History of Washington Township, Dearborn County, Indiana
From: History of Dearborn County, Indiana
Her People, Industries and Institutions
Archibald Shaw, Editor
Published By: B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1915


Washington township lies between Laughery creek and South Hogan. It lies on a high ridge of land between the two waterways and is one of the most productive parts of the county. The township was formed in 1852 from territory taken from Laughery township. The following is the description taken from the entry in the minutes of the county commissioners: "Beginning on Laughery creek in section 13, township 4, range 2, where the range line dividing ranges i and 2 strikes the creek; thence up said creek to where a line running north and south through the center of section 21, in said township 4, strikes said creek; thence north to the center of said section 21; thence west to the east line of section 20, in said township 4, being the southwest corner of the northwest quarter of said section 21; thence north on the section line dividing sections 20 and 21, in said township 4, range 2 west, to where said line crosses the South fork of Hogan creek; thence down said South Hogan creek to the range line dividing ranges i and 2; thence south on said range line to place of beginning."

Land was entered in Washington township very early in the history of the county. Henry Cloud entered a portion of section 11 in the year 1803, and by 1820 the land in the township was all sold to private parties. Among the earliest entries were those made by John Livingston in 1803, Michael Honich in 1805, Daniel Conaway in 1812. Daniel Lynn in 1813, John Hubbart in 1812, Ralph Smith in 1812. John Walker in 1813, John Buffington in 1813, John Buffington, Stephen Peters and James Walker in 1812, Ira Wright in 1812.

Settlers, however, came into the township as early as 1796. Pretty good authority is given that Benjamin Walker and family made a settlement in the southern part of the township on Laughery creek as early as the summer of 1796. Mr. Walker came from Pennsylvania and a few years later moved to the south side of Laughery creek and laid out the village of Hartford. He was the father of Henry Walker, a prominent character in Aurora during the decades from 1850 to 1870. Benjamin Walker had quite an adventurous career and a sketch of his early life shows what trials were had by some of the early settlers.


"When Mr. Walker first came to the county he lived alone, but having decided to make this county his home he sent for his wife to join him, which she did with their three children. While living in their forest home they were often visited by an Indian chief called Captain Green. One day this Indian came into the cabin with such an expression of rage on his countenance and his tomahawk in his hand, that Henry Walker, then a little boy, hid behind his mother's chair. The chief, addressing himself to Benjamin Walker, said, `You kill Indian.' Walker instantly sprang to his feet at this unexpected arraignment and bravely replied, 'Yes, kill Indian-me kill two Indians'; and stopping for a moment as if to weigh the effect, added, 'They killed my father.' The chief threw down his tomahawk and held out his hand. `Right-right-me kill, too.' This led to an explanation of the affair, and the boy who had quailed before the savage eye of the wild man of the wilderness heard the story from his father's lips, and told it to John Cobb, a few years since, while on a visit to James Walker, in Illinois, and Mr. Cobb narrated it to the writer.

"More than eighty years ago (from 1876) two Indians visited a village in Pennsylvania, and among other things got to bragging how many whites they had killed during the Revolutionary War, and showing a stick with notches cut, they pointed to it and said, `So many.' A bystander noticing a few long marks, as a boy tallying a game, wished to know what they meant, and was told that the long marks were for officers and one of the longest was for Colonel Walker. The mention of this name attracted the attention of three young men who had been left orphans years before. The Indian continued: `Colonel Walker no brave he beg wanted to come home,' and with many taunts and many particulars of his death, these fatherless boys listened in silence, but after the Indians had gotten through and left town these three held a council, and decided that these Indians should never brag again of killing their father, and started in pursuit.

"After they had gone some distance one of the brothers hesitated and advised them not to go any further, but the two elder were determined to go on and drove this one back. They went on and overtook the Indians near a stream. Benjamin had with him a short sword, John had a gun. They had agreed on a plan of attack when they had got near enough. The one with the gun was to shoot the Indian in advance, and Benjamin was to attack the other with his sword. At the signal the gun did its work. but not effectively; the Indian fell but only wounded. Benjamin raised his sword to strike, but as it came down it struck a limb and the Indian started to run, Walker after him. The Indian plunged into a stream, but not alone. They struggled in the water for sometime until the Indian drew a knife, which Walker wrenched from him and killed him. By this time the wounded Indian had found his feet and seeing the contest in the water tried to get there in time to assist his friend, but his speed did not serve him, for when he had got there Walker had killed the first and soon dispatched the second. This over a new trouble met them.

"Some of the citizens of the village, suspecting that something might be on hand of the character related, had also sought the lonely woods and before young Walker had left the stream came in sight and spoke of arresting him. He told them not to undertake it as enough blood had been spilled that day, and they might take his word for it that he would not be taken alive. The two young men avoided the officers by hiding in a cellar for nine days, then they took advantage of a storm to reach the woods, then the mountains, then to the Ohio valley; the younger brother, John Walker, stopping in the western part of Ohio and the hero of our story coming to Dearborn county, where he resided for many years, improved a valuable farm and was blessed with a large, worthy and respectable family."


Daniel Lynn settled in the southern part of the township in 1793, and a son. Joel, was born on Laughery creek in 1799. Rachel Lynn, who married John Conaway, it is claimed, was the third white child born in the county. She was born in Washington township.

Daniel and William Conaway were among the earlier settlers, but afterwards moved farther up the creek. Benjamin Wilson and family came from Pennsylvania and settled in the township in 1805. He was married in 1792 and removed to Kentucky in 1795, then removed to Dearborn county in 1805. Ralph Smith and John Huribert and their families came from North Carolina to the township in 1813. They first settled at Lebanon, Ohio but after living there a few years removed to this township. Mr. Smith was the father of the late Wilkinson Smith, a well known citizen of the township who died a number of years ago.

One of the earlier pioneers was Major George Nichols. He died in Wilmington in 1833, in his ninety third year. He was born in Maryland, immigrated to Kentucky in 1791, and came to the county in 1808. He served his country during the Indian wars on the frontier during the campaign of the period from 1790 to 1795, and was also active during the War of 1812. George W. Lane wrote in 1876 that "Stephen Peters came to the county in 1798 with Ebenezer Foote. They first settled on the river bank just above Aurora. A freshet in the Ohio drove them back to higher ground, where they lived a few years and then settled on South Hogan in Washington township. Stephen Peters was the father of Joseph Peters, who lived and died on the land entered by his father, and the old homestead still belongs to the family."


Ira Wright came to the county from Cincinnati, where he had been living for seven years. He settled in Washington township in that year, purchasing a part of section 1. He lived with his family in a boat that he had floated down from Cincinnati, while he was building his house and clearing up a place to raise a crop. He was the father of Capt. Henry F. Wright, of Company D, Third Indiana Cavalry, who served in the Civil War, losing his life for his country.

Robert Walker, father of the late John P. Walker, came to the county in 1807, stopping at Lawrenceburg, where he married a daughter of William Cook, for years the jailer of the county. He settled on the hills of the township and his son, John P. Walker, lived and died on the same farm. James Lindsay moved to the township from Frankfort, Kentucky. coming down the Kentucky river in a pirogue, then up the Ohio to the mouth of Hogan, then up that stream to his farm. Here he established a tan yard and engaged in furnishing leather to the pioneers. He was the father of Enoch Lindsay, who lived on the old farm, and of Mrs. John Spidell.


The Smiths and Crumes were Methodists and their neighborhood erected a hewed log meeting house about 1818. This church stood on the site of the present Mt. Tabor church, where there have been religious services held ever since that first church was built. In the burying ground adjacent lie many of the bodies of these old pioneers now crumbled into dust. Among those buried in early days were George Smith in 1828, Joseph Smith in 1832 and Elizabeth Wheeler in 1828. Among those buried there were the families of the Flemings, Gulletts, Abbotts, Millers and Becketts.

Among the prominent families in the township who are well known are the Lifts. Servetus Tufts was one of the early school teachers and is said to have taught at a school house that once stood near the Trester graveyard. The Miller family is another of the well known families in the township. The present township trustee, Alvah G. Miller, is a descendant of the early pioneers by that name. Jacob Cooper, a former township trustee, has lived in the township for a number of years. Henry D. Tufts, one of the descendants of the pioneer family of that name, is one of the leading men of the township and a progressive, thrifty farmer who takes great pride in the business of the farm.

The farmers of Washingfon township have been good tillers of the soil and their lands have not grown poorer by cultivation; a ride over their fine roads and a view of their broad, fertile acres is a convincing proof that the soil is well cared for.

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