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History & Genealogy

(Source:  History of Vigo & Parke County, Indiana - Chicago: H. H. Hill & N. Iddings, 1880, 1310 pgs.
(Transcribed by Sharon Wick)

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    This is one of the western tier of townships in the county, and is bounded on the north by Reserve township, on the east by Adams, on the south by Florida, and on the west by Wabash river.  Along the river and in places running back some considerable distance are the Wabash bottoms; these are considered the richest land in the state, although up the river at the northwest corner of the township the land is higher but not broken, and is therefore the most valuable in this part of the county; the middle and northeastern part of the township is quite hilly, the bluffs in places rising abruptly to a considerable height.  These hills are to quite an extent underlaid with coal; a fair quality of building stone is also obtained in places; and iron, too, is said to exist upon Iron creek, in the northeast part of the township.  Raccoon creek, the only stream of any importance in the township, enters it from the south and winds northward some little more than half way through the township, then turns west and runs almost directly to the river.  On this stream Mr. Abner Cox built the first mill of any note in this part of the county.  To it came the pioneers, some in row-boats, some with cart and oxen, and some from the more inaccessible parts of the country, came with grists on horseback, winding their way over hills and through the thick forests of timber that were then scarcely broken by the sturdy settler's axe.  This mill was built near Armiesburg.  After the mill came other improvements in the way of a mill to grind out whisky from rye and corn, making a home market for farmers' produce. ( It was discovered a few yeas later that there was a worm in this still-house that was more venomous than any reptile ever found in Parke county. )  In about 1830 Patterson, Silliman & Co. ( Mr. Alexander McCune being the company and furnished the money ) started a store here, where pork could be sold for $1,50 per hundred, and salt could be bought for $7 per barrel, and calico for 35 to 40 cents per yard.
     It is known by some now living that the first settlers had hauled wheat to Chicago, Louisville and Cincinnati, Ohio, and sold it for 60 cents per bushel and hauled back merchandise.
     Among the early pioneers may be mentioned Isaac Ghormly and family, Daniel James and Aquilla Justice, Lucius Kebby and family, Aquilla Puntenney, Mark and Thomas Cooke, William Hixon, Azariah Brown, James and Aquilla Laverty.  Many of the descendants of these pioneers are the men of Wabash township, though some have barely left a representative.
At the time the early settlers came the Indians were numerous.  In this township was one section of land given by the state to Christmas Dazney, mention of which is made in another part of this work.  The Indians were peaceable but idle and shiftless.




     Interments at a very early date were made in the most convenient places, and in some instances, where the early settler found his last resting place is now producing fields of golden grain, and the public road passes over the graves of two young men, early pioneers, who were killed by the Indians; but for the last forty years this part of humane respect and religious rite has been more carefully observed.  In about 1836 Leatherwood burying-ground was begun, and in 1849 was deeded by Isaac Silliman to the trustees of the Society of United Brethren.  The ground is fenced, and a neat little church, 25 x 35 feet, has been erected.  In this place is buried four of Mr. Pittman's daughters: Rebecca, Mary A., Susan A. and Sarah.
Several years ago Mr. William Hixon deeded to the trustees a piece of land in Sec. 19, T. 15, for a burial place for the dead.  About the first buried there was a Mr. Vandiver, but previous to that a number of the early settlers were buried just west, below the bluff.  The present place is far above the country's level, on a beautiful hill.  On this eminence, many years ago, stood the Methodist Episcopal church.  In 1868 it was taken down and moved to its present site on Terre Haute and La Fayette state road, about two miles south of Armiesburg.
     The first school-house was built in 1834, by Mr. A. McCune, about three-fourths of a mile southeast of Mecca.  It was built of logs, with one log left out.  Over this aperture was pasted greased paper.  This served as a window.  For seats they used split logs, flat side up.  The backs of the children brought with them in the morning, and invariably took them home at night.
     Flat-boat building was an industry carried on by some of the early settlers, as well as boating down the river to New Orleans.  Among some of the most conspicuous in this business were Mr. A. McCune and Mr. A. D. Brown, they having made many trips down the river.  Mr. McCune says he went over thirty-five times to New Orleans.
     If any one township in Parke county more than another can boast of her (unfinished) railroads it is Wabash.  In 1873 Mr. Young, of Chicago, started the Indiana Division of the Chicago, Danville & Vincennes railroad.  It was graded about half way through the township from the south side, running through the Raccoon bottoms.  Thus truss bridges were also erected.  In 1854 the Illinois Central and Indiana Central surveyed a line through the northern part of Wabash township, but never built the road.  In 1874 a company formed to build the Springfield road.  This line passed over the old survey.  On Oct. 15, 1875, the contract was let to Dolby, Lockie & Co. to build and own the road from Montezuma to Indianapolis via Rockville.  The grading was begun in the fall of 1875, and in the winter of 1876 they failed and the road was abandoned.  Thus the fond hopes of the Wabash people, as well as those of Rockville, perished, and like the morning dew flitted away, and the prospective railroads, like the canal, are "hopes deferred."
     One of the most extensive land owners in this township, if not in Parke county, is Aquilla Laverty.  He owns 3,636 acres of land, two of the best business houses, and the best private residence in Montezuma.







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