Aug 282014

Much Ignored Sign

As you drive on county roads in Hendricks County you often find the sudden 90-degree turn with a short bit of road before another turn back in the direction you were driving. This is usually due to the nature of how early roads were based on trails that often cut across the areas of land before they were sold. You can see variances from some of the earliest maps of the county roads vs. today’s maps. (The old maps below are available at

Once land was purchased and prepared for use by the new owner they often asked that the county vacate the road across their new land. This is evident in early records of county proceedings in various meeting documents in archives. For roads still used the solution often was to reroute the roads along the property lines. Of course when mostly used by slow foot and horse traffic 90 degree turns weren’t much of an issue. Today these corners are usually marked with tire skid marks from inattentive drivers.

If you live on a tricky road or a neighborhood, we will be happy to help you sell your home. Call or text The Derrick Team today at 317-563-1110 with any of your real estate needs.

Hendricks County 1865

Hendricks County 1865

Hendricks County 1876

Hendricks County 1876

Hendricks County 1904

Hendricks County 1904

Hendricks County 1920

Hendricks County 1920

Jul 132014

The Hendricks County Agricultural Society was organized in 1852, and bought grounds three acres in extent, a mile west of Danville, for fair purposes. Many changes were made, and additions to the grounds were purchased from time to time. Fairs were held annually until 1881, when the society having previously become involved’ in debt, it was totally unable to pay its premiums, and the property was sold. From the History of Hendricks County ~ Intra-State Publishing Company – 1885

Find out all about the current Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds here:

Connie with Noel Brumm’s 1947 International ID 6 tractor we sponsor at the Antique Tractor display!

Connie with Noel Brumm’s 1947 International ID 6 tractor we sponsor at the Antique Tractor display at the 4-H Fair.

The Derrick Team manning the booth at the 2015 Hendricks County Fair

The Derrick Team manning the booth at the 2015 Hendricks County Fair

Nothing like Fair Food!

Nothing like Fair Food!

Jul 262011

Hendricks County Court House in the Square Today

Hendricks County Court House in the square today in the center of Danville

Interesting bit of history of the beginning of Hendricks County government from the History of Hendricks County by Honorable John V. Hadley written in 1914. The government provided whiskey distributed by the coroner to help people pick out the property to purchase. Not a marketing strategy we can really get away with today…

The act organizing the county of Hendricks was approved on December 29. 1823. The county was named in honor of William Hendricks, then governor of the state of Indiana. According to the provisions of this act, the men selected began to investigate several claims made for the location of the county seat. Many localities were at work striving for the honor, among them the community near George Mattock’s tavern, two miles east of Belleville, where a town had been laid out named Hillsboro.

This site was discarded in favor of a location as near as possible to the geographical center of the county, and on the second Monday in July, 1824, the site of Danville was chosen. Four men, Daniel Beals, George Matlock, Robert Wilson and James Downard, being the owners of land in four sections having a common corner, each donated twenty acres touching the common corner for the benefit of the county seat, all of which was laid out into public square and town lots. Thomas Hinton was appointed agent of the county, and on October 20, 1824, he placed on file a plat of the town of Danville.

The lots were immediately put up at a public sale, and this continued for three days. An order was made by the commissioners for fifteen gallons of whiskey to assist the purchasers in making their selection. Samuel Herriman, the coroner, was the distributor on this occasion. The price paid for the lots ranged from three to one hundred and fifteen dollars. The latter price was given by Mr. Hulse for the lot on the northeast corner of Main and Washington streets. The lot on the southwest corner brought the next highest price.

The court house was completed and the first term of court held in Danville in April of the year 1826. The building was constructed of peeled hickory logs and cost one hundred and forty-seven dollars. The jail was of the same material. The first county commissioners were Thomas Lockhart, Gideon Wilson and Littlebury Blakely. They divided the county into nine townships, of nearly equal area, and there was sufficient population in but four of the townships at that time to give them a civil organization. The first representative of the county in the General Assembly was Lewis Mastin.

And thus the history of our government in Hendricks County was started….

Jun 252011

This is a cannon demo at Civil War Days in Danville event in 2011 from the Hendricks County Historical Museum. They did it for a little boy in a wheel chair (he pulls the trigger). Really made his day! And yes, I almost dropped the camera!


Apr 082011

Hendricks County Historical Museum is located in the old county sherrif’s home / jail in downtown Danville. There’s lot’s of interesting items to see along with the old jail cells, used up until when the current county jail was built in the 1970’s. For more information about the museum check out the web site here:

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Feb 072011

The first settlement of Avon was about the year 1830. It was dense forest everywhere. In small clearings little cabins of round logs sprang up and in a very short time this became a “neighborhood.”

In 1833 the first of many post offices were setup and the area was known as Hampton. Later in 1852 it was called White Lick.

In 1867 a Mr. Smoot ran a store and a headed petition to Washington for a post office but no name was suggested for the new office, so the authorities used the first name on the petition. When the commission, dated April 28, 1868, reached him the listed name was Smootsdell.

When the Indianapolis & St. Louis railroad was being surveyed the man marking the stakes made fun of the name of our post office, and said, “I’ll name the town.” He penciled “New Philadelphia” on a stake and drove it in. When the road was completed the company drove another stake with “Avon” painted on it. The people liked the name and petitioned to have the post office name changed to Avon.

So we really don’t know why Avon came up as a name for the road company but that’s why Avon is the official name now. I do think it has a better ring than Smootsdell (sorry Mr. Smoot).

Information from “The History of Hendricks County” John V. Hadley 1914

Dec 272010

One of those interesting places in Hendricks County that you may not even know about, the Hendricks County Historical Museum is a great place to check out interesting history about the local area. The museum is located in the former Sheriff’s Residence and jail. Built in 1866 at an approximate cost of $30,000, it served as the county jail until 1974. The building is now owned and maintained by the county. The museum is filled with artifacts dating back to 1866 when the Museum served as the Sheriff’s Residence and jail.

Connie and I have recently joined and I will be helping with updates to the web site and photography in the museum. As a local history buff I find all the stuff in there fasinating! The museum is normally open every Saturday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM except for January & February so it is now closed for 2010. During these months certain rooms are chosen for updates and /or remodeling.

The Military Room is slated to be redone in 2011 so I went over the other day and took these pictures of what it looks like now:

The museum reopens March 5th so put that on your calendar to see the latest and greatest of our local history!

Nov 132010
Edison & his light bulb.

Edison & his light bulb.

On a cold night on January 9th, 1896, the switch was thrown in Danville and the streets lit up with electric street lamps. Danville Electric Light Company was the first power company in Hendricks County and that night the snow covered ground reflected the light and lit up the town like never before, even though a section of lights north of Main Street failed to light up.

In addition to the street lights the power company provided power for lights in businesses and more affluent homeowners who could afford the new fangled “light in a bottle”. In March of that year the company ran and ad in the local paper, the Danville Republican, to explain to consumers that they were to turn off the lights during the day as no one had used lights before. Many people thought the power company did that for them (at the time meters were not used as consumers paid a flat monthly fee per light).

Initially most power was provided in towns by smaller local power companies. As the electric interurban and the Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company had commuter train lines in Hendricks County with power plants to drive the electric trains, they often sold excess power to communities as well. Around 1935 a group formed the Hendricks County REMC to provide power under the Rural Electrification Act to those too far from towns to be serviced by local power companies.

Eventually all the private companies were bought and sold and today most of Hendricks County homes and businesses either receives electric power from Duke Energy or Hendricks Power Cooperative (the REMC). And today’s savvy consumers know to turn off those lights to slow down the meter!

Some information in this post from “The History of Hendricks County 1914-1976”.

Sep 252010

logoWhen Indiana was first created in 1819 Hendricks County was all wilderness and inhabited by the Delaware Indians who mainly used it for hunting ground. The Indians had no major trails or villages in the county so they only came and hunted the area and then left. Much of the northern part of the county was swampland so the first settlers found the best area to settle in was the southern sections.

In 1820 many new settlers to the area came from Guilford, North Carolina and settled on White Lick Creek and used the abundant timber to build log cabins. They named the township that was formed in the area Guilford after where they had migrated from. As many of the early settlers were Quakers, they lived a simple life and dressed in rather plain looking clothes.

As more settlers moved into the area, they saw the beauty of the wilderness occupied by the plain people and came up with the name of Plainfield to describe what they saw. Plainfield was first incorporated in 1839 with an election of 42 votes. Later the incorporation charter was given up in favor of township rule. In 1904 Plainfield was again incorporated and has continued to grow as the largest town in Hendricks County.

Sep 132010

Rockwood Today

This landmark in Avon has a long history and is located on 625E just west of Stratford of Avon, this 3 story home has 4800 sq ft of living area plus a large basement.

The History

The 70 acres that belonged to Rockwood were purchased July 30, 1907 for $2,500 by Drs Thomas J. Beasley and Harvey A. Moore who planned to produce the finest treatment for tuberculosis patients which was a serious disease at the time. About 20 physicians and Merchants National Bank in Indianapolis were financial backers of this enterprise as everyone saw this as a breakthrough method of treating TB. At the age of 26, Dr. Beasley was director and president of Rockwood and he was already well-known in the early 1900s for his successful treatment of TB.

Rockwood in the early 1900’s

Patients at Rockwood endured the cold winters living in small unheated cottages with “window sides,” that were opened while patients slept. The idea being the cold fresh air was important to treat the disease. The accepted practice of the time was to send patients to hot, dry, western states and Dr. Beasley as saw this as too outlandish. His idea was to treat patients in the climate in which it was originally contracted and he thought the clean country air in Avon was a perfect place for treatment.

Rockwood produced nearly all its own food and patients were provided full, balanced meals plus extra meals of raw eggs and fruit. All the vegetables, meat, and dairy products including the maple syrup came from the rich farmlands in the “White Lick Valley,” which Rockwood owned. Ice for summer use was cut from Whitelick Creek and stored in sawdust. Charges for a double cottage were $18 a week and $25 a week for a private cottage.

From the Indiana Medical Journal May 1908:
Much can be done by private sanitariums on a small scale. The Rock wood Tuberculosis Sanitarium near Danville Indiana, eighteen miles west of Indianapolis is built upon the bungaloo style posts and a roof with properly adjusted screens. The results have been excellent while the prices are moderate not more than half as much as the cost of a trained nurse and physician. The State Commission would do well to study the method of construction and care taking of the Rockwood sanitarium as an example of the simplicity economy and success of the Bungaloo system.

But all was not well. The initial mortality rate of TB patients at Rockwood was extremely high; 34.9 per cent died in a one-month period. Those statistics couldn’t have helped the sanitarium’s reputation. Around the same time  new drugs and vaccines made recovery quicker and the need for long therapy the sanitarium provided was lessening by 1910. So advances in treatments doomed Rockwood’s success and it closed it’s doors and was sold in 1913 just  6 years after is opened.

After it closed in 1913 Charles and Violet Isaacs purchased the property west of CR 625E which has the original three-story building that was the recreation center and living quarters for Rockwood’s interns, nurses and servants (center of 1900’s photo above). The building was a mess and they lived in the servants quarters while they fixed the home and added the south and north wings of the current home. Most of the cottages were purchased and moved off the property but 2 old outbuildings are still there on what is now a 3 acre lot.

If you would like to find a classic local home give The Derrick Team a call today at 317.563.1110.

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Some information for this post found in “The History of Hendricks County 1914~1976” available for purchase at The Hendricks County Historical Society
Bottom photo from The Hendricks County Historical Society archives.

Aug 262010

The man directly responsible for the naming of the newly incorporated county seat of Hendricks County was Judge William Watson Wick, one of the pioneer jurists of Indiana. He was judge of the Indiana’s fifth circuit covering several counties. Judge Wick was holding court in Hendricks County when the commissioners were discussing what to name the county seat as they considered the incorporation in 1858. The Judge had a brother named Dan and in honor of him he urged the commissioners to adopt the name Danville, which was done.

About the time of the incorporation of Danville the local water was regarded the best in the area with springs of pure water at several locations. One of those springs was even located right in the court house yard. When an election was held in the town some of the voters would get thirsty and depart for the spring in the hollow to get a drink. However, their source of supply was a keg hidden in the bushes alongside the spring.

Makes one wonder if they were heading out to the keg to drink one to Dan, the man their new county seat was named for.

And the name Danville stuck and whether you agree or not, you’ll have to be the Judge…..

This Information from the History of Hendricks County by Hon. John V. Hadley published in 1914

Apr 142010

On August 25th, 1835 a man by the name of William Harris recorded a plat of land under the name of Harrisburgh. This land had been purchased by him and other family members during the early 1830’s. At the time he recorded the plat in Danville, he mostly owned the land to the north of what is now SR 136 and Joshua Harris owned the land to the south side extending west of White Lick Creek.

As William seemed to be determined to develop the area, Joshua sold a portion to William on September 17, 1836 making William the sole owner of the area around what is now SR 136 and Green St. William then divided the area into lots to establish the town center at this point to be known as Harrisburgh. When the first post office was to be setup in the new town, it was determined there was already a town named Harrisburgh in Indiana (that no longer exists) so the town name was changed to Brownsburgh in honor of James B. Brown, the original settler of the area.

In 1848 the town was incorporated and a chairman and 5 trustees were elected to oversee town affairs. Due to reasons not clear this status was lost afterwards until 1893 and the county commissioners revived the status but the “h” was dropped from the name.

So if not for a town that no longer exists, we would be cheering on the Harrisburgh Bulldogs.

This information from a great book, “The Village of Brownsburg” by Peg Kennedy and Frankie Konovsek.

Dec 172009

Old-CourthouseHendricks County will celebrate its 186th birthday on December 20, 2009. The eighth General Assembly of Indiana met at Corydon on the first day of December, 1823, and created three counties before the close of the session, among them being Hendricks, the fifty-first county to be organized in the state. The bill creating the county was introduced in the Senate on December 9th and, after passing both houses of the Legislature, was signed on December 20th by Governor William Hendricks, in whose honor the new county was named. The county had been a part of the so-called New Purchase which was secured from the Indians in the fall of 1818, and, previous to its organization, had been under the civil and criminal jurisdiction of contiguous counties.

In 1823, Indianapolis was a mere village, with a few log cabins and a population not to exceed two hundred. In fact, the whole population of the state did not exceed one hundred and fifty thousand. Not a railroad, canal or improved road of any kind was to be found within the limits of the state and all transportation was confined to the trails through the dense woods and to the streams and rivers flowing into the Ohio and Wabash.

I found this information in a fascinating book: History of Hendricks County Indiana, Her People, Industries and Institutions by The Honorable John V. Hadley published in 1914. It’s hard to imagine what is was like back then with everything one had coming from nothing but hard labor. It’s important to remember the pioneers that started settling this area and to learn the history to appreciate what we have now, a great place to live. You can check it out yourself at this link:

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