Source: North Manchester Journal, May 11, 1893

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

Benjamin Knoop was born near Troy, Miami county, Ohio. His father, Michael Knoop, came to Wabash county in October, 1835, immediately after the sale of lands by the government at Ft. Wayne, and lived the winter of 1835 on a farm near Wabash but moved to the place Benjamin now lives on in the spring of 1836. Michael Knoop bid off the section of land on which he settled at the sale and by competition was made to pay more than the customary price of $1.25 per acre.

On the trip from Wabash to his land they came via LaGro where there were a few shanties occupied by workmen engaged in digging the Wabash and Erie canal. Between LaGro and North Manchester there were but two settlers, Mr. Freshour and Mr. Peabody. John Ogan lived on the place now owned by Isaac Shock, just south of the river, Peter Ogan lived in what is now North Manchester and Richard Helvey lived on the land now owned by Thomas Cook. From Helvey's place they cut their road to the place where Mr. Knoop built his first cabin, a distance of two miles. Mr. Helvey was the nearest neighbor. James Abbott then lived on the place now owned by Samuel Havens four miles east and was the nearest house on the east. The cabin of John Simonton, father of the John Simonton of to-day, on the farm now belonging to the Frederick Naber estate three and a half miles southeast, was the nearest house in that direction.

Mr. Knoop had built a cabin 16 by 18 feet square for a hired man to occupy. In June, 1837, Isaac Ulrey, and his sons-in-law Jacob Metzger and David Cripe came to the country and all three families lived in that cabin till such times as they could build houses for themselves on land they had bought before coming.

Daniel Swank and Frederick Weybright came soon after and settled on the present Blickenstaff and the Gorman Heeter places. During this time the country was needing a blacksmith and Mr. Knoop sent a team to Darke county, Ohio, and brought out George Clapp who set up a shop on Knoop's land where he did the blacksmithing for the settlers for miles around. He it was who forged most of the irons used in Comstock's first mill, and cleared up a lease on Mr. Knoop's place between jobs.

Mrs. Michael Knoop was an experienced midwife and her services were often in demand, often being called miles away on such errands. The first schoolhouse in the neighborhood was on the Knoop estate. The first teacher was Gabriel Swihart followed by F.M. Eagle, Calvin Cowgill and Henry Lantz. The district embraced a large part of the territory north of this place and two miles or more of Kosciusko county territory. All the teachers except Hon. Calvin Cowgill taught in both English and German as the patrons desired and were entirely supported by subscriptions, the free school system not having came in.

The first sermon preached in Chester township was a Dunkard minister named Markis, who had moved a family to the new settlement from Darke county, Ohio, and held a meeting at Mr. Knoop's house. Preaching was held at private houses in winter and in the barns during the warm weather for many years. The first meeting-house was the one now in use and known as the Joseph Ulrey church in Kosciusko county.

The first lad out roads in the country were located without regard to section or other lines, most of them angling across the country keeping on the best ground for a road and were located with the view of reaching their destination of the shortest routes.

Benjamin Knoop and Mahlon Frame made one trip to Michigan City with ox teams, two yokes to a wagon, for salt and dry goods. Ten days were required to make the trip. Mr. Knoop and William Thorn were at that time the dry goods merchants of this place and brought their first stock via Michigan City. Salt cost at that city ten dollars a barrel. The milling was all done then at Wyland's mill on the Elkhart river, near where New Paris now stands. The first corn cracker was on Silver creek two miles west of Laketon, and the next one was at Ogan's near this place.

The first body buried at what was known as the Knoop graveyard was the body of Mrs. McBride, the wife of a man who had the first store at Liberty Mills. She was at Mr. Knoop's when first taken sick and requested that her body be placed on that knoll if she should die.

Mr. Knoop in company with Joseph Crill, Wesley Cook and Aaron Shellenbarger in the year 1849 made a trip to Iowa on horseback. They were gone about seven weeks, and traveled over a large part of the State, coming home through southern Illinois and up the Wabash from Vincennes. That fall a portion of the Miami and Pottowattomie Indians were moved from the northwestern part of the State to the Indian territory. Benjamin was an active supporter in the late war and carried many wagon loads of recruits as far as Wabash on their way to the front. His father had the honorable distinction of having lent a large sum of money to Governor Morton to assist him in carrying on the benevolent institutions of the State over the time the legislature had refused the appropriate the necessary funds for that purpose. Those years are perhaps not the ones that Senator Voorhees points to in speaking of the patriotism of his party.

Benjamin is the only son now living of the four sons of Michael Knoop and wife. Six daughters still live, Mrs. Samuel Bussard, Mrs. Henry Walker, Mrs. Bowersock, Mrs. Cuyler, Mrs. Amiss and Mrs. Jonas Bussard, all of them well known and highly respected people. Benjamin lives on the home farm in good circumstances, enjoying life and the association of his wife and three children and bids fair to live yet many years to enjoy the comforts of life that could not be obtained in the early days of his youth.