Monroe County’s First Deed Recorded in Orange


The clipping noted below, written by Fred Lockwood, was published in an undated, unsourced Bloomington newspaper under a column called “Looking Back.”  It was found in a scrapbook compiled by Lockwood.  The scrapbook is held by the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana. 

The Corps of Canadian Volunteers fought for America in the War of 1812 and subsequently received land grants, some of which were in Indiana including what is now part of Monroe County.   

Because there is no evidence of anyone name Finney in Monroe County census records from 1820 through and including 1850, it seems likely that Finney never settled in Monroe.  Additionally, as there is no deed record in Monroe County reflecting a sale of property by Finney, it is probable that he sold the land purchased from Jackson while the property was still part of Orange County.

The first deed of record in the office of the county recorder is found in Deed Record A which contains all the deeds made in Monroe County and recorded from December 1817 to December 1825.

deedThe first indenture of record was made and recorded on December 5, 1817, when Josiah Jackson of the County of Orange sold to James Finney of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, two quarter sections of land in what is now Van Buren Township, Monroe County, for $1,450.  When this deed was recorded, the land laid in Orange County.  (An act of the general assembly authorized the formation of Monroe County out of Orange County, which act was approved on January 14, 1818.)

Reading over the deed we find that Mr. Jackson was a Canadian volunteer sergeant being in the corps of Canadian volunteers and the two quarter sections of Monroe County land, then Orange County land, were given him by a law then in force allowing soldiers land grants at the time of the James Madison regime.  Mr. Jackson received this land from President Madison on October 26, 1816, and the grant was made a matter of record in the general land office at Washington, D. C. of that date.

W. Goddard of Fleming County, Kentucky, a justice of the peace, made an acknowledgement of the deed and Alex S. Lyle, deputy clerk of the Fleming County court certified the act.

The land conveyed comprised “two quarter sections lying and being in the County of Orange, District of Vincennes, namely the southeast quarter of Section 36, of Township 8 North in Range 2 West, also a northeast quarter of Section 30, 8 North, 2 West.”

Blog by Randi Richardson


Elks Lodge Celebrates 150th Anniversary

According to an article submitted to the Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times and published on February 13, 2018, on the occasion of the lodge’s 150th anniversary, there are more than 1,900 Elks lodges across the country with a total membership of nearly 800,000.  Of that number, 235 members belong to the Bloomington lodge.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) Lodge No. 446 in Bloomington, Monroe County, was instituted on June 16, 1898.  Two years later the organization purchased the “commodious, brick residence of Aaron Rose on South Walnut Street” for the lodge’s new home.  A two-story extension for “amusement rooms” was added in 1905.

As the population of Monroe County grew, so did the Elks membership.  By 1921, they had nearly outgrown their existing home.  With an eye to the future, they purchased the property of Dr. P. C. Holland at Walnut and Seventh Street as a site for a new home.  Unfortunately, it was some years later before they had the money to construct a building.

A committee of the Bloomington Elks members was established in 1928 to put together a prospectus for the proposed new home.  They intended to have a meeting of all Monroe County Elks to decide on just what they wanted in the way of a new club house.  It was expected that $50,000 would be raised at the meeting.  A dozen men had already promised to give from $500 to $1,000.

In the midst of the fundraising, our country fell under a Great Depression from which it took several years to recover.  Meantime, in 1932, a decision was made to remodel their existing home with new paint, new draperies and some new furniture including a new pool table.

It wasn’t until 1938 that the Elks completed the existing building that they yet call home.  Through the years, however, it seemed to have outlived its usefulness and was in need of many expensive updates to make it modern.  For a while there was even talk of razing the building and constructing a new one.  But in 2009 the City Council took the necessary steps to protect the building by having it designated as a historic structure.  Today it is a visible reminder of Bloomington’s heritage.

Blog post by Randi Richardson


Bloomington (IN) Courier, March 13, 1900, p. 1.
Bloomington (IN) Telephone, April 14, 1905, p. 1.
Bloomington (IN) Daily Herald Telephone, May 19, 1921, reprinted in Sands of Time, Bloomington Herald Telephone, May 19, 1971.  (See Reel 12, Local History Microfilm     Collection, Monroe County Public Library)
Bloomington (IN) Telephone, March 28, 1928, p. 1.
Bloomington (IN) Telephone, March 2, 1932, p. 1.
Bloomington o(IN) Herald Telephone, February 24, 1951, p. 11.
Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times, April 20, 2009, pp. A1+.
“Demolition Delay” City of Bloomington Common Council, Legislative Packet, Regular Session, October 21, 2009.
Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times, February 13, 2008, p. B7


An 1854 Valentine

The Monroe County History Center recently received a very special donation from a man in Santa Cruz, CA who had acquired a tub of family documents from a friend. In it was a valentine sent from Bloomington, IN dated February 14, 1854. All information about the couple was learned from the donor with dates and names checked against the records in The quote in the valentine is from a poem by Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802-1838) titled The Basque Girl and Henri Quatre

‘Dear Jane,  The pleasant memories of other days cluster around me. And I fain would be with those whom I have known, now far away. “Oh! Only those whose souls have felt this one idolatry. Can tell how precious is the slightest thing affection gives and hallows! A dead flower will long be kept, remembrancer of looks that made each leaf a treasure.” Yes. Memories harp sends forth harmonious strains when played upon by the fingers of those times.                     -Valentine’



The recipient of the letter is a Miss Sarah Jane Stewart of Putnam County, Indiana. The sender, originally from Ohio, is Joseph A. Smith. What Joseph was doing in Bloomington at that time is unknown but the two were married two years later in Putnam County before moving to Minnesota. In Minnesota he joined the Union Army and fought in the Civil War and later died in Kansas leaving behind his wife and four children.


Blog post by Megan MacDonald

Pioneer Fire Company Established

The clipping noted below, written by Olive Lorraine Cox, was published in an undated, unsourced Bloomington newspaper under a column called “Looking Back.”  It was found in a scrapbook compiled by a man named Fred Lockwood.  The scrapbook is held by the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana.

J. W. Jackson, who is mentioned in the article, is James Jackson who, according to census information, was 29 in 1880 when he was enumerated in Bloomington with his wife, Laura, and two children:  Minnie and Walter.  According to a digital image of the death record at, Walter died in Martinsville on February 24, 1930.  That information helps to date the publication of the article.

Just as today, officials of Bloomington have deemed it necessary to purchase larger and better firefighting equipment.  Good citizens of Bloomington back in 1838 decided that the town must have a fire company.  The city’s present wagons and other equipment would indeed seem wonderful to the brave firefighters of almost a century ago.

An effort was made in 1838 to get a real, up-to-date fire wagon (of the hand pump variety) but the effort failed, chiefly because of lack of money.  But not many years later the enterprise succeeded and an organization was put through—the Pioneer Fire Company.

This organization of progressive citizenry continued its work for several decades before it was discontinued in favor of more modern equipment.  The hand-drawn book and ladder wagon was kept in one corner of the old courthouse along with an array of fire buckets and a hose reel.  Each member of the Pioneer Company paid $1 entrance fee and $.10 a month dues.  However, members of the company were exempt from paying road taxes.

One of the old “Pioneers” was J. W. Jackson who spent many years of his long life in Bloomington as a fireman and who died only a few years ago.  Mr. Jackson, who was a fireman in several other cities as well as in Bloomington, attended more than 3,000 fires in 30 odd years of service.  One daughter and three nephews of Mr. Jackson are living in Bloomington at the present time:  Mrs. Will Duncan, John G., Elmer and Russell Jackson.  Two sons are living, George at Sacramento, Calif., and Albert at Detroit, Mich.  Another son, Walter, died a few weeks ago at Martinsville.

The picture illustrating the story is from the collection of the Monroe County History Center.  It depicts a 1942 fire at the Harris Grand Theatre.

Blog post by Randi Richardson