History of Centre Township, St. Joseph County, Indiana
From: History of St. Joseph County, Indiana
Hon. John V. Hadley, Editor in Chief.
Chas. C. Chapman & Co.,
Chiago 1880


As we look over this beautiful part of St. Joseph county, we can hardly realize that so few years have elapsed since it was a howling wilderness, inhabited only by the wild beasts of the forests, and a race of people almost equally wild.

Centre township is bounded on the north by Portage, on the east by Penn and Madison, on the south by Union, and on the west by Greene. It is four miles from east to west, and five from. north to south, and contains 20 square miles. It was laid out Sept. 7, 1831, at which time there were only two or three settlers in what is now Centre township. The following spring a few more adventurers settled in different parts of the township, and of the six meu then living here but one remains, Col. Smith. Nathan Rose was the first to contract for land. He first came here in the summer of 1829, and purchased his land of the Pottawatomie Indians. He then returned and worked in a saw-mill on the Tippecanoe river near Rochester, Ind., to pay for the land. It was located in section 86, and is now owned by I. Roseberry, J. K. Dice, and Jon. Forneman. Mr. Rose moved his family in the fall of 1830 on the place now owned by J. K. Dice. Here he lived, enduring all the privations of pioneer life, until 1852, when he removed his family to St. Joseph, Missouri. He lived but a few years after this; he and his wife both died on the same day, and were buried in the same grave. Their children are now scattered over different. parts of the West. James and Ashur Palmer came in the summer of 1830 and settled on Palmer’s Prairie, thus giving it the name. They and their families have all left the township, removing to Lake county, where they died a few years ago. Andrew Milling came about the same time and located on section 35, where Mr. Hilderbrand now lives. He seems to have been a man of energy and intelligence, but has long since passed away. The family have all gone, and the name once so familiar in this community, will perhaps in another generation be almost forgotten.

In September, 1830, Henry Stull bought this land in the north part of the township. The land office at this time was at Fort Wayne. He came here by the way of Elkhart and Goshen. It must be remembered that at this time the city of Elkhart had not made its appearance, and Goshen contained but one house. Tl1ere were no wagon roads north of Logansport. Mr. Stull was a native of Virginia, but becoming dissatisfied with his native State, and being of a daring, yet careful disposition he loaded a boat with what he called skillets and pots, and started down the Ohio river, landing in the southern part of this State. This was while Indiana was yet a Territory. For a number of years afterward Mr. Stull was engaged in buying stock in Kentucky, and driving them to Eastern Pennsylvania forrnarket. After he came to this county he engaged in farming. He was a man of good business talent, very careftil and accurate in all his transactions, and respected and honored by all that knew him. It is said that he never had his name on any man's books, his motto being "Pay as you go." Being a man temperate habits he lived to be a very old man, and died but a few years ago, in this township.

John Rose settled the same year, on section 36. His son William is still living in this township. It was about this time that the Rupels came to the county. They came from Pennsylvania, and stopped at Elkhart in 1830. While there, Peter Rupel secured his patent for his land in section 26. His son, E. H. Rupel, still has the original deeds made at the land office in Fort Wayne, and signed by Andrew Jackson. He lives on the old home farm. They removed from Elkhart to this township in 1831. They had a family of 7 children, most of whom are still living near the old farm.

After the year 1831 settlers began to come to the township very fast. In the year 1832-'3 the Smiths came; Isaac Lamb, Abiel Hungerford, Tyra N. Bray in 1833; James and Richard Inwood came in 1835 and settled in the southwestern part of the township. William Phillips came about the same time; Wm. HI. Roerston settled on section 2, in October, 1836. It was about this time that the Odells, Ulerys and Bushes came; and it was not long after this time till the giant forests began to disappear very fast from the hills and vales of Centre tp., and in their place came well cultivated fields, bringing forth their bounteous harvests to reward the hardy .woodman for his long and patient toiling. The narrow, winding wood road gradually disappeared; and in its place came the beautiful broad highway which now traverses the township in every direction.

The first child that was born in the township was Elizabeth Rose, daughter of Nathan Rose, and was born where J. K. Dice now lives, on section 36.

The first election was held in Smith's school house on section 2. The elections are still held at the same place. The first Justice of the Peace was Mathias Stover.

The people of this township are very quiet and social,- so much so that they have not needed a Justice of the Peace or Constable for the past 20 years, although they comply with the requirements of the law and elect them. They do not qualify them: so they do not serve.

The people at an early day saw the need of education, for we see the little band of pioneers as early as 1835 joining together and erecting a school-house on section 36, between the section line and the Michigan road, on Nathan Rose's farm. This building, although it may have been rude in appearance, showed the progressive character of the minds that these few hardy pioneers possessed. The building was built of round logs, with cabin roof; was small, and had a puncheon floor. The seats were rough benches made of slabs. For desks they had pins around the walls with boards on them. Blackboards, now considered so indispensable to a school-room, were not dreamed of. Stove it had none, but in its stead at the end of the room was a large fire-place; and on the outside could be seen the chimney towering above the roof, built of sticks and mortar. No doubt that many of these pioneer children who have grown to manhood often think of the merry faces and the laughing jokes that passed around the merry party as they stood about that fire.place on a frosty winter morning warming their fingers and toes. This building was used for six or seven years, when the country, becoming more densely settled, demanded something better and larger; and a frame was erected on J. Smith's land in section 2. This stood till the brick house was built some years ago. The first teacher in the log school-house was Mary Mellings. After her came Benjamin Gibbons and Daniel Robertson, now living in Greene township.

The second district was organized in about 1840 or 1842, and the house was built on section 36, on the farm now owned by I. Roseberry. It was of logs but soon gave way to a frame, and this to a beautiful brick structure which now occupies the old site.

The township now has five school-houses; and the education of the young receives a great deal of attention.


At present the township contains but one church organization,- the German Baptist. They built their church house in the summer of 1859, on section 2. It is known as the Palmer Prairie church, in the South Bend district. The elders at the time the church was built were David Miller and Christian Winger. At that time they had about 70 members: now they have 120.

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