Marshall Home Moved Over the River, Through the Woods

This is about my ancestor, Miles Marshall, whose is the oldest burial in the Dexter, Iowa, cemetery. He was the grandfather of Rhoda (Marshall) Neal, who was O.S. Neal‘s mother. They are all buried at Dexter. Except for Rhoda’s father Thomas Neal, Miles’s oldest son, who stayed in Indiana.

Hagerstown [Indiana) newspaper article by Jane Lacy

In the early 1800s, much of the area around Economy and Louisville [Indiana] was settled by people migrating from Tennessee and North Carolina. Early in the second half of that century, the descendants of many of those early settlers were on the move again. Still going west, they stopped in Dallas County, Iowa.

Miles Marshall was one of the few who took part in both the migration from Tennessee to Indiana and from Indiana to Iowa. Having come to the Economy area in 1818, at the age of 28, Marshall remained there 37 years. During that time he established himself as a farmer and respected leader of the community, serving as justice of the peace for 16 years and two terms in the state legislature.

Miles (2)
Miles Marshall (1789-1868)

In 1855, a widower now, Marshall sold his Perry Township property and headed for Iowa with two daughters and four of his sons. Only his oldest son, Thomas, remained in Indiana.

Despite the enticing reports of life in Iowa and the pleadings of his family to join them, Thomas and his [second] wife, Elvira, remained on their Perry Township farm.

Iowa was not unknown to Thomas Marshall. He had travelled [sic] that area by horse and wagon before the Civil War. He had seen the creeks, bordered by good stands of ash and poplar. He was aware of the bast [sic] expanses of plains that would require little clearing before planting the first crop.

Thomas (2)
Thomas Ellsworth Marshall (1811-1901)

At one time Thomas Marshall owned land in Dallas County. Still he opted to stay on his established farm, even after most of his children had joined the transplanted Hoosiers in Iowa. One son, Alonzo (Lon), having gone west in 1868, found Iowa not to his liking and returned to Wayne County four years later.

The farm that Thomas and Elvira Marshall could not leave is located on Economy Road, north of Economy. Since 1953, that property has been owned by the Elbert Mendenhall family.

The large house that was the Thomas Marshall home for more than 50 years originally stood on a hill at the east side of Martindale Creek.

Thomasgarden (2)
According to Indiana historian, C. E. Charles, Thomas Marshall could grow about anything in his extensive garden. Gives a picture of the house before it was moved.

Removal of partitions in the two-story section of the house at various times makes it difficult to reconstruct the original floor plan. However, it is felt that, at the time of construction, the first floor contained two small rooms at the south end and a single large room to the north.

It was the north room that held the fireplace and an enclosed stairway. The one-story addition at the rear probably housed the kitchen and a wash room.

When Thomas Marshall retired to Economy in 1901, he sold the farm to his grandson, Vernon Marshall. Some five years after buying the property, Vernon and Ethel Marshall had the solid, old house moved down the hill and across the creek to its present location at the east edge of Economy Road.

Thom (2)

Family stories report that Ethel refused to leave the house as it was being moved, spending the night in it as it rested astride Martin dale Creek. It was at this time that the Victorian stoop at the front entrance was removed and a front porch, extending the length of the house, was constructed.

By 1927, Vernon and Ethel were again remodeling the Marshall house. Changes made at that time so altered the exterior of the building that it is difficult to recognize it as the same one that Thomas and Elvira built some 70 years before. [Historian C. E. Charles said that this is incorrect.] New windows were installed, the location of the front entrance changed and the front roof line changed. The front porch, added during the 1906 remodelling [sic], was removed and a brick porch added to the north side of the house. No exterior changes have been made to the house since 1927.

About 1948, Paul Banning bought the property from Vernon Marshall’s widow, Ethel. He owned it until 1953 when it was sold to the present owners, Elbert and Frances Mendenhall.

Through the moving of the house and the subsequent remodellings [sic], the contents of the attic were not disburbed [sic]. After the Mendenhalls moved into the house, Mrs. Mendenhall, thinking the contents of the attic a fire hazard, started to clear out the attic.

Apparently Thomas and Elvira were savers. Letters and records of the early Marshalls were found, along with clothing and family keepsakes. Much of the material found in the attic is now owned by the Indiana Historical Society, where it has been catalogued and filed.

[I don’t have access to the photos mentioned below.]

Photo of inside: No evidence remains today in the Elbert Mendenhall home of the living room fireplace that was a part of Thomas Marshall’s original house on Economy Road North. This old print was provided by Mrs. Ralph Wilson, Marshall’s great-great-granddaughter.

Photo of house, maybe people in front: The original Thomas Marshall home shown here was built on the east side of Martindale Creek. Moved alongside Economy Road in 1905 or 1906, the house underwent its first change with the removal of the Victorian stoop and the addition of a porch across the front.

Economymap (2)

Closer photo of house: It was Vernon Marshall, grandson of Thomas, who moved the family home across Martin dale Creek and made the first change in the building’s appearance by adding the long porch (above). Twenty years later he was to remodel the house again to give it its present look.

Photo if house through branches: Thomas Marshall’s house, as it appears today, bears only a faint resemblance to the original structure, built more than 100 years ago. Two major remodeling projects have altered the appearance of the home now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Elbert Mendenhall.



Hagerstown Exponent, Vol. 99, No. 21. Hagerstown, Indiana. 1974.

[Twenty-first in a year-long series of feature stories on structures of the Nettle Creek Area that are 100 or more years old, thus were on the scene in 1875 when The Exponent was founded.]


  1. Dad bought the ‘Marshall Farm’ after returning from WWII and marrying Mom. They lived there when I was born in 1950 and my sister in ’52. Dad had saved enough of his Navy pay to buy the dairy herd. Dad’s family had lived on the farm to the south during his high school years. It had been his grandparents farm. One morning while milking at the Marshall Farm, dad lost his right eye to a cow horn. After he finished milking he went in the house and Mom took him to the doctor. He used to carry me on his shouders, across the fields and the creek, every Sunday morning to his folks house 8/10 of a mile to the south for breakfast. Back problems eventually caused him to quit farming and he sold the farm to ‘Elby’ and Francis Mendenhall. The house he lived in during high school had also been moved 4/10 of a mile south from it’s original site. Before the moves, the houses were within sight of one another on opposite sides of Marshall Road which was replaced by Lindsey Road (now Banning Road). The Marshall house was moved 3/8 of a mile NW from it’s original site. I now live 8/10 of a mile SE of the Marshall house. I can see the wooded patch where the Marshall House originally stood from the back end of our family farm. The old schoolhouse grounds and spring shown on the map are in the woods on our farm. Our kids and nephews hunt mushrooms and deer there.

    • Ken, I’ve been to see “all things Marshall” in Wayne County, Indiana! Did you know Cecil (C. E.) Charles? We stayed with them in about 1972. He was fascinated with the Marshalls, and with all the Hoosiers who ended up in Dallas County, Iowa, before and after the Civil War. I’ll be among the 7th generation of the family buried in the Dexter cemetery, which started with Miles Marshall. I can hardly wait to share your note with Malinda Marshall Danziger. The bottom picture is hers. She visited there a few years ago with her father, then came to Dexter to have me show them “all things Marshall.” The old letters they found in the attic of the home (dated before the Civll War) now belong to the Indiana Historical Library. My email is joynealkidney@gmail.

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