Hartford City was designated as the county seat in 1837, when the county of Blackford was set off from Jay. As usual, there was some difference of opinion at first as to where the capital of the county should be located. Abel Baldwin, the founder of Montpelier, and others in that part of the county, naturally desired the county seat to be located there, and a re-location was ordered, resulting again in fixing it at Hartford. Although Montpelier was laid out a short time previous to Hartford, Licking Township, in which the later is situated, was settled up in advance of the country around Montpelier, and the most of the population was in the southwestern part of the county. The ground upon which Hartford is located was owned by John Hodge, James Russey and John Timble, all of Muncie, and they set aside forty acres for the plat, which was surveyed by John J. Cook. Every alternate lot in the plat was donated to the county, for the purpose of public buildings, and this was a bid made by the proprietors in order to get the county seat located on their land.

In 1839 the county commissioners named the place Hartford, but it having been afterward ascertained that a village of the same name existed elsewhere in the State, that is, in Ohio County, at the suggestion of Mr. S. R. Shelton the word "City" was attached to the name of Blackford County's seat of government; but even yet some confusion in the mails is suffered.

The early acts of the commissioners concerning the county seat, court-house, etc., are recorded in previous pages.

The first merchants of Hartford were William and Jacob Payton, William McKay and F. H. Graham. John M. Marley was the first blacksmith, Elijah Spangler the first tanner, and John Symington the first cabinet maker.

The first frame hotel building was erected about 1843-'44, by William H. Russey, who conducted it as a public house for a number of years. He never kept whiskey for sale.

The first meeting-house was a log structure on the northeast corner of High and Franklin streets erected by the Methodists some time previous to 1845. This year the Presbyterians erected their first church.


This was the year in which Mr. S. R. Shelton located here, and from him the following description of the place, as it then appeared, is obtained: The location of the town being in the track of a pre-historic "windfall," there were nearly as many logs as trees, and the tangled mass was a formidable obstacle to encounter, and the second growth of timber soon began to hide the houses. Instead of paved streets and sidewalks, mere paths from house to house were cut. Mr. Shelton was the first to place a fence around his premises. He and David Branson were carpenters and joiners in partnership, and put up the first two or three frame buildings in the place, and made coffins, cupboards, etc.

Following is a "city directory" of Hartford City in 1842: Jacob Brugh, clerk and recorder of the county; William Payton and F. H. Graham, merchants; S. R. Shelton and David Branson, carpenters and joiners; John Marley, blacksmith and William Turner, - seven families in all, and all occupying logs houses, in the brush of an almost unbroken wilderness. John Symington had been a cabinet-maker here, but soon moved away. Payton afterward moved to Illinois; Graham, who was also a Methodist local preacher, went West; Branson moved away; Burgh remained here until his death, and Mr. Shelton is the only living "land-mark" of that primitive period.

Payton and Graham's log store building was on the lot now occupied by Winters & Gable. They subsequently devoted the building to the business of pork packing, but suffered financial disaster.

Butter and honey then were four cents a pound, and eggs three cents a dozen, while calico and muslin were twenty-five cents a yard, and postage on a letter for 500 miles or less, was also twenty-five cents. Average wages for a day's work being only fifty cents, it required a half a day's work to earn money enough to pay the postage on one letter. Contrast that with the present day, when five to eight minutes' work, at average wages, will earn sufficient to carry a letter from Maine to California, a distance of 3,000 miles, or more!

No whiskey was sold in Hartford City in 1842. The first tannery in Hartford City was erected by George Delong, some time between 1845 and 1850, which afterward became the property of James E. and Washington Ervin.

In Methodism, during those early days, Hartford City belonged to the Marion Circuit, on which were two preachers, one "in charge" and the other "junior," and they preached once a month each, alternating Methodist fashion, every two weeks. Services were held in private houses until the log church was built, before alluded to.

Elder Abraham Buckles was one of the first ministers here of the Missionary Baptist denomination.


Now look on this picture. Hartford City, now with a population of about 1,800, was incorporated as a town under the law in September, 1867. Then names of the officers for several years we are unable to ascertain, but since 1872 the presidents and clerks have been as follows:
Presidents - T. S. Briscoe, 1873; L. O. Edson, 1874; William B. Hart, 1875-'76; J. N. Dowell, 1877-'79; B. A. Van Winkle, 1880; William H. Gable, 1881-'82; R. W. Reasoner, 1883; S. J. Emshwiller, 1883-'84; J. Willman, 1884-'85; Alexander Gable, 1885; Hiram R. Sinclair, 1886-'87.

Clerks - Lewis Willman, 1873; William H. Wheeler, 1874-'77; J. E. Williamson, 1878-'81; Benjamin A. Van Winkle, 1882; Frank G. De Laney, 1883-'84; John A. Bonham, 1884-'87.

Present Officers - Hiram R. Sinclair, President; John A. Bonham, Clerk; Michael Schmidt, Treasurer; George W. Younts, Marshall. Trustees, First Ward, David Kessler; Second Ward, H. R. Sinclair; Third Ward, F. L. Mercer; Fourth Ward, Aaron Groves; Fifth Ward, Jobe McEldowney.

The Board meets the first and third Friday evenings of each month.

Under the auspices of the corporation most walks and streets have been macadamized with good gravel, obtained within a mile of town. Last year, a number of cisterns were built for the use of the first department.

The fire department comprises a good hand engine, purchased in August, 1884, at a great cost of $1,300, also 1,000 feet of hose, and a hook and ladder tackle. Chief of the Fire Department, F. Werner; Secretary, A. Groves; Foreman of the Hose Cart, E. Waters. They occupy the old jail building on the public square, where they have erected a conspicuous tower in which to drain the hose.

The three greatest fires suffered by Hartford City, have been: First, in the autumn of 1871, when the entire row of buildings along the south side of the public square were consumed; secondly, in the fall of 1880 when the west side, from the alley south to Washington street, was burned; and thirdly the very next year, when the corresponding corner on the east side of the square was burned out. These places have since been entirely re-covered with a superior class of business buildings.


In 1873 two banks were started in Hartford City, one by J. V. and James Sweetser and Phillip Matter, which was re-organized by a joint-stock company in 1879, as the Citizens Bank, and continues as such til the present time. The officers at the present are H. B. Smith, President; C. Q. Shull, of Montpelier (where they have a branch), Vice-President; E. M. Stahl, Cashier; S. M. Briscoe, Assistant Cashier. Bank east side of the public square, in a building owned by the company.

The other bank was named Hartford City Bank, was started by a Mr. Bradley, and afterward sold to Ransom & Bro., who failed in 1880, and have since both died.

A wild-cat bank was started in 1857, the period so rife with such institutions throughout the country. The parties issued bank notes and slipped away before redeeming them.

The Hartford City Gas and Oil Company was organized about the first of February, 1887. The enterprising men of the place who led off in gas mining were Fred Campbell, W. B. Cooley, H. B. Smith, I. Cortright and J. H. Dowell. The capital stock of the company was fixed at $25,000, the shares of which were readily sold; and the stockholders elected a board of directors, as follows: J. H. Dowell, President; Isaiah Cortright, Vice President; H. M. Campbell, Secretary; H. B. Smith, Treasurer; B. M. Boyd, W. B. Cooley, William Carroll, Abraham Weiler and S. M. Patterson.

The company commenced drilling immediately, about 100 feet southeast of the east depot, and on the second or third of March there gushed forth a flow of gas yielding about a million cubic feet per day! Thus their first stroke proved a bonanza, and the stockholders are happy. The company are (May, 1887) laying mains throughout the town, are patronized by about seventy-five consumers, and are putting in burners at the rate of fifteen or twenty a day.

During the first part of May, they erected a derrick south of town, on the land of J. P. A. Leonard, preparatory to sinking a second well.

In the history of Jay County, on previous pages, is given a thorough and scientific chapter on the development of the gas interest there, the details of drilling and blasting, the nature and origin of natural gas, the special geology of this region, and all the particulars the inquiring mind might so desire, so far as they can be given and explained by the practical men who are on the ground.


Blackford Lodge, No. 106, A. F. & A.M., began to work under dispensation dated July 18, 1849, with seven members. The charter is dated May 29, 1850, with Joseph C. Maddox as Worshipful Master, Lewis ailey, Senior Warden, and R. Z. Cassel, Junior Warden. The other charter members were A. G. Perkins, J. R. S. Ewing, S. Miller, J. G. Van Horn, J. Schick, U. B. Hull, Josiah Twilbell, Josephus Streeter, D. Fox and T. Cochran.

The present number of member is thirty-four, and the officers, H. B. Smith, Worshipful Master; J. P. A. Leonard, Senior Warden; J. W. Sage, Junior Warden; S. R. Shelton, Secretary; C. R. Cooley, Treasurer; J. H. Rhoades, Senior Deacon; A. T. Knight, Junior Deacon; Elisha Pierce and Theodore Knabe, Stewards; J. P. Willman, Tyler. Lodge meets Wednesday night on or before the full moon and every two weeks thereafter, at Masonic Block, corner of Main and High streets.

Hartford City Lodge, No. 262, I.O.O.F., meets every Monday evening at Odd Fellows Hall, Van Cleve's Opera Block, corner of Washington and High streets. It was instituted July 5, 1866, and the charter was granted November 20 ensuing, the following members: John W. Dungan, William C. Sudwarth, John M. Ruckman, Aaron S, Curry, John Wolford, Nathaniel H. Gable and John F. Pierce. Of this number, Mr. Ruckman is the only one who is a present a member. The following were the officers for the first term, beginning with July, 1866: John F. Pierce, Noble Grand; J. W. Dungan, Vice-Grand; J. M. Ruckman, Record Scribe and Permanent Secretary; John Wolford, Treasurer; W. C. Sudwarth, Right Supporter to Noble Grand; James E. Ervin, Left Supporter to Nobel Grand; Aaron S. Curry, Warden; D. W. Kurtz, Conductor; M. E. Jones, Right Scene Supporter; Lyman Bonham, Left Scene Supporter; Alfred Jackson, Outer Guard; N. H. Gable, Inner Guard; Charles R. Cooley, Right Supporter to Vice-Grand; John Moran, Left Supporter to Vice-Grand.

At present there are sixty members, with the following officers: J. A. Bonham, Nobel Grand;. H. M. Campbell, Vice-Grand; A. W. Frazier, Record Scribe; George W. Marlay, Permanent Secretary; John A. Newbauer, Treasurer; E. M. Stahl, Joseph Burchard and Aaron Groves, Trustees; John W. Moon, Warden; Isaiah Cortright, Conductor; H. R. Sinclair, Inner Guard; Joseph W. Younts, Outer Guard; George W, Amsden, Right Supporter to Noble Grand; Aaron Groves, Left Supporter to Nobel Grand; Ephraim L. Waters, Right Supporter to Vice-Grand; John Clapper, Left Supporter to Vice-Grand. John C. Edens, Right Scene Supporter; Samuel Huggens, Left Scene Supporter.

George W. Younts is representative to the Grand Lodge, with George W, Amsden as alternate. E. M. Stahl is serving his third term as District Deputy Grand Master.

The lodge owns a beautiful and commodious hall in the third story of the Van Cleve Block on the west side of the public square. It has recently purchased some ten acres of ground, an eligible site, on the Maddox farm, on the south side of the pike and about a half-mile east of the town which it will lay out and improve as a cemetery.

Hartford City Encampment, No. 115, I.O.O.F., was organized about 1867. The present membership is about fifty. The following are the officers: J. A. Bonham, Chief Priest; Isaiah Cortright, Senior Warden; R. C. Voss, Junior Warden; Aaron Groves, High Priest; J. A. Newbauer, Scribe; J. M. Schisler, Treasurer. The encampment meets in the Odd Fellows Hall, the second and fourth Fridays of each month.

Blackford Lodge, K. of P., was organized February 14, 1886, with fourteen members, and these officers: H. M. Campbell, Chancellor Commander; E. I. Winters, Vice-Chancellor; F. L. Ervin, Prelate; Samuel M. Briscoe, Keeper of Records and Seals; T. P. Van Winkle, Master of Finance; Abraham Weiler, Master of Exchequer; James Alexander, Master at Arms; William A. Gable, Inner Guard; Frank Hart, Outer Guard.

Present membership numbers thirty-four, and the present officers are, E. I. Winters, Chancellor Commander; S. W. Cantwell, Vice-Chancellor; J. M. Alexander, Past Chancellor; W. S. Brannum, Prelate; W. H. Campbell, Keeper of Records and Seals; William A. Gable, Master of Finance; O. M. Shinn, Master of Exchequer; Ed C. Campbell, Master at Arms; Frank Hart, Inner Guard; William Johnson, Outer Guard. The lodge meets every Thursday evening, at Castle Hall, Van Cleve's Opera Block.

Jacob Stahl Post, No. 227, G.A.R., Department of Indiana. - Meets every Tuesday evening in Odd Fellows hall, Van Cleve's Opera Block, corner Washington and High streets.

The Sons of Temperance flourished at Hartford City about 1850-'54 and perhaps a little afterward, or during the period of their greatest prosperity throughout the nation. They declined in 1856-'57, and in 1857 re-organized, but went down again on 1862-'63. No Daughters of Temperance society was organized but ladies were sometimes admitted as "visitors" at the meetings of the Sons.

The Good Templars were first organized in the fall of 1865, as it were on the ruins of the Sons' organization. Beginning with only ten or twelve members, they increased in number until they reached as high as fifty or sixty. The chiefs were Ezra M. Stahl, Mrs. Maria W. Cook, J. Emery Ervin, John M. Ruckman and others. The society went down in 1871; but was recently revived as follows:

Fidelity Lodge, No. 52, I.O.G.T., was organized July 20, 1886, with about fourteen members, by Mrs. Stone, of Cleveland, Ohio. The number of members has risen to forty-two, and the lodge is in a flourishing condition, meeting every Tuesday evening in their hall in J. H. Dowell's block on Washington street. Present officers: Lora V. Cline, Chief Templar; Emma Sudwarth, Vice Templar; L. J. Hudson, Secretary, Nannie Woodward, Assistant Secretary; M. H. Robbins, Treasurer; M. F. Hudson, Financial Secretary; Lillie D. Cline, Chaplain; Abner Stallsmith, Marshall; Ord Gable, Deputy Marshall; L. G. Knight, Inner Guard; J. Burt Stahl, Outer Guard; Annie Sudwarth, Right-hand Supporter; Hattie M. Hardin, Left-hand Supporter; John M. Rockman, Lodge-Deputy.


Methodist Episcopal. - The Methodists, as before observed, were the first to hold religious services in Hartford City, and they are still the strongest denomination here. The principal ministers who have served them in pastoral relation have been Revs. George W. Bowers, first as presiding elder and then preacher in charge, Barnett, Bradford, Skinner, Bowman, Smith, Stout, John Pierce, Metts, John Lewellen, Sale, Strite, Baker (three years), Herrick, Gillium, Phillips, Norris, and since April, 1887, M. A. Teague. Of course, Hartford City was only an "appointment" in a large circuit for many years, and gradually grew proportionally larger in a smaller circuit until it became a "station," - that is, a congregation to which a pastor devotes his whole time. The principal revivals have been under the ministrations of Revs. Gillum, Metts and Phillips. The present pastor, Mr. Teague, has been a member of the Northern Indiana Conference for the last twenty-eight years.

The present membership of the church is about 250, divided into ten classes, of whom the leaders are Aaron Patterson, W. H. Gable, B. G. Shinn, W. M. Stahl, George P. Ayres, Lora Cline, Mrs. W. M. Stahl, Mrs. T. A. Howell, L. T. Hodge and J. M. Ruckman. Mr. Shinn is also a local preacher. The stewards are L. H. Gable, J. M. Shisler, George W. Hutchinson, D. D. Taylor, E. Pierce, George P. Ayres, T. A. Howell, D. E. Craft, John Cantwell, J. M. Ruckman, D. E. Stallsmith, William Schreel, and Ambrose Ayres. Sunday-school is sustained throughout the year, with an average attendance of 170, and superintended by B. G. Shinn.

The first Methodist church building was a log structure, before referred to, on the northwest corner of High and Franklin streets. The next was a brick building, 35 x 45 feet, erected early in the `50s, just north of where the Van Cleve Block now stands, was abandoned when the present church edifice was completed, sold to other parties, and burned down in the conflagration of 1880 that swept away the corner south of it. The present magnificent edifice on Washington street west of the public square, is 42 x 82 feet in dimensions, erected in 1879, at a cost of about $8,600, and very economically built, material and labor being cheap, at the time. The society has also a significant parsonage, built in 1886, on the northwest corner of Water and Cherry streets.

The Presbyterian Church, of Hartford City was organized by Rev. Samuel N. Steel, December 18, 1843. The following persons composed membership at its organization: George Atkinson, Elijah Spangler, William Taughinbaugh, Abigail Mosley, Lydia Brugh, Nancy A. Spangler, Lydia Taughinbaugh, Jacob Brugh, James Parker, Jacob Emshwiller, George Halkenrath, Elinor Parker and Sarah Dildine. The first seven of these had previously held church connections elsewhere. The remaining six became members on profession of faith at its organization.

George Atkinson was elected and ordained ruling elder, and for six years was the only elder.

Jacob Esmhwilller and William Taughinbaugh were the first trustees.

The church was received under the care of Logansport Presbytery, New School, and remained in that connection till April, 1855, when, after proper steps, it was transferred to the Old School branch of the Presbyterian church and attached to Muncie Presbytery.

During its history the church has had the labors of the following ministers: Rev. Thomas Griffiths, first pastor, for one year; Rev. Thomas Spencer, for two or three years; from 1848 to 1851, Rev. Alexander Martin; from 1851 to 1852, Rev. A. Hawes; from 1852 to 1854, Rev. Philander Anderson; from 1855 to 1857, Rev. J. F. Boyd; from 1858 to 1860, Rev. R. McCullough; from 1861 to 1868, Rev. John A. Campbell; from 1869 to 1872, Rev. William Armstrong; from 1873 to 1874, Rev. W. L. S. Clark; during 1876, Rev. W. H. Hounell; during 1877, Rev. W. W. Eastman; from 1878 to 1882, Rev. D. B. Rogers; during 1883, Rev. P. S. Cook; and since April, 1884, Rev. J. Q. McKeehan.

The church has enjoyed a number of revivals of religion, and during its existence has received a large number of members, but has been constantly depleted by emigration - almost broken up at one time by this cause. The frequent change of pastors has been evil, retarding its growth. During the present pastorate the growth, though not great, has been steady, forty-five having been added to its membership in the three years. This church is in a good healthy condition, with a membership of ninety. The Sabbath school numbers a hundred and fifty, with an average attendance of a hundred and twenty.

The following are the officers at the present time - pastor, Rev. J. Q. McKeehan; elders, George Gable, James McEldowney, Lewis Willman, John Templin, James M. Reasoner and Noah H. Reasoner; deacons, John P. Willman, Stephen C. Runyon, and Chas. A. Elton; trustees, Dr. P. Drayer and Samuel J. Emshwiller; superintendent of Sabbath school, S. J. Enshwiller.

Zion's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Hartford City, dates back to the year 1848, when Rev, I. Hursch, of East Germantown, Indiana, visited the scattered Lutherans in this vicinity and preached for them on the 19th of March. Here the matter rested until the year 1860, when the same minister again made a visit to Hartford City on the 11th of November. During the next two summers Rev. Mr. Hursch preached here regularly every four weeks, in the German and English languages. As yet there was no formal organization. It was only in the year 1866 that an organization was effected by Rev. J. D. Nunemacher, June 9. The officers first elected were - Michael Willman and John Peter Schmidt, elders; Peter Willman and Lewis Cale, deacons; John Frederick, Nicholas Willman and John Schwartzkopf, trustees. At this time the house of worship was built, now occupied by the present congregation.

Rev. Mr. Nunemacher served the congregation four years. For two years the congregation was vacant. The next pastor was Rev. B. F. Schillinger , who served two years, and was followed by Rev. J. B. Schuman, who remained but one year, and was followed by C. H. Mayer, who was pastor four years. The present pastor, Rev. E. J. Schroyer, has been in charge for nearly seven years.

This congregation is in connection with the "Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio and other States," which Synod holds to the confessions of the regular Evangelical Lutheran church as adopted in 1580. The membership is 225 souls, 115 members entitled to communion; forty-nine male members entitled to vote. Services are held the German and English languages alternately. There are forty Sunday-school children. The present officers of the congregation ( in 1887) are - Lewis Cale and John Orth; deacons, Eli Hughes and P. L. Schmidt; trustees Simon Long, Michael Schmidt and Henry J. Schmidt.

The Seventh-Day Adventists were organized in Hartford City December 26, 1883, by Elder J. P. Henderson, with twenty-three members. Local officers - Frederick Ford, elder; and John Sebring, deacon; trustees - Simon Licklider, Theodore Clapper and Henry Clapper. The present number of members is twenty-six, and the officers - Theodore Clapper, elder; and Zebedee Steele, deacon. Sabbath-school is maintained all year, with an average attendance of twenty; Theodore Clapper, superintendent. There have been no resident pastors.

A frame church was built April, 1884, 26 x 36 feet in size, but was burned on the 18th of that month. Another building, frame, 26 x 40 feet in dimensions was completed within a year, at a cost of about $900 and dedicated January 18 1887, by Elder J. P. Henderson.

The Methodist Protestants have an organization in Hartford City, their house of worship being located in West Franklin street. Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p. m. Sundays. Rev. Green, Pastor

The United Brethren Church is also located on West Franklin street, where the society has services at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Prayer-meeting every Tuesday night. Rev. John Utzler, pastor.

St. James' Church, Catholic, is on the corner of Water and Ann streets. Services the second and third Sunday of each month. Father Drogan, pastor.


In Hartford City there are 518 children of school age, for whom is furnished a brick school-house, with seven teachers, besides the superintendent, William Reed, who has been so popular as to maintain his present position eight years. The School Board comprises C. H. Hubbard, President; S. R. Patterson, Secretary and E, M. Stahl, Treasurer.

Outside of Hartford City, in Licking Township, there are 497 children of school age, three brick and nine frame school-houses.

Submitted by Peggy Karol

Deb Murray