Fulton County History

Prior to white men coming to the area now know as Fulton County the Pottawatomies Indians inhabited the area. The Pottawatomi relinquished their rights to the land in a series of treaties with the general government between 1826 and 1837. By 1839 most of the Indians had left the area.

In 1831 William Polke, of Knox County, was appointed sole commissioner to complete the surveying, marking and engineering of the land set aside for construction of a major thoroughfare. The thoroughfare became known as Michigan Road. To make this task more convenient Mr. Polke built a log cabin in the Fulton County area. In the fall of 1831 he moved into the cabin with his three daughters and two sons.

About this time other early settlers moved into the area which would become Rochester. They include James Elliott, William J. Shields, Alexander Chamberlain, George Caldwell, Thomas Martin, M.H. Venard, John Wood, Geroge Bozarth, Stephen Cherney, Widow Shepard, Robert Wiley, William A. Hail, Michael Shore, H. Cowen, Alfred Meton, Willian Whittenberger, Henry Hoover, John Troutsman and B.C. Wilson. Between 1830 and 1835 settlers moved into the area at a rapid pace.

A petition was circulated and signed asking for organization of Fulton County in Indiana. The act was approved on Feb. 7, 1835 and received the approval of the governor on Jan. 23, 1836. The act stated that the citizens would enjoy the rights and jurisdications of a separate county starting April 1, 1836. On the second Monday of June 1836 the commissioners appointed by the legislature examined the proposed sites for a county seat and decided on Rochester. Their report was recorded on July 22, 1836.

Some of the prinicpal towns of early Fulton county were Rochester, Kewanna and Akron. Rochester, located at the intersection of the Chicago & Erie and Lake Erie & Western railroads, was 100 miles southeast of Chicago and 100 miles north of Indianapolis. Lake Manitou is one-half mile southeast of the town and the Tippecanoe River is two miles to the north. Rochester became the county seat in 1836 and was incorporated in 1853. By the 1890s the town had a population of over 4,000. By this time Rochester had it's own water-works, an electric power plant, three hotels, three banks, two grain elevators, two express agencies, two pipe lines (direct from the oil fields of Ohio), one opera house, eight organized churches, sixteen lodges, two public school buildings and a college known as the Rochester Normal university. Town industries included three wagon and carriage factories, four produce packing houses, three cigar factories, two planing-mills, Rochester Bridge Company, a steam laundry, one foundry and machine shop, one shoe factory, one flour mill, one novelty works, a handle factory and a brick kiln. In 1895 these industries employed about 350 people Rochester had two weekly papers, the Weekly Sentinel and the Weekly Republican, and one daily paper, the Daily Republican.

Kewanna was laid out in June 1845 by Eli A. and John Troutman. The town was platted under the name of Pleasant Grove while the post office was known as Kewanna. Shortly after the town was laid out William Spencer opened a small grocery store. Soon after a general store was opened by Aldrich & Tygart of Logansport, Mr. Tygart managed the store in person. By 1895 the town had a population of about 1,000. Located on the Vandalia Railroad, about 20 miles north of Logansport, Kewanna was surrounded by a good agricultural district. In addition to several large stores the town had three banks; one elevator and flour-mill; one planing-mill; one produce packing house; one pickle and salting house; one newspaper, the Herald; three organized churches; one public school and one good hotel.

In 1838 Dr. Joseph Sippy and Hiram Welton laid out a town in section 24, Henry township and gave it the name of Newark. A post office was established one mile west of the village was named Akron. The post office was relocated to the village and the town adopted the name of the post office. Akron was a thriving town of about 800 by the late 1890s. There was one newspaper, the News; one bank; two hotels; one flour-mill; two elevators and one saw-mill. The town was situated on the Chicago & Erie railroad and boasted a fine agricultural community.

When organized Fulton County was made part of the Eighth Judical circuit of the state. Hon. Samuel C. Sample was president judge. John Robbins and Anthony Martin, Esqs. were associate judges, Lot N. Bozart was the clerk and John Davidson was sheriff. Gustavus A. Evarts and Joseph L. Jernegan, Esqs. were admitted to practice as attornys and councellors at law. Other attornys of the times were Isaac Naylor, John W. Wright, George W. Blakemore, John B. Niles and William Z. Stuart. President Judge Sample was suceeded by John W. Wright (April 1842 to Sept. 1846), Horace P. Biddle, of Logansport, (Jan. 1847 to 1852), H. Milroy, of Delphi, (May 1853 to Sept. 1853) and Thomas S. Stanfield (1853 to 1858). The state constitution changed in 1853 regarding president judges. After Stansfield's term ended in 1858 the following served: Andrew L. Osborne (1858-1871), Thomas S. Stanfield (1871-1873), Elisha V. Long (1873-1875), Horace Corbin (1875-1876), Sidney Keith (1876-1882), Jacob S. Slick (1882-1883), William B. Hess (1883-1884), Isaiah Conner (1884-1890) and A.C. Capron (1894-1896). Probate court judges were Joseph Robbins, John J. Shryock, Anthony F. Smith and James Babcock. For the same period of time judges in the court of common pleas were: Hugh Miller, Carter D. Hathaway, Kline G. Shryock, Thomas C. Whiteside and James H. Carpenter.

Early Fulton County was blessed with a number of fine physicians including: John J. Shryock, Henry W. Mann, Lyman Brackett, James W. Brackett, Thomas H. Howes, A.H. Robbins, J.T. Goucher, A. Sutton, J.C. Spohn, Angus Brown, A.B. Surguy, A.M. Shields, A.C. Orr, W. Hill, V. Gould, C. Hector, W.S. Shafer, N.J. Clymer, C.J. Loring, E.P. Washburn, B.F. Overmyer, C.F. Harter, W.E. Hosman and J.M. Morris.

Many Fulton County residents have served in the state senate and House of Representatives. State senators included: George W. Ewing (1836-40), Williamson Wright (1840-42), John D. Defrees (1842-44), William G. Pomeroy (1845-47), Norman Eddy (1848-52), August P. Richardson (1853-57), Hugh Miller (1857-59), Rufus Brown (1859-60), Daniel R. Bearss (1861-63), Samuel S. Terry (1865-67), Charles B. Lasselle (1869-71), Milo R. Smith (1873-75), Charles H. Reeves (1875-80), William H. Davidson (1881-84), V. Zimmerman (1885-88), Perry O. Jones (1889-92) and Samuel Parker (1893-96). Those in the House of Representatives were: William N. Hood, Alex. Wilson, William M. Reyburn, William Raunells, Amzi L. Wheeler, Joseph Robbins, William G. Pomeroy, Anthony F. Smith, James O. Parks, John J. Shryock, Enos S. Tuttle, Hugh Miller, William M. Patterson, D. Shoemaker, Kline G. Shryock, A.H. Robbins, N.G. Shaffer, Stephen Davidson, Jesse Shields, Stephen Davidson, Edward Calkins, Peter S. Troutman, George W. Bearss, John F. Fromm, Dr. Samuel S. Terry, Simon Wheeler, Arthur C. Copeland, A.D. Toner, W.I. Howard, Sidney R. Moon, William W. McMahan and Charles J. Loring.

Few counties in Indiana have better public buildings than Fulton County. The first courthouse was built in 1837 at a cost of $750. It was a 20x24 feet frame structure two stories high. By 1846 the building was inadequate and a new two story brick courthouse, 44x60 feet, was designed. The new courthouse cost $6,000 and was completed in two years. Again the county outgrew the building and a new one was ordered in Dec. 1894. The 100x112 feet two story stone structure was started in June of 1895 and cost $125,000. The first county jail was built in 1837 and served until 1851 when a new one was built. Fulton County also had a fine Poor Farm built in 1871. The original frame structure on this tract was supplanted in 1876 by a brick structure which served until after the turn of the century.

Information on this page comes from "Pictorial History of the United State, Fulton County Edition" published in 1895.

Return to Fulton County Page

Wendy Bower