Elijah Ensminger

          The family of this name were among the first settlers to reach Shelby county, and their descendants have been among the county's best citizens. When  John M. and  Margaret (Ballard) Ensminger  left their native state of Vermont it was an undertaking of great danger and hardship to make the long trip to the western wilderness; the traveling was by horseback or wagon most of the way, with an occasional lift by boat when they reached a lake or river, and the roads were merely trails or traces.  So, very weary and worn out were these New Englanders when they reached their objective point in Shelby county, and gloomy were the prospects of establishing a home.  However, the early pioneer was nothing if not stronghearted, and John M. and Margaret Ensminger had the Yankee pluck that plucked success many times from the thorns of adversity.  Locating first in Liberty, they soon moved on to Moral township, finding it necessary to blaze a trail to the wild land they had selected in the southeastern part of the township.  They took hold, however, with the genuine pioneer never and soon had things "whipped into shape" for an abiding place, and there they labored, suffered and struggled until their earthly careers ended.  Their children in order of birth were  Elijah,  Caroline,  Adeline,  George W.,  Sarah,  Catherine M.,  William  and  James M.   Sarah, who died June 12, 1909, resided at London, this county.  William, who is a farmer in Brandywine township, is now the only survivor.
          Elijah Ensminger, the eldest of the family, was born in Liberty township, Shelby county, Indiana, August 23, 1834.  As there was nothing then but an occasional subscription school, conducted on the "boarding around" plan, his education was necessarily limmited, but he made up the deficiency in after life by reading and was regarded as a well informed man.  He remained on the farm with his parents until his marriage, July 27, 1862, to Lenie, a daughter of  Joseph O. and  Matilda (Harrell) Oldham.  Her father was born in Kentucky June 1, 1824, and his wife on November 29, 1828.  Joseph was a son of   John and  Margaret (Floyd) Oldham, who settled on Blue river in 1834, and died there in the late forties.  Matilda Harrell was a daughter of  Baron and Sarah Oldham (Pertle) Harrell.  Joseph O. Oldham died April 14, 1865, and his wife on October 15, 1885. They lived the quiet life on the farm, were faithful to all their duties, members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and worthy citizens in every way.  Lenie, their eldest child, was born in Brandywine township, May 6, 1844.  Sidney A., now deceased, was the wife of  Thomas Linville, and the mother of ten children. Granville L. is a practicing physician at Columbus, Indiana.  John Q. is a resident of Shelbyville. Mary, who is the wife of  John J. Totten, resides in Brandywine township.  After his marriage Elijah Ensminger lived in Brandywine township for three years and then took possession of the farm in Moral township, where he resided until the time of his death, which occurred September 6, 1902. When he bought his little farm of fifty acres it was practically unimproved, being compelled to take his family into an old log cabin that had long been an abode for owls and bats.  Elijah Ensminger, however, was a sturdy man, and one not easily discouraged, so he set doggedly to work to better his condition.  There was much deadening, much grubbing, much log-rolling necessary, to say nothing of the hard work connected with putting in the annual crops.  He was equal to all emergencies, and by and by had a well cultivated farm, with a comfortable house to live in. Still better, he increased his holdings from time to time until he had one hundred twenty acres of fine farming land to show for his toil and industry extending over thirty-seven years.  During all this time he had a strong helpmeet [sic] in the person of his wife, who had the pioneer spirit and stuck to her husband loyally through all his trials and tribulations, his joys and his sorrows.  If there ever was a self-made man it was Elijah Ensminger, and he richly deserved all that he laid up as it came to him as the result of many a day of toil and many a night of anxiety.  His reward was his home, the love of a good wife, dutiful children, and the esteem of every citizen in his community.  He was a man of quiet habits, strictly devoted to his farming interests and though a Democrat by conviction, was never known to seek office.  He was reared in the Methodist church and was a consistent member of the same throughout his entire life.  Mr. and Mrs. Ensminger became the parents of three children:  John M., married  Ida May Harrell, and their children are:  Jessie PearlAlta,  Ethel B.,  May,  Hazel O.  and  Josie CarolineWilliam T. married  Eddie Weaver, and has an adopted daughter named  Lizzie.  Minnie C. is the wife of  David H. Tucker, a resident of London, has three children, Roy O., Bertha Fern, and  Fred Benjamin.  Mrs. Ensminger was a charming lady, a true wife, a devoted mother and a good neighbor, as is attested by all who came in contact with her during her long residence in Brandywine township.
Chadwick's History of Shelby County, Indiana by Edward H. Chadwick, B.A., assisted by well known local talent, B.F. Bowen & Co, Publishers: Indianapolis, IN, 1909, pp 967-9.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming

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