Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

Recipient of Indiana Historical Society's Awards--"2013 Outstanding Project Award" &
"2009 Outstanding Historical Organization".  Welcome to our web site!  Enjoy using this Portal to Our Past!

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  Copyright © 2009-2019
North Manchester
Historical Society
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our Center for History
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Preserving and Sharing
North Manchester & The Eel River Valley

The North Manchester Historical Society (NMHS) serves as the collector and caretaker of wonderful, unique and valuable artifacts and relics, photographs, articles, manuscripts and other materials pertaining to local history. NMHS members receive a quarterly Newsletter. We meet each second Monday of the month in the Timbercrest Assembly Room for a dinner meeting and interesting program presented by guest speakers.

The Center for History is located in the former Oppenheim's Department Store building. This building provides approximately 11,000 square feet of first floor exhibit space and 18,000 square feet of additional space for office, library, work areas, storage and other uses. More than 32,000 items have been accessioned in our collections. The exhibit area is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibits are closed to the public from mid-December to mid-March. Special tours of the museum can be arranged. For special arrangements, call 260-982-0672. Fascinating displays provide memories and tell the history of North Manchester and nearby communities in the Eel River valley. The facility also serves as a center for educational programs, reunions, local/family historical research, and community events.

Past NMHS-sponsored projects include supporting the preservation of the North Manchester Covered Bridge, naming of Ogan's Landing (canoe launch park), Halderman Cemetery and birthplace and home of Vice President Thomas R. Marshall, as well as the erection of historical markers and historical restoration of houses and buildings.

You are invited to become a member of the NMHS and to join us in the collection, preservation and interpretation of our area history! Donations of local family and historical artifacts are always welcomed. Your talents, financial support and volunteering are much needed! Bonding with our rich past will build a brighter future!

North Manchester Center for History
P.O. Box 361 --  124 East Main Street
North Manchester, IN 46962
Ph. 260-982-0672

Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 2000

Historical Society Summary

Given to the Jaycees, February 11, 1974 by Sara M. Allen

Ground breaking for the germination of the Historical Society of North Manchester was first promoted by our former NEWS-JOURNAL editor, Roland Schmedel.

In 1964 he, with the cooperation of Mary Louise Little, organized an Indiana Sesquicentennial Committee. Some of that group were more dedicated to the cause than others and met quite regularly until after the 1966 celebration. Mary Louise had been chairman of that group and called meetings when items of business arose which affected our community. Most of the group had a desire to continue our meetings and to organize an Historical Society. Herbert Priser was chairman of the nominating committee and Max and Sally Allen

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  were elected co-president and president with Mary Louise Little as vice-president. Florence Freed was appointed secretary-treasurer; Dr. Bunker and Bill Poston were to become directors; Rev. Homer Ogle, Allan Harris and Mr. Ernest Eschbach were appointed to form a constitution. Soon after, the organization started functioning and we applied and received an incorporation rating.

Mrs. Freed soon learned that a combined office of Secretary-Treasurer was too complicated and involved and as a result, Elaine Hawley was elected to fill the office of secretary. It also became apparent that with the number of items streaming in that an Historian should be named. Today, Barbara Speicher fills that office.

Two years ago in February, (1972) the first election was held with about 12 members present, but we have now grown into an organization numbering nearly 125. We consist of interested townspeople and some former residents who are concerned with our efforts and seem to be delighted with the advancement of the society. Many such persons have sent contributions to advance the cause.

I could say that one of our goals has been to create within the townspeople and those in surrounding areas a desire to take a second look at, and be convinced that our community has something to preserve in the areas of architecture and general culture.

Last week H. Roll McLaughlin, president of the Board of Directors for the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana spoke at the Chamber of Commerce dinner on restorations in the U.S. and many from our own state. The restorations made in Zionsville, were directed by him and his firm. Last August he made his first visit to N. Manchester by invitation of the Historical Society and spoke to an invited public in the Indiana Lawrence Bank's Community Room. He and Mrs. Leigh Freed took a brief tour of the town and when he viewed Main Street his comment was this: "Above the first story of the business buildings no finer architecture could be found anywhere."

Zionsville, a village smaller than ours, has taken on a new look, new businesses have located there and business is booming. In many places today citizens are capitalizing on this new-old look because people are tired of facing unadorned plastic cubical shapes. Take a look at Main Street and Walnut Street. Which fronts do you look at

[Continued on Page Twelve] Page Eleven

  with more interest?

Striving for a restoration of the original look is one of the goals set by our society. It not only will make a difference in general appearance, but will give added interest and attraction to outsiders. This spells -BUSINESS - and certainly this is a goal we are all collectively interested in.

Another goal also deals with a community project such as the acquiring of a place which most people describe as a museum. There are many factors to be considered when contemplating such an endeavor.

First, the historical significance, the age, the structural soundness, the cost, location, size and the general public interest would govern the choice of site and building. Yes, we have look at, we have considered, several possibilities, but, before the final decision is made I'd judge that muich more looking and consideration will take place. We have two committees appointed, one for restoration and one for acquiring and maintaining a museum. We have started a museum fund tnat will gladly accept contributions for its increase.

With the museum as a possibility we have at present acquired several museum items in the form of books and publications many of which have been very generously contributed by L.W. Schultz as well as letters, pictures, clothing, china, furniture, toys, et cetera.

We feel that our influence has already had a positive impact on the community both for young and old. It was by constant insistence and prodding of the County Commissioners before the state sesquicentennial in '66 that the covered bridge was restored. In 1972 we were able to have a rededication of the bridge at the end of its first 100 years of existence. Since this is the most northerly covered bridge in Indiana we should be proud that we can lay claim to having it in our midst.(Spencerville Bridge farther north ?)

The Education Committee of the Society has implemented a program for the 4th grades of our public schools which is planned in conjunction with their study of Indiana history. We finance a tour for every 4th grader in Chester Township and point out historical areas and significant buildings explaining WHY they are important. Dr. Bunker has been invaluable in relating the early history of the Indians

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  and early settlers as told to her by her grandmother and other elderly citizens of the past, living in and around this community. The condition of the old cigar factory with its distinctive Dutch style facade is in a deplorable condition. Had a consideration for the future been implanted in the minds of young people several years ago perhaps this building might be in a less dilapidated condition than it is at the present time. Our aim is to encourage citizens to restore rather than to destroy or allow losses to occur through disregard.

To date we have managed to help finance and to get donors namely the Frantz Lumber Co. to place markers at distinctive older houses and points of interest such as the Indian Trading Post which is on Main Street. In the future we will continue this practice where homes qualify for special designation.

To beautify the entrance to the covered bridge the society has built up the area at the west end and planted evergreens. We wish to add to this project this summer. To do so, we have proposed the planting of decorative trees where tree lawns are large enough to accommodate such additions. We also encourage every property owner to beautify his residence in a similar manner.

For the last two years we have cooperated with the Fun Fest and Child Care organization in producing material information for the house tour. Dr. Bunker has provided all of the lecture material plus arranging for slides taken by Mr. Allen under her direction to be shown prior to the tour itself. This year a lecture and slide program will be continued with James Overholt making the presentation. All of this is a part of winning a game. This is a game of harmony between members of the Society and a rapidly growing interest in reliving the past and relating our future to that foundation so strongly structured by our forefathers. 

  It can truthfully be said that we have never worked with a more cooperative friendly and interested group of people. We have no county, state or federal aid from designated funds so our fund-raising projects are strictly from local donations, individual efforts and personal energies provided by the members themselves.

Last summer we had interested donors who bought patches which made possible the completion of an Historic quilt. With 5 designers,

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  4 local women as seamstresses, plus 23 quilters a project of Bill Poston's conception came into being. Biddy Marks took the major responsibility of organization and after 3 months work the finished quilt was on display at the bank. The group now wishes to make another quilt for 1976, our national bi-centennial year.

Another successful project was the exhibition contest of painters portraying areas listed as historical in Chester Township. This effort brought painters from Ft. Wayne, Huntington, Logansport, South Whitley, Silver Lake, Warsaw, Wabash, Etna Green and N. Manchester. All of the participants were very complimentary of our efforts in this respect and responded to the degree that we held an exhibit of 50 paintings. Those exhibiting praised the society and town for their interest in the arts and the willingness of those businesses who made donations for cash awards. We feel that this activity was another which enabled others to know that we have an active historical society and an up and coming community.

To be continued

Source: NMHS Newsletter, February 2001

Historical Society Summary

Given to the Jaycees, February ll, 1974 by Sara M. Allen

(Continued from November, 2000 Newsletter)
In order to preserve past history we have an oral taping program organized whereby some of the older citizens can relate the past orally and have such information preserved. Our oldest citizen is Martha Farmer now in her 98th year and living at Timbercrest retirement home. She was a former Junior High school teacher who taught in the old building where the present Central Junior High school is located. Isaac Cripe, grandfather of Jim Taylor, is second oldest citizen. Many residents have reached four score years and several have reached four score and ten plus! Dr, Edward Kintner, a former science professor at Manchester College, has a keen mind and can relate much of the development of the College. It is contact with some of these people which has brought life to the society. Oscar Neher, another former science teacher, has helped to identify some of the antiques in the museum. We hope, in the near future to complete a systematic form of labeling for these items. The system was partially destroyed after a recent move to new quarters. Our desire is to have this museum opened to the general public in the foreseeable future.

One of the largest contributions to the group at Fun Fest was our first float given to us by the Manchester Builders who with the help of some sturdy members from the Society created a miniature covered bridge quite in keeping with the bridge centennial celebration.

Last summer Mary Louise Leckrone and the Russell Egolfs were put on a float committee for the Society. We thought that Pudge could manage anything mechanical which might be needed. From some old discarded News-Journals found in the city dump by Joe Leffel the story of the DeWitt automobile came to light. Judy Scheerer had zeroxed copies of a dozen sheets of facts about DeWitt, his home and factory plus workman's problems in the manufacturing of the 1909 -1910 auto and presented them to our organization. Immediately Pudge and Bill Poston went on a search for an old DeWitt car and found one in Ottawa, Ill, in a private museum. Due to the cost and complexity in bringing it to N. Manchester for the parade, Pudge, with

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  the aid of photographs taken of the original car, plus pictures and descriptions in the company's catalogue found in the local library, assigned himself a job that of reproducing the only local automobile manufactured for only one year 1909 - 1910. For one month he worked on his project and with the help of a few others managed to get the necessary parts for completion. The Historical Society entered the parade last year with more than just a "float" we had a collector's item with a monetary value of $3500. Not only was this a feat of mechanical skill, long hours of labor, and an interest in the past to make it live again in the present but a genuine concern for the community prompted Pat and Pudge to present the car to the Society as a memorial to the late Robert Floyd. The auto will be on exhibit in the building in which the original was first manufactured.

Not all the members are able to construct a covered bridge or an auto, but many members have given of their creative talents to better the financial status of the group. Some falling into this list are Allan White, Stephen Batzka, Orpha Weimer, Gladys Scheumann to name a few.

The question has been asked of us, "What will the Society hopefully do in the future?" We presume that the group will continue in the path already pursued, to help preserve, to educate the young for a deeper interest in their town, to increase the concern of all for making our community a more beautiful and unique place in which to live and a place where culture rates high.

A survey committee consisting of Dr. Bunker, Stephen Batzka and Allan White are planning a survey of the town where all buildings will be listed and the age of each recorded. The procedure for such an undertaking is being guided by the National Restoration Organization in Washington D.C. Early this spring Mr. Clubberson, of the Department of the Interior will be aiding them and will furnish proper registration forms. This is a monumental venture and must be the work of many assisting the main committee of three.

We have spoken only of buildings near us, but we have more than a passing interest in the destiny of the old mill at Roann. At present the condition is not beyond restoration possibilities, but it will take a combined effort with other groups in the county and state participat

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  ing if we can hope to save this site as a worthy historical spot. We welcome advice and help in any form to assist in preserving it in workable condition for the future.

As our Society continues to meet, more and more suggested items of interest and concern are presented. Most societies meet quarterly, semi-annually or annually. A closer and more frequent contact with our membership as a whole produces a more interested and active group than is evidenced in other communities. Thus far, this is a very receptive organization which accepts both advice and criticism with equal consideration.

It is our hope that these undertakings can all be successful realities and that more interested people see fit to join themselves with our membership. We welcome all members of the family to join and attend our monthly meetings on the first Monday of each month. The requirements for membership are simply that anyone be over 7 years of age with an interest in making our town a better, more beautiful and more prosperous place in which to live.

Anyone interested in joining our ranks should know that membership fee is $l.00 per year or $5.00 for sustaining membership and most important of all LIFE MEMBERSHIP for $100.00. (Amounts have changed several times through the years)

As representative of the Historical Society we have welcomed the opportunity to review our brief history, our objectives and goals, and our hopes for the future. This is really not OUR Society it is yours, also, since we strive to work for the betterment of our entire citizenry.

We might add, that when you carry on your two-day pick-up program each year if you see any throw-away items which could qualify as antique or collectibles REMEMBER the Society is collecting now and will be collecting from now on. Thank you for this opportunity to present this information to you and for your very kind attention.


Editors Note: This is true once again as it was it 1974. Check out the news flash on page fourteen. Finally the Society has room to begin collecting once again!

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Source: NMHS Newsletter, February 2001

Purchase Finalized

The North Manchester Historical Society is especially pleased to complete the purchase of the Historic Oppenheim Building on Main Street of the town. We believe this is an important step for the Society and for the Town. Our purpose is to plan a Museum that will be an attractive new asset for Main Street and which will also be an educational tool for the children and the adults of the town. So few children (and some adults) know little of the way of life of their grandparents. The Museum collection which has been held for more than ten years in the Town Life Center has been rather invisible. Now access will be easy and the location much more in the public view.

Our first activity at the Oppenheim site has been to create window displays which include historical items. The Christmas display included some of the figures which Oppenheims had used in the past at Christmas time. This week a new display "Think Spring" is being created.

A specially chosen Museum Committee is beginning the planning for the remodelling needed in the building, an assessment of the space needs and configuration for the museum area. This is a very large building which may allow for rental of some areas, for ample storage, work rooms and display of large items held by the Society which are now stored in various places. Since there is an elevator we will be able to make good use of all three floors.

We have been fortunate to receive a matching grant which we must now match to put this effort on a sound financial footing.

Now is the time to renew memberships and secure new ones. Our present members are scattered from coast to coast and there are no doubt others who would be interested in the activities of the Society.. Will you help us let others know about the exciting new activities of this Historical Society?

Now that we have ample space we are asking you to contribute your historical materials to our collection. Please check with us.. pieces of furniture.. papers.. Land abstracts, pictures.. Our interests are broad. Things related to N. Manchester, Chester township or Wabash County.