Friday, December 13, 2013

Tax Protest : Salamonia, Jay County, Indiana, 1887

Portland Commerical, Portland, Indiana, March 3, 1887, page 1


Ed. Comeercial [sic] : -  This day closes February, and it will be long be remembered as one of the most unfavorable for work and business ever experienced in Jay county.  The bad weather and other things that I will mention in this letter, has completely taken possession of the people in this, Madison, and Noble township.  The County Commissioners, on the 3d day of this month, in special session, made a levy of 100 per cent. on the tax payers along the Bellfountain and Salem pike.  This added to the first estimate, making a tax that is ruinous to the farming interests.  The tax on the first quarter mile is five to six dollars per acre, and in proportion as it goes back.  There was a meeting of tax payers held in Brake & Beard's Hall, the 16th, for the purpose of counseling as to the best course to pursue, in order to secure relief from such oppression.

The meeting was largely attended, resulting in the appointing of a committee of five of the tax payers, as follows: Esq. Birkhammer, David Banta, L.W. Lemaster, D.W. Atkinson, and Dr. Morehouse, who were to go to Portland, and examine all records, and take counsel as to the best thing to do, and report at an adjourned meeting, to be held the 24th.  This committee reported at the last named meeting, with an itemized report, which shows beyond a doubt that "there is something rotten in Denmark."  N. McCoy bid this pike off for $ 12,999.  The records show that he has been allowed over $ 18,000.  After allowing him this, and as liberal for everything pertaining to the pike, there are from six to eight thousand dollars they are asking the tax payers to pay into the treasury that the committee could not find out what would be done with it.  The committee finds a contract signed by two commissioners, but not the engineer.  This contract is on file, but not on record; the Auditor stating that it was not a proper document for record, as it was not properly signed.  Following the committee's report, there was another committee appointed to take proper steps to bring it before the courts and see if there is any relief for us.

There is almost a universal uprising.  The feeling here is, that men who hold office must hue to the line, if they want the respect and support of the people.  The acts of our new commissioner will be examined with others, and if he is wabbling, he had better straighten up or get out of the way.  There will be a cyclone overtake some of the boys if they don't look sharp.  The pike has never been completed; it is the poorest excuse for a pike there is in Jay county.  In order to comply with the specifications, it would take 1 1/2 yards to the rod for the entire line.  If there is no relief from such oppresions as this, we will go west and grow up with the country.


Apparently, my paternal 2nd-great grandfather, Luman Walker Lemasters (1842-1931), was part of a group of tax protesters in the Salamonia area upset at the high tax levied by the Jay County Commissioners in 1887.  Luman was a farmer, whose taxes were definitely affected by the tax increase.

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