Henrietta Kouts, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Henrietta Kouts

MRS. HENRIETTA KOUTS. A pleasant and thriving town will always honor and perpetuate the name of a family whose members have been intimately identified with this portion of Porter county. Worthy citizenship, great personal industry, public spirit, and fine integrity have characterized the Kouts family, and no name is more deserving of continued esteem.

The late Barnhardt Kouts, who was the principal representative of the family here for half a century, was a native of the state of Pennsylvania, where he was born in 1835, a son of Barnhardt and Salome Kouts. The parents were both born in Germany, and brought with them to this country those sterling qualities which are so often associated with the German stock. The Kouts family were among the pioneers of Porter county, having located here before the railroad era and helping in the development of the resources of the country. In the possession of Mrs. Kouts there is now a parchment deed, bearing the signature of President James K. Polk and the date of 1848, giving title to government land of this county to the Kouts family.

How the town at the old homestead was founded and given its present name is described as follows. During the survey of the route of the Panhandle Railroad a townsite was selected on the main road from Valparaiso to the Kankakee river and one mile west of the present town of Kouts. After a hard day's work the surveyors were once returning and seeking lodging and food for the night. At the house nearest the site surveyed for the town accommodation was refused on the plea that the housewife had been making apple butter and could not entertain the party. Compelled to continue further, the surveyors next reached the Kouts place, where the good mother and her son Barnhardt with true German hospitality offered the best entertainment that they could provide for the tired travelers. The mother explained that she could not supply beds for all but would spread covers on the floor, and also gave them a warm supper and breakfast. In return for this entertainment and good will the surveyors declared they would establish the townsite on the Kouts land and give it the name of Kouts in memory of this night's hospitality. In this way originated the habitation and name now held by a thriving little town, and the incident reflects a pleasing honor on the family.

Barnhardt Kouts' first wife was named Bridget Neal, a native of England, who died in a year or so after their marriage. He later wedded Mrs. Henrietta Josephine Eadus. By her first husband, Maurice Eadus, she had one son, Charles T. Eadus, who was educated in the Kouts public school, then learned telegraphy, and became an operator for the Erie and Pennsylvania Railroads, but is now employed as bookkeeper for A. F. Knotts, the founder of Gary, Indiana. He married Miss Dora Anderson, of Lyons, Iowa.

Mrs. Henrietta Kouts, a kindly woman and highly honored resident of Porter county, whose name has been associated with charity and good works, was born in this county, the daughter of John W. and Elizabeth (Shuey) Wright, her father a native of Kentucky and the mother a native of Virginia, but both of them early settlers of Indiana. Nancy Shuey, an aunt of Mrs. Kouts, though she never had any children of her own, had the proud distinction of rearing twenty boys and girls to useful lives. John W. Wright, the father of Mrs. Kouts, was a progressive and public-spirited citizen and his name adorns the history of the bench and bar of Porter county. He also served in the offices of sheriff and county treasurer, in the latter office two terms. Besides Henrietta, the other children of his family were: Nancy, who became the wife of Albert Spencer; Elizabeth Crawford; Ann J. Hall; and Hilary, who was a hardware merchant and president of the bank at Kouts. The Wright children received their early education in the common schools, and Hilary and Henrietta finished at Valparaiso, after which they became successful teachers and taught in Porter, LaPorte and Jasper counties.

After his marriage Barnhardt Kouts located in the town of Kouts. Before the construction of the railroad through this point he was engaged in farming, but with the coming of the railroad he and his brother-in-law, H. A. Wright, established the first store and built the first house on the new townsite. Beginning with a small stock of groceries, they developed their trade throughout all the surrounding country, and Mr. Kouts would make regular trips to Philadelphia to buy his stock and brought into the store goods to the value of as much as five thousand dollars at a time. For sixteen years during his career as merchant he also acted as agent for the Pennsylvania railroad, but finally his increasing business obliged him to give up this position. The partnership was finally dissolved, and Mr. Kouts then erected a two-story building in which he continued his business. On January 1, 1893, a fire that originated in adjoining buildings wiped out his own property with a loss of eight thousand dollars, which was total since he had neglected to renew his recently expired insurance. This disaster was not sufficient to discourage a man of his character, and he at once resumed business in the little store rooms where he had begun his career as a merchant, and with the encouragement of his wife was soon rapidly recovering from his losses. Afterwards, on a prominent corner in the center of town, he erected the first brick business building in Kouts, and was in the past one of the prosperous and influential merchants and citizens. His death occurred on the 12th of April, 1903. Mr. Kouts was a kind neighbor and loving husband and father, and his career was honorable in all its experiences and achievements.

One son, Leon B., was born to Mr. and Mrs. Kouts. He received his education in the local high school and also at Valparaiso, and was then employed by the board of his home school as teacher. He made for himself an enviable record as teacher, business man and citizen. He was employed in railroad work at Joliet, was a clerk for the Illinois Steel Company at Chicago five years, after which he returned to his old home at Kouts and became one of the progressive young farmers of this vicinity. By his marriage to Miss Jessie Miller three children were born -- Kenneth Wright, Katy B. and Edith. Katy died when seven years old and Edith at the age of eight months. On the evening of November 12, 1911, in the midst of a hard wind storm, Mr. Kouts with his little son set out to carry a pail of milk to his mother's home, and on the way a limb torn from a tree by the violence of the wind struck him on the head and resulted in his death. The sudden death of this rising and influential citizen was a shock to the community in which he had been reared, and he left many friends to grieve over his loss.

Mrs. Henrietta Kouts with her grandson Kenneth alone remains as the representative of a family whose life and work have conferred honor and benefit upon this community. She is surrounded by many lifetime friends and neighbors who esteem her brave and loyal courage among the changing destinies of the world and her kindly activities in behalf of her home community. The years have passed her lightly, and she lives in fullness of energy and beauty of character. She and her husband many years ago adopted the principles relative to future life as advocated by Colonel Robert J. Ingersoll. At the death of her husband, the funeral service was conducted accordingly. A. F. Knotts, the well known lawyer of Gary and a warm friend of Mr. and Mrs. Kouts, delivered an impressive and well worded funeral oration, in which he paid tribute to the departed in his confident assertion that a man whose life had been so filled with honor and integrity of purpose and action could have no fear in facing the final hour and judgment.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 396-398

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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