Hon. George C. Thacher, Shelbyville
Among the offspring of the early and hardy pioneers
of the Western wilds, find men of vigorous thought and forcible character --- men who have filled high stations
with honor and fidelity. The subject of this sketch is a fair representative of this class of men, whose
sires made their homes in Shelby Co. at a time when it was a vast wilderness of forest, with but here and there
a partially cleared farm, and when wild game, disporting among the huge trunks of the primitive woods, were more
plentiful than domestic cattle. Such were the scenes surrounding the spot where George C. Thacher
was born was born, Oct. 17, 1839, and where to-day his palatial residence attracts the eye of every passer. The
family are of English origin; two brothers coming from England, one of whom settled in Massachusetts, the other
being shipwrecked on an island in the Atlantic, which received his name, and is yet known as "Thacher's Island."
The grandfather of George C. was an importer and trader, who, during the war of 1812, lost an immense fortune
in the capture of his vessels by the British. He lived at Dartmouth, Mass., and there was born David Thacher,
Sept. 14, 1797, who grew to manhood and received his education in Boston. He was married at Milton, Del.,
Dec. 25, 1825 to Amelia A. Conwell, a native of that city, born Sept. 28, 1806, and daughter of George
and Hannah Conwell, of that State. Soon after marriage, David Thacher moved to Philadelphia and engaged
in merchandising, which he followed in that city until 1830, when he came to Shelbyville, Ind., where he still
continued in business as a merchant until the financial crisis of 1837, at which time he lost the earnings of many
years. In 1840, he purchased the Shelby Recorder, and
in 1846 changed its name to The Volunteer, in honor of the soldiers who
went into the Mexican war. In 1851, he was elected Associate Judge of the Circuit Court, which he filled
until the re-organization of that court. He carried on The Volunteer,
successfully until 1856, when on account of failing health he was compelled to dispose of the paper and retire
from active business. Politically, he was ever a true-blue champion of Democracy, and was one of the leaders
of his party in Shelby Co. for many years. He died Dec. 10, 1856, his widow surviving him many years, dying
Feb. 22, 1878. Both were life-long members of the M.E. Church, and did all in their power to help along Christianity
in Shelby Co. Mrs. Thacher was a woman whose kindness and liberality to the poor and afflicted were well
known, and whose Christian spirit was so largely illustrated by practical charity, that she will long be remembered
and spoken of in words of love and reverence. George C. is the sixth of a family of seven children, and he
and Eliza M. Toner, the widow of George W. Toner, are the only survivors of the family. His
youth was spent in Shelbyville, and here he attended school as much as his delicate health in early youth would
permit. In the spring of 1856, he went to Washington D.C., receiving an appointment under Commissioner Thomas
A. Hendricks as clerk in the General Land Office, he being the youngest clerk at that time in the Government
employ. While in Washington, he improved his spare moments by diligent study, reciting his lessons to Hon.
Thomas S. Hendricks, who kindly looked after young Thacher's interests while there. In April, 1861,
he returned to Shelbyville and settled up his father's estate, and in April, 1862, opened a grocery store in No.
1 Ray House, where he has since carried on a large and successful business. In politics, he has always been
an uncompromising Democrat, and has been twice Chairman of the Democratic Central Committee of Shelby Co. In
1844, he was elected as joint Representative from the counties of Shelby and Hancock, and in 1866 was chosen by
Shelby Co. to represent her in the State Legislature, and received the unanimous vote of his part for Speaker of
the House. At the expiration of his term in the Legislature, he was offered the Senatorial nomination for
the counties of Shelby and Bartholomew, but declined. in 1868, he was appointed by the County Auditor as
a Trustee of the Public School, and was re-elected twice by a Republican Council to fill the same station, declining
a third re-election. The two first years he was Treasurer of the Board, and was President seven years; and
by his fine executive ability and good financial management, on retiring, left the school in a flourishing condition
and free from debt. Mr. Thacher is a Knight Templar of the Masonic order, and in 1876 was G.M. of Shelby
Lodge, No. 28, since which time he has been acting Treasurer of the Lodge. In 1877, he erected the finest
residence in Shelby Co., on the very spot where he first saw the light and where his parents settled in the woods
over half a century ago. His main object in doing so was to give his mother a comfortable home in her declining
years, but death intervened, and she did not live to see it finished. In 1878, his business house was enlarged,
and is now 100 feet long, extending from the public square to Franklin street. By energy and close attention
to business, he soon built up a large trade, which has increased from year to year until to-day his city trade
is as large, if not the largest, of any grocery house in Shelbyville; and he does a general wholesale and retail
business such as few houses can boast of in this or any other city of its size in Indiana. He is well known
in Shelby Co., and keeps an immense stock of the finest goods in his line in this portion of the State. Mr.
Thacher is undoubtedly one of the most successful of Shelby Co.'s business men, and the secret of his success has
been that he gave his undivided attention to what he had in hand, and by his business integrity won and retained
the confidence of his customers. He is a man of quiet, unassuming manners, pleasant and agreeable in conversation,
and can safely be classed among the most enterprising and public-spirited citizens of Shelbyville.
Atlas of Shelby Co., Indiana, Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co, 1880, pgs 35-36.
Copied by Phyllis Miller Fleming
THE SHELBY DEMOCRAT
February 13, 1879
VOL. 1; No. 37
from the article, SMILING SHELBYVILLE!
Hon. George C. Thacher
Was born in the month of October, 1839, in an old frame house, the present site of his new and elegant dwelling.
When only eleven years of age he commenced learning the printing business in the office of his father, David Thacher,
who was for many years editor and proprietor of the then prosperous Volunteer, at that time one of the most prominent
Democratic weekly papers in Southern Indiana. He continued in this business until the year 1855. In
the spring of 1856 he received an appointment under Commissioner Thomas A. Hendricks, late Governor of this State,
to a clerkship in the General Land Office, at Washington City, which position he filled with great credit to himself
and his friends and to the entire satisfaction of all concerned for the period of five years. In 1861 he
returned to his native home, and in 1862, with the savings from his salary while in the Land Office, purchased
a stock of groceries, and embarked in a general grocery and provision trade in the room he now occupies. He
has, by his close attention to business and untiring efforts to please, built up a very large trade, which has
increased from year to year, until now he does a business such as few houses in his line can boast of in this or
any other city. His rapidly increasing trade made it necessary to enlarge his storeroom, and in August, 1878,
he had an addition of fifty feet added to his already large room, making it one hundred feet long, extending from
No. 1 Jackson House, on the Public Square, to No. 3 Franklin street. The room was refitted with all the modern
improvements for the grocery busniess, such as tea and spice chests, coffee and sugar bins, coffee and spice mills,
etc., etc., and he now has a store room that, in that line ranks first among those of the State.
Having been reared among the strife and turmoil of politics, it is not strange, that he should have a desire to still further indulge in the fascinating excitement with which all true politicians are surrounded. In 1861, he was elected Joint Representative in the Legislature from Shelby and Hancock counties, and served so acceptably that he was nominated and elected as local Representative from this county in 1866. He was honored with the vote of his party for Speaker of the House of Representatives, but his party being in the minority that winter in the Legislature, he was defeated. After serving his term of office he declined a re-election, and has since devoted himself to his business. Mr. Thacher still takes great interest in politics and any matter that is likely to prove of advantage to the city and county and is always ready to contribute liberally, both in labor and means, to any commendable enterprise. He is especially active and earnest in the advancement of the educational facilities o the city; and as an indication of the appreciation of his services in this respect, he was elected School Trustee, by the City Council in which there was a political majority against him, and succeeded A. D. Lynch as President of the School Board, which position he filled to the entire satisfaction of all parties interested, for the term of two and one-half years, and when he retired, the Board was entirely free from debt.
The best, purest and freshest of groceries etc., can always be found at his place of business, at the lowest possible prices. Next biography in the "Smiling Shelbyville" newspaper article, S. B. Morris.
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