History of Brown Township, Montgomery County,
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.
SOIL, STREAMS AND TOPOGRAPHY.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
NATURAL SUMMER RESORT.
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.
A TRUE "SNAKE STORY."
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."
TOWNS AND VILLAGES.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
PRESENT BUSINESS FACTORS.
In the spring of 1913, the business interests of Wayeland were about as follows, none being intentionally omitted
by the historian:
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.