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Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 2 Oct 1890)

From what we can learn of the founder of Auburn by private narrative and public record, he was an enterprising, generous, public-spirited and patriotic man and took a leading part in pioneer official actions.

The first election was held in July 1837 when Peter Fair, Samuel Widney and Isaac F. Beecher were chosen county commissions, Walborn and Thomas L. Yates, associate judges of court and John F. Coburn, clerk and recorder. The first board of commissioners met the same month in which they were elected, appointing Wesley Park, clerk and treasurer for the time. B. Bunnell was made county agent for sale of lots and John Blair county assessor. Townships were formed, roads ordered laid out and commissioners appointed to do the work. Andrew Surface, Bunnell, and Park were appointed supervisors at the Sept. term. Park’s authority extended over five full townships, designated "district number 1." The first count levy was 25 cts., on $100 valuation.

The commissioners at this session allowed Park $50.84 for services as commissioner, in running out the Ft. Wayne and Coldwater state road and the Goshen and Defiance state road and for services as sheriff. Park’s house served as hotel, church, court house and jail. The upper chambers was used for prisoners, who went up the ladder which was then taken away and they were told to stay there and they always did so.

There being pressing need of lumber, W. Park and Samuel Ogden build and run a sawmill on the creek, not far from Park’s cabin. The season was healthy and people came on to prospect. Some bought lots speculatively and had a chance to hold them for a long time.

At the fall commissioners’ court, grand and petit juries were elected for the first circuit court, which was held in the spring of 1838 by Charles Ewing in the lower part of Park’s house. Park wrote, "During the sitting of court, it had to suspend till dinner was cooked; this gave the judge time for a nap which was very desirable, as he was generally fatigued and sometimes rather boozy. He was a brother to W. and G. Ewing, fur traders."

Thomas L. Yates, one of the associate judges when called to his seat beside Ewing appeared in a coarse hunting shirt and fox skin cap and seemed much embarrassed in his new position. He made a good judge, but one day says Park "He got drunk and sentenced one Joseph Bashford, to receive a whipping, and swore that as he was the court and had passed sentence he would inflict the penalty; as the judge was making toward the criminal with the avowed intention, I seized him, and giving he a whirl told him plainly that if the court persisted in inflicting the penalty threatened, the sheriff would put the court up the ladder. Upon this, the court acknowledged the authority of the sheriff, and adjourned peaceably."

Yates had settled in Concord township upon a farm, the present site of Spencerville. This he sold and then settled in Jackson township, on the Lockwood farm. Walden, who had settled early in 1836 near Orangeville, also made a good judge.

At a session in 1838, of the commissioners’ court, the following appropriations were made from the three per cent fund for the roads mentioned below viz:

For the Goshen and Defiance road $800, a like sum for the Ft. Wayne and Coldwater, and $400 for the St. Joseph state road. There does not seem to have been much of Auburn as yet, more than three or four rude log houses, and how the grand and petit juries, eighteen in all were accommodate is a query. Perhaps some one of the survivors could enlighten the public by his experience. The year was marked by considerable sickness. Coburn’s house down at Wolf’s was quite a distance through the woods and into charge of visits between the few women folks as they found occasion in the midst of their daily labors was a pleasant relief. The women need sociability as much if not more than the men in those days. The social amusements proceeded from matters of necessity. The raising of log cabins was generally accompanied with a quilting, or something of the sort, and these brought together the whole neighborhood. When the house was up, innocent amusements succeeded.

It is remembered that Wesley Park offered a lot as a prize to the winner of a foot race between women, a spirited contest was the consequence, and the lot was at once deeded to the victor and long held by the family.

The early necessity of roads made busy work for the commissioners, appointing viewers to determine their course which was not always plainly recorded, but the people manage to get along and left to later times to make better record.

It transpires that old records made by the first township trustees are either missing altogether or exist in a dilapidated condition, as the rights of the public in road and also the rights of landowners are affected by the same, the importance of looking up and preserving the old records, becomes obvious. The time has come when substantial record books should be obtained where they are wanting and where the trustee has not the time to spare, a competent person should be employed to transcribe the first record.

L. Ingram assessed DeKalb county in 1888 and one may imagine the long journeys from clearing to clearing before he had completed his work in so extended and sparsely settled a region, and his allowance when done was $24.00.

Many a settler found himself almost compelled to assume the role of tavern-keeper and as a means of raising a revenue, a license was assessed of twenty dollars on all who kept public houses. There seemed to have been somewhat of a prejudice against the presumably yankee peddler of clocks, as the tariff was fixed at sixty dollars on the vender. The small boy’s vender and the old folks’ delight, the old fashioned caravan, later known as menagerie or a show of wax figures exhibiting for money was charged forty dollars for each day’s performance while the necessary ferryman paid five dollars for the privilege of plying his calling.

Continued next week




Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Auburn Courier - 9 Oct 1890)

It is said that one Comstock opened the first store in Auburn, but there is no record of the fact.

Thomas J. Freeman, who occupied a frame at Park’s corners and kept tavern, desiring to sell goods came before the commissioners for a license on March 5, 1838, whereupon it was "ordered that the tax assessed to Thomas J. Freeman for a license to vend foreign merchandise, foreign and domestic groceries for the current year be eighty-five cents, it appearing that the amount of his capital employed therein is $170." Freeman is said to have brought his supplies of goods and groceries from Ft. Wayne on horseback in a pair of saddlebags. The Indian not less then the settler loved whisky and Freeman like most tavern-keepers of that time realized his principal profit from his sales of this commodity. Liquor was much used by the pioneers, it was the preventive of chills, the solace of the woodsman and at log cleaning or cabin raising, it was the stimulus that impelled to the excited competition for honor due physical strength. Records of fine show many a charge of assault and battery doubtless due to the "good whisky of our fathers’ times."

In newly settled counties generally here was an appeal to combat to settle difference and fines were the result until they became troublesome. The court then became the arena to which contentions and quarrels were carried and finally arbitrated. If one could not afford the fine or imprisonment, which would be incurred by taking personal satisfaction, he brought a suit and no matter how small the amount claimed, or how trifling the matter, if he could throw his adversary into the costs; he was as elated as if he had made him cry, "enough, take him off." It is this spirit that inspired many a vexatious and costly lawsuit these days.

It has been stated that Mr. Park had agreed to donate one third of the lots in the old plot and as there were over three hundred of them, the county became owner of one hundred. The county agent Bryon Bunnell, was authorized to sell ten of these lots that would best suit purchasers and on the best terms he could secure. He was also authorized to contract for the building of a jail at Auburn, if he could sell enough of the county lots to pay for the work. The following is the plan proposed.

"Said jail to consist of one ground room, sixteen feet square inside of the walls, The upper soil where the jail stands shall be removed and three sticks of timber one foot square and twenty long shall be bedded ten inches into the ground, twenty feet apart from the outside of the two extremes, upon which a floor shall be laid of timber a foot thick and eight to sixteen inches wide making a floor twenty feet square upon which said jail shall be built of double walls of each side two feet thick. The inside wall shall be eight feet high between floors." The jail was to have a shingle roof and be lighted with one four-light window of 8 x 10 glass. It was to be secured by iron grates of inch square bars running at right angles, three inches apart.

On Nov. 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 to ______ county business, Anthony Mock and Riley Jacobs were each allowed $1.00 for a day’s service as bailiff of grand jury at the previous April term of court. Coburn supplied what books were required for official use and the early records of the county are written upon books, some of which had been in previous use in keeping personal accounts. When all the circumstances are taken into consideration, the first county officials appear to have done a vast amount of important business at little cost to the settlers and of great value to posterity, and to have done it well.

As the commissioners met session after session and settlers moved into various parts of the county, the few officials having their headquarters at Auburn, were employed in reducing township areas and districts until the congressional became the boundary of the civil townships.

The settlers regarded neither times nor seasons in their journeys, but came in as best they could whether in winter, wading its snows, or in summer, following Miller’s Trace, skirting the swamps, and temporarily accepting the hospitality of settlers until an entry could be made when they went on putting up their cabin, and moved into it, doorless, without windows and perhaps chinked, but not dunbed. Continued next week


Some Reminiscences of Its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 16 Oct 1890)

The history of the county in 1838, if written by surviving pioneers would consist of journeys to mill or city for provisions, sufferings of the sick, left often alone in their cabins, hunting adventures among the deer and work in the clearings.

The remembrance by the settlers, of relatives, killed or captured by Indians, the terrible torture inflicted on Crawford and others, inspired a dread of the red man and although the record or memories give account of no cabins burnt, inmate murders and scalped, yet the sight of Indians was sufficient to create anxiety and fear. The Indians still dwelt in the woods, shifting their camps from point to point and bartering cranberries and venison for the settler’s flour when he had any.

These were nights of terror when husbands absent and the dismal howling of wolves were heard from the edge of the clearings, and there was fear lest at any moment Indian or wild beast might invade the sometimes doorless cabin, easily done by pushing aside the hanging blanket. And husbands returning late at night through the woods along the trace, held a ready grasp upon the rifle not knowing but that he might be attacked. A settler came in and built a cabin fourteen feet square, others followed and were offered the hospitalities of the dwelling. In this little log cabin fourteen persons lived several months. For some reason, every one took sick and the settlers swung beds to the wall, one above another to accommodate all the sick.

The stock of reading was limited of very few books and they were well read. The monotony of the town was broken and enlivened by the howling wolves, which seemed to moan their inability to drive the settlers from their long and undisputed domain.

John Miller, a well known and highly respected settler relates: ‘One cold March evening, after chopping hard all day, I took a bushel of potatoes and seventeen or eighteen pounds of pork, in a sack upon my shoulder, and started about dusk for home. The distance I had to travel along a blind trail through brush in darkness was about six miles. In undertaking to cross Buck creek on a small timber log placed for the purpose, I fell off in the water, which was high. Cold, wet and tired I pursued my journey with heavy load, and was weary enough when I set down my load in my cabin." Although enduring great privations, much happiness fell to the kind of life they were living. One of them said: "When I look back upon the first few years of our residence here, I am led to exclaim. "Oh Happy days of primitive simplicity!" What little aristocratic feeling anyone might have brought with him was soon quelled, for we soon found ourselves equality dependent on one another and we enjoyed our winter evenings around our hissing hearth in our log huts, full as well, aye, much better than has fallen to our lots since the distinctions and animosities consequent upon the acquisition of wealth have crept in among us.


The year 1839 is remembered by the surviving pioneers of DeKalb county as very sickly. There were not a few who were entirely laid up with bilious fever, leaving the ablest of the family to do what work they could.

The entire country was covered by heavy forest growth. Some of the finest timber in America has been cut from the woods of DeKalb, its oak, cherry and black walnut if preserved till now would enrich its owners, but the one object of the settler was to get a patch of land cleared to put in wheat or corn and all trees were cut and logged for burning, to gain this end, and black walnut easy to split was used for fencing in the clearings.

As the hot sun rays fell upon open spaces, malaria from moisture and decaying vegetation, became powerful, slowly diffused itself through the air and carried ague in its course. Dormant in damp ground for long years, it became active as the ground was stirred and settlers were enervated by its pernicious influence, till they were unable to provide themselves with food or medical treatment.

Malaria was worse morning and evening for the air when heated rose 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 malaria existed. It has now disappeared, but only the pioneer knows the loss of available labor from this cause.

Few were the families at this period but knew times of suffering for want of food and attendance. Wild meat could usually be procured without much trouble, deer, turkey, pheasant and other game; but to live on this alone however palatable would tend to enfeeble any but Indians, and hunters long accustomed to its use.

The following touching incident of privation and distress is related of a young man who with his family settled in the thick woods distant from any other settlement. ‘During the summer he cleared a small patch, built him a cabin and in the fall became sick and died. Soon after, a hunter on his way home passing by the clearing saw everything still about the cabin, mistrusted all was not right and knocked at the door to inquire. A feeble voice bade him enter. Opening the door he was startled by the appearance of a woman sitting by a fire, pale, emsoiated? and holding a poor sickly babe. He immediately inquired their health. She burst into tears and was unable to answer. Th hunter stood for a moment aghast at the scene. The woman recovering from her gust of sorrow at length raised her head and pointed toward the bed saying, "there is my little Edward, I expect he is dying, and there is my babe, so sick I cannot lay it down. I am so feeble I can scarcely remain in my chair and my poor husband lies buries beside the cabin. And then, as if frantic by the fearful recital, she spoke in a tone of the deepest anguish, ‘Oh, that I was back to my own home where I could fall into the arms of my mother!" Tears of sympathy rolled down the weather-beaten cheeks of the iron-framed hunter, as he, promising to return, rapidly walked away to bring assistance."

With a sparse population confined principally to the southern and eastern parts of this county, there were few of the men, but in addition to their own work, had to go to the aid of new comers to help raise their log houses or to serve in some official capacity under orders of court or commissioners.

Continued next week


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 6 Nov 1890)

The demand for roads in various quarters was made known by petitions, and survey was generally ordered. Inability to bridge swamps at that day compelled road masters to follow high ground skirting low, wet places, and resulted in crooks and windings, still to some extent. Mr. Miller having more than he could do. George Weeks, then of Newville, and J. W. Ball were engaged in surveys, and the commissioners record of 1839 names many a pioneer who carried a chain or swung the ax to blaze the route, and viewed the embryo road.

At the May term of probate court, only Ariel Walden and Nelson Payne, associate judges, were in attendance to dispose of the few cases of wills and guardianships. It was ordered that the publication required by law be made by setting up written notices in three of the most public places in this county. Coburn, the clerk, has left a plainly written, well expressed record, and the proceedings generally reflect great credit upon the men chosen to form the new county and conduct its business. At the circuit court, Henry Cooper and Reuben J. Dawson were admitted as attorneys and counselor-at-law at the bar. In looking over the record, the character of the cases reveals much of the pioneer life. Grand larceny was by no means uncommon when among the pioneers was found a class of human strays who hunted but would not work and whose law was to take and keep what came in their way white strolling about the clearings.

There was much of physical force when strength was all important in the contest with nature, and we see it plainly revealed in the long race from the chosen section far off in the woods to the land office, the journeys for supplies to the northern points or south to Fort Wayne, and in the very actions of the judges met to try the merits of alleged misdemeanors.

Many the long tramp, ride and journey then, that to us of today would seem almost impossible, and a contrast of the emigrants coming slowly on horseback, ox sled and on foot with the lightning trains from east to the far west, is more than wonderful, it is marvelous. Not all who came to Auburn in ’38 and earlier were poor, but such was the condition of the great majority. There were speculators, and usurers then, as there had been from times memorial, and the disappointments caused by sickness and death compelled a terror to the latter class. Who can recount and understand, save in his own bitter experience, the privations of poverty, augmented by suits for debt and foreclosures of mortgages, turning the settler adrift and voiding to him all the labor and suffering so far endured.

I envy no man his wealth, won by foreclosed mortgages on the homes of the unfortunate. It needs a heart steeled to feeling, and no _____ to which the good Samaritan was a stranger.

For several years, Auburn was little more than a name, and many lots were bought and held by speculators. In march, ’38, John B. Howe, Park’s associate, seems to have lost faith or interest in the place, judging by his sale of a large number of lots to Henry Work for $400. In ’89 there was some sale of lots, but few if any building on them. Several settlers who have of late years become prominent in Auburn as officials and business men, came this year and settled on farms in the country.

The first restrictions upon selling whiskey are revealed in several indictments for selling to Indians and for "selling to be drunk in the home." The frequent ague thrill, that indescribable emotion, at the stomach, that gaping yawn sought readies relief from the fiery warmth of alcoholic drink. I do not know whether the Indians had chills, but if they did, they were right in seeking relief from whisky.

It is remembered that Park and Spencer had offered many lots to the county and that Byron Bunnell had been appointed agent for their sale as needed. The commissioners have left it on record that "Bunnell not having settled with the commissioners as required by law, for nineteen months was dismissed and Thomas J. Freeman was appointed in his place. All orders for selling town lots and for building a jail were rescinded although he was paid for what had been done.

Freeman, Park and Nelson Payne, who came into notice as merchants at "the corners" were appointed superintendents for building a jail, and it was made their duty to select for a site some one of the lots owned by the county, to prepare a plan and to progress with the building as fast as practicable. Payment was to be made with the proceeds of the sale of the lots. No debts were to be made so as to necessitate the selling of such lots for less than their real value. All county lots were subject to sale except lots No. 169 and 170, which were not to be offered by Freeman who, however, was authorized to select either of them, or any other site for the jail. The new county agent was required to give bonds to the amount of $5,000, which seems to have been excessive but satisfactory to both parties. The excepted lots are those occupied by Trout’s livery stable and the new engine house, made over from the old jail. The tax levied was 85c on the $100. L. Ingman, treasurer, made report in the fall, "no money in the treasury," and the same condition of things has, with short lived exceptions, continued down to the present.

Freeman reports the sale of four lots, viz: Nos. 68 for $35, 71 for $20, 25 for $18 and 80 for $30. Total receipts, $103. With this he had paid for making and acknowledging two deeds, $1.50, for clearing the jail lot of timber, $6.00, hewing 1,680 feet of timber, $16.20, and for making 1,600 shingles, $9.00.

Several men came in the fall of ’39, boarded with Parks and Freeman, and bought land and lots, aided in their selection by Parks, who charged a small fee for his trouble.

Continued next week


Some Reminiscences of it Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 13 Nov 1890)

Daniel Altenburg and Levi Walsworth with their wives, who were sisters of James Latson, so long county coroner, moved to Auburn from Steubenville, Steuben county, Nov. 4, 1838 and found much difficulty in making their journey. A heavy snow had fallen and continued to fall so obscuring the road and bending overloaded boughs that one had to go in advance to keep the track. The women assisted to drive some stock they had brought with them, walking in snow and mud, keeping pace with the slow ox teams. Night came on and they were ___ in the forest, with no way of making a fire, nothing for their animals to eat and no resting place but the wagons. The long drawn terrifying howl of a wolf was answered by others which gathered around them frightening the women and children. One yoke of cattle got entirely off the road and the wagon became so entangled among logs and trees that it had to be left and both yokes being hitched to one wagon they drove on to the vicinity of Isaac B. Smith’s cabin in Smithfield township followed by a pack of howling wolves.

Mr. Smith took in the belated immigrants and kept them till morning when the abandoned wagon was recovered and three miles progress made when night returned and found them at Cedar Creek, where Uniontown now is. Here they saw a board shanty occupied by two men who were employed building a bridge and who gave them the hospitality of the cabin in which they some how contrived to bestow themselves. Surmounting the difficulty of arriving, they finally got through to Auburn where they remained till January 1839 when they moved into the cabin of Altenburg’s three miles east of the village. The cabin was chimneyless and open between the logs while nightly the woods rang with the howling of wolves. "From Jan. 1, to March 10" said Walsworth, "Our women saw no human beings but their own families with one solitary exception of a man who strayed in." they had ample experience of pioneers’ troubles, being days on journeys to Union Mills, Lagrange county, for bread stuffs and after hard days work chopping, walking through the swamps to Auburn for a bushel of potatoes. Mr. Altenburg was one day at work chopping off a clearing when a tree fell upon him breaking his arm and several ribs, the result was the loss of an arm and he was fortunate in not losing his life. Two amputations and a year of most intense suffering were endured by him and long after, severe neuralgia pain and tortured and almost distorted this early and long surviving settler. It is several years since he returned to Auburn and located in the north end of town in Rainier & Headley’s addition. A third amputation proved fruitless and I am sure that few on Old Setters’ Day, some years ago, who saw him upon the platform but felt compassion in these life-long consequences of the accident. He died in 1888,

Another of the difficulties met at this time was scarcity of teams. The settlers had raised nothing of account to feed cattle in winter and they were forced to make shifts to get along without. This meant hard labor logging with hand-spikes in the clearings and digging holes among the roofs of stumps with hoes and putting in seed corn. There were crops raised entirely by use of the hoe.

It was a happy thought sometime ago by Mr. Heberling to treat the old settlers to a free ride behind a traction engine as a reminder of those days when they used cast iron mold board plows that would not scour, hoed the corn fields and reaped the wheat with the sickle.

In the clerk’s office is an old book bearing the inscription printed along the back, "Record of ear marks" There one can see the bieroglyphie representation of the ear marks of Parks, Ingman and others whose ingenuity in this direction is only equaled by the skill of the delineator of bovine figures. The times are changed now and not all for the better. There was a healthy pleasure in the journeys on toward night, by the children for the cows, which socially herded together as they browsed the shrubbery and grass and made known their where abouts by bell-ringing not so harmonious perhaps as the performances of the Swiss family, but as musical to the barefooted boys and girls who among the various sounds, quickly single out their own bell. Sometimes they were belated before the cows were found and as they started homeward, thoughts of wild beasts made them keep close, with a felling of companionship in the presence of the cows.

There are good fences in these times and one township and town after another has rescinded orders permitting stock to run at large land and the cattle of their own accord seek the farm had rich meadows, flowing springs and streams supply good pasture to the many fine herds of blooded cattle, little by little purchased and raised by leading farmers.

There are many things of old time memories. They are not all in cutting roads, logging, clearing and filing ear marks; there is the memory of native cattle, swine and sheep which ill-contrast with the Durham cattle, Poland China hogs and merino sheep which constitutes the stock of to-day.

Continued next week


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens


(Re: Auburn Courier – 4 Dec 1890)

The year 1840 is remarkable for the great enthusiasm of the whig party in it advocacy of Harrison, of Indiana, for president. "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too." Logs cabins and hard cider were the slogan of the people, and the consequent victory after the democratic party had been in power for forty years filled the whigs with exultation, but in the far off woods of DeKalb County the desire of home, food and health was the ruling, emotion and no statement of which party gained the day in the various elections of this early time appears on record.

On feature of the settlement of this region was the independent character of the arrivals. Year after year they came not in companies to found colonies but individuals made their way hither to spy out the land, select and make their entries and then return for families for a permanent sojourn.

In the sense there was illustrated Darwin’s "survival of the fittest," for those easy of discouragement soon returned, the plucky but weakly fell pray to disease, and the strong took and held their ground.

It is usual in telling of the war to depict in glowing terms the devotion of soldiers to their colors and cause. How they fought, endured and triumphed, forms the themes of all oratory, while the anxiety, suspense, isolation, loneliness and final certainty of violent death of loved ones, harrowing the feelings and seating a sorrow not to be removed, has little recognition, so in pioneer days the old settler is the center figure about whom converged all of interest. We follow him on wearisome journeys, sympathize with him in his losses and rejoice at this final success, while his wife separated from her relatives by many leagues of forest, often left alone by night as well as by day with only her little children, helping in the clearing, seeding and harvesting, taking charge when fever had brought down her husband, and bravely keeping on till physically exhausted and borne to a final rest, while she is almost ignored. It is not yet too late for some of our pioneer mothers to tell their story of the early days and to let their somewhat degenerate granddaughters know how they lived, toiled and in what they found their recreations. They had no sewing machine, nor organ, nor fancy footgear, nor skating rink, no swift train bore them to a neighboring village, nor accommodating bus to an out-town social. An old lady informs me that when she visited her neighbors, she took one of the two children on her back, carried the other in her arms and so made her way through the woods to the desired clearing, met a hearty greeting and was accompanied part way home by her gratified neighbor.

There is now living in the north end of Auburn a family who came here January 17, 1840, and were familiar with the trials of that now olden time. J. O. P. Sherlock came here in the fall of ’39, stopped with Mr. Ingman for a while and engaged a lot from Park. He returned to Columbus, Ohio for his family. He came back via Ft. Wayne coming north, he found the snow deep along the blazed trail and reaching the cabin of Robert Work, left there his team and household goods. Mrs. Hannah Sherlock was mounted on horseback with two children, Charles aged seven and William four years, and rode to Auburn preceded by Mr. Sherlock on foot. She was very tired when the party finally reached the cabin of John F. Coburn, who was out chopping a log in front of the door. She called to him, "How far is it the Auburn?" and Coburn replied: "You are in Auburn now." "Well, I’m mighty glad," she said but there was nothing to distinguish the locality as a town site from any of the miles of woods through which they had traveled.

Up to trace they went to Ingman’s and were made welcome by her sister to quarters in their home. She was soon called upon by some of the women in the place, viz.; Mrs. Park, Mrs. Payne and Mrs. Frink. She found that the Methodist conference was being held here and was rejoiced at the prospect of company while the meeting lasted. Mr. Sherlock and family passed the winter with Ingman and in the spring, moved into a little log house then standing on the lot now occupied by Alfred Cass, and lived there till ’42 when they moved into a house built by Sherlock on lot now owned by John Baxter. For a time, Sherlock kept tavern. He was a cabinet maker, pursued his trade and made the rough coffin in which the first to die were placed for burial in the old cemetery. The condition of the grave yard at that time away in the woods may be inferred from the fact that it was with difficulty that Mr. Coburn found the place of his wife’s burial, some time afterwards.

Mrs. Sherlock was tailor for the settlers, made up clothing and essayed millinery in doing up the bonnets of the women folks.

The home was sold to Aaron Hague, who had been elected auditor, was torn down and the dwelling of Tomas Baldock was put up by Sheriff John Miller in its place.

The only other women in Auburn in the early part of 1840 were Mrs. Jacobs, Mrs. Alford, Mrs. Ingman, Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Coburn, and this short list was destined to be speedily reduced by death. There is not telling what caused this mortality, but it seems that the place was for years unhealthy and this fact explains its slow and doubtful growth. It almost seems as if those pioneers sacrificed themselves unknowingly to prepare the way for those who were to come afterwards.

To be continued next week


Some Reminiscences of its Early days and Pioneer Citizens


(Re: Auburn Courier – 11 Dec 1890)

Small as the village was, the inhabitants were alive to the need of education their children and Mr. Sherlock, trustee went in search of a teacher. He found one in the person of Miss Jane Bailey, who engaged to teach a subscription school for the summer term. The school was held in a deserted, partly unfinished building which was, also, used for meetings. Sherlock complains of the scarcity of provisions which were brought up from Fort Wayne. Himself and Ingman being in partnership in cabinet-making received an order accompanied by $5.00. This money came very opportunely and it was, at once, given to Riley Jacobs who was going to the city, and he was directed to use it in buying flour, but it was not a question of price, there was none to be had and Jacobs invested the money in corn meal which was found to be musty and both families were out of meal in a week. The question of provisions was a serious one and those scarce of cash saw hard times. There was hunger and not much means on hand to satisfy its carvings. Greens were gathered on the bottom and boiled for use. Deer and pheasants could be killed with little difficulty and venison was plenty. Sherlock though laying no claim to skill in hunting, shot three deer one evening on what was later the Mader farm. It was the need of flour; meal and even potatoes were welcome provided they were to be had. Night after night the wolves assembled above the mill dam and their chorused howlings made darkness dismal to the few occupants of the village.

Sickness from ague became serious; and from roots was sought and found fruitless and a Dr. Wheelock was sent for from Huntertown.

The records inform us that O. A. Parsons came in ’40, applied for a license to sell merchandise which was granted him, and so a second stock of supplies was brought in while Freeman the pioneer in mercantile effort continued in the business. Their patronage as we have intimated was from the new comers on their entries miles away and their goods were of the kind in demand by those who were governed in choice by necessity.

The village can scarcely be said to have been growing. To be sure, lots changed owners, a school had been taught, a jail and court house were contemplated, a few cabins went up and trade men sought to practice their callings, but life was lonely and monotonous and only the sonorous sighing of the sawmill broke the primitive stillness. Settlers coming along in their wagons temporarily left their families here till preparations could be made for shelter on their future farms and the women were glad when called to leave, and their are yet living those who preferred the loneliness of the woods in the company of infant children in a doorless, sashless cabin, to the little settlement of straggling houses to which the summer evening breeze wafted the paralyzing miasm rising from the milldam and along the timber obstructed bed of Cedar creek.

On September 5th ’40, Sarah A. Sherlock was born. She is the wife of Mr. Cass, and is now the oldest native resident of the town of Auburn.

Nelson Payne, a blacksmith, by trade was living on a farm in Richland township, and early became identified with public affairs.

At the May session of the commissioners court, the county officers having determined to build a court house on the public square, appointed Messrs. Freeman, Park and Payne superintendents to attend to the business.

Its dimensions were to be "thirty feet north and south, and forty feet, east and west, six feet of which shall be a portico, four feet to stairs and wood rooms, Leaving the court house thirty feet square. Two front doors and an alley from each to circle fronting the judges bench which was to be elevated a few feet above the floor. The clerk’s seat and table to be in front of the bench. The criminal’s box to be also, in front of the bench. The rooms to be lighted by eleven 24-light windows above and below, The front of portico to be supported by four turned pillars fifteen inches in diameter." The cost of this contemplated building was to be defrayed by a sale of lots belonging to the county, excepting those required to pay for the jail, ten per cent set aside by law for a county library, and in-lot No. 12 which was not to be sold.

On the 9th of September Riley Jacob succeeded Mr. Freeman as county agent and at this, session the county levy was fixed at $2.00 on $100.00.

Initial measures were taken to destroy wolves by a bounty of two dollars a scalp for each wolf over six months old, and one dollar for each one under that age. The expected hunters were instructed to produce the scalps before a justice of the peace and to swear that they were the immediate cause of the death of the wolves, that they were killed within bounds of the county and that they have not spared a she wolf when it was in their power to destroy her. The justice then destroyed the scalps and issued certificate of presentation which certificates brought before commissioners were valid authority for issuer of county warrant for bounty.

Something over $50, was paid out in 1841 to the Goetschius brothers, James and Dewitt, John Mathews, Elias Smith, Samuel Warren, and Lyman Holbrook. From 1842 to 1849, about $285.00 was pain in bounties; the largest amount in any one year being $171.62, in 1849. After this date it became possible to raise sheep and not till late years has that domestic wolf—the dog become a terror to sheep raising. The bounty of early days has become the tax of the present and the surplus fund after paying for all sheep killed, is paid to the county treasurer and by the auditor apportioned to townships as school revenue. Wolf hunting was a lucrative business and called into action the best skill in the county.

To be continued next week.


Some Reminiscences of Its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens.


(Re: Auburn Courier – 18 Dec 1890)

Along in December 1840, Park’s house burnt down and the log building which had the honor of having the first court in the county held within its rough walls and in addition was the first tavern in Auburn, thus early became the prey of that fiery element which has been so adverse to the financial prosperity of Auburn ever since.

That building recalls the organization of the county. The first judicial proceedings in the administration of law and justice, the first legal punishment of criminals. There were held religious meetings, for Wesley Park was steward on the circuit of the M. E. church embracing a large extent of territory and up into its upper story the criminal went to remain till called to descend the replaced ladder and go back to his clearing or to the solitude of the woods.

As a tavern, many a weary traveler, through the dense and lonely forest, has been sheltered and refreshed beneath its humble roof ere it was turned to ashes. Mr. Park again took possession of the little cabin, he had built on occasion of his first vast and engaged carpenters to rebuild on the same site on a lager scale.

Four years had elapsed and the population probably did not exceed forty persons, and yet a few leading men here at the county seat with confidence in the future that brooked no discouragement in vested in town lots and with kind greeting to such as joined them showed how, from an humble beginning, honest labor, painstaking industry and thrifty management can triumph in the face of add difficulties.


Most men act from motive and a course known to be attended with some danger and much hardship would not be taken without due deliberation and just estimate of the immediate or future probabilities of benefits.

Elsewhere enterprising men had gone in search of furs, just as more recently, they have explored the Rocky mountains prospecting the mineral wealth, but those even of family who located in Auburn and settled within the hearts of DeKalb county had no thought of either.

No _____ of sudden riches led them on through swamps and wood, no expectation of honors cheered their long, difficult journeys. They knew that travel was but a prelude to labor and that there was no room for idlers.

In the old McGuffy’s third reader there was a delightful dialogue in which Mr. Barlow calls the boys about him and proposing himself as the founder of a colony, invites each to announce his trade or profession and as this is done, accepts or rejects with good reasons, the volunteer as useful partly-needed or out of place there.

Wesley Park, of Auburn, might well stand for Mr. Barlow and the newcomers as the actual settlers. Most hoped to find a home for themselves and family, to grow up with the country and whatever their trade had been, to temporarily subordinate this to that common labor essential to the clearing of lots and land and the erection of dwelling, barns and public buildings.

The preacher upon the Sabbath was a laborer on work day; the carpenter, blacksmith and others worked at their trade as opportunity followed that business which paid best. A. T. Frink, probably Auburn’s first carpenter, found place to use his knowledge as a surveyor. Nelson Payne, the blacksmith, became a merchant, tavern-keeper, judge and trustee of seminary fund.

The commissioners in session received their plan of the court house, entered into detail of structure and fixed the date when the work was to be done as July 1, ’42. L. Ingman as county treasurer made annual report in January, ’41 that there was indebtedness on the book of $422.63 and, "no money to pay them." He had received for license since April 30, ’39, $105.43 ¾.

The fraction recalls the sixpence and shilling by which computations were made and the settlers were more familiar with Spanish quarters and Mexican dollars, than the present dimes and the hght?-weight dollars of the day.

Rufus R. Lounsberry, commissioner of the three per cent fund reported his receipts at $493. He had let jobs to the amount of $511.50 and had paid on them $257.25 Increase of population and location of new roads caused a redistricting of road districts in Concord, Union and Franklin townships.

The license on the vendor of wooden clocks was continued at $50. Brass and composition clocks could be sold by paying a license of $20, and the old time caravan was taxed $30.

Ingman was reappointed treasurer and Wm. P. Means assessor of the county. The superintendents for building a court house were authorized to contract for the clearing or partial clearing of the public square to be paid from common fund if sale of town lots proved inefficient.

An act of the legislature approved Feb. ’37 to provide for distributing so much of the surplus revenue of the United States, as the state of Indiana may be entitled to by virtue of an act of Congress passed June 23, 1836, was taken into consideration by the commissioners, who were called upon to decide whether DeKalb‘s apportionment should be vested in bank stock or loaned out in the county. With excellent good sense the board ordered that the money should not be invested in bank stock, but should be brought into the county and then loaned out by the surplus revenue agent of the county In this connection Samuel Widney was appointed revenue agent for the ensuing year.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens


(Re: Auburn Courier – 25 Dec 1890)

During this year a number of persons came to Auburn, among whom were Samuel W. Sprott and David Weaver, single men, and David Shoemaker, Henry Curtis and Lyman Chidsey, these last three were carpenters and George Wagoner, a blacksmith who now lives and has his shop in the north suburbs of the town and has continued at this trade with fair results all these years. In February, ’41 James R. Cosper, his father David Cosper, a veteran of 1812, wife Mary and a son Saxby, two years of age also came to Auburn.

He had reached the Black Swamp, his goods being hauled by the team of Enos Ayres thus far, when snow began to fall and continued falling throughout the afternoon. While walking along behind the wagon, Squire Cosper saw some hogs come out to the road, one of which had in his mouth the skirt of a broad-cloth to pieces. The question naturally arose, whose coat this had been and how the hogs came by it.

A mile farther on, Bair’s tavern located in the center of the swamp, was reached and lodging obtained. Next day the snow was quite deep and still falling so that progress with wheels was impracticable. Mr. Cosper, who was a carpenter by trade set to work and made a sled, put the wagon bed upon it, loaded in the goods and provisions and went on to Defiance. Here one of Ayres horses got disabled by a kick and a Mr. Gorrill, who had settled on Big Run and was so far returned from a visit east, kindly hitched his horse with the other and came forward via Clarksville. Mr. Gorrill gave the use of his horse to return for the wagon. The company reached Auburn on Feb. 13, being nine days out from Knox county, Ohio.

They stopped at the tavern of Mr. Freeman just across the street from Charles Raut’s house. They were met by O. A. Parsons, who had the care of the home of Mr. Coburn, who had lost his wife and had gone on a visit to Ohio.

Mr. Parsons gave them the key and directed the party down to the house in which was all of Coburn’s furniture. They lived here till in May. David Cosper meantime had bought lot No. 57 O. P from Thomas Warner, of Ohio, and had traded a good watch for two others, to A. and C. Alvord, who had bought Howe’s interest in the town plat and were owners of a large number of lots.

It will be remembered that Mr. Park had promised to deed the county one third of the lots in the plat provided the county seat was located here. The Alvords refused to recognize this agreement as affecting their interests, made by Park during their absence, and Park manfully standing the loss, proceeded to deed the requisite number to the county.

The two lots traded for were numbers 59 and 61, now owned and occupied by Edward Eldridge and Samuel Ralston. All three lots were covered with trees. Those standing on No. 57 were chopped down and the logs furnished the material for a log house which was raised in short order by the settlers and the family moved in.

By this time, James Cosper had raised and enclosed the frame house on lot 61, now owned and occupied by Mr. Raut. Mr. Park had burnt out in December, having met Mr. Cosper the previous year when he entered his present farm in Union township, four miles east of Auburn, invited him in and gave him the job of building this house. On its completion, Mr. Park moved in and there had his office as county treasurer and here commissioners, circuit and probate courts were held the same year.

The village now gave improved facilities for travelers as there were not less than four so-called taverns. Thomas J. Freeman’s one and one-half story frame built by a carpenter from Angola standing west of Park. O. A. Parsons’, one story, north of Park, J. O. P. Sherlock’s one story frame on lot No. 165 which lot he had meantime cleared of trees, and Nelson Payne’s in a frame standing on the corner of lot No. 60. It is probable that accommodations were not on a very large scale in board and bed, but hearty appetites and wearied bodied, made food palatable and slumber sound and restful. But rooms, like an omnibus, always had place for one more and the well-roped bed stead, was not in frequently called to hold two occupants and in extremity, possibly three.

The tavern sign was ubiquitous those days, and whether this compensated hospitality was lucrative to the many hosts or not, the result was a great air to the moving public. The days of the tavern are over, the era of railroads had left them in the far background with the stage coach, the plank road and the toll gates. Here and there all over the county, the traveler meets the dilapidated old frames and barns, silent and almost deserted where once all was life and bustle and confusion of arrival and departure. Auburn has been notable for its taverns, and its leading public houses of to-day, are well worthy of the appellation—hotel.

In mercantile venture, we find Freeman, Parson, and Payne filling in time not required as landlords, in the retail of goods, groceries and spirituous liquors. Freeman continued in business a number of years, became involved in some trouble and though struggling hard was finally overcome. O. A. Parsons was associated in business with George Wright and these parties traded in foreign and domestic goods, jewelry, drugs and medicines under the firm name of O. A. Parsons & Co., N. Payne took out a license to keep tavern with the privilege to retail spirituous liquors in Auburn, one year from September, ’41, for which he was charged $25.00. Later Freeman and Payne formed a partnership of brief duration, then did business as the agent of ex governor B. F. Wallace but he was in a manner unfortunate and unsuccessful.

To be continued next week


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens


(Re: Auburn Courier – 1 Jan 1891)

The clearing effected at this time was upon some, over a dozen lots in various localities. The trees had been cut from about an acre north of R_nt’s for the use of the sawmill, which, built by David Ogden and Wesley Park was this year bought by David Weave and run by him. Samuel Haines jr. and father came in an so on after their arrival Haines was hired by the superintendents for building court house to clear the public square. He chopped the trees, logged and burnt them, but did not complete the work, as later annals speak of this work as but partially done.

Mr. Haines had a large family and the employment was timely and proved a great help to him.

Messrs Ingman and Sherlock were cabinetmakers, the former living on a lot now owned by Dr. Swartz.

Of resident carpenters, there were Mr. Cosper and Lyman Chidsey, who was employed by the former and who had a farm southeast of the village. Riley Jacobs lived in a cabin standing on a lot now the property of Mr. Boland and is remembered as one of the county agents for the disposal of town lots. His wife died and was buried Feb. 16, and Mrs. Alvord died about a month later, making the third of the pioneer women who had come here to ___ a western grave after a few months of struggle with hardship and disease.

The village now suffered from sickness involving almost the entire population. The sick were obliged to wait upon themselves, the worst off were assisted by those less so. This may truthfully be termed "the sickly time." Mr. Cosper who took the census of the town in October found seventy-two inhabitant all told and Mr. Ingman and A. Z. Cosper now wife of Wm. H. McIntosh were the only ones out of the whole number but what then were or had been sick. Cosper had brought from Ohio a barrel of meat, a bag of coffee and a ten-gallon wooden churn filled with dried peaches. The provisions all came handy, but nothing more so than the dried fruit which was a rare delicacy and were a valued addition to the fare of the invalid.

This was picnic for the three doctors, Ross, the first comer and R. B. Cooper and Eli Pritchard who arrived in the fall. Their prescriptions were calomel and quinine, and the disease being no respecter of persons, laid hold of the physicians themselves. Roots and herbs had their advocates and as the cause was continuous, any medicine served as a remedy, whisky among the rest.

Mr. Coburn resigned his official positions Nov. 9, ’41, and removed to what is now known as Coburn’s Corners. Samuel Sprott was appointed clerk of the court and auditor of the county. On December 4, he was authorized to build an office on the public square for his use as clerk and also as recorder, the limit of cost not to exceed. $200. A table, desk and bookcase with pigeon holes were order made for the use of the public offices and the cabinet makers got an official job payable in county orders.

It is noticed that partial payments were then made on the orders and at intervals all outstanding were called in and new ones issued instead. They were issued in small sums and passed from hand to hand as a species of currency.

A board of equalization met at the December session, Daniel Strong and Warner Spooner being present and Daniel Moody absent. Wm. P. Means was given the job to make plats of all the townships and villages in the county. Jonathan Puffenberger was in Auburn this season and late in the fall of ’40 or the next spring, built a hewed log house on lot No. 96. Two or three years afterwards, from means derived from settlement of his father’s estate, he put up a store building on the site of the National Bank, he living in the back part and occupying the front for goods. Puffenberger was sheriff after Freeman died, about 50 or 51, when his widow sold out the remaining stock of goods and occupied the house as a home till along in ’76, when the bank officials bought the property and sold the old frame which was moved to the far south end of town. Mr. Puffenberger bought the property on Van Buren street now occupied by Mr. Hoisington and there died.

Many remember her son Samuel who went to Texas and afterwards to the west where he died.

Alvord moved from Auburn shortly after the death of his wife. Riley Jacobs went about ’48 and to the score of men who constituted the voting population in 1841, Sherlock, Weaver and Wagoner ____ remain to-day.

"To the multitude goes, like the flowers or the weeds

That withers away to let others succeed;

We the multitude comes, even those we behold.

To repeat every tale that has often been told."


In 1842 quite a number of persons intending to settle in the county arrived in Auburn and speedily as possible prepared accommodations for their families and then moved into the woods and set to work bravely to clear up future farms. How well they succeeded, it is only essential to glance at the county as it now appears. Well populated and advanced, and yet advancing in cultivation and improvement.

The log cabin with mud and stick chimney in the midst of girdled trees with cleared patches in corn is a memory now, and we find farm contiguous to farm, commodious frame and brick buildings, the fine large barns, flourishing orchards, numerous roads and several railroads, supplying connection with all parts of the county and affording speedy transit to market of great quantities of produce.

The wilderness has become the pleasant homes of wealthy, prosperous and contented farmers.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens.


(Re: Auburn Courier – 8 Jan 1891)

Among permanent settlers in the village of Auburn, was O. C. Houghton and family from New York. He bought the lots now owned by his widow and built a log house upon the rear part of them, calculating that with time would come the means to erect a better habitation nearer the street, and the present structure shows how he realized his purpose. He was a carpenter and besides other work, built Payne’s and Puffenberger’s stores. A company was formed in 1857 and built the seam mill in the south end of town. The company failed and disposed of the property to Wesley Park and others who in turn sold to Houghton, who was successful, accumulated quite a sum for those times and sold the Sheets brothers by whom the mill was run for some years at fair profit.

With his money, Mr. Houghton bought one hundred acres of good land of a Weaver, one mile west of town, lived there till his death when the family came to town.

Aaron Hague, a farmer in Concord township, having been elected Auditor in the fall of 1842, sold he farm to David Cosper, came to town and bought out J. O. P. Sherlock. It is noteworthy that his son Isaac Hague was elected to the same office thirty and odd years later. Abel Forshay and Asa Chappell engaged in making bricks on what is now known as the Peter Shafer farm and burnt their first kiln in ’41. This kiln was the cause of Chappell’s death. They had fired for a day or two but the work was defective and the heat did not get through so that they concluded to take it down and rebuild. The brick was steaming, and inhaling this steam affected their lungs. Forshay not well, moved to town, set up a shoe shop, was unsuccessful, sold his farm to John U. Ashleman went to Kendallville and died there. Chappell died and Cosper married his widow. Old Mr. Hart and son David Hart made their appearance and started a whisky shop in a building which stood on the Long property. The old man soon died. David remained in the town several years. He was professed "coon-hunter," claimed to have studied medicine with an Indian and prescribed Indian remedies for prevailing diseases and disorders. His prescriptions were gratis and given in friendship.

There was much faith in the medicinal properties of plants used by the Indians. Ignorant of scientific skill, these people were led by necessity to learn from nature. By long observation and exposure. By long observation and experience, they gained valuable knowledge of the qualities of herbs and plants. Each new and curious plant was regarded with scrutiny. Color, taste and smell were noted as signs of properties and there is no doubt but that the Indians had medical knowledge but their discoveries and observations have perished with themselves and the modern Indian doctors trade upon forgotten lore.

The clearings became too numerous and the game too scarce for "Dr." Hart and he moved on westward.

Old Mr. Robbins came in ’41 or ’42, but was soon carried off by bilious fever which seemed fatal especially to the aged, and his widow later became the wife of Hugh Watt.

David S. Shoemaker came in April of ’41. He was a carpenter and worked on Park’s house and on Parson’s ashery east of the sawmill. December following the Hicksville mills, grist and saw, were burnt and A. P. Edgerton, agent of the two Hicks brothers who were residents of New York and who owned several township of land in Defiance and Williams counties, advertised for carpenters to rebuild. Some twenty five responded to the call. Among these were Cosper and Shoemaker. They all found employment, most were single men in search of home and some of them took their pay in lands which later became their homestead farms. Byron Bunnell of whom mention has been made in connection with the county agency, went there and boarded the hands.

The mill frame was of very heavy timber and of large dimensions and the boiler for the engine had previously done service upon a steamboat. The time occupied in building the Hicksville mills was from January ’41 to March ’42. Shoemaker whose wife had died in Auburn, and Cosper, coming and going at intervals, till the close of the work, built a barn for Abbott, took a yoke of oxen in payment, and, thus prepared for work, moved upon his farm.

Jonathan Poffenbarger lived upon the lot where John Henry now resides. For a time, he occupied a hewed log house, and, two or three years afterward, having, from settlement of his father’s estate, received some money, he put up a store and dwelling combined upon the site of the national bank block. Upon his death, the widow disposed gradually of his remaining stock and occupied the house as her home until 1875, when she sold out to advantage and, removed to property now owned by H. H. Hoisington, where she died, advanced in years and much respected.

Charles Stimely was a bachelor and had a small frame which he used as a gunsmith shop on the lot where S. U. Tarney lives, and after his marriage, he erected the building later owned by Hugh Watt, and later the home of Eli Coder, our ex-Town Clerk, now replaced by the handsome modern residence of Dr. Nusbaum.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 15 Jan 1891)


A building was put up by order of Park on the site of Davis’ hardware store for a family which failed to come and take it off his hand. It was not finished and was variously used for school, church and public meetings.

People came in slowly; here and there a cabin went up but here was little to encourage settlers to remain or more to come.

In the summer or fall of 1842, a hurricane or as it would be termed now, a cyclone swept through a part of the county doing much damage and leaving marks even yet discernible. While each, year, we hear of the terrible destruction wrought by these wind storms we are fortunately exempt and it will be of interest to relate the story of that early hurricane as found in pioneer sketches, especially as many mentioned still live and vividly remember that time of peril.

"A dark cloud arose seeming to threaten a heavy shower, but soon the rapid motion and wild confusion of the clouds betokened the approach of a windstorm. It struck the forest near the west line of the farm of Joseph Woolsey and, with scarcely any exception leveled the timber from thence."

West of Mr. Cosper’s and about eighty rods from the house of Henry Brown, a party of men were working on the road. Among them, were the Georges, William and Matthew, Henry Brown and Nelson Griffith. The men seeing the storm, coming and the air darkened by clouds and with the limbs of trees which the wind was carrying towards them, and hearing the continued roar of falling timbers, ran with all their speed to the house of Mr. Brown, where his children and a daughter of William Monroe were, and rushing in, they seized the children and scarce had they carried them into an opened field before the storm was upon them. The force of the wind was such that they had to hold by stumps to keep from being blown away. In the hurry of the moment, a child and the young women had been left in the house and by some means they fell through the floor. The wind lifted the door from the hinges; the logs of the house came bumbling in; the house was leveled even to the foundation and yet the woman and child were uninjured.

Mr. Cosper had raised a cabin but had not moved in. This cabin was demolished and the weight poles were blown a distance of forty rods or farther. Those in the field did not escape harm. A knee from the roof struck Leander Brown, son of Henry Brown, and severely injured his head. The effects were felt for years.

The storm swept on scattering fences like feathers over Browns’ improvement shivering the heavy forest in its course and striking the dwellings of the Georges, bore away the roofs and upper parts and totally destroyed their fences.

Like an enraged demon, it again struck the forest and bore down every tree in its course until it reached land in Concord township, later owned by James Draggoo and there rising high or partially exhausted, it ceased its work of terrific destruction. Articles of bed clothing from Brown’s home were picked up more than two miles away.

The width of the hurricane as-shown by its path of destruction was about a half mile and its length three miles.

After the storm had abated, the wife of Wm. George started to go to Brown’s. The latter was distant, a half mile westward and the road had been plain, but she soon became so bewildered by the wild confusion of fallen timber, that she lost her way, and after exerting herself to the utmost of her strength, doubled by her great excitement, finally came to George Moore’s one mile south of her starting point, and no sooner had she found herself safe than her strength failed and she swooned away.

Much of this fallen timber was generally cleaned up on the farms, of Messrs. Woolsey, Brown, Cosper, the Georges, Culbertson and others and much of it rolled or was burnt where the land had not been cleared and new growth of timber has arisen to hid the desolation, but the pathway of this great storm is quite familiar to many and was plainly visible on the road from Auburn to Spencerville for many years.

AUBURN, 1843

There has been severe weather experienced during some of our late winters and the mercury fell far below zero time and again in that of ; 84 and 5, but none will compare in rigor and duration with that of ’42 and ’43.

Rev. S. B. Ward wrote of that season as follows:

"The fall had been fine; about the first of November, a light snow fell, but 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. March came in with almost the severity of a polar winter.

The settlers had raised but little to live on during the previous season and by this time most of the hay and grain had been consumed and hogs and cattle were daily dying, all over the county 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 off 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, heartsick in view of the sufferings of their poor dumb animals, the sleeper, is his lone cabin in the midst of the forest, was awakened, on the night of March 27, by the continual crashing of the tree-tops which did not cease until day dawned, when to the dis-spirited emigrant, was revealed the cause of all the commotion of the night.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of Its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 29 Jan 1891)


It had been raining, freezing as it fell, until the tree-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, incased in a hard coat of ice, would break off, with the ice adhering and mingle with the snow. Besides this, the crust on the snow was so thick and hard that the cattle could hardly get about.

The wild animals also suffered almost as much as the domestic ones. It was nothing unusual to see squirrels so reduced as to be easily caught by hand.

Squire Cosper while out hunting for bee trees came upon the partially eaten carcasses of nine deer. John Cobler discovered eighteen wild turkeys lying frozen under one roost and smaller game were destroyed in great numbers.

Some settlers lost all their hogs and two men, Mr. Rickett and James Hite lost one hundred each.

The end at last came and that week sent the snow, in another form to Lake Erie, and is a few weeks, herbage began to appear and hope sprang up again in the settler’s heart.

Meanwhile the village of Auburn, remained in the woods, although lots changed ownership, people went and came and now and then one came to stay. There was little as yet to attract other than the speculator.

The county officials made here a temporary home and occasionally a log hut or frame building, for dwelling or business, was erected. In the fall of 1843, the public square was partially logged but not burnt off and the main street was encumbered with logs from the office put up for the auditor to Ingman’s later "Long’s Hotel" now, the office and residence of doctors D. and V. Swarts, and all west of this was woods up to lot No. 72, once the business stand of Stiefel & Wolf, later known as "Grangers’ Hall."

Long’s Hotel is the building on Sixth and Cedar streets.

Woods intervening shut off the view from the houses and firewood was close at hand.

Early in the spring the contract was let for the building of a school house. It was built by Messers Beck and McCrum, residents of Richland township and stood just west of the Stiefel & Wolf store.

Shortly after the school house was put up, the term of court was held and the room was arranged for judicial use. "A rough platform of boards was erected at the end for a judgment seat, a fence of unplaned boards was fixed across for a bar, and to warm the house and old, cracked stove was setup. Here on May 1st, court convened. Ariel Walden and Nelson Payne, Esquire, associate judges were present the first day. S. W. Sprott, clerk, and J. Puffenbarger, sheriff. Samuel Henderson was bailiff, James W. Borden was judge president.

The October term was also held here and the docket was not lengthy. People had gone to law for slander, larceny and malicious trespass. This last was most numerous besides these there were instances of divorce, perjury and assault. Some of our townspeople served on the jury that term and can verify Judge Mott’s statement that the old stove made such eloquent pleas, whenever a fresh supply of fuel was put in, as to move the whole court and bar to tears, not excepting even the hard hearted lawyers, with eyes "unused to weep." On such occasions to give vent to the deep emotions of the court (or the smoke) the door of the house had to be opened.

E. B. Mott was the school teacher in this building during the winter of ’43 and ’44. The size of his school, the studies pursued, the discipline enforced, the names of the pupils are unknown and who the other teachers were is not remembered.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 5 Feb 1891)


We have given an outline of the plan for the court house. This plan had been drawn by John Coburn whose theories of architecture in this case were impracticable and required reconstruction. The board of commissioners recorded the amended plan and advertised for contractors. The town lots owned by the county were appraised and it was understood that the builder was to be paid in these lots or money derived from their sale. Three bids were received. One by James R. Cosper for $1400, which was a fair price for the labor and structure required. One by James Hite for $800, and one by Samuel Haines for $400.

This last seems to have been ignored for Mr. Hite got the contract and went resolutely to work to carry it to completion. He found he had taken it far too low and after selling some of the lots deeded to him and sinking the value of a section of land he had owned, he gave up to proceed farther.

The frame was up by fall but the building was not enclosed and upon a join agreement, the commissioners settled with Mr. Hite by his giving his note for $16.93 and they receiving the building as it was, together with all lumber, material, lots and money in hand of the county agent not otherwise contracted for. Various parties worked upon the building. It was painted by Mr. Parsons and on April 29, ’44 the court held its first session therein.

The commissioners in 1843 were Daniel Moody, Warner Spooner and John Helwig; A. Hague was clerk of the board and J. Puffenberger, the sheriff.

There were still some roads to open and the course of others to be changed and the highways were mere wagon tracks. The board ordered that the road revenue should be laid out to the best advantage and supervisors on receipt of their proportion of said fund were required to advertise the let jobs on public highways to the lowest bidder.

An addition to the county jail was erected by Samuel W. Ralston for which he was paid on it completion $175 in court orders.

Wm. R. Robinson was engaged to cut down the timber contiguous to the jail which the grand jury declared "insufficient" on making their official visit.

The board of commissioners upon general complaint of the citizens of the county in relation to the receipt of state scrip for all county and road dues and also, for school purposes and seminary fund, after mature deliberation in the premises and believing said board ought to be the conservators of the credit and public weal of said county did order and direct the county treasurer, school commissioner and seminary trustees to refuse and not receive state scrip for county and road dues or for school purpose and seminary fund.

An examination of the treasury showed that there was on hand as follows: State scrip $5.40, road receipt, $3.50, in county orders, $8.65, paper money $171.00, checks $225.40 and specie $272.69.

These terms scrip, paper money and specie will recall to the middle aged of the community, a period of great financial depression.

The young men of to-day familiar with treasury notes, national currency, gold and silver certificates and specie know little of the annoyances and losses of that ever fluctuating and frequently failing paper money.

Changing in value daily, the bank note reporter fixed the value of you money, and bills in one locality, would not pass in some other.

The order to refuse scrip was unsuccessful for the fall statement showed over $600 of it in the treasury. I wish some one would tell us what "state scrip" was. In contrast with our present poor farm, home and superintendent with good care of the poor we learn of the plan of farming out the indigent.

Theophilus Ketchen, a pauper at public vendue was bid in for $32.50 for six months keeping.

The health of Auburn did not improve and chills and fever prevailed to a distressing degree. Judge E. Mott stated that "In the early history of Auburn there was scarce a man but that at some period, was under the necessity of plying the mop, handling the skillet, or bending over the washtub, and the owing to the above cause and to the fact that female help was not to be had, he himself had been compelled, for two weeks at a time, to perform all kinds of household and kitchen services."


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 12 Feb 1891)


A tide of settlers with families, young men of enterprise in search of occupation and speculators looking for lots and land to buy drifted westward through Indiana to Illinois, through Michigan to Wisconsin and beyond there to Iowa.

In this year of migration, New York and Ohio lost a valuable portion of their population which singly and in colonies laid the foundation for future towns and cities and gave to them the names of the places whence they had come.

Fairfield township was this year organized although it is said that there were at the time but half a dozen voters within its boundaries.

The chaos of forest had been broken by spots of clearings, surveyed roads so named by courtesy but often almost impassable, had emphasized or taken the place of Indian tribes. The pirogue floated up and down the St. Joe river and they ferry boat was the only means of crossing.

Gradually the enterprise of settlers was manifest in taking such action as in their opinions was though advisable for their present welfare and such as the needs of the future would inevitably require. While they worked hard to clear their farms and build for themselves comfortable though humble homes, they did not forget to make provision for educating their children and for enjoying the comforts of religion, but selecting sites for, and erecting the school house and the church.

On March 30, citizens of school district No. 1, Concord township met at the school house of Orange town and selected town lots No. 6 and 7, for a site to proposed church to be used for school purposes when not occupied for public worship.

About the same time a meeting was held at Cole’s school house for the election of trustees for a Methodist Episcopal church. At this meeting Rev. Isaac G. Clark presided and Wm. R. McAnally acted as clerk. McAnally, Peter Rodenbaugh, James Cole, William Day and Stephen H. Clark were chosen trustees to receive a deed for a church site and on which a meeting house was to be built by subscriptions.

These instances taken at random from measures of this kind serve to illustrate the facility with which the settlers in pure democratic style supplied their own and the public want of school, church, burying ground and other necessary improvements.

The necessities of the times compelled settlers to avail themselves of the proffer of money help to pay for expenses incurred in land purchase and improvement. In this connection, the mortgage on farms had that beginning which has spread through all succeeding years till it rests as an incubus upon hundred of farms in the county.

To those who remember Alonzo Lockwood as the wealthiest citizen and largest land owner in the county at the time of his death, it will be of interest to read that on Oct. 28, 1844, he gave a mortgage of eighty acres located on the east half of the southwest quarter of section eighteen, township 33, range 13 east, or Jackson township, to secure the payment of a loan of $50 with seven per cent annual interest. From such small beginning did that rugged, resolute man build up the fortune bequeathed to this descendants, during half a century of persistent, self-denying effort.

The first writing in record book "A" in the office of the county recorder was done by John F. Coburn as recorder, Sept. 6, 1837. On the first page of this plain, cheap book appears the copy of the bond of Mr. Coburn with Benjamin Alton, Samuel Headley and John Clemmer as sureties in the sum of $2500, for faithful discharge of duties and obligations as count clerk. This bond was approved by A. Walden and T. Yates.

Seven years later, on Aug. 5, ’44, Samuel W. Sprott gave bond in the sum of $10,000, or four times the amount of Coburn’s bond for the same office with A. D. Goetschius, John Blair, Wm. C. Roberts, G. S. Walden and R. J. Dawson on his bond. These items indicate growth of business in the office and so represent progress of settlement of the county. "Major" Sprott, as he was called, was a prominent figure at the county seat in those days and it is said that he was on emergency called to perform work in most of the county offices. Mr. A. D. Goetschius, recently returned from the west where he has lived some years, is the sole survivor, principal and surety, of all those mentioned. The old gentleman at one time county commissioner is one of the few to whom pioneer scenes and incidents were once so habitually familiar.


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 26 Feb 1891)


There were few sales of lots in the village of Auburn during the year and these were at merely nominal prices.

On Dec. 18, 1843, the county agent for $20, had sold to S. W. Ralston lots No. 134, 175, 133, 176, and 209.

Aug. 9, Mr. Coburn for $170, conveyed to S. W. Sprott, nine lots. For $35 Mr. Ralston sold lots 113 and 120 to Clinton Seely, James Boyle for $60, sold lots 55 and 56 to Levi A. Rice and for $80, J. B. Horn, sold J. C. George lots 97 and 98. Thus but four sales as a matter of record were made within the year.

A this time the actual number of known lot owners in the village was seventy, and twenty-two lots were held by unknown owners which expression seems paradoxical for if sold, record of deed should determine ownership.

The party who had the largest number of lots, probably wooded land marked only by surveyor’s states, was Isaac Spencer whose addition constituted the west part of the village. His holding numbered 104 lots valued by assessor for taxation at $558. Chester Alvord was the next heaviest lot owner, he having to his name 55 lots valued at $753 on which he paid a tax of $8.36. Wesley Park came third with 25 lots, S. W. Sprott with 24, Robson L. Brown with 12, O. A. Parson with 10, Dr. J. H. Roe with 9, J. Puffenbarger 7 and Solomon Ensley, Phineas Fay, Henry Fisher and Aaron Hague with four to six each. Daniel Comstock had improvements valued at $100 on lots 87 and 88 together assessed $50, while Thomas I Freeman’s success in business is attested by the ownership of lots 89, 100 and 144 valued at $120, while his improvements were assessed at $1460 and personal $355, his total of $1935, paying a tax of $20,08 marked him as the wealthiest man in the little straggling village.

Wm. P. Means assessed the property of the county for which he drew warrants on the treasury for $26.14. The state levy was 20 cents and the county levy 50 cents on the $100. The auditor, Aaron Hague upon his duplicate, on the line to the right of each description of property place under its proper heading, the amount of each several tax, state, county, township and road and then the total.

The present custom is to extend as one sum the valuation real and personal of each taxpayer, on this compute as a total tax, the sum of general taxes. From this the road tax on division as subtracted the remainder is divided by two. To one half the road tax in full is added as first installment, the other half constitutes the second installment.

In the old method in vogue in 1844, the word, "paid" was the guide to ascertaining the collections, which already determined when equally footed, was compared with the total footing as proof of accuracy and required to apportionment as at present.

For the benefit of the treasurer a printed tabulated list of treasury notes, their dates of issue and amounts together with the interest accrued was prepared. The list was limited and the first in order was date April 20, 1840, denomination $50, interest accumulated $13.58.

Would some one informed on this subject make known the character of these "treasury notes" then expected to be paid into the county treasury for the revenue of 1844, by whom and for what purpose issued?

A custom more recently originating with a county treasurer and of necessity followed by his successor’s in office, of extending legal limit of date of receiving taxes and after due notice visiting the leading towns of the count, one day at each place to accommodate tax payers and resent delinquencies, had its precedent in 1844 when Wesley Park after public notice commenced Sept. 15, at the township of Butler and passing one day in each township at the place where elections were held received taxes till the end of the month, after this he attended only at this office from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, 1845, to taking in taxes. The early method was an incentive to promptness, the latter a premium on delay.

The very heavy list of land sold for delinquent taxes on Jan. 1, ’45 is an unmistakable indication of the poverty of the earl settlers. Not less than 150 descriptions were offered for sale, besides many village lots.

The firm of March, Dawson & S. B. Smith were purchasers to some extent and for many years, the sale of real estate, has been a source of very profitable investment for moneyed men in the county and an abstract of title shows many a lot to have been acquired in that way. The period to redeem having expired, the property passed by a tax deed to the purchased by tax payments.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 5 Mar 1891)


In searching for interesting items of Auburn’s infancy, we are taught the lessons of change and oblivion. Each pioneer departing carries with him some part of the unwritten history of his day and rarely do we find that any have refreshed their memory by contemporary or later memoranda of their early hardships, privation and struggles for homes and their comforts.

Few are left at this day who are able to depict pioneer character or relate the incidents of the ups and downs of village life in 1845.

The lines of difference between life in town and on the farm, in those days intermingled. The dread ague chill visited alike villager and settler and the mill dam north of the village was deemed a breeder of fevers of the same insidious potency as the interminable woods and oozy swamps outlying, and the evening breezes of springtime mingled their odors to poison the else balmy air of the season.

Effort was made to abate the milldam as a nuisance by without avail. The villagers securing the services of T. R. Dickinson brought their case in the circuit court before Judge Borden. The owner employed Newton Dawson and the decision sustained his rights.

Mr. Ralston speaking of the old fashioned sawmill run by water power and of the abundance and consequent cheapness of timber says that he recalls a time when David Weaver was operating the mill alone and parties hauled in a number of extra fine beech logs. These logs were good enough timber but hard to saw and the sawyer disliking the intended job; coolly rolled the logs over into the bottom where they were left to decay.

In this mill was cut much of the material which entered into the construction of the old framed Methodist church, now retired from use. The mill was run about 1856 by Harvey Bowman brother of Cyrus and James Bowman and not long after this date torn away and slight if any vestige of mill or dam now remains. The old

mill was more than a convenience, it was a necessity and not a few of the old buildings in Auburn are indebted to its vicinage and services for the durable and excellent material in them.

After the death of George Brandt, an Auburn pioneer so familiar to our people for many years. Joseph McKay, his son-in-law made many changes in the line of improvement about the old house. The weather beaten old barn was included in proposed repair and parties offered to do the work for the weather boarding which was compose of a superior quality of black walnut and when the old school house, later the home of Mrs. Penny became the property of S. A. Rakestraw and he undertook its conversion into a house of modern conveniences, he obtained a large quantity of excellent walnut lumber which was utilized in articles of furniture. It is evident that the sawyers did not roll the walnut logs into the bottom nor dislike to saw them.

Samuel W. Ralston now over four score years of age, hale and hearty and ably discharging the duties of justice of the peace, having his office with Sheriff Plum in the court house, has for nearly half a century been a prominent figure in the affairs of both town and county.

In 1837, he had entered land now owned by Jesse Brumback and the location and character of soil reflect credit upon his judgement. On his return from Ft. Wayne from making his entry, ‘Squire Ralston bought of Wesley Park, the west half of the southwest quarter of section 31, Union township now near Auburn Junction, and known as the Christian Benner farm. The deed was the sixth to be put on record and was made April 30, 1837. It called for 38 51 acres and the consideration was $98 28, lawful money of the United States." It was acknowledged May 27th and recorded by J. F. Coburn, Sept. 5th following. The recorder did a rushing business on that same day, as no less than eleven deeds were then entered for record. The next year he bought of Thomas Freeman the lots on Main street, the one occupied at present time by the Swineford House, the other by himself as his home and for these two lots he paid Freeman, his price $200.

But it was not till the last of November, 1842, that ‘Squire Ralston set out from Plymouth, Ohio, accompanied by his family consisting of his wife and three children, Helen, Emily and Jackson, taking with them household goods in covered wagons as was the custom of that day.

There was no lack of nominal accommodations by the way. The tavern was ubiquitous, between Fremont and Perrysburg alone there were not less than thirty-one places of entertainment for man and beast. The journey occupied thirteen days and on the 12th of December the family reached Auburn and after some difficulty found temporary quarters.


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 12 Mar 1891)


[Since Squire Ralston gave the facts upon which our history of Auburn is 1845 is founded, he has after a brief illness departed this life. He was the most prominent pioneer of the town at the time of his death and had taken much interest in these items: His last words to the writer were "I can’t help you any more on pioneer sketches." And what follows will have increased interest to his many warm friends.]

In 1844 Mr. Ralston built a two-story frame house, 44x22 feet in dimension on the site of the Swineford House and completed an addition later, and the same year the site of the Kiblinger block was cleared of trees. The purchasers of lots had for their first work to cut off the timber and burn it and residents obtained their fuel by felling trees as near their houses a possible.

Judge Mott in the fall of 43 had only to climb over the fence that enclosed his cabin to chop his fire wood in the forest and John Johnson had stated that on his arrival in Auburn, he lived in L. Ingman’s house and for the two winters of 1844 and 1845 cut his fuel from trees that stood in the close vicinity.

Improvements if there could be said to have been any, were made very slowly and only a few families became residents of Auburn. There were more or less of bilious complaints and physicians were in demand. The pioneer doctor was reputed to have been named Ross and only the name survives his advent. Dr. Haynes united theology with medicine and the union is not so incongruous as might appear, the latter failing, it was consoling to the patient to receive the ministration of religion and it was not infrequent in those days when christian offices were with difficulty obtained. Doctors Cosper, Oliver, Roe, Hendricks, Ford and Dancer were successive physicians in Auburn and of them all, Dr. J. Ford is the only one known to the people of our town. Dr. Dancer died in 1853 and his widow lived till Feb. 1876. Doctors Ford and Hendricks located in Auburn in 1844. Joel E. Hendricks won high rank as a physician, taught school in Auburn in 1848 using by permission of board of county commissioners, the northeast room of the second story of the old court house for his school room, was elected county treasurer and served from 1858 to 1855 when he removed to a farm near Newville and was noted as "a most scientific and enthusiastic farmer," then associated with James Colgrove conducted the Newville Academy and gave theory and practice of mathematics to an extent and thoroughness never since equaled in the limits of the county.

Dr. Ford had his home temporarily with William Albright who had located in Auburn, the same year, and who was the first saddler and harness maker in the town. Dr. Ford through all subsequent years had been a prominent resident and there were few public occasions to which he was not called to take a leading part. A skilful physician, long familiarized with methods of treatment of diseases common to this part of the country, his services till he withdrew from practice were sought with confidence and credulity was confirmed by results. On the organization of the First National Bank of Auburn in 1875, he was chosen its president and long held an interest in its stock. Two year ago, his wife died. She was a lady highly esteemed and held foremost rank in the best society of the town. A few weeks ago, the doctor went to Ontario, California accompanied by his daughter Mary, wife of Dr. Jared Spooner, to visit with another daughter Lottie, wife of David Cochran residing there.

Incipient steps towards the organization of the now strong church societies of Methodist and Presbyterian denominations were taken about this time. As stated in recent history of the former church, Jesse Sparks had been pastor in 1844 on the Auburn circuit and its second meeting was held in the village on May 14, 1845.

Rev. James T. Bliss was the first Presbyterian minister and all who knew him spoke in his praise. S. Widney wrote: "He is well known as a very amiable and pious man." S. Ralston remembers him as a worker, From a letter written by Rev. Bliss from Macomb, Ill. Jan. 1888 to Mrs. Emily Dills, the following extracts are taken as of a double interest to readers. To one class who knew him, it will recall the man and his labors in Auburn and to the stranger, it will add somewhat to fragmentary history of the times of which we write.

He wrote: "It affords us great pleasure to hear from such dear old friends as we still have in Auburn and vicinity. We have ever felt a deep and abiding interest in your church which Rev. Mr. Wolff and I organized soon after I moved to Auburn in October 1844.

We also organized the Bear Creek church about the same time. My impression is that it was organized Dec. 12, 1844 yet cannot say positively as to the month. If the church at Auburn was organized March 12, it must have been in 1845.

I was ordained by the Fort Wayne presbytery at Fort Wayne in December 1844, and I believe that the Presbyterian church was organized the same month. I supplied the church twelve years. He expressed surprise that, at date of writing, the church had the eleventh minister preaching for them.

Commenting upon the pleasant features connected with the 80th anniversary of Squire Ralston and his then 45th year in Auburn he wrote: "I passed my 77th birthday last July, my general health has been good so that I preached constantly 28 years after leaving Indiana in five different fields, the last of which was central Iowa, where in making a round trip of fifty miles to supply two churches every other week, I got so badly chilled that it injured my spine, deranging my whole nervous system.


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 19 Mar 1891)


(Mr. Bliss’ letter Continued)

"In reviewing the past we see many things for which we are truly thankful to our Heavenly Father. We have a comfortable home, little besides. We have two single daughters, one married, the younger of the two is teaching in St. Paul, Minn., one only son, a little boy when we left Auburn lives there. We should be glad to hear from any of the Auburn people."

Could Rev. Bliss and his worthy wife be permitted to visit Auburn, the metamorphosis which time and the railroads have brought about would prove a revelation to them. Few indeed of the ancient landmarks exist and yet fewer are the numbers of those with him in those early years, each in his calling, labored for the growth of moral, educational and religious sentiments, in the warfare with evil influences which here as elsewhere early became deeply rooted in the business part of town.

The history of Auburn has its dark side and the shadows have deepened with they years bringing wealth to the coffers of a few, but want, misery, heartaches and sorrowful and untimely deaths of many homes.

From pleasing retrospection of church growth and Sabbath observance turn to the pioneer days of the liquor vender and note the unvarying and baneful results which in all this half century have followed in its train.

Respect for the feelings of those living, sympathy for the dead forbid the publication of details of the ruinous effects of the liquor traffic, but we may note that the tavern had a bar and that licenses for the sale of spirits were exacted even in those days when the practice of drinking was more general, when public sentiment was not as pronounced against it, when the doggery was not emphonized a "saloon" and when the teetotalers with cold water pledge were forerunners of the modern political prohibitionists.

Pioneer sketches said: "Old Mr. Hart kept a doggery near where J. L. Davis has his hardware store." In list of allowances made by the board of commissioners in 1845, we find William Hart allowed 75cts for one bottle of pepper sauce for a pauper. If this was the same party S. Widney alluded to it would seem that he had the material to make his drinks hot as well as stimulating to customers.

T. J. Freeman was Auburn’s first licensed whiskey seller and in 1845, he success incited O. A. Parsons to engage in the business as the record shows that he paid $5.00 for license to keep tavern and to sell spirituous liquors in Auburn.

In 1847, Alonzo Plum was charged $10.00 for a license to keep a grocery and retail spirituous liquors; later the fee was $15, and it has constantly tended higher till the town and county license amounts to $150.

A single instance of the merciless spirit shown to the victim of thirst for stimulant will close this article.

S. W. Russel was a pioneer of Auburn, a carpenter and joiner by trade and he erected several of its old-time buildings but his craving for drink was beyond his control. Urged by desperation to try to reclaim her husband and to preserve a semblance of a home, Mrs. Russel did as other women in like extremity have done since. She went one morning to the keeper of a groggery and with all the eloquence of her need, implored his help to save her husband by refusing to let him have liquor, but it was all in vain, and Russel died a drunkard as many another has done since, and as many in Auburn, in the closing year of the century will.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 26 Mar 1891)


[The item respecting Samuel W. Russel in last week’s Courier is incorrect, and the writer was wrongly informed. Mr. Russel we hear, reformed and died only a year ago last November, at the home of his son-in-law, James Crow, of Kent, State of Washington.]

Prominent in town and county matters, Samuel Sprott, Samuel Ralston, Wesley Park, Jonathan Puffenbarger and Miles Waterman seem to have taken the lead in the matter of public improvements.

From 1841 to 1842, S. W. Sprott was clerk, recorder and auditor and from 1841 to 1851, he was clerk and recorder. In 1846, S. W. Ralston was elected sheriff. He was re-elected in 1848 and in 1850 was elected county treasurer when he resigned to the office of sheriff. In 1856, he was again elected sheriff and served till 1859.

Wesley Park was sheriff in 1837 and treasurer from that year until 1851, a period of fourteen years.

Mr. Puffenbarger preceded Mr. Ralston as sheriff and Mr. Waterman succeeded Aaron Hague as auditor and held the office from 1846 till 1854.

The county commissioners in 1845 were John Helwig, D. Keep and D. Moody. By this board, S. W. Sprott was authorized to build an office on the public square at a cost not to exceed $200. An additional $50.00 was later allowed for the improvements.

Dr. I. Tatman was allowed the modest sum of $3.37 ½ for medical aid to a pauper in Stafford township and this may be regarded as corroborating testimony to the common saying that "That poor are always with us," since at the same session an allowance was made to H. Fusselman as overseer of the poor for farming out a pauper.

A three per cent fund was equally divided between the three commissioners to be expended in their respective districts with the understanding that each should make due report at next session.

Wesley Park had provided the recorder and auditor with books for their offices together with paper and "quills" for which he was paid the sum of $28.22. The item of quills is a recollection to the aged of the old school days when teachers included in their qualifications the ability to "mend pens" and vividly recalls the days before steel pens, gold pens and fountain pens were in use and when blue paper was so common.

T. J. Freeman continuing in business paid a small license fee for permission to vend foreign and domestic goods among which were prints and ginghams, plain, striped and plaid alpacas and possibly with these were sold boots and shoes, drugs and medicines mostly paid for in country produce.

Auburn had three stores and two of these were carried on by partnership Woodbury and Watkins were in business on the corner north of Charles R_u_’s house. They continued several years and finally sold to Rich & Wilson, and returned to Ohio.

Nelson Payne took Samuel Ralston as a partner on June 15, 1845 and they kept store in the front room of a building put up by Payne, later occupied as a residence by Mrs. Bodine and now moved to south end, repaired and used as a dwelling. It stands next south of the Watson House which was itself the retired store building of C. Klotz and long stood on the present site of the brick occupied by Schaab & Bros.

On the northeast corner of the lot on which now stands the Culbertson residence, Payne & Ralston conducted a general business and Mr. Ralston was at the time the only store keeper in the village, who kept that panacea for ague, quinine, on hand for his customers.

The season of 1846 was long remembered by the inhabitants of this county for the prevalence of that dreaded disease the ague and fever. It had had no parallel in the history of the county since its first settlement and while most best remember quinine as the main dependence of sufferers, there were those who put their trust in McLan_"s Liver Pills or McKenzie’s Tonic Febrifuge.

There was little of moment to break the monotony of those days. Day after day the same routine was pursued and now and then strangers made temporary halts for necessary supplies.

Goods were sold without a cent of money at times. Merchandise was exchanged for produce of all kinds, furs and peltries. At one sale, skins of deer, otter, mink and raccoon were sold to the value of $500. The deer skins lashed on a wagon were taken to Ft. Wayne and sold to a fur trader named Timothy Wayne. The load was very uns_able though lashed fast, and as the wagon wheels dipped in the deep ruts, the deer skins slid down and parted company, and with satisfaction the load was finally delivered. Dry deer skins sold at 11 to 18cts, per pound, otter $6 to $8 each, mink $1 to $5, raccoon $1.50. During the year ending June 12, 1845, twenty-six wolves were killed in the county and the scalps brought the hunters $5 each. So that to no slight degree the wild animals of the forest contributed to the support of the settlers and furnished the means for supplying the family with goods and groceries, not else perhaps attainable.

As historical evidence of the poverty of settlers in northeastern Indiana, one may read in the acts of the Indiana legislature for the year 1849, that the residents of DeKalb, Steuben, Noble and Lagrange counties were exempted from payment of state and county taxes on all agricultural improvements when such improvements were valued less than $500 and this practically exempted most and was an act of needed relief. Even then, not a few became hopelessly delinquent and their lands were sold for taxes on them.


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 2 Apr 1891)


Something of the same kind is suggested by seeing during winter days, loads of firewood some of goodly size and some of illusory dimensions, for sale to improvident towns-people, or if not salable, as a last resort, unloaded on the walk for the printer to apply on his subscription. As were the furs and hides in early day, so was the home-made soap. Cloth and produce with cordwood or firewood of a later day.

Philip Fluke, who came in 1844, and who is still a resident of Auburn, being by trade a tanner, immediately began to put up a tannery on the northeast corner of Seventh and Jackson Streets. In the fall of that year ‘Squire Ralston framed and put up for him a bark mill, and having prepared vats, Mr. Fluke pioneered the making of leather in the village. This was a great convenience to farmers as it supplied a home market for pelts and hides and was a benefit to the place.

On the lot east of the tannery there stood for many years an old frame building where Mr. Fluke lived, but all this has been changed. The old frame was moved away. Mitchel Houston bought a part of the lot fronting Main street and put up a one-story brick building where he had a mat shop; then directors of the Farmers Bank purchased his interest and used the structure for their banking office, and later this was pulled down and the present beautiful block erected on the site. The vats have long been filled in and the old tannery was in use as a harness shop; then Smith & Madden became owners of the west lot and after a fire that swept away a row of low, wooden buildings, that enterprising firm of marble dealers, built the unique stone front block which now adorns the place.

As indications of the great advance in real estates values, the fact is here stated that the middle one-third of the Main street lot was sold recently by Mr. Fluke to C. C. Shaffer for $4000. At this rate, the entire lot would be valued at $12,000, a handsome price.

Mr. Fluke, having retired some years since from business, occupies a fine brick residence located near the Lake Shore depot, on Seventh street, on the north-east corner of his farm. He has, of late platted a part of this land and eligible building sites convenient of access are in the market for sale.

Henry Moneysmith, a blacksmith, and William Albright, harness-maker, settlers of 1844, were valuable accessions to the settlement. The latter built the house, later moved back from the street and repaired and now owned and occupied by Dr. Matheny, our popular town trustee.

In this house Mr. Albright lived a number of years, and in it died, both himself and his wife, after an interval of several years.

Joseph Garver was an early resident upon the lot now owned by Edward Eldridge and followed his trade of hatter.

George Wagoner, now living in the northwest of town near the stave factory, came to Auburn in 1845. He was a member of the most useful guild, the blacksmith’s, and had his shop on the present site of Christopher Shafer’s furniture store. His home stood to the rear of the shop which later came into use as a grocery.

As the county seat where court was held Auburn attracted members of the legal profession and following a somewhat apocraphyal lawyer named W. Smith, had come Egbert B. Mott, whose remains now lie on the lot owned by the widow, on east side of North Cedar street next north to J. W. Baxter’s residence. Judge Mott came in 1843 and the Hon. John Morris in 1844. Judge Morris, now of Ft. Wayne, is a familiar figure in our circuit court and ranks high as a legal practitioner. Age, honor and success have not changed his kindness of heart, nor city residence the simplicity of his manners, and he deservedly enjoys the respect and affection of a large circle of acquaintances and friends. In pioneer sketches is related an incident respecting the home life of Messrs. Morris and Mott, which illustrates the strenuous efforts of the villagers to get a living and the chivalric spirit with which they met the necessities of sickness and lack of home help.

Judge Morris was at home, rather "hard up" for funds, as was fashionable in that day, and, his wife, being in rather poor health, he was scrubbing the house with coat off, sleeves and pants rolled up, and in a perfect deluge of sand and suds, when up stepped a gentleman from the vicinity of Enterprise, and inquired where "Lawyer Morris" was to be found. The man with the mop modestly replied that Morris was his name, when the stranger, eyeing him askance, told him that he had a case before "Squire Somebody, in which "old Doc Ladue" was his antagonist, and that he wanted to get two good lawyers on his side, "being as the old Doc was rather crafty."

During this short speech Morris was a deeply interested auditor, and when it was finished he quickly laid aside his broom and mop, rolled down his sleeves and pants, put on his "fix ups," dressing his "lower extremities" with one boot and one shoe, for want of mates, and in a very short period he and Mott were on the trail for "Squire Somebody’s, away up in Franklin."

A fee of $10 rewarded their services and came very opportunely.

In commenting upon this incident Judge Mott said, "In the early history of Auburn, there was scarcely a man but that, at some period, was under the necessity of plying the mop, handling the skillet or bending over the wash tub; and that, owing to the above cause and to the scarcity of female help, he himself had been compelled, for two weeks at a time, to perform all kinds of household and kitchen service.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 9 Apr 1981)


Daniel Hartsock was a law student with Judge Morris in his office with the clerk which office stood on the southwest corner of the Court House ground. The little old building with its overhanging front, stands on Jackson street and is occupied as a tailor shop by our genial, old-time acquaintance and friend George W. Stahl. Mr. Stahl has been a familiar figure upon our streets for more than thirty-five years and while very few remember the "Emporium of Fashion," where in halcyon days of early manhood he manipulated the shears and goose and took the measure of his customers, yet no one long a resident of town, but has at least a passing acquaintance with him, whose hearty laugh all knew and found contagious.

In 1845 the Timothy R. Dickinson with his family became residents of Auburn. Mr. Dickinson preceded Mr. Eldridge in ownership of the property upon which the later is now living. The house was built flush with the sidewalk or where a sidewalk now is, and an office stood, in the ‘60’s, adjoining the home on the north.

Mr. Dickinson was in build tall and guant, quiet and reserved in manner, and ranked high among the members of the bar of DeKalb county.

He came from Portage county, Ohio, and on motion of J. M. Morris was Nov. 1, 1847 admitted to the bar of DeKalb county court and was the only one so far as we can learn who advertised his business. His advertisement as attorney at law and solicitor in chancery, may yet be seen in the newspapers of Lagrange and Steuben counties in those days when DeKalb was mostly forest, broken by clearings, and Auburn had not sufficient incentive to lure a printer to locate here.

Mr. Dickinson together with other leading citizens of Auburn was attracted to remove to Waterloo as the village prospered and grew and there he lived to enjoy the respect of the community and to practice his profession till summoned away by the grim Messenger, who has populate our grave yards and every little while rapaciously calls another and another pioneer and settler away, till few remain.

Messrs. Mott, Dickinson and Morris won honorable names in their practice, deservedly succeeded well, and of the three, Judge Morris still hale and hearty alone survives; still pleads with forensic ability at the bar and bids fair to lead in his chosen profession for years to come.

In the spring of 1846, far removed from the excitement incident to the acquisition of Texas and the consequent breaking out of hostilities along the Rio Grande River, Auburn had little of moment to break the dull monotony. Few papers were received and letters sometimes not prepaid cost so much that correspondence was limited and domestic cares and mutual society occupied the time.

At the court house, the county business was methodically done and time not needed then was put to good use as heretofore said, at home. The job of assessing the county was done by W. P. Means, at a cost to the people of $110.66. The sum paid him was less than is now charged for assessing a townless township but people thought little of foot travel then, and his annual visits to the settlers’ homes treading forest paths were more satisfactory probably to him than are those paid by modern assessors in less and more populous areas.

The job of building an office for the auditor on the northwest corner of the public square was let, and in the fall, S. W. Ralston resigned his office as county agent after filing a report of his sales but was retained as keeper of the pound on the court house grounds.

In December of 1846, Charles Probst was appointed county surveyor for a term of three years but it seems left no record of his work in the official papers and books of the county.

Wesley Park was allowed $29,50 for 29 ½ months rent for room for treasurer’s office. One dollar a month for office rent though a very moderate charge is suggestive of the early beginning of construction fees now grown enormous and against which popular opinion had been so decidedly outspoken.

For a library belonging to the county, O. C. Houghton was directed to make a bookcase of plain suitable material and in this library were many volumes of most excellent reading. What had become of that library and of the McClure library whose shelves in what is now the sheriff office were well filled with works on science, travel, history and miscellaneous topics?

Receipts from all sources from taxation were less than the first installment of taxes this spring for 1890 paid by the Lake Shore railroad on its property in the county; and the delinquent list was of enormous dimensions. Thirty-nine descriptions were advertised for sale in Butler township alone and the aggregate of the county was over 450.

In default of printing press in DeKalb County, Miles Waterman, county auditor in 1846, caused the delinquent list to be published by Messrs. Bennet & Owen, proprietors of the LaGrange County Democrat printed at Lima, LaGrange county. The first number of this paper was issued Nov. 4, 1845 and the 53d number contains, save a few advertisements, nothing but the delinquent tax lists of Noble and DeKalb counties.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 16 Apr 1891)


Nothing in history surpasses or even equals the marvelous growth of the great northwest. Scarcely had the ear become familiar with the name of its territories and geographers had but succeeded in defining their limits upon their maps, when, like Minerva, they sprang into life in full panoply to challenge our admiration as firmly constituted, prosperous, independent commonwealths. In truth this is a great and grand country. Its history is a romance surpassing in its facts, the wildest creations of fiction.

It is difficult to realize the changes which within the life time of many now living in Auburn and in DeKalb county have made the hamlet a thriving town with natural gas fuel and electric lamp light and have reclaimed forest and swamp and made of them arable and fertile fields.

We are so used to incidents of starting nature that we live in this extraordinary age unmindful of their momentous character.

There are with us those who have seen Indian bark canoes upon the St. Joe river, and have hunted deer in the woods of the county. They can tell you of the bark troughs used by the Indian to catch the sap of the sugar maple, of the discovery of bee trees with their luscious hoard of honey, and of domesticated swarms hived in a section of a hollow old sycamore. They are familiar with methods and processes now practically unknown. Fluke could tell of hides left for months to soak in tan vats. Waggoner could relate the story of hand-forged shoes and nails, for cattle as well as horses. Elder Ward is familiar with the pioneer religious movements, when school house, barn and private house were utilized for meetings. Our friend Cather’s memory is rich in racy stories of his itinerancy in the early day, and there are very many who could yet swing the cradle, or the flail or wield the hoe in the cornfield.

It is of recent occurrence when Mrs. Pierce entertained an audience in the old Methodist church with the story of settler’s hopes and hardship, and Mrs. Houghton could prove that with all the privations of those years, they found very much to give the clouds a silver lining.

With startling rapidity these pioneers of a yet recent though past age, are leaving us and oblivion follows fast upon their departing footsteps.

We miss from our streets the long grown familiar forms of ‘Squire Ralston, of George Brandt, of Wm. H. Dills, of Mrs. Brinkerhoff, of Mrs. Dr. Ford, of recent date, and memory will recall to readers, the ideal images of very many whose faces they will see no more in time.

These thought inspire us to follow as best we can some further, on the dim trail left us by those to whose enterprise and courage we owe so much of our present comfort and prosperity.

In recounting the incentives to western emigration, the ruling motive of the permanent migrant was the well-grounded hope of improving his condition. Land was cheap. Fertile and abundant, terms of payment were favorable and prospects of a rising value were certain. To a great degree the wealth of DeKalb county farmers has originated in this way. With few exceptions they came here to the woods with little but healthful bodies and resolute minds and the result has amply justified their early action.

With the arrival of the van of the great army of settlers which spread in great waves far and wide westward, and all these years has been sweeping away even to where rolls the distant Columbia and rise the snow capped peaks of the Rocky mountains, speculation has mingled with enterprise and ever the platting of village, town and city sites has been a game of fortune.

Short-lived prosperity has attended those of premature origin or devoid of local or surrounding advantages. Centerville exists only in name and Auburn in a later period of existence came perilously near losing the county seat and at yet another had its flood tide which offered much that now flourishes as the town of Garrett.

As years went by, the ranks of pioneers had been thinned and those who remain at this late day may well rest and enjoy the fruits of their early labors.

The character of the people whose patient industry in all this region was the basis of present enlightened society has been eloquently and truthfully portrayed by a distinguished orator in the following language: "We have seen in every newly settled region, the hardy and enterprising youth in the older settled, finding society comparitively filled up, his portion of the old family farm too small to satisfy his wants or his desires, his opportunities to practice a profession or work at a trade too circumscribed, bidding his friends farewell, seeking the paternal blessing and often with little else, set forth to take up his share of the rich heritage which the God of nature has spread before him in this western world.

He left the land of his fathers, the scenes of his early days, with tender regret glistening in his eye, though hope mantles on his cheek. He did not as he departed, shake off the dust of the venerated sod from his feet; but in some distant settlement perpetuates the remembrance of his childhood home. He piously bestowed the name of the spot where he was born, on the place to which he had wandered; and while he was laboring with the difficulties, struggling with the privations, languishing perhaps under the diseases incident to the new settlement and the freshly opened soil, he remembered the neighborhood whence he came, the roof that sheltered his infancy, the spring of the well-curb where he was wont to bathe his heated forehead after toil, the school house, the rural meeting house, perhaps the graves of his father and of his mother.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier - 7 May 1891)


In a few years a new community has been formed, the forest has disappeared beneath the sturdy arm of the emigrant, his children have grown up, the hardy offspring of the new clime, and the rising settlement is already linked in all particulars and association with that from which its fathers and founders had wandered.

Such for the most part, is the manner in which the new states have been built up; and in this way a firm foundation was laid by nature herself for peace, cordiality and brotherly feeling between earlier and the more recent settlements of this country.

Two classes widely differed from our pioneers, that one a hunting and trapping people, who not infrequently consorted with the Indian in rude shelter or led a lonely life by stream or lake and when too many clearings drove back the game, ever followed away to the foothills and ravines of the mountains of the far west; the other a people lacking fortitude, who were excited by stories of western chances, came hither only to suffer with disease and privation and to return with tales of discouragement. Their numbers were limited and their departure was a relief to the community which with inherent manhood, had resolved to make the best of it, and gradually won themselves good homes which they long lived and still live to enjoy.

It is an impressive truth to which the present generation give little thought that they yet have with them, survivors of two classes of people to who they owe all the comforts, security and privileges they quietly enjoy.

The first is the venerable pioneers who for many years endured the discomforts and encountered the perils of isolated life in this new country to found the villages and towns, to lay out the roads, and clear up the lands and farms of what are not the foremost states of the great republic.

The second is the prematurely aged veterans of the war of the rebellion, whose self-sacrifice and valor, maintained the integrity of the union and preserved to them, a nation.

Each did their duty well, each is entitled to far greater consideration than, at a cursory glance, would appear to be their due. Whether at Old Settlers’ Meetings or Soldiers’ Reunions, all honors to these veterans—women in full measure with men, are most worthily bestowed.

Ten years had now gone by since John B. Howe and Wesley Park had platted Auburn’s original site. In that decade, Mr. Park had been a conspicuous figure at the county seat and while others come and went away, he and a few others stood by the village and gladly welcomed and hospitably entertained at times for months, the families of those who had come to make the place their home.

Although the population of the county had greatly increased, the village was but a straggling settlement in the woods bounded eastward by the marshy bottom lands through which the sluggish waters of Cedar Creek made way in shifting channels. Its buildings were composed in part of log cabins, small frames, and unpretentious store rooms. The residences fenced in by rails stood close upon the street. On many a lot, the only and doubtful "improvement" was the felled trees, and the assessed valuation of the town including real estate, improvements and personal property was but $11,224.

Illustrative of the type of humble structures in which the leading men of that day, transacted business, we refer to the little office that John Morris was permitted to build on an acre of twenty feet square on the "west end of the public square, thirty feet north of the clerk and recorders’ office, fronting West street, (Main street) to use till wanted for public use. For this site he was to pay the sum of $1, annual rent."

The old jail of which mention has been made, was of like primitive character and Thomas Lack, foreman of the grand jury of one of the court terms of those days making report of condition of the county jail as have grand juries down to the present time, presented the following unique document for record: "Inspected county prison and find the same suitable for the safe keeping and accommodation of prisoners confined there in, provided the prisoners have no assistance from without, in which case, the said prison would prove a very poor barrier to gentlemen wishing egress."

Samuel Widney and Nelson Payne were associate justices in 1847, and that year held both spring and fall terms of court, James W. Borden, resident of the twelfth judicial circuit being absent.

Reuben J. Dawson was appointed and served as special prosecutor and T. R. Dickinson was admitted to practice.

Much the same class of cases came before that court as usually engrosses the time of present officials. An indictment was found against a party for selling spirituous liquors without license, and other violations of law were full as numerous as at this date, in proportion to the population.

Publication of legal notices was made in the Ft. Wayne Sentinel and the tax list again very large, was published by Auditor Waterman in the LaGrange County Democrat, of which L. D. Owen was publisher and B. G. Bennet, editor.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 14 May 1891)


David Altenburg had started a nursery at his farm east of town and later David Cosper had planted out a second, and from these the villagers of Auburn as well as settlers generally, obtained a fine variety and great abundance of apple trees of which many a lot has its quota to-day. Other fruit trees, peach, pear and cherry then gave fine yield and, in fact, the lot has been to the resident inconsiderable source of maintenance as the soil is very fertile and is very easily cultivated.

Flour and meal were obtained from the Orange mills John Bates miller in 1843, and from the Spencerville mill shortly afterwards. Much grinding was done at Union Mills, located south of Lima, Lagrange county.

About 1846 G. and J. Wolcott put up a mill nearer the northwest limits of DeKalb county, than were the Union Mills and to this newer mill, the settlers went for their grinding. The process was simple and the flour was richer in nutrition than in these days of complicated machinery and roller flour.

"Squire Cosper who put up the first buildings in Kendallville worked upon this mill building. When the mill got to running, the proprietors of Wolcott mills kept for the convenience of their patrons, a stock of goods and of salt always on hand to exchange with their customers for beeswax, flaxseed, wheat, pork and other articles and doubtless not a few who read this will recall many a journey to and from the Wolcott Mills.

The village of Wolcottville at present seems to be having a new growth. Thither Edward Morell, the pioneer of Auburn Machine works has gone to build up a flourishing manufactory, and to the same place Rev. Kane will remove his Road Cart factory. Auburn’s loss is Wolcottville’s assured gain.

A tourist’s map of the ’40’s locates Auburn in the southeast corner of Union township. "DeKalb" was about where Union town is and Spencerville, on the St. Joe river. Two roads are laid down. Both start from Ft. Wayne, one running to Spencerville, and thence northeastwardly, the other north through Auburn, to and beyond Angola.

To the northwest of Lima, a highway center, as here converged quite a number of roads, while a single railroad crossing the northern boundary of the state connected Detroit with Chicago.

It was a very small town indeed, that had not its hotel and taverns, and proprietors were not infrequently able to supply horses and carriages to convey their guests a quarter or less distance towards their destination.

The traveler having passed the night at Freeman’s, Sherlock’s or Parsons’, taverns at Auburn pushed on to Angola where William L. Orton kept the Angola House and if required, supplied stage facilities to convey him west to Lima. Here he had his choice of the Hoosier House situated on the east side of the public square or the Lima Hotel. The proprietor of the former, Francis F. Jewett could accommodate gents with separate rooms, his bar was supplied with the choicest liquors and his table with the best the country afforded, and still further, his large and more convenient stable was attended by honest hostlers, but, there was one drawback—he was a late arrival. On the other hand, H. W. Wood of the Lima Hotel, was also, a dealer in tailor goods, kept carriages and horses for the convenience of travelers to and from any place, and was an early settler.

The march of improvement is remarkably shown in the specialties of trade and profession. Every man now to his calling. There came a time in Auburn when the drugstore took the drugs and patent medicines, wall paper and school books; when the groceries had a monopoly of such goods; when boot and shoe stores took the old stocks to clear them out and when the dry goods stores were as they are, strictly such, and lawyers are no longer school examiners nor teachers.

The writer asked several of those who were residents of Auburn and vicinity in 1847, what newspapers were taken by them in the vain hope that some of them might have been preserved. Their reply was than many took no papers. There was not then that feverish thirst for news now raging and yet in these backwoods there was no lack of information.

The settler not infrequently had the old familiar loved home paper sent him, just as many now gone to the far west have the Courier sent to them, each number calling up thoughts of familiar associations; each name recalling a friend or acquaintance, each incident of interest, every notice of changes and improvement so enjoyed as if while reading, still as of the old home.

The news was meager enough and stale enough if we measure it by modern standard, but such as it was it was well read.

Some received the Stark County Democrat, edited by the McPherson brothers, some the Canton Repository, published for fifty consecutive years by the veteran journalist Saxton, some took the Indianapolis and New York papers as many do now and the story paper for the young was ever welcome, Brother Jonathan, a copy of which is in possession of J. W. McKay and is well worth seeing.

Weekly the mail carrier went over his route and letters were few and costly and not always prepaid. In those days the postal card, the stamped envelope and the registered letter were unknown.

(To be continued)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 21 May 1891)


The fourth page of a letter sheet unruled when the letter was properly folded presented a face for the address and wafer or sealing wax preceded the use of mucilage.

T. R. Dickinson is said to have been the Auburn postmaster for sometime, including the year of which we write by the was not burdened with business of the office, though each letter came wrapped in its own way bill.

One trade now in this locality practically obsolete was that of gunsmith. There were but few cabins on whose walls supported by peg or antler, there was not resting a rifle and there were few of the settlers but could shoot with a deadly accuracy in which they had a highly sensitive pride.

James R. Cosper now 78 years of age was one of this class and he as well as others has made mention of a big walnut stump which stood on the edge of the street in front of what is now Messrs. Hague & Raut’s boot and shoe store on the north side of the public square. All parties concur in the opinion that full one hundred pounds of lead in shape of bullets had been fired into the old stump.

Settlers came to the village mainly on foot carrying their rifles to take advantage of a possible shot at wild game and on arrival discharged their loads to avoid accident.

Where so many had rifles, considerable repairing was needed and Isaac Savage is said to have been the pioneer gunsmith. In 1847, Charles Stimeley had built two small frame houses, one on each of his two lots Nos. 55 and 56 on South Main street, and taking up his abode in the latter, quietly attended to his business.

Watt and Coder were later owners of the property, now occupied by the modern residence of Dr. Nusbaum and the brick dwelling of S. U. Tarney has long stood upon the other.

Jonathan Hall the pioneer wagon-maker was this year the owner of fourteen village lots and for, full twenty years after was one of Auburn’s well known and respected citizens. He lived in a quiet way in a good-sized frame house on lot No. 38, and after his removal various parties occupied as renters, till the sale of the property to George Moss, clerk of the circuit court. Mr. Moss had the house thoroughly remodeled and improved and since his death, it has been the home of his widow, Mrs. Hannah Moss and of her parents Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Reed.

At this period of Auburn’s history, the population had to a great extent become acclimated to the locality, in county and in village, and improvements were made as fast as means would permit. We have been given to understand that crude as were the sources of comfort, they abounded in enjoyment and are pleasant to retrospection.

Antagonisms there were, personal, social and political, and they gave occasions of victory that was often dearly won in the crushing defeat of the opposing faction.

A dark cloud of sectional strife was slowly rising from the south and its ominous mutterings were hard in threats of secession. Southern union for the sake of slavery aroused the north to unite for the sake of freedom and for the union.

Settlers of Auburn and vicinity represented both sections and political warfare was bitterly waged. An election, even in those far away days, was as spirited as the partisan could wish and though whigs made a gallant fight, democracy was then as now, triumphant.


Numerous additions, some earlier some quite recent, have been made to Auburn upon every side till the first site forms but a fractional part of our town.

Among additions now known are Kuhlman’s, Ensley’s, Ralston’s, McFarland’s, Brandt & Ashley’s, Rainier & Headley’s, Auburn Mining Co’s, McIntyre’s, Gross & Dills, each perpetuating the name of the person or company by whose enterprise they were laid out.

The village of Auburn was originally mapped was situated in the east half of the southwest quarter of section No.29, township 34, or Union, north of range 13 east.

The two tiers of lots lying on the east and the two on the west sides of the old plat are each 132x70 ¼ feet and all others are 140x66 feet. The streets are 66 feet wide and the alleys one rod wide.

The Western or Spencer’s addition to the town is located in the southwest ¼ of southwest quarter section 29, and the west ½ of the northwest quarter section 32, and was laid out to correspond with the original survey of the town and immediately adjoining on the west.

All lots in this district are four rods wide by eight and one-half long. Lots one to forty on the east side of Jackson street in the old plat extend north and south, the rest lie at right angles to the main street.

Lots Nos. 136 and 154 were respectively to be donated to the first religious society that might claim either and actually improve the same.

(To be Continued)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier - 27 May 1891)


That part of the Ft. Wayne and Coldwater road extending through the village bore the name of West street and the Defiance and Goshen road laid out as entering the village on Seventh, left Third on street.

What is now known as Cedar street was platted as Main street and a street east of this was named East street, but its course through Cedar Creek bottom and swamp land has ever been available and it was vacated in 1855.

Lots lying along the line of East street that was, were held as of little if any value except for grazing and in later years shrewd men having faith in Auburn became owners at little cost and find a good investment.

For many years, from Ninth street south to the old home of Mrs. Penny, now the property of S. Rakestraw, was a swampy tract too low for drainage, covered with rank vegetation in summer and setting all attempts at reclamation at defiance.

The credit of opening the street is due to John Kruger, who established an ashery east of the street, on the north side of Church street, used the leached ashes for foundation and built up a site for a dwelling in which he lived for years.

Last year, building began on the west side by Nedry and Pfefferl, and in the near future the entire space on both sides of the street will be filed and built upon and the swamps become a memory.

John B. Howe and Wesley Park had acknowledged their plat on Oct. 14, 1836 at Lima, Lagrange county before Francis F. Jewett, a justice of the peace and it was duly recorded next day by J. T. Hobbs, county recorder.

Spencer’s Addition was acknowledged before John M. Witt, a notary public of Allen county by John Spencer, on Jan. 29, 1838. Twelve years had now gone by since Auburn had been given a legal existence and DeKalb had been organized although dwellings were of round or hewed logs on the farms, and humble frames in the village, still progress had been made from forest towards civilization. It is no trouble to find many persons who will tell you of the primitive condition of affairs even in 1848, but the village of those days kept pace with its contiguous farm lands and the one was a criterion by which to judge the other.

The county assessor had valued the farm lands at $395,947, the improvements at $106,625, and the total value of village, farm and personal property was $607,612, and this fact marks the stable progress of the settlers and the result of their unwearying labors in the woods of the new county.

The average valuation of lands for purpose of taxation was from $2 to $3. The southwest quarter of section 27, Union township, then owned by John U. Ashleman, just east of Auburn, was valued at $2 an acre, with $200 of improvements.

Taxes had begun to bring in quite a revenue and the aggregate for 1848 was $18,337.39. In Auburn the largest returns were made by the three men engaged in keeping store, namely: Thomas Freeman, Nelson Payne and Jonathan Puffenberger. Their respective valuations were $2,846, $1,065 and $1,006.

E. R. Woodbury and Alonzo Watkins under the firm name of Woodbury & Watkins was assessed $1,221. This firm engaged in the cattle trade and bought up and drove cattle to Buffalo.

The day of the drover is past never to return, and the swift car carries even from the prairies and plains of far away Texas, the wide-horned, wild-eyed steers for dwellers on the Atlantic coast, and the great packing houses of Kansas City and Chicago ship dressed beef across the ocean to the capital and metropolitan cities of Europe.

Union township raised $75 for a township fund, a sum that would not go far these days toward defraying the expenses of the small area of farm land composing it.

Auburn in 1848 had about forty houses and two hundred fifty inhabitants. There was scarcely a perceptible growth.

Somewhat more than a half a dozen leading villagers, prominent among whom was the founder of the village, Park, thought they saw a future for the place and for themselves as its citizens. They had so long been identified with the village that it had grown to appear to them as the best location and of the first importance, and it had long been their home.

They marked the incoming of settlers, the rapidly growing volume of wealth in lands. They were justified in looking of an increase of business, a greater population, proportionate building and improvements and they had faith in Auburn.

They were thus encouraged to continue residence and to persevere in order that they and theirs in the years to come might reap a many-fold benefit for all their privations, inconveniences and difficulties, being firmly of the belief that increase of civilized society with its improvements would surely follow steady and patient industry.

And their faith and hope have not been in vain, such expectations had been realized for years by many now departed, and such realizations are accorded to those who still remain, although their numbers are few and their years many.

(To be continued next week)





Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 4 Jun 1891)


Rumble of speeding trains, shriek of steam whistle, clang of bells, noise of machinery and the music of the church bells on an evening or a Sabbath morning, contrast with the old silence or the discordant noise of the night.

Th clang of fire bell, with galloping horses and steam engine arouse the sleeper only to assure him that a gallant company of firemen are hastening to strong and steady work to extinguish the flames and the old resident returning his head to the pillow muses for a moment ere he drops asleep, upon the times when the alarm was given by cries of "fire, fire," and he with others with pails in hand, ran to give what aid he could.

Handsome residences, the admiration of visitors to town, fine business blocks and elegant, capacious churches vividly contrast with the appearance of our town in 1848.

It seems that a self-sacrificing generation must bestow their industry and hard labor for the benefit of their successors and rarely is it given to many of the pioneer class who removed the forest from farms and improved the villages, to live long in the enjoyment for their earned comfort.

One day an army corps of Sherman’s marching through a vast pine forest in the Carolinas, heard thunderous noises like the discharge of heavy ordinance and looking questioningly in each others faces, the veterans wondered at the sound, till away to their left a regiment saw a tall pine come crashing to the ground although the air was quiet an no ax had touched its trunk.

So this generation hears almost daily, sees weekly in the columns of the county’s papers, now of deaths of aged people, read their obituaries and scarcely understands the cause, till death comes suddenly in their sight and removes a father or a mother, whose stories of early days are so familiar, and then the truth flashes in mind, of a pioneer gone.

We have spoken of nights’ discord, but believe them exceptional. The lulling, not unmelodious croaking of frogs heard all the night hours by restless sleepers near Cedar Creek is a remainder of 1848 when the silence of the long June days was pleasantly interrupted by the song of wild birds, the lowing of the herd of village cows, the sound of chopping and perhaps, the sharp crack of a rifle.

The public and the individual good was so evidently dependent upon public morals that verbal and recorded testimony bears witness that all appeared ready to discountenance crime and assist in furthering the demands of justice. Indeed it is well remembered by many living in this and adjacent counties, that when the counties of Lagrange and Noble were infested by criminals, citizens organized as "Regulators" and by summary process terrorized and dispersed the band and speedily brought permanent reform.

Whether laborer, tradesman, farmer or professional, each hoped to rise to win at least a home by honorable exerting and to this new, broad field for endeavor brought a fund of self-reliance that was not easily disheartened, nor peculiarly sensitive to petty difficulties, nor readily balked by great inconveniences, but could bear privation and make sacrifices of personal comfort.

Such in the main was the character of those of whom we write and who in the years preceding and following 1848 settled in northeastern Indiana to begin life anew.

The new settlers labored hard, but their hearts were enlisted in their work, for increased values were certain to those who stood fast. They had advantages denied to us of to day and the young of those days enjoyed their pastimes with a zest not to be excelled.

Our parents found society in nature and repose in solitude, health in exertion and happiness in virtuous occupation. They doubtless felt at times a glow of generous pride in marking out a hitherto untrodden path, making the first clearings and building the first civilized tenements in the domain of nature and founding for themselves and their posterity a lasting and a noble inheritance.

Those who had money used it to great advantage in purchase of those delinquent descriptions and such men as Reuben J. Dawson, Robert Work, J. C. Bowser and Alonzo Lockwood were regular purchasers.

Three advantages the settlers had in, abundance, timber for lumber, and fuel, water of excellent quality and game for meat. It was found easier to manufacture from native wood such articles of furniture as were needed in the family although plain, rough and clumsy perhaps, than to obtain them abroad, hence the association of the terms carpenter and cabinet-maker and the invaluable services of such men ad Ingman, Sherlock, Houghton, Cosper, Ralston and Johnson.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 11 Jun 1891)


A marked feature of social life was the friendly assistance ever freely rendered in raisings, logging bees, etc., and the general and extensive neighborly visitation. Families living a dozen miles distant were recognized and visited as neighbors and only as population grew in density did the areas of neighborhoods became circumscribed.

People gave to the wayfarer, the visitor and needy of their abundance, and a genuine hospitality was a fine trait in their character well deserving of recognition. Most had plain fare and few fared very sumptuously. There was, we are told, a peculiar feeling existing among settlers about game. Few if any would receive anything in payment for what was taken by his gun, but would cheerfully give you as much as you would take and would feel affronted if refusal was made or an attempt to return the compliment, except in kind.

The cranberry and huckleberry marshes were free and the precedent then established makes it difficult for owners of such lands to restrain people from intruding.

In the fall of 1848, political feelings became strongly excited. A presidential election was to be held. The regular democratic candidate was Lewis Cass, of Michigan, the whig nominee was Gen. Zachary Taylor, of Lousiana.

Union township electors met at Auburn on Nov. 7 and cast their vote for electors. Of these, who later became prominent was Robert Dale Owen on the one ticket and Lovell H. Rausseau on the other.

The judges of this election were John D. Rockwell, Daniel Alterburg and Zenas Tanner. Timothy R. Dickinson and Joel E. Hendricks officiated as clerks, and Egbert B. Mott cast the first vote.

On hundred and forty-one votes were cast and the ballot stood 72 to 69. Martin Van Buren, a fractional candidate received no votes in Union township. DeKalb county gave Cass a majority of 230, and his majority in Indiana was about 5,000.

It is a curious and remarkable fact, akin to that of the equality of sexes, that as our state has grown in population till it exceed two millions of people, the strength of parties under new names upon fresh issues has continued relatively much the same and only by party dissention on the one hand and personal popularity on the other, have other than democratic officers been chosen in county or county seat.



Discovery of gold in far away California drew thither by various routes streams of adventurers and DeKalb county furnished its quota some of whom after years of varying fortune, returned better off than when they departed, others suffered much and gained nothing.

Inquiring of an old time resident of Auburn, as to the condition of the village in the spring of 1849, he said that at that time there was little public spirit manifested and the growth of the place was very slow. Yet there was public spirit and it was to be made manifest in ways that make this year memorable in the humble annals of our town.

Emulation is laudable when exercised in friendly rivalry for the good of the family and the refinement and elevation of societary standard. Such emulation existed between what were than as are now the two leading religious denominations established here, viz, the Methodist Episcopal and the Presbyterian.

Rev. Samuel Lamb, the minister of the Methodist church had been assigned a circuit fully ninety miles around, and in consequence, could announce preaching at Auburn but once in four week.

Rev. James T. Bliss, the Presbyterian minister permanently located and having his home in Auburn held services on every Sabbath. Nelson Payne, prominent in all affairs of the village conducted the Presbyterian Sabbath school as its superintendent, but neither denomination having a suitable place for worship it became evident that the one which took the initiative in this direction, would score a great advantage.

Wesley Park was ambitious for the welfare of Auburn in general and for the progress of Methodism in particular and in practical response to great complaint the Methodists did not hold meetings every Sunday as did the Presbyterians, put complainants on their mettle and took decisive measures towards remedying the defect by proposing and preparing to push forward the building of a house of worship.

He deeded the east half of lot 139 for a site, took the preacher into his house and with satisfaction saw the plan for the building prepared. These preliminaries being concluded, work began. Rev. Lamb, as was his great prototype the Master, was a carpenter. He laid out the frame, logs for lumber were hauled to the mill in payment of subscription, the work of framing was donated and the construction was done by different persons. Its dimensions are 36x46 feet and 14 feet to ceiling. It has been sold to Messrs Benedict and Hollister and has been moved to grounds owned by them, south of Ninth and east of Cedar streets where it will be devoted to secular uses. Mr. Park hired Houghton as foreman, as he was a resident and convenient Messrs Houghton and Cosper put up the cupola and cornice and did the roofing. This inside work was done by Houghton, George Brandt, Cosper and Hoffman. The seats, handmade by the foregoing were a credit to their skill being plain, strong and durable.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 18 Jun 1891)


The building was slowly carried forward, and was not completed until 1850. An elder from Ft. Wayne, named Robinson performed the dedicatory services before a good audience and it was from then on in regular use, although prior to dedication, meetings had been held in the church. James R. Cosper, to whom we are indebted for much of these details, recalls a personal incident of attendance at a meeting. He sat in a pew and looking up, saw as he thought that the joists just entered the gains enough to hold, and he began to fear lest the weight of the congregation on the timbers would cause them to spring and let the joists fall out and under, thought of the consequence and could scarcely refrain from crying out and making an alarm.

The result of building was all that Mr. Park had hoped for the Methodists took the lead which they have since maintained in numbers.

People came from ten miles and more around to large meetings. Many with ox-teams from Newville, Orangeville, Big Run, from the Robert Work’s neighborhood and from Hamilton, where a class has been formed and religious interest was pronounced.

At an early meeting, probably in 1849 or ’50, the first Sunday school convention in DeKalb county was held in a grove some point south of the center of the village. Exercises were held in which children bore part. Mr. Mary Mott was present and prompted her children, Sheridan and Grenville in speaking their pieces. They were the main speakers of Auburn school.

By contrast, while then, children with banners and music went in wagons to the convention and participated in a parade, exercises and public dinner, now only teachers, Sunday school workers, ministers and superintendents attend conventions and do the speaking.

Committal of scripture was a marked feature of the early Sunday school. Premiums were offered to those leaning the most verses and Mrs. A. Z. McIntosh committed 300 verses for one Sunday at Union Chapel and won a prize of a book.

Public improvement on a minor scale was made by letting to Wm. McGinnis of a contract to build a bridge over Cedar Creek at a point near the southeast corner of the village plat. S. W. Ralston was appointed by the commissioners, superintendent to oversee the construction of the work.

At the spring election held the first Monday of last May, the electors of Auburn had presented for their opinion, the question of changing from a town to that of a city government.

It was not the population stimulated ambition, for Auburn had but 3,000 people, but the consideration of advantages to be derived from a larger scope of authority and alleged not-increase of expense. The resulting vote showed the majority unprepared for the change.

Nearly 42 years ago, the question of changing from a mere county seat village to an incorporated town was discussed and the unmistakable advantages of so doing were brought before the voters of that day.

One difficulty hitherto opposed to the welfare for the place had been that bad condition of its streets and the inability to make much needed improvements and to secure authority to supervise and labor to fill mud holes and otherwise make the streets passable; the leading men moved to take legal steps for incorporation.

There does not seem to have been any opposition and the time had evidently come when Auburn was to be promoted to the dignity of an incorporated town, and acting in accordance with the statutes of Indiana for the year 1843, chapter 25, article 1, sections 1 to 34, a petition was circulated and signed by a satisfactory number of the legal voters of the village and duly presented to the board of commissioners of DeKalb county at their September session.

The board at once authorized and directed the county Auditor Miles Waterman, to give ten days’ notice of an election to be held on Sept. 22, 1849, to elect five trustees for the said to be incorporated town.

Notice was duly posted, one copy in the post office kept by T. R. Dickinson, one in the store of Nelson Payne and one on the door of the court house.

In pursuance of this notice the qualified voters of the village met at the court house and elected Alonzo Watkins, chairman and John Morris, clerk who were duly sworn to properly discharge their duty. The village was then divided into five wards as follows:

The first was to consist of the part of the village north of Fourth street.

The second ward to include what lay between Fourth and Eighth street.

The third ward to embrace so much of the village as lay between Eighth and Twelfth streets

The fourth ward to include the portion lying between Twelfth and Green street and the fifth ward the remaining part of the village, south of Green street.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 25 Jun 1891)


This plan of the division of the village into wards was then presented to the voters present and meeting of their concurrence, names were presented for trustees of the respective wards and a ballot had with the following results: First ward, O. A. Parsons received 20 votes, A. Watkins 3 votes, and D. Stroh 5 votes. Second ward, Wesley Park received 22 votes and Phillip Fluke 7; third ward, Nelson Payne received 26 votes and M. Waterman 3; fourth ward, James T. Bliss received 11 votes, T. J. Bliss 9, Charles Stimely 7 and John Morris 1. Joel E. Hendricks received 218 votes for trustee of the fifth ward and met no opposition.

There upon, O. A. Parson, Wesley Park, Nelson Payne, James T. Bliss and Joel E. Hendricks were declared duly elected trustees for their respective wards and so became the first board of trustees of the incorporated town of Auburn.

We know from previous history, the names of a number of voters who were not present at this the first town election but it is a matter of public interest to learn who composed the thirty electors who showed interest in Auburn’s progress in its advance from village to town, and hence the roll is here given as follows:

T. R. Dickinson, O. A. Parsons, J. T. Bliss, E. B. Mott, F. Jones, A. Watkins, John Morris, Isaac Jones, Wm. B. Dancer, Wm. Abright, J. H. Ford, Daniel Stroh, Z. Tanner, Daniel Hartrough S. W. Ralston, John Bolinger, George Wagoner, Stephen Latson, Phillip Fluke, C. Stimely, A. Plum, M. Waterman, W. Park, John Johnston, Lewis Weaver, Harrison Jones, E. Wetsel, E. R. Woodbury, Henry Curtis and George Webb.

Of the above named men who organized the town government for Auburn some yet living but they are few in number. Death has been relentless and here in the town sharing its depressions and its prosperity, there have been those who made it their home all the intervening years to the present. The old resident had been respected not simply because of long residence but that he has had sterling traits of character which commanded esteem.

There are those who could narrate much concerning these men, their ability, their success, their business or professional qualities, much that the writer cannot know so that, at most he can only make of them individually brief mention.

Of Messrs. Dickinson, Bliss, Mott, Ralston, Morris Ford, Fluke, Wagoner and Waterman, we have spoken.

Messrs. Parson, Watkins and Woodbury removed to Ohio, near Cleveland and there died. Franklin Jones lives near Wagoner in the northwest vicinity to Auburn. Isaac and Harrison Jones went west, one died in Arkansas, the other in a state farther west.

Daniel Stroh lives in Stroh settlement and C. Stimely just west of town. John Bolinger moved to Illinois and died there. Stephen Latson, brother of James Latson, ex-coroner of the county, died in Auburn about 1863. John Johnston, also died while a resident of Auburn. Henry Curtis moved to Ohio, and George Webb is dead, Possibly ten of the thirty survive and where ever they are, each may refer with pardonable pride to the 22nd of Sept. 1849, when their suffrage made Auburn a town.

The first meeting of the early chosen trustees of the town of Auburn, was held on Sept. 26th in the office of the county treasurer and, as required by statute, a copy of proceedings was filed in the office of the DeKalb circuit court.

The trustees having qualified, elected Joel E. Hendricks, president of the board, T. R. Dickinson was appointed clerk of the town of Auburn, Egbert B. Mott, treasurer and Wm. B. Dancer assessor. The last named was ordered to make an assessment of the value of town lots and their improvements from a list to be furnished by the town clerk.

Nelson Payne supplied a book for record of proceedings, and Messrs. Hendricks, Dickinson and Mott were appointed a committee to draft by-laws for town government an to report at the next meeting.

Section 6 of the by-laws reported and approved, enacted a tax of 50 cents on each $100 valuation, and provided for working out this tax on the streets under direction of trustees of respective wards, allowing 75cts. for a day’s labor.

On Dec. 6, E. B. Mott filed his bond as treasurer in the sum of $500 with John Morris and Alonzo Watkins as sureties and the machinery of government being established, it was ordered that no meetings be held in the first two months of 1850.

There were no public school, for the school law was not yet in existence. Select schools were meanwhile carried on by more or less qualified school masters and those who valued education sent their children to school and paid for their tuition and those who were indifferent or had no children were not concerned.

Although the former class were in the minority in some localities it does not appear that those founders of Auburn as a town were backward in regard to school interest.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 2 Jul 1891)


William Clark and Joel Hendericks are remembered as prominent teachers of this date. The former for his interest in elocution and the latter for mathematical instruction. To receive the benefits of each educator, enterprising farmers sent sons and daughters to their schools, just as many others have done and are still doing, much to the benefit of the country youth and the schools themselves.

Mr. Clark taught in a humble frame school house that stood on a lot now owned and occupied by Mrs. Regina Weaver, and which, moved to the north end of Cedar street, was till his death the abode of John Moore, the wood-sawyer.

Mr. Hendricks opened and continued a school through the winter of 1849 and ’50, his school room as heretofore being the northeast room, in the second story of the then court house on terms previously required.

County affairs ran smoothly. Licenses to sell liquor were granted in 1849, on payment of $15.00. The prosecuting attorney was allowed an annual salary of $50.00 and A. C. Morton, publisher and editor of the Indiana Review was at the December session of the board of commissioners, allowed $140.25 for publishing the delinquent taxes in DeKalb county.

The Indiana Review was published at Angola, Steuben county and the first number was issued in June of 1849. Its motto was the couplet: "To win a nation’s pure and just applause, Give few and simple, but comprehensive laws."

Which advice, however good, seems to both by legislation and the congress to have been wholly ignored and the reverse course followed.

It does not appear that Auburn at as early a date as 1849, was visited by a daguerran artist but it is possible since in the fall of this year E. J. Cadwell stopped for a few days in towns and villages and advertised his ability to take correct likeness. Who does not or did not at some time have one or more of those pictures, named after the inventor? The picture to be held at such an angle to see the likeness, was of greater fidelity to nature than the ambrotype, and photograph from many a modern gallery.

The marriage of Dr. Wm. B. Dancer, of Auburn to Miss Julia A. Poag, of Savannah, by the Rev. J. T. Bliss on Nov. 8, 1849, was published in the Indiana Review and thus we learn that to the office of town assessor, and school master was added that of medical practitioner, but the day has come when only the specialist in chosen calling succeeds.


It may be truthfully recorded of the men who composed the first town board of Auburn that they served without salary and accepted office solely for the best interests of the town. A this time the office sought the man and having found him it was enacted in section 5, of the by-laws governing the corporation "that any person who shall be elected or appointed to any office in this town and shall neglect or refuse to perform any duty required of him, shall at the discretion of the board of trustees be fined in any sum not less that one dollar, nor over five dollars.

There being no record of any fines having been imposed, it is evident that at no time in the history of the town, has there been any difficulty in finding competent men to accept its office and perform their duties regardless of compensation.

Economy in those first years was the rule and when the board finally met April 3, 1850, the first claims for allowances were presented. They were comprised in twelve numbers issued to four persons and aggregated but $24.00.

Six of these claims amounting to $10, were for services of T. R. Dickinson as town clerk; one for $6 was allowed Jon Rosser & Bro. Stationers, for blank orders and receipts; four claims amounting to $5.50 were allowed Nelson Payne for blank books, and on May 2, Wm. B. Dancer was allowed $2.50 for services as assessor of the town.

The first general election held as now on the first Monday of May, took place at court house on May 6, 1850. Messrs. Park, Parsons and Payne, trustees and Mr. Dickinson, clerk were present and Mr. Parsons was appointed president for the time.

At this election 43 votes were cast, resulting in the re election of the old board excepting Wesley Park, who having for competitor, Thomas J. Freeman and each receiving 18 votes, there was no choice for the second ward. A special election was held to fill vacancy Sept. 4 and A. Plum was elected by a light vote. No business was transacted during the summer and the board organized Oct 2, with Payne, president; Dickinson, clerk; Dancer, assessor; and Griswold was appointed town treasurer with John Morris as surety on bond of $500.

The town offered at this time few attractions. It was the promise of the future which held residents and brought in others; as some came hopeful, others doubtful or despairing of the distant boom of prosperity, sought elsewhere a realization of their hopes.

(To be continues next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 9 Jul 1891)


Houses were scattered at wide intervals; logs lay upon the court house square an pawpaw bushes grew rank and tall. Several good houses were built this year and, still in use, are in their stout frame work, of more value than some more showy structures of this day.

John Morris had built for his residence what has long been known as the Dills property on South Main street, and the same year Houghton built the capacious dwelling still the commodious home of his widow.

Among additional names of voters at the election of 1850 we find those of but one still living and resident. This is that of our worthy and respected townsman, Samuel Swihart, by trade a carpenter, as were Jonathan Hall, Amos Hutchins, Jefferson Wallace and others.

Hall long lived in a house built by himself and now the home of Mrs. Moss and her parents. He was a quiet man and good neighbor. He moved about 1868 to a farm in Richland Twp., carried mail for a time between Corunna and Salem Center and died years ago. The old house in Auburn was a temporary home to various renters till Geo. H. K. Moss, having been elected county clerk, bought and greatly improved the property where he resided till his death.

Hutchins was the builder, some time in the ’50’s, of the house on South Jackson street, the home of George Ensley, a prominent and enterprising resident of Auburn for many years and intimately identified with the most substantial improvements. This house, now occupied by Mr. Zent, was erected for James Griswold, owner at that time, of quite a tract of land in that locality; including the grounds on which stands Mitchell’s saw mill and the old grist mill.

John Butt, long closely associated with those to whom the town’s interests were entrusted, was an emigrant from England to this country and locality. He first essayed pioneer work upon a farm and in later years took pleasure in recounting his experiences as a settler. To fell a tree he hacked for a long time wearily, all around the height of the proposed stump. And by dint of patient labor, finally brought down the tree in triumph. But his specialty was not in tree-felling. About 1850, he became a resident of Auburn and kept a grocery store in a small frame which stood on the lot where now John Hebel has his fine residence. He became proprietor of the Weaver House which stood on the present site of the Swineford House, and from this stand, ran a daily line of hacks between Angola and Fort Wayne. Removing to Waterloo, he was long proprietor of a hotel there, which he traded for Auburn property, with Frank Ryan, ex-county treasurer, and once more and finally made his home at this place. He had been elected county recorder on the democratic ticket. He died about eight months after the expiration of his term of office. He was a stately, courteous and sociable citizen, highly esteemed by the community in general.

John Parnell ran an ashery for some time for the manufacture of pearl-ash. This business, characteristic of early settlements, he, in the end made profitable, and finally moved upon a farm in Smithfield township, where relative now reside. The ashery stood on a lot east of the court house.

A party named John Tridell perhaps about this time, had built and operated a foundry on a small scale on the corner where now stands the law office of John W. Baxter. Later Samuel Weaver became owner, who in turn, sold to John Miller, a prominent official of those years.

Wyllys Griswold migrated in 1838 from Danbury, Connecticut, to Canton, Ohio thence to DeKalb county. He was accompanied by his wife Abigail and three children, Hiram, Helen and Wheden. He long lived in the property which for years since had been the home of Wm. McIntyre, ex-auditor, and since the organization of the First National Bank of Auburn, an official thereof. Mr. Griswold was one of the original members of the Presbyterian society organized in 1846 and lived to see the denomination worship in their present beautiful church. He owned and ran the old water saw mill for a time and was justice of the peace about this time and in 1851 was elected town treasurer and from 1855 to 1859 was county recorder.

During his long life he was an active member of the society and, like Samuel Ralston, could not endure idleness, and his last work was leveling the fill leading east to the old Ninth St. bridge.

In the fall of 1849, quite a colony migrated from Stark county Ohio, to the vicinity of Auburn. The party, nineteen in number, consisted of John and Peter Brandon, with families; Philip Grube, who had a month before leaving married Sarah Brandon, and a John Slater, who was looking for a location. John Brandon located just outside the corporation to northward of town on the land now occupied by a son, Isaac B. Brandon; Peter Brandon owned a farm in Richland township, now property of Elijah McDowel, and Slater entered land in Smithfield near the present farm of Fred Gfeller, and lived there. Philip Grube lived till his death a few years ago on a farm in Jackson township. It is remembered that he brought west with him a daguerotype apparatus, but sold it shortly after his arrival to a party who failed in its profitable use, and soon moved away taking it along, John Brandon was county commissioner during the early sixties.

(To be continues next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Day and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 16 Jul 1891)


Silas J. Brandon, a son of John Brandon and well known as having been trustee of Jackson township, and later county treasurer, now traveling salesman in the Auburn Foundry and Machine Works, in which he has an interest, having passed his early life in this vicinity, has seen the fluctuation of Auburn’s growth and is familiar from boyhood with its history.

He remarks upon the uncleared court yard when he, with others of the boys of that date, played their games and remembers the new town as he saw it in 1850. The buildings were very scattering and he estimates the number of houses at about thirty. Thomas Freeman in which is now the Moody House, kept by John Moody, himself an early settler, then carried on a grocery and general store, Nelson Payne was in business in a store building which stood about the site of Edward Eldridge’s saloon and Watkins & Woodbury traded in a small way in a little building then located on the lot where is now the residence of M. Boland, ex county recorder.

The district school as distinguished from the select schools of which mention has been made was in the fall and winter of 1849, kept by a young man, a relative of Samuel W. Sprott, named Paul A. McMynn.

At a meeting of the board of commissioners held in 1850, this person was selected as a student from DeKalb county to the university of Indiana, and was probably the first student to represent the county at any state institution of learning. Of those who have succeeded him there have been none but have reflected credit upon this county.

We hardly need mention, the Seilers, Michael and Cyrus, Fairfield township boys who attended the state normal, of Terre haute to good advantage, the one a prominent educator in this state, the other has been county treasurer of Elkhart county. Or Calvin P. Houser one of the first to attend the normal and to bring into practice in DeKalb district schools the progressive methods then taught.

We can no more than name such as William Spangler, librarian at Bloomington, Orrin Hubbell, now state senator, and eloquent speaker, and later the Hines boys form near Sedan, Irvin Hoffman, who has given a bright example of what perseverance in a chosen calling can accomplish, and Josiah Teeters, an athlete in manly sports and a close, earnest student.

It would be of interest to know what became of McMynn, and of still further moment if Supt. Merica, himself a Valparaiso student, could find time to name in one article all DeKalb boys, who have gone out since 1850 to improve their condition and incidentally reflect credit upon the locality whence they came.

The district school in the fall and winter of 1850-1 was taught by Joshua R. Steves, who long resided at Corunna, and of late years a resident of Auburn and a worthy citizen. His successor in turn was James W. Case, later post-master and storekeeper, and now a resident of Washington D. C., where his son a talented Auburn boy and a graduate of Ann Arbor University, had a lucrative and responsible government position.

The text books in use in those days preceding the advent of the McGuffy series were of a mixed character. Each family had its own books. Among other books Mr. Brandon recalls Cobb’s readers, and the testament. The children of Judge Mott constituted the class in Kirkhams’ grammar, and the discipline of the schools was severe as compared with the present.

George W. Brandt came to Auburn in 1850 and we are informed bought the block which fronts for the old Case building to Davis’ Pioneer hardware store, although deeds on record do not confirm the statement. On the lot to the rear of the former, stood a building in which he carried on a business as cabinet maker and the next year erected and finished the house next north of the old frame Presbyterian church, now owned by the society know as "Church of God." In the quaint, old fashioned home he passed many years. He delighted in reminiscences of the past, and when he suddenly died, few persons more familiar were missed from out streets.

George Stahl, of whom we have spoken was yet another of the settlers of 1850 in Auburn and still remains with us.

Turning to the records of Auburn as the county seat we find her townsmen active in measures tending to the improvement of the country and the well being of its citizens.

When the board of county commissioners met in the spring of 1850, they were convened by Sheriff Samuel W. Ralston, and Miles Waterman, auditor was ex-officio, clerk of the board.

Amzi Seely was president and the others members were A. L. Casebeer and John V. Keeran, the later appointed by circuit court to fill vacancy caused by resignation of James M. Goetchius.

John Baxter the county assessor, in accordance with the law then in force, appeared and took his seat as ex-officio, a member of the board of equalization.

It is interesting to note how history repeats itself as fashions run out, and again, after lapse of years return, so now in 1891, the new law creates a county assessor, and again makes him a member with the auditor and treasurer of a board of equalization to meet in July.

Road viewing has given place to ditch viewing, requiring many days and litigated ditch cases, like the Moody or the Bubb drain have involved viewers’ fees amounting to hundreds of dollars. Compared to ditch viewing and the placing of values on estimated benefited acreage, road viewing was but child’s play, yet in 1860, now small amount of official duty lay in the appointment of qualified viewers.

Among these, Henry Fusselman, Noyce Coats and George L. Tanner were viewers on that part of the Morning Star road lying between the crossing of sections 20 and 21 and sections 8 and 9 in then Union township, and on favorable report the road was opened to a width of forty feet.

S. W. Sprott, T. R. Dickinson and O. A. Parsons, Auburn people, served this season in the capacity of road viewers, but of later years the selection of farmers for this service gives general satisfaction.

(To be Continued)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 23 Jul 1891)


From a report made by S.W. Sprott at the April term of collections from licenses, we find clock peddlers paid $10, tavern keepers $36, and merchants $60. Just why the clock peddlers and merchants should have required a license to ply their calling does not appear unless it was a "tariff for revenue only" but as each town had its bar the equity of license was as just then on the tavern keeper as it is on the saloon keeper, and , to-day, the object is repression and revenue. The expense of elections was $16, and assessor Baxter was allowed $142.50 for assessing the county and taking the enumeration.

The county at this date had an indebtedness of $385.64 ¾, and an examination of the treasury June 1st, 1850, found the following assets of the county: Road receipts $820.67; discharged state tax certificates $3.75; probate certificates $6.00; school tax orders $20.10; town orders $2.00; county orders $328.02; certificates of deposit $47.49; uncurrent paper funds $44.00; current paper funds $31; gold and silver $512.22.

We see that road receipts comprise about 40 per cent, available funds about 33 per cent and depreciated or worthless bank notes 2 ½ per cent of the sum total of $1,815.25.

It does not seem that the people of the present generation realize their great good fortune to live at a time when our currency, whatever its character, greenbacks, silver or gold certificates or nation currency is exchangeable any where in these many and great United States, without discount, for gold or silver. They do not know as the old settlers learned to know by bitter experience that unsecured wildcat currency, received for their merchantable commodities was constantly fluctuating in value and no certainty of being of any value from one day till another and of no use, beyond a certain territory, thus causing exchanges and brokerage and constant loss to the fortunate yet unfortunate processor.

The war was a great civil convulsion and accomplished much good. Not the least of the benefits if conferred was the supply through government of a well secured currency never at a discount now and rarely counterfeited. The first National bank of Auburn, strong in its resources, its notes circulating from Maine to Oregon and exchangeable for gold anywhere, contrasts vividly with those days of irredeemable currency, and it is to be hoped that the day of the "Shinplaster" has forever gone by.

The year 1850, a justice of the peace was assigned to Union township, to reside in Auburn. Election was held in September and Wyllys Griswold was chosen to fill that office and speedily entered upon his duties. Auburn has continued to have a resident justice since that time and later the number was doubled. Isaac Hague and Jacob Walborn, the latter successor to Samuel W. Ralston, are present incumbents of the position.

In the fall of 1850, Oliver D. Keep became commissioner for the 1st district and William Showers was elected in place of Mr. Goetchius.

Mr. Ralston who had been serving as sheriff having been elected county treasurer qualified as such in September, 1850, giving bound in the sum of $35,000, with the following named bondsmen: N. Payne, Thomas Ford, P. Fluke, M. Waterman, William Clark, John Shull and Alfred Sheets.

Mr. Waterman appointed T. R. Dickinson, deputy auditor, and Mr. Ralston at the same time appointed him deputy treasurer and he was qualified before the board of county commissioners.

W. K. Straight was sheriff at the time. The commissioners obtained a seal whose device is a standing grain sheaf upon which rest plow and rake, and shutters were authorized for windows of the treasurer’s office for further security of the office.

It does not appear that any safe had been procured, and the insecurity which the office in 1867 revealed when the treasury was robbed renders it doubtful whether shutters were not more of a protection than safes.

The large sums now raised by taxation are deposited subject to check in the various banks of the county and the security thus obtained for public funds can only be appreciated when some official, trusting to the safe and time lock, goes to his office some Monday morning and finds the doors open, the money gone, the treasury bankrupt and the people robbed. In 1850, shutters, presumably wooden, were deemed sufficient protection and in the absence of banking facilities was the best that could be done.

(To be continued)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 30 Jul 1891)


Forty years ago, Auburn had no county buildings of value, and held the field without competition from rival towns. In the fall of the year, Miles Waterman, county auditor, published a notice in the Albion Observer inviting proposals for furnishing the materials and building a jail for DeKalb county, the work to be finished by Sept. 1st, 1852. The advertisement records a progressive step and this same year, the Presbyterian Society of Auburn, emulation the example of their Methodist friends, erected for their use the little frame church, afterward owned by the Lutherans and at present by the society of the Church of God.

That part of a lot on which it still stands, apparently a little the worse for the wear of time, was deeded to the Society by S. W. Ralston on the usual condition of ownership as long as used for church purposes and when the building was completed, Auburn could boast of two meeting-houses and the societies had places to worship.

Prior to this time, active temperance people had organized what was know as "Sons of Temperance, Auburn division No. 251," and had been allowed for their assemblies, the use of the southeast room of the Court House. So that in the strength of union, the three great influences which elevate society, morally, religiously and educationally, were represented in Auburn by order, church and school, the latter being the transition state just preceding the legislative enactment that established the common school system, which in a crude and unsatisfactory manner began its work.

Forty years’ experience have been productive of great changes and could a citizen have fallen asleep like Rip Van Winkle to awake in 1891, his surroundings in Auburn would be productive of as much that was strange and perplexing.

Aside from fine building, beautiful streets and electric lights, and the big teams with the fire engine galloping to the scene of a blaze, he could fine manners, methods and fashions changed.

Once it was the rule in church to make long prayers and to preach long and most wearisome doctrinal sermons, relieving the tedium by congregational singing; now he could hear brief prayers, choir singing blending with organ music and would scarcely have settled himself to hear the sermon when it would be concluded.

He would hear more of heaven than of hell and listen to much of human duty and little of former sectarian disquisitions.

He would find intemperance still tolerated and prohibition materialized in politics under the leadership of our friends John W. Baxter, Chas. Eckhart, Alex Kinmont and others, ever undaunted by defeat and hopeful of a temperance tidal wave to come.

The schools would please and puzzle him, the helpless reliance upon and strict adherence to the teaching of text books however inapplicable, to the brief, practical rules governing business would seem familiar but the system prevailing he perforce must admire.

Were he an old-time pedagogue he would find the practice of physical punishment obsolete. The ferule no more blisters the backward-bent palm, the rod no longer stimulates the indolent nor restrains the truant.

It would be interesting reading to all especially so to any that might have been school-boys and school-girls of 1851, and following years, would our friends Mr. Steves and Mr. Case contribute an article on "The Schoolmaster of Forty Years Ago?" Would these lines on the Village Schoolmaster apply to Auburn?

"There, in his noisy mansion skilled to rule,

The village master taught his little school.

Yet, he was kind, or, if if severe in aught,

The love he bore to learning was his fault’

But past is all his fame. The very spot

Where many a time he triumphed is forgot."

Who remembers now the attempted reform in dress named after Mrs. Amelia Bloomer, the temperance, dress reform and women’s rights advocate? Did the Bloomer costume have supporter in Auburn? Could they have lived till now they would see such changes as would have proved those early and sharply criticized customers had suggested a needed change and there are few young people who recollect the crinoline craze of the fifties.

It was said of an Auburn minister some time since that the people of to-day could not return to the methods of their fathers. The farmers certainly would not if they could. It is more pleasant in the retrospection than the experience to recall former days in 1851.

The carriage manufactories of Kiblinger and of Eckhart would have had little patronage, the time of the buggy had not come and the stout-built wagons like those made by Englebert Ashley were calculated to withstand the wrenches in deep ruts and rough wheeling over long stretches of corduroy which then made part of the rude roads.

Tillage was mostly by hand. A light corn plow came later. In the field the farmer, his sons and his help, hoe in hand moved at right angles to the light furrows, planting corn taken from a bag tied about the waist and dropping pumpkin seed at intervals. Later, the same force was seen doing the work now greatly done by the cultivator.

Harvest was a busy time and help came from the towns along the roads and the swing of the cradles with their straight handles or grape vine implement was followed by the alert, steady move of the men who could "rake and bind" and keep up. The twine binder has changed all this and soon the farmer boy will not know how binding was done.

Each town and village of DeKalb now contribute a market for the farmers’ products and the telegraph keeps the buyers in touch with the pulsation of the city prices governed by the crop reports, grain in sight, rumors of European shortage, or war-like complications, but in 1851, the market for the farmers of this section of country was at Ft. Wayne, where prices Nov. 13, were quoted as follows: Wheat, 45 cts; with no prospects of improvement. Corn and oats, 20 to 25cts; rye, 35; butter, 10; eggs, 10; pork, $4; beef, $3; Flax seed, 85; timothy seed, $1.25; clover, $3.25 to $4; and cranberries, $1.75 to $2.

(To be continued next week)




Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 6 Aug 1891)


How much ahead was the farmer, counting cost of production, threshing and marketing, when he had returned home with a portion of the $18, questionably good money received for his load of forty bushels.

No wonder the lands advertised for delinquent taxes comprised hundreds of partly cleared farms, and great wonder they finally redeemed their hard-won property from the speculator in the necessities of the agriculturist.

Meanwhile, events at the county seat repeated themselves with monotonous uniformity. There were few meeting of the town board, and only occasionally a quorum was present.

Dr. Dancer was continued town assessor, and the trustees were empowered to expend money or labor, whether it was tax or gratuity, to cut any ditch or drain and to make any needed excavation for the improvement of their respective wards, in streets or sidewalks.

The sum of $25 was ordered appropriated towards making a ditch on the west side of town, and S. W. Sprott was appointed to solicit donations and to direct the execution of the work. This was the first allowance made by town authorities for public benefit, and a greater ditch, at a corresponding great-cost, has now forty years later, been supervised by S. W. Sprott’s son.

A special meeting was called in May, 1851, at which Mr. Dickinson resigned the office of clerk, he having been as stated, appointed deputy in the county offices of auditor and treasurer. S. W. Dickinson was on the same day sworn in as his successor.

At the general election, held May 5th, a full vote was polled; the list of persons voting was increased to 63, and the old board was re-elected by majorities of 21 to 20. This result at once emphasized their popularity and endorsed their official services.

It was right that those who had been intrusted with the work of organization should be given time to complete their important duty.

Fifteen years since DeKalb County was organized, and of the great stream of settlers sweeping over the valley of the Mississippi, 8,000 had found home with in its boundaries.

Looking away from Auburn, we turn our attention to other parts of the county and find the struggling town has as yet no rivals to fear. Other counties had begun to build plank roads, which have long since been superseded by splendid graded highways, but DeKalb county never had a plank road, much less a graded one, and save the sensible work done by some supervisors with the road scrapers, the roads have improved only as drainage has made the road bed firmer, and cuts and fills have reduced sudden grades and covered deep the corduroy.

Spencerville and Newville were small, thriving villages, but of the towns now so fast grown and growing, there was scarce a beginning. As early as 1844, the people in the vicinity of what is now Butler, had a postoffice know as Oak Hill, situated two miles south of the present town of Butler, and kept by Thomas Fosdick.

The first house built in the village was a log school house erected about 1841, in which L. Harding was teacher. The first dwelling had been put up by a Mr. Brainard and was long occupied by Mr. Otis, and in 1851, a small trading point was established on the southwest corner of land owned by Charles Morris. Here, in little log hut, on a site where later stood the store of Stiefel & Strauss, Ladd Thomas and Osburn Coburn began business. Later a village sprang up and Norristown was a name familiar to the settlers of Wilmington and the adjacent neighborhood. The outlook was favorable but withal, Auburn seemed almost stationary and records and recollections bear witness that despite the improvements made and contemplated, a period of depression existed which doubtless had origin in the poverty of settlers and stagnation of trade.

In September, 1851, the wife of Rev. J. T. Bliss died and she was buried in the old cemetery. There are those living, but not many, who attended and remember the details of that funeral.

The slow journey south of town through the woods, the simple rites of sepulture, the peaceful solitude when the last loiterer had departed, the simple and sweet requiem sung by the wild wood-birds, and the softly dropping rain were memorials of that time and place as loving nature began her subtle process of dissolution and resurrection in forgettable forms.

There be many each Sabbath, who find melancholy pleasure in visiting the well-kept grounds of Evergreen Cemetery, but few there are who care to traverse the winding paths which lead among the pitfalls of the recumbent granite stones and the brambles which cover the site of the old grave yard.

These two burial places, a highway only between them, vividly contrast the new with the old. The one beautiful in its environing iron fence, its costly monuments and abounding evidences of tender regard for dear ones, the other given over to rank decay, with broken, defaced and fallen marble slabs, sunken earth and manifest neglect presaging a speedy oblivion of name as well as resting place of Auburn’s pioneer dead.

Here and there among these tombs of the early day, stand some of recent date, well cared for an attesting remembrance, but in general, the two places of burial solemnly as silently typify inevitable tendencies of modern times.

The ancients built cities of granite stone, stately mausoleums and great pyramids, and from beneath the rubbish of centuries, the antiquary exhumes the ornate sculpture of courts and temples, and the marvelous skill of the embalmer of old Egypt’s dead, has preserved the forms of king and prince to be recognized as their mummified remains a score of centuries down the course of time, but our modern civilization all in transient and superficial. Forgetful as we are, the time approaches when even the graves of the last of Auburn’s early settlers will become obliterated and perhaps a chance preserved copy of the Auburn Courier, of 1891, penned in curiosity may remain the only link to connect the then present with the olden time.


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 13 Aug 1891)


We grow old unconsciously.—Time’s touches are gentle but durable, and they are accepted tranquilly. We are not alarmed when the hair gradually turns gray and our faculties become enfeebled and the reminiscences of the aged know nothing of passing years.

We read the names of marriages in 1852 and fancy speeds backward and recalls early friends in their strong manhood and womanhood and poverty with content, when hand in hand, these people joined in the simple, solemn ceremony before the justice or minister and then quietly began the new life in the log cabin, devoid of ornament or convenience, but happily, the abode of faith, hope and happiness in a degree not excelled in these days of mechanical and artistic appliances and adornment.

There were no sewing machines, gasoline stove, kerosene, lamps and no organs, but there were spinning wheels, looms, fire-places, candles and dulcimers and melodeans.

There were home-spun clothes, home-carpets and in the court house wonderfully contrasting with the electric lights and natural gas of the present, the county officials were content with stove and candles. In 1852, John McCune, then county recorder presented his bill before the county commissioners and was allowed $2.81 for candles for his office. In the garrets, the old wheels are thick with cobwebs. Few like Shoudel, of Jackson, make a business of weaving rag carpets and the homes are few where the girls have no organ and the boys no buggy.

One cannot but observe how closely those early inter-marriages connected the families till all became, some nearly, home more distantly, related to each other, and the words "uncle, aunt, grandpap or grandma" heard on occasion of an old settler’s reunion are rightly bestowed.

We have spoken of the Methodist and Presbyterian societies which had become established in meeting houses and already made a creditable progress beyond the pioneer stage. In 1851, a third denomination was organized in Auburn and its founder still lives honored and respected by the community, to enjoy a full measure of his early enterprise.

The history of the Baptist church dates almost co-eval with the first settlement of DeKalb county. Pioneers together built the little log school house, where week days, school was kept and on the Sabbath, creeds were affirmed, convictions experienced and whence, to some convenient stream, converts were escorted to pass by the portal of immersion within the church.

Here and there in the township, log meeting houses were raised and long served their purpose, and later crumbled into ruins and passed into forgetfulness.

The first regular Baptist church organized in this county was known as the "Cedar Creek church." The house of worship was a log building located about one mile south of the present village of Corunna. The date of organization was in 1841 or ’42. Deacon William Conly, who afterward became a minister was prominent among its early members.

Calvin Calkin, T. D. Daily and wife and several sons and daughters were other members of the society. The pastors of the church at various times were Elders P. H. Evans, William N. Welker, A. Town and others. This church prospered for a goodly number of years, but now has no visible existence.

The next church organized was within the bounds of Wilmington township and had its origin in the year 1844. Its formation was largely owing to the zealous efforts of Elders A. Town and R. Speer.

James R. Cosper donated land for a church site so long as it would be used for religious purposes. A log meeting house was raised having a capacity for fully three hundred people.

The settlers turned out in strong force to help at the raising.

Among the first members of this church, are found the names of Richard and Dewitt Hicks, Harvey and William Haskins, Mrs. Haines and S. B. Ward and wife. Of others who connected themselves with the church soon after its organization were G. R. Baker and wife, S. Baker and wife, E. W. Fosdick and mother and two sisters, and S. B. Meade and wife. The last named was the first settled pastor of the church, his pastorate continuing about two years when he removed to Michigan and thence to Iowa.

Rev. S. B. Ward succeeded Rev. Meade in pastoral care of the church until he moved to Auburn in 1852. At this time Elders Baker and Whitehead held a series of meetings in Auburn and a Baptist church was organization in town. Owing to the fact that many members of the Wilmington church united to form this church in Auburn, that society practically dissolved. Occasionally meetings were held in Baptists in the log building and the Disciples for two years held regular services in it, under the preaching of Elders Randall Faurot and James Hadsell. Finally in 1861, the house having served its purpose was abanded and torn down.

On August 13, 1852, the brethren met at the old court house to take into consideration the propriety of organizing a Baptist church in the town of Auburn.

At this meeting W. W. Welker was moderator and S. B. Ward clerk. The purport of the meeting was presented by Joseph Wolsey, as an initiatory step towards the forming of a church in Auburn.

An organization was effected on Sept. 15. Letters had been meantime obtained from the parent church and were presented by Joseph Wolsey, Jacob Hick, John Thomas, Isaac Kelley , G. R. Baker, Philo Sanford, Ann Thomas, Vesta M. Ward, Hannah Baker, Sarah Kelley, Eliza Draggoo, Harriet Sanford, S. B. and Laura Ward, John Thomas Jr., Sophia Lumford. Eliza Ashelman and Sarah J. Housel, of Auburn.

These parties constituted the original membership of the first Baptist church in Auburn. At this meeting G. R. Baker was appointed deacon and S. B. Ward, clerk.

Elder Ward became the first pastor and Elder A. Town was his successor for a short time, but then moved west taking with him a large number of members. This resulted in the suspension of church work and finally to the disbanding of the church.

Having no building of their own, the meetings had been held at the court house and at the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 20 Aug 1891)


While these christianizing influences were active in the interests of moral and religious progress, the fact that men will sin despite church disciplines and codes of law was not ignored, and Jefferson Wallace having contracted on Dec. 5th, 1851, to build a county jail, gave bond and was duly authorized in furtherance of the work to draw on the county to the sum of $1000.

B. G. Cosgrove was architect and was allowed $30 for this plan. In December 1852, the board of commissioners examined the completed building and accepted the job. W. K. Streight, then sheriff was instructed to bank the jail. Joshua R. Steves, now a resident of Auburn, acting for Wallace did the painting required and the county had a fairly secure place of restraint for law breakers and had made great progress during the years since Wesley Park’s ladder-reached upper chamber served as prison.

This jail has a history all its own. In its close dungeon-like cells many a hardened offender has been confined together with many minor offenders. At the June term of 1854. Auburn was granted the privilege of using the county jail as a calaboose when not otherwise in use.

In the old jail, early resident will remember that Mrs. Knapp was confined for the revolting murder of her husband and the sensation she created by her partially successful attempt to commit "hari kari" having actually cut out a portion of an intestine, and yet strange to say, she for years survived the perilous experiment.

In 1860, the upper story of the sheriff’s residence part of the building was in use by young people of the Walsworth, Altenburg, Cosper families, who were in attendance at school to Chester P. Hodge in the Academy. John Moore, probably remembered by few now, was in charge of the jail proper and gave the renters a fright by a threat to burn them out and he had gathered combustible material in a cell where it was found, and he was summarily dismissed by Sheriff Ralston.

Twenty six years ago, Henry Willis was sheriff and then as now lived at Waterloo. Alexander Canon, a man well advanced in years was jailer and occupied the building with this family. Charley Fair, a man of great strength and peaceable disposition was one of his charges, kept there on account of periodical fits of insanity. Not many who now live in Auburn recollect him.

Some will recall a sunny afternoon when a trio of rascals confined in the jail posted two of their number at the high barred window to talk, sing and otherwise noisily express their felicity, while the third busily tunneled a passage under the floor through which in the silence and security of night, they made their exit and rid the jailer of the trouble of caring for and feeding them and the county the expense of trying them.

Our friend, Jerry Plum, sheriff from 1868 to 1872 has reason to feel an interest in the old jail, for among his prisoners during his term was a ruffian known as "Michigan Bill"
who choosing his opportunity made a desperate assault upon the officers and profited by the confusion to make his escape.

To some these items may seem trivial events to record but ours has been a peaceful community and our history had been disfigured by no tragedies such as shock the mind to peruse accounts of them. Trifles make up the sum of our lives and by a kindly provision of nature, as youth looks hopefully to the future, age dwells with pleasure upon the past, even as the foreigner as long absent from his native land and forgetful of his parents tongue, dying, recalled and spoke again of childhood’s scenes in the language of his fathers.

When the present fine modern jail was contracted for in 1875, the old building was moved east to its present location on the northeast corner of Cedar and Ninth streets and being fitted up, serves as quarters for our steam fire engine, hook and ladder apparatus, and a room has been for years used for meetings of the town board.

Matters connected with county business showed little of moment. In March of 1852, W. P. Means had found the work of county assessor too great for him and on petition two deputies, Daniel Altenburg and William Mathews were appointed to give him assistance.

Appropriations grew in number and amounts as they have done since keeping pace with growth of assessment, but it is confidently expected with good reason that the great increased of 1891 will result in a minimum of rates of taxation as speedily as possible. The increase of values of Auburn, as made by Mr. Weaver and his deputies from $414,000 to about one million will undoubtedly result in a reduction of rates from $3.49 on $100, to not exceed $2.00.

The road tax in 1852 was placed at 3 ¾ cents on each acre of taxable land and 45 cents on each $100, on town lots and improvements.

John Rosser and brother had the patronage in furnishing blank books, which at present and for may years past has been controlled by Wm. B. Burford, of Indianapolis through their shrewd and experienced agent, Mr. Hicks.

T. R. Dickinson had his law office conveniently located on the public square between the circuit clerk’s and county treasurer’s office, and J. E. Hendricks still occupied his former school room in the court house, the school district paying for rent into the county treasury one dollar for each month school was taught therein.

Retailing without license was punished by a fine of $2, imposed by a township justice but the penalty was remitted by that officer on the affidavit of the culprit that he was without means to pay it. The history of the early groggery in Auburn if told would be a sad and harrowing one it its details of home wretchedness and the public record of this year is the assessment of a fine of $20 for unlawful sale of liquor which shows it was then as now under ban and sufferance.

The town board at their March session met at the office of Mr. Dickinson above located and John McCune having declined to serve as town assessor, Bradford G. Cosgrove was substituted and accepted.

The board had previously met at Nelson Payne’s store but now had no regular place and adjourned to meet as occasion offered. Payne resigned the office of trustee of the third ward and seems to have lost the confidence of the people. He had been spoken of as fastidious and cultivated, but went west. On his way on the Mississippi the boat caught fire and he lost what he had, and later was visited by parties he had known in Auburn and was found in farmer style at work in his fields. His was one of the first failures in Auburn and another business man, Mr. Freeman gradually lost ground and retired from business to make place for successors.

There were in business at this time, Stiefel & Wolf enterprising men, who had a large trade and rose to considerable prosperity in a few years; John Butt, Valentine Weaver and R. B. Catlin. J. D. Davis this year started what is yet known as the Pioneer Hardware store in a frame building which stood on the site of the present brick block owned and occupied by John L. Davis, and enterprising business man and private banker.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 27 Aug 1891)


Interest in municipal affairs ran low and at the May election, only twenty seven votes were cast. Twenty-four of these were cast for Jefferson Wallace, Alonzo Watkins, Stephen B. Ward, Wyllys Griswold Jonathan Leonard; and John P. Widney received 17 votes as trustee to fill Payne’s place.

Whedon W. Griswold was elected town treasurer. He was a colonel in the war of rebellion and in 1866 was elected county auditor by a majority of one vote over George Kuhlman, who ran for a second term.

The circus and managerie if a good combination always meet popular support and Forepaugh & Barnum have been Kings of the show. The first record of a circus in Auburn was in June 1852.

Of those well know to old residents of Auburn, who were active in public life in 1852, there are five yet living who are deserving of notice although all have left the field to the younger generation.

Prominent among these is Rev. S. B. Ward, who yet lives in Auburn; advanced in age, enfeebled by age, strong in intellect, he yet responds to the calls of fellow pioneers, speaking on various occasions and is most deservedly held high in public estimation. He has been spoken to by settlers as very hospitable in early days. To his friends and neighbors the latch-string was always out and to his table they were ever welcomed.

Elder Ward has passed life more in effort for the spiritual welfare of others than in making temporal provisions for himself and as a result is possessed of modest means. To his preserving labor, in enlisting helpers and supervision, is owning and the brick church belonging to the Baptist Society.

One daughter, the wife of Dr. Swarts, who owns and occupies both as a home and an office, the fine brick building on Main street near the center of the town, had been a successful teacher in the academic schools of Auburn, and is now a skilled and reliable physician with a large practice.

Another daughter, is Mrs. Mary Ehlers, widow of John Ehlers an officer of artillery during the civil war. Later a very capable druggist in the store now occupied by Messrs. Robbins & McCord. He died some years ago and Mrs. Ehlers an educated, talented woman devotes her life to charitable and christian labor at home and elsewhere.

John McCune served the county as recorder from 1851 to 1855 and then gave his time to cultivating an osiery on the land southwest of town limits where in his age and feebleness he still resides.

Boys and girls grown to maturity recollect with pleasure working for Mr. McCune stripping bark from millions which he made into baskets of various sizes for different uses. Later he invented a curious knitting machine which discounted the good housewives busy needles, and built up a stocking with marvelous celerify. He lost much of his property by going surety for a friend. His eyesight almost failed him years ago and in his regular attendance at the Methodist church is guided by his faithful wife.

James W. Case was a prominent citizen in Auburn in the days before the war. He came from western Pennsylvania, and taught school in Auburn and in adjoining townships. Later, he started a grocery in the old red brick which furnished the nucleus of the building which stands on the northwest corner of Main and Ninth streets and lived in a small frame attached to the west end.

In 1865, he was postmaster. The writer was for a year associated with him in a trade in groceries and dry goods and found him energetic and shrewd in business. Enlarging his field, he bought grain and seeds, put up in the building referred to and _____ on the highway to prosperity, but ultimately failed and in his declining years is a citizen of the national capital, living with his son and only child, James Allen Case.

The young man is an honor to Auburn and a model example for her ambitious youth. He began his education in the old academy by a quiet steady course of study. Later, he accompanied Miss Cornelia Strickland, his aunt a most worthy woman to Ann Arbor where he completed his High school and University courses with high honors and ultimately ______ his way to Washington, where in the preparation of valuable statistics of railways of the United States. Henry C. Adams, Statistician to the Interstate Commerce Commission thus speaks of him, "It is desired to renew the acknowledgement made in last years’ (1889) report, to Mr. James A. Case, assistant statistician, for the efficiency and intelligence with which he has conducted the office work and the office correspondence."

Not infrequently the Courier had been proud to call public attention to the honors reflecting upon Auburn and DeKalb county through the young people, who have sought a higher education after leaving our schools and ultimately became worthy occupants of honorable and responsible positions in and beyond the limits of our state and a list with occupations would be surprising in its extent and pleasant of perusal.

James Brinkerhoff was for some years a practicing lawyer of this county and also, a successful physician and took active interest in town affairs in 1852. He was a man of generous and sympathetic nature and it is said of him that in his practice of medicine, much of which was among those in straightened circumstances, he not only gave gratuitous treatment, but rendered material assistance as well and bid fair to take a leading part in the town, but becoming an invalid, he was forced to limit his practice, and later connected with it the prosecution of soldiers' claims from pensions. During the last year his estimable wife Olive Brinkerhoff died and the doctor still lives in the old home on South Main street, a home which to some extent typifies the life of its solitary occupant.

John P. Widney was clerk of DeKalb county in 1851. He is widely known as a prominent early settler on the banks of the St. Joe river, in Concord township. He came to DeKalb in May, 1836 and during the following winter the county was organized. In the summer of the 1837, two voting places were opened in the new county, one on the river and the other on Fish Creek. He has said in this connection. "The returns from the river poll I had the honor of taking to the county seat, as the double log cabin of Wesley Park, the only building in the place, so far as I could see, was called being guided on my way by a pocket compass and the dim marks of an Indian trail. There I met an elderly gentleman of I think the name of Boyer, who brought the returns from Fish Creek. We two formed the board of convassers. Mr. Boyer, a man of age and wisdom, I a youth of less than 21, but both profoundly ignorant of our duties. The vote of the county, somewhere about 30, was by ____ certified to the governor without as much as a thread of red tape."

Mr. Widney became prominent resident of Auburn about 1852, and as we have seen was elected town trustee. He lived many years in the older part of the present residence of D. D. Moody, clerk elect of the county and ex-representative to the state legislature.

During these more recent years Mr. Widney and wife have been citizens of Lakeside, a healthful and attractive Ohio town and occasionally visit his old home to see his children, revive old associations and visit with former neighbors.

He was a prudent business man and a skilful financier and combining with these qualities frugality, he became wealthy and in age enjoys in comfort the reward of early industry and self-denial.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 3 Sep 1891)


At an adjourned meeting of the Board of trustees of Auburn held April 30, ’53 at the store of S. B. Ward at which W. Griswold, J. Leonard and S. B. Ward, trustees were present and S. W. Dickinson town clerk, 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."

If any one is curious to know the language of the section then referred to, he will find it as follows: "Any town heretofore incorporated may, by a resolution of the board of trustees or other municipal board thereof, entered upon the record book of the corporation, 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 or acts amendatory thereto. A copy of such resolution shell be filed with the clerk of circuit court of the proper county and be entered by him on record.

Trustees or other officers of such incorporated town by whatever name designated, performing duties of like nature to those required of officers created by this act shall continue to be an officer of such town by the name as specified in this act until superseded by the annual election."

It seems by this that Auburn was a second time incorporated but to what intent or advantage does not appear.

At the general May, election, 1853, held at the court house, the assessor, treasurer and marshal, heretofore appointed by the board of trustees were chosen by popular vote. The whole number of ballots cast as 51. James W. Case received the full vote, having no opposition.

The other trustees chosen was Wyllys Griswold, George R. Baker, Ephraim Berry and James Brinkerhoff, S. W. Dickinson was elected clerk. W. B. Dancer, assessor, John McCune, treasurer and Isaac Brandt, marshal.

Mr. McCune found a competitor in John Ralston, who received 17 votes. Mr. Ralston was elected clerk of DeKalb county and served as such from 1859 to 1867 when he was succeeded by J. R. Lanning. He sold his property at the north end of Main street to Jacob Grogg the present owner and removed to one of the southern states to live. He is now at Waxahatchie, Texas.

It was deemed necessary to have a special marshal and A. O. Espy was appointed to and accepted the office.

We come now to a consideration of one of the two highly important features in the development of the community, which had their origin as regards Auburn during the years 1853.

The measure first in order, was the inauguration of our general and uniform system of common schools in Auburn and in DeKalb county under provisions of the act passed June 14, 1852

The school law of 1852 was in force in August of that year, at which date its provisions were circulated in pamphlet form in the different counties of the state by authority, but it did not become practically operative until the first Monday in April, 1853 when township trustees, who are also trustees for school purposes, were elected in the several townships of the counties.

The first duty of town and township trustees in this connection was to establish and conveniently locate a sufficient number of schools for the education of all the children within respective limits.

Heretofore shabby rooms had been hired and the character of the school house had been left to the enterprise of the settlers. We have seen a room of the court house used by Mr. Hendericks for school purposes and an idea of the school house of that day might have been gained by a look at the old building on the east side of the north end of Cedar street. This shabby frame long known as the home of old Samuel Moore, the wood sawyer, was a type of the school building in vogue in 1853. It was torn down in the spring of 1891 by the present owner, J.N. Grover, who will soon erect hereon a modern dwelling.

Here and there in DeKalb county, the people had put up houses and June 14, 1853, there was formed in Butler township at the farm house of Orrin C. Clark, and organization known as the "Union School House Education Society." Three trustees for the society were elected, namely. Henry Clark, Harris and Jacob Dabman, and it would be of interest to hear from Mr. Rodgers or Mr. Clark as to what they accomplished by their society.

It is stated on good authority that in some townships in counties of Indiana, there was not in 1851, a single school house of any kind to be found, and viewed by this light the term "Hoosier" was no misnomer for lack of scholarship.

It other townships, there were few old, leaky, dilapidated log cabins wholly unfit for use in summer and in winter worse than nothing.

Even at the best, where there were houses, the change from district to the township system rendered location in convenient and necessitated sales, removals and erection of new houses in place more convenient.

It was estimated that to secure even tolerable school accommodations would require the building of at least 3500 school houses in the state.

The then existing common school fund was solely intended for payment of teachers and hence all expense connected with building and repairs of school houses could be met by the levy of a special tax on the polls and property of the people.

By provisions of the new constitution, each township was made a municipal corporation of which every voter was a member. The state had provided a system of public instruction and now entrusted its execution to its cities, towns and townships.

No authority had been given to levy a special school tax without the consent of the voters to be given at a general or special meeting and this latitude in localities, defeated the ends sought; for while the many freely or reluctantly gave this consent, there were localities where no meetings were held and there were others where the vote was adverse.

The authorities, of Auburn were progressive men and most favorably inclined to the new law and at the proper time, ordered the clerk to post notices of an election for school trustees and for a vote on tax or no tax for school purpose in and for the said town.

On May 14, the polls were open and the apparent want of public interest in this important question is shown by the few votes cast.

At this time when the conservatives were allied with the opponents of free schools an the greatest difficulties were encountered, it is well to make honorable record of the names of Auburn townsmen who to the number of 25 voted at this meeting.

As 22 votes were for the tax, two opposed and one voted blank; we will leave it an open question as to who the last named were and give them the benefit of the uncertainty.

The voters were W. Griswold, G. W. Stahl, J. T. Bliss, T. R. Dickinson, W. W. Griswold, M. Waterman, J. Morris, T. J. Freeman, W. McDonalls, E. Berry, W. K. Straight, S. W. Dickinson, John Palmer, S. B. Ward, G. R. Baker, A. Hutchinson, A. Hall, J. Brinkerhoff, T. Finney, G. W. Teeters, J. McCune, J. P. Widney, S. Sanders, G. Brandt and J. Johnson.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 10 Sep 1891)

There were in 1853, 31 school houses in DeKalb county, nine of these, mostly of logs were in Concord township. The others were classified as "bad," "poor" and "very poor" and the language scarcely gives an idea. As late as 1876 but few, of the old log houses were standing and none were in use. They had had their day. Prof. Barns in a centennial article on education, published in the Waterloo Press, illustrates progress in school architecture as follows: "In one district in Butler township, may be seen within a few rods of one another, the three representative school houses of the county. On the east side of the Ft. Wayne wagon road, is the old log house, on the west side of the road is the old frame house and that succeeded it, and a few feet west of the latter stands the new brick school houses erected in 1875. This last is one of the finest district school buildings in the county, and together with its companions makes an interesting reminder of the three civilizations of a new country."

On July 19, notice was given for a school meeting to be held on August 9, at 4 p.m. for the purpose of voting on building a school house. Whether Auburn’s tax payers felt too poor or were indifferent, the effort proved a failure and no meeting was held.

The immediate need of the town was supplied by renting the log cabin of O. C. Houghton for three months for the sum of $2.00 and Messrs. Berry and Houghton were employed to fit up the building for school use.

The old frame in the north end was still considered serviceable. The furnishing of fuel for the schools was left to Mr. Berry, who contracted with Jonathan Hall for eight cords of wood at one dollar a cord.

At a special meeting held Nov. 29, it was decided to have two free schools in Auburn and the places were decided upon as above recited. Any deficit that might arise in payment of teachers’ salaries over and above the public funds apportioned per capita was to be paid from the proceeds of a tuition tax.

Teachers were very scarce. The wages did not pay and did not attract teachers from other states. Wages ran over the county from $6.00 to $60 a month. The average was $18 per month to male and $10 to female teachers.

The organization of every town and township into school districts greatly increased the demand for teachers. Few applicants for license could pass any examination. There were localities where no grade could be established and examination is remembered by the comparatively few well qualified teachers, as a farce.

W. C. Larrabee, State Superintendent of Public Instruction found here a serious difficulty. The law required him to appoint deputies in each county to examine applicants for license and those found qualified were granted license for one or two years, but no standard of qualification was made.

The knowledge requisite to teach was left to the examiner who exercised discretion in selecting the higher grades of applicants to teach in the more advanced schools leaving the more backward to do as best they could.

The legislature in 1853 amended this law and transferred the authority to appoint examiners to the county commissioners and at the same time erected a standard of qualification.

It was thought that should an examiner license only such as should pass in all branches, less than half of the schools would be supplied with teachers; hence examination in some branches was omitted.

The board of examiners of DeKalb county for 1853 was composed of E. W. Fosdick, S. W. Dickinson and L. D. Britton. These gentlemen were themselves fully qualified to judge the merits of applicants for license and Messrs. Fosdick and Britton were strong and able supporters of public measures for the perfection of the school system in senate and assembly to which they were respectively sent by franchise of the people.

Mr. Britton died a year or so since on his farm in Richland township, a well-to-do, honored and esteemed citizen of this county.

Mr. Fosdick resides in Butler and has the confidence and unbounded respect of his townsmen.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 17 Sep 1891)


The number of persons licensed as teachers during the year by the board above names, each acting independent of the others were 22, 40 and 7, or a total of 69.

Under the head of suggestion and remarks of examiners in the second annual report of the superintendent of public instruction, Mr. Fosdick said: "I think the law for examination of teachers should be so amended as to provide for a county board or else let the townships each have an examiner. The present system is almost equivalent to no examination at all."

Mr. Dickinson wrote: "I have been obliged to grant certificates to many for various periods of time or else a number of our schools would have to be without teachers; but acting under your instruction to me while at Auburn, I have done as I have. If I have erred it is of the head and not of the heart."

There were no normal schools. What were known as teachers’ institute had been organized in some counties. Prof. Rufus Patch, examiner in Lagrange Co., and principal of Lagrange Collegiate Institute dating from 1844 or four years after date of charter, had regularly sustained teachers’ institutes since 1847 and wished them made a part of the school system.

These institutes are a feature of education. They were generally held at the county seat. They were attended so far as possible by the state superintendent.

In 1867, an institute was held in what was the Presbyterian church at Auburn, the attendance was less than fifty and Prof. Patch was principal instructor.

It was under the circumstances thus briefly considered that compliance with conditions of the school law was had and John Dancer was employed to teach in district No.1, which was known as the south school in Auburn and Miss Abigail Wolsey was hired to teach in district No. 2, or the north school.

The former was to received $60, for teaching 66 days or three months, thus teaching every other Saturday and the latter was to receive $48 for the same period, each boarding him or her self.

The enumeration of children of school age was taken by J. W. Case and the number was 160.

Patrons were given a choice of schools to which they wished to send and the schools were ordered to commence on Wednesday Dec. 7.

The second notable feature of progress of Auburn and DeKalb county had reference to the beginning of newspaper enterprise therein.

Heretofore as we have related legal printing, notable lists of land delinquent on taxes, had been done in neighboring counties.

During the early part of August 1850, S. E. Alford and H. King established the Albion Observer at Albion, Noble county. To this paper was accorded the greater part of what patronage this county had to give and so favorable an impression was made on the owner of the press that, in the spring of 1852, he contemplated its removal to Auburn and pursuant to that end, he issued a prospectus for a newspaper at that town, to be styled the "Auburn Observer."

The removal was not then made owing to a lack of encouragement sufficient to warrant the change but in the spring of 1853, the establishment was sold to Messrs. Berry and Pierce who removed the outfit to Auburn, and as a forerunner of the press yet to be, began the publication of the first newspaper printed in DeKalb county under the name of The Democratic Messenger. The first number was issued on June 16th.

The proprietors had the decided advantage of personal practical knowledge of printing but their material from long use had become so worn that the typographical appearance of their paper was very imperfect, although the publisher were favored with official and popular patronage to an extent equal to their expectation and their sheet was received with general favor. The time had not come when the newspaper was a paying investment and the Messenger had a precarious and short-lived existence.

During its continuance however it proved a great convenience to the people of town and county and the records of both note the presentation and allowance of bills for advertising.

The bill of Berry & Pierce for printing for Auburn was presented Oct. 4, 1853 and was promptly passed and county printing was promised, but Mr. Berry was satisfied with less than a year’s experience, sold his interest to Mr. Pierce and soon after left the town. His stay was so brief that old settlers have but a transient remembrance of him. Milton Pierce, now sole proprietor continued the publication during the years 1854 and 1855. The delinquent list of the county gave him about $115 a year and the printing of assessment forms added $50 more.

The office and contents were totally destroyed by fire during a night in January 1856 and the Democratic Messenger was not.

Mr. Pierce took an active part in the politics of the day, received the nomination for county auditor from the democratic party, in 1855 and was elected. In 1859, A. J. Hunt was his competitor, the vote was a tie.

Pierce got the office and served from 1855 to 1860. He is a present resident of West Milton, Ohio, where besides conducting his business of prosecuting claims against the government, he is writing for several different publication.

In his possession are probably, save an occasional paper, the only copies of the Democratic Messenger in existence. His own file was destroyed in the fire, but years later when Isaac Brandt sold his household goods preparatory to going west, a file of the pages was bid off by W. C. McGonigal, then editor of the DeKalb County Democrat, for $3, and presented to Mr. Pierce. The file is in good order and items of historical interest relative to Auburn in the years of its issue are thus preserved.

The office of the Messenger was in the south room third story of the Park & Ralston building which stood on the present site of the Davenport and Ralston buildings.

There W. T. Kimsey, Chas. K. Baxter and J. C. Loveland acquired their first knowledge of the profession and each afterwards became connected with the press of the county.

Mr. Kimsey published the DeKalb County Times at Auburn in 1858 and started the Butler Herald, the pioneer paper in our sister town, in 1866. It very creditably reflected the business interests of the place for a year, when the proprietor removed his press to Ligonier an started another paper.

Mr. Baxter was a veteran soldier of the civil war and served with honor in the ranks of the 19th Indiana of the famous Iron Brigade of the army of the Potomae. Associated with J. F. Radcliff, then with B. F. Kennedy, then alone, he was publisher of the Waterloo Press and under his able supervision the paper took a leading place in the press of the northern part of our state.

He had the unusual ability of condensing into a brief paragraph strong points, congent and expressive and when he deemed necessary, cuttingly sarcastic to opponents. He sold the Press some years since and went west to Kansas where we believe he is engaged in farming.

Mr. Loveland was in 1859 engaged as foreman in the office of the Press Republican conducted by his cousin E. P. Loveland when called to Auburn to conduct the New Era. In 1865, he removed the office to Clyde, Ohio, where he started in Clyde Times. His latest venture was the Headlight published first at Garrett and finally at Corunna, where he died.

The Fulton County Tribune thus truthfully speaks of Mr. Loveland, "Jo. Stuck type in Wauseon in 1858, again in 1859 for a time. He saw the world as a tramping jour and editor, and experienced the ups and downs, as often as any member of the art preservative.

Mr. Loveland was the first apprentice boy, the first and only carrier boy of the Messenger and for whom the first and only carrier’s address was ever written and published here. J. P. Widney, at the time county auditor prepared the manuscript which contained nearly one hundred lines of spicily written doggerel, in which everybody and everything in the village came in for an honorable mention.

Mr. Loveland thus wrote of the past, "The advent of the printing press in Auburn proved a six months’ wonder, as many of the natives had never seen a press, and the amount of type daily dismantled by curios people during the first year of publication kept one man busy.

We recollect that Mr. Berry, the senior proprietor was an intense hater of the Free Soilers, and it was a terrible day for us when that crowd met in convention to deliberate for "the old man" was pretty sure to make it lively for the "devil." This seemed inconsistent for previous to coming to DeKalb, he had been an abolitionist himself."

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 24 Sep 1891)


"The delinquent list then was the principal sonroe? Of the county press, as the county being comparatively new. The farmers poor and money scarce the taxes were allowed to run over.

Hence the hands of the office had to wait for the annual visitation of this golden calf for a final cash settlement. Of this revenue, the Messenger controlled quite a field; there being no paper in Steuben, the list of that county was printed in the Messenger office and circulated in handbill form.

Country printing in those days rather primitive in the matter of outfits, and the material used for such work was necessarily crude and bungling. Wooden reglets were used in lieu of metal quadrats, and home-make at that, and the labor of setting up the list occupied about three days. And after it was completed it required a correct eye to run a line across the page to trace out a delinquent description."

On a star-lit wintry night early in January 1856, Joe Loveland stood by and saw the building which contained the office go down in the midst of the greatest conflagration that ever visited Auburn, and its career was ended.

The action of the town authorities in passing ordinances during 1853, indicates an earnest desire for Auburn’s good.

Messrs. Griswold, Baker and Brinkerhoff were a committee appointed to draw up an ordinance to suppress tippling and firing within town limits.

A provision of the former was to the effect that any person arrested for intoxication could escape punishment by informing upon the person who gave or sold him the liquor. This was certain to prove nugatory since a curious sense of honor has proved a protection to saloon keepers to the present time.

The marshal was to receive $2 for a conviction and was liable to a fine of $2, if he neglected his duty.

An old resident tells us that the people of Auburn were law abiding and peaceable. Sunday was a quiet day. Many went to church; others remained at home to rest for they were working people. He thinks that in morals and Sabbath observance, there has been no progress compares with the increase of population and school and church conveniences.

The movement to arrest disorderly persons was caused by the conduct of a party of strong, wild young men who came of a Saturday or a rainy day to town to drink at the groggery till they were ready and anxious to provoke fight on light occasion. Sheriff Straight was large, plucky and powerful, and commanded their respect; but there were times when the persuasive eloquence of the Judge Morris was needed to keep peace.

During this year, sidewalks were established at a width of ten feet and the planting of shade trees was authorized within the ten feet. Judging from the appearance of the town in 1865, the property owners general acted upon their authority giving Auburn its beautiful foliage of the present.

When the old settlers’ meeting was being held in 1885 in the grounds of widow Houghton, old James McCrum, of Richland, now dead, standing on the walk looked across the street to the row of tall locusts which stood along the north of the present McIntosh property and said, "I carried in my hand and planted the sprouts from which have grown those trees."

Houses have been moved from central locations to less valuable lots, repainted and bear the suggestion of newness; but the trees still stand where hands now moldering into dust, had planted them, doing their part to beautify and adorn the town.

The platting of Garrett resulted in the organization of Keyser township formed from the two north rows of sections of Butler and the two south rows of Richland, giving each of the three township twenty-four sections.

Then recently, Union township has been divided and the northern portion including the town of Waterloo had been organized as Grant Township.

It is known probably to few that at the September session of the board of county commissioners in 1853, that a petition was granted that diminished Franklin township by her east tier of sections and annexed them to Troy as part of that civil township; these sections were however re-attached to Franklin during the March term of 1855. It is not likely that further territorial changes will be made in townships.

In treating of this year we have alluded to W. K. Straight, who was a conspicuous figure in Auburn and DeKalb county about this time. Many of the old settlers remember incidents in his career that are worth preserving. He was elected county sheriff in 1850 getting 583 votes to 383 for his opponent Joseph Miller. He was re-elected without opposition in 1852, receiving 708 votes out of a total of 1050. He is described as a man of remarkable size, strength and courage, his mere presence and personal appearance being often sufficient to cowe the desperate men he sometimes had to handle. J. H. Madden, now with the Smith & Madden marble works here, had a good knowledge of him at one time. And tells a number of anecdotes. At one time when court was in session, it adjourned about four o’clock in the afternoon and Straight being a great hunter, at once took down his gun and started out into the woods that then covered the creek bottom close by. By dark, he got home with a nice deer, but was told a prisoner had escaped from the old log jail. He at once saddled a horse and without waiting for supper started off for the place of "Old Sile Doty," a noted character of those days. It was about eleven o’clock when he reached his destination and he pushed into the room without warning, and found eight men present, his prisoner being one of them. All arose at once and showed fight. Straight coolly, but firmly told them he would not molest anyone but the man he came after and that one, he proposed to take. A brief talk convinced the men, that Straight was not to be trifled with. He took his man and brought him back, though he looked to see the other fellows dodge out from behind trees on the dark road to stop him.

At another time a horse thief was escaping going through Steuben and Lagrange counties, and Straight followed so close on his track that the fellow left his horse and plunged into a swamp. Straight followed, and finally tired the man out. When found, he was lying in the thick brush, and could easily have killed the sheriff, who had passed within a few feet.

On another occasion he wanted a man over in Ohio, not far from Hicksville and on going over there, called on A. P. Edgerton and said, "I want a man who is hiding near here." "Well" said Edgerton, "go and take him then," "But," said Straight, "this is in Ohio." To which Edgerton rejoined: "never mind the state line, just bend it east till it gets beyond the man you want, then take him and after you are gone, I’ll hand the line back again for you." Straight got his man. We believe he is still alive, in Iowa, though about eighty years old.

(To be continued next week)



Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 1 Oct 1891)


It is an old and familiar saying that the poor we always have with us, but in 1854 the proverb was strictly true, for paupers were kept by parties in the township and recompensed under certificate of the trustees.

At the March session of the commissioners various allowances were made for boarding poor persons and thus far, the expense of their keeping had been light and no steps had been taken to buy ground and build an asylum.

Life at a county asylum among the idiotic, foolish, senile and helpless is unpleasant and pessimistic at the best, but humanitarians have done what they could to better the condition of society’s unfortunates, and in comparison with other counties, the poor farm of DeKalb county, superintended by C. P. Glazier, ranks among the better class, although restricted for room, and far from secure against fire.

According to the records, it seems that public arms to which the county was entitled, had been procured at a cost in freight of about fourteen dollars, and later Isaac Brandt had been appointed agent for their care and safe keeping. It would be of interest to know what became of those arms, whether brought into use for drill of militia or serving a more practical use, as arms of the home-guard during the civil war.

At this time the flint lock had given way to the muzzle loader and percussion cap, just as these have been superseded by the metallic cartridge breech-loader of to-day.

The board of equalization at the June session was composed, beside the county commissioners, of the assessors of the townships an this large number contained the familiar names of George Ensley, John G. Dancer, John N. Miller, Charles R. Wanamaker, Wm. Mathews, Daniel Altenburg, W. N. Whetzel, Henry Ernest, Hiram Freeman, Andrew Baxter and A. Stearns.

The report of the county auditor, now a brief comprehensive paper, was grown voluminous in detail and was classified under seven heads.

Receipts exceeded $20,000 and expenditures were in excess of this some $1300. Comparison of prices paid for similar service to-day do not indicate extravagance, and the cost of taking an insane person to the lunatic asylum was but $7.50, where of later years it was upwards of $40.

Meanwhile Auburn was keeping the ever tenor of her humble way. S. B. Ward had become principal owner of a steam sawmill built by a stock company some time previously. This mill stood on ground eastward of the present woolen mill in the northern part of town. Woodbury and Watkins build this mill and on Sept. 9, 1853 sold 3/8 interest to W. and H. C. Griswold for $1000. Later A. O. Parsons and J. W. Case were interested parties and Ward purchased a part of their interest. In 1856, the mill burned and John McKay, now of South Dakota, has reason to remember the fact since he was an employe of Mr. Ward, slept at the mill and came perilously near being burned with it.

As indicative of log values of black walnut, poplar and white oak at that time, it may be said that Mr. Ward offered to pay for a log 12 feet 4 inches long and 2 feet through at the top end, this being his standard, $1.30 for black walnut, $1.25 for poplar and $1, for oak. Walnut commanded cash, the others half cash, half goods.

On inquiry, the price for such a log of walnut to-day would be $15, and for poplar and white oak, each $6.

Although no fair was held in DeKalb county this year nor previously, an agricultural society had been formed by leading and enterprising men and the annual meeting was held on Jan. 2, 1855 at the court house at the request of J. P. Widney, secretary. It is probable that at this meeting arrangements were perfected, looking to hold a fair.

The Jeweler of Auburn in the spring of 1854 was Robert Reyer, who had a supply of clocks, watches, jewelry and notions for sale, and in this connection, repairing on the same line, but none to-day possibly recollect his sojourn in our town.

Wesley Park for nearly twenty years had been the accredited land agent of DeKalb county and to this now extensive and lucrative business, which included town as well as farm property, he had added the paying of taxes to some extent, probably for non-resident speculative holders.

It is presumed that at his busiest times, he never dreamed of the coming in after years of a firm like that of Messrs. Rickel & Sprott with their hundreds of bargains in real estate offered to wise and safe investors for profit and for homes.

The lawyers of Auburn in 1854 were John Morris, rich in years of experience, well and favorably known and to be found in his office on the south side of the public square. T. R. Dickinson, who residing on the corner of Main and Eleventh streets had the postoffice an combined practice of law with the handling of the small amounts of mail matter which three times a week arrived from Coldwater, Michigan, Defiance, Ohio and Perry and Flint, Indiana, the three routes existing.

Mr. Dickinson found it necessary to instruct the patrons of his office that "positively letters for the north and Flint mails must be in the office the night before departure and the Defiance and south mails one half hour before departure to insure their departure by that mail."

The postoffice has grown with Auburn and G. W. Gordon, now postmaster has the salary of $1,700 a year and he earns it in caring for the heavy business which centers in this place.

By way of contrast and information, Mr. Gordon presents at our solicitation the following statistics of his office: Call boxes 608; lock boxes and drawers, 213; general deliver and miscellaneous boxed, 288; total, 1109.

No. of mails dispatched and received daily are 10, and one Star route is received and dispatched twice per week.

The average number of pieces of mail dispatched and received per week with weight of same follows: No. pieces dispatched all classes, 6775, weight 725 lbs. No. of pieces received and delivered per week, 7850, weight 650 lbs. Total pieces handled per week 14625; weight 1375 lbs. The average income of the office per quarter is $1257.50. G. W. Gordon, P. M.. E. B. Mott and J. B Brinkerhoff were attorneys and counselors at law and had their offices, the former with J. E. Hendricks, county treasurer, the later with M. Waterman, still county auditor.

Among the physicians and surgeons of the time were J. Shirler, T. B. Kimsey and J. N. Chamberlain.

Dr. Kimsey had his office with Wesley Park and Dr. Chamberlain in S. W. Ralston store. The last named for many years and at present a citizen of Waterloo had grown old in the practice of his profession. He deserved and commands the confidence of the sick and disabled and the respect of the people of this part of our state.

The traveling community found a home like entertainment with S. D. Long at the Auburn house then, recently refitted and enlarged, and J. Patrick & Son had leased the Baldock house for a term of years and were accommodating permanent as well as transient boarders with such conveniences as made their sojourn pleasant.

The Baldock House is the building now know as the Auburn House, kept by John R. Moody on the southeast corner of Main and Fifth streets.

The Auburn House to which we refer stood on the northeast corner of Main and Sixth streets, where stands the brick residence and office of Dr. Swarts. The building was moved to the northwest corner of Sixth and Cedar streets, where it now stands and is occupied as a private residence.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 8 Oct 1891)


Early time has its popular medicine upon which the fortunate proprietor has grown wealthy. The public is familiar with Townsend’s Saraparilla, Helmbold’s extract of Buchu and Warners’ Safe Kidney Cure and the curative properties of Black Draught and Wine of Cardui are being conspicuously advertised in the COURIER, but in 1854 Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry and Dr. Guysott’s improved extract of yellow dock and sarasparilla were medicinal preparations in general demand and were for sale by S. W. Ralston, of Auburn, N. L. Thomas, of Newville, John Butt, of Fairfield, L. Griffith, of Uniontown, and Norris & Smith, of Norristown, now Butler, to the people of DeKalb county.

It is not unlikely that many of the early settlers still have faith in those same remedies and it is certain that where recourse to medicine became necessary, those old time preparations rarely failed to give relief.

W. Weaver’s was headquarters for drugs sold wholesale and retail; extracts of burdock, dandelion, boneset and many another were on his shelves and among prices charged for this groceries which readers may compare with those of our present popular grocers, were good sugar 16 lbs. for $1, best coffee at 14 cents a pound, molasses 37 cents a gallon and tobacco form 10 to 75cts a pound.

Wesley Park, Stiefel & Wolf, Baker & Co. and S. W. Ralston were carrying on dry good stores. Lewis Bowers ran a grocery and provision store, Babcock & Ford, successors to Espy and Bro., carried on a saddle and harness manufactory, and J. and R. Ettinger and Grove & Stuart dealt in furniture, J. W. Rickel was proprietor of a boot and shoe store and Isaac Brandt of a railroad boot an shoe store. With all these professional and business men who were known to the people in 1854, time has been busy, and how many others have succeeded them, many to fail, very few to prosper. The lesson teaches seriously the fickle fortune of mercantile adventure and the brevity of career of the most conservative.

Turning from the store and the office we find activity in the proceedings of the town board and progress in the line of educational interest.

S. W. Dickinson resigned the office of town clerk in the spring of 1854, and later Dancer gave up his position as assessor and O. C. Houghton having given bond in the sum of $100, in each case, was appointed to hold both offices.

The record show that his oath of office to "faithfully discharge the duties of clerk to the best of his ability" was conscientiously observed and public approval was attested when at the general May election, he was chosen to continue in the offices to which he had been appointed.

There was paid for repairs and for rent for the Houghton building about $50 and it was hired for the next year for school use for $24.00.

On April 17, the spring term of school began and continued thirteen weeks, five days to the week or sixty-five days. George R. Baker, committeeman appointed for the purpose, engaged Abigail Wilson to teach in No.1 and Mary H. Burr, in No. 2. The compensation of each was $48 for the term.

The March dividend of school fund amounting to $128 was paid to S. B. Ward, treasurer.

The present town board in the line of economy have fixed their compensation at $2 a session and their meetings are said to be protracted till late hours, but in contrast to previous salaries of $80, and $70, for recent years, that of the trustees in 1854 were nominal. Trustees Case and Baker received $5 each and Brinkerhoff but $1, while the clerk was allowed $21.39 and the treasurer but $2.

Town election was no basis to estimate population since but 46 votes were cast electing Trustees Case, I. Brandt, Waterman, Barry and Spangler and for treasurer John Ralston, for assessor A. O. Espy.

By request of the board Messrs. Case and Waterman prepared a new ordinance respecting drunken and disorderly persons. This ordinance was published in the Democratic Messenger and the law of 1853 was repealed.

The authorities were authorized by the county commissioners to use the county jail as town calaboose and the marshal was made collector of corporation taxes with 15 per cent commission on collections.

The school levy was placed at 40cts on $100, and it was decided that a three month winter term of school should be taught and that three schools should be carried on by as many teachers.

Mrs. Ring, who had been conducting a select school in the room used for this purpose in the court house, sold her outfit consisting of a stove, pipe, triangle, large and small blackboard, one short and three long desks, to the town for $20, and this additional school was to be known as No. 3.

James W. Case and Isaac Brandt, the committee appointed to hire teachers, employed James Colgrove at $33 per month to teach in the court house, Mrs. F. E. Ring at $18 in No. 2 and Miss E. P. Ketchum at $16 in No. 1 and they to board themselves.

Schools began Dec. 4th. The state by a committee had at great pains selected text books which they hoped to have adopted by all the schools for the great objects of securing uniformity and saving money to parents. In this respect we find history repeating itself in the legislative enactment that competitive bids be made by publishers of text books for the supply of our schools.

Great sums of money had been taken from the pockets of people from 1854 till 1889 by firms which had obtained a monopoly in furnishing school books at far too high prices every weapon they could wield was employed to prevent the success of the state but in vain, and a saving of a vast sum has been effected.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 15 Oct 1891)


The text books which took the place of the miscellaneous books hitherto in use as adopted by the board were McGuffy’s Readers, Ray’s Arithmetic, Bullion’s Grammar, Mitchell’s Geography, Davis’ Geometry and Algebra, Olmsted’s Philosophy and Webster’s Elementary Spelling book.

Teachers we supplied with copies of these books by trustees, for personal use and in consequence when a class was called no pupil was called upon to lend his book to the teacher while he "looked over" with the one next him.

In default of other supervision, Messrs. Brandt and Waterman were ordered to visit the schools and give liberty to take such action as their condition should demand. These gentlemen reported the schools in as good state as was practicable under existing disadvantages.

From the time Auburn was platted till the present, lot owners have been uncertain of their boundaries and there have been surveys and re-surveys, establishing grades only to later invalidate them; but system seems to control at last and uniformity has come with permanence.

During the summer of 1854, a survey being deemed imperative, due notice was given in the Messenger of an intended survey and re-location of the streets of the town.

Wyllys Griswold was authorized to employ Joseph Nodine, county surveyor, to do the work. The surveyor assisted by Houghton and Thompson, chain bearers, Griswold rodman and E. Berry as axman accomplished the task in four days for which his bill was $10.50.

The distance across the town plot east and west was eighty-four rods; and north and south, two hundred and thirty-six rods giving an area of something less than one hundred twenty-four acres.

Limited in area, Auburn was yet a backwoods town. Development of the county was still in a primitive stage and the lands largely partook of forest characteristics. Magnificent timber covered thousands of acres and other thousands were swamp lands then incapable of cultivation, covered by the tamarack and the haunt of an occasional wolf.

J. M. Goetchius killed wolf in the spring of 1854 and the scalp brought him $5. Emanuel Surface at the same time presented for bounty before the county commissioners what "purported to be the scalp of a wolf," took oath that it was the scalp of a wolf and although the board seemed staggered in opinion, after due consideration of the premises, ordered the bounty paid.

At this session Dr. O. J. Vincent presented a bill of $20.00 for holding a post mortem examination of a person found dead, and the board as reasonable payment allowed but $8.00, an so established a precedent in cutting exorbitant medical bills.

During this year of 1854, the crops in portions of the county had been nearly cut off; disease had prevailed to a greater extent than usual, and the sacrifices of life through casualties were remarkable. But while these conditions existed there was at the same time activity in public improvement which stamps the year conspicuous for works of great moment and inaugurated the era of the railroad and the decline of the canal.

Railroad building became a mania and the town or city which had no road building or contemplated was behind the age.

The organization of the Auburn & Eel River Valley railroad company was a movement that promised much for Auburn and DeKalb county.

This company organized May 11th, 1852, but accomplished nothing of moment until the year following when on Aug. 3, the corporate name was changed to the Logansport & Northern Indiana railroad company. William L. Brown was secretary of the board of directors and we have been informed that William Hubbell, Robert Work and Wesley Park were prominently identified with the company in DeKalb county. Survey was made of the proposed road, right of way was secured and contract let for grading.

Messrs. J. B. Hoover and H. S. Moneysmith contracted to grade between Auburn and Butler, and had good reason to regret having anything to do with it.

Much work was done; the grade had nearly been completed at various points on the line; much money had been spent when the corporation unfortunately became bankrupt and the work was suspended and suffered to remain untouched for many years.

What might have been, had this the first road contemplated through Auburn, been then built it is impossible to conjecture; but that the men who composed the company were wise in selection of the route is amply confirmed by the immense travel and traffic over the completed road.

Although the people of Auburn were much disappointed at the suspension of work on the railroad and were thus deprived of that stimulus which gave origin and healthy growth to Norristown and Waterloo, it does not appear that they lost faith is the towns nor that the town itself lost prestige.

The boomer was the product of a later period and while an expected importance had not been gained there was not collapse of speculative values.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 22 Oct 1891)


If spiritualism were true; if the departed which visit us only in dreams were permitted to look again upon the scenes where their lives had been passed, and if they as spirits were essentially the same as when corporeal, they would marvel at and admire human enterprise, find some things to vex and much to enjoy.

They would see their errors repeated and their efforts at progression imitated and they would have deep interest in the fortune of Auburn and the welfare of its citizens—their descendants and friends.

However it may be, it is difficult to idealize the town and its leading inhabitants in 1855 without a conscious feeling somehow called up, that faces and forms once, and long familiar at the homes, on the streets in the offices and stores and at the court house or in the churches and lodges, come like shadows, so depart leaving a sense of actual visitation.

We are still writing of a town and its people which in most respects has long since ceased to exist and which has become historical.

Old Auburn, dull village of the woods, has little in common with the new Auburn of 1891.

Circumscribed in area, small in population, difficult of access for considerable portions of each year by reason of bad roads, the county seat seemed to have but one substantial advantage, it was the seat of justice and the goal of the tax payer. It was proud of its one home printed struggling little newspaper with its peculiar motto, "A strict construction of the constitution." Its business interests were creditable to its size and opportunities and its religious holdings indicated good intentions by the few, hampered by lack of means and nullified by failure of leaders to rightly interpret the dispositions and feelings of the people.

The sun of prosperity did not shine on the churches and brief reference indicates a decadence. The Methodist out-lying classes had dissolved or run down, while a very few of the members came again to Auburn where the "standbys" held steadily on without variation or loss.

There were no revivals, no conversions, some who connected themselves with the church, fell away, even the taxes on the property were allowed, from poverty in part and from indifference, to become delinquent, and it was later recovered through Wesley Park who on two several occasions purchased at tax sale. In the language of an aged staunch member of the church "everything seemed to go against us that year" and the minister in charge, satisfactory in the pulpit, was powerless to stem the tide.

Nor were the affairs of the Presbyterian society in better plight. Trouble had arisen, dissension existed and a change was inevitable and desirable.

Auburn was "in the depths" and it was not surprising that a part of her residents removed elsewhere an it is to the lasting credit of those who remained that they so staunchly stood by and joined their fortune with that of the town.

The annals of the county seat reveal various mutations some discouraging others inspiring hope, and upon such foundations established by the families of whom we write, rest our present thriving, progressive and beautiful town.

It is a noticeable fact that the offices were held successive terms by few men and although the records show that the best interests of the place have not always been in worthy hands, still the people could always be depended upon to quietly depose from position such as appeared derelict in performance of duty.

In 1855, the town board was composed of worthy and representative men and their acts on important occasion impress the pristine sterling truth that "public office is a public trust." And private gain a remote and secondary consideration.

During the spring at a meeting of the full board composed of Messrs. Waterman, Case, Brandt, Berry and Spangler, it was decided that if at any time, the marshall elected should become disqualified to serve, then any justice in the town was empowered to appoint his successor.

The corporation tax collected on the county duplicate was but $140.46 and the special school tax was only $119.49. These sums now regarded insignificant, small as they were still were burdensome to those who had but little yet they were enough on settlement with the town treasurer to produce a balance in favor of the municipal fund of $91.93 ½ while the school fund was found to be over paid $34.36 ½.

There were outstanding, municipal orders amounting to $23.95 and of school orders $158.92. Later the school revenue levy was fixed at 60cts on each $100 valuation calculated by county auditor, there were $14, delinquent municipal tax collected and $162.18 of special school which sufficed to clear both funds of debt.

In consequence of the failure of the publisher of the Messenger to give legal notice of the general election, no election was held and the officers of the town continued to serve for another year, so saving expense and fully as satisfactory to the people.

The sum of $75 was appropriated to construct a ditch along the boundary line of the west side of town.

There was not tiling as now and the deep wide drain through which the water was drawn from marshy lands required three crossings which were built, two in the first ward, the third on the south side of 7th street to accommodate travel from Jackson to 8th streets. The necessity for drainage was urgent for public utility and on sanitary grounds, but the work was gradual, slow and ineffective and is yet incomplete in newer parts of the town.

It would be difficult to realize the condition of numerous town lots at this time, they were mere swamp holes grown to rank vegetation, colonized by frogs and exuding from their stagnant surface miasmatic vapors which gave rise to chills and fever. They gave no promise of that time coming when men like Nedry and Blodget would drain and fill them and build their homes upon the sites so reclaimed.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 29 Oct 1891)


J. C. Somers, now of Pueblo. Colorado, found on occasion of his recent visit here such changes as we indicate when eastward via the 9th street bridge, he saw the addition prematurely laid out and bearing his name, once again and permanently platted as the "Natural Gas Addition" and rapidly filling with comfortable dwellings.

John Somers who had been transferred to Auburn for school purposes by 1855, had then enough of town taxed privileges and was re-transferred to Union township. Again history repeated itself a few years ago when quite a number of farmers living in the towns’ vicinity found it too costly a luxury to be enumerated in Auburn and like Lewis Spangler and Peter Shaffer were glad to return to more economic township rule.

The schools now closed and the teachers were paid their salaries. E. P. Ketchem received $48, Mrs. F. E. Ring $54 and James Colgrove $83.28 which is explained by the fact that Mr. Colgrove being offered a situation as engineer on the proposed Air Line railroad, was released from his school engagement and accepted the position on the road. He later surveyed the lands which now constitute the original plot of the town of Waterloo, or as it was at the time called, "Waterloo City." We believe he platted the town site for Miles Waterman the projector of the enterprise but that some question having arisen respecting the deed of right of way and depot site, Mr. Waterman sold out to Crane, Jarvis and Frothingham, by whom the town was founded.

The name of John D. Burr appears in an allowance for sawing wood for the schools and to those who knew him later, spruce, genteel, well-bred, the fact appears to his credit. Burr was in 1866 clerking for the dry good and grocery, firm of Case & McIntosh and the next year was employed by L. J. Blair in the county treasurer’s office as his deputy.

It was not for a number of years that the private or select schools finally gave way entirely for the free schools and even yet the normal summer terms of Messrs. Harrison and Coe continue in sort the system for the advantage of intending teachers, ambitions country young men and women and to enable some backward in their classes to come into place.

At that time, S. D. Long and others were granted permission to occupy the existing school rooms till needed for public school use.

The necessity for better school accommodations had now become pressing and the entire attention of the town board was centered in obtaining a site for a school house and in preparations to build thereon. On Sept.20th, Messrs. Berry, Spangler and Long were delegated the duty of selecting such site and of preparing plats and estimate of probable cost. This committee made choice of lots No. 56 and 56? Centrally situated in the western addition and paid for them $150. These lots still owned by the town have steadily enhanced in value from their location and character, being high and in a desirable residence locality. They are not likely to be available for public purposes and they would furnish ground for two fine residences if sold, thus realizing funds the town needs for improvements and building up the locality.

Some years since, trees were planted on the lots and a pretense of a park suggested, but the space is too restricted to answer the demands of the Auburn of the future and the coming city will not be content with a two-lot park.

Miles Waterman, as well as many succeeding county officers temporarily or permanently residing at the county seat, largely identified and interested himself in measures for the welfare of the town.

As agent of the town board he attended to the purchase of the school grounds and, also, made sale of the towns school lot No. 16, to Joseph Stiefel and Aaron Wolf for $200. $100 cash, and $100 April 1, 1856.

The site obtained, the Board, to indicate good faith with expected contractors for building, at a meeting held on Dec. 18: "Resolved, that all school funds that may come into the treasury of the town be appropriated to defray the expense of building a school house and the town is hereby pledged to refund so much of the same as __ public fund as soon as the building is far enough complete to accommodate schools."

To correspond with the plan adopted, Messrs. Barney and Houghton drafted a bill of specifications and particulars of the proposed building, which plan included the frame, its enclosure and painting same.

Sealed proposals were invited till Jan. 1, 1856 by publication in the Democratic Messenger.

Seeing the old parsonage of Presbyterian Society on the street in its travels to the McIntyre Addition there to stand on some good lot, the home of a family for years to come and noting the ex-Methodist church building secularized and doing excellent service for its business owners in its retiring place on Ninth and Cedar streets, recalls the town and times of which we are writing.

The Methodist society stood in need of a parsonage and as early as March, the trustees of the church, Messrs. Park, Johnston, Kline, McCune and Altenburg were empowered to procure a lot and thereon to be caused to be built a parsonage for the use of the preacher of the Ft. Wayne District, Northern Indiana Conference.

Attention has been called in the annals of other years to the free ranging of stock in village street, on country road, upon vacant lots and uninclosed lands.

Brand or ear marks distinguished ownership of cattle, horse and swine and it was a familiar sight along the highways to come upon the livestock of the farmers in herd or drove felicitously grazing by the road side.

In 1855, stock were commoners at law by order of the county commissioners who authorized stock to be allowed to run at large upon uninclosed lands or public common within the bounds of the several townships and in town and county, it was a gradual process, contested at every step by which the streets and roads were cleared for purposes of travel and the not always, poor mane’s lease of pasturage was closed.

This year marked the inauguration of the township library of which much was hopefully expected and which has had its day. The ephemeral issues of the press came and went but the township library came to stay.

The funds to buy books were raised by a tax of ¼ of a mill on property and 25c on the poll and distribution of books was based on the number of children of school age in each township. The expense of distribution was lessened and promptness secured by shipments direct to county auditors. On May 22, M. Waterman made distribution of six of these township school libraries to as many townships and in time all were supplied. Their reception awakened a new interest and imparted a fresh impulse to the reading spirit of the community at large.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 5 Nov 1891)



Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 12 Nov 1891)


The loss of property in the United States by fire is very great. Millions go up in flames and smoke annually. The fires which swept like a cyclone through Chicago in 1871 and that other terribly grand conflagration that crumbled granite and melted iron in the business center of Boston, are memorable historic events from enormous losses incurred.

At one time, a farmer’s home is destroyed as was that of Mader recently and at another wooden block in some town is burned as has happened repeatedly in Auburn and no location is secure, no condition of life is exempt.

Time and again fire has destroyed portions of business blocks in town and the losers have ever undaunted, rebuilt upon the site of the ruins, finer and more permanent buildings.

As it has been of recent years, so it was in 1856, which year was made remarkable in the annuals of Auburn for a destructive fire that broke out on the night of January 28th in the big double store building of Messrs. Park & Ralston then standing on the site now occupied by the Davenport drugstore and the Ralston grocery, structures.

The authorities had no apparatus for extinguishing fires, no wells with volume of water, no public ladders and the population of the town gathered beyond the radius of heat looked on while the building burned.

The massive framed timbers, a feature of those days of substantial carpentry, red with flame, long stood clear and strong, a beautiful sight, after the siding, roof and flooring had burned away.

For a long while, the drug store of Valentine Weaver standing on the southwest corner of Main and Seventh streets was seemingly protected by the common expedient of covering the exposed side with carpets kept soaked by water poured upon them but the water became steam and the building suddenly burst into flames and it, too, went down,. The office of the county treasurer across the street was also consumed.

A part of the stocks of goods in the store was save, but the loss was heavy upon Park, Ralston. Weaver and others and the town and county authorities on application justly remitted to these parties the taxes assessed upon the property destroyed.

As heretofore stated, by this fire the press and fixtures of the Democratic Messenger were consumed and for some months the towns and county were without a home paper.

For the accommodation of the county, a building was bought, moved upon the site of the burned office and jointly occupied by the treasurer and the recorder.

About this time, the business of building a school house engrossed the attention of the town authorities and on Jan. 21st, no less than six proposals had been presented and were now examined. The bids were by the following named parties. Samuel Swihart and Washington Teeters bid $1800, excepting the cupola and $1970, the cupola included. James W. Case bid $1175, and E. Wallace bid $1450 and Amos Hutchinson $1500.

The last three excepted the cupola on which they made no proposal. James F. Ring’s Bid of $1150 and O. C. Houghton offered to do the work including the cupola for $1325.00.

The job of building the school house was awarded to Houghton at his bid he giving bond in the sum of $2000.00 to complete the work by Jan. 1st, 1857.

The sureties on Houghton’s bond were E. W. Fosdick, W. Park, V. Weaver, J. H. Ford and W. Griswold.

Although the assessed valuation of the real estate, improvements and personal property of the people of Auburn was few thousands in comparison with that of 1876, the business methods of the earlier date were correspondingly better for the credit and welfare of the towns.

It was an unfortunate day for Auburn when bonds against the corporation were issued to the amount of $10,000 drawing interest at the rate of eight per cent, and the last running nearly twenty years. If refundable, capitalists would have gladly taken them at six per cent.

But it was done and $6000, of the debt has been loyally paid as the rest will be as fast as possible, still the lesson has been a severe one. Butler, Waterloo and Garrett have had similar costly experiences in the building of their school houses and it seems in the history of public expenditure, town, county, state and nation, that these costly errors are more general than exceptional.

On March 4, Miles Waterman, trustee in ward 3, and president of the board of trustees being about to remove from the town, presented his resignation which was duly accepted and S. D. Long was chosen president in his stead.

For six years Mr. Waterman had been county auditor and his books were well written, his charges legal, his effice admirably administered.

During this time he had identified himself with the people of Auburn, had won and deserved their esteem and confidence and had been valuable in their counsels and the conduct of the towns’ affairs.

The location at Auburn of the county seat through the enterprise and generosity of Wesley Park was a fortunate act destined in all after years to subservents interests and the election of leading citizens of the county to office which brought them to locate in the town where some of them made their home, bought and improved property and engaged in business, has manifestly resulted in mutual advantage.

Illustrative of the statement, we point with satisfaction to attorneys John Baxter and D. Y. Husselman, large stockholders in thriving manufactories and to the present circuit clerk, G. A. Bishop who on a lot bought of E. Eldridge west of the old Dickinson block has erected a capacious and handsome residence.

On leaving the office of county auditor Wm. McIntyre gave his attention to banking and has since been officially connected with the First National bank, of which his son Wm. H. McIntryre cashier, and Isaac Hague associating with him, his brother-in-law Charles Raut went into the boot and shoe business with capital, experience and energy that has made the venture profitable, where Woodworth, Austin and Bowman were unsuccessful.

We have with us Rev. W. L. Meese, ex-sheriff, M. Boland and D. Z. Hoffman ex-recorders and S. J. Bandon and L. J. Miller ex-treasurers.

All are desirable citizens; Mr. Hoffman being acting recorder; Messrs. Boland, and Brandon stand connected with sound business enterprises and "Lafe" Miller is a grain buyer whose tact, experience and popularity have established for farmers, at Auburn a reliable and permanent market for their produce. Examples like these of the many.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 19 Nov 1891)


Preparatory to commencing work on the school house, Messrs. Park, Berry and George Brandt were appointed a building committee and to locate the site of the proposed house on the lots purchased.

Trustees’ salaries continued nominal, and in April, Messrs. Berry and Case presented their bills for two years’ services as trustees, in amount of $10, each. Which bills were duly allowed and ordered paid.

The benches, desks, etc., of the old school house were taken and placed on deposit in a place of security till such time as use could be made of them.

The growth of population and public opinion demanded a change in the method of caring for the unfortunate poor from their being housed in families to their having quarters to which all should be removed. The business men of Auburn were interested in their movement since the supplies for such an institution would have to be furnished to a great extent by them.

Then and all years since, then, the county has been a good customer, patronizing the stores and groceries and shops and paying its bills quarterly.

The board of county commissioners, Solomon DeLong, Joel E. Thompson and James M. Goechius examined a number of different farms offered for sale to the county for an asylum for the poor and finally in April concluded to purchase the E. ½ of E. ½ N. E. qr. Sec. 11, and the S. ½ S. W. qr Sec 12, in Butler township. This land comprised 120 acres and was the property of Mr. Goetchius, one of the members of the board. He sold his farm to the county for $3000 or $25 per acre. This farm was years ago sold by the county to John Grube, present owner and the nucleus of the present fine farm northwest of town was bought of Moses Gonser.

Isaac Brandt, who took a leading part in the affairs of town and county and who certainly held the esteem and confidence of the people, was appointed agent to procure a suitable person for superintendent of the farm and to provide an outfit of provisions, furniture, stock, etc., and to report action at the regular term.

On April 26, Mr. Brandt contracted with J. N. Lyon to superintend the farm and his compensation was the sum of $250 for eleven months from May 1st with supplies furnished for his family, the asylum inmate and his team.

Dr. J. N. Chamberlain was appointed county physician for the benefit of the paupers at the Home. In addition to supplies, was the expense of building, and dealers in Auburn promptly filled orders, J. Keller and Stiefel & Wold provided goods, John Butt furnished groceries, J. L. Davis hardware, I. Brandt, shoes and R. Ettinger, furniture.

The vote cast at the May annual election was 63 and was about equally divided between parties. Samuel Sanders, S. D. Long, S. B. Ward, E. Berry and A. Spangler were elected trustees. John W. Rickel was elected treasurer. Houghton clerk, William Valleau marshal, and Dr. Chamberlain assessor.

Among voters were Samuel Sanders, Michael Long, James Draggoo, John Rickel, Jacob B. Hoover, A. Gories, S. W. Widney, Lewis Bowers and J. W. Welch.

Some of the old business firms and individuals held the uneven tenor of their way and new aspirants for patronage of the public, entered upon the perilous path of mercantile life.

Samuel Sanders, who we have seen elected a member of the town board, was a dealer in dry goods, dress goods, ready-made clothing, bonnets of latest styles and broadcloths. He kept what he termed a "cheap cash, store", and carried on an extensive business, but the fates were against him in the end and he was retired, leaving a list of posterity, on the county records of the multitudinous articles which made up his stock in trade.

Michael Long, an early settler in the county, moved to Auburn and in 1856 was engaged in keeping a meat market, and supplied the asylum for the poor with meat.

Mr. Long had his shop opposite Wolf’s store, later owned by Joseph Rainier, and , in the spring of 1885, occupied temporarily as a hardware store by Jules Beuret, who had been burned out and was preparing to rebuild his present place of business.

Mr. Long was a kind-hearted, plain, generous man, and at his death it was found that so freely had he credited the poor with meat, that although the nominal assets reached thousands, his estates was insolvent. He had been for years a victim of appetite for strong drink, but by firm exercise of will power and implicit faith in Divine aid, himself conquered the habit, but ever after hated while he dreaded the seductive and baneful poison.

His illness was brief, and just two weeks after his funeral, that of this faithful wife followed, and his humble old home has given way to the march of improvements. He left two sons, Henry, a printer, and the publisher of a paper at Kendallville some time ago, and "Mike", whom all the old residents know and respect. In the old days he was an athlete and a member of the farmers’ Wahalotas,--Auburn’s first base ball club; he was successively a competent and energetic teacher in district and graded schools, a postal agent on the railroad, and organ agent, a partner with W. H. McQuiston in the dry goods and grocery trade and is at present a resident of ours sister towns of Butler.

James Draggoo, living in Auburn in ’56, later removed to his farm. Careful in the conduct of his financial interests, he acquired property, and, like many others, looked forward to rest from labor, and selected Auburn for his home. He bought the block of lots previously occupied and owned Joseph Robbins, thereon built the brick dwelling in which he lives and on the organization of the Farmers Bank became one of the company, but soon withdrew and started a bank at Montpelier, Ohio, where he had been doing a safe and profitable business. Of late, he has turned his attention to building and put up the solid, capacious and fine store on the southwest corner of Ninth and Cedar streets and also an extensive addition to the sore of Messrs. Boland, Brown & Culbertson, dealers in hardware and agricultural implements.

John W. Rickel, who in 1856 was elected town treasurer, was at the time a manufacturer and dealer in boots and shoes in competition with Isaac Brandt of the "Railroad Boot & Shoe store."

The price of fine well made calf boots was $3.75, ladies congress morocco boot $1.75, and walking shoes and slips from 50 cents to $1.50 and these articles were of good quality and durable.

Mr. Rickel finally sold out, took up the study of law and came into quite a practice. Some fourteen to sixteen years ago, he removed to Rochester, Ind., where he continued in his profession and recently, has returned to Auburn. A son, W. D. Rickel, had preceded him to Auburn, and finding a promising field for a real estate agency engaged in the work with marked success. Later he went into partnership with T. H. Sprott and the firm in their office in the basement of the Farmers Bank block, are doing a heavy and growing business.

Lewis Bowers continued to carry on a grocery and variety store on the corner of Main and Sixth streets and his motto was "quick sales and small profits."

Later, Wash and Lew Bowes built and operated the Eagle Mills, on the site of the present mill owned and run by I. O. Bachtel. Very successfully.

The pioneer mill at that point was of two stories, the first of brick, the second, framed, and in dimension was thirty-five by forty-five feet, with three run of stone and a capacity to grind two hundred barrels of flour per day.

Mr. Bowers, now retired from business, and generally regarded as well-to do, still occupies the house on Main street, which has been his home for many years. Like our former townsman Ephraim Berry, he is quite a mechanical genius and his shop near his home, well stocked with tools indicates his versatility. He is one of Auburn’s best citizens, past and present. He had two children, a son Melvin, who is remembered for his amiable disposition and honest worth and who fell victim to the dread disease consumption. And a daughter, Martha Olinger, whose home is in Kansas.

Jacob B. Hoover in 1856 was a citizen of Auburn and a participant in the conduct of municipal affairs. He was long a resident of Waterloo and conversant in the events of early times.

In his old age he has returned to our town and his form has been familiar on our streets. He is kindly in disposition and the autumn of life passes serenely and happily in the home of his daughters, Mrs. Raut and Mrs. Hague.

(To be continued next week)


Note: The following articles were typed as printed and no corrections were made to

grammar or punctuation. Articles appeared in the Auburn Courier from

March, 1892 to March 23, 1893.


Written by W. H. McIntosh

Published in the Auburn Courier, 1892

Some Reminiscences of its Early Days

And Pioneer Citizens,


The year 1860 has been marked by events that have left a durable

impression upon the character of our government. All parties north and

thousand south, loved the Union much but very many loved party and slavery

more. The turbulence of political strife rose and rolled wave upon wave

sweeping with ebb and flow through the free states and stirring the

feelings, the passions, the best and the worst elements in human nature.

Citizens of Auburn and DeKalb county, tenacious of opinion, sincere and

earnest from respective points of view, deprecated war, and strove as far

as they could, each in his way, to avert resort to arms.

They engaged in the campaign, "preliminary" and actual with enthusiasm.

The canvass and the election became paramount considerations and the entire

population was arrayed either in the ranks of the candidate for Squatter

Sovereignty, Stephen A. Douglas, or Free Territories, Abraham Lincoln,

both distinguished citizens of Illinois.

The nomination of Mr. Lincoln for president by the Republican Party was

celebrated at Auburn, on May 22, by a numerously attended mass meeting.

Delegation followed delegation coming into town with banners, flags and

martial music, making similar display to the last fall’s imposing parade

of the Farmers’ Alliance on their way to the fair ground to hold a picnic,

and when evening has come bonfires blazing illuminated the scene, a torch-

light procession marched along he streets and the populace were stirringly

addressed by S. W. Widney and S. B. Ward.

At the democratic county convention it was unanimously resolved, "that

in Stephen A. Douglas, we have a statesman of marked ability, unflinching

Jacksonian firmness, and an undaunted advocate of self-government."

In township meetings, S. W. Sprott and James B. Morrison were democratic

orators and W. S. Smith, familiarly known and remembered as "Popgun" Smith,

a campaign speaker form Fort Wayne, canvassed the townships and addressed

largely attended meetings in Auburn.

Mr. Smith was eulogized as one of the ablest speakers in the state and

the Era said of him, "His glowing oratory, logical reasoning and unrefutable

statement of facts surpassed the expectation of his friends and elicited

praise form his politics opponents."

As the campaign drew to a close, politics became the absorbing issue; a

grand demonstration was made by the democracy at Waterloo. Hickory poles

were raised amid cheers form the throngs of spectators, many ladies

carrying a beautiful banner made and owned by Mr. M. F. Pearce, of Auburn,

marched in the van of a long procession to a stand for speakers whence they

were eloquently addressed by Judge Lowry and P. Hinkel.

While political fervor ran high, personal, municipal and county interests

held even tenor, of way. The multitude did not realize the gravit of the

issues involved and very few anticipated actual war.

Young and old patronized the picture gallery of Jerome Gallahan opposite

Sander’s store, "where ambrotypes of superior execution were taken in

clouded as well as clear weather, and are still preserved as priceless

mementos of departed kindred and friends.

The Era hopefully noting a movement in the line of improvements, when

things were far form cheerful, actual and prospective, came out strong in

a Mark Tapley was as follows; "Our sidewalks are now fast being built, the

public square will soon be enclosed in a neat fence, and our citizens are

painting and fixing up generally. Saturday is a busy day. Nearly every

business house in town has been crowded with customers form all parts of

the county. Auburn is coming out. The weather (May 16) is fair, roads are

good, and farmers are having a splendid time planting their corn and doing

all kind of outside work."

There was good ground for hopefulness on part of those whose desires

were easily satisfied. In regard to sidewalks, official action had been

taken and an ordinance respecting walks along lots fronting Main Street,

had been passe. The walks were to be ten feet wide on Fourth and Ninth

streets, and four feet wide elsewhere. Such walks as lot owners were thus

enforced to make, were an advance and served well their day. It is to be

noticed that rarely did private enterprise go beyond public requirement

and more frequently fell short of it.

There being a balance of $36.91 of municipal fund, it was ordered that

$30 of it be expended in building plank walks across Fourth, Fifth, Sixth,

Seventh and Eighth streets west side of Main street, also across the street

"between the auditor’s office and Smith’s drugstore an between S. D. Long’s

hotel and James Griswold’s grocery store." These crossings were two feet

in width, made with plank three inches thick and were put down under

contract by Hiram Griswold.

The town authorities long followed the precedent thus set of narrow

crossings but gradually increased their width to three and four feet, till

finally a liberal and business board have enlarged the width of Main street

crossings to five feet, the wide of the cement works and laid them with the

same permanent material, much to their credit, to the convenience of pedestrians

and the appearance of walks.

Meetings of the town board were migratory. At one time held in the drugstore

of Job C. Smith, then at the office of the county auditor and most frequently

at the shop of George W. Stahl.

The annual municipal election was regarded with little interest. The name

of Lewis J. Blair, Romeo B. Catlin and Guy Plumb appear as voters. Mr.

Blair entered the army in the 88th Indiana Volunteers, advanced to the

rank of Major and at the close of the war was brevetted a brigadier

general. He was an eloquent, impassioned orator, prominent in politics and

able in law pleadings, elected treasurer of DeKalb county. He had the

misfortune to have the safe robbed and in consequence to become involved

in costly litigation. Removed to Waterloo, he continues to practice in the

courts of the circuit, his profession of the law.

Mr. Catlin was also elected county treasurer, and in default of banking

facilities near home, kept the people’s money at a bank in Kendallville for

security, and was criticized for so doing, so that it was obvious that it

was difficult to suit all parties. Not long after the expiration of his

term of office, Mr. Catlin died at his home at Spencerville, and his widow

with quite a family came and made her home in Auburn, where her children

had school advantages and whence they have gone out to various localities

to gain a livelihood.

Mr. Plumb was a counselor at law, served a year as school examiner,

held office on the town board, occupied what is now the sheriff’s office

in the court house, amassed some means and built the fine brick residence

now the property of Albert Robbins, cashier of the Farmers Bank, but the

health of himself and part of his family having failed, he sold and removed

to the Atlantic coast, where near Washington, he bought a fine old southern

style mansion with spacious beautiful ground, and has since lived in comfort

and prosperity.

About the last of May, M. F. Rhodes had completed the little dark red

brick building which standing on the north west corner of Main and Ninth

streets, formed the nucleus of the enlarged store and residence building

erected by James W. Case, the owner, about 1873.

That little structure whose outlines are still distinctly marked, was

in 1860, considered one of the best buildings in Auburn, and here Mr.

Rhodes carried on a brisk trade in dry goods groceries and miscellaneous

supplies. And a year or so later as deputy postmaster conducted the

business of the postoffice.

Messrs. Smith & Ingraham erected a framed building and prepared to go

into the hardware trade a business that had been carried on for years by

J. Dutcher Davis at the DeKalb county Hardware and stove emporium on site

of the Davis Pioneer Hardware store but on record being make of their

further venture, it may be taken for granted that Dame Fortune did not

prosper them.

Job C. Smith was this year successor to Valentine Weaver on the corner

of Main and Seventh streets and in December was himself succeeded by Dr.

W. M. Mercer & Brother in the sale of drugs and medicine.

The ladies of Auburn and vicinity have ever been interested in

prevailing fashions and the trade of milliner and dressmaking has in

consequence proved remunerative. Among the first to solicit patronage in

this line was Mr. Bues of England, who had served a full apprenticeship at

dressmaking in the city of London and having established herself at Auburn,

invited custom on the further ground that she was in "weekly receipt of New

York styles."

Insurance against fire was placed on town property by William H. Dills

acting as agent for the well known Home Insurance company of New York. A

certificate of authority from the auditor had been filed with the clerk of

the circuit court of the county by Mr. Dills and, at this date, he was the

only agent of an insurance company who had complied with the existing law

in this regard.

The many insurance companies represented at times by nearly a dozen

agents in Auburn had had an effect in late years of reducing rates to the

insured, but given small profit to agents and companies till the establishment

of a board of underwriters and a schedule of rates brought about equity to

insurers and insured.

Much insurance is carried in Auburn upon private and public property.

Houses, stores, school buildings and count buildings are insured for many

thousands in reliable companies and the beneficent results have been

exemplified time and again when otherwise heavy losses by fire have been

lightened by the prompt payment of insurance.

C. A. O. McClellan our popular congressman was in 1860, assisting Mr.

Pearce as deputy auditor and filled appointment as census enumerator. I

enter variously employed, he betook himself to the study of law, was

associated for a long period with Judge James I. Best in legal practice,

at which the firm took high and distinguished rank. Some time following a

dissolution of the firm, Judge McClellan came to Auburn, built a residence

continuous eastward with the First National Bank building and identified

his interest with that of the people of Auburn.

Successful as a financier as well as lawyer, he is stockholder of a

large extent in the DeKalb Bank of Waterloo and well as in the First

National Bank of Auburn and during the long intervals between sessions of

Congress is a familiar figure at the bar of our court.

Hon. Egbert Mott, in addition to practice of law became a dealer in

real estate, and farmlands to the extent of two thousand acres were by him

placed on the market for sale. Thus did the increase of population, growing

wants of the people and the enterprise of the few open up new avenues for

occupation and wealth so that it may be affirmed as a truism those who are

pioneers in a new country will, if they have the talent to improve

opportunities and the patience to wait their coming, eventually reach

their goal whatever its character, whether it be the acquisition of land

as in the case of Alonzo Lockwood, of money, or its equivalent like John

P. Widney, or of judicial honors, like John Morris and their success in

riper years gauges popular estimate of ability and bears with it present

and posthumous honors.

It is interesting to note the versatility of early residents of Auburn

and the facility with which they gave up on occupation to test the chances

of some other.

George Wagoner known in these pages as a pioneer of Auburn still active

and skillful at his trade of blacksmithing was in 1860, presiding over a

home like restaurant and dealing in family groceries and refreshments.

Mr. Wagoner has had many successors in that line in our town, and the

hotel, the restaurant, the bakery and the boarding house, in lunch, meal

and boarding have long well done their part towards making Auburn a

desirable place to sojourn to the traveler and the homeless.

George W. Stahl supplies a worthy example of a man abiding by his

calling, and all the years following, industriously cutting and completing

clothing for the men and boys of the county seat, he has cheerfully

accepted his life as unfolded, merrily laughed with the best, and, seeking

no monopoly, been content with his lot.

As Young and Yesbea have severally long suited the capricious and

exacting requirements of stylish youths, and of business and professional

men by variety and quality of clothing, so did John D. Graham for a time

rival Mr. Stahl and satisfy popular taste. It was Graham’s greatest

pleasure to receive an order for a fine suit of clothes and he claims that

from experience gained from having been employed in some of the first

houses in New York and Philadelphia acknowledged centers of fashion, that

"the most fastidious could find no fault with price or workmanship."

Ladies were not over looked by Graham, who kept charts for cutting

dresses. Despite all these prerequisites, Stahl remains and Graham has

been forgotten.

S. S. Ford wearied of the boot and shoe business and in May sold out to

C. S. Hare who for a number of years made a success of the business.

Samuel Sanders in his store building on a corner of Main and Fourth

streets carried a large stock of good for the size of the town, and

invited patronage in the use of the popular name of the Farmers’ Exchange

store, while Messrs Stiefel & Wolf attracted custom by the time worn,

generally false, but always available, statement that the firm was

"selling on the cost" and great bargains could be had at their expense if

promptly attended to.

There are, we believe, nine saloons in Auburn. By healthy growth of

moral sentiment, they have come to exist under conscious ban of public

opinion. Their proprietors pay large and yet larger sums for licenses to

retail intoxicants. They do not advertise their locality and business it

would be superfluous to do so but in 1860, it was wholly different.

John Butt in that year was proprietor of what was known as the DeKalb

Saloon and in the conduct of a recognized and not infrequently, over

patronized business, invited the citizen and the stranger traveler to

sample the choice wines, liquors and cigars of a well stocked bar, in

poetic phrase of which the following is a characteristic stanza:

"Should a party of friends for an evening

drop in,

Just send for a dozen of Butt’s brandy and


And if ever the earth should be flooded


Let us hope all the rain will be Butt’s brandy

and gin."

Edward Eldridge is a veteran saloon keeper in Auburn, has been

licensed as early as March 5, 1859 and have continuously followed his

vocation up to the present time, excepting a brief period during the

spring of 1859, when engaged in replacing on lost No. 63, with the present

brick, the former framed building burned during a fires which swept the

block of which it formed a part.

I may truly be said of Mr. Eldridge the "he is a fit person to be

intrusted with the sale of spirituous liquors" since in all these years he

has strictly complied with the law, and his place has been orderly kept,

promptly closed at night at a seasonable hour and free from brawls and the

imputation of gambling. As a citizen, he is quiet

And unostentatious and resides in a beautiful home, once known as the

Dickinson Block which he has moved back from the street and so greatly

improved as to leave few marks of its original identity. While his iron

fence, cement walks, fine shade trees and well cared for street lawn

attests his tastes and care for surrounding.

Prior to the existence of Auburn of the railroads, the transportation

if travelers, their effects, of business men, their deposits in the

Kendallville or Ft. Wayne banks and the conveyance of the mails furnished

occupation for a line of hacks which have their counterpart to day in the

conveyances which with abbreviated trip, meet the trains at the various

depots and convey travelers and townsmen to hotels and homes.

Although an active competitive spirit existed, yet it was subordinated

to the needs of the public and the three hack lines in operation at Auburn

in 1860 were united in a system which gave close connections to patrons.

James Griswold ran a daily to and from Waterloo for the benefit of

passengers on the Air Line railroad, desiring to visit Auburn on pleasure

or business.

Messrs Butt and Darrow ran a hack every other day to F. Wayne, making

connection with trains to and from that city and R. Squires was the well

known proprietor of an Auburn, Angola & Coldwater hack line

Robert Ingersoll recently compared the church as a whole to a primitive

savage in a dugout and charged religious bodies with being non progressive.

The facts are that in revision of creed, freedom of thought, union of

purpose, combined with methods of science and meeting, of social and

business character, the churches are in the very van of progress.

We have not learned who composed the first choir in an Auburn church,

nor at what date and organ was introduced into the services but preceptors

no longer lead congregations in singing, not only a base viol, but pipe

organs and trained choirs assist the minister, and orchestras delight the

children of the Sabbath schools while the tediously long sermons upon

abstruse topics

have been superseded by spirited half hour discussions of texts

connecting, the scripture and the audience with the living issues of the


Illustrative of this progressive spirit in Auburn it may be said that

it was on the records of an early church of our town that a worthy woman

desirous of raising some money in a pleasant way for her society,

prepared a supper, invited friends and charging each a small sum,

tendered the proceeds to the church and that body so far from being

gratified, seriously contemplated a resolution of censure for having

acquired money that way.

In these days of socials and excellent suppers with literary

entertainment at times added, for ten to twenty-five cents, it is worth

while to revert to the way these affairs were conducted some thirty years

ago and to note that in 1860, views had changed and churches gave their

approval and support to measures whose well understood object was to

replenish a church treasury by the conversion of the generous

contributions of food by members into cash received from patrons.

As an example of methods in 1860, we recall the holding of a festival

at the Weaver House on April 3rd by ladies of Auburn and vicinity to which

general invitation was publicly extended, the bill for a couple was placed

at seventy-five cents and for a gentleman alone, fifty cents.

The attendance was as large as expected, the fare was plenteous and

excellent, the occasion one of interest and enjoyment and the entire

proceeds were faithfully appropriated toward the purchase of a bell for

the building then used as the Presbyterian church.

By recent enactment and energetic enforcement of laws against the use

of the postal service for the advertisement of the Louisiana and other

lotteries and gift enterprises, these debasing schemes to rob the many to

enrich the few, have been throttled and are certain to be exterminated by

the vigilance of postmasters and the decisions of the highest courts.

In 1860, the confidential lottery letter offering a prize to the

recipient as an incentive to the patronage of his locality was a common

and successful trick and lotteries were frequently held in the towns and

cities of this country.

On Feb. 14, St. Valentines’ day a "grand distribution" by lottery was

advertised to be held in our neighboring town of Waterloo. To be sure the

grand prize promised was but $2,400.00, but William Fearnside the

enterprising projector had prepared numerous other attractions comprising

lands, lots, watches, sewing machines, 2,000 books, 1.000 rings, 1.000

lady’s belts and 3,480 pictures. The chances were favorable, at least for

a picture, the precursor of the more recent almost abiquitous chromo. All

communications with this scheming stranger were strictly confidential and

the result of the drawing if held is not on record.

The nearest approach made by the Auburn-tradesman to the awards of

chance has been the distribution of tickets proportionate to the extent of

goods purchased, followed by a drawing and award of gold watch, a jeweled

ring or other valuable.

In 1860, Amzi Seely, David Buchanan and Alexander Provines constituted

the board of county commissioners of whom the last named, yet rugged and

hearty is sole survivor thoroughly conversant with the exciting history of

those days, of which he was an active participant, and by occupation, a

prosperous farmer of Jackson township.

By the board above named, Union township was divided east and west on

the center section lines for election purposes and Adam Stroh was appointed

inspector for the north half, to hold election at Waterloo.

Bids having been invited on contracts to care for the poor at the

county farm, Nathan H. Mathews was awarded the position on his offer to

pay the county $2.50 per acre rent for the farm and to board the paupers

for $2.00 a week each.

With no occasion nor thought of reflection upon the present incumbent,

there are not wanting those who consider a contract of this kind far

preferable in a business way to the present fixed salary and disposal of

farm products.

The spring term of the DeKalb circuit court was marked by the trial of

Mrs. Elizabeth Knapp, a woman eighty-four years of age, on the charge of

murdering her husband.

The aged couple had lived together as a man and wife about fifty five

years. They had been married in Germany and emigrating, came to America.

In Union township, DeKalb county, their joint labor and frugality secured

them a home. Children meantime during the elapse of time grew to maturity

and left the homestead, except one who has been for years and will be till

his demise, an inmate of the county asylum.

The case was heard in the month of April, before Hon, Ed. R. Wilson

circuit judge, John Olerick Esq., was the prosecuting attorney and the

prisoner was defended by the law firm of Dickinson & Blair, John Ralston

was clerk; W. W. Griswold was deputy clerk and S. W. Ralston, sheriff.

The charge was sustained and the jury of which Dwight Mcoly was

foreman, rendered their verdict in accordance with the facts. Her

conviction, after a futile attempt to secure a new trial, was followed by

sentence to confinement in the southern penitentiary for life yet the

motive for the crime was not developed and the age of the woman appealed

for compassion.

While in the county jail in a fit of desperation she attempted to kill

herself by disemboweling but survived the very serious injury inflicted.

On petition of leading members of the estate legislature, appointed as

a committee to visit the prison she was pardoned by Gov. O.P. Morton, set

free and lived several years with a daughter in Ohio,

The age, sex and crime of Mrs. Knapp, combined to excite popular

interest in her trial, and save the cases of Abbott convicted of the

murder of Houlton and Kessler of Harner, our community has been remarkably

free form the commission of grave crimes an stands high in the ranks of

the law abiding.

While people were agitated by indications of secession and threats of

disunion, they were deeply interested in the cause of education, never

had Auburn schools been better attended nor more ably conducted.

It was stated by Andrew Larimore who had been granted the use of the

school house by Messrs. Pearce and Griswold, school trustees, without rent

for a spring term, that the Auburn Institute then in its third term of

fourteen weeks had been attended during the current year by two hundred

and forty pupils.

There were students in the high school department not only in the higher

mathematics, astronomy, botany and mental and moral science but in Latin

and Greek and the advantages offered at Auburn for schooling began to

attract attention and augment attendance.

Hitherto a part of the town board had been detailed by the remainder to

act as school trustees but at the municipal election in May, 1860, a new

departure was taken by the election of three school directors. This board

was composed of Wesley Park, John M. Miller and E. B. Mott who in their

official capacity engaged Chester P. Hodge as principal of the Auburn

Seminary as the school building began to be called. Prof. Hodge was

employed for fall and winter terms at $50.00 per month with Marilla

Platter, Sarah V. Wheeler and Hannah Davis as assistants.

The fall term began Aug, 17th and closed Nov. 16th. Among foreign

scholars in attendance were Hadessa George, M. B. and F. Willis, Miss

Childs, Edwin and J. McAllister, Emma and Sarah Fuller, George Buchanan,

Wesley and Matilda Walsworth, J.R. Shoper and Ella Lessig. The tuition

derived from foreign pupils for the term amounted to $77.00 showing the

confidence of patrons and popularity of the school.

Following his term of select school in the spring, Mr. Larimore retired

with credit from teaching and returned to the practice of medicine, a

profession he had pursued in former year.

He entered into partnership as physician and surgeon with A. Goeriz an

office located one door south of the Franklin House and the firm enjoys a

full share of the work of caring for the afflicted.

Prior to the opening of the winter term, a successful teacher’s

institute was held in the seminary at Auburn during the last days of

November, at which Rev. Edward Wright presided and Chester P. Hodge and J.

H. Moore were instructors.

Lack of space conjoined with want of interest prevented a publication

of the proceedings but the beneficial results of the session remained the


J. S. Cosper, Laura A. Nimmons and Hadessa George were appointed to read

essays at the next institute but before that time arrived, Casper had

enlisted in the Eleventh Indiana and later gave his life for his country

in battle at Champion Hill, Mississippi. Miss Nimmons in time became Mrs.

William Best and removed to Minnesota and Miss George is well known in

Auburn and vicinity as Mr. A. J. Ralston.

Nearly a quarter century had now elapsed since Park had built his

cabin on the banks of Cedar Creek and given the locality the name of

Auburn, and more than that number of years had gone by since John Houlton

with "three hire men, a yoke of oxen, across cut saw and fro" had built

upon the forty he had entered in Franklin township, the log house in which

he was yet living and popular interest throughout the county having been

awakened by Widney’s Pioneer sketches, the matter was agitated of forming

from the founders of the county and county seat, a pioneer organization.

In furtherance of this praiseworthy object, a meeting was held at the

court house to take the necessary steps towards calling the old settlers

together on the first Tuesday of the following, September to celebrate

the day in appropriate manner. Remarks well calculated to awaken general

interest in the proposed meeting and celebration were made by Wesley Park,

chairman, followed by the appointment of two committees.

The central committee was composed of Wesley Park, Lewis Blair, S. W.

Widney, S. W. Sprott and D. W. Altenberg, and the general committee was

made up of a pioneer from each township whose names in the usual order of

call from Butler to Troy were Abraham Fair, Samuel Henderson, John Blair,

John Platter, John Rose, George Egnew, W. Park, Joshus Feagler, William

Story, Isaac B. Smith, John Houlton and A. S. Casebeer all of whom as far

as known to the write, have passed to the "Better Land."

It was determined a this meeting that all who should have been residents

of the county, twenty years at the time of the proposed assembly and

celebration, were to be especially invited to attend.

This placed the limit at 1840, which date has subsequently been

extended to 1845 and the time approaches when to recruit numbers of

further extension will become necessary.

The annual meeting of old setters, held for convenience of access,

generally at the county seat, have been largely attended and have been the

occasion of many happy renewals of the olden time friendships.

As the yeas go by, the assemblies of tho people whose labors did so

much to reclaim nature for the present advanced cultivation, have

attracted popular interest and have become a fixed and anticipated feature

among the few anniversaries of our people.

An historical society ought to be organized in connection with the old

settlers organization and the narratives of pioneers yet living would give

present pleasure and prove of lasting importance to "generations yet to be."



Some Reminiscences of its Early Days

And Pioneer Citizens


The stability and strength of state and nation are founded upon

unquestioning submission to the expressed will of an accepted majority.

Their greatest peril has been and is, the great, inviting field for

partisan chicanery in event of a close and disputed election.

Accepting as conclusive the sectional and plurality vote that elected

Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, deprecating secession

much but dreading civil war more, the people of the North were ready to

make even humiliating concessions for the sake of union and peace, and

were incredulous that sectional antipathies cultivated by extremists could

bring about a disruption of he republic,.

The planter’s oligarchy interpreted a republican triumph as the knell

to slavery extension and political dominance, and every consequent

movement was initial to the formation for the Southern Confederacy.

Foreboding clouds hung heavy upon the political horizon and cast dark

shadows upon the future of the country.

Keenly alive to the gravity of pending events, the citizens of Auburn,

in common with those of ten thousands of northern towns and cities eagerly

caught up every item of political import while a chaotic confusion of

sentiment included opinions ranging from the most radical, to the ultra of


But when the tocsin of war was sounded by secession guns in Charleston

harbor, DeKalb county stood not idly in the background although few

counties in the northern part of Indiana, met more opposition of various


Political differences were hushed for the time by the declaration with

united voice that the government must be upheld and the Union preserved.

All classes were fired by patriotic ardor. War meetings were held at

Auburn and the other towns of the county, and strong resolutions expressed

the temper of the people.

Patriotism was not confined to party, nor enlistments to republican

families but political zeal and the mutatious of the war finally fermented

differences that divided our people and threatened strife at home.

At the first, young men went to the war in squads of from two to forty

to fill the complement of other localities in various regiments; then a

full company from DeKalb county, among whom were a number from Auburn and

vicinity, was on Sept. 24, ’61 mustered into the service of the United

States at Camp Allen, Ft. Wayne, as Company H, of the 30th Indiana, and

this was followed by two companies, one from Auburn and vicinity, and the

other from Newville township, and these were on Nov. 22, mustered in as

companies, K and F, of the 44th Indiana.

In the ranks of the former, marched the Auburn

contingent of upwards of a dozen men, but of the 300 men who had in these

two regiments gone to the war, Newville township was the banner locality,

since of 170 voters, forty had volunteered to help put down the rebellion.

There is no place in these sketches, nor is there any need to follow to

their many bloody battle-fields those noble men. Their history has already

been written in the annals of their country; their names have been worthily

inscribed upon the roll of honor; their martial memories will last while

the republic endures and it remains in these fragmentary reminiscences to

disclose occasional glimpses of past events with in the rifts of the clouds

of obscurity and oblivion fast settling upon Auburn during the war, and to

recall in part contemporary proceedings at home.

The struggle begun for the Union, the actual and anticipated departure

of many young men for the front, the deep feeling awakened in the community

and in the families thus bereft of their best and bravest, together with

strong desire of the public in general to demonstrate their allegiance to

the nation, found fit expression through the time-honored medium of a

Fourth of July celebration at Auburn.

A called meeting was largely attended and committees were appointed as


On arrangements, W. Griswold, W. Park, S. B. Ward, A. J. Hunt, Thomas

Weldon, and C. A. O. McClellan.

On finances, Thomas D. Gross, Joseph

Stiefel and A. B. Park.

On speaker, Dr, A. Goeriz, R. B. Catlin, G. Wagoner and G. W. Stahl.

Of the thirteen but four are living in Auburn today, and these are Rev.

Mr. Ward, Mr. Wagoner, Mr. Stahl and Judge McClellan.

The momentous issues pressing into the foreground were already

relegation the old-fashioned time-honored anniversary to the rear, but yet

once again the day was to be remembered in a well planned program.

At day-break a salute of thirty-four guns was fired under direction of

Thomas Weldon, and the stars and stripes under orders of Wesley Park, were

raised at the firing of the seventeenth gun.

Dr. J. M. Chamberlain presided as to officer of the day, assisted by

twelve vice-presidents; one from each township, representative men,

namely, George Ensley, George Barney, J.E. Rose, Dr. Winslow, D.

Buchanan, John Jackman, A. Provines, Henry Fusselman, Edgar Treeman,

Washington Teeters, R. Lockhart and W. R. Emerson.

The chief marshal was Wyllys Griswold who seems on all public occasion

to have been ubiquitous and conspicuous and his assistant marshals were

Augustus Leas, John Dills, Dr. Madden, A. D. Van Wickle, G. W. Merrill,

Dr. W. M. Mercer, G. R. Hoffman and V. Weaver.

The procession marched to the grove where Rev. James Hadsell officiated

as Chaplain, James Colgrove read the declaration of Independence and

following the singing by the glee club of the Star Spangled Banner, and

the Red, White and Blue, most appropriate and deservedly popular patriotic

songs, the Hon. A. M. Latta, of Ligonier was introduced as the orator of

the day.

In this connection, the following expression has been proved prophetic:

"Within a few years there will be no honored silver hairs to remind us of

this natal day. Great changes will take place and when this rebellion is

put down, another day may be placed upon the national calendar for us to

hold in grateful remembrance to awaken pure feelings of patriotism and


In October, Oliver P. Morton, Indiana’s justly famous war governor thus

addressed the people of the state. "Let personal and private interests

submit to the overruling necessities of the hour and let us show to the

world by the sacrifices we are willing to make in person and in property,

that we are worthy of the trust bequeathed by our predecessors.

Upon those who remain at home, I would urge the solemn duty of making

provision for the families of those who enter the army. The soldier in the

field should have sweet assurance that his wife and children and all who

are dependent upon his labors for a living would be provided with

sufficient food and clothing. Such assurance would nerve his arm in the

hour of battle and enable him to bear with cheerfulness the hardships and

privations of a soldier’s life. It would be a lasting disgrace to our

people if the family of any soldier should want for bread or raiment,

while our country is full of the necessaries of life. Town, township and

neighborhood should take efficient and systematic steps to bring relief to

those in the field and those depending on them at home."

This eloquent appeal met immediate general response. county, towns and

neighborhoods, vied with each other in providing the relief suggested.

Individual, organized and official provision was made for help and

encouragement of the soldier.

Meeting sere held in the M. E. church, stirring speeches were mad and

an enthusiastic Soldiers’ Aid Society was formed. The ladies of Auburn

noble assisted by the patriotic women residing in the vicinity gave their

heartiest endeavors for the good cause.

When the soldiers were on the eve of departure, a bounteous dinner was

provided for them, and Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Case, Mrs. Finney and Mrs.

Chamberlain, were among the leaders of those who made the occasion


When the volunteers were in the field, the women labored earnestly

preparing clothing and delicacies for the sick, and box followed box from

homes and societies, on their way by express to Cincinnati and Louisville,

where their contents were faithfully distributed to soldiers in the


Nor were the county authorities behind hand but through the

Commissioners, Messrs. Provines, Buchanan and Fusselman, authorized the

allowance of small sums for furnishing families of volunteers with needed

supplies of wood, food, medicine and clothing.

These allowances rapidly grew with the numbers leaving for the army

till the aggregate became a large sum. Town and county, proved themselves,

"Worthy of the trust bequeathed by our predecessors."

Meantime, professional, business and other societary interests followed

a common routine.

The Press and the New Era found their work difficult. The former

crippled for help, two employees, Kimsey and Baxter having volunteered ,

reduced the size of its sheet and the latter, aided for six months ending

with the issue of July 26, by James Brinkerhoff as associate editor, after

that date was continued by Mr. Loveland, alone.

Although Loveland claimed 800 in circulation and earnings of $1,500 a

year, at $800 expenditure, he was wearied of the office and wished to rent

to "a good printer, democrat and Union man, and would sell if he could,"

but he couldn’t and so perforce continued.

A co-partnership in the practice of medicine was formed between Doctors

Chamberlain and D. J. Swarts, both of whom after serving in the army as

surgeons, returned to the county, and the one at Waterloo, the other at

Auburn, hold high rank for experience and skill in the ranks of their


Th firm of Sherlock & Shaw had established marble works about the first

of the year. Shaw soon retired and left his partner to continue a business

which our enterprising friends Smith & Madden, have found lucrative and

have in years brought to a high standard of quality and workmanship.

About the last of February, in consonance with the custom and necessity

of store-keepers throughout the entire country, Auburn merchants made

their several preparations for going East to purchase stock foe the spring

trade. Among those then taking the journey which was something of an

event were Aaron Wolf and M. L. Rhodes, who in the wholesale houses of New

York and Philadelphia, selected such goods as experience had shown were

desirable in this locality.

All this is now changed and the business man whatever his line, no

longer seeks the wholesale dealer, but instead, the traveling or

commercial man representing the house does Auburn, on his route at stated

intervals and seeks him.

Our draymen are familiar with the sample trunk; the man with the valises

patronizes the hack, and it is solely the fault of our merchant, grocer or

manufacturer if he does not select at his leisure what he wants with saving

of exertion, time and money.

When Mr. Dickinson removed to Waterloo, he was commissioned postmaster

of that growing town, and in May, 1860, the Auburn postoffice had passed

into the hands of Wyllys Griswold, who having been in turn superseded on

Feb.1, 1861, by Christopher S. Hare, that townsman appointed M. L. Rhodes,

his deputy and the office was kept in the brick store.

On May 17, following, James W. Case, Esq., was commissioned postmaster

at Auburn, and entered upon the light duties of the office. Patrons had

only benefit of a tri-weekly mail, but the correspondence between soldiers

and those at home materially augmented the mail as the former were

inveterate writers and took every occasion to relate their experiences to

parents, brothers and sisters.

About the middle of July, Mr. Rhodes disposed of his stock of goods

to S. W. Ralston, who had been a prominent member of the mercantile circle

of Auburn. in former days and who again resumed business in the "brick


About the same time, the drug store of Mercer & Bro., passed into the

hands of M. F. Pierce, ex-auditor, who aided by a previous experience, in

his turn continued to conduct this popularly supposed remunerative business.

Not very many remember the old framed building that preceded the

Swineford Hotel on the southwest corner of Main and Ninth streets and

would recognize it in the dwelling, which occupied a lot just west on Van

Buren street. It bears the appearance of a roomy house but disappoints

expectation when viewed as the structure classed in 1861 as "a first-class

hotel capable of accommodating fifty guests." The ideal of a first-class

hotel has been marvelously improved upon in thirty years.

During the year in question, this stand was taken in hand by John Butt

and by him thoroughly refitted with new furniture from the cabinet

warerooms of the Ettingers, and the event of opening the house to the

public, was celebrated by a old fashioned entertainment on the evening of

Feb. 15th.

The program consisted of a ball and a supper at which the managers were

R. J. Fiske, A. J. Ralston, W. Park and W. W. Straight. The room manager

was Guy Plumb and the music was furnished by Forsythe’s Band.

Despite absorbing interest in the war and diverse opinions as to its

conduct, the people were not forgetful of home measures calculated as in

times of peace, to improve the condition of the farmer. Hence a meeting

on Jan. 21, 1861, at the old court house of the DeKalb Agricultural

Society and an election of officers for the year and an arrangement for a

two days’ fair on their leased grounds. W. Griswold was chosen president,

R. Culbertson, vice-president, S. B. Ward treasurer and W. H. Dills


The executive committee was composed of R. Culbertson, J. R. Cosper, J.

N. Chamberlain, J. Griswold, Henry Willis, R. S. S. Reed and A. Provines.

A director was chosen for each township as follows; L. S. Holmes, A.

Provines, James Draggoo, S. Ellis, Mr. Greenwood, of Stafford; John Mease,

J. Griswold, James McCrum, John Buchanan, R. M. Lockhart, M. Waterman and

G. C. Everetts,.

The fair was held on Oct. 4 and 5, and the enrollment of members was

sixty-five. The first day was pleasant and promising but on the second

day rain fell continuously and materially affected the attendance.

Despite effects of unfavorable weather there was a good exhibit of stock,

of farm and garden products and of mechanical implements.

The receipts were but $231.60, and the cash balance over unpaid

premiums was $74.31 which from a Micawber point of view was an index of


Assuming the award of premiums to have been a true test of merit and

hence of interest to those now competing at our fairs for superiority, the

names of some of those who were rated as having the best are as follows:

On horses, James Griswold won first for blooded, B. F. Greenwood for

light draft and saddle, and J. J. Holmes for heavy draught. On cattle, E.

White, blooded, B. Altenberg cross-blooded and no report on natives.

J. M. Brumbeck was accredited with the best yoke of work cattle, A. M.

Brumbeck took first premium on long wooled sheep and J. P. Boyer on fine

wooled W. Griswold won first on hogs and J. Willis on wagon and buckboard.

In the culinary department, Mrs. T. Weldin took first on preserves,

Mr. H. Willis on currant wine and jellies and Mrs. C. Sheets on loaf of


Interest in Auburn respecting municipal affairs was at low ebb.

Ordinances were not enforced nor regarded, and apathy prevailed. As

regarded growth, the place was stationary for the town’s finances had

become involved, and the funds were in a bankrupt condition. Both the

school funds, common and special had been overpaid and the balance of the

municipal revenue was but $1.74 with no statement nor knowledge of what

amount of debt was represented by outstanding orders.

Prof. Hodge desirous of teaching a spring term of select school as was

the custom of those teachers of but a year in Auburn, made application for

use of the school house.

The request was granted coupled with the condition that he pay a rent

of $15 to satisfy repairs made necessary. This unusual course gave rise to

divided opinions and adverse criticism. Notice was therefore given that

to test the views of the townspeople, signatures for free use of the

building were invited, and the vote being greatly in favor of such use,

established a consequent rule.

Mr. Hodge taught school at Le Raysville, Penn., where he became

acquainted with Miss Julia E. Mott, a student from Auburn at the eastern

seminary and to whom he was married on April 14, 1873, by Rev. Randall


He enlisted, but the rigors of army life were beyond his endurance and

he engaged in practice of law at Auburn in company with J.B. Morrison with

office in the new court house. Later he removed to Pierceton, where he

resumed teaching, and occupation for which by nature and education he was

admirably adapted and finally returning to Auburn, located upon a fine

tract of land, just north of the suburbs of the town and there died in

1889. While absent from Auburn, he also taught at Lagrange, Pierceton and

Warsaw. He had charge for a time at the last named place, of the

"Indianaian" newspaper.

Mr. Hodge was slight of form, refined in feature, exact in speech and

in the school room, an ideal teacher. Visiting the Auburn schools in

company with the writer, during the superintendence of Prof. M. B.

Harrison, he commented freely upon the conveniences and arrangements as

contrasted with his experience in the academy and congratulated him upon

the greater improvement evident.

In the fitness of things, Miss Julia Hodge, a talented and educated

daughter, after an interval of thirty years is the teacher of the upper

ward school in Auburn of today.

Following Prof. Hodge in the fall of 1861, came V. F. Wise, of Ft.

Wayne. The latter had taught in the Newville Academy and on Sept. 30,

opened a select school at Auburn in the school building, at which he

endeavored "to render satisfaction to all who were pleased to favor him

with their patronage" and he had some excellent students, among whom were

Solomon Barney and Harvey Widney, who were adepts in solving rapidly

formulated mental problems.

Prof. Frank Wise was regularly engaged for the winter term, the town’s

financial condition being no tuition tax levied, admitting no longer period

for this, and a number of succeeding, years.

Miss Lodema Tannehill, from Hicksville, Ohio, was teacher in the

grammar department.

The fact that Prof. Wise had the misfortune to be physically deformed,

weighed upon his sensitive and cultured mind and furnished occasion for a

true love story.

He had fallen in love with a talented and beautiful young lady in Ft.

Wayne. His regard for her was devoted and she reciprocated his affection.

Her parents respected him highly and received him kindly, but could not

consent to their union because of his affliction.

They persuaded her to accept another, and the day was set for the

marriage, but as the time drew near, her health had declined until her

life was despaired of, when her parent sent for Mr. Wise and assigned him

the happy task of winning her back to health.

Sometime later, a gentleman in a stylish carriage visited Auburn and

with him was a lady and it was said in reply to inquiry, "why, those are

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wise."

Under the law of 1861, the number of school examiners was reduced from

three, to one for each county; his term was extended to three years and he

was entitled to a fee of $1.00 for each applicant for license to teach.

Acting in accord with the statute, the board of commissioners, on June

4, appointed Rev. Edward Wright to fill this undervalued but important

office. This minister had been active in educational matters as well as

energetic in his more immediate church work and the appointment gratified

his many warm friends, not only because he was a worthy and deserving man

of comprehensive attainments and long experience as an educator but because

it was deemed just that he should enjoy what ever pecuniary benefits

accrued to the office to offset

a loss of support from a portion of his church on account of his strong

loyalty to the government. Mr. Wright brought order and system out of

confusion and chaos. He advertised and held public examinations during

November, at Moore’ Seminary at Waterloo, Faurot’s Academy at Neville,

Auburn Academy and at the school house at Spencerville.

Applicants were divided according to grade sought for, into two

classes. The lower grades were examined orally but those expecting license

in either of the two higher grades were expected to come provided with pen

and paper, to answer questions in writing. Friends of schools and the

public generally were welcome visitors at examinations.

He visited schools, conversed with teachers and encouraged their

attendance upon educational meetings. Miles J. Fletcher, state

superintendent of schools was invited to visit DeKalb county, and in

official capacity accepting, he came to Auburn on Monday , Nov. 11th, and

delivered a lecture at the court house to a small assembly of teachers on

the topic: "Education and Common School Instruction."

Teachers had been assured that "time taken from school in such cases

will not have to be made up by them," but apathy to instruction even from

the highest school officer, kept most in their school rooms, and the

character of their services was of a corresponding grade.

The town election this year was a farce as regarded one party which of

sixty-two votes cast but one. In the first ward for instance George

Keesler received fifty-seven votes and William Webster, one. S. B. Ward

was called to take charge of an empty treasury; W. H. Dills was chosen

clerk and John Moore became marshal.

The fall election in the county to fill the offices of treasurer and

commissioner was a democratic triumph. Alexander Provines incumbent

commissioner was beaten by John Brandon, and George Barney defeated Romeo

Catlin by a vote of 1249 to 881, giving Barney a majority of 368, or

double that known to have been previously attained by either party.

As a means of comparison, we give the vote for governor in 1860. Lane,

republican received 1516 and Hendricks, democrat, received 1372 votes.

Lane’s majority was 144.

The Era ascribed the result to popularity of the victors, while the

Press located the absent voters in the armies of the Union. The following

was the vote of townships:

Barney, Catlin,

Butler, 81 66

Jackson, 119 54

Concord, 188 66

Newville, 55 45

Stafford, 25 30

Wilmington, 59 80

Auburn Precinct 152 50

Waterloo Precinct 74 123

Richland, 185 109

Fairfield, 119 60

Smithfield, 83 51

Franklin, 80 88

Troy, 21 59



As these fragmentary reminiscences year by year approach the present,

they come within the residence period of larger numbers of our citizens

just as the record of the married, at first limited to a score or more of

pioneers who have aged and mostly departed to the better land, has

increased to hundreds, many of whom are living and busily engaged in

furthering private interest or are active in public life.

Forgotten happenings again grow familiar and sudden remembrance beings

back the absent and the dead to revive the sunlight in the home, fill the

vacant chair, restore the old business routine and rehabilitate the past.

The obscure Auburn of 1862, knew a history that will never be written

and passed through trials from which she has finally emerged as refined

metal from the crucible.

The town presented an appearance so all unlike the Auburn of 1892, that

it is a pleasure and a pride to follow the course of events through which

changes have come.

Newcomers of to-day enter at once upon enjoyment of actual comforts by

habits become necessities, which were unattainable luxuries in former

times, and both working an professional men in day’s wages, fees and

salaries, cannot realize the disproportion between labor and fit

compensation which characterized that period.

Compare the recorded salaries of teachers, ministers and officers,

together with the embarrassments of their environing with those of 1892,

and surprise must be blended with admiration, at their patience and


We are glad to know that the past cannot return, that the Auburn of

1862, is a memory and that as the Courier and Press in every regard far

excel the New Era and Press of that year, in like proportion do material

interests of the town preponderate the past.

Yet the people of Auburn, asked no sympathy, and were not despondent.

They made the most of their opportunities and looked hopefully forward.

The New Era voicing public sentiment said of the times: "Business wears

a pleasing countenance, Merchants, tradesmen and manufacturers of all

branches have promise of brisk and heavy trade. Many of our merchants are

already preparing for customary eastern visits and a general feeling of

confidence prevails with business men of all classes and heavy investments

are before our townspeople. The sound of the mechanic’s hammer and the

hum of machinery in the manufacturies, greet us again. Store houses and

ware rooms are being crowded with goods, wares and customers and prosperity

and happiness abound in every home in our village."

Joseph Loveland’s optimism was confirmed the reliable testimony of Mr.

Ralston who then said, "Never before in the history of our country has the

labor of the husbandman been more bountifully rewarded than in the present.

DeKalb county is behind no section in regard to crops and will in time be

known as the garden of Indiana."

If those who lived in Auburn three decades ago could write thus

hopefully what could truthfully be said of to-day? There are those who

decry existing conditions and imagine that life was not drawn on such hard

lines, that less was required to live, less demanded, and that society was

better and purer. It is a great mistake. Old times

were good for those who lived in them; but for us, today is better. No

matter how beautiful the past was, be very sure that could any one of us

be suddenly transformed into the midst of it, unless the experiences that

lie between the then and now could be blotted out of the memory, we should

find our joy-bells ringing very faintly.

There were heroine mothers, sister, wives and daughters and hero

fathers at home as well as heroes and patients in the field. It speaks

well for Auburn people, that they could be so hopeful with so little

material reason; that they so desired better privileges stands to their


Although proposed improvements were discussed, support was not

available; people as in the stage coach, could only go jogging along, ever

nearing the stir and action of to-day.

Even a part of the meager manufactures was destroyed. On Feb. 18 cries

of "fire, fire!" called out the people equipped in part with pails with

which to form lines form a convenient water supply, but their efforts were


A fire supposed to have been started by an incendiary had broken out in

Bolinger’s fanning mill factory, involving its destruction and causing a

loss to the owner of $800, with no insurance. It was said then and truly

that no town should be without an organized fire company. There was some

talk just after the fire, of forming such a company, but no action was

taken and matters progressed as they had done.

Religious interests remained stationary, possibly retrograded to some

extent in the churches. Rev. C. W. Lynch in the Methodist and Rev. E.

Wright in the Presbyterian church, zealously and eloquently championed

union and freedom, and the greater portion of church people were in hearty

and active sympathy with them. Although the Regular Baptist Society had

temporarily suspended, its future re-organization was insured by an

occasional called meeting of the faithful new members at the residence of

their minister, Rev. S. B. Ward.

Very little interest was taken in municipal election at which but

seventy votes were polled. Guy Plumb was elected clerk without competition,

James J. Latson was chosen town marshal and the board of trustees was

composed of Messrs. Ingarm, Griswold, Sprott, Hare and Spangler, of whom

but the last named survives. Mr. Spangler moved to his farm at Auburn

Junction, erected a fine dwelling, and, enjoying the material comforts

resulting from an active and well directed life of effort, quietly passes

the years away.

The financial condition of the town showed no signs of improvement.

The aggregate of taxation was light but the valuation returned by assessor

and assessed indicates a real or assessed depreciation of property, real

and personal.

The amount of revenue received for municipal purposes was but $216.11,

the expenditure was $104,87 and there was a balance of $111.24. the

special fund received was $231.23, which had been all paid out an still

left and indebtedness of $353.43, and the common school showed but $138.46

received and expended and the revenue from this sources, already

anticipated was expected to show a balance of $180.46.

There was no sale for real estate at most any price. An advertiser

describing lot No. 71, old plat said: "With fine dwelling, fruit trees and

shrubbery surrounding, a good store house, a building well calculated for

a business house and with the location, the best in the place, a bargain

is offered to a purchaser," but it was offered in vain. There were more

who wished to sell than to buy. Times have greatly changed since then,

when scarcity of buyers has veered around to lack of sellers and the

fortunate owner of a Main street lot can dictate his price, and find it

taken promptly.

In the day of small things an appropriation of $50 to repair the fence

enclosing the public square and to put an oak railing on the west and

north sides of the fence was deemed worthy of public mention. In the same

line was the order that a public well be dug, not driven for it was before

the days of the drive well and the subsequent robber royalty, at or near

the liberty pole on the public square an the further provision that the

well should be furnished with a good pump for the use of the community at


The old settlers will remember when hitching posts stood along the line

of the present gutter in front of the stores on the west facing the square

and the time is quite recent since, despite formidable opposition, posts

and pendant chain, wooden fence and plank walk disappeared from the west

and north side so the square to be superseded by broad cement walks and

gutter and lawn.

Soon the spirit of the times will make like changes about the east and

south sides of our beautiful public ground and ample, cheap and convenient

feed yard will accommodate all persons caring to have their horses safe and

comfortable during their stay in towns.

The weather during the spring of 1862 was variable, alternating between

warm and cold spells, bright sunshine and lowering clouds but no visits of

much needed rain and during this time there came upon the people, a new and

dangerous affection of the throat known then and since as diptheria which

baffled the skill of physicians, prevailed to an alarming extent through

towns and country and in some cases resulted fatally. The malady termed la

grippe beginning with a sore through akin to diphtheria and having origin

apparently in abnormally open winters has thrice been to the community a

later less dreaded abut nor general scourge.

Mention has been made of a liberty pole that long stood near the site

of the present town pump. The liberty pole originally surmounted with the

symbol of liberty, represented the party that in the American Revolution

favored independence for England, later, it was the flag staff in town and

city from which the stars and stripes floated, but this old institution as

incentive of patriotism ha shad its day. The present generation attaches

no greater meaning to the raising of a tamarack or hickory pole, than a

political preference in a spirited campaign.

Public attention was called to the Auburn brass band which under

instruction and lead of Prof. Charles Struby had reached a creditable

proficiency and, during the summer, had delighted the townspeople with

nocturnal serenades.

Auburn has had a number of fine bands which have each after a time

disbanded as members moved elsewhere, and have as often re-organized, but

the one formed in 1862, was probably the first in the town. Uniforms,

instruments and music with instructions are expensive and the pioneer band

aimed to maintain itself by furnishing music for gala days, concerts and

public occasion., The leader was in 1865, associated with Spencer Dills as

a teacher of music in the Auburn schools and on occasion of an exhibitions

given at the close of a successful term under management of Mrs. Vesta

Swarts, the novelty of a band was enjoyed.

As an attraction long since obsolete, the science of phrenology which

purported to reveal character by prominence or depression of the mapped

carnial surface, was in 1862, the hobby of a class among whom was a "Prof."

Flowers who lectured at Auburn and heightened curiosity by public, free

examinations of selected persons from the audience.

Other from time to time years ago, women as well as men, have followed

Mr. Flowers and while few believed, many enjoyed impromptu delineation of

assumed strong an weak traits of owners of heads examined.

It was when Engelbert Ashley was engaged in the manufacture of his

good, substantial wagons that the well known and capable firm of Canon &

Steele had headquarters in rooms over his shop.

These parties came from Ft. Wayne to Auburn and by faithful attention

to business established a fine reputation as painters and paper hangers

and caused many a weather worn building to wear a brighter look.

Mr. E. E. Bodine engaged in the business of millinery and mantau making

at her residence then one door south of the Weaver house and in a small

way continued with success till such time as town growth called for a

larger establishment when stores like that of Harter & Co, Schaab Bros.

Mrs. Jones & Son and that of Cowan Sisters supplied Auburn and the

territory surrounding with fine grades of fashionable ladies goods.

John Butt, late in December, had sold the DeKalb saloon to Eldridge and

now tin 1862, as host of the Weaver House ran a hack to and from Ft. Wayne

at a fare of $1.00 a trip, alternating every other day with a similar

conveyance owned by S. D. Long of the Auburn House.

In the absence of bank facilities at Auburn, the former attended to

express and banking business, which was conducted with offices, and bank

at Fort Wayne and the latter, on contract carried the mail over the same


In March, Mr. Dickinson retired form the conduct of the Waterloo Press

and was succeeded by J. F. Radcliffe, formerly as foreman in the office

and the sheet was small in size and limited in home news, while editing

and publishing a paper in Auburn seemed to be done on hard lines of

existence, since the New Era, small as it had been, was reduced to a half

sheet and occasionally missed and issue altogether.

It was stated in a copy of the Press in 1862, that Wm. R. McAnally

living one and a half miles east of Waterloo had built a cooper shop and

resumed work at his trade. He claimed to have built the first cooper shop

in DeKalb county "down in old Butler township near Judge Work’s, in 1840

and many old settlers, customers, had barrels yet in use which he had made

for them twenty year ago." It is possible that even at this date, a barrel

or two might be found in the cellar of some old settler, of McAnally’s make,

lasting like the good deacon’s wonderful one-hoss shay.

Charles Klotz, once a prosperous and popular tailor in Auburn, years ago

removed and scarcely remembered, came in 1862 from Philadelphia to this

town and was for a time in the employ of Messrs. Steifel & Wolf. He

later went into business on his own account, and did well until seeking to

enlarge his trade, he moved away his old frame building to the south end,

and built a brick store which long bore his name in gilt and served as a


Henry Wolf and Robert B. Showers were also new residents. Wolf was a

member of Co. A., 100th Ind., and had a trying experience in Andersonville

prison. He is best known as a leader in martial music and his drum corps

was a feature of soldiers’ gatherings and political campaigns.

Mr. Showers, an old settler in the county, having located at Auburn, in

1862, has continually resided in his home on South Cedar street till the

present. In all these yeas he has been a manufacturer of brooms of

excellent quality, which find ready sale at home. It is a familiar sight

to observe him with a dozen brooms fresh from the shop, borne on his

shoulder, on his way up towns to market them. He has seen broom factories

start, flourish and go into bankruptcy while quietly continuing his hand

work, He is one of the few ho mind their own business, and, save when a

public sale requires his services as auctioneer, his garden in summer and

his shop in winter occupy his time.

Thirty years ago, the holding of court at the county seat differed

greatly from the present, and there is still little in common. Then the

old settlers looked forward to the term as a time when they could meet

perhaps as grand and petit

Jurors, and talk over the doings of an olden time, and as spectators or

interested parties, listen to the proceedings and enjoy arguments of

counsel. But the pioneers who yet remain, incapacitated for travel by age

and infirmity, come no more to the court house, and sessions of court,

frequent, irregular and protracted, are troubled by few visitors, and

jurors are drawn from the ranks of a younger class of men.

It was still before the present court house had been contemplated, and

a dingy building with its old style Corinthian pillars yet served as an

arena for legal controversies while its scant dimensions were supplemented

by out-lying offices on the public square, and the shabby old jail was a

fit consort to the ancient temple of justice.

Two courts were held, the one known as circuit, because as now, the

judge held court in regular sequence in the counties composing the circuit,

and the other was the court of common pleas.

Judge E. R. Wilson presided over the former and Judge Wm. M. Clapp over

the latter, while J. W. Cummings, the prosecuting attorney has left an

honorable record as having conducted that ill-required office with ability

and energy. The docket of the January term was unusually heavy and much

business was transacted.

John Ralston was clerk, and with him James B. Morrison had his office

to mutual advantage, the one furnishing quarters, the other convenient to

those in quest of legal assistance.

In the office with George Barney, the county treasurer, was James

Brinkerhoff claim agent, and W. H. Dills was co-partner with John Morris,

the one residing at Auburn, the other as now living at Fort Wayne.

Judge Mott, had taken his son Sheridan E. Mott into partnership under

the firm name of E. B.& S. E. Mott, to practice law. Abner F. Pincin, one

of the oldest resident practitioners in the county, and for many years a

citizen of our sister town Butler, was located at Hamilton, Steuben county.

Albert J. Hunt was Auditor while his energetic young predecessor, Mr.

Pierce, was testing the financial possibilities of a country town’s drug

store, undismayed by previous failures. Mr. Hunt died in the fall and at

a special term of the county commissioners, held on Sept, 26, Joel E.

Hendricks comes once more into public view as appointee to the office for

a brief period before the election and qualifying of George Kuhlman.

Samuel W. Widney was recorder, Henry Willis as coroner was in the line

of promotion for sheriff, which office he later filled; and Manius

Buchanan held the position of surveyor, an office then as unremunerative

as now unpopular. Mr. Buchanan served as an officer in a company later

raised in the county, and on his discharge went to the far west and tool

up a home in the forests of Oregon, where he still lives. About two years

ago, he revisited DeKalb county, renewed acquaintances with many former

friends in Auburn, and at St. Joe met in pleasant reunion, former


The county commissioners in March 1862, were David Buchanan, Henry

Fusselman and John Brandon, whose time was partially occupied with matters

growing out of the existing war.

The finances were in good condition, since the June report gave

collections for county revenues $28,425.61, expenditures, $24,311.48,

leaving a balance of $4,114.13. The county levy was placed at 40 cents on

each $100 valuation, the same as for the year of 1891, but increased values

insures a large sum counteracting early and late growing expenditures.

Examiner Wright continued good work in the line of his bi-fold duties.

He gave his Sabbath to his ministerial calling and week days to the schools,

visiting them, holding institutes, examining teachers and creating an

interest in education that continued and augmented in later years.

He supplemented his tireless efforts by issuing a printed circular in

which he stated that: "the state of public education in DeKalb county is

still too low. Both people and teachers need to form a more exalted

estimate of the importance of public instructions."

He recommended that "the sacred Scriptures be daily read in our public

schools as a help to moral instruction, since if in prisons, camps and on

ships, chaplains were desirable, so much more appropriate was such

recognition of a Supreme Being in schools.

He suggested attendance at normal schools and urged the taking of

standard educational publications by teachers. His suggestions were

measurably seconded and the Indiana School Journal long thereafter enjoyed

an extensive circulation in consequence.

It is safe to affirm that no successor, however energetic has done more

work with less compensation that did examiner Wright. At the close of his

first year he presented his statement of service to the county

commissioners at regular session. The report was accepted and it was

ordered that he be paid for such services as county examiner, the sum of

$100 out of the special fund of the various townships and towns.

Auburn’s apportionment in this connection amounted to $3.26, not enough

to pay for a single day’s salary of the county superintendent as now fixed

by statute.

Thankful for any aid how ever slight, Rev. Wright received from the

county an appropriation of $20 to apply upon payment of lecturers hired

for the teachers’ annual institute, which in 1862, was held during the

first week of December in the Newville academy.

The Auburn Union school at this time was attended by many who have

reflected credit upon their county and who are now active in business here

and elsewhere.

S. W. Sprott was the director and is said to have been very attentive

and efficient in looking after the interests of the school.

The school trustee employed James E. Rose, of Stafford township, as

superintendent and he was assisted by Hadessa J. George, now Mrs. A. J.

Ralston, teacher of the grammar department, Henry C. Coats, teacher of

penmanship, Mrs. Emma Ewan, now Mrs. Phil Plum teacher of the intermediate

and Mrs. Helen Alling of the primary department.

The attendance was about three hundred in all grades. Every township in

the county except Fairfield, was represented by one or more students for

the High school course.

Among these were Albert Robbins, and Mrs. Anna Robbins, now deceased.

M. F. Long of Butler, Mrs. Mary Ehlers, Henry Mader, Mrs. Rachel Henderson

of Spencerville, Mrs. Jennie Crooks nee Emerson, of Kansas, Rev. Harvey

Widney, who was drowned in Lake Minnetonka, Minn., and Isaac M. Thomas of

Jackson township

Mr. Rose now a prominent attorney at the county seat, then the

superintendent of the school, was a pioneer teacher in DeKalb county.

He came to this county with his father’s family in October, 1836, being

about four years of age and attended the first school taught in the county.

The teacher was Miss Emily Handy who is now the wife of Isaac Eakright,

living in Northern Michigan.

Mr. Rose commenced teaching in the common schools of the county in 1850

and subsequently taught in Ohio and in Michigan. Later, he attended

Michigan Wesleyan University at Leoni as a preparatory student, entered

college and on completing the junior year returned home where he farmed

summers and taught winters until October, 1862 when he removed to Auburn

and took charge of the schools as stated.

The teachers are said to have been zealous and untiring in their

efforts to advance the school and cheering progress was made by students.

Regular attendance was good and a vacant seat in the school room was


Meanwhile the tremendous proportions of the war for the Union began to

be fully realized. The deadly character of the struggled with all its

suffering and loss of life and health come home to the hearts of the

people as the months of anxious suspense crept by.

The volunteers from Auburn and from DeKalb county had been subjected to

trying exposure of severe winter weather and to the stern ordeal of battle

and they came through with honors. Letters from soldiers in the camps,

portrayed the field of Donelson. They spoke of the clamor and excitement

of the fight, the honors of the battle ground and of the memorable bivouac

of the thousands who sank to rest to be blanketed by the gentle falling


They told of the supreme joy in victory followed by terrible

sufferings of jaded sick men crowded for days on filthy transports with

mules and masses of baggage and no surgeon to minister to their great


Then those Auburn boy grew enthuiastic an brought pleasure to the home

circles, as they told of standing upon decks and seeing the army moving up

the river to Pittsburg Landing, an immense armada of steamboats sweeping

two by two majestically on their war like mission.

With the early days of April came news of Shiloh’s bloody battle, and

conspicuous in bravery were the volunteers from this county. From that

Alcedama came up a great cry for help, and the response under the loyal,

masterful lead of Oliver P. Morton, Indiana’s war governor, was prompt and

generous here as elsewhere throughout our state.

At Auburn, April 16th, a special session of the Board of county

commissioners was convened to supplement the aid authorized to families of

volunteers with and appropriation to assist in bringing home and caring

for such wounded and sick soldiers of this county as might need assistance.

An order was made for $200, but, for some cause was rescinded at regular

session, but her people promptly and cheerfully resumed the noble duty an

soon a number of the boys had been furloughed home and were being tenderly

cared for.

The crimson clouds of war lowering heavily over the swamps of the

Chickahominy and the blue glass region of Kentucky swept like cyclones

northward during the closing days of summer and called for heavy

reinforcements to check the veterans of Lee and Bragg.

Stirring war meetings were held at Auburn, Waterloo, and Newville and

elsewhere amidst great enthusiasm and unanimity of sentiment. Recruiting

was stimulated by appeals to patriotism and money was freely given to

provide a volunteer bounty fund and for support of soldiers’ families

during absence of their dependence.

Pursuant to notice from the auditor to the county commissioners, a

special meeting was called to consider measures needed to forward

enlistments in the regular service of the United States and it was

ordered "that each volunteer under the present call of the president who

shall enlist in and infantry company, or a fractional company to be

organized in this county or to help fill up companies from this county,

now in organized regiments or in cavalry or artillery service shall be

allowed $25, bounty on muster into United States service, " but later is

was ordered that no warrant be issued to any volunteer till the September


To provide means to pay the proposed bounty, it was ordered that any

person or persons who would loan the county the sum of $4,000, should

take therefore the treasurer’s receipt and present the same to the county

auditor who would issue to him or them, county orders for the amount so

loaned. A sum somewhat less than that specified was so advanced and by

the county commissioners paid out on account of the volunteers fund.

Undaunted by the horrors of war, knowing that they took even chances

with death, recruits came forward in large numbers and Auburn together

with other localities in the county had soon raised her quota of

volunteers form among her bravest and most estimable young men.

A company recruited almost exclusively in the town of Waterloo and a

second principally from Newville with some from Jarvis and Auburn were on

Aug. 29th, mustered into service as companies A, and H. of the 88th Indiana

Infantry and sent of Louisville, Ky.

Meanwhile Marquis L. Rhodes using his little red brick store on the

southeast corner of Main and Ninth streets as a recruiting office,

speedily raised a full company from the young men of the town and

vicinity. With him as their captain, they were mustered into service as

Co. A. 100th I. V. I. on Sept. 10th at Ft. Wayne, and a month later left

for Memphis, Tenn.

With this regiment went Rev. Charles A. Munn as chaplain commissioned,

Nov, 8, and David J. Swarts as assistant surgeon. The former resigned Aug.

10, 1863, the latter served with his command through all its trying and

honorable experience till its final musters out.

During its service, company A, had five captains as follows: Captain

Rhodes, a brave and meritorious officer who though young had become well

known as an upright, energetic business man. For eight years he had lived

at Auburn engaged in mercantile pursuits and had fully identified himself

with the history of the town and the county. Responding as we have seen

to the call of his country, he gave up his business, received his

commission, recruited his company and led it to the field. He died at

Memphis, Tenn, on Dec. 10, 1862, in his twenty-eighth year, leaving a wife

and two children. His remains were brought home and buried with Masonic

honors at Spencerville. An attendance at the funeral of nearly a thousand

person, attested public esteem for his manly character.

Ezra D. Hartman was commissioned captain on

Dec. 11, 1862, and as such served until Nov. 6, 1863, when he was honorably

discharged. At time of enlistment, Captain Hartman was student at law in

Waterloo and on his return resumed the practice of his profession. He

served as representative for this county, was prosecuting attorney on this

judicial circuit and for a time was associated with J. E. Rose as the firm

of Rose & Hartman. He is at present resident of Auburn, and experienced

attorney and enjoys the respect of the community at large.

Lucius Barney succeeded Hartman in command and resigning Aug. 12, 1864,

was followed by John H. Moore who dying of wounds received in action during

the Atlanta campaign, on Oct. 1, 1864 was succeeded by Eli J. Sherlock,

who was mustered out with his regiment. The three living ex-captains were

present at the annual reunion of the 100th Indiana, held at the Opera House

in Auburn on Oct. 14, 1891.

The first military burial known to the citizens of Auburn was the

funeral of Daniel W. Squires of Co. K., 44th Ind. He died at his home in

Butler township, and was interred with the honors of war in the old


In addition to those named, a company had been raised for the 74th

Ind., in this county and many recruits had joined regiments in the field,

so that by the middle of August, four full companies had been organized

and not less than five hundred volunteers had gone to the front from

DeKalb county.

Again the patriot pulse beat high and strong but along the cold, dark

days of December sorrow and disappointment settled heavily upon a myriad

of homes as news came of the terrible fight in the cedar thickets of Stone

River and of the shot swept slopes of Marye’s Hights thickly strewn with

thousands of our boys wounded and slain. Then Abraham Lincoln proclaimed

that slavery must go, and from Jan. 1, 1863, the armies of the Union had a

mission and thenceforth marched to victory.



A quiet, slow-moving, country town was Auburn in 1863. Had a census

been taken, it would have disclosed a diminished population consequent to

enlistment’s in the service and migrations to Waterloo, which town from

it date of its origin had rapidly become the metropolis of the county

through the activity of its business men backed by the market created

through the construction and profitable operation of the Air Line


Jarvis, that coming town eastward was attracting attention with its

market. Newville and Spencerville were in their zenith while Auburn was

decidedly dull. Those endeavoring to dispose of their property were

willing the take most any price. Though desirous for trying their fortunes

elsewhere, they could not sell.

In the course of time, it appears that the fortunate ones were those who

willing or unwilling held on, although there was little in prospect to

inspire cheerfulness.

As the years wore away the certainty of a permanent and valuable public

improvement instilled a little life into the drowsy town and created a

preceptible ripple of prosperity.

Yet if the material interests of Auburn were to be estimated by the

condition of its one poor little newspaper, the conclusion is inevitable

that the town had fallen upon hard times. High price of paper and other

material, limited patronage and subscribers in arrears combined to render

the very existence of the New Era uncertain.

In vain Mr. Loveland sought relief from his wearisome and profitless

task by attempted disposal of hie paper by rent or sale. In vain, he

stated that: "Any industrious, practical printer of ordinary business tact

could procure a good living from its earnings." His urgency to sellout was

proof positive to the contrary.

On the other hand, T.Y. Dickinson publisher and proprietor of the

Waterloo City Press having run the paper for two years reduced in size, in

November greatly enlarged the sheet and made marked improvements,

indicative of village growth and business prosperity.

At this time Messrs Kimsey and Bromagem were both volunteers in the

army of the Cumberland. The gallant 44th Indiana after two years of active

service, was detailed as provost guard at Chattanooga, Tenn.

There one November day, W. T. Kimsey, of this regiment, was surprised

by a call for his brother typo James M. Bromagem, who true to spirit of

his profession was then editing a spicy and staunch war journal christened

"The Army Bulletin," at Winchester, Tenn., and who later continued its

publication at Chattanooga.

No one better than the soldier could have appreciated the benefit of

such a paper in the camps and it is to his credit that it gave good

satisfaction wherever it circulated in the army.

During this year, James I. Best and Charles A. O. McClellan, rising

young men became associated as law partners with office at Waterloo City.

This firm became conspicuous for legal acumen, their clientage was large,

their success in proportion, and their subsequent history reveals a

prestige ably maintained.

Mr. McClellan had together with E. B. Gerber engaged in the enterprise

of compiling and publishing a wall map of the lands and lots in DeKalb


This needed work was faithfully and accurately done as can be seen by

any one who cares to inspect a map still hanging in place in the county

treasurer’s office in the court house. It was for years, in use for

frequent reference and was authority on roads, farm lands and land


A startling but no doubt reliable statement was made by Mr. McClellan,

in this connection that: "There are 55,000 acres of land in this county to

which there is an imperfect title." Carelessness and incompetence of

conveyancer and negligence in recording deeds has clouded the title to

many a farm and town lot which is unpleasantly learned only when a school

or insurance mortgage is to be given or sale perfected.

At the municipal election at Auburn held in May but eighty-eight votes

were cast. Among once familiar names are those, of Henry Altenberg,

Alexander Cannon, John Whittington and Abraham Zern. Mr. Altenberg was an

enthusiastic Unionist, served in the 19th Ind. was a town official in

various capacities after the war, performed the duties of postal agent

with credit, went west for a time, but suffering from a cancer, returned

to Auburn for treatment which proved ineffectual and he died. His social

qualities endeared him to many and his funeral at the M. E. church

conducted by the I.O. O. F., of which he was a member, was largely


Mr. Cannon a man advanced in years related by marriage to the Gloyd’s

of Allen county was employed by Henry Willis during his term as sheriff,

as jailor, and died years ago.

Mr. Whittington resided in the house now owned by A., P. Green on lot

122, O. P. to which it was moved by Dr. William S. Allen, who built upon

its former site the fine commodious brick residence on South Main street

since made his home. Mr. Whittington sold, removed and died, leaving a

widow and a son. Mrs. Whittington during a comparitively recent visit to

Auburn expressed the heartfelt sentiment of many who from time to time

have left our town, in her deep regret that she had ever moved from this


Mr. Zern occupied a lot on Jackson street, now covered by an extension

of the Kiblinger Carriage Works, ran a shoe shop in a building once well

known as an old jail, sold out and removed to St. Joe where he still

lives, a quiet worthy man.

The vote at the election was 56 to 32 and was cast on strict party

lines for during this period, political sentiments were intensely radical

and the ballot was a trail of strength and an expression of position.

Straight tickets were the rule and party was stronger than personality.

The larger vote represented democracy, the smaller republicanism although

each went by other names

Messrs Miller, Fluke and Larimore were elected school trustees, Joseph

Stiefel town treasurer and A. J. Ralston marshal.

During the trustees’ term ended, there had been few meetings of the

town board all of whom were re elected. Little business had come before

them and their salaries were but $7 each. Some orders had been paid during

the fiscal year, and there was about 38 cents in the treasury.

The old cemetery no longer sufficed for public need and the demand for

a new burial ground became pressing. To provide for this necessity, Thomas

D. Gross was appointed to ascertain on what terms eight lots situated

across the road north of the old grave yard, could be purchased, He was

offered four lots for $400. The land was surveyed by Geo. W. Weeks on Aug.

15, and C. S. Hare owner was authorized on delivery of a deed to receive a

warrant on the town for $385.

The vexations question which has generally arisen in most localities

regarding the use of school houses for other than school purpose

confronted the board who under a suggestion made by W. Griswold, by a

unanimous vote decided that they had no jurisdiction in the case.

The law wisely charges the trustee with location, construction and

control of school buildings and all authority otherwise is temporarily

delegated by him.

Every locality has its transient or permanent queer ones. Of the former

class to Auburn there came periodically a man advanced in years, of

distinguished bearing, wearing a profusion of long hair spread over

massive shoulders, kindly spoken to children, and courteous to women.

Impressive in manner, grandiloquent in speech,

he attracted public attention and a good sized audience got to hear him

lecture at the court house of an evening on the subject of "Truth and the

Union." His name was J. N. Free and little else is know of him. The

Immortal J. N., as he is called made occasional visits here till about

five yeas ago, since which date we have heard little of him.

Henry Bruentz, a home character, was once a familiar figure on our

streets, the delight of the boys and enigma to men. He emigrated form

Germany in the early 50’s with parents, brothers, sisters and a

sweetheart, a hopeful and happy family expecting to make their fortunes in

America. The cholera broke out on ship load and of all, Brentz and sister,

only survived. His mind affected, he came to DeKalb, acquired a piece of

land and has been a resident since. His visits to town have grown less

frequent of late, his steps are feeble and he will soon cease to be known,

save as a chance copy of this COURIER is preserved.

There are many costly, imposing and ornamental public buildings at the

county seats of this state, but there are few better arranged internally

for the comfort of officials and the convenience of the public than is our

present court house which dates its origin in 1863.

On April 20th, the commissioners met to select plans and specification

for the building of a new court house.

Plans were drawn by Alpheus Wheelock and William Valleau, which were

accepted by Samuel W. Sprott and Ephraim Berry. The committee appointed

by the board compared such plans as might be presented, in response to

public notice by the auditor, of the proposed building.

The lowest bidder was William Lowrey of Auburn, who, however having

withdrawn his bid before its acceptance the contract for furnishing

material and erecting the court house was awarded to A. Wheelock, W.

Valleau and John McKay, these parties being the next lowest bidders.

The proposed structure being designed to stand on ground occupied by

the old house, W. Valleau accepted and executed the job of removing the


The contract price for he new court house was $23,372.00 to be paid

one-half cash and one-half county orders, in monthly installments not to

exceed 80 per cent, of estimated work done. No additions to increase

contract price sought be made except as presented in writing and approved

by the county commissioners who were to superintend the work.

To be prepared for emergencies retaining fees were paid to James B.

Morrison, William H. Dills, John Morris and Andrew Ellison. Their

services were not needed.

Th contract required that the stone work five feet form the ground

should be done by Nov. 1st, following and the court house to be finished

by Dec. 1, 1864.

A bond for faithful performance of the contract in the sum of $10,000.00

was signed by S. W. Sprott, J. J. Davis, J.N. Miller, J. R. Cosper and

John Ralston.

The work was let June 4th, and a few days thereafter D. J. Silvers of

Forth Wayne purchased the interest of Messrs Valleau and McKay and took

upon himself their portion of the contract, to execute.

Within a week, Woodbury farm, which lies about three-fourths of a mile

east from the town, then owned by Mrs., Rosa Saxton, was purchased and the

making of brick commenced.

By the first of July, the stone for the foundation was on the ground

and the foundation pits had been excavated.

There being insufficient funds in the treasury to pay expected

estimates, the commissioners at their September session, authorized John

Braden and S. W. Sprott, the building committee to act as agents for the

county to borrow $10,000 and the bonds of the county were to be issued

therefore. There bonds were to be payable in five years with right of

redemption any time before maturity.

There had been to the amount of $4,695.78 loaned through the building

committee to the county and persons holding warrants for this cash

advanced, were given the option of having them refunded in bonds provided

they would accept them at no greater discount than three percent.

On September 10th, the foundations were completed and on that day, the

corner stone on the northeast of the foundation, was laid with Masonic

ceremonies. S. D. Bayless, of Ft. Wayne, Past. G. M. of the state

officiated and the Hon. Chas. Case, later colonel of the 129th Indiana

delivered an oration.

Proceedings were further increased in interest by the presentation of a

silk flag to the Auburn Brass Band by Auburn ladies in a brief speech by

one of their number

The history of county officials records the death of several of them

during their term. Henry Fusselman of the board of county commissioners

died on Feb. 27th, at the age of 48 years. He had emigrated form Trumbull

county, Ohio, to DeKalb county when the latter was nearly an unbroken

wilderness, and till his demise was intimately connected with the history

of its rise and progress. At this house in Stafford township,

the first church was organized, and he was spoken, of as a man "whose

character was marked by manly sincerity and excellent judgement."

Amzi Seeley was appointed to filled the temporary vacancy and at the

October election he was regularly selected commissioner by a majority of

eighteen votes. At the same time Moses Gonser was elected to the same

office by but two majority.

At this election held Oct. 13, 2,793 votes were cast in the county.

John Ralston was elected clerk; George Barney, treasurer, and David

Eberly, surveyor, by majorities of 28, 2 and 9 respectively. The vote for

recorder was a tie between John Butt and George R. Hoffman. The vote of

Auburn precinct was 160 democratic to 94 republican.

Prior to election of Eberly as surveyor, Altenburg had resigned and

Spencer Dills was appointed to full the vacancy. Mr. Dills as will appear

was destined to later take a leading part in education as a teacher in the

Auburn and other schools, and as county examiner.

A. Knott was at this time superintendent of the Poor Farm and Dr.

George Kessler was the physician chosen to prescribe for the inmates.

Matters were stagnant in Auburn from a building or business standpoint.

There was nothing of moment transpiring in the narrow circle of country

trading and the dissolution of the partnership of Messrs Stiefel & Wolf

which took place in July, resulted in the former continuing in trade on

his own account in the well known drugstore stand from which Mr. Pierce

had retired satisfied with his experience.

During the spring, farmers from townships south, in considerable

numbers passed northward along Main street with wagons freighted with

grain which they were taking to Waterloo City where they found a good

market and as a consequence bought much of their dry goods and groceries.

It was discouraging but without remedy and Auburn could only rest

passive and bide her time

The crops this year were excellent and the yield of wheat had been

heavy. The Hales paid $1.00 and over per bushel and their store was

thronged with customers.

The singular phenomenon of sharp frosts in the month of July and the

early part of September, was presented although unattended by disaster

except in the case of R. Johnson of Union township who had thirty acres of

corn destroyed.

The DeKalb county fair advertised its existence by a two days exhibition

in October with moderate attendance and the usual entries. J. E. Rose was

secretary and W. Griswold continued to act as president.

Although cast into the shade by the more elaborate later fairs, it was

not without its influence upon the fortunes of Auburn as well as precursor

of the Waterloo Fair.

Examiner Wright faithfully continued his unrecorded school work, and

again payment of services by trustees from the special school fund fell

below $200.

The winter term of the Auburn Union school closed on March 20th, and the

state of the school was reputed excellent. The attendance was upwards of

200 in all grades during the term and the public in general was satisfied.

The retiring principal, Prof. James E. Rose was spoken of editorially

in the New Era as: "A ripe scholar and a thorough disciplinarian," and he

was said to have earned and won the good opinion of his students and that

of the patrons of the school.

As customary, a select term was opened by Mrs. Vesta M. Swarts, on April

20. Herself an experienced teacher familiar by long association as an

instructor in the schools of the town, she procured competent assistants

and so well pleased were the townspeople with her conduct of the school,

that she was engaged by the school board as principal for the fall and

winter term.

It cannot be gainsaid that under he management the school had no equal

elsewhere in the county and both the equality of instruction and character

of students united to justify the school board in their choice of a


Interest in the varying fortunes of the war was intense. News from the

front, "grapevine," and authentic, was eagerly caught up and repeated

everywhere. On the street, in the workshop, office and store, at home and

abroad, army events were subject of discussion. More than a thousand men,

a full regiment in numbers were in the ranks from DeKalb county and the

town of Auburn had its quota there too.

Newspapers contained little save letters from soldiers, summaries of

war news, proclamations, speeches and resolutions passed at war meetings.

These meetings were the vent of popular feeling; they were held in all

parts of the county, attendance was full, orations were fervid and

resolutions, many and lengthy were passed without dissent.

On Feb. 20, such a meeting was held in the M. E. church at Auburn. It

was called to order by Rev. S. W. Widney, and Capt. L. J. Blair, of the

88th Ind., was chosen to preside. A dozen soldiers, principally of the

30th and 44th Ind., were named as vice presidents.

No meeting was satisfactory without resolutions and this essential was

provided for by appointment of a committee consisting of Messrs

Chamberlain, Widney and McCune. The speech on this occasion was delivered

by W. S. Smith, of Ft. Wayne.

Shortly following, an enthusiastic war meeting was held in Jackson

township, at the swamp meeting house in the Freeman neighborhood,

Alexander Provines was chairman and Hon. Henry Feagler, John Stoner and

Rev. S. W. Widney were committee on resolutions., These men made their

task easy by harmonious adopting of those formulated at the Auburn


Rev. Littlejohn opened the meeting with prayer

and subsequently entertained the assembly in an able and eccentric speech,

characteristic of this plain spoken and sensational old-time preacher.

A letter was read from a volunteer in the army to his father Rev. A.

Penland, who died Dec. 16, 1891, aged 81, at Ft. Wayne. There was an

element of the pathetic in the later vicissitude, destitution and poverty

of the old man, friendless, homeless, save the asylum provided by the


The action of individuals and organizations was heartily seconded by

substantial aid from the county, and by June 1, the expenditure through

warrants on the treasury in bounties to volunteers and aid to their

families was upward of $8,000.

Petitions for an equalization of bounties to include those first

enlisted as well as those later, were circulated and generally signed.

Despite the great number of enlistments from this county, tremendous

losses from disease, exposure and casualties called for yet more men to

fill the depleted ranks, and as a pause in volunteering suggested its

possible limit, a law had been passed requiring an enrollment of the

militia that by possible draft an equitable selection should determine the


By June, the law was operative an the enrolling officers of DeKalb

county were Joseph Johnson, Henry Willis, George R. Hoffman, Samuel

George, Alpheus Wheelock, Cyrus Hawley, William R. Emerson, J. B.

Hubbell and W. C. Roberts.

Register of names of all liable to military duty having been perfected,

the number in the first class was found to be 1382.

It is to presumed that all citizens were patriotic and loved their

country, but extremists existed in large numbers. Dissatisfaction with war

measures became intensified by the enrollment and organizations were

formed looking towards preventing its execution.

An incident happening in Auburn, one day strained the situation and

gave ominous signs of coming trouble. Sergeant Weldon of the 30th Ind.,

home on a furlough, tore a butternut badge from the wearer and an angry

crowd of sympathizers gathered to take the soldier into custody, but as it

happily chanced, Capt. Latta, deputy provost marshal of this district, was

in town, took Weldon in charge an conveyed him to Kendallville, whence he

departed and rejoined his command in Tennessee.

Excitement increased when it was known that on the night of August 17,

this same Captain Latta, while proceeding to arrest a deserter named Odell

at the house of his mother in Fairfield township, had been shot dead by

the soldier who had then fled and escaped a hot pursuit. (An article

treating more fully on the killing of Latta, will appear next week.





A Bit of DeKalb County’s War History

The allusion near the close of Mr. McIntosh’s last weeks article

"Auburn and Vicinity," to the killing of Latta in 1863 while attempting to

arrest a man in Fairfield township, calls up a bit of our history which

though once painfully familiar is now nearly forgotten and many of the

present generation never heard it. For the benefit of its thousands of

readers, the Courier now, gives a full account of the unfortunate affair,

and we believe it is the first time it has ever been given. Knowing that

C. P. Houser of this place, formerly publisher of the Dispatch, had some

personal knowledge of the matter, and that John Treesh, who was for

several years marshal of the town of Auburn, had for many years owned the

place where the killing took place, we interviewed both gentlemen and from

them secured most of the facts that we now present.

In 1863 Mr. Houser, then quite a young man, resided with his parents in

Fairfield township, a mile or so east of the Center. The war was at its

heighth, and Fairfield had sent into the service, nearly every available

man. Among those in the service was James Odell, son of a widow, who lived

on a farm across the road south from the old Buchanan homestead, a mile

north and about a mile west of Sedan. Latta, the man who was killed was

at this time in the service of the government as assistant provost-marshal.

Some of the duties of this office were the arrest and return into the

service of any deserter who might be found in the territory under his

control, as well as the apprehension of such disloyal persons, as might be

considered dangerous, such as those who tried to prevent enlistment or who

encouraged deserters. Latta had a bad reputation to begin with, and this

made his work all the more disagreeable to the people. He had, whether

justly or not, we cannot say, the reputation of being connected with the

gang of horse thieves, counterfeiters, etc., that had for years infested

Noble and adjoining counties. D. Z. Hoffman, of this place, who describes

him as a man of great strength, remembers him well, having seen him often.

He says that at the spring election that year in Butler township, he, Mr.

H., was trustee, and therefore inspector, and that Latta came there and

voted over the protest of the election board, as they believed he had a

vote only in Swan, Noble county. Next day, Hoffman and others went over to

Swan, and inspected the poll book, but not finding Latta’s name, concluded

he had voted but once, and let the matter drop. In Auburn, 1863, Latta was

very active in looking up deserters and such. On one of his trips into

DeKalb county he formed the acquaintance of Mr. Houser and eventually

suggested it would be a nice thing to get up a party and have a dance at

some convenient place. This was about a week or ten days before the murder.

Mr. Houser, not knowing Latta’s purpose, agreed to get up the party, an so

had a number of young people invited to meet at the home of Wm. Wert, a

mile east of the Center, on Monday evening, August 17. Lattta came with

the rest, coming over from headquarters at Kendallville, having a woman in

the buggy with him. It was learned later that she was one of the tough

characters that swarmed about the then military headquarters at

Kendallville. It would appear that Latta’s plan was to get a number of

people of that neighborhood together, believing that among them would be

James Odell, who he claimed was a deserter, and a man named Hewitt, who

had, as he believed, been advising men to desert, or at least, not to

enlist. Latta would get a bounty for the arrest of all such. Mr. Houser,

however, knew nothing of the plan. Supposing the party to be what he had

intended, he borrowed Latta’s buggy to go after a girl near by, and on his

return found the party broke up and nothing doing in that line, and Latta

had Hewitt handcuffed. The people soon dispersed, and not knowing anything

more was going forward, Mr. Houser and another young man went off together,

helped themselves to a neighbor’s melons, and about 2 a.m. were at home in

bed. Latta, however, with his prisoner and the woman, had gone down to

old Mr. Buchanan’s where he left the rig, prisoner and woman, and proceeded

alone, across the road, to arrest Odell. He knocked at the door and Mrs.

Odell got up, lighted a lamp, and without dressing asked what was wanted.

Latta asked if "Jim" was at home, and was told he was. He told her to have

him get up and come out as he wanted to see him. As Mrs. Odell hesitated,

Latta broke open the door, forced his way into the house, and started for

the stairway, as Mrs. Odell had told him her son was upstairs. Odell

himself had heard the trouble, and realized what was wanted, jumped out of

bed, got his revolver and stood at the head of the stairs. He warned Latta

not to come up, as he would surely kill him. But Latta’s blood was up, and

springing forward, he reached about the middle of the stairs when Odell

fired. The aim was deadly, for the bullet struck his heart. With the

exclamation "I am shot!" he stepped down on the floor, put the lamp, which

he had wrested from Mrs. Odell as he came in, down on the table, walked to

the door, then out into the yard several steps toward the gate, then fell

dead. The alarm was given and the woman in the buggy took the handcuffs

off of Hewitt, and Latta’s body was picked up an taken across to

Buchanan’s, where it was cared for, and next morning taken to

Kendallville. Next morning Mr. Houser says, all the neighborhood knew of

it, and turned out to capture the murderer, and a company of soldiers came

up from the camp at Kendallville. But Odell was never seen again. It is

apparent, too, that Latta’s tough character made the people care much less

about punishing his slayer, than they would had he been a decent man.

The rest of this history we get largely from Mr. John Treesh. He bought

the Odell farm and moved up there from his former home in Richland township.

In 1866 a payment on the place came due and he had to go up into Michigan

to find Mrs. Odell and make the payment. On reaching there what was his

surprise to find James Odell, whom he had known personally. Odell had

reached there but a few days before, from his home in Canada, where he had

been living since soon after the eventful night. He gave Mr. Treesh the

particulars of his part of the trouble. He said he was not really a

deserter, though his leave of absence, or furlough, expired that day,

August 17. It had been no intention of his to desert, but he would have

joined his regiment next day, the 18th. The delay of one day was caused

by the marketing of some hogs that he and his mother owned together, and

which she decided she wanted him to attend to for her before he left. So

he drove the hogs to Kendallville that day, sold them and now at his home,

was getting ready to join the company. Of course Latta, as a provost

officer, knew the date of expiration of every man’s furlough, and with the

bounty in view, did not propose to let his chance escape, for technically,

Odell should have reported some time the 17th. That night, when he heard

the knocking at the door and heard Latta ask for him, he realized what was

up. And in the excitement and desperation of the moment, resolved he would

not be taken. He gives the story of the shooting as we have given it.

Seeing Latta retreat, and fearing he had committed murder, he turned and

jumped for the window, fourteen feet to the ground and ran for his life.

He halted at a house about two miles away borrowed a pair of boots, hat,

pants, and coat, and then suddenly returned to his home, went in, got his

own clothes, and such things as he could carry in his flight, and left.

But he felt certain he could not escape at once to Canada, as he intended ,

and so went to the house of a friend not many miles away, where he found

concealment for four days. This fact shows that the people were not

extremely anxious to find him. Leaving his hiding place, he managed to

reach the house of an acquaintance somewhere in the north part of Steuben

county. Her he remained for several weeks, when his friend, happening to

be at a village not many miles away, by the merest accident, overheard

some one say that they had found where the murderer of Latta was in

hiding, and that he was to be captured that very night. On this

information Odell, hastily prepared to carry out his original intention of

going to Canada. It was none too soon for him either, for that very night

the officers came for him, but a few hours after he had gone. He had

staid in Canada till the time Mr. Treesh met him. But we understand his

present whereabouts cannot be ascertained. It is generally believed that

he once made a flying visit to the old neighborhood in Fairfield, but if

so, the people he visited have maintained a discreet silence.

The war, with its scenes of turbulence, its excitement, its

neighborhood strifes and quarrels, its suspicions, its setting of

neighbor against neighbor, and all the disagreeable features of a

fratricidal war has passed and gone into history. Let us hope it may

never return. Those who lived in those exciting days, whether at their

homes or at the front, find its memories far from agreeable. But it is a

part of our history. This tragedy is a part of DeKalb county’s history,

and as such, it should be correctly told, We believe we have done this, at

least so far as is known or will ever be known. Next month, August 17, it

will be twenty-nine years since this terrible tragedy occurred. Since

then a new generation has grown up, men and women who will find it

difficult to understand all that happened in the experience of their

parents. But while we present the gloomy picture to their gaze, we hope it

will never be to them more than a picture, and not an experience.



Situated about 11miles Fort Wayne, on the Decatur road was once

flourishing business center known in 1871 as Middelton. The Richmond

railroad, instead of going through the towns turned south, and the town of

Hoagland sprang into existence. Middleton, in course of time, was

gradually deserted by it inhabitants and for many years, church, school-

house, residences , business houses and sawmills stood silent and vacant---

a dead town.

In 1890, Middleton came into the hands of a real estate agent who sold

the entire town for $650, to a farmer living in the vicinity.

Something of a peril akin to this threatened Auburn for years, but two

enterprises of public moment had inception and progress in 1864 which

turned the scale in her favor at he most critical period.

Waterloo City is a full tide of prosperity, favored in location and

market, sustained by men of push and energy, and flushed with success, had

already grown to a population of about eight hundred, and was preparing to

incorporate as a town, while Auburn, with but three fourths as many people,

seemed to fall into the background.

" Hope springs eternal in the human breast," and it was by no means

settled that Auburn was to remain an isolated inland towns, for about

this time came a revival, through this section, of interest it the Toledo,

Logansport and Northern Indiana railroad, for the construction of which a

company had been formed, as previously stated, in the winter of 1852-3

Ten years had gone by since the work begun so hopefully in the spring

of 1854, had come to an abrupt ending in the fall, through failure of


When work stopped, the earth work of grading was about half finished;

several culverts and trestle bridges have been built, right of way had

been almost entirely secured; grading had been done on nearly every one of

the ninety-one miles of road, and the land had been thoroughly grubbed an


Careful examination showed that there had been but slight deterioration

from wasting and wear. Less than six miles had grades of between twenty-

five and thirty feet per mile, the latter, the maximum, and this in only

three cases and for short distances.

It is interesting to note the estimated income of the completed road,

which was as follows:

35 car loads daily form connecting

roads, at $16…………………… ..$ 560 00

16 car loads daily for Logansport

at $16…………………… .. 256 00

60 car loads daily for local stations

at $15……………………………. 900 00

Miscellaneous, both directions………… 150 00

Passengers both directions…………….. 600 00

Totals……………….$2,466 00

Estimate for year including $10,000 for carrying mail, $771,858.

Deducting expenses, a net profit was thought probable of $390,929. With

this encouraging showing a new organization was effected for the purpose

of reviving and completing this line, with J. R. Gordon, of New York,

president. Among the directors was W. H. Dills, of Auburn, who, with

some of the town’s people, entertained Mr. Gordon and others of the

officials who remained several days in the town, bringing the matter to

the attention of its business men, and conferring with citizens with

reference to assistance in the form of subscriptions payable only when the

road was finished. The conference, though inoperative, was a benefit to

the town and the time yet distant when the fruition of expectation was to

be realized.

The control of municipal affairs was in democratic hands and the vote

at town election continued the party in power, Ninety-six votes were cast

in the ratio of 53 to 43. The trustees elected were Messrs. H. Jones, T.

Gross, J. Butt, W. H. Dills and George Kuhlman, Hiram Griswold was elected

marshal, T. C. Elson, assessor, Jerry Plum, clerk and Joseph Stiefel,


The town board passed an ordinance to plank sidewalk, to take in a part

of the west side of Jackson street, and Cedar street from Seventh street

north but enforcement of its provisions was postponed till the next spring.

The marshal seemingly desirous of attracting public notice called

attention to the general disregard of town ordinances and announced a

vigorous policy by serving notice that the hog, sidewalk, and other laws

of the town were to be rigidly enforced.

The second such laudable zeal, Wyllys Griswold furnished a lot to be

used for a pound, Swine were to be kept off the streets and rewards were

offered to citizens, as well as fees to the marshal, for taking strays in

charge. Little regard was given this spasmodic effort and soon the embargo

on Auburn’s porkers became null by common consent and matters continued as


The treasury was in its habitually bankrupt condition and a brief

unsatisfactory report showed a slight over payment. Abnormal assessments

of property, nominal levies for taxation with increased expenditures were

responsible for this condition of the finances.

The town board applied the heroic remedy of doubling the previous levy

for the ensuing year and made it 50 cents on each $100, valuation.

Mr. Stiefel within a short time resigned the office of treasurer and

removed from town and John N. Miller long and favorably known to Auburn

people and frequently named in local history, likewise moved elsewhere. It

is to be observed in this connection the disappearance successively from

year to year from public notice and position of persons of prominence,

only few of whom, retired from business by age and infirmity, still remain

with us.

Business firms and individuals of small capital came and went an some

localities seemed to be ever changing occupants and character of wares; on

the other hand, there are those whose staying qualities have made them

reliable and prosperous.

The advent of Emanuel Leopard as grocer, combined with sale of wines and

liquors was scarcely known ere he had departed, while U. E. Babb was long

and favorably regarded as an experienced artist in photographs and

ambrotypes, many of which in our homes preserve the features of our

friends and relative, distant or departed.

Mr. Babb removed to Hicksville, Ohio, which has continued to be his

home since. Revisiting Auburn recently as agent for a business house, he

renewed former acquaintance and found in the present town but little of

the place as he knew it. His hair has whitened and age has begun to tell

on him but in manner and converse he recalls with freshness the days gone


O. H. Davis advertised in the local papers as silversmith and jeweler.

At the store of Mr. Davis located on the north side of the public square,

among other goods, could be found silver thimbles, sewing birds and

melodeons. The sewing machine and parlor organ now common to most homes

had not yet superseded these former adjuncts of the house-wife and were

still salable. He asked patronage on the ground of home manufacture,

alleging as a corollary that hard time had no effect on his prices. What

ever his success, the fact of his advertising his business was a strong

point in his favor.

James W. Case had rented the Rhodes block which he purchased in the

following December and keeping the postoffice in a small compartment of

cheap, open boxes occupying the west end of the ground floor, retained one

side of the room for a small stock of school books, stationery, etc., and

rented the opposite side as a drugstore to H. Gregg, M. D.

Charles Fox, an ex-confederate soldier from Texas opened a meat market

in a building opposite the Weaver House. F. & C. Raut were in the boot &

shoe business in the old postoffice building, and D. S. Altenberg & Co.

were dealing in furniture.

On May 1, T. C. Elson bought of J. Stiefel & Co., their stock of

groceries and provisions and for some years carried on the business. He

finally went upon a farm west of town and thence to Buchanan, near Benton

Harbor, Michigan, where he has been quite prosperous.

The medical firm of Goeriz & Larimore was dissolved. The former removed

elsewhere and the entire interests of the company passed to Dr. Larimore,

whose office was located one door south of the Griswold House.

In the line of improvement, little was going on. Frank Jones was

putting up a two story dwelling on Jackson street, and event so unusual as

to attract comment, and William McBride under superintendence of Com’r.

John Brandon, was constructing a new wooden bridge over Cedar Creek on the

Spencerville road southeast of town.

In September 1863, Lewis and William W. Bowers brothers, the latter of

Fulton county, Ohio, the former a successful grocer in Auburn, jointly

purchased for $150, from John N. Miller, the two then vacant lots known as

Nos. 219 and 220, O. P. In the spring of 1865, they made preparations to

erect upon this site a steam flour mill.

Convenient to the business center of Auburn and on one of the leading

roads to the town, the locality presented obvious advantages and gave

promise of especial patronage from farmers living on the eastward. The

building was two storied. The basement story was of stone and brick and

the upper story was frame. Its dimensions were 35x45 feet. The boiler was

from the foundry of Messrs. Bass & Hanna, of Fort Wayne, and was of good

material. There were three run of stones and the mill had a capacity to

manufacture about forty barrels of flour a day.

The building was completed, the machinery in place by the middle of the

summer and Bowers & Brother started their new flouring mill on Saturday

July 23rd. The enterprise was materially helpful to the town in as much as

it furnished a market for wheat ground for home use and flour for sale


About the first of December, Lewis Bowers sold his one-half interest to

Henry W. Ford for $7,000, and a month later for some inexplicable defect,

the boiler exploded, wrecking the plant, but the unfortunate proprietors

undismayed energetically set to work and rebuilt the structure and soon

again the Union Mills became a prominent feature of Auburn’s early

manufacturing enterprise.

Mr. Ford sold his interest to William R. Moore, by whom the mill was

operated with Mr. Searight, miller, and William Crawford, engineer, until

the evening of Dec. 18, 1866 when it was once more blown to pieces by the

explosion of the boiler.

The report was teriffic. Glass was shivered, a crack to be seen to day,

opened over the west door of the court house, and the sound was heard miles

away. A crowd of citizens hastened to the scene to see Mr. Moore and Mr.

Searight injured but able to make their way from the ruins, while search

resulted in finding the body of the ill-fated engineer beneath a mass of

wreckage over the engine room.

The loss to the owners was mitigated by a partial insurance, but they

had no heart to erect the mill a third time and the ruin lay for a time


Finally the debris of the wreck was cleared away and Phoenix like the

Eagle Mills rebuilt by Isaac M. Thomas and Chrisitan Buss, yet again

crowned the Christian Buss, yet again crowned the slight eminence bounding

building limits eastward on the north side of Seventh street and with Mr,

Keagey as miller resumed and continued business.

Later, sale was made to W. W. Griswold, Richard Elson bought Griswold’s

interest and he and Thomas then disposed of their holding to Lewis Bowers

one of her original proprietors who in turn sold to P. W. Silvers. I.O.

Bachtel finally purchased the entire property and in keeping with the

spirit of progress elsewhere displayed in milling, thoroughly refitted the

mills, put in costly and scientific machinery and entered upon the

manufacture of roller flour by a new process.

For years, a huge wood yard had of necessity cumbered the ground west

of the mill, and cordwood of all kinds and quality was bought and piled in

high long ranks for use of the furnace. The discovery of natural gas in

this vicinity revolutionized this business. Gas replaced cord wood; the

ground was cleared; and addition to the mills was built, and iron fence

was constructed and marked improvement was made.

As an economic measure, a reservoir was conveniently placed and crude

oil superseding gas, was supplied by which the furnace fires are now

maintained at equal temperature.

The Eagle Mills have long received a substantial and well merited

patronage and the character of milling wherever tested, has been pronounced

indisputably excellent. The flour from this mill has no superior in this

market. As a consequence of pains-taking and liberal outlay, Mr. Bachtel

is recognized as a valuable and prosperous citizen, and his efforts having

for many years been seconded by those of his trusty veteran engineer,

Michael Douglas, this flouring mill in unbroken operation for a long

period has been a help to Auburn, a convenience to farmers and a

profitable investment.

The season during the year 1864, following a severe winter was

favorable to the farmer. The weather during spring was remarkably

pleasant. Sunshine was the rule and the atmosphere was invigorating.

Crops later on were imperiled by a drouth which however was broken by

timely rains preventing injury and, on June 28, Mr. Vinton, of Smithfield

township, cut one hundred twelve dozen shaves of red Mediterranean wheat

fully ripened.

Wheat harvest was early, the crop was good and the price realized was

an average of $2.00 a bushel in currency. A significant fact bearing upon

the adverse market conditions of Auburn was the absence of prices then

paid in what is now Butler. July 1st, corn and potatoes each brought $1.00

a bushel; wool was 80 to 90 cents a pound and eggs by the dozen, butter

by the pound sold at 20 cents.

Early in May, number of prominent democrats organized as a corporation

to be known as "The DeKalb County Newspaper Company," for the purpose of

publishing a newspaper which should be devoted "to the true interests of

the people of our county and the sound principles of the National Union


Among leading stockholders were Messrs. Sprott, Ralston, Waterman,

Butt, John Ralston and Freeman Kelley. The executive committee was

composed of S. W. Sprott, John Brandon, John Butt and S. W. Ralston.

The company was fortunate in effecting the purchase of a press and

material nearly new and The DeKalb Democrat once more came into a term of

existence to be destroyed in time by fire as had happened to the Democratic


The office was located up stairs over Eldridge’s, one of the block of

framed buildings that till 1867, extended northward form Rhodes’ brick

store to J. D. Davis’ hardware.

The motto of the Democrat was "The Union---it must be preserved." It

advocated immediate stoppage of the war and supported what was known as

the peace policy.

The services of Wm. H. Dills were engaged as editor and superintendent

of the proposed paper and the initial number was issued from the press

on Friday June 24th, its columns fairly filled with advertisements, legal,

professional and mercantile.

As an editor, Mr. Dills was intensely personal and partisan, although

his experience as a publisher was brief, it was not from lack of ability

since for years subsequently he ranked high as a writer and was prominent

among the attorneys comprising the judicial circuit.

Laudably ambitions of political preferment, he was in the race against

Robert W. McBride, now of the state supreme court, for the office of

circuit judge, and as one of the presidential electors for this state at

the November election, 1884, had the rare satisfaction for a democrat,

since the war, of casting and electoral ballot for Gover Cleveland for

democratic president.

Mr. Dills was authority on pioneer subjects in which he was always

interested and was author of a compendious treatise on railroad valuation

and assessment. His death was sudden and occurred on Jan. 15, 1891 in his

57th year.

Joseph Loveland continued the publication of the new Era as the organ

of the war democracy which was practically republican. He found uncertain

support and little profit, and thus a second time, Auburn was represented

by two newspapers, in politics radically opposite and vigorously pressing

their respective views of administrative policy and the conduct of the


Meanwhile early in July, heavy disbursements at excessive prices and

short receipts had compelled Mr. Dickinson to avoid insolvency, to

temporarily suspend publication of the Waterloo City Press. From the outset

he had ardently exerted himself to "insure the permanent establishment of

a reliable paper in DeKalb county," and under ordinary conditions, would

have been sustained by the proceeds of the office.

The suspension was brief as the people could not do without their

paper. Chas. K. Baxter returning from honorable services in the ranks of

the Indiana 19th regiment of the Iron Brigade took charge as editor and

proved the man for the place, and again the long columns of the Press

replete with news of interest and moment gave pleasure to its patrons.

At their regular session, the board of county commissioners appointed

Guy Plumb county school examiner, much to the dissatisfaction of many who

would have preferred the selection of Rev. Chas. A. Munn, who had resigned

the chapliancy of the 100th Indiana and accepted a call to minister to the

Presbyterian society at Auburn.

Mr. Plumb was a quiet unostentatious attorney-at-law of good business

qualifications. In all his practice at the DeKalb bar he never essayed the

role for a speech maker, before judge or jury, but was content to act as

counsel for clients, leaving elocution to others. His appointment to the

office of examiner was not to his taste and he declined to serve longer

than one year. At this time his office was two doors north of the public

square, but years later he succeeded Morrison & Hodge to the occupation of

what has since been known as the sheriff’s office in the court house.

He was the approved agent of the Home Insurance Company of New York and

in the absence of banking facilities dealt in various accuritice. He

built at considerable expense, for the convenience and comfort of his

family the handsome residence standing on the northwest corner of Fifth

and VanBuren streets, now owned by Albert Robbins, cashier of the Farmers

Bank, but owing to continued ill health of family removed in the spring of

1881 to Easton, Talbot county, Md., on the east side of Chesapeake Bay.

The term of Rev. Wright as minister and school examiner, having expired,

he sold the parsonage, which he had bought of Rev. Bliss, to Rev. Munn and

went elsewhere.

The winter term of the Auburn Union school, which had been a session

credit able to teachers and students closed with an exhibition held the

evening of March 3 and 4, under direction of the principal, Mrs. Vesta


As a part of this entertainment, the historical drama of Pizarro, was

rendered and it was said that Joe McKay as Rolla, Mrs. Swarts as Alvira,

Al Robbins as Pizarro and H. Stoner as Orizembo, acquitted themselves with

great credit.

Mrs. Swarts was encouraged by success to reopen the school for a spring

term after a two weeks’ vacation, and if continuous service be measure of

popularity, she certainly possessed the confidence of the people of Auburn.

In these later years, the same devotion the her humane calling of

physician has merited and won high commendation and her skill in treatment

of the ills of women and children has been a boon to this community and a

blessing to the afflicted.

The fall session of the Auburn Male and Female Institute with three

departments designated as primary, junior and senior began August 24. In

addition to other branches, German, French, Latin and Greek were to be

taught at a charge of $6.50 per twelve weeks term. Opportunity for

instruction in music on piano, or melodion was offered, and to all these

was added, a commercial department.

In the present more systematized, less pretentious and complex plan of

education, there is food for reflection, through comparison of respective

merits in the light of results.

It would be of interest to know who of the young ladies constituted the

class in French and who of the young gentlemen studied the Greek or the

German and what progress was made.

One thing is evident that year by year attendance, especially of our

boys terminates at more and yet more youthful age and few advance beyond

the grammar room and may never reach it.

Charles A. Munn, A. M. was superintendent of the institute, whose

existence was limited by a single term. John Stahl was in charge of the

senior and Mrs. Swarts of the junior department. The foreign attendance

was especially large and the session was profitable to all parties


Elder Munn was an able preacher, a classical scholar, and

uncompromising Unionist, and was frequently called upon to address public

meetings and officiate at the funerals of deceased soldiers. He sold the

parsonage in Nov. 1865, to L. J. Blair for $1,300 and having served the

Presbyterian society at Waterloo for a time, located his family at

Kendallville and accepted a charge in Chicago, Ill. Inconvenienced by

separation from his family, he resigned his city pastorate and in Oct.

1867, was employed by the Presbyterian society in Kendallville. Of his

later career we have no knowledge.

John Stahl, young, energetic and painstaking, himself a close student

during hours that most give to leisure, gave general satisfaction as an

educator and for some years pursued this calling, having taken charge of a

school at West Brookbold, Stark county, Ohio, after leaving Auburn, and in

1868, having returned too this county and served as principal of the

schools of Waterloo. At a later period, the writer found Mr. Stahl

engaged in teaching at the academy built by enterprising farmers east of

Huntertown, Allen county, near the residence of Jacob Kell with whom the

teachers generally found board and lodging.

He was then closely occupying his home hours in the study of law, was

admitted to the bar of Allen county, gave promise of achieving distinction

in this great calling, but died before his ardent purpose could be


The school trustees in the fall of 1864 were: S. W. Sprott, A.

Larimore and Philip Fluke. The supernumerary and obsolete office of

director, then existing was filled by John Butt.

This school board engaged for the winter term to begin on Dec. 5, and

entirely new crops of teachers. Spencer Dills previously principal of

Kendallville High School was employed to hold the same position in the

Auburn Union School. Mrs. H. S. Ralston was engaged as first assistant,

Miss Lamb, as second and Miss Mary Rush as third assistant.

While thus in peaceful callings the people of Auburn passed the year,

the hearts of many beat anxiously for those in the field and those who did

not want to go and feared the draft.

The winter of 1863-4 was passed in preparation. E. S. Grant was made

general of the union armies, and under him was placed Meade in the east

and Sherman in the west. Richmond an Atlanta were the objective points of

coming campaign.

It was seen that the term of enlistment of many seasoned regiments

would expire just when their aid would be most valuable, and to retain

them in service, it was ordered that whenever a majority in any regiment

would re-enlist to serve till the close of the war, a furlough of thirty

days would be given, and free transportation to visit, home, an such

regiments were designated as "veteran."

The men of the 30th and 44th regiments in common with many others

embraced this offer. The former veteraned in January to the number of one

hundred and twenty-one men. Company H., from Auburn contributed its full


On Feb. 6th the 44th veteraned two hundred and twenty strong, and

company K. of Auburn re-enlisted to a man. Each organization was given a

grand reception at Ft. Wayne.

On the arrival in that city of the latter regiment, bells were rung,

cannon fired, flags waved and hearty cheers were given by the welcoming


Following a banquet, H. Withers, orator on this occasion said "the 44th

fought with proud distinction in the four great battles of Donelson, Shiloh,

Stone River, and Chickamauga, never flinching from danger never shrinking

from death."

The non-veterans of this regiment were discharged the last of Nov. 1864

and the presence of men clad in the army blue was so common as not to

excite comment and the returned soldier soon began to be active in civil


In response to successive calls, quotas were apportioned and raised by

recruiting and drafting and with less ado, but with unshaken constancy, the

good people at home in every practical way, gave moral and material support

to their relatives in the ranks.

Inscribed among others on the roll of honor, we find the names of

Sheridan E. Mott, who died in hospital at Nashville, Tenn., May 15, from

effects of a wound received at Chickamauga and Charles E. Rush, of Co. K.

139th Ind., one hundred day regiment, who died in Kentucky, aged but

sixteen years. These and many another young and noble DeKalb boys thus

offered their lives to their country, and they were accepted---a costly

oblation to freedom made not in vain.

As spring opened, work on the count house was resumed and was pushed

forward as rapidly as the weather would permit. To Thomas Baldock had been

given the contract for putting up the frame work on the building. The

windows and doors indicate his skill as a mechanic, both in beauty of

finish and in durability of work. On July 1st the bell weighing 600 lbs.

was brought by rail to Waterloo, thence by team to Auburn. It was

manufactured by B. W. Coffin & Co., at Buckeye Bell Foundry, Cincinnati,

Ohio. By the last of July the dome of the court house neared completion

and on contract time the work was finished and accepted by the county


The building complete contains 600,000 brick, 3000 perch of field

stone, 1000 superficial fee of cut stone, 33,600 lbs. of iron joists, and

has iron doors and window shutters below. The building occupies the site of

the old court house in the center of the public square, and on the ground

is 56x80 feet with an octagonal tower in front 22 feet in diameter.

The foundation is laid to the top of the ground with common field stone

or boulders and faced with Sandusky limestone two feet high. The limestone

is backed with field stone, which sustains the principal weight of the

building. On these faced stone is place a cap or water table two inches

thick, twenty inches wide and extending under the brick work.

The front and rear steps, caps and sills for doors and windows are also

of limestone. The building is divided on the first floor into four

commodious offices 21x24 feet, each provided with fire proof vaults; also,

two offices in front part 17x21 feet, and a main hall through the building

east and west from which all the offices are entered. The lower story is

12 feet 6 inches high.

The court room is in the second story. Its original dimensions were

64x60 feet, 22 feet high, with two jury rooms adjoining on west end. The

roof is made of slate brought from Vermont. It is laid on wood lath

securely nailed with two nails in a slate, the size of which is 14x24

and ¼ inch thick.

The tower is eighty feet high, of brick, with dome covered with tin

and this in the fall of 1864, was surmounted by a flag staff supporting a

metallic eagle at an elevation of 115 feet.

Where now is the flag staff and where is the metallic eagle? Though the

eagle is not, the front entrance approached west, north and sought by a

broad cement walk is guarded by two lions recumbent upon small mounds, the

gift of a firm dealing with the county.

The bell is a fine one and is placed in the tower at a height of 60

feet. A spiral staircase leads from the second story up to an iron

balcony, which has been pronounced unsafe and is therefore purely

ornamental. There are 16 windows in the first story and 14 in the


The first occupants of the new court house late in the fall of 1864

were as follows: In the first room on the left, James B. Morrison, Esq.,

had established a law office and advertized as a pension agent. In the

second was George Barney treasurer, who made the familiar call for payment

of orders then months in arrears, and in the third office was George

Kuhlman, auditor.

Opposite the auditor’s office was that of the clerk of court, John

Ralston, next west was the office of Recorder, S. W. Widney and the sixth

office was used by the county commissioners. L. Spangler, surveyor and

John N. Miller do not appear to have been provided for.

From time to time, improvements have been made in the court room which

was found to be deficient in accoustic properties. In 1864, the greater

part of the room was seated and constituted a convenient assembly room for

county convention and public meetings. The petit jury occupied seats to

the left of the bench in which Hon. E. R. Wilson, of Bluffton, presided

over the circuit court and Wm. L. Clapp over the court of common pleas,

with Lewis Covell, of Ligonier prosecutor.

Three rooms have been taken off the east end of the room for petit

jury, consultation, and use of attorneys. The bar occupies a greater part

of the remaining space, which is nicely carpeted and filled in with

handsome desks used by members of the bar.

To the left of the Bench is a revolving bookcase filled with law

reports, then the desk of the sheriff and beyond the orderly and snug

desk’s quarters. To the right facing south are the elevated jury seats,

between which and the bench is the witness chair, oftimes a veritable

instrument of inquisition.

There have been in the past apprehensions lest the walls would give way

during some cyclonic blast of winds, but no recent grounds for fear have


The court room with fanciful ceiling and curtailed demensions has

little resemblance to the auditory as first constructed, and save in

unusual cases the limited seating capacity is amply sufficient for curious

or interested spectators.

In the absence for a time of a suitable place for holding political

meetings, the old court room was utilized and many reminiscences are

associated with the place. The memorable joint discussion between Hon.

Robert Lowry, later member of congress for this district and Billy

Williams, who got there first, was held here. The room was crowded with

followers of each candidate and the telling hits of one and then the other

was vigorously applauded by delighted partisans. Prevailing fear of the

stability of the building has given occasion for an occasional panic. On

one occasion during court, on a sultry spring afternoon, the air became

close, the room suddenly darkened and in the ominous silence, a flash of

lightning followed by a crash of thunder, instilled that boding sense of

awe felt in the presence of a conflict of the elements. Presently a

sudden, violent blast of wind struck the building; it seemed to sway and

to about to fall and the consternation for the moment was intense.

Some two of three year since a similar incident transpired on occasion

of a terrific wind and hail storm which shattered hundreds of panes of

glass in the town. The spectators were first to fly, followed in turn by

attorneys and jury, but no catastrophe occurred.

Many an important and interesting case has been tried in that old court

room. Lawyers who have practiced there like Joseph Morlan and Wm. H.

Dills have gone before the Supreme Court of all courts, and others have

been called to fill high and honorable stations in state and nation.

There were held the "alleged malpractice suits" of Dr. Jared Spooner, of

Auburn and Dr. Hoopingarner, of Butler, and there Manstoffel was tried for

stabbing Wm. Hume, whose blood drenched the sidewalk as he staggered from

his irate assailant.

Poor Manstoffel, his sudden anger and criminal act cost him, years in

state prison, from which he quietly returned and settled on a farm some

where south of this, and there died. Hume left Auburn, abandoning his

family; his wife was for a number of years an inmate of the family of H.C.

Shull, her brother-in-law and our popular milkman.

But interesting as these cases and those of Garfield and Kessler were,

all pale before the celebrated trial of Abbott for the murder of Houlton,

which resulted in sending him to prison for life, and cost DeKalb county

over $2000. The fees of attorneys employed in prosecuting and defending

the accused reached nearly half the sum given.

The court house was a friend in need to Auburn, close following it

completion. It has stood twenty eight years, and it may stand more than as

much longer unless the fever of architectural display shall compel the

building of anew one on a scale of extravagant outlay similar to the

experience of some other counties of Indiana.

Its offices are convenient and with electric lights and natural gas,

officials are made comfortable and the public building with it grove-grown

lawn is an attractive feature of the town in 1892 as it was in 1864.



It is a natural law affecting growth and stability that to secure the

best results, the initial stages of all existence should be determined by

a slow, steady evolution.

The expansion of towns keeping pace with the clearing and cultivation

of adjacent farm lands and the productive capacity of their aggregate

areas is subject, under ordinary conditions to the same common law.

Cities in the eastern states passed through various mutations extending

through many years before they entered upon a more speedy growth and

enlarged to present dimensions. In the course of settlement westward, the

development became more and more pronounced till it passed to extremes

when towns and cities were located, platted and populated in a few months

and present to the traveler, the phenomenal sight of electric cars, water

works and all the improvements of this modern age, in large places standing

as oases on broad, unoccupied or sparsely populated tracts of land.

The discover of natural gas, oil, the precious metals or other of

earth’s interior riches as well as the commercial concentration growing

out of railroad construction, have given tremendous impetus to municipal

and urban growth, but when the speculator has abnormally stimulated the

increase of these places by booming, there comes a time when reaction sets

in and the pendulum of progress swings backward bringing in its train

stagnation, depression, and loss of prestige.

That town that keeps in touch with the surrounding country and utilizes

its facilities and advantages in public and private improvements

proportionally with its resources, business and population can experience

nothing of the ruinous results of precocious maturity under the heated

stimulus of adventurous syndicates.

It has been well for Auburn that no tidal wave took up the town in false

prosperity to retire at length and leave its every interest stranded, but

that in the main, natural causes and legitimate enterprises have been left

to slowly and steadily pave the way for her permanent prosperity.

Certain progressive movements seemed practicable in 1865, and the town’s

people recognizing their apparent opportunity, brought them with vigor into

play but no untimely undertaking imperiled, on costly mistakes burdened the

future with failures and debts such as weigh down and detract from the

prosperity of very many western municipalities.

Auburn seemed to be and was by comparison a

backward place, her people appeared to rest content with their quiescent

condition while Waterloo City increased with gratifying speed and became

the commercial metropolis of the county.

The people of Auburn were influenced by a combination of habit and

necessity to wait for opportunity and to let events decide the future.

The war having closed, population was augmented by return of soldiers and

the sterling qualities that had made their services valuable to the

country, were turned to account in civil life and this community was

benefited largely by the vigor they infused into all channels of trade and

industry. It was then a familiar sight to see groups of veterans still in

their worn blue uniforms congregated at times near the public square to

exchange greetings and relate experiences.

At more frequent intervals now strangers dropped in, some to chance

success and meet failure, others to study the possibilities of the

locality, determine to stay and during the years that followed, to enhance

their own welfare while adding to the material interests of the town.

The record of business changes for the year is not extended, but such

improvements as were attempted were in the right direction. Time and

again in these annals, we have seen some retire from their pursuits and

others hopefully take their places, many to fail in their turn, a few to

meet a reasonable prosperity.

The old Weaver House again changing its landlord, was now leased to J.

M. Robbins for a term of years. S. G. Wise controlled the Auburn and

Waterloo hack line and the first experience of the writer, on the roads

of DeKalb county, was suffered in one of his hacks driven by David Bodine

during the summer of this year, in a ride over an execrable highway of

ruts, mud hole and corduroy form Waterloo to Auburn, and thence without

rest, several miles eastward seeing, little to admire but the magnificent

forest trees that almost lined and frequently overshadowed the rugged road.

It was only twenty-seven year sago, and yet there are few who recollect

the town as it then was or the professional and business men. There was Dr.

J. W. Lytle, who had been a resident and came again in 1865 to form a short

lived partnership with Dr. George Keesler in the work of ameliorating the

ills due to uncertain climate and broken laws of health and there was the

firm of Keesler & Casebeer, then that of Littlefield & Casebeer, and few

there are who do not know and have reason to thankfully remember the long

an yet existing firm of Matheny & Casebeer, proprietors of the Physicians’

drugstore, and physicians of extended practice.

Dr. Littlefield some years ago went west and was connected with the

development of a western town, but the boom collapsed and the prospective

wealth as quickly vanished. Some may remember a son, Daniel, gentlemanly,

fastidious and scholarly, and wonder what has become of him.

Dr. Jacob B. Casebeer physician and surgeon, had served in the army,

located in Auburn about 1865 and has been in successful practice with

associates named down to the present. He is now a member of the board of

medical examiners of this district, being associated with Doctors Darby of

Waterloo and Fanning, of Butler, and his skill and experience have brought

him a good reputation and extended practice.

As indication of professional spirit in 1865, we note the formation of

a Medical society embracing it its membership all physicians in the county,

in good standing and we regret inability to place their names on record.

Stiefel & Wolf had been a prosperous firm in Auburn for a long time and

seeing a decadence of trade with no present prospect of its revival, Aaron

Wolf, the senior partner contemplated removing to Philadelphia, Pa. He

offered Samuel Lauferty, then resident to Three Rivers, Mich., and equal

interest in the store at Auburn, saw the new firm of Stiefel & Lauferty

established, when he departed leaving them to make the way to public

favor. The business languished and Mr. Stiefel turning over his interest

to his partner, removed and Lauferty carried on a ready-made clothing

business alone and for a while, with reasonable success. Then sickness

and reverses came and he, too, went elsewhere to be seen as a casual

visitor at rare intervals since.

Frederick Raut was this year proprietor of a harness shop, and other

tradesmen quietly pursued the even tenor of business ways.

In the fall, Albert Robbins purchased the stock of groceries owned by

Emanual Leopold and conducted from this stand a first-class grocery store,

leaving to those who were inclined to that way, the disposition of the

previously existing auxiliary stock of choice liquors. The day in this

community has gone by when the tavern bar and the grocery counter divided

traffic in stimulants with the grog shop, and only the drug stores now

share in the opprobrium that rests lightly on the conscience of the saloon

keepers of the Auburn of today.

Later, Mr. Robbins was invaluable to John L. Davis of the Pioneer

Hardware store as his book keeper; served with credit and popular

satisfaction a term as county auditor and for some years has been a part

owner and the cashier of the Farmers Bank, whose fine building occupies

the northwest corner of Main and Seventh streets. He is a representative

townsman, active in religious and business enterprises, polite and

approachable in manner and enjoys the respect of the community and the

confidence of the public in a marked degree.

The principal sale of the year was of the building that stood on the

corner of Main and Fourth streets by Thomas Baldock to Messrs. Harney &

Baker for $1,000. The property was in use by Messrs. Elson & Jennings,

grocers and the purchasers intended to start in it a bakery and

confectionery, but evidently thought better of it and abandoned the


In the line of improvements, Alpheus Wheelock built for Thomas D. Gross,

from brick remaining after construction of the court house, the residence

next south of the First National bank block, now owned by John C. Henry, a

versatile business man, a partner in the farmers Bank and proprietor of a

fine and popular store; and J. C. Ellison & Brother erected a two story

frame on the lot north of Ralston’s dry goods store, to be used in the

drug and grocery trade.

James W. Case, from a carpenter and builder, had become a postmaster

in the little front room of the Rhodes block and supplemented his light

official duties by selling or trading a miscellaneous assortment of

schoolbooks, patent medicines and medley of odds and ends kept up on his

shelves, for homemade products of the farms including soap, sugar, cloth

and carpets.

To Miss Cornelia Strickland, his wife’s sister, Mr. Case was greatly

indebted for efficient administration of the postoffice, whose labors and

compensation, then light, have kept growth with increased efficacy and

greater population under S. L. Yandes, Joseph Rainier, Michael Boland and

George Gordon. There was registry of letters no sale of postal notes, no

postal cards ad no lock boxes, as office routine existed in 1865. Letter

postage was still three cents and a letter to the Pacific coast required a

ten cent stamp. A change of postmaster was accompanied by a change of

location and $25, was a fairly good price for the plain rude letter boxes

frame and all.

J. D. Davis died this year and John L. Davis succeeded to the control of

the hardware store, which following a disastrous fire was rebuilt in brick

and has been enlarged, improved and kept well stocked with the latest

modern belongings to such a store, increased proportionately to the

necessities of a growing town.

Lack of banks combined with public exigencies made Auburn a rich field

for note and warrant scalpers and buyer at tax sales of delinquent town

lots and farm land and the legalized usurious percentage paid for

redeeming them formed the example foundation upon which were built the

fortunes of well known moneyed men.

As an instance of the extent of delinquency, the amount of unpaid taxes

of Jan. 1st 1865 as returned by the county auditor aggregated $29,000,

which was nearly one-third of the entire levy.

From this time the condition of ht town treasury continually changed

for the worse till the time came when orders drawn upon the municipal fund

of Auburn were unsalable, and so badly were its finances managed, and so

much involved, that few knew the extent of indebtedness or cared to invest

in its paper. Payment was not made in order to date, and orders were held

three or four years without a chance of realizing on them. The indebtedness

of he town has been a fruitful source of disquietude for many years and it

was with a sigh of relief that it was announced in 1885 that at last

municipal orders of Auburn were good for their face value.

On December 20, 1864, a number of substantial citizens of Auburn and

vicinity formed an association for the purpose of manufacturing woolen


The founders and stockholders of this enterprise were S. W. Sprott,

John Brandon, Christian Buss, Thomas D. Gross, Sylvester Kutzner, Lewis

Bower, Joseph D. Davis and Christian Sheets.

They perfected their organization under the corporate name of "The

Auburn Woolen Manufacturing Company" and placed the amount of capital sock

at $20,000 divided into shares of $50 each.

The parties named were equally interested in the sum of their holdings

to the extent of $1.500 each. They projected the construction of a large

commodious three story brick building suitable for the purposes of wool-

carding, spinning and cloth weaving and purchased for their site, a lot

situated across the street south of the present county jail.

It was proposed to have the building completed, the machinery in place

and ready for operation by the middle of August 1865, and it spoke well

for the future that by Feb. 1st most of the brick, stone and timber were

on the ground and the machinery had been contracted.

There is always in ambitious small towns a zeal for novel projects,

which shall enlarge their boundaries, increase their population and

enhance their wealth and consequent importance.

It usually finds its expression in calls for the location of manufacturies

without taking into account their feasibility on which must rest their

stability through local advantages. Where these unconsidered ventures have

been made in responses to such demands, and element of uncertainty

invariably results.

Auburn with other towns has seen the starting of these projects, has

suffered lightly from their failures which have not deterred sagacious

business men from planting her permanent industries.

We can readily recall without naming them, business enterprises in

which capitalists lost their investments and employes were thrown out of

work through premature action and financial and business mismanagement,

while we have seen others from small, safe beginnings, growing with the

growth of the town fostered by merited patronage, and aided by favorable

avenues of transportation, till they have become fixed features of our

prosperity, remunerative owners and the support of many families of


Of the latter class, were the men who composed the woolen company; they

had long been residents of Auburn and knew its wants and its capacity;

they had studied the prospects of such a mill as they designed to operate

and had wisely decided that it would add greatly to the business of the

town and the convenience of the farming community.

The building three stories high was sixty-two by forty-two feet in

dimension and a one story annex was built along the entire east side,

eighteen feet wide for engine and furnace. A dye house was erected, tubs

were put in place, piping affixed and the looms, twelve in number got in

running order.

The brick work was done by Francis Picker, master brick mason, and the

woodwork by Thomas Baldock. Successively, the engine was received and

placed, then the boiler and the machinery and early in June, the company

had begun to advertise for and take in wool.

Joseph W. McKay had been secured as a capable foreman and George Miller

employed as spinner, while Henry Kelling was engaged as engineer.

The notable Fourth of July celebration of this year later described,

terminated in a grand ball on the floor of the new factory building. It

was a sort of opening and a large number of the elite of town and country

were present. A gay and happy time was had dancing to music by Messrs.

Miller and Hoover, of Waterloo, and the entertainment closed by a supper

at the Weaver House.

Every thing being ready, on August 2, the furnace fires were lighted,

steam was raised in the boiler and the machinery set in motion.

Mr. Sprott one of the founders of the mill and secretary of the company

invited patronage and soon large quantities of wool began to come in.

It was a pride and curiosity of townspeople to see the work of carding,

weaving, fulling and different processes from the fleece to the excellent

cloth made and it was peculiarly, but none the less truthfully stated that

"the farmers of DeKalb county could now spin their yarn, pay their taxes,

do their courting and get their grists all at the county seat."

For ten years, the woolen factory was an Auburn industry of which its

population was proud. From time to time improvements were effected and

with its 220 spinnets, its looms and other machinery, its capacity was

equal to the manufacture into cloth of 100 lbs of wool per day.

One day in November 1875 the factory was seen to be on fire, set by an

incendiary, in the third story. Citizens rallying got out much of the

contents of the lower stories and saved the annex containing the engine

but without fire apparatus and accelerated by the combustible character of

the interior, the flames destroyed the main building.

The property passed into the hands of Joseph Shilling who was appointed

receiver and was by him variously disposed of.

With several looms, Patrick Murphy started up a small factory in the

brewery building on North Main street. George Schaab for a time was manager

and George A. Porter bought the plant in 1884. Adding machinery and

operation the factory till 1887, a half interest was sold to Ezra Ensley

and in the spring of 1879, Mr. Porter sold his remaining interest to

George H. Forkner, and Messrs. Ensley & Forkner are quietly doing a good

business as present successors to the first woolen factory.

We call in connection with the factory, the name of Joseph Penny, an

employee, small of stature, scrupulously faithful to his duties. A son,

Leonard, was at one time town marshal and is now a well-to-do resident of

Kansas City. Mr. Penny died and his widow long lived on the fractional lot

now owned by Ella M. Rakestraw and during all those years, no garden spot

in Auburn had finer, choicer flowers, herbs and fruits or was cleaner kept

then hers. Crippled by a fall, she saw suffering in her solitude, was

taken west by her son, but returned to find a home in her age with her

granddaughter, Mr. Millie Brandon.

The annual municipal election at which 108 votes were cast, was closely

contested. The republican cast 55 votes and thereby elected. Messrs. Ford,

Griswold, Stahl and Lowrey, trustees. The vote between Mr. Bumpus and Mr.

Ralston being a tie, it was decided in favor of the latter. Albert Robbins

was chosen clerk, John Otto, treasurer, T.C. Elson, assessor and James

Griswold, marshal.

Messrs. Barney, Morrison and Kuhlman had been previously appointed

school trustees.

Among the names of new voters, were those of Henry Kelling, C.C.

Shaffer, Jacob Walborn and Hezekiah Plummer.

Mr. Kelling was well known for more than a quarter of a century as an

honest, hard working man. As the advance of years impaired his strength,

it did not detract from his diligence and at time of his death in 1891, he

was acting as janitor of our public schools, a position he had long filled

and whose punctilious duties he faithfully performed. There have been few

men in humble life in Auburn, that held higher measure of popular regard or

who were better entitled to remembrance.,

C.C. Shaffer about this time began the business of supplying the

community with furniture and year by year continuing sometimes with short

lived and futile competition, at others, holding a monopoly of the trade,

but ever with uniform prices and unvarying prosperity, he has come to be

regarded as one of Auburn’s most successful men. He established a son and

son-in-law in branch stores in other towns, erected a fine brick residence,

and recently purchasing a part of what was formerly known as the Fluke

lots contiguous northward from the Farmers bank, has built thereon the

handsome and spacious business block in which W. P. Harter now conducts he

extensive trade.

His course indicates what must ever be the reward of patient,

persistent, uniform fair dealing in any calling, whose details have been

mastered and intelligently applied.

Jacob Walborn has been a constant and desirable citizen of Auburn since

1865. At its organization, he had been interested in and prominently

connected with the National bank of which he has been a director and he

was at one time, its president. To his efforts is largely owning the

possession of the Lutheran society of their beautiful, finely arranged

church and to his enterprise, Auburn is much indebted for its growing

reputation for excellent cement walks and crossings. He is regarded as

safe and conservative in business and, as a justice of the peace, unbiased

and just.

Few remember Hezekiah Plummer, who long ago left our town, but in 1865

he was carrying on a cooper shop near or upon property of Hiram Griswold

and was well regarded as a social and agreeable person.

The marriage by S. B. Ward on March 10, 1859, of Hugh Watt to Rachel

Ann Penny has been published, and in 1865 and long years thereafter they

could be found living quietly an happily in the little white-painted

cottage that stood on the site of the present Nusbaum dwelling on Main

street. Over their humble home a huge willow’s wide spreading branches

cast protecting shadows and within its doors dwelt peace and comfort, and

in it Mr. Watt died ant a good old age.

Judge E. B. Mott, of whom special mention has been made in chapters of

earlier years of Auburn, died Sept. 30th, 1865, and his widow, Mrs. Mary

Mott, now in her 87th year, lived for twenty subsequent years in the old

home next north of that of J. W. Baxter on North Cedar street. On January

21st, 1886, she removed to the pleasant farm property of her daughter Mrs.

Julia M. Hodges, just north of the town on the road to Waterloo and is

there passing her remaining years.

It is not generally known that Mrs. Ann S. Stephens, who enjoyed a

national reputation until her demise, as the leading contributor to

Peterson’s Magazine was sister to Mrs. Mott, who is herself a woman of

strong character possessing qualities that commend her to the esteem of

many friends, and despite age and infirmity, one who takes lively interest

in passing

events and matters of public and national import.

The ignis fatuus of a railroad to Auburn continued to allure the public

whose attention was now drawn to a new quarter, and not unfounded hopes

began to be cherished that at a period not far distant, such a road would

be constructed from the city of Ft. Wayne via Auburn northward to Michigan

and thereby bring the town in touch with the great salt and lumber

interests of that state. Preliminary steps towards that end had been taken

at Ft. Wayne, early in January 1865, by formation of a company to build a

railroad from that city, passing through Auburn to Jonesville.

Already an appropriation had been made by Michigan from a grant from

Congress, of six sections per mile for the part of the proposed road

within her territory and application had been made to Congress for a like

donation for the portion between the state line and Ft. Wayne.

The railroad was to be known as the Fort Wayne & Michigan and was to

connect at Jonesville with the Lansing & Traverse Bay road running to


Stockholders met Jan 17, and chose six directors who in turn met and

elected John C. Parker, president, F. P. Randall, treasurer, and W. S.

Gilkin, secretary.

The citizens of Ft. Wayne gave them substantial support, and within a

short time nearly $100.000 had been subscribed for stock and when spring

opened, a corps of engineers starting to locate the line, passed through

Auburn and continued their survey north-eastward to the proposed northern


Pervious checks had only served to make Auburn people more desirous and

they watched proceedings with solicitude, ready to respond freely to any

overture calling for assistance. But the time was not yet come.

The newspapers of Auburn were eking out a precarious existence and

losing money to proprietors. Wm. H. Dills stated that dating from the

commencement of his editorial career his position had been far from

enviable and that there was little compensation for incident trouble.

With that issue of the DeKalb Democrat of date Feb. 17th, 1865, he was

relieved at his own request from the uncongenial duties of editor and

superintendent, and publication of the paper was suspended, pending search

for a publisher.

Earlier in May, Howard Coe previously of the Marion Journal leased the

material of the office, rented of Mrs. Leasure the property on South Main

street now owned by Mrs. Sophia Snell, and expressed his intention to cast

his lot with Auburn people and to do his best in the conduct of a

Democratic newspaper.

Declaring the previous price of the DeKalb Democrat "entirely

unremunerative" he increased an annual subscription to $2, and May 12th,

publication was resumed. Mr. Coe took a strong interest in the town and

used to good purpose every occasion to farther its interests. He urged

improvements, commended enterprise and censured lack, with unsparing


Meanwhile Mr. Loveland changed the name of his paper to The Auburn

Observer and Reporter, to no advantage, became discouraged and removing

his press and material to Clyde, Ohio, there started The Clyde Times.

His six years labors at publishing a paper, with the advantage of a

gift of the outfit, had neither enriched, nor won him influence nor

popularity, but his courageous efforts in the conduct of what must be

regarded as pioneer newspaper work in DeKalb county, entitle his memory to

the recognition intended in these reminiscences of bygone days.

Auburn at this time had her large woolen factory, her flouring and

lumber mills, her churches, academy and the advantage of the county

buildings and business, but it was thought that more buildings were


There was plenty of room and no lack of sites for them, but it was a

question whether if built, they would find occupants at a rental to

warrant the outlay. It was suggested that a number of the richer

townsmen unite to build a brick block, three stories high in the business

part of the place, the block to contain six or eight store rooms on the

ground floor, the second story to be used as offices and the third for

halls, and this measure was urged as a help to the town and a profit to


It was felt that Auburn had a future. The trade it should control, the

advantages it should possess and which together build up a town and the

country adjacent would invite location here of various industries, adding

to the importance of the place and the value of local adjacent property.

Although these suggestions did not materialize then, it is noticeable

that when the time did come for action, the building was in consonance

with them.

Looking at our streets this season of 1892, remembering the labor and

material expended upon them, we may well believe the statement of Mr. Coe,

in 1865. "Our streets," said he, "are filthy, the alleys are obstructed,

they offend the senses and endanger the health of the people. The streets

need cleaning, the sidewalks are out of repair, the dilapidated conditions

of the old fence about the public square has become an eye sore to resident

and stranger, visitor and we are wearied of seeing dog fennel per-empting

ground which might be made a beautiful park."

The criticism was timely. The streets in the spring season were almost

impassable. Horses and vehicles sank deep in the mud churned by hoof and

wheel into the consistency of sticky paste. Deep holes formed in the

roadway and through these teams struggled or in attempted avoidance,

encroached upon the domain of the sidewalk.

Summer came and cross streets were beautiful in growth of grass, but

along the traveled roadways, the firm surface was covered with dust that

swept in clouds against dwellings and annoyed passers by.

In the fall, some effort was made to remedy these faults and some of

the few narrow, wooden sidewalks were repaired but there was no system and

little appearance of the public spirit now existing.

Meanwhile, the school trustees had proved fortunate in selection of a

superintendent and the Academy under what for the time must be deemed a

permanent management progressed encouragingly in numbers attending and


Spencer Dills concluded his winter term and followed it by a spring

select term at the close of which he held a picnic in the grove west of

town to which from the public square, the school marched with colors

flying and band playing, and where, following a dinner served, literary

exercises were conducted, when returning near evening to the square they

were briefly addressed by James Morrison, Esq., and dismissed to their


At the present time, educational facilities special and general are

available with trifling cost in many localities in our state that did not

exist in 1865.

The Terre Haute and the Valparaiso training schools had not been

organized, much less the great number of so called normal institutes and

the academies were rightly recognized as the sole available places of

instruction for teachers in the district schools.

At the June term of the board of county commissioners, Mr. Dills had

been appointed school examiner for a term of three years. He knew the

deficiencies of teachers and their advantages and on opening a select

term Aug. 20, especially invited such as proposed teaching, to attend his

school and enjoy such instruction as he was prepared to render in

preparation for their work.

Actual and fanciful benefits of being taught by the examiner

influenced many to attend and the precedent then set has been followed of

forming in fall terms of our graded schools, normal classes to decided


The veterans of the various regiments and batteries mostly returned in

June and it was the general sentiment of the public that their presence

should be appropriately acknowledged by a 4th of July celebration at the

county seat.

Accordingly a meeting was held at the court house on June 12th, of

which Rev. S. B. Ward was chairman. The committee of arrangements was

composed of T. C. Elson, W. Griswold, George Barney, Chester P. Hodge and

T. D. Gross.

Robert Lowry and James I. Best were invited to deliver orations and

John P. Widney was chosen President of the day. The day arrived and was

ushered in by ringing bells, discharges from anvils on the public square

and the music of national airs by the Auburn brass band standing on the

balustrade of the court house cupola.

Throngs poured in from all directions and a multitude assembled

witnessed the raising of a liberty pole 160 feet high, from the center of

the west side of the public square, and cheers loud and long greeted the

stars and stripes as a fine large flag was run up and unfurled to the

morning breeze.

Soldiers in uniform were numerous and everywhere met with cheerful

welcome. By 10:30 a. m. a procession was formed by the marshal, W.

Griswold assisted by Fred Raut. First marched the Auburn band of sixteen

pieces, next came children of the Sabbath schools, Masons and Oddfellows

wearing regalia, then martial music and soldiers of the war for the union.

The place assigned the veterans in the rear gave offense and they with

citizens filed off and marched down Main street to the shade of tall

locast trees then standing along the north side of what is now the

property of Wm. H. McIntosh, where they enjoyed a sumptous banquet, while

the others proceeded to the grove west of town and listened to the

declaration read by James B. Morrison and to an oration pronounced by

Judge Lowry, of Goshen.

The two celebrations over, the crowd commingled and the day passed

happily, Private patriotism and liberality provided evening fireworks and

the soldiers were everywhere made to feel their welcome home again.

A month or so later, enterprising citizens of Newville, gave a dinner

to returned soldiers which was largely attended at which in a grove near

by, Gen. L. J. Blair delivered and impassioned address to his comrades and

to the citizens. He never spoke more eloquently, nor acquitted himself with

greater credit than on this occasion.

It was in August of this year that Wesley Park, the pioneer of Auburn,

was again and finally heard from by the good people of the town. He wrote

a letter that gives us our last impression of the man once familiarly known

here. He was patriotic, prosperous but estranged from the scene of his

early experience.

He had entered the army, became sutler of the 44th Ind., and on leaving

the service had located at Grasons, Missouri, where he had purchased a

farm of 776 acres composed of the finest land in the state paying $9,000,

and had sent word to old acquaintances: "We don’t want to flatter our

friends to come her till they get tired of being sick in DeKalb county"

from which it may be inferred that he was extremely well satisfied with

his location.

As a matter of public interest belonging to this period, a brief

statement of the number of men furnished by DeKalb county to the armies of

the Union together with the amount paid out officially in the line of

bounties and other wise, is here offered which will serve to convey some

idea of the heavy drain made upon the material resources of the people

aside from individual interest and family deprivation.

The number of DeKalb county volunteers in service on Oct. 6, 1862 was

158. Under the call of Oct. 17, 1863, the quota of the county was 155which

was readily filled by recruiting. Under calls of 1864, there were 60

veterans and 600 new recruits credited to the county and 54 men were

drafted making a total of 714 of whom the greater number were three years


The last call of Dec. 19, 1864 supplied 63 enlistments and 172

conscripts or 235 men for periods of one and two years. A summary of the

preceding, making no allowance for re-enlistments, credits this county

with the surprising number of 1862 men.

The amount expended by the county for bounties was $126,600. By

township $12,600. For relief of families of volunteers $24,481. This

gives a grand total of $163,731. The loss to community and to families

through absence of the soldier, the killed, the maimed, the health-

impaired, the private contributions to sanitary stores beyond estimate,

were a part of the price by which this great nation was rescued from


The idea of a county monumental association to cherish, perpetuate and

hand down to posterity the names of all these brave soldiers by engraving

them upon enduring stone, was first suggested by Jason Hubbell, of

Wilmington township, in communication to the press of Jan. 2, 1863. At

the close of the war the matter was agitated and a society was formed or

the erection of a monument to the fallen.

Leading citizens throughout the county identified themselves with the

project. T. R. Dickinson was chosen president of the society, Frank W.

Willis, secretary; John Sinclair, treasurer, and for directors a

representative man from each township. James W. Case being chosen for


Funds were to be raised by private subscription. A person paying $5 was

to receive a certificate of membership for one share. Robert M. Lockhart

was appointed a committee to procure a site. He made a favorable report

and the project seemed in fair way of being realized when it unaccountably

fell through.

Th monument should have been built. The purpose was noble, worthy and

desirable and such designs have been executed at very many places in this

and other states reflecting credit upon the builders and doing honor to

the patriotic public sense of invaluable and meritorious services. May we

not ardently hope that the time is at hand when the matter will be again

brought up and carried completion, that a beautiful shaft on the public

square might long stand a thing of beauty, a lesson to the young, a

recognition by the public and a well earned tribute to the men who saved

the Union.

(The rest of 1865 is unreadable)



One day in the year of 1866, an aged man was seen making tour of our

streets looking in vain for old landmarks obliterated during his absence

of nearly twenty years. He met few whom he knew or who remembered him and

he seemed to appeal for sympathy as he stopped, looked about him and in

his former home found himself a stranger.

In returning to this spot he has to re-establish himself from the

beginning precisely as though he had never known it, or it him. There

were representations of families he had known, but they were all unknown

to him. Time had not condescended to wait his pleasure nor local life, his

greeting. The figure was seen a few days and then disappeared. He had come

to pass here his remaining days, but he could not reconcile his surroundings.

He went away and has never returned.

The changes to him so perplexing had to residents transpired so silently,

so gradually that they had passed almost unnoticed and without a shock, and

this unconscious acquiescence in time’s mutations is a natural law which

accustoms humanity to losses otherwise irreconcilable.

Auburn was not in 1866 the healthy place it has in time become. The

sanitary improvement has kept pace with its expansion of area, increase

of population and accumulating trade and manufacture. The creek bottom

heavily flooded then as now, but the receding waters left debris in the

stagnant pools to rot and evaporate under fervid summer heat till the cool

evening breeze that came with sunset, was freighted with nocious miasma,

the frightful germs of fever and ague that still held periodical and

merciless away.

Physicians were numerous, but as sickness decreased, one by one went

elsewhere; some returned for brief periods and again departed, other have

come and remained. Of these are J. H. Ford, J. B. Casebeer and D. J.

Swarts, who have long been friends in need when we were weak, sick and

suffered pain. Age and neglect of the rules of health ever result in

infirmity and death and there is no calling stands above medicine and

surgery. How we depend upon the doctor when life and death tremble in the

balance and how they have oftimes to trust us when they have tided us over

our crisis!

Independence of the public and convenience for self were illustrated in

the monopoly of street an sidewalk ground for use of grazing, woodpiles,

wagons and in one instance an extension of a rail fence augmented the area

plowed for garden products. Logs encumbered the streets adjacent to the

public square east of the court house and the proprietor of the saw-mill

seemed indifferent to the convenience of the public and the appearance of

the town.

On the other hand, shade trees were being set out in front of residences

throughout the place, guarded, but not always effectually by boxing against

the riotous attacks of the commoner cows. This interest was extended to the

grounds of the public square on which Wyllys Griswold set out evergreens

and shade trees to the extent of a town appropriation of $25, which moneys

are seen to have been well expended and are a lasting monuments of Mr.

Griswold’s public spirit.

Bills allowed by the town board were largely for lumber and for

labor in constructing sidewalks. The town’s employes at he time were James

Johnson, John Moore and Samuel Poffenberger, the latter a son of the

sheriff of an early day. Again, under pressure, the swine ordinance

interfered with their freedom of the town and advancing a step, horses

were brought under ban and restrained from running at large. A broad and

substantial walk, at the instance of the school trustees, was built by

Father Watt from Main street along Twelfth street to the Academy grounds,

greatly to the convenience of the troops of children converging and

diverging to and from schools.

The woolen factory fairly at work was doing a prosperous business and

had in operation seven looms, there sets of cards and two hundred and

twenty spindles. C. S. Hare was building the comfortable dwelling still

occupied by his daughter, Mrs. Sadie Yesbea; U. E. Babb, the popular

artist was putting up a neat residence; vacant lots were being occupied

and several were improving and modernizing their homes. The Ralston

building, next south of the Swineford house, was built in 1866, by our old

neighbor, Francis Picker, than whom there were few better brick layers

before he had the misfortune to lose a hand. The old gentleman has seen

his children practicing their father’s trade in Auburn and elsewhere with

credit and profit to themselves. George, the oldest boy since moved west

where industry, plenty of work and good wages have made him practically

independent, and Charles has been town marshal and is regarded as a

reliable and capable brickmason. Many of our town people could take at

least a partial lesson from the neatness about the Picker premises.

In the line of business, Messrs Elson & Jennings were still engaged in

the grocery trade as also was A. Robbins. Philip Fluke was operating his

tannery. Robert B. Showers was a licensed auctioneer, Henry Wartenslaben

combined painting, glazing and clock repairing. W. H. Dills was in the

real estate business and contributed political articles to the local

newspaper. John Lobmiller competed with Christoper C. Shafer for patronage

in furniture and undertaking. James W. Case in partnership with W. H.

McIntosh had brought from the east a small stock of goods and entered upon

a good trade and George Kessler and Dr. J. B. Casebeer under the firm name

of Kessler & Casebeer had an extensive practice dissolved at last when the

former went elsewhere.

Rev. S. B. Ward, active and enterprising in religious concerns, had

conducted a series of night meetings with good results. Devoid of

sectarian teaching, he had invited the co-operation of all denominations

and the revival was productive of much benefit in heightening the moral

tone of the community and strengthening the adherence of christian people

in their faith and practice.

Rev. C. A. Evans, of South Bend occasionally occupied the pulpit of the

Presbyterian church and Rev. Emanuel Hales served the churches of Auburn

and Waterloo to the acceptance of both congregations.

The officers of Auburn Lodge No 116 at this time were Thomas D. Gross N.

G., Samuel Wise V.G., Henry, Altenberg R. S., John Butt, treasurer and

William H. Dills permanent secretary, and this fact is narrated as a

startling lesson of the brevity of life, since of them all, so far as we

have information, none now survive of these once familiarly known and

enterprising citizens.

In this connection, it may be stated that on May 7th the town board had

sold to Whedon W. Griswold for $380.00, the tract purchased from C. S. Hare

for a burial place and soon thereafter, Mr. Griswold proceeded to have the

ground surveyed and platted into suitable blocks. A quarter of a century

has sufficed to occupy all that space with the remains of loved and lost

ones and there are few of the long resident families in our towns but have

one or more of those missing from the home circle buried there.

For years we have seen Auburn embarassed by lack of facilities for

outside communication. It was easy to show what should be done to change

these conditions to bring prosperity, but efforts still failed and plans

most promising were frustrated. In February, encouraging news was received

relative to the resumption of work on and completion of the Logansport &

Northern Indiana railroad. The directors had held a meeting and elected

the usual officers. A Dr. Smith who was then chosen president, expressed

his intention to hold meetings at points along the line of the road, to

arouse and inform the people. He also, purposed to push measures for an

early resumption of operations.

Bonds were authorized and issued to the amount of $1,500,000.00 to

provide means for construction. The company were negotiating for rails;

the chief engineer, Mr. Mercher was set to work to secure right of way

through tracts of land not hitherto obtained and in full belief of

remunerative advantages, there were strong hopes that by autumn, work

would have so far been matured that contracts to complete grading the

road would be begun.

But the time had not yet come and during a part of the year the dirt

roads which formed the only avenues of communication became so bad as to

place an actual embargo on travel and left the county seat practically


Large sums in the aggregate, under the caption of road revenue, had

been assessed to the various townships and towns of the county and worked

out at the discretion and convenience of the farmers with varying effects

upon the highways proportioned to the skill of the supervisor and the

public spirit of people, and, to facilitate intercourse, the count

commissioners authorized bridges to be built over streams to expedite

travel. As an instance, a contract was let on April 14, to William

Valleau, the lowest bidder, of $5700 for the construction of a bridge

across the St. Joe river at Newville. The amount attests the earnest

desire of the people for improvements and their willingness to be taxed to

provide the necessary funds.

There were a few leading citizens whose unflagging determination about

this time seemed to promise and innovation in highways and a good road

between the towns of Auburn and Waterloo. In December, a company was

organized at the county seat to be known as "The Auburn and Waterloo City

Plank Road Company."

The name sufficiently indicated the purpose of the association, Messrs.

J. L. Worden, S. W. Ralston, Edward Eldridge, L. Rainier and L. J. Blair

were chosen directors. A petition was presented to the board of county

commissioners in regular session asking the use of the existing highway

between the towns and this request was granted on the reasonable condition

that the purposed improvement should be begun within a year and completed

within two years.

The project having reached this stage fell through as many another has

dome but it was a move in the right direction, that had it been consummated

would long ere this have resulted in a gravel road of which the plank roads

were precursers and it would have changed the character of road work, now

a reproach to the community, a fruitless labor and, at times, a detriment

to travel.

There was one satisfaction amidst adverse surroundings in the great

numbers of valuable forest trees still preserved and gradually coming into

notice and demand for purposes of manufacture. A serious drawback began to

present itself as a possible help. On farms near Auburn and occupying many

acres of lands stood thousands of magnificent trees that had enhanced in

value with the progress of time and were seen to constitute a strong

reserve for supply of the coming manufacturer as well as a needed revenue

for the owners. The convenience of this splendid material, together with

its abundance and the profits possible for parties locating here, began to

be advertised and this hitherto neglected field attracted attention, at

first with inconsiderable results, later to a degree profitable to directly

interested parties and highly favorable to the welfare of the town.

In narration of earlier history attention was called to the astonishing

number of deer that had their home in the woods of all this region but the

deer and the deer slayers save in rare exceptions have passed away. It

would be difficult to determine who killed the first deer in DeKalb county

but early in the morning on Nov. 5, 1866 Mr. Osbun and son killed five

deer near their farm in Jackson township and these were the last of that

noble game which had contributed so much to the scanty fare of the pioneers

of the county. The saddles were brought to Auburn and sold at 12 to 15

cents per pound, furnishing a rarity and a final treat to purchasers.

Mention has been made of the uncertainty of currency and the usual

drawback of counterfiet and worthless paper. All this was changed by the

exigences caused by the war for the Union, which gave to the people the

best paper money known good for its face value always and everywhere.

It will be interesting to readers to recur to the medium of exchange in

use in 1866 when gold and sliver certificates had not been thought of and

when our people were familiar with treasury notes, gold premiums and high

prices, when a double eagle was a curiosity and a sliver dollar, a rarity.

Gold is no longer a novelty, silver is a burden and an issue in

politics, while the national bank note and the once depreciated greenbacks

are equal in value and superior in use to the specie which they represent.

The fractional currency to which in 1866 we had become accustomed,

suddenly disappeared with the coming of silver, and with it went

convenience for mailing and postage, to which

the rising generation are strangers.

Knowing that these bits of paper bearing Spinner's unique signature

would soon become curious menentoes of the past, not a few people retained

and saved specimens, and there are several persons in Auburn, who have

complete sets of the various issues from three cents to fifty. Taken in

hand they bear one back in mind to their day when a compound interest

note, a seven-thirty bond or a five-twenty six per cent bore evidence of

the straits of the government and its fight for financial honor.

One day in the fall of 1866, two men came into the store of Case & Co.,

to settle some business, and one, to make a payment, drew from his

pocketbook a roll of demand notes, the first issue of the government

payable in gold. When the writer remarked the strangeness of the seeing

such preferred paper in circulation, the debtor awakened to knowledge of

its value, hastily gathered them up postponed settlement with his creditor

and left the store, Some one, possibly himself, had hoarded them as others

did gold, all the years of the war, ignorantly paying them out as such

when as exclamation of surprise gave him a clue to their character.

One issue of treasury notes born upon the back the inscription,

"exchangeable in U.S. 6 per cent bonds, etc." and Prof. Hodge and the

writer got together $500, of them, wrote to the U. S. treasurer asking a

bond as promised, in exchange, and received a brief reply that congress

had annuled its promise and each bill thereafter bore evidence of more

solvent condition of the treasury. Greenback continue to be exempt from

taxation. This exemption, a necessity to maintain credit during the war,

has long been an outrage on the farmer, the tradesman and those of limited

means since its provision favors those who should pay most and are most

able to pay taxes.

Accustomed to inflated or high prices, people parted with their paper

money freely in exchange for calico and muslin at twenty-five cents a

yard, loaf sugar at the same price per lb., Bio coffee three pounds for a

dollar; tea, $2.00 a pound; ladies’ cloth, $2.00 per yard and other

articles in the same proportion. A scarcity of salt occurring, the writer

proceeded to Waterloo an bought at $3,00 a barrel about sixty barrels, all

that he could find for sale and paying Isaac Roth the teamster 25 cents

per barrel for hauling it to Auburn resold it at $3.25 cash on delivery

for the benefit of customers.

As produce had a corresponding high price, the trade was not adverse,

but the prices quoted stand out in marked contrast to those paid for the

same articles in these days of railroad transportation and cheap, extensive


Stimulated by the high prices for wool during the war, caused by the

demand for clothing and blankets for a million of soldiers, sheep raising

had greatly increased and the clip at a dollar a pound enriched many but

as the demand ceased the price quickly fell away, and the flocks became

unremunerative and a useless burden necessitating their decease and often


Our well known townsman James Griswold then living on North Main street

made it a business to buy sheep and slaughter them for pelts and tallow,

saving for meat only the hind quarters, and mutton became a drug without

a market.

Deprived of this hitherto resource calculated to enrich their land as

well as their pocket books, farmers looked about for some other to take

its place and were met by John Stoner and others who established agencies

at stores in the towns for the loan of flaxseed and a concerted movement

to cultivate flax was attempted., Buildings were erected to manufacture

the fiber, near Butler and at other points and considerable acreage was

sown to this seed. The flax seed raised was bought at good prices, but the

attempt to manufacture the fiber failed. The farmers returned to their

staples of corn and wheat and the threatened exhaustion of land consequent

to this crop was averted by the failure.

Howard Coe the sole publisher of a newspaper in Auburn, began the year

hard pressed for funds, very few of those taking the DeKalb Democrat having

paid their subscriptions. Whether patrons did or did not pay, the

publisher who required paper, ink, etc., besides labor, found himself

compelled to make payment in cash for his supplies with the alternative of

suspension and each week was a crisis passed with unbroken faith that the

future would see some degree of relief. Few unless they have themselves

been through the experience can realize the strong pressure upon a county

publisher for funds under these circumstances. To him a "Roll of Honor"

bearing names of paying subscribers is no empty title and the reluctant

notice to delinquents, is often a forced call for much needed help. In

this light, it is not surprising that the necessities of Mr. Coe compelled

him to give space in his limited columns to advertisements from abroad for

the cash, he could not obtain at home.

Business houses in Butler, Ft. Wayne, and Toledo, dealers in dry goods,

groceries, photographs, jewelry, books, insurance and to other interests,

were represented in the Democrat and even with these foreign auxiliaries,

the exigencies were hard to meet despite the fact that this paper was the

sole exponent of Auburn’s business interests.

The vote at the municipal election was 122. It was nearly equally

divided and the increased number indicated growth of population. Party

lines were broken as has frequently been the case down to the present, and

in a vote of 62 republican, to 59 democrats, Jacob Walborn was chosen one

of the town’s trustees, the other being Griswold, Stahl, Myer and Lowry.

Albert Robbins was elected clerk, John L. Davis, Assessor; John Otto,

treasurer, and William Humes. Marshal.

Political matters periodically stirred up the latent loyalty of people

to respective parties and the novelty of a joint discussion of the issues

of the day, between Judge Robert Lowry and William Williams, familiarly

known as Bob Lowry and Billy Williams, attracted a large audience on

August 14th, to the then capacious courtroom. Those privileged to hear the

debate, while enjoying the speeches, were enabled to pass upon the

intellectual ability and political soundness of those candidates for

popular suffrage to congressional honors, in a far better degree than was

possible when partisans in factional assemblies make statements calculated

more to inflame zeal then to disseminate information.

A democratic or a republican campaign meeting in which speakers

unchallenged malign the opposition rarely wins recruits to its standard,

and the debate in question stand as the sole instance of its application

to a popular canvass in this county.

The interests in education was demonstrated more in the attendance than

in provision of the means to maintain the schools. The trustees in 1866,

were S. W. Sprott, G. Kuhlman and T. D. Gross. At an April session of the

board, Mr. Sprott was instructed to cause necessary repairs to be made on

the school building and about the grounds and the special levy for payment

of such like expenses was put at 25c., on each $100, valuation of town

reality and personal. Again in November, the trustees met to consider

applications and proposals of teachers desiring situations in the Auburn

schools and as a result, contracted with Spencer Dills to be principal at

$65 a month, Thomas J. Saxton, first assistant at $50, Miss Frank Clark,

intermediate at $30, and Miss Julia Hoover, primary, at $25.

The term began Dec. 3rd, with the condition that its duration would be

four months or until the funds were exhausted. The enrollment was 221, and

the average daily attendance was 160. The text books superior in some

respects to those now in use, were McGuffey’s readers, Ray’s arithmetic,

Mitchell’s and Monteith’s geographies and Pinneo’s grammar. In the

advanced classes, the books used and the number in each study were as

follows: Cutter’s physiology 18, Wilson’s history of the United States 14,

Mahew’s book keeping 12, Rays’ Algebra 7, and one each Davies geometry and

Andrews and Stoddard’s first book in Latin. Physiology and history had

recently been added to the branches in which teachers were expected to be

examined an that fact explains the number pursuing those previously

neglected and to may, distasteful studies.

Within the well-known pages of the books numerated, most of those in

middle age garnered their school lore. Their introduction marked an epoch

in schooling and the duration of their retention was evidence of their

merit and popularity.

When Mr. Sprott was empowered to put the school building in repair, he

was at the same time directed to exercise a general superintendence of the

schools, provide fuel and whatever else was essential to their operation.

It is on record that at a meeting held in the office of the woolen

factory an examination of his accounts and vouchers showed an over payment

in behalf of the schools of $247.23 for which an order was given him on

the school treasurer who was himself. He was, at once, clerk secretary

and treasurer of the school board, faithfully attended to his several

duties and for his services was allowed $40.00. And additional bill for

services to John Sheffer of $17.44 increased the debt to $204.67 and the

fund was that more than exhausted.

In his capacity of school examine, Spencer Dills was restricted to

what he could accomplish as a teacher in which he was popular and

successful; but when he had desired to see district schools in session to

assist teachers by suggestions, awaken interest among patrons and to weed

out the incompetent, he was checked by an ill-advised order by the Board

of County Commissioners to the effect that "the school examiner of DeKalb

county be notified to visit no more schools on the expense of the county

until further orders." Mr. Dills acquiesced in the order and associating

with him T. J. Saxton, had conducted a teacher’s term which was largely

attended to their and the pupil’s mutual profit, and it was a pleasant

sight at close of school each day to see the numerous groups of young

people coming down the walk from the old academy and scattering to their

temporary homes among our citizens. It was gratifying to those who had

been instrumental in securing for the town such advantages to find that

the county seat held precedence in education and it was a promise of

prosperity since good schools are one of the strongest and best incentives

to intelligent people to locate where they are established,



The drummer on business, the traveler for pleasure, the relatives to visit

kinsmen and old time friends, coming by hack or stage from Ft. Wayne or

Waterloo, alighting at one of the two hotels, after a weary ride over

rough roads, found a restful pleasure in the drowsy county seat, so

isolated from the busy world, so country-like in the appearance and

disposition of its streets.

Despite the publication of successive ordinances rarely read and

chiefly constituting a needed patronage to Howard Coe of the Democrat,

cows pastured the luxuriant grass by day and raided the garden by night in

seeming wantonness during summer months, and fearlessly foraged the lunch

of hay intended for their horses from farmer’s sleighs in winter.

There was much debate about needed sidewalks and crossings by the town

board an sense of opposition by delay on part of the lot owners. No one

seemed desirous of making a record by public example of voluntary

improvements and much municipal legislation went by default.

To provide for increased security against fires the board decided to

have a fire warden whose duty was to attend to the proper placing and

protection of stoves and stovepipes. S. B. Ward was appointed to this

office. For a time discharged its functions when he resigned and H. E.

Altenberg was installed his successor.

At the town election 119 votes were cast and parties continued to be

equally matched. A single vote elected Walborn, Davis, Watt, Hare and

Berry. Among the voters at this election were Simon L. Yandes, Wallace

Robbins, Maritn L. Duck, J. B. Casebeer and John Hebel. Of these Dr.

Casebeer is the only present resident of the town.

The report by John Otto, treasurer was the first and only one in many

years which stated in full the financial condition of the municipal fund

which was as follows: Receipts, cash and orders $278.59. Orders redeemed

$378.59. Cash balance $1.07 and orders outstanding $994.99.

Property in ’67 was slow of sale. The ideas of owners and of possible

buyers were far apart. There were many lots that could have been had for

a fraction of their value, and business stands on Main street changed

owners for considerations that showed almost despair that the place would

ever be much more that it was.

There was great need of a newspaper with a sanguine energetic editor,

one who could perceive and note the possibilities of the locality and

enlist combined popular effort, but these were wanting.

Coe and later Carroll in small rooms with hand press, too poor to

publish such a newspaper as Auburn needed, sent out papers which rather

disclosed weakness than suggested stability. In fact to some extent the

character end prosperity of a town are fairly typified by the local

publication, and the community, perhaps more than they are aware, are

interested in the neatness, size and contents of the sheets that weekly

represent them to the public at home an aboard.

In November Howard Coe sold his interest in the Democrat to Wm. H.

Dills who placed it in the hands of Mr. Moon who was a practical printer

and was to have acted as the publisher. The issue of the paper meanwhile

was temporarily suspended.

The fire that during the winter of ’67 and ’68 burned out Messrs. Hare,

Eldridge and Davis, at the same time destroyed the office and the press of

the Democrat. Mr. Coe removed and once again Auburn was for a brief time

without a paper. One H. D. Carroll essayed to publish a newspaper which he

called the Democrat in 1868, but it proved a failure and was soon

discontinued leaving behind no chance copy, no remembrance scarcely to the

unfortunate publisher.

At Waterloo J. F. Radcliffe & Co. maintained the credit of the town and

kept up a proper standard for the press till Sept when T. Y. Dickinson

Esq., who had been abroad as consul at Leipsic associated with Mr.

Radcliffe in the publication as editor and later B. F. Kennedy became a

partner of the firm.

The war had been a period of inflation and feverish excitement; its

close for a time saw no change, but gradually collapse of business

followed lack of demand for farm products. Prostration was felt in a

thousand towns, and Auburn in 1867 was entering upon a crisis that

involved a struggle to retain the county seat and maintain its fading


Creatures of imitation, under strong confident leadership, we are all

disposed to follow and example; but at this dark period there was no one

who cared to invest capital in business where failure was inevitable and

the example was wanting.

In looking about for some relief, the growing prosperity of Waterloo

was observed and attributed to its facilities of communication by reason

of its location on the line of railroad and when a party of engineers came

along one day making a preliminary survey for a road, the business men

gladly contributes to defray the expense and fondly hoped that far away

they saw a golden gleam in the clouds presaging better times.

Some advantages expected from the projected railroad northward into

Michigan and south to Ft. Wayne were readily apparent and the possibilities

of others began to be discussed. In this state, taxes are paid in the

court house at the county seat, and as roads were, the pilgrimage thither

to pay their "rent" by those living in remote townships was attended with

inconveniences that vanished with the laying down of the lines of track

converging at Auburn.

It was known that lumber, salt and all freight would be cheapened and

it was reasoned that increased value of real estate, growth of business,

encouragement to manufacture and ready communication with other towns were

sufficient grounds for soliciting and inducing liberal subscriptions, ever

the surest means of getting a railroad. There will always be found people

ready to form companies and build railroads to any point, provided the

people will donate the money to do it with. If building was to be done,

cheap lumber would be one inducement, and salt in 1867 was so high and

scarce at times that the farmers south of Auburn were as badly off for

this necessity as their fathers had been in their pioneer days.

The credit system with its pernicious bearing upon both the truster and

the trusted was till in vogue and the grocer and the dealer in dry goods

carried the farmer till by sale of wool clip, wheat crop or stock, hogs

and cattle, he realized sufficiently to settle up.

There was urgent need of a market for the produce that with slight

encouragement would have been brought to Auburn, but the town was helpless

in this respect and it was as unpleasant as it was unprofitable to see

farmers driving north along Main street seeking buyers of their loads of

grain at Corunna and Waterloo where to a considerable extent, once there,

they did their trading. To encourage and increase this trade, the Waterloo

merchants left for themselves, at times, little if any margin and this

continued till 1869 when the too well known firm of M. & A. Hale becoming

involved, offered such prices that their store became the farmers’ Mecca.

Having granted much and many accommodations, the firm in turn asked

credit which was extensively given, till doubts of their stability were

awakened, suspicion ripened into certainty, and a "Hale storm" developed

that well nigh ruined numbers and left the community nearly $75,000 poorer.

They compromised at a paltry percent and the assets were principally

consumed in settlement.

The Hales were enterprising businessmen and did much to attract trade

to Waterloo, but their heavy failure more than equaled their services to

the town and struck a blow from which it was difficult to recover in loss

of prestige in community.

Confidence is the soul of credit and it has been a great help to

Auburn. Various parties attributing previous failures to cause by which

they were certain they would not suffer, came to town, opened one or

another kind of goods, ran their brief, disastrous career and silently

departed to give place to others no less unfortunate. It was not that

they were not good business men and mention of their names in connection

with their efforts to secure patronage would reflect credit for their ill

fated perseverance.

Illy bestowed trust resulting in total loss and light demand on part of

the townspeople rendering supply easy, forbade extended opening, and the

remedy has been found is increase of population, establishment of

manufactures, of good market for fair dealing.

The woolen mill of whose history we have spoken, continued manufacture

and its cloths of fine material, well spun and woven, found ready sale

from shelves of town stores and demand elsewhere.

The saw mill east of the court house was kept busy cutting lumber for

logs brought there in large numbers and the grist mills were invaluable

during this critical period and the wreck by boiler explosion of the Union

mills was felt to be a misfortune threatening what of promise the town had.

The grand army of the public has posts at Auburn, Waterloo, Butler,

Garret and St. Joe enrolling a large number of ex-soldiers and constituting

an organization highly meritorious in their deeds of charity to the needy

and sympathy to those in trouble. In the spring of 1867, an abortive

attempt was made at Auburn to found there a post. Better success was met

at Waterloo when early in March the first post in DeKalb county was

established. This same lively town, also about the same time took the

first step looking to the supply of banking facilities as a broker’s and

banking office was there opened by J. D. Harford.

In Feb. ’67, John L. Davis of Auburn, received the appointment of agent

of the M. W. Express office in his hardware store, and for many years

furnished extended facilities for the transaction of business of this

character. The public were under great obligations to him for this

improvement and gave him their patronage till recently when increasing

trade and other business led to the transfer of express matters to others.

There were frequent changes in the managers of the mails. Major

Sprott was commissioned to succeed Case, only to be superseded by John D.

Burr and he in turn by William Rush for these were the days of

reconstruction when Andrew Johnson was "swinging around the circle."

At the court house, George R. Hoffman as recorder was, during, a part of

his time this year, employed by the returned soldiers in recording their

discharges thus sensibly making provision against possible loss in the

futures when those papers have proved so valuable to their aging and

infirm owners.

Lewis J. Blair had been nominated for the office of treasurer by the

republican party of the county and his election had followed. He employed

to assist him John D. Burr, previously mentioned. Auburn had no bank, and

the taxes collected in the spring in one installment, were for the most

part deposited in a safe, which bore, but little resemblance to the solid

and secure successor at present in use.

And now DeKalb county, her townships, and her towns experienced a loss

whose effects on schools, on corporations, on individuals and on political

supremacy were gravely felt.

On Sunday morning Feb. 17, the sensational rumor spread through Auburn

and out into the country that the treasury had been robbed during the night.

The report proved true; the safe had been burglarized without discovery and

the sun abstracted was reported ant nearly $19,000.

The outer door being of iron had been drilled into and pried off, and

the wooden door had been easily forced open. The outer door of the safe

had been expertly cut through the panels above and below the lock, the

inner bolt withdrawn and the door thrown open. The inner money chest had

been forced by steel wedges and bars in a manner that indicated an expert


An eager anxious thong soon filled the office looking with astonishment

at the result of the marvelous power of the tools and the rare skill of

the burglars. All about the floor lay scattered orders and papers, but

everything of money kind had vanished leaving behind no clue.

It was never ascertained who tool the money, nor how much had been

taken, and although a reward of $5,000 was offered for the arrest of the

burglars, and some money paid for ineffectual detective work, the

perpetrators of the robbery escaped with their booty.

The treasurer fell under the ban of suspicion and at the instance of a

patent safe company was arrested, promptly gave bail for his appearance

when wanted and the case was heard before George Wolf, justice of the

peace, in a grove at Waterloo. The public attended and great interest was

excited in the trial.

Distinguished attorneys had been engaged by both parties. A. Allen and

Judge Worden for the prosecution; Jas. I. Best, James B. Morrison and A. M.

Pratt. for the defense. Evidence of so-called detectives was give, the safe

was examined, and the verdict was a vindication of the official. The

followed a suit against the bondsmen, changes of venue, heavy lawyers’

fees and a final judgement which was never enforced, and in the end the

county, as has invariably happened, had again been robbed, but the second

time by the costly course of legal proceedings.

The pillage of the county treasury proved disastrous, not only to the

financial interest of county, towns and townships in increase of existing

debt and loss of funds with which to carry on the schools but to the

political supremacy in DeKalb, of the republican party to which popular

sentiment justly or unjustly ascribed responsibility for the theft of

public funds.

The credit of the county, low enough previously sank yet lower.

Warrants on the treasury ran two and a half years before called for

redemption and were reluctantly taken at a 10 per cent discount, while in

some townships special school orders were depreciated lower still. As an

instance of that time, Wilmington township with eleven small delapidated

framed school house, had outstanding orders on the special school fund

that could not be sold for 90 cts on the $1, and which ran four years

before they could be paid.

In happy contrast to those dark days, stands the credit of the county,

its warrants worth their face and Wilmington township is proud of her fine

brick buildings an ample grounds geographically located, her funds on hand

and her low tax levies.

Division of taxes into two installments payable in spring and fall, and

convenience of a half dozen bands where in temporarily securing funds can

be safely distributed, have with drawn temptation from the treasurer’s

safe and the costly experience of ’67 will last this county many years to


Although disaster had fallen upon the finances of the county and

depression and discouragement were experienced by the business interests

of the town of Auburn whose out look was far from favorable, matters of

church and school, especially the latter were looking up and attracting

unusual attention.

Previous annals had given something of the part of history of officers

and pastors of the Presbyterian church of Auburn and now, when early in

1867, a regular pulpit supply had been found in the person of Rev. Charles

Evans, it seems proper to attempt a connected history of this prosperous

and enterprising denomination down to the present.

After the resignation of Rev. Charles A. Munn, there had been a time

when the church was occupied by casual preachers only. Rev. C. Evans had

been in charge but a year when he was succeeded by Rev. Levi C. Littell,

who had his home in Waterloo and filled a pulpit in each town until the

spring of ’71, when the services of Rev. J. B. Fowler, resident and

preacher at Waterloo, were procured for the Auburn church, following the

same course of dividing the time equally during a period of two years,

when the increased prosperity and Auburn and accessions to the population

consequent to the building of railroads, stimulated and encouraged the

society to independent action.

The services of Rev. J. E. Fisher were secured for two years. His

sermons were impressive and eloquent; he gave his entire time and thought

to furthering the growth of the church and the congregation steadily

increased under his ministration, During his pastorate, the society

purchased for 440, of Guy Plumb, the lot on which it was purposed to erect

a substantial church building as soon as practicable. A new organ was

bought and in April ’74, E. D. Hartman and S. B. Miller were added to the

session by selection as elders.

In ’75, the church engaged Rev. Henry Johnston, who had just graduated

at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Chicago, Ill. They found him a

ready and able speaker, of affable manners and generous impulses and he

speedily met with gratifying favor an success. The following winter, he

held a series of meetings, which were characterized by a deep spiritual

interest and awakening that concluded with many accessions, among whom

were an unusual proportion of heads of families. In October, the

congregation directed the trustees to sell the old frame church and the

ground on which it stands, to the Evangelical Lutheran church for $650.

The sale was effected with the reserve of the right of occupancy for one


In the spring of ’76 a subscription was circulated to raise means to

build a new church, and Messrs Gibbs & Moser, architects of Toledo, Ohio,

were employed to prepare plans and specifications for the edifice. The

contract was let by Messrs. Joseph Albright, E.D. Harman and S. B. Miller,

trustees, to the firm of Bumpus & Hollinger. The building committee were,

Williams, R. Elson and Dr. W. S. Allen. Work was soon begun and the

structure was substantially completed within the year at a cost of about

$6.000. The masonry was laid under direction of A. Wheaton, and the

brickwork by George Picker.

At that date, the church was the finest, costliest and most complete in

all its appointments of any in the county. The style of architectures is

a modified Gothic, the accoustic properties and the ventilation are

excellent. Heating is by furnace of approved pattern and gas is used for

lighting. The audience room has a seating capacity of 500. Desk and

chairs were provided instead of the cumbersome pulpit of older styled


(Recently in 1892, the entire church has been fitted up with electric,

incandescent lights-Ed.)

All woodwork composed of oak, walnut and spruce pine, well oiled and

varnished shows the natural grain of wood.

The windows are of stained, enameled glass and like many of the churches

erected of later years, the ceiling is replaced by a lattice truss roof

which to gives the inside of the church a lofty, spacious appearance. A

fine bell was provided about the date of the occupation of the building.

On Jan. 14th ’77, the church was formally dedicated; Rev. J. D. McCord,

of Allegan, Mich., by invitation officiated at the service. There followed

a series of continued meetings conducted by the pastor, Re. Henry Johnson,

which resulted in a large accession to the membership.

The personal efforts of the active members and friends had been great

both for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the church, and as is usual

after such a strain something of a reaction followed, but the fruits of

their labors were not lost. Many of those brought in have stood the

sifting process of time, and the beautiful and commodious edifice stands

an enduring monument of faithful, self-denying exertion.

Rev. Henry Johnson on July 13,’76 was joined in marriage to Miss Ciddy

Hare of Auburn, and continued to serve the church acceptably until the fall

of ’80, when he responded to a call from the First Presbyterian church at

Grand Haven, Mich., on of the most important churches of the denomination,

in that state, and removing with his family there resided for a time. Later

he accepted the charge of a church at Big Rapids and at this date, he is

pastor of a church at South Bend, Ind. In every field, to the

gratification of his many Auburn friends, his ministry has been marked by

uniform and brilliant success.

Rev. W. F. Mathews supplied the pulpit one year to Oct. 1, 1882, and

was succeeded by Rev. J. D. McCord who remained till Nov. 1, 1883,. This

minister was of mature years, a genial friend, a forcible speaker and

speedily won favor in the community at large.

The church was next supplied by Rev. G. W. Barr until Dec. 1884. He,

too, was an able preacher, went west, and on occasion revisiting Auburn,

entertained an attentive audience by a lecture graphically depicting the

wonderful scenery of that section. During his stay, A. C. Wilson, Edward

Baker and Richard Elson, were by election added to the eldership, Griswold

died, Elson and Miller removed from the state. For a time the pulpit was

occupied by Rev. D. S. Stephens. President of Adrain College, Mich.

Arrangements has been made for him to continue his services on alternate

Sabbaths until a permanent pastor could be secured. His able, interesting

and instructive sermons continuously attracted large and appreciative

congregations during his preaching here.

At a congregational meeting held May 20, ’86, Rev. Henry A. Sawyers who

had just completed a regular course in the Lane Theological Seminary at

Cincinnati, Ohio, was engaged to supply the church, having already

acceptably filled the pulpit several Sabbaths, and, on Sept. 27, ’86

responding to a regular call from the church, he was duly installed as

pastor by the Presbytery and served faithfully as such until July 1, 1890

when he removed to Cameron, Mo., having received a call from the

Presbyterian church of that place.

Mr. Sawyers was married during the first year of his pastorate to Miss

Martha S. Scott, and estimable and cultured lady who still shares with her

husband the respect and esteem of Auburn people. After the departure of Mr.

Sawyers, the church was favored with preaching service only, at intervals

until the 14th of the following December when Rev. George Wade Healy, the

present pastor, who was then a member of the senior class in the McCormick

Theological Seminary at Chicago, Ill., began to occupy the pulpit by

invitation of the church and continued thus in connection with his studies

until graduation in the following spring when he came to reside at Auburn,

and was on a regular call from the church, installed as pastor by the

Presbytery on April 27, ’91.

The church owns the lot adjoining the church edifice on the south. This

lot was purchased and paid for several years ago, through the efforts of

the Ladies Society of the church., and is intended for occupation as a

parsonage. In 1891, the old building, which stood on the ground, was sold

and removed and it is proposed before long to take measures for the

erection of a home for the pastor.

The Ladies Society has been an efficient help in all church matters.

During eighteen years by voluntary social gatherings they had raised a

large sum of money therewith paying for lots, fitting up the basement, and

within the last year caused the auditorium to he newly carpeted, decorated

and furnished with electric lights, contributing largely to the attractive

and beautiful appearance of the room as well as the comfort of the


The trustees F. J. Yesbera, J. E. Rose, C. E. Emanuel and J. Otto have

within the last year procured a new furnace, have had the church exterior

painted and other repairs made to bring the building into good shape.

The Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society was organized during the

pastorate of Mr. Healy and it was mainly through the efforts of this

flourishing association that a fine pipe organ specially manufactured for

the church, was procured. The young people have assumed payment of the

organ which has proved a satisfactory investment and an attractive feature

of the service.

The present membership of the church members about one hundred and

forty-five persons. The members of the session are: E.D. Hartman, Dr. S.

B. Johnston, A. C. Wilson, Edward Baker and G. H. Forkner. Mr. Hartman

has served as elder since April, 1874 and ha clerk, succeeded W. Griswold,

Nov. 1878.

A good Sabbath school had long been maintained in connection with the

church and has enrolled 125 members. Among its superintendents have been

W. W. Griswold, Albert Totten, Richard Elson, S.B. Miller, E. D. Hartman,

Edward Baker, S. R. Johnston, and F. J. Yesbera, the present official.

Separate and distinct in name but united in purpose, the Presbyterian

church of Auburn has ever corperated with other churches of the town in

advancing morality and religion and their history is one upon which its

faithful members may well reflect with pride and pleasure.

There were in the town in 1867, three libraries containing 900 volumes.

The township library had 450, county library 100, and the McClure Institute

350. These libraries were then kept at the Court house, in the office of

C. P. Hodge, Esq., Librarian, and containing many valuable works, then of

great use to the people. We believe they no longer exist; their work done,

they were removed in part to Waterloo, and disappeared from public


At this period, owing to the ability of teachers, the combination of

principal and county examiners, and the lack elsewhere, the Auburn High

School stood forth as well worth the name. The total number of pupils who

attended during the school year was 268. There were 62 in the High School.

Of these, 28 were foreign, and the average attendance of the room was 45.

The academic year was divided into three terms, two select, the first

and third of twelve weeks each, and one regular, of sixteen weeks.

On April 5, a new school board was elected for a period of two years,

and of these trustees, Joseph H. Ford, was chairman; Jacob B. Cassbeer,

secretary, and James W. Case, treasurer. They met in the office of Drs.

Keesler & Casebeer, or in the store of Mr. Case, for the transaction of

business. The secretary found a new book for his use, and so began a

record of school work, which continues to the present. The treasurer not

only found no fund on hand, but a debt of $304,67. The board undeterred by

this fact, contracted with George Lawrence for $75, for a fence to enclose

school ground and for a much-needed wood house.

There was nothing of partisan feeling existing in this board, and on

Nov. 15, consulting the public welfare, engaged a corps of teachers for

the winter term of three and a half months, "more or less," the term to

commence on Nov. 25, and to close on Feb. 28, 1868. The teachers engaged

and their per diem of salary was as follows; Spencer Dills at $3,25; T. J.

Saxton at $2.50; Franck Clark at $1.50; Elsa Case at $1.25, and Miss

Baldock and Miss Rainier, at 80 cents. Payment was to be made as far as

possible in cash and the balance in orders on the school treasurer to be

paid out of the first moneys received.

To provide for the confusion arising from different text books for the

same grade and consequent increase in classes, it was ordered. "That no

new authors be introduced except by special consent of the school board."

Not only in this school, but throughout the county, the enterprise of book

agents and the desire of novelty on part of teachers, rendered this step

necessary, but it was years later before uniformity could be secured much

less the present economical and general use of like school books.

The term like its predecessors was a success and served to uphold the

prestige of the teachers and the standing of the school. On April 8, 1867,

Messrs. Dills and Saxton, as principals had commenced a select school for

a term of twelve weeks, and at its conclusion, had issued the first and

only annual catalogue of the teachers and students of the Auburn High

School. It was claimed that the teacher’s school had no equal in this part

of the state, and it is believed that the claim was well founded.

It will be a matter of unusual interest to learn the names of the

gentlemen and ladies who composed the High School, the teachers’ school

and the grammar school, in 1867, and as far as practicable, somewhat of

their subsequent history, as it can be learned.

The disproportion of young men now seen in the High School was

manifested the other way since there were 32 of them to 13 young ladies;

The catalogue is as follows: Reuben Lockwood, still of Auburn, and a

partner in the Monitor Windmill Company; George Ernest, of Corunna;

Publius V. Hoffmen, an attorney of merit, long a member of the bar of

DeKalb county, Daniel D. Moody, attorney, has been a member of the

legislature and clerk of the county, at this time; Henry C. Shull, owner

of a nice property in the suburbs of towns, and for many years engaged in

the sale of milk to the townspeople; J. M. Waterman of Waterloo; H.

Griswold and George Baltsley, of Auburn; William Latson and I. L. Roth, of

the same place, and J. W. McAllister, of Iba. There was Philo Lockwood,

who began as an attorney, made his start at Little Rock, Arkansas,

returning, took up the business of pension agent in a small way, found a

steady and lucrative patronage whose growth finally induced him to remove

to Washington D. C, where its magnitude has reached wonderful dimensions,

bringing him a great and fast-growing fortune.

There was Thomas J. Dills of Spencerville, now of Ft. Wayne, and of her

one hundred or more physicians, one of the foremost and best; and Henry J.

Shafer, now county attorney and a member of the bar of DeKalb county.

There were in the same class, I have been speaking of , D.B. Chilcote,

of Corunna, J. W. Kanagy, of Iba, now Sedan, Sidney Jones, of Waterloo, S.

Snyder, of Butler, E. Bodine, of Auburn and James Shilling, of Avilla.

Thomas H. Sprott son of Samuel Sprott, variously engaged has of late in

company with W. Rickel, worked up a fine interest in real estate, has been

engaged in insurance and as city agent for sale of tickets to travelers on

the Wabash and B.& O. railroad.

J. W. McCaslin was teacher of penmanship and assistant in the High

School, Cosper Altenberg teacher and lawyer went to Little Rock, Arkansas,

where he still resides.

We have no knowledge of N. B. Moore and O. Carmer of Auburn, O.

Johnston, of Kendallville and Helmer of Corunna, but in the class were M.

F. Long now of Butler, James W. Clark, of Smithfield, now a hardware

merchant in Ashley, D. Snyder of Butler, later a business man in Auburn,

engaged in manufacturing and a present citizen of Danville, Ill. Most knew

W. A. Zern, H. Weyer and C. Ashelman until recent years a farmer on a part

of the farm owned by his father in the earlier day.

The ladies in attendance were Della Waggoner, M. Ditmars, A. Alling, A.

Beard, Mattie Rush, Mollie Rush, A. Rainier, A. Swarts and Mary Ward, of

Auburn, N. Britton of Corunna, T. M. Furnish of Spencerville and Ellen and

Mary Hogue of Swan. Looking backward through the changes and vicissitudes

of their lives from the busy and realistic present to that school term of

1867, the last for many of their number, memory must recall those as

pleasant days.

In the teachers’ school were Andrew and J. J. Baxter, of Waterloo, the

former now an attorney at Butler, the latter, a well to do farmer of the

county; Calvin P. Houser, of Corunna, a teacher in the Auburn schools, a

book and fruit agent, publisher for a time of the DeKalb County Republican

and at present farm gardener near town. Joseph L. Penny, once town marshal,

now a resident of Topeka, Kansas, A,. and W. Hartman, P. D. Graham, D.

Williams and A. Ross, of Auburn, Doctors E. D. Raub, Jared Spooner,

Andrew Carper and Richard S. Kester are engaged in the practice of

medicine and Abraham Reinoehl was a teacher and an attorney at-law. Dr.

Spooner was a close medical student and enjoyed a good practice in Auburn

and vicinity at a time when physicians were numerous and population

comparatively small. He married Mary Ford daughter of Dr. J.H. Ford and

at Peru, Ind., has a fine reputation and large patronage.

Dr. Caper was to a considerable extent a self educated man, married

Harriet Steale, a teacher in the schools of Auburn and Butler and by a

study of his calling and assiduity in practice has won and retained the

confidence and support of the community where he lives.

The ladies of the teacher’s class were: Eira Case, Mattie Bowers, Mary

Ford, Ruth Ford, Harriet Baldock, Ella George, Mary Bower, E. Lawhead,

Mary Sponhour, T. Wyatt, Sarah Moody, E. E. Shippy, Lizzie Lawrence, Miss

Conklin, R. Moody, Clara Grube, Sarah Sheets, Hattie Jones, Addie Moody,

Olive Jackman, Sarah Smith, Jennie Baxter, Aggie Baxter and L. Dearborn.

The grammar school had eighty -eight member as follows:

Lyman Lockwood, George Wineland, Cook Ford, Allen Weaver, Henry Weaver,

Thomas Leasure, K. Rush, H. Rush, F. Palmer, D. Lawrence, W. Spangler, W.

Dancer, W. Ralston, W. Heist, James Rowley, Henry Jones, Jefferson Clark,

Henry Smith, F. Sherlock, I. N. Shilling, Frank Britton, James Brandon, T.

Cool, W. Robbins, W. C. Fluke, J. D. Clark, P. Alling, Granville Lahnum,

J. Rush, H. Bumpus. W. Weyer, M. Roth, J. Robbins, J. W. Johnston, John

Gleeson, Henry Little and H. Long.

And the young ladies were:

Alice Widney, Eunice Lockwood, Emma Ford, Zaida Kessler, Emma Catlin,

M. McKean, S. Wartensleben, E. Williams, A. Chidsey, Addie Roth, Denna

Zern, Ada Reed. Rudie Brandon, Rebecca Cannon. W. Wisner, Rose Blair, Ida

Blair, Orpha Bodine, Dora Bodine, Georgia Lowrey, Dora Lowrey, Sarah

Latson, Hattie Latson, Mary Catlin, Ella Dearborn, Bell Teeters, Bell

Brandon, B. Wyatt, M. Mourer, Ida Moody, Emma Wheelock, A. Baldock, Fannie

Latson, Carrie Showers, E. White, M. Crawford, Josie Rush, B. Larimore,

Hattie Griswold, M. Robbins, Hattie Clark, Ada Moody, B. Heilbruner, K,

Bender, Rosa Ashelman, Sarah Picker and A. Ashelman.

In this roll call a quarter century since the academy was in the zenith

of its prosperity and since those named had little of care beyond the

lessons of the day, we hear many a familiar name, recall the youthful

features and acquaintance of many till now almost forgotten. Some have

died, some have removed. Few to day of the ladies would respond to the

surnames then theirs, matrons now, with sons and daughters, they have

unconsciously grown in years and like a dream they hear the old bell ring

again, climb the inconvenient and narrow stairs, take the familiar rough

seat for study, of Pinneo, Monteith, Ray and Cutter, occupy the recitation

seats and listen to voices that can be heard no more, and awaken to know

that the charm has departed and that 1867, to the young as well as the

old, the townspeople as well as the town, is a date from which great

changes came bringing in their course, something of anxiety and trouble,

but much of lasting an substantial good.

Oh! Memories of the past, abide and bless us;

Though wanderers from places loved of yore;

Sometimes let airs from your far fields caress us,

Until we need your healing balm no more.


Victor Hugo said to the atheist who affirmed that the proof that the

would not exist in the future was that he did not exist in the past: "You

do not believe in the doctrine of surviving personalities for the reason

that you do not recollect you anterior existence. How can the recollection

of vanished ages remain imprinted on you memory when you do not remember a

thousand and one scenes and events of your present life?"

In the endeavor to recall the Auburn of 1868, the truthfulness of

Hugo’s answer is vindicated and its force is felt. Let any resident at

that time attempt from memory to pictures the town as it then was, name

its prominent professional and business men an the events of that date and

most strikingly will it be borne in upon his mind how closely oblivion

follows upon our footsteps.

The buildings then conspicuous have disappeared, where were vacant

tracts, new, pleasant homes frankly face the streets and every change has

been for the better. Year after year without ado, all over the town the

work of bettering condition has proceeded till the town has expanded

outward beyond the old Wheelock mansion to the railroad, eastward to

Eckhart’s carriage; works and electric lights blaze where cattle pastured

and fields were tilled.

As the Lilliputain park where stood the old academy is the broad

grounds occupied by our high school edifice, as the town house to the

present county jail, and as the old narrow wooden walk to the beautiful

cement pavement, so contrast the Auburn of 1868 with the town of 1893.

The buildings reflect something of the features characteristic of the

builders as nationality is indicated by dress and in this light we see

unpretentious dwelling with massive frames, slight display and great


The residence symbolizes the poverty or prosperity of the occupant and

by this, the wealth of Auburn people is safely measured. Very few of those

who comprised the population in ’68 are still residents. Very many felt

the desire to better condition and hoping to do this elsewhere, they have

been lost to sight and memory too, as they have scattered far and wide.

Little if any sentiment attaches to the homes where our people have passed

their lives and where their children have been born., The old house is

removed to make way for the new. There is building and rebuilding, and the

time worn structures of ’68 have no cherished remembrances and they

disappeared without regrets but in that time they were the homes of our

people, comfortable and substantial and in them, families did not watch

the clouds and seek cellars when winds blew high.

Turning to the town record we find a brief but suggestive story from

which glimpses are presented of those days---the darkest before the dawn

of prosperity. On January 6th, the Board of Trustees of Auburn met at the

office of the Woolen Mills with T.D. Gross, J. L. Davis and Hugh Watt

present. S.B. Ward handed in his report and resignation as fire warden.

The report was accepted, filed and H. E. Altenberg was appointed in his

stead. Of the board, C. S. Hare was clerk and T.D. Gross president.

We can read and recall with a degree of satisfaction the constant but

apparently hopeless efforts of the citizens of the year ’68 to maintain

their standing and that of the town, since losses have been more than made

good, credit has been won, threatened dangers have been averted and

population increased so greatly; but that was a period when the

"loveliest" might have become the "deserted" bit for the courage and

constancy of the few.

On the night of January 16th, a fire broke out in a building west of

the public square and leveled to ashes the entire wooden row between

Eighth and Ninth streets to the Case block. In this fire were swept away

the Davis hardware store, C. S. Hare’s shoe shop and Eldridges saloon. The

brick building narrowly escaped destruction. A second newspaper office went

up in flame and smoke as the Democrat was published in the second story

of the Eldridge building. Howard Coe was out of a job; again Auburn was

without a home paper..

The proprietors of the burned buildings with notable and creditable

courage, promptly cleared away the rubbish and entered upon the work of

reconstruction and so energetically was the building pushed that by the

last of May a new brick block, two stories high with business rooms below

and offices in the second story was nearing completion. The result was

the handsome, solid and valuable town of buildings now standing, and what

was individual loss became an actual town improvement.

The resources now and for years made available were known to exist but

there were none to lay hold upon them. One of the advantages possessed in

a remarkable degree was the facility with which a manufactory for making

staves and headings could have been operated. Towering massive trees of

white oak, ash and elm stood within easy access and were of unsurpassed

quality, and there was only needed experience and some capital to awaken

the people from the lethargy by which they had long been enthralled, to

place the county seat on an equal footing in manufacturing interests, with

others that have long been prospered by the gainful yield of a commodity,

greatly inferior to their own.

Wide awake citizens of Waterloo were the first to see and make available

the facilities for utilizing this timber. Early in February, Mr. Dickinson

of that town had a factory in full operation and the demand for the

manufactured product kept the machinery running night and day, bringing

farmers many a needed dollar from their owned lots, not otherwise

obtainable. The factory soon had staves and heading material manufactured

to the value of $20,000 and James Bowman at the same time, although only a

few weeks in business, had staves and bolts on hand representing $5,000.

It was estimated that these town firms during the year, would do from

$35,000 to $40,00 worth of business

It was said of Butler in July: "Butler is steadily growing in wealth

and population, good and valuable residences and commodious business

houses have been erected," and others were in process of construction.

Manufacturing establishments furnished employment for 150 workman. The

uncreative possibilities of a factory for the production of staves and

bolts had there too, been realized, and William Hubbell was turning out

10,000 staves daily.

In spite of these encouraging examples at Waterloo and Butler,

indifferent to the harvest being reaped from this well employed capital,

Auburn gave no sign, and it was not until three years later, that the town

was to know the advantages of such a factory. To Auburn.

"Smiling spring its earliest visit paid.

And parting summer's lingering blooms


How blest is he who crowns in shades like


A youth of labor with an age of ease."

So wrote Goldsmith of another Auburn much like ours in its climate and

its drowsy suggestions. The spring came early and the many well

cultivated lots supplied their owners with abundance and ample variety of

fruits and garden vegetables. The village seemed quietly slumbering and

pioneers who had endured years of hardship and toil found here, indeed,

rest and repose and "an age of ease."

There were few buggies, no bicycles, but occasional wagons that passed

and repassed along Main and Seventh streets. No milkman made his rounds

from house to house, for the herd of cows, well scattered grazing the

luxuriant grass carpeting the streets outside the well beaten track, by

day, supplied at evening the need of most families.

No long procession of teams hauling enormous logs came with rumble and

creak up the thoroughfare, but an occasional log went by on its way to

Hollopeter's sawmill east of the public square. No thunderous din of

trains, nor deep toned whistles disturbed the peaceful quiet and only the

dull hum of the mill or dull sound of machinery in the woolen factory

blended their soothing influence with nature. Children now arrived at

manhood and active in business at home or in far away localities, daily

went and came from the old academy, the tones of whose bell had grown to

be with all things else, so harmoniously familiar.

The Sabbath was not greatly distinguished from other days for no

musical chorus of bells chimed on the ear to call to praise and prayer,

but here was a fine Sunday school at the old M. E. church and a devout

congregation of whom few remain who listened to the exhortations of a now

forgotten preacher. Base ball had begun to attract popular attention as

manly pastime and clubs were formed in the towns of Auburn and Waterloo.

In May, a spirited contest took place between these rival organizations

and it gave our people great satisfaction that the game terminated in

favor of the former since it proved that Waterloo City was not supreme in

everything; the chagrin of a defeat proportionate enhanced the triumph of

the victors.

There had been meetings of the town board without quorums with

consequent adjournments till March 2, when a full board met at the shoe

shop of Mr. Hare. The publisher of DeKalb County Democrat presented a

bill of $30.00 for printing a fire ordinance, of which bill $20.00 was

after due consideration allowed.

It was the close for the year for the board, who allowed each member

the modest sum of $8.00 for his public services. C. S. Hare was granted

$25.00 salary as town clerk and was released from any responsibility for

bonds, papers and valuables belonging to town, unavoidably burnt in his

office during the fire previously mentioned.

The annual municipal election was held May 4th at which 119 votes were

cast. Take the town’s record, look over the list of names and learn the

unstability of existence in the mortality of these voters. There we see

the names once so familiarly heard, of persons then so well known, now to

be found engraved in the marble, and the granite of the cemetery. There

is Lowry, Griswold, Baldock, Hare, Fox, Robbins, Pearce, Plum, Rainier,

Burlingame, Long and many other of the townsmen of that oldertime and the

ever lengthening list till ere long include the last of the early settlers

and forgetfulness will follow hard after them.

The democratic ticket was elected by an average of 9 majority. The

trustees chosen were Jacob Walborn, Phillip Fluke, A. J. Ralston, C. S.

Hare and R. B. Showers, all men of good judgement, permanent residents and

thoroughly identified with the fortunes of the municipality. S. W. Sprott

was elected town clerk; T. D. Gross, treasuer; Wm. Humes, assessor and

Henry Wolf; marshal. The last named resigned and H. F. Hollinger, a

blacksmith who lived in what was long known as the Knorr property, on

South Main st., accepted the appointment tendered him.

John Otto presented his report to the new board, showing condition

of municipal funds from May, ’67 to May, ’68 as follows: On hand last

report $1.82; form county treasurer, $436.96; from marshal, $2.75; orders

redeemed, $441.43; leaving a balance of 10 cents.

The town board met at the law office of W. H. Dills and fixed the rates

of assessment at 50 cts. on the $100, and 25 cents on each poll. At

successive sessions various business was transacted including the

excavation of ditches, repair of bridges, auditing of accounts and making

of allowances. A six foot walk was ordered along the north side of

Defiance street from its intersection with Main street, to the cemetery,

the material furnished by the town and building done at cost of parties

owners of lots along which the walk ran.

The town officially intimated its interest in the struggle for a

railroad by the board’s allowance of a bill presented by L. D. Rainier of

$27.00 for entertaining railroad men from Ft. Wayne, present on business

connected with the projected Ft. Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw line.

And order made necessary by law and equity hitherto enforced, to pay

claims on the treasury in sequence of issue was in this instance suspended

and Treasurer Gross was authorized to cash the claim of Mr. Rainier out of

money on hand. Trips to Waterloo and to other points on business relative

to the road by various parties were likewise paid by warrants on the

depleted treasury, thereby aiding the public work while so depreciating

the credit of the town as to render its paper almost unsalable.

The business men of Auburn were determined that the railroad should not

be built around them and at many meetings held a commendable spirit of

enterprise was shown and popular interest was fully enlisted in the work.

It was ordered by the town board in regular session that Messrs.

Walborn, Hare and Fluke be appointed a committee to select and to hire

solicitors for subscription to the capital stock of the railroad company,

provided that the line be permanently located through or within one half

mile of Auburn, and that these parties asking subscriptions should

continue operations to the south half of the county. At a meeting held

Dec. 14, the last one of the year, the committee reported the appointment

of W. H. Dills and T. D. Gross to be paid an average commission of 1¼ per

cent. The people generously responded to appeals for aid and by Jan. 4,

1869, the books showed promises for nearly $30,000, a surprising amount

when the circumstance of the people were considered. From this time on, it

was certain that Auburn would be on the line of railroad and great

expectations were cherished of the consequent advantages.

At this time a good newspaper would have been of great value as a

medium of communication with the public enabling friends of the railroad

to summit their claims to support but such a paper was wanting. A man

named H. D. Carll had started in Auburn a paper under the title of DeKalb

Democrat but the man had no magic and the man little ability and the

editor, disappointed, bitterly complained of lack of necessary and

expected support.

In this regard, the rival town of Waterloo had marked advantage. There,

the obvious necessity of being on the line of the road established identity

of interest and the Waterloo City Press ably edited was a strong factor

for the good of the community.

The beginning of 1868, T.Y. Dickinson and J.F. Radcliffe were joint

editors and publishers. In the fall, B .F. Kennedy succeeded Dickinson and

in December, Mr. Radcliffe withdrew and started in Waterloo, a newspaper

styled The Air Line, which was well received and merited patronage.

The term of Spencer Dill as County school examiner expired in June, and

on the 5th of that month, Wm. H. McIntosh was appointed to the office by

the board of county commissioners, to serve for a period of three years.

Mr. McIntosh was at the time, concluding a highly successful year’s

engagement at what was known ass Kell’s Seminary, located east of

Huntertown, Ind., and the appointment to him was as gratifying as it was

unsolicited and unexpected. His subsequent labor as an educator over and

in the schools of DeKalb county, was marked on his part by conscientious

assiduity, faithfully seconded by the untiring efforts of devoted teachers

and ardent pupils.

Examination held monthly at Auburn disclosed grave deficiencies in

qualification on the part of applicants for license to teach and not to

block the opening of all these schools, many were passed whose knowledge

of the required branches was very limited.

An attempt to partially remedy this defect by visiting schools to

assist and advise willing but inexperienced teachers, was promptly checked

by an order from the county commissioners forbidding official visitation

and there only remained for the officer to make use of a normal school of

which he should be the principal to give proper personal instruction to be

supplemented by such help as the county five day institute could afford.

Spencer Dills accepted an offer of the public schools of Waterloo and

later was highly spoken of as a more than ordinarily successful teacher.

At this point it is of interest to quote Calvin P. Houser, on the

existing state of education in the county and his opinion of the outgoing

and in coming school examiners. Spencer Dills and William H. McIntosh in

an article written for the Republican of Nov. 14, 1883, "In the midst of

prosperity and flattering success, we frequently forget that others lived

before us an laid the foundation of our institutions and of our ultimate

success in life. Pausing a moment, glancing backward through a brief

vista of years, we call to mind the most noble of DeKalb’s educators,

Spencer Dills, who took up the standard when teachers’ institutes were

sparsely attended and their influence little felt in the schools; when

there were no brick school houses in the county and not one single so-

called patent school desk where now there are none other; when blackboards

and globes were curiosities, school terms short and system in the school

room was wanting. Although Spencer Dills was called from earth in early

manhood while on the threshold of usefulness, he had inaugurated a revival

in school work whose effects yet continue.

This spirit of progression was taken up by Prof. McIntosh, our next

county examiner; young and enthusiastic, he added new zeal and inspired

the teachers with confidence and at one time conducted the very best

institute ever held in DeKalb county, without the aid of foreign


The examiner opened a select school in the Academy on Aug. 17th. In

the high school department there were forty scholars of whom five have

long been residents of Auburn, viz: Letitia High, wife of Solomon Shearer,

Eunice Lockwood, wife of Ben Zeigler. Richard Baxter, now a member of the

school board., Alice Widney, wife of A. Lewis and Harriet Ditmars, wife of

David Ober. So far as known, all the others are living, and most are

going well, Dr. A. J. Carper was in attendance that term as well as

Reuben Sawvel present county treasurer, and better scholars could not be


Most have forgotten the Catlin girls, Mary and Emma; the Houghton

girls, Samantha and Etta; the Latson girls Hattie and Sarah; the

Goetschiuses, Mary and Philander; the Fullers, Truman and Lucetta; Emily

Ling, wife of W. Bair; Mattie Miller, Josie Nelson and Harriet Williams.

Some of these have been themselves teachers of superior merit but none are

town residents.

The winter session of the Auburn schools began November, 30th, and

continued three and a half months. William H. McIntosh was superintendent

and principal of the high school.

The teachers in the grammar, intermediate and primary departments were,

Mollie M. Denius, Frank Clark, and Hattie Steele. The salaries respectively

paid per month were $65, $40, $35 and $30. The scholars were fairly graded

and the lady teachers were women of experience in their calling, but the

schools in scholarship, punctuality and deportment were lamentably

deficient; and Miss Denius in the grammar room especially found her powers

of government taxed to their utmost to preserve order and secure even a

partial degree of studiousness.

As a matter of fact either the schools had suffered a marvelous decline

or had been accorded a fictitious reputation and the writer has known

district schools taught by Henry Coe, John Eakright and others, that were

in all respects their superior.

Despite indifference to learning, manifested by irregularity and ill

conduct on the part of many, such was the tact and courage of the teachers

in the grammar and intermediate grades that the schools on closing revealed

creditable progress and were fairly representatives of the Auburn of 1868.



The dark clouds of 1868 appeared less gloomy when the spring of 1869

dawned with bright and hopeful prospects of a rapid and healthy growth of

Auburn. As if the life of the community lay in success the poor vied in

liberality with the richer in pledging their resources for the railroad

and the battle for this boon was fought with a self-denying courage that

redounds with honor to the entire population, irrespective of persons,

uncalculating upon future profit but solely influenced by local pride in

the welfare of the incorporation.

We have see the town authorities offering commissions for subscription

to the Jackson, Ft. Wayne & Saganaw railroad and by their substantial

activity inviting the company to proceed with its construction.

The zeal of T.D. Gross was acknowledged and rewarded by his election to

the office of assistant treasurer of the road. Auburn had indeed responded

liberally by subscriptions amounting to $40,000 with promise of $10,000

more but the strife was not ended and victory was not assured.

It was said in the Lagrange Democrat: "It is possible citizens of

Auburn are so dead to their interest as to let the road go around them and

forever lose the only opportunity of securing a railroad to there village?"

Has the editor visited Auburn he would have seen no want of vitality

among the townspeople but rather a deep, determination to win at all

hazards. He would have seen them, calling meetings to discuss the

prospects reporting progress and encouraging further efforts and he would

have learned that the all-absorbing topic of conversation on the streets

and in the business places was the railroad and its assumed advantages to

town and country

At a special session of the Board of County Commissioners, held Feb. 4,

1869 a strong effort was made to get aid from the county. The columns of

the existing newspapers in Auburn and Waterloo City contained long letters

presenting arguments in favor of the movement and calling for a popular

vote and there were answering letters form those opposing an appropriation;

while a remonstrance was presented from Fairfield township bearing 147

signatures. The plea for help was ably presented by Messrs. Smith, Cary

Evans, G. W. McConnell, T .R. Dickinson, W. H. Dills and others, but


The county was known to be in debt; there was urgent need to new

bridges and of a home of the indigent, and these among other considerations

influenced the officials who found the people restive under the losses

from the robbery and consequent futile, expensive litigation to leave the

matter of subscriptions to individual enterprise that those who expected

to profit should be the first to pay.

In no ways disheartened by failure to obtain aid from the county,

although in taxation alone, the money would have been eventually repaid,

the people of the two towns working together for a common object raised

their subscriptions to the sum of $112.000. This large amount was

contributed not alone by the townspeople but material aid was given by

farmers residing along and near the line of the road. A marked feature of

the donations was the public spirit of the poorer class who in some

instances signed more than they were able to pay in money or labor and met

their installments at considerable personal self-denial.

Th writer vividly remembers that owing to the loss by the failure of

the Hales, of the slow savings of years, he was without means to pay his

installments when due and suit was averted only by his wife taking two tie

contractors named George and Jacobs to board, and applying the money on the


On Feb. 24th, the stockholder of the railroad held a meeting to vote

upon terms of consolidation with the Michigan company. Following this

action, was the location of the road through Auburn and Waterloo. At one

time the line was expected to pass along the eastside of Auburn, perhaps

occupying Cedar street and thereby established the junction at the present

Wabash grounds, instead of a mile westward, but this was not to be. The

line approaching the town from the north was defected westward and the

depot was located at the present freight house on the western termius of

Sixth street. In this vicinity a tract was platted as Gross & Dills

addition, and the lots long since sold are fully occupied by neat new

buildings, the homes of our townsmen.

All difficulties were surmounted prospects brightened and ground was

broken for the railroad with appropriate ceremonies on March 29th, 1869,

in the city park, Ft. Wayne.

Speeches of the kind usual to such occasions were made by officials and

soon contractors were at work, clearing the roadway and preparing the grade

Messrs. Gross & Gloyd contractors for sections in DeKalb county began work

in June and by the middle of August had a large force upon the line between

Auburn and Waterloo. At a point on this section was found one of those

singular localities known as "sink holes;" Several such were found to

exist in the county, one on the Lake Shore east of Sedan, proved a

formidable obstacle in constructing that road. Much labor was required

and a vast amount of filling before track could be laid and on one

occasion the morning light disclosed the absence of any track, ties and

rails had sunk during the night and it was long before the spot was so

filled as to stand firm and secure. Th old track on which trains ran

around the "sink" is still plainly visible on the south side of the right

of way.

Just such a sink hole on a much smaller scale, the contractors came

upon and as earth was dumped in, it gradually sunk away as though

dissolving below and the soil black and rank with the odor of the swamp

rolled up at some distance on either side. The grade was constantly

renewed by persistent labor till a permanent base was established and the

trouble overcome.

Various theories have prevailed over these curious sink holes, one of

the most plausible being that they are the remains of former lakes, in

time encrusted by vegetation and consequent root-bound soil

Most remember the great drift in the Red river of Arkansas, marked upon

Mitchells’ good, old atlas and there are considerable areas in southern

Wisconsin where only the tough, root-woven sod of centuries cover s and

conceals the imprisoned waters of the lakes.


See section on Schools.

To most it would have been difficult to idealize the town’s early pride-

the first great step in her educational advancement made nearly forty years

ago (article written March, 1893).

Although the Academy has become a vague recollection, its corps of

instructors dead, departed or engaged in other fields or different

pursuits, and its hundreds of youthful students matured and scattered far

and near; although upon its once familiar site from which all vestige of

occupation has long since disappeared, a thrifty young grove is rising and

luxuriant grasses grow, yet memories haunt the cherished spot of youthful

friendships and ardent study, devoted teachers and responsive pupils and

to awaken these in maturer experienced years, somewhat of its history is

here presented and a roll call of those who in the seventeen years of its

existence sought to give instruction within its plain, old-fashioned


On July 19, 1853, a futile notice was given for a school meeting called

for August 9th at 4 p.m. for the purpose of voting on building a school

house. The call was premature and a room in the old court house and

shabby, small buildings were temporary make-shifts.

Two years later, the necessity for better school accommodations became

pressing and the entire attention of the town board voicing public demand,

became centered in obtaining an eligible site for a school house and in

preparations to build upon it.

Sept 20, ’55 Messrs., Long, Berry and Spangler, a committee onsite chose

lots No. 56 and 57. W. A. and paid for them $150. All funds that came

into the town’s treasury were pledged in payment of building expense.

Plans and specifications were prepared by Messrs. Barney and Houghton

acting under instruction and an invitation for sealed proposals till Jan.

1, 1856, was advertised in the Democratic Messenger. On Jan. 21, six

proposals had been presented and of these that of O. C. Houghton was

accepted and to him the contract was awarded to do specified work

including the building of a cupola, for $1325. He gave bond in the sum of

$2,000, have to a building up according to contract by Jan. 1, 1857. His

sureties were E. W. Fosdick, W. Park, V. Weaver, J. H. Ford and W.

Griswold. Payment was to be made by orders on the town treasury, less

$225, due on acceptance of the building by the board.

Mr. Houghton as a preliminary grubbed and cleared the ground, then got

out his lumber and put of the frame but close of Dec. "56 found the work

incomplete and extension of time was granted.

During the summer of 1857, specifications for inside finish were drafted

by Houghton and proposals invited. Wm. A. Lowrey was the only person who

filed an offer and July 11, he was given the contract to lay the second

floor and to do the inside work for $775.

Messrs. Brandt, Houghton and Dickinson were appointed a committee to

supervise the work. Mr. Lowrey in turn was obliged to ask further time

but finally completed his contract and in the first suit of law in which

Auburn was a party, he we successful and insured his full contract price.

The first floor being available, Messrs. Weldon, Griswold and Dickinson,

school trustees, in the summer of 1858 employed as the first corps of

teachers for a twelve weeks’ term. John H. Moore as principal assisted by

Miss Marcia Gray and Miss Vesta M. Ward.

The furniture firm of J. and E. Ettinger furnished two tables with

chairs for use of teachers and Aug. 22, 1858, the school opened and

inaugurated the graded free school system in the town of Auburn.

In the following November a contract for completion of the second and

third stories of the school building was given to James W. Case for $670,

the work to be done by July 1, 1859.

This made the cost of the academy $2,770 to that date.

In March, 1859 Andrew Larimore applied for use of the school house in

which to conduct a select school and consent was given conditioned that no

interference would be permitted with tools or material of Mrs. Case at

work finishing the upper rooms.

The academy when completed was as seen in the engraving, three storied.

One outer door gave access to all rooms. From an entry within this door,

two inner doors opened, the one on the right to the primary department,

that on the left to the intermediate room. Winding stairs right and left

led up to the second floor where two rooms were likewise entered by doors,

that to the right opening into the grammar and that to the left into the

high school departments. The third story was arranged as a rhetorical

room, having raised platforms at the east and west ends. Here students

were wont to practice reading from the example of Kidd and Putnam and to

drill upon intended declamations.

There were recitation rooms on the first and second floors at the north

end of each school room and in them a small part of the south wall was

utilized as a black board.

The seats were old-fashioned, cumbrous and unstable. Outline maps in

colors hung upon the walls of the high school room and the space before

the teachers’ desks which stood upon raised platforms was occupied in each

department by recitation seats to which classed invariably came.

By an ingenious device, it was so arranged that whenever it was desired

on public days to united the high school and grammar rooms, the panels

which separated them, pendent on hinges, could be swung up and supported

upon iron braces.

Prior to its destruction, the third story of the building had been

partitioned into two rooms, seated with new improved school furniture and

good slated blackboard surface had been prepared through the enterprise of

Calvin. P. Houser, agent, seconded by the school board. These elevated

but pleasant rooms were occupied by advanced classes.

In August 1859, Mr. Larimore was hired for a fall and a winter term and

his teachers were Laura Nimmons, Elizabeth Smith, Hannah Davis and Vesta

Ward. The school became known as ‘The Auburn Union School," and gave

bright promise of a prosperous future with growing reputation. In the

spring of 1860, Messers. Pierce and Griswold school trustees granted Mr.

Larimore the use of the school house without rent for a third term of

fourteen weeks. The close of this school year showed an attendance of 240

pupils, many of high grade of scholarship and the Auburn institute as it

was termed began to attract outside notice with an increased patronage by

"foreign scholars."

The first school board elected on a municipal ticket, Messers. W. Park,

J. M. Miller and E. B. Mott engaged Chester P. Hodge as principal of the

"Auburn Seminary" as it began to be called, for fall and winter terms with

Marilla Platter, Sarah V. Wheeler and Hannah Davis assistants.

Prior to the opening of the winter term a successful teachers’ institute

was held in the seminary, at which Edward Wright, the first county school

examiner presided and in which C. P. Hodge and J. B. Moore were instructors.

In the fall of 1861, V. F. Wise taught a select term followed by a

regular engagement for the winter. Lodema Tannehill taught in the grammar

department. His successor in 1862 was James E. Rose, assisted by Hadessa

J. George, H. C. Coats. Mrs. Emma Ervan and Mrs. Henry Alling. Enrollment

in all grades reached 300 pupils, and every township in the county except

Fairfield was represented in the High School room.

In 1862 and ’63, Mrs. V. M.. Swarts taught both regular and select

terms with marked success and fully upheld the high prestige of the


Charles A. Munn organized the schools at the fall session of 1863, as

"The Auburn Male and Female Institute," with three departments, primary,

junior and senior. John Stahl was in charge of the senior and Mrs. Swarts

of the junior rooms. Many young people from outside profited by the

teachings of Mr. Stahl, a studious ambitious and well informed young man.

The school trustees in the fall of 1864, were S. W. Sprott, A. Larimore

and Philip Fluke, who engaged Spencer Dills as principal, Mrs. H. J.

Ralston as first, Miss Lamb as second and Mary Rush, third assistant for a

winter term that began Dec. 5. The selection of a superintendent and

principal was fortunate, judicious and advantageous securing somewhat of

preeminence for the management of the schools and widely extending the

territory tributary to Auburn’s educational interests.

In June, 1865, Mr. Dills was appointed school examiner for a term of

three years and Aug. 20, following opened a home normal school of especial

benefit to proposed district school teachers. His corps of teachers were

T. J. Saxton, M. D. Rush and Margaret S. Searight and his course of study

was embraced in five grades covering the usual period of school attendance.

Mr. Dills was again employed in 1866 with T. J. Saxton for the grammar

room. Miss Frank Clark intermediate, and Miss Julia Hoover the primary.

Continued prosperity attended successive terms; the prestige of teachers

was upheld and the standing of the school maintained so that when a new

board consisting of Messrs. J. H. Ford, J. B. Casebeer and J. W. Case was

organized, these gentlemen wisely retained existing teaches and hired in

addition Elra Case, Miss Baldock and Miss Rainer.

Messrs. Dills and Saxton on April 8, 1867, conducted a select term at

whose close, was issued the one only catalogue ever published of the

teachers and students of the different departments.

In June 1868, the term of S. Dills as school examiner expired and Wm. H.

McIntosh was appointed his successor. Mr. McIntosh taught a fall select

term and was engaged as superintendent and principal for the regular

winter term. Teachers in other departments were, Mollie M. Dinius, Frank

Clark and Hattie Steele. Faithful arduous service was rendered by each of

these teachers to an extent unsurpassed before or since.

A new school board, Messrs. Sprott, Dills and Plumb engaged Charles M.

Hertig as principal for the winter term of 1869, with Mary Young, Phoebe

A. Babcock and Hattie Steele for teachers, in the other grades. Mr.

Hertig was learned in languages for which he had no scholars but deficient

in government and his stay was limited to but ten weeks.

On Dec. 5, 1870, Publius V. Hoffman scholarly young man native of

DeKalb county began a four month’s term assisted by Mary Eberly, Miss

Hattie Carper and Anna Rainer. He was succeeded for a spring term by

Hermann P. Colgrove supported by M. F. Long, Mary Young and Phoebe A.


In 1871 W. H. McIntosh again taught in the old academy beginning his

fall term with Calvin P. Houser, Laura Clark and Emma Hull for his

assistants. The term was so successful both in respect to members

enrolled and interest manifested by pupil and patron that a new school

board composed of Messrs. Griswold, Davis and Holopeter decided to retain

these teacher during the winter. Ardor in study continued unabated

throughout and closing exercises were impressive and memorable.

The fall term of 1872 was marked by the attendance of eighty young

people in the High school department alone and the high grade of

scholarship and the assiduity of these students has rarely been surpassed

in the history of such schools.

Mr. McIntosh taught the winter and spring terms of 1872-3 assisted by

M. F. Long, and Misses A. Rainer, E. Hull and L. Hall. In the summer of

1873, the school board consisting of J. J. Wood, Albert Totten and Wyllys

Griswold engaged a few corps of teachers consisting of A. R. Hoffman,

Mollie Schoonover, Hattie L. Griswold, Mattie Miller and Mary McNerney.

Mr. Hoffman approved himself an excellent teacher and his management

gave such satisfaction that all these teachers were retained until the

close of the spring of 1875. In the fall, increase of enrollment owing to

municipal growth required the use of the third story of the building as

previously stated, and Miss Frank Stahl and Miss Laura Clark were employed

as additional teachers. During the fall and final term, on the night of

October 16, 1875, the old academy was discovered to be on fire, and

without appliance to extinguish the flames, the congregated population of

the town stood in the foreground helplessly and saw this pioneer structure

destroyed together with all its furniture, text books and apparatus. It

had performed its mission well and has become an historic incident in

Auburn’s history.





Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 13 Jul 1893)

1871- continued

At the May municipal election in a vote of 166, the republicans won by sixteen to twenty of a majority and elected the following named persons: Trustees, John Otto, John A. Cowan, George W. Stahl, John W. Shaffer and Jacob P. Arnold; assessor, S. B. Ward; treasurer, John B. Lobmiller; clerk, Richard Elson and for marshal, James L. Penny. This last official deserves honorable mention for the faithful manner in which he labored to discharge his duties at a time when compensation was little and appreciation less.

The out going treasurer made a report of which this following is an abstract.

Received from Treasurer Klotz in 1870, $70.82. From county $267.54 cash and $608.51 of orders and from license and other sources $83.69, making a total of $762.97. There were redeemed of orders $750.30, leaving on hand $12.67. For lumber and work on streets allowances had been made in amount $913.91 and there were of orders outstanding May 1, $855.68.

In looking about for some point from which the public could give voice to their desire for improvement the public square attracted attention. Its features comprised in an excellent site and a fine building gracing its center, were prospectively adorned by some shade trees brought in by public-spirited farmers, but the number was too few and the question arose: "Shall their ground remain barren or will the town’s authorities beautify it by such and introduction of shade trees as would eventually form a fine grove?"

It was seen that indifference should give way to interest and that a higher standard of taste and order must be raised or the interest of the town would suffer. Strangers are influenced by life, energy and tidiness as well as by churches, schools and opportunities for money making and they are repelled by their absence. The time was opportune for a work of upheaval, when old notion and styles should give way to order, taste and refinement.

In furtherance of this object a meeting was held at the court house well attended by leading citizens, at which it was decided that the square be improved and this sentiment found expression at a regular session of the town board held on April 3rd at the law office of W. H. Dills in an appropriation from the town treasury of $50 for the purpose of procuring trees to ornament the public grounds.

Wm. A. Lowry, George Ensley and H. W. Ford were appointed a committee to obtain the trees and some four hundred of various kinds were set out by Mr. Ford assisted by Marshal Penny.

It was said by a townsman regarding the work: "If those trees should all live a few years hence, here will be a handsome little park to look upon instead of the hitherto bare ground." And he lived to see his prediction abundantly verified.

The was another meeting held at the previous place to discuss the general welfare at which dredging of Cedar creek was deemed a matter of paramount importance by the popular device found no action through lack of funds.

The bridges over this stream were rude and dilapidated and a reflection alike upon builders and the community.

The utility of a fire cistern near the public square was noted since in the event of a fire there was nothing with which to put it out—no water, no engine and no ladders, and an alarm could only assemble the population to look on helplessly as at a later destruction of the woolen mills. The only practical step accomplished which satisfactory mention could be made for municipal showing was the construction of a new plank sidewalk from Main Street all the way to the depot, which was boon to pedestrians in a relief from mud and water.

The national game of base ball had entered upon its career of prosperity and village and town had its nine as well as the city. Nothing behind in this respect Auburn’s Wahalotas was a club of which here people were proud and with good reason as representative players.

Among notable games contested by this club was one played on their grounds north of the town about the last of June in which they were victors over the Quicksteps of Butler by a score of 73 to 50. Then were full 300 spectators of the game which occupied three hours and 40 minutes. The names of the players were as follows:




Frank Bacon



W. Little

s. s.


G. C. Ralston

1st b.


H. Peterson



J. Ralston

2nd b.

S. Ottis

W. W. Griswold

3rd b.



c. f.

J. Brown

M. F. Long

l. f.

J. Brown

H. Little

r. f.

B. Maxwell

The umpire was J. W. McKay and the scorers were T. H. Bowers of Butler and W. H. Dills of Auburn.

W. W. Griswold had a finger broken in the fourth inning but manfully held his place till the close of the game. Col. Griswold long identified with Auburn and DeKalb county went west and settled in Minnesota, moved to Chanute, Neosha county Kansas in 1890, where he died Jan. 23, 1893.


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 20 Jul 1893)


The disciples of temperance of later years have withdrawn from local and practical work and entered the domain of politics under the name prohibition where they are harmless to the retailer of liquors; but twenty or more years ago, the supreme thought of temperance people was local suppression and with this end in view, a county temperance convention attended by a large number of the friends of temperance from different part of the county met, on Feb. 22nd in the M. E. church of Auburn and effected an organization by electing G. McFarland, president; Lewis Holbrook vice-president and D. D. Moody secretary.

On motion John P. Widney, a committee on resolutions was appointed and also an executive committee of one from each township named as follows:

Samuel Cornell, Solomon Barney, Sol. DeLong. Wm. Wannamaker, P. B. Nimmons, Michael Long sr., S. Bassett, Wm. Parks, James Graham, Williard Childs, Edward Barker, Henry Jones and Andrew Casebeer.

This committee perfected the temperance organization on April 4, at a meeting held in the law office of Messrs. Moody & Peterson of Auburn and, in the belief that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," they proclaimed the end they had in view was: "The redemption of humanity from the curse of intemperance."

They were in earnest and their aggressive campaign for a time bore down all opposition and Auburn became a temperance town. It was said that trade followed the venders of liquor and without a saloon, Auburn would become a dead place, but the quiet was the peacefulness of sobriety and workmen’s wages in building and loan association were used to buy lots and erect upon them good homes.

Opportunely for the good of the town, Thomas C. Mays previously connected with the Ft. Wayne Sentinel bought of J. A. Barnes, the Air Line, then published at Waterloo and removed the press and material to Auburn and commenced the publication of the Auburn Courier. On Jan. 5th, 1871 the first number appeared as an eight-column folio. In the latter part of ’72, it became a six-column quarto and later changed to a seven-column quarto its present size.

Mr. Mays was well qualified for editorial work; he was the man for the time and place; soon attracted and held a large circulation by no means confined to party; and by his vigorous and straight forward editorials did much to awaken the towns people to their opportunities and to attract people from other places to the county seat.

His introductory promises, to try to harmonize all by introducing a spirit of active co-operation with a good will and enterprise to make us a happy and a prosperous people; and to place our county, with its ample agricultural, mechanical and commercial resources among the first in the state, were faithfully carried out.

A practical printer, a good writer and genial disposition, he was at once favored by good advertising patronage and as an auspicious promise of official favor, was the recipient of and extraordinary delinquent list numbering fully 800 descriptions for publication at very remunerative rates.

Mrs. Mays was a lady of excellent society as well as home accomplishments, was a familiar figure in the choir of the M. E. church, being a fine singer and none will recall her but with pleasurable thoughts.

On July 1, ’78, Mays sold the Courier to Theodore Reed of Columbia City shortly after he went west, published a paper at Hot Springs, Arkansas, about 1881, and having been more or less in newspaper work since leaving Auburn, is at present state printer at Little Rock, Ark., though owning a half interest in a newspaper, the "Press" at Paragould in the same state.

Meanwhile the Courier was edited by Mr. Reed in the rooms in the Odd Fellows block, now occupied by Auburn Dispatch. He was a man of recognized ability, and his management was fairly successful resulting in a constant beneficial influence upon the welfare of the town.

Robert J. Lowry son of the congressman, soon purchased an interest and the firm of Reed & Lowry existed until the spring of 1880, when Reed sold to Lowry who became sole owner while Reed obtained employment with the Northern Pacific people and is a resident of Spokane Falls, Washington.

Soon after acquiring the Courier, Mr. Lowry died and in December, 1880, J. A. Barnes forming a partnership with D.Y. Husselman bought the paper and continued its publication. The office was at once removed to the second story of the Kiblinger block, Main st., where it now is. Mr. Husselman was a lawyer, later clerk of this county and at present is engaged in a manufacturing business, the Eagle Iron Works, at Auburn Junction. Health failing on Jan. 1, 1882, he retired from the firm and was succeeded by F. P. Blair, son of L. J. Blair of Waterloo. In March following, Mr. Barnes acquired his interest by purchase and as sole proprietor and editor had conducted the Courier to the present time.

In 1884, he replaced the old Washington hand press by a Campbell power press and soon after added steam power. At intervals since, he has supplied much needed material and made the Courier establishment a first-class county office.

The subscription list from the start encouraging, has steadily increased and is fully sixty per cent greater then when Mr. Barnes took the office. The Courier and its publisher are too well known to require further mention in the connection.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 27 Jul 1893)


The friends of a railroad appropriation in Union township succeeded in causing a levy of 90c on each $100, to be placed against its taxpayers to make up the some of $5,592.60 and the money was collected but as not authorized by statue, was given into the custody of the trustee and by him used to the interests of the township to consequent advantage in later low levies; all the benefits that in any case could have accrued from the railroad have been realized. As a rule the principle of bonding a city or county for railroad construction taking from the people to enrich a few persons associated or a company is unjustifiable since in rare instances does the stock issued in return for subscriptions, long have value.

Generally the road is sold under mortgage foreclosure and the stock becomes worthless, and it would be interesting to know if any of the Auburn subscribers realized anything on the stock given them about this time.

Memories of the old regulator associations and their tragic but effectual discipline of criminals were revised in June 1871 by the filing with the county auditor of articles of association of a horse thief detecting society by leading citizens of Concord township and the appointment therewith of a number of constables. The act was a reminder not only of the past but a revelation of yet existing lawlessness and the simple fact that such action had been taken proved a timely and potent deterrent to actual and possible evil doers.

While Auburn in 1871, as shown by the tax duplicates, numbers no rich men as affluence is estimated at present, her wealthiest citizens being represented by such, men as Alonzo Lockwood who held much real estate and John P. Widney dealer in promissory notes county and township warrants; neither did the town contain any so poor but that they somehow made a living; and of the twenty person inmates of the county asylum, not one was from the county seat.

From its nearness to Auburn, the poor farm has ever been a patron of our stores and groceries for supplies and an object of interest to her citizens. The fields in 1871 were highly tilled, and very productive. A fine barn 85x40 feet was built near the asylum by Messrs. Culver and Houston at a cost of about $1,800 and much money at intervals since has been expended in drainage and additional buildings.

A report published by Conrad Miller, superintendent, for a year, has items of special interest as a basis for present comparison since no such statement has since been made public. The expenditures amounted to $1915.04 which included among other items, the salary of the supt., $600; for labor, $302; for provisions $308.36; for clothing $296.62; for incidentals $277.95

The report stated in detail the kind and amount of farm produce of which sales were made to the value of $377.65.

Of the inmates at this time, some yet remain and the years have slowly and surely made this to them an actual asylum in which life has passed not unhappily.

They have ever been fortunate in the sterling good qualities of successive superintendent and their wives.

When Mr. Rummel left the farm, it was thought to be difficult to fill the place but it was admirably done by Charles P. Glazier whose stay was self-terminated that he might engage in hotel keeping in Auburn early in 1893.

Occupying middle ground in respect to property, living for years without seeing even neighboring towns in their habit of home staying, the railroad was an innovation and the numerous strangers a novelty to the townspeople. The spiritual want of our people were watched over by the different churches and their parlors and it can be said in truth that in no previous year had these civilizing institutions been more flourishing nor had better prospects for the future.

The Baptists were canvassing for subscriptions for church construction with gratifying success. The Lutherans were agitating the question of building. The Rev. H. H. Sandoe of Liberty Center, Ohio, preached in the St. John Reformed church. A movement was on foot to procure and excellent Presbyterian minister resulting in securing the Rev. Mr. Fowler while A. W. Lamport pastor of the M. E. church held protracted meeting with large attendance general awakening and enthusiastic spirit and later came prominently before the public in an able, earnest and well maintained doctrinal controversy with John P. Widney a man of sound judgment, trenchant and logical in argument and a believer in Universal salvation.

Our schools were declared to be in the ascendancy and each day added new confidence in our school, system. The building was substantial, teachers efficient, many pupils were willing, and over all presided an experienced school board.

The public term closed on March 31, after a session of sixteen weeks during which the enrollment was 244 but, the irregularity of attendance was strikingly shown by a reported daily average of 161. The High School representation had been limited to three students in Ray’s Algebra and Harkness’ Latin and two in Mayhews’ Bookkeeping and enrollment to 43 pupils.

The select fall term conducted by W. H. McIntosh assisted by C. P. Houser and Mrs. E. Lowy began under favorable suspices on Aug. 14th with an enrollment of 155 equably divided among the teachers, and was so successful that the school board composed of Messers. Griswold, Hollopeter and Davis decided to retain the teachers and thereupon engaged Messrs. McInotsh and House and also Miss Laura Clark and Miss Emma Hull for a three months session for the respective sums of $225, $150 and $60. The term began Nov. 27. The enrollment was 240 in all the schools. The number in the High School department was 56 and their per cent of attendance was 85.

It was stated impartially that the Principal "stood at the head of his profession" whether true or not, he never faltered in assiduity nor spared himself, and his reward and the town’s advantage was a school characterized by creditable interest and satisfactory progress.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 2 Aug 1893)


The star of Auburn was now in the ascendant and stranger, especially from the border towns of Ohio, flocked to this new El Dorado of speculative and business promise.

The attention had been directed to this point in such a way as stimulated this movement and gave a correct forecast of the town’s future was evidenced by statements like the following abridgement of communication to the Ada Record, published in the fall of 1827:

"Auburn is the county seat of DeKalb County, Indiana. For years, it appeared to be in a state of decline in consequence of the failure of the Eel River Railroad being completed some twenty years ago while the neighboring town of Waterloo was enjoying unrivaled the advantages of the Southern Michigan railroad. But a change has taken place for the better that will make this one of the most thriving and pleasant places in that state.

The location through Auburn of the Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw railroad, a line that has been in operation two years, the completion of the Eel River road to within a short distance, and the almost certainty of the Baltimore & Ohio extension to Chicago touching the town to the south, have combined to give the town an inpetus wholly unexpected by those who for a few years had not see Auburn.

Three dry goods stores, a half dozen factories an some twenty business places constitute the nucleus of the coming trade and manufacture of which the place is capable.

There are ten or more lawyers and physicians resident and the latter professionals are well up with the progress of medical science. Many nice mercantile houses and family residences have already been built in the old portion of the town and these relieve the contrast that would otherwise be presented with the new, recently built portion. The country surrounding has a rich soil and level surface, and the fine farm buildings are substantial evidence of agricultural resources."

This outside opinion was good and true so far as it went, but it fell far short of expressing the stirring activity of the leading townsmen in furtherance of Auburn interests and the openings that invited enterprise.

The population did not rest content with the completion of the Eel River railroad to Auburn Junction, but held meetings early in November at Butler, as well as at Auburn in the interest of its rightful extension eastward. At a meeting at the county seat, presided over by J. E. Rose, who, long a citizen of the former town, had now permanently located here, and address was delivered by President Collins, who gave assurance that the road would be built without delay to the Ohio line provided a subscription of $4,000 per mile could be raised. A committee of five to secure the required amount were appointed, composed of the following named Auburn citizens: George Ensley, Enos Weaver, Frank D. Ryan, William McIntyre and A. L. Hollopeter.

These men worked hard, but subscriptions came in slowly. It is easier for the public to look backward then forward. Take up the rails of the three roads that give Auburn its communication with the country at large and aside from loss of railroad revenues, a half of the acre valuage and two thirds of the value of every town lot would disappear to return only with their replacement. In this light, the importance of the services of those men who had the foresight to perceive and who labored so strenuously to secure, our present railroad facilities, becomes apparent and claims recognition from old time resident and subsequent arrivals.

Various rumors of other routes inferentially adverse to our town were circulated from time to time, leaving the matter in doubt until the last of February, 1875, when William Clapp brought the welcome news from Baltimore that the B. & O. Company had decided to build upon the Defiance, or present line. It was promised that the road would be constructed via Auburn, provided a sixty-six foot right of way would be tendered at an early day, but no subscription were asked.

A meeting at the courthouse was a scene of much enthusiasm, betokening and interest beyond ordinary. Two committees; numbering three persons in each, were promptly appointed and started out, the one going east, the other west, to work up and secure the required right of way.

The first party had completed their mission by March 7, and returned with the gratifying news that the farmers of Jackson, Concord and Newville townships, through whose lands the survey ran, had with few exceptions, cheerfully donated the right of way.

The second party were not so fortunate, but the prospect was encouraging and soon after, the county was reported ready to respond to the demand for a roadway.

About the last of October, a Mr. Hampshire, the right of way agent for the company, addressed an assemblage of citizens at the court house and a party of five was chosen to go over the proposed route in this county and act with him in closing the business with the farmers.

No little disappointment was felt by many of our people that the line did not run nearer towns, but it was held that by crossing at the Junction, the grounds intervening between town and that point, would ultimately be built up an that this outlying suburb could never bring about a change in the existing business center.

All were urged to do what they could for the railroad and thereby increased the probability that the company would make Auburn the location of Division shops. Effort was sensibly increased and encouraged by a statement on the part of this company that: "We intend neither to swindle nor to be swindled. Wherever the general advantages of route will not be sacrificed, it is just and politic to avoid contact with communities controlled by spirit of narrow selfishness and avarice and to seek to establish relations with those where a different feeling promises co-operation, good will and fair dealings."

This old and powerful company meant just what they said and, acting on this common sense principle, a tamarack swamp was destined to become a flourishing town site, and even the improvements which were actually placed upon their right of way just south of town, were in time removed an a bright opportunity forever lost; a heavy and not unusual penalty for excessive price demanded for farm lands occupying the site of the intended division terminus buildings.



Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 10 Aug 1893)


Under the auspicious dawning to a bright and promising future of Auburn, the place enjoyed an actual as well as prospective prosperity and strangers attracted by favorable report, found a live town in which not a few decided to cast their lot.

There were in the month of April, no less than twenty-three buildings in course of construction and this did not include any of the new business houses for which the material was already upon the ground.

Some of those commencing or completing residences and other improvements were Charles Beugnot, J. Showalter, E. Kuhlman, C. S. Shrader, John Lawrence, H. E. Altenburg, William Baughn, Theron Clark, Samuel T. Galloway, Samuel Swihart, Simeon U. Tarney, Charles F. Floyd, James L. Penny, Joseph Abright and Lewis Bowers.

Carpenters estimated from the number of bids solicited, that at least seventy-five new residences would be erected during the year. There was not a vacant house in Auburn and the demand was imperative for dwellings to own or to rent by persons desirous of moving in.

In January, the question of organizing a building and loan association to enable those limited in means to acquire homes and incidentally to build up the town, began to be agitated. The scheme was favorably regarded and by the close of February, measure were so well advanced that success was assured. Two months later, the requisite amount of stock had been subscribed; organization had been effected and articles of the "Auburn Building and Saving Association" had been filed with the secretary of state.

The charter fixed the capital stock at $100,000 divided into 500 shares of $200 each. The directors for the first year were Wm. McIntyre, John L. Davis, Thomas C. Mays, Joseph Albright, Jacob B. Casebeer, Daniel Z. Hoffman, Christopher S. Hare, Henry C. O. Peterson and Albert Robbins. J. B. Casebeer was elected president, T. C. Mays secretary and W. McIntyre, treasurer. The meetings at which a fund accumulated by payment of monthly installments, was offered at auction, were scenes of much enthusiasm as the accrued funds were struck off to the shareholder who bid the greatest premium. Each loan was secured by mortgage on real estate and interest was paid monthly.

During the eight years’ term of existence of this association, it promoted habits of economy, afforded means of profitable investment and greatly enhanced the value of property purchased and built upon. By this means, good homes were acquired by many who otherwise would never have owned them and when it had answered the design of its creation in its benefit to families and the public, its existence quietly closed.

To this time no movement towards enlarging boundaries eastward promised success but now, besides the expansion to the northwest, town limits were extended southward by an addition laid out by George Ensley by whom successive additions have been platted to the number of four. Upon these tracts, some of Auburn’s most valuable and extensive manufactories have been located, to grow from experimental and crude industries into permanent and systematic factories, shops and mills, giving profitable investment to capital and steady employment to many men.

Attention was directed in March to the operations of Charles Beugnot & Co., who were establishing a large stave factory upon grounds acquired adjacent to the railroad in the northwest part of the town. This sterling and reliable firm had pushed the work of erecting buildings, put in machines and advertised for material for manufacture of staves and headings on a large scale. By the middle of May, the firm was ready for work. The commencement was most promising and soon the daily product of the factory amounted to 25,000 staves alone. From that time for a period of fifteen years, this manufactory carried on a heavy business, bringing thousands of dollars into the pockets of farmers, giving steady employment whose payment had been the support of a number of families and material and opportunely aiding in the movement to build up the place.

To supply requisite amount of material, a brisk demand was created for stave bolts; and owners of woodlands hitherto unremunerative, were gratified and encouraged to fine a cash market for their abundant timber. The factory was never forced to suspend for lack of raw product and the extent of forest available is shown by its immense product consequent upon continuous operation of the plant so many years.

The factory had under the same management a saw mill with a capacity for ten to twelve hundred feet of lumber per day, besides planing, lath and shingle mills; it employed twenty-five hands and in its entirety, constituted a most valuable adjunct to Auburn a business interests.

Charles Beugnot thoroughly identified himself with the town; together with the Schaab brothers, opened up a fine double store for sale of ready made clothing good, and groceries; and the venture in a degree connected with the factory business, proved satisfactory in time, one of the Schaab brothers sold to the firm and in 1885, the other went into business in his own account and has continued to date.

In 1885, Mr. Beugnot took David Ober into partnership in conduct of the stave factory and for a time the firm of Ober & Beugnot carried on the manufactory.

In 1872, Mr. Beugnot was a popular and promising man; he erected a fine dwelling in the north part of town, was elected a town trustee and later town treasurer, in which capacity he served satisfactorily, but aspiring to fill the lucrative office of town treasurer, secured a nomination on the republican ticket to be overwhelmingly defeated at the polls by his astute political antagonist, LaFayette J. Miller, then serving his first term in the office. He soon after disposed of his property in Auburn, sold his interest in the factory to Mr. Ober and went south, since which little is known of him. It must in justice be admitted that his coming to Auburn when he did and starting his factory was a service great and lasting, realized and promptly requited by local honors and worthy remembrance.



Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens.

(Re: Auburn Courier – 17 Aug 1893)


Among business changes in 1872, was the purchase in April of the Eagle Flouring Mills from Mr. Griswold by Isaac M. Thomas and Richard Elson, who for a time conducted the milling business under the firm name of Thomas & Elson. Nathan Tarney, owner of the south mill, disposed of that property to an Ohio party. These frequent changes in proprietors did not necessarily made stinted resources nor unprofitable returns so much as inexperienced and versatile purchasers possibly influenced by speculative spirit and greatly dependent for success upon employes engaged to operate them. The uniform and prosperous career of I. O. Bachtel who had long given his entire attention to mills is proof positive of the success that awaits the firm or individual who unites persistent effort with intelligent method.

About the first of the year, J. W. Rickel formed a partnership with D. D. Moody for the practice of law and located their office accordant with long precedent in a convenient room of the court house. This firm was regarded with favor; their clientage was large and their practice was remunerative.

J. B. Casebeer and J. J. Littlefield associated to practice medicine and commended themselves to the public by professional skill. Dr. Littlefield, while a competent and experienced physician, had not the staying qualities of his partner to whom he shortly sold his interest and left town. He returned after a brief absence "to settle permanently in Auburn, to be one of her citizens in prosperity and adversity." For some years he won a fair share of social and professional considerations. Finally removed west and is in practice at Wichita, Kansas.

Dr. J. H. Ford, rich in medical lore form many successive years of dealing with disorders prevalent in this section but alone unable to attend to his arduous duties in visitation of patients, formed a partnership with Jared Spooner, his son-in-law. This young man was a hard student, a close observer of symptoms and course of diseases, and the effect of recognized remedies. He proved worthy of reliance in time of sickness, and fairly earned a good share of public favor, which he retained during he sojourn in Auburn.

Some ten years ago he sold his pleasant and convenient home, now the residence of W. H. Kiblinger, and removed to Peru, Ind., assigning as a reason for the change, that "The town has grown too healthy for so many doctors." In fact, for the size of the place, the number of physicians was to great and suggested a degree of sickness which did not exist.

It is a pleasure to know that Dr. Spooner is regarded at his present home as a leading physician and surgeon entitled to entire confidence.

In 1872, a lucrative business in all parts of the country, to the agent as well as the manufacturer, was the sale of parlor organs and sewing machines. The latter, supplies with many valuable improvements and selling at less than $25, were then readily disposed of for $85 and more, and cabinet organs have experienced a like depreciation in price.

T. C. Elson was a well know agent at Auburn for sewing machines and thoroughly commanded the adjacent country, taking with him, in a neat wagon, a salable sample. T. B. Totten, now of Kansas, and Chauncy Clark, later elected county surveyor and long since dead, were associated in the sale of both sewing machine and organs—prized instruments for woman’s help and leisure’s solace. Geo. H. Hoffman, more recently and esteemed citizen of North Dakota, a senator in the legislature and a lieutenant governor for a time was , in 1872, well satisfied with the humbler occupation of agent for the sale of organs in our town and vicinity.

In June, Mr. Abright entered into partnership with Charles Shepherd, of Ohio, a man possessed of popular musical accomplishments. The firm of Abright & Shepherd successively occupied the store buildings that stood upon the sites of the present Davenport and Hebel Bros’ business houses, and dealt in jewelry and musical instruments. Following a dissolution of partnership, Mr. Abright removed to the location now occupied by F. J. Yesbera in the same business, where until his death he suited popular tastes by a fine stock and rich variety of elegant articles.

Israel W. Martin & Sons came to Auburn, bought the building formerly owned by T. C. Elson and opened a grocery store. They purchased resident property and competed manfully for a trade that failed to meet their expectations, finally concluding to try some other fields, they departed, leaving none but pleasant remembrances.

J. W. Case, having completed expensive improvements largely adding to his store building as well as providing a fine home adjoining, was approached by J. J. Wood and E. E. Williams, parties from Ada, Ohio, with an offer for this miscellaneous stock of dry goods, groceries, etc., purposing to conduct, the business upon a more extended scale.

Sale was made to Messrs. Wood & Williams about March 1st, and the new firm bringing to their aid a large previous experience and some capital, put in a good stock of merchandise, advertised freely and seemed to flourish for a period, but in the end willingly gave place to Messrs. Miller & Casebeer, who, after various business mutations, also left Auburn for some other locality.

The energy and enterprise of Mr. Case was now directed in a new channel and in company with the Mock brothers, Chauncey and Lewis, he built a scroll factory just cross the track of the present Wabash railroad near the station and accumulating a stock of walnut logs worked them up into proper material and inaugurated a lively and promising business.

Finally the property fell to Mr. Case, who built extensive additions and enlarge the sphere of his operations but financial losses crippled his resources and he closed the factory, which, grown old, weatherworn and dilapidated, has stood vacant the greater part of the succeeding years.

In June, a new saw mill was built and put in operation in the south part of town by Messrs. Ensley & Mitchell. This mill from that time to the present has been continuously and profitably operated by Jacob Mitchell, a veteran at the business.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 24 Aug 1893)


Improvements in the central and commercial portion of the town were being made on an extended scale of the locality. The old hotel long known as the Weaver house was being moved temporarily a short distance westward on the lot to vacate a site for a proposed brick hotel to be built by S. C. Swineford. Dr. Cowan was greatly improving the present Caruth place and W. McIntyre attracted attention to the west central portion of the town by building two residence houses on Van Buren street.

The time had come when some portion of the lots on Seventh street opposite the public square were to be occupied by permanent buildings and the history of the attempt and final success is illustrative of American pluck under circumstances of unusual severity. The old two-story frame long in use was moved east and across the street from the Eagle Mills, where it still stands, being the Knoder blacksmith shop, and a brick block was planned which was to be three stories high, 110 feet front and 80 feet deep, to stand just west of the M. E. church.

H. E. Altenberg & Co. had the contract for the east 22 feet, to be built by Auburn Lodge No. 116, I. O. O. F. George Ensley was to erect a double store building of sixty-six feet front, and the remaining twenty-two feet fell to David Snyder, a young man of business push who had purchased for the purpose this part of the block site.

By the last of August, the first two structures were well advanced in construction and Mr. Snyder had begun upon his foundation. From then on the building progressed favorably and projectors were already anticipating occupancy of their fine and costly store rooms when the work was practically undone by an untoward disaster.

On the night of Oct 28, a sudden, violent wind storm, coming up from the southwest, tore its way through the town and rushed with irresistible force against the incomplete block. The middle wall of Ensley’s building were shattered and the Odd Fellow’s Hall, whose walls were ready for the roof, was swept down with thunderous crash, piling brick, timbers, lumber and mouldings in chaotic mass and demolishing a portion of the church standing close below. The church was badly wrecked, as its entire west side was forced in by the momentum of the falling walls, leaving unbroken neither window, shutter nor sash.

The lodge of Odd Fellows had massed in their building all of their resources and the wreck, left them worse than bankrupt, causing return of charter and disbandment of lodge.

Undismayed, Messrs. Ensley and Snyder began to clear away the debris, and resuming the work of construction, by the middle of November, the buildings again neared completion.

The Town Board in March ordered a re-survey of the older portion of Auburn to determine the "exact lines." In disputed cases. To locate the exact lines has ever proved a difficult task, since each survey varied from all others and involved the question in ever growing complexity and vexation. The surveyor, George Hicks, having temporarily removed from the county, his place was filled by Henry C. Peterson, appointed to act in his place until a successor was elected. It was proposed to employ Mr. Peterson to make the re-survey of the town, but strenuous opposition of citizens defeated the measure. Inspection of records shows no especially notable proceedings by the Town Board. Ordinances there were, dealing with the familiar subject of planking the sidewalks and, in default, notices were served upon sundry lot owners to attend to this duty within thirty days under penalty of advertising, selling and having the work done and all costs charged against the property.

Some doubt having existed whether such arbitrary action was legal, there were those who allowed the sale to take place, contested taxation of costs, carried the case to the higher court and in losing, were mulcted with heavy additional judgment in favor of the town. Thus dearly the matter was decided and thereafter notices of this character have been respected and money and feelings saved.

At the annual May election, the republican ticket was successful by a close vote. There were 202 ballots cast and through indifference 40 electors did not go to the polls. This was an increase of the voting population since the previous election of 56 persons.

It may be said in popular recognition of ex-soldiers, the party had nominated and elected a soldier’s ticket, since of the new trustees, all but Wm. A. Lowrey were of that most deserving element of the population. Those veterans now civil officials, were Messrs. Beugnot, Porter, McKay and Altenberg. A. Robbins was chosen clerk, Murray C. Markle, a new arrival, was selected town marshal, J. Abright, another ex-soldier, became treasurer and W. Griswold, assessor.

The municipal taxes were collected on commission by the marshal as his perquisite in lieu of salary and this trouble-some system was long continued. But eventfully all taxes were placed by the county auditor upon his duplicate and, semi-annually, upon warrants on the county treasurer, the corporation and school treasurers of the town received the sums of him collected.

As a singular instance in Auburn’s history of the power of public opinion to rule even in an obnoxious way, and as a vivid contrast to the more aesthetic spirit now prevalent, the towns people in 1872, passing up the sidewalk west side of Main street, saw with seeming apathy, all along the gutter, hog wallows and mud holes caused by hitching horsed, and from the semi-liquid contents there exhaled when disturbed an intolerable stench, and an ordinance allowed swine the freedom of the streets from Oct. 1, 1872 to April 1, 1873.

In 1872, few wells were sunk for beneath the surface and dry weather made water scarce. Benjamin Williams and Robert McDougal were engaged in putting down drive wells which, though crude in material, and shallow of depth contrasted with the present, were a great advance on dug wells in usefulness and simplicity.

Water supply was abundant through these wells and the water was thought pure; comparatively, it was, but later analysis has shown its unfitness for use. Williams & McDougal in the interest of the public at large, sank a drive well by the curb west the court house, where the present town pump is located, and put down many wells in the town. Great improvements have been made in methods, casings filters and depths of piping.

In 1887, a demand was made upon every owner of a drive well for a royalty of $10. T. H. Sprott, the Auburn agent, collected from many, and much irritation was felt and expressed inconsequence. There seemed no escape from payment and most had intended compliance with the exaction when the welcome news was promulgated that the courts had decided an appealed case adverse to royalties. Payments immediately ceased, but none of the money was ever refunded.

Various parties, including W. S. Purdy & Son and Myers & Pearce have done, the community essential service as well men. Deep wells resulting in fountains of water unlimited in supply and unexcelled in quality, are becoming the rule.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 31 Aug 1893)


Isaac Roth this season came upon the street with a sprinkling wagon and brought grateful relief to resident and business men, for the clouds of foul dust usually raised by sudden winds or passing vehicles. Later B. Williams essayed to run a sprinkler to be paid by voluntary weekly contributions but failed of proper support and, finally, two persons who deserve especial credit for needful, cheap an faithful performance of this public duty, placed two wagons on the streets and made sprinkling a business. Those persons were Perry Blodgett and James his son whose teams continually passing along main street, during the long and heated summer days, laid bacteric dust, cooled the sultry atmosphere and permitted open doors and windows without injury to house furniture or store goods. The firm to whom the Blodgett’s sold their wagons, and which have done the work of sprinkling during the season of 1893, deserve much credit for their thorough work.

A well known and familiar character of Auburn, in 1872, was John W. Britton who placed upon the street a fine new transfer wagon and made a fairly good investment. Britton went west, but lately returned a different man, no longer athletic and active but broken by sickness and crippled by rheumatism.

The season was remarkable from a singular disease known as "the epizootic" which swept over the country and everywhere affected horses many dying, of it, thousands were made worthless and other thousands materially injured. In its violence and general prevalence it brought about almost a cessation of business, and in cities compelling novel substitutes for horse power, aptly illustrated American fertility of resources in emergency. The stable of the farmer was no more exempt than that of the livery keeper. Many fine horses were ruined in DeKalb county, and in Auburn the entire stable of Frank Ryan suffered more or less from the strange disorder.

A beetle migrating eastward for far away Colorado fed upon and ruined the potato vines in gardens and in fields and but for paris green and other poisons would have made efferts at culture of the nutrient tuber nugaltory. Added to this pest, the Auburn gardener saw his current and gooseberry bushes so stripped of foilage and destroyed that their healthy fruits have become a rarity and a luxury.

During the spring of 1872, a smallpox scare spread through the town, closing the schools, quarantining the place to other localities village and country and temporarily causing a paralysis of business. It proved for the most part causeless and in this knowledge, a notice was signed by all the doctors in Auburn and published, to the effect that one or two cases of existing sickness were but a mild form of varioloid.

The family of Samuel Lauferty, with whom the supposed post had obtained lodgment were the heaviest sufferers and merited general public sympathy and consideration.

On a subsequent occasion, a panic of less extent occasioned by grossly exaggerated rumors of infectious disease was experienced by quickly died away when the prompt confident measures for suppression of the malady if any where found to exist, were made known.

Like a run upon a bank or slander of a good man’s name by a thoughtless or malicious utterance, so the false rumors of cholera or some such scourge not infrequently creates a striking semblance to the dread reality and this knowledge should stand as a warning against indiscreet expression.

Auburn since 1836, has many times honored this nation’s natal day but on July 4, 1872, the Ninety sixth anniversary of Independence, there was held in the town, a celebration to which was gathered the largest assemblage of people on any occasion since the founding of the county. A noticeable feature connected with the program of exercise following prayer by Rev. J. B. Fowler and reading of the Declaration by Herman P. Colegrove, was an oration by Prof. William L. Penfield, of Adrain College, Michigan.

It was in this public manner that Mr. Penfield was introduced to a people with whom it was his destiny and good fortune to cast his lot for upwards of a score of years. In recognition of the worth and eloquence of the oration, it was accorded publication in full in the columns of the AUBURN COURIER.

Influenced by favorable reception and attractive possibilities, Mr. Penfield began here the practice of law, formed successive partnerships with D. D. Moody, C. Emanuel and H. J. Shafer, and extended reputation with widening practice till he stands a prominent figure in the ranks of his high profession.

In early days, the farming interest had found expression in holiday assemblage near Auburn to exhibit their best stock and produce and enjoy as well as profit by the two or three days meeting, but with the expiration of lease of ground and lack of effort, the old association had become dissolved. For some years no fair had been held in the county and the community felt that agriculture should have its days of representation, mechanicism its display and lovers of the race course, their opportunity to back their favorites in tests of speed.

The feeling in favor of founding a permanent County Fair found practical expression among leading citizens, residents of Waterloo, and vicinity and was heartily endorsed by the best farmers of the county.

The apathy of Auburn people otherwise engaged, lost to them an opportunity that Waterloo citizens improved to great subsequent advantage. An organization still known as "Northeastern Indiana Agricultural Association" was formed in May with a capital stock of $10,000. A committee designated to purchase grounds and upon them to erect suitable buildings, soon selected and brought a part of what was known as the Holmes farm, lying near to and northeast of Waterloo. The tract, comprising thirty-one acres, cost the association $3,100. The grounds were surveyed, essential improvements completed, and a half-mile track laid.

The first fair was held Oct. 16 to 19, and proved in all respects a great success. Entries were many in all classes and widely varied. The displays of mechanical and other work were fine and extensive. The racing was spirited, the attendance large, and receipts aggregating $2,500, were substantial evidence of financial prosperity.

The first officers of the fair were: Dr. Chamberlain, president; R. Wes McBride, secretary, and B. B. Long, treasurer. Their management, seconded by an executive committee consisting of Messrs. McClellan, Bowman, Leas and Blair, was largely instrumental in gaining and retaining a popular confidence through which this fair for many successive seasons grew in favor and widened in reputation beyond state limits.

As, the dull days before a railroad, loads of produce passed through Auburn to find sale at the commercial metropolis of the county, so in 1872 and years after ward, on the great days of this fair, and almost continuous stream of vehicles from the southwest townships passed along Main street going to and returning from "the fair at Waterloo," and the county seat itself paid unwilling tribute to the enterprise of her neighbor by general attendance.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 7 Sep 1893)


The courts convened as term time came around; the bell rang its notice to all interested; but then as now, it was subject of remark that so few were the numbers present, so little the stir made that unless attention was called to the fact, the proceedings would hardly have been observed by the public.

But there was much work to do and done. The dockets were long and the cases were numbered by the hundred.

Again grand jurors making their required report "found the jail unhealthy, not worth repairing." They suggested action at an early day with the view to the erection of a jail suitable to the wants of the county and "the enlightenment of the age." This language implied that the condemned building was a reflection upon the spirit of the public and not in keeping with the progress of improvement in the county seat. The financial condition of DeKalb had materially improved. County orders were at par and treasurer Ryan in July, called for redemption all warrants on the treasury issued prior to June, 1872. This favorable showing gave an impetus to the demand for a new jail, but several years were destined to elapse before action was taken on the subject.

The fall election was spiritedly contested by the two great parties with the not unusual result in DeKalb county of a partial victory to each. W. L. Meese was elected sheriff, Nicholas Ensley, treasurer and C. R. Wanamaker, a commissioner on the republican ticket, while a democratic majority was found for D. Z. Hoffman for a second term as recorder, N. Griffith, commissioner and C. C. Clark for surveyor.

Rev. W. L. Meese prior to and since his official service has been known as a man of generous impulses, social, cheerful and agreeable, a Christian constant and loyal to his church in response to whose needs he knew no stint; and a citizen unobtrusive and exemplary. When his term of office had expired, he engaged in insurance and finally assuming ministerial functions as an exhorter in the M. E. church, has held camp and other meetings with gratifying success and popular good will and appreciation.

Mr. Ensley brought to the conduct of financial matters relating to the county treasury, and experience ability and a practical recognition of "public trust," that has never been excelled by any incumbent of that responsible position. Following a term as state senator, he was in 1888 appointed state pension agent necessitating his removal to Indianapolis where his business tact in an extended field has been exerted in so simplying and systemizing the work of his important office that millions of dollars have been disbursed far and wide in thousands of homes with a promptitude that invited comparison with any other agency, merits the hearty thanks of the invalid pensioner and approves his appointment by the government.

Mr. Hoffman continued in the office of county recorder, added to previous qualifications a pains-taking experience which combined, so marked his ability and fitness for this kind of work that successive recorders have found it to their interest and that of the public to retain him in a position where system, accuracy, and penmanship conduce so greatly to facile and ready reference to public records.

Poor Clark had taken great pains to educate himself under trying circumstances only to be cut off in the flower of his age ere he had completed the first year of his term as county surveyor. He died Oct. 4, 1873 in his twenty-third year, had the respect and confidence of the public and gave much promise of future usefulness.

From brief biography, we turn to the story of temperance reform whose field of action was the commissioners’ court in the court house at Auburn, Never have the possibilities of local option been made so apparent as at this time when the saloon element reinforced by railway employes, wielded strong social and political power.

We have called attention to the formation in DeKalb county of a society whose object was local suppression of intemperance. This association had met in Dec. 1871 in convention at Auburn and elected officers for 1872. The Rev. Sanford Bassett was chosen president, Jas. Griswold vice-president, John Hogue treasurer and Daniel D. Moody secretary.

The society for the time arranged to secure lecturers and to form auxiliary associations, to enlist popular support and strengthen the organization.

The movement grew in favor and in November, 1872, a spirited and enthusiastic meeting was held at the M. E. church at Auburn, which found expression in the radical resolution, "That we as an organization are opposed to granting license to any applicant to sell spirituous liquors."

Messrs. Ward, Moody and Lockhart were appointed a committee to petition the state legislature to enact a liquor law and local aggressive work began when at the December session of the board of commissioner, Edward Eldridge, William Tess and William Miller having made application for license to retail spirituous liquors, were successively attacked and defeated. In this contest Messrs. Moody and Peters acted for the prosecution and Messrs. Plum and Rickel for the defense. Opinion was divided on the rejection of the Eldridge application but no sympathy was shown for the others. The excitement attending the discussion was unusual and the victory breathed new vigor to hopes of temperance people whilst it gave the cause a firmer foothold for future contests.

Looking backward to 1872, the prospect shone bright as compared with the dark and disheartening present whose fitful and futile efforts have given the saloon element confidence in applications and immunity from prosecution, till the brief examinations as to "fitness" are treated farcically. And license money is begrudgingly paid as an imposition.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re. Auburn Courier – 14 Sep 1893)


In the winter of 1871-2, a state board of education began the publication of monthly lists of questions to be used by examiners in testing the knowledge of applicants for license to teach schools. These lists, sent under seal to be broken only in the presence of the assembled prospective teachers, secured uniformity of requirement throughout the state and made examinations almost wholly written and much more difficult.

Examiner Barns organized, at Waterloo a training school to qualify the district teachers for their duties and to prepare then for the ordeal of examination. His example was imitated by the principals of graded schools, who made specialty of instructing this most deserving class of young people, with gratifying results.

The Auburn schools were a potent factor in this important duty and the large attendance of intended teachers stimulated progress in the High School department and added greatly to interest in scholarship. The regular term closed under pleasant circumstances, having enrolled 230 pupils nearly equally apportioned among the four teachers. These teachers had the hearty good will of parent and pupil alike. Just after the close of the rhetorical exercises, during which two upper rooms had been thrown into one, presenting the united schools compactly seated, the Rev. A. W. Lamport, of the M. E. church, stepped forward and presented the Principal with Bishop Kingsley’s "Round the World" in two neat volumes, and then Miss Ciddy Hare, on the part of the High School students, presenting Mr. McIntosh with a fine album, said: "As you unclasp and open the leaves of this album, you will behold the many faces you have often looked upon in this school room. These photos are but our shadows, yet we hope far down the future years, that they may call to your mind many pleasing memories of the Auburn Schools."

Most pleasant were these testimonials to the recipient, most creditable to Auburn youth of 1872, and while those faces have aged and grown grave with the cares of life, the album preserves their shadows in perpetual youth and keeps green a happy memory.

Prof. James G. Bowesox, of Butler, a most able and worthy teacher, preacher and citizen, closed the proceedings by an admirable and scholarly address still preserved in the Courier files.

A spring term began March 18, but was seven weeks later abruptly closed in pursuance of an order by the Town Board in consequence of supposed prevalence of the small pox. At this session, M. F. Long succeeded Mr. Houser and the primary grades were taught by Emma Hull and Julia Plum.

The fall term, measured by numbers, and the character, diligence and deportment of the High School members, marks a period to which all interested can refer with pleasure and pride. Scores of young men and women, not only from DeKalb but adjoining counties, crowded the upper rooms and large classes, their members actuated by scholarly zeal, stimulated study and incited enthusiasm in recitation to the close of the session.

Final exercises were held in the M. E. church on the evening of Nov. 1, and a crowded house listened with unabated interest to a program in which twenty-eight speakers had a part. A novelty of the occasion was a spirited, simultaneous declamation of selections by five young men, each speaking his separate piece and seeking by all his oratorical powers to concentrate upon himself the attention of the audience.

The names of the speakers and their themes, in the light of methods in vogue more than twenty years ago, are given, as follows:

Frank Griswold

Change and Decay

Wm. Hoagland

Hardest time of all

Martin Hoffman

Murderer’s Secret

W. W. McClellan

To meet in the Morning

Harley Miller

Incentives to Culture

J. Albert Case

Methods of Knowledge, Song

Monroe Merica

Grandeur of the Sea

Howard Casebeer

Memory of our Fathers

William Spangler


Wilson Nailor

Our Own Country

Julia Plum

The Maniac

Bryon Grube

Poetry of Science, Song

Abby Potter

Duties of Women

Alice Widney

Life Lessons

Charles Emanual

Reinzi to the Romans

M. F. Long

Historic Reflections

George Detrick

The Teacher—Hope for America

Walter Horn

Palace and Prison, Song

Thomas Kelley

Common Schools

Oliver Greenwalt

Learning to Youth

John J. Eakright

Two Roads

William VanZyle

Autumn Robes

Philetus Shrutz

End of Perfection, Song

Joseph Shilling

Duties of Citizens

Isaac N. Cool

Formation of Character

Lorenzo Nelson

End of Time

Daniel S. Littlefield

Wonder of Contrast

J. W. Hippenhammer

March of Mind

For the winter term of 1872-3 W. H. McIntosh was engaged at a salary of $80 a month, the highest compensation paid any instructor in the Auburn Schools to that time. He was assisted by Mr. Long and Miss Rainier, Miss Hall and Miss Hull.

Enrollment in the High School was 56 with almost perfect attendance. Wright’s Orthography, Henderson’s Test Speller and Walton’s dictation problems were of the studies. Writing was taught according to the Spencerian system and the class in Green’s Analysis numbered forty-one. Lessons in length and subject matter taxed the intellect of the student to the utmost and the laggard found little rest in reviews and examinations.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 21 Sep 1893)


The growth of population and the spirit of business enterprise which have been suggested more than described as a feature of 1872 were accompanied by a corresponding activity on the part of the various religious denominations and was manifest in revivals accession of numbers and erection of buildings.

During January, the German Methodists came into notice as a society in their conduct of interesting and fruitful meetings in the Reformed church. Rev. A. W. Lamport faithful as a pastor and popular from personal worth was assigned in conference to Angola circuit much to the disappointment of Auburn people and was replaced by Rev. A. Cone a scholarly and most deserving man. The Baptists had crowned their long and patient labors during summer and fall upon their beautiful meeting-house and found their reward in its dedication and occupancy early in December.

The Roman Catholic church is historic and has come down through the centuries reflecting the age, the times and the countries in which she has existed and in our great republic she adjusts herself to American institutions and advanced civilization. Her priesthood are active and potential in developing and strengthening the church, and that town is small indeed in which Catholicism is not represented.

In cheerful response to a request for facts relative to founding and growth, there was prepared for the writer, the following excellent sketch of the development of the Catholic church in DeKalb county Indiana.

Rev. Augustus Young was appointed its first pastor by the Rt. Rev. Joseph Dwenger, the late deceased Bishop of Ft. Wayne, on the first day of August 1872. Previous to this appointment he was assistant pastor in St. Mary’s church at Fort Wayne. His field of labor in the vineyard of the Lord assigned to him was the northern part of Allen county and the entire DeKalb and Steuben counties.

On the 5th day of August Rev. A. Young visited Auburn the first time. During the succeeding twenty years this noble-hearted apostle labored with untiring zeal and gratifying success in this portion of the vineyard of the Lord. He constantly traveled from place to place over his mission in search of the scattered members of the flock confided in his care; he gathered the faithful into congregations and encouraged them to build churches and schools. In place of where he found number of Catholics small and poor, he assisted them out of his own scanty means. This good pastor, like a zealous missionary, loved to visit the remotest place, and to lend his service, when required for the purpose of instructing the ignorant, removing the prejudice of bigoted minds, strengthening the faithful in the pious practice of their holy religion, and exhorting, to contribute cheerfully and liberally toward the building of churches, thus did this good pastor lay the foundation for the present flourishing condition of the Catholic church in DeKalb county.

On his arriving in Auburn as above mentioned, eight Catholic families, or eighteen communicants were found. As there was no church edifice, Father Young assembled his little flock for two years in the family residence of E. Ashley on West Sixth street where he ministered to their spiritual welfare, but having in view the future growth of Auburn he began at once to make preparations to build a house of worship. The trustees E. Ashley, Jules Beuret and Charles Beugnot purchased a building site on the corner of Fourth and Railroad streets in the northwest part of town, and on June 1, 1874 the foundation was laid for the present building with an expense of $3,000, and was dedicated for divine worship on the 18th of October the same year by Rt. Rev. Joseph Dwenger bishop of Ft. Wayne, and the next day a balance of $375.65 was paid as the last payment due on the church.

Next year, on the 15th day of April, the joining property, consisting of house and lot, of M. L. Duck was purchased for $1900 to be used as a pastoral residence, which has served as such ever since.

Under the prudent management of Father Young, his congregation increased in membership, numbering at present about 300 members and without any encumbrance of the property.

Rev. Father Young was a resident of here until the 10th day of November 1886 when he was ordered by his bishop to move to Garrett, but still had charge of Auburn until Nov. 1, 1891, when his health began to fail. Rev. R. Denk succeeded him, and was in charge but eight months when he was called to be assistant in the St. Mary’s church at Ft. Wayne. The present pastor is Rev. F. Faust, a graduate of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio.

In the spring of 1876 a small frame building 26 x 46 was built at Garrett and opened for service on June 25, 1876. This little church was found to small, and an addition was added in 1886. The present edifice is built in cruciform 110 x 50 with seating capacity of 340, and is beautifully decorated in the interior, has three altars and a pulpit, stained glass windows, and a large bell, the total cost being $7,000.00. It was dedicated on the 19th day of October 1886 by Rt. Rev. Joseph Dwenger of Ft. Wayne. The same year the pastoral residence was built 22 x 30 and 16 x 28 two story, at a cost of $1.500. The present church is again two small, and three lots have been purchased on the corner of Peter and Harrison streets on which to build a fine brick, which will cost $40,000, in the near future.


In the spring of 1888 the present two story brick structure was put up by the present zealous pastor. It is situated 100 feet south of the church on Peter St., is 32 x 50 feet main building with a wing of 20 x 30, and contains four class rooms. The ample play ground and the handsome exterior of the edifice lead one to expect a comfortable interior, nor is the visitor of St. Joseph’s school disappointed in his expectations for he finds in this small city, one of the most completely equipped schools in DeKalb county. At present 180 pupils are enrolled, and are taught by four sisters of the Precious Blood, whose mother house is at Maria Stein, Mercer county, Ohio. The estimated annual expense of the school including the salaries of the teachers is about $750. The value of the school ground and house with its furniture is $7,000, and the original cost of the sisters’ residence $1,000. The seating capacity is for 240 children. The number of Catholic families attending the congregation of Garrett is 135 or about 450 communicants. Value of ground and premises about $20,000.

Garrett justly feels proud of her achievements in so short a time, but all this is due more or less to the zeal of her beloved pastor.

In the Spring of 1880 the present church, know as St. Michael’s Church in Smithfield township was built, and the following year on August 14th, it was dedicated for divine worship by the bishop of Ft. Wayne. The edifice is 80 x 40 and seats 180, and the cost of it was entirely secured and paid for at the time of its dedication. Father Young was relieved of this mission January 30, 1882 by Rev. F. Franzen, a young man but lately ordained, who died on May 26, of the same year at Waterloo, Ind. Father Young was appointed to attend St. Michael’s until the arrival of the present pastor, Rev. Max Benzinger, who took charge on July 4, 1883, and he has held the position ever since. The cost of the above was about $1,500. Two acres of the land on which it stands was donated by John Mathias Schaudel, who died before it was dedicated, but his funeral was held in the church, being the first service ever held therein. The present pastors zealous in the work for his people, built the present parsonage which was completed at a cost of $1,400 in the year 1885. The above named Mr. Schaudel also donated an acre of ground for burial purposes, joining the church grounds and the first one that therein found a resting place.

On August 30, 1881, four acres and a half were purchased of Gust Helmuth, administrator of the estate of Charles F. Mader deceased, known as the Mader’s addition to the town of Auburn, for the sum of $543.54 for burial purposes and is now and recorded as the Catholic St. Mary’s cemetery, Auburn, Ind., and serves the purpose for Auburn, Garrett and missions.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 28 Sep 1893)


Auburn, in 1872, was on the highway of prosperity. A large number of buildings had been completed and business had greatly revived. To those actively engaged in various avocations, there came success or failure, proportioned to the possession or want, of experience and good management. The fortunes off the town at this crisis in its existence were being more speedily advanced by ambitious aspirants for popular recognition whose inherent qualities added the general grounds for confidence and whose optimism increased the reputation of the place to the measure of its full deserving.

Mills and factories at long intervals, had slowly come into operation under the influence of an extreme conservatism, but they had utilized surplus timber, manufactured wool, floured wheat, and forming a nucleus for future segregation of like interests, had demonstrated the favorable possibilities awaiting judicious investment.

The well-won railroad had facilitated shipment of produce and import of merchandise. At its depot had been created a market for grain which insured cash sales for the farmer, whose money expended with Auburn’s grocers, store keepers and to the supply agencies, promoted a reciprocal trade with mutual benefit.

Gaining confidence with growing numbers in the security of local birthright as the permanent countyseat, business men with fresh ardor entered boldly into competition with alert rivals elsewhere to regain and hold the domestic traffic which, properly tributary to Auburn, had been alienated by adverse conditions no longer existing. Changes were frequent, but each had its lesson and advantage. Close succeeding firms that failed or dissolved, dissatisfied with returns on capital and personal management, came other firms hopeful to win where these had lost, confident of their better judgement and reckless of costly experience realized in sacrificial sale to them of stocks on hand.

New teachers from abroad took the place of those living in the town, hired by a school board mainly constituted from the ranks of recent arrivals, and with increased of population, came accessions of church members of the different denominations; encouraging and strengthening the established societies, giving strength for organization of others and stimulation the love of novelty by frequent changes in ministers.

In a spirit of self-sacrifice carried to unjust extreme, the desire to welcome the stranger was shown in at once and without question admitting him into social and business relations, encouraging him to take the lead in conduct of affairs and landing enterprises inspired solely by hopes of personal proof and reputation.

Thomas C. Mays, himself in a degree visionary, through his organ, impatiently denounced such as did not rush into every chimerical scheme broached by moneyless adventurers, and seemed unable or unwilling to understand the reluctance of conservative men to invest their savings in glittering ventures of whose workings they were practically ignorant.

Old and honorable residents who had staid in Auburn when left by others, were named in terms of obloquy because they did not choose to part with their real estate nor build beyond their needs, and prudent citizens were influenced against their better judgment by an out-cry against "Fogyism" to contribute to the stock of manufactory of great possibilities, only to see it wrecked and reined by wholesale return to the works of condemned and worthless products due solely to hurried, inexperienced and defective workmanship.

Later, a startling illustration of the folly and danger of sudden and unquestioning confidence in adventurous strangers was afforded when imperative and increasing demand for local banking facilities for accommodation of financial and business interest. Attracted the Hazzard brothers, George and James of Auburn, where they were accorded a hearty welcome and given practically the freedom of the town.

Our people, looking so much more to the establishment of a bank than to the character of its founders, forthwith and freely deposited with them their money to such extent that a time came when their swindling propensities well-nigh hopelessly cripple the institution and, despite energetic effort, mulcted our wealthier citizens of a comparatively large amount of capital.

Responding to popular clamor for premature and ill advised improvements, adroit schemers outlined and urged various projects whose primary purpose was person notoriety and the acquisition and control of capital with the object of profiting by it. They were of that undesirable class of people who, severally or associated in what are now termed "syndicates," which is but a high sounding name for "land speculators," acquire tracts of land in vicinity to a town, plat it and sell the lots for all they are worth.

Under guise of public spirit, costly public measures are carried through, involving extensive taxation; the unfortunate town is boomed years ahead of natural growth, then crippled in finances and depressed in trade is left to recover as best it can, while the syndicate divided up or repeat their profitable investment elsewhere.

The errors of 1873 were not without compensation, inasmuch as they checked undue growth, taught salutary lessons of experience and prepare Auburn for much of the solid and lasting growth which has added so greatly to the resources and population.

The great and important fact rising out of the sudden activity was that the long period of inaction had ended and, with the operation of the Eel River railroad was begun the Auburn of the present day. What had followed have been stages of progress wherein we have learned to wisely bring into activity the strong latent possibilities of this municipality and to measurably adapt our circumstances to the varying conditions of these stirring and eventful times.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 5 Oct 1893


The month of January, 1873 was made memorable by a great storm. Snow fell heavily all day and far into the night. Along the lines of railroad there were complaints of immense drifts and trains were generally behind time. The night passenger on the Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw railroad was entirely abandoned for the time and freights were delayed till the tracks could be cleared. Old settlers compared notes and recalled reminiscences of the hard winter of 1842-3, when cattle suffered for want of food, game perished in the woods in droves and flocks, and pioneers experienced the rigors of an arctic winter.

But at this period, there had come about a vast contrast of conditions and the temporary inconveniences of the occasion were not more that suggestive, to the old time resident, of the bitter privations incident to the years noted.

Interest flagged and revived repeatedly in railroad construction. As prospects became doubtfully many despaired; when hopes brightened, the tide of enthusiasm ran as far forward. In January, the Detroit, Eel River & Illinois railroad was in successful operation from Auburn Junction to Logansport. Towns and villages along the new, important line awoke to new life and activity and alert business men began to reap a rich reward in the way of trade with the country opened up.

Auburn was theoretically the eastern terminus of the line whose completion thus far marked a crisis in the history of the town. Nineteen years had elapsed since the road had been projected and grading had been partially done when the work was suspended during the dark days of the Indiana banking system, not to be renewed until James S. Collins, laboring zealously as president of the reorganized company, earned the gratitude of the people all along the line, for his invaluable services in meeting the great question of resources, when the enterprising firm of D. L. Quirk, & Co. contracted for and substantially built road.

Towards the last of the month, the residents of Auburn were called upon to act in regard to the extension of the road to Butler. The statement was made by Mr. Collins that: "Unless the amount of subscription desired by the company to build the road through DeKalb county is taken up or vouched for by Feb. 15, the road will not be built." The amount then required was $25,000.

In February, President Collins startled citizens by the laconic expression, "No subscriptions, no road." He was seen to be in earnest and a committee was appointed to solicit for subscriptions. Meanwhile, rival interests were insidiously at work, and a scheme was placed on foot to consolidate the new road with others, in which case the advantages expected would have been lost to Auburn. In March, a consolidation was reported for the three railroads, the Ft. Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw, the Detroit & Eel River, and the Hillsdale & Indiana. The new corporation was to be called the Ft. Wayne & Logansport Company. A provisional board of thirteen directors was chosen and a meeting of stockholders to ratify official action, was called for June.

There was to have been an issue of two millions preferred stock to liquidate the second and third mortgage bond, and the project seemed on the verge of being consummated.

The newspaper of a rival town to Auburn, anticipating the movement, is a spirit of triumph, stated that, "Of course, this consolidation is a sad disappointment to many in this county who expected to see the Eel River road continued eastward; but, at the same time, it will be a great relief to know that the question is finally settled."

Adverse as were the prospects, the question was by no means "settled." With discussion and thought grew a revival of interest attended by a liberal response to the earnest requests of the committee on subscription by whom the deficiency had soon been reduced to about $8,000, at which sum, the limit seemed to have been reached.

As the time approached for the meeting of stockholders, rumors of a probable consolidation prevailed only to be roughly set at rest on June 5th at Columbia City by the overwhelming adverse vote of 10, 698 as opposed to but 900 in favor of the movement.

The hands of Auburn and Butler were seen in this vote. These towns realizing the interests at stake and the danger of delay, had made a supreme effort to provide necessary donations, right of way and depot grounds. The zeal was noted and rewarded, and so the extension east had again become a probable event.

A combined and unceasing effort by public spirited citizens, some of whom not only advanced money, but guaranteed the deficit of subscription, was admirably seconded by Messrs. Quirk, Collins, Mansfield and others and Auburn people felt that final triumph had been achieved when they saw, on July 17th, a large force of laborers begin work on the grade near the old cemetery.

The contract was let for building an elevator east of the foot of Cedar Street. The dimensions of the structure, in use since that time, are 20 x 50 and 47 feet in height. The job was awarded to A. L. Hollopeter for $2,200. At about the same time, H. E. Altenberg got the contract for building the passenger depot at the foot of Main street. Its size is 22 x 50 feet and it has fairly well answered to the demands of traffic and the comfort of the traveler.

Work proceeded steadily, and along in September, the crossing with the Ft. Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw road at Auburn Junction was laid in solid steel rails and wrought iron plates. The occasion was made one of ceremony and mutual congratulation by the rejoiced friends of the road. Among others, S. W. Sprott, a hard worker for and a liberal patron of, the enterprise, was present and earnestly expressed his pride and satisfaction in the result of effort. Although hardly recovered from severe illness, he could not forego the pleasure of witnessing the exercises whereby Auburn exchanged doubt for certainty and found great relief that the question had been finally settle and accord with municipal deserving and commercial need, upon a natural route.

By the middle of October, the track had been laid through to Butler, fond hopes had been realized and the event marked an epoch in the history of the allied towns.

James W. Case had extended and enlarge his factory near the depot, accumulated material and manufactured product, looking to the new road for transportation in points where it was saleable. On Sept. 30, he had loaded a car with chair stuff destined for New York City, and the consignment was the first from Auburn to pass over the extension eastward.

A line of telegraph was speedily built and on Nov. 17th, the first message was sent over the wire from this station Butler.

Ballasting was completed by Nov. 10, on which date the first passenger train ran east, taking on board at Auburn quite a number of persons who were treated to a free ride as a slight recognition of local aid in building the railroad. The engineer on this excursion was Eugene Eckley, the conductor was Bechtel and on the train were President Collins and Superintendent Southard.

A round house had meantime been built at Butler with other improvements and it was seen that for some time that town was destined to remain the terminus of the line, but the victory had been won, confidence ran high and the fruits of self-denying subscriptions were now to be measurably realized.

Contemporary with the task achieved, no little attention had been attracted to the progress of the Chicago division of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad through DeKalb county and in close proximity to Auburn on the south. On April 16, interest was increased by a meeting of the officers of the company at the county-seat, to elect a board of directors for the current year and to award contracts for the building of the line.

The contract for grading sections near Auburn was let to Michael Haviland and was pushed forward with much energy, but in consequence of a financial panic that prevailed in the fall, the work stopped for a time.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 12 Oct 1893)


The press discussion of railroad prospects, the energy and unstinted generosity of citizens and the promising features of location, attracted attention to Auburn and brought consequent increase of strangers on the lookout for manufacturing sites or business facilities. During February there came two men from Hicksville, Ohio, to Auburn, to interest our people in the manufacture of wagon and carriage hubs and spokes. They claimed experience in the business at home, represented that such a factory would prove a paying investment here from abundance and cheapness of proper timber and convenience for shipment of product.

They proposed the formation of a joint stock company with a capital of $20,000, of which they would take $8,000, and give Auburn people a controlling influence by assuming the remainder.

The proposition was favorably received. Several leading citizens subscribed the required amount of stock and by June, a company had been formed in which Messrs. Miller and Casebeer were leading members. A fine building site was secured on land owned by George Ensley adjacent to the railroad and just west of the lower mills, in what is now called the "south end" of Auburn.

Constructive work began on the largest building, whose dimensions are 100 feet long by 40 feet wide, and the frame of this structure was raised on August 14. A strong force of workmen were employed and by the last of the month, the roof was in place. In October, the factory engine, a fine and powerful machine from Murray’s foundry, Ft. Wayne, had arrived and was placed in position; machinery had been brought from Hicksville. Material had been purchased from farmers and accumulated, and in November the business was in full blast and gave employment to about twenty-five hands. A musical and far sounding steam whistle calling the men for work, proclaimed a forward step and high hopes were centered upon this factory.

The interior presented a cheering appearance with the din of operation and activity of workmen. In swift succession, logs were sawed into sections, formed into hubs, cored and mortised, while other logs were speedily transformed into spokes. Culls were rejected and soon the store house was piled high with the painted manufactured material awaiting sale and shipment.

The very celerity of the transformation of raw product to finished fabric proved a fatal defect in that most important items, the demand for and acceptance of, the hubs and spokes. For lack of proper seasoning, with inexperienced workmen and resultant defective work passed by the factory inspector, entire car loads were rejected by wagon makers; the reputation of the factory proportionally suffered; the company fell behind in their finances and eventually suspended operations indefinitely. But, while capital was sunk in the venture and a costly lesson was taught in unskilled manufacture, the plan was faultless and the factory was a timely help, supplying a ready market to farmers for the almost useless timber, and by the disbursements to employes, gave substantial and appreciative benefit to Auburn.

Sensitive to reputation, our people were encouraged by well founded outside praise, and the editor of the Logansport Pharos, having paid the town a visit, wrote as follows: "Auburn, the countyseat of DeKalb, is improving rapidly and excellent buildings are being erected. A large brick block opposite the court house on the north was nearly completed last fall. It will be finished during the summer. A fine hotel is being built and many substantial dwelling houses were erected last season. The total number of business and residence houses build in 1872 was ninety-three. On every hand may be seen evidences of prosperity and it is apparent that Auburn is ‘out of the mud.’ The court house is occupied by competent and obliging officers, but the grounds are surrounded by a very shabby fence, which, however, is soon to be replaced by a neat, new one."

And in September, W. C. McGonigal, then of the Steuben Republican and familiar with the vicissitudes through which the town had passed, truthfully stated: "Those who knew Auburn a few years ago would not now recognize the place. Two railroads have brought life to the town and energy to its citizens. Five brick buildings have been recently erected, among them a large three-story hotel built and nearly completed for S. C. Swineford on the site of the Weaver House. A stave factory employs thirty-five hands and a hub and spoke factory is nearing completion that will require as many more.

New dwellings are constantly going up. A passenger depot and grain house on the Eel River Railroad will be ready as soon as trains can be placed on the track. The town is wide-awake and everything denotes a steady and substantial improvement."

Despite these kindly and encouraging expression, Auburn had its serious and still exciting drawbacks, minimized now by cement walks, and crossings of which we are proud and by streets in fine weather, beautiful in perspective, bordered by shade trees, neatly graded by road machines and wet down by indefatigable sprinklers.

Auburn was not out of the mud, realistically speaking, and the Courier with no roseate view of the situation, prior to the spring election justly complained that the "miserable condition of our streets, drains crossings and sidewalks was never more apparent than in March 1873."

No one can have passed along our sidewalks during the spring of 1893 with, all that had been said and done in the interval of twenty years, without thought of the necessity for some system of drainage and the knowledge that the remedy proposed by the COURIER is equally applicable to the situation at the present day.

It was then urged: "First of all, a channel must be made for Cedar Creek. The consequent benefit cannot be estimated." A drain was demanded from "Kuhlman addition in the northwest part of town, near Rickel, Martin Ashley and Altenberg properties, clear through south of the town," and this would relieve ponds of stagnant water and provide outlets for lateral drainage so much needed.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of it Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 19 Oct 1893


Incidental to the May election, it may be seen how history repeats itself in the complaint made that there had been no report made of receipts and expenditures of money for several years and the inference was the finances under existing control must be in a bad way.

The political majority was at this time with the republicans and they proposed to hold the ascendancy as long as possible, despite the assertion that: "Other places lay aside political prejudices, but Auburn must have her political ticket, whether good, bad or indifferent." So it has been and so, in the main it continues to be, and all things considered, the custom is better that so-called citizens’ tickets whose existence is but a hybrid subterfuge.

In an election based on party lines, there can be no difficulty in placing responsibility, bestowing approbation or censure, and causing tenure of office to depend upon the faithfulness of the incumbent. The best interests of the community requires that both parties nominate such men as will subordinate their own interests to that of the public and find their highest reward in popular commendation, and in so doing, good officials will be found on either ticket and party defeat involve no municipal misfortune.

The republicans put a straight ticket in the field, but for once democarts declined to meet the challenge with another and refrained from voting. Seventy-six ballots only were cast and under this one-sided election the new officials chosen were: trustees, C. Beugnot, J. L. Davis, J. W. McKay, J. W. Shaffer and F. Jones; clerk, Jacob A. Smith; treasurer, Joseph Abright; assessor, Wyllys Griswold, and marshal, H. E. Altenberg.

This last named official manfully grappled with the problem of street improvement and gave his attention to grading and graveling portions of Fifth, Seventh and Main streets with a success that won commendation for energy and skill in putting these thoroughfares in good shape and placed him for efficient services far in advance of previous incumbents of the office.

The board record showed a retrogressive course in so far as it ended a repeal of all hog laws as a concession to town owners of swine which were given the freedom of the streets, but by constituting all the physicians of the town a board of health, the laudable intent was shown to reduce, so far as might be possible, the danger from disease, consequent to keeping stock within the corporate limits.

At meetings of the board, the subject of procuring a fire engine was discussed and the need of one, admitted. As a cheap substitute, the Babcock extinguisher was highly commended, but no action was taken. The fire fiend continued to destroy unchecked.

At midnight, Sept. 9, the steam saw mill of Theron A. Clark, located east of the court house, was discovered to be on fire from a cause unknown. An alarm but served to bring out the populace to gaze upon its utter destruction.

Unfortunate in fire losses, involving on this occasion $4,000, Clark was indomitable in spirit and promptly prepared to rebuild on the site east of the Eagle Mills, where in time, he was again burned out, only to continue undismayed his risky business with varying fortune in a neighboring township.

Close following the burning of Clark’s mill, talk was renewed of getting a fire engine, of forming a company and of organizing a hook and ladder company, "whose outfit would cost but little" and supply means of assisting to save property from fire. But frugality dominated prudence, the lessons of costly experience were soon forgotten and Auburn was destined to be scourged time and again before measures for protection would be taken.

Mention has been made of the block of buildings in process of erection on Seventh street north of the public square and of the prosperity which such structures indicated. This block was fated to experience more than common of misfortune. On Sunday, April 6th, in its destruction, owners, business men and the town met with a personal and a public loss. People had, but a short time before, been passing a church, when what was known as the Snyder building gave way and fell with a crash, involving the walls of Ensley’s west building adjoining, in the disaster. Both buildings were demolished. Where had stood handsome walls, there lay a chaotic mass of ruins.

The first division of the Ensley building contained a cellar, whose wall next to the Snyder building, by giving way had precipitated the catastrophe. For hours previously, this inner wall, whether from defective masonry or the presence of quick sand, had been slowly yielding and although the danger grew imminent, the event came sudden and unexpected.

Amidst the throng who gathered to gaze upon the scene, there were heard many expressions of regret and of sympathy for the losers. In addition to the loss of buildings, a large quantity of farm machinery stored in the Snyder building was crushed and ruined and besides, there was a fine stock of harness owned by Messrs. Martin & Peasley and but just placed in the rooms of the second story, which was blended with the broken fragments of the building.

Undaunted by this mischance, Mr. Ensley promptly took measures to remedy defects and insure stability and a third time built his block, the last time to stand firm and permanent.

David Snyder at once commenced clearing away wreckage for the purpose of rebuilding and Auburn citizens in practical sympathy extended a helping hand to further encourage him. The contract for the new building was let in June to Messrs. Galloway & Altenberg, and by September, the firm had executed their work and the enterprising owner soon had a fresh supply of agricultural machinery installed and had begun to recover from his loses, by heavy sales of all classes of farm implements.

I. N. Cool and others, emulating Ensley and Synder, began and completed an additional brick business house along-side of that of the later on the west, and thus there stood as now a continuous block of six store rooms.

In May, following six months of inaction, work was resumed upon the east building known as Odd Fellows’ Hall, and by the last of the month, the brick work was again finished and the handsome structure appeared at last to promise permanent stability.

Justly elated at success under difficulty, the society prepared for the dedication of their building on October 15, when the interesting ceremony was observed in a large attendance of visitors representing eighteen lodges, led by four bands of music. An address was made by A. Marine, of Ft. Wayne, the dedication rites were solemnized by Grand Master P. J. Wise, of the same city, and a grand banquet, elaborate and extensive, closed the impressive proceedings.

The new rooms were promptly occupied. The ground floor was taken by Vordermark & Son, boot and shoe merchants of Ft. Wayne, who thus established at Auburn, a branch store. The second story furnished excellent accommodations for the Courier Office, and lodge rooms of the Odd Fellows were located in the third story.

Meanwhile, new buildings had been going up in various parts of the town. The German Lutheran church had been completed and was dedicated during August. Enos Kuhlman had finished a fine dwelling built in gothic style. Freeman Housel, of Butler township, had put up his two-story brick residence property on South Jackson street. Philip Fluke finished the large brick dwelling on West Seventh street, where he has since resided, and James Draggoo, having bought a block of four lots of the estate of Joseph Robbins, Sr. on South Main street, contracted with H. E. Altenberg, who built for him the two-story brick which has since been his home.

C. C. Shaffer, of whose success as a dealer in furniture, mention has been made, in June laid the foundation of a store building which has been extended rearward as growth of business demanded increase of space. It may be said, also, that Mr. Shaffer after continuous pursuit of his calling for twenty-nine years, during which time fourteen competitors had been compelled to retire from the business in Auburn, signalized 1893, by taking a son Frederick into the partnership under the firm name of C. C. Shaffer & Co.

Along in October the new hotel thrown open to the public became an opportune feature of the town. It challenged comparison in it appointments with any of its class and speedily won high repute as well-kept caravansary.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of it Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 26 Oct 1893)


Dr. Wm. Allen, one of Auburn’s most worthy citizens, came here in 1873 and engaged in the practice of medicine in partnership with Dr. Cowan. The firm in addition to skill in their profession, were alike in an ______ taste which found pleasure in embellishing the home with shrubs and flowers. Dr. Allen purchased the Whittington property on South Main street, and moved the frame building, and on the site erected what is probably the most serviceable as well as substantial brick residence in Auburn, where unostentatiously his years have been passed.

Ezra D. Hartman, returning to DeKalb county from South Bend where he had been temporarily located, came to Auburn and formed a law partnership with James E. rose. This strong firm soon attracted a large clientage and till its dissolution by mutual consent, held a leading position in the courts of the existing judicial circuit.

Among mercantile changes was the purchase of S. W. Sprott & Son of the boot and shoe establishment belong to the estate of C. S. Hare and the sale of Messrs. Wood & Williams of their stock of merchandise in the Case block to Bruce Miller and John Casebeer, fair and square dealing and obliging gentlemen from Hicksville, O.

John L. Davis in the Pioneer Hardware store, in touch with the spirit of progress, increased his stock heavily to keep abreast with growing demands in his line of trade and among other articles received a shipment of three car loads of stoves of superior quality and the use of coal measurably increased until very many homes as well as business houses are so heated and the days of cord wood, as the wood sawyer, are ended.

S. U. Tarney, versatile and enterprising, installed himself the successor of Messrs. Smith & Hare in the conduct of an exclusively grocery business. This was a new departure, a feature of the place and a pioneer in trading on special lines.

Auburn, expanding, had begun to out-grow the miscellaneous and heterogeneous system of store keeping when goods, groceries, boots and shoes, hats, and caps, ready made clothing, drugs and patent medicines were found in the same room in close proximity. Trade prospered, rightly conducted, as interest centered in exclusive sale of some one line, and from then on, branched off till not only a half dozen different establishments found living patronage, but several in the same line, as groceries, shoe, clothing and drug stores, afforded opportunity for choice of dealing to biased customers.

The tavern had ceased to have its bar, the postoffice was no longer kept in a store and religious denominations were fast providing themselves with churches in which to hold their own peculiar services.

Old things, long familiar, were passing away before the march of improvement and there was a tide in the affairs of Auburn, which led towards a continuous good fortune. The old tan yard, where is now the Madden Brother’s, Marble Works, was distined to become a thing of the past. The vats were filled and all that was left to denote the early industry of Philip Fluke, the Auburn pioneer tanner, was a mound of decaying tanbark and a few time worn sleds.

The assessment of Auburn, unreliable as such returns are, still gave unmistakable evidence of increasing wealth. The value of unimproved incorporate lands was placed at $5,975, of lots, $67,141, of improvement, $101,404, and the value of personal property was given at $140,964, thus making a total of $315,484. The total of taxes assessed on this valuation was $5,692 89.

Complaint was justly made by those desiring to buy property, of excessive and reasonable prices, not only for lots in new additions, but throughout the corporation. This, to some extent, checked improvements, and the scarcity of houses was such that parties unable to find homes were deterred from remaining.

Property on Main street, later sold for $1,200, would, in 1873 have readily brought $1,500 to $1,800. The number of polls, or men between 25 and 50 years of age, was 241 and an idea of the growth of population is shown by comparison of school enumeration of 1872 with 1873, when 234 was increased to 347, or nearly 50 per cent.

As the close of the year approached, T. C. Mays, his enthusiasm kindled as he wrote, in the full blaze of his peroration said: "It is safe to assert than the growth of Auburn during the past year, in the matter of good and substantial dwellings an business houses and increase of permanent population, greatly exceeds that of any year in its history. Let industries be encouraged until the clatter of machinery is heard in every direction and our people are sending wares of their own make to every part of the land."

We have spoken of W. A. Lowry as a town officer, a contractor and a good citizen. During the fall of 1873, business took him to Delphi, Indiana, near which city he was drowned while attempting to drive through a canal that intersected the public road. His body was brought to Auburn for burial and his funeral was the largest hitherto known to the town.

The Rev. Cone, of the M. E. church preached with pathos and eloquence, and deep sympathy for the family was felt by the community. He was buried with masonic rites by the lodge of which he was an honored member, in the Evergreen cemetery.

On Dec. 9, a sensation was caused by the escape from the old and often condemned county jail, of two prisoners, John Sponogle and Joseph Plunkett, who had been arrested on charge of having stolen goods from cars of the Eel River railroad and whose trial was close at hand. With a bit or auger, somehow provided, they had bored holed through a cell floor and from the basement easily made way through the walls of the foundation and got away. A reward of $100 for their apprehension was offered to no effect and the community was well rid of keeping them and spared the expense of their trial.

No blame was attached to Mr. Meese, who more fortunate than Mr. Plum, his predecessor, was not subjected to an assault, and the event emphasized necessity of provided for more secure confinement of criminals.

Music is a characteristic feature of all celebrations, festivities and public occasions, and not only were the martial and brass bands in the Northern army during the great civil war, no inconsiderable force of themselves, but at the present they number many thousands of our population.

The band is a luxury in country, town and city—an expensive luxury especially to its members without patrons. However complete its organization, its unity is essentially short lived for the young men who compose it rarely all remain long together, and the admission of recruits requires now outfit, instruction and consequent outlay. For this reason, Auburn has had several fine bands which after brief existence have dissolved to be in due time reorganized or formed from new material.

What was in 1873 known as the Auburn Silver Cornet Band, was constituted of thirteen members. They took pride in their equipment and liberally contributed to purchase good instruments and serviceable uniforms. The former were provided at a cost of $443, the latter $450, while sheet music and tuition involved a further outlay of $250, making a total of $1,143. Computing time passed in practice, and the love of the art and the pride of locality are seen to have influenced the player far more than any hope of gain.

The names of this band of 1873 were, F. Palmer, O. Shaffer, F. Culbertson, J. Abright, J. Spake, F. Coder, C. Brown, J. A. Smith, M. F. Long, T. H. Leasure, H. Wolf and C. Moore and their leader was J. W. McKay. Of this band, excellent during its existence, but two McKay and Wolf, are twenty years later town residents.

When the time came around for the observance of what is now known as Memorial Day, inquiry was made as to whether any deceased soldiers had been buried in the Auburn cemeteries that the beautiful and patriotic custom of memorial services might be observed and that a proper respect be shown the fallen by a decoration of graves with flowers and flag.

Report was made that here were few soldiers buried in them, and it was thought best to make no public demonstration, but the inquiry was the initiatory movement that in all these later years has become a marked feature in Auburn. Though few veterans then rested in the cemeteries, it is not so now, and the number of the dead exceeds that of the living, who annually meet and march to perform the simple rites of decoration.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens.

(Re: Auburn Courier – 2 Nov 1893)


In the matter of banking, as in the provision of fire apparatus, the town of Waterloo became the pioneer in DeKalb county, to be outdone in the time by Auburn as it increased in wealth and business.

In May, 1873, W. C. Langan, of Lima O., became formerly associated with O. T. Clark, J. I. Best and C. A. O. McClellan, of Waterloo, for the purpose of doing a general banking business in that place, under the name of DeKalb County Bank. On July 24, their safe, weighing 14,000 pounds, arrived from the manufactory of Diebold, Kienzle & Co., of Cincinnati O., and was placed in the office located in the south side of what was known as the Clark building, north of the Lake Shore railroad crossing.

The capital of its early bank was placed at $50,000. Mr. Langan became the cashier and business manager of the bank and the enterprise gave much satisfaction to the public.

For a brief period, beginning early in the year, Auburn presented the anomaly of having only one saloon. Probably not another county-seat in the state could have made so good a showing; but as the season wore on, this gratifying prospect faded away so that in the following fall, intoxication had become more prevalent than ever before and many drunken men lay around the streets in a helpless condition.

The transient population engaged in building the railroads were charged with this offense that made children fearful, the streets unsafe and militated against the good name of the town. But it was also attributable to the pendulum swing to an opposite extreme from local prohibition and emphasized the truism that all moral growth must be natural and must follow, not precede, the potent influence of public opinion.

While deteriorating forces were active and largely unchecked, the remedial powers of education and religion were becoming stronger and becoming systematized. At a meeting of the County Board of Education held at Waterloo on Sept. 1, under the conduct of Supt. Barns, a progressive step was embodied in the resolution that, "No teacher be allowed to introduce any new text book into any school in DeKalb county except such as have been adopted by proper action of the County Board."

On motion of Mr. Griswold, of Auburn, McGuffey’s new readers were adopted by a vote of 17 to 2. Cornell’s and the Eclectic Geographies were rejected and McNally’s series were substituted. Harvey’s Grammar was selected and Wright’s Orthography was adopted unanimously. By this official course, the trustees protected the schools for the exercise of unwarranted and pernicious powers and, reducing the number, increased the size of classes, greatly to the advantage of teacher and pupils.

The spring term of the Auburn schools closed satisfactorily and the prospects for the fall were unusually promising when a new school board was chosen, consisting of the veteran Wyllsy Griswold, Albert Totten and J. J. Wood, the last two fresh arrivals. Mr. Wood had hoped to secure the services of Prof. H. S. Lehr, of a normal school located at Ada, Ohio. For the conduct of the fall term of the Auburn Academy, but being disappointed in this, the board promoted his intended assistant, A. R. Hoffman, to the position of Principal at the then high salary of $5 a day for a term of twelve weeks.

The board of trustees thoroughly repaired and refitted the school house of the comfort and convenience of pupils and engaged as assistant teachers, Mollie Schoonover, Hattie L. Griswold and Mattie Miller, for the grammar, intermediate and primary departments.

The new corps of teachers began work September 1, under a lengthy code of rules that, despite friction consequent to tardiness, resulted well. There existed a great disparity of enrollment in the different rooms disproportionate to the remuneration of the teachers. In the High School were 44; Grammar, 89; intermediate, 81 and Primary, 108.

A new school law provided that when a petition had been signed by twenty-five or more persons who desired German taught in a common school, the trustees should hire a teacher. Such a petition was presented to the Auburn school board, who thereupon agreed with an A. B. Cluckner, whose further duties were defined as those of a janitor. There were but five pupils who studied German and it appears that a sense of inconsistency in hiring a teacher of a foreign language for these few in an American public school found expression in the resolution that, "Whereas, and English education is of paramount importance, no study other than English will be permitted in other than the higher grades."

Prof. Hoffman and his lady assistants proved excellent teachers and all were retained for the regular terms, during which they so devoted themselves to their high calling, that progress was made certain and their protracted and harmonious conduct of respective parts of school work left nothing to be desired but ample accommodations for the increasing numbers consequent upon town growth.

In the various churches; temporal activity indicated spiritual interest. Under the lead of Rev. Cone, the Methodists held a successful protracted meeting and during April, the Rev. T.E. Fisher, a man pleasing and interesting in manner and matter of speech, attracted large congregations to the Presbyterian church and this brought about his intentions as its minister.

Another church reinforced in numbers by the increasing population of Auburn now came prominently into notice. The society of German Methodists had an unorganized existence in the town from a comparatively early date. Ministers of this denomination held services at private houses on such occasions as brought them to this neighborhood, but paucity of numbers precluded attempt of forming a society. Probably Rev. John Schnieder was the pioneer preacher in this locality.

On Nov. 1, 1858, Rev. F. Ruff organized what is known as the Kendallville circuit of which Auburn was, and still is, and appointment, although preaching was at first at a point north of the town. This minister, who is recognized as the founder of the Auburn society, served for two years acceptably. The original membership consisted of George and Catharine Eckhart, Herman and Eva Froelich, Elizabeth Pullman, John and Caroline Raesch, John and Fredericka Steffin, F. Raut Sr., Charles Raut, Jr., Maria and Charlotte Raut.

The first officers chosen were George Froelich, Exhorter and George Eckhart, Steward, no trustees to make official existence were elected until about twelve years later.

The immediate successors of Rev. Ruff were, A. Gerlach 1860-’62, J. C. Weidman 1861-’64, G. Schwinn 1863-’67, C. A. Militzer 1867-’69, Henry Krill 1869-’71, and A. Meyer 1871-’74.

Then from 1871, there were generally assistant preachers sent on the Kendallville circuit, who mostly lived at Auburn. Joseph Kern was the first of these. He was followed by G. Weiler, of Ft. Wayne, succeeded by J. Lamprecht, who remained two years and co-operated with Rev. Meyer to establish the church upon a strong and enduring basis. These ministers conducted a protracted meeting in 1872, which brought about a revival and ten conversions. The Sunday school was organized this year and continued till 1880, when it was closed for a number of years.

Encouraged by increasing numbers and mindful of the advantages derived from a place of worship, the society, in 1874, considered the question of a church lot and building. To secure the former, a committee of three persons was appointed on May 25th. The committee, consisting of Frederick Raut, Charles Raut and John Raesch, chose lot 4, O. P., upon which the church and parsonage now stand.

Five members had meanwhile been elected by the quarterly conference at Kendallville as trustees of Emanuel M. E. church, viz: F. Raut, C. Raut, J. Raesch, H. Wartensleben and John B. Lobmiller. These parties, Aug 24, bought of Andrew Magee, of Noble county, the lot selected, paying for the same $250, and promptly took measure to the erection thereon of a frame meeting house.

Work began and was carried forward to completion when the church was dedicated by Rev. Roberts, of Ft. Wayne. A report was made that the cost of the building was $2,749. There had been collected, $1,780. There remained $862 of subscription, having a deficit of $200, which was provided by the Church Extension Society of the Central German Conference.

The building was later supplied with a fine bell, and in 1892 a neat parsonage was built at a cost of $1.400.

Successive ministers with date of service have been as follows: John Bodmer, 1874-6; William Mueller, 1876-9; H. Buddenbaur, 1879-81; A. Gerlich, returned , 1881-2; J. C. Gommel. 1882-5; J. H. Schimmelpfing, 1885-6; John Haas 1886-91; H. Rogatsky, 1891, incumbent.

The assistant and resident ministers for the same time have been as follows: G. Treuschel, William Conzelmann, W. Hamp, G. Moehring, C. Henke, S. P. Spechman, A. C. Baur, D. Dobbick, W. Rogetzby, and C. B. Koch in charge.

The church experienced a revival in 1879, during the pastorate of Rev. Mueller and Conzelmann, resulting in fifteen conversions. But in general a few were brought in every year who filled the places of those who died or moved away.

The Sunday school was reorganized in1890 by Rev. Dobbick and continues to be an aid to the church. The present superintendent is Henry Schamberg. The number of scholars is twenty and officers eight. The church has thirty members, besides several on probation. Although the congregation is small, they are doing a good work for the Lord; their field of labor among the German citizens of Auburn is extensive and their prospects of success are promising.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 9 Nov 1893


Auburn in 1874 had established a reputation as a place of growing importance. Its inherent and lately acquired advantages had become somewhat known and it had entered upon a new life which offered inducements to people of two classes—those seriously desirous of bettering their condition and correspondingly helping the town and those who sought by speculative projects solely to enrich themselves.

Slowly, yet surely the metropolis of the county in theory, had begun to gain upon its old-time rival and become the metropolis in fact. Its advances, owing to the efforts of the classes named, for the fires and only time in its history, went beyond safety and partook of a boom character and so marked a brief period of spasmodic effort and unwholesome enterprise. This was exhibited in building for prospective tenants and platting unrequired additions. As a result, landlords sought and, not always found paying tenants; the later dictated rents, sales became exceptional, and what were intended for occupied lots reverted to fields of cultivation.

There was strong, unwavering faith in Auburn’s future, and this firm confidence largely enhanced credit. When the school enumeration was taken in May by Wyllys Griswold, the census of the town, as accurately reported by him, was 1,611 persons—an increase well calculated to fill the popular mind with gratification and renewed hopefulness.

At this time there did exist a demand for building lots for homes and for business sites, and there were numerous persons who desired to purchase both improved and unimproved property. Forty houses were in course of erection in the month of May, and towards the close of the year, the north part of town had taken the lead in building. Many houses received additions and thirty-one new residences were under headway.

A number of well-to-do farmers moved in and others were preparing to follow their example. Auburn has ever presented many attractions as a home of the worthy class, who, feeling the infirmities of advanced age, long for rest and society.

Opportunities were presented to gratify inclination when on each Saturday the street was thronged with old neighbors come to enjoy a weekly half holiday and do their trading at store and grocery; when court sessions bring together juries, witnesses and interested friends from all parts of the county, and when occasions like Old Settler’s Day, Four of July , a big circus, or a political demonstration bring together beneath the shade of the court house park, men, women and young people by thousands.

As an indication of the extent to which pioneer farmers had, in 1874, located in Auburn, an actual count gave fifty-two persons who had then made this their permanent residence.

Enterprise rightly directed reaped fitting reward. Some sought work at trade and some at manual labor; some looked for homes and there were those intent and on the lookout for, chances of speedy gain.

The town filled up its vacant places and expanded its limits. J. Rainier laid out an addition of forty lots at the north end and placed them on the real estate market at reasonable prices; Brandt and Ashley platted additions to the west, north of present school grounds, and Ensley and Stamets did the same to the south, to make rapid and remunerative sales.

Under the stimulus of active demand, prices of real estate within the corporation greatly advanced and some eligible properties had more than doubled in value. The question was not "What will you give?" Had the owners of lots and lands who were unable or not desirous of building upon them, been willing to sell to those who were able and anxious to erect houses and blocks, they would have realized more than their property was worth, and the town of Auburn would have soon borne a different aspect.

But there were a few who would not sell unless for a ransom, and the years passing, they have lived to regret a lost opportunity. For years, vacant lots on which stood dilapidated houses surrounded by fruit trees or devoid of vegetation, located upon our principal streets, were interspersed among well improved properties and lingered long to illustrate backward tendencies, in the most progressive communities.

Some owners of farm land contiguous to the corporation refused extravagant offers and would be manufacturers were driven to seek sites for plants elsewhere.

The tide in the affairs of Auburn had come, but in some vital points it was not taken at its flood and it lost much that would in turn have secured more and given the town a prestige and a standing that would, at least, have advanced its growth and reputation far beyond even its present enviable and substantial position. All honor to those who improved the ripe opportunity and materially contributed to insure their own prosperity and made possible and the progression that had placed Auburn among the leading towns of Northern Indiana.

With laps of years, changes of sentiment have transpired relative to some of the minor matters which serve to show personal taste and public preference.

It was with extreme difficulty that reluctant lot owners could be induce to build even a four-foot oak sidewalk the length of their lots, and it was deemed a subject of congratulation when a pine board, six foot walk was added to the improved walks of the town. All sorts of expedients were resorted to in the line of economy. Walks were patched, boards were reversed, and strips nailed to secure loose boards, but the town narrowly escaped suit for damages for injuries occasioned by defective walks. Then came a party who advocated a tar walk, and the air was thick with the fumes of the material prepared for the purpose. Dr. Allen, D. D. Moody, Yesbea, Ralston and many others gave this material a trial, but all gave way in beauty and permanence to the cement walks now so numerous and which are a pleasure to the pedestrian and an advertisement of the town to the many strangers who travel them to and from the railroad stations.

It was popular in 1874 to have property enclosed, and not only fenced, but with material in keeping with the new life of the town. There was more fence building this year of which we write than there had been at any previous season and favorable public notice stimulated laudable competition.

One of the neatest fences was built by J. W. Shaffer on South Main street, J. H. Ford put up a fine, durable iron fence before his uptown residence, and Messrs. Beugnot, Berry, Snyder and Eldridge followed his example with costly iron fences at later periods. Attention was attracted to the neglected condition of the new cemetery and by the contribution of many, a fine iron fence intended to protect and ornament the grounds was put up a few years ago.

The law mower had not been invented save in cumbrous form and the scythe was relied upon to remove the growth of grasses. With improved machines cheapened by competition, grass plats from private ownership to courtyard have been kept in order, and even the street, as in the case of Eldridge and Bowers, has been included in personal supervision.

It was in 1886, that a spirit of fence removal pervaded the people, and this cheap, economical improvement has done away with many a time worn, dilapidated fence and contributed to the better look of property.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 16 Nov 1893)


A writer of Auburn during the summer of 1874: "Few towns in the west have shown during the past three years so rapid a growth upon such a healthy and substantial basis. Blocks, residences and manufactories speak of her prosperity in no uncertain terms. Thrift and enterprise prevail and church privileges and educational facilities attract the most desirable class of population. The beautiful site and healthy atmosphere alike recommended the place as a home, not only for merchants, manufacturers, business and professional men, but for those who might wish to retire from the cares of active life."

He spoke truthfully. Business was large for an inland town, a business not speculative but based upon popular demand, supported by home-made capital, the fruit of care and toil, of economy and forethought. The townspeople were loyal to their leaders and proud of their newly acquired interests. They saw, with pleasure, freights increasing and passenger traffic picking up on the Eel River road and thought of this last as of one in which each had a personal interest. And not Auburn alone, but our sister town of Butler felt the healthy stimulus of the new railroad which brought fresh life and activity in its trains.

Long had Butler but escaped its ups and downs; long had her citizens, like those of Auburn, watched and waited and worked for the promised day, and now it had come and the town grew out of its long known embarrassments to take its stand to the front in its now favorable prospects and its evident ability to meet in full the exacting demands of a cautious and conservative public.

With spring, the work of constructing the Baltimore & Ohio extension was resumed and prosecuted with unwonted vigor. Along in April, full sixty-two carloads of material, ties and rails were transported over the Eel River line to Auburn Junction. Enough track had been laid to admit of cars being run thereon and track laying eastward commenced, while a strong force of bridge builders just west were also busy at work.

A village in Concord township was laid out just west of the point where the railroad crossed the Saint Joe River, and the attention attracted thither augured will for the success of the enterprising proprietors, John and Jacob D. Leighty. Among the first improvements was a hotel erected by William Leighty. Store buildings followed and this speedily became an important shipping point.

In 1879, J. D. Leighty put up the first brick building, since which time, many others have been erected, churches have been built and a fine school house upon well chosen grounds provided for the school going population. Steadily the village has increased and expanded till the inhabitants deemed themselves of sufficient numbers and importance to warrant their incorporation as the Town of St. Joe, but thus far they have failed in their application through to extended an area to the proposed corporation. Framers object to being made unwilling townspeople.

Mr. Haveland, the contractor for building eight miles of railroad had the grading done during May; and track laying began at the Junction where iron had been accumulated, and from there eastward, was busily carried on. The Sheets bridge over Cedar Creek had been finished by the last of April and a heavy force was engaged on bridges all along the route.

By the last of May, the railroad had been completed from the Junction east to the river and Jacob Stamets had platted ground south of Auburn, north of the track and was prepared to let the contract for the erection of a hotel convenient to the depot for accommodation of travelers. All was going well and auspicious for a South Auburn of now small extent. The railroad company put up a water tank and an elevator eastward of the highway leading to Fort Wayne and had built a depot westward of the same road.

These concessions to Auburn at Sheets Crossing presaged a crisis in the history of the town. The Eel River Company made a proposition to locate shops at this place and the Baltimore & Ohio Company negotiated to acquire land at the site of their elevator and depot.

Unfortunately for us, both projects failed, as other considerations entered into the question and carried these improvements elsewhere. It was understood that Messrs. Sheets and Stamets had offered the B & O company five acres for shop sites. The former placed his land at a high price, the latter gentleman cheerfully offered his two acres as a donation and, if full faith of its acceptance went on with the work of building his hotel. Which stood solitary and vacant like a Kansas High School building in a boom-killed town, till some chance of retrieving a part of the loss was presented at Auburn Junction, whither it was removed and now does serviceable duty as the Hotel Brunswick.

Vice President Keyser wished Auburn to grade and tie a side track at the crossing, but in view of the road’s location so far south after our people had given $1,000 for a survey that would have come west to look over the ground, but the company had the matter well in hand.

Trains stopped at "Garrett City" for refreshments, but the city was yet to be and the view to the visitor was wild and discouraging. Several cars had been placed alongside the track and served for a dining hall until one could be constructed.

In time the depot, tank and elevator were removed from Sheets’ Crossing and whatever chances Auburn might have had to become a railroad city were dissolved in the wonderful and mirage like rise and growth of what in 1893 had become the most populous place in DeKalb county and had taken advanced ground as a city in fact.

The railroads were now realities. Their construction had promised much for Auburn and her advantages from them have been weighty and permanent. They furnished easy and speedy communication to all parts of the county and the country. They presented a choice of routes and they placed the business man, the manufacturer and the farmer in touch with other towns and gave the latter a choice of markets.

The three lines intersected a mile southwest of Auburn, at which point a flourishing village has grown up and to which from the south end of Van Buren street a fine avenue extends which will ere long be built all along its extent and unite the suburb to the corporation, as was the intention of those who laid it out.

The rapid growth of what is known as "Gastown," eastward of Cedar Creek, has this season been only equaled by that to the southwest in Sprott’s Addition, and the Junction, and unpromising swampy tract in 1874, now bids fair to soon become a village of considerable importance from its factories and convenience in shipping products.

A very important consequence of railroad construction apart from transportation had been the bearing upon the subject of taxation.

The extent to which those corporations contribute to the local and state treasuries is not generally known and the information drawn from the Auditor’s duplicates must come in the nature of a pleasant surprise and serve to greatly modify the antagonism felt by many toward them.

The semi annual payment of drafts for thousands of dollars of the railroad taxes had long brought direct and powerful and to our local government to enable them to meet current obligations.

The Lake Shore formerly paid for the year in the spring, but of late the high rate of valuation has seemed to the railroad excessive and they have not only not paid in full at once, but have paid a part under protest and suffered the rest to go delinquent pending a decision upon the constitutionality of the assessment.

This assessment increased the taxable property of DeKalb county to such an extent that the annual railroad taxes paid into the treasury of this county for the year 1892 was not far from THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 23 Nov 1893)


The finances of Auburn in 1874 were as they now are, a matter of grave local importance in their influence upon the town’s credit and the means of ability to make improvements. A consolidated statement for the fiscal year ending May 1, presented the following suggestive summary of indebtedness:

Salaries, $113.16; sidewalk crossings, $677.68; street work, $235.31; surveying, $111.00; ditches and gutters, $751.57; marshal’s tax fees, $118.19; other items, $482.32, total allowances, $2,507.19. Bonds for school grounds, $2,500, and outstanding town orders dating back through four years, $1.865.00.

This expenditure was heavy without precedent in the history of the town, but there were those who deemed improvements imperative regardless of increasing debt and shortened credit.

From and before its incorporation, Auburn had never been out of debt. In common with most towns an cities, the demands upon her treasury have ever exceeded ability to provide ready means of payment. Issues of orders and bonds have been a common and costly expedient and a check upon progress. In 1874, the credit of the town had fallen very low and the commercial value of municipal warrants was but eighty per cent of their face value. To compensate for this pervious approach to insolvency, there was little to show. No enterprise had been perfected and no solid gains were apparent.

The report was relief, for there had been neglect in publication of the condition of the treasury and rumor had grossly exaggerated the amount of orders outstanding and "not paid for want of funds."

It had been well if, like Patrick Henry, we could have been guided by the light of experience and judged the future by the past, but popular desire, skillfully gratified, had illuminated silent streets during hours of sleep to be paid at the price of ever increasing and oppressive taxation.

The town marshal of that day set and example which, for some reason, has not been emulated by his successors, in making a report which, with the town’s great increase of population, shows the opportunity offered for private peculation where no charges are made and no accounting rendered. An honest marshal would not object and a dishonest one dare not, to a strict accountability for this employment of men working poll tax. The report in question gave 180 polls worked, 6 exempts and taxes collected, $1,437.51; sidewalks, $77.96; licenses, $43.75; total collections $1,559.22.

In Auburn and DeKalb county, as well as throughout the country, a monetary stringency similar to, but not as formidable as the of 1893, prevailed and the demand for funds was felt from town centers to the isolated farm house. Barely in approximate idea of popular necessity may be suggested by brief reference to that annual report of the county recorder. The official had placed upon his books a record of real estate mortgages amounting to $376,531.00. During the year, $163,325.00 had been paid and the remainder had gone to swell the huge aggregate of individual indebtedness previously existing. Chattel mortgages became noticeable and reached the sum of $13,875. Mechanic’s liens amounted to $2,612.00, and as showing activity in real estate, voluntary transfers have been made to the extent of $800,000.00.

For comparison, we present an extract from the report of Samuel Willis, present recorder, to the state statistician for the year ending May 31, 1893. It is a large showing and is as follows: The number of deeds of all kinds recorded $768,866.00, and the total of mortgages was 1,039, for which $485,777.00 was given.

The writer hoped to be able to state the present indebtedness of the "people" of the county, but found that task to difficult, but some ideas of its extent may be surmised in the fact that $100.000.00 is owing on 6 per cent school funds and another $100,000.00, all payable in gold coin to a single capitalist.

During a very brief period of this year (1874), the county was out of debt and all claims were paid on presentation of orders. Nicholas Ensley was the treasurer fortunate enough in being the official at this exceptional time. The occasion was deemed opportune to bring forward the subject of providing a new jail in consonance with the needs and progress of the community.

To this end, the commissioners met in special session Oct. 20, to inspect plans submitted by T. J. Tolan, of Delphos. O. These plans is style and convenience, exterior and interior, were regarded as possessing superior merit an found favor with the board.

It is to be remarked that the building of the jail and the sheriff’s residence therewith connected, from the plan and provision of means to its completion and acceptance, was consummated strictly on contract lines and without unnecessary expense.

The residence part of the planned to be 88 by 74 feet, two stories high, of brick upon stone wall and to be crowned by a mansard roof. It was to contain fourteen cells in two tiers, with four distinct departments. There was to be an apparatus for opening and closing cells without need of entering the jail. The building was to be heated by steam and was to cost $30,000.00.

It was not intended to do more than advertise and let the contract before the spring of 1875, although much of the material could be placed upon the ground during the winter and the work was expected to be finished by Oct. 1, ’75.

In the only printed report seen by the writer of the names and ages of inmates of the County Asylum, there appear the names of Nancy Craig aged 23, Chauncey Coburn, 45 and Frederick Shaffer, 50. The last named died in ’92 and the others are all that remain a score of years later of twenty-two unfortunates who, in 1874, were in public charge.

They have seen Miller, Wyatt, Pattee, Rummel, Glazier and Bartels come and go, while they have become familiar with and grown old in the poor house. It seems a hard fate that the sole provision made by law for people who are worn out by sickness or a life of labor, should be to assort them with the lunatic and idiotic and thus bring such shame upon them that it is to the sensitive as terrible as death.

Prudence Ritter, aged, mild, intone and demeanor, a lady, might stand for "Mother of the Poorhouse." The years pass without complaint or leave of absence, and resignation to rigid necessity, but no son returning from Colorado’s mines has she to take her back to her earlier home in the pleasant and beautiful fields of old Virginia. She, like others, will by and by drop off, unnoticed and unknown, "only a pauper whom nobody owns."

The vote of DeKalb county at the election held Oct. 13, 1874, presented the not infrequent anomaly of republican success in the face of a democratic majority of electors. Taking the vote as cast for the office of Secretary of State as a criterion of party strength, the democratic majority in the county was 62.

The vote on county ticket, republican candidates first named, was as follows:

For Representative

John Taylor


Miles Waterman


For clerk

George H. K. Moss


Lewis D. Britton


For Sheriff

William L. Meese


John Treesh


For Auditor

Isaac Hague


Wm. McIntyre


For Treasurer

N. Ensley


D. H. Murray


For Commissioner

Henry Hood


George H. Duncan


This summary is of interest in its presentation of popular preference rising above the strong grounds of common partisanship. The election of Mr. Waterman by a single, but not unchallenged, vote was a tribute to the high character of Mr. Taylor, as was that of Mr. Moss, a young and promising attorney at Butler, in his contest for the clerkship with so able and veteran an opponent as Mr. Britton.

Mr. Moss became a resident of Auburn, occupying the Hall property, now the home of his widow and her parents, and at once was recognized as a most desirable citizen. His business system applied to his new position was a convenience to all who had interests in this court.

Wm. L. Meese, during his first term had developed a marvelous popularity as shows by his lead over Mr. Treesh, who was not thereby prevented from locating in Auburn, whose citizens utilized him successive terms as marshal and are largely indebted to his labor for the extent and perfection of their cement walks.

Mr. Meese, at the conclusion of this term blended ministerial with other labors and is an ever welcome guest at marriage festivities and the trusty friend of the sorrowful in the presence of the dread visitor.

No dissatisfaction with the conduct of the office defeated Mr. McIntyre, but the potent operation of an written law prescribing four years as the term limit for an incumbent of the lucrative position of Auditor.

Isaac Hague, who has been in public life more or less since his term as auditor, illustrated family succession to the same office his father had held in the earlier history of the county. On expiration of term he took and interest in the First National Bank, and identified himself as a citizen and business man with the fortunes of the town.

The election of Mr. Ensley over Mr. Murray who was in all respects unexceptional and most capable, was a high compliment to his unsurpassed conduct of the county treasury. Holding public office to be a public trust, he never hesitated on occasion to pay out the last dollar to redeem and order, and his funding of jail bonds was marked by such sound business principles as have been illustrated in a striking degree in the swift and accurate disbursement of millions of dollars in pensions to the invalid veterans of the civil war.

The immediate and remote results of this election have been of lasting benefit to Auburn in the accession of valuable townsmen, whose personal standing and business activity have reflected credit upon themselves and the municipality.

The town election held in May went democratic by an average majority of thirty-four. This revulsion of sentiment was partly caused by dissatisfaction with expenditure an growing indebtedness and by a desire for a change that might be for the better. The new trustees were J. Walborn. F. D. Ryan, T. D. Gross, E. E. Williams and D. Z. Hoffman, F. E. Davenport was chosen clerk, J. R. Lanning, treasurer and W. Baughn, assessor.

A public spirited by fruitless effort had been made by the former board to provide for the town some protection against fire. Early in February, John L. Davis and Joseph W. McKay, members of the board, were sent as a committee to Laporte, Indiana, to see about the purchase of a fire engine and a hose cart. They brought back a favorable report, having found a hand engine in good, serviceable condition and a hose cart, one of the finest in the country. The proposition to buy this outfit was brought before the public, since the names of property holders representing five-eighths of their valuation of town property, was a legal requirement to a petition asking a special fire tax of 25c pre $100 for two years with which to pay for the purchase.

Although the entire expense of engine, cart and five hundred ten feet of hose would have been but $1,200, neither economy nor prudence were considered; trifling objections were raised, such as that some localities, notable Main street, would be especially advantaged and, strange to say, the petition lacked the requisite number of signatures and, unfortunately for the best interests of Auburn, the opportunity was allowed to pass unimproved.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 30 Nov 1893)


For the first time in her history, what is known as a "write up" was published in a number of the COURIER. Its mercenary and partial character detracted largely from its value. The eulogistic terms employed in expressing paid for flattery were more injurious than useful, and a scrutiny of the fulsome matter, revels its worthlessness.

Such business as Auburn had was still in a flourishing condition. The hub and spoke factory employed twenty-five men and turned out eighty set of hubs and seven thousands spokes daily. Their pay roll amounted to $900 a day. John Casebeer was its superintendent, E. E. Williams, purchaser of material, and Ira Crow, engineer.

The stave factory worked thirty-five hands, required 5,000 cords of bolts for a year’s stock, had on hand over one million staves, paid out in a single day $1,150, and found ready sale at handsome profit for all its products. Theron Clark had recovered form his loss by fire and was operating a fine saw mill in the low ground east of Eagle Mills to good advantage.

Conscious of power if united and impatient of the subordinate position assigned them in the matter of produce sales and supply purchases, the farmers throughout the country began to organized what has since been familiarly known as the Grange movement.

The growth was wonderful and the enthusiasm was unbounded. The movement spread like wildfire. Granges were formed in every township, councils in each county, and were given direction and force by State and National Granges.

Interest was increased by gatherings, where oratory was succeeded by abundant refreshments of food; and entire families gave the day to enjoyment with the deeper object of consolidating their power. Middlemen were deemed superfluous and steps were taken by appointment of purchasing agents and stocking of grange stores, to buy supplies at approximate wholesale prices.

Along in February, 1874, the impulse made itself known in DeKalb county. On the 17th, a grange was constituted at the Husselman school house with R. N. Crooks, Master; S. Kutzner, Secretary; W. Lessig, Overseer; C. W. Scattergood, Lecturer; J. C. St. Clair, Treasurer, R. S. S. Reed , Steward and Mrs. Reed, Assistant Steward.

Smithfield farmers organized on the10th, electing F. Kelley, M; E. R. Shoemaker, Ass’t. M.; S. B. Mottinger, Sec; J. Hemstreet, Lecturer; and Henry Hood Treasurer. Four days later, Jackson Grange was formed with John Cool, M.; Jas. McClellan, Ass’t M.; J. G. Lawhead, Sec.; M. Owens, Treas. In as rapid succession, others followed, till the territory was fully occupied.

A county council of Patrons of Husbandry was organized May 8th in Grangers’ Hall, Waterloo, by delegates from subordinate granges. At this council, R. N. Crooks was chosen president; Ephraim Boyle, vice-pres.; M. Waterman, sec.; F. Kelley, treas.; and J. G. Lawhead, door-keeper. The board of trustees was A. D. Moore, John Lowe and Hugh Nelson. Messrs. Reed, Moore and Shoemaker were appointed a committee to elect a purchasing agent, and the objects of the order were stated to be the welfare of the farmer and to "bring producer and consumer together to the exclusion of the middleman."

A grand picnic gathering was held at Auburn in September at which a procession a mile long paraded through the town. It was led by the Hicksville bank and represented all lodges in the county. Exercises were held in the bottom east of town and the principal speaker was James Buchanan, of Indianapolis.

The up heaval, like a phenomenal tidal wave, rose and fell and the granges soon stranded, went out of existence after a brief but brilliant and suggestive career. It taught farmers their strength and encouraged them to persevere till again, in 1892, as populists, their political strength was displayed in formidable gatherings at the county seat and a fairly strong vote at the following election.

During this same year, another movement, know as the Women’s Crusade, swept over the land. It was directed against the saloon. At Waterloo prominent ladies took an active part to good purpose, and in Auburn, a temperance league was formed during the spring, not for the purpose of visiting the saloons to induce their closure, but to combine influence against traffic in liquors. No demonstrations were made, although licenses were got with difficulty. While popular antipathy to the saloon has deepened and extended and screened windows proclaim them under a ban, yet temperance people of Auburn have become disheartened and the saloons of the town give the Keeley Institute more reformative work that it can well accomplish.

There was, as yet, no bank in Auburn, but the time had arrived when such an institution had become a necessity. There were citizens willing and with capital enough to engage in banking, but they had no experience, and, distrusting their own ability, they invited the coming of some one to take the initiative.

On March 2, two men named Riley and Mots from Wabash visited Auburn to look over the ground preparatory to establishing a bank. The need was evident of a medium to facilitate business transactions and by secured deposits to find employment for other wise idle currency. They met several citizens at the Swineford House, to whom they expressed themselves well pleased with the location and their proposals met unqualified encouragement.

All seemed favorable and the front part of the Cool building was engaged for an office. It was intended to commence business within a month with a capital of $50,000, of which Auburn people were to have furnished two-fifths. Nothing was done and, save several futile assurances, the subject lapsed till near the close of the year, when George Hazzard, a stranger from New Castle, this state, made his appearance and, renewing the subject of a bank speedily won the confidence of our people.

He proposed to open a bank here with a capital of $50,000, to which he asked citizens to subscribe stock to the amount of $15,000. This was promptly taken and arrangements were made to bring about a speedy organization. The question was debated whether the institution should be known as State or National. The latter was supposed to be most profitable to stockholders, but the former was most favorably regarded by the people.

The decision was in favor of a National bank, and on Dec. 19, 1874, the First National Bank of Auburn, Indiana, was organized by electing a board of directors consisting of Nicholas Ensley, Wm. McIntyre and Orrin C. Clark of Auburn and George and James Hazzard, of New Castle.

A small framed building on Seventh street just west of the present Farmers Bank block was occupied; a ponderous and strong safe was procured and put in place and James V. Hazzard, the younger of the brothers, was installed as cashier. Deposits were at once received, United States bonds were purchased and deposited in the National treasury. Sheets of crisp now national bank notes in denomination of fives arrived from Washington and being signed, their issue commenced and business opened auspiciously. The Hazzards enjoyed the fullest confidence of our people and were regarded as benefactors to the town. The entire community as a matter of pride and convenience rejoiced that, at last, banking facilities and accommodation could be had at home.

The important subject of education began to attract special attention from the rapid increase in population which required additional facilities for the accommodation of the large number of children which at the fall term crowded the schools and overtaxed the teachers. A hundred children were assembled in a single groom and it was decided that something should be done the coming year towards the erection of a commodious substantial school building.

The first and most important preliminary was the acquisition of ample and convenient school grounds, central of location, yet sufficiently remote from intrusion as not to disturb residents nor be inconvenienced by street traffic. These essentials were happily found in what was known as the Eldridge lot that contained five acres and was to be had for $2,000, cash. To provide this sum, the town board by ordinance duly published offered school bonds to the amount of $2,500.

As a like emergency in the way of providing accommodations for the constant increase of school going population has again and recently necessitated the issue of school bonds, it is interesting to note the changed and improved conditions attendant upon the later issue and compared with that of 1874. Then, as now, a financial panic prevailed, but monetary depression and stringency did not defeat the plans of the town board nor furnish excuse for driving a hard bargain.

It had been said that a sinking fund should have anticipated present need, but the emergency would not admit of delay and the means were the most judicious possible to attain the money required of building.

In 1874, the town board authorized the issue of eleven bonds of $200 each and one of $300, the last to fall due April 1, 1877. The rate of interest was 10 per cent, paid annually. It was provided that they should not be sold for less than 94 cents on the$1.00. They were sold at a discount of 5 per cent, an the proceeds, $2,375, were turned over to the school board, and $2,000, applied in payment for the school lot. The time till redemption was short and this debt was soon extinguished.

The recent issue of $10,000 school house bonds, bearing interest of 6 per cent per annum and payable $1,000 each year commencing at July 10, 1898, was sold without discount or commission. They are payable at the First National Bank of Auburn in whatever currency is current when due. The former sale was ruinous to the town; the latter is in all respects creditable and advantageous.

The school grounds having been acquired, although without the limits of the corporation, the admirable site was planted in shade trees and this wise provision for the future now serves to handsomely embellish the grounds and affords pleasant shade for school children.

The authorities having gone thus far, the subject of a new building was broached and it was decided that when the time should come in the near future, a structure should be erected that would "meet all the demands of the place for many years to come."

An important change of text books to secure uniformity was brought about by action of the County Board of Education. The well-known Ray’s Arthimetics gave way to French; Cutter’s Physiology to Brown’s; Harper’s Scott’s History to Anderson’s, and this innovation, not always for the better as the text material, had continued at intervals to this date.

The manifest errors of compilation, the omission of important matter and the crude construction, called for a revision or for other works. The former was decided upon, and Mrs. Campbell, wife of the Dispatch-editor, a lady of acknowledged ability, has been assigned to and entered upon the task of revising the readers.

Albert Totten having left Auburn, his place on the school board was supplied by J. R. Rickel, and on August 17, the corps of teachers consisting of A. Hoffman, Mary Schoonover, Mary McNery, Frank Stahl, Mattie Miller and Hattie Griswold, were re-engaged for the fall term at reduced wages. The per diem of the Principal became $4.45 of the Grammar and Intermediate teachers, $2.25 each, and of the Primary, $1.75 each.

A growing spirit of liberality in the compensation of Principals has been a feature of Auburn school boards. The progressive increase of wages supposably proportioned to greater number and responsibilities is show as follows:

Monthly salary of J. H. Moore, $40; C. P. Hodge, $50; Spencer Dills, $65; W. H. McIntosh, $80; A. R. Hoffman, $100; Michael Seiler, $116, and Lida A Powers, $125.

The close of the term showed an attendance in the High School of 40, with an average of but 23. The High School branches proved a costly feature, inasmuch as but six studied Latin and one Trigonometry. It is a question in the minds of many whether a revision of grade studies should not be had, to eliminate such as are pursued by few, and by these to little advantage, and to substitute others designed to so perfect knowledge in the common branches as to make them available in after life.

The custom of hiring by terms was yet in vogue, but an advance had been made in permanence by successive contracts with the same teachers whose success and harmonious co-operation were increased by experience.


Some Reminiscence of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 7 Dec 1893)


The year 1874 was marked by unusual activity in the churches. The German Methodist society erected a building on a lot west of John Whittington’s, now Dr. Allen’s place, and, although in numbers and not possessed of much means, they liberally contributed to meet the expense and enjoyed sitting in their own sanctuary to worship God in their own language, among their own people.

The beginning of this conference year, Rev. J. W. Welch took charge of the M. E. church at Auburn. The meeting house yet stood on one of the principal streets of the town. It was poorly ventilated and in a neglected condition. Audiences were small and generally noisy and inattentive. The spiritual condition of the membership was at a low ebb, Petty jealousies and contentions had almost ruined the organization.

It was under these discouraging circumstances that Rev. Welch re-commenced his ministry. His first steps were to work up a spirit of sociability, church interest and progress. He went from house to house and by prayers and words of advice and encouragement succeeded in healing wounds and laying the foundation for exalted spirited condition later enjoyed.

By his suggestion and counsel, the Ladies’ Aid Society purchased two lots in a retired part of town for $1,000, paying $100 down and engaged to pay $200 annually till the debt was discharged. He then circulated a subscription to raise money to move the church building to the lots purchased. This action was strenuously opposed, but he persevered and the church was moved, re-seated, painted, properly ventilated and remodeled generally.

As he had done in earlier years, Rev. Welch himself often assisted the workmen, and by his unflagging zeal, the building was finished and pronounced as good as new.

An excursion planned from Auburn to Jackson, Mich., brought in $860, which with a festival and subscriptions cleared the debt of repair and removal.

A pipe organ was bought for choir use and later a lecture room was planned, built and paid for. Church membership showed a great increase. Congregations were large, orderly and attentive and interest was notable on street and in business places.

The field of local journalism for some years exclusively occupied by the COURIER was in 1874, invaded and contested by a new aspirant for popular favor and political expression, and the republican party from this time on was to have an organ at the county seat.

R. H. Weamer, now editor of the Bristol Banner, this state, have come to Butler in the spring and began the publication of an independent paper known as "The Butler News." After a few months’ experience, Mr. Weamer came out as a republican editor and, responding to overtures from Auburn, removed his office thither in November and continued his paper with change of name to "The DeKalb County Republican." It was thought that there was not room for another newspaper in Auburn and pervious trials gave little encouragement, but Weamer persevered amidst difficulties that might well have daunted his courage, and warranted his suspension. The many hardships and makeshifts experienced by the country publisher were all familiar to the founder of the paper, but, although it was often a hard job to procure sufficient funds to pay for the weekly package of paper sent C. O. D. and to meet the requirements of the office, the Republican never missed an issue and no employee ever failed to receive his pay.

In this exacting times, when local papers are so numerous and city dailies so cheap and replete with the world’s doings, the publisher of a country newspaper must have genuine merit, tenacity of purpose and undeviating integrity to hope for lasting success. The verbose editorial, no longer read, gave place to bright, pithy comment on current topics of home interest and opened a new prospect for the enterprising writer.

The Republican, from name and subject matter, soon became a welcome weekly visitor at many a home and contributed in no slight degree to the good name and prosperity of Auburn. A marked peculiarity then existed and still exists in the fact that few persons, comparatively, are subscribers for other than their own political newspaper, preferring to learn local news through its columns only. Late as was the establishment of the Republican, it has shared the fate of earlier publications as regards its files, for careful inquiry has failed to find, even in possession of its publisher, more than an occasional copy of the paper in these first years, and save in the unconscious influence exerted at the time, it has passed into oblivion.

In 1875, Mr. Weamer received into equal partnership his nephew, Geo. W. Weamer, then a youth of but 17 years. In March of 1878, R. W. Weamer sold his remaining interest to C. P. Houser, returned to Butler and began the publication of a paper, democratic in sentiment. Soon disposing of this, he left the field of journalism, with which he had grown so familiar, and engaged in the hotel business. After a year or more experience in this line, he went to Bristol and returning to his chosen profession, started a paper now controlled by him.

The partnership of Houser & Weamer was of brief duration, since in May, Mr. Houser disposed of his interest to his partner, who, until March 1881, continued to be sole proprietor when he sold to C. P. Houser and Joseph Rainier. George Weamer, "friendly by instinct," was of an open-hearted and frank nature and went about his work as a business man. He connected himself with the Zimmerman factory after leaving the printing office and contributed in no inconsiderable degree to its phenominal prosperity. His death in September, 1892, left a gap in business and social circles.

Mr. Houser purchased the share of his associate in November, 1881, and thus became the owner of the Republican. Continuing his work as agent for school furniture, he intrusted the conduct of the paper to Berry J. Lowry, whose intelligent management won favor with the community and to a marked extent, advanced its circulation.

Mr. Houser has led and active and versatile life. He was one of the first normal students from DeKalb county at Terre Haute, a leading and able teacher in the schools of this county and town, owner of the first bookstore in Auburn, and editor, a furniture agent and of late an nurseryman as well as active in a line in which he has few superiors, that of slating blackboards in the common and graded school houses of county and towns.

In June, 1884, Mr. Houser sold a one-third share in the Republican to Myron H. Hoisington, a graduate of Adrian college, Mich., and later the remaining two-thirds interest was bought by Prof. Wilbur Ferguson, one of the faculty of the college, a fine scholar and excellent writer.

Under the management of Mr. Hoisington as local editor, the Republican became an aggressive and outspoken newspaper. Under the caption, "If you can’t talk up you own town, don’t talk," he left no opportunity unimproved to advertise the advantages Auburn offered for business and residence and his columns were ever open to the expressions upholding its best interests.

Resolute and conscientious as an editor, he fearlessly arraigned county officials for excessive constructive fees, and impressed the just principle that a public office is a public trust.

In March, 1885, the name of the paper was changed to "The Auburn Dispatch" and it became a semi-weekly. Finally, a sale was made of the publication to Edwin A. Nye, a newspaper broker who made it his business to buy up and sell county newspaper offices. Mr. Hoisington and a younger brother William, who had developed marked ability as a real estate agent in this county, removed to Kearney, Nebraska, where they continued their profitable business with gratifying success.

Mr. Nye in 1889 sold the Dispatch to H. A. Stevens and Wallace B. Campbell, educated an talented young men, the former a student at West Point and a practical, experienced printer; the latter, a graduate of our state university, a principal of Paxton Schools and later, an attorney at Crawfordsville.

Under their management, which still continues, the Dispatch, which had become a weekly, has won general recognition as a sterling republican newspaper, its advertising space is exclusively reserved for home patrons, its columns are free from sensational and objectionable news and on its pages, there is seen nothing to offend good taste, nor detract from social purity.

The proprietors have a deep and personal interest in Auburn, and own stock in two of her manufactories. The Auburn Roaster and Baker factory was founded by Mr. Campbell, who is the secretary of the company.

The office was first located in the third story of the Ensley block, later it was removed to the quarters over Tarney’s meat market, where the gilt republican eagle long spread his wings, and finally found permanent quarters on the second floor of the Odd Fellow’s block, where it had ample space an convenient rooms.

The paper was a five column quarto till 1884, when Houser changed it to a six column quarto printed on the co-operative plan till July; 1884, when the policy of printing all eight pages at home was for awhile pursued. It was enlarged to seven columns quarto Oct. 29, 1891.

A fine Potter press was purchased in September, 1883, and was the first cylinder press in the county. The power is supplied by a small Shipman oil engine and the job work machinery connected therewith insures prompt and excellent work. A new job press was added in the fall of 1892.

The circulation is 12,000 bona fide subscribers and the paper as an influence stand sat the head of the republican press of the county, a worthy compeer of its neighbor, the COURIER. It has not official patronage and it need none. It is amply self supporting and its managers are proud of its present and confident of its future.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 14 Dec 1893)


The traveler from Auburn, Indiana, writing his name and address in hotel registers, is no longer questioned as to its locality or reluctant to acknowledge his place of residence.

That day had now gone by and with it had passed the struggle which every town must under go while laying the real foundation upon which is to be reared its best superstructure.

From the beginning of the Centennial year onward, the history of DeKalb county must be closely identified with the most valuable growth and development of Northeastern Indiana.

Railroad facilities, water, fuel, hard woods, healthfulness and beauty of site, with many other advantages, all combined with the push and enterprise of citizens energetically engaged in various industries, had ushered in a prosperity excelled by only a few towns in the state. Real values were constant, accompanied by phenominal growth.

During the earlier years, when and apparently doomed town, Auburn was deserted by some of her hitherto leading people and a marked peculiarity of a later period had been their return to abide. Lost confidence had been restored and the stability of existing advantages guaranteed opportunities for satisfactory investment of capital in trade, realty, manufacturing and banking.

While ever heartily welcome to further build up and extend town growth till her expansion of territory and population shall warrant her putting on the dignity and importance of a city, it is not to be forgotten in the annual of Auburn, that the highest praised should be awarded those who on only remained through her darkest days, but who assumed heavy burdens and great risks when the scales posed doubtfully and turned the balanced to the prosperous side. The labor of the writer shall not have been in vain if this just object shell have been made prominent and brought due credit to the old town residents.

Ten year had gone by since the war had closed. Time had softened the antipathies which had divided citizen on election day into two hostile camps. Regarding only the common welfare, all interest in political supremacy in town matters had almost ceased. No party tickets were nominated for the May election and Union ticket alone occupied the field until a late hour, when a slight opposition was mustered. The vote cast reached only 116 and large majorities elected the following persons for town trustees, viz: R. D. Tefft, W. McIntyre, H. C. Peterson, W. W. Humes and T. C. Mays. Cryus D. Hare was chosen clerk; J. Abright, treasurer; T. D. Gross, assessor, and Darius K. Houghton, marshal.

Is has been an almost universal experience, of which Auburn is no exception, that revenues from taxation, however excessive, have failed to meet the requirements of a growing town. The popular clamor overrides prudent consideration and the panacea of many is an issue of bond, relying the present to embarrass the future.

The municipal expenses of Auburn have ever been met by the issue of orders whose excess during successive years had reached in 1875, more than $2,000; but from that time to the present, no bonded debt has been created and, were it not for the electric lights, the indebtedness would soon be canceled.

But in an emergency in the line of school facilities, the people have never hesitated and have promptly sought relief through the issue of bonds, and the years 1875 and ‘6 were marked by an unusual movement in this direction.

Time and again, fires had broken out and destroyed valuable property, injuring the town and affecting owners, and a strong but powerless minority as desirous of at least organizing a hook and ladder company and would gladly have voted a 25 cent levy for purchase of a fire engine; but selfish apathy of the great majority prevented action. It was futile to urged that a good fire department would lessen the cost of insurance and in single instance save its entire expense. In swift succession, the academy, the woolen mills, and other discovered attempts at wrecking buildings by fire rudely awakened the public to the grave fact that an incendiary was at work in the town, and still no action toward fire protection was taken.

In this essential regard, the lesson is taught how difficult it is to remedy existent evils of a municipality when individual confidence of immunity outweighs the sense of public welfare. Even at present, there are those who sneer at our gallant fire department, our fine engine and splendid wells and, advocating water works, forget that they often fail in power at critical moments, such as last summer saved the Church Furniture Co. works and surrounding property.

With singular inconsistency, the needful is often opposed and the needless approve. The conduct of town affair should be placed in the hands of men who, successful in their own business would, like Wanamaker the merchant, bring like advantageous methods into the public service.

Although backward in protecting themselves against fire, citizens showed no lack of energy in other directions. As population increased, the spirit of speculation provided building lots and the erection of residence and business houses progressed in all directions. Life, activity and encouragement greeted the visitor on every hand. Facilities for cheap living abounded and the market furnished all necessities as well as luxuries at moderate prices.

Enterprise was shown in the acquisition of contiguous real estate on all side of the corporation. Wm. McIntyre had bought a fine five-acre tract to the southwest and during April, it was laid off into lots and placed on the market. About the same time, John C. Sommers, now of Pueblo, Col., had bargained with Edward Baker for forty acres of his farm across the creek eastward, platted the same into lots and streets and invited buyers either for residence purposes or for a manufacturing site. The time seemed opportune in many respects for such speculation and its vicinage to the business part of town indicated a favored and hopeful location. To assist the project, the county was induced to construct a costly bridge along the line of Ninth Street east, and over $400 municipal road fund was expended in establishing a grade through the creek bottom. But no one cared to take the initiative, the lots grew up in weeds, cows used the bridge as a crossing to pasture, Mr. Baker at some expense recovered and returned his land to purpose of farming an so it remained till recently, when again laid out as Natural Gas Addition, it has become a thriving and promising suburb.

In November, Ensley’s new addition by the Eel River Road was speedily building up and a number of frame house were being completed.

Jacob Stamets, although unsuccessful from adverse and uncontrollable circumstances, did nobly his part to build up the lower part of the town and earnestly endeavored to secure manufacturing advantages by liberal and continuous offers. We have seen him freely tendering two acres of his land to the B & O railroad company, laying out an addition that bears his name, and building at much expense a fine frame, hotel.

During 1875, many of his lots had been taken and soon seven houses, the nucleus of the suburb, were ready for occupancy. Undismayed by waning possibilities, he gave public notice as late as the spring of 1877, as follows: "For the benefit of such men as will come here and establish manufactories, I offer an inducement ground free of cost on which to locate the buildings required. These grounds lie between the Eel River and the B & O railroads and are known as Stamets addition to the town of Auburn."

Among those who built residence during the year were Frank Reynolds in Rainier & Headley’s addition, James Barclay a large dwelling on Jackson street, Alexander Hall on South Main. D. Z. Hoffman put up his present frame house right upon what was then the middle of the old Fort Wayne highway, Guy Plum erected at much cost the brick residence now owned by A. Robbins, and other builders were Enos Kuhlman, Engelbert Ashley and Wm. Snyder.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 21 Dec 1893)


The bright promise of safe and solid business investment was accepted in good faith by several resolute and far-sighted citizens, who, with limited means, embarked their all in pioneer factories, which under careful management, have flourished exceedingly, steadily augmenting their facilities and proportionally increasing the output of their products.

Near the Saginaw freight depot, Messrs. Zimmerman & Watson began the operation of planing mills, worked up a large trade, the precursor of the flourishing establishment now existing, took in fresh and able partners, increased capital, added to buildings, and have ever conducted a successful remunerative business.

Messrs. Shearer & Wilson, contractors and builders, this year completed the original part of what are the now so greatly enlarged and well-known Auburn Church Furniture Company Works. The building they used as a planing mill and here was laid the foundation for a most important business having a permanent basis and a guaranteed future. Later, Solomon Shearer disposed of his interest, W. H. Keeran and W. H. McQuiston entered into partnership with A. C. Wilson, a stock company was formed, extensive additions were made to the buildings and orders from distant points gave steady work to a large number of hands. Amidst much difficulty the company forged their way forward, passed safely through the monetary panic of last summer, entered upon a period of deserved prosperity, and now stand one of Auburn’s most solid and valued institutions. [The above was written prior to the fire of Dec. 12, 1893, which completely destroyed their extensive plant.]

Nicholas Ensley in Auburn purchased two low lying lots on the southeast corner of Cedar and Seventh streets, constructed solid foundations, upon which he erected a double, two story block to be used as an agricultural implement storehouses. The completed work was a great improvement in the locality and gave the town a substantial and well furnished building. Large plate glass window occupied the front and added tone and character to the place. It was in the north room of this block that for years the millinery store of Ensley & Harter was located, a store that obtained an extended reputation for fine goods at fair prices and brought hither many purchases from other towns. In the upper story of the building, the veterans of the civil war long held their meetings, their hard tuck socials, and their rooms were rendered very attractive by the liberality of their owner and the enthusiasm of the Woman’s Relief Corps, auxiliary to the Grand Army post.

W. P. Harter, a genial, big hearted and public spirited man, having dissolved a partnership with Mr. Ensley, whose appointment as pension agent necessitated his removal to Indianapolis, for a time carried on business at the old stand till the completion of the Shaffer Block, when he removed thither and was in full tide of prosperity when attacked by an illness that proved fatal and deprived Auburn of one of her best citizens.

During the season of 1875, two ancient landmarks were removed to make way for new and substantial improvements. One of these, the old Hebel saloon building, was shifted elsewhere and on the vacated ground, the foundation was laid the brick business house since occupied by those enterprising and justly popular young grocery men, John and Michael Hebel. The other, the timeworn Puffenberger dwelling, was taken away to make room for a brick block later erected by Wm. McIntyre, who on Feb.1st, had bought from Mrs. Jane Puffenberger and her son Samuel, a hundred feet off the west side of their lot. Later, Charles McClellan erected a residence eastward and connected with what is known as the First National Bank, and the old-timer returning from abroad would look in vain in this vicinity for the Auburn of an early day.

Philip Fluke had occupied his new brick dwelling in the west confines of the town on Seventh street, and the shabby little frame house standing vacant in the uncultivated lot, and farther north on main street, other dilapidated buildings on fine lots, the property of Edward Baker, seemingly a reproach to their owners and blemishes upon the bright newness of the town, were unsightly relics of the olden time. These defects have since been happily effaced and handsome and valuable blocks, like the Farmers Bank building, the Shaffer Block, and fine residence properties, have supersede them, keeping pace with the demands and progress of the municipality.

It will be remembered that a crisis had arrived respecting the extension of the Eel River railroad to Butler from the Junction, and a quantity of subscriptions had to be obtained or the work would not be done. At this juncture, four Auburn citizens, in a spirit far above selfishness and anxious only for the welfare of the town, volunteered to become personally responsible for such an amount of stock subscriptions as were required to make up the deficit which was about $4,000.

The road was duly built, but the men who had stepped forward to shoulder the responsibility for probable shortage were left to bear the brunt of payment for their liberality. Those citizens who especial merit a record of public spirit and self denial were John H. Ford, John L. Davis, Frank D. Ryan and Samuel Sprott. In the spring of 1877, a committee consisting of John P. Widney, A. L. Hollopeter and W. McIntyre was appointed to audit accounts between these guarantors and the railroad company. Their report showed $18,000 collected and paid, and $3,500 still owing, which was made good from their personal resources.

In the year, 1875, public interest from the outside, that had hitherto been centered upon Auburn, became largely diverted towards the proposed railroad town on the B & O line, to be known as Garrett City. During the latter part of November, 1874, at freight train drawn by engine No. 519, left Defiance, O., bound for South Chicago. The engineer was Edward Drone, the fireman, Charles Shaw; conductor, J. Dodge, and the brakemen, Benjamin Given and I. J. Stewart, and not a man of them had ever been west of Hicksville. They had no pilot, but had heard that the division headquarters were to be Garrett. It was night when they approached the place, through which they passed at the rate of twenty miles an hour. On their return, by daylight, they saw a large barn-like structure and a Y track. On the right was a spur track on which stood a construction train. They slackened speed, learned that this was Garret and in disgust, put on steam and sped away at a lively rate. Another trip, and there were two long sidetracks, a track from the shed, a coal track, a temporary frame boarding house managed by a Mrs. Clay, several log cabins on various knolls and a population of about two hundred men.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 28 Dec 1893)


In the spring of 1875 a first view gave an impression of a very uninviting place. The ground was low, but save a small lake, was capable of perfect drainage. The important matter of legal record of a plat of the land purchased and laid out was attended to on April 9, and at once sale of lots began, although prior to the record, O. C. Clark had negotiated for lots on which later stood the store building of C. Reyher and the brick owned by M. L. Duck and occupied by Walters as a hardware store.

W. Cowen had his office in an abandoned farmhouse a half mile south of the track and his first plat was of 150 acres in blocks of lots which, with railroad grounds in the center, made nearly 200 acres within town limits.

The first lot situated on a corner of Cowen and Quincy streets was sold to Nathan Tarney on April 13, and upon this lot he erected a two story building, which, as the Tarney House, has been used as a hotel by him ever since.

There was a great demand for lots and Mr. Cowen was kept almost constantly at work filling out contracts so that by May 1, fifty lots had been sold under a contract that within eighteen months the railroad company would have a thousand men permanently employed in shops in the new town. As evidence of the push of interested parties and the magnitude of projected improvements, streets were graded, sidewalks were put down by the company, and three million brick were bargained for to be used for shops, road houses, and a three story block to be used as a hotel.

By Sept. 1, where four months earlier there was not a town building east of the Tamarack, there had grown up a place numbering four hundred actual inhabitants. Still in this gratifying prosperity, so rapid had been the growth of the town that on Dec. 18, population warranted an election for the purpose of incorporation.

After speculators purchased adjacent farm lands as soon as the plans of the company were developed, and on Nov. 19, Thomas Smith Addition was platted and was followed Nov. 30, by Toland’s East Addition. One year after filing the original plat, Cowen’s First Addition was recorded and subsequent additions have kept pace with the surprising and constant increase of population. And demands for expansion of business and residence interests.

A large and costly mill was erected, a fine school house was built with proceeds of a sale of bonds and extensive shops were put up.

The brief sketch of Garrett presents the beginning of a course of almost unbroken prosperity. Her growth has been remarkable. She is in population the metropolis of DeKalb county, and her politicians dominate in the conventions of political parties. Her position as a division terminus on a great railway, with the shops requiring hundreds of workmen, practically insure her against decadence, and the abounding faith in the future of her citizens, combined with their hospitality to strangers as well as friends, and their American push, give strong grounds for a long continuance of the advancement that warranted its assuming the important dignity of a railroad city.

The rise of Garrett, centrally located on the line between the township of Butler and Richland, made it a public necessity to organize a new township out of the two northern tiers of sections of the former and two southern tiers of the latter. A petition asking the formation of such township was presented April 3, 1876, by Thomas Maloney and others to the commissioners of the county. Action was deferred until June 2 of the regular session, when the territory described was decreed to exist as Clark township. Two days later the name was changed to Keyser township and as such it has since been known.

The vitality, growth and importance seen in Garrett make manifest the great advantages that would have accrued to Auburn had the railroad improvements been made at Sheet’s Crossing as was originally intended, but our town has not sensibly felt the loss and has in common with other corporations in the county, been remunerated by the creation and up building of so line a town.

Something of the same kind had recently been repeated in the founding of a town named Ashley a little east of Hudson on the line between DeKalb and Steuben counties and the removal thither from Butler of some interests connected with the new Wabash line.

It seems a matter worthy of mention that on June 27, 1875, the circus of old John Robinson was billed for Auburn and many who were children then, had the pleasure of taking their children to the same show which returned to Auburn during August, 1893, with novel and entertaining features and was welcomed by thronging thousands. The ardor and curiosity of former days awakened mildly, in the sedate thoughts of middle age, and the feeding of wild beasts and reckless racing touched pleasantly a cord of happy memories.

All more than a decade had passed since the old court house had been replaced by the present structure and action long delayed was now taken towards replacing the old jail with one of modern style, capacity and security. On Jan. 15, 1875, eleven bids were filed with the county commissioners for building a new jail according the plans and specifications prepared by T. J. Toland and approved by the Board. Some of these bids were remarkably alike, as will be seen in the following exhibit of contractors and the amount of their respective bids.

Crane, Duncan & Co


Sutermeister & Co


C. Bouker


A. J. Canfield


J. M. Bratton


Wm. H. Myers


G. M. Maxwell


Brace & Reed


R. C. Colgrove


Clafton & Mouhler


G. W. Pollen


The contract was awarded to Messrs. Crane, Duncan & Co., of Waterloo, this home firm being the lowest on the list. The question was then sprung as to the best location for the building and, strangely enough, there were not wanting those who opposed its being on the public square. Some others were desirous that it be built on the northeast corner of the square, and yet others asked that it be placed on lots fronting Cedar street east of the public grounds. In relation to this last proposition, the board offered to exchange certain creek bottom lots, the town to make up the difference in values, but few names appeared upon petition for a removal.

Thomas Baldock having been approached on the subject, offered his property, 182 feet front by 142 feet deep, located on the northeast corner of Cedar and Seventh streets, for $4,000, and agreed to remove all buildings. It was urged upon the Board to go into a real estate speculation and sell such lots for business houses as were not needed for the prison, but they wisely concluded that the old site was most convenient, the building would be and ornament to the public grounds which had been provided for this very purpose and were the only proper place for the structure.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of it Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 4 Jan 1894)

The contract of removing the old jail to its present site on the corner lot east of the square on the south, was awarded to Abraham McEntaffer for $80, and in its removal the town Board rented the building for a needed place of meeting and for holding municipal elections and, later, bought and fitted it up and connected therewith improvements for housing the fire apparatus.

For many years the town trustees had been compelled to meet sometimes in a storeroom, office or factory and had finally found quarters which at present are restricted in area and unwholesome. They need and ought to have a place of meeting more in accord with the spirit and conditions of the Auburn of 1894.

On the vacated site, the new building was in April located and from then the work of construction was steadily carried on. At one time, two of the large stones, each of which formed a cell wall, fell were broken, involving a loss to contractors. At another, inferior material had found its way into the work and, condemned by the vigilant superintendent, the wall was rebuilt according to specifications.

Changes greatly to the advantage of the building were authorized by the Commissioners and added about $2,000 to the contract price. The best material was furnished throughout and the job was executed in first-class style at a final cost of only $28,647.78. This was one instance of a thousand where the expense of a public building amounted to less than the estimate, which was in the case $30,000.

This fact spoke well for Mr. Toland, the architect, and for the honesty and economy of all concerned. The contractors did their work admirably and it was said at the time that the building had no unsound material, no defect in workmanship.

For once, the Board of Commissioners received unwonted credit in the candid expressing: "They have been faithful to the people in the expenditure of money, and true to themselves in an honest and economical investment of the same."

There are triple grates between cell inmates and liberty. The inner grate is of steel. The interior was supplied with all modern appliances for feeding, heating and locking. Scandinavian locks are attached to each cell and a combination lock to the main entrance.

In reference to this latter, it seems to have been a patent and some years since a gentleman one day appeared before the Board in session. He represented the widow of the inventor, demonstrated that DeKalb County with many others had infringed on the patent, showed where litigation had been invariably followed by decision in his favor and made it optional with our commissioners to pay him on his demand $300, or a much larger sum if brought into court. The offer was accepted and the drive well swindle on individuals was duplicated upon counties on a greater scale.

To meet expense incurred in building, $29,000 in ten per cent short time bonds were issued. An attempt was made to make these bonds payable at option of the county, but being regarded adversely, the time of redemption was fixed at from two to five years. they were taken at par by home people, redeemed by means of a light additional tax, and the county had a prison that will long answer to the demands made upon it.

Sheriff Meese moved into the residence, Dec. 1, 1875. The first occupant of the new jail was George Hobnick, charged with stealing a note from Alonzo Lockwood. His transfer from the old to the new quarters was marked by a pleasant escapade when the prisoner got away from his jailer, much to his anxiety, and then voluntarily walked into his new quarters.

Among notorious criminals who have since been incarcerated in the prison pending trial, were Lewis Abbott, convicted of killing Francis Houlton, of Franklin township, on May 18, 1878, tried in September following and set to the penitentiary for life; Levi Kessler who murdered Alexius T. Harner on Dec. 14, 1885, in Butler township, and created great excitement by the atrocious character of the crime, was tried and likewise sentenced to state prison for life, and Samuel Deeter, who, in a frenzy of passion over financial losses, assaulted his mother, shot Mrs. Laura A. Lowe, a neighbor who responded to their outcry, also shot her father, Amos Bechtel, on his way for surgical aid and wounded Mr. Yates, a passerby. At this date, Deeters has not had his trial, and the gravity of offense and reputation of attorneys employed, promise to make this case remarkable in the criminal annuls of DeKalb county.

The invariable plea for murderers, of insanity was presented in the case of Kessler to no purpose. Judge McBride in sentencing him to prison for life, said "You have shown yourself unfit for liberty and should pass the rest of your life in prison."

The number of inmates of the jail has of late shown a marked increase; during six months there were about sixty commitments and Oct. 1, 1893, eleven cells were occupied

In earlier chapters, the history of the Auburn Woolen Mills has been written. For years this fine factory had been a valuable auxiliary to the town. There the farmer had found a market for his wool, and there the farmer’s wife had her carding done. The company during its existence had prospered. Sylvester Kutzner was president and Thomas D. Gross, secretary.

A notice had been given by them to stockholders for a meeting to be held on Saturday, Nov. 13, but it was not to be. Before that time, fire-scorched walls and smoldering embers marked the ruins of its fine mill at the hands of an incendiary. At 5 p.m. of Nov. 11, flames were seen issuing from the northwest corner of the garret floor of the mills. An alarm was given and met a prompt response. With a handy ladder and a few pails of water, the disaster could have been averted. But there were no ladders, the flames, fed on oily surfaces, soon enveloped the entire building, and involved a destruction of property valued at $15,000.

Several citizens entered the mills and succeeded in getting out the looms and some other material. They saved the annex covering the engine and boiler, on the east side after much exertion, but the calamity reduced the assets of the company to $5,000, and the stockholders not being able to rebuild, a fine trade was destroyed and a loss inflicted upon the community.

Subservient to the law of change, loss in one direction was compensated in some other. We have noted the organization of a bank whose history fitly illustrates those mutations that are liable to affect the most carefully conducted business or financial institution.

On April 1, 1875, the First National Bank of Auburn was opened for transaction of business. The president, Joseph R. Lanning, and secretary, James V. Hazzard, assisted by George Hazzard of New Castle and Thomas Newby of Cambridge, the last two being experienced bankers, were present when the books were opened and the institution put in running order.

The necessary deposits had been made at Washington and the bank notes were speedily expected. Fully $5,000 had already been deposited in the huge safe which weights ten tons, requires the opening of five combination locks, and was regarded as fire and burglar proof.

The first statement was made May 1, when the bank had $30,00 in United States bonds to secure circulation, on which had been paid a premium of $4,510. Resources amounted to $66,078.78. Included in liabilities were deposits subject to check $27,325, demand certificates of deposit $8520—a promising beginning.

During the fall of 1875, Wm. McIntyre sold to the stockholders the building since occupied by the bank and thither the office was soon after removed.

Business continued satisfactory and had settled into a habitual routine when in January, 1877, at he annual meeting of stockholders, the following named directors were chosen for that year. J. H. Ford, W. McIntyre, J. McClellan, J. R. Lanning and G. Hazzard. Mr. Ford was re-elected president; G. Hazzard, vice-president and J. V. Hazzard, cashier. A five per cent dividend for six months was declared and the bank gave every evidence of being in a sound and prosperous condition.

It had been expected that George Hazzard who owned $26,100 of the $30,000 of stock would move to and become a permanent citizen of Auburn and a hearty welcome was promised in that event; but, instead, he resigned his position of vice president in May, 1877, alleging that his business at New Castle would not permit his absence from that place. W. McIntyre was elected to fill the vacancy.

The board of directors was then increased from five to nine, a ten per cent dividend was declared, a movement was started to double the capital, and it was said with confidence that, "Persons wanting a safe, sure investment can obtained it by purchasing stock in this bank."

But at this, the period of greatest prosperity, a grave peril threatened and a blow fell upon the bank, which crippled its resources, and affected its credit and carried dismay throughout the community. The very man who had founded, did his best to wreck, the bank. The implicit confidence reposed in his integrity, rendered it easy to effect this purpose.

George Hazzard, on a plea of sudden transient necessity, secured signatures of leading citizen to notes, aggregating over $30,000. These notes he negotiated and realized upon elsewhere and when his victims sought to recover, he avoided all opportunity of adjustment.

Rumors gained currency derogatory to the solvency of the bank which withstood a run, but Oct. 7, Rowland Ellis, a bank examiner, came to Auburn and began an investigation of the books. At the conclusion of his work, he decided that to save the bank, a certain deposit made at the instance of Hazzard must be satisfactorily explained. A telegram to him in Nebraska, brought about a meeting in Chicago, where he was held by court for $20,000.

He asked and was granted a transfer of his case to Indianapolis, where he obtained a postponement of trial and was admitted to bail in the sum of $5,000. Foolishly following the Auburn parties to Ft. Wayne on their return, they there had him arrested and brought to Auburn where coercive measures secured the endorsers a payment of about $17,000, or over half the amount due them.

A subsequent payment of $6,000 more, materially reduced the deficit, when John J. Howes, assignee in bankruptcy of Hazzard, began proceedings to recover this sum, but a restraining order was issued by Judge Gresham and thus the bank was replaced on a sound footing, and from that time has grown in popular favor and monetary strength.


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 11 Jan 1894)


Matters in the line of education were not confined to the schools, for it the spring of 1875, a spelling school epidemic broke out and became the rage throughout the county. Auburn citizens took a lively interest in this spontaneous but short-lived revival of the old fashioned spelling school.

Activated by curiosity and ambitious for offered prizes, a large assemblage met on the evening of March 12, in Ensley’s Hall and were called together by W. L. Penfield. The contest was begun and continued with ever lessening numbers until midnight, when the "school" was adjourned until the Monday evening following. It was then continued by seven persons to whom the strife had been reduced, Gradually one after another went down until but two stood eager and watchful in the war of words.

The winner of the first prize was C. D. Hare, of the second H. C. Peterson, and Mrs. Casebeer was third. There could only good grow our of popular attention to Orthegraphy, and it was with regret that interest was seen to decline as swiftly as it had arisen, but it had brought light the fact that this valuable school study had been suffered to fall into disuse.

On July 5, the school board bought of J. H. Ford for $675, lots No. 79 and 80, W. A., upon which to build a ward school house sometime during the summer. Bonds to the amount of $3,000 were authorized by the town trustees to provide the means, the contract for the proposed building was awarded during July to Messrs. Lewis Griffith and George S. McCord, of Ft. Wayne, for $2,257.56, and the work was to be finished by August 20. The house was built of brick, is two storied and its dimensions are 36 x 36 ft. School was taught therein for a time when the building stood vacant, the out-lay seemed ill placed and premature and the unattractive structure, surrounded by rank vegetation in summer, suggested the unfinished university on a Kansas prairie. The necessities of cramped accommodations have of late finally brought about the use of the building for a primary school.

Considerable outlay was made in papering, refitting and reseating the old academy. C. P. Houser, agent of C. E. Dickinson & Co., provided new and commodious desks and seats at a cost of $847.60, and the building is the First Ward was expected to relieve the lower grades from evils of overcrowding.

Meanwhile the school board added very much to the appearance of the new school grounds in the central western part of the town by planting out shrubbery, making walks, and surrounding them with a fence. S. B. Duncan furnished 150 evergreens at a cost of $112.50, and eight chestnuts for $6.00, and Albert Wells received $35.50 for 150 young forest trees. This foresight bears present fruit in adorning and beautifying the grounds and the refreshing shade afforded the troops of children during summer’s hottest days, richly rewards the prudent outlay.

Notwithstanding provision for seating it became evident from the enumeration of 507 children, which represented a gain of 61 over the previous year, that a large school building was a necessity of the immediate future.

J. E. Rose resigned his position as a school trustee and J. J. Littlefield was appointed his successor. A. R. Hoffman, accompanied by Charles Shepherd, went west. Mr. Hoffman had proved himself a teacher of marked ability, his services were of high order and his many friends saw his departure from Auburn with regret.

On July 5, Orlando M. Record presented an application to the school board for the position of Principal of the schools and was engaged for one year at a salary of $1,000. He was the first teacher to be hired other than by the month and for single terms. James S. Otis, a graduate of the Butler schools, a young man of brilliant promise and a present prominent educator in Ohio, was hired as assistant to Mr. Record. Addie E. Thomas, Ida Mahurin, Laura Clark and Hattie Griswold, qualified by tact and experience, were the other teachers.

The schools opened auspiciously and the usual routine was being regularly conducted on the lined of study and discipline when the schools were dismissed for the day and, as it proved, to assemble no more in the old academy. In the early evening of Oct. 16th, and alarm of fire was given and soon the tidings spread that the school house was burning. Men were promptly on the spot, but they had no ladders nor other appliances to reach and attack the fire, which originated in the west end of the building. The population of the town crowded to the scene and looked on the helplessly while the building, in a short time enveloped in flames, slowly burned.

With coolness, many desks and school books could have been saved uninjured, but in the excitement, windows and doors were smashed in, desks broken into fragments and books scattered upon the floor to be lost. Such books as were saved were stored in the house of Mrs. Puffenberger, close at hand, but the greater number in the higher rooms were destroyed, involving a heavy charge to parents to replace them, although greatly assisted by Mr. Houser, then keeping the pioneer book store of the town. He declined to profit by the public misfortune and generously supplied text books at a minimum of price.

Prudent forethought had placed $3,000 insurance on the building and $500 on the furniture in the Aetna Fire Insurance Company of New York. This was promptly paid and was a great help in subsequent building. Dr. Littlefield resigned his position on the school board and removed to Adrian, Mich. His place was taken by Wm. McIntyre.

There was some salvage on seats, which were repaired, others got, three rooms were secured on second floor of Ensley’s block, and on Nov. 15, the public schools were re-opened.

The demand for a new school house was imperative, and it this emergency, the Town Board issued $10,000 of eight per cent bonds, the last payable nineteen years from date. These bonds were taken by New York parties and the proceeds of sale were turned over to the school board to be applied in erecting a school house.

All the years since 1876, the taxpayers of Auburn have been paying eight per cent interest, owing to fixed dates and long time. Seventeen years have passed and 136 per cent in interest has been paid on two bonds that mature in ’94 and ’95 respectfully. This costly financing which hampers the much needed demands of the present, should impress the public with the importance to them of electing to office men who have been successful in conducting their private affairs and who would as safely and conservatively manage those of the public.

Work was begun upon the first Auburn High School building in the spring of 1876, under the general management of the school board. The site was well chosen, the structure was of brick two stories high, in dimensions 61 x 75 feet and the highest point was sixty feet above ground. The foundation walls were of freestone and supplied a roomy basement.

The contract was let to James W. Case, who, it will be remembered was one of the builders of the academy. Out of thirteen contractors. Mr. Case was the successful bidder and he job was awarded to him at $9,670. The other bids ranged all the way up to $13,000.

The building was erected in accordance with plans and specifications prepared by Messrs. Moser & Gibbs, of Toledo, Ohio. S. B. Gibbs of the firm was engaged by the board to supervisor the work. Some changes for the better were made in the way of substituting iron cornices, etc., for wood, which increased cost some hundreds of dollars. This school house was substantially built at a personal loss to the contractor, who erred in making his bid too low. The furniture, consisting of convenient and comfortable modern seats and desks, was furnished by C. P. Houser at a cost of $800.

Heating was effected by means of two Boynton patent hot air furnaces which cost $400. The entire cost of the first building was $12,332.

Michael Seiler, of Fairfield township, a graduate of the State Normal School, was the first superintendent in this school house. His salary of $1,050 per annum, though high, was compensated by the system, the methods and the management introduced and successfully employed by him in grading, teaching and disciplining the schools.

(To be continued next week)


Some Reminiscences of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 18 Jan 1894)


Among the different religious societies which had grown up from small beginnings was the Lutheran. Several fruitless attempts to organize and establish and English Lutheran church in Auburn had been made at different times by Revs. W. Waltman, J. Sise and C. C. Link. The great need was a house in which to worship.

Rev. Levi Rice visited Auburn in May, 1874, and made arrangements to preach occasionally in the Baptist church and this continued until Oct. 26, 1875, when notice having been duly given, all members of the society met at the home of Jacob Walborn where a permanent organization was made with nineteen members. The church so formed was named "The St. Marks English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Auburn.

At this meeting, Levi Rice was president and Jacob Walborn secretary. An election was held and the first council chosen consisted of two elders, John Treesh and J. Walborn, and two deacons, Enos H. White, and D. A. Sebring. Rev. Rice was engaged to serve the congregation as pastor of one year with semi-monthly meetings.

The names of the original members are as follows: J. J. and Caroline E. Huffman, Jacob Stamets, David A. and Minvera Sebring, Jacob, Lucetta and Mary Walborn, Mary Wiles, Horace A. Hoffman, Margaret Sibert, John Treesh, William McClellan, Andrew and Elizabeth Bolander, Wm. L. and Angeline Smith, and Enos H. and Clara M. White.

Of these, nine were former members, three were transferred and the rest were received by letter. The Lutherans at once purchased of the Presbyterian society their old frame church, occupying the southeast corner of Lot 20, W. A., and paid for it $650.

Rev. Rice remained with the church he had founded for six years and under his faithful pastorate, numbers gradually increased and permanency was insured. A plain, ever sociable minister, he endeared himself to his people and worthily enjoyed the respect of Auburn people in general. Coming from Fairfield Center to Auburn, he removed at the expiration of his term in Oct. 1881, to LaGrange, thence to North Manchester, where he yet resides, invalid in health and retired from active work.

Rev. Samuel Kelso, of Spencerville, succeeded Rev. Rice and remained but one year. He was a man at this time of mature years and experienced in his high calling. From Auburn, he went to Illinois, but returned to Indiana and is located at Logansport.

The Rev. William Waltman, resident of Kendallville, supplied the church for a brief period in the early part of 1883. One of the oldest surviving pioneer preachers of the Lutheran church in Northern Indiana and still filling an appointment at LaOtto, he is one of that tireless and heroic class who planted the banner of the cross in a wilderness and had lived to look upon and enjoy the growth and prosperity of his sect. He was more accustomed to the log school house than the brick church and continued to be for years a familiar and welcomed guest at many a settler’s humble cabin firesides.

A permanent pastor was next secured in the person of Rev. W. D. Trover, whose engagement covered the space of four years and terminated in October, 1887. He came from Monroeville to Auburn and, from the first, took a prominent part in all church enterprises and was favorably regarded in his relations to society.

Ably seconded in his efforts by his estimable wife. Rev. Trover spared no pains to strengthen the church and promote the moral and religious elevation and happiness of its members, young and old. He went from Auburn to Wichita, Kansas, leaving a noble memory of useful labor and integrity of purpose.

Rev. Jessup, from Leipsic, O., following Rev. Trover, made a brief stay and was succeeded by Rev. N. J. Myers, of Noble county, in March, 1888. This minister, young, ardent and devoted to his sacred calling, gave his entire energies to bettering church relations, added to its membership, labored for its temporal as well as its spiritual advancement with marked results, and richly earned popular esteem and good will.

Ambitious of a better house of worship and willing to shoulder the cost of such a structure, the society, during 1889, by its council, negotiated for and purchased of Mrs. Fannie Smith, Lot No. 62, W. A., paying for the same $500.

Means to defray the expense of building were called for and met a general response from members, and this was supplemented by an outside subscription cheerfully donated by friends of the society.

A building committee was appointed, consisting of N. J. Myers, Lewis Bowers, John Treesh, J. C. Henry and J. Walborn. To them was intrusted the work of procuring plans and specifications, letting contracts and supervising construction. The contract for the solid, substantial stone walls of the basement was let to August Shutt, and was by him faithfully fulfilled. The brick work, by Messrs. Picker & Bumpus, and the carpentry, by Samuel Buss, were as conscientiously completed and before the end of October, the edifice was finished and stands a handsome monument to church enterprise.

The plan of building is after the Gothic Style, having brick walls and slated gables. Its dimensions are 44 x 63 feet. A tower, rising to a height of 85 feet, adorns the structure and supports a fine bell weighing 800 pounds.

Its interior finish is in the natural wood. The floor is bowl-shaped, descending towards the pulpit, and seats are circular and concentrically arranged. The rostrum, facing west, is high and partially hidden from view by massive end pillars.

The auditorium is separated from a lecture room by movable partition by which both rooms may on occasion be thrown together. The former has seating capacity of 250, and the later for 150 persons.

Stained glass window, eight in number, are respectively memorials of the Sabbath school, the Synod of Northern Indiana, Lewis Bowers, Jacob Walborn, Burton Brown, Samuel Cornell and the Nelson.

Two hot air furnaces, located in the basement, heat the building and the auditorium is lighted by a Bailey reflector. All complete, the church cost $7,000, and the congregation who assembled to witness the dedication of their beautiful edifice, had reason to feel an honest pride and satisfaction in their possession, and unstinted gratitude to their committee for prompt, durable and artistic architecture.

The building was consecrated to religious purposes in a sermon preached Nov. 3, 1889, by Dr. L. A. Godwald, of Springfield, O. close following the realization of praiseworthy efforts conducive to the new church, Rev. Myers removed elsewhere but has from time to time returned to visit his old charge and address his former congregation. For several months, the church had been without a pastor, when in February, 1890, Rev. D. F. Kain, of Albion, Ind., held several services, was heard with favor and regularly engaged. He remained until the spring of 1891, and is at present located in Monroeville.

Rev. Kain is a man of the people, plain of feature and apparel, serious and kindly spoken. There is, in his disposition, the outgrowth of more than twenty years of experience in the ministry, a blended sense of special obligation in relation to his own church, with a just and christian tolerance for the feelings and opinions of others denominations that brought him, during his sojourn in Auburn, into close sympathy and co-operation with their ministers in the common warfare against sin and the united condemnation of intemperance. His sermons were remarkable for clear statements of sound doctrine and his delivery is pleasant, distinct and deliberative.

The Rev. J. D. Brosy, from Pleasant Lake, closely followed Rev. Kain and is the present pastor. His ministry had been fruitful of results to accessions and large congregations. Almost boyish in appearance, winning in manner, ever courteous and with a heart full of kindness and tenderness, Rev. Brosy is endowed with qualities that open for him a wide an extensive field for future possibilities. Welcomed to society for genial, fresh and joyous disposition, he is popular in the pulpit for sermons rich in thought and suggestion as they are brief in expression.

His congregation are habitually large, attentive and interested. To this date, he has received one hundred accessions and the number of members is one hundred eighty-six.

In connection with the church there was organizes in 1877, a Sabbath school under superintendence of Henry Stamets. His successor was John Treesh, was superintendent at different times for a total of nine years. Other who have filled this office were George Ensley, 1884; Jacob Stamets, 1887: Levi D. Rice, 1889; D. F. Kain, 1890; Noah Barcus, a brief period, and J. D. Brosy the rest of the school year to March 6, 1893, when Elmer Bottenberg was chosen a year.

The school has shown a constant growth and keeps pace with the progress of the church. Mrs. Bolinger is the excellent teacher of a fine infant class.

A Ladies’ Aid Society was formed in 1885. In this society all the ladies of the church are interested. Sociables had long been held at homes of members and a marked feature has been the excellent fare and unfailing patronage. These festive and social meetings have been held in the lecture room of the church since its erection and, though held at long intervals, are a source of revenue enabling the society to aid liberally in furthering the various objects in church interest. As an instance, in the single item of seating for the church their contribution was upwards of $800.

A Christian Endeavor Society was constituted Nov. 7, 1891, with seven members. It has a present enrollment of sixty-five, with proportionate increase of moral and religious influence.

Secure in ownership of a commodious and beautiful place of worship, the Lutherans sold their old building to the Church of God people, and applies the proceeds to the discharge of a debt which they have rapidly reduced by liberal payments of nominal dimensions.

In 1892, a committee appointed to find and secure a site for a parsonage, decided to use ground cast of the church on the same lot. At a cost of $1,500 a neat, comfortable one and a half story frame dwelling was erected.

Religious interest in unabated. A full church is the rule. The finances of the society run on business principles, are in a flourishing condition, and the Lutheran church of Auburn is in touch with the progressive spirit of the age, and is a growing power in its saving and salutory influences.

(To be concluded next week)


Some Reminiscence of its Early Days and Pioneer Citizens

(Re: Auburn Courier – 25 Jan 1894)


And now we bring our pleasant self-imposed task to a close. The history of Auburn during its first four decades of existence has, for more than three days, been in course of publication in the columns of THE AUBURN COURIER. One by one, the pioneers have been seem to retire from the stage of action, while others assumed their places and responsibilities.

Successive years have depicted the perils that threatened the countyseat and its struggles, not for precedence primarily, but for existence. Even in 1875, the town had scarce entered upon its now established leadership and few of the business and manufacturing firms that give it character for solid and permanent worth had then an existence.

Glancing backward to the forest environed hamlet, its denizens oppressed by unhealthy climate, poverty of means and lack of facilities for outside communication, we have see courage and faith triumph as Auburn emerged from obscurity and entered upon a career of progress unbroken till the present.

The changes since 1875 have been most gratifying and substantial. Shabby frame has given place to modern architecture in dwelling and dwelling house. Vacant lots have been occupied, and institutions like the Farmers Bank have been established to keep pace with commercial needs, and in times of distrust and fear have withstood the test of solvency where others elsewhere failed.

Manufactories have risen, like the Zimmerman, the Eckhart, the Church Furniture, the Foundry and the Kiblinger. These have added to their buildings, increased their capital, working force and output and won a good name for honest dealing and creditable workmanship.

Fine churches, involving heavy outlay, monuments to the virile energies of societies and adornments to the town, have been successively built an afford pleasant and capacious auditoriums.

The school building of 1876 burned and arose again like the fabled phoenix, but of finer form and greater proportions, and in 1893 saw the erection of a new structure; destined to accommodate the increase of pupils and to stand a solid index of educational spirit.

An opera house, famous and convenient for pleasure seekers as rink and theater, and for the people for meetings and conventions, was the outgrowth of public spirit in leading citizens and its loss by fire was a popular regret and a municipal misfortune.

It has been a far cry from the humble water mill of the early day to the steam band saw mill of Grandy & Nickey, employing its score of teams and many men in hauling large logs by thousands during years of operation and manufacturing lumber in enormous quantities.

Petty provisions for fires have given place to a splendid steamer, ably manned and Auburn’s fire department is the pride of her citizens. The "Auburn" had never failed at critical moments as have vaunted waterworks, but the galloping greys driven by Pfefferl or Baker have on more than one occasion brought swift aid and prevented great loss of property.

The inexpensive street lamps of 1875 and later, were kept trimmed and lighted by the marshal. On the discovery of natural gas, brought up from a depth of nearly 2,000 feet, the kerosene lamps were supplemented by flaring torches about the public square and the cupola of the court house.

The roar of escaping gas thrilled the people with exultation, pipes were laid, residences, offices and public buildings were heated by this strange subterranean fuel and expectation stood on tiptoe. Then, as the flow lessened, connections were broken up and an electric plant was founded, providing in buildings, public and private, and on our streets, a weird, brilliant and convenient light.

Cement walks, numerous and extended, have characterized the better ideal of the authorities and property owners, and these costly, but handsome and durable pavements add much to the looks of the streets, and the comfort of pedestrians.

Increased population and enlarged resources confirm claims to municipal thrift and popular welfare, The assessed valuation of W. H. Kiblinger alone is $42,450.00, and the town, $1,096,000.00.

We leave the further record of Auburn’s progress to some other writer. Our task has been agreeable and instructive. May the future of Auburn outlive the present as the present had outdone the past and, in our possession of the advantages the town offers for getting a living and enjoying life, let us never forget those to whose fortitude and self-denial we owe these incalculable advantages.

William H. McIntosh

[The End]




Close of Pioneer Sketches

(Re: Auburn Courier – 25 Jan 1894)

This week we close the historical articles on "Auburn and Vicinity," having brought them up to 1876, the same date at which we quite the "Pioneer Wedding." The articles will proved a valuable part of DeKalb county history, and at some time in the near future we hope to see them utilized to help us to a history that will prove more correct an complete than those heretofore published. Early settlers especially will prize them, and many have kept the copies of the COURIER containing them. In parting company of time with these reminiscences, we ought not to forget their author, W. H. McIntosh, who have bestowed on them a vast amount of labor and energy. It had taken a great deal of time to secure all of the matter, some of it was found in copies of old county papers, some in other records and a little obtained from prominent pioneers themselves, like the late S. W. Ralston, as well as J. R. Cosper and many more. The articles are ably written and aside from their historic value, are full of excellent thoughts and comments. A time will come, and it is not far distant; when the result of his labors will be appreciated.

In conclusion, we would urge every pioneer and those familiar with men and conditions in pioneer days to put his knowledge into writing so it may eventually be available. Each locality had an additional history that the COURIER would be glad to assist them to perpetuate.