History of Putnam County, Indiana
NOTE: Towns and Townships are listed below the history.
Source: Weik, Jesse William. Weik's History of Putnam County, Indiana. Indianapolis, Ind: Bowen, 1910. (main source)
Putnam County was created through an act of the Indiana State Legislature four days before Christmas in 1821. Jonathan Jennings, Governor signed the document. It was taken from the larger Southern counties of Vigo and Owen and was named for the famous Israel Putnam. The first commissioners were: John Bartholomew; Aaron Redus; Jonathan Wells; John Allen and Peter Allen. These commissioners were to superintend the beginning of the county, particularly to create a "seat of justice" for the county. James Athey's log cabin, probably the first to be erected in the county served was to be the meeting place; however, the commissioners failed their duties. New commissioners were reappointed to meet at the home of John Butcher on the 2nd Monday in April. Butcher's home was a large log cabin overlook Big Walnut Creek a little northwest of what is Greencastle today. Land entries for the newly formed county had originally been made in Vincennes, then Terre Haute then from 1823 until April 7, 1853 (when original land was fairly well taken up and the office closed) in Crawfordsville.
John M. Coleman received the first land grant in Putnam County, Sect 10, Twp 12, Rg 5 West. James Athey entered his land about the same time. Both were in what is now Washington Township "on the forks of Eel." The first uppermost land was entered by Felix Clodfelter, in what is now Russell Township NW quarter of Sec 18, Twp 16, Rg 5W. The last original land entered was done in Indianapolis because the Crawfordsville office had closed. This was on October 10, 1854 and was purchased by Solon Turman for a portion of Section 7, Twp 12 North, Rg 4 West in Cloverdale Township. Other early settlers of the county were: Benjamin Croy; Otwell Thomas and Reuben Ragan, along with John Sigler (March 1821) who was accompanied by Thomas Johnson. Their land was where Greencastle is today. Others in the area the first year or two were Jefferson Thomas, Abraham Coffman, Samuel Rogers, Jubal DeWeese, Isaac Matkin, Abraham Lewis and along with them, the first preacher Rev. Reuben Clearwater. Almost all the early settlers were from Kentucky or North Carolina.
Putnam County is 486 square miles and had 311,040 acres. On the north is Montgomery County; the east is Hendricks and Morgon; south -- Owen & Clay and west, Clay & Parke. In the northern part of the township the land is mostly flat and owns good crop soil whereas in the center and southwest, it is rolly. In early years, there was dense and beautiful timber, most of which has been used or plundered to date. Poplar, Oak, Walnut, Maple, Beech and Hickory were abundant. In the southern portion, the Walnut Fork of the Eel River with tributaries of Little Walnut, Warford Branch and Deer Creek. The northern area has Raccoon Creek and Mill Creek. Soil consists of clay, sand, rocks, gravel, shale, coal, and limestone which is still being excavated today, 2012. A large iron ore vein was discovered about six miles southwest of Cloverdale in the 1860s.
When the county was organized, there were six townships (Deer Creek, Hart, Sparts, Tipton, Walnut & Wasington). By 1828, the commissioners saw fit to divide the county into 13 townships : Russell; Franklin; Jackson across the top -- below them: Clinton; Monroe and Floyd. Below them: Madison, Greencastle and Marion and Jefferson below Marion. Warren is below Greencastle with Washington beside (on the West) Warren and Cloverdale underneath Warren & Jefferson. It was not until 1861 that Mill Creek was annexed from Morgan County, but later incorporated into Jefferson, making the county almost a perfect rectangle, except Jefferson juts out to the east. Of course, farming has been the major occupation for many of not only the early settlers but of those living in Putnam today. The first County Agricultural Society was organized in 1850, in order to "organize the third annual fair." Speaking of which, the Putnam County 4-H fair is one of the big draws in late summer every year.
Today, according to the 2010 census, there are about 38,000 people living in Putnam County, Indiana. A total of 482.69 square miles are within her borders. Incorporated towns are listed as: Bainbridge, Cloverdale, Fillmore, Greencastle, Roachdale, Russellville and unincorporated ones are: Barnard, Belle Union, Mount Meridian, New Maysville, Parkersburg, Putnamville and Reelsville (see towns below -- there are many more existing and have existed in Putnam). Although neighboring Parke County is the "Covered Bridge Capital of the World," there are 7 in Putnam County, the Dunbar bridge matching almost any around. The Banner-Graphic has been in existence for decades and brings current news to the county residents. Greencastle continues to have new businesses added and old business stay. On a whole, anywhere in Putnam County is a happy place to live.
The first election was held at the home of Moses Hart in August of 1823 while at the same time, one was held at James Kelso's Mill and yet another at the mill of Jacob Beck's. The first trial was of Charles Wright who assaulted James Frazier. The first physician, definitely in Greencastle, and probably in the county was Dr. Enos Lowe, arriving in 1823 and serving the people all around the area. Three years later, Kentuckians, Dr. L.M. Knight and Dr. A.C. Stevenson joined him to help the demand. The first blacksmith was Jesse Twigg and the first carpenter/cabinet maker was John S. Jennings, a Tennesseean. A horse-powered wool carding machine was set up in Greencastle in 1826 by General John Standeford. Much bartering and trading (little $) went for payment to these first business people. By 1840 there were many businesses in the town of Greencastle and the county of Putnam, as many as 40 dry goods merchants alone.
The first white child born in the county was Mary Jane McGaughey, daughter of Arthur McGaughey who was the first county clerk. This event was Feb 10, 1822. John Rawley was the first born in Greencastle in the same year, a few weeks later (March 25). A Mr. Dennis was the first death which occurred at Trotter's Mill north of Greencastle. He was a millwright and died later in 1821. An unknown man, passing through was the first Greencastle death. Although it is not known for certain who the first teacher was it is known that among the very first was Hiram Stavens, as well as Alfred Burton. The first marriage -- Thomas Jackson and Sarah Wood July 15, 1822. First inn - Jubal DeWeese. Although Jubal had the first inn/tavern several were on the square by 1826 (Pleasant Wilson's; Joseph Lucas; Hudson Brackney; Elisha King; Thomas Hammond; John Lynch; James Ricketts...). Few were called taverns, but had fancier names such as Social Hall, Franklin House, Washington Hotel... These inns only held about 10-12 people for the evening, thus more than one was welcome. Only some lawyers had a home base in that time and travelling ones such as Tilghman A. Howard, William P. Bryant, Joseph G. Marshall, Samuel Gookins were visitors to the fair city.
First newspaper is not known for sure but is generally accepted as John C. Child's 1830 The Hoosier which he sold in 1834 to John W. Osborn. Many little papers cropped up, flourished and died throughout the county, not just in the major city. The Banner-Graphic of today has existed in some form for about 150 years.
First bank was basically Augusta Wood's brokerage and was established in 1854. Major W.D. Allen joined him and opened a business called the Exchange Bank which had a capital of $50,000. Most of the small towns had banks, as well up until about 1990 or so, although a couple of them still do in 2012.
First judge -- Jacob Call. First attorneys licensed to practice in the county -- Thomas H. Blake and James Farrington. Blake a native of Maryland emigrated West soon after the War of 1812 coming to Terre Haute where he was a prosecuting attorney, circuit judge, member of the Legislature and representative to Congress. President Tyler appointed him land office commissioner but he soon became president of the Wabash & Erie Canal Company and died too early to see what he might have done for our county -- his death occuring November 28, 1829. On the same day Blake was sworn in, James Farrington, who was born in Boston was as well. We know more about what Farrington did here. Farrington had lived in Vincennes, then Terre Haute where he was a in both branches of the Legislature and assessor of US Internal Revenue for the 7th Indiana District from 1862 until his death Oct 8, 1869. Luckily for the history of the county, he left painstaking records. First known jury (only 11 known members) -- Abraham Lewis; Noble J. Meyers; David Hurst; John Rawley; Benjamin Bell; Richard Moore; David McCoy; Elisha Mullinix; Isaac Matkins; William Craig and Israel Linder. This was held in the home of James Athey who received a $1 a day for the use of his home. First courthouse is unknown but it seems there was one by May of 1826. First county clerk was Arthur McGaughey. He kept that office from the organization of the county until April 1843. The first auditor of the county was Joseph F. Farley whose term expired in 1855 -- he took over duties in 1851 -- this is because before that time the clerk and auditor duties were performed by the same person. First sheriff -- William W. McIntosh. County Treasurer James Talbott. Recorder -- William E. Talbott. Surveyor -- Joseph S. Patterson along with Robert Glidewell serving until 1832.
The present-day court house was erected by Caldwell & Drake of Columbus Indiana and costs $144,977.13 with heating & sewer an additional $17,385.69. Furnishing totalled $13,366.60 totalling $175,729.68. The corner stone was laid on October 29, 1903 and the completed building was appropriately dedicated on July 4, 1905.
EDUCATION -- was clearly important at the start of the county. Lot #30 in 1830 was set up for the Greencastle Seminary (north side of Washington between Madison and Jefferson Street). Often called, the County Seminary, it was a one-story brick building containing two rooms. Readin', writin' and cipherin' consisted of the curriculum.Indiana Asbury University (DePauw) was given the right to use the school if they furnished money for furniture, books and such. First school board -- John Hanna mayor of Greencastle in 1853 set-up a commission to be trustees for the schools in the town of Greencastle. Delana Eckels; Russell Hathaway and Daniel Sigler were appointed. These folks helped improve the system, adding four primary schools, a high school and a County Seminary. The school year was from June 1 for two months with a vacation of six weeks commencing again the 15th of Sept with a summer session beginning the 1st of April each year. The principal for the males received $30/month; where as the female princpal (HS) received $20 -- teachers were paid $15 per month. 468 students attended the commons schools and 92 in the high school in 1855. The first county superintendent was John R. Gordon (1872-1875). In 1910, each township had at least one high school. There were several early Academies in Putnam County. By 1850, Cloverdale, Russellville and Bainbridge as well as Greencastle had Academies, the Russellville one being particularly suited for for preperation for advanced learning. DePauw information can be seen at this website, while current Putnam County schools can be viewed at these three sites. North Putnam -- Greencastle -- South Putnam
RELIGION -- The main denominations of early settlers were: Baptist; Methodist; New Light and Presbyterian.
Baptist- Elder J.R. Billings from Labm's Bottom Church, Elder Samuel Arthur from White River with J.R. Robinson and Thomas Johnson, Elders brought forth the May 1822 organization of the Baptist Church (Greencastle). The first members were: John Sherrell; Sister Sherrell; Samuel Arthur; John Smith; Charlotte Smith; John Leatherman; Polly Leatherman; Jeremiah DeVore and Nancy DeVore; Jeremiah Skelton; Polly Skelton; John W and Alsy Jones. Those out in the county purported to be Baptists who mainly held church in their homes with John Leatherman and Richard Denman. Some of the early Greencastle Baptists were Jubal Deweese, Thomas Johnson and John Miller. James Bird had area Baptists to his home early on which was on Walnut Creek about seven miles northeast of Greencastle. See also: St. Paul's under "Methodist."
Methodist -- In the fall of 1822 Samuel Hamilton was the presiding elder over the Owen, Putnam & Parke "Eel River" Circuit. Most credit Daniel Anderson, "a man described of iron frame who traveled the district from Bloomington to Crawfordsville, who swam rivers and climbed mountains to reach his appointment and who died as he had lived, full of faith and the Holy Ghost." The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1876 -- they met in a store room on the square but about 1890 built a small church on Locust Street. Hinton Chapel and St. Paul's Baptist were two other churches frequented by the "colored" people of the community.
New Light - several in number, this group was finally absorbed into the Christian Church, spear-headed by Alexander Campbell. The first camp meeting was conducted by the New Lights at John Sigler's place, a "few miles northeast of Greenastle."
Presbyterian -- A graduate from Middlebury College in Vermont, ordained in Mercer County, Kentucky in 1818, Isaac Reed ventured to Indiana in 1818 and was the organizer of the Presbyterian Church in Putnam County, Indiana. The "New School Presbyterian Church," organized in Greencastle in July 1833 with 18 members was the one that prospered.
In 1830 the Christian Church (New Lights) began with membership of R.S. Tennant and daughter; Peter W. Applegate nad wife and Samuel Taylor and wife. These few were joined by many others and eventually a building was erected on Sunday, June 8, 1856. The first pastor there was Oliver Badger who was a long standing Greencastle minister "with great piety!"
Catholic -- St. Paul the Apostle dates back to 1848 when Rev. Simon LaLumiere, of Terre Haute journeyed to Greencastle and read the first mass in an old log school house, owned by Clinton Walls, a short distances NE of the village of Limedale.
Greencastle Union Sabbath School -- the teaching of the young started very early -- April 13, 1834. Matthew 18 verse 21-35 was the first lesson under the tutleage of Myra Jewett (later Mrs. John S. Jennings).
The Masons were the first organization in the county, beginning in May of 1842. Officers were: Samuel Taylor; John Sala; William Hart; Lewis Sands; Samuel Dicks; CG Ballard; Jesse Dicks; Hiram Walker; CJ Hand and W.C. Larrabee. The Knights Templar began some 25 years later. Almost each small town had a lodge of both Masons and Templars. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows began in Greencastle on July 10, 1847 with W. McClure; Elisha Adamson, Isaac Dunn and Samuel Noel as officers. Roachdale, Russellville, Fillmore, CLoverdale and Mt. Meridian also had lodges. Order of Ben Hur in 1910 had over 200 members. The Elks began in Greencastle with several charter members on June 27, 1907, James L. Hamilton being the first exalted ruler. Knights of Pythias Lodge No 16 started on January 24, 1872 in Greencastle with 17 members. Seven camps of Modern Woodman existed in 1910, being at Russellville; Roachdale; Bainbridge; Cloverdale; Fincastle; Portland Mills and of course Greencastle. Greencastle was the only one with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, organized March 12, 1907. The Greencastle Moose is still active, as well as the American Legion; Elks; Masons; IOOF; and several other non-for-profit organizations.
Putnam seemed to lead the ranks in regards to literary and social clubs, these not including those associated with DePauw. The local DAR branch (Washburn Chapter) is one of the oldest in the state having organized Dec 13, 1902, with Lelia W. DeMotte the first regent.
I think the Grand Army of the Republic in Indiana is nonexistent in 2012, but there may be organizations after that in relationship to this one in existance. This organization was for those who had fought in the Civil War, originally but branched out to include wives, sons and daughters, etc. The first commander of the GAR in Greencastle was George J. Langsdale, Commander.
TOWNS ... Townships-- note: 57 towns found to date -- 1-1-2017 - kbz - please let me know if you have others --
Alma -- According to Post Offices of Indiana (by V.A. Ross) there was a PO here from 1-28-1858 to 11-14-1860 but it is not known exactly where the town was.
Arcola -- the only Arcola on the internet is of course the larger city in Allen County (and other states) but an early obit said born Arcola, Putnam County - hopefully, we'll find something sometime :(
Bainbridge -- located in upper Monroe Township, one of the older communities in Putnam, it is located in Monroe Township and has about 750 people in 2012. It was named for William Bainbridge, an early U.S. Naval Captain. Still a fairly active small town, they have a church, school, Legion, and volunteer fire department, among other things. The Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railroad kept the town alive for many years. Adam Feather was the first blacksmith; Joshua Lucas, the first tanner while John Cunningham was the first merchant. Bainbridge was incorporated in 1847. The town was named for Commodore Bainbridge of the US Navy. Quite the religious diversity was alive and well in the early 1900s with Catholics, Presbyterian, Methodists, Christians living happily side by side. Bainbridge had a newspaper (Bainbridge News) for some time, and a bank. Joshua Lucas was the first postmaster. Joshua Lucas was the first postmaster, appointed 2-13-1835 -- it has one of the longest running Post Offices in the county.
Barnard -- a neat little town located on State Road 236 about 5 miles east of Roachdale. The town had a Post Office from 3-29-1880 to its closing in 6-30-1912. A small cemetery and a few houses are there today, 2012.
Belle Union -- a tiny community located in Section 12 in Jefferson Township, and was once a fairly thriving community which had a school, a couple of groceries,restaurants and a church thrived there for many years. Robert McCammack was the first official postmaster at Belle Union and took office April 6, 1870. The PO was closed May 14, 1906.
Berne -- Howard Moser was born there in 1922.
Blakesburg -- a small town on Raccoon Creek that is extinct today ? but existed in at least the latter part of the 1800s the town’s postal service existed from 5-26-1828 to 10-19-1839.
Brick Chapel -- located on US 231 South it is at the edge of Co. Rd 350 North. A Post Office existed here from 4-28-1873 to 11-5-1875 and reopened the next year on May 8th. It permanently closed 2-28-1905. A beautiful church and cemetery plus a couple of homes is all that exists of the town today, in 2013.
Broad Park -- It is unknown where this town was located but a Post Office was held there from 3-26-1892 to its closing the last day of 1903.
Brunerstown -- The little burg bridged Section 17 & 18 in Madison Township, dating back to the late 1830s. Isaiah Wright was the first postmaster November 1839 following by M.F. Wright who had the PO briefly and Coleman P. Wright who again had it briefly. Samuel H. Witt from April 20, 1858 was the postmaster when the office closed August 8, 1859.
Butler -- a small burg existing in at least the mid-1870s was a whistle stop on the I & St. L Railroad.
Canby -- The location of this town in Putnam is not known but a post office existed for a little over two years here from 5-5-1873 to 6-25-1875.
Carpentersville -- still a dot in the road, but not the active community it once was, Carpentersville was a wonderful place to grow up for several of my friends. The Watson store was there for decades. Located in Sec 24 and 25, Franklin Township, dates back to 5-23-1850 when the Post Office began (later closed 10-15-1910).
Carthage -- see Mount Meridian (early name for that town).
Cary -- Rosa Christ was born there in 1879 (source: her obituary)
Clinton Falls -- a small town in the 1870s + in Clinton Township, Putnam County. The Post Office at Clinton Falls existed from 8-31-1874 to 8-31-1901.
Clinton Township -- Next to Clarke County, Clinton is below Russell, next to Monroe and above Madison Townships. The town of Morton is in Clinton. Asbury Vandever bought the first piece of property in this township followed a month later by Roan Irwin. The first birth was recorder as John Sigler born 10 days before Christmas in 1825, son of Andrew and Sarah. The first school was taught by Capt. William H. Thornburgh. Portland Mills, Morton and of course, Clinton Falls are in Clinton Township. L.K. Dille was the first postmaster of Clinton Falls, appointed August 31, 1874.
Cloverdale -- quite a thriving little town even today, in 2012, the poulation sets at about 2200 people. It is located almost in the center of Cloverdale Township. A unique organization today is the Cataract Yacht Club, but there is much more to do there. Cloverdale is a fun place. The Louisville, New Albany & Chicago RR (Monon) helped this town thrive -- it was and remains the second largest town in the county. It was laid out by Andrew McCoy and Moses Nelson (Sect 1) in 1839. Thomas Nelson was the first postmaster with the post office in his store. It was early to grab the telephone system in the late 1890s. It was as early as 1824 when the Methodists held the first church. An early newspaper called, "The Bee" was established as early as 1877 but was short lived as was the Local Item of Lyman Naugle's. The Graphic which later combined with the Banner to become the Banner-Graphic eventually went on to Greencastle to be published and is in existence today in December 2012. William Hart was the first postmaster taking office Feb 11, 1836.
Cloverdale Township -- the southernmost township in the Southern section of Putnam County, bordering Owen County, the town of Cloverdale is its largest populated area and has always been. One of the later townships to be organized (1846) it was originally part of Warren & Jefferson. In the spring of 1823, William Hamilton and James Robinson who came from Kentucky together, entered land in what is now Cloverdale Township. Macy, James, Kilgore, Hadden, VanSickle and McNary are early settlers as well, along with Meadows, Macy, Bandy and Taber. Elizabeth Tabor (sic) daughter of John was the first white child born in the township in 1824. This was in Section 36. The first death was a child of Ambrose Bandy. David Martin and Betsy Tabor or Berry Brannaman and Morris Sinclair were the first to marry. Abraham Waters built the first sawmill on Doe Creek. It was not until 1863 when Joseph Pearcy and Gabriel Woodville erected the first steam mill.Moses Nelson kept the first tavern and Thomas Nelson the first store. Thomas was also the first postmaster. Thomas Evans taught the first school beginning in 1835. The first JP was William Hamilton while the first Dr. was H.D. Dyer who came to the township in 1845. The Methodists held the first church services as early as 1824.
Darter -- this small town was near Russellville and existed from at least 12-5-1882 to 9-30-1885 when there was a Post Office there.
DePauw University -- An old institution, DePauw was founded as Asbury College back in 1837 and was named for Francis Asbury, the first American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Greencastle residents raised an unbelievable amount of money for the time ($25,000) so that the Methodists would want to organize their college in their little village. Originally an all-male school, women were admitted in 1867 and beyond. Washington DePauw contributed a great deal of money in the 1870s thus the name was later changed to DePauw University. DePauw continues to receive large donations, including $128 million from the Holton Family. DePauw has a very rich history and deserves your attention if you enjoy Putnam County or college memories.
Eberle -- A very short Post Office run existed in this tiny town from 8-10-1848 to 11-19-1849.
Farrowtown -- This town must have failed miserably as the Post Office only existed for a little over a month starting 3-7-1840 to 4-17-1840.
Fern -- Although I’m not sure of this it stands to reason this small town (from 3-13-1883 to 3-31-1904 which is when the Post Office existed) is probably near Reelsville where Fern Cliff is (a mountain cliff 764’ high) today, a nature preserve area.
Fillmore -- is located in Section 8 in Marion Township and tallies about 550 people. It is not quite 2 square miles. The E-W highways are US Rt 36 and US Rt 40 with the N-S road being US Rt 231. Dixie Chopper lawnmowers are made in this small town. The town dates back to at least 1848 when William Matthews is listed as the first postmaster. In 1853 William C. Hopwood is listed as the first physician and John Denny as the Justice of the Peace. A post Office was opened there on 12-5-1861.
Fincastle -- Section 24, Russell Township Fincastle is southeast of Russellville about five miles -- extinct. The Post Office for Fincastle was opened 10-21-1847 but only existed until 12-20-1858. Makes a person wonder if the little town had a rebirth as the Post Office reopened 2-15-1877 and was there for quite sometime until 1-14-1905.
Floyd Township -- one of the eastern townships, it flushes with Hendricks County. Springfield and Groveland are the only two towns I've found there and are extinct today. Joseph W. Warford was the first settler there. The first marriage in the township was also a Warford, Wilson marrying Nancy the daughter of Isaac Monnett.There was no flour for the bread (cake or bread, they chose the cake) but the feast was enjoyed without the bread. Another Warford made township history, Delia, born in 1824 and the first death was a daughter of Joseph Warford in 1822. Sec 33, in 1829 produced the first sawmill built and ran by Anderson Matthews. Anderson's son, William was the first resident physician, who would come to author many medical books and send multiple articles to medical journal. One of the more interesting businesses was built by John Millman, and was a factory (1838) in Section 26 that made fur and wool hats. This business ran until 1863. First JP -- Andrew Matthews. First sermon was preached by Daniel Anderson at Joseph Warford's home in late 1822.
Fort Red -- This town may be Barnard or it was near Barnard and had a Post Office from 3-1-1876 to 3-29-1880.
Franklin Township -- the middle upper township, Franklin lies between Russell and Jackson and above Monroe. Towns include Carpentersville, part of Roachdale and two villages, Fincastle (laid out in 1838 by John Obenchain -- David Fosher the first postmaster) and Carpentersville. James Gordon and William Elrod were among the early settlers, adding Garrett Gibson and James Fiddler next. Philip Lemon was the first blacksmith while the first store was Philip Carpenter's. The Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railroad went through Carpentersville in the early 1840s. The town's first postmaster was Ezra Whitney.
Greencastle -- county seat of Putnam County, Greencastle's biggest claim to fame is probably DePauw University, with about 2500 students. See DePauw. There are several interesting National Register of Historical Places in the county including Brick Chapel Church; several covered bridges; Richard Hazlett House; McKim Observatory; The Towers; The Elms; Lycurgus Stoner home; DePauw buildings; Schuyler Arnold Seed Farm; Putnamville Methodist Church and more. Greencastle dates back to 1821 when Ephraim Dukes created a land grant and named the little village for his Greencastle, Pennsylvania home. It was finally incorporated the 9th of March in 1849 then became an official city on the 8th of July in 1861. E.R. Kercheval was the first mayor. The town's official 2010 census population was 10,326. Today, the college, downtown, library all make it a great little place to raise a family. Note: Green Castle existed from 3-15-1824 until the year 1879 when the two words were incorporated becoming Greencastle, what we know today.
Greencastle Township -- The county seat of Greencastle, above, is in the approximate center of this township. The area is mostly of a rolling nature but some flat areas exist, as well. Big Walnut Creek crosses it diagonally from NE to SW. The township had the following settlers who began the township in 1821 (John Sigler; Thomas Johnson; Benjamin Jones; Jubal DeWeese; Silas Weeks; John Miller; Amos Robertson; David DeWeese; Jefferson Thomas; and Samuel Rogers. Joshua H. Lucas was the first postmaster (in the city of Greencastle). In fact, the two the town and township coincide perfectly with the first settlers and their importance in the area. Walter and Hosea Wright had the first tannery; Milton Barlow was the first hatter; Arthur Mahorney the first Justice of the Peace.
Groveland -- in the northern portion of Floyd Township. This town was laid out by Benjmin and Daniel Summers on March 18, 1854 and was in Section 2 & 3. There is a bit of discrepancy here in information as the town had a post office before it was platted (7-19-1852) that existed until 3-31-1905. The town was near Coatesville near the Hendricks County line.
Hale School Crossing (December 18, 1923 - Crawfordsville Review p 11) mentions Obenchains (Frank); Plunketts; Warney Young; Ross RIggle; Willis Edie; Irene Shumaker; Lonnie Robbins
Hamrick -- known as Hamrick Station from 1866 (Post Office 10-11-1866) through 11-28-1882) when the town dropped the station part and became Hamrick. The Post Office existed here until the last day of March in 1905 then the Reelsville PO delivered mail.
Horntown -- near Cloverdale, this little place had a Post Office from 4-15-1899 to 9-30-1901.
Jackson Township -- Jackson is the Northeastern township in Putnam. New Maysville, Barnard and Roachdale are the main towns. It touches Hendricks County on the east, Montgomery on the north. William Welch, John Smith and George Sutherlin were among the first settlers. John S. Talbott was the first postmaster, having the USPO as was the case with many early ones, was in his store (1832). David Johnson, son of John Johnson was the first white child born in the townsip on March 8, 1828. The rich soil of this township is said to be some of the best in the county.
Jefferson Township -- Jefferson Township fairly well reflects Warren and is in the lower portion of the county, touched by Mill Creek, Warren, Marion, and Cloverdale. Although there are many branches of water in the area, no large creeks exist in this portion. The first settlers were three families named Higgins and one named Kirk who took up temporary settlements in Sec 16, in 1819, but it was not until late 1822 when John C. Sherrill actually purchased the first property. Jefferson has had Warren, Cloverdale and Deer Creek as part of its township at various times but finally in 1846 Jefferson was made what it is today. William Aldrich and Betsy Higgins were the first marriage in 1823. Caroline Sherrill was the first white child born Feb 27, 1823. The first JP was David Scott. The Baptists organized the first church (Mill Creek) with Absalom Hurst, minister. The Methodists were there earlier than 1838 but that is when their first was built. 1834 saw the first school.
Jenkinsville -- located in the bottom portion of Section 29 in Warren Township, existed in the mid-1870s. It is not known how long it existed, however.
Langsdale -- One of the briefest Post Offices in Indiana, this one existed from 2-3-1880 to the 24th of that month. It was near Roachdale.
Limedale -- the first Catholic mass was held at the property of Clinton Wallace in 1848 where Limedale was then a village and later a town. This was a community south of Greencastle and was a whistle stop on the TH & I Railroad. The Louisville, New Albany & Chicago (Monon) RR also went near the area. Limedale was official in 1864 when William Stegg and William Shields surveyed and platted the town in Greencastle Township. Alpheus Morris was the first postmaster. The post office existed until October 30, 1909.
Little Walnut -- this little town was near Morton and had a post office twice briefly, the first from 10-9-1855 to 7-17-1857 and then again 1-23-1861 to 10-9-1861.
Madison Township -- Bordering Clarke County, Madison owns Little Walnut, Suak and Long Branch Creeks. The I & St. L Railroad ran through the lower portion of the township in the early days of railroading and several towns popped up but are now gone. Richard Moore purchased the first land on December 13, 1821? 1820? Other early settlers were Benjamin Bell; Isaac Wolverton and Isaac Matkins, along with Leathermans, Wrights, Oatmans, Curtis and Williams. Joseph Thornburg was one of the most active. Isaac and Sophia Matkins had the first child, John Thomas Matkins born in the township, but sadly George, their son was the first death. Limestone quarries were abundant in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Two small towns, Oakalla and Brunerstown had post offices with Isaiah Wright the first postmaster at Brunerstown and Charles Eppinghousen the first at Oakalla. Brunerstown dates back to 1839 and Oakalla 1872.
Malta (Malta Station) -- a whistle stop on the I & St. L. Railway in the 1870s. A Post Office existed here from 2-5-1872 to 11-13-1876.
Manhattan -- platted in 1829 on the National Road by John M. Coleman and Thomas H. Clark the town existed until the 1870s -- it was located in Sec 23 in Washington Township. Lloyd B. Harris owned the first hotel of the township in this little town. Thomas H. Clark, was its first postmaster and Thomas Lewis the first shoemaker. The post office existed until October 31, 1905.
Marion Township -- Two railways at one time ran through the upper part of Marion Township, thus the little town of Fillmore flourished. It barely exists today. The only other towns I find in Marion Township were Malta Station and Mt. Meridian which were mainly whistle stops on a railway. Lumbering was an early way to make money with poplar, walnut, white, red and burr oak, hard maple, beech, ash, elm, gum, hickory and sycamore. Deer Creek runs through this township. The first settler was Reuben Ragan who was one of the very first in the county, coming in 1818, coming here to decide just where he wanted to choose land in the surrounding counties and townships. He became a permanent resident in Marion township in 1822 and remained there until his death August 19, 1869. His hewed-log home became part of the family home and in 1910 was the oldest standing building in the county. He was remembered for his expertise at orcharding. Daniel Brewer, Coatsville was one of the more interesting of the early settlers, having been born in Holland on August 31, 1782. Arthur A Denny, son of John was the first white child born in the township a week before Christmas in 1824. Just six days later neighbor Samuel Hazlett became the father of America. A Smith-Smith wedding (John, son of John and Willie, daughter of Judge Smith) were the first to marry. James Agee, was the first blacksmith of the township while Abijah Robinson at Nicholsonville (later Fillmore) had the first post office in the township.
Mill Creek Township -- Thomas Broadstreet, born in Virginia in 1813 was the first settler in 1826 at the tender age of 13. Jacob Holmes built the first log cabin on the west bank of Mill Creek stream. Barbara Heavin, wife of William was the first death. She died in 1830 -- he died and was laid to rest by his beloved in the family cemetery eight years later. James Sallust made the first brick in the township. He came from Virginia and settled in Mill Creek Township in 1829, living in a tent until he finished erecting his home. Nancy Holmes, daughter of Jacob Holmes was the first birth on May 7, 1830 but died just four years later. Eli Lee and Polly Heavin in 1832 was the first marriage. Thomas Elliott built one of the first and finest brick homes in 1837 which he used as a tavern/inn on the fairly newly built National Road.
Monroe Township -- lies just below Franklin Township and is the home of Bainbridge, still one of the active towns of Putnam County. Jesse and Rollin James; Elias Gordon and John Powell all built their cabins in 1821 and are considered the first settlers of the township. George Johnson marrying Susannah Tomlinson was the first marriage in the township. John Jackson was the first blacksmith, Thomas Heady being the first JP. The Brick Chapel cemetery is one of the oldest in the county.
Morton -- located on State Road 36 on the corner of North County Road 450 West, in Section 2, Clinton Township, a once thriving little community dating back to at least 1875, today in 2012, is just a spot in the road. Its Post Office existed from 7-17-1857 until 1-14-1905.
Mount Meridian -- was located on the township line between Marion and Jefferson and existed in at least the mid 1870s. It was East of Westland. William Bailey was the first postmaster taking office July 24, 1835. The PO was discontinued February 28, 1905. It is listed in Wikipedia (currently on US 40). It is reported as the highest point in the county
Mount Washington -- was also known as Mt. Belle Union or was near there and existed (Post Offices of Indiana by VA Ross) from at least 11-9-1891 to 8-31-1894.
New Maysville -- Section 34, Jackson Township is the home of New Maysville which is still a tiny burg today.
Nicholsonville -- now extinct located in Marion Township. Little is known of this town except that the first store was kept by Abijah Robinson about 1845. Robinson also had a post office there in his store. The PO was later moved to Fillmore. The towns may be the same -- it was unclear in the early history.
Oakalla Station -- a small burg on the I & St. L. Railway in Section 34, Madison Township. The first postmaster was Charles Eppinghousen (June 1872) and the last when the PO discontinued was Joseph Torr (Nov 30, 1908).
Parkersburg -- Although the town is technically in Montgomery County, the southern part is in the topmost section of Putnam County. It is almost a ghost town today yet at one point had one of the most impressive drinking springs in the area in the mid 1900s.
Perkinsville - located 3 miles north of Greencastle; in existence in 1900s.
Pleasant Garden -- a fairly thriving community in the 1870s it was located in Section 21 in Washington Township. John Matkins laid-out the town in 1830 as a rival to Manhattan, but this town did not take off like Manhattan did.
Poplar Grove -- located in Cloverdale Township it had an early Methodist Church of the area.
Poplar Springs -- a brief Post Office stay was from 6-14-1834 to 5-6-1835 but it is not known where the place was.
Portland Mills -- is partialy in Parke County and partially in Putnam, mainly Putnam, the Post Office moved back and forth, first in Parke County from 5-25-1835 to 9-11-1837 then to Putnam until 9-15-1851 then back to Parke until 11-6-1854. Several years then it was with Parke until 1-25-1875 then to Putnam County until 12-7-1888 and finally Parke until the last day of the year of 1904 when the Judson Post Office (which is in Parke County) took over the mail and the Portland Mills PO was closed forever.
Putnamville -- Sec 9 -- Warren Township -- this little town is famous for two unusual items -- one the Putnamville Correctional Center and #2 the Lincoln Park Speedway where each Saturday night for many years there is oval track racing. Lincoln was supposedly a guest at a small inn while on his way to Springfield -- the little building is still in existence today. Laid out in 1830, James Townsend was its founder and had the first store there. D.W. Layman was the first postmaster December 4, 1832. Archibald Cooper built the first blacksmith shop and had that business there for many years. The first grist mill erected on Deer Creek was 1/2 miles SE of Putnamville and was operated by Alexander Conley. Hugh Thompson had a wagon shop there in the early years. Greencastle's rival, Putnamville made a push to obtain Asbury College but Greencastle's money won out. The Methodist Episcopalians were the first to establish a religious base but was soon followed by the Presbyterians. Virginian D.W. Layman was the first physician in the town and remained there for many years without competition because of his successful practice. In late 1864, a group of Davis supporters came by his home and cheered loudy and raucously -- Layman was hidden across the road in the dark and became so angry, he flung a stone across the road. Shortly thereafter, a couple of men came begging Layman to come take care of their friend. A bit leary, Layman made the call. In the middle of the road a short distance away, a man lay bleeding from his head. Layman fixed him up, and rode home. A few days later the man came to his office offering to pay for the aide. Layman said no and reminded him of the dangers of cheering for Jeff Davis!.
Reelsville -- in Section 21, Washington Twp, this town is still in existence and dates back to 1852 and was laid out by John Reel. Reelsville was still flourishing in 1910. It was a stop on the TH&I Railroad. William A. Reel was the first postmaster with John Reel following behind. Volney Smith seemed to be the last postmaster from his appointment time August 20, 1892 to when the post office was discontinued on Halloween in 1902.
Roachdale -- is one of the larger smaller towns in the county having over 900 people in the 2010 census. It lies on State Road 236, part in Jackson and part in Franklin Township. A newer town compared to most, Roachdale did not become a town until March 25, 1882 after the Indianapolis, Decatur & Springfield Railroad came through the area. The current railroad there takes ya' back to the old days when you're stuck waiting on the train and reminesce. William Lewis was the first postmaster followed by more Lewis' and Ghormleys. Great site regarding Roachdale, here
Russell Township -- is in the northwestern part of Putnam County. Russellville is the only town in the township. Raccoon and Ramp Creek are two of the waterways in the area. Russell Township was one of the first settled, with David Swank building his cozy little cabin in 1820. Allen Elliott settled the same year near the center of the township while Austin Puett settled near Portland Mills and Clark Butcher on the Big Raccoon. The first birth has still not been established although many feel Elizabeth Guilliams McGaughey was (her obit states such). The first marriage by Rev. Quinlet was definitely John Guilliams and Miss Lydia Fosher in July 1822. Daniel Anderson was the first preacher. The first mill established was by Jacob Beck, appropriately named Beck's Mill. Russellville had a newspaper for decades. The first postmaster there was Jacob Durham who had the office 18 years.
Russellville -- Sect 2, Russell Township is the home of Russellville, Indiana, a small area with about 350 people in 2012. Once an extremely thriving town with a doctor; veterinarian; school; churches; funeral home; grocery.. it still has a bank, community church and great people trying to help their little town survive. Sadly, that is the story of many of the area towns. 3-9-1832 to 12-5-1882 - mail sent to Darter but Russellville PO reopened 9-3-1885 (fairly sure it's all RR now but I do remember the PO there). Source: Crawfordsville Star May 31, 1877 -- The Union Agricultural Fair will be held this year, commencing on the 20th of August, and continuing five days. A strong effort is being put forth by the Board of Directors to render the exhibition of 1877, the fair of Russellville; and we hope they may succeed. George S. Durham, the present secretary is a man that knows no such word as fail. He will keep the kettle boiling from this till the day of opening.
Samuelsburgh -- 3-28-1840 to 10-4-1842 (existed for at least these two years when there was a post office there
Springfield -- in upper Floyd Township a small town east of Bainbridge -- extinct in 2012 and probably a long time before that!.
Swanksville - just south of Montgomery County Line - on 1860 map
Vivalia -- 12-26-1882 to 2-28-1906
Warren Township -- Located above Cloverdale Township, between Washington and Jefferson, in the southern portion of the county, Warren is one of the smaller townships. Putnamville is located in this township. Deer Creek flows through the northern portion. Clay has been abundant in this township as could be seen by early potters, Boyd & Perry and A.W. Welker. Stone quarries have also popped-up during Warren's existence.
Washington Township -- one of the larger townships and the oldest of them, is located on the Southwestern portion of the county, bordering Clay County to the West and Owen County to the South. Mill Creek, Deer Creek and Big Walnut are the main portions of water. Reelsville is the bigger of the few little towns that cropped up. James Athey was the first settler, followed by members of the Reel, Horton, McIntosh, Roberts, Colemans, McCullough, Wrights, Simpsons, Funican, Boone, and Clark family members. Athey built the first home in the winter of 1818-1819. The first blacksmith in the county was John Hooton while Athey and a man named Busick were the first Justices of the Peace. Thomas McCullough was the tallest man to date to ever live in the county, being just shy of 7' tall and owning great physical power. Rev. Isaac Denman was the minister of the first Hard-Shell (Predestinarian) Baptist church at Manhattan, the earliest town in the township. A Christian Church was also established there in 1838 with Elder John Harris at the head of the congregation. Probably the most famous inhabitant was Squire Boone, brother to the famed Daniel. July 3, 1837 his home was struck by lighting and two of his children killed. Then years later, in their home, twin sons were born, Tip and Tyler (love it). Later on, two of his daughters were married on the same day in the same house so like all families, there were good times and bad. Another interesting settler was David Sublett. His life was full of sorrows. One of his daughters married Greenberry Mullinix who murdered his new wife before they had been married three weeks. He went to the gallows. Two of his sons and a son-in-law were killed by the railroad and one son was shot to death in Effingham, Illinois.
Westland -- located northeast of Putnamville a few miles, Westland dates back to about 1830 and was located in Section 1 of Warren Township and existed until about 1900 or shortly before. There never was much in the town, a couple of businesses and a couple of houses. .
Wheaton -- 11-12-1880 to 5-14-1904 (near Roachdale)
Clay County | Owen County | Morgan County
Hendricks County | Montgomery County | Parke County
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