History Record View

Title: The First White Settler of Fountain County
File Attachment:
Attachment Type:

A hundred years ago the star of empire was moving westward with great rapidity and the new state of Indiana was being filled with the younger generation of the best families from the eastern states. As word came back from those who had penetrated into the new country telling of the wonderfully fertile soil and the magnificent forests, the plentiful game and the rapidly growing settlements, others were fired with zeal and followed, so that for many years the ox-trains of settlers continued to come. As the tide of settlement had started with the Ohio river it moved slowly but steadily north and west, thus it was that the southern half of the state that was selected first. At the time Indiana was admitted as a state, in 1816, there were 63,897 white inhabitants and not one of them lived in Fountain county; in fact, this county had not been laid out and was still virgin wilderness awaiting the coming of the settler.

I have determined beyond question that the first white man to take up his permanent residence in Fountain, Warren, and Tippecanoe counties was Peter Weaver, whose descendents still live in the vicinity where he settled. His great-great grandaughter, Miss Flora Weaver of West Point, furnished me with much of the following which she had used as a graduation thesis:

Peter Weaver came from Germany to Culpepper county, Virginia, before the war of the Revolution. He married in Virginia and most of his children were born there.

The Weavers were well-to-do, of aristocratic lineage, and brought considerable wealth from the Fatherland. Peter had wealth enough for himself and family to live in comparative luxury and to associate with the first families in that section of old Virginia, He married Martha Walker in Culpepper county. Martha Walker's mother was a sister of Patrick Henry, the orator of Revolutionary frame. Her father was a full-blooded Miami Indian, had a good education and held positions of trust in the Colony of Virginia, by appointment of the Crown. The union of the houses of Walker and Weaver was considered promising for both the contracting families.

Peter Weaver was 6 feet, 4 inches tall and stood head and shoulders above the young men with whom he associated. He weighed 240 pounds, but was not fleshy, had blue eyes and was of a light complexion. His wif, Martha Walker Weaver, was of a dark complexion with dark eyes and showed her Indian descent.

In 1806 they sold their property in Virginia and moved to Wayne county, Indiana, in 1807, settling 3 miles south of Richmond. He was one of the wealthiest men in his community and had a good and well improved farm.

While in Virginia he had formed the acquaintance of William Henry Harrison and perhaps Harrison had something to do with his coming to Indiana.

In September, 1809, when Gov. Harrison left Vincennes for the Council House at Ft. Wayne to meet the Indians he traveled eastward to the western border of Deaborn county and from there he went to the home of Peter Weaver in Wayne coutny, arriving in the afternoon and staying all night. On this trip Gov. Harrison, afterwards president, gave to Patrick Weaver, the son of Peter Weaver, the first money he had ever owned, which was a silver 50 cent piece. Harrison arrived at Ft. Wayne September 15, 1809. After the battle of Tippecanoe, in November, 1811, Gov. Harrison again stayed over night with Peter Weaver in Wayne county and gave him an account of the march up the Wabash and the battle. Being naturally of an adventurous disposition, Peter Weaver became much interested in the Wabash Valley and the Tippecanoe battlefield.

He was a good shot and liked to hunt and when Gen. Samuel Hopkins began to raise an army of 1250 soldiers to march up the Wabash river to The Prophets Town, (Tippecanoe), Peter Weaver joined an expedition and was first lieutenant in Capt. Washburn's company of spies and sharpshooters. He went immediately to Vincennes and from there he marched with the Hopkin's army, in November, 1812, to The Prophet's Town. He was so delighted with the Wea plains that he decided if ever an opportunity presented itself, he would make his home on this beautiful prairie.

After he returned home he went on the bond of a friend who had been elected sheriff of Wayne county. This friend was a defaulter for a large sum. Peter Weaver was the only bondsman with property and it fell to him to make good the sheriff's defalcation. It took his farm and all his person property. He had always been used to comparative wealth and luxury, and now to find himselfappraoching old age in poverty was to him a great embarassment. He decided not to wait any longer, but to go at once to the Wabash Valley and the Wea plains which had appealed to him so strongly when he had crosst it in the war of 1812, so he and his son Patrick H., left the rest of the family to raise the crop on the farm he had sacrificed for his friend, the defaulting sheriff, and set forth on their quest for a new home in the Wabash Valley. They arrived at Vincennes in the spring of 1822 and built a skiff with two pairs of oars. This boat was large enough to carry their clothing and food, so they started up the Wabash.

Some of the Indians who were related to Peter Weaver's wife lived as what is known now as Flint Bar in Fountain county, They reached the Flint Bar with their boat the last of June or the first of July. Patrick was the first out of the boat, and with one of his oars killed a blacksnake feet in length. They spent a month hunting, fishign and visiting with their Indian relatives, and then began to select a place for a home altho the land was not yet open for entry. He built his log cabin across the road, north of where Mr. Lewis Clement now lives; he commenced the building in August, 1822, and finished it that winter, but during the time that they were constructing their cabin they lived on Flint Bar in Fountain county with their Indian relatives, and stayed there from July, 1822, until April, 1823.

Some time in the early spring Peter Weaver floated down the river to Vincennes and went from there to Richmond and got his family, leaving Patrick H. to look after his cabin, while he himself would bring the family out to their new home. In 1827, the land he had taken up was granted by the United State government to the Burnetts, the French-Indian family of which I have already written. He bought two sections of the reserved allotted to the Burnetts, one of them being sectioned on which the cabin was located. The other was the section in which the Patrick H. Weaver farm was located.

In 1823, when he came to make permanent home on his claim, a French trader stopped at his home and had with him some oats which he fed to the horse. In consideration of a few bushels of corn, he traded Peter Weaver a portion of his cereal. The oats thus procured were sown and in due time reaped, but in the following season all were surprised to see several different varieties of wheat spring forth from the stubble previously occupied by the oats. It was regarded as very mysterious, so Peter Weaver raised the first wheat as well as the first oats in the county.

In after years he had a grain elevator constructed on the east bank of the Wabash river at the Flint Bar. This elevator was put up in 1825, and was perhaps the first building for handling grain in Fountain, Warren, or Tippecanoe counties. Afterwards Peter Weaver turned the elevator over to Wm. Sherry, his son-in-law. At one time there were four families living near this elevator and the place was known as Fulton. It was almost opposite the island of the same name and was probably the oldest village in either Fountain, Warren or Tippecanoe counties.

Peter Weaver brought with him from Virginia two negro slaves named Ben and Ran. Mr. Weaver believed in slavery and considered the negroes his personal property. Soon after they came to Tippecanoe county there was an effort to steal the negroes. Mr. Weaver grew very angry and protected his property rights in the negro boys, with his musket if necessary. One of them died in Tippecaneo county and was buried in the Weaver graveyard. The other was taken to Missouri about the time the Civil War commenced.

Peter Weaver was very pronounced in his political views. He cast his first vote in Indiana for Jackson in 1828, and for years was identified with the Democratic party. During the Civil War he was so much in sympathy iwth the South that his son, Patrick H. Weaver, considered it unsafe for his to stay in Tippecanoe county any longer, and had him go to the home of his son, Mose Weaver, in Missouri and stay the entire winter.

At that time he was almost 90 years of age, yet he walked from his home in Missourt to the home of his son in Tippecanoe county and from there he walked to Culpepper county, Virginia, where he remained over witner with his twin brother. From Culpepper county, Virginia, he walked back to Tippecanoe county. These long walks, in spite of the fact he enjoyed them, so weakened him that he never entirely recovered from the effects, and died at the home of Patrick H. Weaver, in 1863, at the age of 96. He was buried in the Weaver graveyard in Wayne township, near the home of Mr. Lewis Clement.

Peter Weaver was not only the first settle in Fountain and Tippecanoe counties, but was perhaps more widely and favorably known among the early inhabitants than any man of the upper Wabash. He served several years as county commissioner and was at the front in all movements to bring about a betterment of conditions. He killed more deer, more rattlesnakes, more wolves and more bears and caught more fish and found more bee trees, and entertained in a hospitable manner more land-hunters, trappers, and traders than any private citizen between Vincennes and the mouth of the Salmonie river.

Patrick H. Weaver, the eldest son of Peter Weaver, was born in Culpepper county, Virginia, in 1803, and came with his father to the Wabash Valley in 1822. He was a stout, muscular man, 6 feet 4 inches, in his boots, and weighed over 200 pounds. January 26, 1829, he married Elsie Dimmitt, whose parents came from Tennessee and settled in Wayne county, Indiana, in the early part of the last century. During his early life he took an active part in politics and like his father, was a great hunter. While hunting he traveled over a large part of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, going as far north as Minneapolis and St. Paul. For many years he received as much money from his trapping and the chase as he did from the farm. He raised a company of 100 men to take part in the Black Hawk war, and was made captain of the company. Gen. Walker was in command. Col. Davis and Captain Weaver with his volunteers, mounted their war steeds and proceeded to join the army. A public meeting was held at the court house in Lafayette and 300 volunteers, mostly mounted men who furnished their own horses, left Lafayette and started for the Grand Prairie. Capt. Weaver with his troops marched to Sugar creek, Benton county, and stayed a few days, but finding no Indians they returned by order of Gen. Walker. Some of the men, however, proceeded farther on. Capt. Weaver took his horse and marched on to Chicago where he joined Gen. Scott and his troops. Some of these troops died of cholera, but Patrick H. was not affected. He took part in the battle of Blue Mound, where Black Hawk was defeated, and also in the battle on the banks of the Mississippi, nearly opposite Upland, Iowa, where Black Hawk was again defeated.

Capt. Weaver conducted a militia muster and drilled the young men on the south side of the Wea prairie. His uniform was a blue wool shirt with a red sash, and he wore epaulets. His large sword was fastened by his side, and on his hat a tall plume was waving in the wind. His company consisted of about 70 men who had relunctantly turned out to muster to avoid paying a fine. Some had corn stalks, some sticks, and a few had guns. The captain having some experience in the Black Hawk war, understood his business better than his men supposed. He gave his commands in a clear, ringing voice and showed his men the maneuvers of war. He located on a tract of 162 acres in Burnett's Reserve, and eventually owned 500 acres. He died October 16, 1890, after completing his 87th year, his wife having died Jan. 28, 1884.

Virgil and Samuel Weaver, well known farmers of Wayne township, Tippecanoe county, are great-grandsons of Peter Weaver, as are also Mark Whicker, of Attica, J.C. and Chester Whicker, of Lafayette, Wm. Whicker, of Iowa, and Mrs. Ella Andrews, of West Point, Ind. There are numerous other descendents of this worthy pioneer still living.

Altho I have here given credit to Peter Weaver as the first white settle to locate permanently in Warren, Fountain, or Tippecanoe counties, it should not be forgotten that Zachariah Cicot's father was a white man of pure French blood, and that he lived for many years and died where Independence, Warren county, is now located. Abraham Burnett, another Frenchman, also settled in Wabash township, Foutain county, and lived there for many years, having been killed, according to tradition, in one of the fights in this vicinity at the time of Gen. Chas. Scott's raid and the destruction of the Indian town of Ouiatenon in 1791, long before Peter Weaver came. These men however, cast their lot with the Indians, intermarried with them and held their land as Indians, so that their place in history is really with the Red Man.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001146
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

Information in this record is provided for personal research purposes only and may not be reproduced for publication. If you have questions about copyright issues contact the archive source listed above.