History of towns and villages in Miami County,
Indiana Part 1
Ambuy to Hooversburg
From: History of Miami County, Indiana
Edited by: Mr. Arthur L. Bodurtha
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York 1914
TOWNS AND VILLAGES
In the settlement of the Middle West there were among the early arrivals a numbers of promoters and speculators,
who entertained dreams of becoming the founders of cities. Through the influence and activity of these men, numerous
townsites were preempted and towns laid out, a few of which survived and grew, many failed to meet the anticipations
of their projectors, some never got beyond the "paper" stage, and still others perished from inanition
in their early infancy. Occasionally, some fortunate event, such as the building of a railroad or the location
of a county seat, would give permanence and stability to one of these towns, which in time would develop into a
city of more or less prominence. But in almost every such instance other towns near by would be the sufferers and
in time would disappear entirely from the map, the logic of events being too strong for them to overcome.
The Pan Handle Railroad was completed through Miami county in 1867. In August of that year John Ptomey, Bennett
Fellows, John A. Lamb and Abijah Ridgeway laid out the town of Amboy on section 23, four miles west of Converse,
as a station on the new railroad. About the time the town was laid out, Elisha Clark established a large steam
sawmill there and a little later the firm of Lowder & Smith put up a second sawmill Both these mills did a
good business while the timber lasted, and large quantities of lumber were shipped from Amboy during the early
years of its existence. About the mills a. village soon grew up and other lines of business were introduced. The
first merchant was Benjamin Bond, who opened a store in the late summer of 1867, at the corner of Main and Pennsylvania
streets. A little later a two story building was erected on the opposite corner and there J. F. Overman opened
his store, but two years later removed to the town of Miami The third merchant was William Patterson. Lowder &
Smith erected a grist mill in connection with their lumber business, and William Reynolds built a planing mill
before the end of the year 1867.
In May, 1853, Thomas Jameson, Eli Freestone, Michael Taylor and Benjamin Griffith laid out the town of Anson at the junction of sections 14, 15, 22 and 23, about a mile east of the present town of Denver, in the western part of Richland township. At that time the Cincinnati Peru & Chicago Railroad was being surveyed through the northern part of the county, and the founders of this town hoped that it would be on the line of the new railroad. When the Indianapolis, Peru & Chicago Railroad passed farther to the west the plat of Anson was vacated, hence it never got beyond the paper stage.
Shortly after the completion of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad, the people living in the southern part of Deer Creek township asked that a station be established for their accommodation. Accordingly Bennett's Switch was laid out on a tract of land belonging to Baldwin M. Bennett, of New York, after whom the village was named. A few years ago the Indiana Union Traction Company extended its line from Indianapolis to Peru, passing through the village of Bennett's Switch, which was made a station on that line also. The town has never grown to very large proportions, the last United States census giving the population as 133. It has two general stores, a grain elevator operated by James M. Coucher, and some other business concerns, and does considerable shipping.
This town was once a small station on the Lake Erie & Western Railroad in the southern part of Allen township. It was laid out by Isaac Caulk and Solomon Jones in November, 1868, the original plat embracing 122 lots. Soon after the town was laid out a steam sawmill was built and for several years lumber was the chief article of export. At one time Birmingham boasted a flour mill, a blacksmith shop and a general store, in addition to the saw mill, but these concerns have all moved to more favorable localities. The town was projected solely for speculative purposes and it failed to come up to the expectations of its founders. With the general decline of business, trains quit stopping there, and all that is left are a few residences and the schoolhouse. The reason given for the abandonment of Birmingham by the railroad company is a tribute to the strong convictions of Mr. Caulk, who was the railroad agent at that time. He refused to sell tickets for Sunday excursions or to post bills advertising such excursions, and inasmuch as the station did not supply the company with a great deal of business, it was decided to close it - not only on Sunday, but for all the time.
A recent map of Miami county, published by Rand, McNally & Company, shows a small hamlet called Brownell in the southern part of See tion 1, in the northeast corner of Peru township. The same authority gives the population as 12, accompanied by the statement that these few people receive mail by rural delivery from Peru. Brownell is a stopping point on the Winona Interurban railway that runs from Peru to Warsaw, but it has no business interests of any consequence.
Just south of Pipe Creek, in the southeast corner of Pipe Creek township, lies the town of Bunker Hill. It was
platted 1851 by Alexander Galbraith, James Myers and John Duckwall The original plat included 46 lots and in June,
1852, Mr. Duckwall platted an addition of 24 lots. James Myers, one of the proprietors, built the first house in
the town in 1851 and the second was probably the dwelling of Andrew Bache, which was built later in the same year.
For a time the growth of the town was rather slow, only ten or a dozen houses having been erected in 1858. In 1859
the postoffice was established at Bunker Hill and about the same time, perhaps a little earlier, Dr. Hubbard opened
the first store. The store of Ewing & Howard was opened in 1861, at the corner of Fourth and Main streets.
In January, 1868, the Pan Handle railroad was completed. As this line crosses the Lake Erie & Western at Bunker
Hill, the coming of the new railroad added to the growth and prosperity of the town. New additions were laid out
south of the Pan Handle, the first house in that part of the town having been built by Dr. J. A. Meek, in 1866.
Since that time at least ten additions have been made to Bunker Hill.
Little can be learned of this old town. An old atlas of Miami county, published by Kingman Brothers, of Chicago, in 1877, contains a map of Indiana, which shows Busaco as a station on the Lake Erie & Western Railroad, about a mile north of Denver. It was probably one of the towns projected purely as a speculation and perished without leaving a history.
This old town was located on Honey creek, on the southeast quarter of section 22, in Harrison township, and not far from the Jackson township line. A congregation of Wesleyan Methodists and also of the Friends or Quakers had churches here at an early date, but little can be learned of the business enterprises of the town. After the completion of the Pan Handle Railroad and the establishment of Amboy, about a mile way, Cary sank into insignificance.
Chili is the only town of importance in Richland township. It was laid out by Jesse Mendenhall in October, 1839,
and the plat was recorded under the name of New Market. The original plat showed twenty two lots and six streets
- Broadway, North, Third and South, running east and west, and Bluff and Lime, running north and south. One of
the first to locate in the town was Daniel Lander, who built a small store and put in a stock of goods. Mr. Lander
was the first postmaster at Chili and was for many years a justice of the peace. John Belew started a harness shop
while the village was still in its infancy, and in 1845, N. C. Hall opened a store in a log house. Dr. W. J. Chamberlain
located there about the same time and was the first physician to practice his profession in Chili.
Six miles north of Peru, on the Lake Erie & Western Railroad, is the little hamlet of Courter. It was laid out in August, 1869, by R. F. Donaldson, on the northeast quarter of section thirty four, in Jefferson township. The original plat consisted of twenty lots and no additions to the town have ever been made. At one time there was at Courter a general store, a blacksmith shop, a public school, and it was at center of trade for a considerable agricultural district. Courter now consists of a few dwellings and only one train each way daily stops at the station. The few inhabitants are supplied with mail by rural delivery from Peru.
In June, 1869, the Cincinnati, Chicago & Louisville Railroad, popularly known as the "Huckelberry Line," was completed through the northern part of Miami couny and William Deeds built a. warehouse on his farm in Union township, on the line of the new road, for the purpose of handling grain and produce. In September following E. H. Hill opened a general store near the warehouse. The town was regularly laid out July, 1870, by Albert Deeds and Samuel M. Leedy, the original plat consisting of eighty four lots. In December, 1872, Mr. Leedy laid out on addition of twelve lots and Mr. Deeds afterward made an addition of sixteen lots. E. H. Hill was the first postmaster. In 1910 the population was one hundred and twelve. Deedsville has several general stores, a grain elevator, a creamery, a public school house, a money order postoffice, from which one rural route emanates, and does considerable shipping.
The town of Denver was laid out under the supervision of and for Harrison Grimes in August, 1872, about the
time the Eel River railroad was being built through Miami county. The original plat included sixty five lots in
the northeast quarter of section twenty one, north of the Eel River (now the Vandalia) Railroad, and east of the
Lake Erie & Western. In the development of the town it extended into Union and Richland township, which caused
some confusion with regard to taxes, schools, etc., and in response to a petition of the citizens the county' commissioners
changed the township lines so as to throw the town all in Jefferson. Among the earliest residents, after the town
was laid out, were Frank Moody. Asel Griffith, W. H. Howe, David and William Fetrow, and Jeremiah Johns. The first
residence was erected by Mr. Moody, who opened a blacksmith shop, the first industrial concern to be established
in Denver. W. W. Fetrow started the first store and Mr. Griffith built a steam saw mill. Grimes & Charles opened
a general store not long after the town was surveyed, and the firm of Constant Brothers in 1876 established a planing
mill, equipped with machinery for the manufacture of barrel hoops and various articles of wooden ware. Cloud &
Son erected a flour mill in 1880, but about eighteen months later sold out to a stock company. This company in
turn sold the mill to Amey & Newbold, who refitted it with modern machinery.
Rand McNally's atlas of Miami county shows a hamlet called Doyle on the east side of section nine, in Jefferson township, a short distance from the southeast corner of the township, and vouchsafes the information that the inhabitants receive mail by rural delivery from Peru. Strictly speaking, Doyle is not a town. It is merely a siding on the Lake Erie & Western Railroad for the accommodation of the adjacent farmers in the shipment of live stock, etc.
In the southwest corner of Allen township a settlement grew up in an early day, which became known as Five Corners, on account of its location at the intersection of roads leading in five different directions. No town was ever platted there, but the converging roads made it a point easy of access and it became the center of trade for a large territory in the northwestern part of Miami county, as well as for portions of Cass and Fulton counties. About 1857, a large general store was opened at Five Corners by the firm of Moses & Williams, who sold out to Nathan Shackelford some five or six years later. William Harp succeeded Mr. Shackelford, but remained only about eighteen months, when he closed out his stock. A postoffice was established in 1859, with Nathaniel Bryant as postmaster. After the railroad was completed to Macy the postoffice was removed there, trade was diverted to the railroad town and in a few years all that remained of the old settlement at Five Corners was the Methodist church and a few dwellings.
On October 20, 1849, Alexander Galbraith filed for record a plat of a town known as Florence, located on the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter of section 29, township 26, range 4, on the north bank of Big Pipe creek. This town was situated about half way between the present town of Bunker Hill and the old village of Leonda. The plat shows sixty six lots, but it does not appear that any buildings were ever erected in Florence.
This is one of the old towns of Miami county. It was founded about 1840, by Adam E. Rhodes, who settled upon
the site in 1835. The original plat consisted of twenty nine lots and two squares in sections 12 and 13 of range
4 and sections 7 and 18 in range 5, a little northwest of the center of Perry township. Dr. E. H. Sutton located
in the village, about the time it was laid out, and practiced his profession there for some fifteen years. Among
the first residents was a man named Swayzee, who opened the first store. William H Wright started a general store
in 1845 and Zera Sutherland began in the same line of business about a year later. Other early merchants were William
D Smith, James T. McKim and O. P. Mohler. Peter Onstatt removed his blacksmith shop from his farm, about two miles
and a half southeast, and was the first to follow that vocation at Gilead. Samuel Essig had established a small
tanyard on the site of the village as early as 1837, and it was one of the primitive industries. Caple Brothers
built a steam saw mill in 1868, and A. M. Grogg and his partner made some of the plows used by the early farmers
of Perry township. Joseph Watie was for many years a general merchant. He sold his store in 1913 but is still postmaster.
The old town of Grandview was laid out by J. M. Dickson and John Wilson on June 1, 1854, on sections 7 and 8, township 25, range 5, about a mile east of the present village of McGrawsville. The original plat showed fifty lots and was filed for record on August 1, 1854, by Benjamin F. Shaw. The town never fulfilled the hopes of its founders and seems to have perished without leaving any history.
Situated near the line dividing sections 3 and 10, in the northwest corner of Perry township, was the old village of Hooversburg, the history of which has been practically lost. About all that can be learned of it is that it was named for one of the pioneer families in that part of the county and that it was a trading point in an early day. A postoffice was once located at Hooversburg, but the people in that neighborhood now receive their mail by rural delivery from the office at Wagoner.