The Legacy of Salem


The Naming of Salem Indiana

On December 21, 1813, the Legislature passed an act creating Washington County from parts of Clark and Harrison Counties. Early in 1814 organization of the county began.

One of the first steps was to select a location for the county seat. A committee, consisting of Joseph Paddox, Peter McIntosh and Ignatius Abel of Harrison County, and Marston G. Clark and Joseph Bartholomew of Clark County, was appointed.

They met January 17, 1814 at the house of William Lindley, the present home site of Oris Gilstrap on South Main Street. Several days were spent viewing sites. Royce's Lick was the first to be considered. Other sites were Mill Creek, Fort Hill, Beck's Mill, and the confluence of Royce's Fork of Blue River and Brock Creek. The last named site was chosen.

"In selecting a name for the town, Mt. Vernon was suggested; but rejected because it could not be correctly pronounced by the German settlers. Washington was considered. The Commissioners permitted their hostess, Mrs. William Lindley, to choose the name, and she selected Salem, after her home town in North Carolina."

Blue River Quakers Establish Salem, Iowa Settlement 

Salem Iowa Quaker SettlementThe Quakers were among the earliest settlers in Iowa, locating soon after the Black Hawk War and the consequent Black Hawk purchase had freed the country around Burlington of the natives. Isaac Pigeon of South Carolina and Aaron Street of Salem, Indiana, were the pioneers. They named their new city in remembrance of the streets of the old home at Salem, Indiana.

A large number of the settlers seem to have migrated from Indiana. A catalogue of names of these Iowa pioneers shows that they were really a Hoos­ier colony. They were a part of the Indiana Quaker community till the Western Quarterly Meeting at Bloomfield gave them permission to establish their own Monthly Meeting in 1838. The history of the Iowa Quakers is in part attributed to the involvement of Indiana Quakers, including those arriving from the Blue River Quaker Settlement. 

Click here for more information on the Salem Iowa Quaker Settlement

Quakers help establish Salem Indiana and Salem Iowa