History of Columbia Township, Gibson County, Indiana
From: History of Gibson County, Indiana
BY Gil R. Stormont
B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1914


At the September term, 1825, the Gibson county board of justices created Columbia township, and the first election was held on the October following.

This township is bounded on the north by the Patoka river, on the east be Pike county. south by Barton township and west by Center. Coal and stone are found in various quantities throughout this township. The land is rich and productive and is drained be the Patoka river and its tributaries. including Keg and Bear creeks. Bucks. Hurricane. South fork of the Patoka and Turkey creeks.


The early settlers of Columbia township subsisted largely on the game which was then plentiful in the surrounding forest. Bears were very numerous and many of them were killed.

John Farmer, a native of the Old Dominion. was one of the earliest settlers of the township. He was a farmer and had the distinction of introducing the first Durham cattle and Berkshire hogs into this locality. Philemon Dill, a Scotch-Irishman from Tennessee. came to this township in 1814 and his family is still prominent in Oakland City and vicinity. William Hopkins and family, John Wallace, James M. Steel, William J. Summers, William Nossett, James W. Cockrum, Samuel Baldwin, Jacob Skelton were others among the pioneers of this section.


Situated at the crossing of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois and the Southern Railroads, the town of Oakland City has grown to be the second town in the county, in size, commercial standards and importance. The present population is two thousand three hundred and seventy, and it is an incorporated town. the town haying been made such in 1885.

Jesse Houchins was one of the earliest known residents in this town, followed by many others whose families are yet identified with the interests of Oakland. The first steam grist mill was built in 1855 by a stock company, and cost eight thousand dollars. Jacob W. Hargrove and James W. Cockrum built the first store room. Cockrum and Warrick platted the town on January 15, 1856. and since then there have been many additions made. Solomon I larris had the first blacksmith shop, Franklin Rose the first wagon shop, these during the year 1857. The first person born in the present city limits was D. C. Barrett in 1827. W. M. Cockrum and J. W. Hargrove opened the first harness shop, also a shoe shop. N. C. Crister had the first furniture and cabinet shop. The Oakland cemetery was laid out in 1855 by James W. Cockrum. The first resident physician of Oakland was Dr. William R. Leister. The Independent of 1871 was the first newspaper. The first school house was constructed in 1860, and J. M. Henderson was the first teacher. Among the early manufactures which flourished and up to 1885, were the Columbia Mills. the agle Mills, barrel and stave heading factory, tile and brick works.

AS SEEN IN 1913.

The present officers of Oakland City are: Councilmen, Fred Schrentrup. Rudolph P. Smith, Elwood Burkhardt; clerk treasurer is Ed. Redman: and the marshal is Ellis Montgomery. The town owns a town hall. which was built in 1911 at a cost of $3,550. There are twelve men and one chief in the fire department, which is maintained by actual fire runs. There is one combination wagon in the equipment. The city owns its own water company. which is named the Oakland City Water Company, supplying the town from an artificial lake. The company organized in 1903, and the plant is worth $40,000. The Oakland City Electric Light and Power Company, incorporated, is valued at $32,000. Light is supplied about five hundred patrons, and thirty two street lights are kept. The city pays an annual sum of about two thousand dollars to the corporation.

The business interests of 1914 line up as follows: Saw mills, Downey, Coleman & Co., H. R. Crawford; flour mills, E. H. Baker. Butcher & McCord: attorneys, John M. Vandeveer, John Bilderback. Abraham Cole; doctors, R. S. Mason, G. C. Mason, J. W. McGowan. W. H. Ashby, W. H. Smith, W. L. Leister; dentists, J. E. Wood, J. W. McCord; drugs, R. M. Stormont, A. G. Troutman, O. B. Troutman, W. B. Osborne; groceries, A. Deutsch & Bros., G. W. Smith, R. P. Smith. E. O. Hedlin, T. F. Davis: variety stores, A. M. Fowler, O. L. Smith, P. H. Walker: department stores, S. V. Levi; dry goods, the When Company, O. A. Kelsey: clothing. Kell & Galligan; hardware. Creek & Heldt Co., Rays & Beardsley Co,. Butler Hardware Co., Charles J. Shurig; implement. A. H. McFarland; news stand, Ros coe Fanner; photographer. F. C. Benton; blacksmiths. Percy E. Slack, John Hamilton, Milburn Hubbard, John Randolph, Mont Campbell; livery. McCord & Co., P. H. Lamb & Son. George A. Vierlings garage. Oakland City Auto Co., Charles Reed, Mont Campbell; hotels, Redman Hotel, Cottage Hotel; lumber, Greer-Wilkinson branch; poultry, C. W. Jean Company, A. B. Stahl & Co.; restaurants; William Elwyn, William Martin, John Daily: confectionaries, Warrick Mason, Geise Brothers: veterinaries, Sylvester Hale: jeweler, M. O. Cockrum: wagon shops, R. N. Campbell: general stores, Massett & Murphy: meat markets, T. H. Lowrey, T. F. Davis. There is one paper; the Semi Weekly Journal.

The First National Bank was organized in 1889. and reorganized in 1909. The first officers were J. J. Murphy. president; J. F. VanZandt. vice president; W. L. West, cashier. The first capital was $25,000. The present officers are: W. L. West, president; L. J. Deutsch, vice president; Alvin Wilson, cashier. The capital is S50,000, the surplus. $6,000, and the deposits. $375,500.

The Columbia State Bank was organized in 1903. with a capital of $25,000. The first officers were John D. Kell. president: T. W. Skeavington, vice president; C. A. Simon, cashier. The present capital is the same, also the officers, with the exception of cashier, who is now W. T. Creek. The surplus is $9,000, and the deposits, $160,000. The bank building was erected in 1903, and cost $2,000.

While the Miscellaneous chapter speaks of the platting of this place, it is well here to refer to the fact that it was platted by James W. Cockrum and Warrick Hargrove, on part of the southwest and part of the southeast quarters of section 18, township 2, range 8. The streets and alleys are wide. This plat was filed of record January 15, 1856. It was originally known and recorded as Oakland on account of the beautiful grove of oaks which covered a portion of its site. But later it was changed to Oakland City, there being another Oakland postoffice in Indiana already.

Other chapters speak in detail of schools, churches and lodges, hence will not here be inserted, but suffice to say these are all well represented in this modern little city in the Kingdom of Gibson."

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