History of Perry Township, Tippecanoe County, Indiana
From: Past and Present of Tippecanoe County, Indiana
General R. P. DeHart, Editor in Chief
B. F. Bowen & Company, Publishers
Indianapolis, Indiana 1909


Perry township is just to the east of Fairfield township. on the eastern border line of the county, and south of Washington township. It is one of the few square and regular shaped civil sub-divisions of Tippecanoe county, and contains the full thirty six sections of land described by the congressional township known as township 23, range 3.

Here as in so many of the counties and townships within Indiana, those who sought out a proper name for this part of the county thought of some military hero. It was named for old Commodore Perry, author of the famous saying, constituting one of his military dispatches. "We have met the enemy and he is ours."

The first white man to locate in this township was Daniel Underhill, who effected his settlement in 1823. locating on the west half of the southwest quarter of section II. The same year, but a little later, he was joined by Matthias Luce and family. Thomas Mahan. John Hedrick and Henry Kitchen. For two years they were sole occupants. as far as actual white settlers were concerned, and were monarch of all they found within the thirty six sections, making up what is now styled Perry township.

In 1827 came Charles Sewards with his wife and three stepsons. Tames H., David and A. J. Patton. The following season the settlement was increased by the coming of William Virgin. Elias and Joseph Girrard, Michael Gunkle. Joseph Buck, John Lesley, John Shively, David Ulery, William Gaddis, Martin Staley and his son John, and Lot Pierson. There were perhaps some others who came to the township between 1828 and 1832. but at present the records do not mention their names.

During 1832 came Thomas Leary. Daniel Peter and Henry Miller (who was familiarly known as "Ohio Henry" to distinguish him from a gentleman of the same name who emigrated from Kentucky at about the same time). The same year, though much later in the season, came Charles, Mahlon, Sewell, Shockley, Isaac and Joseph Cleaver, all young men, bringing with them their mother and three sisters.

In the autumn of 1828 Daniel Underhill and David Cleaver were elected justices of the peace, and Henry Rerick constable.

The first ground was broken by Daniel Underhill, who also raised the first crop and built the first log house in the township.

John Thompson, who emigrated from Ohio, opened a subscription school in which he was liberally patronized.

The first sermon preached within the limits of Perry township was by Rev. Robert Brown, of Lafayette. His congregation of not to exceed a score of persons assembled in the forest, near Daniel Underhill's house, hence worshiped in "God's first temple" beneath the stately forest kings. The improvised (by Nature) pulpit was a poplar log from which the pioneer minister of the gospel preached an eloquent and forceful discourse. For a number of years religious meetings were held at the farm homes of Ephriam Tucker, William Gaddis, Samuel Lamb and Elias Girrard, by ministers of the United Brethren denomination, the Methodist and Baptist churches, respectively. For further church history of Perry township, the reader is referred to the religious chapter.

The first grist mill in this township was erected in 1830, by Samuel Lamb; later a corn cracker was put in operation by Cleaver brothers, and subsequently they added a run of buhrs and ground wheat.

Connected with the first marriage ceremony within the township still lingers an interesting romance.

It was late in the autumn of 1832 when a young couple came to the settlement, both riding on one pony, carrying a small package which contained their sole earthly possessions. They were entire strangers to everyone in the settlement, and none seemed disposed to ask any questions concerning their mysterious arrival in the new country in the condition they arrived there. Speculation, however, was rife concerning their appearance and the singular circumstances surrounding them. Dame gossip at once pronounced them a run away couple. Their dialect indicated that they came from some foreign shore - their appearance being that of Italians. The young man immediately accepted employment with a number of men engaged in digging the mill frace for Cleaver brothers mill, while the young lady cooked for the men. Within a week after their arrival they were united in marriage by Squire Bush, of Dayton, Indiana. They remained citizens of Perry township for many years, and were highly respected by all who knew them. The next marriage union in the township was that of Thomas Mahan and Miss Frances Underhill, in 1833; also the same year, at the same time, were united Daniel Peter and Miss Mary Burkhalter.

The first death that saddened the pioneer settlement was a Mr. Roberts, who, while in the employ of Daniel Underhill, in putting the yoke on a vicious ox, received a kick which resulted in his death. The remains of the unfortunate man were buried in the woods near Mr. Underhill's house.

Concerning the schools of the township it may be said that Perry has always been well up to the standard in educational matters, and in 1886 had twelve schools within her borders, and eight months was made the school year. These district schools were presided over by competent instructors, thus the pupils rapidly advanced, thus showing that the people of this portion of Tippecanoe county were fully abreast with all that tended to elevate and instruct the rising young. At this date (1909) there is an enrollment of one hundred seventy five pupils.

In Perry township the villages and hamlets have never been prosperous, as they are situated so near to the city of Lafayette. Monitor postoffice is located on section 21, has about twenty five people; Pettit on section 26, about fifty population; Heath, about twenty five people, and Archerville.

The 1900 United States census gives the population of Perry township at one thousand three hundred and seven. As an agricultural section, few, if indeed any, of the thirteen townships in Tippecanoe county will outrank it. There are many large farms besides the usual number of well tilled smaller tracts. Stock raising has been very profitably followed by many of the people of this part of the county.

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