- Hendricks County was officially formed by an act of the Indiana legislature in April, 1824. It was formed from the area of Putnam County and some unorganized territory, and named Hendricks in honor of Indiana’s governor, William Hendricks. Guilford Township was one of the first places to be settled. Several families, many of them of Quaker faith, traveled from Guilford County, North Carolina and settled there, in the area around present-day Plainfield.
- In 1851 an area of Middle Township was used to form Union Township, and in 1863 an area of Brown Township was re-named as Lincoln Township, in honor of President Abraham Lincoln. Hendricks County also acquired some land from Morgan County in 1868.
- Hendricks County borders on Boone County to the north, Montgomery and Putnam Counties to the west, Morgan County to the south, and Marion County (Indianapolis) to the east. During the early settlement families came to Hendricks from the Indianapolis area, because of the good farmland and opportunities to be had. The trend was reversed after 1880, when many Hendricks County residents left to pursue jobs in the city.
© 1997-2009 by Meredith Thompson, mere
The success of Roman roads is generally considered the cornerstone of longevity for that ancient empire as they provided the ability to move soldiers and to support commerce. “All roads lead to Rome” is a reminder of just how successful this transportation system was and its importance to organized government.
The concept of a “National Road” began during the presidency of George Washington and funding was appropriated by Congress during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency who had placed a high priority on its development. The National Road was the first attempt by the United States to provide a means to move people and goods across her vast territory. Funding for the road to be built started in Cumberland, Maryland (from which fact it originally was called the “Cumberland Road,” now commonly known as US 40), traversing Pennsylvania, Virginia (now West Virginia), Ohio, Indiana and Illinois ending in St. Louis, however, the official designation defines the National Road as beginning in Baltimore and ending in St. Louis. Funds for the construction were provided for by the sale of lands in the public domain as two percent was reserved for internal improvements under the direction of the United States Congress.
Like many of her sister states, Indiana suffered tremendously from her inability to move products, for example, during the pioneer days vast acres of trees which were cleared had to simply be burned as there was no way to move them from the abundant supply to any area where there was demand. Additionally, stories of pioneers literally cutting their way through the woods to their homesteads are nearly as common as those decrying the “rivers of mud” that the few trails existing would become outside of summer months.
The original route of the National Road would have taken it near Columbus, in Bartholomew County, however, Indiana Congressman Oliver H. Smith successfully lobbied to change its path through Indianapolis. The road first moved into Indiana through Wayne County in 1827 and in 1831 there was an appropriation of $75,000 for work that included the bridge over the White River in Indianapolis making this quite possibly the location for the first ancestor of Indiana’s beloved covered bridges.
In early Indiana history, while the road was winding its way across the state and country, much of Indiana had not been divided into counties and, in fact, many of the counties that did exist were divided into other counties to include the simple changing of borders. An example of this can be found on the route map used for this site as originally the boundaries of Morgan County bisected a small section of the National Road until the boundary of Hendricks County was extended to include that part of Morgan County.
As time progressed the National Road crossed the continent becoming the primary transportation route. Even with improvements, the advent of the limited access Interstate system eventually drained the volume of traffic from US 40. Still an important byway today it is a wonderful road for leisure travel dishing out an unbelievable slice of Americana such as the home of “Hoosier Poet” James Whitcomb Riley in Hancock County, the Huddelston Farm House in Henry County, the “Madonna of the Trail” in Wayne and much more. In the October 2002 issue of “American Heritage,” US 40 was named the “Most Underrated Highway” in the United States.
The “Madonna of the Trail Memorial” was presented and dedicated on October 28, 1928 by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution to the memory of “Pioneer Mothers of the Covered Wagon Days.” Restored in 1988 by the Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution, this impressive figure marks the entrance of the National Road into Indiana at the site of the First Toll Gate which was erected in about 1850. This historic site is now part of the Glen Miller City Park. For more detailed information visit this Madonna of the Trail informational web site.
The Indiana National Road Association exists with the purpose of preserving, protecting and promoting the National Road in Indiana and recently 84 markers were placed along this historic route through out the state to increase public awareness.
The National Road in Indiana Map on this site was designed using information found online in the National Archives American Memory Map Collection .. Click on the picture below to see a large view of the map.