|Unique Business in Martin County
Naval Base started development during World War II, in 1940.
Crane was one of many government production facilities across the
Hoosier state, and started as a naval weapons depot. It was named in
honor of Commodore William Montgomery Crane, the first head of the
Navy’s Bureau of Ordinance.
geological composition of the soil in Martin County is ideal for gypsum
material. Both National Gypsum and US Gypsum operate plants near Shoals.
was once a huge industry in Martin County. Shells of the mussels were
used for pearl buttons beginning in 1915 by Fabius Gwin, and became an
astonishing industry as time passed. Gwin was known as the “king
of the button industry” in the state, and his factories paid extremely
well and employed over 300 people during the peak seasons as
diggers. The shells from the White River are superior to
Tennessee River shells, which is the major shell producing river in the
United States. Gwin kept his company afloat until his death in
1947. However, when zippers and elastics were introduced to the
market, buttons dramatically lost their popularity and the industry in
Martin County took a severe blow. These buttons could still be
produced today as the River has a bountiful supply of mussels but they
have been protected.
pottery in Shoals/Loogootee: About the same time period as the famous
Rookwood Pottery was made in Ohio. Upton Stuckey realized the clay from
the hills of his farm could be molded and finished by firing. Ovens
were built, and the venture later became the first pottery in Martin
County, and perhaps one of the very first in the state of Indiana.
Containers by Stuckey had a blue and blue-green glaze design that
resembles a bird. Devol and Catterson operated two pottery kilns at
Shoals and made 92,000 gallons of common stoneware annually, from
1870-1892. The land in and around Shoals and Loogootee was ideal for
pottery, and probably still is. John H. Folks made stoneware, flower
pots, etc. from a bed of light gray potters’ clay located on the Joseph
Cannon farm beginning in 1878. The stratum of potter’s clay used by Mr.
Folks is nearly five feet thick and underlies a vein of coal. The area
is extant with a variety of yellow-loess potter’s clays and shale and
is ideal for this industry.
Music Company, specializing in operating juke boxes, is located in
Shoals and one of the largest companies of its kind in the Midwest.
abundant supply of natural gas and sand led to the growth of a booming
glass industry in Martin County. The Loogootee Glass Company,
Graham Brothers, New Caladonia Glass Works, and Phoenix Window Glass
Company resided in Loogootee, starting around 1902. Everything
from fancy, delicate perfume bottles to medicine bottles, glass chains
to fruit jars, were produced. It’s been quoted that “just about every
man in town worked there at one time or another, even if it was just
for a short time.” All of the factories closed, however, by 1915
because the supply of natural gas was extinguished.
Facts and “True Stories”
1861, a troop train carrying soldiers passed through Loogootee, heading
towards Washington, D.C. for guard duty. After the engine cleared
the Beaver Creek Bridge, a rail gave way, causing a horrific wreck that
killed 40 soldiers and wounded 105. At the time, Martin County
had a large group of Knights of the Golden Circle, who were southern
sympathizers, and were suspected of loosening the rail.
first veteran that died in the Civil War from Martin County was Private
Amos Boyd of the 14th Indiana Volunteers. He was killed in West
Virginia at Cheat Summit Fort.
A Martin County resident visits the gravesite of Amos Boyd, first Martin County veteran to die in the Civil War.
Photo courtesy of
of its caves and cliffs, the region around and including Shoals was a
popular hideout for bootleggers during the Prohibition.
- Pre-historic Indians lived in the
area as far back as 11,000 BC. They hunted now extinct animals
such as bison, mammoth, and mastodon.
to the Society of Indiana Pioneers, an individual was a pioneer of the
county if they resided here on or before December 31, 1825.
- Originally a part of Daviess County, Martin was organized as a separate county February 1, 1820.
- The first state highway was built in 1820. It ran from New Albany to Vincennes, and went through Martin County (Hwy 150).
Gang: Martin County had some notorious citizens in the 1880s named
Archer that were supposedly robbers and murderers. They were
finally lodged in the Martin County jail in March of 1886 after years
of roaming free. The people of the community took the law into
their own hands, and on the night of March 9, 1886, they broke into the
jail, locked up the sheriff, took the prisoners onto the court house
lawn, and with ropes in hand, lynched the Archer Gang. At 1:00
a.m., the court house bells rang to alert the townspeople to witness
the Archers’ hanging on the court house lawn, where they remained
hanging until noon of the next day.
County has had the most county seats of any county in Indiana, totaling
nine. The first county seat was at Hindostan, because it was the
largest town in the county. It was also on the New
Albany-Vincennes stagecoach route, which was the first stagecoach route
in Indiana. After Hindostan was hit by the Yellow Fever, the
county seat moved to Mount Pleasant from 1828-1844. A new
community developed near Mount Pleasant in 1853, where the Ohio and
Mississippi Railroad came through. The people of Mount Pleasant
moved to this new community, called Loogootee, which remains the
largest (and only) city in the county. Surprisingly, Loogootee
has never been the county seat. Trinity Springs became
the new county seat, known for its natural health spas. The last
and final move was to Shoals on the White River, approximately 8 miles
from Hindostan, in 1871, where approximately 1200 people reside today.
- Information provided by Bill Whorrall’s A Photographic History of Martin County, Robert L. Reid and Thomas E. Rodgers’ A Good Neighbor: The First Fifty Years At Crane, Harry Q. Holt’s History of Martin County Indiana, and Bob Greene.
Contemporary Artist, Authors
Author and story teller Wendell Trogdon, has written about Southern Indiana first hand. Published through Country Pines Printing and available online, some of his titles include:
Damon-Beyond the Glory
Indiana at Random
The 1930’s and 1940’s…Pain and Pleasure
Winding are the Roads
Main Street Diners (including Velma’s at Shoals)
not just the name of a popular television show. The history
of Martin County is replete with tales of a lost city and buried
gold. Situated on the New Albany-Vincennes stage coach route, the
first stage coach route in Indiana, Hindostan is the county’s first
- The traditional story
goes that in the fall of 1820, an illness plagued the town of Hindostan
and wiped out the population (about 1000 people). It appears the
illness was Yellow Fever caused from mosquitoes. Today, there are
no signs of an existence of the town of Hindostan, except for the town
cemeteries filled with the families lost to the Yellow Fever.
However, we only know for sure that fifteen people died that
year. We do know that the Yellow Fever struck Vincennes in 1820
as well. By 1825, people had begun to leave Hindostan, and in
1828 the county seat was moved to Mt. Pleasant. But, as for no
one residing at Hindostan after 1828 as is popularly believed, history
reveals that ferries ran all the way up in to the 1840s, and the famous
mills were still in operation in 1855. Domestic disputes were
recorded in 1830, as were several assaults and batteries. The
depression of 1819-1820 resulted in people moving into Hindostan and
buying property on “notes,” and never paying these notes back. So
many debts and lawsuits were accumulated by the citizens that
eventually many fled the area. Therefore, it seems that Hindostan
lost most of its residents from moving rather than illness
||Hindostan Falls on the White River, site of mills, ferry crossings,
the “lost town.”
Photo courtesy of Bob Greene.
county treasurer was rumored to have come down with the Yellow Fever,
and when he fell ill he took the county taxes that he had collected and
buried it in an iron pot. He told no one of where he had hidden
the pot, so the legend of the buried money still lives on today.
one is exactly sure of how Martin County got its name. A few
suggestions were Major Thomas Martin, who was from Kentucky, and John
P. Martin, a Revolutionary War veteran.
“Bigfoot” sighting occurred in 1979. 19-year-old Andy Keith saw a
“Bigfoot”-type creature cross the road near his home in the hills of
northeast Martin County. He said that the creature smelled so
bad, he was unable to get close enough to it to follow it.
Although they tried, no man was able to stomp into the slightly muddy
terrain hard enough to create a footprint as deep as the one left
Andy Keith shows off a mold of the giant footprint, belonging to the creature he saw wandering around Martin County.
for more on this story.
Martin County today, a quick profile:
Martin County detailed history sources:
Bill Whorall's Books & Documentaries on Martin County:
Information provided by Bill Whorrall’s
A Photographic History of Martin County
and Bob Greene.