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


Middlebury, a pioneer town in the central part of Harrison township, eighteen miles directly south of Brazil, founded by John Cooprider in 1836, so named simply from selection, the founder having committed to his son, Elias Cooprider, the choosing of the name, which was taken from a list of geographical terms in an old time spelling book. The name means, literally, the burg that is in the middle, or half way between points. What points, if any, were in mind at the time of the naming does not now appear. The original town site comprised 64 lots - 8 blocks of 8 lots each - of which Main and Jackson are the principal streets, Kossuth Road and Jackson street being the same thoroughfare. To this site additions were made from time to time, but not by survey and plat, additional lots and strips, as sold by the proprietor, having been defined by metes and bounds. However, the Weaver addition of 1872, on the southeast, was regularly surveyed and platted. This town stands upon what is known as the "Sand Hill," an elevation of peculiar formation - a mound of several hundred acres of sand of irregular outline, on a base and margin of clay, the summit a hundred feet above the surrounding level. Prior to the building of the macadamized roads, the town could not be approached from any point of the compass without a heavy pull through deep sand.

For the first eighteen years of its history Middlebury was without a postoffice. In 1854, within the time of Clinton M. Thompson's service as postmaster at Bowling Green, four postoffices were granted on his recommendation - Center Point and Mart; in Clay county, and Patricksburg and Alligator, in Owen county, of which details are given under the head of "Reminiscences."

The postmasters at Martz (Middlebury) have been George Jett, Absalom Briley, James Moody, Jacob J. Baker, Melancthon Stull, John W. Sutton, Frank Brothers, J. B. Collins, and James F. Lankford. On the first of May, 1907, after a period of fifty three years, the office was discontinued, supplanted by rural delivery, routes number 2 and 5 out from Clay City. During the extended length of time for which James Moody held the office, about twenty years, the mails were handled by a number of deputies, of whom may be named Jacob J. Baker, Eli Cooprider, William H. Long, John Fair, Smith Auld, O. P. Strother, G. W. Ellenberger.

An enumeration in full of all who engaged in business at this place would be an extended list, of whom are named from recollection the following: John Brush, Jacob J. Baker, Jacob Cofer, Joel H. Buckallew, Vinyard Church, Kress & Cooprider, William H. Long, Long & White, Smith & Harris, Watts Brothers, Philip Farris, Long & Son, Daniel Reed, H. O. Duncan & Son, James H. Witty, Kress & Horton, Henry Clymer, J. W. Danhour, Hale & Williams, Givens & Dial, Storm & Cook, George Markle, Storm & Steuernagel, White & Storm, S. F. Duncan, Everhart & Caton, John Fair, Smith Auld, N. A. Harris, John W. Sutton, Everhart & Strother, Thomas Winters, Frank and William Brothers, Charles Rogerson, M. Stull, F. M. Hale, James F. Lankford, Greenville Owens, S. G. Brandenburg.

The practicing physicians have been: William Hill, W. B. Brown, Dr. Hoyt, Absalom Briley, M. L. Jett, Dr. Foster, Dr. Eason, W. H. Smith, James Watts, L. A. Hale, Frank Woodruff, W. H. Butler, Joshua Phipps, Lee Woodruff, William Young, Dr. Hiatt, Dr. Dowell.

The attorneys at law: - Van Camp, George A. Byrd, George W. Wiltse, William V. Burns, John T. Gardner, Frank A. Horner, John W. Homer, A. R. Julian, Esau Preston, Walter C. Elkin, George P. Stone, W. T. Puckett.

The two story brick schoolhouse here was originally, built by Trustee Frank A. Horner, in the year 1889, and the addition by Trustee William Malsom, in the year 1903.

Good Hope Baptist church, which was four years in process of building, was completed in the latter part of the year 1873, and dedicated on the 21st day of December, which was, at that time, the largest auditorium in the county. The Forty ninth anniversary of the organization of this church was celebrated here, August 28, 1889. The United Brethren church was built in the years 1872-73 and dedicated on the first day of June of the latter year. The Christian church was built in 1890, the cornerstone laid with appropriate exercises on Thursday, August 28th, the dedication taking place on the 21st day of December following, sermon by Elder L. L. Carpenter.

Aside from the mechanical shops usually maintained at centers of population, the only industry at Middlebury was the lumber and planing mill operated by John W. White from 1876 to 1879, when it was removed to Clay City. But there were several industries for a time immediately round about the town, including saw mills, a flouring mill, and coal mines. The principal one was that maintained by Modrell & Johns, a half mile south of the town, who did an extensive business in timber and lumber, employing a number of men and teams, shipping their products from Clay City - lumber, shingles, lath, turned work, etc. This firm continued operations at this point for the period of four years, when they located at Clay City.

Middlebury was at one time a municipality under the name of "Martz." At the March term of Commissioners' Court, 1877, a petition was filed praying for an election to be called to vote on the proposition to incorporate the town. Such election was ordered and subsequently held on the 28th day of the same month, the majority of the 90 votes favoring the incorporation, the area of the same comprising 280 acres and a total population of 373. The Board of Commissioners at their June term following approved of the procedure and ordered an election of officers, which was held on the 21st day of June. At the expiration of three years, the people of the town having tired of maintaining the incorporation, voted it out in 1880. Population 350.

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