Troy, Indiana -- In The Past 162 Years!
Written July 22, 1966
The town of Troy on July 22, 23 and 24, 1966, is commemorating its 162nd anniversary and at the same time is observing the State of Indiana's Sesquicentenial with a three-day celebration and homecoming.
Troy's history up to 50 years ago, [as it appears in this booklet,] was taken verbatim from a history compiled from best authorities and written by T. T. Gaesser.
It was used in a program booklet published in 1916 when the Town of Troy joined other cities and towns in the State in celebrating Indiana's Centennial.
In 1803 the Pinkeshaws, an Indian tribe belonging to the Miami Indian Confederacy, held sway over the domain about Troy and Perry County.
As early as 1795 white men had located near Troy, but in 1804 the first authentic white settlers, coming from Virginia and Kentucky, landed at Troy port just above the low land at the confluence of the placid Anderson river and the Ohio. The seagoing schooners and ships and smaller boats found here already, in 1800 and 1801, a good landing place, plenty of wood, etc., and Captain Tarascon named the port Troy. No doubt the presence in this port of an Indian maiden, vividly bringing to mind fair Helen of ancient Troy, had decided the christening. Fair Helen still has sister here, to stir up little wars of old.
In 1807 the United States conveyed 384.60 acres of land, in fractional sections 13 and 14 in Perry County to Walter Taylor, of Dubois county, which land included Troy. Before patent was issued Taylor transferred by assignment his certificate to James McDaniel, to whom patent was issued August 15, 1815. This patent will be found in the records of Spencer county, then a part of Perry. March 22, 1815, 120 acres of fractional section 13 were laid off as and for the town of Troy, Perry County, Indiana. The 120 acres referred to were deeded by James McDaniel, July 8, 1817, to Aquila Huff, as agent of Perry county, and reference therein made to the recorded plat of Troy. Francis Posey laid out the lots and offered same for sale in March, 1815. The tax list in July, 1815 for the county found Abraham Smythe Fulton, owner of 1000 acres of first-class land with a tax charge of $11.25, the largest and James McDaniel of Troy the second largest taxpayers. McDaniel paid $10.88 1/2 taxes on his tavern, four horses and a negro.
Prior to 1812, when Gibson and Warrick counties were created, all the present Perry was a part of Knox county. Warrick was comprised about the limits of Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick, Spencer and Perry.
George Huffman, grandfather of J. Riley Huffman, president of the Troy State Bank, and several brothers came from Lancaster, Pa., down the river in a flat boat and landed at Troy. They laid in a supply of provisions as best they could. On the big hill above Troy they killed two buffalo for meat, then worked their way on to Vincennes, Ind., getting there in the year 1804. About four years later he came back and settled in Hancock county, Ky., and in 1812 he returned to Indiana and settled or entered the most of the land in section 7, township 5 south, and range 3 west. The first taxes he paid were in Perry county, in June, 1815, in Troy. Then in an election held at Troy August 4 he voted. Next vote was cast at an election at Jonathan Greathouse's, in Carter township, in August 1819, then being the north-west corner of Perry county. Perry County then extended west to the range line dividing ranges 5 and 6, thence south to the Ohio river. At that election George Huffman, Thomas Lincoln and other old settlers voted.
In 1814 Perry county was created, and at first included parts of Dubois and Crawford besides about half of Spencer. In 1816 the creation of Spencer County again reduced Perry, but since then no change was made in Perry's soil. And so it will stay until section 15 of the schedule of the 1851 Constitution is made use of, and Troy made the capital of a new county.
The first Monday in April, 1815, found Troy the county seat, the court house being located in the home of James McDaniel Jr., where now the home of Thomas Hill stands.
Troy's First Store
The first store of any consequence was opened by Reuben Bates. He packed pork and flatboated the same, with corn and other farm products, to New Orleans, bringing in return sugar and other store goods to use in barter, money in those days being a scarce article. In the thirties he was still the leading trader and erected the old brick on the Bates hill on north Main Street.
The Lincoln Family
In the fall of 1816 Thomas Lincoln immigrated to Indiana Territory, landing at Troy near the mouth of Anderson River, now the boundary line between the counties of Perry and Spencer. Lincoln's family consisted of four members, viz.: himself, wife, daughter and son. Their personal effects consisted of a horse and cart -- a very poor one -- one milk cow, such household goods and cooking utensils as could be packed in the cart, and one large dog, the latter being considered one of the necessaries. At this time Troy was the county seat of Perry, being also the oldest as well as the largest town in the Pocket except Vincennes. Thos. Lincoln remained at the mouth of the Anderson until the fall of 1817 and during his stay here attended a ferry which was established at a very early day by Judge McDaniel but at that time owned by James Taylor. Here Abraham Lincoln assisted in the ferry transfer, and in 1828 made a trip on a Taylor flatboat to New Orleans.
Early Businesses in Troy
The woodyards of Troy were the goal of all river men. James Taylor was a leading man of old Troy, a porkpacker and flatboatman. He was succeeded by his son, Green B. Taylor, who did a larger business than any man at Troy in the forties. John McDaniel had a store and boated pork and produce. Taylor Basye followed the same line of business. Jacob Protsman kept a tavern. Lawrence Protsman was the town architect and many of the old two-story homes were the monuments of his designs. They have nearly all disappeared; the home now occupied by Cashier Schuell of the Troy State Bank being about the last reminder of old Troy; location is on Harrison street, corner of Market. Captain Isaac Wright, the boatman, was one of the earliest businessmen living to a good old age. Thomas Mason operated an early corncracker, the motor of which was a sweep drawn by horses or cattle. James Willen conducted the tanning business on a large scale. William McKinley was a cabinet maker of the forties and John Boulware an early blacksmith.
The New Orleans
In 1811 the New Orleans, the first boat propelled by steam on the Ohio, made a successful trip from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, stopping at Troy for wood. In 1912 a replica of this boat again made the trip and tarried with the present Trojans for several hours. Abraham Smyth Fulton, a brother to Robert, the inventor, came to Troy and whilst assisting in erecting his residence to be on the highest hill east of Troy proper, was killed by a falling tree. He was the first white man to be interred at the Troy cemetery, a former Indian burial place. All material for the proposed home was left to decay, and all that remains is the name Fulton Hill.
In 1837 Troy was incorporated as a town, being the second community to do so in Perry County. Dr. Robert G. Cotton, resident of Troy and county representative, saw to the enactment. Jacob Protsman, Jas. B. Worthington, Jno. Bristow, John Daniel and John Huff constituted the first board of trustees. In 1859 the first organization having lapsed, the town was re-incorporated with Dr. Magnus Brucker, Cullen C. Cotton, Jacob Daunhaur and W. T. Washer as trustees, David R. Hubbs clerk, treasurer and assessor. On May 4, 1859, the first meeting was held.
In 1838 a charter was granted the Indiana Pottery Co., to manufacture, at Troy, Rockingham and other stoneware. Samuel Casseday, John Bell, William Garvin, of Louisville, and Reuben Bates of Troy were the leading stockholders. Bates gave 160 acres of land adjoining Troy. Owing to various causes the company did not succeed and in 1851 Samuel Wilson and John Sanders under a lease continued the business. In 1860 Samuel Wilson erected a plant of his own on Main street, the present location of the M. A. Eberhard implement shop. In 1863 Benyan Hinchco erected a plant of his own in town and gradually the larger plant disappeared. The seventies saw the last vestige of pottery making at Troy and Troy ware was no more. Several years ago descendants of a family who were here with the pottery company and now owners of a large plant at East Liverpool, Ohio, visited here to see the town in which their grandparents had failed to make good. However none of Henry Clew's descendants have so far found time to seek old Troy.
Physicians and Teachers
Drs. Greathouse, Sugg, Bramel, Cotton, Gage, Bacon and Brucker were the earliest medical practitioners of note in the early days. John P. Dunn, father of Isaac Dunn, was a prominent Trojan and in 1852 was elected State Auditor. He and Wilson Huff, delegate to the constitutional convention convening on the first Monday in October, 1850, were the prime movers for the clause in the State Constitution to allow the forming of a new county with Troy as county seat. Mayhap this day will come. In 1818 a Yankee named Thompson taught school, followed by George Phillips in 1819. Among other early teachers were Solomon Lamb, Aquila Sampson, W. H. Porter, John Daniel and John Litherland. The first schoolhouse was a log structure and stood where the present house now stands. It was erected about 1827, later replaced by another, which was used until 1835, when a one story brick was built, which was in 1871 enlarged by the addition of another room to the first floor and a story added and is still the schoolhouse.
The Civil War
When the war between the States was brewing and came to a climax many Trojans with southern trade and friendships as their guide were, with some other Perry county people, ready to move the dividing line north of Troy. Yet when the first news of the fall of Fort Sumter came, two days later, by the packet Grey Eagle, immediately northern sentiment took the lead and the Union, the Union forever, had the sway. The Troy Artillery was organized and on October 19, fifty-four Trojans departed in their country's behalf on the steamer Eugene for Camp Joe Holt, Jeffersonville. Capt. Cutler and his boys were given a big supper at Eagle Hall on Saturday evening, the 18th. They were mustered in November 21 as Company E, 49th Infantry, Ed. B. Cutler, Capt.; Hiram Evans, 1st Lieut.; Wm. A. Jordan, 2d Lieut. Twenty-five others, recruited by Surgeon Magnus Brucker, had left two weeks earlier. Many more were called in this dire time of need. Great was the suffering of those who remained behind to await news from father or brother or lover. People who complain now of the price of goods, know not whereof they speak. Goods high and the family provider gone, made countless suffering. After the close of the war many of the boys returned; but at the present time only six remain of our boys of 1861, namely: Edward Boulware, Mose Beard, J. R. Huffman, Stephen Eple, C. C. Purcell, J. P. Siscel.
Churches and Fraternal Orders
In 1820 the Methodists had an organization at Troy. About the same year the Baptists had an organization. A Lutheran church was founded in 1860, erecting a small frame building in 1861, which still serves. Although the Catholics had no regular church edifice until 1849, when a brick structure 33 x 48 feet was erected, services were conducted by occasional missionary priests for many years before. Following the erection of the church a cemetery was purchased and later a parsonage erected. Father Bessonies was the first priest to attend Troy regularly and many Troy baptisms will be found recorded at Leopold, the Father's home station in 1843. Father J. Contin erected the first brick church in 1849. As early as 1834, the stations on the Ohio River, Troy included, were visited by Fathers Elisha Durbin and Charles Coomes of Kentucky. In 1881-82 the present brick church was built, with Father Ackerman in charge. He also built the rectory. Since 1898, under Pastor William Wack, a new two-story brick schoolhouse was erected, the interior of the church frescoed and other improvements made. Rev. J. H. Scheefers, who also has added many improvements, is the present rector. At present Troy has well-kept church houses, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Christian and Lutheran.
Troy Lodge No. 256, F.A.M., was organized August 20, 1859, with the following officers: Renus T. Tong, W.M., W. T. Washer, S. W., S. S. Amos, J. W., J.G. Heinzli, Treasurer, William Basye, Secretary, Charles McNutt, J. D., Henry Jordan, Tyler. All have died. They have their own lodge home on Market street. Troy Lodge, K. of P. was organized about 27 years ago. The Castle was destroyed by fire two years ago, St. Pius Branch, C. K. of A., with a membership of ten, is in existence since 1906.
Mines, Factories, Etc.
The Troy coal mines, operated by Bergenroth Bros., were for years a source of great help to Troy, but now coal is imported by rail. The Troy Chair Co., organized 27 years ago, is Troy's most valuable plant now. They make and ship an abundance of chairs to the South. Troy has had brickyards to come and go, distilleries by John M. Howard and Jacob Clemens, breweries by John Voelke and others, but all are things of the past. Troy had the first paper published in the state, namely, "The Gazette". The history writers of late have tried to rob us of that honor, but a few selections from Troy correspondents would prove we have had men here ready to write papers.
The railroad -- Southern -- although a necessary convenience, had reduced Troy's trade by the many new trading stations established. Still we would not be without the railroad, for sometimes we want to get into the world in a hurry.
The Fifty Years Since The Centennial
Troy has seen many changes in the last 50 years. Some landmarks identified in the earlier history have been razed. The railroad no longer carries passengers. The depot which Trojans were afraid would move to Tell City no longer exists. Losses in factories, commercial and retail establishments have made Trojans more intent on improving what remains today.
In the late 1930's Troy lost the locally owned chair factory, but we now have a subsidiary of the Jasper Chair Factory operating in the building which housed the Gaesser Drug Store and Dry Goods Store. Houses now beautify the property on which Backer's Grain Elevator and Flour Mill stood. Many Trojans will recall the proud legend on the tallest structure in Troy, "Capacity 90,000 bushels."
Others will remember the frame Post Office at the corner of Main and Franklin Streets which replaced Captain Daniel's River Front Post Office which had been swept away in the flood of 1881. The new brick Post Office and Community Building has proved an asset to Troy.
The old Nester Hotel building, with its beautiful, hand-cut stone, remains in sad disrepair. Isaac Dunn and Captain Boone, who managed that hotel until the 1937 flood ravaged it, are gone. The Masterson's Hotel was razed after river commerce failed to support it. Older Trojans still speak avidly of the time Troy's Volunteer Fire Department fought the blaze in the Livery Stable beside the old Nester Hotel. What a sight it was to see eight men drawing the pumper to the fire, chased by dogs, children and adult spectators! How the red-coated firemen worked the handles of the pumper in fast rhythm to build up pressure! How the thirsty men appreciated a draught of good Troy Beer or Sarsaparilla after the last spark was extinguished!
Nostalgia and the sense of lost eras come with memories of World War I and the boys who went "Over There." How we cheered them on, and gave them our support buying "Liberty Bonds" in 1917 when John Phillip Sousa's colorful band paraded through town. Yes, time has taken many familiar faces from the scene: Mr. Dugal of Troy High who first taught boys basketball in the lot behind the school, "Uncle Johnny" Meehan, the friendly storekeeper with his thick Irish brogue; and Solomon Salm whose sons followed him into merchandising, establishing the W. H. Salm Tobacco Factory and the Ed Salm Dry Goods Store which held an annual "Cheap Sale." Maybe you bought your "So-Eezy Vacuum Sweeper" from the Salms or at Henry Lindemann's Store. Dannhauer's store, now operated by Mr. Fortwendel, kept a large supply of U.S. Mail Soap which was a dependable dirt getter when chipped into washtubs filled with boiling water. You could buy your Pearline Starch, "Best by Test" at Leingang's Family Store now occupied by Simms' Restaurant.
The closing of the Troy State Bank, returning 80¢ on each dollar invested, came as a shock to a depression ridden community. Many Trojans wondered why the Bank Re-organization Law should claim Troy's class A bank as its victim; but business potential did seem to be dropping. Farmers no longer made Troy their shopping center and river trade had dwindled to almost nothing. In those difficult times Troy lost the Troy Lumber Company and planing mill and many service industries. Yet the Trojans have kept their faith in their God and in themselves.
St. Pius Roman Catholic Church was recently redecorated with all the statues re-painted in lovely colors. A new Methodist Church was built after a fire started by lightning destroyed the antique structure in the 1920's. The Lutheran Church and the Baptist Churches amalgamated with congregations elsewhere. The spirit of Troy is symbolized by the large, floodlit statue, "The Christ of the Ohio" placed on Fulton Hill by Dr. Nicholas James as an inspiration to passing river men.
Concrete sidewalks, electricity, street lights, removal of hulking hills and dilapidated houses, the addition of a modern sewage disposal plant, and the construction of a Civic Building housing our town hall and our fire department and the new Snyder-Hagedorn Funeral Home prove Troy's willingness to improve with the times. Troy boasts the best natural landing for small river craft and many citizens look for the day when this will be improved with an attractive marina. Troy can offer a wide variety of industrial sites which our Chamber of Commerce plans to fill with new factories. Troy's three trailer courts show one way our city can meet the needs of today's traveling public.
Perhaps Troy can capitalize on its Fulton history, its connection with Abe Lincoln and its heritage as an authentic river town. If Troy cold recapture the carefree atmosphere of the days gone by, appealing to tourists with restorations of the Riverside Hotel, the old tavern, and a replica of the Taylor Ferry which Lincoln pulled across the Anderson River, Troy would find itself again a commercial city on every tourist's map.
As Troy invests in itself to build wisely, to use what it has built more profitably, the future -- under God -- will show a blessed increase. Trojans should look up to Camp Koch for Crippled Children. It is on a hill; but the pleasure of sharing success at the top is worth the climb to get there.