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Saturday, June 22, 2013

On the origins of the name of "Legal Tender Road" in Bartholomew County, Indiana

While driving through south-central Indiana today on our way to a memorial service, we ran across "Legal Tender Road," which, for an economist was just too good to be true.  But why would a road in rural Indiana have that name?

Having looked for quite a while, I found this explanation, on the website of the Historic Indiana Indiana Message Board:

Legal Tender Road History Elizabethtown (E-Town) IndianaBartholomew County Indiana

The Legal Tender Act of 1862 stopped the use of gold and silver coins and bullion as monetary exchange. In place of that the United States Congress created the first “Greenbacks”. The intent was to fund projects that would benefit the Northern troops in the Civil War, which ended during 1865. Such as building roads that would get food crops to market and in turn feed the troops. There were many such projects and they put the name “Legal Tender” on them.

[image] "Greenback 1862"

The following information was provided by a dear friend in Columbus, who is a retired Columbus Historian and genealogist, and is now 99 years old. She writes to my brother and says: “I am enjoying life”. She writes that according to an 1888 Local History Book, Page 28, that turnpike companies were formed under the Legal Tender Act of 1862, to assist in the Civil War effort. Roads were built and tolls charged for use of the roads.

She grew up in the Burnsville/Grammer area and knows the road well.

The Legal Tender turnpike company in Rockcreek Township was responsible for the road in question. It set the toll rate and had to insure the road was maintained as prescribed by law.

The road was still marked on the maps of the 1960s and today in Bartholomew County. Forthcoming, we will provide a map dated July 20, 1960. The map will show the road leading from Elizabethtown, (where the Pennsylvania RR had a station) and then headed North and then East, right between Grammer and Burnsville, following the present day road number 300S.

In the early days transportation was a problem. Grist Mills were built on the river banks; trade was up and down the rivers. Towns grew up and farmers needed to build and maintain the roads. Hence, turnpike companies and toll roads were established. (Note: She adds that this was before her time)

There are other things around designated by “Legal Tender” such as a cemetery in what is now called Camp Atterbury located at the Ninevah area.

Special Challenge: For anyone who can find/locate early documentation that explains the road and the overall Legal Tender projects. Perhaps it would be located in the Columbus Historical Archives. To date nothing has been found.

Map Update E-Town (from Columbus go East on Hwy 7):



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