History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, Volume 1

History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, Volume 1 – Berry Robinson Sulgrove

In a history mainly composed of the incidents that indicate the growth of a community, and the direction and character of it, where few are important enough to require an extended narration, and the remainder afford little material, it is not easy to construct a continuous narrative, or to so connect the unrelated points as to prevent the work taking on the aspect of a pretentious directory. In this case, however, the author presents us an almost perfect history of the town of Indianapolis, including all townships, and Marion County, Indiana. This is volume one out of two.

History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, Volume 1

History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, Volume 1.

Format: eBook.

History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, Volume 1

ISBN: 9783849660505.


Excerpt from the text:

Marion County, in which is the city of Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana, occupies a central position in the State (as is mentioned more particularly hereafter), and is bounded on the north by the counties of Boone and Hamilton, on the east by Hancock and Shelby, on the south by Morgan and Johnson, and on the west by Hendricks County. Its shape would be almost an exact square but for an inaccuracy in the government survey, which makes a projection of four miles or sections in length by about three-fourths of a mile in width at the northeast corner into the adjoining county of Hancock, with a recess on the opposite side of equal length, and about one-fourth of the width, occupied by a similar projection from Hendricks County. The civil townships of the county follow the lines of the Congressional townships in direction, except at the division of the townships of Decatur and Perry, which follows the line of White River, taking off a considerable area of the former and adding it to the latter township. The area of the county is about two hundred and sixty thousand acres

Topography and General Features. — Indianapolis, which is the county-seat of Marion as well as the State capital, lies in latitude 39° 55′, longitude 86° 5′, very nearly in the center of the State and county. Mr. Samuel Merrill makes it two miles northwest of the center of the State, and one mile southwest of the center of the county. Professor R. T. Brown’s Official Survey, in the ” State Geologist’s Report,” regards the entire county as part of a great plain, nowhere, however, actually level over any considerable areas, with an average elevation above low water in the river of about one hundred and seventy-five feet, and of eight hundred and sixty above the sea-level. Occasional elevations run to more than two hundred feet above the river-level, and probably to nine hundred above the sea. The West Fork of White River, running for twenty-two miles in a very tortuous course twenty degrees east of north and west of south, divides the county unequally, the western fraction being little more than half as large as the eastern, or one-third of the whole area. The river valley varies from one to four miles in width, presenting a bluff on the west side of fifty to two hundred feet through most of its extent, and on the east side a gentle slope. Where the bluff comes up to the water on one side the ” bottom” recedes on the other, sometimes swampy, and frequently cut up by ” bayous” or supplementary outlets for freshets. The current is on the bluff side, usually deep, swift, and clear. Occasionally the low “bottom” land comes up to the water on both banks, but not frequently. There are many gentle slopes and small elevations in and around the city, but nothing that deserves the name of hill, except ” Crown Hill,” at the cemetery north of the city, and one or two smaller protuberances a mile or two south. All the streams that drain this undulating plain flow in a general southwesterly direction on the east side of the river, and southeasterly on the west side, proving, as the first secretary of the State Board of Health says, that Indianapolis lies in a basin, the grade higher on all sides than is the site of the city, except where the river makes its exit from the southwest

Subordinate Valleys. — Dr. Brown says that ” the glacial action, which left a heavy deposit of transported material over the whole surface of the county, has at the same time plowed out several broad valleys of erosion, which appear to be tributary to the White River Valley.” The most conspicuous of these comes down from the northeast, between Fall Creek and White River, is about a mile wide at the lower end, narrowing to the northeast for six or seven miles, and disappearing near the northern line of the county. The grinding force has cut away the surface clay, and in places filled the holes with gravel and coarse sand. South of the city and east of the river are two other valleys of the same kind. One, about a mile wide, extends from White River, a little north of Glenn’s Valley, about five miles to the northeast, with well-defined margins composed of gravel terraces. The other lies chiefly in the county south of Marion, and between it and the first-mentioned is a ridge called Poplar Hill, composed of sand and gravel on a bed of blue clay. West of the river there is but one of these valleys. It begins in Morgan County, and running a little north of east enters Marion County, passing between West Newton and Valley Mills, and connecting with White River Valley near the mouth of Dollarhide Creek. A water-shed between the tributaries of the West Fork of White River and the East Fork, or Driftwood, enters the county two miles from the southeast corner, passing nearly north about twelve miles, makes an eastward bend and passes out of the county. Unlike water-sheds generally, this one is not a ridge or considerable elevation, but a marshy region overflowed in heavy rains, when it is likely enough the overflow runs into either river as chance or the wind directs it. These swampy sections lying high are readily drained, and make excellent farming land

Streams. — Except Eagle Creek and its affluents, there are no considerable streams entering the river in the county on the west side. There are Crooked Creek north of Eagle, and Dollarhide Creek south, and several still smaller and unnamed, except for neighborhood convenience, but they are little more than wet weather ” branches,” or drains of swampy sections. Dr. Brown explains this paucity of watercourses by the fact that a large stream called White Lick rises northwest, flows along, partly in Hendricks and partly in Marion Counties, parallel with the course of the river, and enters the latter in Morgan County, thus cutting off the eastward course of minor streams by receiving their waters itself On the east side of the river, which contains nearly two-thirds of the area of the county, a considerable stream called Grass Creek runs almost directly south for a dozen or more miles very near the eastern border of the county, and finally finds its way into the East Fork. It has a half-dozen or more little tributaries, as Buck Creek, Panther Run, Indian Creek, Big Run, Wild Cat and Doe Creek. Of the east side streams tributary to the West Fork of White River — far better known as White River than the short course of the combined East and West Forks to the Wabash — Fall Creek is much the most considerable. Except it, but a single small stream called Dry Run enters the river north of the city. Fall Creek enters the county very near the northeast corner, and flowing almost southwesterly enters the river now near the northwest corner of the city. It formerly entered west of the center of the city, but a ” cut-off” was made nearly a mile or more farther north for hygienic and economic reasons, and the mouth has thus been shifted considerably. The main tributaries of Fall Creek are Mud Creek on the north, and North Fork, Middle Fork, Dry Branch, and Indian Creek east and south. The duplication of names of streams will be observed. There are two Buck Creeks, two Dry, two Lick (one White), two Indian, and two Eagle Creeks in the county. As few of these names are suggested by any special feature of the stream or country, except Fall Creek, which is named from the falls at Pendleton, and Mud and Dry Creeks, the duplication may be set down to the whims of the pioneers. South of the city, on the east side of the river, the streams flowing directly into the river are Pogue’s Creek, passing directly through the city; Pleasant Run, mainly east and south, but cutting into the southeast corner of the city (Bean Creek is tributary to the latter), Lick Creek, and Buck Creek

Bottom Lands. — The valley of White River, says the Official Survey, is divided into alluvium or bottom land proper and the terrace or second bottom. In that portion of the valley that lies north of the mouth of Eagle Creek it consists chiefly of second bottom, while the first bottom largely predominates in the southern portion. Much of this latter is subject to overflow in times of freshets, so that while the soil is exceedingly fertile and easy of cultivation a crop is never safe. Levees have been made for considerable distances below the city, on the river and on some of the larger creeks, to remedy the mischief of overflows, but, the Survey says, with only partial success. The primary difficulty is the tortuous courses of the streams, and of the river particularly, that runs a distance of sixteen miles to the lower county line, which is but nine in a straight line. This not only diminishes the fall per mile, but the water, moving in curves and reversed curves, loses its momentum, the current becomes sluggish, and when freshets come the accumulation overflows the low banks, and covers large districts of cultivable and cultivated land, to the frequent serious injury of crops, and the occasional destruction of crops, fences, and stock. A straightened channel would increase the fall and the strength of the current, and in the sandy formation of the beds of most of the streams would soon cut a way deep enough to secure the larger part of the land against overflow. This would be cheaper than making levees along a crooked course that required two miles of work to protect one of direct length, but it would have to be carried out by a concert of action on the part of riparian proprietors, which would be hard to effect, and it would also divide a good many farms that are now bounded by original lines of survey terminating at the river, which was made a navigable stream by law but not by nature. Changing the bed would confuse the numbers of sections, and possibly disturb some land titles. This objection is presented to this policy in Professor Brown’s Survey, but an act of the Legislature might open a way for concerted action, and provide against the confusion of lines and disturbance of rights

Flora. — The central region of Indiana was a favorite hunting-ground of the Indian tribes that sold it in 1818. Its woods and waters were unusually full of game. There were no prairies of any extent and not many swamps. The entire surface was densely covered with trees. On the uplands, which were dry and rolling, the sugar, white and blue ash, black walnut, white walnut or butternut, white oak, red beech, poplar, wild cherry prevailed; on the more level uplands were bur-oak, white elm, hickory, white beech, water ash, soft maple, and others; on the first and second bottoms, sycamore, buckeye, black walnut, blue ash, hackberry, and mulberry. Grapevines, bearing abundantly the small, pulpless acid fruit called ” coon” grapes, grew profusely in the bottoms, covering the largest trees, and furnishing more than ample stores for the preserves and pies of the pioneer women. Under all these larger growths, especially in the bottoms, there were dense crops of weeds, among which grew equally dense thickets of spice-brush, — the backwoods substitute for tea, — papaw, wahoo, wild plum, hazel, sassafras, red and black haw, leatherwood, prickly ash, red-bud, dogwood, and others. The chief weed growths, says Professor Brown, were nettles and pea-vines matted together, but with these were Indian turnip, — the most acrid vegetable on earth probably, — ginseng, cohosh, lobelia, and, in later days, perfect forests of iron-weeds. There are a good many small remains of these primeval forests scattered through the county, with here and there patches of the undergrowth, and not a few nut-trees, walnut, hickory, and butternut, but the hazel, the spice-wood, the sassafras, the plum and black haw and papaw are never seen anywhere near the city, and not frequently anywhere in the county. The Indian turnip is occasionally found, but ginseng has disappeared as completely as the mound-builders, though in the last generation it was an article of considerable commercial importance

Fauna. — The principal animals in these primeval woods were the common black bear, the black and gray wolf, the buffalo, deer, raccoon, opossum, fox, gray and red squirrels, rabbits, mink, weasel, of land quadrupeds; of the water, otter, beaver, muskrat; of birds, the wild turkey, wild goose, wild duck, wild pigeon, pheasant, quail, dove, and all the train of wood birds which the English sparrow has so largely driven off, — the robin, bluebird, jaybird, woodpecker, tomtit, sap-sucker, snowbird, thrush. For twenty years or more laws have protected the game birds, and there is said to be a marked increase of quail in the last decade, but there is hardly any other kind of game bird, unless it be an occasional wild pigeon, snipe, or wild duck. Buzzards, hawks, crows, owls, blackbirds are not frequently seen now near the city, though they were all abundant once. Flocks of blackbirds and wild pigeons occasionally pass along, but not numerously enough to attract the hunter. In fact, there is very little worth hunting in the county, except rabbits, quail, and remote squirrels. For fish the game varieties are almost wholly confined to the bass and red-eye. Water scavengers like the ” cat” and ” sucker” are thick and big in the off-flow of the city pork-houses, and in the season form no inconsiderable portion of the flesh-food of the class that will fish for them, but game fish must be sought for from five to ten miles from the city. In early days, and for the first twenty-five years of the existence of the city, the river and its larger affluents supplied ample provision of excellent fish, — bass, pike, buffalo, redeye, salmon rarely, and the cleaner class of inferior fish, as “red-horse,” suckers, cats, eels; but the improvidence of pioneers, who never believed that any natural supply of food could fail, and the habits acquired from them, particularly the destructiveness of seining, has reduced the food population of streams till it needs stringent laws, and the vigilance of associations formed to enforce the laws, to prevent total extirpation. Even with these supports it will take careful and prolonged efforts at restocking to reproduce anything like the former abundance

Mineral Springs. — Although they form no conspicuous feature of the topography of the county, and have never been used medicinally, except by the neighbors, it may be well to note that there are a few springs of a mineral and hygienic character in the county, where the underground currents of water rise through crevices in the overlying bed of clay. One of these, called the Minnewa Springs, in Lawrence township, a mile and a half northeast of the little town of Lawrence, was talked of at one time as capable of being made a favorite resort, and some steps were taken in that direction, but nothing came of them. Another very like it is within a half-mile of the same town. Southwest of the city is one on the farm of an old settler that has been famous in the neighborhood as a ” sulphur spring” for fifty years. A couple of miles nearer the city is another on the farm of Fielding Beeler, which Professor Brown says is the largest in the county. ” It forms a wet prairie or marsh of several acres, from which by ditching a large stream of water is made to flow.” The water of all these springs contains iron enough to be readily tasted, and to stain the vessels that are used in it, and this peculiarity gives it the misname of sulphur water

Swamps. — There were once considerable areas of marshy land, or land kept wet by the overflow of adjacent streams, but many of these have been entirely drained, and considerable portions of others larger and less convenient for drainage. With them have measurably disappeared the malarial diseases that in the first settlement of the city, and for a good many years after, came back as regularly as the seasons. There is not, probably, a single acre of land in the county that is not cultivable or capable of being made so. Between three and four miles southwest of city lay a swampy tract, nearly a mile long by a quarter or more wide, entirely destitute of trees, which was long known in the vicinity as ” the prairie,” the only approach to a prairie in the county



Dieser Beitrag wurde unter American History (English), Indiana veröffentlicht. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink.

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht.