History of Jefferson Township, Cass County, Indiana (Part 1)
From: History of Cass County, Indiana
Edited by: Dr. Jehu Z. Powell
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York 1913


Jefferson township was named after our third president and lies in the western part of the county and embraces the greater part of congressional township 27 north, range 1 west. It is bounded on the north by Boone township, on the east by Noble, on the west by White county and on the south by Carroll county and the Wabash river. Croaked creek is the most important watercourse, and is a stream of considerable size. It receives its name from the tortuous course in which it flows: arising in the northeast corner, flows westward, southwest, southeast, south and again southwest, emptying into the Wabash river a mile below Georgetown. It has numerous tributaries, affording ample drainage. This stream furnished abundant water power in the early settlement of the country and was an important factor in inducing immigration to this part of the county. The southern part of Jefferson is characterized by a broken surface and in some places along the Wabash may be seen precipitous limestone bluffs of romantic boldness. The country adjacent to Crooked creek and its tributaries is also hilly and broken, while the north and west parts of the township are comparatively level and in some places flat and marshy, although the extensive system of drainage in recent years has reclaimed the swamps and converted them into the most fertile and productive farm lands, whilst the sand hills in the northwest section produce a superior quality of certain vegetables. The soil is not naturally as strong and fertile as some other townships, but with drainage and careful cultivation produces abundant crops of all agricultural products adapted to this climate, and an average with the other sections of the county. Lake Cicott, the only lake in the county, is located in sections 20 and 21, Jefferson township. This is a beautiful sheet of water covering an area of about one hundred acres. The waters of the lake are of crystal purity, and it is surrounded on three sides by beautiful wooded hills. making it one of the most romantic and loveliest pieces of nature's handiwork in Cass county.


Jefferson township, lying on the Wabash river and easy of access by boat or pirogue, which was the only means of reaching the wilderness of Cass county, unless by foot over Indian trails, was early settled. George Cicott was the first white man to set foot within the present boundaries of this township. He was a French-Canadian who for many years lived and traded with the Pottawattomie Indians and married an Indian wife.

The Indians looked upon him as one of their number and he was, so far as the rights and privileges of the tribe were concerned. By the treaty of 1826 a reservation of over one thousand acres in the southern part of the township was ceded to him, as were also other tracts of land, including the present site of Logansport. From the sale of these lands he accumulated quite a fortune. Immediately after the cession of these lands in 1826, or possibly 1827, Mr. Cicott settled on his reservation at what was afterwards known as Georgetown, and opened a trading post and dealt almost exclusively with the Indians, as there were at that time no white settlers in the township. He erected the first mill in the township in 1829 near the present site of Georgetown, and used the water from Crooked creek as a motive power to run the mill This was a saw and grist mill and was at first operated for the benefit of the Indians, but the white settlers, who soon began to find their way to the wilds of Jefferson, highly prized the products of this mill both for its lumber and meal which it turned out. There is some doubt whether or not this mill was the first one built in Cass county, and the writer is not prepared to say, although General Tipton's mill on Eel river in Logansport is supposed to antedate Cicott's mill at Georgetown. Mr. Cicott died about 1833.

The next settler was William Price, who came in 1828 and located on the north bank of the Wabash river in section 3, township 26, on what was later known as the Elsroth farm. For nearly a year he and Mr. Cicott were the only white residents of the township, their only companions being Indians.

In 1829 John Myers settled on a portion of Cicott's reserve, and in 1830 Peter Elsroth located near Mr. Price; Maj. Ben Smith in section 33; James Williams in section 36, and Andrew McMillen to the north.

In 1830 Beaufort Banta settled in section 24, where he resided until his death in 1888. He was born in Kentucky in 1808, was a man of fine appearance, tall and commanding figure. He had marked individuality, conviction and courage. In politics he was a Whig and later a Republican, and often made political speeches. He had a large family, of which his sons, Benjamin, William, Caleb and John Banta, are still honored residents of the county.

In 1831 came Robert and Alexander Gray and located in the southern part of the township. Robert became captain of militia and was known as Captain Gray. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1796, and died in 1868, and lies at rest in the Georgetown cemetery, He was a large and powerful man, was justice of the peace for many years and often referee in disputes between neighbors. Politically he was an ardent Democrat. He was the father of eight children, all of whom are now dead.

Alexander Gray was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, located on section 33, Jefferson township, on land now owned by his son Harrison Gray. He had dark curly hair, was a plain man, unostentatious in his demeanor, a clean man with sturdy Christian character, and a leader in the Pisgah Presbyterian church. He had an invalid wife for whom he cared like a child. He greatly aided in the development of Jefferson township until the time of his death in 1875.

James Gray, another brother, was born in Pennsylvania in 1802, married Katharine Duncan in Pennsylvania in 1828, came to Jefferson township in 1839, and was a prominent pioneer farmer until his death. His children were: John, James D., Thomas, Alexander, Hamilton and Martha, all of whom are dead except the latter, now the wife of Lemuel Powell, of Bethlehem township.

Abraham Hildebrandt came in 1834 and located in section 33, on land now owned by his grandchildren. He was a prudent, upright man, and spent a long and useful life aiding in the development of Jefferson township. He died in 1892. His wife was Lucy Weirick. Larkin Herman was a settler in 1835. He was a school teacher and farmer, and was the father of Mrs. John Banta.

About this time Taylor Sturgeon settled in section 22, John Kistler in section 25, Dr. James Gordon in Cicott's reserve, Aaron Renberger, father of Commissioner George Renberger, in section 8, David Weirick in section 33, Joseph Day near Georgetown, Daniel Bell near Georgetown, William Nethercutt, John Shaw, Israel Watts, Daniel Small, John Watts and Alexander Scott. The latter was the first preacher in the township. About 1835 the following well remembered pioneers became citizens of the township: William Hughes, Daniel Devore, John Hicks, Thomas Martindale, George Houk, Thomas Harless, Robert Gillum, S. M. Braden, John McMillen, John W. Wilson and Thomas Pritchard. The next few years witnessed the arrival of many well known settlers, some of whom are: Robert Donovan, William Craig, Thomas Patterson, Robert Jellison, Alexander Smith, Michael Bruner, Benjamin Baxter, Jefferson Rhodes, Alexander Seawright, Timothy Callaway, William M. Rogers, James Burket, John Crain, I. C. Thompson, S. M. McClure, James Hood, Silas Atchison, Wesley Johnson, Daniel Short, John Winegardner, John Miller, Samuel Tam, Joseph Galbreth, Isaac Dill, John Crook, William Barr.


Jefferson township was organized and the first election held September 6, 1831, at the cabin of John Myers, near Georgetown. Maj. Daniel Bell acted as inspector of the election, and it did not take all night to count the ballots, for there were only six votes cast - all of which were cast for Joseph Day for justice of the peace and for Robert Gray and Beaufort Banta, trustees.


Elizabeth, daughter of Beaufort and Elizabeth Banta, born March 17, 1831, and Barbara, daughter of Robert and Barbara Gray, born September 22, 1832.


Probably the first deaths that occurred in the township were Barbara, the four months old daughter of Robert Gray, who died December 26, 1832, and Peter Price, who died in 1833, and were interred in the Georgetown cemetery.


Crooked creek in early days afforded abundant water power and gave this part of the comity superior manufacturing facilities, and within a short period after the first settlement several mills were erected at different points along this stream.

The first mill in the township was erected at Georgetown in 1829 by George Cicott. This was a sawmill, and later a corn cracker attachment was. made to grind corn for the early settlers. This mill was operated by different parties for twenty five years or more.

About 1833 John Myers built a sawmill on Crooked creek above the Cicott mill and ran it for some years, but it has long since disappeared.

The Garrett mill on Crooked creek above the Reed mill, in section 14, was erected in about 1835. This was both a saw and grist mill and was successfully operated for ten years or more, when it was washed out during a freshet and was never rebuilt.

Andrew Waymire was Cass county's pioneer millwright, and about 1835 erected a grist mill for Pollard and Wilson, but it was known as the Waymire mill It stood on Crooked creek near the corner of section 10. It was afterwards purchased and operated by George Houck, but ceased operations in the later fifties.

About 1838 Alexander Seawright built a sawmill on Crooked creek, in section 26, and in 1843 erected a large grist mill on the same site. This was perhaps the largest mill ever erected in the township, being four stories in height and fitted up with four run of buhrs, and did a heavy business until it was totally destroyed by fire in 1847, and was never rebuilt.

James Gordon, father of Max Gordon, about 1840 erected a second sawmill at Georgetown and operated it for some years, but it gradually fell into desuetude.


John Fisher built a grist mill on Crooked creek, in section 14, about 1858, known as the Reed mill. Later D. L. Fisher purchased it and was operated by him. Beaufort Banta, Amos Johnson and others, but was finally abandoned.

About 1868 or 1869 Jacob Ringer erected a flouring mill on Crooked creek, about one half mile west of Pisgah church, section 23. It was successfully operated by several parties, Mr. Michaels being the last, when, in 1885, it was destroyed by fire and never rebuilt.

Taylor Sturgeon erected a small carding machine and woolen mill on the north end of Crooked creek in Jefferson township. It was a small affair and only ran for a few years.

Enoch Cable built a large grist mill at Georgetown on the site of Cicott's first sawmill, about 1868. In recent years it was supplied with new roller process by Wesley Frick and was doing a good business until it was burned down, February 20, 1911, entailing a loss of over three thousand dollars. The fire was supposed 'to have been of incendiary origin. There was freshly fallen snow on the ground and tracks in the snow were traced to a certain house in Georgetown, and the man was indicted by the grand jury, tried and acquitted, but many believed him to be guilty. In 1912 Mr. Frick erected a small mill on the site of the ruins of his old mill and is grinding feed, corn and buckwheat only. This with a small grist mill at Pipe creek are the only water power mills now being operated in Cass county.

About 1840 William Rector built a small distillery on Crooked creek, in section 14, and turned out a fair article of "bug juice," but that kind of goods was not in great demand by the good people of Jefferson and he soon closed his questionable business.

Jefferson township had better water power facilities than any other township in the county and a greater number of mills have been erected within her boundaries than any other township in the county, but all have disappeared. Three causes have operated to close these mills. First, cutting the forests and draining the land have caused the water to flow rapidly off, so that the water power is not efficient or constant; second, the timber is practically all cut and no demand for sawmills, and the third cause is the concentration of effort into large factories and mills which has driven out the small mills, and probably a fourth reason is the building of good roads and railroads, which render it easy to distribute goods from the large central mills and factories. So that of the scores of small mills that formerly dotted Cass county none remains today. A new era has come, the old gives way to the new in the onward progress of civilization; yet some features of the old we yield with regret, the neighborhood sociability and community of interests.


The 'pioneers brought Christianity with them into the wilderness of Jefferson and as soon as a few settlers could be gathered together they began to hold religious meetings. It is reported that the first meetings were held in the cabin of Robert Gray about 1833 to 1835, by the Christian (Disciple) denomination, These first meetings were conducted by Elders William Hicks, John and Alexander Scott, pioneer preachers, who settled in Clay township. They conducted religious worship at the cabins of the pioneers for several years, but never culminated in a permanent organization. About this time the Dunkards or German Baptists began to hold meetings in the cabin of David Weirick, but they also failed to effect an organization, and the Christian or New Light denomination were the first to perfect a church organization in the township


This is said to be the oldest church organization in the township and was formally launched in 1839 at the house of Solomon Burket, who then lived in section 11 and officiated as the organizing minister. The following names appear on the charter roll: Solomon and Sarah Burket, Thomas and Lida Martindale, Thomas and Sarah Vernon, John and Rebecca Hicks, David and Sarah McCombs, Jonathan and Elizabeth Martindale, Mary Dale, Joseph Lewis, James Shaw, John and Rhoda Watts, and possibly others. The first year after the organization meetings were held in private houses and at the log schoolhouse in. the neighborhood, but in 1840 the congregation erected a neat little frame church on land donated by John Garrett, situated in the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter section 3, Jefferson township, but deeds were not executed until November 14, 1863, when Joshua Garrett conveyed the ground to the trustees of the church: David McCombs, Hollingsworth Vernon and Larkin Austin. This first little church building served the congregation until 1881, when it was replaced by the present commodious frame house of worship which represents a capital of $1,400.

A Sunday school was organized in 1860. and has been successfully conducted since that date and is a great aid in the upbuilding of the church which now has an active membership of ninety. A cemetery is maintained by the society.

The following ministers have served as pastors or supply:

Solomon Burket, 1838-42; Rev. ____ Briggs; Abraham Sneethers; Rev. ____ Myers; George Abbott, 1863-6 William Hazlet, 1866-70; William Winegardner, 1873-5; D. N. Fowler, 1875-7; Kendle West, 1877-81; D. W. Fowler, 1881-3; S. M. McNeely, 1883-6; J. N. Ulery, 1886-9; Taylor Jackman, 1889-90; C. V. Strickland and wife, 1891; D. N. Fowler, 1891-4; Samuel McNeely, 1894-00; C. McCoy, 1900-02; E. Silas Mosstettier, 1902-04; S. M. McNeely, 1904-10; J. H. Walker, 1910-11; William Newhouse, 1911-13.


This church was organized by the Rev. M. M. Post, September 24, 1836, in a log schoolhouse then located in section 17 Noble township, with nineteen charter members, to wit: John, Benjamin, Sarah, Rose, William and Catharine Loman, Taylor and Eunice Sturgeon. Margaret Smith, Joseph Gibson, George, Susan, Jane and Sarah McMillen, John, Margaret and Sarah Wilson. The first elders, of the church were Willam Loman, John Adair and Joseph Gibson. John Wilson and Benjamin. Adair were elected deacons. Meetings were held at irregular intervals in the old log schoolhouse and at private residences, usually conducted by Father Post, until 1840 when a hewed log church was erected in section 18, Noble township, on land belonging to Mrs. Jane McMillen. Some years later the adjoining farm was sold, before any deeds were made to the church, and the ground upon which the log church stood reverted to the purchaser of the contiguous lands and the old log church, the first erected in Noble township, was converted into a stable by the purchaser, and the congregation worshipped in schoolhouses, chiefly in the schoolhouse located near Curveton.

The matter of selecting a site and building a church agitated the congregation for some years. The congregation was divided. Those living west of Crooked creek desired that the church be built near them, but those residing east of the creek contended that it be erected on their side; so matters dragged along for years, but finally a compromise was agreed to, and on April 16, 1852, John Wilson deeded one and one fourth acres of ground situated in section 23, Jefferson township, to the trustees of the church, A. E. Gray, Alexander Seawright and Richard Pryor. Soon after a. contract for building a church edifice was let to Richard Pryor for the sum of $425. A neat frame structure was soon, completed and dedicated to the service of the Master, March 12, 1853. This building, with some minor improvements, served the congregation until 1910, when it was replaced by the present modern house of worship, constructed of cement or "stucco" at a cost of $6,000. This new building was dedicated June 11, 1911. The building committee who so faithfully and energetically prosecuted the construction of the new church were Caleb Banta, J. E. Buchanan and Schuyler Gibson. The present trustees are: Jonah Michaels, J. E. Buchanan and Schuyler Gibson; treasurer, Wilson Seawright.

A Sunday school was instituted in 1831, long before the church organization, at the residence of Mrs. Jane McMillen, who then lived in the west edge of Noble township. Rev. M. M. Post was the moving spirit in the organization of both the Sunday school and the church and was their pastor at intervals. until his death in 1876.

The present membership is about forty. A cemetery adjoins the church.

In addition to Father Post the following ministers have had postaral charge of the congregation:

James Gordon, 1855-9; Rev. ____ Randall; J. A. Veal, 1859-63; James Jack, 1864; Amos Jones, 1875-8; Gilbert Small, 1881-8; William Peters, 1888-95; James Porter, 1900-05; E. A. Cameron, 1901-08; William R. Shelt; Robert Rankin; William Thompson, 1864-70; Rev. ____ Bobarman, 1878-81; William Kouts, 1895-99; William Lippett; Rev. Kirchoff, present pastor.


This society is an offshoot of Pisgah church and dates its history from about 1852, when that church was located and erected. Those living west of Crooked creek were dissatisfied with the location of Pisgah church, and organized Center Presbyterian church under the leadership of Revs. Ed. W. Wright, Levi Hughes and R. Bell. The first meetings were held in Martindale schoolhouse in Boone township, and later in private residences. The organization was perfected in Martindale schoolhouse, November 16, 1854, with the following charter members: William Barr, Sarah Barr, William and Nancy Williamson, James, Robert and Elizabeth Benson, John, Sarah and Newton H. Benson, William Rogers, Elizabeth Murphy, Sarah Fry, Jane McNitt, Mary J. McNit+, Ann Houk, George and Mary J. Williamson. In 1858 the congregation erected a comfortable house of worship on land donated by John Watts, situated in the north half of the southeast quarter section 9, Jefferson township. This is a frame structure 30x40 feet in dimensions and cost $1,000.

Robert McNitt hauled the boulders with an ox team from the bed of Crooked creek, with which to build the foundation. This is not a large congregation, the present membership is only forty, but what they lack in numbers is more than compensated for by the earnest Christian work of its members, and the church has wielded a great influence for good in the community

The following pastors have served the congregation:

Rev. ____ Bell; Robert Irvin, 1854; William P Crouch; McKnight Williamson; James Matthews, 1872; James T. Patterson; M. M. Post; Amos Jones; A. B. Bohannan; Gilbert Small; W. P. Koutz, 1860; A. J. Arick; W. S. Peters, 1887-91; Simpson, 1892-97; J. B. Porter, 1900-02; A. J. Cameron, 1904-06; E. M. McKlosky, 1907; T. E. Hughes; W. R. Shea, 1907; George R. Hill; W. T. Lippert, 1908; W. S. Peters, 1910; C. H. Kiroeroft, 1912.


This church was organized in 1855, at the residence of Jacob Yenney, by Rev. Jacob Grommiller with a charter membership, composed of Jacob Yenney and wife, Jacob Gougle and wife, George Gougle and John Gougle. This little band of earnest German Christians held religious meetings at private residences and occasionally in a schoolhouse, keeping the fold together in the Master's service until 1870, when a neat frame church edifice was built in the northwest corner of Jefferson township on land donated by Elizabeth and George Gougle, they conveying to the trustees of the church a lot thirteen rods square on September 23, 1870.

In 1904 the original church building was replaced by the present frame structure, with an outlay of $620. The congregation has steadily increased and now numbers forty five.

A Sunday school was organized in 1855 and is still maintained. The congregation's spiritual welfare has been in charge of the following pastors: Rev. Kaney, Rev. Spohn, Rev. Kaley, Rev. Wickous, Rev. Wildermuth, Rev. Bothemay, Rev. Wales, Rev. Teder, Rev. Smith, Rev. Oaks, Rev. Snyder, Rev. Alberts, Rev. Heil, Rev. Reper, Rev. J. K. Kroft, Rev. Ruel, Rev. Bumgartner, Rev. Teaney, Rev. Overmeyer, Rev. Stowell, Rev. Bailer, Rev. Shoe, Rev. Brooker, Rev. Weisjohn, Rev. Holderman; Rev. W. A. Stowell, 1912, present pastor.


This flourishing congregation is of recent date. There being no church in this neighborhood, the good people were gathered together at Lake Cicott in 1903 by Revs. F. G. Howard and George Jones, and an organization perfected with a charter membership of thirty two, as follows:

Henry and Mary Young; Asa, Ida, Harry, Halleck, Ella and Bert Fisher; Sarah Geir; Sarah and Pearl Baehme; Jacob and Ella Williams; Sarah, James and Mahala Burtis; Turpie, Nora, Bessie, John and Ralph Saunders; Charles, Ella, Lee, Susie, Minnie and F. M. Million Orpha Bingaman, Effie Gordon, Sarah Burk, Emma Gardner, G. B. Harrington; Ada, Fay and Mabel Calloway; Albert, Ella, Tona and Quincy Hildebrandt, Mary Green, Bertha Stewart, Samuel and Ada Berry, John and Theodore Cassman, Fred McDowell, Emma and Maggie Liston, Pauline Banta; David, Hattie and Susie Shields; Daniel, Jane and Flora Foglesong, Max Williams and George Webster.

During the year 1904 the congregation secured lot No. 13 in Million's addition to the town of Lakeville, at Lake Cicott, situated in the southeast quarter section 21, Jefferson township, and erected a substantial house of worship, the material being cement blocks. The cost of the church complete was $2,350. A Sunday school was organized in 1904 and is in a prosperous condition, as is also a Ladies' Aid Society. The church is doing a grand work in the Master's vineyard and has a membership of fifty. The following ministers have had pastoral charge:

A. M. Bowman, 1904-6; C. C. Harold, 1907-8; J. F. Kendrick, 1909-10; C. H. Hickman, 1911-12.


About 1838 the Old School (Hard Shell) Baptists organized a society in the northeast corner of Jefferson township under the leadership of Rev. Andrew Veal, who lived in that neighborhood at that time, and for many years thereafter.

About 1839 Vincent Calvin, Henry Garrett and Andrew Veal were appointed trustees to erect a suitable house of worship. They secured a location on the northeast corner of section 10, Jefferson township, and built a hewed log church, but owing to removals of some of the members and the weak society, the building was never fully completed and never dedicated, and the Crooked Creek church, a few miles to the northeast, in Harrison township, received the few remaining members of this society, and the log church building was sold in 1843 to Aaron J. Fuller, father of John A. Fuller, and moved about two miles to the north in Boone township on Mr. Fuller's farm and occupied as a residence for many years, and this church society became extinct.

[Forward to Part 2 of Jefferson Township History]

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