History of Burkhart Creek County Park

(The following photos and historical narrative on the Grounds family and ownership of the northern portion of Burkhart Creek County Park was shared by Martha (Lou) Grounds with the Morgan County Parks and Recreation Board.)

The northern portion of Burkhart Creek County Park had been part of the Grounds family since the mid 1850's, when it was purchased from the government by Hiram Grounds. At that time, the entire southern portion of Indiana was a wilderness - a great hunting ground that was home to many wild animals: deer, bears, coyotes, beavers, turkeys, and other small animals. Consequently, much hard work was spent in carving out portions to make it tillable and able to support the needs of the families who came to call it home.

Until the Indianapolis Power and Light Company purchased the Grounds Farm in April 1976, this property was owned by the Grounds family. Born in 1793, Devault Grunt (Grounds) was born in Holland and came to this country about 1812-1814 where he first settled near Ashville, North Carolina. Later he moved to Indiana around 1833 and settled near Gosport, Indiana.

David (Davy) Grounds (DOB 1816) was one of eleven children born to Devault and Sarah Isenhower Grounds and was married to Delilia (Lila) Burkhart (DOB 1824). It is believed that Burkhart Creek derived it's name from Lila's family. Davy purchased a 40 acre patent property from the US Government on July 1, 1852 which included the current northern portion of Burkhart Creek County Park. Later, the patent property, which was nicknamed "The Old Place," was purchased from Davy by Hiram Grounds, Davy's brother.

Although Davy and Lila had eleven children, only seven survived infancy. Later, Davy's son, Madison Monroe (Matt) Grounds (DOB 1850) bought back the homestead from his Uncle Hiram.

Matt married Sinah Rebecca Hancock (DOB 1857). Matt and Sinah also had eleven children: ten daughters and two sons. The oldest son, Ralph Williamson (Doc) Grounds (DOB 1891), purchased "The Old Place" in 1937. Ralph planted an orchard at "The Old Place" with the assistance of the Paragon High School Future Farmer's of America (FFA) boys in the late 1930's.

Ralph (Doc), Sr. married Flossie Murphy (DOB 1896). They held the title to this land until April 1976 when the Indianapolis Power and Light purchased the property. Eventually, this property was given to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

In 2007, the IDNR donated the 83 acre parcel of land with deed restrictions that essentially require the Burkhart Creek County Park to be used as a natural, low impact park for county residents. The park includes shelter houses, parking areas, and hiking trails.

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Morgan County Parks and Recreation
180 South Main Street, #112
Martinsville, IN 46151
Phone: (765) 342-1007