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.







Joseph Bailly, the first white settler in Porter county, located upon the Calumet river in 1822. At that time no schools had been established within convenient reach of his cabin in the wilderness, and as soon as his daughters were old enough to attend school they were taken to a Catholic institution in the East, where they received an education far superior to that of most girls born as they were upon the frontier of civilization. Probably the first school in Porter county was taught at the dwelling of Jesse Morgan in the winter of 1833-34, but the name of the teacher cannot be ascertained. About that time there were a number of adventurers wandering through the frontier region, and as some of these men possessed a fair education they were in the habit of stopping at some place upon the approach of winter and organizing a school. When


spring came they would continue their journey, and in time their names would be forgotten. More than likely it was one of these migratory pedagogues who taught the school at Mr. Morgan's.

In 1834 a subscription school was taught in what is now Morgan township by Miss Orilla Stoddard, but the exact location of the school house - a log structure 12 by 14 feet - is a matter of some dispute. It was located on the Morgan prairie, convenient to the homes of Morris Witham, Henry Adams, William Billings and John Keller, who were patrons of the school.

The first school in Center township was taught in the summer of 1835 by Mias Mary Hammond. The school house was located in section 7, not far from the road now leading to Flint lake and Chesterton, and about a mile north of the fair grounds. The following winter a school was taught by the same teacher in Washington township, in a log house erected for the purpose by A. V. Bartholomew. Four families only were represented and the term lasted for three months.

In 1836, about a year after the organization of the county was completed, Ruel Starr, school commissioner, made the following report as 'to the condition of the school fund: 


From B. Saylor, collector of state revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Sale of Section 16, Town 35, Range 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


From money loaned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


From State revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


From surplus revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Surplus revenue from Seneca Ball, commissioner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


From sale of Section 16, Town 35, Range 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


From sale of Section 16, Town 36, Range 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


From Treasurer of State, poll tax for 1838 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Total receipts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Paid Isaac Morgan interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Loaned interest money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Notice of sale in Michigan City Gazette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


For books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Money loaned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Paid John McConnell interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Paid John McConnell surplus revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Paid John McConnell State revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Paid Gazette for notice of sale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Paid Phineas Hall for surplus revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Paid Phineas Hall State revenue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Michigan City Gazette, notice of sale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Total disbursements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


According to this report, there was, at the time it was rendered, a balance of $120.09 in the hands of the commissioner. It will be noticed that in the disbursements there is no mention of money expended for the erection or repair of school houses, or for the payment of teachers' salaries, a plain indication that up to this time no public schools had been established. Some of the early public records relating to the public schools cannot be found, and from those that can be obtained it is practically impossible to form any definite idea as to when and where the first school districts in the county were established, or who were the first teachers. About the time Mr. Starr made the above report, the first school in Liberty township was opened in a little log house in the Zane settlement, Mrs. Sophia Dye being the teacher. She had about fifteen pupils enrolled and received a salary of two dollars a week, raised by subscription. There is a tradition that a school was taught in Union township in 1836, in a log cabin near the place known as the "Hoosier Nest," but some say the school was not taught there until the following year.


In Boone township a log school house was built in 1837 and school was taught there that year. About the same time the first school was taught in Valparaiso by a man named Masters. It was in a small building which Dr. Seneca Ball had erected in the rear of his residence, and which was subsequently used by him for a wood house. A Miss Eldred, who was a sister of Ruel Starr's wife, Harry E. Ball and Sylvester W. Smith also taught school in this little building before it was abandoned for school purposes.

The year 1838 was one of considerable activity in the educational affairs of Porter county. Schools were maintained in all the neighborhoods where they had previously been established. A log school house, about 16 by 18 feet, was built in Jackson township, a mile and a half east of Jackson Center, and Jane Jones taught the first term there, receiving a salary of one dollar a week. Prior to this, however, a subscription school had been taught in this township in a private dwelling on section 26, about a mile and a half southeast of Clear Lake. In Pleasant township a log school house was erected on section 13, township 33, range 6, about a mile and a half west of the town of Kouts. The house was built by the cooperative labor of the citizens and at the first term in the fall of that year eleven scholars were enrolled.

Two school houses were built in Portage township in 1840;one on section 20, township 36, range 6, and the other in the southwestern part of the township. About this time, or a little later, Rev. James C. Brown opened a private school for young ladies on Jefferson street between Michigan and Franklin streets. This school was successively taught by Mr. Brown, Rev. H. M. Blackburn and S. L. Bartholomew, when it was discontinued for lack of adequate support. During the decade from 1840 to 1850 a number of new schools were established in various parts of the county, the public school fund became available, and the beginning of a public school system was inaugurated. The first school houses were nearly all log buildings along the sides of which one log was left out and the openings thus formed were covered with oiled paper in lieu of window glass to admit the light. Window glass in those days was a


luxury too great to be considered in the construction of the district school houses. A huge fireplace at one end furnished heat to the school room, the seats were usually formed of split saplings in which holes were bored with a large auger and pins inserted to form the legs, the desks were wide boards supported on pins driven into the logs and ran along the sides of the room. Here the pupils went at "writing time" to follow the copy written by the teacher at the head of a sheet of foolscap paper, and goose quill pens were frequently used. The three R's - "Readin', Ritin' and Rithmetic" - constituted the usual course of study, and the pupil who reached the "Rule of Three" in the last named branch was considered a fine mathematician. Yet it is quite probable that these early educational facilities were more appreciated and better utilized by the boys and girls than are the splendid opportunities by the graded school system of the present day.

In February, 1838, the Indiana legislature passed an act providing for the establishment and maintenance of county seminaries throughout the state, such institutions to receive their support through the appropriation of certain fines and penalties for the violation of law. The law made it the duty of the county commissioners to appoint trustees, who were to have general powers in the founding and control of such seminaries. Trustees were accordingly appointed in Porter county in the fall of 1838 "to receive and care for the county seminary fund until a sufficient amount had been accumulated for the establishment of such an institution." More than ten years passed by before the trustees felt justified in the attempt to found a seminary in the county. By 1849 the fund amounted to a little over $2,000, and the first steps were taken toward building a seminary, but a change in the board of trustees and some other causes delayed the matter until 1851, when a lot was purchased in Outlot No. 1, on the corner of Jefferson and Monroe streets, and a building erected thereon, the cost of lot and building being about S2,300. The seminary was a frame building, two stories in height, with three rooms above and two rooms on the ground floor. School opened in this building in the fall of 1851, with Ashley M. Pierce as principal


and Miss Eliza J. Forsyth as assistant. The upper story only was used, the rooms on the first floor not having been finished in time for the opening of the school. The enrollment was about 120. By the enactment of a new school law in 1839 the county seminary law was repealed and the county commissioners were required to sell the county seminaries. Pursuant to the new law, the commissioners of Porter county advertised the building and grounds for sale on the fourth Monday of July, 1853, one-tenth of the purchase price to be paid down and the balance to be paid in nine equal annual installments, the proceeds to go into the public school fund. On the day of sale the property was purchased by the school trustees of Valparaiso for $1,200, and the name of the institution was changed to the "Union School of Valparaiso."

The first term under the new. regime opened on October 31,1853. A short time before the opening of the school the trustees announced that the repairing and fitting up of the building had absorbed all the public funds, but that "as soon and as often as sufficient funds shall have accumulated, a three months' school will be supported entirely by those funds and made entirely free of charge to all." The school was divided into three grades. In the first grade the course of study consisted of oral instruction from the Bible, the English alphabet, reading in the first reader, spelling words of one and two syllables, oral arithmetic, oral geography, writing on slates and blackboards. In this grade Miss Fifield was the teacher. The course of study in the second grade embraced reading from the Bible and the first and second readers, orthography, mental arithmetic, practical arithmetic as far as the rule of three, geography, English grammar (commenced), penmanship, physiology for children, and Miss Marietta Skinner was employed as teacher. In the third grade the course of study was more advanced and comprehensive, including the Bible and rhetorical reading, orthography, universal geography, history, arithmetic, grammar, natural, mental and moral philosophy, chemistry, rhetoric, astronomy, physiology, mathematics, Latin, Greek, composition, declamation, etc. Ashley L. Pierce was at the head of the third grade and was also principal of the entire school. The tuition


in the first grade was $1.50 per quarter, in the second grade, $2.00, and in the third, $2.50, payable in advance. School was taught in this building for three terms, but on March 19, 1857, the institution was totally destroyed by fire.

Within a twelvemonth after the burning of the Union school building, the Methodist church started a movement for the establishment of a

school, and in the spring of 1859 work was commenced on the Valparaiso Male and Female College. The building was completed in time for the school to open on September 21, 1859, under the presidency of Rev. C. N. Sims, with 157 students in attendance. Associated with Mr. Sims were F. D. Carley, Mrs. Loomis, Mrs. Hall and Miss Moore as instructors. During the Civil war the institution experienced some hard times, but after the close of hostilities there was a revival of interest and


in 1867 the east wing was added to the building. Then, after four years of fluctuating fortunes, the college was abandoned in 1871. The old college building now forms part of the equipment of Valparaiso University.

Not long after the Male and Female College was projected by the Methodists, the Presbyterians bought a lot and organized the Valparaiso Collegiate Institute, the first term of which opened on April 16, 1861, with Rev. S. C. Logan as principal and H. A. Newell as assistant. This institution continued in existence until shortly after the Civil war, the building and grounds were sold to the city. The Central School now occupies the site of the old Collegiate Institute. The present graded school system in the city of Valparaiso was organized in 1871.

Valparaiso University, one of the most widely known educational institutions in the United States, had its inception in 1873, when H. B. Brown purchased the building formerly occupied by the Methodist Male and Female College and opened the Northern Indiana Normal School. Mr. Brown, who is still at the head of the institution, is a native of Mount Vernon, Ohio, and was educated principally in his native state. The first term of the Northern Indiana Normal School opened on September 16, 1873, with thirty-five students in attendance. Associated with Mr. Brown were M. E. Bogarte, Ida Hutchinson and Mantie E. Baldwin as instructors, and B. F. Perrine had charge of the boarding department. A recent announcement of the university states that in the beginning it was the object of the founders "to establish a school where rich and poor would have an equal chance; where work, not wealth, would be the standard; in fact, where all would have the advantages of the high-priced schools at an expense within the reach of those having the most modest means. In order to accomplish this it was necessary: 1. That the instruction should be of the highest order. 2. That, in order to save time, the school should be in session the entire year. 3. That everything that would in any way detract from actual school work should be eliminated. 4. That the work should be thoroughly practical. 5. That the equipment should be complete. 6. That students should be permitted


to enter at any time, select their studies and advance as rapidly as they might be able. 7. That the expenses should be the very lowest."

When Mr. Brown opened this school in 1873, it was his ambition to establish an institution that would rank among the best of its kind in the country, but it is quite probable that the university of 1912 is far greater in scope and importance than he anticipated forty years before. The thirty-five students enrolled in 1873 have grown to nearly 6,000, and the four instructors to a faculty of nearly 200 members. It is said that when the attendance reached 200, Mr. Brown remarked to a friend in Valparaiso that he had hopes the number would be increased to 1,000 within a few years, but that he did not expect it ever to go much beyond that. At the time the school was organized, the old college building stood upon a "commons," some distance from the main part of the city. The rapid increase in the number of students as the school increased in popularity made it a matter of considerable difficulty to find quarters for them. Rooms were taken in private residences, often at inconvenient distances from the school and even these accommodations were soon found to be inadequate. This led to the erection of the dormitories and boarding halls. The Valparaiso Messenger for April 13, 1882, noted that there were then nine new buildings going up on College Hill. During this period of development, Mr. Brown at times suffered the severest financial embarrassment. Attendance increased more rapidly than did the revenues of the school, making necessary the erection of new buildings and the purchase of new apparatus in order to maintain the high standard adopted at the start. Under the provisions of a state law, the county of Porter came to his relief to the amount of $10,000, and the city of Valparaiso bought from him the college buildings for $12,000, giving him the privilege of redeeming them within ten years, without payment of interest. It is needless to say that the buildings were redeemed. With the $22,000 received from the city and county in this manner the financial stress was relieved and the school placed upon a secure footing.

Of the twenty-nine departments the most important are probably the preparatory, teachers', scientific, liberal arts, engineering, modern



language, law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, commercial, kindergarten, fine arts and manual training. There are also departments in literature, shorthand and typewriting, elocution, oratory and physical culture, music, and a review department for those familiar with subjects and merely wish to "brighten up." With the exception of the medical and dental departments, the entire university is at Valparaiso. The medical and dental departments are located in Chicago, because better clinical facilities can be obtained for such schools in a large city. The law department was added in 1879, the commercial department in 1882, the school of pharmacy in 1893, the medical school in 1902, and the last department to be established is that of dentistry. The addition of new departments and the constant increase in the number of students made it advisable to change the institution to a university. This was done about 1907, and the institution, regularly charted as a university, confers upon its graduates the usual degrees.

In a few respects the Valparaiso University differs from other schools of its class in the country. First is the entire absence of Greek-letter fraternities, hence the rivalry between the fraternity man and the "barbarian" that so frequently proves a source of annoyance in other schools is here eliminated. Second, Valparaiso does not engage in athletic contests with other universities. Among the students of the institution athletics are encouraged and there are frequent games of base or foot ball between teams belonging to different departments, but athletics have never been permitted to interfere with the class work of the students. Third, the low cost of living among the students of the university. In the dormitories and dining halls belonging to the school, one may find a comfortable room and board for from $1.75 to $2.75 per week, and the management advertises tuition, room and board for one year of forty-eight weeks at a cost not to exceed 141.60. This low cost of living comes through the system of buying food products in large quantities directly from the producers or wholesalers, for cash, reducing the waste to a minimum, and employing student help as much as possible in such occupations as waiters, etc. Literary societies take the place of frater-


nities, and there is an annual lecture and entertainment course which furnishes both amusement and instruction to the students, always, with a view to the maintenance of a high moral standard. Mr. Brown has been called an autocrat, but in the management of his school he has never insisted upon the students' observing any system of iron clad rules. He does what he can to assist them in maintaining their self-respect, leaving them to be their own judges as to the minor details of behavior or personal habits. Consequently a large majority of the student body discountenances rudeness or dissipation, and it is quite certain that in no school with a similar number of students is there a purer moral atmosphere than at Valparaiso.

George Kennan, in McClure's Magazine for March, 1908, in writing of this university, says: "It is difficult for one who is not an educational expert to form a trustworthy judgment with regard to the real value and solidity of the instruction given in an institution that carries on its rolls the names of five thousand students and that has more than three hundred recitations every day; but after watching the work in the laboratories, listening to lectures and recitations in scores of class-rooms, visiting the Medical College and College of Dentistry in Chicago, and availing myself generally of all the means of obtaining information open to me, I reached the conclusion that the Valparaiso University meets and satisfies one of the most urgent needs of American life; and that 'by fitting a large number of persons to discharge the duties of their several callings' it successfully attains the objects that its founders had in view when they opened a small school, with three departments and four instructors, thirty-four years ago. A student might carry his educational training much further in Yale, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, than he could in Valparaiso; but thousands of ambitious young men cannot afford to go to the more expensive universities, and Valparaiso gives them what they want at a cost within their means. It does not turn out great scholars or savants, and does not attempt to train men for profound and epoch-making investigations in any field of scientific research; but it does give thousands


of young men and women an adequate preparation for the duties and activities of every day life, and thus helps to raise the standard of citizenship and extend the area of prosperity, happiness, and general well-being."

In the above extract Mr. Kennan has described in a nutshell the character of the Valparaiso University. The education imparted at the school is of the practical, every-day type, and the policy of the management seems to be "liberal expenditures for efficiency and comfort, but none whatever for luxury or show." Hence, in carrying out this policy, the instructors receive good salaries, the class-rooms and laboratories are fully equipped with all the necessary apparatus and materials for successful investigation, the library of some 13,000 volumes is purely a "working" library, the furniture in the school rooms, dormitories and general office is plain and substantial, but nowhere is there anything that could be considered a display of ostentation or wealth, merely for the sake of the display.

Prior to 1880 the school was the sole property of Mr. Brown. In that year Prof. O. P. Kinsey acquired an interest and is now the vice-president of the institution. Both these men are tireless workers in behalf of the university, and they have built up an institution of which the people of Porter county and the State of Indiana may justly feel proud. More than one-third of the county superintendents of the Indiana public schools are graduates of Valparaiso, and perhaps one-half of the teachers in the state attended the school at some time. Except in the departments of medicine and dentistry, students can enter at any time. In the medical and dental colleges the student must enter at the opening of the college year or within ten days thereafter. To quote again from the magazine article by Mr. Kennan: "The Valparaiso University, as it stands, is virtually the property of H. B. Brown and O. P. Kinsey. They created it and to them it belongs. They choose to regard themselves, however, as trustees for the people, and they have already made arrangements to bequeath the property to the people when they die. It will be as noble a monument as two men could have, because it will


represent a half century or more of fruitful thought, patient labor, and unselfish devotion."

When Rev. M. O'Reilly took charge of the Roman Catholic parish of St. Paul's at Valparaiso in 1863, he found his people without the educational facilities prescribed by the church, and at once set about the establishment of a parochial school. Some delay was experienced in getting possession of the old church building, but as soon as possession was obtained Father O'Reilly opened a day school in it. His next effort was to erect a building especially adapted for school purposes. The Catholic population at that time was comparatively small and many of the parishioners were poor financially, but Father O'Reilly persevered in his work until a school building costing $8,000 was finished, though the only contributions he received amounted to but $35. As soon as the building was ready for occupancy a school was opened with three teachers, and from that time to the present school has been taught there every year. With the increase in population, Father O'Reilly found it somewhat expensive to employ secular teachers and began making preparations to secure the services of a religious order of teachers, especially equipped for the work. He erected a suitable dwelling for such teachers, the members of the congregation contributing liberally for the purpose, and in 1872 the Sisters of Providence were placed in charge of the school, opening their first term in September of that year. In 1912 the school was under the supervision of Rev. W. S. Hogan, pastor of St. Paul's parish, five teachers were employed, and the school enrolled about 115 pupils. A parochial school has also been maintained by the Catholic church for many years at Chesterton.

Along in the '50s a number of Germans settled at Valparaiso and in the immediate vicinity. Most of these people were members of the Lutheran church. In 1865 a building was erected at the northeast corner of Pink and Academy streets, to be used for religious worship and as a school house. A school was opened in this house in the fall of that year by Rev. C. Meyer, who had recently been called as pastor of the little congregation. This school has been maintained since that time and is


well attended by the children belonging to the Lutheran families of Valparaiso. According to the report of the county superintendent of public schools for the year 1911-12, there were 261 children enrolled in the parochial schools of the county.

About that time the graded school system was introduced in the county, the teacher's institute also became a factor in the educational development of the State of Indiana. Under the law establishing the county institute, the teachers who attended were given credit upon the license certificates. The attendance of the teachers' at the county institute led them to become personally acquainted, ideas were interchanged, and from the instructors they learned the lessons necessary to apply a uniform method of teaching. By this means a great benefit was reflected upon the patrons of the common schools who might find it necessary to remove from one school district to another. Instead of the old haphazard, "go as you please" style of teaching, the work was now done in accordance with a graded system, so the pupil who left one school to enter another could soon be correctly placed in classes where he could go forward with his work as though it had not been interrupted by removal. Commissioner Harris, of the United States Bureau of Education, has said that Indiana has the best and most effective system of common schools in the world. The Porter county schools, as a part of this great system, have kept pace with the educational progress of the state, and the county and township institutes have played no small part in elevating the standard of education in the public schools of the county.

At the county institute of 1881 the Porter County Teachers' Association was organized with Prof. M. L. Phares as president; Miss Kate B. Cronacan, secretary; Miss Lizzie O'Reilly, assistant secretary. The next meeting of the association was held on August 24, 1882, while the county institute was in session. Professor Phares and Miss Cronacan were re-elected, and S. E. Brayton was chosen treasurer. A committee of three - Professor Banta, Superintendent Porter and Miss Hewitt - was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws. There the history


of the organization seems to have come to an untimely end, as the writer has been unable to find a copy of the constitution, if one was ever adopted, or to learn what became of the association.

During the school year for 1911-12 the Valparaiso city schools employed thirty-six teachers, to wit: seven in the high school; eleven in the Central Building; seven in the Columbia Building; seven in the Gardner Building, and four special teachers in manual training, domestic art, kindergarten and music. The city board of education was composed

of P. W. Clifford, president; J. R. Pagin, secretary; J. E. Roessler, treasurer; A. A. Hughart, superintendent; Lu S. Brooke, clerk. The county board was made up of Fred H. Cole, county superintendent, chairman; P. W. Clifford, president of the Valparaiso city board; and the trustees of the several townships, as follows: Ernest E: Dilley, Boone; John W. McNay, Center; Frank L. Beach, Jackson; Charles G. Turk, Liberty; John W. Freer, Morgan; William H. ,Goodwin, Pine; W. N. Anderson, Pleasant; C. E. Fifield, Portage; Lewis W. Stevens, Porter; W. O. McGinley, Union; E. D. Cain, Washington; A. R. Gustafson, Westchester.


John W. McNay was secretary of the board and B. F. Breyfogle, truant officer.

Outside the city of Valparaiso, commissioned high schools are maintained at Wheeler, Hebron and Chesterton; a certified high school at Crisman; three years' high schools in Jackson township at Center and in Porter township at Boone Grove; a township high school in Washington township, and a grammar school at Porter. Center township has six school districts; Union, seven; Liberty, seven; Jackson, seven; Portage, four; Boone, five; Westchester, seven; Porter, eight; Pleasant, five; Washington, five; Morgan, seven; Pine, five. This is exclusive of the high schools above mentioned, and one teacher is employed in each district school. Including the superintendents of the several high schools, there were employed during the school year 1911-12 a total of 110 teachers in the county and city of Valparaiso. The average daily wage of these teachers was $3.38. The total enrollment in the county was 4,002, out of a school population of 5,882, or a little less than seventy per cent. The estimated value of the public school property in the county wm $359,725, and the total amount paid for teachers' salaries for the year was $94,906. The sources of tuition revenue were as follows: 

Local taxation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Common school interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Congressional interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Liquor license . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Surplus dog fund . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




This fund distributed pro rata among the school population would make the cost of tuition a little less than $1.62 for a school term of 178 days - that being the average length of term in Porter county for the year ending in May, 1912 - or less than one cent per day for each pupil, had the entire school population been in attendance upon the public schools. Under such conditions a good common school education does not


cost much, and there is no excuse for people to allow their children to grow up in ignorance in a community where the public schools of a high standard are maintained, as they are in the county of Porter.

While the common schools, the academies and the universities are the chief educational agencies, there is another factor that wields a force in the distribution of information among the people. That factor is the press. Porter county, being situated within easy distance of the city of Chicago and connected with it by several lines of railroad, has easy access to the great metropolitan dailies of that city. And since the introduction of the rural mail delivery system, practically every denizen of the county can have his daily paper. Besides these great metropolitan papers, the local press has played an important part in the dissemination of information among the people of the county. The first newspaper in the county was a small folio, about 12 by 16 inches in size, called the Republican. It was started in 1842 by James Castle, who bought a small hand press and a meager supply of type from Solon Robinson, of Lake county, and removed the outfit to Valparaiso. It was "devoted to the dissemination of independent political views and the diffusion of general knowledge." Compared with the newspapers of today the Republican was an insignificant sheet, but it was successfully conducted by its founder for about two years, when it was sold to William M. Harrison, who changed the name to the Western Ranger. Mr. Harrison also changed the political policy of the paper and published as a straight Democratic advocate. On April 24, 1847, William C. Talcott acquired an interest in the Ranger and a new series was begun. By this time the paper had been increased in size to a five-column folio, and under the new management the subscription price was fixed at $1.00 per year, if paid in advance, and if not paid within six months, $1.50. Although Mr. Talcott was a Free-soil Democrat and his partner was a Whig, with leanings toward the Abolitionists, their political views did not interfere with their personal relations, which were always pleasant. There is little doubt, however, that the difference of opinion had its effect upon the policy of the paper. In June, 1849, Mr. Talcott purchased his partner's


interest, and on July 25, 1849, announced the change of name to the Practical Observer, the first number of which appeared the following week. Within a short time the paper was enlarged to a seven-column folio and the name Valparaiso Practical Observer was adopted, subscription price, $1.00, per year, if paid in advance, or $2.00 at the close of the year. In March, 1852, the word Valparaiso was dropped from the name. In January, 1853, the paper was made a tri-weekly, published on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. In addition to these issues the regular weekly edition was on Thursdays, and subscribers received the whole four papers for the price of one subscription, which remained the same. The paper was reduced in size, however, to a five-column folio.

On September 3, 1853, Mr. Talcott began the publication of a small daily - the first daily paper in the county - and the daily, tri-weekly and weekly were furnished to subscribers for $5.00 per year. Near the close of the year the subscription price was changed to $5.00 for the daily, and $1.50 each for the semi-weekly and weekly, the tri-weekly being discontinued. The Observer began the year 1854 as a six-column, four page paper, and in the issue of January 5th the publisher claimed: 1. That it was the largest paper in the State of Indiana; 2. That it was the largest paper in the world published in so small a town; 3. That it was the only semi-weekly paper in the world published either in so small a town, so sparse a country, or at so low a price. He further chimed that the Observer published more faithfully and impartially than any other paper, all the local and general news, free from personal vilification, and in the interest of "true Democratic principles as laid down in the Declaration of Independence." During the next two years Mr. Talcott had several assistants, but none of them remained for any length of time. Early in 1857, Mr. Talcott having been elected to office, he sold the paper to Dr. R. A. Cameron, announcing the sale in his valedictory, April 7, 1857. At that time the Republican party was just making its appearance, and as Dr. Cameron was an exponent of the principles of that party, he determined to change the name of the paper to agree with his


political faith. Accordingly, he issued, on April 14, 1857, the first number of the Valparaiso Republican. The following September J. F. McCarthy became associate editor and continued in that capacity until March 23, 1858, when he was succeeded by Thomas McConnell, who is remembered as a vigorous and forceful writer. On July 29, 1858, Dr. Cameron sold the paper to Mr. McConnell and Henry W. Talcott.

William C. Talcott, who had been so long associated with or owner of the paper, bought an interest on October 14, 1858, and early in the succeeding year a new series was commenced, consisting of a one-page daily, a four-page semi-weekly, and an eight page weekly. This arrangement continued until March, 1859, when Dr. Cameron again purchased the paper and took as an associate J. C. Thompson. The latter remained with the paper until March, 1860, the name in the meantime having been changed to the Republic, September 8, 1858. With the first call for volunteers in 1861, Dr. Cameron offered his services to his country, and the issue of April 25, 1861, bears the name of E. R. Beebe as editor and proprietor. It does not appear that Dr. Cameron relinquished the ownership, for in August the Republic bore the names of McConnell, Cameron and Beebe as editors. It is said that Mr. Beebe bought the paper, but was unable to meet the payment of his notes according to agreement, McConnell then purchased the paper, but met with no better financial success than did Mr. Beebe, and in April, 1862, Dr. Cameron's wife assumed control and installed Mr. Beebe as editor. This arrangement lasted until December 11, 1862, when Mr. Beebe severed his connection with the paper, which was then advertised for sale by Mrs. Cameron. No purchaser appeared and Mrs. Cameron continued to get out the paper regularly, with the assistance of her husband, who during all these vicissitudes had been "corresponding editor," sending home from the front long, interesting letters regarding his army experiences and the "progress of the war." On June 18, 1863, Aaron Gurney became joint editor and the paper continued on a somewhat erratic and uncertain career until in December of the same year, when publication was discontinued.


Upon being mustered out of the service, Dr. Cameron returned to his home in Valparaiso and on January 4, 1886, revived the Republic. Just twenty days later appeared the first number of the Porter County Vidette, Gurney & Pomeroy, proprietors. In May, 1866, Thomas McConnell again became associated with the Republic as joint editor and publisher, and in November the entire plant was sold to Gilbert A. Pierce, who almost immediately afterward sold it to the publishers of the Vidette. The two papers were then consolidated under the name of the Vidette and Republic, with Aaron Gurney as general editor. The same month, November, 1866, Mr. Pierce started a new paper called the Republican, with Orrin E. Harper & Co., publishers, J. Harper, associate editor. After several changes in the editorial staff, this paper was merged with the Vidette and Republic in July, 1868, Mr. Pierce becoming joint editor with Mr. Gurney. On June 4, 1874, the paper was purchased by William C. Talcott, who soon afterward dropped the first part of the name and continued the publication as the Vidette, under which name it is still running, John M. Mavity being the editor and proprietor, though several changes in ownership and editorial management have occurred since 1874.

In June, 1856, a man named Berry began the publication of the Porter Democrat, which he conducted until February 17, 1857, when the outfit was sold to Rock & Jones. The paper was a six-column folio, and the subscription price was $1.50 in advance, $2.00 at the end of six months, and $2.50 at the end of the year. Rock & Jones were succeeded by H. P. Lynch, who sold out to B. D. Harper in December, 1858, and soon after that S. R. Bryant became associate editor. R. C. Nash succeeded Harper, and later became the sole proprietor. The last number of the paper was issued on November 22, 1860. Shortly after that Rock & Bryant began the publication of the Porter Gazette, but it was a short-lived affair, only a few numbers being issued.

The suspension of the Porter Democrat left the county without a Democratic paper until 1871, when Engelbert Zimmerman started the Valparaiso Messenger. Mr. Zimmerman was an experienced newspaper


man and soon placed the Messenger on a paying basis. In August, 1881, H. B. Brown, principal of the Northern Indiana Normal School, purchased a half interest, but the demands of the school were too pressing to permit of his becoming an active journalist and he withdrew. In 1891 a daily edition was started. The Messenger is still running as an afternoon daily and weekly, Arthur F. Zimmerman being editor and proprietor.

The first number of the Hebron Free Press was issued in September, 1878, by H. R. Gregory. It was an independent paper in its political views. Mr. Gregory continued at the head of the paper for about a year, or until in October, 1879, when he sold out to W. H. Mansfield, who changed the name to the Local News. The following year the office was removed to Lowell, Lake county. Hebron was then without a newspaper until in 1894, when the News began its career as a weekly Republican paper, published every Friday. After several changes in ownership and management it became the property of A. R. McAlpin, who is still running it with fair success.

In 1875 the students of the Normal School (now the Valparaiso University) commenced the publication of the Normal Mirror, which continued for about three years, when it was superseded by the Northern Indiana School Journal, with W. J. Bell as editor. A few other attempts have been made to establish publications in connection with the university, but none of them has been successful. The College Current was published for a while in the '90s by Garret W. Doty, and from 1905 to 1910 there was a journal published under the auspices of the students and known as the College Herald.

In 1881 the Valparaiso Herald made its bow to the public. It was edited by P. O'Sullivan, was full of news and met with favor apparently, but after two or three years it passed out of existence. The next journalistic undertaking was the Valparaiso Star, which was started as a small daily by James A. McConahy in September, 1889. After running it as a daily for about two years, Mr. McConahy changed the paper to a weekly and in this form conducted it successfully until 1898, when he sold it to


the Vidette, the first number of the Star-Vidette being issued on September 22, 1898. At that time Mr. Doty, who had been the publisher of the College Current, was connected with the paper. When Mr. Mavity came into possession of the paper on September 18, 1903, the word "Star" was dropped from the name. Soon after the consolidation of the Star and the Vidette, Mr. Doty secured the outfit formerly used by Mr. McConahy and began the publication of the Journal, which was soon afterward sold to Charles Martin. The venture did not prove successful from a financial standpoint, and the project was soon abandoned.

The Chesterton Tribune began its existence on October 28, 1882, when the first number appeared with W. W. Mikels as editor. It then passed into the hands of a company of which John T. Taylor was president. In June, 1884, A. J. Bowser and S. D. Watson acquired possession and ownership, but on September 24, 1884, Mr. Watson withdrew, leaving Mr. Bowser sole proprietor. It is recognized as one of the best local papers in northern Indiana, full of news of a bright and sparkling character and given a circulation that is much larger than is usually accorded to papers published in towns the size of Chesterton. In June, 1912, there were but four newspapers published in the county, vix the Vidette and Messenger, of Valparaiso; the Chesterton Tribune, and the Hebron News, accounts of which are given above.

After the schools and the press, the public library probably stands next in importance as an educator. On February 17, 1838, the governor approved an act of the Indiana legislature providing that, whenever a certain amount of money had been subscribed or pledged, the people of any county or city might organize a library association. In the summer of that year, the requisite sum of money having been subscribed, a meeting was called for the purpose of organizing the "Porter County Library Association." The exact date of this meeting, or who constituted the first board of trustees, cannot be ascertained, but an old undated record of the board shows that the librarian was to be allowed ten dollars per annum for his services, and that the following by-laws were adopted:


"1. That none but subscribers shall be allowed to read the books, or to draw any of them from the said library.

"2. That any volume of 300 pages or under may be drawn for one month by any subscriber.

"3. That any volume over three hundred pages and under 500, may be drawn for two months by any subscriber.

"4. That any volume over 500 pages may be drawn for three months.

"5. That the Librarian shall mark each book, showing the length of time said book may be drawn.

"6. That any person keeping a book over the time marked as the period for which it may be drawn, shall forfeit the sum of five cents for every week it may be kept over said time, and that any fractional part of a week shall be considered as a week, and the fine collected accordingly.

"7. That no person shall draw more than one volume at a time, and after a subscriber shall have drawn a book, he shall not be allowed to draw any more until he shall have duly returned said book, and paid all fines and forfeitures due said library from him.

"8. That the Librarian shall examine all books upon their return, and if any shall have been damaged or disfigured more than reasonable wear, he shall assess a fine upon said subscriber drawing the same, and said subscriber shall never after be allowed to draw any book until he shall have duly paid such fine.

"9. That said Librarian shall purchase a blank book at the expense of said library, in which he shall keep a full list of all subscribers, the time subscribing, the date each shall draw a book and return the same, and the amount of fines assessed to, and paid by, each subscriber, and of all other matters of interest to said library a complete and full report he shall make of which at each term of the County Commissioners' Court."

As the subscriptions were paid and new subscribers came into the association, new books were added from time to time, until in 1850 the library contained some 500 volumes. This was not a public library in the sense that any one could draw books from it, only members of the


association enjoying that privilege. But even with this restriction the library was the means of disseminating a great deal of useful knowledge among the people of the county. In the early '50s the township library law went into effect, and the books belonging to the association were distributed among the several townships. The old township library system was a failure. Librarians were generally very lax in enforcing the rules against their neighbors, and though books were added by the state for several years they were drawn in such a loose manner that most of them became lost and the libraries finally died a natural death from inanition.

Early in the present century Hubbard and Finette M. Hunt gave to the city of Valparaiso the old Hunt homestead on North Washington street, "to be the property of the city as long as it should be used for public library purposes." By the terms of the bequest the property was placed under the control of the school board, but that body did nothing toward the establishment of a library. In 1904 the school board, the city council and the judge of the circuit court, acting under a state law, took the necessary steps to have a library board appointed. That board consisted of O. P. Kinsey, president; William E. Pinney, vice-president, and Mrs. Clara De Motte, Mrs. W. H. Gardner, Prof. A. A. Hughart, Mrs. Alla Bryant and Mrs. N. L. Agnew as members. The library was opened to the public in 1905 with about 560 volumes upon the shelves. In 1909 the institution was made a township library under the state law of 1903, and John W. McNay and Thomas Brown were added to the board as the members for Center township. Miss Mabel Benney and Prof. L. F. Bennett have taken the places of Mrs. Gardner and Mrs. Agnew on the board, which otherwise remains as originally organized in 1904. In 1912 the library contained about 5,500 volumes. Miss Bertha Joel has been the librarian from the beginning. The Valparaiso public library is the only free circulating libary in the county, but practically every school district has a selected library of books on history, geography, travel and reference works, those in Center township numbering about 100 volumes each. Through the public schools, high schools,


Valparaiso University, the press, and the public and school libraries, the youth of Porter county enjoy educational facilities as grand as those of any county in the state, and the percentage of illiteracy is considerably lower than in many counties having equal opportunities.


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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