Source: Ruth M. Brubaker, THE HISTORY OF PLEASANT TOWNSHIP SCHOOLS 1835-1962 (1979), pp. 451-453.
DISKO (NEW HARRISBURG)
This District was located in the western part of the township. It was located among the hills on Section 35, Township 30, Range 5 with Miami County line on the west, with Fulton county to the northwest side also. There were seventy-eight lots; streets: Spring, South Main and Center. A part of the village was in Miami County. Why the place was established exactly there, rather than upon any other especial spot upon the surface of that entire region is, perhaps, one of those inscrutable mysteries which in these latter days it will be impossible for a "feller ever to find out." The proprietor, doubtless had a reason in his own way, but it was buried with him, and can never be revealed.
It was founded about the year of 1856 or rather laid out by George Gearhart, proprietor. N.M. Moore surveyed it in April 1856, and it was recorded July 1856, by Lewis Sheets, Recorder of Wabash County.
It was for a long time far away from any railroads, the nearest precinct was Roann, some eight or ten miles to the south. But lo and behold in 1881-82 when the Chicago and Atlantic that shot across the State of Indiana and between the two parts of the double town of Laketon, grazed the little dormant hamlet of New Harrisburg sleeping amidst the knobs and knolls of Pleasant Township in Wabash County.
The Depot was built for the town some half mile away in a sort of swamp and marsh, sixty rods from any road or street by which could be reached safely. The switching which cars may be detained for loading or unloading was at least half mile from anywhere, and from the depot as well. With no possible avenue of approach to there through any opened thoroughfare.
It was thought it was about this time that the name New Harrisburg was changed to Disko. For there was another station on the Railroad of that name and one had to change. Since this was the last one it was up to them to change. As to why it was Disko was not found out.
A gentleman who had been born and bred in the vicinity, but who had made his domicile for some years in the far West, having heard that a railroad had been constructed past New Harrisburg, felt a hearing come over him to return to the home of his youth. A purpose was formed within his heart to go back to Hoosier land and set up business in the aforesaid village of New Harrisburg. Hoping and expecting that by the advent of the locomotive, it had become or would grow in time to be an important center of trade. So, loading his household goods upon the freight train in Nebraska (perhaps), he ordered them to be set down at New Harrisburg. In due time the thing was done, but where? Not at a railroad crossing of the street nor at the depot as one would have thought, but away at the switch instead, half mile from any point of access. How did the man succeed in obtaining his goods, put off by train men for his convenience and his use! By a round-about way, through fields, gates, fences, of fully two miles, he made out after a world of trouble, to succeed in bringing his goods to within reach of the ordinary ways of mortal man. It was hoped that this condition of superlative abstraction and impassable isolation would not be continued long; or else it may happen that the person's prospect of financial success with varying fortunes of that ambitious and aspiring little "burg" will be truly, like angels, visits "few and far between."
Early business beginnings were weak. William Carpenter built a small frame dwelling and a store in 1858. Mr. Bloomer erected another dwelling and another store in 1858. Daniel Spargy established a grocery in 1860. Mr. Trifoos thought the place was in need of a grog shop. He went into business about 1860 and was hoped to be there for a long time. But was not for long. Thomas Wittenberger and William K. Thurston put in a dry goods store about 1864, having very good stock. Joseph Feigert and John Young set up a smith shop and a wagon repair and then enlisted in the volunteer military service. Jonas Lukens and Charles Barrett had a store partnership; Charles Barrett built a dwelling some years ago, and did business there in 1884.
There was another store kept by Baughman, begun in 1882. The physicians have been Meers, Sampson, Vaughins, Whip, Richardson, and Barr until 1884. Charles Fleck had a blacksmith shop in 1884.
There was a grist mill propelled by water from a spring and from a ditch dug to collect water for the mill. It was built about 1856, having a large wheel twenty-four feet in diameter and did well, lasting however only six to eight years. It stood half a mile northeast of New Harrisburg. Mr. Zimmerman had a saw mill in town; Frank Onstatt built it in 1880 and took it away again, but it was returned to the place in 1883; it was a good mill doing satisfactory and extensive work. Ansel Ferree has a butcher shop in 1884. The post office was created in 1876, being removed from Niconza, Miami County, three mils south. There was a milliner shop, a shoe-maker's shop, a Methodist Church (built in 1873), a railroad depot in the neighborhood in 1884.
The agent at the depot was Joseph Nelson; there were about twenty-five dwellings in May of 1883 and perhaps 100 people.
It was hoped and was certainly expected by the people of the place and region, that the town would awaken and arouse herself into a vigorous and increasing activity, and that she would become at some distant day a worthy companion and rival of her sister towns already established throughout the county.
One would think the little town might have room to spread herself largely, since the neighbors were so far away that they could not seriously interfere with her business or her prospects.
The distance to some places in the region were herewith given: Roann, six and one-half miles; Laketon, six and one-half miles; North Manchester, nine miles; Wabash, fifteen miles; Lagro, fifteen and one-half miles; and New Holland, twenty-one and one-half miles. If men of a proper business spirit and skill own lots and handle and control the beginning of enterprise in connection with the rising village, a prosperous and successful future was in store, for all which prosperity and abundant success the denizens of New Harrisburg was thought to be in the future.
Some of the very early residents were: Widow Lukens, Harvey Shipley, south; Isaiah Shipley, Alexander Shipley, Nathan Shipley, Aaron Zimmerman, west; Mr. Shelmadine, Aaron Miller (forty years), Andrew Kreamer, north, Thomas Wittenberger, Tobias Gushard, east.
Disko did grow some as time went on. But as stated, it was divided by two counties, so were the places of business. In Wabash County or on the east side of the Main Street that ran north and south was a store operated by S.A. Scott & Co. Later owned by Frank Peters, Charles Watkins, a Mr. Zumbrum and during the time of the Erie double tracking, this store was operated by Frank and Charles Madeford. later, again Frank Peters, who had built a new cement block building across the road in Fulton County. The old Wabash store building was later bought by the Disko Fish Club and later donated to the Disko Methodist Church. The very sincere Fish Club members discovered that too many fish in the lakes failed to get enough food. The Church then sold the building to Don Gearhart, who remodeled it into a home.
On the Fulton County side of Disko was located the Barber Shop with John Will Heare as the Barber, Harness shop owned by John Sul Shipley, the post office with one of the many postmasters Amelia Shipley and Judd Harsh placed the mail bagged on a special hanger and the Erie Express Mail cars caught the mail bag with a special hook that resembled a machine gun. Later Mr. Alice Grogg served as Postmaster, while J.A. Si Grogg sold buggies, pianos, sewing machines (The New Home) and coal.
North of the East and West alley, Frank Zimmerman had a large store. Selton Essig was store manager; it was in this store where the first telephone exchange was. North of this store was a grocery owned by Sara Flack. Chris Fleck had a butcher shop in the south part of the store. Chris Fleck would deliver meat to farmers, all around the area. He had a four wheel wagon with a little meat house built on it, from which he delivered iced fresh meat. Chris always had a little pair of high lived horses to deliver the meat. One time they ran off from the Linc Lukens place and scattered wagon parts and meat and ice all along the road.
The last one to run the old Fleck butcher shop was Delmo Bechtelheimer, before it along with most of the other store buildings on the Fulton County side were either burned or torn down.
The Zimmerman store sold groceries, cloth, clothing and shoes. It was later owned by Garner and Anna Schipper Kampen. Then owned by John and Floyd Fleck, then Mr. Oliver back to the Flecks, to Percy Tullis, Tilford Pearson had a store and was postmaster for a time. Mrs. John Amiegh had the store last and was the last to close the doors for the last time.
Disko blacksmith shop operated by Charles Fleck and then later by Aaron Shipley. Aaron operated the shop when Frank Lukens was a young boy. Horseshoeing by Aaron was an art, in which he took great pride. Aaron always did good work and was sorely missed by the community. Russell Shipley (his son) tried running the shop for a while with the help of Charles Lotz. But soon gave it up as it just was not for him. Russell taught school at Akron for many years.
Later several men tried to run the blacksmith shop with very little success and it too was closed as many other things had been.
One of the residents Abraham Lincoln (Linc) Lukens was a school teacher and taught for 19 years in Pleasant Township. Roann and other places. He was paid $1.25 to $2.25 per day.
Disko is still there but there are not stores. There is a church that is attended by people from all three counties that make up Disko.
There is one thing many people think of when talking about Disko is the very large Gravel pit that Wabash County gets gravel from for many of their gravel roads.
There once was a very unusual filling station in Disko and one can still see part of it. It was shaped like a "Dutch Mill". It was and still is a landmark to many.