Marion Township History

Marion Township lies in the western part of Owen county and dates its origin from September of 1835. The township is in the shape of an exact square and contains 23, 040 acres of land. Lying directly east are the townships of Morgan and La Fayette. Jefferson township is at the southern border and Clay county forms the northern and western boundaries. Upon its original formation, the township was known as Grayson township and the name was changed to Marion by the citizens for reasons unknown.

Pioneer Settlement

Although opened for settlement the same year that Indiana became a state, it was not until about the year 1830 that the first pioneers came into the township. In the year 1824 the first land entry was made by Mordecai Denny, a non resident in Section 1. The following year, land was secured by James Stephens and Willoughby Davis, neither of whom ever became residents. Prior to these dates, the only persons in the area were the occassional hunters and trappers.

Among the earliest settlers was Solomon Landreth from North Carolina in the year 1832 who settled near Marion Mills. Wendell Crouse came about the same time and settled not far from the area of Landreth. Gillum and Willis Reynolds came a little later and settled in the area near Lancaster. Willis was a minister of the United Brethren Church and one of the pioneer preacher of the township.

As early as 1836 the following settlers were living in the township:

Thomas Gilbert, John Lewis and his sons, Zimri and Benjamin, Stewart Coats, Isom Toliver, Joseph Phipps, Clayborne Harris, Benjamin Bass, Philbert Wright and John Fiscus. Gilbert settled in the northwestern part of the township; Lewis located in the northeast corner. Coats came from Ohio and settled near Lancaster; Toliver settled not far from Lancaster. Phipps settled in Section 28 and later sold out to Thomas Duncan and he emigrated west. Harris settled in the eastern part and Bass settled in the eastern part of the township as well. John McNamara came as early as 1836 and was one of the pioneer preachers, his son, O'Brien came the same time and settled with his father in the northern part of the township.

Others who became residents as early as 1837 were: Edward Bass, William Bay, John Houk, Britton Burgess, Samuel Houk, Aaron Wyatt, Robert Chambers and Barney King. During the year 1838 the following persons were added to the population: Manuel Mishler, Patrick Sullivan, J.M. Chambers, Robert Chambers, William Kuschner, Aaron Mitchell, S.G. Taylor, William Sparks, Luke Jennings, David Ferrill, Daniel Spurling, one of the first blacksmiths, and William Sparks. Another prominent citizen in 1839 was John Hulet who was an early day Justice of the Peace.


The Old Baptist Graveyard in the northwest part of the township was set apart for burial sometime prior to 1837 and is the oldest cemetery in the township.

The Lancaster Graveyard was laid out later and was the principal place of burial in the late 1880's. Burger's Graveyard at the Red Brush Church in the western part of the township was first used as a burial place in the late 1860's. Other cemeteries include a small one at Marion Mills and one near the Lutheran church of Lancaster.



Patrick Sullivan purchased from the Government the land now occupied by the town of Lancaster, this was done in the year 1838. Sullivan came to the county about the time he made the purchase and a few years later he secured a post office named for himself, Patricksburg. The nearest settlement at that time was in Clay county, so Mr Sullivan decided that a town would be necessary. So on the 20th day of June 1851, he laid out the village on the northwest quarter of Section 15 and named it Lancaster. The original plat shows eight blocks and thiry nine lots. Prior to the platting of the village, a number of dwellings had already been built on this site and later they became the center of the village. Business men and mechanics were soon attracted to the village and it soon gained the reputation of a prominent trading point for supplies.

Among the first merchants to offer a sale of wares were Kelly and John Baumgartner. They sold goods for five year and later sold to Williams & Rice, who six years later sold to William Royer. Mr Royer kept the business for about twelve years and sold out to a man named Haas. Royer moved for a short time to Franklin township and later returned to Lancaster to run a hotel business.

Other merchants who did business in the village during the early days were Black & Harrison; A.M. Manning; John Travis; Dr. Dean; J.B. Hoffman; and John Hochstetler. A saw mill was built in the south part of town about 1852 by J. Biddle who later sold to Stephen Maegerlein. Mr. Maegerlein built a steam grist mill later. An interest in the mill was purchased by a man named Drake, who in turn sold it to Mr. Jones who in turn sold it to William Royer, mentioned above. Mr Royer ran this mill until about 1880 when he built a new one.

A spoke factory was started in the year 1881 by Silas Harrison, in addition to these, in the late 1880's there were in the village; three saw mills, two planing mills, and one shingle factory. Messrs Craft & Coats were proprietors of a tannery which was started about 1873, it was later purchased by Lewis Geckler.

Other businesses include: Williams & Drake, drugstore; Royer & Haas, general store; Coats & Schmaltz, general store; L. F. Lautenschlager, drug store; Fred Schmaltz and Henry Shepper, grocery stores; Martha Harstine, millinery store, Merrell & Beatty, hardware; Gottlieb Keiser, Mr. Harris, Christopher Weber and Jacob Rentsler, blacksmiths; George Keiser and Christopher Rentsler, wagonmakers; John C McGill and Joseph Zinkler, cabinet makers.

Men who have practiced medicine in the village are: Dr. Hunt; R.B. McAlister; Lewis Red; William Williams; J.B. Hoffman; Robert Black; Samuel Richards, John Williams, John Sloan and L. Mullenix.

The Masonic Lodge # 558 was created on September 17, 1881 with the charter members: E. F. Harold, T. M. Harold, S. C. Phillips, A. Wright and J. A. Ralston.

The Lancaster News, a small advertising sheet was started in 1875 by William Travis who later sold out to Messrs. Rice & Nugent. William Travis later became editor of the Clay City Independent.

The first schoolhouse in Lancaster was a frame building and stood in the east part of town. It was in use until about 1865 when a larger one was built in the northern part of town.

Marion Mills

Marion Mills is a small hamlet in Section 20. It was was named after a mill that was built about 1857 by Henry Fairchilds of Ohio. Mr Fairchilds came from his native state with the highest recommendations and being a minister of the Gospel helped insure the confidence of the community of citizens and they assisted him in building the mill by donating the ground. After the building was underway, it was discovered the Fairchilds in reality was a penniless adventurer, but the citizens went ahead with the mill which turned out to be a valuable acquistion for the community. It was purchased by Perry Cherryholmes before its completion in the year 1864. About the time the mill was completed, a post office was established and named Hausertown, in compliment to George Hauser, the first postmaster who lived near Steubenville.

The post office was later moved to Steubenville and later to the residence of John Hulet near Marion Mills who kept it for several years. It was transferred to Marion Mills sometime prior to 1865, where it has remained. In the spring of 1857, Messrs Long & Baumgartner erected a store building near the mill and carried a stock of general merchandise. They maintained this business for about six years, and then Mr. Baumgartner retired. Mr Baumgartner later built a store and sold goods for about ten years at which time it was sold to Henry Haas, who later sold to M. Rentschler & Son. Mr. Long had continued in business until about 1878 at which time he closed due to financial embarassment.



The village of Steubenville is located in the southeastern part of the township and occupies a part of section 28. It was surveyed in the year 1857 for Henry Wilgus, proprietor and consists of fourteen lots, but few were ever sold or improved. A small grocery store and saloon were started in an early day and later three dram shops were in operation, and the village got the reputation of being a general resort for all the hard characters and thugs in the entire county and was shunned by all respected citizens. As the county improved and more citizens moved into the adjacent lands, the climate of the village became more civil. The plat was finally abandoned and few vestiges of the village remain

St Paul's Lutheran Church of Steubenville was organized by Rev. John Lautenschlager in the year 1856 with about twenty members. A schoolhouse was used by the congregation until about 1858 when a church was built on the land of John Haas.



Denmark is a small rambling villages with a few houses on Lick Creek in the southwestern corner of the township. No plat of the town was ever recorded and the only thing of importance in the town was a store kept by William Harstine in an early day. Mr Harstine was also the postmaster. The village as well as the store had dissappeared by the late 1880's.