Nature in her green mantle is nowhere more lovely that (sic)in that part of Huntington county set aside by survey as Jackson township. Cosy farm-houses nestle in gentle quietude amid green orchards which dot the landscape in every direction, presenting a scene of plenty and prosperity, though in some parts it has the appearance of newness. This division of the county has been settled for many years, and scenes once familiar to the older residents are rapidly fading from view. Only too frequently is it the case that people do not see beyond the narrow limits of their own surroundings, and items of private and public interest are allowed to drift into the channel of the forgotten past. Many important facts connected with the lives of the early settlers of Jackson are irrevocably lost, but a few have been found by careful research and will be appropriately mentioned in this and other sketches in this volume.
One of the actors in the early history and development of this section of Huntington county is William T. Purviance, who has been a resident of the township since his fourteenth year with the exception of eight months spent serving his country during the war. Mr. Purviance was born near New Paris, Preble county, Ohio, October 19, 1829, the son of James Purviance, a native of Bourbon county, Kentucky. In 1808, the father of James Purviance emigrated with his family from Kentucky to Preble county, Ohio, and there figured prominently as a pioneer. He first married Jane Ireland, who bore him four children, namely: Andrew I., killed in 1840; William T., the subject of this article; Elizabeth H., wife of Josiah Cutter, died in May, 1897, and Jane N., who resides with our subject on the old homestead in Jackson township. By a subsequent marriage with Sarah Knox, widow of James M. Knox, and daughter of Dr. Clements Ferguson, there were three children: James M., a farmer of Clear Creek township; Charles C., who departed this life in the year 1891; and Margaret T., who died in 1885, the wife of William Webb.
In 1835, James Purviance with his family moved from Ohio to Elkhart county, Indiana, where he purchased land and cleared a farm, being one of the earliest settlers in that part of the state. He remained there until 1841, at which time he disposed of his real estate, came to the county of Huntington and bought the northeast quarter of section thirty-two, Jackson township. At the time there was a double log dwelling on the land and about fourteen acres partly cleared, the only improvements. He cleared and otherwise developed a fine farm, and became a potent factor in the early affairs of the county. He served as township trustee and township clerk for some years, was largely instrumental in projecting a number of roads through the township, besides taking the lead in establishing and building school houses. Few men did as much for Jackson township as this sturdy, strong-minded pioneer gentleman of the old school. His life was fraught with much good to his fellows and his death, which occurred on the 8th day of December, 1854, was an event greatly deplored by the people of Jackson.
As stated in a preceding paragraph, William T. Purviance was in his fourteenth year when the family came to Huntington county. After the death of his mother, which sad event occurred September 18, 1838, he went to live with his grandparents in Preble county, Ohio, and made his home under their roof until 1843. In that year he, with his father, came to Huntington county, and settled on the farm in Jackson township, where he now resides. After his father's death he took charge of the homestead and has continued agricultural pursuits on the same farm ever since. During the year of his minority he attended the winter sessions of the subscription schools, the nearest being over a mile distant from his home, and by close application managed to obtain a fair knowledge of such branches as were then taught.
On the 4th of July, 1863, Mr. Purviance enlisted in Company F, One Hundred and Eighteenth Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, for six months' service. He was mustered in at Indianapolis; thence proceeded to Camp Nelson, and later accompanied his command to Cumberland Gap in east Tennessee. From that point the regiment next went to Greenville, from thence to Cumberland Gap and Taswell, and spent the winter of 1863-64 in east Tennessee, and on the 1st day of March following received his discharge and immediately returned home and resumed the pursuit of agriculture on the old farm.
Mr. Purviance has been a forceful factor in the affairs of Jackson township, and, like his father before him, is interested in whatever is calculated to promote the material prosperity of the community or improve the moral and intellectual condition of the people. As a farmer and stock-raiser no one occupies higher standing, and as a neighbor and citizen he has long been noted for his straightforward course, his influence always being on the side of right. The farm, consisting of one hundred and sixty acres of choice land, is highly improved and his home is the abode of a genuine old-fashioned hospitality, only too rarely found in the present rapid age of self-aggrandizement.
For three and a half years he served as trustee of Jackson township, and his administration of the office demonstrated strong business traits and judgment of a high order. In politics he is a stanch (sic) Republican, interested in every movement calculated to benefit the party; but has never had any ambition in the direction of office, preferring to devote his entire time and attention to the claims of his private affairs. Fraternally he belongs to William McGinnis Post, No. 167 Grand Army of the Republic, which meets in Roanoke, having filled the office of adjutant in the organization.
Such, in brief, are the salient points in the life of one of Jackson township's successful farmers and representative citizens. With his well known character for integrity and energy he has won more than local repute, and can with propriety be safely placed among the foremost men of the county he has so long claimed as a residence. He is the soul of geniality and good fellowship, makes hosts of friends among all with whom he comes in contact, and few if any enjoy as great a degree of personal popularity.