History of Van Buren 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


Van Buren township was settled earlier and more rapidly perhaps than any other township in Monroe county, with the exception of Bloomington. The soil of the locality is rich and productive, hence the influx of settlers began at a very early period, most of the pioneers being from the Southland, and bringing with them all the chivalry and courtesy of their ancestors.

The surface of Van Buren township is not so hilly and rough as various other townships; the land approaches a fair level, and is well watered and drained. Numerous small streams and clear springs are scattered over the country, enriching the alluvial qualities of the surface soil. Valuable timber at one time covered the land, but has been mercilessly destroyed by the inroads of commercialism. The trees included black and white walnut, maple. oak, elm, chestnut, poplar, beech, sycamore, ash, cherry, gum, dogwood, sassafras, spicewood, etc.

An important geological feature of the county is Puett's cave, in the northwestern portion. The cave is of unknown depth in places. and is characterized by many winding passageways, stalactites, stalagmites. fossils, and other rock formations as curious as well as beautiful.


The name of the first resident of the township is not on reliable record. It was doubtless one of the men whose names are enrolled as land buyers in 1816. namely: Arthur Patterson. on section 1; David Matlock, Jacob Cutler, Daniel Sears, James Parks, James Matlock, section 2: John Cutler, section 4; Archibald Wood bought three hundred and twenty acres on section Jo: John Allen and George Matlock. section II, the latter also on section 12; Jonathan Rains, John Carr and John W. Lee, section 13; John Allen, James Borland and John Carr, section 14; Archibald Wood, Michael Wood, David Matlock, section I5; John Collins and Joseph Berry, section 21: William Wilson and William Newcomb, section 22: John Harvey, Jonathan Nichols and Arthur Patterson, section 24: Solomon Green and Archibald Wood, section 25; Levin Lawrence, section 26; Adam Darling, section 27; Joseph Berry, Adam Bowen and John Briscoe, section 28; Jesse Tarkington, Arthur Patterson and John Sadler, section 31; Arthur Patterson and Joseph Berry, section 32; the latter also on section 33; John Storm, section 34; Thomas McCrang, section 35; John Johnson, Josiah Jackson and Joseph Richardson, section 36. In the year 1817 the following entries were made: David Matlock, section 2; Francis Charlice, section 11; James Matlock, section 12; Eli Lee, section 14; William Newcomb, section 15; Pierre Chacurn, section 22; Solomon Phillips, section 23; Joseph Gerrard and James Parsons, section 26; Adam Kern and Isaac Rogers, section 27; John Berry, section 33; Joseph Berry, section 34. In 1823 Austin S. Reeves made entry on section 9, and Littleton West on section 21; Vincent Lindsey settled on section 1 in 1824, and in the same year Eli Farmer bought on section 2; John Mahala on section to in the same year; John M. Berry, section 29; Lemuel Lyons; section 1 in 1825; George Moss, section 5 in 1829; Thomas Snoddy, section 6 in 1826; John Watson, section 8 in 1828; Robert Dice, section 9; Henry Sanders. section 10 in 1827; William Deskins, section 10 in 1828; George Milam, section 12 in 1827; Isaac Rogers, section 21 in 1825; Joseph Berry, section 21 in 1825; Gaspard Koons, section 26 in 1825; William Morris, section 29 in 1829; John H. Bunger and Orion Crocker, section 33 in 1829. Several men brought their families here in 1816. There are many who believe that there were white families living in this township as early as 1815, although there is no definite proof of this.

There are others who came to this locality early, accompanied by their families, and a few of them were James Gentry, Absalom Baker, Robert B. Givens, Andrew Gray, George Grubb, Samuel Grabeal, Solomon Green, Seth Goodwin, William Gray. Andrew Gray, Lewis Harman, Jasper Koons, Felix Landers. Matthew Legg. Benjamin Neeld, William Neeld, the Prices, Hiram Pauley, Solomon Phillips, Rebecca Rawlins, the Renshaws, Benjamin Rice, Robert Rice, William Rice, John Sadler. Henry Sanders, L. G. Shryer, James G. Sparks, Noble Stockwell, James Shipman, John Shipman. Thomas Snoddy. John Tarkington. W. C. Tarkington, Sylvanus Tarkington, Samuel Turner. Reuben Ward. Luke Ward. Booker Wit and others.


This very small village was platted and laid out by Jesse Tarkington in the late thirties. James Crane soon afterwards opened a general merchandise store there, probably about 1839. Kemble, Klein & Company, Zachariah Catron, Sylvester Dory, Nicholas Dillinger, Victor Dory, Odell & Walker opened up places of business during the forties and were very prosperous. In 185o there were four general stores, two or three blacksmiths, a saw mill, several grist mills, and a population of one hundred and fifty. In 1885 the number of people in the town was estimated at two hundred, and in 1913, one hundred and twenty. The business consists of a store, a few shops and a postoffice.


The organization of the Blue Spring Community in Monroe county in 1826 was the result of a movement which extended over the whole of the United States. In this country, during the years from 1820 to 186o, there was much dissatisfaction in the educational and moral systems in vogue for the development of a community. Accordingly people began to co-operate, to form groups and consolidate their wealth and influence to promote a better system of teaching. They would live together. work together and eat together, and were controlled by a common set of by laws and a constitution. Such eminent men as Horace Greeley, Charles Fourier and the Owens of Posey county, Indiana, were in sympathy with the scheme and used their efforts to build up these communities in every part of the country.

In Monroe county the Members of the newly formed community assembled in a place later called Harmony. They built their homes, placed their property in common, built a few stores, and erected an excellent school, all on a public square. Despite the abuse and ridicule they were subjected to by their neighbors, the first year was very successful. Their ideals were high and their intentions were of the best, but the inevitable was bound to creep in. No matter how a community may be formed. such familiarity will lead to trouble, caused probably by one or more individuals. When the bitter winds of winter commenced to sweep down on the gathering, many returned to their former homes. The spring of 1827 came, but a continuation of the community was abandoned. Such is the frailty of human nature.

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