History of Tippecanoe 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


The author is indebted for many of the facts herein narrated to the pen of Wesley Mahin, who compiled an accurate account of this township and much concerning its early day settlement and later development. His narrative was written in 1878, and is probably as near correct as one could expect to obtain by any later means of compiling, hence it will be employed in this history, with such matters as have been secured relating to its present history.

Historically, this township is the "banner" township of Tippecanoe county. It presents a greater variety of soil and natural scenery, together with more points replete with interest to the traveler, possibly, than any other within the county. "The Grand Prairie," lapping its borders on the north and west; the "Pretty Prairie" and the rich bottom lands of the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers in the east and southeast skirting the river on the south, all covered with orchards and vineyards, overlooking the charming valley southward, with the Star City in the distance, and the oak uplands in the center of the township - all conspire to form a landscape equaled by few and not surpassed by any within the entire commonwealth of Indiana.

The historical period, proper, will be found as connected with the famous battle of Tippecanoe, elsewhere narrated in this volume. The breaking up of the Prophet's band of Indians after this battle fought by Gen. William Henry Harrison, left the adjoining country in possession of fragments of various tribes, among whom were the Kickapoos, Miamis and Pottawattomies. They offered no hostilities to the white settlers, and only remained in this section a few years more, then faded away into the far off western country beyond the "Big Water" - Mississippi river - or in other cases re-located in Wisconsin and other parts of the West.


The first white man to enter this fair and fertile domain was a Frenchman named Burnett, who married a half breed and established a trading post at Stringtown, on Burnett's Reserve, a tract of land skirting the Wabash river just below the mouth of the Tippecanoe, and extending to Burnett's creek, including the south side of Prophet's town.

John Davis married Mr. Burnett's daughter Nancy, and established himself at what is known as "Davis Ferry," near the mouth of Burnett's creek. The first house in this township was probably erected at this place; it was a log structure and fragments of it were still to be seen in the early nineties. This house was built about the year 1824. A few "squatters" arrived soon after this date, some of whom remained for a time near the old Indian trading post. The majority, however, removed to other localities, leaving no relics by which to trace their history.

Prominent among the pioneer settlers of Tippecanoe township were Charles and John Moots and John Lung, but the date of their arrival is not known as a matter of record.

In 1827 came William Kendall and Paschal Watson, who settled on Pretty Prairie, where the following year they were joined by John Beeker and a few others. In 1887 Mr. Kendall was still living and was the oldest settler then living within the township.

In 1828 came Daniel Corwin and located near the mouth of Moot's creek, while John S. Forgey located on section 29 of township 24. The same year came William Thomas and settled eventually on section 16.

The first practicing physician of the township was William Sims, who claimed a part of section 19, township 24, range 5. He died in 1845. John and Adam Shigley, John Shigley, Jr., John Mahin and Michael Hare, with their families, settled on sections 5 and 8 of township 24, range 4. These were the first settlers in the northwest part of the township. They were soon followed by Lismond Basey, Nathan Renfrow, John G. Smith, Basil Clevinger, Benjamin Lucas and perhaps a few others whose names have not been kept in the real early annals of the county. About this time Jacob Dewey settled on the "point" between the Wabash river and the Tippecanoe. From that date on the township was rapidly settled, and among the number may be named John Shaw, Joseph Cooper, Joseph Allen, Elijah Forbes, near Battle Ground; Samuel McCormick. John Stewart, P. O. Brown and John Goodman, in the northern part of the township, while J. H. Downing located in the southwest part.

Among the exciting and still interesting incidents of the early history of Tippecanoe township was one that occurred in 1832 - the year of the Black Hawk war in the western country. Report had it that old Black Hawk and his warriors were in the vicinity and would attack and burn the settlement on a certain night named. A panic naturally came upon the settlement in the north and west part of the township. The settlers from that part left their homes and fled to Davis Mill on Burnett's creek. A few of the frightened families congregated in a thicket near the site of the present Soldiers' Home, and prepared to defend themselves to the extent of their ability. The report, however, was false, and soon the settlers returned to their homes.

The first school taught in the township was by David McConnaughey, on the farm of William Kendall. The second school was taught in a log cabin in the southwest part of section 9, township 24, range 4, by John McNara, in 1831. Another very early teacher was John S. Forgey, who taught school in a cabin between the battle ground and Scott & Smelser's grist mill. What was styled the Pleasant Grove school house was the first building erected exclusively for school purposes in the southeast corner of section 12, township 24. range 5. This building still stood in the early nineties. The next school house was just across the stream a hundred yards east of Liberty Chapel. The number of pupils entered on the enrollment list in 1908 was four hundred and thirty seven. The population of the township in 1900 was two thousand and seventeen.

The first church in the township was "Old Salem." It was located near the southeast corner of section 5, township 24. range 4, on the site where afterward stood the house of Jacob Mahin. It was built of hewed logs, and for a number of years was the central point for holding meetings by the Methodist Episcopal people living in both White and Tippecanoe counties. It served as a meeting house until 1851.

The second church building was erected by members of the Methodist Protestant denomination, and that was also of the log cabin type. It stood a half mile east of Salem church, and was occupied as a house of worship until 1867. This building was erected in 1840 while the first named was erected four years earlier.

In 1853 members of the Christian church erected a house of worship in the center of section 19, township 25, range 4. This structure was a substantial building made of brick and was the third church built in the township. Geneseo Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1854; Pretty Prairie Methodist church was erected in 1858; Battle Ground Methodist Episcopal church was completed about 186o and Liberty Chapel Union church in 1873. This was later the property of the United Brethren and Methodist church societies.


May 29th, 30th and 31st of 1840 the first great political meeting or convention ever held on the battle ground was appointed by and held for the Whig political party, its real object being the nomination of and if possible to elect at the fall election of that year Gen. William Henry Harrison for President of the United States. On this occasion an immense audience assembled, consisting of about forty thousand people from many states of this Union. A general contribution of oxen, hogs, sheep, poultry, etc., was tendered by the residents for meeting and satisfying the wants of the great multitude.

In 1844 - the next presidential campaign another great convention was held at the same place by the Whigs. Many eminent statesmen were present to expound the political issues of the times, and great enthusiasm prevailed.

In 1853 the New Albany & Salem railroad was completed and thereafter the battle ground was the chosen place for holding political meetings and other assemblies.

In the campaign of 1856 both the Free soil and Democratic parties held a grand rally at this place.

It was the next year - 1857 - when Bishop Ames and Elder Benjamin Winans, of the Methodist Episcopal church, and others, conceived the idea of founding a town and an institution of learning near the old battle ground. A small village called Harrisonville already existed, but though beautifully situated, and though its population comprised a number of excellent and truly worthy people, it did not enjoy a reputation above reproach touching its morality and sobriety. Accordingly the land on which Battle Ground City now stands was secured; a survey was made, and funds collected for the erection of an institute. Town lots were rapidly disposed of and a thriving village soon came into existence. Benjamin Winans, Hiram Shaw, Mark Jones, Chauncey Jones and Abijah Johnson were elected as a board of trustees. A frame building which had been erected near the battle ground as a refreshment room, was purchased and remodeled, and a graded school inaugurated under the management of Professor G. W. Rice and Miss Carrie Bowles. The following spring Professor E. H. Staley was added to the faculty, and was chosen as principal of the institute, in which capacity he served until 1862, when he was succeeded by Rev. David Holmes. Professor Rice was connected with the school from its inception until its work had ended there. In 1867 difficulty arose and the influence and patronage of the Methodist church were withdrawn, and a new building was erected at the crossing of College avenue and Tipton streets, and a school organized more thoroughly under the control of that denomination. and Professor Rice was chosen as its principal.

The parent school was reorganized and continued its sessions for a time, but its strength was impaired by the action of the church and soon it was numbered among the defunct institutions of the county.

The old building stood for a number of years in a neglected condition, until in 1875 an association was organized known as the Methodist Camp Meeting Association, by whom the grounds and buildings were purchased, the former renovated and repaired for the purpose in view. The school building was used as a hotel, and a large frame tabernacle erected that held several thousand people. A goodly number of tasty cottages were also built on adjoining lots by individuals. Several camp meetings were held on the grounds. In 1874 the legislature of Indiana appropriated a sum of money for the enclosing of this historic field with a solid, neat iron fence. The contract was awarded to Thomas Harding, of Lafayette.


This town (although given the name "city") besides having the advantage of being near the memorable battle ground, has a beauty of location not surpassed by any town in this part of the state. It is located on a gravelly flat, the purity of its water, the health giving qualities of its Chalybeate springs, the fertility as well as fine scenery of its surroundings, its excellent schools, nearness to Lafayette, as well as the high moral tone of its population, as well as the religious advantages had there, makes it an ideal place at which to reside or even visit for a month in midsummer.

Of its church history the reader is referred to the religious chapter of this volume, which will be read with interest.

Politically, the place was equally divided before the formation of the Republican party, but since then that party has ever been in the majority. From an early day the township has been one given to the advancement of temperance. Since the founding of Battle Ground City there has never been a saloon within its borders.

Battle Ground Post, No. 464, Grand Atmy of the Republic, was established June 14, 1886, by Capt. J. B. Shaw, of Lafayette.

The population of this town at present is about five hundred and the business interests are chiefly confined to the usual retail trade found necessary to supply the people there, as well as in the nearby rural districts.

For much more relative to this historic spot the reader may be informed by a study of the various chapters which directly touch upon this township.

Ash Grove is a little hamlet ten miles north of Lafayette having a population of twenty.

Cairo is another village in this township, having a small collection of houses.

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