Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Mysteries of Family History: Naming Names

My friends and family -- and anyone else who's been within ten feet of me for the last couple years -- know that my father and I have been researching events in our family history that happened in 1874-76 in Warren and Fountain counties, Indiana.  

Here's an abridged version of what we know so far: In August of 1874, near Independence/Attica, Tade Layden got into an altercation with another farmer named Daniel Driscoll, whose pigs had eaten some of Layden’s wheat. When Driscoll refused to pay what was owed, the men fought, and Layden, acting in self-defense, stabbed and killed Driscoll. Layden was tried in Covington in July 1875 and convicted of second-degree manslaughter. 

Less than a year into his prison sentence, in 1876, Governor Hendricks pardoned Layden: the defendent’s lawyer, Daniel Voorhees (who went on to become a U.S. Senator from 1877-1897), wrote a letter of support, and so did the prosecutor from the state of Indiana. 

Daniel Voorhees
Gov. Thomas Hendricks

The pardon packet also includes signatures from nine of the twelve jurors and the judge, along with a letter signed by community members, all supporting Layden’s pardon. 

Why the change of heart? That’s what we’re trying to learn. 

We’ve consulted libraries, newspapers, archives, genealogy societies, parish records, books, family stories, local historians, and more. Now we’re searching for people who might have had this story passed down to them somehow: either by oral tradition/storytelling, or in the form of documents like diaries, letters, notes, or clippings.

This list of names below shows people who signed in support of Tade Layden’s pardon. (He is also referred to by his full name, Timothy, and sometimes in the documents Layden is spelled Layton or Laydon.) 

Are you related to anyone on the list? (My son's kindergarten teacher is!) Have you heard anything about this event or story? We’d love to know about it. Please write, email, or call: Sarah Layden, IUPUI English Department, 425 University Boulevard, Indianapolis, IN 46202, 317-274-0089. My email is salayden (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Jurors who signed in support of the pardon

Zacariah Ferguson (Foreman of jurors)
Gaton Suttles
G W Glover (George W. Glover)
Nashville Adkins
Henry Cade
Frederick Hunt
John Bodine
H.H. Connelly
William Reichard
(Judge Thomas Davidson also signed)

Jurors who didn’t sign the letter: 
Amariah Elwell
William Werts
William Patton

Signatures of support from Fountain County citizens (a few guesses on the handwriting)

GW Boyd
E.N. Bowman, Clerk, F.C.
E.M. McDonald
S.F. Miller, Deputy Clerk, F.C.
William Yount, Recorder, F.C.
E. Nebeker (Enos H. Nebeker)
James McMannon
G.B. Brown
John G. Brown
Samuel F. Moore
Peter McMahon
D. Rawles (David Rawles)
D. Neff
William Lamb
John R. Miles
Chas. Lamb (Charles Lamb)
Ben Bilsland
Oliver Shelby
H.R. Claypool
Lewis Hanes, Auditor
Isaac Haupt, Deputy Treasurer
John W. Gopner


  1. E. Nebeker is also a distant relative of mine. He was a founding member of the Covington United Methodist Church and I believe he was the Secretary of the Treasury at some point (might need to research to verify).

  2. Interesting! Thanks for sharing. If you or your family have any insight on the events above, please let me know. Take care- SL