Wayne County Biographies

Part of the Indiana Biographies Project

Hiram C. Elwell

This well known citizen is a leading and representative agriculturist of Washington township, Wayne county, where he was born October 11, 1843, and was reared in about the usual manner of farmer boys of his day, his education being obtained in the common schools. His parents, Eli and Elizabeth (De Camp) Elwell, were both natives of New York, the former born in Dutchess county, September 1, 1789, the latter born in Onondaga county, May 3, 1804. She came with her parents to Indiana and located near Brookville. Later her father, Richard De Camp, moved from Franklin county to Wayne county, where he remained a number of years but spent his last days in St. Joseph county. He was a representative of a prominent New England family, was broadminded and liberal in his views, and was a farmer by occupation. His children were Charles, Israel, Harry, Elizabeth, Mrs. Harriet Jeffries, Mrs. Christiana Kidd and Mrs. Olive Redfield.

Eli Elwell, father of our subject, was reared on a farm and received a good collegiate education, which he put to practical use as a teacher. Leaving his native state he went to Virginia in a carry-all, and after teaching school there for a time he proceeded to Ohio, where he had an uncle living. From there he came in his carry-all to Wayne county, Indiana, and purchased eighty acres of land, on which a two-story log house had been built, an orchard set out and a few other improvements made. He taught one term of school here, but gave the greater part of his time and attention to agricultural pursuits, in which he met with excellent success, becoming the owner of two hundred and fifty-six acres in the home farm, besides lands in Rush, Boone and Madison counties. He loaned money for many years and speculated extensively in notes and securities. After giving each of his children a home and helping them in other ways, he left at his death an estate valued at forty-five thousand dollars. Retiring from active labor in 1866, he removed to Milton, where he purchased a pleasant home and there spent the remainder of his days, dying March 4, 1875. His estimable wife survived him for some time and passed away in 1887. Politically he was a stanch Whig and later a Republican, but he never aspired to office, preferring to give his undivided attention to his business interests. However, he served as one of the three trustees of his township in early days and filled other local offices. In business affairs he was systematic and methodical, and as a civil engineer in laying out land for any purpose he always made a plat of it. He was a Universalist in religious faith, and was one of the most prominent and influential men of his community. His children were as follows: Mrs. Olive Williams; Mrs. Emma E. Marvin, who died June 18, 1899; Mrs. Hulda Murphy; Laura, who married F. Ferguson, now of Kansas, and died leaving two children; Horace, a prominent farmer of Rush county, Indiana; Mrs. Savanna Miller; and Hiram C., our subject.

Hiram C. Elwell assisted his father in the operation of the home farm during his boyhood and youth and remained at his parental home until his marriage in 1866. Two years of his married life was spent upon that farm, and at the end of that time he erected a house upon a tract of ninety-six acres given him by his father. To it he has since added until he now has a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres; the log cabin has been replaced by a large and substantial two-story frame residence; good barns and outbuildings have also been erected, and he has successfully engaged in both farming and stock-raising. His pleasant home is situated four miles south of Milton and is one of the most desirable farms of the locality. Upon an adjoining tract which he purchased has been built a complete set of farm buildings, and this place is now occupied by his son. In political sentiment he is a stalwart Democrat.

In 1866 Mr. Elwell married Miss Julia Patterson, a daughter of John and Delilah (Beeson) Patterson. When young her father came to Indiana, where he grew to manhood, and for some years he was engaged in farming in Fayette county, where all his children by his first wife were born. Later he bought a fine farm in Shelby county, and, on disposing of that place, he removed to Tipton county, where he owned six or eight hundred acres of land. At one time he was prosperous, but by endorsing the note of a porkpacker he lost heavily and this greatly reduced his estate. He was a strong Democrat in politics and a very prominent man in his community. He died in October, 1870, and the mother of Mrs. Elwell passed away in Fayette county in 1850. To them were born six children, named as follows: Mrs. Elmira Lowery, deceased; Benjamin, deceased; Julia, wife of our subject; Jefferson C., now a resident of Greenfield, Indiana; Mrs. Jane Brattain, and Mrs. Letitia Cass, a widow, now a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. For his second wife Mr. Patterson wedded Miss Mary J. Legg, a daughter of Thomas Legg, of Fayette county, and to them were born four children: John M., H. Woodford, William and Mrs. Laura Brantal, of Tipton county. The second wife died eight months after his death. He was a genial, pleasant gentleman and an entertaining companion, was public-spirited and enterprising, and believed in always keeping abreast of the times.

To Mr. and Mrs. Elwell were born two children, but the elder, Frank V., died young. Wilbur, born April 27, 1868, is now engaged in farming on a portion of the homestead. He married Miss Catherine Thompson, a daughter of Miles Thompson, a farmer of Fayette county, and to them have been born two children: Marie, who is now attending school, and Glenn, at home.

Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties, Indiana, Volume 1, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1899