292 - History of Vermillion County Biographical and Historical Record of
Vermillion County, Indiana


Perrysville was laid out in 1826, by James Blair, on a beautiful elevation on the bank of the Wabash River, and named by him in honor of his commander on Lake Erie during the war of 1812, Commodore O. H. Perry. For a long time it was the most populous town in the county, and was an entrepot for a large section of country to the north west and south of it. In commercial importance it was for a number of years far ahead even of Danville, Illinois, a supremacy which was held until the present system of railroads was projected. Since then it has been a dead town, so dead that its very quietness is striking. Even the voice of children on summer evenings, so common in villages elsewhere is scarcely to be heard at their rollicking plays, and the passing days are "one eternal Sabbath." Grass and weeds have overgrown the streets, and the lovely shade-trees continue to do their sweetest duty.

Among the early business men here perhaps J. F. Smith, T. H. Smith, J. N. Jones and Robert D. Moffatt have been the most conspicuous. The old warehouses and grist-mill still used to some extent on the bank of the river, were built and run for many years by Smith & Jones, and are yet owned by the senior partner, J. F. Smith, Mr. Jones having died. The latter also built another grist-mill at the wharf, which was burnt down. March 31, 1884, occurred perhaps the greatest fire that ever visited Perrysville, which entirely consumed the three principal business houses, fine brick structures, two stories high besides basement, the property of the Smith Brothers. The origin of the fire was from the roof of an adjoining building. By this fire the Masonic hall, with its records and paraphernalia, was destroyed.

The Perrysville Woolen Mill was erected in the western part of town a year or two after the war, by Riggs, Head & Co., who furnished the machinery mainly from Coving-

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ton, Indiana, where they had previously been running a similar factory. The Perrysville institution was run until 1881, with only partial success. During the latter year, after the mill had been standing idle a few months, B. O. Carpenter purchased the building and power, and converted it into a flouring-mill of two run of buhrs and a capacity of about seventy or eighty barrels of flour per day of twenty-four hours.

H. S. Comingore & Son's "Perrysville Stove Works," in the southern part of the village is a modern, neat establishment, brick, erected in June, 1884. It comprises two Ls, the foundry being 25 x 110 feet in dimensions and the finishing room 25 x 84. This firm started in business in Perrysville in 1858, in a small frame building a little to the northwest of their present place; it has recently been torn down and removed.

A young, ambitious little institution is the Perrysville Creamery, on the bank of the river. Capacity of the works, about 2,000 pounds of butter per week. E. A. Lucey, secretary of the company, is the superintendent. J. F. Compton is president and treasurer.

Perrysville has been an incorporated town. The first municipal election was held January 15, 1881, when the following were elected trustees: First Ward, William Collins; Second Ward, John R. McNeill; Third Ward, Samuel Shaner. W. M. Benefiel was elected Clerk; Rezin Metzger, Assessor; Lewis A. Morgan, Treasurer; and Peter S. Moudy, Marshal. Mr. Shaner was elected President. J. F. Smith was the next president of the board. Mr. Morgan resigned his office as treasurer and Mr. Benefiel was appointed in his place, still retaining the clerkship. The third president was Lewis Morgan, when John T. Lowe was elected clerk and treasurer.

In the fall of 1884 the question whether the corporate capacity of the place should be continued was submitted to a vote of the citizens, and was decided in the negative by a small majority. Under the corporate government the streets were macadamized, the poll tax for the village being kept within its limits, and an additional tax raised. Also a calaboose was built. A town board of education managed the school affairs.

That fine, large brick school-house in the southern part of town was erected in 1862, when Thomas Cushman was trustee. In the basement are three rooms, on the first floor four, besides the hall, and on the second floor four. The belfry tower contains also a room thirty feet square. The school is graded, and is taught by six or seven teachers. Enrollment, about 170; average attendance, about 130 or 140. G. W. Dealand, who has been the popular principal for the last four years, was elected county superintendent of schools on the first Monday of June, 1887.


As before stated, the first newspaper printed in Vermillion County was the News-Letter, at Eugene, in 1837, which continued but six months. Mr. R. B. Dickason, of this place, worked on the paper. The office was purchased by J. R. Jones and moved to Perrysville the same year, where he published the Perrysville Banner. About two years afterward Clapp & Roney had the paper, when it was called the Vermillion Register. Next it was the Perrysville Republican, with Austin Bishop as editor and proprietor. Then Mr. Dickason published here the Perrysville Eagle, 1852-'55, which he sold to Mr. Robinson, and he to Benjamin Snodgrass, who finally let it die; and that was the last of the newspaper business in Perrysville, although several attempts to establish other journals have been made. These papers were