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Paxton, James

With his family, arrived here on the 9th of October, 1821.  He bought a lot on Market street, near the canal, and lived there a few years.  The house is yet standing, and is now the oldest in the city.  It was a hewed log house, but has since been weather-boarded.  He was a carpenter by trade, and about the first to follow the business.  Soon after his arrival here he was elected colonel of the militia, which position he held until his death.  In 1823 and 1824 he was elected to the Legislature, and was at Corydon during the last session in that place, and served the first session that it convened in Indianapolis.


            In connection with John E. Baker, he was contractor for building the present old Court House, where the Legislature sat from 1825 and 1836; also, the Supreme and United States Courts.  While building this house his partner (Mr. Baker), when intoxicated, rolled from the top of the cupola to the ground, striking nearly all the scaffolding in his descent, and to the surprise of all got up and walked home, a more sober if not a wiser man than he was a few moments before. 


            Colonel Paxton, after the Court House was finished, engaged in merchandizing and other pursuits until his death in the spring of 1829.  No citizen enjoyed the respect and esteem of his neighbor to a greater extent than he did.  He died, leaving a widow (but no children), who yet resides among us.  She has lived to see this place, which she found with a half-dozen log cabins, a city of sixty thousand inhabitants.


            Mrs. P. was one of the first to help organize a Methodist Church in this city.  Her husband donated a lot to the Wesley Chapel congregation on Circle street for a parsonage.  She was a member of that congregation when John W. Foudray, Billy Bay, Lismund Basye, Francis and William McLaughlin, and Jimmy Kittleman, Edwin Ray, James Havens, Calvin W. Ruter, and Allen Wiley, were its preachers; all of whom have passed away.


            Mrs. Paxton has yet in her possession a chair presented to her by the mother of the writer, when they first commenced housekeeping in this place, over forty-eight years go.  This was one of a set of split-bottomed chairs presented to my father by the keeper of the Kentucky Penitentiary, when we started to move to the New Purchase, in October, 1820  This chair Mrs. P. has kept for her own personal use ever since, and has had it re-bottomed but once.


            She has a sister, the wife of William Hannaman, Esq., who resides in this city.  There is an older sister now visiting her, that I remember to have seen at her house before the death of her husband, over forty years ago.


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. 84-85.