History of Brown Township, Montgomery County, Indiana
From: History of Montgomery County, Indiana
Published By: A. W. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1913


Second largest in the county, is Brown township, situated in the southwestern corner of the county. It is west from Scott, north from Parke and Putnam counties, east of Parke and south from Ripley and Union townships. The original survey of this township describes it as embracing township 17 north, range 6 west, being south of Sugar Creek. In 1858 that portion of sections 30, 31 and 32 being to the south of Sugar Creek was taken from Union and attached to Brown township. The shape of the township is an oblong square, nine miles east and west by six north and south. There are fifty four square miles in the townsip, as now constituted, and this equals thirty four thousand five hundred and sixty square acres of fertile territory. Its topography is covered now by a perfect network of highways. The old state road running from Terre Haute to Lafayette passes through it from southwest to northwest, which was in early days the United States mail and stage route. The Vandalia railroad line (old Laporte, Crawfordsville & Southwest railroad) enters the territory at New Market, in the extreme northeast corner of the township, and courses its way southwest, emerging from the domain in the valley of the Little Raccoon, at the southwestern corner. This iron highway has greatly developed and made rich the communities through which it runs. What is now styled the Central Indiana railroad has a line running from the southwestern part of Brown township, with a station at Waveland and extending on northeast into Scott township. This road, one of the latest in the county, was long in building, after first proposed, but has already materially aided the southern portion of the township.

In 1910 the population of Brown township was listed in the federal reports at two thousand two hundred and forty, including Waveland, which at that enumeration had six hundred and forty eight.


The geological features of this township are quite diversified and interesting. The land in the west and southwest is slightly rolling, but remarkably even throughout the territory. Indeed the name Waveland, its chief town, indicates that the land is such as to remind one of the great swells and waves on the billowy ocean, far out from land. In the south and west the soil is of a drift material. rich in productive qualities, until the higher lands are reached on Sugar Creek in the northwest. The east and southeast are more level and in places really Mat. The soil in that portion is more mixed with clayish deposits, and is "colder" and heavier. The north runs down into the sandy rocks or clays of shale formation, and is excellent for certain grains and grasses. The township is divided by a ridge from about the middle of the eastern border, passing w est to the center of the township, then turns to the northwest till it reaches Sugar Creek, the boundary line of the territory. While this ridge is not hardly observed by the stranger in traveling, yet it divides the head waters of the Little Raccoon creek on the south, and Sugar creek on the north; the waters of the former flow to the Big Raccoon on the south, and the latter to Sugar creek on the northwest. In this part of the township, where it borders upon the above stream, it is high and broken, and even rocky, but shades down from the high bluffs to the rolling lands south and to the low lands to the east.

The general soil of Brown township is of a very superior quality. The top covering is of the richest grade and it is mixed with muck, sands, gravel, clay and calcareous elements, all combined to bring the best productive results to agriculture. Originally this township possessed fine forests of the best and most valuable varieties of timber. When the hardy pioneer first came here he found tens of thousands of walnut, oak, poplar, hickory and other excellent species of wood. The great error these first comers made was in clearing off and ruthlessly destroying so much of these beautiful forests. The most valuable trees were piled up in great heaps and burned. Today we find but little good timber standing. Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth were annually destroyed, which if standing today would be worth many times the present price of the land itself. Where there formerly stood more than a half dozen saw mills today one finds but one. But not alone here in Brown township and Montgomery county has the destruction been going on, but it was the universal rule, until the government has in recent years awoke to the necessity of preserving forests. Of course, here it is too late but in the West and North where forests still abound it is being conserved to sonic extent.


This is an ancient lake, geologists tell us, and its shores are distinctively outlined in the northeast portion of the township, embracing not less than one third of the whole area: "a coast washed by the waves of a body of water extending nine miles east and west by about four and a half miles north and south. This very ancient shore extends across the township from southeast to northwest, entering two and a half miles northeast of the southeast corner, running west two miles, then north a mile and a half; thence northwest, passing a mile north of Browns valley: thence northwest to Sugar creek. near the mouth of Indiana creek. where it passes into Ripley township, sweeping eastward through Union to the west line of Walnut: southwest through Scott to the east line of Brown as before. The land within this ancient lake bed has been successfully drained by private land owners in the northeast part of the township. The date of this real body of water we have no means of determining, but certain it is that it existed mangy centuries ago. as the present outlines include an acre of land which pioneers found covered with a dense Forest of heavy timber. The great mastodon that once roamed over the plains and through the forests of North America have doubtless drunk of its waters as well as grazed along its banks."

In the vicinity of Sugar creek there is a strata of sandstone of excellent building quality. There are also limestone compounds of carbonates of lime. sand, clay and carbonates of magnesia. From this quicklime is easily and profitably made. Some traces of mill stone grit are also here found along time banks of Indiana creek, where Is elders are found. The burrs in the old mill built by Samuel VanCleave were made of these stones, and proved of excellent working quality. In the south part of Brown township are found boulder clays at the depth of twelve feet under the surface, forming a strata four feet in thickness, under which is a strata of blue clay covering the sandy water bed of fifteen feet. The boulder clay is productive of gases known commonly as "the damps."

There are also found submerged remains of timber at various depths. and frequently underlying the boulder clay drift, which were deposited for a time when this region was covered by an inland sea. and were doubtless drifted down from the high lands of the northeast and northwest part of this locality by a great water, is evident from the kinds of timber found. which was not of this soil or climate. as well as the boulders found in the sub soil. which seem to belong to the rocky formations of the north, and which have doubtless been carried down by the action of the moving waters and drifting ice.

In early clays here. Sugar creek was an important water course. and it afforded water power to propel saw and grist mills, card wool and full homemade cloth, The buzz and whirl of saw and spindle was heard along its peaceful banks by pioneer ears. Besides streams this township also has numerout never failing springs. The township. as a whole, presents a delightful landscape and is the locality sought by scientists and pleasure parties. It has rocky grottoes and caves innumerable.


Flouring mills were built in this township at a very early date. Among such mills is recalled that of Dear & Canine, on the south bank of Sugar creek. It has not been running for a number of years. The milling business seems of recent decades to have shifted to central and larger wheat growing districts. and the mills once so profitable are now silent and idle. The streams. in many sections. have gone almost dry at certain seasons of the year. hence water power is no longer depended upon. Another old mill was that of Thomas Glenn and Caleb Conner. A carding mill was established in 1840 by Thomas Armstrong, on the Little Raccoon and flourished until the supply of water was exhausted and the works then became forever silent.

The first mill of this township, however. was that of Joel Dear, on Sugar creek. This mill was some years later destroyed by high water, and was then rebuilt by Messrs. Dear and Canine. VanCleave's mill was built on Indian creek at a very early day.


About as soon as in any other portion of this county, land was entered in Brown township. In fact, before the county was really organized, a few had settled by going to the land office at Terre Haute, before that office had been transferred to Crawfordsville. It is believed that James Long was the first pioneer to secure landed rights in Brown township. It was he who took land a mile north of where Waveland now stands in the autumn of 1882. Following him soon came William Moore in section 29 and also in section 3o. Later Moore became the first tavern keeper in his part of the wilds of Montgomery county. The next year - 1823 - came in an immigration from Kentucky. including Benjamin VanCleave. Thomas Lockman, John Rush, and others. Between 1826 and 1830 others found their way into the little settlement. This colony included Anderson Service, William Fisher, William Reynolds, John Pottenger, Enoch VanCleave, Alexander Buchanan, Benjamin Galey, etc. The first corners to Brown were mostly Kentuckians, and scores of their descendants still reside in the township and surrounding country. The VanCleaves and Canines were very numerous and prolific in offspring. At a recent Presidential election over fifty VanCleaves voted in this county. Rev. Samuel VanCleave was the pioneer minister in Brown township. A little later came in ministers of the Baptist faith, Revs. Mathias and Jonathan VanCleave.

While the Eastern states were sending a tide of immigration to other parts of this county, Brown township was being settled up by Kentucky people - brave sons and daughters who came in wagons, on horseback. and on foot with knapsack on their backs, traversing an unbroken wilderness, fording swollen, unbridged streams, camping at night, and contending with the rough elements and wild beasts. The sound of the woodman's ax was heard in the dense forest before the curling smoke of the Indian's wigwam had entirely disappeared from the banks of Indian creek. And while the stiffened and snapping bow and whistling tomahawk were yet heard, the crashing of the falling timber before the frontiersman's ax thundered in this "green glad solitude."

When Mr. Long raised his first cabin in the fall of the year after he arrived, he had to secure help from the settlement on Big Raccoon creek. several miles south. He was doubtless settler No. one. He completed his cabin that winter and in the spring following moved his family from near Terre Haute. During the month of January, 1823, a heavy snow fell. which caused the deer to gather about his quarters at nightfall to browse from trees he had chopped down during the previous day. The Indians also visited him, and shot the unsuspecting deer that feared not the white man's dwelling. He shot and salted away eleven deer for his summer meat.

E. Loop and a few others ventured into this locality in the fall of 1822, moving their families in the spring following. Mr. Moore built his hewed log tavern, 18 by 24 feet. in the autumn of 1823.

Here. as in all new countries, not all of the first settlers remained to develop the country, but not being satisfied, moved on to what they believed toe be the making of greener pasturessome succeeded while others failed in so moving. In 1825 Thomas Lockman sold his new home to John Brush, who had emigranted from Kentucky to join the new colony. The father was a soldier in the war of 1812, in which he was inured to the privations of military life and the perils of ward, which peculiarly fitted him for a rugged pioneer life. It was also in 1825 that Jeremiah Stiliwell and Benjamin Todd entered lands and built homes in the forests of Brown township.


The first settler, as has been shown, was James Long. in the fall of 1822. The first store was opened bye a Mr. Moore. who erected a small log storehouse on the east bank of Little Raccoon creek. one mile above present Waveland. He opened this store in 1828. It was later operated by John Milligan who sold goods there until he removed the stock to Waveland in 1834.

The first inn, or tavern, was that of William Moore. already mentioned. This was in 1823 and the building still remained intact in t881. This was a home for the weary travelers for a long period. It was a good. home like place at which to stop but at times it was "a rough house" on account of too much Kentucky rye whisky, which Moore had no scruples about dealing out by the drink or quart. as was demanded. Frequently it happened that the place was visited by the red man of the nearby forests. and then it vas that half filled with "fire water" he made things lively at the tavern. In those days the Indian trail ran south of present Waveland. from southwest to northeast, leading to Fort Wayne. It was this path through the wilderness that the Indians went to Fort Wayne to draw government supplies. At times five hundred and more would pass in a single day, stopping at Moore's tavern for meals and whisky, trading blankets they had received from the government. for whisky for one night's debauch. Mrs. Moore was eighty eight years old in 1881, and then had one of the blankets, red in color, which she had kept through all those eventful years. It was here that Gen. William Henry Harrison and twenty five or more soldiers and citizens of the Indian wars dined when enroute to the old battle grounds of Tippecanoe, to reinter the remains of the brave men who fell at that awful battle in November. 1812. Landlord Moore made his usual charge of a shilling a meal, but this Harrison refused to pay, but said that he would assess the crowd for twenty five cents apiece (two shillings) which he did. Samuel Moore. then a lad in his teens, a quarter of a century ago used to boast of holding General Harrison's steed while he was preparing to mount.


By the board of justices of this county, at the September term 1826, it was ordered that Scott township should be divided, and that the following boundary be taken out of said township and be constituted a new township for civil purposes, to be known by the name of Brown township to-wit: All township 17, range 5, and so much of township 17, range 6, lying south of Sugar creek, and Within the county of Montgomery; and that the placed of holding elections in Brown township be at William Moore's. Benjamin Galey was appointed inspector of elections; John Kinder was appointed constable for 1827; Benjamin VanCleave and Josiah Galey were appointed overseers of the poor; and Samuel Galey, Emsley Loop, and William Moore were appointed fence viewers. William Moore was elected first justice of the peace, and was followed by Thomas Glenn, who came to the township in 1827. Hem served a four years' term. Moore was elected but it appears never qualified. Among the early day justices in Brown township are recalled by reference to the, records, the names of William Carson, Joseph Allen, James Rice, James N. Rice, Caleb Conner, Daniel Gott, Robert Gamble and William Conner.

At the organization of this township the soil was mostly covered with dense forests, there being, however, a growing population, as the early settlers from old Kentucky swept northward to open up farms and settle up the promising land of Brown township. There were no inducements to settle on the Wabash river and Big Raccoon creek, where settlements were already rapidly being effected, but the prevalence of fever and ague in those localities, where, it is said, "the true Wabashian was so accustomed to malaria and mosquitos that he did not feel at home without them," many returned to the more genial clime of Brown township. Society then was crude, when "the man on the streets of Crawfordsville who donned a pair of silver plated spurs and wore embroidered gloves," was stigmatized by the Black creek school master in his "Recollections of the Settlement of the Wabash Valley," as "an aristocrat."


It is few localities within the Hoosier state that one finds so pleasing a spot for a summer resort as in Brown township, of late years. Five miles northwest of Waveband, for many years has been conducted a fine resort for summer visitors, health seekers and pleasure lovers. The scenery is indeed beautifully grand. The hills and valleys, stately forest kings. the elevated cliffs and numerous streams concentrating at that love spot in nature all vie with one another in making it an ideal place for tourists. It is well styled the "Shades." The sandstone cliff towers up an hundred feet above the bed of the valley of Indian creek. Among the sights is what is known as the "Eagle's Nest," where for long years the American emblem of strength has built its nests, that they might be more secure against the hunter's rifle shot, while rearing its young eagles. Another scene is the "Devil's Fireplace," a cavity in the side of the cliff. All is romantic and charming to the visitors. Fishing is near by and here the lovers of that sport delight in drawing forth from the finny tribes of the rippling streams. A forty room house has been erected by five men who have leased the surroundings.


North from Freedom church, this township, about a mile, in an early day existed a great snake den. These were mostly of the rattlesnake order. So many they numbered that people dreaded and shunned the location. Once a man was passing by the spot when he ran across this den and at once arming himself with a suitable club commenced to poke the reptiles from out a hollow tree (their home) and as fast as they came out he killed them, until he had killed twenty four of them. In the same locality, a man named Hall, came upon a monster rattler and killed it. whereupon he discovered that it had thirty two rattles and a button, thus showing that he had killed a snake that was upwards of thirty two years old, the most aged of any captured within the state. Since the settlement of this county, however, snakes like Indians. have grown as one man remarked "beautifully less."


Brown township has now three towns, at least two full towns and a part of New Market, while the balance of the place is situated in Union and Scott townships.

Waveband, the greater of these towns, was platted and town lots sold off in 1835, and Mr. Milligan opened his store the autumn before. It is situated on the Little Raccoon creek on high ground and the selection for town site purposes is excellent. The second building there was that erected for Dr. Cunningham, on the north side of what is now styled Green street Henry Crawford started the second store. He was also an early merchant in Crawfordsville. Dr. Gregg opened a store the following season and remained for a number of years. Mr. Milligan was the first to serve as postmaster of Waveland. The census of 188o gave Waveland a population of eight hundred, while today, or rather the census reports of 1910, gave it as having six hundred and seventy six inhabitants. The land on which the original town was platted was entered by Hiram Heddleson prior to 1830; he sold to one Morgan who transferred to John Milligan the first merchant. It was named "Waveland" by Milligan, in honor of his old friend's country seats in Kentucky, from which state he emigrated.


The first doctor to practice at Waveland was Dr. James Combings. who located as soon as the town was fairly platted. He was followed by Drs. Cregg and Ballid.

The first stopping places for the traveling public, was at private homes, but Andrew Harris opened a hotel in the early history of the village. It stood on ground later occupied by the Central house. Other pioneer hotels were conducted by Epperson Drew, on High street. and Jack Collier, at the southwest corner of Main and Cross streets: the latter finally burned.

The first venture in the line of publishing a paper was when The Waveland News was established by Mr. Boswell, of Ladoga. It was never printed there, but at Ladoga and circulated at Waveland. It lasted two years and was succeeded by the Waveland Item, by H. M. Talbert and F. M. Foley.

A steam saw mill was erected in 1850 by Thomas Talbert and Thomas Owens. It was in the southwest part of town. The boiler was drawn from Indianapolis on two large lumber wagons, by a six horse team, the trip requiring one week's time. In about nine years it was removed, and while so doing, timbers fell and killed Morgan McClain.

In 1878, William Geiger constructed a steam grist mill, one of the best in Montgomery county, at that date. In 1878 there was also built a saw mill by Jacob Wilcox.


Waveland has had its share of destructive fires, yet she has risen from the hot ashes and builded better than before. In 1873 the town was swept by a sea of flame, the east side of Cross street from Howard to Green, and a half block east on Green street was all consumed in two hours. Seven business houses and a dwelling were burned; also a cabinet shop. These structures were all wooden. It really was about all of the business portion of Waveland. Following this was erected a handsome brick block and business was resumed with new life and cheer.

The next fire was that destroying the Boswell steam mill at the depot, the work of an incendiary, without doubt, and possibly the former fire was of the same devilish origin. The guilty parties were tried, convicted and punished.

Again, in 1875 the Thorton hotel burned, but being well insured, the loss was not very heavy.

The churches of Waveland today are the Methodist Episcopal, Baptist. Presbyterian and Christian denominations. The civic societies include the three great orders, Masons. Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias.

In 1912, one of the finest school houses in the county was completed at this place. It is a thoroughly modern, brick structure, costing forty one thousand dollars, and it is a township high and graded school, the town of Waveland having dissolved its independent corporation school board and united in a township. school.


Waveland has been a corporated town since August 13. 1866. when at an election in which one hundred and ten votes were cast, it was decided to incorporate. At that date the number of persons living within the territory of the corporate limits was four hundred and eighty five. Its population is now about seven hundred. The first minutes of the town have been lost, hence the reader must content himself with the list of present officers, which were elected in 1912 to serve until 1914. and these are as follows: President of board, William Milligan: other members are. R. T. Burrin, B. M. Harbeson. The clerk is John Sharp: the treasurer is B. S. Fritz: marshal, William A. McCall.

The town is protected by a volunteer fire company. a hose cart, hose, hook and ladder trucks, etc., and obtains its water supply for fires from four street cisterns, distributed at various points in the town. They also own a hand engine, which has saved much property, including the Vandalia depot not long since.

The town also has twenty street lamps, employing acetylene for lighting purposes. This belongs to the town, and another similar company of a private character supplies commercial lights. The town installed its street lighting system in March and April, 1902.

In March, 190, the postoffice was dynamited and robbed, it being the second time in three years. The robbers were not caught.


In the spring of 1913, the business interests of Wayeland were about as follows, none being intentionally omitted by the historian:
Attorney-Joseph Rosebaum.
Banks-"State Bank."
Blacksmith shops-E. C. Dietrich, Lawson & Manley, John Sharp & Conor.
Bakery-D. S. Miluigan. Clothing-B. S. Kritz.
Dentists-B. M. IHarbeson, DD.S.
Drugs-R. T. Burrin, S. W. Carpenter.
Dry Goods-Hanna & Kritz, Holland & Deer.
Furniture and undertakings. W. Kritz.
Feed store-S. E. Cuppy.
Grocers-D. S. Milligan, Alexander Moore, M. D. Moore, John R. Canine.
Grain-Charles Patton.
Stock dealer-C. H. Deer.
Garage-Mr. Youngblood.
Hardware-C. W. Spencer. G. T. Diliman, both carry implements also.
Harness-G. T. Dillman.
Hotel-Ed. Cuppy.
Lumber-C. W. Spencer.
Livery-G. T. Gillman. Moody & Son.
Meat markets-Marvin Clore and J. D. Carlisle.
Millinery-Florence Campbell.
Newspaper-The Independent, T. E. Huston, proprietor.
Postmaster-F. W. Fritz.
Physicians-Drs. T. Z. Ball, K. K. and W. L. Staughm.
Restaurants-C. E. Sims. L. W. Reynolds.
Veterinary surgeon-B. H. Brunson. V. S.
Wagon shops-Sharp & Condor. Lawson & Manly.


Another sprightly town of Brown township is Browns Valley, situated on sections 16 and 21, and a station point on the Vandalia line of railroad, near the center of the township, was laid out in 1836 by Matthias M. Van Cleave, Brownsville. It now has a population of two hundred. It is a good shipping point and large quantities of corn and grain go from there annually to the outside world. Stores, a school and church, with the postoffice and ordinary shops make up this place. The first store opened here was by Robert Carson; the next was by Myre & Ulman. Then William 5. Davis erected the largest storehouse in the village and carried on general merchandise for several years. The town's proprietor predicted that within forty years the cars would be running through his town, and it was not nearly so many years before the shrill whistle was heard in the streets of the hamlet. Dr. Orear was the first to practice medicine at this point.


As only a portion of this village is situated within Brown township, its history is not given. It may be said, in passing, however, that the depot is in Brown township. It had in 1910 three hundred and fifty population.

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