NEWSLETTER OF THE NORTH MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
Volume XXX, No. 2, May 2013
KARL & BONNIE MERRITT—THANKS FOR THE TRAVEL MEMORIES!
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!
OUR EARLY HISTORY IN THE
COUNTY COMMISSIONER’S RECORDS
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
County Receipts. Samuel McClure 2.25; Henry Strickler 2.25.
Grand Jurors (18 names), including Allen Halderman, John Abbott, Jacob Simonton,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Asa Beauchamp paid $114.75 for assessing Chester Township.
Term 1853 (Dec. 6).
Wm. E. Willis prosecuted for Grand Larceny. $50 pd to John Comstock for expenses
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.
Mark Stratton paid $21 “for services as overseer of the poor.”
$38.50 paid to A.A. Peabody “For Services as overseer & money advanced for
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.
WOLF TRAPS & WOLF SCALP BOUNTIES
History of Wabash County
(1882), p. 105; p. 154.
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
STRATTON & THE WILDS OF N. MANCHESTER
Clarkson Weesner, History of Wabash Co. (1914) II, pp. 609-611
Note: Mark Stratton was father of Gene Stratton-Porter
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.
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.
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
The reader can find more biographical information for Mark Stratton and his
brother-in-law John Shellenbarger at the NMHS website--nmanchesterhistory.org
MEMBERS FOR 2013
(as of May 1, 2013)
Bob and Cass Amiss
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, Inc., CPAs
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