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


Walnut is the second civil township from the south and the third from the north line of Montgomery county, with Boone county on its east. It is six miles square, and received its name from Walnut creek, along the banks of which were originally found growing great tracts of large black walnut trees. The township was organized in 1831 and its first election held that year, and at such election pioneer Jesse Goben selected this name for the newly organized sub division of the county. It is for the most part a level township, and is bounded on the north by Franklin township, on the south by Clark township, on the west by Union.

Ninety three years ago no trace of human habitation could have been seen in this township. The howl of wolves and scream of panthers, and the wierd noise produced by the owls of the woodlands were the only sounds that greeted the first white men who invaded this section of Montgomery county. Dense was the forest and deep was the sticky mud of the virgin soil. But all has been changed. The streams that make glad the heart of man and beast found flowing through this domain are the Walnut, Sandy and Spring branches. Cornstalk branch, named for old Cornstalk, the noted Indian chief, begins its course in section 22 and passes out of the township from section 32. Across the northwest courses Boulder Dyke, moraine of ancient glaciers, where the "niggerhead" tells of a foreign home. In this wilderness it is said that James Berry hunted and trapped before the war of 1812, in which war he took part, leaving here in time to help fight the battle of Tippecanoe, November 7, 1811. Endowed with every conceivable trait of character, men have seemingly been raised up to meet any and all emergncies, as will be seen by the following concerning the


of this township: Probably Jesse Welch, with Henry Long not far behind, was first to come to this section of the county to reside. Sometime prior to 1824 these men came in and land entries were made, even earlier than this, for the records show that September 22, 1822, Mary Winter entered, or caused to be entered, the southwest quarter of section 24. In 1823 John Elimore entered the west half of the northwest quarter of section 7. In 1824 Joseph Streatch claimed by entry rights the west half the southwest quarter of section 8, and John Kimble the west half of the southwest quarter of section 7, while Cealey Oxley entered the east half of the northwest quarter of section 7 in 1825.

It was also in 1825 that Stephen Williams with his wife and seven children came from Wayne county, Indiana, whither Mr. and Mrs. Williams had emigrated from North Carolina to Montgomery county and settled five miles east of Crawfordsville. within the present limits of Wayne township. For six years they resided about six miles northwest of Fredericksburg, then moved to Union township, and there Stephen Williams died in the spring of 1875. Mr. Welch had built the first cabin in the township. This mansion of the woods, as called by some poetic pioneers, was eighteen by twenty four feet, with a chimney in the corner. In its attic was kept the choice grain. and it also Served for a workshop on rainy clays. It is told of him that when neighbors bought shelled corn of him he required them to pour it out of the measure, after shelling, then scoop it up again so it might he loose in the bushel. This house stood a little over a mile to the north of Mace, on what was later the Johnson property. Stephen Williams. just named, built the second cabin Ain the township.

In 1826 Matthew Huston entered the west half of the northwest quarter of section 19. township 18, range 3 west. In July, 1837. Cyrus Crain entered the east half of the northwest quarter of section 17, township 18. range 3, and a part of the northeast quarter. He built a log cabin, this being the third in the township. It was eighteen feet square. round logs, a hole cut through for an entry: no door, window or floor made with man's hands. so woman need not scrub. In October following his family arrived. Cyrus Crain died in 1846. He was a local preacher of the Baptist church, and the first to locate within this township. In October, 1827 Jerre West emigrated to Walnut township, but left his goods at Crane's house and went on to Shawnee prairie. Later he returned and entered land in the southeast quarter of section 7, and he erected the fourth cabin in this township. Henry Long, who had been here before that date, entered land in the west half of the northeast quarter of section 7, in the month of February, and Ebenezer Rake entered the east half of the southeast quarter of section 21.

Evi Martin, born 1796, and who still lived in 1811, came from Miami county, Ohio. to this county, landing at his father's house in Union township, November 26, 1827. He soon entered a farm, being situated in the south half of the southwest quarter of section 7, and the north half of the northwest quarter of section 18, township 18. range 3 west, of Walnut township. In December, that year, was erected the fifth house in the township its owner was Mr. Martin. The bedstead for this cabin was made by using one post, two poles. two augur holes. and a few clapboards. Into this bed the pioneer and wife retired first on the night of February 4, 1828. Here in this neighborhood they toiled ten years without purchasing a nail. and then paid twelve and a half cents per pound: eight dollars a barrel for salt, and got sixty cents a bushel for the wheat they raised. while butter and eggs had no market at any price.

In 1828 Samuel Cornell entered the west half of the southeast quarter of Section 6. Mr. Cornell was a thorough temperance man and opposed to intoxicating liquors at log rollings. house raisings, harvesting. etc. He announced his radical principles. and when the time came to raise his house no one appeared, while before that time men would come gladly for many miles to help a new comer do such work. A good old Quaker. hearing of this man and his temperance principles, soon got help enough to assist in raising the cabin. This man's influence started the wave of temperance in the township and it was not long before the habit of treating at such working bees was a thing of the past. Right will ever prevail.

In 1828 John Young. William Wilson. Samuel Scholley and his son John. Moses and Joseph Stewart. Ebenezer Kake. William B. Handley, Moses Williams. Solomon Beck. ali took out land patents in this township.

In 1829 there were no settlements to speak of only in the northwest and northeast portions of the township, but during the year last named settlements were projected to the south. Wilson Browning and wife and James B. Jessee. wife and infant came in. The two men built a cabin together and lived in the same the first winter. In 1830 Mr. Browning. being ill. wanted to visit an Indian doctor named Dudley in Kentucky. So Mr. Jessee, his nephew. set out with him for that purpose. Arriving at Indianapolis the sick man was unable to go farther and there died in September following and was there buried. This was doubtless the first death of a settler of Walnut township. His widow married again but removed from the township. Tames B. Jessee built a cabin where later stood the flouring mill, and there he kept an occasional traveler. He also made a few pair of clumsy shoes or anything that he could turn his hands to. In a short time he received sixty dollars from his brother in Virginia on a debt due him. He then borrowed twenty dollars at Crawfordsville, paying twenty per cent. interest. With the eighty dollars he purchased his first "eighty" of land. He prospered until he owned a farm of two hundred and forty acres and was surrounded by numerous neighbors. He used to draw wheat to Chicago, sold pork at one dollar and twenty five cents per hundred, and went to Attica for salt, paying eight dollars and fifty cents a barrel.

During the year 1830 the settlers included these: John Rouck, David Stuart, Andrew B. Jones, Joseph Caraway, George Watkins, William N. Yowell, Nathan Crawford, Anthony Beck, William Beck, Jeptha Beck, H. F. Beck, all of whom entered government land and made homes for themselves. This was the starting of a settlement that later became known as Beckville.

Another family of immigrants of 1830 that swelled this colony was that of William and Rachel Lockridge from Augusta county, Virginia, who had seven children - Eliza, Harvey, John, James, Isabella, Margaret and Rebecca. After building a house and clearing up about sixty acres from out the dense forests, Mr. Lockridge died in 1846. He has served in the war of 1812, and his father was wounded at the battle of Cowpens, in the Revolutionary struggle. His wife died about 1843. The same season or the next, at latest, came in Joseph Spohr, Frederick Long, William Brooks, James Bridge, Robert Hamilton, Jere Graves, Peter Binford, and Hannah Halley, all making land entries. A little later John Linn entered land. He was born in 1800 in Pennsylvania. but had spent some years in Ohio before settling here in Walnut township. By trade he was a mason and noted for his strength and hard working qualities. At his death he possessed five hundred and eighty acres of choice land. He was a justice of the peace for a number of years and a class leader in the Methodist Episcopal church. He passed from earth in 1858, greatly missed by the pioneer band.

In 1831 the inhabitants were increased by the arrival of Henry Miller, Geradus R. Robbins, Aaron S. Stewart. John Kiser, William Adair, Andrew Stewart, David Chambers, John Pottenger, John Poage and a few more. In 1832 came in John H. Pogue, William Batton, James C. Scott, Littleton Fender, Jonathan Fender, Richard Kumler, Moses Kumler, James Strain, John Walkup, Jonas Winter, Godfrey Van Scoyoe, Jesse Winter. It was also in 1832 when David Spohr and wife Selena (Foster) Spohr made their appearance in this township, bringing with them two children - Nancy Jane and John. He entered the east half of the southeast quarter of section 10, his land patent being signed by President Andrew Jackson. They came in a four horse wagon from Virginia. Another family, William and Mary Foster, with three boys accompanying them, came in the one vehicle. Mrs. Spohr rode for hours together, on the off side of the horse, carrying her little baby, John. After a trip of seven hundred miles finally landed them at Joseph Spohr's, who had preceded them about two years. They then sold their wagon and ali their horses but one to pay for some land. For many years they worked with one horse and that without a wagon. Mrs. Spohr spun, wove and did many things to pay for a heifer calf. This calf grew to be a cow and had a calf and thus stock increased until she traded for a good work wagon and also for an old time buggy. As late as 1881 and doubtless many years later, this buggy stood in a shed, held as a sacred relic of the days of poverty and hardship in Walnut township.

In 1832 Bainbridge Hall entered four hundred acres of land in the southwest part of the township.

In 1833 came in David Buchanan, Samuel Imel, George Imel and a few others.

In 1834 were added Bennett Terguson, Samuel N. Bell and other landowners.

In 1835 came in several who had entered land before that year. They included William Bowman, Samuel Hipes and Dickerson Groober.

Even in 1836 the dense forests had not been largely invaded by settlers and their "clearings." It was during that year that George G. Armistead entered eight hundred acres for speculation. In the autumn of 1836 Thomas E. Harris bought ninety five acres in the northwest quarter of section 25. Even at that date he leaves the record that though nearly all the land had been entered in this township, he found here and there a little log cabin. Some had cut the wood from around their door yard, and perhaps cleared an acre or two for corn growing. After purchasing his land Mr. Harris erected a house sixteen by seventeen feet, with seven foot sides, roofed it with clapboards fastened down by weight poles (nails were then too high and hard to obtain), small round poles for joist and on these riven or split boards for floor, two half logs sawed out of the sides for windows two feet wide and fifteen inches deep. In the winter season this hole was covered with greased paper. The cabin had a wooden chimney and a fire place five feet wide. He was soon elected a justice of the peace and held court at home. It was in this humble place that Ben F. Ristine, of Crawfordsville bar, made one of his first speeches, if not his maiden speech.

John H. Harrison came to Montgomery county in 1830 and lived with his father in Clarke township, the name of which he proposed to the county commissioners in honor of Captain Clark, of early day militia.

The last lot of land entered in Walnut township was made by John J. Eddinfield in 1837, the lot being the east half of the southeast quarter of section 28. From that date on settlements were effected more rapidly.


The towns and villages of this township are Mace, Linnsburg, New Ross and Beckville.

About 1833 what was known as the Cleveland, St. Louis and Air Line railroad was surveyed and graded through the land that feli to John A. Browning, from Pioneer Browning's estate, in section 36. Young Browning at once conceived the idea of laying out a town on this tract which he did. He was a blacksmith and built a shop there about 1841, when he was just of age. This he kept until his removal to Kansas in 1868. He was the first postmaster in what was styled Valley Cite postoffice and kept the "office" in his shop. After the war, about 1866, there were only seven wretched looking buildings in the place. In 1866 William J. Inlow located there and commenced the erection of a suitable warehouse and store room and carried a few groceries and notions. By 1873 he was enjoying a good trade. In 1836-37 a postoffice was established in Walnut township when George Dorsey was made postmaster, keeping the mail at his residence for a number of years. This was known as New Ross postoffice. George Dorsey lived about a mile west of where Valley City was and about 1868 the office was removed to Valley City and for convenience the village adopted the name of the office - hence the name New Ross was from an old postoffice in the county and it is near old Valley City office. The first grocery store was kept by John Hedging: a dry goods store by Oliver Wilson & Co., about 1866, and W. J. Inlow in 1866, afterward Inflow & Hewitt. About 1870 Eli Frazier opened a store in a new building that he erected. Most of the town has grown up since 1870. In May. 1870. it was incorporated under the general laws of Indiana. The first town hoard was elected in June. 1875. George W. Day was chosen chairman, pro team. and H. B. Hulett, secretary. and James N. Jessee, treasurer: Adam Frazier. assessor, and Joseph Healer. marshal. The present (1913) town officers are: Council, William Imley, chairman of hoard: Dennis Clark. J. C. Hunt: clerk, F. E. Evans: treasurer, J. A. Morrison; marshal, Marion Chambers.

The town has no adequate water supply and only a hand bucket brigade with which to fight fires.

It has a Methodist and Christian church; a Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows lodge, mentioned in other chapters.

The present efficient postmaster is J. C. Hunt. From here runs three rural routes - No. 1, by Marion Routh: No. 2. by William Tipton, and No. 3, by Walter Wilson.


In the month of March. 1913 the following were engaged in business at New Ross:

Banking, The Citizens Bank: bakery, Carl Karatz: barbers, "Bob" Mullensore. Edward Mason; blacksmiths, W. L. Shelley: carpenters, Harrison Brothers and William Addington; dry goods, W. A. Wall, W. A. Lasley; drugs, J. T. Borough, E. E. Graves: grain. New Ross Grain Company hardware, Ewen & Welch, who also handle implements: A. W. Smith: hotel, J. O. Gillaspie: livery. J. E. Martin, mills (saw), by S. M. Johnson; meat market, A. H. Miller: physicians. Drs. C. T. Bronough. W. M. Menefee: painters, A. R. Peterson. C. D. Taylor. T. C. Eddington: photographer, Paul Eddinfield: restaurants. J. O. Gillaspie, O. M. Crouch: stock dealers, Martin & Miller; shoe shop. W. C. Gray, Wallace Canada.

From the Journal files it is learned that the former city clerk of Crawfordsville, Mr. Hulett, was responsible for the change from Valley City to New Ross postoffice. He states: "I was a resident of Valley City, which was changed to New Ross before I left there. I had a general store there from 1867 to 1876. When I first started in business there it was known as Valley City, and A. C. May had a stave and head factory there at the time. May and I received many letters at the time and as there was another Valley City in southern Indiana. mail was often sent there, where it stayed several weeks, before being forwarded on to us.

"One day I became exasperated when I received a batch of letters which had gone to southern Indiana. and not to the Montgomery county town. I met Mr. May and suggested that we have the name of the place erased from the map of Montgomery county. He readily agreed with me and we came to Crawfordsville. where the county commissioners were in session and told them our troubles and said we wanted them to change the name. George Dorsey, the keeper of Dorsey's Inn, had been consulted and he suggested the name New Ross, a name suggested because of a battle in England only he added the word New, making it read New Ross. The board was ready to change the name and the record has stood from then until now as New Ross and not Valley City.

"Then I went direct to Urbana, Illinois, the head office for what is now the Big Four railroad, then the I., D. & W., and informed the officers of that company that there was no longer such a place as Valley City on their line. They at once changed the name and ever since then the brakemen have been calling out the station as 'New Ross, New Ross, New Ross.' "

Mace, situated on sections 7 and 18 of Walnut township, was originally called Fredericksburg, named for Frederick Long, who laid out the town in 1839-40, but it grew but little until 1870. Among the first factors of the place were a blacksmith named Butt; a wagon maker named David Crain, about 1845; Elias Crain long kept a shoe cobbling shop; an early merchant was J. F. Watkins; also other early dealers were Thomas Holloway and Jesse Williams, Martin & Hutchings, Edwards & Martin and James G. Johnson. The early doctors were Drs. Pearson. Irwin, Hoggsett, Jones and Eddinfiekl. The business interests of today are diversified and is divided up with those at Linnesville and New Ross, all three towns being in the same vicinity. Good schools and churches and lodges obtain here and fair business houses.

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