Friday, January 4, 2019

Story, Indiana

Our first stop is an accidental trip to the quaint, little town of Story, Indiana located in Brown County.  We happened upon this town quite by accident when we were out searching for nearby cemeteries.  I had always heard about Story, but had never found myself anywhere near there.

GPS Coordinates: 39.098889, -86.213889

For such a small town, Story, Indiana has a vivid history.  The area where story is located was acquired from the Native American tribes that lived there in two parts based on a treaty known as the "Ten O'Clock Treaty Line".  This line ran from the southeast to the northwest and was also known as the "Indian Boundary Line".  The land to the southwest of the line was purchased in 1809 as part of the Treaty of Fort Wayne.  This purchase was called "Harrison's Purchase", named after William Henry Harrison who was the governor of the Indiana Territory at the time.   The area, including what would become Story, was opened to European Settlement on September 30, 1809.   The "Ten O'Clock Treaty Line" ran right through the village of Story and today there is a monument in the center of Story's village green. We did see the monument the day that we were there, but did not have an opportunity to get a picture of it.

The village is named for Doctor George P. Story who received land from Millard Fillmore in 1851.  Doctor Story was born around 1809 in Pennsylvania, settling in Ohio as a young man.  His first wife was Catherine Shelenburger.  They had one son, David.  Catherine died early and Doctor Story remarried to a woman named Jane Morrison.  Together they had two more sons, Enoch and George.  After he received the land from President Fillmore, he moved his family to Brown County.  The original land patent is on display in the Story Inn, pictured above. 

Over the next 20 years, Doctor Story's medical practice, a township school and a grist mill were all established.  Locals began to call the area Storyville.    Doctor Story served as the area of physician for around thirty years, but he was also the postmaster from 1860-1879 in Valley Hill.  It is thought that Story may have been called this beforehand.   Doctor Story's sons married women from Brown
County but they didn't stay long.  None of them seemed to have any interest in sticking around to help with the newly founded town.  Jane Story died in 1872 is buried in nearby Christiansburg Cemetery.  An unnamed infant is buried next to her, but that appears to have been the infant child, possibly a twin, of Jane's son, George and his wife.  You can visit my other blog, A Walk Through the Tombstones, to see the entry on the cemetery.

George married a third time to Sandusky Percifield.  His sons were gone, having moved to Kansas and Missouri.  With his family gone and advancing in age, he sold the land to John Noblet in 1882 and headed west.  That was the last he was heard of.

Even though the village was started in about 1851, it was officially established in 1882 when Doctor Arnold Griffitt took over the medical practice and began a farm.  He also started a dry goods store which had the post office located in it.  The first church was also founded.  The Story-Griffitt House (1858) is now part of the Story Inn.

Other towns around Story began to fade away in the early 1900s, which made this little town more important.  The general store was important to the town and the surrounding inhabitants and continued to hold a high place until about the 1950s.  During the 1880-90s, the village centered around the store and the grist mill, later owned by Willard Fulks.  A saw mill came later as well as a blacksmith and slaughterhouse.  In 1900, the store and grist mill were sold to Alra and Mary Wheeler.  The store was then called The Wheeler Store and they lived across from it in the Wheeler-Hedrick House (1894).

In 1915, the store burned down.  This didn't stop them from rebuilding and restocking the store.  The new store was a two-story building with the name Wheeler General Store emblazoned across the front.  In the 1920s, a second store was opened to feed off of the prosperity of the first, but it didn't last long and closed by the early 1930s.

Wheeler died in 1921.  The store, saw mill, Wheeler home and land around the buildings was purchased by Albert and Susan Hedrick.  They renamed the store "Hedrick & Son Grocery".  During the time that the Hedrick's owned the store, it was the most prosperous of all.  The store sold all manner of things, including but not limited to, farm equipment, clothing, shoes, local produce and meat, which was processed on-site at the slaughterhouse.

In the 1920s, the government began to offer payment for land in the area for the formation of Brown County State Park.  Due to the poor farming in the area, people gladly sold off their land.  It didn't help that the Great Depression (1929-1933) was coming.  Many saw that farming was no longer sufficient to keep alive, so they abandoned their farms and left in search of better work.  Between 1930 and 1940, Brown County lost half of its population and much of the farming ground to a halt.  Even more of the area in and around Story was lost with the formation of Yellowwood State Forest, the Hoosier National Forest and Charles C. Deam Wilderness.  These formations make Brown County a beautiful, wooded location, but also severely hurt the towns in the area.

In 1960, when the US Army Corps of Engineers flooded land to make Monroe Lake, the town of Elkinsville was abandoned and the road that once connected Story to Bloomington was closed.  Today, Elkinsville Road runs through the middle of town but dead ends about four miles up the road and an old iron bridge.

The store continued operation under the Hedrick name with their daughter running it.  She installed a lunch counter to serve park visitors and those passing through.  The store also operated the only fuel service in the area.

In the 1970s, the area of Story, Indiana was purchased by Benjamin and Cynthia Schultz.  Their dream was for a bed and breakfast and to make Story a destination spot.  With this, the Story Inn was born.  But, they sold the Inn in 1992 and it once again fell in disrepair.  The entire town was sold in 1999 at a sheriff's sale.  It was purchased and restored by a pair of investors.  Now the entire town has been revamped and is more prosperous than ever.  The bed and breakfast offers a lovely country setting for visitors with fine dining and accommodations.  Catering and weddings are offered in the surrounding lands and barn.

In March, Story hosts a Maple Syrup festival and in May, there is a National Wine Festival.

Story, Indiana - Wikipedia
Countryfolk: Dr. George P. Story
Story Inn Website

All photos are mine.

Thursday, January 3, 2019


There is history all around us.  Everywhere you look, there is a story to be learned.  I have learned much over the three years that I have been chronicling cemeteries at A Walk Through The Tombstones and in learning of those families, I have found so much about the towns and locales where they lived.  I felt that it was time to talk about those as well.

So in conjunction with A Walk Through The Tombstones, I introduce you to Towns Gone By, a place where the lives of those buried near by will come to life in the towns where they lived.

But, granted, not all small towns had cemeteries.  So I am going to do my best to talk about those, too.  It is very important to me that none of these places are forgotten.  And, as time marches on, they are being overgrown by land or bulldozed to build a strip mall.  It's not fair to the memory of those that lived and thrived there. 

Check back often. I hope to be able to updated frequently. 

Please follow me at both of my blogs, A Walk Through The Tombstones and Towns Gone By.


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