Waveland History, compiled by Karen Zach - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Waveland History, compiled by Karen Zach

Waveland History, compiled by Karen Zach


A History of Waveland by Virginia Banta Sharpe;

History of Montgomery County by HW Beckwith;

Waveland History, 1835-1985;

Various Waveland Independent newspapers.

James Long and William Moore both entered land (in what is now Brown Township) at Terre Haute, Indiana prior to the land office being moved to Crawfordsville. This was in the summer of 1822. They both built log cabins in the fall and winter of that year, neither knowing the other was so close in proximity. Long met Moore while hunting cows in the wilderness by sunrise and hearing Moore's axe in the distance. Moore conducted a tavern that was popular with the weary traveller of the day. It was often called, "The Half-Way House," due to its location which was half-way between Terre Haute and Lafayette.

Other early settlers, many from Shelby Co, Ky. were Emsley Loop, Jonathan Powers, Benjamin VanCleave, John Kinder, Benjamin Galey, Josiah Galey, Thomas Glenn, Ralph Canine, Benjamin Todd, John Brush and Jeremiah Stillwell, all coming prior to 1830. Hiram Heddleson entered the land where Waveland now stands. John Milligan later purchased this land and is credited with breaking up the forest and laying out the village of Waveland, aided by surveyor Thomas Glenn.

The first town lot in Waveland was sold on Christmas Day, 1835. Milligan built the first building. It is said he gave the town its name in honor of his Kentucky plantation (which is today, 2016 an historical site - nifty to go if you're interested).

James Cunningham was the town's first doctor. Henry Crawford had the first store, located on Green Street, but it was short-lived. There was a popular town of Fairview which gave Waveland a run for THE township's town, as well as a small village named Deerford (Deer's Mill), but at present, Browns Valley and Waveland are the only two left.

Waveland has had several additions to its original town. The first addition was in 1840 -- developers were T. Howard, M. Newal and J. Milligan. Mr. Milligan added two other sections to the town. John Milligan was the first postmaster. Dr. Gregg followed with Edwin Milligan thereafter. Several postmasters have served at various post offices since.

The first hotel was erected by Andrew Harris in the early years of the town. Other prominent early businesses were the Waveland Wagons, manufactured by HE Rhoads. Mills were run by Joel Deer, William Canine, along with Thomas Armstrong, Thomas Glenn, Caleb Conner, Thomas Talburt and Thomas Owens in the nearby area. At the time the People's Guide was published in 1874, 88 men ran their own businesses in town.

Education has always been a central concern for all citizens and the Waveland Academy, a Presbyterian based school, drew students for miles around. It dates back to at least 1849, the first principal being Rev. L. F. Leake. His successor was John M. Coyner and Henry S. Kritz headed the school for many years. The Academy continued until the 1877-78 school year. The public school was held in one of the old Academy buildings for many years thereafter. Big changes in the school system were seen in the 1880's when there were 12 grade schools and high schools at Browns Valley and Waveland. Those students graduating from the grade schools had to take tests. H.S. graduating classes usually had only 2-3 students.

It is interesting to note that the first Alumni Association was organized 100 years ago this year, 1998. James Boswell, a Waveland boy, built the school most of Wavelandites remember, in 1912. Southmont High School incorporated all the high schools in 1973. The gym, still attached to the recently-built grade school was built in 1937. Note: The wonderful Waveland grade school that almost always had the Valedictorian or Salutatorian of Southmont and that had such high testing scores and was the newest and best school of all of the South grades was closed in 2014 - everyone in town and about was devastated but it's done, thanks to the school board's "insight!"

Religion has also played a major role in Waveland. Early church meetings were held in individual's homes. Early ministers usually held down more than one job, being a teacher or farmer, as well as preacher. Some early preaching was done by travelling ministers. Rev. William Smith is known to have preached in 1825 as a circuit rider. John and Lucinda Milligan deeded land for the first building to be erected by the Methodists. The Waveland Presbyterian Church was organized on November 28, 1828 in the home of John Stubbins but was actually closer to Browns Valley. A church was built in 1831 and moved (1833) to where the cemetery is today. The Church built in 1861 was used as a community building until recently and is still standing in 1998. The Christian denomination is not as old in this area. In 1861, about a mile and a half NE of Waveland, the first church of this denomination called the Antioch Church was formed. In 1867 it and the Bank Springs Church of Parke County merged, forming the Waveland Christian Church. The Baptist Church was very prominent in the early days, the first known organized group being the Union Baptist Church which held its first meeting in Ralph Canine's residence Sept. 16, 1826. In 1835, some of the Union Church members formed the Freedom Church. The Old Baptist Church was a beautiful building, located at 112 E. Main St. but was disbanded in 1923. The old hotel building (corner of Howard and Cross Sts.) was remodelled and used for a church for many years in the 1940's and 50's. There are three cemeteries in town -- the one behind the community building (old Methodist Church); the one at the end of W. Green St. and Maple Ridge just at the north edge of town, across Highway 47.

Much of the early entertainment centered around church or school functions -- quilting bees, spelling bees, box socials, dancing/singing contests, funerals and weddings were among the most popular. Even though we were Catholics in the small town, we were welcome at any church, anytime for anything. About the turn of the century (1900), clubs became popular in the fair city of Waveland. Some early ones were the Book Club, Current Events Club, the Priscilla Club (kind of all under the umbrella of the Department Club) and Out-Doors Club. Also, fraternal organizations and lodges were popular. At one time, the following were here: Masonic Lodge; Eastern Star; IOOF; Ancient Order of Workmen; Knights of Pythias; Pythian Sisters; Modern Woodmen and Rebekahs. Picnics were popular summer outings. Travelling shows and silent movies came into society about this time, and the men spent much time at their Gun Club. Music was big not only at school but several community bands existed, as well. The Chautauqua was quite a social event in the early part of this century. Many entertainments consisting of lecturers, musicians, artists and performers made up a group that travelled in a regular summer circuit (as well as the Chautauqua). William Jennings Bryan drew a huge Waveland following in 1909.

The Priscilla Club helped obtain the first library in 1914, opening in April 1915 with the "Little Red Hen" being the first book issued to Floyd Sharpe, Nella (Lamb) Huston being the first librarian. There has been a very active fire volunteer department in Waveland since 1895. With only bucket brigades and a few wells in town, prior to the department, fires were virtually impossible to squelch. The town board voted to buy an engine and in January 1895, LE Acker brought one for inspection; the horse-drawn engine was bought from the Howe Pump Co. for $585. A frame fire house was built by Shelby Collings which cost $75. Bylaws were drawn up May 13th of that year. A bell was purchased for $4.10 in 1896. This bell was also used as an all-is-well signal at 8 o'clock for many years. A siren replaced the bell in 1929. Theodore Sharpe tested it. A motorized truck was purchased in 1920 and housed in the Parish garage. Will Moore was chief at the time with members being: Parke Spencer, Frank Burrin, Albert Denk, Hubert Ghormley, John Parrish, Ben Canine, Leon Guy, Garrie Dillman, Harry Gardner, Ott Kolling, Dean Milligan and Mort Yount. Trucks have been added and replaced several times since. In 1951, there were but a few volunteers, so the town board officially organized a fire department with Wes Cotton, as chief; Forrest Coleman, assistant; James Moody, engineer; Roy Hockett, assistant engineer; Charlie Calvert, Dean Cronkhite, Clarhud Moore and Bob Myers as hose and nozzle men. A year later the group was officially named the Waveland Volunteer Fire Department with Fred Bazzani, chief and 23 volunteers. Regular meetings began to help study and practice fire fighting techniques. Today, we still appreciate an excellent volunteer department. Street lights appeared in the fair city about 1890. John Dietrich was the first lamplighter who earned $6 a month for lighting, cleaning and repairing them. The volunteer firemen at some time frame, 1960s/70s were often paramedics, as well. I was saved by a group of these great guys (only remember Nathan Pointer and Troy Phillips but know there were probably 6-7 of them in my bedroom, got my asthma somewhat under control, enough to transport me to the hospital and was well-taken care of there - saved me - they were great).

In April, 1902, new acetylene lamps were purchased from a local company and installed. These were hailed as a real wonder. The first electric street lights installed were bulbs with a flat reflector on top. In the late 1920's, boulevard lamps were put up on Cross Street to improve both the lighting and appearance of the business section. Lights have been replaced more than once since that time.

John A. Johnson is accredited in creating the first telephone company not only in Waveland, but Montgomery County. Little is known about it, but in May, 1897, the Waveland Telephone Company began installing an excellent system. Phones cost $2.50 per month. Two doctors in town (Kelso and Kleiser) had the first phones. The 1908 switchboard had 250 drops. James W. Robertson took over the company in 1920 and operated in for many years. The Detchon system began in 1928 and had three operators and a lineman. 1956 was the year Bell Telephone purchased the Waveland system.

The water tower was put up in during the summer of 1940 and "city water" became available that fall. Edgar Canine painted "Waveland" on the tower. There was recent renovations to the water and sewage system and a new water tower (2015) was just erected a block past the school (which is now closed due to the decision of the current South Montgomery school board - BOO!!! See also above school information).

Although the first buildings in the town were frame and most lost to fire, many of the brick buildings replaced them are still in use today. When the Knights of Pythias building was erected, it was one of the largest K of P Halls in the state. Of course, some of the more handsome buildings have been torn town to "make room for progress." Many businesses have flourished, then gone by the wayside in our small town.

At the time of the Waveland History by Virginia Banta Sharpe, the following were listed Burrin's Drug Store (gone); C.W. Spencer Hardware; Fullenwider TV & Radio Shop; Moore's Grocery; Cook's Furniture; Harmon Grocery; Uptown Cafe (moved, name changed, but there is a present one); Myers Rug Cleaners; Sharpe Store ; Shular's Pool Room; Whitecotton Hardware; Murray's Barber Shop; Geneva's Beauty Shop; Waveland Beauty Shop; Regal Store; Hunt's Electric; Alva Thomas, Chester Heslar; Don Whitecotton; Pete France and Bill Swank all having filling stations; Waveland Grain Elevator; Banta's Watch Shop; Brooks Barber Shop; Wave-inn Restaurant/Filling station; Raymond Moore Painter; Machledt & Servies Funeral Home; Servies Furniture Store, all but about three now extinct. You can visit the Waveland homepage to discover the current businesses.

Also, the railroads helped the town thrive in the 1900's. The first railroad in the community was the Logansport, Crawfordsville & Southwestern. Locally, it was referred to as the Vandalia. What was known as the Central Indiana Railroad extended from Waveland where it formed a junction with the Vandalia line, northeasterly through Ladoga and New Ross and on through the state, having been built in 1887. Many area men worked to help build these railroads. Other transportation included one known cab service (late 1909) by Harry Moody -- he met trains and took passengers to the hotel or delivered people to the train. F.C. Yeager ran a dray service for a few years, selling to Frank Seybold.

The Good Brothers had a bus service in the early 1920's and ran buses between Waveland and Crawfordsville, then between Waveland and Indianapolis. In 1924 they sold their C'ville run to the Ben Hur Bus Company which extended service to Lafayette and Terre Haute. Later yet they sold the Indianapolis run, but at one time there were 8 buses a day through our little town. Complaints from citizens of mud and dust prompted the town board to each spring, oil the streets. This continued for many years until finally the town paved the roads.

The "True American," is said to have been the first newspaper in Waveland, printed at Terre Haute and distributed here; in existence from 1851-54. The "Waveland News" was printed by a Mr. Boswell from Ladoga but Monroe McCormick served as the Waveland correspondent. This paper, too only lasted about 3 years. The "Waveland Enterprise," distributed here but published in Indianapolis, says it was a weekly paper with 1,000 copies printed each week. There is only one known copy of one of these papers in existence, it dated May 15, 1863. In the 1870s a little paper was printed by two local boys, EE Foley and FF Shanks, and was called the "Cricket." This followed in 1879 by the "Waveland Chronicle," edited and published each Saturday by Edward E. Foley, but there was also a temperance paper published by FB Rose in the mid-70's. Two other local men, Harry Talburt and Frank Foley began the "Waveland Item." (1880-81). The "Waveland Call" was also about this time, with eggs selling for 25 cents (and scarce). Not much is known about the "Waveland Banner," published in the late 1880's. The "Waveland Independent" started in 1884 by John Q. Russell, and was purchased in 1886 by HM Talburt and Charles Scott. It was purchased in 1900 by TE Huston, under which it thrived. Many community improvements had its beginnings via Huston's editorials. Huston retired from the paper after 40 plus years of service to the area. The paper was purchased by William Fortune who only ran it for a short time, then selling it to a local Minister, C.N. McBrayer. Vic Canine set type for many years, working for both men. In 1955, Max Harvey (of Montezuma) bought the paper and published it under the name, "Tri-County News" due to the fact it covered news in three counties. It was in existence up through the late 1960's.

Waveland was such a fun, safe place to grow-up in the 1950s. There were wonderful Fish Frys at the park that had rides galore (loved that Tilt-a-Whirl), we were able to grab our Freshman we were initiating and put red lipstick or make them do all kinds of things (nothing malicious - carry my books, stick out your tongue kind of things); everyone knew everyone and if you did something bad, mom and dad would know in a few minutes, so we were all basically good kids. School was fun with all kinds of things to get involved in; teachers were great and cared for each child; work was piled on as much or more as today, but we got it done or again, you were in trouble. You could be out until after dark and not worry about anyone nabbing you. Every kid was helped, watched, aided in any way by anyone in the community.

It was just awesome growing-up here and today, 2015 I'm back home again in Waveland, Indiana enjoying it almost as much as when I was a kid!!

------Thanks to these men and women and their foresight, much of our town's history is preserved, yet much history is still to be found. However, we hope you enjoy this overview. - -kbz

The website management appreciates all the contributions provided for use here. When using something from this site PLEASE use the following citation as your source :) THANKS MUCHES - kbz
Citation: The INGenWeb Project, Copyright ©1997-2019 (and beyond), Montgomery County GenWeb site

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