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Collins, Jerry

Or "Uncle Jerry," as he was familiarly called by the lovers of the ardent, and especially by his immediate customers, kept a small whisky-shop [sic] on the southwest corner of Washington and Meridian streets.  He also kept other refreshments for his lady customers, such as ginger cakes, smoked herring and spruce beer.

    Uncle Jerry was not permitted by law to sell whisky [sic] in a less quantity than a quart, and htat not to be drank upon his premises.  Being a law-abiding man, and to ccommodate his many customers, and more especially those from Waterloo, he had a pump placed on Meridian street, just around the corner from his front door, which could not be construed to be upon his premises.

    For the information of those who were not acquainted with Indianapolis at that time, I would say that Waterloo was that portion of the county and river bottom lying between the bluff road and the river, commencing about three miles from town and extending about five miles south. 

    In Waterloo there were about twenty adult male inhabitants, viz:  the Mundys, Snows, Tharps, Fanchers, Paddocks, Pressers, and last, but by no means least, were the Stephenses, among whom was "Rip-Roaring Bob," as he called himself.

    When Waterloo came to town their headquarters was Uncle Jerry's pump.  Soon, after their arrival you would see one of them go into the shop, and soon return to join his comrades with a quart measure (filled with whisky [sic], the price of which was twelve and a-half cents) in one hand and a small tin cup in the other.  The quart cup would make the trip to the shop and return about every half hour, and continue until  and every one had accompanied it at least once, by which time each one would have drank his quart of whisky [sic] and contributed his shilling.  On public occasions the trips were made in more rapid succession, and about two to each person, when the quantity drank and the money expended would be doubled.  It is proper here to say that while the quart measure in making the various trips to and from the shop, if feminine Waterloo should be in town, they would be seated in the shade of the house regaling themselves with ginger cakes, smoked herring and spruce beer.

    Then would begin their gymnastics and other performances, under the direction of their leader, "Rip Roaring Bob," and they were generally kept up until the small boys would return from school, and the young men had quit their several avocations for the day.  Waterloo would then be invited to leave town, and were generally accompanied on their forced march down Meridian street to the limits of town, and ofter some distance south of "Pogue's Creek."  To accelerate their movement and to assist them along, eggs, brickbats, boulders and other missles [sic] were brought into requisition by the assailing party.  When the eggs began to fly "fast and furious," and the boulders fell like hail around them, they would retire in a very disorganized and demoralized condition.  "Rip Roaring Bob" was generally in the rear keeping back the assailing party, and covering the retreat of his comrades, while Garrett Presser would be far in advance of his retreating friends, going at the rate of "two-forty" on his little black mare, and Jonathan Paddock would be close at his heels, with his umbrella hoisted to keep off the flying missiles.  On one occasion a young man of the town party was some distance in advance of his friends (who had stopped pursuit).  "Rip Roaring Bob" was some distance behind his party, and, with his quick perceptibility, soon saw the true situation, and "made for" the young man, who barely escaped Bob's clutches, receiving in his back on his retreat some of the same missles [sic] thrown by his own party at Waterloo.

    "Rip Roaring Bob" moved from Waterloo to Hamilton County, and became a respectable man, and accumulated a considerable property.  The balance of Waterloo has been scattered upon the broad prairies of Missouri, Iowa and Illinois, and have no doubt often related to their neighbors their many hair-breadth escapes from, and daring adventures with, the early settlers of Indianapolis.

    Jerry Collins and Cader Carter dug the grave of Daniel Shaffer, the first person buried in the old graveyard, in August, 1821.

    Uncle Jerry died of cholera in 1852, and left a fine property to be divided between his nephews and other relatives, he being an old bachelor.



Nowland, John H. B., “Sketches of Prominent Citizens of 1876, With a Few of the Pioneers of the city and County Who have Passed Away,” 1877, pp. 109-111.
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