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 North Manchester, Indiana

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North Manchester

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Source: The News-Journal, December 31, 1936


North Manchester will be officially 100 years old January 4. That is, the survey of the original plat of the town was completed then, although it was not recorded at Wabash until February 13, 1838. In commemoration of the event, there will be a meeting of the Wabash Historical Society Tuesday evening at the Central school building. All who are interested are invited to this meeting, and will have opportunity to tell anything they may know of the early history of the town.

W.E. Billings, former publisher of The News-Journal, in his "Tales of Old Days," told the history of the founding of the town. He had obtained this information partly from records, but more by word of mouth from people who had known Ogan, or had heard of him directly from their parents. According to his information Ogan came to North Manchester in 1834. He was a road contractor and had helped build the road between Anderson and Wabash in 1826 or earlier. But it was not until 1834 that Ogan built his cabin on the bank of Eel River and shortly after visualized the surrounding ground as a place for a town site. The next year, October 12, 1835, he bought the land in section 5 lying south of the alley between Second and Third streets and east of Market street. But that was not enough land and the next day he bought of the government another eighty acres directly north of his first purchase.

Then came the plan for the town. He employed Surveyor Tomlinson, the same surveyor who surveyed and platted Rochester. It is not known whether the idea was original with Ogan or whether it originated with Tomlinson, but five streets, one hundred feet wide, were provided in the original plat. They are Main, market, Fourth, or Church Street as it was then termed Mill and Wayne Streets. If Ogan originally had the idea, he was far ahead of his time, for he could not visualized the days of automobiles and crowded traffic conditions. But at any rate North Manchester people can well praise the foresight it took to provide these wide streets, even though we have allowed property owners to encroach and narrow some of the streets.

The first lot was sold before the survey was completed or the plat recorded. October 22, 1836, Ogan sold to Joseph Harter the quarter block from the alley by the Trust Company Building, west to Market street, the land on which The News-Journal building stands, being a part of the two lots sold. Other lots were sold, as the settlers came into the township, and soon North Manchester was vying with Judge Comstock, founder and for many years virtual owner of Liberty Mills, for commercial supremacy of the north part of the county.

Originally and for a number of years after the town was called Manchester. There was also a little village in Southern Indiana near Aurora called Manchester and the post office department declined to handle mail for two Manchesters in the same state. To avoid confusion the local town took the name of North Manchester. Most of the old deeds read "In the town of Manchester, now called North Manchester."

According to tradition Ogan did not stay many years in the town he founded, but in the true pioneer spirit sold his holdings as people crowded into this locality, and went on westward. Even the old times of North Manchester lost track of him, and there is no reliable information as to the history of his doings after he left here.