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

CLARK TOWNSHIP.

This county was at first divided into several townships and soon had eleven, as now constituted. These are Browns, Sugar Creek, Clark, Franklin, Madison, Ripley, Scott, Union, Wayne, Walnut and Coal Creek. Union is the largest in the county; its population a few years since, together with the city of Crawfordsville, was about one third of that contained in the whole county.

This subdivision of the county known as Clark township, was laid out in the month of October; 1830, and comprises township 17, range 3 west, and its original boundaries have never been changed with all of the passing years. It was named after Daniel Clark, an early settler. The territory embraced in this civil township is rolling land and was once covered with heavy timber, as fine a tract of forest land as the whole county afforded. The soil is exceedingly fertile and produces its large annual crops of all the cereals common to this climate. Its streams include Big and Little Raccoon and Haw creeks running through the township, from northeast to southwest, with plenty of fall, rendering drainage almost unnecessary. The present population of the township is two thousand two hundred and thirty one, including the town of Ladoga, which has one thousand one hundred and forty eight. This was one of the last townships to he settled, on account, it is said, because of the numerous Indians that still lingered about the domain in which it was located. But after they left settlement was made rapidly and by 1837 all the best government tracts of land had been taken. The pioneers here at one commenced to fell the stately forest kings of oak, hickory, walnut, etc., in great numbers. Many of the finest trees, which today would bring many dollars each, were reduced to ashes, and the land where they stood made into fields and clearings suitable for the cultivation of wheat, corn and vegetables. Here might then have been seen large herds of deer, wild hogs, panthers, and many other animals, and upon these the pioneer and his family subsisted for some years.

EARLY SETTLERS.

It is generally believed that the first white man to locate here was Lucas Baldwin, of Berkley county, Virginia who stopped in the "Big Woods" of what is now Clark township, in 1826, entering land on which now stands the town of Ladoga, where he remained for eight years. At that date the Indian trails between Kokomo and the Cornstalk villages, in Scott township, were still trodden by moccasined feet. Most of the first corners to this township were from Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Nearly all were young, robust men, bringing small families with them. These were not all farmers, either, for among them were carpenters, cabinet makers, blacksmiths who knew how to blow the bellows and swing the sledge upon the face of the ringing anvil. These smiths could handsomely fashion an ax head and the irons necessary to complete a "Cary" plow. Then there were those who could build a Virginia schooner (wagon) with beds deep enough to move a whole family with all of the ordinary household effects which western immigrants took with them to new countries. The boxes of these immense wagons were made tight enough, with a little calking, now and then, to keep the water out when used in crossing unbridged and angry streams while moving into the country. Physicians also came along to care for the sick of the colonies. Then there were preachers of the Word and teachers of the subscription schools. But the majority of these hardy pioneers were tillers of of the virgin soil. To give a complete list of the early settlers is, at this day, impossible and possibly useless, but it is of some historic interest and value to give the names of some of the more prominent families, whose descendants still reside in the county, and whose history was really interwoven with that of early Montgomery county's development. Among such may be recalled these:

Charles Lewis, Sr., Humphrey Rice, David D. Nicholson, Limledge Stringer, William A. Brown, John Brown, Robert Davis, Andrew J. Davis, Isaac Baker, Gabriel S. Davidson, William H. Uterback, Jefferson Hicks, Benjamin Sharp, all from Kentucky; John B. Peffley, Lewis Otterman, Caleb H. R. Anderson, George Stover, Jacob and Jacob M. Marshbarger, John Peffley and Alfred Rose. all from Virginia: John Ellis. the Schencks. and Harvevs and Richard Graves, Drake and Joel Brookshire. and Green Davis, from North Carolina; George Otterman, Sr., from Maryland, with numerous others whose names have passed from memory with the flight of time, they having long since been gathered to their fathers. While the above has named many of the fathers of families that first commenced the development of Clark township, the wives, nearly all of whom came as young brides or mothers who had one or more children, resulting from their marriage several years prior to coming to this county, included these names: Charlotte (Hunter) Davis, Sarah (Slack) Brookshire, Agnes Graves, Lora (Null) Otterman, Mary (Morrison) Rose; Mary (Robinson) Peffley, Salome A. Harshbarger, Hannah (Arnold) Myers, Anna (Rader) Stover, Hettie (Peffley) Otterman, Anna (Buntrager) Peffley, Sallie (Manges) Peffley, Priscilla (Manners) Clark, Elizabeth (Harrison) Sharp, Mary (Pearson) Hart, Lucinda (Ragsdale) Hicks, Elizabeth (Bonner) Brown, Keziah Davis, Elizabeth (Watkins) Stringer, Elizabeth (Fleeñer) Nicholson, Nancy (Ellis) Rice, Nancy (Adams) Lewis, Martha (Sparks) Baker, Hannah (Adams) Baldwin, Betsey (Kelsey) Hays, Elizabeth (Crane) Pearson.

In emigrating from Virginia by means of wagons already described the journey usually consumed about six weeks. Frequently the party would be obliged to halt and with axes cut away the trees and underbrush in order to get through the forest in the direction in which they wanted to go.

EARLY DAY INCIDENTS AND STORIES.

Uncle Drake Brookshire, in his own peculiar North Carolina manner of speech, related once the following incident:

"There was a man named Herndon, who had a horse mill this side of Fredericksburg; he was a blustering, busy sort of man, rather free of speech. A customer brought some corn to he ground one day. and while they were getting ready to start the mill, a little ground squirrel that had been sitting on the track in which the horse moved. jumped on the side of the hopper and then down into the mill stones. The old miller went on with his work, and poured the corn into the hopper and started to grind. Pretty soon the meal came out mixed with strings of hide and rolls of fur and flesh, and Herndon said: 'Well, sir; you are the blamedest luckiest man I ever saw; you bring corn to mill, and here you are getting both meal and meat.' "

A GREAT SQUIRRLE HUNT.

Gabriel S. Davidson, an early settler, was authority, in his day for an account of a wonderful squirrel hunt. He related how that a weary tramp of twenty miles during all the hours of a long day is now rewarded by the bagging of a few squirrels; but at the time of which this incident was written, game was so abundant that really it was considered a public nuisance. The young and tender growing corn of the pioneers, planted with much pains and toil of the back aching sort, midst stumps on little patches and clearings, had scarcely gotten into the milk stage before the squirrels and coons discoyered that it was good to eat. Hence they came in by thousands upon thousands to partake of the feast. The squirrels by day and the coons by night made the farmer much trouble. Finally a concerted action was organized against these little wild animal pests. For fifteen days all other pursuits were entirely abandoned, and eyery offensiye weapon in Clark township was directed against these foes. The forces were divided into two parties. The one making the largest "bag" was entitled to receive a quart of whisky per capita from the other party, the evidence to be the largest count of coon tails and squirrel scalps. Never was there seen before nor since such wholesale destruction. When the tails came to be counted there were more than three thousand squirrel scalps and nearly fifteen hundred ring tails. The result was a general spree, and later an abundant corn crop.

Another authenticated story is of how Charles Lewis knew of some hunters on his father's land, who killed bear in this township. His father was a hunter of more than ordinary note, and made sad havoc among the game that was to be captured on every hand. Wild honey was found in numerous trees. Bee trees were as easily discoyered then as a lawyer or doctor is now-a-days. The sugar maple also afforded another source of gaining sweetening, and was greatly appreciated by old and young and the "sugaring off" times were days and nights of merriment, the memory of which lasted down life's passing years.

Another incident, bearing on the Indian question, was once related by John N. Hays and found its way into history. He remembered distinctly a visit made by a surly old Indian of the Miami tribe to his father's house, when the family sat down to dinner with the savage guest. A favorite dish with young John Hays was sliced cucumbers and onions dressed in vinegar. The presence of this noble red man had completely paralyzed the tongue of the boy until he saw his beloved dish being devoured by the dusky Miami. when his stomach compelled him to enter a loud protest, against which not eyen the stoicism of the Indian was able to stand.

Mr. Hays also recalled how the noted and yery odd preacher of pioneer days,. Lorenzo Dow, preached a forceful sermon on his father's farm. After service, Dow came to his father's house for dinner. He would not take time to dine like other men, but ate in the smoke house, bolting alternately hunks of bread and meat until his voracious appetite was satisfied, when he mounted his horse and departed, as mysteriously and peculiarly as was his usual custom.

This will be continued in the history for the town of Ladoga.


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