Early Henry settler to be honored in Indiana

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

Staff writer/photographer

More than a century after his death, a former Henry County resident will be honored with a military headstone.

Joseph Hawkins Fitzgerald, a founding member of Drennon Springs Baptist Church will be honored this weekend at another Baptist church in Dearborn County, Indiana where he is buried.

More than 150 years after his death in 1854, a military headstone will be erected at Fitzgerald’s grave.

Jennefer Burk of Robinson, Illinois learned of Fitzgerald from his descendant, Joanie Fitzgerald Henderson.

Burk said she worked with Henderson who was a zealous genealogist. Her enthusiasm was contagious and Burk continued her research even after Henderson died from a brain tumor. “The Fitzgeralds made big contributions to the growth of Henry County,” Burk said.

She said Fitzgerald enlisted in the Legion of the U.S. in 1792 and served in the Indian Wars under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. He fought at The Battle of Ft. Recovery in Ohio and The Battle of Fallen Timbers, helping to open the westward expansion of the U.S. and was discharged in 1795.

Fitzgerald married Keturah Catherine Parkhurst of Shelby County, Kentucky in 1799 just three days after Henry County was formed.

They settled near Drennon Springs and remained there until the 1830’s when they purchased land in Ripley County, Indiana.

One son, David remained in Henry County. He owned an inn and was a tailor in New Castle. He died in New Castle in 1870.

Henry County Historical Society volunteer E.T. Hammer said several members of the Fitzgerald family were buried at the old Masonic Cemetery in New Castle. “There is a Flora, Francis and Henry,” he said, “and a Sarah D. and her daughter Sarah S.”

Burk said she hopes that Henry County descendants of Joseph Hawkins Fitzgerald will make the trip to the Hogan Hill Baptist Church in Aurora, Indiana on Saturday, October 25 for the ceremony honoring their ancestor. She encouraged anyone interested to call her at (618) 592-4311.

“He was an American hero, pioneer and dedicated family man,” Burk said.

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