For many years before the present town of Fortville was laid out, a post office and store were kept about a mile north and a little west of the present town, at a point known as Phoebe Fort's corner. The post office bore the name of Walpole, in honor of Thomas D. Walpole, a prominent attorney and politician at Greenfield. The postmaster, who was also the proprietor of the little store above mentioned, was Thomas R. Noel, who later became prominent as a citizen of Hancock county.
During the forties John K. Rash, Milas Walker, J. H. Hoppes, Lawson Fuqua and Alfred Shortridge deadened the timber on the site where the present town of Fortville stands. On February 12, 1849, Cephas Fort, who then owned the ground, made the original survey of the town, which consisted of thirty-three lots. Since then a number of additions and surveys have been made, as follow:
First Addition, platted by Cephas Fort; nine lots.
Shull's Addition, platted by Micajah C. Shull, January 20, 1857; five lots.
Noel's Addition, platted by Samuel V. B. Noel and Thomas R. Noel, December 16, 1856.
Vanvelzer's Addition, platted by L. H. Vanvelzer, December 17, 1856; twelve lots.
Merrill's Addition, platted by James S. Merrill; twelve lots.
Asbury's Addition, platted August 19, 1872; nine lots.
Record & Voorhis' Addition, platted by Samuel Record and Oliver W. Voorhis, February 17, 1873.
Crouch's Addition, platted by Larkin W. Crouch, May 1, 1875; nine lots.
Arnett's Addition, platted by Samuel Arnett, March 6, 1884; ten lots.
Chodrick's Addition, platted by Anna Chodrick, July 24, 1891; thirty-three lots.
Lindamood's Addition, platted by William Lindamood, May 3, 1892; seven lots.
Central Addition, platted by John L. Mathershead, trustee, October 19, 1894; 244 lots.
Factory Addition, platted by John L. Mathershead, trustee, January 9, 1895; six lots.
Lindamood's Second Addition, platted by William Lindamood, June 3, 1895; eight lots.
Smail's Addition, platted by John Smail, December 28, 1897; nineteen lots.
Yaryan's Addition, platted by Leander R. Yaryan, February 26, 1902; three lots.
Morrow's Addition, platted by Orville L. Morrow, July 11, 1904; six lots.
Hagen's Addition, platted by Elizabeth Hagens, August 2, 1904; three lots.
Paul Hagens' Addition, platted by Paul Hagens, November 3, 1905; twelve lots.
J. S. Merrill's and Elizabeth Hagens' Addition, platted by J. S. Merrill and Elizabeth Hagens, December 3, 1906.
Edgewood Addition, platted by Allan H. Blacklidge, May 7, 1913; nineteen lots.
When the "Bee Line" railroad was completed, about 1852, the store and the post office above mentioned were removed to the town. The post office was continued under the name of Walpole, although the railroad station was named Fortville, in honor of Cephas Fort.
The first business house was built in 1849, in which Thomas R. Noel conducted a general store. He was followed by a Mr. McCarty, who occupied the same building. Among the other early business men were Perry Fort, Joseph Chitwood and Tague and Chandler.
Like other towns in new territory, development was slow. Streets were without gravel and the sidewalks were made of saw-dust and slabs. It was located in a productive locality, however, and only needed to await the development of the surrounding country to be assured of its own growth.
A petition asking that the name of the town be changed from Walpole to Fortville, and that the town be incorporated under the name of Fortville, was presented to the board of county commissioners at the regular September term, 1865. This petition was singed by William C. Pilkenton, James O. Weaver, and a number of others whose names do not appear on the record. The petition shows that Fortville at that time had a population of two hundred and forty persons. The county commissioners fixed the 30th day of September, 1865, as the day upon which the qualified voters were to hold an election at the school house for the purpose of determining whether the town should be incorporated as prayed. At this election thirty-six votes were cast in favor of incorporating the town, and nineteen against it. The report of the election was read in open court at the regular December session, 1865, of the board of commissioners, who then and there declared "said town incorporated by the name of Fortville."
The first election of town officers was held on December 21, 1865, and the following men were elected: treasurer, Thomas R. Noel; clerk, William Baker; assessor, Robert Edwards; marshal, William H. Foley; trustees, David Staats, first ward; Andrew Hagan, second ward; John Treher, third ward; Thomas Arnett, fourth ward, and Joseph W. Wilson, fifth ward.
At first improvements were slow. During the latter seventies and early eighties, however, the newspaper items from the local correspondent gave abundant evidence of an agitation for street improvements. In 1880 four hundred dollars was subscribed to improve Main and Staats streets. There was opposition to this improvement, and a question was raised by some of the citizens as to whether the property owners could be forced to gravel the streets. During the eighties and nineties improvements came rapidly. Within recent years cement sidewalks have been put down, the streets have been improved and in 1909 the Thomas W. Gardner road was constructed, which gave Fortville a brick street. Marked improvements were made in 1896. Several plants already established expended large sums for improvements. Hagen & Vanlaningham established a planning-mill, and Wisehart & Schaffer an ice house and storage rooms. Several stories were added to business rooms, fronts improved, etc., about this time.
Following are the names of some of the men who have helped to make Fortville what it is:
Dry goods-Hill, Thomas, William Baker, Peter Staats, Andrew Hagan, Bill Bills & Company, William Rash & Lafever, A. J. Whetsell, W. P. Williams and Armstrong & Son.
Grocers-Wisehart & Shafer, Fred Hardin, J. C. Bright, Baker & Williams, Walter McKinzie, Jacob Kramer, F. E. Scotten and F. H. Taylor.
Doctors-Mr. Sanders, S. T. Yancy, J. G. Stuart, Frank Hervey, Stewart Slocum, Charles McCord, J. B. Ellingwood, Samuel W. Hervey. S. L. Witham and O. H. Cook.
Veterinarians-Charles Fort, John L. Hiday, B. E. Helms.
Dentists-J. T. Hoopingarner, Glenn Pell, E. C. Parr and E. C. Oberdurf.
Blacksmiths-Will White, Russ Peters, Ed. Clampit, John & Cornel l Jarrett, Samuel Yaryan, Will Morse, Grant Murrer, John H. Hiday, James W. Hiday and William Brown.
Painters-Andy McAdams, T. H. Vanzant, Joseph Swanson, July White, Lee F. Burk, Vinton Davis, Val. Jeffreys, Willard Jeffreys, Walter Griffin, John Carr.
Undertakers-S. H. McCarty and George McCarty.
Lumber Yards-C. S. Springer, H. S. Adams and W. C. Vanlaningham.
Hardware-Cook Brothers, Walter Clayton, Randall & Brothers, Kenneddy & Hinds, E. L. Crouch & Company, Q. A. Wright and Phillips & Company.
Druggists-Rundrum & Stewart, 1865; Yancey & Jones, Gideon D. Searl, James Jordan, A. C. Pilkenton, Brewster & Thomas and John F. Johnson.
Garages-William Oler, Whetsell & Alexander, Brunson & Whetsell, Brunson & Harris, Hiday and Rudd, Pratt & Crider and Howell & Son.
Carpenters-Gilford Newhart, James Patterson, John Trayor, George Crist, Thomas Hall, Charles Tuttle, D. T. Winn, John W. Brush, David Cottrell, Oliver Bell, Earl Lackey, Ed Alfrey, James Crouch, L. W. Crouch and Frank Crouch.
Jewelers-John Hudson, George McCarty and Ed Brown.
Livery Barn-Rueben Caylor, Helms Brothers, Joseph Roberts, F. G. Murrer, Stonebreaker, D. Troy, I. Roberts, Walker & Eiks, Bell & Brunson, Dildine & Humes and Felix Grimsley, Wright & Humer,.
Plasterers-Sherrill & Lightfoot, Wiley & Wiley.
Harness Makers-Robert Gunsols, William Simmons, James Gwinn and Frank Caudell.
Furniture Dealers-Samuel McCarty, James McCarty, George McCarty, John Hudson and E. L. Crouch.
Variety Store-George Ward, R. R. Wright, J. S. Smail.
Barber Shops-R. P. Brown, Wright & Welchel, Williams & Baker and John Doty.
Some of the older records of the town have been lost, but older citizens remember that before the discovery of gas the town trustees had coal-oil lamps placed on the streets for lighting. This was probably done at sometime during the seventies or in the early eighties. After gas was discovered in the county, in 1887, the town was lighted for a number of years with natural gas. In April, 1913, the electric street lights were installed.
During the seventies, or probably the eighties, a hand engine was purchased, which was operated by volunteers whenever fires occurred in the town. No cisterns were installed, and for water supply the town depended upon local wells. There are no records to show just when this engine was purchased, but it was used until quite recently. In March and April, 1913, the town installed a gravity water system at a cost of $16,849.40. A huge tank, with a capacity of 50,000 gallons, has been constructed one hundred feet above the street level of the town. Pipes have been laid and hydrants have been distributed so that all parts of the town are protected by the system. A large stream of water can be thrown over the highest buildings. The town also has two two-wheeled hose carts with five hundred feet of A-1 hose on each cart. The carts are light in weight and are pulled by hand.
The first school house was built in 1857, on the site of the present school building. It was a small frame building in which the first term was taught by a Mr. Tewilliger. A subscription school was taught by a Mrs. Munson. This frame school house continued in use for a period of about twenty years, and of course became wholly inadequate for school purposes as the town grew. In 1877 the newspaper items of the Fortville correspondent again show an agitation for a better school house. The frame building burned about 1875-6, and after that school was conducted in the basement of the Methodist church, also over a drug store and in a hotel; in fact, wherever rooms could be procured. People demanded a house commensurate with the needs of the town and the community. Stokes Jackson was township trustee of Vernon township, and in April, 1877, agreed to pay one-half the cost, and to join with the corporation of Fortville in the erection of a five thousand dollar building. On May 24, 1877, the Hancock Democrat published the following, with other items from the Fortville correspondent:
"We had a school meeting sometime ago to make an effort to build a school house, but the city ´dads' and the township trustee failed to agree on plans, etc. We are no nearer having a school house now than we were before. Every spring a great interest is gotten up in a school house, and everybody talks it, and if wind work would build it, we might now have houses enough to accommodate the whole township., As yet, however, the ´wind work is all that has been done and I am afraid we will not have a building this summer."
On May 31, 1877, the same correspondent included the following item: "We had another school meeting last Wednesday, which resulted in a small subscription."
Nothing further appeared in the local papers concerning the school house until the following spring. On April 11, 1878, the correspondent wrote: "We will soon have a new school house; this is a move in the right direction."
On November 21, 1878, the correspondent wrote, "Our school is done and school will begin in about ten days."
In a December issue, in 1878, of the Pendleton Republican, a full report of the new school house was published: "Last Monday one hundred and seventy-six hungry minds rushed into the new school building at Fortville, anxious to reap the benefit of the educational advantages their parents are so amply providing them. Indeed they may well feel thankful for such commendable work as the school board of Fortville and the township trustee of Vernon township, Mr. U. S. Jackson, has shown in erecting such a substantial, commodious school building as Fortville now possesses.
"Fortville has long needed such a house and the present school board, J. H. Treher, Samuel Arnett and J. B. Anderson, deserve credit for pushing the matter to completion. The building was jointly erected by the school board of Fortville and the trustees of Vernon township, each municipal corporation bearing one-half the building expenses and each to pay for the running support of the school in proportion to the enumeration of children in school.
"The building is a model school house containing five rooms. It was built by J. H. Treher, a well-know mechanic and member of the board, for the low figures of about three thousand and two hundred dollars, including foundation. No part of the work has been slighted and the township now has a school building with a seating capacity of over two hundred and stands without a rival in Hancock county for a neatly located, conveniently arranged school house.
"As yet they have only three teachers, Alonzo Smith, principal; Quitman Jackson, intermediate, and Miss Edwards, of Noblesville, primary."
The school was conducted jointly for probably twelve or fifteen years, after which Fortville assumed full control of her own schools. It has been necessary to make several additions to the building. At this time, 1915-16, the school has eleven rooms, besides several smaller office and recitation rooms, and twelve teachers are regularly employed.
A Normal was conducted at Fortville in 1891 and high school branches were presented that year. In the fall of 1894, systematic high school work was begun, with Elsworth Orr as principal. In 1895 J. W. Jay took charge of the school and during the winter of 1897-8 the first commission for the school was granted to Superintendent Jay. Following are the names of the superintendents who have been in charge of the high school: Elsworth Orr, 1894; J. W. Jay, 1895; Will A. Myers, 1900; Albert Reep, 1906; C. E. Kelley, 1910; Benton G. Keicher, 1911; Roy E. Roudebush, 1915.
The school was equipped for manual training work in the fall of 1912.
Sewing was introduced in the fall of 1913 and a kitchen was fully fitted up for domestic science classes in 1914.
Two hundred and eighty-five children between the ages of six and twenty-one years were enumerated in the town of Fortville in the spring of 1915. Many pupils from the surrounding country were transferred to Fortville for school purposes, so that during the year 1914-15 the schools had an enrollment of 334; of these, 83 were in the high school and 251 were in the grades. The average daily attendance in the schools for the year was 225 in the elementary grades and 75 in the high school. The cost of maintaining the elementary grades during the year was $4,960.00; the cost of maintaining the high school was $4,313.75. The total amount paid teachers for the year was $6,705.11. The estimated value of all school property as reported by the school trustees on August 1, 1915, is $21,500. The total assessment of taxables in the town, as reported by the assessor in 1914, is $535,650.
Five local newspapers have been published at Fortville. The first was the Fortville Journal, published for a few months about 1879 or 1880. It was followed by a second Fortville Journal in 1883, and by the Fortville Sun in 1886. The Fortville Tribune was established in 1893 and published by different editors until April, 1909, when it was purchased by Gus E. Stewart, the present editor and proprietor. He had previously published the Fortville Reporter for a few months during the fall of 1901. The difficulties and hardships connected with building up a printing business in a town is well illustrated by the number of papers that have been published at Fortville. Whoever succeeds has a long battle to fight and many discouragements to overcome before he sees his work crowned with success. But this has been accomplished. The Fortville Tribune is now fully established and its editor, Mr. Stewart, who himself is a product of Fortville, has the satisfaction of seeing on his books a generous subscription list, his advertising columns in demand, and his office busy with job work.
The old Fortville Cornet Band was organized about 1870. Among the members of the band that can be recalled are: Dall Elliott, leader; J. W. Sherrill, E-flat cornet; Charles Stout, first B-flat cornet; John Shafer, second B-flat cornet; Ethan Hudson, first alto; James Manford, second alto; James Scroy, first tenor; Joseph Edwards, second tenor; Joseph Schafer, third tenor; Elmore West, tuba; Sebe Russell, bass drum and A. J. Whetsell, drum. After several years Dr. S. A. Troy took a deep interest in the band and contributed liberally toward its maintenance. The organization, with a changing membership, was kept up for ten or fifteen years. Fortville was then without a band until the time of the
The Fortville Concert Band was organized in the fall of 1910, with the following charter members: Cornets, Ray Teal, Hayden Taylor, George Lindamood; clarinet, Russell Banks, altos, Earl Lackey, Harry Griffey; trombones, Lester Born, Homer Smith, Clarence Apple; E-flat bass, James Morse; saxaphones, Dr. S. A. Hervey, Hayes Thomas; baritones, George Newhall, Harry Duzan; piccolo, William Drake, drums and bells, Fred Yaryan. Of these, Hervey, Thomas, Taylor, Newhall, Apple, Smith and Lackey have played the entire five consecutive seasons of summer concerts in Fortville. After two consecutive seasons of summer concerts in Fortville, Russell Banks was lost to the Barnard Orchestra, then playing the Redpath Chautauqua circuit.
The past summer, 1915, was the fifth consecutive season of Wednesday evening concerts for this band on the streets of Fortville. These concerts having grown to be a vital factor both to the business men and patrons of Fortville. On these Wednesday evenings in summer the town takes on the appearance of one gigantic social gathering, where greetings are exchanged and small business matters transacted. The organization has been particularly careful never to ask financial assistance from citizens nor business men, thus always keeping it, from its birth, entirely independent and under obligations to on one.
The private property of the band consists of black serge, velvet-trimmed uniforms, valued at three hundred dollars; one monster E-flat bass, silver-plated in trunk; a concert-sized Leedy bass drum, with tambourine, traps and various accoutrements; a set of Leedy bells, a library of music, valued at one hundred and fifty dollars, and a portable band stand.
At the close of last season the personnel of the band was as follows: Cornet, Hayden Taylor, Charles Fisher; altos, Charles Dilts, Earl Lakey; alto saxophone, Hayes Thomas; tenor saxophone, Dr. S. W. Hervey; E-flat bass, Samuel Trueblood; clarinets, Robert Brewster, Kenneth Torrence; trombones, Garfield Boyden, Clarence Apple, Homer Smith; baritones, George Newhall, Harry Duzan; drums, R. S. Hatt.
The band was started under the leadership of George Newhall, who conducted it through two seasons. It was subsequently directed by Dr. S. W. Hervey and C. E. Plessinger, of Anderson, who conducted it through the past concert season. Of the present members, Robert Brewster and Harry Duzan are members of the Indiana University Band, which is the regimental band of the Second Infantry, Indiana National Guard.
This bank was organized as a private bank in September, 1891, by Isaac W. McConnell, of Oxford, Indiana, and Jacob P. Isley, of Attica, Indiana; Mr. Isley being the president and Mr. McConnell, cashier. It was called the Fortville Bank. In 1892 James M. Cook and his brother, Jesse P. Cook, became associated with the institution as partners. Emerson F. Cahen was appointed as assistant cashier. In 1893 the bank was purchased by Alfred Denny, James M. Cook, Jesse P. Cook, and Emerson F. Cahen. Alfred Denny was chosen president, James M. Cook, vice-president, Emerson F. Cahen, cashier, and Jesse P. Cook, assistant cashier. Later in the same year James W. Trittipo became identified as a stockholder and was chosen assistant cashier. After the death of Alfred Denny, his son, Isom W. Denny, became president.
In July, 1906, the bank was incorporated as a state bank, with a paid-up capital of twenty-five thousand dollars. Under the new organization, Isom Denny was elected president, James M. Cook, vice-president, Jesse P. Cook, vice-president, Emerson F. Cahen, cashier, and James W. Trittipo, assistant cashier. The above named officers were also the directors of the institution. The resources of the bank are now over three hundred thousand dollars.
This bank was first organized through the efforts of O. L. Morrow in the latter part of 1906, as the People's State Bank of Fortville, with a capital stock of twenty-five thousand dollars. Its first officers were William R. Rash, president; O. L. Morrow, cashier; W. S. Todd, assistant cashier; directors, W. R. Rash, H. S. Adams, John F. Johnson, J. A. McComas and P. A. Randall. The bank's first published statement showed assets amounting to one hundred and forty-six thousand two hundred dollars and six cents.
In 1908 it was reorganized as a national bank with a capital stock of twenty-five thousand dollars. Its first president, William R. Rash, was followed by John G. MCord and John G. Johnson, the latter being president at this time. The present directors are John F. Johnson, William R. Rash, Henry S. Adams, Leander F. Whetzel and Philip A. Randall. O. L. Morrow has been cashier since the bank was organized as a state bank.
Prior to 1856 services were held in a log church situated in what is now known as Fort's cemetery, about one mille north of Fortville, then known as Staat's cemetery and church. In 1856 a revival service was held by Rev. L. W. Monson in a barn belonging to Peter Staat, situated in the north edge of Fortville. There were a number of conversions and accessions to the church. Out of this number, with those who had held membership at the old church, a new class was formed, taking the name of Fortville Methodist Episcopal church. The old log church was then abandoned and torn down. For a short time after this the Fortville Methodists held their services in the Staat barn, then for awhile in a log cabin on what is now North Main street. After shifting about in temporary quarters for about three years, the building of a church was launched, in 1859, under the pastorate of Eli Rammel. Through the earnest efforts of this pastor and the liberal gifts of Peter Staat, S. A. Patterson and others, a frame church was built on the corner of Church and School streets. The building was raised and enclosed, but only the basement was finished for public worship. The building stood in this condition for five or six years, when, under the pastorate of M. Teague, an effort was made and the upper room was finished and the church dedicated by Bishop Thomas Bowman, in 1865. An annoying debt then hung over the church for several years and the building would have been sold for the indebtedness but for the heroic self-denial of Rev. John S. McCarty, who sold his horse and saddle, took the money and canceled the debt and then walked over his large circuit, making other sacrifices to save the church from the disgrace of being sold.
The charter members of the church were: Martin Shaffer, Rachael Shaffer, Minerva Shaffer, Poly Staat, Mary Patterson, Phoebe Staat, Henry Humphries, Cynthia Humphries, Elizabeth Humphries, Christina Stuart, Elizabeth Chodrick, Matthias Shaffer, George Kiscker, Virginia Baker, William M. Baker, Emily Negley, Mary Ginder, I. N. Tewillger, Camilla Shaffer, Peter Staat, Hannah Staat, S. A. Patterson, Nancy Humphries. J. S. Edwards, Anna Chodrick, Sarah Kiscker, Mary Shaffer, Roanna Baker, America Baker, Mary Tewillger, Elizabeth Poole, James Negley, Susan Russell, William Manford, Robert Poole and Margaret Poole. The present membership is approximately three hundred and seventy-five and continually growing. The pastors and their terms of service are as follow: Milton Wayman, 1856; James Black, 1857-58; Eli Rammel, 1859; J. S. McCarty, 1860-61; William Anderson, 1862-63; Benjamin Smith, 1864; M. A. Teague, 1865; W. E. McCarty,1866-67; J. W. Lowry, 1868; S. T. Stout, 1869-70; J. B. Carnes, 1871-73; E. S. Freeman and J. S. Cain, 1874; E. S. Freeman and R. H. Smith, 1875; E. S. Freeman, 1876; F. F. Rhoades, 1877-78; E. I. Rhoades, 1879; J. S. McCarty, 1880-82; A. C. Gerard, 1883-84; D. D. Powell, 1885; A. S. Rodgers, 1886-88; I. S. Bicknell, 1889; J. T. Fettrro, 1890-92; J. H. Slack, 1893-94; F. M. Lacey, 1895-98; G. H. Myers, 1899-1902; W. B. Freeland, 1903-04; W. T. Arnold, 1905-08; Millard Pell, 1909-10; W. E. Murray, 1911-12; W. W. Wiant, 1913-15.
The Sunday school has been in operation almost ever since the organization of the church. It has remained through the years one of the most prosperous auxiliary organizations. The average attendance for the last few years has been about two hundred each Sunday. The attendance at the regular church services will average throughout the year about two hundred.
The movement that resulted in the present church edifice began the next day after Christmas, 1900. The leader of the work was the pastor, the Rev. George H. Myers. To him a great deal of the credit must be given for the present splendid church house. The corner stone was laid on July 25, 1901. It was one of the historical events of the town. The work went on to completion and on March 23, 1902, the new church was dedicated by the Rev. Dr. J. W. Bashford, then president of Ohio Wesleyan University. The present valuation of the church property is fifteen thousand dollars. The board of trustees that served through the building of the present church was composed of the following members: J. W. Jay, president; William R. Rash, treasurer; D. F. Blackburn, secretary; Dr. C. E. McCord, J. A. Gardner and Mrs. Clara Smith.
The church has several other auxiliary organizations, including senior and junior Epworth Leagues; a Woman's Foreign Missionary Society with its auxiliaries, consisting of the Standard Bearers, King's Heralds and Little Light Bearers; a Ladies' Aid Society that has done noble service for years and greatly assisted in lifting the debts on the new building. The church is in a healthy and growing condition and promises to go on in its ministry to all that it can reach. It is one of the best of its class in the Muncie district.
The Christian church at Fortville was organized on August 6, 1871. John Rash and wife from the Christian church at Alfont, A. Ferrell and wife from Kentucky, and L. W. Crouch from Tennessee, desiring to unite in an organization and build a house of worship in Fortville, decided to hold a meeting. J. W. Ferrell, of Kentucky, was sent for, and on Friday night, August 3, 1871, preached the first sermon. N. A. Walker, of Indianapolis, came and assisted in the meeting. On the following Monday, August 6, in the Thomas grove, west of Fortville, in the temple of God's own rearing, while the winds were rustling the leaves above them and the spirit of Christ stirred their hears within them, a little band of twenty-three pledged themselves to God, Their Maker and Christ, their Master, on the one foundation, with the Bible as their only creed, and to work and suffer, if need be, for the sake of Jesus. The charter members were Mary Ann Ellingwood, Elizabeth Ellingwood, Margaret Rash, Winnie Clark, Martha A. Scott, Susan Ferrell, Mary Hiday, Jane Becknell, Sidney Harter, Martha Troy, Mary Edmonds, Jennie Ferrell, Mary Ann Cavender, Jennie Scott, Mary A. Fort, Benjamin Cavender, A. Ferrell, J. K. Rash, S. P. Setters, George W. Ferrell, E. Ferrell, George Scott and L. W. Crouch.
The ministers who have served the church have been: J. W. Ferrell, Rev. Blaney, N. A. Walker, J. O. Cutts, B. K. Smith, W. B. Trowbridge, J. McAllam, Niel McAllam, Rev. Ackman, W. H. Kerr, W. Baker, Rev. Hawthorn, Revs. Franklin, Wilson, Bullfin, Willoby, Johnson, Waller, Finsely and J. E. Moyer.
A Sunday school was organized at the dedication of the first church building on the third Lord's day in June, 1872. The superintendents have been, J. W. Ferrell, S. P. Setters, L. W. Crouch, J. B. Anderson, C. M. Cannaday, W. B. Cannaday, John Hauk, Caroline Crouch, Claude Hiday and Walter Chappell. The average attendance has been eighty. There are ten classes, with a large attendance of adult members.
The first church was a frame building erected in 1871 and 1872, built by L. W. Crouch. The building committee was composed of J. K. Rash, A. Ferrell and L. W. Crouch. Dedicatory services were conducted by N. A. Walker, of Indianapolis. The present structure is of brick, erected in 1900 by Mr. Fatout. The building committee was composed of Henry Hiday, Frank Hunter, Rev. Kerr and L. W. Crouch. It was dedicated by J. F. Rains, of Cincinnati.
The auxiliary societies of the church are the Christian Woman's Board of Missions, the senior and junior Christian Endeavor Society and the Ladies' Aid Society. There are at present (1915) three hundred members of the church.
The present frame structure, occupied by the Catholics at Fortville, and which is soon to be replaced by a modern brick edifice, was built in 1869, by the Rev. Father D. J. McMullen, of Indianapolis. Previous to that time services were held at irregular intervals in the homes of members.
For a few years there was no regular pastor. Services were conducted by visiting priests from St. John's church of Indianapolis, and St. Mary's church of Anderson. In 1877 the Franciscan monastery, of Indianapolis, was given charge of the congregation. The first regular pastor was the Rev. Father Arsenius Fable, O. F. M. It is still a mission attended by the Franciscans, the present pastor being Rev. Father Lendger, O. F. M. There are at present about sixty members. The present trustees are James Ganley, Lawrence Durrick, P. J. Kelley and T. M. Tobin. They will also act as a building committee for the construction of the new church. The church was given the name of St. Thomas, in honor of the late Thomas Tobin, who worked untiringly for the erection of the first church.
There has been regularly maintained a Sunday school, and instruction in Christian doctrine for members under eighteen. The classes are taught by the pastor.
There is a Ladies' Altar Society, organized after the building of the church. Its purpose is to provide linens, vestments, etc., used in the altar service. There is also a League of the Sacred Heart, organized in 1913. Its aim is to encourage a greater devotion and love of the sacred heart of Jesus and a closer union in prayer.
Two or three years ago a party of Nazarenes came to Fortville and conducted a series of meetings, the result of which was the organization of a church. The congregation is small and has not erected a house. The people have been meeting in rented halls to the present. They are planning to erect or purchase a church as soon as possible.
In 1915 George W. Rader and Frank Dudley, Seventh-Day Adventist missionaries, conducted a tent meeting at Fortville for several months, commencing about June 1. As a result of the meeting, in October a congregation was organized, composed of the following families: H. E. Stottlemeyer and wife, Abe Cottrell, wife and daughter, William Day, wife and daughter, Thomas Stottlemeyer, Charles Clace and wife, Margaret Anderson and Mrs. Nancy Girt. To the present they have been worshipping at private residences, principally at the home of H. E. Stottlemeyer. They are contemplating the erection of a church in the near future.
Fortville Lodge No.207, Free and Accepted Masons, was organized on August 2, 1856, by J. L. Dannaha, of Clarksville Lodge No. 118, as worshipful master; Jacob Baity, of Oaklandon Lodge No. 140, as senior warden; Silas Helms, of Clarksville Lodge No. 118 as junior warden; J. H. Perry, of Indianapolis, as treasurer; Hiram Duncan, of Fortville, as secretary; Samuel Arnett, of Oaklandon Lodge No. 140, as senior deacon; G. W. Kinnaman, of Clarksville Lodge No. 118, as junior deacon; Robert Alfout, of Madison Lodge No. 44, as tyler. A charter was granted to the lodge on March 26, 1857, showing a charter membership of fourteen. The first officers were J. L. Dannaha, worshipful master; Eastley Helms, senior warden; George W. Kinnaman, junior warden; J. H. Perry, treasurer; Hiram Duncan, secretary; Samuel Arnett, senior deacon; T. J. Dannaha, junior deacon; Peter Staats, tyler. The present number of members is one hundred and eighteen. The lodge has owned two halls, the first having burned on December 21, 1893. The room over the store of W. R. Rash was then used until the new hall on the third floor of the opera building was dedicated, on April 2, 1902. This hall is now owned by the lodge. W. R. Rash has been secretary of the lodge during the past twenty-four years.
Fortville Chapter No. 149, Order of the Eastern Star, was organized in the Masonic hall at Fortville, May 23, 1894, by Eden Chapter No. 101, Irven Barnard, deputy. There were twenty-two charter members: W. R. Rash, Katie Rash, Margaret Rash, J. W. Trittipo, Delphia Trittipo, A. J. Whetsel, Hattie Whetsel, A. C. Davis, Cynthia Davis, Dr. S. W. Hervey, Bertha Hervey, Worth Arnett, Jane Arnett, Lillie Arnett, R. J. Sample, Sarah Sample, Claudie McCord, Mary Gist, Laura Saunders, Frances Saunders, Ella Likens and W. J. Manford. The chapter has lost several members by death and change of residence, and now has an enrollment of eight-nine members.
Edwards Lodge No. 178, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized October 10, 1856, with the following charter members: J. H. Perry, R. C. Ptiman, C. P. Thomas, H. A. Rutherford, A. Staats, A. H. Heisen, Peter Morrison, J. B. McArthur, Peter Staats, Sr., J. S. Merrill, Wood Browning, Silas Helms, J. T. Russell, J. S. Edwards, G. H. Arnold, A. Burchfield. The first officers were James Perry, noble grand; R. C. Pitman, vice-grand; C. P. Thomas, secretary; H. H. Rutherford, treasurer. This lodge has owned it own hall for many years. Its first hall burned on January 10, 1898, and in the summer following the order built a new home which is now known as Odd Fellows hall. The present membership of the lodge is two hundred and seventy-three.
Fortville Encampment No.171, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized November 18, 1889, with the following charter members: J. K. Fausett, A. Kappas, John Smail, C. V. Harden, A. W. Clayton, M. C. Oberdurf, Charles Bergner and Sanford Ogle. The encampment was organized in what was known as the Jordan building. It gained in membership until the Odd Fellows hall burned, when the order dwindled to a few members. The remaining members met for several years in the rear room of the Fortville State Bank, with an attendance of only five or six. When the Odd Fellows built a new home the encampment at once commenced to gain in members until at present it has a membership of hundred and forty-seven.
Lodge No. 80, Daughters of Rebekah, was organized with the following charter members: Andrew Kappas, E. E. Kappas, Samuel Troy, Martha Troy, James Merrill, Charles Doty, Susanna Doty, David Lewis, Luvina Lewis, Thomas W. Huston, Lucinda Huston, John Hiday and Mary Hiday. The lodge now has a membership of two hundred and forty-two and meets in the I.O.O.F. hall.
Fortville Lodge No. 404, Knights of Pythias, was organized in the Jordan building, July 13, 1894, with the following charter members: J. C. Smail, John Smail, John R. Smith, E. F. Cahen, E. W. Collins, C. H. Alford, E. E. Bill, William Fausett, E. R. Brown, Selmae Gottschalkson, Paul Hagens, Charles Manford, James Pettigrew, F. W. Sherrill, A. A. Stewart, J. G. Thomas, William J. Vanbuskirk, William Walker, Quincy A. Wright and George Winn. The present membership of the lodge is one hundred and forty-eight. The lodge suffered a loss by fire when the Jordan building burned on January 10, 1898. It the moved about from place to place until 1902, when it became established in its new home on the third floor of the Ayers building.
Fortville Temple No. 305, Pythian Sisters, was instituted March 20, 1905, with forty-two charter members. It has always met in the K. O P. hall at Fortville. It now has a membership of seventy-two.
Manitau Tribe No. 53, Improved Order of Red Men, was organized February 8, 1875, with the following charter members: Andrew Kappes, John H. Treher, John F. Caldwell, George H. Jackson, A. D. Perkins, Sr., Amos Birchfield, Christopher C. Troy, Robert P. Brown, William Rose, James C. Jordan, John H. Cottrell, E. B. Clampitt, Jacob Stoehr, Aaron Chappell, James P. Russell, Garrison Asbury, Charles V. Hardin, Freemont, G. Murrer, Ambrose Saylor, Joshua Beaver, John B. Chodrick and Henry Fort. Manitau Tribe was one of the pioneer tribes of the state of Indiana, which is implied by its number, when one considers that there are at this time in the state about four hundred and sixteen tribes. The early history of the tribe is marked by many ups and downs and its members met with many misfortunes and hardships in setting for the principles of freedom, friendship and charity. It had no regular meeting place, but yet managed, through the diligent and loyal efforts of both officers and members, to establish itself as one of the foremost organizations in the community. Its first meeting place was in the old Fisher building. After a short life this was burned down, consuming the entire property of the lodge along with records and other valuable papers. This gave the lodge quite a set-back, from which it took a long time to fully recover, its membership having dwindled down to sixteen members. After a time, about the year 1888, and with a gradual increase in membership, the tribe was able to build the second story of what was then known as the Moore block, which they used for a home until February, 1907, when the moved into their present home, a two-story building, known as the Red Men's building.
Manitau Haymakers Association No. 53 _- The Haymakers have had several organizations at Fortville at different times. The last association was instituted during the winter of 1903-04. The present membership is one hundred and forty-seven. The association is a joint owner of the Red Men's building, with Manitau Tribe No. 53, Improved Order of Red. Men.
Leola Council No. 108, was organized in 1906 with forty-nine charter members. Meetings are held in the Red Men's building. The lodge until several years ago had one hundred and twenty-five members, but through removals and deaths the membership has decreased to about sixty.
Camp No. 7137, Modern Woodmen of America, was organized and chartered on October 25, 1899, with twenty-three charter members. Its present membership is one hundred and six. The camp meets on each Monday night in its own hall over the O. K. drug store. There has been no death in the camp since its organization.
In the spring of 1915 an effort was made at Fortville to secure a public library and reading room. On March 22 sixty or more citizens of the town filed their petition with the clerk of the Hancock circuit court, showing that money had been subscribed and that funds were available to establish a library, the court, Judge Sample on the bench, made a finding to this effect, and on March 31, 1915, appointed the following men as members of the library board: J. F. Hoopingarner, Arthur B. Ayers and James W. Trittipo.
Application has been made to Andrew Carnegie for aid to build a library, but no action has yet been taken on this application.
The Thimble Club was organized with sixteen charter members, on May 22, 1902. It was known as the Thursday Club until 1908, when it was re-organized and re-named the Thimble Club. Its purpose is to promote interest in needlecraft and for social development. The ladies meet on Friday every two weeks from two to four. The club celebrated its tenth anniversary without the loss of a single member by death. Since that time Miss Laura Jarrett has been taken away. The ladies who have served as president of the club are Mrs. Fred Hardin, Mrs. W. P. Williams, Mrs. J. F. Johnson, Mrs. Harry Apple, Miss Laura Jarrett, Mrs. Stewart Slocum, Mrs. Frank Crouch and Mrs. E. R. Crouch, the latter being president at this time.
This troop was organized five years ago by Harry Griffey. It has usually had from eighteen to twenty-five members. The boys have the regulation suits and observe closely the rules of conduct governing the order. In addition to the regular rules they have imposed others upon themselves which are scrupulously observed. They have camped and "roughed" it on Fall Creek on an occasion or two and have enjoyed the outing thoroughly. The meetings are regularly held in the basement of the Methodist church. They follow the course of instruction prescribed by the order. Harry Griffey acted as scout master for the first two or three years, since which time Samuel J. Stokes has been scout master.
On May 27, 1914, several hundred citizens from Fortville and vicinity filed their petition with the board of county commissioners, asking the board "to locate, build and erect, and make proper and legal provision for the maintenance of a county hospital in and for the county of Hancock, state of Indiana, the same to be located, built and erected in the city of Fortville, in said county and state, not to exceed thirty-five thousand dollars."
It seems, however, that the board could not be persuaded to think that the county was in need of a hospital and for that reason failed to grant the prayer of the petitioners.
Two rural free delivery routes have been established from the post office at Fortville. Lincoln G. Boden has route 1 and James C. Jordan, route 2. These routes were established and the first mail was delivered over them on September 2, 1902.
The mills, factories, etc., of Fortville, have been grouped with the mills of Vernon township.
The heavy taxpayers of Fortville have been grouped with the taxpayers of Vernon township.
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 798-815.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI January 31, 2002.
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