Bryant, formerly “Billtown”, and Briant
Dunkirk, formerly Sutton Town and Quincy
Pennville, formerly New Lisbon, Camden, and Penn
Redkey, formerly Wade Settlement and Mt. Vernon
Salamonia, formerly Lancaster
Bryant, a community of about 275 people, is located seven miles north of Portland on Highway 27 in Bearcreek Township. It was begun on the four corners of land owned by four men named Bill – thus the nickname of Billtown. On December 8, 1871, it was platted as Bryan to recognize Mr. Bryan, a construction foreman on the railroad who was influential in getting a railroad there. The railroad company did not favor the name, and changed the station to Briant.
North Briant was laid out north of Briant on October 6, 1873. It was also called Rowley Town after Ezekiel Rowlett, who laid it out.
In December of 1897 Briant and North Briant were incorporated as Bryant. The post office chose the spelling of Bryant.
Come to Bryant for their annual “Bryant Days” festival in September. While you are there see the two-cell jail that remains in the alley.
Dunkirk is situated on Highway 167 in the far southwest corner of Richland Township. Dunkirk is unique because a portion is in Blackford County. Delaware County begins as the southern line of Dunkirk. Currently there are approximately 2,500 residents, making it the second largest community in the county.
The Isaiah Sutton and Willam Shrack families settled here in half-faced log cabins in October of 1837. Isaiah’s cabin was up first, so the settlement was called Sutton Town for many years.
With a railroad being proposed, Isaiah platted Quincy, a little town of three blocks, on his land. It was December 10, 1853. The railroad arrived in 1857. The railroad called their station Dunkirk even though it was in Quincy.
When the time came to request a government post office came, there was already a Quincy. The post office accepted the name of Dunkirk. Then Mr. Sutton requested his little community’s name be changed to Dunkirk.
Visit the Glass Museum on the corner of South Franklin and West Washington Streets. It is open from May to October on Tuesday through Saturday during library hours. See glassware from all over the world, including glassware produced in the former local factories. Don’t miss the glass crown worn by early “Cinderellas” crowned during the Glass Days annual festivals. Each year the festival is held just after Memorial Day. On the Friday of the festival Saint Gobain gives short tours of our only remaining glass factory. You can see how as many as 2.4 million beer bottles are produced daily.
Drive by the 1909 passenger depot, for the Pennsylvania Railroad, at the north end of Main Street. It sits in Webster-Depot Park. At one time there was a tunnel under the tracks on the north side for passengers to board the train safely from the other side. In the summertime there is a farmer’s market on Saturday mornings and free music concerts in the park on Saturday nights.
Pennville is a community of about 700 people. It is in the northwest corner of the county on Highway 1 in Penn Township.
This community has had more names than any other in the county. In 1836 Samuel Grissell named the little village, of which he was proprietor, New Lisbon. For an unknown reason, he changed the name a year later to Camden. When applying for a government post office many years later, the name had to be changed as there was already a Camden. Penn was chosen in honor of William Penn, as many Quakers had settled in the area. Due to careless handwriting, Penn was often confused with Peru. Changing Penn to Pennville solved the problem.
Drive by the Chandlee/Maddox house on River Road/Lagro Street that was begun in 1841. It was built from brick burned on the nearby Miami Indian reservation, and is the oldest house standing in Pennville. It is a private residence.
Portland is the county seat of Jay County. It is in Wayne Township. It has about 6,300 people. Our county seat is the only community that has retained its original name, being platted and named on September 4, 1837.
Drive over the concrete Bowstring Arc/Arch Bridge on South Meridian Street. It is the only bridge of its kind remaining in Indiana.
Stop by the Jay Community Resource building across from the post office on South Meridian Street to see the 1910 Elwood Haynes automobile. Elwood was born in Portland.
Visit the 1916 courthouse on West Main Street. It is the 4th courthouse for Jay County. Notice the marble throughout. Hunt for the fox in the marble at the west entrance. See the beautiful dome that tells our history in four murals.
Stop by the John Jay Learning Center at the southeast corner of East Main and South Meridian Streets to see what can be done in restoring a 1926 historic building to serve our citizens for generations to come.
Take a break at McDonalds on North Meridian Street. Look across the street to the southern point of the Portland Shoppes. Here the 1st natural gas well went down for the state of Indiana.
Go east on Votaw Street to the fairground. See the beautiful round Floral Hall built in 1891.
Turn south to East Main Street. Go east to the end of the street to visit the Jay County Historical Society’s museum. Learn why we are the only Jay County in the United States. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 to 4:00 and by special appointment.
Redkey is located southwest of Portland at the crossroads of Highways 1 and 67 in Richland Township. It has about 1,400 people.
The Josiah Wade family was the first to settle here in 1836. Until Harrison Wade, son of Josiah, platted a little village of Mt. Vernon in 1854, the settle was known as the Wade settlement.
In 1856 Rev. James Redkey had his land next to Mt. Vernon platted. That plat was called Redkey. When application was made for a government post office, there was already a Mt. Vernon, so the name of Redkey was taken. Redkey was incorporated in 1883.
Enjoy the historic buildings while visiting the street festival held at the end of May. Notice the flatiron building along the railroad tracks and the former Shambarger Restaurant building.
Visit the Key Palace Theatre to hear live entertainment. It is well-known in the area for blues music. Performance times can be found on the Jay County Visitor’s and Tourism Bureau website, www.visitjaycounty.com. (The Key Palace is currently closed.)
Salamonia is located southeast of Portland on 800E and 400S in Madison Township. It has about 150 people.
Lancaster was laid out in 1839 by Henry Abel and Benjamin Goldsmith. When application was made for a post office, there was already a Lancaster so the name of Salamonia was chosen.
Salamonia was incorporated in March of 1867.
See the 1911 brick schoolhouse that has been restored and is being used as a community building. School was held there until 1924.