When the county was originally formed, the Commissioners erected three townships, Washington, Franklin and Montgomery. Townships were added from time to time, the boundaries were changed and modified at various times and finally fixed as they are today in September of 1861. The county has had four boundaries and the townships have been changed or modified 24 times for a total of 28 different configurations. Thus a historian or genealogist must consider these changes if an early census or tax document is being used.

Please use these links to proceed directly to the township or town of your choice:

Clay Franklin Harrison Jackson Jefferson Jennings
Lafayette Marion Morgan Montgomery Taylor Washington
Wayne Freedom
Coal City

Clay Township

Clay Township was created in March of 1825 from Franklin Township, and named after the Kentucky statesman Henry Clay. The first brick residences were built in 1822 by John and Thomas C. Franklin on land that is now where the County Home is located. These are thought to be the earliest brick homes in the county. One of the earliest frame houses was built by Reuben Coffey and was considered quite an aristocratic mansion by the neighbors, all of whom were content to live in small round log cabins.

The first frame building was the old Bethel Baptist Church, constructed of lumber manufactured principally by the old fashioned and laborious whipsaw process.

The first orchards were planted by John Franklin and James Butler. The latter were bearing fruit as early as 1824.

About 1828, Christopher Ooley built a grist mill on Big Raccoon near the southwest corner of the township. The mill house was constructed of round logs, and the machinery received its power from the waters of the creek. In 1829 Ooley erected a distillery which was operated in connection with the mill.

The first sawmills were built by William Baker and David Thacker as early as 1831. Other early sawmills were owned by Nathan Livingston, James Green, Albert and James Dyer, all of which stood by creeks and were operated by water power.

The early roads were mere traces or byways cut out through the woods to accommodate the greatest number of people living in the community. No attention was paid to sectional or other lines, and as a consequence the township was cut up by a large number of roads running in all directions. A few roads connecting larger communities were surveyed and established. However, none were improved.

The first religious services were conducted by ministers of the Methodist Church at the residence of Thomas C. Franklin. This congregation eventually built a church named Asbury Chapel. The Disciples or Christians held services at an early time at the residence of Henry Pirtle. The Baptists also established a church at an early time on Big Racoon Creek, the meetings being held at the residence of Elijah Coffey.

While the Clay never developed a town, the crossroads village of Whitehall did at various times have a hotel, blacksmith shop and a couple of stores. In 1890 Dr. O. F. Gray was the druggist.

Franklin Township

Franklin Township was one of the original three created by the Commissioners March 4, 1819, and presumably named after Benjamin Franklin. At that time the Township was 24 miles wide, taking all of T.9N R. 3 though 6, to the Vigo County line. Clay County had not been created. On February 12, 1821, the western half was taken to create the first Morgan Township. In March 1825 the eastern half of the remaining Township was taken to create Clay Township, fixing the boundary of Franklin to that in effect today.

Due the broken and stony land, and the thin soil, Franklin does have not a prime agricultural land, although coal is found and several mines were opened. The land was often transversed by hunters and speculators from the South, and by traders who crossed the country in order to traffic with the Indians, who in pre settlement days, were scattered over the greater part of what is now Owen County. Various Indian trails were the highways over which they traveled. Wild animals were found abundantly in all portions of the country, especially along the streams where almost impenetrable thickets abounded and where the animals sought refuge when pursued by the hunters. Old settlers stated that bears were numerously found in all that region bordering on the White River, and that such region was a favorite hunting ground of several Indian tribes. The country was constantly invaded by hunters and trappers for a number of years prior to the permanent settlement, and before long the bears had nearly all been killed or driven away and even the deer had become shy.

It cannot be determined which persons were the first settlers as none moved to their purchases until about ten years after the entries were made. Mr. Hugh M. Light, the oldest living settler (1884) is of the opinion that John and William Latta were the first permanent residents, as they had improvements on their claims as early as the summer of 1818. Joseph Freeland was probably the next permanent settler, coming from Maryland early in 1818, and locating near Freedom. After about ten years, he returned to Maryland, but he returned to Owen County and lived here until his death in 1838. He was a man of education and refinement and one of the pioneer preachers of the county.

About this same time Captain John Johnson came and established a trading point for the purpose of trafficking with the Indians. He also carried on an extensive shipping business, shipping grain and produce by flat boat to New Orleans. In 1838 he was a party to a lawsuit against Henry Newsom, an African American resident of the county, in a matter of speculation in grain. The lawsuit ended in a wash, each side owing the other $99.00 plus court fees.

A number of other persons engaged in shipping corn and pork to Louisville and New Orleans. The first mill was constructed by Christopher Ooley who moved it here from Greene County, Indiana. It was operated by a tread wheel, oxen supplying the power.

In the beginning there were no roads. A wagon could scarcely move a rod without running against a tree or log, which had to be chopped out of the way. All roads were made this way. They were found to be running to all points of the compass, and if you should strike onto one with which you were not familiar, you could not be certain where it would lead you until you reached the end of it which might be a long way off in the woods and nobody there. Then all you could do was to turn around and take another road; that is, you would determine the direction you wanted to go, and then on that course blaze the trees that were in the line or near it on the course. After blazing out a route, the next thing necessary was to cut out the underbrush and cut off and roll out the logs that were too large to run over.

The schools of Franklin Township were commenced on the primitive order of things. In each neighborhood, where a dozen or so children lived, a school was soon started. If no house could be found, a cabin was hastily erected, and fitted with puncheon seats and floor, paper windows, and a large fireplace. A man who had sufficient muscle to wield an ox "gad" so as to keep discipline and who could read, write and cipher a little; would be employed to teach for so much per scholar and board. During the first twenty years, the schools were supported by subscription, and were in session for three months.

Harrison Township

Harrison Township was created in January 1837 from lands taken from the northern portion of Wayne Township. In March of the same year a small portion of the southwestern part was returned to Wayne where it remained until June of 1858 when it was restored during a change in the Wayne/Montgomery lines. It presumbly named after William Henry Harrison. The area in which Harrison Township lies was in unorganized lands until it was attached to Owen County on December 31, 1821. However, even though the area was not part of any county, lands were opened up for entry as early as 1816 and the first entry was in 1817, by speculators, not by permanent residents. John Mannon and Henry Hancock, Kentuckians, appear to have been the first settlers. Samuel Wheeler; Andrew, William and Jesse Evans; and Benjamin Arnold came about the same time, 1823. In 1825, came Capius Edwards, and his son William, as well as McKinney, and James Bolden, John H. Holmes, Josiah Buchannan and William Asher, all were Kentuckians as were the majority the first settlers of Harrison Township.

The first brick house was built by Jesse Evans as early as 1825. Many orchards were set out by these early settlers.

A grain mill was established by William Asher at Cave Springs in 1828, and it was powered by water from the spring issuing from the cave. It was later sold to a Mr. Rickett who added a boiler. Various owners operated the mill until 1867 when it was abandoned. A second mill was erected about 1830 by Valores Butterfield and was used until 1878.

The little hamlet of Middletown at one time in the early history of the township was a prominent local point, on account of a flouring mill, and a small store kept by Andrew Evans. A blacksmith and wheelwright shop were kept by William P. Chambers.

Jackson Township

Jackson Township was created in January of 1834 from the northern part of Morgan Township. It gave up its five eastern most sections to Jennings Township in September 1846. It presumably named after Andrew Jackson.

The first settlers included Oliver Cromwell, William Fry and Joseph Cochran who moved onto their claims in 1825. Cromwell was a man of some note in the early history of the country, acting as the adviser of the neighborhood, and was consulted upon all questions of a legal nature by the early settlers. Samuel Beaman and his nephew, Levi Beaman came as early as 1829 as did George, Jacob and Able Hicks, relatives of the Beamans. Among other Montgomery County, North Carolina families migrating were James, Henry and William Haltom joining their relatives and friends.

An early settler, Valentine Croy, a native of Ohio, who came to Jackson Township in 1836, when he erected a flouring mill which he operated until his death in 1854. The majority of the early pioneers were North Carolinians and in very moderate circumstances. Actuated by the desire to secure homes, they made the long journey in small one horse carts, the father and mother walking the entire distance.

Surplus wheat and corn raised by the early settlers were wagoned to Terre Haute but some hauled their grain to Lawrenceburg on the Ohio River where it sold for a better price.

Valentine Croy erected his flouring mill in 1838, on the south fork of Mill Creek. The building was a log structure set upon posts, covered with clapboards and furnished with good machinery, operated by a "breast wheel." It was patronized by farmers in Owen, Clay, and Putnam counties, some coming forty miles often remaining a week or more before their turn came. The original mill operated until 1852 when a new four story frame building was constructed. Grinding capacity was 200 bushels of wheat per day. Croy also operated a saw mill in conjunction with the flour mill.

Jefferson Township

Jefferson Township was created in May 1828 from lands which were originally in Franklin Township and later in the first Morgan Township. Its boundary did not change until September of 1836 when Grayson (now Marion) Township was established. It was named after Thomas Jefferson.

The first settlement within the boundary was made about 1820 in the southwest corner by immigrants from North Carolina. For the most part they were young hardworking people with but few possessions. A few articles of household furniture, a cow, a couple of pigs and perhaps a horse, together with rude farming implements and wagon, would form the total of taxable personal property. The wages of a stout boy were 12 cents per day, a hired hand in the summer, 50 cents per day, the same as the price of a pound of coffee. "Hired girls" were not a class. In case of illness, some young woman would leave home for a few days to care for the afflicted household, but her services were not rendered for the pay she received. The discharge of the duty, to care for the sick, was the motive. The accepted life of a woman was to marry, bear and rear children, and prepare the household food, spin, weave and make the garments for the family. One of the early pioneers noted that the floor of the cabin was so uneven that she placed wedges under her table to keep it steady, and when the rain fell, the water which came down the chimney formed a pool in the hearth, and she bailed the water out with a skillet.

During the first years the settlers obtained all their marketing from New Albany, more than one hundred miles distant. Two or three persons would generally do the hauling for the entire neighborhood, and take such produce as the country produced, i.e., venison, hams, feathers, beeswax and later wheat and pork. In return for these articles, the traders would receive sugar, coffee, calico and a few other groceries. Most of the wearing apparel was manufactured at home, and consisted of jeans, linsey-woolsey and linen. Some of the settlers wore clothing made of deer skins, and manufactured their own shoes from deer and hog skins, tanned in large troughs.

The first mill was erected by Adam Fiscus as early as 1824 and was near the village of Middletown. A small log structure, operated by horse power, was in use about 15 years. A water mill was operated by Isaac Hubbell in the southwest corner of the township and was used only for grinding corn. Much of this corn was made into whisky resulting in many distilleries where liquor could be obtained for 15 cents per gallon, the price of a bushel of corn. John Fulke brought a distillery from North Carolina, and set it up in the western part of the township, where it operated for about twenty years

Jennings Township

Jennings Township was created in September 1846 from a portion of Montgomery Township and the five easternmost sections of Jackson Township. The boundary has had slight modifications of its boundaries with both Jackson and Morgan Townships. The present boundary dates from September 1861. It was named in honor of Governor Jonathan Jennings by his relative Theodore Jennings who purchased 1,000 acres there in 1841.

The first permanent settler appears to be Isaac Teel who located near the lower falls of Eel River where he erected a small mill as early as 1820. Pioneers came in rather slowly, as the broken condition of the country afforded but few inducements to the settlers; and prior to 1833 there were but six or seven families living within the present limits of the township. The mill was a small log building, situated on the side of the cliff with but a single buhr and was operated by hand. A mill was built by T. C. Jennings at the upper falls sometime before 1850.The mill building was a frame structure, containing three run of buhrs and a saw and for many years did a good business. It eventually was sold and passed through many hands and today (1884) is one of the best flouring mills in the county.

Two early roads were the Spencer & Poland road, which crossed the township from northwest to southeast and the road from Cataract to Bowling Green.

The oldest religious organization is the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church organized about 1839. The Cataract Baptist Church was organized in 1876.

The village of Cataract dates from 1851. The Jennings mill and carding factory as well as several mercantile operations gave the place considerable importance and induced many persons to secure jobs and settle in the village. The name of the village was due to the waterfalls on Mill Creek.

The natural beauty of the Cataract Falls area attraced developers who built resort facilities for vacationers from Indianapolis. In 1883 John Steiner and David Wallace bought much of the falls land and built a hotel and a half mile race tractk which drew thousands of spectators from all over the country. Agnes Stucky operated a resort there from 1916 until 1967. Agnes Stucky donated land that is now the Cataract Falls Recreation Area.

La Fayette Township

Lafayette Township was created in January of 1840 on lands taken from Morgan, Jefferson and Franklin Townships, it was named for General La Fayette. This remaking of the boundaries removed the panhandles from Jefferson and Franklin making all three he boundaries square or rectangular.

The area, when the settlers arrived, was covered by a dense forest. The pioneers who first sought homes here were not adventurers, but plain, matter of fact men, who were attracted to the new country by the advantages it offered in the way of cheap lands, which could be obtained at that time for the Government price of $2.00 per acre. To make a home in the woods was an undertaking attended with difficulties and hardships of which we can form but a faint conception. The absence of roads, mills, etc., and the long distances to be traveled to the nearest market, together with general poverty of the settlements, and the immense amount of hard labor and drudgery required in order to obtain a livelihood during the first few years, were obstacles well calculated to shake the determination of the most energetic and brave hearted of the pioneers.

The earliest settlements appear to have been made near the central part, not far from the village of Vandalia, as early as 1828. Among the early pioneers were the Franklins, Shadrach, Thomas and John, who settled about three miles southwest of Vandalia. The Fulks, Jonas and James, came about 1830 as did Jacob Hahn.

Jacob Hicks settled not far from Vandalia the village which he and Joseph Cocheran were the promoters. Hicks was a member of one of the large migration of families from Montgomery County, N.C. and illustrates the manner in which the county was settled. Some of his brothers and their families came as did those of his wife, Anna Beaman. Eighteen different surnames were in the migration over a ten-year period.

By 1884, Vandalia had general store, blacksmith shop, jewler, physician, school house, hotel and three churches. Today, Only only a church and the school building remain, the chuch, built in 1895 has been restored to its original condition.

Henry Fulk erected a small water mill on Fish Creek about 1846 which operated about ten years being abandoned when a flood washed out the dam.

Marion Township

Marion Township was established in September of 1836 from lands taken from Jefferson and Morgan Townships, straightening the latter's lines creating a panhandle in Jefferson.

It was named after General Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of the Revolutionary War but was originally named Grayson, presumably due to the influence of the Phipps, Long and Tolliver families who had roots in Grayson Co., VA. Since there were difficulties between the Grayson Co., VA families and their neighbors, when their influence had waned, the name was changed.

Marion was the last of the townships to be settled as it was not until about 1830 that the first pioneers began to make their appearance. Among the settlers of 1832 were Soloman Landreth and Wendell Crouse; and a little later came Gilliam and Willis Reynolds. By 1836, living in the township, were Thomas Gilbert, John Lewis, Stewart Coats, Isom Tolliver, Joseph Phipps, Clayborne Harris, Benjamin Bass, Philbert Wright and John Fiscus. Harris and Bass were African-Americans who had purchased government lands. Harris was noted for his enormous physical strength and boasted that he had Indian, African, and Anglo-Saxon blood in his veins.

The township was also home of a gang of outlaws, who for years made this part of the county a kind of rendezvous. These banditti, prior to the arrival of John Hulet, defeated all efforts to secure order. Hulet, the Justice of the Peace, discharged his duties in such a manner as to incur the ill will of this band and they made several unsuccessful attempts on this life. Hulet, with the assistance of other persons, took the law into their hands, and in time ridded the country of the last blackleg.

In 1884 there was a community of Mennonites in the southern part of the township with a substantial church building.

It is only dimly remembered that for twenty years or more there was a considerable population of African-American farmers who owned most of sections 27 and 28. They began purchasing government land in the early 1830's and had, for the most part, sold the lands and had left by the middle 1850's. Among these were Farrow Powell and Benjamin Bass who moved to St Joseph County, Indiana. Clayborn and Hardin Harris who went to Cass County, Michigan, the Russells who went to Vigo County, Indiana and the Chandlers family.

Montgomery Township

Montgomery Township was one of the three originals created March 4, 1819 and contained the entire north half of the county. It underwent many boundary changes until September 1861 when the final change was made. It was presumably named after Major General Richard Montgomery an American Revolutionary officer who captured Montreal and was killed leading the assault on Quebec (Dec. 31, 1775).

The township was one of the earliest settled and in the early decade was perhaps had the greatest population. John Hudson was the first settler. He purchased government land in October 1816 and moved his family here in the spring of 1818. Lloyd Cummings came about the same time. Hugh Barns, a pioneer lay Methodist preacher turned his attention to the medical profession, and achieved some notoriety as a "steam doctor." Ninian Steele, William Milligan, Wm. McDonald and Hugh Devore were among the settlers of 1819.

Dear, wild turkeys, and squirrels were almost as common to the first settlers as the leaves under their feet, while bears were plentiful along the water-courses, and gray wolves, catamounts and wild hogs swarmed the woods in vast numbers. Meat was the staple food, without which it would have been almost impossible for the settlers to live at all, as it required several years to clear and prepare the ground for cultivation. About 1820, David Fain grew the first wheat crop realizing about sixteen bushels from two acres. Almost the entire crop was used for seed by him and his few neighbors. An early employment for the younger members of the community was the digging of ginseng, for which there was an extensive demand. When dried the root sold for twenty-five cents per pound.

The first frame house was built by John Hudson in 1825, the first brick house in the same year by James Steele. Both houses were small but looked upon as mansions. As in the other townships a distillery was one of the first industries started. Henry Devore built one as early as 1828 as was another built by Thomas Bull for the making of apple and peach brandy. Newton Fain and Jesse Steele operated a small tannery as early as 1830. They had seven vats and made a fair article of leather, tanning dear, cattle and hog hides.

The Bethany Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest congregations in the county having been founded March 20, 1820. The first schools were held in little cabins about 1825, one near the old Bethany Church. The first teacher, Andrew Sinex. The other school was in the Payne settlement, the first teacher being Isaac Westfall. A few years later, frame buildings replaced the crude log buildings.

Morgan Township

The original boundary was created February 1821 and comprised the entire southwest corner of the county and was presumably named in honor of General Daniel Morgan the victor at the Battle of Cowpens (Jan. 17, 1781). In 1825 it was drastically changed and moved to the northeast, with only six of the original ninety-six sections remaining in the original boundary. In 1837 when La Fayette Township was created, the twelve lower sections were removed and attached to the new township.

Morgan Township was not settled as early as some of the townships. Samuel Beaman, and his sons, James, Samuel and Alvin came from North Carolina about the year 1824 with Reuben Jordan whose wife was a cousin of the Beamans. Oliver Cromwell also settled in the Northwest corner of the township and was one of the first pioneers in the northern part of the county.

Two brothers, Moses and John Carter, who were allied with the Beamans in Montgomery Co., N.C. came in 1829. The trip of 700 miles was made in wagons and it took seven weeks. Upon arriving at their destination, they found no house so they improvised a camp of their wagons in which the families lived until a house could be built. With the help of a few neighbors, a cabin of split poplar logs was hastily erected. A partition through the middle of the room divided it into two apartments, each of which was occupied by a family.

The pioneers survived mostly on meat from the game which abounded in the country. Nearly every article of clothing worn by either male or female was manufactured at home by the women on the old-fashioned spinning wheels, cards and looms. The men dressed in homespun jeans and buckskin, out of which were made pantaloons, hunting shirts, moccasins and occasionally dresses for the women. Shoes were made from leather tanned at home. Boots were seldom worn, except by professional men, and no better evidence could be adduced of a man being a preacher, doctor or lawyer than his appearing in public with boots on.

The earliest mill used by the pioneers was the little water mill on Jordan Creek in Jackson Township erected by Oliver Cromwell about 1824. Some of the settlers made their own flour and meal with the old-fashioned mortar, while others used a common grater made of tin which worked as long as the corn was not too dry.

The opportunities for obtaining an education in the early times were scarce and books were limited. A school was organized about 1835 and was in a little pole cabin. It had previously been used as a home by a squatter. After he had abandoned the building, the neighbors fitted it up as a schoolhouse. They furnished it with a few rough puncheon benches and built a large fire place in one end of the room.

The earliest religious services were conducted by the Christian and Baptist Churches.The Regular Baptists held thier first service soon after the first settlements were made. The Missionary Baptist church, commonly known as Carolina was organized about 1845. Its cemetery contains the remains of many of the early settlers of the township

Jordan Village was first located about one half mile from its present site, the coming of the railroad gradually caused the village to move to its present location.

Taylor Township

Taylor Township was created in December 1846 being carved out of Montgomery and Jennings Townships and presumably named after Zachary Taylor who was the field commander during the contemporary Mexican War.

The first permanent resident was Andrew Evans who entered land there as early as 1817, although he did not move there until about 1819.

Improvements during the first years of the townships history were very slow owing to the natural obstacles that had to be overcome. When a family arrived and it was understood that they wanted a house, the settlers assembled. Some cut logs and built the walls, while others split boards for the roof, others hewed puncheons for a floor and others built a chimney. This kind of a house was in common use for a number of years.

John Dunkin planted the first orchard with seed which he gathered up at a cider mill in New York.

The first mill was constructed by Daniel Hartsock and operated by horse power. John Mugg built a distillery at an early day, when this trade was respectable, buying up all the surplus corn in the neighborhood and shipping whisky down the Eel River on flatboats. Mr. Mugg, an elder in the church, engaged in the business with a clear conscience and made a superior product.

The Salem Methodist Episcopal dates its history from about 1826, the Quincy Methodist Episcopal Church from 1854, and the Baptist Church of Quincy about 1858. The Christian Chapel Church was organized in 1873.

Quincy and various other small villages in the township owed their existence to the Monon Railroad as they provided goods and services to the road and its employees. The village of Mill Grove had a cancer sanitarium owned by Dr. Gray and his son, Dr. Clyde Gray. This substantial building was in use from about 1910 to 1928.

Washington Township

Washington Township was one of the three original townships created March 4, 1819 and contained the middle third of the county. It underwent several boundary changes until July 1829 when the final change was made and, of course, was named in honor of George Washington.

Tradition states that Philip Hart was the first settler of Washington Township, arriving in 1816 and building a log house near where Boston Scientific is located. His wife Susan and seven children accompanied him as did James Biggar who married one of the daughters. Next came John Dunn and his wife Margaret, a midwife, with their family of six children, arriving February 5, 1817, crossing the White River on the ice. The next month Levi, Enoch and Neely Beem and their families arrived and during the year many other families made their appearance. Among them was Isaiah Cooper who operated the ferry across the White River at Spencer.

At first food consisted of the meat of the bear, deer, wild turkey, game with which the forest abounded. Jerked venison was at first used as bread. It was made by cooking slices of venison quickly over a hot fire. The White River swarmed with fish which were easily taken; tea was made of spicewood and sassafras.

Buckskin leggings were worn as protection against rattlesnakes and copperheads which were very numerous and seemed to wriggle from under every log and brush heap. The copperhead was the most dreaded since it gave no warning as did the rattlesnake. When bitten the settler applied a quid of chewed tobacco to the wound. Pens were built to protect stock against the wild animals, for bear, panthers, wild cats and wolves were abundant.

The township was covered by a dense timber growth principally of beech, oak, ash, sugar maple, walnut and poplar.

The first bridges across small streams were constructed of two poles with a floor of poles laid upon these. No bridge was built across the White River until 1872. Prior to this bridge a ferry was used as they were in other parts of the county to cross the White River.

The hills of Washington Township are full of fine building stone, and several quarries produced and shipped large quantities of building stone, rubble stone and manufactured lime.

Wayne Township

Wayne was created in November 1822 from lands originally in Montgomery Township and Monroe County. It was named after General Anthony Wayne. This creation of Wayne Township occured eleven months after the area had been attached to Owen.

The first recorded settlement was made in the spring of 1818 by Ephriam Goss. When the family arrived, they lived in a very primitive pole cabin without widows or floor. During the first spring ten acres of ground were cleared and planted in corn, but so late was the seed put into the soil that the grain did not mature well and the crop was used for fodder. Goss later laid out the town of Gosport which flourished for many years. In 1819, Col. Robert Wooden arrived from Kentucky and became Col. of the militia, sheriff, and member of the Indiana State Legislature. Unfortunately, he died while in his 30's.

The township, being in the "New Purchase" and recently available for immigration was promptly gained settlers. Among them were Jeremiah Mathes, a wheelwright who used his skills in making chairs and other furniture for the area. He also operated a blacksmith shop, and was considered the handy man of the community. In 1830, he sold out and moved to Morgan County, his son J. M. Mathes was identified with the religious and educational history of Owen County. He also was a publisher and writer and missionary to the area for the Christian Church.

Prior to 1821, the price required by the Government for its land was two dollars per acre, one fourth of which was paid at the time of purchase, and the remainder in three annual installments, a liberal discount being allowed the purchaser if the whole was paid in advance. This arrangement was found to cause great difficulties, as purchases were frequently made by persons who did not have the means to pay. Persons who could only pay the first installment spent their entire capital making the one fourth down, hoping a rapid increase in the value of land would allow them to sell a portion and thus make payment of the other three fourths. Unfortunately, these hopes were, in many cases, not to come true and a large number found their lands subject to forfeiture for non payment. Money was scarce; the country was new, without banks, and with little or no commerce; and the purchase of needed goods constituted a drain of the little money available. As a consequence, a period of depression ensued which was widespread, and some of the early pioneers of Wayne were in grave difficultly. The Government, thinking it unwise to drive the settlers off of their lands, allowed the debtors to surrender a portion of the land and keep the rest without an obligation. Upon granting relief to land purchasers, the credit system was abolished and the lands were afterward sold at so much per acre, payable in cash. Thus, many of the first citizens of Wayne Township were able to save their homesteads and ward off bankruptcy.

In early pioneer days the nearest marketplace was Louisville, about one hundred miles distant. A trip there and return took about twenty days, so one person was generally selected to do the marketing for the entire neighborhood. The lack of money limited the amount of groceries and dry goods that could be purchased so the few that were obtained were paid for by exchange for articles that could be produced locally: coon and deer skins, wild honey and venison. Later, Bloomington became the nearest source of supplies. The settler's kitchenware consisted of a few pewter dishes, plates and spoons, but mostly of wooden bowls and cups; if these were scarce, gourds and hard shelled squashes would do. The iron pots and knives which were sufficient for the diet available were brought with them. "Hog and hominy" was the standard diet, while jonny cake and cornpone were the only breads available for many years. Every family, besides a small garden for the few herbs and special vegetables which they cultivated, had another small inclosure about one half acres in size, which they called a truck patch where corn for roasting, pumpkins, beans, squash and potatoes were grown.

For many years each family tanned its own leather, the tan vat a large trough sunk into the upper edge in the ground. The leather produced was coarse, but basically useful.


Coal City

Coal City, the only town in the township was laid out in 1875 to take advantage of the newly completed tracks of the Cincinnati & Terre Haute Railroad, although its origins can be traced to 1852 when the village of Stockton when David Bush laid out 16 lots. James Hyatt, by building the town's first brick factory and kiln, saw mill and stave factory caused the town to grow. Later he sank a large coal mine and employed 80 or 90 men. Coal was the main product shipped from Coal City.


Since the site of Gosport had been used as a shipping point for flat boats going down the White River, and there was a need for a trading point in the area, Ephraim Goss and Abner Alexander purchased the site, laid out lots and had it recorded in June 1829. The little village languished for many years until in the mid 1830's when its natural advantages as a trading and manufacturing site were strong enough to cause substantial growth. In addition to being the trading center for a large portion of the surrounding area, a thriving industry was conducted in buying and shipping cattle, hogs, grain and lumber to New Orleans and other cities on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. In 1850, Joseph Goss and Dr. Hussey engaged in the pork business on a large scale and erected a large pork packing house. The company slaughtered as many as 33,000 hogs annually, and was the largest establishment of its kind in southern Indiana. This was in the days before railroads, and the White River served as means of transportation, the principal marketplace being New Orleans. The advent of the railroad in 1855 caused the decline in flatboat shipping on the White River and allowed competitors, which had not had access to the river but who now had access to the railroad, to become established.

The large amount of packing, flatboat building, and shipping resulted in a number of mechanics and others who could provide services to immigrate to Gosport: blacksmiths, coopers, carpenters, printers, physicians, etc.


The village of Freedom dates from November 18, 1834 and JosephFreeland was the developer. The place had developed a reputation as a shipping point for flatboats. Just after the Civil War, Freedom had two blacksmiths, four carpenters, one cabinet maker, two physicians, three stores, two steam sawmills and one tan yard, two hotels and a population of 125. Due to the arrival of the I & V Railroad, Freedom grew and by 1890 had a population of 350and had added insurance agents, a lawyer, shoemaker and milliner. Newspapers came on both themorning and evening trains, and about 1900 the telephone made its appearance, the village now being completely connected to the outside world. When highway 67 was imporved to Freedom, making access to Spencer convenient the village lost many of the tradesmen and professionals.


The town of Patricksburg was founded in 1851 by Patrick Sullivan who originally named it Lancaster. When application was made to locate a post office there, the name was rejected as it already was in use. He renamed the town using his first name, Patrick.

In the early days of Patricksburg it was probably the largest town in the county and was the trading area for the surrounding county which had several coal mines. After the Civil War many industries were located in Patricksburg, a sawmill, cooper shop, wagon factories, shoemakers, blacksmiths etc. Wagon makers were Robert McAllister, Hamilton Moffett, Christian Weber, Lewis Norman, Frederick Dietz and George Kaiser. Of course this industry brought many workers and with them stores and professionals to serve them. By 1890, a large flouring operation and the coal mines were doing good business as were the other manufacturers. In 1926 a fire destroyed the business section, 18 business were destroyed, a fire from which it never fully recovered.

The Salem Methodist Episcopal Church, dates its history from about 1826, the Quincy Methodist Episcopal Church from 1854 and the Baptist Church of Quincy about 1858. The Christian Chapel Church was organized in 1873.


In 1820 the town of Spencer (named after Captain Spier Spencer who also was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe) was laid out and the first auction of lots took place. A temporary log courthouse was built which was replaced in 1825 with a permanent brick courthouse which stood until it was replaced in 1910. John B. Allison was the first merchant arriving in the first years of the town. He died in about 1827. Some of his stock of merchandise contained such articles as silk handkerchiefs and wall paper which seem hardly usable on the new frontier. The Allison family continued in the merchandise business for more than one hundred years. One member of this family, James M. H. Allison, in addition to having an interest in the family store engaged in shipping produce on flatboats to New Orleans, the only market for the surplus products of this part of the country. He also manufactured linseed oil, the flax seed crushed by two large, circular stones about ten inches thick and four or five feet in diameter, propelled by a tread wheel. A carding machine was located on the second floor and powered by the same tread wheel.

Among the first carpenters of Spencer were Montgomery Leonard, Finley B. Johnson, Henry Devore, Anthony Foster and Junia Lathrop. James Bircham was the first blacksmith. Early physicians were Amasa Joslin, John Sedwick and Benjamin Allison.

Philip Hedges established the first hotel in a log cabin built in 1822. It was marked by a sign of General Andrew Jackson on horseback and in full uniform. Reuben Fullen kept a tavern near the Hedges hotel, his sign depicting the "Indian Queen." Both signs were painted in bold, glaring colors, that of Hedges considered the more elegant due to the dashing appearance of "Old Hickory." Other early tavern and inn keepers were: John Johnson, John Dunn, Isaac Westfall and George Moore. At that time the Commissioners set the prices taverns and inns could charge. In 1819 the price mandated for French Brandy half pint fifty cents, wine per quart one dollar seventy five cents, half pint of whisky twenty five cents; and for one warm meal twelve and one half cents and lodging the same.

The first mail came to Spencer about 1821, the first postmasters being Philip Hedges, Jacob Harsh and James M. H. Allison. The first mail carrier was Bledsoe Hardin who brought the mail about every two weeks.

The first schools in Spencer were held in the log courthouse and in a log church. The first teachers were James Galletly and Isaac Heaton. Galletly, a Scotsman began about 1821 and Heaton, a New Englander, started a school in 1825. In 1835 a seminary was built, and any teacher who could secure students by subscription could use the building. The building was soon sold, as the contractor had not been paid, and was used as a residence. It later was owned by the town and again used as a school until 1872 when a new two story yellow brick school was built.

Spencer was incorporated in 1866, the population about 600, the condition of the town just a quiet, plodding village with little enterprise or public spirit. The buildings were old fashioned, and the greater number of business houses were dilapidated frame buildings. Then the coming of the Indianapolis and Vincennes Railroad, which was completed in Spencer in 1868, transformed the town. The population increased rapidly, and soon spread beyond the original bounds. Not long after, the buildings on the north, south and west sides of the square were destroyed by fire and were replaced by more substantial structures.

The town always had businesses that were able to exploit the natural resources of the area and after the coming of the railroad manufacturing increased. Among the manufacturers were the Spencer Mill Co. (flour), Spencer Ice House, Spencer Pork House, a planing mill, saw mill, stave factory, barrel hoop, woolen mills, and a bedstead factory.