(Written in 1940s by Anna Laura Brown) Thomas Stites Hand, my father, was three and one-half years old and one of the five children who came with their parents by covered wagon train from Cape May County, New Jersey, to Floyd County, Indiana. There were seven families that came by covered, wagon train. Five families were named Hand but were no close relation. My father could not remember the names of the other two families. The site of the original homestead is now known as the Fred Ramsier farm on Daisy Lane. (Recently the ground has been sold in four building sites and the remainder of the ground belonging to WKL0 Broadcasting Station). At that time they could hear wolves howling and often see panther and wild deer near the house. My son, Homer Alva Brown, has in his possession an antique powder horn, that his grandfather(My father) made from one of his cows' horns. My father carried this powder horn when he killed several wild deer on his father's place. Besides being a farmer, my father was a shoemaker, a cooper and a teamster. He helped in cutting trees and clearing the ground in New Albany, Indiana, where the business section is now located at Spring, Pearl and State Streets, where the Court House, Jail, Post Office and Elsby Building stand today.
On March 9, 1837, he married Julia Ann D. Hunter (she was a native of Clark County, Indiana). He bought a two hundred acre farm located on the Grant Line Road and Monon Railroad which is known as the Coffman farm. The land was purchased at two dollars per acre, and was a part of the Illinois Grant. [editor, see note following] When he moved from the farm, he sold it to Jonah Coffman, who was a nephew of Margaret Matilda Nicholson [ed. Thomas Stites' third wife].He built a log cabin and outbuildings from the logs he cut and hewed from the trees from his farm. He was a very prosperous farmer, raised all kinds of vegetables, grain, fowl, live stock and honey bees.
He was known as the best cradler in Floyd County. He helped in cutting trees and clearing the ground for Mt. Tabor Cemetery. The families worshipped at the Third Presbyterian Church in New Albany under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Charles Hutchinson, until the Presbyterian Church built Mt. Tabor Church (The Evergreens at the left of the entrance of the Cemetery today, were placed there by the descendants in memory of Thomas Stites Hand in 1949).
My father donated money toward the building fund and helped build this first Mt. Tabor Church A. D. 1838 whore he and his family were charter members. He was buried from this church and interred in the church cemetery. Dr. Hutchinson officiated for the funeral services. The following is taken from a newspaper clipping at the time of his death .. "Thomas Hand, one of the old and highly esteemed residents of Floyd County, died at 9 o'clock Sunday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Harry Brown, at North Park. Deceased was 82 years of age having been born at Cape May, Now Jersey in 1815. He has resided in this county for years, all of which time he spent in genoral usefulness to himself and the community. He leaves two daughters and six sons and one brother, the latter being 92 years of age and enjoying good health. The departed was a member of the Third Presbyterian Church and the funeral will take place from Mt. Tabor Church" (Mt. Tabor was under the supervision of the Third Presbyterian Church.)
Footnote 1 from Wikipedia August 1, 2017:
During the American Revolutionary War, George Rogers Clark led the militia of Virginia in capturing a large part of the Illinois Country as part of the Illinois Campaign. Land was offered as an incentive to adventurers to sign up as soldiers and join the expedition. After the war ended, as a reward, Virginia granted the soldiers and officers land to make good their promise.
The grant was made by the legislature of Virginia on January 2, 1781, offering them land on the northwest side of the Ohio River. A commission of officers from the group was created and they were granted the right to choose any 150,000 acres (610 km2) within the defined region. They chose a tract across the Ohio River opposite from Louisville, Kentucky, a settlement Clark had founded during the war. Their land included all of present-day Clark County, Indiana, as well as part of the surrounding counties. The group took part in land speculation and they ultimately purchased the rights to a large part of southern Indiana. Early settlements in the grant included Clarksville and Jeffersonville.
Clark himself was still owed a vast sum of money for helping to finance the campaigns which was never repaid to him during his life. Most of his land was taken from him by creditors, and he died nearly penniless and handicapped from injuries he sustained after the war. Virginia finally repaid most of his debt several years after his death. Clark's Grant was the basis of the establishment of the first American settlements in the modern state of Indiana. The land was allotted during 1784. Clark himself received the largest tract, containing over 8,000 acres (32 km2). Officers were also granted large tracts, and the 236 privates each were given a 108-acre (0.44 km2) tract. The sergeants were each given tracts of 216 acres (0.87 km2). Higher-ranking officers were given progressively larger tracts. Each person was given one or more large tracts in the countryside, and one smaller tract. The smaller tracts were grouped together around the entire grants and were intended to become settlements. It was hoped that the soldiers would build their homes on the small tracts that were near together, and sell or farm the larger tracts granted to them in the countryside. There was some controversy over the grant, because privates were promised at least 300-acre (1.2 km2) tracts at the start of the war as reward.
1. English, p. 833
2. English, p. 850
3.English, p. 855
English, William Hayden (1896). Conquest of the Country Northwest of the River Ohio, 1778-1783, and Life of Gen. George Rogers Clark. 1&2. Indianapolis: Bowen-Merrill.