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Establishment of Salt Creek Township and the Friendship Community

The clipping noted below, written by Mrs. Wesley Hayes, was published in an undated, unsourced Bloomington newspaper under a column called “Looking Back.”  It was found in a scrapbook compiled by a man named Fred Lockwood.  The scrapbook is held by the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana.

salt creek…When Monroe County and all the territory of Indiana was a wilderness and only the necessary luxuries of life were considered, salt, the most common article of the present day, was considered one of the most important things to be thought of by the early settlers for at that time salt was a scarce and costly article in the woods, made so by the great cost of transportation.

It was during the year 1822 that Bloomington, along with the surrounding community, felt rather well off when it was discovered that salt could be manufactured within the county.

There were numerous salt springs discovered in Salt Creek Township, made so by the wild deer that came to them to drink. These springs became famous in times as “deer licks,” where, as long as the animals were found in abundance in Monroe County, they could be killed by hunters.  It was from this discovery that the present day Salt Creek Township got its name.

Some of the salty localities showed so much evidence of strength in salt that it was decided by early settlers to evaporate the water and thus began the business of manufacturing salt in Monroe County.  We find from early history that in 1822 Henry Wampler, Thomas Literal (sic) and several others bored a well on Section 12, Township 8 North, Range 1 East, now a part of Salt Creek Township, and found an abundance of excellent brine.

These men erected shanties, procured several large, iron kettles, and began the work of converting the salt water into salt.  They received a large patronage from the start and soon increased their output by adding more kettles and employing men to help refine the salt.  The salt works were conducted for a number of years and older residents tell us that more than 800 bushels of excellent salt was made in one year at this plant.

Traveling to the salt works by settlers became so great, even from the start, that the owners and several others, according to old records, petitioned the county board in 1823 to construct a road from Bloomington to the salt works.  The road was constructed as petitioned for.

In later years other wells were sunk in the township, one being near the iron bridge that now crosses Salt Creek.  This early manufacture of salt was before the settlement of the township and in 1825 the township received a separate existence and was named from the works which made the Salt Creek locality famous in that day and is now known as Salt Creek Township.

Although Salt Creek Township in Monroe County has added considerable to the growth of the county life by its salt works, the township can boast of no towns in the domain of boundary lines…[I]n the month of September 1857, James G. Fleener, with the assistance of the county surveyor laid off eighteen lots in Section 21, Township 8 North, Range 1 East, and named the plot thus laid out “Friendship.”

… Friendship was doomed to die on paper, as it seemed impossible to make friends who cared to live at the place through the trials of life.  [A]nd receiving no friendship, how could “Friendship” be shown.  The project was surrendered to the inevitable in a few short months.  Yet many good and prosperous farmers inhabit this township at the present time, but to these residents as well as those who used to live in the township, the at-one-time-town of Friendship will still be known and cherished as a sacred memory.


Comments (1)

  1. Dodd, J. Robert


    This brings back lots of memories. Somewhere in the community files is this same basic story that I worked on.

    Bob Dodd

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