William and Elizabeth Conner's Family
Lavina Conner (1823-1848)
Lavina Conner was the oldest child of William and Elizabeth Conner. She was born on January 4, 1823 while the couple still lived in their two room cabin on the horseshoe prairie. Thus, she would have been approximately one year old when the family moved into their two story brick home in late 1823 or early 1824. Little is known of Lavina’s short life. She married her first cousin James Irwin Conner on October 12, 1841. James was the son of William Conner’s oldest brother James, who had remained in Michigan. The couple had four children who survived infancy: Oliver Irwin, Mary Elizabeth, Herbert James, and Henry. Both Lavina and her husband died in 1848. Whether this was a coincidence or the result of a disease prevalent at the time is unknown.
Richard James Conner (1825-1895)
The oldest son of William and Elizabeth Conner, Richard James Conner was also the first child born in the Conner house. He was married three times; his last wife was Lavina Conner, a granddaughter of his uncle John Conner. Richard followed in his father’s footsteps as a merchant. His first experience was probably in his father’s store in Noblesville, but he also worked with some of William Conner’s partners. He was in the wholesale shoe business in Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Following the Civil War, he opened a business that was described as a prosperous millinery factory in New York City. Unfortunately, due either to a financial downturn in 1872 or a disastrous fire, he lost his business and fortune.
He returned to Indiana after his misfortune, serving in several politically appointed positions. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Marion County Treasurer in 1881. He moved to Spencer, Indiana in 1882, where he formed a mercantile business. He subsequently lost two contests for the Clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court. From 1883-1887 he was the Deputy State Treasurer. He later served as the Clerk of the Jeffersonville State Prison from 1887-1889, when ill health forced his retirement. He moved to Peru, Indiana in 1890 to live with his daughter. Mary Haimbaugh, and purchased an interest in the Miami County Sentinel. He died in 1895.
John Fayette Conner (1827-ca.-1882)
John Fayette (Jack) Conner was born on January 31, 1827 at the Conner house. Details of his life are unknown, but he appears to have been involved in agricultural pursuits. The 1880 Census of Agriculture indicates he was farming the old Conner family lands (on site of present Conner Prairie) on shares that had earlier been sold to J.D. Evans.
He married Elizabeth Gill and had four children. The last of whom, Hiram, was born in 1874. Following John Fayette Conner’s death, his widow and three of the children moved to St. Louis. His daughter Lavina stayed in Indiana and lived with her fraternal grandmother Elizabeth Chapman Conner in a home at Pennsylvania and St. Clair streets in Indianapolis. The two shared a home with Catherine Conner’s daughter, Helen Massey, and George Frederick Conner’s son, Frank Conner.
William Henry Conner (1829-1896)
William Henry “Doc” Conner was born on April 23, 1829. He married Sara Osenbaugh on December 11, 1851 and they had four children. William Henry served in the 101st Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers during the Civil War as a Lieutenant and quartermaster. Though there is no record of his medical training, he listed himself as a “physician” living in Fishers Switch (modern Fishers) in 1874 and was known as “Doc.” After the war he applied for a disability and pension claiming he had contracted “chronic diarrhea.” William Henry was a physician and farmer in Hamilton County until his death in 1896. His widow applied for a widow’s pension in 1896 stating she had no property or income to support herself.
Alexander Hamilton Conner (1832-1891)
The fourth son of William and Elizabeth Conner, Alexander Hamilton (Uncle Ham) Conner was born on August 5, 1831 (some sources indicate it was 1832). He was perhaps married twice and had two children. He studied law under Judge Earl Stone of Noblesville and attended law school in New York and was admitted to the bar in Noblesville in 1854. He was prominent in political circles and was elected to the state legislature in 1856. Young Alexander placed himself on the decidedly fast track and was a power in the Republican Party. He was a trusted aide of Indiana’s controversial wartime Governor Oliver P. Morton. He was Indianapolis’ postmaster from 1861-1865 and an owner of the Indianapolis Journal. Alexander Conner moved to Nebraska in 1872 where he set up law practices in Lincoln and, later, in Kearney. He died in Kearney in 1891.
George Frederick Brown Conner (1834-1918)
George Frederick Brown Conner was the last of the Conner sons born in the Conner house. Born on January 17, 1834, he Married Elizabeth Hazelrigg on September 15, 1857. They had six children. In the 1880 census he listed his profession as teacher, but moved on to other pursuits. George Conner also followed the lead of his father’s pursuits by being involved in real estate. He owned a real estate, insurance, and a loan company in Noblesville. He died in 1918.
Catherine Russell (Russle?) Conner (1836-1896)
Catherine Russell Conner was the last of the Conner children born at the Conner house on Horseshoe Prairie. Born in 1836, she married Moses Massey on August 22, 1853. They had two children, Elizabeth and Helen. At an as yet undetermined time the Masseys divorced (Divorce was a relatively easy course to pursue due to Indiana’s lenient divorce laws during this period.) Catherine reportedly lived with her mother in Indianapolis after the divorce.
Elisha Harrington Conner (1839-1909)
Elisha Harrington Conner was the first of the Conner children to be born after the family’s 1837 move to Noblesville. Born on April 7, 1839, he married Nancy Emma Austin on April 12, 1859. The couple had 11 children. Elisha was also listed on the 1880 census of Agriculture as apparently living on the old Conner land. The property he farmed on shares likely included the Conner House and the “prairie.” It is believed he was still living in the old homestead as late as 1892.
Benjamin Franklin Conner (1842-1899)
Benjamin Franklin Conner may have been the most literate and learned of the Conner children. Born on April 5, 1842, he never married. He served during the Civil War in the 79th Indiana Volunteers and as an aide de camp and orderly to General Knepfler and as a recruiter. Like his Delaware half-brother, John Conner, he was known as Capt. Conner. After the war he was employed as a mail clerk in Noblesville (probably due to, at least partially, to the influence of his brother Hamilton Conner, who was a postmaster in Indianapolis). He later held various posts within Hamilton County, eventually claiming the office of deputy assessor from 1880 until his death. According to his obituary, B.F. Conner was a man of quiet and even disposition, a voracious reader, and a speaker of several languages. He died of dropsy (in modern terms, edema caused by congestive heart failure) in his home at 908 North East Street in Noblesville in 1899.
Margaret Ellen Conner (1846-1928)
Margaret Ellen (Aunt Ellen) Conner was the youngest Conner child. Born on January 5, 1846 when her father was 68 years old, she married James Crans on October 1, 1873. Crans was reportedly a non-practicing physician. Only one of their children survived childhood. Margaret Ellen was musical and taught the piano for many years. It is said that she and her husband supported the unmarried Betty Massey, daughter of Catherine Russell Conner.
Handwritten Family Record
Richard Conner's Obituary
Elisha Hamilton's (Hank) Obituary
Elizabeth's and Benjamin's Obituaries
William H. Conner (Army Document)