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


This township is situated in the extreme northwestern portion of Montgomery county, and is bounded on the north by Tippecanoe county, on the east by Madison township, on the south by Wayne and Union townships, and on the west by Fountain county. It contains fifty four square miles. It derives its name from Coal creek running through the northwestern portion of its territory. Along this creek in this county, but especially in Fountain county, large quantities of bituminous coal are mined. According to government survey description this part of the county comprises all of Congressional township 20, range 5 west, and the east half of township 20, range 6 west.

The natural features consisted largely of the strip of rich and unexcelled prairie land along its northern boundary, about two miles in width, while the remainder was originally largely covered with various varieties of timber, some being very heavy and today would be very highly valued for manufacturing purposes, in these days of "government conservation" talk. Indeed the timber was so old and thrifty in its growth that the larger trees had smothered out most all saplings and underbrush. At the feet of the great forest giants of these early days might have been seen a luxuriant growth of grasps, where roamed at pleasure and fattened large herds of deer, and so it was long a favorite hunting ground for the poor Indians. How changed all this scenery in the opening years of the second decade in the twentieth century!

"Bristle Ridge" is situated in the center of the township on section 20. It is related that this land was entered by a Frenchman, who after holding the tract for a time concluded that on account of so many trees he could never raise corn there, and hence he went back to his native sunny France, abandoning his purchase in the wilds of this county.

The southwestern part of the township was from an early date known as "Kentuck." on account of its settlers emigrating from Kentucky.

After having thus described the natural features. briefly, and stating that the present population of the township is, or was, in 191o, two thousand two hundred and ninety, the reader will at once be introduced to the first settler here.


James Morrow was the first man to enter and claim land within what is now Coal Creek township. He arrived, or laid his claim to the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter of section 3o, township 20, of range 5 west, September 24, 1823.

The next to take land was Jonas Mann, who claimed the southeast quarter of section to, of same township and range, and David Shoemaker entered the west half of the southwest quarter of section 1, township 20 in range 6. The date of his land entry was November 25, 2825. Jacob Culver took the southeast quarter of section 34, same township and range.

In 1826 came in Elias Reea and entered the west half of the southeast quarter of section 1; Jacob Beedle, the east half of the southwest quarter of section 1; Simon Beedle, the west half of the northeast quarter of section 10; Abraham and James Thompson, the northeast quarter of section 15; Jacob Culver, the east half of the northwest quarter of section 34; John Culver, the southwest quarter of section 34, and Andrew Logan the west half of the northwest quarter of section 22 all in range 6 west.

The year last named, Christian Beever seems by the record to have entered the east half of the southeast quarter of section 25, but it is certain that he did not locate there until about 2829.

In 1827 came Elijah and Elizabeth Park, from near Lawrenceburg, Indiana. They settled in the northeast part of the township, where they resided until their death. They lived a long time in a tent.

September 22, 1826, Norah Insley landed in Fountain county, Indiana. He was by trade a cabinet maker, and spent the first year in Newtown and Attica, making furniture from the native forests. It was he who cut the first stick of timber for furniture uses in the Coal creek country. He stated that the first cabin he noticed in the country was that of Bostick, a squatter, on land later owned by Alexander McHarry. and for a time occupied by Ellis Insley, whose father had entered it. Bostick deserted the rude cabin on account of enroachments by the roving bands of Indians. The first permanent resident was Charles Reid, not far from the banks of Coal creek. At first, he stood amazed at meeting Insley, and wondered whether he was Indian or white man. Reid did not build until 1827, which was the first actual settlement improvement. That year many found their way into that section of the country, and Reid was no longer alone in the wilds.

Other settlers included Nathan Bull. James Morrow, John F. Clements, William Harris, Henry Clements, Vezy Tracy, John Tracy and Thomas Menarry. The last mentioned returned to Ohio after entering his land and married Emily Patton, landing in February, 1828, at Attica, Fountain county, via the Ohio and Wabash rivers. He had fifty dollars for the improvement of his newly entered claim, and with which to purchase food till he could raise a crop. He also brought forty yards of jeans for making clothes. A house of slabs was made, and in this the family lived two years. Later in life he possessed a good brick farm house and was in excellent financial circumstances. His landed estate was large.

James Meharry was also a settler in the township - one of the early ones to claim government land. Hugh Meharry, one of the most successful men in this county, entered his land in 1827, the same being the southeast quarter of section 3, range 6 west. In 1828 he brought his young wife to his slab and canvas house in which they lived one year. He owned his land, had twenty dollars in money, one horse and one ox, yet through his untiring energy, with that of his good companion, he finally possessed twenty thousand acres of valuable land. He had to go to Terre Haute to mill, and during his absence of five days his wife had to remain alone in the tent house. and hear the howling wolves beside her rude home. In 1881 the original claim of Mr. Meharrv. was owned and occupied by his son Alexander.

Christian Beever, Abraham McMorvins, James McKinney, John Alexander and Jesse Tracy all made early settlements in this township. Lewis Bible entered the north fraction of the northeast quarter of section 5. David Oppy owned the east half of the northeast quarter of section 8, and a part of section 9; Lewis Biddle, received a patent for a portion of section 8, and Stephen Biddle for portions of section 9. James Smith, Joseph Parke and James Taylor all claimed government land; also John Chenoworth took land in section 13 and section 14.

John Alexander built his cabin where John F. Alexander lived so many years afterward. He died in 1875. Lewis Bible and wife Mary and four children, came from Ohio and entered land in the southern part of Tippecanoe county, as well as in Coal Creek township, Montgomery county. The parents died there, highly honored and leaving a well known, respected family to inherit their possessions.

It was in 1828 that Absalom Kirkpatrick made his appearance in this county. He bought a quarter of government land at one dollar and twenty five cents per acre, having to borrow sixty dollars to complete payment. He moved on from Ohio with an ox team, driving his stock before him. After arriving, he built a "camp" with one side open, no floor, and a rough clapboard roof. He moved to this retreat December 1, 1828. Later a hewed log hbuse was provided, 18 by 26 feet, one story high, with clay and stick chimney. This cabin stood in the late eighties, though it had been covered by weather boarding of a modern make. In this the wife and mother died May 4, 1855, being then eighty years of age. Absalom Kirkpatrick was a magistrate for fourteen years, until he resigned. He was employed to locate the public road from Covington to Strawtown, a distance of seventy miles.

The settlers who made their way to Coal Creek township in 1829 ineluded these: Thomas Patton, Ann Cook, Abner Clark, Joseph E. Hayden, William Foote, Isaac Coon and a few more.

In 1830 came David Clarkson, John Rusted, Moses Rusted, Arthur Taylor,: Abraham Beede, Solomon McKizer, Michael Stout, Elisha Greenard, Asa Reeve, John Brown, Lewis Clarkson came in about that date, or a little later.

Samuel Kinkaid, a native of Ohio, emigrated to Crawfordsville about 1825, and there followed blacksmithing. In 1830 he removed to Coal Creek township, and there obtained the land on which now stands New Richmond, he purchasing the tract from Allen Beezley. Here he set going the first forge - and pounded the first anvil of all that region. He laid out the village of New Richmond and died in 1845, in Hamilton, Indiana, to which place he had moved. William Kincaid came to this state in 1829, secured a portion of section 4 and died in 1846.

Jacob Dazey and son Samuel made a trip on horseback in 1826 and examined this region, and in 1828 Jacob returned and entered a quarter section of land. This time he was delayed somewhat, so Samuel was started out to look for him. When Samuel gained the Black Swamps he was attacked by a couple of strange men who had followed him some distance, but drawing his revolver on them they dispersed. He found his father, unharmed and well and with him returned home.

The experience of pioneer Thomas Ward in 1830 was worth here preserving. He had arrived from England in 1829 with his young wife and came on here in 183o, by way of the lakes, thence up the Maumee. They brought everything they possessed in a canoe to Fort Wayne, sleeping in the woods, in caves. etc. They then had an infant who also was tucked into the frail canoe. They had a guide who attempted to rob them by cutting their boat adrift, then endeavored to convince them that the Indians had robbed them. Under such circumstances they reached Fort Wayne. There they loaded their few belongings on to a wagon that happened to be there. They took horses, Mrs. Ward carrying her precious babe. She twice waded the Wabash river with her infant in her dress skirt, being fearful of riding across. Thus traveling through the thick woods, now in a scarcely visible Indian trail, now lost and night coming on, all the time alone in the wilderness, they finally reached Lafayette in August. They soon pushed on to Coal Creek township. But here disappointed and disheartened at the prospects they set out for their return, but were prevailed on to remain. They bought land. erected a cabin, but the following spring sold out. Mr. Ward returned to England to settle up his business, then set sail for New York. He arrived and started for Indiana by canal. The canal freezing up, he returned to his starting point in the East. He then procured a team and sleigh and with this outfit crossed the country, being at one stream obliged to construct a bridge before crossing. About January 32, he reached Crawfordsville. The next spring he bought a quarter of land in Coal Creek township. living in a cabin already built in 2827. In their early experience here Mr. and Mrs. Ward used brush brooms, cracked corn in a stump hollowed out, using an iron wedge for a pestle: he killed a large amount of wild game. went without bread for seven weeks at once. thus dragged away the pioneer years. He bought potatoes and to preserve them from freezing covered them over in his cabin, but the hungry oxen searching for food broke into the house and devoured them. But through all of these changing experiences the lamp of love shone brightly in the hearts of the Englishman and wife. until they finally became counted among the wealthy and prosperous people of this township. This is but the story in brief and many others fared about as illy at first.

Following 1830, the settlement was more rapid. They came in great numbers around what later was styled Pleasant Hill. It was about this date that Isaac Montgomery settled in the township. The father, Alexander Montgomery. came to Crawfordsville in 1824. and there opened a shoe shop. While there young Isaac became a mail carrier from Crawfordsville to Lafayette. He made his two day trips once each week for which he received the sum of fifty cents. He carried the mail one year. He became a prosperous farmer of this township. Isaac H. Montgomery (says the record) made the last land entry in this township. the tract being the west half fraction of the northeast quarter of section 2. same town and range as that entered by Jacob Dazey, township 20, range 5 west.


More than fifty years ago this was a noted resort for pleasure seekers. It is now one of the finest in the state of Indiana, in many respects. It is located some two miles to the north of Wingate, a mile from the northwestern corner of Montgomery county. Old settlers meetings, religious services, picnics, etc., were frequently held at this beauty spot of Coal Creek township. It has plenty of fine shade trees, pure water and many things to attract the camper and pleasure seeker. These grounds contain forty acres. Here tens of thousands of people one time and another have assembled. The visitors have included such noted characters as Cyrus Nutt, President Berry, Bishop Bowman, Dr. Brenton, all who have preached to immense audiences. About 1875 a great temperance meeting and rally was held. The place was, many years ago, donated by the elder of the Meharry family. It is certainly a good and lasting monument to his honorable name. The political leaders have many years here assembled and expounded the "political issues" of the day.


In early days there was much sport at the corn husking bees in this and adjoining townships in Montgomery county. The younger and middle aged members of the community usually greatly enjoyed these times with a right good relish, if the ague did not prevent them being present. During the daytime the corn was jerked off the stalks and placed in a barn in vast quantities. At night all the young men in the neighborhood would assemble and get busy, the younger women also coming to the barn and participating in the work to some extent. Sometimes a hundred would he thus engaged to take the husks from off the golden corn. All talked, sung and laughed as they busily worked. The floor was then cleaned up, two or more fiddles brought out and then followed a genuine country "hoe down." Dancing went on till the wee small hours in the morning. Before the last set danced it was usually announced where the next "husking bee" would be pulled off. In a few weeks the corn of the settlement was all husked in this manner. Such things have long ago lost their charm for the young farmer and his sister. It is now, "Let us take a 'joy ride'."


Pleasant Hill, New Richmond, Boston Store and Round Hill were all postoffices at one time in the history of Coal Creek township: Some have long since been discontinued, and no signs of a hamlet now remain. In the early eighties Boston Store had an office and a blacksmith shop. New Richmond was laid out by Samuel Kinkaid, became a village of three stores, a blacksmith shop, several physicians, a church building and numerous dwellings. Among the well known and earliest doctors of the place was Dr. Manners. In 1910 the place had about 500 people.

About 1831, Christian Bevers laid out the town of Pleasant Hill which gave good promise of being a thriving town, but not haying railroad facilities it never materialized to any considerable extent. William Waddle opened a general store there, ran it a short time and closed down. Then James L. McKinney kept a general store, and quite a number of dwellings were erected. J. L. McKinney was the first postmaster, and David Shoemaker and his brother were the first blacksmiths. Mr. Vestfall kept a hotel with a sign flung out to the public reading, "Traveler's Rest." At first liquor was sold at the hotel bar and many drunks were reported as a result, but later schools and churches took the place of the saloon.

Wingate is really old Pleasant Hill village above named. but is of railroad day make up. It is on the "Clover Leaf" railroad, as is also New Richmond, both of which were greatly advanced by rail communication with the outside world. Wingate was given in the last (1910) census as having a population of four hundred and forty six. It is a good trading town and has all the common branches of business represented. Other chapters will cover the history of schools. churches and lodges with many other points.


Agricultural Implements - S. M. Mick, Charles P. Webb. Bank - The Farmers Bank. Bakery - M. S. Crane. Barbers - Frank Sheet, William Hayes. O. M. Chauncy. Blacksmith shops - Samuel Doss. Charles Harmon. Clothing - W. T. Mortimore. Drugs - Claude Menaugh. Dentist - H. B. Strain. D.D.S. Dry goods (general) - S. W. Gilkey. H. H. Gardiner. Drays and transfer - Charles French, Harry Breen. Harness - Saves Sheaffer. Furniture - same as hardware dealers. Fountain Produce Company - Chickens, turkeys, ducks, etc. Groceries - E. Y. Stokes, C. N. Sheetz. Jewelry - J. L. Duncan. Grain dealers - Crabb, Reynolds, Taylor Co., H. A. Freeman, manager. Garage - Busembark & Bunnell. Hardware - Moon & Hatton., Hotel - William Marmiduke, the "Good-nuff." Livery - Carl Wood, Lumber - W. H. Hunter, C. H. Hunter, manager. Millinery - S. M. Gilkey, Mill (saw) - A. B. Curtis. Meat market - Jacob C. Blacker; Ocheltree & Son: Newspaper - The News, by Mrs. Royalty. Postmaster - J. A. Long. Physicians - Drs. F. D. Allhands, J. W. Dickerson. Telephone company - "The Odell." Tailor - E. N. Paling. Tin shop and plumbing - A. L. Ludlow. Stock dealers - Crane & Genard. Undertaker - J. A. Galey. Veterinaries - Drs. C. C. Donaldson, Charles Dove. Wagon repairs - J. F. VanCleave.


The following is what is known as the "prize town or village history" of Wingate, as written for a ten dollar prize by John Blacker in the spring of 1912, of the high school of Wingate, the prize being offered by a lumberman of the town:

"The village of Wingate is situated on beautiful prairie land. At one time, however, there were many forests and swamps here. The forests have been hewn down and the swamps drained, so that now this is one of the most fertile spots in Indiana. The first grant of land assigned was to Christian Bever in 1826, who gave that part of it which extends from what is now known as Vine street, on the east, Main on the west, High street on the south, and Walnut on the north, for the site of the town. The Petersons, Wingate. Battle Ground. Snyder and Bolenburg additions were made later.

"The first building was the Christian church. It was erected on a beautiful knoll from which the town took the name of Pleasant Hill. Later the railroad station and postoffice were changed to Wingate. Afterwards the postoffice was called Whitlock, but finally all were changed to Wingate. The Beavers; McClures, Kosihones and Gilkeys were among the first settlers. Most of the names are familiar ones in town at present.

"The first business was a tan yard. It was owned by Aaron Gilkey. It was located near the present home of J. R. Crane.

"In 1840, a mail route was established. It ran overland between Crawfordsville and Williamsport. The route passed through Elmsdale, Pleasant Hill, Newton and Attica. Our modern service is a great improvement over the old way which *as by means of horses.

"A census was taken the last named year which showed the population to be one hundred and twenty.

"In 1854, the first Methodist Episcopal church was built. It was a large frame structure. The second story was used by the Masons and Sons of Temperance as lodge rooms. Later the building was replaced by the present one which is an up to date place of worship.

"The railroad, a narrow gauge, was surveyed in 1881. The first train ran from Frankfort to Wingate and back in the fall of the same year. Aaron Gilkey and J. C. Wingate were two of the first passengers to ride on the new road. About that time the name of the town was changed to "Wingate." This was in honor of J. C. Wingate, who was one of the foremost men of the community in promoting the welfare of the town, and now one of its oldest citizens. The railroad was made standard guage in 1891.

"Near the year 1854, a school house was built just west of Charles Goff's present house. This was a one story log structure. For desks they had rough hewn logs and other rude equipments. The boys and girls of those times had scarcely any of the advantages we have today. About two years later the second school house was erected in a field west of S. M. Gilkey's present residence. This was also a log structure. The third was built in 1860, a large frame building now known as the Mrs. Tiffany residence. The next building was made of brick and erected in 1896. and was replaced by our present commodious school building erected in 190. This building is the pride of the community and its equipment is far superior to the ordinary village school.

"In 1882, the first elevator was built, which later burned. Soon after William Houck established a horse power corn sheller east of where the east elevator now stands. We now have two elevators. The first. the east one, was erected in 1899 and the west one in 1901. During the grain selling season both of these are hardly able to take care of the bountiful harvests sown in the vicinitv.

"The Coal Creek Canning Company was established in 1899. This was a great help to the town. It employed more men than any previous industry, and was also a help to the farmers who raised sweet corn and tomatoes for the use of the factory. After running five years, it was torn down and a saw mill now marks its site. In 1904, the present Christian church was built. This fine brick structure has taken the place of the first building erected in the town. In July the same year the town suffered a severe loss by fire. The jewelry store, grocery store, saloon and some ice houses burned. The whole business block was threatened. This was quickly rebuilt. A two story brick building replaced the frame structure that burned.

"Wingate has grown from an Indian trail to a prosperous town. In the place of the early woods and marshes which once surrounded the village we now have a prosperous community. Modern buildings have replaced the former frame structures until now we have up to date churches a consolidated school, well equipped stores, barber shops, blacksmith shops, and an excellent lumber yard. We also have railroad, telephone and livery service with all the conveniences of a small village. If Wingate continues to prosper in the future, as it has in the past and there is no reason why it should not, the greater part of its history is yet to be written."

It should be added that Wingate is an incorporated town, has no saloons and is one of the best built small towns in the country. Here refinements and education and good manners prevail. It is the home of three excellent secret orders - Masonic, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Knights of Pythias.

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