History of Washington Township, Noble County, Indiana

Washington Township, Indiana, established in the early 1830s, has a rich and varied history marked by its early settlers, natural landmarks, and community developments. The area, first settled by a man named Roop in 1833, saw its initial growth with the arrival of other settlers by 1836. The township’s landscape, including the notable Roop swamp and the picturesque Tippecanoe River, has long been a hub for wildlife and fishing. Early industries such as sawmills and grist mills contributed to the township’s development, while the first schools and religious institutions laid the groundwork for the community. Significant contributions during the Civil War and World War I, along with the establishment of the Farm Bureau and Home Demonstration units, reflect the township’s spirit of cooperation and resilience.

Washington Township Map, 1893
Washington Township Map, 1893

About the year 1833, a tall dark-complected [sic] man named Roop located in Washington Twp. He did not remain long but moved on to some other locality. On the back part of the Frank Breninger farm and extending on to the Hunt farms is a swamp that bears the name of Roop swamp. At the present time, the swamp has neither been ditched nor cleared and is noted as a nesting place for cranes. Their nests can be seen for quite a distance in the tops of the trees. About two years after Roop settled, others began to appear. In 1836 there were about ten settlers in the Township, and within the next five years, there came in enough to enter all the land.

The first child born in the Township was Mary Prickett, later Mrs. Aaron Metz, born in 1837.

The second child born was Mrs. Robert Luckey, mother of Dr. James Luckey of Wolf Lake.

There were some wild animals such as bear, deer, and wolves, which were troublesome to the settlers.

Hugh Allison built the first sawmill near the outlet of Loon Lake near Ormus. In 1848, Uncle Jakey Rider built a sawmill, run by the water power from a dam in Tippecanoe river at what was known later as Wilmot. In 1855, Mr. Rider built a 2 1/2 story grist mill on the same dam and immediately entered on a prosperous career. It was operated by many different people and stood till a couple of years ago, when it burned. An old landmark gone. When burned it was owned by Mr. James Stump. The beauty of the old waterfall and willow trees has given way to the modern improved road. One beautiful feature of Washington Township is the Tippecanoe river, which enters the Township near the S.E. corner, near Ormus. It passes on through what is known as Smalley Lake, now a popular summer resort and named after a family of old settlers. The river passes on through Baugher Lake, also named for a family of old settlers. It passes on through the dam mentioned before and out of the Township. All of these places are noted for good fishing.

Another interesting feature is the markedness of “The Great Land Divide.” On the George Bouse farm, two lakes can be seen, one finding its way to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River system, and the other through the Tippecanoe, Wabash, and Ohio rivers to the Mississippi River system.

On the Jacob Weigle farm, now owned by Dr. Weigle, numerous mounds were found, the remains of the Mound Builders. Dr. Weigle says the skeletons in these mounds were sitting in an upright position.

The first schools were taught in private homes. Later, small log schoolhouses were built, then frame and brick, and in 1925 the new consolidated school with a community room was built at Washington Center by Mr. Noah Stump as trustee. The first religious society in Washington Township was organized at the residence of John Prickett in 1837. It was Free Will Baptist, but the society did not survive long.

In 1861, the Lutherans built what is known as Salem and for a long time it was the only church in the Township, while there were others near its borders. Among the first members were the families of Jacob Weigle, Cooper, Hindbaugh, Wilson, and others. Later, Mr. James Wilson and Mr. James Bowlby were both active in the Sunday School and church life.

Mr. Wilson used a tuning fork to lead the music before a musical instrument was bought. For many years, Mr. John Ruggles was active at Salem as usher and janitor. Many people contributed to the religious life of the community through the Salem church.

In 1899, “The Church of God” was built at Wilmot. Mr. John Shock, Milo Strombeck, and Sylvester Wilkinson were on the building committee. About the year 1903, a Christian Church was built at Stringtown. Some of the active families were Kilgores, Buckles, Reeds, Wileys, and others. Captain W.N. Voris was a Washington Township man and organized one of the first companies of Noble County to fight in the Civil War.

Washington Township furnished her quota to the World War. “Kaid” Carpenter enlisted and went in what was known as the Rainbow Division and was out the entire war and lived to return home. The women of the Township worked with the Red Cross, doing sewing and knitting for the soldiers. As all business and labor had organized to advance their cause, the farmers felt the need for self-protection, so in 1918 the Farm Bureau was organized in Noble County and Washington Township organized a unit.

And as the women always do, they started in to help. so the H.D. of the Farm Bureau was organized, in 1921, with Ruby Hines as President. The creed of the H.D. is “A Better Home”, knowing that as is the home so is the nation.

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