A History of Waveland - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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A History of Waveland

"A History of Waveland."
-- (continued several weeks by Mrs. C. A. (Victoria) Kleiser).

Source: Waveland Independent March 1941

The following history of Waveland was written and compiled by Mrs. CA [Victoria] Kleiser and read before the Department Club. The club members were unanimous in requesting the Independent print it. And it is worth much to all to review what has gone before. To new people it presents much they do not know and to the older citizens it is good for reminiscence. They can say "I remember," and it will recall many other things that time did not permit Mrs. Kleiser to go into. To learn something of the beginning of our little town we must turn back many, many pages of history, for it is now over 100 years old. Our forefathers, who first settled in this section of Indiana and especially Brown Township, came from Ky, many by wagon or horseback through unbroken trails. Stamina, courage and undaunted faith in the future characterized those staunch young men and women, who blazed the trail through dense forest to establish the civilization that we cherish today. Boundless have been the steps of progress through the last hundred years and little did they realize that they were creating and leaving to their posterity the heritage that we now enjoy. Waveland, the oldest town in Brown Twp. Occupies the very SW point of Montgomery County as well as of the township, lying only 2 miles from the West line and ½ mile from the South boundary. It is equally distant from Crawfordsville and Rockville, as well as from Lafayette and Terre Haute. Its location on a ridge overlooking Little Raccoon Creek on the North and Walker's Run Stream on the South affords it a wonderful natural drainage. Its long streets with their beautiful old shade trees and the pride with which most of its home owners keep their property, make it a very attractive place, particularly in the spring and summer seasons. We may justly be proud of our stores, also as they are above the average for so small a village. The land upon which the town was originally laid out was entered before 1830 by Hiram Heddleson, who sold it to Mr. Morgan who then transferred it to Mr. John Milligan in 1834. This Mr. Milligan, by the way was the father of the late Mr. Will Milligan, "Uncle Sam" Milligan and several other children; and the Grandfather of Clarence and Elton Milligan and Mrs. Charles Taylor, and Great Grandfather of the McNutt boys, who all reside here at this time. He, when I was a very young girl, was a man of many years, and was familiarly known and called "Uncle Johnny" by everyone. The same year in which he made the purchase, 1834, he cut the first opening into the forest, on the ground now occupied by Waveland and built a small storeroom which was the first building on the ground of the town plot, located on the corner of Cross and Green Streets. Since 1830 he had been selling goods in a small room which was about ¾ mile northeast of Waveland's present site on the old state road. In 1835 he laid out town lots; and on Christmas Day the first lot was sold at auction. Mr. Milligan gave the name of the neighborhood post office to the new town - Waveland - in honor of a Kentucky Gentleman's home. As long as 'Uncle Johnny" lived, he was an influential citizen and a strong pillar in the Presbyterian Church. Being a lame man it was his custom to always ride everywhere on horseback. His bald face sorrel horse identified him from a long distance. Having a number of rentals, he would ride around to them and bellow Hello! expecting the renter to come out and settle the rent bill without his having to dismount. There was no evading the payment. About this time, 1835 or 1836, some opposition arose in the neighborhood east of the town, so the citizens were summoned to a meeting to take a vote to establish a township town. This gathering was at the home of Benjamin Smith at Fairview, which was located just this side of what we know as Pine Grove. Mr. Briles Milligan later lived there and will be remembered by some. This house is now occupied by Mr. Thompson. Three locations were voted on - Browns Valley; Fairview; and Waveland. Fairview received the most votes and a good many lots were sold. So the town started off with a blacksmith, a store and a doggery, all of which later disappeared with no trace of a town left. Nevertheless, Waveland continued to grow with now and then a new business house and dwellings being added. The town has received four additions since the original plotting. Waveland Post office was removed to the town soon after the first plotting with Mr. Milligan serving as first Post Master for a number of years.

Part II - March 20, 1941 - Dr. James CUMMINGS was the first to represent the medical profession in the new town. Before any hotels or inns existed, hospitable citizens opened their homes to travelers. The mails were carried by stage or pony express. The first hotel was erected by Andrew Harris on the site of the late CUPPY Hotel, now owned and occupied by the Baptist Church. A few years later another large house was built by Epperson DREW on High Street, which served for a long time as a boarding house and at last became an eye sore to the town. Mrs. J. M. GHORMLEY (who then did a great deal for the town by buying the old structures and replacing them with new) bought the run down building and constructed on the same grounds the houses now occupied by the Huber Smith and Clarence Overstreet. Still another hotel had been built on the location of Mr. Slaven's home. This burned many, many years ago and the unsightly spot remained so for a long time, till Mr. George SEYBOLD built the present house. Almost before the town came into existence, citizens of varying denominational beliefs began in small numbers to organize themselves into Church groups. The first Methodist Episcopal minister that preached in Brown Twp was probably Rev. ALEXANDER who was a circuit rider, who with saddle bags on horse back, pushed into the wilderness preaching in log cabins in the forest shade. With him appeared Rev. William SMITH who rode east and south to White River. The first Methodist Society organized in this community was at the home of Mrs. Preston McCORMICK, two miles north where Wilbur SPENCER lives, the old homestead. There were only a few members to start with but several were added. Shortly another Society was started at Mr. Thomas HANNA's (known as Uncle Tommy) log cabin. He was the late George Hannah's father who lived south of town. These two Societies soon united. The first Methodist Church building was erected in 1842. It was displaced by the present brick structure, which was dedicated in 1869. The Methodist Church celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1927. The Presbyterian Church was organized Nov 28, 1828 at the home of John STUBBINS near the present site of Browns Valley by 7 people. It was first named Providence Presbyterian and later named Waveland Presbyterian. The membership grew slowly but steadily. In 1831 the trustees of the Church were authorized to buy a lot and build a Church. It was built of hewn logs and located on the bluff of Little Raccoon Creek. In 1833 the house was removed to the present site of the Presbyterian Cemetery, where it was used later, for a time as a school room. The Church then built a new frame Church near the cemetery, where they worshipped then built a new frame Church near the cemetery, where they worshiped till the present brick house was erected in 1861. The bricks for this new building were made and kiln dried on the lots due east of the Church. A Sabbath School has been maintained in this Church since 1832. Even two years previous to that, a Sabbath School was conducted in the home of my Great Grandfather, John BRUSH by his son, Blakely Brush and a son-in-law, Preston McCormick. This was probably the first Sunday School in Brown Township. Many ministers have served both Methodist and Presbyterian Churches which always worked congenially together. Some noteworthy union revivals have been conducted when the whole community had been aroused and many new members added to the Church rolls. In 1867 the present Christian Church was formed by the union of Antioch Church located about ½ mile east on the old state road and Bank Springs Church of Parke County. The Antioch (same building was moved to Waveland to the South side of West Main Street) was a one-room building with a very much elevated floor. Our same Mr. Ghormley bought it after its many years of service as a Church, tore it down and constructed three dwelling houses, one of which later burned, the other two are now occupied by Mr. ADAMS and Mr. Richardson. The Church group purchased the present site and built a nice new brick Church a credit to the town in 1890.

In 1896, because some members of the Freedom Baptist Church felt the need of a Baptist organization in Waveland, a number, about 16 withdrew from that Church and started one in Waveland. They built a house of worship on the lot which Mr. and Mrs. Bowman now live and purchased a parsonage. After 39 years it became necessary for them to disband in 1923. Most of the members placed their letters with other Churches in the town where they were sincerely welcomed and where they have proven most acceptable and helpful communicants. Their Church property was sold. The Church was removed. The early schools of the town were necessarily very primitive - the days when "Readin' and Ritin and Rithmetic" were considered quite sufficient schooling. The school sessions were very short, often only 3 or 4 months. School was held in a one room house at the west end of Main Street where Fred Rice now lives. And another one room building stood on the south west corner of our present school grounds. Perhaps some of you recall the popular entertainment, The Old Deestrict "School" presented by some of the older citizens, portraying the school and styles of dress in their childhood days. It was decidedly comical, so very different from the schools of later years after the grading system was instituted. In 1847 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church recommended that the Presbyteries of Indiana establish in each presbytery, an academy for higher and better education than was furnished by the state. In accordance, the session of the Waveland Church met and decided to make an effort to start such a school. But Crawfordsville Presbytery, in the same year made the same kind of a decision so a committee was appointed by the Presbytery to receive bids for a location for such a school. This committee reported in favor of the Waveland Church which had proposed to erect a good and substantial building, such as the Presbytery might desire at a cost of $1200.00. This proposition was accepted, the building was completed and the school fully organized by 1849 and was known as the Waveland Academy. The first principal was Rev. Samuel Taylor, pastor of the Waveland Church. He was succeeded by Rev L. K. Leak who resigned in 1852. That fall John M. Coyner and my father, Henry S. Kritz, became associate principals. These young men, fresh from college, adopted new and enlarged courses of study and improved the methods of reciting and debating, and soon extended the reputation of the school so that within a short time it was drawing students from 10 different states.

This academic course continued until 1859 when it was deemed advisable to change the course to accommodate students who had neither time nor means for a full college course, to one which embraced most of the branches usually taught in the scientific course of colleges, whereby many would be induced to enter school, attend more regularly, and extend their studies much further than they otherwise would do. Accordingly, the name of the school was changed to Waveland Collegiate Institute, by the Presbytery, and a new Charter was issued it, authorizing the Board of Trustees to confer appropriate degrees on those completing the scientific course, but continuing the classical course which still prepared students to enter the Junior year in College. This change proved highly satisfactory to those wishing to prepare for business or teaching and indeed for the more learned professions. Attendance was increased and the quality of work much improved. Those were the golden days of the school, excepting the 4 years of the terrible Civil War when its work was almost suspended when so many had gone to serve their country. The present Principal has been connected with the Institute for 13 years during which period it has been in a highly prosperous condition with the exception of the four years of terrible civil war which so seriously affected the educational interests of the whole country. Since the close of the war its former prosperity has revived and its prospects were never more helpful than at present. "Its graduates and former pupils as ministers, lawyers, physicians, professional teachers, merchants, mechanics and farmers now adorn all the walks of civil life, and few Institutions can boast a larger or nobler Roll Of Honor in the late tremendous struggle for the preservation of the government. During the 17 years of its existence, nearly a 1000 pupils have received their education, wholly or in part within its walls and are now abroad in the world exerting their influence upon society. From the first the School has been blessed with frequent and extensive revivals of religion, during which many precious youths have been gathered, we trust in to the fold of Christ, and quite a number have been led to devote themselves to the gospel ministry. Where else in all the land has a greater work for the Church and for the world been accomplished at a total expenditure for buildings and other facilities of less than $5,000." The years between the war and 1870 were most prosperous. The work done in classes, and literary societies was of the highest order, but with the adoption of the free school system by the state, its usefulness began to wane when high schools were established in every city, town and many villages, thus cutting down its patronage. It struggled on for another 10 years, when it had to submit to the inevitable. Its last year 1877-78 was taught in the school building which preceded our present one on the same sight.

I wish to add that Mr. T. C. Steele, one of Indiana's noted artists, at one time, taught drawing and painting in the Collegiate Institute as well as having attended as a student. The large painting adorning our Library wall is a gift from his collection. The building which accommodated the Waveland Academy at first, was the four large front rooms of the Kritz residence. In 1860 a new school building was erected on adjoining grounds. Prof. Kritz added a number of rooms to the first building and roomed and boarded the young women students. This school building, many years afterward when it has been discarded for school purposes, was moved away to another part of town and finally torn down. After from 38 to 63 years had elapsed since the old students had been together it was decided to hold a reunion in 1911 for 3 days, back at the old scenes of their school days. Let me say, that many years ago, large numbers of young men and maidens were students at Waveland Collegiate Institute, among whom, after having spent months and even years together, the warmest and most lasting friendships were enkindled. Time and duty separated them and they became scattered over the face of the whole country, engaging in various walks and avocations of life, some entering the Gospel Ministry, some the legal profession, some that of medicine; some of teaching; some the avocation of farming; merchandising, in fact, pretty nearly all the various occupations and activities of life. They were almost lost to one another. True to the inevitable, the passing busy years and the galling cares and responsibilities of life did their work; while age admonished them that they had already gone over the meridian of life's usefulness, which naturally turned their minds back to the scenes of early life, and to their boyhood days, so joyously spent at that old Institution of learning.

April 10th - The longing desire of seeing one another once more seemed to become prevalent, which brought about an extended correspondence, resulting in a fixed determination to hold a reunion at an early date and rekindle the smoldering fires of those early friendships that had burned so brightly in the long gone by days of good auld lang sine. After fixing the date, Sept 14 to 17, 1911 a local committee was appointed to arrange for the music and order of exercises, composed of Rev. F. B. Solin, the pastor of the Waveland Presbyterian Church, the choir leader, Organist and violinist. The fact of the coming reunion, being now settled, the whole village seemed to enter most heartily into the matter of making that meeting a complete success from every standpoint; meetings were held; committees for various duties were appointed, all of whom entered enthusiastically into the work assigned them, culminating in one of the most cordial and heart touching home comings that could by any possibility, be extended from old time friends to those endeared to them by the ties of early friendships. These unexpected tokens of genius regard and loving welcome touched every heart and all these old students, without exception, set this reunion down as one of the brightest spots in all their lives and one that will ever live and go with them during the remainder of their days, be they long or short. Before proceeding to give you an extended narrative of the actions and proceedings of this delightful meeting, and in order to give you a more perfect understanding of its boundless import, we wish to embody a historical sketch of the Old institution, which, by request has been generously compiled by our venerable and dearly loved Professor Henry S. Kritz, who has now reached the towering heights of 87 years of age but is still vigorous in mind and possessed of that same tender affection for his old students that was so lovingly manifested when we, as learners sat at his feet, more than 50 years ago. So you can understand why so deep and lasting an imprint on this community, which has always stood as an intelligent, law abiding and prosperous people. After the closing of the Collegiate Institute, the old building was utilized for many years by the town common school. My career began in it. About 1880 the new brick school building just preceding the present building marked a great departure with its 8 rooms, signifying the growth of population as well as educational facilities of the town. About this period, the system of grading was started. The school was operated by a School Board which continued until 1911 when it became a township school entity. The last school board was CA Kleizer; Dr.. T. Z. Ball; Charles S. Kritz with Irving Fullenwider township trustee, representing the township's one third interest in the Waveland School. In 1912 the school building having been condemned in certain respects by the State Board of health was replaced by the present new and larger, finer and most modernly equipped building, with the lovely new gymnasium added to recent year - 1937. The pride of the town was boosted in 1873 when its first railroad, the Vandalia was constructed through here. They felt that they were really "on the map." With the first prosperity of railroads it did not seem possible that the time would come when local traffic would cease to be a paying proposition. At one time the Vandalia ran 6 passenger trains through Waveland, delivering four mails daily. But alas with the advent of the automobile, the truck service, and paved highways, the railway services was reduced to no passenger service and meager freight. The old Midway railway, on the south side of town had a stormy and troublesome time to get started but eventually became of some services for a few years finally falling into the receiver's hands, then into complete oblivion. Not a vestige of it remains, the last tracks having been removed years ago. Many years ago the newspaper made its advent into the town in the form of the "Waveland item," edited by Harry Talbert and Frank Foley, only small school boys, but enterprising and possessed with genius. This was the first paper actually published in Waveland. The "Item" was sold to Charley Crowder and Zell Tracy, who issued the "Waveland Call." This paper was in turn succeeded by the "Waveland Independent, " edited and published by Charley Scott for a number of years, who sold to Mr. and Mrs. Huston, who have faithfully produced for us the weekly Independent for just 40 years.

Waveland has been fertile soil for secret organizations. The Masonic Lodge; IOOF; Ancient Order of Workmen; Knights of Pythias; Phythian Sisters; Modern Wooden; Rebeccas ; Eastern Stars organized in 1873 and the present organization of Eastern Star. Waveland, from the first, has been represented by all the common departments of business. Production by the sawmill was an early flourishing business. T he first steam sawmill was operated in 1850. The boiler for it was brought from Indianapolis on two lumber wagons drawn by six horses; it took one week to make the trip. A number of grist mills have also served the people. At one time four drygoods firms, each carrying grocery stock, also, flourished before the advent of highways. The fuse telephone convenience was introduced here around 1895. in each of the wars, Civil, Spanish and WW I Waveland's loyal, patriotic sons have gone forth valiantly for their country's service. The Grand Army of the Republic, with only a few loyal members remaining in the whole country, Veterans of the Spanish War, and the American Legion with the companion Legion Auxiliary still keep high aloft the banners of the nation. With the opening of the present century a number of Social Circles sprang into existence. The Book Club in 1900, which bought late books, to be distributed and exchanged among its members for reading, continued until 1915 when the Library was opened. Three invitational Women's Clubs - the Secret REG Circle, the Coterie, and Current Events Clubs, all literary, the Priscilla, a sewing circle, the Out-Doors Club, a social organization, all flourished at this time. The latter merged into the Department Club when it was organized in 1919 for the advancement of womanhood her mental and social development, and the expansion of her influence. Mrs. JT Boyer, wife of the Presbyterian pastor, became its first president. The Department Club has been an influential factor in the community morally. Probably the gift of our Public Library by Andrew Carnege is the most outstanding and gratifying source of pleasure and usefulness to our community in recent years. It has created a new and broader contact, and afforded hours of pleasure and been attained in no other way. In 1914 steps were taken to procure it. A Library Board, composed of the following persons was named: Pres. Dr. AJ Kleiser, VP Mrs. RJ Glover, Secretary Mrs. TE Huston and the town clerk as treasurer by virtue of his office; other members: Mrs. BS Kritz; Mr. Irving Fullenwider township trustee, Mr. UG Vail, appointed to represent the township and Mr. JD Fisher a representative of the town. The original Priscilla Circle deserves honorary mention as having financed the legal steps necessary in procuring the Library. As a community we owe a lasting debt of gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Huston for their untiring efforts and the time expended in taking the initiative steps. We probably would not have the present privileges of the Library today had they not had the vision, the public spirit, the will and determination to secure the Library for the town. We are fortunate, indeed to have them as progressive citizens who have always taken a firm and active stand on the moral side of every community problem.

In 1873, a destructive fire, in two hours time, destroyed the main business section, from Howard to Green on the east side of Cross Street and one half block on east Green Street. Seven business houses, one dwelling house and a cabinet shop were reduced to ashes. This all supposed to be the mean work of incendiarists. But out of what seemed a dire calamity grew a benefit, for, from the scene of destruction arose the present block extending from the Banta grocery on the south to Green Street, a fine building for that day. Within my memory every building on the west side of Cross Street has been replaced due to fires with the exception of the old one story TL Hannah dry goods store room which Mr. Hanna rebuilt with the rooms south and including that now occupied by the Post Office. The others all burned at various times. The Masonic Lodge built and occupies the second story of the Hanna store room. There have been some very destructive fires in Waveland but the heroic "bucket brigade" until our first fire engine was purchased did valiant service in confining fires to few buildings. Our fire cisterns were an advancement but now, with a new fire equipment and water works system, we are expecting much more efficient fire protection. Perhaps the most thrilling experience of the little burg was on Feb 6, 1932, when deep slumber was aroused to the realization that our bank was being robbed. The deep intonation of the explosives used to open the vault the pop, pop, pop of a machine gun and the return volleys of shots of the Vigilantes committee, trying to rout the invaders, were a shuddering experience. When the robbers finally failed in their efforts and were driven from town after a hot battle, dawn revealed the destruction wrought in the bank and the narrow escape of the Vigilantes - George Slavens; Mr. Theron Banta and Mr. Frank Gardner. For their fine bravery in defense, the whole community was loud in its praise for them; and to express in a definite way its gratitude, and to honor them individually, it united in giving a banquet for them at the Christian Church. The report of the happening reads like a real crime novel. For the most part our 100 years have been quiet and peaceful. We now enjoy about all the modern conveniences formerly possessed only by cities. With electricity, the telephone and most improved highway outlets we have complete connection with the outside world. We look forward to future and wonder if the next 100 years will make greater strides than the past years have brought to us. If time permitted I should like to dwell more on some of our local personalities but that must be reserved for some later time. We have had some citizens of whom we may well be proud. A sketch of Waveland's History prepared to read before the Department Club meeting Jan 7, 1941 by Victoria Kleiser.

Index to names included in "A History of Waveland." compiled by Victoria Kleiser

BANTA, Theron
BRUSH, Blakely
CROWDER, Charley
DREW, Epperson
FOLEY, Frank
HANNA, Thomas 'Uncle Tommy'
HANNAH, George
KLEISER, Victoria
KRITZ, Prof. Henry S.
KRITZ, Charles S.
McCORMICK, Preston
MILLIGAN, John "Uncle Johnny"
MILLIGAN, Samuel "Uncle Sam"
MILLIGAN, Clarence
RICE, Fred
SCOTT, Charley
SMITH, Benjamin
SMITH, Huber
SMITH, Rev. William
TAYLOR, Charles
TAYLOR, Rev. Samuel

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