History center recognizes pioneer family during annual meeting

BROWNSTOWN

A Revolutionary War veteran’s route to Jackson County is similar to one many made after they fought to free this country from Great Britain’s rule in the late 1770s and early 1780s.

Thomas Prather was born March 26, 1756, in Prince George, Maryland, but was living in Mulberry Fields, North Carolina, in September 1776 when he enlisted as a private. He would serve with various North Carolina troops until he completed his service in October 1781.

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Prather then lived in Henry County, Virginia, and Fleming County, Kentucky, before moving to Jackson County in 1817.

His pension as a Revolutionary War veteran was executed April 4, 1832, and he still was a resident of Jackson County.

The approval of that pension and the information contained in the application are the basis for a First Family Award his descendants recently received from the Jackson County History Center.

First Family Awards are given to families who can prove their earliest ancestor settled in Jackson County before 1820.

“The rest of it was easy from his children all the way down to my father, Bob Prather, who was the owner of Prather’s Market on North Pine Street,” Daniel Prather of Noblesville said of his research.

Prather said he has spent a lot of time on genealogy over the years and had most of the information he needed for the application process before he started.

By being named a First Family, the Prather family joins a list of more than 50 families on the center’s list of Pioneer Families, which includes three other categories: Founder (1821 to 1850), Settlers (1851 to 1880) and Builders (1881 to 1910).

Prather accepted the award for his family, which includes sister Tracie Lane of Seymour, who also attended the dinner, and Patsy Mize of Madison and Linda Reichenbacker of Seymour, who were not able to attend.

Bill Day, the center’s president, said the Prather family history used to complete the application process will now join more than 900 in the center’s genealogy library.

“So if you want to research your family, the chances are you might find it already has been done if you come down and look in the library,” Day said.

A Settler Family Award also was scheduled to be given to Ruth Ann Hendrix, but she was unable to attend the program. Hendrix’s ancestor was Gerard Frederick Newkirk.

There were no recipients of the Founder Family and Builder Family categories this year. The list of First Family honorees is now 21 with the addition of the Prathers, and there are now seven Settler Family honorees with the addition of Hendrix’s family. The Founder Family list stands at 24 with those announced, and there are three Builder Families.

Besides the food provided by Stahl’s Cafe & Deli, one of the highlights of the evening was a performance of old-time music.

Freetown native Larry Wayt, playing the guitar and singing vocals, led the group, which also featured Jim Wendell from Metamora on the harmonica, Bill Davenport of Louisville, Kentucky, on the mountain dulcimer and Eric Jarboe of North Vernon on the hammer dulcimer and fiddle. Wayt now lives in Richmond.

Each of the musicians gave brief talks about the instruments they were playing.

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The Jackson County History Center is at the corner of Walnut and Sugar streets in Brownstown.

It is operated by volunteers and supported by donations and fundraising projects.

The office and genealogical library are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays.

The museums and pioneer village are open from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tours can be arranged at other hours by appointment by calling 812-358-2118.

Information also may be found by searching Jackson County History Center of Indiana on Facebook.

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