This is a view of the Patoka Presbyterian Church Cemetery, in Patoka, Gibson County, Indiana. There are several members of the Field, Knaub and Steelman families buried in a quiet, nearly forgotten corner of this cemetery.
The people buried here have a bitter sweet story to tell. On July 27th, 1875, the Knaub home was scene of a very happy event. Two sisters, Sally (Sarah Jane) and Caroline Adela Knaub were the brides of George Emery Field and John Wesley Steelman Jr. The Steelmans and the Knaubs had been family friends since the days they lived in Ohio. The John Wesley Steelman Sr. family immigrated to Gibson County, Indiana in 1863. They were followed a year later by the Norman Knaub family. By the end of the century there would be several more marriages among the Fields, the Knaubs and the Steelmans and related families. Rachel Aamelia Knaub would marry Henry Clinton Field a cousin of George. Lucy Adeline Knaub would marry Mark Steelman, and Carrie V. Steelman would marry Elmer Marshall Field.
It had taken some time for the "Buckeye" families to be accepted by the established families of the region. The Steelman Chapel had been built by the Steelmans and Knaubs as a school house for their 20 children. At the young age of just fourteen, Caroline had been chosen as the school's first teacher. The Field children lived on adjoining land and also attended the school.
One can just imagine the excitement. A beautiful warm early autumn day. The fields all round the chapel would have been turning gold with ripening crops. The trees in the nearby woods were turning red, yellow and gold with their fall colors. There would have been much excitement in the Knaub household with two of the seven young daughters getting married on the same day. The Knaub home would have decorated with late summer flowers by the mothers, the sisters, the aunts and friends. Mounds of food would have been prepared for the guests by the relatives and the neighbors. All the prominent families were gathering at the home in their buggies. The Fields, the Knaubs and the Steelmans were large families with connections to many of the other families in the area. The Spains, Hazeltons, the Robbs and the Hinkles would all have been there.
Within the next year Caroline and John would have a daughter, Eva Mae, born July 17, George and Sally would have a son, Wilbur Wallace, born October 8.
Then disaster struck! Sally died the day after Wilbur was born. Little Eva Mae died in late June of 1878 and Wallie died just 10 days later on July 1st. What had begun that magic day in September of 1876, had turned to grief and sadness by the summer of 1878.
The three who died were buried in the western corner of the Old Patoka Cemetery, Sally and the little cousins, Wallie and Eva Mae. Eventually another Knaub sister, Aunt Rachel Amelia would join the them. Three Steelmans are buried here also. They are Mary J., Phebe A. and William. All children of John Wesley Steelman, Sr. And Phebe Elizabeth Hinkle. All cousins of Lavica Hinkle who, in 1881, became the second wife of George Emery Field. George and Lavica are the great-grand parents and great-great-grandparent of Gene and Lucie Field, authors of this website.
Today, all that remains is a monument to mark the site of the Steelman Chapel and a few broken and fading tombstons in the Old Patoka Cemetery as reminders of the lives of these once living people, our ancestors.
Top photo of the Patoka Cemetery courtesy of Randy Fuhrman of Princeton, Indiana