GREENSBURG – Today will wind-up the conversations with Gene McCoy. It's been a grand experience to learn more about the history of Fugit Township, Decatur County and the family histories. I forgot to include last week that when they concreted the road to Kingston they didn't put the extra height on the outside curves and going around a flat curve caused accidents. Gene said banking the curves makes auto turns easier because of slope.
You may know that the Rev. Benjamin M. Nyce of Fugit Township in Decatur County was first man to apply refrigeration to the storage of fruit. One capitalist offered him $100,000 dollars for the patent rights for the city of New York, and $250,000 was reported to have been offered him for the Louisiana concessions. He declined all offers, but eventually failed in business. Nyce's initials are carved on a brick on the east side of the front door of Gene's grandfather Hamilton's home and where Gene and his family lived. He was staying there while working on refrigeration and the initials B N are still there. In later years, the ice house was moved from the George Hamilton home to the Thomas Hamilton farm and eventually torn down.
Gene's ancestor William McCoy was born in Sutherlandshire, Scotland, in 1730; he came to America in 1772 with family to the east shore of Maryland. They later settled in Kentucky, but because of opposition to slavery they came to Decatur County as it was being opened for settlement along with the Hamilton and Donnell families.
The Whitewater Presbytery met at the Kingston Presbyterian Church and one of the outcomes was the start of Hanover College as a Presbyterian College. Three of the families that started Kingston Presbyterian Church in 1823 were the McCoy, Hamilton and Donnell families. Until a year or so ago, the three families held a tri-family reunion each year at the church.
That reminds me that another Fugit Township resident, Bill Fee's Kentucky ancestor, abolitionist John G. Fee, started Berea College in 1855.
By the way, if you go to the Kingston Presbyterian Church site on the Internet you can see and hear Margaret and Ed Parker talking about the church and some outstanding photos.
Gene's grandfather Hamilton would go by railroad to Kansas to purchase cattle, ship them to McCoy Station and then drive them from McCoy Station to the Hamilton home in Kingston. Gene raised cattle on a much larger scale than did his ancestors and sold some one year to Eli Lily. Gene thinks they were researching how some medicines were digested.
There was an ice house on the Hamilton farm that sat on one corner of a pond that was on the property. They kept ice all year because they padded the ice with sawdust.
I wonder how many of you remember when there was a beautiful evergreen tree standing at the LaBolt Motel on Lincoln Street in Greensburg? In 1971, Mrs. David Scheidler was elected president of the newly formed association of Decatur County Christmas, FISH, at the group's meeting in the Decatur County Memorial Hospital cafeteria. Gene was elected vice president and Mrs. Steven Howard, secretary. Plans were made for a special tree to be placed on the courthouse lawn at Christmas. The tree would be a Chrismon tree, a tree bearing Christian symbols of gold and white.
The courthouse lawn didn't work out, but the LaBolt family gave permission for the tree to stand by their motel. Chrismons are Christmas decorations with Christian symbols on them. They help Christians to remember that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus's birthday. They are often used on Christmas trees in churches and Christian homes. Gene said the tree got too big and several churches developed their own Chrismon tree. Gene said that was the beginning of the churches in Decatur County coming together in fellowship.
Some years ago, when Gene, Linda and their two daughter visited the Indiana Historical Museum, they learned that the corn shock tool patented by Wm. McCoy was part of a traveling exhibit titled "Amazing Maze." I mentioned the tool in the first column about the McCoy family.
Gene is, as far as I know, the only surviving member of the Historical Society of Decatur County.
I especially thank Gene McCoy, George Morgan, Greg Meyers at the library, and everyone who helped with these columns. I can hardly wait to share with you what I've learned about another landmark in our county!
Decatur County resident Pat Smith may be contacted via this publication at email@example.com.