History of Center Point, Clay County, Indiana
From: A History of Clay County, Indiana
By: William Travis (of Middlebury)
The Lewis Publishing Company
New York - Chicago 1909


Center Point, in Sugar Ridge township, the largest town in the central part of the county, on the Upper Bloomington road, ten miles southeast of Brazil, the terminus of the Center Point division of the Vandalia railroad, founded in 1856, by Martin H. Kennedy. The original plat comprised but sixteen lots, to which the proprietor made an addition of fifty six lots, just two years later. This place was so named from the post office, which had been established previously, in 1854, at a point practically central within the territory of the county. Located on the Bowling Green-Brazil mail route, Center Point had the advantage and benefit of daily mail delivery from its founding and all along through its history, which cannot be said of any other town in the county not on a railroad line, excepting the former county seat. Desirous of seeing the town improve, the proprietor sold lots at reasonable prices and on payments to suit purchasers. And having a saw mill on his premises, he provided lumber on the same terms to those wanting to improve their lots, he himself making improvements for sale or rent. The first house erected after the town site had been platted is said to have been put up by Joseph Ridinger, who was the pioneer hotel keeper. The first postmaster was B. H. Shrewsbury, and those succeeding him, down to the present time, Zeno Hinshaw, Esau Presnell, John H. Reeder, Henry M. Pierce, W. H. H. Holly, John Helton, Emery Fisher, W. H. McCullough, Willis N. Gard, M. A. Perry.

Shrewsbury was also the first merchant, followed by Presnell & Kennedy, Silas Watts, M. H. Kennedy & Son, Gonter Brothers, John Watson, A. R. Jethrich, Pierce, Carpenter and Burtner, W. B. Ferguson, William Peacock, W. J. Kennedy, J. W. Senseney, John C. McGregor, Krytzer & Brewer, George Grimes, John H. Reeder, John L. Kennedy, Emery Fisher, M. S. Wilkinson, Weaver, Getz & Co., J. G. Ferrell, Robert Perry, Wilkinson & McCullough, Scharf & McCullough, Miller & Rentschler, Zeller & McClelland, W. W. Risher, Woolf Brothers, Julian Ury, Lancett Brothers, J. F. Dierdorff.

The practicing physicians have been: John C. Gilfillan, J. T. Duffield, Wm. J. Kennedy, M. C. Mendenhall, R. C. Black, Dr. Witty, Dr. Dale, Wm. M. Harris, A. E. Rundell, G. A. Finch, E. R. Gamble.

The town of Center Point was incorporated in the year 1869, with a population of 300, by this procedure coming into possession and exclusive control of its school property The original two story frame schoolhouse was built in 1866 and occupied for school purposes for the period of twenty nine years, until the year 1895, when the present brick house was built and dedicated in the month of October.

The first house of worship on the site of this place was the United Brethren church, which stood on the east side of the town and on the north side of the Bowling Green road, erected in 1852, four years before the founding of the town, claimed to have been at the time the largest auditorium in the county. At the time this house was built it was the usage to stack the lumber on the ground and kiln dry it, using one or more stoves. While in process of seasoning, by some accident, or otherwise, fire was communicated to the lumber and the whole stack consumed, entailing a heavy loss and delay in time. The bulk of it was choice poplar, which would be worth at this time from $5 to $6 a hundred. This house was used for church purposes for the period of twenty three years, until the building and dedication of the more modern house in the west part of town, in 1875, which was remodeled and rebuilt after another period of twenty three years, then rededicated on the 23d day of August, 1898.

The first Methodist Episcopal church within the limits of the town was built on the southeast quarter of the plat, in 1872-73, and dedicated on the t5th day of June of the latter year. For the building of this house Dr. John Williams donated the timber and lumber in the tree. After the expiration of twenty seven years, at some time in 1900, it was decided to displace this house with a new and more modernly designed and constructed one, which was erected in 1901, dedicated on the 30th day of June, which stands in the same part of the town.

There are maintained here a lodge of the Knights of Pythias, instituted in 1889, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, instituted on the 19th day of July, 1898, and an Encampment.

The principal industry at this place is the flouring mill, built by M. H. Kennedy in 1858-59 and put in operation at some time in the fore part of the latter year, which has now been running just half a century. During this time the working machinery of this mill has been three times remodeled and rebuilt, so that at this time it is in every sense up to date and in prime condition throughout. With the exception of but a comparatively very brief interval, this industrial institution has been owned and operated for the fifty years of its history by members of the Kennedy family, who founded it. In the spring of t860 a woolen mill was attached, an addition having been built to accommodate this industry, in the founding and operation of which George W. Grimes, Joseph Deitrich and Samuel Hollingsworth were associated with the Kennedys. After having been operated here three years, this industry was transferred to Terre Haute, where the Kennedy Brothers founded the Vigo Woolen Mills in 1864-65.

About the time of the close of the Civil War two clay industries were founded here for the production of pottery, one by Adolphus Clark, on the south side of Main street, in the east part of town; the other by Samuel Brown, on the north side of town, near the cemetery.

A planing mill was located here in 1891, by James M. Bevis, who operated it about two years, then removed it to Terre Haute at some time in the year 1893.

A clay manufacturing association with a capital stock of $20,000 was organized and the Center Point brick works founded in the spring of 1905, the plant closing down after having been operated two years; work is to be resumed.

The First National Bank of Center Point, with a capital stock of $25,000, opened for business, Friday, October 16, 1908.

As many as twelve coal mines have been operated by steam power in Sugar Ridge township, the greater number of them in the vicinity of Center Point. The Crawford Company operated mines on the N. A. Gibbons, M. H. Kennedy, W. R. Kennedy and Hardy Hicks farms; the Zeller Company, on the Jacob B. Moss farm; the Weaver-Tod Company, on the N. A. Gibbons land; the Weaver-Getz Company, on the W. R. Kennedy farm; Harry Sherburne, on the W. C. Hall place. Dunnegan & Ambrose and Isaac Atkinson, also, operated on the M. H. Kennedy farm, Frank Zimmerman on the former Hinshaw place, and Robert Givens & Sons on the Samuel Butt farm. Of all these enumerated mines, only No. 6 Crawford, on the W. R. Kennedy place, the Zimmerman, and the Robert Givens & Sons mines are now being operated. There are in operation two good horse power, or gin shafts, one by the Tilley Brothers, on their farm, at Ashboro, the other, by George Wiederoder & Son, on the former Pierce place, between Ashboro and Center Point. Zimmerman and Givens & Sons ship large quantities of fire clay.

In the early history of mining operations here, John Steadman is remembered as having run a horse power shaft a number of years on the northeast border of the town, near the old U. B. church, and the Polled Brothers at a later date.

Center Point has an estimated population of 700.

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