Pendleton, Crossroads Town

Early in the history of Indiana, what is now called Fall Creek was a very important landmark for many that came after. (The name Fall Creek comes from, according to some sources, an interpretation of the Native American name “Soo-sooc-pa-ha-loc,” or “Split Waters.” Other sources state that it comes from a Native American word meaning “makes a noisy place.”) Indianapolis, for instance, was platted to be one mile east of the mouth of Fall Creek at White River (Fall Creek’s mouth was originally just northwest of what would become the Washington Street crossing of the White River). But 28 miles upstream, where the stream acquired its name, became a meeting point for several early state roads. That location became the town of Pendleton.

The town of Pendleton was platted in 1830. It was named after its founder, Thomas Pendleton. The location of the town, in addition to the “Falls of Fall Creek,” was also the junction point of several major state roads. These roads were located to connect to a point near those Falls.

The first of these roads was identified in the “Laws of the State of Indiana, Passed and Published at the Thirteenth Session of the General Assembly,” from here on referenced as the 1829 Indiana Laws, in Chapter LXVIII. That act was “an act to locate a State Road from New Castle to Crawfordville.” This act was approved on 9 January 1829.

The act stated that “William Dickson of the county of Henry, Daniel Heaton of the county of Hamilton, and David Vance of the county of Montgomery, be and they are hereby appointed commissioners to view, mark and lay out a state road from New Castle in the county of Henry, thence the nearest and best route to Crawfordsville in Montgomery county, by way of the Falls of Fall Creek in Madison county, and Noblesville in Hamilton county.”

The commissioners were to meet in New Castle “on the first Monday of April next,” that being 6 April 1829. They were then charged with the task to “view, locate and mark said road.” After laying out the path of the road, they were to file their reports with the each of the counties where the road is to be located.

The section of this road from Noblesville west to Crawfordsville became part of SR 32 in 1926. The section from Noblesville to New Castle was an authorized addition to the state highway system in 1930. From New Castle to Pendleton was added as SR 38 in 1932, with the remaining road added in 1933.

Another law in the 1829 Indiana Laws, approved 23 January 1829, appeared as Chapter LXXXII. This was “an act to establish a State Road from Shelbyville, by way of Marion in the county of Shelby, Greenfield in the county of Hancock, to Andersontown in the county of Madison, and for other purposes.” Other purposes that affect this entry is a relocation of the state road that connected New Castle to Lafayette, which from five miles west of New Castle to Noblesville used the same route as the road mentioned above. West of Noblesville was covered by me earlier here.

Section two of this act states “that William Hawkins of Shelby county, Henry Watts of Hancock county, and Thomas Bell of Madison county, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners, to mark and locate a state road, leading from Shelbyville to Marion in Shelby county, thence to Greenfield in Hancock county, thence to the falls of Fall Creek, thence to Andersontown in Madison county, from thence in a direction to Fort Wayne, until it intersects the state road leading from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, in Allen county.”

This state road was mostly be accepted into the state highway system in 1926, at least from Greenfield to just south of Pendleton, and from just north of Pendleton to Anderson and further, as SR 9. Pendleton itself would be bypassed by the ISHC in their laying out of the new state road plan. (SR 9, and SR 67, bypasses Pendleton to the east, through Huntsville.) The Indianapolis-Fort Wayne state road mentioned connected to Noblesville (and is now Allisonville Road).

Later, in 1833, listed in the 1833 Laws of Indiana as Chapter CLXIV, Pendleton was mentioned again as a junction point of state roads. The act, approved 2 February 1833, was “an act to re-locate so much of the Knightstown State Road as lies between Pendleton in Madison county and Strawtown in Hamilton county.” The section from Knightstown to Pendleton, as with most early state roads, is hard to nail down most of the route. Leaving Pendleton to the north, part of it became SR 132 to Lapel. Again, however, from Lapel to Strawtown the original route gets hard to nail down.

Also mentioned in 1833, as part of Chapter CLXXIX (“an Act to locate a State Road from Andersontown in Madison county, to Logansport in Cass county”), section five states that the commissioners appointed for the road mentioned in the act “continue the location of said road from Andersontown in Madison county on the most direct and practible route, to the town of Huntsville in the county aforesaid, and from there the nearest and best way to a point where the Knightstown and Pendleton state road intersects the Newcastle (sic) and Crawfordsville state road.” This was an amendment to the original act, approved 2 February 1833. This amendment would be approved on 1 February 1834. This section would become part of SR 9 in 1926.

The one road to Pendleton that I, so far, can not find in any of my sources is the one that is still named for the purpose for which it was designed: Pendleton Pike. This was the Indianapolis-Pendleton state road. About half of the original route was incorporated into SR 67 in 1926, with US 36 following later. From Alfont to Pendleton, the original route ended up north of the railroad, known as the “Bee Line,” and is known as Reformatory Road, since it connects to the Indiana State Reformatory at Pendleton.

Now, Pendleton is still located along all of these original state roads. But the town itself has been completely removed from INDOT maintenance. SR 132 had been completely removed from INDOT inventory. SR 38 was moved to bypass the town using I-69 and SR 9/SR 67 through Huntsville.

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