The story of Brown County towns and villages, some of which no longer exist, is endlessly fascinating. Many were formed and named by the very early pioneers.
There are areas once served by all-purpose country stores and post offices, but no cluster of houses formed to create a community or village.
One such place was Peter Cooper, on the southwest edge of Johnson Township in southwestern Brown County, near the Monroe County line.
Johnson Township is no longer a township since Lake Monroe was built; that area is now Washington Township.
A chart of Brown County post offices gives 1855 as the date of the Peter Cooper office. The 1884 atlas listing every post office in the United States also mentions Peter Cooper.
The Service Roll of 1886 gives the name and residence of all living Civil War veterans registered. Lowery Lucas (1842-1920), a private in Co. B, 17th Indiana Regiment, was living at Peter Cooper. Samuel Parks had served as a private in Co. E. of the 145th Indiana Regiment. Therefore, proof exists that Peter Cooper was known in Brown County at an early date.
Alma Lucas of Bloomington states that her great-uncle, Joseph Lucas, brother of Lowery Lucas, owned and ran the Peter Cooper store and was the postmaster. The post office was in the store. Alma Lucas grew up in a house fairly near the store, just down the road. The store was built on flat land about 2 miles north of the present Crooked Creek ramp on Lake Monroe. The lake does not cover the site.
The neighborhood children went to the one-room Crooked Creek School about a mile down the road. There were eight grades in the school.
For quite a while, the area had no church. Finally, when people felt the need for a church, everybody pitched in to build one. Joseph Lucas gave land for the Crooked Creek Christian Church. Other people furnished trees for lumber and sawed the trees into usable boards or helped in the building of the church. There were two entrances: one door was for the men and the other was for the women. The men and the women sat on opposite sides of the church — a common practice in those days. A platform held the lectern and heat was furnished by a Franklin-type stove in the center of the room. The little white church also had a belfry.
When the state moved people out of the area, at the time Lake Monroe was built, it took over the church and repaired it. The church then became Pentecostal. It was later vandalized. The weatherboarding was stripped off and finally the interior was so severely damaged that the building collapsed.
Frank Hohenberger, in his Indianapolis Star column for Dec. 22, 1946, wrote that some years before that date, the Peter Cooper post office was run by a postmistress. On a late summer afternoon, a man entered the store only to find the store and post office deserted.
After a search, the postmistress was discovered on the top of her kitchen roof, turning over peach halves laid out to dry in the sun. When the work was finished, the postmistress climbed down the ladder and business went on as usual.
This map shows the possible location of the area where Peter Cooper might have been — somewhere along Crooked Creek.