The Civil Town of Milan
About Us
A drive through the quiet neighborhood of Old Milan gives few clues that it was once the bustling center of trade at the crossroads of the Brookville-Madison and Aurora-Napoleon routes. The earliest settlers most likely arrived in the 1820s and early 1830s. We do know that Stephen Selwyn Harding opened the first store, and that a post office opened in that store on February 1, 1837. The settlers referred to their little village as Harding's Store.

The community took the name of Milan in 1842 according to Price Myers, author of "
1954 Milan Centennial History, Yesterday and Today". He wrote "Many of the first settlers were Germans, and a few Swiss, and gave much of their attention to grape culture and processing of wine. It is probable that some of them may have cone from the grape growing areas of Milan (mi-lahn), a province and city of Lombardy in Northern Italy, and used their influence to change the name to Milan (mye-luhn)."

An 1868 business listing for Milan does include a wine manufacturer. Milan is listed alphabetically in
H.C. Chandler & Co.'s Busness Directory and Shipper's Guide For The State of Indiana. Milan is described as, "A town in Ripley County, one and a half miles from the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad, forty-two miles from Cincinnati, and eight from Versailles, the county seat.
Milan State Champs 1954
Stephen Selwyn Harding
Appointed 4th Governor of Utah Territory 1862 to 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln and chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court from 1863 to 1865. He was known as a fervent abolitionist.

The home he built with his wife Alvoline in Old Milan became known as Stop 7 on the Underground Railroad.

A note written by their great granddaughter, Elizabeth Row Gerster, says "No sooner was the home built (1840) than it was opened to fugitives traveling over the Underground Railroad, the harboring of the runaway slaves being kept a secret from the little community of Milan...
Mrs. Stephen S. Harding and other women abolitionists of Milan sewed feverishly, making the female fugitives calico dresses...
when asked by younger members of the householdwho the garments were for Mrs. Harding invariable replied 'We are doing charity work',"
Read more from Milan, Indiana: A Storied Past"
by Darlene Gerster and Roselyn McKittrick
available for purchase at the Milan54.org shop
"Old" Milan to the new
The Ohio & Mississippi Railroad had already come through to the south of (Old) Milan, and the slow but steady trek to South Milan and Brooklyn had begun.

Cattle were now being driven to the railroad in South Milan and loaded there for transport to the slaughterhouses of Cincinnati. As the town prospered to the south, there was confusion about how to refer to the two towns. Historian Price Myers wrote "As the years passed the new town became Milan, and the older town, Old Milan. Today's maps show both Old Milan and (new) Milan.

During the early days Milan was a supplier for wood which was used as fuel by the railroad engines. The hardwood forests of the area attracted a furniture business in 1900. The Milan Furniture Company was a big part of the community before it's closing.
The movie Hoosiers was inspired by our "Milan Miracle". Having gone to the State Finals in '53, the Indians came back in '54 to win it all against Muncie Central at Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University.

We are the home of Hoosier Hysteria! Indiana's passion for basketball was observed and written about by basketball's inventor, James Naismith. In 1925, Naismith visited an Indiana basketball state finals game along with 15,000 screaming fans and later wrote, that while it was invented in Massachusetts, "basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport." Hoosiers have a traditional love for basketball similar to that of Texans for football, Pennsylvanians for wrestling, and Minnesotans for ice hockey.

"The Shot heard around the world" still lives in the hearts and minds of those of us in Milan. Although many of the 'boys' and their families have scattered to different destinations, they still call Milan home. Special events and celebrations see them congregating at the new Milan 54 Museum to share treasured memories.

Visitors come from around the world to see where it all started. It's a common sight to see a bus pull down Carr Street to park in front of the museum. Showings of the "reel" game can be seen daily and of course, yearly - when the siren song of March Madness wraps up us all again for the Final Four!


Copyright 2016 Town of Milan
GO BIG TEAM!