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Ellettsville Was Almost Logan

Looking Back by Ruth L. Huff May 19, 1984

A photo of Ellettsville residents in the 1890s. This is the Matthews family in front of their home. Photo from MCHC collection 1600.060.0010

In 1890 the residents of Ellettsville were in an uproar because the Monon railroad was trying to change the name of their village to Logan.

The exact reason for the change was unclear. Perhaps the railroad preferred the shorter name in order to facilitate their record keeping.

Ellettsville residents stubbornly refused the change.

The railroad refused to handle any items shipped to or from Ellettsville unless the name of Logan was used. Ellettsville residents and businessmen, equally as stubborn, perhaps even more so, refused to bow to the Monon’s demands. “We’ll keep the name Ellettsville,” wrote Samuel B. Harris, editor of the Monroe County CItizen, the Ellettsville weekly newspaper at that point in history, “even if we have to walk our livestock to Gosport to be shipped, and haul our freight to and from Gosport by house and wagon.”

The railroad counteracted with another game, Gretna this time, thinking that had a nice ring to it, and perhaps might catch the fancy of Ellettsville residents, as Logan failed to do. The residents remained adamant in their refusal to change the name of their village. The railroad then retaliated by roaring through Ellettsville at high speed, refusing to make any stops to pick up or disperse passengers, as they had in the past. One Ellettsville resident sued the railroad for $5000 because the conductor charged him double fare, then added insult to injury by forcing him to get off in Gosport and traverse the remainder of the way to Ellettsville on foot.

Infuriated Ellettsville residents were unable to fathom why the railroad wanted to change the name of their village to Logan or Gretna, or anything else, for that matter, and the railroad came forth with no legitimate or logical explanations for their action.

The editor of the Ellettsville weekly newspaper, while not being in favor the name change, nevertheless, unlike his subscribers, was able to see the humorous side of the situation. In his weekly column, he wrote that the wife of the railroad’s president must have been named Gretna Logan and she was twisting her husband’s arm, trying to coerce him into perpetuating her name.

Finally, after much bickering back and forth between the railroad and Ellettsville residents, the Monon conceded enough to resume their scheduled daytime stops at Ellettsville, picking up passengers, but still refusing to load or disperse any freight unless it bore the name Gretna or Logan.

The evening trains traveling in either direction still ran through the town at high speed, deeming it necessary for passengers to stay overnight when making a trip to Bloomington or other localities along the Monon line.

The female population of Ellettsville, many of whom often rode the train back and forth to Bloomington on shopping excursions, were complaining loudly and bitterly. Meanwhile, the spunky businessmen of the town stuck to their guns, actually carrying on all shipping to and from Ellettsville via horse and wagon both to and from Gosport. Ellettsville farmers either walked their livestock to Gosport to be shipped from that point, or they grouped their herds together and became temporary cowboys, driving their cattle to Gosport in the style of the Old West.

The railroad, eventually feeling the loss of business from the small but proud village of Ellettsville, finally capitulated to the demands of the populace, allowing them to keep the original name of their village and reinstating all regularly scheduled stops at Ellettsville. The stubbornness of Ellettsville residents had reaped their reward.