Vandergriff Road

Today, we bring you one of Sylvia Henricks’ “Remembrances.” You can read more of Sylvia’s columns weekly in The Franklin Township Informer, or in her book From The Ash Grove (available directly from the FTHS, and via the web site). 
Here is a final article on old roads in Franklin Township. In the northeast corner of the township is Vandergriff Road, which fits our description of “an early road” by its cross-country pattern. Unnamed, it connects Wanamaker with the east edge of the county as shown on the 1889 map of Franklin Township.

Several years ago a woman called me to ask if “Vandergriff Road,” named on her more recent map, had any connection with Robert Louis Stevenson’s American wife, Fanny Vandergriff. I said, “None that I have ever heard of.” But I did become curious about the name. Recently I looked in the index of Sulgrove’s History of Indianapolis and Marion County (1884) to see if some early landowner was so named. I found several persons by that name, who had held political jobs, and one Civil War soldier, but none seemed to have any connection with Franklin Township.

And then I thought of our Society’s “Franklin Township Area Old Houses” published in 1982 (reprinted in 2003) written by Velma Ruede, and her committee (of which I was the photographer). The book includes more than 300 houses in Franklin Township, and adjoining townships. Velma did extensive research on early landholders, read many abstracts, and provided much genealogical material as well as historical information on the houses.

And there, on page28, was the information I was seeking. 11002 Vandergriff Road was the final entry of seven houses on the road. At that time, the property of Horace A. and Patricia (Cunningham) King, the entry began with “From the U.S.A. to Isaiah Bisbee 1821,” through 13 owners to William J. and Edith Cunningham 1935. At one point in the description of the ownerships, Velma included. “In 1913 the place went to Homer and Lydia Vandergriff, for whom the road was named.”

Thank You, Velma. Velma’s lifelong devotion to community history, her non-stop work ethic, her legacy of histories of Pleasant View, Moral Township, London, Brookfield and Fairland, and her memories of persons and events –all made her an unforgettable person herself. She died December 16, 2007 at 89, and we still miss her.

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