Source: NMHS Newsletter, August 1984 and November 1984
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,
Observations on North Manchester by L. W. Schultz (Continued from previous issue)
Our town has good schools. From the 1839 school taught by Thomas Keeley to the present large school system the growth has been steady. The first school was a one-room affair located about one block north of the present post office site. Today we have three elementary schools (Thomas Marshall, Maple Park, and Chester), a Junior High School and a large High School. The first high school was in 1875 on the site of the Central School building.
Products produced here by individuals and industries, during the years have been: flour, mixed feeds, lumber, furniture (church and school), shingles, staves, tool handles, cast iron, DeWitt automobiles in 1903, cigars, water heaters, chicken brooders, seed sowers, wagons, buggies, screen doors, harrows, ladders, show cases, pumps, skirts, Balsamic Oil, leather, screens and grills, vacuum bait, electrical fixtures and abrasives, rebound books, bonnets, lye, brake linings, foot stools, dairy products, baked goods, guns, windmills, boat hitches, anchor controls, cedar chests, bath tubs, boiler cleaners, fireless cookers, pens, pen holders, and canned goods.
Newspapers in North Manchester have been The Advertiser, 1865. It became the Union Banner in 1867 and later The Exchange in 1868. These lasted only short periods. The Republican ran from 1868-1882. The Journal began in 1873 and merged in 1921 with the News which began in 1904 and today is the News-Journal celebrating its centennial in 1973.
Some noted people who have lived here: Thomas R. Marshall, 1854-1925, was born here. He was governor of Indiana 1909-1913 and Vice President of the United States 1913-1921; Lloyd C. Douglas was pastor of the Lutheran Church for a short time; J. Raymond Schutz, lecturer; Otho Winger was President of Manchester College 1911-1941; Vernon F. Schwalm was President of Manchester College 1941-1956; Andrew W. Cordier was Asst. Exec. Sec. of the United Nations from 1945 for 20 years; Thomas Peabody, W. E. Billings Editor of the News Journal; Grace Von Studiford, opera singer; and Frazier Hunt, writer; just to name a few.
Some places to visit here are Heckman Bindery, Peabody Retirement Community, Timbercrest Retirement Home, Indiana Lawrence Bank, Manchester College Library, Union Building and Petersime Chapel, the Public Library, the Thomas R. Marshall birthplace and other old homes. A publication “OLD HOUSES OF NORTH MANCHESTER” by Dr. L. Z. Bunker is available. The oldest business houses of today are Strauss and Oppenheim. Both began in 1875.