Source: Harry Leffel, News-Journal, May 13 and
May 16, 1940
The Harter Family
A little stone about eight inches
wide and about a foot high in Oaklawn cemetery marks the
last resting place of Joseph Harter, Sr., a man who was
one of the co-founders of North Manchester, and who with
his sons, Joseph B. and Jacob, played an important part
in the early industrial and business development in
North Manchester. In the same cemetery plat lie some of
the other members of the family, with small markers
indicating their names and ages. In a nearby plat are
buried a daughter, Elizabeth Switzer, her husband, and
members of the Switzer family.
The Joseph Harter, Sr., lot is just
south of the principal east and west drive that
separates the old and new sections of the cemetery, and
well to the west part. Just across the drive to the
north is the burial lot of a daughter, Mrs. Susan Eagle,
her husband, Francis Eagle, and children and
grandchildren, including a daughter, Mrs. Mary Eagle
Curtner and her husband, John Curtner. In marked
contrast to the little stone marking the grave of the
father, is the elaborate monument of the daughter and
her family. It is one of the largest and most elaborate
in the cemetery.
It takes more than a cemetery
monument to establish a memory in a community. Without
in any way intending any discredit to the Eagle and
Curtner family, the name of old Joseph Harter will be
remembered in North Manchester long after the name of
his daughter and her family are forgotten. As long as
North Manchester people are interested in the pioneers
of the town and its early history, the name and memory
of Joseph Harter will endure. He helped plat part of the
town, he saw the need of a flour mill to supply the
settlers with food. He had the financial capital and put
it to work at the time when North Manchester was in its
infancy and there was no assurance the venture would
pay. Such a man does not need a cemetery monument to
perpetuate his name, for his monument is perpetuated in
the foundations and traditions of the town itself.
Mr. Harter was born October 11, 1783,
in Pennsylvania. His wife, Elizabeth Brower Harter, was
born October 20, 1785, in Virginia. Both were of German
descent. They first lived near Hagerstown, Maryland,
where the older children were born, and then moved to
near Germantown, Montgomery county, Ohio, according to
an account of Mrs. Arthur Smith of Indianapolis, a
granddaughter. Mr. Harter and his family, and his oldest
son, Eli, who was married in Ohio, came to Indiana in
1836. They moved by covered wagon, going first to
Indianapolis, at that time only a small village, and
then continued the trek northward into Wabash county. It
took between two and three weeks to travel from
Germantown to Indianapolis. When they reached North
Manchester, Mr. Harter built a cabin near a spring, some
distance east of the Wabash road and the old mill site
in the southwest part of town. The exact location of
this cabin is not known, for in later years, the Big
Four railroad was built across the Harter farm, and the
old spring has probably been diverted into a tile ditch.
Eli built the second house in North Manchester proper.
Peter Ogan had built his cabin on the south side of Main
Street, on the lot long occupied by the Williams drug
store, and now occupied by the Gamble store. There was a
strong spring on this lot. Eli built his cabin on a lot
west of the town hall, and helped his father establish a
saw mill and later, in 1839, the flour mill in the
southwest part of town. The story of this mill has been
told in a previous story and need not be retold.
Joseph Harter continued in the
milling business until 1851 when he gave the business to
his two sons, Jacob and Joseph B. and retired from
The name of Joseph Harter is
prominent in the early German Baptist or Dunkard history
of this locality. He was the first preacher of the
congregation in this community. At that time there was
no church and meetings were held in the homes and barns
of members. His son, Eli, was a deacon in the
congregation later organized two miles west of North
Mr. and Mrs. Harter were the parents
of ten children. Besides the five mentioned above, there
was Christian, who lived for a number of years south of
Wabash [Ed: Christian was a miller at Collamer for
several years], and who was accidentally killed when a
team became frightened and he was dragged and crushed as
the horses ran close to a stump. Magdalene married Dr.
Joseph Travis; Delilah, born in 1810 and died in 1850;
John, born in 1817, died in 1850; and Phoebe, who died
at the age of 16. It is not generally known, but Joseph
Harter was married twice. Elizabeth died May 18, 1856,
and Mr. Harter married again. She is mentioned as Juday
Harter, but her last name is not known. Mr. Harter died
in 1861 and the second wife died in 1864.
Joseph Harter must have been a man of
means before he came to North Manchester. In 1835, 1836,
and 1837 he entered 1,795 acres of land in Chester
township and 960 acres in Pleasant township. Oddly
enough he never lived on any of this land, for his home
and the mill were located on land he bought of Daniel
Stone after coming to North Manchester. Much of the
Chester township land was along the road north of the
Peabody factory in the second and third row of sections.
He sold part of this land to later settlers, but
retained a considerable portion of it until 1851 when he
by will divided his estate among his children. This
will, while it is in Miscellaneous Record A-33 at Wabash
was never probated.
Provisions of it were as follows: to
Eli $800 and certain land. To Christian $800 and certain
land. To Elizabeth Switzer, $800 and certain land. To
Suzanne Eagle, $800 and certain land. To Joseph B., the
east half of southwest quarter of Section 32, township
30, 7 range east, except lots sold, also east half of
southwest quarter of Section 29, value $1,400. To Jacob
the west half of the two quarter sections mentioned
above, value $1,400. The northeast quarter of section
30, township 30, range 7, was to be sold and the money
divided. From the sale of this land, each of the first
three children were to receive $600 to equalize the
portion given Jacob and Joseph B.
The widow received a life estate in
the "Home farm" along the river, part of this being the
land now owned by Ezra Miller, but the land for the
grist mill, carding shop, machine shop were excepted and
the "little frame house near the spring." Apparently
this referred to the original home and probably at that
time Mr. Harter was living in a new and larger house
nearer the Wabash road. She was to receive $400 at his
death, and $50 yearly. Since this will was made in 1851,
the first wife was referred to in the will. After she
died and Mr. Harter remarried, there was a codicil, with
provisions for the second wife, being the same as
intended for the first wife, whom Mr. Harter outlived.
Only in the codicil, Juday and Joseph B. were named as
joint executors. The will was witnessed by Israel Harter
and William Emerick.
Excepted in the will was the land set
aside for the little cemetery. Few people today know
there was a cemetery on the Harter farm, now the Ezra
Miller farm. This little cemetery was situated on a
knoll, a little south of South street near the
intersection of First street. It was used as a family
burial site, and was used for burial purposes by a
number of the early settler families, for it was not
until about 1843 that the Old Cemetery on North Market
street was laid out by Allen Holderman. There were
buried the Harter children who died early in life, Mr.
Harter and his first wife. Possibly the second wife was
buried there, or if she was a widow at the time of her
marriage to him, she probably was buried beside her
first husband as was customary. At any rate, there is no
monument bearing her name.
This cemetery remained undisturbed,
although no longer used for burial purposes until the
Manchester cemetery, now Oaklawn, was platted January
19, 1878. In platting the new cemetery, the sons, Jacob
and Joseph B. reserved a double lot and moved the bodies
of the parents and the brothers and sisters to the new
cemetery. The members of the Swizer family were also
moved about that time to another lot nearby. Other
removals occurred in the intervening years. Mrs. Effie
Place distinctly remembers when those bodies were moved,
for she was then a girl of about sixteen. Some time
prior to 1912, Ora Bone, who then owned the farm, had
the few remaining bodies removed, and opened a gravel
pit where the cemetery was located. Part of the gravel
out of this pit was used in paving Second street a few
years later. Thus when there is talk of moving the Old
Cemetery in North Manchester, it should be remembered
there was in existence an older cemetery, and those
bodies were moved to a more permanent resting place
where records are kept and the graves maintained. That
also is the primary purpose of the effort to move the
bodies in the Old cemetery to Oaklawn.
The name of Harter in the business
interests of the town was kept alive by the two sons,
Jacob and Joseph B., "J. and J.B. Harter," as their firm
name was known for many years. They were the youngest of
the family. Jacob was nine and Joseph was seven years
old when their parents came to North Manchester. It is
said of them, they were never separated more than a week
in their entire lives. They attended Wittenberg College
at Springfield, Ohio, and it is said were the first to
attend college from Wabash county. Then in 1851 they
took charge of the Harter flour mill. Prior to then they
were in the mercantile business at Collamer for a year
or so, and probably had an interest in the Collamer
mill, for the abstract shows the mill was owned at one
time by Harter & Miller. [Ed. This was Christian Harter
who partnered with Miller, not Jacob and Joseph B.] They
married sisters. Jacob married Catharine Cowgill in 1854
and Joseph married Rowena Cowgill in 1856. In 1855, they
helped found the Laketon mill, and at the same time were
engaged in the general mercantile business in North
At first they occupied the Henney
building at the corner of Market street where the
Standard Oil Station is located. In 1867 they built the
first brick store building in North Manchester. This
building was remodeled for the Union Trust Company when
it was organized and is now owned by Dr. J.L. Warvel and
used as an office building. At first they had a stock of
dry goods and general merchandise, but during the Civil
War they discontinued all but the drug business. They
also built the brick building to the west, now occupied
by the auto license bureau, and that was occupied for a
number of years by the post office. It is said this
building was built especially for that purpose.
Mrs. Smith says her father,
J.B. Harter, told her when it became necessary to visit
eastern mercantile markets, he would go to Lagro, board
a canal boat and go to Toledo, Ohio, thence across Lake
Erie and down the Hudson river to New York City. He made
that trip annually. The nearest bank was Fort Wayne, a
long trip on horseback through the woods. Probably it
was this fact that caused the brothers to buy a
safe--one that for years was the largest in North
Manchester. It was used by many as a place to keep their
money and valuables, and even after the banks were
established here, merchants on Saturday nights would
take their money to "Uncle Jake and Joe," and leave it
in their keeping. B. Oppenheim, recalls that he
frequently did this, and adds that never was a penny
missing from the money bags, nor a whisper of suspicion
against the integrity of the Harter brothers.
During the intervening years, much of
the town between Market street and the Pennsylvania
railroad, and north of Third was platted by the Harters.
They also retained ownership of the land north of the
railroad, later the Oak Park addition, and the land now
owned by T.A. Peabody, both his home and the land he
purchased from the late J.W. Warvel. It was known as
Harter's grove, and the Church of the Brethren
conference of 1888 was held there. It was at this
meeting that Elder James Quinter, a revered member of
the church, died as he was uttering the closing prayer
at one of the sessions. A tablet marks the spot where he
died. In 1900 the annual meeting again was held in North
Manchester and again Harter's grove was the meeting
place, this time at the east side of the grove near the
Pennsylvania railroad track. Two other meetings have
been held at North Manchester, one in 1878 at the West
Manchester Church and one in 1929 at Manchester College.
Harter's grove was a favorite reunion
ground for the 47th Indiana regiment of the Civil War,
of which so many from this locality were members. One
time a three-day encampment was held in the Grove.
The Harter Brothers helped
incorporate the Manchester Cemetery January 19, 1879.
Other incorporators were Michael Henney, Levi J.
Noftzger, Joseph H. Bonner, and George W. Lawrence.
There were 200 shares, Noftzger 10, Bonner 5, Lawrence
15, Jacob Harter 8 and Joseph B. 7. This land was bought
of Calvin Cowgill and $2,150 was paid for fifteen acres.
Only the south part was platted at first, that part
south of the main driveway. Those men or their heirs
retained control of the cemetery until 1914, when the
Oaklawn cemetery association was formed. About fifty
business men borrowed $2,000 to purchase the cemetery,
and the note was repaid by sale of lots and other
income. The first directors were Samuel Hamilton,
president; Charles B. Frame, vice president; T.B. Clark,
secretary and M.F. Adams, treasurer. Other directors
were J.A. Browne, Daniel Sheller, John C. Bonner, W.H.
Ballenger and Ademar Rufle. All those men are dead
except Mr. Adams, Mr. Ballenger and Mr. Bonner. Mr.
Adams has been treasurer of the association all these
years, and Mr. Ballenger a director. Presnet directors
besides the two mentioned are George N. Bender,
secretary, L.P. Urschel and Henry Reiff.
After the Arnold bank failure, the
Bank of North Manchester was organized. This bank failed
June 10, 1904, and on the books, Jacob and Joseph B.
Harter were listed as heavy stockholders, although they
never were active in the bank. True to their reputation
as honorable business men, they turned most of their
property to Lewis Signs, who had been appointed
receiver, and who was later succeeded as receiver by
Uriah H. Howenstine. It has been often said they were
too honorable to resort to any trickery, and chose
rather to impoverish themselves than to defraud the
depositors. At any rate, although there was considerable
loss to depositors, never was there a word of rebuke or
reproach uttered against Jacob or Joseph B. Harter.
Jacob was the father of three
children. Howell, who died in 1902, Nellie died in 1910
and Dayton, who died in 1920. Dayton had three children,
Mrs. Nita Martin and Mrs. C.E. Brady of North Manchester
and Mrs. Rex Hidy of Hammond. Mrs. Arthur Smith of
Indianapolis is the only living daughter of Joseph B.
Another daughter, Miss Emma Harter, died recently.
The two brothers, in keeping with
their close affinity throughout the years, built homes
near each other. Jacob built and lived in the big brick
house east of the public library; Joseph built and lived
in the big house on the south side of Main street, west
of the Young Hotel. There, after they retired, from
active business about 1906, they spent their declining
years, honored and respected by all who knew them.
Claude Stitt, veteran abstractor at
Wabash says that Joseph Harter's name probably is on
more legal documents than any other man in Wabash
County. He was a notary public for 54 years and executed
many wills and other legal documents. Not only did he do
this so well that papers he executed were seldom
questioned, but in later years he helped straighten out
many flaws in titles caused by faulty documents written
by others. He knew the history of the town and community
from the beginning and knew the people and their
relationship. His remarkably accurate memory in his
later years enabled him to make many affidavits of
relationship and family genealogy that were accepted
without question by the courts when titles to property
were being quieted. Mr. Stitt recalls many occasions
when a sworn affidavit by "Uncle Joe Harter," was
sufficient to clear a faulty title.
There is a story of the tragic toll
of lives of early settlers told in the inscriptions on
the stones of the Switzer family in Oaklawn cemetery--a
story that tells of the terrible mortality rate of
infants and young children, victims of many diseases or
of little medical and surgical knowledge. It is a story
of the death of a young mother at the age of 32, the
mother of seven children, five of whom died at birth, or
before they had reached the age of six. In every old
cemetery in this locality are similar records of family
deaths. Some tell of the silent story of smallpox or
diphtheria ravages. There is said to be one case in
Pleasant township where an entire family, parents and
five children, died of diphtheria within five days.
The marriage of Miss Elizabeth Harter
and Abraham Switzer occurred February 18, 1840, their
marriage being the third or fourth in the township. Mr.
Switzer set up a cabinet shop in North Manchester and
was active in the business interests of the town for a
time. Their brief married life ended with the death of
the young wife and mother, in January 1852, six days
after the birth of an infant, that died at birth.
Another stone tells of the death of an infant in 1841.
Helen died in 1846 at the age of two years, another
infant died at birth in 1850, and little Edna, born in
1849, died in 1855, three years after the death of her
mother. Only two of these seven children lived to an
adult age, Hiram and Owen Switzer. Those two brothers
will be remembered by the older residents of North
Manchester, Hiram Switzer was the father of the late
Judge Frank Switzer.
Eli Harter because he left North
Manchester and moved to the farm in Pleasant township
did not play much of a part in North Manchester history
and it was rather his children and grandchildren who
identified that branch of the family with the history of
the town. Eli had married Julia Young before coming to
North Manchester, and a daughter, the late Mrs. Phoebe
Butterbaugh, was the second child born in North
Manchester. They reared a large family. Elizabeth,
mother of the late A.G. and E.L. Lautzenhiser, Oliver,
Henry, Joseph, who was killed during the Civil War,
Isaac, later of Lordsburg, California. Abel, who died in
California, Mrs. Abner Shautuck, Mrs. John Domer, and
Mrs. Daniel Dice, now living in California. She and Mrs.
Smith are the only living grandchildren of Joseph
Oliver lived on a farm northwest of
North Manchester for many years. Mrs. Sam Garber, Joseph
E. and John Eli are surviving children of Oliver. John
Domer who married a daughter of Eli, was a banker for
many years. A.G. Lautzenhiser was in the implement
business for many years. E.L. Lautzenhiser was
postmaster at one time.
Susan Harter was born in 1832 and
married Francis M. Eagle. She and her husband became
property owners in Wabash county. They lived at Wabash
in later years. They were the parents of three children,
Ellen Marie, Alice Eagle Stephenson and Mary Eagle
Curtner. On the death of Mr. and Mrs. Eagle, Mr. and
Mrs. Curtner, as only heirs, acquired large property
interests in North Manchester including stock in the
Lawrence and Union Trust banks, business buildings and
farms. They had no children and on the death of Mr.
Curtner, the bulk of the estate passed to his relatives
Source: NMHS Newsletter Feb
Harter Family in Wabash County, by Don H. Garber
It all began with Andreas Harter
from Germany who signed an oath of allegiance in
Philadelphia, colony of Pennsylvania, to the King of
England on September 25, 1742.
Andreas was the father of eight children.
A son, Christian, and his wife,
Elizabeth Eller, were the parents of Joseph Harter, Sr.
The early Harter families lived in Pennsylvania,
Maryland, and Virginia.
By the nineteenth century many began moving into
Ohio and farther west.
Joseph Harter, Sr., 1783-1861, was
born in Pennsylvania and his wife, Elizabeth Brower,
1785-1856, was born in Virginia.
They moved their family, together with the family
of their oldest son, Eli, to the North Manchester
community from Montgomery County, Ohio, in 1836.
They came by way of Indianapolis and wagon train.
They settled on land just north of Eel River and
east of the old Wabash Road, on land later used as a dam
and mill site.
In 1835, 1836, and 1837 Joseph, Sr., and Eli
filed on 1795 acres of land in Chester Township and 960
in Pleasant Township.
In 1839 Joseph and his sons built a saw mill and
grist mill near the present dam.
They had interests in an early mill at the south
end of Mill Street.
[This had been established by the founder of
Manchester, Peter Ogan.
See Billings Tales of the Old Days, page 18.]
Joseph Harter and his sons
continued in early Manchester industry and real estate.
They built flour mills at Laketon and Collamer,
and later Eli operated a mill on Treaty Creek at the
south edge of Wabash.
In 1851 Joseph, Sr., turned most of his business
interests to youngest sons, Jacob and Joseph, Jr.
One may consider the last of this real estate
empire, if it was such, as that part of town known as
Harter’s woods, finally platted as Oak Park Addition,
now a part of Warvel Park and the residence of late Tom
Peabody [300 West Seventh Street].
Joseph Harter, Sr., was the first
resident preacher, elder, and moderator of the German
Baptist Church (Dunkard) and preached in German.
The records of the Harters’ early
residences are meager, but a cemetery was started east
of the Controls Corporation plant, and early family
burials were made there.
In 1878 Jacob and Joseph Harter, Jr., together
with other citizens, organized the Oaklawn Cemetery, and
all the Harter family remains were moved there.
The writer’s grandfather, Oliver
Harter, was four years old in 1836.
I have heard him tell of remembering that his
father and grandfather traded with the Indians on or
near the college athletic field, a former Indian village
site. One would
need to assume that this was a roving band of Indians,
as the village itself would likely have been abandoned
soon after the Treaty of 1835.
Joseph Harter, Sr., and his wife,
Elizabeth, were the parents of 11 children, some of whom
were life residents of the community.
Their oldest son, Eli, 1807-1890,
and his wife, Julia Ann Young, 1812-? built the second
house in North Manchester [which stood just west of the
present town hall.
Billings, page 17].
They lived many years on a farm one-half mile
south of State Road 114 on the Laketon Road at the
creek. The story
is told that during the time which the Eli Harters lived
there, the hired hand, Joe Crill, came in from the field
one day and told Mr. Harter he was going to California
and get enough gold to buy his farm,
He did just that and brought back $5,000 in gold
and bought the farm.
The Harters moved to the Treaty Creek Mill south
of Wabash, which they operated, built a substantial
brick house, and possibly never prospered so well after
Eli and Julia Ann were the parents
of 12 children, six of whom I will mention.
Elizabeth, the eldest, married Joseph
Lautzenhiser, and they lived in North Manchester.
A son, Amziah, was in the implement business.
Another son, Lincoln was a former postmaster in
Oliver married Melissa
Blickenstaff, and they lived their married life on a
farm five miles northwest of North Manchester.
Their six children were Elliot, John, Joseph,
Julia (who married Sam Garber), Ovid, and Minerva.
Henry married Mary Dice.
They raised two sons and two daughters and lived
in Missouri some years, a few on short rations.
Henry spent his last years two miles southeast of
Phoebe married David Butterbaugh.
She was the first Caucasian child born in North
Manchester [Billings, page 17].
They were parents of Henry, Julia (who married
John Shively), Esli, and Eli.
Joseph, a sergeant in the United
States Army, 47th Infantry, was killed
September 1862 in Kentucky.
Doretta married John Domer.
Domer was president of the Lawrence Bank in North
Their daughter, Emma, married Warren Dewey.
A son, Walter, was a medical doctor in Wabash.
Elizabeth, a daughter of Joseph
Harter, Sr., married Abram Switzer, who had a harness
shop in North Manchester.
They were the grandparents of Frank Switzer, a
former judge of the Wabash County Circuit Court.
Susan, another daughter of Joseph,
Sr., married Francis Eagle in Wabash.
Eagle was in various businesses there.
Jacob and Joseph Harter, Jr., the
youngest sons of Joseph, Sr., married sisters.
Jacob married Catherine Cowgill.
They built the large brick house at 202 West Main
Street, just east of the public library.
Their son, Dayton, was the father of three
daughters, Mrs. Nita Martin, Mrs. Mary Hidy, and Mrs.
Clarence (Kathy) Brady.
Joseph Harter, Jr., married Rowena
Cowgill, and they build the brick house on Main Street
directly across the street from brother Jacob.
They were the parents of two daughters, Emma, and
Mrs. Art Grace) Smith.
Jacob and Joseph Harter, Jr., operated a
drugstore (of sorts) at 116 East Main Street .
Israel Harter, 1806-1875, a nephew
of Joseph, Sr., and his wife Charlotta Kitson, came to
North Manchester from Ohio in 1837.
They first settled two miles west of North
Manchester on Clear Creek.
Much of their later life they spent on a farm
immediately east of the Main Street bridge.
Seven children were known and lived in this
Many descendants are living.
The children were Henrietta (married Peter
Swank); Patterson; Stephan, a Civil War veteran,
1861-1865; Margaret (married David M. Shively); Martha
(married Samuel Miller, a bee expert and nurseryman who
build the house at 410 East Ninth); Tabitha (married
Israel followed his uncle as preacher and second
elder in the German Baptist Church.
Like many German immigrants the Harters were
Lutherans, but many became German Baptists.
[Some of this material was obtained
from the News-Journal and Lester Binnie’s Genealogy of
the Early German Baptists. Don H. Garber.]