Saturday, August 26, 2017

Early County Home Torn Down, in 1933.

     Just south of New Ross at the township line between Clark and Walnut townships lies the Jessee Family Cemetery. James Browning 
James B. Jessee
photo from, James B. Jessee page
"Squire" Jessee was the original owner of this property. He was born in Russell County, Virginia, in October of 1803. He married Nancy Chandler (Candler) in 1827, and two years later this young family traveled cross country in a covered wagon to settle here. When he arrived, he had $8 in his pocket, and a few pieces of furniture in his wagon. He worked hard, and within a few years, became a community leader. He and Nancy raised seven children. Son Thomas died in battle on June 19, 1862, and was originally buried in the National Cemetery in Corinth, Mississippi. He served as a member of Co. B, IN 10th Vol. Infantry. There is a stone for him in the Jessee family cemetery, on the old family property. His parents are also buried there. 
    The Jessees were remembered for their hospitality before the war, and Mr. Jessee buried the first decedent in the community. He was remembered for driving his hogs to Cincinnati, which was not an easy task at the time.  
     The original house, pictured above, was finally torn down in 1933. There is a family cemetery on the land there, and several family members are interred on that spot. Nina D. Evans, a granddaughter, recalled Mr. Jessee for a news article in 1933. 

(Crawfordsville Journal Review, May 5, 1933

Suburbs of Crawfordsville, Really?

     When you think of the growth of Crawfordsville from the beginning, you think about it growing from the center out. However, an examination of plat maps of Union Township will show you that several small settlements grew toward, or were absorbed by the town of Crawfordsville. Longview, for instance, was platted in 1873 and incorporated in 1881. It consisted of 27 lots between Wabash Avenue, Market Street, Dry Branch, and the old Warren Davis property on the east. Family names involved in its development were George Paul, Warren Davis, Joseph Alexander, E. Noland, and Robert and Charley Davis. Longview appears as a separate town in the 1878 plat map. 
     Englewood, from the far eastern side of Crawfordsville existed between Wabash Avenue, the eastern and northern corporation lines, and “Lovers’ Lane.”
     Highland was located between Grant Avenue on the west and Mill Street on the east.  Danville Avenue runs through the middle of Highland, which was also home to a brick factory. Annexation into Crawfordsville depended on if the Highland residents would get fire protection, along with water and light service.
     Fiskville shows up in the 1898 plat, along with the previously mentioned small burgs. Fiskville, unlike the other towns, never incorporated.
It operated on the Cleveland cooperative system, whereby home occupants paid on a rent-to-own system. After a certain amount of time of rent payment, they owned their homes. Driving down Whitlock Avenue, you can imagine the generations of children who spent their summer days playing in the “Hollow.” A niece of Ambrose Whitlock, Janie Jones, remembered learning about nature by observing birds, and various forest mammals, such as opossums, raccoons, mink, and chipmunks. There was even a bicycle trail. Some patrons of CDPL have talked before about the natural spring there on the hillside, called Whitlock Springs. It had a fountain, and I’m sure scads of children cooled off there on a sunny day.   
(Information from "Montgomery County Legend and Lore," compiled and edited by Pat Cline, 1988. Available at CDPL) 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Early Recollections of Crawfordsville

    I recently came across a delightful little historical book located in our reference department about the settlement of Montgomery and several other counties in the area written by Sandford C. Cox --”Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Wabash Valley.” As a young man, soon after he moved to Montgomery County, Cox was hit by a falling tree, and lost a leg. Because of his lost leg, he was unable to do most physical labor so he worked ambitiously to educate himself and become a respected worker. He quietly learned the law and later practiced in Lafayette. He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. In 1859, Cox began publishing “extracts” of local history in the Lafayette Daily Courier.  
   One of the first recollections concerns land sales in Crawfordsville, on December 24, 1824. At the time, Crawfordsville was the epicenter for business and government for about one hundred miles around. He reports that the town was full of strangers, but that he had also entertained old “White Water” neighbors. He had three old buddies show up for the sale, and in his twelve foot by sixteen-foot cabin slept his family of seven, plus the three friends. This was not an uncommon occurrence in pioneer times. They just spread beds on the floor and made room for everyone.
image of the Speed cabin, from CDPL database

    His description of Crawfordsville at the time is this--”It is the only town between Terre-Haute and Fort Wayne….Major Ristine keeps a tavern in a two story log house, and Jonathan Powers has a little grocery. There are two stores--Smith’s, near the land office, and Isaac C. Elston’s, near the tavern. Thos. M. Curry and Magnus Holmes are the only physicians, and Providence M. Curry the only lawyer in town. John Wilson is clerk of the court, and David Vance is sheriff. William Nicholson carries on a tannery and shoemaker shop. Scott and Mack have cabinet shops, and George Key blows and strikes at the blacksmithing business”       

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Facebook,,,,1901 Style!!!

     As 21st century people, we love to think that we are connected to everyone and know all the gossip. But one glimpse at the Crawfordsville Daily Journal of April 1901, and we are transported back to a time when everyone actually did know everything about everyone. Here are some excerpts from the Journal from April, 1901. 
GRAVELLY RUN (Franklin Township)--Miss L. Johnson is taking treatment for her eyes. Otis Hall is gradually regaining his health, but won't be taking up his teaching duties at the college.
Gravelly Run Church--photo from our database

CHERRY GROVE(Madison Township) Thomas Carrol and his hand, Jas. Lyons, put in oats last week.  Mike Carroll sold a fine bunch of hogs and delivered them at the pens in Crawfordsville this week. G. Murdock is going to trade his fancy driving horse for a trotter. 
LONGSTREET (NW of Shannondale) Mrs. Shaver returned from Indianapolis. Mrs. J. Crawford and Mrs. C. Hill are both successfully running incubators ( I assume for chicks!)
FIDDLER's POINT(area near Young's Chapel) Mrs. King is working for Mrs. Sallie Paxton. George King spent Sunday at Frank Smith's house in Cherry Grove. Several ladies met at Young's Chapel and gave the church a good cleaning!
CALIFORNIA(between Elmdale and Pleasant Hill School)Hal Utterback is working for Wm. Walker. Miss Pearl Cowan is staying with relatives at Wesley this week. A small house with all contents at George Marshtetter's farm near Round Hill was destoyed by fire last Sunday morning. 
Several of these community names I was not able to find on a county map.  However, there is a list of over 400, yes, 400 county communities located at the bottom of the Local History page, with a link to the Montgomery County GenWeb page, kept by Karen Zach. Thanks, Karen!

The Indiana (INGenWeb Project), Copyright ©1996-2017 (and beyond), Montgomery County GenWeb site    

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Charles E. Townsley, Civil War Drummer Boy and Local Postman

       Charles E. Townsley, was born in 1845 in Montgomery County, Ohio, to Jerry and Harriet Townsley, and came to this Montgomery County at an early age. When he was sixteen, he enlisted in the Seventy-Second Regiment Infantry as a drummer boy.
from Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana--1861-1865, vol. 6,

     While stationed at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 1863, he contracted typhoid, and had to return to Indiana. Zack Mahorney traveled to Tennessee and fetched him home. As soon as he recovered, he went to Port Jefferson, Ohio, and reenlisted on July 14, 1863. He traveled to Nashville, joined a Union regiment, and continued to serve as a drummer boy until the end of the war. He was discharged in Nashville on August 23, 1865.
     On May 9, 1869, he married Miss Fannie Mack of this county in Kankakee, Illinois. She was the daughter of James T. Mack, early Crawfordsville settler, and subject of an earlier blog post. Mr. Townsley went on to build the Junction Hotel, which was located at the railroad junction on the east end of Franklin Street, in Crawfordsville. He was also the proprietor of the Robbins House. He worked for the local post office for the last six years of his life. He was well known throughout the county as he was the special delivery letter carrier. He was purported to have a jovial, kind disposition, and made friends with all he met. 
     He died January 14, 1908.  Four children survived Charles: Hattie Tyler, Mrs. John Teasdale, Mrs. Maud Cook, and Frederick Townsley.  His service was held at his friend, Newton Wasson, on the corner of Grant and Market Streets.
     (check the post on 3/23/2017 for information about James T. Mack, father-in-law)