The History of Lapel and Fishersburg

Compiled by Beth Oljace

1810s - 1820s: Statehood

Indiana becomes the 19th state in 1816 and two years later the Treaty of St. Mary's is signed by area Indians with an agreement to vacate the area by 1821.

1820: Benjamin Fisher comes through Anderson, which he calls a mere Indian village. He settles in the Fishersburg area; white settlers first hear the Indian legend of lead mines in the area.

1821: Methodist circuit riders come to the area and the first church services are held.

1823: Madison County is organized. By this time, Benoni Freel, Benjamin Fisher, George Redick, George Rambo, John Anderson, the Studleys and Phillip Huffman are settled in the area. Fishersburg is named for John Fisher, who was scalped by Indians near Strawtown.

1827: A school house/church is built. Abraham Teeters is the first teacher for the two-month term.

1828: Fishersburg is now a regular part of the Fall Creek Circuit of Methodists out of Noblesville.

1829: The first entries of land are in Stony Creek Township by Henry Shetterly and John Fisher. The first log cabin in Lapel is built by Benoni Freel. 

1830s: Fishersburg Becomes a Town

During the 1830s, a small land boom happens in the Fishersburg area because of the statewide canal project. The first log house in the town of Fishersburg is built by Zorabable Rogers. Mail service begins out of Pendleton. It was delivered on horseback and the carrier would blow a post horn to summon a resident.

1832: A corduroy road is built from Strawtown to Pendleton which passes through Fishersburg.

1835: Zorabable Rogers buys the schoolhouse to use for a blacksmith house and a new schoolhouse, called the Old Clay College, was built. John Fisher enters the land that Lapel will sit on. James Gwinn rides into the area with $500, a horse and a saddle. He hears the story about John Fisher being scalped by Indians and decides not to go on to Illinois.

1837: Fishersburg is platted. The original plat has 61 lots.

1840s - 1850s: Gold and Growth

A local legend is born when John Castor supposedly buries $1000s of gold on his farm, which he locates using a divining rod. People are looking for gold as late as the 1920s.

1840: Datus Studley buys John Fisher's farm.

1843: A new church is built. The log structure eventually will be used as a stable.

1844: William and Benjamin Sylvester open the first store at Fishersburg.

1853: The first official post office opens in Fishersburg.

1855: A frame Methodist Church is built for $1,100. A belfry, bell and organ are added in 1870, though many parishioners feel that the organ is of the devil.

1856: The first frame house in the Lapel area is built on the Datus Studley farm.

1860s: Civil War

The Civil War starts in 1861 and the Fishersburg Union Guards organizes, but the guard never fights.

1863: In July, four local men enlist to help drive Morgan's Raiders out of Indiana.

1865: Indiana improves the Strawtown-Pendleton Road. A two-room brick schoolhouse is built at Fishers, utilizing 75,000 bricks burned by Isaac Busby in his kiln. Anderson-Fishersburg Turnpike Company is organized but goes bankrupt after making only four miles of road.

1868: Dr. Daniel Cook builds a two-story frame home which will become the Bodenhorn store, housing Cook's office and pharmacy, the post office and a general store.

1870s: Lapel Becomes a Town

1873: Work begins on the Anderson, Lebanon & St. Louis railroad.

1874: Samuel Busby and David Conrad buy Studley farm. A one-room schoolhouse is built on the property.

1875: Railroad comes through Lapel.

1876: On April 27, David Conrad and Samuel Busby plat the town of Lapel. There are 29 original lots. The town is named Lapel because Busby thinks the town plat shape looks like a coat lapel.

1877: The railroad goes bankrupt but is bought by the Indiana Midland railroad. An excursion train goes from Lapel to Anderson so local residents can hear Indiana governor (later president) Benjamin Harrison speak.

1878: The first railroad station is built by Samuel Busby, who serves as the station agent.

1880s: Mail and Telegraph

1880: A factory which cuts and makes barrel heads is opened by Eddy and George Ranbo. The "Good Old Lapel Band" is organized by Larry Ford. The band will be well-known throughout Indiana and wins several music contests. An African-American barber named Hedgepath briefly settles in Lapel and sets up shop.

1882: On March 17, the Lapel post office is commissioned. Government officials try to change the town name.

1883: Woodward's grist mill is built.

1884: The first telegraph operations set up.

1889: A two-room brick schoolhouse is built at Lapel. Lapel's first gas well (called Old Jumbo) is built.

1890s: Big Business

Several businesses are formed in the 1890s including Wilcox Glass factory (1895), the Lapel Exchange Bank (founded by David Conrad in 1898), and the Lapel Bottle Factory Inc. (1899), employing 150 men.

1890: The United Brethren Church is organized after a tent revival.

1891: The LAPEL NEWS-DISPATCH is established by Calvin Goss. Lapel gets its first telephone service. The Methodist Church at Fishersburg moves to Lapel, where a brick building is built.

1892: Lapel is incorporated as a town.

1894: Oliver Shetterly and Luther Lee build Shetterly mill. The Woodward family buys a lot in the northeast corner of town for the area's first glass factory.

1896: A two-cell town jail is built in Lapel, which is used until 1916.

1897: Lapel High School graduates its first class.

1900s - 1910s: Lapel High School

1900: Lapel High School is built. The Lapel Telephone Company is founded. There were 25 original subscribers and the directory was on a 7x10 card.

1901: The ghost of Daniel Adams, late Stony Creek Township resident, returns to blame his wife for allowing him to be baptized in a piano box full of cold water, causing his death by pneumonia. His wife threatens to move out of their cabin if he doesn't stop haunting her.

1903: The Fishersburg post office is decommissioned.

1905: The Lapel Fire Department gets its first hook and ladder apparatus.

1906: Wilcox Glass is sold; the factory becomes Lapel Canning.

1910: The Red Men's Hall burns; on that night, Dr. John Rinne comes to town. Rinne will deliver more than 4,000 babies in his 40-year career as a local doctor.

1912: A gymnasium and six rooms are added to Lapel High School. Bricks from the old Fishersburg School are used in the construction. Lapel gets first electric power.

1914: Sterling Glass is incorporated by Arthur Woodward. Lapel streets are paved with brick.

1916: Lapel Methodist Church moves to its current location and builds a fine brick and Bedford stone building.

1918: On January 12, Lapel records its coldest temperature ever: -23 °F.

1919: David Conrad, co-founder of Lapel, dies.

1920s - 1930s: Progress

1920: Lapel's American Legion Post is chartered. It is named after Benjamin Bartholomew, who was killed in World War I.

1924: A new high school gym is built for $38,000. Anderson High School is invited to play in the inaugural game and is soundly defeated by the Bulldogs.

1925: The town water system is installed.

1926: Zorabable Rogers' log house, built in Fishersburg in the 1830s, is torn down. The Volunteer Fire Department is officially recognized by the Town Council.

1927: The first dynamite charges are set at the Lapel Stone Quarry.

1928: Lapel Grain and Lumber is formed (later bought out by Standard Elevator.)

1929: The first beauty parlor opens in Lapel.

1930s - 1940s: Basketball Memories

1930: The Lapel High School band is organized.

1931: The Lapel Golf Club is organized.

1932: Fishersburg Pike, paved and slightly redirected, becomes State Road 32.

1933: Natural gas service is made available to Lapel homes.

1938: Edith Cascadden's book, HISTORY OF LAPEL AND FISHERSBURG, is published.

1940: The Lapel High School basketball team makes the Final Four but is defeated in the afternoon game by Hammond Tech, the eventual winner.

1942: The Lapel Lions Club is organized.

1943: On March 10, Emmet Whetsel becomes the first Lapel boy to die in World War II when he is killed in North Africa. His name will later be incorporated into the name of the local American Legion Post.  An underdog Lapel team wins the Anderson sectional.

1948: The Lapel Chamber of Commerce is organized.

1949: Main Street is blacktopped.

1950s - 1980s: Some Things Change; Some Things Stay the Same

1950: Sterling Glass closes and is sold to Brockway Glass.

1951: A sewer system is installed and a sewage disposal plant is built. Lapel celebrates its 75th anniversary.

1952: Lapel High School opens. Gene Sylvester begins a heating business in Lapel.

1957: The L&M Department store is destroyed by fire.

1962: The Lapel Telephone Company is sold to United Telephone. At the time of the sale, it had the last manual switchboard in Madison County. Some of its customers had had the same numbers for 62 years and its operator, Genevieve, took messages for customers and found lost children and pets. Brockway expands operations at its Lapel factory, employing 500 and turning out 1,119,408 in a year.

1972: On August 19, the Lapel branch library opens. The Lapel schools become part of the new West Central School Corporation.

1975: Cascadden's grocery burns. A fund drive by the Volunteer Fire Department raises $34,000 to supply ambulance service.

1976: The first varsity football season takes place at Lapel High School.

1978: The Lapel Town Hall is built.

1987: Brockway merges with Owens-Illinois. The Lapel operation is kept.

1988: The first Lapel Village Fair is held.

2000s: Looking Toward the Future

2005: Lapel High School wins Class A state basketball championship. Jason Holsinger is the Class A Trester award winner. The Frankton-Lapel Community Schools announce plans to build a new Lapel High School.