Jefferson township is in the southwest corner of Owen county and covers 48 square miles. The northern boundary is Marion and Lafayette townships, the eastern is Franklin and the southern is Greene county and the western boundary being Clay county. The township was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the third president.
The original boundaries were much larger then the present day ones. Upon the organization in May of 1828 the township boundaries were beginning at a line west of the line dividing Owen and Green counties, north to the south line of Morgan township and then west to the line dividing Owen and Clay counties and then south to the southwest corner of Owen county and back to the beginning. The changes came about with the formation of the adjoining townships.
Jefferson lies in a great coal field of Indiana and is especially rich in that mineral. The richest veins being found in the western part near Coal City where several mines have been developed and are successfully operated.
Jefferson township has always had a reputation for being a good agricultural district and some of the best farmers in the county reside there. The southwest section being an especially fertile sandy loam.
The first permanent white settlement within the present boundaries was made about the year 1820 along the Eel River in the southwest corner of the township by emigrants from North Carolina. Adam Fiscus, a North Carolina native made a tour of inspection about the year 1818 for the purpose of selecting a site for settlement. After marking his claim, he returned the following fall in the company of several of his neighbors. The names of these other early settlers were: Henry Arney, Sr; Henry Arney Jr; Hieronymous Speas; William Boyles and John Stokely.
William Winters and his son, Obadiah, later a preacher of the Christian Church came a little later. The Winters, although North Carolina natives, migrated to Jefferson township from Greene County. In 1821, Frederick and George Hauser arrived and settled on Lick Creek near the central portion of the township.
Andrew Arney and Peter Speas came in 1822 and located in the Eel River settlement. In 1823-1824, Adam Fiscus sold his property to Winters and moved to the northern part of the township near the village of Middletown. Later a brother in law of Adam, Frederick Fiscus came and settled near the Bethel Church about 1825 and he was the first blacksmith in the township. His brothers, Peter and Henry joined him some time later.
Other early settlers to the Eel River area were; Joseph Cooper and his brother Daniel just prior to 1826 and also about the same time came Jacob Mowry. In addition to these, prior to the year 1830 the following persons became residents of the township: John Hilsabeck, Jonathan Adams, John Fulke, Daniel Moser, G.M. Thatcher and William Price. The first land entry in the township was made by William Rilley in the year 1816 when he obtained a land patent for a portion of Section 36.
During the first few years, all the settlers on Eel River obtained all their marketing from New Albany, more then one hundred miles away. A trip there and back required several days and even longer if the streams were full. Two or three persons would normally make the trip for the whole neighborhood. Most of the wearing apparel was manufactured at home and most of the settlers wore clothing made of deer skins, and the shoes from deer and hog skins that were tanned.
The first mill in the township was erected by Adam Fiscus as early as 1824 and stood near the village of Middletown. It stood for about fifteen years. Another early mill was built by Isaac Hubbell in the southwest corner of the township on Eel River from which it was powered. Aaron Hubbell succeeded his father as proprietor of the mill and built another building and gained newer machinery. This building was destroyed by fire about 1880.
The first steam mill in the township was built about the year 1858 or 1859 by John Curry at Middletown, it also did a good business for about two years and was lost to fire. Mr Littlejohn built a small water mill on Lick Creek and it was successful for a number of years. Many of the early pioneers also engaged in the manufacturing of liquor and a gallon sold for about 15 cents, the price of a bushel of corn. The first distillery was put in operation by Adam Fiscus who brought it from North Carolina. He operated it for about two years and sold it to Eli Dixon who moved it to Greene County.
John Fulke bought a distillery from North Carolina and set it up in the western part of the township and it operated for about twenty years. The largest tanney was started by John Clarke and Jonas Fulke about the year 1858 and stood in the southwest part of the township. This business ran successful until about the year 1878.
Elias Hilsabeck and Henry Littlejohn were the first settlers to erect frame houses on their farms. Hieronymous Speas planted one of the earliest orchards in the township.
The first burial place in Jefferson township was laid out on the land of Henry Arney in the Eel River settlement as early as the year 1822. Among the first persons buried there were Hnery Arney, Mrs. Laurence Arney, Mrs Catherine Hubbell and several children.
The second graveyard was laid out on the Frederick Fiscus land about a half mile from the Bethel Church in the northern part of the township. Here the earliest burial was a child of George Hauser, Mrs. Elijah Moser, Elijah Bass and a child of John Arney.
The Bethel Graveyard was set apart for the dead as early as 1825. Among the first burials were Mrs Spenhoward, Mrs Mary Fulke, Noah Arney and others.
The Littlejohn Graveyard is in the western part of the township on land entered by the Littlejohns. Among the first burials there were Sarah Littlejohn, Isaac Littlejohn, Henry C. Slough and an infant child of Abraham Slough.
Hieronymous Speas and Anna M, daughter of Adam Fiscus were married in 1821. This appears to have been the first marriage in Jefferson township. Jacob Mowry and Elizabeth Fiscus were married a few years later.
The first birth within the township occurred in the family of William Boyles in the year 1821 with a son named Adam. Hiram Speas, son of Hieronymous and Anna M. Speas was born in the year 1824.
This city existed only in the county records and the plat was abandoned many years ago. It was laid out in 1840 and was in the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 28. The plat was surveyed by Henry Slough and consisted of 32 lots, all were about 100 feet deep and 60 feet wide.
Surveyed in the year 1852 and christened Davidsburg, a name it held until 1854 when it was changed to Stockton to correspond with the post office name. It was situated in section 12 and consisted of sixteen lots which were laid out by David Bush and John Ridge. The first store was kept by James Cole. The next merchant was J. J. Hochstetler for about two years. Other merchants there were: Stephen Howland, Isaac Walters, Nathan Hunt, Mr. Bryant, Henry Y. Miller, Miller & Kennedy, Miller & Gard, Gard & Fitro, Joseph and Moses Pearson, the Marley Brothers, Thomas J. Winters, Phillip Faris and Jacob Dodd. Messrs. Stants and Bowen engaged in harness and shoemaking in 1862 and were successful until 1877 at then moved to Coal City. The post office was established in 1854 with J. J. Hochstetler as Postmaster. The office was discontinued in 1879 and a new one established at Coal City.
Situated in the western part of the township on the Cincinnati & Terre Haute Railroad. The original plat was laid out by Henry and Charity Grim in the year 1878 and consisted of 104 lots. John J. Hocstetler's Addition of twenty one lots was made in 1877.
In the year of 1880 Mary J. Grim made the addition of fifty five lots and in 1881 an addition of twenty four lots was made by Elizabeth Hochstetler. In 1868, a business was erected on the site of the town by John Hochstetler who had moved here from Stockton. Railroad work began in 1873 at which time the town site was purchased by Charles D Wilbur and Asa Turner who were connected with the Indiana Block Coal Company, these men platted the town and named it Frazier after the President of the road that was started in 1873. This plat was not recorded and when they were unable to pay for it, the land reverted back to the original owners who had it surveyed.
Among the first settlers in the town were John J Summerlot, Dr. Joseph Hall, David Bolton, Dr. William Garvin and Israel Newport all of whom purchased lots and erected residences shortly after the town was laid out.
Hochstettler, the first merchant sold goods until 1876 at which time an interest was purchased by Mr. Grim. The second store was kept by Summerlot & Sons on the corner of Main and Grim Streets. The first drug store was kept by Robert Shaw. He sold to Dr. H.T. Clarey of Worthington who later sold to John G. Snapp. Daniel Reed kept a dry goods store and Messrs. Powell & Stephens kept a grocery and provision store. Another firm was the Grafe Brothers who took over Mr. Grims store.
Early mechanics in the village were George D Harris and Tobias Cailor and Irwin Smith. A large flouring mill was erected in the year 1882 by Richard Carahoolf & Co. Other organizations included a hotel, a schoolhouse and three religious organizations.
Daggett is a small railroad town situated about one mile southeast of Coal City on the southeast corner of Section 14 and it dates from March 1880. The village was laid out by Charles White and hamed in compliment to Charles Daggett, one of the owner of a large saw mill which gave the place its prominence.The establishment, Daggett & Blinn was one of the most systematic in the state for lumber at that time.
There was one good store in the village kept by S.S. Haviland who was also the Postmaster. The office was established about the year 1876 and named Cody in honor of the first Postmaster, William H. Cody who also kept the first business.