History of Towns with short histories, Clay County, Indiana
From: A History of Clay County, Indiana
By: William Travis (of Middlebury)
The Lewis Publishing Company
New York - Chicago 1909
Cardonia, a town in the western central part of Van Buren township, three and a half miles northeast of Brazil,
near the line of the Central Indiana (formerly the Chicago & Southeastern) Railroad, founded in 1871, by the
Clay County Coal Company, and named in honor of John F. Card, who was at the time the president of this company.
The old cross roads at the Easter schoolhouse, on the hill, are the intersection of the two principal streets of
the town, the plat including all the four corners, the company's store building covering the site on which stood
the district schoolhouse of more than forty years ago. The first postoffice here, which was granted in the latter
part of the year 1873, was named Alexander, in honor of John S. Alexander, who acknowledged the execution of the
plat of the town, May 25, 1872, by his attorney, William H. Zimmerman, then changed, at a later date, to conform
to the name of the town. This office was discontinued in 1904, Postmaster Richard Rayboldt having resigned. A few
months later D. W. V. Morton, the druggist of the town, consenting to accept the position, the office, on petition,
was reinstated. Other postmasters were W. D. Black, James Price, George Easter, Jr., and Edward Crosser. Mail delivery
to this office was for a number of years by the Carbon-Brazil stage, or hack line, and later, for a time, by the
Chicago & Southeastern Railroad, a carrier making the daily trips between the office and the point on the railroad
popularly known as "Sundown."
Newburg, a station on the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad, in Posey township, two miles southwest of
Brazil, founded by Joshua M. Modesitt, in 1854, but for what reason, if any, it was given this name in preference
to any other does not appear. This place lies on the border line between the block and the bituminous coal areas,
and was for many years the home of the veteran operator Peter Ehrlisch, deceased, the surviving brother, Christian
Ehrlisch, who was associated with him, still residing here. The name of the first postoffice here, which was in
existence at the time of the Civil war was Sherman, so named, perhaps, in honor of General William T. Sherman,
which, after a few years, was discontinued. At some time in the seventies it was re-established and named Turner,
in honor of Rev. Turner, of the Friends' church, Indianapolis, president of the Indianapolis Mining, Coal &
Coke Company, who had large interests in the way of investments here in mineral lands and their development.
Benwood, a town in Van Buren township, three and a half miles northeast of Brazil, founded by Franklin and Martha
Casteel, in 1871. 'Though in the developed area of the coal field and populated largely by miners employed at the
shafts thereabout, this place did not derive its name from this circumstance. Owing to the fact that the lands
of Van Buren township were heavily timbered, much of the cord wood delivered to the Vandalia Railroad for fuel
prior to the use of coal, was cut on the Casteel and surrounding grounds, to which frequent visits were made by
the railroad company's inspector and receiver, who was familiarly known as "Ben Davis." It was the fancy
of the founders of the place to honor and perpetuate the memory of their friend Davis in the naming, by simply
and befittingly combining the abridged fore part of his name with "wood" - Benwood.
Coalmont, a town and postoffice in the southwest corner of the county, in Lewis township, on the Southern Indiana
Railroad, founded by John R. Walsh, in the year 1900, so named from its being in the coal belt and from the comparative
elevation of the site, of which the altitude is perhaps the greatest of that of any point on the line of this railroad
between Terre Haute and Bedford. The original town plat comprised twenty acres of the former Uriah Coulson farm,
to which have since been platted Coulson's 1st and 2d additions and Neal's addition. The first buildings on the
plat were erected by John W. Kester and Oscar Briley, at practically the same time, Kester engaging in merchandising
and Briley in the saloon traffic, who named his place "The Belmont," from which the impression' was made,
at that time, that this was to be the name of the future town and postoffice. This office dates from April I, 1901,
Miss Julia Kester first postmaster, succeeded by William Sargent, who was followed by S. F. Auld (present incumbent).
It was made a money order office, October 1, 1902. The first carload of freight shipped to this place was a lot
of building stone, consigned to John W. Kester.
Poland, the only town in Cass township, lying within a half mile of the Owen county line, six miles north of
Bowling Green, dates its beginning back to 1841, when John B. Nees, John Chance, Isaac Anderson and James Crafton,
owners of the lands cornering at the crossing of the roads. contributed to the plat and founded the town site.
The name conferred was but a selection by mutual agreement on the part of the proprietors. This town is pleasantly
situated in the midst of an industrious, prosperous farming community, of which the population is largely German.
Soon after the founding of the town a postoffice was established, served by star route from Bowling Green. A man
named Wittenberg was the first merchant of the town. Nees & Peyton engaged in merchandising at an early day
in the history of the place and did business for a number of years. Their successors in mercantile pursuits, along
the line, were Lawrence Athey, Adam Tressel, Tressel & Kattman, RRag. Wingate, Stwalley & Son, William
S. Walker, J. C. McGregor, Henry Spelbring, Calvin B. Moore, Baumunk Brothers, Dr. Chamberlain, and others.
Maryville, a town in the northeast corner of the county, in Van Buren township, on the Indianapolis & St.
Louis Railroad, laid out by Mary Wyatt, in 1870, so named for herself. Though a separate town plat, this place
is, practically, that part of the town of Lena lying on the south side of the railroad and in Clay county, Lena
proper being in Parke county. The business houses at this point and postoffice have all along been on the north
side of the county line.
Howesville, a town and postoffice in the extreme south part of the county, within half a mile of the Greene
county line, in Lewis township, seven miles southwest of Clay City, and twenty four miles a little east of south
from Brazil, founded by Robert Howe, in 1856, and so named for him. Having failed to make any record of his plat,
the town was not formally and officially recognized until platted and put to record by William Muir, in 1867. The
pioneer than of business on the site of the town was Rodney Taylor, who preceded Robert Howe as much as twelve
or fifteen years, having located there at some time early in the forties. The individuals and firms who have done
merchandising at this place, including those now engaged, may be enumerated in the following order: Rodney Taylor,
Robert Howe, Fox & Stark, Fisher & Haines, William Morgan, John M. Clark, J. N. Crawford, N. A. Harris,
L. S. Bartlett, D. A. Hill, N. A. Harris, J. W. Eversole, William Mast.
Prairie City, a town plat and station on the Brazil branch of the Evansville & Indianapolis Railroad, in
Jackson township, six miles south of Brazil, originally laid out a little distance north of the present site, on
the Upper Bloomington road, about half way between the old Birch Creek crossing and Mt. Olivet, by Absalom B. Wheeler,
in the year 1869, and so named from its location on the border of what has long been known as Wheeler's Prairie,
or Clay Prairie. But few of the lots platted by Wheeler were ever sold and improved. The change in the public road
from the Zenor cemetery westward from its former course to the line between the Wheeler and Gibbons farms had the
effect to transplant the hamlet, which is now on the Allen Gibbons addition. A store has been maintained here ever
since this change was made. The first merchant was Sylvester Grable, with whom was associated Wilford Beatty, who
were succeeded by Wilson & McNutt, William J. Hooker, Charles Benell, Edward Osborn, W. J. Redenbacher, E.
L. Bolin, Ora Gibbons, John A. Trout, John Redenbacher & Son.
Prattville, on the Indianapolis & St. Louis Railroad, in Dick Johnson township, founded by James M. Halbert,
in 1871. During the time of the existence of this place as a business point and station on the railroad, it was
known as Lodi, the name originally intended, but as it was necessary to select a different name for the postoffice,
the Department named it Pratt, in honor of Daniel D. Pratt, then a United States Senator from Indiana. Then, to
conform to the name of the postoffice, the town was from that time known as Prattville. This is the only instance
in the history of the county of a point's having three distinct names for the town, the postoffice, and the railroad
station. James M. Halbert, the proprietor, was the first merchant and postmaster. Asa town site, postoffice and
business point this place has been practically abandoned.
Stearleyville, a town site, station and former postoffice in the south part of Jackson township, on the line
of the Center Point division of the Vandalia Railroad, two miles north of Center Point, so named for the reason
that it was founded by George Stearley, on his premises in 1891. The postoffice was established in 1892, and discontinued
in 1902, succeeded by rural delivery. The postmasters were James T. Carrithers and Edward Shults. The first business
house was erected on the southeast corner of the crossing, on the premises of Dr. B. F. Holmes, which was burned
several years later, when Stearley put up a business room on the opposite or northwest corner of the crossing,
which is still occupied. The merchants of the place have been Edward Arnink, John Hoffman, Stigler Brothers and
Edward Shults. A German Reform church was erected here, known as St. Peters, perhaps prior to the founding of the
Whittington, in Jackson township, four miles southeast of Brazil, founded in 1873, by John G. Ackelmire, John
Andrew and R. M. Wingate, named for John Whittington, because of its location, in part, on his farm. The founders
were interested in coal lands at this point, where, at the same time, they put down and operated the "Hoosier"
shaft, on the northwest side, from which the postoffice, established in 1874, was named Hoosierville. By common
consent and usage the town soon became known by the same name. The postmasters, during the thirty four years of
the existence of this office, when it was succeeded by rural delivery, were Noah Auman, Esau Bolin, D. N. Barnett,
Ellen Thompson, Esau Bolin. The first merchant was Dr. Lynch, of Greencastle, followed by Sturdevant & Auman,
Leason B. Pruner, W. S. Zenor, D. N. Barnett, James Thompson, John Bolin, Esau Bolin. The two story brick schoolhouse
at this place was built by Trustee John W. Winn, in 1891. The practicing physicians have been: John Lynch, B. F.
Holmes, G. W. McMillan, H. A. Davis, Dr. Myrtle, A. H. Nall, Henry Muncie. Population too. This town site is the
nearest in the county to the center of population.
Asherville, a town and postoffice in Jackson township, six miles southeast of Brazil, on the Center Point division
of the Vandalia Railroad, so named by the projector and founder, John Asher, on whose premises the original site
was laid out, in 1873. The postoffice was established in 1874, the first one in the township. Asherville is in
the block coal field, several mines having been operated within the immediate vicinity.
Donaldsonville, a town in Brazil township, on the old National road and on the line of the Terre Haute &
Indianapolis interurban, less than a mile east of Morgan's Crossing, laid out in 1867, by Mrs. E. D. Rardan, so
named in honor and memory of the founder, whose name before marriage was Donaldson. When this place was platted
it was in Van Buren township, but a year later, when Brazil township was organized, it was included within the
survey of the new civil division. Then the plat of Donaldsonville was two miles out from Meridian street, but now
it is suburban to Brazil. Population 150.
Cory, the only town in Perry township, on the Evansville & Indianapolis Railroad, a mile and a half east
of the Vigo county line, founded in 1872, by John S. Donham, Newport Staggs and Oliver James, named for Simeon
Cory, a pioneer and popular hardware merchant of Terre Haute, who, in recognition of the honor, volunteered to
put in a town pump and build a schoolhouse. The public well was dug and the pump put in, but the schoolhouse was
not built, for the reason that Mr. Cory took sick and died soon thereafter. The altitude of Cory is greater than
that of any other town on the line of the E. & I. Railroad between Terre Haute and Worthington. The original
town plat comprised forty three lots and six streets, to which additions of small area were subsequently made by
John S. Donham and Samuel Lucas. Cory postoffice was established the same year of the founding of the town, and
Oscar Rankin appointed postmaster. His successors in this position have been Oliver James, Webb Lucas, Wesley Danner,
Edgar Mewhinney, G. E. Leberer, David Lawell, J. E. Phillips, T. P. Hartley, Edgar Staggs, John R. Ferrel, L. G.
West, John F. Donham, Charles Wyatt. Cory was made a money order office July I, 1892.
Perth, a town and postoffice in the extreme north part of the county, near the Parke county line, in Dick Johnson
township, on the I. & S. L. R. R., from five to six miles north of Brazil, laid out by Michael McMillan, in
187o, and so named, presumably, from Perth, Scotland, birthplace of the proprietor's ancestry. This town was founded
prospectively, as a shipping point and speculative venture. The plat comprised, originally, twenty lots, 60x120
feet, with four cross streets. A postoffice was established within the year of the founding of the town. The population
of this town has all along been largely of the mining element. The department frame schoolhouse here was built
by Trustee Granville C. Brown, in 1892. Population, 25o.
Pontiac, a hamlet in Van Buren township, one mile south of Carbon, founded by Aaron Lovall, in 1871, and given
the historic name of the Ottawa Indian chief slain at Cahokia, Illinois, in 1769. At the time of surveying this
town site and placing it on the map the proprietor intended it as a station on the North & South Railroad.
The schoolhouse at this place was built in 1891, by Trustee John Marks.