J. W. Eikenberry Brief Biography of My Life - February 1953
I was born June 30th, 1868 and was 84 years old this last June 30th, 1952. My Father, John A. Eikenberry died early in life. At that time, I was 15 years old. I was the oldest of 6 children, one boy and 6 girls. Two Sisters, Orlie and Ella, died when they were about 20 years old. Cause of death was T.B. Lydia, Rosy and Ethel still living. Lydia married Frank Beckner. Rosy married Ivan Sharp and Ethel married Harley Clingenpiel. My Father passed away when I was quite you and being the only boy in family gave me a lot of responsibilities, which I think was a help to one rather than a hindrance. My schooling was limited. However, I did graduate out on at the 8th grade. There were no High Schools then - at least not near.

Well, when I was 20 years old, I was united in marriage to Orra C. Ross on July 2nd 1888. We have enjoyed life a lot together all these years. We have had the usual Joys and sorrows common to most people. We have lived on this same farm during this 64 years. And a lot of changes have taken place during this time. From horses and carriages to automobiles. I bought my first car in 1914 - an Overland. Now 1953, I have a new Buick. Team horses to tractors, corn pickers, combines and all modern equipment. In the house from the old wood ranges and milk trough to gas and electric range stove, refrigerator, deep freeze and fuel oil for heat. Electric lights, electric motors, washing machines, radio. This is a new country.

On December 10, 1923, we wanted to paint the ceiling of the Church at Bringhurst. So Charles McCracken, M.M. Rutherford, Spurgeon Garrison and myself proceeded to make some wooden horses about 10 or 12 feed high and put some boards on them 2x8 to stand on. All went well and all four of us had it about finished when a leg on one of the tresses broke and let us all down to the floor. The fall did not hurt us very much except that one 2x8 board hit my left foot and turned it ΒΌ way around cutting all the flesh on one side of my foot. This put me in bed for 8 weeks. Dr. Emerson Caster took care of me. He and nature done a good job for me. After getting out of bed I used a wheel chair, then crutches, then a cane.

What I wanted to tell you is this. There was no radios in the territory. I learned that Nassy Clingenpiel and Charles Stouse were getting parts and putting the parts together made a radio. We called Mr. Clingenpiel and told him to bring a Radio and if it worked we would buy it.

Well, to our surprise it worked. Of course had to use earphones. We have come a long way since then.

In 1898, Dave Miller owned a drug store in Bringhurst. He and I conceived the idea of starting a telephone exchange in Bringhurst. I think the only exchange was in Delphi an that time in Carroll County. Well, we bought a 50-amp switchboard and put it in his store. We got a carload of telephone poles. We got a Franchise from the County commissioners to put up poles along the highways. We proceeded to build lines to Frankfort, Burlington and Logansport. Then we tired to sell folks on putting in a telephone. It was not easy. No one had a phone, so why should I have one installed. So we got permission to put in a few telephones without charge. We put on in Dr. Lyons office, Frank Horner's store, the restaurant on the corner, Mr. Livingston, The Elevator in Flora and a few others.

This seemed to get it started and it was not very long until we moved the switchboard to Flora. I took my team and wagon and hauled poles and distributed them along the roads to Frankfort, Burlington and Logansport and helped put up the wires. I was the first to have a phone put in my residence.


We were very fortunate in having good neighbors. The ones that come up first in my memory are James Wharton, Uncle Henry Landis, Nile Landis, Robert Minang and Henry Tinkle. One generation ahead of me, they had log rollings. Husking Bee's for the benefit of the grandchildren. Every time a boy found a red ear of corn at a Husking Bee, he got to kiss the girl of his choice.

Well, when I grew up, when someone in the Neighborhood got sick or injured, it was the custom of the neighbors to go and sit up with them and give medicine and give such aid as was necessary.

During this time all babes were born in the homes. Our children were all born at home.

Neighbors used to exchange work for a lot. For instance, Wheat harvests. My first recollection was they had a machine to cut the wheat and place in piles and 3 or 4 men stationed around the field bound the wheat in bundles, used wheat to bind it with. It was then shocked and later put in Wheat stacks and then later it was thrashed.

Well about 74 years ago, the self-binder came in to use and about the same time a lot of neighbors came to do the Threshing. I took a lot of help. About 8 teams and racks to haul the wheat bundles in. Four men to pitch the bundles on the wagon. Two men to cut the bands. Five or six men on the straw stack and 3 or 4 men to take care of the Threshed grain. About 20 to 25 men to feed. Well dinnertime was a big event. The neighbor women, several of them, prepared a big dinner. I mean big dinner. I think each woman tried to out do the others. No screen doors then, someone had to mind the flies off the table while we ate.

Another custom was annual butchering day. About 4 neighbors would exchange work to do the butchering. The place where the butchering was done, the man was to have 3 or 4 iron kettles full of boiling water at daylight. As soon as they could see, the hogs were killed and scalded and hung up to cool.

Usually the hogs were cut up and the meat put away and the lard was cut in small pieces until noon. About 4 - 6 hogs were butchered. After Noon, the lard was rendered in open kettles and the Sausage was cut and ground and stuffed in casings the women folks had cleaned. To complete the day, the lard was put in containers; the joints were dry cured and tied in cloth sacks and hung up in the smokehouse.

This custom is all changed. The last 5 or 10 years, everyone has his butchering done at a Slaughterhouse in town. Usually one hog at a time.

Well with a lot of meat, 20 to 40 bushels of apples in the cellar, 30 or 40 gallons of apple butter and plenty of mush and milk - we got along very well. We didn't know anything about calories and vitamins at that time.


All our married life we had some form of Family Devotions everyday. Which I think was very helpful. We seldom ever missed going to church and Sunday school.

I have long ago gave my heart to Jesus and he has helped me all these years over the rough places in my life. I accept the Ethics and Ideals of Jesus and believe his promises. I am a firm believer in prayer. When you are in doubt or depressed or have problems to solve, nothing helps us so much as to have a talk with Jesus.

Sixty years ago, when I started on my Christian life, some of the older members were a great inspiration and help to me. To mention a few, C.M. Plank, Sunday School Superintendent; John Lane, Class Leader, Mr. & Mrs. Clevell, Mr. & Mrs. Cal Ferrier, Mrs. James Hamilton, John Hamilton an others.

To my children and their families and all posterity listen - don't underestimate the value for good that a regular attendance to church and Sunday school can do for you. Take a tip from one who has been over this road. When you are asked to take some responsibility or to take some active parts, do it.

If you will use what talent you have, plus the help of the Hold Spirit, if you ask him, you will be amazed at what you can do.

Did you ever hear about the mother bird when the brood are old enough to fly, she pushes them out of her nest? Then they have to fly or else. Don't think I am trying to preach, I only want to help you.


The first 40 or 50 years of my life, there was not very many places to go for amusements.

To mention a few . . . Delphi Old Settlers meeting, Old Settlers at Burlington, Sunday school picnic at Cutler, Ice cream socials. Ice cream made by hand in some home. In my teens, the young folks had what we called play parties. A good place for young folks to get together to play games. Such as, drop the handkerchief, Post Office and many others. In fact, with a horse and buggy, we did not get very far from home.

It is a lot different now. Life is very complex. School activities, 4-H meetings, movies, clubs, card parties, and Farm Bureau meetings. In fact, so many places to go - so many things to do, we do not have enough nights or time to get it all done.

Soon after we were married, I joined the Church at Bringhurst - Rev. B.T. Ivey was the Pastor. Some of our most pleasant experiences has come working and in fellowship with this organization. About 36 or 38 years, I was Sunday school superintendent.

A lot of very nice experience has come my way. Namely in 1980, I was selected as Master Farmer by Prairie Farmer and Purdue University. A little later, I was Chairman of the Carroll County Farm Bureau for 3 years. I was the 1st President of the Board of Directors of R.E.M.C. I was a member of the board of directors of the Creamery at Crawfordsville for 16 years. In 1910, I was elected as a director of the Farmers Mutual Insurance Company at Mulberry, Indiana. I have served continuously and the last 15 years have been the President of the Board

None of these organizations has paid me very much money. But I feel it has given me a change to render a very fine service and all in all it has enriched my life wonderfully.

Mother and I never got very far from home until we advanced in years. However, we got around a lot. We went to Niagara Falls. Made 2 trips to the West Coast. Made 2 trips to Florida and attended the National Mutual Insurance Company conventions in the following cities - Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Rochester, New York; Philadelphia; Saint Paul, Minnesota and Indianapolis. And last year 1952 in October, I went to Philadelphia to the convention.

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