Schwarms settle Hickory Creek bottoms

Several years ago, I was caught unawares at the Ingram Log Cabin Village in Kinmundy. There I was, without a camera, standing in front of the Schwarm family log cabin that had once stood along Hickory Creek, right here in Fayette County!

So, when an ad in the newspaper told that the village was open the weekend of Oct. 13, I grabbed my husband, Dale, and my camera, hopped in the car and visited the village.

I was surprised at how low the ceiling was in the two-story cabin. Not much room in which to rear a family of 10 children. The second-story loft would have held the pallets of the children, along with foodstuff stored against the winter chill.

John Schwarm first entered land in Wheatland Township, Fayette County, on July 10, 1847, when he bought the NW l/4 SW l/4, Section 29. His name on the original patent is spelled “Swarm.” John purchased a second 40-acre tract in the same section two years later.

Turning to "Fayette Facts," the genealogical society quarterly magazine, I found that John was born on June 15, 1812, in Lebanon County, Pa., the son of John and Doraday Schwarm, and came to Fayette County from Marion County, Ohio. He died in Wheatland Township on Jan. 9, 1894, and is buried with his wife in the German Reformed Cemetery.

John married Barbara Hinger on Oct. 6, 1842, in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio. Barbara was born on Feb. 24, 1821, in the Kingdom of Wurttemberg, and died on May 6, 1881, also in Wheatland Township.

John and Barbara’s first three children were born in Marion County, Ohio, a firstborn son dying early; Mary Ann, born in 1844; and Suzanna Schwarm, born in 1846. It was soon after Suzanna’s birth that the family made the westward trek. The National Road would have been surveyed through Illinois by then, and bridges would have been built.

Nine more children were born to the Schwarm family in Illinois, and took up residence in the little log cabin pictured above. These included: William, Samuel Luther, Henry (who died at age 4), Anna, Catherine, Eli, Joseph, Christian and Melinda.

Within a year of the arrival of John and Barbara to the fertile Hickory Creek bottom, their extended families also made the move. This included John Schwarm’s brothers-in-law, Conrad Harpster, John Harkey and Jacob Hinger.

Other Marion County, Ohio, families who followed the migration to Wheatland Township included Bennyhoff, Peters, Hoover, Smail, Mahon and Pryor from Virginia; and Lash and Countryman from Pennsylvania.

Information published in the St. Peter Centennial book says, "Through the influences of both John and Barbara Schwarm, several families gathered in their home on Hickory Creek on Sunday afternoons for worship, using a Lutheran prayer and hymn book.

"Zion Lutheran was formally organized in their log farm home in Old Loogootee on Dec. 25, 1852, with 28 members.

"The church was completed the fall of 1860, and dedicated by Rev. S.W. Harkey. Early services were conducted in German."

The history of Old Loogootee tells of a circuit rider visiting the little group from time to time. Glen Schwarm confirms this by saying that the log cabin home of the John Schwarm family was used by the Lutheran circuit rider to give communion to those living in the area.

The 1870 membership list of Zion Lutheran Church includes family names of the original founders – Peters, Swarm, Harpster, Lear, Hoover, Oakleaf, Ragel, Hinger, Smail, Garret, McDaniel, Fogler, Reed, Pilcher, Harris, Pontious and Stein.

Fayette County is so rich in history! It’s just that sometimes you have to go and look for it.

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