Howard 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 457 - 460)
This is a north township of Parke county, in R. 6 W. of the 2d P. M., and 16 N. The east and south boundaries are each six miles in length. The northern boundary is three miles long. Fountain county lies on the north, Montgomery on the east; on the south are situated Greene and Washington townships. The western boundary is very irregular; along this lie Sugar Creek and Penn townships, the latter bounding only a spur, one and a half miles wide, projecting from the southwest of Howard township. On the west and south of Howard township is some farming land as fine as there is in Parke county. Along the Sugar creek, which flows southwest through the township, the surface is very broken for some distance away from its banks. The east and south of the township is divided into large farms, which are well improved. The hilly country contains, in lieu of good farms, rich deposits of mineral wealth, sandstone of several varieties, and limestone, all of which are well adapted for building purposes. The soap-stone beds are twenty feet in thickness, and situated between two strata of sandstone. From the outcroppings there is an abundance of coal in these hills, and iron ore in large quantities. These indications are more flattering on the farm of Urial C. Delp. There the iron ore is seen peering from the hillsides wherever you look and coal-beds twelve feet in thickness, of good quality.
Howard township up to 1855 formed a part of Sugar Creek township. Before this several petitions had been presented to the commissioners by the people on the west side of the township for a division as it now is, but they were refused acceptance. In 1855, through the energies and wisdom of Col. Casper Budd, then trustee of Sugar Creek township, these petitions were granted. The territory set off was organized into a township, and christened Howard by Col. Budd, in honor of Gen. Howard, then one of Parke county's most prominent men. The political history of this township to this time properly belongs to Sugar Creek township.
The earliest settlers in what is now Howard township were Henry Litsey, Samuel Snook and James Long. The first settled in 1822, on Sugar creek; the second located in 1822, on Sec. 31; the third on Sec. 17, near the county line, between Montgomery and Parke counties, perhaps at an earlier date than either of the others. Thus was begun the settlement of Howard township. In 1823 the stream of immigration began pouring into this county from Kentucky and North Carolina, rapidly swelling the number of settlers already here. In 1830 there was but little land to be entered. But little can be said of the earliest settlers and others prior to 1830, other than that they were a quiet, industrious people, living at home upon such as they could produce,, making their clothing from flax of their own raising, eating bread which they themselves had sown, reaped, ground and baked “in the shade of their own vine and fig tree" To this time they raised but little more than they consumed. If they had it would have been only adding surplus to surplus, that would supply them with none of life's comforts beyond what they had, because markets were too far away, and produce of too small a price to pay the cost of transportation. In 1830 Salmon Lusk bought and packed pork at the narrows of Sugar creek. This furnished the people with a little money for their surplus produce. At the same time and place Prior Wright opened a store, which supplied them with the necessities of life, so far as they were able to purchase. With the surplus of a ten-acre farm, when pork was only $1.25 per hundred, calico 35 cents per yard, salt $5 per barrel, they could buy but little.
The people who settled this township for the most part were a church-going people, who were raised to respect Christianity and moral teaching, and before they had been settlers of this wilderness any great length of time they began to think of meeting in religious worship. Their first meetings were held at private residences, till they erected suitable church-houses. The first building of this kind was of logs, called McKenzie's Chapel, built in 1833, on what is now the estate of William Bilbo, by the Methodist Episcopal brethren, the prime leaders-of which were William Smith and William Bilbo. The first minister who preached here was Samuel Cooper. The members of this society that are still living in this township now belong at Waveland or Poplar Ridge. The last church named is the second church constituted in the township. This was built about 1835, by the New Lights. The building was of logs, and was used for church purposes ten years, when they bought a church-house of the Missionary Baptists. The Methodist people, in 1850, erected a log building on Sec. 30. This becoming old, the two societies, New Lights and Methodists, agreed to occupy the same building, the one belonging to the New Lights. They moved the old Baptist building from across the line in Washington township, to its-present location, on Sec. 31, which, when refitted, made them a very comfortable house, which they still occupy. Both societies are in a flourishing condition, and support a live Sunday-school.
The first school-houses of this township were built about 1830. The number was three; one in the northern part, on Sec. 16; the second in the southern part, on Sec. 31, and the third in the southeast part of the township. These were rough log houses, fashioned after the usual style of the school-houses of this time, with a big fireplace, one or two windows, and poles on legs, with the tops flattened for seats. But 1830 is past, and all of her pioneer school-houses but the one built on Sec~ 16; this stands, a deserted, dilapidated structure, in the midst of six neat, comfortable and well furnished school-houses, now in the township to indicate the progress made. The 16th section, devoted to school purposes, was sold at a very early period in the settlement for a small sum. It was first leased to squatters.
The first settlers experienced much difficulty in procuring bread-stuffs. Prior to 1826 the nearest points at which they could obtain this article were Alamo and Roseville. In 1826 Salmon Lusk built a mill at the narrows of Sugar creek, in Sugar Creek township. The first mill in the township was built by Urial Clore; this he sold to Urial C. Delp in 1860, and bought it back in 1880. The second was built by Blumens White in 1853, and is now known as Scott's mill. The last is in good running order, and is recognized as one of the best water-mills along the creek. The mills mentioned, except the last, combine the two in one, a grist and saw mill.
Through the long period of nearly sixty years the health of Howard township has been good. No epidemics have been present, and the people have been almost equally fortunate in the way of accidents. The number killed by accident is three. The first killed was James P-Robinson. He failed to lock his wagon sufficient while going down a hill on his way to Rockville. He was thrown from the wagon, and his head, striking the hub of the wheel, was crashed. The second was a lad, William Montgomery, killed by the falling of a tree; the third was Richard Watson, crushed by a beam while driving a clover-huller into the barn at Jacob C. Banta's. Since the separation of this township from Sugar Creek township it has sustained a republican majority. Its present population is 553. The present officers are: John N. Mc-Campbell, Esq.; Barton Dooley, trustee.
If you have any information you would like to add, please send it to my attention. Thank you. James D. VanDerMark