HISTORY OF BARTHOLOMEW
Bartholomew county was organized
in 1821, under an act of the general assembly, approved January ninth
of that year, and was taken from what was then known as Delaware
county. It was named in honor of General Joseph Bartholomew, of Clark
county. He was a distinguished soldier of the Indian wars, and
commanded a battalion of Indiana militia in the battle of Tippecanoe,
where he was severely wounded. In 1819, when the treaty by which the
lands in Bartholomew county were ceded to the United States by the
natives, there were no white settlers in the county, yet such was the
inviting character of the country that. it was rapidly settled by an
intelligent and enterprising population. .At the first election after
the organization of the county, there were three hundred and fifty five
votes cast, indicating nearly two thousand inhabitants.
central and. eastern portion of
the county is generally level and the soil productive; the western
portion is broken and less fertile although there is but little really
poor land in the county. The country known as the “Haw Patch,” which is
twelve miles in length and six in width, would compare favorably with
any portion of the famous “Blue Grass” region of Kentucky. “Between
Flatrock and Driftwood,” says the author of the “Indiana Gazetteer,”
“there were originally forests for miles, without any undergrowth; and.
where the tall and thinly scattered walnut, blue ash and sugar trees no
more interfered with travelers on horseback or in carriages, than would
open parks, where trees had been planted and trimmed for the purpose.”
The principal water courses are
the Driftwood or East Fork of White river, Flatrock, Big Sand creek,
Little Sand creek. Clifty, Blue river, Rock creek, Haw creek, Duck
creek, Tough creek, White creek, Bear creek, Denio’s creek, Nineveh
creek. Cook’s creek and Pleasant run; Driftwood fork was, by an act of
the legislature in 1824, declared a public highway; nearly all these
streams afford mill facilities during a greater part of the year, and a
never failing supply of water for stock ‘Fish were formerly found in
abundance, but of late years the supply has notably diminished, and
artificial means have been resorted to, to restore it, with a fair
prospect of success.
Prominent among the early
settlers were, John Lindsay, Luke Bousteel, John Prathea, David Deitz,
John R Robinson, Williamson Terrell, Francis J. Cramp, Joseph Cox,
Tunis Quick, William S. Jones, David Kellar, Ransom Davis, Archibald
McEwan, Solomon Stout, Samuel Nelson, Jacob Cook. James Hamner, Joseph
McFall, Samuel Beek, and Jessie and William Ruddick. They had mostly
emigrated from Kentucky, and were all men of character and force, and
contributed largely to the subsequent prosperity of the county. Many of
their descendants reside there, and are numbered among the most
prominent and influential citizens.
Columbus is the county seat of
Bartholomew. It has been incorporated as a city. Hartsville, Rope,
Taylorsville, Azalia, Elizabethtown, Jonesville, Walesboro,
Waynesville, Newburn, Mount Healthy, Waymansville, Clifford, Bethany,
Kansas, Burnsville, and St. Louis Crossing are incorporated towns, all
of them prosperous and thriving. The county seat was selected by
William P. Thomasson, of Harrison county, Ebemezer E. Morgan, of
Crawford county, John E. Clark, of Washington county, and James
Hamilton, of Jackson county, commissioners appointed by the general
assembly for that purpose. They met at the house of Tolm Parker, on Haw
creek, February twelfth, 1821, and after careful consideration, agreed
upon the site. They deeded to call it Tiptona, in honor of General
Tipton, who owned lands in the vicinity, but the county commissioners,
at their second meeting, in March, 1S21, changed the name to Columbus.
The first settlers of Columbus
were John Lindsay and Luke Bonesteel, who had purchased by entry from
the general government in 1820, the ground upon which a considerable
portion of the town was located, and which was donated by them for the
purpose of securing the location. David Deitz, the oldest settler in
Columbus, now living, came there in the spring of 1821. The next in
seniority, still residing there, is Francis T. Cramp, president of the
First National bank, who came early the following year. William son
Terrible came to the place, from Kentucky, in 1821. There were but
three houses in it, and so unpromising was its prospects that he left.
He returned, however, in 1828, and remained till his death in 1873.
Bartholomew county has all the
elements of greatness, and it naturally invites capital and remunerates
abundantly the husbandman.
In consequence of the donation of
a large amount of land, by the Indians, at a treaty for the specified
purpose of building a road from the Ohio river to Lake Michigan, the
building of this road, and especially as no point on the Ohio river had
been designated in the treaty, every place from the mouth of the Miami
to the Wabash intrigued for it. For several sessions this was the prize
coveted and. contended for.
Jefferson county was ably
represented in the house by Milton Stapp, and in the senate by Joseph
G. Marshall, who, by their energy and talents, secured Madison as the
starting point from the Ohio river, and as they suspected Philip
Seetser, who represented Bartholomew county, of having senatorial
aspirations, which would naturally lead him to prefer Jeffersonville as
a starting point, they had the road. laid off by the way of Greensburg
and. Shelbyville, instead of through Vernon, Columbus and Franklin, as
it ought, if it was to become a great thoroughfare.
This caused the defeat of
Sweetser and the election of William Herod the following year, who
became our next representative.
Colonel T. G. Lee, who
represented the county in 1835—6, secured charters for railroads from
Madison and Jeffersonville through Columbus to Indianapolis, and the
people, on learning the fact, assembled and had a time of great
rejoicing, bonfires, etc., little suspecting that the very next day,
the charter for the Jeffersonville branch railroad had been repealed by
the efforts of Marshall and Stapp. Some years after the same charter
was again granted, and made only a few years later than the Madison
railroad, and is now the more important of the two roads.
The first train on the latter
road reached Columbus on the fourth day of July, 1844, greeted with
great joy by the people of the county. Now they are accommodated by two
railroads crossing at Columbus and traversing the county in the form of
an X; the Jeffersonville road having trains direct without change of
cars to the eastern cities. The Madison and Jeffersonville roads unite
here and go direct to Indianapolis. What is called the Cambridge City
Branch railroad, is the direct route to the Eastern cities.
Another projected line from
Cincinnati, passing through the middle of the county, from east to
west, to the famous coal and iron fields in the western portion of the
State, will perhaps be built in a few years.
The county is well improved by
turnpikes and other works for the convenience and comfort of the
people. During the year 1821, and until July, 1822, the courts occupied
the house located on lot No. 119 of the original plat of Columbus, and
known as the “Luke Bonesteel House. John Pence and Ephriam
Arnold, associate judges, held the first court March twelfth, and the
second court June eleventh, 1821. At the third term, held in October of
the same year, Davis Floyd, judge of the second judicial district of
the State, presided, with the same two associates previously named. The
next court was held in a log house on lot No. 148, north-east corner
of Lindsay and Walnut streets, owned by Wm. V. Snyder, and the
youthful Wm W. Wick, presiding judge, with. Pense and Arnold as “side
judges.” In 1824, court moved into a house provided by Philip Sweetser.
In 1825, court was held in Newton C.
Jones’ house, on the north-east
corner of Jackson and Walnut streets. We have been thus minute in the
history of the courts, to show the contrast between then and now, as
Bartholomew county now has the most elegant temple of justice in the
State, outside of Indianapolis.
The brick court house, built by
Giles Mitchell, was occupied by the courts and received by the county
commissioners November, 1825. This court house was regarded by the
pioneers as “extravagantly costly,” but the rapid progress of the
county in wealth and population, and the early decay of the building,
caused, in 1838, the board of justices to order “that the old court
house be sold, and a new court house built.”
Columbus has now a population of
over five thousand. its school are conducted on the most efficient
plan, in commodious buildings. The new court house is an ornament to
the city, and a credit to the county. The city is quite prosperous in
commerce, education and public improvements.
districts of the county are nearly all
wealthy. The farmers are enjoying the richest fruits of the
husband-man’s toil, arid are mostly independent in this world's goods.
They had early provided excellent schools for the young, and in every
quarter there are noticeable evidences of industry and thrift.