History of Richland Township, Monroe County, Indiana
From: History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana
Their People, Industries and Institutions
B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1914


The land of Richland township is typical of Monroe county. Argillaceous hills and bluffs, with semi sterile soil; lowlands, where the agriculturist thrives; timber tracts, which are rapidly being robbed of their treasures - these are the predominating varieties of ground in this township. Sand, clay, lime and alluvium are the main elements of the rich lowlands, the alluvium very often in great quantities. thus affording a rich, yellow soil. Limestone is found near the surface in great strata in various portions of the township.

The oolitic limestones of Richland township are very valuable to the community. Not only are they valuable for their intrinsic worth, but by reason of their accessibility. There are many varieties of this limestone found in various quarries, specific mention of which is made in another chapter of this book. Briefly, however, there are dark gray. shaly and silicious stone known. as the Warsaw division, Lower St. Louis group; light gray, fine grained oolitic; dark blue oolitic; the Upper St. Louis group, which is hard, light gray and silicious. resembling the lithographic limestone of Harrison county. There may be found also Chester sandstone and iron ore deposits. Keokuk limestone, both buff and light and dark blue, and knob sandstone and shale. These beds of stone lie at different depths and are sandwiched between various geological elements such as clayey soil. ferruginous soil and arenaceous ground.


The most of the settlement of Richland township occurred prior to and in 1816, or as soon as the land was offered on the market. There is doubt as to who was really the first settler there, for several tracts were purchased in 1816. and were inhabited. In October, 1816, a William Edmundson erected a small log cabin near Ellettsville, and moved his family there. However, he did not own the land. Later, he bought his tract. which was the northwest quarter of section 9, from George Cutler. and. during the following winter cleared about five acres in preparation for the subsequent crop. This is the only family known to have resided in Richland township during the winter of 1816-17. George and James Parks, Coleman Puett, George Sharp, Lewis Noel and others built rude dwellings on the land in the fall of 1816, and lived alone in the cabins, in order to clear the land for the spring planting, and prepare a home for their families who were to join them at the same time. The families of George Sharp, the Parks, Lewis Noel, Coleman and Joseph Puett, William Milligan, Jonathan Gilbert, Joseph Reeves, Samuel Ellett were among those who came in the spring of 1817. John Parks was accorded the honor of being the first man among the settlers, a leader in the affairs of the community. He lived to the age of over one hundred and one years. This estimable gentleman, in his ninety seventh year, wrote a short memoir of his early life, which narrative teems with interest. He said of his coming to Indiana:

"Soon after the war of 1812, when things had somewhat settled, my father and family, with enough others to make a right smart colony, concluded to emigrate to some new country.

"The territory of Indiana was the place chosen, and we landed in Lawrence county, on the Fast fork of White river, October, 1815. The land was not yet in market, but was surveyed off ready to be sold. We chose our lots and settled on them, built our cabins and cleared a considerable amount of land. As the sale was to come off the next season at Jeffersonville, a dozen or more of us went down. The land was to be sold to the highest bidder. When the sale took place a man by the name of Bulslitt had a longer pole than ours, and 'knocked the persimmons,' sweeping the entire settlement. Not the first man saved his land or improvements. So we marched home, as if we had lost a friend. I had about eight acres cleared, surrounded by a good fence. The part of the territory where we now live did not come into market until the next season, so we concluded to make another trial. So we moved and again selected our lots. (This was in the present Richland township, near Ellettsville.) The next sale took place at Vincennes in October, 1816. By this time we became acquainted with fever and ague. I was the only one able to attend the sale, and I took the chills while there. I purchased for nearly the entire colony - about a dozen lots in all. After the sale we went that winter and built cabins on our lots, and cleared some ground. I got in about six acres of fine corn, which was our sole dependence for the year. But lo! in October there came a frost, which bit the last ear (so with the whole settlement)! Then we were in a fix. We had no mills to grind our corn, so we were compelled to pound it into meal. There was one hand mill in the settlement. But the corn was so soft that it would neither beat nor grind, until it was kiln dried. I made a scaffold up in the chimney and dried mine; then I had my choice to go to a hand mill a mile away, or to pound it."

Mr. Parks continues his narrative in a very entertaining and instructive way, telling of the early hardships and difficulties in obtaining meat. He spoke of the Indians of the county, the Delawares and Pottawatomies, who, with their squaws and papooses, often spent the night at his house.

Some of the early settlers of the township in 1816, the entries being made at the land office at Vincennes, were: John Ketchum, on section I; Jonathan Lindley, Roderick Rawlins, Asa Osborn and Joseph Evans, on section 2; Lewis Noel, section 4; Jonathan Gilbert, section 8; George Cutler and George Sharp, section 9; James Parks, section To; Archibald Wood and James Goodwin, section II; Samuel Caldwell, section 13; John Bigger, James Parks and Samuel Elliot, section 14; Ambrose Carlton, section 15; Archibald Wood and Samuel Caldwell, section 17; Jacob Cutler and William Bradford, section 18; Joseph Harris, section 2 I; John Simons, section 22; Ambrose Carlton and Asa Coltrin, section 23; Christopher Eslinger and John Gordon, section 24; John McCormick, section 26; Jonathan Lindley and John Simons, section 27; Solomon Bower, Joseph Kennedy, William Thornton and Abel Bigelow, section 28; David Johnson, section 29; William Baker and John Fullen, section 3o; John Perishaw, section 31; Daniel Zincks and David Sears, section 32; Edward Archer, Abel Bigelow and William Oliver, section 33; Joseph Taylor and Thomas Hodges, section 34; Benjamin Johnson and Samuel Rogers, section 35; Fred Smoyers and David S. Chambers, section 36. In 1817 entries were made by Henry Kirkham, Henry Wampler, Coleman Puett, William Latherlin, Joseph Reeves, Samuel Hazlett, Eli Lee, John Armstrong, T. R. Harley, Joseph Kennedy, Joel A. Dyer.

In 1841 there were one hundred and sixty one poll tax payers in the township, 18,804 ½, acres of land, which land was valued at $133.938 carrying a total tax of $1,230.47. Several small mills were operated during the early days, most of them run by hand. A small quantity of whiskey was manufactured in the township, but several persons, among them being the Mayfields, of Richland. and the Allisons, of Van Buren, opposed the consumption of spirituous liquors. In 1818 William Rawlins and Mary Sharp were united in the bonds of matrimony, which was the first wedding in the township. David P. Edmundson was the first child born in that locality, and Lucinda Puett was the second.


Although at present the most important town in the township, Ellettsville was not the first. Edward Ellett kept a tavern at the present site for many years before it was even considered a village He also conducted a rude saw mill. George Parks owned the first grist mill; it was run by hand and was very primitive in every respect. A man named Kirkham operated a horse mill about 1820.

In February, 1837, John Sedwick, county surveyor, was employed by Reuben Tompkins to lay out fourteen lots in section 9. The village thus founded was named Richland. In the same year an effort was made to obtain a postoffice for Richland, but there was another of the same name in the state, hence the town's name was changed to Ellettsville, in honor of Edward Ellett. Alonzo Beman laid out seventeen additional lots at the town, and opened a general merchandise store, with a stock valued at one thousand dollars. F. T. Butler soon went into partnership with Berman, having been in business himself at Mt. Tabor. A liquor store was opened in the town in 1839 by Jefferson Wampler, and in 1838 Ellett & Barnes started another general merchandise store. Thus, in 1840, there was one liquor shop, one blacksmith shop, one grist mill, one saw mill, two stores, a post office, and about five whole families. Others later identified with the commercial interests of the town were James Whitesell. Johnson Stites. Isaac Wampler, H. R. Sean, Mr. Manville. S. E. and O. A. Harris, Emanuel F. Faulkner. Parks & Coffey, John H. Reeves. Harris & Dean. Dowell & Moore. and Parks & Puett. The McCallas, of Bloomington, also conducted a branch store there.

During the early days of Ellettsville there were many mills, of grist and saw variety, scattered around the village. The town became quite a commercial center and business was thriving. Woolen factories were also built later, spoke factory and a planing mill. In 185o the population of the village was about 60: in 186o. near 250; in 1870, about 450; in 1883. about 625; and in 1913. approximately seven hundred.

The incorporation of the village was first mentioned in the year 1866, and met with a storm of opposition. In June of that year a petition was presented to the county board asking that the village might hold an election, to decide whether or not Ellettsville be incorporated. All of the influential residents signed the petition, which comprised a plan for two hundred and two acres. By order of the county board; an election was held on June 16, 1866, and the result was in favor of incorporation. In September, Ellettsville was officially incorporated by the county board, and officers were elected. These elections were held for several years, then discontinued, but finally interest in them revived, and the town at last reverted to municipal government again.


There is a progressive atmosphere around the hill bordered town which augurs well for the inhabitants, among whom there is a very strong brotherhood and co-operative spirit.

The town officers of Ellettsville are: Robert Digel, Will C. Reeves and E. M. Parks, trustees; W. R. Coffey, clerk, and D. F. Burk, treasurer.

In the various commercial lines, Ellettsville has an excellent representation. The grocery interests are managed by John M. Berry, J. K. Phipps, S. P. Krutsinger and Dos. Hite, and each of the stores has a profitable trade with the townspeople. Hunter & Son and Thomas Harris have hardware stores, and Guy A. McCown runs a clothing and general furnishing store. Maner & Williams and Fletcher & Scully own blacksmith shops; Hollis Hall and Charles Anderson are barbers; J. M. Rice manages a very complete drug store; William Bastin runs a dray line; O. E. Fletcher is a jeweler: E. E. Faulkner has charge of a lumber business; William Wampler and Charles Stimson have meat markets: Jake Starnes deals in live stock; Harry Rice and Elmer Keen conduct restaurants; J. S. Brown & Son have an auto and horse livery. The Ellettsville Milling Company handle the grain and feed for the farmers of the township, and also for surrounding townships. The stone industry is represented in Richland township with several excellent firms, among them being Alexander King & Company. Perry Stone Company. Matthews Brothers, and Thompson & Sandy Company. Dill & Brown also deal in grain. The newspaper of Ellettsville is conducted in a very able manner by W. B. Harris: the sheet is styled The Farm. and is a seven column quarto, published weekly. There are three physicians in Ellettsville. namely: Drs. W. W. Harris. O. K. Harris and I. N. Presley. but there are no dentists. The banking interests of the town and community are controlled by the Peoples State Bank. a reliable and accommodating institution. Two telephone companies furnish service to the people of this town, and connection may be had with any point in the world covered by the Bell system. There is no town hall in Ellettsville.

Fraternally, Ellettsville has about every lodge in the country either represented with a lodge or else several members. The blue lodge of Masonry is here, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Knights of Pythias also, and each has over a hundred members. The Rebekahs and Pythian Sisters are also strong here, in connection with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias.

There are four churches in Ellettsville, the Methodist, the Baptist, the Christian and the Presbyterian. The buildings of worship are unusually handsome for the size of the town, and would do credit to a city. There is a distinct church loyalty among the good people of the town, and there are very few Sunday morning loafers.

The Peoples State Bank of Ellettsville, above named, was established February 11, 1905, by F. J. Hermes and other stockholders. The capital stock was the same as now, $25,000. Its first officers were: W. P. Sandy, president; F. J. Hermes, cashier; W. B. Harris, vice president; F. I. Owens, Fred Matthews, W. P. Sandy, directors. The bank has done an excellent business and now has a surplus and undivided profits of $7,225. Its officers in 1913 were: Fred I. Owens, president; Guy A Draper, cashier; W. B. Bennett, vice president; F. I. Owens, W. B. Harris, B. G. Hoadley, Fred Matthews, J. R. Harris, directors.

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