Brief History of Seymour, Indiana
The first settler on the land that is now Seymour was James Shields. He brought his family here in 1816 and built a block house on the property which is now the old city cemetery. In 1820, he received a land grant for the ground he had homesteaded in the area called Mule Crossing.
A son, Captain Meedy W. Shields (Click for a larger picture), inherited his father's land holdings and developed it into a prosperous farm. During the latter 1840's, a north-south railroad connecting the Ohio River at Jeffersonville with Indianapolis was built crossing the Shields' farm. Then in 1852, an east-west railroad was being surveyed through Jackson County, and Shields persuaded the railroad company to run through his property instead of through neighboring Rockford. In exchange for this favor, he provided the right-of-way for the new railroad and agreed to name the town after the railroad's civil engineer, J. Seymour.
Still not satisfied with the railroad business, Captain Shields (by then a state senator) secured the passage of a bill requiring all trains to stop at all railroad intersections. Now the two railroads met at Seymour, and because they were required to stop, the trains exchanged freight and passengers as well. Seymour quickly became a major center of commercial activity. The city was incorporated in 1864 with a population of 1553.
The railroad figures in another chapter of Seymour's history as the site of the world's first train robbery. In 1866, the Reno Gang (headed by brothers Frank, Simeon, and William) boarded the train east of town and proceeded to throw the trainmen off and rob the baggage car at their leisure as they sped through Seymour. Using the deserted town of Rockford as their hideout, the gang would maraude across five states until vigilantes brought an end to the Reno's short, but infamous, career. The secret of the gang's missing loot lies buried with Reno brothers in unmarked graves in the old Seymour Cemetery.
There are three historic covered bridges near Seymour.
These tangible mementos of the past are worth the short drives necessary to visit them. The longest bridge is near Medora, the most scenic near Shieldstown, and the only surviving post-truss-type bridge is near Cortland. To the unitiated, they are interesting relics; to the knowledgeable student of American history, these bridges are amazing monuments, well worth preserving and publicizing.
This page is sponsored by The Seymour Area Community Network Committee and is hosted by the Jackson County Public Library.
Created and maintained by - Jason Boyer, Information Technology Specialist, Jackson County Public Library
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