First, there is an error on the graveyard marker. It is Simeon, not Simon. This family graveyard was on the Simeon Lofton farm. It is now the Bodenbender farm on Beck's Mill Road (T1S, R3E, Sec.3). It is in the middle of a field back from the road across from the the house. In 1942, Genealogist Grace Marks wrote, "There are said to be 9 graves here. I could count only 5 at the date I visited here." These are the graves listed on the marker. Two of these "missing" graves may be of Simeon's children who died before him--Eliza Jane Lofton Lincoln 1833-1865 and Ester 1846-1860. All children are listed on his wife's memorial.
Listed on the marker, Thomas and Isaac Lofton were Simeon's uncles. Judah was the first wife of Isaac. The infant was his granddaughter, daughter of his eldest son, Thomas Lofton. Matilda was his wife.
I suspect but can't prove that Simeon's grandfather, Isaac Lofton Sr. 1745-1813 was also buried here. The three Lofton brothers--William, Issac, and Thomas--originally settled here and were later joined by their father.
Simeon's parents, William Lofton and Elizabeth Seals Lofton, moved to Illinois late in life and are buried there.
The outline of the foundation of the original Lofton cabin can be seen near the graveyard. It is reported that the cabin was moved to 4341 W. Frederickburg Road in the early 20th century. This is not true but later Loftons did live in that cabin which may have given rise to the story.
Simeon Lofton was the son of William Lofton and Elizabeth Seals Lofton. He was born about 1805 in Cabarrus Co., North Carolina. His family was in Indiana by 1810.
He married Matilda Voyles in 1830. Their children were: Thomas, Eliza J., Polly A., Harrison, Francis, Elizabeth, Sidney, Ester, Caroline and Alexander.
His estate was valued at $5,100 when he died. This was probably in addition to his farm. He died a relatively wealthy man.
On September 18, 1855, Simeon Lofton decided to go into Fredericksburg, Indiana to speak to his brother-in-law John Voyles about repayment of a $200 loan he had made to John. Simeon was 50 years old and a farmer. John Voyles was 37 years old and had a store on the Turnpike, now Rt. 150. It is likely that they had known each other most of John's life since Simeon married John's older sister in 1830.
The conversation turned into an argument. The argument turned into a confrontation. The confrontation turned into a fight. John Voyles ended up dead. I think it is fair to say that no one intended for it to end that way.
According to the testimony of the local doctor, “After his arrest by the officer, (Lofton) was brought into Voyles house. I remarked to him, ‘Sir, you have killed John.’ He said, ‘Yes, I see, I have, but I would not have done it, if I could have helped it.’ He also said, ‘I would give thribble (sic) of all I am worth if it had never occurred.’ He further said, ‘Would you let a man jump on to you and beat you, without defending yourself?’”
Simeon Lofton was charged with both murder and manslaughter. He was convicted of manslaughter, sentenced to two years, and briefly jailed before being released on parole. Then his conviction was overturned after a successful appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court. This was followed by two civil suits brought by his father-in-law Thomas Voyles on behalf of John Voyles’ estate and Cyrus Voyles who was John's underage son. The Voyles lost the first civil suit and won the second and were awarded $2,000. This was also successfully appealed and returned to the Washington County Circuit Court docket. Then in March 1863, the new civil trial was removed from the docket and no more was heard about the issue. Perhaps the Voyles and Loftons decided to settle out of court. Perhaps people were tired of it all. The various proceedings took nearly eight years ending in 1863. Also Thomas Voyles died in 1861 and perhaps his heirs had different ideas about what to do. It is not known if any damages were actually paid, but Simeon left a substantial estate.
In the records of the civil suit, witness testimony is recorded. There was a witness to the conversation in the Voyles store and several consistent witnesses to the fight. Here is what they said happened.
It is worth mentioning that four local men guaranteed significant bond for Simeon. Perhaps this can be seen as a vote of confidence by his community.
William Knowles said, “I was in the store of John Voyles, the day of his death. It was about the middle of the day. Voyles was lying on his counter when I went in. Lofton was there. Neither seemed to be angry when I went in. I heard Lofton say to Voyles, ‘Then it seems, Johnny, that you can not tell me when you can pay me.’ Voyles said, ‘I have told you, all I can do and all I will do.’ Just then, a child came into the store and Voyles got down, behind his counter, and went to his drawer to make some change for her. Lofton said, ‘Well, it seems hard, John, that after I have waited on you so long that I can not now get any money, when I really do need it.’ Voyles said in a sneering manner, ‘Yes, I do expect you do need it. I am afraid you will come on the County.’ Lofton then turned and started toward the door and as he did so, said, ‘If my money was all in the hands of such characters as you, there would be danger of it’ and walked out of the door. Voyles angrily said, ‘Damn you, you shan’t throw up character to me,’ pushed his drawer to, jumped over his counter, and followed him.”
Dr. John S. Ducante said, “When I first saw the parties, Lofton was standing on the Turnpike. I saw John Voyles approaching Lofton. They both seemed to be angry from the words that passed between them. I heard Voyles say to Lofton, ‘Times are very hard, but if you will wait till late in the fall, or Christmas I will be able to pay you all I owe you.’ Voyles further said, ‘You came to town the other day with a damned lie in your mouth, telling me that you owed Mr. Denton two hundred dollars, that he wanted his money, and you said that you must have what I owed you, to pay him. I asked Denton about it. He said that it was not so, but that he owed you two hundred dollars.’ Lofton remarked, ‘It’s a damned lie, John; he never told you any such thing.’”
Another witness said, “I saw Voyles come out of his store after Lofton, walking rapidly and came round in front, so as to face him. He was talking loud and angrily. He repeatedly called Lofton and (said) that he lied. Voyles grabbed at Lofton’s throat with one hand and struck him with the other. Lofton then drew a small, old, broken pocket knife and struck Voyles. Voyles then gathered brick bats and stones, which he threw at Lofton. Voyles died of the wounds he received in the fight from Lofton’s knife. Lofton expressed great sorrow at the occurrence and the act he had committed, and said it was only because he was ‘jumped on to’ so violently that it was the only alternative left to save himself. Voyles was a much younger man than Lofton, about the same size, but much more active and athletic. He was a quick active man about thirty years of age.”
According to the testimony of two doctors, John Voyles was stabbed twice, once very superficially. The second blow cut his aorta and he bled to death as a result.
Based on this, it seems very odd that a murder charge was ever made and manslaughter seems like a stretch. It seems like self-defense. Lofton wasn't the aggressor.
Simeon’s great-great-grandson remarked that if you want someone to really resent you, lend him money and expect it to be repaid.
The civil suit records are at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis.
Matilda Voyles Lofton
Gravesite Details This cemetery is back from the road a good distance and is in the middle of a cow field. There is a small sign on the gate.