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

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP.

What is styled in the government of Montgomery county as Franklin civil township, is situated in the eastern tier of townships in the county, and is west of Boone county, south of Sugar creek, east of Union and north of Walnut township and is geographically described as being in Congressional township 19, range 3 west. This township has been changed from the original survey, which is given below: In 1831, at the May term of the county commissioner's court. Franklin township was set off as follows: "Beginning at the southeast corner of Sugar Creek township (township 20, range 3); thence south eight miles; thence west six miles; thence north eight miles; thence east six miles to place of beginning." At the September term of the same year the commissioners changed Franklin township to accommodate the survey of the new township called Walnut. This left Franklin comprising township 19, range 3 west, in which boundary it stood until 1845, when that part of sections 34, 35 and 36 in Sugar Creek township. lying south of Sugar creek was taken from said township and attached to Franklin. The territory now embraces thirty eight square miles or sections of land. Its population in 1910 was given by the United States census reports as one thousand nine hundred and twenty eight.

The land is here quite even and level, well adapted to agricultural purposes to which it has long been put. and by reason of which its residents have become independent and prosperous, as a general rule. There were, originally, numerous swamps within this township, but they have long since disappeared by a system of ditches cut that have made the land once thought to be almost worthless, the most valuable in the township. There is a natural water shed running through the township, dividing the waters of the Walnut fork from those of the Sugar creek streams and running parallel with the latter. This rises in the eastern portion of the township to the north and crosses south of the middle of the western border to the junction of these waters north of the city of Crawfordsville. On either side of this ridge springs abound, whose waters on the north flow to Sugar creek and those on the south side to Walnut fork. The banks of both Sugar creek and Walnut fork present irregularities, from rugged to steep cliffs to gentle slopes. Under the surface is a sub soil of sand, gravel, shale, and clays, intermixed with every variety of fertilizing material. This found, in places to extend down as deep as one hundred feet and in several cases as deep as two hundred feet. This makes an inexhaustible warehouse of the most reliable soil. The general surface soil in this township is rich and produces its annual crops of grains and grasses common to this latitude. The grasses grow well, and for this reason many stock raisers have here settled and gone into the raising and feeding of fine grades of cattle. While corn has come here, as elsewhere in Indiana, to be the staple crop, yet much grain is produced here and there throughout this township. The drainage is excellent and the supply of water good, but not so great as in early days, before the land was broken up into plowed fields. Sugar creek and its branches are the chief streams. It furnished excellent water power at one time utilized by the pioneers who there found fine mill sites. Among the pretty tributaries of Sugar creek are Honey creek, Middle Fork, Big Run, Hazel creek, etc.

At one time there were numerous orchards in the township, but of late years the farmer has not taken due care or been so much interested in fruit as a means of making money, as he has in raising corn and stock. However, there may still be seen many bearing orchards and probably sufficient fruit is produced to give a fair supply for home consumption.

Originally this township was largely a forest land with great timber growing on its surface, but with the passing of decades, all has been cleared away to make room for the plowman and the resulting large fields of waving grain and corn. Among the varieties of native timber found growing here may be named the white pine, cedar, poplar, beech, sugar maple, black walnut, oak of five species, chestnut and burr being among the varieties of oak; hickory, elm, dog wood, willow, alder, crabapple and thorn apple. Here was the home of much game, including the bear, the wolf. the buffalo and the fleet footed deer, all of which have long since been driven from the country. Then there was the fox, wild cat. lynx, raccoon, oppossum, rabbit, pole cat, woodchuck, mink, squirrel, martin and weasel. The game birds included the wild turkey, partridge and quail, also the duck and geese flocks innumerable. Of plants and flowers there were one hundred and ten families and nine hundred species. These bloomed on the banks of the beautiful streams and along the edges of the forests; also in the morasses and lowlands.

THE TOWNSHIP'S ORGANIZATION.

For various reasons, in this instance, the history of the organization of the township will be referred to prior to the subject of "Early Settlers" in this chapter.

In the May term of the commissioner's court for this county it was ordered that the township be organized into a separate government and the first election was ordered held at the house of Aaron Stewart, in the month of September, at which time two justices were to be elected, also two constables. The county sheriff was ordered to give public notice of such election. At the same time care for the unfortunate poor of the new township was looked after in the appointment of overseers, J. R. Robbins and Aaron Stewart. The autumn election resulted in the election of William Stewart and Isaac Sutton as justices of the peace and Fielding Betts as constable. It does not appear in record that any other constable was elected, so possibly the people were law abiding and only required one.

When first formed this township only had one trustee and he was William H Endicott. Twenty years later, under the new state code, three trustees were required in each civil township. and with them was a treasurer and secretary. The first board was made up of Thomas H. Mikles, James McClaskey and Nathaniel Booker. With the usual changes of township government in the state this township has fallen into the various new fangled rules and managed its affairs with much credit.

THE FIRST TO ENTER LANDS.

In the month of March, 1822, Louis L. Cooper entered the first tract of government land within what is now Franklin township. It was a part of section 33. This is three miles west of Shannondale - here then commenced the work of developing this goodly township. In November. the same year, came Samuel Flanigan to section 3; Abner Crane in section 8; James Ventiner in section 32, and James Scott in section 32. About the same date a part of a section of land was entered in section 4 by James Abernathy. November 9, of the year last named, Louis L. Cooper also entered another tract in section 33. Then followed William B. Guthrie, in section 8. In 1823 there were eight purchases made: William Pickett, James Abernathy, Joseph Cox, Abner Crane and Thomas Pettenger. The largest sale of public land in this township was on June 2, 1832, when section 16 was sold to Solomon Bigler, Daniel Willis, William Cox and Anthony Brown. Of this Brown bought four hundred acres. Prior to 183o there had been one hundred and nine land entries made, and up to 1837 there were made one hundred and eighty six land sales, which ended the sale of lands by the government land office, which had then been removed from Terre Haute to Crawfordsville. Thomas Gray bought the last tract, it being situated in section 24, the date being October 3, 1837.

Then it has been established that the township was first settled in 1823, but the homes in that and the following year were few and far between. These included Henry Wiseheart, John Harland, Samuel Flanigan and John Brewer. Wiseheart came in the fore part of 1823 and settled in the vicinity of present Darlington and erected his cabin for his family and then cleared up land enough on which to raise a crop. He was the first in his part of the township. His only neighbors were the Indians, who were peaceable and friendly toward him. Later that year John Abernathy settled in the present limits of the town, and built a small cabin near the present Christian church site. He soon lost his wife and child and, leaving them in a lonely graveyard in the howling wilderness, he returning home the same year.

October 7, 1824 came in John Harland and family and occupied the forsaken cabin left by Abernathy. William Harland, later a citizen of Darlington, when a lad used to have for his playmates red children of the wild woods. He used to narrate many interesting things concerning the Indians and their customs and could speak parts of their language. In 1834 John Brewer, an old bachelor, came to the settlement and took government land and built him a but of rails, in which he constructed his bed by driving stakes in the ground on which he laid one end of the beams of his bedstead and the other end in the cracks of the building, then covered it over with sticks, on which he laid his pallet of straw or wild grass. His fire, when needed, was built on the ground near the doorway to afford him protection against the prowling of wild beast at night, who might come seeking a morsel of food that he might have thrown from his improvised house. Thus he spent one winter, and during the next summer he sold his claim, or lease on the land he had taken of the government. The land fell into the hands of Brewer Blalock, who cleared it up. Next there was a settlement opened in what is now a part of Franklin township, to the southward, on the waters of the Middle Fork of Sugar creek. To these were added the names of Atwell Mount, Aaron Stewart, Samuel Flanigan, Joseph Cox, Henry Wisehcart, James Tribett, Elisha Cox, Jacob Booker, James Hopper, James McClaskey, Robert Craig, Enoch Peacock. Solomon Bond. J. C. Remley and possibly a few more. All settled before 183o. From that date on the settlements were made too numerously to here trace out their comings and goings.

FIRST IMPROVEMENTS.

The first things needed most for internal improvements in the new country was the construction of mills and factories. The first mill in the township was by Enoch and Benjamin Cox about 1833, on Sugar creek, one mile to the east of the present town of Darlington. In 1832 they had put in a saw mill, in which lumber was cut for building their flouring mill. These two mills were greatly needed by the farmers.

The second mill was built by Enoch Cox on Honey creek, a half mile below Darlington. in 1844. But here the supply of water was poor and after a short time the mill was abandoned.

The first woolen mill in the township was erected by Robert Cox; it was located on Sugar creek, a half mile above Darlington, and was run by water power drawn from the creek in a flume or race. Benjamin Cox, at a very early day, built an oil mill one mile below Darlington. To this he subsequently added a carding mill, which was run with success for several years. Silas Kenworth built a flouring mill in 1847 that was still doing good service in the early eighties. It was a three story structure.

The first hotel in the township was built before 1830, before the organization of Franklin township, proper. It stood where the town of Darlington now stands, and consisted of a hewed log structure, built by Robert Nickerson. It was used as a hotel until 1837, when it was removed for dwelling purposes. The town was platted in 1836 and this hotel was built about the same date.

The first store in the township was opened by Robert Cox in a frame building within what is now the town of Darlington.

DARLINGTON.

This town is in the northwestern part of the township, a half mile from Sugar creek, on the Honey Creek branch. It is now a station on the andalia railroad, nine miles northeast from Crawfordsville It was originally platted by pioneer Enoch Cox, February 1, 1836, in the northeast corner of section 8. John Abernathy was the original owner of this tract of land, but it fell to the ownership of Mr. Cox, who planned to lay out a town site there, which he wisely accomplished. A postoffice was secured in 1842 with William Armstrong as postmaster. Other postmasters have been Margaret Beck, Jacob Harnsbeck, D. D. Dyson, J. M. Hollingsworth and T. B. McCune. According to the census of 1910 Darlington had a population of seven hundred and eighty. It has five secret orders, two banks, two newspapers, three hardware stores, two drug stores, five groceries, with many shops and restaurants; also an undertaking establishment. It is a "dry" or saloonless town. Improvements are excellent, including a system of water works. The grain elevator and grist mill add to the trade and wealth of the place, which is conducted on purely modern and thoroughly up to date notions. (See other general chapters for schools and churches.)

BUSINESS INTERESTS, ETC., 1913.

Banks, Farmers and Merchants', People's Banking Company, and Darlington State bank; bakery, Fletcher & Co.; blacksmith shops, W. C. Painter, Moore & Miles, William Block. Welliver Brothers; barber shops, Butler & Warren, Henry Justice, C. W. Burk, Thomas Campbell; dry goods, G. O. Goddard, C. C. Thompson; drugs, Campbell & Kersey, Mrs. M. A. Greene; dray line, Frank Smith; dentist, B. O. Flora. D. D. S.; furniture, Brainard & Butler; grocers, Isaac Carrick, J. M. Woody, V. Craig, D. K. Young 0 M. Mote; grain dealer, "Farmer's Co-operative Company:" garage, Booher & Booher; hardware Flanigam & Booker. Cox & Booker. Anuial Booher: hotel, Sands House; jeweler, Ed. Stephenson; livery, William Hiatt & Son; lumber, Joshua Saida & Son; meat market, R. H. Snyder; mill (saw), W. P. Lynch, (feed), Cox & Malsbary; newspapers, Echo and Record; notary public, Samuel Martin; photographer. John R. Rettinger; postmaster. W. C. Woody; physicians, Drs. Peacock, Kendall, Pollom; shoe repairer, Calvin Toney: restaurants, J. H. Lewis. Floyd Hopper, Ben Honeker; sheet metal, tin and plumbing. W. W. Chambers & Son, Chesterson & Carrick; tailoring, E. Chambers.

TOWN INCORPORATION.

The present town board is made up as follows: President, Alexander Buchanan; George Booker, F. W. Campbell. Clerk and treasurer, N. A. Booher; marshal, William Hiatt; health officer, Dr. Peacock.

About 1897 a system of water works was put in; at first springs were used for a supply of water, but these failing a system of excellent drive wells was installed, and from these waters of the purest kind is pumped and a direct pressure is had. This plant, however, is a stock company's property and not owned by the town. The town, however, owns its own lighting plant, which is of the acteclene type and affords a good illumination for public streets and stores, as well as residences. A volunteer fire company composed of ten citizens, with D. V. Booher as chief, wards off the fire fiend by a hook and ladder and hose cart apparatus.

The public school building was burned in the autumn of 1912 and will be rebuilt this season.

The churches of Darlington are the Methodist, Presbyterian, two Christian and Society of Friends. These all have church buildings of their own.

R. C. Kise Post No. 437, Grand Army of the Republic. organized about 1885, now has but ten members and its adjutant is Samuel S. Martin, with E. P. McCloskey as commander.

VILLAGE OF SHANNONDALE

This village is situated in the extreme southeastern portion of Franklin township, and it was platted in 1857, by Isaac Cane .and George A. Woods. It has never materialized to be much of a trading center. It has but a dozen or so buildings; a store, a school, and church, with three physicians. It is now only one mile north of the interurban line running from Indianapolis, which of itself is unfortunate.

HOME OF THE LATE GOVERNOR MOUNT.

Franklin township has the honor, for such it is, to have been the lifelong home of the late deceased Governor James A. Mount, who was originally in youth from Boone county, this state, but spent almost his entire life in this township. He was a farmer, good and successful and true in all that pertained to agriculture and stock raising. He was elected governor by twenty thousand majority, on the Republican ticket and served four years faithfully and impartially. He owned a splendid five hundred acre farm in this township, about four miles south from Darlington. In 1895 he erected one of the most up to date houses in all western Indiana, at a cost of ten thousand dollars. He finished his term of office as governor in 1901 and was tendered a reception upon his retirement. After the closing scenes of this he was packing up preparatory to going back to the farm he so dearly loved. He said: "I am tired of public life and want to go home and shake hands with my neighbors." But ere the time arrived he was taken suddenly ill and died at a hotel in Indianapolis. His remains were buried in Oak Hill cemetery at Crawfordsville. His good wife passed from earth's shining circle in about four years after his death. They left two children - Rev. Mount, of the Pacific coast, and a daughter, now Mrs. Charles Butler, who occupies the old homestead in Franklin township.


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