Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Amsterdam, Indiana - Redden Ancestor Hometown, Part 1

This blog takes you to New Amsterdam, Indiana. Many of our early Reddens lived in or near this river town. New Amsterdam was founded around 1815. There was a time in the mid-1800s when steamboat traffic on the Ohio River was at its peak that New Amsterdam was a busy town and actually recorded as the largest town in Harrison County, complete with a bank, hotel, and churches. Now the town is nearly abandoned. There have been some regional news stories about the town being recorded in the 2010 census as having a population of one, but this is not an accurate count. According to some locals, the population is at least 20, and perhaps as high as 22! New Amsterdam may not be the bustling river town it once was, but don't write it off just yet. Local festivals are still organized and take place here, such as the annual Remembrance Days.

The photo above shows what is currently a general store/museum/unofficial visitor's center, but the sign on the top front of the store identifies the building as a former Odd Fellows hall. The store is still a popular stop for bicyclists and motorcyclist who enjoy traveling the quiet, scenic road that winds along the river. On one of our visits to New Amsterdam, we stopped by the store hoping to get a cold drink. Unfortunately, it was closed. As we stood there, however, the owner, Mr. Shaffer came by in his golf cart which sported a sign identifying him as the town's unofficial mayor. He graciously unlocked the door so we could make our purchase, and then talked with us for quite some time about the history of the town and it's residents. Nick, who lived in New Amsterdam for a time as a boy, enjoyed hearing about some of the people he remembered as neighbors years ago. Sadly, we learned Mr. Shaffer has since passed away, but the last we heard the store is still being kept open by his family. Reportedly, this is the oldest building in New Amsterdam. Many other of the town's buildings and homes were destroyed in a terrible flood in 1937. Various members of the Redden family were members of the New Amsterdam Red Man Chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows. I'm sure the building was in much better shape when our ancestors walked here, but I like being able to see a physical connection between the generations when we visit New Amsterdam.

Our primary stop when we travel here, however, is the cemetery. Many Reddens are buried in the New Amsterdam cemetery which sits right in the middle of town atop a hill overlooking the Ohio River. It's truly a lovely and peaceful resting place. A shelter house with picnic tables sits at one end of the cemetery where you can sit and watch the river go by, giving the cemetery a park-like feel. A plaque reminds us that a school house once stood near the spot, but it burned down a few decades back.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

William Redden, 1843 - 1923

William was the oldest surviving son of Richard and Elizan. He was born on 10 October 1843 in New Amsterdam, Indiana. William spent most of his life in the area of the bustling river town of New Amsterdam. However, from February 1864 through July 1865, William was part of Company K, 38th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and saw action as a soldier for the Union Army in the Civil War. This unit, comprised largely of soldiers from New Albany, Corydon, Laconia, and surrounding areas, fought battles in Perryville, Kentucky and Chickamauga, Georgia.

William returned to New Amsterdam after his service, and five years later at the age of 27 married Miss Emeline French on 22 May 1870. Census records list his occupations as day laborer, and later farm laborer.

I know of four children born to William and Emeline. Only two of these children lived to adulthood. Charles Lee William was born 5 August 1871 in New Amsterdam. He later moved to the Fort Wayne, Indiana, and many of his descendants live in the Fort Wayne area to this day. Charles was married to Frances "Fannie" McAdams on 14 May 1899.

Julia Redden was born 19 November 1875. She married George "Yeller" Fleshman on 18 March 1890. Julie died in Bruceville, Indiana on 18 November 1933.

Another son, Robert, was born 15 September 1873 and died 7 August 1874. A son named Jesse was born in 1879, but I can find no further records for Jesse and assume he died in infancy.

Emeline died on 10 September 1912 at the age of 67. William lived alone until his passing in May 1923, at the age of 80, although family lived nearby. William's obituary is headlined, "Answers Last Roll Call -- William Redden, An Old Soldier Dies in Washington Township in Eightieth Year." His obituary states that he had been in poor health for some time, and blind for several years. He was survived by his son and daughter, brothers Robert, Charles, and Mayo, and 11 grandchildren. "He was a member of the United Brethren Church and was a good Christian man."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Meet Richard Redden

All information in this blog is believed to be accurate. I try to confirm each source of information two times before accepting it as fact. If you believe some information posted is in error, or you have any conflicting or additional information, please let me know.

Richard Redden, 1812-1883, is the earliest Redden ancestor I've been able to confirm from my husband's line. I've hit a brick wall when trying to determine his parent's names, or if he had any siblings, but I have found some promising leads to follow as I have time.

Although born in Kentucky, it does appear that Richard spent most or all of his adult life in southern Indiana. He married Elizan King in Harrison County, Indiana on March 24, 1842. From census records we know he resided not only in the river town of New Amsterdam in Harrison County, but also in New Albany (Floyd county), and Leavenworth (Crawford county), Indiana. He was living Leavenworth, Indiana, with his second wife Christena Conrad Scott Redden, and his daughter Clara, when he died at the age of 70. Richard spent some of his life as a steamboat carpenter, so it's not surprising to find he made his homes in towns along the Ohio river.

Richard appears to have been a member of Wesley Chapel church, a small, quaint, United Methodist church which still stands today in Valley City, Indiana, in Harrison County. Records show that he and some of his sons donated money to the building of the church, and his son Mayo donated some carpentry work. Imagine my husband's surprise a few years ago to learn that the little church where he enjoyed ice cream socials and Sunday school as a boy exists in part because of the dedication to the church by his great grandfather and great-great grandfather!

Richard must have also been patriotic and proud of his country. Two of his sons, Robert and William, served in the Union army during the Civil War. Richard served in the Washington Guards, a volunteer militia company in the Indiana Legion organized in 1861.

Richard and Elizan are known to have had 6 named children, listed below. There is evidence of other children that died in infancy, but I won't go into those details here. Richard also had a daughter with his second wife, Christena.

Son William K. Redden was born in Harrison County Indiana on 10 October 1843. He married Emeline French on 22 May 1870, and died in May 1923. William is buried in the New Amsterdam, Indiana, cemetery. His memorial page on Findagrave.com is #19131857.

Son Robert was born in Harrison County Indiana 10 January 1846. He married Clarinda Montgomery 8 September 1867, and died in Corydon, Indiana on 18 January 1927. Robert is also buried in the New Amsterdam cemetery. His memorial page on Findagrave.com is #19131530.

Daughter Nancy was born 12 May 1848. No other information on Nancy is known at this time.

Daughter Amanda was born 9 August 1851. She married John Hughs (sometimes spelled "Hughes") 13 February 1870, and died sometime before 1927.

Son Charley was born 5 March 1855 in Harrison County. He married Rebecca Alice Moyars. Charley died in February 1936 in Greensburg, Indiana.

Mayo Redden was born 27 November 1859 in Harrison County. His marriage was to Charlotte (or Sharlottie) Mower on 6 August 1893. Mayo's date of death has not yet been determined--indeed it's a bit of a mystery--although he appears to have died around 1939.

As previously mentioned, Richard's wife Elizan died on 4 February 1863. Richard then married Christena Conrad Scott on 1 July 1866. Christena was previously married to John H. Scott and they had two sons, William H. and John C. This marriage ended in divorce. Christena's two sons lived with Richard and Christena upon their marriage. Christena and Richard had one child together, Clara. Clara was born 15 April 1867 in Leavenworth, Indiana. She married James E. Isaacs on 8 January 1888, and the couple moved to Bourbon County, Kansas, and later to Oklahoma. Clara died and was buried in Enid, Oklahoma on 5 June 1934. There are memorial pages with photos on findagrave.com for both Christena (#44226688) and Clara (#43823019).

What else do we know about Richard? Not a lot, but I have some assumptions. I think he was a kind man who loved his family. I think he was tall. I believe he was ambitious, a hard worker, a good citizen, and at least fairly successful financially. These assumptions are based on tidbits of facts from census and tax records, obituaries, and a fair share of hunches and guesswork. I still hold out hope that more information is out there waiting to be found.

Here is a summary of Richard's life from census records:
1850 - Living in Floyd County Indiana (New Albany), age listed as 35, ship carpenter.
1860 - Harrison County, Indiana, age given as 47, farmer.
1870 - Crawford County, Indiana (Leavenworth area), 57, ship carpenter.
1880 - Crawford County, Indiana, 66, blind.

Future posts will provide more information on each of Richard's children.