Early History of Pendleton
"The Falls" received its first settler when John Rogers arrived on December 29, 1818. He settled a mile and a half east of the Falls on land which still belongs to his descendants. In the spring of 1830, seven more families came to the Falls. The pioneers, who had left their families in Springfield, Ohio, and, after selecting farms, returned to bring them to the Falls. The settlers brought as many of their possessions and household items as they could put in an ox-drawn wagons. The entire area was a wilderness and the new settlers were forced to cut their roads through the woods from New Castle, Indiana, to the new settlement.
Settlers were drawn to the Falls because it provided water power for mills and of the ford on Falls Creek located where the Main Street bridge is now. This ford provided the access by which tradesmen and other travelers from Connor Prairie and other points south could travel to Fort Wayne and other northern points.
In 1824, four white men massacred an Indian family of two braves, three squaws and four children. The men were captured and brought to trial at the McCartney cabin. Three of the men were hanged just north of the Falls. The life of the youngest man was spared by the judge. This event formed the background for Jessamyn West's historic fiction novel, "Massacre at Falls Creek".
When Thomas Pendleton came to The Falls in 1825, there were fifty families living along the creek. In 1830, he laid out the town to which he gave his name. The water power provided by the Falls was important to the early community. Pendleton was an important milling center until 1904 when the last mill burned. There were also a number of sawmills and heading factory operations along the Falls.
The significance of water power was gradually diminished by the emergence of a gas boom around 1900. Pendleton was the home of several glass factories, a tile plant, several other manufacturing facilities and a host of other commercial endeavors. The industrial center of town was moved from the Falls north to the top of the hill where the facilities had good access to the railroad. The beautiful Pendleton Park became a tourist attraction and the Falls were converted to a public swimming facility after the mills were removed.
In 1850, the Indianapolis and Belfountain Railroad was completed to Pendleton. The round trip fare was $8.80 from Pendleton to Buffalo, New York.
The building on the southeast corner of State and Main Streets was razed in May, 1930, to construct a new post office. This building at one time served as the Madison County Courthouse.
On the evening of January 9, 1936, during a Town Board meeting, the Pendleton Town Hall building blew up. The blast occurred when a board member lost his spectacles through a grate over an old cistern. He and the town Marshall climbed down into the cistern and one of them struck a match. A sewer gas explosion followed immediately. Five people were killed and a few injured.
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