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.







Some natural feature, such as a waterfall, the power of which can be utilized for manufacturing purposes, the head of navigation on a large river, a rich mineral deposit, or a safe harbor on the coast of a lake or the sea, frequently determines the location of a city. Some cities have their beginnings in the small settlement that grows up around a military post. Others have been called into existence by legislative enactment, and still others have originated in the minds of promoters or speculators. Valparaiso belongs to the last named class. When Porter county was formed, it was with the understanding that all the territory lying between the central line of range 7, west, and the western boundary of the state should soon be erected into a separate


county. A few men of sagacity and foresight, believing that the commissioners appointed to locate a county seat would be inclined to seek such location near the center of the county as it would ultimately be, conceived the idea of laying off a town at or near that point. Accordingly, the Portersville Land Company was organized soon after the act erecting the county was passed by the legislature of Indiana. It was composed of J. F. D. Lanier, Benjamin and Enoch McCarty, John and William Walker, John Saylor, Abraham A. Hall and James Laughlin, all residents of the county except Mr. Lanier, who lived at Madison, Indiana. Benjamin McCarty was the owner of the southwest quarter of section 24, township 35, range 6, which tract was selected for the site of Portersville. This particular quarter section lies on high ground, giving it a good natural location for a town, and it had the further advantage of being on the road running from Laporte to Joliet at the point where the road to Chicago branch off. It is also near the center of the county. The county seat commissioners made their report on June 9, 1836, designating the site for the court-house on this quarter section; the plat of Portersville was completed on July 7, and duly recorded on October 31, 1836.

In the meantime William K. Talbott had laid out a town on his farm, about a mile and a half northwest [should read be southeast] of Valparaiso on the Chicago road, and not far from where the old Catholic cemetery was afterward located. This town he named Porterville, the only difference between that and the east [should read west] town being the letter "s" in the latter, giving it the possessive form. Two other sites were also brought before the commissioners for their consideration - one in Washington township, where the town of Prattville was afterward laid out, and the other at Flint Lake. In the last some Indianapolis capitalists were interested. The Portersville Land Company, having the advantage in location and offering the most liberal inducements, secured the county seat, and in this way the city of Valparaiso had its birth in the schemes of a body of speculators. There is no charge that the members of the Portersville Land Company used any underhand methods, or any undue influence, with the commis-


sioners to secure favorable decision. It is said that they did not even treat the commissioners to drinks or cigars, or invite them to dinner. The inducements offered were wholly in the interests of the county, being the donation of one entire block for the court-house site and the gift of ninety-six lots, with a further donation of some $1,200 for the erection of public buildings.

The original plat of Portersville included all that part of the present city of Valparaiso bounded by Erie, Morgan, Water and Napoleon streets and one tier of lots fronting east and west north of Erie street. These ten lots comprised the fractional blocks from No. 1 to No.5, inclusive. Between Erie and Chicago streets lay the five blocks numbered 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, and south of Chicago street were the blocks numbered from 11 to 35, inclusive, block No. 23 being the square reserved for the court-house. Each block was divided into eight lots. No lots north of Chicago street were given to the county by the Portersville Land Company, but south of that street the lots numbered 2, 4, 6 and 8 in each block were deeded to Samuel Olinger, as the agent of Porter county to receive the same, by Benjamin McCarty, who had been given power of attorney by the other members of the land company, this deed bearing the date of July 25, 1836. The power of attorney, which was given to Benjamin McCarty on June 14, 1836, empowered him "to grant, sell, alien and convey any part or parts of said quarter section (the northwest quarter of section 24, township 35, range 5) of land and deeds make for the same, the said lots or parcels of land to Be sold by our said attorney, McCarty, in as full and ample a manner as though we held no title, Bond or claim upon the same, and he was full and absolute owner of the same at such prices & upon such terms as he may think fit," etc.

The north and south streets in the original town of Portersville, beginning at the east side, are Morgan, Michigan, Franklin, Washington, Lafayette and Napoleon. The east and west streets, beginning on the north are Erie, Chicago, Jefferson, Main, Mechanic (now Indiana avenue), Monroe and Water (now Lincoln avenue). Several additions



have been made to the city since the original plat was filed in the recorder's office in 1836. The first of these were Haas' and Pierce's additions, plats of which were recorded in April, 1854. West Valparaiso was added about a month later. It is bounded on the east by the outlots 8 and 19; on the north by Third street; on the south by First street and the Joliet road, being triangular in shape. East of the old town site of Portersville is Woodhull's addition, extending from the northern boundary of the old plat to Union street, and from the east line of the outlets to East street, containing thirty-six blocks. The plat of this addition was recorded on April 5, 1856. South of Woodhull's addition, is Smith's addition, which extends to the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad, and includes the site of the Valparaiso University. It was laid out about three years after Woodhull's, the plat being recorded on July 18, 1859. On May 9, 1859, was filed the plat of North Valparaiso, including ten blocks of fractional blocks, extending from the original survey northward to Elm street and from Calumet avenue on the west to Valparaiso street on the east. West of this lies Powell's addition, which was added to the city on July 28, 1860. It is bounded by the old survey on the south; Calumet avenue on the east; the south line of the fair grounds on the north, and Campbell street on the west. The Institute addition, three blocks north of the Joliet road and west of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad, was made to the city in March, 1864. West of Campbell street are Southwest Valparaiso, which was added in November, 1864, Chautauqua Park, Campbell's subdivision and Emmettsburg. An addition of twenty-eight blocks was made to North Valparaiso in May, 1869. The Council addition, on the east, south and southwest sides of the city, was made in 1883. On the east side this addition includes Suman's, Church's, Pinney's, Bradley's and Banta's subdivisions and Brown's outlots, while on the south and southwest it is divided into large lots, suitable for factory sites, etc. With these various additions the city limits have been extended until the city of Valparaiso now embraces the east half and the northwest quarter of section 23, all


of Section 24, the north half of section 25, the northeast quarter and the east half of the northwest quarter of section 26, all in township 35, range 6, making a total area of two and a half square miles within the present corporate boundaries.

Hubert M. Skinner's History of Valparaiso, published in 1876, says on page 9; "Among the early immigrants of '34 was a J. P. Ballard, who erected the first building upon the site of our city. It was in the valley by the stream which flows beneath the Morgan street bridge, that this first cabin rose, and in the grounds which are now attached to Judge Talbott's residence on water street. The building was a rude log cabin, but its location rendered it a pleasant home, and the events which transpired beneath its humble roof have attached to it a historic interest."

It was in this cabin of Ballard's that the county commissioners of Porter county held their first session in April, 1836, and their second session was also held there the following month. Immediately after the commissioners appointed by the legislature to locate the county seat had rendered their decision in favor of Portersville, speculation in town lots commenced, those fronting upon the public square being in greatest demand. The first building in this part of the town was a rough board structure erected by Cyrus Spurlock - the first county recorder - on the southwest corner of Main and Washington streets, where the Academy Block now stands. A little later John Saylor erected a building on the north side of Main street, just east of the alley and fronting the public square. On August 22, 1836, Cornelius Blachly bought the lot just across the alley from Saylor's and put up a building, and about the same time Dr. Seneca Ball erected a small store building on Main street at the northwest corner of the public square. Opposite Ball's and a little farther east was the store of Jeremiah Hamell, which was also established in the summer of 1836. William Eaton purchased the second lot west of Franklin street and fronting on Monroe, where he erected a one-story frame building of two rooms. A small building was erected on the northeast corner of Main and Washington


streets and first used for a chair-making shop. Subsequently it was transferred to Robert Stotts, who used it as a carpenter shop, and who was one of the first, if not the first, regular carpenters in the town. East of the public square, on the south side of Main street, William Walker began the erection of a large building, intended for a hotel, but before it was completed he sold the place to Solomon Cheney and John Herr, who finished it and opened a tavern. Later in the year Abraham Hall built the Valparaiso House at the southeast corner of Main and Franklin streets. Some authorities say this hotel was known as the American Eagle House, and that it was not opened until in 1839, but from the best evidence obtainable it was built in 1836.

A postoffice was established at Portersville early in the town's history and Benjamin McCarty was appointed the first postmaster. He held to office until 1839, when some dissatisfaction arose because he was not a resident of the village and T. A. E. Campbell was appointed in his place. In 1837 the court-house was built on the west side of Washington street, opposite the public square, and the postoffice was kept for some time in one of the rooms on the first floor. Later it was removed to the house of G. W. Salisbury on the south side of the square, Mr. Salisbury being postmaster during the administrations of Harrison and Tyler. Among others who served as postmaster at different times may be mentioned Joseph Lomax, John Dunning, S. R. Bryant, M. A. Salisbury, J. F. McCarthy, Col. I. C. B. Suman and Melvin J. Stinchfield, the present incumbent. From the small beginning three-quarters of a century ago the Valparaiso postoffice has grown to an office of the second class, with annual receipts of more than $32,000. In 1903 the office was located in Col. George S. Haste's building on Franklin street, where it has since remained. Thirteen men are employed in handling the city mail, and there are eight rural routes from Valparaiso which supply daily mail to a large part of the county. For the Fiscal year ending on June 30, 1912, the office issued money orders amounting to $85,033.14,and during the same period paid money orders amounting to $146,607.17.


In the winter of 1837 a party of marines and sailors from the South Pacific ocean stopped one night at Hall's tavern, where they were visited by a number of the citizens of the town. True to the sailor's instinct, these men loved "to spin a yarn," and until a late hour they regaled the townsmen with tales of the old Chilean seaport of Valparaiso and other South Pacific ports. Finally one of them suggested that as the county was named in honor of Commodore David Porter, whose famous battle while in command of the Essex was fought near the port of Valparaiso, Chile, it would be appropriate to name the county seat after that town. The suggestion was accepted and the name changed accordingly. The word Valparaiso is of Spanish origin, signifying "Vale of Paradise." In one sense it is a misnomer as applied to the county seat of Porter county, for the city lacks a long way of being located in a "vale." Instead it stands upon the crest of the moraine that divides the basin of the Great Lakes from the valley of the Kankakee. However, the name is appropriate in other respects, the neat homes surrounded by well kept lawns, the broad, shady streets, the general air of cleanliness and prosperity, all combine to give the visitor a glimpse of "Paradise." Hubert M. Skinner, who was born in Porter county, pays a tribute to the name and city in verse, as follows:


            Of right thou bearest thy sweet Spanish name,
            O Vale of Paradise in trees embowered!
            With Eden's wealth of grace and beauty dowered,
            Thou enviest not the Chilean city's fame.
            Whether enwreathed in Autumn's tints, which flame
            Apocalyptic splendors, or o'erflowered
            In vernal bloom-proportioned, spired and towered
            In matchless beauty - thou art still the same.
            In waving lines extended, where the land
            Rolls in long billows, trough and crest asleep,


            Thou'st made thy home. Abide forever there!
            For all that know thee love thee. Ne'er a band
            Of Romans breathed a patriot love more deep
            Than thou'st inspired, or a more fervent prayer.

In 1839 three brothers, George C., Andrew J. and H. M. Buel started a blacksmith and wagon shop on Washington street, a short distance south of where the Academy Block now stands. This was the first establishment of the kind in Valparaiso, but it was soon followed by another, which was located on Main street, and conducted by Jacob Brewer & Bros. The first brickyard was started by John Saylor, near the northeast corner of the old town of Portersville, on outlot No. 1. Among the first lawyers were J. S. Masters, Harlowe S. Orton, Samuel I. Anthony and George W. Turner. Dr. Seneca Ball was probably the first physician, though Dr. Miller Blachly, was one of the pioneers of the town. Dr. Salisbury, Dr. Robbins and Dr. Kersey were also early settlers. In 1845 Elizabeth Harrison came from Tennessee and built a hotel on West Main street, on the site later occupied by the Central House. Four years later the building was enlarged, and in 1855 A. R. Gould, formerly proprietor of the American Eagle House, became the landlord. He continued to conduct the hotel as the Gould House until his death, after which the business was continued by his widow until the building was torn down in 1880. The following year the Central House (now the Hotel Spindler) was erected upon the same site at the southeast corner of Main and Lafayette streets, one square west of the court-house.

In 1850 the United States census showed a population of 520 in the town of Valparaiso, and an agitation was started in favor of incorporation. Accordingly, a special act of the state legislature was approved by the governor on February 13, 1851, authorizing the incorporation of Valparaiso. Section 1 of that act provided "That the president and trustees under the provisions of this act, shall be, and the same are hereby declared to be a body politic and corporate, by the name and style of 'the President and Trustees of the Town of Valparaiso;' and by that


name and style shall be able and capable in law and equity, to sue and to be sued, plead and be impleaded, answer and be answered unto, defend and be defended, in any court of competent jurisdiction; to make, use, and have a common seal, and the same to break, alter and renew at pleasure, to ordain, establish, and put in execution, such by-laws and rules as they shall deem proper and necessary for the good government of said town, subject to the restrictions and limitations hereafter provided, and not inconsistent with the laws and constitution of this State."

Section 2 provided for the election of one president and five trustees, one marshal and one lister, on the first Monday in March, 1851, and annually thereafter. O. Dunham and Samuel S. Skinner were named as inspectors of the first election. The president and trustees were to constitute the common council; the marshal was to collect the taxes levied by the council, and to "obey all orders of the common council, and perform all other duties that may, from time to time, by ordinance or otherwise, be enjoined upon him by the common council." It was made the duty of the lister, "during the months of April and May of each year, to make a fair list, in alphabetical order, of all persons subject to a poll tax, and such personal property as the corporation may direct him to list; also all lots and fractions of lots, particularly noting the number, the owner's name, if known, and whether resident or non-resident," etc.

As this act formed the basis of the first municipal government of Valparaiso, it is interesting to note some of the powers conferred upon the town council by its provisions. After providing for the passage of ordinances for raising revenue and to guard against losses by fire through the organization of fire companies, the council was given power to restrain and prohibit all descriptions of gaming and fraudulent devices; to prohibit the sale of spirituous liquors in less quantities than one quart, "to be drunk in the store, shop, grocery, house, out-house, garden or yard, owned or occupied by the person selling the same, unless licensed to do so; "to regulate or prohibit the exhibitions of common showmen;


to prevent and punish any riot, noise, disturbance or disorderly assemblages; to repress and restrain disorderly houses; to compel the owner or occupant of any grocery, cellar, tallow chandler's shop, soap factory, tannery, stable, barn, or otherwise unwholesome or nauseous house or place, to cleanse, remove or abate the same from time to time, as often as may be necessary for the health, comfort and convenience of the inhabitants of the town; to restrain, regulate, or prohibit the running at large of horses, cattle, mules, hogs, sheep, goats and geese, and to prevent the running at large of dogs; to prohibit the rolling of hoops, playing at ball, flying kites, firing squibs, crackers, rockets or torpedoes, or any other amusement or practice having a tendency to annoy persons passing the streets of said town, or to frighten teams and horses within the same;" to compel the owner or occupant of any lot or building to keep snow, ice or dirt from the sidewalk in front of the premises; to prevent the ringing of bells, blowing of horns and bugles, and crying off of goods or other things within the town limits; to determine the manner and place of selling hay, wood and certain other commodities; to regulate public pumps, cisterns and reservoirs, and to prevent the unnecessary waste of water, and to regulate the burial of the dead.

The town government, administered by the president and board of five trustees, continued in force until the incorporation of Valparaiso as a city in 1865. As provided in the act of incorporation, councilmen were elected annually. As no town hall had been erected, most of the meetings of the council were held in the county recorder's office. During the fourteen years that this form of municipal government was in existence, no business of great importance was transacted, no large undertakings involving any considerable expenditure of the town's funds were inaugurated. Consequently, when the old council went out, it turned over to the new city government a municipality free from debt.

At the time Valparaiso was incorporated as a town in 1851, the transportation facilities were wofuIIy deficient. Mail routes had been established from Laporte to Joliet and from Michigan City to Peoria in 1837, but it was not until July, 1853, that a stage route was es-


tablished between Laporte and Valparaiso. The stages left Laporte at five o'clock in the morning and arrived at Valparaiso about ten. Returning they left Valparaiso at one o'clock in the afternoon and arrived at Laporte about 6:30 in the evening. At Westville the stages connected with the "cars running between Michigan City and Lafayette." The fare from Valparaiso to Laporte was one dollar, and to Westville, fifty cents. Samuel Burns was the proprietor of the stage line.

In June, 1854, James C. Maxwell, proprietor of the Tremont House in Valparaiso, advertised that "An omnibus runs daily from here to connect with the cars on the Michigan Central and the Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana railroads." This omnibus ran from Valparaiso to Calumet, (now Chesterton), but the fare charged cannot be learned. About the same time Molbay Carr began running a stage line from Valparaiso to Calumet, leaving Valparaiso at two o'clock in the afternoon and returning the same evening The fare on this line was seventy-five cents and the stages ran daily, except Sunday. Job D. Bonnell announced in March, 1855, that "having a contract for carrying the mail from Crown Point and back, I will run a two-horse carriage for the accommodation of passengers." Bonnell's mail hacks left Crown Point at six o'clock in the morning on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, arrived at Valparaiso in time to make connection with Laporte and Calumet stages, and returned the same day. The completion of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad in 1858 put these stage lines out of business and gave the town an impetus that led to its incorporation as a city in 1865.

That year was an eventful one for Valparaiso. It marked the close of the great Civil war and the return of the "Boys in Blue," who for four long years had upheld the nation in its struggle to prevent a disruption of the Union. Closely following General Lee's surrender to the victorious armies of Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, April 9, 1865, came the news that President Lincoln had been stricken down by the cowardly hand of an assassin. A meeting was immediately called at the court-house, at which Dr. J. H. Letherman presided and Dr. J. F. Heaton


acted as secretary. Resolutions expressing sorrow for the tragic and untimely death of the president were adopted, and a committee appointed to "investigate charges against certain persons for expressions of approval of the assassination of the president." At an adjourned meeting this committee presented the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

"Resolved, That Humphrey Palmer and A. P. Foster be requested to leave Valparaiso for a more congenial place.

"Resolved, That we deprecate any act of personal violence against these men, or their property, and that we urge all good citizens to use the extent of their influence to prevent any breach of peace."

Palmer, who was a clerk in the employ of F. W. Hunt, left the town almost immediately after the adoption of the resolution and returned to his home in the East, where he died a year or so later. Mr. Foster remained in Valparaiso, outlived the charges and the ostracism shown by some of his neighbors, and died a few years ago a respected citizen. It is said that the man who first made the charges against Mr. Palmer admitted a short time before his death that the whole story was a fabrication on his part, invented under the excitement of the times, merely to bring himself into notice. Feeling ran high in those days, and one could not be too guarded with his tongue. A farmer named Woodruff, living a short distance east of Valparaiso, was arrested for treasonable utterances and taken to Laporte, but the judge, after hearing the charge, dismissed him with the admonition to be careful in the future.

According to the United States census of 1860, the population of Valparaiso at that time was 1,690. Five years later, with the natural increase in population and the return of the soldiers from the war, the population was estimated at more than 2,000. Although the legislature of that year passed the general law providing for the incorporation of cities early in the session and adjourned in March, the excitement attendant upon the close of the war and the assassination of the president, was so great that no steps were taken to incorporate Valparaiso until late in the year. In November the city was divided into three wards and


an election for city officers ordered for Monday, November 27th. All that part of the municipality lying east of Franklin street constituted the First ward; that portion between Franklin and Lafayette streets constituted the Second ward, and the Third ward embraced all that portion of the city lying west of Lafayette street. At the election Thomas J. Merrifield was chosen mayor; John B. Marshall, clerk; James B. Hawkins, treasurer; Isaac Bowman, assessor; A. H. Goodwin, marshal, and J. M. Felton, engineer. Dr. George Porter and T. A. Hogan were elected councilmen for the First ward; J. C. Pierce and Obadiah Dunham, for the Second, and A. W. Kellogg and A. H. Somers, for the Third.

The first meeting of the council was held on December 2, 1865, and four other meetings were held before the close of the year. The first ordinances were promulgated on December 4th. The first ordinance was intended for the promotion of public morality by providing heavy penalties for profane swearing, notorious lewdness, the use of vulgar language, vagrancy, gambling, etc. Ordinance No.2 gave special police powers to every city official. Other ordinances related to the perfection of the city organization, the raising of revenues, the improvement of the streets, etc. The term of the first officers expired in May, 1866, when the first regular city election was held. Mr. Merrifield was reelected mayor and served until 1868, when he was succeeded by Thomas G. Lytle, who served until May, 1872. He was succeeded by John N. Skinner, who held the office continuously until his death in the spring of 1882. Thomas G. Lytle then again was mayor until 1886, when A. D, Bartholomew was elected. He held the office until 1888, when Mr. Lytle was again chosen as the chief executive of the city and served four years. Frank P. Jones was elected in 1892 and was succeeded by Col. I. C. B. Suman in 1894. In 1898 A. E. Woodhull was elected mayor and held the office for four years, W. F. Spooner succeeding him in 1902. In 1906 W. H. Williams succeeded Mr. Spooner and served until 1910, when Mr. Spooner was again elected. His term expires in January, 1914.

Although liquors have always been sold in Valparaiso, there is a


strong temperance sentiment in the city. In the winter of 1873-74 occurred the "Crusade," in which the Christian women visited the saloons and by singing and prayer endeavored to discourage the sale of intoxicants. In Valparaiso the movement reached such proportions as to attract the attention of the press throughout the country. There were then eight saloons in the city. Complaint was made to Mayor Skinner, who, on February 23, 1874, issued the following proclamation:

"Whereas, For several days last past, large numbers of persons have been engaged in assembling on and about the premises of citizens pursuing a lawful business, and remaining on said premises against the will of the owners thereof, and for the avowed purpose of interfering with their business; and

"Whereas, Many of said persons declare their intention of persisting in such conduct. Now, therefore, all such persons so assembling and remaining, are hereby notified that such conduct is unlawful and against the ordinances of the city of Valparaiso, and they are admonished as good citizens to desist from the same, and that it is the duty of the authorities of said city and of all law-abiding citizens, in the interest of public peace and order, to enforce the said ordinances and disperse such assemblages."

The women engaged in the crusade were not backward in accepting the gage of battle as presented by the mayor's proclamation. Within a few hours the executive committee of the "Crusaders" formulated the following reply, which was posted in public places and distributed about the streets:

"Why the Heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The Kings of the Earth set themselves, and the Rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his Annointed, saying - Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the Heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision. - Psalm 2, 1-4.

"And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and


said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. - Acts 4, 18-19." We ought to obey God rather than men. - Acts 5, 29.


"In the temperance movement we have undertaken, we have had no purpose to violate the laws of the State, or interfere with the rights of any citizen. We have malice in our hearts toward none, but charity toward all. We believe we have the right to persuade men to cease from strong drink, and to plead with the liquor seller to cease from his traffic. Believing, too, that God has called us to the high duty of saving our fellow-men, we will not cease to pray and labor to this end. It is our solemn purpose, with love in our hearts to God and man, to go right forward in the work we have undertaken, and if the hand of violence be laid upon us, we make our humble and confident appeal to the God whom we serve, and to the laws of the State, whose faithful citizens we are."

Mayor Skinner's proclamation had the effect, however, to make the women a little more cautious in carrying on their work. In time the movement spent its force, and the great temperance crusade is now a matter of history. That much good was accomplished by these heroic women cannot be gainsaid. In a few instances saloon keepers gave up their business and sought some other line of endeavor, and none will ever know how many young men were persuaded to give up strong drink. In some of the Valparaiso homes may still be seen the mayor's proclamation and the women's manifesto, which have been preserved as historic relics of the crusade.

A fire department was established early in the year 1876, consisting of four companies, with two engines, a ladder wagon and a hose cart. It was thoroughly reorganized by the ordinance of January 29, 1886, and at the present time Valparaiso has as good a fire department as is usually found in cities of its class. The police department was organized


by the ordinance of January 25, 1884. The city hall was built in 1878, on the south side of the public square. In the lower story is kept part of the fire-fighting apparatus, and the city offices and council chamber occupy the upper floor. Just back of the city hall the city prison was erected in 1881.

The first waterworks in Valparaiso were established in 1866, the city receiving some financial assistance from the county. This system consisted of several cisterns, and was never adequate to the demands of the city. In the fall of 1882, Joseph Gardner made an estimate that a waterworks plant, such as the city ought to have, would cost something like $34,000, exclusive of labor. At that time the city was in debt up the constitutional limit, having voted $50,000 in ten per cent bonds in 1868 to secure the Peninsular (now the Grand Trunk) railroad, and incurred other indebtedness in making municipal improvements. Under these conditions it seemed impossible to erect a waterworks plant. Nevertheless, in February, 1884, the city council entered into a contract with Micaiah Walker, of Port Huron, Michigan, and Don A. Salyer, of Valparaiso, "to establish, construct and maintain a system of waterworks in the city of Valparaiso." A franchise was granted to the company for fifty years, with the privilege of using the streets and alleys, which were to be restored to their original condition and left free from obstructions. It was stipulated in the contract that the water should come from Flint lake, and that the company would lay mains enough to supply everybody with water who wanted it. Failure to carry out this provision meant a forfeiture of franchise rights. It was further stipulated that any time after fifteen years from the completion of the waterworks, the city should have the right to purchase the same by giving the owners one year's notice, the value to be fixed by three disinterested hydraulic engineers, etc.

Immediately after this action by the city council, Joseph Gardner instituted injunction proceedings in the Porter circuit court, setting forth in his complaint that the municipal authorities were about to let a contract to a waterworks company for supplying the city with water


for a period of twenty years at an annual expense to the municipality of $6,000; that the corporate indebtedness exceeds five per centum of the assessed value of the taxable property of the city and there is no money in the treasury."

In answer to this the city admitted an indebtedness in excess of two per cent of the assessed value of the taxable property, but that the city, with a population of over 5,000, had "no facilities for extinguishing fires except three cisterns, which are wholly inadequate." The answer also set forth that the annual revenues were sufficient to pay all ordinary expenses and the $6,000 water rent; that a sinking fund had been provided for as the law required, and that no money was to be paid until after water had been actually furnished. Mr. Gardner's attorneys filed a demurrer to the answer and the lower court sustained his position. The city then appealed the case to the supreme court and in November, 1884, Chief Justice Elliott handed down an opinion in which he carefully reviewed all the points at issue and concluded by saying: Judgment is reversed, with instructions to overrule the demurrer to the answer, and proceed in accordance with this opinion."

Thus supported by the highest legal tribunal in the state, the city council, at a special session held on Monday evening, February 16, 1885, entered into a new contract with George P. Smith, of Bay City Michigan; Micaiah Walker, of Port Huron, Michigan; and Don A. Salyer, of Valparaiso, to carry out the provisions of the franchise granted the year before. A pumping station was built at Flint lake, and in the fall of 1886 the water was turned into the mains. Under the terms of the contract, the city had the right to purchase the plant at any time after fifteen years. The question therefore came up in 1899 of giving the company the required notice that the city would buy the waterworks the next year. A great many people were in favor of municipal ownership, but the indebtedness was so great that the city could not legally issue bonds for the purchase of the plant. It was then proposed that a company be formed to take over the city's option and operate the plant until the revenues derived from the sale of water might be sufficient


to pay for the same, when it should be turned over to the city. This question also went through the courts, and it was finally decided that an arrangement of this character could be made. A company was then formed - composed of O. P. Kinsey, John Sieb, M. J. Stinchfield, Stephen Finney and S. C. Billings - which bought the plant, with the understanding that at least $5,000 should be paid annually upon the purchase price and when clear of all encumbrances it should be turned over to the city. As high as $12,000 have been paid in one year under this arrangement, and it is estimated that the waterworks will become the property of the city by 1920, or sooner. The new company has put down several deep wells and established a $16,000 filter. There are about twenty-three miles of main pipe, 137 street hydrants, and the daily consumption of water is approximately 1,000,000 gallons.

On September 10, 1879, the city council passed an ordinance giving the gas company a right-of-way through the streets, highways, public grounds, lanes and alleys belonging to the city, on condition that after gas pipes were laid said streets, alleys, etc., should be restored to their original condition. A gas works was erected, and for nearly twenty years gas was the chief source of light for the residents of the city. The Messenger of October 6, 1887, said editorially: "Our city council is wisely investigating the matter of lighting the city with electricity. Of course, this move will meet with stern opposition, nevertheless we hope that the council will go right on and thoroughly investigate the matter, and, if they find that the city will receive better service for less money than they are now receiving, it is their duty to act and act decidedly."

The editor admitted, however, that no action should be taken that would jeopardize the interests of Mr. Stratton, the owner of the gas plant, and suggested that he should be given an opportunity to own both the gas and electric light franchises. Evidently the investigation of the city council at that time did not result in a favorable opinion, as more than six years were allowed to elapse before any definite action was taken. By the ordinance of April 9 ,1894, Edwin S. Tice, of Chicago, was granted the right to establish and maintain an electric lighting plant in the city of


Valparaiso. In September following Tice sold his franchise to Elzer C. Noe, also of Chicago. Charles H. Sweet ultimately became the possessor of the franchise and erected the plant. Subsequently he purchased the gas company from Mr. Stratton and consolidated the two as the Valparaiso Lighting Company, with offices at the corner of Main and Lafayette streets.

Telephone service was introduced into the city under the provisions of the ordinance of November 4, 1881, which authorized the Chicago Telephone Company to erect poles and maintain an exchange in Valparaiso. In this instance, as in many others in the state about that time, it was easier to secure a franchise than it was to establish a telephone system. An independent company was organized under the grant to the Chicago Company, and an exchange opened. After a time the whole plant passed into the hands of the Bell Telephone Company, a new exchange and office building was erected on North Lafayette street, and the system generally overhauled and improved. At the present time the company has in operation about 1,300 telephones, with long distance connections to all parts of the country.

Valparaiso has never achieved a wide reputation as a manufacturing center. The earliest attempts in that direction were intended merely to supply articles for local demand and consumption - such as wagons, harness, brick, etc. White & Kellogg started a planing mill in 1858, and in 1864 Daniel White built a sash, door and blind factory. In 1866 a woolen mill was started in the southwestern part of the city, and it did a successful business for a number of years. The building is now occupied by the Chicago Mica Company. A year after the woolen mill was established the paper mill was built. Korn & Junker erected a brewery in the early '70s and in 1873 a branch of the National Pin Company was established at Valparaiso, being the only pin factory at that time west of New York. Among the manufacturing establishments at the present time the most important are the McGill Manufacturing Company, which makes electrical appliances; the Chicago Mica Company, manufacturing insulating materials; the Chautauqua Manufacturing Company, makers


of furniture. charts, etc., and the Parker Varnish Company. (See the chapter relating to Finance and Industries for a more detailed description of these and other concerns.)

Just who preached the first sermon in the town of Portersville (now Valparaiso) is a matter of some dispute. It is generally believed that the honor belongs to Rev. Alpheus French, who conducted religious services in the house of William Eaton, on Mechanic street. There is no doubt that Mr. French did preach there, but the date when he did so is not definite. Some authorities say it was in 1838, but when it is known that the First Baptist Church was organized in June, 1837, it seems reasonable to presume that some preaching had been done before that time. It is claimed by some that Rev. Asahel Neal was the first minister to preach in the town, and that he organized a Baptist church in Center township as early as 1835 or 1836. In 1912 the churches in the city were The First Baptist Church, at the northwest corner of Chicago and Lafayette streets; the Christian church, at the northwest corner of Franklin and Chicago; the First Methodist Episcopal Church, at the northwest corner of Franklin and Jefferson; the Presbyterian Church, at the southwest corner of Franklin and Jefferson; St. Andrew's Protestant Episcopal Church, at the southeast corner of Franklin and Erie; Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, at the southeast corner of Washington and Institute; St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, at the corner of Franklin and Lincoln avenue; St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, at the corner of Chicago and Campbell; and the First Church of Christ, Scientist, at the corner of Washington and Monroe. (See Chapter XIII.)

As an educational center Valparaiso stands far above most cities of its size. The Valparaiso University, an account of which is given in the Chapter on Educational Development, is one of the best known educational institutions in the Middle West, and there are three public school buildings, viz: The Central School, at the junction of Franklin, Erie and Institute streets; the Columbia School, located at the corner of South Locust and Indiana avenue; the Gardner School, located at the



corner of Jefferson and Campbell streets. All three are fine examples of modern school architecture. The city high school is located in the Central building, and during the school year of 1911-12 employed seven teachers, viz: Eugene Skinkel, Mabel Benney, Minie McIntyre, E. S. Miller, Albert Wedeking, Mabel Young and Olie Welty. During the same year the teachers in the Central School were: H. M. Jessee, Fannie McIntyre, Mary Deegan, Bess Stinchfield, Bessie Way, Caroline Stinchfield, Geneva Pierce, Edna Forney, Martha and Nellie White and Ida Jones. Seven teachers were employed in the Columbia School during the same period, as follows: Estella Diefenbach, Ada Sievers, Freda Bruns, Flora Philley, Sarah Parks, Mabel Herrick and Margaret Pierce. In the Gardner School Margaret C. Beer was principal, and her assistants were Pearl Miller, Cartha Card, Clara Crosby, Kathryne Blaney, Ella Vincent and Laura King. In addition to these regular teachers there were four special teachers and supervisors. W. G. Davis had charge of the manual training; Mae McKinnis, domestic art; Mrs. Mary Hemstock, kindergarten, and Helen J. Single, music.

On March 7, 1889, the Valparaiso Improvement Association was organized with a capital stock of $10,000 "to aid the business of the city, locate new industries, etc." Another meeting was held at the mayor's office on the 12th, when the following officers were elected: President, Charles H. Parker; vice-president, M. L. McClelland; secretary, George W. Carr; treasurer, J. S. Louderback; directors, A. D. Bartholomew, M. L. McClelland, H. D. Newton, E. W. Rice, D. A. Salyer, G. A. Dodge, J. S. Louderback, M. A. Salisbury and M. Barry. One hundred and eighteen shares of stock, of five dollars each, were subscribed at this meeting. For a time the organization displayed considerable activity in advertising the advantages and possibilities of Valparaiso. Then the interest began to wane and the association finally ceased to exist. Several subsequent attempts to organize similar associations met with a like fate. The present Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1909 under the name of the Valparaiso Commercial Club, but when application was made to the secretary of state for a charter it was ascertained that a charter had


previously been granted to an association of that name. The name was then changed to the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, which was duly incorporated on June 8, 1912, with a capital stock of $25,000 and the following officers: President John Sievers; first vice-president, William F. Spooner; second vice-president, W. J. Henry; secretary, E. H. Heilstedt; treasurer, George F. Beach; directors, C. F. Specht, L. R. Skinner, E. J. Gardner, John F. Sievers, E. H. Heilstedt, P. W. Clifford, J. Lowenstine and J. W. Sieb. The motto of the association is "A larger and better Valparaiso," and the most prominent business and professional men of the city are included in the membership.

In 1892 a portion of Jefferson street and the south end of Locust street were paved with brick, the first paved streets in the city. There was then a cessation in making improvements of this character for several years but in 1905 the work of street improvement began in earnest. The result is that all down-town streets and several of the alleys are paved with brick, giving Valparaiso about six miles of streets that are as good as any to be found anywhere in the country. Cement sidewalks have been laid upon all the principal streets.

Three great trunk lines of railway - the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago, the New York, Chicago & St. Louis, and the Grand Trunk - furnish ample transportation facilities. The city has three banks - the Valparaiso National, the Farmers' National, and the State Bank of Valparaiso - and two trust companies; three large department stores and a number of other mercantile concerns, drug, jewelry, hardware and implement stores, etc.; several bakeries, candy factories, cigar factories, eight printing establishments, three dealers in automobiles and accessories, etc. But Valparaiso is preeminently a city of homes. Its broad, shaded streets, the will kept lawns, the cozy residences, impress the visitor to Porter county's capital with the prosperity and progressive spirit of its inhabitants. The people are democratic, and nowhere will one meet with more genuine courtesy and politeness than in Valparaiso. Lodges of all the leading secret and benevolent organizations cultivate a fraternal feeling among the inhabitants. In very few cities do the people show as


high respect for law and morals as in Valparaiso. A police force is maintained, but arrests are seldom made. Every one seems to be inclined to mind his own business, and taken altogether Valparaiso is a good place in which live and rear a family, as the climate is healthful and the environment is free from the contaminating influences usually found in larger cities. Valparaiso has never experienced a "boom," but its growth has been steady and substantial. In 1850 the population was 520; in 1860 it had grown to 1,690; ten years later it was 2,760; in 1880 it was 4,461; in 1890 it was 5,090; in 1900 it had reached 6,280, and in 1910 it was 6,987.


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


CSS Template by Rambling Soul