Union is the last civil township to be formed in Gibson county. Until 1890 it was a part of Johnson and Patoka
townships. but at the commissioners' meeting in May, 1890. the separation took place, and since then it has been
a separate sub division of the county. For a detailed description of the act forming this township, with its boundaries,
the reader is referred to the chapter on Counts' Government. in this volume.
Its history from the pioneer settlement to the year 1890 has been treated and fully covered in the township history
of Johnson township, hence will not here be gone over, at any length. Suffice to say that it contains about fifty
one sections, with the town of Fort Branch about in its geographical center. It is surrounded by the townships
of Johnson, Montgomery, Patoka, Center and Barton.
In 1900 Union township had a population of two thousand one hundred and forty nine and in the census taken in 1910
it showed a population of two thousand five hundred and seven.
Its surface is somewhat broken, but contains the average number of excellent farms and prosperous agriculturists.
The valleys are rich and very productive and the native timber is still found sufficient for all present needs.
The schools and churches in this portion of Gibson county have already been noted under separate chapter heads.
The only town within the territory is Fort Branch, a place of more than ordinary early historic interest. This
shows that the first settlement in this part of Gibson county was effected in what is now Union township, and its
details have been narrated somewhat in the history of that township, which contained a portion of Union.
Seven and a half miles south of Princeton is located the town of Fort Branch. The railroad was put through in
1852, and since that time the growth of the place has been steady. The town originally, when the railroad was built,
was named LaGrange, in honor of Aaron LaGrange, who owned the land. The postoffice was moved from Little York,
which had been a mile north. As there was another town of that name in the state, the name was afterward changed
to Fort Branch, after the fort built during the Indian troubles.
Among the early merchants were James Strain, T. M. Strain and Charles Harrington, The first school house was built
Fort Branch was built in 1811 and was constructed within an enclosure or stockade, located across a small branch
in order to obtain a water supply furnished by Pigeon creek, a little north of the present town, on an eminence.
the highest point for miles around, The site of this old fort is now under cultivation.
The stockade was built of split logs. set upright in the ground, and the blockhouse was made of logs two stories
in height, There were port holes in both stories and this enabled the pioneers to shoot in any direction at the
enemy. Two blockhouses, each thirty by forty feet in size, were situated on the line at opposite sides of the stockade,
A few weeks after the fort was finished and ready for any emergency, a rumor got out that the Indians were going
to attack the settlement. Residents of the neighborhood gathered their families and sought safety in the fort,
The Indians failed to show up, and it is not on record that the fort was ever used as a defense against the intruders,
When Fort Branch was laid out it was partly in Patoka township, A half mile south of the village L. T. Mead and
Littleton Lowe formed a partnership, erected a building and started a general store, the object being to start
a town in opposition to Fort Branch, but the undertaking was a dismal failure, The first preaching in Fort Branch
was done by Rev. T. M. Strain.
In 1913 Fort Branch had about one thousand two hundred inhabitants. The community was incorporated as a town in
May, 1902. The present officers are: Trustees. Clarence Sides, Charles Scales and Henry Hickrod; the clerk and
treasurer is Frank Homan, and the marshal is John Peck,
The business interests of 1913 are below listed: Restaurants, Henry Slinger, O. Ramsey; barbers. McKinney &
English, Simmons & Brokaw; tin shop, W, I. Stone: general stores, George T. Ford, A. Rodeman, E. Richey; J.
L. Bryant, J. V. Delong & Son: hardware and implements, J, M, McCarty, F. P. Lawton. W. L. Woods: restaurant,
Henry Lowe: veterinary, V. B. Reynolds; jeweler, J. A. Carson: lumber, branch of the Greer-Wilkinson firm: foundries,
Lintz Brothers: meat market, Peter Emge & Sons: job printer, J. F. Hoffman; furniture, W. L, Mellinger. S,
T. Wheeler & Son: grain, A. Waller, Fort Branch Milling Company: hotel, Joseph Bird: harness, L. W. Woods,
J. M. McCarty; blacksmiths. Wright & Weeks. R. H. Bidlemann. J. J. Stone, Stephen Lockwood: bakery, L. Herr:
drugs, C. B, Runcie. W. G. Gram; dray, Roy Wallace; poultry and eggs. Toops & Company. W. G. Hopkins, W, F.
Morris, H. L. Bass and W, W. French are the physicians, and B. G. Cox, the dentist. The newspaper is the Fort Branch
The water supply of Fort Branch is obtained from excellent artesian wells, Electric lights arc furnished by the
Electric Light Company of Fort Branch, an organization incorporated in September. 1913. A well equipped mill is
maintained by the Fort Branch Milling Company, and they have one of the first concrete wheat storage vats of this
part of the state. A short distance from Fort Branch is the coal mine operated by the Fort Branch Coal Mining Company,
The mine gives employment to about fifty men, and coal is shipped to various points of the country. The coal is
bituminous. The fire department of the town is made up of volunteers.
The Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Fort Branch was started as a private banking concern in 1896, was
incorporated as a state bank in 1900 and chartered as a national bank in 1908, The first officers were W. L. West,
J, A. West and S. H. West, holding the respective offices of president. vice president and cashier, The first capital
was $9,000. The present officers are: S. H. West, president: Gerhard Sollman, vice president: Herman C. Graper,
cashier. The bank now has a capital of $25,000; surplus of $10,000, and deposits in September. 1913. of $160,000.
It built its own banking building in 1900.
The First National Bank of Fort Branch was organized March 18, 1908, with the following as officers: W. G. Stiefel,
president: Charles B. Runcie, vice president: L. S. Bryant. cashier; Miss Nellie Clark, assistant cashier. The
first capital was $25,000: the same capital is carried today, and the present surplus is $1,650, with deposits
amounting to S85,000, A good bank building was erected in 1909. The officers in 1914 were: W. G. Stiefel, president;
Walter S. Hoffman, vice president; L. S. Bryant. cashier; John Vickery, assistant cashier.