In truth, Fairfield's location limited its growth and certainly its ethnic and social diversity. The explanations are more clear with a cursory study of what was going on, where and by whom.
In the early 1800s, settlement was driven by an influx of white Protestants who were eager to (a.) find new futures and (b.) remove themselves from the economics of Southern slavery.
The economy that followed was agrarian. Timber, livestock, trade with the native Indians. Those first settlers were building dreams, not industry.
As Indiana matured and its population soared, so did its needs. Slowly, county seats were formed, towns established, roads cut from the forest and commerce expanded. By the 1830s, Indiana was ready to take its place.
Again, how this impacted Fairfield is simply a matter of connecting dots ... because the reality was that it did NOT affect Fairfield, unless you conjure up some what-if's.
Fairfield wasn't close enough to the middle of the action to actively profit from it and, by nature of that, did NOT profit from it.
Two major groups of people moved into the Whitewater Valley during the 1830s, both of whom essentially set up shop elsewhere for completely different reasons.
One group, the Quakers, came to Indiana to bolster the abolitionist movement that had sprung up in the decades prior to the Civil War. They came west on what was to be known as the National Road (U.S. 40) that came through ... Richmond, Wayne County.
The National Road (Cumberland Road) was actually begun in 1811, the same year that Franklin County was formed. Originally, it was simply a route to the Ohio River from the Potomac. Later, in the 1830s, it was rebuilt and headed west.
Among other components of this rather large movement of settlers was a standard Friends philosophy against hedging on their principles. Indiana Yearly Meeting of Orthodox Friends in 1837, "cautioned against joining with others not of our society, lest the standing of Friends as a peculiar people, separate from the world, be compromised."
In other words, don't hang around with people from Fairfield, who are not Quakers.
The other more significant group who came to the Whitewater Valley in the 1830s were Germans, both Catholic and Lutheran. Mostly, they had been lured to America because economics in Europe had largely been shifted toward a factory culture. Farmers and small shop owners were finding it impossible to thrive.
Religious sects migrated, especially the Old Lutherans of northern Germany, to avoid being united with the Reformed churches. Still others fled because they were political refugees. The latter were usually university-trained men with a zeal for liberty and democracy. The Germans regarded the West as a land of opportunity.
They came to America, armed with dedication and spirit, and found work building the Whitewater Canal, the "stream of dreams." They settled in Franklin County, in Highland and Ray townships, depending on their faith.
Fairfield's problem was that it wasn't close enough to the work or the road to the work.
Some other interesting tidbits about the migration of the 1830s:
* Since the roads were better, the weather more favorable, and the food more plentiful in the autumn, farmers were urged to move with their teams and wagons at this season.
* According to the Indiana Gazetteer or Topographical Dictionary of 1833, Brookville had 600 people, two gristmills, a sawmill, a cotton factory, a carding machine, five stores, three taverns, four lawyers, three doctors and a "large number" of artisans. (Only three taverns?)
* Fayette County established two new towns during the 1830s, Columbia and Berlin. (Neither is to be confused with Metropolis.)
* In 1838 Connersville's population was around 500 with "seven mercantile stores, one drug store, four taverns, four lawyers, four physicians, and two printing offices, besides mechanics of all kinds." (Only four lawyers?)
* Union County incorporated its county seat, Liberty with a population of around 500, and laid out one other town, Philomath, during the 1830s. (Philomath? Yes, Philomath.)
* In Wayne County, Hagerstown and Cambridge City were laid out and both were on the canal route. Richmond platted earlier was growing by leaps and bounds. In 1832 it had a population of 1,252, and the next year it reportedly boasted an increase of 488. (They were actually lying about that, research concludes.)
* In 1822-23 delegates from Randolph, Wayne, Union, Franklin, Fayette and Dearborn counties met at Harrison, Ohio, to consider building a canal. The leader of this group was Augustus Jocelyn, a minister, and publisher of the Western Agriculturalist at Brookville. Jocelyn utilized his paper to create an interest in behalf of internal improvements within the valley. (By the way, the little drainage ditch that remains is far inferior to the overall scope of the actual canal.)
Sources: Indiana Magazine for History
Map is of the route for the original National Road. More on that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Road