History of Sellersburg
The following is taken from the History of the Ohio Falls Cities and Their Counties, Vol. II, Chapter XXIV, pages 383-394, L.A. Williams & Co., 1882; reproduced in 1999 by Windmill Publications, Inc. through the sponsorship of The Howard Steamboat Museum, Jeffersonville, Indiana. Obvious errors in spelling or grammar have been changed however an attempt was made to stay true to the original text. The history of Sellersburg is indivisibly tied to the history of Silver Creek Township as a whole. More will be added to include additional facts about the town and the present day areas of Hamburg, Speed and Cementville as time permits.
In the original plat the town of Sellersburg is spelled Sellarsburgh. This little error, or perhaps the correct spelling of the surname of Mr. Sellers, the founder of the place, was discovered by James Van Hook, of Charlestown, a very excellent gentleman, who had charge of the preparation of a county map.
Sellersburg is very irregularly laid out. None of the forty-two lots have a right angle. It resembles an isosceles triangle pressed together from its base. One writer says, "Sellersburg resembles a box twisted and squeezed together." The village was laid out in 1846 by Moses W. Sellers and John Hill. It is situated on the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis railroad, about twenty miles from the county-seat. The railroad passes by the east side of the village and has for a station the smallest house for a waiting-room of any village in the county (see picture below). It is not over 7x10, and when the train is about due is packed full of travelers bound for the cities about the Falls. The station is a noted shipping point. Here are the famous cement-mills noted in the area.
Moses W. Sellers (see pictures below) was the first man in Sellersburg who kept a store. His place of doing business was in the brick house now occupied by Mr. W.H. Harrod, on the north side of New Albany street. After M.W. Sellers, came his son, A.L. Sellers, who kept in a frame house opposite his father's. He is yet doing business at the old stand. John A. Eisman has been engaged in commercial pursuits in Sellersburg for many years. He has always done much in the way of keeping a saloon and furnishing a place where the boys of the village and country could meet and spend the evening and have what they called a good time. He keeps what may be properly termed a general country store.
The village has never done much in tavern-keeping; Christopher Eisman, however, has been engaged in this business for more than forty years. Aside from this house there has never been any regular place of entertainment. "In the village there is a would-be tavern with a large sign and post, which reads, 'Union Hotel.'" Presenting yourself at this house for entertainment you are told - "For your dinner, go to the first cottage below the blacksmith shop on the left of New Albany street.
Among the most prominent of all the blacksmiths of Sellersburg has been Anton Renzt, who is described by Mr. Harrod as a "wheelhorse." The present smiths are A.J Mabrey and John Beck, "who have as good shops as are in the county." (See picture below left for Al Mabrey, Jr.'s blacksmith shop; below right for Henry Slider's stables; these businesses were adjacent to each other.
Probably the first physician in Sellersburg was Dr. Stage, now of Scott county. Drs. John Poindexter and Meek were practitioners in this vicinity for a number of years. The physicians now are Drs. Covert, Hauss, and Sallee.
Mr. Moses W. Sellers was the first postmaster in Sellersburg. The office was established soon or immediately after the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis railroad was completed. It was in the southwest corner of New Albany and Utica streets. The house is now occupied by Mr. Harrod as a dry goods and grocery store. Mr. A.L. Sellers was next in succession. He had his office on the southeast corner of the same. W.H. Harrod was the third postmaster, in the same house where Mr. Sellers had his office. The incumbent is W.P. Miller, who has been in charge of the office for about one year. John Schellers was postmaster for about eight years, beginning in 1872. His office was on the northwest corner of New Albany and Utica streets. Mails were carried at first once a day each way, then twice a day, now three times a day.
The first school-house in the neighborhood was built in 1835, or soon thereafter, on the Utica and Salem road one-half mile west of town. The means for building the house were raised by subscription. The land on which the house stood was donated by Mr. Jeremiah Jackson. After the school was taken to Sellersburg, making the village the center of the district, the land on which the old school-house stood reverted to the original owner. The first teachers were Messrs. Veach, Arthur Bills, Spenser, and Joshua Smith.
Sellersburg has a pretty frame school-house with two rooms. It stands on New Albany street, in the northern part of the village. (Picture below is school in 1890's)
In the village there is a flouring-mill, built in 1874-75, by a company under the name of H. Williams & Co. (see picture below). This is the only flouring-mill ever built in Sellersburg.
Among the first settlers of the village were M.W. Sellers; John A. Smith who, however, lived nearby; John Anson, Henry Bottorff, Peter McKossky, and Absalom Pettijohn. There are in the village now about three hundred people, three churches, two saloons, three dry-goods stores, one grocery, two blacksmiths, two shoe-makers, and three physicians.
Many of the citizens are employed by the cement companies. These mills furnish employment regularly from one hundred to one hundred and fifty hands. Many of the hands are German, and are people of steady habits and economizing industry. Many of them own the houses in which they live. There is no need of being a loafer in this busy little place. People are bent on living well, and strive to attain a position which will, during old age, release them from hard labor.
Owing to the earliness with which Silver Creek township was settled, some of the first schools in the county were originated in the Silver Creek valley. They were like most other schools of that day. The school which, perhaps, more than any other, deserves mention, was the one kept by Richard Slider, or on his farm, on the bank of Elk run, as early as 1801. Of course the house was a rude affair. Scholars were sent from the thin settlements roundabout, and were only in attendance from six to eight weeks within the year. Among the first teachers were James McCoy, Andrew McCafferty, George McCulloch and Spools and Spenser Little. The old Slider school was kept in running order for a number of years, after which, on account of untoward circumstances, it ceased to exist.
Mr. Wells' school, on Camp run, was early set in motion. It was not so ancient as the Slider school, but is generally recognized as of pioneer relationship by many of the settlers. Mr. Ballard was one of the first teachers. After the State school laws came into force, the first of what are now called district schools was the John A. Smith school-house. There are in the township at present six schools and about four hundred and twenty-five scholars.
Mr. James Brown, now of Wood, but who for many years was a citizen of Silver Creek township, engaged in farming and whip-sawing, speaks of the early schools thus: "The first school-house of which I have any knowledge was built on Camp run, a quarter of a mile above where the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis railroad crosses the creek. The house was built of logs; and the windows, which sufficed for light, were made by cutting a log partly out on each side of the house. Across the holes were pinned perpendicular sticks, with greased paper pasted over them, which served for glass. A large mud-and-stick chimney was at one end of the house. Long, rude puncheons, with the upper side smoothed by means of a broad-axe, and legs put in the outer side, served as seats when turned upside down. Another house, pretty much after the same fashion, and built about the same time, was the Cunningham Settlement school, a quarter of a mile above where Hamburg now stands, on the State road leading from Jeffersonville to Terre Haute. Around this house at one time was quite a large graveyard; but it with the house has long since disappeared, with now but a single evergreen to mark the old site."
Mr. Brown says also of the old Redman mill: "The first mill I have any knowledge of was an old-time water-mill, with a saw-mill attached to it, about two and a half miles from where the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis railroad crosses Silver creek. It was built and owned by Rezin Redman, a Tippecanoe veteran."
The same gentleman, in speaking of other things, says: "Great changes have taken place since then in regards to the forests of the township. Many of the settlers, the pioneers of the forest, those who came here before the canebreaks were cleared off, have passed away, leaving, however, impressions which time can never erase."
In speaking of fruit he says: "Wild fruits in the forest at that time (1810) were quite common. Towards the fall of the year apples lay profusely on the ground in different places, also wild plums and grapes. Now there are scarcely any left."
John A. Smith's tavern on the old State road, one mile and a half southeast of Bennettsville, was one of the first stopping places for travelers in the township. It was on this highway that a stage made regular trips between Salem and Jeffersonville; and here at Smith's tavern horses were changed and passengers given time to alight, stretch themselves, take a nip of whiskey or a bowl of toddy, and again take their seats for the rest of the journey. The buildings were made of logs-dwelling house and all. A part of the old building is yet standing, though a few more years will convert the logs into their original elements.