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Scudder, Caleb

Was a native of New Jersey, but when quite young came to Dayton, Ohio.  He was there married, and soon after removed to this place in the summer of 1821.  He was the first cabinet-maker, and made the first coffin that summer that was made in the place.  His shop was on the south side of the State House Square, and his dwelling opposite, across Washington street.  His shop was a place of worship for some time, and there the first Sunday-school was established, in 1823. 

            Mr. S. was a Presbyterian, and for some years acted as clerk to the different ministers in giving out the hymn and starting the tune.  He was afterward elected magistrate, and served as such for several years.  He made a good and efficient officer, and his decisions were generally sustained by the higher court when appeals were taken, which was very seldom.  While he was justice of the peace it became necessary for him to render a decision in a trivial matter against Joseph Buckhart, a blacksmith.  Buckhart became very much enraged at the ‘Squire, and as he left the office, remarked it should cost Mr. S. more than it had him.  The ‘Squire looked upon it as a mere passionate threat, and that he would soon get over it. 

            A few mornings afterwards [sic] Mr. S. missed his carriage out of his stable.  It was found at the high banks of the river, with every spoke sawed out of the wheels and other portions thrown in the river.  Mr. Scudder was satisfied in his own mind who the guilty parties were, but took no steps to have them arrested, fearful that other and more serious injury might be done him or his property.

            This circumstance weighed heavily upon his mind and caused him some unhappy reflections, not that he thought he had done wrong, or rendered an erroneous decision, but that he should have made such an enemy in trying to render impartial justice.

            Mr. Scudder was for several years connected with Mr. William Hannaman, in the drug business and oil mill.  Had he lived to the time of the advent of Professor Black into this city, he might have had his voice improved considerably, as he used the nasal organ more than is fashionable at the present time; but I have no doubt he is where all voices are made perfect, and that he belongs to the great choir above.

            He was a very peaceable and quiet man, and died without an enemy on eath, unless if might be the one above referred to (if living).  He was strictly an honest and upright man, and died, deeply regretted by all who knew him, about the year 1866, leaving a wife, who has since deceased.  He never had any children, but had raised several orphans that loved him as a father.  Such was Caleb Scudder, the first cabinet-marker of Indianapolis.

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. 81-82.