History of Madison Township, St. Joseph County, Indiana
From: History of St. Joseph County, Indiana
Hon. John V. Hadley, Editor in Chief.
Chas. C. Chapman & Co.,
Chiago 1880


Madison township is situated in the southwestern part of St. Joseph county, and is bounded on the north by Penn township, on the east by Elkhart county, on the south by Marshall county, and. on the west by Union and Centre townships.

This was one of the latest settled townships of St. Joseph county, the settiment of which did not begin until about 1840; and it is probable that today there are fewer old settlers living in the township from whom a complete history of its early settlement ought to be obtained than in any other township in the county. And it is likewise probable that at the time of its early settlement it was the poorest township of farming land in the county; and this accounts for the fact that it was not settled simultaneously with the surrounding townships.

Today the greater part of the land is marsh and covered with heavy timber; however, by means of ditches, and clearing off the timbered land and making use of the logs at the numerous sawmills, great improvements and progress have been made within the last 20 years by the industrious class of citizens who are now residents. And one would naturally suppose from first glance, did he not take cognizance of the fact that he was in Northern Indiana, surrounded by the oldest settled and most beautiful tract of country in the whole State, that he was in the midst of some Western country where the process of " clearing up " had just begun, or that he had been transported back a half century when the work of settlement had just commenced by our forefathers of old. As indicative of this fact, numerous saw mills which maintain many families are found here and there in the midst of the tall timber throughout this township and county.

Probably the earliest settlers of this township were Mr. Cline, who settled on section 19, and Mr. Bennett, who settled on section 18. About the same time, during the year 1840, came Christian Helminger; in the year 1841 came Godfried Enders; in 1842 came Mr. Palmer; Peter Kline, in 1846; Adam Kieffer, in 1847; William Border, Thomas Crakes and Jonathan Gilman, in 1848; in 1850 the following, besides many others, made this township their home: Christian Grose, John Schaffer, Philip Berger, Adam Rader, and Michael Kettring. From this time on the townships settled very rapidly. In 1852 came Amos and D. B. Jewell; in 1853 came Hiram Locker, Jacob Wetzel, John Kelley and Jacob Marker. During the year 1854 a number of others settled here; the following are a few: Jacob Conrad, David Newcomer, A. J. Strope, Daniel Homes, Adam Mochel, John and Charles Kelley, Henry Flory, Harrison Pentecost and John Hawkins. In 1855 Samuel Shearer removed to this township; in 1856 the following: Jacob Loucks, A. C. Hiner and John Shenefield; John Barkey, in 1858; George Friedman, in. 1859; Jacob Birk, Jacob Futler and Henry Fox, in 1860.

A considerable portion of the southern part of the township is known as the "Yellow river country," from the fact that the Yellow river flows through it. Some of the early settlers of this region, whose names have not yet been mentioned, are the following: George Zimmer, Jacob Helminger, Nicholas Hummel, John Zigler, Joseph Zeiger, Christian Eslinger, Philip Manges, Michael Smith, Jacob, George and Philip Kline, John Meyers, Philip Berger, Michael Fagler and Mr. Sweisberger. And besides the many already mentioned, there are still a few more who came some time prior to 1851: Hugh McLoughlin, James Belford, Joseph Jewell, Amos Wilson, J. Pittman, Edward and Jonathan Buck, Philip Fries, T. Longley, Henry Aliwood, Mr. Clugston and Mr. Crow.

It is said that during the early settlement of this township men came and made it their home and set out fruit trees, making some improvements; but afterward becoming sick, gave up their land, abandoned their scanty improvements and left the township; and what vas the most remarkable, in the course of a few years fruit trees were found growing in the midst of the forest trees and weeds.

The first justices of the peace were Allen Mead and Mr. Bennett; the first law suit in the township, was before 'Squire Mead, at his house on section 15; the suit was between John Zeigler and John Newberry, concerning the shooting of a deer; however, the case was settled before entering into litigation.

In 1871 a fire broke out in some parts of the township, starting from fires which men had built and then gone away and left them to do the work of destruction. These fires did immense damage to some residents of the township, especially in the eastern part, by way of burning their timber and fences.

There are two cemeteries in the township; one on section 18 near the Evangelical Church, and one on section 22, near the German Lutheran Church.


Madison township is well supplied with churches, there being five in it; a full and extended history of some of them it has been impossible to obtain.

German, Lutherans. This church, situated at Woodland, on section 15, was built in 1868. The first regular pastor was Rev. Conrad Schuster, of Bremen. Some of the first members of the Church were these: Adam Rader and wife, Adam Kieffer and wife, Leonard Jordan and wife, Joseph Meyer and wife, John Kelley and wife, Martin Slough and wife, John G. Klin g and wife, Martin Sauer and wife, George Kelley and wife, Mr. Wahl and wife, Michael Andrew and wife, and Mrs. Mary Fulmer. The present pastor is Rev. George Rosenwinkle, of Mishawaka, who holds services every Sunday. The congregation at present is ordinarily large, and includes some of the best citizens of the township.

Evangelical Churches. There are two Evangelical churches in the township, one situated on section 15, at Woodland, built by the Methodists, who held services there for a number of years, after which it was purchased by Fred Weber, Christopher Weigel and Fred Fassnacht, then members of the Evangelical Church. Since then that denomination has held services in it. Prior to the erection of the present church edifice, there was a log house on the same site, which was used for religious purposes. This building was the first church built in the township. The present pastor is Rev. F. Bollz, who is a resident of the township, and holds services there every other Sabbath. The congregation is small, numbering only about 16 members.

The other Evangelical church, situated on section 19, was built in 1868, and supplied the place of an old log house which stood just across the road on section 18. Some of the charter members of the Church were: Philip Marker and wife, Matthew Klein and wife, Peter and Philip Bollenbacher and their wives, Nicholas, Philip and Jacob Schlarb and their wives, and Peter Bechier. The congregation now numbers about 45 members. The first pastor was Philip Wagner; the second was Nicholas Barghart; the third, Charles Bitzman; and the fourth, Fredrich Bolz, who is the present incumbent.

Evangelical Association. The church known by this name, is situated on section 10, and was built in 1864. A few of the first members of the Church were: Jacob Zimmer and wife, Philip Berger and wife, Michael Zimmer and wife, Michael Smith and Fife, George Christian Eslinger and wife, George Wise, Sr., and wife, George Frei and wife. The first pastor of Church was Rev. George Platz; the present one is Rev. E. Treyer. The congregation is quite respectable in number, being about 55 or 60, and including many of the best citizens of Madison township.

United Brethren. - This church is located on section 17, and was built in 1878. The congregation is small. The Kidders and A. Hummel were among the earliest members of the Church: The first minister of the Church was Rev. Mr. Simons, who helped to put up the church building. The present pastor of the denomination is Rev. Mr. Beghtel, of Elkhart county.


The present School Trustee is Amos Snyder, who was elected to that office in the fall of 1877, and was re-elected in the spring of 1880. There are 12 school buildings in the township, conveniently located, in which about seven months' school are kept annually. The educational interests of the township are well attended to by the citizens in every particular.


There is a small collection of houses in Madison township on secs. 15, 16, 21 and 22, which is called Woodland. This little rural place was never laid out as a town, but a store was started here about 25 years ago by Martin Fink and Wm. Shenefield, who continued running a small grocery store and keeping a little whisky, which was very common in those days for about two years. At the end of that time they abandoned the business and a store was never opened until 1877, by Mr. Maiming; this was run by Dr. Bishop, a practicing physician at the place. After a short time the store went into the hands of Adam Mochel and Fred Weber, who still have the place. A short time after the first store was opened, Conrad Kelley started a saloon, but continued only about three years; the same institution was then conducted by Michael Kettring for three or four years, until about the close of the war.

In 1872 Philip Buhler started a blacksmith shop, and still continues; about the same time, or a little prior to this, Fred Weber started a wagon shop; be also still continues in the situation.

Dr. Fisher, who located there in May, 1880, is a practicing physician.

There is a good school house in the place, built in 1874 or '75, which does honor to the citizens of the immediate neighborhood. The firt and only postoffice ever established in the township, is at this place, and Fred Weber is now postmaster; however the office at first was a short distance south of Woodland.

So that at present the place consists of a small grocery store, which does a small business, a postoffice, wagon shop, blacksmith shop, one doctor, a school house and two churches. But just half a mile south of Woodland is a large saw mill, which tends to add somewhat to the business interests of the township. This mill is situated on section '22 and was built in 1864 by Lang, Smith & Co. It next passed into the hands of Lang, Frank & Co.; at present the firm name is Lang & Frank, but the mill is run by Charles Frank. They are doing a good business, employing from four to twenty hands. In 1875 they put in machinery for making staves, which they continue to manufacture.

There his also another large saw mill on section 27, run by Scott Shenefield and his cousin. The mill was built in 1864 or '65, by the following men, as a kind of joint stock company: F. Shearer, Lewis Wedling, Peter Coler and another man. The present proprietors purchased it in February, 1879, and are doing a good business, hauling considerable lumber to Mishawaka. They run the mill four or five days in the week. And there is still another large saw mill on scctiou 13, owned and run by Thomas and L. W. Crakes. The first mill on this site was built several years ago, but two or three have been burned down on the same location. Mr. Crakes and son, the present proprietors, have owned it but a short time: They are doing a good business, and sell lumber at Mishawaka and South Bend.

But even this one does not complete the number of saw mills, for they seem to be more numerous in Madison township than anything else. There is one on section 24, owned and run by Adam and Peter Buhler. This mill was built about four years ago. The one on section 33 is owned by William Uline; the one on section eight, by Mr. Huntberger; and the one on section ten, by Mr. Miller; and just across the road from the saw mill, on section eight, is a small grocery store, owned by Jacob Pittman.

Madison township has not the advantages of a railroad town. At one time the Canada Southern was proposed through the southern part, but the track was never laid: neither are the watering facilities of the township numerous. There is a branch of a stream in the northeastern part, which waters that portion; and in the southern part the Yellow river passes; but this is a small stream, being of little or no benefit to the township, as it is almost entirely dry.

But everything in connection with Madison township seems to presage that its day of rank in the county has not yet come, for there is certainly something better in store for the citizens here; and we venture to say that Madison township will some day be one of the finest townships of farming land in St. Joseph county.

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