History of Washington Township, Hendricks
From: History of Hendricks County, Indiana
Hon. John V. Hadley, Editor in Chief.
B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1914
On the east line of Hendricks county is located Washington township, bounded on its north side by Lincoln and Middle townships, on the east by Marion county, on the south side by Guilford and Liberty, and on the west by Center township. White Lick creek flows across the west side of this township and the East fork of this same creek touches the southeast corner. Along the creek valley the land is rolling and fertile; the central and eastern portion of the civil division is very level and, before the day of artificial drainage, was rather swampy. it was not, however, equal to other townships in this respect. The early growth of timber, now gone, was largely composed of beech, but embraced many valuable varieties. The soil is clay and alluvial, being well adapted to grasses and grain.
The first settlement in Washington township was made in the northeast corner, near the site of Shiloh church
by Robert Wilson, Gideon Wilson and Elisha Kise in the year 1822. The next year Daniel Tryer, Aaron Homan, the
Griggs family, Joseph Fausett and others came into the same neighborhood in the same year, 1823, James Dunn, John
Givens, Abner Dunn, for whom Abner's creek was named, and others, settled on the west side of the township on the
above named creek. James Dunn settled on the Rockville road. Among those who came into the township within the
next few years were David Cox, Alexander McCammock, Enoch Barlow and his sons Harvey and Harrison, the Thornbroughs,
Hurons, Huffords and Gossetts.
The first general election in Washington township was held August 7, 1826, at the home of Daniel C. Hults, and eleven persons voted. These were: Sidney Williams, Daniel C. Hults, James Merritt, Joseph Runyan, Isaac Williamson, Daniel B. Dryer, James Higgenbotharn, Joseph Phillips, William S. Merrill, Robert Wilson and John Triggs. In its political history, Washington township was at first Whig and after the death of that party followed the fortunes of the Republican organization.
Avon, the capital of Washington township, is at a point very near the center of the township. The first settlement of the neighborhood was about the year 183o. Among the first settlers were the Hurons, the Rosses, the Gossetts, the McClain, the Jenkinses, Abram Harding, Absalom Payne, Dr. Malone, R. J. Barker, G. W. Merritt and James Siggurson. It was dense forest everywhere; deer and wolves were a common sight; but in small clearings little cabins of round logs sprang up and in a very short time this became a "neighborhood." The whole settlement was made up of people of energy and enterprise who came here to make a home that was to be their home, so their plans took in the question of church and school and roads and a postoffice. In 1833 Absalom Payne, who entered the land and lived where J. H. Wear now lives, was commissioned postmaster of Hampton postoffice, with a weekly mail carried on horseback from the east to the west, but no one remembers where from or where to. In a few years Mr. Payne tired of the empty honor and the office passed to Dr. Malone, where J. H. Winings lives, and a little later to W. T. Ross, where E E. Blair now lives. Mr. Ross also tired of the office and, no one else wanting it, is was allowed to die, and Hampton was no more. In 1852 O. J. Huron, newly married, was persuaded to accept a commission as postmaster, naming the office White Lick and locating it in his log cabin, one fourth mile west of present Avon. Just three months satisfied Mr. Huron and White Lick died and was laid away, in memory, besides Hampton. Along in the fifties John Smoot began making visits here as a pack peddler; soon he added a horse and wagon and came weekly, and, after a time, about 1858, leased ground and built a small room in the corner of J. H. Ross's yard, where William Shipman now lives. Smoot emptied his pack and put a few more items on a few shelves, and this was the beginning of the town. But Mr. Ross was a strong Republican and Mr. Smoot an ardent Democrat, and it was not long until Smoot moved his store to Democratic ground, across the road, on the land of John Dickerson, and thus, at the very first the town began to move. Mr. Dickerson not being willing to sell a lot to Mr. Smoot, the latter sought one elsewhere and, November 1, 1862, R. J. Barker deeded Smoot a half acre a mile farther west and the following winter he moved his store on a couple of log sleds to his own lot; this was the third town site. Mr. Smoot prospered and enlarged his store and added more goods, and in 1867 he headed a petition to Washington for a postoffice, and for R. M. Bartley to be made postmaster, but no name was suggested for the new office, and the authorities used the first name on the petition; when Mr. Bartley's commission, dated April 28, 1868, reached him it gave the office the picturesque name, Smootsdell, located it in Smoot's store and gave us two mails a week, carried horseback from Plainfield by D. S. Barker. When the I. & St. L. railroad was being surveyed, the man who, with a blue pencil, marked the stakes, made fun of the name of our postoffice, and said, "I'll name the town." Artistically he pencilled "New Philadelphia" on a stake and drove it down. When the road was completed the company drove another stake, with "Avon" painted on it. The people liked the name and petitioned to have the postoffice name changed to Avon. This was done and Smootsdell was laid away beside Hampton and White Lick. In May, 1871, Mr. Smoot sold all his property, building, lot and goods to Mr. Bartley and moved to Kansas. A little later the Barker brothers erected a building at the railroad crossing, put a stock of goods in one room, the other being used by the company. The Barkers soon tired of the store and quit, then J. L. Middleton, in 1875, added a general store to his shoe shop south of the railroad. In 1889 E. T. Huron was made postmaster and purchased the Middleton store. In 1893 William Taylor became postmaster. Mr. Taylor was full of enterprise and built a new postoffice building and put in a stock of goods, and Avon, for the first time, had three stores at one time. From the very first there was a rivalry among the people as to the location of the postoffice and the future town; the east side wanted it and the west side wanted it more. The Big Four folks soon learned of this feeling and sought to use it in securing bonuses. The station was at first a half mile west of the Plainfield road, then on the road, then three fourths of a mile east, where trains stopped at an old box car in the middle of a farm for passengers, and patrons carried trunks down the track till they were tired, then• changed hands and carried again. The west side complained and grumbled, than begged and finally won the station, and thought themselves secure; but in 1891 private citizens bought a little yellow dwelling and moved it to the crossing a mile east, and the company slid its telegraph office into it. The old sad look came again to the west sider's face; the company saw the look and smiled, then moved their station also to the yellow dwelling, using it for all purposes until 1894, when, with generous help of east side citizens, the company erected a neat three room building. The east side countenance broadened; the little yellow building was moved back and a stock of goods put in and, for a little while, Avon had four stores, three at the west side and one at the east, a mile away, but trade was backward and the new store soon closed, the yellow dwelling was sold again and this time was moved three miles away, when it ceased to worry the west side, with her three stores and the postoffice left. In woo the first rural free delivery in the county, and among the first in the state, was established in Danville, route No. 1, and its first delivery was made April 2d, of that year. While this has proven one of the greatest blessings ever bestowed on the common people, it crippled the Avon postoffice, reducing the salary from thirty five dollars to six dollars per quarter, and when, on November 1, 1902, the first Plainfield route was opened and passed the Avon postoffice door, the office was discontinued, and now Hampton, White Lick, Smootsdell and Avon all lie buried side by side. But the town survived, holding its own till the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern traction line was opened, September 1, 1906, when it began to improve and has continued to do so, until today its two general stores sell several times the amount of goods sold then, and property values have about trebled.