William Frederick Howat.

A standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) online

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Foster, Dr. Pettibone, Luman A. Fowler, William Pettiboue, John Wood
of Deep River, Bartlett Woods, Jonas Rhodes, Samuel Sigler, David K.
Pettibone and Dr. Wood of Lowell, were there. Judge Clark was chosen
chairman and Wellington Clark and Bartlett Woods, secretaries of the
meeting, which was quite enthusiastic. Speeches were made and a com-
mittee appointed who planned a series of meetings throughout Lake

"The following is copied from one of the original notices, now in my
possession, and shows something of the feeling of the men who first
started the free soil movement in Lake County : —

' ' ' Free Soil and Freedom — The undersigned will address the citizens
of West Creek on the issue of Free Soil and Equal Rights, against
Slavery and Aristocracy, at the Methodist meeting house, on Thursday,
the 5th of October next ; of Cedar Creek, at the house of Leonard String-
ham, on Friday, the 6th ; of Eagle Creek, at the place of holding elections,
on Saturday, the 7th ; of Winfield Township, on Friday, the 13th, at the
place of holding elections; and of Ross Township, at the house of S. B.
Straight, in Centerville, on Saturday, the 14th — at each place at 1 o'clock.
Now come. Come one and all, and see what a horrible demon Free Soil
principle is. You shall not be injured. Come out and learn whether it
be McDonaldism or the Republicanism of 1776.

" 'Sept. 20, 1848.

'Bartlett Woods,
'A. McDonald.'

' ' The meetings were held and were well attended, and at the Presi-
dential election in November the free soil vote showed plainly that the
issue had been met and that a new era had begun in our national politics.

"From that time on, Lake County's free soil idea grew in strength.
It was the germ from which the republican party sprung. Its large
republican vote attests this. Its vote for Fremont, for Lincoln and for
Grant and Colfax, and for Colfax all through his Congressional career,
gained for it the honor of being one of the banner republican counties
of the State.

' ' The first meeting in the Old Log Court House left its mark and was
not held in vain."

Vol. 1—5


Besides becoming a leader in political affairs, Mr. Woods was promi-
nent as a farmer, assisting in a notable measure in the organization and
forwarding of the Grange movement and in the work of farmers' insti-
tutes. Therefore it was that his death, in May, 1903, removed a large
figure from the activities of Lake County citizens covering three-score
years and several generations. He was a notable human link between
the times of the pioneers and those of modern spirit and achievement.

Historic Relics of Lake County Pioneers

On September 3 and 4, 1884, the Old Settlers' Association of the
county held a semi-centennial celebration of the settlement of that part
of Northwestern Indiana. It was well attended and drew forth many
interesting papers from the enthusiastic pioneers, who also presented
for inspection a number of historic relics. Some of these related closely
to Lake County; others were of more general interest, but all were
mementoes of Lake County pioneers and widely illustrative of old times
and individual tastes, as well as of family histories.

As observed by T. H. Ball, who was the most generous donor: "The
observant reader will notice that these articles are here called antiquities
which have been in existence in their present form fifty years or more
(written in 1884) ; as fifty years is called the limit of settlement here.
One object in presenting these, and especially in presenting some of the
smaller relics, was to show to the children and young people how easily
articles, apparently perishable, could be kept in a state of good preserva-
tion for at least fifty years. Another object was to show to the present
generation some of the customs, styles and proofs of cultivation of the
former generations who have passed away. The cultivation of some love
and even veneration for the past many consider desirable for every truly
refined and noble nature. ' '

Condensed Accoi'nt of the Semi-Centennial

A condensed account of this gathering, so full of interest to the older
generations of Lake County, was written for the publishers of this work
a decade ago and is reproduced: "A semi-centennial celebration of the
beginning of permanent settlement of the county was held on the Fair
Ground, September 3 and 4, 1884. Considerable preparation was made
for this event through the Old Settlers' Association, and by a large num-
ber of citizens much interest was taken in preparing for the proceedings
and in carrying them out. A large general committee of arrangements
was appointed, thirty subjects named and assigned to writers for his-


torical papers, and six special committees appointed. Of those who were
on these different committees eleven are not now living. An oration was
delivered by previous appointment, which by the special influence of the
chairman of the committee, George Willey, Esq., was assigned to T. H.
Ball, who occupied one hour of time in its delivery. An address was
made to the members of the Association of Pioneers anad Old Settlers by
Congressman T. J. Wood, and a semi-centennial poem w^as read com-
prising twenty-five stanzas of eight lines each. Seventy-one relics and
antiquities of various kinds, historic and prehistoric, were presented for
inspection. Not numbered among these were twelve old or curious coins,
making the full number eighty-three. Most of these rare, curious, valu-
able relics and heirlooms are supposed to be still in the county, and some
of them can probably be secured for the Association when a suitable
room is found in which they can be preserved.

' ' Besides the exercises at the Fair Ground on the two days of Wednes-
day and Thursday, literary exercises were held on Wednesday evening
at 'Hoffman's Opera House in Crown Point, the Crown Point Band fur-
nishing some excellent music ; AVillie Cole and Miss Allie Cole giving a
flute and piano duet ; singing also by a quartette, Benton Wood, Cassius
Griffin, Miss Ella Warner and Miss Georgie E. Ball — Mrs. Jennie Young,
pianist. On the first day of the celebration, the opening hymn was 'My
Country 'Tis of Thee ' ; on the second day, the new hymn was sung called
' Our Broad Land. '

What of the 1934 Gathering?

"Further features of this celebration cannot here be given, but this
writer hopes that thirty years from now — in 1934 — a still larger gather-
ing will be found upon the Lake County Fair Ground, where a book
now in the recorder's office is then to be opened — a book presented to
the Association by Hon. Joseph A. Little and which contains very many
signatures of persons present at Lake County's semi-centennial in 1884.
A special committee, to be appointed thirty years hence, is to open that
(at present) sealed book. To be called for and to be opened at the same
time by that same committee, there is now sealed up in the recorder's
office quite a large map of Lake County. On this map are the names of
many children, some of whom, as men and women, it is expected will be
present then. ' '

Mrs. S. J. Monteith's Memories

Mrs. S. J. Monteith, granddaughter of Samuel Turner (who married
Jane Dinwiddle, of the famous clan), was of the younger generation


(she was born in 1847) who founded the Turner homestead of Eagle
Creek, and thus describes their first cabin home and those early times:
' ' Our cabin stood on a little hill surrounded by giant oaks and hickories,
a short distance to the west from the creek. It was dark and cheerless
enough during the day, for the only light must come through the chimney,
as window glass was not to be obtained. At night the glowing flames,
leaping and crackling in the broad fireplace, transformed the place
entirely, and around our humble hearthstone many a happy hour was
spent, talking of the past and planning for the future.

A Lonesome Pioneer Sister

"Before the first glimmer of dawn the boys must be away to the
swamp ; and who can tell how long the hours and days were to the sister
at home alone, trying to make things comfortable for them when they
should return at night, or how often she wended her way to an oak
standing alone, to peer out over the snowy wastes and into the gathering
darkness to watch for their coming? Our neighbors were the Sarjeants,
Dilleys, George Smith, A. Goodrich, M. Pearce, E. Coplin, the Bryants
and a few others; and after a while we had a doctor within nine miles,
which was a great boon ; for in those early years sickness, especially ague
and fevers, prevailed to such an extent that often whole families were
prostrated, and scarcely enough well people would be found in the neigh-
borhood to wait on the sick ones.

Honey Exchanged for Apples

' ' In the spring the father and mother brought apple seeds with them,
which we planted, and if you will visit the farm now you may still eat
the fruit from some of those seedlings. We were the first in the neigh-
borhood to have apples. They revived our Pennsylvania taste for apple
butter; but it needed sweetening, and fortunately Aunt Polly Dilley
could give us honey in exchange for apples, so that both families were
supplied with the luxury. Once a traveler from Alabama stayed with
us over night and gave us some peach pits, which were planted, and in
three or four years we were abundantly supplied mth peaches which
we have never seen equaled in this part of the country ; but our winters
were too severe for the trees and they did not endure, many of them.
When we settled there, we would not have taken as a gift what is now
the Niles farm ; for it was impossible to cross it without miring down in
the quicksand.


An Old Letter of 1843

"The mail service in those days was very limited and envelopes
entirely unknown ; Init occasionally a letter written on a sheet of blue
legal cap folded so that the paper served as an envelope and securely
sealed with wax, would fiud its way from Pennsylvania or Ohio, often
by the hand of a traveler and after spending weeks on the way. We have
one such in the house now bearing date of 1843. in which occurs a sen-
tence something like this: 'The Washington movement has reached here,
and total abstinence is being agitated. I trust this reform will go on
and prepare the way for others until human slavery shall be abolished.'
The writer did not live to see his hope fulfilled twenty years later.

The Immortal "Thanatopsis"

' ' Fifty years have seen many changes. Here and there stands a tree
that looked down on our gi'andfathei*s in middle life and their sons in
boyhood days; but they are fast giving way to younger ones that were
only saplings then. And the weather-beaten stones and grass-grown
mounds in yonder cemetery would tell you where rest our forefathers.
So we must follow them.

■' 'All that breathe will share their destiny.

So live that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan that moves
To the pale realms of shade, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death.
Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon ; but sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him and lies down to pleasant dreams.' "

Aunt Susan Turner

In a note to Mrs. Monteith's paper. T. II. Ball adds: "The 'sister
at home' mentioned in the foregoing paper was Miss Susan Turner, a
sister of Judge Turner of Crown Point, who has remained through the
changes of these, our first fifty years, on the early family homestead,
until this Novemlier (1884) — sometimes almost alone; at other times,
entertaining the group of happy children that would go down from Crown
Point to visit Aunt Susan. The writer of this note has met her in her


Eagle Creek home, and he was delighted with the rural and sylvan
beauty there; the running stream near by, the grove of majestic oaks,
the singing birds of summer time, the quiet and repose of nature there,
all adding to the associations and pleasantness of the place. Many a
beautiful spot for a little home, where the glad voices of childhood would
be heard, and manhood and age would find comfort and rest, the pioneers
of our country selected when they reared their first log cabins.

"The cemetery mentioned is near Hebron, about one mile from the
county line."

Recollections of James H. Luther

James H. Luther, who has already been mentioned as one of the first
to travel through Lake County and write an account of his experiences,
missed the usual Beach Route, in the spring of 1837, and goes on to say :
' ' This mistaking my road made extra travel for me, via Liverpool, where
George Earle was then in glory as to business (for business there was
lively) ; thence I took in what is now Old Thorntown and Rexford's
(now Blue Island) to Chicago.

The Old Stage Routes

"On mj^ return the same spring, I took stage from Chicago to my
nearest point home, which was nearest the Old Maids' tavern, about ten
miles west from Michigan City; and its route was along the lake banks
near where Cottage Grove Avenue now runs to the Calumet, which we
ferried, thence to the Calumet again where Hammond now is and where
there is now a fine drawbridge. On the north side of the river there was
a stage tavern. i\Ir. Hohman afterward bought the property and lived
upon it till his decease. M. M. Towle (and perhaps others) erected here
a slaughter house. Other business interests followed, and finally Ham-
mond was laid out. Business increased and additions to the town were
made until, at this writing, it is a corporate city whose voters almost
decide the political balance in the county election.

"Thence the road ran on between the Grand and Little Calumet
rivers, via Baillytown, M^here there was a stage tavern kept by one Culver;
thence northeasterly to INIichigan City. Besides the taverns mentioned
on the north side of the Little Calumet, there was another, kept I think
by a Mr. Gibson; which was near what is now Gibson Station on the
Michigan Central Railroad, north of Hessville. Friend Bartlett Woods
says that about seven miles west of Liverpool there was a big log-house
tavern kept by Jack Cady, and about four miles further west was a stage-


house built by one of the Gibsons, which was afterward purchased by
Allen H. Brass and was well and widely known as Brass's tavern.

"From Mr. Brass I get the followmg: He settled in what is now
North Township in 1845 and says the first (I think it must have been
the second) wagon road from Michigan City and Valparaiso to Chicago
was via the Old Plaids' tavern, Long Bridge, Liverpool, crossing at
Brass's, then at Osterhout's and Dalton's, and thence to the city. He
also says there was a road north of that, which was doubtless the one
described. Of the citizens living north, between the Little Calumet and
the lake, he could only recollect the widow Gibson, David Gibson, the
Moss family and a Mr. Carger. He further states that the Tuttles of
Chicago ran the stage line on the North Road, and that Clem. Brown,
lately deceased in Crown Point, once lived on this route and was general
manager, if not a company proprietor.

First of the Calumet Industrial Region

"In the years from 1855 to 1860, George W. Clark of Chicago pur-
chased several thousand acres of land in the northwestern part of the
county, southeasterly from the State line near South Chicago, at $1.25
per acre. It was swamp land with alternate slough and sand ridge that
previously had been considered entirely worthless; but within the last
three years (written in 1884) Mr. Forsyth, Mr. Clark's brother-in-law
and heir by his wife, sold eight thousand acres of it for an even $1,000,-
000. There are at this time several bodies of that land, which are held
at from ten to one hundred thousand dollars or more per acre. The
principal causes of this great appreciation in the prices are the railroads
passing through it, consisting of the ^Michigan Southern, Michigan
Central, Baltimore & Ohio, Nickel Plate, Chicago & Atlantic and the
Louisville, New Albany & Chicago ; also, its close proximity to the greatest
inland city in the United States, if not in America, Chicago ; and to the
head of Lake Michigan, which affords one harbor, and prospectively
others, by and through which the immense shipping of all the lakes may
take refuge inland for many miles along the Grand Calumet River,
whose waters are deep enough to float any vessel that traverses the lakes
and rivers, from the Atlantic Ocean to Chicago.

"I will now close this writing with some statistics which cost me two
days' labor, and which, I think, will prove the most interesting of any-
thing before written, because it will show the growth of that part of our


First County Elections

"Book L, of the Records oi' the Commissioners, has a record of the
organization of the county, from which I get the following facts: On
March 28, 1837, an election was held to elect a county clerk, recorder,
two associate judges and three commissioners. There were three candi-
dates for clerk, of whom Solon Robinson received 38 votes, D. Y. Bond
21 votes, and Luman A. Fowler 17. Total 76 votes. For recorder, Wil-
liam A. W. Holton received 50 votes and J. V. Johns 22. For associate
judges, William B. Crooks received 50 votes, G. W. Bryant 28, William
Clark 50 and Horace Taylor 1. For county commissioners, Amsi L. Ball
received 78 votes, and S. P. Stringham and Thomas Wiles 59 votes each.
Lots were cast in the case of Messrs. Stringham and Wiles and the latter
was chosen for the two years' term. Mr. Ball got the three years' term
and Mr. Stringham the one-year term.

North Townshu^ Bounded

"At that time the county was in three townships — North, Center and
South. North was bounded by order of the Board, in Record Book I,
April 5, 1837, as follows: District No. 1 to consist of all the territory
lying north of the center of Congressional Township 35, in Ranges 7, 8,
9 and 10, all north of Township 34, which includes half of Ross, all of
Hobart, half of St. Johns and Wintield.

Early Figures for North and Hob art Townships

' ' In all of this territory — North Township — the tax duplicate of 1839
shows that there were 109 names and 66 polls, and the total tax for that
year was $763.26. Between this and the making of the duplicate for
1850, other townships had been set off; and in my statements for 1850,
1870 and 1880 I get from the then townships of North and Hobart the
following: North and Hobart were taxed separately after this. On the
duplicate record for 1850 North had 75 names, 21 polls, $996.20 tax;
Hobart, 95 names, 43 polls and $530.58 tax. Totals, 170 names, 64 polls
and $1,526.78 tax. The duplicate of North for 1870 shows there were
553 names and 199 polls taxed. The total tax charged $5,722.09. Hobart
had 453 names and 152 polls, and a tax of $5,529.61. Totals of both —
names 1,006, polls 351 and tax $11,251.70. In 1880 North had names
619, polls 319, tax $13,878.38 ; Hobart, names 631, polls 222, tax $4,586.60.
Total of both— 1,250 names, polls 541, tax $18,464.98.

"There wore, of course, more or less non-resident persons' names on


the duplicate; but the foregoing will show the growth of each of said
towaiships by the names taxed and of the prosperity of each, and the
whole, from one decade to the next."

Six Early Years Covered by T. II. Hall

Even at the risk of a few repetitions, we now present a portion of an
article prepared by T. II. Ball covering various important matters con-
cerning the first six years of the county 's life. ' ' Into the wilds of Lake
County," he says, "there came in the fall of 1834, as pioneer settlers,
Solon Robinson with his wife and two young children. They settled on
the spot around which is now the town of Crown Point.

"Then there was no political division known as Lake County; the
land in this region had two years before been purchased by the United
States from the Pottawatomie Indians, many of whom still remained on
their old hunting and trapping grounds, friendly and quiet, but Indians
nevertheless, having learned from the French missionaries and traders
some virtues and some vices connected with European civilization. The
land had a few months before been divided into townships and sections
by United States surveyors, but none was owned or could as yet be pur-
chased by private individuals. Fort Dearborn, or Chicago, thirty-six
miles west of north on Lake Michigan, a militaiy outpost and Indian
trading place, was beginning to become a village on the outskirts of
white settlement. And here, amid the surroundings of only trapper,
fur trader, Indian explorer, and vast solitudes, remaining apparently
as the Mound Builders had left them, except as trodden by wild l^easts,
by Indians and by Frenchmen, stretching westward to the ^Mississippi
and to the Rocky Mountains, this family sought a new home.

Discovery of Robinson's Prairie

"It was the last day of October, a month that usually around the
Great Lakes is filled with glorious autumnal beauty, when they reached
— having traveled from Jennings County, Indiana, says the family tradi-
tion, with an ox team and wagon— the open level, covered with waving
grass and bright with many a flower that grows in no tree's shadow —
knowTi for many years after as Robinson's Prairie, a region in marked
contrast with the heavy growth of beech, maple, walnut, elm, hickory
and oak through which for so many weary days they had journeyed.
About noon of a clear delightful day they entered this prairie region,
about sunset they camped for the night: the next day the camping spot
was selected for a home.


The First Colony at Crown Point

"A cabin was soon erected and pioneer life began. In midwinter,
from the same neighborhood in Jennings County, three other families
came and the little hamlet, almost excluded from the outside world, was
formed. The cabins of these families were on sections 5 and 8, and the
names of each individual (as probably the names of the inhabitants of
Crown Point will never again be named one by one) are here given:

"1. The Robinson family: Solon Robinson, Mrs. Maria Robinson,
Solon Oscar, about four years old, Josephine, a babe. Young men:
Luman A. Fowler, from the East, and Jerome Curtis and J. B. Curtis,
two estimable young men from Jennings County, both of whom returned
in a few months to their former home, where the latter was still living
in 1876.

2. The Clark family: William Clark, Mrs. Ann Clark; children:
Thomas, about twenty years of age. Miss IMargaret, then a young lady,
Alexander, Mary M., eight years of age, and John F., a boy of six years.

"3. The Holton family: Mrs. Harriet Helton, a widow; a son,
William A. W. Holton ; a daughter. Miss Harriet Holton. A married son,
J. W. Holton, with children — Ellen Maria, about four years old, and

' ' It thus appears that three men and four married women, five young
men and two young ladies, four boys and three girls, twenty-one in all,
were members of the little community when, in the latter part of the
winter of 1835, where the woodland and the prairie meet, hamlet life
commenced. Unlike the early settlement in 1607 at Jamestown, we find
here manhood and womanhood, young men and maidens, and little chil-
dren. The grain fields, the mills, workshops, the stores, the neighboring
settlers, the supplies, were, for the most part, from forty to eighty miles
away — in Laporte County, at Wilmington and on the Wabash ; and pro-
curing the needed supplies, encounters with Indians and prowling wolves,
and hunting wild animals, gave rise to many interesting incidents and
adventures, the details of which must be sought for elsewhere or left to
the imagination of the reader.

Turning of the First Furrow

"The winter passed, and the ever beautiful spring called the settlers
to agricultural pursuits. A large breaking plow, with a wooden mold-
board, had been provided ; L. A. Fowler was a carpenter and J. B. Curtis,
a shoemaker, but blacksmith there was none nearer than Morgan Prairie
in Porter County, where the irons were carried for sharpening. Four


yoke of oxen were attached to the plow, and the women and children
came out from the cabins to see the first furrow turned in the green

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 44)