. New, R. A. Riley and George Barnett. After the speech making J. V. Cook offered the following resolution which was unanimously adopted:
"Resolved, that the recent election of Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, to the Senate of the United States, is but a highly proper vindication of an honest man, a true patriot and an able statesman, from the unjust and untrue charges made against him by the corrupt heads of the Republican party, and that more especially in view of the reckless violations of the Constitution of the United States by President Grant and the party in power, are the services of the great defenders of the Constitution needed at this time, in the Unites States Senate."
William Frost then proposed three cheers for Andrew Johnson, the Union, the Constitution and the Laws.
In February, 1876, a call was issued through the columns of the Hancock Democrat for a mass meeting of the old citizens and voters of Hancock county, irrespective of party, who were in favor of the legal "greenback" money and opposed to the National Bank law. The time of the meeting was set at one P.M. on Saturday, February 19, 1876, "for the purpose of taking such action as may seem expedient in regard to the money questions" This call was signed by S. F. Dickerson, William F. Wilson, James F. Wilson, Smith Hutchison, William Fries, Joseph Jackson, Henry L. Fry, Sr., John G. Gambrel, J. H. White, John Walsh, Rufus J. Scott, William F. McBane, James P. Galbreath, Isaiah A. Curry, --Fields, J. A. Shell, William Porter, John W. Dye, Alfred Potts, John P. Banks, Cyrus Leamon, William Frost, R. P. Andis, W. Y. Pendleton, John Shepherd, Elijah C. Reeves, John Mayes, John A. Alyea, R. D. Cross, William Potts, William Fields, John Shelby, Jacob Slifer, J. H. Mayes, William Alyea, James H. Wirm, Willard H. Low, Philadner Craig, Thomas Bodkins, B. F. Fry, Wellington Collyer, John Richie, James R. Foster, Lysander Sparks, J. S. Thomas, W. H. Walts, John A. Barr.
Judge Gooding was invited to address the meeting. The convention was attended by a large number of citizens from all party of the county. Resolutions were adopted, condemning the circulation of national bank notes and favoring the issuance of "greenbacks" instead.
On March 23, 1878, a county convention of the Greenback followers was called at the Grange Hall at Greenfield. J. C. Vansickle, of New Palestine, was elected chairman and George Furry, secretary. The purpose of this meeting was to effect a county organization. The following central committee was appointed: Blue River, B. F. Luse; Brandywine, L. Milbourn; Brown, S. Milbourn; Buck Creek, Francis Pentland; Center, William Sears, H. Little; Green, C. G. Osborn; Jackson, John McGraw; Sugar Creek, John Vansickle; Vernon. P. J. Hannah.
This central committee adopted the following resolutions:
"Resolved, that the National party of Hancock county will hold a mass convention for Hancock county, at the court house in Greenfield, on the first Saturday in May, 1879, at one o'clock P.M., to complete a thorough organization of the National party in said county, and to nominate a full county ticket of able, truthful and faithful men, for which the central committee will issue a call, inviting all persons sympathizing with the National movement, and believing that there should be no partial or class legislation, that the laws should be so enacted and administered as to insure to every man the just reward of his own labor, to meet with them and participate in said mass convention.
"Resolved, that the Nationals of each township are earnestly recommended, at an early day, and upon their own notice, to meet at their usual place of holding elections, and to thoroughly organize their respective townships for efficient political action; ever remembering that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," and giving notice to quit to dishonest trading politicians who have established themselves in the gateways of commerce and speculation, and are enriching themselves by seizing the reward of other people's labor.
"Resolved, that this meeting adopt the platform of principles laid down by the convention of the National party, held at Toledo, Ohio, on the 22nd of February, 1878."
After the county organization had been effected the following ticket was put into the field: Representative, George Furry, Brandywine; clerk, Joseph Hanna, Buck Creek; treasurer, John S. Barrett, Jackson; auditor, John McCray, Brown; sheriff, Moses Fink, Center; recorder, Monteville Eastes, Buck Creek; commissioner, eastern district, Benjamin F. Luse, Blue River; commissioner, middle district, B. J. Goble, Brandywine.
Following this a Greenback party organization was maintained in the county for five or six years. William Sears was the chairman of the central committee practically all of the time.
When the difficulties of determining the result of the election of 1876 presented itself the Democrats of the county held a mass meeting for the purpose of giving expression to their feelings. The meeting was held on December 23, 1876. John H. White was elected chairman; James L. Mason, D. S. Gooding, James H. Carr and William Mitchell, secretaries. The following committee on resolutions was appointed: Blue River, Augustus Dennis; Brown, Robert D. Hayes; Brandywine, James Tyner; Buck Creek, Henry Wright; Center, Capt. R. A. Riley, Stephen Dickerson; Green, James M. Trueblood; Jackson, George Kinder; Sugar Creek, Tilghman Collyer; Vernon, Smith McCord.
Later it was decided to add to this committee the names of John D. Barr, William Sears, George Barnett, L. W. Gooding, Joseph Baldwin and Jared C. Meek. Judge Gooding was called upon for a speech and he gave an account of the situation in Oregon, Louisiana and South Carolina. Before the close of the meeting Captain Riley, of the resolutions committee, offered the following report, which was accepted:
"Whereas, there is a persistent effort being made by fraud and violence to declare elected and inaugurate Rutherford Hayes and William A. Wheeler, the minority candidates, as President and Vice-President, thus defeating the constitutionally and lawfully expressed will of the people, Therefore, be it
"Resolved, that we are now, as ever, devotedly attached to the Constitution of the United States, and to the Union of the states under the general government and that the general and state governments are each limited in their power, and that one should not entrench on the power of the other.
"Resolved, that in the election of a President and Vice-President of the United States the will of the people, as expressed at the ballot box, according to the Constitution and the laws, should be faithfully and honestly carried out and maintained by all the people, irrespective of party.
"Resolved, that in our candid judgment, Tilden and Hendricks have been constitutionally and lawfully elected President and Vice-President of the United States by a popular majority of 241,022 and will be so declared by a majority of the electors of the United States, who were honestly elected, if permitted to cast their ballots, and that the honest and intelligent masses of the people will meet on their inauguration, and we denounce all attempts, whether made by illegal returning boards, the Senate of the President of the United States, to usurp power by overriding the will of the people, by fraud or force, and we demand of the Senate and House of Representatives that they see to it that no mere technicality, fraud or force shall annul the verdict of the people.
"Resolved, that whoever is elected President and Vice-President, according to the Constitution and the laws, ought to be inaugurated and recognized as such by the people, irrespective of party.
"Resolved, that we denounce the use of the army to control elections, or to intimidate voters, or to interfere with the legislatures of any of the states, in their organization or otherwise; and that President Grant, by making such illegal and unconstitutional use of the army of the United States, deserved impeachment and deposition from office.
"Resolved, that Grant and his office-holders are not the government of the United States, but simply office holders under the government, liable to displacement, according to the Constitution and laws.
"Resolved, that while we demand of our representatives in the Congress of the United States that they stand by the rights of the people, as expressed by the Constitution and laws, as against fraud, usurpation, intimidation and violence, we pledge ourselves that we will stand by them in all their constitutional and legal acts.
"Resolved, that we demand of Congress that they adhere to the uniform practice of the government in counting the electoral votes for President and Vice-President, and that we denounce the arrogant and unconstitutional assumption that the president of the Senate has the sole power to count the electoral votes."
In the campaign of 1878 the Republicans were again active in the organization of young men's clubs. The club at Greenfield elected the following officers: President, War Barnett; secretary, Newton L. Wray; treasurer, Adams L. Ogg. Thirty-five young men enrolled in the club on the evening of its organization and a number of names were added to it later.
In the campaign of 1880 the Democrats in the county were especially active. Ephraim Marsh was the chairman and William Ward Cook, secretary, of the Democratic county central committee.
On September 23, 1880, the Democratic ladies of Greenfield presented to the Democracy of the city and Center township a beautiful silk flag. The ladies who headed this presentation were Mrs. Charles Downing, Mrs. Capt. M. L. Paullus and Mrs. John F. Mitchell. At seven o'clock on that evening there was a torchlight procession. The Greenfield band marched to the residence of Capt. M. L. Paullus and escorted the speakers, ladies and Glee Club to the court house square, where it was estimated that five thousand people had assembled. The flag was presented with the following program:
On September 15, 1880, Gen. Franz Sigel spoke at New Palestine, much to the delight of the German population. Ernest H. Faut was instrumental in having him brought into the county. Gabriel Schmuck also addressed the German in their native tongue on that occasion. About one thousand and five hundred people were present to hear these addresses.
The campaign was also characterized by one of the greatest Democratic rallies at Greenfield in the history of the county. The following was the order of the march, as taken from the columns of the Hancock Democrat:
In 1884, Andrew Hagans was the chairman of the Democratic county central committee. Henry Snow was the chairman of the Republican county central committee. In the report of the Republican county convention held February 16, 1884, the following names are prominent: Henry Snow, R. A. Black, John W. Jones, Capt. Thomas B. Noel, Senator Yancey, Cyrus T. Nixon, Oscar F. Meek, Samuel B. Hill, Henry Marsh, Thomas F. Bentley, John T. Duncan, John C. Eastes, William O. Bradley, A. N. Rhue, James L. Mitchell, J. H. McKown, Charles H. Rock, David Dove, S. Burk, Albert G. Jackson, M. M. Vail, George V. Sowerwine.
An incident of the campaign of 1884 was the dissatisfaction of Capt. Adams L. Ogg, who had been a very energetic worker in the local organization of the Republican party, with the Republican candidate, James G. Blaine. In a published interview, Captain Ogg gave his reasons for not supporting Blaine. A short time after the publication of this interview the Cleveland and Hendricks clubs of the county held a meeting at the city of Greenfield. Among the other matters that were transacted by the clubs, a resolution was adopted, inviting the Captain to address the people of the county on the political issues of the hour. The chairman then appointed a committee to wait upon the Captain and present these matters to him. This the committee did in the following written statement:
"To Capt. Adams L. Ogg:
At a stated meeting of the Cleveland and Hendricks Clubs of this county held in the city of Greenfield, the following resolutions were unanimously passed:
"Resolved, that it is the wish of these clubs that Capt. Adams L. Ogg be invited to address the people of their county, in the city of Greenfield, at as early a date as is to him convenient, on the political issues of the hour; and that a committee of three be delegated by the chair to wait upon him, bearing him this resolution and learning his pleasure in that behalf.
The chair thereupon appointed the following named persons to that committee: James A. New, Hon. J. L. Mason and Ephraim Marsh.
And now the above named committeemen submit you the aforesaid resolution and most cordially invite you to address our people from a political standpoint at your earliest date, and trust you will accept the invitation.
James A. New
James L. Mason
The Captain replied in the following letter:
"Messrs. James A. New, J. L. Mason and Ephraim Marsh:
My dear Sirs-Your communication at hand in which you convey to me the formal
invitation of the Cleveland and Hendricks Clubs of the county, that I shall at
earliest convenience, address the people of Greenfield on the pending political
issues, etc. Permit me, through you, to thank the gentlemen for this flattering
request. I accept you invitation, but regret that business engagements in a
neighboring state compel my absence for an indefinite period (I hope not to
exceed five or eight days); renders it unsafe to fix an earlier time that
Saturday evening, October 11, at which time, or at a later day, if more
agreeable to you, I will be pleased to speak. My whole heart is enlisted on
behalf of an intelligent, free and fearless expression of all the voters at the
Dates were fixed for speakings at different points in the county, and Captain Ogg appeared upon the various platforms with other Democratic speakers in support of Grover Cleveland. He remained an ardent Democrat during the remainder of his life.
Following the Democratic victory in 1884, the administration appointed Albert L. New as register in the United States land office at Evanston, Wyoming, and, later, as United States collector of internal revenue for the District of Colorado and Wyoming, with his office at Denver, Colorado.
While in Wyoming Mr. New served as chairman of the Democratic state central committee, and had his name presented to the Legislature as a candidate for United States senator. The Legislature balloted twenty-nine days and Mr. New lacked but one vote of an election. The Legislature finally adjourned its session without electing anyone.
During the summer of 1886 the following tickets were nominated by the respective party conventions, each candidate receiving the number of votes indicated:
Clerk- Charles Downing, Democrat, 1,906; R. A. Black, Republican, 1,1991.
Sheriff-U. S. Jackson, Democrat, 2,108; Thomas E. Niles, Republican, 1,843.
Auditor-James Mannix, Democrat, 1,960; James L. Mitchell, Republican, 1,966.
Treasurer-Charles H. Fort, Democrat, 2,134; Robert B. Binford, Republican, 1,826.
Recorder-Ira Collins, Democrat, 1,783; Henry Snow, Republican, 2,001.
Surveyor-W. S. Fries, Democrat, 1,753; John H. Landis, Republican, 2,130.
James Mannix was dissatisfied with this count of the votes and took steps to contest the election. The Hancock circuit court appointed J. Ward Walker, John E. Dye and John A. Craft, commissioners to recount the votes. The recount gave Mannix 1,966 votes and Mitchell 1,957, whereupon Mitchell appealed from the recount to the board of commissioners of Hancock county. After a hearing the board found for Mannix, and Mitchell appealed to the Hancock circuit court. The chief question connected with the contest arose for the count of the votes in one of the precincts of Green township, in which Henry B. Wilson was inspector. The question involved in the contest was whether the ballots had been tampered with or whether the clerks of the board in Green township had failed to keep a correct tally. The case was venued to Newcastle, where, in June, 1887, an agreement or a compromise was made between Mannix and Mitchell, in which Mitchell agreed to pay Mannix one thousand two hundred and fifty dollars. In consideration thereof, Mitchell was to take the office after November 1, 1887. When this agreement became known to the people of the county, it was very unsatisfactory to both Republicans and Democrats. There was a general feeling that the case should have been tried and decided on its merits; that whichever of the candidates had received the majority of the votes should have had the office, and that it should have been settled in no other manner.
On November 1, 1887, Mannix, however, refused to give up the office, whereupon Mitchell brought a suit for possession in the Hancock circuit court. This case was venued to Henry county, and Judge Comstock, of Richmond, was appointed special judge. Mannix in his answer to Mitchell's complaint alleged "that on or about the 18th day of June, 1887, and while the appeal involving the contest for the office was pending in the Hancock circuit court, the relator's attorneys entered into a negotiation with him, the said Mannix, and his attorneys concerning such contest; that it was finally agreed between the parties that the relator (Mitchell) should pay to him, said Mannix, the sum of one thousand two hundred fifty dollars, in consideration of which the latter's right to the office in contest, including the right to hold the same, to discharge its duties and to receive the emoluments thereof, should be transferred to, and recognized as existing in the relator; that the relator thereupon paid to him, the said Mannix, the sum of one thousand two hundred and fifty dollars, after which the judgment declaring the relator to have been duly elected as above stated, being the same judgment described in the alternative writ of mandate, was entered as by agreement of the parties; that such judgment was, therefore, procured to be entered by the relator (Mitchell) in pursuance of such fraudulent agreement and by the payment of the sum of money named, and for no other reason; that said agreement for the sale and transfer of said office of county auditor was not only against public policy, but was also corrupt, fraudulent and void, as between the parties thereto, as well as to all other persons, and that hence, he, the said Mannix, was not bound or concluded by the judgment rendered thereon, nor was the relator, therefore, lawfully adjudicated to be entitled to hold said office."
The supreme court decided the matter in favor of Mitchell, holding that "the rule that the courts will not aid in the enforcement of a corrupt or unlawful contract, but will leave the parties where they have placed themselves, has no application to a judgment which by inadvertence or collusion may have been rendered upon such a contract, but such contract stands upon the same footing as any other judgment, and is binding while it remains in force." (Mannix vs. the State ex rel, Mitchell, 115 Ind 245.)
It will be observed that in this election the Democrats lost the offices of clerk, auditor, recorder and surveyor. There may have been several reasons for this. A sentiment was growing in the county that no person should hold a four-year county office for more than one term. On the Democratic ticket, Ira Collins, recorder; Charles Downing, clerk, and James Mannix, auditor, had each served a term of four years and were candidates for reelection. W. S. Fries had served a term of two years as surveyor and was a candidate for reelection. On the other hand, R. A. Black, the Republican candidate for clerk, was an able attorney and well known throughout the county. Henry Snow was generally acquainted over the county and was very popular with the people. All of these conditions, and likely others, operated to produce the partial defeat of the Democratic party in that election.
The Prohibition party also effected a county organization in 1886. I. N. Hunt was elected chairman of the county central committee, and R. M. Julian, secretary. A county ticket was nominated, which polled approximately fifty-six votes in that election. The party polled from sixty-five to seventy-five votes for several years. In more recent years its candidates have been receiving from ninety to one hundred and twenty votes and a few have received as high as one hundred and seventy votes.
In 1888 R. M. Julian, secretary of the Prohibition county central committee, inserted the following sentence in his official notice, published in the local papers: "We hereby give notice that the Prohibition party in Hancock county has come to stay." To this time the party has stayed and in the greater number of conventions had had a county ticket or at least a partial ticket in the field.
During the summer of 1888 Ephraim Marsh was selected as a member of the state Democratic central committee, upon which he served for several years.
The summer of 1892 witnessed the organization of the Populist, or People's party, in Hancock county. Coleman Pope was chosen chairman of the county central committee and their county ticket received approximately three hundred votes in the election of 1892. In the election of 1894 the ticket received approximately two hundred votes; in 1896, one hundred and ten votes; and in 1898, which was its last county ticket, thirty votes.
In 1890 Farmers' Mutual Benefit Associations had become pretty strongly organized in the county. Though not a political organization, it was an organization, in a measure, like the "Grangers," of which candidates were careful to take notice. In that year a report was circulated in the southern part of the county that Lawrence Boring, who was then a candidate for county auditor, was not in sympathy with the order. Mr. Boring felt it worth while to issue a very explicit statement through the columns of the local press, denying these charges. On May 7, 1892, the county assembly of the order adopted the following resolution in relation to the association's attitude toward politics:
"Resolved, that we, the county assembly of the Hancock Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association, do hereby agree that we as a body are a non-political organization, and declare ourselves not pledged to support any political party or faction as a body and that said resolution be published in the Hancock Democrat.
J. H. White, President,
Morgan Tyner, Secretary."
Following the nomination of William Jennings Bryan at Chicago in 1896, the Democracy of the county rallied enthusiastically to his support. Stokes Jackson was a delegate to the national Democratic convention and was also a member of the notification committee that brought to Mr. Bryan the news that he had been nominated for the Presidency by the Democratic party. No party in the county has ever given any candidate a more enthusiastic and more loyal support than the Democracy of the county has given to Mr. Bryan in each of his campaigns.
The Democrats of the county were thoroughly imbued with the idea of free silver and on June 6, 1896, just a few days prior to the Center township Democratic convention, copies of the following notice were sent to practically all of the Democratic voters of the township:
All the Democratic township conventions adopted resolutions during the summer of 1896 in favor of the free and unlimited coinage of silver, and the defeat of Mr. Bryan at the polls did not shake the faith of the county. "Sixteen to one" was affectionately remembered for many years and the "peerless leader" remained the idol of the party. Through the influence of Mr. Jackson, Mr. Bryan was brought to Greenfield on July 27, 1899. Great preparations were made for his reception. The city was decorated, a large cannon was procured and it seemed that the entire county turned out en masse to hear him. He spoke at the fair ground and it was estimated that twenty thousand people were present to hear the address. On June 22, 1903, Mr. Bryan again made two addresses at Greenfield, one on the east side of the court house and another at the opera house. On October 3, 1906, he spoke at Fortville and then, with a party, came to Greenfield by automobile. The city was again decorated and an immense throng filled the streets on the east side of the court house to hear him. It was most like true that Mr. Bryan has not had a more loyal county in the United States than Hancock.
A few Democrats in the county, including Ephraim Marsh, Judge Offutt and E. H. Faut were opposed to Mr. Bryan's theory of "free silver" and supported the national Gold Democrat ticket. This ticket, however, polled only fifteen votes in the county, of which one was in Brandywine, eight in Center, four in Sugar Creek and two in Vernon.
Since 1896 several of the leading men in both political parties of the county have received recognition for their political services. In 1898 Stokes Jackson was chosen Democratic chairman of the Sixth Congressional district. In 1910 he was selected as chairman of the Democratic state central committee, and in 1911 was appointed sergeant-at-arms in the Lower House of Congress.
In 1902 Col. E. P. Thayer was selected as Republican chairman of the Sixth Congressional district, and at the Republican national conventions held in 1908 and 1912 he was honored with the appointment as first assistant sergeant-at-arms in the conventions. Colonel Thayer has been active in the Republican party, both in this count and in the state, for a number of years. With the exception of his candidacy for the office of county auditor in 1898, in which he reduced the Democratic majority of his opponent to one hundred and sixty-nine votes, he has never asked for political preferment either at the hands of the voters of the county or by appointment from the national administration. No doubt the popularity of Colonel Thayer with his party has been in large measure due to this unselfish service.
In 1910 Edward W. Felt, who had been honored with several elections in his own county, was elected to the appellate bench of the state.
In 1910 two contests arose over the result of the Democratic primary nominating convention. This convention was held on February 5. Harry Strickland and Chalmer Schlosser were opposing candidates for representative, and James E. Sample and John T. Rash for county recorder. The count of the votes showed that Strickland had received 1,020 and Schlosser, 1,009; that Sample had received 1,207, Rash, 1,123. The county gave Strickland a majority of 11 for representative, and Sample a majority of 84 for county recorder. This result was declared on February 7, 1910. Schlosser and Rash were dissatisfied with the count in as far as it related to their respective candidacies and within about a week after the nomination each filed his petition in the Hancock circuit court, asking for a recount of the votes, alleging that he believed that there had been a mistake in the count. All the candidates, the Democratic central committee, and the election commissioners were made defendants in the actions. The convention had been held on the Australian plan, but not strictly in accordance with any statue. For this reason the court held that it lacked jurisdiction. The cases were not appealed to any higher tribunal, but were dismissed following this decision.
The relative strength of the political parties in the county for twenty years prior to 1912 is shown by the following table, which gives the approximate number of votes poled by each ticket at the elections indicated:
The schism that occurred in the national Republican convention at Chicago in 1912 was carried to the ranks of the party in Hancock county. Thomas I. Morgan, treasurer of the Republican central committee, and John Rosser, secretary, both resigned and took their places in the alignment of the new Progressive party. Other members of the Republican county central committee resigned and threw their political fortunes with the new party. But these things were mere indications of the discontent that prevailed within the ranks of the Republican party itself. There was a general withdrawal from the party, and at the following election only a minority of the party was left to vote the Republican ticket. Progressive township organizations were effected on August 9, 1913, a Progressive county convention was held and a county organization effected, with Carl Rock, of Greenfield, as chairman of the central committee. In the report of this county convention the following names were prominent: Carl Rock, Alvin Johnson, Gus Stuart, James Furgason, James F. Reed, Sherman Rothermal, Irwin Barnard, James L. Vail, Capt. Henry Snow, Charles McKensie, Robert Oldham, Joseph P. Reeves, John Henry Gates, Abram C. Pilkenton, H. E. Leech.
In the election that followed five tickets were in the field. The relative strength of the three strongest is indicated below:
Judge – Earl Sample, Democratic, 2,375; Eldon Robb, Republican, 617; James F.
Reed, Progressive, 1,508.
Representative-Robert F. Reeves, Democratic, 2,533; George W. Gates, Republican, 698; Elwood Barnard, Progressive, 1,265.
Treasurer-Allen F. Cooper, Democratic, 2,568; John Hittle, Republican, 676; John H. Gates, Progressive, 1,176.
Sheriff-Mack Warrum, Democratic, 2,393; James W. Hiday, Republican, 819; James L. Vail, Progressive, 1,290.
Coroner-Earl Gibbs, Democratic, 2,564; W. R. Johnson, Republican, 693; Ernest R. Sisson, Progressive, 1,265.
Surveyor-G. C. Winslow, Democratic, 2,651; Albert C. Atherton, Republican, 710.
Commissioner, Eastern District-J. H. Bussell, Democratic, 2,543; Franklin L. Bridges, Republican, 701; John W. Reeves, Progressive, 1,232.
John F. Wiggins, the Socialist candidate for judge, received 184 votes.
IN 1914, however, the ratio of votes had changed:
In the ranks of the Democracy of the county today are many men whose faces have been familiar in the party's councils, and whose judgments have directed the local policies of the party through many years and through many battles. We cannot mention all of them, but no picture of a general Democratic meeting of this day at the county seat would be complete without the faces of Elbert Tyner, John Hayes Duncan, Michael Quigley, George W. Ham, John E. Dye, William Elsbury, Isom Wright, August Dennis, Horace Wickard, John Manche, George Crider, Charles Barr, William H. Thompson, Matthew L. Frank, William A. Woods and others.
With these men who have labored through the years and who have borne the burden and the heat of the day, stand also the men of the middle age and the younger men, who are giving of their time and energy that its banner may not trail in the dust. Among the faces that are very familiar we see our Judge Earl Sample, John F. Eagan, John B. Hinchman, William A. Service, Samuel J. Offutt, Edward W. Pratt, Jonas Walker, Charles L. Tindall, Robert L. Mason, Edwin T. Glascock, Charles Cook, Arthur Van Duyn, John A. Anderson, Sherman Smith, Lemuel Moore, George Matlock, Thomas Hope, Charles Scott, Louis H. Merlau, William G. Lantz, John F. Shelby, F. M. Sanford, Clint Caldwell, John Mooney, Quincy A. Wright, and many others.
But no picture of any general or business meeting of the Democracy at the county seat within the last quarter of a century would be complete if it omitted from the foreground the likeness of the genial secretary-who is practically always called to the table—Elmer T. Swope.
Among those who have remained loyal to the Republican standard through the storm and stress of many campaigns are such men as William R. Hough, John C. Eastes and others of their age. Among the younger men are Edwin P. Thayer, who has been mentioned above; William A. Hough, who has been favorably mentioned as a candidate for Congress; Newton R. Spencer, editor of the Greenfield Republican; Ora Myers, Dr. C. K. Bruner, Dr. L. B. Griffin, George W. Duncan, J. P. Black, W. R. McKown, W. R. King, James McDaniels, Henry Nichols. R. F. Cook, George W. Gates, Eldon A. Robb, James W. Hiday, John Little, W. C. Atherton, William P. Bidgood, William F. Thomas, John S. Souder, James Garrett, William G. White, W. R. Johnston, Morgan Andrick, Charles Gately, I. A. May, John Corocoran, H. Ward Walker, Frank Cook, Morton Allender, Charles Vetters, A. H. Thomas, William T. Orr, Frank McCray, C. M. Eastes, W. E. Scotten, John E. Barrett, C. M. Jackson, Charles H. Kirkhoff, Ed C. Huntington, James H. Kimberlin, A. R. Ayres and others who have been active in different parts of the county.
Among those who revolted from the tyranny of party machinery that was thought to be crushing the individual under its weight; who preferred new standards and new ideals, and who led in the organization of the county under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt, should be mentioned, James F. Reed, J. P. Reeves, Claude Woods, Walter Woods, H. H. Spangler, Edward Williams, Pearl Alexander, Elwood Barnard, Irvin Barnard, Sherman Rothermel, John Mugg, James Webb, G. E. Stuart, M. S. Walker, Thomas Dillman, Walter Eastes, Frank Hanes, Dr. Lucian Ely, Grant Krammes, Ralph Logan, O. J. Coffin, James Lindamood, William Hawkins, Barclay Binford, Frank E. Rock, Thomas E. Niles, R. O. N. Oldham, A. C. Pilkenton, Carl S. Rock, Marvin Fletcher, Homer Smith. W. W. McCole, Thomas I. Morgan, Alvin Johnson and H. T. Roberts.
For a number of years past a sentiment has been developing in the county that men elected to a four-year term of office should not be reelected. Since the partial defeat of the Democratic ticket in 1886, but two men, Lawrence Boring and James Thomas, have held more than one term of an elective four-year office. No other candidates have even succeeded in getting a second nomination, although several efforts have been made.
Viewing the county by townships, Blue River has always been strongly Republican. Since the enactment of the law creating the township trustee's office in 1859, Blue River has elected but two Democratic township trustees, James P. New, in 1863, and Harry L. Fletcher, in 1914. Jackson township has also been Republican, yet on several occasions Democratic township trustees have been elected. All of the other townships have been counted in the Democratic column, although all of them, with the exception of Brandywine, have at different times elected Republican township trustees. Brandywine alone has had an unbroken line of Democratic township trustees since the law was enacted in 1859.
It is impossible at this time to procure the names of the officers of the various political organizations prior to 1860. The following, however, is a list of the chairmen of the different political parties in the county since 1860, as far as it has been possible to make the same complete:
|1860-J.A. Hall||James P. Foley|
|1861-Benjamin F. Caldwell||James P. Foley|
|1866-John W. Ryon|
|1867-Alfred Potts||L. W. Gooding|
|1868-M. L. Paullus||Nelson Bradley|
|1870-William Frost||N. P. Howard|
|1874-George Barnett||W. C. Burdett|
|1876-George Barnett||W. C. Burdett|
|1878-Morgan Chandler||Henry Snow|
|1880-Ephraim Marsh||Henry Snow|
|1882-Ephraim Marsh||Henry Snow|
|1884-Andrew Hagan||Henry Snow|
|1886-Andrew Hagan||Samuel A. Wray|
|1888-U. W. Jackson||R. A. Black|
|1890-U. W. Jackson||Dr. W. R. King|
|1892-I. A. Curry||Dr. W. R. King|
|1894-E. W. Felt||W. P. Bidgood|
|1896-George W. Ham||Newton R. Spencer|
|1898-E. W. Felt||Elmer J. Binford|
|1900-Charles J. Richman||Newton R. Spencer|
|1902-George Crider||Edwin P. Thayer, Arthur H. Thomas|
|1904-H. D. Barrett||Walter Bridges|
|1906-Lawrence Wood||W. H. H. Rock|
|1908-Lawrence Wood||W. H. H. Rock|
|1910-Richard Hagan||James F. Reed|
|1912-William Service||Ora Myers|
|1914-Thomas Seaman||William F. Thomas|
|1916-Rosecrans L. Ogg||Eldon Robb|
|1862-William Frost||1866-George Barnett|
|1864-N. P. Howard|
|1866-Pennel Bidgood||Liberal Republican|
|National or Greenback|
|1886-I. N. Hunt|
|1888-R. M. Julian|
|1890-R. M. Julian|
|1892-Benton L. Barrett|
|1894-R. M. Julian|
|1896-R. M. Julian|
|1898-A. H. Hunt|
|1900-A. H. Hunt|
|1902-Benjamin J. Binford|
|1904-Benjamin J. Binford|
|1906-Benton L. Barrett|
|1908-J. W. Harvey|
|1910-J. W. Harvey|
|1912-J. M. Pogue, Rev. J. S. Clawson|
|1914-Rev. J. S. Clawson|
|1894-Thomas H. Bentley|
|1896-Samuel R. Walker|
|1912-John F. Wiggins|
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Pages 356-392.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI March 15, 2002.
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|Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / email@example.com|