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MONROE COUNTY, INDIANA

HISTORY & GENEALOGY

Source:
History of Lawrence and Monroe County, Indiana
their people, industries and institutions. 
Publ. Indianapolis, Ind. - B. F. Bowen & Co.,
1914

CHAPTER XXII
POLK TOWNSHIP

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     Soon after the end of President James K. Polk's administration the township of Polk was established, bearing the name of the President.  Topographically, the township is below standard.  The soil is rough, sterile, and covered with precipitous cliffs which render it unfit for even a good growth of timber.  There are garden spots, however, where the land is more rolling, and along the stream valleys there is a good quality of cereals raised.  The timber in the township, where it grows, is a rich variety of walnut, beech, ash, whitewood, oak and other woods.  The settlement of the county was very slow, some of the land not being entered until the last thirty years.

SETTLEMENT.

     Elijah Elliott entered the first tract of land on section 4.  He bought ninety and a fraction acres on December 10, 1821, but made no attempt to improve the land or even reside on it.  This was over ten years before the first white settlement.  An old trapper, George Todd, unslung his pack in this township in 1823, five years after the organization, and bought a tract of eighty acres on section 26, and with the help of his brothers and a few men, he constructed rude log buildings, for the comfort of his family.  Other structures were for his stock.  The meat supply came from the deer and bears who inhabited the dense timber around his settlement.  Three years later Todd bought eighty more acres on the same section, and also eighty on section 23.  In 1831, Andrew Todd purchased eighty acres on section 15, and John Todd eighty on 14.
     The second settler in Polk township was Thomas Fleetwood, who came in 1826, and bought eighty acres of land on section 36, near to the farm of Mr. Todd.  In 1833 he added forty more acres on the same section.  Isaac Fleetwood purchased eighty acres on 35, and in 1834, forty acres on section 26.  Solomon Fleetwood settled on section 26 in 1837, Joseph Fleetwood on section 36 in 1839.  Joseph Stipp owned eight acres  of section 19.  William Moss entered land in 1834 and 1836 on section 7, and Alexander Newton had forty on section 23.  David Hawkins purchased on section 10 in 1839, and William B. Todd in 1837.  On section 36, Robert Hicks bought in 1834.  William R. Coombs in 1836, and Benjamin Browning in 1837.   Section 31 was occupied by Q. N. Cain in 1836, and by William Henry in 1838.  Isaac Norman bought on section 35 in 1836, and Moses Martin in 1839.  Green C. Mize purchased on section 32 in 1836.  In 1836 land was entered on section 30 by both Thomas Chambers and Natty Gouble.  William Todd in 1837 and James Todd in the year 1839, on section 26.  William Newton, 1836-7, and Samuel Axom in 1839, also selected land in this section.  William Henry, Jr., and Elizabeth Chambers became land owners on section 18 in 1837 and 1838 respectively.  John Hanson bought on section 17 in 1837, and Jesse Davar the same year, also on sections 4 and 5 in 1839.  Aaron M. Johnson obtained eighty acres in 1836, and Benjamin Halleck forty, on section 3.  Nelson Robertson purchased forty acres in 1837 on section 2.  These tracts of land were in township 7 north, range 1 east, which territory does not comprise all of Polk township.  Twelve section were taken from Brown county by the Legislature and made a part of Monroe county and this township.  Before 1840 the only entries on this additional land were made by Jonathan Faulks and Joshua Repper on section 31 in 1829, and Charles Sipes on section 29 in 1836.
     the first elections in Polk township were held at the house of John Todd, or at "Todd's Big Springs."  This was in 1849.  Elections continued to be held here for many years, probably in the old blacksmith shop.  Samuel Axam and Wylie Davar were the first fence viewers, Peter Norman the first inspector of elections, and Wylie Davar the first constable.

CHAPEL HILL.

     Chapel Hill was a village born to die again.  David Miller and John Smith conceived the idea of a town in October, 1856, and had the county quarter of section 31, township 7 north, range 1, east.  The town had no more than got on paper, however, than it expired.

COUNTERFEITERS.

     During the forties and fifties there were many lawbreakers, burglars, highwaymen, and counterfeiters who spread over a large part of the Hoosier state, including the county of Monroe.  The hilly country, the impenetrable ravines and thick morasses afforded ideal haunts for gangsters of all description, and to make a bad matter worse, the law was inadequate to check their depredations.  It came to a point where men of high reputation in the communities could well join hands with a criminal gang, and either steal something or make counterfeit money, and then come back to civilization with his ill-gained spoils and resume the perfectly "respectful" life he had led hitherto.  A man could not trust his own neighbor in those days.  The southeastern part of the county, covering Polk township, became a notable place for counterfeit coins and government bills.  Some of the citizens of this township were suspected of complicity, but for years no convincing proof could be had.  The counterfeiters had an underground system which could not be solved by the authorities, and so their trade went on uninterrupted.
     The increasing scope of the work occasioned the rise of companies of regulators, honest men who banded together to punish the suspected offenders.  This plan was very effective for a long time, and then it was carried to far.  Private grudges, political questions, etc., were satisfied by methods resembling the ones employed by the "night riders."  A man named Bingham was whipped one night and died as a result, although it was known that he was an honest man. Another, named Vansickle, was frightfully punished by a masked man in the dead of the night, and later died from the injuries.  The place of his death became known as Vansickle's mills, in the south of Morgan county.

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