Source: News-Journal, January 25, 1940


The Irish who helped build the canal through Wabash county more than a century ago not only knew how to fight, but they also knew how to make love. At any rate they evidently stole a march on their Protestant brethren, for the first three marriage licenses issued in Wabash county were to three Irish Catholic couples. It was June 16, 1835, according to records in the court house at Wabash, that Col. William Steele first county clerk, issued the licenses to the three couples. The first one was issued to Edward Tierney and Mary Hannah. The second one was issued to Timothy O'Brien and Mary Russel, and the third one to William MaHoney and Catharine Murnan. They were all married by the Rev. Father Simon L. Latumier, a Catholic priest.

Nothing is known definitely of what became of these three couples, nor whether they were from "Wabash Town," as it was known then or whether they were from Lagro. It is safe to assume the men were connected with the canal building, for they did not become permanent residents of Lagro, nor of Wabash, so far as ancient records show. Nor, apparently, did Father Latumier locate permanently in the county. He probably was one of the roving priests that followed the westward march of civilization in the early thirties.

The three marriages mentioned above were not the first marriages in the county. There was one prior to 1834, although the exact date is not known, since Wabash county had not been organized then. Joseph McClure and Miss Elizabeth Keller were the first to be married. At that time most of Wabash county and all of Huntington county were a part of Grant county. That part of Wabash county west of Range 5, was a part of Miami county. The dividing line between Range 5 and Range 6 East, is a mile east of Roann. Preachers were few in those days, but Capt. Elias Murray of Lagro held a justice of the peace appointment for Grant county. Miss Keller wanted the marriage ceremony performed at the Keller home, and sent word to Capt. Murray to come there. But he knew the Keller home was in Miami county, being a little west of the Range line mentioned above, so he arranged to meet the young couple on the east side of the Range line so he could legally perform the ceremony. According to ancient tradition the bride and groom rode horseback to the appointed place and were accompanied by several friends. There in the "forest primeval under the canopy of the open skies", occurred the first white marriage in Wabash county. After the ceremony the wedding party returned to the Keller home for the festivities incident to a wedding.

Miss Keller was a daughter of Judge and Mrs. Jonathan Keller. The Keller family came to Wabash county in 1828 at the request of General Tipton. Mr. Keller was at Logansport preparing to build a hotel at that place when General Tipton asked him to take place as miller at Indian Mills, southwest of Wabash on Mill creek. The miller, Mr. McBean, was afraid to stay near the Indians. Mr. Keller accepted, and ground flour for the Indians for four years, at a salary of $400 a year. He was assisted by his oldest son, Ephraim Keller, and during the first year by Sumner Boone, a cousin of Daniel Boone of Kentucky. It was while the Keller family lived at Indian Mills that Jonathan, Jr., was born in 1830. So far as known he was the first white child born in the county. In 1832 the Keller family moved to Flint Springs, now the city of Huntington in Huntington county. He returned to Wabash county and located on a farm near Rich Valley. He was active in the early organization of the county and lived until 1848.

Joseph McClure was a son of Robert McClure, who settled at Lagro in 1830. The McClure and Keller families were close friends and thus it was but natural that a romance resulted between Joseph and Elizabeth. Robert McClure, in the spring of 1831, leased land of General Tipton and built a cabin on land that later became a part of Lagro. He did not stay at Lagro long, sold his lease to Lewis Rogers, and moved to Grant county. Hence the marriage of Joseph McClure and Elizabeth Keller must have occurred in 1831 or possibly a year or so later.

Robert McClure was a son of Samuel McClure, Sr., who had come to Wabash in 1827, building a cabin near the Treaty Ground. Robert and his brother, Samuel, Jr., built the first road in Wabash county in 1833. The road extended from the "Twenty Mile Stake", to Wabash and thence north to Eel River at North Manchester. Thus when people travel south on Road 13 to Wabash, they are traveling on the road the McClures built. It is not unlikely that young Joseph helped his father and uncle build this road.

Claude Stitt of Wabash knew and talked with Samuel McClure, Jr. at his home in Marion. McClure in 1827 operated a little store along the canal a little west of Wabash, and later moved to Marion. There Mr. McClure became a prominent and influential citizen, and an authority on Indian tribal history. He was personally acquainted with the old Indian chiefs, and had won their confidence to the extent they told him much about their tribal traditions and customs and of how they had been handed down from generation to generation. Mr. McClure lived to be past ninety years old, and to the the last retained a keen mind. Unlike many old men, his stories did not grow with frequent telling, and he was regarded as an accurate source of information.

Mr. Stitt, incidentally, is easily the best informed living person on Wabash county history. His grandfather was a superintendent of construction on the canal, and Claude has been an abstractor for 48 years. During that time in his search for information relating to title and property, he has traveled all over the county and state and even to Washington, D.C., to obtain necessary information. He knew and talked with the old pioneers or their children--people who had first hand knowledge of early affairs of the county, and thus became acquainted with much of the family history and events of early Wabash county. Mr. Stitt could, if he had the time, write a more accurate history of Wabash county than any other living person.

Some Lagro township authorities claim the marriage of John Russel and Elizabeth Ballenger was the first in the township and thus in Wabash county, but from the fact the McClure family left the county prior to 1835, and it is well established that the marriage ceremony occurred while the McClure family lived there, it would seem this claim is in error. Mr. Russel and Miss Ballenger were married Marcy 12, 1835. Their son, William Russell, was the first white child born in the township. Daniel Ballenger was one of the first two associate judges elected in Wabash county. Daniel Jackson was the other associate judge and they served under the Eighth judicial circuit comprising Huntington, Wabash and Miami counties of which Gustavus A. Everts was presiding judge. Ballenger and Jackson were appointed in 1885. More of the history of the judiciary system of the county will be told in a later story.

John Russel worked on the canal construction in 1834 and then returned to Indianapolis where he persuaded his father, Enoch Russel to come to Lagro with him. Possibly he had met Miss Ballenger during his first stay, and one of the reasons why he persuaded his father to come to Lagro township was his love for Miss Ballenger. At any rate they entered three eighty acre tracts in section 13 not far from the Hopewell church and the marriage occurred in January, 1835. Their marriage license was issued at Huntington, as Wabash county had not been organized as a county, and the Huntington court had jurisdiction.

Thus there were two marriages in the county before any marriage licenses were issued in the clerk's office at Wabash.

The first marriage license book in the clerk's office at Wabash is a little note book, about six by eight inches in size. The entries are faded but still legible, and in that insignificant looking little book are the entries that mark the start of many of the pioneer families of Wabash county. It should be remembered Wabash county was nothing but a wilderness. After the treaty with the Indians, the land of the county north of the Wabash river was opened for settlement, and there was a rush of people from Ohio, southern Indiana, which had been settled earlier, and from other eastern states. The only mode of travel then was afoot, horseback, or by rivers. The rough, crude trails had not been blazed as yet, and travel was difficult and dangerous. Many of the Indians were still unpacified and were hostile to the whites.

Naturally a new country attracted adventurers, who if conditions were right, did not hesitate to prey on the early settlers. Thus it is no wonder that the first settlements were along the Wabash river. Towns were started largely because of their proximity to streams. Lagro, near the confluence of the Wabash and Salamonie Rivers, had long been a trading point between traders and Indians. The same was true of Peru, where the Mississinewa and Wabash rivers joined, and Logansport where the Eel and Wabash rivers come together. The town of Wabash was more of an accident. The treaty of peace in October, 1826 was signed at Paradise Springs, near where the Big Four station is located at Wabash. Rude cabins were built to house the commissioners, and hence it was only natural that a a village should come into being. It was not until several years later, when the "back" country was being settled, that other towns, North Manchester and Liberty Mills, Laketon and others were started.

The youngster of today, who can cross the country in a swift automobile in a few minutes, can hardly conceive or picture the difficulty of travel in those days when forests, swamps and thickets made travel almost impossible. Hence it is hoped in this series of stories of our county and pioneers, to bring to our young people the realization that the Wabash county of today did not just happen. It took courage, vision, perseverance, and toil of the most arduous kind to establish a civilization out of a wilderness. It was accomplished in the short span of a half century, for fifty years after the first settlement, there was no unsettled land in the county, towns were well established, railroads had been built to the various towns, and the industrial foundations laid for the modern Wabash county of today.

(Note) The writer does not claim originality for the foregoing article, nor for others that will follow. First hand information is no longer available of the early events of our county. Of necessity the information must be gleaned from the records at Wabash, and from the various histories of the county that were written at various times. Those earlier historians gleaned their information from newspaper accounts of early events, letters of pioneers, and from still earlier histories. Hence few writers of historical facts can claim originality in what they write. Their only originality is in compiling information from various sources and converting it into language of their own. In this connection the writer wishes to acknowledge the following sources of information: Early files of Wabash and North Manchester newspapers, the Wabash County Atlas of 1872, "History of Wabash County of 1884", Clark Weesner's "History of Wabash County" and "Tales of the Old Days" by W.E. Billings. All of those books are no longer available for purchase. Hence the youngster of today is apt to remain ignorant of the early events of the county. It is the hope, in this series of articles, to bring information to the younger generation, and to recall to the older generation, many of the events with which they have long been familiar but who may have forgotten the details.

Source: News-Journal, February 15, 1940


The white race has been the most restless of all the human races. its members have spread until today there is hardly a land or a clime but what they have penetrated. Two principal motives have driven them in their explorations and migrations. The first is trade--trade with the aborigines they found in new lands. The second the search for new and favored lands where they might establish homes. Other motives may be intermixed, but after all the wanderings of the white race simmer down to these two purposes. Oddly enough no other race has wandered as has the whites. In fact, it has been the genius of the white race--their art in developing methods of transportation such as larger ships, railroads and more recently the automobile and airplane, that made possible the wandering into new lands. Most of the other races were either content to live in their original habitat, or migrated by land and eventually came into contact with the white race, who in defense of their homes and lands, were able to drive back the invaders. Thus through the ages the people of other races knew little or nothing of other lands and cared less.

America was discovered because of a search for new trade routes to the Indies. The overland route to China through the Dardanelles was closed when the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, and a new and more direct route was needed to the East Indies and China. The route around Africa was long and hazardous. Thus in a search for a new water route Columbus set forth on his eventful voyage that led to the discovery of the New World, and a momentous change in the history of man. Having sailed under the flag of Spain, that country got the jump on the other nations in exploiting the New World. The Spaniards were quick to overrun nearly all of South American, and North and Central America from the Florida Peninsula south. That land was more similar in climate to that of Spain than the land farther north. Then came the explorations of the English, Dutch and French. England explored and claimed the central, temperature zone of North America, flanking and overrunning the settlements of the Dutch, in New York. The French, through the discovery of the St. Lawrence river by Champlaine, quickly fastened on that waterway and the Great Lakes region, including much of Canada.

The Spanish idea of exploiting a new country was to wrest by force the wealth and resources from the aborigines. Tales of Spanish cruelty in Mexico, Florida, Central and Southern America are among the darkest in our so called civilized history. The French were no less scrupulous, but instead of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, as did the Spaniards, they followed a policy of lucrative trade with the natives. The Dutch also were traders, but surrounded by English colonies, and flanked on the north by the French, Holland was soon driven out of the new world.

Unlike the trading French and the Spaniards, the Anglo Saxon people have ever sought homes. When they came to the new world from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany and the Scandinavian countries, homes and land were the principle motives, while trade with the natives was secondary. Thus we find the English colonies locating on the Atlantic seaboard, where ships from the mother country could reach them, and where there could be an interchange of products of the new land for manufactured products of the mother country.

The French on other hand wandered far afield. While the English were being held from westward progress by the Appalachian mountains, the French to the north explored up the St. Lawrence valley, reaching the Great Lakes, and river waterways, and on to Mississippi. They had an eye for strategic places--places for trading posts and which, if fortified would command the travel and commerce from the interior. Quebec was one of the first posts, and a little later a post at Detroit controlled the travel between the Great Lakes and the northern route.

The almost impenetrable forests, savage beasts, thickets, swamps and deep morasses, made land travel extremely hazardous. It was impossible to carry food and other supplies in any quantity, nor to transport articles of trade. Hence it was to the water routes that the French turned. There were five ancient routes of travel from the northeast to the Mississippi. The northernmost was at the lower point of Lake Superior, where by means of rivers and lake and short portages the upper Mississippi could be reached. St. Esprit was founded at this place in 1665. Farther south on a long arm or bay of Lake Michigan was another portage from the Fox river over the Wisconsin and the Mississippi. There the French founded St. Xavier, now Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1669. Farther down Lake Michigan where Chicago is now located, the Chicago river flows from the west, and by means of a short portage the Illinois river could be reached. The fourth portage was at South Bend. The St. Joseph of the Lakes river empties into Lake Michigan at what is now St. Joseph, Michigan. There the French built Fort Miami in 1679. Travelers ascended the St. Joseph to South Bend, where the city by that name is located, thence portaged across to the source of the Kankakee river in the Kankakee swamp. From thence the Illinois river was reached and the Mississippi. The fifth, easiest of access, the most direct, and the most coveted route was from what is now Toledo up the Maumee river to Kekionga (Ft. Wayne). There is a seven or eight mile portage led southwest to Little River, east of North Manchester, thence down that river to the Wabash at Huntington and down the Wabash to the Ohio, and on to the Mississippi. A sixth, but little used route was to go south through the forests from Lake Erie until some of the streams were reached that emptied into the upper Ohio.

The Wabash river through Wabash county was thus the most important trade route from east to west. Those who travel Road 24 from Logansport to Toledo, little realize the historic ground they are traveling over. Long before the coming of the white men, the Indian tribes were battling for control of this water route. Kekionga was the strategic point. The tribe that controlled it, was in a strategic position and could permit or interrupt commerce and travel from east to west.  [missing text]

...was southward until they came to a river leading to the Ohio. They went down the Ohio, as far as the Falls of Louisville. Here LaSalle's men turned back, leaving LaSalle to shift for himself. There is no record of how he got back. It is thought he did not reach the Mississippi this trip. He may have returned by way of the Wabash, but there is no authentic information. A few years later LaSalle started northwestward to open the fur trade of the northwest. He landed at Green Bay with a little ship he had built. Sending part of the crew back, he continued to canoe southward along the Lake Michigan coast until he came to the St. Joseph river. There he built Ft. Miami. From there he went up that river to South Bend, portaged across to the Kankakee and thus reached the Illinois. There he built a fort which he called St. Louis. This is not to be confused with the St. Louis of the Mississippi. He figured he could control the trade of the Illinois Indians, and ship furs down the Mississippi to the gulf. This fort was later destroyed by a war party of the Iroquois. A few years later Kaskaskia on the Mississippi, above the mouth of the Ohio, Ft. Chartres, and Cahokia were built.

French were quick to realize value of LaSalle's vision of a fur trading empire. Cadillac fortified a post at Detroit in 1701. Ft. Michilimackinac, now Mackinac, Michigan, had been established as a post at an earlier date as well as St. Marie commanding the Sault Ste-Marie leading to Lake Superior. Ouitenon, (or Ouiatenon) post on the Wabash near Lafayette, for many years previous an important Indian town, was established in 1732. In the same year Vincennes was established farther down the Wabash. That with a later post at Kekionga, gave the French control of the direct routes to the Mississippi, while a post at Presque Isle at the mouth of the Maumee in Lake Erie and Fort Pitt near the Ohio-Pennsylvania  border, controlled the upper Ohio.

The only Indians bitterly hostile to the French were the Iroquois--a confederacy originally composed of five strong tribes, the Mohawks, Oneides, Cayugas, Onondagas, and Senecas. In 1772 the Tuscarora tribe was added to the confederacy, and thus the confederacy was known as the Six Nations during the Revolutionary war period. It was the Iroquois who had burned Fort St. Louis on the Illinois, and it was through the French, who had supplied the Illinois and Indiana Indians with firearms that these Indians were able to administer a thorough drubbing to the Iroquois on the lower Wabash near Terre Haute. The undying hatred of the Iroquois, who inhabited the territory south of the St. Lawrence, kept the French from invading and hindering the struggling English colonies on the Atlantic coast. Thus did events that transpired in the middle west, the wilderness of Indiana, affect later history of the east.

In closing this chapter of our early history, mention should be made of the Jesuits, those French religious missionaries who paved the way for the later French explorers. Fifty years before the exploration of LaSalle, the Jesuits had visited the tribes of the Great Lakes and the Wabash. They had won many converts among the Indians and by their gentle methods won the friendship of the natives. It was a Jesuit missionary, Marquette, who accompanied Joliet in his explorations. Marquette founded an Indian mission among the Illinois Indians near the later site of Fort Dearborn or Chicago. They were quickly followed by the explorers and traders. There was another reason for the friendship the Indian had for the French. They did not settle permanently and did not try to dispossess the Indians of their lands. Near the trading posts they had small patches for corn and vegetables, but their principle objective was trade--the exchange of furs for trinkets, blankets, fire arms, and to the eternal discredit of the white race, liquor. The latter, with the vices that it causes, did more to undermine and eventually defeat the Indians than all the armies ever sent against them.

Source: News-Journal, February 29, 1940


Had the plan of Thomas Jefferson been followed regarding the Northwest territory, we might be writing North Manchester, metropotamia, or North Manchester, Saratoga, instead of Indiana. We would have been near the Illinoia or Assenisipia state lines and our state would have extended to the Mississippi. Jefferson proposed that the states of the northwest territory, and the territory the Carolinas were ceding to the federal government east of the Mississippi should be divided into two tiers of rectangular states with the north and south dividing line the meridian that extends through the "Fall of the Ohio", and of two degrees latitude in width. Other suggested names of states north of the Ohio were Sylvania, Michigania, Polypotamia, Cherronessus, and Pelisipia.

Jefferson also suggested a system of surveying that was used in all land surveys of the United States after 1787. In the eastern colonies the surveying was haphazard, and was made from landmark to landmark. That made irregular property lines, disputes in title and much inconvenience. Jefferson planned a system that made it easy to locate a particular section or part section of land. Jefferson's plan called for base lines or east and west parallel lines and 24 north and south meridian lines that with the base lines formed rectangles of every area in the vast lands the United States later gained. The Indiana-Ohio boundary line is the first of these north and south lines. The second one is a few miles west of Fulton county, the third and fourth are in Illinois, and so on westward, until line 24 is in Oregon.

A square area of land, known as the section, or 640 acres was to be the basis of land measurement, and an area six sections square, or containing 36 sections, was to be known as a congressional township. The township was to be surveyed and the sections numbered, starting with the northeast section, and numbered successively west for six sections, then the next tier to the south was numbered eastward from 7 to 12 inclusively, and so on until all are numbered. Thus section 36 of any township is the southeast section. The sections themselves were divided into quarter sections of 160 acres, and in turn divided into fractional tracts such as forty or twenty or even smaller units.

Starting with the east and west base line, each township was separated by township lines and numbered. Thus North Manchester is in township 29 and 30 north of the base line, the alley north of Second street being the line between township 29 and township 30. In other words township 30 is 180 miles north of the base line. Similarly east and west from the north and south line the townships were numbered by ranges. Most of Chester township is in Range 7 east of this line, while west of the line the ranges are known as Range West. Pleasant township is in range 6 and part of 5, Fulton county parts of range 5,4, and 3, and so on until the base range line is reached. There are 8 townships south of the base line and 40 townships north.

The east and west base line is 38 degrees, 30 minutes north of the equator and extends through Clarke, Washington, Orange, Dubois, Pike, Gibson and Knox county, and at the Illinois line is a little above Vincennes. The 41st parallel extends through Chester township and Road 114 is on this line. The north and south line is 86 degrees, 30 minutes west of Greenwich.

A degree of latitude is 69 ¼ miles. Following the Jeffersonian plan, when the surveys were actually made in Indiana, the Government surveyors starting with the east and west base line in Southern Indiana, surveyed the land in congressional townships. Because the meridians converge toward the poles and because of possible errors in surveying the townships into sections, some system of correction was needed. Hence it was decided that each sixth tier of townships north of the base line should be known as correctional townships. If there had been an error in surveying the other five, the north side of the sixth tier was surveyed on true solar and magnetic bearings, so true lines were maintained. A correctional system was needed within the township, so it was decided that the west tier and south tier of sections should be known as correctional sections, and that the correction should be in the west half of the west tier of sections and the south half of the south tier of sections.

Road 114 is on a congressional township line. Hence the north and south roads do not always meet as cross roads, but as T roads. The deviation was because of errors in surveying in the townships north and south of this line. The line between Chester and Pleasant townships which is known as a range line line, runs straight north and south through Wabash county. Hence the four roads, a mile west of North Manchester, meet as a perfect cross road. three, four, five and six miles west of town, there are jogs where the roads meet.

All the sections east of North Manchester are full sections, but the west half of the tier of sections on the east side of the Chester-Pleasant township line are not full 160 acre tracts, because of the need of correcting errors in surveying farther east. And so it was in all the congressional townships. It should be remembered the surveyors were blazing trails through a wilderness. Land was cheap, and it would have taken too much time, and bother to have retraced and resurveyed to correct an error of a few rods in a survey of six miles across a township.

At the section corners, trees were blazed if they stood on the corner, a stone was sometimes used as a marker, with a notation chipped on it, or sometimes a mound of earth was formed. The line of a section or quarter section line was blazed by chipping bark from trees, and in the original survey records at Wabash will be found descriptions of the line for each tract of land.

Jefferson's plan for forming the states of the Northwest territory was never followed, but most of the principles of government he advocated were later incorporated into the Ordinance of 1787. This ordinance is said by some historians to be the greatest law ever enacted in this country. It provided for not less than three nor more than five states. When there were 5,000 male inhabitants, provisions were to be made for a territorial government and when the population had increased to 35,000, the territory was to be accorded statehood with equal powers and voice of the older states. Full civil and religious liberty was established. The right of equal inheritance was granted instead of the old system of the elder son inheriting the bulk of an estate; there was to be no slavery, nor indentured labor; and a system of education was to be encouraged. To do this section 16 of each congressional township was set aside for school purposes. It was from the sale of the school lands, that the common school fund was created, the interest of which is used to support the schools today. Later some of the western states were given two sections, the 16th and 36th sections of each township for school purposes.

The ordinance of 1787 went even farther than the Constitution in safeguarding the rights of man, and it has become the model of nearly every state constitution adopted since that time.

It was one thing to provide a system of surveying and forming the Northwest territory into states. It was another thing to accomplish it. Although England had ceded to the United States most of the territory of the Northwest, the United States government, from its inception, held that the land was owned by the Indians, and that it should be taken from them only by their consent. Jefferson, a great humanitarian, had the idea that gradually the Indians could be civilized, and that in time the whites and Indians would mingle together in peaceful occupations. He did not realized the wild nature of the Indians, nor the rush of land and home hungry people that was so soon to cause the bloody Indian wars.

The Indians by treaty first ceded a portion of land in southeastern Ohio, and the first permanent settlement was made at Marietta in 1788. In the meantime the British, who had retained possession of Detroit after the peace treaty with the colonists in 1783 were inciting the Indians to resist the encroaching whites. Raids on the settlers followed. General harmer was sent to punish them, and penetrated as far as Kekionga (Fort Wayne). There he was compelled to retreat, and in a disastrous battle, overwhelmingly defeated. General St. Clair was sent with another force, and he also was taken by surprise by the Indians and his army was wiped out. General Anthony Wayne was sent with a third army, and he defeated the Indians in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The battle occurred on the Maumee river, near Napoleon, Ohio, August 20, 1794. Wayne with his army then marched and surrounded a British Fort erected near where Maumee, Ohio, now stands. Wayne would probably have stormed this fort, had he not feared it would provoke a general war with England. He then turned and made his way up the Maumee to Kekionga destroying the Indian villages as he went. At Kekionga he built a fort and called it Fort Wayne. This controlled the ancient waterway of the Maumee to the Wabash, and from the first Fort Wayne became one of the strategic posts in Indiana. At a treaty at Greenville, most of Ohio, and part of southern Indiana was ceded to the whites, and post reservations, six miles square, were ceded at Fort Wayne, Fort Dearborn where Chicago now is located, Fort St. Joseph at the mouth of the Lake Michigan river by that name, and other frontier posts.

It seemed as though permanent peace was really at hand but it did not last. The Indians were dissatisfied, the whites continued to encroach on territory, and encouraged by the British they were soon in rebellion again. During the Revolutionary war George Rogers Clark and his Virginians had driven the British from Fort Kaskaskia on the Mississippi and then had marched to Indiana where he captured the post at Vincennes. The British still smarted from the drubbing of Clark and the loss of territory and valuable trade routes, the importance of which they perceived too late.

Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, had settle in a village at the junction of the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers, and there, encouraged by the British, they were inciting the Indians to rebellion. General William H. Harrison who was first territorial governor of Indiana, defeated the Prophet's forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe November 7, 1811. It occurred while Tecumseh was away trying to stir up the tribes for another war against the whites and it broke the power of the Prophet and Tecumseh. Then the war of 1812 broke out and the Fort Dearborn and other massacres followed. The war ended with the Battle of the Thames in what is now Canada. Claim to Detroit was relinquished, and British meddling with the Indians ceased.

Source: News-Journal, March 4, 1940


The old times did not always agree, and almost as soon as the county was organized, disputes occurred that called for settlement in court. In fact court cases were being tried before there was any court house built in "Wabash Town", and the trials were held in the cabins of Wabash residents. The first case from Chester township involved Peter Ogan, founder of North Manchester, and Richard Helvey, first permanent settler in the township. This despite the fact that a year or two previously Bryant Fannin had held the first religious service in Chester township in Peter Ogan's cabin, and Richard Helvey and his family had attended this service. Money was the cause of the court action. Organ, in a complaint filed in court in February 1837, claimed he loaned Helvey $150 April 10, 1836 and that Helvey was to repay the loan on demand of Ogan.

The sheriff on February 14, 1837, was ordered by the court "to take into custody the body of Richard Helvey, if he may be found in your bailiwick, and him safely keep so that you have his body before the judges of the Wabash circuit court on the first day of the next term to be holden at the house of Henry D. Dixon in the town of Wabash in said county on the second Monday in march, 1837, to answer Peter Ogan in an action of assumption of damages in the amount of $150."

The sheriff evidently did not take a half hour away from his office and drive in his automobile to North Manchester to arrest Ogan, for the following notation is found on the back of the summons, "No bail required. Summons not served on account of high water. A.N. Blackmore, sheriff."

On July 14 the defendant was called and pleaded not guilty. Wright & Patterson were Helvey's attorneys and William Coomler was Ogan's attorney. The sheriff was ordered to summon as witnesses Thomas R. Dailey, John N. Stephens, John Comstock, Joseph Harter, Elias Murray, James S. Smith, Gabriel Swinehart (Swihart), John Simonton and Frederick Albright.

Helvey countered in the September term by filing suit for $3,000 damages against Ogan. The latter, shortly after he laid out the town, constructed a dam in Eel River west of the covered bridge near the electric sub station. He built a mill race from the river near the covered bridge across the narrow neck of land to the bend in the river near where the Ulrey mill now is. That backed up the water on Helvey's land, just north of the College football field. In the complaint it is charged that Ogan "kep and maintained a certain dam in Eel river, abutting defendants land, and thereby causing the water of said river to flow back over the banks, inundating the lands of plaintiff, and causing sickness by reason of stagnate water remaining on said plaintiffs's land."

More witnesses were summoned by Helvey, this time David Simonton, Eli Harter, Jacob Simonton, John Shellenbarger and William E. Willys (Willis).

The trial was held September 4, 1839, in the cabin of Lemuel G. James. The jury included Thomas R. Daily, Ira Burr, George W. Smith, Abraham Enyeart, Presley Pricket, Jeremiah Garrison, Odam Hartsell, George Dillon, John Simonton, Eli Harter, Stephen B. Leming and Elias Drollinger. From the fact Harter and John Simonton, previously had been summoned as witnesses for Helvey, it would seem Ogan overlooked a bet when he allowed them to serve as jurors. Just what happened to the note case of Ogan is not clear, for nothing more is mentioned of it in the court records. It may have been settled out of court, prior to the time of this trial, or the jury may have taken it into consideration when they rendered a verdict of $152 in favor of Helvy. Costs of the case were assessed to Ogan.

Ogan had built his dam to furnish water power for a saw mill. It was only a short time later that Jacob Harter, Sr., and his son, Eli Harter, had arrived in this locality, and soon selected a site for a mill about a mile below the Ogan mill. This dam was near the Wabash road, and the present dam is on or near the same site. It was of sufficient height to back up water nearly to the Second street bridge, and hence affected Ogan's water power. Possibly Ogan was angry because Eli Harter, as a juror in the Helvey case, had helped decide the case against him. At any rate Ogan, and Ira Smith, whom Ogan evidently had taken into partnership in the mill, brought suit against Joseph Harter, asking damages of $1,000 and claiming that the Harter dam affected his water power. That was February 25, 1842. Harter filed a demurrer and it was over ruled. The case was set for trial in the September term, 1842, and Harter called for a jury trial. The jurors were Philip Goodlander, Samuel Leedy, Philip Martin, James W. Massey, Elihu Ogden, William Tyner, Philander Fowler, Daniel Brooks, Thomas F. Massey, Tobais Miller, Jacob Huller, John A. Burget. This jury found in favor of Harter. Ogan and Smith asked for a new trial.

During the year, the litigants agreed to leave the case to an arbitration committee. This committee included Gabriel Swihart, Jacob Humrickhouse, Daniel Swank, Samuel Leedy and Jacob Heckathorn. They reported to court on September 19th, 1843. They said in their report they had carefully considered the testimony involving water rights on Eel River, and after "due deliberation and inspection of the premises," had reached the conclusion that Ogan & Smith were not entitled to damages. They asked for witness fees of 25 cents for each witness they interviewed. Harter's witnesses were Asa Jacobs, Lorenzo Jacobs, Milo Jacobs, Eli Harter, Abraham Switzer, William Willis, and Henry Strickler. Ogan's witnesses were Thomas Dean, I.R. Dailey, Thomas Thorn, Henry Strickler, David John, John Ogan and Eli Gumery.

Ogan was still dissatisfied and in a lengthy petition asked for further hearing. Harter then took the offensive, asked the court to overrule the petition, and close the case. This the court sustained, and the case ended, with possibly more hard feelings than when it started.

It would seem the Ogan and Harter families were destined to be in continuous litigation over the water rights of the river. A third and last case involved Margaret Ogan and her children, widow and heirs of John Ogan and Joseph B. and Jacob Harter, jr., son of Jacob Harter, Sr., and brothers of Eli mentioned above. John Ogan was a brother of Peter Ogan. This case was started in the sixties and was appealed to the Indiana supreme court. The circuit court had ruled in favor of the Harters but the supreme court reversed this verdict and gave a verdict in favor of the Ogans.

Some time prior to 1846 Peter Ogan had sold his mill and the dam site to Mahlon Frame. Frame on September 13, 1846, contracted with Samuel Leonard to deliver a certain quantity of water down a flume to operate a water power for Leonard's foundry on south Mill street. This foundry was immediately south of where Moine Enyeart lives, and north of the Ogan mill. The contract which was for a period of twenty years, provided that 180 square inches of water was to be supplied down this flume, to a water wheel which was to turn the machinery in the foundry and machine shop. It was provided that if the water level was so low in period of dry weather that it would interfere with operations at the mill, then the water could be shut off. Similarly if repairs were needed at the dam, or in emergencies beyond the control of Frame. The rental for this water was to be $12 a year for the first seven years, for the succeeding ten years $20 a year, and for the last three years $25 a year. That seems an insignificant sum in these days, but money was scarce in pioneer times, and the price probably was not too low. Leonard spent about $1,000 equipping his shop, but before he had used it long he died. His widow, Almira Leonard, sold the foundry and the water power right to John Ogan and Albert Ball July 21, 1854. Ball in turn sold his interest to John Ogan in December, 1855. Ogan only lived until June 16, 1856.

During all this time the Harters were operating their mill at the dam at the southwest part of town, and had installed machinery that made it one of the best flour mills in the country. No doubt because of previous trouble with Peter Ogan, they wished to own the Ogan dam site and thus save further differences with the owners. At any rate the Harter Brothers bought the Ogan dam and mill of Frame October 29, 1853. According to the complaint in the court action, the Ogan dam was partly torn out January 15, 1857, thus leaving the John Ogan foundry without water power. Mrs. Ogan and children, through the administrator of the Ogan estate, Reuben Smith, brought a damage action for $999 against the Harters in Wabash circuit court.

The case dragged through several successive terms of court. A deposition of William Frame of Xenia, Ohio, taken to be used as testimony in the trial, throws an interesting light on the situation. Mahlon Frame was dead, and William, probably a brother of Mahlon, had moved to Ohio. John W. Pettit, who later became judge of the Wabash circuit court and Calvin Cowgill, a well known attorney of the county, represented the Harters and obtained this deposition. Cowgill was later a member of congress. In substance Frame declared in his deposition water power at the foundry was not used very often, that the owners had told him it was too expensive to operate, and that horsepower would be cheaper than the water power. He also stated there had been times when the rental had not been paid promptly, the trend of his statements being that there could not be much damage because the water right was little used. William had been connected with the mill while Mahlon owned it.

The case was tried some time in 1858 and the decision was against the Ogan estate. An appeal was then taken to the Indiana Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has always had a reputation of being slow, but it took longer to get a case settled then than it does now. The Civil War started in 1861, and Mr. Smith, grandfather of Horace Smith of North Manchester, went into service and was killed at the Battle of Champion Hills near Vicksburg, May 16, 1863.

The decision of the Supreme Court was not made until July 30, 1862, and in this decision the court reversed the Wabash circuit court and ruled that Mrs. Ogan was entitled to recover damages. The Harters asked for a rehearing and May 28, 1863, the Supreme Court, in another lengthy opinion, upheld its former ruling and reversed the decision of the circuit court.

So far as can be learned the Wabash circuit court never acted on this reversal. There is no record of any judgment being awarded the Ogans. The dam by that time was no longer serviceable, and it was fast becoming a past issue. Possibly two reasons kept the case from going farther. The Civil war started in 1861 and Reuben Smith, who was administrator of the Ogan estate and a party to the suit, had entered service. He was killed at the battle of Champion Hills near Vicksburg, Mississippi, May 16, 1863. He was the grandfather of Horace Smith of North Manchester. Mrs. Ogan died in 1865, and there was no one to push the action farther.

Today there is no trace of the Ogan dam, so far as known one of the first, if not the first dam in Eel River. many of the residents of North Manchester today do not know there was a dam near the covered bridge, and history makes no mention of these law suits.

Source: News-Journal, March 7, 1940


The mill that Joseph Harter, Sr., erected in 1839, was succeeded by a better mill in 1843, and he operated this mill until 1851 when he retired and turned it to his sons, Jacob and Joseph B. Harter. Possibly another reason why the action of the Ogan family went no farther after the supreme court decision, was because the Harters sold the mill in 1864 to Peter King. During the next few years it passed through successive ownership until it was purchased by Daniel Strauss and Henry Arnold in 1872.

J.K. Lautzenhiser, one of the older residents, remembers the remnants of the old Ogan dam. He says it was built of brush, piled with the butt ends upstream. Interwoven with the brush were stones and dirt. The Harters had only torn out part of dam, and a considerable portion of the water flowed through the race. In fact had the race not been filled later on near the covered bridge, it is very likely the river would have cut a new channel directly across instead of the roundabout bend that is the present channel. Ogan had to build an earthen bank on the south side of the covered bridge to keep the water from flowing south to Pony creek. Mr. Lautzenhiser recalls that as boy he swam in the river and race many times. He recalls a big thorn tree that stood near the river at the point where the mill race started, and of how it probably saved the life of John Ballenger, father of William Ballenger.

Leonard Brothers operated a butcher shop, and had their slaughter house on the island, between the race and the river to the west. The slaughter house was on the highest ground, and was built some distance above the ground. In time of high water hogs that were kept on the island were driven into the slaughterhouse. On this occasion the river had risen rapidly and John Ballenger started in a boat to rescue the hogs. His boat was caught in the current where it divided into the mill race and the main stream. Undoubtedly the boat would have capsized had not Ballenger grabbed the thorn tree. As he clung to the branches, the boat was swept away, and Ballenger was stranded. His cries for help were heard by Carter Wallace and William ford, and they rescued him in another boat. According to Mr. Lautzenhiser the Ogan mill stood near the site of the Cleveland gasoline station on south Mill street, and he distinctively remembers the old building.

The island was frequently used as a circus ground, and since there was no bridge across the mill race, the circus equipment was taken across at the place it was the shallowest. Presumably the young gallants taking their best girls to the circus, carried them across the mill race. The late C.C. Winebrenner when he obtained that land about twenty years ago, allowed people to haul trash into the race, and it became the town dump. When it was full Mr. Winebrenner hauled in dirt, and made a level field out of the ground.

Mahlon Frame, and William Thorn, his partner in many enterprises, were contemporary in North Manchester with the Ogans and Harters. While Mr. Thorn was not associated with Frame in the mill, the two had formed a partnership in 1839 and operated a dry goods and grocery store on the site now occupied by the Landis drug store, the northwest corner of Main and Walnut streets. Michael Knoop later became a partner, and after a period of time, Mr. Frame and Mr. Knoop retired. Thorn purchased as much stock as he could carry in a two horse wagon and took it to Iowa. A year later he returned to North Manchester and again entered the mercantile business. George W. Lawrence, who came to North Manchester in 1851, first worked for John Whisler, father of the late David Whisler, and when Thorn and Whisler formed a partnership, he continued with this firm. Mr. Lawrence bought this store in 1858 and started on his career as a merchant and banker in North Manchester. More of him will be told in a later story.

Mahlon Frame died in 1851 and Mr. Thorn served as administrator of his estate. He had prospered in business, and his estate amounted to $8,469.03. He left three young children, another instance that many of our pioneers did not live to old age. The children were James, age 9, Horace Greely, age 7, and Mahlon C., aged 4. Michael Kircher was appointed their guardian.

Some items of the sale of personal property are of interest. A yoke of oxen was bought by Michael Kircher for $53.50. An ox wagon was sold to James Lemington for $39.50. A large sow was sold to David Krisher for $3, and A. Randall bought a tar bucket for 12¢. A tar bucket took the place of axle grease in those days, and whenever a wagon axle started squeaking, an application of tar was daubed on. The bucket, usually made of leather, was carried along under the wagon. A dinner horn was sold to Jacob Snook for 31 cents, and a spotted cow to Jacob Walters for $11.37.

Many of the older North Manchester people will remember the Frame children, James dying only a few years ago. Mahlon Frame was an uncle of George Frame's father, Amos Frame. it is probable that Mahlon Frame was a brother to the late David Frame, father of Gus B. Frame, but the latter is not positive on the point except that he knows there was a relationship.

Mr. Thorn did not live long after he sold his interest in the store to George Lawrence. he died in September, 1860. He was survived by the widow, Elizabeth, and four children, Adrena, age 16, Terressa age 10, Lizzy age 5, and Charles age 3. Adrena later married a Mr. Church and lived in Chicago. Her son was at one time a member of congress. Terressa married Ezra Haas. Lizzy married Dr. Richard Gillen, who practiced medicine in Wabash for a number of years. Charles lived on a farm north of Wabash for a time and later moved to Colorado. Claude Stitt of Wabash, who knew the family well, thinks all the children of William Thorn are dead.

Mr. Thorn owned a half section of land west of the Big Four railroad and north of Thorn Street, the street taking its name from the Thorn family. This land includes the site of the Peabody factory, Oaklawn cemetery, the old gravel pit and tile factory, as well as the farms of Calvin Wood, and Sam Blocher. Terressa had married and May 14, 1869, she brought an action in partition in Wabash circuit court. A commission of three was appointed to report on the matter. They were Peter Crill, John W. Williams, grandfather of Mrs. Ferne Forsythe, and M.S. Marshall. Their report was this land was "not susceptible to division without injury to the same in value for the reason a wet prairie runs diagonally through the said land, so no part can be divided without injury to the whole and the same can be sold as a whole at a better price." They asked five dollars each for their services. John Sivey was appointed commissioner to sell real estate. In the meantime Mrs. Thorn, the widow, and guardian of the children, had married Joseph Crabbs and on behalf of the minor children, she purchased this farm for $15,300. The married daughter was given her share, and the mother and children retained their interest until several years later when the land was finally sold. Court costs in the action amounted to $41.55, and government stamps on the deed amounted to $42. The Civil War debt had to be paid, and the government had imposed a tax on legal papers. We, who think the present revenue stamp tax as a new thing, should remember that the Revolutionary war started because of a stamp tax.

It took several years to settle the Thorn estate. Isaac Thorn, who in July, 1859, had contracted to buy an eighty acre farm for $600, did not finish paying for it until after the death of Mr. Thorn. This farm was described as the south half of the northeast quarter of section 28, township 29 North, Range 7 east, and is a mile and a quarter south of Servia on the west side of the road. The guardianship of the Thorn children did not end until the November term of court, 1879, when Charles came of age.

Claude Stitt, Wabash abstractor, recalls an interesting interview with Mrs. Crabbs, the widow of Mr. Thorn. Mr. and Mrs. Crabbs lived in Wabash, and Claude was bothered because in some transfers of property Mrs. Thorn and Mr. Crabbs had made on a certain day, each deeded the properties as unmarried persons, while on the same day other property was deeded, and they are mentioned in the deed as husband and wife. Mr. Stitt went to the Crabbs home to find out about it. After explaining his errand, he said there was probably an error. To which Mrs. Crabbs calmly replied, "No there was no error. Mr. Crabbs and I both had some property we wished to transfer before our marriage. We did that in the forenoon. We were married at noon, and in the afternoon we made other property transfers."

Source: News-Journal, March 14, 1940


A position, if you belong to the upper crust, or a job if you are an ordinary person, is the greatest problem in America today. But it was not the opportunity to work that was the crying need a hundred or more years ago, it was transportation. The Indian got along fairly well. All he carried was his bow and arrow, tomahawk, or hunting knife, and the weight of his clothing did not bother him. His squaw carried the few cooking utensils on her back, and it was easier to build a new wigwam than to transport the old one. When he wanted to move, he just told his squaw to pack up and they started. When they got tired or found a fishing and hunting place to suit their fancy, and that was not intruding too much on a rival tribe's territory, they built a new wigwam and that was their new home. If an Indian was near a stream, he could travel in a canoe, and if inland, he used the forest trails. One place was just as good as another to him.

It was not so with the white man. When he went into a new country, he was not satisfied with the conveniences, or rather inconveniences he found. He came from more civilized places and was not content until he had at least some of the comforts of civilization in his new wilderness home. The early settlers managed to get in this part of Indiana by one means or another, but once here they were stranded in the wilderness. It was difficult and costly to get the manufactured necessities of life, and what they raised was worth but little, because it cost too much to get it to market.

Even before the settlers came, the Indians, through contact with the white people, had come to rely on the trading posts as places to exchange their peltries for guns, powder and shot, and other trade goods of the whites. These trading posts were along the streams, for that was the easiest way to travel long distances.

As mentioned in a previous article, the Wabash and Maumee river route between Lake Erie and the Ohio River had long been known and favored by the Indians and the early white traders. But the river route had many handicaps. Neither the Wabash nor the Maumee were navigable all the way, except for lightest crafts, throughout the year. Also there was a portage of seven or eight miles between Little River, one of the branches of the Wabash, and the St. Mary's near the junction with the St. Joseph to form the Maumee at Fort Wayne.

When there were only a few settlers in Northern Indiana, a waterway was being discussed and this discussion led to talk of a canal to be built from Lake Erie to where the Wabash river was navigable. Shortly after the treaty with the Indians at St. Mary's in 1818, Captain Riley went to Fort Wayne to look over the situation with a view to obtaining a contract to survey land. He sensed the possibility of a canal to drain the wet lands southwest of Fort Wayne, and to establish a waterway link between Little River and the St. Mary's. Gradually out of this idea came the thought of a canal from Lake Erie to the navigable part of the Wabash. Riley's idea was reported to Edward Tiffin, surveyor general of the United States, and he is credited with bringing it to the attention of Congress. At the session of 1823 an act was passed authorizing a "survey through the public lands of Indiana, the route of a canal by which to connect the navigation of the rivers, Wabash and Miami (Maumee) and Lake Erie, and 90 feet of land on each side of the canal was to be reserved for public purposes and no other." In 1827 further encouragement was given by setting aside land, alternate sections on each side of the canal for five miles back, to be sold and the money to be used to build the canal. The Indiana legislature accepted this plan and canal commissioners were appointed including Samuel Hanna of Fort Wayne, David Burr of Jackson county, later of Wabash, and Robert John of Hamilton county.

Congress had stipulated work was to start five years from 1827, and was to be finished in 20 years. Work did not commence until a few days before expiration of the five year time limit. Governor Ray had opposed the canal idea, saying railroads were the coming thing. But canals were in successful operation in the east, steel would have to be imported for rails, while material was at hand with which to build the canal. Waterways were considered at that time the easiest and cheapest means of travel. We may smile at this reasoning today, yet it has been only a few years ago that an attempt was made to revive the canal project connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Erie through Northern Indiana and Ohio.

In 1831 the legislature had appropriated $200,000 to get the canal started, the canal commissioners set up a land office to sell canal land, and on February 22, 1832, with pick and shovel, and with appropriate ceremonies similar to that of laying the corner stone of a building, the first dirt was dug at Fort Wayne. Charles W. Ewing made a flowery address, and J. Vigus, dug the first shovelful of dirt. Well satisfied with that start, the assemblage returned to the city for "refreshments" and with the feeling they had accomplished something.

Jesse L. Williams was chief engineer and Major Samuel Lewis was land commissioner. The contract for fifteen miles was let in June, 1832, and four more miles were contracted that fall. The canal was to extend from the "foot of the Maumee rapids to the mouth of the Tippecanoe." But the first contract was between Fort Wayne and "Flint Springs" (Huntington). July 2, 1835, three boats actually traveled the canal from Fort Wayne to Huntington. Ohio got busy in 1840 and started digging the canal across that state. By July 4, 1843, the canal was ready for use between Lake Erie and Lafayette, and the Great Lakes and the Mississippi were united.

A total of 1,457,366 acres of land in Indiana were sold and the proceeds used to pay for the canal. This land was sold for $2.50 to $5 an acre, and the last of the canal land was not sold until after the canal was completed to Lafayette. From 1835 to 1837 sale of canal lands amounted to $1,620,637, and in a later year the sales amounted to $2,000,000. In addition the state floated several bond issues, and it was those bonds that practically bankrupted the state. The Morris Canal & Banking Company of New York owed the state $3,113,200 on bonds it had obtained on credit to resell. The Morris company failed. The bonds had been sold, but the money had not been delivered to the state, and the state was left holding the bag. That failure caused other failures, and there was a total loss to the state of $3,183,467 for bonds issued to banks on credit, which had been sold to private individuals by banks, and for which the state was legally liable. By 1841 the state owed $13,148,453. Not all of this was spent to build the Erie canal. Other canals in the state, turnpikes and other public enterprises, plus a vast sum stolen by grafters, is the story of where this vast sum went. The claims on these bonds, which went into partial default, existed for many years, and this controversy is one of the reasons why we now have in our state constitution a clause prohibiting the state from going into debt by issue bonds.

If it hadn't been for the Irish the canal might never have been built, for no one but the Irish would have moved all that dirt with pick, shovel and wheelbarrow, and put u with the pestilent conditions that prevailed while the canal was being built. If all the dirt the Irish have moved in that manner in America were on one pile, it would make a lofty mountain. They fought the dirt and mud, the heat and the cold, the rattlesnakes and ague, and when they got tired of that they fought among themselves.

And that recalls to mind the time near Lagro when the Irish battle "that was not fought" occurred. There were two factions of the Irish in different construction crews. One was located just east of Lagro, and were known as Corkonians. Below Wabash was another faction of 250 known as the "Fardowners." It is said they had differences while working on canals in the east, and when they came to Wabash county they brought their trouble and ill feeling with them. Both factions were Catholic. There were private battles or battles of little groups, that usually ended in broken heads. These fusses went on for some time, and the Corkonians had threatened to wipe out entirely the group west of Wabash. The Fardowners reasoned they had better be killed fighting than be waylaid in their cabins or on the canal trails, so they massed an army and started for Lagro. An attempt was made to stop them at Wabash, but they refused to be pacified. Old Chief Godfroy made an effort to halt them, offering to act as a peacemaker and later to forcibly stop them with his warriors, but this time it was the Irish instead of the Indians who were on the warpath, and they were not wanting any mediation from the Indians.

Word of the impending trouble had been sent to Fort Wayne, and a hastily organized group of militia, 63 men, was dispatched to Lagro. At Huntington a second volunteer company under Captain Murray, joined the Fort Wayne detachment. They found the Irish in hostile camps and the trouble pot almost boiling over. Additional help soon arrived from Logansport, the ringleaders were arrested and the Irish war ended before the first battle was fought. The leaders were taken to Indianapolis, and later because of a technicality in the legal proceedings, escaped punishment.

 The first boat to make the passage from Toledo to Lafayette was the "Albert S. White", commanded by Captain Cyrus Belden of Toledo. Other freight and passenger boats were soon put into service. They carried from 35 to 40 passengers and from 2 to 6 horses were used to tow the boats. The horses were kept at relief stations, or sometimes carried along on the boats.

Freight rates were: Flour, pork, lard, bacon, not exceeding 100 miles, 7.5 mills per mile for 1,000 pounds. Each additional mile up to 200 miles 5 mills per mile and above 200 miles, 3 mills per mile. Corn, rye, oats, barley, etc., 3 mills per mile per 1,000 pounds and for each mile above 100 miles, 2 mills per mile.

Lagro and Wabash quickly became trade centers and bitter rivals for commercial supremacy, the tale of which belongs to another story. Lagro was the principal outlet for products for the north part of the county, and that caused the plank road to be built from Lagro to North Manchester. The fact this road did not go to Liberty Mills caused John Comstock to  build the plank road from Liberty Mills to Huntington. Comstock at one time built and owned a grain warehouse at Lagro and this building stood until 1883 when it was blown down by a windstorm.

The scandal in which the state became involved, much of it because of misuse of funds intended to pay for the canal, so disgusted the people of the state that the canal started to go down in repair almost before it was ready for use. The revenues from freight and passenger rates were never sufficient to pay for maintenance of the waterway. Washouts occurred in the spring, locks had to be maintained, and it was not many years until there was no money to pay for those repairs.

Another competitor had entered the picture that as much as anything caused the downfall of the canal--the railroad. The Wabash railroad was commenced in Ohio in 1854 and by 1856 was built west as far as Lafayette. In 1857 it was extended to the Illinois border and eventually to St. Louis. The railroad was faster and the service was better than the canal and by 1873 the canal was abandoned, except for small local use. Andrews in Huntington county was at one time a divisional point for the Wabash railroad  and employed 150 men.

Archibald Stitt, grandfather of Claude Stitt of Wabash, was one of the contractors on the old canal, and for many years was superintendent of the division between Fort Wayne and Logansport. Mr. Stitt was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1800. His parents were Scotch Irish, and had been driven out of Scotland during the religious persecution of that period. In 1809 the family emigrated to Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and there Archibald learned the trade of a shoemaker and was also employed in an iron foundry. He married Catharine Simpson, a cousin of General Ulysses Simpson Grant, commander-in-chief of the Northern forces during the Civil war and later President of the United States. They were married prior to 1832, for that year Mr. Stitt came west, leaving Mrs. Stitt and their oldest son, Alexander, in the east.

It is not known definitely how he came to be connected with the canal construction, but it is thought it was through acquaintance with Jesse Williams, chief engineer. At any rate he had contracts for stretches of the canal in Wabash, Miami, Cass and other counties as far west as Pittsburg, a village near Delphi. The canal was being built in sections, and Clark Weesner in his history of Wabash county, says Mr. Stitt first worked in Tippecanoe county and worked eastward to Wabash county. Some of the men in Mr. Stitt's crew may have participated in the threatened "Irish War", but if so, Mr. Stitt was not with them. The Stitt family came to Indiana in 1834, and the other children were born at various places along the canal, where the family happened to be living. These children were Jane, who later married Thomas W. King, James E., father of Claude, William S., later a captain in the Civil war, and Archibald N.

It was not until the canal was completed that the Stitt family really had a settled home. Mr. Stitt bought a tract of land south of Rich Valley between the canal and the Wabash river, and lived there until 1850. He was superintendent of the canal division from 1840 to 1850. In 1850 Mr. Stitt was elected treasurer of Wabash county and served two terms. He was formerly a Democrat in politics, but when the Republican party came into existence in 1856, he joined that party. William S. Stitt was county auditor from 1874 to 1883.

In 1856 Archibald Stitt bought the Old Indiana hotel, the first brick hotel in Wabash, and operated that until his death in 1867. The old hotel stood on Canal street near the site of the Hutchins laundry, and was a popular hostelry for many years. Mr. Stitt also served as the first street commissioner of Wabash.

Source: News-Journal, March 18, 1940


Slavery at one time existed in Indiana. Despite the fact the ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery in the northwest territory, emigrants from Virginia and Kentucky brought slaves with them into Southern Indiana. It is said that at one time at least 500 negroes were in bondage in Southern Indiana. In fact there was a strong proslavery faction in the state, and at least one attempt was made to have Congress amend the Ordinance and permit Indiana to be a slave state.

Indiana territory was created in 1800 and William Henry Harrison was the first territorial governor, with the capital at Vincennes. At that time the territory comprised what is now Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. There were only two counties. Knox county in the southern part and Wayne county in the northern part. The lines were rather vague, but from early maps it would appear Wabash county was in Knox county and Fort Wayne was in Wayne county. Later the term Wayne county was applied to the territory where Detroit is located. Settlers were few. There were settlements at Vincennes, Fort Wayne, Fort Dearborn, now Chicago, Kaskaskia in Illinois, and a few others, but the Indians held most of the land in Indiana territory. The meager authority the governor could exercise over this vast territory, and the difficulty of protecting the settlers against hostile Indians led to the formation of Michigan territory in 1805 with General William Hull as territorial governor. Illinois became a territory in 1809, with Kaskaskia the territorial capital. Wisconsin became a territory in 1836, and part of Michigan was attached to Wisconsin territory.

December 14, 1815, the territorial representatives of Indiana adopted a memorial to Congress, asking that Indiana be admitted to statehood. The population was given as 63,897, more than the population required for statehood. The enabling act was passed by Congress, and President Monroe approved April 19, 1816.

The election to select a legislative body was held May 13, 1816. There were thirteen counties in which the election was held and 39 members were elected. This assembly in reality became a constitutional convention presided over by Jonathan Jennings. The state government was organized November 7, 1816, and on November 8, the general assembly in joint session elected James Noble and Walter Taylor as United States senators. Jonathan Jennings had been elected governor at an election the preceding August, and William Hendricks became the first congressman.

The state contained 23,068,800 acres, title to which remained with the United States, except for specific grants as follows:

Section sixteen of each congressional township was to be sold and the money used for school purposes. Title to all salt lands 23,040 acres went to the state, and 2,612,321 acres of swamp lands. Five per cent of land sales was to go to Indiana, three per cent to be used for state roads, and two per cent for federal roads. There was a grant of 46,080 acres for a state university, 170,582 acres for the Michigan road, four sections were to be set aside for a state capital and 1,457,366 acres for the Wabash and Erie canal. Indiana University at Bloomington qualified as the state university and received the land grant. Later Purdue University was founded, and also received a land grant of 212,238 acres. By that time practically all the public land in Indiana had been sold, and the Purdue land grant was in one of the Western states.

Corydon was the first state capital, but it soon became apparent that a more centrally located capital was needed and early in 1820 commissioners were appointed to select and choose a site for a state capital. The site chosen was in Marion county, and the new capital became known as Indianapolis. The legislature ratified the work of the commissioners in 1821. The surveyors were Eliss P. Fordham and Alexander Ralston. The latter had helped lay out Washington, D.C., and exerted his influence in laying out Indianapolis. Washington street was made 125 feet wide, the squares were regularly laid out with boundary lines of 420 feet, with streets 90 feet in width. From the adjacent corners of the four adjacent squares, avenues radiated to the northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest, like the spokes of a wheel with the hub now known as the Circle as it was known as Governor's circle, but now it is known as the Circle, with the Soldiers and Sailors monument in the exact center.

Although title to all the public lands, except those specifically allotted, was retained by the United States, yet in reality the Indians still held title to two-thirds of Indiana when the territory became a state. Right to settle in the Indian territory was only acquired by later treaties, and thus it was not until ten years after Indiana became a state, that northern Indiana, including Wabash, Huntington, Fulton, and other counties, was opened to settlement.

Sale of lands was rapid. In 1820, 162,490 acres were sold. In 1826 200,190 acres were sold for $250,238. From that time on the sales increased as follows: 1827, 209,691 acres, $263,063; 1928, 250,812 acres, $315,517; 1829, 346,527 acres, $435,571; 1830, 476,350 acres, $598,115; 1831, 554,436 acres, $694,863; 1832, 546,844 acres, $684,209; 1833, 554,681 acres, $693,522.

The year 1833 was the peak for land sales and from then on sales dwindled rapidly, for most of the choice land was taken. Much of this land was purchased by speculators in the east and resold at considerable profit to actual settlers. Most of Wabash county land north of the river was purchased between 1833 and 1843.

A number of land offices were created to handle sale of public lands. Land in Wabash county in Ranges 7 and 8, which comprises Chester and Lagro townships north of the Wabash river, was sold at the Fort Wayne land offices. The land to the west, including Pleasant, Paw Paw and Noble township north of the river, Fulton county and counties to the west and north were handled from the LaPorte land office. The LaPorte office was later moved to Winamac. South of the Wabash river, the land was not opened until later treaties were made with the Indians as most of it was reserved for the Indians in the 1826 treaty.

The Michigan road, route of Road 31 between Rochester and South Bend, and of Road 25 between Rochester and Logansport, was the most important of the early north and south highways of the state. It compared to the National road built across Indiana from the east, and the most important land thoroughfare west of the Allegheny mountains. Oddly enough it was not the early settlers who wanted this road. It was the Pottawattomie Indians. In their treaty of 1826 at the treaty ground near the mouth of the Mississinewa, at Peru, they ceded land for a road from "Lake Michigan to the Ohio." This road was to be 100 feet wide, and the Pottowatomies agreed to give a contiguous land for each mile of road built. Before the road was completed, the Indians had ceded all their holdings in Indiana, and the Federal government authorized the sale of land for this purpose. Something like 30 sections in Wabash county, including land in Pleasant, Paw Paw and Noble townships were sold for the road, while at least 88 sections in the county were sold for Canal costs.

The Michigan road is 265 miles long, and the first contract was let in 1830 at a cost of $150 a mile. It was cleared 100 feet wide, and a width of 30 feet was graded and graveled. The road came under county control, so far as maintenance was concerned, in 1837.

There was much dispute about the route north from Logansport. Some of the road commissioners wanted to build straight north from Logansport to Michigan City. But the Kankakee swamp was almost impossible to circumvent, and finally the road was routed through Rochester, north and westward to Michigan City. South of Indianapolis it passes through Greensburg to Madison on the Ohio.

Source: News-Journal, March 28, 1940


Although Indiana became a state in 1816, Wabash county was not organized until 1835. The principal reason for the delay was the fact the Indians still had title to much of the land. By the treaty of St. Mary's, Ohio, in 1818, practically all the land south of the Wabash river was ceded to the United States, except a large reservation which extended from the mouth of the Salamonie River near Lagro to the mouth of Eel River at Logansport, thence south as many miles as the distance between the Salamonie and Eel, thence east roughly parallel with the Wabash river line, and thence north to the mouth of the Salamonie. That included all of Wabash county south of the Wabash river, and in addition there were smaller reservations in Huntington, Wabash and Miami counties.

It was not until after the treaty at Paradise Springs at Wabash in October, 1826, and with the Pottawattomies at the mouth of the Mississinewa a few days later, that the land north of the Wabash was ceded to the white people, and the settlers commenced drifting into the county. At that time this territory was vaguely a part of Grant county.

The state legislature in 1831-32, established Huntington, Wabash and Miami counties. In the enabling act, the description for Wabash county was bounded as follows: Beginning at the southeast corner of Section 5 in township 26, range 8 east, on the northern boundary line of Grant county, thence west 16 miles, thence north 24 miles, thence east 16 miles to section 5, township 29, range 8 east, thence south to the place of beginning. It soon became apparent this description was wrong. The starting point was six miles too far north. Consequently in December o 1832, when the Legislature met again the southern boundary was established six miles farther south, in township 25 instead of 26, which was the actual northern boundary line of Grant county.

At that time the northern boundary line was what is now Road 114, and the alley north of Second street in North Manchester, It should be remembered all this territory was unsettled, and only surveyors' descriptions were being followed in dividing the state into counties. Kosciusko county was created, and then it was discovered that no provision was made for township 30 to be in either county. The Kosciusko county line was originally six miles north of North Manchester. When this error was discovered, it would have meant disturbing all the other county boundaries, so three miles of Township 30 was allotted to Wabash county and three miles to Kosciusko county. This strip extends the entire width of Wabash county or 48 sections. Later Whitley county got a slice of six sections off the east end of this strip. Just how this came about is lost in the maze of legislative records at Indianapolis, but the fact remains that the Whitley county boundary is only five miles east of the Big Four Station, while Huntington county boundary is seven miles east of the Big Four.

The county at first was divided into two townships. All east of the dividing line between Range 6 and [missing....]

well as Lagro and part of Noble. West of this line was Noble township, which now includes Pleasant, Paw Paw, Waltz and most of Noble.

The legislature arranged that for judicial purposes Wabash and Huntington county should be joined, and it was several years later that Wabash had its own separate court. Giles Smith of Grant county, Daniel North of Randolph county, Jesse Carter of Clinton county, Bartholomew Applegate of Johnson county and Thomas Watson of Tippecanoe county were appointed commissioners to lcoate a permanent seat of justice in Wabash county.

Then started the historic race between Wabash and Lagro to have the honor of being the county seat. The old natives of Lagro claim there was an election and that Wabash won the election by one vote. The old times hint darkly that the contest was not as honest as it might have been and inferred Wabash had run in a "ringer" on them. There is no record of such election every being held. What probably is nearer the truth is the fact that Hugh Hanna, founder of Wabash, was a member of the state legislature, while General John Tipton, founder of Lagro, was a member of the national legislature. Washington, D.C. was a long way from Wabash county, and General Tipton naturally did not learn of happenings in this county until many months afterward. Hanna, on the other hand, was on the ground so to speak. He was a member of the legislature that appointed the commissioners, and naturally had some influence with them.

Hanna and David Burr, his business associate, as a bonus offered to donate land for a "public square"; erect thereon a brick court house to the value of $3,000. In addition other subscriptions amounting to $545 were received as an inducement for the county seat to be located at Wabash. More of this court house and its successors will be told in a later story.

Daniel Jackson and Daniel Ballenger were elected associate judges in the first county election, held May 18, 1836. Stearns Fisher, Levi Bean, and Alpheus Blackman were elected county commissioners, and William Johnson, sheriff. William Steel was appointed as first county clerk by the Governor. The commissioners appointed Isaac Thomas as county agent, his duties being to receive the county share of money from sale of public lands, and Hugh Hanna was appointed county treasurer.

The county election was not the first ever held in the county. The first one was before the county was organized and was held at Lagro Novembe3r 5, 1832. All that time Huntington and Wabash counties were united in what was called Salamonie precinct of Grant county. There were 26 votes cast in the presidential election of that year. Andrew Jackson, Democrat, received fourteen votes, and Henry Clay, Whig candidate, received twelve. Possibly that accounts for the fact that Lagro township through all the years, has been as nearly Democratic as any township in the county. The election was held in the brick house that had been built for Chief LaGros, or LaGris. He probably died before the house was completed. [more missing text...]

Helvie, brothers, Richard, Champion and Joel, voted in this election. At that time there were no settlers except along the Wabash river at Rich Valley, Wabash, Lagro and Flint Springs or Huntington, and all came to Lagro to vote. Richard Helvy came to Chester township as the first settler the next year, and his brothers by that time had moved into Huntington county, where one of them became the first sheriff.

As mentioned above Lagro and Noble were the first two townships formed of the county. In May, 1836, Chester township was created by taking eight miles square from Lagro township, and Liberty was created by taking eight miles square from the southern part of Lagro township, leaving Lagro an area eight miles east and west by eleven miles north and south. Later when Whitley county got six square miles from Wabash county, this coming out of Chester township, an additional tier of eight sections was taken from Lagro township and added to Chester township. The line of Lagro and Noble townships was changed about this time, and thirteen sections of Lagro were added to Noble. Lagro now has 86 sections.

Pleasant township was created in May, 1836, by taking from the north part of Noble township an area nine miles north and south and eight miles east and west. That boundary continued until 1873 when Paw Paw township was created.

Paw Paw township was formed by taking sixteen sections from the southern part of Pleasant and 32 sections from Noble. Later eight sections were restored to Noble, leaving Paw Paw an area eight miles east and west and five miles north and south. Paw Paw is the smallest township in the county.

Waltz township was not created until May, 1841, the delay being partly because that had been part of the Indian reservation. The township was named in memory of Lieutenant Frederick Waltz, who was killed in the battle with the Indians at the Mississinewa December 18, 1812. The township was taken from the southern part of Noble and is eight miles east and west and six miles north and south.

Although Paw Paw township was not created until 1873, the agitation for a new township, and for division of others, started a number of years earlier. it was in 1856 that Elihu Garrison and 58 others presented a petition to the commissioners asking for a new township. Ideas and petitions for townships became epidemic. A remonstrance to the Garrison petition, containing signatures of 180 voters, was presented to the commissioners. William thorn presented a petition with 132 signers asking that there be no change in townships. William T. Ross and others asked for a new township in Township 27, range 7 east, which would have further partitioned Lagro township. David Reynolds and others asked for a new township in the southern part of Lagro. Peter Bender and others asked for creation of a new township by dividing Chester.

The county commissioners wisely took no action on any of the petitions. Public opinion is slow to form, and they concluded it would be best to let the new township pot simmer for a few years. Then in 1872 Cornelius Holderman presented three petitions to the county commissioners, asking that a new township be created from Noble and Pleasant. Those petitions were acted on in 1873 and Paw Paw township was formed.

The above controversy may seem silly but people of today are not much different. In those days, some of the townships were large for the mode of travel. Today it is well recognized we might get along with fewer townships. Kosciusko county with seventeen townships, several of which comprise only 36 square miles, is handicapped by having so many townships. School costs are prohibitive in some of them and high school children are transferred to larger townships. Monroe township is an example, where the high school children attend Sidney or Pierceton schools. But let any one suggest a change of townships in Wabash county, or any other county for that matter, and he would instantly arouse a storm of protest. Would Paw Paw township people be willing to have their township abolished? Would Pleasant people be willing to unite with Chester? Would Liberty and Waltz be willing to join in one township? We could get along very well with five townships in the county, but woe unto the person who would suggest it.

Source: News-Journal, April 4, 1940


It was not long after the first court was organized in Wabash county in March, 1835, until there were cases to be tried. And as might be expected it was the Irish who had the first case. There evidently had been a fight between Andrew Murphy and Jeremiah Sullivan, and apparently Murphy got the worst of it. At any rate the first grand jury was summoned August 24, 1835, to investigate the fracas. Gustavus A. Everts was presiding judge of the Eight Judicial Circuit, of which the Wabash court was a part, and Daniel Ballenger was the first associate judge presiding over the Wabash court.

The first grand jury included Isaac Thomas, Thomas Carry, Solomon Simons, Ezekiel Cox, Ira Burr, Sylvester McClure, Mahlon Pearson, Jacob Barrett, Joseph S. McClure, Thomas Hays, Jacob Cappock, Anthony Keller, Lemuel Jones, Isaac Findley, Isaac Fowler and Benedict Lowry. They investigated the fracas and returned an indictment charging Sullivan with assault and battery with intent to murder.

Sullivan said, "Faith and bejabbers oime not guilty", or words to that effect, and called for a jury of his peers. This jury, corresponding to our petit jury of today, included Daniel Grant, William Deal, John Solomon, John Simmons, Elihu Garrison, Lucas Morgan, William Salmon, Arthur Burr, John Booker, Abraham Kensinger and Thomas N. Burton.

There were no delays or changes of venue. The evidence was heard, the lawyers "argufied", and the case went to the jury. it would be interesting to know what those jurors said and how long the deliberated, but records of course reveal nothing about it. At any rate there was no hung jury. They found the defendant guilty, and set the punishment at seven years in prison. Sullivan asked Judge Ballenger to set aside this sentence, but the Judge probably considered that jury of level headed pioneers had given a just verdict and refused. Thus the first criminal case in the county ended in a conviction, and a prison sentence that was imposed. it would be interesting to know whether Sullivan served the entire seven years in prison. He probably did, for there were no boards of pardon in those days, and no sob sisters to help get him out.

The battle at Lagro among the Irish laborers on the canal that was stopped before it actually started, did not end the trouble among them. There must have been another riot late in 1835 or early in 1836, for at the February term, 1836, the grand jury was called into session and indictments were returned charging several with rioting with "sticks and guns." Simon Sweeney, Daniel Murphy, Hugh Ward, Simon Boyle, Michael Brown, Felix McCaskey and others not named, were charged with the offense. There must have been a leak from the grand jury room, for when the sheriff went to make the arrests, he could only find two of the culprits--Sweeney and Brown. They called for a jury trial. They jury found both guilty, but to a varying degree. Sweeney was fine $75 and costs. Brown was sentenced to serve six hours in the county jail and ordered to pay the costs of prosecution.

The first couple that disagreed so much they agreed to disagree permanently was Amelia Wiley and Alfred Wiley. Mrs. Wiley brought the action for divorce during the August term, 1837. She said she and her husband were married in 1831, and that during their married life he had failed to support her, was not kind and affectionate as he promised he would be when they were married, and then added insult to injury by going to Illinois where he was living with another woman. She got the divorce.

The Irish seemed bent on having all the honors of being first. Not content with having the honor of the first marriage and the first court case, they also carried off the first naturalization honor. John Barrott was the first man to be naturalized in the county. In his petition he said he was born in Kingsdown, Connaught Province, Parish of Killbraid, Ireland, and that he came to New York in November, 1830. He solemnly vowed to forsake all allegiance to King William IV of England, and probably chuckled as he took this vow, for when was there an Irishman who liked the English? He became a citizen September 12, 1837, and it would be interesting to know whether or not he became a permanent resident of the county and has descendants living in county today. In reality he did not renounce allegiance to a king of England. King William IV had died in June, 1837, and Queen Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III of Revolutionary war days, had ascended to the throne. It is doubtful if Barrott knew the king was dead, for there were no radio or telegraph cables in those days, news was a long time getting across the Atlantic. In reality he was renouncing allegiance to Queen Victoria.

Major William Steele, the first county clerk, came in for his share of court trouble. From the records it would seem Steel was a bit careless where he kept his office, and also careless in reporting and keeping a record of fees he collected. March 13, 1837, he was formally charged of using armed force and of failing, refusing and neglecting to keep, "for the space of a whole day" a fair table of his fees as clerk of the court. Sheriff Thomas Johnson presented the plea for the state. Steele pleaded not guilty and called for a jury. Among the jurors was John Ogan, Michael Knoop and Elihu Garrison from the north part of the county. The jury found Steele guilty, and he was ordered to pay $40, which was to be used to recompense those "who informed in this court". Steele filed notice of appeal, it was overruled, and the judgment stuck. To add insult to injury, Steele as county clerk, had to make a written record of the proceedings, and in the old court record, in his own handwriting, is the history of the case against him.

As stated in a previous article, the old timers like to "law." One of the biggest damage suits filed for many years was brought against Peter Ogan in January, 1838. It was for defamation of character. That sounds something like breach of promise, but it was not that kind of a suit. Dr. Thomas Hamilton, second postmaster at Lagro, through his attorneys, Tipton & Cooper, asked $10,000 of Ogan. Had this been collected, it would have taken the entire town of North Manchester, that Ogan owned, or rather Manchester as it was then known, to have paid the judgment. At that time Ogan was just getting started selling lots at from $10 to $15 a lot and there were few takers. Land was too plentiful then, and town lots went abegging.

Lagro was the "mother" post office for the northern part of the county. Mail was carried to Liberty Mills from Lagro by John Simonton, and was brought to North Manchester by other carriers. Judging from Hamilton's complaint, Ogan had talked too much for his own good, for Hamilton claimed Ogan had stated in the presence of witnesses that Hamilton was guilty of robbing the United States mails, that he had opened letters and extracted money from them, and that he had withheld letters from delivery. The complaint states Ogan had made those statements in the presence of John Simonton and Joseph H. Ray, "to the deep chagrin, grief, and loss of good standing of the complaint in the community."

The case dragged through the February and march terms of court, and an amended compaint was filed in March. This complaint was the basis for the actual trial, which occurred in September.

Jurors were Dexter Brooks, Ezekiel Cox, David I. Jackson, John Woods, Abner Dillon, Elihu Garrison, Thomas Kiser, Lucas Morgan, Daniel Ballenger, John J. Berroth, james A. Payne and John Robinson. Among the witnesses for Ogan were John Simonton, while Hamilton subpoened a number of people from Lagro. The lawyers argued and orated, the jury listened, and then after due deliberation decided Ogan was guilty. The jury assessed damage of $35.85 and costs in the case.

It was a case of defeat in victory for Dr. Hamilton. Damages of only that amount when he asked for $10,000, was almost an insult, that could be interpreted two ways: one that his reputation was not worth much, the other that his reputation had not been greatly damaged by the remarks of Ogan.  Augustus Peabody of Lagro came forward in behalf of Ogan and became surety for payment of the amount of damage and costs in the case.

Dr. Hamilton served Lagro as a physician until 1856. A son, Col. John Hamilton, commanded one of General Sherman's artillery batteries in the Civil War and later became a high ranking officer in the regular army.

Mr. Peabody mentioned above was the grandfather of Frances and Ethel Peabody of North Manchester. He was one of the pioneers of Lagro, coming there in the early thirties. He was born in Orleans county, New York in 1802, but his parents moved to Switzerland county, Indiana, in 1817. Mr. Peabody operated a saw mill at one time and also served Lagro township as trustee.

It is not known just what the arrangements were for mail service in North Manchester prior to 1838, but it it would seem that "the dissatisfaction of Peter Ogan over the mail service from Lagro led to a separate post office being established in North Manchester, for it was October 6, 1838, that William Willis was appointed as the first postmaster for North Manchester. However it was not until the railroads came to North Manchester that what might be termed an independent mail service was established. Until then North Manchester had to depend on mail service from Wabash and Lagro, a sort of star route service that we are going back to today. It would seem our mail service runs in cycles, for North Manchester now is the parent post office, for Liberty Mills, there being a star route by which is taken from North Manchester to Liberty Mills. Similarly, because of lack of mail trains, there is a star route through North Manchester from Warsaw to Marion, and also one from North Manchester to Peru, serving Laketon, Roann and other towns. This route is Roann's sole means of receiving and dispatching mail. So in the cycle of so-called progress we are going back to personal carrier service and local railroads are no longer giving mail service to small towns.

The first North Manchester post offices were located in the stores of merchants, but later the business became such that separate buildings were used. In the last forty years the post office has been in four locations--the room occupied by the Lautzenhiser meat market, the room occupied by Jerry's restaurant on Walnut street, the Logan Ulrey building now occupied by the Pioneer pants factory, and the new post office building at the corner of Walnut and Second streets. The postmasters and the time of appointment are as follows:

William Willis, Oct. 6, 1838.
Asa Beauchamp, Nov. 14, 1839.
Mahlon C. Frame, Nov. 30, 1840.
Jesse Davis, Aug. 18, 1843.
Amos Barlow, Feb. 4, 1846.
John Aughinbaugh, Nov. 11, 1851.
Wyatt C. Kitchen, Feb. 10, 1853.
Daniel M. Marshall, June 11, 1853.
Joseph C. Marshall, Nov. 10, 1856.
Milborn S. Marshall, Apr. 12, 1858.
David Frame, may 4, 1864.
Joseph K. Lautzenhiser, May 22, 1865.
William T. Dailey, Mar. 19, 1868.
James Wallace, Apr. 16, 1880.
Shelby Sexton, May 21, 1884.
Daniel W. Krisher, Jun. 16, 1885.
Russel R. Leonard, Jun. 18, 1889.
Samuel McCutcheon, Sep. 28, 1893.
Lewis Signs, Jun. 22, 1897.
George R. Craft, Mar. 1, 1901.
Jonas Grossnickle, Jul. 30, 1904.
E.L. Lautzenhiser, Jun. 4, 1909.
Charles Wright, Jul. 10, 1913.
Calvin Ulrey, Jul. 17, 1922.
C.H. Olinger, Mar. 24, 1931.
John Isenbarger, Aug. 4, 1935.

Source: News-Journal, April 11, 1940


Possibly there is no chapter in Indiana history that is more to the discredit of the white people than the one dealing with the Indians. In the course of a few years, step by step, the Indians were forced to cede their lands in Indiana, until by 1848 there were only a few scattered reservations of small size left in the state. It is a story of greed, broken promises on the part of the whites, and sometimes of cruel deception. It seems impossible that the once proud and powerful Miami confederacy, which included the Potawatomies, could in the short span of fifty years be reduced to miserable bands of stragglers, banished from their tribal homes. Nor was it accomplished by superior force alone. The Indians were quick to adopt the vices of the whites, but few of the good qualities. Unscrupulous traders plied them with cheap liquor despite the efforts of officials to stop the traffic. The drink inflamed Indians were dangerous, which added to the demand that they must leave Indiana. When drunk they were easily persuaded to sign away their rights. On some occasions they were betrayed by their chiefs, who were willing to sign away tribal rights that they might individually receive grants of land and money. These grants did them little good, for in a few years they were compelled to relinquish ownership and were just as homeless as the others of the tribe.

The United States government, for the most part, desired to deal justly with the Indians, but the politicians were influenced by the demands of the settlers, and unscrupulous. Indian agents took advantage of the ignorant Indians at every turn of the game. From the treaty at Greenville, Ohio, after the Wayne campaign, until the last treaty with Indiana Indians in the forties, there was steady and relentless encroachment on the part of the whites. True Indians were not utilizing the resources of Indiana as did the whites who followed. On the other hand, had our forefathers not wasted our natural resources, we might not need our Soi8l Crop Conservation bonuses, Civilian Conservation Corps, and fish and game conservation clubs of today.

The treaty at Greenville, by which the Indians ceded practically all of Ohio, and part of Southern Indiana, was followed by the treaty of 1818 at St. Mary's, Ohio, whereby the land south of the Wabash was ceded to the whites with the exception of the big Miami reserve. This reserve was in the form of rectangle from the mouth of the Salamonie to the mouth of Eel River, then south an equal distance, east the same distance and then north to the Salamonie. This amounted to about 900,000 acres. The Potawatomies claimed land north of Eel River, and between the Wabash and Eel River was a sort of intertribal hunting ground.

This choice land was coveted by the settlers and in 1826 a meeting of Miami and Potawatomie chiefs was called to be held at Paradise Springs on the Wabash. General Lewis Cass, Governor James R. Ray and General John Tipton represented the United States government. The treaty with the Miamis was signed October 23, 1826, and they ceded all claims to land north of the Wabash. The Potawatomies signed a few days later, and they ceded claim to much of their land between the Tippecanoe and Eel River. By later treaties more land was ceded, until after the Black Hawk war scare there came the demand that all Indians in Indiana "must go". The only exception of note was the smaller reservation in Wabash, Grant and part of Miami counties that were reserved for the Meshingomesia band near Somerset and to individual chiefs and part of their followers.

The Miamis who signed the treaty at Wabash were: Wauweaussee, Flat Belly (Papakeecha), LaGros, White Raccon, Black Loon, Seek, Meesequa, Notawensa's Son, LaFrombroise, Negorakaupwa, Osage, metosanea, Little Beaver,  Black Raccon, Chinquinsa, James Abbott, Longwa, Little Wolf, Pungeshenon, Wonsepeoa, Francis Godfroy, Joseph Richardville, Frances Lafontaine, Waunosa, White Skin's Son, or the Poplar Chapine, Pechewau or John B. Richardville, Chingomeshan, Little Sun, W. Shinganlean, Louis Godfroy, Ousanedeau, mechaneqau, uneceasa, Shequakeau, Charley's Son.

The Potawatomies who signed were: Topenibe, Metea, Penashees, Pashpo, Waubonsa, Paskauwa, Makasess, Pierish, Mauxa, Noshaweka, Saukena, Shokto, Kauk, Shaquinon, Mesheketeno, Jequamlogo, Louison, Paskauwesa, Gebaus, Aubenaube, Pecheco, Jekose, Wasaushuck, kaukaamake, None, Penamo, makose, Manauquet, Kepeaugun, Shapeness, Ackushewa, Waupsee, Squabuck, kewaune, Washeone, Nauksee, Toisoe, Ashkom, Waupaukeeno, Nequoquet, Shaauqueba, Sheskomak, Kasha, Nasawauka, Shaupatee, Wimeko, Menomonie, Motiei, Mukkose, Shepsgauwano (Shipsewana), Maunis, Ahnowawausa, Shakauwasee and Mukose.

Many of the above names are familiar because towns have been named after them. The only white man who signed the treaty along with the Indians was James Abbott, who signed with the Miamis. Little is known of this James Abbott. He should not be confused with the James Abbott who was the first settler at Liberty Mills. So far as known there was no relationship. The only mention made of James Abbott in history is that he was employed by the British at Detroit as an Indian agent in the earlier Indian wars and during the war of 1812. It is supposed he had married a Miami Indian woman, and thus was entitled to sign the treaty. The last written record of him is when he signed the treaty.

The Miamis were to receive $31,040.53 in money, a wagon and yoke of oxen was to be given each of the chiefs, and a brick house was to be erected for Chiefs Richardville, Francois, Louisan, Godfroy, Lafontaine, White Racoon, Lagros, or Lagris as he was frequently termed, James B. Richardville, Flat Belly (Papakechee) and Wauweassee. The Indians were to receive 200 cattle, 200 hogs, and annually to be given 1000 pounds of steel, 200 pounds of iron, 1000 pounds of tobacco, and were to enjoy the right of hunting on any land owned by the United States.

Lagros never lived to enjoy the brick house built for him at the town of Lagro. it was used for a time by General Tipton, and later turned into a tavern. Richard Helvey occupied the house a short time before he moved to Eel River to establish a trading post at the village of Pierish. The house built for Godfroy, east of the circus ground near Peru, is still standing, and that place became an influential trading post for a number of years.

Otho Winger, in his history of the Potawatomies, says the house for Wauweassee was never built. According to Mr. Winger Wauweasee lived near Wawbee lake, and at that time that lake was named after the chief. Flat Belly, or Papakechee, was a brother of Wauweassee, and lived ten miles to the east, near the lake bearing his name. The brothers were the farthest west of the Miamis of the upper Eel river group, and the Potawatomies were none too friendly. Nor was Wauweausee given any land although Papakechee was given 36 sections, an entire township. Mr. Winger investigating this odd situation, discovered a double brick house had been built for Papakechee, and comes to the conclusion Wauweausee had gone to live with his brother, because he feared Potawatomies. Later when the mill was built at Syracuse, the lake became the largest body of water in Indiana and took the name of Wawassee, while the original lake named Wauweausee was changed to the name Wawbee. A large summer camp of the Church of the Brethren is located on this lake.

Seek's village on upper Eel river was given 14 sections of land, and the Beaver was given five sections below Seek's. Little Charley was given a section on which much of Wabash is located, and from him charley creek takes its name. He also received five sections on Eel River. White Racoon's village received 10 sections north of Mud creek at the site of the Old Village on Eel River. Ten sections were reserved at the forks of the Wabash, Huntington, and a tract from the mouth of the Mississinewa, up the Wabash five miles, then north to Eel River, in Miami county.

The Potawatomies were to receive $37,548.71 and the treaty reads that the "Potawatomies being anxious to pay certain claims against them shall repay from the above sum $9,573." It was in this treaty that the Potawatomies asked that a 100 foot roadway (the Michigan road) be built from Lake Michigan to the Ohio, and ceded much additional land for that purpose.

Rev. Isaac McCoy, who had the Carey Mission school on the St. Joseph of the Michigan river, attended the treaty conclave, and succeeded in obtaining a grant of 160 acres of land for each of his scholars, 58 in all. Grants were made to a number of the chiefs including one of 3½ sections to George Cicott on the Wabash and Eel Rivers. Lake Cicott was named after this chief. The Burnetts were granted land and from this family we have the name Burnettesville.

No mention is made of Pierish and his village, nor is it known definitely what became of them or when they left the site on Eel River, now the Manchester College athletic field. They were here when Helvey, Ogan and other early settlers came, and it is believed they joined the western migration in the early forties.

Source: News-Journal, April 18, 1940


Otho Winger, who has made an exhaustive study of the Indians of Indiana, and has written several books about them, has located most of the important Indian villages. Nearly all of them were along rivers rather than lakes, for rivers were means of easier and more continuous travel. On lower Eel river was the Miami village of Ke-na-paw-com-a-qua. The village was destroyed by Captain Wilkinson in 1791, but was rebuilt later. Farther up the Eel or Kenapocomoco near Denver were two Potawatomi villages and at Stockdale, west of Roann, Niconza, or Captain Squirrel, had his village. He later moved to a reservation near Bunker Hill. Then came the Pierish village at North Manchester, and on upper Eel River was the Miami village of Little Turtle. A little farther north was Seek's village. Metea had a large village on the St. Joseph northeast of fort Wayne. The village of Metea in Fulton county is named after this chief. there were several Miami villages along the Wabash, including the Lagros and Lafontaine villages, the latter near Huntington, and Majenica's village on the Salamonie. On the Mississinewa near the circus ground at Peru was the old important village of the Miamis. a little east was the Godfroy vilage and trading post. Farther southeast along the Mississinewa was the Deaf Man's village, so named because the husband of Frances Slocum, the chief, became deaf in his later years. East of Road 13 near Pearson's mill was probably a village destroyed by Colonel Campbell's forces in 1812, and at the mouth of Jocina creek, southwest of Lafontaine was the important village of Metovinyah, father of Meshingomesia. this village was destroyed by Campbell's men, and this deed led to that bloody battle of the Mississinewa the next morning.

The Potawatomi had full sway along the beautiful Tippecanoe. Near junction of the Tippecanoe and Wabash was the largest village village known as Prophetstown, which was destroyed by Col. W.H. Harrison after the battle of Tippecanoe in 1812. Winamac's village was near Burnettsville. Among the villages of importance were Aub-bee-naub-bee in Fulton county, Chip-pe-wa-nung on road 31 where it crosses the Tippecanoe north of Rochester, Menominee near Plymouth, Nauswaugee on east side of Lake Maxinkuckee. Chechawkose near the site of the town of Tippecanoe, Benack's village near Clunette, Chekose and Moto along the Tippecanoe west of Warsaw, Monoquet three miles north of Warsaw, Mesquabuck west of Tippecanoe, near the present village of Oswego, and others of less importance.

It was at the Chippewanung village three miles north of Rochester that the 1838 treaty with the Potawatomies was signed, and by this treaty the Potawatomies agreed to move to lands assigned to them in Western states. The angling road northwest of Wabash, known as the Chippewa road was built in an early day from Wabash to this village.

Some of the Indians had promised to move west at earlier treaties in 1832 and 1836. Among them was Menominee and his band near Plymouth. The horror of the removal of that band of Indians has been told and retold, and was typical of the removal of other bands whose stories are lost in the past. Menominee and his band had been converted to the Catholic faith and under the leadership of Father Badin and Benjamin Marie Petit, those Indians seemed to be progressing towards a civilized and religious state that was so much desired by Thomas Jefferson in his plans for the northwest. Then came the order for the Indians to move westward. In response to this demand, Menominee made an eloquent plea to be allowed to stay. He said:

"The president does not know the truth. He, like me, has been imposed upon. He does not know that you made my young chiefs drunk and got their consent and pretended to get mine. He does not know that I refused to sell my lands and still refuse. He would not by force drive me from my home, the graves of my tribe, and my children who have gone to the Great Spirit, nor allow you to tell me that your braves will take me tied like a dog, if he knew the truth. My brothers, the President is just, but he listens to the words of young chiefs who have lied. When he knows the truth, he will leave me to my own. I have not sold my lands. I will not sell them. I have not signed any treaty and will not sign any. I am not going to leave my lands, and I do not want to hear any more about it."

The eloquent plea was useless. A.C. Pepper, the Indian agent, appealed to Governor David Wallace for an armed force. General John Tipton was sent. The white troops arrived suddenly one day while most of the Indians were in the chapel in prayer. The entire group of Indians were made prisoners, and were not allowed return to their homes. Then the soldiers started rounding up scattered members of the band. By September 3, 1838, 859 Indians had been rounded up. Menominee resisted to the last. He defied the soldiers dagger in hand, but they lassoed him, bound him, and threw him into a wagon. some sixty wagons were used to transport women and children, and the aged and infirm, but most of the Indians walked.

General Tipton wrote a vivid account of the terrible trek westward. Drinkable water was scarce and food and forage scarcer. The band reached the banks of the Tippecanoe, three miles north of Rochester, the first day. The next day they reached Mud creek couth of Rochester, and the next day Logansport. On down the Wabash to Lafayette and thence westward. In fifteen days they had reached Jacksonville, Illinois, then crossed the Mississippi at Alton, the Missouri at Independence, and on to the Osage river in Eastern Kansas. It took sixty days to reach that destination, and the trail and camping places were strewn with bodies of Indians who died on the way. Some historians say less than half of the original band ever reached Kansas. Their suffering did not end when they arrived. November is not a good time to arrive in a new country. It is said their suffering that winter was terrible.

W.E. Billings in his "Tales of the Old Days", tells of Martin Swank, one of the early settlers in North Manchester, being a member of a band of soldiers who escorted Indians westward. Whether Swank helped take Menominee and his band is not known. But the terrible suffering from lack of food and water, as recounted to Mr. Billings by Mr. Swank, would indicate he was either on this expedition, or one similar.

John Jenkins, Sr., father of John Jenkins of North Manchester, also accompanied a band of Indians westward. It was the band of Pieshuwa at the old town of Tippecanoe. The spelling of this name may not be accurate, as Mr. Jenkins merely remembers his father telling of it. This exodus took place about 1847 or 1848, and this band of Indians was one of the last to leave. Mr. Jenkins went as far as the Missouri river with the Indians, and then got a chance to help survey the Iron Mountain railroad line. Later he returned to Illinois, where he did considerable surveying, and married. He did not return to Indiana until several years later.

A few days before the Indians left Tippecanoe, an execution took place that is not recounted in any early Indian history, but the story was often told Mr. Jenkins by his father. A young buck Indian had gone to the trading post at Bourbon, and there absorbed too much of the white man's fire water. An Indian girl had also gone to the post on her pony, and on the way home she was overtaken by the drunken young brave. He pulled her from her horse and attempted to assault her. She got away from him and fled to the village. There she told her story to Chief Pieshuwa. The old chief listened to her, and then took up his station in front of his cabin or wigwam, rifle in hand. A few minutes later the brave appeared over a ridge, reeling on his pony. The chief gave him one glance, considered his condition verified the girl's story, and raising his rifle, he shot and killed the young brave.

The execution raised a stir in the community. An attempt was made to arrest the chief and try him in the white man's court. The old chief's defense to those sent to arrest him is a classic. He said, "I am the chief of my village. As long as I am its head, and live in this village, I am not subject to the laws of the United States. According to our law, this young man committed the most serious crime known to Indians. The penalty for it is death. As chief of this tribe and according to long established custom, it was by duty to execute the death sentence. When I leave here to go westward, then I become subject to the law of the white people. Until then our tribal law governs my actions."

The old chief on the morning of his departure, went to the banks of his beloved Tippecanoe, and selecting a straight oak tree, eight or ten inches in diameter, he said "this shall be my monument." With his hatchet, he marked the bark of the tree in a spiral manner, round and round. When he had chopped to the limit of his reach, he stood on the shoulders of his braves, and continued the spiral far up the tree trunk. John N. Jenkins visited that tree many years ago. It had grown to be a big tree, but the hatchet marks of the old tree were easily discernible. A few years ago Mr. Jenkins again visited the place, only to find it had been cut down by someone who did not realize its significance.

Some of the Potawatomi went to Kansas and some into Wisconsin. The Kansas Potawatomi were later sent to Indian territory, and still later into Oklahoma. The Potawatomi were forced to leave earlier than the Miamis. By the time the Miamis left, the Wabash & Erie canal had been completed and there was less hardship on the way. Some of the Miamis went down the canal to Lafayette and then across Illinois. The upper Wabash Miamis went eastward to Toledo, then south to the Ohio, and down the Ohio. Some of the Indians wandered back to their old homes. A few were allowed to remain, but others were forced to return to their western homes.

Otho Winger, in his history of the Potawatomi, expresses a fitting thought when he compares the forced exodus of Menominee and his band with that of the Acadians as told by Longfellow in his poem, "Evangeline."

Source: News-Journal, April 25, 1940


Automobile stealing is one of the most common forms of theft today. The motives that cause people to steal cars vary. some steal to obtain a means of transportation from one locality to another. Others steal to make a quick getaway after committing some other crime. Still others steal automobiles for the money they can get in selling them to other people in distant communities. Automobile stealing was more prevalent a few years ago than it is today. Well organized state police systems in nearly every state, plus a better system for recording identification of cars, make automobile stealing a dangerous game today.

In the days before the automobile, another form of stealing was going on with the motives the same. Horse stealing was then in vogue. In the days when the horse was the most important animal on the farm, and when horse trading was an everyday occurrence horse stealing was a lucrative if a somewhat dangerous game. There were no state police forces patrolling the roads in those days, and in fact in many parts of Indiana the roads were little more than trails through the woods. Heavy thickets, swamp country and ravines afforded good hiding places for horse thieves and their stolen horses. There were no telephones or fast means of communication, and once a few miles away from the scene of the crime, it was comparatively easy for a horse thief to get away. Horse stealing was considered a worse crime than murder in many western states, for the horseman, stranded without his horse in the vast prairie or semi desert districts might perish before he came to a human habitation. The horse thief of the west was given short shrift, and his career usually came to a sudden finish with his body dangling at the end of a rope.

So serious had horse stealing  become in Indiana by 1852 that the state legislature, when the new constitution was adopted, enacted a law permitting citizens to organize into "Horse Thief Detective Associations." The law provides that ten or more persons might form themselves into a company for the purpose of detecting and apprehending horse thieves and other felons. Members were accorded the power of constables, but in practice the county commissioners usually appointed part of the members as special constables. Each company had a captain and usually two lieutenants in addition to the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. It was the duty of the captain, when the theft of a horse or other live stock was reported to him to send word to the members, who formed a posse to pursue the thief or thieves. By a system of membership dues, the members were paid for their expenses, while hunting criminals, and non paying members usually paid a reward for recovered property, hence expenses were met in a businesslike manner.

The first company in Wabash county was organized December 15, 1863, and the charter members as recorded at Wabash were as follows:

H. Hutchinson, H. Lantz, L.G. Groninger, J.S. Barnett, A.J. Sprague, Sam Wertenberger, H.L. Groninger, G. Thomas, D.R. Wendle, Isaac Thorn, Eli Lautzenhiser, Benjamin Knoop, J.L. Cowgill, C. Pauling, Thomas Meranda, John Shellenbarger, Thomas Wallace, Miletuzs Andrews, Martin Tridle, John Froost, Steven Jinks, Horace Winton, Joshua Barnette, Levi J. Noftzger, Michael Knoop, James McCutcheon, Jacob Morford, Martin Heckathorn, Philip Wertenberger, William B. Rager, Jacob Warner, Denis Lautzenhiser, John Lawrence, David Warner, Philip Walter, Noah Eckman, W.S. Jordan, J.T. Tilman, J.W. Williams, A.J. Onstott, Jacob Maurer, Michael Kircher, Aaron Stump and Jacob Fodge.

These men were residents of Chester, Pleasant and Jackson townships. The story of their activities is lost in the past. There is no one living today that recalls anything concerning this particular organization. Evidently it was short lived, for a few days later, the exact date of which is not known, the North Manchester Horse Thief Detective Association was formed with a new list of charter members. This organization was active until March 16, 1929, when it was formally dissolved. For a number of years there had been little need for the organization, and in some places similar organizations had allowed their members to become a pest by arresting violators of traffic laws usually in such a manner that indicated existence of a speed trap. There were eleven members when the company dissolved. Memory of the living members differ as to the identity of this eleven. Edward Kitterman, who had served as secretary for many years, did not save his records, and he is dead. George L. Jordan of Clear Creek township, who served as treasurer for 21 years, gives a partial list, as do Thomas Hanley, Daniel Hartsough, and his son, W.Y. Hartsough. According to them these members besides those already mentioned were: Peter Schwenk, Robert Nelson, A.C. Humke, who was captain, Peter Hornaday, Albert Rooney, and Charles Gill. Richard Adams, Alexander Tyner, Seberry Wright and Lyman Phillips were active members until their death. Mr. Wright served as president for many years. W.Y. Hartsough was president in 1929.

Charter members of this company were: Jesse Arnold, Joseph Garber, David T. Krisher, Wiley S. Jordan, Elias Lautzenhiser, Daniel Blickenstaff, Jonas Grossnickle, Jacob C. Swank, Dayton Swank, Stephen Ulrey, G.W. Strickler, Thomas Rooney, Daniel Sala, S.V. Hopkins, Joseph Geik, Elzy F. Jenks, George Schwenck, William A. Miller, Florendeen Miller, J.A. Heckathorn, John H. Ballenger, S.S. Karn, G.N. Heeter, George Kitterman, John J. Bowers and Frank Creager.

Special constables appointed by the commissioners during the intervening years were: Emanuel Egner, Isaiah Hoover, John Hare, Ed Kitterman, Peter Schwenck, Richard Adams, William Naber, Jr., Frank P. Creager, John Bowers, James Walker, Thomas Hanley, Jr., William Banks, Lyman Phillips and Daniel Smith. Of this group of charter members those living are Jonas Grossnickle and Joseph Garber.

Neither Mr. Grossnickle nor Mr. Garber recalls any time that all members were called out. Usually the constables or captain and lieutenants were sufficient to run down a criminal. They were fairly efficient, and it is said there are people living in this vicinity today--staid citizens now, who wish the organization had not been so efficient, for they were apprehended and paid the penalty for their misdeeds. Mr. Garber thinks part of the company was used to break up a camp of petty thieves in the huckleberry swamps near Disko, and it is said that once or twice stolen horses were recovered from the territory known as "Hell's Half Acre," between Roanoke and Fort Wayne.

Ogan's creek, originally named after John Ogan because he built a mill along the creek on what is now the Lautzenhiser place in Riverside, later became known as Pony creek because of horse stealing in an early day. The story goes that in the early days of the townships, before the Indians had left this locality, a band of horse thieves was organized under the leadership of a man named Wicks, first name not known. On what is known as the Kester farm southeast of North Manchester, now owned by Mrs. Tony Stocker, there was a patch of fallen timber--timber blown down by a cyclone. A large corral was made in this timber, and ponies stolen from the Indians and white settlers were kept there until they could be taken elsewhere. This band was broken up about 1840 and Wicks disappeared. Tradition has it that he met death at the hands of men whose horses he had stolen, but if so, his execution was kept secret, and nothing definite ever came to light. At any rate Wicks was seen no more in this locality.

The story of an earlier private detective organization formed by John Comstock of Liberty Mills is told by Clark Weesner in his history of Wabash county in 1914. His account is as follows:

"In 1851 there existed an organization of horse thieves, burglars and counterfeiters, extending from Ohio across Northern Indiana into the Mormon district of Illinois. Members of this gang plotted at various times to intercept Mr. Comstock, William Thorne and other prosperous business men who traveled lonely routes with large sums of money on their persons. Although Mr. Comstock escaped personal molestation, his store was finally robbed of $1,000 worth of goods, and he and his friends and relatives decided to act. Their first step was to organize a private detective service, the members of which were Mr. Comstock, William and Isaac Thorne, John J. Shaubert (Mr. Comstock's son-in-law) and his three sons, Thomas, Henry and William Shaubert. In less than one year this self-constituted detective committee learned the names of more than two hundred of that band of evildoers, several of whom were well known characters living in this vicinity. In a short time the Wabash county force sent to state's prison a neighbor's son for breaking into Mr. Comstock's store, a professed minister who planned the burglary, two horse thieves and a counterfeiter. Two other noted characters barely escaped prison walls--the one by forfeiting his bond, the other by a fatal accident just before the time set for his trial. After a few other arrests had been made, quite a number of men of former good repute in the community settled their affairs and left hurriedly for parts unknown. The Comstock-Thorne-Shaubert Detective Agency was a great success."

N.E. Lautzenhiser was not an Association member, but not infrequently he was called on to run down horse thieves as well as stealers of other property. Mr. Lautzenhiser recalls that he recovered the stolen horses used by the robbers of the Claypool bank a good many years ago. The horses were stolen from the Minear place near the present overhead bridge west of Claypool, and the robbers rode south towards the Erie railroad. They abandoned the horses along the road near the Ora Cripe place four miles west of North Manchester, and is thought made their way on foot to the Erie railroad, boarded a freight train and escaped into Chicago. They never were caught.

Another time the late William Starrett, who lived east of North Manchester, came to Newt with the story that two suspicious acting men had been stopping at the Jordan school house. They had a buggy and harness, but no horse. Questioned they said their horse had died, but didn't say where or how they got there with the rig. A day or so later they were seen to drive away with a horse. That was before the days of general use of telephones and Mr. Starrett hurried to North Manchester to report his suspicions to Newt. The two men started in pursuit and overtook the two strangers near the Barnes school house. They protested their innocence, but could give no clear account of where they obtained the horse. Newt brought them to town on suspicion, and held them until a day or two later when word came that the horse had been stolen from a farmer near Bluffton. Newt doesn't remember the penalty the robbers received, but recalls he received a reward of $25 from the grateful owner of the horse.

The roving bands of gypsies were great horse traders, but were not considered horse thieves. They traveled about in small covered wagons, camping in woods or school land, and made a living swapping horses to farmers in the neighborhood and by begging. The person who traded with them needed to know "horseflesh", for no guarantee of the animal was given, and it was strictly a game of wits and knowledge. Sometimes the farmer was "skint', but there were farmers who were no slouches at horse trading and 'doctoring' winded or otherwise defective horses, and not infrequently it was the gypsies who got the worst of the bargain. Then came the Indiana law requiring the owner to represent accurately the age and condition of a horse, and the days of horse trading were over. The gypsies turned from horses to the automobile, and finding the latter a swift means of escape, turned to open robbery. Many men in this locality ruefully remember some gypsy woman wanting to tell their fortunes, and in the telling their purse was skillfully stolen. So successful have they been that it is seldom they are caught, and less frequently are they convicted.

Source: News-Journal, May 2, 1940

North Manchester had no flour mill in 1836, nor does it have a flour mill today, so in that respect we are in the same situation as when Peter Ogan platted the town and Joseph and Eli Harter, Jacob Neff and others came here with their families a year or so after Ogan. There is this difference in the situation. Few women bake bread today, and those few are using flour made from wheat raised as far away as Canada, or at least the northwestern states of this country. There is no need to hew a pathway through the woods and swamps to the mill at Leesburg, nor float down Eel River to Logansport with a "grist" as did our pioneer forefathers. It was lack of transportation in 1836 that caused so many mills to be built along Eel river and larger creeks. It was easy transportation that sounded the death knell for most of the little mills along Eel River. They could not compete with the big flour mills located nearer the hard wheat production centers, for we got the idea about thirty years ago that only hard wheat made good bread flour.

Rapid transportation gave rise to commercial bakeries, who take their products to the doors of people, not only in the towns but throughout the country districts. The only thing left of the old mill business is the grist mill--the type that grids grain for stock feed. Most of these mills today are operated by electricity, for they are faster, and more reliable than the old water power. At one time there were six important mills along eel river in this locality--Stockdale, below Roann, Laketon, the Harter mill at North Manchester, the Ogan mill at North Manchester, the Comstock mill at Liberty Mills and the mill at Collamer. The Stockdale mill, operated by James Deck, is the only one of the six still manufacturing flour. The mill at Liberty Mills, now owned by the E.S. Rittenhouse estate, is more of a manufacturing enterprise, with the water being used to generate electricity by which the machinery is operated.

One of the first acts of Peter Ogan was to build a dam a little below where the covered bridge now stands, and dig a mill race across the neck of land to a point near the present Ulrey mill. On that site he built a small grain grinding mill and a saw mill. His brother, John Ogan, built a small mill at the mouth of what is now the Kennedy-Hamilton ditch, at the point where it enters Pony creek in South Riverside. Both of those mills were hardly more than "corn cracker" mills. Joseph Harter, Sr., when he came here, bought land of Daniel Stone in what is now the southwest part of North Manchester. Mr. Stone, a bachelor, had entered the land from the government October 12, 1835, and sold to Mr. Harter November 16, 1836. Mr. Harter also bought land of George W. Hatch, that had been successively owned by Enos Throop and William R. Noyes and then sold to Mr. Hatch. That made about 200 acres on both sides of the river that Mr. Harter owned. He felt the need of a flour mill, and in 1839 he and his son, Eli, built a mill near the Iron bridge in the southwest part of town. The dam was constructed of brush, stones and earth, and was several rods below the dam. Very little is known about this mill, except the Harters were manufacturing flour for the community almost from the first. In 1843 Mr. Harter built a larger mill, with three runs of buhrs. He could then make flour and crack corn for corn mean, and thus supply all the grinding needs of the community. Shortly after the first mill was built Eli moved to a farm on the Laketon road, and did not continue in the business.

In the water power mills, the water wheel was in a perpendicular position. The shaft extended upward through the lower mill stone and was fastened to the upper stone which revolved. The lower stone was stationary. These stones were circular and were of a peculiar quality suitable for the purpose. They were corrugated after a fashion, and as the upper stone revolved, the grain was ground between the stones. The lower part of the shaft, which was down in the water, revolved on a hard wood bearing known as lignum vitae, one of the hardest woods known. By sifting process the flour was removed and the outer hull and heart or germ part of the grain were processed into bran and other feed products.

Joseph Harter, Sr., operated the mill until 1851 when he turned it to his two sons, Jacob and Joseph B. Harter, who were familiarly known as J. and J.B. Harter. They operated the mill until February 12, 1852, and then sold to Peter King. He operated it for two years and sold it to Isaac Thorn January 8, 1864. Mr. Thorn operated the mill until 1872 and sold it for $7,000 to Conner & Jacob Tilman.

The mill was bought August 27, 1879, by Henry Arnold and Daniel Strauss, and that was the start of the Strauss family in North Manchester business. Daniel, Jacob and Adam Strauss, or Strouse, as the name was spelled in an earlier day, learned the miller's trade in Ohio and came to Laketon after the Civil war. Their activities at Laketon will be told elsewhere in the Laketon mill story. The new firm at once started building a new mill building and a new dam. The dam was placed upstream a few rods from the Harter dam, and the mill building was also located northeast of the old mill building. This building was in use until it burned about fifteen years ago. The dam, later rebuilt, is still holding back the water in Eel River. Daniel Strauss sold his interest August 13, 1888 to his sons, J.W. & Erwin Strauss. Ervin continued with the firm until 1893 when he sold his interest to his brother. Isaac Shock bought an interest in the business January 2, 1872, and the next year Charles M. Rudy apparently acquired an interest in the business. At any rate Rudy and Shock sold their interest to Samuel Hamilton February 9, 1884. Hamilton sold his interest to Jesse J. Tyler December 1, 1886. During the next fifteen years there was a change of owners of the various third interests. During this period David Hamilton acquired a third interest, although memory of the present generation does not recall whose interest he bought. The late A.D. and I.E. Gingerick also acquired a third interest. David Hamilton sold his interest to John Isenbarger in 1906, and about that time or possibly earlier J.W. Strauss sold his interest in the mill. During all those years the milling firms also maintained a feed and exchange store in the uptown business section. When Mr. Strauss sold his interest at the mill, he opened a new feed store business in the room he owned, while the old feed store was moved out of that building to one farther west. Later the mill discontinued the uptown...
[missing text]

...The machinery was sold and later the building was sold and wrecked. The mill and dam site is now owned by the Northern Indiana Company, although on one or two occasions it has been offered to the Town of North Manchester.

Thus the mill as a going institution came to an end just a century after it was started by Joseph Harter, Sr. It had played an important part in the development of this community. However like many other business institutions, it had to give way to more modern methods, and in a few more years only the old timers will remember a mill ever was located there.

Source: News-Journal, June 20, 1940


The Bridge Building Era.

The years between 1872 and 1880 formed an era of bridge building in Wabash county. Petitions for bridges were about as numerous as our gravel road petitions of thirty years ago and petitions for blacktop roads today. Crossing streams, especially the rivers of the county, had been a problem since the first settlers came. Along Eel River there were a number of shallow places where the river could be forded and later as the towns became more important trading points, bridges were built. None of them lasted very long. They were in a sense homemade affairs, and when high water came they washed away. it was not until the railroads were built in the north part of the county, necessitating permanent bridges where they crossed the river, that people commenced to think about bridges of the permanent type.

Four covered bridges were built across Eel River between 1872 and 1880. Three were built by one company, the Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio. This company had designed and patented a type of wooden bridge that was self supporting with long spans between abutments. It was the type of bride desired, as bridges with several abutments in the middle of the river caused ice jams and were in danger of washing away. About the same time various types of steel bridges were designed and some were built in the county, including the one in the southwest part of North Manchester. These wooden bridges have stood the test of time, have lasted nearly 70 years, with some repairs to the roofs, floors, and abutments, and although not calculated to stand the weight of our heavy trucks today, yet they are holding up under such loads when many of the iron bridges of later date are collapsing.

The iron bridge on the Wabash road in the southwest part of North Manchester was the first of these modern bridges that replaced the old primitive bridges across the river. The contract for that bridge was let May 26, 1871 to T.B. White & Sons of Pennsylvania, for $26.25 per lineal foot. Its location is unfortunate, for it involved a narrow, sharp double turn at the south end, and a curve a little north of the north end. had the bridge been built a little farther west, the road would be straight for some distance either way. But roadways were not changed in those days, for there was no difficulty in turning curves with horse, and even the most far sighted did not foresee the coming of the automobiles. Commissioners who let the contract were Robert Stewart, Alonzo Mason and R.G. Arnold. They were not satisfied with the construction of this bridge, for two years later, they examined the bridge, considered it unsafe, and ordered the contractor to make necessary repairs.

The next year the commissioners decided to build another bridge across Eel River at the south end of Mill street, a crossing for traffic on the "Lagro pike". Two roads forming a junction there, the angling road to Servia, and the Light Harness or Lagro road. It was just below this junction that Peter Ogan had built his dam, and dug a mill race across the narrow neck of land to the northwest. It was because of his mill that he named the street past it Mill street. There were several bids on this bridge, of various types of construction, but the one favored by the commissioners was that of the Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio. The Smith company had a patented wooden bridge, with self-supporting long spans between abutments, that had a roof and sides, and that could be built much cheaper than iron bridges. Contract was let to the company for this bridge at $17 a lineal foot. Hartcorn & Crampton were given the contract for the abutments and Curtis Pauling was appointed superintendent of construction. The bridge was built that summer, and apparently, was so satisfactory, that the next year 1873, the same company was given contract for a bridge across Eel River at Liberty Mills, "to be the exact duplicate of the North Manchester bridge except as the length might vary." The specifications called for an 170 foot span between abutments, a roadway clearance of 16 feet, height between floor and upper truss 17 feet, and to be laid with 2 ½ inch white or burr oak flooring. The price for this bridge was $18.50 a lineal foot. Either costs had advanced, or the Smith Company felt the commissioners would accept their bid on their patented type bridge even at a higher figure. Hon. John Comstock was superintendent of construction, probably one of the last public tasks he performed. James M. Furrow and Samuel Smith built the abutments.

Laketon people, not to be outdone by North Manchester and Liberty Mills, also wanted a bridge, and in 1875, the commissioners, Wiley S. Jordan, Robert Stewart and John Dufton, advertised for bids on a bridge at that place. Again the Smith company was given the contract, this time at a price of $16.50 per lineal foot. The span was 170 feet between abutments, with an overall length of 190 ft. T.C. Barnes built abutments at $5.24 per cubic yard or $3,089.16 total cost. Christian Gerlach, who was trustee of Pleasant township at that time, was allowed $275 to pay for building the road approaches to the bridge.

It was now the turn of Paw Paw township and Roann people. They had asked for a new bridge about 1874 or 1875, but the commissioners inspected the old bridge and thought it would stand for years. It was a wooden bridge, with a wooden railing along the sides. The commissioners, W.S. Jordan, John Ferree and John Dufton were mistaken. A flood swept the bridge away in 1876 and a new bridge had to be built. The bridge that washed away was built in 1856. It replaced one that was built in 1845, and that was washed away by flood. The first bridge was built in 1841 and washed away in 1842 or 43.

The commissioners satisfied with the three covered bridges already built, again planned for a covered bridge but the contract was let to T.B. White & son of New Brighton, Connecticut, and what was known as the Howe truss was used with "angle iron blocks." This time the price was lower, $14.60 per lineal foot, but the bridge was longer. It was built across the river at an angle, had two spans, each of 150 feet. The contract was let in April, 1877, and the bridge was completed November 1 that same year.

When the length of span of these bridges is considered, the person who designed them was no fool. It required a system of bracing and fastening together of wooden timbers, that was a work of art. The person who casually passed through these covered bridges, cannot appreciate their construction. It is only by careful examination that the engineering genius of the creator is realized.

Not always did the early settlers ask for new bridges. The bridge across Eel River, south of the Moyer orchard southwest of Laketon, was falling into a dangerous state of repair. Some people were wanting a new bridge, but B.F. Tryon offered to keep the old bridge in repair for ten years for $350, and the commissioners accepted his offer.

 The present iron bridge at the town hall in North Manchester was not the first bridge across the river at that point. Some of the old timers may remember the old suspension bridge that led to Riverside in the early days. It was a foot bridge only, and was replaced by the present bridge about 1895.

The Second street bridge was built in 1887. Farmers northeast of North Manchester objected to the long drive around to the covered bridge, and demanded a bridge farther north. It is unfortunate the roads were not changed then, before East Manchester was developed. Had that been done, one big bridge at the east end of Main street would have served in the place of two bridges.

The Second street bridge was ordered built after a commission of 320 property owners, headed by L.J. Noftzger, Lewis Signs and G.W. Lawrence had been presented to the commissioners. The Massillon Bridge Company was awarded the contract for $5,950 for the bridge structure, exclusive of the abutment cost.

If North Manchester could have four bridges, Liberty Mills should have more than one, for ancient rivalry between North Manchester and Liberty Mills was not altogether forgotten by the old timers of the eighties. Hence in 1889 or 1890 there came a demand that the old wooden piling bridge at the northwest edge of Liberty Mills be replaced by a new bridge. It was granted and the present iron bridge was built.

Only fragments of history of the bridges prior to this period are available. It is known there was a bridge at the Harter mill in the southwest part of town. In 1858 the commissioners appropriated $500 to assist Chester township to rebuild a bridge that had become unsafe, indicating from the very early days there was a bridge of some kind across the river. Francis M. Eagle, son-in-law of Joseph Harter, Sr., was entrusted with the expending of this money.

At Liberty Mills $600 was appropriated in 1858 by commissioners to assist Liberty Mills in building a bridge. This also was to replace an old bridge, described as unsafe. To John Comstock was entrusted the spending of the money, provided enough additional was donated to complete the bridge. Apparently it was built, for it was not until 1873 that the present covered bridge was built at Liberty Mills.

The fifth covered bridge was at Dora, and old timers think it was built in the seventies or early eighties. Thus far the exact date is not known by the present generation. There was a bridge there prior to 1861, for Michael Minnich was appointed by the commissioners to locate a new bridge, not over 200 feet down stream from the old one, and he reported that he had let a contract for $2,350 for the bridge and $644 for the abutments. In the late seventies and early eighties there were numerous repair items for the Dora bridge, indicating the 1861 bridge was still in use.

Source: News-Journal, June 27, 1940


Bridge Built After Drowning.

It took a drowning to get a bridge across Eel River where Road 15 crosses the river southwest of Laketon. It was Frank Reahard, father of Dan Reahard. He and a team of horses drowned while trying to ford the river July 22, 1896. Following his death a petition, signed by Solomon Eikenberry, David Peters, D. VanBuskirk and 220 others, was presented to the Wabash county commissioners and on March 6, 1897, a contract was let to the Wabash Bridge & Iron Works for $6,285. The bridge was to be completed by June 1 that year.

It was an odd quirk of fate several years previous that indirectly resulted in Mr. Reahard losing his life. In 1887 a petition was presented to the commissioners asking that a bridge be built, either at the Reahard ford, where the drowning occurred nine years later, or at the the Tryon ford a mile east, which is on the road south of Moyer's orchard. The commissioners turned down the petition, but apparently pressure continued, for July 25, 1888, they let a contract to the Massillion Bridge Company for an iron bridge with a 175 foot span to be located at the Tryon ford. The contract price was $5,100 and the bridge was completed by the following December.

In an earlier day there had been a bridge at the Tryon Ford. Last Thursday in telling of other bridges along the river, it was mentioned that people were wanting a new bridge at the Tryon crossing, but that B.F. Tryon offered to keep the old bridge in repair for ten years for $350, which offer the commissioners accepted. It would seem that the old bridge washed away and that people had to return to using the ford. The fact there had been a bridge at this place, may be the reason why the commissioners in 1888 decided to build a bridge there instead of at the Reahard ford.

The North Manchester Journal in the issue of July 30, 1896, gives a detailed account of Mr. Reahard's death. This story in part follows:

"Mr. Reahard had gone to Wabash driving two horses hitched to a spring wagon, and as was his custom, forded the river, his home being near the river on the north side. (Dan Reahard lives on this farm now.) The stream when he crossed in the morning was high, and according to statements of persons living near, raised two feet or more during the day. That evening between five and six o'clock he returned from Wabash. Leonard Flora lives within twenty rods of the ford and Flora's children were at the road as Mr. Reahard approached. They informed him the stream had raised during the day and that it would be dangerous for him to undertake to cross. He said he apprehended no danger and bid the children goodbye in a cheerful tone and passed on into the river.

"Nothing further was known of him until noon the next day, the family becoming uneasy because of his continued absence. A member of the family went down to the ford and called over to Mr. Flora and learned Mr. Reahard had attempted to cross the night before. Word of a probably accident spread rapidly and neighbors collected. That evening the drowned team and spring wagon were found at the head of an island eighty rods below the ford, the team yet hitched to the wagon. They were removed from the river and the search for Reahard began at once. Men with boats, using grappling hooks, spears, rakes, etc., were busy every hour of daylight, searching for the body for miles on each side of the river. Heavy charges of dynamite were exploded, in short everything possible was resorted to in an effort to locate the body. Tuesday of the following week, word came from Chili that the body had been found, in a pile of driftwood. John Reahard, father of Frank, went to Chili and identified the body. The funeral was held at the West Manchester church. Mr. Reahard was 45 years old and left a family of seven children.

"The ford where Mr. Reahard lost his life has a history going back to the early settlement of the country. Nearly forty years ago Joseph Harris a well known pioneer in Pleasant township, and long since dead, in attempting to ford there, was swept down stream and came near losing his life. Perhaps he would have, had he not been a man of great strength and cool headed in danger. As it was, one horse of his team drowned, and his wagon box, containing things he had bought in Wabash, was carried away and never recovered.

"Twenty-one years ago James Brown and wife, driving Leonard Flora's team, missed the track and found themselves in water fifteen feet deep. The screams of the woman brought Wagoner Day and Darius Sewell to their assistance. They rescued the woman first. Brown, in the wagon box, floated down to the island where Reahard's team was found, and was rescued from his perilous position, nearly frightened to death. The team like Reahard's was one strong mare Mr. Flora had often practiced swimming in that same hole before, the other a young horse that had not been accustomed to swimming.

"While Day and Sewell were rescuing the woman and man, the team was swimming from side to side, but could not hold against the current of the river between the steep bank and deep water. The young horse finally gave out and turned over on its side. The old mare, once more swimming to the opposite shore, dragged the wagon and apparently dead horse with her. That time she struck a wider margin of shallow water and dragged out her mate until its head rested on solid ground. To the surprise of spectators, the supposedly drowned horse, got to its feet, but never afterward was of any service to the owner.

"Twelve years ago Frank Forshea, wife and child came near losing their lives at the same ford. From these circumstances it will be readily seen that there is and always has been enough travel across the ford to justify the expense of a bridge that the river may be crossed safely. The ripple upon which it has been possible to cross the river, is but a narrow belt of rock or perhaps hardpan of gravel with deep water on either side and persons driving a little to right or left would find themselves in deep water and liable to misfortune. The danger of the ford is and always has been a drawback on the value of lands on the north side."

Little did the Journal writer in 1897 realize that a few decades later a fine cement highway would be built along that road, and that a fine bridge, probably the best in the county, would be in use at that danger spot. The old iron bridge, built after the drowning of Mr. Reahard, was replaced a few years ago by the present bridge when Road 15 was relocated and paved. This is another example of the hardships and dangers encountered by the older generations. Wabash county taxpayers paid heavily indeed for bridges between 1870 and 1910. Not only the river bridges, but numerous bridges and culverts across creeks, had to be built before people could travel in all directions over all the roads of the county in all kinds of weather.

Dow Flora remembers the Reahard affair very distinctly. It was he and his sister, Mrs. George Baker of Roann, who spoke to Mr. Reahard as he was driving to the river, and Mrs. Baker warned him that the river had risen. Mr. Flora does not think the river was too high to ford at that time, but thinks a heavy log struck the wagon and swept it into deep water. Mr. Reahard was serving on a jury at Wabash that day, and had told his family he might not get home that night. Consequently the family was not alarmed. Dow had to go after the cows in a woods that evening, or he would have gone to the river to watch Mr. Reahard cross. The next morning Dow was at the river when the Reahard children came to the north bank, and in the conversation, it was learned that Mr. Reahard had not returned. Dow remembers ringing the dinner bell at intervals to arouse the neighborhood, and of the intensive search that followed. When the horses were found it was evident at least one had lived long enough to drag the wagon and the other horse up on the island. This animal had died in an upright position, wedged in a clump of brush or small trees.

Residents in the neighborhood of the Reahard ford say the iron bridge that was built across the river at the North Manchester town hall, really was intended for the Reahard ford. However they given no reasons why the location was changed to North Manchester. There is nothing in the commissioners' records that would indicate such was the case. The North Manchester bridge was built about 1895 and there is nothing in the records to indicate there was any petition for a bridge at the Reahard crossing until after he drowned with the exception of the petition of 1887 when the bridge was located at the Tryon ford. No doubt there is some basis for the story, but it is a question whether the agitation for the Reahard bridge did get beyond the talking stage until after Mr. Reahard's death.

NEWSLETTER of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.



Pioneer Reminiscences

Compiled by Harry L. Leffel

News-Journal, 1940

During the year, 1940, The News Journal ran a series of articles called PIONEER REMINISCENCES compiled by Harry L. Leffel. The following has been gleaned from those columns.

The first couple married in Chester township was George Hapner and Elizabeth Simonton. Their license was issued by Col. William Steele first county clerk at Wabash December 26, 1835, and they were married by William Caldwell, justice of the peace, Jamuary 2, 1836. Their marriage occurred only a few months after Miss Simenton's father, John Simonton, Sr, and a group of relatives had come to Chester township from Preble County, Ohio. It is not known definitely, but it is believed Hapner was a member of this party, and that he and Elizabeth knew each other in Ohio. The name of Hapner does not appear in the early records about Wabash and Lagro and there were only a few other settlers in Chester township

Richard Helvey and James Abbott, Sr., had settled in 1834 and it is probable Peter Ogan had built his cabin some time in 1834 on the banks of Eel River. Simonton and his party arrived here October l, 1835. They came overland, using wagons and bringing all their possessions with them. In this party were Jacob Simonton and his family, oldest son of John, Sr., David Simonton, also married and John, Jr., and his wife. Robert Johnson Calhoun, father of young John's wife, and his family were also in the party.

They spent the first night on the south side of Eel River, probably where Riverside is now located, and the next day started "up the river" to the 160 acre farm the elder John Ogan had entered at the Fort Wayne


land office two years earlier. The date of this entry was October l4, 1833, and the fifth entry of Chester township land. Whether Ogan saw this land before he entered it, or whether he actually went to Fort Wayne from Ohio to make the transaction is not known. This land is the southwest quarter of Section 26, Township 30, Range 7 East, and the Pleasant Grove church, or "Lower Union" as it was first known was located on it. Later owners were Frederick Naber and later a Peden family.  

(Ed note: Fred Nabor became one of the major land owners in the area north of 114 and east of North Manchester. The Union church was in the southwest corner of his l60 acre farm. Simonton Creek went through the farm and flowed west into the Eel midway between Manchester and Liberty Mills.)

The younger Simontons wre not long in acquiring land of their own. Jacob entered 120 acres of the quarter east of his father's October l0, 1835. That was only the beginning. March 8, 1836 he obtained about 84 acres in the extreme east part of the township south of road 14. Other brothers gained land in a number of areas, mostly in Chester township with a few spots in Lagro township. Three Simonton brothers were early merchants in Liberty Mills, but continued to live on their farms and were essentially farmers. John, Jr was probably the first to carry mail regularly between Lagro and Liberty Mills. He followed a trail out of Lagro past the Catholic cemetery, and straight north to the plank road that John Comstock built from Liberty Mills to Huntington. That road was called the Mail Trace Road.


The Mill that Joseph Harter,Sr., erected in 1839 was succeeded by a better mill in 1843, and he operated this mill until 1851 when he retired and turned it to his sons, Jacob and Joseph H. Harter....The Harters sold the mill in 1864 to Peter King. During the next few years it passed through successive ownership until it was purchased by Daniel Strauss and Henry Arnold in 1872.

J. K. Lautzenhiser, one of the older residents, remembers the remnants of the old Ogan dam. He says it was built of brush, piled with the but ends upstream. Interwoven with the brush were stones and dirt. The Harters had only torn out part of the dam, and a considerable

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portion of the water flowed through the race. In fact had the race not been filled later on near the covered bridge, it is very likely the river would have cut a new channel directly across instead of the roundabout bend that is the present channel. Ogan had to build an earthen bank on the south side of the covered bridge to keep the water from flowing south to Pony Creek.

Mr. Lautzenhiser recalls that as a boy he swam in the river and race many times. He recalls a big thorn tree that stood near the river at the point where the mill race started and of how it probably saved the life of John Ballenger, father of William Ballenger.

Leonard Brothers operated a butcher shop, and had their slaughter house on the island, between the race and the river to the west. The slaughter house was on the highest ground and was built some distance above the ground. In time of high water hogs that were kept on the island were driven into the slaughter house. On this occasion had risen rapidly and John Ballenger started in a boat to rescue the hogs. His boat was caught in the current where it divided into the mill race and the main stream. Undoubtedly the boat would have capsized had not Ballenger grabbed the thorn tree.

As he clung to the branches the boat was swept away, and Ballenger was stranded. His cries for help were heard by Carter Wallace and William Ford, and they rescued him in another boat. According to Mr. Lautzenhiser the Ogan mill stood near the site of the gasoline station on South Mill street and he distinctively remembers the old building.

The island was also frequently used a a circus ground and since there was no bridge across the mill race, the circus equipment was taken across at the place it was the shallowest. Presumably the young gallants taking their best girls to the circus carried them across the mill race. The late C. C. Winebrenner when he obtained that land about 1920 allowed people to haul trash into the race and it became the town dump. When it was full Mr. Winebrenner hauled in dirt and made a level field out of the ground.

Mahlon Frame and William Thorn his partner in many enterprises were contemporary in North Manchester with the Ogans and Harters. While Mr. Thorn was not associated with Frame in the mill the two

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had formed a partnership in 1839 and operated a dry goods and grocery store on the site later occupied by the Landis drug store at the northwest corner of Main and Walnut street. Michael Knoop later became a partner and after a period of time Mr. Frame and Mr. Knoop retired. Thorn purchased as much stock as he could carry in a two horse wagon and took it to Iowa. A year later he returned to North Manchester and again entered the mercantile business.