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Henry County, Indiana
Genealogy and History

a small part of the INGENWEB and USGENWEB

Prairie Township

1884

History of Henry County, Indiana : together with sketches of its cities, villages and towns, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history, portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens : also a condensed history of Indiana, embodying accounts of pre-historic races, aborigines, Winnebago and Black Hawk wars, and a brief review of its civil and political history. Chicago: Inter-State Pub. Co., 1884, 944 pgs.

Prairie Township

Prairie Township, one of the four townships erected by the County Commissioners on the 11th of June, 1822, at first included "all that part of Henry County north of the congressional township line dividing townships 17 and 18 north," that is, it was twenty miles long and eight in width. At the same date it was ordered that an election for one Justice of the Peace for said township should be held at the house of Abraham Harvey on the 6th of July, 1882, and that William Harvey be inspector. At this election William Harvey and Abijah Cain were chosen Overseers of the Poor; and Abraham Harvey, James Massey and Robert Gordon, Fence Viewers. The place of election was changed in 1826 to Samson Smith's; afterward to Enoch Dent's, then to E. T. Hickman's, and then to James Harvey's. This township derives its name from the low and level meadows which constitute a considerable portion of its land. It is a rich and wealthy farming district, and contains four villages. In 1870 the population was 1,622; in 1880, 1,708.

The Harvey neighborhood was among the first settlements in the county. William, Benjamin, James and Abasalom Harvey settled in 1819. Absalom Harvey owned land about New Castle and donated to the county twenty-eight acres, including that on which the court-house now stands. Benjamin Harvey settled in the spring of 1819, the others in the autumn. The family were originally from Nor th Carolina, but had moved to Indiana while it was a Territory. They came to this county from Wayne.

Evan Harvey was accidentally shot while hunting deer, soon after the family came here. His death is said to have been the first in the township.

Samuel Howard settled at the same time with the Harveys.

Shubal Julian, now of Harrison Township, located in Prairie Township in 1822, and after remaining several years removed to Harrison. In this township the first lands taken up were along Blue River. No land was sold here until 1822. In that year entries were made by the following persons: Oct. 22, Absalom Harvey; Oct. 25, Robert Smith, Barclay Benbow, James Harvey, Abijah Cox, Benjamin Harvey, William Harvey, John Harris; Nov. 12, Jacob Weston; Dec. 11, Jacob Witter; Dec. 22, Philip Harkrider. Other early settlers were Jesse Mellett, Aquilla Barrett, Chas. Gough, John Reed, Joshua Heckman, John P. Johnson, James Massie, John Yoadley, Thomas and Jacob Houston, William Brown, William Wiley, Martin and Jacob Kibbler and others.

George Hedrick and family, from Virginia, settled in 1824 on the farm where he died in 1863. He reared a large family, and several of his children still live in the county.

The first mill in the county was erected in this township in 1821 by a man named Snyder. It ground only corn, and was a very primitive affair. Its stones were made from "nigger heads," cut by Snyder himself. Later a mill was built further down the river, and known as Blue River Mill. In 1851 the mill on the township line between Henry and Prairie was built. It is now owned by James Nip.

Bouslog's mill, a famous one in its day, situated on Blue River, about two miles southwest of Rogersville, was built by Levi Bouslog about 1844, at a cost of about $6,000.

The first white man buried in the township was Samuel Hendricks,in the Harvey graveyard.

The first white child born in the township was Joel Harvey, Oct. 18, 1821.

Joseph Needham, at Hillsboro, kept the first store in the township.

On the land of Shubal Julian, one mile south of Mt. Summit, a school-house, of round logs, was erected about the year 1824, by Shubal Julian, Thomas Hess, Josiah Bradbury, Lemuel Evans and Moses Wayman. Here Milton Wayman taught the first school in the township, having about thirty scholars. The teacher was boarded for 50 cents per week. The first religious sevices in the township were held in the above school-house by Father Rogers, an Episcopal clergyman.

A log school-house, in which greased paper served as window lights, was built on the farm now owned by Joel Harvey as early as 1826.

An early school-house was built on the farm of E. T. Heckman, now belonging to Nathan Harvey. It was constructed of hewed logs. Prior to its erection several terms of school had been taught in private dwellings.

The first school-house in the Mount Summit district was a log building with slab seats. The present school is graded, and occupies two rooms. Newton Williams was the first Principal.

Jesse H. Healey was among the first teachers in the township.

There are now twelve school-houses in the township. The school property is valued at about $10,000. The number of school children in the townshp in 1884 was 454; in Mount Summit corporation, 76.

Township officers, 1883-'84: Jesse M. Reed, Trustee; J. B. Gilmore, Assessor; Justices of the Peace: J. W. Dunbar, Mount Summit; Thomas Ice, Hillsboro; Marcus Brown, Luray.

Mount Summit Corporation-Trustees: Dr. Norviel, J. N. Smith, J. V. Beavers.

CHURCHES

Lebanon Church (Baptist).-The house of worship of this congregation is situated near the center of the township. Jesse Mellet was the first preacher. The congregation was organized at his house May 10, 1828. The first house of worship was erected about 1831. The present membership is seventy-two; present pastors: T. S. Lyons and John Buckles; Deacons: T. H. Beavers, Jonathan Veach.

Among the earliest members of Lebanon church were Jesse Mellett and wife, John Miller and wife, Ruth Wayman, Mrs. Whittaker, Mrs. A. Veach, Mr. Jones and wife. The early ministers were Jesse Mellett, Charles Mellett, John Baldrige, T. S. Lyons and Ara Cole.

Christian Church.-The church near Hillsboro was the first Christian church in the township. It was organized Nov. 28, 1840. Elder Elijah Martindale was the first minister. The congregation when formed consisted of sixty-six members. The Trustees were: Asahel Woodward, Benjamin Harvey, Clemlent Murphey, Nathan Canaday and William Millikan; Samuel Canaday, Clerk. The church building was erected by subscription. Clement Murphey gave one acre of ground for a church lot and cemetery.

Before any regular organization was effected, Elder Martindale preached at the house of Wm. Canaday.

Christian Church.-Mt. Summit Christian church was organized by Elder J. B. Ludwig, April 24, 1873. John Smith and Thomas Hale were chosen the first elders; H. H. Cannaday, Wm. Shively and R. F. West, Deacons. The house of worship is 40 x 60 feet in size, and cost $3,000. The church has about 141 members at pressent. The present church officers are: Thos. Hale, R. D. Norviel and B. F. Needham, Elders; R. F. West, J. J. Courtney and J. W. Dunbar, Deacons; S. S. Cannaday, Clerk. The township now contains two Christian churches, two Baptist churches, two Methodist churches, and one German Baptist church.

MOUNT SUMMIT.

This village was platted in 1854 by Jesse Ice. Additions have since been made by Abel W. Ice, William West and Samuel Ice. The town was incorporated in 1871. In 1880 its populations was 200.

The first wagon-maker in the place was Joseph Kinsey; the first blacksmith, Frederick Ice; and first physician, Dr. Gavin. The present physicians are Dr. Norviel and Dr. F. G. Jackson. The first hotel was kept by W. S. Dunbar, who is still in the business. A second hotel has since been established and is now kept by J. S. Bates

The postoffice was established in 1858. The Postmasters have been: L. D. Harvey, Joseph Williamson, John Aucker, R. Hudson and J. N. Smith.

The first saw-mill at Mt. Summit was erected by A. J. and E. T. Ice, in 1847. It was burned down, but rebuilt.

A. J. Ice built the first warehouse in 1871. Harvey & Rifner have a grain elevator, erected since. Both of these firms are still doing a very prosperous business. The shipments of wheat and corn run from 40,000 to 100,000 bushels per year by each firm.

Business interests, 1884: General stores, C. A. Richey, J. N. Smith; grocery, J. C. Cole; hardware and grain, Harvey & Rifner; stoves and tinware, Michael Brothers.

The town derives its name from the fact that it is situated upon one of the chief elevations of the county. Its drainage goes both to the north and to the south. The Fort Wayne, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad passes through the town.

OTHER VILLAGES.

Hillsboro, although one of the oldest villages in the county, is yet one of the smallest. It is situated in the southeastern part of Prairie Township, and in 1880 had a population of ninety. The village was laid out in 1830 by Thomas Maston and Samuel Rinehart. A postoffice named "Dan Webster" was established here several years ago but was afterward discontinued.

Luray, in the northern part of the township, is another village, old but small. It was laid out in 1836 by Lot Hazelton. It is situated ten miles north of New Castle and a mile and a half east of the railroad. The building of the railroad took the life out of the place. A postoffice was established in 1850, George Louthain, Postmaster.

Springport, a small village on the railroad north of Mount Summit, came into being when the railroad was built in 1869. Its growth has not been remarkable.

Springport has three general stores, one drug store, one saw-mill and minor industries. Drs. Estarook and Benedict are the physicians. The village is unincorporated. In 1880 its populations was 118.