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 NORTH MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
 North Manchester, Indiana

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Source: News-Journal, January 4, 1940

Do We Appreciate Our Wide Streets?
...Peter Ogan, when he founded the town over a hundred years ago, certainly could not foresee the day when automobiles would throng the streets and highways. Land was plentiful then, and it is said he employed the same surveyor that had laid out the site of Rochester and this surveyor believed in wide streets. At any rate Rochester is the only city in Northern Indiana that has a street as wide as North Manchester. Ogan also provided 100 foot widths for Mill, Wayne and Fourth streets. Fourth street was then designated as Church street, and it was Ogan's hope to have the churches of the town locate on this street. Later generations allowed the streets to be narrowed and possibly were not as wise in their judgment as was Ogan when he platted the town.



Source: Presentation to NMHS, May 13, 1985; CFH Files

HOW THE STREETS WERE NAMED

By Eleanor Malott

My speech doesn’t have a title unless we name it “From Kech to Kohser” or “The Street Where You Live” or “Cecil, Charlie, and Other Good Guys” or whatever.

To begin, let’s have a little quiz.  You won’t be graded on this, but if you get them all right, you should probably be giving this speech instead of me.

1.       What’s the longest street in North Manchester?

2.       Name a street that was named for a current resident of North Manchester.

3.       What is the shortest street?

4.       What street is in three sections?

5.       What is the narrowest street?

The answers to these questions and other trivia is what I’d like to share with you.  In the paper the item of Kech Street was mentioned.  It seems that in most cases when an individual or company has a subdivision to add to the town, they present it with the lots indicated and the streets named.  But when Herb Underwood presented the layout of the Jamestown Apartments, he had neglected to name the street included.  So he promptly made up the Kech from the initials of his family.  K for Kelli, E for Eric, C for Carolyn, and H for Herb.

As I said, street names are included in the plats for a section, so the first plat of North Manchester shows the street names Main, Wayne, Sycamore, Mill, Walnut, Market, Front, Second, Third, Church, South, Short, and Broadway.  Mr. Ogan, who visualized this town of North Manchester and hired the surveyor to lay it out, is responsible for the 100 ft. wide streets we still enjoy—Main, Wayne, Mill, and Market.  Church Street (later called Fourth Street) was also supposed to be 100 ft. wide, but before it was really established as a street, squatters built dwellings on the north side of the street west of Market and on the south side east of Market and thus created the jog in the street that we still have at the corner of Fourth and Market.  You may not recognize the names of the streets Short and Broadway.  Short Street went from one side of the loop in the river to the other, paralleling the mill race.  Obviously Mill Street was named for the two mills located at the south end of the street.  Broadway was the name given to the south end of Mill Street.  South Street is the first street south of Main Street.  This is the first of the present three sections of South Street.

Wayne Street was evidently named for Anthony Wayne who was a prominent national figure of the time.  Other streets named for similar leaders are Washington, Grant, Colfax (for Schuyler Colfax of South Bend) and Harrison.  You’ve never heard of Harrison Street!  It was the name given to Bond Street north of Ninth Street.  I’m not sure when it was dropped and the whole street became Bond Street.  Speaking of Bond Street, did you ever wonder why it wasn’t called Stock Street?  Well, it might have been called Lavinia Lane because it was evidently named for Lavinia Bond who added the L. H. Bond addition.

Tree names were given to several streets in the original plat as I mentioned, but that practice was continued only with Maple, Elm, and Thorn just shortly after the original streets.  The practice has evidently resumed since a couple of our newest streets are Willow Way, Oak Drive, and Spruce Drive in the Timbercrest Addition.  Of course we have Orchard Drive and Laurel Circle north and south—Laurel Circles are in the Clear Creek Estates.

Prominent local people have been honored by having their names given to streets—Ron Court, Cecil Street, Charlie Street, Weimer Street, Heeter Street, Ruse Street, Baker Street, Merkle Street, Damron Drive, Frantz Drive, Glen Street, Kohser Avenue, Snyder Street, Syler Lane, and Edsall Street.  Of these Baker Street, Charlie Street, and Ron Court are in Baker’s Addition.  Baker Street is obvious and Ron Court was named for Paul’s son, Ron.  But Charlie Street was named for Charlie Hacker who had worked with Baker for several years.

Cecil and Glen Streets were evidently named for Warvel’s sons because they are in the Riverside section which was called Warvel’s Park Addition.  Evidently Mr. Warvel had great dreams for this area because he also named a street Parke Avenue.  This street off south Market led to the river which should have become a lovely Riverside park.  Instead it became the town dump.

Weimer Street was named for its proximity to the Weimer Airport which was located in the area where Snyder’s Market is now.  Of course Weimers’ Canning Factory was located on Heeter Street named for Abner Heeter in 1884.  Ruse Street was named for Nicholas Ruse in 1889 and Kohser “Street for Eldon Kohser (not Kosher.)  Merkle, Damron, Frantz, Snyder, and Syler are all rather modern names and these people are currently known in these parts. Now Edsall, and this is probably the most interesting thing I’ve discovered in researching for this talk.  The change of the name of Edsall Street to Strauss-Provimi Road was what sparked my interest in this whole business of street names.  I noticed that in the proceedings as recorded  in our local paper, a public hearing was held and since there were no objections the name was duly changed from Edsall Street to Strauss-Provimi Road.  I got to thinking about whether Edsall was just a typographical spelling error somewhere along the way, whether someone in the ‘50’s had named the street for that short-lived Ford car, Edsel, and everyone I asked just assumed it was had named the street for the car.  Jim Taylor even told me he thought there had been an Edsel garage in that area.  However I went to the public library, as everyone should do when seeking information.  I first checked the spelling of the Edsel car and found as I had remembered it E D S E L.  Then I found in the 1884 Wabash County History that a Simon Edsall (E D S A LL) was a petit juror in Wabash County in 1835—that William Edsall owned the log house used as the first school in Wabash 1836-1837.  William also paid $50 for “erection of public buildings” in Wabash.  I didn’t establish their connection with North Manchester.  Maybe the Historical Society slipped up in allowing this name change.  Of course the name Strauss goes back a long way to the start of our community, so we probably should have a street named in their honor.

It’s interesting though that other early settlers do not have streets named for them—no Ogan Street, no Harter Boulevard, no Fannin Avenue, no Strickler or Strayer, or Tannery Turnpike, etc.  The one street really telling early history, Pony Creek Road, commemorates a rather blotch on town history.  The renegades who corralled Indian ponies and stole them, conducted their activity in the Pony Creek area.

We’ve talked about South Street being in three sections representing the southern-most boundary of the town at various times.  There’s a West Street which was platted as Kessler Street.  There’s East Street which is obviously on the east side, but there is no North Street.

It’s interesting to read about the early roads in this area.  It’s hard to visualize that the whole area was covered with dense forests so that any new settlers had to chop their way to the new homesite.  These trails then grew closed again if not used often.  It was a great advancement when plank roads were introduced.  An important one of these was called the Mail Trace.  It started from Lagro and the canal and headed toward Liberty Mills.  For some reason it turned toward Manchester, so Judge Comstock who owned Liberty Mills, disowned Lagro and said he wouldn’t do any more business with Lagro, but would take all his trade to Huntington.  These plank roads were toll roads and travelers had to stop at intervals at toll gates to pay the toll in order to travel.  The charge was probably 1 cent per mile.

Manchester’s more recent streets have rather common though pleasant names—Colonial Lane, Crestview Drive, Hillcrest Drive, Meadowdale Drive, Meadow Drive, Sunset Drive, etc.  There’s a Wabash Street and a Wabash Road.  There’s First Street which is perpendicular to Second Street.

Let’s see, have we answered the quiz questions?  No!  The longest street is Ninth Street.  The shortest street is Eighth Street.  The narrowest street is Half Street.  I still have a few questions I couldn’t find answers for.  One is Beckley Street.  I couldn’t find anyone by that name in our county or town history.  There was a Beckel who lived southwest of North Manchester.  I did find in the World Book that there’s a town in West Virginia named Beckley and I wonder whether some homesick W. Virginian named the street for that reason. 

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE AND BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON NORMAN BECKLEY..

The sources of my information were the Plat Book in Town Hall, Nancy Reed, Dr. L. Z. Bunker, Jim Taylor, The Wabash County History of 1884, and Tales of the Old Days by W. E. Billings            

Presented to the N. Manchester Historical Society May 13, 1985