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Pyle family history reveals war heroes, county’s first taxi driver

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Editor’s note: This article is part of an effort to showcase Perry County history as part of the celebration this year of the county’s bicentennial. It was written by Molly Hall, a member of the county’s bicentennial committee and a member of the Lafayette Spring Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

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The Pyle-Pile name has had a presence in Perry County as early as 1835, when a Francis Pile was on the list of people paying taxes here. The Pyle family from Perry County is speculated to be the descendants of William Pyle, a Revolutionary War Soldier buried in Breckinridge County, Ky. It was not until the 1860 census that William H. H. Pyle’s name appears and the Pyle family name was established in Perry County, continuing on to the present day.

Settling into Dark Township, William Henry Harrison Pyle married Louisa Chewning, the daughter of Hardin and Mariah Combs Chewning, Oct. 31, 1861. Pyle enlisted as a soldier in the Civil War Aug. 29, 1862, serving in the 81st Regiment of the Indiana Volunteer Infantry. This regiment had a large number of Perry County men.

In the history of the 81st Regiment, it is said that these men were good, hard-fighting, long-enduring and faithful under all circumstances. Most were just good old country boys with the courage and devotion of fighting for a cause they believed in.
This unit was present in 18 conflicts during the Civil War, including Chickamauga, Stone River and the Siege of Atlanta. Perry County men fought with gallantry for their beloved Hoosier homes and the union of our nation.

Charles William Pyle was born Nov. 8, 1888, to Hardin and Melizza Merker Pyle. Melizza was the daughter of Charles Merker and Sarah Elizabeth Aders, two prominent citizens of Dark Township. According to Jim Mosby in “The Living History of Perry County,” a descendant stated that Charles Merker was a farmer, druggist and watch maker. He was also the first farmer in Perry County to use fertilizer.

Charles Pyle, better known as "Gooseberry Pyle," holds the title of the first chauffer of Perry County. His bus taxi, as it was called, picked up passengers from Troy, Tell City and Cannelton and drove folks to the ferry, hotels and stores. Pyle’s daughter, Marcella Busby, recalls fondly that her father drove for the Pop Werner Cab Co. in the early 1920s and that he gained the nickname Gooseberry from eating gooseberry pies at a Tell City bakery on Main Street.

Pyle was married to Florence Litherland and they had eight children. Marcella and her brother, Clyde Pyle, still live in Tell City.