History

Our Story

Pendleton, Indiana’s recorded history begins in December 1818 when John Rogers, the first non-native settler to the area, built his home near the falls on Fall Creek. As time passed, more people made their way to the region, always settling near the falls—the community source of water and power.

In 1821, Thomas Pendleton laid out the original town plat and gave it his name. The town’s name never changed (although it was occasionally misspelled as “Pendelton”).

By 1823, Madison County (where Pendleton is located) had officially been formed by the State of Indiana. A modest cabin near the falls was the governmental center.

In the following year, one of the saddest chapters in the area’s history took place. A Native American family was murdered by five white men several miles east of Pendleton. Four of the five men were found and brought to justice in Pendleton. Of those, three were sentenced to death and hanged within sight of the falls. It was the first time in the history of the United States that whites received capital punishment for the murder of Native Americans.

In 1843, noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke in Pendleton. Historical accounts suggest that Douglass’ life was in danger from would-be assassins. Through the compassion and bravery of members of the town, he escaped.

By the early 1900s, water was no longer the main source of power in Pendleton. Gas was fast becoming the fuel of choice. During this era, several glass and tile manufacturing facilities called Pendleton home.

Through the 20th century Pendleton continued to grow, all the while remaining committed to responsible planning. That foresight made the town the unique place it is today—an ideal home for residents and businesses alike.

Historic Marker Walking Tour

Pendleton’s historic marker walking tour was unveiled in 2016. It includes 14 historically significant sites, and it’s a great way to get acquainted with our town.

The tour begins at Pendleton Town Hall and ends at the Pendleton Historical Museum in Falls Park.

To access the tour map, click here.

Pendleton Historical Museum

The Pendleton Historical Museum is located in Falls Park and is dedicated to preserving the history of the South Madison area. The Museum opened in 1981 and is housed in the old Falls Park pool bathhouse.

The Museum is managed by a volunteer board and depends on donations for operating expenses. In addition to regular hours, the Museum is open to special tours upon request. The Museum maintains a digital collection with the Ball State University Digital Media Repository.

Museum Hours of Operation:
Saturdays and Sundays
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm (May through October)
Admission is Free

223 Falls Park Drive | P.O. Box 345 | Pendleton, IN 46064

Visit the Pendleton Historic Museum on Facebook.

National Register District

In 1988, five Pendleton women founded an organization known as Historic Fall Creek, Pendleton Settlement. Concerned Pendleton could lose its fragile and unique historic significance, the women worked to place the Town of Pendleton on the National Register of Historic Places.

On June 27, 1991, the Town of Pendleton became the second community in the State of Indiana to have the entirety of its early boundaries entered onto the National Register of Historic Places. The district is an approximation of the 1900 Pendleton town limits, which contains some of the best representations of early 19th century architecture in Madison County.

Pendleton Community Public Library

The first Pendleton Community Public Library, a Carnegie Library located on State Street, opened to the public for the first time on March 1, 1912. The current library building on Water Street was built in 1991, with an addition and renovation project completed in 2007.

The updated library is warm and welcoming, with walls of windows providing natural light throughout the facility. There are many areas to sit and read, work on a computer, collaborate, or do research. The friendly staff is always willing to help patrons with whatever they may need.

595 East Water Street | Pendleton, IN 46064 | 765-778-7527

Visit the library’s official website.