Volume XXX, No. 2, May 2013


 Karl & Bonnie MerrittFor thirteen years Karl and Bonnie Merritt  have led popular tours sponsored by the North Manchester Historical Society and Manchester Shepherd’s Center.  Some trips were day outings to destinations such as Amish Acres, Purdue Christmas Show, Shipshewana and Gene Stratton Porter’s home in Rome City, South Bend Studebaker Museum, Chicago (boat trip and Rockettes), Indianapolis (Art Museum, Crown Hill Cemetery).  The majority of the bus tours were three- or four-day trips, including visiting the Stratford Festival (Ontario), Mississippi River cruises, Branson (Missouri) shows, Greenbrier in West Virginia, Kohler and House on the Rock in Wisconsin, Baseball Hall of Fame in NY, Detroit’s Fox Theater and Ford Museum, Mackinac Island and Frankenmuth (Michigan), Lincoln Museum in Springfield IL,  St Louis (Arch, Cruise, Botanical Gardens, Budweiser brewery), Shaker Village KY, Cincinnati Reds baseball, Holmes County and Amish Country in eastern Ohio, Corydon-Nashville-French Lick and Spring Mill State Park IN.

 The most recent trip in May included Nashville TN and Asheville NC. Highlights of that bus tour were the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville Nightlife Dinner Theater, Country Music Hall of Fame,  Parthenon and Music Row in Nashville; boat cruise on Lake Lure (NC), Antique Music Box Tour, and a memorable day at the impressive Biltmore mansion and estate in NC. The travel groups were always introduced to delicious buffets, shopping opportunities, good fun and fellowship.  The tours were both educational and entertaining.

 The editor and his wife thoroughly enjoyed participating on three recent trips. It was relaxing to leave the driving to an experienced bus driver. Group size was about 50 persons each time. 

 Karl and Bonnie planned a total of 29 trips between 2001 and 2013. Ralph and Becky Naragon have the distinction of taking all the tours except one!

 The Merritts have announced that Bernie and Vicki Ferringer will be taking over the responsibility in planning future tours. Karl and Bonnie deserve KUDOS & HEARTFELT THANKS for all the hard work that has gone into developing this most appealing travel program!


by John Knarr

 In his massive 1882 History of Wabash County, author and editor T.B. Helm partly relied on the Wabash Co. Commissioner’s Record Books as a resource for rich historical detail. Since then, these commissioner records have only been used in a limited fashion in local research.  I was mistakenly informed that some of the books might not have survived a courthouse fire years ago. It was with relief, then, that I finally located a complete set of these large volumes with the aid of Jim Dils, albeit in scattered locations at the Wabash County Court House. Some of the books were discovered to be in storage in the attic of the Court House, while others that I was most interested in were found shelved in different offices. Dils has now collected , consolidated and shelved a complete run of records beginning in 1832.

 One can readily understand why these well-preserved, handwritten accounts were utilized by Helm when he wrote the 1882 History of Wabash County because there is a wealth of detailed information contained in the commissioner’s records. Of special interest, for our purposes, are the decisions and “orders” pertaining to various issues such as early road construction, the very beginnings of township organization and the electoral process, surveys, petitions, court cases, names of early inhabitants who were appointed or elected to office, taxation, merchant fees and licenses, and so much more.

 In this article a sampling will be offered of these early decisions and orders by the Wabash County Board of Commissioners affecting the North Manchester area. The original record books were read and referenced in this research. For the most part, the original spelling, syntax and grammar will be retained in the following extracts (in chronological order).

 March 1836 Term. Ordered by said Board that a new Township be and is hereby laid out of the North End of Lagro Township known by the name of Chester and designated by the following boundaries (to-wit)—Beginning at the North East corner of Wabash County thence West along Said County line Eight Miles thence South Eight Miles thence East Eight Miles thence North to the place of beginning. And that Said Board allows one Justice of the Peace to each of the Said new Township.

 Ordered by the Board that an Election be held at the House of Peter Ogan Chester Township on the first Monday April next for the purpose of Electing one Justice of the Peace and also the necessary officers for the organization of said Township and that John Ogan be and he is hereby appointed Inspector of Elections in Said Township until his successor is chosen and qualified.

 May Term 1837. Ordered by the Board that Ezekiel Cox of Wabash County be and he is hereby appointed School Commissioner in and for Said County until the first Monday of August next and until his successor is chosen and qualified and the said Ezekiel Cox appeared in person before the Honorable Board and presents to the Same the following Gentlemen as his Securities for his faithful performance in Said Office. To-wit: Daniel Jackson, Isaac Fowler, James W. Wilson, Elmer H. Cox, Jonathan R. Cox and Peter Ogan being Six in all as the Law directs which security was approved of in full by the Said Board.

 November Term 1838.  County Receipts. Peter Ogan pd. 1.50; Richard Helvey 1.50; Clark Williams 4.00; John Simonton 1.50; John Ogan 2.25; A.W. Willis 4.00; Augustus A. Peabody 7.75; George Cook 4.00.

 January Term 1839. County Receipts. Samuel McClure 2.25; Henry Strickler 2.25.

 September Term 1839. Grand Jurors (18 names), including Allen Halderman, John Abbott, Jacob Simonton, George Abbott…

 March Term 1840.  Grand Jurors (18 names), including Eli Harter, John Gamble, S.F. McClure… Petit Jurors (24 names) including George N. Neff, Daniel Sayre, Jacob Brower, Asa Beauchamp, John Paul, John Ogan, John Calhoun…John Shellenbarger, Surveyor of Wabash County. Locating commissioners (for roads): Mark Stratton, Gabriel Swihart, John Ullery.

 May Term 1840. Commissioners: Wm. T. Ross, M. Knoop, Ira Burr; William Steele, Clerk. Ordered by the Board. That John Comstock be allowed license to vend merchandise of all kinds for the time of one year from the date hereof and that the Clerk of this Board issue the Same on the said John Comstock presenting the County Treasurer receipt for the Sum of Five dollars.

 Ordered by the Board. That John Comstock of said County on his petition presents to this Board Signed by twenty four free holders of Chester Township which petition was approved by the Board and the said John Comstock presented to said Board Michael Knoop as his Security in this behalf in a Bond of Five Hundred dollars payable to Hugh Hanna Treasurer of Wabash County and his successors in Office which Bond is approved by the Board and on the Said John Comstock presenting the County Treasurers receipt for the Sum of Fifteen dollars the Clerk of this Board shall issue a license to the said Comstock.

 May Term 1840. Petit Jurors list for March Term 1841 included: Richard Helvey, John B. Lomax, James Logan, A.A. Peabody, Joseph McClure, Elijah Quick, Frederick Eby, Curtis H. Stone, Daniel Grant, Jacob Bryan, John Ogan, Jasper Enis, Jirah Barlow, James Cunningham, John Reed, Ezekiel Cox, James Grant, Allen Holderman, Richard Adams, John S. Williams, Joshua Simpson, Warren Cheeves, Thompson Nelson, Michael English.

 September Term 1840. Ordered That Peter Ogan of said County be and he is hereby appointed Supervisor in Lagro Township for district No. – to serve to the first Monday of April next and until his successor is chosen and qualified and that the sheriff of said County notify him accordingly.

 September Term 1840. Ordered by the Board That there be a Bounty of Five dollars on each and every half scalp taken from a full grown Wolf that may be killed in the County of Wabash to be paid out of the County Treasury of Said County on the said parties or party killing such full grown Wolf or Wolves, appearing before any Justice of the Peace in Said County and producing a full scalp with both ears thereon and making his affidavit before said Justice that the scalp produced was taken off of a full grown Wolf killed or caught and killed in the Said County of Wabash from and after this date and such affidavit being certified to by such Justice to the Said County board and produced at either Term of this Board by the person or persons entitled thereto or any proper agent holding said voucher then and on such evidence the Board will order the Clerk thereof to issue a county order for the above Sum.

 June Term 1841. List of freeholders whose names to be written on separate pieces of paper and put in box for election of 18 Grand Jurors and 15 Petit Jurors. Jesse Jenks, Allen Halderman, John Ogan, John Comstock, William Shafer, Michael Knoop, John Ullery, Asa Beauchamp, Daniel Grant, Augustus A. Peabody, Stephen Jenks, Mahlon C. Frame, John Harter, Smith Grant, William Frame, Israel Harter, Perry D. Parrott, Daniel Sayre, Abram Switzer, Jonathan R. Cox, Jacob Cripe, Jacob Ruse, David Grimes, Daniel Swank, Henry Strickler, Christian Harter, Ira Burr, George Neff, Samuel Bussard, James Antrim, Joseph Becker.

 December Term 1843. Ordered by the Board That the place of holding elections in Chester Township be changed from Manchester to Liberty Mills and that the Auditor notify the inspector of elections thereof instantly.

 June Term 1844. Ordered by the Board That the Auditor make out a suitable number of Poll Books containing one column headed Names of Voters and an additional column headed number of Voters and also an additional column headed Number of Votes and also forms of Election returns with the proper captions and form of certificates for each inspector of Elections in the General Township and that the Sheriff of Said County deliver the said notices to the inspectors aforesaid ten days prior to the time of holding Said Elections.

 June Term 1849. To the Honorable Board of Commissioners of Wabash County We the Undersigned petitioners do pray that body would grant the location of a county road commencing at the Lagro and Manchester State road at the South West corner of John Ogan’s land and running east on the section line south of John Ogan’s and Bryant Fanning’s land to intersect the Huntington road on Samuel Walter’s land we would further represent that there is great need of a road on the above described location and that we think it would be of public utility. Signed Gabriel Swihart & others.

…It was therefore ordered by the Board that M.C. Frame, John Aughinbaugh & Henry Strickler be and they are hereby appointed viewers on the above described route for a road and further that the above viewers report their proceedings at the next regular Term of this Board and that the Sheriff notify the above named viewers of their appointment forthwith.

 June Term 1849. Ordered by the Board That a road tax of ten cents on the one hundred dollars of Real and personal property be charged for Road purposes for the year 1849.

 December Term 1851. Payment of $16.00 to D.M. Marshall For medical services rendered Sarah A. Osborn. [Editor: This was the earliest reference found in these county books for Dr. Daniel Marshall.]

June Term 1852. Ordered by the Board that John Comstock, William Thorn & Thomas Comstock be allowed one hundred & thirty dollars, for cash & time expended in securing and bringing to Justice 7 men charged with felony—five of whom have been convicted.

 December Term 1852 (Dec. 7). Ordered by the Board that John Aughinbaugh be allowed a License to retail spirituous liquors in North Manchester for the Term of one year from this date and that the Auditor issue said license upon the filing of Bond and presentation of the Treasurers receipt for the sum of Ten dollars—all of which is now done.

 June Term 1853. Asa Beauchamp paid $114.75 for assessing Chester Township.

 December Term 1853 (Dec. 6). Wm. E. Willis prosecuted for Grand Larceny. $50 pd to John Comstock for expenses & time.

 September Term 1854. Ordered by the Board that Mark Stratton be appointed a viewer on the following route; viz:— Commencing at the crossing of the North Manchester road of the section line between sections twenty and twenty one, the said sections—being in Wabash and Huntington counties, running north on the section and county line, or as near thereto as found to be practicable between the lands belonging to Rudolph Howenstine, Lewis Dailey, Peter Musley, Anthony Bollinger, Alex McCutcheon, James Points, John F. Cook and Daniel Westaver on the East, and Mrs. Hess, Thomas Gilmore, Conaroe (?) and ___ Sellers on the West, terminating at the Huntington & Liberty Mills plank road.

 December Term 1854. Mark Stratton paid $21 “for services as overseer of the poor.”

 June Term 1855. $38.50 paid to A.A. Peabody “For Services as overseer & money advanced for paupers.”

 September Term 1855. Comes now John Comstock and produces his certificate of election for the office of commissioner with oath endorsed thereon—all of which is now accepted and he takes his seat as such. The Board: John Whenitt, Isaac Wamsley, John Comstock. Each were allowed the sum of fifteen dollars for five days as members of board of county commissioners.


T.B. Helm,
History of Wabash County (1882), p. 105; p. 154.

 The wolves being very numerous and making such terrible noises of evenings and at night, as if they were not satisfied with the new settlement, the Grants concluded to build a wolf-trap, which they did on the creek about one hundred yards west of the “Boundary Line,” and during the winter took in a few of them. When at Mr. Grant’s I visited the trap to see its workings. [circa 1840, Ashland or LaFontaine vicinity]...During the early years of transition from the primitive condition of Wabash County to one of maturity, so to speak, the country was infested with numerous packs of wolves, from the presence of which the early settlers were subjected to frequent annoyances from these pests by the inroads made upon small stock--sheep, calves, pigs, etc.--which suffered greatly. Men were seldom molested--never save when the wolves were driven to desperation by hunger--yet night was oftentimes made hideous by their sacriligious howlings. As a means of lessening their number and extending greater protection to the domestic animals liable to be destroyed by them, the law provided for the payment of premiums for wolf scalps. At the March term, 1837, of the County Commissioners’ Court, “Jonas Carter appeared in open court and presented his certificate from the Clerk of said county, sworn to as the law directs, that he had killed three wolves within four miles of the seat of justice of said county; whereupon the said board allowed him, the said Carter, the sum of $6, being $2 on each wolf scalp, as aforesaid.” Such cases were numerous.

Clarkson Weesner, History of Wabash Co. (1914) II, pp. 609-611
Note: Mark Stratton was father of Gene Stratton-Porter

 “When I came to the region, Eel River Valley was almost an utter wilderness. I traveled through portions of it east of Manchester for fourteen miles without seeing a solitary cabin or a single settler, the wild and trackless forest being wholly unbroken. Turkeys and deer and black and gray wolves and bears were very plenty. Rattlesnakes had been exceedingly abundant in dens among the rocks in the bluffs of the rivers and creeks. One den was near Rattlesnake Springs, half a mile above the town of La Gro, in the bluff on the north side of the river and the canal. There was one also on the Salimony River, near Dora, in South La Gro. Michael Minnick, the first settler (perhaps), when he first drove into that neighborhood with his wife and children and wagons, containing his household goods, with also some other men in company, undertook to fix a camp for themselves, but they found the rattlesnakes so numerous that they moved forward again; but, trying once more to make a camping place, they still found the rattlesnakes in possession, and this time they began the warfare of human against reptile life, and resolutely killed eighteen; sleeping finally in their wagons, instead of making, as had been their custom, a resting place upon the surface of Mother Earth. West of La Gro, where the canal bends round the point of rocks, John Russell, who was and is one of the earliest pioneers of La Gro Township, and who worked for years upon the canal during its construction, says that in blasting the bluff there during the winter they came upon an immense den of rattlesnakes, and that they loaded them, stiffened and benumbed with the severe cold as they then were, with the rocks and dirt, and dumped them ‘by cart-loads’ into the embankment of the canal.” (In Pennsylvania, at one time, where was an entrance and a place of exit for an incredible number of these fearful and venomous monsters, the people built a huge fence around the mouth of the den, thus enabling the settlers both to confine and to destroy the hideous creatures. See also the account of the “rattlesnakes’ den,” in the bluffs of Rush Creek, near New Holland, in South La Gro.) Mr. Stratton says further: “I never was a hunter; I never shot at a deer but once in my life, killing that, however, instantly. I once chased a young fawn for a long time, catching it at last when nearly worried down. I came upon the little creature suddenly, when it sprang nimbly and started to run, and I after it. It ran in circles, and I followed in pursuit, when at last it sprang against a log and stumbled and fell, and before the frightened little thing could recover itself, I seized it and held the creature fast.

 BEAR KILLING. “One morning early, I left my cabin north of Manchester, in company with Joseph Noftsker and John Shellenbarger, my wife’s oldest brother, to show them the country.

We passed on through the forest, some three and one-half miles, to the place where now stands the Butterbaugh Schoolhouse, then however, all heavy woods being on the Wabash and Kosciusko county line. While standing and viewing the forest, we heard a rustling, and looking in that direction saw four bears, an old she bear and three cubs, or young bears (as large as middling-sized dogs); passing along in a course which would bring them within a short distance of where we were standing, but southward from the spot at which we were, they came on until they were perhaps fifty yards away; we had no gun, and might well enough have let the group pass unmolested, on the principle of ‘Laissez faire,’ ‘you let us alone, we let you alone.’ But not so; we sprang toward the bears, yelling with all our might, suddenly the old mother bear turned her face toward us and squatting upon her haunches and throwing up her fore paws, [continued on page 14]                [continued from page 11] she sat thus, with her mouth open; as much as to say, ‘Come on if you dare.’ Her cubs meanwhile ‘treed’ instanter, all climbing the same tree; this done, the old bear trotted off as fast as she could waddle. Well, we wished to kill the bears, so, leaving the other two men to watch the game, I went, mostly ‘on the run,’ to Samuel Bussard’s, who lived (and still lives) about a mile distant, for a gun and for more help. I found Mr. Bussard, as also Samuel Hammond, a neighbor, there, the latter on horseback, and they were greatly elated by my story. Mr. B. snatched his gun, ready loaded, and his ammunition. Mr. H. giving me his horse because I had become exhausted by running, started with his neighbor, and together they hurried, running like scampering school boys, skipping and bounding over logs as they went, eager to reach the spot. The two who had been watching the bears said that the old one had come back once to find and rescue her cubs, but had been frightened off again. Our plan was to shoot and cripple one of the young fellows in the tree, and having brought him down to pinch and tease him to make him squeal, and thus cause the mother to come to his relief, so as to get her, too, within range and reach of the gun. That part of the plan however, did not succeed. Mr. Bussard took the first shot, because he was the owner of the gun; Noftsker shot the second time, because he wished to be able to tell his neighbors when he got back to Ohio that he killed a bear; and Hammond drew trigger the third and last time, and every shot killed a bear. Mr. Buzzard’s shot killed one of the cubs dead—dead—dead. It did not even struggle nor move a particle after it struck the ground. Noftzker, taking the rifle, drew up, and he, too, made a sure shot, and his game fell lifeless to the earth. Hammond took a slow and cautious aim, and drawing trigger, down came the third also, and he, too, was dead. None of them made any noise, and we saw no more of the old bear. The hides of the young cubs were quickly stripped from the dead bodies, and the carcasses were left to rot upon the ground, or for the poor old mother to drag away, and we went on and finished looking at the land.

 When I came first from Ohio to look for land in Indiana in the winter of 1838 (January), I traveled during the trip on foot 700 miles; starting from Wayne County, Ohio, north of Wooster, I came on through Central and Northwestern Ohio to Perrysburg, on the Maumee River, above Toledo, Ohio; thence to Fort Wayne and Huntington and westward, selecting finally the land which I afterward entered. Returning to Fort Wayne, I passed on to St. Mary’s and onward through Western Ohio to Twin Creek, below Dayton; thence to Lewisburg and so to Piqua and Wapakoneta and Fort Findlay, and thence home to Wayne County, Ohio. The jaunt took something more than a month, being performed on foot of course, since (as the Irishman said) that was decidedly the ‘natest and chapest’ way of getting about.”

 Editor: The reader can find more biographical information for Mark Stratton and his brother-in-law John Shellenbarger at the NMHS


(as of May 1, 2013)


Bob and Cass Amiss

Judy Boyer

Dennis and Rosemary Butler

Brad and Terri Camp

Jim and Debbie Chinworth

Mary Chrastil

Terri Eckert Dance Studio

Joel and Beverly Eikenberry

David Friermood

Helen Anne Garber

Jim and Evelyn Garman

Art and Ellen Gilbert

William Hankee

John and Bea Knarr

Jeanette Lahman

Orville and Iona Lauver

Dan and Susan Manwaring

Ralph and Becky Naragon

Naragon and Purdy, Inc., CPAs

Newmarket Grocery Store

Dorothy Parsons

Mary Reahard

Nancy Sensibaugh

Viv Simmons

Dave and Jo Young Switzer

Connie Vinton

Wetzel Insurance Agency

Roland Young and Mona Harley



Drs. James and Barbara Damron

David and Shirley Rogers

Mary Uhrig

Manchester Veterinary Clinic




Jim Adams and Thelma Rohrer

Gladys Airgood

Barb Amiss

Ruthann Angle

David Bagwell

Ferne Baldwin

Steve Batzka

Bob Beachley

Jan Bellinger

Suzanne Benton

Charles and Dagny Boebel

Robert and Martha Bohn

Mary Louise Briner-Reist

R. Ned and Mary Jane Brooks

Mary Lou Brown

Gordon and Darlene Bucher

Kenneth Burch

Scott Carlin - Main View Restaurant

Larry and Mary Ann Cottrell

Dan and Marsha Croner

Murph Damron

Lois Davis

Barry and Arlene Deardorff

Allen and Joan Deeter

Diane Dewey-Norvell

Eloise Eberly

Pat Egolf

Bernie Farringer

Ron and Harriet Finney

J. P. and Michelle Freeman

Charles and Kathy French

Patricia Gaddis

Warren and Helen Garner

Shirley Glade

Judy Glasgow

Betty Hamlin

Ruth Hauser

Jeff and Kathy Hawkins

Stewart and Ruth Hawley

Michael and Julia Hayes

Terry and Karen Hewitt

Tim and Roberta Hoffman

Linda Hyden

Pete and Susan Jones

Robert and Stephanie Jones

Dale and Joyce Joy

Grace Kester

Charles and Susie Klingler

Avonne Knecht

Laketon Lions Club

Margaret Lambert

Carl and Lois Lemna

Richard Livingston

Lindy and Norma Lybarger

Robert and Mary Martin

Wilbur McFadden

Mike McLaughlin

Karl and Bonnie Dee Merritt

Patricia Metzger

Carol Miller

Ed and Martha Miller

Larry and Norma Milligan

Jim and Shirley Mishler

Earl and Phyllis Montel

Nancy Morris

Harold Mowan

Bob Nelson

Don Olinger

Phil and Mary Orpurt

Walter and Mary Jenet Penrod

Phyllis Pettit

Sheryl Poorman

Bruce and Marilyn Pottenger

Roger and Kathy Presl

Dave Randall, Werking Studio

Carolyn Reahard

Russell Reahard

Carolyn Reed

Linda Reed

Nancy Reed

Eric and Jennifer Reichenbach

Steve Reiff

Jean Renschler

Todd and Linda Richards

Betty Roser

Bonnie and Gwyna Ross

Dee Royer

JoAnn Schall

Al and Ruth Ann Schlitt

Jack and Nancy Schuler

Rita Schroll

Barbara Shoemaker

Bob Slack

Valynnda Slack

Lorraine Slifer

Owen and Martha Sommers

Lois Snyder

Doris Spann

Dana and Barbara Speicher

Bill and Becky Steele

James and Barbara Stewart

Jean Stone

Larry and Mary Ann Swihart

Roger and Marcheta Tate

Tim and Jenny Taylor

Nancy Tiger

Susan Trowbridge

Carolyn Underwood

Doretta Urschel

Grace Voorheis

David and Becky Waas

Helga Walsh

Bob Weimer

Sally Welborn

Dorothy Weldy

Eddie and Janice Wood

Frances Wright

Joe and Mary Vogel



First Financial Bank

Richard Ford

Larry Freels

David and Jane Grandstaff

HF Group

Jeff Hire

Carol Jennings

Harold and Elizabeth Marks

Mike and Kelly McKee

Evelyn Niswander

Roger and Marcie Parker

Scott Schmedel

Shepherd Chevrolet

Paul Sites

Strauss, Inc.

Wabash Foundry

Allan White

Dannie and Nancy Wible