William Frederick Howat.

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

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brick and stone courthouse was connnenced in 1878. the corner-stone

CorxTv CoiKT HorsE, Crowx Point

having been laid with ^lasonic ceremonies, in the presence of a large
concourse of people, September 10. There are in the auditor's office
twenty pages of printed specifications, l)ut the plans giving dimensions
have been removed. It appears from the data remaining that the cellar
story is 10 feet 4 inches in the clear between the joists, the principal
story 15 feet 2 inches, the second story 22 feet 2 inches for courtroom
and corridors and 19 feet 2 inches for commissioners and other rooms.
The flagpole is fifty-six feet high. There are twenty-six windows in the
princij^al story. The outside dimensions are said to be ninety-six feet
by one hundred and five. There are six good office rooms on the principal
floor and several rooms on the second stor}'. The entire cost Avas about
fiftv-two thousand dollars.


This solid red-brick, stone-trimmed courthouse, two stories in height,
stood near the center of the public square. In 1882 the brick jail and
sheriff's residence was built on Main Street, adjoining the IMethodist
Church, at a cost of $24,000. In 1889 another decided improvement of
county property was made in the laying of a wide stone walk around the
courthouse square, 315 feet from north to south and about two hundred
and twenty from east to west.

The Care of the County Poor

In the care of its poor, Lake County has always evinced the spirit of
a careful and sympathetic friend. Its home for the needy who are public
charges was founded in 1884 by the erection of a residence for the poor
and feeble. While at times the management of the County Poor Asylum
has been cramped for ineans, everything possible under the circumstances
has been accomplished.

The poor farm comprises 310 acres of land lying directly east of
Crown Point on a good gravel road. IMost of it is under careful cultiva-
tion, although there are small tracts of timber, pastures for the live stock,
and quite an area is covered by large barns, horse and cattle sheds, and
the handsome structures erected in 1912 at a cost of some two hundred
thousand dollars. The farm is kept neat and productive, being self-
sustaining, and the work of conducting it, as well as much of the operating
labor for the asylum, is largely performed by those dependent on the

The new asylum is provided with its own heating and lighting plants,
the hospital and operating rooms are equipped with every modern con-
venience and appliance, the living and sleeping rooms are entirely sep-
arate, and, taking the institution all in all, it is believed there is no
county asylum in the state which more fully meets the requirements of
the case than that of Lake County. While there have never been Over
one hundred and fifty inmates to be cared for, accommodations are now
provided for 350. This increase of facilities to properly care for the
poor — to protect them and, at the same time, give them a home — may
be largely credited to the present superintendent, August W. Neunfeldt,
who has been at the helm since 1907.

Courthouse Remodeled and Enlarged

A return to the headquarters of the county at Crown Point is now
taken, and the fact is recalled that for another thirty years the frame
courthouse did duty for the county at CrowTi Point, albeit, with the


increase of judicial and official business, the capacity of its accommoda-
tions was strained to the utmost. Finally public sentiment, aroused by
the aggravations of those who resorted thither, decided that patience
had ceased to be a virtue, and called loudly and sharply for relief.

The result was that in 1909 the 1880 courthouse was expanded and
remodeled into a modern structure at a cost of $160,000. As some im-
provements had previously been made, within and ^^dthout, and the
property has since been well maintained, it is estimated that the total
investment in the present courthouse at Crown Point has been two hun-
dred and fifty thousand dollars. Among the public buildings it is one
of the largest in the county. It contains the main offices for the various
county officials and two handsome courtrooms, occupied by the judges
of the Circuit and Superior courts. The judge of the Supreme Court
alternates his sessions between Hammond and Crown Point.

Judicial and Official Accommodations at Hammond

The Superior Court of Lake County was created in 1895, but Ham-
mond did not realize the benefit of a separate courthouse until 1903. In
November of that year the first Lake Superior Courthouse was completed
at Hammond, at a cost, with furnishings, of nearly seventy-seven thou-
sand dollars. Seven years afterward, or in 1910, it was remodeled at an
additional expense of $75,000, making the total cost of the building up
to date about one hundred and ninet}^ thousand dollars. Outwardly it is
a magnificent granite building, two stories and high basement, with a lofty
and elegant central clock tower. The body of the building contains three
large courtrooms, two of them being used forty weeks and the other
twenty weeks in each year. This part of the courthouse also contains
the offices of the sheriff, clerk, court reporters and prosecuting attorney,
and the law library, the last named embracing one of the largest collec-
tions of the kind in the State of Indiana. In the basement are some of
the county surveyors and offieials connected with the register of deeds
and the recorder. In this building, therefore, is to be found, to all intents
and purposes, an extension of county seat privileges to Hammond, for
the accommodation of Northern Lake County.

Late Attempts to Remove County Seat

Of late years several strong efforts have been made to move the county
seat from the territorial center to the virtual center of population and
material activities ; but what the future will bring forth it is not wise to
prophesy. These later efforts may be said to have commenced about



twenty-live years ago, at the eommeucement of Haninioiid's decisive
development, and one of the initial movements is thus described in the
report made to the Old Settlers' Association in 1891. "In the winter of
1890 and 1891," it says, "a strenuous effort was made by some Hammond
citizens to have a lull passed through the State Legislature leading to a
removal of the county seat to that city. Crown Point citizens and some
in other counties, especially in Laporte County, worked diligently against

Sri'KRioii C<)[ RT IIorsE, Hammond

the l)ill, and it was at length defeated. Xo little excitement was aroused
in the county by this attempt of the young manufacturing city to take
from the center of the county to the border of the City of Chicago the
county seat of Lake."

It was not until ten years after this that a compromise was effected
between the larger population and greater monetary and professional
interests of Northern Lake County and the less metropolitan elements
south of the Little Calumet River, in the erection of the Superior Court-
house at Hammond and the establishment therein of facilities for judicial
proceedings and the transaction of county business, especially as relates
to the surveying, transferring and recording of property.

Rather a Discouraging Decade

The decade from 1840 to 1850 was one of slow growth and not a few
trials for Lake County. Although some progress was made in agriculture
and it became quite a wool-growing section and raised considerable


wheat, the prairie wolf aud sheep rot kept busy, and rust damaged the
wheat crops. Many farmers therefore left discouraged.

During that decade were also several seasons of wide-spread sickness
— notably those of the summers of 1838 and 1846. Both were very dry
seasons. Besides the sickness of 1846 to retard the growth of the county,
the fields of grain went to waste, as there were few men to do the harvest-
ing. The men and hoys who were on their feet were taking care of the
sick and performing the needful household work. Increasing the priva-
tions of those memorable years, much of the scant harvest of wheat was
hardly fit either for the market or for bread, and half the potato crop
was also destroyed by disease. There is evidence from different sources
that in the years of sickness, crop failures and consec^uent depression
marking the later portion of the decade 1840-50, as many as one-half
of the pioneers passed out of the county and sought more healthful and
promising homes in the more distant West.

It was also during that period that Lake County contril)uted about
thitty of its young men, who could be so illy spared. They joined the
American army in ^lexico during 1847, and a large portion of them never

There were other reasons why Lake County made little progress from
1840 to 1850, one of the chief ])eing that her territory had not yet been
traversed by convenient lines of travel and transportation. But from
the time of the coming of the first railroad to this region — the Michigan
Central in 1850 — the times and the complete face of tbe county under-
went a rapid transformation. This progress, and the general advance-
ment of the following decades, is illustrated by the census figures, which
embrace the long stretch of years from 1850 to 1910.


In 1847 there were in the county seven postoffices, five sawmills in
operation furnishing oak lumber, two grist mills — Wood's mill, which did
grinding for the farmers of both Lake and Porter counties, and Wilson 's
and Saunders'. George Earle was also erecting a tliird at what became
Hobart. There were then in the county about fifty frame houses, five
church buildings, two brick dwellings and five stores. Two of the ' ' mer-
cantile establishments ' ' were at Crown Point — one kept by H. S. Pelton
and the other by William Alton ; the other three stores were at Pleasant
Grove, W^ood's Mill and St. Johns. The professional statistics indicate
that there were in the county at that time (1847), with more or less busi-
ness on their hands, two lawyers, half a dozen physicians, six ministers
and one circuit preacher, and fifteen justices of the peace.


Prosperous Era, 1850-60

In 1850 Lake County had reached a population of 3,991. It was
divided into 715 families and there were 423 farms within its limits.
Only one black person is recorded as among its residents.

Indiana Corn Field

In 1860 tlie population had increased to 9,145 and in 1870 to 12,339.
As the latter decade included the Civil war era, the advance in pojDulation
was not so marked as for the period from 1850 to 1860.

Another Decade of "Hard Times"

The increase from 1870 to 1880 was even less than during the previous
decade, as several seasons of great business disturbances occurred during
this period, and it is a well substantiated economic truth that in "hard
times" the natural increase of births is retarded and people everywhere
in the affected districts are less prone to migrate. The population for
1880 was 15,091.

A Great Railroad Period

The '80s formed the great railroad era for Lake County, seven or
eight important lines of transportation entering and traversing its terri-
tory in that period. For the past thirty years the increase in population
]ias been remarkable, and, for the decade 1900-10, little short of marvelous


for a district in the ^Middle West. The explanation is found in the
founding and expansion of the City of Gary.

Religious Statistics

A fair summary of the progress of Lake County, considered from a
statistical standpoint, would include also a mention of churches. In
1840 there was no church building within its bounds. It contained a few
log schoolhouses and two or three Sunday schools. The population was

In 1870 there were twenty church buildings, ten resident pastors,
forty places for religious meetings, thirty Sunday schools, and the popu-
lation, as stated, was 12,339.

In 1880 Lake County, as to population, was the seventy-first in the
state, only twenty-one counties having a less number of inhabitants.

Doubtless owing to its favorable geographical position, its proximity
to Chicago and to some natural advantages, from 1880 to 1890 Lake
County made more rapid gro\rth than any other county in Indiana. In
1890 it was the thirty-fifth in population, fifty-seven counties having less.
Its per cent of increase was 58.28.

In 1890 there were fifty-six church buildings in Lake County, thirty-
nine resident ministers, forty-five Sunday schools and sixty places for
religious meetings.

Large Land Owners

The following are some interesting facts presented by a private
statistician regarding the large land owners of Lake County: In 1872
ten families owned about one-sixth of the area of Lake County, and six
families, so near as an estimate could be made, owned one-tenth, in
value, of the real estate of the county. At that time A. N. Hart of Dyer
held the largest number of acres, about fifteen thousand, which lands were
supposed to be worth $500,000.

About 1892 1,000 acres of that land was sold for a full $100 per acre.
At that time Dorsey & Cline, non-residents, held as much as ten thousand
acres, and G. W. Cass, also a non-resident, held of Kankakee marsh land
nearly ten thousand acres.

Since then great changes have taken place through all the Kankakee
and Calumet regions. The Lake Agricultural Company, composed of the
heirs of Gen. G. W. Cass, a leading member of the company, and William
R. Shelby, of Michigan, still own a large portion of the Cass land.



Of individual owners now, John Brown, president of the First Na-
tional Bank of Crown Point, has 5,300 acres of marsh land, and W. M.
White, a non-resident, has the second largest amount, holding about
thirteen hundred acres. In the Calumet region, on Lake Michigan, the
Chicago Stock Yard Company originally held about forty-four hundred
acres, and until the United States Steel Corporation came into the field
at Gary was the largest holder of lands among the corporations. As a

]MoDERN Farming

rule, however, there has been little monopoly of land in Lake County —
which is as it should be.

Comparative Population in 1910, 1900 and 1890

With these preliminaries we present the figures of the United States
Census for 1890, 1900 and 1910, in parallel columns:

1910. 1900. 1890.

82,864 37,892 23,886
Calumet Township, including Garj^ City and

Griffith Town 17,982 1,408 944

Gary City 16,802

Ward i 2,834

Ward 2 4,724

Ward 3 6,244

Ward 4 1,637














1910. 1900. 1890.

"Ward 5 1,363

Griffith Town 523

Cedar Township, inchiding Lowell Town 2,312

Lowell Town 1,235

Center Township, including Crown Point Town. . 3,602

Crown Point Town 2,526

Eagle Creek Township 717

Hanover Township 1,029

Hobart Township, including Aetna, East Gary,

Hobart, Miller and New Chicago towns 3,729 2,718 2,197

Aetna Town 161

East Gary Town 484

Hobart Town 1,753 1,390 1,010

Miller Town 638

New Chicago Town 105

North Township, including East Chicago, Hani-

' mond and Whiting cities and Munster town. 48,361 21,020 9,631

East Chicago City 19,098 3,411 1,255

AVard 1 1,918

Ward 2 4,142

Ward 3 1,441

Ward 4 2,202

Ward 5 1,509

Ward 6 4,608

Ward 7 3,378

Hammond City 20,925 12,376 5,428

W^ard 1 2,736

Ward 2 2,517

Ward 3 2,728

AVard 4 1,461

Ward 5 2,337

Ward 6 2,319

Ward 7 2,074

Ward 8 1,890

Ward 9 1,035

Ward 10. 1,786

Munster Town 543

Whiting City 6,587 3,983 1,408

Ward 1 1,464

Ward 2 1,973

Ward 3 1,797

Ward 4 1,353













Ross Township 1,434

St. John Township 1,766

West Creek Township 1,306

Winfield Township 626

North Township Center op^ Population

One of the impressive things shown in the foregoing tables is that,
although the remarkable growth of Gary increased the population of
Calumet Township from 1,408 in 1900 to 17,982 in 1910, still that town-
ship is not the center of population of the region. North Township,
w^hich contains the cities of Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting, with
a population of 48,361, holds that honor. It showed an increase of 27,341
in ten years, although the greatest percentage of gain was made during
the later five years. The agricultural townships and district were almost

Cities in the Calumet Region

The comparative census of cities in the Calumet region was as follows:

Cities— 1910. 1900. 1890.

Hammond 20,925 12,376 5,428

• East Chicago 19,098 3,411 1,255

Gary 16,802

Whiting 6,587 3,983 1,408

The Finances of Lake County

The last report of the auditor of Lake County is very suggestive as
illustrating the wealth, intelligence and enterprise of that part of the
state ; in fact, it proves its standing in the great economic system of the
United States. From that report, which carries the county 's fiscal affairs
up to January 1, 1914, it is learned that the receipts from all sources
amounted to $4,338,660.08 and the disbursements $3144,697.72, leaving
a balance in the county treasury of $1,193,962.36.

The biggest item of revenue was derived from the sale of bonds for
construction purj^oses, which amounted to $1,250,657.68. The so-called
county revenue realized $651,581.29, largely derived from taxes and the
sale of bridge bonds. Next in order of importance as revenue producers
were the special school tax, which brought in $475,920.53 ; corporation
and school, $394,945.62; taxation for redemption of bonds, $329,960.42;



local tuition tax, $227,333.69; bond or sinking fund, $205,381.62; liquid
licenses, $195,400; gravel road repairs, $111,275.05; common school rev-
enue, $104,328.12, and state school tax, $100,770.03.

The largest items among the "disbursements" on account of coimty
revenue were those which covered bridge construction and repairs,
amounting to $169,274.99, and for the poor farm (including new build-
ing), $97,102.22.

A large percentage of the bonded indebtedness of the county has
been incurred in the building of bridges, in which branch of public work
this section of Northwestern Indiana is eminent. The bonds now out-
standing are for these structures : Dickey Place bridge, $80,000 ; Chicago
Avenue bridge, $67,500 ; Kohman Street bridge, $56,000 ; Forsyth Ave-
nue bridge, $71,000; South Hohman Street bridge, $45,000; Hobart
bridge, $22,500 ; Gary bridge, $16,500.

The bonds issued in the course of the construction of the new alms-
house amounted to $127,500.

Value op Real Estate and Personal Property

The abstract made by the auditor from the figures returned by the
tax collectors is a direct exhibit of the county's wealth and its capacity
to raise revenue by taxation. The first column of the table presented
indicates the value of lands, lots and improvements throughout the
county, given by townships and corporations; the second column, the
deductions on account of mortgage exemptions; the third, the net value
of real estate, and the fourth, the value of personal and corporation
property :


Divisions— real estate.

1. North $ 365,640

2. Calumet 684,550

3. Ross 1,001,900

4. St. John Township. 407,520

5. Center 770.220

6. Crown Point 536,820

7. West Creek 1,053,335

8. Cedar Creek 941,060

9. Lowell 238,540

10. Eagle Creek 867,880

11. AVinfield 476,565

12. Hobart 576.385




Net value.


1^ 2,885

$ 362,755

$ 549,825




































Total Deduc- Net Personal

Divisions. real estate. tions. value. property.

13. Hanover $ 636,025 $ 5,510 $ 630,515 $ 508,525

14. Hammond 6,411,965 284,215 6,127,750 4,697,770

15. East Chicago 4,830,940 169,870 4,661,070 3,949,965

16. Whiting 3,834,690 50,190 3,784,500 4,455,600

17. Griffith 150,950 805 150,145 489,055

18. Gary 12,440,065 66,825 12,373,240 9,090,015

19. Dyer 190,265 100 190,165 323,830

20. Miller 505,250 1,345 503,905 697,670

21. :\runster 231,260 6,600 224,660 491,170

22. Aetna 29,000 29,000 47,710

23. East Gary 291,525 2,560 288,965 553,175

24. New Chicago 68,090 15 68,075 9,140

25. Highland 179,510 3,290 176,220 379,110

26. St. John Crp.... . 106,395 1,100 105,295 171,370

27. Schererville 178,615 1,700 176,915 703,170

Total $38,004,960 $741,390 $37,263,570 $34,550,910

Taxable Capacity

The table which follows relates especially to the taxable capacity of

Lake County. The first column indicates the total net value of taxables ;
the second, the number of polls, and the third, the total amount of tax,
including delinquencies :

Net value.

1. North $ 912,580

2. Calumet 1,383,590

3. Ross 2,071,695

4. St. John Township 979,970

5. Center 1,455,515

6. Crown Point 1,138,545

7. West Creek 1,850,795

8. Cedar Creek 1.536,125

9. Lowell 447,245

10. Eagle Creek 1,158,070

11. Winfield 1,126,195

12. Hobart 1,696,460

13. Hanover 1,139,040

14. Hammond 10,825,520


Amount of tax.


$ 25,014.34




























Net Amount of

value. Polls. tax.

15. East Chicago $ 8,611,035 2,163 $ 269,064.49

16. Whiting 8,240,100 950 181,916.94

17. Griffith 639,200 83 18,905.07

18. Gary 21,463,255 2,671 629,970.61

19. Dyer 513,995 87 11,335.54

20. MiUer 1,201,575 101 46,502,47

21. Munster 715,830 69 16,702.66

22. Aetna 76,710 47 2,691,22

23. East Gary 842,140 64 25,924,70

24. New Chicago 77,215 28 4,007,81

25. Highland 555,330 58 14,974,29

26. St, John Township 276,665 50 6,716.56

27. Schererville 880,085 71 20,006,27

Total $71,814,480 11,456 $2,060,367.89

The RoADfe of Lake County

Lake County is one of the most active counties in the state in the
matter of the improvement of its roads — its gravel roads, or turnpikes,
as they used to be generally called. The importance of the good roads
movement in that section of the state is told in part by the facts culled
from the auditor's report. In the following table is a statement of the
tax receipts, by townships, which were received in 1913 to be applied
on that work, the amounts including the balances which went over from
the previous year; also the expenditures, and the balances on hand at
the l)eginning of 1914:

Townships — Receipts, Disbursements, Balance.

North $113,387,47 $ 90,701,90 $22,685,57

Calumet 90,902.39 77,262.25 13,640,14

Ross 15,353.51 10,291.36 5,062,15

St. John 19,257.31 15,381,40 3,875,91

Center 14,978.06 14,215.33 762,73

West Creek 10,306,64 7,071,25 3,235,39

Cedar Creek 15,968,80 11,462,85 4,505,95

Eagle Creek 7,168.72 5,575,00 1,593,72

Winfield 7,560,48 4,829.50 2,730.98

Hobart 30,855.68 22,069.04 8,786,64

Hanover 4,221.36 2,913.75 1,307.61

Total $329,960.42 $261,773.63 $68,186,79


Bonded Indebtedness

On January 1, 1914, the bonded indebtedness incurred by the various

townships for the construction and maintenance of its gravel roads was
as follows :

Bonds Bonds

Townships — outstanding. maturing.

Calumet $ 737,002.00 $ 78,008.00

Cedar Creek 71,019.23 9,411.98

Center 94.059.87 11,422.26

Hanover 23,400.00 1,800.00

Hobart 135,653.35 15,698.80

Eagle Creek 32,000.00 4,000.00

North 999,820.00 105,770.00

Ross 70,085.79 8,863.86

St. John 88,245.18 10,844.96

West Creek 71,234.19 6,609.94

Winfield 32,350.00 3,230.00

Totals $2,287,869.61 .$255,659.80

Financial Status op Different Roads

This road matter is of so much interest to the entire rural population,

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 44)