This township was first settled by the Mormons in 1836, and Colfax was surveyed somewhat earlier than its more northern sisters, forming a part of the Caldwell survey. The real growth and prosperity of the township did not commence until after the Mormons were driven from the county, and very little is known of those who settled there during the years of 1839 and 1840. John Castor settled on section fourteen in May, 1841. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and brought with him a large family, no less than seven sons, who have all, but one, became well-known and respected citizens of the township. That one, A. J. Castor, served in the Union forces under General Bradstreet and was killed during the war. The Castors came from Holmes county, Ohio, and settled as above. The sons soon acted for themselves and Robert settled on section fourteen, Reason on section twenty-five, John on section. fourteen, Josephus, W. P., and George W., remaining to help the “old man.”

Benjamin Rowell settled in 1840, on the south side of Marrowbone Creek on section thirteen. Mr. Rowell died in 1841 but his widow still lives on the old homestead. He came from New York.

As near as can be ascertained, James Wood, Joseph Wood, and Edward Wood were the first settlers after the Mormons. They were from Kentucky, and staked their claims near, and on Smith Creek, in the northwest part of the township in 1839. They were prominent citizens in the early days and reared large families. James and Joseph are both dead, but Edward still lives on the place he first moved to forty-four years ago. Edward Wood and Joseph Castor are the two oldest settlers in the township now living.

Abner Osborn, from Indiana, soon followed the Woods and settled on section four. He, too, has crossed the dark river, and his son William now occupies the old homestead. The family is a prominent one in the township. The Kelsos were also early pioneers, coming in the year 1841. Rev. Jeremiah Lenhart came from Ohio in 1839, making his home on section thirteen, in 1841, as did, also, Ira Hulette who settled the same year, locating on section twenty-five. Luther Cole came from Ohio to Clay county in 1838, and moved to Colfax township in the spring of 1842, and was among the first settlers in that part of the township.

Jesse Osborn came from Indiana, in 1842, and settled on section five, and James Drake came from the same State and located on section seven. Along in 1849, came that noted hunter, John W. West, with a wife and four children. If space could be spared the hunting incidents in the life of John W. West would be an exciting chapter. He is yet a hale and hearty old man of seventy-eight years, and is probably the oldest citizen in the town. ship.

The township settled slowly, All along the creeks and branches farms began to show signs of vigorous improvement, but the prairies with their rich carpet of green had little attraction for the early pioneer. Somehow, a desert waste was associated in the minds of the old pioneers with these western, prairies and while they were beautiful to look upon, the settler had little confidence in the richness of their soil or productive properties. So the timber was first settled and the ring of the woodman’s ax was heard, here and there interluded with the crack of the hunter’s rifle, and the death-cry of the victim of his unerring aim.

The principal trading point for this township was at Camden, and Richmond, Ray county, also received a share, and occasionally Liberty, in Clay county, was found to be the chief flour and meal depot for the citizens. There were long tramps to get the necessaries of life, but they were used to such, and with ox-teams and wagons, sometimes going in couples, and some times three or four together, camping out on the way, it was far from being monotonous, and sometimes much of value was added to their loads, for sometimes they took their rifles and generally secured their meat and something more on their way. There is little change of program in pioneer life. They passed through the same routine of toil and privation, met with a similarity of adventures, had their preachings at cabins, their singing and spelling schools, the joy of arrival and the sorrow of parting at death’s door. These, with the perils and the triumphs of the chase, give to the pioneer the full record of the incidents of his early life, and in looking back he finds much to think of with pleasure, little to regret, and enjoys much of life now in dwelling upon the past.

Back to: Daviess County