William Frederick Howat.

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

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watching the children through that long night and relieved at last of
the presence of the Red Man by Doctor Palmer, who came along in the
morning of the next day while making his professional rounds. The
girls and mothers of that day had fortitude and courage.

Mrs. Ben.jamin McCarty

A few more names in this grand list — ^Irs. ]\IeCarty, wife of Judge
Benjamin McCarty, the mother of six sons and two daughters, was not
only an early settler in Lake County, but in Porter and Laporte, hav-
ing a home in the latter county from 1832 to 1834. She was not young
when coming into Northern Lake County, having grown-up sons and
daughters— intelligent and cultivated all ; and at Creston, in a little priv-
ate cemetery, her dust reposes.

Mrs. Belshaw^ and ]Mrs. Hackley

Mrs. Belshaw, an English Baptist, mother of sons and daughters,
also came from Laporte County in middle age to become an early resi-
dent of Lake. Hers was for a time a bright home. But death came and
her daughter, eighteen years of age, was taken from earth, and she, with
many of the large family, found another home in distant Oregon where
one of her sons, who had married Candace McCarty, became a noted


wheat raiser. Other members of the Belshaw family yet remain in Lake
County and her name belongs of right among our worthy mothers, grand-
mothers and great-grandmothers.

In a different part of the county, in the woodland north of Hanover
Center, where was a great resort for deer, was the first home of another
worthy woman, a Presbyterian, Mrs. Hackley. She was the mother of
Mrs. W. A. Clark and ]\Irs. Pettibone, of CrowTi Point, and with the
former, Mr. and Mrs. Hackley finally made their home.

Other names are: Mrs. Robbins, of Brunswick and Lowell, both of
whose sons fell as members of the Union army ; Mrs. Dudley Merrill, of
Merrillville ; Mrs. Krost, of Crown Point, the mother of four sons and
two daughters; Mrs. Sohl, an early resident in the old North Township
before Hammond was; Mrs. Payne, Mrs. Foley, Mrs. Stringham, the
earliest residents of Center Prairie, who did not remain long, but who
helped along civilization before their husbands moved on ; Mrs. Jones, a
later resident than they, mother of Perry Jones, born in October, 1804,
and who lived in the county to the end of her life of nearly ninety-
six years.

Mrs. Mary Hill, mother of Doctor Hill, of Creston, and of Mrs. Henry
Surprise, a motherly woman of rare patience and untiring love, lived
to complete eighty-four years.

Mrs. Underwood was the mother of five daughters, and of several
sons. She died many years ago at the home of her daughter, the wife
of Doctor Palmer, being over ninety yeai's of age.

"Aunt Susan'' Turner

The next life to be noted at some length is that of another very
motherly woman, although never a mother in fact — "Aunt Susan,"
Susan Patterson Turner, who was born in Pennsylvania, February 27,
1813. As the oldest child and the only daughter of Samuel Turner of
Eagle Creek, she was left in charge of the household through the winter
of 1838, while her father and mother returned to Laporte County to
find a more comfortable winter abode. She and her brothers passed
safely and well through the privations of that season, and when her
aged mother died in 1871 the care of the household devolved fully upon
her. To her brothers' children, who delighted to visit the old home-
stead, she' was always "Aunt Susan," and as the years passed and her
motherly qualities continued to be widely appreciated a large community
came to apply that name to her with affection and honor. She died on
July 24, 1899.


Mrs. J. HiGGiNs

Mrs. Higgiiis, who came into Lake County as Diantha Tremper in
1844, was born near Niagara Falls in 1824. She became well acquainted
with the families of the early settlers in both Lake and Porter counties.
In 1847 she was married to Dr. J. Higgins, who in 1859 settled as a
physician at Crown Point. In the earlier years of her residence at that
point she was active in many circles. She trained carefully her only
child, Mrs. Youche, as well as her grandson, but in later years impaired
health kept her more closely at home. As a Christian woman her exam-
ples and influence were for good on those around her. She died in 1895.

^Mothers of Large Families

Among the mothers of large Lake County families may be placed,
first, the name of Mrs. Flint, of Southeast Grove. Among the first set-
tlers of that beautiful gi-ove were the members of this noted Methodist
family. One daughter was the first wife of James H. Luther, one be-
came the wife of Rev. D. Crumpacker, and one, the eighth child, Olive
L., was the wife of Rev. Robert Hyde. There were in all fifteen children,
and Mrs. Hyde enjoyed the distinction of having seven brothers and
sisters older, and seven younger than herself. Mrs. Hyde died in Chicago
September 3, 1901, about seventy-five years of age.

As the second among these prolific mothers may be placed the name
of Mrs. Scritchfield, of Creston, the mother of, thirteen children, many
grandchildren and great-grandchildren still living in the county.

The third of these mothers was Mrs. Julius Demmon, in girlhood
Nancy Wilcox, member of a pioneer family ; married in 1850 and became
the mother of six sons and six daughters; in less than fifty years had
sixty-one grandchildren living in Lake County.

Like the Patriarchal Times

The reader may have noticed that many of the earlier mothers had
from six to eight or ten children ; and it was pleasant indeed to find in
those cabin homes wide-awake boys and cheerful, lively girls. Each of
those large homes was a little world in itself. Home then was more like
the patriarchal times than now. Some believe that it was richer, purer,
better than now.


^Irs. Samuel Turner

A place must be found iu this roll of honor for the name of Mrs.
Samuel Turner of Eagle Creek, who was Jane Dinwiddie, born January
19, 1783, a woman of Scotch-Irish blood and of Scotch Presbyterian
principde ; who was married to Samuel Turner at Gettysburg, Pennsyl-
vania, in February, 1810, and with him came to a choice location on Eagle
Creek in 1838. She became a permanent resident in 1839, when fifty-six
years of age. Not many now live who knew her in the home circle, but
her likeness in the "Dinwiddie Clan Records" shows her to have been
an estimable woman, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in
Iowa and Indiana show that, through her, they have inherited the blessing
of having been ''well born," a privilege to which it has been said all
children have a right.

The very close observer may notice that the first woman whose name
is on this list was born January 15, 1783, and that the last one was born
January 19, 1783 — both born in the year that gave peace after the
American Revolution. They were our oldest pioneers. For the most part
the women, as well as the men, who came to share the privations here
and lay the foundations were rather young, or in the prime of life.

Mothers that Were ^Iotiiers

It is claimed as a saying of Napoleon Bonaparte that what France
most needed was mothers. Mothers that were mothers had homes in
Lake County two generations ago. And the names of at least some of
them have been placed upon these pages.

Of our little army of noble pioneer women, probably three or four
hundred in number, there are many living descendants in the county
to carry out in the life of this generation the rich results of their influ-
ence and their virtues.



First Election of County Officers— First Commissioners' Meeting
— The Rout op the Timber Thieves — Divided into Three Town-
ships — Temporary Courthouse Built — A ''Prison" Fitted Up —
Old Court Room of Historic Memories — Jail Becomes a Temper-
ance Hall — Crown Point Wins County Seat Fight — Benjamin
McCarty — Pioneer Promoters of Crown Point — Cre.\.tion of the
Present Townships — Other County Buildings — Agitation for
Better Courthouse — The Courthouse of 1880 — The Care op the
County Poor — Courthouse Remodeled and Enlarged — Judicial
AND Official Accommodations at Hammond — Late Attempts to
Remove County Seat — Rather a Discouraging Decade — Miscel-
laneous Figures for 1847 — Prosperous Era, 1850-60 — Another
Decade op "Hard Times" — A Great Railroad Period — Religious
Statistics^Large Land Owners — Comparative Population in
1910, 1900 AND 1890 — North Township, Center of Population —
Cities in the Calumet Region — The Finances of Lake County
— Value of Real Estate and Personal Property — Taxable Capac-
ity — The Roads of Lake County — Bonded Indebtedness — Finan-
CLiL Status of Different Roads (by Townships).

The county now known as Lake was erected out of the counties of
Porter and New^ton on the 28th of January, 1836, and by Legislative Act
of January 18, 1837, it was declared to be an independent political body
on and after February 16th of the latter year.

First Election of County Officers

On ]\Iarch 8, 1837, Henry Wells was commissioned sheriff, and an
election for county officers was held on the 28th of that month. As
illustrating the mail facilities of those days it is on record that a special
messenger, John Russell, was sent to Indianapolis, to obtain the appoint-
ment of a sheriff and authority to hold an election. He made the trip
on foot and outstripped the mail.



The election of March 28th, 1837, was held at the houses of Samuel
D. Bryant (E. AY. Bryant, inspector), A. L. Ball (W. S. Thornburg, in-
spector) and Russell Eddy (William Clark, inspector). The highest
number of votes cast for any one candidate (as elsewhere stated by
James H. Luther), was 78, and the following w^ere elected: AYilliam
Clark and William B. Crooks, associate judges; Amsi Ball, Stephen P.
Stringham and Thomas Wiles, county commissioners; W. A. W. Holton,
recorder; Solon Robinson, clerk, and John Russell, assessor.

First Commissioners' Meeting

The board of commissioners held their first meeting on the 5th of
April, 1837. They adopted a county seal. They appointed J. W. Holton
county treasurer and fixed the amount of his bond at $2,000. The
commissioners also named IMilo Robinson trustee of the Seminary Fund,
with bond at $200, and agent of the Three Per Cent Fund, fixing that
bond at $3,000. Further, the board instructed the sheriff to prevent
any person from taking pine tim1)er from the public or school lands of
the county, directing him to bring such offenders to justice.

Tpie Rout of the TniBER Thieves

It was found much easier for the commissioners to give these instruc-
tions than for the sheriff to carry them out. A case in point. When the
young Chicago was beginning to grow and pine timber was needed, a
report reached the county officers that men were stealing valuable trees
from the northern sand hills. A posse was summoned and an independ-
ent military company was taken into the service. The party took dinner
at Liverpool and proceeded, it is said, witli drum and fife rending the
air, to the place where the havoc was said to be progressing among the
lake-shore pines. But the trespassers had disappeared ; the pine was
w^ell on its way to Chicago; and it is further reported that the county
commissioners finally paid all the bills, including the damage to the
timber done by the trespassers and the organization of the impressive,
but too loud Posse Comitatus.

Divided into Three Townships

At the first meeting of the county commissioners noted, the county
w^as also divided into North. Center and South townships, which ex-
tended across its territory from east to west. Later the following justices
of the peace were elected: For North. Peyton Russell; Center, Horace


Taylor, Cedar Lake, and Milo Robinson, Crown Point; South Town-
ship, E. W. Bryant. At the August election of 1837 Luman A. Fowler
was chosen sheriff and Robert Wilkinson, probate judge.

In the summer of 1837 Solon Robinson erected a log house on the
southwest corner of the square, which various old settlers, from a com-
parison of memories, have concluded was about thirty-five feet from east
to west and twenty feet from n^rth to south. During the October after
its completion, the first Circuit Court of the county was held therein by
Judge Sample and Associate Judge Clark.

Temporary Courthouse Built

In accordance with an act of the State Legislature and through the
action of the board of county commissioners, this crude structure was
made the temporary courthouse of the county, in May, 1838. About
the time that dignity was added to it. a second story was also super-

A ''Prison" Fitted Up

In November of 1838 the county commissioners allowed $64 to the
sheriff' for "fitting up the lower room of the courthouse for a prison."
Thus was justice early established in Lake County.

The entrance to the upper, or court room, was l)y a flight of stairs
on the north side of the building. The seat for the judge, which was
also occupied as a platform and pulpit on frequent occasions, was in
the west end of the room. The same piece of carpenter work served
for several years as "rostrum," "platform," "benches," and "pulpit"
for the earlier citizens of the county.

Old Court Room of Historic Memories

"Tliere were some good charges delivered to juries and some import-
ant civil and criminal cases tried ; there, some excellent sermons were
preached by ministers of fervent piety, of earnestness and eloquence ;
there, lectures and addresses were given to interested and appreciative
audiences; there, with no mere common ability and success, vocal music
was taught; there, pictured representations were given of the evils of
intemperance and many a name was signed to a total abstinence pledge
within those walls ; and there, some of those whose names may not soon
l>e forgotten in the county made their 'maiden' speeches and stepped
for tlie first time upon the platform as advocates of reform."


In that room were organized the first library association of the towTi
and county, as well as the pioneer literary society. Occupied for more
than ten years for such varied purposes, when Cro^^^l Point was the
liveliest center of everything worthwhile in the county, it is safe to say
that this old audience room in the courthouse stood for more than any
other locality in Lake County.

Jail Becomes a Temperance Hall

The cost of the original courthouse was probably $500. The logs
were finally taken down and built into two barns and at length became
fire wood. Besides that part fitted up as a '"prison," on the ground
floor, there was an east room used as an office, and additions were made
to the west end for other office rooms. AV. A. Clark related that the
citizens of Crown Point, when the jail was considered no longer useful,
made a raid upon the "prison," tore out the fixtures and trappings with
no little difficulty and transformed the quarters designed for criminals
into a temperance hall. No public authority interfered; consequently
the action seemed to have the tacit approval of the powers that w^ere.
This was probably in 1849, and two years later the historic log court-
house had ceased to exist.

Crown Point Wins County Seat Fight

In the meantime. Lake Court House, which had become the county
seat against the vain efforts of its several competitors, had been named
Crown Point. The other events which had happened, as having a special
bearing on the official affairs of Lake County, are thus summarized by
our invaluable deceased friend, T. H. Ball, in his "Northwestern In-
diana:" "In 1839 commissioners appointed by the Legislature, as was
customary, located the county seat at Liverpool, on Deep River, in the
northwestern part of the county, on Section 21, Township 36, Range 8,
about three miles from the county line and four from Lake ]\Iichigan.
Dr. Calvin Lilley, on the northeast bank of Red Cedar Lake, and Solon
Robinson at his village, named at first Lake Court House, had both been
applicants, along with George Earle, of Liverpool, for the location. There
was so much dissatisfaction among the settlers at the idea of having
their county seat in a corner of the county that a new location was

"In the meantime Dr. Lilley died, and his place came into the hands
of Judge Benjamin McCarty, who had been .successful in giving a county
seat location to Porter County and was now, with his large family a


resident in Lake. He laid off town lots, called his home town West Point,
and was against Solon Robinson as a competitor for the new location.
But he was not now in the center of the new county and Solon Robinson
was; so the commissioners, Jesse Tomlinson and Edward Moore, of
Marion County, Henry Barclay, of Pulaski, Joshua Lindsey, of White,
and Daniel Doale, of Carroll County, determined that this time the
location should be in the center. They therefore located the county
seat at Lake Court House, which soon after took the name of Crown

Benjamin McCarty

Benjamin ]\IcCarty, or Judge McCarty as he was popularly known,
was a natural politician of the early period. He was "acting sheriff'^
when Laporte County was organized in 1832, and later was elected its
probate judge. Then, within a few years, he got into Porter County
politics, bought a quarter section near its geographical center and induced
the county legislators to fix the county seat on his land. But soon the
judge sighed for other counties to manipulate and, while the location of
Lake County's seat of justice hung in the balance between Liverpool and
Crown Point, he bought the property of Dr. Calvin Lilley on the east
side of Red Cedar Lake. This consisted of land, a tavern and a store.
Upon that site he laid off the Town of West Point, and at once entered into
the county seat race. But as AVest Point was not in the center of the
county, Judge McCarty 's second town failed, as we have seen.

Pioneer Promoters of Crown Point

As inducements to locate the county seat at Crown Point Solon Rob-
inson and Judge Clark donated a large public square, and gave an acre
of ground besides, for a courthouse and other public buildings ; also an
acre for school purposes. Russell Eddy, who became a prominent resident
in 1838, donated ten acres of land, and J. W. Holton fifteen. Other dona-
tions, some in money and some in work, were also made. George Earle,.
the county agent, and the two proprietors of the towTi, conducted the
first auction sale of lots on November 19, 1840 ; after which the county
seat was considered to be permanently located at a promising town.

Creation of the Present Townships

On May 9, 1839, the commissioners made the first division of the
three original townships, by creating from South Township those of
West Creek. Cedar Creek and Eagle Creek.


In 1843 Winfield Township was set off from the original Center and
named after Gen. Winfield Scott.

On June S, 1848, the commissioners took otf a large strip from the
north part of Center Township and organized St. John and Ross town-
ships. The latter was named to honor the first of Lake County's farmer
settlers, William Eoss, and the former is supposed to commemorate John
Hack, the first German settler. It might have been stretching a point
to call him a saint, but he was, from all accounts, a good, sturdy, honest
German citizen — which is sufficient for the average man and woman in
this world.

On June 8, 1853, Hanover was taken from wliat was left of Center
and erected into a separate township, which left the present Center

The original North Township of the county was divided by the
commissioners into North and Hobart townships September 5, 1849.
The boundaries of this Hobart Township were slightly changed Decem-
ber 6, 1853, but its northern part did not even then extend beyond the
Little Calumet River. On :March 9, 1883, its territory was again changed,
sections 1 and 2, township 35, being detached from Ross Township, and
its west line, running on the west side of section 2, was extended up to
Lake INIichigan. its east boundary following the county line up to the
lake. It was thus made 5 miles in width and 8 miles long.

At that time also (^March 9, 1883) a strip five miles in width on the
west side of old North Township was made a new division of the county,
called North Township, and between that and the new To\raship of Hobart
a strip of territory six miles in width, extending from the north line of
township 35 to Lake Michigan, was erected into Calumet Township. As
this division took three sections away from Ross Towaiship, the Village
of Ross is no longer in the township by that name.

The three original townships of the county have thus become eleven,
there having been no changes since 1883.

But, although the county seat has remained at Crown Point since
1840, official and judicial business has so increased that the old-time log
courthouse has given place to two magnificent stnictures, convenient and
modem in every respect. Territorially, Crown Point is central and con-
venient, but on account of the wonderful development of the northern
part of the county, the center of population, of business, of politics and
of legal and judicial procedure has shifted far to the northwest. The
result is both Crown Point and Hammond are headquarters for judicial
proceedings and county business, although CroAvn Point is still the official
county seat and contains the principal county offices. The details of this
necessary adjustment will be naturally developed in the course of the


The Frame Courthouse

The frame courthouse bore date of 1849, but it was not completed
and occupied until 1850. George Earle, who had but lately platted the
town of Hobart, was the architect of the new building, the dimensions
of which were large for that day — sixty-seven feet long, thirty-seven wide
and twenty-seven high.

This somewhat pretentious county home was all on the ground, but
had four pillars in front and was surmounted by a round cupola which,
to present-day eyes, greatly resembled a salt shaker. It stood north of
the public square and on the east and west street bounding it. The court-
house contained a courtroom, a .jury room and a sheriff's room.

Other County Buildings

Just east and west of the courthouse stood two brick buildings, all
fronting south ; the eastern office building accommodated the treasurer
and auditor, and the western the recorder and clerk. Inmiediately
north of the Iniilding containing the offices of the treasurer and auditor
was the frame jail. Courthouse, office buildings and jail are said to be
covered in the sum of $10,000.

The probate judge held court in the old building until his office was
abolished in 1851, and afterward the Circuit Court of the county con-
tinued to dispense justice therein for some thirty years. During all that
period the comity officers also occupied the other more miscellaneous
buildings, as described.

Agitation for Better Courthouse

In the later '70s the people, even the taxpayers, commenced to ask
for better accommodations. Not only had the frame courthouse served
as a general gathering place for exciting political and temperance meet-
ings and for unusual local occasions, but had been the scene of many sad,
as well as rousing war meetings; and even more learned judges and
more eloquent lawyers had there held forth than in the little audience
and courtroom of the loghouse. But even the frame courthouse, with
its cupola, fell before the march of events, was sold to John G. Hoffman,
moved and transformed into an opera house.

Some sLxty thousand dollars had already been collected for the erec-
tion of a brick and stone courthouse on the square donated for the
purpose liy Solon Robinson and AYilliam Clark, original proprietors of
the town, when an attempt was made by criminals, unknown and undis-



c'oveivd to this day. to blow up the little brick buikliug housing the
otifiees of the county treasurer and the auditor, as well as this tidy sum
of $60,000. Tlie buihling was wrecked, but the money was saved.

The CouRTiioi'sE of 1880

A (h'scri})tion of the courtiiouse. which was ready for occupancy by
1880, written not long after its completion, gives tliese facts : The present

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 44)