Belle Union - Putnam

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Belle Union

Source: Indianapolis News, Monday 10 Dec 1962 p 11 – by Wayne Guthrie

Adding bits of lore, it would seem that the little town of Belle Union in the southwestern part of Putnam County owes its name to a pioneer family, the church it attended and, indirectly, the valley where that house of worship is located. OG Naier, who lives about 1 miles southeast of that hamlet, explained the version he has heard. He said the family was named Bell and that it attended the Union Valley Baptist Church located in the valley of that name and about a half mile north of the town. Could it be that by combining the two words, Bell and Union, and added an “e” to the former they meant to indicate that the town was the belle of Union valley?  It sounds plausible. Naier explained that the church itself, which still thrives at the same site, was founded a year before the town.  He added that it was split off from the old Mill Creek Church which stood ½ mile west of the site of the Union Valley Church. What was the old Mill Creek Church now a tumbledown shack no longer in use. Alongside is the old cemetery. Belle Union, with its approximately 25 hours, a garage, new fire station, body shop, garage and filling station, grocery and combination grocery-restaurant once had a post office, grist and saw mill, drug store, three stores and blacksmith shop.  The blacksmith shop grew into a garage as the auto displaced the horse. The post office was established April 6, 1870 with Robert McCammack as postmaster. It lasted until May 14, 1906. The town is justly proud of its volunteer fire department which dates back several years. Its new fire station houses three fine trucks. Just a stone’s throw west of the town proper is the consolidated high school and grade school.  Naier said it was the first consolidated school in the county and one of the first in the state.  For several years the hamlet also had a Christian Church.  The church no longer exists there but the structure, transformed into a dwelling, still is in use. One of the men interested in the local history in view of the approaching centennial of the village is Ray Saunders who owns and operates a grocery in Belle Union and also drives a school bus there. Saunders who has lived there 12 years formerly was employed by The News and for about 7 years played in the Indianapolis News Newsboys Band under the baton of the beloved late JB Vandaworker. Enos Allen, who lives about 2 ½ miles northeast of Belle Union said that around the 1870s there was considerable competition in that locality over the location of a town. He said that Robert McCammack known affectionately and colloquially as Grinner Bob, owned 1,000 acres south of the present site of Belle Union.  He had a store next to his home. It seems that the Grinner served to differentiate him from a cousin, also named Robert, who was known as Muley Bob.  At any rate, Grinner Bob was trying to get a post office at his rural corner which he appropriately called Bobtown. However, before he could get the post office and start his town two other men started Belle Union at its present site, Allen added. That put Grinner Bob’s prospect out of business, he concluded.

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