History of Guilford 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


Guilford township is situated in the southeast corner of Hendricks county; is bounded on the north by Washington township, on the east by Marion county, on the south by Morgan county and on the west by Liberty township. White Lick creek flows through the central portion, the East fork thereof and Clark's creek through the east side, and the West fork of White Lick, with a small tributary, across the west side. This network of streams supplies perhaps the best natural drainage system of any township in the county. The water adds greatly to the value of the land also; the uplands are rolling and the stream valleys are fertile and of high productive quality. Walnut, poplar and maple timber was at one time thick over this township, but this has been reduced by the encroachments of agriculture to a very small per cent. of the original.


Guilford township was the first in the county to be entered by white settlers. This was in the year 1820. In that year Samuel Herriman, James Dunn, Bat Ramsey, Harris Bay, John W. Bryant and George Moore settled on White Lick, south of Plainfield, near the Morgan county line. Here they set up their cabins. cleared ground and raised a few small crops of corn and potatoes. In the spring of 1821 Noah Kellum, Thomas Lockhart, Mr. Plummer and Felix Balzer settled on the East fork, and Matthew Lowder, Jesse Hockett and Robert Tomlinson on White Lick, south of Plainfield. In the spring of 1822 Jeremiah Hadley, Jonathan Hadley and David Carter settled on adjoining lands on the hills immediately east of the present town of Plainfield and were the first to locate in that neighborhood. In the same year James Downard settled on the state farm. In 1824 Guilford township contained more people than all the other townships combined. The Friends were the majority of the early settlers and to this day this religious denomination is strong in the township. The civil division was named in honor of Guilford county, North Carolina, by Samuel Jessup, due to the fact, doubtless, that a large number of the emigrants came from that place.


Samuel Jessup was the first justice of the peace in Guilford township and in Hendricks county. He was elected in the autumn of 1822, under the jurisdiction of Morgan county, to which Hendricks county was attached for two years for judicial purposes before its organization. Mr. Jessup was elected by the first political campaign in the county. John and Samuel Jessup, on East fork, were also candidates, and Gideon Wilson, near Shiloh. There were fifteen voters below and eight in Wilson's vicinity. A caucus was held in the Fairfield neighborhood, and it was found that there would be no election if all the candidates remained in the field, and as Samuel had the most votes it was decided that John should withdraw from the race, which he did, and Samuel was chosen.

The poll book of the first general election held in Guilford township, on August 7, 1826, at the house of John Jessup, gives a list of forty two voters, which is manifestly incomplete, namely: Timothy Jessup, Thomas Lockhart, James McClure, John White. Noah Kellum, Isaac Sanders, Harmon Hiatt, Ain Ballard, Benjamin Sanders, Henry Bland, Robert Tomlinson, Joseph Chandler, John Hiatt, Elihu Jackson, Joseph Ballard, Charles Reynolds, Pratt W. Jessup, Joseph Jessup, Joel Jessup, John Hawkins, Lee Jessup, Abijah Pinson, John Jessup, Joseph P. Jessup, Levi Cook, Henry Reynolds, Timothy H. Jessup, James C. Tomlinson, Joseph Cloud. John Lemon, John Carson, David Stutesman, James Ritter, William Merritt, Solomon Edmundson, John Ballard, David Ballard, Robert Lemon, Joseph Hiatt, Jesse Kellum, Thomas R. Ballard and John Harris. Guilford township has always been Republican in politics, following from the support of the Whig party.


Because of the location of Plainfield, the second town in the county, Guilford township is perhaps next to the leading, if not the leading. civil division in the county. It has the advantage in not only having a good population, but in having exceptional land, rich and fertile, and capable of producing record crops. The farmers are of the best class in the state and are all in a prosperous condition. The appearance of the farms, the buildings and the residences is the strongest testimony to this fact. Much attention has been given to the roads of the township. Gravel highways, and many macadamized, form a network over the division. Two railroads and two interurban lines cross the county, all going into Indianapolis.


The town of Plainfield is the second town in the county in size. It was laid out by Elias Hadley and Levi Jessup in the year of 1839. Thomas Worth built the first frame house in the town and Worth & Brothers were the first merchants.

In 1839 Plainfield was incorporated as a town, and the officers of the election made the following report:

"We, the undersigned president and clerk chosen and qualified according to law, do hereby certify that we did, on the morning of the 25th of May, 1839, lay off the said town into five districts, to-wit: That the town lots lying east of Center street and north of the national road shall be known as the first district; that the lots lying east of Center street south of the national road shall be known as the second district; that the lots lying between Center and Mills street south of the national road, shall be known as the third district; that the town lots lying between Center and Mills streets, north of the national road, shall be known as the fourth district; and that the town lots lying west of Mills street shall be known as the fifth district.

"And we do further certify that David G. Worth, Eli K. Caviness, James M. Long, Andrew Prather and James M. Blair were duly elected trustees of the town of Plainfield according to law.

"DAVID G. WORTH, President. "Attest: ISAAC OSBORN, Clerk."

At this election the following twenty three persons voted: Daniel Barker, David G. Worth, M. G. Taylor, David Barker, Jesse Rocket, James M. Blair, A. C. Logan, A. Prather, Luther Sikes, James M. Long, James T. Downard, Eli K. Caviness, M. G. Corlew, Joel Hodgin, Muling Miller, Thomas J. Worth, Benjamin Lawrence, David Phillips, V. C. Gitchens, John Shelley, Isaac Osborn, Isaac Holton and William Osborn. These were among the prominent first settlers of the town of Plainfield. This incorporation charter was later given up, due to unsuccessful attempts at town government. Township rule was considered to be the best. However, on June 25, 1904, the town of Plainfield was again incorporated as a town. In the second incorporation the first officers were: M. M. Fraser, J. A. Johnson and John L. Gunn, trustees; Charles R. Harvey, clerk; Jacob Wickliff, marshal. The present town officers are as follows: Joseph Pruitt, Charles Harvey and E. E. Watson, trustees; R. M. Hadley, clerk and treasurer; Frank Fields, marshal.

The Plainfield water works is a municipally owned plant, built in 1913, at a cost of eighteen thousand dollars. Electricity is supplied by the Danville Light, Heat and Power Company.


The town of Plainfield had a population in 1910 of one thousand three hundred and three. The town has the appearance of a much larger city; the residences are commodious and of pleasing architecture and the business section has the air of prosperity and civic excellence. The town is reached by the Vandalia and the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern lines and much commercial and social intercourse is held with the city of Indianapolis and other towns on the lines.

The Citizens' State Bank of Plainfield was organized in 1889 by George W. Bell. It was chartered in that year and in 1909 this charter was renewed. The first officers of the bank were: Harlan Hadley, president; John A. Miles, vice president; George W. Bell, cashier. William Lewis, Ezra H. Cox, T. F. Roberts, David Hadley and John R. Weer were associated with the institution. The present officers are: John L. Gunn, president; John M. Brown, vice president; Emil B. Mills, cashier; Ralph B. Hornaday, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $25,000; deposits, $145,000; surplus and undivided profits, $30,000.

Plainfield Lodge No. 286, Free and Accepted Masons, was organized October 21, 1862, with the following officers: Amos Easterling, worshipful master; Caleb Easterling, senior warden; Amos Alderson, junior warden; Madison Osborn, secretary; Carey Regan, treasurer; N. Y. Parsons, senior deacon; William D. Cooper, junior deacon; Thomas Powell, tyler. This lodge is now Plainfield Lodge No. 653, and has a good membership.

McCarty Lodge No. 233, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at Plainfield, is over forty years old. They now have a membership of one hundred and sixty.

Plainfield Lodge No. 5o, Knights of Pythias, has a membership of two hundred and is very prosperous. There is also a tribe of the Improved Order of Red Men and a camp of the Modern Woodmen of America in the town.

Virgil H. Lyon Post No. 186, Grand Army of the Republic, at Plainfield, was chartered June 11, 1883, with forty members. This post is not active at the present time, due to the decease of so many members.


The Plainfield library is a partial realization of the dreams and desires of some of the women of Plainfield. Feeling the need of such an institution in the town and believing an honest effort to establish such a means of directing and cultivating the literary tastes of the young and satisfying the demands of the old would be rewarded by success, the Woman's Reading Club asked the local Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Friday Club to enter into an association for the above purpose. A corporation was formed and a board of trustees appointed. With these organizations as charter members, the association membership was increased by adding the name of any person in the township who gave a dollar or more in money or books. Donations in both were solicited, with the result that in a. short time the library opened with about four hundred volumes and money to buy more.

The opening took place in June, 1901, and work began in a front room of a private residence on Main street, with Mrs. Edward Lawrence as librarian. She served until the fall of 1903, when failing health compelled her to resign, and she was succeeded by Miss Melissa Carter.


Just a mile from Plainfield is located the Indiana Boys' School. It is a beautiful place, well kept, and an admirable home for the class of boys sent within its grounds. This school was established by the Legislature of Indiana in 1867, under the name of "The House of Refuge for Juvenile Offenders." In 1883 this name was changed to "The Indiana Reform School for Boys," and in 1903 to the present title, "The Indiana Boys' School." The institution is governed by a bipartisan board of control of four members appointed by the governor for a term of four years. The present board is: Harry T. Schloss, president; Joseph B. Homan, of Danville, vice president; Guy H. Humphreys, treasurer, and George Webster, Jr., secretary. Guy C. Hanna is superintendent of the institution.

Boys are received on commitments from the courts of the state between the ages of eight and seventeen. On a general charge of incorrigibility or delinquency, boys are received between ten and seventeen and on a criminal charge between eight and sixteen. All boys are retained here until they reach the age of twenty one years, unless sooner released by the board of control under general rules. At present these rules are such that with good conduct a boy may gain his release on parole in eighteen months. The average time is a little under two years. Boys may be returned to the institution at any time for the violation of their parole while under twenty one years of age. A statute proposed by the executive officers of the institution was enacted by the Legislature of 1913, giving the board 'of control the right to finally discharge any boy over the age of eighteen years. Under this law six hundred and one boys already on parole have been discharged.

The present number of inmates, which has remained nearly stationary for the past year, is about five hundred and sixty. One hundred of these are colored boys. The institution had, four years ago, six hundred and ninety nine boys. The falling off has been due to the overcrowded condition of the school and the pressure exerted on the courts to hold boys out as long as possible.

The ordinary capacity of the institution is four hundred and twenty six. A new building for housing purposes, Washington Barracks, is now under construction and will accommodate eighty boys. It will replace an old building. A new school house is being constructed also, named Charlton school, in honor of Major T. J. Charlton, superintendent of the school for twenty one years. The institution is supported entirely by direct appropriation from the Legislature. In 1910 the total maintenance coast was $113,284.74; in 1911. $107,164.81; in 1912, $102,224.63; in 1913, $100,583.66.

The purpose of the institution is the reformation of criminal and incorrigible boys. School is maintained the year round. The course covers the eight grades of the common school system. Two graduations are held each year, spring and fall. Sixteen boys were graduated in September, 1913. During the twelve months each grade is given a two weeks vacation out of doors. A director of music and a physical director are included in the teaching force. The schools are in charge of a school principal, who is an experienced school man.

The institution maintains the following shops and trades: Manual training, printing, carpenter, blacksmith, shoe shop, plumbing, tinshop, bakery, laundry, barber, tailor, paint shop, florist, farm and garden and telegraphy. All the furniture of the institution is built at the manual training shop. The printing office does all of the job work for the institution and issues monthly and weekly publications. The ordinary repairs of the institution are kept up by the carpenter, painting, plumbing, blacksmith and tinsmith forces. The garden produces a large variety of vegetables for the institution's use. An orchard of twenty five acres produces five thousand bushels of apples yearly. These are all consumed by the boys. The farm, of three hundred acres, produces all the feed used by the institution and a large quantity of wheat per year, which is milled into flour. This year's crop of wheat amounted to over eighteen hundred bushels and last year's corn crop to five thousand bushels.

The institution owns five hundred and twenty seven acres of land and has fifty four buildings. The place is heated by steam and is lighted by electricity produced at the institution's central power plant. It has its own water works system, equipped with fine, pure water wells pumped by electric pumps. The power plant also supplies steam for cooking and for the steam laundry. It has a capacity for nine hundred horse power.

The officers, including everybody employed, number sixty. These are all appointed by the superintendent and are subject to dismissal at his pleasure. The present board of control started two years ago, with the erection of the new chapel, to gradually rebuild the entire institution. The plan of housing in the future will include barracks, cottages and buildings, with single rooms for the boys.


The first school taught in the Central Academy at Plainfield was in 1881-2. This school was originated and supported by four quarterly meetings of the Friends' church, Plainfield, Fairfield, White Lick and Danville, until the year 1912, when the support of the school was transferred to the Plainfield quarterly meeting alone. It is a commissioned high school with a four year course, having now thirty pupils and three teachers, including Simon N. Hester, the principal. The old building was burned in 1905 and in the next year a new one was constructed at a cost of ten thousand dollars. The first building was a two story brick, with four rooms above and one below; the new one is the same, with the addition of a basement.

Return to [ Indiana History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Indiana Biographies ]

Indiana Counties at this web site - Cass - Clay - Dearborn - Elkhart - Fayette - Gibson - Hancock - Hendrick - Henry - Miami - Monroe - Montgomery - Porter - Posey - Putnam - Rush - St. Joseph - Tippecanoe - Wabash

Also see the local histories for [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ PA ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy