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New Castle, IN 1901

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This article is taken from the 1901 New Castle, Indiana City Directory that is located in the Henry County Historical Society Museum.

      One hundred years ago the hills and valleys upon which New Castle now spreads her business houses, residences and factories, were covered with forest of gigantic oak, popular and walnut trees through which the sun rarely penetrated. By and by, however, straggling hunters and prospecting settlers passed this way and their attention was attracted by the fertility of the soil. They carried the news to their friends in Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia and in a few years the work of clearing off the timber had begun, and the noise of falling trees and the smoke of burning brush and log heaps heralded the conquering white man and proclaimed the passing of the red man. Yet the first fifth of the century had almost passed away before these settlers came, and it was 1819 that New Castle had its first settled inhabitant. That man was Ashael Woodward. During the same year Charles Jamison, Alan Shepherd, William and Andrew Shannon, George Hobson and David Cray became Woodward's neighbors. In July 1822 lots in the new "town" were placed on the market, but their sale was slow and the settlement did not grow very much, and in 1826 contained but twenty families, two stores and a post office. In 1833 there were 150 people living here, among them being George B. Rogers, Abraham Elliot, Ashael Woodward, Miles Murphey, Dr. Joel Reed, John Powell, Isaac Bedsaul, Judge Jacob Thornburg, L. D. Meek, Evan B. Hobson, Dr. John Elliot, John R. Coleman, Samuel Hoover, Samuel Hawn, Thomas Ginn, James Carr and Dr. Penney. Then came the cholera epidemic of the summer of 1833 and one tenth of the population (15 out of 150) died of that terrible scourge.
     New Castle was incorporated in 1830 and the growth of the town was substantial from that time. It was blessed with a number of energetic men and became noted as business and commercial center. The history from that time on becomes modern to the living generation through personal experience or the oft repeated tales of business succession, changes and ravages of time, alarms and realities of war, prosperity and times of depression and panic. Hence that period has passed over here without attempt at even condensed description.

     In almost the geographical center of Henry county, and in the midst of a most fertile farming region, New Castle has many advantages as to location. For many years the statement was made that "New Castle was situated on the east bank of Blue River," although there was yet a wide expanse of willow thicket and a marshy prairie between the town and the river. Lately the statement has become literally true, and by the deepening of the channel of the river, the marshes and willows have disappeared and given place to beautiful and substantial modern residences. Now the streets are numbered with Blue River as the starting point and the prospects are good for an extension, at an early day, of the town to the hills of "Valley View" farm. No more pleasing prospect of new Castle can be obtained than by the observer who comes in on a Big Four train of a summer evening. As the train comes out of the woods across the river and winds through the hills, the glimpses of the "city on the hill" with the sun resting upon it are fine indeed. The scenery of the Blue River valley at certain seasons of the year is beautiful and can hardly be surpassed. A climb to the courthouse tower also reveals the beauties of the surrounding country and is well worth the effort.

     New Castle posses many advantages, both natural and artificial, which are of great benefit to the town. One of the greatest of these is the water supply. Flowing from a depth of several hundred feet, clear, cold, sparkling and pure and containing minerals of health giving properties, people using it have no fear of typhoid or other fever, and n more healthful population can be found anywhere and the water receives much of the credit. Then there are the advantages of good drainage, good natural gas supply and pleasant surroundings to be considered among the natural advantages. Among the artificial advantages may be mentioned the following: An electric street light plant owned and operated by the town, giving a service equal to the large cities; incandescent electric lights; free delivery of mail; excellent graded and high schools; fine railroad facilities, the lines of road being the Big Four, Pennsylvania, and L. E. & W. branch of Lake Shore; good market for grain and produce, and above all, energetic and enterprising citizens.

     New Castle has made very rapid strides as a manufacturing center during the past few years and the attention of capitalist is rapidly being turned this way. Beginning with the location of the Safety Shredder factory in 1899 a marked period of progress in that time has set in and already the enterprises located are the American Shovel Works, the Brass and Iron Bed Factory, the Hoosier Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of kitchen cabinets; the Chief Shredder factory, one saw mill, canning factory and two large greenhouse concerns. The town trustees offer to manufacturers as inducements to locate, freedom from municipal taxation for five years, fire protection and the citizens, as a rule, are disposed to grant free location and are willing to subscribe in a reputable concern desiring to locate. Other large factories are now seeking location and a few years will see Rogers and Goodwin hills, as well as the suburban country in other directions covered with factories. The reasons why factories are coming this way are obvious and are given under the head of "Advantages" elsewhere. The gas supply during the past winter was far more satisfactory than in the regular so called gas belt towns and is furnished at very reasonable rates. Among the things prospective are electric lines to Knightstown and Muncie and intervening towns, better telephone connection with the country population and smaller towns, paved streets, new union depot, more green houses and more factories.

UEB 2002

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