Northwest Ordnance of 1787




World War II



Gulf War

JPG Historical Map

JPG Heritage Partnership

From Territory to Statehood - Land Management set by Congress

At this time the Confederation Congress adopted two remarkable ordinances that produced a profound effect upon the surface of the land and also the settlers lives. The Land Ordinance of 1785 provided for an elaborate and sophisticated system of land survey and sale, the basis of which is still used. The government roads that crisscross the National Refuge (JPG) today are a result of the township systems laid out under this ordinance. Each township has 36 sections that are one-square-mile in area. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established the system of government for the Territory "Northwest of the Ohio River". This Ordinance established the three step process by which three to five states would emerge from the territories.

The territory was authorized a legislature and a delegate to Congress as soon as its population reached 5,000 voters (Adult White Males). Statehood could be attained with a minimum of 60,000 people not just voters. This ordinance contained the famous and precedent setting prohibition of slavery, as well as a Bill of Rights.

The prohibition of slavery provided the state of Indiana a bulwark with which to bind itself to the Union in the Civil War, in spite of the fact that most settlers in Indiana came from North Carolina and Kentucky. The State of Indiana was constructed in a piecemeal manner, like a puzzle, by a series of Indian Treaties beginning with the George Rogers Clark grant in 1783 thru the last Indian Treaty called the Wabash treaty in 1840. The Ordinance of 1787 determined that the Indians should be treated fairly even though the land was considered to be the property of Congress. The Congress wanted to use the Indian lands to retire the debt that had been incurred by the Revolutionary War.

The settlers could no longer squat on the land, they had to pay for it, but first the Indians had to be removed in a fair manner. In 1802 with the exceptions of the Clark Grant, Vinceninnes, and the Swiss Colony at Vevay, the future Hoosier State was entirely Indian Country. There were about 2500 White Settlers and about anywhere from 5,000 to 25,000 Indians in the state. Access to the JPG area was gained with the Treaty of Grouseland of 1805. The Shawnee tribe was located in the local Madison area. The Delaware Indians left in the 1820's, the Potowatomis left in the 1830's and the Miamis left in the 1840's. As each tribe left the area, the White Settlers expanded into the vacated parts of the state.

Early Settlers:

As stated earlier, the settlers were from the Carolinas and Kentucky. Yankees, East Coast settlers had contempt for the sand dunes and swamps of the northern part of the state and thought the forests in the south were impenetrable. So they by-passed Indiana and left it to the more adventuresome, poorer, illiterate backwoodsmen that came from the South.

Travelers through Indiana during the early period often commented on the rough ways of the Hoosiers and the tough living conditions, yet this was soon to change. By the 1820's the Federal govenrment had started work on the National Road, an east west road through Indianapolis and approved a grant of land for a road from the Ohio River through Indianapolis to Michigan. This road when finished in the 1830's was referred to as the Michigan Road. Indiana's population doubled in the ten years of statehood, then redoubled between 1820 and 1840. By 1816 there were 60,000 people present, enough to create a state under the Ordinance of 1785.

By 1860 there were 1,350,000 people in Indiana. Just prior to the Civil War, life in Indiana had progressed from taming the wilderness to family subsistance farming. At this time the people were second generation Southerners mixed with groups of immigrants from Protestant North Ireland and the German provinces along the Rhine River.

Sue Baker in her history of JPG describes this period as follows: "In the rural communities, devotion and physical labor of entire families were demanded for farming, a daylight-to-dark, year round occupation". It was hard work blessed with few modern conveniences or much leisure time.

Agnes Wilson in her paper on the history of Monroe Township, stated that many people went barefoot especially the children in the summer time. A Tan Yard would provide leather for shoes. Most folks got one pair per year. Mrs. Wilson also relates an interesting fact that most two story houses had outside stairwells. Based on several interviews with people returning to visit the JPG home sites, no one really felt poor or deprived or overworked. The communities all felt that they were in the same boat.

Education in Early Indiana

Early Hoosiers were eager to have their children learn. One room subscription school houses, such as Oakdale school displayed in a previous section, were supported by parents through subscription fees, often forcing children of large families to attend in the relay system. The younger ones went during the spring or summer; while the older children would attend in the winter when there were fewer chores. In 1852, Indiana law began to require "free school" for all children. Attendance soared when the subscription school programs were replaced by township financed schools.

Civil War to the 1930s:

The early settler's character was formed in the crucible of Indian wars. Later generations were mellowed and weaned in the Civil War and World War I . Some communities peaked in population at the turn of the century. Many soldiers that went to World War I left the area in search of jobs. Then in the late 1930s farmers noticed strangers with out-of-state license plates driving up and down the country lanes. They did not pay much attention until December of 1940 when they were given thirty days to vacate their ancestral homes as war once again came to the Ohio Valley. The government, that assumed control of the land from the Indians in the late 1700s and early 1800s, and sold sections of it to the early pioneers decided that once again it was time to reclaim the land. The National will for survival was greater than the individual needs of the Hoosier farmers.

An earlier section detailing the glacier movement indicated that the land was not fertile. This statement about the worth of the land is debatable as Mr. Charles Risk Bentley, whose parents in 1941 received $8,700 for 106 acres of land, pointed out in an interview that 65% of the land was very productive. "The ground is white - no color, hence the term "Buttermilk Flats", but it would probably produce 22 to 30 bushels of wheat and 44 bushels of corn to the acre. The rest of the land was broomsage or pasture and was used for hunting, timber firewood and grazing. In his opinion, the farmers were making a good living here and were not really eager to accept what the government offered for their farms.