One Township's Yesterdays Chapter XXIX
The Burr Oak Flats were very familiar to another family, the MEDBOURNs, who settled at the lower end of that territory and not far
from Lake Maxinkuckee. It was during the tempestuous Civil War times that this family from England was endeavoring to become firmly
established in a new country, far from old-home scenes and associations in the isles across the sea.
The EDWARD MEDBOURN family came direct from England and settled on the Burr Oak Flats. The head of the family at once set to work and
cleared a large tract of land, all of which has since passed out of the ownership of members of the family. The homestead farm is the
one now owned by BELL OVERMYER.
EDWARD MEDBOURN and his wife Hannah, with their first-born children, came over from Northamptonshire, England, in March, 1854,
according to a certain chronicler. Others were of the opinion it was somewhat later. The voyage across the ocean was made in a
sailing vessel. The weather was bad, and it took them about two months to make the crossing. On their arrival in the United States,
they at, once continued westward and settled in
Lorain County, Ohio, for about four months, then came on to Union Township in the fall of '54.
It has been said that the EDWARD MEDBOURN family did not come until around 1863, but the fact that the daughter, Mary J., was born
in England in '52 and came to this country when she was little more than a baby, substantiates the opinion that the year of their
coming was '54. It has been said also that they came direct from England, and that Leeds, in Yorkshire, was the locality in which
this family originated. MARY J. MEDBOURN was born in Welford, Northamptonshire.
During the Civil War, EDWARD MEDBOURN was still a citizen of England. He had come over in the days when war was brewing, and it was
not until after the strife was ended that he became a citizen of the country of his adoption. He became naturalized after he had
settled in Union Township.
Besides the pioneering family of EDWARD and HANNAH MEDBOURN, there was another of the MEDBOURN stock: the SAMUEL MEDBOURN family,
which was related and which came about the same time. The homestead of this family was north of the present village of Culver, on
Road 10, and is now known as the Garn place.
EDWARD and HANNAH MEDBOURN had a family of four sons and two daughters. The sons, here named in the order of age, were
THOMAS MEDBOURN died January 1, 1908, and his wife; Mary, February 20, 1925. Only two children survived their parents: CHARLES E.
MEBOURN of Culver and MYRTLE MEDBOURN ZECHIEL of Indianapolis.
At the time of his death in Culver, "Uncle Tom" MEDBOURN was nearly sixty-three years of age. He was active in the affairs of the
local Methodist Church, with which he united in 1868. His wife, Mary Elizabeth, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. CHESTER
ZECHIEL, in Indianapolis, at the age of seventy-seven. She was born in Jennings County, Indiana, January 30, 1846, the daughter of
JOHN and NANCY GREEN. At the age of fifteen and at the very close of the Civil War, having then grown to young womanhood, she
accompanied her father, mother, brothers and sisters to Marshall County. Here the family located as farmers on ground near Burr Oak,
neighbors to the EDWARD MEBOURNs, prosperous Christian Englishmen. It was here that she married Edward's son, Thomas.
MARY MEDBOURN was a kindly person, and when in 1901 LANNIE and EMMA SAYGER died suddenly and left a six-year-old boy, Herman, in a
strange land and homeless, she took this lonely son of her sister into her home and adopted him.
MARY MEDBOURN was a loyal church worker and was a charter member of the Methodist Church of Culver.
THOMAS MEDBOURN was married to MARY E. GREEN, daughter of JOHN and NANCY GREEN, June 21, 1866. The GREENs were also early settlers of
this region. There was a family of eight children:
Myrtle married CHESTER ZECHIEL
EDWARD MEDBOURN, son of EDWARD and HANNAH MEDBOURN, was born in Northamptonshire, England, April 9, 1847, came to the United
States in 1854, and was married to CAROLINE TRIBETT in 1871. To this union four chidren [children] were born. He united with the Methodist
Church of Culver at the time of its dedication. His death occurred in Plymouth, July 6, 1919. He was seventy-two years of age. He
left three daughters:
Nora, the wife of AMBROSE OVERMYER of Leiters Ford
John - living
Allie, the wife of LON HILL of Plymouth
Mrs. MABEL EBEL of LaPorte.
JOHN MEDBOURN was married to ADA POULSEN. To this union one child was born
CLARENCE E. MEDBOURN, of Mishawaka.
SAMUEL EZRA MEDBOURN one of the sons of Edward and Hannah, was born April 28, 1859. His first wife was KATIE BELLE OYLER,
daughter of Henry and Matilda Oyler. She was born June 5, 18
66, and was married to SAMUEL MEDBOURN, July 5, 1885, by the
Rev. W. R. NOBES of the Methodist Church at Marmont.
KATIE BELLE OYLER MEDBOURN. She died in February, 1895, leaving two children
BESS EMILY (MEDBOURN) SLONAKER, now deceased married Clement Lee Slonaker
HARRY E. MEDBOURN, now residing in Culver
Mrs. ELIZABETH DUDDLESON of South Bend - living
ELIZABETH MEDBOURN was married to OZIAS ("Uncle Bub") DUDDLESON. They had a family of four children:
Mrs. MARY J. CASTLEMAN
MABEL DUDDLESON PLANT of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Jennie, both deceased
LULU DUDDLESON Campbell of South Bend.
MARY J. MEDBOURN, daughter of Edward and Hannah, was born in Welford, Northamptonshire, England, February 15, 1852, and
came with her parents to the United States in '54. In the fall of that year, she came to Union Township, where she spent
all the rest of her life. She was married in 1874 to JAMES H. CASTLEMAN.
The mother died August 26, 1903, at the age of fifty-one. Her four brothers, Thomas, Samuel, John and Edward, and one sister,
ELIZABETH DUDDLESON, survived her. She was a member of the Methodist Church from 1865 till her death.
To this union were born six children.
Callie, preceded the mother in death
Verne, preceded the mother in death
ARTHUR E. CASTLEMAN, now deceased
ELTA MAY MAWHORTER, deceased
CARL CASTLEMAN, now living in Mishawaka
GUY CASTLEMAN, deceased.
SAMUEL MEDBOURN, the settler who headed the other family of the name in this township, had three sons
all of whom are dead. There were also three daughters, and they too have passed away.
The MEDBOURN lands in early times were all practically in the same neighborhood. On the Burr Oak Road, opposite and east of the
THOMAS Houghton farm:
In those days the family name was sometimes spelled Medburn.
- EDWARD K. MEDBOURN had 120 acres
- SAMUEL MEDBOURN, of the other family, owned 160 acres, located a short distance northwest of Marmont. These lands are now
crossed by Road 10.
- The elder son of Edward, who was Thomas, had 120 acres west of and adjoining SAMUEL MEDBOURN's lands.
Reminiscences of the THOMAS MEDBOURN family are related in an interesting manner by a daughter, Mrs. MYRTLE MEDBOURN Zechiel of
Indianapolis. Speaking of her father, she says:
"THOMAS MEDBOURN was born in Welford, Northamptonshire, England, March 7, 1845. He was the oldest child in the family of Edward and
HANNAH MEDBOURN, who came to this country in 1854, Thomas was nine years old when they crossed the Atlantic. That was a momentous
The details of the crossing remained for many years vividly in the memory of THOMAS MEDBOURN. He used to like to recount his
experiences in after years when they would come back to him as though they were but happenings of a yesterday. Some of those
experiences were exciting, even akin to harrowing; others were whimsical and humorous. They occurred when he was a youth of
impressionable years, and when he was well along in life they recurred to him almost down to the minutest details. Besides, he had
a long memory, and it served him well.
His daughter, Myrtle, would listen to him with ears and eyes wide open. She remembered well, also, and today we have the story as told
to Myrtle by her father. She recalls his telling about strange things that happened while they were at sea, during their long, long
voyage. They thought they would never reach the shores of America. The strangest thing of all was the descent of a celestial visitor,
which was by no means angelic for it nearly wrecked the ship and almost spelled the end of the voyage and the passengers as well. The
visitor was a meteor ball, which struck a heavy chain spanning the sailing vessel. There followed a great burst of flames. This fire
burned off all the sails and sprung a leak in the hull of the ship. The majority of the passengers were thrown into a panic, no doubt
believing the end had surely come. And it did come very close to coming. The damage was serious and it was necessary to make all new
sails and to man the pumps constantly. The men had to keep the pumps going the rest of the voyage, which took three more days.
"A brother of my father," Mrs. ZECHIEL continues, "whose name, it seems, was Will, died and was buried at sea. He died of the measles,
which apparently was a more dread disease in those days than it is now. And he was laid to rest in the ocean. That left an impression
on me as a girl which has remained indelibly fixed in my memory. This uncle, whose tomb is the ocean's depths, was a younger brother
of my father.
"When the family at last arrived in the city of New York, and one can imagine how joyous and thankful they must have been over that
arrival, they sought food and shelter. Their stay was very short in the city, and from my father's accounts it seems that they must
have put up at a private home, presided over by a person whom my father recalled as being a “kindly lady” though no doubt a person to
be held in awe, being a strange and foreign individual. Now, Thomas hadn't had any corn bread over in England, and this accounts for
the amusing experience he had at this lady's house.
"When they sat down to eat, Thomas noticed a big “cake” that the lady had sitting in the center of the table. Surely it was not an
ornament. But the meal was breakfast, if I recall rightly. This boy wanted a piece of that cake. But it was a matter of waiting awhile
until the opportunity came. Then the boy made plain his thought that he'd like a piece of that cake. The lady was obliging. She
promptly gave him a piece, and it was a big piece. Here's a real feast, in a new land, thought the boy as he bit into the cake. Much
to his surprise, and perhaps his inward disgust, the cake was not cake at all. It was some strange new concoction he'd never had
before. In this country they called it corn bread. It wasn't so very good, either, not anywhere near as good as the cake he had
enjoyed in England. It was made of coarsely ground corn meal. In fact, it was the crude forerunner of better corn breads that were
to follow in the years to come in Union Township, “out West”.
"Soon then they were on their way out to Ohio, where the family stopped not for so very long, just a little breathing spell before
continuing on into Indiana and their final destination. It was in Ohio, I think, that the sugar and tea incident occurred. That was
amusing, too. Being English, the MEDBOURNs of course had to have their tea; at least, father and mother had to have it. And Tom was
sent out to the store to get some. He was given something like a nickel with which to buy the tea, and some sugar, too. It wasn't
much, anyway. Tom was to get three cents' worth of tea and two cents' worth of sugar, or maybe it was four cents' worth of tea and a
cent's worth of sugar, for the English count by twos when they count American pennies. Tom made his wishes known to the grocery-man,
and was surprised when that individual asked him, `Are you a-foot or a-horseback?' In other words, he wondered if the boy could
carry it all. And that was one of the various things that the boy remembered when he grew to manhood and went on through the years to
old age in Union Township."