NMHS NEWSLETTER August 1984
Friends of Museum Donate 250 Hours, Organize Objectives
Since the time we were given the gift of a location for our museum, a crew of people have worked in excess of 250 hours cleaning, painting, repairing, etc.
On May 26th the museum artifacts were moved. Five adults, five Little Hoosiers, and three high school boys aided in that work.
On May 29th Ray and Vivian Welborn and Dean and Catherine Smith met in the museum above the City Hall with supplies and with an excitement of finally beginning to inventory our items and artifacts. They visited three museums to get ideas of how other museums are catalogued and items displayed.
One of their objectives is to begin the new museum in a proper manner in order that even twenty-five years from now anyone could carry it on after being established on a firm basis. We don’t want to be a storage attic for items that people no longer want. Each item should show the progress of America in a general way and also the history and progress of our own historical town.
Five books have been purchased which will give us a background in building a museum and properly cataloguing the items. Later on we will need some office supplies, and newspaper articles and post cards which are now in a four-drawer file cabinet. They will have to be sorted into a better system. The procedure of cataloguing all the items is a big job but we are excited about the progress we have made already.
The community will have a sneak preview of the museum when we have a small display for the “Fun Fest” beginning August 17th. Look for museum hours in the local newspaper.
Gifts to North Manchester Historical Society to date in 1984
“A History of Wabash County”
“A History of Northeastern Indiana” from Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Greengard
Pictures of Livery Stable on
Standard Oil Bulk Plant sw corner of N. Manchester,
Interior of Olinger & Warvel Garage from Mrs. Lloyd Dillman
Discharge Papers from Army after Civil War and a Medal. Both belonged to her grandfather McBride from Orrel Little
Lighted Display Case from Oppenheim’s
3 Display Cases from Wabash County Museum
2 Racing Programs from N.
Manchester Fair 1922 Issue of Ladies Home Journal (Christmas).
Hat and Styrofoam Head from Nancy J. Reed
Photo Album from Elizabeth Kellogg, Grand Rapids, Michigan
The Historical Society is planning a new publication of famous personalities who have come from N. Manchester. If you have someone you would like to see included or have information or pictures of one of our famous residents, please contact Keith Ross at 982-4732 or Lester Binnie at 982-7236.
Marshall’s Home to Be Restored
Thomas R. Marshall’s home (and now home of the Whitley County Historical Society) in Columbia City will be restored. A committee has been set up to plan the project which will use a grant available in February, 1985, from the John and Hester Adams Trust.
Connie Grant is chairman and Allan White, North Manchester, is a member. The Adamses were newspaper publishers.
Marshall hired architects, Wing and Mahurin, Fort Wayne, to remodel the home before he married. After Marshall’s death the house was sold and divided into several apartments.
Using the Wing-Mahurin drawing, the first stage will restore the back stairway and return kitchen walls to their original placement. Much of the society’s organizational office has been moved to offices in the basement so that first floor space can be devoted to Thomas Marshall.
The Search for Entertainment in 19th Century North Manchester by Dr. L. Z. Bunker
Social life in pioneer days centered around the home and the church. People gathered in houses for religious services with welcomed visits of the circuit rider. An early gathering was the camp meeting where people convened in a wooded tract and listened to sermons and revivalists and had group singing. The camp meeting was originated in Kentucky as early as 1801 by Barton Stone, a pastor of the Disciples of Christ. Harter’s Grove which included the area which is now the Warvel Park, was a recreation area in North Manchester since the town began in 1836. The first church building was said to have been constructed here in 1849 and was a center for many activities.
Family visiting and, as the country filled up, reunions were popular. Weddings were celebrated with huge dinners, second day “in fair” dinners, and collations for afternoon and evening visitors. Funerals were one occasion of much eatery and, in some groups, drinking. Food was brought to the house of the deceased by neighbors and friends.
When the Civil War ended and troops returned in companies or regiments, huge dinners, pitch in, were served in churches.
This was horse country so as early as mid-1840’s, George Thorne had a half mile straight track on the flat by the river near the present College football field. His mare, Red Maria, was always a winner. Ministers preached against the betting and drinking that accompanied the races.
By 1871 North Manchester had two railroads. Soon the American Express Company was shipping in iced oysters, salmon, and also fresh fruit not previously available. Oyster suppers were very popular. Sleigh rides and taffy pulls were popular and hay rides and picnics in the summer. Along with food, the railroads brought theatrical troupes, “tour shows”. Presenting “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was an annual affair. Traveling companies put on “Ben Hur”, “Last Days of Pompeii”, “Richelieu” and an extended Shakespearian repertoire.
North Manchester was on a main line into Chicago so sometimes exceptional talent came – Nora Bayes, the star of “Shine on Harvest Moon”, and Fay Templeton among others. Local people occasionally put on home talent shows, usually black face minstrels. Hamilton’s Opera House, built in 1876, was the scene of many of these activities. It was built over a livery stable, heated by stoves and lighted by coal oil lamps. That it didn’t burn down can be considered a modern miracle. Many public speakers, politicians, evangelists, magicians, phrenologists and nuts like “The Immortal J.N.” enlivened the local scene.
Traveling circuses, often dog and pony shows, came to town. Medicine shows first with a minstrel and later with wild west themes, held forth on Henney’s Lot, the vacant block on Main and Elm Street.
The Tri County Fair Association has large grounds here where the Peabody Memorial Home is now located. From the 1890’s to 1920’s it operated horse barns, a circular track, and grand stand for summer and fair time racing. Special trains brought visitors to the week-long fall fair, as many as 10,000 in a day, a real crush! The town was full of visitors, wild west characters, the racing crowd, gypsies, circus lion tamers, acrobats, and freaks. Everywhere were stands selling “Coney Islands” which were hamburgers, also soft drinks, trashy souvenirs, and “carnival” glass at 10 cents per small piece.
Before the first world war our first movie house was an open air “nickelodeon” on the corner of Main and Market Street, where Dave’s Restaurant is now. The seats were bleachers. The show could only begin at dark. Admission was a dime. The shows were in black and white with printed subtitles. A piano was wheeled out every night and Mary Rockwell provided the sound accompaniment. Favorite films featured an English comedian, John Bunny, and Pearl White starring in a serial, “The Great Train Robbery”. Later indoor movie houses were the Crystal, Ritz, and Marshall.
For about a decade, 1910-1920, a remarkable institution, the Redpath Chatauquah, spent a summer week here camped out on the Central School ground. It was billed as strictly high class, educational, family entertainment. They brought in large bands (Bohumir Kryl’s and Pallario’s), fading opera stars, U.S. Senators, poets, British propaganda speakers, an occasional play such as Booth Tarkington’s “Man from Home”, “Seven Keys to Bald Pate”, and “Nothing but the Truth”. Their reputation was once sullied by a rowdy interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” by a traveling company.
“Times change and we change in them”, the Romans said. Transportation and education produced a more sophisticated citizenry. The Chatauquah and the fair faded away, along with Hamilton Opera House and the thespians who enchanted its audiences.
By the 1920’s radio, talking and colored movies and later, television, assumed leading roles in entertainment.
NOTE: “The Immortal J.N.” was a
crazy fellow of about 50 or 60 years of age who traveled all over the country
promising to “reveal the future”, but never showing up for a performance.
He was once an attorney for the railroad and it was said he lost his mind
following a lengthy court battle over a difficult railroad case.
He had free passage on any railroad line.
Speeches and Oral Histories transcribed for the Historical Society
An Interview with Russell & Helen Michael by Richard Bittinger & Joanna Strode
An Interview with Lawrence W. Schultz by Richard Bittinger & Joanna Strode
Renovating Our House by Paula & Parks Adams
Old Opera House & Curtain-an Interview with Dr. L. Z. Bunker by Steve Batzka
Early Entertainment in North Manchester written by Dr. L. Z. Bunker
A Medical History of North Manchester written by Dr. L. A. Bunker
Churches of North Manchester written by Rev. Orrin Manifold
Many more oral histories and
taped speeches that have been presented to the Historical Society are in the
process of being transcribed by Nancy Reed.
Copies may be purchased at the Clerk’s Office for 10 cents per page.
Short Course in North Manchester History
Written for the Historical Society by L. S. Shultz 1972
The Miamis were the first people who lived here. The Potawatomis (Keepers of the Fire) had pushed south in Indiana to the Kenapocomoco (Eel River, the Snake Fish) by 1750. The Potawatomi chief, Pierish, built his village on the high ground just north of the Manchester College football field now the Hostetler addition to the town.
Richard Helvey settled on his Indian village site in 1834. He was the first settler. Peter Ogan came in 1834 and built the first house. Joseph Harter came in 1836 and his daughter, Phoebe, was the first white child born in N. Manchester. She was the grandmother of Dorothy Butterbaugh Cordier.
Peter Ogan surveyed and laid out a plat of the town in 1836-1837. This plat was recorded on February 13, 1837. The town was incorporated in 1874. In 1860 the population was about 400, by 1876 about 1,600. In 1970 it was 5,791, [and our 1980 census gives our population at 5,998.] Ogan did a good job by laying out wide streets.
North Manchester is located between Indiana State Roads 13 and 114 in Chester Township, Wabash County on the 41st parallel, north latitude.
The railroads came in 1871-1872. They were the Big Four and the Vandalia, later know as Conrail and the Penn Central. Their coming helped the town to grow rapidly. It made possible the outstripping of their rival, Liberty Mills, under the leadership of John Comstock who owned most of that town. Before the railroads a plank road known as the Mail Trace from Lagro was very influential in the growth of this community. It came from the Wabash and Erie Canal and was important from about 1850-1870.
Early family names in the North Manchester area were: Ogan, Harter, Cook, Brown, Butterbaugh, Strickler, Frame, Lautzenhiser, Bonewitz, Wright, Ebbinghouse, Grossnickle, Delauter, Frantz, Ulrey, Noftzger, Cripe, Abbott, Williams, Strauss, Karn, Oppenheim, Heeter, Halderman, Beauchamp, Peabody, Baker, Blocher, Howe, Hoover, Hippensteel, Martin, Swank and Simonton.
North Manchester has the
following churches founded in the years noted: Church of the Brethren, 1838; Old
German Baptist, 1881; First Brethren, 1885; Methodist, 1841; United Brethren,
1833 (the latter two now the United Methodist); Congregational Christian, 1842;
Lutheran, 1846; Church of the Nazarene, 1937; Missionary, 1953; and Catholic,
President Duane Martin – 982-2364
Vice-President Keith Ross 982-4732
Secretary Robert Nelson 982-4706
Treasurer Arthur Gilbert 982-2900