THE FAMILY OF PETER AND CATHERINE HUFFMAN
Robert Biggs was the first settler in what became Monroe Township, Clark County, Indiana. He came in 1806 from Shelby County, Kentucky; prior to that, he had lived in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He is referred to as “Old Father Biggs.”
In 1808, Robert and Jane Miller Biggs sold Peter Huffman 70 acres of land in Grant No. 255 for $330.00. There is a theory that Robert Biggs and Peter Huffman were friends in Pennsylvania before their migration which ended in Clark County, Indiana.
In 1811, Peter Huffman, his wife Catherine and their 5 children migrated to Monroe Township from Tennessee. Several of their children were of adult age, married and had children of their own. One of the daughters, Rachael had married Henry Collins. Both Rachael and Henry were shot to death on September 6, 1812, victims of the “Pigeon Roost Massacre,” when a band of band of 11 Shawnee, Delaware and Miami Indians killed 24 members of the settlement.
There are 2 versions of how the older (grandfather) Peter Huffman who was born in 1749, died:
1) The most likely version is that he was one of the victims of the Pigeon Roost Massacre, and that was also when his wife received a wound in her chest from the rifle ball shot that passed through Peter’s body. It is also likely that this was the same day his grandson (also named Peter) was abducted by the Indians.
2) The other version is that a second Shawnee war party (or perhaps the same party) that perpetrated the Pigeon Roost Massacre revisited the settlement in March of 1813, and concealed themselves behind the banks of Silver Creek on the property of Peter Huffman. From this hiding place they shot and killed Mr. Huffman as he came to the door of his home to look for two of his grandsons who were playing in the barn below the house.
3) Synthesis: From this point the stories agree: From the same ball that Mr. Huffman was killed, Mrs. Huffman was wounded in the breast, the ball lodging in her shoulder-blade. The old gentleman, Mr. Huffman, was killed instantly. The incident came to be known as the “Huffman Defeat.” The Indians took one of the children into captivity and kept him for a number of years. The little boy was Benjamin Huffman’s 5 year old son, Peter — captured and taken away by the same Indians who killed his grandfather (also named Peter).
Family tradition reports that Peter was not returned until about the age of 15 and when he did return, he disapproved of the settler’s lifestyle, slept not in his bed, but on the floor and soon left the family to be on his own.
On December 24, 1823, the U. S. Congress passed a petition referred by the Indian Affairs Committee to Benjamin Huffman for reimbursement of expenses in an attempt to reclaim his child from Indian captivity.
Old Peter Huffman’s daughter Rachel, by this time married to a Mr. Henry Collins, was also killed in the “Pigeon Roost Massacre.” Isaac Huffman was named the administrator of his father’s estate. He and his brother John were to inherit old Peter’s land equally. Later Isaac (and brother Benjamin) moved to and settled in Morgan County until his death in 1860.
Peter Huffman’s Last Will & Testament — August 30, 1810
“Last Will and Testament: I Peter Hufman [note only one ‘f’] of Clark County Indiana Territory being my perfect senses doth there by constitutes and confirm this instrument of writings my last Will and Testament and is by those presents confirm it the name of God as such – Item it is my will and desire that my body shall be decently laid in the Earth. All funeral expenses to be paid, also all my just debts which are but few in magnitude be carefully discharged by my Executors timely
“Item – it is my will and desire that my dearly beloved wife Catherine Hufman shall be carefully supported from the increase of my land, her life time, with one third of my moveable property.
“Item – it is my will and desire that my son Benjamin Hufman shall have one dollar of my estate
“Item – it is my will and desire that my daughter Rachel Hufman now a wife to Henry Collins shall have one dollar of my estate.
“Item – it is my will and desire that my son Isaac Hufman and my son John Hufman shall have all lands to be equally divided between them. It is also my desire son Isaac Hufman shall have what money is coming to me by notice the Tennessee State.
“Item – it is my will that the children be carefully schooled out of moveable property to be supported by the increase of my land with their all other.
Item – it is my will that my daughter Mary Hufman, my daughter Ann Hufman, my daughter Catherine Hufman, my daughter Winifred Hufman, my daughter Rebecca Hufman shall and each of them have one horse and saddle with one leather bed when they come of age.
“Item – it is my will and desire that my wife Catherine Hufman and my son Isaac D. Hufman shall administer upon my estate.
“In testimony of this my last Will and Testament. I do here unto set my hand and seal this Thirtieth Day of August Eighteen Hundred and Ten. (1810)”
It is interesting that in 1928 Lola Mae Biggs, the 2nd great granddaughter of Robert and Jane Biggs, would marry William Crone Huffman, the 3rd great grandson of Peter and Catherine Huffman. William and Lola Mae Biggs Huffman’s granddaughter is my wife, Beth Hublar Hepler.
Andrew J. Huffman, 1819-1890
A prominent father in our Huffman ancestral line is Andrew J. Huffman. We do not know his parentage. It appears that he was born to one of the daughters of Peter and Catherine Huffman, although it could be that he was an issue of one of the sons. It is my feeling that he was probably the son of Mary Huffman.
Andrew J. Huffman married Eliza McComb on 4 March 1841, reportedly the day of President Harrison’s inauguration. Together, they produced a fine family of 12 children. Andrew was a farmer, and in the 1870 census it was reported that he had real estate valued at $3,000 and a personal estate valued at $1,195 — a sizable estate for those days.
Andrew and Eliza were members of the Mount Zion Methodist Church near Henryville, and are buried in the church cemetery there.
(In the family tree, you will notice that I have placed Andrew J. Huffman as the son of “Unknown,” issue of Peter and Catherine Huffman. This is not to suggest that there was another issue of Peter and Catherine, but rather it is a way of placing Andrew J. Huffman in the family tree without designating his parentage, as we do not know to which issue of Peter and Catherine he can be attributed.)
Beth’s mother, Margaret “Peggy” Anne Huffman, was the daughter of William “Bill” Crone Huffman and Lola Mae Biggs. Bill and Lola raised their family of three in Jeffersonville, Indiana — just across the river from Louisville, Kentucky. They were great parents and grandparents. Bill was a gifted mechanic. Lola was a homemaker. Beth has early memories in her grandparents’ home in Jeffersonville before they built a home in their native Monroe Township where their ancestors were the earliest settlers. This Huffman line continues through William “Billy” Crone Huffman, Jr. and his sons. The Huffman research is dedicated to the memory of my mother-in-law, Peggy Huffman Hublar.