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Malta Flag Station and Nicholsonville

There are two flag stations in northern Marion Township on the Big Four railroad. The Darwin Flag Station is marked on the Marion Township Map in the 1879 Putnam County Atlas, north of Fillmore. We will discuss that area at a different time. In Section 3 on that map there is marked a Water Tank, and also School No. 2. This area is generally referred to as Malta or the Malta flag station.

A flag station is a designated stopping place along a rail line which typically has no depot and does not have regular stops. A train will stop at a flag station if a passenger requests to be let off, or if a train is flagged down for a passenger requesting to board. Sometimes a flag station is at or near a water tank along the rail line, such as the case here for Malta. There was also a coal dump near the water tank.

The Malta school is mentioned several times in the 1890’s in the local newspapers. If you look at the maps from the 1800’s, such as the Marion Township map in the 1879 Putnam County Atlas, you can see that the Terre Haute and Indianapolis rail road is about a mile south of Malta. According to the history of Marion Township on pages 11 and 12 of the 1879 Putnam County Atlas, there was a community referred to as Nicholsonville, which was platted September 28, 1837 by Carter F. Nicholson, Abraham Wise, Jackson Wise and James Allen. It is further stated that the first store in Marion Township was kept by Alijah Robinson at Nicholsonville about 1845. The first post office was also kept by Mr. Robinson at the same place. It was afterward removed to Fillmore, but, for several years thereafter, retained its original name of Nicholsonville. We can see newspaper advertisements in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s listing a Nicholsonville stop on the Terre Haute and Richmond railroad between Greencastle and Cartersburg.

Page 172 of Weiks 1910 History of Putnam County states: “At Fillmore the following postmasters have served: William Matthews. August 10, 1848; Abijah Robinson, November 19, 1849; H. H. Wilcox, March 19, 1852; Moses T. Bridges, January 21, 1854; John W. Pierson, September 11, 1861; John W. Pierson, December 5, 1861; C. A. Matthews, June 12, 1863; John A. Dicks, September 24, 1864; Thomas J. Siddens, January 18, 1867; Elizabeth Welch, July 10, 1867; Greenberry Prather, September 13, 1871; Elizabeth Nicholson, May 10, 1872; M. A. Brown, June 2, 1873; C. B. McNary, March 4, 1874; M. A. Brann, September 14, 1875; M. H. Reilly, March 21, 1881 ; A. E. Robinson, October 18, 1883; M. H. Reilly, March 7, 1884; Harry McNary, May 25, 1885; Julia E. Robinson, April 29, 1901.”

A newspaper article in the Greencastle Banner on October 24, 1861 indicates the postmaster of Nicholsonville at that time was J. W. Pierson. It is interesting that Weiks lists John W. Pierson as being appointed postmaster of Fillmore on September 11, 1861, then again December 5, 1861, with no one being appointed between those dates. It might be possible that the postmasters up until December 5, 1861 were at Nicholsonville, then on that date the post office was renamed Fillmore, having been moved from Nicholsonville to Fillmore a few years prior. It also appears that this post office actually started at Eberle (which was an early community about a mile north of Fillmore that never really took off), then was moved to Nicholsonville, then to Fillmore.

A notice in the Greencastle Banner Times on June 9, 1892 indicates that Peter K. Duncan had died and his real estate in section 34 of Floyd Township, which is just north of Malta, and lots five and six in the town of Nicholsonville, will be sold. A review of the Marion Township map in the 1879 Atlas indicates there is a cluster of properties in the south half of section three, just south of Malta and northeast of Fillmore. It would appear that this area may have been where Nicholsonville once was. The only thing currently at this location is the small burial ground often referred to as Smythe/Knetzer. The 1966 publication A Journey Through Putnam County History marked Nicholsonville on the north side of the Big Four railroad northeast of Fillmore, in the northeast part of Section 3. But, since Nicholsonville is noted as a stop on the Terre Haute and Richmond railroad (which became the Vandalia, then later the Pennsylvania) and that rail line is a mile south of the Big Four, it appears the 1966 publication either made an error where it marked the location of Nicholsonville, or possibly the community was so large it stretched the mile between the two rail lines. It is also possible that Nicholsonville later became known as Malta. The 1864 Map of Putnam County does not show Nicholsonville at any location. It is also of note that the Big Four rail line is not on the 1864 map, as it did not come through until about 1870.

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