Muster Day by A. F. Shirts -1824 - 1905 (transcribed as it appears in Primitive History Of Hamilton County, Ind - 1901)
**Note: The history recorded by Mr. Shirts was done so in a time before political correctness. We transcribed portions of his work so that the reader may experience it as it was described from 1st and 2nd hand accounts, in authenticity of mood and reflections of its time in history. We honor all those who wove the fabric of this nation's greatness and hope you will celebrate with us by respecting all groups and their contributions to bring us to who we are today through their sacrifice and endurance.
For several years after the organization of this county an organization of the militia was kept up. At stated periods all able-bodied men of the age of twenty-one and under fifty were required to meet at certain places, designated, for drill and to learn military tactics. The militia of this county, except a portion in the west part of the county, met at Conner's mill, southwest of Noblesville. After the men had assembled at or near the muster ground, the colonel, or in his absence the next highest in rank, ordered the men to fall in line. Then the officer in command, superbly mounted, with his plume fastened to his hat and his sword at his side, would ride along the entire length of the line, lining up the men. Then the teaching of the manual of arms began; then the marching ind counter marching until recess. After recess the practice continued for some time, after which the men were dismissed.
Must day was a gala day. It must tot be supposed that none were present except the militia, for every body else were there also for the purpose of seein' the fun, as they would say. All the athletes were there to exhibit themselves and to make matches. The men and boys who claimed to be fleet of foot were there to win races and wagers if possible. "Old scores" were settled in the manner customary at this time. The man with his jug or keg of whisky was there to pick up his 6 1/4 or 12 1/2 cent piece. If it happened to be in the water-melon season, the water-melon vender was there. Many instances of note happened on these occasions. If two men chanced to meet on muster day who were not on friendly terms, they were almost certain to settle their difficulty by resorting to blows, or 'fight it out' as the encounter would be termed, and the best man was voted to have had the honest or right side of the case. This was not right for the reason that might did not make right then any more than it does at present time. But it was too often the case that the right or wrong of quarrels were determined in this way in those early times.
On one occasion a man drove a wagon load of melons near the muster grounds preparatory to selling them. This was early in the day. So he unhitched his horses from the wagon and tied them to the saplings near by, and then called his bull-dog and placed him in the wagon in charge of the load of melons, and started away to take a stroll around the grounds. He was told that he had better stay with his wagon if he wished to save his melons, but he stopped abruptly in his walk, and with all assurance possible said that he would give the entire load of melons to any man who would be able, in his absence, 'to get on that wagon.'
Solomon Finch was present at the time and, although he was then one of the County Commissioners, determined to get possession of that load of melons. So he repaired to the mill-race that had just been constructed and filled his hat with stones of the proper size and walked to within a short distance of the wagon of melons. He then began throwing those stones against the wagon bed, taking good care not to hit the dog that was in the wagon. He kept up this trowing and pounding against the wagon, making all the noise he could with the stones, until the dog, not knowing what made the noise,or where it came from, became frightened and ran away. Finch then took absolute possession of the wagon and melons and told the by-standers that when the original owner came back he would divide the melons among them. Shortly the original owner appeared and found Finch in possession and his dog absent. He was filled with astonishment, of course, and manifested a disposition to go back on his word, but it was neither the time nor the place for a man to attempt to do anything of that kind, so he gave up his melons and there were divided among the people present.