of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.

Volume XXVII       Number 1       February  2010




In December 2009, William Eberly and Nancy J. Reed received on behalf of the North Manchester Historical Society the “Outstanding Historical Organization Award” granted by the Indiana Historical Society. The award presentation took place on December 7, 2009, in the Eli Lilly Hall in Indianapolis at the headquarters of the Indiana Historical Society. This special recognition is given annually to a local or county historical society, organization or site in Indiana “which has demonstrated remarkable public services and programs to its community.”




“Doing a lot with a little,” most accurately describes the accomplishments of the North Manchester Historical Society. The organization’s success at preserving the community’s ties to the past, providing residents with ongoing education and programming, and also looking to the future with a rapidly growing collection at the Center for History were all reasons why it was selected from among similar organizations statewide for a major award.


The Indiana Historical Society presented the “2009 Outstanding Historical Organization Award” to the North Manchester Historical Society (NMHS) at its annual Founders Day Dinner on December 7 in Indianapolis.


Accepting the award on behalf of the NMHS were Bill and Eloise Eberly and Nancy Reed. Bill Eberly said, “We felt quite honored to be there and to receive the award. It speaks to the wonderful work our volunteers devote to the Society and to the museum on Main Street.”


The award is given each year to “county or local historical societies, organizations or sites in Indiana that have demonstrated remarkable public service to the communities they serve.”


The NMHS was formed in 1972 with just twelve charter members. Growing by leaps and bounds over the past 37 years, the society accomplishes much despite relying solely on volunteer time and efforts for everything from its day-to-day operations to securing grants to preserve many parts of the area’s history.


It publishes a quarterly newsletter with original articles and notes and hosts regular programs that serve hundreds of local residents. The Society has undertaken many large tasks over the years, from the rededication of its covered  and the purchase and restoration of Governor Thomas R..  

Marshall’s birth home to the collecting of artifacts and the opening of its museum.


At the Center for History, volunteers are currently remodeling a large back room to house large numbers of farm equipment and other historical artifacts donated by the Harold Miller family. The room is being remodeled to look like the interior of a barn so when it’s complete, the new exhibit will give visitors a “window” into North Manchester’s agricultural heritage.


The Center for History also participates in numerous projects with several groups from the community, including students, teachers, civic groups, and service organizations. ...Through all that it does, the NMHS depends on volunteers and the financial support of the community. For more info, see its website at , email , or call 260-982-0672.






North Manchester News-Journal Feb 3, 2010


The North Manchester Historical Society was honored by the Chamber of Commerce as the winner of the 2009 Spirit of the Community Award at the 2010 annual dinner Thursday night, January 28.


2008 winner Debbie Chinworth, who was filling in for 2009 winner Rowena Greer, presented the North Manchester Historical Society the award.


“The Spirit of the Community Award is being presented to an organization for their innovation, their commitment, and their contributions, which have greatly impacted the character of our community,” Chinworth said.


The North Manchester Historical Society was founded in 1972 with the purpose of collecting and preserving artifacts, documents and photographs which tell the story of North Manchester’s history.


The founding 12 members have grown to nearly 200 members today.

They meet monthly and publish a quarterly newsletter.


In 1994, they purchased the Thomas Marshall house and moved it to its current location on Market Street.


An affiliate of the Historical Society, the Historic Home Preservation group, restored the Rice House, the Grant Street blue/red brick house, and is attempting to restore the exterior of the Cigar Factory.


“The most visible activity of the Historical Society in our town is at the Center For History on Main Street, our historical museum,” Chinworth said.


Chinworth explained the first historical museum was in the upper floor of the town hall, then moved to the Town Life Center.


In 2001, the Oppenheim Department Store was purchased by the Historical Society. The large building provides approximately 11,000 square feet for the first floor exhibit space, and an additional 18,000 square feet for office space, a library, and work and storage areas. More than 19,000 items are part of a collection that began with 2,000 when the museum opened.


“Fascinating displays present memories and tell the history of North Manchester and nearby communities of the Eel River Valley,” Chinworth said.


The facility also serves as a center for educational programs, reunions, local family historical research and community events.


“The ever-changing window displays make our downtown alive and interesting,” Chinworth added.


One recent addition to the Center for History is the Barn Room. The Harold Miller family donated to the Historical Society a huge collection of farm equipment and other historical artifacts. They have been remodeling the large room in the back of the east side of the museum. Owen Summers, Bob Amiss, Robin Lahman and others have worked to make the room look like a barn, with Dave Hippensteel installing new electric wiring for the room.


In 2008, the North Manchester Historical Society won special recognition from America In Bloom for its part in historic preservation.


In 2009, the Indiana Historical Society announced that the North Manchester Historical Society won the Outstanding Historical Organization Award.


Historical Society vice-president Ferne Baldwin accepted the Spirit of the Community Award on behalf of the Historical Society.


“Soon after I came to North Manchester in 1952, I recognized that this was a very special town,” she said. 


She talked about the importance of historical preservation. “It is very easy for us to forget, in our busy lives, to preserve the history of our activities and our stories for our children and our grandchildren,” Baldwin said. “The purpose of the histocial society, when it comes down to the bare facts, is to preserve that history for all of us. Although we have been honored by many special recognitions this year, that purpose will continue, and we hope that you will contribute to that history by sharing with us your very special keepsakes, so we can keep those for all of us and for our children.”


Baldwin thanked all of the volunteers “who do an incredible amount of work”, and invited those in attendance to come see the Center For History when it re-opens on March 14.


Chinworth added, “We thank the North Manchester Historical Society for all the volunteer hours they give to restore and preserve our community’s story. Without your work and dedication, our stories would be gone forever.”


Historical Society board members are Bill Eberly-president, Ferne Baldwin, vice-president, Karl Merritt-secretary, Ralph Naragon-treasurer, Nancy Reed-Director of Center for History, Joyce Joy-Office Manager and Curator. Other members are Joe Vogel, Art Gilbert, Mary Chrastil, Darlene Bucher, John Knarr, Mike McKee, Tim Taylor, Bob Amiss, and Viv Simmons.


 Pictured in the center of the front page photo is Tom Hoback, Board of Trustees Chair of the Indiana Historical Society.  On the left is Nancy J. Reed and on the right Bill Eberly. The photo on page 3 was provided by Eric Christiansen. Pictured are, front, l-r, Ferne Baldwin, Debbie Chinworth, Mike McKee, Karl Merritt; back, Joyce Joy, Darlene Bucher, Nancy Reed. For more photos of these two award ceremonies, go to the NMHS web site--



By John Knarr


Our web site for the North Manchester Historical Society is a work in progress. New content is being added monthly. We now have our own domain name (URL), and you will want to visit often as we add and improve content!


Point your web browser to any one of the following web addresses:


When you arrive at the homepage, you will see the general topics in the top menu. As you select one of these topics, specific studies appear in the left-hand menu. Our stories, memories, pictures and histories are then just a mouse-click away. More than six hundred distinct files have been uploaded. These files include local historical articles, photographs, maps and past issues of the NMHS Newsletter.


You can find links to our  web site at other web sites, such as the Town of North Manchester, N.M. Chamber of Commerce, Wabash County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, N.M. Shepherd Center, Wabash County Genealogy InGen, N.M. Communinet “Bridge”, and others. By entering search query words or phrases, the Internet user can also find us through search engines such as Google, Bing, and Safari. Since April 2009, our web site has had more than 30,000 “hits”, requests or visits. Site statistics reveal the country origins of the visitors, search words or phrases used to find us, most popular pages, and much more. The webmaster can be reached at



Please notify the Center for History for Corrections or Additions.


Barbara Amiss

Bob & Cass Amiss

Jerry & Julia Badskey
David Bagwell
Ferne Baldwin
Steve Batzka
Deb Bauer
Bob Beachley

Suzanne Benton
Don Billmaier

Charles & Dagny Boebel
David Boyd
Max Boyer
Debra & Bradley Brauneller
R. Ned & Mary Jane Brooks
Andy Brown

Mary Lou Brown
Mike Brown (The Studio)
Tom & Eloise Brown

Barbara Bryant

Gordon & Darlene Bucher
Dennis & Rosemary Butler
Eunice Butterbaugh
Miriam Cable

Brad & Terri Camp
James & Debbie Chinworth
Mary Chrastil
Daniel & Marsha Croner
Murph Damron

Barry & Arlene Deardorff
Al & Joan Deeter

Julie Dyson
Diane Dewey-Norvell
William & Eloise Eberly
Terri Eckert
Richard Ford

J.P. Freeman
Larry Freels
Randy & Sharon Fruitt
Patricia Gaddis
Warren & Helen Garner
Art & Ellen Gilbert
J. Edward & Mildred Gilbert
Gilbert, Naragon, Terrill Inc.
Judith Glasgow
David & Jane Grandstaff
David Grant
John & Ann Hackett
Betty Hamlin

William Hankee, DDS
Ruth Hauser
Jeff Hire

Tim Hoffman
Melba Holmgren
Mozelle Humbert
Carol Jennings
Onita Johnson
Bob & Stephanie Jones

Grace Kester
John & Bea Knarr
Richard & Irene Knarr
Avonne Lee Knecht
Charles Koller
Robert & Sally Krouse
Robin & Jeanette Lahman
Richard A. Livingston
Wilson Lutz
Diane Maloy
Harold & Elizabeth Marks
Robert & Mary Martin
Dorotha & Joe Mason
Thomas & Suzanne McClure
Mike & Kelly McKee
Mike McLaughlin

Karl & Bonnie Merritt
Mark Metzger
Jim & Shirley Mishler
Earl & Phyllis Montel
Nancy Olinger Morris
Ralph & Becky Naragon
Bob Nelson

Emerson & Evelyn Niswander
Donald Olinger
Philip & Mary Orpurt
Dave Parker
Roger & Marcie Parker
Dorothy Parsons
Walter Penrod

Jeff Pyle
Carolyn Reahard
Mary Reahard

Russell Reahard
Nancy J. Reed
Mary Louise Reist

Jean Renschler
Todd & Linda Richards
Doug Rice
Ron Rice

David & Shirley Rogers
Thelma Rohrer & Jim Adams
Betty Roser
Dee & Mary Herring Royer
Esther Rupel

Theron Rupley
Jo Ann Schall
Al & Ruth Ann Schlitt
Scott Schmedel
Barb Shoemaker
Viv Simmons
Paul Sites
Ed & Jean Smith
Lee Smith
Conrad Snavely
DeWayne & Doris Snell
Eugene Snyder
Doris Spann
Todd Speicher

Anthony & Tracy Stewart
Donald & Jean Stone
Dave & Jo Switzer
Nancy Taylor

Tim & Jenny Taylor
Nancy Tiger
Larry Tracy
Ruth Tully
Howard & Mary Uhrig
Connie Vinton
Grace Voorheis
David & Becky Waas
Brian Wagner

Robert Weimer
Allan White
Dannie & Nancy Wible
Dorotha J. Williams
Robert & Soo Mi Young

HF Group
First Financial Bank
Allen County Public Library
Manchester College Library
Manchester Elem. School
Wabash Carnegie Library
Peru Public Library
Roann Public Library
Manchester Intermediate School
Manchester Junior-Senior H.S.
Manchester High School
N. Manchester Public Library
Wabash County Museum
N.M. Chamber of Commerce
Indiana Historical Society
Fulton Co. Historical Society
Warsaw Public Library
Whitley Co. Historical Society
Kosciusko Co. Historical Society
Miami County Museum
Huntington Public Library
S. Whitley Public Library
Columbia City Public Library

Kappa Kappa Kappa
Fruitt Basket Inn
Shepherd’s Chevrolet
Manchester Veterinary Clinic
Schutz Brothers
Wetzel Insurance Co.
Laketon Lions Club
Epsilon Sigma
Wabash Co. Convention VB
Naragon & Purdy
Ford Meter Box Foundation
Thank you for supporting us!

Excerpted from Glen A. Beery, AS I REMEMBER (1996)


…Late in the summer of 1943 my good friend Paul Neher told me his dad, Simon Neher, was thinking about renting or leasing his 80 acre farm and moving to town. Besides the crop land, there was a fifteen acre orchard with apple trees and a few cherry trees. In the ten years Paul and I had run around together before we were both married, I had been in the house and around the orchard many times. I still had a pretty strong desire to get back to “dirt” farming and feeding livestock, so I could put into practice the many things I had learned while operating a feed mill and elevator. The drawback was that I didn’t know the first thing about caring for an orchard. Mr. Neher assured me that he would be willing to teach me all the basic things about caring for an orchard. Purdue University, through the county extension office, was helpful whenever you ran into special problems. [Wife] Maurine wasn’t very much sold on moving out in the country. However, she agreed that if this was what I really wanted to do she would go along. We moved to the farm one mile east and one mile south of North Manchester in January 1944. The lease agreement stated that I was to furnish all the labor to do the farming and feeding the livestock.


… Some time late in the fall of 1952, Mr. Neher said he was thinking of selling the farm. None of his three sons was interested in buying it and I could have the first chance. He wanted to sell it on a contract. We agreed on a price of $300 per acre. I paid $1,000 down. The first two years I was to pay just the interest on the balance at 4 ½%. After that I was to pay $500, plus the interest every six months. The contract was to be binding on all the heirs. A few years later, after Mr. and Mrs. Neher had passed away, I didn’t want to be making payments to the four children who were heirs to the contract. I went to the bank and took out a first mortgage and paid them off. Once a friend asked, “Why did you want to buy a farm with an orchard on it?” I told him, “It is not like raising hogs or producing eggs, where if you have a good year everybody and his brother can be in the same business within six months. If I have a good year in apple sales, I know that all of my neighbors are not going to be raising apples the next year. Further more, when I sell most farm produce, I always ask the buyer how much he is paying for it today. When I sell apples, I set the price.”


One of the first things I did after buying the orchard was to cut down and make firewood out of about 100 trees that during the time I rented I learned didn’t produce and/or were varieties that didn’t sell. Neher had set the west 7 ½ acres in 1912 and later about 1929, he set the east 7 ½ acres.


Most of the trees that I cut out first were on the west side. It takes most trees 12-15 years to reach full production. With good care, a tree should last another 20 years. During the course of the next 45 years that I cared for the orchard, I replaced nearly all of the original trees.

In the southwest corner of the farm was a one-room brick school house, Walters School, built in 1887. It was used as a sales room and storage for apples. The Nehers had dug a basement under all of the building in 1932, and it made an excellent storage. All of the apples were sold retail at the orchard.


Producing apples is a pretty high risk business. Late spring freezes, long periods of rainy weather, plus all the diseases and insects that can attack the crop, are a constant worry during every growing season. Only twice in 45 years did I have a complete failure of the apple crop—in 1944 and 1961. In 1961, the trees bloomed and set on a full crop and had apples as big as your thumb. Then a hard freeze came on May 25 and wiped out every apple in the orchard. That was the latest a crop was damaged by a late freeze. Over the course of the years, we had varying degrees of loss from late spring freezes, from 10% to 60%. In years when the crop was less than normal, we would buy apples from Michigan and other orchards in the area. Cider was a big drawing card when selling direct from the orchard. We had to take our apples to a cider mill to get cider made. Over the years, we went to cider mills as far away as Rochester (24 miles), Athens (18 miles), Columbia City (25 miles), and Huntington (18 miles). In 1978, we bought our own cider press and saved a lot of man-hours from running to the mills. On the plus side, we could make cider often enough for it to always be fresh and sweet. We had one customer every fall who would order  52 ½ gallons to freeze so he could have a ½ gallon of fresh cider every week of the year. We had the reputation of having the best cider in the area.


Lots of stories are told about both sweet and hard cider. A lady customer said she would like to buy a jug of cider if she was sure there were no worms in it. I told her she didn’t have to worry about the worms in the cider because the cider press had a worm extractor on it. She bought some cider. Fresh, sweet cider for most people is a very good natural laxative. Hard cider or ‘apple jack’, if mode properly, is a very deceiving drink because it has a smooth taste and looks much like sweet cider. In the ‘good old days’, nearly all farms had a small orchard of 10-12 apple trees and a pear tree. You were not ready for winter and the next year’s canning season unless you put a barrel of cider in the cellar to ferment and produce vinegar to use in canning the harvest from the garden.


…One of the more noticeable changes in the 45 years of selling apples direct from the orchard was the public’s buying habits. In the 40s and 50s, it was not unusual for a family to come to the orchard about the same time we had finished picking and buy four or five bushels to take home for the winter. By the 80s, we were selling more apples by the peck and ½ peck than any other way. I think several things contributed to the change. More and more houses were centrally heated and had no good place to store apples. The younger families thought of apples just as an eat-out-of-hand fruit and never thought of making apple sauce, baking apples, making an apple pie, apple butter or apple salad. Most people today don’t realize that the apple is the most versatile fruit you can buy.

Editor’s Note--The CFC has a copy of Glen Beery’s book, and with family permission we have excerpted the above passages. Glen had also co-authored with Paul Neher the  article, “Orchard Has Long History” in the WABASH COUNTY HISTORY BICENTENNIAL EDITION 1976.  We have posted at the NMHS WEB SITE photographs and newspaper articles about the Beery orchard. The editor’s father recalls that when Glen drove the school bus he would occasionally reward rider’s good behavior by passing out apples--the ones who misbehaved would not get any!  We now can post to the web site other stories and memories which our readers wish to share.



The Center for History recently acquired a copy of a large scrapbook on the History of the Eel River Railroad in Wabash County. This railway line in 1872 ran between Logansport and Butler, passing through Ijamsville, North Manchester, and Liberty Mills. The railroad name changed over the years, and rail service was eventually terminated in 1976. Some of the operating companies were the Vandalia RR, Pennsylvania RR, and Penn Central Co. This Timetable for 1932 was found in the scrapbook along with several photographs and newspaper clippings. Be sure to join us for the program on North Manchester Railroads, to be presented May 10 by Bill Eberly.


1932 Timetable-Eel River Railroad