The Nentrup trading post served as an economic center for Jackson County in the early 19th century. It has been tentatively dated to around 1827 and was in use until 1857.
Its owner, who we believe was either named Joseph Henry or Joseph Herman Nentrup, was reported to have fled Hanover, Germany as a young man. He traveled to America via the tobacco schooner, The Caroline, which landed at Wilmington, North Carolina, in the fall of 1819 after having dropped its cargo in Europe and replaced it with passengers like Nentrup. With other immigrants like himself, Nentrup is reported to have walked more than 700 miles to Cincinnati, Ohio, arriving in early winter 1819. There he likely worked as a meat cutter before migrating west to Jackson County, Indiana. Upon his arrival, he camped out as a squatter on 160 acres in Driftwood Township, southwest of Brownstown in Jackson County.
The story goes that a party of travelers planning to settle further north stopped by Nentrup’s cabin. With the help of these travelers and other local residents, the Nentrup trading post was built. A now-lost diary is said to have described the trading post as made up of one room, 20 by 16 feet, with a stick and clay fireplace at one end, and shelves built around the walls to hold trading goods. Trading posts like these were very important as one of the only places in rural areas where goods could be acquired during this time period. What kind of goods would it have been important for such a place to keep in stock?
Moving the Trading Post
Much more research needs to be done to document the early history of this trading post. At some point before 1861 the structure was purchased by William Shoemaker and moved northward two miles where a second story of beech logs was added to the original poplar logs. The building later was moved a mile west of the Millport Road, possibly near the Muscatatuck River, and used as a grain and stock barn by the Turmail family. The Jackson County Historical Society purchased it in 1990, dismantled the logs, and reassembled the structure in Brownstown. This was the first building to be moved to the JCHC campus.