Genealogy Trails
HISTORY OF FLOYD COUNTY INDIANA
(Transcribed from the Book "A History Of The State Of Indiana"
By De Witt C. Goodrich, Charles R. Tuttle 1876)

First White Settler


    FLOYD county was named in honor of Colonel John Floyd, of Virginia. The surface of the county contains some of the distinguishing physical features of the State. A range of hills called the “knobs,” about two and a half miles in breadth, runs through the county from north to south, reaching the Ohio a short distance below New Albany, the county seat. They present a very rugged surface, and are composed
of slate, clay, soft sandstone and iron ore Above the clay and ore is a layer of freestone, valuable for building purposes. East of the knobs, and in a portion of the country west, the land is gently rolling, but the general character of the county is hilly and the soil poor, with the exception of some tracts of good land. The county was formerly quite well timbered. Much of the county is well adapted to the cultivation of corn and grass, and to raising cattle, hogs, horses and sheep.
    Any sketch of Floyd county must be principally of New Albany. Within the limits of that city we find concentrated most of the industry, wealth, and materials for future greatness in the county.
    New Albany was laid out in 1813, by Joel, Abner and Nathaniel Seribner. The original plat of the town did not embrace more than one third of its present area, the purchase of the Scribners amounting to but eight hundred and twenty six and one half acres. The land was purchased by the Scribner brothers of John Paul, who entered it at the government land office at Vincennes. The lots were disposed of by public auction on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of November,  1813, and there was a stipulation in the advertisement of the
sale that “one fourth part of each payment upon the lots sold shall be paid into the hands of trustees, to be chosen by the purchasers until such payments shall amount to five thousand dollars, the interest of which to be applied to the use of schools in the town for the use of its inhabitants forever.” This was the manner in which the Scribner high school of New Albany was founded, which, through the lapse of fifty nine years, has flourished, and is now one among the most efficiently managed and prosperous high schools in Indiana. It is connected with the public schools of the city as the male high school. Provision was also made by the Scribners for lots upon which to erect churches, county buildings and for a public park, all which generous designs of the founders of the city have been fully carried out. In 1814 a large number of families removed to New Albany, and from that time forward, notwithstanding the nearness of Louisville, and the start that town had gained in population and business, the contiguity of Jeffersonville and shipping post, and the laying off and settlement of Portland, on the opposite side of the Ohio, with the active competition these towns offered, New Albany had a steady and substantial, but not a rapid, growth.
    There are no thrilling incidents in the early history of New Albany. It has had a quiet growth, and has “ever been more celebrated for its moral, religious and educational advantages, fine climate and good health, than as a ‘fast town,’ where vice is predominant, and the temptations to youth numerous and alluring.  In its religion, benevolent and educational enterprises, it has always held the rank of the first city in the State.”
    The location and scenery are admirable. “It is laid out,” says Mr. Cotton, “upon a beautiful plateau, above high water mark in the Ohio, upon two benches or plains that sweep northward by a gentle rise from the river, with wide streets crossing each other at right angles. To the west and northwest is a range of hills from three to five hundred feet in height, known to the Indians as the ‘Silver Hills,’ from the peculiarly bright, smoky halo that ever hangs around and over them. These hills, now called the ‘knobs,’ are crowned
with grand old forest trees, or dotted here and there with neat and often elegant farm houses. They add greatly to the beauty of the city, giving it a most charming and romantic appearance. From these hills a magnificent view of New Albany, Louisville, Jeffersonville, the Falls of the Ohio, the great Ohio river bridge at the Falls, the far-away hills that loom up in grandeur along Salt river, in Kentucky, the famous Muldraugh hill of that State, the entire range of knobs in Indiana for many miles, and a long stretch of river. A more grand and beautiful natural panorama is nowhere else unrolled in Indiana. This range of hills protects the city from storms, and such a thing as a hurricane is unknown at New Albany, while the violence of such storms not infrequently falls with destructive force upon the neighboring cities of Louisville and Jeffersonville. These ‘knobs’ afford splendid building sites for suburban residences, and are especially celebrated for the superior quality and abundance of the peaches, pears, plums, apples, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, and other fruits grown upon them. For the purposes of fruit culture the lands on these ‘knobs’ are in great demand. Nevertheless, they sell at remarkably low prices per acre. The city, to the west, along the line of the Ohio River, overlooks miles of rich and highly cultivated garden lands, while to the east and northeast large and valuable farms meet the view.”
    New Albany's river navigation facilities give her natural avenues of commerce and trade with fifteen States, having a population of over nine million. The cash value of the farms of this population in 1870 was over $901,000,000; of farm products, $519,876,412; of live stock, $189,301,721. This is but a portion of the wealth of the sections penetrated by the navigable rivers to which New Albany is directly accessible. The railroad advantages of the city- are extensive, and there is a fair prospect of their enlargement in the near future.
    The city is now the terminus of the Louisville. New Albany and Chicago, the Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis, and the Louisville and New Albany Railroads. Concerning the railroads and their future, we have the following from the pen of Mr. Cotton: “The track of the Louisville and Cincinnati branch of the Ohio and Mississippi railroad will soon be extended here, (the right of way into the city having been granted by the city council,) making New Albany the terminus of this road. The Louisville, New Albany and St. Louis Railway. Now being rapidly constructed, and which will be speedily finished, also terminates here, though it connects with Louisville by the Louisville and New Albany road. The Terre Haute and New Albany road is projected, and the New Albany and Cincinnati road has a bone fide subscription to its stock of over eight hundred thousand dollars. The Lake Erie, Louisville and New Albany railroad, (to Toledo, Ohio,) will be completed early in the summer of 1873. These roads connect New Albany with all sections of the Union, north, south, east and west, giving her railroad advantages possessed by few cities in the west. The Louisville, New Albany and Chicago road runs from the Ohio river, at this city, to Lake Michigan, at Michigan City, a distance of nearly three hundred miles, connecting with the Ohio and Mississippi, the Toledo, Wabash and Western; the Pittsburg, Cincinnati and Chicago, the Michigan Southern, the Michigan Central, and a number of other roads. The Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis road is the southernmost link of the great Panhandle route cast via Cambridge City, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and the Pennsylvania Central to Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore; and at Indianapolis it connects with all the roads leading from that city east, northwest, and north. The Louisville and New Albany road connects at Louisville with the Louisville and Nashville, and the Louisville and New Orleans roads to all points south; with the Chesapeake and Ohio to New York City and Norfolk, Virginia; with the short line to Cincinnati and the Baltimore and Ohio road east; and with all the roads in Kentucky centering, at Louisville. The Ohio and Mississippi road will connect New Albany directly with the Baltimore and Ohio and all the lines leading east from Cincinnati. The Louisville, New Albany, and St. Louis Air Line railway is, as its name indicates, an air line road to St. Louis, connecting the two great commercial cities of Louisville and St. Louis, passing for nearly forty miles through the coal fields of Indiana, and the shortest route from Louisville to St. Louis by forty six miles. This is one of the most important railroads in Indiana. The Lake Erie, Louisville and New Albany road will, when completed, give to New Albany an almost air line road to the great pineries and famous iron mines of Michigan. The New Albany and Cincinnati road is projected along the north bank of the Ohio River, via Madison to Cincinnati. The New Albany and Terre Haute road is projected by way of the coal fields and iron mines of Owen, Clay, Greene and Vigo counties to Terre Haute, on the Wabash River, at the western limit of the State. Thus it will be seen that the railroad interests of New Albany are of vast magnitude, and promise to make her one of the first cities of Indiana.”
    The manufacturing interests of New Albany are foremost. The most extensive glass works in the United States are located there. These works are organized under the name and style of the Star Glass Company. They cover an area of fifteen acres with the buildings and necessary grounds, and manufacture the very best quality of plate glass, in all respects equal to the best French and English plate, and also window glass, fruit jars, and bottles. The manufacture of plate glass in America is as yet an experiment so far as relates to profitable returns, upon the very large investment of capital it requires to operate such works. There can, however, be little cause to doubt that the experiment now making at New Albany in the manufacture of a first quality of plate glass will prove successful, inasmuch as the capital employed, the extent of the buildings, arid the amount and superiority of the machinery used, will compare favorably with the like conditions in the extensive plate glass works of Europe. The commercial interests of the city are very extensive and constantly expanding.
    The people of New Albany boast, and perhaps justly, that they have the most efficient system of free schools, in the State. “Their claim in this regard,” says Mr. Cotton, “is well founded, as the carefully collated social statistics of the schools will show. There are in the city ten elegant and very large brick school buildings, and one frame school building. The value of these buildings is about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and they furnish accommodations for fully three thousand pupils. Eight of the buildings are used for the primary, intermediate, and grammar schools, and one as a male high school, and one as a female high school The system of grading is a most perfect one, and works admirably and efficiently. Tuition is absolutely free in all departments; and the pupils who pass all the grades and graduate through the high school receive a thorough English and scientific education, and are competent for any department of business, or for any of the professions. The city has erected a first class brick edifice as a school house for the colored inhabitants of the city, who have the same rights to admission into their own schools as the whites have into theirs the same law governing both. Forty five white and two colored teachers are employed in these public schools, while the average attendance of pupils is about two thousand three hundred. The annual cost of the schools is not far from thirty thousand dollars, and the total number of school children in the city entitled to the privileges of the schools is seven thousand one hundred and thirty. The schools are managed by a board of three school trustees, elected by the city council, which secures to them permanency, and the best educators in the way of teachers. These public schools afford the poor man, the mechanic, laborer, and small dealer or trader, superior facilities for giving his children an excellent education free of all expense; so that no man who lives in New Albany can have the least excuse for permitting his sons or daughters to grow up in ignorance. It is doubtful if a better system of public free schools can be found in any section of the Union than the one now in operation, with the most eminent success, at New Albany.
    The Depauw college for young ladies is one of the best and most popular female colleges in Indiana. The institution is the property of the Indiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. For the last six years, or since its reorganization in 1866, it has been tinder the direction of Rev. Erastus. Rowley, D.D., as president, who has been recently re-elected to the same position for the next three years. This college occupies one of the most pleasant and commanding situations in the most beautiful portion of the city of New Albany. This city has long enjoyed a high reputation for its educational advantages, as well as for the high moral and religious tone of its inhabitants. It is noted for its healthfulness, and is accessible in all directions by various railroads and by the Ohio river. The college building, originally erected for a ladies’ boarding school, has been enlarged and improved within the past six years, at an expense of near twenty thousand dollars, and now other improvements, embracing the entire renovation of the interior of the building, are just completed. The rooms for the boarding pupils and teachers are all carpeted and well furnished. The capacity of the building is sufficient to accommodate seventy five boarding and an equal number of day pupils. This college affords very superior facilities to those desiring too educate and accomplish their daughters. The facility embraces six experienced and successful educators besides the president. The college year opens September eleventh and closes June fourteenth. The institution confers upon its graduates the degrees of Mistress of English Literature and Mistress of Liberal Arts. Every valuable improvement in method of instruction will be adopted, and the great aim will be to develop the mental and moral powers of the pupil, and to educate the mind to habits of thought and investigation. The college is furnished with globes, maps, charts, and apparatus to illustrate natural philosophy, chemistry, electricity, and astronomy. The music department embraces instruction on the piano, organ, guitar, and in vocalization, while the French and German languages are taught by competent teachers. The graduating class in 1872 numbered nine young ladies.
    The St. Mary's female academy is a first class one, under the care of the Sisters of St. Francis (Catholic,) and. with Sister Veronica as Lady Superior. The building is one among the largest and best adapted educational edifices in the State, having accommodations for eight hundred pupils. All the branches of a thorough and accomplished education are taught, including music, the modern languages, painting, needle-work,. There is probably no better Catholic academy in than St. Mary's, and it is the pride of the Catholics in Indiana.
    The Morse academy is a high school of the best grade, under supervision of Prof. F. L. Morse, in which the education of sexes together is a leading feature. This academy possesses all the advantages of a college in apparatus, and the high character of its board of instruction. The marked success attended it, and enabled Prof. Morse to erect the most commodious and convenient buildings, indicates it's high character.
    Besides those schools already named, there are five Catholic parochial schools; German Protestant parochial school; Methodist parochial school; and seven private schools.

Add these  private and parochial schools, colleges, and academies to the grand system of public free schools, and it will readily be seen that the educational advantages of New Albany are unrivaled.
    The Churches and benevolent institutions of the city are the educational facilities in every respect. The New Society of Natural History is well organized, and evinced the high culture of the citizens.



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