History of Porter County, 1882County history published by F. A. Battey and Company . . . .

Source Citation:
Goodspeed, Weston A., and Charles Blanchard. 1882. Counties of Lake and Porter, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. Chicago, Illinois: F. A. Battey and Company. 771 p.







WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP dates its birth from the organization of Porter County in 1836. The name Washington is indicative of the sterling worth and patriotic principles of the pioneer settlers. William Morgan, from Wayne County, Ohio, is said to be the first white man to settle in what is now Washington Township. He settled on the northern part of the prairie that bears his name early in the spring of 1833. The other first settlers besides William and Isaac Morgan, with their places of nativity, were George B. Cline, Union County, Ind.; Adam S. Campbell, Chautauqua County, N. Y.; Reason Bell, Wayne County, Ohio. During the same year, Rufus Van Pool "pitched" a claim on what is now the Oaks farm. In the fall, the house of this man was destroyed by fire, and he was compelled to move his family back to La Porte County, but returned in the following spring, and remained until the land sale in 1835; after purchasing his claim at the Government price, he sold out to David Oaks. In 1833 or 1834, Jacob Coleman located and made improvements two miles southeast of Prattville. In 1834, James Blair "pitched" his claim near what is now called Coburg, and began to cultivate the soil, and to make improvements. During the same year, Isaac Werninger came into the settlement, and located on what is now known


as the Crumpacker form. Ruel Starr, the same year, occupied the Starr farm. In the spring of 1833, Samuel Flint and Seth Hull came into the township. Flint made the first improvements at Prattville. During the fall, Hull sold his claim to J. S. Wallace and left the settlement. Among these early settlers were found John Huntly, a Mr. Banner and a Mr. Johnson; these men being without families, did not locate permanently. In 1834, James Baun came into the township and purchased a farm, paying $450 for 160 acres of land. At this early date no roads were found in the township; these pioneers were compelled to follow the old "Sac trail," which passed near the present site of Valparaiso.

Early Homes. -- The "log cabin" of the early settlers was built, owing to the shortness of the timber, about 18x20 feet, and if more room was desired, two of these were built side by side with a door between; often they were placed some distance apart, the space between roofed over, and called a "stoop." The chimney was built of flat sticks, covered with what was known as "cat-in-the-clay," this being composed of straw or swamp grass, cut fine and mixed with the clay. The chimney was built upon the outside of the cabin, usually at the end. The roof was covered with "shakes," with "weight-poles" to hold them to their places. The inside of the cabin compared very favorably with the outside. Wooden pegs took the place of nails or hooks; the table and chairs, as well as the rest of the household furniture, were usually of home manufacture, and were necessarily of the rudest pattern. Whenever a house of this kind was to be built, the word was given out, and the settlers flocked into what was known as the "raising." The first house built in this way was a double log house, the property of Isaac Morgan. The house was built in 1884, situated on the outlet of Flint's Lake, in Section 16, and it is said that about thirty settlers were present, this number including nearly all the able-bodied men of the settlement.

The early settlers obtained their supplies at first from La Porte County, afterward from Michigan City; these supplies were hauled across the county with oxen. For several years the nearest flouring-mill was located at Kingsbury, where all the grinding of the settlement was done. The first crop planted was corn, followed by the other cereals now raised in the township. In one or two instances, farmers are said to have gone eighty or ninety miles, in order to obtain proper seed to plant in the soil of their new farms. At this early date, venison was one of the principal sources of food, the settlers depending largely upon this for their supply of meat. Hunting was one of the leading occupations, it being no extraordinary feat for one man to kill as high as 100 deer in one winter.

The first settlers who led the way were soon followed by others, and before the land sale, in 1835, a large number of settlers' cabins could be


counted. The raw prairie and wild woodland were being rapidly converted into beautiful farms and happy homes; better times were coming to the pioneers, who endured so many privations in order to secure comfortable residences. They were soon to reap the results of braving the Western wilds and leaving behind them the benefits and advantages of a fully developed country.

The first white child born in this township was Reason Bell, son of Reason and Sarah Bell, of Wayne County, Ohio, his birth occurring January 11, 1834.

The Indians. -- A village of about one hundred or more Pottawatomie Indians was situated near the present site of Prattville. Their burying-ground was located on what is now Harmond Beach's orchard. These Indians traded with the early settlers, bartering their furs for arms and ammunition; they also obtained the well-known "fire-water" that has ever degraded the poor Indian when brought in contact with it, and its vender, the white man. These Indians were of considerable annoyance, but never committed any depredations of a serious nature upon the whites. A story is related by the settlers how, at one time, two of the Indians, Wak-muck and Cha-nin-a-win, after having imbibed a sufficient quantity of whisky to make each one feel that he was the "big Injin" of the village, began quarreling, and finally ended in a fight to decide which should be the happy owner of two wives. Wak-muck came off victor. A short time after this, Cha-nin-a-win, while lying asleep under a tree, was shot by the treacherous Wak-muck. At first the white men of the settlement were inclined to take the matter into their own hands, but finally decided to leave to Indian justice the entire matter, which was to give to the squaw of the dead Indian several ponies and a considerable amount of furs, their law being that if such a crime was repeated by the same party, he must suffer death at the hands of his nearest relative.

The Indians remained here until 1836, when they moved to an Indian village near what is now known as Hebron, where they remained until about 1842, at which date they, with the rest of their red brethren, moved beyond the rolling waters of the Mississippi.

Organization. -- Up to the time of the land sale in 1835, the early settlers held what is known as a "squatter's claim.' The majority bought the land they occupied, while some of them sold their claims to other settlers. After the township survey, many of them found their land cut up by township lines and roads. One instance is given, in which John Coleman, Russell Brayton and Stephen Brayton found themselves occupying the same eighty acres of land.

The first township election was held at the house of Isaac Morgan, on the 13th of April, 1836, for the purpose of electing two Justices of the


Peace. The following-named persons voted at this election: Adam S. Campbell, David S. Holland, Benjamin Saylor, Levi Chamberton, John Saylor, Jacob Jorden, Seth Winslow, Warren Pierce, W. B. Smith, Andrew Ault, Reason Bell, George B. Cline, Wilson McLane, Frederick Yeager, Reason Reed, Joseph Todd, Michael Ault, Hiram Webster, Isaac Morgan, John Shinabarger, Henry Rinker, Daniel Drulinger, John Robinson, Warner Winslow, Isaac Werninger, Jacob Fleming, James Blair, Nelson Smith, Peter Cline, William Morgan, Anthony Boggs, Jesse McCord, John R. Sargent, Robert Fleming, Joseph Brewer and Clark Babcock. Isaac Morgan was appointed Inspector of this election; he returned the following report:

"We, the undersigned Inspector and Judges of an election held at the house of Isaac Morgan, on the 13th day of April, 1836, do certify that for the office of Justice of the Peace Henry Rinker received 23 votes. White B. Smith 20 votes and Peter Cline 17 votes."

A county election was held at the house of Isaac Morgan on the 23d of February, 1836, for the purpose of electing one Clerk, one Recorder, two Associate Judges and three Commissioners.

In the same year, it was ordered by the Board of Commissioners, that Adam S. Campbell and Reason Bell be appointed Overseers of the Poor for Washington Township; Peter Cline, Supervisor of Roads; George B. Cline and John Shinabarger, Fence Viewers, which last office was finally dispensed with.

Early Industries. -- In 1834, David Oaks kept a tavern near Prattville. He continued in the business for several years. During the years 1835 and 1836, a hotel was built about one mile north of Prattville. The building cost about $500 or $600. This tavern was owned and conducted by John Shinnabarger. The hotel was a two-story building, the other dimensions being 20x45 feet. The hall in the upper story was used as a ball room, where the young people of the neighborhood could meet and shake the "light fantastic toe" to their heart's content. The business of tavern-keeping was remunerative. During the years of 1834 or 1835, almost every day wagon trains could be seen wending their way over the rough roads toward the undeveloped West, where they expected to find room to build up homes of thrift and industry. There were no roads of any importance in the township up to this time. The first road was one that followed an Indian trail which passed through Prattville.

In 1835, Adam S. Campbell opened a boot and shoe shop on the farm now owned by his son. He brought his original stock from York State. In this shop, the boots and shoes of the settlement were manufactured. In 1835, Russell Brayton opened the first blacksmith shop in the township. It was located near Prattville. During the year 1852,


Edward Brown and Mr. Mills built a steam saw-mill at Prattville. The engine was of 25-horse power, and was obtained at Coldwater, Mich., at a cost of $2,000. It required a considerable amount of labor to bring the engine from Michigan City, but the task was at last accomplished. The frame work of the mill cost about $1,000, making the entire cost of the mill about $3,000, as near as can be remembered. The saw was a simple upright sash saw. This mill was purchased in 1835 by Daniel S. and Theron White. During the same year, the new owners added a small run of buhrs, one for grinding corn, the other for wheat. They also put in three bolts. This addition to the saw-mill cost about $1,000. The machinery was run by the same engine that was used for the saw-mill. This mill was completed so that in 1836 a fair article of flour was turned out. At the present writing, the saw-mill remains, much improved in capacity and machinery, but the flour-mill has long since been discontinued.

Prattville. -- In 1841, the village of Prattville was laid out by Thomas Pratt, who erected a blacksmith shop, also moved a small frame house about one mile, and improved it by additions, until it answered for a dwelling. The original owners of the ground on which Prattville was laid out were William Morgan and Peter and George Cline. The life of Prattville was destined to be short, and to-day the town exists only in name.

Taxation. -- During the year 1842, the entire tax paid by the residents of Washington Township amounted to $262.61. There were 13,824.86 acres of land, valued, together with the improvements, at $47,815. The total amount of taxable property in the township was $60,643. The total amount assessed was $705.79. Not more than two-thirds of this amount was ever paid into the county treasury.

Various Enterprises. -- In the year 1843, Reason Bell and Mr. King erected a tannery one and a half miles northeast of Prattville. This firm transacted a considerable amount of business, Mr. Bell furnishing the capital. Mr. King, being a tanner by trade, had charge of the work done in the tannery, and saw that the stock on hand was properly taken care of. This firm continued operations about two years. A considerable business was done here, and leather was shipped to various parts of the country. In 1845, the partnership was dissolved, Mr. King continuing to work at his trade in Michigan City. Mr. Bell continued in the business only long enough to sell the stock on hand. In connection with the tannery, a boot and shoe factory was put in operation, and was continued for some time, Moses Turner having charge of the factory. Mr. Bundy erected a saw-mill, in 1844 or 1845, on the outlet of Flint's Lake. This mill was situated about one and three-fourths miles east of Prattville. The frame for the mill was erected at a considerable expense, after which


Mr. Bundy began to dig the race. The work was carried forward across his own farm, but he was denied the right to dig the race across the adjoining farm, owned by Truman Freeman, and a law suit was the result. After having some trouble in regard to the matter, the enterprise proved to be a failure. The frame work to the mill was taken down and used for other purposes, while Bundy's mill never existed in reality, but was only known as one of the many things that exist only in name. In the year 1846 or 1847, a race track was built on the farm of Joseph Brown. While this track cannot be called an improvement of great importance, it was the means of bringing some good stock into the country, and eventually had something to do toward the organization of an agricultural society.

The office of Justice of the Peace was located on the farm owned by Adam S. Campbell, he being one of the two Justices whom the settlers felt it to be necessary to have, in order that justice might be meted out to all. This was after the first election in 1836. A grist-mill was built by Ruel Starr, on Crooked Creek, which was to be run by water-power, the wheel being a 24-inch turbine, the race being one and one-half miles in length. The mill was completed and ready for operation, but nothing more than a few bushels of corn was ever ground. The enterprise proved unsuccessful, although the mill cost $5,000. After the death of Mr. Starr, the mill was converted into a cheese factory by Mr. McGill. A considerable amount of cheese was manufactured here and shipped to Chicago, La Porte, Michigan City and South Bend. This factory was in operation for two years, when it was moved into Centre Township, where it yet remains.

In May of 1836, a license was granted to Andrew Ault to keep a tavern and to sell foreign and domestic groceries; he also sold liquor, paying for the license $10 per annum. This store was kept in a double log house, that cost about $25. As near as can be remembered, the store was opened in 1836 or 1837. The first stock of goods was obtained from Michigan City, .and cost in the neighborhood of $50. This store was kept open for a number of years, and was situated about three-fourths of a mile west of Prattville. The tavern furnished accommodations to the many wagon trains passing through this section, and was no unimportant item in the remunerative part of the business. In 1834 or 1835, a stock of goods was kept in the double log house belonging to Isaac Morgan. The stock was light, and was composed of such things as would best meet the wants of the early settlers. The store was conducted by Mr. Holland, who obtained his supplies from La Porte, and served as a mail carrier for the settlement. Jeremiah Hamell and Mr. Henning opened a store in George B. Cline's double log house; this was in 1836 or 1837.


Their stock was composed of dry goods and groceries, the value of which did not exceed $50. They traded extensively with the Indians, exchanging arms, ammunition and whisky for furs. They obtained their goods from Michigan City and South Bend. In 1837, Jeremiah Hamell (now deceased) moved to Valparaiso, where he is said to have been one of the first merchants. Stores of any importance must necessarily be located in villages or towns. For this reason, store-keeping has ceased to be a lucrative business in Washington Township, as there are no villages or towns of any note in the township.

Schools. -- The first school taught in the township was conducted by Mary Hammond in a log house, erected by A. V. Bartholomew, the teacher being paid by subscription. Four families were represented. The school was in session three months, during the winter of 1835 or 1836. The next school, as near as can be remembered, was taught by Thomas Campbell, in a log house on a farm owned by Mr. Kimmerer. This school was in session one term. The common branches were taught here, including arithmetic, reading, spelling and writing. These schools were taught in houses originally intended for dwellings. They were small, about 18x20 feet in size. The houses were warmed by huge fire-places, in which logs of considerable dimensions could be rolled without much difficulty, such being the advantages of the young seeker after knowledge in 1835 and 1836. The first schoolhouse built in Washington Township was probably the Morgan Schoolhouse, several old settlers to the contrary. This schoolhouse was built in 1836 or 1837; the Luther Schoolhouse was built about the same time; it is not known positively which one was built first. It is sufficient to say that among the first teachers are to be found the names of George Partial, Mr. Wakeman, Nancy Trim, Judge Talcott, Mr. Pepinger (as near as the name can be spelled), Mr. Van Hozzen, Lowring Hall and Dr. Pagan. The first schoolhouse was built of round logs at a probable cost of $25; the accommodations throughout were of the plainest quality. The wages paid to the earliest teachers were about $2 per scholar, or $10 or $12 per month; this sum was considered sufficient pay to the teacher who was required to wield the birch with sufficient force to overcome the unruly young man of twenty summers. It was one of the principal parts of school life to have spellings, and to bar out the teacher at Christmas; this was often difficult to do, as the roof was usually covered with shakes, with poles laid on to keep them down, so that it did not require a very great effort on the part of the teacher to find an ingress at almost any part of the house. In 1838, George Partial was barred out in this manner; being unable to effect an entrance for three or four days, he was finally compelled to treat. The treat consisted of "doughnuts" and such things as the kitchens of the neigh-


borhood could furnish. The treat was brought to the schoolhouse in a two bushel sack, and was made up of contributions from the parents of the children. The birch was used pretty freely in those days, as a gentle reminder of the duties and responsibilities resting upon the young aspirant.

The small log schoolhouse of 1836 has given place to the neat and commodious house of to-day. While at that time the township could boast of but one or two, now we find seven well-conducted schools in the township.

Churches. -- No churches have ever been built in the township, but the people used the schoolhouses for purposes of worship at an early date. As early as 1837, Lewis Comer preached in the Morgan Schoolhouse. It is said that a Baptist minister (name not remembered) preached in George Cline's double log house as early as 1835. The members of the Christian Church held regular meetings in the Morgan Schoolhouse. There were about thirty or forty members in attendance, but no regularly organized church. Among the earliest members of this congregation were Reason Bell, Mr. and Mrs. Rinker, White B. Smith and others whose names could not be obtained. There was no fixed salary for the minister, but the congregation paid him whatever they could give that would be of use to him or his family. It was customary for the members to gather together and give what was called a donation surprise party, in which the minister was often surprised by receiving many things that were of benefit to him. This township being situated near Valparaiso, the church-going people have found it more convenient to attend church in town than to build and maintain a church of their own, and for this reason no churches have ever been erected in Washington Township. The first Sabbath school in the township, as near as can be ascertained, was organized by D. C. White in 1856; the school was taught in the Morgan Schoolhouse. The school was small, and the Sabbath school library was limited to a few books such as would meet the wants of the children.

Washington Township is strictly an agricultural township, and is one of the richest in the county. It is difficult to realize the number and value of the improvements that have been made within forty years. The round-log cabin of the early settler has given place to the comfortable home and beautiful farms of to-day, while the advantages of the people are in no way inferior to those of any other portion of the State.



Transcribed by Steven R. Shook, February 2012


CSS Template by Rambling Soul