Former columnist lived off the land

HANCOCK COUNTY — Mike Vandenbark is looking for an 1866 plat map of Hancock County. Does anyone have such a map?

Mike also claims Charlie Fox as his uncle. Charles Elmer Fox was born June 6, 1913, in a log cabin on Ohio’s Erie Canal, one-half mile west of the Big Wabash in Vigo County.

Fox was a naturalist, a forager and in his earlier life a hobo who lived off the bounty of the land, traveling the railroad. He was the oldest of nine children and claimed to be a mixture of Irish, Scotch, Welsh, German, French and Delaware Indian descent. He was married, had five children and lived on the south side of Charlottesville.

For many years he wrote a column for the Daily Reporter. Later he wrote two books, one of which was published by the University of Oklahoma Press about life on the road. He also wrote a book titled “Weeds and Other Good Things to Eat.” Both of these books appear occasionally and are good reads. Fox was a Hancock County original.

Jerry Duke and members of the Shirley Historical Society are working on Founders Days. The dates are Aug. 14 to 16. A parade will take place that Saturday, and I am sure the group is interested in more floats or possible additional entertainment. If you are interested, contact Jerry Duke at

Some time ago I spent a day with Joe McDonald from Blue River Township exploring the township, and I have lost contact. If you know Joe, please have him email me.

Enough. I have told you everything that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.

You can write to Joe Skvarenina at or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, IN, 46140.