History of Washington 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 after the first president of the United States and is located in the northeastern part of the county. Originally covered with dense timber. the land today is very rough and broken. However. the soil is productive, especially in the bottom lands. White and Patoka rivers. Yellow, Engine, Pond, Goose, Sand branch and other tributaries afford excellent drainage. The township is bounded on the north by Pike county and White river, east by Pike county, south by Center and Patoka, and west by White river and township. Another descriptive location is by portions of township 1 south, range 9, township 1 south, range 10, and township 1 north, range 10.

The Decker brothers. Joseph. Jacob and Luke, first came to this township in 1800 and built a ferry across White river at a point where Buena Vista stood. In the May term. 1813, the Gibson county commissioners' court ordered a road opened from Decker's ferry to Severns' ferry on the Patoka river, this being the first one opened by this court.

One of the next settlers was Nathaniel West, also in 1800. Then came Abraham Decker from Kentucky, Robert Falls. W. G. Collins, Mrs. Betsey Milburn, Thomas Gardner of South Carolina, Thomas Sullivan of Ireland, John Stookey and John I. Neely. The first sermons in the township were preached by Joseph Milburn. a Baptist minister, and the first church was built on military donation No. 77, the building made of logs and without any floor. The first resident physician of Washington township was Dr. Joseph Davidson; Richard Garner was the first blacksmith. and the first justices, in order. were William Phillips. Jonathan Gulick. Robert Kirk and John Gulick. The first death was of a man named McCoy, who died on a keel boat. The first postoffice in the township was established at Buena Vista and was called "West Buena Vista." John Cunningham was postmaster. Other offices were located at Kirksville, later Wheeling, and one between Hazelton and Petersburg in Pike county. but all have been abandoned. John Claypool opened a store at Decker's ferry in 1816, and this was the first in the township.

Until 1824 the territory of what is now Washington township formed a part of White River township. In August of the latter year the board of county commissioners laid off the boundaries of Washington township and organized the same. Again, in 1837, the boundaries were enlarged by adding a part of White River township to it.

The manufacturing in this township has been very light. Lucian Dunning had a wagon factory in 1870, and there were several small mills, quarries and various trades.

The population of this township in 1910 was one thousand five hundred and forty six, it having lost, as it is found that in 1900 it had a population of one thousand nine hundred and four. There are no towns or villages in this township.

An amusing incident of early days here will be found in the following lines: "William Phillips was the township's first justice of the peace. Jack Chambers, a local preacher, had rendered service to the people of the township, as spiritual adviser, for which he was to have been paid in coon skins and other peltry, each subscriber agreeing to pay in so many skins. His parishioners, as he thought, were slow to pay him, and he brought suit before Esquire Phillips on his subscription list against all, and had service on each and every delinquent to appear and answer to the demands of the plaintiff, Jack Chambers. Pursuant to notice, court had convened, the parties, plaintiff and defendants were present, the plaintiff claiming satisfaction by means of judgment on his subscription paper, when one Mulholland, who was acting as agent or attorney for the defendants, walked into court loaded down with the stipulated furs and skins, and, to the surprise of the holy man, made tender of them in full satisfaction of the plaintiff's claims. The case ended in a general laugh, and pleasantness prevailed, all being satisfied with the practical joke."

There was a stone quarry near the Patoka river, where stone had been taken out and sent by flat boat down the river from Kirksville, now known as Wheeling. This place at one time was quite a business center. having a large flouring mill, stores, blacksmith shops, postoffice, etc. It is situated on section 19, on the northeast branch of the Patoka river. It was located too far from the Evansville & Terre Haute railroad to help it much, and so dose as to materially injure its chances for success. Its flouring mill was burned in time, and from its loss and railroad influences the town has gone to ruin and decay, nothing of note remaining to mark the spot where once much business was transacted.


This little, old hamlet is in the northern part of the township on the west bank of White river, on military donation land No. 2. It was platted in 1848 and prospered for six years. having four business houses that carried excellent stocks; two packing houses, one saw mill. a hotel, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, two doctors, one saloon. one church and one school house. When the railroad was built. Hazelton, a station on that line of railroad, drew the most of the business from it and left it to die for want of support. There its site stands on the sands of White river. Nothing of importance is there today.

This township is a triangular shaped, though rough edged, territory, the northeastern point of one of the most irregular counties in all Indiana.

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