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Jacob F. Souers

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Jacob F. Souers

Posted: 3 Aug 2002 2:39PM GMT
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Souers, Franks, Merriman, King
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, pages 684-686

Among the few pioneers yet living to connect a time long past to the present is the venerable gentleman whose name introduces this article. Mr. Souers is one of the oldest residents of Huntington county now living, and to him has been granted the privilege of witnessing the remarkable development which has changed northern Indiana from an almost unbroken wilderness to its present advanced stage of civilization and prosperity. The father of the subject, also Jacob by name, was a native of Germany. He came to the United States when quite young, settling with his parents in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, where he grew to manhood and married. In 1816, with his young family, he immigrated to Wayne county, Ohio, and entered a tract of government land, locating his home about eleven miles southeast of the present city of Wooster. His wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Franks, also a native of Fayette county, Pennsylvania, bore him nine children, and departed this life in Ohio, at the ripe old age of ninety-two. Jacob Souers, Sr., cleared a fine farm which is still in possession of the family, and became one of the leading agriculturists of the county of Wayne. He was a Democrat in politics, a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church and died at the age of sixty-five, leaving the impress of his strong personality fixed upon the community he was so largely instrumental in founding.

Of the nine children born to Jacob and Elizabeth Souers, the subject of this sketch was the second in order of birth. Jacob F. was born December 14, 1812, in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, and when four years old was taken by his parents to their new home in the wilds of Ohio. There he grew to manhood, assisting his father on the farm, and at the age of twenty-one began learning the cooper's trade, at which he soon acquired great proficiency. After working a limited period at his chosen calling he took service on the old national turnpike road, then in process of construction, and was thus engaged during one summer, when he took to himself a wife and began the vocation of a farmer on rented land. After three years thus spent he concluded to try his fortune in what was then the new and almost unbroken region of northern Indiana; accordingly, about 1836, he made a tour of observation for the purpose of securing a home, and entered one hundred and sixty acres in section thirty-three in what is now Rock Creek township, Huntington county. To this place he moved his family in 1838, and at once addressed himself manfully to the task of clearing the forest growth which then covered the face of the country in all its primeval denseness. In order to reach the site selected for his future habitation Mr. Souers was compelled to cut a way through the thick timber for the wagon which contained his family and a few articles of household furniture, and until a cabin could be erected a hastily improvished tent served them for shelter. In time a diminutive round-log dwelling was built, after which the more serious problem of preparing a bit of ground for cultivation presented itself for solution. The nearest neighbors lived at a distance of two and a half miles, and hardships before which the present generation would retire abashed were at that time the common lot of all.

It is not the province of this article to narrate in detail the many difficulties which beset the pathway of Mr. Souers while carving out a home for his loved ones in the Indiana wilderness, but suffice it to state that by an untiring industry and self-denial such as few if any now living know how to appreciate, by working early and late in heat and cold, the herculean task was at last accomplished, and the family found itself on the high road to a more prosperous condition of affairs. At the first election held in Rock Creek township, in 1842, when only eighteen votes were cast, Mr. Souers was honored by being chosen one of the trustees; in after years he was called at different times to fill various other positions of honor and trust, in all of which he proved worthy the confidence reposed in him by his fellow citizens.

Mr. Souers continued his chosen occupation with more than ordinary success, and by adding to his possessions became in time one of the leading farmers of his township. By successful management as well as by great industry he succeeded in accumulating a competence sufficient to enable him to retire from the active duties of life in 1884, leaving the farm that year and removing to his present comfortable home at the county seat. The better to give his children a favorable start in life, he has divided among them the greater part of his possessions, sufficient, indeed, to place each of them in affluent circumstances, retaining a liberal share to render his own remaining years free from care and worry.

As already stated, Mr. Souers was married in Ohio, the maiden name of his wife being Ruth Merriman, a native of Pennsylvania, who was born in Fayette county, February 1, 1815. She was a true helpmeet to her husband during his arduous struggles, and much of his success is early traceable to her advice and self-denying assistance. She early united with the Baptist church, and continued faithful to her profession until called to her reward, on the 12th day of February, 1895. To Mr. and Mrs. Souers were born six children, viz.: Elizabeth A., deceased; Micaiah M.; James, deceased; Mary E.; Sarah R.; Xantha M., now Mrs. Frank M. King, of Huntington, Indiana.

Mr. Souers has been a lifelong Democrat, never swerving in his allegiance to the party, and ready at all times to make sacrifices for the advancement of its interests. He has filled the offices of township trustee, school trustee and other positions of local importance, but has never aspired to public honors, preferring to devote his attention solely to his farm and business interests. Like his good wife he long ago united with the Baptist church, and during a membership extending over a period of half a century nothing has been charged against his Christian character, nor has anything derogatory to his name as a gentleman ever been uttered.

Mr. Souers is a well-preserved type of a class of stanch, determined men, the great majority of whom have long since passed of the stage of action. Although eighty-eight years old, he is still hale and hearty, retaining in a marked degree the possession of his faculties, physical and mental, and from present indications he bids fair to celebrate in the future many recurrences of the anniversary of his birth. He is companionable to a degree rarely found in much younger men, and his popularity is second to that of no other citizen of Huntington county. He is now making his home with a daughter, Mrs. King, who is untiring in her efforts to render his declining years replete with comfort and happiness; and it is the wish of his many friends in Huntington and throughout the country that his days may be prolonged until crowned with a century's laurels.

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