History of Jefferson Township, Miami County, Indiana
From: History of Miami County, Indiana
Edited by: Mr. Arthur L. Bodurtha
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York 1914


Jefferson township was established by the county commissioners at their first session, in June, 1834, and was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, who was president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. As originally created it embraced all the northern portion of the county, but it has been materially reduced in size by the formation of other townships. It now has an area of about thirty three square miles, or 21,120 acres. It is situated a little northwest of the center of the county and is bounded on the north by the townships of Union and Richland; on the east by Richland and Peru; on the south by Peru, and on the west by Cass county. A portion of the surface is level and the remainder is undulating, so that most of the township is capable of being cultivated, and the soil is well adapted to agricultural purposes. The Eel river and its tributaries drain and water the township and the Eel river valley is one of the best improved districts in central Indiana. A dense forest originally covered the entire area of the township, but the husbandman 's ax and the saw mill have practically annihilated the native growth of valuable timber.

This township was one of the first in the county to be settled by white men. On December 13, 1830, Solomon Wilkinson entered a tract of land where the town of Mexico now stands, built a cabin and removed his family to the new home in the wilderness the following spring. Mr. Wilkinson had seven sons - Ratliff, John, Jacob, Jesse, William, Simeon and Balaam - all of whom subsequently entered land near their father 's homestead and were among the most active of the pioneers in the development of this section of the county. Ratliff Wilkinson was one of the first petit jurors ever drawn in Miami county, and other members of the family have held public office or positions of trust and responsibility at various periods of the county's history.

David Vinnedge entered eighty acres in the southeast quarter of section 31, immediately north of the present town of Mexico, in 1830, but did not become a resident of the township until some time afterward.

Two brothers, Wood and Abraham Beard, entered land and settled in the township in 1831, and about the same time William Smith located near Mexico. John and Thomas Smith also came to the township in this year, and in the year following the population was increased by the arrival of William Conner and Alexander Jameson, with their families. Others who settled in this locality before the organization of Miami county were William Bain, Isaac Hicks, Eli Cook and Samuel Newman. Thomas McGinnis entered a part of section 28 in 1833, but it is not certain that he took up his residence in the township at that time

In 1834 Thomas Harmon located about a mile west of Mexico, where he established the first blacksmith shop in the township. About the same time the first mill was built by Burrell Daniels, who located on the north bank of the Eel river, on what was afterward known as the Denison farm. The second mill in the township was doubtless the one erected by Hamilton Duff, who came in 1834 and settled on the Eel river, about a mile and a quarter above Mexico. His mill, which was operated by water power, was built soon after he came to the county. Charles Murden came from Maryland in this year and entered a farm about two and a half miles northeast of Mexico. He arrived at his new home in September and for about two months his family lived in a tent, until the primitive log cabin could be erected. Here he reared a family of five sons and six daughters. His sons - Matthew, Imri, Timothy, Henry and Thomas - afterward were recognized as among the most enterprising and public spirited citizens of the township. Some time before the arrival of Mr. Murden and his family, William Eidson settled on section 35, not far from the Cass county line, where he entered a tract of land and established his home in the wilderness. Another pioneer of 1834 was Peter Fisher, whose family afterward became prominent in local affairs. He entered a tract of land in section 30, a little northwest of the center of the township, and after securing the title to his land went back to Ohio for his family. Early in 1835 he became a permanent resident of the township, where his death occurred more than forty years later. Isaac, Joseph, Aaron, Noah, Jacob and George Fisher, the sons of Peter, were among the active and influential citizens of Jefferson township for many years. Jacob was the owner of the old homestead in section 30.

Other early settlers in Jefferson township were the Clymers - Joseph, John and Levi - who located in the central part; William Leach, two miles northeast of Mexico; Asa and Reed Leonard, who located near the Richland township line; Nathanial Leonard, two miles northwest of Mexico; Daniel Albaugh, who entered section 28 and obtained a patent for it in 1834. The above pioneers came during the years 1834 and 1835. They were soon followed by Jacob Brown, an elder of the German Baptist church, John Brower, Abraham Louman, Joseph Holman, Henry Brower, Jeremiah Manson, Isaac Newman, Thomas and David Walling, William Gallagher, Isaac and Jesse Bond, Hiram Butler, Charles Spencer, Daniel Cox, William Collett, Jacob Hoover, Jesse S. Williams, James B. Sayers, Samuel Brown, Stephen Marsh, William Burnett, Samuel Edwards, Michael Fouts, Jacob Kress, Abraham Branaman, John M. Keen, Samuel Anderson and a number of Others.

The reader may wonder why the early settlers of this township came to select homes so far away from the Wabash river, which was the main channel of travel by the early traders. But it must be remembered that the men who conquered the wilderness had to depend upon other things besides the associations to be found at the trading posts. They were men who used the rifle as well as the ax and plow in the beginning of the development of the country and the forests along the Eel river were well supplied with game of various kinds. The soil in this part of the county is fertile and did not require the drainage that settlers in other parts have found to be necessary. Springs were to be found in several localities in what is now Jefferson township, which made it unnecessary to dig wells in order to obtain a supply of pure water for domestic purposes. All these conditions contributed to bring about the early settlement of the township.

The first death in the township was that of Solomon Wilkinson, who entered the first piece of land in the township He died in 1832 and his body was the first to be interred in the cemetery at Mexico. Among the early marriages were those of Jesse Wilkinson to Sallie Jameson and William Wilkinson to Mary Jameson, which were solemnized at the same time and place in 1835. One of the first births was that of a child of Jesse and Sallie Wilkinson, but the date cannot be learned.

One of the first needs of the early settlers was some method of educating their children. According to Graham, the first school in the township was taught by William Snewalt in the winter of 1834-35, in a small log house that had been built for a residence on the Wynkoop farm. The first regular school house was built on Charles Murden's place, probably in 1835, and the first school there was taught by Joseph Holman. With the growth of population and the development of the country the schools of the township were increased in number and improved in character. In 1913 there were eight school buildings in Jefferson, valued at $17,000, and during the school year of 1912-13 fourteen teachers were employed, receiving in salaries the sum of $6,244, the highest amount paid by any township in the county. Four of the school houses are brick and the other four are frame structures, but all are of modern design and well adapted to the purpose for which they were erected.

As early as 1833 Rev. John A. Brouse, a Methodist missionary, held religious services at the cabin of William Smith. A little later a class was formed and the first house of worship in the township was built by this little congregation in 1840. The Christian and German Baptist congregations were organized in 1838. The Baptist church at Mexico was founded in 1861, and there are congregations of different denominations at Denver, an account of which will be found in the chapter on church history.

Jefferson township is well supplied with transportation facilities. A line of the Vandalia railway system runs across the township from northeast to southwest, following closely the Eel river and passing through Mexico and Denver, and the Lake Erie & Western runs north and south along the eastern border, crossing the Vandalia at Denver. Mexico and Denver are both thriving towns. South of Denver is a small station on the Lake Erie & Western Railroad, from which some shipping is done.

As stated in the beginning of this chapter, Jefferson township was established in June, 1834, and embraced all the northern part of the county. Perry township was formed in February, 1837, and on the 7th of November of that year the townships of Richland and Union were erected, at which time Jefferson was reorganized with its present boundaries and area.

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