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April 30, 2022

First families to arrive in Marion County

James BlakeFirst off, it should be noted that Native Americans lived in the dense forests and marshlands of the land that became Marion County before any settlers of European heritage arrived. In particular, the Lenape tribe of Indians (called the Delaware by white settlers) had established villages in the central Indiana region.

Then other people began to filter into the wilderness of Marion County circa 1820. At some point in early 1819, a basket maker named Ute Perkins wandered through and built a cabin. He didn’t stay too long; historians say he felt lonely and isolated in the dark woods and left to settle in Rush County.

It’s still a matter of debate about which of two pioneers, John McCormick or George Pogue, arrived first in early 1820 in the area that eventually became the new city of Indianapolis. Both men had been living in Connersville, both built cabins where they lived with their families in the future Indianapolis site, and both have been credited with being the first permanent white settlers of the city. Pogue, a blacksmith, vanished without a trace in April 1821. By then, other pioneer families had come to the county that eventually would become the state’s most populous.

Steve BarmettMarion County historian Steve Barnett will be Nelson’s guest on this show to share insights about these “first families” of Marion County. Who were they, where did they come from and what did they do once they settled in the area?

Our show will take a broader look than some previous Hoosier History Live shows that have focused on specific historic individuals. For a show in 2013, our spotlight was on surveyor Alexander Ralston, who was hired to design the city of Indianapolis in 1821. In 2021, we explored the life of  Chaney Lively, Ralston’s housekeeper and clerk, who is considered to have been the first African American woman to live in Indianapolis. In 2019, Mike Todd, a descendant of the McCormicks, was our guest to discuss a ledger that his ancestor kept.

Because land was not offered for sale as city lots until 1821, our guest Steve Barnett and other historians have noted that those settlers who built cabins before then technically were squatters. In a column earlier this year in the Weekly View, a newspaper that serves the eastside of Indianapolis, Steve noted that a census taken in August 1820 recorded 327 families in the future Marion County.

Hervey BatesEarly settlers included Hervey Bates, who became the first sheriff in Marion County. But he may be best remembered for later constructing and owning the Bates House, a hotel where Abraham Lincoln stayed in 1861. Other early settlers in Marion County included James Blake, a dry goods store owner and Sunday school teacher who is credited with bringing the first piano to Indianapolis; James Ray, who became the county’s first clerk, and two doctors.

Ute Perkins, the basket maker who preceded all of them, followed a trail that later became Brookville Road. According to our guest Steve Barnett’s column, Perkins briefly stopped at a Lenape village. Hoosier History Live explored the Lenape heritage in Indiana on a show in 2014.

The cabins that McCormick and Pogue built for their families were not next to each other. A boulder with a commemorative plaque marks the site of McCormick’s cabin in what is now White River State Park. Pogue’s cabin was on the bank of the creek that was named Pogue’s Run after his mysterious disappearance. According to folklore, Pogue had left his cabin to search for his horses, which were missing. “He was never seen again and was presumed to have met with foul play”, Steve Barnett noted in his column.

Steve, who is executive director of the Irvington Historical Society, has been a guest on several of our previous shows. They include a show in 2021 about early nicknames for Indianapolis and its neighborhoods.

Roadtrip: Abbott’s Candies in Hagerstown

Abbotts Candy

Guest Roadtripper Sarah Halter, Executive Director of the Indiana Medical History Museum in Indianapolis, suggests a sweet trip to the oldest candy store still in operation in Indiana. It’s Abbott’s Candies in Hagerstown, still going strong since 1890.

Abbott’s is famous for its handmade caramels and chocolates, which visitors can watch being made in the store area, and the recipes have not changed. The caramels are still cooked in copper pots over an open flame and then sliced and hand wrapped by hand, using the recipes of founder W.C. Abbott.

If you don’t want to drive to Hagerstown, Abbott’s can also be found on the northside of Indianapolis in Clearwater Shoppes.

Pandemic allows artist to pursue calling

Pamela Fraizer of Fraizer Designs has been Hoosier History Live’s graphic designer since our show’s inception. But the downturn of business during the pandemic created opportunity and allowed Pam the time to pursue her dream of creating and exhibiting collections of original themed portraits. Her first collection is entitled “Legends of Starr-Gennett Studios” and features portraits of the musical pioneers of Richmond, Indiana’s historic recording studio.

Pam Fraizer Bombshells

Her second collection is entitled “Bombshells” was originally a commission for a portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and later developed into a collection of portraits of influential women who lived, as Pam says, “with intent and purpose”. She has exhibited “Bombshells” at Robert Goodman Jewelers in Zionsville and at the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond. Pam is presenting a one-woman show on July 29 from 6  to 8 p.m. at the Union City Arts Depot at 115 N. Howard Street in Union City, Indiana.

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Nelson Price, host and historian
Molly Head, producer/general manager, (317) 506-7164 
Ryan DeRome, associate producer

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Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, consultant


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