William Frederick Howat.

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

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The growth and the standing of Lowell was also advanced in its
earlier years by what was known for some years as the NeW' Hampshire
settlement. The nucleus of the settlement was made in 1855, 1856 and
1857 by seven families — those of Thomas Little, Abiel Gerrish, Samuel
Ames, Henry Peach, E. N. Morey and Rev. Hiram Wason.

Thomas and Joseph A. Little

Capt. Thomas Little was of an old j\Iassachusetts family, one branch
of which finally reached out into New Hampshire. The family, which
he headed for Lake Prairie, Lake County, had been fixed in ^Merrimack
County, of the Granite State.

Hon. Joseph A. Little, one of the sons, was about twenty-five years
of age when the Western New Hampshire settlement was made. In
1859, four years after his coming, he married Miss Mary Gerrish,
daughter of a prominent member of the colony and a neighborhood friend
"back East." He became one of the most successful farmers in the
county and was one of the first to become prominent as a wool-grower
on a large scale. His three sons and three daughters have been a credit
to their parents and the family name, the former having become weU


known agriculturists in the Kankakee region. Mr. Little obtained his
title of Honorable from the fact that he served in the Indiana Legislature
during the years 1886 and 1887. He died February' 19, 1892, a strong,
able, useful man, and one who did much for Lake County both through
his good works and the intiuence of his character.

Abiel Gerrish

Abiel Gerrish was a man of mature age when he came to Lake
Prairie from his home near the mouth of the Merrimack River. His
wife was a very devoted Christian woman and died in September, 1881,
the two having celebrated their golden wedding during the previous
year. He himself died in June, 1884. They were the parents of one son
and five daughters, their daughter ^Mary marrying, as stated, their old
neighbor's son, Joseph A. Little.

Samuel and Edward P. Ames

The head of another of these seven New Hampshire families was
Samuel Ames, whose early ancestors were born in New Hampshire. Mr.
Ames also represented Lake County in the Legislature as one of its able
and influential citizens. He died at Elkhart, Indiana, about fifteen years
ago. His youngest brother, Edward P. Ames, who was only eight years
old when the family settled at Lake Prairie, married Miss Nannie Wason,
daughter of Rev. H. Wason, an active minister of those early days. Mr.
Ames lived many years at Hammond, and his wife has contributed not
a few interesting papers to the records of the Old Settler and Historical

Recollections of Mrs. Nannie W. Ames

Thirty years ago ^Irs. Nannie W. Ames wrote the following descrip-
tion of Lake Prairie and its early settlers, including the New Hampshire
colony, many of whose immediate descendants gravitated to Creston and
Lowell: "Lake Prairie's own children who have gone away to seek
homes elsewhere have come back and said, 'There is no place like this
after all.' The scene has changed in this quarter of a century, but has
only gained in beauty. Now, as far as the eye can reach, may be seen
comfortable houses and farm buildings, orchards and shade trees, with
here and there a bordering of deep green osage ; while still further in
the distance the tall windmills point out the homes beyond the range of


"Not an acre is unfenced, and but few are unfit for cultivation. The
soil is good and best adapted to corn, oats and grass. The earth has
well 'yielded of her increase,' for almost without exception the land
owners are in good circumstances. The one landmark of early days was
the Lone Tree, a burr oak that is still standing on the farm of Cyrus
Hayden. Manj^ stories are told of men lost on the trackless prairie who
came to that and were able to locate themselves and find their way home.

First Settlers

' ' The first settler was Robert Wilkinson, who came in 1835, and lived
in the edge of the grove near where Charles Marvin now lives. Twenty
years later he moved to Missouri, where he died. But two of his children
are living in the county — John Wilkinson and Mrs. William Hill, both of

"In 1842 George Belshaw eame and settled on the farm afterward
known as the Tarr Place and now owned by his grandson, Charles Bel-
shaw. His two sons, William and Henry, entered the land they now
live on.

'"In 18-16 James Palmer came from St. Joseph County, bought 320
acres of land and built the house afterward ouned by Abram Ritter,
about a mile north of the Presbyterian Church. His sou, A. D. Palmer,
who now keeps store in Creston, lived for a few years just north of his
father. Two brothers, George and Abram Ritter, came about 1851.
Abram bought land of James Palmer, where his widow and youngest
daughter. ]\Irs. Livingston, still live. George entered the land now owned
by T. A. Wason, Edwin Michael, E. P. Ames and E. N. and T. P. Morey.
George Ritter died in a few years and none of his children are now
living in the county.

"In 1850 Jacob Baughman moved here from Ohio with his family
and entered 320 acres of land now owmed by Frank Plumer, Jay D.
Baughman and Abiel Gerrish. He has two sons living here now — Jay
D. and Jacob Baughman, of Lowell, with two daughters, Mrs. Knisely
and ]\Irs. A. G. Plumer, while two sons are in the AYest.

"About this time A. G. Plumer came from New Hampshire and bought
a large farm just west of Mr. Baughman, where he now lives. On the
edge of the prairie, a mile south of Mr. Plumer, lived E. D. Foster, the
father of Lyman and Alfred Foster, who were early settlers in the
county, but lived outside of Lake Prairie. H. R. Nichols and Oliver
Fuller were among the early settlers, Mr. Fuller living on the farm now
owned by Mr. Bruce. IVIr. Nichols has lived in Lowell for some years,


Avhere his two sons are in the hay business, but he still owns the farm
Avhere he first settled.

"In the southeast the brothers James and Amos Brannon moved on
the land where they now live about 1850. though they had been in the
county several years before. James Brannon married Eleanor Foster
and Amos Brannon, Sally Taylor, both daughters of early settlers. A
little farther to the southeast, not really belonging to the Prairie, yet
identified with the society and the church there, were the two families
of Peter Burhans and his brother-in-law, ]\Iarshall Barber. ^Ir. Burhana
moved to Crown Point a few years ago, but his sons Charles and Alex-
ander live on his farm.

The New Hampshire Settlers

''In 1S55 and 1856 several families came from New Hampshire and
settled near each other. Thomas Little bought the land owned by a
Mr. Barker, who had lived on it several years, and which is now a part
of the large farm owned by his son, Joseph Little.

' ' Abiel Gerrish, who died this summer, bought land of Jacob Baugh-
man and his son John ; also eighty acres of A. G. Plumer. His only son,
James L. Gerrish, has lived on this farm for some years.

•'Henry Peach bought his farm of E. Knisely, who then went West,
but afterward returned and bought land on the State line, where his
widow and youngest daughter still live. Mr. Peach died in 1858, and his
was the first grave in the Lake Prairie burying ground. His son Abiel
lives on the farm now.

"Samuel Ames and E. N. Morey bought unimproved land of the heirs
of (!ieorge Ritter. Mr. ]\Iorey still lives there and has sold part of his
farm to his oldest son. Mrs. Morey 's father, Dr. Peach, came with his
family a year or two later and lived here until his death a few years ago,
at the advanced age of ninety-eight. He was the oldest person in the
county. Mr, Ames moved to Elkhart, Indiana, two years ago, to live
near his daughter, and his son, Ed. P. Ames, now owns the farm.

' ' In 1857 Rev. Hiram Wason, also a native of New Hampshire, came
from Vevay, Indiana, and became the pastor of the Independent Presby-
terian Church, which had been organized the year before with twelve
members. He bought land of A. G. Plumer and built the house where he
still lives. He resigned his charge of the church in 1864 and has preached
only occasionally since. ' '

Dr. Thomas Peach was the head of the family by that name, and hia
wife was Susannah, sister of Abiel Gerrish. He was an aged man when
he came to Lake Prairie in 1857. He and his wife made their home with



their son-in-law, E. N. Morey, at whose residence he died in 1882. As
]Mrs. Ames states, he was ninety-eig:ht years of age at the time of his
death and the oldest man in the count}- — one of the oldest in Indiana.

Ephraim N. Morey was reared as a farmer's boy in New Hampshire,
but was afterward engaged in railroad work in both the East and the
West. He married a daughter of Doctor Peach. His death occurred
in 1902. Of the four eliildren born to ^Ir. and Mrs. Morey, perhaps

Shelby Consolidated School. Cedar Creek Township

AVilliam H. Morey became best known in Cedar Creek Township, as he
was finely educated and served for some time as principal of the Lowell
High School.


Cedar Creek Township is preeminently a farming disti'ict. and, out-
side of Lowell, Shelby is really the only center of population lying
entirely within its limits. The village claims a population of about two
hundred and fifty.

Shelby was brought to life as a station of the Monon (Louisville, New
Albany & Chicago) Railroad, which was in running order in Lake County


by 1882. At that time AYater Valley, as the district immediately to the
south was called, was a busy and productive regrion in the ice-harvesting
season, and when Shelby became a railroad station it was naturally
adopted as a shipping point. It was also the center of one of the richest
grass and hay sections iii the township, if not in the county, and the
dairy farms in the vicinity are large and well managed. The promise of
growth was so substantial that in July, 1886, William R. Shelby, presi-
dent of the Lake Agricultural Company, after whom the place was
named, laid the site off into streets and lots. This site embraced the
southwest quarter of section 28, township 32, range 8, as well as ten acres
adjoining that tract on the northeast and fifteen acres of section 33 on
the southeast.

Among the nourishing churches of Shelby is that of the Disciples
of Christ, organized in August, 1912.

Richard Fuller

Richard FuUer was long one of the prosperous farmers of that region,
and later the leading business man of Shelby, where he dealt extensively
in hay, grain and stock and conducted the Fuller House. James Fuller,
the father, had settled in Cedar Creek Township as early as 1839, when
Richard was ten years of age. He had entered Government land, im-
proved his farm and died thereon, prosperous and content, in his seventy-
first year. Richard Fuller snatched what education he could as a hard-
working farmer's boy and, after he became independent of paternal
control, engaged in farming for a number of years in West Creek Town-
ship ; but in 1888 he made Shelby the headquarters of his extensive
interests both in agriculture and business. At one time he operated over
one thousand acres of land, but during the hiter years devoted himself
to the conduct of his hotel.

Shelby has never been more than a small settlement, but, as stated, is
a fair shipping center for a large and productive district.


Creston also received its name as a stiition on the Alonon line when
it was completed through the southwestern and western portions of the
county in 1882. The station itself is in West Creek Township, but quite
a number of families Avhich form the settlement reside over the line in
Cedar Creek Township. It is situated about a mile south of Red Cedar
Lake and half a mile west of the early center, where in 1849 or 1850
there was a store, a postoffiee. a IJacksmith shop and a schoolhouse. The


postoffiee was named Cedar Lake, and at the schoolhouse the well knowTi
Baptist church and Sunday school held their meetings for some years.

At the railroad station now called Creston there are two stores, a
church and a schoolhouse, supported mainly by two-score families in the
neighborhood — among which, as noted, the Taylors and the Edgertons
are still generously represented. Hay and grain are shipped to some
extent from this point.

About the time Cedar Creek became Creston, the railroad station, E.
B. Warriner, a grandson of Hon. Lewis Warriner, was writing as follows :
"And now we come to Creston, or the settlement on the prairie. This
neighborhood, formerly called Tinkerville, yet without any significance
in the name and now, from the name of the station, called Creston, extends
east and west a mile and a half, and north and south about two miles.
Its principal north and south street is the dividing line between Cedar
Creek and AVest Creek townships ; its east and west streets are two and
a half miles apart. It is on the northeastern portion of Lake Prairie.

' ' Claims were made here, as has already been seen, as early as 1836,
and a mill was soon built on Cedar Creek, or the Outlet, known as the
Taylor and jMcCarty, and then the Carsten mill ; but the settlement proper
dates from about 1842. It soon became the home of the McCarty, Edger-
ton and Taylor families from the lake side, and then, as the years went
along, of the Stillson, Palmer, Thompson, Scritchfield, Davis, Hill,
Wheeler, Garrison, Nichols, Carstens, and still other families ; the earlier
lake families being blood relations and nearly, if not quite, all who came
into the neighborhood becoming connected b}^ marriage with these kindred
families. Some thirty families may be counted here that are related by
tie of blood, or connected by marriage, with the Taylor, Edgerton and
Palmer families, and are thus connected with Obadiah Taylor from

A Patriarch Indeed

Peter Surprise, one of the most aged men who ever lived in the United
States and one of the most noted patriarchs of the age, died near his old
homestead, between Lowell and Creston, on the 27th of August, 1903.
He was well advanced in his one hundred and tenth year. Mr. Surprise
was born of French parentage, in a province of Lower Canada, Febru-
ary 24, 1794. In early manhood he married Rosanna Taylor and with
her, who had then become the mother of three cliildren, he moved to the
State of New York. There he was for a time a charcoal burner. About
1835 he came as one of the earliest of the Lake County pioneers, follow-
ing a colony of French neighbors who settled in Illinois near the present


Momence; he himself, with his family, settled in what was to become
Cedar Creek Township. Both in New York and in Indiana were bom
more children to IMr. and Mrs. Peter Surprise, until the circle comprised
eight sous and six daughters. On August 10, 1837, Solon Robinson, who
was then county clerk, made out the naturalization papers of the middle-
aged father — as ages run — declaring him to be "no longer a subject of
William lY of Great Britain, but a citizen of our free Republic." (As a
matter of fact, Victoria had been for some months Queen of England,
but the Atlantic cable and the ocean greyhounds and the rushing rail-
roads were not then in existence, and j\Ir. Robinson and Mr. Surprise
were in blissful ignorance of the change in rulership.)

Peter Surprise was born while Washington was yet President; he
lived about seven years in the seventeenth century, through all of the
nineteenth and through two full years of the twentieth, reaching the
advanced age of 109 years and 6 months, being the oldest citizen of Lake
County, if not of Indiana. There is no record of any older.

,Tlie wife of his young manhood died July 10, 1876, then seventy-five
years of age. Seven of the children have also died. For nearly forty-
one years his home was with his son, Henry Surprise, who became a
wealthy farmer and capitalist. For several years before his death the
aged father was not very strong in mind, but took much exercise and
interest in working on the farm, until in the last year of life his sight
became so dim as to confine him to the house. After a few days of illness
his long life closed at 8 o'clock in the evening of August 27, 1903.

Seven of the immediate descendants of Peter Surprise are yet living —
Elizabeth, Harvey, Henry, William, Oliver, Elvina and Lavinia; also
twenty-two grandchildren and forty great-grandchildren are in Lake
County. Burial services were held at Creston, August 29th, conducted
by Rev. T. H. Ball. Six grandsons were pall bearers and a large assem-
blage of people were present.

We take leave with regret of the pleasant rural life of Cedar Creek
Township, but, in view of Lowell's importance as an urban center, shall
return to describe the development and present status of that town in a
succeeding chapter.



Varied and Beautiful — First Settlement — The AVarriners — Cedar
Lake's Early Fame — The Taylors and Their Connections — Cal-

Partners — Neighborhood Extends Southward — The Knicker-
bockers AND AVestbrook Family — The Dilles and Warriners —
Eastern Settlement Grows — Education and Religion — The
McCartys and West Point — Lewis AVarringer and Family — West
Point Abandonees— Graytown Also a Failure — Commencement op
the "Resort" Business — Young America Is Launched — Other
Improvements — Richard Fancher and the Fair Grounds.

The original Center Township of 1837 comprised what are now sub-
sta]itially the township by that name, as well as Winfield, Hanover, Ross
and St. John. Winfield Township was its first territory to be taken away,
in 1843 ; St. John and Ross w^ere sliced off from its northern area
in 1848. and the county commissioners made a separate township of
Hanover in 1853. Thus Center Township was reduced to its present
area and form. As a whole, it may be said to Me a little southeast of the
center of the county, and Crown Point, the county seat and the only
settlement in the township, is a trifle east of the center.

Varied and Beautiful

Its varied physical features make it a very beautiful region. At its
southwestern corner is Red Cedar Lake, whose bright waters and green
shores also grace the southeast borders of Hanover Township. Besides
these headwaters of Cedar Creek, the head streams of Deep River flow
from a point northwest of Crown Point, while southeast and south of
the county seat, and nearly in the center of the township, are tracts of
charming woodlands and groves ; of the latter. School Grove is one of the
most noted in county history. As it was located on school section 16, the
early settlers could not file claims upon it, and thus it w^as kept out of the
market considerably longer than Southeast Grove, in Winfield Township.



This was a source of some aggravation to the pioneers, as School Grove
contains fine springs and wooded heights, although much of the land is
broken and marsliy. Further south and southwest are the beautiful
prairies, which extend to the groves and marshes of the Kankakee region.
The gem of them all, Lake Prairie, extends up into the southwestern
sections of Center Township.

First Settlements

The first settlements of the township cluster around what is now
Crown Point and the eastern shores of the Lake of the Red Cedars; as
they are among the first in the entire county, the leading characters in
the founding of the county seat have already been descrilied. So "Solon
Robinson's place" is passed over for the time being in favor of the
sturdy men and women who first peopled what has been called East
Cedar Lake.

The \Yarriners

We have already mentioned Lewis AVai'i-iner, who settled on the south-
east side of the lake in 1837 and was for years one (if the leading citizens
in his section of the state. He was a man of broad and fine literary dis-
crimination, wrote much and well, like Solon Robinson and Judge Hervey
Ball, and at his death in 1869 left local records which have since been
utilized by various members of his family. His descendants inherited
his tastes and inclinations in these regards, and E. B. Warriner, one of
his sons, has contributed much of interest relating to the pioneers who
located on the eastern shores of Red Cedar Lake. The following facts
are collated from one of his papers.

Cedar Lake's Early Fame

Solon Robinson says in his manuscript history that Henry Wells and
Luman A. Fowler, reaching his camp November 1, 1834, passed on to
Cedar Lake, "then the center of attraction for land lookers." This
remark is valuable, as showing that so early as the fall of 1834 that sheet
of water proved attractive to explorers here ; and, although it has lost
some of its earliest charms, yet through all these fifty years it has proved
attractive to large numbers of fowlers, fishermen and visitors. It became
one of the early social centers of the county, and had a right to be, as it
did become, a competing point for the location of the county seat.

In the year 1835 the east side was visited by claim seekers, but while

Vol.1 —10


Aaron Cox settled on the west side in May, no cabin seems to have been
built and occupied on the east side until 1836.

The Taylors and Their Connections

Then came members of a large family connection. These were Adoni-
jah Taylor and Horace Taylor, two brothers, with their wives and chil-
dren, and two brothers-in-law, Calvin Lilley and Horace Edgerton, with
their families, and the aged father, Obadiah Taylor. There also came
James Knickerbocker from New York, John T. Knickerbocker and Cyril
Carpenter; but the last of these were not permanent settlers. With the
large Taylor family and its connections East Cedar Lake is mainly

Calvin Lilley and Hls Hotel

Dr. Calvin Lille^-^, who had been stopping for a year or two at South
Bend and whose goods were brought in a good sized rowboat down the
Kankakee River, chose for his claim the northern portion of the east side,
built his cabin near the top of the slope where it commanded a full view
of the broadest part of the lake, opened a pioneer hotel and started a
country store. Of course his licenses could not be obtained until after
the organization of the county and the election of county commissioners
in 1837.

On jMay 29, 1837, a license was granted Calvin Lilley to sell foreign
and domestic groceries and dry goods, for which he was required to pay
$5, and a license to keep a tavern at Cedar Lake, for which he was to pay
$15. In the same month the commissioners had granted licenses for three
taverns on the "beach of Lake Michigan" for $6 each, for two on
the Sand Ridge Road at the same cost, and for one at Liverpool at a cost of
$10. Judging from the rate of license, the Lilley Hotel must have been
considered at that time the most important and lucrative one then in the
county. For some j^ears it continued to be an important social center.

South of Doctor Lilley, Horace Taylor made his claim and settled
with his family in 1836 on what is now the Stanley place, his claim taking
in Cedar Point. Fine large cedar trees were then growing on that wooded
bank, of which but few traces now remain.

Doctor Lilley and Adonijah Taylor, Partners

South of him at the Outlet, where was afterward the Binyon Hotel,
settled Adonijah Taylor. His land is recorded on the Claim Register,


October 17, 1836, as "No. 322, R. 9, T. 34, S. 26, southwest quarter, north
and south fractions, timber and outlet; settled, or to be. ]\Iay 15, 1836."
No. 35 on the Register, entered by "Calvin Lilley from South Bend
and A. Taylor from Pennsylvania ; 9, 33, 12, northwest quarter ; prairie,
outlet and mill seat," gives both men as residents in June, 1836. These
two, in company, also entered 9, 33, 11, northeast quarter, described as
"Prairie No. 36." Both entries were recorded July 7, 1836.

Neighborhood Extends Southward

It thus appears from the Register that, if not in May, certainly in
June, 1836, this family settlement was made. It also appears that these
East Cedar Lake settlers extended their claims southward, the first sum-
mer, as far as the southeastern limit of the present Creston.

In this same summer Horace Edgerton, with four sons and three

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 44)