Madison County Community Profile savi

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Land Area in Square Miles: 451.9
Total Population: 130,545
Year Established: 1823
Population Rank: 10

County northeast of Marion County and part of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Statistical Area. The first white settler in the area that is now Madison County was Irishman John Rogers, who settled with his family one and a half miles east of present-day Pendleton in December, 1818. Two years later, eight families left their homes in Clark County, Ohio, and settled in the area around the Rogers' homestead. More families from the Clark County area arrived in the early 1820s. The county was organized in 1823, and after four years of negotiations Andersontown was made the county seat. During the county's first four years justice was administered at Pendleton, but it was never officially the county seat.

Andersontown was located on the site of Delaware chief Anderson's village along the White River. John Berry laid out the first plat of Andersontown in 1823 and in 1827 donated 32 acres of land in Andersontown to Madison County on the condition that it become the county seat. At the time it was a village of around 200 people. In 1837 the decision to build a canal through Madison County connecting the Wabash and Erie Canal to Indianapolis spurred growth in Andersontown and throughout the county. The Central Canal that was to go through Andersontown was never completed and the town reverted to a small village. In the 1840s the name was officially changed to Anderson, and it remained a small village until the arrival of a railroad in 1852. The completion of the Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad in that year connected Anderson to the state capital for the first time. The railroad brought new life to Anderson, and in 1865 it was incorporated as a city with 1,300 residents.

Anderson, Alexandria, and Elwood all benefited greatly from the discovery of natural gas in Madison County in the 1870s and 1880s. Large factories flocked from eastern cities to take advantage of the cheap and abundant energy source. Anderson grew rapidly after the discovery of gas there in 1887, and became home to many glass and rubber producing factories. The gas boom was followed by the birth of the interurban railroad in Anderson in 1897. Within two years all of the county's towns and cities were connected by INTERURBAN lines, and in 1901 the first interurban car ran between Anderson and Indianapolis.

The year 1912 brought disaster to Madison County. The large gas well in Anderson ran out, as did many of the wells throughout the county. Factories moved out and the county population dropped. Since that time the county, and particularly Anderson, has experienced many ups and downs. The county seat managed to keep some of its major employers and attracted many automobile plants. However, the crisis in the American automobile industry in the late 1970s left Anderson with the nations highest unemployment rate, almost 20 percent, by 1980.

Today Madison is the second largest of the METROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS nine counties, with a population of over 130,000. Much of the county is still farmland, but large industries are its main employer. Most of these are located in Anderson, which in 1990 had a population of 59,459.

*History Data Source: The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indiana University Press, 1994) Edited by David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows.