HISTORY OF THE CITY OF GREENSBURG
In 1819, through the Indian Treaty of St. Mary's, the U.S.
Government acquired a tract of land known as the New Purchase.
Soon after this, the John Fugit & Griffy Griffith families
entered the region, becoming the first settlers of the county.
The area comprising Decatur County was set off from this tract
in 1821 and named for Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval hero.
In April, 1822 court was established and government set up in
May. The site of the county seat was chosen in June, 1822 and
named, Greensburg by Thomas Hendricks
wife, for her home in Pennsylvania. The first county building
was a jail built in 1823 on the southeast corner of the
courtyard. According to the Society of Indiana Pioneers, an
individual was a pioneer of our county if they resided here on
or before December 31, 1830.
Early in the 1870s, citizens
noticed what seemed to be a small sprig on the northwest corner
of the Courthouse tower, Soon it became evident that the small
sprig was growing. Residents regarded the growth as a rare freak
of nature. That explanation was quickly refuted by the
appearance of more sprouts on the tower. Finally, five were
counted, making a grove growing at an altitude 110 feet above
the courthouse lawn level.
County officials became fearful
the trees might cause permanent damage to the tower roof. In
1888, a steeplejack was employed to help workers ascend the
building and remove some of the shrubs. Of the two remaining,
one attained a height of about 15 feet diameter of almost five
inches at the base. At the same time, another tree made an
appearance on the southeast corner of the tower, and in a few
years grew to a considerable height. During its maturation,
another tree sprung up on the southwest corner. These two new
trees endured, as did the county's legacy as the home of the
The first Courthouse in Decatur
County was actually a home. On May 14, 1822 when the first
board of county commissioners met at the house of Thomas
Hendricks. a double log building, the records show the
specification that were drawn up for a proposed Courthouse. On
March 7, the order was issued to receive bids for the
construction on the Public Square in Greensburg.
Several different buildings were
there until the current structure was built in 1860. In 1994, a
major renovation and expansion at the north end, more than
doubling the size of the facility. At that time, the decision
was made to replace the existing stucco exterior with brick,
which was also the original outer material.
It was on the Courthouse lawn that
brave men camped out to defend their families from threats of a
possible attack by Morgan's Raiders during the Civil War.
On the grounds of the courthouse
are a number of markers and monuments, including a monument to
the soldiers of the Civil War and a memorial elm to the local
corps of the G. A. R. Both of these were placed by the local
chapter of the W. R. C. The local chapter of the D. A. R.
erected a boulder with tablet honoring Colonel Thomas Hendricks,
the city's founder. Another boulder with a bronze tablet
contains a replica of the Maltese cross, dedicated to the memory
of the Spanish War veterans. In the corridor of the building is
a bronze tablet dedicated to the man for whom the county was
The Decatur County Historical
Museum stands in Greensburg. Built in 1835, it was sold to the
Historical Society in 1981 to be used as a county museum. The
museum is open to the public, once a week.
Andrew Carnegie provided money for
public use for 3,000 communities nationwide. One type of project
it funded was responsible for constructing libraries. Greensburg
was one of those communities. The library was opened in 1905 and
was built on the site of the Watson Foundry where much of the
decorative ironwork in Greensburg was made.
In 1994, the Greensburg/Decatur
County Contractual Public Library moved out of its building for
a larger facility on East Main Street. The city made renovations
to the building, transforming the former library into a
comfortable home for city government. The most noticeable
feature retained from the old Carnegie Library was the rotunda
ceiling, which includes portraits of past heroes of arts and
letters: Homer, Raphael, Noah Webster, William Cullen Bryant,
William Shakespeare, Friedrich Von Schiller, Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow and Ludwig Van Beethoven.
The city of Greensburg, with a
population of 10,260, is forty-seven miles southeast of
Indianapolis. A railroad and bus line provides the chief
transportation facilities. Among the city's products are flour,
carriages, lumber, iron castings, auto accessories, caskets,
hardware, brooms, wire, and shirts. The city has purchased the
Greensburg Water Company.
Greensburg has a new federal
building and post office, a community gymnasium which seats
4,000; a National Guard Armory; a Y. M. C. A. which is one of
the finest in Indiana, built through the munificence of the late
Nelson Mowrey, who gave the institution $175,000; and the
Decatur Memorial Hospital erected by the county at a cost of
over $100,000. The Indiana State I. O. O. F. Home is located to
the east of the city.
In 2006, The City of Greensburg
moved its City Hall from its location on Michigan Street to
its new offices located at 314 West Washington Street.
On June 13-20, 2009 The City of
Greensburg celebrated its Sesquicentennial!