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September 28, 2017

Report From Fisher’s Switch – 1875

Report From Fisher’s Switch – 1875

By: David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian

Report From Fisher’s Switch – 1875

I’ve done several posts about the wild early days of the town of Fishers – some of them can be found here, herehere, here, and here.  Now a first-hand report can be added to that.  The January 8, 1875, issue of the Noblesville Ledger, published parts of a letter by a Mrs. Wienawski about current events in Fisher’s Switch.  In part of it, she said:

“We learn that Fisher’s Switch is to have another improvement in the way of a dram shop to be called the Dew Drop.  Yes; we think Fisher’s ahead of Britton, but we would rather not see it so far ahead in wickedness.  I think we have great need of a crusade here.  We have often heard wives and mothers say, ‘well, it don’t matter to me how many saloons are here; none of my folks drink.’  Does it ever occur to these woman that when their husbands, sons and brothers are so constantly tempted by the sight of this alluring serpent – whiskey – that they too, may fall into the very lowest depths of intemperance?  We wish our good citizens would exert themselves a little more in the cause of temperance, and try and avert the great evil that always arises from having so many saloons in a small place.”

Mudsock Map

She probably had the December 24th Parsley-Redwine shooting in mind when she wrote this.  Her concern was actually very prescient.  Six years later, an explosion of violence caused by a feud between two saloons would leave one man dead, 32 wounded, and two buildings destroyed.  It would make national news and be called the “Battle of Mudsock”.

It’s interesting to note the competition between the towns of Fishers and New Britton.  New Britton was two decades older than Fishers, but not as convenient for shipping goods.  The winner of the competition is obvious.  Although the Township Trustee’s office today is at the site of the town of New Britton, it had ceased to become a municipality by 1909.

Henry Wieniawski

One part of the report that is curious is the author’s name.  It’s a very unusual sort of name for this area in the 1870’s.  There is no such person in the 1870 or 1880 Indiana censuses, nor are they in the 1874 county People’s Guide.  A guess could be made that this may have been a pseudonym.  As with the editorials during the women’s right discussion in Hamilton County in 1869, people would use assumed names or initials when contacting the media.  In this sense, they were like modern bloggers.

So where did the name come from?  Another guess could be made that was taken from the violinist and composer, Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880).  Although he was European, he had toured the United States in 1872-1874, appearing in Indianapolis in December of 1872.  If that’s correct, it was a unique choice and shows some degree of sophistication.  Of course, the writer may have just seen his name in the newspapers.  Perhaps she felt the name fit because she was “fiddling” in other people’s business.