Rossville Area History

Many of the early settlers to inhabit this area originally came from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia. Rossville was dense wilderness when Solomon Miller settled on Section 20 in what is now known as Ross Township in March, 1828. At that time a tribe of Miami Indians inhabited the area. Their leader was Chief Little Turtle (Meshekunnoghquoh).

Solomon Miller began clearing the land to enable him to begin farming and raise a family. Noah Miller was born on October 21, 1828. Three more men soon followed Solomon in the fall of 1828. Daniel Underwood settled on Section 20 on the Middlefork near the present site of Edna Mills. He built the first mill in the township. Mathias Widner moved from Putnam County and settled on Section 32. He began farming and blacksmithing. Mr. Arthur also settled on Section 20.

Several more settlers soon followed in 1829. Samuel Seawright settled on a farm near the present site of Rossville. A schoolhouse was built on his farm in 1831. Mr. R.E. Baker was the teacher. Mr. Seawright was the owner of the first store in Rossville.

Ross Township was one of the original townships in the county. It was established on May 15, 1830. Ross Township and the Town of Rossville were named after John Ross. He was one of the first associate judges in Clinton County.

A petition was filed on October 22, 1870 to incorporate the town. There were 339 residents at that time. An incorporation election was held on November 5, 1870 with thirty-five votes for and nineteen votes against the incorporation. On December 1, 1870, Rossville became an incorporated town.

The first Town Board meeting was held on January 10, 1871. The Board members were J.F. Witherow, President; James Sheffler and William H. Ulm; Cornelius Scott, Marshal and Assessor; J.W. James, Clerk and Treasurer.

By 1874, Rossville had become a thriving town. The town boasted a newspaper “The Occidental”, three physicians, a barber shop, seven stores, three saddleries, two shoe shops, six blacksmith shops, two wagon manufacturers, two carriage manufacturers, one steam saw and pinning mill, one flour mill, one steam pump factory, two cabinet shops, one butcher shop, one hotel, one livery stable, four churches, five congregations, and three Sabbath Schools.

With the coming of the Monon Railroad, life around Rossville grew even more. The railroad line was completed in 1883 and ran from Indianapolis to Chicago. The Monon Depot was quite busy during this period. With the decline of the railway system in the late 1980’s, the railroad tracks were abandoned in 1991.

The log cabin school has seen many changes over the years from the early beginnings in 1831. Another log school was built in 1833 and was used until around 1840. This was later replaced by a frame structure. It was located near where the present school is located. In 1861, the frame school was replaced by a “Red Brick” building. Additions were added to this structure in 1868 and 1891. As Rossville grew, so did the demands for a larger building. The “Red Brick” building was torn down in the spring of 1903.

Construction of the “White Building” began in the summer of 1903. During this period, a fourth year of curriculum was added to the high school. An annex was later added in 1923.

The third floor of the Rodkey Warehouse was used as the Rossville gym in 1912 and 1913. A frame gym was built in 1914 and later the brick gym was constructed in 1929. The first game to be played in the new gym was in December, 1929.

Construction of an elementary school was begun in the fall of 1956 on land that was purchased from Jake Cheney. With the consolidation of schools from Ross, Owen, and Clay Townships in 1966, Rossville Consolidated School Corporation soon became home to all Rossville area students from grades kindergarten through 12th grade. Classrooms for upper classmen were completed and students were able to begin attending classes in the new building by January, 1968.

A new addition was added to the school in 1999. This addition included a 796-seat auditorium and additional classrooms for the high school.

The Orphans’ Home, located on what is now N. Delphi Rd. east of the cemetery, was opened July 13, 1887. Henry L. and Mary S. Smith, William & Margaret Silverthorn, and Samuel B. and Margaret Fisher deeded the land to the Board of Commissioners of Clinton County to build the home.

When the home opened, there were nine orphans brought to the home. Within two years, over 50 homeless children resided there. Infants through age 16 were accepted at the orphanage. Mrs. Gertrude Marquess was in charge of the home. She also had four assistants to help her to care for the children.

Many of the children who came to live at the orphanage were from homes where one or both parents had died at an early age due to sickness or childbirth. Other children were from deceased soldiers, while others came from homes where the parents were unable to care for them because of hardships.

There was up to 150 orphans housed at the Home during it’s peak. Eventually most were adopted. By June 14, 1893, only four children remained and the decision to close the Home was made. The land was deeded back to George Stengle on September 9, 1896 and was later sold to Mrs. Lucy Chittick on December 19, 1903.

Telephone service to the town was a privately owned toll line to the Frankfort Central. It was built and owned by Dr. Albert H. Coble of Frankfort. The exact date is not known. It was sometime during the years of 1896 and 1897. The terminal was located in Smith and White’s General Store in the Masonic building. Most of the incoming calls required a messenger service.

The Rossville Telephone Company was organized during the early 1900’s. Wilbert L. Wright, known as Luther, was the secretary and collector of telephone rentals. Women were used as operators on the switchboard. The switchboard was moved several times, until it was moved to the present location and the dial system was installed.

The first post office in Rossville was established on July 8, 1879. James Sheffler was the first postmaster. The post office was moved over the years to different business locations. It was on occasion combined with other business enterprises. After Orville E. Steward was appointed postmaster in July of 1920, the office was moved to the Bank Building. It remained at this location until 1969 when the present post office was built.

There have been many changes to the landscape in and around Rossville over the years. Businesses and people have come and gone. Rossville has survived despite several debilitating occurrences such as the fire of 1912, which destroyed seventeen businesses, the devastating flood in the spring of 1913 cut off Rossville from the rest of the county, and a tornado ripped through the town in 1961.

Information for this web page came from various sources. There are several articles located at the Rossville Library. The Rossville Area Centennial book dated July, 1970 contained a wealth of information.

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