Much of the early history of the townships can. never be obtained. The
official reports of the first elections are not in existence. The
records of the County Commissioners appointing the elections, and the
recollections of the early inhabitants, are the only sources from which
any information can now be drawn. From the former we can only learn the
time at which these elections were held. The facts ascertained from the
first settlers concerning them are vague, uncertain and often
contradictory. An instance will illustrate: In one township the
confident testimony of the earliest residents would show that the first
election was held at three different places and at as many different
times. Similarly conflicting statements are given in most of the
townships. The memory of the pioneers is confused by the fact that at
most of the precincts several special elections were held during the
first year or two after the township organization. This leads many to
give the first election they attended as the first township election.
The same uncertainty exists, also, with reference to the officers of
the election and the persons elected. In these circumstances, that only
is stated here which is known to be true.
The first township organized was Penn, by order of the County
Commissioners at their first sitting. It was named by Samuel Grissell,
in honor of William Penn. The first house was built by John Gain, in
1823 ; the first settler was John Brooks; the next was Moses Hamilton,
who remained long-enough to acquire the honorable distinction of first
permanent settler. Samuel Grissell came next, and was soon followed by
John McCoy, both in 1834.
The town of Camden was laid out August 27th, 1836, by Jeremiah Smith,
Samuel Grissell being the proprietor. It was first called New Lisbon .
Mr. Grissell made a sale of town lots, Job Carr being the auctioneer,
aud sold at prices varying from $15 to $30. John D. Jones built the
first house in the summer of 1836, (William Samuels had partially
raised a house before this,) and became the first settler. It took the
few hands that could be collected three days to raise it. The town site
-was then partly cleared of underbrush, but Mr. Jones has the honor .of
having taken out the first " grub." The elections for several years
were generally held at his house. William Samuels was the second person
to settle in the town.
In 1836 H. Z. Jenkins brought his family from Ohio, and a stock of
goods, consigned to him to sell on commission, with which he opened the
first store in the town—first occupying Job Carr's house, just west of
the town, and afterward one of his own, in the village. Mrs. Jenkins
generally waited on the customers. Job Carr, junior, kept the second
store; and in April, 1839, Anthony Pitnam, now of Richmond, Indiana,
opened the third. The Friends built the first meeting house in the
township, situated east of the town. This log house, though still
standing, is now superceded by a neat frame structure. At the first
meeting held in Camden, by the Methodists, H. Z. Jenkins joined the
church. James Coulson and his wife H. Z. Jenkins, Mary Delong and Sarah
Gove formed the first class. Mr. Joseph A. Lupton was the first
blacksmith, opening a shop in the winter of 1839-'40. Stephen Kees and
Joseph J. Paxson were among the earliest pioneers of the north part of
the township. The prudent forethought of Joshua Bond led him to bring a
pair of hand mill stones when he moved from Ohio.
These he made into a hand grist mill, in the spring of 1836, which was
the first mill in Jay County. There was much rejoicing in the vicinity
when this successor to the homfny block was put in operation. It was
constantly thronged, each man grinding his own grist, no toll being
charged. But it would by no means supply the demand, and Mr. Bond soon
fixed it to run by horse-power. This contrivance also failed to supply
the wants of the region, and in 1837 Mr. Bond built a good mill, which
was run by four to eight horses. That was the most celebrated mill ever
erected in Jay County. To it the settlers flocked from far and near,
some coming twenty miles. No public improvement was ever more welcome
to the needy settlers. Sometimes so many would be at the mill over
night that there was not room on the floor of Mr. Bond's house for all
of them to lie down. This mill was in the basement of the log barn, in
which he afterward built a threshing machine. That was the first
threshing machine in the county. The customers then brought their grain
to the mill in sheaves and took it away in flour! What modern mill can
excel this pioneer establishment?
About 1838 Samuel Grissell started a saw mill on the Salimonie by
Cainden, and in 1844 put in operation a water grist mill. In 1850 Mr.
Grissell and Lukins Griflith built a steam saw mill, and the same year
built the steam grist mill now owned by Samuel A. Shoaff.
The first election in Perm Township is involved in much obscurity. The
County Commissioners' record shows that the first election appointed
was to be held at New Lisbon (Camden) on the second Saturday in
December, 1836, Samuel Grissell, Inspector. At the January term, 1837,
another election was ordered, to be held at Jonathan Hiatt's, John M.
Carr, Inspector, on the last Saturday" of that month. And again, at the
May term, 1837, still another election was appointed for the first
Saturday in June—place not given. All these elections were to elect a
Justice. Elihu Hamilton says he was elected the first Justice at the
election held at Jonathan Hiatt's; that he would not accept the office,
and that at a subsequent election, Ellis Davis was elected. The first
township officers were appointed by the Commissioners in May, 1837, and
were as follows: Inspector, Elihu Hamilton; Supervisor, Jonathan Hiatt;
Overseers of the Poor, Joshua Bond and "William Swallow ; Fence 'V
iewers, Moses Hamilton and David Canady.
Levi Johnson, Esq., for twelve years Justice of the Peace in Jackson
Township, taught the first school in Penn Township in the winter of
1837-'38, in a log house which stood near the present residence of
Jesse Gray, jun.
The Post Office was established in Camden on the 19th of January, 1839,
and John D. Jones appointed Postmaster. He held the office just six
days, during which time he opened one mail and found one letter for
that office. John M. Carr succeeded Mr. Jones as Postmaster. It was
first called Penn, then changed to Pennville.
Bear Creek Township was organized in November, 1836, the first election
held on the second Saturday in December, 1836, at the house of John
Pingry, Biram A. Pearson being Inspector. The first township officers
were as follows: Inspector, James Marquis ; Supervisors, William Yail
and James Marquis ; Overseers of the Poor, William Baldwin and Edward
Buford; Fence Viewers, Frederick Wible and William Gray.
The first settler was John Pingry, sen. The first store was kept by
Lewis N. Byram, at Bloomfield. The first Post Office (Bear Creek) in
the township was also at Bloomtield, established on the 7th of
February, 1840, L. K Byram, Postmaster. On the 14th of July, 1851, the
office was removed to West Liberty, in Jackson Township, and W. K.
Coldren appointed Postmaster ; but in July the following year it was
returned to Bloomfield, and J. L. Grigsby became Postmaster. John H.
Smith holds the office at present, and is the only merchant in the
place. In 1854 George W. Porter started the first store at West
Chester, and in April of that year the Post Office was established
there, and he was appointed the Postmaster. Soon after, A. E. HcGriff
and I. N. Green purchased the store, and they sold it to William H.
Montgomery, who still remains there and is the present Postmaster.
Monroe Post Office was established on the 24th of November, 1854, and
John A. Smith appointed Postmaster, who held the office until July,
1864; when it was discontinued on account of a change in the mail
route. It was on the Wabash river, near the farm of William Siberry,
The first marriage in the township was that of Addison D. May and Miss
Lucinda Pingry, Nov. 6, 1834, by William Odle, Esq., of Deerfield. In
the fall of 1835, Tandy Dempsey came to John Pingry'e, and on the 8th
of August, 1836, he died, being the first death in the township. In
1836 a large hickory tree caught fire near Mr. Pingry's. The fire ran
up the tree about forty feet, there burned it off, and then slowly and
constantly burned downward for nearly one year. It was known as the
James Marquis and family settled on the farm now owned by Hev. Aaron
Worth, April 14th, 1836, purchasing the claim of Michael Zimmerman, who
lived in a split log house. The chickens roosted on the joists at one
corner of the house, while at one end on the outside was a shed, under
which the horses were kept, and, at the other, against the chimney,
there was a pig pen. In May, of this year, a Methodist Episcopal class
was formed at Mr. Marquis' house, being the first religious
organization in Jay County. The members were: James Marquis, William
Vail, Jesse Gray, senior, David and William Baldwin, and their wives.
In June, 1837, Mr. Marquis commenced building a water grist mill on
that place, and, in January, 1838, put it in operation—the second mill
of the kind in the county. Like all other pioneer mills it was a great
blessing to a large section of country. Many persons were waiting at
the mill to get some grinding done when it started. Persons came to
that mill from Adams, Wells and Blackford counties. Most persons came
on horseback, some on ponies, and some brought their grists on their
In March, 1839, he started a saw-mill, the first one in Jay- County.
The first temperance meeting ever held in the county was also held at
Mr. Marquis' house, in 1837. In 1839 the first temperaiice society was
organized in the same neighborhood, and Dr. Jacob Bosworth delivered an
address full of sound sense and convincing arguments. The following
scraps are specimens of its bold, manly utterances :
" Intemperance is incompatible with genuine patriotism. This virtue is
not to be conceded to the drunkard. This noble and generous plant
cannot live in a soul so uncultivated so overrun with foul and noxious
weeds. Can a man be a patriot who violates every obligation of domestic
and social life ? whose example is a moral pestilence in the community,
and who, for the sake of a beastly gratification, inflicts misery and
wrong upon all who have the unhappiness to be connected with him. The
good man loves his country because it contains much, that is excellent
and much that is dear to him. He knows it to be the home of the wise
and good, of his kindred and friends, whom he venerates; he reveres the
liberal and holy institutions it contains; in their prosperity and
perpetuity he takes the deepest interest, and his most strenuous
eiforts are ever ready to remove what is evil and to advance that which
is excellent and useful. Nothing of this kind can be attributed to the
drunkard. His conduct and example, instead of advancing the welfare of
his country, are eminently calculated to destroy its best interests. Do
patriots discourage habits of industry and encourage habits of
idleness, pauperism and crime ? Intemperance destroys the intelligence
and virtue of the people—those pillars of our republican system I it
endangers our civil and religious institutions, with all that is held
dear by the true patriot."
Signed to the pledge of that society are nearly one hundred names,
embracing persons living in all parts of the county.
The first settler on the Limberlost, between William Gibson and William
Chapman, was Ira Towle, who came in the spring of 1837. In three weeks
Samuel Towle settled beside him. Within the next year or two a whole
settlement of Eastern people joined them. John C. Montgomery, Harry
Reed, Eeuben Montgomery, David Antles, George Axe, M. P. Montgomer}-,
and Aaron and Thomas Brown. Ira Towle burned the top of a large stump
in concave shape, which answered for a hominy block, and above it built
a frame, in which was a contrivance to pound the corn in the stump. In
this way the neighbors made their meal. Samuel Towle kept many
travelers the first year. Twenty-five strangers staid in his fourteen
by-twenty-feet cabin one night. They lay upon the floor, commencing
under the bed, the last one lying by the door, who had to get up in the
morning before it could be opened ! For three years John C.
Montgomery's house, which stood just north of Westchester, was most of
the time full of westward travelers on the Huntington road. Sometimes
they went in caravans; at one time forty, at another seventy persons
were in one company. Once, when Mr. Montgomery was sick, he put his gun
out of the window and shot a wild turkey, which with a flock had come
into the door-yard. The wolves killed several calves for Samuel Towle,
and once caught a deer and tore it in pieces within fifteen rods of his
A whirlwind more terrific than any storm that has since visited Jay
County occurred on the 28th of March, 1840. It commenced half a mile
west of Adam Stolz', near Westchester, taking nearly an eastern
direction. A very small cloud first appeared, which soon began to
whirl, and in a few moments the sky presented a vast mass of confused
whirling clouds. It would strike the earth, and follow the ground for
perhaps half a mile, then rise above the trees, and soon again descend
and renew its devastations. Its disastrous track was not more than
forty rods wide. It took half the roof from Mr. Stolz' house, and tore
down all the trees in his fields. It appeared to be in the height of
its fury when it reached the old" farm of William E. Montgomery.
Darkness came as suddenly as the tornado;—the terrible roaring and
crashing swallowed up all other sounds. The windows were blown in, and
while the family endeavored to hold blankets against them, one side of
the floor rose up several inches, the roof was taken off and carried
several rods, and a limb fell into the chamber which took two men to
lift. A straw bonnet belonging to Miss Jane A. Montgomery was torn to
pieces, wrapped around a large tree, and the tree lying upon the
ground. A dress belonging to Mrs. Harriet Walter was taken four and a
half miles, and left in a tree top. All the fences were scattered;
trees were torn down, and nothing fairly in its course withstood its
fury. Trees three and four feet in diameter were twisted into splinters
or snapped off, as if by the power of Him who holds the winds in the
hollow of His hand. When it reached the farm of Ebenezer Drake, Mrs.
Drake was at home, alone with the children. With commendable
forethought she took up a puncheon, put the children into a hole under
the floor, and was just going down herself when a piece of flying
timber struck her, inflicting severe injury. In a few moments the storm
had passed, and she found only a few rounds of logs left of their
house. Its noise was heard distinctly a distance of nine miles. A
similar whirlwind passed through Madison Township before any families
hail settled in Jay.
The first settler in Wabash Township was Peter Studabaker (1821).; the
second was Orman Perring, and the third was AVilliam Gibson. The first
election was held at William Gibson's, on fhe 23d of September, 1837.
John B. Gillespie settled on what is now the town site of New Corydon
in 1837, and in 1839 built the old grist mill, having only a brush dam.
In 1841 Samuel Hall built a saw mill on the south side of the river.
James Gillespie erected a saw mil! adjoining the grist mill, in 1842.
In August, 1843, Theophilus Wilson purchased the town site and the
Gillespie Mills, brought a stock of goods, and opened the first store.
Gillespie had laid off a few town lots in 1840, but none had been sold.
In March, 1844, Mr. Wilson employed Thomas Brown to survey the town of
New Corydon. Jesse Snyder put up the first blacksmith's shop in 1844.
Wilson put a tan yard in operation in 1845, which he afterward sold to
Timothy H. Parker, who disposed of it to David "Walter, the present
owner. In 1845 Almon Sparling opened a cooper's shop. Wilson's store
was the only one in the town until 1847, when Joshua Gifford commenced
selling goods, and continued until his death, in Septemher, 1853.
Wilson sold his store to SherhurneA. Lewis in 1848, who subsequently
took C. J. Plumb as a partner, and the store was kept in Plumb's house,
at the lower end of Main street, which has since been a hotel. Samuel
Hall and Harper Tyson sold goods a few months in Wilson's old stand,
were succeeded by C. W. Scott, he by J. B. Cecil, and he by David
Beardslee, whom George Steckel bought out, continuing^the business,
though at present in the hundred-days' service of his country.
The first school kept in the township was by Miss Elizabeth Montgomery,
now Mrs. Thomas Towle, in the summer of 1840. The first school in New
Corydon was taught in the summer of 1844, by Miss Sophronia Lewis.—a
hewed log " smoke house" being converted into a schoolroom. A Post
Office was established at New Corydon in September, 1844, and T. Wilson
appointed Postmaster, who held the ofiice until Janxiary 1st, 1852,
when he resigned in favor of C. W. Scott, who resigned in a year, and
George Stolz was appointed. He is the present incumbent, and also has a
In 1844 the Rev. I. N. Taylor was stopping at Mr. Wilson's, who had
just been repairing his old log house by ceiling up the rafters. Mr.
Taylor proposed that a Presbyterian Church should be built there, and
when Mr. Wilson made some objection he read to him these words from
Hosea : "Is it time for you to dwell in your ceiled house, and this
house lie waste ? Go up to the mountains, and bring wood and build the
house, and 1 will dwell in it, and I will be glorified, saith the
Lord." Mr. Wilson replied, " You have got the Bible on your side; we
will build the house!" and immediately gave Mr. Taylor the choice of
his lots, and started a subscription paper by putting his name down for
fifty dollars. The paper was circulated, and persons signed work,
lumber, hauling, grain, etc., no money being promised. Rev. I. N.
Taylor and the Limberlost settlement aided very much. Mr. Reuben
Montgomery took the subscription and built the house for $250, without
money. This pioneer church has been occupied by all denominations with
good feeling. In 1855 a Methodist Church was built.
The first Sabbath School in E"ew Corydon was established on the 26th of
June. 1842. The preliminary steps of organization were taken at the
house of Asahel W. Lewis, in February previous. The old mills have now
good successors. About ! 1858 John Hall and Yynul Arnett started a
steam saw mill on the south bank of the river at the bridge, and in
August, 1859, set in operation a steam grist mill. In 1862 "William and
Henry HoMakin erected a large water grist mill at the old mill site.
All these mills are now in successful operation. In 1859 Henry Eeed
opened a drug store in New Corydon, which he still owns. The earliest
minister in "Wabash Township was Elder Robert Tisdale, a Baptist. He
continued to travel and preach until his death, at a good old age, at
Montpelier, in the autumn of 1856. In early times he carried a hatchet
with him, in the winter, with which, fastened to a pole by withes or
linden bark, he would sit on his horse and cut the ice before him,
sometimes making but three or four miles a day, camping out at night or
climbing a tree to avoid the wolves. He traveled extensively over
Indiana and sections of Ohio; was a strong advocate of temperance and
Sabbath Schools; noted for long sermons, and in late years forliis
liberal Christian sentiments.
Rev. F. Baldwin, Eev. J. W. Allen, Eev. Mr. Drury and Elder Chaffee
were, at different periods, the preachers for the Baptist church at New
Corydon, until 1854, when Rev. J. C. Skinner became its pastor, and
still holds that relation. In 1847, Rev. J. H. Babcock preached for the
Congregational church of New Corydon, but died the following year.
He was succeeded by Rev. Andrew Loose, who remained some over one year,
when Rev. James Boggs became the pastor of that church and the
Presbyterian church on the Limberlost, and continued until 1854, when
he moved to Clinton, Indiana, and afterward to Fairton, New Jersey,
where he still resides. Rev. Joseph H. Jones then became pastor of the
two churches, and still retains that position. He settled first in
Adams County, but, in 1863, moved to "Westchester, wliere he now
The many Methodist circuit preachers in New Corydon and other circuits
in the county, deserve honorable mention for their self-denying labors
in the dissemination of Christian principles, but their large number
prevents us from obtaining a complete sketch.
Among the most valuable of the Jay County pioneers was Theophilus
Wilson. He settled in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, in 1841,
where he bartered goods for the furs, skins, deer hams and everything
the surrounding forest produced. He settled on the Wabash in 1843, from
which time his identity with the physical, moral and political
interests of Jay was conspicuous. He was the proprietor of New Corydon,
its first merchant, post-master, and leading spirit in all reli
gious, temperance, educational and other enterprises, while he
remained. He was loved and respected by all who knew him, always relied
on as a citizen who was constantly looking to the best interests of the
community. Herepresented this county and Randolph in the State Senate
one term. His ceaseless activity, superior intelligence and large
generosity made his loss deeply felt by the people, especially those at
New Coryden, who knew him best.'when he moved to Avondale, near
Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1855, where he now resides, as deeply interested
in Jay as though he were yet a citizen.
Noble Township was organized in September, 1337. It was named in honor
of Noah Noble, Governor of Indiana from 1831 to 1837.
The first settlers were James Stone and Henderson Graves. The first
election was held at James Graves', who was elected the first Justice
.of the Peace. Here the name Limberlost finds its source. This singular
name was given this stream from the following circumstance: A man named
James Miller, while hunting along its banks, Became lost. After various
fruitless efforts to find his way home, in which he would always come
around to the place of starting, he determined he would go on a
straight course, and so, every few rods would blaze a tree. While doing
this he was found by his friends who were hunting him. Being an agile
man, he was known as " limber Jirn,n and, after this, the stream was
called " Limberlost." A curious phenomenon cati be seen in its waters.
Bubbles are constantly rising, which, on reaching the surface, burst
and leave an oily substance upon the water. Perhaps they are
ebullitions from a coal oil fountain. Among the many hunters who have
lived in this township, perhaps David Money is chief. He first settled
about half a mile from the Jay County line, in Ohio, October, 1830,
moving into Noble Township in May, 1839, his brother Alexander having
preceded him several years. Hunting has been his chief business during
life, and in this respect he has acquired considerable celebrity and
much skill. The first winter after settling in this county, he hunted
steadily for three weeks, killing from three to nine deer each day,
except two days, on each of which he killed two. During that fall and
winter he killed one hundred and twenty deer! He received, at one time,
one hundred dollars in Fort Wayne, for furs and skins. At one time he
was hunting with a companion who lost his gun-lock. Mr. Money sent him
back to hunt the lock, and take care of the deer they had already shot,
telling him that he (Money) would meet him at a certain place the next
day, at noon. At the appointed time they met, and, since their
separation, the old hunter had killed eleven deer and one fox! The next
winter he hunted three weeks, and killed sixty-seven deer. He took to
market at one time thirty-two deer, all having their skins on. There
were two sleigh loads of them. The first sleigh had a fine old buck
with high horns and many " points," standing erect at the front,
presenting a most novel and amusing spectacle. During his life he has
killed eighteen deer at nine shots, two at each time. Only a few years
ago he shot thirty-two consecutive times at deer, foxes, pheasants and
other game, without missing. His chief hunting ground, in later years,
has been Paulding County, Ohio, whither he goes once or twice a year,
camps in the woods, after the good old hunting .style, and hunts for
weeks at a time. In the fall of 1861 he killed eleven deer and one wolf
in that county.
A. Post-office was established in Noble Township, May 28th, 1851,
called Hector, and J. C. Brewington appointed Postmaster. For several
years Wilbur Morehous has held the office.
Near the "ninety mile tree,"—a tree on the state line, between Indiana
and Ohio, just ninety miles from the Ohio river,—Ebenezer Woodbridge
now of Lee County, Illinois, settled in 1838, bringing his family two
years after. Their cooking stove was the first in that part of the
county, and created much curiosity among the neighbors. He was an
earnest temperance man. When he wanted to raise his barn, out of many
persons invited, but few came the first day, and it was hinted to him
that it was because he would not furnish liquor. He indignantly mounted
a stump and made a regular " stump " speech to his neighbors, saying
that if his barn could not go up without whiskey, the logs might rot
upon the ground. The next day his barn was raised.
In 1861, Daniel Forner and Charles Joseph commenced the manufacture of
crockery ware at Mr. Forner's residence, in Noble Township. They are
still engaged in the business.
Wayne Township was organized in September, 1837. Most of the early
history of this township has already been given. The first election was
held on the third Saturday in September, 1837, Daniel Farber,
Inspector. The first settler was Philip Brown, who built the first
house (1832). The next was William Brockus, and the third James
Morrison. Then came Obadiah Winters, the Highlander family, and H. H.
Cuppy. The latter built the " Conner house" on the south side of the
Big Salimonie, now owned by Colonel Shanks, in the fall of 1833. That
house is celebrated as the one in which the first Commissioners' and
Circuit Courts were held.
In 1836 Cuppy brought some goods from Richmond and opened a store in
that house, which was the second one in the county. He also built the
first house in Portland, which was in 1837. It was a long, log
structure, and stood on the corner, since the Jay Inn. He moved his
store into that house. The next house in town was the court house,
built by .Robert Hue}r. The next year Lewis S. Farber built a house,
where D. L. Grow's tan-yard is now situated; and James Simmons built
one for D. "W. McNeal on the corner where Miller's building now stands.
The first farm house was built by Dr. D. Milligan, on the corner south
of Miller's building. The first regular tavern was kept by William
Ilaines, who built what is known as " Hickory Hall" for that
In 1839 Nathan B. Hawkins and William T. Shull opened the second store
in the place. The town was full of native trees then, and it is related
that hickory-nuts would often fall upon the log court house while court
was in session.
Dr. Jacob Bosworth niovdu from Massachusetts to Ohio in 1817. While
passing through Darke County he found Jesse Gray, who urged him to go
to Jay 'to look for land, which he did. He and his/amily arrived March
1st, 1836. He was the first physician in the county, and for many years
his practice was extensive. In the summer of 1837 he opened a Sabbath
School in the Wringer cabin at Liber, which had then been used for a
sugar-making house. It was the second school of that kind in the
county. Afterward it was moved to his house southeast of Liber, where
it was continued for nine years.
John Smith built the next house in Liber in 1836. It was on the farm so
long the home of Deacon Jonathan Lowe, now owned and occupied by
Jonathan K.. "Wells. Mr. Smith also built the " old log barn," still
standing, and now owned by Mrs. Mary S. Montgomery, which was the
subject of the following verses by R. S. Taylor, Esq.:
There's a charm for me yet in the old log barn,
So tottering, old and gray;.
Where wildly I loved, long years ago,
To romp on the new-made hay.
For the merry old times that I sported there,
The song that I sung in my play,
Have an image and echo within my breast
That never will fade awray.
There was gathered the fruit of the plenteous year,
In garner and spacious mow;
And the laborers' shout of " Harvest Home,"
Is floating round me now.
For the merry old tunes, &c.
And here is the olden-time threshing floor,
Where busily moved our feet;
To handle the hay, or the bearded sheaf,
' Or winnow the golden wheat.
For the merry old times, &c.
But now the old barn is forsaken and lone,
The best of its days it has seen;
Still, -when it has fallen and mouldered away,
Its memory -will be green.
For the merry old times, &c.
They were set to music also composed by Mr. Taylor, and after being
sung at an exhibition at Liber College, were published in the Minnehaha
In the Summer of 1845 Rev. Joseph H. Babcock came to Jay County,
residing first at Portland, where he organized a Presbyterian Church
November 29th, of nine members, consisting of J. H. Babcock, Eliza
Babcock, Jacob Bosworth, Nancy Bosworth, Josiah H. Topping, Hector
Topping, Amaretta Topping, Joseph C. Hawkins and Amanda Frazee. The
meeting was held in the Court Housa. In 1847 he moved to New Corydon,
preaching in Portland and in the old Limberlost Church. He died at New
Corydon, March 15th, 1848, universally lamented. He was a favorite with
all classes, adapting himself with ease to the society around him: a
fluent speaker, and possessing a complete education as a lawyer as well
as a minister, he was well calculated to be a leader in all the moral
movements of the time, and especially to lift the Banner of the Cross
in the heterogeneous society of a new country.
The temperance reform, the Sabbath School and the common school
received his active attention. He was a model preacher, a good citizen
and a true-hearted Christian man. No death in Jay County has been so
lamented by those who knew how to value such a man in the forming of
new communities. " Though dead he yet speaketh" to those who knew him
in his self-sacrificing labors in this county.
When the Commissioners organized Pike Township, in 1837, they gave it
that name at the suggestion of J. C. Hawkins. Most of its early history
has been given. The first settler was John J. Hawkins ; the next Thos.
J. Shaylor, and the third Sarah Riddley.
Jacob Sutton relates that one night, soon after he settled there, his
dog became much alarmed. He saw in front of the house some animal, and
shot at it while in the house. It proved to be a wolf, and the shot had
broken its back. The excited dog caught it and would not let go until
he had dragged it into the house, where it was killed.
The oldest settler, now living, in the west part of the township is
Henry Harford. The first election was held at Jacob Button's, and Henry
Welch, who lived on the farm now owned by John J. Adair, was elected
Justice. David Garringer has held that office the longest of any one in
the township. The first school house built was on John Kidder's farm,
and Miss Lucetta Kidder, now Mrs. Waldo, taught the first school,
commencing July 1st, 1840. The first tavern was kept by Abraham C.
Button, op his farm near Bluff Point. This village was surveyed in 1854
by W. H. Montgomery, for L. J. Bell and I. 1ST. Taylor. It was first
called Iowa. December 17th, 1840, the Post Office was established
there, and David Garringer appointed Postmaster. It was then called
Van, which name it retained un1853, when it was changed to Bluff Point.
Boundary City Post Office was established May llth, 1852, and Daniel
Heaster appointed Postmaster. He still retains that position, and has a
The village of Antioch was surveyed in 1853. Amos Hall, C. H. Clark and
David Frazee were the proprietors. Mr. Clark named it after Antioch
College. Peter Couldren kept the first store.
The first sermon ever preached in Jay County was by Rev. Robert Burns,
a Methodist, at the Hawkins cabin, in the fall of 1832. His text was, "
Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you
Jefferson Township was organized at the last meeting of the
Commissioners in 1837. The first election was held at the house of
Jacob H. Sanders, who was elected the first Justice, and John Nixon was
chosen Constable. Peter Dailey was Inspector of the election. J. H.
Sanders laid out New Mount Pleasant, and named it in honor of a Quaker
meeting-house in Ohio of a similar name. "Willli.'im Hite was the first
settler in the town, and kept the h'rst tavern. The grand jury found
forty-two indictments against him at one time for selling liquor, all
of which were sustained. It brought out the true manhood that was in
him. He abandoned the business, and became a sober, highly respected
citizen. John Bell built the second house in the village, and kept the
first store. The first school in the township was taught by an Irishman
named Thomas Athy, near the farm of William Finch, sen.
Jackson Township was organized in March, 1838. Prior to this it had
been attached to Bear Creek Township. The first settler was Edward
Buford. The first person who died in the township was Aaron Rigby, in
September, 1837, near the farm of Isaac Russell. There being no lumber,
the coffin was made of " puncheons," * by Joshua Bond. Gillum Post
Office was established January 8th, 1856, and George Fish appointed the
first Postmaster. In 1857 Abel Lester opened an establishment for the
manufacture of crockery ware. It was in operation only about two years.
Silas S. Pingry was Justice in this township for seventeen years. He
married two pairs of twin sisters out of the same family. The first
name of each of the husbands was John.
During a thaw in the winter of 1837-'8, Mr. James Snow, father of Dr.
B. B. Snow, then about sixty years old, who lived six miles northwest
of Portland, being out of tobacco, of which he was a passionate lover,
started to Camden on foot to procure some. Soon after leaving home the
weather began to turn colder; but though thinly clad, he was
sufficiently comfortable until his return, when it began to snow very
rapidly, making him quite wet and hiding the trace he was following,
except the blazes upon the trees. Soon the snow covered most of these,
and he discovered he had lost the track entirely, which he tried in
vain to regain. Finding that he was suffering from the cold despite all
his exercise, he endeavored to retrace his steps to Camden. This he
found very tedious work, and soon impossible, on account of the
darkness. He now became seriously alarmed for his safety; wandered
about, and cattealoudly for aii, but received no answer. By this time
he was discouraged and exhausted. He had waded across runs and through
slashes until his feet and lower extremities were very wet; his
clothing was freezing upon him, and he had eaten nothing since early in
the morning. He was forced to choose between an effort to save his life
by exercising all night or submit to his fate ! Being drowsy, he was
strongly inclined to the latter course. Finally, he sought a clear,
level place between two large trees, and there continued walking and
running from one to the other until morning. His family,- supposing he
was lost, procured the assistance of some neighbors, and went in search
of him, at daylight. About 9 o'clock in the forenoon they found him
crawling on his back track and badly frozen. He was a long time
Richland township was organized in May, 1838. It was named by Benjamin
Manor. The first election was held at William Kichardson's who lived
where Laban Hickman now does, on the second Saturday in June, the same
year, John Booth, Inspector. James Ewing was the first Justice. Matthew
A. Smith held this office for fourteen years. Half Way Post-office was
established September 19, 1853, and Samuel J. Current appointed
Postmaster. Half Way Creek was so named from being halfway between
Portland and Muncie, and, from tlrls stream, the Post-office received
its name. The village of Mount Vernon was laid out by W. II. Wade, and
surveyed by John C. Bailey. Michael Coons, who settled in the township
in 1837, has killed several bears .and over three hundred deer there.
The first settlers in the vicinity of Dunkirk were Isaiah Sutton and
William Shrack, who came in September, 1837. One day, while the men
were absent, Mrs. Sutton saw a deer, and, though she had never fired a
gun, she took careful aim and shot, killing the deer instantly.
James S. Wilson was the first Postmaster at that office, which was
established February 28th, 1856.
Green Township was organized in March, 1838. The first settler was T.
J. Shaylor, the next William Coffin. Samuel Kouth, William Bunch,
Greenbury Coffin and Henry Delong were also early settlers. The Kev. G.
C. Whiteman settled where he still lives, Oct. 22d, 1837. Mr. Kouth and
Christopher I. Timberlake were from Green County, Ohio, and named the
township after that county. The first election was at Delong's, the
first Monday in August, 1839.
Rev. Wade Posey, who was then on the Winchester Circuit of the
Methodist Church, preached the first sermon in the township at Mr.
Whiteman's. The first school was taught in the winter of 1845-6, in a
school-house situated near James Whaley's. The township had no post
office until May 22d, 1862. when one was established called Green, and
John Strieker appointed Postmaster.
Knox was the last township organized, which was in March, 1839. A. C.
Smith and Joseph Gaunt went to Portland to get the township organized.
After hunting some time they found the Commissioners in session out in
the woods, near the court house. The old township name of Salimonie had
not been given to any of the new townships, and Jacob Bosworth, who was
then one of the Commissioners, insisted that at least the last township
should have that name. But Mr. Gaunt wanted it named after Knox County,
Ohio, and succeeded.
John Brooks was the first settler. Brittan Beard, Joseph Gaunt, John
Gaunt, Adam Zeigler-j Abraham C. Smith and Joshua Bowers were among the
The first election was held at Gawnt's, on the first Monday in April,
1839, A. C. Smith, Inspector. There were just seven votes cast, and six
officers elected, as follows: Trustees, A. C. Smith, Michael Roland and
Joseph Gaunt; Justice, Michael Roland; Clerk, Cornelius Smith;
Constable. Adam Zeigler.
The first death in the township was that of Mrs. Jane Beard, wife of
Brittan Beard. She died in the fall of 1839, and was the first person
buried in the township cemetery. Cornelius Smith taught the first
school in the winter of 1838-'39.
The organization of Madison Township has been given. Henry Abel and
Benjamin Goldsmith were the proprietors of Lancaster. It was
surveyed by D. W. JVLoNeal. Salimonie Post Office was established in
1852, and G. W. Abel appointed Postmaster. He still retains that
position. Jordan Post Office was established in 18—, but it was then in
Randolph County. For a few years it has been on the Jay side of the
county line. The village of New Pittsburg, like Salem, is on both sides
of the line separating the two counties.
In the winter of 1835-'6 "William Martin opened a store near Abraham
Lotz', which was the first in the county.
One hindering difficulty in the development of the resources of the
county has been the rage for hunting which most of the early settlers
possessed. Instead of clearing a farm, only a small spot was generally
opened on which to raise a patch of corn, and the time principally
spent in hunting. It would have been much more profitably employed in
making wider aggressions upon the forests and thus adding new fields to
the farm. During the first stages of the emigrant's life this hunting
was an absolute necessity; but was often, from long habit and love of
the excitement of the hunt, continued after the necessity had passed
away. The liberal prices paid for skins by the fur traders also
encouraged the hunting, and the money thus distributed was for many
years the chief dependence of the pioneer families in making purchases
of merchandise and grain, and in paying taxes and doctor bills. Coffee,
tobacco, muslin, and, we are sorry to say, in some neighborhoods
whisky, were the staple articles of trade for the first few years. A
boy once called at Theo. Wilson's store, in New Corydon, with one
bushel of corn, half of which he left for tobacco, and the other half
took to the mill, remarking that it was the last grain they had. As
game became scarce in Jay and adjoining counties, hoop poles came to be
the chief exporting product. Jay County hoop pole teams have been seen
at Eaton and Camden in Preble County, Ohio, and that, too, before there
was a turnpike on any part of the road.
History of Jay County, Indiana By M. W. Montgomery