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Jenkinsville

Jenkinsville was a community that was platted in the extreme southern part of Section 29 of Warren Township, along the south bank of the Rocky Fork branch of Deer Creek, abutting Cloverdale Township. The area was first settled by Worthington B. Williams, who came from Poughkeepsie, New York, about 1835. Williams ultimately had extensive land holdings in Warren Township. On some of this land about three miles south of Putnamville, John Sinclair and his wife Louisa platted Jenkinsville in 1836, with the faith that their sash type sawmill, which was powered by steam and not dependent on the ebb and flow that plagued water powered mills, would draw enough settlers to become a proper town. But their hope of Jenkinsville becoming a thriving community was not to be.

 

An article on the lost towns in Warren Township written by G. K. Black, Editor of the Banner and published in that paper on May 29, 1928 helps describe Jenkinsville.

 

When Uncle Johnny Sinclair went down into the woods three miles south of Putnamville three-quarters of a century ago and laid out Jenkinsville on the south bank of Rocky Folk, he showed some of the same sort of faith which he had when he preached to early Methodist congregations in the same region. That he sincerely believed in the future of the town is indicated by the existence of a regularly surveyed plat of it. The plat survives, but not the town. On a map of this county, published in 1879, the name Jenkinsville is printed in letters as large as those which designate most local places. The site of Jenkinsville is on a road which is attractive early in the spring when the foliage is just beginning to appear, but especially so in the Indian summer, when the bizarre tones of that season are in evidence.

 

The road is not heavily travelled. In fact, the writer on his first visit, encountered a turtle which was strolling down the center of the highway and which turned on him a hard, yellow eye, seemingly questioning the right of a stranger to be there. Jenkinsville’s site is reached from Putnamville by driving south and refraining from making any turn to the left. Finally, the roadway passes under the high-tension power line of the Wabash Valley Electric company, and there is a small bridge, which spans Rocky Fork. Jenkinsville lay on the south bank of the stream, on the east of the road. An ancient log barn marks the place. Lennox Crawley lives nearby. The boundary line between Warren and Cloverdale township is a short distance south, and, by turning right there, the sightseer passes through some picturesque country. Ultimately, he finds himself again on the National Road, between the State Farm and Manhattan. You can’t miss it!

 

Jenkinsville was located on land that was, earlier, owned by Worthington B. Williams, father of the later Worthington Williams, junior and of Mrs. Gertrude Williamson and Mrs. Mattie Gilmore of Greencastle.  He and his father, Joseph Williams, came from Poughkeepsie, New York, about 1835 and invested heavily in land, the exact acreage of which is not now known. However, it is a common remark around Putnamville that the Williams estate first extended without a break from a line not far south of that town entirely to Mill Creek in Owen county, a distance of not less than ten miles. Worthington B. Williams, senior, was at one time joint owner with a Terre Haute bank of the lower falls at Cataract.

 

But the chief feature of that land was its magnificent timber, and, as early settlers were then burning their black walnut, white oak, poplar and elm, to clear the soil, timber was more of a lability than an asset. Jenkinsville had for its nucleus a sawmill which Uncle John Sinclair built. It was, of course, a primitive plant, judged by late-day standards, but it was in advance of its own day in that it was not dependent upon fluctuating water-flow, but was operated by steam power. The saw itself was of that straight blade kind known as a sash saw, in that the blade was one side of a rectangular frame, the other three sides being of wood. The engine was so coupled to the saw frame that the latter moved up and down through the log, cutting on one stroke only, as does a hand saw, so that one-half of its motion was of the variety known as “lost.” Most of the early saw mills were so equipped. They were slow but were much better than hand work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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