Early History of Canton
Prepared by Members of the Canton Home Economics Club
Copyright 1938. The Republican-Leader.
By ARTIE MORRIS CAUBLE
Canton was once a prosperous business village, situated four miles northeast of Salem.
The first permanent white settler of Canton was Alexander Little, who came from Mercer country, Kentucky, in 1807 or 1808 and built a log cabin in Section 11, which was later purchased and occupied by Robert Green Sr.
Roger Thompson came from Kentucky in 1809 and located one-half mile north of Section 1, on the creek just north of Canton. His cabin was built of round logs, 16x18 feet, stick and clay chimney, no windows, except a port hole, and floors made of puncheons.
Arthur Parr came in 1809 and built a cabin in Section 11. This cabin was used as a fort.
Other settlers who came in the next year or two and settled in the immediate neighborhood were John Moore, J. H. Trueblood, Dr. Benjamin Albertson, James McCoskey, Thomas Green and Eli Overman.
Eli Overman was Canton’s founder. In October 1838 he laid out 35 lots on the line running between Sections 11 and 12. In 1850, about the time the town was the most prosperous, Charles Albertson added ten more lots to the original 35 and Mr. Overman added 106 lots more.
The settlement developed rapidly and was first called Greensburg and later sometimes called Egg Harbor, but the town was really named Canton upon the suggestion of John S. Harned Sr., who became the first Postmaster and continued in that capacity for many years. Mr. Harned operated the first store here in the early twenties in a hewed log building that stood on the lot now owned by Jimmie Powell.
Many industries were in a thriving condition here before the railroad missed Canton by passing through Salem and Norris (then called Harristown.)
I believe I have exhausted the subject allotted me namely, “When and by whom was the town of Canton plotted and why it has remained a village.”
There are any number of industries I might mention and probably describe from hearsay, however, but the history of Canton as its development, as it industries, etc., has been assigned to other members, so will refrain from infringing on their right.
Early Day Businesses and Industries
By FERN McCOSKEY STEWART
The business activities of Canton date from about 1830, when stores were built – at different times on corner lots where streets intersect. Only one store building is now standing. Succeeding merchants: Trueblood and Harned; Charles Poole; Dr. Benjamin Albertson; John Wilson; John Parr and later on Parr and Tatlock, Robert Moore, Charles Orrington, Reuben Wilson, who erected a brick two-story building at an early date, which was torn down in 1804. Samuel Slade was also an early merchant and later Gray Brothers, Sip Perdue, John H. Trueblood, R. B. McCoskey, Claud Tatlock, E. W. Cadwell, W. T. Albertson and Brother, Barton Trueblood, Mrs. Anna Wilson Henderson, James Tidwell, James Calvert, Havilla McCoskey and at present Albert Winslow.
Many industries were in a thriving condition here before the railway passed through Salem. James White, Charles Proctor, John McDaniel, and John Anderson were shoemakers. Richard Walpole built and operated a tannery, east of the Canton bridge, and the one just west of this was built later in 1863 by Nixton Morris. Alvin Poore, had a cooper shop; a saddlery was operated by Benjamin White and James Trueblood. Rayford Arnold, Riley Coombs, Willis Carr, Lewis McCoy and A. A. McCoskey had woodwork shops where the woodwork for wagons and buggies were all made my hand. Only one shop now stands which was later used by R. B. McCoskey for painting all kinds of vehicles.
Joseph Faulkner made plows and later formed a partnership with Robert Green and they did a large business in the manufacture of plows, wagons, carriages, and buggies, until their business was ruined by a destructive fire.
James Faulkner and Warren Wilson also conducted smith and wagon ships for several years. Later blacksmiths were Robert Green Sr., Robert Green Jr., Baxter McCoskey, Sidney Robbins, Robert Clegg, and at present Earl Sease, who also grinds feed for the farmers.
John Mills was the first cabinet-maker, and was succeeded by Berry Christy, a colored man. Oliver Albertson built up one of the largest nurseries in the state, just west of Canton on the farm now owned by Osborn Spurgeon. He was succeeded by Hobbs & Green, when he went to Bridgeport, Indian, where he established another large nursery now one of the leading nurseries in the United States and still owned and operated by Oliver Albertson’s descendants. Albert Albertson and Jefferson Mead were later engaged quite extensively in the nursery business. Young boys were employed as helpers in this work and R. B. McCoskey, who is now Canton’s oldest life long citizen, began working in these nurseries when about eleven years old.
In 1820 Green & Overman built a horse-mill, the grinding being done with home-made burrs in the upper story, while the horse, sweep and drive-wheel occupied the lower room. A canning factory was built on the creek north of Canton in 1903 and operated four years, when it was removed to Salem.
We gathered some meager information about an old tavern in the very early days of Canton, being located in the field owned by Cleatis Fultz, and located just across from the home of Mrs. Artie Cauble. Mrs. William Berkey states this was a long, low building and the Brooks family spent their first night in Indiana in this tavern. At the time her mother, the late Mr. E. Hicks Trueblood, was a baby about one year old.
The Brooks family traveled overland from Pennsylvania.
In February 1875, the town suffered a large fire, which destroyed much valuable property. Gray Brothers, were the heaviest losers, their store and contents being valued at ten thousand dollars.
The old-time coverlids were at one time woven in Canton by people by the name of Cregg on the U. P. Anderson farm. They were also woven at property now owned by Tom Jones by two brothers named Young. Mrs. Verle Trueblood has a coverlid woven in 1853 by them. Mrs. Earl Sease has a cover woven by Earl Sease’s grandmother.
John S. Harned Sr., the first postmaster, was followed by John Randolph, Henry Dosh, John Anderson, Charles Albertson, John H. Trueblood, J. F. Sawtelle, John Dennany and O. A. Tatlock, who continued in office until the rural free delivery supplanted the post office at Canton. Post office days were Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Daily mail has been carried by Otis Shields, Albert Wright, Roy Watts and Richard Newlon.
In addition to all this work, the farmers of the community employed many laborers. Very little farm machinery was in operation and work was all done by hand. Wheat was cut with an implement called a cradle, and when the binder was invented the old method was discontinued. Many people then feared that there would be little work to be done any more.
So we see that in its early history, Canton was a lively little town and had the railway not passed through it we might now have a large, prosperous town or small city! After the coming of the railway through Salem, the business gradually declined as all industries moved to larger towns, leaving Canton only the memory of busier but not happier days. The residents are now occupied on small farms or have work in nearby towns and with all modern inventions made available by good roads, automobiles and electricity, the inhabitants can enjoy some of the conveniences of a city without its smoke, noise and heat.
(To be Continued)
Published in U S Legacies Magazine in November 2003