Source: North Manchester Journal, April 6, 1893

PIONEER SKETCHES. Some Interesting Reminiscences from the Life and Experience of Early Settlers.

Miss Abigail Harter, daughter of Israel Harter, came to North Manchester with her parents in March, 1837. Notwithstanding the fact that she was but six years old at the time she has a vivid recollection of much that transpired on the way moving here, as well as what occurred in the sparsely settled community to which they came. To move a family and their household goods in wagons from Montgomery county, Ohio to this place over such roads as then existed involved more time and hardships than it would now to move by cars to California. Abigail distinctly remembers the three days they were detained by high waters and floating ice in the Mississinewa river and the two days spent at the cabin of John Ogan, near where Stephen Heeter now lives, waiting for the water in Eel river to run down enough to give a safe crossing. Finally the town of North Manchester as it then appeared was reached and the, to them strange spectacle of a dry goods store kept in a log cabin was presented. The town consisted of less than half a dozen houses, in one of which Asa Beauchamp lived and kept a store. Her father lost no time in taking his family to the quarter section of land which was to be their home, and which is now owned by Joseph Blickenstaff a mile and a half north-west of town. She remembers how her father set forks in the ground as the frame-work of a shanty in which the family lived until he made the customary trip to Wyland's mill on the Elkhart river for breadstuffs to keep the family until he could clear a patch for corn and potatoes, of which he raised enough the first season for the use of his family. She says that the Kuhnle family lived near and usually went to meetings with them, and at one time they were going along the trail in the brush to Grandfather Harter's, near where Daniel Strauss now lives, they encountered a band of 400 Indians who kept up a terrific "jabbering" all the time they were passing. In speaking of her youthful days she said: "My first term of school was in a log house standing near where Mrs. Barnet Heeter now lives on Third street. There were no streets improved and the children had their playground in the hazel thickets. My first teacher was a man by name of Keeler, next one was William Daily and the third and last one was J.B. Harter. We first marked out our way to the school house by setting up sticks against the trees. The country settled up very fast the first few years. I well recollect the day the first body was buried in what is now called the old cemetery. It was the body of a young girl, the daughter of Allen Halderman, and the teacher permitted the whole school to go to the grave." Early in life Abigail married Jeremiah Swank and has lived all her life near this town. She is the mother of three sons--Israel, Owen and Silas--and one daughter, the wife of Henry Bolinger, all of whom live near their mother. Her husband died in 1871. In talking of the development of the country in the last fifty years, she said: "I often wonder what the next fifty years can bring about that will change so much the aspect of thing as the years gone by from a practically unbroken woods, the huddled-up condition of families in their log houses, the customary poverty of all, the great amount of work to be done to make the country habitable, which, if it was now before us to be done by our young people, would be thought unsurmountable. Our young people ought to be thankful for the schools they may attend, they are so much better than we used to have."