Historical Notes
from past
Index Pages

I was asked if the historical notes from the Index page were anywhere on the site. They weren't so I decided to include them in this History section. I try to change the history note every week and will include the new notes here.

The Initial Point or Pivot Point in the Hoosier National Forest, seven miles south of Paoli, is the the point from which all boundries in Indiana are measured. Established in 1805 by Ebenezer Buckingham to govern land survey under the Ordinance of 1785.

Distilleries were such a big business in early county history that the large number of taverns and liquor stores resulted in much drunkenness thorought the county. In 1833-34 the citizens of Paoli petitioned the county board to stop issuing liquor licenses. Issuing licences for $50 a year was profitable for the county and the commissioners denied the petition.

Whetstones, used for sharpening stones and tools, were found along the buffalo traces in Orange County. First quarried around 1825, Orange County for many years was the only place in the world where these important stones were quarried and fashioned. These quarries were in French Lick and Northwest Townships.

Paoli was named for Pasqule Paoli Ash, the 12 year old son of North Carolina's former Governor Samuel Ash. The boy died before the Quakers came from North Carolina to Orange County.

The settlement of Orange County began with the arrival of John Hollowell, a native of North Carolina, on the Patoka River near present day Valeene in 1807. The town of Orleans claims the distinction of being the oldest town in Orange County. It was established in 1815 before Indiana was a state.

In April 1811 the anti-slavery group of the Religious Society of Friends left Orange County, NC. Jonathan Lindley led this group of 200 or more. Some of the family names were: Braxton, Cox, Dicks, Crow, Chambers, Chamneys, Farlow, Hall, Henley, Hobbs, Hoggatt, Holiday, Hollowell, Hitchocks, Hills, Hobson, Jones, Lindley, Maris, Nixon, Saint, Spivy, Stout, and Thompson.

A court case from 1858 brought the question of slavery to the county when Dr. William A. Bowles was indicted for bringing seven slaves into Indiana and maintaining them there in violation of the Constitution. Bowles argued that they were his wife's slaves and had been brought to French Lick from Louisville only temporarily for their health. Bowles lost the case and was fined $40 in the common Pleas Court. He appealed the case to the Supreme Court which also ruled against him.

Two Underground Railroad "Depots" existed in Orange County, one at Chambersburg and one near Orleans. The Chambersburg depot was the first stop for runaway slaves after crossing the Ohio River and were cared for by the many Quakers in the area, of which Mr. Thompson was one of the leaders. In Orleans men like J. H. Steers, Abner Freeman, Dr. Posser and a few others would care for and then guide the slaves to the next depot, in Beford, Lawrence County.

On April 17, 1839, William and Henry Steward laid out a town in southern Jackson Township. Consisting of 68 lots; and in December 1869 another 72 lots known as Shoulder's Addition; and with abundant water from the Patoka Creek mills were established and the town became the third largest community in the county during the 1880s. Adding the name of the town in Ireland of their birthplace, the town became Newton Steward.

Chambersburg, southeast of Paoli, was not laid out or named until the 1840, but was a thriving business center in the 1820s. Samuel Chambers opened a store in 1822, stocking it with $600 worth of goods, groceries, dry goods, hardware and notions, purchased in Louisville. He added a saddlery and harness shop and also ran a tavern. Robert Pachel opened a blacksmith shop, dealing in axes and plows along with repairing farming implements and tools. Near the end of the decade James Woolly opened a wagon shop, increasing Pachel's business, who had the job of "ironing" the wagons.

Court House source records bear out the fact that Thomas C. Bowles made all of the original Bowles purchases at French Lick Springs and then assigned them to William A. Bowles, his brother. William A. Bowles didn't actually receive the final patents to the land until twenty years later, in the mid 1850s. Almost every secondary source indicates that Bowles acquired the lands in 1832, yet the State didn't clear the way for the sale until 1833. Saline Lands Book 2, in the Orange County Court House indicates that most of the lands acquired by Bowles were purchased in 1833 and 1834.

The Eighth Wonder of the World, the West Baden Springs Hotel's nickname came from Lee Sinclair's European travels after the 1901 fire that completely destroyed the original Hotel. He was so impressed with the St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome that he decided to build an 210 foot unsupported dome. St. Peter's dome was 200 feet and was known at tha time as the eighth wonder of the world.

In October of 1849, Dr. William F. Sherrod and Dr. William A. Bowles, who had both served in Buena Vista during the Mexican American War, engaged in a heated argument in the post office at Paoli and Sherrod drew his pistol and fired it. While Bowles was not struck, it changed the entire attitude towards him in Paoli and induced him to move to French Lick. Sherrod was tried for assault and battery with intent to kill, was found quilty and fined $2 and costs.

The Patoka River has many small tributaries including Cane Creek, Painter Creek, Dumplin' Creek, Young's Creek, Bacon Creek, Fudge Creek and Hog's Defeat. Legend has it that Hog's Defeat was named because a group of people decided to drive some hogs from Corydon to Vincennce and fatten the hogs along the trail with the many nut trees in the area, then slaughter them in Vincennes and send them on to New Orleans. Indians attacked and scattered the hogs, thereby defeating their purpose and giving the stream it's strange name.

Jonathan Lindley was considered a very rich man in his day. He is supposed to have brought $100,000 in gold on his 800 mile journey from Orange County, North Carolina to the Indiana Territory. He sold a successful lumber and turpentine company in North Carolina. He served as leader to his Quaker meeting, land agent for the government, contractor for the first Courthouse, and board member for the State seminary. It may be through his considerable influence that Orange County is named after his former home.

On June 14, 1901, the original West Baden Springs Hotel burned to the ground. At about 1 a.m. on Friday morning hotel guest came into the hotel office and informed the night clerk that the kitchen was on fire. Dick Breedlove, who was on duty started through hallways, firing a revolver, yelling and beating on doors, arousing hotel guest. The only fatalities of the fire were two dogs that lived at the hotel.

French Lick's fame in the early 20th century came from three factors: first, the springs and their new found renown coming as a product of the intense "Pluto Water" advertising; second, the money spent on improvements in the French Lick Hotel's facilities; and the third, the magic of Thomas Taggart, the driving force behind the French Lick Hotel during this dynamic period of time for the Spring Valley hotels.

Guest came to the West Baden Springs Hotel to make use of the mineral springs. The water from these marvelous springs "cured or helped cure" over fifty ailments, ranging from "alcoholism and asthma" to "sprains and sterility". The general program prescribed for anyone "who wanted to get the full benefit from the waters" was "two or three glassfuls before breakfast, three of four glassfuls in the forenoon, and a like quantity in the afternoon, with an interval of 15 or 20 minutes between glasses. A brisk walk aided in the "actions" of the waters. The Pure food and Drug laws stopped this advertising and the hotel stopped making the claims for this powerful laxative, "Sprudel Water".

Approximately 6 miles northeast of Paoli a church was established about 1820, by Barton W. Stone. Originally named the Union Church, the church prospered in its log house for close to 40 years. In 1860 the log building was replaced by a frame building and during that time was used as a school house. A small village sprung up known as Rife Town, dedicated to Dr. Rife, who practiced medicine in the area. Later it became advisable to change the name of the village and Ella Mavity suggested a biblical name and it was accepted. Since that time the church and the community have been known by that name - Syria.

The Spring Valley portion of the county was an extremely popular resort area at the turn of the century. Many large hotels serviced the area including the French Lick Hotel, the West Baden Springs Hotel, the Pavillion Hotel, the Brown Hotel, the New Sutton Hotel, the Colonial Hotel, the Wells Hotel and the Homestead Hotel. Along with the hotels a thriving gambling industry existed with several casinos catering to the hotel guest.

Since the early 1850s, this Stamper's Creek Township location has served the community in commerce. In 1922 Ad and Bruce Gray started a store in a log building, originally built in 1870. In 1933 Ad and Mabel Gray built the present store and during the day Ad transported the local produce to market. Today a unique collection of antiques fill the store. With the fall harvest a veritable mountain of pumpkins filled the lot adjacent to the store, awaiting Ad's transport to market, giving the name to this general store on "Tator Road" - Pumpkin Center.

The West Baden Springs Hotel attracted many sports dignitaries when it was a thriving hotel. Boxers who trained at the hotel include James J. Corbett, Thomas J. Sharkey, John L. Sullivan. And the hotel was the site of major league spring training with the following teams using the baseball field inside the two-story bicycle track at various times: St. Louis Browns, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

On February 5, 1850, a dispensation was granted to Hugh C. Wible, John Baker and H.T. Moxley by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons, then located at Madison, Indiana, to institiute a Lodge of Masonry at Paoli. This dispensation was signed by Grand Master Egin Deming, and was received June 29, 1850. Some of the early officers of the Lodge 119 were George Faucett, S. D. McCann, W.T. Osborn, G. W. Coffin. Meetings were scheduled to be held "on Friday preceding the full moon at 6 1/2 o'clock p.m."

While it is believed that the Quakers were the first religious congregation to hold their meetings in 1812 in Orange County, by 1816 Bishop R.R. Roberts began preaching along Methodist beliefs in Orleans. At that time the Methodist were lead by circuit riders as were many of the early churches. These circuit riders were on the frontier almost as soon as the first settlers arrived. Another early church in Orleans was the Presbyterians, who started holding their meetings in 1818 under the leadership of W. W. Martin of Livonia.

There was no uniform course of study in schools until sometime after 1872. There was an open gap between the regular "Three R's" courses and university training, There were no high schools, and this is where the Academy and Seminaries provided the cirruculum that corresponds with our modern high schools. With graduation from these academies and semenaries, students could then teach in the grammer schools or enter university. Examples of these schools are the Orleans and Lick Creek Academy and the Orange County Seminary in Paoli.

"At a monthly meeting held at Spring Meeting House the 30th of the 10th month 1813, Christopher Hill and Mourning Trueblood appeared here and published their intention of marriage with each other. Christopher Hill of Nox Co., Indiana Territory, son of Jessee Hill of Randolph Co., N.C. and Mary his wife. Mourning Trueblood, daughter of William and Elizabeth Trueblood, deceased. Married at Lick Creek Meeting House in Harrison County - 12 Month 1st 1813. John Cox and Thomas Lindley are appointed to make the necessary inquiry with an accounty of their care therein to next meeting." This entry marked the first recorded marriage within the boundry of what was to become Orange County -From the minutes of the Lick Creek Friends Monthly Meeting.

A one of a kind amusement feature of the West Baden Springs Hotel was the only covered, double decker, 1/3 mile long bicycle and pony track in the county. Within the oval of the track was a full size baseball diamond and field. Guest would rent either pony carts or bicycles and ride the carts over the dirt track at ground level, or ride bicycles on the wood track on the second floor twelve feet above the ground, which was built in regulation style and banked to allow the highest rate of bicycle speeds. It was completely electrically lit at night. The track was built during the 1890s.

The Courthouse Square in Paoli is modeled from a design known as the Philadelphia or Lancaster Square. This design has a square block layout surrounding the Courthouse with four main streets entering the center of each block. The Philadelphia Square has no central courthouse and dates from about 1682, while the Lancaster design, with a central courthouse, dates from about 1729. Indiana has few Lancaster Squares. They appear more frequently in the states west of Indiana.

Orange County's first courthouse was built in 1816 by John Pickard, who was paid $25 for building the structure. Little was known about the courthouse until 1941 when a small book containing records of the earliest marriages and legal proceedings for the county was discovered in the furnace room of the present courthouse by Custodian John Marshall from trash destined for incineration. He began reading it and subsequently mentioned it to Arthur L. Dillard, Sr., who then placed the book back in the county clerk's office. The original courthouse was quickly outgrown and replaced a few years later.

In June of 1863 a group of Confederate Calvarymen invaded Orange County under the command of Captain Thomas H. Haines, with the aim of possibly making a secret exploratory visit to southern Indiana to contact Southern sympathizers for their support of an invasion into the area being contemplated by General Morgan. As they passed through Valeene a messenger arrived in Paoli reporting their taking horses and mules. The alarm went out and about sixty men responded to protect the courthouse, stopping the raid. Hines retreated and was chased to the Ohio River where a fight ensued resulting in the surrendering of his troops. Hines swan across the Ohio River and escaped his own personal capture.

In 1888 the School Board of Paoli decided to integrate the Public schools. On September 20, 1888 a petition was forwarded to the Board objecting to the mixing of white and black students because of the injurious effect on the reputation of the Schools. One teacher, Mr. Warren, resigned when he discovered that two or three colored children were enrolled in his class. He was quickly replaced with Mr. H. F. Patton. A few white children withdrew from the school, but returned shortly afterwards. With not enough black children to justify the additional taxes to support the separate schools the Board held to its stand and the schools of Paoli remained integrated.

The original Orange County, as created in 1816, was much larger than our present county. Originally the county was 74 miles long on the west side, 50 mile long on the east side and 65 mile wide through the center. Orange County encompassed parts of the present counties of Lawrence, Monroe, Washington, Brown, Clark, Jackson, Dubois and Morgan county almost to the Ohio River. With the creation of these counties Orange County was reduced to the present size of 20 miles by 20 miles. Some of the townships of this old Orange County were Bono, Leatherwood, Clear Creek, Lost River, Southwest and Orange.

On the Courthouse Square in Paoli there is a Buhrstone Marker honoring the twenty-eight Revolutionary soldiers and patriots buried in Orange County. Dedicated by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Lost River Chapter, on October 3, 1940 the monument consist of two buhrstones used in Orange County grain mills, one believing to have been used in the historic Lick Creek mill. Many of those listed were Quakers who opposed military service, but provided non-combatant services during the War.

The town of Abeydell was laid out in 1887 in French Lick Township when the railroad was built from Orleans to French Lick. It consisted of a railroad station, a post office, a general store, a blacksmith shop and a school. A. C. Smith ran the store and the post office. The store and the school were both destroyed by fire. Population during the early 1950s was about 30.

Elisha Mason, one of the bakers at the Springs Hotel, relates a matter of Orange County History that is not generally known. There is a post office in this county named Bacon. It is located near the Crawford county line with Marengo the nearest railroad point. There is no town, only a general merchandise store, in which is located the post office called Bacon. A number of years ago one of the countryside dwellers helped himself to a side of bacon without bothering about consent or price. The Patoka was bridged at that place and time by a tree foot bridge. In attempting to negotiate passage he lost his balance and also the bacon. He failed to bring home the bacon, but the occurrence resulted in the name of the post office as Bacon at its establishment. (Spring Valley Herald, November 30, 1922)

One small Orange County community was first started and called Tegarden Corner and later called Summerville. But it came time for them to have a post office the name changed to Bromer. In the year 1861 six families started a store and village. Their names were Boyd, Roll, Oldham, McIntosh, Ellis and Reed. They took the first letter of each name and put together and spelled BROMER. Bromer is at the extreme south of Northeast Township near the Stampers Creek Township line.

Within the bounds of Southeast Township there is but one town. This is Valeene, located a little west of the center of the township. It was laid out April 10, 1837 by John Hollowell, Sr. and John Hollowell, Jr. who at the same tome donated lot No. 21 to the public for school purposes. The first store in the township is said to have been kept by Samuel Stalcup, one and a half miles east of Valeene at his residence, about the year 1836. He soon after sold to Isaac Roach who moved it to Valeene making the first store of that place. Since then the following persons have been doing a general merchandise trade there: William Wellman, Irvin Polson, John Briggs, John Maxedon and Doctor Lee Hazelwood, partners, Joseph Ferguson, Thomas Maxedon, Reed Stalcup, J. W. Montgomery & Company, Albert Montgomery & Company and J. W. Sloan.

A Doctor named Rife located and started a little town and it was named after him, Rifetown, that was about 150 years ago. Doctor Still and Doctor Stewart once live here. These merchants were here: Owen Boyd, H. Cornwell, Doctor Marshall, Matthew Taggart, John Speers, Casper & Harvey Reister, Claude McClain, Thad Clements, Bowen, Ben Thacker and Byrd. These was a post office at one time. The name was change to Syria.