Indian township, is rolling, wooded and contains
prairie, with beautiful landscapes as well as rich farmland. Numerous streams
supply more than ample water, the biggest being Indian Creek for whom the
township is named. The area is sparsely populated, with Estes, Farmer and New
Harmony the only towns in the township. Perhaps the most distinctive residents
of Indian township are the Amish who in the 1940's began settling in fairly
large numbers on the south and western parts of the township. Even into the
1980's, they have strictly retained their heritage and travel only by horse and
buggy, live without electricity or plumbing, dress in traditional Amish styles,
wearing bonnets and somber colors, and educate their children at their own
schools. They live in harmony with their more "modern" Pike County
neighbors, however, and are often seen traveling about and shopping in Bowling
Indian township, was carved out of Cuivre township on May 4, 1842, but the first settlers arrived in the area some 20 years before that. The first town in Indian township was known as Upper St. Louis (now known as New Harmony). It was situated on the old Marshall Royalty farm, now owned and occupied by George and Pauline Kelch. It consisted of a shanty used as a store, a blacksmith shop and a tread mill for grinding corn. A. & M. S. Branstetter were proprietors of Upper St. Louis. In 1883 they stated there was a little danger of confounding it with (lower) St. Louis, since every vestige of the "upper" city had entirely disappeared. While no large towns ever grew out of this area, its population has made its mark on the county's history just the same. Other towns were Estes, Farmer/Vannoy Mill and New Harmony.
The town of Estes was in its prime in approximately 1875. Named for the man, who operated a general store and post office there, the town had only seven inhabitants by the early 1900's. In its early history, the town had a blacksmith shop, school, nearby churches and a post office, which operated from 1887 until 1904 when mail was delivered tri-weekly. Estes is located in southern Indian Township, but all that is left to mark its place is a combination gas station/general store and a Presbyterian Church.
When Estes was first started it was one and three fourths miles east of where it now stands. John Francis Marion Farmer built and ran a general store on the corner of his farm at the cross roads. It was doing good business in 1875. It was named Estes after a man by the name of V. M. (Mott) Estes, who owned land across the road east of the store and lived where Howard Oberman now lives (1997) down by Indian Creek. A blacksmith shop was built across the road north of the store, run by Ed Collins. Both store and shop did a good business for many years.
When Mr. Farmer retired, the post office was moved to the store, where Estes now stands, so did the name Estes. Where Estes now stands, the land was entered by Samuel L. Kilby in 1850.
Robert J. Trower bought the land in 1866 and built the first store. Mr. Trower ran the store for several years with the help of Ed Kilby. In 1902 it was sold to James Collins. In 1903 the store building burned. Mr. Collins built a new store and dwelling house which are both standing at the present time. The store has changed hands 15 times: Robert J. Trower, 18665; James Collins, 1902; James L. Scott (was run by Clinton Hobbs), 1911; George Beedle, 1912; Walter Goodman, 1915; Clarence Brown, 1928; Willie Griffith March, 1929; Walter Morris, June, 1929; Ray Ingram, 1935; George Smith, 19209; Walter C. Smith, 1930; Glenn W. Holland, 1943; Roy E. Glidwell, 1945; Charlie Leonard, 1947 and Francis McCurdy, 1975.
In between the two places where Estes was, this happened: In the early 90s Mr. James E. Roadman (that is 1890's) built a store on the corner of his land where Route M runs into Route Y now. Mr. Roadman ran the store for a number of years. He then rented it to Tom Vannoy who ran it several years. Uncle Jack Butler also kept store there for quite a few years. When the store was built, Mr. Boone Maxwell built a blacksmith shop across the road south. Mr. Maxwell ran the shop himself. A store and shop were very handy in horse and wagon days. It closed in 1910.
The first school was a log cabin over by Kilby Cemetery, it was called "Kilby School." On Aug. 28, 1871, John W. Kilby, Sr. and Ellen his wife deeded one acre of land, on the corner of their farm for the purpose of building a new school house, to the three directors, Josiah G. Bishop, R. J. Trower and John F. M. Farmer, for the sum of $15. It was called Kilby School. In 1907 the name was changed to Estes School. In 1909 a new school house was built and was torn down in 1986 by the present owners, William L. Jennings, Sr. and June Jennings.
Some of the teachers who taught there were Miss Maggie Foster; Mr. Helpler; Charlie Craig; Miss Jessie Maxwell; Clark Williams; Miss Mary Steel; Miss Bessie Mulherin; Miss Mary Craig; Miss Jessie Craig; Miss Addie Dunn; Miss Rheva White; Miss Maple Newland; Miss R. L. Keithley; Herbert Gourley; Earnest Goodman; Miss Mary I. Adams; Miss Lula Atkinson; Miss Oma Kilby; Miss Belle Vannoy; Aryle Smith; Roy Hoover and others.
The first mail was delivered from 1842 to 1875 to Dr. Nathan Vannoy's grist mill which was built on Indian Creek in Indian Township in 1845, a post office was there. The mail was delivered from Curryville. The post office was moved to John F. M. Farmer's store around 1887. That was called Estes then. The first rural route carrier was Tom Barrett who carried mail to Estes from Curryville. When the post office was discontinued at Estes an exchange box was placed there under lock and key. Rodney Cunningham carried mail on a route out of Middletown that came through Estes. Both carriers would unlock the exchange box and get the mail that went to their post office.
Ed Collins bought land from Harve J. Trower and Mary E. Trower his wife, Oct. 7, 1890 and built and ran the first blacksmith shop. Mr. Collins sold the shop to C. R. Thompson who ran the shop until his death in 1919. Hurley Thompson, his son, has run the shop since 1919. Hurley Thompson died in mid 1980s.
Farmer is one of the towns in Pike County, which has changed names. Once called Vannoy's Mill, the town later received its present name and a post office, which operated from 1886 until 1904. Farmer was laid out in 1885 and was named for Moses Allen Farmer, an emigrant from Virginia who came to Pike County in 1832 and was a mule buyer and prominent agriculturist in the county. In the History of Pike County published in 1883, the town is referred to as "Farmersville." Although Farmer is still on the map in 1980, the town has all but disappeared.
Students that attended the Vannoy school have expressed a desire to have a reunion in the future. June 27, 1965 was the last one held. The Vannoy School consolidated in the fall of 1962 and the Farmer-Farmerette Club purchased the building and grounds in 1964 and redecorated it, to make it a memorial for the community, 4-H and extension club meetings. The original land was entered Aug. 1, 1836, by Nathan Vannoy. This was during the administration of president Andrew Jackson. However, there were no teacher records until 1907.
The largest town in Indian township was originally New Harmony, located in the northwestern section of the township and laid out in lots and blocks in 1857 by Thornton Ives. It was originally called upper St. Louis, although even in its heyday, the town hardly resembled its first namesake. New Harmony was also known as "Harmony" and some theorize that this name was borrowed from Harmony, Kentucky. In the middle to late 1800's, New Harmony hosted a saloon, two blacksmith shops, a post office, and a hotel, which provided for stagecoach guests. There were doctors and a community school built in 1879, and barber shops where a shave could be purchased for 10 cents. As business in New Harmony "boomed", there were stables where considerable horse-trading was done, a sawmill, and a flour mill, where farmers brought their produce and purchased flour, cornmeal and chicken feed. At one point, there were at least 10 houses "in town" as well. In 1980 only the historic New Harmony Christian Church and Cemetery in the area mark the town's old boundaries. Prosperous farms throughout the area continue to reflect why the land was settled well over 100 years ago.
New Harmony -- located in Indian Township, was laid out in 1857 by Theron Ives, Tom Hughlett and James Hendrick. A very old place near New Harmony was settled by Fred Branstetter, now owned by Calvin Moore. Perhaps the finest orchard ever started in Indian Township was planted and cultivated on this place. This was later owned by F. F. Barrett.
Henry Branstetter settled very early on a farm just west of New Harmony. He was killed by a hogshead of tobacco rolling off the skids and falling on him.
Charles Atkinson, a Virginian, settled south of New Harmony on the St. T. Atkinson place, place now owned by Leslie and Dorothy Morris -0 1976, Now Ellen Orf Jennings lives there. The family of Daniel Goodman settled the place formerly owned by Peter Hanson. Adam Branstetter, an older settler had a horse mill and distillery on the farm formerly owned by James N. Orr.
The first town in Indian Township was known as Upper St. Louis. It was situated on the old Marshall Royalty farm, now owned and occupied by George and Pauline Kelch. It consisted of a shanty used as a store, a blacksmith shop and a tread mill for grinding corn. A. & M. S. Branstetter were proprietors of Upper St. Louis. In 1883 they stated there was a little danger of confounding it with (lower St. Louis, since every vestige of the "upper" city had entirely disappeared.
In 1883 New Harmony was the only town in Indian Township. At one time there were two stores, a saloon, two blacksmith shops, wagon shop, hotel and a mill. The town was the stop for the state coach from Louisiana to Mexico. It suffered seriously when the railroad went through Curryville and Vandalia.