History of Columbia Township, Fayette County Indiana
From: History of Fayette County, Indiana
Her People, Industries and Institutions
By: Frederick Irving Barrows
B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1917


Columbia township, one of the five townships organized by the county commissioners on February 8, 1819, originally included all of its present limits, more than half of Jackson and all but the two northern tiers of sections of Orange township. Its limits as defined originally were as follows: "Beginning at the southeast corner of section 33 in township 13, range 13; thence west along the line dividing the Counties of Franklin and Fayette to the western boundary of the county of Fayette; thence north along said county line five miles; thence along a direct line east to the northwest corner of section 8, in township 13, range 12; thence east alone the line dividing sections 8 and 9 in township 13, range 13; thence south along the line dividing said sections 8 and 9, to the southwest corner of section 16, township and range last aforesaid; thence east to the line dividing the counties of Franklin and Fayette; thence south along the said line to the place of beginning."

When Jackson township was organized by the commissioners at their August. 1820, session it was made to embrace all that part of Columbia township east of White Water. Two years later, February 18, 1822. Orange township was organized by the commissioners, leaving Columbia township with its present limits.

All of the recent township falls within the Twelve mile Purchase of 1809, except a small portion of sections 18 and 7, in the northwestern part of the township. All of the seventeen sections and six fractional sections of land in the township lie in township 13, range 12.

The first land entries were recorded in 1811, eleven settlers having entered upon land during that year. A complete list of the land entries of the township, designated by sections, is as follows:

Section 7 (fractions) - Sold in 1817, 1830 and 1832 to S. Todd, William C. Drew, Thomas Hibbs and John G. Gray.

Section 8 - Sold in 1814 and 1817 to Benjamin McCarty, Samuel Logan, Samuel Newhouse and Cale Smith.

Section 9 - Sold in 1812 and 1814 to Benjamin McCarty, R. Marshall.

Section 10 - Soid in 1813 to John Knox, James Hamilton, James Newhouse and Christopher Ladd.

Section 11 - Sold in 1813 to W. S. Hand and Benjamin Sailor (one-half section.)

Section 14 - Sold in 1811 to Nicholas Reagen and William Eagen (one-half section.)

Section 15 - Sold in 1812, 1813, 1814 and 1815 to Morgan Vardiman, William Helms, William Conner and Benjamin Sailor.

Section 16 - Reserved for school purposes.

Section 17 - Sold in 1814, 1817, 1832-1835 to James Buchanan, Gale Hamilton, H. N. Burgoyne, W. C. Plummer and James Connell.

Section 18 - Sold in 1814 to Charles Hardy (fractional).

Section 19 - Sold in 1818 and 1820-1835 to Wilson Waddams, Charles Hardy, Benjamin F. Utter, James Connell, George Kium, John G. Gray, John Ronald, John Combs, H. N. Burgoyne and William Jacobs.

Section 20 - Sold in 1813. 1814 and 1832 to John Bridges, Elijah Stevens, Wilson Waddams.

Section 21 - Sold in 1814, 1829-1834 to James Wiley, Wilson Waddams, James Conwell, and Isaac Timpus.

Section 22 - Sold in 1811, 1813 and 1814 to Charles Scott. R. Russell, Reuben Conner and John Conner.

Section 23 - Sold in 1811, 1812 to William Helm, Gabriel Ginn.

Section 27 - Sold in 1811, 1813 1814, 1818, 1831 to John Grist, Allen Crisler, William Conner, William Wherrett.

Section 28 - Sold in 18911, 1812, 1816 to Moses Martin, Enoch Limpus and Elijah Allen.

Section 29 - Sold in 1813, 1816, 1831-1834 to Jonathan Gillam, Enoch Hills, Lewis Bishop, Cornelius Rinerson and Rinerd Rinerson.

Section 30 - Sold in 1815, 1832-1836 to Robert Glidwell Charles Stevens. Benjamin Tharpe, Job Waltz and James Conwell.

Section 31 - Sold in 1826-1836 to James Moore, Charles Melon, James Linville. Charles Morrow and S. Resum.

Section 32-Sold in 1832-1836 to Rinerd Rinerson, Moses Harrell, John J. Shaw. F. A. Conwell, James Wells, Jr.

Section 33 - Sold in 1811, 1818. 1814 and 1831 to Edward Webb, Enoch Limpus, Horatio Mason, James Conwell, Henry Vandalson, Hugh Reed and Isaac Thomas.

Section 34 - Sold in 1811, 1812 to Elijah Limpus, M. Huston, H. J. Byram, Hugh Reed and John Richardson.

One of the first things to be noticed in connection with the settlement of the township is that nearly all of the land entries made in 1811 were along the water courses. William Eagen is thought by many of the pioneers to have been the earliest settler in this township. With only a few exceptions, nearly all of the early settlers came from Kentucky. Among the number were William Helm. Edward Webb, John Conner,' Allen Crisler, Joshua Crigler, Vincent Cooper and Michael Hackleman. From Virginia came Abraham Bays, Charles Scott, Jonathan, David and James Newhouse. Isaac, Enoch, Levi, Elijah and Jonathan Limpus.

Philip and Horatio Mason, with their wives, settled on Garrison creek in 1819. They emigrated from Herkimer county, New York, in the spring Of 1816, going by sleigh to some point on the Allegheny river, thence to Cincinnati by raft and to the vicinity of Laurel by wagon.:.Samuel Jenks, a brother in law of Philip Mason, was a resident of that vicinity and with him Philip stopped and shared their cabin until January, 1817, when he removed to a cabin that stood near Garrison creek.

In 1819, Joshua Heizer, a native of Virginia and a soldier of the War of 1812, settled in the township, as also did Reuben Conner, from Kentucky.


During the early part of the century Judge Webb constructed what was considered to be the most substantial cabin of that day in that settlement. The cabin occupied a site on the fertile bottom land along White Water river, a situation commanding a beautiful view. It was of the second class of pioneer cabins, constructed of hewed logs, two stories high and the building being eighteen by twenty eight feet in size. On the north end of the building was a large chimney, constructed of stone of various sizes, built on the outside of the house. Two doors from without opened into the house, one on either side. Below on either side was a window, though of different sizes, and on the east side of the second door, were two half or garret windows. Within the house were three apartments, one above and two below, each floor being provided with one fireplace, large below and small on the second floor.

Just below Nulltown, and not far from the old graveyard, was the old blockhouse built by the settlement for the protection against the Indians during the War of 1812.


The industries during the early days were confined mostly to mills and distilleries. The first mill in the township is thought to have been a saw mill erected by Allen Crisper and which stood at the north end of the village of Alpine. Doctor Mason became the owner of the mill in 1816 and operated a flour mill in connection. A still house and a hemp mill were added. All four being operated under the general management of Colonel Crisper, until a change in the course of the river destroyed. the power and then all went out of use.

At a very early day a saw mill was built at Nulltown by Thomas Silvey. who sold it to Null brothers. After they became the owners they added a very small grist mill and then, after Crisler's mill went out of operation they built a large flouring and grist mill, which was not in operation many years, the canal and hydraulic destroying the power.

About 1844 a grist mill was built at Alpine by Thomas Crisler, James and John Limpus. in 1863 the mill was purchased by Thomas and A. N. Bruner, who operated the same for many years.

During the period of early settlement several men operated copper stills, among whom were William Helm, on Garrison creek, and John Conner. Wilson Waddams also operated a corn cracker in connection with his still.

A saw and grist mill was erected by H. N. Burgoyne about 1833 in section 19, on the south fork of Garrison's creek. The mill changed owners many times and finally Nathan Lewis and brother became the proprietors. After operating the mill about two years; they built a new saw mill.


The first school house built in the tonnship was near the Franklin church, just below Nulltown. erected in 1815. The first school teacher seems to have been Gabriel Ginn. A few years later a school was conducted in an old cabin about a mile southwest of Alpine by Mark Whitacre. Robert Helm and a lady by the name of Mum also taught in the same community. About 1821 a log school house was built one mile west of Alpine and among the first teachers were Daniel McIntyre and Dr. Philip Mason.

Probably the first school in the northern part of the township was held in the little log house that stood on the farm of Hinkson Halstead. John Ronald was the first teacher.


This little village of Columbia, located north of the center of Columbia township, has a history not uncommon to the other villages of the county. At one time it served well its purpose as a local commercial and trading center. The little hamlet was laid out on land belonging to Isaac Limpus and James Buchanan and was surveyed by Isaac Fowler, June 15, 1832. An addition was made to the original plat in 1849 by a man by the name of Martin.

The first man to build a house in the village was Isaac Limpus, and in it he conducted an inn. He was also the first postmaster, the postoffice having been established on February 16, 1833. For several years following he conducted a grocery and saloon. In 1835, John Hardly was granted a license as a merchant, a privilege which was renewed for several years. Later merchants were George Scott, David Smith and George Logan.

In 1843 the hamlet had two general. stores kept by George Scott and Horatio and John Hardly; one shoe shop and postoffice combined, by William Wherrett; one blacksmith shop, by Joseph Little: a general repair shop, by D. O. Darby; one nagon shop, by Louis Black. What was once a lively commercial center has long since fallen into decay, and at the present time the little hamlet consists of a Methodist church, one store conducted by Will Larmore, and a few houses.

It is doubtful if any postoffice in the county has been served by as many postmasters as has Columbia. Following is the list with their period of service: Isaac Limps, 1833-1837: William Whereat. 1837-1850: George W. Logan, 1850-1851; Caleb B. Clements. 1851-1852 Lafayette Mount, 1852-1854; Daniel O. Darby. 1854-January 9, 1861 (discontinued); John D. Darby, February 1. 1861 (re-establishes), to November 14, 1861; Benedict Hutchinson, 1861-1863; John W. Thomas. 1863-1864; George W. Tucker, 1864-1865; John I. Thomas. February 21, 1865-December 5, 1865; John S. Perrett, 1865-1866; George W. Tucker, 1866-1867; Benedict Hutchinson, 1867-1874; John Perin, 1874-1875: John H. Steered, 1875-1877; David S. Alenzo, 1877-1880: Samuel E. Perin, 1880-1883; Sarah Ronan, April 12, 1883-December 27, 1883; John Z. Perin. 1883-1900; Mrs. Mary Wiles 1900-1904, when the office was discontinued.

As Macaulay has depicted ancient Rome in all of its fullness, so has William H. Tate preserved for all generations a graphic description of the little village of Columbia as outlined in the folloning poem:

June fifteenth eighteen hundred and' thirty-two,
Ike Fowler, with his compass true,
Ran lines across and through.
Upon the lands then rather new.
Of Isaac rimpus and James Buchanan, too.

Ike Limps then quite young and stout,
Within the new town thus laid out.
Built the first house thereabout
And changed it to an inn throughout
To shelter travelers from the storms without.

On February sixteenth, eighteen hundred and thirty-three.
Was established there as to told to me.
A postoffice, which distributed free.
Such mail as might come to the community-
And Ike rimpus. postmaster was the first in this capacity.

With postoffice and grocery store.
Saloon and patrons by the score.
The trade of rumpus tore
And to the heavens seemed to soar:
For well he thrived that year and many more.

Sometime in eighteen hundred and thirty-five. John
Hardy, who was then alive.
Thought he'himself would like to thrive. And opened
up a store to drive
Ike Limpus from his hive.

Soon after Hardy cast here his lot.
The store of Limpus was quite forgot:
Then came another. known as George Scott.
Followed by Dave Smith and George Logan. I wot-
And all playing for the self-same pot.

In forty-three this town was young indeed.
With but two stores in it to meet the public need;
Yet business ran with rapid speed
Despite man's well known avarice and greed.
For there was nothing serious to impede.

In eighteen fifty came the terrible climax: It was
awful. and our brain it almost racks To think the
town would so soon wax And then get into trouble
and leave its tracks To run on switches and suddenly relax.

The old town hall condemned to use Still
stands, a model of excuse;
For social welfare plain abuse.
Like a game where planning's loose And the
ace W taken by the deuce.

In nineteen seventeen there is but one store
Kept open now by one Will Larmore;
This makes it seem like tines of yore
When Henry Crago swung his door To welcome
customers upon his floors.

No blood has stained the sacred soil In this
old town of ceaseless toil, No tropic heat
has risen up to boil. No arctic breezes are here to foil.
No wells are here to give us oil.

The hum of spindles can't be heard,
The only sound is song of bird;
The woodman's axe is seldom incurred
The rattle of cars has never occurred
To disturb our- people in, quiet interred.

The tight has well-been-fought
By men with greatness fraught
Who either doctored, preached or taught Or beat
out irons, or sold and bought, Though of this now
there's almost naught.

Columbia sets on a beautiful hill,
Has set there long and sets there still:
The store, church, school house and old grist-mill Could tell
a story, but they probably never will Because it is forgotten;
it is gone, it is nil.


Nulltown, a village of seventy eight people, is located in the northwestern part of Columbia township and is fiver miles south of the county seat. It is also another village that owes its origin to the mills erected during the period of early settlement. The village apparently was named in honor of the Null brothers, Israel and Michael, who became the owners of a saw mill built at this point at an early date and later the proprietors of a flouring and grist mill. A postoffice was established here, February 26, 1847, and called Ashland, later known as Null's Mills and finally designnated as Nulltown. James A. Conner was appointed the first postmaster and was succeeded by the following: William O'Neal, January 24, 1848-49; Caleb B. Clements. 1849-1851; Solomon Brown, 1851-1852: Oliver Griffin, 1852-1854: Solomon Brown, 1854-1855: Oliver G. McIlwain, 1855-1857 Nelson M. Smith, 1857-1858: Anthony J. Cavender, 1858-1861: Oliver H. Millspaugh, 1861 to May 4, 1864; (discontinued); Henry McIlwain. March 19. 1867 ( re-established ) to 1870: Samuel. Crago, 1870-1873: John Tilton. 1873-1874; Serepta King. 1874-1881: Jacob Faker, 1881-1884: Andrew J. Salyer. 1884. Among later postmasters were Edna Turner and Jacob Faker, the last incumbent of the office. The village and the community is now being- served by a rural route out of the county seat. Dora Faikert has the only store in the hamlet; Faker Brothers handle farming implements, coal and building supplies.


The village of Alpine. located in the eastern part of Columbia township, ones its origin to the mills erected there during the early settlement of the county. The first mill in the township was a saw mill erected about 1814 by Allen Crisler at the north end of the village. A postoffice was established February 24, 1868, with William T. Limpus as postmaster.

Alpine is a station on the Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis railroad, about seven miles south of Connersville and four miles north of laurel, the banking point for the village. The population is about sixty. E. A. Chance conducts a general store and is also postmaster. railroad and express agent. The industries include two saw mills, one operated by Sherwood Brothers and the other by Shuttleworth & Stone.

A postoffice was established here on February 24, 1868, and the following postmasters with their dates of service are herewith included: William T. Limpus 1868-1876: Edwin J. Thompson, 1876-1879: Jeptha D. Newhouse, 1874-1880: Euphrates T. Chance. 1880-1917.


Berlin was one of the villages which caine into existence as the result of the building of the canal. was laid:out by Dr. Philip. Mason, who was also the proprietor, and recorded October 29, 1838. It was a pretentious village - on paper - of seventy three lots and was located about half way between Nulltown and Alpine section 23. township 13, range 12), on the west side of the canal. It may be better defined to the present generation as being located at the crossing of the second road south of Nulltown and the river road." There was never much of a village at this point. The best evidence on the village gives it a shoe shop owned by Morgan T. Vardiman, a store belonging to S. Brown, a physician named John Turner and a few dwelling houses. As a trading center it could not compete with Nulltown to the north and Alpine to the south, and within a few years it ceased to have anything which might give it the right to he called a village. Apparently it was born only to die and can hardly be called a town at any stage of its brief career.

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