History of Kelso 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


Kelso township was one of the original seven townships that then made what is now Dearborn county, and was organized at the November session of the county board of supervisors in 1826. The township derived its name from John Kelso, a native of Ireland, who came to the county and entered a part of section 2, town 7, range 2 west, in 1814. Mr. Kelso was an active, public spirited citizen, and on that account the township was named for him. One of his grandsons, after serving his country for three years in the Eighty third Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, during the Civil War, removed to Rush county, Indiana, where he has been following in the footsteps of his sires, by being called to the position of county commissioner for several terms.

Following Mr. Kelso in the township the early settlers were Thomas Dart, Joel Dickinson, Lewis and Henry McKenzie. In 1819 a United Brethren church was built on section 7, which was the first church built in the township. It is now within the bounds of Jackson township. Preachers by the names of Holmes and Spencer were the first to preach the gospel in that country. George W. Lane says, in a short history he wrote for a Dearborn county map, published in 1875, "that Spencer was captured by the Indians when a boy near Cincinnati, living with them for a number of years." It is probable that Mr. Lane had the wrong Spencer in his mind; for O. M. Spencer, who was captured by the Indians one Fourth of July, about a year after Cincinnati was settled, was an attorney, it is believed.

Kelso township was originally settled by people from the east but in a few years the Germans and Irish began to come in, and in a generation almost he entire township had changed ownership.

There are three villages in the township. The site of Dover was first settled in 1815, by Jonathan Lewis. He erected the first house there at that date. The place was originally known as McKenzies Cross Roads, and it is claimed that Henry McKenzie had a stored at that point, was the first merchant in the township and postmaster. It now has a store, blacksmith shop and a number of houses with a population of perhaps 100.

New Alsace was laid off by Joseph Smith, February 12, 1838, and a Frenchman by the name of Anthony Walliezer is supposed to have been the first settler at that place, he coming there in 1833. The town was laid out with sixteen lots and seven ten acre lots. An addition to the village was filed by Philip Schatts, in 1848, George Vogelgesang settled here and became the first blacksmith. The first merchant was John Decker, who kept a grocery, and then followed James Cannon, who kept a dry goods store. A postoffice was established here in 1840, and John B. Kessler was appointed postmaster. The population of the village in 1910 is given by the census as 200. St. Leon is located in the northern part of the township and as a village with a postoffice and several stores, and a population according to the census of 1910 of 250.

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