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John W. Emley

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John W. Emley

Huntington County Volunteer (View posts)
Posted: 1 Sep 2000 6:00AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Edited: 23 Jun 2001 9:50AM GMT
Surnames: Emley, Cook, Efft, Swayer, Elser, Carey, Finkenbiner, Crager
From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 619-622

The father of the gentleman whose name introduces this sketch was one of the pioneer settlers of Huntington county, and for many years a prominent factor in the growth and development of the township of Clear Creek. His name was Samuel Emley, and New York was the state of his nativity. The birth of this estimable man occurred in the county of Scoharie, May 14, 1810, and when but a year old he was taken by his parents, John R. and Mary (Cook) Emley, to Burlington county, New Jersy; thence, two years later, to the county of Middlesex. Subsequently the family settled in Monmouth county, where Samuel reached his twelfth year, after which they changed their residence to the county of Salem, New Jersy, where he grew to manhood. He spent his youth and early manhood on a farm, and on the 7th of March, 1833,was united in marriage to Miss Anna Efft, whose birth occurred in Salem county, New Jersy, February 1, 1814.

About April 20, 1834, Samuel Emley and his wife started for what was then the far west, making the first part of their journey by steamboat to Philadelphia. From that city to Pittsburg they went by canal boat except a short distance over the Alleghany mountains, which was made by rail, the rude coaches being propelled up and down the inclined planes by stationary engines. At Pittsburg the family took passage on a steamboat for Cincinnati, whither they arrived in the spring of 1834. In May of that year he arrived with his family at the home of an uncle, Mr. Anthony Cook, in Warren county, Ohio, near which place he was obliged to locate by reason of the depleted condition of his finances, working out at clearing and as a farm laborer until 1838. His wages for the first month were nine dollars, and the best pay he received during his sojourn there was but thirteen dollars per month. By the most rigid economy he succeeded during his stay in accumulating four hundred dollars, with which he determined to push further westward and purchase a home of his own where land was cheap. Accordingly, in January, 1838, he placed his family and household effects in a wagon and started for Huntington county, Indiana, whither his father's family had preceded him a few years previous, and the month following found him at his destination. With two hundred and forty dollars of his money he purchased an eighty-acre tract in Clear Creek township, section twenty, paying for the same three dollars an acre, and upon this he built a small cabin and immediately set to work clearing a portion of his land. For some time thereafter severe work and the usual hardships incident to life in the backwoods fell the lot of the family, but in due season the wilderness around the little dwelling disappeared and a good farm resulted from his labors. Subsequently Mr. Emley purchased other lands in the vicinity of his home, which were likewise brought into a state of cultivation through his exertions, and as time went by he found himself the fortunate possessor of large and valuable tracts of real estate, of which two hundred and sixty acres were cleared and fitted for tillage, mainly by his own hard work.

The marriage of Samuel and Anna Emley resulted in the birth of six children, two sons and four daughters, namely: John W., whose name introduces this sketch; Catherine, wife of Philip Swayer, of Huntington; Charlotte, who married Eli Elser; Mary A., wife of Cyrus Carey; Elizabeth, widow of George W. Finkenbiner; and Fletcher J., a farmer of Clear Creek township.

Mr. Emley was one of the public spirited men in the early history of Huntington county, and took a leading part in the growth and development of Clear Creek township. He always possessed the confidence of the people, and was frequently called upon to fill positions of trust, among which was that of county commissioner. He was elected to that office in 1858 and served for a period of three years, discharging his duties in a highly creditable and satisfactory manner. Subsequently he was again elected to the same position, and served in all nine years, being the longest period of service by any member of the commissioners' court in the history of the county. He was a stanch Democrat, and always recalled with pride the casting of his first vote for Andrew Jackson, while yet in New Jersey. For some years he served as trustee of Clear Creek township, and during his incumbency did much to inaugurate a system of internal improvements, especially roads, several of which were laid out and constructed under his personal direction. He was one of the county's most successful farmers, accumulating a fortune estimated at over thirty thousand dollars, all of which was the direct product of his own industry and business foresight. At one time his real estate was in excess of five hundred acres, much of which, with his personal property, he generously divided among his children, giving to each a substantial start in life. He and his good wife were among the time-honored pioneers of Huntington county, and will always be held in grateful remembrance for the part they took in laying the broad foundation upon which its prosperity now rests. He died, honored and blessed by all who knew him, in 1894, at the advanced age of eighty-five years. One year later his companion followed him to the grave, after having reached the age of eighty-two.

John W. Emley was born in Salem county, New Jersy, November 26, 1833, and was five years old when brought by his parents to Huntington county, Indiana. Reared amid the stirring scenes of the pioneer period, his early experiences included hard labor in wood and field, and in consequence thereof he became a strong and rugged boy with a superabundance of good health and animal spirit. These served well as a foundation for the active life afterward led as a farmer, and also contributed much to his success as a business man. He remained with his parents until his marriage, which took place April 11, 1858, to Miss Lucinda Crager, after which he moved to the farm in Clear Creek, where he has ever since lived.

Mr. Emley helped clear and otherwise develop this place before leaving the parental roof, and had a comfortable house erected thereupon for the reception of his bride. Since then, by much judicious labor he has brought his farm to a high state of cultivation, and as an agriculturist none have made greater progress or have been more successful.

Mr. Emley's marriage has been blessed with ten children: Samuel L., Florence W., Minerva J., Gertrude L., deceased, Anna, deceased, Anthony C., Dora M., Maggie, deceased, John E. and Ada K.

Mr. Emley was educated in the district schools, and is a gentleman of more than ordinary powers of mind; a clear thinker, a wide reader, and possessed of most excellent judgment on all matter of a business nature. He takes a pardonable pride in his beautiful home, consisting of a quarter section of as fine land as lies within the confines of Huntington county, and his popularity is only bounded by the territory beyond which he is unknown. He is essentially a man of the people, a genuine product of our free institutions, and possesses all the elements that enter into the make-up of the honorable citizen and the wide-awake and energetic man of affairs. He has been an eye-witness of the wonderful development which has placed Huntington in the front rank of Indiana's most progressive and enlightened counties, but as a factor in that development is modest in his claims to recognition.

He now claims the distinction of being one of the oldest citizens of Clear Creek township in point of continuous residence, and no one now living within its borders has done as much as he toward calling attention to the wonderful resources of this section of the country.

Mr. Emley is a Jacksonian Democrat of the old school; a prominent worker in the party, by no means a bitter partisan, he has never permitted his name to be used in connection with public preferment of any kind. He prefers the quietude of his comfortable home to the distractions of office, and expects to end his life amid the peaceful shades where so many of his years have been passed. Mr. Emley lost his wife and helpmate by death June 23, 1877.

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