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


This township was named for the Montgomery family, who were pioneers of the locality and one of the most prominent families of the early days. The real history of the township begins before the organization of the county, when the settlers were just beginning to lead their wagon trains through the trackless wilderness and to find homes. Montgomery township was settled early by these heroic travelers. This township is the largest in the county and one of the largest and best in the state of Indiana. It lies in the southwestern part of the county, bounded on the north by White river township and the Wabash river, east by Patoka township, south by Johnson and Posey counties, and west by Posey county and Wabash township.

The soil of Montgomery township is about two thirds up land and one third low land, the richer soil being made of calcaro alluvial loam, of high productive power. There are four or five small lakes located in the northwestern part of the township, emptying into the Wabash river. The principal streams besides the Wabash, are Indian creek, Black river, Martin's branch, Obion creek and Maumee creek.


The identity of the first white settler in this township is not known for certain. Thomas Montgomery, however, was one of the earliest arrivals here, coming from Kentucky, building a cabin near Black river, and lodging his family therein. In the same year, 1805, Jesse Kimball also came up from Kentucky in search of new fields for his merchandising trade. He later owned a water mill in this township. In 1806 Thomas Sharp, William and Luke Wiley came to within a short distance of Owensville. Mathias and Smith Mounts came about this time, then Jacob Warrick, John Benson, Thomas Waters, George and Thomas Sharp, Robert McGary, John Roberts, John Armstrong of North Carolina, Jesse Emerson, Andrew Gudgel, James Knowles, Elisha Marvel. Samuel Barr, Thomas Sharp, Joshua Nichols, William Leach and Thomas Stone.

These pioneers cultivated Indian corn in small patches, relying at first mostly on the game of the surrounding forest The red man was hostile and they were compelled to be ever on guard. Old Red Banks, of Henderson, Kentucky, was the nearest location of a grist mill where they could get their corn ground, and their supply of salt came from the saline wells in southern Illinois, to which place a trip was usually made once each year, and they paid two dollars and five cents per bushel for the salt. In 1811, when the Indian' trouble appeared at its worst, a stockade was built on Thomas Montgomery's place south of Owensville, and here the families gathered for protection. After the battle of Tippecanoe the soldiers returned and took up their various pursuits. About 1812 other settlers began to pour into the township, among them being Charles Jones, Sr., James Fitzgerald. Roland B. Richards, Alfred Richards, Samuel Blythe. Absalom Boren, William Rutledge and the Simpsons. The first family of Maucks came in 1821, and Samuel Kirkpatrick in 1821 also.

Montgomery township milling was mostly done by horse mills. Jesse Kimball, James Montgomery, Thomas Johnson and Jacob Mowry were owners of some of these early mills. Distilling whiskey was another favorite occupation of the farmer. John Hunter was the first blacksmith; the earliest resident physician was Charles Fullerton, and soon after came Willis Smith. The first school was taught by Joseph Dunlap in 1808. John Wasson, Robert Frazier, Major James Smith, William McCollum and John Simpson were others of the first pedagogues.


The town of Owensville is situated on the Mt. Vernon branch of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad, and is eleven miles southwest of the city of Princeton. The town was originally laid out by Philip Brisco. of Kentucky, and he named it after Thomas Owens of that state. Willis Alsop kept the first store in this town, keeping general goods. including whiskey.

On October 4, 1881, the town was incorporated and the first board of trustees was composed of James Montgomery, Hiram Westfall and James A. Robinson. L. P. Hobgood was the clerk and J. F. Bird the treasurer.

Before it be forever lost from the records of the county, let it be stated here that the beginning and early development of Owensville was about as follows: For a few years prior to the platting of the town. Willis Alsop, who lived in a log house, kept for sale a small stock of goods, such as groceries, whiskey, dry goods, etc., and may well be known as the pioneer merchant, though indeed a small business was transacted by him. John McFadden built a log store on Main street, a half block from the square to the north. There he put on sale a fairly good stock of general merchandise. He continued in trade ten years, then moved to Missouri, where he was called from his house and shot. The leading early business was transacted by John C. Warrick. son of Capt. Jacob C. Warrick. He began business as a merchant about 1820. He dealt on a large scale, buying much produce and shipped immense quantities of grain and other commodities. His store stood on the southeast corner of the public square. It was a one story frame building. Warrick amassed a large fortune, as counted those days. He erected a large warehouse on the Wabash river, where his grain and pork was stored during the winter, and when navigation opened up in the springtime they were loaded on great flat boats (such as Lincoln used to work on) and floated down the great rivers to the sea. He was also the first postmaster and held many large interests in Owensville. In 1838 he finished a steam saw mill to which he added a flouring mill with three run of buhrs. He urged other business men to locate there and was a genuine hustler. At his death, in 1847, he was carrying on the largest business of any one man in Gibson county. He left no heirs.

Between 1845 and 1850 other merchants came in. At one date Owensville boasted of her woolen mills in which a large business was conducted.

Coming down to the morning of June 29, 1876, the whole solid front of store buildings on the east side of the square was swept away by fire, causing a loss of forty thousand dollars. The structures were all frame, save the one above named as being on the corner. Several fine brick buildings were later erected on lots where part of these buildings stood.

Thirteen hundred and fifty people now compose the town of Owensville, the third largest in the county. The town has had a rapid growth and ranks high among towns of similar size in this portion of the state. The officers at present are: Grant Ted, A. W. Thompson and F. A. Strehl,Trustees; Charles N. Emerson, clerk; E. H. Summers, treasurer, and Sylvester Selby, marshal. A town hall was built in 1911 and cost three thousand four hundred and twenty five dollars There is at present about one thousand five hundred dollars in the city treasury.

Water is supplied the town by the Owensville Water, Light, Power and Heat Company. An ordinance was granted the National Company of South Bend on February 7, 1912, and on the 15th another ordinance was passed issuing bonds to the total of ten thousand dollars for the purpose of buying one hundred and ninety seven shares of stock in this same company. The Owensville Light Company is a private concern, owned and operated by James A Walker. This company was installed in 1905 by an Evansville corporation, then became the firm of Smith & Walker. and now is owned exclusively by Walker. A Metallic Batten Company has just been organized in Owensville and is capitalized at ten thousand dollars.

The business interests of 1913 are as follows: Drugs, H. L. Strickland; tailor, Fred Johnson; furniture. W. F. Short; jeweler, J. N. Hurst; blacksmith, F. M. Thompson; baker, N. O. Basford; insurance and real estate. Frank W. Boren; plumbing and heating, S. A. Parker; contractor, Rufus T. Murnahan; poultry. Strupe & Fravel; garage. John G. Embree; meat market, Kight & Boren: hardware, Marvel & Montgomery; meats, Schmittler & Murphy; department store. Abe Massey; livery. John Montgomery; Thompson Hardware Company; wagons. J. W. Ray; lumber. Shepler & Grimwood; restaurant, S. J. Knowles: barber, H. R. Kennett; department store, George R. Welborn; groceries, Wetter & Harris. Arthur Emerson; hotels. Owensville Hotel, L. P. Hobgood, Central Hotel, Mrs. Della Phillips; stock dealers, John Montgomery. Massey & Mauck. The physicians in Owensville are G. B. Beresford, J. N. Williams. K. S. Strickland. T. L. Lockhart, M. A. Montgomery, James R. Montgomery, J. D. Emerson, Otto Bixler, and Dr. Brumfield are the. dentists. The town of Owensville has two papers. the Owensville Star-Echo, a weekly, and The Messenger. a religious paper.

The Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad through Owensville was built in 1879. The first train over this road was run in September. 1879, and was a combination passenger and freight. a passenger excursion, run free of charge to all Montgomery township rseidents who wished to go to Princeton. The line extends between Fort Branch and Mt. Vernon and at present runs four trains a day.

Montgomery township is one of the finest in Indiana. There is very rich land for agriculture throughout. and the value is greatly enhanced by the long stretches of hard packed rock roads, about thirty miles of macadam, which lead into Owensville.

The First National Bank of Owensville was organized on May 17, 1900, and chartered the same year. The first officers were: C. B. Smith, president; L. F. Weldon. vice president; Alex. Emerson. cashier. The first and present capital stock is $25,000. The surplus now is $25,000 and the deposits $120,000. The present officers are the same as the first. with the exception of cashier, now Charles N. Emerson. The bank building was erected in 1900, and cost $4,000.

The Owensville Banking Company was organized on May 14, 1900, and chartered also in that year. The first officers were: R. P. McGinnis, president; Grant Teel, cashier. The present officers are: George T. Keneipp, president; John WI Emerson, vice president; Grant Teel, cashier. The first and present capital stock is $28,000; the surplus is $26,500, and the deposits $100,000. The bank building cost $3,500 and was erected in 1889.

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