History of Marion Township, Putnam County, Indiana
From: Weik's History of Putnam County, Indiana
BY: Jesse W. Weik, A.M.
B. F. Bowen & Company, Publishers
Indianapolis, Indiana 1910


Marion township lies immediately south of Floyd, and is the full congressional township 14, north, range 3 west. It is bounded on the north by Floyd township, on the east by Hendricks county and Mill Creek township, on the south by Jefferson township, and on the west by Greencastle township. Its surface is gently rolling; the soil good, and finely adapted to.cultivation. The supply of timber was at one time abundant, consisting of poplar, walnut, white, red and burr oak, hard maple, beech, ash, and many inferior kinds, such as elm, gum and sycamore, with a plentiful supply of hickory on the more level portions. This township is drained by Deer creek, that stream having its source in the northeast corner and traversing the entire extent of the township to the southwest corner, where it takes its leave on section 31.

The first settler in Marion township was Reuben Ragan, who first came to the county in the year 1818 and prospected the country comprising Putnam and surrounding counties during that and the following year. He then returned to the state of Kentucky, whence he again came to Putnam in the spring of 1820, staying two years in Greencastle township, west of the city. He entered land in the extreme north of Marion township in 1822, and became a permanent resident there in October of the same year, continuing to make that his home until the date of his death, August 19, 1869.

In October of the year 1824 Mr. Ragan built a hewed log house, which, having been weather boarded and plastered, now forms the front portion of the family residence, and is the oldest building in Putnam county, having been in use as a dwelling for more than eighty five years. Like all of the builder's works, it was well done, and it still stands firm, with the probability of still withstanding the shocks of time for years to come. Mr. Ragan was a noted horticulturist and possessed a fine talent for his occupation. He sowed seeds for an orchard on the farm of Mr. Thomas, west of Greencastle, in the spring of 1820, which were, doubtless, the first seeds of the kind to take root in the soil of Putnam county. A few years later he planted the first orchard in Marion township. He is still remembered by his neighbors as a man of vigorous intellect, pure mind and unscrupulously honest and upright in all his. dealings.

From the time of Mr. Ragan's settlement in the township to 1824 he was joined by Judge Smith, Henry Wood, Mr. Davis, John Smith, Silas Hopkins and Samuel Hazelett. In the years 1825 and 1826 came William Bell, John Denny, William and James Smith, Bryce Miller, Isaac and George Legg, Jeremiah Nichols, Charles and Carter Hunter, Israel Moss, John Gregory, James and William Denny, Mr. Acres, Enoch Stone, William Nicholson and Thomas Jackson. Within the next two years the population was increased by the arrival of David Wise, Henry Hunter, Bailey O'Neal, Daniel Chadd, John Benefield, John and James Agee, Daniel Brewer, Charles Knetzer, Jacob Shoptaugh, Eli Fry, Henry Keller, Peter Luns ford, Daniel Bridgewater. The newcomers for the years 4829 and 1830 were Alexander Gorham, Ambrose Day, Thomas Jackson, Sr., William Frazier, John Runyan, Isaac Hope, Joseph Ellis, Anselm Mason, Henry Shields, Samuel Reeves. There probably were others equally worthy of mention. Some of these here named entered land, and, perhaps, lived near Greencastle before settling in what now comprises Marion township. Nearly all have left here large families, who inherit the blessings of their labors.

Among the old settlers who have died within the past thirty years were John Smith, familiarly known as "Uncle Jackey," Thomas Jackson, Mrs. Reuben Ragan, Mrs. Catherine Smith. Mrs. Henry Hunter, Mrs. James Denny, Mrs. Willoughby Leachman, Samuel Hazelett, who lived near Stilesville, and Daniel Brewer. at Coatsville. The last named was born in Holland on August 31, 1782, and came to Kentucky when two years old. From that state he removed to Putnam county, where he lived until almost a hundred years old.

On December 18, 1824, Arthur A., the son of John Denny, was born. being the first white child born in the township. Mr. Denny in 185o moved to the Pacific coast and was one of the founders of the city of Seattle. He represented Washington Territory in Congress in 1865-67. The next birth in the township was that of America, the daughter of Samuel Hazlett, December 24, 1824. She is still living and has never married.

The marriage of John Smith. son of John Smith. and Miss Willie Smith, daughter of Judge Smith, was the first that occurred in the township. The first grist mill in the township was that built on Deer creek by Samuel Hazlett as early at 1826. It stood on section 17. It was in 1834 that Allen Burk put up his horse mill. James Agee, who, in 1828, had a shop in section 20, was the first blacksmith. Shortly after Agee came Isaac Hope. who erected a shop near the old family residence in section 12. The first store was kept by Ahijah Robinson at Nicholsonville about 1845. The first postoffice was also kept by Mr. Robinson at the same place. It was afterward removed to Fillmore, but for several years thereafter retained its original name of Nicholsonville. William C. Hopwood was the first resident physician. He located in Fillmore in 1853. John Denny was the first justice of the peace. He was followed bv his brother. James Dennv. who held the office for fourteen consecutive years. Then came James McAchran, James Sill. R. M. Hazelett and Jacob P. Cox and their successors.

The Regular Baptist church was the first organized in the township. This was done November 25, 1826, at the house of William Denny. by Charles and Carter Hunter and wives, Thomas Broadstreet, Enoch Stone and wife, William Nicholson and wife, and Isaac Monnett. They finally built a house of worship on the farm of Carter Hunter. The Missionary Baptists were organized about 1841. Elders Jones and Arnold were among their first preachers. They have a good frame church, called Bethel. two and one half miles southeast of Fillmore. The first meetings of the Christian church were held at the houses of Charles Knetzer and Ambrose Day. This was before the organization of the church, which took place about 1839, and a building, known as Old Union, was erected on the farm of Ambrose Day in 184o. John M. Harris was their first preacher, followed by James M. Mathews, Gilbert Harney, Nathan Waters, O. P. Badger, Chatterton, James and Perry Blankinship, Cooms, as well as many others. They have a church in Fillmore, which was erected soon after the town was laid out. The Methodists organized a church at what was called "Denny's Schoolhouse," at a very early date. John Denny was an active, zealous member of this congregation, and it became quite a flourishing church. In 1838 meetings were held at the houses of Matthew Brann and others. Rev. Owen Owen, Davis, Hancock, Forbes, President Simpson and Prof Cyrus Nutt were the first preachers of this organization. The first Methodist church was built on section 16, and called Mount Carmel. After the building of the new church in Fillmore, Mount Carmel was given or sold to the Regular Baptists. Soon after the erection of Mount Carmel, another Methodist church, named Liberty, was built on the farm of Abbott Robinson, in section xi. This building remained until the congregation erected an elegant frame building, in 1871, on a lot given for that purpose by Morris Oliver.

Fillmore, the only village in the township, is on the Terre Haute & Indianapolis railroad, six miles northeast of Greencastle. It was laid out in 1852 by Benjamin Nicholson, James Sill and Leonard C. Catterlin, on land then owned by them, but formerly forming a part of Richard Sinclair's farm.

The first store in.the town was kept by Hardin & Brown in 1852, followed by Benjamin Nicholson, Hardin Wilcox and Moses T. Bridges, general dealers, and William D. Smith, who kept a grocery and provision store. Mr. Bridges did very much toward building up the town, having erected a hotel and in many other ways added to its prosperity.

There are also two churches, one Christian, the other Methodist. The Missionary Baptists formerly had a church at Fillmore. The building is now used as a school house.

At Fillmore the following postmasters have served: William Matthews, August 10, 1848; Abijah Robinson, November 19, 1849; H. H. Wilcox, March 19, 1852; Moses T. Bridges, January 21, 1854; John W. Pierson, September I i, 1861; John W. Pierson, December 5, 1861; C. A. Matthews, June 12, 1863; John A. Dicks, September 24, 1864; Thomas J. Saddens, January 18, 1867; Elizabeth Welch, July 10, 1867; Greenberry Prather, September 13, 1871; Elizabeth Nicholson, May 10, 1872; M. A. Brown, June 2, 1873; C. B. McNary, March 4, 5874; M. A. Brann, September 54, 1875; M. H. Reilly, March 21, 1881; A. E. Robinson, October 18, 5883; M. H. Reilly, March 7, 1884; Harry McNary, May 25, 1885; Julia E. Robinson, April 29, 1901.

Bryce W. Miller taught the first school in the township, at his own cabin. He afterward taught at the neighbors' houses - a favorite place being at John Smith's in what was called a three faced camp, open in front and built up with logs on the other three sides. This stood on section 16. The next was a three months school, taught by Alfred Burton, in a log cabin in section 29, that some one had built for a dwelling and then deserted. This school was broken up by a man named Nat Hammond, who, becoming dissatisfied with the school, went one night and pried down the chimney. The first school building was erected on the farm of John Denny, in section 28, about the year 1828, and was known as "Denny's Schoolhouse." John Evans taught the first school in this house. He was followed by Lawson D. Sims and Thomas C. Duckworth, who taught the first "six months school" in the township. The township is now well supplied with good schools and education is in the ascendency.

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