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Hanway, Sr., Amos

Came to this place early in the year 1821.  He ascended White River in a flat-bottomed boat.  He came directly from Vincennes to this place, and had come to Vincennes, in the year 1820, from Marietta, Ohio.

    He was the first cooper, and made the first wash-tubs and and [sic] buckets, for which there was a demand from every new arrival of settlers.  He brought the first barrel of whisky, although there had been large quantities brought here in smaller packages.  He built a hewed log house on the north bank of the ravine, opposite to where Kingan's pork-house now stands.  On this house he put a shingle roof (the shingles he made himself), the first roof the kind [sic] in the new purchase.

    Mr. Hanway had several children, one of whom was then, and is yet, well known as a fisherman; then in pursuit of the finny tribe, now as a fisher of men.  This was his eldest son, and took the name of his father.

    Amos Hanway, Jun., although a great fisherman, would spend but seven days of the week in the profession, i. e., he would commence early on Monday morning (he was conscientious about beginning on Sunday), and would finish his week's work late Sunday evening.  He knew the nest of nearly every bass between Lake's Ford and the high banks of the river below the graveyard.  Some thought he was personally acquainted with each one of the fish.  He had several ways of fishing, but his favorite was fire-fishing.  He would built a platform on the bow of his canoe; on this he would build a fire, the reflection of which would show him the fish at the bottom of the deepest water.

    Behind this fire he would stand, and select and spear or gig any fish he would wish.  He was unerring in this aim, and hardly ever let a fish escape him.  He was equally successful with hook and line, and his favorite bait was a work which he called helgrante, which he procured under old logs.  He sometimes, when he wished to make it a pecuniary object, used a seine, when he would take the fish by wagon loads and although they were very cheap compared with the prices now given, he would realize a considerable amount from one day's work.

    Amos happened up town one evening, and wandered into a wheelwright shop which stood on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania and Market streets, where there was and old-fashioned Methodist prayer-meeting being held.  It was here he first began to reflect upon the sin and wickedness of fishing on the Sabbath day, and resolved he would "go and sin no more" in that way, and joined the Methodist Church.  After remaining in that church for some time he joined the "United Brethren," and is now a fisher of men in that most respectable religious organization, and if he is as successful in this kind of fishing as he was in the former, has no doubt caught many scaly fish as well as fat ones. 

    He was for years one of the presiding elders, and officiated for many years in different parts of the State in that capacity, and, I understand, is one of hte best preachers of the denomination.  His brother Samuel, well-known to our citizens, is also a member of the same church, and one of our reliable business men.

"There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough hew them as we will."


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. 96-98.

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