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


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.

Miami county was no exception to the rule, though it is quite probable that fewer towns within her borders were projected on a purely speculative basis than in some other localities. Examination of old plats and atlases show over forty towns, nearly one half of which are no longer in existence. The complete list of these towns and villages includes Amboy, Anson, Bennett's Switch, Birmingham, Brownell, Bunker Hill, Busaco, Cary, Chili, Converse, Courter, Deedsville, Denver, Doyle, Five Corners, Florence, Gilead, Grandview, Hooversburg, Leonda, Loree, McGrawsville, Macy, Mexico, Miami, Miamisport, Nead, New Santa Fe, Niconza, North Grove, Paw Paw, Peoria, Perrysburg, Peru, Pettysville, Pierceburg, Ridgeview, Santa Fe, Snow Hill, South Peru, Stockdale, Stringtown, Union City, Urbana, Wagoner, Waupecong, Wheatville and Wooleytown. The history of the city of Peru - the only city in Miami county - is given in the preceding chapter, and below will be found the history of the various towns and villages in the above list, though in the case of some of those that are no longer in existence, it has been found impossible to secure enough information concerning them to give a comprehensive account of their career.


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.

The first physician to locate in the town was Dr. J. A. Baldwin, who began practice there in the fall of 1868. After him came Dr. H. D. Hattery. Dr. John Wright and Dr. E. K. Friermood. Some of these doctors remained but a short time. Dr. Isaac Carey was also one of the early practitioners at Amboy

In November, 1871, B. B. Lamb laid out an addition to the original plat and not long afterward a second addition was platted by E. C. Fellows. Reynolds' addition to the town was made in August, 1875. These additions were soon settled upon and improved and in 1881 the town of Amboy was incorporated.

The first schoolhouse was a two story building, with two large school rooms, which was erected in 1872 by public donations at a cost of $3,300 and was known as the Academy. Subsequently it was leased to the authorities of Jackson township for a graded school. A few years later the township erected a second school building, in the same section of the town, at a cost of $1,500. It was not long until the demand for better school accommodations resulted in the sale of both the old buildings and the erection of a new one, at a cost of over $25,000. During the school year of 1912-13 seven teachers were employed in the Amboy schools, three of them in the commissioned high school department, and the amount paid in salaries was $4,100.

Amboy has two banks with a combined capital of $23,500 and deposits of about $150,000. The town also has a local or Home Telephone Company, a large canning factory, a creamery, a flour mill, a lumber yard and a score or more of well stocked mercantile establishments. In 1910 the population was 521, an increase of 119 since the census of 1900. It is one of the live towns of Miami county and is the principal trading center and shipping point for a large and rich agricultural district in the western part of Jackson and the eastern part of Harrison townships.


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.

The first physician was Dr. Hubbard, who also was the first merchant. It is related to him that he carried his medicines in a small tin pail and that he was never in "too big a hurry," on his way to visit a patient, to stop long enough to trade horses. The second physician was Dr. J. A. Meek, who located there in the spring of 1858 and continued in practice for many years.

About the close of the Civil war Samuel Valentine started a tin shop, and a little later a man named Lane began business as a cabinetmaker. The first hotel was opened in 1868 by George Larimer, near the junction of the Lake Erie and Pan Handle railroads. William Hendricks' sawmill was built about the same time. In 1870 Jasper H. Keyes started a newspaper called the Village News, and in 1871 the first hardware store was opened by C. T. Miller. During the next five years a number of new business houses were established in Bunker Hill. An election was held on October 21, 1882, to vote on the question of incorporating the town. At that election eighty four voted in favor of the incorporation and thirty seven against it. The county commissioners canvassed the result of the election on November 6, 1882, and the same day ordered the incorporation of Bunker Hill.

The town was divided into three election districts and the first election of town officers occurred on November 15, 1882. Robert C. Foor, H. P. McDowell and Cyrus Baker were chosen trustees; J. A. Meek, clerk and treasurer; William Jones, marshal; and John Bazner was appointed the first street commissioner.

A Baptist church was organized here some years before the town was laid out; a Methodist church was also organized at an early date; the Evaneglical church had its beginning about 1859, the Catholic church was organized in 1874. All these denominations have comfortable houses of worship, except the Catholics, which parish has been discontinued.

A two story brick school house was built in 1868, and subsequently an addition of two rooms was added. This building remained in use until about 1895, when the school board decided to erect a new one. Bonds to the amount of $7,000 were issued by the board and the new building - a two story brick, 55 feet square - was erected by the contractors, Baker & Davis, for $6,740. During the school years of 1912-13 six teachers were employed in the public schools, three of whom were in the high school department, and the amount received by the teachers in salaries was $3,364.

Bunker Hill has a bank with a capital stock of $25,000, a canning factory, a number of well stocked stores, the usual quota of hotels and restaurants found in towns of its size, lodges of several of the leading secret orders, and in 1910 reported a population of 668, a gain of 100 during the preceding decade. In addition to the Lake Erie & Western and Pan Handle railroads, a line of the Indiana Union Traction Company passes through the town and adds materially to the transportation facilties. In point of population, Bunker Hill is the fourth town of the county, being exceeded only by the city of Peru and the towns of Converse and South Peru.


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.

When the Eel River railroad, now the Vandalia, was completed through the county in 1872, the town of Denver sprang up at the crossing of the Lake Erie & Western, about three miles west of Chili, which detracted somewhat from the growth of the latter place. In 1886, the Peru & Detroit railroad was built from Peru to Chili, which offset, to some extent, the competition offered by Denver. This road is now used by the Winona Interurban line, which connects Chili directly with the county seat.

A Methodist church was organized about the time the town was laid out and subsequently a Baptist congregation was formed. Both have neat church edifices and are in a prosperous condition. There is a graded school here, so that the educational advantages are as good as in many towns of greater size.

In 1900 the United States census reported Chili as having a population of two hundred and forty five and ten years later it was two hundred and seventy five. The principal business enterprises are the mill and two general stores. Chili is a trading center and shipping point for a considerable portion of the rich Eel river valley. It has a telephone exchange, telegraph and express offices, etc.

CONVERSE on seperate page.


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.

Denver College was founded in 1876, a building was erected and school was opened with every indication of success, but after a somewhat varied career the company was disbanded and the building was turned over to the public school authorities.

In November, 1883, Dr. O. F. Snook issued the first number of the Denver Sun, the first newspaper to be published in the town An account of this newspaper and its successors will be found in the chapter on Educational Development.

In 1873 the Denver Methodist Episcopal church was organized and a house of worship was erected the same year. Later the Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists organized congregations and built church edifices.

The Denver of today has a bank with a capital stock of $10,000, a cooperative telephone company, a large basket factory, several good mercantile establishments, a money order postoffice with two rural delivery routes, a good public school building, and ships large quantities of grain and other farm products. Several attempts have been made to incorporate the town, the last in the winter of 1913-14, but so far all have failed of realization. The population in 1910 was eight hundred and fifty.


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 Methodists organized a church at Gilead as early as 1843 and three years later a Presbyterian congregation was formed. A Masonic lodge was organized in 1866.

After the completion of the Indianapolis. Peru & Chicago Railroad, and the Eel River Railroad, the village of Gilead began to show signs of decline. It remained the postoffice and trading point, however, for a considerable territory in the northeastern part of the county, and upon the completion of the Winona. Interurban Railway a few years ago the village took on the appearance of renewed activity. In 1910 the population was reported as being one hundred and sixty. The principal business enterprises are the saw mill and two general stores. Gilead has a good public school building and a number of neat homes.


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.

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