Barton Scott Aikman, Vermillion County INGenWeb


Hon. Barton Scott Aikman

Submitted by Pat Asher, Jan 2013
Source: History of Parke and Vermillion Counties, Indiana; (Indianapolis, Indiana: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1913) pp. 434-439.

It is a well authenticated fact that success comes not as the caprice of chance, but as the legitimate result of well applied energy, unflagging determination and perseverance in a course of action once decided upon by the individual.  Only those who diligently seek the goddess fortuna find her -- she never was known to smile upon the idler or dreamer. The gentleman whose name forms the caption of this biographical sketch clearly understood this fact early in life, so he did not seek any royal road to success, but sought to direct his feet along the well-beaten paths of those who had won in the battle of life along legitimate lines. He had their careers in mind when casting about for a legitimate line to follow, and in tracing his life history it is plainly seen that the prosperity and popularity which Mr. Aikman enjoys has been won by commendable qualities, and it is also his personal worth which has gained for him the high standing in Vermillion and adjoining counties, in which he has long been well known influential and highly esteemed.

Before proceeding with the specific biography of the Hon. Barton S. Aikman, it is deemed advisable to go into the history of this prominent old family at some length. The surname Aikman is of great antiquity in Scotland. Its origin goes back to the time of Macbeth, in the year 1050, or nearly one thousand years ago. It seems that the name was first borne by the commander of the troops that attacked the usurper, Macbeth, before his castle, Dunsinane. It is believed that Shakespeare's "Macbeth" was written from the story of this episode, which is contained in the first history of Scotland. Macbeth murdered Duncan, the king, and seized the throne himself, which he held for some sixteen years. In order to make himself secure he selected the commanding hill of Dunsinane, near the woods of Birnam. Here he built a strong castle. Malcolm, the son of the murdered king, decided to recover his father's throne. He enlisted the aid of Edward, king of England, hiring ten thousand troops from him, and advanced against Macbeth. When the Birnam woods were reached the invading soldiers each secured a large oak bough which they held in front of them in advancing on the castle. In the battle that ensued Macbeth's troops were defeated and he was slain. So, adopting the tradition which Sir Robert Douglas, Scotland's first historian, gives, it would appear that King Malcolm or the commander to whom the attack was committed was the first Aikman. Whoever he was, the success of the strategem of the Birnam oak woods gave him his surname, Oakman or Aikman. From him all the Aikmans are said to have descended. Douglas, in the history already referred to, says that Alexander de Aikman was compelled to submit to King Edward I of England, when he overran Scotland in the year 1296. He adds, "the ancestors of the family appear to have been free barons, and to have settled in the country of Forfar several centuries ago." It is a noteworthy fact that Aikmans are now, as they have been for seven or eight centuries or more, residing still in Forfoarshire. Representatives of the immediate family of the subject of this sketch are still residing in the locality in Scotland mentioned above, whence his forebears came more than a century and a quarter ago. Books of heraldry speak of the Aikman coat-of-arms as one of the oldest in Scotland.

For centuries the Aikmans have been ruling elders in the Presbyterian church, including the famous Pearl Street Presbyterian church in New York City.

Of the Aikman family that concerns this historical publication most specifically, we first hear of John and Mary  (Barr) Aikman, the former born on April 15, 1787, both natives of Virginia or Kentucky. They were married June 14 1804, while living in Kentucky, and the following children were born to them: Barton Stone Aikman, father of Hon. Barton Scott Aikman, the immediate subject of this review, was born October 17, 1805; Sicily Aikman, born December 11, 1808; James Aikman, born January 7, 1810. With these three children, John Aikman and wife moved from Bourbon county, Kentucky, to Daviess county, Indiana, in 1811, and there were born to them in Daviess county the following children: Hugh Aikman, the first white child born in Daviess county, born March 12, 1812; Samuel Aikman, born February 28, 1814; John B. Aikman, born January 15, 1816; Thomas Aikman, born May 5, 1818; Elizabeth Aikman, born January 3, 1821; Mariah Aikman, born November 23, 1822; Mary Aikman, born May 1, 1825; Robert Aikman, born June 1, 1827; William M. Aikman, born March 27, 1830, and Martha Aikman, born October 7, 1832.

Barton Stone Aikman, the eldest of these chldren, came from Daviess county to Vermillion county, Indiana, in about the year 1827, and here began life in typical pioneer fashion, the country being wild and very sparsely settled. He was married to Jane Rhoades, October 17, 1827, the day he was twenty-two years of age. There were born to this union the following children: John, Mary, Elizabeth, William, Silas, Mariah, Robert and James. They are all deceased except Mariah and Robert. After the death of his first wife, Barton Stone Aikman married Mary Jane Amerman on March 10, 1846. She was born in Indiana, November 18, 1824. To this second union nine children were born, namely: Peter is a retired farmer, living in Dana, Indiana; Thomas went west when a boy, became a minister in the Methodist church in Nebraska, and he is now deceased; Hugh is engaged in the general merchandise business at Montezuma, Parke county, this state; Franklin is also a Methodist minister and lives at Crawfordsville, Indiana; Margaret died in infancy; Edgar, deceased, was a practicing physician at Clinton, Indiana; Samuel is a Preesbyterian minister and lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Henry is a grain dealer at West St. Bernice, Vermillion county; Barton Scott, subject of this sketch, is the youngest of the family. The parents of the above named children are both deceased.

Of the present whereabouts of the brothers and sisters of Barton Stone Aikman, father of the subject, we give the following: Sicily Aikman married a man named Robinson and moved to Daviess county, Missouri, where quite a large family of Aikmans now reside. James Aikman, now deceased, has descendants in Daviess county, Indiana, his children being Henry, John, Samuel and Martha, and Mrs. Coleman of Topeka, Kansas. Hugh Aikman's descendants are scattered over the country. Samuel Aikman was married in Daviess county, Indiana, in August, 1833, to Eliza Ann Eades, a cousin of the noted Captain Eades, and shortly afterwards settled in Vermillion county. There were born to them the following children: John, Mary, Elijah, Martha, Margaret, Lucy, Caroline, William, Levi H., Charles C., Lemuel and Adelaide. John B. Aikman died in Daviess county many years ago, and now has one grandson in Terre Haute, John B. Aikman. Thomas Aikman died when a small boy. Elizabeth Aikman married a Hawkins and moved to Greene county, Indiana. Maria Aikman married a Helphinstine, and lived in Daviess county, where her descendants are now found. Mary Aikman married Capt. Isaac McCormick, and left two daughters, Mrs. Corning, of Washington, and Mrs. Pringle, of Bloomfield, Indiana. Robert Aikman has been dead many years, and has one child living, Mrs. Charles Jones, of Washington. William M. Aikman has five children living, Walter, Helen and Laura, of Chicago; Mary, at Washington, and William at Natchez, Mississippi. Martha Aikman married a Johnson and now resides in Kansas, and she is now the only living child of John Aikman.

Barton S. Aikman and Samuel Aikman were two of the early pioneers of Vermillion county. They were brought to this county by their father, John Aikman, to find them a home, about 1830. The public records of the county show that John Aikman made the original entry of a large tract of wild prairie and timber land, which he afterward deeded to these two sons, giving them a start in life, when he returned to his old home in Daviess county. A hero of the wilds and the wilderness himself, with a father's care love and devotion to his children, he bravely led these two sons where they followed and planted for each a home and they each began the battle of life in the primeval forest and untrodden waste of prairie. Here they battled and toiled and by their industry, frugality and perseverance builded for their posterity, not only a rich heritage of lands, but a richer heritage of devotiion and nobility. Samuel died at a ripe old age, and Barton S. died in middle life. The memory of each is honored and respected, not only by a long line of descendants, but by the community in which they lived. The names of the descendants of these two Aikmans are too numerous to record in this sketch. They are all over Vermillion county and some are elsewhere.

From the wilds of Kentucky to the wilds of Indiana came Barton S. Aikman, five years before the latter state was admitted to the Union. During the Indian wars, when his home and loved ones had to be guarded, not only against wild beasts, but against wild and savage red men, he was compelled in his early life, in what is now Daviess county, to build a fort in which to shelter his family against the ravages of Indians. In one of these forts his son Hugh was born. He was Daviess county's first school teacher, one of its first commissioners, and served on the first grand jury that met in the county. He built the first brick house in the county, in 1833, making the brick himself, tramping the mud with oxen. The old house still stands and is occupied by the blood of its builder.

Hon. Barton S. Aikman, subject of this sketch, grew to manhood in Vermillion county and received his education in the public schools of his native community, later taking the course at the Terre Haute State Normal School from which he was graduated with the class of 1884. He began life for himself by teaching school, which he followed with much success for a period of five years. During that period he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1886 and at once began the practice of his profession, which he has continued with ever-increasing success until the present time at Newport, enjoying a large and lucrative practice, figuring prominently in important cases in the local court and taking a position in the front rank of attorneys in a locality long noted for the high order of its legal talent. He has remained a student all his life and has kept fully abreast of the times in all that pertains to his profession. He is a careful, painstaking and persevering lawyer, who spares no pains in looking after the interests of his clients and he has great power before a jury, being a logical, earnest and not infrequently truly eloquent speaker.

Having long manifested an abiding interest in public affairs, Mr. Aikman was elected prosecuting attorney of this circuit in 1890, which position he filled until 1904 in a manner that reflected much credit upon himself and to the eminent satisfaction of his constituents. In 1910 he was elected judge of the forty-seventh judicial circuit, and is still incumbent of this office. He is wearing the judicial ermine with becoming dignity, bringing to every case submitted to him a clearness of perception and ready power of analysis characteristic of the broad-minded and scholarly jurist, and he has by his able and unbiased course given ample room for the justification of the widom of his selection by the people of this circuit, for his decisions have been uniformly fair and clear, showing a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the basic principles of jurisprudence and the modern statutes of Indiana. His vast knowledge of the law is backed by a high purpose and an unconquerable will, as well as vigorous mental powers, guided by high ideals and the highest sense of honor.

Judge Aikman was married in 1889 to Mary B. Chipps, a lady of culture and refinement, and a daughter of James and Martha (Dallas) Chipps, a highly respected old family. Her grandparents were born in Ireland, where they spent their earlier years, coming to Newport, Indiana, many years ago. Mr. Chipps spent his active life successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits, but is now living retired, having accumulated a competency. Politically, he is a Democrat.

The union of Judge Aikman and wife has been blessed by the birth of two children, namely: Given C. Aikman, who is still at home, and Nina, who has also remained with her parents.

The present commodious, attractive and modernly appointed home of Judge Aikman in Newport was built by him some time ago. He has resided continuously here since 1886. Fraternally, he is a member of the Masonic order, the Knights of Pythias, Lodge No. 242, and a charter member of the Modern Woodmen of America, all at Newport. Politically, the judge is a loyal Republican, and has long been active and influential in the ranks being a leader in local affairs. Personally, he is a man of fine address, scholarly, fair-minded, courteous, obliging and affable, but withal, plain, unassuming, a man of the people, who merits in every respect the high esteem in which he is held by all classes.