Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many counties, in this area, at least, had old settler or pioneer groups who met annually to socialize. Many times, some rule would apply stating that the persons had to live in the county by a certain year in order to join.
The DeKalb County History 1837 - 1987 described the local group on page 1389:
"The Pioneers' Association of DeKalb County was formed in 1878 and held its first meeting at Auburn on July 4, 1878. Any person who was a citizen of DeKalb County prior to January 1, 1846, was eligible to belong.
Annual meetins were held on July 4 of each year, usually at groves near Auburn. A "semicentennial" was held on June 21, 1883, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the county. The meeting was held at St. Joe with General William Blair as the principal orator.
The association continued into the 1900's. The records of the association would be useful to historians, but unfortunately they have not been found. Newspaper accounts of meetins are sometimes useful."
It's likely that John Leighty (original owner of the 1885 history book) and son, Jacob, would certainly participate as some of the earliest settlers in Dekalb County, Indiana. Pressed between the pages of the 1885 history was this ribbon from one of the pioneers' meetings.
Perhaps the rules were changed by this time and to be a member of this group, one would have to be in the county between the years 1835 - 1865? The Leightys certainly qualified as they moved to Dekalb County in 1844. The association meetings moved all around the county, I have read, but this particular one was right in the town founded by the Leighty's, St. Joe, and apparently there was quite a crowd.
The Waterloo Press covered the meeting in their paper of June 22, 1905:
"OLD SETTLERS MEETING
HELD AT ST. JOE LAST WEEK THURSDAY
Next Year at Houlton's
Hon. R. M. Lockhart Chosen President and H. K. Leas, Secretary of the Old Settlers Association.
The annual meeting of the old settlers of Dekalb county held at St. Joe on Thursday last week was a decided success. The citizens of that enterprising town made every preparation possible to make the day an enjoyable one. Hundreds of flags and banners were displayed on nearly every business house and dwelling in the town. The attendance was large, the register showing 271 old settlers from every part of the county which was the largest number that has been in attendance for a number of years.
The meeting was held in Widney's opera house, which was tendered by the owner at no cost. Excellent band and vocal music was furnished and enjoyed by all.
The committee on arrangements had made ample provision for tables for all who had come with lunch baskets and they furnished free tea and coffee for all who desired it. Many of the citizens of the town entertained their friends who came from a distance.
In the afternoon, a number of addresses were made by the old settlers in attendance, after which various committee reports were made. R. M. Lockhart, of Waterloo, made an appeal for holding the next meeting the third Tuesday, in June, 1906, in the Houlton grove, six miles north of Butler, and two miles southeast of Hamilton. The place is well known by every old settler of the county as being the home of John Houlton and wife, who built the first log cabin in Dekalb county, on September 4, 1833, three years before any other white family made a settlement in the county.
The committee decided unanimously for holding the meeting at that place.
The committee on nominations selected the following officers for the coming year: for president, R. M. Lockhart, of Waterloo; for vice-president, Wm. L. Houlton, of Hamilton; secretary, H. K. Leas, of Waterloo; treasurer, O. H. Taylor; biographer, O. H. Widney, St. Joe. All of the officers are excellent men and the net meeting is already assured to be a success."
|John Houlton, first settler in Dekalb County, Indiana|