A few weeks I wrote a column about some of the small, forgotten rural communities or neighborhoods that pop up in the old newspapers.
One of those, Tile Factory Corner, bugged me for a long time. I had no idea where it was because little places like that seldom show up on maps.
Eventually, I ran across some articles that allowed me to pinpoint the location as the intersection of State Road 38 (then known as the Lafayette Road) and Anthony Road.
Tile Factory Corner is long gone now, but it’s such a historic spot, it really deserves a column of its own.
In 1844 it was the site of a pivotal confrontation between escaped slaves John and Luan Rhodes, their children and friends, and a group headed by the Rhodeses’ former owner. (There are several spellings of the family’s last name, but it’s “Rhodes” on the Indiana Historical Bureau marker.)
Singleton Vaughn (or Vaughan,) the slaver, had tracked the Rhodeses to their cabin a little southeast of Bakers Corner and came after them with the law, intent on reclaiming his property.
Alerted to the family’s situation, the Rhodeses’ neighbors soon arrived and surrounded Vaughn’s party. A deal was then struck to allow Vaughn to take the family, IF they went to Westfield to have Vaughn’s claim investigated rather than to go before a magistrate in Noblesville.
When the entire group — both the Rhodes and Vaughn parties — reached the Tile Factory Corner crossroads, instead of going south on the Westfield road, Vaughn ordered the driver of the wagon carrying the Rhodeses to head for Noblesville.
At that point, a member of the Rhodes camp, Daniel Jones, leaped into the wagon, grabbed the reins, and hightailed it for Westfield.
Along the way, the wagon passed an area known as the Dismal Swamp where the Rhodes family (ahem) “spilled through the cracks in the wagon bed.” The family made good their escape through the swamp and Vaughn never got his hands on them again.
The nearby presence of Dismal Swamp is probably one of the reasons a tile factory was established at that intersection in the 1860s.
Much of Hamilton County used to fairly waterlogged. Because of that, the manufacture of drainage tiles was a big business during the county’s early days. Tile factories dotted this whole area.
Unfortunately, I found very little information on Tile Factory Corner’s factory, so I can’t explain why that name stuck there as opposed to any other location in the county.
In addition to the tile factory, the area had a nursery, a country store, a sorghum mill and a blacksmith shop. There were high hopes for a gas well drilled there in 1889, but the results were rather disappointing.
Tile Factory Corner was also the site of Washington Township School No. 1, which was located on the northwest corner of the intersection.
Over the years, a surprising number of county and township officers hailed from Tile Factory Corner. Among them were Thomas J. Lindley, who served as sheriff, and as both a state representative and a state senator; another sheriff, Evan Bray; and county school superintendent E. A. Hutchens.
(For more names, see “From the Past” in the December 17, 1909 issue of the Enterprise.)
The most famous person associated with Tile Factory Corner, however, has to be Joseph G. “Uncle Joe” Cannon, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1903 to 1911.
Considered one of the most powerful politicians to ever hold that office, Cannon lived at Tile Factory Corner for about four years when he was a boy. The family later moved to Parke county, and after that to Illinois, but some say it was here that Cannon’s character was truly formed.

Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com