(July 6, 1831 – June 4, 1906). John Chalfant New was born to John Bowman New, son of Jethro Mariah Chalfant New, in Vernon, Indiana. His uncle, John Bowman New, served as the first Indiana secretary of state (1816-1825). New’s family moved to Indianapolis sometime during his youth. He studied law at Bethany College, in West Virginia, and graduated in 1851.

After college, New returned to Indianapolis, where he worked in banking, journalism, and law. In 1854, he paused his law career after his election as Marion County Clerk. Shortly after the election, New married Melissa Beeler, with whom he had a son, Harry S. New, born in 1858, who went on to become U.S. Postmaster General (1923-1929).

John Chalfant New’s career spanned 50 years. In early 1862 after the start of the Civil War, Governor Oliver P. Morton appointed him as quartermaster general of the state, succeeding General Thomas A. Morris. In this position, met and became friends with General Ulysses S. Grant. In 1863, New was elected to the Indiana Senate to complete the term of Horatio C. Newcomb.

New also became one of the original incorporators of the Crown Hill Company in 1863. By this time, City Cemetery (later known as Greenlawn), designated as the city burial grounds in 1821 and located on the west side of Kentucky Avenue near White River (only seven blocks southwest of the Circle), had nearly reached capacity. New and the other incorporators founded Crown Hill outside the city as part of the rural cemetery movement, and it became one of the national cemeteries designated to honor Union soldiers killed during the Civil War (See cemeteries).

At war’s end in 1865, New began a 10-year career at first national bank of indianapolis, becoming its president. In 1867, his wife Melissa Beeler died. He then married Elizabeth R. McRae, with whom he had two children.

New, Elijah B. Martindale, a judge and publisher of the Indianapolis Journal, and John Denison, a businessman from Cincinnati, joined in business after the Sheets Hotel burned at the southeast corner of East Ohio and North Pennsylvania streets in downtown Indianapolis in 1874. Together the men purchased the charred remains and launched the 500-room Denison Hotel at this location in 1880.

When Ulysses S. Grant became president, he nominated New to be U.S. treasurer, a position he held from June 30, 1875, to July 1, 1876. New became Indiana’s Republican Party chairman and purchased the Indianapolis Journal from Martindale in 1880. A year later, the paths of New and Thomas A. Morris crossed again. New became an original director of the Indianapolis Water Company, while Morris served as its first president.

In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur appointed New assistant secretary of the treasury, a position he held for two years. New remained the voice of Republican opinion in Indianapolis through his ownership of the Indianapolis Journal. His greatest success as a political operative and newspaper publisher was his advocacy of Benjamin Harrison for the Republican presidential nomination in 1888. He wrote Journal editorials to promote Harrison’s candidacy and distributed thousands of Journal issues among delegates at the Republican National Convention, who subsequently nominated Harrison. Following Harrison’s election to the presidency, he appointed New U.S. consul general to London. He served in this position for the entirety of Harrison’s term in office, 1889 to 1893.

New died at his home, 518 North Pennsylvania Street, and was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Revised May 2023

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