William Frederick Howat.

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

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daughters, made his home near the two Taylor families.

' The northern claim of this neighborhood, made by Calvin Lilley and
settled June 1, 1836, was first recorded as "No. 32, 9, 34, 23, southwest
quarter, east eighty, fraction." On October 30th is this entry: "This
claim is altered by direction of the arbitrators so that the claimant now
holds the south fraction of tliis section abutting on Cedar Lake and con-
taining about 60 acres."

The Knickerbockers and AVestbrook Fa:\iily

James Knickerbocker, from New York, "resident with his family
since May," made his claim July 5, 1836, recording it two days later as
9, 34, 24, northeast quarter, west eighty: and John T. Knickerbocker
claimed in Alay of that year, 9, 34, 26, northeast quarter, southwest eighty,
"fraction abutting on the lake," as "resident on it since same time."
Of this the Claim Register says ' ' Transferred to James Westbrook, Feb-
ruary 27, 1837." The Scpiatter's Union was surely alive to its duties.
The Westbrook family moved from the county, and the place bearing
its name was afterward occupied by Dr. James A. Wood. The date of
the removal of the Westbrook family was probably 1840 ; of the Knicker-
bockers still earlier.

The Dilles and Warriners

In June, July and September, 1836, various claims were made by
Gen. L. Dille, of Ohio, for his sons, who became residents of the East
Cedar Lake country. Of these young men, George Washington DiUe
married Miss Freedom Edgerton.


By Courtesy ot Jj'raiik h'. Heiguway, C'ouuiy buperinteiident of Schools

Old District School No. 8

'.f i


'*% M\

Ey Courtesy of b'^ t

Lew ^VALLACE School, Center Township


In the smnuier of 1837 Lewis AVarriiier, of Spriug-tield, ^Massachusetts,
bought of Henry ^Myrick a claim made in September, 1835, and recorded
as "9. 33. 2. northeast quarter. No. 826 : to be settled this fall."

And Norman Warriner made a claim at the same time — "9, 33, 3,
northeast quarter, south eiglity ; to improve immediately and settle next
spring. ' '

Eastern Settlement Grows

These families made their settlement according to their recorded inten-
tions; and in the summer of 1838, some otlier families settling east of
the lake and vicinity, quite a little community of pioneer squatters were
gathering around them home comforts. The lake settlers took quite an
interest in tishing, the store and tavern proved to be quite attractive,,
while several of the men gave their attention to mill-building on the
Lilley and Taylor mill-seat. Comforts were provided for the women
a-nd children, some gardening was done, but no extensive farming.

Education and Religion

There was very littU- rain that summei' and a large amount of sick-
ness. Death visited this connnunity and a l)urial place was selected near
the bank of the lake. A schoolhouse was soon built, where religious meet-
ings Avere helcT conducted by the Rev. R. Hyde, and a school was opened
and taught by Albert Taylor, Lorin Hall, and then by Norman AVarriner,
probably in the winter of 1838 ; in 1840 or 1841 hy Miss H. Caroline War-
riner, and in the vcinter of 1843 by T. H. Ball.

At that time what are now two districts were Init one. The school-
house stood near the edge of Center Prairie and nearly a mile from the
lake, on which prairie were then the four families of S. P. Stringham,
J. Foley, Doctor AVood and a Mr. Paine. For a time school had been
held in a cabin built by Leonard Stringham near the same locality. The
regular appointment in this neighborhood, at the schoolhouse and at the
Paine place, was for Alethodist preaching; but occasionally a Baptist
minister from the west side of the lake would come over and preach.

The McCartys and West Point

In 1839 Dr. Calvin Lilley died and his place passed into the hands of
Benjamin McCarty, from Porter County, who, with his wife, six sons
and two daughters, having considerable means, intelligence and enter-
prise, made cpiite an addition to this community. His sons dressed well


and rode fine horses; his house was opened for Baptist meetings; he
named his place West Point and made offers to the commissioners for
locating there the county seat. His oldest son, Enoch Smiley McCarty,
put up and burnt a brick kiln, probably the first in the county, which is
accredited to the year 1840. His elder daughter married the oldest son
of Adonijah Taylor, and for a number of years the family was thoroughly
identified with the East Cedar Lake community. The name McCarty
is still to be found among the inhabitants of Creston.

Lewis Warriner and Family

The postoffice of the neighborhood was established at Lewis War-
riner's (the place now owned by ]\Ioses Mi Esty), and his house became
a center for the East Side Debating Society, and also a place for occa-
sional Baptist preaching. L. Warriner had two sons and one daughter,
his wife and younger daughter having died in 1838. He had been a
member of the Massachusetts Legislature ; was United States census officer
for Lake in 1840, and represented Lake County two or three times in the
Indiana Legislature. Connected with his home, with postoffice and the
literary gatherings with which he was identified there were many pleasant
memories and associations, but there are few left to recall them.

West Point Abandoned

But the time soon came, West Point not having been selected for the
county seat, when the fishing and milling interests proved insufficient
for the dwellers beside the lake, and they commenced moving southward
to the fertile and inviting open prairie. The first to move was probably
the McCarty family, settling and building where is now the home of James
Hill. The next was probably the Edgerton family, locating where now
resides Alfred Edgerton. The exact dates have not been ascertained, but
the latter removal was probably 1844; the former some years earlier,
perhaps 1842.

Other families followed, and soon a mile and a half of the eastern
side of the lake became almost a wilderness again. The neighborhood
roads were untraveled, a thick undergrowth came up, and West Point
remains tenantless unto this time — a pasture ground only, covered with
trees, shrubs and blackberry bushes. Little vestige remains of the earlier
pioneer life that once was there ; one of the first social centers of the
county, where large households have gathered, where hotel and business
life has been, where literary exercises have been held, where neighbors
have often gathered, where has been heard the voice of prayer and praise
— there for life are only the birds, the rabbits and the honey bees now.

Graytowk Also a Failure


But further south, less than a mile from the laid-out town of West
Point, an effort was made to start a new enterprise, and thus build up
again on an old homestead. Israel and William A. Taylor commenced,
in the spring of 1854, the erection of a large steam mill at the outlet of
the lake. The mill was built and did some work, but was not a profitable

By Courtesy of Frank F. Heighway. County Superintendent of !

Present Cedar Lake Township School

investment. In the spring of 1858 Robert Gray bought the Outlet Mill
property and laid out Graytown ; neither did that village flourish, but
was abandoned aliout 1865. .

Commencement of the "Resort" Business

Again, in that same place, life in another form commenced. In 1877
Christopher Binyon liought the (h-aytown property and erected buildings
to accominodate visitors and boarders, but a notice of this new form of
life belongs to another feature of the township; that is, "Cedar Lake as
a pleasure resort." To this later period also belongs the settlement of
German and Bohemian farmers, some of them large bee-raisers, who


opened farms in the woodlands extending from Red Cedar Lake north-
eastwardly for a couple of miles toward Crow^n Point.

The founding of Creston was largely the result of the collapse of West
Point, but the details relating to it belong more properly to the townships
of West Creek and Cedar Creek, in both of which the village lies.

The beauties of Red Cedar Lake, Avhether viewed from its shores or
the surface of its waters, destined it for a popular pleasure resort, as soon
as it should become familiar to a sufficient number of non-residents to
warrant improvements by the home people. Long before the Monou was
completed along the west shores of the lake (in the spring of 1881) fishing
parties, boatmen and pleasure seekers quite numerous had spied out the
charms of the locality. In fact, Red Cedar Lake had become so well known
by 1859 that one of the most ambitious of all the attempts to satisfy the
tourists and home people was made in that year.

Young America Is Launched

To meet such an apparent existing and increasing demand, Adelbert
D. Palmer, afterward of Creston, in the spring of 1859 contracted with
Obadiah Taylor, a shipbuilder by trade and then on a visit to the county,
to build a double-masted schooner, with cabin and upper decks and
capable of carrying 100 passengers. It was completed and launched the
same summer and named the Young America. The occasion of its launch-
ing was a gala day. A large number of people assembled, speeches were
made, a sumptuous dinner served, and as Young America slid gracefully
out into the lake, it was considered that a new era had also been launched
of benefit to the locality. But it grew unseaworthy and finally stranded
off the coast of Cedar Point.

Other Improvements

The next boat specially used for pleasure seekers was the Lady of the
Lake, which Samuel Love imported from Lake Michigan. It was a much
smaller sailboat than the Young America and was kept busy by excursion
parties for five summers. About this time a clubhouse was built at the
outlet by some conductors on the P. C. & St. L. Railroad and supplied
with a score of rowboats, while Crip Binyon opened a summer hotel at
the same point.

The Railroad at Last

The real life of Cedar Lake as a pleasure resort dates from the pushing
of the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railroad along its western


shores. Since 1881 people have been able to '"get there" easily. A line
was projected as early as 1867 and some grading and bridging were
actually accomplished in 187-4. Then came a suspension of the work, and
it was not until the old Indianapolis, Delphi & Chicago Railroad, with its
successors, had passed to the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago, that
anything decisive was done. The line was then rapidl.y completed, and
with the running of regular trains along the shores of Cedar Lake, in
1881, purchasers of land commenced to appear. Various Chicago men
and other non-residents bought properties on the lake, brought sailboats,
camping parties increased " in numbers and size, several good hotels
were built, excursion trains representing churches and societies made
the shores livel}^, steamers were placed upon the lake and docks were
])uilt ; and Red Cedar Lake was a full-fledged "pleasure resort." As
early as 1881 aliout two hundred boats of different kinds were on the
waters of the lake, and from three to five thousand people would some-
times ''resort" in a week. "Since then," says one who has carefuUy
watched the development of that feature, "buildings have been erected
on both sides of the lake and every summer there are thousands of
visitors. Almost entirely in these later years has that Lake of the Red
Cedars been given up to the devotees of pleasure in the summer time,
and in the winter to the ice business."

Richard Fancher and the Fair Grounds

One of the first to explore the eastern shores of Red Cedar Lake was
Richard Fancher, whose coming to that region in 1835 has been noted.
He selected land around a beautiful little lake in section ^17, about a
mile south of the Robinson and Clark claims, or "Solon Robinson's place."
But Mr. Fancher soon found that there was an Indian claim, or "float,"
on the entire section, and he therefore joined the promoters of Lake
Court House. He had five daughters, who became Mrs. J. C. Nicholson,
Mrs. Alton, I\Irs. Sanford Clark, Mrs. J. Clingan and Mrs. Harry Church.
He lived to a good old age and died at the home of his daughter, jNIrs.
Clingan, in 1893.

The old Fancher claim, which did not "stick," included the present
beautiful fair grounds of the Lake County Agricultural Society. Nature
seems to have fashioned them for the required purpose. In their hollow^ed
center is set the charming and deep Fancher Lake. Around it is the race
track, and surrounding this a range of wooded, gently sloping hills, form-
ing an amphitheater of the required slope and dimensions. The society
was formed in 1851 and the grounds purchased and laid out in 1858,


since which the fair grounds have been the scene of increasing annual
gatherings. Several of the most pleasant and profitable meetings of the
Old Settler Association have been held at the fair grounds, notably the
session of September 3 and 4, 1884, which celebrated the semi-centennial
of the settlement of Lake County.



Southeast Grove — Present Eagle Creek Township — First Settlers
— Southeast Grove Cemetery Society — Grove Schoolhouses —
Literary Wrestlings — The Turners. Dinwiddies and Pearces.

Eagle Creek Township occupies the southeastern corner of Lake
County, its southern half being included in the Kankakee region. Its
surface is a mingling of undulating prairies and pleasant groves in the
northern sections, and of marshes, islands and bottom lands in the
southern portions. The marsh lands, swamps and islands in the Kankakee
district cover substantially twenty-seven sections, and within the town-
ship are nearly twenty-nine sections of high prairie and groves.

Since about 1884, when the draining of the Kankakee lands was com-
menced on a large scale, and by steam dredges and other modern appli-
ances, Eagle Creek Township has become noted for the productiveness of
its soil. The raising of live stock has become especially successful. In
this w^ork of drainage and agricultural development none has been more
prominent than John Brown, the pioneer banker of Crown Point, who
was born in the township and whose father, Alexander F. Brown, was
one of its earliest settlers. One of the largest of the ditches, or drainage
channels, in the region, which crosses Eagle Creek, Cedar Creek and West
Creek townships, was mainly constructed by him and is known as the
Brown Ditch.

Southeast Grove

It was chiefly at and near the Ix-autiful groves of Eagle Creek Town- '
ship that the first settlers of the country clustered, their churches, socie-
ties and schools often taking their names from these charming localities.
The most noted of these were Southeast and Plum groves. When size,
appearance, surroundings and everything else are taken into account,
Southeast Grove is generally accorded the palm for all-around superior-
ity. It is located about four miles southeast of Crown Point, and because
of that direction the name was early applied to it. The grove covers an



area of about one mile, inekuliug p^irts of four sections in the north-
central part of the township.

Present Eagle Ckeek Township

The old Soutli Township was divided into Eagle Creek, Cedar Creek
and AVest Creek townships in 1839, but Eagle Creek did not attain its
present form until the organization of AYinfield to the north, which was
carved from the original Center Township in 1843.

First Settlers

Although trappers and traders had tempoi'arily lived on the islands
and borders of the Kankakee marshes, the first permanent settlers were
residents of the region designated Southeast Grove. To that locality came
Alexander F. Brown in 1837. He secured his land from the Government,
impVoved it industriously and wisely, and became an influential citizen
of the county prior to liis death in 1849. He was killed in a runaway
accident at the age of forty-tive, and left to his widow the care of five
ehildren, one of whom was born after his demise. At the time of the
father's death, the oldest child, a daughter, was twelve years of age, and
John, the second born, was nine. It is to the Latter, who has but just
entered his seventy-fifth year as one of the honored fathers of the county,
that the editor is indebted for the facts dealing with the early settle-
ment and the first settlers of Southeast Grove and Eagle Creek Township,

So far as has yet been ascertained Joseph ^Morris may be considered
the first permanent settler. The date of his coming is uncertain, as the
Claim Register throws no light upon it ; proliabl}^ it was about 1835.
The place of his settlement, however, is known to have been on the east
side of Southeast Grove, at what afterward became the home of George S.
Doak, a well known teacher.

George Parkinson became a settler in 1S36, and in 1837 Orrin Smith,
0. Y. Servis. George Flint and. probably, AVilliam Ketchum took up
homesteads. The last named located near the north of the grove, making
a claim which was entered by Judge Clark, of Crown Point, in 1839.

Judge Clark moved from Crown Point to this grove farm about 1841,
and afterward returned to a farm on the prairie, two miles east of Crown
Point, where he resided during the remainder of his life. In 1850 he
sold that early settled grove place to J. N. Baldwin, and it was sold by his
heirs in 1868 to John Nethery.

The Flint place was near the south part of the grove, and was long
afterward the residence of Tliomas George.


Other settlers were Reverend Thompson, a Scotchman and a Methodist
local preacher ; A. F. Brown and John Brown, Jr., in 1840 ; the Wallace
family and William Brown in 1843; John A. Crawford in 1844. and
Thomas and William Fisher in 1850.

Southeast Grove Cemetery Society

In 1849, Avhen occurred the death of Alexander F. Brown, this grove
community found it needful to set apart a place for the burial of the
dead. This further and businesslike action in the matter will appear from
the following document, copied from the original record :

"At a meeting of the inhabitants of Southeast Grove held at the
schoolhouse in said grove (notice having been given) for the purpose of
forming a cemetery society, John Brown, Jr., was chosen chairman and
Hiram Kingsbury, secretary. It was resolved

"1. This society shall be known as the Southeast Grove Cemetery

'"2. Said societ}" shall be governed by three trustees who sliall hold
their offices until others are elected.

"3. It shall be the duty of the trustees to procure a deed for the lot
now used as a burying ground; also to call meetings of the society for
the purpose of transacting any business they shall deem necessary.

'■4. Said society shall embrace the following territory, to- wit: Sec-
tions 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 ; Township 33, Range 8, in the
county of Lake, State of Indiana.

"John A. Crawford, F. C. Flint and 0. V. Servis were unanimously
elected trustees by the following voters : John Brown, Jr., John Cochran,
Joseph Bray, T. C. Durland, J. E. Durland, F. C. Flint, William Post,
E. E. Flint and AVilliam Ketchum.

' ' Southeast Grove, April 1, 1850. ' '

A deed was obtained according to the third of these resolutions, and
the Cemetery Society, organized in 1850, is still in existence, but, of
course, in new hands, and holds one of the most secure and best located
burial places in the county.

The John Brown, Jr., mentioned as the chairman of the cemetery
society, was a brother of Alexander F. Brown and therefore an uncle
of the John BroMTi still living. He was one of the six sons of John Brown,
of Scotland. John Brown, Jr., never married, and for many years made
his home with the Crawford family west of the Grove and near his farm.


Grove Schoolhouses

Years before that date, a schoolhouse had been found needful, and one
was built of logs not far from the corner of sections 1. 2, 11 and 12. in
the southern part of the grove. There the children of the neighborhood
gathered to receive instruction ; there was the meeting-place of a debating
society, and there was commenced, about 1846, the Grove Sabbath School.

• Courtesy of Frank F. Helghway, County Superintendent ot Schools.

Pli'm Grove School

About 1850 the saiiu' enterprising men who j^rovided a permanent
burial place for the dead built, by subscription, a frame schoolhouse .just
south of where the present building stands — the latter having been built
by the township about 1864. As is the custom in other parts of the county,
these houses have been used not only for day schools and Sunday schools,
but for church purposes, literary societies, lectures and everything else
of an elevating and public nature.

Literary Wrestlings

The Orchard Grove Literary Society, whose members were drawn from
the Cedar Creek neighborhood .just over the township line to the west,


was a keen debating rival of the Southeast Grove organization. Even
as late as the '70s the traditions of the latter were nobly upheld by
such men as J. Q. Benjamin, AV. Brown, John Brown and B. Brown.
A later generation of Southeast Grove debaters arose in Charles Ben-
jamin, son of J. Q. ; Mat Brown and William Brown, sons of William
Brown; E. W. Dinwiddle, of Plum Grove; Thomas Nethery, John Wil-
son, James Turner, Thomas Turner and It. AVilson. Among the yomig
ladies of those times who gave zest to the literary exercises of the South-
east Grove Society were Amy and May Crawford, May Doak, Alice
George, Fanny Nethery, Esther Donahue, Jebbie Stewart and Ruby
Brown and Mary Boj'd.

The contests between the different literary societies of the county have
covered many j^ears and have been held at various points. For instance,
during its earlier and perhaps most vigorous years, the Southeast Grove
Society has responded eagerly to challenges and upheld its "side of the
question'* with credit, at Crown Point, Cedar Lake, Hobart and other
places in the southern and central parts of the county. Such activities
are of the greatest benefit to the residents of rural communities, and no
section of Lake County has developed them more persistently and to
better advantage than the citizens of Eagle Creek Township.

Tpie Turners, Dinwiudies and Pearces

Among the most prominent of the pioneers of Eagle Township were
the Turners, the Dinwiddies and the Pearces. In the general history of
the county's settlement the location of Judge Samuel Turner and his
family on the banks of Eagle Creek, with a mention of the noteworthy
services rendered by various members, is described in other pages of
this work.

John AY. ]]»inwiddie, of the Dinwiddle Clan, was the Eagle Creek
representative. He was born in Ohio and was brought to Porter County,
with other members of his father's family, at an early day. He lived
with his father and sister at Indiantown until he was a young man,
moving to Plum Grove in the late '30s and obtaining in that locality
quite a large tract of land. ]\Ir. Dinwiddle spent a few years of business
life at Crown" Point, but as the pioneer days faded and the railroad
period of more strenuous life commenced, he retired to his Plum Grovo
farm, which he conducted on an extensive scale for a number of years
His prairie and marsh lands covered 3,500 acres, and his comfortable
home was the center of much of the best social, literary and public activi -
ties of the township. For some time he held the office of township trusteo
and built three large frame schoolhouses. He died April 12, 1861, only


forty-seven years of age. The deceased was recognized as one of the
most energetic, prudent and thorough business men and farmers in the
county, an excellent manager, firm in principle and successful in carry-
ing out his plans, and was rapidly advancing in the accumulation of
property when sickness and death came unexpectedly upon him.

IMichael Pearce, also an Ohio man, located a claim about 1838, and
two years afterward married Miss ^Margaret J. Dinwiddle, a sister of
John W. Dinwiddle. He likewise held public office, serving both as
school trustee and justice of the peace, and, like his brother-in-law, died
in 1861. The death of two such men in one year was a severe blow to the

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 44)