The Robert Marvel III family

                                                   The Robert Marvel Family

Robert Marvel III was born October 7th, 1805 in Sussex County, Delaware.  His parents were Robert Marvel II and Mary Smith. Sometime between 1820 and 1823, Robert Marvel traveled from Delaware westward by way of the National Road being constructed. On May 15, 1820 Congress authorized an extension of the road from Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) to St. Louis, Missouri, connecting it directly to the Mississippi River, and on March 3, 1825 to Jefferson City, Missouri. Work on the extension utilized the pre-existing Zane’s Trace between Wheeling, Virginia and Zanesville, Ohio.  In fact, Robert Marvel worked on the road construction to Zanesville. (see the article about those that worked on the National Road

When the road construction ended in Zanesville, Ohio, he found several jobs. Robert married Sarah Wilkins on August 16, 1827 in Zanesville, Muskingum County, Ohio.  Sarah was born about 1810 in Muskingum County.  Her parents were Daniel G. Wilkins and Mary Dewitt.  Daniel fought in the Revolutionary War and received a land grant in the Ohio Territory.   According to the 1830 Census Robert Marvel had the trade of being a plasterer.  His family started to grow during the next few years.  Julia Ann, George W. and David J.Marvel were born in Zanesville, Ohio.   When work on the next segments of the National Road began, Robert Marvel and his brother-in-law, Hans Wilkins, joined the road crew. By 1835 Robert and Sarah moved their family to Hendricks County, Indiana.  Robert Marvel received two land grants from the United States government – one on October 28th 1835 and the other March 29, 1837. Both were located in Section 29 of Brown Township. He received a total of 80 acres in the northeastern part of Hendricks County.  By 1850, the Robert Marvel family were firmly settled in Hendricks County, Indiana.  He was again a plasterer by trade as well as having farm land.


  1. JULIA ANN2 MARVEL was born on 06 Mar 1829 in Muskingum County, Ohio. She died on 28 Dec 1894 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana (Age: 65). She married Robert Franklin Dickerson on 13 Apr 1848 in Hendricks County, Indiana. He was born on 22 Jul 1825 in Ohio. He died on 04 Mar 1856 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. She married John B. Jones, son of John Jones and Esther Heath Fisher, on 29 Oct 1859 in Indiana. He was born on 07 May 1812 in North
    Carolina. He died on 17 Jan 1874 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana (Age: 61).
  2. GEORGE W. MARVEL was born on 29 Apr 1831 in Muskingum County, Ohio. He died on 11 Dec 1903 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana. He married Sarah Lucinda Dickerson, daughter of Jesse Dickerson and Sarah Lee, on 06 Mar 1853 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She was born on 04 Jul 1835 in Indiana. She died in Mar 1875 in Hendricks County, Indiana. He married (2) LUCINDA C BROWN. She was born on 04 Jul 1835 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She died on 16 Feb 1917 in Brownsburg, Hendricks County, Indiana (Age: 81).
  3. DAVID JAMES MARVEL was born on 10 Jun 1833 in Centerville, Gallia, Ohio. He died on 01 Oct 1897 in Lewis, Clay County, Indiana (Age: 63). He married Amanda Brown, daughter of Levi Brown and Elizabeth Landrom, on 16 Feb 1853 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She was born on 01 Jul 1837 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She died on 01 Mar 1897 in Lewis, Clay County, Indiana.
  4. BETSEY MARVEL was born in 1835 in Hendricks County, Indiana
  5. JOHN JESU MARVEL was born on 10 Feb 1836 in Hendricks County, Indiana. He died on 19 Feb 1913 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana (Age: 77). He married Mary L Wilson, daughter of John P Wilson and Sarah Sally Carter, on 05 Feb 1857 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana. She was born on 22 Nov 1835 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She died on 03 Jun 1924 in Pike, Marion, Indiana (Death Age: 89).
  6. WILLIAM A. MARVEL was born in 1843 in Hendricks County, Indiana. He died in 1871 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana. He married Angeline V. Wilson, daughter of John P Wilson and Sarah Sally Carter, on 20 Oct 1867 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana. She was born about 1846 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana. She died in 1929. He married Louisa Boston on 19 Sep 1861 in Marion County, Indiana. She was born in Indiana.
  7. MARY M MARVEL was born on 27 Jan 1843 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She died on 18 Jan 1927 in Indianapolis, Indiana (Age: 83). She married George W Hough, son of Isaac Hough and Louisa Ann Howard, on 25 Jul 1867 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana. He was born on 15 Jun 1836 in Hendricks County, Indiana. He died on 23 Apr 1907 in Hendricks County, Indiana (Brownsburg Cemetery).
  8. JOSIAH ‘JOSEPH’ B. MARVEL was born on 25 Jan 1845 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana. He died on 28 Oct 1913 in Brownsburg, Hendricks County, Indiana (Age: 68). He married Nancy L Wilson, daughter of John P Wilson and Sarah Sally Carter, on 31 Dec 1863 in Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana. She was born on 04 Oct 1843 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She died on 14 Nov 1929 in
    Brownsburg, Hendricks County, Indiana.
  9. HESTHER ANN MARVEL was born in 1849 in Hendricks County, Indiana.

Land Patents for Robert Marvel

Robert Marvel held two 40 acres patents of land in Brown Township, Indiana. 1) Sec 29 NWNW received on 10/28/1835 2) Sect 29 NENW received on 3/20/1837.

Click to see the Land Grants for Robert Marvel

This map of Hendricks County, Indiana shows the location of the Robert Marvel Farm  –  Map of Hendricks County showing Robert Marvel Farm

                                                             Marvel Family Settled Here Early

From an article printed in the Brownsburg Guide Wednesday, February 16, 1966 (This page was obtained from the Danville Public Library) To see a copy of the article click here:   Marvel Family Settled Here Early

Among the earliest settlers of Brown Township were Mr. and Mrs. Robert Marvel who have many descendants living today in this area.  John Marvel, one of their sons, is pictured above with his wife.  Mr. Robert Marvel was born in 1804 in Delaware and was married in Muskingum County, Ohio in 1827 to Sarah Wilkins.

They came to Indiana with three children in 1833 and Mr. Marvel entered 80 acres of wild land just west of Marion County in Brown Township, Hendricks County.  He received the deed from the President of the United States.

The Marvel family had been in America since 1652 when Robert Marvel’s great-great-grandfather, John Marvel, came to America from Cambridgeshire, England and settled in Accomac County, Virginia.

Six more children came to bless the Robert Marvel home.  The nine included John, George, David, Betsy, Jehu, William, Mary, Josiah and Hester Ann.  Mr. and Mrs. Robert Marvel and three of their children are buried on the old Wilson farm on Wilson Road named for them.

John Marvel grew up on his father’s farm and always devoted his attention to agriculture.  He was one of the successful farmers of Brown Township.

He married Mary L. Wilson in 1859.  They bought an 80 acre farm and the improvements they made on it were among the best in the township.  It was just north of his father’s farm and 40 acres of it is now a part of the DeWitt Brown place on the north side of 86th Street and the other 40 is now on the south side of 86th Street owned by Mr. Oertly.

Mr. and Mrs. John Marvel had eight children, among whom were Annie and Everett.  Annie married Frank Gardner and Everett married Alice Mark, a school teacher.

She taught in several of the one-room schools of the township.  They had three children, Elsie (Mrs.Gus White of 322 North Green Street, Brownsburg), Clarence Marvel of Wilson Road, and Elnora (Mrs. Clarence Vice of Brownsburg)

John Marvel was a well known horse breeder.  He was so proud of the crops he raised that he always entered them at the Indiana State Fair which he attended every year.  His garden produce and grains of the field won him many blue ribbons and premiums.

The family were members of the Macedonia M.E. Church.  John died on his farm at the age of 75 years.

George Marvel married Sarah Dickerson and among their six children was Rosa, who married Alonzo Sims.  Two of their daughters, Bonnie and Genevieve Sims, live in Clermont today.

Mary Marvel married George Hough and their children included Fred, William, Laura Hough Herring, Icy Hough Wilson, and Sallie Hough Beasley.  Grandchildren of Mary Marvel Hough still in this area include Frank Herring, Marton Beasley, Mrs. Annis Dickey, Charles and Russell Hough, and Mrs. Joyce Waggoner.

Josiah Marvel married Nancy Wilson and their children were Charles, who married Cora Gossett; Ida (Mrs. Wm. Ruse); Mary Alice (Mrs. John Wilson; Cora (Mrs. Clay Weaver); and Harlen H, who married Nannie Mark.

Among descendants of Charles Marvel in the Brownsburg area are Ray Marvel and Mrs. Nancy Everett and children.  Mrs. Hassel Maloney is a daughter-in-law.

Those who are in the area that are descendants of Mary Alice (Mrs. John Wilson) are Mike Wilson, Mrs. Edwin Lovell and children and Guy Wilson.

A newspaper article written by Wayne Guthrie in The Indianapolis News dated March 25, 1974 recalled the memories of Mary E. Studebaker, a great, great granddaughter of Robert and Sarah Marvel.  Mrs. Studebaker wrote, according to Wayne Guthrie –

“Most readers, seeing that, will not have the imagination to comprehend what it actually was to walk into this maze of virgin timber, Indian footpaths, and raging or clogged upstream.   But, my great, great grandfather , Robert Marvel of near Traders Point, did just that.  The story in the family is that he and his young wife walked from Delaware in the early 1800s with their possessions on their horse’s back.”  ( Robert and Sarah wed in Zanesville, Ohio 1827)  Mrs. Studebaker went on to recount of the early Indiana days – “ He took a land grant in the wild northeastern corner of Hendricks County with its eastern border on what is now the county line road between Hendricks and Marion Counties.”  She further relates that “From Traders Point one goes out the Fishback Road and onto the Wilson Road to reach this land.” (the original land grant area) “On a ridge to the right we discovered the burial ground of Robert Marvel and members of his family.”  The article goes on about how the graveyard has deteriorated. Mrs. Studebaker continues with “My mother, now past 96, remembers visiting her great grandfather, Robert Marvel and great grandmother Sarah Wilkins Marvel, in that double log cabin.  Later they had a terrible experience.  Masked robbers entered, tied and tortured them in an effort to get the hidden money which, I believe, was considerable.  They got it.  Sarah did not live long after that experience.”

An article found at the Plainfield Library from the Star-News (no date on article). As you can see family memories and stories take a life of their own.

Hoosier Recalls Indian Grandmother Gave Cookies to Tribe at Cabin Home

                                               By Agnes McCulloch Hanna.

   “Because they knew my grandmother – then a young wife – was an Indian girl and a member of their own Pottawatomie tribe, the Indians came to her log cabin and asked for cake.  She baked ginger cookies, using sorghum molasses for sweetening.  Then they would dance round and round in her dooryard.  This happened not once, but several times”

   Everett E. Marvel, who told me this story of his grandmother, lives not far from this house which replaces the grandparents’ log cabin about five miles northwest of Traders’ Point just across the Hendricks county line in Brown township.  Mr. Marvel is much interested in pioneer times and likes to talk of them.  His great-grandfather was Robert Marvel, a sailor, who came to the American colonies from England and settled in Delaware.  He was a soldier in the war of the revolution, and early in the nineteenth century he started for the West with his family.

                                                Scouted for Home Site

One of his sons married an Indian girl, probably after the family had moved to this locality.  Passing to the west of the new and sparsely settled capital city, Indianapolis, they ..from day to day and scouted for a home site, for land to “take up” from the government.  Finally two separate parcels, each of forty acres of wild land, were selected and entered during the administrations of Andrew Jackson and Martin VanBuren.  This land was attractive because of the ease with which six fine flowing wells were made ready for use.  The cabin was built in the lea or shelter of a hill and this old barn was built on the top of an adjacent one.  The walnut and poplar timbers from the old cabin were used in part in this cabin which replaced the old log structure before the civil war.

                              Resemblance in Kin Marked.

  Mr. Marvel, whose resemblance to his Indiana grandparent is very marked, told of clearing the fine land of its immense timber stands, and of the many relica of the early Indian tribe which he had found as a  boy when working with his father.  It is said that no drop of blood was ever shed in Hendricks county in warfare between the whites and redskins, of whom a thousand (Indians) followed Col. Abel C. Pepper and Gen. Tipton, leaving the forests of their childhood for the new lands west of the Mississippi.  Always interested in aboriginal and pioneer days, Everett Marvel has made a collection of early implements, among them a round stone ball, a most unusual weapon, which was hurled from a net made of thongs.  Another rare piece is a basalt hatchet, whose shaft was broken many years ago.  Other things are tools for skin dressing and corn grinding, which he has refused to sell to other collectors.

                                Trees Planted by Father

They talk about this being a mechanical age,” he said when we were looking at his treasures.  “There’s not a man alive who could shape such tools for grinding corn and dressing skins, nor put such an edge on flint arrow heads; it took tine work to chip flint into such shapes.”  When I asked him about the cottonwood trees under which this little house hides, he said they had been planted as “whips” by his father, Josiah Marvel, the grandson of the English sailor who later became a member of Congress from Delaware.  When the Marvels came to this part of the country, there were bear and deer in plenty, with more than two hundred species of bird life.  By the time this second house was built, the family was raising cattle and hogs and horse and was selling butter along Blake and Patterson streets to city families who came to the neighborhood when the Marvels and who had been early friends.  “Dad said he used to drive to Madison for rock salt for the street:.” Mr. Marvel said. “And he took corn to the Geisendorf mil to be made into meal so it could be .. before the fire on this johnny .. board or cooked in this deep .. with the legs which raised it to a .. the coals on the hearth.  When my father was just a chunk of a boy, he jumped into the creek to rescue a little boy who was drowning, and when people asked his name he ran away all dripping wet.  He was so modest.  He was always interested in local history and was sorry that all the family records fro England and from Delaware were lost.  Neighbors in early .. were the Wilsons, my mother’s family’ the Burdens and Gladwills.  …friends were all who came to live at Traders’ Point.”:  Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Hunter of Indianapolis now own the Marvel farm with its hills and dales and flowing wells.

       Click here to see the original article  –   Hoosier Recalls Indian Grandmother Gave Cookies to Tribe at Cabin Home

The above story is inaccurate in several ways.  Robert Marvel was never in the Revolutionary War.  Sarah Wilkins Marvel was born in Delaware. Thus, not from an indian tribe.  Sarah’s father did participate in the War of 1812 and possibly the Revolutionary War.

        An article from the Brownsburg Record, Brownsburg, Indiana  dated Friday September 22, 1922

                                   A Family Reunion

  “The Marvel reunion was held Sunday at the beautiful country home of Mr. and Mrs. Harlen Marvel of near Traders Point.  All came with well filled baskets and at the noon hour the dinner was spread, the table fairly groaning with all the good things to eat.  Those present were:  Mrs.Ida Ruse of Speedway; Mrs. Cora Weaver, Ollie Ruse, wife and little daughter Eloise; Walter Weaver and son; John Marvel, wife and daughter; Fredia, Ruth and Joe Weaver and Lawrence Anderson, wife and daughter Charlotte all of Indianapolis; Raymond Wilson, wife and son; Raymond Nelson and daughter Lelle Merele; Mrs. Nancy Marvel; Mrs. Allie Wilson and Mr. and Mrs. Guy Wilson of Brownsburg; Mrs. Iva Jordan and son Paul of Indianapolis; Charley Marvel, wife and son Paul and Harold Jordan of Traders Point and Mrs. Anna Chadwick of Los Angeles, California.  It was voted to meet at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Ruse of Speedway, next year.  John Marvel of Indianapolis, was elected president and Miss Daisy Marvel of Traders Point secretary….”

Newspaper Articles about Robert & Sarah Marvel

Resisting Arrest

Resisting Arrest – Robert Marvel and Josiah Marvel – 1863

From THE GAZETTE –  Worthington, Indiana July 30, 1863. Two articles concerning the US Army and Josiah Marvel. They were looking for him as a deserter.

An Old Flea Bitten Grey

From the Danville Union dated September 19, 1878 page 4 column 3 —  Brown Township

Quite an excitement was created by the finding in an out of the way place on the farm of Robert Marvel, a flea bitten grey horse, which had evidently been bled to death and afterwards hid away among logs, woods, etc. Whose horse it is, who killed it and what for, are questions the people are asking. Evidenly there is something wrong.

Bound, Gagged and Robbed.

  1. Click here to see news articles on the robbery of Robert and Sarah Marvel

2) From the The Indianapolis News dated Tuesday July 26, 1881 page 4 

   Four masked men, about 12 o’clock last night, entered the house of Mr. Marvel, near Trader’s Point, ten miles from the city, on the Lafayette pike, and robbed him of $630.  Before obtaining the money they bound and gagged both Mr. Marvel and his wife, after which they ransacked the house until they found the money.  Mr. Trader (Marvel) is seventy-seven years old, and was unable, through physical weakness to offer resistance.  He came to the city this morning and informed the chief of police of the robbery, but could not furnish a clue to the robbers.  He did not see their faces on account of the masks.

3)      From the Fort Wayne Sentinel – Wednesday July 27, 1881 page 1

A Dirty Rascal – Robbed by Masked Men       – Robert Marvel Robbery – Fort Wayne Sentinel Wednesday July 27, 1881 – on

Indianapolis, Ind. July 27 –  Yesterday …. (2nd paragraph) At an early hour this morning four masked men, heavily armed, entered the farm-house of Robert Marvel, thirteen miles northwest of this city, and, under threats of murder, compelled them to disclose the hiding place of $680 which was concealed in an upper room.  The aged couple were tied in such a manner that a release was not effected for several hours.  An adjoining room to Marvel and wife was occupied by Hans Wilkins, a relative, also aged over seventy years.  After securing Marvel the robbers entered Wilkins apartment and attempted to bind him, but he made such a stubborn resistance that he was finally thrown headlong out of an open window, dangerously injuring him about the head and shoulders.  Notwithstanding his hurts he crawled to a neighboring farm house and gave the alarm.  After plundering Marvel the gang fled and were tracked  to within a few miles of this city.  Still they are thought to have been neighbors, owing to their familiarity with the habits and defenseless condition of the family.

4)      From the Wisconsin State Journal – August 2, 1881

Four masked men, heavily armed, entered the farm-house of Robert Marvel, near Indianapolis, robbed the aged couple of $630 which they had concealed in an upper room, and tied them up so securely that they could not release themselves for hours……

5)     From the Warren Republican, Warren County, Williamsport, Indiana.  Thursday August 4, 1881 page 1, column 1.

West and South

…”Four masked men entered the farm-house of Robert Marvel, near Indianapolis, a few days ago, robbed the aged couple of $630 which they had secreted in an upper room, and lied them up so securely that they could not release themselves for hours”. ….

6) From the Nappanee News (Nappanee, Indiana) dated August 11, 1881 on page 3

“The farmers in the triangle caused by the junction of Hendricks, Boone and Marion Counties are in a state of chronic excitement over the series of robberies from which they are suffering. In addition to Robert Marvel, whose family together with himself, were bound and robbed, the farm-houses of James F. Hultz, Mr. Edwards, Captain Ahoms, Hardesty Averg, Newton Pollard and Jasper Geeton have been raided after nightfall since the Marvel affair and more or less despoiled. In the case of Ahoms, his house was set on fire, and when he awoke the thieves were seen running away by the light of the flames. A number of horses have also been stolen. The farmers suspect some rough character in Indianapolis who formerly lived in that neighborhood, and are trying to organize a Vigilance Committee.”

7) From the Lebanon Weekly (Lebanon, Indiana) dated October 6, 1881 on page 2.

“The Marvel robbery just across the line, has culminated in a ten thousand dollar damage suit. George Hough vs. Robert Marvel.”

from Indianapolis, Indiana dated May 17, 1882

Must be a Terrible Swearer
Special to the Sentinel: Greencastle, Ind. May 10 – The case of George W. Hough vs. Robert Marvel, on change of venue from Hendricks county, is occupying the attention of our Court this week. Considerable interest is being manifested in the trial, and a large number of witnesses are in attendance. the charge is slander, and the following language is upon what the charge is based. The defendant a farmer, residing in Hendricks, County, and in the month of July last his house was
broken open in the night time. He was gagged, and the sum of $635 was taken from him, and in the month of September last, in company with other persons, said: ” George Hough, G–d d–m him: Jim Cartrson, Bill Tolin, and d–d Irishman came to my house and gagged me and took my money.” hereby intending to charge the plaintiff with the crime of larceny. The firm of Herod & Winter, of Indianapolis, are for the defendant, while Gladly & Blake, of Danville, and Smiley & Neff, of Greencastle, are for plaintiff.

8)     From The Cincinnati Commerical Tribune – March 30, 1884.

Prominent Indianans Arrested for Murder and Robbery    Special to the Commercial Gazette

Indianapolis, Ind. March 29 — In July, three years ago, the house of Robert Marvel, at Traders’ Point, seven miles north of this city, was robbed. His brother-in-law was thrown from a window, on a stone pile, and died from the effects. Marvel’s wife never recovered from the night’s shock and died. Pinkerton’s detectives have been working on the case for several months, and to-day the Sheriff of this county went out with a posse and arrested John R. Wilson, Tilman Wilson, and John Caldwell, all prominent citizens of that section, and brought them to jail here tonight. Others are implicated.

9)      From The Indianapolis News – March 31 1884

Arrested On an Old Charge

Tillman A. Wilson, J.R. Wilson and John Cadwell were arrested, near Trader’s Point, on Saturday afternoon, and brought to this city on warrants charging them with grand larceny and burglary.  These men are accused of breaking into the house of Robert Maxwell (Marvel) on July 25, 1881, and, under threats of violence, compelling the inmates to surrender what little money there was about the premises.  Hans Wilkins, aged sixty-five, had no money, and was bound and thrown from a second story window.  Mr. ans Mrs. Marvel were bound securely, and the former gave the plunderers $6.35  Wilkins died of his injures a year later, and Mrs. Marvel also passed away.  Her death was doubtless hastened by her dreadful experience.  In following up a clue to the Foreman murder Detective Ten Broeck claims to have discovered evidence which led him to think that the men above named and Sylvester Wilson and Samuel Shambaugh committed the Marvel robbery.  They were indicted by the Hendricks county grand jury.  Sylvester Wilson is the owner of a saloon here, and was arrested Saturday night, and Shambaugh was captured in Hendricks county.  They will all be taken to Danville for trial.

From Indianapolis dated July 29, 1884

Tried for an Old Affair – John R. Wilson, Samuel Shambaugh, John Caldwell and Sylvester Wilson, indicted in Hendricks county, for bucking, gagging and robbing Robert Marvel and wife of $600, July 25, 1881, are on trial before Judge Norton on a change of venue. It is intimated that the state has not much of a case. Marvel’s home was entered after nightfall, and the money taken by force, and the robbery in its various phases, has been agitating Trader’s Point and vicinity ever since. Mr. Marvel at one time accused his son in-law George Hough, with heading the raid, and Hough sued him for slander. The case went to Putnam county on a change of venue, and the jury returned for defendant. The state, in the present trial, is represented by Hadley, Hogate & Blake, and the defense by Billy Herrod.

Robert Marvel has the longest Fast on record in 1889

Robert Marvel made history in that he lived a long time without food for over seventy days.  In fact, this event was reported in The Deseret Weekly – Salt Lake, Utah  dated 1891 in a review of information for 1889.  On page 340 of this review, it reads “August Tu. 20 – Robert Marvel died in Indiana after fasting 70 days; the longest fast on record.”

Published in The Deseret Weekly (published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) 1891. Page 840. Chronology for 1889 – Tues. 20, 1889 … Robert Marvel died in Indiana after fasting 67 days; the longest fast on record.

Also in the Physician and Surgeon an article by J.W. Keating dated 1889 states on page 514 : “Robert Marvel, an octogenarian of Indiana, is believed to have fasted for over seventy days, having taken nothing but water during that time.”

July 17, 1889

According to the Indiana State Sentinel (Indianapolis, Indiana) page 10



Stricken With Paralysis While Working in a Corn Field and Going For Thirty Days Without Food or Water – Slowly Approaching the End.

On the Lafayette pike, near the second toll gate and about half a mile back from the road, ewaiswa the Widow Jones, as she is known to the neighborhood for miles around. With her lives Robert Marvel, an aged relative, who has lately became afflicted with a terrible disease, which has caused him to go without food for twentynine days. Dr. Hasty of this city, whowas called in to see the man, states that the case is a difficult one to diagnose, but is of the opinion that his patient is afficted with an ossitication of the coats of the vessels of the brain. His reason for the supposition is given in the fact that the radial artery feels full of little hard substances, which would indicate this as the trouble.

Marvel was working in an onion patch on the little farm when the disease attacked him. No one was near but his constant companion, a lad of about twelve years. It was in the afternoon and, dripping his hoe, he (Robert Marvel) broke straight for the house, on reaching which he was unable to speak or tell of what had happened him, and furthermore he was almost sightless.

The family got him into the house and into his bed and by this time his whole right side was found to be paralyzed, he having no use of any of the members or muscles on that side of the body. From the moment he was taken down he refused nourishment of any kind. Dr. Hasty, who saw him three days after he had been confined to his room noted that he was sensitive almost alone to touch. A jarring of the bed he noted, and he seemed to look about to ascertain the cause of the disturbance. He could see, however, only a little, as he evinced but little satisfaction after looking about him.

Ever since he was stricken Marvel has been irritable, and will not accept assistance. He pays no attention to a conversation in the room, and when hadled or touched resists and appears vexed. After several days he gained sufficient strength and use of he side to be able to walk. At first, though, he required a little help, but shortly after attached any person offering assistance. It was fiteen days before any substance whatever was taken into his stomach, he fightitng and pitching off his relatives when they attempted to give him water.

The remainder of the article can be viewed by clicking below.

July 31, 1889


Notwithstanding his Age He lives After Fasting Forty-Seven Days.

Indianapolis, July 31 – Robert Marvel, the Pike township octogenerian, whose peculiar case is attracting much attention from physicians, turned the forty-seventh day of his fast yesterday and appears to be as strong as a week ago. Within the past two days, however, his loss of flesh has been more perceptible than any week preceding, his checks being very much sunken and his eyes appearing to fall deeper into their sockets. Monday and yesterday he drank considerable water, and possible a pint of milk, but has taken no solid food.

He sat up in bed several times yesterday, but was evidently fatigued by the effort. He appears more petulant with each day, and will not receive attention from any one but his granddaughter. Several physicians visted him yesterday, and made a thorough examination of his throat, but could not find nothing except what appeared to be a contraction of the muscles. The weight of opnion was that the paralysis has affected the muscles at the base of the tongue and the alimentary canal only.

Six weeks or so ago Mr. Marvel became apparently paralyzed in his throat and unable to swallow, and has remained in that condition since, except that he became able a short time since to swallow water or milk.

According to The Democrat of Alton, Indiana  August 19, 1889 page 3

Nine-Weeks Fast

Indianapolis, August 18. – Robert Marvel, the Pike township farmer, completed the sixty-sixth day of his enforced fast to-night, but Dr. Hasty, his attendant physician, who left his bedside at a late hour, reports that life is nearly exhausted, and he could hardly last much longer.  His trouble originated from a paralytic stroke, and within the time mentioned he has taken altogether not to exceed one gallon of milk and occationaly a sip of water.  No other nourishment of any kind has been administered to him, and practically no medicine, as he was considered beyond remedial agencies from the fast.  So terrible is the emanciation that the abdominal cavity is fallen in and the walls of the abdoman lay in wrinkled folds, through which the backbone is plainly discernible.  The bowels seem to have shriveled and dried up, and there has been no movement, not only for the past sixty-nine days, but for serveral days preceding.  His bearing is gone, but his sight remains.  All the nourishment reaching his brain seems only to have developed his combativeness, and he has persistantly fought his attendants, and his physician reports that the strength of ten men could not have forced him to eat.  At present his weakness is pitiable.  At no time has his pulse exceeded fifty, and frequently it has been forty-five, and even as low as forty and irregular.  His age is 85.  The case is considered the stranges one on record.

Accoding to the Cleveland Plain Dealer – August 20, 1889


An Octogenarian Has Already Fasted Sixty-seven Days.

Indianapolis, Aug. 19, – Robert Marvel, the octogenarian of Pike township, pass the sixtyseventh day of his fast yesterday and is still alive. During the past week, the hard, bony substance which appeared in his veins when he was first attacked by paralysis has increased and is now felt at intervals of two or three inches all over his body. He is very much emaciated and appears to be a veritable living skeleton. He has not spoken a word since June 14 and during the past two weeks has lain almost motionless, except when his bed was being arranged and it was necessary to disturb him. In that time he has drank probably three pints of water but nothing else has passed into his stomach. He has now outlived all expections and the doctors make no predictions as to his future.

Xenia Daily Gazette and Torchlight – Wednesday Evening August 21, 1889 page 1

INDIANAPOLIS, August 20.- Robert Marvel, after fasting sixty-seven days, died this morning at 7 o’clock. His case is so extraordinary that it has attracted the attention not only of the curious public, but of the medical fraternity far and near. He was 85 years Old.

On June 13 Mr. Marvel ate his last square’ meal. For thirty-six days he took absolutely nothing into his stomach. On the thirty-eighth he bit off a piece of pie, but did not eat it. On the thirty-ninth day he drank a small quantity of milk, and at irregular periods he has continued to do so. All told, he has not drank to exceed one gallon of milk in the sixty-seven days that have elapsed since he began to fast.

The effect of this abstinence is such as would be expected. The faster has reduced himself to a “living Shadow”. The case is so far beyond the ordinary that incredulity has been excited. But there is no occasion for this, as Dr. George Hasty, a well known physician of this city, has regularly attended him. The great difficulty in treating him has been his determination to resist all proffered aid. After fasting a full month , he one day arose from his bed and, seizing a pan of water that stood near, drank some of it off. After that milk and water were left near him, and occasionally he would drink a During the last week Marvel has been bedfast, except at times when he would spring up and wander about the house and porch. Sores came upon him by reason of his long confinement, and evidently Marvel has not only suffered long, but severely, though every thing possible was done to relieve him.

His fast is the longest on record, so far as known-. The most prominent case of voluntary fasting-was Tarmer’s. It will be recalled that he ate nothing and drank only water during forty-five days.

The tale of Robert Marvel was carried across the United States. On August 21, 1899 the Philadelphia Inquirer retold the story.

Marvel lived with his relatives in Pike township, seven miles from the city. His trouble began with apoplexy and paralysis.

Marvel was born in Sussex county, Delaware, October 7, 1805. When young he was a sailor for seven years. He came West in 1835. He lived in his later years with his widowed daughter, Mrs. Jones.

Post-Mortem on Robert Marvel

From the Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana dated August 22, 1889 on page 8

“The post-mortem examination of Robert Marvel, who died yesterday, after long illness and fasting, resulted in finding that the entire arterial system at the base of the brain was involved in a calcitic degeneracy. Every artery was clogged with sediment of lime, which entirely cut off the supply of blood. Contrary to the rule in paralytic cases, the veins of the brain were empty, while the arteries contained deposits. The cause of the degeneracy is unknown. For seven years Marvel had had an almost continual headache, and it is said that one time he had had meningitis, the inflammation from which may possibly have induced the late condition. Chalky deposits are often found in cases, but hothing like Marvel’s condition, Dr. Hurty claims, has ever been known.”

Marvel Cemetery Information

Brown Township, Hendricks County, Indiana
NE ¼ of the NW ¼ of Sec 29, T17N R2E
Visited August 2, 2005

Robert and Sarah Marvel Cemetery in Hendricks County, Indiana

This cemetery is on the north side of Wilson Road, just west of Jules Lane.  It can be accessed through the west woods of Jules Lane or from Wilson Road.  From house #10678 on Wilson Road, go behind the house, over the creek and up the gas pipeline trail.  The cemetery is in the woods to the east and is south of the field.  The wire fence and a small marker in the cemetery are difficult to find.

NW: N39°53.700’ W86°19.842’
SE: N39°53.697’ W86°19.841’

Approximate Center:
N39°53.699’ W86°19.842’ or
N395342 W861951

This cemetery is partially fenced but not mowed or maintained.  The small wire fence is down in many places.  A small metal marker reads “The Marvels/ Robert & Sarah.”  A small fieldstone was also noted. The husband and wife were some of the first settlers of this area (Trader’s Point) and walked from Delaware in the early 1800s to get here.  There is an interesting article in the Danville Library that is an interview of their descendant, the one who placed the marker.

Biography information can be found at Find-A-Grave .


Robert and Sarah Marvel Grave Marker

                                                 Grave Marker

If you are interested in helping research and restore Hendricks County cemeteries, please email! Contact Jessica Felix at:

Sarah Wilkins Marvel

Birth: 1808 Delaware
Death: 1875 Hendricks County, Indiana  
Wife of Robert Marvel, married August 16, 1827 in Ohio. Settled near Trader’s Point, Hendricks County, Indiana in 1835.
Burial: Marvel Cemetery Hendricks County, Indiana  Created by: Jessica
Record added: Dec 05, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 23256186

Robert Marvel[

Birth: 1804 Sussex County, Delaware
Death: 1889 Hendricks County, Indiana  

Robert Marvel was the son of Robert and Mary (Smith) Marvel. He married Sarah (Wilkins)on August 16, 1827 in Ohio. They settled at Trader’s Point, Hendricks County, Indiana in 1835, buying 80 acres and creating a successful farm.
Burial: Marvel Cemetery – Hendricks County, Indiana  
Created by: Jessica
Record added: Dec 05, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 23256118
GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 39.8949814, Longitude: -86.3307037

Cemetery notes and/or description:
This cemetery is on the north side of Wilson Road, just west of Jules Lane. It can be accessed through the west woods of Jules Lane or from Wilson Road. From house #10678 on Wilson Road, go behind the house, over the creek and up the gas pipeline trail. The cemetery is in the woods to the east and is south of the field. The wire fence and a small marker in the cemetery are difficult to find.

Other Generations of the Robert Marvel III Family –

These are new updated generation listings. These are from my research of the families of Robert Marvel III.

Click Here for the 2nd Generation of Robert Marvel III

Click Here for the 3rd Generation of Robert Marvel III

Click Here for the 4th Generation of Robert Marvel III

Click Here for the 5th Generation of Robert Marvel III

For the History of Hendricks County, Indiana and the Marvel Family – Click Here