History of Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana (Part 1 of 2)
From: History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana
Their People, Industries and Institutions
B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1914


Without being positive as to the exact date of the coming of the first settlers to what is now known as Bloomington, it may be stated for a certainty that such settlers made their advent here as early as 1815-16, and possibly white men were here a year or so before these dates. The Indian power in all Indiana was crushed by the decisive battle of Tippecanoe in the autumn of art, at Battle Ground, near the present city of Lafayette. But it took a few years to fully satisfy the would be immigrants that no further trouble with the red men would ensue. There has been, and is still extant, those partial evidences from old settlers that there were a few families who braved the dangers of this county between 1810 and 1811, but this is purely traditional. It is believed, too, that if such settlement was effected that early that Bloomington township had its share of pioneer men and women. As late as 1816 this county was all an untamed wilderness, without boundary or surveys, inhabited by wild animals and half subdued savages. All of the county north of the old Indian boundary was yet the property of the Indians, and so remained until the treaty of St. Mary's, Ohio, in October, 1818. It was then ceded to the government as a part of the "New Purchase." By the time of the first land entries at Bloomington, in 1816, there were a score of families already residing here. Among those who entered land here during the first four or five years after the first land sale - in fact all who entered land during that period - are the following, with the sections of land and year of entry:

David Rogers, section 33, 1816. Joseph Taylor. section 33, 1816; George Ritchey, section 33, 1816. George Hedrick. section 33. 1816; George Ketchum. section 6, 1816: Henry Wampler, section 6. 1816. Adam Bower. section 6, 1816; Thomas Smith. section 7, 1816; William Julian. section 7. 1816; William J. Adair. section 7. 1816; George Parks. section 8, 1816: John Kell, section 17. 1816; James Parks. section 17, 1816. John Owens. section 18. 1816. David Stout, section 19. 1816. Samuel Caldwell. section 19, 1816; Roderick Rawlins, section 20, 1816; Joseph Taylor, section 20, 1816; James Parks, section 20, 1816; George Hall. section 21, 1816; David Raymond, section 21, 1816; Jacob Renderbach, section 25, 1816. All of the following came in 1816; Ebenezer Daggett, section 27; James Borland, section 27; Gideon Frisbee, section 28; John Lee, section 28; William Matlock, section 28; Samuel Camphries, section 28; Thomas Graham, section 29; James Clark, section 29; Abraham Appler, section 29; Christopher Eslinger, section 3o; Henry Wampler, section 32; Henry Rodgers, section 34; John Thompson, section 34; Wheeler Matlock, section 34; Samuel Scott, section 34; William Jackson, section 35; John Jackson, section 35; Thomas Heady, section 36; John Griffith, section 15, 1817; James Matlock, section 18, 1817; James Wood, section 19, 1817, and all of the following came in 1817: John Buskirk, section 25; Lawrence Smoyer, section 29; Samuel Rogers, section 3o; James Wood, section 30; Titan Kemble, section 31; Simon Chauvin, section 31; Chesley D. Bailey, section 32; Robertson Graham, section 32; Granville Ward, section 35; N. Fletcher, section 35. In 1818 came William Goodwin to section 13; Thomas Barger, section 19; Abraham Buskirk, section 24; Stephen P. Sealls, section 26; O. F. Barker, section 3o; Ebenezer Dickey, section 32; in 1820 came George Whisenard, section 6; Thonias Heady, section 24, 1821. These were the only entries in this township previous to 1822.


Bloomington, the seat of justice of Monroe county, is beautifully situated fifty seven miles southwest of Indianapolis, at the junction of the "Monon" and Illinois Central railway lines, on almost the highest elevation in Indiana, in the midst of an elegant country of gently rolling lands, here and there breaking into picturesque hills and romantic valleys, ever a feast to the eye of the beholder. The census of the United States in 1910 placed the center of population in the United States at a point within the city limits of Bloomington, the Marker being a few feet from the Showers Brothers Company's great furniture factory.

The first entries of land in which now includes the present city of Bloomington, all in sections 32 and 33, township 9, range 1. and each for a quarter section, were filed by the following persons, on dates given; George Ritchey, September 26, 1816; George Hedrick, same date; David Rogers, same date; Joseph Taylor, same date; Henry Wampler same date; Chesley Bailey, February 5, 1817; Robertson Graham, May 26, 1817; Ebenezer Dickey, February 12, 1818.

It is likely that no one lived on the town site until 1816, at which time both Rogers and Graham built log houses. It is usually believed that these pioneer cabins were erected in 1817. In June, 1818, when the first lots were laid out, a wheat crop was growing on land purchased of Mr. Rogers. David Rogers entered the southwest quarter of section 33, on which a portion of the town was platted, but Jonathan Rogers afterward obtained a part interest in the land, as his name appears upon the deed which conveyed the land to Monroe county.

The town of Bloomington was ordered platted by the county commissioners April to, 1818, and it was by the first board named "Bloomington." The county agent was ordered to oversee the work. He was instructed to make the public square measure two hundred and seventy six feet, and to lay out lots sixty six by one hundred and thirty two feet, and the streets eighty two and a half feet wide. The number of lots to be platted was left to the agent of the county. The first public sale of lots was advertised to take place at auction June 22, 1818, the notice of such auction was ordered published in the Western Sun, of Vincennes; the Louisville Correspondent, the Argus of Western America, the Western Eagle, of Madison. and the Liberty Hall, of Cincinnati. Jonathan Nichols was appointed to survey the town plat. The county records contain the following interesting order; "On motion of Bartlett Woodward, ordered that the agent of this county procure one barrel of whisky and have it at the sale of the lots in Bloomington." This was evidently thought as a stimulater to bidders for lots - something to nerve up the innerman, as it were! That the authorities were correct in this it needs only to be seen that the lot sales reached the large amount of $14,326.85 the first day of the sale. That might have been a wise move at that day, but today it would not work with the same results. It will doubtless be of interest to know who purchased these first Bloomington town lots, as many of the family names still are popular in this county and Indiana. They included John Scott, D. Thompson, Christian Eppinger, John Keys, Arthur Harris, W. A. Beatty, W. P. Anderson, William Lowe, Robinson Graham, David Sears. Floyd Cummings, Samuel Coleman, James Borland, George Hedrick, W. D. Hoof, David Rogers, James Dunning, James Newman, Jonathan Rogers, Thomas Smith, B: Miller, W. D. McCullough, Jacob B. Lowe, William Curl, Henry Wampler, Coleman Pruitt, Elias Goodwin. Abner Goodwin. Solomon Bowers, John Owens, Samuel Scott, Sr., Nathan Julian, Isham Sumter, Hezekiah Woodford, Benjamin Freeland, George Richey, David Matlock, Lewis Noel, Samuel Haslett, James Denny, John Buskirk, Z. Williams, Moses Williams, T. B. Clark, Eli Lee, Thomas Lee, William Hardin,' Nelson Moore, Ebenezer McDonald, J. W. Lee, Aquilla Rogers, John Foster, Thomas Hadey, Granville Ward, James Dickins, Stephen S. Bigger, Susannah Lee; Jonathan. Nichols, Reuben Fullen, Martha Brown, W. B. Brown, Joshua Howe and James Brown. The land upon which the town had been located was purchased from Jonathan and David Rogers and Robert Graham. The Roger brothers were paid one thousand two hundred dollars for such land and Mr. Graham nine hundred dollars for one hundred and fifty acres soon after the first sale of lots. At the original sale of lots Jonathan Nichols, surveyor, laid out two hundred and eight lots and received thirty cents each for his surveying services. Benjamin Parks was allowed, as agent for the county, thirty three dollars and fifty cents for the whisky used at the lot sale. The spirits were received from Whisenand. Robinson Graham was chain carrier; Aquilla Rogers, chain carrier; John Owen, chain carrier; Lewis Noel was "crier" or auctioneer. James Parks was clerk of the sale. Jonathan Rogers was "tapster" and dealt out the whisky. and was allowed one dollar a day for his services as bartender. There was a shortage of about fifteen per cent. when the lots come to he finally settled for. A few sold for over two hundred dollars each - not many so high, however. The sale was "spirited," of course, but the county lost about thirty per cent. of the purchase price before the collections were all made.

The cash receipts from the town lot sales from November, 1820, to November. 1821, were $3,860. Of this amount $3,207 was expended. In February, 1822, the agent reported in his possession notes from the sale of lots to the amount of over $18,000. This fund was the most extensive and useful in the county's early history and organization.

By Ulysses S. Hanna, City Engineer.

In 1818 the county commissioners of the newly organized county of Monroe purchased two quarter sections of land, bounded by the township line near Third street on the south, by the quarter section lines of Dunn street on the east, in Tenth street on the north and on the west side of Oak street on the west.

Jonathan Nichols, grandfather of the members of the present firm of Nichols & Nichols, architects, was employed by the commissioners to lay out and establish the town site of Bloomington for the seat of justice of the new county. He was ordered to make the streets eighty two and one half feet wide, alleys, twelve feet wide and the lots sixty six feet wide by a hundred and thirty two feet long, the lots to face on the four main streets bordering the court house square, originally called North, South, East and West Main streets, now knowfi as Sixth street, Fifth street or Kirkwood avenue, Walnut street and College avenue.

He first located the court house square on the rather prominent knoll, as it then lay in the cornfield that it was, two hundred and seventy six feet square. He evidently used the compass to determine the north and south line without making any correction for the declination of the needle, the streets now running about five degrees east of true north. The four corners of the square were marked by stone a foot square and six feet long set in the ground as far as the limestone under the soil would permit. It happened that the southwest corner of the square fell over a crevice in the limestone and this stone might probably be still in place if it had not been removed in 1864 to place a Lincoln flag pole in the hole it occupied. The stub of such a, pole was found at this point, well preserved, and a part of it was removed when the brick pavement was placed about the square in 1910. Frank Bishop is one yet living who saw the stone removed at the time of the flag pole raising, and he states that the stone was afterwards broken up and used for macadam on the streets. If these stones had been smaller and less in the way as obstructions they might all have remained in place to the present time.

Mr. Nichols first laid out three rows of blocks two hundred and seventy six feet square, each containing eight lots and a twelve foot alley each way through the center of the block. These first platted blocks lie between Third street and Sixth street. He was ordered to add two more rows of blocks on the north, thus extending the plat to what is now Eighth street. The four corners of this original plat of in lots were at some time marked by corner stones of the same size as those marking the corners of the public square. These stones were yet in position in. 1848 when County Agent Tanner laid out the east fractional lots, and such a stone is still in its place at Eighth and Jackson streets. David Hughes has stated that he remembers the one as it stood at Third and Jackson streets when he was a boy at play about that place. In a search for evidence of the stone on Third street. near Dunn street, at the time of the construction of Third street in 1911. a hole in the very red clay two and one half feet across and four feet deep, filled in with light and dark streaks of soil, with clay, was found one hundred and fifty five feet west of the quarter section line in Dunn street where the stone was located according to County Agent Tanner's description. The stone at the northeast corner of the plat of in lots, on Eighth street near Dunn street. was probably removed some time soon after 1848 in the construction of vats for the old Alexander tannery, which occupied the lots on either side of the stone. These old vats were cut through When constructing the Dunn street drain across Eighth street in 1907, near the position of the stone as given by Tanner, One hundred and twenty seven and a half feet west of the quarter section line in Dunn street.

These three hundred and fifty two in lots did not occupy all of the two quartet Sections purchesed, in any direction froth the public square; and the county agent at once proceeded to layout out lots of various sizes much larger than the in lots. Seventeen Were platted on the west in 1819, numbered from 1 to 17, nine on the south, numbered from 18 to 26; and twenty on the north; numbered froth 27 to 46, exclusive of Graham's Reserve, a parcel of land held by Mr. Graham, the former owner of the west quarter section. In 1848 County Agent Tanner platted what remained east of the in lots into six lots numbered from 353 to 358, a continuation of the in lot numbers Stead of the out lot Minters, although the lots, excepting 358, were much more than twice the size of the in lots. The plats of some of these out lots as they occur in the records do not show the Signatures and acknowledgments of the county agent and because of this fact some litigation has arisen in which certain property holders have taken the interesting position of claiming title to their property by reason of the plat and at the same time denying the Srights of the public to the easements for streets as shown by the plat. Most of the out lots West and north have been replatted into city lots.

In 1820 the west half of section 4 and the east half of section 5, in township 8 north, range 1 west, which lie immediately south of the two quarter sections purchased for the site of the town of Bloomington, were platted into the Seminary Square, containing ten acres, the first site of Indiana University, where the city high school is now located, and eighty seminary square lots surrounding it. These lots were of different sizes from those immediately abutting the Square, which are about the size of two ordinary city lots, up to twenty seven acres, the area of lot 80 in the southeast corner of the plat. Very many of these lots have been sub divided, either platted or sold by metes and bounds. into building lots.

Similar amounts of land east and west of these first seminary lots were soon afterwards platted into seminary lots and many of these have also been sub divided into building lots. Most, if not all, of the corners of these seminary lots were marked by corner stones, a great many of which are still in place. The first set of these lots platted was "circumscribed" by an alley which is now Henderson street on the east and Walker street on the west. Both of these streets are thirty three feet in width and measurements of the lots and locations of the section lines show that the alley was the same width on the north and on the south of the lots. The alley on the north was abandoned because of the platting of the south fractional lots just north of it along Third street, thus putting two streets only fifty three feet apart. The description given in McCullouch's Addition states that this alley was afterwards vacated by an act of the Legislature. The south fractional lots are given on the plat as eighty links in width. The part of the alley occupied by the owners of these fractionals, as shown by the lines as now located, increases the width of the fractionals to about seventy six feet and in this way the original width of eighty links has come to be confused with eighty feet and many deeds have passed for this width, resulting even in some litigation.

The chain used by Surveyor Nichols in laying out these original plats was evidently much worn, so much so that there is a surplus of about one to six inches to the lot of sixty six feet. The surplus is greatest on the level portions of the plats, as on Dunn street, and is least on Eighth street, where there were four considerable hills and valleys over which to survey. The presence of this varying surplus has been the cause of much confusion as to lines and in some cases has led surveyors to miss the original location of a lot line by several feet. Different surveyors have gotten quite different locations for the same lot and many people, not knowing the cause of the daring discrepancies, have come to have no faith at all in some surveyors in particular and very little faith in surveyors in general. An effort is now being made to locate the original lines accurately and corner stones are being placed on the lot comers at the street intersections so that purchasers of its can see the lines of the property they are buying. Very naturally the owners of many propertied that have encroached on the streets. particularly owners of Corner lots who wish to occupy them with two or three houses, complain that the stones injure the sale of the property, Which is probably quite correct. On the other hand the city authorities feel that in justice to the public and to purchasers of real estate the stones should plainly mark the lines, so that within perhaps the next fifty years when the greater part of the origipal in lots come to be used for business properties instead of for residences the streets will be ample in width for the traffic that is certain to develop.


Much of the population, at the date of organization, lay in the neighborhood of the respective county seat town. Many citizens visited the spot set apart by the board for the seat of justice. The streets running north and South, beginning on the west, were named Poplar, Cherry, Spring, West, East, Walnut, Blue and Buck. Those running east and west, beginning on the south, were called Water, South, North and Washington. Since then some of these street names have been changed. The settlement of the town was indeed wonderful. By the end of 1818 not less than thirty families resided in the place in hastily built log cabins, or rude frame houses, from the saw mill of old Mr. Blair. A log court house had been built in which was taught the first school in the county. Stores and blacksmith shops had been: set in operation; tailors, saloons, hotels, and an irregular stage service had been instituted - at least they received their mail (once in a while). The town had a possible population of a hundred and fifty souls. In 1820 the population had reached three hundred.

The first store had been opened in 1818 by William Hardin, who had about a hundred dollars worth of general goods and a large stock in whisky. He also kept a tavern. The second tavern was by George Whisenand, and he also handled liquors at his tavern bar. Separate stores were soon opened by Messrs. Howe, Owens and Batterton. Liquor in those days was always classed as "wet groceries." In 1824 the population had reached quite the five hundred mark, and Bloomington was known as one of the best towns in this portion of the state.

About 1820 Austin Seward commenced the manufacture of wagons, as did also Benjamin Noel. William Alexander built a tannery in the east part of town, and Cob Joseph Campbell started one a mile west of town. Blair & Lowe owned a horse mill and David Tucker owned another. Here grain was ground in a most crude manner, and bolted by hand, the owner of the grain doing the turning act. The toll was one sixth. Thacker's mill supplied his small distillery with grain. About a barrel of whisky was produced per day. A man named Garner conducted a saw mill near the college grounds, the propelling force being cattle or horses on a tread mill. Ellis Stone started a carding mill in 1820. and this was operated by means of a tread wheel. He occupied his log building for more than twenty years. He pinned up his packages of rolls with thorns gathered from the woods by boys whom he hired. In 1824 Haws Armstrong was operating a fulling mill, which he had started in 1820. He also made a superior article of gunpowder. Where the high school building later stood a tannery was operated by Samuel Dodds. In 1823 John and Samuel Orchard started a carding machine, run by ox power. They also manufactured much linseed oil. Seward made axes, plows and wagons. In 1823 E. C. Moberly kept a tavern and J. H. Lucas opened his store that year. Lucas was uneducated, but ran for the Legislature against William Alexander, and by reason of his interesting stories - some smutty - he captured the baser element and was elected to the office. The old ledgers of the firms of A. & J. Owens, Henry Batterton and J. O. Howe show that goods sold at three times as much as they brought thirty years ago in Monroe county. Calico (prints) were from twenty five to fifty cents; while wheat, corn and oats were worth from twenty to forty cents per bushel. Good money was scarce. Paper money was plenty; but was worth much less than face value. Silver and gold were very seldom, in circulation. Small denominations were scarce in silver for years, and quarters were cut in half and the pieces called "sharp shins" and passed current for six and a quarter cents, or twelve and a half cents, according to their size. Farmers, however, could barter their produce for goods, the demand always regulating the supply and prices paid. This forced merchants into pork packing and grain buying and to the construction of flat boats for the conveyance of produce to the Southern markets.,


The present generation knows nothing, save by reading such accounts as the following, concerning the early day militia training and muster days. From an old reminiscence of Bloomington we quote the following: "Bloomington was the rendezvous for the general muster of the county militia once every year. In addition to that, there were company and regiment musters. though the battalion or general muster was by far the most universally attended. On these occasions old Brigadier General Lowe donned his uniform and turned up continental hat, buckled on his sword, and conducted the muster in person. On that day, men were free that is, they were privileged from arrest, except for crime. They could fight, run horses. drink all kinds of. liquid hell, and rave through the county seat at will, on the public streets and grounds, and no one could molest and make them afraid. The old muster, or parade, ground was two or three or more blocks east of the public square, that portion of the town then being open. The muster was little better than a farce, and Was chiefly. enjoyed for the sports invariably present. Wrestling, jumping and shooting, at a mark were among the popuhr sports. At one of these gatherings two men became involved in a question of honor and with true Kentucky spirit proposed to settle the matter with a fist fight. One was an experienced fighter, the other was not, and both were athletic, full of pluck and wind. Both stripped, to the waist and the experienced man stepped into a door nearby, where stood a barrel of soft soap, which he quickly smeared over the upper half of his body and resumed his position ready for the fight. The slight delay led friends to intercede and the fight was compromised at this juncture, though the experienced man refused to withdraw unless his antagonist paid for the soap. which cost a picayune, which was accordingly done."

Many another savage and protracted fight was witnessed on the public square in those early times. Election days were similarly observed. Now an occasional encampment, or annual drill by the National Guard, is about all we knew pf military affairs, in a local way.THE

TOWN FROM 1830 TO 1840.

In 1830 the population of Bloomington was not less than seven hundred. At that time the Indiana College had a large attendance and a large corps of instructors, with a superior curriculum. This institution, which was built in 1823, was the pride of the town and the means of greatly and rapidly increasing its population, enterprise and material wealth. The town also boasted a flourishing newspaper, if such an issue can be said to have been flourishing. The citizens had incorporated the village a number of years before, and this was another source of joy and congratulation. In addition to all this, there were numerous factories of leather, liquor, domestic and farm implements, flour, tailor goods, oil and numerous stores, shops, offices, mechanics, artisans, tradesmen, educators, professional men and speculators. The incorporated town of Bloomington was indeed a prosperous place.

During the decade just named the place grew to one of about one thousand population; the County Seminary had been built in 1833; females only, at that date, could be admitted. The State University had a scholarship of about two hundred; there Were two lively newspapers after the middle of the decade; there were four churches and large congregations. Merchants had greatly enlarged their stocks and had commenced to pack pork; the. Sewards were doing a large business in all kinds of iron work; D. Batterton was making large quantities of stoves and hollow ware; Phillip Murphy & Co. were manufacturing a variety of men's hats that found ready sale here and elsewhere over this section of Indiana. J, McCullough was tanner and currier; S. P. Seall was mine host at the Globe inn; William Lowe was postmaster; T. J. Ryan manufactured saddles; the master tailors were Abram Funk, W. J. Flurry, A. Labertew, S. T. Hardesty, who at that date signed a schedule of prices for cutting and making clothes; all branches were well represented. In 1837 the old market house was erected, by citizens paying two hundred dollars and the county paying a like amount. Here it was that town folk went to market, instead of to groceries as today. This market house continued until late in the fifties. A saxe horn band was organized and made the streets lively with its own, peculiar music.

FROM 1840 TO 1850.

Bloomington kept on growing. It was during this decade that the temperance struggle was prosecuted with great vigor, so much so that most of the liquor dealers were driven from the. place. The leading industries were the carding of wool, by Thomas Hardesty; Major Hite's steam flouring mill and carding mill; McCrum's grist mill, the numerous tanneries, wagon and iron works: saddle and harness shops, hatters, etc. The old town incorporation had been revived in 1847, and the census showed a population of about twelve hundred souls.

FROM 1850 To 1860.

It was during this era that Bloomington's first bank was opened, and the woolen factory of Mr. Holtzman was established and doing a large, profitable business. His advertisement in the county newspaper read as follows: "BLOOMINGTON FACTORY - The undersigned wishes to inform the citizens of Monroe and the adjoining counties, that we have built a large addition to our factory. and put up steam power; we are now ready to receive any quantity of wool, to be carded into roils or spun into yarn, at the following prices; For carding white, six and one fourth cents per pound. or one sixth of the wool. Mixed, eight and one third. For carding and spinning, seventeen cents per pound, if not reeled; if reeled, twenty cents. All wool should he well washed and picked. The following is the hest method for washing fine wool: Fill a large kettle with water, bring to near a boiling heat, add salt to make it a strong brine, put in some of the wool, not enough of double coverlets and carpetings of a variety of patterns. The work will with water, adding a little more salt. We will also continue the manufacture rinse in clean water: do not empty the kettle. keep up the heat, keep it filled to crowd the kettle, stir gently three or four minutes, take out the wool and be done by experienced workmen. We do it promptly and must have prompt pay.
"Blomington, Ind., May, 1838.

The extensive mills of Mr. Helton carried this notice to the public:

"BLOOMINGTON MILLS. - We would announce to the citizens of the surrounding country that these mills are in complete running order, and would solicit their patronage. We shall endeavor to do our 'custom work' with the utmost dispatch. Having in our employ men of experience and skill and having most improved machinery, we flatter ourselves that we are able to give general satisfaction, both as to quality and quantity. We will grind, either for toll or exchange, flour for wheat. Terms; One sixth toil. Exchange: Thirty eight pounds of flour for white wheat, and thirty six for red wheat, and a half bushel of bran for each merchantable bushel of wheat. Grists to be ground we would prefer to be eight or ten bushels, or more. 50,000 bushels of wheat wanted!!! The highest market price paid for wheat and corn. Flour, meal and feed always on hand, and for sale. Extra family flour from selected wheat, put up in half and quarter barrel bags, and ALWAYS WARRANTED.
"Bloomington, Ind., August 20, 1858.


Mails were sent and received in the decade between 1855 and 1860 as follows; "Arrival and departure from the Bloomington office - From New Albany (by railroad) arrives 5:25 p. m., and departs north immediately.

"From Michigan City (by railroad) arrives at 10:25 a. m.; departs south at 10:45 a. m.

"From Columbus (by two horse hack), arrives every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 12 m.: and departs every Monday and Friday at 8 a. m.

"From Indianapolis via Martinsville (by two horse hack), arrives every Tuesday and Friday at 12 m.; and departs same day at I p. m.

"From Point Commerce via White Hall (horseback), arrives every Thursday at 1 p. m.; and departs same day at I:30 p.m."


In the month of August, 1858, the following were the market quotations in Bloomington (from Dunn & Co.'s reports, corrected each Friday): Wheat, 55 to 65 cents: oats, 3o cents; corn, 35 to 40 cents; wheat flour, per hundred pounds, $2; corn meal, per bushel, 40 to 50 cents; potatoes, per bushel, 50 to 75 cents; bacon, per pound, 4 to 7 cents; lard, 7 to 8 cents; butter, 10 to 12 cents; eggs, per dozen, 5 cents; sugar, per pound, 11 to twelve and a half cents; coffee, per pound, 14 to 20 cents.

The prices quoted in August, 1913, are: Wheat, 95 cents; oats, 4o cents; corn, 72 cents; flour, $2.50 per hundred; potatoes. 8o cents; bacon, 18 to 28 cents; lard, 18 cents; butter, 30 cents (best); eggs, 16 cents per dozen; sugar, 6 cents; coffee, 20 to 35 cents.


In 1884 - twenty nine years ago - the following industries were flourishing in Bloomington; Baldridge & Gourley, flouring mills; Gamel Peterson and Joseph Alexander, saw mills; Holtzman Brothers, woolen mills; Waldron, Hill & Co., spoke factory; chair and table factory, Showers, Dodd & Co.; John Waldron, tanner; C. J. McCalla, planing mills; J. H. Garrison. brick yards; George. Seiner, cigar factory.


From an authentic list compiled by the Bloomington Commercial Club in 1912, of 'all industries of importance, we take the liberty to here quote;

The largest single furniture factory in the world, the Showers Brothels Company.

The Home Glove and Mitten Manufacturing Company, established in 1902, burned in 1913 and rebuilt same season. Ten thousand pairs of gloves produced daily, by the employment of eighty hands and Modern machinery.

The Indiana Basket Company, largest in southern Indiana, established in 1907; eighty five persons employed; 600,000 feet of lumber used annually. Fruit baskets, melon and berry crates and packages are the specialties.

The Indiana Creosoting Company. in 1911. treated and Shipped 11,400,000 feet of ties and paving blocks.

The Brown & Smith Battery Works, organized in 1907, make a complete line of storage batteries, including auto, lighting and ignition batteries, telephone exchange batteries, electric lighting service for country homes, and batteries for electric vehicles and trucks. The product of the works goes to every nook and corner of this country and to many foningn lands.

The glass factory of Mr. Nurre, of Cincinnati, was installed about 1912, for making mirrors, glass shelving and glass novelties.

Other important branches of industry include these; Veneer plant, harness factory. two flouring mills, two machine shops, water heater plant, hook bindery, electric and power plant, ice cream factory, ice plant, two daily papers. four saw mills, three planing mills, foundry, four printing offices, gas plant, two power laundries, crecreameryashing machine, factory, broom factory.

In round numbers, the amount of two million dollars' worth of manufactured products are shipped from Bloomington annually.


The Showers Brothers Company, of Bloomington, is one which perhaps ranks with the stone industry in making thrp*eputation of Bloomington and Monroe county, broug one of the largest furniture factories in the country. This mammoth establishment originated in a small shed in the eastern part of Bloomington in the year 1868. The two brothers. William N. and James D. Showers, began the work with equipment which consisted of a small upright engine and a few second hand tools. The industry grew and grew, until today the yearly output of the immense factory equals fifteen hundred thousand dollars. James D. Showers retired from the business in 1903, giving his interest to his brother and partner, William N. Showers. The latter is now the president of the company and still takes an active part in the conduct of the daily business routine.

The slogan which has been used by the company in its advertising explains well their methods. It is "From Tree to the Trade." The forestry department attends to the securing of the native timber, and then, step by step, until the finished product is sold. the work is executed by Showers men. In the first place. most of the timber used is obtained from lands owned directly by the company. The Logs are sawed in a mill owned by the Showers Company and which is one of the largest mills in the state, and later are converted into veneer in the company's own veneer plant. From here the timber goes into the two great factories with its own glueing rooms. machine rooms. cabinet rooms, carving rooms finishing rooms, power plant, storage warehouses and loading platforms capable of reaching twenty four cars at one time. The mirrors are also made by a mirror plate factory operated in connection with the main plant. The articles of furniture are designed by the company's own designer.

It is estimated that millions of feet of rough logs lie in the log yards adjacent to the factory, with a value of seventy five thousand dollars. The, veneer mill to which these logs are taken after being sawed has a capacity of twenty five million feet of veneers annually, and the glueing rooms make up over four million feet of drawer bottoms and back panels every year. One million feet of beveled French plate glass mirrors are made annually in the mirror plate plant. The dry kilns, where the lumber is seasoned after leaving the saw mill, has a capacity of four hundred and forty two thousand feet of lumber. In the finishing rooms thirty thousand dollars' worth of varnishing and polishing materials are used every year. Fully one thousand men are employed by the Showers Brothers Company, and the monthly payroll reaches a total of forty thousand dollars.

The buildings which make the Showers factory are models of scientific and well appointed construction. The walls are of brick and concrete, with metal and glass saw tooth roofs. Electricity is the motive and lighting power, and heat is supplied by steam. The ventilating system in every building insures a complete change of air every four minutes. All waste product is consumed, all sawdust and refuse being conveyed to the boilers by means of a blower system. The factory is practically fireproof on account of the very efficient sprinkler system installed, which reaches every corner of every building. Lines of piping are suspended from the ceiling every twelve feet apart, with sprinkler heads every ten feet apart. In case of a fire the heat would nielt the sprinkler heads next to the fire and a stream of water would result. Every department of the two great factories is connected with a private branch telephone exchange, and thus constant and instant communication may be had from any given point to another. In all, the two factories have a floor space equaling an area of fifteen acres, a truly stupendous establishment. Railroad facilities are excellent. there is a good loyal spirit among the hundreds of employes. the owners are liberal, and everything tends to make the Showers Brothers Company not only one of the largest furniture factories in the world, but one of the easiest Of operation.

The present officers of the company are: William N. Showers, president: W. Edward Showers, general manager; Sanford F. Teter, secretary and treasurer, and Charles A. Sears. superintendent.

[To part 2 of Bloomington, Indiana History]

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