Circa 1890's Photo Enhanced by: Robert Manson
|Greene county encompases 522 Square
Eel River was added as a township and then petition to be dissolved Indiana
Over the years the five townships were divided and there are now 15 townships in all: Beech Creek, Cass, Center, Fairplay, Grant, Highland, Jackson, Jefferson, Richland, Taylor; Smith, Stafford, Stockton, Washington, Wright
The original county seat was called Burlington and was located just a few miles north of the present seat, Bloomfield. Land was donated by Thomas Bradford, Frederick Shepherd, and Zebulon Hogue for it and the first county courthouse was built in 1822 and cost $250! The land for the present county seat was donated by Peter VanSlyke, after it was determined that Burlington didn't have enough water to supply the growing population.
The "Indiana Gazetteer," published by E. Chamberlain in 1849 states that -
The present-day courthouse was built in 1885. Unlike a lot of old courthouses, ours has never been a victim of fire, though it has had some problems with water due to bad repair work on the corners of the building. There is also a very severe space problem in the building, which has reached a point of critical mass. It was remodeled in 1954.
With the recent approval of funding for renovating the old county jail, it's hoped that this problem will be rectified and interest in preserving our historic old courthouse will be renewed.
An addition and Remodeling to the courthouse was began in 2002 but has been put on hold in early 2003 because of structural damage occurring during construction. Construction work was resumed in late 2004 and was completion in 2006/2007.
A number of creeks traverse the county and the west fork of the White River flows entirely across it from north to south. The eastern part of the county is of rough and broken surface, averaging 700 feet above sea level. The highest point in Greene county of Cincinnati, a village in Center township, with a altitude of 880 feet above sea level. Eastern county is drained by a number of creek’s flowing into the West fork: Jack’s Creek, Goose Creek, Doan’s Creek and Richland Creek with its tributary, Plummer Creek. The southeastern corner of the county is traversed by Indian and the western potion of the county Latta’s Creek and Eel River with its tributary, Lemon’s Creek flow into the West Fork. Eel River enters that stream at Worthington. Water from the western marshes is discharged into the West Fork through the medium state ditches. Creek, flows in into the East Fork of White River. While the western is mostly rolling prairie and drained marsh land which is quite fertile.
Underlying the entire western section are extensive coal fields. Coal miningis the principle source of income for the county, with agriculture second. The county is noted for its bituminous coal mines. The mines in Stockton and Wright townships have been among the most productive in Indiana. The annual report of the Division of Mines and Mining of Indiana, for the year ending Jun 30, 1937, ranked Greene County sixth among the coal producing counties of the state, with a total of 632,025 tons. At the beginning of the decade of the 1860’s, the vast Coal deposit at the north end of the marshes in Stafford, Stockton and Wright townships was to be opened for deep shaft mining at Island City South of Linton by the Island City Coal Company in 1892 and soon thereafter two civil war veterans Marion Dugger and H. T. Neal who had held county offices, were to open mines in many areas under the name of Dugger & Neal; partners being: F. M. Dugger & H. T. Neal and following the death of H. T. Neal in 1889 his son Elmer E. Neal would carry on as one coal company and F. M. Dugger as another. Added to these would be the names of: Beazley, Sherwood, and Freeman to name a few. The Lyons Coal Company had sunk a shaft to a depth of 38 feet and were in a layer of dark, hard slate. Two miners were employed and had began work in the upper vein and had would work day and night taking out 300 bushels of lump coal every day. Coal of the fine quality could be supplied by the Lyons Coal Company. In 1902, the Jasonville area of mines were opened Some coal is found in the eastern half, but the chief resources are iron ore and minerals.
Greene county ranks second in Indiana "as to extent and value of its iron ore deposits." About 1841 smelting began at the Richland Furnace. A small steamboat ran on the West Fork carrying pig iron and iron ware. After the completion of the Wabash and Erie Canal there were several boats engaged in transporting iron products to southern markets, principally Louisville for $26 a ton, of which $20 went for transportation. In the 1850’s one of the partner’s, Andrew Downing, founded a bank, - Downing’s Bank of Indiana at Richland Furnace. The bank issued about $25,0000 of wildcat currency. In 1858 the merchants of Worthington refused to accept this currency. The smelting company became involved and about 1859 ceased operation. Several unavailing attempts have been made to revive interest in the iron ores of the county.
The Wabash and Erie canal made possible the operation of boats between Toledo, Ohio and Evansville, Indiana. The Greene county section, containing six locks, admitting barges of sixty tons burden, was built in 1849-50. There were boat excursions to Terre Haute in 1850 and by 1851 boats were operating regularly across Greene county. The canal was abandoned generally about 1859 but was occasionally used as late as 1863.
At least eighteen oil wells have been drilled in Washington Township. "Oil sand" was found and a few oil-producing wells were brought in. But most of the well drilled in Greene county were "dry holes". One gas well burned for years with a flame from ten to fifteen feet high, resisting all efforts to plug the hole.
There are many gravel pits in Greene county. Perhaps the largest was developed by Z. P. East at Worthington, beginning in 1906. The West Fork made a huge S curve near that point. East excavated a new channel 2,200 feet in length. The amount of gravel lying between the old bed and the new was estimated at from 80 to 100 acres. This gravel slows the action of water and ice and is probably a deposit from the ice age.
Notable among Greene County agricultural products is its fruit.
Stage routes followed a definite pattern, the most used known as the old Terre Haute Road from Albany and Louisville, Kentucky entered Greene county near the present village of Hobbieville in Center township and followed the ridge northwest on what is now State Road 54 through Ridgeport. From there it descended to Richland Creek and thence to Worthington and on to Terre Haute. One house is still standing, which was once a tavern on the way, the Enoch Stone house east of Ridgeport.
The county is or was traversed by five railroads: the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific; Monon; Big Four; Pennsylvania; and the Illinois Central. There are a number of bus routes and many trucking services. State roads connect the county with the main highways of the state.
Brick is produced at Bloomfield. Other manufactures there include furniture, article flowers, and concrete silos.
In 1883 School property within Greene county was valued at $70,700 and consisted of 134 frame schoolhouses and 9 brick schools houses.
In 1884 Godspeeds printed the county history as a part of their series and contained Sullivan & Greene county; it has been reprinted two times since. In 1909 Bowen & co. published the 3 volume set of Biographical Memoirs; a condensed history and with biographies comprising over two-thirds of the set. In 1989 Taylor Publishing Co. printed another condensed history with biographies under the auspices of the Greene County Historical Society. Over the years as the towns celebrated their Centennials they have published small historical booklets on the towns.
In 1895 a real estate firm composed of three men and possibly some silent partners, put out a forty page brochure advertising Greene county as: "county with nearly thirty thousand population an a total value of taxables of over ten million dollars, Its other merits included one hundred miles of railroad, sixty-five miles of gravel roads, nine coal shafts turning out about 800 cars of coal daily of the very best quality. All of the marsh lands had been drained by steam dredges cutting ditches twenty to forty feet wide, from seven to thirteen feet deep, and some were thirteen miles long, which would produce super crops of corn and other grains, vegetable and hay. Land would sell for $40 to $75 per acre. There was no more ague since the swamps had been drained; no cyclones, no drouths and a crop could be raised every year without exception. Eastern Greene county was well adapted to stock raising and the people were prosperous and happy. Bloomfield was lauded as the county seat with a new court house which cost about $100,000; a good school building and a splendid school system. Worthington was the great grain town, buying and selling more grain than any town on the Indianapolis & Vincennes railroad. Linton was the big mining town with a great business activity on account of the coal business. Lyons was young but progressive and might catch up with the older towns on account of being in the center of the most fertile lands in the world. Apparently they had not anticipated the floods of 1897, 1904 and 1913! The 1895 brochure was published, it would appear, in connection with or by an Indianapolis firm; endorsed by the Hon. E. B. Martindale, owner of the Dennison Hotel in Indianapolis, who had bought 1300 acres and brought the first dredge to the county.
In May 1901 the Bloomfield News put out a sixteen page newspaper of 10,000 copies of a promotional nature of the mercantile and agribusiness in Greene county. Broader in scope, it comprised most every business, Industry or specialized farming operation in Greene county as well as the mining operation, transportation, and banking. Brief sketches of the proprietor’s personnel and business interests and the principal employees of their establishments were given, usually accompanied by a picture of themselves or their business. A short history of the county and churches were included. Other than customary patent medicine ass and railroad Excursions, there was no specific advertising. Rather the inference was anyone’s needs could be supplied through Greene county resources, from the cradle to the grave. The editor under the caption: "One of the Best Counties", said it best: "Nothing that promotes the general good of the county, the happiness or intelligence of the people, has been permitted to dwarf by reason of neglect. So it may well be said, Greene county is one of the best counties in the state." Linton is in the center of the bituminous coal fields and approximately 2.9 miles southwest of the nation's center of population. Jasonville, in the northwest corner of the county, is also located among the coal fields. Worthington is the agricultural center of Greene County.
There are several notable features of Greene County. At Jasonville is located the Shakamak State Park on a beautiful 1,000-acre tract. This park is situated where the county lines of Greene, Clay, and Sullivan meet. In Worthington is the birthplace of the artist, Samuel Richards. Three miles south of this town is a sycamore tree, which is the largest broad-leaved tree in the United States.
According to the 1935 federal census, Greene County had twenty manufacturing establishments employing 425 wage earners on pay rolls totaling $311,856. The value of the products was $1,220,817.
"Indiana Review," published by the State Legislature in 1938 boasted of Greene county:
The county population on July 1, 1999, was 33,157 or 33,158, an increase of 2,748 over the 1990 census. Towns: Bloomfield (county seat, 2,542, 181st largest city in the State); Linton (5,774), Jasonville (2,490), Worthington (1,481), Lyons (748), Switz City (311), Newberry (206)
Population in 2006: 32,157