Liberty Township
Delaware County, Indiana

Settled 1822

Jan 2006, updated Aug 2010

While conducting field research on my Liberty Township ancestor, Martin Shively, I visited Smithfield and the surrounding cemeteries. Martin Shively was a common man that moved his family in the 1840s into Delaware County from Richland County, Ohio. The 1850 census showed that he and his family lived just north of Smithfield as a laborer probably on the John Richardson farm. On the 1860 census, he was living next to or on John Friedline’s farm. Martin's son, Isaac Shively, lived next to Eliza Hutchings just east of Smithfield. No records have been found to show where Martin is buried but my bet is in an unmarked grave in the Friedline Cemetery among other related family members. (Checkout the Friedline Cemetery webpage.)

In order to understand and to try to uncover more about my ancestors, I selected Smithfield because it was the first Indiana location that my family settled and it was a somewhat unpublished and quaint village steeped in early Hoosier history. I collected as much data as I could during three different field trips to that area. Recently I decided (10+ years after the field trips) to put all the copies, notes and recollections that I had gathered together onto a webpage to assist other genealogists and Indiana historians on what I had found on Smithfield.

Below this introduction there is a search capability embedded in this page and anything underlined is a link to more information.

With any webpage or researched data errors can happen and facts can be mistaken. If you have any corrections, additions, photos or personal stories about Smithfield you are willing to share, please send me an email and I will be glad to include them.

Happy hunting!

Scot Shively
Family genealogist and amateur historian

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Smithfield is the oldest town or village in Liberty Township and in fact is one of the oldest settlements in Delaware County.

Indiana Wilderness
The Delaware and Miami Indians, who were living in the area when the settlers arrived, began scattering in 1818 and many were still present around Muncie, Yorktown and Smithfield up until the mid 1820s. Over 180 years ago pioneers recognized the area as just what they were looking for. It is pleasantly situated on a level upland overlooking White River, which meanders among shady woods and fertile fields. The first settlements in Liberty Township were made, as is usually the case, along the streams, creeks and rivers. In this case there were three land entries made in the township in 1822, all three being in sections 21 and 28, in the neighborhood of White River, just below the old town of Smithfield. The first of these entries was made by James Jackson, November 11, 1822. Smithfield was the name given to a small collection of houses which stood along the river long before the town was surveyed and laid out.

A Town is Born
David Stout was born 1777 in Orange Co. North Carolina had migrated to Indiana by 1820 to Randolph County. He had been the Commissioner in Randolph County and decided to move the 15 miles from Randolph County to a bend in the White River in Delaware County. About 1825, at the age of 48 he built a grist mill and his cabin along the banks of the White River. Stout’s Mill was the first mill in the township. Stout along with pioneer William Duncan platted the town of Smithfield on 12 March 1830 (click here to see the original town plat). Early Indiana pioneer cabins were built of round logs that measured eight to ten inches through, and were covered with clapboards. They were of all sizes; some perhaps of twelve by fourteen feet, and some eighteen by twenty five feet, with one seven or eight feet story and a loft above in the roof. A small cabin would have one door and one window. Cabins in Delaware County looked like the cabin in this photo which was built in the 1830s in Greene County, Indiana.

The town had a general store by 1833, and most likely earlier about 1825 (when the grist mill was built). The Indiana Gazetteer of 1833 lists that Smithfield had a post office.

Mills were often the place where farmers would gather with their sacks of grain and exchange news with distance neighbors. In early Indiana, it was not unusual to travel twenty miles to reach the mill. Smithfield’s two mills served the inhabitants of the town and the farmers living throughout Liberty Township

Stout’s Mill, built about 1825, was located just west of Smithfield and is depicted on the 1874 and 1887 atlas maps (coordinates: 40°10’10.44N, 85°16’11.65” W).

Deed’s Mill was described as being “above” Smithfield. Studying the 1874 Delaware County map you can see another millrace located just northwest of the center of town approximately 1,500ft. This location matches the described location of Deed’s Mill (coordinates: 40°10’16.75N, 85°16’19.88” W).

A sawmill was built in Smithfield by 1833

1887 (Atlas)
Flour Mill (located on Jacob Miller’s land, probably still named Smithfield Mill)
Cane Mill (located on the corner of Market and Liberty Street, Lot 1 of Block 2)

Because of the topography of the land where the 2 mill races were located was flat I would guess the two mills’ operated with an undershot wheel.

More on Mill Operations

Early settlers along the banks of White River near Smithfield (section 22)

Today, Smithfield lies about 6 miles southeast of Muncie at the intersection of East County Road 625 East and East County Road 167 South (Smithfield Pike) along the East bank of the White River.

Smithfield is one of those quiet hamlets so often seen at this age, which have relapsed from a more favorable condition; for this was once a point of some consequence, well known to emigrants of earlier days. Its merchants had a good trade, as had also its blacksmiths and other mechanics. But time diverted its trade to other centers, and it became the quiet village that we see to-day.


The coopers living in Smithfield made barrels for all uses, including the storing and shipping of grain and flour. The two grist mills would have great need for a steady supply of barrels.
William Phillips, age 38 was listed as a cooper in the 1850 Census for Smithfield. By 1860 William Phillips had moved to Parker and was listed as a cooper in the 1860 Census.

Isaac Shively, (my great, great grandfather) age 30 was the only cooper listed in the 1860 Census for Smithfield.

William Lewis, born 1810 in Norwich, Connecticut settled in Smithfield in 1845 and engaged in general trade. The United States Post Office Directory of 1846 lists William as the Smithfield post master. He was also listed in the 1851 directory so it is most likely that he was the postmaster from 1846 to at least 1851. After the civil war he increased his land holdings to 900 acres in Liberty Township. According to The Post Office Directory of 1913 Smithfield had lost its post office.

Smithfield Doctors 1840 - 1871
Dr. Jeremiah Dynes was the physician for the people of Smithfield and the surrounding area. He has been recognized as the first doctor of Delaware County. He was born in April 1815 near Lebanon Ohio and married Caroline (born in Indiana about 1822). He came to Smithfield in the summer of 1840 and practiced medicine for 31 years. Jeremiah and Caroline raised their family in Liberty Township and were substantial land owners (property value of $9,500 - 1860 census). He was also a justice of the peace for Delaware County in 1857. Dr. Dynes died 14 November, 1871 and is buried in Indianapolis.

There was also a Dr. Isaac Redout in the 1850 census (born in Maine about 1802), married to Sarah. They lived about a mile north of Smithfield.

Deaths at Smithfield

Smithfield Cemetery Recorded burials
There is very little information available on this small graveyard at the east end of Market Street. (Block 1, Lot 1). From the earliest recorded burial the cemetery was being used as early as May 1847. Perhaps, because it is lot 1 in block 1 of the town, the original proprietors, David Stout and William Duncan, set it aside as a cemetery when they laid out the town around 1829-30.

The cemetery appears on the 1873 tax assessor’s survey and the 1887 Delaware Co. Atlas.

Smithfield 1887 Structures – Total of 24 depicted on survey
Block 1
        3 buildings
Block 2
        6 buildings, Cane Mill, School No. 8 and adjacent flour Mill
Block 3
        2 buildings
Block 4
        1 building (M. E. Church)
Block 5
        7 buildings
Other adjacent parcels
        5 buildings

School Houses
Early Indiana pioneer school houses were small log houses, not to exceed twenty feet square, though many were built later about twenty-six feet by thirty feet. They were covered with clapboards and had oiled-paper windows. A huge fireplace was built at one side or one end of the building which enabled the children to keep warm on the side next to the fire. All had puncheon floors; that is, floors made of slabs or logs split or hewn instead of being sawed. The seats were made of split saplings or mill slabs from twelve to fifteen feet in length. Usually seats were placed on either side and extended back from the fireplace. Another was placed across the front of the fireplace. To the rear of these seats a table, possibly three feet wide and twelve or fifteen feet long, extended across the room, and on either side of the table were placed split pole or mill slab seats, each of the length of the table. At this table or desk the children faced each other and were enabled to work with some degree of comfort. Those occupying the other seats had to hold their slates and books on their laps. Frequently, and in fact very commonly, another desk was made along one or two sides of the house by driving pegs into the logs and laying a wide board on them. This was called the "writing desk." In some of the very early school houses there were no blackboards at all. In others a wide board was hung on pegs driven into the logs. In many buildings there were two additional pegs driven into the wall near or over the teacher's desk.

During the summer of 1835 James A. Maddy taught school at Smithfield. The log schools were retained until about the time of the Civil War or a little later, when they were replaced by frame buildings. Later the brick school houses replaced the frame buildings and were built throughout the county in 1879. School house number 8 was built on Lot 6 of Block 2 (on E. L. D. Storm’s lot – 1873 tax assessor’s survey) in Smithfield.

In the 1860 census three men were listed as school teachers in Liberty Township, William Campbell, age 22, Arthur Dowden, age 22, and Wesley L. Leonard, age 20.

Joseph Elmer Davis, born May 1865 in Smithfield was employed as an all-around helper in building the brick Smithfield school building. He was paid 10¢ per day for labor. Later he taught at the Smithfield school and was paid $21 per month. He also taught at the school that was called Friedline School (school number 7, east of Smithfield). His teaching career totaled eight years from 1888 to 1895.

Smithfield Schoolhouse Today (photo courtesy of Cheryl Cross)

Currently a private residence.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Smithfield

The society assumed its first, permanent organization some time between the years 1830 and 1832. Thomas Leonard, a local preacher and resident in the township, organized the class, and held the meetings at his residence for several years. In 1842 or 1843, the society erected its first house of worship. This was a frame building, and stood just north of the village. Several years later, the building was destroyed by fire, and they were compelled to return to the primitive mode of worship at private houses, until sufficient funds could be accumulated to erect a new house.

Perhaps the frame building was located at Lot 7 of Block 5, near the intersection of Liberty and Market Streets. (as recorded in the land record book)

           Lot transfer to the M.E. Church - Land Record Book at Delaware Co., Courthouse
                Samuel Leonard to Smithfield M.E. Church 1 Sep 18xx (unreadable, looks like 1850s)
                     Lot 7 Sq 5 $1 Bk 11, Pg 402
                Thomas Leonard to Smithfield M.E. Church Lot 7 Sq 5 $15 Book unknown

Worship in private houses continued for a period of three or four years when Thomas and Samuel Leonard sold Smithfield Lot #7 in Block 4 to the congregation to build their new church.

The new Smithfield church was destroyed by fire, and a new one was built, even before Selma became a town (in the early 1850s).

Prosperity had come into the community in about 1903 with the discovery of oil as well as gas. Wells were being drilled in many places. It is said that the cause of the fire that destroyed the Smithfield Church, August 20, 1904, was fire which was ignited in the reservoir tank under the eaves of the Church. The oil well was just to the rear of the Church.

In 1905, the Church felt itself strong enough to launch into a larger program of expansion and influence and replaced the church at a cost of $4,700. In 1913 just seven years after building the new Smithfield Church it was now longer an active congregation.

In the trend toward the modern way of life it often happens that churches which are located in the open country or in easy access to the towns or cities are closed. It is often unfortunate.

With Selma growing as a town along the railroad many of the members elected to transfer to the Selma Church. The falling away of members in the Smithfield congregation was so gradual that little can be noted of the decease in its relation to the Selma Charge.

However, when the relatively new Church was sold in Smithfield in 1953, the proceeds of the sale were applied to the Church in Selma. The bell which hung in the Church at Smithfield was removed and placed in the Selma Church steeple. The Selma Church bell was placed in the inactive Church at Smithfield. Later the organ from Smithfield was also moved to the Selma church.

It stands as a tragedy that so fine a Church structure should be sold to a private individual for only $460. After still another transfer, it was sold to a branch of the Church of God, who now held services in the birthplace of Methodism in Liberty Township.

Smithfield Bridge

Smithfield’s current iron bridge over the White River is 190’ long, and is a through truss design built in 1902. The 110 year old bridge spans the 85 feet gap of the White Riverbed. There have been no dates found that state when the first bridge over the White River was built, however in the 1874 Atlas of Delaware County, a simple bridge over the river is drawn but not detailed enough to determine the material. As was the method in the early years, the original bridge was most likely constructed of wood and replaced a few times.
After years of searching for any record or recollection of the early bridge, a reference in a land deed, dated August 1867 mentions the “iron bridge” in the land description.

Current photo of the old iron Smithfield bridge (photo courtesy of Cheryl Cross)

Smithfield Oil Field (photo courtesy of Tom McKee)

Oil Derricks (photo courtesy of Luke Heuing, found in Springfield, Ohio March 2014)

Pollution of White River by Oil-Well Wastes
In 1903 petroleum was discovered in Delaware County about four miles east of Muncie. Within the period of the next eighteen months, 600 wells were put down, all of which poured more or less salt water and waste oil into White River. This waste ran over the land, ruining it for agricultural purposes, eventually finding its course to the river, where it polluted the water supply by making it decidedly brackish from the salt water, and extremely unsightly and malodorous from the oil refuse. The region producing the greatest nuisance is that known as Smithfield, which is situated a few miles above Muncie, Indiana, and about twenty-five miles below the source of White River. The land in this section is quite level, with sufficient drainage, however, to permit the oil and other wastes to flow through ravines to the river. Ditches have been constructed in places to facilitate the removal of these undesirable fluids. (From the book: Thirty-Second Annual Report of the State Board of Health for the Fiscal and Board Year Ending September 30, 1913 published in Indianapolis, 1914)

North (Smithfield – Albany Pike)
One of the first roads opened for public travel in Delaware County was from Deed's Mill at Smithfield to the village of Albany. This road ran parallel with, and one mile west, of the county line. It was opened in 1833, as it was a new road, and greatly obstructed by trees and underbrush when Reuben Strong same to the township, in 1834. He was compelled to cut his way over a portion of the route. The road was both ill shaped and ill kept until it was formally surveyed, straightened, and improved generally, in 1840. It traverses the township in a north and south line, forming the western boundary of Sections 12, 13, 24 and 25.

East (Smithfield to Windsor)
Another early laid-out road was the one from Windsor, through Smithfield, to Muncie. It was surveyed and located at the expense of Randolph County, on the south side of White River. From this road another branched off near the Parker Truitt farm, running in a northwesterly course to the town of Granville.

South (Smithfield - Burlington Pike)
The Smithfield and Burlington Pike runs from Smithfield in a southerly course, to New Burlington, in Perry Township. This route crossed the White River over the Smithville Bridge at the west edge of the town.

West (Smithfield – Muncie Pike)
The road from Muncie to Marion, Ind., was laid out soon after the early settlement of the township began, and from time to time, as occasion required, roads were located from one point to another within the township, to facilitate local travel and communication. In later years several of the principal roads were converted into turnpikes which have proved of great benefit in seasons when the other roads have been almost impassable.

The Muncie, Smithfield, and Windsor Turnpike Company was established in 1868. The original members included John Cline and John Cecil. In 1868-9 Israel and Eliza Hutchings had a right of way complaint which was resolved within the year. (Muncie, Smithfield and Windsor Turnpike Company Records, Indiana State Library)

In 1847-48, the Indiana State Legislature approved a charter for a new railroad line to connect Indianapolis to the railroads in Ohio. The “Bee Line”, as it was known, was officially the Indianapolis and Bellefontaine line and would become the first railroad to connect Indiana to the East and only the second line to connect Indianapolis.

The double tracked Ohio gauge main line ran eastward from Ingalls through Pendleton, Anderson, and Chesterfield on its way to Muncie and Union City on the Indiana Ohio border. From Muncie to Union City was a 32 mile stretch. Here, it connected with the Dayton and Union tracks and linked Indianapolis via Muncie to the railways in the East.

Smithfield was laid out in 1828, grew and prospered for the next 22 years, (until 1850) as a pioneer town due mainly to the influx of settlers. Smithfield’s location, being conveniently nestled along the banks of White River, was established and by 1840 a trading point along one of the first few roads of in the area, the Smithfield to Albany Pike.

Track construction began from Indianapolis toward Muncie with the goal of ending at the Indiana-Ohio state line. The construction of the railroad was undoubtedly a huge event for the inhabitants of Smithfield and Liberty Township. Construction of the railroad tracks reached Muncie by the summer of 1852 and was probably north of Smithfield by the fall. No doubt some of the local citizens and farmers ventured out to the construction site to watch the project under way.

Selma Peat Bog
“One mile west of Selma is a lake or peat bog now partially filled up, which with the drainage, has converted the waste into wheat and corn land. When the Bee Line railroad first built their embankment across this, they returned one morning to find the results of their labors swallowed up in the depths of the treacherous bog, the accumulated mass of vegetation which had given away, precipitating the mass into the waters beneath. This point required constant watching and repairs for year . . .” according to A. J. Phinney in the 1881 state geology report.
Delaware Co. 1874 Atlas

Finally on 20 January 1853 the Indiana tracks were tied together with the Ohio tracks at the new town of Union. Monday, the 24th of January 1853, marked the day the railroad line was officially open for the first through passenger train from Dayton via Union City onto Indianapolis.

The new railroad tracks, being laid across the township and passing about a mile north of town, sounded the death-knell of Smithfield. Although there was quite a business done for several years thereafter, the new town of Selma sprang up along the tracks. Smithfield began to deteriorate and business gradually left for Selma which prospered. Smithfield continued to diminish until it had become more valuable for cornfields than as a town or trading point.

Map of the Bellefontaine and Indiana Railroad and Connecting Lines
Robert Milnor, Chief Engineer, 1852.

Miscellaneous People Sightings

1830 Census Liberty Township – Delaware County

1847 Delinquent Taxpayers for Liberty Township (Smithfield)
The “Indiana” Signal” (Dec 13, 1848) contained a list of lands and lots in Delaware Co. returned delinquent for nonpayment of taxes for the year 1847. Some landowners held land in more than one township. The auditor gave notice that the lands and lots would be sold at public auction to pay for the taxes, interest and penalties owed. The sale would he held on the first Monday, being the first day of January, 1849. Those not sold would be forfeited to the state.

1850 Census - Occupations (other than laborer and farmer) in Liberty Township

Union Civil War Soldiers from Smithfield

1873 Smithfield Town Lot Owners

1873 Tax Assessor’s Survey (see map)

1874 Atlas - Indian Mound
Elihu Cecil Mound (Liberty Township, Section 23). A mound 30 feet in diameter and 30 inches high is located on the North bank of the White River. May still exist. Had been trenched by local collectors prior to 1930.

Coordinates of mentioned places
Smithfield      40°10’11.37N      85°16’08.15” W     
Stout’s Mill 40°10’10.44N 85°16’11.65” W
Deed’s Mill 40°10’16.75N 85°16’19.88” W
Smithfield Bridge 40°10’7.60N 85°16’15.87” W
Smithfield Cemetery 40°10’10.92N 85°16'02.28” W
Smithfield M.E. Church      40°10’05.40N 85°16'05.06” W
Friedline Cemetery 40°09’05.40N 85°14'19.15” W
Deed's 40°10’16.09N 85°16'17.69” W
Stout's 40°10’10.10N 85°16'11.29” W

References webpage, Federal Census Records (URL:

Beech Grove Cemetery Records Muncie, Indiana) (1841 – present), online
Bowen, A. W. & Co., A Portrait and Biographical Record of Delaware and Randolph Counties, Ind., Chicago, 1894.

Delaware County Court Records (1827 – 1959), online

Delaware County Deed Records (1827 – early 1900s), online

Helm, Thomas B. History Of Delaware County Indiana 1881

Hesser, Leon F. The Taming of the Wilderness Indiana’s transition from Indian hunting grounds to Hoosier Farmland: 1800-1875 e-book, 2002.

The Indiana Gazetteer or Topographical Dictionary in the State of Indiana of 1833

Johnson, Howard. A Home in the Woods Pioneer Life in Indiana, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1991.

Kemper, General William Harrison, A Twentieth Century History of Delaware County, Indiana, Volume 1 & 2, Lewis Publishing Co., New York, 1908.

Kingman, A. L. Map of Delaware County Indiana 1874.

Map of the Bellefontaine and Indiana Railroad and Connecting Lines, Robert Milnor, Chief Engineer, 1852.

National Weather Service, Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, Historical Flood Data

Post Offices of the United States, 1846, 1851, and 1913.

R. Meeks & Sons Mortuary Records (Muncie, Indiana) 1896 – present, online

Richman, George J., History of Hancock County, Indiana, 1916.

Sieber, Ellen and Munson, Cheryl Ann, Looking at History, Indiana University Press, 1992.

Smith, John L. and Driver, Lee L., Past and present of Randolph County, Indiana: with biographical sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families, A.W. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, 1914.

Thirty-Second Annual Report of the State Board of Health for the Fiscal and Board Year Ending September 30, 1913 published in Indianapolis, 1914.

Stowe, Richard A., Some Historical Highlights of Methodism in Delaware County, Indiana, A Working Paper of the Archives Committee of High Street United Methodist Church Muncie, Indiana., November 2006.

Tucker E., History of Randolph County Indiana, Chicago: A. L. Kingman, 1882.

Turner, Samuel Indiana Register and Pocket Manual Indianapolis, 1846, pp 100-101.

If you are interested in Smithfield, please send me an E-mail.

copyright 2006 Scot Shively
Webmaster Beth Shively
last update 17 Mar 2014

since 25 Mar 08