ByGone Muncie: Where the heck is Tweedyville?

MUNCIE, Ind. – I have an historical conundrum that I hope the good readers of ByGone Muncie will help me figure out.

Where in Delaware County, Perry Township specifically, was (or is) the village of Tweedyville?

The name doesn’t appear on any current or historical Delaware County map, nor is it listed in the USGS database of place names. It’s only mentioned in a handful of local newspaper articles and in the U.S. 1880 Census. What, or perhaps better asked, where in the heck was Tweedyville?

Perry Township from the 1887 Atlas of Delaware County.
Perry Township from the 1887 Atlas of Delaware County.

This historical mystery began for me a few months ago when I happened upon a 1982 Dick Greene column that mentioned the name. If you’re unfamiliar, Greene was a long time reporter and columnist for the Muncie Star newspaper. He was also an active public historian and wrote often about Muncie and Delaware County history in his decades-long series, “Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood.” In his column’s May 12 installment, Greene discussed a hodge-podge of local cultural ephemera, including a note he received from John Lewellen, a retired Ball State professor and the namesake of Ball State’s Lewellen Pool. According to Greene, Lewellen asked “whether I’ve ever heard of a Delaware County settlement called “Tweedyville.” Beats me, John. He found the name in an 1870 census.”

The reference was odd for a few reasons. First, Dick Greene was a walking encyclopedia of local history, especially in 1982. If neither he nor his readers knew the answer, no one else alive did. Second, I wrote a book in 2017 titled Lost Towns of Delaware County, Indiana. The publication was my attempt to provide a brief history of every hamlet, village, town, city, and ghost town settled in Delaware County. I spent two years reading and studying every source I could find on the subject. I believed, at least up until reading Greene’s 1982 column, that I had included everything. How did I miss Tweedyville? Finally, it seemed strange that such a unique name never appeared on any map published in two centuries of Delaware County history.

Mount Pleasant map from the 1887 Atlas of Delaware County.
Mount Pleasant map from the 1887 Atlas of Delaware County.

I looked up the 1870 U.S. Census and couldn’t find any reference to Tweedyville, though I did find a family with the surname Tweedy living in Perry Township; farmers James and Nancy Tweedy and their four children, Barney, Jemima, William, and Henry. The Tweedy’s farm was in the northeast corner of Perry Township, about a mile southwest of Windsor near the line with Randolph County.

It’s possible Lewellen meant the 1880 census, because in that year, 74 people were counted as living in “Tweedy-ville.” Of the twenty-six pages for Perry Township in the 1880 United States Census, the first eight are all Tweedyville residents. We know this because the census taker concluded that page with a matter-of-fact note: “Here ends the village of Tweedy-ville.”

Tweedyville appears rarely in local newspapers. In October of 1879, it was briefly mentioned by the Muncie Daily News, “we are informed that Sam Rodman will embark in the auction business in a few days, and will make his opening speech at Tweedyville on Wednesday next.”

The village was the setting for a tragic story in August of 1883, when the Muncie Morning News reported on a murder-suicide, “Mortimer Hill shot himself and wife at Tweedyville Sunday night. It is now developed beyond a doubt that Hill has meditated the awful crime for some time past.” The story made headlines around the state, though other newspapers identified the events as happening either at or near Selma in Liberty Township.

New Burlington map from the 1887 Atlas of Delaware County.
New Burlington map from the 1887 Atlas of Delaware County.

With exception of Dick Greene’s 1982 column, the only other “Tweedyville” reference I could find in local newspapers was on April 1881 when the Morning News reported the previous year’s final Delaware County census numbers. Perry Township, “including the village of Tweedyville,” was home to 1,200 residents, 74 of whom lived in the unincorporated Tweedyville community.

Assuming it wasn’t some ghost town forgotten by everyone, it’s possible that Tweedyville was a nickname for one of six Perry Township settlements: Gate’s Corner, Charleston, Land of Nod, Medford, Mt. Pleasant, or New Burlington. With a little research, we can narrow that list down to two.

Gate’s Corner is an unlikely candidate for Tweedyville based on population. The unincorporated hamlet grew around a post office (1898-1901) and rural general store along the old Burlington Pike. Gate’s Corner was only ever home to a small number of residents, certainly not 74 of them. The Perry Township ghost town of Charleston doesn’t fit either. It was platted in 1838 a bit south on the old Richmond Road, but no one ever lived there. Charleston was a real estate pipedream of a settler named Charles Lindley. The Land of Nod doesn’t work with the Tweedyville timeline, as it was an informal name given to a 20th century truck stop along U.S. 35. Medford can’t be it either, because it wasn’t platted until 1901 with the arrival of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (the Cardinal Greenway today).

That leaves just Mt. Pleasant and New Burlington, two of the oldest non-Native settlements in Delaware County.

Not to be confused with Mount Pleasant Township, the sleepy Perry Township village of Mt. Pleasant was platted in 1837. The historian Thomas Helm wrote in 1881 that “Mount Pleasant is a thickly settled neighborhood in the southwestern part of the township, containing three cooper-shops and a number of dwellings.” Mt. Pleasant had two post offices, Blaineton in 1880 and Hasel from 1896 to 1901.

New Burlington was also platted in 1837, although north a bit on the old Richmond Road. Helm described it in 1881 as “a rural village, boasting no manufacturing establishment of any kind, but did contain a general store, shoemaker, and wagonmaker. New Burlington was “situated on the farm entered by George Ribble, who was the original proprietor, and first laid it off into town lots.” The New Burlington post office existed in the village from 1838 until 1901 and the Muncie and New Burlington Turnpike connected the two communities in 1867.

Though Mt. Pleasant is occasionally confused in history with its post offices, both it and New Burlington have been called as such since at least the Civil War. Delaware County and Indiana state maps from 1848, 1857, 1869, 1874, 1886, and 1887 all show New Burlington and Mt. Pleasant at or near their present locations in Perry Township, with nary a Tweedyville to be seen.

Out of frustration, I just googled “Tweedyville, Delaware County, Indiana.” The only relevant result I got was an 1883 Department of the Interior publication, entitled “The National Gazetteer: A Geographical Dictionary of the United States.” In it, it lists “Tweedyville, Ind.” with a post office named “New Burlington” in Perry Township and a population of 74 residents.

So I guess “Tweedyville” was a sometimes used nickname for New Burlington around 1880. I really have no idea, or as Dick Greene said best 41 years ago, “Beats me.”

Chris Flook is a Delaware County Historical Society board member and a Senior Lecturer of Media at Ball State University.

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: ByGone Muncie: Where the heck is Tweedyville?