Lintonians of the Past: Andrew Humphreys

My brother David Benefiel another avid historian and researcher wrote this biography of Andrew K. Humphreys in 2003 for a college class. I have edited out the original below without the sources; but if you would like to see the original paper with the sources. Click the link below.

Download Original With Sources: Andrew Humphreys – Biography

Biography of the Honorable Andrew K. Humphreys

Born near Knoxville, Tennessee in Knox County on March 30, 1821 to Hanson Humphreys and Mary Ellis, Andrew Humphreys was raised in nearby Anderson County until the age of six, when his parents moved to Putnam County, Indiana near the city of Greencastle. His educational background consisted of the lessons of the “common school”, but he was said to have had “the best that could then be had without the expenditure of a great deal of money”. At a very early age, he assumed responsibility for the office of Constable in Putnam County. In 1840 he married Miss Eliza Johnson, daughter of Jerriah Johnson of Ohio. Soon after his marriage in 1841, Mr. Humphreys and his bride moved south to Greene County, Indiana residing near the city of Linton. There, he served the county as a blacksmith and a farmer, as well as operating a distillery and serving the region as a lawyer. He had six children with his wife Eliza: Sallie A., Emeline, Levi, Albert G., James Henry, and Andrew.

From 1843 to 1849, Mr. Humphreys served two terms as Justice of the Peace for Greene County. During this period, he enlisted in the Indiana Militia, 47th Regiment and while enrolled achieved the status of 1st Lieutenant in 1846 and as a Major in 1847. It was not until 1849 that he began his career in state politics; as he was elected to the lower house of the state legislature in November of that same year. He remained a vital part of the Indiana State Legislature for several years following, representing Greene County until 1853 when he was elected state senator from Greene and Owen Counties.

In 1857, President James Buchanan appointed him Indian Agent to the Utah Territory, which at that time encompassed present day Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and parts of Idaho and Colorado. He was present during the Utah War between U.S. Military Forces and the Utah Territorial Militia, led by Governor Brigham Young. While serving in this capacity, Mr. Humphreys was appointed deputy United States marshal by Marshall Peter K. Dodson. He served in this capacity until he resigned in June of 1860 and returned to Greene County, Indiana.

Once he returned to Greene County, he continued as an active voice of politics throughout the region. An avid Democrat, Andrew Humphreys supported the option of the Southern States to secede from the Union. Seeing an opportunity to reclaim his position of leadership and further the Democratic Party, Mr. Humphreys joined the Order of American Knights in August of 1863 at a meeting in Terre Haute, Indiana and became leader of the Greene County Lodge. Stemming from this society of Democratic Politicians were several associated secret societies disbursed throughout the northwestern and southern states. Unbeknownst to him, many of the members of these societies, including several sects, had plans of sabotage and conspiracy against the United States Government. During a gathering of Democratic supporters of these groups opposing war; many in favor of the option of secession, a crowd of two or three hundred gathered in Sullivan, Indiana. Once he heard of the commotion, Mr. Humphreys left Linton to intervene in the situation, but because of his presence and his word spoken to his parishioners; a misconception of his purpose at this meeting led the United States Government to accusations of his participation and support of secession. In result of a petition which alleged “that the plaintiff was a member of a military organization hostile to the United States, known as the Sons of Liberty, the object of which was to aid the rebels in arms in the southern States to overthrow the Government”, Andrew Humphreys was arrested in Greene County on October 7, 1864. Known as the Northwestern Conspiracy, a series of trials for treason were held in Indianapolis. Mr. Humphreys was tried against these allegations in November of 1866, but found innocent. He did, however, claim that he agreed with a state’s right to secede, but he did not condone the violence which these secret societies were to have planned.

Ironically, his perseverance was successful and he returned to state politics in 1874, elected state senator of Greene and Daviess Counties. He served only two years for these counties, because late in 1876, he resigned in order to succeed James Douglas “Uncle Jimmy” Williams as congressman for the 2nd district of Indiana, to allow him to take the office of Governor of the state. This included him in the “memorable Forty-Fourth Congress, which decided the celebrated Hayes and Tilden controversy.” On February 4, 1883, Eliza Johnson Humphreys, his wife of 43 years, died. On September 9, 1889, he married his second wife, Julia Rhodenbeck, of Switz City, in Greene County. Between the years of 1889 and 1905, he built a home, for himself and his wife Julia, at 100 East Vincennes Street near the outer edge of the Linton business district. He again vied for the office of state representative, but lost to his opponent in 1892. But he did overcome and served in the state senate in 1894 as a representative from Greene and Sullivan County. During his political career, he voted for eight democratic candidates for US Senator, seven that were elected; and voted for every Democratic candidate for president from 1844 until his death.

Andrew Humphreys died at his home in Linton at 83 years of age on June 24, 1904. He is buried with his first wife, Eliza, in the Humphrey’s Cemetery, also known as the Old Moss Cemetery; located on the original homestead Aquilla and Sarah Harrah Moss. His surname as bears the name of the local park, named Humphreys Park because of his families’ generous donation to the city of Linton. In 1908, the heirs of Honorable Andrew Humphreys donated the land for the Public Library in Linton, Indiana; funded by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. Today, the Margaret Cooper Public Library (Now the Carnegie Heritage and Arts Center of Greene County), a National Historic Landmark, holds an original inscription set in stained glass, “Site of Home of Andrew Humphreys; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Moss”; located in the first floor office window.

Andrew Humphreys Grave

Biographical Memoirs of Greene County, Indiana

Andrew K. Humphreys Portrait

Linton Historical Archives – Cloud Folder


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