The territory embraced in the present townships of Cass, Dewey and Hanna, was originally a part of Starke county; but the inhabitants living north of the Kankakee river, were put to great inconvenience to reach their county seat, being obliged to go around by the way of Lemon’s bridge near the center of the east side of the county. To remedy the difficulty an appeal was made to the State legislature, and that body passed the following act, approved January 29, 1842, “for the attachment of a part of Starke county to the county of LaPorte.”
Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the General assembly of the State of Indiana, That all that part of Starke county which lies north of the Kankakee river be, and the same is hereby attached permanently to the county of LaPorte.
“Sec. 2. This act to be in force from and after its passage.” Thus all the territory named was made a part of LaPorte count. Wile it formed a part of Stark count it was know as Van Buren township; and this name was retrained upon the whole of it until the organization of Cass, which took place on the 12th day of June 1848, the Board of county commissioners having on that day made the following order:
It is ordered by the Board upon the petition of sundry inhabitants of Van Buren township that said township be divided by running a line north and south upon the range line dividing ranges three and four, and that the part west of said line, and south of the township line dividing townships thirty-four and thirty-five, and in LaPorte county, be called Cass township, and be numbered sixteen upon the tax duplicate, and it is ordered by the board that Alexander Campbell, be and he is hereby appointed inspector of elections in Cass township, that Clark Meeker be and is hereby appointed constable of said township, and that Moody Kimball and W. McLane be and hereby appointed fence viewers of said township to serve until the next annual election for the township officers and until their successors are duly qualified.”
As thus organized, the township embraced also the present township of Dewey; and the limits of Van Buren township were reduced to that portion lying east of the designated line between ranges three and four. This part of Van Buren contained very few inhabitants, not enough to make it advisable to hold elections, and they applied to the Board of commissioners to be attached to and made a part of Noble township, and accordingly that body on the 11th day of March, 1850, made the following order:
“Now come sundry citizens of Ban Buren township and present their petition to be attached to Noble township. It is therefore ordered by the Board that said Van Buren be so attached to the said Noble township, and that the boundaries of the said Noble township shall be as follows, to-wit: Beginning at the northwest corner of section number six, in township number thirty-five, north of ranges three west, and running south of the range line to the Kankakee river, thence up the said river to the township line between township number thirty-four and township number thirty-five, thence west on said last mentioned township line to the southeast corner of second number thirty-five in township number thirty-five, north of range three west, thence north of township line between townships line to the place of beginning.” The territory thus added to the township of Nobel afterwards was organized as Hanna township. Van Buren township ceased to exist with the passage of the order above quoted.
When the question of a name for the new township arose, those of the inhabitants who were of the Whig faith in politics desired it should be called Harrison, while the Democrats preferred the name Cass. It was decided to draw lots, and Walter Livingston and John Wills were selected for the drawing. Wills, who was a Democrat, won, and Cass became the name of the township, the very wet condition of Cass township at an early period, rendering a large portion of its territory little less than a marsh, hindered settlement and it was not until 1839 or 1840 that any settlers made their homes here. Peter Wooden, and Abraham Eahart were foremost in the settlement of Cass, coming about the time named. Jeremiah Wilson also was one of the earliest, but finally made his hoe in the edge of Clinton township. Nimrod West was an early settler in Van Buren township, but by the division was left in that part which is now Hanna township. The Concannons, James and Thomas, also came early, and Wm. Smith, Wm. Batterson, John Wills, and his sons, Charles, John and David; Isham Campbell, Adam Leeper, Alexander Campbell, Bishop Brockway, E. V. Waters, Dr. John F Tilden, and James and Richard Cannon. Augustus W. Vail settled at Morgan Station or Callao in 1844, and Hon. Edward Evans, the present representative to the State legislature has been a resident of the township more than twenty-five years. Sixteen years ago, John Harris arrived and population has gradually increased from that time forward. A large German population has settled in the township, and their industry has made them a very useful class of inhabitants.
In addition to those already named, the following persons are successful farmers in the township; Henry Bowman, who is a native of Prussia, and came to this county in 1853; . M. Shurte, from Butler county, Ohio and A. J. Shurte from Cass county, Michigan, who came to the country in 1846: S. B. Rundlett, a native of this county; and J. H. Cannon, who came from Porter county in 1843. Mrs. M. M. Beckley is a farmer and a stock raiser; J. O. Burner is a druggist and grocery dealer, and J. T. Sanders is a railroad agent, telegraph operator and a dealer in Agricultural implements.
There have been three villages in Cass township; Callao, Rozelle and Wanatah.
This village is know also as Morgan Station. It is situated on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroad, and was laid off in 1859, by Wm. Taylor.
The following is the record: “Field notes of survey of the town of Morgan, situated in the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of second two, township thirty-four, north of rage four west, commencing at a point five hundred and eighteen feet north of half mile stake on south line of described section, thence east eight hundred and sixty-eight feet, thence north one hundred and sixty-one feet, thence eighty-four feet, thence south three hundred and twenty-eight feet to the place of beginning. Surveyed and platted by W. A. Taylor, Mary 29, 1859.
The first merchants in this village were Wm. A. Taylor and Wm. McLane; they also put up warehouses and purchased considerable grain. An attempt was made to build a steam mill, but the proprietor dying, his work was never completed. Some years ago, August Gruening stated a blacksmith shop, and still follows that occupation. Three years ago, Charles Scarborough opened a store, and continued in business for two years. Wm. A. Taylor was the first postmaster of Callao. In 1864, A. W. Vail was appointed, and resigned in 1872. He was succeeded by Charles Scarborough who still holds the office. In 1862 or 1863, Mrs. Batterson kept a hotel and Dr. John F. Tilden has been located there as a physician since 1846. A Methodist church was erected at Callao about 1858 or 1859.
This village was laid out by its proprietor, Joseph Unruh, and the plat was recorded in 1859. The follow is the record:
“State of Indiana,}
Before me Daniel W. Long, Justice of the peace in and for said county, this 22nd day of January, 1859, appeared Joseph Unruh, and acknowledged the execution of the within plat and that he filed the same in the recorder’s office for record. The same is the west half of the northeast quarter of section number eight, in township thirty-four, north of range number four west.
Daniel W. Long, J.P.
Filed January 24, 1859.”
The village was located about a mile south of Wanatah, on the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago railroad. There never was much business done in the place, nearly all of it by Unruh, who was a merchant there, and grain buyer; and when he removed his stock and building s to Wanatah the rest of the town followed; and there now remains only a railroad water-house.
The town of Wanatah was laid out by T. A. E. Campbell, Ruel Starr, Joseph Unruh and Wm.Unruh; the survey was made by T. C. Sweeney and the town plat was recorded September 7, 1865. Its growth commenced a few months prior to the time when the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago R. R. was completed which was in the year 1857. The business of the place now consists of one hotel and one flouring mill/ seven dry goods and grocery stores; one drug and grocery store; two boot and shoe shops; five blacksmith and wagon shops, three of which manufacture new wagons, the other two being repair shops; one tailor shop; one millinery store; two harness shops; one carpenter shop and furniture store; one lumbar yard’ two hay presses, one of which pressed in 1874, on thousand tons of hay; on agricultural, and agricultural implement store; two saloons; two butcher shops; one produce shipper and general dealer; one grain dealer; three physicians, one of whom is a lady; one plasterer; one real estate and insurance agent; three telegraph operators, and two railroad stations.
The first general store was kept by Joseph Unruh who moved from Rozelle, a mile south of Wanatah, at that time of the completion of Pittsburgh , Fort Wayne Chicago railroad. Unruh’s building was used as a store and dwelling house also, and he afterwards opened it as a hotel which he kept until about four years ago when he sold out to Mitzner & Conitz, who still keep the store, and removed to Chicago. Unrhuh also built a flouring mill in the year 1867. It was erected for a warehouse, but concluding to make of it a mill, he put in three run of stones, and it is not one of the best flouring mills in the county. Emil L. Keil, the present owner, was for some time in Unruh’s employment in the management of the mill, and purchased it in 1870.
The first house in Wanatah was erected by a man named Hyde, for a dwelling house. A Mr. Protsman built the first hotel, some time before the town was surveyed and platted. This building is now Gallert’s saloon. A hotel was also kept a short time by a man named Louderback. Frank McCurdy built the McCurdy house in 1865. He sold it in 1874 to Robert Whitlock, and on the 9th day of January, 1875, it was burned. It was immediately rebuilt by Whitlock, and was opened July 22, 1875, under the name of the Wanatah House.
The first physician in the village was Nelson Ward. After having been in Wanatah some time her removed to LaFayette, but afterwards returned. His wife has since studied medicine at Ann Arbor, Michigan, and now practices with him. Dr. B. F. Janes afterwards settled in place.
The German Lutherans have built a very good church edifice in Wanatah, but other denominations have held services of late years in the “Enterprise” school house, which was built by a company of citizens in 1870. It was a stock company and most of the shares are now owned by F. McCurdy. An effort is at this time being made to induce its purchase by the township.
Wanatah is situated on Hog creek, at the crossing of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago, and Louisville, New Albany and Chicago railroads. It is in the open prairie, which a few years ago, it would have been difficult to cross on horseback or with a team without sticking fast in the mire. Now the land all around is dry, much of it is under cultivation, and is very productive. As the surrounding country becomes more developed, the trade of Wanatah must increase, furnishing as it will, the market place for all the grain and hay of the southwest part of the county. Even now its business is considerable, but is certain to advance just in proportion to the growth of the country around about.
In the township outside of Wanatah, there are two churches, the German Methodists having built one two and a half miles south of the village. The Lutherans also have erected a church building at the same place.
There are seven school houses in the township, showing a good degree of interest among the people in the matter of education. When Dewey was organized, the trustee of Cass was left in the new township, and Augustus W. Vail was appointed to fill the vacancy, and at the succeeding election, Edward Evans was elected trustee. Richard Cannon has been trustee of the township; and James Cannon also for several successive years. Emil L. Keil is the present trustee. Hog creek passes through the township across the western side running out of this township into Porter county. The land is generally of an excellent quality, perhaps two-thirds of the township consisting of rich, deep prairie soil. On the north and east, there are groves of timber, chiefly oak. Some portions of the Kankakee marsh lands reach up into the township from the south, and southeast, and these arms of the prairie are intermingled with sandy “barrens;” but the marsh is excellent mowing land, and is becoming each year more capable of cultivation. The sandy portions take readily to clover, and can thus be made rich and valuable lands. The most successful grain crop is corn, though the wheat and oats do well, and it may be said that Cass township is likely to become one of the richest agricultural districts of the county. The population is enterprising and industrious, is increasing year by year, and a bright future for the township is promised.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 - Transcribed for La Porte Co. Gen Web by Christine Scott 27 February 2006.
At the organization of the county, the present Centre township was wholly included in the limits of what was then Scipio, which extended from the southern to the northern boundary of the county, and was the central t township of the three into which the county was divided. But a division of it was made at an early period. The Board of county commissioners, at their regular meeting on the fifth day of November, 1833, passed the following order:
“Ordered that the township at present know by the name of Scipio be divided by the line dividing the townships composed a new township to be called Centre township and that Aaron Stanton be appointed inspector of elections, and John Stanton and Wm. Bond be appointed overseers of the poor in said township of Centre.”
Changes have occurred in the limits of Centre township as thus designated, until the present time it occupies sections one and two of township thirty-six, range three, and all of township thirty-seven except the northern tier of sections, which are now a part of Springfield township.
The first settlement made in this township was by Aaron Stanton on the twenty-eight day of March 1830. He settled on section twenty-four, about two miles north of the eastern boundary of the city of LaPorte. Philip Fail came at the same time, and settled on the same section but removed in the Fall to Kankakee township. Wm. and Stephen Clement arrived in the township in the Fall of 1831, and soon afterwards opened a store within the limits of the present city of LaPorte. Benajah Stanton hauled goods fro them from Niles, Michigan. Wm. Clark came in 1830, and made a settlement on section twenty-three, but did not bring his family until the fall of 1831. Adam smith arrived in the fall of 1830. The Blakes, Landon, Wheeler, the Balls, John B. and Charles Fravel, Wilson Malone, Wm. Staton and family, and Alfred Stanton, all arrived very early. At the land sales at Logansport, James and A. P. Andrew Jr., bought land in section two, township thirty-six. They also bought land of Jesse Morgan, Wm. Thomas and Richardson, who had arrived earlier. In the year 1831, William and Jesse Bond settle on the east side of the township. John Garwood reached the county in 1831, and Brainard Goff in 1832.
Settlers now began to arrive in great numbers. There was no part of the county more attractive than much of that which is now Centre township. The north part of it was well timbered; and on the south and west were broad reaches of rich prairie land, dotted with beautiful Burr oak groves. In prairie and woodland, were many sparkling lakes, the loveliest of which lay near the site chosen for the town of LaPorte.
In 1831 Col. W. A. Place made a preliminary visit to LaPorte county, and being well pleased with the country, he determined to make it his home. He brought his family and settled in Centre township in October, 1832. He was here early enough to help build the first log cabin put up in LaPorte. It was built for George Thomas, and stood near where the depot of Lake Shore railroad is now located.
The population of Centre township exclusive of the city of LaPorte, is about 1200, consisting of intelligent and industrious citizens, engaged almost wholly in agricultural pursuits. In the immediate vicinity of LaPorte, there are several small fruit farms, and market gardens, which supply the city with fruit and vegetables during the season, and from which may products are shipped to Chicago. For the township generally wheat, corn, oats and potatoes are the staple products. Much attention has been given to providing means for education of the children of the township, and in every school district there is a good school house.
About two miles north of the city of LaPorte, in Centre township, on the heights bordering the east side of Pine lake, is Pine lake cemetery. It contains forty-seven acres, and is perhaps the most lovely spot in the county. For the beauty which nature has given it, there can scarcely be found in the whole country a more charming place. It is controlled by an association, which was organized under a State statute in the year 1855. Gilbert Hathaway was the first president of the association and Don J. Woodward, secretary and Treasurer. Gen. Joseph Orr was President of the association several years, resigning the position only a few months ago; and the valuable and tasteful improvements of the grounds are due in a great measure to his energy and public spirit, and the correct taste which he brought to the work of beautifying this resting place of the dead. Visitors to the place are always delighted with its diversified scenery, looking out upon the lake in front, and resting on a dark green back-ground of woods, while all between presents gentle elevations, quiet vales, and winding walks and carriage drives. Nature furnished here a happy ground work of beauty; and the hand of art, judiciously and tastefully employed, has perfected the work, rendering this sacred city of the dead, a place of loveliness and solemn delight, as well as of sad and holy memories.
In Centre township there is no two except the city of LaPorte.
LaPorte, the county seat of LaPorte county, is situated on the Lake Shore of Michigan Southern, and Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago railroads. It is fifty miles east of Chicago, and twelve miles from the lake port of Michigan City, with which it is connected by rail. For beauty of situation LaPorte is unsuppressed. East, sough and west lie spread out, the rich prairie lands, interspersed with groves; and on the north, coming up to the edge of the city is a chain of small lakes, gem-like in their beauty, the most noted of them being Clear lake, Stone lake and Pine lake. It is not strange that those who first came, should be the county seat of the county. It may readily be imagined that when nature only, had visited the lakes and groves and prairies of this locality, the dullest and most insusceptible of minds much have been touched with its beauty.
LaPorte is situated on what was know as the “Michigan Road Lands.” They were sold at the land sales at Logansport in the month of October, 1831; and Walter Wilson, Hiram Todd, John Walker, James Andrew and Abram P. Andrew Jr., bought four hundred acres of them with a view to laying out a town which should be the capital town of the county. The town was laid out and the original survey made in 1833. There was already a number of settlers in the place. Joseph Pagin had arrived in 1831 and built a house on the east side of Clear lake, near where the ice house now stands which replaced the burned brewery. Still earlier, in the year 1830, Richard Harris and George Thomas came and built cabins within the present city limits. The cabin of Thomas stood near the present location of Michigan Souther deport, and it is said that his neighbors erected it for him on a Sunday. Wilson Malone who now lives in Porter county says he was the first person to sleep in this house, before it was occupied by the family of Mr. Thomas. In the winter of 1832-3, there were but three families in LaPorte, which were those of George Thomas, Richard Harris and Wilson Malone. Oak groves occupied the present site of the city, and when the Spring opened, and the wild flowers covered the future streets, and the tress were covered with foliage, and the green sward carpeted the earth, approaching to the very edge of the bright and unvexed waters of Clear lake, it formed a picture to charm the eye and captivate the heart of the lover of Nature, whether savage or civilized.
The intrusion of Geo. Thomas into the sylvan beauty of the spot was the signal for the advent of still more, and many a noble Burr oak fell, and maybe a flower was crushed under the feet of the sturdy pioneers who came to make homes and build a city. Thomas’ house was constructed of slabs procured from a steam saw mill which Capt. Andrew had erected a short distance west of the town. It was in this house that the first session of the board of county commissioners was held. The first cabin soon had companions; and in 1834 there were fifteen houses on the ground which was to be occupied by the future town. Business was opening. Mechanics, merchants and professional men began to arrive. Charles Fravel came in 1832. The Blakes, and a man by the name of Lily kept the first hotels. John and Wm. Alison, Hiram Wheeler, John B. Fravel, Dr. Ball and Nelson Landon, were merchants in 1832 and 1833. Seth Way and Charles Ladd were dwellers in tents in those days like Abraham of old, and they followed the business of breaking up the sod of the prairie for the farmers who had fixed their homes at various points between LaPorte and Westville, and elsewhere in the county. In March, 1833, Thompson W. Francis, now of Michigan City, came to LaPorte to work as a builder and carpenter. He built the hotel which was kept long afterwards by Capt. Levi Ely.
At the September term of commissioners’ court, 1833, a license was granted to J. F. and W. Allison to keep a tavern in LaPorte, and also to vend merchandise. Licenses were granted also to Wm. Clement and to Seneca Ball to vend merchandise. At the March term, 1934, a license was granted to H. and T. Wheeler to vend merchandise, and a license to Wm. Clement : to vend foreign and domestic liquors and groceries.”
At the September term of the same year, Amzi Clark was licensed to vend merchandise, also Absalom Walter; and Noah Newhall “to keep a tavern;” and at the November term the following, A. and A. W. Harrison were licensed to vend merchandise. At the March, term, 1835, Wm. Clement was licensed to keep a tavern, and R. B. Hews and Hiram Wheeler to vend merchandise.
In 1835, licenses were further granted to McCarty and Howel, John brown and Thomas H. Phillips; and to Daniel D. Rathbun, Oliver Shirleff, Grover and Williams, John A. Fletcher and Mordecai Cross, to keep tavern. A license was also granted at the November term in the his year, to Sherwood and Hixon, “to vend wooden clocks.”
In 1836, James Gibson, Arthur McClure, Samuel Darlington and Conrad Everhart were licensed to keep tavern; and McCarty and Howell and Eli Hays to vend merchandise.
A hotel which was kept by Mr. Blake stood on Brown’s corner, the one now occupied by Eliel’s drug store. Afterwards General Brown himself kept a hotel there. The old wooden buildings which were the predecessors of the present brick structure, and which were burned a few years ago, were built by Gen. Brown.
In laying out the town the original proprietors, Wilson, Todd, Walker and the Andrews, donated every alternate lot to the county for the purpose of enabling it to erect a court house and other public buildings. The lots were sold on easy terms, and during the years 1835 and 1836, the population largely increased. The Michigan City Gazette of July 22, 1835, in speaking of LaPorte denominates it as “this flourishing village.” A land office was opened here in 1834 or 1835, with Major Robb, Register, and John M Lemon, Receiver. James Whittem was a clerk in the land office.
Among lawyers first admitted to practice in LaPorte were Wm. O. Ross, June 10, 1833; John B. Niles, December 16, 1833; John S. Lacy, December 16, 1833; Wm. Hawkins, December 16, 1833; Robert Merrifield, October 13, 1834; B.B. Taylor, October 17, 1834; Wm C. Hannah, October 18, 1834. In 1935, there were Charles McCleese, and John H. Bradley; in 1836, Myron H. Orton, Jabez R. Wells, G. A. Everts, Thomas Tyrrell, N. W. Saxton, and A. W. Enos; and in 1837, Andrew L. Osborn, Gilbert Hathaway, J. W.Chapman, and E. A. Hannegan. Some of these lived in Michigan City.
In the month of July, 1838, the first newspaper that was established in LaPorte was sent out to the people of LaPorte and other counties. It was published by J. M. Stuart, and S. C. Clisbe, and was called the “LaPorte County Whig, and Porter, Lake and Marshall Counties Advertiser.” Stuart & Clisbe conducted it only about a year, when it passed into the hands of Capt. A. P. Andrew, Jr. It was a staunch Whig paper, hoisting in 1840 the names of Harrison and Tyler, for the election of whom, and the candidates of the Whig ticket throughout, the editor of the Whig labored with zeal and energy and much efficiency. Stuart went to Michigan City, where he obtained control of the Gazette, the politics of which he changed from an earnest advocacy of the Democratic party to become the champion of the Whigs.
Prior to 1840, a Democratic paper was established by Joseph Lomax, which was called the LaPorte Herald. The campaign of 1840 was warmly contested, and not less so here than elsewhere. The town and county of LaPorte participated fully in the political spirit and feeling that characterized the campaign. The Herald gave an enthusiastic support to Van Buren; the Whig, with equal earnestness, supported Harrison. Its columns were ornamented with a long cabin, the cut of which was made by a gunsmith of LaPorte.
In the year 1833, the first school house was built. It was a humble beginning, but educational privileges have gone on increasing and improving until now the system of graded free schools is the pride of every citizen. The graded schools were established in 1856, in which year a school building was erected in each ward, each of them having a primary and secondary department. Four of these buildings were of brick two stories in height. After the first term under the graded system a grammar department was opened which was taught in an old frame building belonging to W. D. Farnsworth, which stood not far from the present location of the High School building. The teachers in the various schools were R. M. Johnson, A. T. Bliss, Jasper Packard, Mrs. J. Packard, Miss. O. M. Tibbits, Miss Emma Chandler, Miss M. A. Kens, And Mrs. Steele. The schools grew in strength and influence, and usefulness, under the wise management which they have fortunately always received, and a High School department was soon organized which was first taught by Jasper Packard. The first board of trustees were Gilbert Hathaway, Amzi Clark and b. P. Walker, who were succeeded by John B. Niles, James Moore and Ferdinand Roberts, and these by Wm. C. Hannah, L. Crane and Rev. Geo. C. Noyes, under those administration the present High School building was erected.
In 1863, this commodious school building was constructed, and with its completion, and the continued successful management and conduct of the schools, the educational advantages of LaPorte are of the highest kind. So excellent have been the public schools that from the time of the inauguration of the graded system, it has been impossible for private or select schools to be maintained for any great length of time, though several have been in operation at different times that were well worthy of support. Such were those especially of Mrs. Holmes who now conducts a fine school for young ladies in Springfield, Illinois; of T. L. Adams, just prior to his acceptance of the position of Superintendent of the public schools; and the Technical and Training school of W. P. Phelon, all of which had to yield before the steady upward march of the admirably conducted free schools. These have never been more successful than during the present year under the superintendency of Mr. B. L. Swift, with J. R. Goffe, and Misses Lyon and Crittenden as teachers in the High School, and an efficient corps of teachers in all the other departments. The present board of trustees are Messrs. Donly Foster and Early.
In the winter of 1840-41, a charter was obtained from the State Legislature, through the exertions of John H. Bradley who was then a member from LaPorte, for a school of high rank to be called LaPorte University. The charter was drawn by Wm. Andrew, and provided for an insinuation that should have a literary, a medical and a law department. The next year the law department was organized under the charge of Judge Andrew, who received quite a large class of students. The medial department was organized in 1842. The building in which classes were first opened stood where Davidson’s marble-front store is now located. A good building was afterwards erected on the square immediately south of the present High School building, and here the school progressed with a fair degree of success. The medical faculty consisted of the following gentlemen:
Geo. W. Richards, M.D., Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine.
John B. Niles, A. M., Professor of Chemistry.
Daniel Meeker, M.D., Professor of Anatomy and Physiology.
A. B. Shipman, M.D., Professor of Surgery. Nicholas Hard, M.D., Profession of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children.
E. Deming, M.D., Professor Material Medical.
Levi F. Torrey, M.D. Demonstrator of Anatomy.
In 1848-9, J. Adams Allen, M.D. became Professor of Materia Medica; George W. Lees, M.D., Demonstrator of Anatomy; and Tompkins Higday, M.D., Professor of Physiology and General Pathology.
Dr. G. A. Rose was the President of the board of trustees during a large portion of the time of the existence of the school, and among the trustees were Wm. C. Hannah, Secretary, John B. Niles, Treasurer, Rev. Wm. Andrew, Daniel Meeker, Rev. F. P. Cummins and Ezekiel Morrison. Tompkins Higday was Registrar in 1848-9. The name of the insinuation was changed to the “Indiana Medical college,” and there were in 1846-7, one hundred and four students, in 1848-9, one hundred and one. The names of many of the students are familiar in Northern Indiana, and some of them have become distinguished throughout the State, and in other States
In the year 1843, the literary department of the university was organized. There was then at LaPorte, a school called Lancasterian Academy of which Rev. F. P. Cummins was principal, in which besides a thorough English course including Philosophy, the Natural Sciences, and the higher Mathematics, there were taught Latin, Greek, German and French. This institution had but a brief existence. It is worthy of note that the circulars issued for the purpose of advertising this academy, started that the board could be obtained in LaPorte for from one dollar to one dollar and fifty cents per week. When it was determined to organize the literary department of the LaPorte University, application was made to Prof. Cummins, to merge his school in it, as such a move would be likely to make it successful from the start. To this proposition he assented and in connection with Rev. Mr. Marshall, past at the time, of the Presbyterian church, he opened this department of the University. But it sees not to have met with the success which its friends anticipated and hoped; it languished, and died.
The medical school continued to flourish for some years; but there grew up other which withdrew support from it. The medical department of the Michigan University was opened, the Rush Medical college at Chicago, a similar institution at Indianapolis, and one at LaFayette; and finally the managers of the LaPorte school determined to suspend the lectures. This occurred in 1851; and the suspension proved to be a final closing up of the school. The building was afterwards occupied as a literary academy, which was conducted by Prof. Churchman, a blind man, and an excellent teacher. It was a school for girls only, and it was a flourishing institution until it was burned in the winter of 1855. The institution was never reopened, and the graded free school system having been adopted in 1856, and proving so eminently successful, there has been less need fro private schools of any kind. For several years, the only private schools of importance, besides those heretofore mentioned, have been the schools of German Lutheran church, and Catholic Sisters.
There has never been a time in the history of LaPorte when education failed to receive a large share of the attention of the leading citizens. Private schools have been at times well supported, and since the present system of graded schools come into existence, the whole people have cheerfully met the taxes necessary for the required buildings, which are expensive and valuable, for the salaries of the first-class teachers, and all the other incidental outlay.
The earliest physicians to settle in LaPorte were Doctors Dinwiddie, Timothy Everts, Daniel Meeker, and G. A. Rose, who arrived in, or prior to, 1835. They were followed by Abram Teegarden, who came in 1837, J. P. Andrew, Geo. L. Andrew, T. Higday, L. Burisie, Thos. D. Lemon, L.C. Rose and others.
The first ministers of the Gospel who came to LaPorte, will be mentioned in connection with the history of the various church denominations in another chapter.
LaPorte has always been ably represented in the professions. The pastors of the churches have generally been men of culture, and intellectual power; and many of her practitioners of law and medicine have occupied high rank in their profession, and enjoy a reputation co-extensive with, and even beyond the State.
In the year 1835, A. W. Harrison was postmaster. This was during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, but soon after the inauguration of the new administration of Martin Van Buren in March, 1837, a change was made in the post office here, Dr. Thos. D. Lemon, being appointed. He held the office continuously until the beginning of the administration of Abraham Lincoln, in 1861, when Geo. B. Roberts was appointed on the recommendation of Schuyler Colfax, then the Representative in Congress from the ninth congressional district of Indiana. He held the office until after the assassination of Mr. Lincoln made Andrew Johnson, President.
One of the most popular and useful institutions of LaPorte is the Library and Natural History association, which has been in existence since1863. It has continued to strengthen in public favor, until the present time, and its history will not be without interest now, and in the future. In 1868 the author of this work was requested by the association to prepare a sketch which should embody the history of the institution. This he afterwards read to the board, and it was placed on file as one of its permanent records. The substance of that report is herewith presented; and is as follows:
“On the fifth day of May, 1868, Wm. Niles, Esq., offered a resolution before the board of directors of the LaPorte Library and the Natural History association, which was unanimously adopted, requesting me to prepare a historical sketch of the origin, history, present condition, prospects and purposes of that association.
Various controlling events have prevented an earlier compliance with the request of the board, but now at this late day, I have the honor respectfully to submit the following facts and thoughts on the important subjects named in this resolution.
At the beginning of the year 1863, LaPorte was a city of nearly eight thousand inhabitants. As a people we claimed to be civilized, enlightened, refined and educated; and yet there was not among us a reading room of any sort, and no library except the McClure, to which but few had access; so few that it was practically without any influence on the community. A reading room, exhibiting on its tables the earnest thoughts and activities of the present in the current periodicals of the day, and a library containing he ripened wisdom of the past and the present are means of education, especially to the young, whose utility cannot be estimated.
Here was a great and pressing want unfilled, and there were a few, who, seeing and feeling the need of an institution that should, in some degree, meet the wants of the people, determined to organize a Library association, that would, at slight expense, furnish books and periodicals to all who might choose to avail themselves of its privileges.
It was believed that such an association would be influential in developing a literary taste, by cultivating a habit of reading, and that it would become a powerful educator of the people, positively, by stimulating the growth of the mind and promoting learning and scholarship, and negatively, by furnishing a pleasant and useful place of resort, to largely counteract the evils of vicious pleasures and associations; and on the 16th day of March 1863, an organization was effected by the adoption of a constitution, and the election of the following full complement of officers:
President, Wm. C. Hannah; Vice President, James Moore; Recording secretary, Wm. Niles; Corresponding Secretary, Rev. Geo. C. Noyes; Treasurer, Fred West. Directors– Wm. H.H. Whitehead, Dr. N. S. Darling, Ezekiel Morrison, Dr. L. C. Rose, Simon Wile, James Lewis, O. Wilson and Charles Paine.
The association thus organized was incorporated under the name of the “LaPorte Reading Room and Library Association.”
Negotiations were entered into with the McClure Working Men’s Institute, which finally resulted in the transfer by that association to this, of all the books and other property of the former. The terms of the contract were such as to convey to the new association all the property of the old, to be held and use by it forever, or during its existence, with revision to the McClure association in case of the dissolution of the new organization, upon the payment of the debts of the Institute amounting to fifty-five dollars, and the grant to each of its members of a membership for one year in the new association this result was highly gratifying, as it at once gave to the Library association a permanent footing, enabling it to start with seen hundred volumes, many of them standard works in history and English literature. With this handsome nucleus at the start, around which to gather other works, until the library should be founded, the attempt to build up a noble educational power in out midst, ceased to be an experiment, and became an assured success.
I pause here in the course of this sketch, to notice an even that carried sadness to heart, not only of the members of the association, but of all our people. On the 16th day of March, James Lewis had been elected as one of the board of directors, and on the fourth day of May, when the board held their regular meeting for the month, his place was vacant; death had invaded that active life, and sadly and unanimously the board passed the following preamble and resolution:
Whereas, By the death of our associate, Mr. James Lewis, this board has lost a valued member, whose worth we would commemorate in the records of this association, therefore, bit.
Resolved, That we recognized in Mr. Lewis an upright and generous citizen, ever earnest, to advance the welfare of the community in which he lived, whether at the cost of money or personal exertion.
Resolved, That we tender to Mrs. Lewis and the family of the decreased our respectful and sincere sympathy in their bereavement.
Mr. Lewis died on the 23rd day of April, 1863. He was an upright and enterprising citizen, a faithful friend, a zealous member of the association, and a devoted Christian.
On the 11th day of May, the board of directors submitted their first report to the association. In it they speak very encouragingly of the condition and prospects of the work before them, and although they find some difficulties and discouragements in the way, yet they say, and very truly, that “these difficulties ought to weight as nothing in comparison with the great need and importance to the whole community of an undertaking like the one upon which we are glad to believe, we have now successfully entered.”
At the meeting of the association on the 11th day of May, it was necessary, according to the constitution, to elect officers fro the ensuing year. The election resulted as follows:
President, Wm. C. Hannah; Vice President, James Moore; Recording Secretary, Wm. Niles; Treasurer, Fred West; Corresponding Secretary, Rev. G. C. Noyes.
Directors.– Andrew L. Osborn, Charles Paine, Ezekiel Morrison, Jacob Zook, W.H.H. Whitehead, O. Wilson, and Landon C. Rose.
The association seemed not fairly equipped for a race of usefulness; but its early promise was doomed to undergo a blighting check. The meeting on the 11th day of May adjourned with a prospect of vigorous growth before the young foundling. The members much have been too sanguine, and reposed too much confidence in the powers of the child, for they left it to run alone until the 26the day of October, 1863, to the 6th day of December 1864. This seems to have been the “dark age” of our association’s history. It was even darker than the night of the middle ages, for then the monks in their gloomy cells did not permit learning quite to perish from the earth, and history penetrates the gloom of that cavernous night; but over those forgotten months of our society’s life, whose record is forever lost, an impenetrable shadow has fallen, and nothing but the fiat of Omnipotent Power proclaiming “Let there be Light,” could disperse the gloom. It must have seemed to the friends of the association that its light had gone out forever. But the usefulness of such an institution had become know; and although the old officers and board of directors would seem to have been somewhat discouraged, they determined not to stand in the way of any others ho might be willing to try to give new vitality to the association. On the 6th day of December 1864, the officers and members of the board, each and all resigned, and others were elected to fill the vacancies so created; and the organization commenced its new existence with the following officers:
President, L. Crane; Vice President, C. G. Powell; Treasurer, Wm. M. Scott; Corresponding Secretary, Rev. J. P. Ash; Recording Secretary, T. L. Adams.
Directors.– Dr. Geo. M. Dakin, H. B. Weir, Dr. W. L. McKahan, John M. Hood, Rev. J. H. Lee, Mr. Baker and A. J. Redding.
As an indication of the vigorous manner in which the new board commenced their work it is worthy of note that at the this meeting a committee of one was appointed to “prepare the Reading Room for occupancy by to-morrow.” The work was done, and meetings have been held regularly at the Society’s room from that time to the present.
On the 6th day of November, 1865, the first movement was made towards renting the pleasant rooms now occupied by us; and on the 20th of the same month they were occupied and have given the association a home, and our people a useful and attractive place of resort for more than three years. At the meeting of November 20th, 1865, it was, with characteristic energy, resolved to “pledge ourselves as individuals to see the work carried through.” This feeling has ever since actuated the directors, and the consequence has been the continued growth and prosperity of the association. Since the year 1864, a leading feature of the Society has been a course of lectures each winter. These have been given by the leading men of the country, authors, poets, statesmen and divines. The lectures have embraced a wide variety of subjects, travels, history, national affairs, social reforms, the woman question, in fact almost every subject that engages the American mind at the present day.
These lectures , while not highly remunerative to the Society, have bee an agreeable means of instruction for the people, most of them having been of a high order of merit, and worthy to have been heard by far more than availed themselves of the privilege.
The growth of the library has been constant if not rapid. Handsome donations of book have been received from Morgan H. Weir, Benj. F. Taylor, L. Crane, and others, and in each of the last four years there have been additions by purchase, of from two to three hundred volumes.
On the sixth day of April,1868, a movement was commenced for the collection of a cabinet under the superintendence of Dr. T. Higday; and on the fifth day of May last the following preamble and resolution presented by Wm. Niles, Esq., were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, It is proposed to form a collection of specimens in illustration of the natural sciences, and those interested in the matter desire to place the collection in the rooms of the associations, if the donation will be accepted.
Resolved, that the association will accept such donations if made, and will preserve the collection, and increase it from time to time so far as can be done consistently with it leading objections.
For their cheerful co-operative in this feature especially, of our association, both by liberal donations, and by labor in arranging the specimens in the cases, too much praise cannot be awarded to Drs. T. Higday, Geo. L Andrew, Henry, Holloway, H. B. Wilcox, and Messrs. Fred K. West, Samuel J Fosdick and E. G. McCollum.
Thus, from a beginning attended by the doubts and fears, and through a history checkered by sunshine and cloud, we reached the society’s present condition. At no previous hour has the prospect been fairer than now five lectures of a course of six have left us nearly forty dollars ahead, and this is a season when the lectures nearly everywhere have failed to pay. Our cabinet, in illustration of the natural science, is neatly and tastefully fitted up, and though not large, is well worthy the attention of the curious. The reading room, furnished with all the leading magazines of the day, draws to the rooms daily large number of busy readers, and every night the rooms are crowded with the young of both sexes, quietly and studiously securing information that will be a practical benefit during their lives. The library numbers probably over two thousand and volumes, consisting of many of the choicest works of the English language; history, biography, poetry, travels, science, light literature, philosophy, belles letters, and every variety of reading to please every variety of taste. We have lived down the stale calumny that we are a political institution, and all classes of our people, without regard to party, sect or creed, have a warm side for the LaPorte Library and Natural History Association. Out prospects may be best told by our past history and present conditions. We cannot doubt that our darkest days are over. The outlook before us is brighter and smoother than the backward look over the past. I look down the future, and see a long career of usefulness. I see our library expanding until these rooms grow narrow. The rich burden of thought here collected invites all our people to come and drink at the Pierean fount, not in a little stinted sippings, but in vigorous droughts, that cheer the soul, enlarge the mind, and develop manhood. These thoughts are not fanciful, they are the grand possibilities of the future, and will be the gift of a generous now to the swift approaching then.
The purposes of this association may be summed up in one work— improvement. The improvement and development of man, as an individual, and as a member of the community. Our purpose is to educate, to develop thought, to enlarge and strengthen the mental powers, to purify the heart, to furnish rational and wholesome amusement to make every man a better and stronger man, and every woman a better and more cultivated woman, to develop in the young a taste for reading, and make them acquainted with the great thoughts of the great authors who have honored the English tongue.
One of the most striking characteristics of our civilization, one which has worked deepest, and is destined to have the most lasting impression, is the general diffusion of knowledge. We are preeminently a reading people, and the privilege is not confined to a few. All participate. The morning paper follows man of business to the breakfast table. The last monthly throngs the rail car and steamboat. The latest novel enters the parlor of the opulent, and wrings the tears from eyes that never wept before; while every avenue of life is penetrated by he ubiquitous newspaper. News– north, east, west, south, the tidings are borne. Over hill and valley speed the messengers of the press. The palace of the rich, and the log hut of the pioneer, are alike objects of their visitation. Histories are multiplied. The dramatic touches of Macaulay, and of Bancroft, Prescott and Motley, give to historic composition and all charm of works of the imagination. All must read, young and old, male and female, man of leisure and man of business. There is no escape; the would is busy; it moves, so must man– every man– or he is left behind in a moment. It is our purpose to supply, as far as possible, this popular demand.
A celebrated English divine and philosopher lays down five eminent means whereby the mind is improved in the knowledge of things. These are observation, reading, instruction by lectures, conversation and meditation.
the first of these methods of improvement our association furnishes, to limit extent, by our cabinet of specimens illustrative of the natural sciences. Our library and reading room supplies the second, and the third is reached through our annual course of lectures.
These are our objects– to supply three of the enlarging, informing and strengthening the mind. With some degree of pride we point to the past; and we look forward hopefully to enlarged usefulness in the time to come.
Since the date of the above sketch which was written in February, 1869, the Library and Natural History association has continued to prosper. When Dr. Samuel B. Collins completed his marble front building on Michigan avenue, he generously offered to fit up the third study of the new building, and donate to the Library association the free use of it for five years. The offer was accepted, and soon afterwards, the removal was effected, and these fine rooms, are still occupied, the five years lease not having yet expired.
Early in 1874, a movement was made to secure a permanent home for the Library. Gen. Joseph Orr, proposed to the Library board and citizens, that if they would raise the sum of $6,000 he would purchase and donate the association the building known as the old Presbyterian church, the lot, and the half-lot adjoining on the north, amounting to $4,000. Immediately active measures were begun for the raising of $6,000 by voluntary subscriptions, and these were finally successful. The money was subscribed, one-half of it paid in, and the property was conveyed to the association when an unfortunate disagreement occurring between Gen. Orr, and the future board of directors of the Library association, in regard to the future arrangement of the building, and the manner in which the accumulated fund should be expended, the movement was abandoned, and the property was re conveyed to Gen. Orr. Most of the money that had been paid in was suffered to remain in the treasury of the Library association, and many resubscribed the amount still unpaid, the whole forming a large fund which is held by the board, and is now at interest, ready for use when an opportunity offers for the purchase of property that shall make a desirable and comfortable home for the library. It is much to the credit of the citizens of the LaPorte that an institution of this kind has received such constant and liberal support.
In the year 1852, the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana railroad was completed to LaPorte, and was extended rapidly to Chicago. Prior to this in 1839, the Buffalo and Mississippi railroad was projected, much grading was done upon it through the county, and the board of county commissioners, in obedience to the petition of citizens subscribed for stock to the amount of $100,000. Only here and there a cut or an embankment remains to tell of the broken hopes of the people.
In 1856, the Cincinnati, Louisville and Chicago railroad, now the Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago, was built between LaPorte and Plymouth. The gaps between Plymouth and Rochester, and Rochester and Peru were afterwards filled, thus giving LaPorte direct communication southward, as she already had to the east and west. In 1871, that part of the road between LaPorte and Michigan City was complete, and thus LaPorte is situated on the leading line of railroad between the East and Chicago, and the principal line in Indiana from the lake to the south.
The rich farming country surround LaPorte has been the chief cause of its growth, though its manufactures, always an element of prosperity, have been by no means insignificant. The machine shops of Michigan Southern railroad were located here immediately upon the completion of the road, and continued here until 1870, when the machinery was removed to Elkhart. The buildings are now occupied by the LaPorte Care factory. There have been several foundries, and establishments for the manufacture of machinery and agricultural implements of various kinds. The principal ones are now those of the Rumelys, who manufacture separators and steam engines; James N. Brooks, who makes grist mill machinery and engines, and that of John W. Ridgway, which was burned a few months since and is now being rebuilt. There have been two paper mills in LaPorte, one of which failed and the other was burned and never rebuilt. The building of the former is now occupied by the LaPorte Wheel factory, which is prospering. The bedstead factory of Mr. Fred Meissner has for many years been successful, and the chair factory under the management of Washington Wilson is doing a prosperous business. There are two woolen factories, each of them doing good work, three flouring mills and numerous wagon and blacksmith shops, which altogether give employment to a large number of hands. Within a few years past, a heavy trade has arisen in the ice that is taken from the lakes in the winter. The houses for its storage dot the borders of the lakes in every direction. It is chiefly taken from Stone, Clear and Fish Trap lakes. There is a Chicago firm engaged in the business, M. Thompson & Co.; a Louisville company; John Hilt & Co., of LaPorte, and others of this city. Many thousands of tons are taken off each winter, and it is shipped extensively to Chicago, and the South. This is a flourishing business, and gives employment to many laboring people in winter when work is often especially needed, and difficult to obtain.
There are fifteen church edifices in LaPorte, Methodist, German Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, three Lutheran, two German and one Swedish Swedenborgian, Christian, two Catholic , Friends’ meeting house, Jewish Synagogue, and Colored. The church first built in LaPorte was by the Methodists in 1837. The edifice now occupied by the Disciples, and known as Christian church was built by the Presbyterians in 1842. The Episcopalians erected their house of worship in 1845. It has been remodeled and much enlarged since that time. The latest church building erected was that of the Presbyterians on Michigan avenue, which was completed in 1871
The original surgery of LaPorte has received may additions, the most important one, and the largest, being that of Cap. A. P. Andrew, Jr., on the south side of the city. The area of LaPorte contains now not less than eight hundred acres, and a population numbering about eight thousand. In 1835, there were but fifteen houses within the present limits of the corporation. A city government was adopted in 1853 and William J. Walker was the first mayor, who was elected to the office, and qualified on the fifth day of August 1853. His successors to 1861, were William Millikan, 1855; Fred’k McCollum, 1857; Wm. H. H. Whitehead, 1859; Daniel Noyes, 1861. Dr. L. C. Rose was elected in 1871, and served two terms, and Mortimer Nye was elected in 1873, and again in 1875. The city is divided into five wards, each represented in the city government by two councilmen. There are in the city more than one hundred business houses, gas works, Holly water works, a variety of manufacturing establishments as already mentioned, machine shops and foundries, tanneries, six hotels, numerous boarding houses, many secret and benevolent associations, and many elegant residences, with well kept and tasteful grounds surrounding them. Taken altogether, LaPorte is unquestionably the handsomest city in Northern Indiana, if not in the state. Its wide and well shaded streets, its long rows of dark green maples, it groves and lakes and charming drives present attractions which are seldom equaled.
LaPorte has had a steady but not rapid growth; and all its business has been on a stable basis. Panics and stringency in the money market affect her business interests comparatively little. Her banks, of which there are five including the Savings bank, are safely conducted, and when two years ago the great financial crash came upon the country no merchant or banker in LaPorte was touched. All weathered the storm easily and safely. Beautiful for situation, safe in her business interests, and enjoying superior educational advantages, LaPorte is a most desirable place for a residence, combining the health of the country with the privileges of the city.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 - Transcribed for La Porte Co. Gen Web by Christine Scott 27 February 2006.
From the date of the organization of the county until March 9th, 1836, Clinton township was a part of New Durham; but on that date, at their March term, the following order was made by the Board of county commissioners: "Ordered that New Durham township by divided by the line dividing congressional townships thirty-five and thirty-six, north of range four west, and that all that part of said township formerly comprising congressional township thirty-five, north of range four west form a new township for judicial purposes, to be known by the name of Clinton township, and that there be an election held in this township on the first Monday of April next, for the purpose of electing two justices of the peace for said township, until the next annual election for township officers, and that the election for said township be held at Charles Eaton's shop."
There has been no change in the limits of the township since that time. The south side of Clinton was then the boundary of the county, but it has since extended to the Kankakee river by act of the legislature, and two more townships have been organized.
In its physical characteristics, Clinton township shows much diversity. The larger portion of its area is prairie, but there are groves of timber, and on the south and east are sandy "barrens" producing fine crops of grain. Taken altogether, it is regarded as one of the most desirable parts of the county, of great productive capacity and convenient to market, three railroads, the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago, Chicago and Lake Huron, and Baltimore and Ohio, passing across it, the first from north to south, and the other two from east to west.
Of the early settlers Isham Campbell is said to have been the first. He made his home on the west side of Hog Creek in the year 1832, and in the Fall of the same year Andrew and Edmund Richardson made a settlement, taking land on section nine.
In 1833, Nathaniel Steel, R. Prather, Levi Reynolds, John Osborn, Wm. Niles, Lemuel Maulsby, Richard Williams, Thomas Robinson, and Stephen Jones, a Methodist minister, came into the township and became residents. John Warnnock located his claim this year on section four, but did not move on it, on account of sickness in his family, until the ensuing spring.
In 1834, the list of settlers was quite large and embrace John Reynolds, T.J.S. Hixon, Simeon Tuley, John Small, Matilda Tuley, James Haskell, Jonathon Osborn, John Warnock, Phineas Small, John and Charles Eaton, Hezekiah Robertson, Daniel Robertson, Wm. Eaton, Jacob Iseminger, Wm. Wilson, John Small, James Reeves, Samuel Maulsby, Walter Livingston, L. Richardson, John Clark,John Lewis, Jesse Marshall, John Wilman, Orange Lemon and Benj. J.Bryant.
William WIlson who came this year, located Indian floats on section nine and ten. These floats were in the nature of land warrants, save that they contained no provision for the protection of actual settlers. They were issued to half-breed Indians, but being made assignable, found their way for the most part, into the hands of speculators. Mr. Wilson honorably paid the settlers on the two sections for all the improvements they had made.
For the year 1835, we have the following record of settlers to present: Wm. T. Harding, Joseph Wright, Thomas Patterson, Richard Williams, Perrin Scarborough, Jonathon Williams, Herbert Williams, Horace Pinney, Sen., Horace Pinney, Jr., Wm. Pinney, David Pinney, Adijah Bigelow, David Congdon, Benjamin Maulsby, Luke Ashley, Mr. Heaton, Dr. Philander Loomis, John Bailey, Mr. Heat (deaf and dumb), and Dr. Whitcomb, who is said to have been the first resident physician.
Mr. Doolittle and Mr. Johnson were early settlers, coming probably in 1834 or 35.
In 1837, Christian Richardson, Lemuel Brush, Richard Robertson, Sen., John Koontz, Gideon Long and Adam Iseminger, settled in Clinton;j Wm. Snavely came in 1839, and in 1840 John Robinson, Isaac Powerll and Dr. Bement arrived. The year 1838 is somewhat memorable as the 'sickly season.' Bilious complaints were prevelant, and very few escaped. There were not enough remaining well, properly to care for the sick. E.S. Gardner moved into the township in this year.
In 1843, Nathaniel Davis, a Congressional minister, and well known as an ardent advocate of temperance, and an original Abolitionist, made the township his home. Dr. Cobb also arrived the same year.
A log church was built on section ten, in 1844, which afterwards caught fire and burned down. It was built by the Methodists and was called Hickory Chapel. Wiley B. Mack was the first minister who officiated within its walls. He was succeeded by Rev Mr. Oakes. Rev. R. Hargrave was also one of the earliest preachers here. This Hickory Log Chapel was succeeded by the present Clinton chapel, which was built in 1860.
The culture of mulberry trees and the raising of silk worms at one time engaged considerable attention in the township. The following will be found in book C, of the proceedings of the commissioner's court, page twenty-six:
"It is ordered by the board that Potter Doolittle be allowed the sum of two dollars and twenty-five cents as a bounty on fifteen pounds of silk cocoons, as per the certificate of Wm. Moorman, a justice of the peace of LaPorte county." Potter Doolittle was a resident of Clinton, and the foregoing order was made in September, A.D. 1846.
In the year 1854, A. Culver purchased two hundred and forty acres of land in section twenty, in Clinton township. It being favorably located on the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago railroad, he conceived the idea of laying out a town in case a sufficient number of persons were attracted to the locality to warrant it. He did not commence as many have done by having it platted and filed in the recorder's office before any evidence of a village was visible, and afterwards subject himself to the mortification of leaving upon the county records an enduring monument of a vanished air castle. From its location it seemed to be a good point for a store, and he gave to Samuel Brush an acre upon condition that he would open one. This Mr. Brush did in the year 1855, and he continued in the mercantile business at that place until 1863, when he died. John Ferris bought out the estate, both real and personal, of the administrator, continued the business until 1867, and sold to Wm. D. Brothers. It soon after passed into the hands of Mr. Sopris and from him to Thomas L. Hoadley, who discontinued the business in 1870.
In the year 1857, a post office was established at the station, and Samuel Brush was appointed postmaster. The present postmaster is Thomas L.. Hoadley.
In 1858, David Carpenter commenced blacksmithing.
In 1861, a warehouse was built by Samuel Brush, and considerable grain was shipped from this point, but the construction of east and west roads has diverted the grain trade in a great measure from the south. In 1871 this warehouse was struck by lightning and burned. Haskell never ranked as a town. No plat of it was ever recorded. It is only a hamlet - having had a store, blacksmith shop, grain depot, post office, and being a railroad station.
Abijah Bigelow moved into Clinton township in the year 1835, and soon after proceeded to put up a grist mill, which he completed in 1837. He brought a small colony with him who were mostly Canadians.
In the year 1836, Wm. T. Harding opened the first store in that place. After he had fairly commenced he took as a partner, a man named Bogart, and while Harding was attending to his farm Bogart sold the concern to one Bentley. A litigation ensued which resulted in Bogart's being sent to jail and Bentley's getting away with the goods.
During the year 1837, the town was recorded in the informal manner so common in those times. It embraced twenty-eight blocks, described as being in township thirty-five, range four west, in the southwest quarter of section twenty-one.
In 1837, a Frenchman who was known by the name of "Bushee" started a blacksmith shop. During the same year Arnold Sapp had a cabinet and jobbing shop, and in 1838, a post office was established and Wm. T. Harding had the contract for carrying the mail.
In the year 1848, the people became tired of their own organization, and among the records of the September term of the county commissioner's court of that year, we find the following:
"Now comes Hubert Williams and motions that his petition heretofore filed, to-wit: On the 21st day of July, A.D., 1848, for the vacation of the town of Bigelow's Mills be now taken up. Whereupon the board, upon due consideration, being satisfied from the affidavit of said Hubert Williams, that manuscript notices of the pending of said petition had been set up in three of the most public places in said town, thirty days previous to the present session of this board, containing a description of the property to be vacated, do order the said town to be vacated."
John Closser started a store at Bigelow's Mills in 1848, and afterwards sold out to Soper & Metcalf. They did business for a time, and then sold to Henry Brush. Samuel Hammond bought out Brush in 1861. Perrin Scarborough started a wagon shop in this year; in 1852, Frank Howell started a blacksmith shop near where Frank Knight's house now stands, and in 1854, Mr. Gordon had a gunsmith shop to which he added a stock of goods the ensuing year.
The Bigelow mill having been sold to John Closser, and by him to John Wright, passed into the hands of Henry Harding in 1854. He built a store also, and had a general assortment of goods. Mr. H. continued the business until 1874 when he died, and John Warnock, as administrator of the estate, sold the property to Abram Sovereign, who disposed of it to Mr. Boler.
In 1864, J. Jacobson carried on the business of harness making.
The post office at Bigelow was discontinued in the year 1868.
The following incident occurred in the year 1835. Wm. T. Harding and A.G. Webster of Noble township, were brothers-in-law, and put in crops together, some corn on Webster's claim, and buckwheat on that of Harding. After the corn came up the ground squirrels commenced digging it, and some arsenic was obtained to destroy them. A part of it was used and the remainder was laid away in Webster's clock. During the following summer, Harding procured some calomel and after having used a part of it, put the remainder away in the same place where the arsenic had been stored. After this, Harding returned to Ohio, from whence he had migrated, for his family, consisting of his wife, two sons and three daughters, and returned with them in the latter part of September. The first day after his arrival, he went to Webster's house, who, with his wife, were absent visiting the newly arrived family. Harding's oldest daughter being unwell, he went to the same clock to procure the calomel to administer it to her. Going to his own home with it, he related to Mrs. Webster what he had done. After Mr. Mrs Webster had returned, the former went to the clock to wind it as he had usually done, and missing the arsenic, and being informed by his wife what had become of it, ran all the way to Harding's, hoping to arrive before any of it had been taken. He was too late. Fifteen minutes before he came, the oldest daughter had taken a dose, and Harding had also done the same a moment before his arrival. Lamp oil, being the only article at hand to serve as an emetic, was administered. The father was saved, but the daughter died before morning. This was the first death that occurred in the township.
At an early date in the settlement of Clinton, a hog dealer passed through the township, and in doing so, lost a number of his drove. They ran wild and multiplied. There were very few enclosures, and the early settlers allowed their swine to run at large also, each preferring to have his own private mark upon his stock, and each desiring to have his share of the wild ones which were running about promiscuously. An old settler states that it was wonderful how soon a porker could be dressed and packed away by the residents on the creek after it was shot. They had a habit of first cutting off the ears, or of even skinning the animal when dead to avoid identification, and the crack of a rifle had scarcely ceased to echo over the prairie before this was all accomplished. Finally, an immense amount of litigation was the consequence, and one of the settlers expended all his means, involving one hundred and sixty acres of land, his stock, house and home, in lawsuits growing out of the uncertain proprietorship in swine. This circumstance probably gave name to the creek which flows through the township.
On the 27 day of November, 1865, James Woods shot and killed John Lohm, a German resident, in the west part of the township in the Osborn and Small neighborhood. Woods and Wm. Fulton had been drinking, and had just returned from Westville in a state bordering upon intoxication. When in the neighborhood we have described, they encountered a party of Germans who had been husking corn and were returning with loaded wagons. Woods ordered them to halt, to which no attention was paid. Fulton then said to him: "Why don't you shoot." Woods then drew a revolver and discharged it, the ball passing by those who were on the first wagon, and took effect in the body of John Lohm, inflicting a mortal wound from the effects of which he died in a short time. The men were said to be strangers to each other, and had no previous difficulty. Both Woods and Fulton were indicted at the April term of the circuit court, 1866, and were tried in April, 1867. Woods was convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to the penitentiary during the term of this natural life, and Fulton of manslaughter, and sentenced for thirteen years.
On the 14th day of March, 1869, Nicholas Aker, a boy fourteen years and eight months old, was playing with a gun with two younger brothers, when taking it up to blow into the muzzle it accidentally went off, killing him instantly. On the 7th day of Nov., 1874, August Kopelski, a boy fourteen years and eight months old, who resided with his father, Frank Kopelsi, a resident of Bigelow, was out duck hunting. In walking along he held the muzzle of his gun under his arm. Striking the lock accidentally, the cap exploded and the contents of the gun nearly tore the arm from his body. He died in less than an hour afterward.
In the two cases above narrated of death from the use of fire arms, both boys were nearly of an age at the time the accidents in the cases occurred, the difference being but one day.
On the 6th day of November, 1874, Frank Knight, a young man who resided at Bigelow, met with an accident at Mansfield, Ohio, which cost him his life. He was employed on the Pittsburgh and Ft. Wayne railroad, and while engaged in uncoupling cars, fell between them. One car passed over a leg cutting it off. He lived only three hours and a half after the accident occurred. He was a very promising young man, and his death was much deplored by a large circle of friends. His age at the time of his death was twenty years, ten months and twenty-seven days.
Among those who have recently lived in Clinton township or who now live there, and who came early to LaPorte county, are Wm. Steele, a native of the county, born in 1830; Thomas Garwood, born in the county in 1833; Wm. Snavely, who came to the county in 1833, emigrating from Virginia; R.R. Richardson who came from Washington county, Indiana, in 1833; Charles G. & Thomas L. Eaton, Benjamin V. Fogle and Jacob Iseminger, in 1835; Wheeler Bentley,and E.C. Reynolds a native of the county, in 1846; Wm. Pinney and Amenzo Mann in 1837; W.H. Beahm, a native of the county, 1839; and C.R. Burch, born in the county in 1840. These are, nearly all of them, successful farmers, agriculture being the chief industry of the township. The township is well settled with an industrious, intelligent and thriving people. The interests of education have not been neglected; there is a school house for each neighborhood, and the children of the pioneers' children enjoy advantages of schools and churches, and social and neighborhood intercourse, of which the early settlers were in a large measure deprived; but which they fully appreciated, and took measures to secure for those who should come after them.
Transcriber's Note: March, 2006: The History of Townships, Cities & Towns contained in the county history section of La Porte County Gen Web is based on Jasper Packard's 1876 History of La Porte County, Indiana. Those chapters, however, have been summarized by volunteers.
The territory embraced in Coolspring Township, was a part of the original township of New Durham. By the subsequent division it became a part of Michigan township, remaining thus until the 9th day of March, 1836, when the following order was made by the Board of county commissioners:
“Ordered that Michigan township be divided by the line between towns thirty-seven and thirty-eight, range four west, and that part of Michigan township comprising town thirty-seven, range four west, form a judicial township to be known by the name of Coolspring township, and that there be an election held in said township on the first Monday of April next for the purpose of electing two justices of the peace for said township, and that Nathan Johnson is appointed inspector of elections for said township, and that the elections for said township be held at the house of Nathan Johnson.”
It has been very difficult to ascertain who was actually the first settler of Coolspring Township, or precisely in what year he came as many differ in the matter. Some state Nathan Johnson was the first settler and others say it was a man by the name of John or Isaac Luther, and still others say Arba Heald was the first settler. Most likely they all settled in the year 1833 going to different sections of the township, the parts of which were not readily accessible in early times, and therefore, each area believes its own first settler was first of all. Arba Heald, an early settler of Scipio Township came to the southwest part of Coolspring and erected a saw mill not far from Beatty’s Corners. Nathan Johnson made his improvements at Waterford, which it is said that he laid out as a village and Luther settled nearer the central part of the township. Whoever was first has not definitely been determined, but it is definite there were very few inhabitants prior to 1836. In 1836 there were Maj. Eliphalet Pattee, Thomas Forrester, John Jacobus, Thomas Sharp, George Smith, George Bentley, John F. Decker, Abram Langdon, Nathan Johnson, Arba Heald, John Van Meter, John Dysard, John Beatty, Purdy Smith, the Whitakers, Daniel Reed, John Glime and Ebenezer Palmer.
Palmer was the first justice of the peace. Beatty engaged in the Black Hawk war, passed through the county on his way to Chicago in 1832 and settled in the township in 1833. Arba Heald preceded Beatty, and with Daniel Reed erected the first saw mill in the southwest part of the township in 1833. John Dysard came in 1835 and is a farmer, stock raiser and successful fruit culturist. George Bentley, father of Ambrose Bentley, who still resides on the homestead, and of Dr. G. J. Bentley of Michigan City, ran a sawmill for General Joseph Orr. Elisha Mayhew owned an interest with Orr in the mill and afterwards Orr and Standiford owned it. They also put up a wool carding machine. The mill was built in 1833, a few months after Heald built his. This mill later passed into the hands of Samuel Weston who built a grist mill on the site and is now owned and run by James Mason and his father. Nathan Johnson built a saw mill at Waterford, which some say is the first in the township, and in 1836 he built another. Gen. Orr thinks the first saw mill in the township was built at Waterford by Walker & Johnson. A Mr. Bowen bought this property and put up a distillery and later a grist mill was erected and ran in conjunction with the distillery. The grist mill continued to run until about 1870, when it burned. Casper Kuhn bought the site, erected another mill and has run it successfully ever since. Asa Harper made improvements in the township in 1835, but was living in Michigan City at the time and did not move to the township until several years later. John F. Decker lived at or near Waterford, and died in 1844. He was the father of John F. Decker of La Porte.
Around 1836 Mr. Bowen opened the first store in the township at Waterford. It was closed by his creditors in about six weeks. There have been several stores in Waterford, but they all closed. A post office was opened at Waterford in 1838 with the postmaster by the name of Sears. It later moved to a hotel about a mile south of Waterford and was discontinued in 1865.
There was a great amount of timber in Coolspring Township and many other sawmills were built including one by John Beatty and Purdy Smith in 1833 or 1834 in the southwest part of the township. In 1836 Aaron Stanton built a flouring mill which his son, Alfred purchased and managed from 1838 to 1842 when he sold it and went to Oregon. Both Orr’s and Stanton’s mills were on Spring creek, a branch of Trail Creek. The mill which Nathan Johnson built later now belongs to the Timm brothers.
The first school opened in 1835 or 1836 and Ebenezer Palmer is supposed to have been the first teacher. Rachel Jacobus was also an early teacher as was Maria Sharp. In 1837 or 1838 Wm. C. Talcott taught at a school near Waterford. He was a Universalist preacher and was probably the first to preach in the township. The Methodists and Presbyterians held services in school houses until about 1855 when a church was built by the Presbyterians near Waterford. It was really a union church being occupied by various denominations and is the only church edifice in the township. There are presently five good schools in the township.
The villages of the township are Waterford and Beatty’s Corners, but little business has ever been done at either place, with the most important enterprise being the flouring mill at Waterford. Beatty’s Corners was laid out as a town, dividing two acres into lots, in 1842 by James Whitten. Only one lot was ever sold and the entire town site was purchased by George Selkirk. Prior to his purchase a Mr. Collins opened a blacksmith shop and a Dr. Bosley worked at wagon making. A hotel was built and kept by Enoch Brewer for about two years and then for awhile by A. B. Wolf. It has long since been closed.
When the township was first settled, it was one of the wildest parts of the county. There was an abundance of game consisting of deer, turkey and even wild bears, that latter of which sometimes carried of pigs and hogs at night. The Indians were still in the county and came freely to the huts of the settlers, but never molested them in any way, either in person or property. One time while out hunting, John Beatty almost mistook an Indian for a deer. The Indian identified himself in time, thus preventing arousing the hostility of the Indians and placing in peril the lives of the settlers.
Coolspring Township is well watered by small creeks in nearly every part affording many good mill privileges. Good timber has been abundant even though large quantities have been cut off. The entire township is timbered with no prairie land. The timber consists of oak, ash, maple, walnut, popular, beech, hickory and other varieties. There is great deal of good land in the township and most of the soil can be made to produce very good crops of corn, wheat and potatoes and for fruit it cannot be surpassed in the county.
In 1836 an accident occurred, resulting in the death of ten year old Amos Smith, son of Purdy Smith. He was bringing water to the men who were chopping trees in the forest when a falling tree struck another and as it sprang back, fell and killed the lad instantly.
Among those who now live in the township and who came early to the county are: Hiram and N. W. Blackman, farmers and the latter a cooper; A. L. Booth, a farmer; Richard Cross and Amos Thorpe, farmers and cider makers; Reuben Chapin, fruit grower and farmer; John Dysard, a farmer and stock raiser; Wm Forester, farmer and grain buyer; Elder L. Fogle, Christian preacher and farmer; Robert Curran and C. G. Dalgren, farmers; Asa Harper, Augustus C. and M. J. Hubner, Wm. Loumbard, S. C. Perry, and John Zahrn, farmers and stock raisers; Joseph Eddy, tailor and farmer; John Ebert, mason and contractor; A. B. Hunt, farmer; D. L. Jackson, farmer and cooper; Casper Kuhn, proprietor of Waterford flouring mill; Daniel Low, farmer and fruit grower and many years township trustee; Z. W. Palmer, farmer and speculator; A. B. Wolf, farmer and carpenter; Dennis Purvis, G. R. Selkirk, G. W. Van Dusen, Wm Sohn and John Windland, farmers; B. N. Shreve, township trustee and lumberman; Eli Smith, farmer and cooper; and Jacob H. White, physician and surgeon, residing in Waterford, the first and only resident physician in the township.
The township has quite a large population. It is even more thickly settled than some portions of the prairie, for the farms are not so large and neighbors are brought more closely together. The New Albany and Chicago railroad passes across the west side of the township; the Michigan Central cuts the northwest corner; and the Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago, the northeast corner, but there is no railroad station within the limits of the township. Otis furnishes the market for the southwest part, La Porte for the southeast, and Michigan City for all the north side. With markets all around, with a soil reasonably productive, excellent for fruit, and abundance of choice timber, the inhabitants of this township may expect continued prosperity.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. La Porte, 1876 by Patricia Gruse Harris, 1 March 2006
The territory of this township was a part of that which formerly belonged to Stark County. It was then in Van Buren township, and when Cass township was organized, was a part of that township, and so remained until Jun 8, 1860, when the Board of county commissioners directed its organization into a new township. The following is the record, made at the June term, 1860:
"In the matter of the Erection of Dewey Township. And now comes Patrick Hencheon, and files the petition of himself and others, citizens of this county and residents of congressional township thirty-three, north of range four west, praying that so much of Cass township in said county as lies south of the north lines of said congressional township, be set off from said Cass township, and erected and organized into a separate township for civil purposes, and it appearing to this Board of commissioners that the convenience of the inhabitants residing in said part of said township, requires that the same be so set apart, and erected into a township for civil purposes, do hereby set the same off and detach it from the said township of Cass, and do hereby erect and organize the same into a township for civil purposes by the name and style of Dewey township of LaPorte County, with the following boundaries, to-wit: Beginning at the northeast corner of said congressional township number thirty-three, and running thence westward along the north line of said township to the west line of LaPorte county, thence southwardly along the west line of the county to the south line of the county, thence eastwardly along the south line of the county to the east line of said congressional township to the place of beginning, and that the same now is and henceforth shall be a body politic and corporate by the name and style aforesaid, and all elections held in said township shall be held at the school house on section three in said township, and whereas the office of township trustee for the township of Dewey in this county, is now vacant, it is hereby ordered that Patrick Huncheon be and is hereby appointed trustee for said township, to hold said office until the next annual township election required to give bond and security to the acceptance of the auditor, pursuant to the statute in such case made and provided, and it is also further ordered that upon demand after the execution of said bond, the trustee of Cass township, and all other officers who now have or into whose hands shall come any funds arising or accruing from school lands in said township, or any monies arising from assessments fro road purposes upon lands in said township of Dewey, or any other funds properly belonging to said township, for school, road or other township purposes, shall pay the same and every part thereof to the said trustee of Dewey township."
Thus Dewey township embraces all of township thirty-three, range four west, lying north of the Kankakee River, and part of three sections of town thirty-two, in the same range, being bounded on the south by the river, on the west by Porter county, on the north by Cass township, and on the east by Hanna township.
Two railroads cross the township. The Louisville, New Albany and Chicago crosses it from north to south, and the Chicago and Great Eastern, or Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis, enters the township near the southeastern corner and curves through it so as to pass out not far from the center of the west side. The railroads cross each other in the northeast corner of section seventeen; and here there is a station, a freight depot, telegraph office, etc., and a few business houses.
A large part of this township is Kankakee marsh, and was formerly, at every rise in the river, inundated as far north as LaCrosse where the railroad crossing is; but hundreds of acres of these wet lands have been redeemed by drainage, and each year from natural as well as artificial causes, the reclamation is going on, and once cultivation, the land will prove exceedingly fertile. At present there are thousands of acres of good mowing land, which alone renders it valuable, owing to increasing demand for hay.
The township is settled chiefly by Germans, George P. Schimmel is probably the first one who made a settlement. He arrived on the first day of January, 1854, though Jacob Schauer came about the same time, and possible was foremost. Lewis and Michael Besler were among the first settlers in the township. Patrick and Richard Huncheon have been in the township seventeen years and is a farmer and heavy stock dealer. Elias Osborn, also an early settler, is a farmer and stock dealer. He resides about half a mile west of LaCrosse, and has been postmaster since 1868, when the postoffice was established. In the same year the depot was removed from old to new LaCrosse. The Great Eastern railroad was finished fifteen years ago, and in 1862, a German Catholic church was built. Philip Schimmel opened a store in 1874. The first school house was built on Hog Island eighteen years ago, and the first teacher was a Miss White. Patrick Huncheon was the first trustee, and holds that office at present. James Lougee has been trustee during several of the intervening years, one or the other of them having held that position ever since the township was organized.
A large part of the land in Dewey township is held by non-residents, which will probably result in retarding settlement, and thus prove an injury to the township. With the reclamation of the marsh lands this township will become exceedingly productive, but its full capacity will be developed only by actual settlers, occupying small tracts of land. Among the large holders of land in this township who are non-residents, are J.W. Glidden, A. Long, S.M. Lockwood, and J.C. Lattimer.
The principal industry of township is farming and stock raising combined. James S. Long is thus engaged; and Orville Adams, who is also a teacher. Among the leading German inhabitants are the Beslers, J.A. and Wm. Rosenbaum, George P. Schimmel, C.W. Rudolph, F.W. Kruger and C. Wagner.
The present population has exhibited much enterprise in the work of bringing the land into cultivation, and their reward has been such that the people are fast becoming prosperous.
Transcriber's Note: March, 2006: The History of Townships, Cities & Towns contained in the county history section of La Porte County Gen Web is based on Jasper Packard's 1876 History of La Porte County, Indiana. Those chapters, however, have been summarized by volunteers.
Transcriber’s Note: This is an edited excerpt from: “La Porte County, Indiana, and its Townships, Towns and Cities, by Jasper Packard, 1876”. Name spellings and dates have been transcribed as written by Packard.
On the 9th of March, 1836, at the regular March term of the Board of county commissioners, it was ordered that Kankakee township be divided. The part lying in township thirty-eight, in range two west, was to form Galena township. It was further ordered that an election was to be held in the new township on the first Monday of April, for the purpose of electing two justices of the peace. Joshua Jordan was appointed inspector of elections, and the elections were held at the house of George W. Barnes. This township consists of twenty-four whole sections, and six half sections, one tier and a half of sections of the congressional township thirty-eight are in the State of Michigan.
George W. Barnes is supposed to be the oldest settler in Galena; his biography is obscure, as he died about thirty years ago, leaving no descendants. Tradition says that he was a native of the State of Maine, and from thence migrated to Cleveland, Ohio; that he was a married man, but never brought his family to his new home. Whether his wife refused to follow him into the depths of the forests, or if they parted from domestic infelicity, is not known. He was a man of uncommon nerve and force of character, possessing traits which made him eminently fit for a pioneer of civilization; and he came to Galena township in the year 1833, and at once went to work with that untiring energy for which he was always distinguished. (See Transcriber’s Note “George W. Barnes” at the end of this chapter). Whitman Goit, Shubal Smith, Richard Miller, Sylvanus James and John Talbot also settled the township in 1833.
Those settling the township in 1834 were: Daniel Baldwin, Aurea and Basil Sperry, William Waldruff, Sans H. Austin, Byron Cadwalader, John Morrow, Joshua Jordan, Elijah Bishop, Micajah Jones, John Cooper, Ephraim Cooper, Jesse Jones, Oliver Porter, James Paddock, Charles Francis, Joseph Fuller, James Jones, Abram Purcell, and Joseph Henderson. Joseph Wallace, the Martin family, the Weeds, Mr. Morrill, and Edwin Jordan, brother of Joshua, were also early arrivals in the township.
The first mill in Galena township was built in1834 by John Talbot and Whitman Goit. Another first for the township occurred in 1834 with the birth of a son to Mr. and Mrs. William Waldruff. In 1835 a second mill was built by George W. Barnes. While the Talbot and Goit mill was built in the northeast part of the township, the Barnes mill was in the southwest portion. Also in 1835, Mathew Mayes opened a blacksmith shop, the first in the northern part of the county, at Mayes’ Corner. About a mile west of the blacksmith shop was a wagon shop owned by Shubal Smith, and Mr. Purcell erected a lathe for turning wooden bowls on Mud Creek. Joseph Winch later bought Mr. Purcell’s establishment and made split bottomed chairs and spinning wheels.
A great number of settlers arrived in the township during the year 1835; among them were: Jacob Heckman, James Catterlin, Robert Kennedy Smith, Lewis Weed, Mathew Mayes, Hiram Bement, Samuel Vance, John Rodman, Jedediah Austin, James Wilson and Hiram Catterlin. Martin Bates came this year and bought land, but went away and did not return and improve it until 1840.
In 1836 the first school house was built of logs on the land of Theodoric Heckman, the teacher was Amanda Armitage. Those who arrived in 1836 were Walter and Ezra Brown, Kellogg Shedd, John and Henry Brewer, Abraham Burcham, Julius Tappan, Levi Paddock and Elder Caleb B. Davis, pastor of the Christian church. Hiram Russ arrived in 1837. Solomon Palmer built a saw mill in 1838, and in 1840 James Winch came and put up a turning establishment on Barnes' creek, where he made hubs, bedposts, and spinning wheels. He was a Free Will Baptist preacher, and died in 1853. The property was sold to W. W. Francis and brothers, and they built a grist mill on the site.
Solomon Palmer built a saw mill in 1838, and in 1840 James Winch came and put up a turning establishment on Barnes' creek, where he made hubs, bedposts, and spinning wheels. He was a Free Will Baptist preacher, and died in 1853. The propproperty was sold to W. W. Francis and brothers, and they built a grist mill on the site.
Previous to 1841, religious services had been held at the school houses and in private homes. Shubal Smith acted as a local Methodist preacher. Reverend Posey was assigned by the conference to preside in Galena. He directed his influence among his brethren to induce them to build a chapel for a place of religious worship, and a day was assigned for all to turn out from far and near, to accomplish this object. At the appointed time they came from distances as great as eight or ten miles, and worked steadily for a week, when a very comfortable and commodious log chapel was completed. It was built upon an acre of ground given by Whitman Goit for the purpose, and named Posey chapel in honor of the founder. It has since been torn down and rebuilt, a frame structure occupying the place of the old one. (Transcriber’s Note: See Posey Chapel Cemetery History). The Mount Pleasant M. E. church was built in 1844. Lamb's chapel, so named after Mr. Lamb, who appropriated the land, is situated at the junction of the town line and LaPorte roads. It is a frame building about the size of an ordinary school house which it very much resembles. It was built by subscription of the people of the neighborhood in 1854. The Christian denomination is largely represented, and in 1865, they completed a very fair church edifice. It is located on the southwest quarter of section twenty, and Rev. Caleb B. Davis is the pastor.
In 1841, Willis and John Wright put up a turning lathe about a mile and a quarter west of Caleb B. Davis'. They ran it four of five years and sold it to E. S. Dodds, who continued the business for some years, until the machinery became worn out and worthless. In the same year Loami Shedd started a small wagon shop about three quarters of a mile east of where Centre school house now stands. In the year 1846, Charles Francis & Son built a saw mill on Galena creek, a mile and a quarter above Barnes' mill. In 1848, William Waldruff and Hiram Bement built a saw mill about three-fourths of a mile below Barnes' mill, on the Barnes branch of Galena creek. Waldruff afterwards sold out his interest to Ira L. Barnes. Bement and Barnes sold to Richard Etherington. John B. Smith started a wagon shop in 1849, on the farm belonging to R. K. Smith, on the road from LaPorte to New Buffalo. In the summer of the same year, Valentine F. Smith built a small turning shop on a stream emptying into the Galena, about a mile and a half west of Winch's shop. Mr. Smith continued the business until the spring of 1854.In 1841, Willis and John Wright put up a turning lathe about a mile and a quarter west of Caleb B. Davis'. They ran it four of five years and sold it to E. S. Dodds, who continued the business for some years, until the machinery became worn out and worthless. In the same year Loami Shedd started a small wagon shop about three quarters of a mile east of where Centre school house now stands.
In January, 1852, Whitman Goit was killed by a falling tree while he was engaged in getting out railroad ties and, on March 5th of that year, Kellogg Shedd was killed when his wagon, loaded with logs, tipped over while on his way to Barnes' mill.
In 1854, R. B. Goit and William Ingersoll rebuilt the old Talbot saw mill which had gone to decay. In 1857, Truman Barnes built a wagon shop about a mile north of the Centre school house; in 1858, the Francis brothers built a grist mill about a quarter of a mile below Waldruff & Bement's mill. It is known as the Finley mill. It was the first and only one erected in the township; in 1859, Nathaniel Barmore opened a general store near Barnes' mill. He sold out to Valentine F. Smith in the spring of 1854. Smith remained about eighteen months in that locality, and then moved to Mayes' corners. There he kept the store for a time when he sold out to Peter H. Hess. Hess kept up the establishment between two and three years and then abandoned mercantile pursuits. This store, opening at the mill and closing at the corners, was the first, last, and only attempt at merchandising in the township. In the spring of 1857, Valentine F. Smith built a steam saw mill about forty rods west of Mayes' Corners. He had in connection with it a shingle mill and barrel heading factory. It was burned in the fall of 1862. This was the first steam mill put up in the township. In the year 1869, Dorf & Kenton erected a steam mill in the southeast part of the township, a little west of Mount Pleasant. A steam saw mill was moved from Rolling Prairie to Galena during the summer of 1874 by Shaw & Johnson. It stands by the roadside about one-half mile north of Lamb's chapel.
Some thirty years ago there occurred an incident near the present locality of the last named mill, which has been almost forgotten, as there are none left of kin to the family in the township. There came from the State of Missouri a large, powerful man, bearing the name of William Mathews. He was noted for his quiet, unobtrusive manners, and was industrious and devotedly attached to his only boy, a child of some six summers. One day he was cutting timber while the wind was blowing a perfect gale. He had chopped at the trunk of a tree as much as he thought prudent, and stepped back a few yards to take a view of the situation, when suddenly he heard a crackling noise, and saw the tree falling. His child was at his side. Between saving himself and his boy he hesitated not a moment. He grasped him and with one effort of his Herculean arm, cast the child beyond danger. In an instant more that brave father's heart had ceased to beat, and he lay upon the earth, a crushed and bleeding corpse. The widow sold the property and moved away; where, none in the neighborhood know.
In the year of this publication, still living in the township are: Wm. C. Cummins, E. W. Davis, J. H. Francis, Luke Francis, W. W. Francis, Scipha Foster, Zachariah Teeter, H. E. Smith, Charles Morrow, W. W. Fuller, Hiram Bement, Jr., Benjamin Brewer, William W. Finley, Morrison Paddock, James Paddock, Samuel Wilson, Enos Weed, McDonald Shead, Martin Bates, who came from Hampshire county, Mass., E. S. Cadwell, Oliver Marston who came from Erie county, New York, in 1843, and Alexander B. Austin who enlisted in the forty-eighth Indiana Volunteers, and served during most of the late war, attaining the rank of Captain.
When Galena township was first settled, it was almost entirely covered with timber. Its surface is rolling and in some places hilly. The soil is loamy, warm, and produces well. It is well adapted to the raising of fruit; and peach and apple orchards are very common. Some of the finest timber in the county may be found in this township. There are many fine farms in Galena, but to clear the land and make it available for cultivation has been the work of years.
There are great difficulties in getting at the facts relating to the early settlement of a township like Galena. Such counties do not present themselves as one located upon a prairie, where it often happens that the settler can stand upon the top of his cabin and at a glance take in its entire boundaries. Citizens from its extreme parts rarely met except at general elections. No attempt has been made to lay out a village, and the county records are unencumbered with any survey made for this purpose. There has been no common point for convivial meetings within its limits, where men have lounged away their hours in telling for the hundredth time the tale of their early trials and privations. It is the boast of the citizens that intoxicating liquors have never been sold as a beverage within their township. Crime and poverty have been almost entirely unknown. The inhabitants have nearly all been tillers of the soil, generally religiously inclined, hardy and industrious, frugal and honest. The township has been slower of development than in the case of those townships located on the prairie; but when once man's labor has subdued the obstacles to cultivation, it receives a rich reward. Crops are more certain to yield a return; and the result is that Galena township, having a soil naturally of great depth and richness, is becoming one of the wealthiest and most prosperous sections of the county.
Transcriber’s Note: George W. Barnes - Although the early county histories indicate George W. Barnes had no family in La Porte County, recent research indicates this is incorrect. A will, filed in La Porte Co., in 1844, provides the following information: 1/3 of Barnes Mill, located in section 20 of Galena Twp., was willed to his wife, Alvira. The other 2/3 of the Mill was to be divided amongst his siblings: Brothers Joseph and Perry; Sisters Hannah (Barnes) Cunningham and Olive (Barnes) Marston. Perry, Hannah and Olive were all early settlers in Galena Township.
Hanna township comprises all that part of townships thirty-three and thirty-four that lies in LaPorte county, and with the single exception of Union, is the largest township in the county. It is a part of the territory which was detached from Stark county, as related in a preceding chapter. It then formed a part of Van Buren township, upon the organization of Cass township out of the limits of Van Buren, was attached to and made a part of Noble, which was its condition until the 11th day of March, 1861, when, on the petition of citizens, the Board of county commissioners made the following order:
“In the matter of Petition}
for New Township. }
And now come sundry free holders, residents of LaPorte county, and present their petition in these words, to-wit: To the Honorable, Board of commissioners of LaPorte county, Indiana. The undersigned citizens and resident free holders of the part of Noble township comprise within the boundaries of congressional townships number thirty-three and thirty-four, north of range number three west, would respectfully represent to your honorable body that it would be for the interest and convenience of the citizens of said township to have the following described district of country formed into a new and distinct civil township, to-wit: Beginning at the northwest corner of congressional township thirty-four, north of range number three west, and running east along the township line between towns thirty-four and thirty-five, of ranges number three and number two, till said line strikes or intersects the Kankakee river, thence along the channel of said Kankakee river, in a southwesterly direction to a point where the township line running north and south between towns thirty-three range three, and thirty-three range four west, to the place of beginning. Your petitioners would also further ask, that the name of said civil township to “Hanna.” And your petitioner will every pray. Signed,
CHANDLER PALMER, and others.
And the Board after due consideration of the matter, grant the prayer of the petitioners, and order that the above district of country be formed into a new township, to be called Hanna, and the Board appoints Charles H. Rowley as trustee of said township.
The earlier settlers on the territory which is now Hanna township were Emanuel Metz, Nimrod West, Wm. West, Sen., Amsterdam Stewart, Andrew J. Chambers, Wm. Tyner, Charles Strong, Thomas Hunsley; the two sons of Metz, Isaac and Joseph; and the three sons of Chambers, Preston, Obadiah and Andrew J.. These all came from the township in, or prior to, 1839. At that time Hanna township was a part of Stark county, and formed part of the township of Van Buren. When these me settled here, the prospect could not have been very inviting, although they made their homes beyond the limits of the Kankakee marshes. They were on the upland across which the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroad now passes, but out towards the river it was on continuous marsh, subject to overflow whenever the river was high, and which was so miry that it was almost impossible to cross it with a team or on horseback. But they had faith in the future and resolutely went to work to make homes for themselves and their children. The locality of their settlement was an isolated neighborhood, and neighborly ties were strong among them. Even tenderer ties arose and Amsterdam Stewart and Susan Metz were married, which was the first marriage that occurred in the township. Settlement has not been rapid in this township, but there has been a gradual increase of population until, at the present time, the inhabitants number between five and six hundred. Noah S. Rowley and his sons, Charles H. and Samuel settled in the township twenty-two years ago. John Lawrence came in 1843 and bought out Charles Strong. Hyatt and Austin settled in an early period at Chamber’s Landing. More recently the brothers Charles, David and John E. Wills moved into the township from Cass. The Lloyds have been here not far from twenty years. Geo. Lawrence came probably in 1843. He and John Lawrence both came from England. Other leading citizens of the township are C. J. Bunnell, present township trustee; Thomas Mitchell, George Trimmingham, Erasmus Whitney, James Bellmore, Wm. Wilson and Hiram N. Wilson, who are farmers, that being the leading industry of the township, in connection with stock raising. William Brown is a farmer and stock dealer; Julius T. Keil is a farmer and stock raiser, and also has a store in the village of Hanna; B. F. Moore, John Pratt, Clark R. Richards and E. F. Whitney are farmers and stock raisers; Stephen Frechette is a boot and shoe maker; Charles Frechette is a manufacturer of wagons, sleighs and agricultural implements; David Wills carried the mail from 1865 to 1871, between LaPorte and Hanna Station by way of Kingsbury and Union Mills, and is now a dealer in agricultural implements; W. H. West is a farmer and carpenter; Charles Wills is county commissioner; Z. T. Horine and E. N. Spahr are physicians; George S. Dennison and Lucius Avery are merchants’ Issac T. Lloyd is express and freight agent, postmaster and telegraph operator.
The only village is the township.
It is situated on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroad, and contains a population of about two hundred. There are three merchants, two blacksmiths, one shoe shop, one wagon factory, one cooper shop, two hay presses, one saloon, two warehouses, and depot and station house and other railroad buildings.
The town plant of Hanna was laid off and surveyed in 1858, and contained forty-two acres and eighty one-hundredths, in section eight, township thirty-four, north of range three west, and was filed for record by N. and J. West. The following is the record:
“State of Indiana}
LaPorte County } ss.
Before me the recorder in and for said county, Nimrod West, one of the proprietors of the within named town acknowledged that he filed this plat for recorded on the 17th day of December, 1858.
A. Hupp, R. L. C.”
In 1859, Young’s addition was laid off in the west half of the northeast quarter of section eight, town thirty-four, range three west.
Clark R. Richards and Charles Fressenden opened the first store at Hanna in 1858, directly after or at the time of the completion of the railroad to the town. Wm. H. Bowers was the first postmaster, but did not hold it a great while, when Isaac T. Lloyd was appointed, and has held it ever since. George S. Dennison opened a store on the first day of September, 1865. and is still engaged in the business of merchandising. The merchants are all grain buyers, and Hanna is quite a market for grain for the southern part of the county, situated, as it is, on one of the main trunk lines to the east. There is one school house in the village, and here all religious meetings are held, there being no church edifice in the township. The Methodist and Free Methodist hold frequent services, and a movement is at present on foot for the erection of a church building.
There are three school houses in the township, the oldest being the one at the town of Hanna. The first trustee was Charles H. Rowley, by appointment of the commissioners when the township was organized. The first one elected to the place was Noah S. Rowley. He was succeeded by Adam Vinnedge, who as since removed to Plymouth. T. W. Allison was the next trustee, and he was succeeded by C. J. Bunnell, who still holds the office.
Three-fourths of the land of the township is Kankakee marsh, though much of this is now under cultivation, and is becoming fine, rich land. The drying out process is going on each year, aided by some ditching, and the area of tillable land is enlarging year by year; while that portion of the marsh which is not dry enough to cultivate is mostly excellent mowing land, and with the constant and increasing demand for hay, is becoming valuable. Hanna township is just beginning its development, and the outlook is favorable for its future prosperity and wealth.
Transcriber’s Note: February, 2006: The History of Townships, Cities & Towns contained in the county history section of La Porte County Gen Web is based on Jasper Packard’s 1876 History of La Porte County, Indiana. Those chapters, however, have been summarized by volunteer.
The township of Hudson was included within the limits of the original township of Kankakee, and on the organization of Wills was a part of that township, and so remained until the 11th day of May, 1836, on which day at the May term of commissioners’ court the following order was made:
“Ordered by the board, that all that tract of country formerly belonging to Wills township, that lies in township thirty-eight, north of range one and two west, in LaPorte county, constitute a township for judicial purposes, to be known by the name of Hudson township– that the elections for said township be held at the house of James R. Smith– that John L. Ross be, and is hereby appointed inspector of elections, and that Johne Baker be, and is hereby appointed constable of said township, until the next annual election of township officers.”
Hudson is the smallest township in the county, containing only twelve sections and three half sections. Adjoining Michigan on the north, and St. Joseph county on the east, the six northern sections of congressional township thirty-eight, range one, and one-half the next tier of sections are in the State of Michigan; and the eastern half of the congressional township is in St. Joseph county. Thus Hudson township contains considerably less than one-half the congressional township in which it lies. In sections, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, and thirty, is Hudson or Du Chemin lake, a beautiful little sheet of water, not far from two miles in length, and averaging half a mild in width, the shores of white sands, its borders surrounded by mighty forests, luxuriant with vegetation, its waters pure and clear, and filled with the finest fish. The western side of Terre Coupee prairie extends into Hudson township on the east; but the larger part of it consist of land formerly well timbered. With the progress of settlement a great deal of the fines timber has been cut off.
To Joseph W. Lykins, a Welshman, is generally accorded the honor of being the first white settler, though there is some doubt upon this point, for Joseph Bay was found to be a resident at the same time with Lykins, by the first white inhabitants. Lykins was connected with the “Cary Mission,” the headquarters of which were at Niles, Michigan. He came from that place when the branch was established on Du Chemin lake. The first heard of him however, he was boarding with Joseph Bay, who was keeping house and had a squaw for his wife. Bay had come from the Wabash county with a drove of cattle, and herded them in the vicinity. Lykins would, under the circumstances, be more likely to have obtained the reputation of being the first white settler than Bay, even were it the fact that the latter came first, for the reason that he was engaged in a more public business, and had no alliance with the Indians, with who Bay would be likely to be classed.
Asa M. Warren states that he found the parties as described, in 1829, and that the mission house had already been erected of hewed logs, and was situated within twenty feet of where Andrew Avery’s mill now stands, and close to the lake. There is some doubt as to whether Warren is not mistaken in regard to the date of his coming, but one are found to dispute it with any tangible evidence, except an old gentleman named Barzilla Druliner, who resides on the road between Hudson and Hamilton. He says that Warren came from Warren count, Ohio, in the Fall of 1830, and he, himself, came from the same place in the Spring of the same year. Upon the other hand, Warren does not claim to be the first white settler– an object of ambition which might be an inducement to antedate the time of his arrival; and furthermore, he kept accounts of his black smithing with the Indians, from whom he made tomahawks and other implements. The dates reach back as 1829. There is a mistake somewhere between these old gentlemen, both of who are honest and intelligent.
To accept the statement of Asa Warren, during the Fall of 1829 there were as residents of the territory now known as Hudson township, Joseph W. Lykins, Joseph Bay, Asa M. Warren and family, and the Indians, on of whom, “Jack Jones,” kept a small trading establishment. The buildings erected consisted of the branch mission house and Bay’s cabin, both of which were upon the present site of the village of Hudson.
It will be remembered that the name of Asa M. Warren, is connected with the early settlement of Wills. The is accounted for by the fact that Hudson was originally a part of that township, and also because Warren’s farm is situated in both. He at first resided in what is now Hudson, then moved to the bank of a lake on the same farm in what is now Wills. This was done because he had struck no water in digging for a well where he now resides. Upon this lake he put up a blacksmith shop, and was know by the Indians as “Wishtean Bish,” the Blacksmith by the Lake. When he had succeeded in getting water in Hudson, he moved back to his first home. It is thus that he becomes associated with the early settlement of both townships.
In 1830, Nathan Haines settled in the township not far from the lake. The mission school was taught by Robert Simmerwell, an Indian, who was assisted by his wife, a white woman. Indian children and whites attended together, and among the latter were some of the elder children of Mr. Haines.
The Indians who inhabited the country around Hudson, were composed of various tribes. Hey were principally Pottawatomies, Menominees, Chippewas, and Ottowas. Topanebbe, the head chief, lived on the St. Joseph river, where the great proportion of them wintered. A few years after the advent of the whites, this chief died and was succeeded by his son, who bore the name and title of his father.
The Indians had many petty chiefs, among whom were Sogganee and Micksobbee, the latter of whom lived in the woods, on the south side of the lake. When the Indians were removed, Sogganee went to Kansas with them, but soon returned, saying that he could not live there–there was no sugar tree. He has been in the habit of making maple sugar. He was a strict Roman Catholic and when given anything to eat, would never touch it until he had made the sign of the cross. In his latter days, he was taken care of at the Catholic institution of Notre Dame, near South Bend. There the old chief died and was buried. Sogganee had been a great brave in his day. He was at the battle of Tippecanoe, and upon one occasion he became very angry at Benjamin Hicks, Esq., for alluding to the Indian defeat upon that occasion. The Indians were all very kind, and seemingly well disposed toward the early settlers of Hudson.
In 1831, W. W. Cleghorn visited the vicinity of the lake. He did not come with the intention of settling, but buying furs. No change had taken place, and he describes the state of things in the township just as related above. He knew only the settlers named, and pronounces the appearance of the country extremely primitive.
In 1832, many of the Indians were removed to the Osage river country, in southern Kansas. Cleghorn accompanied them, having obtained a license from the general government to trade with them. He did not return to this country with the intention of making is permanent home until 1853, though he owned property on the banks of the lake where he now resides. By the year 1833, many settlers sought homes in Hudson township, and a village known at that time as Lakeport, but the name of which was afterwards changed to
began to be recognized in the surround country as a place of importance. There is not a town in the county more pleasantly located. It is situated on the east side of Hudson lake, sloping gently towards the shore, and under more favorable circumstances, might have become a town of considerable importance. This place was once the rival of LaPorte, and indeed, a formidable one, for the trade of the north part of the county. In 1833 its growth commenced. In that year the first school house after the mission, was built. The school was taught by a man named Edwards. Charles Egbert opened a very respectable store in the same year. John D. Ross and a man named Jewett, started a blacksmith shop; Samuel Elliott carried on the business of coopering, and James F. Smith commenced keeping a tavern–the first one in the township.
In 1834, Garret Bias built the first steam saw mill that had been put in operation in the town, and James F. Smith erected the first frame house. Bias run his mill until 1838, when he traded it for seven acres of land inside the corporate limits of Chicago, which were sold for taxes. The machinery went to Rockford, Illinois. During this time a postoffice was established, and A. L. Wheeler, who had become a merchant in the place, was the first postmaster.
In 1835, the town was in the full tide of prosperity. It had two taverns, for Garret Bias had opened on; stages were arriving and leaving at all hours, the streets wee filled with an eager and busy throng, farmers came to by and dispose of their produce, and it seemed as though no town in the vicinity of Hudson could ever compete with it in its steps towards commercial prosperity and growth.
Among those who were settlers in the township at that time were Benj. Hicks, Wm. Conner, Evan Hobson, James Bailey, Mr. Shay, Mr. Gould, Elmore Emmons and Asher White.
During the year of 1836, A. L. Wheeler sold his store to Foster & Reynolds. Alexander Cassiday opened his blacksmith shop; Dr. Jared Chapman established himself as a physician; a pottery was built by Samuel Rowe, and one of those speculative bubbles which at the time, crazed the head of the wisest men had culminated. It was the building of a canal from the city of Toledo, Ohio, to New Buffalo on Lake Michigan. When the news came that this enterprise had been chartered, and there was a probability of its success, Hudson was wild with excitement. The people from the surround country assembled in the town, all the musical instruments of which the country could boast were brought into requisition, tar barrels were burned and speeches made. But alas for poor Hudson. Even if such a canal had been practicable, the financial crash of that year put a quintus upon all their hopes and expectations. The excitement produced had caused property owners to charge the most unreasonable prices for their lots, and those who would otherwise have been earnest and industrious workers for the settlement, were driven to other parts to establish themselves in business. During this year the postoffice was discontinued, to the great indignation of the citizens, who laid the matter to the trickery of their neighbors in the village of New Carlisle.
In the year 1837, Andrew Avery commenced building a saw mill. The power used by him was of rather a novel kind. On the east back of Du Chemin lake, the land is quite high for some sixty rods, it then sinks below the level of the lake. Through this mount it was proposed to dig a ditch. A large force of men were employed, and after an immense amount of work, a canal was perfected through which the water ran to the depth of four feet. With this power he contrived to run a wheel. For a while he succeeded very well, but like all the lakes in the country, it became less in volume as the land was cleared up, the timber duty off and the sod broken, until two years after, the project was entirely abandoned. The lake is now at least four feet below its former level. During this year Robert Stanfield opened a tailoring establishment, and four large stores were in operation, not little treading posts, but they were well stocked with all kinds of goods, and an immense trade was carried on. The monetary crash had impeded the growth of the town, but the people were not disheartened. They still believed in the Michigan canal, and that its construction was only a matter of time, and the panic of temporary duration.
In 1838, Andrew Avery’s saw mill commenced operations, Wm. Sheridan embarked in the business of cabinet making and Richard Smith had a shoe shop. Garret Bias organized a full independent military company, of which he was made captain, and Andrew Avery lieutenant. They carried government muskets with flint locks. During the same season, Dr. Chapman opened a general store.
During the year 1839, Hon. John Reynolds went to Washington and had the postoffice reestablished. A grist mill was attached to the Avery mill, and a firm formed, consisting of Andrew Avery, Salem Huntington, Richard Hicks and James F. Smith. Smith did not long continue connected with it, but retired, and the business was continued under the firm name of Huntington, Avery Co. It was during this year that the water running from the lake into the canal became insufficient for propelling the machinery. In the same year a distillery was started by John Hobart.
In 1840, Andrew Avery bought out the saw and grist mill, and moved it to near where it now stands. Ox power was used as a motive power. Thos. Wood started a tailor shop and continued in business the next four years.
In December of the same year, there occurred a murder at this town, which for a time created a great deal of excitement, not only in the town of Hudson, but in the county. Charles Egbert had formerly been a merchant in Hudson, and an active business man. He had a tavern stand at one time on the road which runs along the south part of the township line. This hotel had done a good business, but Smith had made efforts to get a direct road through to LaPorte, cutting off all travel from Egbert’s place, and was successful. The parties had disputes at different times thereafter. On the evening of the 5th of December, Egbert went into Smith’s bar room. He had on the same day purchased a dirk-knife at the store of John Reynolds. After sitting near the door for a time, he arose and turned as if to go out, but really to open the knife, and then advanced towards Smith, who raised a chair to defend himself. Andrew Foster, who afterwards said he did not see the knife, caught the other penetrating Smith’s heart, who died in a few minutes.
There is much misunderstanding in relation to the facts of this case, especially as to dates, even among those who witnessed the tragedy, and hence there is copied here, the following record from the cocket of the justice who heard the cast:
STATE OF INDIANA}
VS. } On charge of Murder.
CHARLES EGBERT }
“On the 5th day of December, 1841, Andrew Foster a Justice of the Peace of LaPorte county, on view issued a State warrant, returnable before said Foster or any other justice of said county, and on the 6th day of December, 1841, John C. Hale, constable of said county, returned the said warrant before me, R. Munday, a Justice of the Peace of said county, and also the body of said Charles Egbert, and on motion of Defendant’s counsel, the examination is continued until the 7th day of December 1841, at one o’clock p.m.. At that time set for the examination, comes the plaintiff, by Wm. C. Hannah, M. H. Orton, and G. Hathaway; and the defendant in person, and by his counsel, J. A. Liston and G. A. Everts, and after hearing two of the witnesses on the part of the State, the examination was continued until the 8th day of December, 1841, at nine o’clock a.m. At the time set fourth, December 8th, 1841, the defendant is brought into court and after hearing more testimony on the part of the State, the examination is continued until the 9th day of December, 1841 at nine o’clock a.m. After the time set the defendant is again brought into court, and after hearing the balance of the testimony on the part of the defendant, the cause is continued until December 10th, 1841, at nine o’clock a.m., for the argument of the counsel. At the time set, to-wit; December 10th, 1841, the defendant is brought into court, and after hearing all the testimony and full examining all things touching this case, it is considered that the defendant give bail in the sum of five thousand dollars, and himself in the like sum, for his appearance on the first day of the next circuit court, or in default thereof to be sent to the common jail of said county, and thereupon the defendant gave bail in the sum required, but giving Elisha Egbert, Paul Egbert and Jacob Egbert. Whereupon the defendant was discharged.
Given under my hand and seal.
R. Munday, J. P.
Egbert never appeared. He fled to Texas–then not a part of the United States– where he lived until after the close of the rebellion, deeply regretting his rash act. He became a religious man and a Methodist class leader. In September 1844, a scire facias was sued out. Finally an arrangement was made with the governor of the State, but which the administrators of John Egbert, how had died, should confess judgment in the sum of $1, 000, after which the bond was canceled. The confession was made, and a stay of execution taken for one hundred and eighty days. In the meantime an appear was taken to the supreme court. The case was not finally disposed of until 1853, when the judgment was set aside. The decision may be found in the fourth Indiana Reports.
In 1842, Andrew Avery’s mill was burned. He went to work immediately and put up another, using ox power, often as many as five yoke of oxen. From this time the course of Hudson has been downward.
In 1845, Wm. Ferguson opened a boot and shoe store, and in 1851, Abel Whitlock bought a stock of goods and opened a very respectable store, and in 1852, Avery’s ox mill was turned into a steam mill. The railroad came through Hudson and made its depot at New Carlisle a mild and half distant, a town which Hudson a few years before, had looked upon with sovereign contempt. This was the last blow that was needed to destroy this once thriving village.
In 1854, Early and Avery built a steam saw and grist mill, and also opened a general store. Soon afterwards Early sold out to Solomon Stevens. This store successively passed into the hands of Perkins, Cassiday, Smith and back again to Avery, who failed in 1857. It was during this year that the postoffice was finally discontinued.
In 1869, Ed. Perry started a shoe shop, and in 1870 Avery’s steam mill was burned. Of course he built another immediately, where it now stands, and he has since added to it stones for a grist mill.
In June 1874, the school house at Hudson was burned by an incendiary. Peter Harris was arrested for the crime, and after being tried in the September term of the circuit court was acquitted. A new brick school house is now being built. Hudson never had a church.
There is nothing more to tell concerning the village of Hudson, which can now scarcely be called a village. Railroads having destroyed the great stage routes, that town which is to on a railroad is abandoned by the world, and necessarily sinks to decay. Hudson has undergone this fate, and in an aggravated form. Daily, many trains thunder past the “deserted village,” but non stop, and the few inhabitants who are left, and who remember the great expectations of Hudson can only sigh over what “might have been.”
There are two churches in Hudson township, both built in 1867, one bing Methodist Episcopal, and the other Methodist Protestant. The former is called Maple Grove church.
A large part of the township is well adapted to agricultural uses, and farming is the leading industry. A few are engaged in stock raising, and there are several saw mills and a flouring mill, as already mentioned. Among these now living in the township are Andrew Avery who still runs the flour and saw mill; Fleming Reynolds who came from Wayne county in 1833. and is a successful farmer; Moses Emery, a successful farmer who came in 1845; Wm. Galbreath, a farmer who came in 1838; Jesse Haines, already named as one of the earliest settlers, now a farmer and stock raiser; Alexander Hicks a farmer and a saw mill owner; J. M. Miller, a farmer and stock dealer; Esquire Wm. Thomas, M.D. Soloway, Obadiah Walker, J. A. Davidson, G. W. Druliner, Alexander Cassiday, Daniel Cowgill, W. A. Dickey, Henry Brown, and several families of Hickses.
Lee Solloway came from England and settled here in 1850. He died August 12th 1874. One of the county papers says of him; “it is with sincere regret that we record the death, on Wednesday night of last week, of Mr. Lee Solloway, who had been long a resident of Hudson township in this county. His death was wholly unexpected by his friends, up to within a few house of its occurrence, though he had been sick for a few days previously. Mr. Solloway was fifty years of age, and settled in this county twenty-four years ago, in the township of Hudson, where he has since resided. He was a good and useful citizen, and his death will long leave a sense of loss in the community where he was best know.”
Though the expectations Hudson village once had of becoming a large town, have been disappointed, yet there are much in the township elements of prosperity which will still remain. Much of the soil is rich and productive, and there is still a great deal of very fine timber. The people are generally prosperous; a high degree of intelligence prevails, and it cannot be doubted that the future has in store greater rewards for the industry of the inhabitants than whose which have been yielded them in the past.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 - Transcribed for La Porte Co. Gen Web by Christine Scott 27 February 2006.
Kankakee was one of the original three townships which formed the entire county. Other townships have been carved from it and it now is reduced to Congressional Township Number thirty-seven. In February 1830, the first settlers came to Kankakee Township from Union County, Indiana as a group. They were Aaron Stanton, Benajah Stanton, Philip Fail, Richard Harris and two hired men brought with Aaron Stanton.
The group built a cabin where they all lived together until fall when Philip Fail and his wife took a claim on Section 18 in Kankakee Township and built a cabin. In October of 1830 a son, Benajah S. Fail was born to the Fail’s. He was said to be the first male white child born in the township or county.
On the 24th day of May 1831, Ezekiel Provolt, David Stoner, Jesse West, Arthur Irving and a man named Willets, arrived in the township with their families from the vicinity of Lafayette, Indiana. Ezekiel Provolt put up a log cabin in Rolling Prairie and soon after Jesse West and Arthur Irving built cabins near that of Provolt. The little cluster of cabins was known as Nauvoo. In the same year Daniel Murray, Chapel W. Brown, Emery Brown, Jacob Miller, John Garret and James Hiley moved into the township.
In the spring of 1832, Alexander Blackburn, Solomon Aldrich and Charles Ives with their families moved into the township and commenced making improvements. After the termination of the Blackhawk War, the settlement of the township became very rapid. Among those arriving at this time were Leonard Cutler, Nathan B. Nichols, Joseph Reynolds, and Ebenezer Russell. The township was described as follows: the prairie was a flower garden, the woods were filled with game, wild fruits were abundant and honey could be found plentifully in the forests. The first religious services were by the Presbyterians in November, 1832 with seven members and increasing to twenty members the following year.
Land came onto the market in Rolling Prairie in 1832 and was sold at public sale, W. J. Walker bid in the premises upon which Provolt, West, and Irving were living. He allowed them to remain for a time in consideration of the improvements they had made. Walker named the village Portland and it remained so until it was discovered there was another Portland in Indiana. It was then renamed Rolling Prairie. Among the settlers of 1834, were William Sharp, Asa Pease, J. M. Heckman, Zenos Preston, Jacob Wagner, and a family named Blood. During 1834 a school house constructed of logs was put up on Michigan Road. The first murder in La Porte County occurred in the township on February 2, 1838. A man named Scott murdered Joshua M. Coplin. Scott was found guilty by a jury and was hung near La Porte on the fifteenth day of June 1838.
The town of Byron was laid out and a plat was recorded May 22, 1837. Homes were built; a school, hotel, businesses and a post office were established. In 1852 the tracks of the Northern Indiana Railroad were laid north of Byron signaling the end of Byron and the coming prosperity of Rolling Prairie.
Among the old settlers of Kankakee Township that have not yet been named were John Garrett who arrived in the spring of 1830; George W. Barnes, Ludlow Bell, Dr. Bowell, James Drummond, J. Austin, Benjamin DeWitt and the families of Harvey, Salisbury, and Whitehead; 1832, Solomon Aldrich. Among those who have lived long in the township are Samuel Downing, J.S. Holloway, David Bush, and his brothers Isaac and Abram, Lewis Griffith, J. H. Kierstead, Benjamin Finley, Miner Nesbitt, Claita and Enoch L. Preston, Jesse Blake, A.H. Miller, Irelands, and the Darlingtons.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 - Transcribed for La Porte Co. Gen Web by Gloria Arndt 24 February 2006.
Lincoln and Johnson Townships
These two townships with the exception of the e strip of territory which formerly belonged to St. Joseph County , formed a part of the original township of Kankakee, and upon organization of Pleasant township were included within its limits. During this time and until 1850, the center of range one formed the boundary between La Porte and St. Joseph counties ; but by an act approved January 14, 1850,, a strip of territory described as follows: “Beginning at the present county line, at the northwest corner of section twenty-two, township thirty-seven, north of range one west, thence with the north line of said section and that of section twenty-three to the northeast corner of said section twenty-three, thence south with the section line, until it strike the Great Kankakee river, thence with said river to the present county line”, was taken from St. Joseph and attached to La Porte county. Subsequently at the June term of the commissioners’ court in the same year, by an order of the Board, that part of the designated territory, which lay east of the township of Wills, consisting of six sections was attached to that township, latter being a part of the present township of Lincoln. The territory embraced in these two townships extends from the north line of township thirty-six, southward to the southern boundary. Of the county, and from the line which divides ranges one and two, to St. Joseph county to the east, and beginning five sections in width on the north, four sections in the center, and three sections in width in that part which lies south of the Kankakee river.
This territory was detached from
Pleasant township in 1861, the Board of commissioners having on the 12th day of
March of that year made an order of erection of Anderson township, as follows:
And now come sundry free holders residents of La Porte county and present their petition in the following words, to-wit: To the Honorable Board of commissioners of the county of La Porte, and State of Indiana , Greeting: We the citizens and free holders of town thirty-six, north of two west, would represent to your honorable body, that they have labored under great inconvenience consequence of the present geographical condition of said township; we therefore ask you to make the following change, to-wit: To set off all that part of towns thirty-five and thirty-six, range one west, that is now attached to town thirty-six, range two west, and part of town thirty-six, range two west, that is now attached to the town thirty-five, range two west, and also that part of the same that is now attached to town thirty-six, range three , or Center township and we will pray.
George Bosserman ,and others
The board after due consideration of the matter, grant the prayer of the petitioners, and order that J. B. Lewis be appointed trustee of the said new township which township will be known by the name of Anderson township, and their elections will be held at Maples’ school house.
This order proved unsatisfactory to many of the people affected by it, and they immediately took steps to have it set aside. Much feeling was aroused on the subject, and the sentiment against the changes effected would seem to have well-nigh universal. A special session of the commissioners’ court was called to meet on the 23rd day of March, and when they met, petitions poured in upon them not only from the old townships whose territory was diminished, but also from the new township, asking the vacation of the obnoxious order. No less that nine petitions was received, all of them largely signed; from R. Shaw, and others; Isaac Butterwort,
and others; Joshua Layman ,and others; Go. Lashburn, and others; Ash Burdock, and others; Isaac Liven good,, and others; John B. Travis, and others and Joseph Ewing, and others. With such an overwhelming expression against the former action of the board, it was deemed advisable to vacate the order, and accordingly the following action was had on the 23rd day of March, 1861:
In the matter of vacation of Order }creating Anderson township }
Now come Isaac Butterwort and others and others to file their petition fro the vacation of the order made at the last regular term of the Board creating a new township called Anderson, and changing the boundaries of Union, Pleasant and Center townships; and after hearing evidence and due inspection of said petitions, the prayer thereof is granted, and said order in all things vacated.
The boundaries of the townships
remained as thus determined until the year 1866. In that year, on the
13th day of March at the regular term of the board, the following
orders were passed.
In the matter of the formation} of Lincoln Township }
It was ordered by the Board, that township thirty-six, north of range one west is hereby set apart for a civil township, and shall be entitled to all the privileges as such, and the same is hereby called Lincoln township
In the matter of the formation}of Johnson Township }
It was ordered by the Board that township thirty-five ,north of range west, is hereby set apart as a civil township and shall be entitled to all the privileges as such, and the same is hereby called Johnson township.
The Board then made further orders directing that Joseph B. Lewis should be appointed trustee of Lincoln township , and Jared Mc Daniel trustee of Johnson township. There were other orders made at the same time, affecting Union, Scipio and Pleasant townships, and to these the same options arose that has been noted in the case of the formation of Anderson township. These latter orders were finally appealed; but the orders directing the formation of Lincoln and Johnson townships have remained in force; and as the people are well satisfied with the present arrangement, no further change is likely to take place.
The townships of Lincoln and Johnson embrace all of township thirty-six, range one (Lincoln), and township thirty-five, range one, (Johnson),that lies in La Porte County. The Kankakee river forms part of the eastern and southern boundary of Lincoln and runs diagonally across the northern end of Johnson from the northeast to the southwest. Mud lake, which is really but a spreading out of the river borders both the townships near the boundary line between them, and Fish lake lies wholly in Lincoln near the center of the township; and Little Kankakee river passes through it, and empties into the Great Kankakee
near its southern boundary. The Chicago and Lake Huron railroad crosses Lincoln township in the easterly and westerly direction; and the Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago railroad crosses the northeast corner of Johnson, and e Baltimore and Ohio runs east and west across the central part. Fish lake, near the center of Lincoln, is of very peculiar shape. It is divided into four parts connected by narrow passages or straits, each of which have received distinctive names. The extreme upper part is called Upper Mud lake, and is nearly circular in form with the outlet towards the northwest into Upper Fish lake. This part is much larger, and curves so as almost to double back upon itself ,and has its outlet towards the southwest into Fish lake, which is about one mile in length ,and is connected by a narrow passage with Lower Mud lake. The outlet of the entire body is into the Little Kankakee.
Upper Mud lake is on the south side of section sixteen; Upper Fish lake in sections sixteen and seventeen; Fish lake is mostly in section twenty, Lower Mud lake is in sections twenty and twenty-nine. There are several other smaller lakes in Lincoln, isolated and having no outlet.
The first settlement made in Lincoln township seems to have been by a man by the name of Mutz, and Levi Little who settled on the north side of Fish lake about 1834 and John Vicory came about the same time. George Sparrow entered the land in the township in 1835; and sold out in 1840 to John Lingard. A man by the name of Smith had come in early and sold in 1838 to Dr. Losey, Carson Siddles was an early settler, and Newlove Layourn came in 1835. A man by the name of Saunders also came this year. E. Arbergast settled in 1836; John Davis and John Dare in 1838; Samuel Stevenson, a former township trustee, Sharp, Bronson, Maple, Warren, Canada and Wrightman in or about the year 1841. George W. Woodburn settled in section eighteen in 1847; John, Andrew, Peter and James Harness and their father came to the township about 1840, and john Divine in 1841. John B. Mc Donald came in 1836,and was one of the first teachers in the township. The first lady teacher was Miss Elizabeth Vcikory The first sawmill was built on Spring run , which now is called Mill creek, a small stream coming down from the northward and emptying into Upper Fish lake. A post office was established during the present year, near where the railroad crosses this creek; it is called Mill creek, and m. H. Collomis the postmaster.
There is in this township considerable swamp and Kankakee marsh land; but the larger part of the township is dry, and contains some excellent farms. Among the farmers of Lincoln township are James Waxham, E. Thompson, Frederick Steelo, Jacob Snyder, F. M. Roxwell, James B. Davis, Jacob S. V. Burton, and Robert V. Armstrong. Armstrong came to the county of La Porte in 1832. Davis , a blacksmith as well as a farmer came to the county in1834.
One of the first settlers in Johnson township was Major John M. Lemon. He rebuilt the bridge over the Kankakee river about 1846,and kept it a toll bridge for many years. The first bridge was built by John Dunn as early as 1831 or 31. Samuel Smith came to the township and settled south of the Kankakee in 1842; Edward Owens made improvements on the school section, and sold to Samuel Harmison about 1843; Martin Smith arrived in 1843; Wm. Mapes, and Charles Palmer settled here about 1846; and Landon Carlyle came about 1851. He has been trustee of the township. The first school house in Johnson was built on section sixteen about a mile and a half south of the river; and a church was erected in 1874, on what is called the “Island”. Among the farmers of this township are George W. Corner, Jr., P. Flaherty , Wm. Robinson, Asa Jackson, Henry George and B.F. and Ira F. Place. They own the old Lemon property at the bridge, and a great deal of surrounding marsh land, some of which they have brought into cultivation, and the rest have made excellent mowing land. They were large stock raisers, and also put up, press, and ship quantities of hay. B.F. Place has for several years been the township trustee.
Johnson township embraces one-half only of Congressional township thirty-five, and the other half being St. Joseph county. It lies almost wholly on the south side of the Kankakee, but two whole sections and three parts of sections being on the north side of that river. As in the case of Lincoln, and all the townships bordering on the Kankakee, much of the land is marsh; the remainder consists mostly of oak “barrens” and is too sandy for the highest producing capacity. The marsh land will eventually be the best; and brought under cultivation these lands will have no superior for the production of corn and grass.
With this survey of Lincoln and Johnson, the history of the townships, separately and in detail, is concluded.. What follows will be applicable to the county as a whole.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 - Transcribed for La Porte Co. Gen Web by Judy Green 6 March 2006.
At the regular term of the commissioners’ court, on the fourth day of September 1833, the following order was passed by the board: “Ordered that New Durham Township be divided by the line dividing townships thirty-six and thirty-seven, and that all that tract of country lying in township thirty-seven and thirty-eight constitute a new township, to be called Michigan Township.” A division was afterwards made of this territory so that the present Michigan township consists only of the fractional congressional township thirty-eight, which is so far diminished by Lake Michigan on the north that it contains but fourteen whole sections and six fractional sections, leaving it the smallest township in territory there is in the county, with one exception, that of Hudson. The soil of the township consists almost wholly of sand ridges. These were at one time covered with a fine growth of white pine timber, which has entirely disappeared, having been cut off for lumber.
One of the earliest settlements of the township, besides Michigan City, was Scott’s Mills, where Mr. James M. Scott erected a saw and grist mill and was the first flouring mill built in the township. It was located on Trail Creek one and a half miles from Michigan City and was completed in 1835. It was a large fine mill and supplied a great extent of country with bread, purchasers coming all the way from Chicago, Rockford, Joliet and Galena, Illinois. Mr. Scott was able to purchase wheat at sixty cents per bushel and sell his flour at ten dollars per barrel. The first saw mill in the township was built by John Walker, father of Maj. Benj. P. Walker of La Porte. John Cheney, John Ritter, the Shreves, Sanfords and Van Winkles were all old settlers.
Since the population of the township was sparse outside the city of Michigan City, the history of Michigan Township is chiefly that of Michigan City. The land on which the city is now located was purchased from the government in 1831 by Isaac C. Elston of Crawfordsville, IN and he laid out the town in October, 1832. The town site was rather forbidding with much of it being low and swampy and covered with pine trees and some sugar maple trees. Major Elston purchased the site with the thought of building a city with a harbor on Lake Michigan for Indiana where Trail Creek slowly made its way over the sands to the lake. It was a deep sluggish stream which met the lake at the large sand dune, Hoosier Slide, where it was obstructed by a bar of sand at the mouth. The line between Indiana and the territory of Michigan was formerly some distance south of its present location and until the boundary dispute was settled Indiana had no opportunity to develop a harbor and seek all the benefits to be derived from the vast commerce of the northern lakes. The town was to be the terminus of the Michigan Road which was to be constructed from the Ohio River to Lake Michigan.
Believing that a bustling harbor would arise here, settlers began to arrive in 1833. Jacob Furman and B.F. Bryant put up a log cabin in August, 1833 and Samuel Flint erected frame house in October,1833 as had Samuel B. Webster. Also arriving in October was Geo. W. Selkirk. In 1834 the settlers came rapidly. Among them were Thompson W. Francis, a carpenter; Joseph C. Orr, who built a tannery; Samuel Miller, who became the city’s real estate agent, warehouseman, forwarding agent, etc.; George Ames of Ames & Holliday Drugstore; and Leonard Woods. In 1835 arrivals included M. Romel, a native of Germany; Simon Ritter of Seneca Co., NY; Deacon W. Peck from NY; W.W. Higgins of CT; Judge Woodward, a justice of the peace and first postmaster; Hiram and Richard Inman; Jacob Bigelow, David Burr, Benjamin James, W. Moody, Allen James, Robert Stewart, C. B. Blair, Quick, Peak and Western. Others early arrivals were Capt. Eliakim Ashton, a soldier under Gen. Orr, possibly in 1834; and in 1833 Asa Harper, who assisted in surveying the town of Michigan City.
Two hotels were built in 1834, one by Lofland and Taylor, situated near the harbor; and a second by Samuel Olinger with Thompson Francis as carpenter. Hiram Inman built the Stockton House on Pine Street and by the end of 1836 there were many more hotels: the Mansion House, City Hotel, Exchange, Farmers’ Hotel, Washington House, Lake House, Franklin and Genesse and also the Western Hotel near where the present Indiana State Prison is located. The Jewell House came a little later. The hotels were full and business of all kinds was flourishing in 1836. W. D. Woodward who came in 1836 states there were nearly 3,000 inhabitants, with the majority of them coming from the eastern states.
Beginning in 1833 many warehouses were built at the waterfront, the first by Samuel Miller, then followed by Hobart, Moore, Sleight & Gould, Jabez R. Wells and C. B. Blair. Blairs’ warehouse stood on a pier, which he also built. The earliest lake shipment was that of a cargo of salt brought in by James Forrester on the schooner Post Boy. The town was the grain depot for all of northern Indiana, and wheat was brought in from as far south as Marion County. By the end of 1836 besides the warehouses, commission and forwarding houses, there were also twelve dry goods stores. Merchants of this time were Jacob Haas, Daniel Brown, Eliakim and Galatin Ashton, John Barker, Henry Carter, J. G. Sleight, Mr. Wendover, Shedd & Turner, George & Fisher Ames, Chas. W. Henry, D. & N.W. Lower, Sleight & Moon, W. Barbee and Burke & (W.R.) Coudon.
The first school house was erected in 1834, Thompson Francis as its architect and builder. The first teacher was probably a Mr. McCoy. It was also used as a church, but there were no regular church services. Itinerant preachers frequently were here on the Sabbath and held services.
The first building exclusively for church services was erected by the Protestant Episcopals in 1835 or 36 and stood on Pine Street, between Fourth and Market streets. The Methodists erected a church on Pine between Second and Michigan Streets. A Baptist church was built in 1837 and churches were also built later by the Catholics, Congregationalists and Presbyterians.
On July 8, 1835 the first number of the Michigan City Gazette was issued, the first newspaper in La Porte County, by J. S. Castle who came with his family by boat to Detroit, and thence by team to Michigan in June 1835. They were accompanied by Pulaski King who was the “Printer’s Devil.” The material for printing the paper was shipped from Buffalo around the lakes to Michigan City. He later sold the newspaper to Samuel Miller.
On July 4, 1836 the first vessel to be brought in over the sandbar blocking the harbor was the Sea Serpent. The vessel was pushed and towed, with the aid of the citizens, some considerable distance up the creek. This occasion was reason for great rejoicing and a barrel of whiskey was stood on end, the head knocked in, and a nail driven partly in the side on which a tin cup was hung. All joined in the celebration.
Congressional appropriations allowed the beginning of harbor improvements in 1836 and 1837 and again in 1838, 1839 and 1852. To begin with valuable improvements were made with the purchase of necessary materials and piers built into the lake until a depth of eighteen feet of water was reached, channel partially dredged out so as to admit vessels of 200 tons easily and safely inside the harbor between piers. However, appropriations were not continuously forthcoming and as a result of being abandoned by the government for more than fourteen years much of the work accomplished fell into decay and the channel filled up with sand creating a sand bar worse than the original. Then in 1865 citizens obtained from Congress a relinquishment of the remains of the old works and the right to build where they had been. Then they formed the Michigan City Harbor Company and in 1866 and 1867 procured voluntary subscriptions from the citizens. Two piers were built into the lake, one for 1,000 feet and another 1,200 feet with a 200 foot wide channel and a depth of 15 to 20 feet. They then applied to Congress for additional appropriations which began in 1867 and continued with annual increased appropriations after the chief of the Bureau of Engineers recommended Michigan City as a harbor of refuge. As a result, commerce at the harbor has been steadily growing and is larger this year than at any other time since the first vessel entered. A lighthouse was built near the water’s edge in 1837 and replaced by another one in 1858. Harriet Colfax is the present lighthouse keeper.
The first physician was Lee H. T. Maxon. Others who came early were DeWitt, Strong, Chas. Palmer, and S. Pulford. Early lawyers were J. R. Wells, A. W. Enos, Hathaway, Chapman and Thomas Tyrell and later Thornton & Orr.
From 1836 to 1841 forwarding and commission business was carried on by Sleight & Gould, Samuel Moore, J. & C. Hitchcock, E. Folsom & Co., Wm. S. Clark, C.B. & L. Blair and Goodhue & McAdoo. The principal merchants were Viele & Brother, A. Chittenden, C.B. & L. Blair, Shedd & Turner, Carter & Barker, McKnight & Co., James McAdoo, Fisher Ames & Co., Harvey Truesdell, Cole, Peck & Co. in sheet iron and stoves and Ames & Holliday, druggists.
There are at Michigan City five railroads, four of which have one terminus each at this point. The Michigan Central reached here in 1850 and erected machine shops in 1851; the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago entered the city in 1853 and put up a freight depot and other buildings; the Joliet cut-off, owned and run by the Michigan Central, but has a separate track; the Michigan Lake Shore which runs by the side of the Michigan Central to New Buffalo and then diverges to the north; and the Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago road which was completed through from La Porte in 1871.
The Northern State prison was located in Michigan City in 1857 with Col. Seelye as the first warden, succeeded by Hon. W. W. Higgins and now the present warden, Mr. Charles Mayne. It was under the administration of Mr. Higgins that the prison first became self-supporting.
Since the opening of the harbor, the lumbering business has become the leading industry of the city with several firms engaged in it. The fisheries of Michigan City have been quite extensive. Lyman Blair sometimes packed as high as $40,000 worth of white fish in a year and the greatest catch of white fish and trout were in 1856 and 1857. There is still a large annual catch made and five or six boats are engaged in the fish trade.
The car factory was begun by Sherman, Haskell & Co. who manufactured freight and passenger cars. The name later changed to Haskell, Barker & Aldrich and then to Haskell Barker and is no incorporated under the name of Haskell Barker Car Company. The firm also made cars for the government during the war (Civil War) sometimes employing 400 men.
There is a larger population at present than ever before, the inhabitants now numbering between five and six thousand.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 by Patricia Gruse Harris 27 February 2006
Noble was a part f Scipio township until the 9th day of March, 1836, when at the March term of commissioners’ court of that year the Board made the following order:
“Ordered, that Scipio township be divided by the line dividing townships thirty-five and thirty-six, north of range three west, and that all that part of said township formerly comprising congressional township number thirty-five north, form a new judicial township, to be known by the name of Noble township, and that there be an election held in said township on the first Monday of April next, for the purpose of electing justices of the peace for said township, and that Arthur McClure be appointed inspector of elections for said township, until the next annual election of township officers, and that the election for said township be held at the house of John McLane.”
Since that time the east boundary of the township has been changed so that sections on and twelve, three-fourths of section thirteen, one-half of section twenty-four, nearly one-half of section of twenty-five, are now a part of Union township, a singular departure from the congressional township boundary, for which there does not seem to be any good reason. The first settlers in Noble township were Horace and Lane Markham, who came into the township in the Fall of 1831, and claimed land near Union Mills, Horace a short distance north of the town, and Lane a little to the west–both being on section eight. Little is known in regard to either of these families, as they moved away many years ago. Even the name of the creek, which was formerly called Markham’s has been changed to Mill creek, and there seems to be nothing left to perpetuate the name of these pioneers. Bird McLane and John McLane purchased their land during the year 1832. Joseph Wheaton became a resident in 1832, and laid out the town of Union Mills.
In the year 1833, the McLanes settled in the township, and the same year came William, Samuel, Michael and Edward O’Hara, Admiral, Peter and Ira Burch, Wright and Silas Loving, Isaac Johnson, warren Burch, Mr. Fowler, and Jeremiah Perkins. N 1834, Joseph Sterritt settled on Dormain prairie, having come to the county and stopped to Rolling prairie in 1833. In 1834 Richard Worrall and Samuel Mitchell came also. A settlement was commenced at the same time in the northwest part of the township. On the 7th day of November, A. G. Webster made a claim of the northwest quarter of section six, upon the banks of Spring creek and built a cabin. John Harding claimed the northwest quarter of the same section, and A. Logan the southeast. Horace Wood and Elizabeth McLane were married this year. This is said to have been the first wedding that took place in the township.
In 1835, Henerson Nickell, Dr. Everts, Timothy Everts, Gustavus Everts, Sidney S. Sabin, Theodore M. Wells, John Barclay, Israel Underwood, John Goldsmith, Richard Goldsmith, ______________ Goldsmith, Sen., and Benj. Shaw became settlers. A. G. Webster, E. S. Harding and John Wakefield built a school house on Webster’s farm in the Fall of this year, and Rachel Carter who taught the first school in New Durham township filled a like position here. She commenced in January A. D., 1836. This school in early times, was very jealous of its reputation, and particularly in relation to the art of spelling correctly, and many were the attempts of the neighboring distinguished for the number of teachers who fitted themselves for that profession in the little log structure. The furniture was made from logs split and planed off with grub hoes. From such material the seats and desks were manufactured. The fire place and doors occupied on entire side of the house. The floor was mad of puncheons, manufactured in the same manner as the seats and desks. In this place many of the active business men of our country received the rudiments of their education.
Note of reference and possible correction submitted by: Forney Miller: Packard's history of Union Mills (p. 147) where Packard apparently misread the settlers' names: "In 1835, Henerson Nickell, Dr. Everts, Timothy Everts, Gustavus Everts, Sidney S. Sabin, Theodore M. Wells, John Barclay, Israel Underwood. . ." The last two (3) names should read: "In 1835. . . John, Barclay and Israel Underwood. . ." Every so often this text is reprinted in accounts of Union Mills anniversaries and such and the error is perpetuated. I can present a fairly convincing argument by comparing this text with the same account in Chapman and in Daniels showing that John Underwood and his two sons are misrepresented in Packard. Example -- Dr. Israel Underwood was only 16 at the time. It was his father John who was the pioneer settler.
In 1836, John C. reed settled on section seven, and Asaph Webster on section six. The latter built a saw mill, which the division of the township brought a few rods over the line into Scipio. During the year a Baptist church was organized in the log school house in the “Webster district.” It was known by the name of “Spring creek Old School Baptist church.” Elder A. Neal of Porter county perfected the organization. The following were the names of the members: Asaph Webster, E. S. Harding, John Harding, A. A. Cole, Ariel Wakefield, Ameluna Webster, Mary Harding and Polly Harding. A. A. Cole and E. S. Harding were the first resident elders of the church. A. G. Webster was church clerk from its organization until it ceased to exist in 1854. He was also one of the first township trustees, and filled the office of justice of the peace two successive terms.
Russell Harvey settled on section ten in 1837. John F. Allixon was a teacher in this year, and afterwards justice of the peace.
In 1837, Dr. Everts commenced the practice of medicine. He had three sons who followed him in the profession. Their names were Eudorus, Orpheus, and Carroll; in 1838, Allen Cummings commenced carpentering, most of the time employing from eight to twelve hands; in 1839, a saw mill was built by John Johnson & Bro., in 1840, Jacob Early commenced building a large distillery on Mill creek. It was finished in 1842. He did a very large business. In 1852 it caught fire and burned; in 1843, Logan A Wakefield erected an ashery upon the farm of A. G. Webster, and entered into the business of manufacturing pearl and potash. It did not prove a successful undertaking and was abandoned in 1876; in 1847, a new school house was built by George Hall, on Mill creek; in 1873, the Free Methodist built a church at Indian Point. In the same year the Chicago & lake Huron railroad was finished through the township; and in the year 1874, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad was built.
It was at one time proposed to build a village about a mile from the site of Union Mills, and it was platted accordingly and called Belmont. The following record, without date, is found in book C, page one hundred and fifteen, of the county records:
“Plat of the town of Belmont, LaPorte county, Indiana, laid off upon the northwest corner of section twenty-one, and the southwest corner of section sixteen, township thirty-five, north of range three west, by Ward Blake and Abram Charles.”
Joseph Wheaton built the first house on the site of this town in 1832. The plat of the village was no placed on record until 1849, on the 7th day of December. The record is as follows:
“ The village of Union Mills represented by the annexed plat, is situated in the southeast corner of section eight, and the southwest corner of section nine, in township thirty-five, north of range three west of second meridian. Surveyed June 14, 1849.
State of Indiana}
LaPorte County.} ss.
Be it known that on the fifth day of November, one thousand eight hundred and forty-nine, personally appeared before me the undersigned, a justice of the peace, within and for said county, but authority of law, duly commissioned and qualified, Robert Wierm, Geo. Butt, Chars. Fessenden, Lewis Stevenson, Allen Cummings, Russell . Bennett, E. W. Fessenden, Michael O’Hara, B. Elliot, Eudorus Everts, Wm. J. Wheaton, proprietors of the town of Union Mills, and acknowledged the within plat to be their act and deed for the purpose of having the same recorded.
Given under my hand and seal the day and year above written.
Justice of the Peace.”
The grist mill at Union Mills was commenced in 1837, by Dr. Sylvanus Everts, and was finished in 1838. He continued to run it about three years, and then cold it to Bell & Gray. It afterwards reverted to Dr. Everts on account of a failure to make payment, and he, wishing to dispose of it, got up a stock company and sold the shares at fifty dollars each. George Butt bought up all the shares, and sold again in 1856. In 1866 J. P. Teeple bought it. It is now carried on by Hamilton and Teeple.
In 1838, there were only five log cabins at the Mills. They were owned by Dr. Everts, Josiah Grover, Lewis Stevenson, Levi Smith and Joseph Wheaton.
Levi Smith put up a block house and used it as a store in 1839
in 1840, William Bills put up a frame house on lot number five, and had a store in it. He built a frame house for a residence on the same lot. Lewis Stevenson erected a store, and put in it a general assortment of goods. It was upon the lot now occupied by F. A. Freeman as a store. During this year a man by the name of Clement had a cooper shop in the village and did a fair business. R. M. Bennett commenced Blacksmithing.
A shoemaker shop was started by Elisha Thayer in 1841; also a drug store by Lewis Stevenson; Mr. Cowan opened a wagon shop in 1842. In 1843, William Winters and ___________ Rogers carried on the business of tailoring. They were in business four or five years together. Isaac Johnson worked for them and continued in the business.
in the year 1844, the Presbyterian church was built–it having been organized by Rev. F. P. Cummins. The succeeding ministers have been Rev. Mr. Evans, McCrea, Fisher, McKinney, Elliott and Smith. In this year, Stephen and William Clement built a store and stocked it, James Westervelt acting as their agent. Some two years after, Michael O’Hara and A. Cummins bought it. After continuing in the business two years, Cummins sold out to Ben Elliott, and he sold to O’Hara at a later date. Thomas Allison bought a general stock of goods and entered into business, which he continued from ten to twelve years. Anson Harvey commenced harness making, and a postoffice was established with Lewis Stevenson for postmaster. At that time bu one mail each week from LaPorte was afforded, and the department offered only seven dollars per quarter for its transportation. No one being desirous of securing the contract, some of the leading citizens, who were anxious to have mail facilities, drew lots as to who should perform the duty. The unfortunate person upon whom the lot fell was Allen Cummings. A frame school house was erected during this year.
In 1848, Ben Elliott built a store and put in a general stock of goods. In 1860, Dr. Egbert commenced the practice of medicine. Peter Kannable started a wagon shop, and Wheaton a blacksmith shop. In 1854, Morton & Booth built a shop and commenced the boot and shoe business. In 1857, Wheaton who had formerly been engaged in the same business at Union Mills, but had migrated to Missouri, returned and opened another shop. In 1858, Dr. Crumpacker commenced the practice of his profession at Union. The advent church was built during this year. Rev. F. M. Berrick was the first pastor. Augustus Block started a wagon shop in 1860, and still continues in business. In 1864, a Burdet Turner opened a meat market. Mr. Berridge opened a gun shop in 1866. In 1859, W. F. Williams commenced blacksmithing. Joseph Bailey bought out Morton & Booth and started in the boot and shoe business, which he still continues, and Miss Samantha Church opened a drug store. In 1872, Dr. Meredith commenced practice, and Mrs. Almira Turner opened the Turner house for the accommodations of the public. The is the first hotel the town has had.
In 1872m McClure & McClung built a store and stocked it with a general assortment of goods. Heron & Wilcox opened a drug store. H. Smith started a tin shop which he has since sold to N. D. McCormack. The Chicago and Lake Huron railroad was finished to the town in this year.
In 1874, Drs. Heron & Wilcox embarked in the practice of medicine in the town. Pope C. Weed and Henry Booth commenced harness making. Bennett & Moreland opened a meat market. In this year the Baltimore and Ohio railroad was finished close to the town, the crossing being but a few rods from its outside limits.
Since the completion of the two railroads, Union Mills has taken a new start and no town in the county outside of the cities, has to all appearance, a more encouraging prospect in the future.
The business of the town may be briefly stated as follows: one attorney; one banking agent fro Ernest, Prussing & Co., of Chicago; one barber; three blacksmith shops; two meat markets; two brick masons; seven carpenters; on cider mill; three dry goods, grocery and clothing stores; two drug stores; two dress makers; one well driver; one express agent; one general shipper and dealer in butter, eggs, etc.; one grain buyer and freight agent; one grist mill; one hotel; two harness shops; two insurance agents; two justices of the peace; one livery stable; one milliner; one notary public; five physicians; two painters; two plasterers; one saw mill; one telegraph operator; one tin shop; and three wagon shops. There are also two churches, Presbyterian and Advent.
Stimulated by the railroads the following additions have been made to the town: Deets’ addition, laid off on the east side of Union Mills, and recorded April 23, 1874; and the addition of Fredrickson Hamilton, Way and Deets, recorded on the 18th day of May, 1875.
A new town has also been laid off at the junction f the railroads, by Charles F. Wells, and Theodore H. Wells, which was recorded on the eight day of April, 1875, and is called Wellsboro.
Noble township holds one of the finest bodies of land in the county; chiefly consisting of prairie, with a soil rich and exceedingly productive. No other portion of the county has been more prosperous. Advantageously located for market conveniences, since the completion of the Baltimore and Ohio, and Chicago and Lake Huron railroads through its limits, its development and prosperity must be greater in the future than in the past. It is watered by Mill creek, which passes diagonally across the township from the northwest to the southeast, by a smaller creek or two, and by several small lakes. To the advantages of the soil and location, the people have added facilities for education, and have erected a sufficient number of good school houses to supply the needs of their children.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper,
History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities.
S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 -Transcribed for La Porte Co. Gen Web by Christine Scott 9 March 2006.
On March 3, 1834, on motion of William Holmes, Kankakee Township was divided by the line running east and west between townships thirty-six and thirty-seven, all that part south of said line in said county to constitute and form a new township of the name of Pleasant Township. Elections were held at the home of Oliver Classon, with James Webster appointed inspector of elections. These limits have since been further divided by the formation of Union, Lincoln and Johnson townships, until at the present time Pleasant Township contains only the two northern and two central tiers of sections of township thirty-six, range two west.
Prior to the opening of this region to settlement, Pleasant Township was one of the most attractive parts of the county. Its rich and flower-clad prairies, its groves of noble forest trees, its numerous small lakes and flowing streams combined to form a spot of unsurpassed beauty. After the settlement of the county began, this portion was not long permitted to remain in its pristine condition. In the year 1831 or 1832, James Webster came from Virginia and settled on section one, in the northeast corner of the township. His son-in-law, James Highley, came at the same time. The next year, Silas Hale and Oliver Classon settled on section twenty-two. In 1833, John Wilson, Andrew Harvey and Asa Owen arrived. Others who arrived during these early years were Valentine Nicholson, Benjamin Butterworth, Ralph Loomis, George S. McCollum and Samuel Stewart. Stewart bought land in sections four and five, and his home was only two miles from La Porte. James Van Valkenburgh and a number of others came in 1835. On May 26, 1836, George Bosserman arrived on a prospecting tour, located and secured three eighties of land then returned to his former home, and reached the township again on December 1, 1836, in company with his brother-in-law, J. G. McCaskey. Others who then resided in the township were Griffin Treadway, John I. Crandall, George C. Havens, W.A. Place, Stephen Norton, W. W. Burhans, Ziba Bailey, D. E. and I. B. Coplin, William Everhart, John V. Rust, G. W. Stewart, J. K. Stewart, Charles W. Wing, Seth Way, Curtis and John B. Travis, and the Lomax family.
The first school house built in the township was known as "Old Charity." A number of those interested were opposed to having it on the site where it was built, and they put it on wheels or rollers, and moved it to another place which suited them better. Then the other party hitched on to it one day (or night) and pulled it back to its former location. A second time it migrated; and this time it was run on the top of a stump, so as to fasten it; but it was afterwards pried or cut loose, and was made to take two or three more journeys, before the dispute was settled and the migratory school house was permitted to have a permanent abiding place. Since that early day, great advancement has been made in educational facilities, and the interest shown in the subject of education, especially during the last twenty-five years has been most creditable. In 1850 there was not a good school house in the township. There were schools, but the houses where they were taught were inconvenient, combfortless, and pretty much worthless structures. Now there are five school houses, all of them good ones.
In the year 1835 or 1836, Mr. Whitmer built a saw mill on the Little Kankakee, on land now owned by Mrs. Burson. Root & Graham also built one on the same stream, and about 1850, the Websters put up another.
The first church in the township was Salem Chapel, built by the Methodists in 1853. The earliest preachers in the township were Elder St. Claire, Campbellite; Elder Spalding, Baptist; and Rev. George M. Boyd, Methodist.
The Little Kankakee River runs through the northeastern part of the township, crossing sections two, one and twelve. The Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago Railroad crosses the township diagonally from southeast to northwest, and the Chicago and Lake Huron railroad crosses the southeast corner. The former road has located a station in the southeast corner of section fifteen, called Stillwell. In 1870, a post office was established at Stillwell, kept by A. J. Wair, but after two or three years it was discontinued. The lands of this township consist mostly of fine arable prairie, with plenty of timber for all ordinary purposes. Immense crops of corn, wheat and oats are easily raised, and a part of the township is excellent for stock raising. The leading industry, almost the only one, is agriculture, and its farmers are uniformly prosperous.
Transcriber’s Note: This is a condensed version of Jasper Packard’s 1876 history of New Durham township.
It has been thirty-seven years (1866) since any new township was formed in La Porte County. In 1903 the board of county commissioners received a petition signed by James E. Davison, W. H. Scriven and others living in the southern part of Hanna Township, praying that the south part of Hanna Township be set off into a new township, the dividing line to be on the north of section thirty, just south of Thomaston Station, and to run straight east to the Kankakee River. The reasons set forth in this petition were that the southern part of Hanna Township had been developed by the owners and citizens, making farming land out of heretofore wasteland, which development was still progressing; that the northern part of Hanna Township had roads, schools and public conveniences, and by reason of its population had succeeded in electing trustees favorable to the development of the northern to the neglect of the southern part of the township, leaving the latter without roads and the new settlers without school facilities; that there were some thirty or forty children in one locality alone without a school, that the township trustees refused to furnish transportation for the children to attend the nearest school, though the petitioners were willing to pay their share for such privileges; and that the character of the lands and the needs of the people in the northern part of Hanna Township were entirely different from those of the people in the southern part.
After due consideration, the county commissioners granted the petition and ordered that the designated territory be set apart under the name of Prairie Township. The order was passed on September 10, 1903, and James E. Davison was appointed trustee of the new township. Unfortunately, the petitioners acted after the tax levy had been made, and this left the new township without funds. However, the citizens signified their willingness to back up with their own contributions, whatever petitions they might find necessary to make to the court of commissioners for the coming year.
A lot of the area that comprises Prairie Township had formerly been marshland and a lot of hay had been cut on it. With the reclamation of the Kankakee River valley land to cultivation it has opened up the area to farmland and more settlement.
The area that comprises Prairie Township, before it was a part of Hanna
Township, was originally part of the area that was detached from Starke County
and known as Van Buren Township. There are two villages in the township –
Hoyville Station in section twenty-nine and Willvale Station near the Kankakee
River, both on the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad. Willvale was named
for the Wills brothers, Charles, David and John, who probably came from Wills
Township, which was named after the same family.
Condensed from Daniels, Rev. E. D., A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of La Porte County, Indiana. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, 1904 and McDonald, Gene, The History of Pioneer La Porte County. 1970 by Patricia Gruse Harris, March 2006.
Scipio township, like Kankakee was one of the three original townships of which the county of LaPorte consisted at its organization; and it limits were range three, the entire length of the county from north to south. Its present limits are Congressional township thirty-six, range three. The rest of its original territory is embraced in Centre and Michigan on the north, Noble and Hannah, and a small part of Union on the south.
The first settlers in Scipio township were Adam Keith and family, and Lewis Shirley and his mother, who arrived on the sixth day of July, 1829. The Keith family were originally from Pennsylvania; but the little colony named came from Ohio to this country. In the month of October in the year of their arrival, Keith Shirley was born, He was the first child born in the township, and is believed to be the third born in the county.
In the year 1830, a man named Welsh and his son, a youth of eighteen or nineteen years, settled at Door Village. They built a cabin and procuring some liquors, opened a trade with the Indians and did a very fair business. At first the liquor was of a quality to please the noble red man. It would ‘make drunk come quick.” Finally the elder Welsh became dissatisfied with the amount of his profits, and desiring to amass a fortune in the smallest possible length of time, began to dilute the ‘fire-water’ from a spring. Though not as a general thing very fastidious about their edibles, this action on the part of Welsh in relation to their favorite beverage, excited their indignation. At last a party of young braves visited his cabin, and rolling out the barrels knocked out the heads with their tomahawks, and spilled the precious fluid upon the ground. This little incident so worked upon the feelings of the father and son that they left the township and removed to Chicago. On the thirtieth day of May 1830, Elizabeth Keith, wife of Adam Keith, died. It was the first death in the township. Among the settlers of this year were Daniel Jessup and Joseph Osborn.
In 1831, Arba Heald, Mr. Phillips, Mr. Whittaker, John Garwood, Elijah Brown, Stephen Brayton, Hugh McGivens, Wm. Adams, James Anscum, and John Gattis, became settlers. Gen. Joseph Orr purchased land but did not stay – he returned the next year in time to take part in the Blackhawk war.
During the same year (1831) a body of Sac Indians passed through the township on their way to Detroit. A number who were in advance of the main body, stole three horses from Arba Heald. He followed them a few miles, but as he was on foot gave up the chase as useless. When the main body came up a day or two after, they were stopped and the larceny reported to the chiefs. After a council had been held, it was agreed to give an order on Col. Davenport, Indian Agent at Rock Island, Illinois, for the value of the stock taken. Mr. Heald afterwards went to the agency to get his money. Instead of paying it, measures were taken to get the horses. They were procured and driven into the town. They had been badly used in hunting buffalo, their ears being split and their tails cut off. Having received his horses, Mr. H. proposed to return on the following morning, but during the intervening night, the best one of them was again stole. This he never recovered nor any pay for it, as the Blackhawk war put an end to the Indian annuities – at least so far as they were payable this side of the Mississippi. During this year the first wedding took place – Adam Keith married Hannah Harris, daughter of Richard Harris.
In the year 1832, Christopher McClure, Arthur McClure, Lewis Keith, John Broadhead, Peter White, and Thomas W. Sale moved into the township. During the spring of this year, there were but two cabins in Door Village, one of which was occupied by Arba Heald, and the other was vacant, it being the one vacated by the Welshes, after the exploit of the Indian crusaders. The McClures occupied this vacant cabin, while they were building residences on their land one mile north of the village. The day after it was completed the Indian scare commenced.
The Sac Indians were never kindly disposed to the American people or government. As far back as the war of 1812, they took up arms against the United States, and favored the British. In recompense for this, they were receiving an annuity in Canada. Their place of crossing was at Detroit, and the trail they pursued ran through New Durham township, and Door Village in Scipio. It is most probable that their intercourse with the Canadians, year after year, had anything but a good effect in quieting their ancient animosity against our people.
In May 1832, Mr. Owen, the Indian agent at Chicago, sent word to Arba Heald that the Indians had commenced hostilities on Hickory creek, a short distance from that city, and advised the settlers to prepare to repel any invasion that they might make. Hostilities had commenced in other parts of the State of Illinois on Rock River and near Dixon. The alarm proved, as is almost invariably the case, to have been greatly exaggerated. The hostile acts were upon Indian creek, and a family by the name of Hall were murdered, with the exception of two girls, who were carried into captivity.
Heald having sent word over the prairie, a large number assembled at Door Village. They had been hurrying in during the night, and in the morning a meeting was called in order to consult upon taking means best calculated to promote their mutual defense, when from a mistaken idea of the cause of the confusion, a stampede took place and about half the company started their teams eastward; some not stopping except for rest and their meals, until they had reached Cincinnati. Many did not return until the next year. Forty-two men remained and built works for their defense. These consisted of a ditch, earthworks and a palisade, one hundred and twenty-five feet square. Upon two of the angles, there were block-houses, which commanded the sides. This fort, as it is called, was built under the direction of Peter White, who had acquired some previous knowledge in the building of such works. It was completed in three days from the time of its commencement, when its occupants felt comparatively safe. It was located about a half-mile east of Door Village, on the lands of Lewis Shirley, near the road, and its site is plainly discernible at this time.
Amid all the turmoil and confusion, there was one woman who preserved her courage and assumed a defiant air, which gained for her character of a heroine. It was Mrs. Arba Heald. With two rifles, two axes and two pitchforks, she barricaded herself in the cabin on her husband’s farm, and neither threats nor persuasion could induce her to go into the fort. She declared she would kill six Indians before they took possession of her home. She would have doubtless fought them along if they had disturbed her.
Soon after the fort was finished, a block house was built very near where Albert S. Hall now resides on section thirteen, southeast of Round Grove. This was built under the direction of Judge Lemon.
On the second night after the fort near the village was commenced, it was thought best to send out a scouting party. Three men were selected, but Christopher McClure was the only man who performed the duty. He hid his gun behind a tree, and traveled in the direction of New Durham. Possessing a desire to create an excitement, he returned after a time with a sensational report, which made full as much bustle and turmoil as he expected.
General Joseph Orr purchased lands in Scipio township in 1831. In the month of May 1832, he came to take charge of and improve his possessions, which were situated on the line of Scipio and Center, being partly in both. He had previously, in 1827, been commissioned a Brigadier General, by Gov. Ray, and being present when the fort was building and the stampede took place, wrote to the governor giving him an account of what had happened, and then repaired to Chicago to ascertain, if possible, whether any real danger threatened the inhabitants of this vicinity. There he had an interview with Major Whistler, who commanded Fort Dearborn. After conference with that gentleman, he made certain recommendations and forwarded them to the governor of this State, and then started for the headquarters of General Atkinson, who was in command of a force sent against. Indians. After interviewing General Atkinson, General Orr returned to Chicago, where he received the following order:
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, INDIANAPOLIS, 26th June, ’32.
SIR: - You will, upon the reception of this order, organize a company of volunteer Mounted Rangers, to be employed along the western line of our frontier, for the term of three months – keeping up an intercourse between our Wabash settlements and Chicago, by selecting suitable stations near the immediate settlements, and keeping out parties of observation with daily communication.
This corps you will either take command of yourself, or commit it to an officer to be selected by the company, with the understanding that your official services will be expected in your division, in the event that a call is made from the United States officer in the Northwest, on the militia of the State.
Provisions, forage, etc., you will provide until funds are provided for that purpose.
To Major General Joseph Orr
Upon the receipt of the above order, Gen. Orr proceeded to raise a company of eighty-eight men, including officers, and reported by letter, first “to the commandant at Fort Dearborn, or Indian agent, Chicago,” from Kankakee, under date of July 7th, 1832, and afterwards from Hickory Creek, July tenth, to General Winfield Scott. The following is an extract from a letter from General Orr to General Scott:
“Sir: - I herewith enclose a copy of an order from the governor of Indiana, under which a company of rangers has been raised, and placed on the line between the Wabash and Chicago.
In pursuance of that order, volunteers were called for to rendezvous at Attica, Indiana, on the second instant, and at which place a company was organized as follows, to-wit;
Joseph Orr, commandant
Eliakim Ashton, first lieutenant.
Jesse Davidson, second lieutenant.
Henry Slabens, third lieutenant, and eighty-four non-commissioned officers and privates.
We marched from Attica on the evening of the third, and reached the Iroquois (Hubbert’s trading house) on the fifth instant. I left a small corps of observation, fourteen in number, under command of Lieutenant Davidson. With the balance of the company, I reached this place on yesterday. Today I sent a detachment to the Door Prairie, from which they will return by the way of Kankakee and Iroquois Rivers, and be in camp in five or six days. Meantime we shall traverse the country in different directions with other detachments, so that at the end of a week, I hope to be able to render a satisfactory account of things along the line committed to our charge.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Commander Corps Ind. Mounted Volunteer Rangers
The following is an extract from General Scott’s reply:
HEADQUARTERS NORTHWESTERN ARMY,
CHICAGO, July 2, 1832.
“I rely upon your zeal and patriotism to quiet all apprehensions among your men, for their safety against cholera. As soon as I shall be able to separate the sick from the healthy, on board the several steamers, and be certain that there will be no danger of a further spread of cholera, I shall want to commence operations, and then your mounted men will be of great value to the service.
Let me hear from you if you have anything interesting to communicate.
In haste, I remain, with great respect, your obedient servant.
To Gen. Orr, Commanding Indiana Volunteer Rangers.
Much correspondence passed between General Scott, and Captain Orr, and the following is given as showing the purpose of the commanding general, and his estimate of the Indiana company of Mounted Rangers.
HEADQUARTERS NORTHWESTERN ARMY,
CHICAGO, July 20, 1832
‘Sir: - I wrote to you the day before yesterday by Lieutenant Tupper of the United States Marines, who happened to be passing towards your camp.
I have now to acknowledge your communication of the nineteenth, which is satisfactory. I have no doubt that your fine company will do honor to the state of Indiana, and the country generally, if it should, under your command, come in contact with the enemy.
I still think of marching upon the immediate theater of operations about the twenty-sixth, and shall wish you to accompany me with your command. Having no hope that any other detachment of regular infantry will arrive, I shall only have Maj. Whistler’s small command of uninfected, and unsuspected troops to accompany me.
Gen. Atkinson, on the seventeenth, was preparing to march again upon the enemy with some hope of bringing him to action about the twenty-first. If the Black Hawk succeed in avoiding a battle he may retreat from Milwalky along the Lake Michigan in this direction. In that event we might meet him, and though our force would be small, we might, nevertheless, effect something.
I have only four tents here. Four hundred and fifty were to have followed in one of the steam boats now no longer expected, and I have no surgeon for the field. I am glad to learn that you have a few tents for your own men, and a good physician or surgeon. I can furnish you with baggage wagons, and shall order subsistence to follow us from this place; nevertheless it will be desirable that you take from your camp, rations for three or five days. We will meet on the route, say within four or five miles of this place. But I shall send an officer down to you to arrange all those points.
About the twenty-sixth, then, I wish you to have your whole company assembled ready to march, and in the meantime let me hear from you. I only wait till then in hope that tents and a physician may arrive, and for wagons and horses which I know will be here.
I remain with great respect, your obedient servant,
P.S. The cholera is subsiding fast in the fort, and many of the sick are getting well; but on account of your volunteers, and those with General Atkinson, I shall not take a man of the detachment that has had the disease. We all here believe it not contagious.
Capt. Jos. Orr, Commanding Indiana Mounted Rangers
Camp Hickory Creek
The movement of Gen. Scott and his command did not take place as contemplated, owing probably to the retreat of Black Hawk to the Mississippi, and on the fourth day of August Gen. Orr wrote to the Commanding officer at Fort Dearborn, as follows:
CAMP AT HICKORY CREEK, August 4, 1832.
“Sir: - I wish you to send me by the bearer, Mr. Edmundson, a sergeant of my company, for the use of the company, one keg of rifle powder. It would be preferred in canisters if convenient. We camp tonight on the lake shore some six miles from Chicago. Have taken this trip in order to lessen the dullness of a camp and will return probably tomorrow.
Having been disappointed in even a prospect of seeing the enemy, we have no desire to continue in service for the mere pay of soldiers, and therefore would be pleased with the earliest intimation that our services could be dispensed with. I have written to Gov. Noble to that effect and hope the step will receive your approbation and that of the commanding general in the Northwest, as well as your aid in effecting it. In the event of our discharge please say what disposition you would have us make of the public property in our possession. I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Joseph Orr, Commanding
Company Indiana Mounted Volunteer Rangers.
The company was soon after disbanded, as appears from the following letter of Gov. Noble, to Gen. Orr, which also shows the result of the war.
INDIANAPOLIS, IND., August 6, 1832.
“Dear Sir: - The LaFayette mail of Saturday, brought me your letter of the twenty-ninth, and that of the eighteenth instant was handed me by Mr. Bryant.
The enemy having fled beyond the Mississippi, and an army under a skillful general being in possession of the country between, the frontier is entirely secure from an approach of a hostile character; you will therefore withdraw the company under your command from their present position, and upon reaching a suitable point, disband it.
I regret exceedingly that the boys have had not had an opportunity to achieve more, but as circumstances forbade it, you must all return, content with the reflection that you were ready to meet danger, have done your duty, and that your fellow citizens approve your conduct, so far as you have been permitted to act.
I am, sir, respectfully you obedient servant
This alarm, by which it was supposed the cruelties of Indian warfare would be visited upon the infant settlements of LaPorte county, was occasioned by the supposition that the Sac Indians would retreat into Canada instead of going beyond the Mississippi, and as their trail passed through the country, the peril appeared to be imminent.
After the close of the war, the township of Scipio settled up more rapidly than before, and during the fall of 1832, many settlers moved into the township. Arthur McClure was elected justice of the peace this year. During these early time, Rev. James Armstrong preached at different houses in the township, and, either this year or the following, his example was followed by Revs. Sherwood, St. Clair and Holmes.
Transcriber’s Note: February, 2006: The History of Townships, Cities & Towns contained in the county history section of La Porte County Gen Web is based on Jasper Packard’s 1876 History of La Porte County, Indiana. Those chapters, however, have been summarized by volunteers.
Springfield township was organized on the sixth day of January 1835, the Board of county commissioners on that day making the following order: “On petition of Judah Leaming and others, it is ordered by the Board that all the territory in range three west, in the county of LaPorte, and north of sections number thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen and eighteen, in township thirty-seven, in said range, shall compose a new township to be called and known by the name of Springfield township, and it is further ordered that an election be held at the house of Judah Leaming in said township, on the last Saturday in this month for the purpose of electing a justice of the peace for said township; and it is further ordered that Judah Leaming be and he is hereby appointed inspector of elections in the township of Springfield in the county of LaPorte.”
Thus as originally organized, Springfield township occupied all of the congressional township number thirty-eight, except the six sections and the six half section which are in the State of Michigan, and the first twelve sections of township thirty-seven. It has since been diminished to the extent of on tier of sections on the south side, which became again a part of Centre township, and the boundary line between Centre and Springfield township is the north side of sections seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve, of township number thirty-seven, range number three west.
The first white settler in the township was Judah Leaming. He came in the year 1831, and settled where the village of Springville now stands, and was the first justice of the peace. He built the first cabin, and afterwards the first frame house which is now standing, and in a good state of preservation. It is the building occupied by Benjamin Rhodes. Abram Cormack and Daniel Griffin were early residents, and as near can be ascertained, lived in the town the first year of its settlement.
In 1832, John Brown, Joseph Pagin and his sons, Erastus quivery, John Hazelton and Charles Vail, became settlers. Mr. Vail erected a saw mill on section thirty-one. During this year the fist school house was built and the school was taught by Miss Emily Leaming; it was situated eighty rods west of the village of Springville. The Methodists had services about this time, where Mr. Rose and Mr. Griffith took the lead in the exercises. There was also many who attended the meeting of the Baptists, Mr. Marks conducting the services. There was no regular place of worship for either, and meetings were held sometimes in school houses, at other times in dwellings, and not infrequently out of the doors.
In 1833, the town of Springville was surveyed by Daniel M. Leaming upon the lands of Judah Leaming . During this year Gilbert Rose, Hiram Griffith, John Griffith and Erastus Quivey became settlers. Quivey built the mill on section one, now known as the Ross mill.
In 1834, Ingraham Gould, Michael Fall, Ezekiel Blue, Abner Ross, Anron Conklin, John Johnson, Henry S. Allen, John White, Mr. Ross, A. N. Shippe, Mr. Lewis and Josiah Redding became settlers. Joseph Pagin built a grist mill, which was run until it was worn out. About the same time David Pagin built another mill on the same stream about a mile and a half below the old one. During this year Elder Tucker, the first male teacher, took charge of the school near Springville.
James V. Hopkins came to the township in 1835, but settled afterwards in Michigan City.
During the year 1835, the school house near Springville was burned; the first wedding took place, Abner Ross marrying Esther Rose; Jacob Early built a mill upon section twenty-eight, which has been worn out and rebuilt several times, the last time by E. S. Organ. In October of this year Charles Vail built a saw mill, Erastus Quivery assisting in its construction. Hopkins worked at the business of a carpenter, and also made brick, designing to build a tavern, but sold to Ingraham Gould. Prior to 1837, many more had come into the township, among them being Samuel Lehr, John Mason, Lemuel S. Fitch, Alfred Stanton, John Blue and Michael Falls.
In the year 1839, John and Joseph Pagin built a mill between the two already erected by the Pagins, and a distillery was put up further down the stream. About the same time Lewis Pagin erected a building, and introduced machinery for the carding of wool. Abram Fravel built a mill on section thirty-five, in 1840, and David Hoover put up a dwelling the same year. In 1835 a church was built at Ross’ mill by Christian denomination. This was afterwards sold to the Dunkards, who now own it. Joseph Dauphine erected a steam saw mill in 1860. There are two villages in this township, the oldest being named
This village takes its name from a large spring of pure, cold water, which flows out in great abundance. It was laid out by Daniel M. Leaming for Judah Leaming, who was the original proprietor of the soil, and the plat was filed for record on August 19, 1835.
Prior to this, in 1834, Gilbert Rose had started a store in the village, Ingraham Gould a tavern, and Abner Ross a blacksmith shop. A postoffice was established in the year1835, which was kept until 1863. when it was discontinued. During most of the time of its existence, it was kept by D. K. Brickett, who commenced the business of boot and shoe making in 1837, and continued it until 1853. Aaron Conklin established a tannery in 1835, and after conducting it four years, sold out to Leslie Rose. He in turn sold it to Ira C. Nye how conducted the business successfully for many years.
In the year 1838, Gould & Alvord opened a general store, selling it the next year to Russell & Torrey, who sold in 1841 to Rose & Conklin. In 1842, rose purchased Conklin’s interest, and conducted the business alone. During the year 1838, Alpheus Thurber commenced shoe making and continued the business four or five years. In 1845, Ingraham Gould put up a turning lathe; and for many years did a large business in the manufacture of bedsteads, and other articles requiring its use.
In the year 1848, Gould sold his tavern to Michael Hargin, who kept it eight years and gave up the business, since then there has been no hotel in Springville. In 1850, a steam saw mill was built by Martin & Hill, who after running it about a year sold it, and in 1855, it was destroyed by fire, but has been rebuilt and is now owned by Peter Hack.
In the year 1850 Gilbert Rose sold his store to Orrin Rose, but in 1860, the mercantile business in Springville was closed, and for several years there was no store in that place. In 1868, John Schoening opened a shoemaker’s shop, and has since added thereto a small store.
Like some other towns in the county, Springville has seen the time when the expectations of her people were raised to the highest point, and visions of future greatness flitted across the minds of her citizens. One of the lines of the Northern Indiana railroad, now the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, was run through the town, and for a time it looked very probable that it would pass through the county touching that point. The probability of Springville becoming the county seat was freely discussed. In 1850, a plant road company was organized, and farmers and townsmen subscribed liberally. The project was to build a plank road east to South Bend, and west to Michigan City. It was commenced by never finished, though much money had been expended up it, and a large part of it was planked. The adoption of the railroad line running through LaPorte, seemed to discourage the inhabitants and no effort to promote the growth of the town has since been made.
The other village in Springfield township is
CORYMBO is situated in the northwest quarter of the northwest of section eighteen, township thirty-eight, north of range three west. The plat was acknowledged by Craigie Shape, Jr., and filed on the 19th day of August 1873. Twelve log and frame houses have been erected, only three of which were occupied in October 1874. In 1861, a postoffice was established and Craigie Sharpe, Jr,, appointed postmaster. It has since been discontinued. Large quantities of wood have been cut in the surrounding groves and immense quantities of it are to be seen piled up along the railroad track. The men who reside in this village, are either working men on the Michigan Central railroad, which runs through the town, or are woodchoppers who gain their livelihood in the surrounding timber. There was a steam saw mill in the village last year, but it has been removed. There has been a store, but it has ceased to exist, and the prospect for building up a town there is not very flattering.
For several years between 1835 and 1844, a gang of counterfeiters infested this township. The leaders were two men known as Van Velser and Stroud. There was a cabin surrounded by a dense thicket of willows and other shrubbery, situated on a dry knoll in a marsh, about a mile northwest of the town, where the coinage of bogus money was carried on. From this point it was scattered broadcast over the country. Van Velser was finally detected, and sent to the State prison, where he died, and Stroud is reported to have been lynched in Illinois for hoarse stealing.
Two railroads touch the township, the Michigan Central crossing the northwest corner, and the Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago, the southwest corner. The soil of the township is generally sandy, too much so to be equal to some other parts of the country in the production of grain, but is well timbered, and its warm, sandy soil is highly favorable for fruit raising. This occupation engages much of the attention of the inhabitants. There are some marshes in the township, which are excellent grazing grounds for cattle, and which with proper care, could be made to produce abundance of hay. The resources of the township are yet undeveloped, but it contains elements of wealth in its timber, its capacity for stock-raising, the production of fruit and potatoes, and fair returns of grain.
Some portions of the township are quite thickly settled, and the inhabitants have shown a sufficient interest in education, to cause the erection of a good school house in every neighborhood. Among those how now live, or but recently lived in the township, and who came early to the county, are Calvin W. Hayes Who is a farmer residing near Springville; E. S. Ogran, who is a farmer and saw mill owner, came to the county in 1836, and has held various positions of official trust; J. S. Vardeman, a miller, who came in 1836; John A. White, a native of the county, born in 1836; Elihu Bishop, a farmer, born in the country in 1835; and Edward King, who came from Ohio to this county in 1832.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 - Transcribed for La Porte Co. Gen Web by Christine Scott 9 March 2006.
The township of Union includes the whole of the Congressional township number thirty-five, range two west, the twelve southern sections of township thirty-six ,same range, sections twenty- five and thirty-six of township thirty-six, range three west, and sections thirteen, twenty-four and twenty-five in township thirty-five, range three west. It thus contains fifty-two sections and is the largest in the county. At the organization of the county, the territory embraced within its limits was in the township of Kankakee as then constituted, with a narrow strip in SCAP. When Pleasant township was organized, Most of this territory was and so remained until the 4th day of March, 1840, when the
Board of Commissioners’ at their regular March session made the following order:
“On petition of sundry citizens of the townships of Pleasant SCAP and Noble, for the formation of a new township: It is ordered by the board that a new township be formed by taking off apart of the above named townships, to be known by the name of Union township ,and to be bounded as follows, to wit: Beginning at the Center or half mile stake on the north side of section twenty-six , in township thirty-six, north of range three west, on road, thence south along said road on the open line of sections twenty-six, thirty-five ,two, eleven, fourteen, twenty- three, twenty-six and thirty-five to the south line of township thirty-five thence east along said to the southeast corner of township thirty-five, range two west, thence north on range line to the north-east corner of section twenty-five, township thirty-six, range two , west, thence west on the section line to the place of the beginning. Ordered that an election be held for the purpose of electing one Justice of the Peace of said township on the first Monday of April next, and that Abraham Reynolds is appointed inspector of elections for the said township of Union until his successor is elected and qualified , and that elections for said township be held for the present at the house of George W. Reynolds in said township. Since that time there have been several changes of boundaries effected, until now it occupies the territory of already designated ,and includes a part of the congressional township on thee north in which Pleasant township is located , and on the west includes a part of the congressional townships naturally occupied by SCAP and Noble townships.
The Kankakee River passes diagonally across the southeastern part of Union township so that large part of it is Kankakee marsh. Two other smaller streams run southward across the westerly part of the township, which furnish several valuable mill sites. These creeks unite about two miles south of Kingsbury , and finally empty into the Kankakee in the northeast corner of Hanna township. Three railroads traverse Union township. The Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago railroad barely touches it in the northeast corner, less than one mile of the road being in the township; the Chicago and Lake Huron passes diagonally across seven sections in the northwest part of the township, and has a station at Kingsbury; and the Baltimore and Ohio crosses the township from east to west near its center, crossing
The Kankakee river within its limits and near its eastern border. Door prairie extends into Union township from the west, and Stillwell prairie from the north; and thus some of the prairie land of as excellent a quality as any in the county lies in this township.
The Kankakee marsh lands will eventually become far more valuable, for stock raising purposes. There is considerable timber in the township , chiefly oak, grown in sandy soil, strips of lie along-side , and extend into the marshes. This is the poorest land in the township and aside from the timber is the least valuable. These sandy “barrens”and the marshes occupy about three quarters of the area of the township. In the latter part of 1831 or the early part of 1832, the first settler came to the township and built a small cabin near the present residence of D.H. Norton. This was Thomas Stillwell, from whom the prairie takes its name. He was “border man”,and it is said he loved the company of the Indians better than that of the whites. He was sometime without white neighbors in the township, for it was not until 1833 that John Winchell came with his family and the township really began to be settled. John and Henry Vail came in the same year. Winchell built a small log grist mill and the Vails erected one also. Several other settlers arrived during this year. Among them were Henry Mann, whose children still live in the township; Henry Davis, father of Handy Davis who kept the first store in Kingsbury; Theodore Catlin, some of whose relatives still reside in the county; Daniel Finley; Mr. Kingsbury, from whom the village derives its name; Curtis & Joshua Travis; and probably also Daniel Low; who soon afterwards went to Michigan City and now lives in Coolspring township.
In the year 1834,Charles W. and M.S. Henry came from Geneva, New York and settled in t he township, and in the same year came Harrison Winchell & Norris J.. Winchell. Handy Davis came this year also and some of the Catlins , Joseph G. and Mead Catlin, the later of whom was an Advent preacher. David H. Norton arrived the same year. Norton and the two Winchells , Norris J. and Harrison still reside in the township. Lyman Winchell, a son of John Winchell ,and David Winchell went to California in an early day and died there. Nathaniel Thurber arrived this year also and Darius Sayles. A Mr. Skinner, who afterwards came to Union township, made a settlement this year in Noble, on a place now owned by Ira Way. Joseph Callison, long a resident of the township, had arrived the year before, but made his settlement in the edge of Noble. Jesse Winchell also, was one of the settlers in 1834. He occupied a place which was afterwards owned by Mr. Travis; but he left the settlement and now lives in Wisconsin. There were still other settlers this year, among them, Wm. Walbridge, who now lives in Wisconsin; Col. Josiah Grover, now of Valparaiso; Gustavus Everts. Who was the second Judge of the Circuit court; Wesley and John Diggins; and two brothers named Page, who were both old bachelors.
In the year 1835, there were so many arrivals that it would be quite impossible to note them all. Among them were Jacob Early, who lived many years in the county and until his recent death in the city of La Porte; and Dr. Sylvanus Everts who was the first physician in the township. Timothy Everts arrived the same year, but settled in the edge of Noble township and afterwards removed into Union. In this year a man by the name of Farmer arrived and opened a blacksmith shop in the township. He died in 1838, during the “sickly season”. His was the first blacksmith shop opened in the township. Ephraim Barney also, who now lives in the “South Woods” came in 1835, and George W. Reynolds, who now lives in Kingsbury and is justice of the peace. He settled in Kingsbury May 4, 1835, when there were but two others in the place, Farmer, the blacksmith , and Davis the merchant. Reynolds worked at the carpenter trade, and put up one of the first buildings erected in Kingsbury. The store building, now occupied by L.D. Brand, was built by him in 1836, and in the same year he put four other buildings. George W. Reynolds’ father, Abram A. Reynolds, came to Union township in 1836,arriving in June. He died in March 1874. In the same year there came among others, Jeremiah Hiser, whose widow still lives in the township.; Daniel Shaw, now in Michigan City; Rensselaer Shaw, who died in 1878; Jacob Fravel, who still resides in the township; Isaiah Atkins, still living on his original location; and John Evans, whose widow and daughter still live in the township.
In 1834 or 1835, David Winchell built a saw mill, which was erected in the township. In the spring of 1835, Jacob Early bought Winchells saw mill, and moved to the township in July. Early replaced the log grist mill with a frame structure, which stood for about 30 years. This was finally pulled down, the property having been sold to H.P. Lans, who built the present mill. This is the one at Kingsbury, and is now owned by Mrs. Bodley of Cincinnati, a sister of the Butterworth brothers. As already mentioned, Henry and John Vail built the first mill in the township. This was in 1833. It was a log structure and in 1837, they replaced it with a frame structure. Then they added a fulling mill and distillery, and in 1838, a wool carding machine also, John Vail died of apoplexy, passed into the hands of Lot and Edward Vail , and they sold it to Moses Butterworth about 8 years ago. He still owns the property ,but the carding mill, fulling mill and distillery were long ago discontinued. The only village in the township of Union was
This village was laid out in 1835.The following is the record as shown in the office of the county recorder: State of Indiana, } La Porte County, } ss “Personally came before me, the undersigned, recorder of deeds, within and for the county aforesaid, Henry Davis, proprietor of the town of Kingsbury, and acknowledging the filing of the above plat for record, February 6, 1838. B. Spurlock, R. L. C.” The first store in Kingsbury, as already mentioned, was opened by the father of Handy Davis. Theodore Catlin clerked for him, and managed the business of the store. After the death of Davis, Jacob Early opened a store in the village, and a man named Paul Clay was his clerk. Afterward, Polaski King opened a general store. Fred’k West of La Porte was his clerk, and managed the business fro him at Kingsbury. The store was sold to Preserve Wheeler, then it passed to into the hands of Hiram Burlingame who sold it to Mc Clung & Reynolds. They sold to John Page, and he sold it to Albert S. Mc Lane. He died in 1871, and Timothy Mc Lane kept the store for awhile. He afterwards removed most of his stock to Union Mills, and sold the rest to L. D. Brand, who opened his store January 1,1871, and has kept it ever since. Another general store was opened by Chapman & Craft in the spring of 1874. Mc Lane & Mc Clung were also engaged a short time in selling goods in a partnership.
Theodore Catling was the first postmaster, George W. Reynolds carried the mail to and from La Porte twice weekly , at a dollar a trip. The route was afterwards extended from Kingsbury to Union Mills, Bigelow Mills and Tassinong in Porter county, and when the Bigelow office was discontinued, the mail route changed from Union Mills to Hanna, on the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroads. The entire route has since ben discontinued, all post offices located upon it, now being served by the railroads. Albert S. Mc Lane was postmaster at Kingsbury during the time he sold his goods there, and upon his death in 1871, L. D. Brand was appointed and still holds the office. Farmer was the first blacksmith in Kingsbury , and there are now two, Robert Mecum and Charles H. Ingram. Besides the two blacksmiths at Kingsbury, there three other in the township, one at Catlins corners, one at Chatauqua corners and one at Big Island. John W. Dexter kept the first tavern, in the same building now called a hotel. It has always been known as the Kingsbury hotel.
The first school house in the township was built at Kingsbury in 1834. It stood where the Baptist church now stands, and the first church was built just across the street where the school house is now located, they having since changed places.
A drug store was established in the place January 1,1875,by W. W. Wilcox. A two story frame building was erected in 1860 or 61,by the Masonic fraternity, the second story of which is occupied as a Masonic Hall and Lodge room. In 1872, a two story school building was erected, under the superintendence of Edward Hawkins, who was the township trustee. The upper story was of this building is used as a town hall. The village church belongs to the Baptist denomination which held meetings in the township probably earlier than any other church organization. Meetings were held at school and private houses until the erection of the church edifice at Kingsbury, which occurred about 1852. Besides this Baptist church, there is a Methodist church building at Mann’s corners which was built about 1860,and the Lutherans (Germans), have erected a church edifice during the present year.
What has now been mentioned, including two grist mills, a repair shop for guns, clocks, etc., several carpenters, and the shipping interest at the railroad station, constitutes the present village. The people of the vicinity had long been anxious to secure a passage of a railroad through Kingsbury; and in 1873, their wishes were gratified by the completion to and through the town, of Peninsular railroad of Michigan, now called the Chicago and Lake Huron railroad. This has given a much brighter outlook to the business prospects of Kingsbury, as it has already become quite a shipping point for grain from the surrounding farms.
George W. Reynolds was the carpenter who built the first frame house in Kingsbury, and it is now occupied as a dwelling by his son-in-law, Mr. D.P. Grover. Rover succeeded Edward Hawkins as trustee of the township in 1872, and in 1874 ,H. P. Ellsworth was elected to this position. There are five schoolhouses in the township, all of them good and comfortable buildings. One of the first school teachers was Joel Butler who was elected County Auditor in 1848. Rev. Phineas Culver was the first Baptist preacher, and Elder Holmes the first Christian preacher. Rev. James Armstrong, who was sent as a missionary to the La Porte county, and who settled on a farm near Door Village, preaching in all the country round about, was probably the first Methodist to preach in the township.
Some of the celebrated “Indian Mounds” are found in this township on section 21. Considerable excavations have been made in them through the efforts chiefly of Dr. T. Higday of La Porte; and a number of relics have ben found which are on exhibition in the rooms of the Natural History association.. Th relics obtained must be of a very remote date, as on some of the mound trees were growing ,nearly two feet in diameter. They are undoubtedly of Indian origin, but when were made ,by what tribes, and for what purpose, are problems whose solution can not be readily be given. Agriculture is the leading industry of this township, which together with that of stock raising constitutes nearly the whole employment of the people, the township being well adapted to these two connected industry.
Among the prominent farmers of the township, most of whom have lived here many years, are Abel Vail, W. W. Travis, W. H. and N. J. Winchell, Isaiah Atkins, J. A., G. W. and E. Travis, Wm. L. Mc Donald, Wm. Reynolds, Joseph Schoff, Moses Vandermark, H. E. and S. J. Norton, F. B. Miller and Henry W. Miller, Joseph Hiser, S. S. Hay, Daniel N .Hay, Thomas Hiser, Hugh Glasgow, Wm. H. Geer, James Good, Theodore Hupp, A. E. Barney, R. D. Craft, O. H. Chapman, Daniel B. Collings, Wm. Crow, Wm. S. Cox, J. Dudley, W. W. Demyer, D. P. Glosser, E. S. Ellsworth, W. Ewing, and Franklin S. Grover.
Among those farmers and stock raisers are Hosea Barnes, Wm. Demyer, Charles Donicheck, A. P. Lilly, John Moyer, and others. Noah Travis is a farmer and a saw mill owner; George W. Reynolds is a farmer and a justice of the peace; Moses Butterworth is a farmer, miller and grain buyer; E. J. Dicks is a farmer and stock dealer and D. P. Grover is a farmer and former township trustee. The only physician in the township is Dr. H. N. Ellsworth.
Union township has scarcely begun to be developed. Its productive capacity might be increased far beyond its present measure; and when the marshes are drained as they will be in time, they will unfold a body of land of wonderful productiveness. With a convenient market for grain and hay, these products must continue to increase year to year, while the raising of stock also will become more and more important and profitable pursuit. With a continuance of the enterprise already exhibited by the inhabitants, the growth of the township in wealth and influence is sure.
Transcriber's Note: March, 2006: The History of Townships, Cities & Towns contained in the county history section of La Porte County Gen Web is based on Jasper Packard's 1876 History of La Porte County, Indiana. Those chapters, however, have been summarized by volunteers.
At their April session, 1904, the county commissioners granted the petition of one hundred and thirty-two property owners of Union Township for a division of that corporation, the lower or southern half being made a separate township, and the upper or northern half being made a new township. The southern half retains the old name – Union Township – while the northern half which contains Kingsbury, is known as Washington Township. D. H. H. Long, trustee of the old Union Township, was appointed trustee of Washington Township and Samuel A. Lambert was appointed trustee of Union Township. Diverse interests, the unwieldy size of the old township and differences of opinion concerning the construction of new school buildings and new bridges and ditches were the grounds of the petition.
On June 26, 1904 Washington Township Trustee H. H. Long, M.D. let a contract for $10,000 for the erection of a new school building at Kingsbury to contractor Charles O. Larson of La Porte.
The history of Washington Township is synonymous with that of Union Township because it was part of it for so many years. The southern part of the original Union Township contained a lot of marsh land and did not settle as fast as the part which is now Washington Township. The first settler of the area was Thomas Stillwell whom the first settlers found living near Norton Lake with an Indian squaw, but soon left once other settlers began to arrive. The next settler was William Winchell who followed an old Indian Trail to where Kingsbury is now, but later moved to the area of the Winchell School. Jesse Morgan bought land in Sec. 36 and helped John and Henry Vail build the first mill of logs. Afterwards they built a frame mill, distillery, carding mill and fulling mill. They also added a store to carry general merchandise. Henry Vail left for the 1849 gold rush and died there in the 1850’s. When John Vail died, the property went to Lot and Edward Vail and they later sold it to Moses Butterworth.
There were no flour, grist or feed mills of any significance in the township and there was not sufficient timber to attract many sawmill men. However, John Winchell came in 1833 and built a small log saw mill. The same year Henry Davis opened a store where Kingsbury is now. Also coming in the same year were Henry Mann, Theodore Catlin, Mr. Kingsbury, for whom the village was named and Curtis and Joshua Travis. In 1834 Charles and Michael Henry, Harrison Winchell, Norris Winchell, Handy Davis, Mead Catlin, David H. Norton, Nathaniel Thurber, David Sayler and Jesse Winchell arrived. John Evans came 1835 and purchased the Winchell mill. Others arriving in 1835 were Ephraim Barney, Abraham Reynolds, George Reynolds, Jermiah Hiser, Daniel Shaw, Jacob Fravel, Rensselear Shaw and Isaih Atkins.
The first store in Kingsbury was opened by Henry Davis. Theodore Catlin was first postmaster and Henry Farmer was the first blacksmith in the village. The first school house was built in 1836 where the Baptist Church now stands and it was also used as a church. The second school in the township was also built in 1836 in the Winchell neighborhood. Kingsbury is the only village in the township.
Condensed from Daniels, Rev. E. D., A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of La Porte County, Indiana. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, 1904 and McDonald, Gene, The History of Pioneer La Porte County. 1970 by Patricia Gruse Harris, March 2006.
Wills Township was carved out of the original township of Kankakee in March, 1834, at the March term of the Board of County Commissioners. The first settlers of Wills Township were John Wills and his sons, Charles, Daniel, and John E. who reached the township in the year 1830. They made their home on Section 6 which was known as “Bootjack”. This was probably the first settlement of a family, but Asa Warren claims to have been the first white man in the township, having come in 1829. Settlers coming in 1830 were Andrew Shaw, Joseph Lykins, John Sissany, and John S. Garoutte, and in 1831 there came James Wills, Mathias Dawson, David Stoner, Dr. Chapman, and others. Before the Indian Treaty, most of the land was owned by the Indian Chief Sangansee who went to Kansas in 1838. Chief Sangansee came back from Kansas saying he could not live without maple sweet (the sugar made from maple sap). The brothers who established Notre Dame cared for him until he died. He is buried at Notre Dame.
John Hefner arrived in the township, probably in 1832; and John Starrett bought an “Indian Float” and settled on it in 1833. Jacob Gallion, Jesse Willett, Nimrod and Jesse West, and J. Clark were early settlers. In March of 1834, John Bowell made his home in Wills Township. The first frame house in the township was erected by Joseph Lykins. George Hunt with a family of six sons arrived in 1835. In the same year an Indian by the name of Noaquette Luther Rice opened a trading post at the settlement of Bootjack.
The origin of the name of Bootjack has two different versions. One source says the name is derived from the manner in which the roads converged, another that a drunken tramp came to town and stopped at the tavern. He was thrown out of the tavern after being refused any more whiskey and exclaimed “I christen this place Bootjack” as that was what he had just received. Residents of the township in 1835 were: John Wills, Asa Warner, John Sissany, Andrew Shaw, David Stoner, Jesse N. West, Howell Huntsman, Mr. Kitchen, Dr. Chapman, Matthias Dawson, George Lykins, John Sutherland, Joseph Starrett, Wm. Ingraham, Scott West, John Hefner, Jesse Sissany, Wm. Nixon, Wm. West, Gabriel Drollinger, Andrew Fuller, John Vickory Nimrod West, Jacob Glygeau, Jonathan Stoner, John Clark, George Belshaw, Samuel Van Dalsen, Martin Baker, Jesse Collum, John Galbreath, Bent Galbreath, and Mr. Gallion. In June of 1836 a Baptist church was organized at the house of James Hunt. In 1837 a Baptist church was built on the George Belshaw grounds. The log chapel was torn down in 1843 and a new frame church built near it. It later became a school. Those living in Wills Township in 1876 were: B. C. Bowell, physician and surgeon, Henry Brown, retired farmer; Jonathan Drulinger, farmer and auctioneer; Phillip Haussauer, farmer and Lumberman; Joseph Hostetler, farmer and stock dealer; Wm. S. Hastings, farmer and Baptist preacher; Isaac Miller, farmer and German Baptist preacher; John Zigler, farmer, stock dealer, and trustee of the township. Other township farmers were Wm. Alfont, Horatio Wilcox, Jacob Stoner, Joseph Reese, A.J. Parnell, Elijah McCellan, R.J. Mills, Harry Bennett, B.F. Brown, Peter Bunton, W.H.Carr, E. Cosgriff, Gabriel Drollinger, Obadiah Dawson, A.D. and John France, David Harris, Wm. H. Hunt, J. A. Hastings, and C.H. Harris.
Condensed from Packard, Jasper, History of La Porte County, Indiana, and Its Townships, Towns and Cities. S. E. Taylor & Company, La Porte, 1876 - Transcribed for La Porte County Gen Web by Gloria D. Arndt, 26 February 2006