A history of Fall Creek Township, Part I

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Part 1 of a two-part column.

By Stephen Jackson | For The Times-Post

Fall Creek Township is the third-largest township in Madison County.
Only Monroe and Pipe Creek townships are larger.
Fall Creek Township is six miles from east to west and seven miles from north to south, making it 42 square miles.
The township derived its name from the principal waterway, Fall Creek, that flows in a general southwesterly direction traversing the width of the township for a distance of roughly eight miles.
Fall Creek is one of the original five townships created by the county board between 1823 and 1829, and, like the other four, the actual date of formal organization is unknown.
No doubt the area, known to many as The Falls because of where the creek takes a nine-foot plunge over solid rock, had been visited many times prior to settlement by white men seeking game for food or fur.
But, the credit of being the first settler in what became Fall Creek Township, or for that matter anywhere in Madison County, goes to a tall, raw-boned Irishman named John Rogers.
He arrived in the area from North Carolina Dec. 29, 1818, and settled on a tract of land about a mile and a half east of today’s town of Pendleton on the south side of State Road 38.

Though it’s hard to imagine today that he would have undertaken the journey at that time of the year when weather would have exacerbated already poor and difficult travel conditions, his arrival was found recorded in a book in Mr. Rogers’ own handwriting substantiating his date of arrival.
The lands had not yet been surveyed, but he went about clearing his land preparing for a crop the following spring.
Shortly afterward a United States survey was made of his land revealing the actual property boundaries.
Realizing he did not like part of the ground on which he had settled, he moved a few hundred yards to the southeast, where he recorded a farm on which he lived until 1838, when he sold his land to Abraham Vernon and moved to Iowa.
In 1820, eight men came from Clarke County, Ohio, to The Falls with the purpose of establishing homes.
Seven were married: William Curtis, Israel Cox, Thomas and William McCartney, Saul Shaul, Manly Richards and Elias Hollingsworth.
The eighth, Moses Corwin, was unmarried.
Mrs. Hollingsworth came with her husband and was most likely the first white woman in the county.
Their son, E.P. Hollingsworth, born Nov. 7, 1820, was the first white male child born in the township.
And, in the evening of the same day, Electa Shaul became the second child, and first white female child, born in the township.
After choosing lands in several sites surrounding present-day Pendleton, and perhaps erecting a very basic shelter, the married men returned to Ohio to bring their families.
Manly Richards is the only one to not settle with the original group, as early election records show him living in Adams Township.
Other settlers soon followed, including Thomas M. Pendleton.
Although the exact date of his arrival is unknown, it can be assumed he arrived before June 3, 1823, because it was on that day when he purchased and recorded his land at the home of William McCartney, land that was to later become a town bearing his name.
A large percentage of the first settlers of Fall Creek Township located at and near the falls on Fall Creek, and the density of the population gave the locality the appearance of a town, but Mr. Pendleton was the first to conceive the idea, or take steps toward founding one.
In 1821, Thomas McCartney erected a crude cornmill to grind grain into meal. Thomas, along with his brother William, also operated a small store.
Undoubtedly, all who ventured there to have their grain ground or secure needed goods at the McCartney brothers’ store called the place by the name familiar to all as The Falls.
When the state legislators met at Corydon the first Monday of December 1822, an act was passed granting county pioneers the right to organize a separate jurisdiction for administration of affairs.
County business was done at the home of William McCartney, where the county was formally organized Nov. 10, 1823.
The earliest courthouse in the county was built on the west side of the North Main Street in Pendleton.
The house was constructed of logs and situated on a lot later occupied by the Universalist Church.
Twenty-seven years later on Oct. 12, 1850, the original plat was re-surveyed and corrected by Col. N. Berry, at which time two or three additions were made.
On Dec. 24, 1853, a vote was taken to determine whether Pendleton should be incorporated as a town or remain a village without any organization.
Forty-one votes were cast, with 37 being in favor of incorporation.
One more place name is associated with Pendleton and is reflective of the period when the town was the county seat of Madison County.
On May 4, 1824, the U.S. Post Office officially opened for business there with Moses Cox appointed as postmaster.
The office functioned until it closed on Oct. 31, 1826, under the name Madison Court House.

Madison County Historian Stephen Jackson is leading a series of “First Sunday” presentations covering the History of Madison County. The talks are set for 2 p.m. on the first Sunday each month in the Bowman Room at Museum of Madison County History, 11 W. 11th St., Anderson. The talks began Sept. 4 and run through Nov. 5, 2023. The information he prepares for those presentations form the basis of this series of columns in The Times-Post.

 

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