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Title: Town meets needs of residents
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Many changes noted in past 74 years.

Pence - Soon after the turn of the century, this Warren County town had every kind of business needed to sustain a population of about 2,000 persons. Today, the population has dropped to about 200, but the town still meets the needs of the residents.
Those needs have changed greatly over the years, however.
The town was platted in 1902 on 25 acres by Frank R. Pence, who also set aside 15-acres on the south side of the town for the Rossville and Eastern Railroad (later to become the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad). Pence build an elevator by the railroad and house for his family.
In quick succession, a house and blacksmith shop were built by Sam Roberts. The bank building, general store and a house were built for Elmer Putnam and the hardware and implement store and a house went up for James D. Martin. Those and a brick house for Fred Bell were built by George Bell of brick he makde in his factory at nearby Hedrick.

Builds houses

Andy Lutz built most of the early frame houses as well as a hotel for O.W. Fisher and dwellings for those who came later.
It it's first year of existence, Pence gained world-wide fame by being cited in Ripley's Believe It or Not Column for being the smallest town in the United States with a central water system.
At first, most of the water was carried from the deep well at the elevator, but in 1903, Pence developed a water works. The water tower burned in 1912 but was replaced and the town still operates a water system.
Today, Pence little resembles the town it was over 70 years ago. It is the farming center of Jordan Township. Implement dealerships and certified seed companies occupy the center of the town, bounded on the north and south by the churches that have served throughout the history of the town, and surrounded by small homes set in neatly trimmed lawns.
The Methodist Church was organized in 1870 and the present church at the south edge of town was built in 1914. From 1908 to 1910, Rev. O.L. Stewart served as minister. The Stewart name was carried to wider fame by the pastor's son, Albert. Al Stewart was director of choral music at Purdue University for many years until his recent retirement.

Church dedicated

The Pence Church of Christ was dedicated in 1915; an imposing structure that would be 'at home' on a busy street in a metropolis. The congregations of both churches have dropped below the 50 mark in attendance as the farms have grown larger and the population smaller.
Doug Dickey, long-time Warren County minister and now working with the Campus Ministry at Purdue, preached his first sermon in Warren County at the Pence Church of Christ.
Early businesses also included: A blacksmiht shop, brick companies, welding and machine shops, soil service, lumber yards, coal yards and several restaurants.
Also, a bakery, pool halls, two drug stores, two doctors, a jewelry store, a buggy paint shop, furniture store, harness shops and one fo the first "picture shows."
And, a butcher shop, a weekly newspaper "The Pence Herald", hardware stores, implement dealerships and tile ditching companies - as early as 1905.
Much of the cement tile found in the area ditches today was made 70 years ago by the William H. Sebbit Tile Factory which also made the cement blocks found in one dwelling and several store buildings in the town.
The Bank of Pence operated for about 18 years but went under in the 1920's. It was reorganized and moved to Williamsport about 1927 where it became the Citizens State Bank.

General Store

The general store sold clothing, dry goods, shoes, groceries and notions and handled sugar, flour and potatoes in carload lots.
From 1910 to 1955, Pence had a baseball team and it also had the Pence Aces basketball team. The latter played all games away from home and engaged big teams such as the Flying Swedes from Milford and the Harlem Globetrotters.
About 40 years ago, D.L. Martin started raising and selling certified small grain. In 1948, a new cleaning building was built to handle this business. Matt Martin leased the building in 1960 and over the years, this operation has become the largest producer of certified small grains in Warren County. They sell in several states and have shipped some seeds to foreign counties.
Today, Mrs. Vivain Martin divides her time between her large brick home at the north edge of town, her flowers and the family seed business. She classifies her job as 'office help,' but she handles the fork lift with ease as she loads and unloads the large bags of seed.

Nice palce

"Pence is a real nice place to live. We have good roads, good friends, and the privacy that only a small town can give. I just can't imagine living anywhere else. We do have problems though. We are fighting to keep our post office even though the rural mail carrier comes right to town. We feel the post office gives us better identification." Mrs. Martin said.
"Earlier, we were just sure they were going to close the post office, but we all signed peititions and wrote letters to politicians and we have not heard any more talk of it of late," she said.
"We like our town just the way it is," she concluded.

[Date approximate with 1 year]

Date: 6/1/1976
Origin: Wabash Valley News
Author: Louise M. Osgood
Record ID: 00002096
Type: Periodical
Source Archive: Warren County Historical Society
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Pence
Entered By: Margaret J. Fink

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