In the fall of 1900, surveyors came down the Ridge Road (currently St. Rd. 37) to Maysville (Harlan)
doing survey work for the Wabash Railroad. This railroad would run from Fort Wayne, Indiana to
Detroit, Michigan. The railroad would cut across both the David Sauder and Joseph grabill farms from North
to South. A station was built with the name, "West Maysville", and tickets were issued. The people in the
area protested, wanting no part of the older town. The Wabash railroad changed the name because of the
protest. Everyone wondered what the name would be.
One morning, the name "Grabill" appeared on the depot and the matter was settled. On January 1, 1902,
the first steam engine moved through Grabill, not yet a town. By February 1902, Joseph A. Grabill recorded
the original plat of the town, which laid out 23 lots. A post office was established in August of 1902. Joseph
Grabill became the first postmaster and the town was named in his honor.
The 23 lots that comprised the town of Grabill were all sold by the fall of 1902. The first buyers were
John Gerig, Joseph Witmer, Roy Shuler, Alvin Klopfenstein, J.M. Klopfenstein, Menno & Emma Sauder,
Henry B. Houts, Esther & George Waite, and Samuel Egly. These individuals, along with others invested
in a grain mill, a lumberyard, a bank, a department Store, a hardware store, several hotels, a tile mill, a
drugstore, a harness shop, a hatchery, and a print shop. A volunteer fire department was started in
1916. A dentist and doctor's office, a town hall, and a two room school house followed. The telephone
came in 1903 and electricity came in 1915.
In 1912, the town of Grabill was incorporated so that it could have it's own school and voting place.
Joseph Grabill was interested in every phase of Grabill's development. As he platted more additions
to the town, he lined the streets with tree plantings from his own woods. He served on the school board, as
Church trustee for 50 years, on the board of directors of the Grabill Bank, and on the board of directors
for the Grabill Grain Company. He lived to be 93 (1866-1959). To the end, he had real pride and concern for
SPECIAL THANKS TO KATHRYN MOORE FOR THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE.