Source: NMHS Newsletter February 1989
ISAAC PLACE: HUNTER-PIONEER
Some Interesting Reminiscences from the Life and
Experience of Early Settler, Isaac Place.
Article Submitted by his Great Grandson, Wilbur Place.
Born in Darke County, Ohio, Isaac came to this county in October, 1835. He assisted Andrew Willis, who moved from that part of Ohio to Kosciusko County, in driving through his livestock. For some time he made his home with Willis who was an expert hunter and from whom he took his first lessons in hunting and trapping. The woods were full of deer, bear, wolves and wild game of all kinds, both for furs and meat, affording a paradise for a man of his retiring disposition and love to be alone and untrammeled by the usages of people, few as there were here at that time.
In 1837, perhaps it was, he took a contract to carry the United States mail between the home of Judge Polk, then a prominent citizen living in Miami County, to Fort Wayne. No man better fitted to ride over the lonesome unmarked trails leading to Fort Wayne could have been found.
In those days the government distributed regularly each year, annuities to the Indians in the country, besides paying each Indian of the Pottowatomie and Miami tribes, certain cash payments. Those tribes were strong in those days. The bad whiskey and vices introduced among them by civilization had not wrought the havoc in their number that a few years more served to bring about. Consequently, the trails made by them in going and returning to and from the “payment grounds” could be followed. In fact, they constituted the only highway to that city, then a village of 300 inhabitants.
Isaac’s income from his job was not one calculated to make him proud but he added to it. Rather, it enabled him to barter for and buy furs and peltry from the settlers and Indians along the way and sell his purchases to the fur traders at Fort Wayne. The quick sales kept up his capital. This lasted about two years, till the mail route was abandoned and Mr. Place thrown out of a job.
About that time he married and set up housekeeping on the land once owned by Amos B. Miller, one-half mile east of the German Baptist church west of town. During the summer months he took jobs of clearing land, making rails and such other work as came to his hand.
His love for hunting grew on him each year, and from the first frosts in the fall until late in the spring, Isaac mostly employed himself in hunting and trapping. One fall he caught four otters, and mink and muskrat by the dozens. At one time he joined a party of four to hunt in the Kankakee country. They returned with twenty-two wild deer, eleven of which had fallen at the crack of his unerring rifle.
Mr. Place cast his first presidential vote for William H. Harrison in the memorable campaign of 1840. The following day he went to the “Bear Swamp” and killed a fine, large black bear.
At one time he lived in the neighborhood of the Penrods in Pleasant Township. During that time a little boy, son of Joseph Penrod, while at play, wandered into the surrounding woods and could not find his way back. An alarm was given out and a search organized by the few neighbors. Night came on and the child had not been found. Mr. Place continued the search as best he could in the darkness that enshrouded all objects. Midnight and no child had been brought to the arms of the anxious mother. With our hero the hunt continued until nearly morning when his sharp ear caught the faint sobs of the crying and sleepy child.
Imagine, if you can, the joy and grateful feeling of those parents when Isaac appeared at the door with their lost child, sound asleep on his manly back. He was no coward. Any fear of danger from wild animals in the darkness never entered his mind. His only concern was to recover the little child from its perilous situation.
His patriotism and love of his country displayed, will cause his name to be respected and honored as long as loyalty and respect for the flag exists among this people. He was a member of the 130th regiment of Indiana Volunteers, Colonel Parrish commanding, and served until the close of the war. He came home broken in health but in the meantime game had become scarce and compelled him to make long journeys every fall, first to the Maumee slashes in Ohio, next to the pine woods of Michigan. His last trip was to the wilds of Wisconsin. He died in January, 1892, at his home in this city, a respected citizen.
Isaac Place was born in Delaware County, Ohio on March 11, 1819. He was married October 27, 1842 to Miriam Lindsey. To this union were born ten children; four of whom have passed into the spirit world. There remain living four daughters and two sons. The wife and mother died February 2, 1888. Father Place departed this life January 21, 1892, aged 72 years, 11 months and 10 days. His parents were members of the Friend’s Church and by birth-right he has considered himself identified with that church.
The funeral was preached by Rev. R.J. Parrett in the U.B. Church on last Saturday at 2 p.m. to a very large audience. The Grand Army of the Republic attended in a body, showing plainly their appreciation and love for their comrade, not only in life but in death as well.
He was a member of Company E, 130th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers. At the time of his enlistment he had reached the age that almost debarred him from entering the service, but being possessed of a strong constitution and a stronger love for the old flag and his country, he persisted in going and was accepted. He proved a good soldier, none having a better record.
He is also one among the first settlers and pioneers of Wabash County, coming here in the year 1836, when this country was indeed a wilderness and has had much to do in and about North Manchester, aiding in the progress it has made and in changing the wilderness to the beautiful garden it now is. He helped remove much of the heavy timber and cleared many acres of land when in the prime of life. Well may the community mourn the loss of a good and true man. The bereaved friends can be assured that they have the sympathy of the people of North Manchester and vicinity and the comrades of General John A. Logan Post, No. 199, G.A.R.