Chapel Hill Established in Polk Township

The clipping noted below, written by Mrs. Wesley Hayse, 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.  The item below was abbreviated from the original, as noted by the ellipsis, and excludes information pertaining to the establishment of Regulators in Polk Township.

The Chapel Hill community, established about 1856 in Section 31, T7N, R1E, of Polk Township, was named for the Chapel Hill Methodist Church. (The location noted in the text below is incomplete as stated.)  In 1860, four years after the establishment of Chapel Hill, John Todd lived with his wife, Elizabeth, and five minor children, in Polk Township.  His occupation was farmer and he owned real estate valued at $3,000 and personal property valued at $1,000.  His post office address was Smithville.  He died on September 14, 1895, and was buried in the Todd Cemetery located in Section 26 of Polk Township.

chapel hill
Chapel Hill is located in Section 31 noted at the bottom left of this 1876 map of Polk Township.

…Polk Township in the southeast part of Monroe County, like Salt Creek Township, had hopes of building a thriving city at one time.  When the township was created in 1849, it was named for James K. Polk, eleventh president of the United States, the nearest village was established at “Todd’s Big Spring” where elections were held in the house of John Todd for several years; the old blacksmith shop was used later.  Will Davis and Samuel Axam [consider Axsom a spelling variant] were the first fence viewers.  Peter Norman was first inspector of elections and Will Davis was the first constable in the township.

David Miller and John Smith decided that the township should be represented by having a metropolis within its lines, so in October 1856 these men, as [land] owners, employed the country surveyor to lay off 27 lots on the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of township North, Range 1 East in Polk Township and named the village “Chapel Hill.”

The hope of establishing a thriving city was soon doomed to disappointment, for after the start was made the infant village was too weak to survive.  Although the village died there still remains near the site one of the most picturesque hills with its steep road blasted and carved through and over the solid rock.

Post by Randi Richardson