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
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
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.
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.