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Title: The Stone Quarries, a Local Industry that Flourished and Died
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The first settlers in this locality were satisfied with the log cabin but it was not many years until they began to have desires for more substantial dwellings. With the advent of the up-and-down sawmill operated by water power, the settlers began building more substantial houses and barns and their frame houses and brick houses made more substantial foundations necessary. Soon they began operating stone quarries in the various parts of Fountain, Warren, Tippecaneo and adjoining counties to secure stone for foundations.

One of the first quarries in the vicinity of Attica was about a mile west of Riverside on the Wabash railroad on land now belonging to Lars Anderson, but for many years the home of Jacob Fix. The site of this stone quarry is about a mile east of Fix schoolhouse and it was operated by Rev. James Killen. Killen was a Methodist exhorter, and he operated the stone quarry on a large scale, but his particular business was making tombstones. In almost every cemetery in western or northern Indiana there are tombstones that were made in this quarry and many of hte young men in the Bethel neighborhood learned to be stonecutters in Killen's quarry.

My uncle, Luke Whicker, who was in the tombstone business in this city for many years with Harry Brant, learned his trade in Killen's quarry, and became a fine workman. Jonathan Campbell, who for years had the tombstone shop where Horace Brant's store now stands learned his trade in the same quarry.

Cy Governor, who worked at the various shops in this city before the Civil War and who died during the was at Springfield, Illinois, on his way home, learned his trade in the Killen quarry, and Hutchinson Barnett, Mahlon Hall Pearson and Newlin H. Yount all worked in this quarry, cutting and polishing stone. After the advent of the canal marble came into use as tombstones and the KIllen quarry no longer could be worked profitably. I helpt my father to quarry the last stone that was ever taken out of this quarry for the foundation of a brick house which he built about three miles eas of Attica near the Fix schoolhouse. About the time my uncle, Luke Whicker, finished his trade Harry Brant and his brother Theodore began cutting stone from across the river for tombstones. They got out their rock near where the wagon road intersects with the Williamsport road at the top of the hill across the river from Attica.

Killen sold his land and quarry to Dr. Doublebee of West Point and Ed Mullen, Dr. Doublebee's son-in-law, took over the property. After that the quarry was no longer operated.

My uncle, Luke Whicker, and Hutchinson Barnett, began working a stone quarry on Pine creek near the Shideler mill and they worked there for many years until Hutchinson Barnett died. Newlin Yount worked in this quarry as long as it was operatted, overseeing the men who took the stone from the quarry. After the death of Barnett my uncle formed a partnership with Harry Brant and then all the Whickers and all the Brants worked for many years together, making tombstones in the city of Attica. The firm was then known as Whicker & Brant and was a partnership, with Harry Brant and Luke Whicker owning the shop. It was located in the room now occupied by Minniear's barbor shop.

When the Wabash and Erie Canal was built the stone for the aqueducts and locks and other purposes was quarried in the river bottoms near Gus Leaf's place on land belonging now to Aldolph Johnson. The stone taken out of this quarry was very good quality of sandston; in fact, the best sandstone that has every been taken out of any quarry in this locality. When found along the canal now it isn in as good state of preservation as when taken out.

The Wabash railroad for a while used stone taken from this quarry and later form a quarry of freestone hear Riverside, but the company finally purchased forty acres of land now popularly known as Stone Cut and opened u pa large stone quarry. They ran a switch up the hollow to the quarry and erected a large boarding house. Lewis Town was the foreman in takin the stone out of this quarry and his wife ran the boarding house which stod just across the railroad tracks from the house on the old Town place.

They employed at one time from seventy-five to one hundred men in this quarry and all the stone work on the Wabash railroad for many years came from this quarry. It was superseded by Stinas Barnhart,who first began contracting in a small way with the company, and whose honesty and splendid work won for him a reputation so that finally that Wabash railroad, recognizing his owrk and his knowledge of the business, turned their contracts over to him. He opened up a stone quarry on the Barnhart place across the river along hte C. & E.I. tracks. This stone was a sandstone, not first-class but better than that taken out of Stone Cut, altho not so good as the stone int he river bottom near Stone Cut. Mr. Barnhart's quarry was operated until the stone quarry at Williamsport was opened and operated by W.P. Carmichael and others, and the Wabash railroad transferred its business to them. Mr. Carmichael continued to operated the Williamsport quarry until the use of stone was superseded by cement, when he turned his attention to it and in that connectino took the lead in developing the gravel business that at this time occupies the important place among Attica industries once held by the stone quarries.

In 1890 contractors of Lafayette, realizing the quality of the stone in the Wabash canal locks that had come from the quarry in the river bottoms near Stone Cut, concluded to find that quarry and operate it. When they found the quarry they were afraid of the river, considered the place almost inaccessible, and began taking out stone near Riverside. Many buildings in Danville and Lafayette were constructed of this stone. Two companies operated it, and one of them made money very fast for a while. There was one layer of bad stone in it quarry. Had this stone been thrown out the company would have continued in business but on account of using this stone, which did not last, its managers ruined the business in this locality. Of course, cement coming into use would have affected it and probably put many of the stone quarries out of business but it would still have been used had the men who operated the quarried used always the best stone in their quarries.

In Warren county, north of Blackrock, was a stone quarry of red sandstone. Samuel Martindale built a residence of this sandstone many years ago which still stnads near Mound cemetery, six miles northeast of Attica. The house has been a landmark for many years, and the stone it in has a very beautiful color.

There were two stone quarries opened on Shawnee creek, one of them a red sandstone and the other a white sandstone; the trimming of the Farmers & Merchants State Bank building came from Will Young's plcae, then known as Table Rock, and is very beautiful white sandstone; this was used quite extensively for a while.

Southwest of Portland (now Foutain) was a quarry of red sandstone and there were several minor quarries operated in and around Attica. It looked for a while as tho the stone industry would become one of the leading industris of this locality, and it may be that the valuable stone of this locality will yet be utilized. The last effort made has been to crush this stone for sand for various purposes where sand is used. There are large deposits of it along the river, Pine creek and Big Shawnee. In the early settlement of the country a stone quarry was considered a valuable asset to a piece of land, but inthe last few years it is considered a detriment.

At one time quarrying stone was the most valuable industry in this locality and the Killen quarry perhaps brought more money into this vicinity than any other one industry up until the Wabash & Erie Canal was constructed. This canal ruined the Killen quarry. Perhaps the tombstones made in the Killen quarry, were distributed over a larger territory than any other one product that has ever been taken from the soil of this locality excepting that of the Poston brick plant.

There are some very nice windowsills, lintels and doorsills in some of the old buildings of Attica, and in the old graveyard some fine old monuments that were chiseled by skilled men in lettering and designing markers for graves that there were in the state. In most of the old graveyards all over Indiana once can find gravestones that were made in Attica by the deft hands of these craftsmen.

I can tell at once who had lettered the stones that were taken from the native quarries. I can tell the lettering of the Brants from that of Jonathan Campbell, and I can tell the lettering of any stone that my uncle chiseled. The making of monuments was quite an industry in Attica for many years. Brant & Whicker prospered and people came for many miles to get monuments from their shop on account of the artistic sculpture work which surpassd that of the workmen elsewhere.

Stop some day when you are in the graveyard and look at some of the old sandstone monuments and read the epitaphs. As you read notice the lettering and if you have an eye for art and for sculpture you will perhaps see what I see in them, the touch of true craftsmanship and a beauty that surpasses most of the lettering on the granite stones of later years. If we have gained in durability from the use of granite we have lost the beauty of the sculpture in the lettering of the sandstone.

The stone is still ehre, it has hardly been touched, but the men who operated the quarries have long since gone to that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler e're returns.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001106
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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