Monroeville, Indiana was founded in 1851 in former Indian territory. It was surrounded by deep hardwood forests. Drainage was poor and there were vast swamps. Like many early communities it was plotted next to a railroad that was built in 1854 to connect Chicago, Illinois to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
During the Civil War years of 1861 to 1865, Monroeville grew rapidly because of the railroad and the need for wood products provided by the sawmills and barrel stave factories. The town was incorporated in 1866. As the hardwood forests disappeared the ground was cleared and drained for farming. The soil was rich and productive. This created a need for grain elevators, feed mills, flour mills, farm equipment and creameries.
More industries and businesses followed as Monroeville gained population. The thriving business district contained grocery stores, general merchandise stores, hotels, grain elevators, cafés, taverns and drug stores. Later with the advent of the automobile, Meyer Auto Sales, a Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge dealer, was founded in 1915. Gasoline stations soon followed. Professionals such as doctors, dentists, lawyers and funeral directors became available as Monroeville grew to be second only to Fort Wayne in size and industry. Monroeville has always had a local newspaper published even to this day. The newspaper has had several names over the years such as the Monroeville Breeze and the Monroeville News.
In 1892, The Citizens State Bank of Monroeville, Indiana was formed. J.B. Niezer was the major stockholder and John Nail was named President. The Citizens State Bank was re-capitalized by the stockholders in 1932 and became the First Citizens State Bank. The Bank was only closed for 3 days during the Bank Holiday as ordered by the Federal Government. In 1966 First Citizens State Bankmerged with Fort Wayne National Bank and became a branch office with its own Advisory Board. In 1998 Fort Wayne National Bank merged with National City Bank of Cleveland, Ohio. In 2008, National City was acquired by PNC.
Monroeville’s first school met in a one room building. By 1875 a new school building was constructed to house grades 1 through 12. The local Catholic parish offered education with a private religious grade school and still does today. In the 1960’s several small Township schools, located in the eastern part of Allen County were urged by the Indiana State Board of Education into consolidating under the name of East Allen County Schools. East Allen County Schools in 1968-1969 built Heritage High School to serve the southeast part of Allen County including the communities of Monroeville, Hoagland and Poe. In 2013, an addition to Heritage High School was added to house the K-6 grades of Monroeville and Hoagland Elementary making Heritage a K-12 campus.
Private religious schools such as St. Joseph Academy was formed in the late 1800’s. Later the Lutheran Churches in the area also formed schools. Catholic and Lutheran schools are still functioning to this day. There exists between the different school systems a spirit of competition and good will. As an example of this, the public school system uses its buses to deliver students to the private schools. In turn, after the 8th grade, many of the private school students finish their high school years at Heritage High School located halfway between Monroeville and Hoagland on Monroeville Road.
The community has long cared for its youth with many organizations such as the Monroeville Little League, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and a very active FFA chapter at Heritage High School. In 2002, after two years of planning, the community rallied to support the creation of the Cornerstone Youth Center. The center serves all of southeast Allen county with programming for youth development. Cornerstone first opened in the former Monroeville Lumber Company building in downtown Monroeville. In 2010, is purchased the former Heritage Wire and Die company to renovate and remodel as a program space.
In 1921 the first public library was founded on the 2nd floor of Town Hall-Fire Station. In 1927 local citizens presented a lot to the Library Board and a new library opened in September of 1928. Today a new, larger, more accessible building is under consideration to be built in 2002. The former building became the town hall and marshal office.
In 1987 stock was sold, land was purchased and a new doctor’s office was built in the Heritage Professional Plaza. Dr. Don Giant launched his practice with a hot air balloon ride in July 1988. In 1992 stock was again sold to build an office for Kenton L. Bailey DDS. Dr. Bailey was the first full-time dentist to practice in the community in many years. In 2000 Adams County Hospital of Decatur opened the doors to the Village of Heritage, a 61 bed long term care facility.
Monroeville’s most famous resident was the Rev. Lloyd C. Douglas, author of The Robe, Magnificent Obsession, Disputed Passage and The Big Fisherman all of which were made into movies. He wrote his autobiography, Time to Remember, about his boyhood life in Monroeville including stories about his parents Rev. and Mrs. A. J. Douglas. The elder Rev. Douglas was pastor of Lutheran churches in the area. Rev. Lloyd Douglas preached his first sermons in these same churches when he was ordained. In later years he occasionally visited his mother in Monroeville and was friends with several of the townspeople. Although he only lived in town for a few years, he always said that he considered Monroeville to be “his home.”