m. 5 March 1751/52
Facts and Events
When Captain Zimri Vestal Garten was a little boy his grandfather, Elijah Garten, would not allow him to play a Jew’s harp in his presence. One day he asked his older sister, Jane, why the old man could not tolerate his favorite musical instrument. His sister told him that the noise reminded their grandfather of the wind in the rigging of the ships in which he had crossed the ocean when he came from Wales. Passengers and sailors alike had believed that this music in the rigging was caused by spirits of evil.
This story is the only authority we have as to the original home of Elijah Garten. Jane Garten, at the time of the incident, was a bright, but comparatively uneducated Hoosier girl. She may have confused Wales with Scotland or some other country. Elijah Garton, then, was born in Wales in about the year 1755. He came to Virginia with his parents in 1760 of soon thereafter. At this time, as we have seen, there were many other Gartons in Virginia, and it is quite probable that Elijah Garten’s father was a brother, or cousin, of some of them.
This period was a very important one in American history. The colonies and Great Britain were having constant quarrels. George III ascended the English throne in 1760. The French and Indian War ended in that year, though the Treaty of Paris was not signed until three years later. The Stamp Act came in 1764, and it was only twelve years from that event to the Declaration of Independence. Slavery was found in all the colonies. The majority of the population of South Carolina was black, while in New York and New Jersey about ten percent of the population was servile. Some of the Gartons owned slaves and the father of Elijah may have been of that number.
After he was grown he followed the wild game in its migrations from Virginia to Eastern Tennessee, though that territory was still part of North Carolina until 1790. He married Sarah Boyd in 1782 in Rockingham County, Virginia. There was no Hollywood code of morals then and no Reno, and, by the custom of the times, Elijah had to give a marriage bond as an evidence that meant business. On the French Broad River in Tennessee he built a small grist mill, run, of course, by water power and devoted himself to the milling business what time he was not hunting, through the active years of his life. He reared a family of seven children, the boys in order of their ages were named William, Elijah, James, and Robert; the girls were Betsy, Fannie, and Nancy.
Not many years from this writing one of his descendants four generations removed found his tombstone in bad condition in the old Shiloh cemetery near Fayetteville, Indiana. She had the stone set up, cleaned, and encased in cement. She was Mrs. Jennie Moore of Bedford, Indiana. This stone gives the date of his birth as November 12, 1758.
James Garten used to tell his sons how he and his father would carry meal, apples, and other products of the farm to Knoxville in a pirogue. A boat of this sort they would make themselves by hollowing out a huge tree trunk. They could float their cargo down stream readily enough, but the return trip was slow and laborious. The boat was moved slowly up stream by means of a pole or by the occupants pulling on overhanging branches.
As the Garten boys grew to manhood they went out into the newer parts of the country to seek their fortunes just as their father had done. William Garten moved to Illinois in about the year 1840. He reared a large family. The names of the four sons only are known. They are Azariah, Elijah, William, and James. These sons, in turn, scattered over the states west.
Elijah Garten, Jr., moved to Illinois also but at an earlier date, about 1835. His descendants consisted of two sons, John Duncan and Hamilton, and two daughters, Serelda and Betsy.
James Garten, moved to Springville, Lawrence County, Indiana in about 1818.
Robert Garten moved to Illinois in about 1836. His sons were named Madison, Fletcher, and Preston. Nothing is known as to his daughters.
Betsy Garten married Joe Rode (or Rhode) and they moved to Iowa.
One of the other daughters, Fannie, married John Hackler. He had two sons, Perry and George. The former’s descendants live near Fayetteville, Indiana. George Hackler moved to Daviess County. His sons were Duncan and Warren, the daughters, Mary and Ellen. Duncan Hackler had a son named Sion and a daughter named Ellen. She died while yet a young woman. Sion had two daughters by two marriages; Agnes and Ethel. Agnes, Mrs. Vern Sears has no children. Ethel, wife of Ed Passwater of Plainville has one daughter, Jane.
Duncan Hackler had children by another marriage, but I do not know their names. Warren Hackler had two sons, Chester and Walter, and a daughter Zola.
Mary Hackler married James Overton. Their children were Curtis, William, Orville, Arison, and Moses and daughters Amy and Dot.
Ellen Hackler married a man named Hinkle. Children I know of were Oliver, James, and Curtis.
Elijah Garten finally left Tennessee and followed his son, James, to Indiana. James had first lived near Orleans, then at Fayetteville, at Springville, and finally west of Farlen in Daviess County. When James moved to Springville, Elijah sold his Fayetteville land and his son allotted him fifteen acres in the northwest corner of his own farm. There a cabin was built for this old couple where they passed their last years.
But Elijah Garten was not a farmer. The first time he planted corn he did it by pulling up the dead stalks of the year before and dropping the seed where old plants had been. He never owned, nor cared for, many agricultural implements. He had moved his household goods into the country on pack saddles, he himself walking and carrying his rifle. He never owned a wagon nor vehicle of any sort, the pack saddle being adequate for all his needs. Once he made a trip to Kentucky for salt taking one horse to carry the load back. He made the round trip on foot, living on wild game all the time.
Unlike many hunters, Elijah Garten seldom talked, and never bragged of his exploits. He had hunted deer, bear, and turkeys from the time he could hold a rifle, and he remained a hunter to the end of his life. The adventures and the excitement of the forest and stream he looked upon merely as part of the day’s work. He never hunted with dogs, depending instead upon a woodsman’s keen sight and hearing and his knowledge of the habits of wild animals. He was a dead shot with a rifle. He was so good that he was barred from all the Lawrence County shooting matches. When game became scarce in the vicinity of Springville, he would take his old white horse and go on a hunting trip, all alone, into a section of the country where deer and turkey were yet to be had. In this way he passed his last years.
He died at Springville in 1840 at the supposed age of 82 years. Elijah was near six feet tall, rather raw boned, with dark hair and gray eyes. Next to hunting his life was devoted to religion. His days were opened with the singing of hymns and prayer. It seems that in Tennessee he had been a Presbyterian. But in the backwoods of Springville about the only form of religion available was Methodism. At Fayetteville, Indiana he and Sarah, his wife, helped organize the Shiloh Methodist Church. Later at Springville they were active at the old log M.E. church. But his religion did not transmit itself to a marked degree to his posterity. His son, James was much like his father, but none of James’ children except John Lowry, the black sheep of the family ever belonged to a church; and none of James’ grandchildren, while most of them are church members, has ever been so devout as to allow his religion to absorb his interest in material things. The next generation may produce a great religious leader. We’ll wait and see.