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Bates, Harvey

The first Sheriff of Marion County, was a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, born in that place when it was called Fort Washington, in the year 1795.  His father was "Master of Transportation," during the Indian War, under Generals Wayne and Harmar, and chiefly engaged in forwarding provisions and munitions of war from the frontier posts to the army in the wilderness.

    At that time it was an unbroken wilderness from "Old Fort Washington" (now Cincinnati) to Detroit, in Michigan Territory.

    When Mr. Bates was quite young, not more than five or six years of age, he lost his mother; his father married again and he, failing (as most children do) to find a true one in the person of the step-mother, left the paternal roof and launched his bark upon the broad ocean of life, as it were, without sail or rudder.

    At the age of six years he went to Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio, where he met with friends and received a fair English education, at least sufficient to fit and qualify him for the ordinary pursuits of life at that early day.

    About the time that he had attained his majority he came to Brookville, Franklin County, where he met with and was married to Miss Sidney Sedgwick, a cousin of General James Noble, United States Senator, and the Late Governor Noah Noble, and thus far, like John Anderson and his worthy spouse, have have [sic] Glided down the stream of time together.  At Brookville, in 1816, he cast his first vote for a delegate to form a constitution for the new state of Indiana.

    Soon after Mr. B's marriage he removed to Connersville, where he remained until February, 1822, when he came to where this city now stands.  

    Jonathan Jennings, who was the first Governor after the State was admitted into the Union, had appointed William W. Wick President Judge of this (the fifth) Judicial District, and Harvey Bates Sheriff of Marion County, which then embraced several of the surrounding counties for judicial purposes, investing Mr. Bates with the power of putting the necessary legal machinery of the county in motion.

    This he did by issuing a proclamation for an election to be held on the first day of April for the purpose of electing a clerk of the court and other county officers, which was the first election of any kind held in the "new purchase."

    At the October election Mr. Bates was chosen and elected sheriff for the regular term of two years, after which he refused to be a candidate again.  He did not seem to partake of the love of office, or had not the taste for public preferment thas [sic] was peculiar to others hailing from the same section he did.

    After the term of office for which he was elected expired, he entered into mercantile and other pursuits more congenial to his feelings.  In all his business enterprises he brought great energy and industry, which is very nearly always rewarded by success, as was the case with him.  He seemed to think with Richelieu, and acted upon the principle that "In the bright lexicon of youth there was no such word as fail."  He possessed in an eminent degree the main springs to prosperity and success--integrity, industry and economy--without which but few succeed.

    Mr. Bates was the first and for ten years President of the "Branch of the State Bank," located in this place, and no institution of the kind, either in or out of the State, was more successful, not only for the bank, but beneficial to the business and trading part of the community while under his management.  Indeed it was through the help and assistance of the Bank that most of the surplus produce of this and several of the adjoining counties was able to reach a market.  I have known that bank to withhold discounts from our merchants and best business men of the city that they might be the more able to accommodate the produce dealers, and thereby assist the farmer, keep the money in the hands of our own citizens and benefit the whole country.  This wise and judicious course of the bank, of which he was the principal, was a lasting benefit to the producers of the county, which should long be remembered by them.

    He was instrumental in getting up the first insurance company, a stockholder in the first hotel built by a company, the first railroad that was finished to this place, the first and only gas light and coke company, and indeed nearly every public enterprise of the city.  

    In 1852 he commenced, and afterwards finished, that large and palatial hotel, the "Bates House," at that time one of the finest in the West.  This house was built at a cost of sixty thousand dollars, subsequent improvements making the whole cost seventy-five thousand dollars, and could not be built at this time for much less than double that amount.

    There are many other business and private buildings scattered throughout the city that own their existence to the energy and means for Mr. Bates.

    He has ever been a liberal contributor to our religious and benevolent institutions; was a warm friend of Henry Ward Beecher during his residence in this city and in his less prosperous days.

    He is now in the seventy-fifth year of his age, and is yet quite active for one of his years, retaining a great deal of his youthful vivacity and sprightliness, and manifests a disposition to make all bout him feel the same way.

    A few months since he and his estimable lady celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage, or "Golden Wedding;" may they live to celebrate the seventy-fifth, or "Diamond Wedding," is the sincere wish of their numerous friends and acquaintances, and "may I be there to see" them, like John Anderson and his worthy lady.

"Now we maun tother down, John, but hand in hand we'll go,
And we'll sleep thegither at the foot, John Anderson, my Jo."


Nowland, John H. B., “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis, with Short Biographical Sketches of Its Early Citizens, and of a Few of the Prominent Business Men of the Present Day,” 1870, pp. 138-141.
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