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Florida Township, Parke County Indiana

"From the History of Vigo and Parke Counties, together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley, Gleaned from early authors, old maps and manuscripts, private and official correspondence, and other authentic, though for the most part, out-of-the-way sources. By H. W. Beckwith, of the Danville Bar; Corresponding Member of the Historical Societies of Wisconsin and Chicago. Chicago: H. H. Hill and N. Iddings, Publishers. 1880." (Pages 307 - 315)


Florida township is situated in the southwestern part of Parke county. It has Wabash and Adams townships for its northern boundary. Raccoon is situated upon the east, while Vigo county forms its southern and the Wabash river its western boundaries. It has an area of something like forty-eight square miles, and-a population, according to the census reports of 1880, of 1,944 souls. The assessed value of real estate for 1880 amounted to $689,364; the personal amounting to $175,662, It is watered by Big and Little Raccoon creeks, the former cutting the east line at the northeast corner of Sec, 36, B. 9, from, whence, running in & northwesterly direction it finds its way into the township bearing the name of the river, at the northwest corner of Sec. 4, R. 8. Little Raccoon, its tributary, enters the township east of the center of Sec. 12, R. 8 and flowing in a southwesterly direction empties into Big Raccoon west of the center of Sec. 23 in the same range. Along the banks of these streams and the Wabash river are the bottoms stretching back to a distance varying from a mile to a mile and a quarter, which are level and rich, and upon which same of the finest crops of wheat and corn are raised. Back of these valleys huge bluffs raise their rocky and yellow heads, but soon wear down to a level country, where reside some of the most prosperous citizens of Florida township. These flats thus formed by the raising of the bluffs are almost level and if the theory of some of the scientific gentlemen of the county be true, that the waters of the Wabash for back in antiquity some time filled the Raccoon Valley, this elevation must certainly have been an island. East of Rosedale is a flat, sandy section, reaching into Raccoon township and Vigo county, resembling in appearance prairie in some portions of Illinois, The northeastern part of the township is very broken, formed by the bluffs of Little Raccoon, but is farmed by energetic men, who are working it to good advantage,

Jesse B, Youmans is authority for the statement that the town received its name at its organization, in the fall of 1821, from David D, Loree, a prominent pioneer character, in honor of the township from which he came in New York, The writer cannot vouch for the troth of the statement; he is, however, under obligations to the above earned gentleman for many points in the township's early history.

The pioneers of this township were among the first to settle in the county and as such experienced to the fullest extent all the trials of frontier life, John M. Doty may be considered one of the sternest specimens of the pioneer.   His ax was among the first to be heard aid do effective work in the broad domains of Parke county.   He settled east of Rosedale, and here lived an active life until death claimed him, leaving a large family of children, who are among the most prominent citizens of Florida township.    The Henry family is another of those sturdy characters whose force and example have left an indelible stamp upon the surrounding country.   About 1816 they settled upon a tract of land southeast of Rosedale, which has ever since been known by all as Henry's prairie.    Mr. Henry had four sons: John, William, Moses, and Isaac.    William died in the township about 1848; Moses was killed while on his way to New Orleans with a fiat-boat loaded with pork, accompanied by his brother William.    The forks of the creek were settled by John Adams and James and Moses Barnes, emigrants from Kentucky.   John Adams lived in the township until his death, leaving a large family of children, among which are some of the most prominent men of Florida,   James Barnes also died at his home in the township, while his brother Moses moved to Iowa.   Wm. Evans came about 1810 and settled in the same neighborhood, where he died many years after.

One of the first settlers in the county was Joseph Walker, who located in 1816 m the bluff in the southwestern part of the town. This was afterward, by common consent, termed Walkers bluff, and became known as such by every one in this and adjoining counties. He first preempted a quarter-section, being the farm now owned by A. B. Modesitt and Nicholas Kispert, where he built a log cabin 16x18, and set out the first orchard ever planted in the township. Here be lived a number of years. He erected the first brick house in the town. Mr. Kispert now owns that portion of the farm upon which it stood and is living in the house.   Chauncey Rose settled in the township in 1819, which marks the time of the building of the Raccoon mills, on the creek where Roseville was afterward built,   Mr. Rose came to Parke county a very poor man and entered land here which he controlled until he purchased the land where Terre Haute is situated, This purchase was a very successful one, although Mr. Bose was only buying it on account of its location for a form, and was as ignorant of his future success in selling corner lots as the meekest citizen of Florida.   Mr. Bobbins and Mr., Brooks were also early settlers at Roseville, and were enterprising gentlemen, having started quite a trading point at this place.   In 1820 William Smith erected a log cabin about three-quarters of a mile southwest of Rosedale, on Henry's prairie, where he lived until near 1885, when he erected a double log cabin where Rosedale is now situated, and where he lived many years, and died.   His son Isaac died here in 1879.   The advent of James Smith, generally called “major," into this section was also in 1820, and is recognized as the first settler on the bluff north of Jude Walker's.   He finished a cabin, 18x20, on the place now owned by Samuel Holmes, and became the owner of near a section of laid. In the spring of 1820 David D. Loree made this place his home,   Mr. Loree came from New York, having started from there on a flat-boat, accompanied by his brother's wife and her daughter Minerva, now Mrs. Brown, who is the oldest settler in the township.   Capt Daniel Stringham, an old soldier of the revolution, and Mr., Jonathan Rockwell also settled on Yankee street near the same time.   John and Sylvester Sibley were also early settlers on the road.   Zebina Hovey was noted as the pioneer carpenter.   He was soon followed by Hector Smith.   The writer thinks the first blacksmith shop was built on Mr. Walker's land, about a quarter of a mile south of the brick house, in 1828, by a Mr. Drure, who ran it in connection with his farm.   Joseph Cahil was a man zealous for the advancement of Christian affairs.   Prominent among the early settlers were also David Hix, Samuel House, John Crabb, Seba H. Case, Peter Pence, Zachariah Fenton, Abraham Laney and his two sons, Daniel and Joseph, the Rukes, John Steward, the Boatmans, Benjamin Bailey, George Baugh, James Laney,  the Kilburns, John Cottrell, James Burson, Cephas Fisher.   Most of these were here before 1830 and can very properly be called pioneers,



As in most cases the Methodist church came hand in hand with the first signs of advancing civilization, and did the first religious work in the comity. The first Methodist preaching in the township was held at the houses of the different settlers. Rev. Wm. Mac, a local minister, did the first Methodist work in the town, holding the first meeting in David D Loree's house.   In 1834 Isaac Owens came as the pioneer missionary minister, preaching his first sermon in the house of Capt Daniel Stringham a revolutionary soldier.   At the first meeting at Mr., Stringham'a Elisha Silbey now living in Terre Haute was the first of eleven persons to join the church.   Aaron Wood was the first circuit minister.   At this time the meetings were held in Mr., Loree’s barn and carriage-house.   The place of worship was then changed to a schoolhouse in the northwest corner of the town and to a schoolhouse on the northwest corner of Benjamin Newton's land.   Both congregations finally united and moved to the church.   The first church in township was built by the Methodists.   In the spring of 1850 Friend C. Brown deeded an acre of ground in Sec. 7 to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal church of Florida for the purpose of erecting a church upon it   Mr. Reed was foremost in the idea of building a place of worship having canvassed the neighborhood in connection with Lewis Silcotte for subscriptions in the spring of 1850, and a frame house 30x40 feet was finished in the fall of 1851, dedicated by Aaron Wood, his brother Moses being the first regular minister.   At this time there was a membership of fifty.   The first trustees were Lewis | Silcotte, Samuel May, Isaac Lewis, Friend C. Brown, and William Gookins, while the first stewards were Rector Smith and Daniel Fisher. A Sunday-school consisting of eighty members was also held. The church was named Mt. Pleasant.   This building was used until the summer of 1872, when it wm superseded by n new one upon the same foundation It cost $1,600 The building was finished in the fall and dedicated by Aaron Wood, Thomas Meredith was minister in charge, but was soon succeeded by Walace Barnard. Daniel S. Morrison is present pastor; Z. Strobe is superintendent of the Sunday school. Around the church in a well arranged cemetery, are sleeping some of the many hard working members of the of the church and their children, Margaret A, Silcotte was the first to be laid in this beautiful place,

In the northeastern part of the town, built by the same society, is a handsome church, situated at the foot of the bluff around which, on the side of the hill, is a cemetery of perfect beauty, Rev. J. B. DeMott is pastor in charge of a large membership,

About 1830 Elijah Ward and Mr. Fruit held meetings in the houses of the settlers, and afterward in an old log schoolhouse and still later in a storehouse which stood near the house now occupied by Cain’s store^ and finally in Roseville, in September 1859, Wm, Black preaching the first sermon at the last named place. In 1860 a frame building 30 X 50 feet wm erected at an expense of $1,200. The dedication sermon was preached by Wm. Black. Catharine Dailey is the only one of the first members of the church living. Forty of the members, in the fall of 1870, under the guidance of Rev. Theodore Marshall, commenced holding meetings in the Dailey school-house, and effected an organization This organization is still kept up; Rev. Nathan Wright is pastor. Another part of the Roseville congregation organized a church at the Cox school-house in the summer of 1869, having a membership of from forty to fifty persons, under the direction of Rev Jonathan G. Ward; There are now near eighty persons members of this organization. Hezekiah Williams is the regular minister. Another part of the Roseville order formed an organization in the Doty schoolhouse. In 1878 a building was erected, 30x45 feet, on lots 26 and 29 in Mary Doty's addition to Rosedale. The seating capacity is estimated to accommodate 400 persons. Ezekiel Wright preached the dedication sermon the third Sunday in April, 1874, to a crowded house.

In 1834 Isaac Denman preached the first Baptist sermon in the town, at Elliot Adams' house, when there were but eight members of the Baptist church in the neighborhood In 1839 a school-house was built in the forks of the creek, about sixty feet north of where the school-house in district No. 1 now stands, by subscription, for both school and church purposes Here two years afterward the first Baptist church was constituted, under the supervision of Jacob Kirkendall its first regular minister Meetings were held at this place until the church was completed. In 1853 a house 40 X 50 feet, costing $800, was erected. In 1859 there was a division in the church; the Missionary Baptist Society was organized. In 1863 they erected a well arranged, church about half a mile southeast of the old building, where they now have a large and active membership.

A nicely finished church was built in 1870 at Rosedale by the Methodists, Baptists and United Brethren, and intended to be a union church, to be used equally by the three denominations; but owing to various circumstances it has now passed into the hands of a private individual.



Roseville, the first village in the county, received its name from Chauncey Rose, its first settler, who entered the land upon which it stands in 1819, and soon commenced-the erection of a gristmill on the bank of Raccoon creek, which was known as Raccoon mills. A sawmill was soon finished a short distance above the grist-mill. He also erected a cabin or two for himself and hands, being the first dwellings in what is now Roseville. The mill soon grew to be one of great promise, receiving the patronage of the settlers in a district the radius of which was about twenty-five miles. The mill in the course of a few years became inadequate to supply the demands made for flour. This led to the completion of the present one, now owned by Daniel Kiblar. The first store in the place was owned and ran by Moses Robbins; whish was completed and stocked about the same time as the mill. At first the Indians were his best patrons, and were used to designate Mr. Bobbins as "old Mohawk," which was gracefully accepted by him. They brought him large quantities of furs in exchange for coffee, tobacco, “mad water," etc.” Uncle Moses " made it a point to keep in stock every article the Indians and settlers were wont to use or desire. He was eminently successful for many years, but finally died here a poor man. Judge Wedding was owner of the second store in the place, and ran it with apparent success till he moved to Terre Haute, In 1820 a tan yard was established a quarter of a mile southeast of the mills. It proved a failure financially, and was abandoned after two years. A distillery was also built at the foot of the bluff, which manufactured whisky for twenty-five cents per gallon and shipped it to New Orleans on flat-boats. Another was situated about half a mile south of the one above mentioned, and was known as the McCamic still-house. In 1825 Bobbins and Wedding were extensively engaged in packing pork and shipping it to New Orleans on flat-boats, A gentleman by the name of McDonald was the first regular physician to be located in the place. In this village the first session of court was held in the county. The first grand jury sat here, and here the first indictment was found, while the first case was tried in the county at this point. The case which created the most interest while court was in session here was of a criminal nature. John Grim, for stealing some furs from the Indians, was sentenced to the penitentiary for one year. Roseville was a lively place between 1825 and 1835, being the county seat and the principal trading point in a radius of many miles. It began its decline soon after.

Numa, situated on Sec. 26, R. 9, was first settled by John Wilson, he having entered the land and laid a part of his farm out in town lots in 1837, The lots were advertised in 1838, and quite a number sold at prices ranging from $12 to $15. Nearly every person in the neighborhood purchased one of these lots. Mr., Wilson erected the first frame building in the village, being a hotel. The stage which carried passengers along this road from Terre Haute to Lafayette stopped here to change horses and replenish the inner man. For want of patronage the jolly landlord was compelled to take down his sign, "Entertainment for man aid beast." and open a store in the same building. In 1840 Mr. Gleason erected a large frame building in the southern portion of the town, which was used as a hotel and store. Gleason finally sold to Silas Bowers, and from this time on it became a notorious place. During the building of the canal quite a business was earned on at this point, but at its completion everything lost its activity.

Clinton Lock received its name from the fact that the locks of the Wabash & Erie canal were situated at this place, and also from its situation just across the river from Clinton,   In June, 1880; it was named Hudmut, in honor of Hudmut & Co., an enterprising firm of Terre Haute, doing business in the city.   It is situated on Sec. 14, E. 9, and on a switch of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois railroad,    John Crabb entered the land upon which the village is situated, and in 1833 sold it to his son, W, G. Crabb, now proprietor of the Monitor mills, of Clinton.   In 1830 John Crabb erected an 18x32 double hewed log house near the dwelling now occupied by J. W, Lake.   May 18, 1850, the warehouse was built by W. G. Crabb.   This was situated on the bank of the canal and was originally 40 X 80, two stories high.   It was used with profit while the canal was in operation, but as soon as it quit its work business, as far m shipping grain was concerned, almost ceased. The building in 1862 was sold to Youmans & Smith, who finally sold to John Lowery;   A, & J. M. Lyons finished a store building in 1851, located about fifty feet north of the warehouse, where they put in a stock of goods amounting to about $7,000, and did business until 1853, at which date they sold to Mr. Crabb, who again purchased a fine stock of merchandise, and in connection with Isaac Tallman earned on a splendid trade for some time.   At the closing of the canal, in 1865, every-thing seemed to die.   The institution that infused life into it, and made it what it was, was withdrawn and left it but little better than it found it.   This state of affairs continued until the fell of 1873, when a switch from the then Evansville, Terre Haute & Chicago railroad was run up to the warehouse and coal mines owned by Asa Fitch.   He soon put in a force of sixty hands and shipped from this place fifteen car loads of coal per day.   The mine is now owned by Alexander & Canon, of Danville.   One year later a coal mine was opened half a mile north of town by McLaren  & Hutchinson, who immediately built a private switch to their mine and put in a force of sixty men and carried on their mining interest with as good success as the one above mentioned. In 1875 the railroad company purchased these switches and recognized Clinton Lock as a station.   The same year a store was opened, in the building originally built for that business, by Neff & Morey.   In February, 1877, Lake & Co. became the proprietors.   It then passed into Mr. Bowen's hands.   Lake & Morey then operated it until July 1879. when J. W, Lake became sole proprietor. In 1878 the ware-house was purchased by Hudmut & Co., who are now doing am immense business. It has lately been furnished with valuable machinery, and they are now engaged in making hominy and meal, using 1,500 bushels of corn per day. "In July, 1879, Jesse Clatter commenced building a stave factory south of the store, and completed it in August; The main building is 75x80 feet, with a stave-shed 26x312 feet and a saw-shed 24x36 feet, having a capacity for making from 16,000 to 17,000 staves per day. Nearly all the work is done by machinery. Prior to July, 1880 the staves were shipped to Terre Haute: they now have a cooper-shop in connection with the factory, where a sufficient force will be employed to supply Hudmut & Co, and the surrounding mills with barrels. A. C. Watson is the general superintendent, having had full charge since November 5, 1879, and has now under his control a force of twenty-five hands. West of this village the first terry was ran from Florida township to Clinton. It was owned by David Patton, and was a simple flat-boat pushed across the river by the use of poles, the tare being 37 ½ cents per team. John Beard was second manager, selling to Randolph Wedding, who rented it to Samuel House, who was operating it when the Indians were removed farther west.

Rosedale received its name, from the railroad company, after Chauncey Rose, of Terre Haute. The advent of the Terre Haute & Logansport railroad was the commencement of the village. It is situated in the southeastern portion of the township, and was laid out by Ephraim Doty; The first house on the land where the town stands was built by William Smith in 1835. It was a large hewed log house, 20x40, The entire community assisted in raising it, occupying two days of their time. This is still standing, and occupied by Jerry Beal.  Since its erection it has been moved about 150 yards south of the lot upon which it originally stood. Nothing of importance occurred here until the railroad was finished, in the fall of 1860, when a store was put in operation, followed by various shops and stores—a warehouse, mill, drug store, hotel and school-house—until it now has a population of about 100, and has the reputation of being a good business point. Frank Bell was the first postmaster in the village, and received his commission January 8, 1862. This office he held until his death in September 1877, when Charles S. Hamersley was appointed and held the office until his resignation in favor of David L. Baldridge, who received his commission February 7, 1878. The first post-office was kept in the building now occupied by William Jacobs, but after many changes it finally found its way into the drug store on Main street 

" Jessup" situated in the northeastern part of the township, received its name from Mr. Jessup an old resident of the neighborhood and who at the completion of the “pumpkin vine railroad” moved near it where Jessup now is. Pleasant Hawkins and Monroe Barns virtually named the place by shipping from Terra Haute a barrel of salt marked Jessup. The railroad was just completed and the conductor and his brakeman searched the list of towns in a vain endeavor to find the place, when they finally concluded to put it off at this point and risk it There are now at this place a few houses, a blacksmith and wagon maker's shop, a saw-mill, a post-office, a small store, and an elevator.

 If you have any information you would like to add, please send it to my attention.  Thank you.  James D. VanDerMark