Brookville

 



Brookville, IN from SR252, photo 2003, C.G.

Brookville, Main St. photo c. 1906 ,Winans

 

               Brookville is nestled between the two forks of the Whitewater river, the East and  the West, just before they join. This location, with hills rimming the town, has provided both natural beauty, and risk of flooding since its early days. Although frontiersmen had already passed through and began to settle this area, the first land officially entered in this central portion of Brookville township was done so by Amos Butler in 1804. The town was platted in 1808 and was named for one of the proprietor's mother, whose maiden name was Brooks. It might just as easily been named for the many streams that flow from the hills to feed the river. 

             According to the “State Gazetteer” a publication of the time, by 1817 Brookville had over 80 homes, one gristmill, two sawmills, two fulling-mills, three carding machines, one printing office, one silver smith, two saddlers, two cabinet-makers, one hatter, two tailors, four boot and shoemakers, two tanners and curriers, one chair-maker, one cooper, five taverns, seven stores, a jail, a market house and a brick court house.

            In 1820, Brookville was a military post, and an additional boost in its development came between 1823-1825 when the US land office was located here. When the land office moved on to the new town of  Indianapolis, Brookville experienced an economic slump, which improved some with the opening of the Whitewater Canal in 1839. The canal provieded waterpower for the production of goods, and a method of transporting them, allowing the resulting commerce to improve the economy. Sawmills, gristmills, cotton and woolen mills, distilleries, breweries, pork packaging plants, carriage and wagon shops and others located along the canal.

           But the canal was located too close to the river in many places, and repeated flooding damaged it and it's contiguous businesses. In addition, there was a  generally depressed economy across the state, and progress again slowed to a lull while Brookville waited for the completion of the railroad, after which, Brookville settled into a classic turn-of-the century small town community of around 2,000 people.

            As the community grew, the demand for lumber, and for trees for the papermill located along the canal, eventually denuded the county's hillsides of timber. This was probably a contributing factor in the size of the devastating floods of 1895 and 1913.

          After each flood, Brookville rebuilt, though it's size was always limited by the rim of hills, the boundaries of the river and it's economic setbacks.  In 1975, the US Army Corp of Engineers completed the Brookville Dam and Reservoir, a flood control and recreation project.

            Brookville citizens have always valued education and very early in it's history, established some well known and well respected institutions of their time (see Brookville College, Franklin County Seminary)    The natural beauty of the Whitewater Valley, Brookville's scenic location and historic buildings have attracted artists such as T.C. Steele  and Otis Adams (see the Hermitage).

         Today, visitors and citizens can still enjoy its scenic beauty and many of it's remaining historic buildings and historic architecture.

 

            

           

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