Source: Newsletter of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.
Volume XXV Number 3 Sept 2008


From Progressive Men and Women of Kosciusko County, Indiana B. F Bowen, Publisher -- Logansport 1902

There are many old and experienced farmers in Kosciusko county, Indiana, but there are few who excel in years or experience Joseph Ulrich, of Jackson township, who is the subject of this biography. He was born in Montgomery County, Ohio, December 26, 1813, and is a son of Stephen and Ann (Christian) Ulrich.

The great-grandparents of Mr. Ulrich came from Germany long prior to the American Revolution and settled in that part of Huntingdon county which has since been erected into the county of Blair in Pennsylvania. There the paternal grandfather of subject married Susan Urench, who bore him six children, namely: Joseph, Susan, Catherine, Mary, Stephen and Samuel.

Stephen Ulrich, father of Joseph, the subject of this sketch, removed from the Keystone state to the Buckeye state soon after his marriage and bought two hundred and eighty acres of land near the city of Dayton, in Montgomery county, but after farming there for some years sold out and came to Kosciusko county, Indiana. In October, 1835, there had been a land sale at Fort Wayne, at which Stephen entered a large tract in Jackson township, Kosciusko county. Joseph, the subject, and a brother, although they owned nine hundred and sixty acres, were desirous of securing six hundred and forty additional acres, and on Monday, January 3, 1836, started on foot from Dayton, Ohio, for Laporte, Indiana, bent on making further purchases.

Their route was by the way of Muncie, Indiana, and thence to Marion, where there were only three log houses at the time, and then to LaGro. At this point they were overtaken by darkness and could find no means by which they could cross the Wabash river and felt themselves to be in good luck when they found shelter in a shanty in the neighborhood for the night. The two brothers had on their persons seventeen hundred dollars and for a long time sat by the fire, but, eventually retired to bed, but not to sleep. The following morning the brothers crossed the river in a skiff and forged on to Laporte, via Manchester.

They entered three hundred and twenty acres of government land in Jackson township, Kosciusko county, and then went on to Logansport, Lafayette and Indianapolis, all at that time small towns. They walked all the way, a distance of five hundred miles, and were about five weeks on the trip, crossing swollen streams on logs and following Indian trails through the woods. Finally Stephen Ulrich returned to Ohio.

To Stephen and Anna (Christian) Ulrich were born six children, viz: Joseph, subject of this sketch; Samuel, who married Sarah Ulrich, but is now deceased; Soloman; Stephen, who first married a Miss Heeter and secondly Susan Overhultzer, a native of Wabash county, Indiana; Jacob, who also married a Miss Heeter and likewise resides in Wabash county, and Elizabeth, wife of Jacob Heeter, of the same county.

Joseph Ulrich learned the shoemaker's trade in his early days and followed that calling for thirty-five years. He had attended school about nine months, and had learned to read and write, but acquired some considerable knowledge when he was united in marriage, August 9, 1838, with Miss Elizabeth Swihart, who was born September 21, 1819, in Ohio. Six years after marriage he came to Kosciusko county, Indiana, and in 1844 settled in Jackson township on twenty-two acres of woodland, the farm on which he now lives, which land he cleared up and improved with a comfortable dwelling and other necessary structures. In the winter of 1846 he taught the first school in the township and received forty-five dollars for his sixty days service in this capacity.

Joseph and Elizabeth (Swihart) Ulrich have been blessed with five children, namely: Gabriel, born December 26, 1839, taught school several terms, married Mary A. Kreider, and lives in Jackson township; Stephen A., born July 22, 1842, married Rachel Bear and also resides in this township, Aaron, born April ll, 1844, married Mary J. Miller and died in 1875; Anna E., born September 2, 1847, is the wife of Levi Miller; Joseph, born July l, 1850, married Elizabeth Miller, and these two families likewise live in Jackson township.

In 1848 Mr. Ulrich built a saw-mill in which he sawed many thousand feet of lumber and also destroyed many thousand feet by fire, as he owned a half-section of forest land in one body and an eighty-acre tract besides.

Mr. and Mrs. Ulrich are devout members of the German Baptist church, of which they have been communicants since 1840, and which they have liberally aided in supporting financially. This body was organized in 1837, and it will be seen that the subject and wife were among its early members. Since 1860 Mr. Ulrich has been a deacon and for over thirty years was sexton; he witnessed the church's many struggles in the earlier days, but has lived to see it thrive and increase until the original Eel River District, as it was called, had been subdivided into several districts, a schism having occurred for some reason in the congregation in 1881.

Mr. Ulrich has never interfered with or taken any active part in politics, but his proclivities are with the Republicans. He and wife have journeyed over the path of life hand in hand for sixty-four years and are in all probability the oldest couple in Kosciusko county; certainly none are better known nor more highly respected for their many amiable personal characteristics. Mr. Ulrich has ever been a truly public-spirited citizen and has done as much, in a monetary sense and otherwise, for Jackson township as any man living within its boundaries, and in consequence stands as one of the foremost in public esteem.