Boone County Historical Society meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month, 7:00 pm at Cragun House. Meetings are open to the general membership or prospective members. 404 West Main Street, Lebanon, IN 46052.
Southside Park Dedicated to First Lebanon Resident
By Ralph W. Stark
In the adoption of a resolution by the City Council Monday night, changing the name of South Side Park, the new recreational area at the south city limits to Abner H. Longley Park, Lebanon honors and memorializes its first settler, resident, and house builder.
Abner Hixson Longley, a young Universalist minister of Oxford, Ohio, made an exploratory visit to the wilderness that was to become Lebanon, in the early spring of 1832. The prospects appealing to him, Mr. Longley bought from Messrs. Kinnard and Drake, one lot of block 16, immediately southwest of the intersection of Main and Lebanon streets. This site is now occupied by the building vacated last October by the Citizens Bank and Trust Company (Key Bank parking lot). Kinnard and Drake, prior to the founding and naming of Lebanon on May 1, 1831, had bought from the U.S. Government, 200 acres of land, on part of which the new town was subsequently platted. The original plat was five blocks wide, east and west, by four blocks deep, bounded roughly by Williams street on the north, Park street on the east, South street on the south, and Jameson street on the west.
His lot acquired, Mr. Longly put up a three-side camp, as he called it, constructing it of heavy poles cut from the surrounding forest. When the task, which took but a few days, was finished, the structure was quite similar in appearance to the line drawing illustrating this article. With work on the camp completed, Mr. Longley went back to Oxford, to return to Lebanon with his family, consisting of his widowed mother, his sister, his wife, and six children. All of these people lived in the crude shelter until Mr. Longley, with the help of some Center Township settlers, later in June erected a comfortable and commodious log cabin. Mr. Longley, after a few years in Lebanon, went to Cincinnati, Ohio, for residence, but returned here in 1850. Later, he moved to Paoli, Kansas, where he died in 1879. His remains were interred in a cemetery near Cincinnati. In addition to being Lebanon's first citizen, Mr. Longley had the added distinction of being the community's first post-master, carrying the mail in his hat as he made his deliveries. Mrs. Mary Hendricks Rodman, a daughter of Mr. Longley, was but six months old when her family came to Lebanon in 1832. She lived most of her life in this city, and was the last survivor of Mr. Longley's immediate family. She passed away at her home on North Lebanon Street in March, 1928, and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. Lebanon's second settler was John Patterson, who came later in 1832, building a cabin on the northwest corner of the intersection of Main and Lebanon streets, where the Union Federal Savings & Loan Company is now located (Hunnington Bank). The third to locate in the new town was William M. Smith, who came in 1833, building a large log house on the site where the Shelby building now stands on West Main Street (parking lot just east of Parr, Richie, Obremskey Frandsen & Peterson, Attorneys). Smith's cabin was Lebanon's first `hotel" and tavern; he kept travelers overnight and sold whiskey, finally expanding and developing his business into a general store. (Abner Longley was born in Maysville, Kentucky, May 19, 1796 and died Paoli, Kansas, May 9, 1879).
Lebanon Reporter March 14, 1961