The pleasant memories which cluster around the names of those who were accorded a representative place among men during life are to be perpetuated only in history, and it is both the duty and the pleasure of the historian to record the life record of Andrew French Carithers, who in pioneer days became a resident of Des Moines county, and for many years figured prominently in agricultural circles. Moreover, his labors were of direct and permanent benefit in the moral development of the community, through his activity in the church. In all life's relations he was found so honorable and upright that his name came to be a synonym of integrity in his adopted county, and he was best loved by those by whom he was best known.
Andrew F. Carithers was born near Fairville, Tenn., June 19, 1823, his parents being John and Elizabeth (Clark) Carithers. The family in the paternal line is of Irish lineage, the grandfather of our subject being Andrew Carithers, who came from Ireland to America. He wedded Esther French, who had also come from the Emerald Isle early in the decade between 1740 and 1750, being at that time nine years of age. From a notice in a local paper at the time of her demise it is found that she was a centenarian when called from this life. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew (French) Carithers, grandparents of our subject, lived in Pennsylvania, and there their four children, Mary, John, Andrew, and Rebecca, were born. The parents were members of the Seceder church, but became Covenanters after their removal to Tennessee, where Andrew Carithers died Sept. 2, 1827. His widow subsequently removed with her family to Princeton, Ind., and died there in 1846. (This would make her more than one hundred years old if she came to America in 1740, at the age of nine.)
The maternal grandparents of Andrew French Carithers were John and Isabelle (McCaleb) Clark. The former was born Oct. 31, 1767, and died April 29, 1838, while his wife was born March 16, 1767, and died Oct. 29, 1797. They were the parents of four children: Mrs. Elizabeth Carithers, John, William, and Mathew Clark. The parents came from Ireland about 1792, when their daughter was but three years of age. They settled in South Carolina, and afterward removed to eastern Tennessee, locating on the Holston River, near Knoxville, where John Clark remained until his removal to Princeton, Ind., in 1837. There his death occurred the following year. He was a ruling elder in the Reformed Presbyterian church, and was connected with the New Side after he came to Princeton. He was extremely well read, being especially familiar with the Scotch authors. In all life's relations he was a man of genuine worth, of kindly, affectionate nature, and very faithful to his family and friends. He was twice married, and had two sons that remained in eastern Tennessee. There is but little known concerning his wife, who bore the maiden name of Isabelle McCaleb, for she died many years ago. Her daughter and grandchildren, however, remember her most kindly, so that she must have been a lady possessed of many excellent traits of character. John Carithers, the father of Andrew F. Carithers, was born Aug. 7, 1788, and was married to Elizabeth Clark of Knoxville, Tenn., April 10, 1810. Soon afterward they removed to Lincoln county, Tennessee, where their family of nine children were born. They were there connected with the Hepziba Congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian church, of which Mr. Carithers was elected ruling elder in 1822. In 1836 he removed to Princeton, Ind., purchasing about two hundred acres of land in Gibson county, upon which he and his wife spent their remaining days. In the year of their arrival there the Princeton Reformed Presbyterian church was reorganized, and John Carithers was elected ruling elder. He died in 1864, having for a number of years survived his wife, who passed away in 1846.
He was over six feet tall, erect, straight, and of dignified appearance. Moreover he possessed superior intellectual endowments, had a fine voice, expressed his thoughts fluently and easily, and at all times his life was actuated by principles founded upon Bible truths as taught in the Westminister confession of faith. He was a power for good in the church and in his neighborhood. He engaged in teaching school in the districts in which he lived, and among his scholars was the gentleman who is now editing the Princeton Clarion, and who said of Mr. Carithers: "This father, who died thirty years ago, was noted in the neighborhood in which he lived for his integrity and eminent Christian character, and was careful to train his household in the truth. The effects of this training are yet seen, 'he being dead yet speaketh' in the generations that follow him."
His wife is remembered to have been rather stout, of about medium height, and of bright, sunny disposition, endearing herself to all who knew her. The following is the record of their family: Isabelle Rebecca, born Oct. 26, 1814, married James Wilson, Aug. 9, 1838, and three children were born to them: Mary E., who died in infancy; John C., who died in the Union army; and Isabelle, who married T. J. Scott in 1867, and is now living in Princeton, Ind. Esther Aseneth, the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Carithers, was born Sept. 9, 1817, married J. W. Paul in 1839, and died near Garnet, Kans., Jan. 6, 1897. Mary Lizada, born April 15, 1819, was married in 1853 to William Stormont, and died Jan. 19, 1894. Andrew French is the next of the father's family. John C. Carithers, born Sept. 20, 1825, married Anna Mclntire July 4, 1865, and died Feb. 20, 1903. Josiah E., born Nov. 19, 1828, was married Dec. 2, 1850, to Elizabeth Lockhart. Helen J., born April 13, 1831, became the wife of David Reid, of Rush county, Ind., and they removed to Morning Sun, Iowa, where Mr. Reid was ruling elder of the Reformed Presbyterian church at the time of his death. Melvina L., the youngest member of the family of John and Elizabeth Carithers, was born Nov. 30, 1833, and in 1863 became the wife of William Peoples, who died April 27, 1896, leaving four children, who reside in Princeton, Ind. Andrew French Carithers began his education in the schools of Tennessee, and later attended the common schools of the Hoosier State, for he was but thirteen years of age when his parents removed to Indiana. After putting aside his textbooks his entire attention was devoted to farm work, and he thus assisted his father for a number of years. Sept. 12, 1848, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Louisa Reid, a daughter of William and Anna (Work) Reid. She was born in Washington county, Indiana, July 7, 1831, in which county she was also educated. Her father, a native of South Carolina, resided in that State during early manhood, and in 1798 removed to Clark county, Indiana, where he followed farming. Because of slavery he lived at various places for about two years, first in Washington county, Indiana, where he became acquainted with, and married, Miss Anna Work, with whom he returned to Clark county. Her father was one of the leading millers of Clark county, being owner of what was known throughout the State as the Tunnel Mills.
About two years after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Carithers came from Iowa to Des Moines county, arriving here in 1850, at which time Mr. Carithers entered one hundred and sixty acres of fine land on Section 7, Yellow Springs township. As he was ill at the time, his good friend and neighbor, Samuel McElhiney, carried money to the land office and had the land entered in his name, but upon returning home made the deed over to Mr. Carithers. Many hardships and trials were to be borne in those early days, and the financial resources of the young couple were limited; but they struggled onward and upward persistently and energetically, and as the years passed prospered in their undertakings. There has never been a cent of mortgage upon their beautiful farm. Mr. Carithers placed his dependence upon the safe and substantial qualities of indefatigable energy and perseverance. He raised his first crop where the brick business block in Morning Sun now stands, his wife dropping all of the corn for that crop. Year by year the work of improvement was carried forward, and the farm is now one of the most attractive in the township, the home being surrounded by beautiful shade trees, which are greatly admired by all.
The journey to the country was made with an old team and wagon, which contained all of their earthly possessions. On account of the swampy condition of the country at that time, their travel was fraught with many difficulties and hardships. The horses tired soon because of the condition of the roads, and finally had to stand a few days in order to rest. They stopped in an old deserted log house, but after cleaning it out it became quite comfortable, and proved a much better shelter than they had enjoyed while camping along the way. Soon, however, they traveled on, selected the land for their future home, and built a small log cabin twelve by fourteen feet. To this primitive home additions and improvements were made as such became necessary, and finally the cabin was replaced by a modern frame residence, which stands to-day as one of the beautiful and substantial homes of the township. The improvements on the farm were all placed there by Mr. Carithers, who set out many walnut trees around his residence, and otherwise beautified the property and added to its value. He was thoroughly progressive and enterprising in all that he did, and prospered as a farmer and stock-raiser. Mr. and Mrs. Carithers had a family of four children: Alice, born March 23, 1852, was graduated on the completion of the classical course at Geneva College, in 1877. She then went as a missionary into the Indian districts, in 1879, where she is still engaged. Work, born, Dec. 19, 1854, was graduated from Geneva College in 1878, and from Allegheny Seminary in 1883. He was then licensed and installed as pastor of Wilkinsburg congregation by the Pittsburg Presbytery, June 20, 1883, and was appointed missionary to the Indians in 1888. There he is successfully laboring still. He married Miss Ella George, of Venice, Pa., May 1, 1883, and they have a daughter, Mary. Anna Carithers, born May 27, 1861, is the wife of Rev. Thomas Patton, who is pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian congregation at Coldenham, N. Y., and they have a son, Ernest. Isaiah Reid, the other member of the Carithers family, is represented elsewhere in this work. Andrew French Carithers departed this life Jan. 8, 1903, and his family lost a kind and loving husband and father, while to the community, which was made better by the life of this good citizen, his death was also the occasion of deep and widespread regret. He possessed many sterling traits of character that were well worthy of emulation. A lifelong member of the Reformed Presbyterian church, he served for fifty years as an elder in the church in Des Moines county, with which he was so long connected, and in which he was a most active, influential, and helpful worker. On the fiftieth anniversary of his eldership a celebration was held by all those who had served with him as elder in the church in Sharon and in Morning Sun. The occasion was a delightful surprise to Mr. Carithers, who was presented by his friends with a gold headed cane bearing the inscription:
From Sharon R. P. Church
A. F. C.
From Session Sept. 9,
In his life he, exemplified the golden rule, doing unto others as he would have them do unto him. In all business relations he followed the idealistic principle of making his business affairs of service to his fellow-men, as well as a source of profit to himself. As a pioneer he took a very active and helpful part in the early improvement and progress of the county, and his influence was ever on the side of right, substantial development, and moral advancement. He was honored by all who knew him for the success which he achieved, for the straightforward methods he followed, and for the good which he did in the world; and left behind him a memory which is as a blessed benediction to all who knew him. His widow, now in her seventy-fourth year, is an ideal mother and a lady respected and loved by all who have the pleasure of her acquaintance. She is still living on the old homestead which her husband entered so many years ago, and with her daughter still presides as hostess over this hospitable home.