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

There are many more towns in Clay County at the Clay County Page.


CARDONIA.

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."

Among the merchants of the town were Pliny F. Sharp, W. D. Black, A. P. Hand, Isaac Barnett, ____ Burger, B. F. Witty, Edward Crosser, John L. Morgan, Benjamin Reybold, D. W. V. Morton.

Of the practicing physicians were Drs. Price, Morgan and Gilbert.

A two story frame department schoolhouse and a Congregational church are maintained here. Antedating the founding of the town, ten years, perhaps, a Christian church occupied the northeast corner of the public crossing, a site now in the central part of the town, of which church society Elder Isaac Nicoson, a resident of the immediate locality, is said to have been the pioneer pastor. This was, perhaps, the first and only instance in the geography and history of the county that the original plat in the founding of a town site covered the ground occupied by both a schoolhouse and a church, doing away with both.

In its early history Cardonia was distinctly a mining town, with coal works in the immediate vicinity, when, at tithes, its population would have numbered from three to four hundred, but as the field of coal production receded, the population, business and life of the place was correspondingly affected. Lodges of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Honor, Independent Order of Good Templars, and Chosen Friends, have been maintained here. Estimated population at present 250.

NEWBURG.

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.

The postmasters, as remembered by the present population of the village, were: Ben I. Tribble, Joseph Spry, Allen Payne, Henry M. Pierce, Fred Meckel, Jacob F. Houser (present incumbent). Mary Ellen Tribble, daughter of the postmaster, usually performed the duties of the office under the administration of her father. John Pomeroy is said to have been a deputy for a time under Postmaster Pierce. Fred Meckel, deceased, had the office for nearly a quarter of a century.

The merchants of the town remembered, including the present ones, may be named as follows: Allen Payne, John Minnis, David Carmichael, Thomas Finnigan, Frank Shepperd, Joseph Spry, William Haywood, Perry Johnson, Henry M. Pierce, The Ehrlisch Company, Fred Meckel (succeeded by his son), and Jacob F. Houser.

A potter shop was operated here for some time, by Dolph Clarke, on the site now occupied by the United Brethren church, which was built and dedicated in 1886.

The physicians were Drs. Payne and Gerstmeyer.

BENWOOD.

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.

During the time of the operation of the Vandalia switch from Knightsville out to the mines thereabout, Benwood did considerable business. The first merchant was A. P. Hand, succeeded by F. M. Sigler, Harry Hice, John Murphy, John M. Marks, M. H. Johnson & Co. The growth of the place during the period of its prosperity so developed in school population as to necessitate the building of a two story house with four apartments. Benwood had a postoffice for a year or more at some time under the Arthur administration, which, when discontinued, was merged into the Cardonia office. John Evans was the only postmaster. There has been no merchandising done here since the loss of the M. H. Johnson & Co. business by fire.

COALMONT.

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.

There have been three practicing physicians here: J. W. Davis, H. H. Ward, W. D. Asbury.

The United Brethren and Missionary Baptists maintain churches here, the former having built and dedicated their house of worship in the year 1903, the latter, in 1906-7, dedicated October 12, of the latter year, by Rev. Hemans, of the First Baptist church, Terre Haute, when $500 was contributed in liquidation of indebtedness.

The merchants and dealers of the place from the time of its founding to the present have been: John W. Kester, J. E. Kitchell, Thomas Mitchell, T. H. Cochran, Goble & Crist, - Sinclair, S. F. Auld, Asbury Drug Co., Miller Drug Co. William Carlisle, Elihu Puckett, William Heady, Jeffers & Sears, Griffith & Compton, C. D. Pierson Lumber Co. The original flouring mill, Griffith & Compton, proprietors, was destroyed by fire in 1907, Compton rebuilding the present mill in 1908.

The coal mining industry in the immediate vicinity of this place has been operated by the Big Vein Mining Company, the United Fourth Vein Mining Company, the Green Valley, Golden Knob and Alum Cave shafts, of which the last two are not now running. There are also two mines of less capacity, from which the product is wagoned, operated, respectively, by Gordon and Bolt, proprietors.

Coalmont has a modern, up to date schoolhouse, built in 1908, by Trustee George Phegley, of Lewis township, at a cost of $6,000, dedicated December 19th. The situation here in the school capacity is somewhat phenomenal. The latest building, that now being used, stands on the south side of the town, while on the north side stands a comparatively new two story brick, built in 1904, unoccupied and practically abandoned. The explanation as given the writer is that the house on the north side, which stands but three fourths of a mile from the plant of the United States Powder Company, was so shaken up by the explosion of the 17th of March, 1908, as to leave it in an unsafe condition. It is said, too, that as another source of danger to the building, the site on which it stands has been undermined. From these and additional reasons, an inspector of public buildings officiating by the authority of the State of Indiana, after having visited and viewed the situation, condemned the building. Coalmont occupies a beautiful and desirable building and residence site, with an estimated population of 650.

POLAND.

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.

The two story graded schoolhouse was originally built by Trustee Adam Tressel in 1872. Two churches are maintained in the town - Presbyterian and Methodist. The present M. E. church was built and dedicated in 1873, the dedication taking place on the 21st day of September. The Presbyterian was built three years earlier. Of the practicing physicians were Drs. Cornwell, Stone, Bartholomew, Chamberlain and Elliott. Of the postmasters remembered John J. Hoffman, John Schroer and N. B. Bartholomew.

Poland, it is said, was at one time an incorporated town, and that within the time of the existence of the municipality a vote was taken to express the sense of the population on the question of tolerating the saloon, the election resulting in favor of a "dry" town. This was at some time in the early fifties. Thomas Marsh, who died at Bowling Green a good many years ago, is sa.isto have been the Marshal of the town. However, Poland had saloons in the later years. It is the only town in Clay county, in the State of Indiana, and perhaps within the whole United States, in which a saloon was advertised and did business under the name of "The Symposium," in bold faced letters.

MARYVILLE.

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

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.

Howesville postoffice was established at the time of Robert Howe's doing business there, but at what time can not now be said. The succession in postmasters may be given substantially as follows: Robert Howe, James Fox, Samuel Barcus, J. N. Crawford, B. V. Hill, Edward Bonham, N. A. Harris, J. W. Eversole, N. A. Harris (present incumbent).

The industries operated at this place have been few: A feed mill, for a time, by D. A. Hill; a saw mill, by William Rumple; a cooper shop, by Robert Jordan, and a feed mill now maintained by the Coal City Milling Company.

The Presbyterian church was completed in the year 1871 and dedicated on the 26th day of November, by Rev. Henry Little, Synodical Missionary of the State of Indiana, when the total indebtedness incurred was liquidated by collections made. The society was organized five years before, at the old Camp Island schoolhouse, with twelve adult members, which had increased to thirty at the time of the dedication Of the new house. The brick schoolhouse was built in 1897, by Edward Bonham, Trustee of Lewis township.

Howesville is a station on the Monon Railroad, with a promising outlook for the future in the development and history of the county. Population 200.

PRAIRIE CITY.

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.

A postoffice was established here in 1888 and Sylvester Grable appointed postmaster, succeeded by Lewis McNutt, on whose retirement Mary N. Trout was appointed, June to, 1895, whose term of service extended to the first of March, 1902, when the office was discontinued and supplanted by rural route No. 2 from Brazil, later by route No. 4 from Center Point. The only physician was Dr. Charles Benell, and the only mechanics, Delaney Short and John Bobo, blacksmiths. However, Garner Bobo had previously maintained a "smithy" at the old road crossing on the original site. Prairie City was not without a saloon, which was run one year by Thomas McCullough.

The U. B. church at this place was built in the year 1899 and dedicated on the 18th day of June, by Bishop N. A. Castle.

PRATTVILLE.

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.

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 town plat.

WHITTINGTON.

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.

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.

The pioneer merchant of this place was John Bonewitz, who was succeeded by Neidlinger Brothers, William May, Frank Snyder, Monroe Peyton, Lowdermilk & Ricard,:Asher Brothers, A. L. Witty, Samuel M. Stigler, Wesley Stigler, Woolf Brothers, William Seigelin, G. W. McMillen, W. H. Payne, John T. Elliott, Lewis McCullough.

The postmasters have been: John Bonewitz, Monroe Peyton, William May, Samuel Stigler, Lewis McCullough, W. H. Payne, John T. Elliott, Dora Elliott.

The practicing physicians: Moses Swinehart, Dr. Price, Fred Nussel, B. F. Holmes, Dr. Strowbridge, B. T. Lewis, R. Gantz, Dr. Mendenhall, F. M. Siner, Dr. McNutt, Dr. Ray.

The fraternal organizations maintained here are: Asherville Lodge I. O. O. F., No. 757, having a membership of 7o; Knights of Pythias, No. 290, instituted in 1890, with a present membership of 16o; Pythian Sisters, having a membership of too, and Home Defenders, very recently instituted.

There is but one house of worship here, the Church of Christ, built and dedicated in the year 1881. There is no schoolhouse here, as the school population of the town is within easy reach of the first department building, known as "The Center."

Nor are there any manufacturing industries; only local mechanical shops. Population 200.

DONALDSONVILLE.

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.

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.

The practicing physicians of the town have been: Oliver James, James A. Modesitt, Robert C. Black, Dr. Schluss, Dr. Hiatt, M. A. Boor, L. C. Griffith, C. A. Ray.

The merchants of the place have been: Hiram R. Wyatt, Oscar Rankin, James & Modesitt, E. J. Mewhinney, Jacob E. Phillips, James & Foulke, Rudolph Stuckwisch, Lucas & Son, David Hatfield, John F. Donham, Andrew S. Decker, Butt & Zenor, Henry Haas, Leberer Brothers, Charles L. Cox, Barber & Gard, Edgar Staggs.

The first mechanic was Philip Hutchison, the blacksmith.

The Elkhorn flouring mill was built in 1876 by O'Brien & Jeffers, costing $12,000, with the daily capacity of one hundred barrels. The proprietors succeeding the founders have been Moorhart, Ferrel & James, Butt & James, Lawell & James, Ross Holler, Gruber & Son, Henry Mover.

The M. E. church was built in 1879, dedicated May 30, 1880, by Elder John Poucher. G. W. Asbury was the first pastor. The first Sunday school was organized and taught in the original frame schoolhouse, William P. Foulke, first superintendent.

The present two story brick schoolhouse, built in 1898, by Trustee Sargent Staggs, was at that time pronounced the best township school building in the county. Cory high school was preliminarily commissioned in February, 1909.

Clear Creek Lodge, I. O. O. F., No. 449, instituted April 17, 1874, with charter membership of 11, now numbers 134.

Martha Lodge, Rebekahs, No. 155, instituted in 1875, with charter membership of 12, now numbers 50.

Pehaska Tribe, No. 435, I. O. R. M., instituted in 1905, with charter membership of 58, now numbers 80.

Arrah Wanna Council, No. 271, Pocahontas, has a membership of 70. Cory Encampment of Odd Fellows, No. 326, has a membership of 35. There is also a Grand Army Post. Population, 300.

PERTH.

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.

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.


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