(Re: History of DeKalb County, Indiana; B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc. Indianapolis , 1914; pages 143 to195
Submitted by: Arlene Goodwin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pages 143 to 149
The township of Wilmington lies in the east central portion of the county, and is bounded on as follows: On the north by Franklin township, on the east by Stafford, on the south by Concord, and on the west by Grant and Union. S. B. Ward, a pioneer minister, thus described the township: "It is a second rate township in quality of soil, taking it together, yet it has some first rate land in it, especially along ‘Big Run.’ A considerable stream running across the north side of the township. For fine oak timber, there is no township in the county that surpasses it." The timber, except the second growth, is largely cleared away now, and the land has developed into very fair agricultural ground. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Vandalia of the Pennsylvania system, and the Wabash railroads all cross the township, meeting at Butler, in the northeast corner.
Wilmington township was organized on September 5, 1837, at the first regular meeting of the board of commissioners. The board then consisted of Peter Fair, Samuel Widney and A. F. Beecher, who "ordered that the congressional township 34 north, range 14 east, be and it is hereby, organized as a civil township, to be known by the name of Wilmington Township." They also directed "that Bryon Bunnel be appointed supervisor for the road district No. 1, compromising the whole of Wilmington township and all the lands residing in the said township shall be allotted to the same district." In March, 1838, fractional township 34 north, range 15 east (now Stafford), was added to Wilmington for judicial and civil purposes, and a new election was ordered the first Monday in April following, at the house of Ira Allen, with Milton A. Hull as inspector.
Wilmington township was not settled in the year 1835, no white man yet having seen fit to throw up a cabin there. The year 1836 saw the building of the first log cabin by Byron Bunnel; Mr. Lonsberry’s house was the next, and George Egnew’s next. In 1837 these cabins were in the portion allotted to Wilmington when the county was organized and township lines established. Two of these cabins were situated on the Newville and Auburn road, and one was called at an early date the Bunnel place.
The first resident settler of the township was undoubtedly Ira Allen, who came in the very early months of 1837 and pitched a cloth tent on an oak hill on the east side of the township. In that tent he remained several weeks until he constructed a commodious house, composed of oak logs hewed square and notched down closely. His hardships in clearing his land and building a home for himself made him a broken man. As an instance of these hardships that ruined his health, the following is quoted verbatim from "Pioneer Sketches:"
"Some time in October, 1837, Mr. Allen went out to hunt his cattle, of which he had a number, and after finding them far out in the apparently interminable woods and swamps to the north and west, he started home with them. On the way one of his work oxen mired down. After laboring hard in the mud and water for some time, --the other cattle in meantime getting scatted in the woods again—he started for his tent, but failed in reaching it, and lay out through the night, cold and frosty as it was, and wet and muddy as he was. The next day John N. Miller, and early settler of the same township, while making his way through the wilderness to the land he had entered, heard someone hail him away out where he was not looking for a human being, and on going where the voice came from, he found Mr. Allen and his boys laboring to get the ox out of the mire, it having lain there all night an until the afternoon of the next day. They had forgotten to bring an ax, and had to cut a pry by bending down a sapling and cutting it off with a pocket knife, while the fibers of the wood were thus strained. Getting this pry under the beast they finally raised him from his sunken condition, but had to roll him several times over before he could find firm footing."
The large block house erected by Mr. Allen was long used as a meeting-house as well as a dwelling, and here in an early day was held many a prayer meeting or Sunday worship.
Other settlers who came in 1837 were: Lot B. Coe, William P. Means, Charles Handy, Dr. Sawyer and several more. The pioneers began to get within striking distance of each other, as it were, and a means of social intercourse were established, thus making the nights something more than dark, gloomy spaces of time, with the mingled howls of the wind and prowling wolves. Charles Handy was the first blacksmith in the township, and settled at what was later called Handy’s Corners. Amos Lonsberry was the first white child born in the township. At the close of 1837 twenty-two families were settled within the boundaries of Wilmington township. The first marriages was that of Dan Coats and Mary Allen. Washington Robinson performed the ceremony in January, 1836.
A HARD WINTER
From the pen of Rev. S. B. Ward the following is taken:
"The winter of 1842-3 will long be remembered by the early settlers of the county, and especially those of Wilmington township. In 1841 and 1842 quite a number of settlers of small means came in, and they had raised but little to live on when the ‘hard winter set in. the fall had been fine, but about the first of November a light snow fell, which mostly went off soon after. On the 17th of the month it set in cold, with high winds and some snow. The snow continued to increase from time to time, until it was nearly two feet deep on the level, with occasional showers and hard freezes, so that it was almost impossible to get about. It snowed a little every day but one through February, and March came in with the severity almost of a polar winter. By this time most of the hay and gain was consumed, and hogs and cattle were daily dying all over the country from starvation. Some settlers lost all their hogs and most of their cattle before feed came in the spring. Very many had to depend on the browse of the tree tops as feed for their cattle for the last two months of cold weather. For the last few days of March, however, even this provision of nature was cut off. When all were anxiously looking for the opening of spring, heart-sick in view of the sufferings of the poor dumb animals, the sleeper in his lone cabin in the midst of the forest was awakened on the night of the 27th of March by the continual crashing of the tree tops, which did not cease until day dawned, when to the dispirited immigrant was revealed the cause of all the commotion of the night.
"It had been raining---freezing as it fell—until the trees tops were broken under their load of ice. That day and for several days it seemed that the cattle must all die; for when the trees were cut down for browse, the small twigs, encased in a hard coat of ice, would break off, with the ice adhering, and mingled with the snow. Besides this, the crust on the snow was so thick and hard the cattle could hardly get about. The wild animals also suffered almost as much, seemingly, as the domestic ones. It was nothing unusual to see squirrels so reduced as to be easily caught by hand. On Election day (first Monday in April) snow was one foot deep in the thick woods, and it was good sleighing on most of the roads. That week, however, sent the snow in another form to Lake Erie or the Gulf of Mexico, and in a few weeks herbage began to appear, and hope sprang up again in the settler’s heart."
The first election was held at Ira Allen’s, on the farm afterwards owned by William Crooks. Says a pioneer: "As our township was in limited circumstances as to population, and most of them had the ague, and it took two of them to make a shadow and even then they could not go to the polls, we had to apply to Stafford township to help us fill up the board, and both townships held elections together at the above place and elected the several officers. Among them were William P. Means, for county assessor, and Mr. Lonsberry, for school commissioner. I don’t recollect the balance of the officers that were elected in those days; we had not much use for squires nor constables, but I think Ariel Walden was elected associate judge for the court of this county. The first justice of the peace elected was a Mr. Pearsons."
Early justices of the peace were: Charles D. Handy, Moses L. Pierson, Daniel B. Mead, P. B. Nimmons, John Moore, Dr. Madden, Ezra Dickinson, Richard Worth, L. A. Benedict and H. C. Colgrove. Constables were: Daniel Coats, H. N. Mathews, Jesse Wood, William K. Streight, William Mathews, William Campbell, Edsall Cherry, Noble Cherry, Peter Kester, A. F. Packer, Hiram Freeman, N. W. Delano, Isaac Eakright, W. D. Armstrong, Joseph Norris and John Weaver. Trustees prior to 1860 were: John Helwig, M. L. Pierson, Collins Roberts, Joseph Nodine, Joseph Totten, Asa Sawyer, S. B. Ward, Thomas Fosdick, E. W. Fosdick, Edgar Treman, William Maxwell, Nelson Smurr, Andrew Smith, William H. Thomas, Dr. Madden, Lot B. Coe, N. G. Sewall, G. Maxwell, W. K. Streight, P. B. Nimmons, W. D. Armstrong, and A. Cochran.
In 1880 the population of Wilmington township was one thousand five hundred and twenty-nine; in 1890, three thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight; in 1900, three thousand two hundred and ninety-seven; and in 1910 three thousand.
During the war of the Union, Wilmington was very loyal, being of the first to respond to the call for three months’ men, and every call that was made by the government was met by her quota. The draft was never resorted to in this township.
In 1856 the township was "boomed" considerably by the construction of the air line of the Michigan Southern railroad, and the consequent growth of Butler, at first called Norristown. A market was opened for surplus agricultural products, prices went up, and there was a consequent improvement of the lands and equipment of the farmers. The construction of second railroad in 1872, and the Wabash in 1892, gave a clinch to the prosperity, and this progressive township had continued to grow ever since.
The town of Butler was originally called Norristown in honor of one of the early settlers of Wilmington township, Charles Norris. It is located in the northeast corner of the township, on section 1, 2, 11 and 12. At this town the Wabash, the Vandalia of the Pennsylvania system and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern have a junction, thus adding a great amount of value to the town as a shipping center. Access is also provided thereby to other points of the county in any direction, and to the outside world. In 1880 the population of Butler town was approximately thirteen hundred; in 1890, it had jumped to two thousand five hundred and twenty-one; in 1900, there were two thousand sixty-three inhabitants; but in 1910, the latest census, there were only one thousand eight hundred and eighteen.
As early as the year 1844 the settlers in the vicinity of the present site of Butler had their postoffice at a point two miles south of the incorporation at Oak Hill, the office being conducted by Thomas Fosdick. In 1842 Egnew, Hanes, Cherry, Morris, Tomlinson and others erected a school house on the land of George Egnew, and this proved to be the first house in Butler. There was a dwelling house built in 1844 by Mr. Brainard. In 1851 a small merchandise stock was sold from a log hut standing on the southwest corner of land owned by Charles Norris, and was sold by "Ladd" Thomas and Osburn Coburn. The first frame structure was raised on the later site of the Haverstock block, in 1855. In 1870 the wooden building was totally destroyed by flames. The second frame structure was constructed by Noble & Madden and used as a general store. At this juncture the postoffice was moved to the village, which was given the name of Norristown, after Charles Norris, a real estate promoter of the place. Later the village was know as Jarvis, and about the time of the Civil war the name of Butler was adopted, and has existed since.
Butler’s first railroad, the Air Line, was completed May 26, 1856, and in October, 1873 the Eel River road, later the Wabash, arrived. The first tavern was kept by John Shull, and on July 4, 1857, A. A. Kennedy first opened the Waverly House. The first saw mill was erected by Messrs. Danforth, Carpender and a third party during the winter of 1853-54, and was destroyed by fire in 1884. The first brick building was put up by Henry Linderfer in 1856. The first death occurred in 1848, and was that of A. Robe, who lived on the later site of Dr. Madden’s residence. Henry C. Cherry, born December, 1841, was the first person born in Butler, and the first marriage was that of Amasa Smith to Amelia Morris, the ceremony being performed by Elder Cherry.
The town was incorporate as a town in the year 1866, with W. P. Carpender, J. A. Campbell and Elihu Ocker as trustees, A. A. Howard as clerk, and William Thomas as marshal. Butler at present is a city of the fifth class, with a population of two thousand people. The towns was incorporated as a city in May, 1903, Sam G. Stone, druggist, was the first mayor, but he resigned before the completion of his term. The remainder of the time until the next election was filled by John Hazlett and Otto Gengnagel. Wallace Webster was the next mayor, and the present incumbent is Walter J. Mondhank. The other officers of the city now are: F. H. Ritter, city attorney; L. C. Buehrer, clerk; C. W. Campbell, treasurer; Frank Creager, Ora Waterman, Charles Noragon, S. M. Ramey, Eugene Oberlin, councilmen, and William Holtzberg, marshal.
The Butler electric light and water works is a municipal establishment, with three hundred patrons in the city. Th plant is worth sixty thousands dollars. They have one hundred and ten street lights, including twenty-four ornamental posts, with three lights each. Fire plugs to the number of forty-two are placed at advantageous points in the city.
There are three miles of sanitary sewerage in Butler, with the outlet in Big Run creek. Two miles of brick paving add greatly to the appearance of the city.
THE BUTLER COMPANY
The Butler company, manufacturers of wind mills and buggies, is one of the largest concerns of its kind in the county, and in fact, in the state. The company was established in 1888, and has grown rapidly until the present time, and now has prospects of even greater scope of industry and trade. Besides a line of buggies, the factory turns out wind mills of all types, cypress tanks, galvanized tanks, pumps, valves, and other accessories. About three hundred men are supplied employment by this establishment. Trade is carried on with all parts of the world, quite a brisk business being formed in South Africa. Good railroad connections are afforded by the close proximity of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Wabash and Pennsylvania lines.
Pages 149 to 153
In the southeastern portion of DeKalb county is the township of Concord. This township is bounded on the north by Wilmington township, on the east by Newville township, on the south by Spencer township, and on the west by Jackson township. The St. Joseph river flows in a meandering direction from the northeast to the south west, and Bear Creek, entering in the northwest corner, flows toward the center. In the early day many good mills were situated along these rivers. A saw mill was constructed near the center of the township on Bear creek many years ago, and also one on the stream, known as the "Twenty-six Mile creek." In land, the township is well favored. The river bottom lands are excellent for the production of grain, and at one time extra good timber covered portions of the township. This growth has been largely cleared off at this day. Spencer township had recently been made, on June 7, 1909, from a part of Concord, so that the latter is now the upper half only of the original bounds designated as Concord.
The first name given to the township was DeKalb, in the fall of 1837. It included at that time the territory embraced in Stafford and Newville townships, but in March following Stafford was detached and temporarily added to Wilmington, while the name Concord was substituted for DeKalb. An election was held on the first Monday of April following, at the home of Jared Ball, and Cornelius Woodcox was appointed inspector of elections. At this election Washington Robinson was chosen justice of the peace. Newville was also made a separate township shortly afterward, leaving Concord, which was again divided in half, making Spencer township of the southern half.
On April 9, 1838, Washington Robinson made the first report to the county that was rendered by any justice, as follows:
"State of Indiana, DeKalb County, Concord Township, March 30, 1838,
"This day personally appeared before me, Washington Robinson, a justice of the peace in and for the township aforesaid, Lyman Benton and William Rhodes; being found guilty of an affray by the information of Thomas L. Yates, Judge of the Circuit Court, and confessed themselves guilty, and the cause being heard and inspected, it is therefore considered that the said Lyman Benton and William Rhodes stand convicted in the sum of one dollar fine for each one, making two dollars and fifty cents their cost.
"Given under my hand this 30th day of March, 1838.
"Washington Robinson, J. P."
In the year 1835 nine families out of the ten settled in the county of DeKalb were in the limits of Concord township. The St. Joseph of the Maumee at an early day was a main channel for all commercial traffic, and on the banks of this river were found the earliest settlements of the county. From 1835 to 1839 many settled along the river, namely: Homer Blake, David Butler, John Mathews, Thomas L. Yates, John T. Rhodes, Jerry Rhodes, Daniel Rhodes, Brandt Rood, Cramwell Rood, William Mathews, Mr. Lytle, Jared Ball and several others. In the spring of 1834 Washington Robinson entered a tract of land across the river from the present site of Orangeville, built a small cabin, and settled in January, 1837. In the month of November, 1837, he platted a portion of section 12, and named the tract Orangeville. In the spring of 1837 Platter and others opened the first store in the county. Other early settlers who came later and at this time were: Gavin Hamilton, Lott Herrick, who was the first probate judge of DeKalb County; George Barney, once treasurer of the county; James Hadsell, Cornelius Woodcox, R. J. Dawson, John Blair and sons, William Burley, Charles Wilbur, Joseph Ludwick, Judge Walden, Samuel Widney, John P. Widney, Rev. Benjamin Alton and Dr. Babcock. James Hadsell became one of the most important of the early pioneers, serving as minister of the Disciples church, where he accomplished much in the religious development of his community.
Nelson Ulm, of the band of early settlers, moved here in 1834, and settled on the present site of Spencerville. His account of his early experiences tells of how he helped drive from Fort Wayne in the fall of 1834 the first hogs and cows ever brought to Spencerville, eight hogs and one cow for David Butler, and two cows for Dan Rhodes. Dan Yates, then living at Spencerville, was the first white settler there, for whom Mr. Ulm worked during the fall of 1834 and subsequent winter. During the same winter Mr. Yates sent Mr. Ulm to Fort Wayne to mill, a hazardous proceeding in that day. He took two bushels of corn on a hand sled, making the distance in two days, camping on the bank of the river, near where the Feeder dam later was located, drawing the sled on the ice, the river being the only highway at that time.
In the fall of 1835 he had a big tramp after Yates’ and Rhodes’ horses, which were allowed to roam the woods in search of something to eat. The horses failing to put in an appearance at the usual time, he started to bring them in, striking their trail on Bear Creek, followed them up the river where Newville later stood, crossed the river, left the trail and returned to Daniel Rhodes’, where he stayed all night. Early the following morning he struck the trail and followed the same all day without any success, camping that night near the Maumee river. Awakening in the night he found that the horses in their wanderings came up to where he was then camping. He got up, bridled two of the horses and hitched them to some saplings and then retired. The next morning he started home, leading one horse, carrying gun and knapsack, and striking the St. Joseph river near where Hurch’s mills later stood. In consequence of riding bareback, with heavy load, and it raining all the time, the horse’s back became sore and in time all the hair came off.
Starting for Houlton’s mill on Fish creek in the fall of 1834, after a raft of lumber, Mr. Ulm arrived at the mill, and with the assistance of Mr. Houlton succeeded in getting back without accident. Stopping near the mouth of Buck creek he found the skeletons of two deer, their horns so interlocked that it was impossible to separate them. He supposed that they had been fighting and had become so entangled that separation was impossible, and had so died. From this incident, Mr. Ulm gave the creek the name of Buck creek, and the name still exists.
Following is a list of the early pioneers of Concord township: 1833, Samuel Wasson and David Butler; 1834, Nelson Ulm and Mrs. Polly Rhodes, Jeremiah Rhodes and wife; 1835, Samuel Draggoo, Cynthia Engle, William Knight, Aseneth Ricketts, Henry Robertson; 1836, Samuel Henderson and wife and son William and other children, Jane Lawhead, Charles W. Widney, Mrs. Nancy Wyatt, John Widney, Mrs. Nancy Widney, Elvira Ulm, James H. Abel, Abigail L. Abel, Electa Abel, Mary Hadsell; 1837, Abraham Johnson, Charles Widney, G. W. Woodcox, Solomon Woodcox, Erastus White, Jacob B. White, Ira Picketts, Hugh Wyatt, Jonathan Boyle, Henry J. Abel, Mrs. Samuel Wasson; 1838, H. H. Fales and wife, George Barney, Mrs. Sophia Moody, Milas Rhodes, E. D. White, Susan White, J. M. Lounsberry, Martha Lawhead, Charles M. Coburn; 1839, Isaac Lawhead, James M. Hamilton, S. L. Widney, Nancy Culbertson, Samuel Lawhead; 1840, Eva Lounsberry, Elizabeth Wineland, Hugh Maxwell, Mary Maxwell, Sarah A. Hull, Maria C. Williams, Harlow Gee, Harmon Gee; 1841, O. H. Widney, William Draggoo, Amand Meese, Rebecca Smith, George Maxwell, Betsey A. Leighty, John Wyatt, S. E. Parsons; 1842, Daniel Butler, David Butler, Mary A. Widney, Jane Jenkins, Mrs. Erastus White, Elizabeth Widney, Jacob Dermott, Moses Perry; 1843, Jack Moody, Jonas Emanuel, Benjamin Hursh, Mrs. M. Widney, Robert Culbertson, J. M. Milliman, Mary Milliman; 1844, Margaret Stewart, John Leighty and wife, Sol. Barney, Henry Jenkins, William Leighty, J. D. Leighty, Levi Sechler, Mary Sechler, Lizzie Chaney; 1845, Catherine Silberg, Robert Johnson, Sep. Hull, John W. Dills, George W. Draggoo, Mary Ann Koch, Adeline Showalter, Catherine Jenkins.
Some of the first justices of the peace were: John Blair, Ebenezer Coburn, George Barney, Jeremiah Rhodes, John Bates, Asher Coburn, James Draggoo, Moses Perry, Lorenzo Dawson and Robert Culbertson. Among the early constables were: Gardner Mellindy, W. Munroe, Uriah Miller, Henry Fales, Eben Smith, D. Harrington, James Smith, J. Z. Henderson, Samuel flint, Moses Boyles, John Smith, D. Andrews, Michael Knight, W. R. Drake. Among the first trustees were: Samuel Widney, John Blair, Ebenezer Coburn, Asher Coburn, J. P. Widney, William Henderson, Solomon Shilling, Joshua Nichols, James Hadsell, Asa Fletcher, John F. Coburn, William Munroe, Michael Silberg, John Helmick, Moses Perry, Jonathan Boyles, Bushrod Catlin, Romeo Catlin, W. Horner, James Draggoo, John Shutt and Jacob Dills, Jeremiah Rhodes and John A. Chillis were early assessors.
In 1880 Concord township had a population of one thousand six hundred and twenty-three; in 1890, one thousand nine hundred and twelve; in 1900, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one; and in 1910, nine hundred and fifty-seven.
TOWN OF ST. JOE
Located on the Baltimore & Ohio and Wabash railroads, the little town of St. Joe is enjoying an ever increasing prosperity. There are three hundred and fifty people in this town, and proportionately, the town is equal to any in the middle west in beauty, civic pride, and commercial prosperity. St. Joe was laid out by John and Jacob D. Leighty, on April 20, 1875, being a part of the southwest quarter of section 15, township 33 north, ranger 142. Since then several additions have been made to the site.
In December, 1898, St. Joe petitioned for incorporation as a town, and on January 11, 1899, the election was held to determine the matter of incorporation. The result was incorporation, and since, then, by reason of this wise move, the town has sprung into modern existence, and threatens to grow even larger and better. The present trustees of the town are: William Curie, Henry Hathaway, and William Randall; Thomas Rickett is marshal and street commissioner; Dr. B. F. Sheffer is clerk, and Marsh Andrews is treasurer.
Pages 153 to 160
Keyser township is bounded on the north by Richland township, on the east by Union and Jackson, on the south by Butler, and on the west by Allen and Swan townships, Noble county. The township is drained by several small creeks, tributary to Cedar creek, The Baltimore & Ohio railroad, the Vandalia, and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern cross the territory.
Keyser owes its organization to the construction of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, which lead up to the founding of the town of Garrett on the line between Richland and Butler townships. To avoid having the new town in two townships, the board of commissioners formed a new township at their June term, 1876, when it was "order, directed and decreed by the board that the territory bounded by a line commencing at the northeast corner of section 25, township 34 north, range 12 east, and running from thence west on the north line of sections 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, to the west line of said township of Richland; thence south to the west line of said township 33 north, range 12 east, to the southwest corner of section 7 in Butler township; thence east on the south line of sections, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, to the east line of said township; thence north along the east line of said township to the place of beginning, shall be known by the name and style of Keyser township."
THE CITY OF GARRETT
By J. R. Skilling
The town of Garret was laid out by Beverly L. Randolph, son of James L. Randolph, chief engineer of the Baltimore & Ohio. The original plat of Garrett was recorded at Auburn on April 9, 1875, and named Garrett in honor of John W. Garrett, president of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. The first lot was sold on the 13th day of April, 1875, to Nathan Tarney, which was lot No. 1 in Block No. 18, although previous to this date O. C. Clark had contracted for lots on the southwest corner of King and Randolph streets, where Reyher’s dry goods store and Hershbeger’s grocery stores are situated. O. C. Clark built the first house in Garrett in April, 1875, now owned and occupied by Reyher drug store. The building was first occupied in 1875 by the Lancaster brothers as a dry goods store. The first postoffice was also in this building, on the second floor, and A. W. Pratt was the first postmaster. He appointed T. G. Baylor assistant to hand out the mail, as he was engaged in engineering the construction of the Baltimore & Ohio shops.
O. C. Clark resided two miles west of Garrett, on a farm, and he was one of the first settlers of the county. H. M. Bicknell came over for Kendallville on April 23, 1875, and erected a one-story frame building which he used as a drug store. This was called the Pioneer Drug Store. John L. Davis, of Auburn, F. C. Davenport, Eli Kuhlman, John Robbins, P. K, David and brother were other merchants of 1875, and they prospered in the rapidly growing community. In 1875 T. A. Smith opened up a bakery; Mr. McWilliams, from Virginia, built some frame buildings; Samuel Lemon constructed a two-story frame; Washington Cowen had his office in the later building, on the corner now occupied by Widmer’s block, and Dr. L. M. Sherman acted as his clerk, Sherman was the first physician to locate in the town. Isaiah Decker established the first livery and feed stable in the autumn of 1875 on the southwest corner of Peters and Keyser streets, on square north of the Catholic church. The three-story brick store on the west side of Randolph street opposite the Keyser hotel was built in 1875 by John King, at that time first vice-president of the Baltimore & Ohio, and William Keyser, second vice-president, also built a brick store on the south side of Keyser street, east of the hotel.
The DeKalb House, now the Keyser hotel, a three-story brick structure with twenty-six bedrooms, was built in the autumn of 1875, by the Baltimore Land and Improvement Company. John W. Garvey, a Chicago contractor who constructed the Baltimore & Ohio shops, also constructed this hotel, which was a t once fitted up in the best of style and was opened to the public January 1, 1876, by N. & G. Ohmer, of Dayton, Ohio, with Christ Connecht in charge and Thomas Taggart as clerk.
On July 4th 1876, the Baltimore & Ohio depot was opened to the traveling public. The dining and lunch room was opened by N. & G. Ohmer, with Thomas Taggart in charge. Taggart, noted for his gentlemanly and accommodating deportment to all, continued dealing out the doughnuts, pies and coffee to the railroad boys until 1879, when he bid Garrett farewell. He was afterward county auditor of Marion county, Indiana, mayor of Indianapolis, and Democratic national committeeman for Indiana.
W. J. Frederick, in 1875, built a two-story dwelling, which was destroyed by fire and replaced with another similar structure. Charles Linkenhelt also bought a small piece of land and erected a one-story building thereon. W. S. Perry, John Paul, P. Behler were other early builders. George Cady built a two-story frame building where the postoffice now is, and in this building the first newspaper of Garrett, "The Garrett News," was printed. Gus Thienel opened one of the first saloons in Garrett. There was a jolly set of railroad boys here then. They were ready for fun, and would get it if they had to get it on credit. So Thienel’s conservatory was selected as headquarters for all their "Free and Easys." Thienel bought his beer at Kendallville and the boys would go there and fill up their tanks and then march down street with pieces of paper to represent music, and sing. The early pioneers will remember that the next morning after pay day. Tonnesen’s furniture store now occupies the site of this memorable resort.
We will proceed to mention a few of the early pioneers of our city. Lewis Covell was the first attorney. He came from Kendallville in the summer of 1875 and bought some dry goods and clothing which he first placed in Bicknell’s pioneer drug store till he had a building ready on Cowen street. Mr. M. Zimmer and family, Peter Loth and family, C. S. Eyer were among the first residents.
In the spring of 1875 the land company neglected no mean of stimulating the growth of the place and commenced offering prizes for babies born in the town. Quite a furore was created and about the first of September, 1875, the first claimant appeared. A public demonstration was immediately announced. Special trains were run to accommodate visitors from neighboring towns. John K. Cowen, son of Washington Cowen, who was chief attorney for the Baltimore & Ohio, was here from Baltimore as one of the speakers. A social and jolly dance at the Chicago House in which all participated and enjoyed themselves kept up the excitement until after midnight. The young claimant was presented with a beautiful silver mug with the names "Indiana Garrett Quigley" inscribed thereon. Mr. Quigley, a switchman here in the service of Baltimore & Ohio, was the happy father of the child.
The land company never offered any more prizes for such enterprises, but the rage for babies continued to increase and even doubled up, as the record of Garrett for the first fifteen years will show more twin babies in that length of time than any other town of the same population in the country.
N. Kovniske was the first merchant tailor in town. A. H. Phillips and his brother came here in 1876 and opened a grocery store. M. McNamara was one to the 1875 pioneers. He owned a hardware store on Cowen Street. James Atwater built a two-story frame building in 1875 on the lot which is now occupied by south half of Wagner’s opera house. J. W. Wagner arrived in Garrett in 1875 from Mansfield, Ohio, and purchased lots in the east side Cowen street north of Dr. Thompson’s residence. He built a two-story frame here and ran a saloon. H. Levi was one of the first butchers in Garrett. H. H. G. Upmeyer came to Garrett in 1875 with a small stock of boots and shoes. Gus Upmeyer conducted a dry goods store in ’76 and ’77. There were two lumber yards established here in 1875, one by W. G. Pierce from Michigan, and the other by J. P. Spencer. Thomas Hartford was one of the first settlers in Garrett, coming with his wife and fifteen children, for Elkhart.
As soon as the sale of lots was commenced, in April, 1875, there was a rush made here by the enthusiastic people, all over-zealous with the future prosperity of the new town. The rail farm fences were torn down and scattered, and in some places trees were cut down to make way for the new frame buildings which were hastily and rudely constructed on wood posts and blocks for foundations.
Excitement was so great that a general cry soon went up calling for incorporation. This move was so generally approved that Jackson H. Thompson, a deputy constable, was appointed to take the census of the proposed town. To arrive at this result required three days. The result was a population numbering two hundred and fifty-seven. Immediately after this, a petition for incorporation was presented to the county commissioner, which was granted.
As per announcement in notice, at 9 o’clock on December 18, 1875, a number of citizens collected in the front room of the News building, and organized a board of inspectors. The election was held and resulted in favor of incorporation. Accordingly the town was divided into three wards, and the result of the election presented to the board of county commissioners and they ordered another election to be held on the 8th day of January, 1876, for the purpose of electing officers for the town. The election was held and the following were the town officers chosen: Hiram M. Hogue, Charles Linkenhelt, William A. Pratt, councilmen; Thomas Maloney, clerk; A. H. Putt, assessor; Joseph Hyman, treasurer. The first meeting of the town board was held in Dr. C. E. Pratt’s office, on the corner Keyser and Cowen streets. At this meeting J. R. Skilling was named as the first marshal of the town of Garrett.
Garrett was managed as a town until April, 1893, when it was incorporated as a city by a vote of the people. The last meeting of the town board convened on the evening of May 18, 1893, and the first mayor, Charles W. Camp, assumed office. The city was redistricted, which made a change in the wards from the original districting of December 18, 1875, as follows: The first ward was changed to imply all the territory within the city lying north of the center of King street; the second ward all the territory within the city lying between the center of King and Houston streets; the third ward all that territory within the city limits lying south of the center of Houston street.
GARRETT IN 1913
Garrett at present has a population close to five thousand people, being the largest city in DeKalb county. Upon entering the smoky interior of this city one conceives the impression that he is entering a larger city that Garrett really is. The large population is spread over a wide extent of territory, and the bustle and rush of the people give the composite air to the place. Garrett is progressive, modern and "alive," always looking for something new, the acquiring of which benefits the city and add to the welfare of the people.
As a city Garret was incorporated in 1893 and Charles W. Camp was the first mayor. He continued in office until 1902, when E. B. Thumma took the responsibility. In 1910 the third mayor entered his term: this was W. J. Frederick. M. J. Driscoll served as mayor pro tem when Frederick gave up the office, and in 1910 George Schulthess was chosen. His term expires December 31, 1913, and the mayor then to take office is J. A. Clevenger. The present city officers are: George Schulthess, mayor; W. W. Mounts, clerk and collector; A. J. Little, treasurer; E. M. McKennan, attorney; Phil Holman, engineer; W. A. Duerk, marshal; A. W Beechler, fire chief; J. A Moore, secretary board of health; G. C Scott, superintendent water and light plant. The council is composed of C. C. Lindoerfer, M. J. Driscoll, Leslie Stoner, Isaac Whirledge and Will Franks.
CITY WATER AND LIGHT COMPANY
This important public utility is owned and controlled exclusively by the city of Garrett, and gives fair and impartial service the many patrons of the system. It was established in the year 1896 and cost, when completed, seventy-five thousand dollars. There are nine miles of water mains in the city, and the water is supplied from a system of eight-inch wells which are driven down into a strata of gravel at a depth of from two hundred to two hundred and fifty feet. The water passes the strictest chemical examination. There are forty street lights in Garrett, and fifty ornamental posts with cluster of lights, The boulevard lighting system was installed in the latter part of 1912, and adds a distinct beauty to the streets. There are forty-four five-light posts and six three-light posts. Eight of the posts are placed within each Randolph street block, four on each side. The territory extends from the Baltimore & Ohio to Houston street on Randolph, and from Franklin to Cowen on King street. The three lamp posts are in the first square north of the railroad. The iron post is of the Cutter Commonwealth type. The company maintains fifty-five fire hydrants, located at advantageous points in the city.
In Garrett there are three full miles of street paving. One mile of this is in brick, and the remaining two are constructed of asphalt. There are five miles of excellent sewerage laid under the main streets. The outlet of the city is into Cedar creek, which is the most accessible stream to Garrett, at the distance of four miles, with a thirty foot fall. The gas for the city is supplied by the Indiana Light and Fuel Company of Fort Wayne. This corporation also supplies Auburn and Kendallville.
In October, 1912, Mayor Schulthess and the city council purchased two vacant lots at the corner of Randolph and Keyser streets, with a fifty foot frontage and a depth of one hundred and twenty-five feet, upon which it was proposed to erect a building costing twenty-five thousand dollars that would house the city clerk’s office, and office for the mayor, council chamber, fire department, jail, city scales and public lavatory. The lots were bought at public auction for forty-five hundred dollars.
In November, 1913, the handsome building nears completion. It is of Tudor style architecture and is very attractive. The structure is of brick. A private telephone system connects every office within the building, the heat is supplied by the City Water and Light Company, who force the steam through pipes underground into the building. This is the first heating system of this type in the county. The total cost when completed will approach thirty-one thousand dollars.
The present library in the city of Garrett is of little consequence, containing less than a thousand books. However, a magnificent building is proposed, and will, in all probability be a realization within a few months. The plans have been drawn, the work of re-organization is being hurried. Andrew Carnegie has expressed his willingness to subscribe ten thousand dollars toward the construction of the new library, if the citizens comply with their part of the contract.
SCARED HEART HOSPITAL
For quite a time the erection of a hospital of Garrett was considered by the people of Garrett, particularly the members of the Catholic church. There was talk at one time of the removal of the railroad shops to Defiance, and consequently the building of an expensive hospital was delayed until definite knowledge was forthcoming. This procured, and to the effect that Garrett would retain the Baltimore and Ohio shops, plans were put on foot for the hospital. The Catholic church bought the ground in 1901 and the hospital was constructed in 1902, at a cost of sixty-two thousand dollars. The institution is conducted under the management of the Franciscan Sisters. The equipment and furnishings of this hospital are modern and sanitary; the highest principles of hygiene have been observed in every detail of the work, and the record of the work done is truly one to be proud of. The hospital is managed by the Catholic church.
Pages 160 & 161
Butler township lies in the extreme southwestern corner of DeKalb county. It was six miles square at the beginning, and was organized as a civil township on the 5th of September, 1837. In 1876, however, twelve sections were taken from the northern side for the new township of Keyser, and the township was reduced to the dimensions of four miles by six. It is bounded on the north by Keyser township, on the east by Jackson, on the south by Perry township, Allen county, and on west by Swan township, Noble county. Cedar creek, running across the northeast corner down through the center, and Black creek, running through the western part, supply water to the locality. The soil is very rich for agricultural purposed, although certain small localities are below the standard.
The first regular meeting of the county board of commissioners was held on September 4, 5, and 6, 1837, and was attended by a full board. The second day of the session it was "ordered that the congressional township 33 north, range 12 east, be and it is hereby organized as a civil township." It was also resolved "that Andrew Surface be appointed supervisor for the road district No. 1, comprising the whole of Butler township, and all the lands in said township shall be assigned to the same district." The first election was appointed to be held on the first Monday in April, 1838, at the home of Robert Work.
Among the early pioneers of Butler township were Peter Fair and his two sons, Abram and Charles; Charles F. C. Crouse, George DeLong, and Andrew, Jacob and John Surface. These settlers first came into the township in October, 1834, with a four-horse team and wagon. From Squire Caswell‘s they were obliged to hew their path; Caswell’s place was in Allen county, beyond Huntertown. Much of the way was too narrow to allow their four-horse team to pass. In the same year Lewis Holbrook, Lyman Holbrook, Joseph Stroup, Henry and Michael Miller emigrated into the township and in the spring of 1836 came William Surface, John Gregg and James Bell. Sanford Bassett came in 1838, and John Noel, John C. Clark, John Embry and Henry Fair in ’39. In 1841 George Ensley, of Auburn, moved into the township. The Moodys, Works and Hoffmans were also identified with the early growth of the township.
The first justice of the peace was William Day, and he was elected in April, 1838; George Ensley was the second man to hold this office, which was a very important one in those days. Prior to 1860 other justices were: Silas Hand, George Munroe, William McAnnally, Job C. Smith, G. R Hoffman, O. C. Clark and E. S. Hanson. Early constables were Stephen Clark, Abram Brown, William Young, Peter Simons, Uriah Wigent, David Trussell, James Forbes, Jehu Bricker, James McAnnally, R. B. Showers, John Noel and Martin Bigler. The trustees for the first years were: Jacob Shull, C. Probst, Henry Clark, I. N. Young, P. Simons, John Grube, J. V. Keran, George Munroe, George Ensley, Uriah Wigent, S. Hutchins, J. Clark, G. R. Hoffman, Daniel Hoffman, George Gordon and James Goetchius.
In 1913 Butler township is accounted a progressive and rich township and is well up in the scale with the other fourteen townships of DeKalb county. Discussion of the agricultural, religious, education and other phases of the history is written in the respective chapters of those subjects.
Pages 162 to 164
Fairfield township, owing to its location in the extreme northwestern corner of the county, as the last of the first townships to become settled. Fairfield is bounded on the north by Salem township, Steuben county; on the east by Smithfield township; on the south by Richland, and on the west by Wayne township, Noble county. Indian Lake, on section 29, and Story lake on section 4, besides several small creeks, supply the water for the land, and act as drainage. The nearest communication with a railroad of this county is with the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, along the southern border in Richland township. The surface of the township is somewhat broken, there being a great many hills dotted over the surface. The beauty of the county was unnoticed by the early settlers, as the locality was the last in the line of emigration. Also, much of the land was purchased by speculators in an early day, and this fact served to retard the natural growth. A man by the name of Dedrick entered eleven hundred acres; a Pennsylvania Bank held a tract; and other agencies held ground, all of which were sold through the aid of Wesley Park.
On the date of March 7, 1844, the board of commissioners of the county received a petition reading: "We, the undersigned, inhabitants of the unorganized township of DeKalb county, in consequence of the distance we have to go to elections and the inconvenience of having to go into another township to do township business, do most humbly pray you Honorable Body that you would organize said township at your March session, and order an election for justice of peace, and other officers for the said township; and you petitioners will ever pray." This was dated February 27, 1844, and signed by Rufus R. Lounsberry, George W. Story, A. Ball, Oran B. Story, Miles Allen, C. Allen, George Powell, Benjamin Hunt and Nathan W. Powell, who were all voters in the township.
The Story family, five in numbers, were the pioneer settlers of Fairfield township, and they settled along the northern border, There were Augustus, Frederick, Willard, George and Samuel Story.
Willard Childs, one of the prominent early settlers, started on foot from his home on Onondaga county, New York, and walked through to Fort Wayne, thence to Kendallville, where there were but two cabins, and taking a guide came into DeKalb county, March 4, 1837, the day Martin Van Buren was inaugurated President of the United States. He selected one hundred and twenty acres on section 27, paid for it and then set to work at Fort Wayne to earn enough to take him home. When the land was entered the Storys were the sole occupants of the territory of Fairfield township. Mr. Childs returned in October, 1844, to pay taxes, and to review his purchase, to decide on making the place his home. Settlers had moved in, and in the southeast was David McNabb and family. Farther east was Wilbur Powell, and on the north adjoining was the cabin and clearing of George Powell, the first justice of the peace in the township afterward. In 1846 Childs moved in, and made his home temporarily with Benjamin Chaffee, who sold his place to Childs and made another settlement in the north part of the township. He afterward became postmaster at Corunna. Rufus R. Lounsberry, of Wilmington, William and Isaac Wilsey, D. Rager, Hiram Thomas, Phillip Gushwa, John Shook, Henry and Leonard Hartman, and Miles Allen were also early settlers in Fairfield township.
After this came a lull in the settlement, which extended until 1850, at which time a new influx of settlers came, and building and clearing started with a rush. Log rolling and raising took up much of the time.
Prior to 1860 the justices of peace in Fairfield were: D. Rager, R. Worrell, Jesse Brumback, Job C. Smith, S. Greenamyer, George Powell and William Harper. The constables for the same period were: Samuel Story, J. Hatch, George Rowe, D. D. Powless, J. Gushwa, D. C. Shipe, W. Short, John Gonser and Daniel Gonser. Trustees in this early time were : R. Worrell, D. Rager, W. Childs, S. Miser, J. C. Smith, G. W. Smith, D. Gonser, D. N. Nidick, B. Hunt, John Long, E. Wright, J. Short, W. H. Wilsey, Moses Gonser, D. Kimbell, B. A. Chaffee, H. Thomas.
Perhaps the first marriage performed within the limits of Fairfield township was that of David Gonser and Miss Gushwa.
The census of 1880 gave Fairfield township a population of one thousand five hundred and fifty-eight people; in 1890, there were one thousand three hundred and sixty-one people; in 1900, the same; and in 1910, one thousand one hundred and ninety-four.
Pages 164 to 166
Franklin township is located in the northeastern portion of DeKalb county, in the northern tier. It is bounded on the north by Otsego township, Steuben county; on the east by Troy township; on the south by Wilmington township and on the west by Smithfield township. It is watered and drained by the tributaries, headwaters of Cedar creek and Fish creek, and along the northern border are two small lakes. There are no railroads in Franklin township, consequently no town of great size. Butler, on the Michigan Southern, just below the southern border, is the nearest trading point. The highways of this township, however, are excellent, and provide swift intercourse with distributing centers. The land is good and well suited for agriculture.
The first act of the first board of commissioners of DeKalb county, on July 25, 1837, was, after appointing necessary officers, to provide for the organization of Franklin township, with the following boundaries: "Commencing at the northeast corner of said county (DeKalb), thence west to the corners of ranges 13 and 14 east, townships 35 and 36 north, thence south six miles to township 34 north, ranges 13 and 14 east, thence east on the towns line to the east line of the said county, thence north to the place of beginning; the above shall constitute the first township in DeKalb county."
The board, Peter Fair and Samuel Widney, then appointed "Peter Boyer for Inspector of Elections for township No. 1 in said county of DeKalb, and do order a writ of election for one justice of the peace for said township on the first Monday of August next (1837), and do also appoint Isaac T. Aldrich for Constable of said township, to serve until his successor is chosen and qualified, and do also appoint John Houlton for Supervisor of said township No. 1, and district No. 1, in said county of DeKalb." The limits thus provided made Franklin to include what is now Troy township, in addition to its present territory; but some years afterward Troy was organized, leaving Franklin six miles Square.
At the first election in August, 1837, Abram F. Beecher was chosen commissioner, and Luther Buck as justice of the peace. At the next election, held at the house of George Firestone, on the first Monday in April, 1838, Judge Linsey was made justice of the peace. Irregularity in making the returns prevented the receipt of commissions, and it was not until the spring of ‘1839 that first legal election was held, at the house of M. L. Wheeler, he being chosen justice of the peace, and George Firestone, constable.
In point of settlement, the same as organization, Franklin township was the first. John Houlton, the first man in DeKalb county to build a home, constructed his rude log house on the bank of Fish creek, in the northeastern part of the township, in the year 1833. For quite a time he was the lone resident in the forest, but after a period of two years he was joined by John Smith, who settled on section 4.
In 1836 many pioneers came in, among them being: Abner Smith of section 9, Abram Beecher on 4, Luther Keep on 8, Charles Crain, Willis O. Hyde, Peter Boyer, Jacob Myers, Michael Boyer and Mr. Deming and Corwright. George Firestone moved in in October, 1836, hauling his goods by ox-team, and settled on section 23, a part of which he cleared. While building his cabin he lived at the cabin of Michael Boyer.
Supplies of wheat and corn were obtained by the pioneers from Jackson prairie. The wild meats of the forest were used extensively by the pioneer, his trusty rifle being the earner of much of his provender. The Pottawatomies were also ever anxious to trade meats for such trifles as the settlers could procure for them. The heavy timber of the land was speedily cleared away and the planting of corn, potatoes and buckwheat begun. In the spring of 1837 grists were taken to the Union mills in Lagrange, a distance of thirty miles, several days were required to make the journey, and it was fraught with many hardships. The first roads laid out in Franklin township were the Defiance and Lima state road and the Fort Wayne and Lima state road, forming a junction a half mile east of Hamilton.
Of those who came to the township in 1837 were: Daniel Kepler, Samuel Kepler, Arial Rood, Cranel Rood, Grant Bowers, M. L. Wheeler, John Matson, Elisha Waterman and John Farley. Later came Jason Hunnell, Daniel McEntarfer, William Letz, Levi Nelson, John and Edward Jackman, Preston Bowman, Cyrus Bowman and James Bowman.
John Houlton wrote the following concerning his entrance into Franklin township:
"When I first moved into Franklin my nearest neighbor was at Denmark, ten miles off. My next neighbor on the west was on Jackson Prairie, twenty-two miles away. I had to buy my grain on the prairies, and take it to White Pigeon prairies to get it ground; and with the many mire holes I had to struggle through, and with the vast number of times I had to unload and pry up the wagon, and take a bag at a time on my shoulder through creeks and sloughs often beast deep in water, and frequently ice to break at that, it generally took me from two to four days to make the trip. Often while away from home, I had fears lest some blackleg might murder my wife and child, and little sister-in-law, ten years old, and rob the house. But they were never disturbed.
"I came in with the very best of constitution, but I am now very much broken, and afflicted with rheumatism, so that I have to get help to put on my clothes. Of the four of us robbed by Indians, I suppose I am the only one alive. Avery died in Fort Wayne; Samuel Houlton died at the mill on Fish creek in May, 1839; Hughes left Wayne in 1839 for the West.
Early justices of the peace were: M. Wheeler, L. Buck, J. Kink, John McCurdy, George Beard, George Firestone, T. M. Mitchell. Early constables were : G. W. Jeffords, Miles Waterman, Cyrus Jackman, David Clark, John Shock, Abner Slentz, John R. Ball, George Firestone, William Oberlin; and the trustees prior to 1860 were: G. Beard, B. Smith, Jebez Hubbell, Miles Waterman, G. Shultz, H. Slentz, A. Baxter, J. T. Aldrich, J. Jackman, H. Smith, Joseph Boyer. A. Baxter and E. H. Taylor were early assessors.
In 1890, there were 1,246 people in the township; in 1900, 1,171; and in 1910, 1,065.
Pages 166 to 169
Jackson township is in the southern tier of townships of DeKalb county, centrally located; bounded on the north by Union township, on the east by Concord and Spencer townships, on the south by Cedar Creek township, Allen county, and on the west by Butler and Keyser townships. Cedar creek crosses the northwestern portion of the township, two branches of Bear creek enter, or leave, the southeastern corner. The land is now fairly well suited for agriculture, although at one time it was inferior to the other townships, there being too much swamp land, and a considerable amount of heavy, clayey soil, the latter being still present in large quantities. The land has been ditched and tiled, and has been developed greatly considering the early character. Three railroads—the Vandalia, Baltimore & Ohio, and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern meet in the northwestern corner, at Auburn Junction; the Baltimore & Ohio traverses the entire northern quarter of the township.
On January 1, 1838, the board of commissioners of the county "ordered that township 33 north, range 13 east, be organized as a civil township to be known by the name of Jackson township, and that John Watson be appointed inspector of elections for said township." the first election was afterward appointed for the first Monday in April, 1838, at the house of John Watson.
The first settler in the township was William Miller, who moved in during the spring of 1836. He and his son, Joseph Miller, cut the first wagon track from the river settlements through to Cedar creek, below Auburn. The road crossed Jackson township from its east line, very nearly to the west one. Joseph Miller was afterward the first county surveyor. Another son, Thomas, was killed by the overturning of a wagon load of cross ties for the Eel river railroad. Another settler who became noted in the county was Thomas L. Yates, the eccentric Judge, who Wesley Park once threatened to put "up the ladder." He sold his land on the river, and settled three miles down the creek from Auburn, on the land which afterward belonged to Alonzo Lockwood. Others in that part of the township were: Leonard Boice, Adam P. Hartle, the Phillips family, and Benjamin Miller. In the southeast there were to be found: James Steward; Samuel Henderson, who came in the fall of 1836; John and David Moody, John and William Watson, Srs., and their families; Nathan Wyatt and his sons, then forming three families; Jacob Maurer, once justice of the peace, and Willis Bishop. Northward of these on the east side of the township were: William Means, the first justice of the peace in Jackson township; Samuel Farney, Henry Dove, Abraham Johnson, Amariah Johnson, William R. Moore, William McClure, William Squiers, Henry Brown, Matthew George, William George, Samuel Geisinger and Nelson Griffith. In the center of the township the first settlers were: Joseph Walters, Mr. Essig and William McNabb.
DEATH OF THE MEANS BROTHERS
The untimely death of two young men—brothers—the sons of Esquire Means, was a distressing incident in the early settlement of the township. They were at work together in the clearing, and one of them came to the well at the house for a drink, and accidentally losing the bucket in the well, he went down to get it. There were damps in the well, and he fell senseless into the water. The women raised the alarm, and the other young man hastened to the well, and perhaps not understanding the matter, went down also, to rescue his brother, and fell senseless with him. Before either could be drawn out, life was entirely extinct.
HURRICANE OF 1841
In the summer or fall of 1841, a dark cloud arose, seeming to threaten a heavy shower, but soon the rapid motion and wild confusion of the lowering clouds proclaimed the approach of a wind storm. It struck the forest and leveled the timber. William and Mathew George, Henry Brown, Nelson Griffith, and some other men were working on the road west of where Karper lived. Karper’s cabin had been raised, but he had not yet moved it. The men, startled by the rumbling of the nearing storm, and seeing the air darkened with three limbs and other debris, ran with all their speed to the home of Henry Brown, about eighty rods distant, where Brown’s children and a daughter of William Munroe were, and rushing in, seized the children, and carried them into the open field. Immediately the storm was upon them. They grasped the wiry grass and held on to stumps to keep from being blown away. In the hurry of the moment, one child and the young woman had been left in the house, but fortunately, by some means, fell through the floor. The wind lifted the door from its hinges and threw it over them, and then the logs of the house came tumbling in upon them, until the house was leveled, and even the foundation logs turned over, yet the occupants were uninjured. The weight poles were blown a distance of forty rods. One of the knees from the roof of this cabin struck Leander Brown in the head, making a fearful gash. This wound affected the boy’s eyesight in later life. The storm swept on over the township, rushing and swirling, and ripping everything to pieces which lay in its path. Fences were scattered, dwellings demolished in the clearing, and striking the forest, the giant trees wilted before the impact. Upon reaching the tract of land owned by William Draggoo, the ominous clouds lifted, and the work of destruction ceased. Articles of bed clothing from Brown’s house were found at this point. The width of the path was half mile and the length three miles.
Mrs. William George, after the fury of the storm, started to the home of Mr. Brown, but was so bewildered by the confusion of fallen timber, that she lost her way, and after exerting herself to the utmost, finally arrived at the home of George Moore, where she swooned from her excitement.
Prior to 1860, the justices of peace were: William Means, John C. Hursh, A. D. Goetschius, Henry Brown and Jacob Maurer. The constables were: William R. Moore, William McNabb, Benjamin Bailey, Frank Bailey, David Mathews, S. Geisinger. Thomas Wyatt, Willis Bishop, William Beatty, A. H. Flutter, John Carper, Burton Brown and John McClelland. Trustees were: Oliver Shroeder, Aaron Osborn, A. D. Goetschius, James Moore, Israel Shearer, Christian Sheets, Samuel Tarney, Joseph Walters, Isaac Fiandt, Peter Shafer, James Woolsey, David Henderson, Elias Zimmerman, Abraham Johnson and James McClelland. The assessors were John G. Dancer, Joseph Walters and Alexander Provines.
In 1880 the population of Jackson township was 1,430; in 1890 1,412; in 1900, 1,351; in 1910, 1,204.
Pages 169 to 171
The southeastern corner of DeKalb county is occupied by Newville township, a fractional township, six miles long and two and a half wide, containing twelve whole and six half sections. It is bounded on the north by Stafford township, on the east by the state of Ohio, on the south by Scipio township, Allen county, and on the west by Concord and Spencer townships. The St. Joseph of the Maumee crosses the northwestern corner, flowing from northeast to southwest. A smaller branch of the same river is located in the southwestern corner of the township. The Baltimore & Ohio railroad crosses the middle of the township. The land is much the same as that of Concord and Spencer townships, rich river-bottom land, oak-timbered wheat land, and beech and maple timbered land, However, the timber has been largely cleared away, to make room for the crops.
The pioneer settlers of Newville township were John Platter and Solomon DeLong, who, when traveling through the woods in the summer of 1834, became bewildered, and encamped at the border to a prickly ash swamp. Here they dug a hole of water, using their axes and hands. They found water, but the fluid was so heavily mixed with the juices from the roots of trees as to be scarcely drinkable, though their craving for drink led them to make the best of it. Platter settled on section 7, and DeLong settled on the bank of the St. Joseph, across from Newville; was one of the early county commissioners, and served during the Civil war in the Forty-fourth and One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, having the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the latter. Daniel Strong was another pioneer. Others were Dwight Moody, J. S. Peck, John Thompson, I. N. Blood, Alva Lawrence, and Ephraim Strong. S. H. Bartlett and family came in 1836, also George Weeks.
"The Mounds" is an elevation of ground on section 7, on the Ashman farm. It is about ten rods from the "Little St. Joe," and on the south bank of a small creek that empties into the St. Joe at this point. It was opened in the fall of 1837 by Silas H. Bartlett, Daniel Strong, Jr., John Platter and Frasier Bertlett. They found a large quantity of human bones about three feet below the surface. The elevation was then ten feet, but has decreased since, until now it is hardly visible. It is evident that this was a sepulcher of the mound builders, and the rude earthworks indicate that here was also at some time a fortification.
Among the early justices of the peace in Newville township were: Washington Robinson, J. Helwig, John Cary, J. S. Peck, and Dwight Moody. Constables were: John P. Widney, John Thompson and Asa Overacker, and the first trustees were: D. Strong, A. B. Fetterer, N. Fuller, John Newton, John Murphy, N. L. Thomas, Newton Thomas, I. N. Blood, Alva Lawrence, S. DeLong, D. Moody, Ephraim Strong and John Platter.
The village of Newville, once called Vienna, is located on the northwest bank of the river, in the southwest quarter of section 6. George W. Weeks surveyed and platted the town in March, 1837, for Washington Robinson, settler and owner of the land. The original plat contained twenty-six and a half acres, exclusive of streets. N. L. Thomas, a Methodist minister, was the first store keeper in this town, and a Mr. Dodge the host of the tavern opened to the public. Dr. John Lattman was the first physician. John Cary was a shoemaker, also an early justice of the peace. Newville had been restricted in her growth by the lack of a railroad, but the people are progressive, and keep in touch with the world just as well as if intercourse were provided by steel rails.
Pages 171 to 173
Richland township is located centrally in the western tier of the townships of DeKalb county; is bounded on the north by Fairfield township, on the east by Union and Grant, on the south by Keyser, and on the west by Allen township, Noble county. Little Cedar runs diagonally from the north west corner across the township, also several other tributaries to this stream and Cedar, beside a few small lakes. This provides sufficient drainage and water supply for the land in the township. The township is not the best in the county for agriculture; the land being very hilly, and with sandy and clayey upper soil. The clay is of excellent composition for the manufacture of bricks and various kinds of tile. Beech, maple, ash, oak and poplar, with a little walnut, were the prevailing woods of this township, but these have been largely cleared off. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern traverses the northern border of the county, stopping at the towns of Corunna and Sedan.
Richland was organized as a civil township in September, 1837, as a whole congressional township, and Jacob Weirick was appointed its first supervisor. At the first election held, but six votes were cast, and William Showers was elected justice. On the formation of Keyser township, in June, 1876, twelve sections were taken from its southern side, reducing the township to twenty-four sections.
The first settler in Richland township was Joseph Miller, who came in August, 1836, having cut his way in from the home of his father in Jackson township. Previous to moving in, he cut the logs for his house in one day; made the clapboards in the next, having chop off the timber two clapboards length, not having a saw, then split them into bolts and chop them in two before riving. He and two others put up the house without any further assistance, on the third day. He, and Mr. Vansicle, and Obadiah Whitmore also put up a house for Jacob Weirick, without any other help. Jacob Weirick and Joshua Feigler moved in in October, 1836. Calvin Calkins set out in the fall of 1839, from Sandusky county, Ohio, with his provisions in a knapsack, and arriving in this township, selected a quarter section, lying on the present road south of Corunna. He learned that another land hunter had chosen part of the same lands, and made the best time possible to the land office at Fort Wayne, and was scarcely half an hour in advance of his competitor. His family moved in during the fall of 1840. The neighbors were well scattered at this time; Peter Kronkite, who had come the previous fall, had a cabin in the woods; and Peter Moody had located on his clearing about a mile east of Corunna. In the northeast part of the township was the Showers settlement. Solomon Showers, the pioneer, was the host to many a settler who moved into the locality to set up a home. His cabin was small, but room was always found for the incomer. Lyman Green, for whom the corners south of Sedan were named, Daniel Webber, William Beck, William Showers and Daniel Showers were other men who soon established themselves in the neighborhood. Japhet Ingraham came in a short time later, and then Peter Treesh made the first clearing of the Amos Britton farm. Thomas Dailey moved in from Michigan, and located in the western part of the township, and Dimick Harding came from Lima, Indiana, and chose a tract. Other early settlers were: the Moodys, Peter, John and Harvey; the Connellys, Ezra, William and John; Samuel Haynes, James Blake, Herman Bangs, and James McCrum. Henry Willis, afterward sheriff, and who subsequently went to Waterloo, came very early and settled in the northeastern portion of the township. He located on a sugar-timbered tract, and manufactured sugar, trading the commodity for breadstuffs, which transaction often necessitated a three days’ journey. This trading system was common among the early settlers, and, in fact, meant subsistence for many of them.
Some of the early justices were: William Showers, James Blake, D. Shaw and L. D. Britton, Constables were: Lyman Green, John Clay, Robert Williams, Leeman Fulson, J. Simons, D. Mallery, A. P. Bristol, John Palmer, L. Thomas, B. Sanders, David Swander and C. B. Kagey. Trustees were: Peter Treesh, Joshus Brubaker, David Lawrence, A. J. Hunt, Jacob Palmer, Jefferson Wallace, Christian Frezt, Solomon Showers, H. Willis, W. Connelly, J. C. Mead, Japhet Ingraham, James Blake, Lyman Green, W. Showers, L. D. Britton, H. Sherlock, H. Knapp and I. Kanaga. Assessors were: William Welker, C. Knapp, John Shaw, and Henry Sherlock.
At present Corunna has a population of three hundred and eighteen people, and is a progressive little town, situated on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern. There are three schools, two lodges, a bank, telephone system, public lighting plant, two mills, one flour mill and one saw mill, and a hotel.
Sedan is another small town located on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, about four miles east of Corunna. The population is very small, and business is in proportion to the population.
In 1880 the population of Richland township was 1,598; in 1890, 1,127; in 1900, 1,310; in 1910, 1,146.
Pages 173 to 179
Smithfield township is situates in the north central part of DeKalb county, and is bounded as follows: On the north by Steuben township, Steuben county; on the east by Franklin township; on the south by Grant township, and on the west by Fairfield township. The township is drained by tributaries of the Cedar, all very small streams. Cedar lake lies in section 30. The soil of this township is generally good, being mixed with plenty of sand and gravel, and with very little of the clay found in other parts of the county. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad runs directly north through the center of the township.
The first township election was held at the house of Isaac B. Smith in the spring of 1839, and there were just five men present, a bare number to form a board. Ferris Blake was chosen township clerk and Isaac B. Smith, Isaiah McLeish and Pharez Blake, trustees. N. Blake was made constable, and R. J. Daniels, justice of the peace. Daniels had a large territory with scant population, and on one occasion, when called upon to join in wedlock Jake McLeish and Miss Chaffee, he went on foot to Story lake in Fairfield township, performed the ceremony, and consented to take his fee in wild hogs, but failed to catch any of them.
The first settler in Smithfield township was Isaac B. Smith, after whom the township was named. His own narrative is printed in "Pioneer Sketches," a portion of which is quoted below:
"Mr. Smith came to Mr. Murray’s, at Pleasant Lake, Steuben county, and from thence explores the woods of Smithfield township to find a piece of vacant land that would suit him for a home. There several times he had selected pieces, and he went afoot each time to Fort Wayne (thirty-two or thirty-three miles); and finding the pieces selected already entered, had to return to Pleasant lake, upward of forty miles, and renew his search for a home. The fourth time he returned to the land office, only to meet with another disappointment. Tired in body and heart sick with hope deferred, he met a man at the land office for Wells county, not far from where Bluffton now is, who represented to him that he was building a mill in that region, and knew of a very good quarter section of land still vacant; and stated that although he had thought of entering it himself, yet he would give way and let Mr. Smith have it. The register of the land office told Mr. Smith that he might depend on the veracity of this man, and accordingly he entered the tract and went afoot to where it lay. When he found it, he discovered that he was badly imposed upon, as the entire tract was an unbroken cottonwood swamp, boot-top deep with water. He now returned to the land office, and told the register the facts in regard to the land, and was told that by taking a man with him as witness and examining the land, the man making oath that it was unfit for cultivation, he could have about a week to change his entry to another piece of land. Meeting with Wilbur Powell, afterward of Fairfield township, at the land office, he prevailed on him to accompany him as a witness. On reaching the place, they traced all lines around the quarter section, and passed through it twice diagonally from corner to corner, and did not see a single tree except cottonwood on the tract. Returning to Fort Wayne, now for the sixth time, he got a newly corrected plat of Smithfield township, and took the trail for the north again.
"Traversing the woods again, in company with two others, he selected a suitable tract, but just as he was about striking for the Auburn trace, to start again for Fort Wayne, he met with three other men looking around the same lines. He inquired of them if they were going to Fort Wayne to enter land. They replied in the affirmative. He inquired when, and they replied ‘not for two or three days’; but from the expression of their eyes, he concluded that they were trying to deceive him. So, when the two companies parted, he told his companions that they would have a race for it. Both parties struck for the shanty built by Park on Cedar Creek, where Uniontown now is; but Smith and his friends got too far north, and came out to the trace near the site of what was afterward Mr. Smith’s residence, and discovered their whereabouts by means of the mired ox mentioned in Park’s narrative. It was now dusk and they were three miles north of the desired shanty. Passing over these miles they reached their lodging place sometime after dark, Their competitors were not there. The next morning they were off before day, passing down the trail at an Indian trot, and ate no breakfast until they reached Squire Caswell’s, some twenty miles from where they started in the morning. All this distance was traversed in a continual trot. Mr. Smith, having gained on this companions some, they told him to call at Caswell’s, and order something to eat ‘instanter.’ He did so, and by the time the rear came up, breakfast was on the table. Eating in great haste, they left their coats, and trotted on, arriving at Fort Wayne, a distance of thirty miles in all, at eleven o’clock, A. M. On going to the land office, lo! The pieces of land selected were entered.
"After spending about an hour in resting and taking refreshments, Mr. Smith started back to look again, and as he was crossing the St. Mary’s bridge close to town he met his
competitors, also a foot, puffing and sweating, en route for the land office. He gave them the comfortable assurance that their was in vain, without intimating at all that he was in the same row. He returned that night to Mr. Park’s at Auburn, having traveled that day over fifty miles on foot. There were two men at Park’s that night, Reuben J. Daniels and Ira Camburn, and the next morning Mr. Smith gathered from their conversation that they were going up into the north regions to look for land, and that Mr. Park was to go with them; for which each was to pay him one dollar. He proferred his dollar also for the privilege of accompanying them, and having the assistance of Park in finding vacant land.
"The proposal was accepted, and the result was that Park showed them the tracts on which they afterward settled. It was agreed that each should privately mark for his first choice of lands, and providentially or accidentally as you may please to consider it, each one marked the tract on which they subsequently settled as their several choices, and each without knowing anything about the choice of the others. It was now Friday evening, and Mr. Smith had but one more day to change his entry. So he had another race to get to Fort Wayne before the land office closed on Saturday. This time he was successful, but was nearly worn down with fatigue and anxiety. Eight times he had visited Fort Wayne before he secured his future home."
A further account of Mr. Smith’s adventures in the early settlement of Smithfield township may be found in the chapter on "Reminiscences."
The second permanent settler in Smithfield township was Reuben J. Daniels. He emigrated from Orleans county, New York, and came by way of the state of Michigan. He was accompanied by Ira Camburn, and they, having located and entered two hundred acres, paid for it in silver which they carried with them. These two settlers together erected a cabin, into which they moved on January 28, 1838. It was said of this cabin, that it was doorless, without upper floor, and without daubing. There were plenty of Indians and wolves at that time.
Pharez Blake came next and located on section 27. His son, Norton, married Huldah Holmes in 1839, and this ceremony, preformed by Squire Daniels, was the first in the township. Jacob McLeish and his two sons, Isaiah and Jacob, and Thomas Locke, came in the spring of 1838 and located upon section 29. Joseph Delong and family came by way of Pleasant lake in 1839, and selected a tract on section 29. He afterward became a resident of Waterloo. Solomon Brandeberry came during the same year and located upon section 23. The McEntaffers, John and his three sons, William, Jacob and Abraham, were also settlers of 1839. Daniel Kepler, a Franklin township pioneer, moved into Smithfield, also Cyrus Bowman. Other settlers of an early period were: Henry Shoemaker, Thomas Locke, David Martin, J. Haun, John Baxter, Jeremiah Hemstreet, Isaac Grate, William Clark, Hugh McOsker and George Seiner. The first birth in this township was that of Martha Smith, who later married Edward Richards and moved to Missouri. Lucinda Daniels was the second child born in this locality.
At the foot of Cedar lake, in 1844 approximately, the first saw mill was erected. Daniel Martin built a mill on the south branch of Cedar creek, and a Mr. Fansler constructed a grist mill on the west branch about a mile below the lake. Isaac B. Smith planted the first crop of potatoes, Reuben J. Daniels the first wheat, and Norton Blake first introduced the reaper in harvesting.
The following represent some of the first officers of Smithfield Township: Justices: R. G. Daniel, David Martin, Daniel Gingrich, Jeremiah Hemstreet, R. McBride, J. E. Rutan, and Aaron Smith; constables; Daniel Shull, Henry Nevin, Henry Treesh, Thomas Locke, Aaron Smith, Justus B. Howard and Edward Richards; trustees; Pharez Blake, Isaac B. Smith, D. Smith, I. Grate, Isaiah McLeish, Augustus Ball, H. Freeman, Samuel Delong, John Leas, Thomas Locke, Harman Mullen, John McOsker, John Hornberger, George W. Frout, George J. Duncan, William Hoffman, R. Lockhart and William Cox; assessors, John Baxter, H. Freeman, John Schrantz and Cyrus Duncan.
The population of Smithfield township in 1880 was 1,424; in 1890, 1,279; in 1900, 1,607; and in 1910, 1,469.
The towns of Ashley was platted in the year 1892, the origin of the town being due to building of the Wabash railroad. This railroad company under the name of the Indiana Improvement Company bought extensive lands on the site of Ashley, and established a division there. The towns quickly sprang into life, and was incorporated as a town in the latter part of 1892. Singularly, the town is placed square on the county line between Steuben and DeKalb counties; the main street is the division point. Many peculiar and humorous, as well as inconvenient, situations arise from this fact. The shops and division headquarters were moved in 1907 to Montpelier, Ohio, but notwithstanding the town has continued to grow. The census in 1910 placed the population as six hundred and thirty-nine, but this has increased substantially since. The town officers at present are: G. W. Clark, George Kirlin, and William Zubrugg, trustees; J. W. Mintzer, clerk; and George Park, treasurer. The electric light plant is owned by the town, and was installed in 1895 at a cost of five thousand dollars. There is one grist mill and one saw mill at Ashley.
Pages 178 & 179
On the east line of the county, midway, lies Stafford township. It is a fractional township, comprising twelve whole sections, and six half sections. It is bounded on the north by Troy township, on the east by the state of Ohio, on the south by Newville township, on the west by Wilmington township. The St. Joseph river crosses the southeast corner, and Big Run runs from west to east across the northern end. On the river and creek, and in the bottoms, the land is very fertile; but otherwise is of variable quality, but when properly cultivated, of fairly productive nature. The surface in general is level, with several bluffs south on the river. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and the Vandalia of the Pennsylvania system cross the northern and northwest corners respectively.
James Lytle was perhaps the earliest settler of Stafford township. He located in this territory during the summer of 1836, but after a short stay here left the county. The next, and permanent, settlers were John and Hazzard Webster, Rufus Coats and John Rose, all with their families, in all a colony of twenty-six persons. They emigrated from Trumbull county, Ohio, and arrived within the limits of Stafford township on the fourth day of October, 1836. John Webster purchased about one hundred acres of land on the river, near the Ohio state line, and therein settled. He was one of the eccentric men of the early township, as every township has, or has had, a queer character. He was fond of wealth, but did not place much faith in religion. Yet, despite his peculiarities, he was a good citizen, and was useful in supplying the others with corn, potatoes and other commodities, at very reasonable rates considering the difficulties incident to obtaining these supplies. He later erected a saw mill and grist mill on his premises, and his estate became the mecca for settlers in general, to get their grain ground.
Other early settlers were as follows: Jacob Gunsenhouser, John Rose, Rufus Coats, James W. Rose, James E. Rose and Daniel Coats. The first habitation was raised by Lytle, and the next four were built about the same time by the above named people. Next, Edward Scoville and Ariel Walden came in. Walden was for years an associate judge of this county. In 1838 and 1839, many families moved in, occupied homes, and became prominent in the development of the county. Prominent among them were: Christian Wanemaker, Henry Fusselman, and Thomas Strote. John Barber was located in the northern part of the township. C. R. Wanemaker and Stephen W. Hackley were other settlers of the early date.
Among the justices of the peace who have served this township, some of the early ones were: Rufus Coats, Henry Fusselman, David McDaniel, Noyce Coats, Samuel Wanemaker, F. Hoffman and J. J. Imhoff. Early constables were: I. Gaft. C. R. Wanemaker, H. Dickerhoff, and H. H. Wanemaker. Trustees were: J. J. Gunsenhouser, Isaac Beal, A. Fusselman, Joseph A. Coats, Noyce Coats, J. J. Imhoff, F. Hoffman, Peter Walter, John Crouse, Samuel Headley, John W. Rose, Jesse W. Rose, C. H. Wanemaker. C. R. Wanemaker, James Cather and Jacob Crise were early assessors.
In 1880 the population of Stafford township was 569; in 1890, 476; in 1900, 423; in 1910, 381.
Pages 179 & 180
In the southeastern corner of DeKalb County is the fractional township of Troy. It is bounded on the north by Richland township, Steuben county, on the east by the state of Ohio, on the south by the township of Stafford, and on the west by Franklin township. Fish creek enters the township from the northwest, and crosses the state line a mile north of the southeast corner, being the second largest creek in the county, and the one upon which, near the mouth, that Houlton & Hughes erected their saw mill in 1827. The northern portion of the township is of a clayey soil, the central and southeast of rich, sandy loam, and to the southwest, clay again. The Wabash railroad runs on a southwest and northeast diagonal through the southern half of the township.
The earliest known settler of the township was Isaac T. Aldrich, later of Franklin township. In the following year, Roger Aldrich, a brother, became a settler, and Simeon Aldrich subsequently moved in. Others of the early comers to this locality were: George Skinner, Asa Haynes, G. Williams, R. Reed, Willard Eddy, S. Call, John and A. S. Casebeer, Peter Helwig, Jacob Helwig, Updegraff Clawson, I. Clawson, and W. R. Herbert.
At the mouth of Fish creek, in 1827, Houlton & Hughes erected their saw mill; and Mr. Casebeer had a grist mill in operation near the same time. Higher up Samuel Kepler had another, and at the outlet of Fish lake, were the Hamilton mills, owned by John Fee.
The first justice of the peace of Troy township was A. S. Casebeer, and the others who followed were: S. Learned, Hambright Reese, Jacob Helwig, G. C. Everetts, John McDonald and George Smiley. Early constables were: Willard Eddy, Peter Helwig, R. R. Emmerson, H. Casebeer and George Smiley. Among the trustees prior to 1860 were: Amos Stearns, Jacob Helwig, Roger Aldrich, Jacob Casebeer, John Robinet, Peter Jennings, W. R. Emmerson, Simeon Aldrich, William Knisely, B. Wise, B. Wallick, Timothy McClure and Daniel Knisely. W. R. Herbert, A. F. Pinchin, F. G. Biddle and D. McCurdy were clerks during the same period, while the office of treasurer was filled by S. Learned, D. W. Aldrich, J. A. Zimmerman, Amos Stearns and G. C. Everetts.
The Artic postoffice was established in 1850, and was in charge of Amos Stearns until his death in 1860. His son James was the postmaster during the following three years, and then John Stearns for one year. Resigning, he was succeeded by James McDonald, who held the office when it was discontinued in 1865. It was re-established in 1884, with Joseph Bell a postmaster.
In 1880, the population of Troy township was 646; in 1890, 607; in 1900, 520; and in 1910, 500.
Pages 180 & 181
The board of county commissioners, on June 7, 1909, divided the township of Concord, and named the lower half Spencer township. The division was for school purposes entirely, and although much controversy and hard feeling existed at the time, the two townships at present are enjoying mutual prosperity.
Spencerville is the only town of any consequence in the township. The town has about two hundred and seventy-five people, and several good business houses and stores. Two churches and two lodges have existence here. The town is not incorporated. One school building, a very complete and excellent structure, was erected in 1909 at a cost of seven thousand dollars. The Wabash railroad about two miles west of the town, and transfer is provided to the station.
Pages 181 to 183
On September 8, 1889, the county commissioners, acting under a petition of tax-payers and voters, made the north half of Union township into a new township, to be known as Grant township. The area comprised in this new division was sections one to eighteen.
Four and a half miles north of Auburn is located the town of Waterloo, in Grant township. The town was formerly in Union township, but upon the division of the latter, the place fell within the bounds of the new township of Grant. Two branches of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad meet at Waterloo, making the town important as a shipping center. In 1890 the town had a population of one thousand four hundred and seventy-three; in 1900, one thousand two hundred and forty-four; and in 1910, one thousand one hundred and sixty seven.
The first settlement near the present site of Waterloo was made near Cedar creek, northeast, and was called Uniontown; it is now a mere suburb to Waterloo. Wesley Park erected a board shanty on the site of Uniontown in 1838 as a shelter for two men who were building a bridge over Cedar creek at that point. In November, 1838, D. Altenburg and L. Walsworth and their families, together with the two bridge builders, passed a night while the settlers were on their way from Steubenville to their selections of land in Union township.
Owing to the fact that the place was on the line of the state road from Fort Wayne north through Angola, and being remote from other settlements, it was thought to be a splendid site for a town, and accordingly a plat was made by Frederick Krum. George Trout built a store building and established a trading point. The firm of M. & A. Hale next entered the merchandise business. James Bowman erected a water power saw mill, and about 1856, after laying out of Waterloo, changed it to a steam power mill. Richard Burniston was the lock blacksmith; Dr. Jones the physician, Mr. Wareham the gunsmith, and a Mr. Smith had a cabinet shop.
The construction of the air line by the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad through the county caused the platting of Waterloo City, as it was called for several years, there being another Waterloo in the state. Miles Waterman, afterward a member of Legislature, owned a tract of land south of Uniontown, laying on both sides of the railroad track. On this tract he laid out the town of Waterloo, assisted by John Hornberger, and the acknowledgment was taken before Justice of the Peace George Wolf on March 14, 1856. A railroad office was the first dwelling house. Store buildings were erected by James Irving and John wood, and rented. The sale of lots and buildings began and continued at a very lively rate, and the population began to increase. Some of the men who moved in were: T.Y. Dickinson, afterward publisher of the Waterloo Press; Dr. J. N. Chamberlain, sheriff of county from 1860 to 1862; Henry Willis, who filled the same office from 1864 to 1868; Jacob Kahn, merchant; Gen. Lewis J. Blair. John Shull opened the first tavern, which was later known as the Central House. J. P. Beers, from Auburn, was the first lawyer in the town. The first grist mill was built and run by Josiah and Jonathan Weaver, and it stood in Uniontown and was built in 1868. George Thompson and Best, McClellan & Moody later erected mills. The latter firm suffered a total loss by fire in 1876. Waterloo has the honor of having had the first fire department in the county.
WATERLOO IN 1913
The United States census of 1910 places the number of people in Waterloo as eleven hundred and sixty-seven. The town is well located on two railroads, and enjoys increasing prosperity as a shipping point for the surrounding country. The present town board is composed of the following men: J. E. Dilgard, W. F. Bowman, John Dunn, Wesley Beidler, and Samuel Gfellers. W. R. Newcomer is clerk, Verne W. Lowman is treasurer; and W. H. Ettinger is marshal. A new town hall was built in the year 1912, to replace the one destroyed by the windstorm of November 11, 1911, which swept over the town from a northeasterly direction, and entailed a hundred thousand dollar loss to the town. The new town hall is modern in equipment and cost twelve thousand dollars. The Indiana a Public Utilities Company, and outside corporation, supplies water and light to the town. Gas, paved streets and sewerage have not yet been installed in the town.
The first steps taken to procure a library for Waterloo were taken in the fall of 1911. On the evening of December 5, 1911, Miss Ora Williams, of Indianapolis, one of the state organizers, came to Waterloo, and a public meeting was called at the old United Brethren church, and the library law and it scope fully explained. A committee from the Fortnightly club, the Minerva club, the Progressive club, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, was appointed to proceed with the work of organization. Not until the summer of 1912, however, was the work pushed. Then they got busy and the necessary subscription was soon raised, and at the July meeting of the town board the petition and the subscription list were presented and the town board ordered the levy to be made. One of the first official acts of the newly appointed town board was the issuance of an invitation to the advisory boards of Grant and Smithfield townships to join in the establishment of the public library. Smithfield township took no action, but the advisory board of Grant township wanted an expression from their people. The necessary signatures of the tax payers was obtained, and the levy made.
A room in the Denison block was rented, and Bertha Knott was appointed librarian, and on Novembe4r 20, 1912, the library was opened to the public. Book showers, donations by individuals and clubs, entertainment by the Rebekah lodge and high school societies furnished money to buy books, and four hundred books were on the shelves and the state loaned two hundred more.
The erection of a building had been discussed early and the secretary of the board was instructed to open up correspondence with the Carnegie corporation. After some delay this was done, and on March 26, 1913, the Carnegie board pledged nine thousand dollars for the building with the conditions that a site must be donated and the town and township to guarantee to raise nine hundred dollars annually to maintain the library. On April 14, the board selected the two Showalter lots on the corner of Wayne and Maple streets as the best sites for the new building and the purchase money was contributed by the people of the south side. Wilson B. Parker, of Indianapolis, was chosen as architect. On June 28th, contracts were let. Goodall & Sons, of Peru, secured the contract. The new building will be ready for dedication sometime in December, 1912, or the first of the year 1913.
Pages 184 to 195
The township of Union is centrally located, and may be regarded as the most important in the county, due to the location within its limits of Auburn, the county seat. Union township is bounded on the north by Grant township on the west by Richland and Keyser, on the south by Jackson, and on the east by Wilmington. Cedar creek runs down from the northwest corner, through the township and leaves near the southwest corner. This drains the township very thoroughly, although not many years ago there were several tamarack swamps in it. The northern and western portions of the area are generally rolling and somewhat sandy. The southeastern part is more level, and of a clayey constituency. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Vandalia of the Pennsylvania system, and the Baltimore & Ohio railroads cross the township at various points.
Union is one of the oldest townships in the county, being but two months younger than Franklin. At the first regular meeting of the board of commissioners of DeKalb county, September 5, 1837, those present being Peter Fair, Samuel Widney and A. F. Beecher, it was "ordered that the congressional township 34 north, range 13 east, be organized as a township for judicial (civil) purpose, to be known by the name of Union township, and that townships 34 and 35 north, range 12 east, and townships 33 and 35 north, range 13 east, be attached thereto." It was also ordered "That Wesley Park be appointed supervisor for the road district No. 1, comprising the whole of Union township; and all the lands residing within said township are allotted to said district." The first election was appointed for the first Monday in December following, and Lanslot Ingman was named as inspector of elections.
Among the early justices of the peace of Union township were: Lanslot Ingman, David Altenburg, John Carpenter, W. Griswold, John Davis, G. Wolf, S. W. Russell, J. D. Davis, J. W. Case, and William Lessig. Early constables were: J. O. P. Sherlock, William Shirter, Lyman Chidsey, T. J. Freeman, Isaac Latson, Joseph Garver, John Drury, Z. Tanner, H. Silberts, J. Powlas, H. Jones. L. Weaver, S. Bowman, L. Leasure, Jonathan Hall, A. O. Espy. J. Haun, Zopher Johnson, Jeremiah Plum, William Valeau, Andrew Harsh, J. H. Piles, Emanuel Miller, George Jones, and J. B. Howard. The trustees prior to 1860 were: J. B. Rockwell, David Altenburg, J. F. Coburn, John Husselman, N. Payne, James C. George, C. Simonds, S. W. Sprott, Aaron Hague, James R. Cosper, T. J. Freeman, Kneeland Abbott, William Middleton, Henry Clay, G. R. Baker, J. E. Hendricks, A. Watkins, T. R. Dickinson, H. Moneysmith, D. Eldridge, J. Hawk, Dr. W. Dancer, Jacob Cupp, J. J. Huffman, John Davis, O. A. Parson, O.C Houghton, John Somers, John Lightner, W. W. Griswold, Adam Stroh, J. K. Hare, John Ralston, S. Sanders, and Jacob McEntaffer. Isaac Kutzner and John C. St. Clair were early assessors.
In discussing the first settlement of DeKalb, the most will be written in the history of Auburn, as the pioneer story of that town is practically synonymous with that of that township. Early settlers in the township on farms were: Kneeland Abbott on the south, David Altenburg and Levi Walsworth on the east, and the Husselmans and McEntaffers on the north. Altenburg and Walsworth moved in during November, 1838; James R. Cosper and John Weeks in the spring of 1841; and the same year John Somers and Lyman Chidsey settled southeast of Auburn. In the northeast, Rockwell, Lightner and Morringston were the first settlers. Two days were occupied with raising the heavy frame of the Husselman barn, and most of the settlers for miles around were engaged in the work.
In 1880 the population of Union township, exclusive of Auburn and Waterloo was 1,200; in 1890, including Auburn, 3,050; in 1900, 4,032; in 1910, 4,710.
THE CITY OF AUBURN
By Wesley Park
In the fall of 1836 the first settler of Auburn, Wesley Park, entered land adjoining that of John Houlton, the first settler of the county. It is said that a Mr. Comstock opened the first store in the town of Auburn. Thomas J. Freeman, who occupied a frame building at Park’s corners, applied for a license on March 5, 1838, to sell goods. He brought his supplies from Fort Wayne on horseback, using a pair of saddlebags. Freeman kept whiskey, for liquor was much used among the Indians and Settlers, who liked its qualities as a preventative of chills.
On November 5, 1838, Daniel Strong and Isaac T. Aldrich, newly chosen commissioners, together with Peter Fair, a member of the old board, met at the house of Wesley Park. The books of the early county, and the first records, were written upon all kinds of manuscript, even family records. As the commissioners met at different times and settlers moved into the county, the few officials having their headquarters at Auburn, were employed in reducing townships areas and districts, until the congressional became the boundary of the civil townships.
The settlers watched neither time nor seasons in their emigration, but waded the snows of winter, or in the summer, following Miller’s trace, skirting the swamps, and, until a land entry could be made, accepting the hospitality of the resident settlers. For several years Auburn was little more than a name, and many lots were bought and held by speculators. In 1839, there was a small sale of lots, but little building upon them. Several men came in the fall of 1839, boarded with Wesley Parks and Freeman, and bought land and lots, aided in the selection by Parks, who charged a small fee for his services. Daniel Altenburg and Levi Walsworth came from Steubenville in November, 1838, having a very difficult journey through the snow and swamp land. Wolves howled in the darkness around their night camps on the trail, and strange and fearsome noises occurred in the forests around them. They expressed themselves as mighty glad to reach the settlement. On January 17, 1840, the Sherlock family came. In 1841 came Samuel W. Sprott, David Weave, David Shoemaker, Henry Curtis, Lyman Chidsey, James R. Cosper and David Cosper.
At this time were four taverns in Auburn, an their cheery interior was utilized by the settlers as a rendezvous were
"A mug of ale, and hearty jest
Did never fail to give a zest"
to the merry companies that assembled there. These taverns were owned by Thomas J. Freeman, O. A. Parson, J. O. Sherlock and Nelson Payne. In the year 1841, there was much sickness in the settlement at Auburn. The old mill dam north of the village was deemed responsible for the fever and ague that came upon the community. The water backed up at the dam, and was veritable hotbed of malaria germs, according to the settlers. They said that malaria was worse in the morning and evening, for the air, when heated, arose, bearing miasma with it, and toward evening as the surface cooled, the malaria sank again to the earth. No medicine could remove the disease while the malaria existed. In this age, we know that such was not the cause of malaria. The breeding and re-breeding of germs caused alternate fever and chill, for the germs lived in the blood, not in the old mill dam, although the mill dam was the home of the mosquito which carried the germ to the human body. Provisions were scarce, the wildness of the surrounding country, and the fewness of the habitants, in number seventy-two, made this year a miserable one and a tax to the strongest and most optimistic pioneer. Dr. Ross, R. B. Cooper and Eli Pritchard were the only doctors.
In 1842, Samuel W. Ralston came to DeKalb county, and found here eight families, among them being those of Wesley Park, O. A. Parsons, J. Puffenberger, Lanslot Ingman, J. O. Sherlock and Nelson Payne.
In 1843, O. C. Houghton and family of New York, came to the settlement, and Houghton bought the steam mill owned by Wesley Park. Aaron Hague and David S. Shoemaker also came in this year. This year is noted on account of the terrific hurricane which swept over DeKalb county, leveling grain fields, unroofing cabins, felling giant trees, of the forest, and performing many peculiar freaks by force of the winds. The next year was also one to be remembered, for the winter was one of the severest in the whole history of DeKalb county. In 1845, efforts were made to have the old mill dam north of town removed, and the case was even taken to the courts.
The Fort Wayne and Coldwater state road through Auburn bore the name of West street, and the Defiance and Goshen state road laid out as entering on Seventh street and leaving on Third street. Cedar street was platted as Main street, and a street east was East street, but was vacated in 1855, because its course led through the bottom lands of Cedar creek and swamps. From Ninth street south to Fifteenth street, was a swampy tract too low for drainage, covered with rank vegetation in the summer. John Kruger established an ashery at the east end of the street. In the year 1848, the taxes of Auburn amounted to $18,337.30.
INCORPORATION AS TOWN
In the year of 1849, Auburn was incorporated as a town, and divided into wards, as follows: First ward, all north of Fourth street; second ward, between Fourth and Eighth streets; third ward between Eighth and Twelfth streets; fourth ward between Twelfth and Green streets; fifth ward remaining south of Green street. The election for officers was held on September 22, and C. A. Parsons, Wesley Park, Nelson Payne, James T. Bliss and Joel E. Hendericks were named as the first board of trustees. These men served in their official capacity without compensation of any kind—except possibly a political favor now and then. T. R. Dickinson was appointed clerk of the new town, Egbert B. Mott, treasurer, and William B. Dancer, assessor. In the fall of 1849, quite a colony of people emigrated from Stark county, Ohio.
At an adjourned meeting of the board of trustees of Auburn, held April 30, 1853, at the store of S. B. Ward, it was resolved: "That in and from this time and henceforth this town be incorporated and governed as provided in Sec. 56, of chapter 108, of the revised statutes of 1852." These laws state that a town may, be resolution, become incorporated under this act, but the same shall be deemed a surrender of all the rights and franchises acquired under any former act of incorporation. The officers were specified to remain the same. Thus, Auburn was again incorporated, but to what advantage it is not known. In the year 1853, also, sidewalks were established at a width of ten feet, and the planting of shade trees was authorized within the ten feet. This was done, and today Auburn’s many trees beautify the town.
The first hotel, intended as such, was kept by T. J. Freeman, who some years afterward built the hostelry known as the Franklin House, also Griswold and later Auburn House. Samuel Reed was the first minister in Auburn, representing the Methodist Episcopal denomination. The first resident carpenter was James R. Cosper, and later Samuel Ralston, Amos Hutchinson and O. C. Houghton came. The first cabinet makers were J. O. P. Sherlock, John Johnson and L. Ingman. The first gunsmith was Isaac Savage, and afterwards, Charles Stimely. The first wagon maker was Jonathan Hall. Philip Fluke was the first tanner. The first shoemakers were: Cyrus Smith, A. Forshee, S. Latson; the first harness maker, William Abright; tinner, Isaac Jones, St., and hatters, Joseph Garver, John Tridell and J. D. Davis. John Tridell started the first foundry on the site of the postoffice.
At the close of the Civil war Auburn was a very quiet and retired village of about seven hundred inhabitants, its principal features being two, long, tree-lined streets, the new court house, the woolen factory and the academy. The academy and woolen factory were afterwards destroyed by fire, also the court house.
The early religious, educational, medical and legal history of the present city of Auburn is discussed fully in the respective chapters dealing with those subjects.
INCORPORATION AS CITY
In the later part of the month of April, 1900, the town of Auburn was incorporated as a city of the fifth class. The town board held its last meeting on May 4th, of that year, and then the following officers took office for the first time: Mayor, Don A. Garwood; clerk, C. B. Weaver; treasurer, David A. Hodge; marshal, E. Morton, Hilkey; councilmen, John Zimmerman, Milen E. Garrett, John B. Rolape, Howard B. McCord, Perry A. Muhn and Eli T. Cochran. Thomas H. Sprott became mayor in 1902; J. Y. W. McClellan in 1904; George O. Denison in 1906, and H. R. Culbertson, the present incumbent, in 1910. James Y. W. McClellan will take the office in January, 1914. The other officers of the city at this date are: E. O. Little, clerk; E. E. Shilling, treasurer; John Kerran, marshal; J. H. St. Clair, E. A. Johnson, Frank Shook, T. H. Leasure and O. J. Wise, councilmen. A new city hall is in process of construction for the use of the city officials, fire department and assembly rooms. This structure is a handsome one of brick with stone trimmings, and will cost when completed, thirty-five thousand dollars.
Auburn possesses public improvements proportionately equal to any other city in northern Indiana. Five miles of asphalt paving add to the beauty of the city, and the streets are at all time kept clean and in the best of condition. The absence of heavy traffic is a saving factor to the asphalt, and consequently, holes and rips are seldom observed. An extensive sewerage system of about seven miles is but another of the sanitary features of the city. Cement walks, lined with beautiful shade trees, with the many artistic residences, make Auburn typically a "city of homes."
The Auburn water and light works was constructed in the year 1898, at an original cost of thirty-five thousand dollars. The plant is now valued at one hundred thousand dollars. The water is drawn from deep artesian wells, and is of the first quality, in clearness and purity. The gas for the city is supplied from the Indiana Light and Heat Company of Fort Wayne, which also furnished the artificial gas to Garrett and Kendallville.
About seventeen years ago, when a committee, of which Charles Eckhart was chairman, established a reading room in the building now occupied by the Maze café, the first steps might be said to have been taken toward the erection of an efficient library for the public. The original Culture Club and in the meantime provided a library for its members and others who contributed to the support of the institution. At that time, however, there existed no library laws as we now have, and abandonment of all these movements was necessitated for want of proper support. The late W. H. Keckler, when president of the Commercial club, became interested in the matter, and he appointed a committee, but unfortunately, this body did nothing.
The various clubs appointed delegates who met conjunctively and Miss Merica Hoagland, then state librarian, gave a thorough discussion relative to the requirements and the methods of procedure necessary to take advantage of the state law. The clubs subsequently submitted reports stating the amounts of money they would contribute and while the result demonstrated the great momentum the movement had gained, it was not equal to the sum necessary for the expedition of the plans. The Thursday Evening club then districted the town of Auburn, assigning territory for each member to canvass. The result was a subscription which assured success for the library.
The organization of a library board was next considered, and the judge appointed Charles Eckhart, Grace Smith and H. E. Coe. The city council appointed Mrs. J. C. Baxter and C. M. Brown. The school board appointed Dr. Lida Leasure and Dr. F. M. Hines. The initial meeting of the official board was held July 6, 1906. The first matter to come up before the board was the choice of a site and the purchase of the necessary equipment. The Culture Club donated three hundred books. A loan library of sixty volumes was given from another source. The citizens contributed their share of the money, and on March 8, 1907, the library was opened, with Mrs. A. H. Barnes as it custodian. Mr. Carnegie was appealed to, and expressed his willingness to give twelve thousand five hundred dollars toward the erection of a permanent building. Charles Eckhart had previously informed the board that he would cheerfully donate the necessary site for a library building.
While the matter of erecting a library building was considered Charles Eckhart took the step which was to make his name everlasting in the history of Auburn and DeKalb county, and to strengthen the feeling of profound respect and affection which his towns people held for him. He not only offered to give the site for the new library, but asked to be allowed to provide means for the erection of a magnificent building, including all the equipment and furnishing. This generous and wholehearted bequest was accepted by the people and accordingly the ground was beautified and a library constructed. On May 13, 1910, the corner stone was laid with fitting ceremony, including a spirited address by Thomas R. Marshall, then governor of the state. The deed, dated December 15, 1909, to the public library board of the city of Auburn, Indiana, was given over on condition that there should forever be maintained on the real estate and building given, a public library, with assembly room open at all reasonable hours, to be non-sectarian and not-political. It was meant to be an organization for the advancement of education and philanthropy, and neither the sale nor the use of tobacco, nor intoxicating liquors, should ever be permitted on said grounds.
CLUBS AND SOCIETIES
In 1908, the various clubs of Auburn and vicinity associated themselves together, "The object being to bring into communication for the various women’s organizations of the city and community, that they may compare methods of work and became mutually helpful in the work of any common interest." The organization thus effected was given the name of "The Woman’s League." The clubs holding membership are: the Ladies’ Reading Club, Ladies’ Literary Club, Entre Nous Club, Auburn Culture Club, Richardson Art Embroidery Club, Utile Dulci Club, Thursday Evening Club, En Ami Club, Auburn Amateur Musicale, Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The officers of the League are: Mrs. J. E. Buchanan, president; Miss Inez Knapp, vice-president; Mrs. Beulah Casebeer, secretary; and Mrs., A. M. Oswalt, treasurer.
Club life and work is one of the main features of Auburn society. The associations have always done their work well, and have aided materially in making Auburn a better and clearer city, and to these forces is due a great deal of credit for the defeat of the saloon element in the past several years.
The Auburn Commercial Club was organized on February 14, 1903, with forty members, and now has an enrollment of one hundred and fifty. W. H. Schaab is president, C. B. Weaver secretary, and E. W. Hicks treasurer. The purpose of this organization is the furtherance of civic and commercial interests pertaining to Auburn. The work down by these men is directly responsible for the present high standard of Auburn business and municipal excellence.
The Auburn Country Club was organized on April 5, 1910, and purchased a twenty-seven acre tract on East Seventh street. F.E. Eckhart, John Zimmerman, J. I. Farley, George Shepard, A. M. Oswalt, M. L. Green, H. C. McClung, J. E. Pomeroy and A. L. Kuhlman were charter members.
Besides the three lodges, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Masons, and Knights of Phythias, treated at length in the lodge chapter, the following are in Auburn: DeKalb County Poultry Association, Grand Army of the Republic, DeLong Post No. 67; Woman’s Relief Corps, DeLong Post No. 2; Knights of Golden Eagle, Auburn Lodge No. 25; Ladies of Golden Eagle, Auburn Temple No. 23; Knights of the Maccabees, Auburn Tent No. 51; Ladies of the Maccabees, Conrad Hive No. 9; Modern Woodmen of America, Eureka Camp No. 3805; Royal Neighbors, Warner Camp No. 3095.
The Auburn postoffice is now of the second class. Sixteen men are employed in the department, including the postmaster and deputy. There are six rural routes going from the Auburn office. Seventeen mail trains daily supply the transportation for the mail. The amount of deposit for the saving department in November, 1913, was a total of fifteen thousand dollars. The amount of business of the office, outside of money orders, for the last fiscal year was twenty-seven thousand two hundred and fifty-four dollars and sixty-eight cents. The present postmaster’s commission is dated April 15, 1910. The following is complete list of the postmasters who have served at Auburn, obtained from the first assistant postmaster-general at Washington D. C.
Wesley Park, date of appointment, March 5, 1839; Nelson Payne, October 6, 1845; Alonzo Watkins, May 15, 1849; E. B. Mott, February 10, 1851; T. R. Dickinson, June 15, 1853; J. B. Hoover, December 24, 1855; William C. McGonigal, July 15, 1858; John Butt, April 6, 1859; Wyllis Griswold, March 9, 1860; C. S. Hare, August 27, 1860; J. W. Case, April 16, 1861; S. W. Sprott, March 13, 1867; J. D. Barr, July 19, 1867; William E. Rush, December 16, 1867; J. W. Case, March 19, 1867; S. L. Yandes, August 4, 1869; Joseph Ranier, June 20, 1876; George W. Gordon, December 15, 1881; Michael Boland, August 6, 1885; George W. Gordon, September 19, 1889; Silas J. Brandon, November 1, 1893; Granville H. Forker, October 22, 1897; Thomas A. Carter, January 9, 1902; Aubrey L. Kuhlman, January 23, 1906; Isaac M. Zent, April 4, 1910.
YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION
Another superb monument to Auburn’s notable citizen, Charles Eckhart, is the handsome building for the Young Men’s Christian Association, completed on the corner of North Main and Fourth streets. This building is of brick and stone, and cost about forty thousand dollars. Charles and Frank E. Eckhart, on June 25, 1912, offered a substantial sum each, for the site, the building and equipment complete, to be turned over to the city, providing the latter would agree to provide a customary share of its annual support. The building was deeded to a board of trustees. This magnificent institution will have a well equipped gymnasium with all the modern apparatus, a plunge bath, several class rooms, a commodious kitchen, a large lobby for general use, a room for the men, and one for boys. There are sixteen rooms in the dormitory, and ten showers baths.
The Zimmerman Manufacturing Company was established in 1873 by Franklin T. Zimmerman, with a partner named Watson, as a planing mill. Watson sold his interest to George B. Zimmerman, and the firm then became known as Zimmerman Brothers. This continued until December of 1876, when George B. sold out to Eli Zimmerman, and then the firm name changed to Zimmerman Company. In December, 1886, the firm was incorporated under the title of Zimmerman Manufacturing Company, which cognomen is still bears. The first officers of the incorporation were: John W. Baxter, president; Eli Zimmerman, secretary; Albert Robbins, treasurer; F. T. Zimmerman, general manager. In 1880, and until 1908, the company manufactured windmills of every type. In 1890 the carriage business was begun, and in1907, the automobile industry. The machines are assembled here, and shipped to every part of the United States. The present officers are: Eli Zimmerman, president; C. C. Schlatter, vice-president; John Zimmerman, secretary-treasurer and general manager. F. T. Zimmerman was the real founder, and acted as manager until the spring of 1910, when his health failed, his death occurring in September of the same year. The capital stock of the company is sixty-one thousand dollars. The factory had one hundred thousand square feet of floor space, and an average of ninety men are employed in all departments.
The Auburn Automobile Company was established at Auburn in October of the year 1902. The business was begun with small capacity and little capital, but steadily has increased, until now it is one of the largest automobile concerns in the state and middle west. The first capital was twenty-five thousand dollars, and in the eleven years since the establishment this sum had mounted to five hundred thousand dollars. Charles Eckhart is the president of the corporation; Frank E. Eckhart, vice-president, and Morris E. Eckhart, secretary-treasurer and general manager. The manufacture and assembling of automobiles is the sole business of this concern, although the company at one time manufactured buggies. Shipments are made to all parts of the United States and to many foreign countries. The floor space of the present factory is over one hundred and twenty-five thousand square feet, and from one hundred and fifty to two hundred men are employed. During the last three years the annual business had been about two million dollars.
The W. H. McIntyre Company was established in the year 1883 under the name of W. H. Kiblinger Company, and this company manufactured carriages. In the year of 1909 the firm name was changed to the W. H. McIntyre Company, which it bears at this time. The incorporation, however, occurred ten years pervious to this change in name. W. H. McIntyre is president and treasurer of this company, and H. C. McIntyre is secretary. The capital stock is one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Three plants are operated in the city of Auburn, and four hundred men are employed on the average. Shipments are made both to points in the United States and foreign lands. Autos, truck and cyclecars are manufactured. One plant formerly located just north of the Swineford hotel, was destroyed by fire in the year 1913.
Besides the three automobile factories, the city of Auburn has tow carriage factories, a creamery, a handle factory, a carriage body factory, and excelsior factory, and artificial ice plant, a rug factory, a post card factory, two cigar factories, a cigar-lighter factory, one foundry, a double fabric tire reinforcing factory, a heating an ventilating company, an several small mills.
STORM OF SEPTEMBER 29, 1872
At the opening of the year 1872, many buildings had been built in the town of Auburn, and many others were in the process of construction. Among the finer blocks was the Odd Fellows’ hall.
On the 29th of September, 1872, between three and four o’clock in the morning, a terrific gale sprang up from the southwest and struck the new building with a driving force. Its wall, which was then ready for the roof, crumbled under the pressure and crashed to the ground, damaging to the Methodist Episcopal church on the east. The storm once past, a desolate and discouraging sight were the streets of Auburn. Heaps of broken stone, brick, and splintered timber lay in profusion in every direction. Few buildings but received their share of the storm. And especially the Odd Fellow’s hall.
FALL OF SNYDER BLOCK
On Sunday evening, April 6, 1873, the new brick block of Seventh street known as the Snyder’s building fell. For a few days before, it had been noticed that the inner foundation wall was weak and gave indication of giving way, but no precautions were taken to prevent the calamity until after the roar and crash of the falling structure announced that it was too late. Mr. Snyder’s stock of farm implements inside was totally destroyed, and the Ensley building, adjoining, was also destroyed.
On Saturday night, February 16, 1867, the county treasurer’s office at Auburn was broken open and robbed of eighteen thousand dollars, according to reports. The outer door of the office was of iron, and was drilled into and pried off, the wooden doors forced open. The outer door of the safe was cut through the panels, above and below the lock, the inner bolts withdrawn, and the door opened. The money chest was opened by steel wedges and bars. The general work of the affair was evidently that of an expert "cracksman." Suspicion fell upon several parties, and arrests were made, but being unsuccessful after several months, the affairs was dropped. A great deal of litigation resulted, and in 1875 the matter was settled by the county accepting a judgement of fifty-eight hundred dollars.