The Cumberland Area is bounded by: Post Road to the west, 700 w to the east, just south of Washington or US 40 to the south, and I-70 to the north. Based on interviews with residents of this area these boundaries are not always consistent with local conceptions.

Athough platted in the 1830s, Cumberland did not experience significant growth for over a century.  When Washington Square Shopping Mall opened near the edge of Marion County and with the construction of I-70 in the 1970s the town began to grow and that growth caused problems. As the town board worked to contain development, citizens’ confidence in their elected officials was tested more than once, especially in the 1970s and 1980s when in-fighting, unreasonable self-appointed pay increases, and even grand jury indictments were common occurences.  Today Cumberland’s biggest concerns are continued growth and its identity as a community rather than just another Indianapolis suburb.

Platted in 1831 by Henry Brady, Cumberland was settled initially by workers who were constructing the National Road. [1]
 In 1830 the population of all of Warren Township, in which Cumberland resides, was only 617 persons. [2]
 But in 1838 the National Road connected to Washington Street in Indianapolis, setting the stage for growth in Cumberland as travelers made their way to the state capital. [3]
 By 1855 Cumberland had its own Post Office and two churches, Cumberland Baptist established in 1832 and St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed Church established by local German immigrants in 1855. [4]

In 1901 Carl Sonnerschmidt and Herman Junge established Smith and Young Greenhouses, which would eventually become one of the largest rose-growing nurseries in Indiana. [5]
 Local students attended Cumberland High School before the construction of Warren Central which consolidated the Cumberland and Shadeland High Schools in 1925. By 1926 the Indianapolis News was predicting that Cumberland would eventually become a community center of Indianapolis since it was in line with the eastward growth of the larger city. [7]
 Four years later St. John Evangelical Church celebrated it 75th anniversary with 400 members and 100 associate members/ [8]

Cumberland’s population reached 600 in 1950, but residents claimed that bad roads were a deterrent to growth. [2-9]
  In 1959 the town bond-financed a $241,000 waterworks and 230 residents agreed to switch from well water to city water.

A growth spurt began early in the 1960s when the Cumberland Homes Addition added 28 new lots to the town. [10]
 One illustration of that growth was the groundbreaking for a new $60,000 building for the Cumberland Methodist Church in 1961. [11]
 Now with a population of 900, representing 50 percent growth in a decade, the town faced sewage problems and a $176,000 bill to solve them. [11]
 These problems were compounded in 1967 when the Cumberland Heights subdivision was platted adding more new homes to the town. [13]

In the midst of concerns over development the citizens of Cumberland began to have even greater concerns about their town board.  In 1969 the board voted itself a pay increase. The raises meant that the Clerk-Treasurer of tiny Cumberland would now make more than the mayor of the City of Lawrence. [14]
 And, the increase also gave pay raises to two members of the board whose actions were under investigation by a grand jury. [15]

On January 10, 1970, citizens circulated a petition to call a referendum to strike $11,000 from the town’s budget, set new salaries for town employees, redistrict the town’s population for better representation on the town board, and drop the town Marshal’s office and use the Metro Indy police force instead.. [16]
 In March the Cumberland Clerk-Treasurer and 2 former town board members were indicted by the grand jury on 58 counts of unlawful activities. [17]
 Eventually the remaining members of the town board agreed to a reduction in pay, and in 1972 a new board again lowered the pay of board members to what it considered to be a reasonable level. [18]

In 1972 construction began at another new subdivision, Glen Oaks.  By 1977 the assessed valuation of the Glen Oaks and Cumberland Heights subdivisions was $1,430, 410. [19]
 The construction of the multi-million dollar  Mount Comfort Airport on 1,200 acres about a mile from the Glen Oaks subdivision encouraged further development in the Cumberland area and the opening of I-70 turned the far eastside into a viable bedroom community for Indianapolis commuters.  And Washington Square Mall, which opened in the mid-1970s, drew crowds of shoppers that made the far eastside attractive to an ever-increasing number of retail establishments.  In 1978 the Town Board annexed 157 acres to the town’s boundaries.  To keep up with the growth and increased population, Cumberland’s police force was almost doubled in two years; by 1978 it consisted of a Town Marshall and 3 full-time and one part-time deputies. [20]

Cumberland’s population had grown to 3,400 by 1980.  In 1983 the largest employer in town, the Electra Corporation, closed its production facilities, after giving its employees only 3 days notice, and moved the manufacturing  plant to Mexico.  In the mid 1980s discontent with the town board surfaced again over instability in the Clerk-Treasurer’s office—there were three Clerk-Treasurer’s in one year’s time—and a dispute, resulting in a lawsuit later dismissed by the Indiana Supreme Court, filed by the Town Marshall. [21]

In 1990 the population of Cumberland had reached 4,500.  Fourteen churches served this relatively small population. [22]
 The town’s area grew beyond its official town limits in 1991 and encompassed parts of Buck Creek and Sugar Creek townships in Hancock County as well as part of Warren Township in Marion County. [23]
 Also in 1991, the Cumberland Area Chamber of Commerce had 121 members and in January the town opened a new $524,000 Town Hall at 11501 E. Washington Street. [24]
 In 1987 the Chamber instituted an annual “Chamberfest” that lasts 4 days and consists of a talent show, a queen contest, and a three-ring circus.  Chamber members and residents view the festival as a way of pulling the community together. [25]

Toward the end of the decade of 1990 the tension between growth and the desire to retain “community” affects Cumberland as it does many small towns in Marion County.


 Kris E. Daman, “Cumberland,” in David J. Bodenhamer & Robert G. Barrows, eds., Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indiana University Press 1994), 486.


U.S. Census, 1830.


Albert E. Dickens,  “The Growth and Structure of Real Property Uses in Indianapolis, 1939.


“Warren Township Development Study,” 1990″; Daman, “Cumberland,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis.


 Daman, “Cumberland.”


 Indiana State Library Indiana Division Clipping Files, “Indiana Schools”


Indianapolis News, December 28, 1926.


 Indianapolis Star, October 25, 1930.


 Indianapolis Times, April 16, 1950.


 Indianapolis Star, August 6, 1961.


 Indianapolis Star, June 6, 1961.


 Indianapolis News, April 11, 1963.


 Indianapolis Star, June 28, 1978. Daman, “Cumberland,”Encyclopedia of Indianapolis.




 Indianapolis News, December 18, 1969.


 Indianapolis News, January 10, 1970.


 Indianapolis News, March 27, 1970.


 Indianapolis News, February 1, 1972.


 Indianapolis Star, June 25, 1978.




 Indianapolis News, April 11, 1984, June 29, 1984, November 9, 1984;Indianapolis Star, September 1, 1985, October 24, 1985, December 4, 1985.


Daman, “Cumberland,” Encyclopedia of Indianapolis.


 Indianapolis News, December 26, 1991.




  Indianapolis News, July 20, 1994.


The Chamber of Commerce’s seventh annual Chamberfest will begin Thursday at the Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club/ Marsh parking lots at 10859 and 10901 E.  Washington St. The festival runs over four days and offers everything from a  talent show to a queen contest to a three-ring circus. All but the  circus are free. Residents view the festival as a means of pulling the community together.

Among concerns mentioned by Hancock County Commissioners candidates is the expanding of Cumberland into Hancock county. One candidate counts this as one of his major concerns.


Cumberland has grown beyond official town limits and now encompasses parts of Buck Creek and Sugar Creek in Hancock County.

Cumberland Area Chamber of Commerce has 121 members.

Town opens a new $524,000 Town Hall at 11501 E. Washington Street.The facility houses the police department, offices of the clerk-treasurer, plan commission, park department, and building inspector.


Population: 4,500.

Fourteen churches located in Cumberland.


Cumberland Town Board considers $2 million project to help town retain “its identity in the face of growing development to the west,” and to “keep Cumberland from looking like Washington Square in five years.”  Plan includes new streets, walkways and beautification.


Cumberland Area Chamber of Commerce is organized.


Developers of Washington Pointe Centre, a strip mall, purchase 40 acres between Washington St. and East 10th St. just east of Washington Square.  The project will cost a projected $35 million.

Town marshal’s lawsuit is thrown out of court.


On-going discontent and problems with the town board and the town marshal result in 3 clerk-treasurers within the year, a federal law suit over the firing of the marshal, and the resignation of the board president.


Electra Corporation, the town’s largest employer, is moving to Mexico. Town loses almost 400 jobs.


Population: 3,400.

Town pays $12,685 to architects for new town hall design, but the original construction site becomes unavailable.


Police force consisits of a marshal, three full-time deputies, and one part-time deputy.  This manpower is almost double from two years earlier.

Town Board attempts to annex 300 acres, but a majority of the land owners opposed the annexation and the board agrees to annex only 157 acres owned by a land developer.

The opening of I-70 has turned the far eastside of Indianapolis into a mecca for home construction.


Assessed valuation of Cumberland Heights is $970,870.  Assessed value of Glen Oaks is $1,430,410.

Mulit-million dollar Mount Comfort Airport opens on 1,200 acres about 4 miles east of the Marion County line and about a mile from Glen Oaks subdivision.


Smith & Young Greenhouses closes.

First matter of business of new Town Board is to vote a pay slash.

Construction of the subdivision Glen Oaks begins.

Washington Square, whose opening was delayed while its developer built Castleton Square Mall, is now scheduled to open in 1974. Approximately 2500 persons will be employed with a payroll for the retail employees of up to $18 million per year.


Edward J. DeBartolo announces plans to build Washington Square Shopping Center on 150 acres at East Washington Street from Mitthoeffer Rd. To East 10th St. The Metropolitan Plan Commission required DeBartolo to participate in the financing of required street improvements in the area. DeBartolo refers to the new mall as a “shopping city.” Scheduled opening date is 1972.

Citizens circulate partition for referendum to strike $11,000 from town budget, set new salaries for town employees, and redistrict the 12,000 people of the town for better representation on Town Board. Also plan to drop town Marshal Office and use Metro Indy Police force instead.

Cumberland Clerk-Treasurer and two former Town Board members are indicted by grand jury on 58 counts of unlawful activities.

Population: 1,500.

Under Unigov, Cumberland is an included town.


Cumberland Town Board votes itself raises that mean the Clerk-Treasurer of Cumberland will make more than the mayor of Lawrence a nearby larger town.


Cumberland Heights subdivision is developed.


Population boom means that Cumberland needs to solve sewage problem. Current population is 900, projected growth to 4,000 very quickly.  New sewer system costs: $176,000.

Cumberland Farm Bureau grain elevator and building destroyed by fire.

First Baptist Church of Cumberland celebrates 50th anniversary.


Groundbreaking for $60,000 Cumberland Methodist Church.


Town of Cumberland agrees to bond-financed $241,000 town waterworks. 230 residents agree to switch from well water to city water

11 candidates seek 5 Cumberland positions in election.


Population: 6,000.  Main deterrent to growth is bad roads.  There is a movement to connect to Indianapolis telephone exchanges in order to eliminate telephone toll charges.


Lions Club forms with 46 charter members.


Rev. Rex Larue Jensen is new pastor at Cumberland Baptist Church.


Harlan, Sprague, Dawly Inc begins as breeder of lab animals for research.  Eventually will employ 120 in Cumberland and 800 worldwide


St. John Evangelical Church celebrates 75th anniversary.  400 members and 100 associate members.


Warren Township’s first high school building is constructed to house students from the former Cumberland and Shadeland High Schools and is called “Warren Central.”  The majority of students come from farming families. The school has 11 faculty members and 262 students.


Carl Sonnerschmidt and Herman Junge establish Smith and Young Greenhouses.  It will become one of the largest rose-growing nurseries in Indiana.


St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed Church established by German immigrants.


Cumberland Post Office established.


Cumberland Road connected to Washington Street.


Cumberland platted by Henry Brady on July 7.


Warren Township population is 617.

Cumberland Hall is built and immediately attracts a cluster of homes primarily constructed by the laborers who had worked on the National Road.