Shelby  County,  Indiana

1876  History  of  Shelby  County,  Indiana,
by  a  Committee  of  Citizens


To facilitate convenience of reference and for the sake of completeness, our work will be placed under the following seven paragraphs:

   I.  Historical, in which will be traced the original settlement and organization of the county.
  II.  Descriptive, in which a description will be drawn of what this county was in 1822, as compared with 1876.

 III.  Tabular, in which tables will be found of the early settlers, of our present inhabitants who have lived here over fifty years, of the officers of the county, the Bar, the Medical profession, the Clergy and the Mayors of Shelbyville.

 IV.  The statistics of the population and produce.

  V.  An enumeration of Public Improvements.

 VI.  Our Industries.

VII.  Under the designation of Benevolent, we propose a glance at our schools, churches, and other intellectual and humane institutions.

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Shelby County,


From 1822 to 1876




"Wealth requires, besides the crust of bread and the roof, the freedom of the
city, the freedom of the earth, traveling, machinery, the benefits of science, music,
and fine arts, the best culture, and the best company." Emerson


Reprinted 1976

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Shelbyville, July 4th, 1876

          At a meeting of citizens, held in the City Hall of Shelbyville, on Monday Evening, June 5th, 1876, the proclamation of the President of the United States recommending the preparation of the History and Statistics of several Counties of the Union, for the Centennial Fourth, was considered.

          Whereupon a committee for this purpose was appointed.

          Having with much care and research brought together the facts and data bearing upon the history and description of Shelby County, Indiana, including its natural features, production, industrial condition, and prospect, ---we now respectfully submit the following report.
GEORGE SLUTER,          
MILTON ROBINS,          
ISAAC H. WILSON,          
BELAMY S. SUTTON,          
GEORGE W. ISLEY,          
ALFRED V. ROBINS,          

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President's Proclamation

 A joint resolution of the Senate and House of Representative was duly approved on the 13th day of March last, which resolution is as follows:

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled,   that it be and is hereby recommended by the Senate and House of Representatives to the people of the several States that they assemble in their several counties, or towns, in the approaching Centennial anniversary of our National Independence, and that they cause to have delivered on such day a historical sketch may be filed in print or in manuscript in the Clerk's office of said county, and an additional copy in print or manuscript be filed in the office of the Librarian of Congress, to the intent that a complete record may thus be obtained of the progress of our institution during the first century of their existence; and

          WHEREAS,  It is deemed proper that such recommendation be brought to notice and knowledge of the people of the United States, now, therefore, I Ulyses S. Grant, President of the United States, do hereby declare and make known the same, in the hope that the object of such resolution may meet the approval of the people of the United States, and that proper steps may be taken to carry the same into effect.

          Given under my hand, at the City of Washington, this 25th day of May, in the year of our Lord, 1876, and of the independence of the United States the one-hundredth.  By the President,
U.S. GRANT          
Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State.

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Shelby County.


Upon this auspicious and glorious day of the Centennial of American Liberty it is worthy of remark, how near we came to being British subjects, even after the glorious struggle of the Revolution.  When the commission met to fix the boundary between the thirteen independent colonies and the mother country, in 1783, there were two proposition---one to take the Great Lakes and the other Ohio River as the line of division.  To the wonderful foresight of John Adams it is due that the former proposition finally prevailed; so  THAT TO-DAY WE ARE AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT ENGLISH SUBJECTS.

The portion of territory now included within the limits of the State of Indiana was at the time of its first exploration by Europeans inhabited by the Miami Confederation of Indians.  The part of the State in which our county lies was occupied by the powerful tribe of Twightwees.  The State derived its name from the work Indian, the A being added to give it feminine signification.  It was first applied in 1768 to a grant of land near the Ohio, which a company of traders int that year obtained from the natives.  The first white men who ever trod the soil of our commonwealth, were the French missionaries


Claude Dablon and Claude Allouez, whom, in 1670-72, more than 200 years ago, passed along the West side of Lake Michigan, and entered the State somewhere North of the Kankakee River.

          The first white man who ever entered the territory now occupied by Shelby County, was Mr. William Conner, and Indian trader, whose business post was at the present site of Connersville.  As early as the year 1816 he was in the habit of coming up the streams in small boats, in order to barter and exchange with the Delaware Indians, who then held possession of all the lands watered by the White River and it numerous tributaries.

          Our State was formally admitted into the Union, December 11th, 1816.  On the 3d of October, 1818, at a treaty concluded at St. Mary's in the State of Ohio, the Indians ceded to the United States all their claims to lands lying within the boundaries of Indiana.  The commissioners who negotiated this treaty were Jonathan Jennings, Lewis Cass and Benjamin Parke, and the privilege of remaining for a few years upon the lands thus disposed of was agreed to.


Within one week afterwards, Mr. Jacob Whetzell, an ex-revolutionary soldier, cut a path through the woods from Brookville to the bluffs on White River, and passing through the center of this county.  In the next month, November, 1818, it crossed the Blue River.  There he determined to settle, and began at once to erect a log cabin, into which his family entered in the month January, 1819.  He had previously resided in the neighborhood of what is now Fairfield, in Franklin County; and his son Mr. Isaac Wilson, who has ever since been a resident here, was then a child of eleven years of age.  During that winter Mr. Wilson managed by dint of hard work to clear six acres of land, and upon this he raised a crop


of corn.  To Mr. James Wilson  THEREFORE  BELONGS  THE  DISTINCTION  OF  HAVING  BEEN  THE  FIRST  SETTLER  OF  SHELBY  COUNTY!  He lived for a time in utter solitude, eastward his nearest neighbor Mr. RICHARD Thornburry, 18 miles distant, and westward the nearest settlement, Mr. Jacob Whetzell's, 30 miles off his cabin was literally "a lodge in a waste wilderness."  Other immigrants soon arrived, and great was the pleasure when the Government surveying party, headed by Mr. McLaughlin, took up its headquarters in their headquarters in their midst.  Wilson began to trade with them to such an extent that sometimes as many as 100 in a day came to the post. Never will the men of that period cease to laud the pleasures of the chase.  They were great hunters, and game o f all kinds, including the panther, was in abundance.

In 1820 the  NEW  PURCHASE, as it was then called, was then called, was formally surrendered to the Government, and the lands surveyed thrown into the market.  With all speed the settlers hastened to the Government Land Office, located at Brookville, to make good their claims.  Mr. Wilson's farm was the Southwest quarter of section 9, township 13, range 7, east.


          The time had now arrived for starting a town; and upon his return from the land sales Mr. Wilson brought with him a professional surveyor.  In co-partnership with on of his neighbors, Mr. John Sleeth, a town-site with streets, alleys and a public square was thereupon regularly laid out and platted, and in honor of the brave and intrepid Revolutionary Hero, Gen. Francis Marion (1732-95), called Marion.  The land sales had given a new impulse to immigration, even something like the spirit of modern speculation suddenly arose, and a considerable number of lots in the embryo city were sold, in the anticipation of its becoming the capital of the future county.  Marion thus has the honor of seniority among our towns.



          During the next year, 1821, while in the Old World the sun of Liberty seemed to have set in the gloom of a starless night, by the complete triumph of the Allied Powers in the death of Napoleon I, (May 5th, 1821), and while in the New World the Chief Magistrate of the United States was evolving the great Monroe doctrine, that European powers are not to acquire further territory here, ---our pioneer forefathers were busily engaged in the practical pursuits of clearing farms and consulting with regard to the safety of the homes and inheritances they were providing.  Their government up to this time had been of the most simple character.  Their government up to this time had been of the most simple character.  There were now small settlements in every part of the county, and they felt the necessity for more perfect protection in the administration of the civil law.  They, therefore, petitioned the Legislature, in session at Corydon, then the capital of Indiana, to constitute and organize them into a county.  The petition was granted by the Legislature, and approved by his Excellency, Hon. Jonathan, the first Governor of the State.


          The highly interesting question of giving a name a name to the new count was settled by fixing upon Shelby, in honor of Governor Isaac Shelby, of Kentucky. The reasons for this choice were numerous.  A good proportion of the early settlers were from Kentucky, and others had fought with Governor Shelby in the Indian wars.  Besides this, he was honored as one of the foremost of the generals of the Revolution who had come West, and some of our first citizens were scar-beathen veterans of that most memorable triumph of Liberty.
          Isaac Shelby was indeed a hero worthy of this honor, and no less than nine counties of the Union, in as many different States, now claim him for their godfather.  He was born near


Hagerstown, Maryland, December 11th, 1750.  When but twenty-one years of age he removed to the wilds of the West, and shortly afterwards became lieutenant of militia in an expedition against the Wea Indians.  When the Revolutionary War broke out, he was selected as captain of a military company in Virginia, and in 1777 placed in charge of the commissary department for the frontier militia.  In 1770 he was elected to the House of Delegates, of Virginia.  For his bravery at the battle of King's Mountain, October 9th, 1780, he received a vote of thanks and a sword from the Legislature of North Carolina, of which he was elected a member in 1781 and 1782.  Upon the organization of the State of Kentucky in 1792, he was chosen Governor and held the office four years, and again from 1812 to 1816.  In 1793, there was a considerable movement in the West against the possessions of the Spanish Crown upon the Mississippi.  Gen. George Washington, then President of the United S tates, ordered the Governor to check these measures.  In reply he wrote a letter still preserved, in which he utters sentiments of patriotism, justice and purity, that show him to have been a man of the highest type of character.  It was in the year 1813, that he joined Gen'l Wm. Hy. Harrison at the head of 4,000 gallant Kentuckians, and rendered the brilliant service in the Battle of the Thames that brought him into intimate association with Indiana people.  He died in Kentucky in July, 1826, greatly beloved and lamented.  Such was the man in honor of whom our County was named.


The county having been organized, the next thing to be done was the selection of the capital. On the 31st of December, 1821, the Legislature appointed Messrs. George Bentley,  Benjamin J. Blythe,  Amos Boardman,  Joshua Cobb,  and  Ebenezer Ward, commissioner for this purpose. On the first


of July, 1822, they met at the house of Mr. David Fisher, near Marion, and after being duly sworn according to law, they proceeded to examine the four sites that had been offered namely, 1. Marion, the central geographical position of which was warmly urged;  2. Mr. Isaac Lemaster, whose farm was the same now owned by Mr. John Shaw, four miles south-west of us on the Marietta Pike, offered forty acres.  3. The Hon. John Walker offered forty acres situated on mile north-east.  4. The fourth proposition was the of three gentlemen who agreed to donate 70 acres.
          The Commissioner of the Legislature spent four days in visiting and examining these sites, and weighting the arguments urged in favor of each. At last they gave the award to the seventy acre offer, the site of the present city of Shelbyville.
          On this National Centennial Jubilee, we would like to honorably record the generosity and foresight of the founders of our city.  They were Major John Hendricks, who donated 40 of the above 70; the Hon. John Walker, who donated 10 acres; and Mr. James Davison, still living a well-preserved and hale old gentleman, who donated 20 acres!
          On the day upon which the Legislative Commissioners arrived at a decision -- the Fourth of July, 1822 -- there was the greatest gathering that had yet been had by the early settlers, at a barbecue, immediately north-east of our present Fair Grounds.  The selection of the Seat of Justice was there announced and received with general applause, and the occasion was long and pleasantly remembered as important and memorable.
          On the next day, July 5th, 1822, the County Commissioners met the Commissioners of the Legislature, at the house of Mr. David Fisher, and formally received their report fixing the site of the capital.  It was understood that the proceeds of the sale o f the land donated were to defray the expense of putting up a Court House.  The County Commissioners therefore appointed an agent, the Hon. Able Cole, to begin the preliminary work necessary.  On the 15th of August he was author-


ized to "proceed to survey or cause to be surveyed and laid off into streets, alleys and town-lots all the West half of the donation made by John Hendricks, and John Walker, at and joining the place established for the Seat of Justice."  On the 23d of September the first disposal of lots took place; an it will illustrate the financial condition of those times to recall the terms of sale.  They were these;  "One-Twelfth in hand, the balance in three annual payments with interest from date of sale, if not paid at maturity."  Soon after this, the Public Square was cleared of trees and improvements were begun upon several lots.  A discount of eight per cent, was allowed to those paying cash in full.  The lots brought from $30 to $50 each, those fronting upon the Public Square selling for $50.  Messrs. Francis Walker,  Henry Gatewood,  and  Ezra McCabe made the first opining in the town.  Henry Gatewood bought the lot upon which the Jackson House stands for $50.  It was thus that our now so beautiful and prosperous city began.


          We have seen that the first settler was Mr. James Wilson and the first town laid out was Marion.
          The first birth was  Miss Martha Kaster  the daughter of Mr.  Benjamin and  Mrs. Priscilla Kaster.  The first death was that of Mr.  Samuel Butler,  in the spring of 1821.  The first marriage was that of  Mr. Able Sommers  to  Miss Nancy Sleeth, May 16th, 1811.  The ceremony was duly solemnized by the Rev. Henry Logan, the first clergyman who appears on our Records.  The first will is that of Jacob Lewis, made March 4th, 1822.
          As to Buildings, the first dwelling of any kind ever erected in out County was the log cabin of Mr. James Wilson.  The first house erected upon the site of Shelbyville was the home of  Mr. Francis Walker, and it stood on the Northwest corner of Washington and Tompkins Streets.


          As to Public Buildings, the first was the School House erected upon the public Square, of the town of Marion, as early as the autumn of 1821.  It was built of round logs, its dimensions were 16x18 feet, and its architecture was in every way of the most primitive character.  The first teacher of this institution was Mr. Jonathan M. Wilson, who taught a three month's school at the rate of 75 cents per scholar.
          Our first Court House was erected in 1815, Messrs.  Richard Tynor,  Joseph Dawson,  and  David Fisher, being Commissioners.  It stood upon the center of the Public Square, and was a two story brick building, in size 50x 60 feet, having one large room below and four above. Its cost was $3, 300, and the builder was Mr. William Bushfield.
          The first Court ever convened here was on the 10th of October, 1822.  The first Judges were Messrs. John Sleeth and Wm Goodrich.  The first business transacted by them was to admit five applicants to the practice of the law as attorneys and counsellors, "in this Court."  The first Prosecuting Attorney was Hiram W. Curry, Esq.  The first oath of allegiance was that of Mr. John N. Calvert, who on the 1st of May, 1823, declared his intention to renounce the authority of King George IV of Great Britain and Ireland and to become a true and loyal citizen of the United States.
          The first document upon record in our Recorder's office is a warranty deed of  David  and  Beniah Guard to  John J. Lewis, dated June 25th, 1822, and recorded July 19th of the same year.  The first election ever held took place in the forks of a tree on our Public Square, for the purpose of selecting a Major of the militia, and resulted in the choice of Major Ashbel Stone.  The first flour and saw mill in the county was built by Mr. John Walker, in 1822 upon the site now occupied by the Shelby Mills.  Our fist Postmaster was Mr. William Little, and the rate of postage in his day was 25c per letter.



In addition to Marion and Shelbyville, Twenty-Seven other towns have since sprung up, which with the date of their organization and present population, will be found in chapter IV.


On the 9th of April, 1822, the County was divided into four Townships. They were separated by the Congressional township line through the County. No, 14 was call Union Township, No. 13, Marion, No. 12 Hendricks, and No. 11 Noble.
          Not until the year 1852, under the administration of Governor Joseph A. Wright, was the present township system for the common schools introduced into thirteen divisions, namely : Jackson, Washington, Noble, Liberty, Addison, Hendricks, Sugar Creek, Brandywine, Marion, Union, Hanover, Van Buren, and Moral.


          We have now recounted the principal incidents attending the origin and beginning of the county.  Let us linger an instant upon the character of the men concerning who we have spoken.  While the majority of the pioneer settlers had come here to find permanent homes, and was made up of men of character, there was nevertheless a considerable minority composed of that class which is ever found skulking in the gloom of the frontier.  And this will account for the gloom of the frontier.  And this will account for the a large number of cases of assault and battery that figured upon our early Court dockets.  But on the other hand those days were


remarkable for their comparative exemption from capital crimes.
          Churches and schools were established immediately after the settlement began.  "The pioneers," says the Hon. Barnabas C. Hobbs, L.L.D., a weighty authority, "were hightoned and patriotic, and had great regard for law and order.  It was not safe for any man to swear profanely when in the presence of any authority that could impose a fine.  Men had to obey for wrath if not for conscience.  There was a strong repugnance to immorality generally, however much the people might have been deficient in general culture or learning.  They were intensely but sincerely sectarian in their religious views." * * "It was the age of brave men, being soon after the war 1812.  Though religious they were men of honor, and ever held themselves in readiness to vindicate their honor by hard knocks when they thought it necessary."
          Little remains to be said that is purely historical.  The early settlers, social and industrious but unenterprising, content with small gains, and pleasures not too dearly purchased, nor shared in with an eye to business, --- were not the men to create the materials for a stirring history.  But we may soothe ourselves with the Proverb,  "Happy is the country whose annals are a blank."
          The remainder of the history, up to the present time, will be fully shown and be best seen, in the following chapters of description, tables, statistics, and the enumeration of public improvements, industries, and benevolent enterprises.



          Under this comprehensive head we shall present:   I. The Topofraphy and exact location of the County.  2. Its condition in 1822.  3. Its present resources and prospect.  4. Its Geology.  5. The Shelbyville of to-day.



          Shelby is one of the central counties of Indiana, and its north-west corner comes within a few miles of the State Capital.  It is bounded on the North by Hancock County, on the East by Rush and Decatur, on the South by Decatur and Bartholomew, and on the West by Johnson and Marion.  Its breadth is 17 miles East and West, and its length 24 miles North and South.  It contains 408 square miles, or 261,120 acres of land.


          It is impossible to judge correctly of our present condition in soil and products, and the wonderful advance that has been made since the days of our pioneer forefathers, unless we take into consideration  WHAT  THIS  COUNTRY  WAS  IN  EARLY  DAYS,  the obstacles in the way of its settlement and the limited financial and pecuniary resources of the first settlers.
          It was not an inviting prairie country, like that which enchanted the early settlers of Illinois and Iowa, that our ancestors looked upon.  No --- it was an unbroken and almost impenetrable woodland.  The people who came here mostly from Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky, were all poor, so poor indeed that after entering their 80 acres of land, they had in many cases not one dollar left.
          Let us hear the eloquent testimony of an eye-witness.  He says:  "Without money, and without the assistance which money brings, they had come here to make war upon nature in on of her most forbidding forms.  Where now we may see broad fields and wide pastures of open woodland, then thickly stood the great oak, the popular, the beech, the maple, and the ash, their limbs and branches so closely intertwining, that, when clothed in their summer vendure, a shade so deep and dark was produced as to shut out the sun from May to October.


From the damp earth below sprang a growth of  UNDERBRUSH  so dense that it presented in many places an impenetrable barrier to the horseman, and in some instances almost in accessible to the footman. In connection with this, let it be born in mind that the  LEVEL LANDS, which occupy so large a space in this County, were at the time INUNDATED MORE THAN HALF A YEAR.  The forests were checkered over with the trunks of prostrate trees---some newly fallen, some sunk half their diameter in the oozy soil, and these lying in every direction closed the drains, till there was scarcely any escape for the flood save by the slow process of evaporation and percolation.  The soil, rich as it was and is, inorganic matter chemically mixing with the watery element, rendered the paths and woods almost untraversable for man or beast.  There were no great roads upon which to travel; there were no markets in which to buy or sell; there were no broad fields in which to raise grain for bread.  Under these circumstances, unpropitious as they were, the pioneer settlers were compelled to maintain themselves and their families.  We may well imagine that it was in  MANY  INSTANCES  A  VERY  STRUGGLE  FOR  LIFE."
          Such was Shelby County fifty-four years ago. It was a forbidding and gloomy prospect one may now think. But the men who had come here went to work with a dauntless and unconquerable energy. They bore cheerfully and contentedly the toils and hardships and privations of the herculean task before them, buoyed up by the hope of leaving to their children a good inheritance.
          And to-day we behold the result.  They labored and we reap the fruits of their toil in the possession of one of the richest, most productive and best watered counties of the State.


          From the picture of fifty-four years ago, let us turn to the landscape of to-day.  Truly the wilderness has began to smile and blossom as the rose!  Is there anywhere a fairer domain?


          It is often apologetically said, that railroads pass through the least attractive portions of a country.  Such is not the case with Shelby County, Indiana.  The stranger who may visit us, may enter our borders by either one of our four railroads, and in neither direction need we have the slightest anxiety as to putting the best foot foremost.
          The face of the country is diversified.  Around Norristown there are large and beautiful fields that skirt hills of gentle slope.  Around Mt. Auburn there is land that resembles the rolling prairies of the far famed Upper Missouri.  Around Morristown you can see highlands and lowlands, studded with farms that will bear comparison with any portion of the United States.  Along the Flat Rock again you behold a variety of scenery, hill and dale, plateau and undulation.  And over this entire scope--embracing 261,120 acres, the soil will bear the close scrutiny of actual test.  It is rich and productive and the very best evidence of its capacity may be seen in the fact which will meet the eye of the observer, that out of that soil the settlers of Shelby County had made a large and substantial prosperity.  The men who settled this fair domain fifty years ago possessed little or nothing of this world's goods, and now the taxable property of the county amounts to $15, 000,000.
          This county is never in peril from the droughts that so often impede the prosperity and distress the inhabitants of other sections.  Streams of water, clear and fresh, that pass over pebbly beds, traverse the country in every direction.  There are eight of these water courses within our bounds, with a total length of 140 miles.  They furnish ample drainage and sufficient water for agricultural and mechanical purposes.  And it will give a more vivid picture of the situation, to bear in mind that these rivers have on each of their banks broad bottom lands of the richest and purest soil.
          One who has never seen them before will be sure to be intensely interested in the noble forests we have. Up to this time can boast of Walnut, Ash, Oak, Hickory and Elm in


abundance.  The Oak, Ash, Hickory and Sugar Tree, predominate in the uplands, while the prevailing timber in the bottoms is Walnut, Ash, Hackberry, Poplar and Linn.
          Near the pleasant village of St. Paul, there are extensive quarries of a superior article of Limestone.  These beds of rock extend to a distance of four to five miles around that locality, and are an inexhaustible and convenient resource for the future building wants of the great cities that surround us.
          The principal produce consists in Wheat and Corn.  During the season large quantities of hogs are shipped.  Cattle dealers from abroad purchase many beeves here.  But a stranger would be especially surprised to see how many head of horses are forward hence to the Eastern market.
          The entire county is in every direction dotted over with improvements, some of them very handsome, and ail comparing favorably with the older sections of the United States.
          The river beds furnish us with a most excellent substance for the construction of turnpike roads; and to what extent our people have availed themselves of it may be seen in such facts as these, that fifteen different travel roads center in Shelbyville, and that there are almost two hundred miles of turnpike in the county!  It may be questioned whether there are many sections in which there is such fine driving, and where a good road leads to every neighborhood.
          The advantages of our county it will thus be seen are SOLID AND PERMANENT, such as no crisis can sweep away and no panic shake.  Our resources are based upon the inexhaustible wealth of our soil, and the singular felicity of our location.
          Such is the Shelby County of to-day.  It is truly one of the favored spots of the earth.  These facts speak for themselves.  Our lot has been cast in a locality where prosperity abounds, and where nature has provided all the man could reasonably ask in the way of productive soil, genial climate, magnificent forests, pure and limpid water, and exempt from those devastating eruptions of nature and death-dealing epidemics that


hang as a dark and forbidding back-ground over some portions of the earth. With the poet we may say,

"I have traversed many a lovely strand,
Abroad and in my native land;
Climbed many a crag,
Crossed many a moor,
But by my halidom,
A land more bright, more fair than this,
It has not been my lot to pass."


          A very general impression prevails that this locality is depressed.  It is probable that the level character of much of the surface of our land has given rise to the opinion.  The very reverse, however, is the truth.  While the city of Cincinnati is but 432 above the ocean, Shelbyville has an altitude of 757 feet.  We are therefore upon an elevation from both sides of which, to North and to the South, there is a slope.
          The surface deposits are principally derived from the Glacial Drift, subsequently modified by fluviatile action.  Hence, while the soil is composed of fine impalable clays, extensive beds of sand and gravel are found beneath the surface, and in the valleys and streams.
          At the close of the Glazial Epoch this region was very deeply covered with Bowlder Drift, as is plainly indicated by high mounds and ridges of gravel and bowlders, reaching in height the summit level of the county.  They indicated the enormous EROSIVE agencies, which have swept from North to South in this locality, and which have carried away the clays and finer materials, and left behind them the bowlders and gravel as indices and monuments of the depth which these deposits originally had.
          In the western part of the county the soil is somewhat modified by admixture of DETRITAL matter from the underlying shales, and hence its dark color and tenacious character.


In the central and eastern parts it is modified by a generous admixture of calcarious material from the lime rocks beneath.
          Thus while the soil produces good crops of corn and wheat, it is magnificently adapted tot he growth of grasses. "Blue-grass the Gold-finder of Indiana, " flourishes with unrivalled luxuriance, and other grasses equal the production of the most favored regions.
          The Rocky beds in the county comprise the Devonian and upper part of the Silurian formation. The black slate of the former, under-runs the west and south-west sides of the county and is seen only in the beds of the deepest streams. The limerock beds of the Devonian contain but few fossils, and the whole exhibit a thickness of from 80 to 150 feet.
          The rock of the Silurian period, succeed in age and come out to the surface from beneath the Devonian formation in the central and eastern parts of the county, and exhibit a thickness of from 40 to 70 feet.  They contain a great many interesting and well-preserved fossils, which illustrate the life of the ancient Ocean, whose deep waters rolled over this region and upon whose muddy bottom these animals lived and perished.
          The St. Paul and Waldron beds have long been a school to the Scientists of the world, illustrating the Geological Reports of many neighboring States, and filling Museums and Cabinets with beautiful and interesting trophies of long-past.
          An extensive business in stone is carried on at St. Paul.  The stone varies in color from a bluish dove to a light gray, and is in strata of from a few inches in thickness to several feet, averaging about 18 to 20 inches.  The colored stone has a great capacity for resisting fracture under weight--and is used for piers foundations, lime-work, water-tables and monumental bases.  The gray stone is equally compact and adapted for door and windows-caps and casing, columns and ornamental masonry.  Subjected to the severest tests known to science this stone in endurance and all qualities required by the architect, is fully equal to the best, and acknowledges no superior.  It


has been used in many of the costly public buildings in this region of our country, and a demonstrative example of its merit and excellence may be seen int he new Court House, at Indianapolis, the modest colors contrasting well with the neutral tints of other lime stones.  This building materia commands a ready market int he cities of the North, South, East and West, and tests the full capacity of the proprietors and railways to meet the demand.  The shipments for the last year were 4,489 cars.


It is a source of great satisfaction that our county-set has become one of the most beautiful and interesting places in the State.  Its present population is 4,000, and the amount of taxable property $1,630,920.  For a long time its growth was very slow.  Not until January 21st, 1850, was the town incorporated by a special act of the Legislature.  George Caruthers, Sr., was elected Mayor, and  J. S. Campbell,  James M. Randall,  Wm. H. Coats,  James H. Elliott, and  E. H. Davis -- COUNCILMAN.  156 votes cast.  The second election under this charter was held April 3d, 1852, and resulted in the choice of  John Morrison, MAYOR; and  Woodville Browning,  J. M. Randall,  S. Midkiff,  Joseph Cummins,  J. T. Bullock, -- COUNCILMAN.  241 votes were cast.  Population, white 1,407. and colored 17. July 25, 1853, the office of Mayor was discontinued, and the present city organization dates from May 16th, 1860.

Since then our city has made rapid advancement in wealth and importance.  Excellent and commodious business houses have been erected.  Blessing's Opera House will compare favorably with any building of the kind in the State.  The hall proper, while it may be surpassed in size, is not excelled in finish, convenience and ventilation.  The National Bank Building, the Shelby Bank, Phoenix Block,  Dr. Robbins' corner,  Odd Fellows Hall,  Fastlaben's,  the Jackson Hotel, and other substantial brick buildings may be specially mentioned.


            Among our best residences are the homes of  Alonzo Blair,  John Elliott,  John Blessing,  William E. Teal,  Mrs. Loretta Corey,  S. Hamilton,  Mrs. Mary Montgomery,  William S. Major, and  J. C. Wagner.  These are spacious and solid brick edifices.  It would be impossible to enumerate the graceful and ornamental frame residences that loom up in every direction and indicate the comfortable circumstances and taste of their owners.
          Shelbyville is remarkable for its popularity throughout the county in every direction.  Often our streets present an appearance of crowding, and thrift, equal to a large city.  There are more houses in demand than the supply. In railroad, telegraphic, post-office, and gas facilities, and in protection against fire, as well as in advantages of access by fine roads and the pleasures of driving amid pleasant landscape, Shelbyville stands second to no place of its size in the wide world.  Our streets, graded, graveled, smooth as a floor and thoroughly drained, owe much to the rare skill of Mr. Charles Magee, at present and for many years our Street Commissioner.
          Now, as in the past, the mercantile interests if Shelbyville largely out-weight its manufactures.  However much this fact is to be deplored it is nevertheless true.  It is not because there are not manufacturing facilities.  Upon every land are large forests of timber suited to manufacturing purposes.  Already we have furniture, carriage and wagon shops, but not upon the scale that should exist.  Abundance of walnut and ash for all grades of furniture can easily be obtained and manufactured here; and with Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Chicago as distributing points, will command a ready market throughout the West.  The same holds true in regard to other branches.  Competition in railway freights secures cheap transportation, and wood and water are in abundance.  Even the facilities of a  HYDRAULIC  are within our reach.  At a point six miles above town a canal can be built at a moderate cost, conveying water along the base of


the bluff upon the north of town, giving a fall of from forty to fifty feet --- sufficient for immense manufacturing purposes.  The proposed route has been carefully surveyed by Mr. J. M. Elliott, who has pronounced it practicable.  He also estimates the cost of the work at from $50,000 to $100,000----according to the manner in which it is done, the character of the bridges, &tc.  Conceding the immense power to be thus with comparative ease acquired, and conceding the fact that Shelbyville has lost its ability of  ADVANCING  A  SINGLE  STEP  IN  WEALTH  OR  POPULATION  UNLESS  MANUFACTURING  INTERESTS  DO  CLUSTER  HERE,  what deduction must be drawn?  Clearly none other than that the Hydraulic should be built.  These facts, properly impressed upon the minds of capitalists, should result in developing the nucleus we already have into larger schemes, employ hundreds of men and scores of thousands of dollars, making the air resonant with the busy hum of machinery; the clanking of anvils, the ruddy fires of many forges, the noise of looms better still,  THE  MORE  THAN  HALF  A  MILLION  OF  DOLLARS  ANNUALLY  SENT  AWAY  FOR  AGRICULTURAL  IMPLEMENTS  WOULD  THEN  BE  EXPENDED  HERE.



We next present the following TABULAR EXHIBIT of the History and Condition of Shelby County.


David Fisher                 Adam Rhodes
John Forman John Sleeth
Balser Fox Caleb Sleeth
James Frier William H. Sleeth
Benjamin Hodges John Smith
Benjamin Kaster Abel Summers
Bennett Michael James Wilson



Campbell, Joseph
Davison, James
Gatewood, Henry
Goodrich, William
Goodrich, Nathan
Hawkins, William
Hendricks, John
Lee, John
Little, William
McCabe, Ezra
Mayhew, Elisha Sr.
Mayhew, Elisha Jr.
Mayhew, Royal
Morris, Sylvan B.
Walker, John
Walker, Francis
Wilson, Isaac H.
Wingate, Smith
Williams, Benjamin
Young, John M.



Bassett, Jonah - 1821.
Bassett, Sylvester - 1821
Booker, A. C. - 1825
Cherry, Andrew J. - 1823
Cherry, John - 1822
Cherry, Thomas J. - 1825
Cherry, William - 1823
Davis, George W. -1821
Davis, John C.-1820
Davison, James -1821
Fleming, Thomas H. -1826
Gatewood, Peter D. -1821
Gatewood, William H. -1821
Goodrich, Nathan -1821
Green, Absolom -1825
Green, Henry -1825
Goodrich, Thomas -1821
Hankins, William -1821
Hinds, Michael -1825
Houk, David -1825
Houk, John -1825
Hoffman, Fountain -1825
Johnson, John - 1823
Johnson, John B. -1825
Johnson, Elias -1825
Kaster, Samuel -1825
Kaster, William -1821
Law, William -1821
Mayhew, Elbridge G. -1821
Montgomery, Samuel -1825
Moore, John -1823
Mowery, Jacob -1825
Nail, Ovediah - 1821
Nail, Samuel -1821
Parish, Levi - 1821
Patterson, James -1822
Rice, Michael -1826
Robertson, Samuel B. -1825
Robertson, Sydney -1825
Robbins, Milton -1821
Sleeth, Andrew -1821
Sleeth, Caleb -1820
Snyder, Albert -1821
Snyder, David -1821
Snyder, Daniel A. -1821
Snyder, Peter -1821
Vanpelt, Squier L. -1826
Wilson, Isaac H. -1818
Winterrowd, Joseph - 1824
Worland, Leo H. -1825


Jas. Gregory,  Foreman,
Abel Cole,
Henry Shearer,
Jesse Bird,
Zachariah Collins,
Zadock Plumer.


County Officers from 1822-1876

State Senators.

James Gregory, 1825--31

Thomas Hendricks, 1831--34

William Fowler, 1834--36

John Walker, 1836--40

Joseph B. Nickall, 1840--46

John Y. Kennedy, 1843-46

Augustus C. Handy, 1846--49

James M. Sleeth, 1849----53

George W. Brown, 1853--57

David S. Gooding, 1857--61

Martin M. Ray,1861--65

James L. Mason, 1865--69

Thomas G. Lee, 1869--71

Oliver J. Glesser, 1871--75

R. M. Slater, 1875


Thomas Hendricks, 1823-26

Lewis Morgan, 1826-27

John Smiley, 1827-28

Sylvan B. Morris, 1828-29

Rezin Davis, 1829-30

John Smiley, 1830-31

Sylvan B. Morris, 1831-32

Rezin Davis, 1832-34

Jacob Shank, 1834-35

John Walker, 1835-36

Erasumus Powell and Edward Gird, 1836-37

William J. Peasley and Joseph B. Nickoll, 1837-38

William J. Peasley and Erasmus Powell, 1838-39

William W. McCoy and Joshua B. Lucas, 1839-41

In the session of 1839, Wm. J. Mc Coy and Balis Costs.

In the season of 1840-41, Wm. W. McCoy and Joshua B. Lucas.

John Hendricks, 1841-42

Fletcher Tevis, 1842-43

Augustus C. Handy, 1843-45

James R. Sleeth, 1845-46

James M. Sleeth, 1846-47

William Major, 1847-48

Thomas A. Hendricks, 1848-49

George W. Brown, 1849-51

William Major, 1851-54

Samuel Donelson, 1853-55

Thomas A. McFarland, 1855-59

Jacob Mutz, 1861-65

James Harrison, 1865-67

Geroge C. Thacher, 1867-69

Isaac Odell, 1869--71

James J. Curtis, 1871-73

Samuel D. Spellman, 1873-75

William Patterson, 1875


Hiram Albridge, from 1822 to 1829

S. B. Morris, from 1829 to 1843

Jacob Vernon, from 1843 to 1855

Alexander Miller, from 1855 to 1859

Wm. C. Miller, from 1858 to 1859

Alonzo Blair, from 1859 to 1867

Jacob G. Wolf, from 1867 to 1871

John Elliott, from 1871 to 1875

B. S. Sutton, at present.


Sevier Lewis, 1822, died in office ---
Isaac Templeton appointed to serve unexpired term.

John Walker, from 1824 to 1828

Jacob Shank, from 1828 to 1832

Elisha Baker, 1832 to 1836

John Stewart, from 1836 to 1840

Apollio Kinsley, from 1840 to 1844

William Wood, from 1844 to 1850

Alex Miller, from 1850 to 1854

S. L. Vanpeolt, from 1854 to 1858

H. H. Bogess, from 1858 to 1860

Henry Doble, from 1860 to 1864

Howard Lee, from 1872 to 1876

E. B. Amsden, from 1864 to 1868

John Hoop, from 1868 to 1870

Ithamer Spurlin, from 1870 to 1872



William H. Sleeth, from 1822 to 1835

Milton Robbins, from 1835 to 1842

John S. Cambell, from 1842 to 1855

James Milleson, from 1855 to 1859

David Louden, from 1850 to 1867

Cyrenus Bishop, from 1867 to 1871

Thos. J. Cherry, form 1871 to 1875

A. V. Robins, at present.


Vorohes Conover, from 1840 to 1847

John H. Stewart, from 1847 to 1851

John J. White, from 1851 to 1859

Squier L. Vanpelt, from 1859 to 1867

Robert W. Wiles, from 1867 to 1875

George W. Isley, at present.


William Davis, 1822--23

Elijah Mayhew, 1823--39

Thomas H. Fleming, 1839--42

Levi Lainger, 1842--44

John Cartmill, 1844--50

Alexander Miller, 1850--54

Isaac H. Wilson, 1854--56

Elias M. Wison, 1856-60

Andrew J. Winterowd, 1860--62

William M. Philips, 1862--66

Fountain G. Robinson, 1866--70

James M. Sleeth, 1870--74

James O. Parrish, at present.


Wm. Goodrich V. Conover James Rule Wm. S. Ensley
Calvin Kinsley John Sleeth Thomas Clayton C. Girton
Alexander Vanpelt       James Robertson      Sam'l Montgomery      Geo. Senior
Elias Millikin W. A. Doble Henry Buck Edmund Cooper
Elijah Tyner Hugh Campbell Moses P. Higgins St. Clair Ensiminger
David Fisher George Conger Alex Cory Louis Fessenbeck
Joseph Dawson Jacob Fox J. J. Curtis Ithamer Davison
Adam Mow John Kern John McConnel
Ashbel Stone Gideon Stafford Geo. W. Davis

Pages 27 - 40

Atlas of Shelby County, Indiana,  Beers, 1880.

Fred H. Cheuden,           J. L. Carson
Albert McCorkle
E. B. Amsden           Edward L. Davisson

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