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.







The public funds of Porter county have generally been handled by men who believed in a conservative policy and economic administration of county affairs. Consequently there have been very few instances of misappropriation of public revenues or wanton extravagance in expenditures. The county auditor's report for the year ending on December 31, 1911, shows the receipts from all sources, including balances at beginning of the year, to have been $762,858.32, and the expenditures for the year were $612,683.22, leaving a balance in the county treasury of


$150,175,10. At that time the bonded indebtedness of the county was as follows:

Asylum bonds, issued October 18, 1905 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Pavement around court-house, issued December 16, 1908 . . . . . . . . .


Bridge bonds, issued July 16, 1909 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Heating plant, court-house and jail, issued July 15, 1911 . . . . . . . . . .




These amounts were unpaid balances of the original issue and constituted the entire bonded indebtedness of the county, against which the balance of $150,175.10 shows a healthy condition of the public finances. For the construction of gravel roads bonds have been issued to the amount of $948,580, of which $274,748.50 have been paid, leaving an unpaid balance of $673,831.50. Ditch bonds aggregating $27,701.95 have been issued, of which $16,218.74 have been paid, leaving the unpaid balance of $11,218.21. Gravel road and ditch bonds are not strictly county indebtedness, being a lien upon the property benefited by the improvement and paid by the holder of such property the same as taxes.

According to the report of the State Bureau of Statistics for the year 1910, the bonded indebtedness of the city of Valparaiso, less cash in the sinking fund, was $69,772.57. Of the three incorporated towns in the county, Porter reported a debt of $847.25, while Chesterton and Hebron were out of debt, the former having a cash balance in the treasury of $797.27, and the latter a balance of $1,909.26. Taken altogether, these figures show that the county and municipal affairs have been managed with a view to promoting the general welfare of the people, the indebtedness of the city of Valparaiso having been incurred for the purpose of making much needed improvements.

During the territorial days in Indiana, very little money was in circulation. Few banks had been established northwest of the Ohio river, and these few were conducted under laws so lax in their operation that


the people had no confidence in the banks, and very little confidence in a majority of the men who conducted them. The territorial legislature of 1814 charted two banking institutions - the Bank of Madison and the Bank of Vincennes - both of which were recognized by the first state constitution, adopted in 1816, and the first state legislature passed an act making the Bank of Vincennes a state institution. No settlements had been made in Porter county at that time, the land still being held by the Indians. The first bank in Porter county was a private concern conducted by Franklin W. and Hubbard Hunt. Both were natives of Coos county, New Hampshire, where Franklin W. was born on February 6, 1817. He was one of the early settlers of Valparaiso, where he engaged in the dry-goods business. Hubbard Hunt learned the trade of machinist and brass finisher with the Fairbanks Scale Company at Johnsbury, Vermont. Upon coming to Porter county in 1846 he became associated with his brother in the store. In 1849 he went to California, but returned to Valparaiso in the spring of 1851 and again entered into partnership with his brother. In 1855 they disposed of their dry-goods business and opened a banking house. The following year Hubbard Hunt withdrew, but Franklin W. continued in the business for some years. In later years he owned a farm near Valparaiso, where he lived a part of the time. His death occurred on February 3, 1892. Hubbard Hunt, after withdrawing from the bank, was engaged in stock raising for a short time, and was later in the hardware business with John M. Felton. He married Finette Dunning in 1851 and died on May 6, 1895. The old homestead on North Washington street was given by him and his wife to the city of Valparaiso to be used as a public library building. Franklin W. Hunt finally liquidated the business of this early bank and retired from active pursuits.

Shortly after the commencement of the Civil war, Congress passed an act authorizing the establishment of national banks. Under the provisions of this law articles of association were signed on May 20, 1863, for the formation of the First National Bank of Valparaiso. The capital stock was fixed at $50,000, which was held by twenty-one stockholders.


Later in the year the bank was fully organized with Levi A. Cass as president and M. L. McClelland cashier. The first board of directors consisted of the president, Thomas S. Stanfield, Joseph Pierce, W. C. Talcott, S. W. Smith, B. F. Schenck and A. V. Bartholomew. The first deposit in this bank .was made on November 30, 1863, by Mrs. Mary F. Brown. In 1882 - the original charter for twenty years being about to expire - the bank was reorganized as the First National Bank of Porter County, which occupied the same building and was composed of the same stockholders, though the capital stock was increased to $100,000. The charter of the reorganized bank was dated May 4, 1882, to run for twenty years. In March, 1902, William Johnston, Charles W. Benton and others filed an application with the United States government for authority to organize the Valparaiso National Bank, to take the place of the old First National Bank of Porter County. In response to the petition a charter was granted and again the bank was reorganized. The Valparaiso National Bank is located on the west side of Washington street, opposite the court-house. A statement of the bank issued at the close of business on June 14, 1912, shows the capital stock to be $100,000, a surplus of $20,000, and deposits of $693,793. At that time the officers of the bank were Charles W. Benton, president; Leslie R. Skinner, vice-president; A. J. Louderback, cashier; T. L. Applegate, assistant cashier.

On November 23, 1874, a savings bank was started by the late Joseph Gardner. In the fall of 1878 the institution was incorporated as the Farmers' National Bank, with a capital stock of $50,000, and opened its doors for business as a national bank on February 1, 1879. The original stockholders were Joseph Gardner, A. V. Bartholomew, H. B. Brown, J. M. Felton, W. P. Wilcox, J. C. Flint, John Wark, Joseph R. Hill, J. N. Bozarth and George A. Dodge. Joseph Gardner was elected president and served in that capacity until his death in October, 1907, when his son, W. H. Gardner, was elected to the office, which he still holds. The other officers of the bank at the beginning of 1912 were: W. C. Windle, first vice-president; P. W. Clifford, second vice-president; E. J. Gardner, cashier; A. K. Worstell, assistant cashier. A statement, issued by the


bank on February 20, 1912, shows a capital stock of $50,000, a surplus of $33,110, and deposits of $602,082.

The State Bank of Valparaiso was organized in 1889 under the laws of the State of Indiana. It occupies a handsome and well appointed building on the south side of Indiana avenue opposite the court-house and is recognized as one of the substantial financial institutions of Porter county. A statement issued by this bank on April 18, 1912, reports the capital stock as $50,000, the surplus fund as #12,500, and deposits of $409,817. At that time the officers of the bank were aa follows:

H. H. Loring, president; John W. Sieb and Peter J. Horn, vice-presidents; Paul Nuppnau, cashier; Mark L. Dickover, secretary, and Clinton Jones, assistant cashier. These officers with the exception of the assistant cashier, and William E. Pinney, S. P. Corboy, J. Lowenstine, Robert T. Wark and Charles E. Foster constituted the board of directors.

In addition to the three banks above mentioned, the city of Valparaiso has two trust companies that do a banking business. The Thrift Trust Company was organized in 1903, and has its home in the same building as the State Bank. At the close of business on April 18, 1912, the company issued a statement showing the capital stock to be $25,000 and deposits of $524,669. The officers at that time were: H. H. Loring, president; John W. Sieb and P. J. Horn, vice-presidents; Emma R. Pinney, secretary; Paul Nuppnau, cashier.

The First Trust Company, which is operated in connection with the Valparaiso National Bank, was organized in 1906. In 1912 Charles W. Benton was president; Leslie R. Skinner, vice-president, and A. W. Cowdrey, cashier. The capital stock of this company is $25,000 and the deposits amount to $183,772.

On April 3, 1890, Joseph Gardner and George C. Morgan opened a bank at Chesterton. Mr. Morgan died in 1894 and Mr. Gardner continued in the business until January 7, 1902, when he sold his interest to Charles L. Jeffrey, who had been cashier of the bank since its organization. A complete reorganization of this bank took place on July 25, 1910, when the capital stock was increased from $10,000


to $25,000 and the following board of directors chosen: Charles L. Jeffrey, E. L. Morgan, Joseph H. Ameling, Charles A. Peterson and Dr. C. O. Wiltfong. Mr. Jeffrey was elected president; J. H. Ameling, vice-president; E. L. Morgan, cashier, and B. L. Warren, assistant cashier. The Banker's Directory for January, 1912, reports the capital stock of the Chesterton Bank as $25,000, the surplus as $2,100, and deposits of $206,000.

On May 17, 1893, J. M. Foster filed an application for a receiver for the bank at Hebron, which had been opened by R. S. Dwiggins and others some time before. Judge Gillett granted the application and appointed M. J. Stinchfield receiver. An investigation showed liabilities of about $25,000 and assets of $4,000 in cash and $5,000 in notes. The Lowell Bank, in Lake county, also established and operated by Dwiggins and his associates, was placed in the hands of a receiver at the same time. A few days later Elmer and Josiah Dwiggins met committees from each of the two banks to make some kind of a settlement. With them they brought a bag containing some $50,000 in contracts from purchasers of lots in the new town of Griffith. The committees representing the depositors refused to accept these contracts and they were attached by the sheriff of Lake county. Mr. Dwiggins then turned over everything to a board of three trustees and went to New York. A year or so later the receiver closed up the affairs of the bank, having paid the depositors ninety-five per cent of their losses, and in March, 1897, Mr. Dwiggins mailed each depositor a check for the remaining five per cent, the total amounting to some $2,000. In the meantime the Citizens' Bank of Hebron had been organized in 1894, with a capital stock of $25,000. The Banker's Directory for January, 1912, gives the officers of this bank at that time as follows: William Fisher, president; H. W. Bryant, vice-president; I. E Fisher, cashier; J. J. Nichols, assistant cashier. The bank has a surplus fund of $3,000 and deposits of nearly $200,000.

On January 8, 1909, the Bank of Kouts, of which Robert Parker, of Remington, Jasper county, was president, closed its doors and a


representative of the state auditor took charge of the institution. Parker was subsequently sent to the penitentiary on the charge of bank wrecking. Some of the citizens of Kouts purchased the old building and organized the Porter County Bank, which opened its doors for business on July 31, 1909. In January, 1912, the Banker's Directory reported the capital stock of this bank as $15,000, surplus, $1,500, and deposits of $105,000. Most of the stock in the Porter County Bank is held by local men and its management is in the hands of well known citizens, H. A. Wright being president; J. J. Overmyer, vice-president, and P. 0.Norris, cashier.

A postal savings bank was opened on July 31, 1911, in connection with the Valparaiso postoffice, the first deposit being made on that date by A. L. Brown. On August 1, 1912, the deposits amounted to about $3,300. The postal savings bank at Chesterton was started about the beginning of the year 1912, and on August 1st had deposits of about $4,000. The small deposits in the Valparaiso Postal Savings Bank are accounted for by the fact that the people have confidence in the local banks and trust companies which pay better interest on deposits.

One of the well established and-substantial financial concerns of Porter county is the Valparaiso Building Loan-fund and Savings Association. It was chartered in December, 1887, with an authorized capital of $500,000, which has since been increased to $1,000,000. The first series of stock, issued at the time the association was organized, was matured on January 1, 1898. The forty-eighth semi-annual statement, dated June 29, 1912, shows stock in force amounting to $917,575, with loans outstanding amounting to $237,820. At the time of this statement was issued the officers of the association were: J. E. Roessler, president; M. L. Dickover, vice-president; C. W. Benton, treasurer; E. L. Loomis, secretary; M. L. Dickover, auditor; A. D. Bartholomew, attorney. Through the operations of this association many people of Valparaiso have been aided in securing homes of their own - people who otherwise might have continued in the rent-paying class through-


out their entire lives. And this has been done without the foreclosure of a single mortgage.

Of the industries and occupations in Porter county, agriculture has always stood at the head of the list, a position it will probably occupy for years to come. Located as it is within convenient distance of the great Chicago markets and traversed by a network of railroads, the county offers splendid inducements to the farmer and the dairyman. Some idea of the magnitude of the agricultural interests may be gained from the following figures, taken from the report of the State Bureau of Statistics for the year 1910:





Corn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Wheat . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Oats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Rye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Potatoes . . . . . . . . . . . .




Buckwheat . . . . . . . . . .




Berries . . . . . . . . . . . . .






 But it is in the production of hay that Porter county excels. According to the report above quoted the production of hay of various kinds in 1910 was as follows:





Timothy . . . . . . . . . . . .




Alfalfa . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Prairie (marsh) . . . . . .




Clover . . . . . . . . . . . . .






Only three counties in the state - Allen, Adams and Lake - produced


more timothy hay than Porter, and the county stood fifth in the production of prairie or marsh hay, which has for years been one of the leading crops of the Kankakee valley. As a means of protection to this industry a Hay Dealers' Association was started in the summer of 1889, embracing all the territory tributary to the Kankakee river. The objects of the association were declared to be to prevent the overstocking of the market at the opening of the season; to procure cars for shipment; to expose dishonest commission men, and in various other ways protect the producers of hay. A meeting was held at Kouts on August 7, 1889, and a number of Porter county farmers signified their willingness to join in the movement. It was impossible, however, to secure the complete cooperation of all the hay producers over so large a territory and the association came to naught.

During the year 1909 the farmers of the county sold 707 horses and mules, which brought $85,515, and at the close of the year they had on hand 12,091 horses and mules valued at $754,244. Beef cattle to the number of 2,579 were sold for $76,160, and at the close of the year there were reported on hand 5,446 head, valued at $138,367. The wool clip for the year equaled 24,162 pounds, which sold for $4,763. Sheep sold numbered 2,349, which brought $11,072, and there were remaining on hand 3,962 head, valued at $19,632. The number of gallons of milk sold during the year was 4,034,407, which brought $520, 281, and there were marketed 213,088 pounds of butter for $48,185. The sale of hogs was 16,724 head, for which the receipts were $198,925. Considerable attention has been given to poultry and in 1909 there were sold over $25,000 worth of fowls; 620,843 dozen eggs, which brought $125,764. It is worthy of note that in the national egg-laying contest conducted by the Missouri State experiment station in November, 1911, five hens belonging to E. A. Berg, of Dune Park, Porter county, took first prize. Over forty different varieties of hens were entered from all parts of the United States and Canada. Mr. Berg's five hens laid 101 eggs during the month, which was nineteen more than their nearest competitors, bringing the silver cup to Porter county.


As a rule, the farmers of Porter county have been ready and willing to unite in the support of any movement for the advancement of agricultural interests. During the '70s Granges of the Patrons of Husbandry were organized in different parts of the country and the cooperative method of purchasing supplies was practiced until the grange movement fell into decay. At the close of the year 1890 there were ten lodges of the Farmers' Alliance in the county, with a total membership of about 600. On Saturday, December 20, 1890, fifty-one delegates from these ten subordinate alliances met at the Opera House in Valparaiso and formed a county alliance, with E. S. Merrifield as president; David Keller, vice-president; State Jones, secretary; John M. Foster, treasurer; Daniel Bryant, chaplain; William Callahan, steward; Gus Schultz, doorkeeper; William Maxwell, assistant doorkeeper; W. D. Howell, lecturer; Leander Jones, business agent. S. P. Barker, organizer for the county, was in charge of the meeting. Unfortunately the usefulness of the Farmers' Alliance was destroyed by its "getting into politics," and the members were deprived from realizing the benefits which might otherwise have resulted from the organization.

As an educational factor the farmers' institute has played an important part in the improvement of agricultural conditions throughout the country. It may be said that the farmers' institute is due in a great measure to the Morrill land grant bill of 1862, but agricultural societies organized prior to the passage of that bill furnished the medium for the successful establishment of the institute. Little was accomplished until after the close of the Civil war, and in recent years the institutes are generally held in connection with, or under the auspices of, the state agricultural colleges or some experiment station. Just when the first institute was held in Porter county cannot be definitely ascertained, but the county was one of the first in the state to adopt the idea, and the institutes have usually been well attended. In 1889 the legislature passed an act authorizing the boards of county commissioners in the several counties of the state to give financial aid and encouragement to farmers' institutes. This act was supplemented by


the law of 1907, which provided that the expense of one farmers' institute in each county should be defrayed from the public funds, the amount so appropriated to be equal to the sum contributed by the members in attendance, but in no case was the appropriation to exceed $100. Prizes offered to stimulate experimental work were classed as "expenses."

Under the operation of this law the most successful institute in Porter county up to that time was held in the Memorial Opera House at Valparaiso, on January 8-9, 1909. Prof. James Troop, of Purdue University, was present and delivered an address, and the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: John W. Kuehl, chairman;
B. L. Keene, secretary; Samuel Dille, treasurer. Over 100 members were present at the county institute held at Valparaiso in April, 1911, when B. L. Keene was elected chairman; Virgil Johnson, secretary; and Isaac Dillingham, treasurer. This institute was also held under the auspices of an instructor from Purdue University. Institutes held since that time have been as follows: Kouts, December 28, 1911; Boone Grove, December 29, 1911; Valparaiso, January 16-17, 1912, when a corn and poultry show were the principal features; Hebron, January 19, 1912; Chesterton, January 30, 1912.

Early in 1900 an effort was made to interest the farmers of Porter county to engage in the cultivation of sugar beets. A representative of the beet sugar factory at Kalamazoo, Michigan, visited Valparaiso and announced that his company were anxious to locate a factory there, provided a sufficient number of acres could be planted to beets to keep the factory running after it was established. At a meeting on March 3, 1900, this representative, William Strong, presented statements from a number of Michigan farmers showing that their beet crops had brought them from $44 to $88 an acre. He offered to furnish all the seed necessary at fifteen cents per pound-fifteen pounds to the acre - the price of the seed to be deducted from the first payment for beets after the crop had been matured. A number of farmers entered


into contracts of this character, but a sufficient number could not be obtained, and the whole project was abandoned.

Another instance of how the farmers of the county are willing to cooperate for mutual protection may be seen in the case of the Farmers' Insurance Company. About the beginning of 1902 insurance rates were advanced by the old insurance companies. On March 15th a meeting was held to discuss the advisability of organizing a mutual insurance company. A large majority of those present expressed themselves in favor of the movement and a resolution was adopted that, as soon as the required number of names could be secured, such a company be incorporated under the laws of Indiana. The organization was fully completed on May 10, 1902, with John W. Brummitt, president; Joseph A. Stephenson, vice-president; P. A. Marquart, secretary; Jasper N. Finney, treasurer. These officers, with Amos B. Lantz, B. F. Jones, Charles A. Anderson and A. W. Furness, constituted the first board of directors. At the time of incorporation the company had risks amounting to $150,000, and within a year this had been increased to over $500,000. During the first five years of its existence the company wrote over $2,000,000 in insurance chiefly upon the farm houses and barns in the county. On August 1, 1912, the company had about $2,855,000 insurance in force. Andrew Bickel was then president; Amos B. Lantz, vice-president; Peter A. Marquart, secretary; Jasper N. Finney, treasurer; Charles A. Anderson, Martin L. Galbreath, A. W. Furness, and Charles Link, directors. Since the organization of the company it has paid 261 losses.

Several attempts have been made to discover natural gas or oil within the county. Soon after gas was found in central Indiana a company was formed at Valparaiso to bore for gas near that city. At a meeting held on February 19, 1887, at the council chamber, Charles Dickover, chairman of the committee on contract, announced that the bid of H. W. Carter, of Bradford, Pennsylvania, had been accepted. Mr. Carter's proposition was to bore to the depth of 1,200 feet for $1,800, or to go to a depth of 2,000 feet at the same rate - $1.50 per foot. A


lot was secured from Mayor Bartholomew near the carriage factory (now the Mica Works) and the work of drilling was commenced. On May 9, 1887, the company was incorporated with a capital stock of $50,000, divided into shares of $50 each. The well was then 700 feet deep, the last ninety feet of which had been through the Niagara limestone. At the depth of 800 feet the well was cased and the water pumped out. The Messenger of May 19th, in commenting upon the progress of the gas well, said: "This forenoon a depth of nearly 850 feet had been reached. The water bucket brought up a milky liquid smelling like dead Chinamen. It seemed like the perfume of sulphuretted hydrogen." The editor also predicted that gas would be struck within a week, but the prediction failed of realization. After going to a depth of 1,340 feet without finding any strong indications of gas, the project was abandoned.

In August, 1893, some workmen engaged in drilling a well on the John Brummitt farm near Furnessville struck a pocket of gas which showed a strong pressure, but the supply was limited and was soon exhausted. The men were not boring for gas, the object in sinking the well being for the purpose of obtaining water.

In the summer of 1901 a rumor gained currency that some persons interested in oil and gas were endeavoring to secure leases upon Kankakee marsh lands for the purpose of sinking wells in that district. The Chicago Hunting and Fishing Club sank a well upon its preserves at Davis Station in Starke county, but found nothing to repay the trouble and expenditure. It is said that Joseph Leiter, of Chicago, was one of the principal promoters of this undertaking.

Henry & Company drilled six wells upon the Reeves estate in the southern part of the county in the fall of 1901 and the early part of 1902. The sixth well, which was completed in March, 1902, showed both oil and gas in small quantities. A pump was installed, but the field proved to be of short duration and no further efforts were made to find gas or oil in that region.

On November 21, 1902, oil was found on the Collins farm between


Woodville and Sumanville near the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, by a company of Valparaiso men - Hewitt, Coultas and Lightcap. Here the oil was struck at a depth of 260 feet. It was a heavy oil, well adapted to lubricating uses and was pronounced by experts to be of superior quality, but the supply was too limited to justify extended operations.

An oil company was organized at Valparaiso on April 25, 1903, with John P. Salzer, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, as president; Frank Schaettle, of Mondovi, Wisconsin, vice-president; James W. Coultas, of Valparaiso, secretary; Albert Plantz, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, treasurer; and William J. Henry, of Valparaiso, managing director. Some 3,000 acres of land were leased and about half a dozen wells were sunk. Oil was found in small quantities. It was of good quality and commanded a high price, but the expense of pumping was so great that it consumed the profits and the company was finally dissolved.

Several oil wells were bored near Sumanville on the Baltimore & Ohio railway in the spring of 1905. Oil was found here at a depth of 275 feet. It was of fine quality for a lubricator. but in such small quantities that it had to be forced to the surface by pumps. This field was also abandoned after a short trial.

In the fall of 1906 the officials of the Knickerbocker Ice Company came to the conclusion that oil existed in the sandy districts in the northern part of the county. They secured oil leases on lands from Dune Park eastward along the Calumet river and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad and began boring for oil, but soon decided that they were engaged in a futile endeavor and ceased work.

On Friday, March 13, 1908, gas was struck near Jackson Center by W. J. Henry, of Valparaiso, who was engaged in drilling for water for the New York & Chicago Air Line. Concerning this well, the Valparaiso Messenger of the 14th says: "A four inch pipe, driven 332 feet into the ground, gives vent to the gas. When the flow began there was 200 feet of water in the pipe and it was thrown out with great force, rising in a column twenty feet high. With the water, stones, clay, etc., were forced out. The gas shot up to a height of about forty feet above


the ground, and its volume continued undiminished throughout last night and today. The jet was lit last night and the pillar of fire could be seen for miles around." Some excitement attended this discovery and many thought that the gas field of Porter county had at last been struck. But the gas proved to be merely a pocket and in a short time the flow ceased. Since that time no further efforts have been made to find either gas or oil.

John I. Foster was probably the first man in Porter county to manufacture any article for export, or for sale at home. He learned the trade of auger maker with his brother-in-law, a man named Marvin, in New York City. In the early '30s he came to Indiana, and about 1834 settled in what is now Westchester township, Porter county. Here he fitted up a small forge and engaged in making one-inch, inch and a half and two-inch augers, which found ready sale among the pioneers. His son, John Foster, relates that in the winter of 1835-36 he made up a large number of augers and the following spring took them to Chicago. Upon his return home, when asked what he thought of Chicago, he replied : "It's a right smart little place." Mr. Foster was also something of a surveyor, and in the spring of 1835 laid out the town of Waverly.

Among the early manufacturers of Valparaiso were the three brothers - George C., Henry M. and Andrew J. Buel - who began the manufacture of wagons in 1839. George retired from the firm after a few years, Henry retired soon afterward, but Andrew J. continued in the business until his death in 1868. Brewer Bros. also began making wagons about the same time as the Buels and carried on a successful business for some years. Michael Barry, a native of County Kerry, Ireland, came to Valparaiso about 1863 and formed a partnership with his brother Thomas soon after his arrival for the purpose of making carriages and wagons. In January, 1888, they removed their factory into the old woolen mill building and began operations on a larger scale. In May, 1887, William F. Spooner acquired an interest in the factory, which then occupied about two acres of ground and three


buildings located between the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago and the New York, Chicago & St. Louis railroads. The monthly pay roll at this time amounted to about $1,000. A few years later the partnership between Barry and Spooner was dissolved, the former going to some place in Illinois, and the works were discontinued.

John Saylor opened the first brickyard at Valparaiso, but the exact date when he began making brick cannot be learned. Others who have engaged in that line of business were Charles Briggs, Dickover & Weaver, Moses Frazier, Chartier & Dumas, A. W. Lytle, and the Durands. In February, 1897, W. C. Goodwin, representing a Chicago brickyard syndicate visited Valparaiso and announced that he had secured an option on forty acres of land lying near the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad, one and a half miles west of the city, where he expected to have a brickyard in operation within six months, with a daily capacity of from 50,000 to 75,000 brick. A test of the clay showed that it was suitable for making first class brick, and the yard never was established. In fact that has been one of the drawbacks in the manufacture of good brick in the immediate vicinity of the city of Valparaiso.

A. Kellogg & Sons started a foundry and machine shop at a comparatively early date, and in 1857 began the manufacture of furniture in connection therewith. The next year Daniel White and one of the Kelloggs established a planing mill. In 1864 White built a sash, door and blind factory on the corner of Main and Monroe streets. This factory changed hands several times during the next few years, being owned successively by Wasser & Vastbinder, Alonzo Smith, A. Freeman and John D. Wilson. The largest planing mill in the city in 1912 was that of the Foster Lumber & Coal Company.

The Valparaiso Woolen Mill Company was organized in 1866, with a capital of $60,000. Among the stockholders were George, William and Julia A. Powell, H. R. Skinner and A. V. Bartholomew. The company began the manufacture of knitting yarns, jeans, flannels and blankets in 1867, but owing to the high prices that prevailed at the close of the war and the subsequent constant decline, the woolen mill


was not a profitable venture. After a few years the Powells bought up all the stock and after running the mill for awhile closed down until times should grow better. In 1872 a pin factory was started in place of the woolen mill and run for about three years, when it was removed to Detroit. In 1876 new machinery was placed in the woolen mill and the manufacture of yarns was again commenced. In 1881 knitting machines were installed and the manufacture of hosiery was introduced. For a time the company used about 500,000 pounds of wool annually and had a monthly pay roll of $3,700. Unable to compete with the woolen mills located in larger manufacturing centers, with better facilities for shipping and in closer touch with the great markets, the Valparaiso mill finally succumbed to the inevitable.

In 1867 Don A. Salyer built a paper mill at the crossing of Washington street and the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad. About $20,000 capital was invested in the enterprise and the monthly pay roll was about $550. The product of the mill was chiefly straw wrappers, some 1,000 tons of straw being annually used as raw material, producing from 700 to 800 tons of paper. When the straw-board factories formed a combination, Mr. Salyer's mill was purchased by the trust and later was dismantled. Thus ended another Valparaiso industry.

Charles H. Parker, Sr., began the manufacture of varnishes, paint dryers, Japans, black iron enamels and paint specialties in 1871. His first place of business was located near the tracks of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate) railroad, about a quarter of a mile west of the present Mica Works. On June 18, 1889, his factory there was destroyed by fire, though the safe, books and a few other articles were saved. The hose company and the hook and ladder company responded, but the nearest hydrant was so far away that the hose was too short to reach from it to the factory. Owing to the nature of the business it was impossible to secure insurance and the loss of $12,000 fell entirely upon Mr. Parker. Undaunted by the disaster, however, he immediately made plans for rebuilding, but located on the east side of


the city, not far from the Grand Trunk station. Subsequently his three sons became associated with him, and in 1895 the business was incorporated. In 1912 the officers were Charles H. Parker, Sr., president and treasurer; M. F. Parker, general manager and secretary; Charles H. Parker, Jr., superintendent, and E. M. Parker, sales manager. The business of the company has shown a steady increase ever since the incorporation and it has become one of the largest producers of asphaltum blocks in the United States.

At various times efforts have been made by the enterprising business men of Valparaiso to secure the location of new manufacturing concerns in that city. At a meeting held on April 2, 1889, it was announced that $3,590 had been subscribed to a fund which was to be offered as a bonus for the location of a pump factory by some persons in the city of Chicago. The following evening another meeting was held and it was then reported that all but $300 of the required amount had been subscribed. A tentative organization was effected and the directors were instructed to notify the Chicago parties to get their machinery, etc., but the promoters evidently had changed their minds and the factory was never established in Valparaiso. A month or so after this Charles H. Bluhm, of Michigan City, wrote to the mayor of Valparaiso making inquiries as to the prospects for the organization of a company to manufacture refrigerators. His plan for the formation of the company did not meet with the approval of the Valparaiso people and the company was not organized.

In 1892 two brothers named Dulaney came from Canton, Ohio, with a newly invented electric clock, which they proposed to manufacture and sell outright, instead of leasing them as was done by the Western Union Telegraph Company. A stock company was formed, most of the stock being sold in Valparaiso and Chicago, a building was leased from Benajah Williams, machinery was installed and the factory started. About a month after it was opened a sheriff from Ohio appeared on the scene and attached the machinery to satisfy the claims of some of the Dulaney's creditors in that state. Benajah Williams and J. H. McGill


raised enough money to satisfy the sheriff. Shortly after this Williams sold the building to the Dulaneys for $27,500, taking a mortgage for $10,000, stock in the company to the amount of $15,000 (said to be worth $60,000 at par), and allowing the purchasers to assume a mortgage indebtedness of $2,500. A few months later he sold the stock back to them for $15,000, receiving $7,500 in cash and the remainder in promissory notes. Not long after this deal was made Williams resigned the presidency of the company and foreclosed the mortgage on the building, though he permitted the Dulaneys to remove the machinery. Mr. Williams was indicted by the grand jury upon the complaint of some of the stockholders, but he was released by the court, which ordered a receiver appointed and released certain Valparaiso people from liability. This was the end of an industry that was accompanied by disaster from the start. All the stockholders ever got out of it was a valuable experience.

In 1899 word was received in Valparaiso that the Chicago Mica Company and the Chicago Wheel Company were desirous of securing a location somewhere outside of that city. A committee of citizens went to Chicago and persuaded Mr. Snyder, president of the Mica Company, to visit Valparaiso and look over the ground. The woolen mill building was pronounced by him to be the only one suitable for his purpose, and it was then learned that another Chicago concern had an option on the building, which belonged to R. M. Hutchinson and Senator Culbert, of Michigan City. This delayed matters for a short time, but on October 25, 1899, Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Snyder met in Valparaiso and reached an understanding which three days later resulted in a deal by which the building passed into the hands of the company. On February 28, 1900, the city council, upon a petition signed by 174 taxpayers, by a vote of five to three, donated $5,000 to the company and ordered the city clerk to draw a warrant for that amount. The Mica Company is Valparaiso's largest manufacturing industry. According to a statement of the State Bureau of Inspection, seventy-five people are employed. The mica bond insulators manufactured by this company are shipped to every


country on the globe where electricity is used for power or lighting purposes.

Powers, Higley & Company began the manufacture of desks and educational specialties in 1887. In the spring of 1903 their factory was removed to Valparaiso and located in the addition known as Chautauqua Park, through the influence of the Valparaiso Land and Development Company, which was organized in 1900. The firm was succeeded by the Chautauqua Manufacturing Company, at least in name. Among the articles turned out by this concern are the Chautauqua art desk, the challenge safety swing, loose leaf catalogue binders, photograph and post card albums, nature study school charts, etc.

In 1905 James H. McGill, founder of the Valparaiso telephone system and president of the local telephone company, began the manufacture of electrical specialties in the building formerly occupied by the Kellogg foundry and machine shop on West Indiana avenue near the Pennsylvania railroad station. Only a few persons were at first employed, but the business has grown until Mr. McGill found it necessary to enlarge the building, and in 1912 the State Bureau of Inspection reported fifty-two people engaged in the factory.

C. O. Hilstrom began the manufacture of organs in Chicago in 1869. In 1880 he removed his factory to Chesterton and four years later enlarged his plant so as to give employment to fifty men and turn out eight organs daily. In 1899 a strike among the piano workers in the Chicago factories led the Russell-Lane Company to remove a portion of their work to Mr. Hilstrom's building in Chesterton, and in this way Porter county had for a time a piano factory. In 1906 Mr. Hilstrom began the manufacture of a new cabinet dresser. A branch was established at Fort Worth, Texas, and for a few years the concern did a prosperous business. After Mr. Hilstrom's death the organ works were closed down and in 1912 the buildings were standing vacant.

In 1890 the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company established a large plant at Porter. On October 21, 1904, the plant was destroyed by fire, with the exception of the barns, clay sheds and some minor buildings,


the loss reaching $50,000. Early in the spring of 1905 the plant was rebuilt, the buildings being made as nearly fire-proof as possible and a fire engine was installed as a precautionary measure against further disaster. This company made an exhibit at the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 which advertised its business all over the civilized world and brought in a large number of orders. In 1912 the works at Porter employed 90 men and were turning out about 75,000 brick daily. The pressed brick made by this concern are subjected to a pressure of 2,800 tons, which renders them almost as solid as marble. The company also makes a velour, or rough finished brick, which is becoming quite popular, and a paving brick which is claimed to be the equal of any in the country. An electric lighting plant has been added to the equipment, so that the works can be run both night and day, and even then the company in August, 1912, was behind with its orders. The value of the company's holdings at Porter, including real estate, is something like $200,000. The main offices of the company are in the Chamber of Commerce building in Chicago.

In 1893 the Vienna Enamel Stamping Company, which had been established nine years before at Porter, passed into the hands of a receiver. In August, 1900, J. T. Darling submitted a proposition to the people of Porter that for a bonus of $10,000 and fifty building lots, he would purchase the property of the enameling company and spend $20,000 in improvements to make it available for a glass works that would employ not less than 150 men. The Porter Land Company offered to convey 100 lots to those who subscribed to the $10,000 fund, and on May 27, 1902, the following officers of the Chicago Flint & Line Glass Company were elected: Charles J. Bockius, of Marion, Indiana, president; Louis D. McCall, vice-president; W. S. Calder, secretary and treasurer. The Porter Land Company gave $1,600 in cash and eighty-four lots to secure the location of the works. On June 16, 1902, a heavy rain flooded the ovens and three months were spent in pumping out the water. Other causes combined to delay the opening so that it was December 24th before the works actually began operations. Financially


the glass factory was never a great success. On January 1, 1905, Pitkin & Brooks took a six months option on the property, but at the expiration of that period declined to close the option by purchase. Consequently, on July 1, 1905, the factory closed. In July, 1911, the works were dismantled, the stock and fixtures removed to Chicago, and a year later the matter was in the courts for adjustment. A little later Pitkin & Brooks made overtures to the Valparaiso Commercial Club, offering to locate their factory in that city upon assurance of a bonus of $8,000. This sum was raised by the progressive citizens of Valparaiso, and at this writing - August 14, 1912 - a new building is well under way near the Joliet road bridge in Chautauqua Park addition.

Some years ago a merchant at Three Oaks, Michigan, realizing that whalebone was every year becoming scarcer, set to work to discover a substitute. After a number of experiments he found the most suitable material in the quills of the wing and tail feathers of the common turkey. He perfected his invention and placed upon the market the product known as "Featherbone." About 1897 a branch of the Warren Featherbone Company was established at Porter, the main works being at Three Oaks, Michigan. All parts of the feathers were utilized, the quills forming the substitute for whalebone and the vanes or vexilla being used to make materials for upholstering, pillows, cushions, etc. The Porter branch was in operation but a few years. In January, 1905, the property passed into the hands of the Sall Mount & Asbestos Company, manufacturers of rubber and mica roofing, fire-proofing materials. This concern in 1912 was the largest manufacturing establishment in Porter county in point of the number of people employed, 105 persons being reported to the State Bureau of Inspection.

For the past twenty-five years J. L. Coovert has been engaged in the manufacture of drain tile at Valparaiso, his factory being located between Washington and Lafayette streets near the Grand Trunk railroad. His output has been about 200,000 pieces of tile annually. In recent years he has turned his attention to the manufacture of a concrete tile. The report of the State Bureau of Statistics for 1910 also


mentions brick and tile mills at Porter and Hebron. In the winter of 1911-12 a lock-nut factory was started at Porter. It manufactures what its name suggests - a lock-nut bolt - for use in automobile construction and certain lines of railroad work.

Among the minor manufacturing industries of the county are several harness shops at Valparaiso, Hebron and Porter; sawmills, cigar factories, creameries and ice cream factories, etc. Most of these concerns are small, some having a capital of but a few hundred dollars, but all appear to be doing well. Reid, Murdoch & Company have a depot at Porter where thousands of cucumbers are gathered for shipment for the main works at Hammond. That the industries of Porter county have been prosperous in recent years is evidenced by the fact that from 1870 to 1910 the per capita wealth increased from $376 to over $700, and this despite the fact that several companies failed during that period. In 1870 there was one company doing business in the county that was incorporated with a capital of $10,000 or over. Thirty years later the number of such corporations had increased to fifty-seven. Truly, this is not a bad record.


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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