An Illustrated History of the State of Indiana
Peale & Co., Publishers Indianapolis, 1875
CHAPTER LIII, Pages 420 - 423 ~ PARKE COUNTY-HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE
PARKE County was organized in 1821, and was
named in honor of Benjamin Parke, the first member of Congress from the
territory. The county contains about four hundred and forty square miles, with a
population of nearly 25,000. The county was first settled in 1818, by John :M.
Doty, who located on Henry's prairie. Judge Joseph Walker settled near where
Numa now is, in Florida township, in 1819. Judge Seybold settled on Big Raccoon,
not far from Bridgeton, in the same year. The mills at Roseville were erected by
Chauncey Rose, Moses Robbins and Andrew Brooks, as early as 1820. When the
county was organized, an Indian reservation was made, running up and down the
Wabash, from the mouth , of Sugar creek to the mouth of Big Raccoon, and about
seven miles in width. Most of this territory was afterwards included in Reserve
township. The last Indian representative who lived on these lands was a half-breed
named Christmas Dozney. John Adams settled in 1820, at the forks of the two
Raccoon creeks, and Judge Steele, now a prominent resident of Terre Haute,
settled at Portland mills in 1821. Moses Hart settled at the same place about
one year before. Judge .Strange and Tobias Miller settled in Raccoon valley, in
1820, as also George and Alexander Kirkpatrick. James Kelsey and Francis Dickson
built Dickson's mills (now Mansfield mills), in 1821. Thomas White and James
Allen were also among the early settlers. Daniel Buchanan settled in the county
in 1822, and Selman Lusk settled at the narrows of Sugar creek in 1821, where he
built a mill and had a post office. John Beard built .mills near the mouth of
Sugar creek, in 1822. In 1821, Perley Mitchell settled in Penn township.
In the year 1825, the friends settled in Penn township. Prominent among them may be mentioned Peyton Wilson, , James Morrison, Solomon Allen, James Pickard and Jeremiah Siler. The Friends added much to the settlement, in the way of industry and thrift. They have now an excellent church and high school at Bloomingdale. The latter is under the supervision of Prof. B. C. Hobbs, who has made it a superior school for the education of boys. Dr. E. Allen was one of the first settlers in Reserve township. His associate pioneers were William Cook and Joseph and Daniel Wolfe. Mr. Cook was father-in-law to Governor Joseph A. Wright.
The first settlers of Wabash township were James and John Laverty, Samuel Hill, Dr. Taylor, Colonel Hays and A. Punteny. Quite a number of the old log cabins of pioneer days are still standing-some that were erected in 1820.
The first county court was held in 1821, at Roseville, and was removed permanently to Rockville, in 1824.
With regard to the soil and productions, we will
remark that Parke is a county of timbered land. Although situated on the very
margin of the great western prairie region, it has, with but the exception of a
few acres, or bottom prairie along the Wabash river, nothing deserving the name
of prairie in the county. Nearly every other variety of soil found in the
northwest is represented in the county. However, for agricultural purposes, the
soil is excellent, and most of the farmers have become wealthy.
The available coal in Parke county belongs to the lower
members of the great western coal field. Measuring from the base of the coal
measures upward, the seams number one and two are the only reliable coal beds in
the county; but these are productive, and sufficient for all practical purposes.
Rockville, the county seat of Parke county, was laid out in
the fall of 1823, and became the permanent county seat in the following year.
Previous to the latter date, the county courts had been held in Roseville and
Armiesburg. " The donors of the land on which Rockville is situated, were
the .first settlers of the town," viz. : Arthur Patterson, Andrew Ray,
Aaron Hand and James B. McCall. Andrew Ray built the .first house, which was a
log cabin, situated on the public square. It was the place of
entertainment for all land " prospectors " in that section of the
country for many years. He also built and conducted the .first hotel in
Rockville, which was opened .first in 1824. Mr. Ray was a careful pioneer, lived
economically, practiced industry, and died in 1872, a wealthy and respectable
citizen of Parke county. The first white child born in Rockville, was James B.
Ray, son of .Andrew Ray, in 1824.
Rockville being situated some distance from the Wabash, and
only accessible over almost impassable roads, it was for many years backward in
its growth and improvements. The first house built expressly for school
purposes, was a small brick structure, north of the old Baptist church, and the
first teacher was a Mr. Patterson. The celebrated Lorenzo Dow preached in
Rockville in 1832, in the woods, on a lot south of the public square. That was a
great day for the infant town. The settlers gathered from far and near to see
and hear the . eccentric preacher. "A man came into the meeting with a
cigar in his mouth, and was peremptorily challenged and ordered to throw it
away." There were some other interesting incidents connected with the
The first church organized in Rockville was by the
Baptists. They held their first meeting in the old county court house.
During the last ten or fifteen years Rockville, and,
indeed, the whole of Parke county, has improved rapidly. The manufacturing and
commercial interest of the former are now full of promise, while the
agricultural prospects of the latter are a source of material comfort to the
farmers. The railroad facilities of Rockville have done considerable to promote
its commercial enterprise, and have been largely instrumental in placing it on a
The educational facilities of Rockville are second to no other town of equal population in the State. The new public school house was begun in the fall of 1872, and finished in January , 1874, at a cost, including grounds, of $36,000. It is a fine three story brick; containing ten rooms, besides the large chapel, or lecture room, and is arranged to accommodate five hundred pupils. Rockville is a pleasant place to reside. The people are intelligent, sociable, and sensible; and the same remark holds good wherever you go in Parke county.