A history of Fall Creek Township, Part II

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By Stephen Jackson | For The Times-Post

Part 2 of a two-part column.

Located on the north bank of Fall Creek and only a short distance upstream from Pendleton is Huntsville.

The town derived its name from one of the first settlers, William Hunt. At one time it was a flourishing village and was a rival with neighbor Pendleton.

Huntsville was laid out May 24, 1830, by Eleazer Hunt and Enos Adamson.

Mendon was once a crossroads-village situated at the intersection of two county roads three miles south of Huntsville.

Mendon was the name of one of the early post offices of the county, a name apparently selected by the post office service.

It opened for business on Sept. 11, 1849.

The village probably never aspired to the dignity of a town, as the land was never platted or laid off into town lots.

There was a general store established there at one time by Thomas Jordan, and the village grew up around the store.

On April 30, 1859, the post office ceased operations and Mendon’s future was sealed.

The abandoned District School No. 11, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Mendon Cemetery and a few houses constitute all that is left of the old village.

Today’s Indiana State Road 38 passes through Fall Creek Township running nearly parallel to the same route that was once the old New Castle and Lafayette State Road, and before that it was an old trail turned wagon road used by many pioneers making their way into the southern part of the county.

Those who first settled at The Falls traveled this route.

From where their journey began in Clark County, Ohio, it was a short distance to Dayton.

There they traveled over a public road that had been cut through the forest to New Castle, Indiana.

From New Castle to The Falls, their course was determined by a compass.

The trail they blazed would, in time, become the New Castle and Lafayette State Road, the second to be established in the county.

About a mile and a half east of Pendleton, State Road 38 intersects with County Road 150W.

Clustered around the intersection is an area known to history as Spring Valley.

The assumption is that the area was named for the numerous springs present there.

The area’s population was at one time sufficient to warrant a school house, one that can still be seen remodeled into a home on the southeast corner.

The Spring Valley area was home to many members of the Society of Friends, the Quakers.

The original settlers were in this area from an early time as evidenced by some 1833 tombstone dates found in the Friends Cemetery adjacent to the Fall Creek Meeting House.

The meeting house has a long history.

In the summer of 1834, a number of members of this society convened at the house of Jonathan and Ann Thomas where they continued to meet for the next two years.

In 1836, they erected a log church.

In 1857, the congregation erected a frame meeting house at the cost of $800.

It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

In 1843, African-American speaker Frederick Douglass was touring through the western sections of the country giving anti-slavery lectures.

On Sept. 16, Douglass was in Pendleton.

A platform was erected in a grove of trees on the north bank of Fall Creek just below the falls for him and others to speak.

Shortly after beginning to speak, Douglass was threatened by a group of rebel-rousers in the crowd and in the fracas that followed he was injured. One eyewitness account states that Dr. M.G. Walker saved Douglass from a deadly attack by an assailant swinging a heavy iron bar over Douglass who by that time was down.

The doctor threw his weight against the attacker hurling him away just as Neal Hardy and Edwin Fussel came to the aid of the fallen orator.

Douglass was helped to his feet by much kinder hands and placed in the care of Mr. William Lukens.

He was taken by wagon three miles east to the Spring Valley area to the home of Neal and Elizabeth Hardy, where the family cared for and attended him with a tenderness Douglass never forgot.

Fearing further attacks, the Quaker women of Spring Valley nursed the injured orator while the men guarded their safety.

The Hardys were members of the Society of Friends.

Afterward, Mr. Hardy received a letter from Douglass thanking him for his kindness.

A short distance west of County Road 50W and situated directly on the old wagon road was a community commonly known as the Busby Settlement.

Today, all that remains is the Busby Cemetery standing silent witness to the vacated hillside where the once small settlement stood.

If you look closely, you can still make out where the old road once passed directly by the cemetery gate.

The cemetery contains 84 graves, 12 of which contain members of the Busby family that settled in the area circa 1825.

On that same hillside once stood a frame one-room school house known as the Busby school and a church.

After the settlement ceased to exist, the church was picked up and moved two miles south on today’s County Road 50W, where it became the forerunner of the Mt. Gilead church congregation.

In 1887, the crossroads of County Road 50W and County Road 1000S in the township’s southeastern corner witnessed the erection of a new church named Mt. Gilead United Brethren.

One-half mile west at County Road 100W was a one-room school house named Jacob.

Clearly, the population was sufficient to support a church and school and the neighborhood soon took the name Mt. Gilead, from the Bible meaning hill of testimony.

No doubt in reference to the slight elevation upon which the church now stands.

County Road 50W was probably no more than a dirt country lane when it witnessed the move south of the church building, but it also witnessed a move north far more important to mankind.

In pre-Civil War times, four farmers — Edward Roberts, Joel Garretson, John Boston and Charles Jacobs who lived along the lane — cooperated in helping runaway slaves escape along this route via the Underground Railroad.

Their immediate destination, the Quaker-populated Spring Valley area where safety and shelter awaited.

About two miles west of Pendleton, State Road 38 crosses County Road 600W, the township line, before descending into a slight valley where it crosses Foster’s Branch.

This area was once called Pleasant Valley probably reflective of its appealing appearance which continues today.

At one time there was a Methodist church by that name located there with a cemetery.

Today, only the cemetery remains.

The Pleasant Valley Cemetery is located today on the northwest corner of SR 38 and County Road 625W.

While the Pleasant Valley residents straddled the township line dividing Fall Creek and Green townships, the cemetery is in Green Township.

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