Hollis B. Thayer

In the memorial annals of Hancock county there are few names held in more grateful remembrance than that of the late Hollis B. Thayer, who for many years was one of the most active and influential figures in the commercial and social life of Greenfield. No less distinctly outlined in the memory of the passing generation hereabout is the figure of the late Andrew T. Hart, former county treasurer and for many years one of Greenfield's leading merchants, father-in-law of Mr. Thayer; these two strong men having been for years associated together in business in Greenfield, after the death of Mr. Hart the business being continued by Mr. Thayer until the latter's death. Mr. Thayer's widow, daughter of Mr. Hart, is still living at Greenfield, where she has a very pleasant home and where she enjoys many evidences of the high esteem in which she is held throughout the entire community.

Hollis B. Thayer was a native of New Hampshire, born in the town of Keene, that state, September 24, 1833. When twenty years old he came into Indiana with the construction crew of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, at that time building the road through the eastern part of this state, and while thus engaged received his introduction to the town of Greenfield. Starting in as a common laborer in the railroad work, Mr. Thayer presently became superintendent of one of the departments of construction and was thus engaged until 1869, two years after his marriage. He then formed a partnership with his father-in-law, Andrew T. Hart, in the general merchandise business at Greenfield, this mutually agreeable connection continuing until the death of Mr. Hart in 1888, after which Mr. Thayer continued the business as sole proprietor until his death on February 21, 1904, he then being seventy years of age. During his long connection with the commercial life of Greenfield and Hancock county, Hollis B. Thayer impressed his personality strongly upon this community. He was successful in his business, his diligence and enterprise having been duly rewarded, and at the time of his death was the owner of considerable valuable real estate in Greenfield. Mr. Thayer was a Republican and ever took a personal interest in measures looking to the perpetuation of good government, but never was included in the office-seeking class.

It was on April 5, 1858, at Greenfield, that Hollis B. Thayer was united in marriage to Permelia Hart, who was born in Greenfield in December 5, 1839, daughter of Andrew T. and Gabriellla (Sebastian) Hart, who were among the early residents of that city. Andrew T. Hart was a Virginian, born on July 7, 1811, who came to Indiana in an early day in the settlement of this section of the state and became, as noted above, one of the most energetic and influential citizens of Greenfield. Mr. Hart was twice married, his first wife, who was a Mrs. Folander, having died about two years after their marriage. He then married secondly, Gabriella Sebastian, who was born in Kentucky on February 8, 1816, and who had come into Indiana with her parents, William Sebastian and wife, native of Kentucky, the family locating in the then hamlet of Greenfield about 1830. William Sebastian entered a claim to a quarter of a section of "Congress land" in that neighborhood and was one of the real pioneers of Greenfield, in which place he for years conducted a tavern, during the old stage-coach days. He also operated a pioneer blacksmith shop and for years was postmaster of the village. Andrew T. Hart became one of the early merchants of Greenfield and was very successful in business. After his daughter's marriage to Hollis B. Thayer he formed a partnership with the latter and that partnership was continued until his death in 1888, he then being seventy-seven years of age. Mr. Hart was a Republican and for years was one of the active leaders of that party in this county. For some years he served as county treasurer of Hancock county and in other ways rendered such services as he could in the public behalf. He and his wife were members of the Christian church and took a prominent part in good works in their day. Mrs. Hart survived her husband but two years, her death occurring in 1890, she then being seventy-fours years of age. They were the parents of six children, of whom Mrs. Thayer was the first born.

To Hollis B. and Permelia (Sebastian) Thayer two children were born, Millie, born June 30,1859, who died in her youth, and Edwin, born in December, 1864, who makes his home in Greenfield, though his chief business interests now are connected with a great irrigation project in Arizona. Edwin Thayer married Minnine Ridpath, who was born in Greencastle, this state, and to this union two children have been born, George, a mining engineer, who married Bessie Walker and is now living in Arizona, and Roxie, who married Luther O. Eldridge, of California, and has one child, a daughter, Jeanne. Though now nearing the four-score stage of her life, Mrs. Thayer is hale and hearty and takes a keen zest in current affairs. She for many years has been an active member of the Bradley Methodist Episcopal church and still takes a warm interest in that congregation's various activities. Mrs. Thayer is a charter member of the locally influential Hesperian Club and continues her active interest in that organization. She has traveled widely and has made wise use of her opportunities.

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 825-827.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI September 11, 2001.

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

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