Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ezekiel Stanford Farmer (1843-1923)

Like many pioneering Indiana farm families, the Farmers came north for the promise of new, uncultivated lands in the emerging Indiana Territory. When Fleming Farmer, born 20 November 1807 in South Carolina, was just a small boy, his father Ezekiel moved the family to Indiana Territory. At that time, southern Indiana was a wilderness roamed by buffalo and Native Americans, where white settlers built log fortresses, called block houses, where they could seek refuge from attack. This was the wilderness where Ezekiel Farmer, grandfather of this subject, made his home in the woods between Princeton and Columbia City (later Oakland City). I don't know what brought them north other than the prospect of rich farmlands watered by the creeks that emptied into the nearby Patoka River. The precise date is unknown, but we can assume it was before Indiana's statehood in 1816. This was the area that would become Gibson County.

Elia Wilkinson Peattie, an American historian, wrote a bio of this subject in 1897. Her contemporary and Princeton newspaper man, Gil R. Stormont, mentions the family in his history of the county, published in 1914. Stormont mentions Fleming Farmer as an early settler of the area north of Francisco, IN, in the 1850's. Of course, Francisco was not yet platted, nor was Center Township, at that early date. Francisco became a town when the Eerie & Wabash Canal came through the center of Gibson County in the 1850's. Center Township would be carved out of eastern Patoka and western Columbia Townships in 1880. From U.S. Census records, we know that Fleming was counted among the male farmers of then Columbia Township in 1840. That area between what would become Francisco and the Patoka River, to the north, is where Fleming would marry and raise a family. The first Mrs. Fleming Farmer was my 5th Great Aunt Polly Stapleton (1810-1879), a native of Tennessee, who's father was engaged in the Battle of Tippecanoe and was also an early Gibson County settler from the south. Polly was born 7 May 1810 in Robertson County, TN, and brought to Indiana Territory in the first decade of the 19th century. Father Joshua Stapleton was also engaged as a private in the War of 1812 against the British. He began farming 160 acres 5 miles east of Princeton, according to Peattie. The families were located within 2 miles of each other, practically neighbors in wilderness times. Polly and Fleming were married 17 Dec 1832 in Gibson County. They had at least one son, and possibly a daughter, but their marriage did not last and she was not the mother of this subject. 

Fleming Farmer married a second time to Louvisa Woolsey-Clifford (1808-1879) of Edmonson County, KY, the daughter of William Hopkins Woolsey, of said county, and widow of AC Clifford, of Indiana. The Farmer-Clifford wedding occurred 1 May 1842 in nearby Pike County, IN (the county that borders Gibson to the northeast). To their union was born five children, including two sons. The youngest of their sons was the subject of this post, Ezekiel Stanford Farmer.

Born in central Gibson County 10 October 1843 and named for his paternal grandfather, young Ezekiel would join the Union Army before his 20's. As Peattie writes:
He had not yet attained his majority when responded to the President’s call for troops and joined the First Indiana Infantry under Colonel Baker. The regiment was attached to the command of General Steele and mustered in at Indianapolis. He first met the enemy at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and continued in active service in the southwest until honorably discharged at the close of the war at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas. He was four times wounded and still carries a rebel ball in his shoulder. Mr. Farmer arrived home July 4, 1865, and at once resumed agricultural pursuits, which he has since carried on in connection with stock dealing. For the past ten years he has been extensively engaged in shipping fat stock, and has made this a profitable source of income. He owns two farms near Francisco, aggregating three hundred and ninety-two acres, and a glance at these possessions will convince one of the industrious care of the owner. Mr. Farmer was married in August 1867 to Rosie B., daughter of William Stewart, of Fayette County, Indiana, and their home is blessed with the following children—Charles C., Fred S., Bertha C., William F., Oliver M. and Stewart. The family is one of prominence in the community, and the members of the household occupy a high position in social circles. (“History of Gibson County” as excerpted from a larger volume History of the United States, Indiana, and Gibson County, by Elia Wilkinson Peattie, 1897, Cook & McDowell Publications, pp. 120-21).

Ezekiel took to farming and stock raising in the same area of Gibson County where his father, Fleming, had established the family farm. We know from the 1881 Atlas of Gibson County, one of the first to layout the farms of newly created Center Township, that Ezekiel had two farms, one just west of Keg Creek near Patoka River northeast of Francisco. It sat right next to Thomas M. Harbison's farm. Ezekiel also had an 80-acre farm due north of Francisco in Section 18. On his farms he raised livestock and was a prominent Gibson County farmer, according to Peattie. She mentioned the "rebel ball" in his shoulder, well Ezekiel is listed on the Pensioners Roll for 1883, receiving $8/month for a gunshot wound to the shoulder (since September 1870). I also found mention that he served the town of Francisco as a medical doctor. His residence and office were on the east side of Main Cross Street behind the public school.

Ezekiel Stanford Farmer was united in marriage to Rousabell  Stewart (aka Rosa Bell, 1847-1902) on 14 August 1867 in Gibson County. She bore five sons--Charles, Fred, William, Oliver and Stewart--and one daughter, Bertha. The children were raised on the farm north of "Frisco." In 1888, just two years after the last child, Stewart, was born, Ezekiel was named Trustee of Center Township. He'd lose Rausabell in May 1902 to dysentery. She had been suffering from cancer and was buried in nearby Mead(e) Cemetery.

Two years later, he married the ex-wife of my 4th Great Uncle, Fannie King-Mills, who was also my 1st cousin (explained in notes below). Fannie married Ezekiel 9 June 1904 in Vanderburgh County, IN. Ezekiel was 61, Fannie was 45. The couple had no children together and the five children from her first marriage were all grown, the youngest being 20.

Ezekiel was a highly esteemed Mason and a staunch Republican. He died, aged 79, on 14 August 1923 (which would have been the day of his 56-year wedding anniversary to his first wife had she survived). He was laid to rest at Mead(e) Cemetery, located between his two farms in northeast Center Township. His widow, Fannie, filed for a widow's pension 23 August 1923. She died nine years later and was buried in Princeton's Odd Fellows Cemetery, the only Farmer to be buried there.

Upon Ezekiel's death, he split his vast acreage in Center Township between three surviving children--Bertha Taylor, Charles and Stewart Farmer--and three granddaughters (survivors of son Fred, who died in 1910), making allowance for his widow, Fannie, to remain on their 80-acre farm just north of Francisco.
Notes on my relation to second wife Frances Adelia "Fannie" King (1858-1932):
She was the daughter of my 4th Great Aunt and Uncle, Adelia (Mills) and Charles Daniel King, making her my first cousin, several times removed.

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