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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Terhune Family in Shelby County, Indiana

William and Elizabeth Kerr Terhune Family

I’m writing this for my cousins and family members who were too young to remember or were not born yet, so that they might have information about our grandparents, William Russell Terhune and his wife, Grace Virginia Sanders Terhune.

Our grandfather, Will, as he was known, was born 24th December 1871 in Decatur County, Indiana. His parents were William Barnett Terhune and Elizabeth Kerr Terhune. Will was the youngest son in the family of ten children. He had one brother and eight sisters. I think he may have been somewhat spoiled by having all those sisters but my memories of him are faint as he passed away when I was seven years old.  I only remember that he was elderly and rather quiet. He always wore a suit and a hat. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so I will return to his younger days.

William and Elizabeth Kerr Terhune moved from Decatur County between 1870 and 1880 and settled in Rush County, Indiana. They lived in a large house just outside of Milroy in Richland Township. The house was still standing in the 1980s and was well-kept.  All of their children were well-educated and became teachers, nurses, and business owners. It was my good fortune to have known several of my Terhune great-aunts, daughters of William and Elizabeth Terhune, who lived in Milroy. They were very sweet and loving.  I do remember that great-aunt Emma seemed a bit scary, being very old and living alone in her huge dark Victorian house. When we would visit her, my sister and I were told by our Mom, Alice Terhune Williams, “Don’t touch ANYTHING”. So we knew that we would have to sit quietly and sip lemonade while the grown-ups talked. Emma’s sister, Grace, lived down the street and around the corner (also in Milroy). She had lots of toys for us as well as cookies and cold drinks.
Young Will Terhune finished his schooling and began to travel.  He established business schools (at various times) in Texas, Missouri and even New Hampshire. He was in Galveston, Texas when the disastrous flood hit in 1900.  According to the U.S. Census for that year, Will was living on 23rd St. in Galveston, aged 27. I do not know how long he had been in Texas but I suspect the flood put an end to his career in Galveston and he moved on.

By 1913 Will had established a new life in Shelbyville, Indiana. From the Farm Journal Directory of Shelby County, Indiana, I found this information:

Terhune, William R. prof Shelbyville Business College 12 ½ East Broadway

Our grandpa Will is pictured in the 1915 and 1916 Shelbyville High School yearbook, The Squib, as a teacher.  He is listed as W.R. Terhune, Business Course. He was also teaching at Shelbyville High School until at least 1920.

I never knew how our grandparents met each other. I suspect it had something to do with the fact that they were both teachers. Our grandmother, Grace, born 13th December 1884, was the daughter of John Sanders and Jane Dubois Sanders, both from Henry County, Indiana.  Between 1870 and 1880 John and Jane Sanders moved to Shelbyville where they took up residence at 53 North West Street. John was a veteran of the Civil War and a member of the Shelby County G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic).  Our grandmother, Grace, was the next-to-youngest child in the family of seven children. She had four sisters and two brothers. Her older sister, Ruby, married William Cossairt, and Ruby assisted in the Cossairt greenhouse and floral business in Shelbyville.  I believe after her husband passed away, their son John took over the business which still flourishes in Shelbyville today.

My mother, Alice, loved to take my sister and me for Sunday afternoon visits to see Aunt Ruby. She lived in Shelbyville, in a big beautiful house on Boggstown Road, next to the greenhouses. We always enjoyed those visits as Aunt Ruby had lots of toys and games, and the best – an old steamer trunk full of lovely old clothes that we played “dress up” with. What I wouldn’t give to have those old fashioned dresses! The memories of those fun times with my sister, my Mom, and our Aunt Ruby are priceless.

Over the years, Mom told me stories of her childhood, when she would spend hours playing in the Cossairt greenhouses . As she grew older, Mom also accompanied her Aunt Ruby and Uncle Will on some vacations, including one to St. Augustine, Florida that she especially enjoyed.

Our grandmother, Grace, was well educated, a graduate of Indiana State Teacher’s College and she also attended Indiana University. She taught in public schools until she married Will.  They were married 2nd June 1917 in Shelbyville by the Rev. Wycoff.  In the 1920 U.S. Census, Will and his bride were living at 220 W. Franklin St. in Shelbyville.  In 1923, they became parents to a son, also named William and in 1924 a daughter (my Mom), Alice, was born. I know our grandmother must have had her hands full with two small children and a business to run! I remember Mom telling us that her mother worked all the time.

Our grandmother, Grace, had a wonderful, sweet personality. She loved to tell the grandchildren stories that she would have invented just for us. We have a collection of the “Santa” stories that she wrote for the family. They are wonderfully entertaining and well-written. How she found time to sit down and put them to paper, I’ll never know!

In October 2012 the Shelbyville News published a very nice story about a woman named Fern Cook, aged 98. She had been a student at the Terhune Business College after she went to high school. She lived with our grandparents, Will and Grace Terhune, at that time. She says, “They had a little business school at Jackson and Harrison Streets. I took typing, bookkeeping and shorthand, helped with housework and babysat. They had two children….”  Upon reading this article, I realized that Fern Cook had been my mother’s babysitter! An amazing revelation!

I don’t know if Mrs. Cook is still around but I would love to talk with her about her life in the Terhune household. I'm sure she would have some great stories to tell!

The things I remember about my Terhune grandparents would not even fill one sheet of paper, I’m sad to admit.  One memory is that they had a small home on East Pennsylvania  St. in Shelbyville.  The house had (and still has) two front doors, one leading into the living room and the other into the room where the business school was located.  Grandpa Will Terhune also had a business school in Indianapolis, located on the Monument Circle in a big office building. I’m not sure when he gave that up, but it was after my parents were married. Dad, Jim Williams, said they went to Indianapolis and cleaned out the business, leaving behind a huge roll-top desk that no one could move because of its size and weight.

Two things I remember clearly about Grandpa Will Terhune – he loved roses and had many beautiful rose bushes in the yard on E. Pennsylvania  St. He also had a small grape arbor in the back yard.  My sister and I liked to play under the arbor, where it was cool and damp in the hot Indiana summers. Grandpa also had a rickety old garage at the back corner of the yard. Dad said that Grandpa used to drive old junky cars, which explained the garage. Mom said that her parents were once in a very bad car accident and were lucky that they weren’t killed. It makes me think that Grandpa might not have been a really great driver!

My Dad and his cousin, Lowell Williams, enjoyed taking Grandpa fishing with them. Lowell said that Grandpa always wore his suit when they went fishing! (I wish I had a picture of this!)  My Dad said one time they took a cooler of beer on their fishing trip and offered one to Grandpa. He accepted it and told my Dad, “Don’t tell Grace!” I always smile when I think of this. It is a great memory.

As for the background of the Terhunes, they are probably one of the first of our ancestors to come to the United States. Albert Terhune  came to New Amsterdam , New York, arriving on the ship, Calmar Sleutel in December 1637. I have read that he was from Hunen, The Netherlands. It is a family legend that the Terhunes were French Hugenots who left France about 1572 following the massacre of St. Bartholomew, where they found religious freedom in the Netherlands. Whether or not that is true, I have never found the evidence. But we do have proof of their residence in early New Amsterdam and the area once known as Flatlands, which is now Brooklyn, New York.  

I have found land records proving the Sanders family was living in early Virginia, in the area close to Jamestown. The first known immigrant was Michael Sanders in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. He was probably born around 1720. His son, William Sanders moved from Virginia to Wayne County, North Carolina about 1785.  William Sanders was a Quaker and had a large “plantation” near the area of Nahunta in Wayne County. Several of his sons moved on to Indiana after his death, including his son, Matthew Sanders, who was our great-great grandfather.  I find it ironic that the Sanders and the Kerr families both came from North Carolina near where I now live.  (Elizabeth Kerr Terhune’s family came from Guilford County, North Carolina, moving to Dearborn County, Indiana about 1816.)

The final chapter of this story --- my Mom, Alice Terhune, was a graduate of the Terhune Business College. She had several secretarial positions, eventually becoming the secretary for Mr. Strauss, of Strauss’ Department Store in downtown Indianapolis. Mom commuted on the bus to her job in the city. So did my Dad, Jim. That is how my parents got to know each other, sharing their daily commute to Indianapolis. A very happy ending!

Small world……

I would like to add a PS to this story. If anyone in Shelby or Rush counties has any additional information about the Terhune family or the Terhune Business College, their descendants would be very grateful if you would share any stories or photos with us. Please send an email to me at: williams.seeker@ gmail.com. Many thanks!