of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.

Thomas Marshall Birthplace Moved to "Final" Location
by Ferne Baldwin

September 30, 1994 was the big day. Once more the birthplace of Thomas Marshall was loosened from its moorings and for the third and, we hope, final time it was maneuvered down the street to its new niche on Market Street. Ninth Street between Walnut and Market was closed in the early morning. Market was closed as the school-bus morning runs were finished.

The utility companies were most cooperative as they took down lines and then replaced them after the house passed through. The entire process of moving the house five blocks required about two and a half hours. Many school children and adults lined the streets to watch.

The new location is just off the southern end of Halderman Cemetery/Halderman Park on property owned by the town. Nearby the standpipe casts its shadow on the house and soon the new town library will be a newcomer amid these historic structures. Since Market Street is increasingly one of the town's main thoroughfares it is an appropriate location for the birthplace of a former Indiana Governor and a two term Vice President of the United States under President Wilson.

The Tyner house, formerly located at this site, has been moved to a location in the 800 block of North Walnut and may soon be listed for sale. The lot where the Marshall House recently stood may also be listed for sale. Both properties will provide funds for an endowment for the maintenance of the Marshall House.

Restoration of the Marshall house is underway. Now, for the first time, there is a basement under the house. It will be used for storage and for utility needs. A dormer and other recent additions have been removed. The new shingle roof draws the eyes and lends an air of nostalgia.

Further restoration and interior work will progress slowly. If anyone has suggestions of authentic furnishings from the 1850's the committee is eager to have information about them.

Earthquakes in Indiana
by Ferne Baldwin

An earthquake jolted much of the Midwest on an evening in June, 1987.

Depending on what you were doing at that moment you may not have noticed it. If you were weeding your garden, you didn't feel a thing but if you were sitting at the table, you felt the house moving. That was the general pattern. If you were outside or in a car you didn't notice it. One family saw the water rippling in the swimming pool. One saw the rocking chair rocking.

At Lance's soup fell off the shelves on one side of the aisle and cookies on the other side. The North Manchester Police reported about 50 inquiries, but no damage was reported. Officially, the quake was reported centered at Lawrenceville, Ill and registering 5.0 on the Richter scale.

Much more serious damage might have been reported in 1811 when the most powerful earthquake ever in North America occurred in the Midwest. But at that time North Manchester was not a reporting station since it did not yet have its first European settler. In fact at the time of this traumatic event there were no seismographs, no professional scientists and only a few settlers in the areas influenced by the quake.

During the winter of 1811-1812 the New Madrid fault located at the edge of the country in the Mississippi Valley began to release strain energy and
thousands of earthquakes resulted. Three quakes were especially great each exceeding 8. Even five aftershocks were felt as far as Washington D.C. Perhaps as many as fifteen million people now live in the area which suffered the greatest damage.

The Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act was passed by Congress in 1977. The act called for improved planning in six regions of the U.S. to prepare for earthquake contingencies. One area was the Mississippi Valley.

The quakes began in the early morning of December 16, 1811 and one observer counted 27 shocks before daylight. A Louisville engineer and surveyorcounted 1874 shocks by March l5, eight of which he classed as violent. At Cincinnati a pendulum "never ceased to vibrate in nearly five months."

Most of the descriptions of the earthquakes speak of the tremendous noise, of liquid spurting into the air, of trees being blown up, cracking, splitting and falling. There were many holes in the surface of the earth. Other areas were raised. There were great cracks in the earth, many filled with muddy water. Residents no longer trusted the safety of their homes and many moved to tents.

At three in the morning of February 7 there was a great convulsion which came to be called the "hard shock". By this time there was a rather general mass exodus of people but there were many barriers. In many places the surface of the earth was either thrust up or depressed. The water temperature was noted as warm. Sand blows - eruptions of sand, coal and organic matter were everywhere.

The Mississippi River was the center of a dramatic struggle. There was heavy traffic with several types of boats. The first steamboat to navigate in these waters left Louisville just as the quakes started and some believed this new technology was responsible for the earthquake itself. There were major changes in the river's course especially in the region of Memphis. Falls developed though some were temporary. Islands disappeared. Large sections of river banks fell into the water - some destroyed boats which were anchored along the banks.

There is the persistent notion that the river ran backward at one time. Some explain this perception as a sort of tidal wave effect from a combination of falling debris and actual shifts in the bed of the river. But careful observers confirm that the river's current was pushed back upon itself and cite the appearance of the trees on the banks. Volcanic like discharges of matter to great heights were seen.

Reelfoot Lake in western Tennessee, east of New Madrid was created by the earthquakes. It was the result of a sand blow near the mouth of Reelfoot Creek which obstructed the river. The bottom of the lake is often described as the former floor of a forest and the tops of trees projected above the surface of the water. Three significant domes were also formed.

In the midst of all this the voyage of the first steamboat, New Orleans, was continuing. Those on the boat could see the movement of the trees and the caving of the banks and the boat pilot became more and more confused as the landmarks along the river disappeared. There was unusual silence on the boat and the dog moaned and growled. One island to which they were moored disappeared during the night and the hawser had to be cut.

Strange effects were noted in contemporary writing. Several persons riding horses recount how the horses stood still and braced their legs. One was described as groaning and the rider believed the horse was dying. Wild animals were found at daylight collected in the yards and gardens of the residents. People experienced both physical symptoms and psychological disorientation. Many counted the fear of being swallowed by the earth as most frightening.

Actually, the exact number of deaths will never be known. More died in the river than on land and most of the deaths on land were from drowning. There were no reports of buildings collapsing and causing deaths. Many attempted to describe the sounds as a distant rumble of thunder or as a carriage on a paved road or even as the sound of heavy artillery. There were many descriptions of flashes of light or a red glow in the sky. A smell of sulfur or of brimstone was frequently mentioned.

After the first shocks the people of New Madrid gathered to give thanks for their deliverance. Preachers were quick to take advantage of the fear and uncertainty. Sinners were known to fall on the floor in terror. The majority of settlers were not churchgoers. The earthquakes resulted in major gains in membership for most of the churches. The Methodist church in the Midwest, for example, gained about 15,000 members from 1811 to 1812.

Indians had a legend of a great earthquake in this region. A trench dug across the fault zone has given evidence of at least three major earthquakes over the past two thousand years. A powerful earthquake was felt on October 31, 1895. Since 1909 a seismograph network at Saint Louis University has recorded the continuing activity. In 1968 and again in 1976 significant shocks occurred. This is one of the regions in the United States in which there is a probability of very destructive earthquakes. For such population centers as St. Louis or Cincinnati, Memphis or Cairo, Illinois that forecast may cause serious concern. But even North Manchester may be subject to a sound shaking at some future time.

Sources for further reading: The New Madrid Earthquakes by James Lal Penick, Jr.

"The Evaluation of Earthquake Hazard in the Central Mississippi Valley,"
American Nuclear Society Transactions 26 (1977):126 by Otto W. Nuttli

"Quakes along the Mississippi," Natural History 89 (August 1980): 70-75.
"America's Greatest Earthquake," Reader's Digest 94(April, 1969): ll0-114.

Wabash County History- Chester Township

Materials in this issue are taken from History of Wabash County Indiana 1884
T. B Helm Author & Editor. Everything in this issue comes from the section on Chester Township which was prepared by Mr. L. H. Newton.

Chester Township is situated in the northeast corner of Wabash County and comprises an area of about sixty-six square miles. Kosciusko County bounds it on the north. Whitley and Huntington Counties on the east, Lagro Township on the South, and Paw Paw and Pleasant Townships on the west. . . .In the southeast portion of the township, a large tract of land was returned by the surveyors as "swamp land" and for many years was passed by ... by those in search of homes, under the belief that it was comparatively worthless; but after the more eligible tracts had been taken up, this locality was settled by an industrious, energetic colony, mostly of German birth, who, by a system of artificial drainage, have transformed the "Bear Swamp" into a beautiful and fertile region.

Eel River is the principal water-course of the township. Entering at the north part, it flows in a southwesterly direction, passing on its way the towns of Liberty Mills and North Manchester .... Its confluent streams inthis township are Simonton Creek in the northern part, and Pony Creek, which flows from the southeast part, joining the river near Manchester. Bear Grass Creek has its source in the southern portion of the township, and, flowing west, forms a confluence with the river in Pleasant Township.

Pony Creek perpetuates by its name a legend of the early days, though in later years it almost lost its identity in the name "Ogan's Creek," which was attached to it in memory of the man who built the first mill upon its banks,and as a kind of compromise it now bears both names -- "Ogan's Creek" extending from Manchester for several miles up stream, and "Pony Creek" being recognized as the correct name from that point to the source. The legend runs to the effect that in the very early years, when there were but few white settlers in this portion of Indiana, and the lands of Chester Township were still roamed by their original possessors - the Miamis - a band of white desperadoes organized under the leadership of one Wicks, to steal the ponies of the Indians. Their plan was successful for awhile but in the end the band was dispersed, and their leader, it is supposed, met the well-merited reward of his crime.

Knowing of a place to which the ponies were attracted by luxuriant vegetation, they constructed a trap,... from which it was next to impossible for the animals to escape after once entering, and after securing them the robbers would seclude them in a pen constructed for that purpose ... until they could dispose of them. The outlaws, it is said, had their headquarters in a hut on the farm (later owned by Lewis Dailey in Section 20). Within a few years, however, the pioneers, good and law-abiding citizens, began to make this an unfavorable locality for such nefarious proceedings, and to add to the discomfiture of the gang, the Indians finally discovered their mode of operation, and on several occasions pursued them very closely, though it is believed they never came upon them.

By a treaty with the Miami Indians the lands south of Eel River passed to the possession of the U.S. Government and were made subject to entry by settlers in 1828 or 1829. Capitalists, with an eye to the future appreciation in values, entered large tracts of these public lands at the nominal price established by the Government ($l.25 per acre). and held them unimproved until the demand of later years would enable them to realize a handsome profit upon their investment. These men, while their names are coupled with the earliest dates on the record of entries, were never settlers, and as a matter of fact retarded the settlement of the township to some extent.

Persons in search of land would visit this locality, and, upon finding the tracts they desired already entered, they would purchase and locate where land was still to be obtained at the government price. Thus, while there were a few who settled in the township prior to 1836, the majority of pioneers came after that date.

Probably the first white settler within the present limits of the township was a man by the name of Brewer who came in December, 1833, and located near the present site of North Manchester. He remained here during that winter, but in the following spring removed to Wabash, where, it is said, he kept a boarding house for the accommodation of the workmen on the Wabash & Erie Canal, then under construction.

The real settlement of the township began with the advent of Col. Richard Helvy, in March, 1834. His was a lonely life, notwithstanding the fact that his family was with him in his isolated home. He had no neighbors but the Indians and wolves, with either or both of whom he would have parted without regret had his own inclinations been consulted. And as far as his eye could reach, a dense growth of timber confronted him, reaching almost to the very door of his little cabin.

In September, 1834, he was joined by a neighbor, James Abbott, whose name is quite as prominently linked with the settlement and improvement of the township as that of its first settler. Not a great distance intervened between their respective locations. Col. Helvy located on the bank of Eel River about a mile northeast of North Manchester, and Mr. Abbott located on the same stream about two miles above the present site of Liberty Mills. In that period of sparsely settled neighborhoods these few miles were thought little of, and the Helvys and Abbotts were intimate friends as well as "near neighbors". Together they undertook the task of hewing out farms from the surrounding wilderness, and for years afterward they were hand-in-hand in the public improvements of the township.

Col. Helvy was a native of Virginia, but removed to Indiana at an early day, locating near Indianapolis. In 1831 or 1832, he removed to La Gro in Wabash County and was engaged in agricultural pursuits at that point until his removal to Chester Township. Here he cleared and improved a large farm of more than a hundred acres, and for a number of years was devoted to its cultivation. In later year, however, he removed to North Manchester and kept hotel on the corner of Main and Walnut streets. He died at a ripe old age, having lived to see the forest transformed into a thriving farming community, and to witness the many changes and improvements that followed in the tread of the pioneer army.

James Abbott was a native of South Carolina, and a man whose early life developed within him those qualities of self reliance and energy which are so essentially a part of the "make up" of the true pioneer. Left an orphan at a tender age, he was bound out to a slave-holder, from whom he afterward escaped, on account of severe treatment, and made his way to North Carolina.

From that time he knew he must depend upon himself alone, and through various vicissitudes he fought his way to manhood. About the year 1800, he removed to Ohio, and was subsequently a soldier under Gen. Wayne in his campaigns against the Indians. In August, 1834 he came to Wabash County, and entered a tract of land on Eel River, upon which he located. Here he cleared and improved a large farm to the cultivation ofwhich he gave his attention for many years. He died in 1867 at the age of ninety- one years.

Before the close of 1834 two other settlers, with their families, joined in the work of improvement, and both were prominently identified with the history of the township. These were John and Peter Ogan. The former located on the south side of Eel River, not far from North Manchester and erected a rude corn mill on the bank of the creek which bears his name. Peter Ogan settled within the corporate limits of North Manchester. He erected a flouring and saw mill on the bank of Eel River and was engaged in various enterprises during the period of his residence in this community. In later years, however, he sold his interests here and removed to another locality.

Early in 1835, John Simonton came to unite his fortunes with those of the little colony in the woods. Pushing his way up Eel River in a boat that contained himself, his family and his household goods, he disembarked andproceeded to the place which he had settled for a home. He cleared and improved a large farm, and was long identified with the history of the township. Henry Strickler came in February, 1836, and located on the south bank of Eel River about a mile below North Manchester. He cleared and improved a fine farm, and lived to a ripe old age.

In September, 1836, Joseph Harter came from Montgomery County, Ohio, and located within the corporate limits of North Manchester. He purchased a large tract of land, comprising several hundred acres. Upon that portion of it lying along the river, and within thirty yards of the later Strauss and Shock Flouring Mill, he erected a little grist mill in 1839. Mr. Harter was a prominent citizen, and up to the time of his death was conspicuously identified with the material interests of the township. His sons, Jacob and Joseph B. were later representatives of the mercantile interests of the town.

Mr. Harter was followed, in the fall of 1836, by his son, Eli Harter, Daniel Swank and Michael Knoop. Eli Harter located in North Manchester, and erected the second house in the town. Daniel Swank located about two and a half miles north of North Manchester, where he cleared a farm, and was engaged in its cultivation until his decease. Mr. Knoop located near the line of Kosciusko County, in the northeast quarter of Section 20, and cultivated his farm until death. He was a prominent and highly respected citizen, and was identified with many of the improvements of his day.

During the years of 1837 and 1838, immigration progressed rapidly, and many new families joined the settlement. Among this number were William Willis, Asa Beauchamp, William Thorn and Mahlon Grame, all of whom settled in North Manchester and were associated with the early mercantile interest of the town. William Bickel and Michael Kircher located southwest of North Manchester, and Rudolph Krisher about a mile south. Anthony Clever came about the same time, and cleared a farm south of town, but in later years returned to his former home in Pennsylvania.

Allan Halderman came in 1838 and settled on a tract of land adjoining the town of North Manchester on the east, and Abram R. Switzer came in the same year and located in North Manchester where he established the first cabinet shop in the town. Gabriel Swihart came in 1839 and located two miles north of town where he cleared and improved a farm. He served one term as Representative in the Legislature of Indiana and was a prominent citizen. He died in Kosciusko County.

While North Manchester and its immediate vicinity were being rapidly settle, a similar colonization was taking place about two miles up the river. The land upon which the town of Liberty Mills now stands was purchased by James Abbott, who shortly afterward sold that portion of his estate to a Mr. McBride, it being stipulated that Mr. McBride should erect therein a grist mill. In 1836 John Comstock came to the township, and McBride sold the land to him, transferring with it the obligation which he had failed to fulfill.

Perhaps none of the early settlers of the township were more widely known or more prominently identified with its interests than Mr. Comstock. He was a man of great enterprise and fine business qualifications and the history of Liberty Mills and its various interests bear the impress of his identity. He was at one time the proprietor of a saw mill, a grist mill, a distillery, store, carding mill, giving his personal attention to each, and at the same time serving as President of the North Manchester & LaGro Plank Road. The saw mill was erected in 1837, with the view of sawing and preparing the timber for the framing of the flouring mill which was erected the following year. About ten years later, he erected the woolen or carding mill, five rods south of the present race bridge and about the year 1839 erected the distillery. Of these enterprises more will be said in another part of this chapter.

In 1837 Mr. Comstock laid out the town of Liberty Mills and upon one of the lots he erected a frame house in which he placed a stock of general
merchandise and was engaged in mercantile pursuits until 1861. During his life he was identified with nearly all of the public improvements and was frequently chosen to fill positions of honor and trust. In 1846 he was
elected Probate Judge and in 1858 was the Representative from this county in the State Legislature. About the year 1855 he introduced the first herd of short-horn cattle into the county and in the years that followed was actively engaged in the breeding of fine stock. At his death $5000 were realized from the sale of his herd at public vendue, from which an idea of their superiority may be gained. Mr. Comstock came to the township when its entire population was perhaps not more than half a dozen families. But he lived to see it grow into a populous and wealthy community and died in a good old age.

Among his neighbors who came shortly after the date of his own arrival, were John W. Stephens and Lewis J. Long. Mr. Stephens was the first Justice of the Peace elected in the township and Mr. Long served later in that capacity holding the office by repeated elections for well-nigh forty years. Bryant Fannin was also among the settlers of 1837, and Maurice Place, Isaac Place, John W. Williams and Clark Williams came in the same year.

The settlement of the southern and southeastern portions of the township began at a later date from the fact that much of the land in those localities was owned by speculators and it was not until after the Government land remaining unsold had all been taken up that these lands began to find purchasers. Among the first who located in this portion of the township was Andrew Freshour, who came in 1840 or 41. Shortly afterward Mr. Hoffman settled near him and Peter Wright located in Section 27 in 1845. In 1847, Jacob Misener located in Section 27 and during the next two years came William Ensley, John Shippen, John Hogan, John Bush, Rankin Hoover, Peter Honius, William Honius, Samuel Mowrer Jacob Wright and others. Curtis Pauling located on a farm in1853 but had been a citizen of the township for ten years engaged in mercantile pursuits in North Manchester.

Among the early settlers locating in the "Bear Swamp" and its vicinity prior to 1836 were Caleb Antrim and George Dillon. In October, 1837 came Jesse Jenks; also Fleming and James Ayers and their widowed mother; Thomas Gilmore, too, at the same time settled on Section 18. Soon thereafter came Michael Burk, who located about one mile east of the Jenks settlement and in 1838 Payton Daniels located about two miles south of said settlement. Jonathon Hamilton and Stephen Jenks came together in 1840. Following these came Alfred and Enos Hornady who about 1841 located respectively on Sections 19 and 25.

Samuel Ridgley came about two years later and Cornelius Wilson came about1849. Nathan Hiland, Henry Howenstein, Hiram Filson, Enoch Harter and Lewis Harter came during 1850 and 51. Jacob Scheerer came in the fall of 1854, andlocated in Section 30 and Frederick Rickert came in the same season and located on the land adjoining Scheerer on the north. John Burkhart, Frederick Walter, Mr. Fishley and Xavier Sell came during the late fall of 1854, while Justus Gemmer and others came in 1855.

Thus within a period of but little more than twenty years the settlement which began along the banks of Eel River had become diffused over sixty-six square miles of territory, and in every quarter of the township was heard the ring of the pioneer's ax mingled with the sounds of the giant trees as they fell to give place to the cleared fields that everywhere blossomed in the heart of the wilderness. Game of all descriptions still ran wild in the forests and venison was the most popular meat on the daily bill of fare. So plentiful were the deer at that time that the problem of meat was not a serious one to a good marksman. Wolves made night hideous by their howls, to such an extent that the settlers were often robbed of their much needed rest. A war of extermination was decided upon and, at first, carried on singly. But afterward concerted action was taken and the settlers from miles around would join in a wolf hunt and surround a swamp or other known rendezvous of the marauders, sending in men and hounds to "beat the bush" and scare the game from its lair. It was pretty sure to run within range of a trusty rife in the hands of a deadly foe, and by frequent repetitions of this sport the settlers were ultimately rid of their disagreeable neighbors and their sheep and pigs slept undisturbed. At one of the hunts in 1849, seven wolves were killed in one afternoon.

To be continued....

North Manchester's Neighbors - towns of this area.


Packerton came into being as a railroad town in 1882. It was laid out by John C. Packer following the construction of the New York, Chicago and St.Louis Railroad. I.N. Lucas opened a hardware store and built the town's first brick home in 1883. Other early settlers were L.C. Wiltshire who was a druggist and William Walther who operated a hotel.


The town of LaGro was incorporated on June 25, 1859.


The village of LaFontaine in the southern part of Liberty Township is named for the Indian Chief of the Miamis, Francis LaFontaine. His Indian name was Topeah. His mother was Miami and his father was French. He was born near Ft. Wayne and spent his early life there. When he was twenty-one years old, he married one of the daughters of Chief Richardville. At the chief's death he was made head of the tribe and moved to the Forks of the Wabash, near Huntington. In the fall of 1846 he accompanied some members of his tribe to their western reservation and he died on the way back. From all accounts he was a man of striking appearance and in later years he weighed about three hundred pounds. He always dressed in Indian style.


The platting of Roann was laid out by Joseph Beckner in June of 1853. The surveying had been done by Elijah Hackelman. In that same year, Mr. Beckner who owned much of the land in the area sold out to Mr. Hackelman. He opened the first store and established a sawmill.

The postoffice was opened in 1860 with John F. Baker as Postmaster. Roann's existence did not seem certain, however, until the railroads reached town. By the early 1880's the town was a brisk little village with a population of 600 people. There were l00 dwellings, several churches and a schoolhouse. By 1910 the population was 447.

An elevator was erected in 1871 by David Smith. In 1900 the Lewis Bros became the proprietors. The Exchange Bank of Roann was established in 1882. The Methodist Church was formed sometime before 1873 and the United Brethren organized in 1859. The Universalists organized their progressive wing in1881. Early pastors of the Methodist church included Hosea Woolpert, J. J. Cooper, L.W. Munson, C. U. Wade, and David McElwee.

The school was established in 1900 and another wing was added in 1914. Superintendent of the Roann school in 1914 was J. Elmer Landis. The Principal was Laura E. Lynn and J.M. Wagoner was the trustee.


Pierceton was laid out in 1852 by Lewis Keith and John B. Chapman and named in honor of President Franklin Pierce. Chapman was a small businessman who operated a general merchandise store from his log house. The town grew and had three frame buildings by 1853.

A post office was established in 1854 with O. P. Smith as its first postmaster. The town's first doctor was William Hayes who arrived in 1855. Thirty years later Dr. Hayes purchased the Presbyterian Church and converted it into an opera house with a seating capacity of 400.

Pierceton went through an incorporating procedure in 1866.

The town's first brick school building was constructed in 1870 and the Alert Fire Company Number One was organized in 1876. The fire company was supported by over forty volunteer firefighters.


Laketon was platted by Hugh Hanna, Isaac Thomas and J.D. Cassett. This was the first town that was not laid out on a river and it was the ambition of the founders to make it a rival for North Manchester and a large trading center. James Cox had established a grist mill on Silver Creek, a mile west, but the first merchants were William Johnson and Ira Burr.

Within a few years there were a few stores and a blacksmith shop. In the1880's it had a school house and a newspaper, The Laketon Herald, established in 1883 by Charles A. Edwards, an experienced printer.

In 1873 the Detroit, Eel River and Detroit Railroad was completed. South Laketon, an addition, was then laid out by Mr. Van Buskirk. This was called Ijamsville or South Laketon. By 1914 Laketon was still a small town with a flour mill, a depot for the Standard Oil Works, a good union school and six teachers. A state bank was organized in 1912. In 1914 the officers were Jacob Miller, President, Quincy A. Earl, Vice-President and George F. Ogden, cashier.

To be continued...