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


The smallest subdivision of Montgomery county is called Ripley township. It is on the western border line, west from parts of Brown and Union townships and south of Wayne township, while to its west is Fountain county. It has an area of about thirty one square miles, and is a portion of three Congressional townships. In 1910 it had a population of one thousand and seventy.

The surface, save that next to the river, is generally undulating, though far from being rough and broken. There is much pleasing in the natural landscape scenes of this part of the county, especially along the Rock river, which localities have years ago been visited by sketchers and artists. Cliffs rising almost straight up seventy feet line the Ripley side of that beautiful stream. This, added to the grottoes and caves, with small water falls, are ever a feast to the eye of the beholder. Many pictures and cuts have in recent years been made of these natural scenes.

Originally the township was heavily timbered by great forest kings, of giant growth, and today would be worth thousands upon multiplied thousands of dollars. As late as 188o there were five mills constantly sawing up these trees, until today the timber is quite scarce.

Ripley has no railroads, but its people have made great wealth by their industry and frugality.


Wilson Claypool has the undisputed honor of having been the first of his race to invade the wilds of this portion of the county. He arrived there, it is usually believed, in the summer of 1820, or 1821, thus making him one of the first in this county. He built his log cabin on the banks of Sugar creek, near Indian Ford. He only remained a couple of years and moved on to the great unknown West. He sold to one John Swearengen from Ohio. The cabin erected by pioneer Claypool was the last one on the western outpost of this portion of Indiana. Next to come in were M. Ham and Daniel Hopkins, who each took up claims. In 1825 came Joseph Swearengen, after which a large number drifted in from Ohio and other states to the east and south.

Wild hogs, fattened on the nuts from the beech trees. were in condition by the time the early snows fell, and then anyone was free to kill them, besides deer and an occasional bear if one was handy with his rifle. In this way the pioneer band existed quite comfortably for the first few years they lived in this township.

For a number of years Cincinnati, Ohio, was the trading place for the people living here. To that river city they would take their pork, maple sugar from the trees of their forests. and such of their grain crop as was not needed at home for bread and feed. These were there exchanged for groceries and dry goods such as this county did not then afford them. Their cattle grazed in the woods. Hogs ran wild and no care was ever taken of them. until "butchering season" came round. when each settler was supposed to own as many as he could well call, home with him (with rifle in hand). As late as 1881 Patrick Ham. a pioneer. still lived in the township. as did the "oldest resident:" Alexander Thompson. horn in Pennsylvania in 1786. arriving here in the fall of 1827.

Of the numerous schools and churches other chapters will treat.


The principal town in Ripley township is Alamo, laid out into town lots in 1837 by Samuel Truax, in section 23 of township i8. Its proprietor.. in conjunction with the surveyor. Mr. Boyce. really planned a speculative "paper town." so popular in early clays as well as in the far western country even now, but failed to make their advertising of "public squares" streets named for all the great heroes of the earth to materially attract capital: hence they fell back on the more sensible method of selling lots at auction to men who were on the ground and could see the land and possible prospects for the town's growth themselves. The first store was erected in 1840 by Noah Grimes. The first cabin in the place was built by Barney Deets. The town derived its name from that famous Mexican fort at San Antonio. Texas, made famous in the days of the war this country had with Mexico. It now has about two hundred population. It has a few shops and stores, is a convenient place in which to do trading in a small way.

Yountsville, on Sugar creek, is five miles \vest of Crawfordsville. It was made. popular by the woolen goods made there by the Younts and their descendants, years gone by. This industry was first established there about 1840. Farmers brought their wool there for a distance of fifty miles and exchanged it for cloth there made. With the flight of time and changes in manufacturing, these mills were shut clown, and the call for Younts woolen goods cannot be longer supplied. The brick mill erected there in 1864 was fifty by seventy feet, and in 1867 a large wing was added which was three stories high. The annual business amounted to about seventy five thousand dollars. Nothing has been done there since the nineties.

In 1895 there was a census taken for this township by the Sunday school and church workers of the county, which showed the following facts: Total population. 1,219: church members, 397: not church members, 822 number in Sunday schools. 430: number out of Sunday schools, 789: number of families without a Bible. 26. But times have materially changed since then and good church. school and Sunday schools have since then been the general rule.

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