Brown township was originally included as a part of Blue River township. Later it was set off as a part of Green township. At the September term of the board of county commissioners, in 1836, it was organized as a separate township with its present dimensions. It is six miles east and west by five miles north and south. The civil township of Brown lies in two congressional townships. A strip one mile wide off of its entire east end lies in congressional township 17 north, range 7 east; the remaining portion of the township, consisting of twenty-five square miles, lies in congressional township 17 north, range 8 east.
Its surface is generally level or slightly rolling. Its natural drainage consists of Sugar Creek, Willow branch and Brandywine creek. Sugar creek enters the extreme northeast corner of the township; then flows to the southwest about four miles; thence to the northwest about four miles; thence to the southwest, leaving the west line of the township about one and one-half miles south of its north line. Sugar creek, though small, is the largest stream. Willow branch, which rises about two and one-half miles north and a mile east of the southwest corner of the township, is nothing more than a large open ditch. The same is true of Brandywine creek, which rises in the northwestern part of section 20, about a mile northwest of Warrington and flows southward through the township. The latter two streams were formerly sluggish, but they have been deepened and widened and now furnish good outlets for the southwestern part of the township. Sugar creek furnishes a good outlet for its entire northern portion. The land has all been well drained and is admirably adapted to heavy farming and grazing.
The first land entry in the township was made by Pryor Brown (for whom the township was named), who, on July 3, 1830, entered the east half of the northeast quarter of section 33, township 17, range 8. He was followed by a number of families whose names are still familiar in the county. Among them are Adaline Edwards, John S. Murfin, Eli Baldwin, John McQuery, Aaron Cass, Elizabeth McCarty, John Walker, Alford Thomas, Seth Walker, Samuel Collins, Samuel Noland, Stephen Noland, Stephen Harlan, Abraham Cook, William Walker, Jesse Oldham, John Kennedy, George Kennedy, Ursula Wilkinson, Conrad Coon, William Wilkinson, Benjamin Ross, Robert Eakin, John Hendren, Hervey Scott, John Sparks, John Brewer, Samuel Smith, Thomas H. Murfin, John Hays, James Wood, John Collins, James Piper, David Piper, Samuel Kennedy, Daniel Blakely, Thomas Collins, Hiram Harlan, William F. Thomas, Joel Cook, Abraham Nibarger, Seth Rozell, Samuel Blakely, Barzilla Rozell, William Sparks, Charity Wilkinson, Edward Beeson, Peter Moore, Samuel Creviston, John Vandyke, Elvin Roland, Zachariah Sparks, Henry John, Eli Bailey, Maria Edwards, Harvey Bates, William Bussell, Charles Piper, John Mitchell, John Thomas, Joseph Kennedy, Daniel Justice, Jesse Collins, James Judd, John Cook, David Hedrick, Tary Wilson, William Kennedy, John Hargrove, John Oldham, Cicero Wilkinson, Daniel Wilkinson, William Oldham, John McCray, William Cauldwell, Marill Reeves, Moses McCray and Stephen Sparks.
Sugar creek was the only stream large enough to furnish water power for the early settlers. Among the mills established were grist-mills, erected by Stephen Harlan, in 1834, on Sugar creek, in the northern part of the northwest quarter of section 22, township 17, range 8. Mr. Harlan had learned the milling business thoroughly in the noted White Water mill, situated near Connersville, Fayette county, Indiana, which was patronized at a very early day by Hancock county's pioneers. In 1834 he removed with his family to Brown township, Hancock county, where, in 1835, he built the first mill in the township. He was both miller and millwright. His first mill was situated on Sugar creek on Mr. Harlan's farm, southeast of where the Harlan cemetery is now located. It was of the "corn cracker" variety, and was propelled by an undershot water-wheel. The building was made of poles and covered with clapboards and was considered as the most "up-to-date" mill in the county. It was abandoned about 1852, and was used as a dwelling for several years by Lorenzo Brown, who had married Mr. Harlan's daughter, Nancy. Mr. Harlan immediately erected a larger and better mill, one-fourth mile distant, which was run by an overshot wheel. It was so near the source of Sugar creek, and the creek being flat and shallow at this point, the race could not be kept within its banks in times of high water and during a dry season the water supply was insufficient to propel the wheel. It was operated for about ten years.
A saw-mill was erected by David Blakely in 1836, on Sugar creek, just above Nashville, and one was erected by one Jenkins in 1850, at the northwest corner of section 10, township 17, range 8, on the line between Hancock and Madison counties. It was operated for several years after the war. A saw-mill was erected by Lane & Company, in 1852, at the northeast corner of the west half of the southeast quarter of section 31, township 17, range 8, at what became known as Scrabbletown. This mill was later owned by Dr. Samuel A. Troy and others and was finally moved away, probably during the seventies. A saw-mill was erected in 1855 by Stephen Harlan and Lorenzo Brown on Sugar creek, a little south and west of the Harlan cemetery; one by Trees & Brother, in 1863, in the northeast part of Warrington, and one by Walton & Brother, in 1868, on Sugar creek, in the western part of the south half of the southeast quarter of section 7, township 17, range 8, the latter being operated for ten years or more.
A tile factory was established in September, 1870, just southwest of Warrington by John K. Trees. The factory was later operated by Copeland & Garriott, James Trees and Mr. Thomas. During the seventies and early eighties a great many tile were manufactured at this place. Work was suspended about 1885.
A grist-mill, built at Warrington in 1875 by Dr. C. C. and John Loder, was sold to Power & Cranfill in 1876; Cranfill's interest was sold to Frank Marsh in 1879. The mill burned in 1877 and was rebuilt by Power and others. An interest was also held in the mill by Dr. Charles Titus and William I. Garriott. Hanna Power, Titus Garriott, all had an interest in the mill at different times during the eighties and nineties. In 1898 it burned again, but was rebuilt in 1899 by Keller & Wilson. Untried machinery was installed, which proved to be a failure. The mill has now stood idle since about 1900.
A tile yard was established just east of Willow in 1906 by Fred Wicker and Earl Frost, who sold to Herschell C Hutchins in the spring of 1915.
The first school in Brown township was built by Moses McCray, who was born in Bourbon county, Kentucky, August 15, 1794. He was reared and educated in Fayette county, Indiana, near the city of Connersville, where, in 1817, he was married to Jane Sparks. In 1831 he removed with his wife and children to Rush county, Indiana, where he remained for two years. He then came to Brown township, Hancock county, in 1833. A few families had preceded him, but they were of small means and with limited or no education. He entered in all four hundred acres of land. No sooner had his two-story log house and big log barn been constructed, than he cut from his own forest poplar and walnut logs, and, with the help of his boys built the first school house in Brown township, in 1834. For seven years he wielded the rod and taught "the rule of three" without receiving any compensation as a teacher. In this old log school house, which stood on the site of the present McCray cemetery, he educated his family. The school often numbered thirty children, some of whom came a distance of seven miles. Among those who came so far were Samuel Wales, father of John Wales, of Jackson township, Wintford Wales, and their sister, who married Nathan Overman. When the snows were too deep or the creeks too high they would remain with Mr. McCray until conditions improved. Sunday school and singing schools were conducted in this school house on Sundays and usually lasted from early morning until night. Logs split lengthwise were used for benches, and all available literature was pressed into use. Bibles, almanacs, readers and arithmetics served as textbooks, from which the fundamentals were taught.
Brown township also had its other log schools, all of which were replaced by frame houses about the time of the Civil War, or a little later. These, in turn, were followed by the brick houses that were constructed during the eighties and nineties. Originally there were nine single-room district school buildings. About 1874 a two-story brick school house was erected at Warrington with two rooms. This house was used until 1894, when it was torn down and a four-room brick house was constructed. At different times during the eighties, and probably earlier, high school classes were organized for the term. District No. 7, where Wilkinson now stands, also had a large enumeration, and in 1884 a brick school was erected there. A small recitation room about twenty feet square was carved out of one corner of the larger room so that two teachers were employed during the eighties. Later, another room was added and three teachers were employed until the four-room house was erected, in 1904. Old printed lists of teachers show that sometimes two teachers were employed, at other times one teacher for each of these schools.
Systematic high school work was begun at Warrington in 1894, the same year that the four-room brick building was constructed. W. B. Stookey was the first principal of the high school. Following are the teachers who have had charge of the school since that time: Walter Bridges, 1895; Walter T. Orr, 1897; A. H. Symonds, 1899; Ord Kuhn, 1902; O. W. Jackson, 1903; D. W. Sanders, 1904; L. L. Lydy, 1905; Jesse D. Knight, 1907; Lawrence Bridges, 1908; Eva Hubbard, 1909; John T. Rash, 1911; Leland S. Hamilton, 1912; after holidays,, and J. P. Amick, 1914.
The school at first followed the regular three-year course that was organized for the county. Its first class graduated in the spring of 1899 during the principalship of Walter T. Orr. After the towns of Shirley, Wilkinson and Willow came into existence, and after the interurban line had been constructed through the southern part of the township, there was a feeling that the school should be located at Wilkinson, where it would be more accessible. From 1903-1907 it had a full attendance. But for several years prior to 1911 the attendance at Warrington did not exceed fifteen or eighteen students, those along the car line asking to be transferred to Kennard, in Henry county. In the fall of 1911 the question of the location of the high school became acute and it became necessary for the trustee to make a decision as to whether it should remain at Warrington or be moved to Wilkinson. It was finally moved to Wilkinson, with John T. Rash as principal. The school at once had a large incoming class. Each of the successive classes has been large, and in the winter of 1915-16 the school had an attendance of about seventy-five. It was certified by the state department in 1911-12. Two additional rooms were built in 1913, and the school received its first commission during the winter of 1913-14 under the principalship of J. P. Amick. A kitchen was fully equipped for domestic science work in the fall of 1914. Three teachers are now employed in the high school.
Shirley, although a town with a population of about one thousand and two hundred, has never appointed a school board to take charge of its schools. For several years during the growth of the town, rooms were rented her and there, and schools conducted in various places. A four-room building, however, was erected in 1900, which burned during the winter of 1907-08. In 1908 the present six-room building was constructed, during the trusteeship of John S. Mooney.
Brown township has a population of 3,028, as shown by the United States census report of 1910. In the spring of 1915, 630 children between the ages of six and twenty-one years were enumerated for school purposes. There were enrolled in the schools of the township in 1914-15, 594 pupils. Of these, 62 were in the high school and 532 in the elementary grades. The average daily attendance for the year 1914-15 in the high school was 53; in the elementary grades, 404. The total cost of maintaining the elementary schools during the year was $9,209.76; the total cost of maintaining the high school during the year was $3,058.24. The total amount paid teachers for the year was $8,045. The estimated value of the school property as reported by the township trustee on August 1, 1915, was $50,000. The total assessment of taxables in the township as reported by the assessor in 1914, was $1,680,580. Ninety children were transported to school at a cost to the township of $1,487.00.
The following men have served as township trustee since the enactment of the law creating the office in 1859: William L. Garriott, 1859; Montgomery Marsh, 1861; B. F. Reeves, 1863; J. W. Trees, 1864; William Marsh, 1865; William L. Garriott, 1878; John B. Hays, 1882; John S. Orr, 1884; Benjamin F. Reeves, 1886-1888; J. C. Kennedy, 1890; P. K. May, 1894; Arthur B. Harlan, 1900; John S. Mooney, 1904; Ord Kuhn, 1908; and James C. Van Duyn, 1914.
The local courts have been presided over by the following men since the organization of the township: Barzilla Rozell, ---; Seth Walker, 1836; Robert Eakin, 1840; Benjamin F. Reeves, 1870-74; H. B. Collins, 1876; Daniel Wilkinson, 1840; Robert Eakin, 1845, 1855; A. D. Childers, 1848, 1853, 1857; Neville Reeves, 1850; Benjamin McCarty, 1858, 1862, 1866; William L. Garriott, 1862; Benjamin Reeves, 1866,1878; Alfred P. McKinsey, 1870; Joseph Garriott, 1880, 1884, 1890, 1906; William Collins, 1881; George Sowerwine, 1882-1886; John S. Thomas, 1883-84; Henry Valentine, 1888; William R. Reeves, 1888-1900; John W. Smith, 1894-1911; Sylvester Hamilton, 1901; Joseph H. C. Denman, 1903; Omer C. Tucker, 1905; Jesse W. Smith, 1906; Alfred M. Mannings, 1910.
Brown township has furnished a number of the people's servants, among whom are Lysander Sparks and William I. Garriott, auditors; George W. Ham, treasurer; Taylor W. Thomas and William G. Caldwell, sheriff; James K. King, county surveyor; Ephraim Marsh, clerk; Seth Walker, Daniel Wilkinson, Neville Reeves, John B. Hays, Moses Bates and James H. Bussell, county commissioners; Benjamin F. Reeves, representative.
Following are also the names of the persons who paid taxes in amount exceeding one hundred dollars in 1915: Thomas H. Armstrong, $119.57; American Creosoting Company, $230.60; William T. Bridges, $115.30; William A. Barrett, $141.61; John Brooks, $155,90; Lorenzo D. Cook, $221.07; Elmer Cook, $125.76; William A. Collingwood, $228.37; Meshack Collier, $184.53; Robert J. Collins, $265.52; E. J. Cranfill, $115.30; Elizabeth Copeland, $196.71; Lafayette Delph, $185.04; William S. Eakin, $233.25; William R. Gibbs, $102.71; Thomas Albea, $111.03; James H. Bussell, $109.21; William O. Bridges, $140.99; Sarah E. Braddock, $155.49; John F. Cook, $295.97; Eli Cook, $128.71; Matt F. Cook (heirs), $123.63; Charles R. Colllier, $212.04; George W. Collins, $253.14; William H. Chew, $157.73; William H. Collier, $130.74; Porter Copeland, $124.44; Della Doolittle, $103.53; Moses C. Fort (estate), $255.89; Stephen J. Harlan, $356.69; Stakely Hays (heirs), $114.69; John D. Hedrick, $223.10; John L. Hanna, $142.82; Nancy A. Judge, $140.48; George T. Johnson, $121.60; James M. Keller, $132.26; Ord W. Kuhn, $125.16; John L. Kennedy, $101.30; Frank M. Martindale, $106.17; Henry Marsh, $145.75; Jacob McDaniel, $157.88; James B. McDaniel, $150.42; James E. Nolan, $115.91; Emiline I. Paxton, $174.93; William R. Reeves, $152.84; Eli A. Richart, $226.55; J. B. and R. J. Simmons, $369.06; Charles F. Smith, $142.52; Juliette Thomas, $163.82; Taylor B. Thomas, $190.00; Charles Titus, $149.92; Warren W. Van Duyn, $106.98; Albert Walker, $241.98; William Whetsel, $149.40; Margaret Burris, $173.05; Farmers National Bank, $564.99; Jacob W. Price, $174.93; Charles A. Frash, $125.04; Guliford Kerr and wife, $103.79; Kuntz Lumber Company, $224.84; Mary E. Hays, $166.26; William Hanna, $109.01; David A. John, $100.89; Charles E. Judge, $220.37; John William Jackson, $110.75; Florence A. Kerwood, $250.30; Ira C. Kendall, $137.43; Martha F. Martindale, $356.07; Emma F. Marsh, $109.01; John Masters, $111.45; Jacob A. McDaniel, $123.53; John F. McCray, $137.94; James T. Overman, $101.89; Joseph P. Reeves, $134.18; John A. Reddick, $133.57; Raleigh F. Rigney, $180.47; Weston Summerville, $221.89; John B. Simmons, Jr., $291.27; Joseph E. Thomas, $ 171.13; Elmer E. Trees, $121.52; J. R. Titus and Sarah J. Titus, $211.94; Joseph H. Walker, $118.56; John Whisler, $338.30; Harrison Cook, $ 412.62; Elijah Martindale, $305.53; George W. Sowerine, $161.28; George W. Ham, $ 235.08; Charles Martindale, trustee, $225.77; Woodbury Glass Company, $746.29.
The Concord Baptist church is located at the northwest corner of section 22, township 17, range 89. When the township was first organized and populated some of its most prominent settlers were believers of the Hardshell Baptist faith. These pioneers worshipped regularly at the home of Stephen Harlan, and in the log barn of Moses McCray, until the erection of the first log school house in 1834 (where the McCray cemetery now stands.) This building was used for church purposes as well as for school.
On October 29, 1838, the Baptist brethren met at the home of Stephen Harlan and organized the Concord Baptist church, with the following charter members: Stephen Harland and Polly, his wife, Moses McCray and Jane, his wife, Hiram Harlan and wife, Morgan McQuery and wife, William Sparks, Jane Ross (Reeves), Jane Wilkinson, Chanty Wilson, Jacob Parkhurst. Morgan McQuery was chosen moderator and Jacob Parkhurst, clerk. They proceeded at once to erect a log church. The logs were donated by Stephen Harlan and Moses McCray, and the church was erected on a little knoll in the southwest corner of the present cemetery boundaries.
In 1855 the old log church was abandoned and a frame building, thirty-four by thirty-six feet, was erected, a little north and east of the old church site, and was dedicated in 1856 by Elder John Sparks, of Connersville.
The families of Cooks, Nolands, Abram Nibargers, Jacob B. Hamilton, Johnsons, Wrights, Isaac Hamilton, and many others had been added to the list of church members and the church flourished for twenty years thereafter. Jacob B. Hamilton, Cicero Wilkinson and William Wright were it first trustees, and John and William Sparks, of Connersville, were its first pastors. These brothers were also brothers of Polly Harlan and Jane McCray (charter members). They were highly educated Baptist ministers and possessed of much earthly goods. They were great powers in the upbuilding of this church, making the trip from their homes one or twice each month on horse back. Other ministers who labored for the church after its reorganization in 1855 were John F. Johnson, Daniel Cunningham, James F. Collier, Thomas Smith, Matthew Harlan, Samuel D. Harlan, Thomas S. Lyons, William Buckles and S. David Harlan. S. David Harlan was the last person ordained to preach in this church. This ordination occurred more than thirty years ago and was very beautiful and impressive. Very few of the pastors received pay for their services, and all but three were from Fayette and Rush counties. Nearly all of the early members of this church were originally members of the White Water association of Connersville, consequently this association often held its yearly meetings here.
Early in the seventies a Missionary Baptist church, known as the Collier church, was erected five miles north of Concord church and a great part of the Concord member ship united with the Collier organization. The older members were passing to their reward and within the space of ten years of about 1885, the church membership dropped from one hundred and twenty-five to less than forty, since which time the membership has gradually decreased until there are but two surviving members, Lealden Johnson, of Shirley, and Mrs. Sarah Cook, of Wilkinson, one of the pioneer members, who is now in her eighty-fifty year.
The silent "city of the dead," which surrounds this old church, was laid off in 1855 and many people who labored for the welfare of church and community in Brown township's early history slumber in its bosom. Caroline Mays, wife of John Mays, one of the very early pioneers, was the first person laid to rest in the original plot; the present boundaries have been extended to include the grave of a little child who froze to death on Sugar creek in 1832.
Some twenty years ago the church was remodeled by public subscription and has since been kept as a community building for any sort of public worship or endeavor. Though Baptist services are no longer held beneath its kindly shelter, its pioneer memories linger dear in the hearts of Brown township's people. The first trustees elected by the public to care for church and cemetery were Joseph McDaniel, William Chew, and Robert Collins, who served in this capacity for many years. The present trustees are Joseph McDaniel, Allen Nibarger and Guy McCullough.
A small band of Methodists held services in the vicinity of Nashville during the thirties. Among those who worshipped together were Mrs. Seth Walker, Maria Wilson, John Kennedy and wife, Elizabeth Walker, Samuel Griffith and wife, Sarah Newkirk, John Nibarger, Sarah Nibarger and Amanda Childers. These people worshipped at the residence of each other until 1839, when the men contributed of their time and built a church at Nashville.
Among those who donated labor and material were De. William Trees, Thomas W. Collins, David Noble, Samuel Griffith, John Kennedy and Set Wal;ker. They continued to worship at this church until 1856, when it became dilapidated. Services were then conducted in a school house until 1859.
For some time previous to this date another group of Methodists at Warrington had been worshipping at the house of Dr. William Trees. In 1859 these wings united and built a new church midway between Warrington and Nashville. This church, formerly called Clifton, was located at the southeast corner of section 8, township 17, range 8, where the congregation still worships. The union was effected during the pastorate of the Rev. Templeton. Among the charter members of the new congregation were also Samuel Griffith and wife, Mrs. Sarah Newkirk, Thomas Collins, Samuel Noland and wife, Lewis Stickler and wife, Jesse Collins and wife. The new church was used until July, 1881, when it burned. In 1882 a new frame house was erected. The church has a membership of about forty-five.
In the absence of records, the following pastors are called to memory: Revs. John Thomas, three years; Circle, Pierce, S. F. Harter, Pfeiffer, Wright, W. E. Loveless, Harvey, Hartman, Bright, Westhafer, Phillips, Parkenson, Crider, Oliver P. Van Wie. The church at different times has been on the Cadiz, Shirley and Markleville charges. At present it constitutes a part of the Markleville charge.
A Sunday school has been maintained for a number of years, but no record has been kept from which an accurate history can be written. At present there is an average attendance of about thirty. Four classes are maintained and most of the adult church members are in attendance. Among those who have served as superintendents of the Sunday school are, William Bridges, Philip Van Duyn, Frank Bridges, William Whetzel, Grover Van Duyn, Ella Bridges, John Collier, Walter Adams and John Morris.
Warrington is one of the old towns of the county, located on the Knightstown and Pendleton state road. The town was originally laid out by John Oldham, on October 6, 1834, the original plat consisting of forty-eight lots. A re-survey of this plat was made by Montgomery Marsh on February 1, 1865. The following additions have been made since that time:
Trees' Addition, platted on April 13, 1877, by William Trees; eight lots.
Lewis E. Trees' Addition, platted by Lewis E. Trees, September 29, 1892; twelve lots.
Margaret Trees' Addition, platted by Margaret Trees, May 18, 1898, thirteen lots.
The first post office in the vicinity was kept by Samuel Blakely at his residence on the state road a distance northwest of Warrington. Later the office was moved to the town. Before the railroad was built through Wilkinson, the mail was delivered by the Knightstown and Anderson stage, which made a trip over the road daily. Freight was brought from Knightstown and Anderson, principally from Knightstown. Since the construction of the railroad, mail is brought daily from Wilkinson.
Warrington is centrally located in Brown township. For many years there were no surrounding towns of any prominence and Warrington became the metropolis of that part of the country. Though the resident population of the town was small, its trading population twenty and twenty-five years ago extended in all directions for a distance of six or eight miles. It was one of those little country towns to which people came for miles to trade. Among the early business men were John Sparks, Robert Eakin, James K. King, J. R. Trees, Barzilla Rozell, Fergusin & Goble, Seward & McComas and Montgomery Marsh. Tharpe & Brother engaged in the merchandise business there almost a half century ago. H. C. Garriott in 1874 opened a store that was conducted by himself and his son, William I. Garriott, for almost twenty-five years. The present merchants are James B. Clark and W. E. Albea. Charles W. Zedekar owns the blacksmith shop.
Very early in the history of Warrington, about 1856, a lodge of Masons was organized. Among the early members were James K. King, Lysander Sparks, James McCray, William G. Caldwell, Thomas Walker, Andrew Vandyke, James Daugherty, Ananias Conklin, W. P. White, Moses Cottrell, J. A. McDaniel, John Vandyke, William Marsh and F. L. Seward. In 1866 the lodge room burned and the charter was surrendered.
Warrington Lodge, No. 411, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized May 21, 1873, with the following charter members: William Trees, J. D. Newkirk, J. G. Trees, William Kenyon and Henry C. Garriott. The lodge grew to a membership of about forty during the early eighties and owned its own hall. With the growth of Wilkinson and Shirley, new lodges were organized. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows emblem any still be seen on the old hall at Warrington. The members of the Odd Fellows lodge consolidated with the Wilkinson lodge about ten years ago.
Friendship Lodge No. 138, Daughters of Rebekah, was organized at Warrington on December 16, 1874. Its charter members were Henry C. Garriott, Matilda Trees, William Kenyon., A. M. Smith, J. D. Newkirk, Dr. C. C. Loder, Jennie Loder, William H. Power, Sarah Newkirk, William Trees, John Miller and M. L. Miller.
Warrington Lodge No. 531, Free and Accepted Masons, was organized at Warrington May 22, 1877, with the following charter members: William G. Cauldwell, Henry B. Wilson, William H. Hays, Robert Blakely, William Marsh, J. A. Hamilton, F. M. Graham, John Vandyke and A. C. Walton. It owned its own lodge room and had a membership of twenty-five or thirty during the eighties.
A Red Men's lodge was also organized a few years ago, but has since been moved to Wilkinson.
For several years no lodge meetings have been held at Warrington by any of the orders.
The United Brethren class at Warrington was organized about 1859, and worshipped for ten or twelve years at Zion's chapel. In 1872 the congregation erected a neat frame building at Warrington at a cost of two thousand and four hundred dollars. The money was raised by public donations. The church was built of native timber which was prepared by the Warrington Saw-mill Company, who donated the sawing. The owners of the saw-mill were Thomas Armstrong, John Tharpe, Littleton Davis and Frank Rock. The seats were of ash taken from the farm of Joseph Baer. They were sawed at the Warrington mill and then taken to Knightstown to be planed. The lot on which the church stands was purchased from John Trees at the cost of one hundred dollars. The contractor was James Pratt, of Charlottesville, Indiana. The church was dedicated by Bishop Edwards in 1872. The first trustees were John Bridges, Thomas Armstrong and John Trees. Among the older members of the congregation were John and Elizabeth Trees, E. J. Kennedy and wife, Rebecca Armstrong, Elizabeth Holliday, Thomas and Mary Armstrong, John and Elizabeth Bridges, Ross and Sarah A. Gard, Joe Baer and wife, John and Emma Thorp, Maria Delph, Joel and Emily Cook, John and Rebecca Rigor, Lewis and Louisa Copeland, Mary Brown, Jerry Martin and wife.
Following were some of the pastors of the church: Revs. Halleck Floyd, William Gossett, Milo Bailey, W. C. Day, Phelix Denumbrum, D. E. Johnson, A. Myers, M. F. Dawson, John Seelig, William Griffin, Grover White and E. Edrington.
A Sunday school has been maintained in the church for a number of years. Following are a number of the person who have served as superintendent of the school: J. T. Roberts, M. F. Dawson, A. C. Wilmore, Rebecca Armstrong, Elizabeth Bridges, Louisa Copeland, Littleton Davis, Martecia Carter, Minervia Armstrong, Clema Delph, Omer Tucker, and Earl Albea, the latter being superintendent at this time. The church belongs to the Liberal branch of the united Brethren organization.
In the old log school building which stood on the present site of the McCray cemetery, and through the efforts of John McCray and his wife, Mary Frances (Brown) McCray, a band of brothers and sisters met in the year 1855 and organized the first Christian church in Brown township. There were twelve charter members: John McCray and his wife, Moses McCray, Martha and Nancy McCray, Isaac and Catharine Smith, and their daughter, Mary, Kitty Ann and Nancy Garner, Mrs. Garner, their mother, and Mrs. Penina Slaughter. John McCray was chosen elder, Isaac Smith, deacon, and Mary Frances (Brown) McCray, clerk. This little band grew in grace and in the nurture of the Lord and occasionally added another to its list of members. For more than twenty years they met in the log school house until it was no more, then at the residence of John McCray, or in the Warrington school house.
The ministers who preached for this pioneer band were Isaac Snodgrass, Isaac Lowe, Aaron Walker and David Franklin. Moses McCray, John McCray and Mary Frances (Brown) McCray were able exhorters. John McCray supported the early preachers when they were in his midst and gave liberally of his earthly store when they were ready to depart.
In the winter of 1876-77 a union meeting was held in the United Brethren church in Warrington. Elders Floyd, Day, Davenport, Gossett, Halstead, Gronendyke and Freeman expounded the United Brethren and Methodist faith, while Robert Edmundson, John McCray, and occasionally David Franklin, expostulated on the Bible according to the views of the Christian church. Each day and night for six weeks these men extended the invitation for followers of Christ to unite with the Christian church, and many people answered the call and were baptized by Robert Edmundson or others. This meeting had a broad and telling effect on the people of the community, and materially strengthened the membership of the little band of believers organized twenty years prior to this date. Out of this great religious effort grew the idea of erecting a Christian church. Accordingly, on March 2, 1877, John and Mary Frances (Brown) McCray, father and mother of the Christian church in Brown township, again called a meeting of the old organization and all the new members and organized the Warrington Christian church.
John McCray, who death occurred on May 10, 1915, was the last of the twelve charter members that organized the church in 1855. His sister, Martha McCray McDaniel, preceded him in death a few weeks.
The charter members of the Warrington Christian church were: John McCray, Mary Frances (Brown) McCray, Martha (McCray) McDaniel, Nancy (McCray) Vandenbark, Penia Slaughter, Kitty Ann (Garner) Sparks, Mary (Smith) Cory, Newton Martindale, Jane Martindale, Margaret Martindale, John White, Temperance White, John Vandyke, Elsie Stewart Vandyke, Alice Holliday, Alice Collins, Tabitha Johnson, Edith Johnson, Anderson Johnson, Absalom Coon, Mary Jane Coon, George Coon, James Gilmore, Mary Gilmore, Mary J. McCray (Reeves), Alice McCray (Hanna), E. C. Martindale, Sarah Jane Martindale, William R. Reeves, Cyrus N. Reeves, Sarah M. Reeves (Gibbs) Laura Reeves (Jones), Melvina Johnson, John Nelson, Emma Nelson (Marsh), Janie Nelson, Belle Nelson, Sophrona Tucker, Martha Wellborn, Ella Wellborn (Brandenburg), Adda Wellborn (Ritenour), Henry C. Garriott, Eliza A. Garriott, William H. Powers, Sarah M. Powers, Rachel Ross, Mary Jane Ross, Dr. C. C. Loder, Jennie Loder, Allen York and family, Jennie Sypole, Elsie Thomas, Calvin Thomas, Keziah Hayes (Hardy), Barbara Coon (Windsor), Alexander Eakin, Willie Smith, the only child member. John McCray and Newton Martindale were chosen elders, John Vandyke and C. C. Loder, deacons, and H. C. Garriott, clerk.
The erection of the building was immediately planned, and the little village of Warrington, old almost as the township, and already the seat of the United Brethren church, was soon to claim a frame structure thirty-six by fifty-four feet, with a seating capacity of four hundred and fifty, at a cost of one thousand six hundred and fifty dollars. The brotherhood responded willingly to the call for money. Six hundred dollars was paid by John McCray and wife. The house was dedicated to God on December 25, 1877. The pastors of the church were Wiley F. Ackman, 1877-78-79; David Franklin, 1880-81; Cornelius Quick, 1882; Newton Wilson, 1887-88; A. M. Weston, 1889; George Mayfield Shutts, 1890; Thomas Hall, 1891; E. Moore, 1892; Robert Howe, 1893-94; Esom Hammond, 1895-96; D. W. Campbell, 1897-98; George Wagoner, 1899; Thomas Mitchell Wiles, 1900; D. W. Campbell 1901-02; T. H. Kuhn, 1903; Carl Van Winkle, 1904; Omer Hufford, 1905-6-7; no regular pastor, 1908; ---Wallers, 1909; Frank Summer, 1910-11-12-13.
The following persons have served the church in the capacity of elders; John McCray, Newton Martindale, William R. Gibbs, Ord W. Kuhn, Riley Titus; deacons, John Vandyke, C. C. Loder, E. C. Martindale, Frank Martindale, J. P. Reeves, James Clark, Will Jackson, Albert Armstrong; trustees, John Mc Cray, John White, E. C. Martindale, W. I. Garriott, James Clark. Clerks, Mary Frances McCray, H. C. Garriott, William R. Reeves and Ward Martindale.
On March 14, 1915, most of the active members of this church abandoned it, uniting with the church at Wilkinson, where a beautiful edifice had been erected two years previous to this date.
The few remaining members whose love for the church in which they first worshipped is great are hoping to be renewed in strength and number under the pastorate of Elder Omer Hufford.
Among the physicians who have been engaged in the practice at Warrington are William Trees, Logan Wallace, Aaron Gregg, William Reed, C. C. Loder, R. D. Hanna, Elbert Johnson and Charles Titus. The last was Dr. Titus, who removed to Wilkinson just a few years ago. At present Warrington is without a physician.
About 1894-95 several men in the vicinity of Warrington associated themselves together for the purpose of building a race track and promoting races. The track was built southwest of the Knightstown and Pendleton road, and was located almost directly west of the town of Warrington. An amphitheater was constructed and for five or six years races were held at the track each summer. Large crowds were brought to Warrington and the business of the town was widely advertised. It was during the nineties, probably, that Warrington saw its palmy days. Among the men who were interested in the race track were Dr. R. D. Hanna, William A. Justice, William I. Garriott, Dr. Charles Titus, Porter Copeland, J. C. Masters, William Risk, James H. Bussell, Lewis Trees, and probably others.
Nashville was originally laid out by John Kennedy and Daniel Blakeley on December 30, 1834. The original survey consisted of thirty-two lots. The town was located on the Knightstown and Pendleton state road where that road crosses Sugar creek. In its early history some business was done there. Stores and blacksmith shops have been maintained and among the early business men were Elijah Thornburgh, Allen White and others. William I. Davis was granted a license at the March term, in 1847, by the board of commissioners to keep a tavern at Nashville. But the stores disappeared years ago. The blacksmith shops survived them for a number of years, but at present only a few old houses are left and most of the lines between the original thirty-two lots have been obliterated.
The Maple Grove church was organized in August, 1891, with the following charter members: Charles Bray and wife, William Cass and wife, I. J. Kennedy and wife, John Bridge and wife, Mrs. George Powers, J. H. Kennedy and wife, George Whistler, Joseph Collingwood and wife, Ezra Collingwood and wife, Mrs. Lon Wellborn, Mrs. Stephen Bales, Nancy Brooks, John Trees and wife, Herschel Hamilton and wife, and John Keller. It was at one time a part of the United Brethren church at Warrington. A question arose in the United Brethren church throughout Indiana and other states as to whether persons belonging to secret orders should be admitted as members. A division followed, of which one wing became known as the Liberals, the other as the Radicals; the Liberal wing of this particular congregation, favoring the admission of such persons as members of the church, retained the used of the old church at Warrington for services. The Radical wing, which is represented by this church, held its meetings at the Christian church at Warrington, Breckenridge school house and at Zion's chapel.
In 1894 the congregation erected a neat frame church at Nashville. The house was built by I. J. Kennedy. The building committee was composed of Rev. John Breece, I. H. Kennedy, John Trees, Herschel Hamilton and Charles Bray. It was dedicated on June 17, 1894, the services being conducted by Rev. Halleck Floyd and Rev. John Breece. The church trustees at the time of the construction of the new building and for several years following were Herschel Hamilton, John M. Trees and I. J. Kennedy. The church was blown down on Jun e 25, 1902, but was rebuilt during the following summer by William H. Powers, contractor. The new church was dedicated by Rev. Thomas E. Kinnaman and Rev. John A. Rector. The average attendance at services for the past several years has been about forty-five. A Sunday school was organized in July, 1894, and has an average attendance of thirty-five. Five classes are organized and many of the adult members of the church are in attendance. Following are the persons who have acted as superintendents of the Sunday school: Will Cass, John Rozzell, Elmer Trees, Ed Jackson, Austin Smith, George Powers and Homer Collins.
The following are also the names of the pastors who have served the congregation since its organization: John Rector, 1891; John Reece, 1893-95; James Rector, 1895-98; A. J. Stanley, 1898-99; Robert Harlow, 1899-1900; Charles Rector, 1900-01; Thomas E. Kinnaman, 1901-03; Charles Bray, 1903-04; Abraham Rust, 1904-05; Everett Chalfant, 1905; James A. Rector,---; William Whetsel,---; Arlie Collins, 1909-10; Halleck Floyd, 1910-11; Abraham Rust, 1911-12; Charles Bray, 1912-13; Elias Levi, 1913-14; Lawrence Thornburg, 1914-15; James A. Rector, 1915-16.
As early as 1854 Jonathan Smith, who owned the southeast quarter of section 35, township 16, range 7, in Green township, established a store and a postoffice along the north line of his farm a short distance west of the township line. The postoffice was named Willow Branch and was maintained by Mr. Smith for a number of years. In 1874 Austin B. Thomas engaged in the merchandise business on the site of the present town of Willow. The postoffice was moved to his store and he remained postmaster for a number of years. After the railroad had been constructed the town began to grow. Among the business men of the place have been Austin B. Thomas, A. W. Hammer, W. H. Wellborn, Patterson & Williams, merchants; Oren S. Record and Henry Johns, hardware and implement dealers; Henry Kenyon, J. N. Spegal, Fred Gates, Frank Snipe & Son, blacksmiths.
About twelve years ago Andrew J. and Thomas H. New built the elevator, which they sold to I. H. Kinder, and which is now operated by the Collingwood Brothers. About 1906 a tile factory was established just east of the town by Fred Wicker and Earle Frost. It is now operated by Herschell Hutchins.
The postoffice was first known as Willow Branch and the town was platted as Willow Branch by Austin B. Thomas on April 21, 1882, the original plat consisting of fifty-six lots. One addition of forty-eight lots was made to the town by Julia A. Thomas on October 13, 1886. During the nineties the name of the postoffice was changed to Willow.
A United Brethren congregation at Willow was organized in 1889. During the summer of that year they purchased the Pleasant Hill Methodist Episcopal church building and moved it to Willow. In June, 1889, the building had been remodeled and the people began worshipping in it. Among the families who belonged to the church were the Collins, Bakers, Valentines, Mills, Fletchers and Humbles. The pastors serving the congregation were the Revs. Roberts, Hunt, Veal, Wyant, Rice, and Martin. No Sunday school was conducted. Services ceased to be held about 1895-96.
The early history of this church has been given as a part of the Pleasant Hill Methodist Episcopal church in Jackson township. The congregation worshipped in that house until in the spring of 1889. Among the families who were interested in the removal of the site to the town of Willow were the Hustons, Staleys, Forts, Thomases, Paxtons, Babcock, Mouldens and Ryons. The lot for the church was donated by A. B. Thomas and wife. The building committee was composed of Lucian Thomas, Martin Thomas, John R. Thomas, Jr., Moses Fort and Jasper Moulden. The house was completed at a cost of two thousand and seven hundred dollars and was dedicated on February 19, 1889.At different times the church has belonged to the Charlottesville, Maxwell and Shirley circuits. Among the pastors who have served the congregation, and who are well remembered by the people, are the Revs. Slack, Bowers, Ruley, Pierce, Albertson, Loveless, Duryee and Anderson. The congregation at present has a membership of about seventy-five. The average attendance at church services if from forty to fifty. Many of the adult members of the church are also in the Sunday school, which has an average attendance of about sixty-five. Among those who have taken an active interest in the Sunday school during the past years are Messrs. Thomas, Higgins, Paxton, Fort, Sherry and Collins. A Woman's Foreign Missionary Society has been organized in the church with twenty-seven members.
The original plat of Wilkinson was surveyed by Elnathan and Thomas B. Wilkinson on January 16, 1883, consisting of thirty-two lots. Since that time the following additions have been made thereto:
Vandenbark's Addition, platted by Benjamin H. Cook, William Kenyon, E. B. Byrket, J. H. Pennington, J. W. S. Graves, W. G. Bridges and P. K. May, July 20, 1893; forty lots.
South Addition, platted by Jonathan A. Ayers, trustee, November 19, 1900; thirty-two lots.
Vandenbark's Second Addition, platted by Moses W. Vandenbark in October, 1900; twenty-seven lots.
P. K. May's Addition, platted by P. K. May, April 8, 1901; sixteen lots.
Wilkinson has grown up since the construction of the railroad through that point. The discovery of gas gave the town quite a boom when several factories were located there, among them being two glass factories.
Wilkinson has two rural free delivery routes, established September 1, 1902 and May 1, 1903, respectively.
Wilkinson was not incorporated until 1914. On January 28 of that year a petition was filed with the county board of commissioners of Hancock county asking for the incorporation of Wilkinson as a town. This petition was signed by John W. Garriott, Walker S. Reeves, James F. Miller, J. L. Justice, John Yeider, Claude R. Woods, J. E. Price, W. H. Julian, Earl R. Gibbs, L. L. Cooper, J. P. Cooper, John C. Wood, Milton Collins, W. L. Collins, E. C. Martindale, George W. Sowerwine, W. S. Crum, William W. Gipe, David M. Moore, Albert Armstrong, R. H. Yelton, Joseph Smith, Clarence Jones, A. Paxton, D. M. Cooper, William M. Valentine, Ward Keller, Guy L. Reeves,. L. L. Scudder, A. E. Nicely, Walter Apple, J. S. Smith, Clarence Walker, R. E. Chapman, J. T. Overman, V. T. Chapman, George W. Julian, Claud Davy, John Vanmeter, Wiley Tuterow, George E. Clouds, R. F. Gray, J. C. Cooper, A. L. Mogle, John A. Wisehart, Evert Hawkins, E. C. Wisehart, Charles Wisehart, Charles Walker, Emma L. Justice, Mary C. Scudder, Minnie Valentine and Della K. Gibbs.
The petition showed that the town contained three hundred and forty residents, of whom one hundred and two were qualified voters. The board of commissioners at their February meeting, 1914, set the 18th day of February, 1914, as the time for an election to determine whether the town should be incorporated. Ninety-one votes were cast, fifty-seven being in favor of the incorporation and thirty-four against it. Upon receiving the report of this election the board of commissioners on February 21, 1914, ordered the town incorporated under the name of Wilkinson. An election was immediately held at which the following men were elected as the town's first officers: John C. Garriott, clerk; Dr. Earl R. Gibbs, treasurer; K. C. Garriott, marshal; Dr. Julian, health officer; S. C. Staley, John Cooper and Matt F. Cook, trustees. S. C. Staley was the first president of the board of trustees.
On May 12, 1886, Wilkinson was partially destroyed by a cyclone, in which Glenn Smith, little son of John Smith, also Samuel White, who resided just east of the town, were killed, and Mr. White's daughter was seriously injured. Wilkinson was also visited by the storm of June 25, 1902, in which one glass factory was blown down and several men seriously injured, tow of them dying from the effects of their injuries.
The Farmers National Bank was organized at Wilkinson on November 21, 1908, with a capital stock of twenty-five thousand dollars. Its first officers were S. C. Staley, president; George Sowerwine, vice-president; Jesse F. Evans, cashier. The present officers are George W. Sowerwine, president; J. B. Simmons, vice-president; S. C. Staley, cashier; Robert I. Marsh, attorney; S. C. Staley, George W. Sowerwine, John W. Wales, W. H. Simmons, J. B. Simmons, R. S. N. Oldham and J. F. Evans, directors. The bank's capital and surplus now amount to thirty-five thousand dollars.
Its stockholders are Lucy Manlove, Margaret Burris, Harrison K. Cook, Elmer Cook, Nancy V. Cook, Mary C. Cook, John F. Collins, D. M. Cooper, Jesse F. Evans, John W. S. Groves, Amos Hill, Lawrence Kennedy, W. R. Kennedy, Emma Kendall, Morning Star Lodge, Knights of Pythias; I. H. Meredith, Etta Maxwell, William Noland, R. S. N. Oldham, J. E. Noland, S. C. Staley, George W. Sowerwine, Mary Scudder, John D. Simmons, William H. Simmons, Susie Tulley and John W. Wales.
Morning Star Lodge No. 136, Knights of Pythias, was instituted at Wilkinson on February 16, 1886, with twenty charter members. The lodge held its meetings in several different rooms until 1892, when a hall known as "Public Hall" was purchased and occupied until 1914. At that time a trade was made with the Improved Order of Red Men. The lodge now owns its own building, composed of the lodge room and one business room. It also owns six shares of stock in the Farmers National Bank at Wilkinson. The estimated value of its property is five thousand dollars. Its membership at the close of 1915 was one hundred and sixty-two.
The Pythian Sisters at one time maintained a lodge, but they have surrendered their charter.
Evening Star Lodge No. 503, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was moved to Wilkinson from Maple Valley in 1886. It now has about seventy members.
Wilkinson also had several other lodges. The Good Templars instituted a lodge in 1886. The Daughters of Rebekah organized in February, 1896. The Red Men also maintain an organization.
The first service of the Protestant Episcopal church in Brown Township was held in Loudenback's hall, Wilkinson, on the evening of August 26, 1885, by the Rev. Willis D. Engle, of Indianapolis. Wilkinson then numbered about one hundred inhabitants and was without a house of worship, although the Friends had secured pledges toward a building, which was erected in the spring of 1887.
On September 15, 1885, the gift of a lot was secured upon condition that a church building be erected thereon within three years, T. B. and Nathan Wilkinson, of Knightstown, being the donors. In 1887 the work of church construction was begun. William H. Power was superintendent of the carpenter work and Hugh Carmichael of the stone work. The building material was furnished by S. P. Jennings, of New Castle.
Mr. Engle continued semi-monthly meetings from August, 1885, until September 23, 1887, when the corner stone for the church was laid with a beautiful ceremony, conducted by Rev. W. D. Engle and Bishop Knickerbacker, D. D., of Indianapolis.
On January 25, 1888, the building was dedicated in an impressive manner as St. Mary's church by Rev. Engle and a company of his brethren in the faith from Newcastle and Indianapolis. For a number of years religious services were held regularly in this church, but having failed to secure one member who accepted the faith according to the Episcopal belief, the church was finally abandoned and later sold to the Christian church.
The Friends church at Wilkinson was organized in 1885 under the Rev. William Watts, after revival meetings held by Revs. Seth Stafford and Clark Hosier. Following were the charter members: Lorenzo D. Cook, Elizabeth Cook, Lorenzo W. Forbes, Lydia Forbes, Cicero Hardin, wife and daughter, Hezekiah Wilkinson, wife and four children, Peter Hammer, wife and four children, Newton Hammer, Clayton Perkins and wife. Soon after the organization forty more members were added.
Among the pastors have been the Revs. Seth Stafford, Clark Hosier, Oliver Gotshell, Isaiah Jay, Alice Lawrence, Benjamin Hutchens, Sarah Healey and Oliver Beeson. For some time past the average attendance at church services has been about fifty.
A Sunday school was organized in 1886. At present four classes are maintained with an average attendance of about fifty. Adult members of the church attend Sunday school. Among the Sunday school superintendents have been Lorenzo Forbes, Ren Julian, Reuben Overman and Alton Dotson.
The church is a frame building with a seating capacity of about two hundred and fifty. It was dedicated in 1886 by Willliam Watts. The men serving on the building committee were Lorenzo Forbes, Asa James and Lorenzo D. Cook.
Weekly prayer services have been held ever since the organization of the church. The congregation has one of the best records in the county in giving pastors and Christian workers to the religious cause. It now has sixty-five members.
The Church of Christ, at Wilkinson, was temporarily organized on January 1, 1889. On that date a number of the members who had been worshipping at the Christian church at Warrington, met at the town hall, at Wilkinson, for the purpose of organizing another congregation because of the inconvenience of attending church at Warrington. On March 11, 1889, the church was permanently organized under the direction of Elder Charles Blackman who served as pastor for the ensuing year. The charter members were John W. White, Leannah F. White, Henry C. Garriott, Eliza A. Garriott, A. P. Combs, Rachel Combs, Eunice E. Woolen, Eliza Boyer, John Mingle, Sarah Mingle, Clayton Perkins, Sarah Perkins, George W. Coon, Eliza Coon, George W. Keck, John L. Carpenter, Nannie Carpenter, Ira C. Kendall, Emma F. Kendall, W. H. Power, Sarah M. Power, Ollie Lindsey, Alice McNatt, John W. Smith, A. L. Mogle, Jane Mogle, A. J. Reeves, William Keck, Charlotte Keck, A. F. Coon, Mark Coon, Catherine Coon, Sarah Coon, Benjamin H. Cook, John A. Wisehart, Myrtle Combs Wisehart, Jane Brewer, Charles Combs, Clara Brown, Laura E. Copper, William A. Woolen, Viola Ham, Frank E. Garriott, Allen Garriott, Frances McCray, Josie Garfield, Samuel L. Deck, George W. Sowerwine, C. F. Brower, Elsie Armstrong, Jesse Orr, Zora E. Ham, Alva Coon, Henry Gipe and Ann Gipe.
During the first year of the organization meetings were held in the Episcopal church at Wilkinson. The congregation, however, was constructing a new church and on December 29, 1889, Elder Thomas H. Kuhn, by a masterful sermon, secured the necessary pledges for the payment of the entire church debt and the new church was dedicated to the service of God. Mark A. Collins was the first pastor and began his labors on the following Sunday morning. The arrangement of this house was not entirely satisfactory, and after a period of ten years it was abandoned by the congregation and sold. Services were again held for a time at the Episcopal church, which had also been abandoned by its promoters. This house was then bought by the congregation and kept as a place of worship until it became dilapidated. The congregation then planned a new church. B. F. Hufford served as architect and builder and a beautiful and commodious house was erected. This church was dedicated on March 2, 1913, through the efforts of J. V. Coombs and the regular pastor, C. E. Schultz. The first Sunday school was organized on January 1, 1889, with B. H. Cook as superintendent. On March 11, 1889, when the church had been permanently organized, the Sunday school was re-organized and George W. Sowerwine elected superintendent, who served in this official capacity for five years.
About 1894 the church became disorganized; preaching services were held only occasionally for four or five years, and for several years no Sunday school was conducted. In 1900 the school was again re-organized. Guy Reeves was chosen superintendent, who at the end of one year was succeeded by George W. Sowerwine, who has now acted as superintendent for fifteen years or more. During the twenty-five years of the life of the Sunday school it has grown from an average attendance of probably forty to an average attendance of perhaps eighty. Many of the adult members of the church are also members of the Sunday school.
The first officers of the church were Elders H. C. Garriott and John W. White; deacons, A. P. Combs and Ira C. Kendall; clerk, George W. Sowerwine; treasurer, Benjamin F. Cook. The church at present has a membership of one hundred and sixty-five. The following men have served the church as pastors; Charles Blackman, 1889-90; Mark A. Collins, 1890-91; Aaron Walker, 1891; A. W. Jackman, September, 1891-94; David Gary (occasionally), 1894-98; A. J. Cheesman, 1890-1900; R. L. Handy, 1900-02; Carl Vanwinkle, 1902-09; Omer Hufford and B. F. Daily, occasionally, 1909-1912; C. E. Schultz, 1912-14; J. P. Myers, 1914-15; Frank Summer, 1915-16.
The Methodist Episcopal church in Wilkinson was organized in 1891, under the pastorate of Rev. Perry E. Powell. It was organized with eight charter members, some of whom were Mr. and Mrs. Emslie Julian, Mary Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. Creteress. The people of this church worshipped with the Friends in their church until 1912. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Oliver VanWie that his people saw a new vision and got an idea of doing things on a larger scale. Under the able and worthy leadership of this pastor the people got together and decided that if they were to take care of their people as they should that they must have a church. In 1911 they began to build the Methodist Episcopal church, and on April 14, 1912, it was dedicated by Rev. W. D. Parr. The church cost about six thousand dollars. It is a beautiful church and well fitted to house the congregation for some time to come. The present membership is seventy-eight.
There is a break in the pastors from 1893-95. Perry E. Powell, 1891-93; S. F. Harter, 1895-96; F. W. Sandifur, April, 1896 to November 1896; L. P. Pfiefer, November 1896-98; E. E. Wright, 1898-1900; M. M. Reynolds, 1900-02; B. F. Hornaday, 1902--03; F. B. Westhafer, 1903-05; G. Hartman Bright, 1905-06; W. F. Loveless, 1906-08; John Phillips, 1908-11; Oliver VanWie, 1911-13; C. W. Anderson, 1913-16.
The Methodist Sunday school as a distinct organization from the Friends commenced in the spring of 1912, with A. C. Faurot as superintendent and he has continued in this capacity ever since. The average attendance is seventy-eight. There are seven classes. The adult member of the church generally attend the Sunday school.
The McCray cemetery is located on the east side of the old state road, a short distance northwest of Wilkinson. Soon after Moses McCray settled in Brown township, in 1833, a beautiful girl who resided with her parents several miles to the northward ran away from her father's home in company with her sister, to keep a tryst with a young man whom she was to marry. The evening set for the elopement was bitter cold, and the snow was deep and falling fast. The girl, faithful to her promise, reached the spot where the McCray cemetery is now located, where she was supposed to met her lover. He believed the weather to be too severe for the girl to venture out and failed to meet her. She and her sister crawled into a hollow log to await his coming, but morning dawned upon the frozen corpse of the bride-to-be. The sister lived long enough to tell the tale to Moses McCray, whose house was only a few rods distant, and who found their frozen bodies. Mr. McCray laid the body to rest on the spot where she died. He carefully protected her grave, and the following year built a school house nearby. In 1837 his own daughter, Sara, died and he buried her near the grave of the faithful girl lover. He then laid off, fenced and cleared the ground, and gave to the public the cemetery which bears his mane, and where his own body rests. For thirty yeas he was trustee of the cemetery. He was succeeded by his son, John McCray, who gave the trusteeship to Robert Slaughter about fifteen years ago. Mr. Slaughter has been an efficient trustee, and with the help of the interest public has converted this pioneer cemetery into a beautiful burial spot.
The Busy Housewives' Club was organized at the home of Mrs. J. F. Smith on February 4, 1915. It was organized by the ladies of Wilkinson for the purpose of promoting interest in needlecraft and for social development. The club meets in the homes of the members on every second Thursday afternoon. The club is not identified or federated with any other clubs of the county.
The Sunshine Club of Wilkinson was organized in August, 1914, and has sixteen members. It is not a member of either the county or state federation, but is conducted on the same plan with officers and executive committee. A well-arranged program is prepared, consisting of miscellaneous topics, such as domestic science, current events, Indiana history, Bible lessons, music, and care and education of children. The club meets on the third Thursday of each month, devoting the entire afternoon to the program aside from the time required to partake of the tempting refreshments the hospitable hostess has prepared. The club colors are pink and white. All the members are true bearers of their motto, "Scatter Sunshine."
The Wilkinson Band was organized by Aubrey M. Thomas on June 7, 1915. It meets for practice at the town of Wilkinson and is composed of the following members: William White, Herman Cook, Elmer Hasler, Ward Julian, Ward Blakely, Arthur Harlan, Earl Johns and Lawrence Kennedy, clarinets; Glen Johns, Roy Hassler, Ray Owens, Forest Yetter, Mattie Cook, Ferris Woods, Chester Kimmerly, cornets; Russel Yetter, Barren Cooper, Elmer Blake, Lawrence Johns and Fay Masters, altos; Russel Orr, Robert Blakely, tenors; Hoyt Blakely, Melborne Allee, Willie Judkins, Bertie Kuhn, slide trombones; R. D. Masters and Joe Bird, baritones; Virgil Whetsell and Clarence Walker, tubas; Harvey Williams, bass drum; Charlie Kimmerly and Glen Woods, snare drums.
The band has not yet purchased uniforms, but is getting well started and is preparing to play through the coming campaign. Mr. Thomas, the director, has had a long experience with bands and is an accomplished cornetist. For the past year or two he has also directed on orchestra that has played for several of the commencements in the county.
The probability of a town became evident when the Cincinnati, Wabash & Michigan railway, now a branch of the Big Four, was constructed across the east end of Brown township, in 1890. The original survey of the town was made by John W. White and Sylvester Hamilton, in October, 1890, and consisted of twenty-three lots in Hancock county and a number in Henry county. Since that time the following additions have been made:
John W. White's First Addition, platted by John W. White, May 14, 1894; forty-four lots.
Trustee's Addition, platted by George W. Sowerwine, trustee, May 21, 1896; seven hundred and ninety-eight lots.
Kuntz & Higi's Addition, platted by Shirley Lumber Company and Charles P. Kuntz, November 4, 1899; seven lots.
Only two buildings were erected in 1890, the residence of John Larimore and a blacksmith shop. C. L. Storer built a saw-mill, which was destroyed later by fire. In 1891 B. F. Taylor erected another residence and a business room, which he used for a grocery. The postoffice was also located in this building and Taylor became the first postmaster. In 1892 Joseph Steffey built a residence and John W. White erected a stone building on the corner of Main and Center streets. Among the very early comers were George F. Fouty, druggist, and J. W. Kitterman, dry goods and groceries.
The county line road, running north and south between Hancock and Henry counties, became Main street. It was still a dirt road and soon became impassable, dangerous even for travel on horseback. About 1892 a movement began for an improvement of this street by graveling it. The work was accomplished under the law providing for improvement of highways by levying assessments on adjoining properties. A few more houses were erected before 1895, but the town was virtually at a standstill until that time. In that year the C. P. Kuntz Lumber Company was organized and began doing a large business. It burned in 1900. Beginning with 1895 and following, a number of lots were sold and about thirty buildings were constructed. Among them were the residences of A. C. Van Duyn, now an attorney of Greenfield; Frank E. Garriott, later deputy county auditor of Hancock county; A. S. Houck, Dr. Ralph Wilson, E. W. Varner, L. L. Camplin, W. L. Byrket and Shaw Brothers. Among the business men who had established themselves by this time were George E. Fouty and Frank E. Garriott, general merchants; A. S. Houck, druggist; H. S. Wales, hardware; John Lisher, meat market; Shaw Brothers, livery stable; Joseph Steffey, blacksmith, and George Craig, barber. A local newspaper was also established, known as the Shirley Enterprise, which was published for two or three years. In the meantime the streets had been graded and street lamps had been placed at the principal street corners.
On October 11, 1898, a petition was presented to the board of commissioners of Hancock county, asking that the town be incorporated under the name of Shirley. This petition was singed by S. S. Houck, A. Sherry, E. M. Johnson, William A. Johnson, Samuel Smith, James Allison, A. C. VanDuyn, Allen Robinson, E. M. Warrick, Samuel Price, J. E. Larimore, Joseph Robinson, F. E. Mauck, William Croank, G. C. Shaw, Frank Gebhart, John F. Warrick, Benjamin L. Byrkett, James Robinson, C. F. Wilkinson, Ike Larimore, Thomas Crouch, J. L. Shumaker, C. A. Franklin, W. O. Newton, F. E. Shaw, Charles E. Snider, Charles F. Metsch, Dan Ulner, Clinton Ridgeway, W. G. Burns, B. F. Taylor and W. T. Baker.
The board of commissioners ordered an election held on October 22, 1898, to give the qualified voters an opportunity of determining whether the town should be incorporated. Twenty-seven votes were cast in favor of incorporating, thirteen against it. A report of the election was made and the board of commissioners on December 13, 1898, ordered the town incorporated under the name of Shirley. At the first election for town officers held May 1, 1899, the following men were elected: B. L. Byrkett, clerk; Henry S. Wales, treasurer; Isaac Cronk, marshal; Milton D. Masters, Joseph Steffey and Sylvester Hamilton, trustees.
In 1899 B. F. Martindale purchased from Robert Martindale all his holdings in Shirley. He then invited Messrs. Shell, Miller and Litzenberger to establish a glass factory in the town. They agreed on condition of receiving as a bonus a plat of ground, a gas well, and one thousand dollars in cash. These conditions were met and a bottle factory was put into operation according to contract. It was at first difficult to get dwellings and sufficient business rooms. Later in the fall of that year he also erected the bank building and donated about one-half of the first year's rent as an inducement to have a bank locate in the town. M. E. Woods accepted his offer and established the Bank of Shirley, which stands on the Henry county side of the street. In 1900 the Banner glass factory was organized, with D. Gabrielle, president; Louis Waterloo, secretary, and John Lafever, treasurer. To secure this factory Mr. Martindale again guaranteed a bonus of one thousand dollars in cash and a gas well. Three hundred and fifty dollars of the cash bonus was subscribed by citizens of Shirley. This factory gave Shirley an increase of about five hundred people. In 1901 W. H. Wood laid out Woodlawn Addition, consisting of one hundred lots on the Henry county side of Main street. He brought the Baker Brothers window glass factory to the town, with a capital stock of twenty-five thousand dollars. The Hoseck Chimney House, operated by seven Hoseck brothers, came in 1901. The Shirley Radiator and Foundry Company was also established, which gave employment to about one hundred and fifty men and added greatly to the population of Shirley. In 1902-03 the population of the town was estimated at from fifteen hundred to seventeen hundred.
In 1902 cement sidewalks were made on Main street and a drainage system was installed. Shirley has two rural free delivery routes one established August 1, 1902 , the other a year or two later.
The principal streets in Shirley were lighted with gas for a number of years. In 1913 the electric lights were installed. Ten years or more ago the town installed a gravity water system at a cost of fourteen thousand one hundred and fifty dollars. The tank has a capacity of thirty-eight thousand gallons, and has an elevation of one hundred and five feet above street level. For protection against fire the town also has a truck and hose. Before the installation of the present plant the town used a chemical engine as a protection against fires.
Several lodges have been organized at Shirley. A Masonic lodge has its hall on the Henry county side of the town. An Odd Fellows lodge also met at Shirley for several yeas, but has now been moved to Kennard, in Henry county. The Red Men have an organization, but the early records have been lost and it seems to be impossible to obtain an accurate history of the order. Maple Leaf Lodge No. 651, Daughters of Rebekah, was instituted in 1903. Among its first officers were Nellie Hodgin, noble grand; Florence Lavalle, vice grand; Grace Wink, secretary; Gertrude Sedam, recording secretary; and Minnie Doyle, treasurer. Shirley Camp No. 6358, Modern Woodmen of America, was instituted July 13, 1901, with seventeen charter members. It now has a membership of forty-two.
The Friends church at Shirley was organized in 1892 with twenty-nine charter members. The church has had a steady growth and at present has a membership of one hundred and ten. The average attendance at services is probably fifty. A Sunday school is conducted in connection with the church. Seven classes are maintained and many of the adult members of the church are in attendance at Sunday school. The congregation now worships in a neat frame house.
The Methodist Episcopal church in Shirley was organized in the spring of 1896 during the pastorate of Rev. S. F. Harter. He was preaching at Wilkinson at that time, and through the efforts of Mrs. Rose Franklin and Mrs. Mattie Steffey he was induced to come over to Shirley and preach for them. He preached that fall and winter in the school house, and in the spring of 1896 he organized the church with twenty-eight members. The church was dedicated in the spring of 1897, under the pastorate of the Rev. L. P. Pfiefer. The names of some of the charter members are Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Franklin, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Taylor, Mrs. Harriett Kuhn, Mattie Steffey, Mrs. Gertrude Byrket, and Mr. and Mrs. Benton Jackson. The present membership is fifty-eight.
Following are some of the pastors of the church; S. F. Harte, 1895-96; F. W. Sandifur, 1896; L. P. Pfiefer, 1896-98; E. E. Wright, 1898, 1900; M. M. Reynolds, 1900-01; B. F. Hornaday, 1902-03; E. B. Westhafer, 1903-05; G. Hartman Bright, 1905-06; W. E. Loveless, 1906-08; John Philips, 1908-11; Oliver VanWie, 1911-13; C. W. Anderson, 1913-16.
A Sunday school was organized, probably about the time the church was established. At present the average attendance is one hundred and seventeen,. There are eight classes. The majority of the adult church members attend Sunday school The superintendents for the past three yeas have been P. K. Sharky, Sylvester Hamilton and Edwin Kirkpatrick.
The parsonage was built in 1903, during Rev. B. F. Hornaday's pastorate, and completed under F. B. Westhafer. It is a seven-room house, situated on the Henry county side of Shirley.
Previous to the organization of the Mother of God Roman Catholic church at Shirley, the members at Shirley and vicinity had to drive to Knightstown, a distance of eight miles, to attend service. It was in the early fall of 1902 that the Rev. Father Killian, an assistant at St. John's church, Indianapolis, came to Shirley to see what could be done toward organizing a congregation and building a church.
On Sunday afternoon, in the directors' room of the Shirley Bank, he met by appointment the following members: John Reddington, Martin Kuntz, C. P. Kuntz, Stephen Higi, T. J. Demund, Anthony Kuntz, Mr. Mundren and H. Reddington. At this meeting they discussed plans of building and location of the church and before they adjourned had pledged three thousand dollars to build the church.
From this time Father Killian made from two to three visits a month to Shirley and held services first at the residence of William H. Kuntz, and later, after the congregation increased, at the school building, until the church was built. On October 2, 1903, the church was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. D. O'Donahue, then auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Indianapolis. At this time there was a membership of one hundred and thirty and services were held on the first and third Sundays of the month, with a full attendance. Four or five years later many of the families moved away and services were held only on the first Sunday of the month. Finally services were discontinued for several months. Father Killian then notified the members that he would come and hold services on Monday after the third Sunday of each month. The attendance is now very small and will not average more than six adult members at the services.
A congregation of the Disciples of Christ at Shirley was organized in 1900 in the Methodist church by the Rev. T. H. Kuhn. The charter members were B. F. Martindale and wife, Mrs. B. O. Hufford, John W. White, Alonzo Cross, Belle Cross, H. S. Wales and wife, F. E. Garriott and wife, Mrs. Ella Varner and Mrs. Belle Lisher. At present the church has a membership of sixty.
Among the pastors who have served the congregation are Carl Vanwinkle, one year; Rev. Gard, one year; E. B. Scoffield, one year; Rev. Dailey, one year; Omer Hufford, four years; Rev. Payne, one year; Rev. Addison, one year; Rev. Wolff, one year; Omer Hufford, one year; T. H. Kuhn, one year; B. M. Blount, six months.
A Sunday school was organized and now maintains six classes, with an average attendance of about ninety. The superintendents of the Sunday school have been, Odom Durham, one year; George Reeves, three years; B. O. Hufford, ten years; H. S. Wales, one year; and Mrs. C. R. Rynearson, one year.
The congregation owns a frame church building, thirty-six by seventy feet in size. The building committee which had its construction in charge was composed of John White, H. S. Wales, F. E. Garriott, Alonzo Cross and H. C. Reynolds. B. O. Hufford was the superintendent of construction of the building. It was dedicated by the Rev. Harkins.
The Pentecostal Mission church and rescue home, as it is now called, was dedicated October 28, 1908, by Rev. J. W. Brown, of Wabash Indiana. William G. Moon, of Fairmount, Indiana, was pastor and Ella Baldwin, matron of the home. The mission and rescue work was begun at Shirley by Ella Baldwin in 1902, in her own home and in the old library hall, later at the large mission near the depot. Services were held Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 and 7:00 p.m.
The Alpha Club was organized in January 1913, with eight charter members. It purpose was social and civic improvement. The first officers elected were Mrs. W. W. Cooper, president, and Mrs. L. E. Moore, secretary and treasurer. The club has now grown to eighteen members. It promoted a "clean-up" day during the summer of 1914, at which the appearance of vacant lots was improved and receptacles were placed on Main street for waste paper. During the summer of 1915 a children's public play-gorund was arranged and equipped by the ladies.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Pages 526-555.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI December 7, 2001.
Return to 1916 Index | Return to Hancock Co. Main Page
|Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / email@example.com|