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A BRIEF HISTORY OF BROWNSBURG, INDIANA
James B. Brown settled in Brown Township in 1824, thus becoming Brownsburg's first settler. The area was dense and unbroken wilderness with only hunters and trappers in the area. Delaware Indians lived in what is now called Lincoln Township, along White Lick Creek, which was then called “Wa-pe-ke-way” or “White Salt.”
In 1928, the first log school house was built in Brown Township. One-room brick schools were built every four miles. Everyone in the family except the mothers went to school when it was not crop season. The age range in the classroom was from six years to 43 years.
Due to problems with swamp land, the northern part of the county, including Brown Township, were the last to be settled. Illnesses caused by the swamp land, then known as “Ague,” affected entire families, with many dying. In the 1840's, woodland ditch systems were built by Irish immigrants familiar with bogs in their native homeland to drain the swamps, making the areas habitable.
Brown Township was divided in 1863, becoming Brown Township in the north, being named after its first resident James B. Brown, who was originally from Kentucky. Lincoln Township was created to the south, being named after President Lincoln as a sign of support during the Civil War.
A stagecoach line was established along a road built in 1820 connecting all of the small outlying communities with Indianapolis.
The Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church was organized under Reverend Joseph Tarkington in 1828. It held services in the little red school house until March 2, 1872, when it moved into its new facilities on Main Street. The church is presently located on South Green Street.
William Harris settled in the area north of what is now Main Street on either side of the current Green Street Area. Selling sections of these woods to incoming pioneers gave the Town its original name of Harrisburg in 1835. Mr. Harris marked these original six acres of land by walking off distances between tree stumps.
Thomas Lockhard and his 17-member congregation organized the Brownsburg Christian Church in 1835.
The post office was established in 1836 under the name of Harrisburg, but was later changed to Brownsburg, since the name Harrisburg was being used by a post office in Fayette County.
The first church building to be erected in Brownsburg was a log structure, built in 1840 by the Brownsburg Christian Church. From the 1840's to the 1870's, the Town almost tripled in size, from its original six acres to more than 16 acres. 1848 brought the area's first election with a total of ten male votes cast.
In the late 1840's the “Little Church in the Wildwood” was founded, with its charter being issued in 1851. In 1881, the current brick building known as White Lick Presbyterian Church was constructed.
A group of Christian Pioneers, meeting in the old Watson School House, organized the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in 1851, affiliated with the White Lick Missionary Baptist Association and the Indiana State Convention. The James Tarpey Farm was obtained in 1857, and a frame building was erected.
Brownsburg's only Catholic Church was established in 1869 under the direction of Reverend D. J. McMullen. The first priest in charge of the congregation after Father McMullen was Reverend J. L. Brassart. The location of this original structure is on North Green Street.
In 1869, the Big Four Railroad opened service to Brownsburg, and by 1910, the Interurban was making daily trips between Indianapolis and Crawfordsville, with scheduled hourly stops in Brownsburg. A covered bridge stood on Highway 136 just west of the Town, until 1927.
During the 1910's and the 1920's Brownsburg residents listened and danced to music played by its own band performing on a bandwagon in the middle of the current intersection of Main and Green Streets. Later, the bandwagon was placed by the Chautaqua held one week in August on the school playground. Here the community enjoyed listening to speakers and talented entertainers. Activities later included community fish fries as well as ten-cent picture shows.
In 1917, Superintendent of Schools Sylvester Moore and his wife, Anne, were instrumental in the forming of Brownsburg's first public library, funded by local gifts, as well as a $12,500 gift from the Carnegie Corporation. The new library, opening with a total of 400 books, named Ottie Roberts as the first Librarian, who remained in that position until 1944.
The first two-story schoolhouse was built in 1917 on College Avenue. Later a gym and another two-story building was added to house 12 grades, while a school in Brown Township, north on Highway 267, housed grades one through eight.
During the 1930's to the 1950's movies at the “Brownie Theatre,” in addition to the Town fish fries and carnivals at Eaton Park, were held throughout the summer.
The Brownsburg Fire Department was officially formed in 1942, as a Volunteer Fire Department.
In the 1950's, a roller skating tent was placed on the school property. Little League sports plus high school sporting activities also began. It was also during this period of time that the Brownsburg Shopping Center was built on the east side of Town.
In 1952 an Elementary School was built east of the gymnasium and another one added on South Green Street, given the name of South. The late 1950's saw the high school erected on Stadium Drive, while the present high school was built on South Odell, turning the old building into an intermediate school for grades five and six.
The 1960's established Brownsburg as having the largest varsity gym in the county-wide basketball area, becoming the site for tournaments. The 1970's saw Brownsburg Square Shopping Center on the north side being erected, and in 1981 a new ultra-modern library with solar energy and a computer check-out system was built on South Jefferson Street.
The library is 25,000 square feet and contains over 102,000 books. Features of the Brownsburg Public Library include meeting rooms, story hour facilities, an outdoor amphitheater, typing rooms, computers for public use, video and audio tapes, art prints, and a totally automated circulation system. Special programs include adult programming, pre-school story hours, Super Saturday Programs for school age children, Summer Reading Regular Programs for all ages, “Booker's Bunch” on Thursday evenings, and annual celebrations during Children's Book Week and National Library Week.
Brownsburg is proud to sustain over 40 civic organizations with local and national affiliations, 30 churches of varying denominations, two community theatre troupes, a Halloween House, carnivals, celebrations, and several area parks.
The 1990 census shows the population of Brownsburg to be 7,628 people. Brownsburg is ideally located just 15 miles from the Indianapolis International Airport and has seven universities within driving distance. Nestled in Hendricks County, this former swampy hunting grounds of the Delaware Indians has grown to be known as a “small town atmosphere with big city opportunities,” as a result of its hardworking civic and public officials.