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New Maysville - Part 1

New Maysville was an early thriving community in sections 27 and 34 of Jackson Township, which is in Northeastern Putnam County. The history of this community is so vast, this will be split between two parts. Check back in a few days for part 2. A review of Malcom Romine’s recently released book on New Maysville is available at the Putnam County Museum and is a great resource. I am going to also list some sources at the end of this article which one can obtain online from the Hoosier State Chronicles, some of which predate the 1879 history of Putnam County and were almost certainly used as source materials for that publication.

New Maysville was platted June 22, 1832 by Richard Biddle on land owned by Orthaniel Talbott, John Johnston, William Welsh and Aquilla Talbott, as documented in Plat Book No. 1, pages 90 and 91 at the County Recorder’s office. Various source documents indicate it was named after Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky. Richard Biddle was born 1803 in Kentucky, probably in Bourbon County, and died in 1888. His father, also named Richard, served in Revolutionary War.

The 1879 Historical Atlas of Putnam County tells us John S. Talbott opened the first store in 1832. He commenced selling goods in a two-story log building in Section 27. Later, the building was weather boarded, giving it the appearance of a frame building, a common practice in the old days. Bruce Mills ran the post office in the southwest corner of the store. There was a barber shop on the east side of the store and the Odd Fellows Lodge was in the huge room upstairs. About the time Mr. Talbott opened his grocery store, Joseph Hillis established the first mill on nearby Walnut Creek providing the village with a badly needed service, grinding both corn and wheat.

Delbert and Joyce Turner purchased this store in 1955 from Mr. and Mrs. John Forney. Husband Delbert was a welder, and Joyce operated the story by herself until her death in 2001. The building is still standing, a testament to the construction skills of the master builders almost two centuries ago. An article in the Greencastle Banner Graphic dated January 16, 1977 noted it was the 2nd oldest store in the state under continuous operation at that time.

I grew up not far from there and have fond memories of the store, which locals called the New Maysville Mall. It would almost seem that one was entering a museum even at that time in the 1960’s and 1970’s. You walked across the weather-beaten wooden floors to the service counter, where there was a massive 1880 hand cranked cash register, which was seldom used as most of the patrons were local credit customers. Joyce had a unique accounting system, consisting of a neat stack of panels of cigarette cartons she had cut up, using the blank side of each for the transactions of each family. When a parent would come in to pay down on their credit account. Joyce would pull that family’s card from her neat stack and show the parent how much and what kind of junk food the kids were eating. Of which there was a large selection in the glass display case which took up the majority of the counter space. For one’s decadence there was a large assortment of every candy bar made at that time, Bazooka bubble gum of which one would want to buy as many as possible to obtain a full set of trading cards of that person’s favorite sports team, ice cream sandwiches in the nearby cooler, and oh I am making myself hungry so I should stop. All of which would be washed down by an Orange Nehi, Dad’s Root Beer, or some other exotic beverage from the ice cooled metal chest with the bottle opener attached with a trusty chain. The walls contained original, but faded, posters from the second great war, imploring customers to buy War Bonds or join the good fight which had been settled a full generation prior.

Joyce had the lowest prices anywhere on a large selection of work clothes and other goods. One could loiter in her comfortable lounge chairs strategically situated in the middle of the store, where yet another important item would catch the eye of the patron before leaving. Her easy-going style made her prone to burglaries of which there were two or three. One of these heists was made by a pair of local boys who clearly did not plan their strategy very well, as the law enforcement upon their arrival merely had to trace the tracks of the wayward youth in the new-fallen snow to their hideout.

An 1864 business directory of New Maysville lists two general stores, one of which was operated by Turner and Bell. The directory also lists a tin shop, but there was no mention of a blacksmith being in the village at that time. In 1864 both Dr. William Long and his son Dr. Robert W. Long were listed as practicing physicians. Joyce Turner, a long-time owner of Turner’s grocery store in the 20th century, has written that on the west side of her store was a hotel operated by Dr. Long.

Speaking of blacksmiths, I have fond memories of Clarence “Windy” Ward and his wife, who both lived to be very old. He was aptly named as he had a great gift for gab, barely letting a listener get a word in edgewise. He had an old-time blacksmith shop at the east end of town, no longer shoeing horses, but rather grinding and forging metal and making just about any tool the local farmers might need with great skill. All the while swearing loudly (he had lost most of his hearing by this time) and spitting tobacco juice through his assortment of remaining teeth without the need to open his mouth, but rather merely parting his large protruding lips.

A post office was established in the village in 1834. Postmasters at New Maysville were: John S. Talbot, June 14, 1834; William Long, November 27, 1839; John B. Mayhall, November 9, 1841; John H. Johnston, October 24, 1844; Jesse Kendall, July 6, 1846; John H. Roberts, October 20, 1853; B. F. Mills, April 8, 1854; Robert C. Boyd, December 29, 1854; William W. Epperson, December 18, 1856; Jesse Kendall, April 7, 1859; John W. Sutherland, August 1, 1879; William E. Wendling, April 27, 1885; Leonidas Bruce Mills, May 3, 1889; Levi T. Buchanan, May 15, 1893; Leonidas Bruce Mills, April 9, 1897. The post office was discontinued, and mail sent to Roachdale on August 30, 1919.

A plat map in the 1879 Atlas shows three churches in New Maysville. The schoolhouse was on the east side of town and on the south side of main street. The post office was located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Main and Cross Streets. The Baptist Church was on the second lot south of the Post Office. This old church building still stands today. The Methodists were the first denomination to erect a church building, Shiloh Church, in the area in 1834. The church was located not in New Maysville, but on the banks of nearby Walnut Creek.

The Baptists built what is believed to be the first church in the New Maysville area soon after the town was laid out in 1832. At some time, this congregation constructed a church building called the Friendship Baptist Church, which was located at the southwest corner of the intersection of the current U. S. Highway 236 and County Road 650E, as can be seen in the view of Jackson Township in the 1897 Atlas. A Christian Church was organized in New Maysville in 1839 and a church was built in 1840. In 1856, the Christian Church erected another church building, replacing the original building which had burned down.

The Methodists dedicated their newly erected church building in June of 1866, and its location was near the center of the village on the lot east of the old post office location, now a vacant lot. The Reformed Christian Church building is still standing east of the old “Turner grocery store,” and has been reorganized as the New Maysville Community Church. Reports handed down through the years are that the churches held revivals two or three times a year into the 1930’s and the Baptists into the 1950’s.

New Maysville had a school, but it is unknown when the first school building was erected. The Greencastle Star Press reported in its July 28, 1894 edition that the old school at New Maysville had burned. A new brick building was built in the same year to replace the old school. The school was controlled by a school board of three trustees and the building was located on the eastern side of the village. In 1887, children attended school for one hundred and twenty days, and the male and female teachers were all paid at the same rate. The school had a four-year high school from 1900 to about 1912. Then the four-year course was cut to a three-year accredited high school until 1925. New Maysville High School classes were combined with the elementary classes in 1916 to 1918 with high school teachers also teaching some elementary subjects.

During the early 1920’s when the New Maysville High School program was an accredited three-year course, the seventh and eighth grades were included with the three-year secondary classes. In 1925, the township closed the high school and began to bus the high school students to Bainbridge. This left one hundred twenty-seven pupils in the first eight grades at the New Maysville school. The brick building had two rooms on the first floor: Grades 1 – 3 were in one room, grades 4 – 6 were in the other first floor room. Grades 7 and 8 were in the upstairs room. The grade school was closed in 1943 and all the New Maysville school children were bused to Bainbridge. The brick building was sold in 1974 and was torn down with the bricks being salvaged. Shortly after that time, a home was constructed on the grounds of the old school.

An important event in New Maysville was the old timer’s picnic, held annually beginning about 1905 at the grove of Lloyd Summers one mile south of town on the third Wednesday in August. This was a huge event, with many bringing a basket dinner and spending all day. The elderly of the community still remembers the airplane rides which began to appear at the picnic in the 1920’s. The rides were quite popular and were 75 cents per ride. The airplanes would land and take-off in the field on the south side of the road from the picnic area and attracted huge crowds. The New Maysville Picnic continued until about the late 1930’s.

The community was proud of the fact there never had been a saloon in the town, and that there had never been a local resident in the county jail nor the state penitentiary as of 1910.

There were two lodges in New Maysville in the 1800’s; the Odd Fellows Lodge No. 374 and the Good Templars. The Modern Woodsmen of America lodge was organized in New Maysville later.

Additional Sources:

Greencastle Banner_1866-05-24_03_Methodist Church Dedication

Greencastle Banner_1871-05-25_02_Thomas Long Death

Greencastle Banner_1877-03-15_01_Very Good Early History

The Greencastle Star_1880-05-22_01_Dr Long Death

The Greencastle Star_1880-10-30_07_Early History Northern Putnam County

Greencastle Banner and Times_1891-10-15_01_Hannah Murders

Greencastle Star Press_1894-08-04_08-New School to Be Built

Greencastle Herald_1910-05-23_04_92-Year-Old Jesse Eggers Makes Annual Trip to Danville

Be sure to check back in a few days to learn more facts about the community and the interesting people who lived there.

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