In 1805 John and Charles Pinkstaff, brother came to Lawrence county from Kentucky.
Charles found Allison Prairie between Lawrenceville and Vincennes suited to his liking and settled there. John, the grandfather to the spinsters, moved northward to what is now Russell Town. Here he laid the foundation for the home of twelve children, and like Charles, saw to it that in those early frontier days, as now, that the name of Pinkstaff should be the backbone of the settlement.
'Golly' John Pinkstaff, the father of the spinsters was born in 1818. Each of his eleven brothers and sisters, the children of John Sr. received a large tract of land from John Sr. at his death upon which they might establish a home.
The four “spinster sisters” as they are known by Lawrence County folks are not the only members of this third generation of Pinkstaffs. There were four sons, of whom all are now dead. Amos was the eldest. He was drowned in a logging boom but the particulars of his death are not known and may never be known. Redmond, who had returned home to bury his sisters, was from Tulsa, Oklahoma and took part in the land rush in 1898, when Indian territory was being settled in that historic era. He died while in Lawrence county at age 81. The two other sons were Francis and Douglas.
Of the 180 acres given to the father of the spinsters, none have even left the immediate family. The sisters purchased the share of their brother when he left for Oklahoma to seek his fortune.
The first home of the Pinkstaff “girls”, as the people in Lawrence County knew them was a log cabin near the site of the present house which has been their home for the past 65 years. The frame house is to this day is in a good state of repair.
There are five rooms in the house. The front part has two on the first floor and two on the second floor. Separating the two front rooms is a hall leading to the rear, the kitchen, called the dining room by the spinsters after the enclosed summer kitchen was built onto the structure.
At the end of the front of the house is a huge fireplace, the east room being used as a bed room and the west for a sitting room. There are no fireplaces upstairs, but the rooms are of the same dimensions.
The furniture of the rooms is plain but the pieces are of value as antiques. Enormous four posters adorn the bedrooms. The huge kitchen range gives testimony of the many well-cooked meals of wholesome food. Curing their own meat each fall was a fine art with them.
In the early days the Pinkstaffs kept a country store. Supplies were purchased from a wholesale house in Vincennes each week and hauled to the one room log store building in a wagon.
Several years before the father died, the stock of goods was moved into the living room of the home. Martha Ann was the merchant of the family, but after her death the three remaining sisters carried on the business such as it was. The father helped but advanced age prevented him from doing much.
The business made the home too public after the death of Mr. Pinkstaff. Operation of the store was discontinued. The oaken counter and the shelves were removed and the living room again found its proper place in the home.
The operation of the store for so many years and the active life they led served to acclaim the spinsters with most of the people living for miles around. Theirs was not a life of seclusion, but rather one of strict attention to their own affairs. They were just plain folk.
Friendly and hospitable they lived aloof insofar as personal relationships were concerned. Honesty to the “Abe Lincoln Degree” was a religion. In dealing with the public in their store a stick of candy might be broken in two so that a customer might not be given more than was due him. The final penny was returned in change.
Friends and relatives were never permitted to leave the Pinkstaff home without receiving an invitation to eat a meal. The invitation was often pressed and those who remained found it a most inviting meal at their disposal. Wholesome but simple cookery was one of their chief stock-in- trade.
Children of the neighborhood especially found the quaint individuals, the Pinkstaff sisters, a source of joy. The food handed out was a special delight.
Children of relatives no matter how distant were greeted with a kiss from each of the sisters. This was true even in later years, while it was always with a “Howdy, how are you”, that friend or relative, neighbor or stranger was greeted upon visiting the spinsters at their home.
Not until the last few years was the property on the farm allowed to run down to any extent. Advanced age dulled the interest of the three in their own welfare. (More about the Pinkstaff sisters tomorrow.)