Waveland History, compiled by Karen Zach
Sources: A History of Waveland by Virginia Banta Sharpe;
History of Montgomery
County by HW Beckwith; Waveland History, 1835-1985; various
James Long and William Moore both entered land (in what
is now Brown Township) at Terre Haute, Indiana prior to
the land office being moved to Crawfordsville. This
was in the summer of 1822. They both built log cabins
in the fall and winter of that year, neither knowing the
other was so close in proximity. Long met Moore while
hunting cows in the wilderness by sunrise and hearing Moore's
axe in the distance. Moore conducted a tavern that
was popular with the weary traveller of the day. It
was often called, "The Half-Way House," due to
its location which was half-way between Terre Haute and
Lafayette. Other early settlers, many from Shelby
Co, Ky. were Emsley Loop, Jonathan Powers, Benjamin VanCleave,
John Kinder, Benjamin Galey, Josiah Galey,
Thomas Glenn, Ralph Canine, Benjamin Todd, John Brush and
Jeremiah Stillwell, all coming prior to 1830. Hiram
Heddleson entered the land where Waveland now stands.
John Milligan later purchased this land and is credited
with breaking up the forest and laying out the village
of Waveland, aided by surveyor Thomas Glenn. The first
town lot in Waveland was sold on Christmas Day, 1835. Milligan
built the first building. It is said he gave the town
its name in honor of his Kentucky plantation. James
Cunningham was the town's first doctor. Henry
Crawford had the first store, located on Green Street,
but it was short-lived. There was a popular town of
Fairview which gave Waveland a run for THE township's
town, as well as a small village named Deerford (Deer's
Mill), but at present, Browns Valley and Waveland are the
only two left. Waveland has had several additions to its
original town. The first addition was in 1840 -- developers
were T. Howard, M. Newal and J. Milligan. Mr. Milligan
added two other sections to the town. John Milligan
was the first postmaster. Dr. Gregg followed with
Edwin Milligan thereafter. Several postmasters have
served at various post offices since. The first hotel
was erected by Andrew Harris in the early years of the town.
Other prominent early businesses were the Waveland Wagons,
manufactured by HE Rhoads. Mills were run by Joel
Deer, William Canine, along with Thomas Armstrong, Thomas
Glenn, Caleb Conner, Thomas Talburt and Thomas Owens in
the nearby area. At the time the People's Guide
was published in 1874, 88 men ran their own businesses in
town. Education has always been a central concern
for all citizens and the Waveland Academy, a Presbyterian
based school, drew students for miles around. It dates
back to at least 1849, the first principal being Rev. L.
F. Leake. His successor was John M. Coyner and Henry
S. Kritz headed the school for many years. The Academy
continued until the 1877-78 school year. The public
school was held in one of the old Academy buildings for
many years thereafter. Big changes in the school system
were seen in the 1880's when there were 12 grade schools
and high schools at Browns Valley and Waveland. Those
students graduating from the grade schools had to take tests.
H.S. graduating classes usually had only 2-3 students.
It is interesting to note that the first Alumni Association
was organized 100 years ago this year, 1998. James
Boswell, a Waveland boy, built the school most of Wavelandites
remember, in 1912. Southmont High School incorporated all
the high schools in 1973. The gym, still attached
to the recently-built grade school was built in 1937.
Religion has also played a major role in Waveland.
Early church meetings were held in individual's homes.
Early ministers usually held down more than one job, being
a teacher or farmer, as well as preacher. Some early
preaching was done by travelling ministers. Rev. William
Smith is known to have preached in 1825 as a circuit rider.
John and Lucinda Milligan deeded land for the first building
to be erected by the Methodists. The Waveland Presbyterian
Church was organized on November 28, 1828 in the home of
John Stubbins but was actually loser to Browns Valley.
A church was built in 1831 and moved (1833) to where the
cemetery is today. The church built in 1861 was used
as a community building until recently and is still standing
in 1998. The Christian denomination is not as old
in this area. In 1861, about a mile and a half NE
of Waveland, the first church of this denomination called
the Antioch Church was formed. In 1867 it and the
Bank Springs Church of Parke County merged, forming the
Waveland Christian Church. The Baptist Church was
very prominent in the early days, the first known organized
group being the Union Baptist Church which held its first
meeting in Ralph Canine's residence Sept. 16, 1826.
In 1835, some of the Union Church members formed the Freedom
Church. The Old Baptist Church was a beautiful building,
located at 112 E. Main St. but was disbanded in 1923.
The old hotel building (corner of Howard and Cross Sts.)
was remodelled and used for a church for many years in the
1940's and 50's. There are three cemeteries
in town -- the one behind the community building (old Methodist
Church); the one at the end of W. Green St. and Maple Ridge
just at the north edge of town, across Highway 47.
Much of the early entertainment centered around church or
school functions -- quilting bees, spelling bees, box socials,
dancing/singing contests, funerals and weddings were among
the most popular. About the turn of the century (1900),
clubs became popular in the fair city of Waveland.
Some early ones were the Book Club, Current Events Club,
the Priscilla Club and Out-Doors Club. Also, fraternal
oganizations and lodges were popular. At one time,
the following were here: Masonic Lodge; Eastern Star;
IOOF; Ancient Order of Workmen; Knights of Pythias; Pythian
Sisters; Modern Woodmen and Rebekahs. Picnics were popular
summer outings. Travelling shows and silent movies
came into society about this time, and the men spent much
time at their Gun Club. Music was big not only at school
but several community bands
existed, as well. The Chautauqua was quite a social event
in the early part of this century. Many entertainments consisting
of lecturers, musicians, artists and performers made up
a group that travelled in a regular summer circuit (as well
as the hautauqua). William Jennings Bryan drew a huge
Waveland following in 1909. The Priscilla Club helped obtain
the first library in 1914, opening in 1915 with the "Little
Red Hen" being the first book issued to Floyd Sharpe,
Nella (Lamb) Huston being the first librarian.