William Frederick Howat.

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

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was born in 1840 on the family homestead at Southeast Grove, a detailed
account of his life and services falls in a later portion of this history.

Settlement of the West Creek Neighborhood

The Jacksons and the Farleys, related by marriage, settled in what
was known as the West Creek neighborhood in the same busy year of
1837. They were New England people by birth and residents of New
York before they migrated to JMichigan and thence to Lake County. In
the spring of 1837 Joseph Jackson located his claim on West Creek; in
the summer returned to it with his son Clinton and the latter 's family,
while in October he started from Monroe County, Michigan, with his own
family. They came with teams and were nearly three weeks on the way.
Mr. Jackson took with him some dry goods and groceries and opened the
first store in that part of the county. In 1838 a schoolhouse was built,
and one of the family. Miss Ursula A. Jackson, became teacher of the
first school in what is now West Creek Township.

After several years of farm life the family moved to Crown Point,
erected buildings, kept hotels, and the father, J. Jackson, was the first
county auditor. After a residence in this county of nearly twenty years,
in the spring of 1857 he moved to Iowa. For two terms he was mayor of
the City of Wapello and lived to be nearly ninety-five years of age.


Some English Settlers

In 1837 a uuiuber of English settlers located in the northeastern part
of the county, above the prairie region and mainly in what are now Calu-
met and Hobart townships. Jonas Rhodes took up land on the sandy
ridge and the wooded growth of what is now Calumet Township, near
Glen Park. The five Hayward brothers settled not far south of Hobart.

German Catholics of St. Johns Township

Too much praise cannot be given the German settlers of Lake
County for their sturdy pioneer work. The first of their race to appear
as a home-seeker and a home-finder was John Hack, a Prussian, who, in
the spring of 1837, located on the western limit of Prairie West, near
the present Town of St. Johns.

In 1838 the four families of Joseph Schmal, Peter Orte, Michael
Adler and Matthias Reder came from Germany together and settled near
th^ large Hack family. Others soon followed. These constituted the
nucleus of the large Catholic settlement in what is now St, Johns Town-
ship. In 1843 on the Hack land was erected and consecrated a Roman
Catholic chapel and regular religious services were held from that time

Adam Schmal, one of the sons of the pioneer, became prominent in
local politics, and for two terms held the office of county treasurer.

German Lutherans op" Hanover Township

In 1838 Henry Sasse, Sr., H. Von Hollen and Lewis Ilerlitz made
their homes northwest of Red Cedar Lake, the pioneers of that large
colony of German Lutherans who have settled in Hanover Township and
advanced both its agricultural and moral interests. Mr, Sasse bought
the Cox and Chase claims, and i\Ir, Herlitz the Nordyke lands. Several
children of these pioneers— Messrs, Sasse and Herlitz had married sisters
— became prominent citizens of Crown Point.

The increase of immigration and building which had been especially
noticeable since the organization of the county in 1837 made sawmills
and bridges most important adjuncts to the proper development of the
country. Four of the earliest mills are accredited to the year 1838, called
from the names of their builders, Walton's, Wood's, Dustin's and Tay-
lor's. The Wood mill, at AVoodvale, furnished the most lumber.


Early Sawmills and Bridges

Bridge-building really commenced in the mill-year of 1838, the two
industries being closely related. "One who looks over the county now,
especially in the summer time, seeing here and there a ditch, but very
little flowing water, can have no correct idea of our streams in the early
days when, free and bridgeless, in the spring and often in midsummer,
the Calumet and Turkey Creek, Deep River and Deer Creek, Eagle
Creek, Cedar Creek and West Creek, were sending off their full flow
of water to the distant Atlantic, some through Lake Michigan and some

Old Style Saw ]\Iill

southward through the Kankakee to the Mississippi and the Gulf. The
stream called West Creek, with its wide marsh, its springs, and its
quicksands, formed, until bridges were built, an impassable barrier for
anything like travel. The horseman was in danger in many places if he
tried to urge his horse across.

"Two bridges were built in this year (1838) of lumber across Deep
River, a short distance northeast of Lake Court House, costing $500.
These were built by Daniel May and Hiram Nordyke. That bridges were
needed across this river was evident, for in the midsummer of 1837 a
:very large horse draAving a buggy in an attempt to ford the marshy
stream, went down, probably into quicksand, leaving only his head out
of water, and only by the rapid exertion of his driver, who plunged at
once into the water, was separated from the buggy and helped upon his
feet, regaining the dry prairie on the further side. ' '


1838 First Year of Bridge-Building

Over West Creek, near the Wilkinson home, a bridge costing $400 was
built by N. Hayden ; across Cedar Creek, near the Le^Yis Warriner place,
another was erected by S. P. Stringham and R. Wilkinson at an expense
of $200, and still another by Amsi L. Ball, at B. Wilkinson's crossing,
near the Porter County line, at a cost of $400. Thus, in the first year
of bridge-building it appears that for five very needful bridges the amount
of $1,500 was laid out. The money came from what was known then as
the Three Per Cent fund.

Coming of Samuel Turner and Wife

None of the early settlers were useful and influential in more and
better ways than the Turners of Eagle Creek. The Scotch-Irish blood
in the family gave its members both perseverance and vivacity; made
them both steadfast and popular; the people had confidence in them and
were not disappointed in their performances.

The first of the family to come to Lake County was Samuel Turner,
who was bom in County Tyrone, Ireland, in March, 1782. In 1810 he
was married at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and in 1833 became a resident
of Laporte County. But that part of Indiana was too settled for a
poor man, and in 1839 Mr. Turner, his wife and various members of his
family became permanent settlers on Eagle Creek. Other settlers near
them at that time were D. Sargeant, John Moore, A. D. McCord, George
Smith, A. Goodrich and Mrs. Mary Dilley.

Samuel Turner's granddaughter, Mrs. S. J. Monteith, says of this
advent of the Turner family: "The toilsome journey from Pennsyl-
vania was over and for a time our weary feet found rest in Door Village,
Laporte County. Fair and beautiful it lay before our eyes, but we were
poor and must press onward to fields yet uncultivated and almost un-
sought. Thus Samuel Turner and wife journeyed on, and spent the
summer of 1838 in the southern part of Lake County, locating their farm
on the banks of the little winding stream afterward called Eagle Creek.
In the fall they went back to Laporte County, sending in their stead the
young people of the family, as better able to endure the hardships of a
pioneer winter. ' '

Among these sturdy young people was a son, David Turner, then
in his twenty-second year; his father, the leader of the colony, was

The parents came to reside permanently on the claim which the young
people had held on Eagle Creek in 1839, and Samuel Turner's popularity


became soon manifest by his election to the office of justice of the peace.
In 1842 he was chosen associate judge. His stay in the county and in
this world was all too brief, for he died in 1847. But the few years of his
residence had endeared him to a wide circle.

The first Judge Turner was not only a man of sound traits, but he
had a very kind heart and was ever endeavoring to sei*ve his neighbors;
in fact, it could be said of him as of few on this selfish earth — he seemed
to love his neighbor as himself. An illustrative incident: For several
years there was no cabinet shop nearer than Valparaiso, and having
learned the use of carpenter tools, he was called upon to make all the
coffins used in the neighborhood, frequently taking lumber from the
chamber floor of his cabin for that purpose, and always without charge.
His good wife and children remained to carry on the work of contributing
to the growth of a virtuous community.

Judge David Turner

David Turner seemed especially adapted for such a work of duty and
love. He succeeded his father to the justiceship in 1842, when in his
twenty-sixth year; was elected probate judge in 1849, state representa-
tive in 1854 and state senator in 1858, and was appointed by President
Lincobi United States assessor in 1862. For many years he lived a very
active and useful life at Crown Point, and died February 14, 1890. in his
seventy-fourth year.

All of the Turners have been supporters and promoters of religion,
and David Turner was particularly active in Sunday school work. He
married Caroline Bissell in 1844, and ten children w^ere born to their
union — all in Crown Point. The second born and first daughter is
Sarah J., who married Rev. T. W. Monteith and who has written much
interesting local history, and the seventh born, and the second and last
son, is A. Murray, the well known banker of Hammond. The details
regarding various members of the Turner family, who came into Lake
County so early and are still faithful to its best advancement, will be
found in other portions of this history.

Squatter's Union Protects Settlers

The most important event to the bona fide settlers of Lake County
was the first sale of public lands, which occurred at Laporte on March 19,
1839. Their purchase by the Government from the Pottawatomies and
tlieir survey into townships and sections has already been noticed, as
well as the formation of the Squatter's Union in 1836. That organiza-


tion had jealously protected the titles of those who sought homes, as
against the schemes of speculators, wh-o in other new counties of the state
had often seized the properties of those who had made homestead im-
provements upon the basis of "squatters' rights."

The Squatter's Union of Lake County did not propose that this
injustice should occur within its domain. The actual settlers were not
prepared to pay more than the Government price for their lands — that
is, $1.25 an acre — and the members of the union bound themselves to
stand by each other on the basis of that purchase price. Article II of
its constitution read : ' ' That if Congress should neglect or refuse to pass
a laM-, before the land on which we live is offered for sale, which shall
secure to us our rights, we will hereafter adopt such measures as may
be necessary eft'ectually to secure each other in our just claims. ' '

At the time the sales were held in Laporte the Squatter's Union had
mustered a determined membership of some tive hundred, w^ho chose
delegates to represent them at the bidding. Solon Ro])inson was selected
to. represent one township, William Kinnison another, and A. McDonald
the third. The last-named l)ecame a prominent lawyer, the first at Crown
Point, where he had settled during the year of the sales ( 1839 ) .

The record is that no speculators interfered with the rights of the
squatters; that "the sale passed off quietly, and the sons of Lake returned
peacefully to their homes. "

Thus, with Lake County secure in its civil organization and the
settlers fully protected in the titles to their homes, the pioneer period
closes with a substantial guarantee for the future.



Bartlett AA^oods — A Pioneer Picture — The Cabin and Its Furniture
— Fellow Feeling that Made Us AVondrous Kind — jMarvelous In-
dustry — Reasons for Slow Growth — Lack op Transportation —
First Free Soil Meeting — Historic Relics op Lake County
Pioneers Presented by T. H. Ball, AIrs. AI. J. Dinwiddie, T. A.
. MuzzALL, Lewis G. Little, AIrs. AI. J. Hyde and Others — Con-
densed Account op the Semi- Centennial — AVhat op the 1934
Gathering? — AIrs. S. J. AIonteith's AIemories — A Lonesome
Pioneer Sister — Honey Exchanged for Apples — An Old Letter
OF 1843 — The Immortal " Thanatopsis " — Aunt Susan Turner —
Recollections of James H. Luther — The Old Stage Routes —
First of the Calumet Industrial Region — First County Elec-
tions — North Township Bounded — Early Figures for North and
HoBART Townships — Six Early Years Covered by T. H. Ball — Dis-
covery of Robinson's Prairie — The First Colony at Crown Point
— Turning of the First Furrow — Additions to Original Colony —
Hamlet Growing into a Village — Postopfice of Lake Court House
— Town Site Regularly Purchased — Lake Court House, the
County Seat — Named Crown Point — Settlers around Red Cedar
Lake — The Hervey Ball Place — The Von Hollen and Herlitz
Families — The Taylors — David Agnew Frozen to Death.

AVhen a well educated, broadly intelligent and keenly observant man,
also active and sympathetic, resides in one county for sixty-five years,
naturally he has noticed many important and interesting human beings
and events. Such was the good fortune of Bartlett AVoods and Lake
County, and no one more firmly intrenched himself in the respect,
admiration and affections of the people generally than the able, energetic
and big-hearted Englishman who came to them as a youth, when the
country was green and raw, and left them as their Old Alan Eloquent,
with white hair but still mellow soul.



Bartlett AA^oods

Bartlett Woods was born in England and reared in Hastings. In
1837, while the county was still in its infancy, he crossed the ocean with
his elder brother Charles, the younger being at that time in his twentieth
year. They selected land between Merrillville and Ross, and that locality
was Bartlett Woods' homestead for many years. After he had become
"comfortable in estate" — he was always contented in mind — and widely
known as a public speaker and writer, he moved with his wife and young-
est daughter to Crown Point,

Young Woods had received in England such an education as became
a postmaster's son; his father had been postmaster at Hastings for a
period of forty years, which, in the Old Country, was sufficient to give
the entire family a high standing. An earnest reader and deep thinker,
he was also a natural speaker and a graceful writer, and within a decade
after settling in Lake County was recognized as one of its coming men.
His public life commenced in the fall of 1848, when he was thirty years
of age, the occasion being the first free soil meeting in Lake County.

A Pioneer Picture

Nearly a decade before Mr. AVoods had come to Central Lake County
as among the first of the pioneer colonists, and more than forty years
afterward, when president of the Old Settlers' Association, was writing
in this strain : ' ' The pioneer family had come, the wagon covered for
the journey their only shelter. A cabin is to be built, the nearest timber
is sought for, the axes wake up the stillness of a thousand years, only
broken before by the whoop of the Indian or perhaps by that mysterious
race that may have lived here even before the Red Man came. The
advent of civilized life has begun, the logs are hauled by the oxen that
brought them here, neighbors lend a helping hand, and then, the raising.
All the neighbors around are invited — few there may be, but all come.
The best choppers are chosen to carry up the corners, log after log goes
up even to the roof; no rafters, no shingles — but instead of shingles,
shakes two feet long rived out of a white oak log, and poles put on the
shakes to keep them in place. Not a nail was necessary ; even the door
was hung with wooden hinges. Dinner was provided, good feeling ruled ;
whiskey was passed around during the raising, and few thought at that
day that it was any great breach of temperance propriety to drink with
the rest, wishing success, health and happiness to the new comers.


The Cabin and Its Furniture

' ' The chimney was a curiosity. Brick was out of the question. It was
a stick chimney laid up square and the sticks split out as near like lath
as possible. Clay mortar was laid on with each lath, the whole carried
up above the peak of the roof. The jambs and inside and the hearth
were all clay, kept in place by logs outside. All was plastered inside and
out with clay mortar and the chimney was completed.

"Of furniture in the sense we understand it now, there was very
little. I do not remember any of the pioneer cabins having a cooking
stove or a carpet. No sewing machines; nothing like that of today to
lighten woman's labor. The fireplace at one end wide enough for a log
fire, the kettle swinging on the crane, the bake kettle, the spider and the
frying pan, comprised about all the cooking utensils of the household.
A table made from the best material on hand, sometimes shakes, a few
splint-bottom chairs, a bench or two ; some had bedsteads ; but it was no
uncommon thing to see a bedstead made of poles, the ends driven into
the logs and one leg out in the room holding up the ends of the poles.
With an axe and a few tools, a one-legged bedstead could be made in a
few hours. No locks or bolts on our doors ; no fastenings of any kind.

Fellow-Feeling that Made Us "Wondrous Kind"

"Civilization and culture claim to have made great strides; so they
have, but in our condition we had some compensating advantages. In
those small beginnings, without much capital to start, the poverty of
that day was clean and respectable. There were no tramps. There was
no fear of the modern burglar. Simply as a way to fasten the door when
shut, was the latch ; and this was always of wood with a string attached ;
so that it became a saying, when speaking of the generous hospitality of
the squatters, that their latch string was always out. And it was ; to all
that came, there was a greeting and welcome. This feeling was the result
of a mutual dependence at raisings, joining teams, and in every way in
which w^e could help one another. In health or in sickness, this trait
of fraternal feeling always prompted to the most neighborly interests
and kindly offices, and was to us a source of much comfort and happi-
ness. Our isolation and trials would have been almost unbearable with-
out that fellow feeling that made us 'wondrous kind.' Sympathy, that
divinity that lives in its purity amidst poverty, trials and trouble, came
out in its grandest devotion in the hours when sickness and death came to
our homes. Pomp and wealth and luxury have come to many in our
land, but not in the reveling of w^ealth or the splendor of its surround-


ings can often be found the beauty of this sympathy and kindness,
which grew up and was a bahn and a helper to the pioneers in their
humble cabins in the wilderness. Fashions there were none. The cut
of a coat or the style of a bonnet did not occupy a thought. The mothers
and wives and daughters of the pioneers had no money to waste, or
time to trouble themselves with the frivolities of fashion.

Marvelous Industry

"Let one who shares their sorrows and their joys this day, bear wit-
ness that to them this generation owes a debt of gratitude which too few
appreciate and Avhich can hardly be fully repaid. Their industry was
marvelous. They spun, doubled and twisted, made stockings and mittens,
attended to the baby or swung it up to the baby jumper made of a
hickory pole, fashioned their own clothing— the sun bonnet for summer
and the hood for winter — and the children's clothes, made the quilts
and coverlets — everything nearly worn by the family except the boots
on our feet. All this was the work of the pioneer women, besides the
cooking, washing and miscellaneous duties. A few exceptions there
might have been, but in the main this held true. They had a mission, a
work to do, and they bravely did it.

Eeasons for Slow Growth

"I should do an injustice to the pioneer history of Lake County, were
I to omit stating the reasons for the slow growth after the first settlement.
The majority of the first settlers lacked means, a want of capital was
the day of small beginnings. The man was rich Avho owned a breaking
team. Some had a yoke of oxen, very few had horses, but many had
neither. No one had pastures ; everything was turned out, and the tinkle
of the bell led many a wanderer to a settler's cabin. Hunting the oxen
on foot through the wet tall grass and sloughs in the early morning was
anything but pleasant. Often finding them late, made plowing slow
work, and a wooden mold board on the plow made good work impossible.
No steel plows then. Harrows of the most primitive kind — many home-
made, with wooden teeth ; no mowers, no reapers, no separators like our
modern threshing machines; pitchforks rude an^ clumsy, made at the
nearest blacksmith shop ; all our implements would be looked on today as
relics. Only one tool has held its own, and that is the American axe.
It has been the pioneer's friend, and has been with him and one of his
best helpers in all his labors from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


Lack of Transportation

"And then, after working and waiting for years and when at last
we did raise something to sell, our means of transportation was so im-
peded by bad roads that it cost nearly all it was worth to get it to market.

'•For fifteen years — not calculating from 1834, but from 1835 — we
had no connection with the outside world east, except by steam and
sailing vessels on the lake, or by the mail coach, or by private conveyance.
As winter closed in on us, lake navigation ceased and the only public
conveyance was by the mail coach between Detroit and Chicago. For
fifteen years we Avere almost an isolated community, at times making a
four days' trip with oxen to Chicago; and at that day Chicago was a
land-locked town six months in the year.

"Capital had very little to do with our early growth, for compara-
tively speaking there was none : what progress was made was by hard
knocks and constant labor. In 1850 the railroads came and opened up
to us the world and a market the year around. ' '

First Free Soil Meeting

Two years before the railroads came to Lake County Mr. Woods came
into prominence as a free soiler, and, as stated, has written an interesting
account of the first meeting held in that cause, during the month of
September, 1848. lie was one of the secretaries of that pioneer meeting,
and afterward made arrangements to go out with Alexander McDonald,
the Crown Point lawyer, and deliver free soil speeches. Later he did
much to establish republicanism in the county and in 1861 and 1865
represented the young party in the State Legislature.

Mr. Woods' commencement of his own public career is as follows:
' ' The War was over. Mexico as a basis of peace ceded a large area of
territory. Should these new acquisitions be slave or free? The time
had come to make a determined stand against the aggressions of the
slave power. The year 1848 opened with ominous forebodings of a
struggle. The democratic party had become the mere instrument of
Calhoun and the Southern leaders. The whig party made no decisive
blow for freedom, was trimming and vacillating, dominated by the spirit
of concession and compromise. Neither of the old parties represented
the anti-slavery sentiment, and so a new party sprung into existence—
the free soil party. ' No more slave territory, no more slave states, ' was
the answer of this new party to the demands of Slavery. The excite-
ment Avas intense. Earnest citizens from both parties, whigs and demo-
crats, joined in the movement. 'Free soil; free speech; free labor and
free men,' was their campaign cry.


"Early in September bills were posted all over this county stating:
'All those opposed to the further extension of slavery and who are in
favor of the admission of California as a free State are requested to
meet at the Court House in Crown Point on Saturday, September 16,

"The day for the meeting came and the log Court House was well
filled. Judge Clark, Alexander ^IcDonald, Wellington Clark, Alfred

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 44)