Harrison’s 2 Thomas Poseys
Karen Schwartz, Special to The Corydon Democrat
Did you know that there are two men named Thomas Posey associated with Harrison County?
The father, Thomas Posey, was born July 9, 1750, in Virginia and served as governor of Indiana Territory from 1813 to 1816. His son, Thomas Lloyd Posey, distinguished by his middle name, was born on March 29, 1781, in Virginia, the sixth of 10 children born to Gen. Thomas Posey and Mary Alexander Thornton Posey. He spent his early years at ‘Greenwood,’ an estate in Spotsylvania County about 18 miles west of Fredericksburg. When young Thomas Posey was 11, the entire Posey clan immigrated to Red Banks on the western frontier in Kentucky (now Henderson County) where they established a home and farming operation known as ‘Longview’ on a military grant earned by Gen. Posey for his Revolutionary War service.
Gen. Thomas Posey was committed to providing a quality education for all his children but was often away on military business. Thomas’ older siblings left Longview one at a time to establish their fortunes in Kentucky, Illinois and Louisiana. This left young Thomas as the oldest resident son so he assumed management of farm and household operations. As the War of 1812 came to an end in late 1813, Gen. Posey summoned 21-year-old Thomas to Jeffersonville, where the general had been appointed governor of Indiana Territory to succeed acting governor John Gibson, who had taken office upon the resignation William Henry Harrison.
Father and son were reunited on Jan. 17, 1814, and young Posey served as secretary, assistant and courier for Gov. Posey’s dealings with the legislature sitting in the territorial capital in Corydon. The elder Posey asserted he was unable to reside in Corydon due to ill health and chose to remain in Jeffersonville close to his physician. This refusal infuriated the legislature and contributed to Posey’s defeat in the state of Indiana’s first gubernatorial race.
Young Thomas also served as assistant collector to Col. Allan D. Thom, collector of Internal Revenue for the federal government. Thom was a close associate of Territorial Gov. Posey, who was defeated by Jonathan Jennings in the race to serve as the first governor of the state of Indiana and relocated to Vincennes to serve as Indian Agent. Young Thomas remained in Jeffersonville for a short time where family legend reports that he befriended the family of young Abraham Lincoln as they traveled to their new home in Indiana.
In the spring of 1816, young Thomas moved to Corydon, the bustling first state capital of Indiana. In 1817, in partnership with Col. Thom, young Thomas built a large federal-style residence, known as the Posey House along Oak Street, one block off the town square. In addition to providing living quarters for the pair, it also contained their offices and housed a general store, cabinet shop and a shop to repair and paint wagons.
Thomas Lloyd Posey resided in this house for 46 years, serving in numerous positions, including stints as cashier of the Corydon branch of the State Bank of Vincennes and treasurer of Harrison County from 1818 to 1821. He served two terms in the state legislature from 1825 to 1826. On the federal level, he acted as pension agent for Indiana veterans of the War of 1812. He even served as chairman of the state legislative committee that welcomed Revolutionary War hero Gen. Marquis de Lafayette, of France, to Jeffersonville on his triumphant tour to the United States in 1825.
Thomas Lloyd was an active member of Corydon Methodist Church, which he could see by looking due east from the Posey House. One small bedroom upstairs was known as the ‘Prophet’s Chamber’ and was always available for traveling Methodist preachers. It is said that Posey always sat up front in the church, facing the congregation when he faithfully attended services. Posey also donated the original ground for Cedar Hill Cemetery to the town of Corydon, was an active member of Pisgah Lodge of Masons in Corydon and contributed generously to community projects.
Although Thomas never married, he did raise 14 orphans or homeless children in the Posey House. One of these, Judge Walter Q. Gresham, who went on to become secretary of state in President Grover Cleveland’s cabinet, is reported to have described his foster father Posey as ‘ … one of the noblest men God ever made.’ Posey was assisted by his chief housekeeper, Aunt Hettie, a former slave who died in 1861 and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery.
Thomas Lloyd Posey died two years later in 1863, at age 72, while visiting his family in Henderson, Ky. He was interred in his brother John Posey’s burial lot in Fernwood Cemetery. His tombstone inscription reads: ‘Mark the perfect man and behold the upright; For the end of that man is peace.’
The Posey House still stands along Oak Street and has recently been restored by the Historical Society of Harrison County through a grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation.
Karen Schwartz, president of the Historical Society of Harrison County, serves on the legacy group of the Harrison County Committee for the Indiana Bicentennial. In preparation of Indiana’s bicentennial in 2016, she is providing a monthly column ‘ focusing on a person, place or event from Harrison County’s history ‘ that gives insight to our history. She said the columns should serve as an introduction and/or summary of a topic but are not intended to include all known facts and information. To suggest a topic, contact Schwartz at 736-2373 or 738-2828, by e-mail at [email protected] or by regular mail at 5850 Devil’s Elbow Road NW, Corydon, IN 47112.