Hancock County had wet, swampy start 2 centuries ago

Dec. 11, 2016, will mark Indiana’s 200th birthday, and what a celebration it will be. The first settlers came into Hancock County about 1818. So what was Hancock County like in the early days?

Hancock County and the surrounding areas of central Indiana were populated with various native peoples before the arrival of settlers. Before true settlement and development could take place, several treaties with Indians gradually cleared the way. The Treaty of St. Mary’s is usually referred to as the point when local land became available for settlement. When the land became available for settlement, a political act to form government was necessary.

The legislature of the 4-year-old State of Indiana divided its portion of the “New Purchase” into the counties of Delaware and Wabash, and present-day Hancock was part of Delaware. The earliest information on the settlement of Hancock County would be found in the archives related to the early Delaware County.

The legislature further divided the area of Delaware County in 1823 by creating Madison County and in its original form included Hancock County. The final adjustment came in 1828 when the northern boundary of Madison County was moved to its current location and Hancock County was created in the southern half of old Madison County.

When Hancock was organized, the area was wet and swampy, and there was about 400 settlers living in the county in 1828. The area was unbroken wilderness with numerous Indians, along with wild deer, rattlesnakes, wolves and other critters.The swamp provided excellent hunting grounds for the Indians.

The first road was the Napoleon Trace, which extended through Blue River, Jackson and Green townships.

In 1814, when Hancock was still part of Madison, nine peaceful Indians were camping along the Fall Creek, and they were ambushed and killed by a band of white men. A trial was held at Pendleton, and they were convicted. This was the first time that whites were prosecuted for killing Indians. The infamous “Massacre at Fall Creek” became a book.

Enough. I have told everything that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.

You can write to Joe Skvarenina at jskvarenina@hotmail.com or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, IN, 46140.