La Porte County Beginnings

The Early History
The first people known to have lived in La Porte county were the Pottawatomie, Ottowa, and Sac Indians. After the Indian wars, they were removed to Illinois by the U.S. government by 1838.

The first White man who walked the soil of La Porte county was Robert Cavelier La Salle, the famous French navigator, trader, and explorer. In the Autumn of 1679,
this intrepid adventurer with his little band, reached the upper end of Lake Michigan in their bark canoes. They worked their way southward and in December following,
La Salle with Hennepin and two other Franciscans and Tonty and about 30 followers, entered the mouth of the St. Joseph and paddled up the river to near the site of
what is now the city of South Bend. Here they left the stream, shouldered their canoes and struck for the head waters of the Kankakee river.
Striking the latter (probably somewhere in St. Joseph county) they embarked and floated westward camping the first night December 3d, 1679, in this county at the point
where Chamber's bridge now crosses the Kankakee. La Salle descended the latter, passing into the Illinois and finally stopping on the banks of Lake Peoria.
Here he built Ft. Crevecoeur (Heart-break) and being soon after compelled by misfortune to return to Canada, he with three companions came back east on foot in the depth
of winter (1680) keeping the Indian trail which ran through what is now La Porte [city], on the present line of North Main Street [renamed in the 1920s to State Street].
La Salle afterward renewed his journey, and pursued it to the mouth of the Mississippi River, thence returning to the place where New Orleans now stands; and in the name of
Louis XVI of France, he took formal possession of all the countries which he had discovered, including the county of La Porte in the year 1682.
(from a speech by Judge Mulford K. Farrand, June 1875 at the Old Settlers' Meeting)

The first White settlers to La Porte county were the Benedict family, who came here on 15 March, 1829, to an area just north of present day Westville.
In the following year, the first White baby was born to Henly and Sarah (Benedict) Clyburn and was named Elizabeth Miriam.

In the following years, a multitude of small settlements were started.

La Porte In 1832, a cabin was built here by Johnson and Eahart of Michigan for the family of George Thomas. The first White man to sleep in the cabin was a Wilson Malone
before the occupancy by the families of George Thomas, Wilson Malone, and Richard Harris. On July 1, 1832, La Porte saw its first marriage between Charles Vail and Olive Stanton.
They were joined by Charles Fravel, John B. Fravel, John and William Allison, Nelson Sandon. In 1833, La Porte was surveyed, laid out, and platted.
The original proprietors of the surveyed area were Wilson, Todd, Walker, and Andrews. By 1834, there were 15 houses in La Porte and, in 1835,
La Porte was chartered as a city and the county seat.

Michigan City Isaac Elston bought the land along the shore of Lake Michigan in 1830 and subdivided it into lots where the first log cabin was built by Jacob Furman and Joseph Bryant.
In 1833, the families of Samuel Webster, Samuel Flint, Thompson Francis, Joseph Orr, George W. Selkirk, and Samuel Miller were among the earliest to settle in this town.
In 1834, they were followed by George Ames, Leonard Woods, Sprague, Teall, Clark, and Forrester.

Westville The earliest settlers to this area were the families of Henly Clyburn (1836) and James Concannon. In 1848, William Cattron opened up a store here, and D.M. Closser started
a Dry-Goods store in 1849. Although among the earliest of settlements in La Porte county, this town wasn't platted until 1851 and was incorporated in 1864.

Union Mills 1832 was the year that Joseph Wheaton became a resident here and laid out this little town. In 1837, a grist mill was built here by Sylvanus Everts which
was called "Union Mills" from which the town took its name.

Rolling Prairie This town was created on May 25, 1831 by a party of people who came up from La Fayette, Indiana and consisted of the families of David Stoner,
Arthur Irving, Jesse West, and Ezekiel Provolt. Originally named Nauvoo, the site was platted as Portland in 1853, and renamed to Rolling Prairie in 1857.
Within a year of settlement, there were other families who joined them: Daniel Murray, James Hiley, Jacob Miller, John Garrett, Chapel W. Brown, Emory Brown,
together with the families of Harvey, Salisbury, Whitehead, James Drummond, Benjamin DeWitt, B.C. Bowell, J. Austin, Ludlow Bell, and George W. Barnes.

Waterford In 1833, in Cool Spring township, Nathan Johnson built a dam and established a settlement at this spot, laid out the town, and built a mill.

Mill Creek In the Fall of 1831, Horace and Lane Markham settled here and the creek that ran by was originally named after them, but was later called Mill Creek.

Door Village The area is called Door Prairie and the first cabin was built there about 1830 by Welsh and son who sold alcohol to the Indians. In 1832 Arba Heald built a second cabin.
In 1833, a store was opened by Good & Heming, the first frame house was erected by Harrison, and Hiram Parker put up a tavern.

Pinhook Originally called New Durham, the first house here was erected in 1834 by Leonard Woods and used as a store; he was joined by Hiram Wheeler in 1835 as a business partner.

Otis First known as Salem Crossing, Otis was settled in 1851 by Matthias Seberger, and in 1854 George B. Selkirk opened a general store.

Holmesville In 1833, Jacob Bryant built a saw mill and a cabin, which was later occupied by John Moorman. This place was laid out upon the lands of Hiram Holmes
and the plat was filed October 2, 1855; hence the name Holmesville. Until the turn of the century, 1900, the principal occupants of this town were German and Polish.

Boot Jack Settled in 1830 by John Wills at junction of Michigan-Joliet roads. Oldest Thoroughfare north of the Wabash. Rice, an Indian, opened a trading post here in 1835.

Springville In 1833 the town of Springfield was surveyed by Daniel M. Leaming, upon the lands of Judah Leaming. During this year, Gilbert Rose, Hiram Griffin and
John Griffin became settlers. In 1834 Ingraham Gould, Michael Fall, Ezekiel Blue, Abner Ross, Aaron Conklin, John Johnson, Henry S. Allen, John White, Mr. Ross,
A.N. Shippee, Mr. Lewis and Josiah Redding became settlers. About the same time David Pagin built another mill. During 1835, the first wedding took place,
Abner Ross marrying Esther Rose.

Kingsbury Kingsbury, Washington Township, La Porte County. When Kingsbury was laid out (platted) in 1835 by De Witt Culver, it was in Union Township.
Some time after 1880, Union was divided with the north section becoming Washington township. Originally Kingsbury had 300 lots, but was soon cut back to 51.
The first store here was opened by Henry Davis and, after his death, another one was started by Jacob Early. Mr. Brand opened up a store here in 1871 as did the Wineholt brothers.
By 1880, the town had two grist mills, two dry-goods stores, two blacksmith shops, a telegraph operator, a railroad station, a church, a 2-story school, and a grain elevator.
The school was a dual purpose structure as the top half was used as a town hall. The Masonic Fraternity had a 2-story frame building.

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