As has been before stated Monroe township can boast of being among the-earliest settled sections of the county. In fact, what is now Monroe, Union and Harrison, then, Honey Creek, was the first settled, unless the, Grindstone settlement was started about the same time, but the earliest record of the latter is 1833. Those who located in what is now Monroe township was Hardin Stone, now an honored resident of Gallatin, who came in 1831, and following closely in the same year, were- Samuel McDow, John Stokes, William Stone. The next year Andrew McHaney, M. Wilson, T. B. Blakely, George Henry, and soon after came B. Osborn, Elijah Foley William Splawn and others. The Stones came from the Carolinas, McHaney from Virginia, and Stokes from Kentucky. There was but little to do in those days but to clear up their farms, and with their trusty rifles see that the supply of meat was up to the wants of the family. They took in a very large quantity of the scare arising from the Black Hawk War in 1831 and 1832. Some of them took their families to a place of safety while others acted as scouts. That and what was called the Heatherly War was all that disturbed the serenity of their early lives. Of course, these early settlers had to tramp from fifty to seventy-five miles to get supplies, by trading deerskins and honey for the necessaries of life. Venison hams and coonskins also came in as an article of cash in a trade. Corn-mills were scarce but logs with holes burned in them were articles of household necessity and about every cabin in the township could boast of at least one. Now and then a hand-mill would put in an appearance and this was a decided improvement on the pestle and mortar machine. Bye and bye, as the settlers increased a horse-mill was erected. The young folks were made happy for somehow the home milling operations were the especial work of that portion of the family, and it was hated by them most gloriously. Sometimes an ambitions youth, who aspired to become a hunter would often want to step out and hunt such noble game as the deer and wild turkey, with now then a bear or wolf for a variety, but John, Thomas, Robert, or Jacob, was told to “put that gun right down in the corner, and go and grind that corn for breakfast” and then all the aspirations of life were taken right out of him and he came down to the cold realities of a pioneer’s life. Such was the unfortunate position of the youths of those early days, but as they had rugged constitutions, and the old man with a hickory withe was also in good health, they grew and lived and even prospered, notwithstanding their hard lot.

This township also enjoyed its part in the Mormon War, but did not suffer as much as Union and some others. The township gradually advanced in settlement and was probably ahead of a good many of its sister townships up to 1860.

Self-Defense

One of those sad and unfortunate affairs wherein death claims a victim took place in this township, at the house of John W. Sawyer, on the night of the general election in 1878. There was a social dance at the residence of Mr. Sawyer and among those who attended were F. M. Wilson (known as “Bud”), and Charles L. Downing. The trouble commenced by Downing claiming the young woman that Wilson had on the floor as his partner and taking her away to a seat. Wilson followed and resented the action by some hard words which were returned by Downing, when Wilson drew his pistol and hit Downing over the head, making a scalp wound. Downing jumped to his feet, drew his pistol, and the firing commenced. Who fired first was not clearly shown in the evidence, but Wilson fired only twice and missed both times. Downing fired four times and two of his shots took effect. One wounded Wilson in his arm; the second he received in his body, passing through him. Wilson started out doors on receiving this last wound, and just before he reached the corner of the house fell and expired.

Those in the house gave the combatants a wide berth, except the young lady; she never flinched, but stood by the side of Downing until it was settled. Downing went and got his horse, and taking the young lady up behind him, took her home. He was arrested on the way, gave bail the next day, stood his trial, and was acquitted on the ground of self-defense. It was an unfortunate affair, for neither of the young men were of a quarrelsome disposition, It was a sad case of too much “hip pocket” at a social gathering.

Back to: Daviess County