The Monroe Lake area was, until the early 1700s, undisputed Miami Indian land, even though occupied by both the Miami and Delaware tribes. The lake area was acquired legally from the Indians as part of Harrison’s Purchase, by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, on September 30, 1809.
The first recorded white settlers arrived in 1815, but where undoubtedly preceded by hunters and refugees from the law. A typical landholder farmed a few acres claimed from the woods and harvested the plentiful wild game of the area. Many of the original settlers were thrifty and industrious although squatters and land speculators abounded, seeking to make a fortune in the new territory.
The rolling hills of southern Indiana produced tremendous amounts of lumber from native stands of popular allowed development of a farming economy which is still a local mainstay.
The Hoosier Frontier supplied the southern market with shipments of grain, pork, and lumber. During periods of high water, freight from the small pioneers farms bound for New Orleans was shipped via flatboat down Salt Creek, Clear Creek, and Bean Blossom Creek.
The forks of Salt Creek, which form Monroe Lake, get their names from the many salt springs or “licks” along their course. As early as 1822, a well was dug near Salt Creek with the interest of converting the salt water into salt. Records show that it annually produced about 800 bushels of this valuable pioneer commodity.
In 1850 the first limestone quarry of the region was opened near Stinesville, leading to the development of what is still an important local industry.
Local economics boomed in 1854 with the completion of the area’s first railroad, the New Albany and Salem Line. Small communities such as Stinesville, Firfax, and Harrodsburgh thrived with this faster and cheaper system for transporting products from various lumber years, grist mills, tanneries, carding mills and iron works.