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Henry Kirby Groves

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Henry Kirby Groves

Huntington County Volunteer (View posts)
Posted: 967118400000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 993311417000
Surnames: Groves, Stuart, Todd, McFadden, Smith
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901 page 404-408

One of the men whose efforts are recognized on every hand in the efficiency of the public schools of Warren, and one whose life has been an example of untiring industry and labor, is he whose name stands at the head of this article, Henry Kirby Groves. He was born a short distance from Hartford City, in Blackford county, Indiana, on the 6th of October, 1853, his parents being Philip and Elizabeth (Stuart) Groves, he being of Pennsylvania birth, while she was born in Ohio, where they were married. About 1845 they had settled in Indiana on a new farm, where the remainder of his life was passed, dying at the age of sixty, having been survived by his wife but six months. Of their family of five sons and one daughter, all are still living: John, who resides near Hartford City; Jonathan, of Oklahoma; Aaron, ex-sheriff of Blackford county, and who resides on a farm within two miles of Hartford City; Henry K.; Isaiah, a mechanic, residing in Colorado; and Eveline, wife of Riley Todd, of Marion, Indiana.

At the deaths of his parents Henry K. was but a lad of eight years, and he was then separated from the rest of the children so that at no time since have all of them ever been together as one family. David Slater, one of the prominent farmers of the community, became the guardian of Henry, and, until the age of eighteen, his home was in the Slater family, assisting not only in the operation of the farm, but also drove team in the grading of a section of railroad of which his guardian was the contractor. He also erected some of the bridges and was quite active in the building of what is the Lake Erie road, south of Huntington county. His schooling was limited to the short terms of about three months each winter, though such a foundation was then secured as to form the basis for future education, which has been acquired as the circumstances of a busy life would permit. Upon attaining his eighteenth birthday his guardian presented him with a horse, which, however, soon after died, so that the gift was of little value to him, and the loss was more keenly felt than many times the amount would have been later. Coming to Markle, he secured work at clearing land for Joe Creviston, for whom he worked a full year, which was followed by a year at the same kind of hard labor for Mr. John Lucky and two years with William Eichhorn. Finding the financial progress rather slow, he decided to rent a tile factory at Plumtree, in the operation of which he cleared five hundred dollars the first year.

Making a substantial advance and feeling himself in easier circumstances, he secured the consent of a young lady of the vicinity, Miss Nancy McFadden, to become his partner for life, and on the 21st of November, 1877, they were married. Her parents were James and Sarah (Smith) McFadden, and she was born in Rock Creek township, Huntington county, being about the same age as her husband. Soon afterward he secured a twelve-hundred-dollar stock of general merchandise at Plumtree, and for the next six years was engaged in catering to the demands of the trade of the community, his efforts being rewarded by substantial and handsome returns. When they had reached that point where an easy condition was experienced, and the cares of providing for the family were not pressing, serious disaster came in the form of the fire fiend, the entire stock of goods and the property being consumed, leaving him as destitute as when he had begun six years before. Not being able to resume business on his own account he came to Warren, and secured a position in the store of Mr. Van Horn, in what was the nucleus of the present large mercantile enterprise of William Larrimer. His services have been so appreciated that he has been constantly retained, the present proprietor looking upon him as one of the most essential features of his business. What was a small business of about three thousand dollars stock, has grown till now not less than forty thousand dollars is carried, the amount of business done keeping pace with the stock. The service of Mr. Groves as a salesman and manager has done much toward the progress of the enterprise, he being one of the most affable and accommodating salesmen to be found in the county, his reputation as such being as wide as the reputation of the thriving town of Warren and the country tributary thereto. For many years he has been given the complete charge of the grocery department, doing the buying and superintending every detail of the business, giving employment to three assistants. Quite recently he has been promoted to the gents' furnishing department, where the duties are less arduous. Believing that an employer was as much entitled to the best efforts of an employee as it were possible to give, he has taken the same interest in the success of the business as if he had been the proprietor, his worth being recognized by the firm, who have increased his pay upon several occasions, and without any solicitation on his part. Ever having a keen appreciation of the worth of suitable training, he has been of great benefit to other young men who were under his supervision, rendering them that assistance and advice which has made them almost indispensable in the enlarged operations of the present business.

Investing his income in real state (sic), he has erected three desirable residences in the town, from which a handsome rental return is received. He has ever adhered to the plan that whatever the income the expenses of living must be toned down in accordance, so that a suitable provision could be made for the years that will come when the earning capacity is cut off.

While Mr. Groves is a Democrat, and has been found in the conventions of the party upon several occasions, he has not been an aspirant to the honors of public office, though he has been named as the proper person to make the race for several offices. His well-known interest in the cause of education placed him in a strong light before the people, whose pride in the schools was above politics, and he was selected to a position upon the school board about two years since, which he has filled with the greatest satisfaction to all concerned. No movement having for its object the advancement of the educational interests of the place but finds in him one of the warmest supporters and adherents. With his estimable wife, he is a member of the Christian church, of which he is the present treasurer, and all of the societies connected with the church have their co-operation to the end that a better and more advanced civilizatiion for the community may result. He is also a member of Thompson Tent, No. 6, Knights of the Maccabees, being one of the more influential of the society's members at this place.

Of four children born to this gentleman and his wife, the eldest died in infancy; the second--Orla--died at ten years, and Tressa is a high school student. Being the only survivor, the youngest having died in infancy, she is not only a favorite with her classmates, but is the pride of a pleasant home, the sunshine radiating from her pleasing personality and doing much to add to the cheer and delight of a happy home.

In this connection a brief outline of the life of James McFadden, in his efforts to find a location for his future home entirely to his liking, will no doubt be interesting.

The usual routine of work upon his father's farm, of work in summer with occasional facilities for school in winter, was his lot until 1833. With his inquiring mind and a belief that God's fair domain held some spot for him more favorable than his immediate surroundings, he started on horseback for Illinois, then recognized as the far west. With little or no money, but with the determination to make his willing hands meet all necessary wants, he started forth doing a day's work here for some pioneer farmer or cutting logs to be turned into lumber at some primitive sawmill. He worked his way until he finally reached the Illinois river near where Ottawa is now located, but not liking the country returned to Ohio, resumed work on the old farm with the determination to try again, starting out on his second trip in the spring of 1837, and as he truly put it, "The fortune is still ahead of me." To obtain that fortune was his chief object, and he turned his steps down the Ohio and subsequently up the Mississippi as far as St. Anthony's Falls; thence he crossed into Wisconsin, finally reaching Galena, Illinois, and no other prospect being better, took a sub-contract to carry the mails on a "star route," which he continued until the government abandoned the same. He says in the written notes now in possession of his daughter, Mrs. Groves, that "there are many beautiful sites for a home here in this country, but all are in the hands of speculators," and returned to the home of his father, renting part of the farm. For ten years after his marriage with Sarah Smith he continued farming, but never flagging in his determination to own a place and home for himself and children, and the fall of 1850 found him with his wife and eight children with all his household goods loaded into two wagons and on the way to Rock Creek township, Huntington county, Indiana, settling on land he had owned a number of years, located in the midst of a dense forest and not a neighbor within three miles. Labor incident to making a new home in those days was fraught with as many difficulties on his part as befell the pioneer of any locality, and he who observes the wondrous transformation of a land once a wilderness of swamp and timber, where now are flourishing farms in the highest stage of cultivation, with innumerable thriving towns and prosperous cities, cannot help but feel that the type of man who made such a condition possible is not only worthy a place in the country's history but to be held as an example to our children it will be wise to emulate.

Following is the obituary which appeared on the death of Mr. McFadden taken from the local paper of Warren:


James McFadden, one of the oldest citizens of Warren, departed this life on Saturday, after a short and severe illness. Although he had been in poor health for some time past, he was in bed but a few days, the direct cause of his death being kidney trouble. He was born June 23, 1810, in Wayne county, Pennsylvania, and was, therefore, almost ninety years of age at the time of his death.

He has lived the life of a pioneer from childhood, moving with his father's family when but six years of age to Wayne county, Ohio, into what was then considered the far west.

At the age of twenty-one he left home and spent two years in Illinois and Wisconsin, and after returning from the latter state he was united in marriage to Sarah Smith on October 8, 1840. To this union were born ten children--seven girls and three boys, two girls having preceded him to the realms above.

After living on his father's farm for ten years he moved to Rock Creek township, this county, on to a farm which was then a primeval forest. He lived on this farm until about five years ago, since which time he has made his home with his daughter, Mrs. Henry Groves, in Warren. He was a kind husband, a loving father, and was always pleasant and easy to get along with.

The funeral was held Monday from the church at Plum Tree, and burial took place in the cemetery near there. None of Mr. McFadden's relatives except those living here were present. His brother, of Wooster, Ohio, was unable to attend on account of his wife's sickness, and his three daughters living in Missouri would have been unable to reach Warren in time.

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