In the center of Hendricks county is located the township of Center. It is in townships 15 and 16 north, ranges
I east and 2 west, comprising about forty six square miles. It is bounded on the north by Union and Middle townships,
on the east by Middle and Washington, on the south by Liberty and Clay, and on the west by Clay, Marion and Eel
River townships. The west fork of White Lick creek, its tributaries, and Mill creek drain the land within the bounds
of this township, supplemented today by a very efficient system of artificial drainage. With the exception of the
deep, precipitous valley worn through the center of the township by White Lick, the nature of the land is undulating
and level. The highest elevation of land in the county is in Center township, gradually sloping away to the border.
Woodland once covered this territory, but it has now been reduced to a minimum. It embraces a body of land unexcelled
for grazing and of very high rank for fruit and grain production.
EARLY SETTLEMENT AND ELECTION.
It is recorded that the earliest settlement was made in Center township in the year 1823. Very few people ever
lived in this portion of the county until after the platting of the town of Danville, from which time it began
There was a general election held in Center township on August 7, 1826, votes being cast for congressman, senator,
representative, sheriff and coroner. There were about two hundred people in the township at that time and sixty
six persons voted. The list of voters was as follows: Francis Barbee, Thomas Hinten, Richard Christie, Elijah Thompson,
Dickison Thompson, James Thompson, Jeremiah Cutbirth, Thomas Nichols, William Moore, George Moore, Thomas Shelton,
Jonathan Wyatt, Nathaniel Kirk, Thomas Irons, Ezekiel Moore, William Crane, George Moore, Jr., Moses Williams,
William Moore, Sr., John Green, Samuel Gwinn, John Bryant, John Ristine, Martin Cooper, David Downs, Eli Townsend,
Samuel Harriman, Thomas Howell, Thomas J. Walker, John Hanna, Thomas B. Clark, David Adams, Robert Cooper, Lemuel
Hopkins, Joseph Dunn, George W. Pope, William Herron, Stephen Cook, Jesse Cook, Silas Bryant, Abel Stanley, Levi
Kindman, Eli Morris, Job Osborn, Daniel Clark, William Pope, B. Dunn, Andy Clark, John Dunn, John Calor, James
Downard, Preston Pennington, Nimrod Harrison, James Logan, John Moore, John Downs, James Williams, David Matlock,
Stephen Annel, Thomas Walker, Jefferson Matlock, P. S. Dickens, David McDonald, Levi Jessup, George C. Brightman
and Erasmus Nichols.
CENTER TOWNSHIP TODAY.
Because of the location of Danville, the county seat, Center township today occupys in some respects the foremost
place among the twelve townships of the county. In richness, in agriculture and kindred vocation, she is not superior
to all of the townships, but holds a high position and is deserving of much credit. The taxpayers are loyal and
willing to support any movement for the good of the township and consequently civic pride and intelligent interest
in the country has gained a prominent place. The land surrounding Danville is very good farming ground and a visit
to the numerous estates will convince the critic that the most modern and efficient methods are used by the farmer
in the cultivation of his soil. The homes dotting the broad farms are attractive and equal to the home of the man
with urban advantages, something which twenty years ago would have been believed impossible. Telephones, excellent
roads, railroads and interurban lines, all contribute to the easy communication with all parts of the county and
the state capital. Distance has ceased to be a factor in present day life. The schools of Center township are of
the first class, the religious life is pronounced, and behind all there is a spirit of goodfellowship, progress
and industry which prophesies greater and greater things to come.
In the year 1824 the first dwelling was constructed on the site of Danville by Daniel Clark. This structure
was a log cabin. Immediately after the location of Clark's cabin several other settlers came to the immediate vicinity
and made their homes. By the following winter there were quite a number of people living in the neighborhood -
in fact, sufficient in number to start a school. The first man to teach here was Wesley McKinley. Doctor Garrett
was the first physician to administer to the ill. A hotel, or rather, a log tavern, was opened to the public by
Levi Jessup, the first county clerk. He was succeeded in this business in 1828 by Col. Thomas Nichols, who came
to Danville in that year and became sheriff of the county. Nichols also interested himself in building houses.
In 1829, he constructed, at Danville, the first brick school house in Hendricks county.
In another chapter it is stated that the town of Danville was officially laid out by Thomas Hinton on October 20,
Immediately after this, cabins began to spring up and with the first one erected by Clark were many, just as unpretentious,
but inviting. James L. Givin set up a small store on the north side of the square and there the first merchandise
was sold. Flour was not among his stock, however, and people were compelled to go to Indianapolis after that product.
The first court house, constructed of peeled hickory logs, cost one hundred and forty seven dollars. The jail,
made of the same material, was back of the building recently occupied by the Thompson jewelry store. It was considered
impregnable, with its thick walls, small, high windows, puncheon floors and dungeon The first hotel, then called
a tavern, was a large, rambling two story building situated on the lot now occupied by Beck's restaurant. With
its square and multipaned windows, massive door and large chimney, it was a picturesque building. Along the alley
was a long, mossy trough, hollowed from a log, from which horses were watered from the tavern well. This tavern
was a busy place, especially when court was in session. Those who attended court had to travel over many miles
on horseback, through sloughs and forests, over fallen trees, across streams and every other obstacle which impeded
the journey of the early traveler. Arriving at the tavern door, cold, tired and hungry, they found rest and food
in plenty. The food was not served by courses, or miniature quantities in side dishes, but was literally piled
upon the table, the chief dish often being a whole roast pig.
The record of incorporation of the town of Danville reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned, President and Clerk of an election held at the court house in the town of Danville,
on the 24th day of January, A. D. 1835, agreeably to an order of the Board of County Commissioners, within and
for the county of Hendricks, at their January term, 1835, for the purpose of electing five Trustees to serve the
corporation of said town of Danville, do certify that at the election aforesaid, we, the undersigned, President
and Clerk as aforesaid, after being duly sworn according to law, did proceed to lay off the said town into five
districts, as follows, to-wit: District No. One is composed of Blocks No. 1, 2, 3, 14, 15 and 16; District No.
Two, of Blocks Nos. 17, 78, 19, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34; District No. Three, of Blocks Nos. 4, 13, 28 and 35;
District No. Four, of Blocks Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12; District No. Five, of Blocks Nos. 20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 25, 26, 27, 36, 37, 38 and 39; and after the division of the said town into districts, and the same being made
known to the qualified voters thereof, who then proceeded to elect one trustee from each district, whereupon the
following persons were duly elected, to-wit: Disrict No. I, Henry G. Todd; District No. 2, Jubal Lee; District
No. 3, Charles B. Naylor; District No. 4, James M. Gregg; and District No. 5, William S. Crawford. The foregoing
certificate, given pursuant to the revised code for such case made and provided, together with an act entitled
'An act amendatory of the act entitled an act for the incorporation of towns,' approved February 2, 1832. Given
under our hands and seals, this 27th day of January, 1835.
"J. M. GREGG, President.
"HENRY G. TODD, Clerk."
After some years under this town charter, it was surrendered, but renewed and the town reincorporated in the year
About the time of the incorporation of Danville the young town was becoming a centering place for the farmers
of the county and was regarded as a particularly beautiful place. At that, the appearance of the village was far
from what the present dweller would call attractive. The street at the northeast corner of the square was almost
a marsh, although steps had been taken to fill it in. The present hollow, a square south of the college, now being
filled and a street put through, then extended westward to the McCurdy block and on Tennessee street there was
a bridge across it. At the west end of the hollow was a spring of pure water, as there was also in the court house
yard. When an election was held in the town some of the voters would get thirsty and depart for the spring in the
hollow to get a drink. However, their source of supply was a keg hidden in the bushes alongside the spring.
The main business portion of the town was on the north side of the square. The first brick business room was constructed
by Colonel Nave in 1832. It was a square law office, almost comparable in size to a piano box, but was considered
elegant then. The second brick building was located on the spot now occupied by Darnell's "Yaller Front."
Before it was erected the first postoffice stood there The postmaster, who was a saddler, plied his trade in the
front room. All the stores at this time were general stores, that is, they kept every article of merchandise desired
by the settler from dry goods and groceries to plows.
This, in a measure, supplies the reader with a picture of the early Danville. The town has never grown to city
proportions, but the improvement since those early times have been timely, and as thorough as if the town had enlarged
to ten thousand population.
NAMING OF COUNTY SEAT.
The man directly responsible for the naming of the county seat of Hendricks county was Judge William Watson
Wick, one of the pioneer jurists of Indiana. He was judge of the fifth circuit, composed of Lawrence, Monroe, Morgan,
Greene, Owen, Marion, Hendricks, Rush, Decatur, Bartholomew. Shelby, Jennings and Johnson counties. Judge Wick
was holding court in Hendricks county when the commissioners were discussing what to name the county seat. The
Judge had a brother named Dan and in honor of him he urged the commissioners to adopt the name Danville, which
AN OLD RESIDENT'S IDEA OF EARLY DANVILLE.
From the manuscript of H. Henry, one of the first men in Danville, the following is taken:
"I came to Danville in August, 1858. That year was, in the language of the farmers, a wet year. The train
upon which we came waded through what Major Verbrike would have called 'a wilderness of mud and water' and it made
the trip from Cincinnati to Cartersburg in eight hours, which was considered fast time in those days. Coming up
to town from Cartersburg in Keeney's hack, I had for fellow passenger Professor Tarr and Clint Petty. The Professor
was on his first trip to town to make arrangements to organize the Danville Academy. He was dressed as a minister
and was full of missionary zeal. I was loaded for Indians and wild game, and carried a double barreled shot gun.
Petty was armed with a stone pipe, loaded with long range tobacco, and, being on his own native soil, he `got the
drop' on the bear hunter and the missionary at once. The Professor looked at my gun and turned up his nose at Petty's
pipe, which had made him sea sick, while he said, 'Please, sir, do not smoke the pipe in this hack.' Petty answered,
`Stranger, I will compromise with you. I will hold my head outside of the window.' The Professor looked at me and
my gun as if he wished to shoot the pipe, but I never said a word. I became a silent partner in the compromise
with the ways of the wild and woolly west.
"On our arrival in town we were met by the immortal Boone O'Haver, who was the self appointed keeper of the
gates of the city. Boone directed Professor Tarr to the home of a good Methodist brother. Then he took my gun in
his hands and escorted me and the oil cloth carpet sack over to Henry Howell's grocery on the east side of the
square, where he introduced me to the 'boys.' Boone gave me a hearty reception. He went in the grocery and brought
out a mammoth watermelon and cut it and made the usual mistake of quoting Scripture and crediting it to Shakespeare,
by saying to the crowd: `Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.'
"The first thing I remember concerning politics after coming to Danville was a joint discussion between Martin
M. Ray and Albert G. Porter. The slavery question was, of course, the bone of contention. The orators talked much
about 'border ruffians' and 'bleeding Kansas' and had much to say about 'squatter sovereignty.' After the speaking,
a tramp shoemaker named Cary Maul, who had gathered the impression that 'squatter sovereignty' was an individual,
a bully who had set down on all the government lands in the West and had caused all the political troubles, declared
that he would go to Kansas and 'put a hole through Old Squatter Sovereignty.' He added that if Nebraska Bill did
not look out he would get shot, too.
"James Peters, a journeyman musical instrument maker, who made dulcimers for Vinson Hamblin in Samuel Hawkins'
chair shop, was a genius that only a Charles Dickens could describe properly. He resembled Julius Caesar. He was
a college graduate and had, before coming to Danville, been a clerk of a court in Ohio. Peters had met a disappointment
in love and had made an unsuccessful effort to drown his sorrows in opium and liquor. One day, while under the
influence of liquor, he threw a bucket and a bundle of ax handles through the show window of a drug store and would
have painted the town red if it had not been for the officers of the law. When the marshal and his deputies arrived
at Squire Singer's office with Peters there was a large crowd there to see the fun. The Squire was scared and his
hand trembled so that he was unable to write. Peters stood before the court with the skirt of his blue cloth coat,
which the officers had torn while making the arrest, dragging on the floor. He said in a voice which would have
done credit to Edwin Forrest, addressing the crowd, 'We did not come here to praise Caesar, but to bury him.' Then
he walked around the railing and took the pen out of the trembling hand of the justice and made the necessary entries
on the docket, instructed the prosecutor as to his duties, worked in the capacity of attorney for both sides of
the case and so expedited the business of the court that the trial lasted only a few minutes. He paid his fine
and went to Armstrong's tailoring shop for repairs. Peters and Judge Marvin used to discuss for hours the subject
of astronomy. They had, according to Welshans, completely covered the walls and floor of the room with diagrams
of the heavens and the earth, drawn in chalk. Peters had taken the contrary side in. the argument in order to draw
the Judge out. The debate closed by the Judge calling Peters a blank fool. Peters was living in Springfield, Illinois,
when Lincoln was nominated and he wrote to Alf. Weishans a nice letter describing the jollification held at Lincoln's
"Warner Vestal, editor of the Hendricks County Ledger, requested Peters to read the proof of a long article
he had written for that paper. Peters took the proof slips to his room and in about two hours he came back with
the slips together with an exhaustive criticism on the article longer than the original. Vestal said, 'I can not
make the corrections on your article in time to go to press.' Peters said, 'My article? I have written nothing
that needs correcting.' You wrote the whole business,' said the editor. Peters had written the first article when
intoxicated and did not remember it. He was at himself when he read the proof. The article was put on the dead
galley rack, but the proof slips and the criticisms were kept as object lessons by the editor and printers for
many a day. Peters met his fate in Libby prison near the close of the war.
"Thomas N. Jones was a many sided character and a good citizen. He was fond of all kinds of innocent amusements
and at almost every entertainment he was a star performer, always appearing in a comedy of blunders. Whether it
was the mind reading phrenologist or the gag of the circus clown or the mystifying ventriloquist or the simple
twist of the wrist of the street fakir, Tom always took the cake as the victim of every trick and joke. During
the years that the 'Sons of Temperance' wave wept over the country, that society held a temperance celebration
at Indianapolis. On the day of the grand parade, Tom was in command of the Hendricks county division. The weather
was very hot, the people in the parade were very thirsty and a committee was supplying drinking water, which they
carried in buckets. Tom's division had been served with a drink, but it did not satisfy Tom and he arose in his
regalia and 'fuss and feathers' to the attitude of a magazine picture of 'Washington crossing the Delaware,' and
yelled at the top of his voice, 'More water for the Danville delegation.' The grotesqueness of the commander's
efforts to get drinks for the banner temperance delegation was too much for the spectators and they responded with
laughter and applause. And Tom's words were passed along the line and were the toast of the day to which tin cups
rattled and beer glasses clinked. To the day of Jones' death, he never heard the last of 'More water for the Danville
"One day at a circus he assisted Richard Hemming; the celebrated rope walker, in a tight rope act. Hemming
carried Mr. Jones under the rope by straps looped to his feet. When the walker arrived over the dustiest spot in
the ring he let Mr. Jones fall in the dirt to the infinite delight of the audience, who greeted him with the usual
encore. To this day tight rope and Tom Jones are twin geraniums. The secret order known as the Sons of Malta did
not have a lodge in Danville, but Jones never missed anything. He went to Indianapolis and joined and very nearly
met his death during his initiation into the order. The practical jokers worked him up to a fever heat until he
almost sweat blood, then let him fall from a great height into a tank of ice water. He admitted that this experience
took the conceit out of him, but don't you believe it."
The officers of the town of Danville in 1914 are: F. H. Huron, C. E. Allred, H. S. Curtis, W. L. Holman, Simon
Hadley, trustees; Charles T. Clark, clerk; James V. Cook, treasurer; Thomas R. Harney, engineer; John Hume and
C. W. Gaston, attorneys, and W. T. Lawson, health officer.
In eleven blocks in Danville the streets are paved with brick and there is in addition twelve miles of macadam
streets and many miles of cement sidewalks.
An extensive sewerage system is now being placed in Danville, the cost of which is to be close to twenty thousand
dollars. A septic tank for the purification of the sewage is constructed east of town.
The Danville water works, a municipal plant, supplies the town with pure water from artesian wells
The water used in Danville is without a superior in the United States. It comes from flowing wells and is almost
entirely pure. It is also of high medicinal value. The formal analysis follows: Solids, 33.9; chlorein, faint trace;
ammonia, none; nitrates, nitrites, none; total hardness, 8.65. It is medicinal in quality. Not a case of typhoid
fever has been contracted in the town since this water has been used.
The Danville Light, Heat and Power Company, a corporation owned by Indianapolis capital, is the largest of its
kind in the county and one of the largest in the state. It is considered a model plant. It is worth about one hundred
thousand dollars. This company supplies power not only for Danville, but also for Plainfield, Clayton, Pittsboro
and Brownsburg, also many farm houses. It is the ambition of this concern to supply the power for every factory
in Hendricks county. The power house is fitted with all the modem machinery to be found in plants of its kind.
The town of Danville is considering a new system of street lighting, to replace the old style now in use.
The Danville Commercial Club was organized on January 20, 1911. The organization is governed by a constitution
and bylaws, which provides a fee of five dollars for membership and fifty cents dues per month for each member.
They also provide for numerous committees, among which are the executive committee of seven members, boosting committee
of ten members, an advertising committee of five members, and from time to time special committees are appointed
to carry out worthy projects.
Early in its career the club organized a boys' band, which has continued to be a success to the present time. The
dub has, among its many aims, the following: to secure more factories, better mail and transportation facilities,
to decrease danger at car crossings by reducing speed limit and to urge the installation of proper signals, to
create a suburban residence city, to keep the town clean and the atmosphere pure, to create better business conditions
by securing better markets for farm products.
In harmony with the cultured life of Danville, there are several social clubs, which, in themselves, form an
important part of the town. Charity, high moral standards, patriotism, civic honor, education, purity of life,
honorable ambition, are sentiments that mark the right growth of a city and these sentiments have been promoted
by the noble women of Danville, individually and in club life and organized concert of action. All these clubs
do their part to lighten burdens, to broaden education, and to promote the graces of true culture.
The Social Dozen is a club with a membership limited to fourteen. It is an embroidery club and its object is to
do variegated needlework, besides me social side.
The Afternoon Circle was organized February 8, 1907, and its object is to acquire excellence in embroidery work.
The Bay View Study Club was organized in Danville in February, 1912, with sixteen charter members. Its membership
is limited. The object of the club is to take up current and literary topics for discussion, as well as travel
The Embroidery Club was organized in 1898 by Mrs. James McCoun and Mrs. John W. Trotter. It was originally called
the Who, When and What Club. The name signifies the character of the club.
The Browning Club was organized on September 12, 1891, with a membership limited to twenty five. The object of
the club is that the members get better knowledge of the poet, Browning, and consequent mental and moral development.
The poetic study is not entirely confined to Robert Browning.
The Philomathean Club is a literary organization which started October 13, 1909.
The Cozy Club was organized about 1900 for the purpose of improvement in the use of the needle.
The J. O. Club has for its purpose social development and mutual instruction in the art of domestic science.
The Charity Coterie was organized in December, 1908, and the motto, "Do Something for Somebody" adopted.
The field of work for this club is a large one, including charitable work, of every kind and care for the town,
attention to social life and various pursuits.
The Up-to-Date Club was organized in October, 1898, and was to be made up of the young married women of the town,
whose object was to keep in accord with the history of current events, the improvement and pleasure of themselves
and their homes. Domestic science is studied, also literature and kindred subjects.
The Modern Priscilla Club devotes its energies to the study of literature and the art of embroidery.
The Half Century Club, to which none are eligible except those over fifty years of age, has for its object sociability.
DANVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY.
In February, 1902, the president of the Commercial Club, Mord Carter, wrote a letter to Andrew Carnegie, explaining
the needs of the town for funds to build a library building, which resulted in an offer from Mr. Carnegie to donate
ten thousand dollars for the erection of the building, provided that the town would make a levy that would raise
on thousand dollars per year and provide a suitable site for the building. The Commercial Club, ladies' clubs,
college faculty, town trustees, school board and citizens came forward with aid and a literary board was organized
under the acts of 1901. A lot was purchased by popular subscription and the plans submitted by S. C. Dark, of Indianapolis,
Indiana, were accepted. A contract was let to W. C. Halstead & Company of Franklin, Indiana, for the erection
of the building. The township afterward came in under the provisions of the law and made a levy of one tenth of
a mill on each dollar and the town a levy of one cent on the dollar, the two levies raising about one thousand
five hundred dollars annually for the support and building up of the library.
The building was dedicated on September 5, 1903. The ladies' clubs raised about three hundred dollars for books
and many other volumes were donated, making in all about one thousand volumes. The number of volumes in the library
in May, 1914, is about five thousand. Most of the leading magazines of the country are taken. There are enrolled
upon the books of the library at this latter date nineteen hundred and sixty readers. The present board consists
of the following: Dr. Joel T. Barker, Henry C. Hadley, Mrs. Mattie A. Keeney, Mrs. Josephine K. Thomas, Mrs. J.
D. Hogate, Charles Z. Cook, W. C. Osborne, John W. Whyte and Thad. S. Adams. Dr. Joel T. Barker is president; Thad.
S. Adams, vice president; Henry C. Hadley, treasurer; Mrs. Josephine K. Thomas, secretary; Miss Lou Robinson, librarian,
and Mrs. Martha L. Scearce, assistant librarian.
The postmasters who have served in Danville since the beginning, with the dates of their appointment, are as
follows: James M. Buckner, April 1, 1825; William S. Crawford, February 18, 1829; Levi Jessup, June 1, 1829; William
S. Crawford, April 19, 1831; George W. Powell, July 14, 1853; William W. Matlock, January 3o, 1853; William McPhetridge,
February 9, 1857; Herman Smith, August 14, 1858; S. R. Craddick, March 30, 1861; Aaron Homan, October 30, 1866;
Mary Davis, March 12, 1867; J. M. Gregg, Jr., March 17, 1869; C. F. Hall, May 14, 1877; A. H. Kennedy, March 1,
1883; A. P. Pounds, August 2, 1886; J. R. Williams, July 18, 1888; Martin Englehart, August 5, 1889; R. W. Wade,
March 5, 1894; Alfred Welshans, February 18, 1898; Wilbur Masten, February 19, 1906; Charles P. Hornathy, March
25, 1914; William A. King, March 10, 1914.
The Danville postoffice is a second class office, having six carriers and six rural routes. A postal savings department
is also conducted.
While the Civil War was in progress the First National Bank of Danville was organized with $60,000 capital,
September 24, 1863, under the new law of Congress enacted a few months before and entitled an "Act to provide
a national currency secured by a pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circulation and redemption
thereof," approved February 25, 1863. The incorporators were: Samuel P. Foote, Simon T. Hadley, Christion
C. Nave, James T. Hadley, Archibald Alexander, Elisha Hobbs, Alfred Hunt, Jeremia Johnson, John Miles, Jediah Hussey,
Jesse Hockett, Edmund R. Hadley, John Bishop, David G. Wilson, Allen Hess, James McMurry, Samuel S. Russell, Cyrus
Hunt, Leander M. Campbell, Oliver P. Badger, John Hadley, Levi Pennington, Thomas Nichols, Josiah Garrison, Julius
A. Jeger, Milton Lindley and Amiel Hunt. Simon T. Hadley was the first president and Samuel P. Foote the first
cashier. The bank was authorized to commence business on December 11, 1863, and was the one hundred and fifty second
chartered bank in the United States. The bank opened its doors in a building a few doors south of its present site.
At a later date it was moved to the Estep block, north of the court house. It moved to the present location upon
the erection of the building in 1897. The present officers of the bank are: W. C. Osborne, president; F. J. Christie,
cashier; Charles Z. Cook, assistant cashier. The present capital is $100,000; deposits, $350,000; surplus, $40,000.
The bank charter has been twice renewed, once in 1883 and again in 1903.
The Danville Trust Company was incorporated March 29, 1899, with a capital of $25,000. It was organized by Cyrus
Osborne, Mord Carter, Thomas J. Miles, M. T. Hunter, William C. Osborne, E. R. Robards and Alva B. Smith. Cyrus
Osborne was the first president; William C. Osborne, vice president, and Mord Carter, secretary. The present officers
are: Cyrus Osborne, president; Thomas J. Cofer, vice president, and William C. Osborne, secretary. The capital
stock is still $25,000; deposits, $80,000, and surplus, $7,000. The company was chartered in 1899.
The Danville State Bank was organized in 1904 by a stock company. The officers of the bank at present are: S. H.
Hall, president; J. K. Littler vice president; O. M. Piersol, cashier; O. P. Humston, assistant cashier. The capital
stock is $25,000; deposits, $160,000; surplus, $17,500.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF DANVILLE.
The Danville public schools graduated the first class in the year 1880. This class consisted of but one member,
Belle Kennedy. Since that time there have been nearly three hundred and fifty graduated. The largest class was
graduated in 1910, consisting of twenty three members Many of the graduates have continued their studies in higher
institutions of learning, but a majority have entered upon their life work without any other training than that
given in the high school. The people of Danville have spared no expense in giving the young people of the community
the advantages enjoyed by the most favored in the state.
The first brick school house in the county was built at Danville in 1829. The second free school, as it was
called, was a two story frame, situated on the lot across the street south from the old college building. This
burned in the fall of 1872. The following year another school building was constructed, but in 1878 fire destroyed
it to such an extent that it had to be nearly entirely rebuilt. The present high school building was completed
COURT HOUSE HISTORY.
The first court house in Danville was constructed of peeled hickory logs and the jail, back of the present location
of Thompson's jewelry store, was of the same material. In the year 1830 a second court house was built and was
a square, brick building. The third court house was completed in the year 1862 and cost sixty thousand dollars.
The building was considered a substantial one and of elegant architecture for the time. The first floor was taken
up mainly by the county offices and on the second floor was the court room, considered one of the best in the state.
The building was surmounted by two towers, upon one of which was an observatory. This court house performed good
service for many years or until eight thirty o'clock on the night of January 9, 1912, when the whole roof collapsed,
completely wrecking the upper floor of the building. Fortunately, it was an hour when the place was deserted or
there would have been fatalities. Court had been held that very day; also for many weeks noises of cracking had
been heard, but unheeded.
The county council held a meeting on Monday, January 22, 1912, for th purpose of discussing the building of a new
court house. There was no definite action taken, due to two factions in the council and much difference of opinion.
On February 3d, however, they met again and appropriated two hundred and twenty five thousand dollars for the erection
of a new court house. Bonds were ordered issued. The work of advertising for bids, etc., went on and the contract
was awarded. Clarence Martindale is the architect of the new court house structure. The first thing done was the
razing of the ruins of the old court house. This was done, most of the bricks being deposited in the fill at the
east end of Marion street. The corner stone for the new court house was laid on May 29, 1913, with fitting ceremonies.
The new court house, now well along in the process of construction, is to be one of the most efficient and beautiful
in the state of Indiana. The house is constructed of Bedford oolitic stone and the best steel. The inside wainscoting
and corridor floors are to be of marble. The court room is to have monolithic floors, art glass sky light and ornamental
plaster ceiling. The dimensions of the court house are one hundred and eleven by one hundred and forty two by one
hundred and thirteen feet and forty eight feet in height. The two court rooms, the grand jury room and the county
surveyor's office are on the third floor, the principal county offices are on the second floor, and on the first
floor are the minor offices, the county superintendent's office, rest rooms, Grand Army of the Republic room. The
building is to be heated by steam and lighted by electricity. A modern ventilating system is installed and a vacuum
cleaning apparatus. An electric elevator will run the entire height of the building. This building has a copper
roof and is considered absolutely fire proof. The architecture is of the Renaissance style mainly, with features
of other architectural designs. The natural lighting of the building is an important asset. P. H. McCormack Company,
of Columbus, Indiana, are the contractors.
The present jail building in Danville was erected in the year 1869. In January, 1865, the county board of commissioners
ordered the sheriff "to sell at public outcry to the highest bidder the old county jail, reserving all the
iron and stone in said building to the county, also to sell the old fence around said house." This was done
and it was ordered that Martin Gregg be appointed to examine jails in other counties and employ an architect to
give a draft and estimated cost of such a building and report on the same. Pending the erection of the new jail
the jury room in the north side of the old court house served the purpose of a bastile. The cost of the jail was
approximately thirty thousand dollars. In 1914 a new heating plant is being installed.
Western Star Lodge No. 26, Free and Accepted Masons, at Danville, was organized under dispensation February
10, 1846, and the charter is dated May 3oth following. James L. Hogan was the first worshipful master; J. D. Parker,
senior warden, and William L. Matlock, junior warden. Col. Thomas Nichols, a pioneer justice of the peace, was
the first man initiated into this lodge. This lodge now has a membership of about one hundred and seventy five.
Danville Chapter No. 46, Royal Arch Masons, was chartered May 23, 1860, with Reece Trowbridge as the first high
priest. E. Singer was the first king and Jacob Fleece, scribe. The chapter his a present membership of one hundred.
Colestock Council No. 26, Royal and Select Masters, at Danville, was organized under dispensation, August 24, 1868,
and chartered in July of the following year. The council now has about seventy five members.
Danville Chapter No. 39, Order of the Eastern Star, was chartered in 1879, with T. S. Adams as worthy patron, Eliza
M. Johnson as worthy matron, and Mary E. Cooper as assistant matron. There are fifty members of the Eastern Star
Silcox Lodge No. 123, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized January 14, 1853, by John W. L. Matlock,
Ohio Cleveland, R. H. Morehead, Theodore P. Hoy, George F. McGinnis, J. B. E. Reed and J. S. Harvey as charter
members. John W. L. Matlock was the first noble grand; H. S. McCormick, vice grand; William Astley, secretary;
D. G. Wilson, treasurer; J. G. Mulligan, outer guard; William Jeffers, inner guard; D. D. Hamilton, R. C. S. Maccoun,
James H. Taylor, R. Cope, stewards. This lodge has a present membership of one hundred and fifty.
Matilda Lodge No. 47, Daughters of Rebekah, at Danville, was chartered February 24, 1871.
Danville Lodge No. 48, Knights of Pythias, was organized June 12, 1874, with twenty eight members. The first officers
were: C. W. Wynant, past commander; Thomas N. Jones, chancellor commander; Charles H. Dill, vice commander; W.
H. Hess, prelate; D. B. Keleher, master-at-arms; Lee Hunt, master of exchequer; Washington Gregg, master of finance;
J. C. Waterous, keeper of records and seal; J. T. Clark, inner guard; Jesse Cummins, outer guard.
Tuscarora Tribe No. 49, Improved Order of Red Men, at Danville, was organized June 5, 1874, among the prominent
members being E. M. Tinder, Henry Howell, W. T. Linn, James T. McCurdy, Aaron Hart, J W. Hart. and James O. Parker.
Application having been made in due form for the organization of a Grand Army of the Republic post in Danville,
a dispensation was granted and General James R. Carnahan, in company with a number of comrades from George H. Thomas
Post, of Indianapolis, reported on the evening of mustering the post. The meeting was held in the court room and
an organization effected and officers elected. This was on April 27, 1883. Fifty six comrades were mustered as
charter members and this number quickly mounted to well over a hundred. The first officers included such men as:.
Alfred Weishans, commander; John Messier, and James J. Bell, Thomas J. Coffer, Daniel Kelleher, Charles W. Stewart,
John W. Tinder, H. Hall, Leroy H. Kennedy, William H. Nichols and Stanley A. Hall. The roster of the post, taken
in May, 1913, numbered forty four men.
The post is gradually growing smaller, each year many of the veterans. being called from the ranks by death. However,
the post is active here and. each year Memorial Day is sacredly observed. The Sunday schools. Central Normal College
and citizens generally unite with the post in the strewing of powers and reviving the memories of the deceased
Perhaps one of the most remarkable facts about Daville, considering: its size, is that the town boasts of a
public park. Ground for this park was purchased in 1913 at a cost of two hundred dollars an acre for twenty acres.
The Commercial Club pushed this deal until the city decided to buy the property. The city employed a landscape
gardener, who has planted about two thousand trees and shrubs on the ground. A baseball diamond and grandstand
have been constructed and this summer it is planned to obstruct the stream, which flows throught the grounds, and
a bathing beach created.