Westland

Westland was a small community on the Old National Road located about one mile east of the intersection of the current U. S. 231 and U. S. 40. The town was platted by H. W. West in 1841 and is shown on the old maps, but it never took off like some nearby communities. Two summaries of this town were included in the local newspapers.

The Daily Banner on May 29, 1928 described Westland as it once was.

Warren township had another hamlet that the grim reaper reaped before it was really ripe for the harvest. That was Westland. Correspondence which frequently appears in this paper is thus headed, even now, but in this day, it refers only to the neighborhood of which Westland was once the center. Westland’s location is on the National Road, at the intersection formed by the first county road from the south, approximately one mile east of State road 43. The landmark is a brick house which unblushingly admits is a hundred years of age and which could well accomplish another half-century, with a little face-lifting and such. The present owner of the property is J. W. Herod and Alfred Grimes lives on it, but the name of Thomas McCarty is indelibly fixed upon it because it was he who built the house, in 1826. During the construction, his four-year-old son, John, fell off the uncompleted house but lived, and became the grandfather of Ed Brockway of Greencastle. There are other members of the family, in other places. Thomas McCarty came here from Tennessee. The house is a good specimen of substantial residence construction of a hundred years ago, having its gable line parallel with the highway, with small windows, and, most interesting to visitors, four big fireplaces, two on the ground floor and two in rooms above. This old McCarty home was a religious and social center through decades. Being located on the National Road, it was operated as a hotel, known in the early days as a tavern, and it is tradition that Abraham Lincoln stopped there, on one of his journeys, possibly while he was in Congress, before the Vandalia railroad was completed which was in 1852. Early Methodists found the McCarty home to be a hospitable place, and there they gathered for camp meetings of several days’ duration. Beef was barbecued before fires out in the open, and vast quantities of it, with bread and gravy, were consumed while the cause of religion was being advanced.

In Westland, at one time, were two blacksmith shops, a small store, a school house, and several residences, all of which have disappeared except the old McCarty home, the frame building on the north side of the road and another a short distance east. The town-site was platted, and every opportunity was given the hamlet to become a town, hut it failed. Mt. Meridian on the east and Putnamville on the west absorbed its vitality.

(This article is one of the series, dealing with early Putnam County history, prepared by G. K. Black.— Editor of the Banner.)

The Banner Graphic on October 23, 1974 has an article entitled “Warren Township’s Westland Became Ghost Town on U.S. 40.”

When Westland was formed in northeast Warren Township, it seemingly had the advantages to become a town of some significance since it was on the main thoroughfare from east to west and Putnam County was an area on the way up. Some 40 years later, however, what H. E. West had hoped in 1841 to form into a

town had been reduced to a non-business community. The store, post office and

school were no longer there. Its one reason to be remembered, by the old-timers

at least, was the fact that three representatives to the State Legislature had hailed

from Westland. Commenting on the demise of Westland, an article in an 1879 Atlas read: “A few houses in close proximity on either side of the National Road are the only indications left to remind the passer-by of its former existence.”

Among the natural assets of Warren Township is an abundance of limestone,

which early quarry operators predicted would last forever. Others a little more conservative said it would last as long as granite and a scientific appraisal reported that the composition was comparable to English Firestone. Two potteries also once did a thriving business in the township.

In 1823. the Deer Creek Primitive Baptist Church was founded and continuous

workshop has been held there since that time. The present church structure has been standing since 1867. In 1834, the Presbyterians built a brick church in Putnamville, but 15 years later, the congregation split. The “New' School” group put up a frame structure, while those of the “Old School” remained in the brick building until it was sold to the Methodists, who had been worshipping in the area since 1829.

Two miles east of Putnamville was the Bethel Methodist Church, which started in

1835 and closed in 1903. A Christian Church began in Putnamville in 1871 but

closed in 1916. Other early churches included the Shakers south of Putnamville

and an unnamed Methodist Church in the northeast corner of the township.

While many clergymen of note preached in Warren Township churches, mention

will be made of two who served in the early years. Rev. Reuben Clearwaters

came in 1822 and is said to be the first to preach in Putnam County. Rev. Ransom

Hawley, a Presbyterian minister, served Putnamville congregations for 24 years and he was in demand for funerals and weddings for many years afterwards. His stature in the pulpit and in the community were lauded in the 1879 atlas. The

account read: “He is now in his 77th year, but owing to his regular habits in life, is

well preserved and rather vigorous for one of his age. His anxiety to do all he can

to advance the interests of the church and to ameliorate the condition of humanity is unabated. On account of his goodness, uprightness and paternal' solicitude for the welfare of all, he is familiarly known as ‘Father Hawley’”

Early schools of Warren Township bore such names as Cradick, Scrabble, Crossroads, Hill, Sellers and Stringtown, to name but a few. Warren Township first landowner was Bereford Robinson, who filed his entry July 7, 1821.

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