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James M. VanHook collection

Identifier: L308

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence and documents compiled by James M. VanHook during his activities with the Freemasons, the Samuel Simonson Post No. 226 of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), and the Clark County Historical Society (1783-1917). The collection includes land grants, indentures, and other legal documents from Charlestown and Clark County, Indiana; biographical and historical sketches; historical information about Blazing Star Masonic Lodge and the Charlestown Methodist Episcopal Church; and G.A.R. decoration day program notes and speeches, military history and information about veterans military service and burial locations. Also included are the indentures, account and business documents of John Denny, a resident of Charlestown, Indiana (1811-1867); the VanHook family correspondence and personal documents, including letters sent to James during the Civil War (1837-1905); correspondence and documents regarding James M. VanHook’s business interests near Gainesville and Ft. Meade, Florida (1883-1909); and the pocket diaries of Joshua Leach, a financial agent and secretary for the Cincinnati and Indianapolis Junction Railroad Company, based in Connersville, Fayette County, Indiana. (1854-1866).

Items of note within the collection are a map of Charlestown, Indiana showing original lots (circa 1810s); documents regarding a legal matter involving George Rogers Clark (1802); a copy of the Indiana Territory slavery ordinance of 1802; reminiscences that mention the meaning of "Hoosiers"; reminiscences and biographical sketches about the Pigeon Roost Massacre in September, 1811 and the Cyrus Polk family murders at Henryville, Clark County, Indiana on November 11, 1871; James VanHook's notes regarding men who took part in the Battle of Tippecanoe; correspondence and news clippings regarding James M. VanHook's murder trial in 1895 for the shooting death of Anton Schafer on July 4, 1894; and a letter to VanHook from S.P. Lee, dated December 2, 1904, from Portland, Oregon that describes the city and the upcoming 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition.


  • 1796-1907, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

John Denny was born in Pennsylvania on March 30, 1789. He was at the Battle of Tippecanoe and lived and owned multiple properties in Clark County, Indiana. Denny married his first wife, Sarah Kelly, in Clark County, Indiana Territory on July 18, 1811. He then married Caroline Curtiss Young (1810-1867) on June 27, 1841. Caroline was the sister of Solon Young, the father of Jennie VanHook. Denny died on April 10, 1862.

Joshua Leach was born on August 18, 1818 in Butler County, Ohio to Joshua and Margaret Leach. He married Anna Bake (1820-1901) on September 9, 1838 and they had four children. Leach served as postmaster for the town of Liberty in Union County, Indiana and also served two terms as sheriff of the county. After being appointed the secretary and treasurer of the Cincinnati and Indianapolis Junction Railway, he moved his family to Connersville, Indiana. After working for the railroad for 20 years, Leach resigned his position in 1872 and established a drug store. He also served as Justice of the Peace from 1886 until a few years before his death on February 1, 1908.

Sources: "Caroline C. Young." Indiana Marriage Index, 1800-1941. Accessed May 25, 2016. "John Denny." Indiana Marriage Index, 1800-1941. Accessed May 25, 2016. "Caroline Curtiss Young Denny." Find a Grave Index. Accessed May 25, 2016. "John Denny." Find a Grave Index. Accessed May 25, 2016. "Joshua D.'Squire' Leach." Find a Grave Index. Accessed May 25, 2016.

History of the Ohio Falls Cities and Their Counties with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches, vol. 2. Evansville, IN: Unigraphic, 1966.

"Honored Pioneer is Called Home: Death Gomes to Relieve Suffering of Joshua Leach." Connersville Evening News (IN), February 1, 1908. Accessed May 25, 2016.


James M. VanHook was born on March 19, 1844 in Clark County, Indiana to William and Martha VanHook. On July 23, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company D, 4th Indiana Cavalry Regiment to fight for the Union during the U.S. Civil War. VanHook was promoted to full sergeant and mustered out on June 29, 1865. He married Lenora Bellows (1844-1888) on September 9, 1868 and they had three children. In January, 1895, VanHook was put on trial and acquitted for the July 4, 1894 shooting death of Anton Schafer. He married Jennie Young Bean (1854-1926) on August 16, 1900. Jennie was the daughter of Solon Young. VanHook died on March 29, 1927.


Information found within collection. "James M. VanHook." Indiana Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993. Accessed May 24, 2016. "James M. VanHook." U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865. Accessed May 24, 2016. "Lenora Van Hook." 1880 United States Federal Census. Accessed May 24, 2016. "Jennie Young Bean." Indiana Marriage Index, 1800-1941. Accessed May 24, 2016. "James M. Vanhook." Find a Grave Index. Accessed May 24, 2016.

"Crazed With Love: Anton Schafer Meets His Tragic Death." The Clark County Record (IN), July 7, 1894.


0.65 Cubic Feet (2 manuscript boxes, 1 medium oversize folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2016/05/26 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid created 2016/05/26 by Laura Eliason.
James M. VanHook collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.