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


The life of the early pioneer, now that the softening caress of time has been placed there, has been set in scenes of romance and dramatic interest. The tales of privations, of battles, of sacrifices in the struggle to build a home, are becoming a bit of folklore, and have become traditional epics, to us the same as the Saga to the Norseman, the tales of Siegfried to the German, or even as our own Anglo-Saxon fathers. The American pioneer, wherever he traveled, met primal conditions, and with primitive implements he coped with them. The magnificent forest dwindled before his axe and was superseded by golden rows of grain. Heroic in combat, as he was gentle in his home, the settler is monumental. Simple, religious, family loving and sturdy, the present generation thus holds him in memory and ennobles him.

Patoka township was organized at the first session of the common pleas court, held at the house of Judge William Harrington, on May 10, 1813, the house being located in the southwest quarter of section 11, township 2, range 11, a mile and a half southwest of the present court house. Since that time, however, the boundaries of the township have been repeatedly changed. It is now bounded on the north by White river and Washington townships, east by Center and Barton, south by Union, and west by Montgomery. The land is drained by the Patoka river and its tributaries in the north, Snake run and Pigeon creek in the southeast, and Central and Muddy creek in the south. Originally the surface of Patoka township was thickly covered with timber, but this has been nearly all cleared off and the land made into rich and productive farms. The surface is for the most part undulating. but in the north and east portions, and approaching the stream, the ground becomes very rugged and knobby.

Two miles north of Princeton is Bald hill, which rises to an elevation of one hundred and thirty feet above the town and two hundred and twenty feet above the Wabash river. Mound Builders are probably responsible for the rounded top, as there are other evidences of this prehistoric race in this part of the state. Considerable bottom land ranges through the western part of the township, and Sand ridge passes through the southwestern part. This land is very valuable for agriculture.


With the opening of the nineteenth century settlements began to be made in Gibson county. John Severn had settled near the south bank of the Patoka river, at Severn' bridge even before the opening of the century. He was undoubtedly the first man to live in Gibson county. In 1798 John Johnson, a native of Virginia, came to this county in 1802, by way of Kentucky, accompanied by his family. The old soldier, Capt. William Hargrove, was the next settler of any note. He was a native of North Carolina and emigrated to this section in the year 1803. He was afterward an officer in the battle of Tippecanoe. In 1805 James McClure and his brother in law, Isaac Montgomery, came to this county. The person of Gen. Robert M. Evans is one of the most prominent of early Gibson history. He was born in Virginia. He came to the county in 1811, and immediately afterward joined Harrison's army and participated in the campaign against the Indians, including the battles of Tippecanoe and the Thames. He afterward filled many important official positions in this county. His brothers, James. Alexander Lyle and Thomas Jefferson, moved here in 1810. James Wheeler, William Latham, William Harrington, Robert Archer, Capt. Henry Hopkins, Joseph Woods. Daniel Putnam, Rev. Alexander Devin, a Baptist minister, John Braselton, Stephen Strickland, John Clements, Eli Strain, Chauncey Pierce, John C. Fisher, William Barker were others among the early settlers, and many of them lived to distinction in the growing community.

Tecumseh's conspiracy created a great amount of excitement in the county during the time of his depredations. In the summer of 1810 the Indian forces were being organized at the Prophet's town, and the settlers were on edge, prepared to fight the hostiles at a moment's notice. Rude forts or stockades were constructed, three of them in Patoka township, Fort Branch, Fort Hopkins, and one at William Harrington's, on the old McCurdy place.

In November, 1811, Joshua Embree came from Kentucky. The Stormonts and other prominent families arrived in 1812. Mrs. Nancy Stormont, widow of David Stormont, who emigrated from Ireland, and settled in South Carolina before the Revolution, came to this county wtih her mother, Mrs. Mary Boyd, and a large family. They located about two and one half miles northwest of Princeton. James Kirkman came in 1813. Other leading families afterward came, and the township has seen a steady growth ever since.

The first schools were taught about 1810 in small log cabins. Adley Donald, David Buck, Maj. James Smith, Ira Bostwick and John Kell were a few of the earliest teachers.

The city of Princeton is in this township and forms the subject of a special chapter.

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