Loogootee Stories
As Published in Footprints of Martin County 2007
Courtesy of Cathy Clark Beard

A Little About Loogootee...
By Carlos T. McCarty
13 June 1929
Volume LX1X No. 41

 On April fourth, 1853, Thomas Gootee signed his name to a plat of town, lots which he designated as the town of Loogootee. It is said the name was derived by combining the name of a civil engineer, one Mr. Loo, who was in charge of construction work on the Ohio and Mississippi railway, with that of Mr. Gootee, thus forming a town name, the pronunciation of which causes much tongue twisting and despair to those who are not familiar with it. There is one other town of similar name. It is located in Fayette county, Illinois and was probably named after the original Martin county town. When Mr. Gootee laid off the town plat he evidently did not have much expectation of a considerable city arising on his acres for he only platted thirty-four lots. They were just north of the railway and in the southeast quarter of the section. The building occupied by the Loogootee telephone exchange is at the south west corner of this original plat and McGovren's office just north of it is at the northwest corner. But Loogootee was destined to grow and continue growing until since the original town was laid off there have been thirty distinct and separate additions platted to it. This is a rather unusual record for a city of that size. And it causes some confusion in real estate titles as nearly all the additions have lots commencing with number one and continuing on in regular rotation. Thomas Gootee himself laid off three or four additions but he continued the numbers from his original plat so that now it is frequently considered that any lot platted by Thomas Gootee is the original town and does not need in conveyance any especial designation showing it to be in one of his several additions. But with thirty four lots originally, thirty additions since, and a great number of unplatted pieces of real estate within the city limits the matter of real estate titles in Loogootee is somewhat complicated.

For some reason or other the business center of the town did not long remain on the original plat, and while there are a few business houses on these lots the people who later built the town seemed to prefer locating their establishments west of the half mile line dividing the section into east and west halves and so the most valuable property in Loogootee is found in the Crays, Keck and Campbell and Breen additions. The principal business is transacted in the Crays and Keck additions. The improvements there are of much value and the buildings substantial and well located. This particular part of Loogootee has a rather odd history. It seems that the original owners thought little of their property. The southwest quarter of section twenty-four township three north range, five west, on which this particular section of the city is located, was entered from the United States by Solomon Stewart on the ninth day of November 1818. Stewart, evidently thought very little of his one hundred sixty acre tract of land for he apparently abandoned it as not worth paying tax on and seven years after he had taken it from the government he let the tax go delinquent.

 In 1825 and 1826 the tax was not paid, so on the thirteenth day of November, 1826 Sanford Brown, who was collector of revenue for Martin county (an office which corresponds somewhat to that of county treasurer of the present day) sold the land for the delinquent tax to Lewis Brooks. There was other land also included in this sale and Mr. Brooks certainly secured a bargain, for the whole tract only cost him eleven dollars and eighty one cents. But he did not seem very enthusiastic about his bargain for he waited more than three years, until January 12, 1830 before he took out his deed therefor. The deed was executed by Julius Johnson, who had succeeded Sanford Brown as revenues collector. In October, 1832 Brooks evidently saw a chance to speculate a little for on the twenty-ninth of that month he sold to William L. Crays the east eighty acres, but cannly [sic] he only made him a quit claim deed. From this title comes down the whole of the heart of Loogootee. Land now that is worth hundreds of dollars for a few square feet sold one hundred three years ago for less than twelve dollars for a whole one hundred sixty acre tract, with several extra acres thrown in for good measure.

 So when Loogootee citizens hear people talk of how much money could have been made by the purchase of this or that city, they may well shake their heads and suggest that it is not necessary to go away from home to find out instances of that kind for the very cream of their own city sold only a century ago for about a ten dollar bill.

Where Did the "Loo" in Loogootee Come From?

 One historian believes the first name chosen was Waterloo, but when the application was made for a post office it was discovered that there was already a town incorporated by that name in Indiana. It is known that Gootee was of French descent and was probably an admirer of Napoleon, whose smaller army was defeated at Waterloo in 1815. The thought was, Loogootee was finally obtained by adding the last syllable of Waterloo (Loo) to Gootee.

 Another historian assumes the name was derived by combining the name of an engineer, Lowe, who surveyed the right-of- way for the railroad. Others claim the town was named for two settlers - Gootee, who owned the land and DeLoo, surveyor of the tract. They agreed to drop "De" and use the rest of their names to arrive at Loogootee.

 A genealogist of the Gootee family wrote that Loo was derived from the first syllable of  Gootee's wife name, Lucinda. Regardless of how the town's name originated it has always been a "tongue twister" of sorts to persons without any knowledge of how the name is pronounced,  "low-go- tee." They always say, "That is not grammatically correct!" Even so.........That is the way we say it in good ole' Martin County!

 Information taken from Martin County History, Vol II, written by Harry Q. Holt.

Early Day Loogootee
By Carlos T. McCarty

 Joe Cannon was in town Saturday. Joe lives at Loogootee, and is probably the oldest native born person in Martin county. It was in 1844 that he opened his eyes to the light of day, in Perry township, and the greater portion of his life has been spent as a resident of either Perry or Center townships. After all the fact of there being two townships in which he has lived does not mean much, for originally the territory now occupied by Center and Perry townships was all one township under the name of Perry. Then, many years ago one of those periodical railroad booms which used to effect southern Indiana developed. A new north and south railway was planned through the county. It was desired by the promoters that the townships through which it might pass pay a subsidy. The railroad was to pass through the extreme western part of the township, almost on the line of the new state highway through there; taxpayers owning real estate and property in the eastern part of the large township rebelled and organized Center township. And as finale to the whole matter the railroad was never constructed, but the breach between the two sections was not healed. Joe is in excellent health and bids fair to pass the century mark. He has served the people of the county as sheriff and as treasurer and has had other official positions. His first remembrance he says, goes back to 1849 in which year his two grandfathers died.

 Joe says when he was about eight years old, which would make the date 1852, he made a trip to the present site of Loogootee. He is not positive as to the exact year, but a difference of a few years means little that far back. The occasion of his going was a convention. Useless to say it was a democratic convention, for Joe comes of old democratic stock. The meeting was held in the woods located about where the Modern Woodman building has stood for many years. The timber was largely heavy, tall, straight water oaks. At the foot of one of the trees Thomas Gootee sat with his hat in his hand to receive ballots. The attendance was ample to hold a convention, but not so very large after all, as only fifteen votes dropped into the hat. One of them was the vote of Joe's father. There were three candidates for sheriff, Andrew Demoss, John A. Padgett and Alexander Shircliff. There was some dispute at the convention which was to select delegates to the county convention, and a breach resulted which never was healed. That was the first year, so Joe says, that the party opposed to that of his father elected a ticket. One of the candidates, John A. Padgett, afterward was elected sheriff. That was in 1884 and his was the most strenuous experience a Martin county sheriff ever had, as it included a lynching and an execution on the scaffold, these occurring in 1886.

 The first visit Joe remembers making to Loogootee was shortly after the town was laid out.  There was a highway passing from Mt. Pleasant to Bloomfield and is still a street in eastern Loogootee. The only other way to travel passed over what is now North street, running west from the Bloomfield road and when it reached the present Line street it turned south and ended about the present railway crossing. This hardly deserved the name of street, for it was just an open way cut through the timber and brush with the brush piled to each side. It was a business street though for at the south end John Wood had a little store, about where the present Larkin 
store is situated. John and Simpson Padgett had a saloon; and there was another saloon on its course owned by Drum and Cissell, These were all the important business firms of the new town of Loogootee. Joe remembers the first railway train which came into Loogootee. He says it was on July 4th, 1857. It came in from the west, the western end of the road being completed before the eastern end. It was a big day, just seventy-five years ago. Much water has passed by the mill since then, and it seems almost strange that a person who can remember so distinctly the situation of that early day, has lived through all the vicissitudes since then and is still hale and hearty, regardless of his service for his country on Southern battle fields during the days of the rebellion. There are others in the county of about the same age, but there are few, if any, who have grown up in the county from birth to the present day. Some came here when quite small. Their stories, all of them, are interesting and valuable. They are a link between the past and present. The change in the next four generations will probably be greater, but not more important

 Editor's note: Martin County citizen, Carlos T. McCarty, was a lawyer, historian, and journalist who wrote many articles for the Martin County Tribune.