History of Paw Paw Township, Wabash County,
From: History of Wabash County, Indiana
Compiles under the Editorial Supervison of
Clarkson W. Weesner
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York 1914
PAW PAW TOWNSHIP
Paw Paw is the smallest township in Wabash County, having an area of forty square miles which consists of five tiers of sections, each eight sections from east to west. It assumed its present form in June, 1873, and it is that political and civil portion of Wabash County to which the following chapter applies.
EEL RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES
Eel River and its smaller branches drain the northwestern and northern sections of the township, while Paw Paw
Creek and its tributaries water the central and southern portions. Bear Grass Creek, the largest northern tributary
of Eel River, is noted for its numerous living springs, and abundantly drains much of the northern area of the
THE PIONEER, JOHN ANDERSON
The first settlers in Paw Paw Township located along Eel River and Squirrel Creek, at and near Stockdale and
Roann. In the spring of 1835 John Anderson, an Ohio man who lived for some time near Logansport before he came
to Wabash County, journeyed along the north shores of Eel River and, with his wife, two sons and two daughters,
settled in a little shack which they threw together on Squirrel Creek about a mile above what became, a few years
afterward, the village of Stockdale.
FIRST TWIN INDUSTRIES
From all accounts Mr. Anderson did not even hew the logs which went into his first rude family shelter, but
he was not long in getting together a crude sawmill upon the banks of Squirrel Creek, as well as a "corn cracker;"
and the two usually went together in these primitive times and regions. The date of the erection of these first
twin industries of Paw Paw Township is given as about 1836.
JACOB AND WILLIS BRYAN
But the next permanent settler after John Anderson was Jacob Bryan, his wife, three sons and a daughter - most
of the latter mature. They came into the Eel River region in September, 1835, and permanently settled in Paw Paw
Township in March, 1836. Mr. Bryan was a native of North Carolina, who had moved to Indiana in his '30s. The year
before coming to Paw Paw Township and settling near Stockdale, the family had lived on a leased tract of land across
Eel River from Stockdale (Squirrel Village), but in Miami County. In the winter of 1836 Mr. Bryan and his three
grown sons commenced to build a cabin about a mile away in Paw Paw Township, west of Roann. They made a hewed log
house, and the family moved into it on the last day of March, 1836. In speaking of this period, Willis Bryan, one
of the sons - one of a dozen Bryan children, who in time became prominent residents of Roann and the township said:
"We began to clear land on the first day of April in the green woods, and got in six acres by the 20th of
May. The clearing was done by cutting 'eighteen inches and under' and piling and burning; and no team was used.
The whole thing was done by handspikes. The neighbors helped and we helped them back. The neighbors were Robert
Ralston and John Ellison, and there were eight men of us, which made quite a gang at a `log rolling.' We had no
whiskey, which was quite a wonder in those days, but there was none used in our gatherings from the very beginning.
There were Indians in the country, but they did not help us much, for they did not know how.
The first school taught in Paw Paw Township is said to have been conducted by Mr. Bryan in one of the rooms of his double house. It lasted five weeks during the winter of 1836-37. The school is reported to have had ten pupils, four of whom were from the Bryan family. The others were from the Beckner and Ralston families, whose fathers (Joseph Beckner and Robert Ralston) located about the same time as Mr. Bryan - Beckner on the present site of Roann and Ralston below Stockdale.
FIRST REGULAR CHURCH
The first religious meeting held in Paw Paw Township was a prayer meeting at the house of Jacob Bryan, conducted
in 1837. Mr. Bryan was a zealous Baptist.
THE JACK FAMILY
The Jack family came from Decatur County, Indiana, about the same time that the Bryans migrated from Miami County. James Jack, the father, was accompanied by his wife and numerous children, the emigrants making their appearance in the Wabash Valley as occupants of one of those huge "Pennsylvania wagons." The family settled just southeast of Roann, where Mr. Jack bought 285 acres of land and entered 160 acres more. He lived on his homestead there until his death in 1879, at the age of eighty four years. He had been an honest, industrious God fearing fanner all his life, and was the father of nine children. Of his five sons, Andrew Jack became a Presbyterian minister, serving both as a missionary to Africa and preaching at Shiloh, north of Roann and in the West. Five of the Jack children reached maturity and married, all honoring the family name by their probity and useful lives.
JOSEPH AND SAMUEL L. GAMBLE
Joseph Gamble was a Virginian, who settled with his family, in 1836, south of Roann. His son, Samuel L. Gamble,
then a lad of fifteen, became a county commissioner and otherwise prominent in the township, and his reminiscences
of early times are precise and valuable.
ALBERT N. COX
Albert N. Cox located southeast of Roann about the time that the Gambles came into the country. He was a strong Presbyterian and the first meeting house of that denomination in the township was erected on his land. Soon after coming to his new home, his wife presented him with a daughter, Sarah, the first native child.
UNION OF GAMBLES AND JACKS
The first marriage was of John Gamble, a son of Joseph, to Margaret Bryan, daughter of Jacob, on January 11,
1839; thus were the pioneer families of Joseph and Jacob united.
STOCKDALE, THE FIRST SETTLEMENT
Stockdale, on the boundary line between Wabash and Miami counties, was the first settlement in Paw Paw Township laid out as a town. The date of its plat is October 26, 1839, but it was undoubtedly surveyed some time before that, Thomas Goudy, its proprietor, having both a grist and a sawmill in operation at that point. Mr. Goudy had also erected a dwelling for his family upon the town site. A resident of Roann, writing nearly forty five years afterward, says: "That (grist) mill was a good one, and for that day really a wonderful establishment, having four run of buhrs and doing work that might have done credit to an older settled region. The original structure was undermined by being washed in a great flood and was repaired; but, after long use, becoming decayed, the present mill was built by Baker & Rancke in 1857, remaining until now. The establishment has always been a good, serviceable mill, and it still holds the reputation of thorough, substantial, reliable work. The sawmill went down perhaps twenty five years ago."
For about ten years the mills and a few houses were about all of Stockdale, but in 1848 John Jones opened a
store, and Thomas McKibben, and John McCrae followed him as merchants. Blacksmith and wagon shops were afterward
established, other business houses came in, and in 1853 a postoffice was established. The gristmill continued to
grind, through good and bad times, even after the Detroit, Eel River & Illinois Railroad was completed to Logansport
in 1871, passing Stockdale by in favor of the newer Town of Roann, a mile to the southeast.
ROANN LAID OUT
The original plat of Roann was laid out by Joseph Beckner, proprietor, being surveyed by Elijah Hackleman, June
16 and 17, 1853, and recorded September 14th of that year. Its location was in the northwest quarter of section
1, south of Eel River. After the Detroit, Eel River & Illinois Railroad reached the place in 1871, additions
were made by S. H. Butterbaugh and Cornelius Haldermann in the northeast quarter of section 2.
THE PRESENT TOWN
Within the past few years, there have been signs of considerable progress in the affairs of Roann, and its population
will now exceed the last named figure. It has the trade of a good country district and has a well organized bank,
several creditable stores, a grain elevator, a sawmill, a cement post factory and a large yard for the supply of
coal, lumber and cement. The grain, fuel and building material interests at Roann are controlled by T. J. Lewis
ROANN'S FINE SCHOOL
The township school at Roann is a large brick building, two stories and basement, and is a credit to the citizens
and supporters of the system The main structure was erected in 1900 on the site of the schoolhouse destroyed by
fire. In September, 1914, a large addition was completed at a cost of $13,000, making the school building as a
whole one of the most complete and modern in the county. There are about sixty pupils in the high school department
and 175 in the grammar grades. The superintendent, J. Elmer Landis, and principal, Laura E. Lynn, are assisted
by seven teachers. J. M. Wagoner is the township trustee.
The Methodists, Universalists and United Brethren have churches at Roann. The M. E. Church was formed some time
before 1873, probably about the time that the railroad reached town, when everything, including the organization
of religious bodies, was encouraged. The meetinghouse was built during the year named, and among the earlier pastors
were Hosea Woolpert, J. J. Cooper, L. W. Munson, C. U. Wade and. David McElwee. Rev. L. G. Jacobs is the present
pastor of a flourishing church which numbers about two hundred and seventy members.
The town plat of Urbana is located partly in Paw Paw and partly in La Gro Township, in sections 12 and 1, of
the former and 6 and 7, of the latter. It was laid out by James M. Wright, William Richards. and Samuel Willman,
proprietors; was surveyed by James L Knight, March 5, 1854, and recorded on the 13th by William Steele, recorder
or Wabash County. From 1872 to 1882 additions were made in La Gro Township by George Schultz and Daniel L. Speicher.
CHURCH OF THE EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION
In 1876 the first organization of the Church of the Evangelical Association was effected in a schoolhouse at Urbana, and in 1877 the society built its first house of worship one mile and a quarter east of town. For years this appointment was attached to the work of the Wabash Church; but in 1891 the present church building was erected at Urbana. The following pastors have served the church for periods ranging from one to four years: Rev. C. C. Baumgartner, Rev. J. K. Troyer, Rev. G. Sehmoll, Rev. E. R. Troyer, Rev. J. Berger, Rev. G. Schmoll, Rev. C. C. Beyer, Rev. John Hoffman, Rev. G. Roederer, Rev. James Wales, Rev. William Wildermuth, Rev. J. M. Dustman. Rev. August Geist, Rev. F. Rausch, Rev. M. L. Schneider, Rev. F. L. Snyder and Rev. A. A. Knepper. The present membership of the Church of the Evangelical Association (1914) is 214.
HOW THE TOWNSHIP CAME TO BE
In December, 1856, about three years after the founding of Roann, Elihu Garrison, of Liberty Township, and one
of the fathers of America, headed a petition to the board of county commissioners asking that a new township be
created from Pleasant and Noble. It was deferred to a meeting called for January 5, 1857 and in the meantime several
remonstrances were prepared against the proposed action, as well as any legislation which should change the existing
townships. Four other petitions were also ready to be hurled at the reassembled commissioners, proposing as many
brand new townships. The result was the stampeding of the board against anything for or against, including Paw