Source: Clarkson W. Weesner, History of Wabash County Indiana (1914), Vol. II, pp. 824-826.
JOHN ISENBARGER. This is a name that has many familiar associations not only to the people in and about North Manchester, where Mr. Isenbarger has his home and is prominent as a real estate man, but also in different sections of the state. Mr. Isenbarger was twice candidate for the office of state treasurer on the Democratic ticket, and the second time was defeated by a very narrow margin of votes. He is also a member of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture. In many ways he has identified himself prominently with the business and civic affairs of this county.
John Isenbarger is a native of Indiana, and was born in Kosciusko county, August 7, 1868, a son of John and Catherine (Shoemaker) Isenbarger. His father was twice married, and by his union with Susan Shaefer had the following children: William, of Manchester; George, of Kosciusko county; Martha, the deceased wife of Aaron Arnold; and Lucinda, who died young. The children of John Isenbarger by Catherine Shoemaker, were Noah; Ella; John; Eli; Waity; and Samuel, who died in infancy. The father died February 23, 1890, and his wife passed away August 12, 1886. David Shoemaker, father of Catherine Shoemaker, was greatly interested in church work, and as a Dunkard, or old German Baptist, organized practically all of the churches of that denomination in Wabash county.
John Isenbarger, Jr., has the usual training of a farmer boy. While still on a farm and earning monthly wages, he saw the promise of larger things in business, and after perceiving his opportunities was not slow in making the best of them. He attended district school, and helped his father until about eighteen years old, when he began for himself. His first winter away from home was spent in clearing twelve acres of timberland for a neighbor, and any one at all familiar with this kind of toil will recognize that he could not have selected a harder means of beginning the foundation for his individual prosperity. Three years later he became a partner with Noah Butterbaugh in the hog business. Mr. Isenbarger in 1891 came to Wabash county, locating at North Manchester. For a time his work was as a farm hand at different places in that vicinity. Then for two years he operated a dairy farm, the owner of which was Gilford Miller. He had already become aware of the unusual opportunities presented by the real estate business, and from dairyman opened an office at North Manchester, and began dealing in real estate on a broad basis. Mr. Isenbarger has not confined his operations to affording a medium for the trades and transfers of the local supply and demands, but has enlarged the range of his operations so that he has made land in this part of the state familiar to investors all over western Indiana and in the state of Illinois. By this broadening of the market he has done more perhaps than any other one individual to bring land values in the vicinity of North Manchester up to the high average of first-class farm lands in the middle west. In 1905 Mr. Lon Fleming was admitted to partnership, and together they have prosecuted a very successful and extensive business.
Mr. Isenbarger for many years has taken an active interest in public affairs. As already stated, he has twice been the nominee of his party for the office of state treasurer, being defeated in 1905 by thirteen thousand votes, and in 1909 by only two hundred and seventy votes. It is his intention to make the race again, and if past performances are a criterion his success is practically assured. Mr. Isenbarger was also one of the organizers of the Indiana State Bank at North Manchester, and was the prime factor of the organization of the Commercial Club. To his influence and work was due in large measure the location of the Dunkard College at North Manchester. Aside from his active connection with business, Mr. Isenbarger has found time to cultivate the social side of life, and is identified with the Masonic Lodge, the Knights of Pythias, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
On March 24, 1894, was solemnized his marriage with Cora Shanafelt. Her father, John Shanafelt, was one of Wabash county's pioneers, and for years resided near North Manchester. To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Isenbarger were born the following children: Paul, secretary of the North Manchester Milling company; Bland, in high school, and Lawrence.