Reserve 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 168 - 177)
This division of Parke county obtained its name on account of having formed part of the Indian reserve, which consisted of a strip of territory on the Wabash river, seven miles in width, extending from the mouth of Sugar creek to the mouth of Big Raccoon. It comprises twenty-two full and five fractional sections, and formerly contained a large portion of what is now Penn township. Its western boundary being the Wabash river, it early attracted the attention of those pioneers in search of new homes in the west, the river guaranteeing them a market for their produce. The other boundaries are, on the north, Liberty township; east, Penn township, and south. Wabash township. Reserve contains the largest farms in the county, and comprises a splendid body of arable land, the whole of its territory being well suited for agriculture, with the exception of the breaks on the north adjoining Sugar creek. The western part consists of a nearly level strip of country extending north and south the whole length of the township, and eastward from the river two miles, where it terminates in a bluff covered with valuable timber. The eastern half is more rolling and broken, yet has some of the best wheat lands in the county. The river bottom lands are extensive and exceedingly rich, producing in favorable seasons enormous crops of corn. Sugar creek flows across the northern part of the township and empties into the Wabash, while Leatherwood creek crosses the southeastern corner.
Ohio, which furnished quite a number of the early settlers in this part of the state, was well prepared to supply pioneers to subdue another wilderness, having been settled amid all the hardships of border life and the alarms of savage warfare, and it was only those inured to perils and hardships who first pressed into the wilds of Indiana. North Carolina also furnished a number of the pioneers of this part of the county, the most of whom were members of the Society of Friends, whose moral training and practical Christianity have made their mark on the characters of the people. The early settlements here were not opposed or harassed by the Indians, they being strongly impressed with the strength and perseverance of the palefaces by past experience.
Among the first settlers to arrive in the township were the Linebergers, in 1822, the next being John Beard, who erected the first mill on Sugar creek in the same year, the Browns, Mellekins, and Jorias Horgar, immigrating about the same time. In the southeastern part, in 1825, came Puett and Charles Burton; in 1826 Solomon Allen arrived, the other early settlers being Warren Davis. Daniel Wickersham, the Morris family, Isiah Pemberton, Peyton Wilson, Abraham Halliday, Jeremiah Siler and others. Another settlement was that at Montezuma, those in the van being Whitlock, Majors, Joseph Hayes, Webster and Feeney, who arrived about 1823 or 1824. William and Thomas Cook, James and Samuel Hill, Aquilla Justus, John Shook and Chatsworth, also arrived at an early date. The rill of immigration soon swelled into a river, which poured a strong and steady current of population into the heart of the forest, which had long stood undisturbed in its sylvan magnificence, but was now doomed to disappear before the leveling axe of industry.
Among the industries we find that, after farming, the milling interest was the next to attract attention ; the first to erect a mill in the township being John Beard, whose corn-cracker was put in operation in 1822, shortly after his arrival. It was situated on Sugar creek, at what is now known as West Union. The mill was a log structure, and the grinding arrangement consisted of a pair of nigger-head burrs, which if sharp, or newly dressed, would grind about three bushels per hour. When the settlers wanted flour they had to journey to Roseville, where the nearest flouring-mill was situated. In 1826 Salmon Lusk erected a mill at the Narrows, and in 1827 Simon Rubottom built one on Leatherwood creek, and in the same year another mill was put up near Armiesburg, Solomon Allen assisting in its construction; so that after that date the pioneers in this township did not have very far to travel with their grists. The implements used by the early settlers were of rude construction, and the following description of the advancement made will be of interest. The first in importance was of course the chopping axe, it being indispensable in a country like this, and was used for numerous purposes,— felling trees, clearing ground, building cabins, etc.,— and was, like the pioneer himself, designed for use, not ornament.
The Carey plow, the one most in use here, was rudely constructed, having a wrought-iron share and wooden mold-board. This was succeeded, about 1839, by a cast plow manufactured by W. G. Coffin at his foundry, two and a half miles northwest of Bloomingdale. This implement was, however, so clumsy and heavy that it never became a favorite, and was soon driven from the field by the Peacock plow, which had a cast mold-board and wrought-iron share. This, manufactured at Cincinnati, excelled all its predecessors, and was the first to be honored with a coat of paint. About five years later the Richmond steel plow appeared, and about the same time the left-hand plow came into use. With the later improvements all are familiar.
The fields of the first settlers were not very extensive, and consequently their crops were not large. In fact, during the first few years they had no incentive to raise more than they could consume, as there was no market for surplus products. The flail was the implement first in use to thresh the grain with, but was not so popular a method as that of tramping it out with horses, which was adopted later. The grain and chaff were separated with the wind, or by a sheet in the hands of two persons. The first threshing-machine arrived in Reserve about 1839 or 1840. This was owned by Elsberry Jinnett, and was a very incomplete affair, threshing from fifty to one hundred bushels per day, and delivering the grain and chaff together, to be afterward separated with a fan. The necessary motion was given by a two-horse tread power. The four-horse Ground Hog machine, as it was called, supplanted the other in a few years, and though it was an improvement on it yet it was a rude affair in comparison with those now in use.
The mowing scythe, hand rake and wooden pitchfork were the implements of hay harvest, the latter being often a forked sapling with the prongs sharpened. The grain scoop was not known for several years after the first settling of this county, and in cribbing corn it was either thrown with the hands or pushed out of the end of the wagon with the foot. The first one in the township was made of wood, and was owned by John Fortner. Iron scoops came into general use about 1838.
On account of this being reserve land it was not put upon the market as early as other parts of the county, and here game of all kinds remained some time after they had been driven from the other settlements. The black bear could be found here occasionally after the arrival of the settlers; in fact, in 1827 Solomon Allen killed one in his door-yard. Deer were in large droves, and furnished the pioneers with their principal article of food, while their skins were used for a variety of purposes. Wild turkeys were formerly very abundant, though but few are now seen, while ducks and geese, which formerly frequented this country in countless numbers, are now greatly reduced, the marshes and ponds, their former resorts, having been drained out. The raccoon, opossum, fox, mink, otter, wolf, muskrat, weasel and other fur animals were formerly very numerous, but now few of them remain.
Flat-boating was largely carried on from this part of the county, those vessels being the only conveyance then in use to transport the produce to market, and the building and manning of them gave employment to a number of hands. A boat-yard was situated near the mouth of Hush creek at an early date, and on several points on Sugar creek other building yards were located, full information regarding which will be given in the history of Penn township.
In 1824 was taught the first school in the township. This was in the north, in what was known as the Lineberger settlement. At this time there was no school-house, so the sessions were held in the house of Jorias Horgar, his son being the teacher. About a year later the first school-house was erected in this settlement, the teacher being B. Raymond, who was followed by Phillips. The first school in the southern settlement was taught by James Siler, in a vacant cabin near the residence of Solomon Allen, who boarded the teacher for thirty-seven and a half cents per week.
The first birth in this settlement was that of Joseph Allen, in 1827, and the first death that of Solomon Allen's infant child, about a year later. The first wedding was that of Jeremiah Morris to Mary Ann Lewis. The arrival of Mr. Allen in this neighborhood was quite an acquisition, he being a wheelwright and cabinet maker, and also made all the coffins required in the neighborhood, those articles ranging in price from twenty-five cents to three dollars, according to size. After paying for his land on reaching this settlement, he had 87 1/2cents left to begin the world with. On getting his cabin built he immediately seasoned lumber, from which he constructed tubs, buckets and other articles of domestic use, the proceeds from the sale of which enabled him to live until he got a few acres cleared, and was enabled to raise a crop. The second season of his residence here he spent seventy-two days assisting his neighbors in log rolling, and raising cabins and barns.
In the north of the township is a Methodist meeting-house, the congregation at which was organized shortly after the settlement of the county; Mr. H. Smith, one of the early preachers of this denomination being the organizer, and Stephen Cooper his successor in charge of the congregation. In 1832 a hewed log house was built, which served them until 1847, when another house was- erected. In 1868 the present church house, 32x54 feet, known as Lineberger chapel, was built at a cost of $2,200. The congregation-is now in charge of Rev. Mr. McLain.
A Baptist church, known as Reserve church, in the same neighborhood, was instituted at an early date, and is still occupied by a-congregation of that body, Rev. Joe Skeeters being the minister.
In the southeast part of the township is situated the church house of the Rocky Run Society of Friends, which met first about 1830, in a little log school house. A request was made from here to; Bloomfield (now Bloomingdale) monthly meeting, 10th month, 23d,. 1833, for a preparative meeting at this point, and the grant was; issued from White Lick quarterly meeting, 3d month, 5th, 1834. ] The committee appointed to take charge of the request being Isaac Suggart, Joshua Newlin, John Newlin, Stephen Kersey, and William Morrison. In view of the establishment of this meeting a committee was appointed 12th month, llth, 1833, to assist Rocky Run Friends to settle upon a boundary line between them and Bloomfield. They finally agreed upon the state road from Rockville to Newport, those living south to belong to Rocky Run, those north; to Bloomfield. This line, • however, was not then, nor is it now, strictly adhered to, owing to personal preference in a few cases.
This town is situated in the southwest corner of Reserve township, on the Wabash river, and was early a place of considerable importance, it being the principal shipping point in this part of the county during the early years of the settlements, when the Wabash was the great commercial highway of this western country. About 1823 or 1824, the town was laid off by Whitlock and Majors, and the first store opened by Joseph M. Hayes; next was Nesmith, whose stock consisted of two bolts of calico and a barrel of whisky. Feeney's store was next; the building which he occupied still is standing in town. Mr. Chatsworth was the first justice of the peace, and the first physician was Dr. Samuel Hill, who arrived at an early date. The first frame house, which is still in existence, was built by a man named Webster.
The river towns at that time consisted of Montezuma, Covington, Portland, Attica, Williamsport, LaGrange and Lafayette, and a spirited race ensued between them for the first place on the river and emporium of the upper Wabash. As river towns they all possessed equal advantages, natural and commercial, and it was hard to decide for some years which would eventually be successful. Keel-boats and pirogues touched at all those towns, and the same pioneer steamboats did the carrying trade of each. Among the best known of those vessels were the Victory, Paul Pry, Daniel Boone, William Tell, Facility, Fairy Queen, Fidelity, Science, Republican, and others. Eventually Lafayette obtained and kept the first position, and Montezuma struggled along in the rear. On the completion of the Wabash and Erie canal, in 1850, the town took a fresh start, and from that date to 1860 was the most prosperous period it ever experienced. Business of all kinds was transacted here for all this part of the country, and the business men of the town look back with longing eyes to that glorious period of its existence. On the closing of the water highway business gradually languished and fell away until 1873, when the Indianapolis, Decatur & Springfield railroad was constructed through the township, and a station opened at this point, the company also building their repair shops here. Since that date the town has been steadily growing, and bids fair to attain to a position far ahead of its former prosperous one.
The business interests now here represented are a large flouring-mill, four grain warehouses, two saw-mills, one planing-mill, a packing and slaughter house, two dry-goods stores, six grocery stores, two drug stores, one clothing store, one hotel, three boarding houses, one livery stable, agricultural implement store, and two saloons. The town is divided into five wards, and its affairs are managed by a board of trustees, of which Mr. Stephenson is clerk. The present population of the town is about 700, and that of the township 1,550. The value of real estate of Montezuma corporation is $123,060; of the township, $456,466; that of personal property in Montezuma. $105,075. and of the township $123,095. The railroad repair shops, which gave employment to quite a number of hands, were destroyed by fire in August 1880 and at present writing have not been rebuilt.
The religious wants of the people are supplied by three churches, Presbyterian, Methodist and Roman Catholic, each of which have handsome church buildings.
The Presbyterian church was erected in 1853, the first minister being Rev. John Hawks, who organized the congregation and instigated the erection of the meeting-house. He was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Griffith, who was followed by Rev. William Wilmer. The Rev. Mr. Stinson, from Kentucky, is now pastor. The congregation now numbers thirty-six members, with G. Wilson and John X. Ireland as elders.
The Methodist congregation was organized shortly after the settlement of the town. The church building was erected in 1849, through the energy and ministerial labors of Rev. Hezekiah Smith. who visited this neighborhood at that time, and infused fresh life into the society, which now numbers seventy members, with the Rev. Mr. McLain in charge.
The Roman Catholic church, known as the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is of more recent date than the other two religious organizations in town. The first priest in charge of the mission here was Father McCarty. There are at present eighteen families in communion with this church, who are now under the care of Father Kintrup, who took charge of the mission in April last. The church-house, which is 25x45 feet, was erected at a cost of $1,000, the lot having been donated by Mr. Davis, of Rockville, a short time since. A dwelling for the priest was erected at the west end of the church. A cemetery belonging to the members of this denomination is located two miles south of town.
Montezuma Lodge, No. 89, A. F. and A. M., was chartered May 28, 1861, its first officers and charter members being: W.M., R. M. Gilkeson; S.W., Firman Allen; J. W., Jacob Myers; treasurer. George Kretz; secretary, Thomas Griffith; S.D., David Phillips; J.D., William Mclntosh. At present the lodge numbers forty members, and is in good working order and splendid financial condition. It meets on Wednesday night before the full moon, and every two weeks thereafter, on the corner of Washington and Crawford streets. The officers for 1880 are: W.M., William N. Akins; S.W., F. S. Bipus; J.W., W. C. Raynes; treasurer, C. F. Shute; secretary, William McMasters;' S.D., S. P. Sylvester; J.D., William Mclntosh.
Reserve Lodge, No. 102, I.O.O.F., was instituted November 10, 1851, the charter members being Samuel A. Fisher, John W. Wade, James Jacobs, George H. Ribble, Samuel D. Hill and George W. Thompson. Of the above mentioned members only James Jacobs now retains a membership in the lodge. The following are the first officers: N.G., James Jacobs; Y.G., Samuel D. Hill; secretary, George W. Thompson ; treasurer, George EL Kibble. The lodge, which now has a membership of thirty-four members, meets every Tuesday evening in the hall over E. G. Wilson's store, on Washington street, and though small, is enterprising, and in splendid condition, having a widow and orphan fund amounting to si, 100. The officers elected for the year beginning July 1, 1880, are: X.G., John Horn ; Y.G., William X. Ireland : secretary, William McMasters; treasurer, John X. Ireland.
Montezuma Lodge, Xo. 37, A.O.IT.W., was organized October 1879, with seventeen members, the first officers being: P.M.W., 0. J. Craig; M.W., W. K. Akins; foreman, Sharon Case; overseer, Winfield Walmsley ; recorder, C. F. Christie : financial recorder, William F. Hughes; receiver, G. W. Moore; LAV., Henry Langford; O.W., J. Johnson; trustees, Dr. McCune, Richard Walmsley and Sharon Case. The lodge, which now numbers twenty-four members, meets every Monday-night in Ireland's Hall, on the corner of Canal street. The present officers are: P.M.W., W. N. Akins ; M.W., James Stevenson; foreman, Winfield Walmsley ; overseer, Sharon Case; financial recorder, C. F. Davis; recorder, W. L. Kaynes; I. W., J. Johnson ; O.W., John E. Donelson.
The trustees of the township since the change in the law requiring one instead of three trustees are: James Jacobs, Firman Allen, William McMasters, W. S. Hill, Robert O. Jones, James Jacobs, S. D. Hill, E. G. Wilson and William A. Henderson, the present incumbent.
A graded school is here located in a handsome two-story brick building, which was erected in 1860, and cost $4,000. The first principal was Prof. Craig, who filled the position for many years. The gentleman now in charge of the institution is Prof. Hancock.
Is a small trading point, with a population of about seventy-five, situated in the southeast corner of the township, on Rocky Run creek. The village was regularly laid out hi 1876, but was located in 1864, when William Lewis opened the first store. M. Morris bought him out, and was the first postmaster at this point. The only store now located here is owned by William P. Musgrave. A tile factory and saw-mill add to the importance of the place. Rocky Run Friends church is situated in the village. The present building, 40x50 feet, was erected about 1861, at a cost of $800. Education is provided for by a graded school. Dr. Woodard is the resident physician.
If you have any information you would like to add, please send it to my attention. Thank you. James D. VanDerMark