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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day Grandma Nifong


In honor of Mother's Day I thought I would share a compilation of interviews published in Marshall County, Indiana newspapers with Lorinda (Watson) Nifong on the occasion of her 100th and 102nd birthdays. She was my 3x great-grandmother and a very strong pioneer woman.

The oldest person at one time residing in Marshall County, and probably in the State of Indiana was Mrs. Lorinda (Watson) Nifong. Born in Ohio in 1809 to William Watson and Sarah White, she lived an exceptionally long life and passed away at the age of 103.

The average mind cannot grasp the meaning of a hundred years when it is applied to the life of a human being. To sit in the presence of one that old, to talk with them, to study the features that father time has plowed furrows in from year to year, seems like a dream to the one who has experienced this long life, and to the young it seems like holding conversations with someone from another world.

Unlike most elderly people, who when they attain over eighty years, live merely a shadow of an existence, Grandma Nifong, as she is called, is very able. She was well informed on the happenings of her lifetime. She could relate much of what had made the history of the last century. Enjoying perfect health, with all of her senses excepting her sight intact, perfectly able to make her way about the homes of her children, and grandchildren, quite able to carry on a conversation, not only with her kin, but any stranger, and with a memory that would put a person younger by fifty years to shame, the case of this woman is most remarkable.

On the occasion of her birthday anniversary, Mrs. Nifong sat in her chair, gently rocking to and fro, she talked pleasantly and most entertainingly of her life here and recalled incidents that happened years and years ago with the utmost precision. She was one of seven children, all of who have passed away. She was born in Liberty township, Delaware county, Ohio, February 7, 1809. When 36 years of age, she was united in marriage to John Nifong, a resident of Marion county, Ohio. Her husband was thirteen years her junior. The couple lived in Ohio for three years. Their occupation was farming a small tract which they rented from a landlord. At the end of this time the little farm was sold, and the couple with two children found themselves without a home. Upon the advice of an uncle, they determined to come to Indiana. Accordingly a man with a wagon and team was employed. In 1844, the little family packed all their earthly belongings and started for Indiana.

When they were three days journey along the way, Mrs. Nifong grew homesick and wished to return, but the driver of the team, bent on earning his $20.00 for moving them, paid more attention to Mr. Nifong and they continued the journey. At last, after about ten days of travel, over roads good and bad, and some roads that were not roads, every mile taking them into a more lonesome region, they arrived at the place that was to be their future home. They purchased eighty acres of land for which they paid the government $200.00.

Mrs. Nifong grew so homesick she could not eat, and her youngest daughter added to the mother's lonesomeness by a continual cry for a return to the old haunts. But the new abode soon began to assume the appearance of a home, and time brought contentment and happiness. From that time until the present she has lived there and seen the waste of swamp and underbrush supplanted by a land of great plenty.

The reminiscences of the old lady, particularly those about the county when she first came here, are most interesting. At the time of her coming here, she said, the county was largely woodland. Many Indians were here and the stores and residences were built of logs. She recalls some of the events that marked President Washington's times and the stirring events of the years that followed. The accidental crippling of her husband by a stray buckshot, he being mistaken by a careless neighbor for a deer, is remembered even to the minutest details. The first ride she ever took on a railroad train was in 1860. It was during the great political campaign when Lincoln and Douglas were candidates for president. Senator Douglas spoke at Fort Wayne and, with her husband, she went there on the railroad to hear him. In her last years she has enjoyed several automobile rides.

The secret of the wonderful longevity of Grandma Nifong is her great inherited vitality, strong constitution and her adherence to health rules. Throughout her long life she has had little sickness. She has not been visited by a physician in the past fifty years, and in her entire lifetime suffered only one serious illness. Her doctor bill was $12.50 made when she had a severe fever and paid to an old school doctor, who she soon dismissed and whose place she supplied with an herb, or "botany" doctor as they were called then and who soon cured her. The loss of her sight, which although was not complete, makes her unable to distinguish persons and colors, yet she is able to distinguish daylight from darkness, was the result of a lifetime spent of heavy reading, and needlework.

Unlike most people who have reached old age, very many who have passed the four-score of years mark, Mrs. Nifong is contented and happy in what must be the very few last years of her life. As the old lady states it, she has nothing left to live for, yet she is grateful that old age has been so kind to her, leaving her with full possession of her faculties and not an invalid to be a burden upon her children, and so she is always prepared for the end of her long existence, whenever the time comes.

"I'm ready when the call comes," she said to the newspaper scribe. "I am grateful to God for the long life he has given me and the many blessings he has bestowed on me. I am thankful that in my old days my children feel that I am not a burden and that I have a deep place in their affections. I call them all my children - my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There are fifty in all now living. A pretty big family," she continued, smiling, "I am proud of them."


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Two New Free Genealogy Indexes


This new index compiled by Cathy L. O'Connor, © 2012.

Containing a history of the county - its cities, towns, etc.; a directory of its tax-payers; portraits of early settlers and prominent men; general and local statistics; map of Coles county; History of Illinois, illustrated; History of the Northwest, illustrated; Constitution of the United States, miscellaneous matters; etc., etc.

Original text by William Le Baron, Jr., 1879.

This new index contains over 13,300 entries.


Compiled by Cathy L. O'Connor, © 2012.

Original text by Oren F. Morton, 1910; reproduction by Regional Publishing Company, 1974.

This index contains over 26,500 entries.