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K_boodle (#47177253)
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Gaye Hill
Vincent L Beem
Seymour Daily Republican newspaper, Seymour, IN
Wednesday 30 August 1916;Front Page, Column 2 - with photo


Vincent L. Beem, 90 Years Old, Tells Story of Early Days at Old Fort Vallonia


Enjoys Best of Health, Living Alone in Nineteen Room House, Doing All His Own Work

The eventful life of Vincent L. Beem, of Medora, spans a period during which Indiana has emerged from an unbroken wilderness to a State of agricultural, commercial and industrial wealth. He is one of the real pioneers of the Hoosier Commonwealth and is a splendid example of that rugged physique which was typical of the sturdy settlers who undertook the task of establishing their homes in the new Territory.

Mr. Beem will soon be 90 years old. He lives a unique life. He lives alone in a nineteen-room house, cooks his own meals regularly and, unassisted, looks after all the duties of the household. He is remarkably active and vigorous for one of his years and attributes his excellent health to his method of living. He takes pride in the fact that he has never smoked or used tobacco in any form and does not touch any kind of alcoholic liquors. He says simple living is most conducive to longevity of life. He is an ardent Democrat and believes that the Democratic principles of government are necessary for public welfare as is food for the sustenance of life.

Mr. Beem is probably the only person living who has seen the old fort at Vallonia. He recalls that as a boy he frequently visited the blockhouse which protected the soldiers and oftentimes the few families of the community from the depredations and outrages of the hostile Indians.

He was born September 14, 1827, and while the Indians had departed from this section of the territory before that time, he recalls that the old blockhouse was not torn down until late in the thirties. He had a peculiar attachment for the old fort, for it was there that his father and mother were united in marriage. His father was Michael Beem, a Captain of a company of Federal soldiers sent to Fort Vallonia in 1811 to protect the settlers. His mother was Polly Lockman, a native of Kentucky. She came to the settlement at Vallonia with her parents when she was a girl. The young officer and the girl met soon after he assumed command of the fort and after a brief courtship they were married, the ceremony taking place during the early winter of 1811.

A Spanish coin, which was presented to his father and mother on their wedding day by a friend who rode horseback from Kentucky to attend the wedding festivities, is in the possession of Mr. Beem. It bears the date of 1811 and was probably bright and new when it was given to the young Captain and his bride. Mr. Beem keeps the coin in a small sack made of deer skin which was taken from a deer shot by his father in this locality.

Mr. Beem delights to talk about the early days of his career and gives some hitherto unknown information concerning the construction and arrangement of the famous old fort at Vallonia. He describes it as a log building, probably twenty-five feet long and fifteen or twenty feet wide. It was constructed of split logs with the rounding surfaces on the outside. The timbers were hewn by skilled hands, and he says they were almost as smooth and even as if they had been planed. The logs were held together by heavy girders near the top and bottom. Each log fits tightly in a carefully cut groove in the girder and was secured with a heavy wooden pin which was forced through both the logs and the girder. The roof, he remembers, was made of bark which was stripped from trees which surrounded the blockhouse. At different places in the walls were a number of port holes through which the guns could be fired in case of attack by the savages. These port holes were covered by heavy boards when not in use.

Surrounding the fort was the stockade, which was also made of logs. These were well anchored in the ground and were about five of six feet high. The logs in the stockade stood close together for a considerable distance around the fort and sheltered the horses and other stock of the settlers when they sought protection within the building. The stockade, of course, was also an additional protection for the fort.

Mr. Beem said that, as a boy, he was interested in how those within the fort secured water, for he had heard his father relate the were compelled to remain inside for days at a time when the savages kept up their attacks. One day while on a visit to the old building a trapdoor over a creek which flowed under the floor, was pointed out to him. The site of the fort was selected because of the presence of running water there. Directly under the trapdoor was a small basin curbed with timbers from which the defenders dipped their water supply when they were unable to leave the building.

Mr. Beem's father was in command of the company of soldiers who chased the bands of Indians into Northern Indiana after they had murdered a settler named Sturgeon. The murder took place near Vallonia, when Sturgeon was returning to the fort from the woods. The body was found by the soldiers concealed in a clump of bushes by the side of the road. The chase continued for days, but the savages eluded the soldiers, who followed the trail through the underbrush for miles.

Mr. Beem smiled when he talked about the marketing conditions during his boyhood days. He recalled that James Burky married a girl who possessed a fortune of $400 in cash. With part of this wealth Burky opened a store near Vallonia and supplied the settlers for miles around. Fred Burky, a son of the pioneer merchant, now lives in Salem and is an intimate friend of Mr. Beem.

The aged man recalls that the storekeeper offered him and his mother a premium of a stick of candy for carrying the largest number of eggs from their homes to the store. The contest was often spirited. The dealer gave them 2 1/2 cents a dozen, and in return charges 25 cents a yard for calico. At that time the woods abounded in deer, wild turkey and other game.

Mr. Beem was born within two miles of the place where he now lives. Forty-six years ago he moved from his farm to Medora and opened a hotel. Several years ago he disposed of the business and, with his wife, moved to a small cottage about a block away. Because of his wide acquaintance with the traveling public, however, many traveling men insisted on spending the night at his house and because of the demands he added to his cottage from time to time until he had a house of nineteen rooms.

Mrs. Beem died several years ago, but her husband remains at the big house alone. He has two living daughters, Mrs. Robert Irwin, of this city, and Mrs. Maude Wray, of Kansas City. He also has three grandchildren. He refuses all invitations to move from his home and seldom spends a night away from the house.
Added by Gaye Hill on Sep 11, 2014 8:54 AM
Zeda Smedley Steele
I really appreciate all of the transfers you sent me. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with. Thank you. Zeda
Added by Zeda Smedley Steele on Jun 10, 2014 10:37 AM
Zeda Smedley Steele
RE: Smedleys
Yes, that would be very nice. Thank you. Zeda
Added by Zeda Smedley Steele on Jun 07, 2014 4:21 PM
Joy Dupy
RE: George Washington
Oh wow! That would thrill me so much. Thank you!!
Added by Joy Dupy on Jun 05, 2014 7:54 PM
Leslie Lewis
Anna Starkweather
Got your edit suggestion for Anna Starkweather and just wanted to check in. Do you have something that shows her surname? There's a lot of stuff floating around out there about the early Starkweathers and I really want to be carefully with documentation. Any help appreciated.
Added by Leslie Lewis on May 31, 2014 11:53 PM
Lady Nic
Information added to bio. Thanks!
Added by Lady Nic on Feb 17, 2014 2:50 PM
RE: Flora Belle Hirby McDill
I just sent you an email.
Added by cdapvd on Jan 31, 2014 6:53 AM
Flora Belle Hirby McDill
Hey, Flora Belle Hirby was my 1st cousin twice removed. Her father was my great-grandmother's brother. I have a lot of history done on the Hirby / Herbe family and photos if you'd like to see them. It'd be great to know you... Kind regards, Daniel
Added by cdapvd on Jan 29, 2014 12:02 PM
Zeda Smedley Steele
Thanks for your help.
Added by Zeda Smedley Steele on Nov 23, 2013 9:27 AM
Zeda Smedley Steele
Update for Memorials
I want to thank you for creating Memorials for David L and Ida Mae Smedley #54645156 and #54645390 and several of their children. They are my Grandparents. Would you please add my dad, Elzie Smedley #81072282. He was the sixth one in the family. The correct spelling for Uncle Tom #54661608 is Yuell Adell. There are only four more to find and then all of Grandma's children will be home. Thank you for your help.
Added by Zeda Smedley Steele on Nov 22, 2013 12:37 PM
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