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New Maysville - Part 2

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

We recently discussed the early history of New Maysville. We will now discuss some of the important events and people of this community.

The historic New Maysville cemetery lies in two separate parts divided by county road 900 north in sections 26 and 35 of Jackson Township, just east of New Maysville. The original part is on the north side of the road and began sometime after 1830 with the burial of a daughter of Wilson Warford. Located on the south side of county road 900 north, the new part began with the burial of Rev. James J. Elrod in 1858. This part was deeded to the New Maysville Cemetery Company by Harriet Long, widow of Dr. William Long, in 1880 and was originally the same size and dimensions as the old part. The heirs of Harriet Long deeded to the New Maysville Cemetery Company additional land in 1900 to bring the cemetery to the current size.

The New Maysville cemetery is the final resting place for over 900 people who lived in the community. Interred here are noteworthy pioneers and veterans of the Mexican American War, the Spanish American War, both Great Wars, Korea and others who served in peace time. This is the final resting place for Tilghman and Lydia Hanna, who were tragically killed in their sleep in 1861 and Daniel Higgins who died in an accident on the railroad in 1867.

To date, thirty-three people buried here lived into their nineties, led by husband wife Lucinda and John King, who lived to be 99 and 98, respectively. Not far behind were Jaily Lasley and Mable Underwood, who each lived to be 97.

The well-known pioneer physician, Dr. William Long, was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, October 28, 1810, his father and several brothers also being physicians. He came to Lafayette in 1833 to practice, then ventured to New Maysville in 1834 with $1 and a meager supply of medicines. Dr. Long described the country surrounding New Maysville at the time of his arrival as a “howling wilderness” with no roads, with travel on horseback limited to following blazed trails through the wilderness to visit his patients.

Dr. William Long married Harriet Gregory, daughter of Asa Gregory, on July 21, 1834, just a few months after setting up his medical practice in New Maysville. The couple had six children; John T., Anna, Tilda, Robert W., Alice, and Emma. He lived in New Maysville the rest of his life, practicing medicine until he retired in the late 1870’s due to poor health. The 1879 Putnam County Atlas described him as the largest man in the county, standing over six feet tall and weighing a good 300 pounds. Dr. Long died May 5, 1880.

Dr. Robert W. Long was the fourth child of Dr. William Long and his wife Harriet Gregory Long. He served in the 78th Indiana infantry in the Civil War, then practiced medicine with his father Dr. William Long for about ten years. After that time, he moved to Irvington, a suburb on the east side of Indianapolis, in 1875. Once in Irvington, Dr. Robert W. Long became a well-known and respected physician. Later in his career, Dr. Robert Long and his wife moved to 1115 Central Ave. in Indianapolis where he lived for the rest of his life. Dr. Long also became a shrewd and successful businessman. He became involved in real estate, and it was in this enterprise that his fortune was made.

Dr. Robert W. Long and his wife gave liberally to charities, ensuring that no youth they encountered go unfed or ill-clothed. They donated money to the State to build the Robert W. Long hospital on Michigan Street in Indianapolis, to be operated under the auspices of Indiana University. They donated three gifts totaling $345,000 (which would be over $10 million in today’s money) in the early 1900’s to erect the new hospital, a nurse’s home, the purchase of additional property, and the beautification of the grounds. After Dr. Long died on June 18, 1915, his wife Clara relocated from their Indianapolis home on Central Avenue to the upscale Marott Apartment Hotel at the intersection of Fall Creek Boulevard and Illinois St. She survived her husband by 27 years and spent her remaining life at that location.

Both Dr. William Long and his son Dr. Robert W. Long are buried in the New Maysville cemetery. Dr. William Long’s grave is on the north side of his son Dr. Robert W. Long’s grave. Dr. Robert W. Long’s tombstone is reported to be one of the largest in sheer size in Putnam County. His will gave specific instructions for his monument, which “Shall be placed upon a concrete foundation which shall extend at least six (6) feet below the top of the ground, and that said monument shall not be too tall, and shall cost from Fifteen Hundred Dollars ($1,500) to Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000), and be of the best stone.” [This would be about 70,000 to 100,000 in today’s money.] Further, he instructed that “I desire that my body be placed in the latest improved, copper-lined burial casket, and that the grave be prepared in the most improved way of cement constructed receptacles.”

After Dr. Robert Long died, his widow Clara would come from Indianapolis once a year to the New Maysville cemetery to pay her respects. She was driven to the cemetery by her driver, Big John, in a maroon Hudson. While Mrs. Long was meditating at her husband’s grave, Big John would plant some flowers in the large urns flanking the tombstone. When Mrs. Long was ready to leave, she would walk slowly to her Hudson automobile, and her driver would take her back home to Indianapolis. This apparently was an annual practice for years until her death in 1942. After that Big John would continue to travel to New Maysville several times each summer to tend to the flowers. After he died in the 1960’s, the urns were stolen and are no longer at the Long family gravesite.

One of the more unusual chain of events revolves around the Daniel Higgins and George Mullis families. Daniel Higgins (1828-1867) married Julia Case (1835-1913) on December 19, 1852 in Putnam County. They had several children, including John T. Higgins (1857-1923). George W. Mullis (1831-1872) married Lydia VanSant (1845-1868) on November 1, 1860 in Putnam County. They had one child, a daughter Leona (1863-1871). Daniel Higgins was tragically killed in a railroad accident in Ohio while transporting cattle by rail to New York on July 11, 1867.

George W. Mullis, a recent widower then married the newly widowed Julia Case Higgins on August 2, 1870, and the couple moved to Ladoga. On June 21, 1871, fourteen-year-old John T. Higgins shot, in an apparent accident, his eight-year-old stepsister Leona Mullis, who died from her wounds. Not long after George Mullis died in 1872, the twice widowed Julia Case Higgins Mullis came down with typhoid fever and became insane from this affliction. On October 24, 1894, fearing she was near death, the family apparently realized there was not adequate space to bury her near her first husband Daniel Higgins. In the middle of the night, several of her family members exhumed Daniel Higgins so his body could be moved, making way for his first wife Julia. As luck would have it, Julia lived another almost 20 years, and upon her death was buried by her first husband Daniel Higgins.

The respective Higgins and Mullis families are buried in the new part and the old part, respectively of the New Maysville cemetery, not far from each other as if the widowed spouses had never remarried and none of this drama had occurred. The only indication anything might be amiss is the inscription on the tombstone of Daniel Higgins, which states he was “Killed on the Railroad.”

Madison Keck, a Civil War veteran and an early resident of the New Maysville community had an interesting life. He was born in Tennessee in 1844. At the beginning of the Civil War, the Keck family was living in northeastern Tennessee north of Knoxville, not far from the Cumberland Gap. This area was heavily pro-Union. After the war began, Madison Keck along with his father and brother traveled to London, Ky. to enlist in the Union Army. Madison was sixteen at the time and lied about his age to enlist in the Union Army. As happened during the Civil War, some of the Keck cousins of Madison and his family lived further into Tennessee and enlisted in the Confederate Army. We could find no record of any battles where the opposing Keck factions fought against each other.

The Keck family history tells us about some of Madison’s Civil War experiences. He was involved in the Chickamauga campaign September 18 – 20, 1863. Private Madison Keck was wounded in the leg during the battle. It is believed he found shelter with an African American family who helped nurse him back to health. When he was well enough to walk, he caught up with his unit. Initially, he had been declared AWOL from his unit after the Chickamauga battle. (It was not uncommon for inexperienced troops to flee when under heavy fire.) After rejoining his battalion, he was restored to service by a presidential proclamation from President Lincoln.

While in service, he had been wounded and taken prisoner, being held for seven days without food or water, in an old building with a barbed wire enclosure. Guards would shoot any of the prisoners who crawled under the fence. Fortunately, they were exchanged in a short time for other prisoners. Private Madison Keck served four years in the Civil War.

After being discharged from the army, he married Deborah Steele Oct. 26, 1865. To this union ten children were born, seven sons and three daughters. In 1890 the family migrated from Kentucky to Indiana, settling in Putnam County in the New Maysville community and living in a log cabin on Ground Squirrel Road (now CR 1050 N near 675 E) about a mile and a half north of New Maysville where he lived the rest of his life. The Keck family log cabin burned down in 2007 or 2008.

A few miles west of New Maysville in southwestern Jackson Township sits an historic stone house. The house was believed to have been built in 1831 by William and Alexander Hillis from limestone quarried from the farm. Noted Putnam County artist Elisha Cowgill made a painting of this home in the early 1900’s, titling it as “Unknown Home.” This painting is currently hanging in the Putnam County Museum.

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