Finding Lost Family Treasure
I just returned from a Tri-Family Reunion in Greensburg, Indiana, where the families of Hamilton, McCoy, Donnell (the tri-part), and Adams got together. I’m Hamilton-McCoy-Adams. Greensburg is a small town in Decatur county with a big history, which my family was directly involved in.
Greensburg is a farming community with a Honda plant nearby. It’s particularly well-known for the Clock Tower Tree — a tree growing out of the courthouse tower. There was a main street area, and everything else was fields of corn and soybeans. The roads just cut between the fields, and it was easy to tell that the roads didn’t get much in the way of traffic. There were lots of grain elevators, like the one on the left. That one was across the street from the hotel. I took it at sunrise. It was actually foggy out, but it doesn’t show up in the photo. The area, like everywhere else, is in the middle of a drought. It rained three times while we were there, but hardly more than five minutes.
The History: In 1847, Greensburg was part of the underground slave escape route. This was because of the location of the county. It was in the lower half of the state, all controlled by the government. The rest of the state wasn’t controlled, so Decatur became a launch point for the slaves to escape. Several members of the Hamiltons, McCoys, and Donnells helped the slaves escape. Caroline, a slave, escaped with her children, and Luther Donnell was charged for helping her escape. Ironically, though, while he was part of the underground, he hadn’t helped her, and actually had an alibi. The case went all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court. More details here: The Story of Luther Donnell. Cyrus Hamilton is a great uncle, and James Eward Hamilton is a great-grandfather.
Not much is left of the original properties. One house remains, belonging to one of James Eward Hamilton’s sons until the 1900s, when it was lost the bankruptcy. James’ farm is long gone, though a plaque marks its location. The Kingston Church still exists, though, as does the Kingston graveyard.
The biggest adventure I had was getting to the church and the graveyard. You’d think a church would be on a main street. It was in the middle of a cornfield! I can only imagine how long it must have taken riding in a wagon. I followed one of the other family members, and we drove all over the place, finally hitting this white gravel road. It wasn’t gritty like normal gravel, but it sure kicked up a cloud of dirt. Then, after my car was coated, then it rained. Just a little, enough to make the car spotty. It was probably good that was relatively isolated — people would have thought we were crazy when we went out into the cemetery, eagerly discovering our relatives. It was hardly a somber moment you would expect in a cemetery — more like finding lost treasure, which I guess you could think of it as that.
I also went to Menora, a local town with a canal and the only covered aqueduct in the world. Horses pull a canal boat — not quite historically accurate; mules were used in the past, but horses are less fussy and prettier. Very, very hot that day. I also drove to Indianapolis and went to the Children’s Museum. They had a great exhibit on dinosaurs, and another one of an Egyptian tomb. Better still, I could touch everything!
The family is thinking of doing this on a regular basis, some to areas where ancestors were and possibly to places simple to have an adventure. One of the places mentioned was Korea!
Here are some links to online books about Decatur County.
- Posted in: Thoughts