Then and Now
New London was established in 1845 by John Lamb and Reuben Edgerton. I have never read or heard why they decided on "New London," but it probably has some connection to their origin. Most of the early settlers in this area were Quakers (Society of Friends) from southern Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Many had gradually migrated northward as new lands were opened to settlement. The area where New London is located was part of the Miami Reserve, the last major reservation of the Miami Indians in Indiana. It was purchased by the U. S. government under the Treaties of Wabash, 1834 and 1840.
Most of New London's early settlers were farmers or business people. As Quakers, they stressed education and were against slavery. The village was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and many citizens helped conduct runaway slaves on their escape route toward Canada during the 1850s.
Today, New London is a quiet little village of about 150 people. Most of its residents work in neighboring Kokomo or other towns.
New London's historic sites would include the Quaker Spring, New London Friends Church & Cemetery, the pioneer cemetery, and the Masonic Lodge.
Indiana County Historian
MORE HISTORY OF NEW LONDON, IN
The only town Monroe Township has ever had is the town of New London, located in the eastern end of the township on the forks of Honey Creek. It sits on an elevated piece of ground surrounded by good farming country.
The town was laid out in 1845 by John Lamb and Reuben Edgerton. In 1845 John Lamb offered a lot to any blacksmith who would move to New London. William Gifford accepted and moved there Dec. 18, 1845, with his wife Esther and family. . . . A weekly mail service started in 1846 with Nathan Hunt as the first mail carrier. Within a few years, however, the United States government established a post office at Russiaville and the one at New London was discontinued.
Early businesses included a dry goods store, a grocery store, and a mercantile business. Little Jonathan Haworth was the first storekeeper in New London. John B. Miller came from east Tennessee in 1839 and was the first harness maker in the county. He brought hides to the tannery at New London to have them made into leather. The town also had an inn. Known as The Tavern, the two-story building was built by Big Jonathan Haworth next to the town hall.
The first minister in the township was Job Garner of the Newlight Christian denomination. He and his wife Rebecca came in 1840, and since there were no church buildings yet, services were held in the log cabins of the early settlers. Sometime later a meetinghouse was erected and called the Sugar Grove Union Church. It was located in the western part of Monroe Township near present-day County Road 1280 West and a short distance north of 250 South. Through the years the Sugar Grove Union Church was shared by a variety of denominations including United Brethren, Newlight Christians, Methodists, and the Progressive Brethren (1883-1886), who were a group that divided from the German Baptist Brethren denomination northeast of them. This church was destroyed by a suspicious fire in January of 1888. A Kokomo Dispatch account at the time suggested there were conflicts among the Methodists and the Newlight Christians and that the fire might have been intentional. The same year the Oakland Christian Church was built and has been in use up to the present time.
The first newspaper in the county was started at New London. It was a Free-Soil paper called The Pioneer, published by Moses Wickersham. It lasted from 1848 to 1850. Financial troubles resulted in the press and type being sold and moved to Kokomo, and The Kokomo Tribune grew out of that.
During the days when the Abolitionist Movement was strong in the 1850s, many in the New London community, especially Quakers, helped the Freedman's Aid Committee to assist runaway slaves. As slaves escaped from their plantations in the South and crossed the Ohio River, many were aided on their way north to their ultimate destination in Canada. These series of stops were known as the Underground (secret) Railroad which had a number of 'conductors.' In the New London area, one such conductor was Daniel R. Jones, known as 'Uncle Dan.' As slaves came from Westfield to New London, sympathizers would give shelter and food to those in need of safety before being sent on to Poplar Grove in Ervin Township and on north until safely out of the United States.
There were no gravel roads in the area until 1867 when the New London to Kokomo Toll Road was started. It was finished in 1870 at a cost of $27,000. The ten-mile road ran east and west, crossing Wildcat Creek on a fine, iron bridge built at a cost of another $3500. The road remained a toll road for several years, and the toll gate stood one-half mile east of the landmark known today as Shirley's Corner.
The last school at New London was built in 1913 at a cost of $30,000. The New London School became a grade school in 1948-49 when Monroe, Harrison, and Honey Creek Townships consolidated to become Western School Corporation.
In 1976, at the time of the country's bicentennial, New London had approximately 60 homes, one barbershop, one filling station, a recreation center called the 'New London Barn,' and one church, the New London Friends Meeting. The school had been torn down, and the school property was leased to the Howard County Park Board. Bud Temple has in recent years purchased the park land. Today, there are 67 homes in New London and many more have been added in the surrounding territory.
There are five cemeteries located in the township. The oldest one is located behind where New London High School stood and has pioneer graves dating back to 1841. On the north end of the New London Friends Church and also across the road from the church is the New Friends Cemetery. The other three cemeteries are in the western part of the township. McCoy Cemetery is located on private property at 50 South - 975 West; Pleasant Hill Cemetery is at 150 South - 1025 West; and the Miller Cemetery is at 100 South - 1100 West.
Excerpted from the Howard County Family History Book (Howard County Genealogical Society, 1995) with permission from the Howard County Genealogical Society and Turner Publications.