Home Page Menu

It was in the last days of November, 1837, cold and crispy in the morning when I arrived in LaPorte, this state. The U.S. land office was located there and I was looking for a chance to secure a farm on the prairie. I had with me a letter signed by EPHRIAM CLEVLAND, who with his borther-in-law, JAMES H. SANGER--old friends of mine-- had removed from my native town in western New York that summer to Lake county. The letter was post marked "Lake C.H., Lake county, Indiana."

Upon inquiry I found that this place was some 40 miles to the southwest of LaPorte. I procured a horse, rifle, and ammunition and started for the new Eldorado. Scattered settlers along the unfrequented road told me of moving wagons, but not until I reach Valparaiso--a village of half a dozen houses
did I get any definite information of my friends from York state. Here I learned that two moving wagons had left the main western trail, taking a southwesterly course, leading in that direction. Passing on several miles through the woods I came to a comfortable log cabin where I stopped over for the night. Here I recieved further information regarding my friends. Early the next morning I pursued my journey through the woods.

It had been a cold night and the ground was frozen sufficient to bear my horse while crossing the sloughs, which were numerous and greatly retarded my journey the day before. At length I came to a house at Hickory Point where I found a good fire and everything comfortable. Recieving further information here of my friends, and full directions to "Bryants Settlement" I proceeded on the dim wagon trail, and came to the open prairie, and then to an ugly looking slough, several rods wide. Here the trail came to a full stop, but following up the stream a distance I at last succeeded in crossing, but not without getting very wet. I followed the trail along to South East Grove where I found a settler. Here I was welcomed to warm and dry my clothing, and I was informed that I was in Lake county.

It was the custom of the Indians, and had been from time immortal, to burn the prairie every fall when dry enough, and the trail now on the open prairie, which had lately been burned over, was black as ink.A short distance south was a wet spot of a few acres that had escaped the fire. It was dotted over with muskrat houses. On this was a small herd of deer, feeding quietly, and looked up at me in wonder, but not seemingly in fear. I dismounted and cocked my gun and moved toward them. The old buck with tremendous horns was first alarmed and bounded off a few rods. Then the balance raised their heads and looked, and finally showed their white tails and sped away, without me getting a shot.

Except the slight wagon trail there was no evidence that a human being had ever been there before. It was my first view of a wild prairie, and continued as far as the eye could reach in every direction, except the grove that I had just passed.

I eventually arrived at the "outlet" timber, as it was then called, where was located Bryant's Settlement, and there I found my old friends JAMES H. SANGER and EPHRIAM CLEVLAND, worthy men, who lived and died where they first settled."

Submitted by Jack Childers
Email- injack1@aol.com