Concerning the first settler of Adams township,
and the date of settlement, statements are conflicting and
unsatisfactory. Walker Adams affirms that his
father, James Adams, in 1816 made a home on the
Little Raccoon near where he himself now lives; and that the
township received its name from him, which might be regarded
as a proper recognition of his priority of settlement in
case there is no mistake about the fact. We have no
account of any others having begun homes here before 1821.
In 1817 a colony numbering several families emigrated from
Butler county, Ohio, and settled on the Big Raccoon, in the
region known as the Bell settlement, near Bridgton.
Among these were Abel Bell, Tobias Miller, Solomon
Simmons, the Adamses and the Websters. Isaac
McCoy, was celebrated Indian missionary, had his home in
the same neighborhood. A few years later Aaron Hand,
also from Ohio, joined this colony. In teh spring of
1821 Solomon Simmons moved and located where his
widow still lives, a mile southwest of Rockville. We
are informed by Mrs. John Pinegar, who is his
daughter, that the nearest neighbor at that time was John
Sunderland, who lived a mile east of Catlin. In
the autumn Aaron Hand came up[ from the Bell
settlement and located on the present site of Rockville.
Greenberry Ward and his father James Ward made
a tour of exploration through this region this year and
found Cornelius Sunderland living on the present
Beadle farm; his cabin stood where the orchard is, in
the midst of the forest, with only a small clearing around
it, just sufficient for the house to be out of reach of
falling trees. James McGinnis came from East
Tennessee in 1822 and settled a mile and a half south of
Rockville. Cornelius Sunderland arrived the
same or next year. Andrew Ray came to Rockville
early in the spring of 1822, having been here the fall
before and located his land. At this period land
hungers were numerous and there was great competition for
the choice tracts, the bottom lands being first taken.
At the first sales at Terre Haute, in the autumn of 1822,
the lands were run up to such figures by those who had made
claims and who would not be overbid, as to be quite out of
the reach of men who had lately gone. A party
consisting of James Glass, John Miller, Jacob Miller,
and Thomas Wolverton, who were much disheartened at
this condition of things, were on their way to Montgomery
county to search out locations, when they were directed by a
Kentuckian to the divide between the two Raccoons. On
examination, being pleased with the country, they decided to
settle there, and were joined by Tobias Miller, Reuben
Webster, Lawrence Cox and a few others. So general
was the gratification at finding a section exactly suited to
their desires, that James Kelsey named the
settlement of New Discovery, a designation which it has ever
since retained. Within the next six months Abel
Bell, John Jessup, Henry Nevins, Silas Harlan, John Blake,
Nathan Blake, Charles Wolverton, Cyrus Wolverton, John
Burford, Benjamin Walters, Constantine Curry, Clem N.
Burton, and many others, had settled in New Discovery; a
tremendous rush was made to this region; the land office was
soon removed from Terre Haute to Crawfordsville, and the
route all the way to the latter place was dotted with
habitations of settlers. The rivalry among land-buyers
waxed exceedingly interesting. For the choice of
pieces men swam high streams and rode day and night through
drenching rains and fierce storms at great risk of health
and life, often exhausting and sometimes killing outright
the horses which bore them. Every device which growing
fear and excited hope could suggest, and desperate ingenuity
invent, was practiced to outwit or distance a competitor.
Having become fixed in their locations, the next
thing to engage their attention was the clearing and opening
of fields. Then was heard the ringing of axes in the
forests, the falling and crashing of giant walnuts and
beeches and sugar trees in wild disorder, and the shouts and
exclamations of the gangs as they rolled and piled the heavy
logs preparatory to burning. Daytime was devoted to
labor, and great was the toil of these hardy settlers; but
night brought is compensations in the form of the social
gathering, when all the neighbors crowded into a narrow
cabin to crack jokes and tell stories, while the voiceful
catgut gave forth enlivening strains of monie musk and the
Devil's Dream, and four and eight-handed reels went round
till the break of day. How many of the patriarchal
families that occupy the homesteads of their fathers had
their origin at these cheerful gatherings no one can say.
Only the honored parents, whose furrowed faces and
whitened heads tell of the remoteness of their wooings, can
enlighten on this point.
The spring and summer of 1822 were exceptionally wet,
and the new comers were sad and disheartened with water all
around them, and mud everywhere beneath them. They
hauled their grain from Fort Harrison, but obtained other
necessaries from Roseville. Toward the end of summer
the rain clouds dispersed, the sun beamed down brightly for
weeks, and gradually both man and nature assumed a gladder
mood. A year or two passed, and busy hands had
transformed patches of woodland here and there over a vast
area into bearing fields.
Here were men and women with little children, and often
large families of them, distant from their native homes and
out of reach of every civilized comfort, spreading, their
beds and boards in a nearly trackless wilderness infested
with venomous reptiles and ferocious beasts, voluntarily
seeking rough toil, accepting coarse food, and facing
famine; yet yielding to nothing but protracted and blighting
disease and death. Their experiences for a story of
trials, privations and sufferings, and a picture of heroism
and triumph, which never has been and never will be
adequately portrayed, and which too few are willing now to
The following affecting incident is given as
illustrating a single phase of life and danger at this
Nancy, wife of Cornelius Sunderland, had
been to her father's (Nathaniel Page's) one afternoon
late in the autumn of 1821 or 1822, to borrow a reel.
The houses were not more than half a mile apart, and as she
was returning she strolled along gathering nuts buried in
the leaves on the groud, failing to note the direction and
strangely enough oblivious of everything around her, until
her attention was arrested by a sudden darkening of the sky
and falling snowflakes. On looking up she discovered
that she had missed her way, but correcting her course
pressed forward with all haste in the supposed direction of
home. She had not proceeded far before she was filled
with alarm at finding herself in a dense forest and totally
ignorant of her whereabouts. The snow was falling
fast. The deep gloom and grand silence of the woods
added to her painful feelings and situation, and her fears
grew almost frantic when she noticed that the dog that
accompanied her had disappeared. She searched wildly
about for the path, shouting every few steps and then
pausing for an answer, but hearing no sound but the beating
of her own heart. On and on she wandered without a
glimpse of a single object she knew to relieve her terrified
thoughts. Night came and still she groped about.
The boughs were now bending beneath the weight of snow.
At length, finding that her traveling and calling were only
a vain waste of strength, and wet, cold, faint, and
overwhelmed with despair, she took shelter in a hollow tree,
where she passed the night. As soon as daylight came
she renewed her fruitless endeavor to find a habitation, or
to attract help by her cries. As hour by hour went by
she continued her wanderings till late in the afternoon,
when her strength was gone, and benumbed with cold "she sat
down to await help or die." When evening came it was
known that she was lost. Her husband, greatly
distressed, spread the alarm and the settlers north of the
Big Raccoon turned out in a general search. By the
middle of the next day all the west part of the county was
aroused and had joined the relief party. "About
sunset, John Sunderland, while hunting along the
bluffs of Raccoon, heard a faint cry - so faint that he
could not ascertain the direction till it was several times
repeated in answer to his shout. Following the sound
he came upon a human being leaning against a tree, whom he
confidently believed to be a squaw! He supposed she
had been abandoned or lost by her tribe, nor was it till he
drew near and actually touched her that he recognized his
sister-in-law! Thirty hours of toil and suffering had
completely transformed her: her dress was in rags, her
voice was almost gone, and she was so chilled she could not
climb upon a log, and he had to lift her on the horse and
hold her as he would a child. But the constitution of
a pioneer woman soon brought health, and she survived to a
good age, to be the mother of a large family of vigorous
sons and handsome daughters. And it is recorded that,
woman like, she had held on to the borrowed reel through all
Among the early settlers in the township outside of
Rockville, not already named we are able to mention
Joseph Wilkinson, who came from Wayne county, Ohio, in
1825, and settled at New Discovery; James Ward and
his son, Greenberry, in 1826, and Nathaniel Page,
about the same time, and near the two latter northwest of
Rockville. By 1830 about all the land - certainly all
the best - had been taken, and settlers were pretty evenly
distributed through the country, and it is said that it was
uncommon to find a stretch of two miles without a house, and
after that neighborhood circles gradually contracted.
The Indians had nearly all departed. In 1825
considerable numbers of Delawares and Pottawatomies lingered
behind, but by this year the great body of them had followed
the setting sun.
Around the settlement of Rockville centers the chief
interest. The first person to locate on the site of
this town was Aaron Hand, who came here in the autumn
of 1821 and erected a little hut, just large enough for a
bed and a table, at the head of the hollow near the grist
mill, and close by the once famous sulphur spring.
This spring, now buried by the mill-pond, it was thought
would become a resort of no little consequence; its waters
were credited with medical virtues, and Rockville being
subject, on account of it, to spasmodic excitements, it was
several times seriously proposed to improve the place, but
nothing was ever done in the matter. Andrew Ray
came in the spring of 1822, in a covered wagon, and brought
his family; it rained most of the time, and the country was
muddy, dismal and unpromising. After a week spent in
looking around, during which their impatience and
discouragement decidedly increased, they concluded to return
to Fayette county; but when they reached the ford on the Big
Raccoon the found it impossible to cross, for the high
water, and while waiting were persuaded by Henry Anderson
to return and give the country at least a year's trial.
The spot selected by Ray for his buckeye cabin was
the northeast corner of the court-house yard. The
rattlesnakes which infested this locality, as nearly the
whole country, in prodigious numbers, were the objects of a
relentless and exterminating warfare, are entitled to their
full share of historic mention. Concerted snake hunts
were undertaken, in which the Caucasian conquerors were each
time successful in slaying such numbers of the natural enemy
as almost to tax belief. It was declared that at one
time seventy of the reptiles were dispatched.
The "star of empire" did not long suffer Hand
and Ray to occupy their original habitations.
Land hunters flocked to this section, and the latter,
embracing the opportunity to turn an honest penny, soon gave
the place, by his business, the name of Ray's Tavern.
Some time in 1823 the proprietor changed his location and
enlarged his accommodations by building on the northwest
corner of the square, on the site of the National Bank, from
heavy, hewed logs, a large double house, two stories in
height. This was occupied by Mr. Ray until
1842, when he moved out of Rockville to the Little Raccoon,
where he passed the remainder of his life, dying wealthy in
1872. The old tavern finally became a shop, and was
used until a date not very remote.
Ray donated forty acres of land to the county,
on which the square and the adjacent business houses are
situated, and Hand gave twenty. Patterson
and McCall also gave twenty acres. These
two men were in partnership and came from Vincennes; they
purchased a quarter of section and divided it. The
McNutt heirs own the McCall half, and the
Steele heirs the other. McCall surveyed and
platted the town on Secs. 6, 7, and 8, in T. 15, R. 7, 2d
Principal Meridian. It was conjectured that on High
street would center the business and fashion of the place,
and it was given the lion's share of ground - a width of one
hundred feet. The principal part of the building- up
was at first on the south side. Colonel Smith, one
of the late commissioners for locating the county seat, was
the county agent who sold the first lots, and, in fact, most
of them. Two public auctions were held, one in June
and the other in October, 1824. James Strain, Sr.
bought the first lot offered - No. 1 in the original plat -
and still owns it. Joseph an Meter succeeded
Smith as county agent. It is at the second sale of
town lots that the first casualty - nearly a fatal one -
occurs. Polly, a little daughter of Andrew
Ray, falls into the well, and when rescued is insensible
and apparently lifeless. After long and vigorous
exertions she is resuscitated, and with returning
consciousness utters piercing screams. Afterward she
says that death would have been preferable to the pain
suffered in coming to. She is the wife of Edward
Fagin, and today is living in Coffey county,
Additions have since been made to the town.
Howard & Bryant bought eighty acres from Hand,
and aid the tract out in lots, which were sold in 1836.
This was called the West Addition. As stated, Hand,
like Ray, moved to a new locality. He built
where Mrs. Kirkpatrick owns, and lived there a number
of years, when he emigrated to Illinois and settled near
Canton, in Fulton county.
The first persons to locate in Rockville after it
reached townhood were Gen. Arthur Patterson and
Judge James B. McCall. They had just arrived and
were living here when it was laid out; it will be remembered
that McCall was the surveyor. These men, in
company, built the first business house; it was a large,
one-story frame, situated on the southwest corner of the
public square where the Presbyterian church stands.
Some years afterward it was raised to two stories.
Gen. Patterson was a man of polished manners, very
energetic and strong willed; he was the life of the place,
and its progress was largely the result of his
public-spirited exertions. He was the father of
Judge Patterson of Terre Haute. His wife was an
amiable and popular lady. Mr. McCall was a
lawyer and surveyor, in Vincennes by his own hand.
This firm brought the first house-builders - John Marny
and William Blackburn, brothers-in-law, both of whom
were permanent residents. The place filled up slowly.
In 1826 there were about a dozen families settled here; in
addition to those mentioned there were John Ashpaw,
Jeremiah Ralston, Wallace Rea, the Lockwoods and
Drs. Leonard and McDonald. The number
was increased by James and Robert McEwen who
came in March, and at once went to work to put up their
tannery, the first in the place. The first
establishment of the kind in the township was started by
Caleb Williams, who came in 1821. James Strain,
Sr., a tanner by trade, came in March, 1824, and went to
work for Williams; but in a few years bought the
tannery, and afterward removed it to Rockville. Both
finally ran down and were not much used after 1850.
Strain left Bedford county, Pennsylvania, in 1822, and with
a knapsack on his back traveled on foot to Pittsburgh; from
that place he came down the Ohio on a keel-boat to
Jeffersonville. He went to Peola, county seat of
Orange county, where he worked in a tannery until he came
In a couple of years Rockville began to do considerable
business; and the large trade which Patterson and
McCall were doing very soon attracted others into
merchandising; though for a long time none could rival them
in amount of stock and custom. Before 1830 Duncan
Darroch, John R. Marshall, John Sunderland and
Persius E. Harris were here selling goods.
Harris was a Campbellite preacher. Marshall
and Darroch were in business on the south side as
early as the winter of 1826-7. Sunderland's
store was on the southwest corner of the square, on the
south side of High street, Andrew Foote opened
a store soon after and was in trade a long time.
In spite of the fact that the law for the formation of
Parke county required the erection of necessary public
buildings within twelve months after the location of the
permanent seat of justice, none were begun until two years
afterward. These, a court-house and jail, were
finished in June 1826. The first was a large, log
structure, built on the south side of the square, and served
the double use of a temple of justice and a hose of worship,
until it was superseded by the brick court-house for the one
purpose, and the brick school-house for the other. It
was used till 1858 when it was destroyed by fire, having
long outlived an honorable usefulness. The jail, also
built of logs, stood on lot 59, just across the railroad and
northwest of the old brick jail. Joseph Ralston
emigrated with his parents from Tennessee in 1817; in 1819
they settled on the Little Raccoon, ten miles south of
Rockville, in Raccoon township. In the autumn of 1823
he came to Rockville, in Raccoon township. In the
autumn of 1823 he came to Rockville, but remained only till
1825, when he left, going all the way to the mouth of White
river in a pirogue thence on foot to Austin's colony in
Texas. On his return he visited Florida and Alabama.
In 1827, and again in 1832, he made a short visit to
Rockville, and in 1836 returned to reside permanently,
having in the meantime taken a wife. In the fall of
1823 Matthew Noel settled in the Morris neighborhood,
three and a half miles northwest of Rockville. He
lived there a short time and then moved to town, and was
elected justice of the peace, and filled the office several
years. He was the second postmaster, Wallace Rea
having been the first. He was distinguished for
integrity and strong character. Scott Noel came
in 1826 and has always held some official station; for many
years he was postmaster. Lewis Noel, the father
of these, was probate judge; and he was one of the county
commissioners when the order was passed to build the second
court-house. This is an historic family (referring to
the limits of this work), which should have more extended
notice than we are able to give; and our apology for the
apparent shortcoming is the domestic affliction which has
prevented 'Squire Noel from responding to our request
The first physician was Edward Leonard, a New
York man, who came here from Orange county, this state, in
August, 1825. The next year doctors Charles Tooley
and Johnson Ferris located in the place. It is
generally believed that the latter was the first resident
physician; but it was not till 1826 that he left Franklin,
Warren county, Ohio, and came to Crawfordsville with a
family named Swearingen. Dr. McDonald
was here also very early; Dr. Slaven, brother to
Col. Slaven, arrived near the same time from
Harrodsburg, Kentucky, but went back in two or three years.
Another very early doctor was Parris C. Dunning, who
was in the profession only a few years. He went from
Rockville to the southern part of the state, prior to 1830,
and studied law. When James Whitcomb was
elected governor, and succeeded to the governorship when
Whitcomb became United States senator. About 1832
doctors Lowe and James L. Allen settled in Rockville
and formed a partnership. The former did not remain
log. Dr. Allen was a capital surgeon; he came
here a young man, and became a conspicuous practitioner.
Elsewhere will be found a just tribute to his character and
eminent skill, by Dr. Rice. Doctors Peter Q.
Stryker and Stephen Roach set up here probably
about 1825. The latter was the father of Hon.
Addison L. Roach, now of Indianapolis, one of the
supreme judges of the state. Doctors Weaver and
Hayden belong to a somewhat later period. The
latter went overland to California with James McEwen
in 1852, and died there. Dr. Alvord began
practice here about 1845, and is still living in the place.
Dr. George P. Daly came from Vermont when quite a
young man, and in 1838 settled permanently in Parke county.
In 1845 he began practice at Mansfield, and in 1861, when
elected auditor, moved to Rockville and has since resided
here. Dr. Harrison J. Rice settled in Rockville
in the autumn of 1846, and read physic in the office of
Dr. Allen. He became a partner with Allen,
and eventually succeeded to his extensive practice and has
been a leading physician of Parke county for many years.
Dr. Morris, who has been established in the place two
or three years, was a student under him. Dr. Thomas,
from Kentucky, located here about thirty years ago.
The firm of Cross & Gillum have practice in Rockville
the past dozen years.
To return to the business men we find that Jonas
Randall came from Ohio, and in 1829 erected the old
Hungerford buildings, one of which yet stands on the
original site; the other having been moved back the present
season, ahs undergone repairs, to be continued in use as a
dwelling. James Pyles was an early blacksmith.
In 1832 he was keeping a hotel in the brick building on
Market street, next south of the Methodist church. In
1827 there were two cabinet shops; of course they were small
affairs; a workman in each made and repaired such necessary
articles of furniture as were in demand in a new country,
and made coffins for the few who died. Not long after
1830 James McCampbell and McMurtry started in
business. These men were merchants and pork packers,
and carried on a large trade with New Orleans. They at
length dissolved, and McCampbell started again with
John F. Norris as partner. About the same time,
but probably later, Walter C. Donaldson and
Erastus M. Benson, opened a store. Tyler S.
Baldwin, who, with Judge Bryant, had been reared
among the Shakers of Kentucky, was a prominent business man,
and also began selling goods quite early. George W.
Sill and James Depew first clerked for him, but
afterward became partners. Mr. Sill came to
Rockville early in 1833; he began merchandising in 1836, and
continued in business twenty-five years. Depew
had a reputation for being a sharp, shrewd man; and while it
is admitted that Sill was his peer in these respects,
it is charged that "his words were softer than oil," without
the imputation of their being drawn swords. In 1836
Jeremiah Ralston was running a store; and also
Adamson & Robinson. Levi Sidwell settled
here in 1836.
In company with Rosebraugh he opened the first
drug store. Robert Allen & McMurtry were in
business about the same time. David W. Stark
bought the latter's interest and took possession January 1,
1839. Allen died in Texas. John H.
Davy became Mr. Stark's partner; they were
successful in trade, and both acquired much wealth and
influence. The firm of A. M. Houston & Co was
composed of Gen. Alexander M. Houston, William P.
Mulhallen and Pembroke S. Cornelius.
Houston's partners were young men.
He was a noted man in the community. He had been a
general of militia, and served under Jackson in some
of his Indian campaigns. He was a southern gentleman
with southern traits, who had not altogether escaped
southern vices. He was very genial, though somewhat
aristocratic; had been a gambler in early life and saved a
fortune, and lived in elegant leisure. He at length
changed his course of life, and uniting with the
Presbyterian church, became an elder and truly exemplary man
- prominent and greatly respected. He had no taste for
books, but his insight into character was very great, and he
excelled in reading men. Scott Noel and
Robert Gilkeson were in company in 1837. The first
regular millinery establishment was started by Mrs.
Lucinda Bradley about this time. Her husband was a
carpenter. Mrs. Lucy Smith and Mrs. Watson
each had shops later; and still later th Houghman
sisters, Mary and Ellen. These latter were
in business over twenty years. In 1830 Gabriel
Houghman came from Butler county, Ohio, and settled a
half mile south of Rockville. In 1837 he moved into
town and went to merchandising in the firm of Allen, Noel
& Co; he soon bought out Allen, and then the firm
was Noel & Houghman. For twelve years from 1840
he held public office; first as deputy sheriff three years;
next county assessor two years; then sheriff two terms, and
in 1850 was elected to represent his district in the
legislature. As the last date he bought the Rockville
House, which stood on the northeast corner of the square,
now occupied by the Rice block. In 1851 he
rented this and bought a house on the northwest corner of
the square, where the new hotel is now going up, and there
kept the Houghman House twelve years In 1865 he
sold to a man named Williamson. This stand was
afterward burned down, and was the property of James W.
Beadle at the time of its destruction.
J. M. Nichols settled in Rockville in 1841, and
set up in a tinning business. This was the second
establishment of the kind in the place. The first had
been started by Dioocletian Cox, had left
before Mr. Nichols came. Moreland was
another in business here at that time. Gen. George
K. Steele, who came to the county with his father in an
early day, settled in Rockville at a somewhat later period.
He did a great amount of business, and was prominent as a
banker and politician. He was merchandising while with
Samuel Hart, but afterward sold out and engaged in
the stock trade. Hart was an early pioneer at
Portland Mills; about 1836 or 1837 he became sheriff and
after serving two terms was elected treasurer. When he
quit office holding formed a partnership with Steele.
One of the most respectable and honored tradesmen
which Rockville ever had was Isaac Jarvis Silliman, a
New Englander, related to Prof. Silliman, of Yale
College. He emigrated to Sullivan county, Indian, when
a boy, and worked at farming and clearing land summers and
teaching school winters. He built a mill at Brighton,
and was in business there awhile, and afterward at Rockville
with Persius E. Harris. Disposing of his
interest to his partner, he went to Armiesburg, and in
company with Gen. Patterson a number of years was
engaged in making flour, buying produce, distilling, and
boating to New Orleans. Selling out to Patterson,
he returned to Rockville and opened a general store.
About 1853 or 1854 he united with himself, O. J. Innis
and J. M. Nichols, under the firm name of Silliman
& Nichols. In a few years Mr. Innis
retired, and Silliman & Nichols purchased a
grist-mill. Early in 1860 William M. Thompson
and James H. McEwen bought Silliman's interest
in both mill and store, and the firm was Nichols,
Thompson & Co. Mr. Silliman died greatly
regretted a few years after, when about seventy years of
age. He was a man of great energy and activity, and of
spotless character, whose life was a savor of good works,
and is well summed up in the text from which the Rev. bishop
preached his second funeral sermon - the blessing pronounced
by Jacob upon Joseph - "A fruitful bough, even
a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the
wall." He was not a professing christian; but good
deeds made profession for him. In 1864 Nichols,
Thompson & Co. sold the grist-mill to Eiglehart &
Brothers, of Evansville; and the next year disposed of
their store to Sill & McEwen (Wm B. McEwen),
and commenced the erection of the woolen mill. Mr.
McEwen (James H.) died in June, 1866, before it
was completed, and Nichols & Thompson put in
the machinery and ran it till 1875, when the business having
ceased to be profitable, they closed it and sold a part of
the machinery. During the time that they were
operating the factory they were also running a dry goods
store; and in 1871 they received William B. McEwen
and Howard Bryant into partnership in the last named
business. On January 1, Mr. Nichols retired,
and the firm is now Thompson, McEwen & Bryant.
The factory just mentioned is a three and a half story brick
40x80 feet. The grounds, building, and machinery cost
$28,000. It is now idle. The grist-mill referred
to above was built between 1855 and 1857 by Moore & Siler.
It is out of repair and still. It is owned by the
National Bank. Samuel N. Baker, from
Shelbyville, Kentucky, settled on the Leatherwood in 1829,
and started a pottery; here he made red ware till 1833, when
he removed to Rockville and built another, which he kept in
operation until his death in 1860. This was run by his
sons, James H., Samuel and Charles, till 1873;
then the former started another in the northeast part of the
town. This pottery employs three turners and burns
from twenty to twenty-four kilns every year, averaging
upward of 40,000 gallons of ware. The old one, now
owned by the other brothers, produces about 24,000 gallons
annually. Both manufacture stoneware, and the former
flowerpots and vases. There are two saw and planing
mills in Rockville, which are kept constantly manufacturing
lumber the present season. The one owned by Solon
Ferguson was built by Joseph Chance in 1867, and
was then only a planing-mill; but in 1870 Ferguson
put in machinery for sawing. The same year Wm.
TenBrook erected a stave factory south of the depot;
this was consumed by fire on the night of April 1, 1871, and
was shortly after rebuilt, but was not run as a stave
factory above a year when it was changed into a planing-mil.
Andrew TenBrook bought the property in 1877,
and the mill was idle during the next two years, but in the
spring of 1880 Messrs. Hargrave & Lambert leased it
on trial and are doing a thriving business. They have
added a dryer which holds from 8,000 to 10,000 feet of
The first banking done in Rockville was by the
Rockville Bank, which was organized about 1853.
Besides some eastern capitalists, Gen. Steele, Persius
Harris, and other residents of the town and country,
were stockholders. It was not long before the views of
the eastern and western men were found not in harmony, and
the latter sold out to the others and the bank was moved
away. Directly a public meeting was held and a
preliminary organization of the Parke County Bank effected,
to commence business on September 1, 1855, with a capital of
$100,000. The first directors were Alexander
McCune, I. J. Silliman, John Sunderland, P. E. Harris, G. K.
Steele, Erastus M. Benson, Dr. James L. Allen, John
Milligan, and Salmon Lusk. In July, 1863, the
stockholders resolved to close up the affairs of the bank
and apply for a charter under the national banking act.
The board of directors was fixed at nine, the capital stock
at $125,000, and on September 1, the assets of the old
corporation were turned over to the First National Bank, and
the latter assumed the liabilities of the former. The
first directors were G. K. Steele, P. E. Harris, D. W.
Stark, D. R. Stith, D. H. Maxwell, E. M. Benson, I. J.
Silliman, B. C. Hobbs, and John Milligan. Gen.
Steele had been president of the Parke County Bank from
its organization; he was now elected president of the First
National Bank from its organization; he was now elected
president of the First National, and continued to be
annually reelected until 1871, when he declined to hold the
office longer. Calvin W. Levings had also been
cashier of the old bank from its inception, and he continued
in that position in the new. In 1864 the capital was
increased to $150,000, and in 1869 to $200,000. In
July, 1877, the affairs of the bank were wound up, and the
present national bank was organized with a capital of
$100,000. The present officers are J. M. Nichols,
president; S. L. McCune, cashier since 1874; and
J. M. McCune, directors. The association owns a
three story brick building, 48x75 feet, which was erected in
1874 at a cost of $36,000, the value of the lot being
reckoned in this sum. The second floor is used for
offices, while the National Hall, which seats about 600,
occupies the third.
The Parke Banking Company was organized in 1873 by
A. K. Stark, D. A. Coulter, and J. H. Tate, to do
a private banking business. The same year this company
erected their banking house, a building 20x93 feet, two
stories and a basement. In 1875 Mr. Coulter
retired and moved to Frankfort, Indiana.
The business and industries of Rockville are
represented by four general stores, one clothing house,
three groceries, two boot, shoe, and harness stores and one
harness shop, one provision and feed store, three furniture
stores and undertakers, two jewelry stores, three
agricultural and hardware stores, two bakeries and
restaurants, three grain warehouses, two newspaper and job
printing offices, two carriage and two wagon shops, two
blacksmith shops, two saw and planing mills, two hotels, two
boarding houses, three millinery establishments, two banks,
one photograph gallery, four shoemakers' shops, one repair
and machine shop, three saloons, two livery stables, two
brick-yards, one tile factory, two potteries, and several
loan, insurance and real estate offices. Other trades
and the professions are well represented.
In this "green
encampment of eternity" lie many of the original settlers;
and the place is consecrated to patriotic remembrance by the
graves of brave and true men, who have gone on in advance to
where celestial bugles "shall sound reveille."
Aaron Hand first gave the town an acre of ground
for a burial lot; later additions by purchase have increased
it to five acres and more. The earliest interments
were in 1824 or 1825; the first four were children of
Aaron Hand, Thomas Scott, Andrew Ray and Solomon
Simmons. The resting-place of the fifth is the
oldest one designated by a tablet bearing in inscription.
This is the grave of Sarah, wife of Caleb Williams,
who died June 2, 1826. The sixth was a stranger who
came into the neighborhood sick, and died at the house of
James Waters, after a week's illness. He gave his
name as Lockwood, which was all the information that
could be obtained from him. His appearance was that of
a beggar, though he carried in his pocket $175 in coin.
Probably there are no fewer than 2,000 graves in this
cemetery. In the grounds are several costly and
beautiful family monuments; among these is one each to
Gen. Steele, Mrs. John H. Lindley, James W. Beadle,
Alexander S. Alden, Mrs. Isaac G. Coffin, and the wife
and daughter of Dr. George P. Daly. The sexton,
Mr. John Alexander, has filled this post since April
30, 1843. He has given sepulture to over 900 of the
dead in this inclosure, and in this long period of service
has been singularly faithful both to dead and living.
There are 42 soldiers' graves. One soldier of the
revolution lies here - Jesse Duncan, who fought at
Guilford Court-house. This grave, on the east end of
lot No. 147, is unmarked, and all trace of it would long
since have disappeared had not Mr. Alexander taken
pains to preserve its identity. Prominent among the
soldiers buried here are Maj. George Harvey, who was
killed at Pittsburgh Landing; Lieut. John Baker, who
lost a leg at the battle of Antietam, and came home and died
of dropsy; and Jackson W. Whitted, scalded to death
on the steamer Eclipse. Following are the names of the
nation's defenders sepulchered in this cemetery:
||Wm. P. Bryant, Sr.
|George K. Steele
||James McEwen, Sr.
||James H. McEwen
|Charles E. Adamson
||James M. Phelon
||Robert E. Craig
|Jackson W. Whitted
||E. M. Foote
||Andrew S. Alden, Jr.
||B. W. Jones
|Milton H. Vance
||William P. Smith
||William Greene, Sr.
||Nelson V. W. Burns
|James S. Bowman
A dispensation was
issued to organize Rockville Lodge, A. F. and A. M., May 30,
1844. The first meeting was held on June 25, the
following brethren attending: Charles Grant, Jeptha
Garrigus, Caleb Williams, Randolph H. Wedding, Vestal W.
Coffin, Albert G. Coffin, David L. Hamilton, Henry Slaven
and Joseph B. Cornelius. The officers installed
were Peter Q. Stryker, W. M.; John Briggs, S.W.;
Seba H. Case, J. W.; Joseph B. Cornelius,
secretary; Wm. M. Ramsey, tyler. The trustees
for the current year are Harrison J. Rice, Wm. H.
Hargrave and Shelby C. Puett. Regular
communications are held on Monday night on or before the
full moon of each month. The lodge occupies a hall on
the east side of the square, which it leases for a term of
years. The number of members is forty-nine. This
lodge has always been in a prosperous condition, and has
exercised a good degree of usefulness. The laying of
the corner-stone of the new court-house, under the auspices
of Parke Lodge, was a recent notable public act in its
history. The ceremony took place in the presence of a
fair sized assemblage of citizens, and the lodges from Terre
Haute and Judson, and delegations of the fraternity from
Annapolis, Bellemore, Mansfield, Roseville, Harveysburg and
elsewhere, and was performed by most worshipful Grand Master
Robert Van Valzah, assisted by a full corps of
Masonic officials. At the conclusion of the ceremonies
Dr. Harrison J. Rice, a member of the Parke Lodge
delivered an historical address of great interest and highly
befitting to the occasion. In the casket deposited in
the stone was placed a copy of the oration, and of the
charter of the lode, together with many other articles which
it is expected will be of curious interest to the citizens
of Rockville centuries hence.
An application for a dispensation for Parke Chapter,
No. 37, was made July 11, 1856. At a convocation of
Royal Arch Masons held on that day were present Addison
L. Roach, M. G. Wilkison, John T. Price, H. Alvord, P. Q.
Stryker and L. A. Foote, and an organization was
made by appointing Roach to the chair and Foote
as secretary. A committee consisting of Wilkison,
Price and Foote was appointed to procure a
dispensation. On October 7, they reported, adn
presented a dispensation which they had obtained from
William Hacker, most excellent grand high priest of
Indiana. The meeting organized with William Hacker,
grand high priest, presiding; S. F. Maxwell, K.;
P. Q. Stryker, S.; ___ Sayer, C. H.; L. A.
Foote, P. S.; J. S. Dare, R. A. C.; H.
Alvord, G. M. T. V.; John T. Price, G. M. S. V.;
M. G. Wilkison, G. M. F. V. A charter was
issued by the officersof the Grand Chapter of Indiana May
21, 1857. At this date the membership was twenty-one.
The first officers under the charter were: L. A. Roach,
H. P.; S. F. Maxwell, K; P. Q. Stryker, S.;
J. T. Price, C. H.; L. A. Foote, P.. S.; J. S.
Dare, R. A. C.; W. D. Thomas, G. M. T. V.; J.
M. T. Bright, G. M. S. V.; J. H. Davy, G. M. F.
V.; A. K. Phelon, G. The officers for 1880 are
the following: H. J. Rice, H. P.; J. B. Connelly,
K.; J. F. Cross, S.; Wm. M. Ramsey, C. H.;
David Strouse, P. S.; Clinton Murphy, R.
A. C.; Samuel Strouse, G. M. T. V.; Wm. H.
Hargrave, G. M. S. V.; G. W. Overpeck, G. M. F.
V.; John Baker, treasurer; S. R. Jackman,
secretary; Thomas Barnes, G. The
membership numbers thirty-five. Convocations are on
Tuesday night on or before the full moon of each month, in
the same hall used by Parke Lodge, No. 8.
Howard Lodge, No. 71, I. O. O. F., the oldest in Parke
county, was instituted at Rockville Nov. 9, 1849, by
Taylor W. Webster, D. D. G. M., of Ladoga - assisted by
Joshua Ridge, Samuel Noel, William Dromer, Samuel Stover,
James Houston and William Detrick. It was
named in honor of John Howard, the eminent christian
philanthropist of England. The charter members were
F. W. Dinwiddie, Joseph Phillips, Charles W. Stryker, Samuel
A. Fisher and William McClure. Of these
Dinwiddie and Stryker are still members of the
lodge. McClure belonged to Putnam Lodge, No.
45, and simply lent his name and membership for organizing
Howard Lodge. The charter bears date Jan. 10, 1850,
and is signed by the following prominent members of the
Grand Lodge in that early day; Job B. Eldridge, M. W.
G. M.; Oliver Dufour, W. D. G. M.; Joseph L.
Silcox, W. G. W.; J. B. McChesney, G. T.; Laz
Noble, G. S.; Robert Scott, G. C.; W. M.
Monroe, G. Con.; H. J. Carriff, G. G. ; O. P.
Brown, P. G. M.; Schuyler Colfax, D. D. G. M.;
George Brown, G. Rep.; W. M. French, Milton
Herndon and J. P. Chapman, Past Grands.
O. J. Innis and Charles Colvert were initiated
and received all the degrees on the night of instituting.
The first elective officers were F. W. Dinwiddie, P.
G.; Samuel A. Fisher, N. G.; Charles W. Stryker,
V. G.; O. J. Innis, Rec. and P. Sec., and Joseph
Phillips, Treas. The lodge was organized in the
Masonic lodge room in the court-house, that fraternity
kindly granting the use of their hall until Howard Lodge had
time to fit up one of her own. The first Odd-Fellows
lodge room was in a two-story building, which is yet
standing, and is now used for a blacksmith shop. This
lodge started out with six working members, and struggled
with but few accessions for a few years, then took a start
and grew rapidly until the war broke out, when many of the
members enlisted in the army, and the attention of the
remaining ones to the cause of their country depleted the
lodge, and Odd Fellowship waned. But when peace was
restored the lodge received a sudden infusion of prosperity,
and its growth has been steady up to this time. Since
1876 the Odd-Fellows have built a three -story brick
building on the north side of the public square, at a cost
of $5,000, on the third floor of which is situated the
spacious and handsome hall used by the fraternity.
Rockville Encampment, No. 95, was instituted Nov. 9,
1849, and at this time has about twenty members.
Within the past three or four years the number has fallen
off one half. The charter bears the signatures of
W. C. Lumpton, grand patriarch, and E. H. Barry,
grand scribe. Eight members have died and left widows
and orphans, who have been liberally provided for when in
need, receiving money, school books, tuition and clothing.
The orphan fund in $1,600, but none of the orphans require
its benefits. The general fund approximates $1,200.
The lodge has paid large sums in weekly benefits; in 1876
one member who had been disabled by a fall had received, in
the course of thirteen yeas, $1,000. The twenty-fifth
anniversary of the institution of the lodge was celebrated
publicly Nov. 9, 1874. Over 900, including brethren
and invited guests, were furnished with a sumptuous dinner,
got up by the ladies, at the National Hall.
Schuyler Colfax delivered an able address in his usually
Silliman Lodge, No. 66, Knights of Pythias, was
instituted Sept. 8, 1875, by D. D. G. C. Albert Dickey,
of Crawfordsville, assisted by the members of De Bayard
Lodge, No. 39, of the same place. The charter was
granted Jan. 25, 1876, by C. P. Tuley, grand
chancellor of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, and teh charter
members were as follows: William R. Fry, M. J.
Cochran, William P. Strain, Z. Byers, W. N. McCampbell, O.
J. Innis, T. H. Holmes, J. Wise, J. S. Hunnell, William H.
Gillum, George B. Chapman, J. B. Connelly, J. E. Woodard, J.
D. Carlisle, William Rembolz, R. Christian, Charles H.
Bigwood, David A. Roach, E. A. Matson, S. C. Puett, William
D. Sill, F. M. Hall, S. D. Puett, A. J. East and John
B. Dowd. The first offices were D. A. Roach,
P. C.; William H. Gillum, C. C.; William P.
Strain, V. C.; J. S. Hunnell, Prel.; M. J.
Cochrane, K. of R. and S.; S. C. Pruett, M. of
F.; W. D. Sill, M. of E.; O. J. Innis, M. at
A.; William Rembolz, D. S., and T. H. Holmes,
O. G. F. M. Hall, E. A. Matson and William
Rembolz were the first trustees. The present
officers are William J. White, P. C.; David
Strouse, C. C.; J. F. Cross, V. C.; Z. T.
Overman, Prel.; James H. Bigwood, M. of E.;
D. H. Webb, M. of F.; William F. Bigwood, K. of
R. and S.; J. H. Brown, M. at A.; Charles
Stevenson, J. G.; John R. Boyd, O. G. The
present trustees are J. B. Connelly, W. N. McCampbell,
S. C. Puett. Silliman Lodge has 107 members in
good standing, and is in an exceptionally flourishing
condition. It has the reputation of being the best
working lodge in Indiana. Meetings occur every
Wednesday night in Castle Hall, in the third story of
Shackleford's Block, on the north side of the square,
and members of the order in good sanding have a cordial
invitation to attend.
Rockville Lodge, No. 21, A. O. U. W., was chartered by
the Grand Lodge of Indiana, Feb. 28, 1877. The first
officers were S. C. Pruett, P. M. W.; John F.
Meacham, M. W.; D. M. Carlisle, G. F.; O. P.
Fisher, O.; J. A. Carrick, recorder; S. E.
Hunt, financier; W. N. McCampbell, receiver;
Thomas A. Britton, G.; W. L. Hutchinson, I. W.,
and Thomas Sneath, O. W. The above and some
others were charter members. The present officers are
Leonidas McMillin, P. M. W.; John B. Carlisle,
M. W.; John H. Lee, G. F.; James A. Hayes, O.;
S. L. Good, recorder; W. T. Patton, F.;
W. S. Joiner, receiver; W. H. Good, G.; C. C.
Morris and Thomas Sneath are the present
trustees. The lodge has forty-one members and meets
every Thursday night in the Odd-Fellows' Hall.
The McCune cadets, a volunteer military company
organized as state militia, was sworn into the service, with
forty-eight members, Apr. 30, 1880. This company has
secured the second story of the woollen factory for an
armory, where they meet for drill every Tuesday and Friday
night. On the organization of the company, February 3,
a partial set of officers was elected, consisting of
Clinton Murphy, captain; Isaac R. Strouse, first
lieutenant, and Frank E. Stevenson, sergeant.
When mustered in, April 30, the following were elected for
the ensuing year: Clinton Murphy, captain; Frank
E. Stevenson, first lieutenant; C. E. Lambert,
second lieutenant; William L. Mason, orderly
sergeant; Lannie L. Ticknor, second sergeant;
William D. Stevenson, third sergeant; Frank H.
Nichols, fourth sergeant; Tighlman Bryant, fifth
sergeant; Isaac Strouse, first corporal, and
George S. Cole, fourth corporal. The company has
also the following civil officers: Ed. R. Dinwiddie,
president; Benjamin Grimes, vice-president;
William J. Kendall, financial secretary; I. Harris
Coffin, company clerk, and Clinton Murphy,
treasurer. The cadets have been furnished by the state
with breech-loading Springfield rifles. They are
uniformed with navy-blue coats and sky-blue trousers and
caps. Cost of uniforms, $11.75.
General Steele Post, No. 9, G. A. R., was organized
September 3, 1879, with thirty-three members; J.
Cummings, adjutant general of Indiana, being present and
delivering an address of the occasion. The first
officers were W. W. McCune, P. C.; James T.
Johnson, S. V. C.; Joseph Ohaver, J. V. C.; W.
D. Mull, surgeon; J. A. Mitchell, chaplain; F.
M. Howard, adjutant; Clinton Murphy, Q. M.;
John F. Meacham, O. D.; and Ashford Hand,
O. G. Present officers: James T. Johnston, P.
C.; J. F. Meacham, S. V. C.; A. F. White, J.
V. C.; George F. Myers, Q. M.; Wm. D. Mull,
surgeon; J. A. Mitchell, chaplain; F. M. Howard,
adjutant; John B. Dowd, O. D.; and Thomas Boos,
O. G. There are now seventy-three comrades. This
post numbers among its members some of the most prominent
and influential men in Parke county. Meetings are held
on the first and third Tuesdays of each month in the Grand
Army's Hall on the third floor of Rice & Co's block.
In 1871 the Sand Creek Coal Company was incorporated
with capital stock of $300,000; paid up stock $120,000.
The incorporators were Wm. P. Cutler & Co., Isaac C.
Elston, John Lee, Gen. Lew, Wallace, Wm. H. Nye, and Joseph
L. Boyd. Nye was the first president;
Gen. Wallace, secretary; and Isaac C. Elston,
treasurer. The present officers are Capt. John H.
Lindley, president; N. W. Cummings, secretary;
and Gen. M. D. Manson, treasurer. The
corporation owns 600 acres of choice coal land lying in a
solid body in sections 28, 33, and 34 in Washington
township. A branch track of the Terre Haute and
Logansport railroad, a mile and a half long, runs out from
Sand Creek station to the mines. The coal annually
taken out since the opening of these has varied from 30 to
150 men is kept always employed. During the panic of
1873 the employes were paid with the accustomed regularity
and promptitude of the corporation.
Robinson Lodge, No. 134, I. O. G. T., was organized in
June, 1875, J. B. Cheadle, F. R. Whipple, John T.
Campbell, and several others of the best citizens of
Rockville being charter members.
Strain Lodge, No. 729, I. O. G. T., was chartered Feb.
18, 1879, with F. M. Howard, E. C. McMurtry, A. H.
Cheney, J. W. Brown, Miss Anna Allen, Miss Ella Coffin, Miss
Belle Mason, Mrs. David Strouse, and about forty others.
The number of members has not varied much at any time since
the organization. The lodge convenes Tuesday evenings
in the hall occupied by the Knights of Pythias.
The work of the Rockville Blue Ribbon Club has been
carried on with fidelity by those who engaged in it at its
organization. About the beginning of the year 1877
Mrs. Russell and others, traveling lectures and
laborers, came to Rockville and began a series of meetings
in the court-house; they worked up a powerful revival, in
the course of which some 2,000 signed the pledge.
Numbers have since fallen out of the ranks but the movement
has been adopted by the best men and women of Rockville who
have given their sympathy and cordial exertions in its
behalf. The work of this club has generally been taken
up by the religious societies of the place and made a church
reform. Meetings are held once a month. The
first officers were J. S. Rogers, president; Henry
Daniels, secretary; and Wm. Hargrave, treasurer.
B. W. Shackleford was the second president, and has
worked untiringly to promote the cause. The present
officers are Solon Ferguson, president; Jesse B.
Connelly, vice president; James Glass, 2nd
vice-president; Frank Foster, secretary; and
William Hargrave, treasurer. The agitation of this
reform has brought into existence the Parke County Blue
Ribbon Club, which has been organized since August, 1879.
Its meetings are on the first Saturday of each month in
different parts of the county by appointment.
These "organizations" are indicative of a well
regulated and social community, and are indispensable to it;
but none of the large number which Rockville enjoys are as
capable of "making themselves heard," as the cornet band, of
which there are two. White's band was organized
in June, 1873. Following are the members: W. J.
White, teacher; George H. Baker, president;
Silas L. Good, secretary; Wm. F. Bigwood,
treasurer; David Strouse, business manager, I. R.
Strouse, Frank White, Charles Rice, D. M. Carlisle, Ed.
Good, David Webb, Allen Elliott, and Charles
Stevenson. This hand has never once lapsed since
it came into being; and with the exception of Wallace
Baker and John M. Bigwood, who have removed, it
has preserved its original membership. White's
band furnished the music at the laying of the corner-stone
of the new court-house.
Elliott's Band was organized May 11, 1880, with
the following members: Benjamin Grimes,
president; E. E. Hendricks, secretary; A. M.
Elliott, treasurer; Lincoln Fisher, Nelson Evans, A.
M. Carlisle, Howard Aydelotte, Dan. Thomas, S. Comfrait,
John Stevens, John Strain and Jack Dison.