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

SUGAR CREEK TOWNSHIP.

The northeastern township in Montgomery county is called Sugar Creek. It comprises township 20 of range 3 west, by government survey. It is bounded on the north by Tippecanoe county, on the east by Clinton and Boone counties, on the south by Franklin, on the west by Madison township of this county. It has thirty three sections of land; originally it had thirty six. Its surface is varied. It is broken on the south, though not considered hilly. One of its finest portions is what is known as Potato Creek prairie, one of the finest of the farming sections, and for many years was held in large tracts by a few men. Potato creek flows southwest over the prairie, affording fine drainage. Where Sugar creek now flows, at an early day, it was little more than a large slough overgrown with tall grass, high enough to hide froth view a man on horseback. Teams seldom tried to cross the stream, if indeed it might be so called. The prairie and creek alike, took their names from the wild potatoes then found growing in the bed of the slough. On these vegetables. it is related, wild hogs thrived and fattened into good "porkers." In bunches, these potatoes resembled wild artichokes. As the country settled up both the wild hog and the food he liked so well disappeared from the country. The prairie section of this township has a deep black soil, most excellent for corn, but no good for the small grains. In the south and east parts the small grains and grasses thrive in luxuriance. The hest forests of this township are seen in the central part. As early as 1880 it was estimated that fully three fourths of this township was under good state of cultivation. When first seen by white men this township had only small trees in its forests, and for this reason the cabin homes could he seen for miles around, but as the fires were kept out of the timber lands the trees became larger and soon hid from view many of the farm houses.

INDIANS IN THE TOWNSHIP.

The Indians had not yet left the county when this township was first entered by white men. The tribes represented were mostly the Pottawatomie and Miami, the former tribe was war like, while the latter was more friendly to the white race. The Miami made many warn friends among the pioneers. Each autumn they would return to hunt the wild turkey and deer. This continued up to 1833. These red men had their own peculiarities. They would not consign their dead to the cold, damp earth. William Corns, an old time settler, relates how a papoose was buried in the trunk of a fallen tree. First a hole was cut in the side of the trunk, a piece split out, which later was fitted in as a lid or covering for the casket. They then hollowed out the trunk sufficiently deep to receive the form of the deceased papoose, which they then tucked carefully away, covering it with the outside chip or covering above named.

Another body was buried on land later owned by M. Irvin, in a hollow poplar stump. Near by and to the west. another body was placed in the top of a tree by means of a blanket.

A great "medicine man" lived on Potato creek, on a rising knoll. The Indians camped there in great numbers. There the medicine man (doctor) prepared a peculiar, but very effective, "bath." He made him a basin in the earth, lining it with stones. for the treatment of those who were ill. Especially was this done in case of fevers. First he would heat this stone basin hot by fire applied to the stones. after which the fire, embers and all ashes were removed. He then erected a tent over the basin and the patient was placed in the tent (same as one now takes a steam bath), and was then subjected to the steaming process by water being poured into the heated stone basin. The principle was correct and was used in the early water cure systems of doctors of the white race.

EARLY SETTLEMENT.

It was about 1828 when settlers commenced to come into this part of Montgomery county to effect permanent settlement. John Clouser was the first known to have settled here. He arrived in 1828. and erected a mill in which the early settlers had grists ground, but not fine, for the appliances and machinery were not built that way. It was made of round logs, with neither chinking nor mortar daubing, as was the usual custom. His son, Daniel. once remarked that "You might have thrown your hat through it anywhere. The burrs were made of rough nigger head stones. but nature had made them of granite. For a few years this mill made only meal but later a new one was built on the opposite side of the stream, and it continued to run until 1850, when another mill was erected on the same mill site by the Clouser brothers, sons Of the first settler.

Among other early pioneers there may be recalled Elijah Rogers, G. W. Cook, William Corns and several whose names are now forgotten with the rush and press of years.

Between 1828 and 1830, three miles to the north of this first settlement, was another effected by the families of Martin Bowers, Abner Bowers, James Allen, William Rakestraw, Samuel Irvin, John Butcher, Milo Waugh and George Kendal, In the northwest part of the township Samuel and Solomon Peterson settled on Potato Creek prairie.

By 1830 Sugar Creek township began to be sparsely settled, but from that year on immigration was made very rapid for a number of years. Ohio and Virginia sent forth her sons and daughters in large colonies. The pioneers who chanced to reside here in the never to be forgotten winters of 1830-31-22 suffered untold hardships. Those who settled in the timber, however, soon had comfortable homes, large "clearings" made in the woods and everything took on a more homelike and prosperous look. Money they did not possess, and luxuries were not to be dreamed of, but because they owned their own homes they felt happy and contented. They were a very hospitable people, as are their sons and daughters three generations removed.

MARKETS.

Until about 1840 this part of the country had no markets nearer than Louisville and Chicago. It took two weeks to make the rotund trip to either city. Stock was bought and driven on to Ohio. Then the cattle and swine were not of the fancy, well kept and fat breeds of today, hence could stand this long trip quite well. Hogs seldom ever saw corn until caught and placed in the pen where they were fed it a few weeks and killed. At the opening of the canal to Lafayette produce could be exchanged either for money or goods and that at fair prices. It was then that the homes of these Sugar Creek settlers begun to look up and take on an air of real comfortably living. The rude log but was torn down and a better house provided. Cotton goods took the place of the heavy hard tow linen used before that date. From then on coffee and tea and New Orleans sugar might have been seen upon their tables opened up another outlet. The present Vandalia system traverses a portion of the township. making its exit at the northeastern corner. Abner 'Bowers gave the land on which stands the depot at the village hearing his name. It is situated on sections 23 and 26. and affords a good shipping point.

About 1880 one of the first gravel roads in the county was put through this part of the county. While its cost was great. no one today would take back what their land was assessed for its construction.

A distillers and tannery was once operated in this township. The distillery was operated by J. Sariolid. and it was located near the Clouser mill. John D. Coiner run the tannery until it was no longer a thing of profit to him.

FIRST AND OTHER EVENTS.

Gleaning from various sources the author has been able to obtain numerous interesting events of early day affairs. which will he grouped under the above caption:

It is supposed that the first child horn in this townships was Nathan Kious, son of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Kious.

The first to die within the township was a Mr. Little who was buried on the farm of Solomon Peterson.

The year 1844 - the "wet season" - saw harvesters carrying the wheat from the low grounds to the uplands. where it was bound and shocked.

The hard winter of 1854-55 there was a great snow fall. roads being entirely blocoed many weeks and teams with loads went over the highest rail fences.

The only black bear ever known to have been seen or killed in the township was brought down by the trusty rifle of Samuel Trvinn.

One old settler affirmed that wild hogs were so numerous that they would frequently attack bogs and the animals would run to their masters for protection. The only means the men had to save their own lives was to speedily climb a nearby tree. After the clogs had been eaten by the hogs. the animals then set to work to gnaw down the tree. in which the man frequently had to remain for hours at a time.

The oldest settlers residing in the township in 1880 were: William Corns, G. W. Cook. Mrs. Abigail Butcher. Mrs. John Allen. Misner John Mitchell. Abner Bowers and Edmund Bowers.

During Civil war days - 1861 to 1865 - John Mitchell was secretary and Milton B. Waugh captain of what was termed "Home Guards." Of this society it may be narrated that in 1863 they were called upon to repel Morgan's raiders from Indiana. Then it was that the women of this township showed the Same loyal spirit displayed by the mothers and sisters in old Revolutionary times. It happened in harvest time, and every able bodied man was either in the South as a soldier or in this guard doing good work at home. The women went to the harvest fields, and some, carrying a prattling baby in their arms, sought to do their share of securing the ripening grain which the family would be sure to need in the coming winter.

The scythe and sickle finally had to be relegated and the improved machinery took its place. The first reaping machine in this neighborhood was of the McCormick type, bought by George Smith and Martin Bowers, in 1848.

Threshing machines made their appearance in 1846, and the first steam threshers in 1864, when it was hard to secure help to run them, or even to work with them, as all feared they would "blow up" and kill the workmen and destroy the crop of grain. This, however, has all changed, for we never see the low down or elevated horse power machines any more.

Corn planters came into use here in 1859, when one was bought by James Cay; the two horse planter came in 1865, purchased by William Bryant.

The transformation has been great in the passing of a half century and more. Then the possessor of a few acres of the forest, perhaps worth two dollars an acre, with tools to fell the forest kings and split rails or to dig up roots, a good buckskin suit, a peck of meal, and a cabin, was believed to be rich; now such an one is considered, if they can be found, the poorest of earth.

The population of Sugar Creek township, according to the last (1910) United States census reports, was nine hundred and three.

The schools, churches and lodges are all treated under proper headings in other sections of this work.


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