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Title: West Lebanon
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This town being among the inland towns, and at an early day far from the water-ways and isolated from the outside world, did not have as interesting a history as the river towns, and its early events have largely been lost sight of with the passing of the decades. It was, however, one of the first towns in the county to be laid off, but for many years did not have to exceed a score of families within its borders. It dates its platting from September, 1830, when Ebenezer Purviance, John G. Jemison and Andrew Fleming laid out the town, on portions of sections 13 and 24, township 21, range 9 west.

Sixty-four lots of the usual size were surveyed out and staked off. Outlot B was donated for a meeting house, as was also lot C. The cemetery was provided by setting apart out-lot D. Mr. Jemison had, however, opened a small store in the autumn of 1829 on the site of the old town, with a stock of about eight hundred dollars. The early merchants included Thomas R. Vanmeter, in 1831, Andrew Fleming in 1834, Nathan Horner in 1835, Lyon & Forshay in 1836, and william Farnsworth, who had little else than liquors. In 1837 L. D. Northrup commenced selling goods and in 1839 James M. Dean and Conover & Shaw opened good stores. William Rook in 1841 began selling liquors and groceries. Before the town had begun to run down, until 1843, there was not a store in the place. Later in the forties it began to revive. John Mick was the first man to engage in business after the revival of the place had set in. During the fall of 1846 and spring of 1847 the well-known firm of Warren & Purviance brought in a large general stock of merchandise. A little later Dr. J. Fleming became connected with the commercial interests of the place. At this date Lebanon contained one hundred and fifty population. James Rhodifer was the postmaster, early in the fifties, when the new part of town began to grow.

Train service was established on the Wabash railroad in 1856, and the station was established one mile north from the original town site. Five acres of land were donated for side tracks, etc., which cost the citizens two hundred and twenty-four dollars. John Ruark built the first house at the new town site, about 1855, and in it opened a shoe shop. Charles and Henry Last, James Stevens, George Carithers, Elijah Fleming, John Ross, Cornelius Fleming, John Lowe and a few more constituted the first settlement there. Cornelius Fleming sold goods there in 1857. Dr. Richardson sold the first drugs of the place.

In 1866, a company was organized and incorporated with a capital of six thousand dollars, to build a large steam flouring mill. There were twenty-three stockholders in this company,, who incorporated under the title of West Lebanon Mill Company. The mill was a frame structure, three stories high and forty by fifty feet. It contained three run of stones and did excellent work. Two years later it was sold to Bowers & Burline, and not long there-after was burned down. A large warehouse for handling grain was erected at a cost of two thousand five hundred dollar5s by Dr. Fleming in 1857. Large quantities of grain were bought in the early history of the place. MOrgan Davis bought thousands of bushels annually for a Lafayette firm. For a number of years George Lamb manufactured his own castings for a pump which he patented. It was not until 1869 that the new town was incorporated and named West Lebanon. The name was changed by a vote of the citizens. The first trustees were elected in September, 1869, and they were R. Preble, F. Ross, J. Ward, J. Brown and F. Spinning. S. J. Smith was marshal, P. W. Fleming was treasurer and assessor and W. Y. Fleming was clerk. In 1870-72 when the subject of a new court house was up to the citizens of Warren county, West Lebanon applied for the location of the county seat. Her claims were strong enough to have the matter postponed for more that a year. Her location was more central, and had the citizens of the vicinity been as liberal and enterprising as at Williamsport it would have doubtless have been the county seat today. The population of West Lebanon in 1840 was but about fifteen families-not to exceed twenty. In 1850 it reached 150 persons; in 1860 it had about 300; in 1870 it stood 500 and in 1880, nearly 700, while in 1900 it had dropped to 688 and the last federal census, that of 1910, gives it but 648.

[Page 317-319.]

Date: 1/1/1913
Origin: Past and Present of Fountain and Warren Counties Indiana
Author: Thomas A. Clifton, Editor
Record ID: 00001234
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Entered By: Leslie J. Rice

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