History of Eel River Township, Hendricks County, Indiana
From: History of Hendricks County, Indiana
Hon. John V. Hadley, Editor in Chief.
B. F. Bowen & Co., Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1914


Eel River township is in the extreme northwest corner of Hendricks county. It is bounded on the north by Boone county, on the east by Union and Center townships, on the south by Marion township, on the west by Putnam and Montgomery counties. The natural drainage of the most of this township is excellent; the east and west sides are rather flat and not adequately drained by the streams, although the farmers have at this time provided artificial means which remedy this deficiency. In the southwest corner of this township are found many high elevations, some of the hills below the juncture of Rock Branch and Eel River rising one hundred feet above the bed of the stream and now covered with a luxuriant second growth of timber. Five good sized streams enter the township near the southwest corner, merging into Eel river. The picturesqueness of these stream valleys, the rich, wooded banks rising from them and the well arranged farm lands lying behind, supplies beauty of landscape unequaled in the county. It is the garden sport of Hendricks. The land in this locality is uniformly good and is well adapted to any kind of cultivation.

The Ben-Hur division of the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern line crosses the northeast corner of this township.


In the spring of 1824 the first white settlers came to Eel River township. They were Noah Bateman and Reuben Claypool and they located a mile south of North Salem. They were followed in the fall of that year by John Claypool and John S. Woodward. Among the others who located in this township, previous to 1830, were James Trotter, Henry Bales, J. and Martha Page, John P. Benson, Robert Covey, Enoch Davis and his sons, William, Frank and Jesse, William Dewitt, Dr. Collins, Andrew Clifton, James Campbell, Mr. Crum and the Penningtons. John Benson built the first mill in the county on Rock Branch in the year 1826. This structure lasted but a few years when Mr. Crum built a mill on Eel River, not far from the site of the former mill. About the year 1830 a distillery was started near Crum's mill. This was the first in the county.

The date of the organization was somewhere near the year 1828, four years after the organization of the county.


The citizens of Eel River, at an early date, passed what was known as a "stay law," in defense of their property, which was often taken and sold by the constable. Whenever the constable advertised any property for sale the club would meet on the night before and carry a number of boulders which they piled on the ground as a notice to the constable not to offer the property for sale.


The first general election held in Eel River township was on August 7, 1826. The men who voted at this election were Abel Pennington, Lewis Benson, Jacob Shoemaker, William Turner, Jacob Crum, A. Jones, James Fowler, Jesse Turner, John Warker, Hampton Pennington, Daniel Turner, John Woodward, John Turner, David Evans, Edward Turner, William Hinton, David Claypool, W. Jones, Christian Hartman, John Fowler, Noah Bateman, Y. L. Huggs, John Claypool, Alva Benson, Little Huggs and William Fowler.


To describe Eel River township of today the same words used in the account of the other civil divisions might be used. The township has no large settlements, but has developed in agricultural lines during the past score of years until now it occupies a marked position in the county. The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton railroad traverses the township, east and west, near the center and the Peoria division of the Big Four and the Ben-Hur interurban line cross near the north part of the township, providing direct intercourse with the chief markets of the state. The schools have grown and become modern in every respect, following the new thought of consolidation. The people of the township have directed a large part of their efforts to the betterment of the roads. The old dirt road, with its sloughs and dangerous holes, has been replaced by excellent gravel and macadam highways. The farms are cultivated according to the latest practices employed over the country and along with care for proper cultivation has become a pride in the appearance of the field, the equipment and the residence. Many a farm home viewed by the traveler in Eel River township is impressive and suitable for the largest cities.


North Salem is the only village in Eel River township. It was laid out in 1835 by John and David Claypool and John S. Woodward. The town has always been a prosperous one, even from the beginning, a new life having been given by the building of the railroad, now the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton railroad. The United States census report for 1910 gives the population of North Salem as five hundred and sixty nine, which number had grown proportionately larger in the past five years.

The place was incorporated as a town in May, 1899, and town officers elected. The offices in 1914 are filled as follows: Trustees, J. H. Page, Harry Seaton and Harry Dean; clerk, Smith Davis; marshal, Virgil Robbins. About ten years ago the town installed an acetylene plant, for residence and street lighting. This public utility was recently improved and enlarged and is now worth four thousand dollars.

The North Salem Bank was organized in 1891 by Pritchard & Son, of Illinois, and in 1893 the business was purchased by the present owners and has since been controlled by home people. C. W. Davis is president of the bank. G. B. Davis, cashier, and J. B. Fleece, assistant cashier. The average deposits amount to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

North Salem Lodge No. 142, Free and Accepted Masons, was chartered on May 25, 1853, and was the first secret order in the town. This lodge is in good condition now and has a membership of ninety.

North Salem Lodge No. 158, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was chartered on April 15, 186, with the following first members: William Adair, John S. Woodward, James White, John M. Hensley, James Shakles and H. W. Hackley. This lodge today has a membership of one hundred and fifty eight.

North Salem Lodge No. 291, Knights of Pythias, has at present sixty five members. This lodge was organized about ten years ago.

Joe Fleece Post No. 383, Grand Army of the Republic, at North Salem, was mustered, in September, 1884, with ten charter members. This post is not active at the present time.

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