History of Harrison Township, Dearborn County, Indiana
From: History of Dearborn County, Indiana
Her People, Industries and Institutions
Archibald Shaw, Editor
Published By: B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1915


Harrison township was created out of the territory taken from Logan township. It is situated in the extreme northeast corner of Dearborn county, and was organized by the board of county commissioners at the June session, in 1844. Like Logan, Lawrenceburg and Center townships, settlements were made in this township very promptly after the treaty made by General Wayne with the Indians, and lands were entered at once after the land office was opened at Cincinnati for the sale of the lands west of the Miami river.

Section 11 was entered by John Brown and Lewis Deweese, in August, 1801. Part of section 13 was entered by Cave Johnston in the same month, John Brown likewise entered a part of section 24, April 9. 1801, which was the same day that Joseph Hayes, Jr., entered land in Lawrenceburg township. Later entries were William Majors, in June, 1802; John Allen, part of section 25, in 1805. John Hackleman entered a part of section 10, in 1801, and James Adair a part of section 4, the same year. In 1804 Alexander Dearmand entered a part of section 12, and in December, 1802, William Allensworth entered a part of section 13.


In 1879 William McClure, then a very old man, living just over the line in Franklin county, wrote the following account of the early times as he remembered it: "My father moved from Harrison county, Kentucky, in 1804, when I was about two years old, and settled in Cleves, Ohio, about five miles below the town of Harrison, Ohio. He remained there one season, and then moved to a place called "Stone Lick," and built a log cabin, which was on the farm of the late Peter Rifner, about one mile above Harrison. I learned from Capt. Isaac Fuller, of this county, that his father lived as early as 1794 or 1795, at North Bend, and in the Big Bottom, and that he helped to raise the first patch of corn that was raised by white men in the Big Bottoms.

"I will now name the first settlers in the vicinity of Harrison, out as far as the Dry fork, and Miami and up to the line of Franklin county, and also state where they lived, as near as I can recollect, as the principal route to the interior of the state from Cincinnati, where the land office was located, was up the Whitewater valley, where were located these early settlers. On the Ohio side and near the Miami there lived Colonel Benifield, Squire Vantrees, Basil Wells, Carrs, Professor White, Ingersol, and the Ismingers. J. Armstrong settled on Dry fork near New Haven, in 1802 or 1803; also the Athertons and Shucks. Matthew Brown lived near Harrison, also the Cottons. At Harrison and below were Even Cooley, the Hunts, Allens, James Backhouse and the Breckenridges. Above Harrison, first was old John Caldwell, who could tell some of the greatest stories of any man in the country. He said that when he was 'laying his corn by' one year in the bottoms above Harrison, he noticed a very promising hill of corn and that he concluded he would mark it; so he threw a black chunk by it, and in the fall when he came to gather it, there were one hundred and sixty five ears on that one hill of corn and fourteen on the black chunk.

"Next above was James Ends, father of William H. Ends, formerly of Brookville. I lived near Mr. Harthouse. Jeremiah Johnson lived near Johnsons fork, from whom I presume it took its name. Across the river lived the Ashbys. Above the mouth of Johnsons fork, on the bank of the river, there was a blockhouse built in 1812, for defense against the Indians. Moses Wiley, father of Hon. Spencer Wiley, settled on the farm of the late Thomas Breckenridge. The next farm above was settled by William Jacob, father of Major Hackleman, deceased, late of this county. William Myer lived in the bottom south of Hacklemans, near the old Baptist meeting house. The next above Hacklemans were Solomon and Richard Manwarring. The next above, near where the Widow Bray lives, was James Cole, who was one of your noisy, boisterous men. He could be heard in common conversation nearly half a mile. Benjamin McCarty, James Adair, and Abner Conner settled in the bottom above Cole. Some persons by the name of Logan made some salt, at or near the mouth of Logan creek."


One of the most successful and well known Methodist preachers in the Whitewater country was Rev. Allen Wiley. His father moved to a place about three miles above Harrison in 1804, at which time Allen Wiley was in his sixteenth year. In 1845 and 1846 Rev. Allen Wiley published a series of articles in the Western Christian. Advocate entitled "Introduction and Progress of Methodism in Southeastern Indiana." He was a man of unusually large experience and knowledge of the people and of the times whereof he wrote. He says: "In the autumn of 1804 my father came to Indiana. The country was then somewhat densely settled along the river up what was called the Lower Narrows, six or seven miles above where the Whitewater leaves Indiana. As well as I remember there was but one family living on the southwest side of the river opposite the before mentioned narrows; another family lived opposite the narrows above the present town of New Trenton, and another on the same side opposite Cedar Grove. Three quarters of a mile above Big Cedar Grove creek, John Connor, an Indian trader, had a store, kept by a Frenchman, hence the store was called French's store. I have now gone to the ultima thule or verge of the white population in the Whitewater valley in 1804. The first settlers in the Whitewater bottom were in many respects a charming people, when I became acquainted with them in 1804. They were generally a sober, industrious and kind hearted people."

An emigrants' directory, published in 1817, speaks of the village of Harrison considerable number of the inhabitants are from the State of New York. Mr. Looker from Saratoga county, Mr. Crane from Schenectady and Mr. Allen, the postmaster, from New Jersey, own the surrounding lands. They are all very fine and valuable farms worth from forty to sixty dollars per acre. The settlement was commenced about sixteen years ago."

In 1884 Mathias Voshell died in Miller township and in his obituary it was stated that "he was born in Delaware, in 1804, and with his step father, Mr. Thornton, immigrated to Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 1805, where Mr. Thornton built a flatboat, and in 1806 landed in Cincinnati and selected and built the first cabin on the Ohio side, in the town of Harrison, and at the age of twenty five years went to Kentucky, where he resided, until recently he returned to Dearborn county."


George W. Lane says in regard to the early settlement of Harrison township: "In 1807 Moses Tebbs removed from North Carolina and settled on the Whitewater river in Harrison township. Mr. Tebbs had previously resided in Virginia. On coming here game of all kinds were very plenty, and the male portion of the Tebbs family became expert hunters. When the Indian war broke out in 1811, Warren, with his brother Willoughby (sons of Moses) and most of the young men in the neighborhood joined the 'rangers.' and were stationed at the various block houses, as the frontier forts were designated. After the war, Warren married and settled in Logan township. Adamaners Andres and family, from Maryland, settled on the east bank of the Whitewater in 1813. He was the father of James Andres, a highly esteemed citizen of Harrison. Mr. Andres and family were accompanied by Isaac Mettler and family from the same state. Mr. Mettler was born in that state in 1774, and had four brothers who served throughout the Revolutionary War, and he himself attended the funeral of President Washington, on which occasion he was one of the strewers of flowers. Both Mr. Mettler and Mr. Andres had several children at the time of their locating."

"Peter Williams, a native of North Carolina, settled in the township in 1811. He was the father of David Williams, deceased. William McManaman and family came from the state of Pennsylvania, in 1813, and located in the township."

Again quoting George W. Lane: "In the year 1810 Samuel Bond settled on Wilson creek and soon after remcved over the state line and built what was known far and near by the early settlers as Bond's mill, later it was known as the Bond Rees' Mill. It was a water power mill and stood on the west bank of the Whitewater just above where the modern suspension bridge was erected. It was a substantial structure and was, patronized by the settlers for miles around. The building was taken down about 1890, and the old race is all that is left of this once famous place for grinding grain. In 1808 or 1809 a sawmill was operated on the Whitewater, west of Harrison, by William Purcell and Thomas Breckinridge. Probably about 1824 these same men erected a grist mill on the east side of the river."


The town of West Harrison joins onto the state line and is separated from Harrison, Ohio, by State street which is directly on the line dividing Indiana from Ohio. It was laid out in 1813 by John Allen and Peter Hanan. It is given a population of two hundred and eighty one by the census of 1910. The town was evidently laid out on the site of a mound builders' city if the numerous mounds and other relics of this prehistoric race are any evidence. An emigrants' directory, published in 1817, speaking of these evidences of a previous race living here says: "The traces of ancient population cover the earth in every direction. On the bottoms are a great many mounds very unequal in age and size. The small ones are from two to four feet above the surface, and the growth of timber upon them small, not being over one hundred years old, while the other mounds are from ten to thirty feet and frequently contain trees of the largest diameter. There is a large mound in Mr. Allen's field about twenty feet high and sixty feet in diameter at the base, which contains a greater proportion of bones than anyone I ever before examined, as also every shovelful of dirt would contain fragments of a human skeleton. Almost every lot in the village of Harrison contains a mound and some as many as three. On the neighboring hills northeast of the town are a number of remains of stone houses. They were covered with soil, brush and full grown trees. We cleared away the earth, roots and rubbish from one of them and found it to have been occupied anciently as a dwelling. It was about twelve feet square; the walls had fallen nearly to the foundation. They appeared to have been built of rough stones like our stone walls. Not the least trace of any iron tools having been employed to smooth the face of them could be perceived. At one end of the building we came to a regular hearth, containing ashes and coals, before which we found the bcnes of eight persons of different ages, from a small child to the heads of the family. The positions of their skeletons clearly indicated that their deaths were sudden and simultaneous. They were probably asleep with their feet to the fire, when destroyed by an enemy, an earthquake or a pestilence."

It is said that the first hotel in the village was carried on by John Wykoff in 1816, and that the second was built by Breckinridge & Purcell in 1818. Among the early merchants were Sattertatt & Totten, James Wilson, John D. Moore, Isaac Morgan ( father in law of Vice President Thomas A. Hendricks), who it is thought built the first brick house, on the site of West Harrison, now occupied by Tebbs Brothers. It was built in 1818. About one third of the town of Harrison is on the west side of the state line.

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