1833: Early State Roads, and Destinations

When one looks at a map of the state of Indiana, one gets the impression that, with the exception of straightening roads here and there, the roads that are on the landscape have been there forever. When some of the names of these roads are taken into consideration (for example, in Marion County, where I am, we have Rockville Road, Lafayette Road, Zionsville Road, Westfield Boulevard, Allisonville Road, Pendleton Pike, Brookville Road, Shelbyville Road, Madison Avenue, etc.), it should be a dead giveaway where these roads go. For the most part, you would be accurate. However, doing some research into old state roads, especially from 1833, shines new light on what one would think about where these road go.

Let’s start with what is now SR 44. I covered it (outside of the Road Trip 1926 series) with the article “Fight for Adding SR 44 from Martinsville to Rushville.” What we now know as SR 44 from Franklin to Rushville wasn’t always as straight forward as it is today. The 1833 Indiana Gazetteer describes Shelby County as having “the advantage of several state roads.” This is true. The Michigan Road, which was also part of the Greensburgh (spelling at the time!) State Road and the Lawrenceburgh (again, spelling at the time) State Road, connected Indianapolis to not only Greensburg and Lawrenceburg, but to Madison, since that was where the Michigan Road started.

But several other roads were listed in the 1833 Gazetteer. And remember, I was discussing SR 44. “A road from Rushville to Edinburgh” passes through the central part of the county. The first part, from Rushville to Shelbyville, would become part of SR 44 almost a century later. But the second half of the road, from Shelbyville to Edinburgh, still roughly exists. The road in question doesn’t look like what is now Smithland Road. The Rushville State Road traveled through Shelbyville along what is now Washington Street, as did the original path of the Michigan Road. The Edinburgh side of the route would leave Shelbyville along Washington Street and follow Old Franklin Road/Old State Highway 44 to Marietta Road. Then along that route to Marietta. South of that town, at CR 700S, the road name changes to Edinburgh Road. While it doesn’t connect directly to Edinburgh…because old state roads rarely did connect directly to where they were going…you can still get there along that old road.

The other part of what would become SR 44 connected Franklin, in Johnson County, to Andersonville, on the Brookville State Road, in Franklin County. This old road would join the Rushville-Edinburgh road west of Shelbyville, enter that city on Washington Street, then leave following what is now Michigan Road to what is now SR 244.

Newbern, a town northeast of Columbus in Bartholomew County, had the honor of being along several old state roads. First, a road that connected Napoleon, on the Michigan and Lawrenceburg Roads, to Bloomington ran through the town. Another road connected Shelbyville to Madison more directly than did the Michigan Road. Also, a county road that connected Newbern to both Azalia and Greensburg ran through the town. The road to Greensburg would (probably) become part of SR 46 later in life.

Muncietown, now known as Muncie, also had the benefit of several state roads connecting it to the outside world. One road connected Indianapolis to the Ohio State Line through the town. It is a good guess that in the 20th century, this would become part of SR 67. Another state road route that would enter Muncie connected Richmond to Logansport. This would roughly be US 35 today…but was also known as SR 21 for a few short years between Richmond and Muncie. Also connecting to Muncie was a county road from New Castle to Fort Wayne. This would later become roughly SR 3.

For those of you that are really into the history of Indiana, be sure to check out Google Books for the Indiana Gazetteer of 1833 and Indiana Gazetteer of 1849. Both of those books make for some interesting reading. The both give a very good picture of Indiana at the time, with the names of locations throughout the state that may or may not be on maps today.

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