Where are the Townships located
Fayette Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 442 to 447.
The township of Fayette is one of the oldest organized townships in Vigo county. The name is derived from or an abbreviation of La Fayette, but by whom bestowed is not now known. The township is in the northwest corner of Vigo county, and is bounded on the north by Vermillion county; the Wabash river on the east separates it from Otter Creek township, forming on that side a very irregular boundary. Sugar Creek township is on the south, and the State of Illinois is on the west. Fayette township comprises all of T. 13, R. 9 W., lying west of the Wabash river, constituting an area of about a full congressional township and a quarter. The township was originally covered with a growth of heavy timber; of course much of this has disappeared during the progress of settlement and cultivation. The soil is mostly clay, well adapted to the growth of wheat and grass. The township is well watered by numerous streams, the principal of which is Coal creek. The creek has its source near the northwest corner of the township, and following a generally southwest course, finds its way into the Wabash in Sec. 28. Coal creek, with its tributaries, drains by far the larger part of the township. Three miles north we find the outlet of Salt creek, which also flows from the northwest. Broullette creek crosses the northeast corner. The small streams in the southern part flow southerly into Sugar creek. The surface of Fayette township is undulating, while along Coal creek it is broken into abrupt bluffs and ridges. These bluffs abound in deposits of coal and iron. Excellent quarries of sandstone also abound. It will thus be seen that this township furnishes many and important elements for the growth of material prosperity, and it has already become one of the best cultivated sections in the county. The natural beauties of the country, especially the scenery along Coal creek, are worthy of observation. The iron deposits alluded to are already attracting attention. The coal existing here is bituminous in character, and of excellent quality, and is found not only at the surface, but in the thick layers or strata at a depth of over 200 feet below the surface.
Fayette township has been known as such since about 1821, although it had a political existence under another name (Independence) for some time previous. The first man to pitch a tent or build a cabin within the limits of the township was Jacob Newcomer, who located on a spot just northeast of Sanford, in 1813; he did not, however, purchase land, or indeed attempt a permanent settlement, and after a few years moved away. The first permanent settler was Daniel Barbour, from Jefferson county, New York, who, with his family, settled on Sec. 18, in the latter part of 1817. About the same time Dr. John Durkee settled in the same neighborhood. In 1818 other families came into the township; Elisha Parsons, Col. Baldwin, Mrs. Holmes, Joshua Martin, and perhaps one or two more. All these were from the State of New York. These were the first who bought land, and they were of a class who have made a lasting impression upon the character of the people of this township, than which none stands higher. For several years the population received no accessions to its numbers by immigration, but the township was afterward extensively colonized by Virginians and North Carolinians, principally the former. Prominent among these were the Shirleys, Funkhousers, Hays, and Whitesels, also Frederick Tysers. Afterward his half-brother, Orrin Dowdy, became a prominent citizen of the township. The Barbours were a leading family for forty years. Corey Barbour was probably the first magistrate in the township, or among the first, this distinction being also claimed for Elisha Parsons. Barbour served prior to 1830. One of his decisions has given rise to a somewhat whimsical adage. It is a matter of fact on record among the archives in Terre Haute that a road was laid out from Terre Haute to Sec. 16, in Fayette township, terminating at a "red-oak tree." Some had fenced in this tree, claiming that it was on the side and not in the center of the line of the road. A lawsuit grew out of the dispute which arose. The saying referred to expresses the idea that when a road is so indefinite as to go nowhere, "it goes to a red-oak tree."
Mrs. Dr. Ketchum (nee Eliza Barbour *) was the first white child born in this township, October 27, 1818. The next was Harriet Parsons, about two months later. The first marriage celebrated was that of Cheesbro Taylor and Catherine Nettleton. The first death was that of Sarah McCollough, who was buried in the first graveyard established in the township, on Sec. 18. The first school-house was of logs, and was erected in 1818, on Sec. 18. John Miles taught the first school in this house, and the first sermon was preached in the same place by Rev. Joseph Curtis. The first post-office in the township was established at Newmarket, a place at one time of considerable importance. E. S. Wolf, postmaster. Here also Wolf kept the second store opened in the township. A castor-oil mill was also at one time in successful operation at this place, operated by Henry Calder.
The first mill erected and operated was a horse-mill built by one Revenaugh, in the N. W. 1/4 of Sec. 21, T. 13, R. 10. The first water-mill was the old Clark mill on Coal creek, at the crossing of the Darwin road. A man named Washburn built a mill on Broullette creek more than forty years ago. Mallory's mill was on Coal creek, in the S. W. 1/4 of Sec. 14, T. 13, R. 10, now owned by Samuel Whitesel. A horse-mill in the olden time stood on land belonging to J. H. Shank, S. E. 1/4 of Sec. 10, T. 13, R. 10. The first store kept in the township was opened by Henry Clark, on Sec. 7, T. 13, R. 9, who also ran a distillery, the first and only distillery ever in the township.
Dr. John Durkee was the first physician to locate in the township. After him came Dr. Hubbard. They had so few patients, however, that the first-named turned his attention to farming, and the other to chair-making.
A tannery, built by Stevens & Carson, in the northeast part of Sec. 22, is still in operation. One in the south part of Sec. 9, T. 13, R. 10, was built at a still earlier date by James Farnham, and managed by John Farmer. Elisha Parsons built a tannery in 1821 or 1822, on the northeast corner of Sec. 1, T. 13, R. 10. Durkee's ferry, on the Wabash, was established in August, 1818. This franchise was granted to Salmon Lusk and John Durkee. The first ferryman was Col. Baldwin, who afterward became a prominent citizen in Edgar county, Illinois.
Among the early settlers from New York state were Mrs. Warren and her three sons, Chauncey, Levi G., and William B.; also Henry Clark and his brothers, Howell and Uriah. The Ryan and Shuey families were from Virginia. William Bandy and Drummer Davis participated in the defense of Fort Harrison. Davis died about 1850. Bandy was a Virginian, and had served in the eastern department during the war of 1812. Frederick Tyser, already mentioned, fought at the battle of New Orleans. He was from North Carolina. All these were men of strongly marked characters. All acquired a competency, and lived to a good old age.
The southeast part of the township is, generally, settled by Irish farmers, who are a sober and industrious class, and generally well-to-do. Prominent among them are the McCaffreys, Butlers, and Wards, who are wealthy, and command the respect and confidence of all who know them. Among the old settlers must be mentioned Peter Mallory. He settled here in 1818. He was one of Gen. Harrison's soldiers, and participated in the active scenes of that interesting period. No one knew anything of his history beyond the fact that he came to Vincennes in 1806.
Dr. B. W. Swafford came to New Goshen in 1850. He commenced the practice of medicine there in 1855. The doctor is well and favorably known throughout this entire region, and has, doubtless, borne his full share in developing the resources and moulding the character of the population. He is a native of North Carolina.
The annals of Fayette township seem to be remarkably free from the tragic events that so frequently are found in the records of other townships organized at a more recent date. But one murder was ever committed within its present limits, and it is said but one drunkard was ever known to have lived here.
Broulette creek is so named for a Frenchman who traded with and lived among the Indians in the "early times." Broulette was once obliged to "run the gauntlet," after the Indian fashion. These Indians had a village on the south side of the creek and the event took place on Barbourís prairie near the banks of the Wabash.
About two miles above the mouth of Coal creek is a singular elevation called "Clark's mound." This mound is about twenty-five feet high and one hundred yards long by thirty wide. From the fact that burnt clay is found around its base, and that the ground seems to have been scooped out on the north side of it, the opinion is entertained that the mound is of artificial formation.
The first graveyard was located on Sec. 18, and known as Barbour's graveyard. There are others in the township; Rosehill cemetery, on Sec. 22, is the largest; Shepherd's graveyard is on Sec. 4, T. 13, R. 9; that of the United Brethren is on the S. W. 1/4 of Sec. 6, T. 13, R. 9; one is on Carson's land, Sec. 22, T. 13, R. 10; and still another on the S. E. 1/4 of Sec. 36, T. 13, R. 10.
The township is at present divided into eleven school districts, in each of which is a good frame building. Much attention has been given to the subject of popular education, and the constant aim of the people has been to have the best. The superior character of the people of this township may be clearly inferred from the truly remarkable fact that no saloon or whisky shop has been able to maintain itself since 1856. This result has not been accomplished through any legislative action, but by means of the great law of public opinion. No patronage is given to anyone who sells intoxicating drink, either alone or in the connection with the sale of general merchandise. The simple process of letting alone has thus effected what Maine liquor laws and prohibitory enactments fail to secure.
Fayette township is dotted with churches, principally of the Christian and United Brethren denominations. The first church, however, was organized in a log house, by the Predestinarian Baptists. It has long ceased to exist. The Christian church at West Liberty was organized about the year 1856. Trinity Methodist Episcopal church, on Sec. 5, T. 13, R. 9, was organized about 1870. The first house was burned, but the society has rebuilt. The United Brethren church at New Goshen was built in 1858. The Maple Grove Christian church at the same place was erected in 1871. The United Brethren society at Rose Hill erected their first house about 1848. They have, however, rebuilt on a larger scale. The Methodist Episcopal church at Sanford was first established about 1860. Their house was afterward burned and then rebuilt.
The only incorporated village in the township is Sanford, a station on the Indianapolis & St. Louis railroad, and situated on Sec. 28, on the state line between Indiana and Illinois; in fact, a portion of the village is in Illinois. This place contains a thriving population of about 200. It contains two churches. The first Masonic lodge established at this place was the Sanford Lodge, No. 330, organized in the latter part of 1865, with a membership of seven persons. The first officers were: A. P. Davis, master; B. F. Swafford, senior warden; L. S. Calder, junior warden.
New Goshen, a hamlet of about seventy people, is situated about one mile north of the center of the township. It contains one Masonic and one Odd-Fellows lodge. It is surrounded by wealthy farmers, and it constitutes a center of social and political influence, giving character and tone to the entire township. The settlers in this section are nearly all from Virginia.
Libertyville is situated near the northwest corner of the township, and is a mere postal station.
Tecumseh is shown on the map as situated on the Wabash. Considerable business was formerly done here, Durkee's ferry being located at this point.
It is certainly to the credit of the people of Fayette township, and a strong indorsement of the patriotic impulses that moved them, to state that out of a voting population of about 450, 183 three years' men were sent into the field. Three of these only were commissioned officers: Benson Rippetoe, captain; A. J. Thompson, lieutenant; and B. W. Swafford, surgeon. A full statement of the war record of this township is estimated at about 2,500. There are two voting precincts, one at New Goshen and the other at Vermilion school-house, in the south part of the township.
Harrison Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880.
Mr. Beckwith chose not to write an individual chapter on Harrison Township. Most of his book is on Terre Haute which is within Harrison Township.
Since Harrison Township contains so many historic sites and/or structures, the map is broken up into 12 pieces. Each piece will be listed along with the areas of interest as I complete them; i.e.: Otter Creek Township
Honey Creek Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 479 to 483.
This township lies directly south of Harrison, and embraces all of congressional T. 11, R. 9, except a part of Secs. 5 and 6, which are cut off by the Wabash river. Honey Creek, from which the township takes its name, enters from Riley township on the east, and flows westerly through the township a little north of the center. It is spanned by two fine iron bridges and one or two wooden ones. It is a rich agricultural township, nearly equally divided between prairie and timber. The soil is well adapted to wheat, corn, grass, sweet and Irish potatoes and melons. The township is divided up into small farms, and is mainly occupied by the owners of the land. Some of the finest country residences in the county are found within its limits. An air of thrift and prosperity, everywhere prevalent, indicates the presence of a contented and intelligent people.
The first settler in this township was George Clem, as early perhaps as 1812. He built north of where the state road crosses Honey creek, near where George Kruzan now lives. Mr. Clem died here in 1835. Several of his descendants still live in Honey Creek. Among the other settlers of the west part of the township may be mentioned Judge Hopkins, Jeremiah Moat, Truman Blackman, the first sheriff of the county, and the Durhams. Lambert and Dixon, who were partners in business, each built substantial brick residences about 1817. George Jordan came here in 1817, and cropped the first year on Limberís place. Isaac Pointer, John Blacksome, with his sons William and Jerry, came from Ohio in 1877, and settled near the Hull graveyard. In the southeast part of the township were Daniel Solesby, Robert Bratton and John and Robert McCoskey, about 1822. Samuel Young was also an early settler near where the little village of Youngstown now stands.
Nearly all of the first settlers have now passed away. Of those who are still living, Aunt Gaddy Blacksom can give the most interesting account of life in the early times. She thinks there were not more than twenty families in the township in 1817. People were more sociable and neighborly then than now. She can remember when almost every farmer raised a small field of cotton, and the farmers' wives and daughters spun and wove it into cloth. Before the invention of the "gin" the children were employed in picking out the seed, which was a slow process. Wild game was very abundant when the first settlements were made. Honey creek, without doubt, took its name from the abundance of wild honey found in the trees along its banks. Wild turkey in vast numbers were then to be found in the woods. The last wild bear ever seen in the township was killed by William Durham in 1824.
VILLAGE OF YOUNGSTOWN
This is a little hamlet of eight or ten houses, and is the only town in Honey creek. J. B. McCoskey & Son do a good business here in a country grocery store. There is also a blacksmith shop. The town was laid out in 1865 by Chauncey Carr. The first business house being built in 1868 by George Planett, who was the first postmaster. Since 1869 Mr. McCoskey has held that office.
The Evansville & Cincinnati railroad runs north and south through the township, and on the eastern edge of Youngstown.
The Methodists seem to have been first in organizing societies and building churches. There are now three churches of this denomination, one of the Baptist, and one of the United Brethren. John Dickson and Isaac Lambert, with their wives, were prominent among the first Methodists of the township. The first meetings were held at their houses, and the society was organized as early as 1818 or 1820. After the school-house was built opposite Hull's graveyard it was used as a church, and some say it was dedicated for church purposes. The removed to the Durham school-house, and near here the Grove church was built in 1860. The original expense was about $1,800. The Grove, Mount Pleasant and Bethel churches all belong to the Prairieton circuit. Mt. Pleasant church was built in 1833 in the northeast part of the township. The Baptist church, known as Mt. Zion, was erected in 1855. This society was organized in 1841 by the Rev. Samuel K. Sparks, who was its pastor for twenty-nine years. This is a large and flourishing society, and has an interesting Sunday-school connected with it. Farmer's Chapel, United Brethren church, was built in 1874, and cost about $800. Washington Hess, now deceased, was mainly instrumental in the building of this church, which is situated on Sec. 33. Several interesting camp meetings were held near the Hull school-house; one of these meetings, held as early as 1820, attracted people from Vincennes and other points quite distant. Conspicuous among the early preachers were Samuel Hamilton, Rev. Hargrave, Aaron Wood, Richard Beggs and Samuel Hull.
There are now eight well conducted schools in this township, all of the houses are neat frame buildings. One of the first, if not the very first school-house built, was the Hull school-house, built in 1830. William Stevenson taught school in a log school-house in Sec. 3 about 1835. There were then perhaps five schools in the township. At this time Sec. 16 was rented, and the teachers were compelled to collect their rents to get their pay for teaching. It is related that one teacher having to take corn for his portion, which was not marketable except at the still-house, delivered it there and obtained a barrel of whisky, which he sold to obtain pay for his services. Looking back to this, does it not seem that the temperance cause has advanced perceptibly? The school land in this township sold at an average of about $50 per acres in 1854. Clinton Shattuck and Joseph Thayer were perhaps the first teachers in the township.
In February, 1878, a blue-ribbon society was organized at the Mount Zion church. Mr. Nelson St. Clair was president for the first year. The interest of the society is kept up unabated. It now numbers more than 300 members. Many eminent lecturers have appeared before the society, and it seems that it is to become one of the permanent institutions of the township.
To Honey Creek Grange belongs the honor of organizing the first society of Patrons of Husbandry in the State of Indiana. The organization was effected December 27, 1869, with the presence of O. H. Kelly, secretary of the national grange. The charter members were John Weir and his wife, Thirza, O. M. Curry and his wife Elvira, David Purgh and wife Catherine, Charles E. Grover and wife Emma, George C. Clem and his sisters Martha and Mary J., Fred F. Cornell, Alice Crandell, Ulysses Blacksom and his sister Belle, Joshua T. Crandell, Samuel M. Crandell, Benjamin Perkins and daughter Belle, John Royse, Daniel Crandell, Washington L. Jones, Rachel Dickerson, John L. Weir and sister Sarah, J. . Ryman, Rachel A. Wood, John B. Park, and Martha Crandell. John Weir was the first master and also first master of the state grange. At one time there were about seventy-five members, but of late years there has been a falling off in numbers. There seems to be an awakening now, however, and new members are being taken in.
The Patrons have a hall over No. 6 school-house, near the residence of O. M. Curry, that they built in 1870. Its size is 20x45 feet. This grange has been a great benefit to its members, not only in a pecuniary point of view, but also morally and socially. There is a small point of woods in the southern part of this township, named Negro Point. When Harrison's army was moving through this township the grandfather of E. A. Roberts, with one of his comrades, saw two Negroes in the edge of the grove skulking along, and as they took them for Indians, fired and killed one of them. The other one was sent back into slavery in Kentucky, from where they had been endeavoring to make their escape. A small stream running through this neck of the woods has been from the same circumstance named Negro Run.
In the first settlement of this township, for a few years, it required several days to go to mill and return. As early as 1818, however, Jeremiah Moat, who lived near the site of Davis Pugh's residence, built a small mill which was turned by a horse, working on a tread-wheel. About 1820 or 1823, Dickson and Lambert put up a fine mill on Honey creek, costing them several thousand dollars. The foundations were undermined by the water, and in a few years it was washed down and never rebuilt.
The Poplar Hill, or Hull's graveyard is finely located near the old Lambert place. The first marked grave, and perhaps the first grave opened here, was that of Martin Braddock. He was drowned October 3, 1820. The tombstones were put up about 1833, and were dressed out of rough slabs of sandstone by John Durham. The deceased had a piece of land adjoining that of John Durham, which Mr. Durham wished to buy. Mr. Braddock's legal representatives lived in Pennsylvania, and thither Mr. Durham rode horseback, returning in six weeks with a deed to the land. The relatives of Braddock desired to have the grave marked, and commissioned Mr. Durham to procure and erect suitable stones. There were then no tombstone cutters in the county or near, and Mr. Durham obtained the sandstone, dressed it off, lettered them, and those moss-grown stones are still standing, being probably the first tombstones erected in the county. There is a small burial-ground near the Grove church, called the Durham graveyard, and in the northeast of the township is situated the Mount Pleasant cemetery.
Linton Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 435 to 438.
Linton township is situated in the south center of the county, and is composed of what was formerly part of Pierson and Prairie Creek townships. Its boundaries are, on the north, Honey Creek township, south, Sullivan county, east, Pierson township, and west, Prairie Creek township. It was organized in 1841, receiving its name from one of the early settlers, and contains thirty-six sections of some of the finest farming land in the state, and produces large crops of wheat and corn. Prairie Creek and its tributaries flow through the northwestern portion, and several other small streams in the south and east, furnishing plenty of water for cattle, sheep and hogs, large numbers of which are raised.
The most of the early settlers came from Kentucky, the first being Moses Evans, who arrived in 1812, and settled on the prairie now bearing his name. About the same time Thomas and William Pound and Hamilton Reed came in, also James French, who was a bell-maker and did a large business, trading bells to the Indians, who at the time were numerous in the vicinity. Shortly after his arrival he was driven off by them, but returned again when Fort Harrison was erected. David Goble came among the first, giving his name to the prairie on which he located. Elijah Pound, Ephraim and Joel Kester, the Frakes, William McGlone, R. Beauchamp, David, William and Arthur Boyll, Ephraim, Herman and Smith Sparks, John Carr, John Gunn and John Foxworthy, who was the first school trustee of the township, were among those who arrived at an early day. John Gunn put up the first mill, which was a simple affair run by horse-power, and a little later Bright Thomas, a colored man, an early settler and natural mechanic, erected a water-power mill, to which the pioneers from far and near used to come to have their corn ground.
The first school was held in a log building situated in the south of the township, furnished in the usual primitive fashion with puncheon floor, split poles for seats, the light being admitted through greased paper, which was pasted over an aperture running along one side of the building.
Here, as in most of the townships, we find that the Baptists were the first religions denomination in the field, the first church organized being what is known as Second Prairie Creek Baptist Church, which was constituted August 1, 1828, by a council of the Baptist Association, the Rev. William Stancil being moderator. Shortly afterward a log church was built which was used for worship until 1852, when the present structure, 35x60 feet, was erected on Sec. 17 at a cost of $1,500. Asa Frakes, William Eldridge and other pioneer preachers filled the pulpit occasionally until 1820, when Absalom Stark was called and regularly installed as the pastor, which position he occupied until his death, which happened in 1837. The church has made steady and permanent growth, and now numbers 110 members, and is the only church outside the village in the township.
The only town in this township was formerly known as Hartford, but the name has recently been changed to Pimento. It is located on Sec. 11 on the Evansville, Terre Haute & Chicago railroad, which runs through the eastern half of the township. The town was laid out in 1852 on the land owned by Israel French, the first man to locate in it being Thomas French, who erected a store and dwelling house, and a year later Harvey Weeks arrived and went into partnership with him in general merchandising. In March, 1865, N. . Kennet began business in the drug and general grocery line, and also attends to the post-office. The large flouring-mill erected in 1877 has assisted in encouraging the trade done. Messrs. Leinberger & Co., dry-goods and grocery store, which has opened in the present year, and one or two other small stores, with a blacksmith shop and T. Halberstadt's tavern, complete the list of business establishments.
The building known as Town House was erected in 1858 by subscription, and is 30x60 feet, two stories high. The under story was occupied as a school-house for some time, but is now used for religious meetings. The trustees of the building are E. . French, Joseph Liston, and Richard Sparks.
The upper floor of the Town House is used by Pimento Lodge, No. 292, A. F. and A. M., as a lodge-room. The lodge was instituted December 14, 1861, and the charter granted May 27, 1868, the first officers and organizers being: W. M., John Willey; S. W., William Brown; J. W., James Foreman; secretary, Joseph McGrew; treasurer, M. S. Gunn; G. T. Bailey, H. Boyll, W. O. Collins, G. F. Hampton, James G. Kester, C. W. Russell, E. Gaskins, J. French, O. P. Boyll, G. F. Dougherty, and R. Bennett. This is one of the leading lodges of the fraternity in the county, having assisted in organizing and building up the lodges at Lockport, Shelburn, Centreville and Fairbanks, and at present numbers over forty members. Their hall is large and comfortably furnished. The present officers are: W. M., J. W. Russell; S. W., W. M. Martin; J. W., E. W. Lloyd; treasurer, John A. McGee; secretary, P. Bledsoe.
The Christian (Disciples) congregation, which occupies the lower story of the Town House, was instituted March 17, 1867, at the Union school-house, with twenty-three members, Robert Allen, one of the pioneer preachers of the denomination, being the elder, and worshipped there until January 13, 1872, when they removed to Pimento, uniting with several brethren east of town. They now have a membership of thirty-six, with Elder Wilson as preacher.
The Pimento Baptist congregation meets once a month in the Town House, having been organized in 1876. The present membership is forty, and along with the Christians and Old Baptist denomination, assist in conducting a union Sabbath-school during the summer. Thirty-five is the average attendance.
The Regular Baptist meeting-house, 40 x 60, in Pimento, was built in 1869, at a cost of $1,600. The present pastor, Rev. James Thompson, has held the position since 1861, the congregation having been organized some years earlier.
In the spring of 1880 the Odd-Fellows erected a large two-story building, 40 x 60, which cost $1,400, the upper story containing the lodge and ante-rooms of Linton Lodge, No. 485, while the lower one is occupied by Leinberger & Co. as a store-room. Linton Lodge, No. 485, is one of the best in the county, numbering now sixty-one members. It was instituted April 10, 1875, the first officers and charter members being: N. G., N. Bledsoe; V. G., V. S. Carr; secretary, J. S. Bryon, J. R. McGrew, A. Eldridge, Thos. Sparks, J. Sparks, J. F. Bowler, T. Stout, W. Carr, and W. G. Boston. The present officers are: N. G., W. N. Kester; V. G., L. P. Boyll; permanent secretary, John Randolph; treasurer, D. Boyll, and secretary, A. K. Hedges.
A large hay-press, run by the Celts Brothers, is a feature of considerable importance in the business of the town.
There are nine school districts in the township and ten school-houses, two being situated in Pimento, one as a primary and the other as a high school. J. W. Moore is the present trustee.
A coal shaft was sunk about half a mile south of town a few years ago by a stock company, at a cost of over $5,000, but was only operated two years, when, owing to the water breaking into it, making the expense great, the company collapsed. The property is now owned by Mr. Wyethe, of Terre Haute.
Lost Creek Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 386 to 391.
Lost Creek township, as the name implies, derived its title from the creek of that nature which flows through it. The creek obtained its name on account of its spreading over the sand prairies on leaving this township and having no outlet to the river; it formed an extensive swamp which evaporated in the summer and rendered that neighborhood very unhealthy. Now, however, it is conducted to the river by a large ditch; and the land over which it formerly spread, and was on that account considered worthless, is the best in the county. The southern portion of the township is watered by Little Honey creek, which flows across the southeast corner. The town is located on the eastern side of the county, and is bounded on the north by Nevins township, on the east by Clay county, on the south by Riley, and by Harrison township on the west. It consists of thirty-six sections of fine farming land, the soil being a rich clay loam and yielding unfailing crops of wheat, corn and grass, and is peculiarly well adapted to fruit, large quantities of which are raised and shipped to the city markets. The surface is rolling, and has a splendid natural system of drainage which has been taken advantage of by the enterprising farmers, so that now most of the land is thoroughly under drained with tile. Originally the most of the township was covered with a heavy growth of timber, but now this is mostly gone, having disappeared before the ax of the pioneer.
The first settlers appeared in this township about 1820, settling near the west center of town, among the first being John Colton, Daniel and John Jenks, Antony Conner, and William Phillips, while further south were Moore and George Hussey. In 1825 Zadoc Reeves located in the Jenks settlement, having come from Carlisle, where he had settled in 1819, to build a distillery for Jenks, he being a carpenter and millwright. Another old settler, and probably the first one, was Matthew Gray, who devoted his time entirely to hunting, following that as his sole means of livelihood. His wife used to wear shoes of untanned hog skin, and his own garments were nearly all trophies of his success in the chase. Shortly after the arrival of Reeves came Sylvester Ripley, Isaac Kruzan, Thomas Patterson, James Watson, Joseph Hoskins, Ralph Wilson, the Montgomerys, Moody Chamberlain and Hulse, and a little later, 1835, arrived the Dickerson family and Peter Collins, who settled toward the east side of the township. These were shortly followed by Silas Pierce, John Harper, Isaac Hall and Alfred B. Pegg. The last named was the builder and owner of the Round House, or, rather, Octagon House, from which the trading point known as Round House Corners takes its name.
The advent of new-comers was the never-failing topic of conversation, and constant demands were made upon the time and labor of the pioneers to assist at log rollings and raisings, they thinking nothing of traveling six or eight miles to help raise a cabin or barn, or traveling ten to thirty miles to mill and then have to wait a day or two before they could get their grist. The mills which they patronized were Creel's mill, Markle's mill, in Nevins township, and on some occasions the mills at Roseville and those on Big Raccoon. In the way of social amusements they had their religious meetings, singing schools, sugar boilings and weddings, the latter being occasions of great fun and jollity, where, if the youngsters had not had the advantages of tuition under an expert dance-master, they had many a good hoe-down on puncheon floors, and were not annoyed with bad whisky. The great drawback to this settlement was the lack of good roads. The first step to remedying this matter was taken in 1836, when the National Road was laid out through this township, and was the means of greatly improving the condition of the people here, opening up a means of communication to the market towns, and enabling them to realize upon their surplus produce.
We find that here, as in the history of all other townships, the first public building erected was a school-house. The first one put up in this township was in 1826, the builders being Zadoc Reeves and a man named Hallovey. This was erected in the western side of the town, about half a mile south of the site of the present brick school-house. The first teacher in this house was Mr. Willard, who came from Carlisle to fill the position. It must not, however, be supposed that the pioneers had neglected educational matters for six years. Such was not the case, as previous to building the school-house a small school had been in operation in one of the settler's houses, the name of the teacher of which has not been preserved. Another of the early log school-houses was situated west of where the brick one now stands, having been built about 1830, and in which J. L. Dickerson taught in 1847. Another school-house was built on Sec. 15 about 1831 or 1832, north of John Wilson's residence, the name of the teacher of which we have not been able to discover. The first school-house in the eastern settlement was erected on Sec. 10 about 1850, in which Daniel Dickerson was the first teacher. The township was organized in 1827 or 1828, Mr. Z. Reeves being instrumental in having this done, so that they might have school districts set off. He got up the papers and took the necessary steps to accomplish both objects, and at the meeting was elected school trustee, being the first, and has lived to see the work which he began in so small a manner increase to its present large dimensions. He is now in his eighty-fourth year, and is the oldest original settler in the township.
The first justice of the peace elected was Dr. Jenks, and the first in the eastern settlement was old Mr. Dickerson, who had Doc. Waddle cover corn for him one day, receiving for his pay his wedding fee, the ceremony being celebrated shortly afterward. Weddings were occasions, in those days, of great festivities and frolics, the youths of both sexes traveling long distances to attend them.
There are quite a number of aged people in this township. The oldest lady, of the early settlers, is Mrs. Rosa (Holland) Dickerson.
The meeting-house for religious purposes we find did not appear as early as the school-house, though the pioneer preacher always put in an appearance as soon as a few families had located in one neighborhood. The first meetings were held in the houses of the settlers, and as the congregation increased in number it was removed to the school-house, and on the country becoming thicker settled a meeting-house became a necessity, and had to be built. The first one erected by the Methodist society was in 1837. This was a log structure, and was located half a mile west of where Seeleyville now stands. This church served the society until 1855, when a large frame church was erected, through the united efforts of the citizens generally. This building did not stand very long until it was burned down, supposed to have been the work of an incendiary, as a split had been placed in the congregation through the rivalry of two class leaders. It was never rebuilt, and has had no successor. The early preachers and organizers of this congregation were Brothers Kemp and Long.
The United Brethren held services in the township at various points, Father Hedges being the pioneer preacher of that denomination. They did not erect any church-house, but held their meetings from house to house, and later occupied the school-houses.
The Christian congregation (Disciples) built their meeting-house about 1858, on the southeast corner of Sec. 29, the land having been donated by L. N. Trueblood. The congregation is known as the Union Christian Church of Lost Creek, and was organized August 26, 1855. W. D. Ladd and Alexander Cooper were the first officers, the former being elder and the latter deacon. The first preacher was Anderson Ward, of Illinois. Previous to the building of the meeting-house the church met at Mr. Ladd's home and at the school-houses. The congregation now numbers eighty members, with Ahi Laudermilk as the present preacher. A Sunday-school is connected with the church, at which there is a large attendance, the average being sixty. John Taylor is superintendent.
Old Salem Baptist church, situated on Sec. 36, was organized about thirty-five years ago, through the preaching and labors of Samuel Sparks and other pioneer preachers of that denomination, among whom were Asa Frakes, William Eldridge, and others. The first meeting-house of this society was a log building, 20 x 26, which is still standing. It served the congregation until 1874, when the present meeting-house was erected, 36 x 40 feet, and cost about $2,000. This congregation was formerly a very large one, but is now reduced in number.
In the northern part of the township is a large settlement of the colored people, numbering 110 families, who nearly all came from North Carolina. The first to make a settlement in this neighborhood were Moses Archer and Richard Roberts, about 1830, who were followed the next year, 1831, by Jordan and Abel Anderson. A year later Jerry Anderson, K. Roberts, and Dixon Stewart arrived and proceeded to make farms out of the wilderness. Shortly after their arrival, in 1835, the first school-house was built, being situated one mile west of Jerry Anderson's residence. The first teachers were Abel Anderson and Aaron Smith. This old log school-house still stands, and at present writing is occupied as a dwelling-house, having been superseded as a school-house by the present handsome frame building. The well known desire of the colored folks for religious instruction was early understood, the first preacher to arrive being Bishop William Paul Quinn, who instituted the first colored Methodist congregation here, about 1840. In 1845 the society built a meeting-house 20 x 30 feet, which they occupied for some years, then took it down and erected their present handsome church-house on the same site. The dimensions of this building are 24 x 36 feet, and cost in cash about $600, the members having furnished the lumber and donated considerable labor. The congregation now numbers about forty members, with the Rev. Whitten S. Langford in charge. There is a Sabbath-school in connection with this meeting, with an average attendance of forty-five scholars. John Alexander is superintendent.
The first meeting-house of the Missionary Baptist church (colored) was built in 1862. It was a frame building, 30 x 40 feet, and cost about $1,000. In 1867 it caught fire and was burnt down, but was rebuilt in the following year. The society was organized some years before the building of the church-house by Lewis Artis, through whose efforts it was formed and constituted, and he remained as preacher at this point for eight years. He was succeeded by W. H. Anderson, who conducted the meetings for two years, and was followed by George Anderson, who was pastor some four or five years. The society is now under the care of M. C. Anderson, and numbers about one hundred and twenty-five members. The Sunday-school, under Jesse Artis, superintendent, has seventy-two scholars, and a library of 250 volumes adds greatly to the interest of the school.
The eastern part of the township was formerly known as the flats, and considered of no value, and as illustrating how far this country has outstripped the expectations of the early settlers we would mention that a year or two after his arrival here old Mr. Dickerson, on building a granary capable of holding 300 bushels, was laughed at for building such a large one and ever expecting to raise enough to fill it. The same farm last year produced 1,300 bushels of wheat. Formerly twelve to fifteen bushels per acre was considered a large crop; now it takes thirty or forty bushels to satisfy the farmers. Last year this township produced 102,000 bushels of wheat and 147,000 of corn, and this year will have as good a yield of wheat, but the corn crop will fall short, owing to the protracted drought. The advance made in farming implements has probably tended greatly toward increasing the yield in all kinds of grain, the advent of the chilled plow, grain drill, corn planter and threshing machine enabling them to prepare the soil more thoroughly and to save what they have raised. The former slow and laborious method of threshing the grain with a flail gave way to the system of tramping it out with horses, and after a few years the first threshing machines made their appearance. The first in this neighborhood was owned by a man named JONES, and was a simple affair, which delivered grain, chaff and all together, and had afterward to be separated by a fan or sheet in the hands of two persons. The motion was applied by a one-horse tread power, and by this machine they would thresh from 50 to 100 bushels per day.
In 1853, when W. D. Wood, Samuel Dickerson, and Alexander Cooper were elected trustees, there were forty-five votes cast in the township. At the last election 400 people were polled. Among those who have served as township trustees are the following: Judge Chamberlain, who was first after the change of the law, Horace Chamberlain, Ralph Wilson, Alexander Rowan, L. W. Dickerson, S. S. Ripley, and H. C. Dickerson, the latter having been reelected April 1880.
There are eleven school districts in the township with eleven school-houses and eleven teachers: nine white and two colored. The number of children of school age is 700, and the attendance is sixty-five percent.
On Sec. 22 stands the town house, which was erected in 1873. It is a one-story building, 30 x 44 feet, with an ante-room for election purposes, and cost $800. No. 5 school-house is a two-story building, the upper story having been built by the Grangers. Here Marion Grange No. 1442 holds its meetings. This society now has about fifty members and is in a flourishing state, and alive to the interests of the order. The first master was Alexander Rounds, and the present officers are: master, C. Myers; secretary, W. S. Harper.
Seeleyville, a small station on the St. Louis, Vandalia, Terre Haute & Indianapolis railroad (which runs through the township in a northeasterly direction), is the only village in the township, and originated through the opening of Mr. McKeen's coal shaft here. After running the mine some time it was sold to the Indiana Rolling Mill Company at Indianapolis, who operated it a few years then disposed of it to Mr. George Arbuckle two years ago. Since passing into his hands the mine has not been in operation. Two other mines in the neighborhood, owned by Jerome Hulse and Alexander McPherson, supply the home demand and ship considerable to Terre Haute during the winter. The first postmaster here was J. Seeley, who owned the land upon which the village is laid out, and after whom it is named. The present postmaster is Mrs. Annie Dickerson. The first store was opened by H. C. Dickerson in August 1872, and is now the only one in the village. A corn-mill is the only other business here carried on. Dr. McLaughlin is the resident physician.
West of Seeleyville is a steam grist and saw mill, the property of Moody Chamberlain. A blacksmith shop is also situated at this point.
In 1878 J. L. Dickerson opened a store at Round House Corners, near Mr. Pegg's residence, and at the same time a post-office was located here, with Mr. Dickerson as postmaster. This was, however, given up in May 1880. Dr. J. H. Payne has his residence here, and Elza Jones' saw-mill in this neighborhood completes the list of business concerns.
Where the railroad crosses the National Road is a flag station known as Glendale.
Nevins Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 509 to 511.
This township lies in the extreme northeastern part of the county, and is bounded on the north by Parke county, on the east by Clay, on the south by Clay and Lost Creek townships, and on the west by Otter Creek townships. It is five miles in width from east to west, and from north to south six miles in length, and contains nearly 20,000 acres of land. Branches of Otter Creek rise in different parts of the township, and flow from the east side through and leave at the western limit, affording stock water and drainage. Along the north side main branch of the creek, which flows diagonally from the northeast to the southwest, runs to Indianapolis & St. Louis railroad, dividing the township into two nearly equal parts. Within the boundaries of the township, and on this line of railroad, are the stations of Fountain, Coal Bluff and Milton, which afford markets for the products of this part of the county. The surface of the township is hilly and covered with timber, except a portion in the north corner called Henry's prairie. A portion of this is also called Wet prairie, and is surrounded by groves of yellow oak.
The name Nevins was given this division of the county in honor of one of the early settlers of that name, who came here from Kentucky with his family in 1818. He was a wheelwright by trade, and manufactured spinning-wheels for the neighboring matrons and maidens. In those days organs and pianos were not known in this region, and the hum of Nevinsí spinning-wheel was about as near instrumental music as anything possessed by the young ladies of that period. The clothing was not only made at home, but the cloth, in all its transformations from the back of the sheep to the back of the man, was manufactured by those who wore it. The linen, also, was a home manufacture. The flax was raised and "broken" and "hackled" and spun and woven by the persons who afterward cut it out and sewed it into garments. Many of the terms used are now almost obsolete, and are remembered only by some of the older residents. The earliest resident of the township was, doubtless, William Adams, who came with his family from Kentucky in about the year 1816. He settled on Raccoon bottom in the heavy timber, and probably built the first house, a log cabin 18 x 20 feet, with stick chimney and other primitive accouterments which have been so often described in other portions of this work that repetition here is unnecessary. The log cabins were nearly all alike.
About the same time the Green family arrived from New York. They settled near Creal's mills, at which place they afterward built the first grist and saw mill in the township. It was not an extensive establishment, having only one run of stone, but was counted in the early days a great acquisition to the advantages of pioneer life.
In about 1818 the brothers John and Samuel Adams settled just west of where Fountain station now is. The former was a blacksmith and the latter a farmer. Blacksmiths were indispensable in the pioneers times. They not only shod horses and sharpened plows, as in later times, but made almost every article that was wrought from iron. A blacksmith was a genius. He could make a lock, repair a gun, make any part of a wagon, make screws and bolts, and a hundred other articles which are now made in the cities by machinery, and which the modern blacksmith has no occasion to handle.
Starling Lambert was also one of the early settlers, coming here with a large family from Kentucky, in 1818. He settled on the Raccoon bottom, from which he afterward removed to the head of the creek.
The first laid-out road in the township was the old Greencastle road from Terre Haute to Greencastle. On this road, about two miles west of the present site of Fountain, was located the first store. It was kept by Richard Pruett.
John Hoffman came to Nevins township about 1818, and settled on Sec. 29, R. 7, where he entered eighty acres of land. Mr. Hoffman was a native of Pennsylvania, and at the age of seven sat on the lap of Washington His first pair of boots was presented to him by the "Father of his country." He claims to have driven the first cut nails ever manufactured in the new world. He emigrated to Ohio in 1812, and served under Gen. Hull as butcher, and was a witness of the inglorious surrender of Hull's army. He was among the first to look for a location for the county seat of Vigo. He moved the first family to the county seat with an ox team. He was the first born of a family of twenty-two children, three girls and nineteen boys.
The first school-house was located about one and a half miles north of Fountain, in the midst of the timber. It was built of logs, with nearly one entire end left open for the admission of the ample fire logs of the time. The first teacher was John McGinnis, and the school was taught upon the subscription system, and consisted of about eighteen or twenty pupils, for whose tuition was charged the moderate sum of $1.50 per pupil for the term of three months.
The first doctor in the township was Alexander Hodgkiss, located on the Terre Haute road near Markle's mill. He was a competent physician and possessed an extensive practice.
The first preacher is supposed to have been Rev. Billings, a Baptist by denomination.
The first church was built by the Christians about two and a half miles northwest of Fountain. It was built of logs, 36 x 40, and only the walls now remain, the roof having fallen in. The first preachers who dispensed the word from its pulpit were Michael and Job Coombs, brothers.
There are in the township ten school districts, which is double the number that existed in 1860. About 700 children attend these schools. The first post-office in the township was known as Fruit Hill post-office, and John Bell the postmaster. This was soon discontinued and one established at Fountain, known as Fountain station post-office, with G. W. Moreland as postmaster. This was later called Hunter post-office, which name it still bears. E. Moreland is postmaster.
The little village of Coal Bluff is situated on Sec. 8, R. 8. Daniel Webster first commenced to operate for coal on the present location of the village about 1871, and being successful, a village composed mainly of miners soon sprang up. A post-office was established June 8, 1876, with C. M. Stetson as postmaster, who still holds the office. Mr. Webster soon sold his mining interest to the Coal Bluff Mining Company, of Litchfield, Illinois. This company employ about fifty men and mine from 50 to 100 tons of coal per day. The mine is a slope and not a shaft, and the coal bed is about seven feet thick, extending through a hill. The deposit is nearly exhausted at present, when the company will remove to Fountain. Another mine is operated on a small scale below the Webster mine.
Otter Creek Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 499 to 501.
This township occupies the middle of the northern tier of townships of the county, and is bounded west, east and south by the townships of Fayette, Nevins, Lost Creek and Harrison, and by Parke county on the north. From Fayette township it is separated by the Wabash, which washes the whole western side. The township is further watered by Otter creek (from which the township takes its name), which flows from the east to the west side in an irregular though generally westerly direction. This creek, and Sugar, in the northern part of the township, furnish the water for stock and afford good drainage for the sections through which they flow. In former times Otter creek afforded water-power sufficient to run a mill and distillery of considerable dimensions. The distillery, in the early days, was considered almost as essential to the comfort of the community as the mill. Indeed, the pioneer in some instances felt that while the hominy block and the rifle might supply him with eatables, the more complex contrivances of the distillery were necessary to supply him with the cheerful beverage essential to the keeping away of ague and the counteracting of the bites of rattlesnakes.
Some of the finest land in the state is to be found in this township. The Wabash bottoms, which include a large part of the western portion, are celebrated for their richness, while a wide strip of prairie occupying the middle of the township and joining the bottoms on the east, is not excelled anywhere for fine productive farms. The eastern portion is rather flat for successful cultivation every year, much of which is in the condition that nature left it. The big ditch in the western part of the township is the former Wabash and Erie canal. The railroad has long since superseded its use and it has now fallen into decay. The Eastern Illinois railroad enters the township near the northwest corner and in its course to Terre Haute divides it in two nearly equal sections. Of the Terre Haute & Logansport railroad, which enters the township at its northeast corner, the same may be said. The Indianapolis & St. Louis railroad passes through the southeast corner. These roads, with their stations of Atherton, Otter Creek, Ellsworth, Markle and Grant, afford good markets and outlets for the products of this section.
The old Lafayette and Terre Haute wagon and pack-horse road, which was one of the first opened in western Indiana, passes through the township from north to south in a direct line. Along this road many of the early settlements were made. Indeed, it may be said that what the railroad of to-day is in its attractiveness to settlement, this wagon-road was in its time. Among the first, and possibly the very first, settlers of the township, were the Baldings from New York, and Jacob and David Lyon from Ohio. These men opened farms in 1816, their location being in the central part of what is now Otter Creek township, but what was then Knox county, and a year later Sullivan. In 1817 Joseph Evans located in the eastern part of the township and built a cabin. In the southeastern part of the township, as early as 1816 or 1817, Mr. Briggs was the first settler. In 1819 William Watkins settled at Markle's Mills, on Sec. 36. Gershom Tuttle came as early as 1818. William Denny David Lyon, A. M. Ostrander, William Johnson, Thomas White, Anthony Creal, Isaac and Jacob Balding, and Abraham Markle were prominent among the early settlers. The last named built the first mill on Otter creek, and a son of his, N. B. Markle, was the first white child born in the township. The mill built by Markle, though not a very extensive affair as compared with some of the modern establishments of to-day, was in those times an institution. It had one run of burrs for wheat and one for corn. To this mill the early settlers came to have their grists ground for a distance of many miles around. The roads were very bad in the early days, and it was common in those times for the patron of the mill to wait a day or two for his turn at the mill.
Mr. Tuttle was the builder and proprietor of a distillery in the early times. It is said that good whisky was made at this factory and sold at reasonable prices. A bushel of corn was considered an equivalent for a gallon of its essence after paying the manufacturer his profits, and the pioneers interchanged the one for the other. Though whiskey was cheap, and everybody drank it, they do claim that the evil effects of drinking were not so great as with the higher priced but much doctored product of later times. The distillery was run for about fifteen years and then fell into decay. Afterward Clark Tuttle improved and ran the distillery as a mill for a short time. About the time of the completion of the railroad Clark Tuttle built the steam-mill of which he has since been proprietor. The second mill, now known as Creal's mill, was built by Ormsby Green, about 1828-30.
The first school-house built in the township was near Markle's Mill, in about 1820. It was, like most other of the improvements of its time, a simple affair, being constructed of logs and the cracks daubed with clay. Dr. Hotchkiss, it is claimed, was the first teacher. The present state law was not then, nor until many years later, in force, and the only provision for the instruction of the youth was voluntary contribution, both for building and teaching. The people of the neighborhood met together, bringing whatever implements they possessed in the way of axes, saws and augers, and in a short time cut the logs, raised and covered the building that was to be the center of scientific, moral and religious instruction, as well as a point for political gatherings, for such it proved to be. Not a dollar of money was expended in the construction of the pioneer school-houses. The trees furnished all of the materials, and the pioneers were both architects and builders. The course of instruction was limited as to extent and length of time required to pass, it being a little spelling, reading and writing for about three months in the year. Dr. Hotchkiss received his pay from those who patronized the school, at so much per scholar sent. There are now six schools in the township, all in a prosperous condition. The old-time log school-houses have given place to comfortable frame and brick buildings.
The first church building in the township was the Union church, on the La Fayette road, about a quarter of a mile north of Otter creek. It was built about 1840, by a union of all persons interested in propagating Christianity, and remains such to this time. It was dedicated by Rev. Mr. Jewet. Prior to this the township was not without religious meetings and instruction. At nearly the very earliest date of settlement preaching was had, and continued at regular intervals in the groves, in private houses, and in school-houses, by several denominations, especially by the Methodists and Baptists. In 1867 the Methodists built on the La Fayette road, near the Parke county line, a very neat and substantial church. It is of brick. The membership of the church is about forty. Another Methodist house of worship is the Rose Hill church, situated on the range line road, a mile and a quarter north of Otter creek. This is a fine building, 42 x 60 feet in size, and cost $6,400. It was built in 1869, and dedicated in 1870 by the presiding elder, Rev. John L. Smith.
Historic sites and structures in Otter Creek Township
Pierson Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 425 to 430.
This township is situated in the southeast corner of the county, and is bounded in the north by Riley township, on the south by Sullivan county, on the east by Clay county, and by Linton township on the west. It comprises a splendid body of farming land, and produces large quantities of wheat, while stock raising is carried on to a considerable extent.
The first settlement was made in 1820 by Moses Evans and William Welch, who came from Ohio, and in 1821 Nathan Piner, the Walkers, the Brocks, and Charles Johnson located here, the latter being the first school teacher in the township. In 1824 Joseph Liston, one of the earliest settlers of the state, came here from Prairieton township, having come to Knox county, Indiana, in 1808, and in 1811 to Harrison prairie, where he plowed the first furrow turned in the county, and planted seventy-five acres of corn. He was, however, scared off by the Indians. The corn was gathered in the fall and sold to the garrison at Fort Harrison at fifty cents per bushel. The township was named after Willis Pierson, who, along with his brother Moses, came from Kentucky in 1820, both being Baptist preachers.
In 1822 they organized the Union Baptist church, which was the first church in the township and second in the county; Willis was minister for four years, at the end of which time he returned to Kentucky on a visit, and there died. A log church was built in 1826, which was used until 1829, when the congregation erected a brick building, 30 x 50, southeast of the old site, finally, in May 1851, putting up the frame church now in use on the site of the brick one which had decayed. This congregation organized with 16 members, and now has a list of 114, is in a prosperous condition, and has been one of the leading churches of the denomination in the county, having aided in ordaining ten ministers for other churches, in constituting five churches, and in the formation of Curry's Prairie Baptist Association. Old Joseph Liston served as clerk from 1824 to 1855, since which time the office has been held by J. M. Sanford.
Mount Olive Christian church, which stands on the Swinford farm, on Sec. 31, was built in 1869 at the cost of about $1,000. It is a frame building, 32 x 40. The first preacher was Leonard Shoemaker. The church originated from the union prayer meetings, which were held by Benjamin All and others in the school-house during the war. The organization took place in 1868, with about 40 members, and now numbers over 100, is in good condition, with great interest manifested at the meetings, which are held once a month, the present pastor being Rev. L. W. Bannon, of Parke county. There is a lively Sunday-school in connection with the church, which meets during the summer months, the average attendance being 50, with George Peters as superintendent.
The Methodist Episcopal congregation worship in a handsome frame building 30 x 40, commonly known as Fletcher's chapel, situated on the town line, on Sec. 30, which they erected in 1871. The building cost about $1,500. They formerly met in a log house which was built in 1855. The Rev. St. Clair is now in charge of the congregation, which numbers about 100 members. There is a Sunday-school in connection with the church, the average attendance being 45.
The Pleasant Grove Centenary church, of the United Brethren denomination, is located on the land of Abraham Larew, on Sec. 15. The organization took place in 1860, and in 1864 a log church was built which they occupied until 1876, when the present building, 30 x 40 feet, was put up, costing $1,600. The trustees are C. L. Edmonston, Allen Harris, P. K. Welch, and Abraham Larew. The church was dedicated by Rev. Mr. Hersung, and the congregation now numbers over forty members.
The first marriage occurring in the township was that of Jesse Kester and Sally Johnson; the first death being that of old Mrs. Johnson.
The only village in the township is Centreville, which is situated in the southeast corner, on the S. W. 1/4 of Sec. 36. The town was laid out in 1837, on land owned by Addison Williams, in regular shape, each block containing eight lots, 60 x 120 feet, streets sixty feet wide. The first tradesman to locate was Joseph Stutman, who put up a tanyard and conducted it successfully for several years, his successors in that business being Cummings, Chris, Akers and Thomas Ransford. In 1842 Charles W. Stewart built a log house, which was the second one put up in the town, and there opened a boot and shoe shop. Peter Y. Buskirk and his brother arrived the year following and began business as cabinet-makers. John B. Smith, who came with them, opened a blacksmith shop. They each received a lot from the proprietor on condition that they erect a house and carry on a trade in the town. The third house was erected by Mr. Smith, and Mr. Buskirk's residence, which followed, was the first frame building. Up to this time there was no store in the village, the nearest trading point being Terre Haute. Money was rarely seen, and, in fact, of little use, the only necessity for it being to pay taxes and buy salt; the general trading being carried on by means of a system of notes, of which there were two kinds in circulation,--those calling for trade at trade rates, and the other for trade at cash rates. The latter were held to be payable in wheat at 37 1/2 to 40 cents per bushel, or in young cattle, at what 'Squire Pierson valued them, the prices generally being as follows: Spring calves at weaning time, delivered at his pasture, $1.50; yearlings, $3 to $5, none over that age being legal tender without a special contract. Mr. Buskirk has in his possession one of these notes, which reads as follows: "Twelve months after date I promise to pay John Pierson or bearer the just and full sum of five dollars, on traid at traid raits, this Aprile 15, 1846. (Signed) Simeon Edwards."
The first physician to locate here (1843) was John E. Lloyd, of Middletown, in what was known as the white house, it being the only building which had received a daub of paint. The next was Dr. Tichenor, who came in 1855, from Kentucky, and resided in town until 1862, when he died.
The first school-house was erected by subscription on Lot No. 12; was a log building, furnished in the usual primitive fashion, and served for many years as school-house, meeting-house, for political gatherings, and later was used as court-house and public hall. The old house is still standing. Among the early preachers were Father Simons (still living at the age of eighty-nine), I. W. Allen, John Neal, and John Hedges. On one occasion, when old Father Hedges was preaching in the old meeting-house, a young lady who was dressed in what was then the height of fashion, having skirts distended in a single hoop, this being the first dawning of the crinoline in the backwoods, entered the church door, stepping carefully over a dog which was taking a nap in the hall. Unfortunately the hoop caught around his neck and frightened him so that he yelled and howled dismally, frightening the lady nearly out of her wits. Old Father Pickard, a severe old disciplinarian, who always sat in meeting with his hat on and cane in hand, advanced to the rescue with cane uplifted. This, however, did not appear to please "Spot," who made an attack on the old gentleman, who retreated in disorder. The preacher, seeing the state of affairs, left the stand and arrested "Spot" by the neck and tail and ejected him from the building, returning up the aisle singing "I am a soldier of the cross," amid the laughter of the congregation.
The first store was opened in 1844 by Dodson & Jenkins, the next by Wright & Kemble, in Charlie Stewart's building, and were succeeded by Martin Hale, who was followed by Samuel Stores in 1847. About this time the Wabash and Erie canal was under construction, and a lively trade was done at this point during 1847, 1848 and 1849. In 1850 the canal was finished, the water let in, and navigation opened, when a daily packet ran to Worthington. 'Squire Taylor opened a store with a large stock of goods in 1854, and in the following year 'Squire Stout and Jesse Boston also began business. The trade territory extended over twelve miles in each direction. Another blacksmith shop and plow factory was located here in 1855, by Abbott & Optimus, who made the first steel mold-board plows used in this part of the country, which were a great improvement over the old wooden mold-boards. P. Bledsoe opened another blacksmith shop in 1858, and several dwellings were erected at the same time, but the panic, which occurred about that time, put a stop to the prosperity.
In 1854 a man named Samuel Cunningham made affidavit that three men, named respectively James, Charles and Wesley Norris, had set fire to and burned down an oat-stack belonging to Widown Donham, a relative of Senator Isaiah Donham. They were arrested and brought before Peter Y. Buskirk, justice of the peace, in the old school-house, Isaiah Donham appearing for the prosecution and J. W. Buskirk for the defense. Between forty and fifty witnesses were examined, but no evidence sufficient to send the case to the grand jury was tendered, so they were discharged. Public excitement, however, was high, and a meeting was held next day in the Twin Grove, near Isaiah Donham's residence, at which there was a large attendance. The firing of an anvil was the signal for the commencement of business; speeches of a threatening character were made, and the meeting wound up with a resolution that if the suspected parties did not leave the state inside of ten days they would be hung. The Norrises accordingly left for Illinois. Shortly afterward, however, it leaked out that Cunningham, the party who had made the charge, was really the guilty one, and he left in a hurry.
Toward the end of the war a murder of the most cold-blooded character was committed in this township, a young man who ran a saloon in Centreville, and also owned a farm near town, being the victim. He had agreed to sell his farm to a man in the neighborhood, and drew up the deed and had it signed by his wife, arranging to go with the intending purchaser to Terre Haute to hand over the deed and draw the money. He was slightly under the influence of liquor when he started in the afternoon with the parties, who stopped at their residence and had their victim eat supper with them, and then started at dark for Terre Haute. The unfortunate man was never seen alive again, having been shot, his body put in a coffee-sack and thrown into the creek. The murderers, on their return with the deed, took possession of the property, circulating the story that the missing man had run off. Suspicion was, however, aroused, and all the creeks and ponds dragged, resulting, some weeks afterward, in finding the body in a drift. The parties were arrested and brought to trial, one of them being sentenced to imprisonment, while the actual murderer escaped on a technicality, and fled to Missouri.
The "Rural Hawkeye," a local journal, was started by I. H. Payne, his sister, Miss Alice Payne, a talented young lady, acting as assistant, in January 1879, and run about a year, the composing, printing and publishing being done by the editorial staff. During his career many articles of superior merit appeared in its columns, contributed by local talent.
The town is growing rapidly, and a better class of buildings are being put up, greatly enhancing its appearance. The Methodist Episcopal church, commonly known as Harbin's chapel, having been named after the Rev. Mr. Harbin, who dedicated it in June 1879, is a handsome frame building, 36x46 feet, which was erected in 1878, and cost $800. Dr. F. M. Pickins is superintendent of the Sabbath-school, in which he takes great interest, and has labored to bring it up to its present high standard. The average attendance is sixty, and it meets the year round. The church was built through the efforts of F. M. Pickins, G. C. Ruggles, J. O. Beckwith, Jacob Scaminghorn, and Wm. Payne. There are now in town two physicians, two blacksmith shops, two drug stores, one dry-goods and grocery store, two general stores, and other places of business common to villages of this size.
The successor of the old log school-house is a handsome frame structure, 35 x 50 feet, which cost $1,400, and is fitted up with all the latest improvements in school furniture. There are ninety scholars in the district, with an average attendance of sixty. The Masonic fraternity have a large and flourishing society here, known as Vigo lodge, No. 29. It was organized in June 1870, the charter members being Jesse S. Herrold, W. T. Payne, A. J. Purcell, John Harris, J. R. Bledsoe, F. M. Garrett, John Zink, T. J. Scott, J. F. Thomas, J. T. Foreman, and K. W. Self. The first officers were: W. M., W. T. Payne; S. W., Jesse Herrold; J. W., J. T. Foreman; Sec., K. W. Self; and Treas., John Harris. The lodge now has a membership of forty-eight, is in splendid working order, and ranks high among the lodges of the state. Since organization one member has been expelled, and three deaths have occurred in the same time. Messrs. Herrold, Payne, Purcell, and Garrett were the parties instrumental in starting the organization. The present officers are: W. M., T. J. Scott; S. W., J. R. P. Stevens; J. W., J. R. Bledsoe; Sec., R. P. Irwin; and Treas., Henry Harmon.
There are eight school districts in the township, with a large and handsome school-house in each, the present trustee being Taylor Pierson.
Prairie Creek Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 490 to 496.
This township, as originally organized, consisted of all of T 10, R 10, and all that territory east of the Wabash river in T. 10, R 11, comprising in all about thirty-five square miles of territory. In the year 1856 the north tier of sections were taken and added to Prairieton Township, and what follows shall mainly refer to the township as thus formed.
The first wagon road opened in or through the township that was known as the old army road, and was opened and used for communication between Fort Knox and Fort Harrison during the War of 1812. The course of this road through the township cannot be more definitely described than to say it passed nearly north and south, on the east side of Battlerow prairie, and on much the same ground as that of the present county road in that locality. This was the only public highway in this part of the state up to the year 1823, at which date the present state road was laid out and opened.
The first house erected in the township was small log cabin near the later residence of Mrs. Irving Thomas. This house was raised and covered by the respected and well known pioneer, Joseph Liston. In the absence of Mr. Liston, who had returned to civilization for his family, Mr. Thomas Pound, his family, and some other persons, took possession of the unfinished house, and recorded themselves as the first family passing a night as residents of Prairie Creek township. This event occurred late in the fall of 1816. As a matter of township history the names of this family are given. They were: Thomas Pound and Sarah his wife, and their children, William, Elijah, Joseph, Sarah, Rebecca, Eunice, Malissa, and Elizabeth; also their comrades, Hamilton Reed, Thomas Reed, Hugh Reed, and the late Elijah Staggs. The Sarah named as one of the children of Thomas Pound is our aged and loved neighbor Sarah Thomas, who has passed fifty-seven years of her life in this township.
Almost at the same date of this settlement, so near in fact as at one time to throw some doubts as to priority, as settlement was formed on the army road, near the Lykins cemetery, and was known as the Lykins settlement. Among the first settlers at this point were David Lykins, Josiah Wilson, father of the late John Wilson, Esq., William Armstrong, and others. Between this date and the year 1820 some twenty-five or thirty additional families settled in the township and, as a few of their names and locations will indicate, spread pretty evenly over the township. Dr. E. Shattuck, on the army road, one and a half miles north of the Lykins settlement; William Paddock, near the present residence of George Farmer; William Foster, at the residence of J. D. E. Kester; Thomas and Athol Furguson, just east of the present residence of Joseph Johnston; Armstrong McCabe, near the residence of E. T. Piety; Henry King, a quarter of a mile west of Daniel Johnson's residence; David Kelly, on the Kelly farm; James Johnston, just east, and William Thomas, just west, of the Baptist Church; William Drake, near the residence of Valentine Morgan; Isaac LeForge, at his late residence; Elijah Cayson, near the present residence of Caleb Kirkham; and Nicholas Yeager, at the present residence of Hugh Weir.
For some years Prairie creek bottom afforded the only road for communication between the early settlements and the main or army road. At that day, the bottom was very open, and teamsters had no difficulty to encounter in passing over it. This, in part, may account for the first settlements being located on the hills near the bottom, as was not only the case in this township, but higher up the creek.
The first organized association formed in the township was the First Prairie Creek Baptist Church, which was constituted May 1818, by Elder Isaac McCoy. As this association was formed with a membership of twenty persons, we have an idea with what rapidity the township was settled.
The political organization of the township seems to have been effected at about this time, as it appears that Armstrong McCabe and Nicholas Yeager, father of our respected citizen, Vincent Yeager, were elected magistrates, and Conrad Frakes, constable, and were therefore the first elected civil officers of the township. Mr. Yeager served as justice of the peace for fifteen successive years, and Conrad Frakes served as constable up to the year 1848, the date of his death. The first voting place was at the residence of William Foster, the location of which has been stated.
The first post-office was located at the Lykins settlement about the year 1817. David Lykins was appointed the first postmaster, in 1831.
The first house was erected in the township for public worship was built about the year 1819, and was located on the site of the present Baptist church. It was a hewed log structure, some thirty square feet, and was for that day a very good house. In the center of the room an opening of some eight or ten feet square was made in the floor, and the space was thus formed and filled with clay. This was the fireplace, and here roared the burning log heap that made the winter days and nights endurable. Around this fire, often in blinding smoke, those pious and hardy pioneers tendered their heart-felt thanks for blessings received, with as much if not more solemnity than is now done in upholstered pews.
The first school-house was erected in the fall of 1818, and was situated near the original residence already described. A few years later, perhaps in 1821, another school-house was built at the foot of the hill, east of James D. Piety's residence, and the school was removed to this point. This seems to have been done for the better accommodation of the settlement as then formed. Nicholas Yeager, most likely, taught the first school in the last named house.
Isaiah Wilson was the first blacksmith, in fact he seems to have performed all the mechanical work of the township up to the year 1818. About this date Samuel Keen established a smith shop near the present residence of Leander Wilson. Relieved, in part, of the duties required of him, Mr. Wilson now constructed a cotton-gin, a mechanical branch of industry then much needed, and which materially increased the growth of cotton. From fifteen to thirty acres of cotton were annually grown on Battlerow prairie for many years, and as late as the year 1840 patches of from one-fourth to two acres were grown in many parts of the township.
At an early day, most likely in the year 1817, was built the first grist-mill. This mill was located on the old county road, at the upper end of Battlerow, and near the northwest corner of Section 16. Here also was a distillery, but whether this, or one erected by David Kelly near his residence already described, cannot now be determined. The mill was what was known as a "horse-mill," and as it has entirely disappeared, a description of its construction, etc., may be interesting to many. It was simply a large horizontal cog-wheel, the cogs of which worked into a trundle-head that moved the upper mill-stone. The wheel was some thirty or more feet in diameter, and was elevated some six or eight feet from the ground. It was propelled by two or more horses hitched to a beam that passed through the main shaft. Each customer was required to furnish the motive of power - a span of horses. On "milling day" the farmer harnessed two horses, loaded each with a sack of grain, placed his boy on one and he mounted on the other, then made their way to the mill. When their "turn" came, which was a very uncertain period, the horses were hitched, the boy mounted on the beam as driver. As many hours as their were bushels of grain were required to grind the grist. In the meantime the farmer and the miller would amuse themselves playing "fox and geese" on the bottom of the toll-box. At an early day the flour and bran made from wheat ground at those mills were separated at home by means of a sieve. Later, hand-bolts were found on which the customer was allowed to bolt his flour for a rental fee. Much the larger portion of the breadstuff consumed in the township up to the year 1840 was manufactured by the horse-mill. There have been three of those horse-mills in the township, located as follows: The one just named, one located one-third of a mile southwest of the residence of James W. Shattuck, and another in Middletown.
William Foster established the first tanyard in the township. It was located near his residence. It was among the earliest improvements of the township. Some years later, perhaps in the year 1825, William N. Perry opened a tanyard on the old Perry farm.
Eliphalet Shattuck was the first resident physician, he had an extensive practice up to the time of his death, which occurred in the year 1840.
In the year 1820 or 1821, a man named Angel commenced the erection of what is now known as the "Watts" mill. It was finished, however, by William Armstrong, in the year 1822, and was both a grist and saw mill. For many years this remained the best mill within a radius of twenty-five miles. In 1842 Robert Lambert commenced a mill half a mile above the Watts mill. Most if not all the timbers for a large building were framed, when he abandoned the work, and the timbers have rotted on the ground.
Up to the year 1825 the principal business center of the township was on Battlerow. There was quite a village at Lykins farm, and another in the neighborhood of the residence of Ithat Shattuck, with thick settlement along the road from the north to the south boundary of the township. Here was the grist-mill, the cotton-gin, the post-office, the doctor, the store, the attorney, the blacksmith, the wagonmaker and the undertaker of the whole township. In the year 1830 there was a considerable business point at the locality of Daniel Johnsonís residence. Here Warren Harper made and repaired wagons, plows, and other farming implements, and was the principal cabinet-maker of the township. The best school-house, a hotel, and several other buildings, were clustered together at this place. Near by was Kellyís distillery, and a quarter of a mile to the southwest was Jubal Welchís smith shop. There was also quite a village just south of town, on what is now Mr. Jamisonís meadow. Here was built and operated the first pottery in the township, and the place was known for miles around as Pottersville. There were doubtless other branches of mechanical industry carried on at this point.
In August, 1831, the north half of the town of Middletown was laid out, containing thirty-two lots, and extending from the Baptist church to the street south of the old hotel building. The late Elijah Thomas and James D. Piety were the proprietors. Warren Harper was the principal engineer. A grapevine answered the purpose of a surveyor's chain, but what substitute they had for a compass does not appear. Two or three years later the proprietors laid out the south addition, comprising thirty-two lots, making a total of sixty-four, the present number of lots in the town. This was the first, and is the only platted town ever formed in the township. The old log-house, now standing south of Reynersonís drug-store, was the first building erected in the town. Daniel McDonald was the proprietor, and in it he opened the first hotel. Joseph P. Lykins built the second house, and in it opened the first store. The first mill in or near the town was a horse-mill, situated on the site now occupied by Dr. Laneís barn. Jonas P. Lykins was the first postmaster, Warren Harper the first resident justice of the peace, and William Reed the first physician. The first frame building was most likely built by James Copeland, on the site of Z. J. Huntís residence. He occupied it as a hotel. The old hotel building, now fast passing away, was built in the year 1836. For many years this building was a stage stand; here the horses were changed and the passengers refreshed; here twice a day congregated the idle villagers to stare at the passengers and hear the news.
In the year 1840 the present Baptist church was built, but not, however, fully completed. The first trustees were Conrad Frakes, Henry Reynerson, George Turnham, Isaac LeForge, and Joseph Kester. Josiah Tate was the contractor and builder. At about this date Elder Asa Frakes was called to the pastorate of the church, and continued its pastor until bodily infirmities prevented him reaching the house, and extending through a period of thirty-three years.
In 1842 the first frame school-house built in the township was erected east of the Baptist church, and just outside the cemetery. Vincent Yeager was the contractor and builder.
In the year 1847 Hiram Hight built the first steam-mill in the town. It was erected just west of Mr. Gobinís new brick residence. For a time corn was ground there, and there was also a carding machine attached to the mill.
The first brick house built in the town or township, was built by Jacob Ernest, in 1849. Preston Armstrong was contractor for the brick work, Hiram Hight, John Reeds, and James Cayton doing the carpenter work.
The Christian church was built by Vincent Yeager, in the year 1854. James D. Piety, Valentine Morgan, and John Pogue the first trustees.
There have been three fires in this town worthy of note. A log residence occupied by Joseph Liston Jr. burned with all its contents in 1847. This house was located on the southwest corner of the lot since occupied by C. T. Ash. A frame dwelling, occupied by W. S. Bentley, burned with most of its contents in 1853. A store-room, occupied by Asa Frakes and Henry Anderson, burned with the whole stock of goods in 1856.
In 1857 James W. Nebergall and Bethuel Johnson Sr. erected a stream saw-mill just east of town. Mr. Nebergall built our present steam flouring-mill in 1861. In 1840 there was one church building, the present Baptist church. There were three school-houses. The best one, and perhaps the third one erected in the township, stood near Daniel Johnsonís smith shop, as already stated. Another stood one mile east of the Johnson hill, and the third one on the county road, near the southeast corner of Sec. 29, not far from school No. 8. There were three grist-mills, already located; three distilleries, already located. The third, and the most extensive one ever built in the township, was located near the present residence George Farmer. It was built by Vond Smith. There were tanyards, three dry-good stores, two smith shops, one saddle and harness shop, conducted by J. W. Smith, two wagon shops, two potteries, three hotels, one cabinet shop, one boot and shoe shop, two tailor shops, four physicians, three groceries, and a daily mail.
There is a sad reminder connected with this brief sketch. While man was busied himself in civilizing the country and in building up this prosperous and happy community, death and time have not been idle.
The old water-mill, that more than any one thing aided in the early settlement of the township, is now the abode of owls and bats.
Here and there is spared us a living monument of those early days, but alas! they are few, and time now bears heavily upon them. A few more years and they will have disappeared from earth forever; later, and their very names will be obliterated from the memory of man.
Prairieton Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 458 to 463.
This is a fractional township, on account of its location on the river, which runs diagonally across the sections from northeast to southwest. The land is very rich, being mostly prairie and bottom, and peculiarly adapted to corn, especially across the river. The southeast part of the township is somewhat rolling and is more or less sandy, yet the whole township is one of the richest and most productive in the county. The land lying in Secs. 2, 3, 4, 34, 35, 36, 25, 26, 27, 28, 24, 14 and 13 is almost proof against drought or wet seasons, as it is composed of a sandy loam which expels the surplus moisture and retains a sufficient quantity to mature crops. The low bottom land along the river is subject to overflow whenever the Wabash rises to full banks; although the bottom land lying in Secs. 1, 4, 5 and 6 is protected by the big levee, and when there is no overflow of the river-bottoms the corn crop is very large, sometimes yielding as high as seventy-five to eighty bushels per acre. The wheat crop, and others usually, is generally good. There is only one stream of importance besides the Wabash, Honey creek, which derives its name from the fact of there being a great many wild bees found along its banks at an early day. There are several anecdotes related about the naming of this stream. One is as follows: A hunter was out hunting on the banks of this stream, and after tramping for some time became weary and lay down to rest himself, and after awhile began to look about him as he lay down on his back, when he discovered seven bee trees before he got up. Another story, probably the correct one, is told by Mr. Wm. R. Bentley, son of old Elisha Bentley, one of the first settlers, who relates that his father, Elisha Bentley, was one of the scouts of Gen. Wm. Henry Harrison's army, and as he was on his way to the Black Hawk war he and several others left the camp (Gen. Harrison had encamped for the night on the banks of this stream), contrary to orders, for a hunt, and finding a bee tree proceeded to fell it, and as it fell it went into the stream and broke open, scattering the honey out into the stream, which floated away on the water, on seeing which the party named it Honey creek. The stream enters the township in the southeast corner of Sec. 18, T. 11, R. 10 W., running nearly south for half a mile, thence southwest across Secs. 24, 26, 34 and 33, emptying into the Wabash in the south part of Sec. 33, T. 10 N., R. 10 W. There is an old bed of the stream which leaves the creek in the west part of Sec. 24, running west into Sec. 23, thence south to the south line of the section, thence west and northwest to the Wabash in Sec. 22, leaving about 2,000 acres that forms an island in high water, as the water from the Wabash sets up the old bed to the main stream and thence down that stream to the mouth of the creek. The township is bounded on the north and west by the Wabash river, on the east by Honey Creek township, and on the south by Prairie Creek township.
Among the first settlers that came to this township may be mentioned David M. Jones, James Wilson, Moses Hoggatt, Enoch Harlan, old Jeremiah Hayworth, Ezra Jones and some others who came as early as 1816, or before. David M. Jones settled on the farm now owned by Harvey E. Bentley. He was a rough pioneer, but a man of some influence; he was sent to the legislature from Vigo county. James Wilson lived about half a mile from the residence of James Ferguson. Moses Hoggatt entered a section of land where the town of Prairieton is built; he divided his land among his children at his death. Enoch Harlan came to the township in 1816, and settled on Sec. 1, in the southeast part of the township, where he still resides. He is one of the oldest men in the township, being nearly eighty years old. Old Jeremiah Hayworth settled in Sec. 36, one mile south of the town of Prairieton, and lived in a log cabin, part of which is now standing. He was a great hunter; he and old Enoch Harlan were cronies, and spent much of their time hunting and trapping, in which pursuit they were very successful. Enoch has now the first clock which was brought to Prairieton township, an old full-length wooden one. They Hayworths are quite numerous in the township. Ezra Jones and William Winters came about the same time, in 1816, and Mr. Jones entered eighty acres of the farm that Dr. J. W. Ogle now owns; also William Winters entered a large tract of land, including the J. W. Ogle farm, but not being able to pay for it turned it over to the settlers. Old Jeremiah Raymond entered a large tract of bottom land in the southern part of the township, but has been dead many years, and the land has been bought up by a number of men and is divided into small farms. James Strain was here at an early day and lived on the bottom land of Sec. 6. His son, John Strain, was a captain of the militia, and the settlers used to meet at their general muster to train, and the barnyard and part of Dr. Ogle's farm used to be the old muster ground. Capt. Strain, when in the United States service as a common soldier, was sentenced to be shot for sleeping while on duty, and it is stated of him that he had been brought out for the purpose and was seated on his coffin, when a reprieve came from the commander-in-chief just in time to save his life.
There was a large increase of the population in 1817 and 1818. Among those who came in about that time was Thomas Ferguson and family, who settled on Sec. 2; Otis Jones, at Greenfield Bayou; Elisha Bentley, on Sec. 34; Geo. Southard, John Thompson, Sanford Hayworth, the Montgomerys, Joseph Benight, Joseph Thayer, John Cox, a blacksmith, James Lee and family, the Paddocks, old Moses Reynolds and brothers David and Robert, Amos P. Balch, Gen. Henry French, Henry T. Irish, Ralph White and others. John Campbell had a child stolen by the Indians, who was not recovered, although his father spent a large part of his means and years of time searching for him.
Mr. Alford Hale a son of Bradford Hale, now occupies the farm formerly owned by his father. He can recollect when he had to go to Terre Haute to vote, and the parties each set out a barrel of whiskey, one labeled Democrat the other Whig, and as a man voted so he was entitled to a drink. He cast his first vote for Gen. Jackson. The township of Prairieton at first was attached to Sugar Creek township, and settlers had to cross the Wabash river to vote. Afterward it was cut off from Sugar Creek and joined to Honey Creek township, then it was set off by itself, and a strip of land across the north end of Prairie Creek township, one mile wide, was cut off from that township and joined to Prairieton, which shape it retains at present.
The village of Prairieton was for a long time called Hoggatt's store. It was platted and laid out in 1836 by Robert Hoggatt. There was an effort made on the part of the citizens of the township to have it laid out in a rectangular form, but Mr. Hoggatt persisted in his plan, and, as he owned all the land that lay within the plat of town save what had been sold as village lots, he succeeded in establishing the plat of the town in the irregular form that it now assumes. The town was incorporated in 1870. Among the first to do business here was Moses Hoggatt, his son Robert Hoggatt, B. Ogle, Marks, Harrison Bryant and John Bell. J. A. Foote, who is now in business in Terre Haute, kept one of the best stores that was ever in the town. Ewing Isbell kept a stock of groceries.
There has never been a licensed saloon in the place, and there is now no place where liquor is retailed by the glass. The population of the village of Prairieton is about 250, and of the township, 1,021. There is but one colored person in the township, Mrs. Eliza T. Davis, who is very old.
There is a fine graded school at Prairieton. The school-house was built in 1870, and is 42 x 54 feet and three stories high. Two stories are devoted to the school, and the third story was built by the A. F. and A. M., and is used as a hall by that order. The cost of the building was $4,184.80. The school attendance is about 100. There are three grades. Mr. Chas. W. Finney took charge of the school as principal in 1871, and retained the position until the fall of 1879, when Mr. J. A. Boyer, of Terre Haute, assumed the office as principal, which position he continues to hold.
The first school in the township was taught by Duncan Darrow, in a house built about 1820 in the north part of the town. Soon after other schools were started in private houses, one on the bottoms in the south part of the township, one at Greenfield Bayou, taught by Mr. Joseph Thayer. A log school-house was built near where the New Harmony church now stands; afterward it was removed and a brick school-house was built in its place. Both are gone now, the brick one having been taken down many years ago. There are now five districts in the township. The costs of the school-houses ranges from $500 to $4,184.80.
The township officers before the year 1859 consisted of three trustees, a clerk, justice of the peace and constable. The first trustees of which there is any record were Moses Reynolds and Wm. R. Bentley. Jacob Shirley was first clerk, and the first justice of the peace was either Ashley Harris or Archibald Davidson, for both filled that office at a very early day.
The first church of the denomination of United Brethren was first organized in the southeast part of the township, in what was known as the Brush school-house, somewhere about the year 1857. The first preacher was the Rev. Mr. Hedge. James Paige now has charge of this church and the circuit. They have no church building, and hold their meetings in the school-house, but are making preparation to build. The church has a membership of about sixty. Another church of this denomination was organized in the village of Prairieton, in the fall of 1865, by A. J. Nugent, pastor, Jeremiah Hayworth and his wife, Elizabeth Hayworth, Sarah St. John, W. D. Malone, and Lydia Shirley. The building they now occupy was built by the Methodist church about 1838 or 1840. It was sold to the United Brethren church in 1866. The first membership was small, but it increased rapidly until it numbered some 150. Of late years there has been some falling off of members for various causes.
The first church building that was built in the township of Prairieton was by the Methodists, in 1838 or 1840. It was afterward sold to the United Brethren church somewhere about 1866. They then bought a church that had been built by the Presbyterians in 1860, but was not finished. The Methodists finished it, and it was dedicated April 29, 1866. The first pastor was the Rev. G. W. Bower W. E. Davis is now on the circuit.
The council to organize the New Harmony Baptist church was called to meet January 21, 1852. It was called from the churches of Terre Haute, Salem, Mt. Zion, Union, Friendly Grove, and Fairbanks. Elder Asa Frakes was elected moderator, and John E. Bell clerk. Letters from eight brethren and sisters were presented: James H. Cowan and wife, Nancy Johnson, Andrew and Gracia Ann McPheron, Joseph McDonald, Thomas McPheron and wife. From that, its organization, the church grew rapidly, until it reached a membership of 135. There has also been a Sunday-school connected with until within a year past. Of late years the membership of the church has fallen off, until the present attendance is only from twenty to twenty-five, and they have no pastor or regular stated meetings. The church building is about 30 x 40 feet in size. It was built in the year 1858, and dedicated in the fall of 1859, and cost about $300.
The Society of Friends (or Quakers) was probably the first church organized in the township, as some of the first settlers that came to this and adjoining township were members of that society, among whom were the Hoggatts, the Reynolds, the Durhams, the Coxes, the Joneses, the Nobletts, and others. The first meetings were held in 1818 or 1819, in a log house in the north part of the town of Prairieton, which was built for a winter school. A log church was afterward built in 1820, on the township line between Honey Creek and Prairieton townships. There was a split in the church about 1830, some calling themselves the orthodox, and the others styled themselves Quakers or Society of Friends. They were called heretics and were disowned by the orthodox party. In consequence of these dissensions the society has diminished in number; the children of the members have married out of the church, and in consequence have been read out of the society, so that now no meetings are held, and the church as a church has ceased to exist. The church building was destroyed a long time ago, and they have now no church.
Lodge No. 178, A. F. and A. M., was organized in Prairieton, in 1871. The first officers were: Henry Fortune, W. M.; M. S. Gunn, S. W.; James Myers, J. W.; S. S. Henderson, treasurer; G. W. Finney, secretary; Thomas Robertson, S. D.; G. W. Kruzan, J. D.; B. F. Flesher, Steward; J. B. Walker, Tiler. The charter was granted May 29, 1872. The membership at first consisted of only the officers, but the order has grown steadily, and although there have been some deaths and dimits, as well as some removals, the membership now numbers forty-six. They built a third story to the high school building in Prairieton, which they use as their hall. The present officers are: S. S. Henderson, W. M.; J. M. Hunt, S. W.; F. M. Matherly, J. W.; Geo. C. Olem, treasurer; O. M. Curry, secretary; J. W. Reynolds, S. D.; T. D. Simmons, J. D.; E. E. Glover and J. M. Risley, stewards; John De Baun, tiler; L. E. Carson, chaplain. The order is in a flourishing condition, and is one of the permanent institutions of the township.
The date of the first charter of Prairieton Lodge, No. 16, A. O. U. W., was June 17, 1876. Afterward another charter was granted of the date of November 14, 1876. The names of charter members are: Joseph Reynolds, P. W. M.; Sturgis Yeley, M. W.; C. D. McPheron, G. F.; Geo. F. Neff, O.; Jacob Woods, recorder; Lewis Hahn, financier; John Manhart, receiver; Wm. Wigginton, G.; Levi Dawson, I. W.; W. P. Kramer, O. W.; and Ferdinand Volkers. The lodge was organized by G. W. Hill, G. M. W., and John T. Francis, grand recorder. The membership has been as high as thirty, but at present it is but ten. The present officers are: G. W. Kruzan, M. W.; J. W. Reynolds, P. M. W.; T. D. Simmons, recorder; J. T. Reynolds, receiver; Ferdinand Volkers, financier; O. M. Curry, G. F.; Alfred Kruzan, O.
Riley Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 403 to 410.
Riley township is situated on the eastern side of the county, its boundaries being Lost Creek township on the north, Clay county on the east, Pierson township on the south, and Honey Creek township on the west. It contains thirty-six sections of magnificent land, fenced off into large and carefully cultivated farms, and is thickly dotted with handsome residences and commodious farm buildings, while numerous droves of cattle, sheep and hogs roam in rich pastures, the whole forming a picture of taste and wealth unexcelled in the county. The township is well watered by the stream known as Little Honey creek, and its tributaries which flow in a southwesterly direction through it; it consists of equal portions of timber and prairie land, though little is now left of the former but small groves, which have been retained for fencing and
firewood. The earliest settlers located in the timber and upon the highest land, avoiding the prairie on account of its marshy nature and consequent unhealthiness, in fact at that time it was not considered possible that it ever could be settled upon as farming land. The only way in which it could be utilized in their mind was as pasture land. The first settlement within the boundaries of this township were made near the southern line in 1818, when Samuel John and William Ray arrived with their families, being accompanied by John Pierce, Caleb Trueblood, and William Harris. At this time the Indians were still in possession of the country. On arriving here the Ray family erected a kind of stockade to guard against the surprise by their aboriginal neighbors until they got their cabin erected, and slept with their rifles at the head of their beds. On one occasion Grandfather Ray got up in night to look after the horses which were making some noise, and on returning stumbled, and woke his son, William, who, thinking that the Indians were entering the camp, jumped out of bed, seized his rifle and demanded who was there. The old gentleman being somewhat flurried with his fall did not make immediate reply, and William was in the act of pressing the trigger, when the thought flashed upon him that it might be his father or brothers; so he hailed again, when to his horror he found that he had been within an ace of killing his father. The Indians, however, did them no harm beyond frightening them, yet all were well pleased when they moved away, the women folks particularly being glad of the exodus, as they lived in dread of some of the children being carried off, two little boys having been kidnapped from the Prairieton neighborhood sometime before [family tradition says one of these little boys was my ggg grandfather, James G. Strain who was recovered without harm].
Soon after 1818 Deacon Jackson and family arrived, accompanied by his son John and his family. The next to settle were Samuel and James Thompson, who arrived in 1822, and were shortly followed by Thomas Green, Isaac Pierce, John Harkness and Ferrill. At a later period arrived the members of the settlement east of where Lockport now stands, among whom were David S. and Nathaniel Lee, John Reece, George Armstrong, Davis Toby, Reason T. Mattox, David Holston, and George and William Brill.
The settlers in the northern division began to immigrate about 1830, among the earliest being John Rector Stephen Hawley, John McGriff, Thomas and Benjamin McWhinney, Joshua and Elisha Wyeth, Martin Bratt and Phillips, the majority of them hailing from Ohio and eastern Indiana. The first deaths which occurred in the township were those of John Ray (uncle to Mr. John Ray, at present residing here) and his son Elias. They had gone to a neighbor's two or three miles off to grind their axes and grubbing-hoes. The day being cloudy and threatening storm, they did not notice that it was so late until darkness settled upon them before they had got far on their way home. The storm of snow and sleet which had been hovering around all day broke at last, and the driving snow blinded them so that they lost their way and wandered aimlessly around until exhausted, when the terrible cold finished the work. Next day they were discovered frozen to death by their sorrowing relatives and friends. We are unable to give the date of the occurrence, as our informant, Mr. Ray, was very young at the time it took place. It was, however, shortly after their arrival here.
Many were the vicissitudes, dangers and privations experienced by those pioneers, often without bread, in fact biscuit or flour bread was rarely seen, while coffee and tea were the rarest luxuries, only indulged in on great occasions, and were articles to dream and talk about. Owing to the distance to mill, and the lack of roads, even cornmeal was a rarity, the greater portion of the time their bread was made from corn which had been pounded in a mortar. The great difficulty was in getting sieves; the best substitute they had being a piece of deer skin, with the hair off, stretched upon a hoop, and punched full of little holes with a hot wire. The finer particles which passed through this were used for baking purposes, while the larger were boiled and eaten like rice. After a year or two they obtained a small grinder which was operated by hand. This was an improvement on the mortar, but at the best was a slow process. The most of the settlers here being religious men, would not grind on Sunday, so Saturday used to be a day of hard work, and the little grinder was kept in constant operation from "early morn to dewy eve" to get enough meal to last till Monday. At that time the nearest mill was twenty-five miles off, and no roads but bridle paths to reach them. The nearest trading point was Terre Haute, at that time in its infancy, and giving no promise that it would ever attain to its present greatness, only consisting of a few log cabins and a log gaol.
The first children born in the township were John Pierce, William McCaw and William Ray, while the first weddings were those of Richard Brock to Ann Maymard, and Felix Evans to Elizabeth Perkins, which occurred about 1822, the ceremony being performed by William, father of Mr. John Ray, who was the first justice of the peace in the township.
The educational interests of the rising generation were early looked to and provided for by the pioneers, by erecting log school-houses in which the rudiments of knowledge might be imparted. The first of those halls of learning was erected on Sec. 19, shortly after the arrival of the first settlers, and here the young Rays and their youthful companions were marshaled under John Dickie, to whom belongs the honor of being the first teacher in this township.
In the northern settlement, which was later in being peopled, we find the first school-house to have been constructed in 1834. It, like all the other public buildings of that date, was a log structure, in size 16 x 16 feet, primitive in style and furniture, and was situated on the Clay county line, the sessions held therein being presided over by Eleven Woolan and George Rector, who taught the first and second terms respectively. The second school building in the neighborhood was a hewed log one erected in 1840, one and a half miles west of the McWhinney place.
The mills to which the citizens of this neighborhood had access were Rolla's mill on Eel river, which was simply a corn-cracker, the journey to which had to be generally performed in the night to avoid the constant swarms of green-head horse-flies which infested the long prairie grass through which they had to pass. Another mill which they patronized was Markle's, on Otter creek, and sometimes they were compelled to take their grists to Roseville and to Raccoon, the latter journey occupying two days and two nights.
The forefathers of the people of Riley were religious men in every respect, and held Christianity as the great civilizing power, without a recognition of which the country would not be fit to live in. Consequently, we find that on their arrival here they began holding services of public worship, such as they had been taught and trained up in the part of the country from which they had emigrated. They early secured the services of the pioneer preachers, those grand old characters whom nothing daunted while in pursuit of their mission, and to whose teachings and labors must be attributed the present high state of religion and morale in this community. The first of those gospel messengers to arrive here was Brother Hamilton, who was shortly followed by Joseph Baker. The former preached the first sermon in the township, and constituted a society of Methodists, numbering six persons, shortly after the advent of the pioneers, 1820. The services were held in the houses of the settlers, in the school-houses, and in the open air, the first meeting-house of this congregation not being built until 1857. In that year they erected Hamilton chapel, in size 36x46 feet, at a cost of $1,500, it being named after the organizer of the congregation. The first trustees of the church were John Ray, Joseph Johnson, Samuel Robinson, Caleb Jackson and John Cumming. Those now in charge are David Joslin, Solomon Franklin and John Ray. The chapel was dedicated by Rev. William Dailey, and under his care and that of other preachers who have been in charge at this point the society has grown and flourished. The present membership is sixty, now under the care of pastor William Davis, with Solomon Franklin as class leader.
The first meeting-house erected in the northern settlement was a log building situated on Sec. 1, which was put up by the Methodist society organized at this point at an early period under the preaching Elijah Long, who constituted several other societies in the county. In 1872 the society, which now numbers over one hundred members, erected a handsome brick church, costing between $5,000 and $6,000, and being the finest church building in Bloomington conference outside of Terre Haute. It is known as Plymouth chapel, and has a live Sunday-school in connection with the meeting, with an average attendance of thirty. Henry Lawson, superintendent; Etna Lawrence, class leader.
Another Methodist church is located in the township on Sec. 4. This is known as Christie's chapel, the congregation having been organized about the same time as Plymouth chapel, and by the same preacher, Elijah Long. In 1862 they erected a frame meeting-house 24 x 30 feet, in which they worshipped until 1873, when, finding it too small to accommodate the large congregations which assembled there, it was sold and the present one erected. The one now in use is 36x42 feet, cost $2,000, and was dedicated by Rev. Mr. McCormick. The congregation, which has lately fallen off in number, is now in charge of Rev. Ashberry.
On Sec. 33 is Liberty Christian church (Disciples), which was organized about 1840, south of Lockport, but, not doing well, the place of meeting was moved four or five miles south, and in 1864 it was again changed, when the building, 36 x 46 feet, which is now in use, was erected on Sec. 33. It cost about $1,000 in money, and a great deal of labor and material was donated. Among the early preachers who taught here were Job Coleman, Joseph Wilson, father of present preacher, Andrew Wilson, and Robert Allen, and here also came the venerable Benjamin Franklin, one of the great pioneers of the modern reformation, and held meeting for some time. The present elders are Mr. Wilson and Warren Neet. A live Sunday-school which is conducted by the brethren here is doing a good work.
About a mile east of Lockport is Simpson's chapel, a Methodist meeting-house, the congregation of which was organized about the same time as the other societies of this denomination in the township. The house was erected in 1840. The Rev. Mr. Ashberry is the present preacher.
On Sec. 1, beautifully situated on the S. E. corner of the N. W. 1/4, on rising ground, is the McWhinney cemetery, deriving its name from the original owner of the land. It contains one acre of land neatly fenced and tastefully laid out, and bearing evidence of careful attention being bestowed upon this, the resting place of the loved ones. Numerous beautiful and expensive monuments are here situated, tokens of love and respect to the characters of departed friends and relatives.
Oakhill cemetery, situated on the S. W. corner of S. E. 1/4 of S. E. 1/4 of Sec. 14, comprises three acres of land, and is the most beautiful cemetery in the county with the exception of those in Terre Haute. It was laid out July 20, 1871, by the late Dr. H. D. Lee, of Lockport, the original trustees being P. H. Lee, Fred Lee and T. H. Hartley. The first mentioned having died, William H. Connelly was chosen to fill the vacancy. To effect an interest in the cemetery the trustees drafted articles of association by which it might be governed and its rules carried out according to the statutes of Indiana. The grounds are under the care of J. B. Richy, who takes great interest and pride in having them in good order, and to him must be ascribed the orderly and tasteful appearance of the grounds. There are 404 lots in the yard, of which 186 have been sold, and since the date of opening 214 interments have taken place. The large number of expensive monuments and tablets which mark the graves add greatly to the appearance and beauty of the cemetery.
The construction of the Wabash and Erie canal through the township helped to develop its resources greatly and opened up a direct communication with the eastern markets for the products of the farms. On the close of this commercial highway business languished, but was again revived on the construction of the Terre Haute & Worthington railroad through the township.
Lockport, the only village in the township, was laid out and settled during the construction of the Wabash and Erie canal, on which it was located. The land on which the town stands was originally owned by Nathaniel Donham. The first stores were opened by Manning, J. W. Penn and Samuel Dodson, the former dealing in groceries and whiskey and the others in general merchandise. During 1847- 48 - 49 and '50 an enormous business was carried on at this point, and in fact up to the close of the canal this was considered one of the best trading points. Business was quiet for a year or two until the Terre Haute & Worthington railroad opened a station here, and the town is now making rapid strides forward. The business now in operation here are three general stores, a drug and shoe store, two saloons, two blacksmith shops, a saw-mill, and the Tyron Hotel. The town has suffered greatly in her business interests from fire, three mills and a tannery having fallen a prey to the destroying element. In 1865 a large flouring-mill was erected by Fred Rotman and run by him until his death. The mill was then sold to Henry Brand, who controlled it until 1875; when he disposed of it to Whitten and Toby, and three months after the change of proprietors it took fire and burnt down. There had been $3,500 insurance on the building, but payment was refused on account of the policy not having been changed to the new firm. The matter is still before the courts. The tannery of Mr. Nattkemper was burnt down in June 1878, and shortly afterward rebuilt, when he run it six months and then changed it into a grist-mill. As a mill it was in operation until June 1880, when it caught fire and was entirely consumed. The Cook and Abbott flouring-mill was erected and cost $7,000, in the fall of 1879, and was only in operation a short time when, in April 1880, it, too, caught fire and was a thing of the past. The town is now left without any manufacturing interests, and is dependent on the grain trade as its attraction. Three grain merchants purchase and ship the produce of the farms, and have made this quite a noted market, in which large quantities of all kinds of grain and stock are handled annually.
There is but one church in town: the Lockport Christian church (Disciples), which was built in 1879, and the congregation organized the same year. The building is a very handsome frame edifice, 36 x 48 feet, and cost $1,500. It is tastefully fitted up and comfortably seated with chairs. The trustees are Jerry Tyron, N. Rumley, I. E. Woodruff and William Crossley. The preacher under whom the congregation was organized was Elder A. Elmore. Its membership is now over 125, is in good working condition, and alive to the interests of the cause it represents. The present preacher is Mr. Laudermilk.
The I. O. O. F. have a lodge in this town known as Lockport Lodge, No. 500. It was instituted August 14, 1875, and received a charter from the Grand Lodge of Indiana, November 18, 1875. The first officers and members were: N. G., John Hathorn; V. G., E. A. Foulke; secretary, J. B. Wallace; permanent secretary, G. J. Smith; treasurer, John Fox; H. W. Smith, H. D. Milus, Samuel Hathorn, J. P. Fowler, G. R. Shultz, John Schumacher, Fred Nattkemper, George Hathorn, and J. W. Rumley. During its existence the society has initiated seventy-five members, some of whom have moved away, some dropped, some expelled and one died, leaving the lodge with its present membership of forty-five. It is in splendid working order and great interest is manifested in the objects of the society by all the members. It has done a great deal of good among the resident and sojourning brethren in relieving cases of distress among them, every member acting manfully up to his obligation in this matter. This is one of the finest lodges in the county, and under its present efficient officers is still progressing. The officers are: N. G., Paul Romas; V. G., Elijah Staggs; secretary, J. P. Fowler; treasurer, H. W. Smith.
Riley Lodge, No. 390, A. F. and A. M., which meets at Lockport, was granted a dispensation in June, 1868, a charter being issued by the Grand Lodge of Indiana May 25, 1869. The charter members are: J. M. Sankey, S. J. W. Forster, S. Hedges, J. A. Gibson, S. K. Bundy, J. M. Hull, I. Lake, Benjamin Deal, W. A. Connelly, William Curry, G. W. Hickson, W. H. Pearcey, and T. C. Wilson. The first officers of the society were: W. M., J. M. Sankey; S. W., S. J. W. Forster; and J. W., Simeon Hedges. In the few years which have elapsed since the granting of the dispensation the society has made a rapid growth, having now a membership of 112. Its financial affairs are in a prosperous condition, peace and harmony prevailing among the craftsmen at this point. The lodge owns and has full control of the third story in the handsome brick school building in which their lodge and anterooms are situated. W. P. Foulke is the present presiding officer.
This township has nine school districts with eleven school-houses, all of which except one have been erected by the present trustee. The handsome school building situated at Lockport, in the center of the township, is a substantial three-story brick structure, which was erected at a cost of $9,000, the township paying five-eighths, and Riley Lodge, A. F. & A. M., the remaining three-eighths, of the expenses. The institution was planned and carried to a successful termination through the enterprise and energy of Dr. C. W. Russell, then, as now, trustee of the township. The third story is owned and controlled by the Masonic fraternity, the first and second stories being the property of the township, and are divided into three grades for school purposes. The contractors were Messrs. Teaney & Wilson, of Terre Haute. About eight months per annum is the length of the school year, in which the wages vary from $2 to $3 per day.
Sugarcreek Township, Vigo County, Indiana
From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley,
by H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers, 1880, pages 369 to 376.
On May 9, 1820, by order of the county commissioners the present boundaries were established, as Sugar Creek township was cut off from Wabash township, which at that time included all that part of Vigo county lying west of the Wabash river. The first settlers found it wholly covered in timber of large growth. It takes its name from Sugar creek. Its general surface is rolling and in places broken. It has an area of about 27,000 acres, most of which is arable, and abounds in bituminous coal and limestone. It is well watered by small streams. Sugar creek, the largest, has several has several branches which flow through the central part of the township from the west and northwest, and empty into the Wabash river one and a half miles south of the National Road. Clear creek, the next in size, flows through the southern part and empties into the Wabash three and a half miles south of the mouth of Sugar creek.
The first settlement was made in 1818, and the first settlers were James Bennett, John Sheets, John Ray, Henry Kuykendall, John Reese, Reuben Newton, James Hicklin, Joseph Malcom, Micajah Goodman, Henry Hearn, Henry Middleton and John Cruse. Joseph Malcom was the first road supervisor, and John Ray was the first inspector of elections; they were appointed by the county commissioners on May 9, 1820. John Reese was the first justice of the peace; he was chosen at an election (the first held in the township) held at the house of John Ray on the first Saturday in June. It is said that Daniel Kuykendall was the first child born. The first saw-mill was built by James Sturgess, in 1820, on the S. W. 1/4 of Sec. 24, T. 12, R. 9 W, About this time James Bennett built a grist-mill on the N. W. 1/4 of Sec. 30, T. 12, R. 9 W., and sometime after connected with it an oil-mill and carding machine, and on the same section, in 1824, built the first brick house. In 1831 Joseph Malcom was granted permission to establish and keep a public ferry over the Wabash river, now known as Cox's ferry. In the autumn of 1846 George Broadhurst sank the first coal shaft, in the S. W. corner of the S. W. 1/4 of Sec. 19, T. 12, R. 9 W. Previous to this date coal had been dug at different places, but no regular mining for profit was carried on until Mr. Broadhurst had sunk his shaft.'
Macksville, named after its founder, Samuel McQuilkin, is located in a fertile plain one mile west of Terre Haute; when the land was surveyed into lots is now unknown. The plat was recorded November 28, 1836. In 1833 the first dwelling house was built within what three years later became the legal boundaries of the present town. About one or two years later Samuel McQuilkin opened a store and Smith Finch a tavern. These institutions were largely patronized by those who were employed in the construction of the National Road, which was wending its way westward through the site of the future metropolis of Sugar Creek township. The town has now a population of 250; two stores which do a fair business, blacksmith and wheelwright shop for custom work, saw-mill, shingle machine and cigar factory. Its manufactures, therefore, consist of lumbar, shingles and cigars, and the present strongly indicates that in the near future grape wine will be added. Vegetable gardening is a growing and profitable interest. In the autumn of 1867 John Griggs and his son Edward erected a custom flour-mill, and in the following spring commenced grinding. They continued to run the mill successfully until August 8, 1870, when it was struck by lightening and entirely consumed by fire. There is no church edifice in the town and but one organized religious society, which is Methodist Episcopal, with a membership of sixty-seven. It holds its meetings in the public school-house, located near the center of the town. This society has connected with it a prosperous Sabbath-school which holds its sessions each Sabbath morning in the school-house. There is also a Union Sabbath-school in good working order, which occupies the public school-house each Sabbath afternoon. These organizations are working harmoniously and doing much to aid the cause of Christianity. During the past few years, at different times, saloons have been licensed to vend alcoholic liquors, but in a very short time were compelled to cease their traffic because of the radical temperance sentiment which prevails almost universally.
The most notable event which has transpired in its history of forty-four years is the murder of Eva Peters, which was committed on the morning of March 15, 1875. Eva was an elderly maiden lady living alone in a small house in the village. Who her murderers are will probably never be known; what the motives were which impelled them to commit the horrible deed are yet a mystery to the community. Miss Peters had deposited in bank in Terre Haute a few dollars, the earnings of toil which she was saving to be expended to give her a "Christian burial." This money she drew out of the bank the day before she was murdered. The possession of this small sum is supposed to be the incentive to the commission of the bloody crime; if so, the murderers were disappointed, for the money was found, after the body was discovered, concealed in her bed.
Bloomtown is a village of fifty inhabitants six miles west of Terre Haute on the Paris road, and a half mile north of the Vandalia railroad. It is located in a rich and extensive bottom, through which the waters of Sugar creek flow. It was laid out in 1858 by Hiram Bloom, after whom it was named. When Mr. Bloom settled here is not ascertained. He is reputed to have been a very active and enterprising man. In the earlier days of Bloomtown a saw-mill, and in later years a merchant flour-mill, were the pride of the villagers. The mills were destroyed by fire. The dates of their founding and destruction we could not ascertain definitely. For a number of years the manufacture of lumber was a leading source of employment and revenue, as the bottom was densely covered with black-walnut timber. It contains a blacksmith shop, which is opened occasionally to the public, and one store, the proprietor of which is postmaster. The name of the post-office is Nelson. It has a semi-weekly mail.
St. Mary's is a village of 100 inhabitants adjacent to the community of the Sisters of Providence. Its site was never divided into town lots. It contains two stores, a cabinet, carpenter, blacksmith and cooper shop, and a brick church which was built in 1867 and cost $13,000. The only secular organization here is a St. Joseph's Total Abstinence Society, at one time numbering ninety members; it now numbers fifty. This society has accomplished much good, and its continuance should be encouraged. In religion the villagers are Catholic, who have been induced to locate here because of the growth and prosperity of the Academic Institute, so successfully conducted by the Sisters of Providence. The village has grown to its present size within the past thirty-five years without any effort to build up a town.'
New Hope was the first church built in the township. It was built in 1824 by members of the Presbyterian denomination. It was constructed of huge black poplar logs hewn on two sides. Each one engaged in building this pioneer temple contributed a log. The church, like many of those who worshipped in it, has long ago passed away; there is now no vestige remaining to mark its site; when the society was organized is now not known. The first temperance lecture delivered in this township was at this church, in 1828. The lecturer, Rev. Samuel Baldridge, a native of North Carolina, was an eloquent and enthusiastic advocate of temperance, and an uncompromising antislavery man. The doctrines proclaimed by him fell upon his auditors like a thunderbolt from a clear sky; they were struck with astonishment at the boldness of the speaker and the strange doctrine he taught. Astonishment gave place to anger, and threats of violence were boldly uttered. The excitement increased, reaching out and embracing neighborhoods beyond that of the church; several with their teams went to the church for the purpose of taking out of its walls the logs which they had contributed. At that day the use of alcoholic liquors as a beverage was a prevailing custom in almost every family throughout the township, hence temperance lecturers were regarded as disturbers of the peace. Mr. Baldridge was a brave man and continued to lecture occasionally on his favorite theme in the church. His labor was crowned with success by organizing a temperance society of one hundred and one members.
Pisgah Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1839, on Sec. 4, T. 12, R. 10 W., and completed in the autumn of 1840. John M. Reese was the architect and builder. The timber for the frame was hewn and the weather-boards sawn with a whip-saw. On the night of December 24, 1877, it was destroyed by fire. Since the church was burned the society holds its meetings in the district school-house. It is said to be the first Methodist Episcopal society organized in the township; when it was the first organized there is no written record. The society is in good working condition, and since 1840 has under its watchcare a Sabbath-school which numbers sixty scholars, which also meets in the district school-house.
Bethesda Methodist Episcopal church is an unpretending one-story frame building, located on the N. E. 1/4 of Sec. 23, T. 12, R. 10 W., three and a half miles west of Terre Haute, and a half mile south of the Paris road. It was built in 1849 and completed in 1852. When the society was first organized in not known. Connected with it is a flourishing and interesting Sabbath-school. Both are working in complete harmony, and their influence for good is manifest throughout the vicinity of the church.
West Vigo is located on the S. E. 1/4 of Sec. 14, T. 12, R. 10 W., four miles west of Terre Haute, on the Paris Road. W. W. and John B. Goodman, with ten others, withdrew from the Presbyterian society of New Hope church and convened together on the 20th of December, 1849, and organized the first society of the Congregational denomination in the township. This little society did not remain quiescent, but at once inaugurated measures for the erection of a temple to worship in, and with the aid from the Congregational building fund built, at an expenditure of $800, and dedicated on the first day of May, 1853, what is now known as West Vigo Congregational church. It is a plain one-story frame edifice, 28 x 38 feet.
South Vigo Congregational church is a plain frame edifice, located on the N. W. 1/4 of Sec. 21, T. 11, R. 10 W. It was built in 1859. The society was organized in the log school-house, which was erected in 1853, where the present school-house of District No. 15 now stands, on the S. E. cor. of the N. W. 1/3 of Sec. 15, T. 11, R. 10 W.'
In the early days of the township, there was no system of public instruction; the means for acquiring an education were very limited and discouraging. Then a few settlers joined together and erected a log cabin, in which was a fire-place extending several feet across one end. In this the fire, for warming the house, was built of logs its entire length, requiring several boys to carry each log into the house and place it in position. A log was sawn out of each side of the building and the spaces were closed with paper which had been oiled with lard; this oiled paper served as windows. The seats were logs split into halves and supported by round sticks; the writing desks were of similar pattern, and the door was constructed of split logs, fastened together with wooden pine and hung with wooden hinges. In the construction of these pioneer seminaries not a nail was used. It was not unusual for boys to travel three or four miles through dense woods, to school, blazing their way the first time going over the route. Those seats of learning are now gone, and the recollection of them is rapidly fading from memory. Wonderful, indeed, are the changes and advances made within the last sixty years in the means for acquiring an education. The township has now a system of free schools of which any people should be proud. It is now divided into ten districts, and in each is located a comfortable and substantial school-house of modern architecture, within a short distance of each child. Every boy and girl in the township, between the ages of six and twenty-one years, can now obtain an education that will fit them to transact the ordinary business of life. The following statistics show the present status of education in the township: Number of schools taught, 9; number of public school-houses, 10; value of school-houses, $5,000; value of school apparatus, $480; amount of special revenue, $820.33; amount of revenue for tuition, $5,790.31; average compensation paid to teachers per day, $1.36; daily average attendance, 336; average number of days taught during the year, 180; township library volumes, 375. There is no public school taught in district No. 2; the people of this district are Catholic, and patronize their church parochial school. In not sustaining a public school they are deprived of the district's share of the public school fund.'
ST. MARY'S OF THE WOODS
Bishop Brute, the first bishop of Vincennes, desiring to establish in his diocese religious sisters from some community in France, his native land, commissioned Rev. C. de la Hailandiers, his vicar-general, who was then in France, to apply for some sisters who would be courageous enough to leave the land of their nativity and devote themselves to the instruction of youth in the wilds of America; bid adieu to all that was near and dear to them in the world, for at that time going to America was considered in the same light of going to the country beyond the grave, without the faintest hope of ever returning. On the recommendation of a priest of the diocese of Rennes, the vicar-general of Vincennes applied in the name of Bishop Brute to the superiors of the Sisters of Providence, at Ruille sur Loir, in the diocese of Mans, to obtain sisters for the mission of Vincennes. Bishop Bonvier, of Mans, and superiors of Ruille, promised him to consider the matter and do their best to grant their request. Meanwhile Bishop Brute died, and his vicar-general was appointed his successor in 1839, and was consecrated the same year at Paris. He went to Ruille' at the epoch of the annual retreat of the sisters in September. He spoke so forcibly to Mother Mary, superior-general at that time, of the spiritual wants and destitution of the children of his diocese, that she, with the approval of the bishop of Mans, consented to send a colony of sisters. It was decided they would start the next summer. In July, 1840, sisters Theodore, Basilide, Olympiade, Mary Liguori, St. Vincent and Mary Xavier, three professed sisters and three novices, parted from their dear community and started in quest of their future field of labor. Mother Theodore and her sisters, having received the blessing of Bishop Bouvier, of Mans, proceeded to Havre, where they embarked for New York on July 26, and arrived on September 8, after a painful sea voyage of forty days. After a short rest they went to Philadelphia, then to Baltimore. From Baltimore they traveled to Vincennes in the company of a Canadian priest, who was going there to see the bishop. From Baltimore they traveled night and day in a stage coach to Wheeling; from Wheeling they descended the Ohio river in a boat to Madison; here they met Bishop de la Hailandiere, who was visiting missions, and after his promising to rejoin them in a few days they proceeded to Vincennes. Father Buteux, a French priest who was residing at St. Mary's, came to the Episcopal city and conducted the weary travelers to their destination, where they arrived on October 22, 1840, after a painful and tedious journey of ninety days. St. Mary's at that time consisted of a small frame house, the dwelling of a farmer, Joseph Thrall. There were besides, two or three log huts in the forest at different places in the vicinity, also an unfinished brick house that the bishop was building for the sisters, which had been commenced the month before their arrival, and a log church 10 feet square, in which Father Buteux, who was the first chaplain of the community, officiated. It had no alter, no tabernacle, but on a board placed on logs was a small pyx, in which was kept the blessed sacrament. Mr. Thrall shared his house with the sisters, of which in a few weeks became sole possessors by purchase; it had four small rooms, and the best one was immediately converted into a chapel. In November, 1841, Sister St. Frances, who had been detained by ill health, arrived at St. Mary's, to the great joy and delight of the little community. From that day her name is all along joined with that of Mother Theodore in the most important events and transactions of the community of which she became mistress of novices. During a space of about seven years the young community was submitted to the greatest tribulations that can be imagined; it proved a time of almost constant struggle, anguish and agony. Those days of pain were succeeded by peaceful ones, only occasionally illness came to threaten the lives of Mother Theodore and Sister St. Frances. Sister St. Frances died January 31, 1856, and Mother Theodore, the foundress of the community, died May 14, three months after Sister St. Frances. Great is the difference between the first house occupied by the pioneer sisters and the present beautiful and imposing Academy of St. Mary's of the Woods and the comfortable mother-house adjoining it. Then a log house was the chapel and at the same time the residence of the priest; two small rooms, half the dwelling-house of a kind farmer, constituted the convent home. The academy building in process of erection then was a neat, small, brick edifice, with basement and attic, consisting of six rooms. The few sisters that came had then to fulfill every office and duty, besides facing all the difficulties with only such resources as their solitude could afford. The railroad was not made then, and sometimes all communications with Terre Haute were prevented by water that filled the river bottom, which extended half way between the two places. Since the St. Louis, Terre Haute & Indianapolis railroad is established, communications have become very easy. The community now numbers more than 300 sisters, including novices. The epoch of the annual retreat is August 7, at which time they all visit their mother home. The Sisters of Providence have under their direction thirty-three branch establishments, located in the states of Indiana, Michigan and Illinois, and two orphan asylums; one for boys at Vincennes, the other at Terre Haute, for girls. In 1839, Bishop de la Hailandiere, purchased 119 acres of land for the pioneers. It was covered with timber except about thirty acres. The community now owns over 300 acres. Of the seven pioneer sisters, five rest from their earthly labors; two, Sisters Olympiade and Mary Xavier, yet remain to aid the community with their matured experience and wisdom.
The information on this page came from:
Vigo County Public Library and the maps from the Vigo County Interim Report, 1984.
Chinook Fish and Wildlife Area
Churches around town
City of Terre Haute
Flags around town
J.I. Case Wildlife Area
Markle Mill; Newspaper articles on
Prairie Creek Park
Shakamak State Park
Taylorville and West Terre Haute area