History of Porter County, 1912County history published by The Lewis Publishing Company . . . .

Source Citation:
The Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Volume I.  Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company. 357 p.







Before the white man the Indian; before the Indian the Mound Builder. Who were the Mound Builders? Whence came they and wither did they go? These questions have enlisted the attention of ethnologists for many years, but they have never been definitely nor satisfactorily answered, and probably never will be. The earthworks and implements left by the Mound Builders show that they practiced agriculture, and that in some respects they were more civilized than the Indians found here by the white men.

The glacial drift has revealed human bones near the skeletons of mastodons, and this fact has led some of the early writers - notably Foster, Squier & Davis, Baldwin, Conant and Bancroft - to advance the theory that the Mound Builders constituted a race of great antiquity - a race that has been extinct for thousands of years. Later investigations have caused other ethnologists to arrive at the conclusion that the Mound Builders were the ancestors, and not so very remote either, of the Indians who inhabited North America at the time the continent was discovered


by Columbus. Among the representatives of this later school are Bishop Madison, Schoolcraft, Sir John Lubbock, Prof. Lucien Carr, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Cyrus Thomas of the United States Bureau of Ethnology.

All over that portion of the United States east of the Rocky mountains are scattered the mounds erected by this peculiar people. Mr. Thomas, in the Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, divides the country into eight districts, as follows: 1. Wisconsin including the state of that name; 2. Illinois and Upper Mississippi, embracing eastern Iowa, northeastern Missouri and northern and central Illinois; 3. Ohio, which includes the State of Ohio, the western part of West Virginia and eastern Indiana; 4. New York and the lake region of the central portion; 5. The Appalachian district, embracing western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and southeastern Kentucky; 6. The Middle Mississippi district, which includes southeastern Missouri, northern Arkansas, middle and western Tennessee, western Kentucky, southern Illinois and the Wabash Valley in. Indiana; 7. The Lower Mississippi district, including the southern half of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi; 8. The Gulf district which embraces all the Gulf states east of Mississippi. While the mounds in general bear a striking resemblance to each other in structure, etc., those of each district possess certain characteristics peculiar to the locality, indicating that the Mound Builders were divided into tribes or families, each of which followed certain customs not known or practiced by the others. Frequently the mounds take the form of birds, serpents or animals. This is especially true of the mounds of Wisconsin, in which the outlines of the deer, fox, lynx and eagle have been distinctly traced. Some writers think these effigy mounds were totems, worshipped by the people as guardians of the villages, but no inscriptions nor traditions have been found to tell how or what the Mound Builders worshipped, and the mounds themselves a tell a meager story.

One of the greatest effigy mounds so far discovered is the "Great Serpent Mound" in Adams county, Ohio. It is located on a bluff, which


is itself serpentine in form, overlooking Brush creek, and is 1,348 feet in length. The mouth of the serpent is open and directly in front of it is a low artificial mound, while in the vicinity are several burial mounds. From the fact that the serpent appears to have been a favorite form of effigy, Peet thinks that the serpent worship prevailed to some extent among the Mound Builders, but this, like other theories, is largely a matter of conjecture and speculation. About all that is definitely settled regarding the mounds is that some were erected for sacrificial purposes; some for signal stations or lookout towers, but by far the greater number mark the burial places of priests, warriors or rulers. In the Tennessee district, graves were often formed by slabs of stone set on edge and contained one or more skeletons. One mound, not far from Nashville, about forty-five in diameter, when opened was found to contain about 100 skeletons.

A large part of the Twelfth Annual Report of the United States Bureau of Ethnology is devoted to the Mound Builders and their works. On page 526 of this report Mr. Thomas, who had charge of the work, says: "Examining the maps of Indiana and Illinois, which are given together, we see that the works are confined principally to the eastern portion of the former and the western portion of the latter. In the eastern part of Indiana the rule of following the streams seems to have been to a large extent abandoned; especially is this the case with the cluster in the extreme northeastern corner and the belt commencing a little north of the middle of the state and extending down the eastern border to the Ohio river. This belt, which pertains to the group in southwestern Ohio, seems to be connected with the Wabash series by lines of works along the east and west forks of White river. The group along the Wabash is confined chiefly to the middle and lower portions of the valley."

From this quotation one would naturally infer that there are no mounds of consequence in the lake region of northern Indiana. This is true, in the main, but in the counties of Laporte, Porter and Lake there are abundant evidences that the Mound Builders once inhabited this


region. A few years ago Dr. Higday explored a group of some twenty mounds on a small tributary of the Kankakee some twelve miles from the city of Laporte. Among other things he found three skeleton - two adults and one child - one skull, two copper hatchets, a bear-shaped pipe, two copper needles, an earthen vessel filled with mould and pieces of tortoise shell, a few flint knives and pieces of galena and mica.

In Lake county there are several mounds along the shores of Cedar lake, from which several skeletons, pieces of lead ore, arrow points, etc., have been taken. About a mile south of Hobart are the remains of four mounds which have been almost leveled by cultivation. They have never been explored, but a stone hatchet and several small flints have been found in the immediate vicinity. From two mounds south of Orchard Grove have been taken portions of human skeletons, arrow heads and pottery, and on a "sand island" near by is the so-called "Indian Battle Ground," showing a low breastwork or artificial ridge of earth enclosing two sides of an area of some three acres of ground. Within the enclosure were about 200 holes resembling the rifle pits of modern warfare. Numerous skeletons have been found in this immediate locality.

Although Porter county has not been found so rich in prehistoric remains as some of her sister counties, one of the finest groups of mounds in northern Indiana lies within her borders. The original field notes of the United States land survey in 1834, mention the fact that the north and south line between sections 33 and 34, township 34 north, range 6 west, "passes over a large artificial mound surrounded by a number of smaller ones." A copy of the original plat now on file in the state auditor's office at Indianapolis shows this larger mound on the section line, with a group of nine smaller mounds surrounding it in a circle. This is the group of mounds located about a mile and a half east of the village of Boone Grove, on the south side of Wolf creek. At the present time there are eight mounds visible on an area of some thirty acres. The plat of the original survey above mentioned shows ten mounds, but it is possible that two of them have been obliterated by the plow. Seven of the mounds are situated on the high wooded ground


close to Wolf creek. The eighth, and largest, is in an open field near the northeast corner of section 33, township 34 north, range 6 west. It is about 100 feet in diameter and twelve feet in height. In the fall of 1897 the owner of the farm, John Wark, gave the state geologist the privilege of investigating the mound, and the result is thus told by Mr. Blatchley in his official report for that year. "A ditch was dug three feet wide, 32 feet long, and, at the center of the mound, 14 feet in depth. The mound was found to be composed of a compact, yellowish clay, in which were a few scattered pebbles of small size. In the exact center and ten feet from the crest, the earth became darker, harder and more compact. Six inches lower was a layer of black organic matter, in which were the remains of a very badly decayed human skeleton. It lay in a reclining position with its head to the south. Only a few pieces of bone and 14 teeth were removed, the remainder crumbling to dust. The crowns of the teeth were hard and solid, but the fangs for the most part crumbled like the bone. No implements of any kind were found, though the excavations were extended four feet lower and over an area 5x7 feet in the center of the mound."

Of the mound in the woods, the largest is the one near the creek. It is about seventy feet in diameter and ten feet high. On this mound are several black oak trees, one of which is about eighteen inches in diameter. The other six mounds vary from thirty to sixty feet in diameter and from six to eight feet in height. Four of the mounds were explored in the fall of 1897, but no skeletons or implements of any kind were found, charcoal and ashes being the only evidence that the mounds had been constructed by human hands.

Some years ago Hon. George C. Gregg excavated a mound near Cornell creek, about four miles east of Hebron, and found several skeletons. This mound was composed entirely of black earth which had been carried from the banks of the creek some 170 feet distant. From a mound south of Hebron was taken some pottery in a fair state of preservation. A little north of Woodvale, near the western boundary of the county and not far from Deep river, is a mound resembling a flat-iron in shape,


190 feet long, 75 feet in its greatest width, and rising to a height of 22 feet about the surrounding lowlands. Battey's History of Porter and Lake Counties (1882), says that near the apex of this mound "there is a well, which was formerly of enormous depth. The excavation is circular, and has a diameter of eight or nine feet. Into this well, the early settlers threw the debris of their clearings, with the intention of filling it up; but the capacity has been so great that it remains yet unfilled. Numerous small excavations in the adjacent soil and rocks have led to the conclusion that this was once a 'water-cure' establishment, and resorted to in ancient times for its baths."

Later geologists have expressed the belief that this mound is a natural formation, cut off at some period from the adjacent highlands by an overflow of Deep river. This opinion is based on observations that all the mounds in this region are composed of clay, while matter thrown out of this elevation by woodchucks for a depth of from eight to fifteen feet below the crest shows that it is composed of sand, which is the same as the highlands in the immediate neighborhood.

Several interesting collections of Mound Builders' relics have been made at times from those found in Porter county. The Valparaiso high school has a number of arrow points, spear heads, stones, axes, etc., but in many instances the specimens are unaccompanied by data as to when, where or by whom they were found. Dr. J. K. Blackstone of Hebron at one time had a large collection gathered in the southern part of the county, but this collection has become scattered. A number of fine specimens have been found in the vicinity of Boone Grove; near the southeast corner of the county was found some years ago a Celt formed of diorite about ten inches long and finely polished; and near by was discovered a cache containing over a peck of flint arrow heads.

At the beginning of the Nineteenth century the region now included within the limits of Porter county was inhabited by the Pottawatomie tribe of Indians. The Pottawatomies belonged to the Algonquian group, and were first met by the white men about the head and on the islands of Green bay, Wisconsin. It is known, however, that as early as 1616


they were one of the four tribes whose habitat was along the western shore of Lake Huron. The Jesuit Relation for 1671, in referring to the west coast of Lake Huron, says: "Four nations made their abode here, namely: those who bear the name Puans (i.e. Winnebago), who have always lived here as their own country, and who have been reduced to nothing from being a very flourishing and populous people, having been exterminated by the Illinois, their enemies; the Pottawatomi, the Sauk and the Nation of the Fork (la Fourche) also live here, but as strangers, or foreigners, driven by fear of the Iroquois (the Neuters and the Ottawa) from their own lands which are between the lake of the Hurons and that of the Illinois."

Bottineau says the Pottawatomies were known as the "People of the place of fire." Other authorities say that the Pottawatomies and Sauk together were called the "Nation of fire;" that after the former tribe became separated, that portion known as the Mascoutins or Maskotens - the prairie band - took the name "Nation of fire," and that it was never afterward applied to the remainder of the tribe. They were "The most docile and affectionate toward the French of all the savages," were naturally polite, resisted the encroachments of "fire water," were kindly disposed toward Christianity and manifested a willingness to adopt the customs of civilization. Polygamy was common among them and in their religion they believed in two spirits which governed the world - Kitchemonedo, the Great Spirit, and Matchemonedo, the Evil Spirit. The great ceremonial observance among them was the "Feast of Dreams," at which dog meat was the principal article of food, and during which a special or individual Manitou was selected.

Chauvignerie, wrote in 1736, says the chief totems of the Pottawatomies were the golden carp, the frog, the tortoise, the crab and the crane. Morgan divides the tribe into fifteen gentes, as follows: 1st, Moah (wolf); 2nd, Mko (bear); 3d, Muk (beaver); 4th, Mishawa (elk); 5th, Maak (loon); 6th, Knou (eagle); 7th, Nma (sturgeon); 8th, Nmapena (carp); 9th, Mgezewa (bald eagle); 10th, Chekwa (thunder); 11th, Wabozo (rabbit); 12th, Kakaghe (crow); 13th, Wakeshi (fox);


14th, Penna (turkey); 15th, Mketashshekakah (black hawk). In the Wabozo gens cremation was practiced to some extent, but as a rule the dead were buried in the earth. In the early '50s a sawmill was set up near the mouth of Sandy Hook creek in Boone township, and soon after it was started a number of old Indians visited the neighborhood to pay their respects to the graves of some of their ancestors. This led to the discovery of an old Indian burying ground some seven or eight acres in extent, located in section 21, township 33 north, range 6 west, a short distance north of the Kankakee river. After the departure of the Indian visitors, excavations were made and a number of implements, weapons, ornaments, images, etc., were found.

Prior to 1763 the Pottawatomies were loyal to the French, but after the peace of that year they became allies of the British. They took part in Pontiac's conspiracy and fought on the side of Great Britain in the Revolutionary war. They participated in the defeat of General St. Clair near the headwaters of the Wabash river on November 4, 1791, and when Major Hamtramck tried to make a treaty of peace with the tribe the next year the head chief declined, claiming that he was threatened by other Indians. Twenty-five Pottawatomie chiefs took part in the negotiation of the treaty of Greeneville, August 3, 1795. Soon after that treaty was made they moved westward and took possession of lands along the Wabash river, notwithstanding the opposition and objections of the Miamis, and by the beginning of the Nineteenth century they were in possession of the country about the head of Lake Michigan, extending from Milwaukee to the Grand river in Michigan, southward to the Wabash river, southwestward over a large part of Indiana and Illinois, and eastward across Michigan to Lake Erie. It was estimated that at that time the tribe had fifty populous villages in the above mentioned territory.

In the War of 1812 some of the Pottawatomies again took sides with the British. At a great Indian council held on the Mississinewa river in May, 1812, most of the tribal chiefs favored peace with the United States and the neighboring Indian tribes. Dillon, in his History of


Indiana (p. 484), reports a speech of one of the Pottawatomie chiefs in which the orator said: "We are glad that it should please the Great Spirit for us to meet today, and incline all our hearts for peace. Some of the foolish young men of our tribe, that have, for some winters past, ceased to listen to the voice of their chiefs, and followed the council of the Shawnee that pretended to be a prophet, have killed some of our white brothers this spring at different places. We have believed that they were encouraged in this mischief by this pretended prophet, who, we know, has taken great pains to detach them from their own chiefs and attach them to himself. We have no control over those few vagabonds and consider them not belonging to our nation; and we will be thankful to any people who will put them to death wherever found."

In reply to this, Tecumseh insisted that he had been misrepresented "to our white brothers by pretended chiefs of the Pottawatomie and others who have been in the habit of selling land that did not belong to them."

The Pottawatomies were among the first Indians to enter into treaties of peace with the representatives of the United States at the close of the war in 1815. Not long after these treaties were made a few adventurous white men began to encroach upon the Pottawatomie lands and a clamor arose that these lands be opened to white settlement. A few small tracts were reluctantly ceded to the United States by the tribe, but it was not until 1832 that all their lands In the State of Indiana were relinquished to the government. The first treaty of cession that included a part of what is now Porter county was concluded on the Wabash river, near the mouth of the Mississinewa, October 16, 1826. Lewis Cass, James B. Ray and John Tipton acted as commissioners on the part of the United States, and the treaty was signed by sixty-two of the chiefs and head men of the Pottawatomie tribe. That portion of the cession within the present limits of Porter county is thus described; "Begining at a point upon Lake Michigan, ten miles due north of the southern extreme thereof; running thence, due east, to the land ceded by the Indians to the United States by the treaty of Chicago


(August 29, 1820); thence south, with the boundary thereof, ten miles; thence west, to the southern extreme of Lake Michigan; thence with the shore thereof to the place of beginning."

At the same time and place the tribe ceded to the United States "a strip of land, commencing at Lake Michigan and running thence to the Wabash river, one hundred feet wide, for a road, and also, one section of good land contiguous to the said road, for each mile of the same, and also for each mile of a road from the termination thereof, through Indianapolis to the Ohio river, for the purpose of making a road aforesaid from Lake Michigan, by the way of Indianapolis, to some convenient point on the Ohio river."

The remaining portion of Porter county was ceded to the United States by the treaty of October 26, 1832, which was concluded on the Tippecanoe river "between Jonathan Jennings, John W. Davis and Mark Crume, Commissioners on the part of the United States, and the Chiefs, Headman and Warriors of the Pottawatomie Indians." The lands ceded by the tribe at this time are thus described in Article I of the treaty: "Beginning at a point on Lake Michigan, where the line dividing the States of Indiana and Illinois intersects the same; thence with the margin of said lake, to the intersection of the southern boundary of a cession made by the Pottawatomies, at the treaty of the Wabash, of eighteen hundred and twenty-six; thence east, to the northwest corner of the cession made by the treaty of St. Joseph's in eighteen hundred and twenty-eight; thence south ten miles; thence with the Indian boundary line to the Michigan road; thence south with said road to the northern boundary line, as designated in the treaty of eighteen hundred and twenty-six with the Pottawatomies; thence west with the Indian boundary line to the river Tippecanoe; thence with the Indian boundary line, as established by the treaty of eighteen hundred and eighteen at St. Mary's, to the line dividing the States of Indiana and Illinois; and thence north; with the line dividing said states to the place of beginning."

For this tract of land, now worth millions of dollars, the United


States paid the Indians an annuity of $20,000 for twenty years, gave them goods to the value of $130,000, and assumed an indebtedness of certain members of the tribe amounting to $62,412. The next day (October 27, 1832,) the Pottawatomies concluded a treaty with the same commissioners, relinquishing title to all their lands in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, south of the Grand river, and a few years later a reservation was set apart for them in what is now the State of Kansas. When the time came for their removal to the new reservation, some of them refused to leave the old hunting grounds and had to be expelled by soldiers. A portion of the tribe escaped into Canada and later settled upon Walpole island in Lake St. Clair.

A number of Indian trails passed through Porter county. The most noted of these aboriginal thoroughfares was probably the old Sauk trail, which ran from St. Joseph river via Laporte, Valparaiso and Crown Point to the Kankakee river in Illinois. Another important trail crossed the eastern boundary of the county near the line between townships 36 and 37, north, and pursued a course a little north of west until it crossed the Calumet river about a mile west of the present town of Chesterton. After crossing the Calumet it followed approximately the ridge to which Leverett has given the name of "Calumet Beach" and crossed the west line of the county about a mile south of the shore of Lake Michigan. The original survey, made in 1834 and 1835, shows in some portions of the county local trails, but as they were not carefully traced by the surveyors it is impossible at this late day to determine their sources or the exact direction they pursued. They were generally "short cuts" between Indian villages or from one water-course to another. The Wabash railroad follows closely one of these trails from Clear Lake to Morris in Jackson township; another local trail ran almost parallel to the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad a little north of Wheeler, and a third left the old Lafayette & Michigan City road n little north of Tassinong and ran in a southwesterly direction to Sandy Hook creek, where the surveyors ceased to trace its course. There was also an Indian trail from John lake in Jackson township to Long


lake in Liberty township. But, in the three-quarters of a century that have elapsed since the Indians gave up their lands, the trails have been obliterated, and within another generation or two both the trails and the men who made them will have been forgotten. The following poem by Hubert M. Skinner was published a few years ago in the Northwestern Sportsman:


"The Old Sac Trail, trod first by Indians, later by the explorers, and in early days the pathway of important military expeditions, followed the narrow strip of land between Lake Michigan and the swamp of the Kankakee, now covered by a network of railway lines, the greatest highway of commerce in the world. - Editor."

            My course I take by marge of lake or river gentle flowing,
            Where footsteps light in rapid flight may find their surest going.
            I hold my way through forests gray, beneath their rustling arches,
            And on I pass through prairie grass, to guide the silent marches.

            In single file, through mile on mile, the braves their chieftains follow,
            By night or day they keep their way, they wind round hill and hollow.
            From sun to sun I guide them on, the men of bow and quiver,
            And on I pass through prairie grass, as flows the living river.

            Where waters gleam, I ford the stream; and where the land is broken,
            My way I grope down rocky slope, by many a friendly token.
            The shrubs and vines, the oaks and pines, the lonely firs and larches
            I leave, and pass through prairie grass, to guide the silent marches.

            To charts unknown, in books unshown, I am no lane or byway.
            Complete with me from seat to sea the continental highway!
            I guide the quest from East to West - From West to East deliver,
            For on I pass through prairie grass, as flows the living river.


            The bivouac leaves embers black amid the fern and clover,
            And prints of feet the searchers greet, to tell of journeys over.
            The sun beats hot. I reckon not how sear its splendor parches,
            I onward pass through prairie grass, to guide the silent marches.

            The Red Man's God prepared the sod, and to his children gave it.
            His wrath is shown in every zone against the men who brave it.
            The righteous be, who follow me, and praise the Heavenly Giver,
            While on I pass through prairie grass, as flows the living river.

There is an old tribal tradition to the effect that at some period in the remote past the Pottawatomies, the Chippewas and the Ottawas were one people. In the early '40s, after the three tribes were removed to reservations west of the Mississippi, they made a request to be reunited, but the government declined to grant the request, probably because the combined strength of the three tribes would be so great as to render them a formidable foe in case of an Indian outbreak. In 1910 there were about 2,600 Pottawatomies still living. About two-thirds of them occupied a reservation in Oklahoma; the prairie band, numbering over 600, lived in Kansas; about 75 were in Calhoun county, Michigan, and some 220 lived in Canada.

Such, in brief, is the history of the once powerful Indian tribe that inhabited Porter county. With the relinquishment of their lands in 1832, the power of the Pottawatomies began to wane. After their removal to their reservation west of the Mississippi they seemed to lose energy and ambition, becoming satisfied to live upon the slender annuities doled out to them by the United States government, and

"The pale face rears his wigwam where the Indian hunters roved;
His hatchet fells the forest fair the Indian maidens loved."


CHAPTER I - General Features
CHAPTER II - Aboriginal Inhabitants
CHAPTER III - Settlement and Organization
CHAPTER IV - Internal Improvements 
CHAPTER V - Educational Developments
CHAPTER VI - Military History
CHAPTER VII - Township History
CHAPTER VIII - Township History (continued)
CHAPTER IX - The City of Valparaiso
CHAPTER X - Financial and Industrial
CHAPTER XI - The Professions
CHAPTER XII - Societies and Fraternities
CHAPTER XIII - Religious History
CHAPTER XIV - Miscellaneous History
CHAPTER XV - Statistical Review

Transcribed by Steven R. Shook, November 2011


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