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Crawfordsville, Indiana
Montgomery County Courthouse, 2018
Montgomery County Courthouse, 2018
Official seal of Crawfordsville, Indiana
Seal
Nickname(s): 
Athens of Indiana (William Compton, 1825)
Location of Crawfordsville in Montgomery County, Indiana.
Location of Crawfordsville in Montgomery County, Indiana.
Crawfordsville, Indiana is located in Montgomery County, Indiana
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Location in Montgomery County, Indiana
Country United States
State Indiana
County Montgomery
Township Union
Area
 • Total 9.70 sq mi (25.11 km2)
 • Land 9.70 sq mi (25.11 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation
794 ft (242 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 16,306
 • Density 1,681.72/sq mi (649.30/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
47933-47939
Area code(s) 765
FIPS code 18-15742
GNIS feature ID 433103
Website crawfordsville.net

Crawfordsville is a city in Montgomery County in west central Indiana, United States, 49 miles (79 km) west by northwest of Indianapolis. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 15,915. The city is the county seat of Montgomery County, the only chartered city and largest populated place in the county. Crawfordsville is part of a broader Indianapolis combined statistical area, although the Lafayette metropolitan statistical area is only 30 miles (48 km) north. It is home to Wabash College, which was ranked by Forbes as #12 in the United States for undergraduate studies in 2008.

The city was founded in 1823 on the bank of Sugar Creek, a southern tributary of the Wabash River and named for U.S. Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford.

History

National Register of Historic Places

As of 2016, Crawfordsville has twelve properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Three of the properties are currently museums: Gen. Lew Wallace Study, Henry S. Lane House, and Montgomery County Jail and Sheriff's Residence. Two of the properties are historic districts: Crawfordsville Commercial Historic District, and Elston Grove Historic District. Two listings are active churches: Bethel AME Church of Crawfordsville, and Saint John's Episcopal Church. The others properties are currently used as a law office (Otto Schlemmer Building), senior apartments and recreation center (Crawfordsville High School), a private residence (McClelland-Layne House), the headquarters of the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter (Col. Isaac C. Elston House), and a former hospital renovated for senior apartments Culver Union Hospital.

Early 19th century

Crawfordsville Train Station Indiana P6280063
Amtrak Station located behind the historic station, now a meeting facility.

In 1813, Williamson Dunn, Henry Ristine, and Major Ambrose Whitlock noted that the site of present-day Crawfordsville was ideal for settlement, surrounded by deciduous forest and potentially arable land, with water provided by a nearby creek, later named Sugar Creek. They returned a decade later to find at least one cabin built. In 1821, William and Jennie Offield had built a cabin on a little creek, later to be known as Offield Creek, four miles southwest of the future site of Crawfordsville.

Major Whitlock laid out the town in March 1823. Crawfordsville was named in honor of Colonel William H. Crawford, a native Virginian who was the cabinet officer who had issued Whitlock's commission as Receiver of Public Lands.

According to a diary of Sanford C. Cox, one of the first schoolmasters in the area, in 1824: "Crawfordsville is the only town between Terre Haute and Fort Wayne... Maj. Ristine keeps tavern in a two-story log house and Jonathan Powers has a little grocery. There are two stores, Smith's near the land office, and Issac C. Elston's, near the tavern... David Vance [is the] sheriff.

It was successfully incorporated as a town in 1834, following a failed attempt three years earlier.

In November 1832, Wabash College was founded in Crawfordsville as "The Wabash Teachers Seminary and Manual Labor College". On December 18, 1833, the Crawfordsville Record carried a paid announcement of the opening of this school.

Today, it is one of only three remaining all-male liberal arts colleges in the country, and has a student body of around 900.

Crawfordsville grew in size and amenities, adding such necessities as a bank and fire department. It gained status as a city in 1865, when Indiana granted its charters.

Late 19th century

In 1862, Joseph F. Tuttle, after whom Tuttle Grade School was named in 1906 and Tuttle Junior High School (now Crawfordsville Middle School) was named in 1960, became President of Wabash College and served for 30 years. "He was an eloquent preacher, a sound administrator and an astute handler of public relations." Joseph Tuttle, together with his administrators, worked to improve relations in Crawfordsville between "Town and Gown".

Several future and past Civil War generals lived in Crawfordsville at different times. Generals Lew Wallace and Mahlon D. Manson spent most their lives in the town. Generals Edward Canby and John P. Hawkins spent some of their youth in Crawfordsville. General Henry B. Carrington lived in the town after the war, and taught military science at Wabash College. Several other future generals were students at Wabash before the war, including Joseph J. Reynolds, John C. Black (brevet brigadier), Speed S. Fry, Charles Cruft, and William H. Morgan.

In 1880, prominent local citizen Lew Wallace produced Crawfordsville's most famous literary work, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, a historical novel dealing with the beginnings of Christianity in the Mediterranean world. In addition to Wallace, Crawfordsville lived up to its nickname "The Athens of Indiana" by being the hometown of a number of authors, including Maurice Thompson, Mary Hannah Krout, Caroline Virginia Krout, Susan Wallace, Will H. Thompson, and Meredith Nicholson.

Hoosiers have long believed that the first basketball game in Indiana occurred in Crawfordsville YMCA between the teams from Crawfordsville's and Lafayette's YMCAs on March 16, 1894. Recent research, however, conclusively shows that while Crawfordsville was among the first dozen or so Indiana communities to adopt the sport, it was not the first place basketball was played in Indiana. Nevertheless, Crawfordsville had a vibrant basketball playing culture from early on with teams from the local YMCA, Wabash College, Crawfordsville High School, and a business college competing against each other. Crawfordsville was also the site for one of the earliest intercollegiate basketball games between Wabash and Purdue in 1894 at the city's YMCA.

In 1882, one of the first Rotary Jails in the country opened. It served from 1882 until 1972. The jail is now a museum and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

20th century

Crawfordsville IN - view from courthouse
Washington and Main street, 1997. Western half of the 100 block of East Main Street, as seen from courthouse.

The beginning of the 20th century marked important steps for Crawfordsville, as Culver Union Hospital and the Carnegie Library were built in 1902. Culver operated as a not-for-profit, municipally-owned facility for 80 years, was then sold to for-profit American Medical International, and in 1984 was relocated from its original location near downtown to a new campus north of the city. The hospital's ownership was transferred to Sisters of St. Francis Health Services, Inc. in 2000 and renamed St. Clare Medical Center; in 2011, it was again renamed Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health - Crawfordsville. The Carnegie Library was converted into a local museum and the public library has since moved across the street. In 1911, Crawfordsville High School (motto: Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve) was founded, and promptly won the state's first high school basketball title. Crawfordsville's major employer for much of the century, commercial printer RR Donnelley, began operations in Crawfordsville in 1922.

Recent history has held few nationally noteworthy events for the city, but much internal change. Nucor Steel, Alcoa CSI, Raybestos Products Company, Pace Dairy Foods, and Random House have all created factories in or near Crawfordsville which provided employment to much of the population. Manpower has taken over as the primary employer in the city and has allowed most of the local companies to reduce employees. In 2008, Raybestos laid off the majority of its workforce with less than 100 employees left. Wabash College won the Division III NCAA basketball title in 1982. The college plays an annual football game against Depauw University for the Monon Bell, one of the oldest rivalries in all college sports. In 1998, the state began a proposed project to widen U.S. Route 231, in an attempt to ease intrastate travel flow.

21st century

In 2005, the Crawfordsville District Public Library moved into a new building across the street from the city's Carnegie library. The library retained ownership of the old building and re-opened it as the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County in 2007.

On May 8, 2007, approximately a quarter-block of historic buildings in the 100 block of South Washington Street was burned in a major fire. A woman in one of the buildings reported the fire. One person, Leslie Eric Largent, died in the fire. The fire was covered by the press statewide. Two buildings, built circa 1882, were completely destroyed: one that housed the Silver Dollar Bar (formerly Tommy Kummings' Silver Dollar Tavern); the other contained the New York Shoe Repair and Bargain Center at the corner of Pike and Washington streets. Above the shoe store were several apartments where residents were sleeping. On May 22, the fire was ruled to have been an act of arson.

In 2015, Crawfordsville won a Stellar Community grant from Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs.

Local legend

An alleged monster was seen here in the late 19th century that became known as the Crawfordsville monster. It was described to be made of a cloud with red glowing eyes. It is now believed to have been a flock of birds huddled together in confusion due to the town's newly installed electric street lights. The story was featured in The History Channel's television series Monster Quest, in an episode featuring unidentified flying creatures.

Geography

Crawfordsville is located at 40°2′20″N 86°53′48″W / 40.03889°N 86.89667°W / 40.03889; -86.89667 (40.038831, -86.896755). According to the 2010 census, Crawfordsville has a total area of 9.15 square miles (23.70 km2), all land. Crawfordsville is located in west central Indiana, about an hour west-northwest of Indianapolis, the state's capital and largest city. While the Crawfordsville Micropolitan Area is not yet formally a part of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area, it is considered a part of the wider Indianapolis Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Indianapolis marketing area.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 1,327
1850 1,513 14.0%
1860 1,922 27.0%
1870 3,701 92.6%
1880 5,251 41.9%
1890 6,089 16.0%
1900 6,649 9.2%
1910 9,371 40.9%
1920 10,139 8.2%
1930 10,355 2.1%
1940 11,089 7.1%
1950 12,851 15.9%
1960 14,231 10.7%
1970 13,842 −2.7%
1980 13,325 −3.7%
1990 13,584 1.9%
2000 15,243 12.2%
2010 15,915 4.4%
2020 16,306 2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 15,915 people, 6,396 households, and 3,837 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,739.3 inhabitants per square mile (671.5/km2). There were 7,154 housing units at an average density of 781.9 per square mile (301.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.1% White, 1.7% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 3.3% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.2% of the population.

There were 6,396 households, of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.0% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.91.

The median age in the city was 36.6 years. 22.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 13.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24% were from 25 to 44; 23.4% were from 45 to 64, and 16.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 50.1% male and 49.9% female.

Transportation

Highways

Rail

See also: Crawfordsville (Amtrak station)

Currently, Amtrak provides service to Crawfordsville. Amtrak Train 51, the westbound Cardinal, is scheduled to depart Crawfordsville at 7:28 am on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. The train goes to Lafayette, Rensselaer, Dyer, and Chicago Union Station to connect with other trains.

Amtrak Train 50, the eastbound Cardinal, is scheduled to depart Crawfordsville at 10:30 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with service to Indianapolis, Connersville, Cincinnati, Maysville, South Portsmouth, Ashland, Huntington, Charleston, Montgomery, Thurmond, Prince, Hinton, Alderson, White Sulphur Springs, Clifton Forge, Staunton, Charlottesville, Culpeper, Manassas, Alexandria, and Washington, D.C. and continuing on to New York City.

Until 1967, passenger service was provided by the Monon Railroad, providing service to Chicago, Lafayette, Greencastle, and Bloomington, Indiana. The Monon railroad was merged into the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1971.

Airport

Crawfordsville is served by the Crawfordsville Regional Airport (KCFJ). Located four miles (6.4 km) south of the city, the airport handles approximately 6,383 operations per year, with 100% general aviation and <1% air taxi. The airport has a 5,505-foot (1,678 m) asphalt runway with approved GPS and NDB approaches (Runway 4-22).

Education

Most of the city lies within the Crawfordsville Community Schools school district, while parts of northern Crawfordsville are in North Montgomery Community School Corporation and very small sections of southern Crawfordsville are in South Montgomery Community School Corporation.

Universities and colleges

  • Wabash College
  • Ivy Tech Community College (Crawfordsville)
Journal Review
Journal Review main office on North Green Street.

Notable people

Wallace Ben-Hur cover
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace
  • Joseph P. Allen – mission specialist on the first fully operational flight of the Space Shuttle in 1982
  • Albert B. Anderson – Judge for U.S. District Court 1902 to 1925 and U.S. Court of Appeals from 1925 to 1938
  • "Curly Bill" Brocius – Old West outlaw, evidence stating his birthplace as Crawfordsville is tenuous
  • Edward Richard Sprigg Canby – Union general in the American Civil War; attended local Wabash College as a student.
  • Henry Beebee Carrington – Union general during the Civil War
  • Joseph Stephen Crane – restaurateur of Luau and Kon Tiki restaurants; actor; husband to actresses Lana Turner (1942–1944) and Martine Carol (1948–1953)
  • Sidney and Wilbur de Paris – brothers, jazz musicians
  • Beatrice Schenk de Regniers – children's books author
  • Dick Dietz – professional baseball player
  • Leroy Edwards – 1940s University of Kentucky and professional basketball player
  • Isaac Compton Elston, Sr. – land speculator, banker, patriarch of Crawfordsville's pre-eminent family
  • Dave Gerard – cartoonist created "Will-Yum" and "Citizen Smith", also served as Crawfordsville mayor
  • Bayless W. Hanna – Indiana Attorney General (1870–1872), U.S. Minister to Argentina (1885–1889), publisher of the Crawfordsville Review (1883–1885)
  • Elizabeth Boynton Harbert – 19th-century American author, lecturer, reformer and philanthropist, born and grew up in Crawfordsville.
  • John Parker Hawkins – lived in Crawfordsville as a boy, career Army officer, became a Union brigadier general during the Civil War
  • Bill Holman – cartoonist, creator of Smokey Stover
  • James Brian Hellwig (1959–2014) – professional wrestler, best known as The Ultimate Warrior
  • Kent Kessler – avant garde jazz bassist
  • Caroline Virginia Krout – author
  • Mary Hannah Krout – journalist and author
  • Eleanor Lambert – head of NYC Fashion Institute, sister of Ward Lambert
  • Janet Lambert – author of young adult fiction
  • Ward Lambert – Purdue University's basketball coach from 1916–1917, 1918–1946, National Basketball League Commissioner, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member, brother of Eleanor Lambert
  • Henry S. Lane – United States Senator, Governor of Indiana, and pallbearer for Abraham Lincoln
  • Stephen A. Love – musician
  • Mahlon D. Manson – Union Army brigadier general, Indiana Lieutenant Governor (1885–1886), U.S. Representative (1871–1873), resident of Crawfordsville
  • James W. Marshall – gold miner who set off the California Gold Rush.
  • Joseph E. McDonald – lawyer, U.S. Representative (1849–1850), U.S. Senator (1875–1881)
  • Caleb Mills – author of the free school bill of Indiana, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, first professor at Wabash College
  • James Atwell Mount – Governor of Indiana from 1897–1901
  • Kenyon Nicholson – playwright and screenwriter
  • Meredith Nicholson – author (The House of a Thousand Candles, A Hoosier Chronicle), politician, diplomat
  • Robert B. F. Peirce – U.S. Representative (1881–83)
  • Allen Saunders – cartoonist, wrote Steve Roper, and Mary Worth
  • Ferdinand Louis Schlemmer – artist
  • Will ShortzThe New York Times puzzle writer
  • Maurice Thompson – author, poet, naturalist, State Geologist, popularized archery as a sport
  • William Wheeler Thornton – author, State Supreme Court librarian, Indiana Deputy Attorney General, Crawfordsville City Attorney
  • Randal Turner – opera singer; baritone
  • Dick Van Dyke – actor, briefly attended Tuttle Middle School in Crawfordsville
  • Lew Wallace – Union general in the Civil War and author of Ben-Hur; Governor of New Mexico Territory from 1878 to 1881; served as U.S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire from 1881 to 1885; resided in Crawfordsville; attended Wabash College.
  • Susan Wallace – author and poet, wife of Lew Wallace
  • Maurine Dallas Watkins – author of Chicago; Hollywood screenwriter
  • Howdy Wilcox – Indianapolis 500 racing pioneer, winner of the 1919 Indy 500
  • Mary Holloway Wilhite (1831–1892) – physician and philanthropist
  • Henry Lane Wilson – U.S. diplomat and Ambassador to Mexico, son of James Wilson
  • James Wilson – politician, United States Representative from Indiana and United States Ambassador to Venezuela
  • John L. Wilson – politician, United States Representative and Senator from Washington, son of James Wilson

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