This division of Parke
county obtained its name on account of having formed part of
the Indian reserve, which consisted of a strip of territory on
the Wabash river, seven miles in width, extending from the
mouth of Sugar Creek to the mouth of Big Raccoon. It
comprises twenty-two full and five fractional sections, and
formerly contained a large portion of what is now Penn
township. Its western boundary being the Wabash river,
it early attracted the attention of those pioneers in search
of new homes in the west, the river guaranteeing them a
market for their produce. The other boundaries are, on
the north, Liberty township; east, Penn township, and south,
Wabash township. Reserve contains the largest farms in
the county, and comprises a splendid body of arable land, the
whole of its territory being well suited for agriculture, with
the exception of the breaks on the north adjoining Sugar
creek. The western part consists of a nearly level strip
of country extending north and south the whole length of the
township, and eastward from the river two miles, where it
terminates in a bluff covered with valuable timber. The
eastern half is more rolling and broken, yet has some of the
best wheat lands in the county. The river bottom lands
are extensive and exceedingly rich, producing in favorable
seasons enormous crops of corn. Sugar creek flows across
the northern part of the township and empties into the Wabash,
while Leatherwood creek crosses the southeastern corner.
Ohio, which furnished quite
a number of the early settlers in this part of the state, was
well prepared to supply pioneers to subdue another wilderness,
having been settled amid all the hardships of border life and
alarms of savage warfare, and it was only those inured to
perils and hardships who first pressed into the wilds of
Indiana. North Carolina also furnished a number of the
pioneers of this part of the county, the most of whom were
members of the Society of Friends, whose moral training and
practical Christianity have made their mark on the characters
of the people. The early settlements here were not
opposed or harassed by the Indians, they being strongly
impressed with the strength and perseverance of the palefaces
by past experience.
Among the first settlers to arrive in the township were
the Linebergers, in 1822, the next being John
Beard, who erected the first mill on Sugar creek in the
same year, the Browns, Mellekins, and Jorias Horgar,
immigrating about the same time. In the southeastern
part, in 1825, came Puett and Charles Burton; in
1826 Solomon Allen arrived, the other early settlers
being Warren Davis, Daniel Wickersham, the Morris
family, Isiah Pemberton, Peyton Wilson, Abraham
Halliday, Jeremiah Siler and others. Another
settlement was that at Montezuma, those in the van being
Whitlock, Majors, Joseph Hayes, Webster and Feeney,
who arrived about 1823 or 1824. William and Thomas
Cook, James and Samuel Hill, Aquilla
Justus, John Shook, and
Chatsworth, also arrived at an early date. The rill
of immigration soon swelled into a river, which poured a
strong and steady current of population into the heart of the
forest, which had long stood undisturbed in its sylvan
magnificence, but was not doomed to disappear before the
leveling axe of industry.
Among the industries we find that, after farming, the
milling interest was the next to attract attention; the first
to erect a mill in the township being John Beard, whose
corn-cracker was put in operation in 1822, shortly after his
arrival. It was situated on Sugar creek, at what is now
known as West Union. The mill was a log structure, and
the grinding arrangement consisted of a pair of nigger-head
burrs, which if sharp, or newly dressed, would grind about
three bushels per hour. When the settlers wanted flour
they had to journey to Roseville, where the nearest
flouring-mill was situated. In 1826 Salmon Lusk
erected a ill at the Narrows, and in 1827 Simon Rubottom
built one on Leatherwood creek, and in the same year another
mill was put up near Armiesburg, Solomon Allen
assisting in its construction; so that after that date the
pioneers in this township did not have very far to travel with
their grists. The implements used by the early settlers
were of rude construction, and the following description of
the advancement made will be of interest. The first in
importance was of course the chopping axe, it being in
dispensable in a country like this, and was used for numerous
purposes, - felling trees, clearing ground, building cabins,
etc., - and was, like the pioneer himself, designed for use,
The Carey plow, the one most in use here, was
rudely constructed, having a wrought-iron share and wooden
mold-board. This was succeeded, about 1839, by a cast
plow manufactured by W. G. Coffin at his foundry, two
and a half miles northwest of Bloomingdale. This
implement was, however, so clumsy and heavy that it never
became a favorite, and was soon driven from the field by the
Peacock plow, which had a cast mold-board and wrought-iron
share. This, manufactured at Cincinnati, excelled all
its predecessors, and was the first to be honored with a coat
of paint. About five years later the Richmond steel plow
appeared, and about the same time the left-hand plow came into
use. With the later improvements all are familiar.
The fields of the first settlers were not very
extensive, and consequently their crops were not large.
In fact, during the first few years they had no incentive to
raise more than they could consume, as there was no market for
surplus products. The flail was the implement first in
sue to thresh the train with, but was not so popular a method
as that of tramping it out with horses, which was adopted
later. The grain and chaff were separated with the wind,
or by a sheet in the hands of two persons. The first
threshing-machine arrived in Reserve about 1839 or 1849.
This was owned by Elsberry Jinnett, and was a very
incomplete affair, threshing from fifty to one hundred bushels
per day, and delivering the grain and chaff together, to be
afterward separated with a fan. The necessary motion was
given by a two-horse tread power. The four-horse Ground
Hog machine, as it was called, supplanted the other in a few
years, and through it was an improvement on it yet it was a
rude affair in comparison with those now in use.
The mowing scythe, hand rake and wooden pitchfork were
the implements of hay harvest, the latter being often a forked
sapling with the prongs sharpened. The grain scoop was
not known for several years after the first settling of this
county, and in cribbing corn it was either thrown with the
hands or pushed out of the end of the wagon with the foot.
The first one in the township was made of wood, and was owned
by John Fortner. Iron scoops came into general
use about 1838.
On the account of this being reserve land it was not
put upon the market as early as other parts of the county, and
here game of all kinds remained some time after they had been
driven from the other settlements. The black bear could
be found here occasionally after the arrival of the settlers;
in fact, in 1827 Solomon Allen killed one in his
door-yard. Deer were in large droves, and furnished the
pioneers with their principal article of food, while their
skins were used for a variety of purposes. Wild turkeys
were formerly very abundant, though but few are now seen,
while ducks and geese, which formerly frequented this country
in countless numbers, are now greatly reduced, the marshes and
ponds, their former resorts, having been drained out.
The raccoon, opossum, fox, mink, otter, wolf, muskrat, weasel
and other fur animals were formerly very numerous, but now few
of them remain.
Flat-boating was largely carried on from this part of
the county, those vessels being the only conveyance then in
sue to transport the produce to market, and the building and
manning of them gave employment to a number of hands. A
boat-yard was situated near the mouth of Rush creek at an
early date, and on several points of Sugar creek other
building yards were located, full information regarding which
will be given in the history of Penn township.
In 1824 was taught the first school in the township.
This was in the north, in what was known as the Lineberger
settlement. At this time there was no school-house , so
the sessions were held in the house of Jorias Horgar,
his son being a teacher. About a year later the first
school-house was erected in this settlement, the teacher being
B. Raymond, who was followed by Phillips.
The first school in the southern settlement was taught by
James Siler, in a vacant cabin near the residence of
Solomon Allen, who boarded the teacher for thirty-seven
and a half cents per week.
The first birth in this settlement was that of
Joseph Allen, in 1827, and the first death that of
Solomon Allen's infant child, about a year later.
The first arrival of Mr. Allen in this
neighborhood was quite an acquisition, he being a wheelwright
and cabinet maker, and also made all the coffins required in
the neighborhood, those articles ranging in price from
twenty-five cents to three dollars, according to size.
After paying for his land on reaching this settlement, he had
87 1/2 cents left to begin the world with. On getting
his cabin built he immediately seasoned lumber, from which he
constructed tubs, buckets and other articles of domestic use,
the proceeds from the sale of which enabled him to live until
he got a few acres cleared, and was enabled to raise a crop.
The second season of his residence here he spent seventy-two
days assisting his neighbors in log rolling, and raising
cabins and barns.
In the north of the township is a Methodist
meeting-house, the congregation at which was organized shortly
after the settlement of the county; Mr. H. Smith, one
of the early preachers of this denomination being the
organizer, and Stephen Cooper his successor in charge
of the congregation. In 1832 a hewed log house was
built, which served them until 1847, when another house was
erected. In 1868 the present church house, 32X54 feet,
known as Lineberger chapel, was built at a cost of
$2,200. The congregation is now in charge of Rev. Mr.
A Baptist church, known as Reserve church, in the
same neighborhood, was instituted at an early date, and is
still occupied by a congregation of that body, Rev. Joe
Skeeters being the minister.
In the southeast part of the township is situated the
church house of the Rocky Run Society of Friends, which met
first about 1830, in a little log school house. A
request was made from here to Bloomfield (now Bloomingdale)
monthly meeting, 10th month, 23d, 1833, for a preparative
meeting at this point, and the grant was issued from White
Lick quarterly meeting, 3d month, 5th, 1834. The
committee appointed to take charge of the request being
Isaac Suggart, Joshua Newlin, John Newlin, Stephen Kersey,
and William Morrison. In view of the
establishment of this meeting a committee was appointed 12th
month, 11th, 1833, to assist Rocky Run Friends to settle upon
a boundary line between them and Bloomfield. They
finally agreed upon the state road from Rockville to Newport,
those living south to belong to Rocky Run, those north to
Bloomfield. This line, however, was not then, nor is it
now, strictly adhered to, owing to personal preference in a
This town is situated
in the southwest corner of Reserve township, on the Wabash
river, and was early a place of considerable importance, it
being the principal shipping point in this part of the county
during the early years of the settlements, when the Wabash was
the great commercial highway of this western country.
About 1823 or 1824, the town was laid off by Whitlock
and Majors, and the first store opened by Joseph M.
Hayes; next was Nesmith, whose stock consisted of
two bolts of calico and a barrel of whisky. Feeney's
store was next; the building which he occupied still is
standing in town. Mr. Chatsworth was then first
justice of the peace, and the first physician was Dr.
Samuel Hill, who arrived at an early date. The first
frame house, which is still in existence, was built by a man
The river towns at that time consisted of Montezuma,
Covington, Portland, Attica, Williamsport, LaGrange, and
Lafayette, and a spirited race ensued between them for the
first place on the river and emporium of the upper Wabash.
As river towns they all possessed equal advantages, natural
and commercial, and it was hard to decide for some years which
would eventually be successful. Keel-boats and pirogues
touched at all those towns, and the same pioneer steamboats
did the carrying trade of each. Among the best known of
those vessels were the Victory, Paul Pry, Daniel Boon, William
Tell, Facility, Fairy Queen, Fidelity, Science, Republican,
and others. Eventually Lafayette obtained and kept the
first position, and Montezuma struggled along in the rear.
On the completion of the Wabash and Erie canal, in 1850, the
town took a fresh start, and from that date to 1860 was the
most prosperous period it ever experienced. Business of
all kinds was transacted here fro all this part of the
country, and the business men of the town look back with
longing eyes to that glorious period of its existence.
On the closing of the water highway business gradually
languished and fell away until 1873, when the Indianapolis,
Decatur & Springfield railroad was constructed through the
township, and a station opened at this point, the company also
building their repair shops here. Since that date the
town has been steadily growing, and bids fair to attain to a
position far ahead of its former prosperous one.
The business interests now here represented are a large
flouring-mill, four grain warehouses,,, two saw-mills, one
planing-mill, a packing and slaughter house, two drygoods
stores, six grocery stores, two drug stores, one clothing
store, one hotel, three boarding houses, one livery stable,
agricultural implement store, and two saloons. The town
is divided into five wards, and its affairs are managed by a
board of trustees, of which Mr. Stephenson is clerk.
The present population of the town is about 700, and that of
the township 1,550. The value of real estate of
Montezuma corporation is $123,060; of the township; $456,466;
that of personal property in Montezuma, $105,075, and of the
township $123,095. The railroad repair shops, which gave
employment to quite a number of hands, were destroyed by fire
in August 1880, and at present writing have not been rebuilt.
The religious wants of the people are supplied by three
churches. Presbyterian, Methodist and Roman Catholic,
each of which have handsome church buildings.
The Presbyterian church was erected in 1853, the first
minister being Rev. John Hawks, who organized the
congregation and instigated the erection of the meeting-house.
He was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Griffith, who was
followed by Rev. William Wilmer. The Rev. Mr.
Stinson, from Kentucky, is now pastor. The
congregation now numbers thirty-six members, with G. Wilson
and John X. Ireland as elders.
The Methodist congregation was organized shortly after
the settlement of the town. The church building was
erected in 1849, through the energy and ministerial labors of
Rev. Hezekiah Smith, who visited this neighborhood at
that time, and infused fresh life into the society, which now
numbers seventy members, with the Rev. Mr. McLain in
The Roman Catholic church, known as the Church of the
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is of more recent date
than the other two religious organizations in town. The
first priest in charge of the mission here was Father
McCarty. There are at present eighteen families in
communion with this church, who are now eighteen families in
communion with this church, who are now under the care of
Father Kintrup, who took charge of the mission in April
last. The church-house, which is 25X45 feet, was erected
at a cost of $1,000, the lot having been donated by Mr.
Davis, of Rockville, a short time since. A dwelling
for the priest was erected at the west end of the church.
A cemetery belonging to the members of this denomination is
located two miles south of town.
Montezuma Lodge, No. 89, A. F. and A. M. was chartered
May 28, 1861, its first officers and charter members being:
W. M., R. M. Gilkerson; S. W., Firman Allen; J.
W., Jacob Myers; treasurer, George Kretz;
secretary, Thomas Griffith; S. D., David Phillips;
J. D., William McIntosh. At present the lodge
numbers forty members, and is in good working order and
splendid financial condition. It meets on Wednesday
night before the full moon, and every two weeks thereafter, on
the corner of Washington and Crawford streets. The
officers for 1880 are: W. M., William N. Akins;
S. W., F. S. Bipus; J. W., W. C. Raynes;
treasurer, C. F. Shute; secretary, William
McMasters; S. D., S. P. Sylvester; J. D.,
Reserve Lodge, No. 102, I. O. O. F., was instituted
November 10, 1851, the charter members being Samuel A.
Fisher, John W. Wade, James Jacobs, George H. Ribble, Samuel
D. Hill and George W. Thompson. Of the above
mentioned members only James Jacobs now retains a
membership in the lodge. The following are the first
officers: N. G., James Jacobs; V. G., Samuel
D. Hill; secretary, George W. Thompson;
treasurer, George H. Ribble. The lodge which now
has a membership of thirty-four members, meets every Tuesday
evening in the hall over E. G. Wilson's store, on
Washington street, and though small, is enterprising, and in
splendid condition, having a widow and orphan fund amounting
to $1,100. The officers elected for the year beginning
July 1, 1880, are: N. G., John Horn; V. G., William
X. Ireland; secretary, William McMasters;
treasurer, John X. Ireland.
Montezuma Lodge No. 37, A. O. U. W., was organized
October, 1879, with seventeen members, the first officers
being: P. M. W., O. J. Craig; M. W., W. N. Akins;
foreman, Sharon Case; overseer, Winfield Walmsley;
recorder, C. F. Christie; financial recorder,
William F. Hughes; receiver, G. W. Moore; I. W.,
Henry Langford; O. W., J. Johnson; trustees, Dr.
McCune, Richard Walmsley and Sharon Case.
The lodge, which now numbers twenty-four members meets every
Monday night in Ireland's Hall, on the corner of Canal
street. The present officers are: P. M. W., W.
N. Akins; M. W., James Stevenson; foreman,
Winfield Walmsley; overseer, Sharon Case; financial
recorder, C. F. Davis; recorder, W. L. Raynes;
I. W., J. Johnson; O. W., John E. Donelson.
The trustees of the township since the change in
the law requiring one instead of three trustees are:
James Jacobs, Firman Allen, William McMasters, W. S. Hill,
Robert O. Jones, James Jacobs, S. D. Hill, E. G. Wilson
and William A. Henderson, the present incumbent.
A graded school is here located in a handsome two-story
brick building, which was erected in 1860, and cost $4,000.
The first principal was Prof. Craig, who filled the
position for many years. The gentleman now in charge of
the institution is Prof. Hancock.
Is a small trading
point, with a population of about seventy-five, situated in
the southeast corner of the township, on Rocky Run creek.
The village was regularly laid out in 1876, but was located in
1864, when William Lewis opened the first store.
M. Morris bought him out, and was the first postmaster
at this point. The only store now located here is
owned by William P. Musgrave. A tile factory and
saw mill add to the importance of the place. Rocky Run
Friends church is situated in the village. The present
building, 40X50 feet, was erected about 1861, at a cost of
$800. Education is provided for by a graded school.
Dr. Woodard is the resent physician.