CITY OF PRINCETON.
Princeton is situated on an elevated ridge, ninety feet above low water mark in the Wabash river; is one hundred
and nineteen feet above the city of Evansville, and four hundred and eighty feet above the ocean's level. Topographically,
the city is handsome. The land is for the most part level and well adapted to building sites, without many excavations.
There are some portions of the place rather uneven. but in no true sense hilly. The drainage is excellent. It is
now an up to date city, with a beautiful public square, many fine modern business blocks, a good system of electric
lights and a good water works plant. It has been an incorporated place since 1818, and according to the census
returns of the United States in 1910 there were six thousand four hundred and forty eight inhabitants. The last
decade has seen a rapid growth here, owing to various conditions. but chiefly a true spirit of enterprise that
has been fostered by a younger, more active. progressive element among its worthy citizens. Its schools and churches
bespeak intelligence and correct manner of living. The reader is referred to the chapters on Education and Churches
for these elements, both of which have been characteristic of Princeton from early days to these opening years
of the twentieth century.
Princeton is not lmown for its manufacturing industries in recent years, but it exists more especially by reason
of the rich agricultural country surrounding it; by its railroad interests; its railroad shops; it being the county
seat; its solid banking institutions and retired men and women who have, many of them, resided here all their lives,
at least within Gibson county. The coal, gas and oil industries have of more recent years been of much financial
value to the city.
The reader's attention is now called to some of the interesting features of Princeton in former days, for, remember,
Princeton is one hundred years old, and this year (1914) is celebrating her centennial anniversary in a befitting
BEFORE THE LAYING OUT OF PRINCETON.
Long before the plat of Princeton was thought of, Pioneer James McClure deeded thirty acres of land to parties,
who finally donated ten acres including the present public square. This tract was given to be used as a "gathering
place" for the public, but after years went by, and Princeton was the seat of justice, it became the public
square. All this was done while this was a part of Knox county, territory of Indiana. The county seat of Knox county
was at Vincennes. William M. McClure, now a resident of Princeton, is a grandson of the James McClure who is above
mentioned as owning these lands in the present Princeton plat.
NAMING OF THE TOWN.
At the session of court held February 16, 1813, at the house of Henry Hopkins, the following action was recorded,
the name of the seat of justice having been hit upon by drawing of lots among the commissioners, Captain Prince
"The court took into consideration the propriety of establishing some suitable name for the seat of justice
for Gibson county; whereupon ordered that the seat of justice for Gibson county be hereafter known and designated
by the name and style of Princeton
"The court then went into the establishment of a plan for the town of Princeton.
"Whereupon the following plan was adopted, viz: The public square and seat of the public buildings is to be
laid off in the most suitable manner so as to include as near central as convenient, a certain stake to be set
up by the judges of the court; the said publick square is to be laid off eighteen poles square, making two acres
and four poles; the town, both in and out lots, to be laid off from the publick square in such a manner as to leave
each street in said town sixty feet wide, and the in lots to be laid in squares of eighteen poles each way; each
square to be divided into four equal squares, so as to make each in lot nine rods square containing one half acre
and one square rod each. The out lots to be laid off in such manner as may be thought most suitable by the agent
when the same comes to be surveyed.
"There shall be four streets laid out, two on each side of the range of lots on which the publick square lies,
extending from the north to the south side of the town plat, the said lots to be sold on the following terms, viz:
One third of the purchase money to be paid within six months from the day of sale, the balance in twelve months
from the day of sale, the same to commence on the 4th Monday of March next and continue three days, viz: from ten
o'clock in the forenoon until three o'clock in the afternoon of each day"
Capt. Thomas Chapman erected the first house around the square after the town was laid out. Mr. Chapman happened
here on a prospecting tour in the spring of 1814 and attended the sale of lots. Being pleased with the outlook,
he purchased the half acre lot on the corner south of the southeast corner of the public square and immediately
set to work to build a two story hewed log house, thirty six by twenty feet in size. This building was completed
and Mr. Chapman returned to Kentucky and brought on his family, arriving November 14, 1814, having occupied thirteen
days in making the trip. He moved into his house, established a hotel, boarding a portion of the hands that worked
on the first court house. He named his house the "Traveler's Inn," and continued in it till March, 1815,
when he sold to James Russell, who was one of the first licensed tavern keepers in Princeton.
The first storehouse was made of logs, two stories in height, and was situated on the corner west of the southwest
corner of the square. It was erected by Willis C. Osborn, who brought a small stock of general merchandise here
from Vincennes in the latter part of 1814 and was the first merchant of the place. He was associate judge from
October, 1814, till after the state was admitted in 1816. There had been some goods sold prior to this by a Frenchman
who kept a small assortment in the "Long Ornery." He was not here over three weeks and did not really
deserve the name of merchant. The "Long Ornery" consisted of a half dozen small cabins built very closely
together and stood on the tan yard branch near where later stood the Catholic church. The second store and third
building erected around the public square was situated on the corner west of the northwest corner of the square.
It was occupied by Jones & Moffitt, general merchants. The next business house was built by James W. Jones
and Robert Stockwell and stood on the corner south of the southwest part of the square. These buildings were all
built in 1814. Robert Stockwell was for many years the leading merchant of Princeton. He was a native of Pennsylvania.
In the winter of 1815 he purchased a general stock at Pittsburg, loaded it on flat boats and floated down the Ohio
river to where Evansville now stands. Here he loaded his goods on wagons, came to Princeton and, having formed
a partnership with Mr. Jones, opened a store in March of that year. After a few years Jones withdrew from the firm
and Stockwell continued alone until 1846, when Samuel Archer became his partner. A few years later he moved to
Lafayette, Indiana, where he died, aged ninety years. He was an active, enterprising citizen and during his long
and very successful business career at Princeton he accumulated a large fortune.
The postoffice was early established and John J. Neely, a prominent man in the county's early history, was the
first postmaster. It then cost twenty five cents a letter to get it from the postoffice. The fourth business house
was erected by John Arbuthnot in April, 1815. It was on the corner of Hart and Emerson streets. one block north
of the public square. Mr. Arbuthnot was a saddler and established the harness and saddlery business. which he followed
a number of years. He was postmaster twenty years and died in 1865, aged eighty two years. The next business house
was constructed of brick on the corner north of the northeast corner of the square. It was built by George W. Chapman
in 1815-16 and, with the exception of the first court house, it was Princeton's first brick building. Chapman was
a gun and silversmith. and followed his trade here about ten years. then removed to Missouri. This building was
undermined and caved in about the first of the eighties. Mr. Zimmerman, from the East, erected a one story brick
house. containing three rooms. in which he kept a general store in one room. In another room Chauncey Pierce, a
Yankee, manufactured combs, buttons, etc., and the third room was occupied by a saloon. Samuel Shannon built a
frame store room and dwelling near the center of the east side of the square. Mr. Shannon engaged in general merchandising,
pork packing, etc. He was also an extensive shipper, loaded great cargoes of pork and grain on the flat boats of
the Patoka river, and floating them down to the New Orleans markets, where he realized a good profit. In 1819 he
erected and operated a tannery, where the Air Line railroad depot later stood. In 1833 he sold to Alfred A. Poland
and moved to Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. He later made his home in Princeton and died here many years ago. The first
licensed taverns were kept by James Russell in the Chapman building and by Basil Brown on the corner where later
lived Dr. Kidd. Brown's Hotel was a large log house built V shaped, two stories high. with a large ball and dining
room attached. It was in its time a celebrated resort and the entertainment given at this favorite hostelry was
highly complimented by the traveling public. This house burned about 1830.
The next store was that of John Brownlee & Son, who began business in 1815-16. They also controlled a large
trade. After the death of George Brownlee, the business was continued by his son. John Brownlee, until he died,
April 17, 1855. His stand was in the center of the south side of the public square, in a low brick building. John
Brownlee was a very successful merchant and made much money. He erected, in 1817 or 1818. the Lagow House. In those
early days the merchants dealt in Peltry, furs, pork, grain and any commodity that was merchantable, handling but
little money in their business. Their goods were usually purchased in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. The trip was
frequently made on horseback, carrying their money in their saddle bags. Robert Milburn. Mr. Smith and Augustus
E. Sturges each had a hatter's shop in Princeton in 1816 and followed this business several years The first blacksmith
shop was started by Perkins Lyons and it stood opposite the old Donald House. Richard Iliff started a pottery in
1816. In 1816 there were seven hotels, or taverns as then called, in Princeton.
In 1817 Samuel Boicourt, a cabinet and chair maker, came in and he also made spinning wheels for the old settlers
of Gibson county. He was also a local Methodist preacher, justice of the peace, merchant and an intelligent, enterprising
character. A distillery was erected in 1817 by Sanford Grissim, which stood at the foot of Hall hill. It was a
small concern and only in operation about two years. On the hill west of the distillery. one Elliott had a small
powder mill for the manufacture of gunpowder. In 1819 six more taverns were added to the business interests of
Princeton. With the exception of Charles Harrington's place, these taverns, as then called. were nothing more than
we now term saloons, although their license allowed them to entertain travelers. Harrington's house stood on the
Devin corner, east of the southeast corner of the square. It was a large. two story frame building erected in 1818.
A deer painted on a circular sign hung in front of the door. This and Brown's Hotel were the leading public houses
for a number of years and both did an excellent business. It was about this time, or a little later, that the Vincennes
and Evansville stage line was established and Princeton became the "half way stand," and here the coaches
met every day at noon and the passengers took dinner; a fresh relay was had before starting out for the rest of
the journey. In busy seasons there were two stages a day. The New Harmony and Mt. Vernon line was started a few
days later. The stages carried the mails and brought the news from the outside world.
James, Alexander Lyle and Thomas J. Evans. brothers of Gen. Robert M. Evans, came to Gibson county in 1810 and
were among the early business factors of Princton. Alexander L. carried on the cooperage business here for several
years; moved to Evansville and died there in June, 1844. James Evans bought a farm lying southwest of the original
town and his house stood on what is now Broadway, in the western part of the city, where he resided until his death;
in 1832. In /818 he established and operated a wool carding machine, in a building on Main Cross street, one block
west of the square. The machine was propelled by tread power and the wool was carded into rolls. In 1827 Abraham
Lincoln (later President), residing with his parents in Spencer county, Indiana, came here on horseback with a
sack of wool to Mr. Evans' factory and had it carded. John N. Lockwood, then a boy, carded the wool for him. Lockwood,
in later years, was president of the National Bank of Mt. Vernon, Indiana. In 1824-25 William Jerauld and Goorge
Bucklin erected a frame cotton factory in the north part of town, in the neighborhood of where the first Catholic
church stood. It was an important industry, employing several hands, and continued in operation five years, when
it was burned and was never rebuilt. George N. Jerauld. son of pioneer Edward G., commenced general merchandising
in the spring of 1832, and was continuously in trade on the same lot until his death.
James Lesley had a distillery on his place a mile east of the court house, which was in operation from 1818 to
1823. He made large quantities of whisky and peach brandy. In 1825 the first steam grist and saw mill was erected,
by Robert Milburn, Nathaniel Foster and James Finney. A year or two after it was erected Titus Jessup put in a
wool carding machine. having bought an interest. He continued this until 1852. In 1829 a distilling apparatus was
attached by Robert Milburn and Samuel Hall, who, it is said, made an excellent grade of liquor. This old milling
plant passed through numerous hands and finally became the property of Lewis Kolb. After his death the old mill
was torn down and a residence was built on the lot. This is at present the residence of D. P. Bird. About 1828
Titus Jessup and James Howard built and operated a wool carding and cotton spinning factory one block west of the
old mill. This was burned after about two years.
Princeton had no railroad until the construction of the Evansville & Terre Haute, in the summer of 1851. After
the railroad era commenced the town took on new life and many new features in trade were added. With the passing
of the years, the beginning and ending of the great Civil war period, and on to the present date, Princeton has
had many dealers in numerous lines. It is not profitable to go far into the deail of these later features of the
city. The account of schools, churches and newspapers in this city are already included in other separate chapters
on such topics.
A postoffice was established at Princeton in 1816. It is now an office of the second class, and is housed within
a beautiful modern federal building, centrally located This postoffice building was completed in 1913 at an expense
of forty nine thousand five hundred dollars. Going out from this postoffice are seven rural delivery routes extending
to the country districts. The amount of deposits in the postal savings department of this office, in October, 1913,
was five thousand one hundred and thirty eight dollars. The business of the office, outside of money order transactions,
for the fiscal year ending July I, 1913, was thirteen thousand seven hundred and ninety eight dollars. At present
there are twenty one persons employed in handling the mails at Princeton, which included the postmaster, his deputy,
the city carriers, clerks, etc. There are now many mail trains per day in and out of the city, which give ample
The following is a complete list of Princeton postmasters since 1816, when the postoffice was established, as furnished
by the first assistant postmaster general at Washington, D. C.: John I. Neely, March 3, 1816; John Arbuthnot, February
24, 1830; Isaac Montgomery, July 23, 1841; John Arbuthnot. January 14, 1845; Anderson F. Ely, March 10, 1851; John
Arbuthnot, April 12, 1853; Thomas J. Arbuthnot, November 10, 1857; Silas W. Boswell, March 14, 1860; Charles A.
Slayback, May 8, 1861; Charles C. Hill. September 28, 1866; Drusilla Dorsey, March 12, 1867; Andrew T. Calkins.
April 9, 1877: Erastus R. Pinney, January 24, 1884; William H. Evans, September 17, 1885; Oliver M. Tichenor, January
9, 1890; Ollin M. Kolb, October 6, 1893; James H. Warnock, March 31, 1897; Arthur P. Twineham, December 19, 1905;
Henry Tichenor. April 13, 1910.
It should be added that for its "efficiency record" as a postoffice. the department at Washington selected
Princeton as the first office in Indiana in which to try out the new postal savings bank system. Hence it became
the first postal savings office in Indiana.
THE PRINCETON SANITARIUM.
The Princeton Sanitarium Company (incorporated), in 1906-07, erected one of the finest, best equipped hospitals
in all southern Indiana, at a cost of over thirty thousand dollars. It is centrally located in the city of Princeton,
and is built of hard brick, cement floors and steel girders throughout. The roof is of substantial tile. This hospital
was opened to the public in February, 1907, and conducted for several years, but on account of the death of one
of the proprietors and founders, Dr. Frank Blair, the institution was closed after a time. It was built and operated
by Drs. Frank Blair, A. L. Ziliak and R. S. Anderson, all local physicians and surgeons of Princeton. The institution
stands ready for use, having been well supplied with all the modern equipment and expensive up to date instruments,
etc., for carrying on successful hospital work. The field here is very large, there being no other hospital within
a wide radius, and is within a good city, surrounded by one of Indiana's best counties. It is sad to relate that
one of the founders, Dr. Frank Blair, was taken ill and was the first one to die in the institution on which he
had built up such high hopes. He was the son of Dr. W. W. Blair, who has practiced here since 1850.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY MOVEMENT IN PRINCETON.
By Thomas R. Paxton.
The opening of a free public library is a most important event in the history of any town.
An act of the Indiana Legislature, approved February 16, 1852, entitled, "An act to establish public libraries,"
provides that "the inhabitants of any city, town, village or neighborhood in this state, or any part of them,
whenever they have subscribed the sum of fifty dollars or upwards, towards the establishment of a public library,
may assemble themselves for the purpose of holding an election fcr directors."
On August 9, 1881, thirty six persons, all "inhabitants of the town of Princeton," met in the court room
for the purpose of establishing a library under this law. These persons, and seventeen others not present at the
meeting, had subscribed five hundred and thirty dollars. The directors elected were Adam J. Snoke, William. P.
Welborn, William G. Kidd, Clarence A. Buskirk, Samuel E. Munford, Samuel Warnock and Martin W. Fields. Officers
elected: Adam J. Snoke, president, and Martin W. Fields, secretary.
The name adopted was the Princeton Library Association. A statement of the proceedings at this meeting signed by
the secretary and sworn to before A. J. Wright, justice of the peace, was filed in the recorder's office August
11, 1881, and recorded in Miscellaneous Record, No. 1, page 200. This statement gives the names of those who attended
the meeting. Upon the recording of this document, the Princeton Library Association became a body corporate and
politic with all the usual powers of such bodies. Efforts were made to collect the remnants of the township library
established by William McClure, of New Harmony, by his will. Some books were donated, some purchased. The books
so obtained were assembled in the large back room This was the beginning. In this room meetings were held from
time to time, at which papers were read and addresses given by prominent citizens.
Later the library was moved to a second story room in the Lewis building on the southeast corner of the public
square. Under a law approved March 8, 1883, the board of trustees of the town levied a tax for the purchase of
books on condition that the library should be opened free to all the inhabitants of the town. Prior to this only
stockholders of the association, or those who paid an annual fee. could take out books. After Princeton became
a city the Legislature, in 1885, gave to the common council of the city the same power to levy a library tax the
trustees of the town had. The city levied the tax and the library was accumulating a nice lot of books, and substantial
progress had been made, when, on February 9, 1886, the Lewis block, then owned by William Jessup, was destroyed
by fire, and with it all the books, furniture and records of the Princeton Library Association. And, sad to relate,
there was no insurance on the books.
Nine days after the fire the board of directors met on call of the president to consider ways and means of re-establishing
the library. It was a crisis in the history of that institution. Experience had shown that to place a library upon
an enduring basis provision must he made for meeting the necessary expenses, such as light, heat. furniture, book
cases and salaries of librarian and janitor. The money received from taxation could be spent only for books. After
much consideration it was decided to ask for subscriptions sufficient to buy a lot and erect a two story building,
the first story to be rented and the second story to he used for library purposes.
And the way the people responded to this appeal for subscriptions is a bright page in the history of Princeton.
There were over one hundred subscriptions, ranging from five hundred to five dollars. and amounting to about five
thousand five hundred dollars: An excursion on the Ohio river was planned for July 22d. A committee of fourteen
ladies provided good things to eat and drink and sold them to the hungry and thirsty on the boat. This excursion
netted one hundred and fifty four dollars and seventy five cents.
On September 15th the property on the east side of the public square, owned and occupied for many years by J. V.
Hill, was purchased of Leon and Barrett for one thousand eight hundred dollars. A two story brick building was
erected thereon, which is still standing. On Thursday evening, March 17, 1887, a meeting was held in the large
court room to celebrate the completion of the building and the reopening of the library. A large audience assembled
and Hon. Clarence A. Buskirk delivered an address. It was a day of rejoicing and gladness.
In 1903 the library had outgrown this building. Besides, it was found that some other and better method of electing
the directors of the association was desirable. As the stock had no pecuniary value, and never would yield dividends
in money, the stockholders would not attend meetings to elect directors. At a meeting held March 24, 1903, the
holders of one hundred and forty one shares of stock were present and voted unanimously for a resolution authorizing
and directing the directors of the association to tender the ownership, custody and control of the library of said
association and to transfer and convey all property, both real and personal, of said association to a public library
board appointed for the city of Princeton under an act for the establishment of public libraries, approved March
Pursuant to this resolution, the tender was made and accepted by the common council. The members of the public
library board were appointed by the judge of the circuit court, the common council and the school board. The public
library board was organized July 20, 1903, and the officers of the Princeton Library Association by deed conveyed
all its property, real and personal, to the public library board.
Andrew Carnegie offered to give fifteen thousand dollars for a new building, provided a suitable lot was obtained
on which to erect the building, and that the common council should pass a resolution pledging the good faith of
the city that not less than fifteen hundred dollars a year should be provided for the maintenance of the library.
These, by the way, are the only conditions Mr. Carnegie makes in donating money for a library building. Mr. Carnegie's
offer was accepted. The lot, one hundred and forty eight and one half feet square, on the corner of Hart and Water
streets, was purchased for two thousand dollars, and the money to pay for it was contributed by citizens of Princeton.
The selection of this lot seems to have given general satisfaction. It is centrally located, and large enough to
provide for extension of the building in the future. The new building and equipment cost fifteen thousand one hundred
and eighteen dollars and sixty five cents and was completed and occupied in the spring of 1905. This is another
glorious page in the history of Princeton.
Prof. Adam J. Snoke was president of the Library Association from its organization to October, 1890, when he moved
to Seattle. In accepting his resignation, the board of directors adopted this resolution: "That in the resignation
of Prof. Adam J. Snoke the Princeton Library Association has lost one of its warmest friends and stanchest supporters;
because this library has grown in ten years from a handful of books and a few private stockholders to a public
library of nearly three thousand volumes, with a library building and furniture valued at eight thousand dollars,
and this magnificent success is more largely due to his untiring efforts in its behalf than to any other influence."
The next president was Samuel E. Munford. who was followed by Martin V. Witherspoon, whose term expired January
The librarians in the order of their succession have been Flora Miller, Anna Wright, Mayme Thurman, Julia Duncan
and Julia Mason.
The library now contains eleven thousand three hundred and twenty two volumes. They are classified according to
the Dewey system, which is in use in the congressional library and in most public libraries. Miss Mason has made
a complete card catalogue of the books therein. A card catalogue is indispensable in a large library and invaluable.
By its use the resources of the library on a given subject are quickly ascertained and found.
The librarian says that out of town visitors highly commend the excellence of the books in the library and the
judgment and wisdom shown in their selection. Much of the credit for this is due to Dr. William P. Welborn, who
was a director from the organization of the association until his death, and as a member of the committee on literature
he gave much care and attention to the books to be purchased The library contains a very full list upon the drama.
American history, biography, travels, essays and criticisms
The use of the library seems to be increasing. In February, a short month, two thousand seven books were taken
out. The number of cards now in use by the patrons is one thousand nine hundred and sixty nine.
Princeton may well be proud of its public library. ft will be noted that for twenty years before Mr. Carnegie
made his gift Princeton had by taxation and by gifts of its citizens maintained a library free to all its inhabitants.
That is why it is called the "Princeton Public Library," and not a "Carnegie Library." Under
the law of 1901, "the judge, common council or town board, and the board of school trustees, in making the
appointments shall select persons of well known probity, integrity, business ability and experience, and who are
fitted for the character of the work they are to perform, and who shall not be less than twenty five years of age
at the time of appointment, and shall serve without compensation for services."
A public library, like any other business or enterprise. depends largely on the management. In his address Mr.
Buskirk said: "The majority of our citizens all along have shown a sympathy with the library which has been
of the greatest assistance to the enterprise, and that sympathy with its purposes will be needed in the future
for it to accomplish the public good of which it is easily capable. Let us remember to help watch over and guard
The library seems now to be on a firm foundation and to be accomplishing purposes of a public library which were
so well expressed by Lowell: "The riches of scholarship. the benignities of literature defy fortune and outlive
calamity. They are beyond the reach of thief, or moth or rust. As they cannot be inherited, so they cannot he alienated.
But they may be shared, they may be distributed; and it is the object and office of a public library to perform
the beneficent functions."
EARLY INDUSTRIES OF PRINCETON.
Although Princeton of the present can boast of her coal mines, railroad shops, lumber mills, brick plants, and
various other important industries, the old town of today has nothing to boast of in the way of a variety of industries
as compared to the new town of a century ago. It will be of interest to briefly note some of these early industries
and the various ways the few inhabitants of early times found employment, even if in this brief notice there may
be a repetition of some industries mentioned elsewhere.
The first blacksmith shop in Princeton was located on what is now Main street, where the Kolb residence now stands.
Perkin Lyons was the proprietor.
In 1816 Andrew Culbertson had a harness shop and Richard Hill a pottery in Princeton.
In 1817 Rev. Samuel Boicourt was giving the greater part, if not all, of his time to his cabinet shop, where he
also made spinning wheels, a household necessity of early days. When he was not busy at something else, Boicourt
was justice of the peace and dealt out justice in quantities to suit.
As early as 1816 there was a hatter industry in Princeton. It was conducted by Robert Milburn, Augustus Sturges
and a Mr. Smith.
At the foot of Hall's hill there was a small distillery in 1817-18, operated by Sanford Grissim. A short distance
west of the distillery was located Elliott's gunpowder mill. If the product of Grissim's mill was anything like
that of the "moonshine" mills of the present time the deadly effect of the gunpowder manufactured by
Elliott would be mild in comparison. Anyhow, it seems, that the demand for the product of Elliott's mill was small
and his enterprise was abandoned after a short time.
A cooper shop was carried on for several years by Alexander Evans. James Evans built a wool carding mill on a lot
one square west of the court house, on what is now Broadway. in 1818. It was operated by a horse treadmill. This
was one of the big industries of that time. as people came from all the counties around with their wool to have
it carded into rolls. Among those who came with sacks of wool was Abraham Lincoln. then a youth living at his home
in Spencer county. This visit was in 1827. some thirty years before Lincoln began to attract public attention.
As he did not get his wool carding done in time to make the long journey to his home that day. Lincoln remained
over night in Princeton. staying at the home of Mr. Evans on west Broadway. At that time Robert Stockwell had a
store on the corner where the public drug store now is. and had his name in gilt letters on a sign over the door.
This. among other things. attracted the attention of the Spencer county youth, whose opportunities for seeing the
sights in a town of the proportions of Princeton at that time had been limited. Years afterward, when Lincoln was
President. he was visited by Robert Stockwell, then living in Lafayette. On being introduced Lincoln said. "0
yes. I remember the name as the one I saw in Princeton on a gilt lettered sign on the occasion of my visit there.
It was the first gilt lettered sign I had seen and it attracted my attention."
The cotton factory of William Jerauld and George Bucklin was built in 1824. near the corner of what is now Prince
and Walnut streets. It was operated for about five years when it was destroyed by fire and was never rebuilt.
James Leslie had a distillery about one mile east of the court house. from 1818 to 1823, where he manufactured
whiskey and a good article of peach brandy, as is stated by those who are competent to judge.
In 1826 Robert Milburn. Nathaniel Foster and James Pinney erected the first steam grist and saw mill on the lot
now the corner of Hart and Water streets. A year or two later Titus Jessup bought into the firm and added a wool
carding machine, which continued until 1852. A distilling equipment had also been added in 1829 by Robert Milburn
and Samuel Hall, so that this institution was prepared to meet the wants of the community. however varied they
might be. In later years the various side lines mentioned were eliminated and the mill was devoted entirely to
the furnishing of flour and meal to their customers and, this being the only steam mill in the country for miles
around, it enjoyed a good patronage. Two water mills, one at Patoka, or Columbia as it was called then, and the
other at Wheeling (Kirk's), had been supplying the needs of the people in the way of lumber and corn meal for some
time prior to this and continued to do so until the later fifties. The mill at Patoka is still doing business at
the old stand, having a modern equipment, using both steam and water power, but Kirk's mill went into decline as
Patoka river became less dependable as a source of water power.
A wool carding and cotton spinning factory was built in 1828 by Titus Jessup and James Howard, on the ground where
the west school building now stands. This building was destroyed by fire about 1830. It was afterward rebuilt by
popular subscription, but for some reason was not used for the original purpose, Several years later a company
composed of Robert Skinner, John J. Dimick, James Maxam, William Kurtz and some other citizens occupied the building
as a furniture factory, and developed an extensive business in this line, Furniture of all kinds was manufactured
here and shipped to dealers in all the towns in this part of the state, including Evansville. This was before Evansville,
now one of the largest furniture manufacturing cities in the state, had a single factory of this kind. In 1860
Robert Skinner's interest in this company was purchased by other members of the firm and his connection with the
business ceased, and the firm became known as the Dimick, Maxam & Co, One windy night, in the early part of
1861, one of the most spectacular fires that Princeton had ever witnessed was the burning of this old factory building,
And that was the finish of that industry at that place.
In 1857 William Jessup bought the old Evans wool carding factory on Broadway, where, with new machinery and equipment,
he manufactured all kinds of woolen goods, yarns, etc. This was a very important industry in Princeton for several
years, but this building was destroyed by fire, August 16, 1883, and was not rebuilt, And this was the last of
the woolen industry for Princeton.
Another of the early industries of Princeton that have passed away is the pork packing and shipping business. Joseph
Devin and Alexander Devin, two of Princeton's leading merchants, had large packing houses and did an extensive
business for many years. The pork was loaded in flatboats and sent down the river to New Orleans.
THE GREAT FIRE OF 1893,
That a great fire would some time occur in the city of Princeton was often predicted before the disastrous day
of July 12, 1893, Prevention and care had been urged, but it remained to the flames themselves to teach the needed
At two thirty o'clock on the afternoon of the above mentioned date fire was first seen in the roof of the building
occupied by the millinery store of Mrs, E. D. Walker, By the time the alarm was turned in the whole roof was ablaze,
and the flames were threatening the row of frame buildings adjoining. The wind was from the southwest, which favored
the rapid spread of the fire. A hand engine was brought into play, but the small stream helped little against the
mass of flame. Dr. Kidd's brick corner caught next, and it was then realized by the people that the fire was beyond
their control, and so every effort was turned to the keeping of the fire within the block. The Gibson house caught,
then Mrs, Ohler's place, then the Smith & Lucas building, and within an hour every structure in the block west
of the square was afire. The flames then leaped across State street and caught in the frame building of Agar brothers.
It was not long before every building in this block was afire, and the destruction still spreading, Across Hart
street the fire traveled, catching the Charles Brownlee building, and Mrs. Baker's frame adjoining, Mr. Shannon's
residence, and Jerauld's warehouse. The Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian churches in this block both burned
to the ground. Henry Soller's house on North Main street caught fire from the flying cinders, also T. R. Paxton's
Meanwhile a hurried call had been sent to Evansville for assistance, and at four o'clock a section of the Evansville
fire department arrived via railroad, the train having made the run of thirty miles in twenty seven minutes. The
newcomers succeeded in checking the fire at the Air-line railroad tracks, but the damage had been done. Four blocks
had been consumed, and a fourth of the business houses of the city.
To one standing on Dr. Kidd's corner, where the Kidd hotel now stands, there was nothing but remnants of blackened
and crumbling brick walls and blasted shade trees as far as the eye could reach. From Dr. Kidd's house, in which
was the Farmers Bank, Sam Kidd's brick office adjoining, all the row of buildings facing on Broadway to the old
wigwam building were burned, Crossing the street to the block between Hart and West streets, the fire made a clean
sweep except the brick office of H. A. Yeager and L. C. Embree, The block contained the dry goods houses of W.
D, Downey & Company, and Dimick, Lewis & Company; the groceries of W. C. Daly, C. E. Mossman and Awenius
& Downey; the furniture and china stores of Smith & Lucas, and the hardware store of Mulford & Cox,
Across State street the next block lying immediately north was a complete wreck, Snapp & Tichenor's carriage
shop, Mrs. Turner's buildings, Agar brothers, Baber's hotel, Ward buildings and the Methodist church were all in
ashes. At Emmerson street there was a break in the fire, and Dr. West's and Devin's residences were saved, In the
block between Main and Hart, north of the court house, many structures were destroyed.
The estimated loss incurred in the fire was five hundred thousand dollars, with insurance covering only half the
Another fire, causing a loss of ten thousand dollars, occurred in April, 1897, when dry goods stores, groceries
and a meat market were consumed,
MUNICIPAL HISTORY OF THE CITY.
Princeton is a city of the fifth class - below ten thousand five hundred population. It was in March, 1818,
when five trustees were elected, William Harrington, John Neely, David Hart, Samuel Bolcourt and John Brownlee,
It run on then until 1884, when it was incorporated as a city, when the following officers were elected: Mayor,
John W. Ewing; clerk, George A. Spitzer; treasurer, William L, Evans: city attorney, Thomas R. Paxton; councilmen,
Henry Soller, W. L. Smith, Reuben Emmerson, W. E. Kendle, J. J. Hartin, H. L. Wallace. The assessor was William
G. Wright; marshal, James W, Lewis; street commissioner, Fred Bahne,
The list of men who have served as mayors since the organization of the city follows: John W, Ewing, 1884-6; Levin
W. Gudgel, 1886-8 James B, Gamble, 1888-1890; Henry Soller, 1890-2; James B. Gamble, 1892-4; Henry P. Chambers,
1894-8; Charles W, White, 1898-02; Arthur P, Twineham, 1902-1906; Robert A. Cushman, 1906-10; David A. Davison,
The present city officers of Princeton are: Dorris R. Head, mayor; Earl Miller, clerk; Milton Cushman, treasurer;
T. J. Mullen, McDonald Watson, Daniel Davis, C. F. Rumer, Frank N. Harris and G. W. Strickland, councilmen.
The Princeton Water and Lighting Company was granted a franchise on November 9, 1891, and is a private corporation.
They supply 139 fire hydrants, charging city for same $5,462.50 per year,
The Princeton Light and Power Company is a private corporation and was granted a franchise in 1893. They have 89
arc lights, 30 incandescents, and draw $6,000 a year from the city.
One combination wagon and eight men constitute the fire department of Princeton,
There are three and one quarter miles of paving in the city. Three years ago the two principal streets were paved
by the city, all work before being at the expense of property owners.
BANKING IN PRINCETON.
The first banking institution in the county was at Princeton, and the concern was known as the Princeton Banking
Company, organized in 1869, with $35,000 capital stock, It was a private bank, and continued as such until 1872,
when its name was changed to Gibson County National Bank, and as such was conducted until November. 1874, when
it failed, The officers were Caleb Trippet, president, and R. M. J. Miller, cashier.
The People's National Bank, of Princeton, was organized August. 1874 by William P. Welborn, William L. Evans, Oscar
M. Welborn, William W. Blair and James Montgomery, who were first directors. The original capital stock was $50,000,
which has been increased to $100,000. It has a present surplus of $60,000, with undivided profits of $20,000. In
October, 1913, there was on deposit in this bank $450,000, The first officers in this well known banking house
were: William L. Evans, president: William L. Dorsey, cashier. At this date the officers are: Thomas R, Paxton,
president; Oscar M, Welborn, vice president: Stuart T, Fisher, cashier: Clarence M. Lawrence, assistant cashier:
Alfred M. Johnson, assistant cashier.
It should be said that this bank was originally known as the People's Bank, organized April 3, 1873, under the
banking laws of Indiana, with $50,000 capital, with the same officers above named, but August 5, 1874, it became
a national bank, receiving its charter for twenty years, and was extended another term to August, 1914. The present
bank building was erected in 1892, at a cost of $15,000, including fixtures, but it is carried on the books at
$100,000, though really worth more than that amount.
The American National Bank was organized in 1906, with a capital of $100,000, same as it carries today. Its present
surplus is $5,000: present amount on deposit, $235,000. In 1910 this bank consolidated with the Citizens Bank,
which had been running a number of years prior to that date. The first officers of the American National Bank were:
Joseph McCarty, president; Joseph Carithers, vice president; John W. Yochum, cashier; Harvey Milburn, assistant
cashier. The officers in 1913 were: Joseph Carithers, president; James H. Warnock, vice president; John W. Yochum,
cashier; Harvey Milburn, assistant cashier, This institution does an extensive general banking business, under
the national banking laws, and its officers and directors have the confidence of the entire community. Their bank
building is valued at $15,000, and is modern throughout.
In 1889 the Farmers' State Bank, No. 40, was organized, with W. D. Downey, Dr. S. H. Shoptaugh, Joseph Heston.
Jasper N. Davidson, R. N. Parrett, Arthur P. Twineham, principal stockholders and directors. The capital stock
of the organization was $50,000, and the officers were W. D. Downey, president; R. N. Parrett, vice president;
Samuel Hargrove, cashier. July 1. 1909, this organization was changed to a national bank, under the name of the
Farmers' National Bank, of Princeton, charter No, 9,463, and the capital stock was increased to $100,000, the same
as at present, The present surplus is $19,994.80; amount of deposits, 1914, is $340,086, The present officers are:
Samuel Heston, president; Will Blair and Jasper N. Davidson, vice presidents; Frank Harris, cashier; R. N. Chappel
and Walter P. Anthony, assistant cashiers,
This banking concern owns its own building, which stands on the corner of Broadway and Hart streets. It was erected
in 1893-94, at a cost of $30,000. The first bank building burned in the big fire of 1893, the same being located
in Kidd block. After the fire the bank moved to the rear of Wade's jewelry store, then located on the south side
of the Square; this was all accomplished with but the loss of one day after the fire. They remained there until
their present fine quarters were finished,
The Citizens Trust and Savings Bank, of Princeton, is the only institution of its kind in Gibson county. It was
organized January 24, 1904, and its first officers were as follows: W. L. West, president; R. C. McGinnis. secretary
and treasurer; Alexander Emmerson, assistant secretary and treasurer. The first capital stock was $50,000, same
as at present; the present surplus is $8,200; present deposits, $168,733.38. The building occupied by this bank
was erected in 1904, and all the appointments are up to date and first class. No other similar institution was
ever chartered in Gibson county. Its present - 1913 - officers are: George W. Shopbell, president; Forman E. Knowles,
vice-president; Andrew E. Lewis. secretary and treasurer.