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


Knightsville, a town and postoffice in Van Buren township, on the Vandalia Railroad, two miles east of Brazil, fifty five miles west of Indianapolis, and eighteen miles east of Terre Haute, laid out by Dr. A. W. Knight, of Brazil, on his premises, in 1867, and named for himself. This place was the site of the iron works - furnace and rolling mills - of the Western Iron Company, planted in 1866, a year in advance of the founding of the town, during which interval the hamlet which sprang up about the mills was popularly named Hazelton, presumably, from the thicket of hazel brush previously abounding thereabout. A postoffice was not established until at some time in the year 1870, and was made a money order office July 1st, 1873. The coal and iron interests and industries so rapidly developed the town that within a few years it became the second in the county in importance, and is said to have been in its balmiest days the heaviest local shipping point between Indianapolis and St. Louis.

Knightsville was incorporated in 1872. The petition having been filed with the Board of Commissioners at their March term, the preliminary election was held on the 20th day of the same month, resulting in favor of the proposition. At the succeeding June term of court, on the 5th day of the month, the Board declared the territory described incorporated. The town then had a population of 800. First trustees: W. C. Hudson, F. Sullivan, Wm. Watson; D. H. Davis, Treasurer; A. Hutchison, Clerk; S. C. Nicoson, Marshal. The postmasters at this place have been: Daniel H. Davis, Andrew Oswalt, Scott Inge, James Munce, Noah Palmer, John Mason, Joshua Horsfield (the ineumbent). Scott Inge served under both the Cleveland administrations.

The practicing physicians have been: C. C. Stokes, Dr. Hamrick, Dr. Lynch, George Dunn, S. C. McClintock, W. H. Sams, William J. Dickson, E. E. Ellis, J. H. Bixby, Dr. Starr, J. C. Thomas, B. F. Spelbring, R. M. Hollingsworth, J. C. Huffman, F. G. Thornton.

The first schoolhouse was erected on the Main street, by the Western Iron and Coal Company, on ground donated by the proprietor of the town site, and a Mr. Mack employed by the company to teach. Within a very few years the school population of the town had outgrown this house, when a two story frame of four rooms was built by the incorporation in the south part of the town. The development of Knightsville commercially and numerically for the first few years of its history surpassed that of any other town of the county. But the suspension of operations of the iron industry and the removal of the plant, in the year 1875, which had employed from 250 to 300 men, materially detracted from the industrial and commercial prestige of the town. The Indiana Coal and Iron Company operated two coal shafts at this place.

The first store here was opened by Barnett & Witty, in 1867, the same year that the town site was founded, and the second by William C. Hudson. Davis & Collins, D. O. Elliott, Alexander Parks, Amos Hutchinson, Nicoson & Winkelpleck were also among the early business men of the town. A little later on, including also the present, may be enumerated: F. M. Sigler, Aaron Cook, I. J. Nicoson, D. H. Davis, E. L. Winkeipleck, Zeller, McClelland & Co., Thomas Bridewell, Indiana Mercantile Co., John L. Kennedy, W. H. Plumb, William Richards, C. A. Withers, James N. Dilley, Morris Gray, Andrew Oswalt, William T. Davis, Alexander Haggart, John Lyons, Morgan & Co., Biggerstaff & Dickson, William McDonald, George Rohrig, James Suttic, George Came, D. H. Davis & Co., S. F. Adamson & Son, Davis & Dixon, Llewellyn John, Eckels Brothers, Morton & Price, Mrs. Anna McNabb.

The Methodist Episcopal and Christian church organizations maintain houses of worship at this place.

Knightsville is the only town in the county which has numbered among its population a representative of the colored race as a practicing attorney at law. Robert Cowan, who came to the place as a barber, read law at leisure hours and between shaves, and was later admitted to the bar.

A number of fraternal organizations are maintained here: Knightsville Lodge No. 409 F. & A. M., instituted May 24, 1870, of which David Lamond was first Master, has a membership of 180; Colfax Lodge No. 612, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; Lodge No. 186, Knights of Pythias, instituted March 10, 1888, present membership 147; Rawley Temple Pythian Sisters; Improved Order of Red Men; Eastern Star; Rebekahs; Pocahontas, and an Encampment - all represented to be well sustained and in flourishing condition.

Knightsville is situated at the junction of the Center Point division of the Vandalia railroad with the main line, eight miles from the terminus.

Other than its iron plant and coal mines this place has had no substantial industries more than the mechanical shops usually kept up at local centers of population and trade.

The flouring mill originally built here by a co-operative or joint stock company met the same fate as that of fifty per cent of the steam flouring mills of the county, was swept away by fire May 10, 1907.

The first mineral or artesian well boring in the county was put clown at this place in 1872, the drill starting about the t5th of April.

The population of Knightsville as shown by the census of 1890 was 1,148; by the census of 1900, 1,171.

After sixteen years of municipal government, resident taxpayers of this place becoming dissatisfied with conditions, began the agitation of the undoing of the incorporation, which resulted in the formal submission of the matter to the qualified electors of the territory. By a vote taken the first of June, 1888, it was popularly decided to sustain the organization and go on with the town government.

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