History of Sugar Creek Township, Hancock County, Indiana (Part 1)
From: History of Hancock County, Indiana
Its People, Industries and Institutions
By: George J. Richman, B. L.
Wm. Mitchell Printong Co.
Greenfield, Indiana 1916


Sugar Creek township is six miles square and is located in the southwest corner of the county. It was laid out as one of the three original townships on April 7, 18.28, and included the entire western portion of the county. Various changes have been made in its boundary lines, all of which may be followed by referring to the chapter on county government.

Twelve sections, or a strip two miles wide off of the western side of the civil township, lie in congressional township 15 north, range 5 east; the remaining portion of the civil township, consisting of twenty four sections, lies in congressional township 15 north, range 6 east.

The township is drained principally by Sugar creek, which enters the township just west of the northeast corner thereof, and flows in a southwesterly direction, crossing its southern boundary just below New Palestine. Little Sugar creek crosses the extreme southeast corner and Buck creek flows through the northwestern part of the township. Several large open drains have been constructed, all of which flow into one or other of the above mentioned creeks. With the exception of a narrow strip bordering Sugar creek, the township is level or gently rolling. The soil is fertile and the township is admirably adapted to heavy farming.

The first land entry was made by George Worthington, who entered about two hundred and forty acres, including the present site of Philadelphia and the land lying to the north and west thereof. The first entry in the southern part of the township was made by Jacob Murnan, who located just below New Palestine in 1823. Among the family names that are still familiar in the county are the following, taken from the tract book showing who entered land in Sugar Creek township: Arthur Carr, John Eastes, William Sanders, August Langenberger, Thomas Schreiber, Anton Wishmeier, Reuben Barnard, Owen Griffith, Robert Carr, Henry Hawk, Christopher Black. Abraham Hudson, Ludwick Richmann, Michael Murnan, William McCance, Rachel Collyer, Gerret Snodgrass, Henry Wright, Quiller Shockley, Darius Cunningham, Jacob Murnan, Robert Snodgrass, Matthius Luse, Samuel P. Seward, Charles Fish, Albert Lange, Jacob Schramm, John C. W, Racener, Jacob Huff, George Worthington, William Pierson, Ovid Pierson, Morris Pierson, John Dance, Hervey Bates, Jonathan Dunbar, Amos Dickerson, Henry Racener, Jonathan Evans, James Hinchman, Joseph Conner, William Murnan, Samuel Cones, George Leachman, John Pawner, George Lipscomb, Jacob Jones, Micajah Martin, John Hager, Henry Steinmire, Henry Ruschaupt, Andrew Fink, Henry Fink, George Hickman, William Black, James Parker, David McNamee, James P. Wilson, John Delaney, Andrew McGahey, Peter Pellus, Wellington Collyer, John Ashcroft, John Snodgrass, Jr., Joseph Cones, Samuel Shockley, Benjamin Snodgrass, Henry Brandenburg.

The Brookville state road was constructed through what is now the southern part of the township before the county was organized. In 1835 the National road was constructed across the northern part of it. These two roads caused the first people to locate in the northern and southern parts of the township, and of course, the first business houses, including the groceries, taverns, etc., were located along them. James Parker and Peter N. Newland, and, later, J. Ross and Hugh Kelly, opened taverns along the National road. John Delaney operated a tavern along the Brookville state road many years before the Civil War, on the site of the William Nichols homestead, or where Henry Lantz now lives, about one mile west of New Palestine. It is said that Mrs. Delaney was known as a good cook for many miles along the old state road.

Amos Dickerson, John Delaney and Jonathan Evans opened small groceries along the Brookville road in 1831, 1833 and 1838, respectively. John Eastes opened, a little grocery along the National road in the western part of the township in 1832, and in 1838 Atherton & Avery established the first grocery within the present site of Philadelphia. In 1838 the first towns were also platted - Philadelphia on April 8, 1838, by Charles Atherton, and New Palestine on October 1, 1838, by Jonathan Evans.

A number of mills were also established along the creeks and in other parts of the township. Among them are:

Grist and saw mill, erected on Sugar creek by Stephen Bellus, about 1828, two miles north. of New Palestine, This mill stood near the north end of what is known as the Pitcher farm. It was later owned by Amos Dickerson, Myron Brown, Uriah Emmons, George Kingery and Lewis Burk. It stood until about 1872. A saw mill was erected by Black & Brother, on Sugar creek, one mile south of Philadelphia. This mill was operated until about the close of the Civil War, or possibly a few years later. A saw mill was establishedin 1850 by James Smith on Little Sugar creek, about forty rods east of the west line of the west half of the southwest quarter of section 34, township 15, range 6, immediately east of the present residence of Ralph G. Logan. A saw mill was erected on Sugar creek by Lewis Burk, about 1850, or possibly a little later. It stood one half mile north and one half mile east of New Palestine. It was later owned by David Ulrey, John Kingery, Henry Ashcraft, James Boyce and James Murnan. The interest of all these persons in and to the mill and the mill race was purchased by John M. Pitcher during the latter eighties. The amount of water in the creek was becoming too small during the dry seasons to be relied upon for power and Mr. Pitcher placed his threshing engine in the mill and operated the mill with steam power until in the early nineties. He delighted in running the mill at evenings; lanterns were hung about the place and the saw could be heard until nine and ten o'clock at night. It became a very attractive place to the children of the neighborhood, who congregated there to play or watch the men at their work. Just a few rods northwest of the mill was a very fine spring. Mr. Pitcher excavated at this spring and put in a layer of cement. From the cement an iron pipe about two inches in diameter was brought up, and the water from the spring came up the pipe. The spring was visited by numbers of people who came into that community. It has been covered since the mill has been abandoned.

A saw mill, erected in 1850 by Kelly & Brother, one mile west of Philadelphia, was operated for a number of years, and one erected by James B. Conover in 1856, a short distance west of Sugar creek on the National road, was operated about three years. A saw mill erected by Matthews & Reed about 1856, stood in the north central part of the township and was operated about five years. A grist and saw mill was erected by Thomas Tuttle in 1857, on his farm about two miles southwest of New Palestine in the vicinity of Swamp school house.

A saw mill, erected by Gemmer & Vogel about 1850, stood about one half mile northeast of New Palestine in what is now the barn yard on the Anton F. G. Richman farm. The Gemmer farm and mill were later taken over by Thomas D. Walpole. Other owners were Charles Wright and John M. Pitcher. William Gordon finally bought the mill and removed it. A grist mill was erected at New Palestine in 1856 by Henry Gates and William Ball. Later owners of the mill were Scott & Davis, Joseph Conner, Charles F. Richman, Adam T. Hogle, Benjamin F. Wilson, Elbert Helms, Hayden Pierson, William. T. Eaton and Fralich & Waltz. The mill burned about 1886, while owned by B. F. Wilson, but was rebuilt. The present owner is John Waltz. A grist mill, built about 1882 or 1883, at Philadelphia, by a man named Mints, was operated six or eight years, and a grain elevator, built at Philadelphia by Hudson Smith and others about 1883, was operated six or eight years.

A saw mill, erected at Philadelphia during the seventies by Rufus Black, was operated for ten or fifteen years. A saw mill, erected at Gem in 1871, by the Stutsmans, burned in 1879, but was rebuilt and operated until 1902. Chris Fink, the last owner of the mill, sold it to James Webb, who removed it to a point northeast of Maxwell. A saw mill was erected at New Palestine in 1878, by Fred Gessler. The mill was operated a number of years by Mr. Gessler, when George Waters bought it and ran it until four or five years ago. A grist mill was erected at Philadelphia about 1882 by some Henry county parties, who operated it for several years.

A planing mill and bent wood factory was erected at New Palestine by Drake Brothers about 1889. It was purchased a few years later and very much enlarged by James Madison, who now owns and operates it.

At present there are two mills in the township - the planing mill owned by James Madison and the grist mill owned by John Waltz, both at New Palestine. About ten years ago a grain elevator was built at Gem, which has been operated for several years by Fred Thomas.


John E. Baity established a tan yard on the McNamee farm just south of school No. 4, in 1845. In 1847 Alexander Ogle built a small tannery near Philadelphia. Early in the fifties Thomas Swift operated a small tannery at New Palestine.


The first tile factory in the township was built by Jacob Schramm, at the northwest corner of section 18, township 15, range 6, about 1863. It first manufactured what were known as horseshoe tile, which were open on one side. After four or five years Mr. Schramm began the manufacture of flat bottomed tile. Work was suspended at the factory during the seventies.

William Roesner established a tile factory on the south side of the National road, just west of Gem, about 1865. It was bought by Fred Wicker in 1875, but resold to Roesner in 1882, who operated it until seven or eight years ago.

Shellhouse, Spurry & Armstrong built a factory on the south side of the Brookville road, one mile east of New Palestine. in 1869. Benjamin F. Freeman, Edward P. Scott, William Reasoner and others had an interest in this factory at different times. No tile has been manufactured there since about 1882-3.

Anton F. G. Richman established a brick yard in 1880 on the north side of the railroad and on the west side of the road just one half mile east of the overhead bridge at New Palestine.


With the establishment of the towns of New Palestine and Philadelphia, blacksmith shops were located there. Reuben Barnard, father of Ex-County Treasurer William C. Barnard, however, built a shop in 1832 on his farm on the county line, about one mile east of the southwest corner of the county.


The first school houses in the township were pole cabins, covered with clapboards and supplied with "cat and clay" chimneys and puncheon floors. They were not public buildings, but were constructed by the citizens as they settled in different sections. One of these school houses was located on the north side of the National road just east of Philadelphia. Another was located in section 5 on the south side of the National road, where the National road crosses the east line of that section. It was known as the Brown school house. About 1890 this school was moved one half mile west and located on the north side of the National road. In 1902 it was moved to Gem, where the building now stands, between the National road and the railroad, in section 6.

Another building was located in the east central part of section 8, possibly forty rods west of the east line of section 8. It was known as the Mills school. The McNamee school was located in the southeast corner of section 7. The Morford school, which has since become known as the Caraway school, was located in the southeast corner of section 16, "Number 6," as the school has long been known, was located in the southeast corner of section 28. It has been known as the Brandenburg school and as the Gates school. Near the center of section 26, township 15, range 5, was located the Hickman school, or, as it has since been known, the Tuttle school, and Swamp school house. The first school at New Palestine was located in the northeast part of town, in the back part of what is still known as the "old school yard," on which Huber's blacksmith shop is now located.

All of these houses were built on the same plan. Some of them had two, others had three windows. The lights were eight by eight. The door was so low that a large man had to stoop to enter.

Some of the first teachers in the township were George Robinson, Daniel Valentine, Richard Lindsey, Reuben Barnard and Eliza Barnard. The names of the later teachers will be. found in the list of teachers given in another chapter.

About 1853-4 several families came from Cincinnati and settled in the neighborhood of the Hickman school. They seemed to be progressive and at once set about soliciting donations from the patrons of the school for a more modern school house. They succeeded in getting enough subscriptions to erect a frame building. This was the first frame school house in Sugar Creek township, and the first school was held therein in 1855. An interesting little incident occurred in this connection: Among the citizens of the neighborhood was a mulatto named Lafe Cambridge; he had subscribed and paid his money toward the construction of the building. When he sent his children, however, objections were raised becaused they were colored and the children were not permitted to attend.

About ten years after the building of this house the township paid each individual for his interest in the school and the house became the property of the township. For many years the Tuttle school bore the reputation of being one of the best and most advanced schools in the township. One Daniel Ransdall taught the school many years ago. He was afterward elected clerk of the city of Indianapolis and since that time has served as clerk of Marion county. From 1889 to 1893 he was the marshal of the district of Columbia, and since then has served as sergeant at arms of the United States Senate. Not much progress was made under the system of township management in vogue prior to 1859. In that year Robert P. Brown was elected as first township trustee of Sugar Creek township and school affairs took a change for the better.

An agitation was started about that time for a new building at New Palestine. Different citizens advocated its location in sections 29, 30, 31 and 32. Some of these points were three fourths of a mile from New Palestine. The new law, however, required that the school house should be built where it would accommodate the majority of the children of the school district. The new township trustee, with the advice and direction of the state superintendent, built the old frame house that is now known as the "old school house." For a number of years past it has been used by Mr. Huber for storing machinery. It was built in 1860. In the east end of the building was a township room, where the township trustee transacted his business and where elections were held. A number of citizens also made arrangements with the township trustee to build a second story, which was to be used for different purposes. Dances and exhibitions were held there, and during the Civil War it became known as "Union Hall." It was here that Thomas C. Tuttle's company of "Anderson Guards" was organized.

In 1866 the number of school children of the district became so large that more room was necessary and the township trustee bought the interest of each stockholder and converted the hall into two school rooms. The house was then used for school purposes until the spring of 1884, when the brick building, which is still in use, was constructed.

An agitation was begun for a new building, however, long before 1884.

Some of the articles that appeared in the local papers are interesting for the spirit and the conditions they reflect. Among the local items sent by the New Palestine correspondent to the Hancock Democrat, appears the following, published February 12, 1874:

"Mr. E. P. Scott, our efficient and gentlemanly trustee, is discussing the propriety of building a new school house that will be an honor to this place. If the school funds for that purpose are not sufficient the citizens propose to donate liberally."

In this connection it is interesting to observe the peculiar twist that politics are able to give anything that may have been said. During the following summer Mr. Stott became a candidate for reelection. On August 13 he felt called upon to issue the following statement for publication in the Hancock Democrat to set himself right before the people of his township:

"Editor Democrat: - I wish to announce through your paper, to the Democracy of Sugar Creek township and citizens generally, that the person who gave notice through the Greenfield News of last week that I intended, 'if reelected township trustee, to build a ten thousand dollar school house for New Palestine corporation, out of the township fund, did so falsely and without foundation; and I particularly request such person to represent the truth, if nothing more. This was done to belie me and, if possible, to insure my defeat. I sincerely ask a candid review of my past official conduct, then judge for the future. I am, etc.,

On January 6, 1876, someone interested in the school situation at New Palestine sent the following letter to the Hancock Democrat for publication:

"Mr. Editor: - Having become tired of waiting for someone to agitate the question of erecting a new school house in our town, if you will be so kind as to allow me a small space in your very excellent paper, I propose to make a few remarks regarding it. In the first place, the present building does not afford sufficient room. It will accommodate but one hundred and twenty five pupils comfortably. There are one hundred and ninety seven enumerated in the district and one hundred and seventy six enrolled in school. This leaves fifty seven pupils to be crammed in after the manner of loading hogs in cars. Only one room. is fit for school purposes.

"In point of wealth the district is above the average, and the citizens ought to possess sufficient energy to aid the trustee to provide a respectable school house. Can they celebrate the centennial year in a better way? Citizens, are you ready? Are you educated up to the point that will enable you to appreciate the advantages a new school house will bring you? I have not room to enumerate them, but they are many. Trustee, are you ready for the crowning act of your administration? Perhaps you will be condemned, but certainly not by the intelligent class. Let us be up with the spirit of the times.

On February 28, 1878, the following paragraph again appeared among the items from the correspondent at New Palestine:

"There is much said (and more thought)' of erecting a commodious school building. Look out, McCordsville, Fortville and Charlottesville! When the time comes for our old shell to come down we'll have the best house in the county outside of the county seat. The house we have is considered dangerous and it is so crowded that many children are kept at home by sickness engendered in its badly ventilated chambers. Our citizens are able, and they are unanimously willing to build. If we had room and comfort we could enroll over two hundred scholars. In fact, this is the place to establish a full fledged high school."

On May 20, 1880, the New Palestine correspondent hopefully wrote, "A new school house is being wanted and will be built sometime in the future." That the agitation was not without results appears from the following paragraph taken from the Fortville items in the Hancock Democrat, on February 3, 1881: "Mr. Barnard, trustee of Sugar Creek township, inspected our school building today. He expects to erect one in New Palestine next summer."
Mr. Barnard did advertise for bids for the construction of a school house in August, 1881. A dispute, however, arose among the patrons as to its location. Some wanted it north of town, others west of town; others felt that it ought to be located within the town. Being unable to satisfy the patrons, Mr. Barnard dropped the matter. But this did not allay the agitation. Shortly thereafter the following appeared among the local items from New Palestine: "The citizens of New Palestine are somewhat exercised about the school house question, which we hope will finally be settled for the good of all. As it is necessary to have something done in this direction, we hope, for the good of the cause, that sober second thought will prevail over those who wish to rule or ruin."
In 1884 the new building came. It was erected jointly by the town of New Palestine and Sugar Creek township. The school board of New Palestine was composed of Christian H. Kirkhoff, Ernst H. Faut and William A. Wood. Sylvester Wagoner was the township trustee. R. P. Daggett, of Indianapolis, was employed as architect and the contract was awarded to Levi Pearson for five thousand and seventy dollars. The school town of New Palestine issued bonds to the amount of two thousand and five hundred dollars, which were sold to raise funds for the construction of the building. These bonds were finally taken by Gustav and August Schramm. Because of current statements that they would never be paid and that the purchasers would be losers, the Schramm brothers at first refused to accept them. To satisfy the Schramms, the school board and others gave their personal promissory notes as collateral security for the bonds. They were paid before they became due.

Elaborate exercises were held, both at the laying of the cornerstone of the building and at its dedication. The history of the laying of the. cornerstone is contained in a short poem, written by William Parish, which was published at the time in the Hancock Democrat. Mr. Parish was then a youth, probably in the advanced grades of the schools. Since that time he has been the editor of the local paper at New Palestine, and now resides at Louisville, Ky. Following is the poem:

The sun shone down with radiant heat,
As the people came to see the feat;
This feat of which I am going to speak
Took place in the town of Sugar Creek.

Speeches and prayer were said, but was no dome,
'Twas only the laying of the corner stone.
Some spoke of bygone days in tales,
How they used to roll logs and thresh with flails.

They spoke of children now and children then,
What is now and what might have been;
Of the old log house and puncheon seats,
And windows of greased paper sheets.

They laid down the stone with many a thought,
Yet not thinking just how they were brought.
In other generations, when razed to the ground,
How the people will wonder when the articles are handed around!

First in the box the history was laid down,
Then the cards of the business men in town;
And some coins of different worth
Were dropped in with little mirth.

Then came Mr. Pearson, a mason by trade,
And the box with brick was nicely overlaid.
In future years when we're under the grass
Other generations will know what came to pass.

What we do and what we are,
And back many generations just how far;
Also of our school systems old and new,
And they can tell their children how we used to do.

The Board came out in full array;
They thought 'twould be a glorious day.
The speakers great and speakers small,
They each had a word for us all.
In thoughts I know I'm not alone
On the laying of the corner stone.

On the evening of November 22, 1884, the new house was dedicated. The building was lighted with Chinese lanterns from top to bottom. It was thrown open to visitors at 6:30, and was soon crowded to the utmost. There were speakers upstairs and downstairs. State Superintendent Holcombe was present, as were also County Superintendents Dobbins, of Shelby county, and Harlan, of Marion county. Superintendent R. A. Smith and Ex-County Superintendent John H. Binford, of Hancock county, both made addresses. Ballard's orchestra furnished the music for the occasion. A feature of the exercises of the evening was the presentation to the school of a large blue silk banner, inscribed with the words, "Education is the Life of Liberty." This banner was presented by E. H. Faut and remained in the school for years afterward.

In 1895 some of the early dreams were realized when a systematic high school course was established. Frank Larrabee began the work and was followed by George J. Richman, 1900-1903; Elmer Andrews, 1903-12; Kirby Payne, 1912-13; W. W. Winn, 1913-16. A three years course was maintained in the school until 1908, when a fourth year was added, and the school was certified under the new system adopted by the state. During the trusteeship of Van B. Cones a heating plant was installed and an addition was built to the house to accommodate the growing number of pupils. The addition was constructed by Charles F. Richman. The taxation for the support of the joint school was becoming veryburdensome to the town of New Palestine, and when the addition to the building had to be constructed, the school board was abolished and the township again took full charge of the school. The high school received its first commission at a meeting of the state board of education, in February, 1916.

Two men stand out prominently in the history of the New Palestine school. During the seventies the school had a very had reputation for discipline, etc. A number of teachers had been unsuccessful, when William A. Wood appeared upon the scene. He was a small man physically, vet he possessed the disciplinary ability necessary to "straighten out" the school. Mr. Wood remained in the school for twelve years or more, and during the latter seventies and eighties stood as one of the first teachers in the county. Elmer Andrews took charge of the high school in 1903, and remained principal of the school for a period of nine successive years. During his services the school was certified and was placed upon a firm foundation, from which, in all probability, it will never be shaken.

It is also worthy of record that Charles Ballard has been the janitor of this school for just about a quarter of a century.


Sugar Creek township has a population of 1,673, as shown by the United States census report of 1910. In the spring of 1915, 425 children between the ages of six and twenty one years were enumerated in the township. Two hundred and ninety three pupils were enrolled in the schools during the winter of 1914-15. Of these, 40 were in the high school and 253 in the elementary grades. The total cost of maintaining the elementary schools for the year 1914-15 was $6,940; the high sch00l, $2,396. The teachers were paid for the year, $6,170. The estimated value of all school property is $25,000, as reported by the township trustee on August I, 1915. The total assessment of taxables in the township, including New Palestine, as reported by the assessor in the spring of 1914 was $2,011,010. Sixty children were transported to school at a cost of $1,694 to the township.


Following are the names of the men who have served the township in the capacity of trustee since the office was created in 18J9: Robert P. Brown, 1859; Ernst H. Faut, 1865; Edward P. Scott, 1872; David Ulrey, 1876; William C. Barnard, 1878-1880.; Sylvester Wagner, 1882-1884; John E. Dye, 1886; Albert Helms, 1888; Ezra Eaton, 1890; John Manche, 1890 Henry Fralich, 1894; Van B. Cones, 1900; Velasco Snodgrass, 1904; John Burkhart, 1908, and Scott Brandenburg, 1914.


Following are the names of the men who have presided over the local courts of the township, with the dates of their appointment or election: Charles Atherton; George Leachman, 1834-1870; G. W. Robinson, 1844; George O'Brien, 1846; Adam Hawk, 1851-1850; George Barnett, 1856; W. H. Dye, 1868; E. S. Bottsford, 1872; Henry A. Schreiber, 1874; George W. Kingery, 1878; John M. McKelvey, 1880-1888; Daniel W. Place, 1882; John G. Jacobi, 1884-1888; Andrew J. Downing, 1888; Adam P. Bogle, 1894-1914; George E. Lamb, 1898; Levi McCormick, 1900; Homer Leonard, 1906-1910.

Among the earlier justices of the peace the name of George Leachman appears more often probably than the name of any other justice in the county. From the date of the organization of the county until the early seventies his name appears upon practically all of the deeds and mortgages from the southern half of Sugar Creek township. Of late years the name of Adam P. Hogle has been prominent as a justice.

Jones township for a number of years included a part of Sugar Creek and also a part of Buck Creek township. During its existence the following men served as justice of the peace for that township: Charles Atherton, 1843; Daniel Skinner, 1840-45-50; Isaac Travis, 1846; Joseph Marshall, 1849; Abraham Stutsman, 1851; John H. Hazen, 1852; Allen Caylor, 1852.


A number of the humble servants of the people have been chosen from Sugar Creek township, among whom are Samuel Shockley, commissioner and representative; William McCance, Enos O'Brien, John O'Brien, William H. Dye, John E. Dye, Edward P. Scott and John Manche, county commissioners; R. P. Brown, treasurer and sheriff; E. H. Faut and W. C. Barnard, treasurers; John V. Coyner, county surveyor; Charles J. Richman, auditor; George J. Richman, county superintendent of schools; Edward Eikman, joint senator; Mack Warrum, sheriff.


Sugar Creek township has two railroads and two interurban lines, the history of which is given elsewhere.

Sugar Creek Township History files [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3 - New Palestine].

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