The Civil Town of Milan
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
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
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
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
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!