Robert Fulton, unquestionably the most famous of the family, was born in Pennsylvania on November 14, 1765. His brother, Abraham Smith Fulton, was born in 1772.
While Abraham was teaching school in Louisville, KY, his brother went on to develop a steam-powered rivercraft that completely changed the face of America. Fulton's use of steam to propel the first steamboats on the inland waterways of the United States, touched our area in the early 1800's.
Fulton's dream was to send his steamboat, "The New Orleans", down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to the city of New Orleans, thereby opening a new waterway and eventually opening the development of the West.
"The New Orleans" became a reality, and in 1811 piloted by his associate Nicholas Roosevelt, (great-uncle of Theodore Roosevelt) "puffed and chugged" its way past this area. After a grueling trip, which included the great earthquake of 1811, the steamboat arrived at its New Orleans destination some three months later.
As the craft passed Troy, people were wide-eyed, awed and many hid in bushes along the way, fearful of the smoke-belching machine.
"The New Orleans" apparently refueled coal at a site near Cannelton, IN. Mr. Roosevelt, piloting the boat, had purchased land there some time before the trip with the idea of stockpiling coal for future refueling in this area. It is also believed that the craft took on wood from the woodyards at Troy. This was proven in 1912 when a replica of the boat followed the exact route, celebrating the centennial of the success of the earlier voyage, stopped at Troy to take on wood as the earlier vessel had done. This was reported by a local citizen, who, as a child, boarded the "New Orleans II".
With the success of the "New Orleans" and knowing the on-coming need for coal fuel, Robert Fulton bought 1000 acres of land from Mr. Roosevelt. The land located between Cannelton, IN and Tell City, IN became known as the Fulton Tract. Fulton believed it contained a deep coal vein, but he died before realizing there was very little obtainable coal in the area. This is believed to be the first coal mine in Indiana.
Robert Fulton became ill in 1814 with a lung problem, probably tuberculosis, and in early 1815, contacted his brother, Abraham, to come to the area and look after his land interests. When Robert died in February of 1815, he left $3,000 in his will to him. This could have easily financed Abraham's relocating to this area.
Abraham and his wife, Mary, made the trip down-river and settled in Troy, the only settlement along this stretch of the Ohio. This rough and crude style of living was a far cry from their Louisville, KY home.
He bought three lots in Troy (in the vicinity of the present location of Fortwendel's General Store). He then proceeded to erect a log dwelling. Everything went well for a time, but on October, 20, 1815, disaster struck. While felling trees on what is now known as Fulton Hill, he was crushed to death by a huge log. The log was left where it fell and decayed some years later.
His grieving widow buried him on a hill, just outside of town where he became, allegedly the first white person to be buried in the Troy City Cemetery, as it was said to be an old Indian Burial Ground.
No references have been found relating to any children of Abraham. It is on record that Mary Fulton remarried soon after his death, to an acquaintance of his, Samuel LaForce, a carpenter by trade. Mr. LaForce completed the log cabin that was mentioned on the appraiser's list in 1816.
Disaster struck again when LaForce died in late 1816, cause unknown.
Mary Fulton remarried again in September 1817 and she and her new husband, Edward Bibb, apparently left the area soon thereafter. With her leaving, the last physical remains of the Fulton Family in Perry County was gone.
Fulton Hill was acquired by the Town of Troy from the Indiana Easter Seal Society in 1993. For 40 years, it was used as Camp Koch Summer Retreat for handicapped children of the area and throughout the state.
At the present time, Fulton Hill is a community Center run by the Town's Parks and Recreation Board. Also provided are various picnic areas, a shelter house, playgrounds, nature trails, a campground, and a swimming pool, all on the 39-acre park. The area is quickly becoming a showpiece for the town.
The Troy Parks and Recreation Board
Troy, IN 47588