That there were people in the county before the first white settlers arrived is, of course, well known. Spearheads, arrow points, stone axes, etc., may still be found in all parts of the county, especially on the hills and bluffs bordering the creeks and rivers. Skeletons have been found in gravel pits in different parts of the county. In the pit on the north side of the National road, just west of Sugar creek, a well-preserved skeleton was unearthed a few years ago, with relics, such as beads, arrow heads and implements of war buried beside it.

The county offers very little evidence of the presence of the Mound Builders. The following excerpt taken from the report of the state geologist, for the year of 1885, sets forth about all of the evidence that we have:

There is, in section 11, township 16, range 7, some curious earthworks that probably belong to the age of the Mound Builders. These are located on the farm of Freeman H. Braddock, and lie on the south side of Brandywine, at the extreme point of a very abrupt bend of that creek. A ridge of clay land some ten feet above the creek bottom, and covered with oak timber, projects sharply into a piece of marshy land to within three hundred feet of the creek. From this point a levee, three feet high and ten feet wide, has been constructed to the ancient bed of the stream. The excavation which furnished the earth for this embankment is distinctly seen in the projecting point of high ground, and immediately back of this are three pits about eight feet in diameter and six feet deep, and east of these, about ten feet, are two other pits of the same dimensions, but not quite so deep. These works are evidently artificial and ancient, for large trees are now growing on the sides of these pits and on the embankment. About fifty yards east of these pits was formerly a small lake or pond, which may have been an excavation, but probably was natural. It is now drained. When, by what people, or for what purpose these works were made, we venture no conjecture."


The first white people came into the county in 1818, and established their homes in Blue River Township. From that date the increase in the population has been rapid. During the first twelve years it increased at the rate of about 150 per year; during the next decade, 1830-1840, at the rate of over 600 per year; from 1840-1850, at the rate of about 200 per year; from 1850-1860, at the rate of over 300 per year. It continued to increase steadily until 1900, since which time it has decreased a little. The following is the population of the county as shown by the United States census reports, since 1830: 1830-1,436; 1840- 7,525; 1850- 9,698, 1860-12,802; 1870-15,123; 1880- 17,123; 1890- 17,829; 1900-19,189; 1910-19,030.

When the first settlers came into the county, they were confronted with three distinct lines of work. The forests had to be cleared away, the land had to be drained, and highways for intercommunication had to be constructed.

The first and most obvious task was to clear away the forest. To appreciate the rate at which it disappeared, we should bear in mind that our county contains 196,480 acres. In 1850, 48,600 acres of this land were reported as improved. At the close of each decade following, the acreage of improved land was reported as follows by the United States census: 1850, 48,600 acres; 1860, 80,990 acres; 1870, 98,883 acres; 1880, 122,539 acres; 1890, 139,776 acres; 1900, 157,114 acres; 1910, 163,307 acres.

The first homes were established on knolls, where small patches of ground were cleared for cultivation. There were creeks and rivers in the county that carried away much of the surface water, yet there were great areas that were not reached by the streams or their tributaries. The great problem was to get outlets. In the early history of the county a few outlets were established with which arms could be connected. These arms, when covered, were at first constructed of wood.

After saw-mills were established, covered drains were frequently constructed of boards. Clay tile were not used in the county until just before the Civil War. In 1858 Isaac Beeson, who then conducted a potter’s shop at the southwest corner of section 12-15-7 where the Western Grove Friends church now stands, made the first clay tile. They were round tile, turned by hand on a potter’s lathe. After being used for half century they were taken up and found in good condition. Some of them may now be seen in the geological museum at the State House at Indianapolis. In 1863, Jacob Schramm built a tile factory on his farm in the German Settlement, in Sugar Creek township, and manufactured what were known as "horseshoe" tile. It had no bottom, but was constructed with two sides and a top, on the principle of the board drains described above. About this time, or a year or two later, James Thomas, of Jackson township, also brought in some clay tile from a factory in Rush county. Just about the close of the Civil War the "horseshoe" tile were replaced by flat-bottomed tile, which were continued in use for a period of fifteen or twenty years. They are familiar to most people of the county, and may still be excavated in repairing the older ditches. During the eighties round tile came into general use and since that time have been used almost exclusively in our covered ditches.

In 1852 a law was passed providing for the incorporation of drainage companies for the construction of the larger outlets. Under this law, people interested in the establishment of a drain associated themselves together in a drainage company. They adopted articles of incorporation, which were placed on record in the county recorder’s office, and, after some preliminary steps, were ready to begin work. In connection with these large drains, the name of James H. Carr, who was drainage commissioner of the county for many years after the Civil War, should be mentioned.

The largest work of drainage in the county was the opening of Buck Creek, by dredging it. The work was begun about 1888, but was not completed for several years. Legal proceedings were carried to the highest courts in the state before it was settled. When the work was finally accomplished, many acres of marshy land were reclaimed and converted into the most fertile fields of the county. Edwin P. Thayer, Jr., was the contractor on this work.

In the very early history of the county the state aided in the constructi0on of highways connecting important points. Hancock county profited by this aid in the construction of the following roads, all of which can be located by their names. These roads were under construction at the dates indicated; Centerville state road; Brookville state road, Greenfield and Rushville state road, 1832; Morristown, Greenfield and Noblesville road, 1832; Greenfield and Shelbyville state road, 1834; Knightstown and Pendleton state road, 1834; Greenfield and Lebanon, 1836; Indianapolis and Pendleton state road, 1837.

In the construction of these roads, the Legislature appointed viewers to view and mark the proposed highways and make report thereon. The manner in which this was done, the method of describing the course of the proposed highway, and of marking the same, is rather interesting at this time, and the following report made by the viewers appointed on the Greenfield and Rushville state road, taken from commissioners’ record "A", page 107, is inserted:

"The undersigned Commissioners appointed under an Act of the Legislature of the State of Indiana for viewing and making a State Road from Rushville in Rush County to Greenfield in Hancock County, did after being duly qualified according to the requisition of the Act aforesaid, proceed on Monday the 23rd day of October instant to view and mark said Road, and to report as follows:- Commencing on the Brookville State Road, near the bridge across Hodge’s Creek and leave said State Road in front of Hodge’s House at a sugar tree 18 inches in diameter thence north 60 degrees west passing south of old Mr. Havens’ house then continuing said course to the crossing of the line between Section 35 and 36, Township 14 North, Range 8 East, thence North 58 degrees west, south of a random line, on the south of a small deadening and south of a small stream, the waters of Mud Creek, intersecting the random line at a camp meeting ground, thence on said line to the bank of said Branch to a bench, Tree marked 18 North, thence on the south side of said Creek to where the true line crosses said Creek, thence North 50 degrees west through the farm of Wallingford and William Cassaday, passing between said Cassaday’s Barn and Spring House, keeping said course 50 degrees west of North to the crossing of Mud Creek thence North 58 degrees west to the crossing of little Blue River and to escape the crossing of said River three times run from the crossing 38 degrees west 160 poles to a branch of said stream near the house of Henry Clendening, thence North 78 degrees west 160 poles to the fence of William Clendening near his northwest corner of improvements thence north 58 degrees west through the land of said Clendening, Henry Birt and others to the crossing of Beaver Meadow Creek near the northwest corner of William Zorn’s land and a county road on the east side of said Zorn’s land then to escape the crossing of a large swamp tributary of Beaver Meadow North 75 degrees west 60 poles to a large poplar in the field of John Walker north 41 degrees west 60 poles to the crossing of said swamp where the old Connersville road crosses the same, thence north 59 degrees west through the land of Snider Phelps and Bentley to the crossing of Big Blue River at Bentley’s ford, passing the southeast corner of Micajah Binford’s land on the bluffs of Blue River thence after crossing the river north 58 degrees west through the land of said Binford and Henry B. Hill north of the north side of said Hill’s house to the crossing of Six Mile Creek on the land of Samuel Moore near said Hill’s corner on the bank of said creek thence north 59 degrees west to the north of Samuel Bundy’s house. The entering is marked on a sugar tree 18 inches in diameter on Bundy’s improvement pursuing North 59 degrees west to the crossing of a creek called Nameless on the lands of Abram Miller, Esq., thence after crossing said stream north 60 degrees west to where it intersects the random line of said swamp on the lands of ---Glandon, thence on said random line 54 degrees west to where said line intersects the National road on the east bank of little Brandywine. Your commissioners would further state that the above location embraces, perhaps the most suitable ground for a road of the same extent that they have any knowledge of in the counties of Rush and Hancock, that the ground is generally of good quality and that a very small proportion of wet land presents itself on said line, and that the best of crossing of streams are nearly on a line and that the several persons through whose lands the aforesaid location runs seem well pleased. The Commissioners aforesaid would further state that said Road could not possibly be properly located without a surveyor and chain carriers and that they employed Henry B. Hill, surveyor and Reuben Bentley and Bazil Meek acted as chain carriers and hereby requests a reasonable compensation for said extra services. The whole distance of said line from Greenfield to Rushville as measured is twenty-one miles nearly, but by sections is only twenty miles and twenty-five poles. Given under our hands and seals this 12th day of October, 1831.

Nathanial Smith    (Seal)
Bazil Meek        (Seal)"

Similar methods were employed and similar reports were, of course, made on all of the above state roads.


The National Road was constructed through Hancock county in 1835. Some work was probably done on it in 1834. The road was built through an unbroken forest. One gang of men started the work by cutting the trees and clearing the right of way. Another removed the stumps and a third graded the road bed.

Originally it was a "dirt road." Its culverts and bridges, however, were all constructed in the most substantial manner. Small streams were arched with stone and the larger streams, such as Sugar Creek, Six Mile and Brandywine, were spanned by bridges. Enclosed wooden bridges were constructed over Brandywine and Sugar Creek. Each had two drive ways, each about twelve feet wide. The bridge over Sugar Cree stood until July, 11892, when some one evidently threw a lighted match into a load of wheat that had been left there. Before the burning straw could be taken out the entire structure was consumed by the flames.

By virtue of an act of the General Assembly of the state of Indiana, approved January 31, 1842, it was made the duty of the boards of county commissioners of the several counties through which the National road extended, to place the road under the charge and supervision of the road supervisors through whose districts any portion of the road passed. That act also made it the duty of such supervisors to keep the road in repair.

By an act of the Congress of the United States, approved August 11, 1848, all that portion of the National road lying between the east and west boundary lines of the state of Indiana was transferred to the state of Indiana.

By virtue of a special act of the General Assembly of the state of Indiana the Central Plank Road Company was incorporated and was given control of all that portion of the National road lying between the eastern line of Hancock county and the western line of Putnam county within the state of Indiana. Section 18 of this act required that the track of said road be constructed of timber, plank, gravel or other hard material. The act also specified that the track of said road should not be less than sixteen feet wide.

The Central Plank Road Company improved the road by planking it. This work was done about 1850 or 1851 through Hancock county. The work began at Indianapolis and proceeded eastward. General John Milroy had the contract for the construction of a large portion of the work through Hancock county. Milroy, by the way, was a "General" in the same sense that our present auctioneers are "Colonels."

In the construction of the plank road, stringers four inches by six inches were laid along the highway at such a distances as to lie under the wheels of wagons that traveled over the road. The stringers were laid so that the tip was about level with the ground; planks three inches thick and eight feet long were then laid over them and earth was filled in along the sides to level the road. The planks were laid along the north side of the grade. Wagons kept to the right, and hence, teams going west had the right of way; wagons going east had to get off the plank when meeting other conveyances. The planks were not nailed to the stringers and in many places they turned up at the ends and became a nuisance to travelers. Within a few years after they had been laid the road was covered with gravel. In most places the gravel was put over the planks; in some places the planks were removed.

The National Road became a toll road when it passed to the control of the Central Plank Road Company. It then remained a toll road until 1889, when it was purchased by the county.

A few references are made to the National road on the records in the office of the county recorder of Hancock county. Deed Record "U" at page 13, shows that on January 11, 1861, the Central Plank Road Company conveyed to Barney B. Gray all the part of the National road lying between the east line of Hancock county and the west bank of Sugar creek, including the west abutment of the bridge over said creek.

Deed Record "U", at page 14, shows that on November 18, 1861, Barney B. Gray and Eliza Ann Gray, his wife, deeded the above described portion of the National road, lying in Hancock county, to James P. Foley.

Miscellaneous Record "A," at page 104, shows that after James P. Foley bought the road he, with others, on November 19, 1861, organized the "Foley’s Charlottesville, Greenfield and Philadelphia Turn Pike Company," for the purpose of improving the road.

Just at this juncture the Civil War broke out and the new corporation found it impossible to raise money to make the improvements contemplated. In 1864 the Hancock Gravel Road Company was incorporated for the purpose of improving the same portion of the National road.

It seems that some question was raised as to the right of the new company to take charge of the road, but the county commissioners seemed to take the view that the road had been abandoned for several years, and made a finding at their March session, 1865, that the statutes had been complied with and therefore gave their consent to and granted the right of way of the above described portion of the National road to said company. This company then had charge of the road until it was purchased by the county, in 1889.

Just at present efforts are being made to have the National road paved with brick. Several meeting of prominent citizens have been held, but as yet nothing definite has been done.


While the state was giving assistance in the construction of roads connecting important points, and while the National road was being constructed, the county also busied itself with road building within its own confines. In 1830 the population was sparse and the entire county was still covered with forest. There were few farms and only a few towns and mills. It is interesting to observe that the first roads constructed under the supervision of the board of county commissioners were constructed to connect different parts of the county with the towns, or for the purpose of providing a way to reach mills. Possibly as many or more highways were at first constructed to give access to mills that had been built along the streams of the county, than to connect localities with the towns. Two mills that are mentioned quite often in the petitions for highways are Pierson’s mill, which was located on Sugar Creek, five or six miles northwest of Greenfield, and Bellus’ mill, which was located on Sugar Creek about two miles north of New Palestine. The highways that were petitioned for in that early day did not follow section lines, but generally followed the most direct road to the mill or to the town or to some highway that had previously been built connecting with a mill or a town. One can hardly get a correct idea of the methods that were pursued or the manner in which the roads were constructed in the early history of the county, without reading some of the petitions that were filed with the board of county commissioners. The first petition was presented to the board, August 11, 1828. It requested the board to construct a road from a point in Brandywine township to the town of Greenfield. The petition is as follows:

"To the Honorable Board of County Commissioners of Hancock County: Greeting: We, the undersigned subscribers, citizens of Brandywine Township in said county do labor under many disadvantages for the want of roads being opened through out county. Therefore we pray your honors to grants us a road in the manner following, viz: to commence at the southwest corner of Section 32 in Township 15, North of Range 7 East, thence to Swemm’s Mill on Brandywine Creek, thence to the southwest corner of Isaac Roberts land, thence with said Robert’s west line to the northwest corner, thence the nearest and best way to the Town of Greenfield for which your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray.

Signed, etc., June 19th, 1828

Oothniel H. Sweem
Jared Chapman, and others."

Two petitions came up for consideration on the 12th day of August, 1828, and asked for the construction of a road from Greenfield to Anderson Town:

"We the undersigned petitioners do think it beneficial to have a county road opened from Greenfield to Anderson Town and under this consideration we the undersigned do petition the respected County Commissioners of Hancock for the grant of a road commencing at the National Road south at the west side of B. Spilman’s first choice block, thence the nearest and best route to the Northeast corner of the northwest quarter of Section 18, in Range 7, Township 16, thence the nearest and best route to north line of Hancock County on the direction of Anderson Town. Signed etc.

W. Wilson and others."

On May 4, 1829, it was ordered by the board that on a petition presented to said board by George Worthington and others: "Road to commence on the south line of the count as near Michael Murnan’s mill as the situation of the ground will permit, running thence on the nearest and best route to George Worthington’s, thence to William Pierson’s Mill, thence on the nearest and best route to intersect the contemplated State Road from Greenfield to Anderson Town on the East Side of Sugar Creek."

On the same day a "Settlement on Buck Creek" presented a petition, sign by John Shirley and others, praying for a road "to commence at or near the Mill of William Pierson on Sugar Creek in said Count, from thence in a westward direction to the settlement on Buck Creek, thence in a south westward direction until it intersects the Centerville State Road near the house of Samuel Fuller."

On August 9, 1830, Joseph Chapman and others, filed the following petition"

"To the Honorable Commissioners of Hancock County: Gentlemen, we, your petitioners, pray your Honorable body to grant an order for a county road to begin at the south side of Greenfield where the State Road from Shelbyville to Fort Wayne leaves the same, thence the nearest and best way to Joseph Thomas, thence the nearest and best way to William Murnan’s on the Brookville State Road, thence with said road to the corner between John Snodgrass, Senior, and William Murnan, thence to the corner between Esom Thomas and Elias Truett at the old State Road, Gentlemen, grant this and we, you petitioners, will ever pray at the same time, " etc.

At the January term, 1831, Jacob Zumwalt filed the following petition which was acted upon:

"It is ordered by the Board that the following petition presented to the Board by Jacob Zumwalt and others praying for a road to commence and run as follows, to-wit: Commencing at or near Sweem’s; and Stephen’s Mill on Brandywine Creek, thence in a southwestward direction until it strikes the section line dividing sections 17 and 20, thence with said line west as near the situation of the ground will admit, to the south west corner of William Thomas’ land, thence the nearest and best route to Bellus’ Mill on Big Sugar Creek, thence the nearest and best route to intersect the Brookville State Road at or near James Parker’s, "etc.

At the same term a petition was also presented by Allen Simpson and others for a road "beginning at the Brookville State Road on the line between sections 28 and 29 and running the nearest and best way to Joseph Thomas, from thence to Greenfield."

At the May term, 1831, the following petition was presented to the board by David Temple and others asking for the following highway along Six Mile Creek:

"We, the undersigned do petition to the Honorable, the Board of Commissioners, doing county business in Hancock County, Indiana, praying for the granting of a County Road leading up Six Mile and running up through Josiah Vanmeter’s land up the east side of Main Creek until Benjamin Fort’s corner adjoining James Barlow’s, and thence through his land and through Jackson’s lands along up the west side of the Main Creek, on the most suitable ground and thence through John Catt’s land and so on to intersect the Anderstontown road on the west side of the creek on the most suitable ground," etc.

Following is a petition presented by Levi Leary and others at the September term, 1831, of the board of county commissioners, asking for a highway from P{ierson’s mill, to the northeast part of what is now Center township:

"We, the undersigned citizens of Hancock County, to the Honorable the Commissioners of said county, now in session whereas we deem it necessary to have a road from William Pierson’s Mill to the northeast corner of Section 15, Township 16, North, Range 7 East, beginning at said mill thence running the nearest and best route to the south of James Reeves’ land, thence with said lane to the section line north of the school section, thence following said line to said corner aforesaid-and we your petitioners do ever pray, etc.

May 285h, 1831        Levi Leary and others
Twelve lawful subscribers."

At the November term, 1831, the board made the following entry in relaltion to another in Jackson township"

"Petition from James Barlow, Andrew Jackson and others following, to-wit: Commencing at the National Road on the section line between John Burris and Samuel Thompson and running up the line until the brakes of the west fork of six miles, thence by John Fort’s east of Benjamin Fort’s orchard and so on up to the west side of the creek on the most suitable ground, and thence on east of James Dennis’ to intersect his land and running west until his meadow and thence running north through Samuel Dille’s land, and thence running past the northeast corner of the school section and thence to intersect the county road running on the west side of the school section on the most suitable ground. Signed, James Bartlow and others."

At the March term, 1832, the board ordered "that a road be located beginning at the county line near John Jackson’s, where a road from the falls of Fall Creek cross the county line, thence the nearest and best way to William Curry’s of Brandywine township."

It is needless to say that as soon as the forest began to disappear and the land was put under cultivation, these roads, running at various angles across the county, made it very inconvenient to cultivate many of the farms. As soon as fields of any size were cleared, the farmers began to feel the inconvenience of the location of these highways, and they began petitioning for changes in their location.

Between the January term, 1833, and the May term, 1838, twenty-five petitions were filed with the board of county commissioners, asking for changes in the location of highways. These petitions continued to be filed for years to come. From 1850 to 1860, thirty-three changes in the location of highways were petitioned for, as indicated by the indexes of the county commissioners’ records. It was not until after the Civil War that our roads were all generally located on section lines as we now find them.

In 1852 a law was passed by the General Assembly of the state of Indiana providing for the incorporation of gravel road or turnpike companies. Some amendments were made to this law, but in the main it provided that companies could subscribe capital stock, improve highways, and then maintain the same by collecting toll from people who used the roads. This brought in the era of "toll gates," which are still familiar even to the middle aged. A number of turnpike companies were organized in Hancock county under this law. From 1865-1882, forty or more highways, from one to twelve miles in length, were improved under this system. Highways leading to the towns were usually selected for improvement, and during the decade or more following the Civil War it was practically impossible to reach any town in the county without having to pass a "toll gate" and pay the fee for the upkeep of the road. The "toll gates" were usually built near the edge of towns or at such points at which the greatest number of people passed. At nearly all of them sweeps were built which were kept down except when vehicles passed. The most of them had a small porch adjoining the road, from which the "toll keeper" received the fee, usually ranging from three cents to a dime of fifteen cents, depending upon the length of the road and the distance over which the traveler passed.

These roads were operated for a number of years, but in most instances were not very profitable to the stockholders… In 1882 a petition was filed with the board of county commissioners requesting the county to take over the "tool roads" and make them "free gravel roads." An election was held in April, 1882, but the movement was defeated. In the spring election of 1888 the question was again submitted to all voters of the county; this was again defeated.

On August 13, 1889, another special election was held to determine whether the "toll roads" should be purchased. In this election the movement was successful and the roads were purchased by the county.


The next great improvement in road building came with the passage of the "Three-Mile Road" law in 1905. During the summer of 1906 a number of petitions were filed with the board of county commissioners in accordance with the provisions of this law, and a vast amount of money was expended by the county during the next few years in road construction. From 1908 to the present (August, 1915), Hancock county has spent for road improvements the sum of $373,470.00, and the county has two hundred and eighty-one miles of free gravel roads in the county.



These mills were propelled by water:

Joshua Wilson, 1824, on Blue River, grist-mill

William Pierson, 1825, on Sugar Creek, five miles northwest of Greenfield, grist-mill

Othniel H. Sweem, 1826, on Brandywine Creek, three miles below Greenfield, grist and saw-mill.

John Fort, 1827, Six Mile Creek, above Charlottesville, grist-mill

Steven Bellus, 1828, Sugar Creek, twomiles north of New Palesting, grist and saw-mill

Black and Brother, 1832, Sugar Creek, one mile south of Philadelphia, saw-mill

David Longnaker, 1833, Six Mile, above Fort’s mill, saw-mill

Isaac Willett, 1834, four miles northwest of Greenfield, grist-mill

Steven Harlan, 1835, Sugar Creek in Brown township, grist and saw-mill

William Curry, 1835, about four miles northeast of Greenfield, grist-mill

George Mason, 1835, Sugar Creek in Green township, grist-mill

William Beeson, 1836, in Green township, grist-mill

Daniel Blakely, 1836, Sugar Creek in Brown township, saw-mill

All of these mills were small concerns. Some of them were hominy mills, or "corn crackers," as they were commonly called, yet they made it possible for the people of the county to obtain flour and meal without having to make a long wagon journey for it.


Each township had its board of three township trustees, and each school district its board of three district trustees. Highways were few and went at all angles through the woods. Everywhere there were swamps, swamps, swamps. Yet the soil, that "rich loam mixed with sand," was productive. The streams were furnishing water power for the mills, and the springs were supplying purest water. Grocers and merchants were establishing themselves in the county, and all these things were adding something to the comfort of the people, whose number was increasing daily.

For the purpose of raising revenue for the county, all persons wishing to engage in the sale of merchandise, groceries or liquor had to pay a license fee. The record of these fees makes it possible now to learn the distribution of the groceries, etc. Below are given the names of the owners and the dates on which their first license fees were paid to the county treasurer. Some of these men made application to sell merchandise or groceries for such periods as three months and six months. Ordinarily, however, the license fee was paid for a period of one year. Some of the names appear on the record many times, since the license fee was paid annually.

Name Date Location Business
Elijah Tyner 1828 Blue River Grocery
James Parker 1828 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor
Nathan Crawford 1829 Greenfield Grocery
E. & R. Tyner 1829 Greenfield Grocery
Joseph Chapman 1829 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor
James Hamilton 1830 Greenfield Grocery
George Troxell 1830 Greenfield Grocery
Amos Dickerson 1831 Sugar Creek Grocery and Liquor
Morris Pierson 1831 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor
Lewis Tyner 1832 Greenfield Grocery
John Eastes 1832 National Road Grocery
Jared Chapman 1832 Greenfield Grocery
Thomas Lackey 1832 Charlottesville Grocery
Eli Gapen & Son 1832 Greenfield Grocery
Maxwell & Johnson 1832 Charlottesville Grocery
Dunbar & Clark 1832 Greenfield Merchandise
William Curry 1833 Greenfield Grocery
William Curry 1833 Greenfield Grocery
J. M. Clark 1833 Greenfield Merchandise
A. T. Hart 1833 Greenfield Grocery
John Delana 1833 Sugar Creek Grocery
John White 1833 Greenfield Grocery
John and William Justice 1834 Greenfield Grocery
George Tague 1834 Greenfield Grocery
Henry A. Milroy 1834 Greenfield Store
Crawford & Meek 1834 Greenfield Merchandise
David Templeton 1834 Charlottesville Grocery
E. B. and C. B. Chittenden 1834 Greenfield Grocery
Samuel Etter 1834 Greenfield Grocery
Charles Bonge 1835 Sugar Creek Store
John M. Talbot & Co. 1835 Greenfield Foreign Merchandise
Jacob Boyse 1835 Greenfield Grocery
Harder & McLellen 1835 Greenfield Grocery
Robert Sanford 1836 Greenfield Grocery
James Robbins 1836 Charlottesville Grocery
George Kingery 1836 Greenfield Grocery
Noah Perry 1836 Greenfield Grocery
George Henry 1836 Lewisburg Foreign and Domestic Mdse.
Hill & Overman 1836 Charlottesville Foreign and Domestic Mdse.
Cornwell Meek 1836 Greenfield Foreign and Domestic Mdse.
Nicholas McCarty 1836 Greenfield Foreign and Domestic Mdse.
John Hare 1836 Charlottesville Foreign and Domestic Mdse.
Baxter & Clark 1836 *Portland Domestic Merchandise
Hiram Burch 1836 *Portland Grocery
Jesse Atkison 1836 *Portland Grocery
Barzilla Rozell 1837 Brown Twp. Grocery and Liquor
Goodwin & Foley 1837 Greenfield Grocery
William Bentley 1837 Greenfield Grocery
Taylor Willett 1838 Charlottesville Grocery and Liquor
Atherton & Avery 1838 Sugar Creek Grocery
Asa Gooding 1838 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor
Jacob Schramm 1838 Sugar Creek Grocery and Liquor
Meridith Gosney 1838 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
Crawford & Hart 1838 Greenfield Merchandise and Grocery
Thornburgh & White 1838 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
C. & I. Lewis 1838 Sugar Creek Merchandise, Grocery
Jonathan Evans 1838 Sugar Creek Merchandise, Grocery
Robert Eakin 1838 Brown Twp. Merchandise and Grocery
James P. Foley 1838 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
Peter F. Newland 1838 Charlottesville Grocery and Liquor
Joseph Lewis 1838 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
Jacob Slifer 1838 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
Joshua Stone 1838 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor
William Johnson 1838 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor
John Delaney 1839 Sugar Creek Grocery and Liquor
John Dye 1839 Sugar Creek Grocery and Liquor
Solomon Hull 1839 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
Asa Cooper 1839 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
H. Worster & Templin 1839 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
Gavice Richardson 1839 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
J. C. & R. F. Ramsey 1839 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
Jacob Huntington 1839 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
M. Goldberg 1839 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
C. I. Morrison 1839 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
Thornburgh & Co. 1839 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
Cranforce & Hart 1839 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
William Garrison 1839 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
Jefferson Beaucham 1839 Hancock Merchandise and Grocery
William Bentley 1839 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
William Griffin 1839 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor
Isaac Stevens 1839 Greenfield Merchandise and Grocery
Cornwell Meek & Co. 1839 Greenfield Merchandise and Grocery
P. P. & J. F. Oaks 1839 Greenfield Merchandise and Grocery
Joseph Ingles 1839 Hancock Merchandise
John Martin 1839 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
Henry Lehman, Daniel Graft 1840 Hancock Grocery and Liquor
John Wilkinson 1840 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor
A. T. Hart and Lewis Burk 1840 Greenfield Grocery and Liquor

It is apparent that the necessities of life could be purchased at a number of places along the National road, which was the great highway of travel. A few stores were located on the Brookville road in Sugar Creek township and at least one or two on the Knightstown-Pendleton state road.


On May 7, 1833, Daniel Bohn (father of our neighbor and fellow citizen, Daniel Bohn) left his home in Adams county, Pennsylvania, and started on horseback through the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, for the purpose of finding a new home for himself and his family. On this journey he traveled over the old Centerville state road, which passed through Greenfield. On June 30, 1833, he again arrived at his home in Pennsylvania. During the journey he kept a diary in which he noted, among other things, the taverns at which he stopped and the expenses of his lodging. None of the taverns were in Hancock county, yet the bills presented to him give a fair idea of what tavern prices were at that time. A few of the entries are taken from this diary:

"On May 27, 1833, we lodged at the house of Messrs. Vose & Griffin, Dublin- Nigh Bill, $1.00.

"May 28, 1833, we lodged at the house of Mr. Wilson, three miles east of Indianapolis- Night Bill, $1.00.

"June 4, 1833, we lodged all night at the house of Mr. J. Wilson,- Bill, $1.00.

June 5, 1833, we lodges all night at the house of Messrs. Vose & Griffin in Dublin,- Bill, $1.37 _."

The bills included the cost of supper and breakfast, the night’s lodging, and the care of his horse. Meals were ordinarily furnished at 15 cents. Board, including three meals daily, and bed, $1.25 per week.

The great amount of travel westward over the old Centerville state road and, later, over the National road, caused a great many taverns or eating houses to be established along this line. The Brookville road, although it led from Cincinnati, was in bad condition for travel. People from that point ordinarily came to Richmond or Cambridge City, and then traveled westward over the National road. There were days in which fifty or more teams followed each other westward in one train. Many of the travelers camped along the road, while others drove into the large stable yards and slept in their wagons.

The taverns were among the largest and most commodious houses of that day. In connection with the tavern the keeper ordinarily had a stable with a large yard in which the wagons and horses were kept. In fact this was a legal requirement. For the protection of travelers, an act, approved February 12, 1825, provided that no license to keep a tavern should be granted to any person unless twenty-four citizens (later the number was reduced to twelve) should certify that the applicant was of good moral character, that it would be to the benefit of travelers and conducive to the public good if such tavern should be opened, and that they believed it to be the bona fide intention of the applicant to keep a tavern for the accommodation of travelers. The applicant had to prove to the satisfaction of the board of county commissioners that he was a bona fide owner or tenant, for one year, or more years, of a good house with at least three apartments, and a stable convenient to said house, with at least four good stalls. The applicant had to show further that he was the owner of at least two beds and bedding over and above what was needed for his family, and that he had all other necessary furniture, etc. He also had to give security for his faithful observance of all requirements of the statue. Drovers also went along the road with droves of hogs, sheep, cattle, etc., for market at Indianapolis or Cincinnati. Many tavern keepers, and in fact others, were prepared to care for such droves and flocks by having pens and lots fenced near the tavern. A portion of the tract of land lying between the National road and the railroad just west of Philadelphia and east of Sugar creek was used for this prupose for many years by Charles Atherton, one of the very early pioneers of the county.

Taverns could always be identified by signs that were hung up. Ordinarily the work "Tavern," painted on a large board, announced this fact. Others displayed a brightly polished brass plate with a design of some kind engraved upon it. Travelers always understood that this signified a tavern. The location of the Guymon House in Greenfield, for instance, was advertised in the local papers for many years after the Civil War, "At the Sign of the Eagle."

A few taverns were established along the Centerville road before the organization of the county. Among them were Samuel B. Jackson, whose house was located near the present site of the terminal car barns at Greenfield, and Jeremiah Meek, whose house stood on the north side of the old state road, about where the county jail now stands. There were, no doubt, others who made it a business to keep travelers, but of whom we have no record at this time.

Afther the organization of the county a FEE WAS COLLECTED FROM ALL TAVERN KEEPERS. This License fee was $5.00 during the greater part of the time. The first license granted by the board of county commissioners of Hancock county was issued to John Branden at the August term, 1829.

At the May term, 1831, the board licensed Samuel C. Duncan for a license to open a tavern.

For a decade or more, beginning with 1829, taverns were established and located as follows, as shown by the record of the county commissioners:

Keepers Dates Location
John Branden 1829 Greenfield
Samuel Duncan 1831 Brandywine township
James Parker 1834 Sugar Creek
Henry Woods 1836 Charlottesville
Peter F. Newland 1836 Sugar Creek
*A. G. Morris 1836 Portland
John Hare 1836 Charlottesville
*Asa Gooding 1837 Greenfield
*James Parker 1837 Sugar Creek
*Washington Landis 1837 Charlottesville
*David Richardson 1837 Sugar Creek
*Elijah Knight 1838 Greenfield
*James Hamilton 1838 Greenfield
*Lewis Burk 1838 Greenfield
*Samuel Goble 1839 Portland
*Basil Meek 1839 Greenfield
*William I. Rush 1839 Hancock County
* Johnson Woods 1839 Hancock County
* John R. Burges 1841 New Palestine

*Also retailed spirituous liquor "by the small."

Taverns along the National Road were advertised in the Greenfield papers. The following taken from the Greenfield Spectator, September, 1848, calls attention not only to the hotel, but to the wagon yard, accommodations for drovers, etc.:

"Pennsylvania and Ohio House
Six Miles West of Greenfield

The undersigned would respectfully inform his friends and the traveling public that he has leased for a term of years the above house, formerly kept by J. Ross, six miles west of Greenfield, where he will at all times be prepared to accommodate those who may favor him with their custom in a style inferior to none.

Wagon Yard

In connection with the above house, there is a large wagon yard; also, rooms for movers, drovers, etc. His bills will be in accordance with the times.

Hugh J. Kelly"


The first tax levy was made by the board of county commissioners at their May term, 1828. It was not levied upon the value of the property. It was a specific tax, not an ad valorem tax. Thus a tax of thirty-seven and half cents was levied on each horse, eighteen and three-fourth cents on each work ox, twenty-five cents on each silver or pinchbeck watch. The amount of tax was fixed regardless of the value of the property. One horse might be worth as much as two others, but the tax was the same on all. During the first years the assessors did not have to fix the valuation of property. Their only duty was to collect the number of items of a man’s property and the tax was so much per.

At the January term, 1836, the following entry was made relative to tax rates for that year:

"Ordered that the rates of taxation on property for the year 1836 shall be as follows to-wit:-On land one half the amount of the state tax, on polls fifty cents each; on horses over ten dollars in value, on pleasure carriages, and watches fifty cents each; on work oxen three years of age fifty cents per yoke; on each tavern license five dollars, on each grocery license in the town of Greenfield fifteen dollars on all such as are taken at this term, those taken out at subsequent terms in the town of Greenfield twenty-five dollars; in all other parts of the county ten dollars on such as are granted this term and such as are subsequently granted, fifteen dollars; license to vend wooden clocks, ten dollars; license to vend foreign merchandise, ten dollars."

At a special meeting of the board on June 13, 1836, another levy was made, which was on an entirely different basis, being levied on the value of the property. Under this levy it became necessary not only to learn how many horses, oxen, wagons, etc., a man possessed, but to assess that property at a certain value and then determine the amount of taxes from the value of the property. The entry made by the board at this special session is as follows:

"Ordered that for the purpose of raising a county revenue there be a tax levying of twenty cents on each hundred dollars of valuation and one cent on each hundred dollars of valuation for road purposes, and seventy-five cents on each poll-for county purposes."

The method of taxation was hereby changed from a specific to an ad valorem basis and has remained upon that basis to the present. Similar entries were made for the years 1837 and 1838.

As the county grew, more money was required to transact its business, and it is interesting to observe how the levy became more inclusive from year to year. The levies made in 1839 and 1840 are very similar. The levy of 1840 is given because of its greater clearness. Following is the entry:

"Ordered that for the purpose of aiding in raising a revenue for county purposes, there shall be assessed on each license to retail spirituous liquors in Greenfield the sum of twenty-five dollars and in all other parts of the county the sum of fifteen dollars; on each license to vend foreign merchandise and foreign domestic groceries five dollars for any amount not exceeding one thousand, and two dollars and fifty cents for each additional one thousand dollars; provided, however, that no license on merchandise shall exceed in all the sum of twenty dollars; on each license to vend wooden clocks the sum of fifty dollars; on each traveling caravan, menagerie, or other collection of animals, or show of wax figures, or circus exhibition to the people for money, thirty dollars for each day’s exhibition; on each one hundred dollars valuation of taxables fifteen cents for state revenue, and fifty cents on each poll for state revenue, on each one hundred dollars valuation of taxables thirty cents for county revenue, and seventy-five cents on each poll for county revenue, and on each one hundred dollars of valuation of taxable five cents for road purposes."

The license fee established in the entry above remained in force, and similar rates were maintained for a number of years. The county treasurer collected taxes. He did not, however, depend on people coming to his office to pay them, but published notice that he would be in the different townships at stated times to receive taxes.

There was also another office, the "collector of revenue," whose special business it was to collect the taxes that had not been paid to the county treasurer. The report of Joseph Chapman, collector or revenue of the county for the year 1831, shows that he collected $ 328.78. There was a delinquent list of $24.38 that year. This left a balance of $304.40. The collector received a commission of six per cent, for making collection. His commission for the year 1831 amounted to $18.27, leaving a balance to pay to the county treasurer of $286.13.

THE COUNTY IN THE 1840s and 1850s.

The population of the county was reported in 1840 as 7,535 persons; of these, 1,494 were engaged in agriculture and nine in commerce. There were seven common schools in the county, attended by 156 pupils. There were 330 persons in the county over twenty years of age unable to read or write.

The farmers’ annual register, issued in 1845, shows that the county had four attorneys, viz: David M. C. Lane, D. S. Gooding, J. R. Williams and Thomas D. Walpole; five physicians, B. F. Duncan, Simon Alters, Robert E. Barnett, Hiram Comstock and N. P. Howard. The principal merchants reported in the county were: John Templin & Company, H. T. Hart & company, at Greenfield, and Jonathan Evans at New Palestine. Three post-offices are reported: Greenfield, William Sebastian, postmaster; Philadelphia, Charles Atherton, postmaster; Charlottesville, Henry Kinder postmaster. The register also reports that the National road passed through the county, and that the Dayton and Indianapolis stage passed east and west through Greenfield.

In the 1850s Charlottesville, Philadelphia, New Palestine, Nashville and Warrington had all been laid out and contained a few houses, possible a store or two and a blacksmith shop. Fortville, which had just been laid out, was known as "Walpole." Cleveland was known as "Portland," and Eden went by the name of "Lewisburg." Greenfield in 1850, as reported in the Indiana Gazetteer for that year, contained sixty dwellings, with a population of about 300. The greater number of houses were along Main street, with a few on the "back street" (North Street). Greenfield was incorporated as a town in 1850 and did not become a city until more than twenty-six years afterward.

Several state roads had been built in various directions across the county but they were all dirt roads, as was also the National road. The Plank road, of which we hear so much, was not constructed until 1852. There was only one railroad in the county, the Knightstown-Shelbyville railway. The Bee Line, now known as the Big Four, which passes through McCordsville and Fortville, was not built until 1851, and the Indiana Central, now known as the Pennsylvania Line, was not built until 1852.


This society was organized as an auxiliary of the American Bible Society in 1837, by Rev. Richmond, who was also its first president. At the opening of the Civil War, David S. Gooding was the president of the society. He was followed by George Barnett, F. M. Gilchirst, G. W. Dove, and others. Prior to the presidency of David S. Gooding, Joseph Mathews, John Rardin and H. B. Wilson were at the head of the society. The purpose for which it was organized was the distribution of Bibles among especially the poorer classes. The society remained active until in the early nineties. At that time quite a large distribution of Bibles was made and rather a large amount of money was handled in the county in this work.


The first agricultural association of which we have any definite history was organized in the county in 1856, for the purpose of holding county fairs. Andrew T. Hart was elected president of the group of persons who associated themselves together for this purpose. The first county fair was held at Greenfield during the summer or fall of 1856 at the east end of town, north of the National road. After the first year, the fair was moved to the south side of the railroad, east of Brandywine creek, on land belonging to Samuel Milroy. The promoters continued to hold their fair on this land until 1860, without having any very definite business organization. They seem to have had very little capital stock and did not own the ground on which the fairs were held. In 1860, they organized a joint stock company and elected the following officers; Robert E. Barnett, president; John Hinchman and John P. Banks, vice-presidents; James L. Mason, secretary; John H. White, treasurer.

At that time Henry Newby, Samuel Heavenridge and Joshua Meek were appointed to select grounds for the fair. The committee made a favorable report upon eight acres of land, owned by Samuel Milroy, which was bought, and on which the fairs continued to be held until about 1879. Judging from newspaper reports, the fairs must have been conducted pretty much on the plan of those with which we are familiar. Stock, grains, fruits and all sorts of products were exhibited, for the best of which premiums were offered. Then there were also side shows, balloon ascensions, and, in fact, almost everything that can be offered as an attraction upon fair grounds.

The year 1867 seems to have offered a very successful fair. Almost a double number of tickets was reported sold and one thousand entries were reported in the different classes. The local paper contains the following little note concerning this fair: "Those fond of sight seeing can be accommodated in almost any line from a double horse to a hoe-down by the sable sons of Africa." A balloon ascension was advertised for the last day of the fair.

The following officers were elected in 1874: Wesley Addison, president; N. P. Howard, vice-president and general superintendent; William Mitchell, secretary; John J. Walker, treasurer; Burd Lacey, director eastern district; John H. White, director middle district; John Steele, director western district; John Hinchman, county at large; Joseph Baldwin, county at large. The men above named took an active interest in the management of the fair for a number of years.

During its later years, the fair seems to have been less successful financially than it was during its earlier years. A fire destroyed Floral hall in 1871. It was never rebuilt, and the last fair was held in 1879.

In 1883, an effort was made to reorganize the association by issuing one hundred and fifty shares of stock, at twenty-five dollars each, and distributing these shares in certain proportions among the people of the different townships. No person was to have more than four shares. The effort at this time failed. On December 5, 1885, there was a meeting of people interested in the promotion of another fair, and the following directors were elected; Blue River, Frank Tyner; Brandywine, Coleman Pope; Brown, Dr. R. D. Hanna; Buck Creek, George Parker; Vernon, Harvey Caldwell; Greenfield, J. Ward Walker, Eph Marsh and H. B. Thayer; Center, Marion Steele; Green, Dr. William A. Justice; Jackson, K. T. White; Sugar Creek, Anton Schildmeier, Jr. The following officers were also elected; J. Ward Walker, president, ; K. T. White, vice-president; Charles Downing, secretary; Nelson Bradley, treasurer; Charles G. Offutt, legal advisor. The association was organized as a joint stock company with a capital stock of twelve thousand five hundred dollars.

On December 21, 1885, Boyd’s grove, north of Greenfield, was selected as the fair ground. The race track was prepared during 1886, and the first fair opened on August 24, 1886. Fairs continued to be held on this ground for fifteen years or more, when the association also became financially embarrassed. On February 23, 1903, William A. Hough was appointed receiver to wind up its affairs. He afterward sold the ground to George T. Randall. Mr. Randall platted the ground and it is now known as "Randall Place" in Greenfield.


In the early files of the Hancock Democrat notices are found showing that township Sunday school conventions were held in different parts of the county. We find no record of a county convention, however, until on July 21, 1868. Pursuant to a call that had been theretofore given, a convention was held at Greenfield, at which all of the townships were represented. On that day an organization was effected, which became known as the "Sabbath School Union." The following were the first officers elected; President, A. K. Branham; vice-presidents: Blue River, Elihu Coffin, Jr.; Brown, Dr. William Trees; Brandywine, John P. Banks; Buck Creek, Ephraim Thomas; Center, M. C. Foley; Green, R. J. Ramsey; Jackson, James M. Clark; Sugar Creek, T. E. Smock; Vernon, Levi Thomas; secretary, Jonathan Tague; corresponding secretary, E. I. Judkins; executive committee, Dr. C. F. Lockwood, M. L. Paullus and Thomas Kane.

A program had been made out for that day, touching upon the various phases of Sunday school work and dwelling upon the necessity and advantage of closer organization. Since this time county conventions have been held practically every year and during some years more than one convention has been held. The early conventions were generally held at Greenfield. On April 27, 1872, the Hancock Sabbath School Society convention was held at the Methodist Episcopal church at Greenfield. In 1873, a Sabbath school union convention was held for a period of three days, April 25, 26 and 27. Conventions were also held at different places, including Philadelphia Fortville, New Palestine, Charlottesville, and likely other points. In later years the county conventions were practically all held again at Greenfield, township conventions being held in the separate townships.

Among the officers and workers in the Hancock County Sunday School Association none have been more faithful than Mrs. Robert H. Archey, who has been secretary of the association for the past twenty years, or since May, 1895. The presidents of the association during that time have been Charles Ratliff, Rev. L. A. Wells, of the Friends church, at Greenfield; Edward W. Felt, George J. Richman, W. C. Goble, Dr. B. S. Binford, Milo Goodpasture, Charles Cook and Henry Hawkins, the latter being president at this time.

The home department of the association was organized at Mt. Comfort in May, 1895. Miss Emma Parnell was the first home department superintendent.


As the people who first settled in the county grew older, and especially as those who had spent their younger years in the unbroken forests grew to old age, there was a desire to live over again the experiences of the older days. The local papers announced meetings of the old settlers in various parts of the state, and on July 18, 1874, a meeting of the citizens was held at Warrington for the purpose of arranging for an old settlers’ meeting in that vicinity. On that day the following officers were elected: President, John Vandyne; vice-president, Benjamin F. Reeves; secretary, A. J. Reeves; A. C. Tharpe and T. H. Armstrong, marshals; committee on arrangements, Nathan Overman, W. Marsh, R. Blakely, Thomas Walker, George Mingle, J. N. Martindale, E. H. Barrett, William Bridges, A. W. Hammer, John Vandyne, S. McCray, Asa Perkey, E. Burns, James Warrum, James Stanley. W. G. Cauldwell, J. A. McDaniel, Bird Lacy, John B. Hays, John Jackson, R. Cooper, Allen York.

Arrangements were made to hold a meeting at Holiday’s grove, one-fourth mile north of Warrington, on August 21, 1874. Quite a large assembly of people was present on that occasion, but we have fuller details of meetings that were held at later dates.

Old settlers’ meetings continued to be held in that neighborhood from time to time for a number of years. One of the largest was held on September 22, 1883, at Copeland’s grove, north of Warrington. A gentleman named Roach, from Anderson, addressed the people, giving a history of the manners and customs of the county fifty years ago. He reviewed the price of corn, stock, labor, the manner of cooking, log rolling, flax raising, manufacturers, and the good qualities of the old pumpkin pies and chicken potpies. He also reviewed, for the enlightenment of the younger generation, the old way of sparking and marrying.

A feature of this meeting was an exhibition of relics. The following were reported in the Hancock Democrat of that time: Sarah Newkirk, table fork, sixty-five years old; song book, made by a relative, seventy-four years old; another book, ninety years old; J. D. Newkirk, sickle, fifty years old; C. C. Butler, Bible, one hundred and twenty-three years old; Philip Cronk, sword used by relative in War of 1812; Matt F. Cook, cotton dress home-manufactured, sixty-five years old; Matt’s first vest, sixty-two years old; Margaret Garriott, Bible and Testament; H. C. Garriott, first cap, forty years old; William M. Hays, first pair of pants, forty years old; Hattie McDaniel, sugar tongs, one hundred years old; Elizabeth Bundy, sugar bowl, seventy-two years old.; Sarah Newkirk, reticule, seventy-five years old.

During the week of the county fair, 1879, a number of citizens of the county appointed a committee to make arrangements for an old settlers’ meeting to be held at Greenfield in 1880. Nelson Bradley, Stephen T. Dickinson and Washington Duncan were placed on this committee. The meeting was set for August 17, 1880, at Boyd’s grove, just north of the city of Greenfield. A number of chairs were provided, and a large stand was erected for the speakers. On the back of the stand was a large oil painting by John Keifer, representing the habitation of an old settler. It was a log cabin. In the door stood the wife; at the left, a rosy-faced girl, feeding the fowls; on the right sat father, planning for the future; near him stood the son, watching a dusky Indian nearby. A coon skin was stretched on the side of the house near the chimney; a barrel lay on the ground in front of the house, labeled "hard cider," and in a tree in the background sat a wise old owl. Near the picture on the back of the stage was a large American flag.

Addresses were made by Rev. William Nichols, of New Palestine- "I was born in territorial government, long before it became the state of Indiana. My birthplace is in the Whitewater valley, near Metamora. As minister I have lived in three of four counties and traveled over all the middle and eastern part of the state." and

Rev. David Caudell, of Vernon- "I came to this county on October 28, 1834, forty-six years ago. When I came to the north part of the county and settled in Vernon township it was a wilderness." and

John P. Banks, of Brandywine- "I was born in old Virginia, at the time when it owned this territory. Moved to Whitewater valley and went into the blockhouse with my parents, six miles north of Connersville. After peace was restored, we settled and soon afterward I married and went to Rush county. That county was wealthy. I only had forty acres and, having ambition, I wanted more, so moved on. When I came here, one-half century ago, Robert Milroy was superintendent of the National road, and was building the stone bridge, now standing in Greenfield." And

Noble Warrum, of Jackson-"In the year 1840, I was appointed collector of the revenue of Hancock county, known now as treasurer. I was obliged to travel through the county from house to house and receive and receipt, wherever I could find a taxpayer. I well recollect on one occasion being over in Vernon township near where McCordsville now stands, at one Wm. McCords, of whom I made a collection and late in the evening I started for my old friend, William Caldwell (who was the first justice of the peace that ever was in Vernon township). But dark overtaking me, I let my horse have his own way. He guided me to what was then known as the ‘Big Deadening", where I found a cabin occupied by a family by the name of Jones, and by the way, Mr. Jones was a very clever gentleman, although they had just moved in and were unprepared to receive and accommodate, yet he received me in a very kind and hospitable manner. But the will was there, God bless him and his wife for their treatment. The needy shared alike with the wealthy. In those times all loved one another; but now, when pride creeps in, love creeps out."

A roster was made of the oldest people present with the number of years each had been in the county or state. The following list is taken from the report made at the time to the local papers: Ruth Hudson, born 1795, in county over fifty years; Matilda Catt, in county fifty-two years; Elihu Coffin, in state fifty-two years; Benjamin Reeves, in county sixty years; William Bridges, in county fifty years; John B. Banks, in county fifty-one years; David Caudell, in county thirty-six years; Benjamin Price, in county forty-eight years; George Baxter, in county thirty-six years; John R. Couden, in county forty years; Benjamin McNamee, in county forty-seven years; Mrs. Berilla Cooper, in county forty-six years; George McConnell, in state fifty-six years; Lewis Jackson, in county forty years; Rolman and Nelson Johns, in Brown township fifty-three years; Thompson Allen, in Brown township fifty-three years; Washington Duncan, in county sixty years; Henry Duncan, in state fifty-one years; Clarissa Duncan, born in state 1808; Melinda Elsbury, in county fifty years; Martha Roberts, in county forty-five years; Sarah Stuart, in county forty-six years.

It was estimated that at least six thousand people were present on that day.

On August 4, 1881, a second meeting was held. It was estimated that at least two hundred and fifty person came on the train from the east, and that from six thousand to nine thousand persons were in attendance. The local reporter stated in his paper that "stands and other places where money can be spent are more numerous than was ever seen at any county fair."

The third meeting at Greenfield was held on August 5, 1882, and ten thousand people were reported present. A few notes are taken from the local paper of that date:

"Ebenezer Scotton, of Buck Creek township, wore an old coat which was over sixty years old. It was embellished with large buttons."

"Jared C. Meek, of Eden, the first white child born in Greenfield, was frequently pointed out on the ground as a person with a remarkable history."

The following were the presidents of the old settlers’ meetings during their most flourishing years: 1880, Nelson Bradley; 1881, Thomas Hawk; 1882, James Tyner; 1883, R. A. Riley.

The old settlers’ meetings continued to be held for several years. After the organization of the county fair, and the purchase of Boyd’s grove by the fair association, a day was set apart at the fair as old settlers’ day. It seems, however, that interest began to wane, and in a few years no further effort was made to continue the meetings.


About 1870, or perhaps a little later, the Grange movement swept over Hancock county, and within two or three years twenty-one local lodges were organized. In March, 1874, representatives of the various Granges met at Greenfield and effected a county organization. The following officers were elected: President, B. F. Reeves, Warrington; vice-president, J. T. Dawson, Philadelphia; secretary, I. A. Curry, Greenfield; treasurer, E. S. Bottsford, Philadelphia; business agent, Alpheus Tyner, Morristown; gate keeper, Thomas Bentley, Greenfield; executive committee, Smith McCord, R. J. Moore, William Frost.

Arrangements were also made for the establishment of a Grange store at Greenfield, of which Alpheus Tyner was to have charge. At the meeting of the Hancock county council on the first Saturday of March, 1874, the following resolution was adopted in recommendation of Mr. Tyner: "Resolved, that in the election of Alpheus Tyner as purchasing agent of the Patrons of Husbandry of Hancock county we recommend him as a man of integrity and ability and entitled to your confidence and respect."

The following lodges were reported in April, 1874:

Blue River, John T. Coffin, aster; B. B. Binford, secretary.

Eden, No. 469, E. B. Bragg, master; B. T. Cooper, secretary.

Philadelphia, No. 386, John E. Dye, master; T. J. Dawson, secretary.

White Haven, No. 924, James Mitchell, master; L. Bussell, secretary.

Fortville, No. 528, J. S. Merrill, master; Charles P. Thomas, secretary.

Sugar Creek, No. 892, James Wilkinson, master; Weston Summerville, secretary

Sugar Creek, No. 638, J. P. Murphy, master; T. J. Wilson, secretary.

Buck Creek, No. 509, I. S. Wright, master; B. F. Millard, secretary.

Cleveland, No. 343, G. W. Sample, master; I. Murdon, secretary.

Warrington, NO. 591, J. M. Bundy, master; B. F. Reeves, secretary.

McCordsville, No. 431, Elias McCord, master; John Bells, secretary.

Palestine, No. 505, Uriah Low, master; Edward Schreiber, secretary.

Milners Corners, No. 764, W. G. Caldwell, master; William McKinsey, secretary.

Cumberland, No. 1045, Abner Newland, master; Thomas Furgason, secretary.

Shiloh, No. 319, J. F. Hackleman, master; Alpheus Tyner, secretary.

Brandywine, No. ---, Harrison Wilkinson, master; F. M. Clark, secretary.

Union, No. 1389, J.Q. White, master; Andrew Williamson, secretary.

Vernon, NO. 1378, A. P. Hastings, master, S. E. Collins, secretary.

Six Mile, No. 1629, Charles Fort, master; Daniel Loudenback, secretary.

At this time the Grange of Hancock county has a member ship of over one thousand and five hundred. The organization took an interest in general and economic matters, such as the development of farms, the beautifying of the county, the school system, taxation, and, finally, politics.

Up to this time, the Grange had flourished in the county. Farmers took a general interest in it, and good seems to have been accomplished. Its advent into politics, however, was its undoing. The ties of party were stronger than the ties of the order, and with the next year or two it lost rapidly in numbers and influence. Within three or four years it became practically extinct. We hear of it again on January 9, 1879, when the following notice was inserted in the local papers, showing that an effort had been made to revive it, and that new officers had been elected and installed;

"The Grange has been in a feeble condition for some time past, and has only been meeting occasionally. It has been rejuvenated and the members have resolved to hold regular meetings. With this purpose the following officers have been elected and installed for the ensuing year: Worshipful master, David S. Gooding; overseer, Alfred Potts; secretary, William Fries; assistant steward, H. C. Willett; chaplain, E. R. Gant; secretary, R. D. Cooper; gate keeper, A. Little; treasurer, Hiram Rhue; trustees, R. D. Cooper, W. Collyer and J. W. Comstock, and committee on relief, William Sears, A. Little and Eli R. Gant.


Foreign insurance companies had operated for many years in the county. But in the latter seventies there was a feeling current among people that they themselves could protect their property cheaper than it was protected by the old-line companies. On June 12, 1876, a number of farmers associated themselves together for this purpose. William Marsh was elected president of the company; B. F. Luse, vice-president; Samuel B. Hill, secretary and treasurer. One director was also appointed from each township. On November 4, 1878, this association was incorporated under the name of "Farmers’ Insurance Association of Hancock County." Its object, as stated in the articles of incorporation, was "to insure property, buildings and personal property in buildings, against loss or damage by fire or lightning." As to membership in the company, the articles of incorporation provided, "any person owning some property in Hancock county, by paying an initiation fee of five dollars, may become a lifetime member," subject to withdrawal or forfeiture. Money was to be raised by assessment after loss. The incorporators of the company were, Joseph Barrett, Elihu Coffin, Jr., William Fries, George Kinder, Haney S. Wales, George W. Reeves, John F. Candell, Isaiah A. Curry, N. D. Coffin, James Parnell, Henry Loudenback, J. F. Coffin, John Hunt, Lewis C. Jessup, John R. Cowden, William Brooks, John H. White, John T. Duncan, Jacob Slifer, Wellington Collyer, Joseph L. Binford, Jonathan Jessup, Daniel R. Loudenback, Jesse Cook, Robert W. Davis, James H. Anderson, Richard Frost, John H. Hagans, Levi Jessup, T. E. Bentley, Samuel B. Hill, Charles H. Fort, B. F. Luse.

Since the organization of the company, the following men have served as president: William Marsh, S. S. Boots, John H. White, Thomas Mints, William Elsbury.

William Elsbury has been president of the company since 1896. The following men have also acted as secretary and treasurer: Samuel B. Hill, who served until about 1886 or 1887. He was followed by John E. Dye, who served five or six years. Dr. Dye was followed by A. V. B. Sample, who served a year or two, until he was elected clerk of the Hancock circuit court. Mr. Sample was then followed by Mr. Dye, who served another year. Mr. Dye was followed by Benton L. Barrett, in 1896, who served until 1914. At present I. H. Day is secretary and treasurer of the company.


One cannot follow the history of the Hancock county farmers’ institutes during the past twenty-five years without feeling that the agricultural people of this county have given expression to ideals that were pure and lofty. In every endeavor they have been progressive; in all the resolutions adopted there is not a single reactionary note. Every position that has been taken on questions presented makes for purer homes and better living in the county.

The following are the men who have acted as president of the farmers’ institute and the dates of their election as far as it has been possible to make the list complete. A number of the men served two or more years: Marion Steele, 1890; J. F. Coffin, 1892; D. H. Goble, 1896; Alonzo Tyner, 1898; George Walker, 1900; Vard Finnell, 1902; Vard Finnell, 1903; E. C. Martindale, 1904; E. C. Martindale, 1905; George Walker, 1906; Joshua H. Barrett, 1907; Richard Hagans, 1909; Thad Snow, George Walker, 1910; John H. Souder, 1911; Walter K. Boyd, 1913; Ward Parnell, 1914.

Since 1911 Isaac H. Day has been elected president of the board composed of the presidents of the township institutes. All funds appropriated by law for the use of the farmers’ institutes have been drawn in his name.


Hancock county cannot be said to lie within a storm region, yet on several occasions within the last forty years a few destructive cyclones have passed over the county. On June 5, 1880, such a storm passed over Sugar Crrek and Brandywine townships. On July 1, 1880, another cyclone passed over Jackson and Brown townships, carrying away fences and doing much damage to the crops. On May 12, 1886, a destructive cyclone passed over Wilkinson.

On May 27, 1888, another storm passed over the northern part of Sugar Creek township and through Center and Jackson townships. The barn of Chris Reasner, of Sugar Creek, was blown down. The roof of the Ellis school house, east of Greenfield, was taken off and left hanging in the top of a tree near by. Cultivators standing in the field south of Gem were blown as far as forty feet from where they had been left, and many gas well derricks around Greenfield were blown down. Many other buildings in the path of the storm were also seriously damaged.

The most destructive cyclone that has ever passed over the county probably came on June 25, 1902. It will never be forgotten by those who lived within its course. The portion of the county receiving the greatest damage extended from McCordsville eastward and south. All crops, including corn, wheat and oats, within its track, were completely destroyed. Much of the straw was whipped into the ground and covered with dirt by the rain that followed. Much of the corn was broken off level with the ground and the rest of it lay flat. There were few buildings of any kind within its range that were not seriously damaged and by far the greater number were practically destroyed. Orchards and forest trees were broken down, while the rails from fences were carried for long distances through the air. A funeral was being held at Cleveland, at which A. V. B. Sample, former clerk of the Hancock circuit court and a prominent teacher during his earlier life, was killed. This storm worked a great hardship upon tenants, whose crops in many instances were completely destroyed and who had nothing left with which to pay their rent.


The Hancock County Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis was organized December 12, 1912, with the following officers: President, Joseph L. Allen; vice-president, Lucy H. Binford; secretary, Percy M. Gordon; treasurer, J. L. Smith; vice-presidents, Martha J. Elliott, Carthage, rural route No. 21; Edgar Hope, Greenfield, rural route no. 4; J. A. Fort, Willow; Mrs. J. P. Black, Greenfield; A. E. Curry, Greenfield, rural route No. 5; Cynthia Peacock, Charlottesville; Gertrude Ashcraft, Greenfield, rural route No. 4; J. W. Ray, Fortville.

Walter Hatfield, Miss Tillie New and Miss Selma Stephens have been elected to fill the vacancies caused by the death of James L. Smith, and the removal of Madames Gordon and Black, respectively, from the county. The membership consists of thirty-tow life members, one hundred annual contributing members, three hundred honorary members and ten advisory members.

The first work of the society was the selling of Red Cross Christmas seals, which netted fifty-three dollars and forty-nine cents. The society collected two hundred and seventy-seven dollars for the relief of flood sufferers in Indiana in 1913. It has had three patients in the state sanitarium at Rockville, Indiana.

The present officers are: President, Joseph L. Allen; vice-president, Lucy H. Binford; secretary, Tillie New; treasurer, Walter Hatfield.


A federation of the country clubs was effected in March, 1914, with the following officers; President, Mrs. Iduna M. Barrett, Greenfield; vice-president, Miss Edith J. Hunt, Charlottesville; secretary, Miss Hazel Parnell, Greenfield, rural route No. 3; treasurer, Mrs. Harry Porter, Morristown.

The object of the federation, as stated in the constitution, is the "consideration of questions pertaining to social, educational or literary matters and methods for the best culture and advancement of the county."

The charter members of the organization were as follow: County Literary Club (Blue River and Brandywine townships),1903; Western Grove Woman’s Club (Blue River township), 1910; Thursday Circle (Charlottesville), 1911; Klover Reading Klub (Brandywine township), 1912; Four Corners Society (Blue River township), 1912; Westland Ladies’ Sunshine Club (Blue River township), 1913.

The Priscilla Club, organized in 1912 (Blue River township), united with the federation in the spring of 1915. There are several other county clubs that do not belong to the county federation.


Following is a synopsis of the life of each newspaper published in the county since the date of its organization, as far as it has been possible to make the list complete. The Home and School Visitor and The Independent Medical Investigator are discussed elsewhere.

The Coon Skin was a Democratic sheet published at Greenfield by Joseph Chapman. John Hardin Scott, now eighty-six years of age, has a clear recollection of the paper in the political campaign of 1844. The publication of the Coon Skin was suspended not later than the outbreak of the Mexican War when Chapman enlisted.

The Greenfield Reveille, published January 1, 1845, by Jonathan H. Hunt as publisher, and James H. Hunt as editor and proprietor. It was a Whig organ, published weekly.

The Investigator, published at Greenfield in 1847 by Mitchell Vaughn; later by R. A. Riley. Riley was prominent in the county Democratic convention in 1845, and it is probable that the Investigator was a Democratic newspaper.

The Greenfield Spectator, published September 1, 1848, by John Myers; John D. Doughty, editor. The policy of the paper was expressed in prominent letters across the top of its front page, "Neutral in politics, devoted to literature, science, arts, agriculture, miscellany, markets, general intelligence, etc., etc." A large part of this paper was given to stories and poetry.

The Family Friend- When the old court house was offered for sale in 1854 the county auditor was ordered by the county commissioners to advertise the sale thereof in the Family Friend. Mrs. Permelia Thayer has a clear recollection of the paper. It seems to have been similar to the Greenfield Spectator.

American Patriot was published in March, 1854, by J. P. Hinshaw. It was a four-page sheet, "independent in all things, neutral in none." It was devoted to "pure literature, morals, temperance in all things, agriculture, commercial and general intelligence." Its publication was suspended after a year or two.

The Greenfield Sentinel, a weekly newspaper published in 1855 by Thomas D. Walpole, and was later edited for a time by William Mitchell. Democratic.

The Hancock Democrat, published in 1859 by a stock company composed of Noble Warrum, D. S. Gooding, William R. West and George Y. Atkison. Judge Gooding was editor-in-chief for several years, and William Mitchell, local editor. Before the close of the Civil War William Mitchell assumed full control of the paper. John F. Mitchell took charge in 1876. John F. Mitchell, Jr., entered the firm in 1907. Has always been a Democratic newspaper except during the Civil War, when it became the county organ of the Union party. Now published by the William Mitchell Printing Company.

Constitution and Union, published in Janaury, 1861, by Lee O. Harris. Publication suspended after about two months. Issued in the cause of preserving the National Union.

Family Visitor, published in 1864 by a man named Wright. Later transferred to a Mr. Hinshaw. Seems to have been a sheet similar to the Greenfield Spectator, described above.

The Greenfield Commercial, Republican newspaper, published in 1867 by Amos Beeson; later by L. E. Rumrill. Was published for several years.

The Greenfield News, a weekly newspaper published during the seventies by William Walker and Walter Hartpence. Republican.

Greenfield Republican, Republican newspaper, published a short time during the seventies by D. B. Deem.

The Jeffersonian, published in June, 1878, by R. G. Strickland. Democratic. Bought in 1890 by Gus Morton and Charles Teel. Bought by Eugene Lewis in 1892 and name changed to The Greenfield Herald. Purchased in 1893 by S. S. Boots and shortly thereafter taken over by the Herald Publishing Company. Publication suspended about 1906.

The Greenfield Herald, Democratic; 1893, as stated above.

Greenfield Republican, a Republican newspaper, published in 1880- by Robison & Cooper. Later owned by Nixon, Henry Marsh and Robert Lynn. Purchased by W. S. Montgomery in May, 1888. Sold by Mr. Montgomery to Newton R. Spencer in February, 1910. Now published by Spencer Publishing Company.

The Tooth Pick, published for "forty days and forty nights" in 1885 by Harry G. Strickland, Noble Warrum, Jr., and R. E. Bragg. Humorous sheet. Printed on paper of various colors. Pony delivery. Daily. Published at Jeffersonian office.

The Tribune, daily, published at Greenfield by Howard Branham about 1888. Later by Charles Pauley and Austin Boots. At first independent in politics. Later had Democratic tendencies. Purchased by W. S. Montgomery, proprietor of the Greenfield Republican and Daily Republican. Tribune and Daily Republican merged under the name of The Tribune about 1895.

Daily Republican- Daily Republican sheet, published by W. S. Montgomery in November, 1893, and merged with The Tribune.

Daily Democrat- Daily Democratic paper, published by William Mitchell Printing Company during the political campaign of 1900. John Hufford, editor.

Evening Star- Non-partisan. Published in August, 1906, by Eugene Boyden. Purchased by Ben Strickland and Newton R. Spencer, December 1, 1906, who soon afterward sold a third interest to Eugene E. Davis. Published at the Globe plant.

Greenfield Daily Reporter- Non-partisan. Published by Newton R. Spencer, April 27, 1908. Bought Evening Star and published both as Greenfield Daily Reporter in February, 1909. Took over The Tribune in February, 1910, and has since published The Greenfield Daily Reporter. Now published by Spencer Publishing Company.

Fortville Journal, published for a few months, about 1879 or 1880, by George Hacker and Mr. Melton. Local news.

Fortville Journal, published in September, 1883. Burned in December, 1883. Re-established in 1884. Owned and published by Green & Williams, W. A. Rader, W. S. Nagle. Name changed to Fortville Sun in February, 1886. Local news.

Fortville Sun- February, 1886. Sold to George E. Simmons in May, 1887. Other owners, Cal Gault, Lon Graffort and John C. Jenkins. Was the organ of the Farmers’ Alliance in the campaign of 1882; S. B. Prater, editor. Destroyed by fire in 1893. Re-established in 1894. Publication suspended in 1895. Local news.

Fortville Tribune, established in fall of 1893 by Robert Maranville. Other owners, Ora Pogue and George Simmons. Purchased in April, 1909, by Gus E. Stuart, the present editor and proprietor. Local news.

The Fortville Reporter, published for about three months during the fall of 1901 by Gus E. Stuart.

New Palestine Star, weekly; published at New Palestine by Julius C. Melton in 1887. Suspended after a year or two.

New Palestine Courier, weekly; published by a company of persons in 1885. William Parish took charge in November, 1895. Discontinued in April, 1897. Local news.

New Palestine News, weekly; published in September, 1897, by Julius C. Melton. Local news. Suspended in September, 1899.

New Palestine News, weekly, published February, 1900, by George Metzger. Purchased by Paul Bell. Suspended in May, 1903. Local news.

Wilkinson Herald, first published at Wilkinson about 1897, by Dr. B. H. Cook. Moved to Shirley about 1899 and sold to Frank Martindale and name changed to Shirley-Wilkinson News. Local news.

Shirley-Wilkinson News, first published at Shirley about 1899 by Martindale and later by his son. Sold to one McClain who changed the name to Shirley Gazette. Local news.

Shirley Enterprise, established about 1901 and published for two or three years. Local news.

Shirley Gazette, first published at Shirley about 1901 by McClain. Later owned by one Gordon and C. B. Shields. Name changed to Shirley News about 1905. Local news.

Shirley News, first published about 1905. Now owned and published by Roy Ensinger.

Wilkinson Gazette, published August 29, 1907, by A. L. Goodwin. Local news. Discontinued after a few months.

Charlottesville News, weekly, published for a year or tow about 1888 by Otto Bennett. Local news.

Home and Farm, published by S. C. Rhue at Charlottesville in September, 1906. Suspended in a short time.

The following newspapers are now published in the county: The Hancock Democrat, Greenfield Republican, Greenfield Daily Reporter, Fortville Tribune and Shirley News.

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 103-181.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI May 5, 2002.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas /

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