1968 BRHS History Booklet - Chapter One
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Chapter One

Jacob Coil - Founder

In 1835, Jacob Coil, his wife, and children left their home in Hamilton County, Virginia and moved to Indianapolis. Two years later, Coil surveyed 48 plots of land northeast of Indianapolis on the south bank of White River-the area which became Broad Ripple.

Courtesy-Mrs. Elva M. Coil, Bloomfield, Ind.

Errata: This photograph in the original pamphlet was labeled as being of Jacob Coil. Sharon Butsch Freeland, Local Historian, contacted us several years ago with an observation. "The photo cannot possibly be of the Jacob Coil who founded Broad Ripple, since he died two years before photography was first introduced in England and France. Photography didn't come to the United States until after 1839. This photo is probably his son, Jacob Conrad Coil, who was born in 1818 and died in 1878."

Coil Starts Settlement

In 1820, a commission met at Conner Prairie Farm to select a new site for the capital of Indiana. The place of this meeting is now known as the Conner Prairie Museum near Noblesville.

The commissioners decided to move the capital from Corydon to a location in the center of the state. The site, later named Indianapolis, was chosen not only because of its central location, but also because it was situated on supposedly navigable White River.

As early as 1821, pioneers began settling the area near the present site of Broad Ripple. Yet it was not until 1837 that people started coming to the area in great numbers. In late 1836 or early 1837, construction began on the Indianapolis link of the Central Canal, one of the many projects in canal building which followed the completion of the great Erie Canal in 1825.

John Burke, who had helped in the building of the Wabash and Erie Canal, which was to extend from Evansville to Terre Haute, supervised the construction job which involved many people. With the influx of these canal workers, settlements were laid out in the area. April 20, 1837, Jacob Coil from Virginia plotted 48 lots seven miles north of Indianapolis on the south bank of White River.

The first written reference to the name "Broad Ripple" was found in 1837 in Jacob Coil's will. According to Barry R. Sulgrove in History of Indianapolis and Marion County (1884), Coil named the area Broad Ripple because the "ripple in the river at this point was the largest and widest in the country." This ripple was so large, it was said that only one man, Isaac Simpson, could throw a stone across it. Prior to 1837, the area was called "Ripple" or "Riffle" by the local settlers.

May 17, 1837, four weeks after the Coil plots were laid out, James A. and Adam R. Nelson plotted 32 lots south of Coil's. The settlement was named Wellington in honor of the Duke of Wellington and his great victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.

The two communities, separated by the canal-Broad Ripple to the north and Wellington to the south-were intense rivals from the very beginning. This rivalry arose from the desire of each settlement to be the most important village at the head of the newly started canal.

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Cover and Forward
1878 Surveyor's Record of Broad Ripple
Chapter One - Coil Starts Settlement (current page)
Chapter Two - Ripple Linked To City
Chapter Three - Canal Creates Rivalry
Chapter Four - Villages Start Schools
Chapter Five - Religious Life Grows
Chapter Six - Social Life Develops
Chapter Seven - Canal Villages Thrive
Chapter Eight - Trolleys Aid Travel
Chapter Nine - Farmer Shakes Jail
Chapter Ten - Floods Ravage Town
Chapter Eleven - Park Attracts Visitors
Chapter Twelve - BRHS Joins City
Chapter Twelve - Errata
Chapter Thirteen - City Annexes Village

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