By Yorktown Demise
"The 128 year history of the village of Yorktown ended Monday morning with an act of the Tippecanoe County commissioners.
After satisfying themselves that no legal objections existed, the commissioners approved a declaration vacating 13 plats that make up the ghost town of Yorktown.
The declaration was drawn up by the three property owners--John and Aubrey Hoist, and Rosellen H. Shoaf.
They had asked that the lots be turned back to farmland so they could begin paying lower taxes on them. The lots are south of Stockwell on Indiana 28.
Thus Yorktown, recorded in 1841 by Daniel G. Corkins, returned officially to the agricultural state it had actually fallen into years ago. It leaves behind a couple of farm buildings and a fairly large cemetery containing the remains of some of Tippecanoe County's early settlers.
Yorktown was platted by Corkins at a time when towns were being laid out around the county - some to take advantage of the railroads and some to serve the Wabash & Erie Canal. Several were absorbed into other towns or intothe cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette, and a few never got off the drawing board.
The legal disappearance of Yorktown this week leaves three towns in the county that are still platted, but unihabited. They remain legal building lots, taxable as such, but without the buildings once planned for them.
Perhaps the most intriguing is Granville, laid out in 1834 just south of the present Granville Bridge in the western part of the county. Granville never amounted to much, but somebody had big plans for the place.
For instance the town was, and is, platted for 153 lots and a public square. At least ten streets were planned, and they were given such names as Lafayette Street, Wabash Street and Mulberry Street.
The undeveloped village of Granville is the biggest of the ghost towns, but there are two others in the southern part of the county, Beeville, platted in 1884 southwest of Clark's Hill, is still recorded as 10 lots and a reserve square on the Norfolk & Western tracks at County Road 600 E.
Once Beeville was inhabited, and Harvey O. Parvis, father of a Journal and Courier reporter, Byron Parvis, was born there.
The village of Corwin was laid out just west of Romney on the Monon Railroad tracks, and is still recorded as seven lots divided by an alley. Cyrus Foltz started the town in 1856, but it lost out to Romney.
They are the towns that survive in the records, but the county has been the site of a surprising number of towns that tried to become centers of commerce or transportation, and then disappeared altogether. The towns had such fascinating names as Cincinnatus, once platted on the Wabash River near the site of Fort Ouiatenon; or Texas, a village on the river northeast of Americus; or Florentine, on U.S. 52 directly east of Otterbein.
Some other towns that have faded back into the landscape were Columbus, on Haggerty Lane northeast of Dayton; Sidney, which was started in 1833 on what is now Indiana 26 West near Indian Creek; and Cleveland, at U.S. 52 and County Road 800 S., originally called Huntersville.
A town called Harrisonville was founded in 1834 by John Burget, but it later was absorbed by Battle Ground. Harrisonville was near the site of Battle Ground High School.
Other towns lived on, but under new names. If you live in Monitor, for example, your town originally was called Cynthyana. Residents of Transitville now call their town Buck Creek. Stockwell used to be Lauramie. And the village of Columbia, started in 1832 by Josiah Halstead and Kenny Ristine, finally changed its name to Romney.
A little to the west of Linnwood was the village of Fulton, at what is today Tenth and Ball Stretts. The town of Oakland once was a suburb of Lafayette, but today it's the area around Eighteenth and South Streets.
If you live south of Elmwood Avenue, around Twenty-Seventh Street, you're in what once was the town of Omeonta. At least that's what Fitch Stacy called it when he had it platted in 1857.
West Lafayette also is made up of several old towns that became victims of annexation. The heart of the city originally was called Chauncey, laid out in 1860, to which was added the village of Kingston in 1886. Kingston was north of State Street between Salisbury and Grant Streets.
Residents around Grant and Steely Streets near the new Purdue power plant inhabit what once was called Oakwood. The old Oakwood School took its name from that town.
But most of the villages have disappeared, remembered only in the names of some new subdivisions. Today farmers farm and hunters hunt across the sites once envisoned as Tecumseh, Gerard, Erie, Wyandotte, Sunberry, Taylorville, Clarksburg, LaGrange, and New Market. "
|Source: Lafayette Journal and Courier, March 4,
Written by Larry Schumpert, Staff Writer
Today All They Hear is Silence
"Shortly after the great city of Chicago began its existence in 1833, a few Tippecanoe County settlers decided they had something going that was almost as good.
So they jokingly called their country community "Little Chicago," and sat back to see which Chicago would go farthest. The outcome wasn't in doubt for long, and today the only remnant of Little Chicago is a newly-paneled house on Country Road 750 S. at Sleeper Road, not far from West Point.
Kermit Naylor and his family live there now, but as they improve the place its historical value declines. Naylor already has torn down the old barn and plans to demolish the salt house. He's also covered a room off the basement that more than a hundred years ago was used to hide Negro slaves traveling the Underground Railroad.
Little Chicago was just a few houses and stores, including a blacksmith shop, that went back to 1835. Some of the settlers were Quakers who built a school and meeting house down the road in 1851 that is still in use. It's the Farmer's Institute, and although the building is more than 100 years old, it is used today for worship and Sunday school.
One of the Quaker founders was Buddell Sleeper, who gave his name to the road and who lived in the house now occupied by Kermit Naylor's family. Some other residents of Little Chicago we Joseph Hollingsworth, Jonathan Baugh, and the Hawkins brothers--Joseph, James and Levi.
Despite its boastful name, Little Chicago was never a town, just a collection of buildings. Only Buddell Sleeper's home remains, owned by William S. Nesbitt of Dayton, and the paneling gives it a modern look.
A few years ago Naylor discovered some blacksmith tools while he was digging in the backyard. They probably came from the blacksmith shop and, along with the Sleeper house, are all that's left of Little Chicago.
Cincinnatus was recorded in 1830 at a spot that, a few years earlier, had been the terminal for a ferry across the river. The site was near the location of the original Fort Ouiatenon, near what is now County Road 350 W.
Today part of Cincinnatus is on property owned by E. M. Hinchman, a tax consultant who uses some of his land for a wildlife refuge. But Hinchman says he's been unable to find a trace of the town that once had several streets, including one called Broadway.
Cincinnatus was intended to be a river town, but the hope was short-lived. It probably was named for the Order of Cincinnati, a patriotic group formed after the American Revolution by officers who served in that war. The name Cincinnatus is that of the farmer who left his plow to defend the ancient city of Rome, and then retired victorious to his farm.
Some of the early settlers were Francis Sunderland, who operated the ferry service; David Patton, William Miller, and John McClelland.
Another town whose founders had high hopes was LaGrange, laid out in 1827 on the western boundary of Tippecanoe County. it was started by Isaac Shelby at a spot just north of the river, and a corner of the town was in Warren County.
Shelby and some friends dreamed of LaGrange as a rival for Lafayette, which had been started only two years earlier. But the decline of riverboat trade, along with the decision to build the Wabash Railroad on the other side of the river, ended any dreams.
Established on the Great Wea Plains, once the home of the Wea Indians, LaGrange got as far as building eight streets, a hotel, and even a short-lived post office. Some of its inhabitants were William Weigle Sr., who lived there late in the Nineteenth Century; Dr. Harvey Doubleday, and Dr. Simon Yandes.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about LaGrange was its name. The town was named for the Marquis de Lafayette's ancestral home in France.
Still another town that had a brief fling at fame was Granville, on the south side of the Wabash near today's Granville Bridge. Thomas Concannon laid it out in 1834 and for awhile the place was called Weaton, after the old Indian town that had been a few miles to the east.
Granville was on the old Wabash & Erie Canal, and when the railroad wiped out the canal it finished off Granville. But while it was alive the town had at least 15 blocks, including a public square.
Some of the old families were named Anderson, Buck, Doyle, Ellis, Markel, Roop, and Sharp. Their names survive in the only thing left of Granville--the cemetery. The old tombstones, bent by wind and time, look out over the Wabash River valley that brought so many people to this county in the last century.
Although the origin of Granville's name is uncertain, some people think it was chosen by settlers from Virginia or the Carolinas, where Granville is a common name.
Another cemetery that records a ghost town is the one at Yorktown on Stockwell Road just north of Indiana 28. Yorktown got its name from the five Caulkins Brothers who came from New York State and settled the town in 1841.
Some other early residents were Ransom Johnson, William Bartholomew and Nathaniel Barnes, the village carpenter. Later on came a wave of Swedes with names like Nicholas Bredberg and Gustave Swanson. They built a Swedish Methodist Church in 1873 that survived until 1936, when it was torn down.
Yorktown also had a school, and its biggest industry was the tannery and saddle shop owned by Samuel Yeoman. It was the only tannery in the county outside of Lafayette.
When the town was flourishing, Indiana 28 was called Columbia Street and Stockwell Road was Dayton Street. But the railroads missed Yorktown and it slowly died. Very slowly, in fact, because some buildings stand there today and the town remained platted until a few weeks ago, when the owners decided to return the lots to farmland.
Yorktown has been deserted a long time and is now only an intersection. Once it was among the county's most thriving towns. A photograph at the Tippecanoe County Historical Museum shows that Swedish church congregation gathered around the steeple-topped building, and there are more than a hundred people in the picture.
Today the gray cemetery stones stand around and hear only silence."
Source: Lafayette Journal and Courier March 29, 1969
Written by Larry Schumpert, Staff Writer
|Other Towns Not Listed in
These Articles Were:
Jackson township - Sugar Grove and Wheeler's Grove .
Lauramie township - Concord and Monroe
Perry township - Archerville and Heath
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