History of Porter County, 1912County history published by The Lewis Publishing Company . . . .
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.
HISTORY OF PORTER COUNTY
ADVENTURES WITH THE INDIANS -
REASON BELL - "UNCLE JOE" MARKS - PERSONAL MENTION OF PIONEER SETTLERS - CHARLES
OSBORNE'S GRAVE - JERRY SIMPSON ONCE A RESIDENT OF PORTER COUNTY - "LUCKY"
BALDWIN - A SNIPING EXPEDITION - A THIEVING PREACHER - STORMS - FIRES - RAILROAD
WRECKS - THE EXECUTION OF STAVES - OTHER NOTED MURDER CASES - ATTEMPTED ROBBERY
OF THE COLLEGE SAFE - PROFITABLE PEACHES - A PAIR OF COUNTERFEITERS - MYSTERIES
- A HAUNTED HOUSE - AN ACT OF HEROISM.
When the actual settlement of Porter county began in 1833 there were still quite a number of Pottawatomie Indians living within the confines of the county. Although these Indians were generally friendly in their relations with the whites, the two races sometimes came dangerously near a conflict. Among the early settlers of Westchester township was Jacob Beck, who came to Porter county in 1835. He was fond of hunting, and on one of his visits to Michigan City purchased a new rifle. On his way home he passed by an Indian village or encampment and a "big brave" asked to look at the new gun. As soon as he received it in his hands he hurried into his wigwam. Knowing he would hide the rifle if given a few minutes time, Beck jumped from his horse and started in pursuit. He was a powerful man physically and had no trouble in wresting the rifle from the hands of the savage, but other Indians immediately appeared and Beck realized that his safety lay in
getting away from there as soon as possible. Vaulting into his saddle, he attempted to start his horse, when the Indian from whom the gun had been taken grabbed hold of the reins and compelled the horse to stand still. Without stopping to consider what the consequences might be, Beck brought the heavy gun barrel down upon the Indian's head with sufficient force to "lay him out." Before the others could rally to the support of their fallen comrade Beck was under full gallop, and was soon out of immediate danger. Feeling certain that he would be pursued, upon reaching his home he told his wife what he had done, and that night they slept in the woods near their home, expecting every minute to hear the war-whoop or see the flames of their burning cabin, fired by the torch of the savages. The next morning Colonel John Whistler went to the Indian village and by some persuasion, and probably a few threats, induced the inhabitants to drop the matter. Beck was not further molested.
On another occasion Beck was lying down in his cabin, taking a nap, when a big Indian came and asked for something to eat. Not satisfied with Mrs. Beck's statement that she had nothing for him, he entered the house and began searching for food. Beck was aroused by the noise and lost no time in kicking the Indian out. The savage then counted upon his fingers to indicate that in a little while he would come back with ten men and wreak vengeance upon the pale face who had humiliated him. The door of the cabin was barricaded and other defensive preparations made to receive the Indians in case they should appear. In a short time they came, and it so happened that Beck knew the leader. A parley ensued, in which it was decided to settle the dispute by a wrestling match. Beck allowed nine of the Indians to throw him; the tenth was the one he had ejected from his cabin but a short time before, and he refused to wrestle with the man whom he had kicked out, saying that he did not object to wrestling with men, but he would not wrestle with a dog. This turned the laugh on the defeated Indian and they went away in good spirits.
Near the old town of Prattville was an Indian village of about 100
or more inhabitants. These Indians annoyed the white settlers in the neighborhood by petty thievery, but they never committed any serious depredations. In this village lived two Indians named Wap-muk (or Wak-muck) and Cha-nin-a-win, who were not the best of friends. On one occasion, after these two had imbibed sufficient "fire water," each imagined himself to be the other's superior. A fight ensued in which Wap-muck was victorious, because his opponent was too drunk to put up a good fight. Fearing that he would be called upon to fight a second time when Cha-nin-a-win was sober, and being uncertain as to the result of such a conflict, Wap-muk took time by the forelock one day by ahooting off the top of Cha-nin-a-win's head as he lay asleep under a tree. Some of the white men living in the vicinity were inclined to have Wap-muk arrested and tried by the white man's law. According to Indian customs, the life of the murderer was subject to forfeit, but a compromise was finally effected, by which Wap-muk was made to give to the squaw of the victim a certain number of ponies and a quantity of valuable furs. As Cha-nin-a-win was well known to be a drunken, worthless Indian, the price fixed upon his life was placed sufficiently low that his slayer could pay it without serious inconvenience. The happy ending of the whole affair was celebrated by a banquet, to which G. W. Bartholomew was invited, and at which the "piece de resistance" was a fat dog. It is not known whether or not Mr. Bartholomew accepted the invitation.
About 1836 or 1837, Simeon Bryant, who settled near Boone Grove in 1835, had as a servant a young woman named Catherine Sadoris. One day, while the family was absent from home, the house was visited by a party of Indians. While they were there Miss Sardoris returned, and as she came around the corner of the house was startled to discover an Indian pointing his gun at her. As a matter of fact, the Indian knew nothing of the girl's presence and was merely aiming his gun at some imaginary foe or game animal. The girl did not know this, however, and fled for the woods near by. The Indians called to her to stop, intending to explain that they did not wish to harm her, but their cries
only added to her speed and she kept on until she found the friendly shelter of the timber. When Mr. Bryant and his family returned, the Indians told them what had happened. .A searching party was organized, but the girl was not found until the next day, having passed the night in the woods under the impression that all the members of the Bryant family had been slain.
There were a number of such incidents occurred during the few years the Indians remained in the county after the coming of the first settlers, but the greatest annoyance on account of the Pottawatomies came through their begging propensities. They would come to a settlers cabin and ask for food. If it was given them, the housewife might prepare for a second visit, for it was sure to come. As the Indians became better acquainted they would look around and select some little trinket, perhaps of little value, and ask that it be given to them. The next request would be for something more valuable, their begging being conducted with diplomacy and always in an ascending ratio. The settlers soon found out that the best way to get along with them was to refuse all requests and send them about their business. Though the Indians pretended to be offended at such treatment, they rarely, if ever, showed their resentment by hostile actions, probably realizing that the arm of "Uncle Sam" was long enough to protect his children upon the frontier.
Mention has been made in a former chapter of Reason Bell, Jr., who was the first white child born in Porter county. His birth occurred on January 11, 1834. At the age of fifteen years he lost one of his feet through an accident, and at the age of eighteen became deputy county auditor. When the Republican party was organized, although not yet twenty-one years of age, he took a leading part in the management of that party's affairs. In 1857, at the age of twenty-three, he was elected county auditor and served for eight years. In 1870 he was again elected auditor and held the office for eight years, making sixteen years in all. He also served as justice of the peace in Center township. He died on July 15, 1899. His father died in 1867 and his mother in 1881.
One of the most eccentric characters that ever lived in Porter county was Joseph Marks - better known as "Uncle Joe." He was born in England, September 11, 1820, and came to America as a young man in 1849. Soon after his arrival in this country he located in Valparaiso and built the house on the corner of Franklin and Chicago streets, in which he died. He established the first foundry in Valparaiso, making iron kettles, plows, stoves, etc. He also dealt in second-hand furniture, glass and tinwaze, bought scrap iron, rags, etc. Uncle Joe was twice married. His second wife was a half-breed Indian who was born about the time of the Pontiac war. He was fond of children and every Christmas distributed among his juvenile friends a barrel of candy. Although not a believer in the tenets of the Christian religion, he was a constant attendant at church, and did not hesitate to criticize the sermons to which he listened, sometimes speaking right out at the time. Rev. Robert Beer told the writer of one instance of Uncle Joe's criticism. One Sunday evening Mr. Beer touched upon the subject of eternal punishment in his sermon. The next morning he met Uncle Joe at the postoffice. "Robert," said Marks, "I did not like your sermon last night."
"Well, I am sorry for that," replied the minister, "for I always like to please my audience."
"Suppose you should take one of your children," continued the eccentric old Englishman, "and hold him upon a hot stove until he was burned to a crisp. What would the people do to you?"
"They would probably lynch me," said Mr. Beer.
"Well, then, what must I think of your Heavenly Father, who consigns his children to a fire that is never quenched and keeps them there through all eternity?"
Mr. Beers admits that this criticism modified, to some degree at least, his views upon the subject of eternal punishment.
At one time Uncle Joe had about a hundred pigeons around his premises. They kept the place so littered up that the neighbors started the circulation of a petition to the city council to make the owner clean
up his place. Among those who signed the petition was Elias Axe, who for years had been one of Uncle Joe's most intimate friends, but when the latter learned that Mr. Axe had signed the petition the friendship was broken off, never to be renewed. Joseph Marks died on July 26, 1905. His wife had died some time before, and in the meantime he had been taken care of by John Kuehl and his mother. He left a sister in Canada and several nieces. The site of the old Marks residence is now occupied by the Pioneer Flats.
Elias Axe, mentioned above, was born in Berkely county, Virginia, February 14, 1819. After the death of his father, his mother removed to Wayne county, Ohio, and in 1836 Elias came to Porter county, Indiana. In 1844 Mr. Axe was elected county treasurer. He was one of the charter members of the Christian church and was active in promoting the general welfare of the community. He died at Valparaiso on April 21, 1894.
Among the early settlers of Porter county was John N. Skinner, who was a leading merchant of Valparaiso and one of the active supporters of the Valparaiso Male and Female College. He was also interested in the building of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad and later the Grand Trunk. In 1858 he was the Democratic candidate for state senator; was elected mayor of Valparaiso in 1872, and was nominated by his party for Congress in 1880, but was defeated. He died in the spring of 1882.
Samuel S. Skinner, another early settler, was born in Cattaraugus county, New York, July 16, 1824. When twelve years old he came to Porter county with his parents and upon reaching manhood became active and prominent in public affairs. He was one of the organizers of the old First National Bank and was president of that institution from 1869 to 1875. The first brick building in Valparaiso was erected by him for his use as a merchant. He represented Porter county in the state legislature for two years and was for six years a member of the city council. His death occurred on August 7, 1903.
Other old settlers or deceased citizens, who in their day were promi-
nent in the business and public affairs of the county, were Theophilus Crumpacker, Artillus V. Bartholomew, Thomas A. E. Campbell, G. Z. Salyer, Jeremiah Hamell, John Hansford, Thomas T. Maulsby, Nelson Barnard, Henry Hageman, Thomas G. Lytle and John D. Wilson.
Theophilus Crumpacker was born in Montgomery county, Virginia, January 18, 1822. He came with his parents, Owen and Hannah Crumpacker, to Porter county in 1834. The family later removed to Laporte county, where the father died in 1848. After living for a while in Illinois, Theophilus Crumpacker returned to Porter county and followed farming in Washington township until 1888, when he became a resident of Valparaiso. His death occurred at his home in that city on November 27, 1908. One of his sons, Edgar D., is the present Congressman from the Tenth district, and another son, Grant, is one of the prominent members of the Porter county bar.
Artillus V. Bartholomew, merchant, was born in Licking county, Ohio, November 26, 1818. He came with his parents to Porter county in 1834 and about a year later they located on a farm in Center township. In 1844 he married Miss Elizabeth Stephens, and in 1862 removed to the city of Valparaiso, where he engaged in merchandising. For more than twenty years he occupied the same building and built up a trade of something like $75,000 a year. He was a member of the Presbyterian church, one of the organizers of the Republican party in the county, served one term in the state legislature, was at one time county commissioner, and was recognized as one of the public spirited citizens. He died in August, 1896.
Thomas A. E. Campbell, who settled in the county in 1834, was at that time about twenty-four years of age. After teaching school for a short time he was appointed postmaster at Valparaiso, and upon retiring from that position engaged in mercantile pursuits. Mr. Campbell was one of the promoters of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad; was a charter member of the Masonic lodge at Valparaiso; served as deputy county clerk and county treasurer, and at the time of his death, May 14, 1878, was engaged in farming.
Ruel Starr, son of Noah and Alfleda (Fuller) Starr, was born in Oneida county, New York, December 22, 1804. In 1830 he went to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he married Phebe E. Eldred, and in 1834 came to Porter county, locating in Washington township. He was a man of great energy and sound business ability, and through these traits of character he prospered until he was considered one of the wealthy men of the county at the time of his death, which occurred on April 19, 1875. He served one term as county commissioner and was active in everything pertaining to the general welfare of the county and its people.
G. Z. Salyer, one of the first carpenters in Valparaiso, was born in Tompkins county, New York, April 16, 1809, and died in Valparaiso on September 20, 1865. He married Miss Xenia Read at White Pigeon, Michigan in May, 1833, and in 1835 settled in Porter county, where he bought eighty acres of land and a small grocery store. He assisted in building some of the first residences and business blocks in Valparaiso, and was four years a justice of the peace.
Jeremiah Hamell, a native of Ohio, came to Valparaiso in 1836 and was one of the pioneer merchants of that city. Some idea of the character of the of the mercantile establishments of that day may be gained from the following little story told on Mr. Hamell. A lady from the southern part of the county called at the store and purchased a few articles, when, with the customary politeness of the merchant, Mr. Hamell asked: "Is there anything else?" The young woman, who was fond of a joke, looked around the room for a few minutes and replied: "Mr. Hamell, I believe I'll just take your stock home with me in my saddlebags, select what I need and return the balance." Though the stock at that time might have been small, the aims and ambitions of the proprietor were large and he pursued his chosen calling, sure of ultimate success. Mr. Hamell was a fine public speaker and was frequently called upon to take part in political campaigns. In 1837 he represented Porter and Lake counties in the lower house of the state legislature.
John Hansford, who came to the county in 1842 and engaged in
farming in Washington township, was born at Somerset, England, January 8, 1813. At the age of fifteen years he came to America and from that time to his settlement in Porter county was employed in various occupations in New Jersey, New Orleans, Cuba and Chicago. As a farmer he was successful and in his day was regarded as one of the influential citizens of the county. In later years he was in the employ of the Grand Trunk railway, and at one time he owned over 900 acres of fine farming land.
Thomas T. Maulsby, who died in Valparaiso, October 16, 1910, was neither a captain of industry nor a public character, but he represented a high type of American citizenship. He was born in Wayne county, Indiana in 1829 and came with his parents to Porter county when he was but four years old. About 1849 he engaged in the clothing business, from which he retired after some twenty-five years, and then for about twenty years he was "mine host" of the Merchants' Hotel on Indiana avenue. He then went to Chicago, where he remained but a short time, when he returned to Valparaiso and was in the employ of William Bruns, the tailor. He died in his room over Dudley's restaurant and was survived by a son and three daughters.
Nelson Barnard, farmer and legislator, was born in Wayne county, Ohio, October 6, 1829, and came to Porter county in 1835with his parents, who settled in Jackson township. He was one of the founders of the Republican party in the county, and served two terms in the lower house of the state legislature. A few weeks before his death he fell and fractured his hip. Gangrene resulted and he died on March 6, 1904.
Henry Hageman, for many years a prominent figure in the northern part of the county, was a native of Union county, Indiana. He came to Porter county when about twenty years of age and settled in Westchester township. He was one of the leading Republicans in that end of the county, served as township trustee and assessor, and was the founder of the town of Hageman - now Porter. Mr. Hageman died on August 22, 1899, aged eighty-three years.
Thomas G. Lytle was born in Wayne county, Ohio, December 3, 1824.
In 1840 he came to Porter county, his parents settling near Boone Grove, and in 1853 he located in Valparaiso, where he embarked in the drug business. He was captain of Company C, One Hundred and Thirty- eighth Indiana infantry, in the Civil war; served as sheriff of the county for four years, and was three times elected mayor of Valparaiso. Captain Lytle dropped dead in Frank Faley's store on January 4, 1898.
John D. Wilson, who in his day was no doubt the leading contractor and builder of Valparaiso, was born in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, October 2, 1829, one of eight children born to William and Rachel (Clark) Wilson, both natives of New Jersey and of German descent. He was reared on his father's farm, received a good common school education, and in 1853 came to Indiana, which was then a comparatively new state. After three years in Lake county he came to Valparaiso, where he found employment as a carpenter. For fifteen years he was in the employ of the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad Company as a bridge builder, and two years of that time made his home in Warsaw, Indiana. In 1872 he purchased the planing mill on East Main street and began business as a contractor. Many of the best business buildings and residences in the city were erected by him. He also built the court-house, the Presbyterian church, and a number of public edifices. In 1855, while living in Lake county, he married Miss Nancy P. Brown, who bore him six children - Edmund L., Rachel, John H., Emma J., William and Frank S. Mr. Wilson was a Knight Templar Mason and a public spirited citizen. He died at his home in Valparaiso November 13, 1895.
A score or more of the other pioneers might be mentioned as being equally prominent with those above, but the foregoing will the reader some knowledge of the character of the men who aided in the development of Porter county. They were sturdy, courageous, industrious and honest men who overcame the obstacles and endured the hardships of pioneer life that they might provide comfortable homes for themselves in their declining years and leave to their posterity a heritage unimpaired by selfishness or wrong doing
In the Barnard cemetery, in Jackson township, is the grave of Charles Osborne, who died on December 28, 1850, at the age of seventy-five years. Few people know, as they read the inscription upon the modest tombstone, that Mr. Osborne was a Quaker and one of the very earliest advocates of the abolition of chattel slavery. It is said that he was the author of the first pamphlet demanding in no uncertain terms the emancipation of the slaves in the United States. He visited North Carolina and Tennessee at an early date and organized in those states a number of emancipation societies. He also made several trips to Europe, on one of which he met William E. Gladstone, then a youth, but who afterward achieved a world-wide reputation as the "Grand Old Man." Mr. Osborne was well acquainted with Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and other notables of that period, but he passed from the stage of action before Garrison, Phillips, and other champions of emancipation came on. It is an honor to Porter county that this man's mortal remains sleep beneath her soil.
It may not be generally known that Jerry Simpson, the "sockless statesman" of Kansas, and "Lucky" Baldwin, the Colorado millionaire, both were at one time in their lives citizens of Porter county. Joseph Simpson, Jerry's father, settled about three miles east of Chesterton in 1866. Jerry lived there with his father for awhile and in 1870 married Miss Jane Cape, of Jackson Center. He was at that time a sailor on the Great Lakes and the marriage was solemnized at Buffalo, New York. Some years later he went to Kansas and in 1890 was nominated for Congress by the Farmer's Alliance. Jerry was something of a politician, and in one of the joint debates with his opponent said: "My friend here (pointing to his opponent) wears silk socks, while I am not able to afford even cotton," and pulling up his trousers a little way exposed his bare ankles. The sally was applauded, Simpson was elected, and became known all over the United States as the "sockless statesman." Baldwin ran a saloon on South Washington street, not far from the Valparaiso National Bank, before going to Colorado. When gold was struck in the Cripple creek district, he was fortunate enough to locate a claim that made him wealthy and gave him the sobriquet of "Lucky" Baldwin.
In July, 1851, Aaron Rogers, a man with numerous peculiarities, came to Valparaiso and opened a jewelry store, which he called the "Mammoth Cave." It was not long until he became known as "Cave" Rogers. He was at that time about twenty-four years of age, and the young men of the town, noticing his eccentric ways, decided to play a trick on him. Taylor Hogan and one of the Skinner boys went to him and told him of large numbers of snipe in the vicinity of Round lake, on the Chesterton road about two miles north of town. They proposed to get up a sniping party and invited him to join. "Cave" was willing and at the appointed time in the evening met about twenty young fellows bent on catching snipe. A large sack had been provided and upon arriving at the place where one of the boys had seen "an acre and a half of snipe" that morning the final preparations were made. Rogers was selected to hold the bag in the ditch while the others would drive the snipe into it, but he pleaded ignorance of the method and promised to hold it the second time. Another young man then volunteered to "hold the bag," Rogers joining the drivers on the first attempt. But "Cave" was of Irish extraction and was not as green as he looked. In the darkness he easily managed to separate himself from the others and made a bee line for town, where he took up a position to overhear their comments when they returned. After that he was immune against the pranks of the young men. In later years he engaged in building houses for rent and in loaning money, becoming well off before he died.
A few years before the war a preacher named Lovereign came from Canada and opened a school in Valparaiso. He was a good teacher and his sermons were always listened to with interest. After he had been in town awhile, people began to miss things, but no suspicion pointed to the preacher until a young woman who had been employed by Mrs. Lovereign went to a store to exchange a pair of shoes, which she said Mrs. Lovereign had given her in payment of her wages, but they did not fit. The merchant recognized the shoes as having come from a case that had been stolen from the railroad depot a short time before. T. A. Hogan undertook to play the part of detective and traced the theft to the preacher.
It was then discovered that he had stolen about twenty bushels of wheat from Skinner's warehouse and carried the sacks to his residence more than half a mile away. Upon searching his premises heavy articles of hardware, for which he could have no earthly use, and various other pieces of missing property were found. He was tried before Judge Talcott, who sentenced him to two years in the state's prison at Michigan City. After serving his sentence he disappeared.
Porter county is located in a belt where storms are of frequent occurrence. It
would be impossible to chronicle every storm that has occurred within the
county, but the writer has been able to gather records of some of the most
severe ones that have passed over the county during the last thirty years. On
May 10, 1882, an electrical storm played havoc south of Valparaiso. A fourteen
year old boy named Otto Bartlett was struck by the lightning while plowing on
Scott Fleming's farm near Gates' Corners, but was not killed. Several buildings
were struck and considerable damage done to the growing crops. Young Bartlett
was the son of a widow who had resided in the county but a few weeks.
The central and southern parts of the county suffered considerable loss from an electrical storm, accompanied by a high wind, on the last day of July, 1888. A. V. Bartholomew's brick farm house was struck by lightning; Caleb Counter's barn, five miles southwest of Valparaiso was destroyed; Nelson Swener's house near the Grand Trunk railway station at Valparaiso was damaged, the fire alarm instruments were put out of service, wires were blown down, and near Boone Grove there was a heavy fall of hail that did great damage to the growing crops.
On August 12, 1896, the entire county was visited by a storm of great severity which lasted for three hours. The rainfall was unusually heavy, several houses in the city of Valparaiso were struck by lightning, telephone and electric light wires were damaged to such an extent that several days elapsed before the service could be restored to its normal condition. A few farm buildings in different parts of the county were blown down by the wind.
Lightning struck the college auditorium in the great storm of June 5, 1899, and the wind removed about one-third of the roof from the building, causing a loss of $1,500. At the electric light works three large smokestacks were blown down, telegraph and telephone wires were again severely injured, several buildings and a large number of shade trees in Valparaiso were blown down by the wind, as were two of the windows in the tower of the court-house. On the 18th of the same month there was a destructive hail storm in the northwestern part of the county. It is said that every pane of glass in the windows from Crisman to Babcock was broken by the hail; pigs, chickens and other small animals and fowls were killed by the hail-stones and crops were literally beaten into the ground. Wind and lightning also did considerable damage.
A storm passed eastward across the central portion of the county on July 9,1908. West of Valparaiso the barn of Andrew Gustafson and one belonging to a man named Pierce were destroyed. Washington township was the greatest sufferer, the Bryarly school house having been struck by lightning and burned to the ground, several barns were wrecked by
wind and lightning and crops rendered practically worthless in the path of the storm.
All northwestern Indiana felt the force of the great storm of March 25, 1905. The wind disabled miles of telegraph and telephone lines; bridges and culverts were washed away by the flood; the dam at Deep River was washed out; trees were uprooted, and several buildings were either struck by lightning or blown from their foundations. No lives were lost in Porter county, but Lake county was less fortunate. Six people were hurt at Hammond, and at Indiana Harbor four men were killed and about twenty injured, some so severely that they afterward died. At East Chicago the plant of the Republic Steel and Iron Company was damaged and several houses blown down.
On May 11, 1905, Valparaiso and vicinity suffered much damage by an electrical storm, which was accompanied by a strong wind and a fall of rain that amounted almost to a cloud burst. Columbus Pierce's residence, at the corner of Jefferson and Greenwich streets, was twice struck by lightning. Barns belonging to T. Clifford, near Wheeler, and Mrs. Gordon, in Washington township, were destroyed by wind and lightning, as was the residence of Jonas Smith south of Valparaiso. Cellars were flooded and acres of wheat were destroyed by the heavy rainfall, the straw being just at that stage of growth where it was easily broken.
A regular "Kansas blizzard" struck Porter county on February 18, 1908. About twelve inches of snow fell in a few hours, and the high wind blew it into drifts that were almost insurmountable. The roof of Eglin's feed store on West Main street in Valparaiso was broken in by the weight of the snow, the damage amounting to $1,000, and other buildings were damaged to a less extent. When the rural mail carriers started out on the morning of the 19th they found the roads so full of snow drifts that they turned back, traffic on the railroads was impeded, and it was several days before travel resumed its customary proportions.
At 6 :45 p. m. on the last day of April, 1909, a wind storm struck Porter county at Wheeler and passed almost due eastward across the county. Several small buildings on farms near Wheeler were reduced to ruins.
The highways were obstructed by branches blown from trees. At Flint lake Freund's dancing pavilion was wrecked. Two miles south of Valparaiso W. B. Stoner's barn was blown down. The wind was followed by a heavy fall of rain, with severe lightning and thunder, but the only damage was done by the wind.
An electrical storm passed over a part of the county on July 22, 1909. Daniel Kraft's barn in Portage township was struck by lightning and burned. Two of his sons who chanced to be in the barn at the time were rendered unconscious for awhile by the force of the bolt. Near Coburg the barn of I. H. Forbes was struck by lightning, set on fire and totally consumed, and there were a few instances of minor damages reported.
Joseph Smith's house on College Hill, at Valparaiso, was struck by lightning in the electrical storm of August 12, 1909, and John Morrison's barn north of the city was also struck, though neither building was burned. Considerable damage was done by this storm through the flooding of cellars, washing gutters in the highways, etc.
Probably the most severe storm ever experienced by the people of Porter county was the cyclone on Saturday night, November 11, 1911. It struck the county near Lake Eliza, in the northern part of Porter township and traveled in a northeasterly direction, crossing the eastern boundary of the county near Coburg. Windmills, out buildings and barns on several farms west of Valparaiso were wrecked, the principal sufferers being Calvin Skinkle, W. O. McGinley, Edward Murphy and George Gast, the last named losing two barns. On P. W. Clifford's farm, occupied by J. I. Weddle, two large barns were totally destroyed. Farther north J. A. Wohlenberg's barn was blown down and Gus Mitchner's house, occupied by Henry Prentiss and family, was demolished. Mrs. Prentiss, with her little child, went to Wohlenberg's for shelter, and her husband was found wandering about in a dazed condition a mile and a half north of his ruined home. He could not explain how he happened to be in that locality and some have insisted that he was blown there by the terrific wind. The school house at Jackson Center was left a mass
of ruins and fences were scattered to the four winds. The damage was so great that it can hardly be estimated.
Several destructive fires have occurred in the county in recent years. About three o'clock on the morning of May 27, 1885, fire was discovered in the rear of a row of frame buildings on the north side of Main street east of Franklin. A smart breeze was blowing, and in two hours every building in that block was a mass of smoking ruins. The destruction included the skating rink, owned by Salisbury & Sloan, the Tremont House, Dolson's stables, in which several valuable horses were burned, Williams & Felton's livery barn and the two adjoining buildings, Wilkinson & Foster's implement house, and a number of smaller shops. It was fortunate that a high wind was not blowing, as in that case the loss would unquestionably have been much greater. As it was it ran into thousands of dollars.
The house of John Hamlet, a German, near "Sugar loaf," south of Valparaiso, was discovered on fire about four o'clock on the morning of July 16, 1890. This was one of the saddest events that ever occurred in the county. Mr. Hamlet was away from home, working on the new school house at Chesterton, and the fire started at an hour when his wife and four children were asleep. The fire was first noticed by some of the neighbors and before assistance could be rendered Mrs. Hamlet and her children were cremated. The remains of the five were interred in one coffin.
A few months after the Hamlet fire - Tuesday, November 25, 1890 - a disastrous fire occurred at Hebron, which destroyed a large part of the business district The fire broke out about three o'clock in the morning in Bryant & Dowd's store, where a loss of $5,000 was incurred by the owners. James White's hardware store, J. C. Smith's grocery, McIntyre & Kithcart's drug store, Fisher & Hoganss dry-goods house, Morgan Bros. drug store, White's blacksmith shop and Joseph Burgess' lime house were all reduced to ashes within a few hours, and the adjoining buildings on either side were more or less damaged. The heat was so
intense that the windows on the opposite side of the street were broken. The total loss was not far from $30,000.
Vineyard Hall, one of the largest dormitories at the Valparaiso University, was discovered to be on fire shortly before midnight, January 22, 1897, and before the fire department could reach the scene the flames were beyond control. There were some sixty or more students occupying the building and several of them had narrow escapes. Misses Minier and Warner were found insensible in their rooms and were rescued with difficulty. All of the inmates suffered more or less loss. The building belonged to a Mrs. Anderson, of Laporte, and was valued at $10,000. It was almost a total loss.
On Sunday evening, April 6, 1902, Chesterton suffered a loss of several thousand dollars by a fire which destroyed a number of the best business buildings in the town. It broke out between the Krieger building and the postoffice about ten o'clock, and swept down Calumet avenue. A high wind was blowing and sparks were carried a distance of five or six blocks, taxing to the utmost the fire-fighting facilities of the town. The postoffice, Ameling's saloon, Quick's hardware store, Wilson's boot and shoe store, Harrigan's hotel, Williams & Son's livery stable, and several smaller concerns were wiped out before the fire could be brought under control. There was no alley in the rear of the buildings, which restricted the efforts to extinguish the flames. The fire was thought to have been of incendiary origin. The total loss was about $20,000.
C. J. Kern's store in the Salyer block on Main street, Valparaiso, caught fire at noon on January 16, 1903. A stock of $12,000 was practically ruined and the building was damage to the extent of some $2,000. Fortunately the fire department was able to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjacent buildings.
In January, 1904, the postoffice at Ainsworth was burned in a somewhat peculiar manner. Frank Coyle, the postmaster, who lived in the building with his family and kept a small stock of groceries, arose early, built a fire in the stove and went to the pumping station a short distance away. The other members of the family were sound asleep and
before they awoke the stove became overheated and set fire to the house. Mrs. Coyle and her four daughters had a narrow escape. The loss was about $2,000.
On January 22,1904, the Grand Trunk railway station at Valparaiso was burned-the second time within five years. The fire started between the ceiling and the roof from a defective flue. The building had been erected but a few years before at a cost of $3,500. The Grand Trunk also suffered by fire in the burning of the elevator at Valparaiso on March 23, 1904. It was operated by Way, Higley & Company, and at the time of the fire contained about 4,000 bushels of grain, mostly oats. The total loss was about $6,000.
Shortly after eleven o'clock on the night of October 2, 1907, the buildings occupied by the Valparaiso Carriage Company on West Main street were discovered to be on fire. The building, which was owned by Frank A. Turner, was completely destroyed and the adjoining buildings were damaged. The total loss was about $11,000.
On April 8, 1908, the old Central Hotel at Chesterton was burned. It was an old landmark, having been first erected at City West, which in 1840 was regarded as rival to Chicago. It was later removed to Chesterton and remodeled. Originally a frame building, after its removal it was veneered with brick, which fact rendered it difficult to get at the fire. The loss was about $10,000, including the damages done to the buildings on either side of the hotel.
In the last quarter of a century a few railroad wrecks have happened in Porter county, which formed tragic though interesting events in her history. On October 11, 1887, a tail end collision occurred on the Chicago & Erie line at a water tank about half way between Boone Grove and Kouts. The fast freight, eastbound and loaded with dressed meats, took the side track at Boone Grove to allow a passenger train going in the same direction to pass. The engine of the passenger train was disabled at Hurlburt and only one side was in use when the freight was passed at Boone Grove, where the crew of the freight train were told of the disabled engine and instructed to follow slowly. Owing to
the defective locomotive, the engineer of the pagssenger train was unable to stop at the right place at the water tank, and the engine had to be "pinched off," that is moved with bars made for the purpose by placing them under the wheels on the track and prying the engine forward. While this was going on, the conductor ordered a red light to be displayed in the rear of the train, but on account of the fog it was not seen by the engineer of the freight train in time to avert the collision. He had barely time to reverse his engine and jump with his fireman for safety, when the freight engine crashed with terrific force into the rear coach of the passenger, killing eleven people and injuring a score or more, some of them seriously. Conductor Parks of the passenger train was indicted by the grand jury for not sending a flagman to the rear and placing torpedoes on the track, but Judge Field quashed the indictment.
The 1905 witnessed at least four disastrous wrecks in the county. On Sunday, February 12, a Baltimore & Ohio train ran into a Michigan Central wrecking train at the Willow creek crossing of the two roads and six persons were injured. The wrecking train was on the way to Ivanhoe, where a locomotive was off the track. The same day a train on the Pere Marquette line got stuck in the snow drifts east of Porter and was forced to use the Michigan Central tracks from Porter to New Buffalo. On Saturday, February 18th, two freight trains collided at McCool on the Baltimore & Ohio. One of the trains was left standing on the main track while the engine was engaged in doing some switching, and the other train ran into it, smashing the caboose and three cars next to it. The engineer and fireman of the running train were the only ones injured. Five persons were injured in a head-on collision at Suman, on the Baltimore & Ohio, on Friday, December 1st, when a passenger and freight met on the curve at that point.
It appears that the Baltimore & Ohio has been particularly unfortunate in the matter of wrecks in recent years. On Monday, November 12, 1906, one of the worst wrecks that ever happened in the county was caused by a head-on collision between two trains on this line near
the Woodville station. An eastbound freight had orders to wait at Babcock for the westbound passenger. It so happened that the Baltimore & Ohio had that night a large number of emigrants from southeastern Europe, bound for Chicago and the northwest, and the passenger train was run in two sections. The first section passed the freight at Babcock all right, and the engineer of the latter, not seeing any signal to indicate a second section, pulled out and started eastward. About 200 yards west of the station at Woodville the second section was met, the two engines coming together with sufficient force to reduce both of them to scrap iron. Forty-one persons were killed and a large number injured. Coroner Carson investigated the matter and ordered the arrest of the engineer of section one of the passenger, and the engineer, conductor and head brakeman of the freight. When the passenger engineer was brought to trial in April, 1907, he testified that upon stopping at McCool he discovered for the first time that his signal lights - indicating that another section was following - were out. His evidence was corroborated by that of his fireman and he was acquitted. The other cases were then dismissed.
Early in the fall of 1908, smoke from the forest fires in Wisconsin and Michigan settled over northern Indiana, and this condition was assigned as the cause of a wreck at Chesterton early on the morning of Monday, September 14th. On Sunday, the day before, an excursion was run from Indianapolis to Chicago over the Lake Erie & Western and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern roads. Returning, the excursion train left Chicago a little before midnight, and at Chesterton was waiting for a freight train to get from the main line to the side track, when the rear coach was struck by a suburban train. One woman was killed and twenty-three persons were injured. Fortunately the suburban train was not running fast when the collision came. The crew of that train stated that they were unable to see the lights on the rear coach of the excursion train on account of the dense smoke which overhung the track.
Although the citizens of Porter county have generally been moral
and law-abiding people, several murders have been committed upon her soil. The first notable homicide was the killing of John Pelton by Francis Staves in 1838. The two men had been working together in a sawmill in Laporte county and stopping at a place of rather unsavory reputation kept by a man named Palmer. Pelton was one of those who spent more than his income, and in order to avoid the payment of the debts he had contracted decided to take Horace Greeley's advice several years before it was uttered and "go West." Staves volunteered to act as his guide for a part of the way, probably all the more willingly because he knew that Pelton had something over $100 about his person. A day or two later Staves returned to his usual haunts, and no suspicion was aroused until later, when an Indian boy found a bundle of clothing tied up in a handkerchief, not far from Jesse Morgan's in Westchester township. Calling the attention of his father to his discovery, the elder Indian began a search and found the body of a man concealed under some brush at the root of an up-turned tree. Some of the white settlers were notified and the body was identified as that of John Pelton. Suspicion pointed to Staves as the last man that had been seen with the deceased. He was watched and it soon developed that he was rather flush with money for those days. Pelton had been shot from behind and after falling from his horse had been beaten over the head with a club. This stick showed the mark of a nick in the blade of the knife with which it had been cut, and this mark corresponded exactly with a knife found in Staves' pocket when he was searched. He also told conflicting stories as to the place where he had parted from Pelton. Staves was tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged. The execution took place on the lot just across the street from the south end of the high school building, and was witnessed by a throng of people. In November, 1901, William E. Brown, formerly auditor of Porter county, in writing to the South Bend Tribune, said: "Among the old settlers in that part of Porter county, the guilt or innocence of Staves has always been a mooted question. In fact in the early sixties a man in Des Moines, Iowa, was
said to have made a death bed confession in which he claimed to have committed the murder, completely exonerating Staves."
About the close of the Civil war, Chauncey F. Page, a jeweler who had been in the employ of Aaron Rogers, went to Crown Point and engaged in business for himself. He married Emma Goss, stepdaughter of Benjamin Long, but the union was not a happy one, and before a year Mrs. Page returned to the Long home at Pearce's mills, about five miles west of Valparaiso. On the night of January 15, 1867, Page learned that Mr. Long was away from home and took advantage of the opportunity to visit the house. Upon being denied admission he broke in the door with an axe and fired two shots at Mrs. Long, both of which took effect, killing her instantly. He then went to his wife's bedroom, and notwithstanding her piteous entreaties, shot her through the head. Miss Fredericka Ludolph, a daughter of Martin L. Ludolph, was spending the night with Mrs. Long and her daughter. Page next turned his attention to her. After shooting her twice he beat her over the head with a chair and left her for dead. Alarm was given and a pursuit organized in which Sheriff S. L. Bartholomew, M. L. McClelland, T. A. E. Campbell, T. A. Hogan, A. H. Goodwin, A. J. Buel and A. A. Starr joined. Page was captured in Chicago and brought back to Valparaiso for trial. Although Miss Ludolph was severely wounded she was able to appear at the trial as the principal witness for the state. It is said that Page almost fainted when he saw her enter the court room. The murderer was given a life sentence in the penitentiary at Michigan City, where he committed suicide in his cell.
A sensational case occurred in the fall of 1887, though the murder in this instance was committed in St. Louis, Missouri, by a preacher of Chesterton - William T. A. West. It seems that West became enamored of a young girl named Susie Beck, who had been employed as a domestic in his family and persuaded her to elope with him. At St. Louis he found employment as an electro plater and Miss Beck passed as his wife. One morning she was found dead in bed at the hotel where they had been boarding. A letter supposed to have been
written by her stated that she had taken arsenic with suicidal intent, and another letter written by West said his body would be found in the river. The St. Louis police took the view that this was merely a scheme to defraud the undertaker, and no effort was made to apprehend the minister. He came back to Chesterton, where his congregation had built him a comfortable parsonage, but his popularity had waned and he fled, presumably to Canada, abandoning his invalid wife and five small children. Ten years later J. G. Williams proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel at Seguin, Texas, was arrested as West, but parties from Chesterton failed to identify him as such and he was released. West was never brought to justice.
On August 16, 1895, Alonzo Powers shot and killed William Tratebas in Trudell's blacksmith shop at Chesterton. The two young men - Tratebas was but nineteen years old and Powers was twenty-four - had been on unfriendly terms for some time and had quarreled several times. Tratebas was in the shop when Powers came in and started a controversy that ended in blows being passed. Trudell separated them, when Powers drew a revolver and fired two shots, both of which struck his victim near the heart killing him almost instantly. Powers went home, but was soon arrested and the officers had hard work to prevent the crowd from lynching him. Sheriff Stoddard was notified and taking a deputy hurried to Chesterton. The murderer was in the office of Justice Sievers, guarded by a posse. He was slipped out the back way and driven rapidly to Valparaiso, the mob following for some distance. On October 24th Powers was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to the penitentiary for life. Some of the jurymen wanted to inflict the death penalty.
In the summer of 1898 William Sloan, a farmer in Boone township was annoyed by some persons carrying away boards from a bridge he had built over a small stream on a road leading to his farm. On Sunday night, July 24, 1898, he armed himself with a shot gun and stood guard over the bridge. About nine o'clock Albert Seely came along, and according to Sloan's statement, took one of the boards from
the floor of the bridge and started to take it away. Sloan fired and the entire charge struck Seeley in the legs, wounding him so severely that for a time it was thought the amputation of both limbs would be necessary. Two hours after the shooting, Sheriff Green was notified. In company with Deputy Billings drove to Sloan's and placed him under arrest. He was kept in jail until Seely's recovery was assured, and on October 19, 1898, was fined fifty dollars and costs.
Just a year from the day of Sloan's trial, Carl Baum, of Morgan township, shot at William Johnson four times, three of the shots taking effect, but not in any vital part. Baum was arrested and confined in jail to await results. Prosecutor Sutton and his deputy, Frank P. Jones went out the next day and took Johnson's statement. Johnson recovered and Baum got off with a light jail sentence. Subsequently he made another attempt upon Johnson's life and was sent to the penitentiary.
About five o'clock on the morning of April 24, 1903, Truman Beam, the son of a farmer in Morgan township, entered his father's room and informed him that Martha Lawrence, their housekeeper was dead. It seems that the younger members of the family were absent from home. Truman and his father occupied rooms on the ground floor, and Miss Laurence slept up stairs. The son said that he called her, and not receiving any reply, went to her room to awaken her. He found her dressed, with the exception of her shoes and stockings, lying upon the bed dead, though her body was yet warm. The elder Beam, who could not hear very well, and for this reason did not hear his son call the girl, summoned the neighbors and marks of violence were noticed. Truman was arrested on circumstantial evidence, and after two trials, in both of which the jury disagreed, he was dismissed. In the trial it developed that the girl was a victim of epilepsy, and many believe that death came during one of her fits, the marks of violence having been inflicted by herself during her struggles.
November 13, 1906, was pay-day on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railroad. Some of the men employed on the west section at
Valparaiso, celebrated the event by taking a few drinks. Not long afterward, Frank Caresto, an Italian, quarreled with Guy Hinkle over lifting a hand car from the track. The foreman separated them, but they soon got together again and resumed the quarrel. Again they were separated, but about half an hour before noon Caresto, who had managed to get hold of a pistol, shot and killed Hinkle. The Italian fled, pursued by a crowd of people who had hastily assembled upon hearing the shot. He was found cowering in a ditch near the Nickel Plate tracks by officer Arnold. By this time the crowd was furious over the cold blooded murder. Cries of "Lynch him!" "Give him the rope!" etc., were heard on all sides, but the officers succeeded in landing him in jail. In January, 1907, Caresto was tried for manslaughter and given an indeterminate sentence of from two to twenty-one years in the penitentiary. Under this form of sentence, the pardoning board has power to release a convict at any time after the minimum time named in the sentence has been served.
In August, 1910, Alvin Johnson went to board with Jacob Walter, who kept a hotel at Kouts. It was not long until the new boarder began to show marked attention to Mrs. Walter, and was ordered by her husband to leave the premises. The matter was finally adjusted so that Johnson remained at the hotel, and again he began paying court to the landlady. A little after five o'clock on the morning of December 16, 1910, Walter fired both barrels of his shotgun at Johnson, the full charge taking effect. Johnson lived but a short time after the shooting. Walter was tried for murder in January 1911, but established the theory of self defense and was acquitted.
A short time before Christmas, 1910, Edward Davidson came to Valparaiso to visit his sister, Mrs. Dudley, whose husband ran a restaurant on North Washington street. Davidson, who was about twenty-one years of age, found employment in the restaurant and soon formed the acquaintance of several young men about town. On the morning of December 20, his body was found near the tracks of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago railway, and indication of foul
play were observed. In his verdict Coroner Carson decided that "the deceased came to his death by violence inflicted upon the head which fractured and crushed the skull, by divers persons, among whom from the evidence submitted were Michael Curtin and others." Michael Curtin, Robert Fleming and Roy Sowards were arrested, tried at Crown Point and acquitted. Later Curtin filed a suit for $15,000 damages against the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad Company, on the grounds that the watchman of that company at the Napoleon street crossing, where Davidson's body was found, had testified falsely against him before the grand jury. This case never came to trial. The three young men left Valparaiso, but later came back, when they were threatened with lynching and departed hurriedly never to return to Porter county.
One of the most mysterious murders ever committed within the county was that of Wayne Hale, who was lured from his home near the Wheeler bridge on the night of August 29, 1905, and killed. An Italian who had boarded with Hale, and with whom he had quarreled, was suspected, but he could not be found. Mrs. Hale was arrested on the charge of being accessory before the fact, but after being taken into custody was released on bail. Sufficient evidence could not be obtained to sustain the charge against her, and on April 11, 1906, she was discharged. Subsequently a suit of clothes was found, which it was thought might throw some light upon the murder. In one of the pockets was found a memorandum book bearing the name of a Chicago man. He was arrested and did not deny the ownership of the book, but claimed that he had lost it, and that he knew the man who had found it. He claimed to know that three men were implicated in the murder of Hale, two of them were hired to do the deed, but no arrests were ever made.
Great excitement prevailed in Valparaiso on September 23, 1893, when it was learned that an attempt had been made to rob the safe in the old college building - the office of the Northern Indiana Normal school. The would-be robbers were Frank and Claire Robinson, of Versailles, Indiana. They entered the office about three o'clock in the
afternoon, when the only occupants were Miss Kate Corboy and Miss Emma Jones. To frighten the young women a shot was fired by one of the Robinsons. This shot was heard by J. H. Arnold, the mail carrier in that district, who ran to the office. Some 500 students and a number of other persons joined in the pursuit, but the robbers were well armed and for a time held their pursuers back. Nathan O. Howe, a peach peddler, left his team standing in the street, borrowed a Winchester rifle from one of his acquaintances, and took part in the chase. About a mile east of the city he overtook the fugitives and ordered them to surrender. They replied by firing their revolvers at Howe, who returned the fire, killing Frank Robinson at the first shot. Claire was then wounded in the hand and gave himself up. Howe was the hero of the occasion. His load of peaches was taken down town, where they were sold at auction, C. J. Kern acting as auctioneer. Some of the baskets brought as high a figure as ten dollars, and the entire load netted Mr. Howe about $350. One of the purchasers was W. J. Lightcap, whose wife planted the seeds from the peaches. Only one tree grew to maturity and it bore its first crop in 1898. Mr. Lightcap brought some of the fruit down town and distributed it among his friends, thus reviving interest in the exciting incident of five years before.
In 1897 a pair of clever counterfeiters were "run to earth" in Porter county. Henry A. W. Brown, a photographer of more than ordinary ability, made photographs of one, two and five dollar bills, and from the negatives made plates for printing the money. His accomplice was Theodore Hanson, son of John Hanson, a farmer living about a mile and a half north of the city. Major Thomas B. Carter, chief of the Indianapolis division of the United States secret service, and Thomas J. Porter, in charge of the Chicago office, learning that counterfeit bills were in circulation in Lake, Porter and Laporte counties, placed detectives on the trail. It was a difficult case and some time passed before a clue was found that led to Brown's studio on College Hill, in Valparaiso. Here they found plates for a ten dollar silver certificate almost completed. Following the clue farther, the detectives found in a small out-
house on the Hanson farm the other plates, a small press, paper, inks, etc., for turning out the counterfeit bills. Brown and Hanson were convicted and sentenced to serve five years in the penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio.
Every community that has been settled for half a century or more is likely to have certain mysterious events connected with its history, and in this respect Porter county is no exception to the rule. In 1872 the remains of a man were found hanging to, a tree a short distance southwest of Valparaiso. There was nothing upon the body by which it could be identified, and whether the man committed suicide or was the victim of foul play has never been determined.
For two days in the fall of 1877, the waters of Lake Michigan were troubled by a severe storm. After the storm a man named Crawford was gathering driftwood along the shore, near the line between the townships of Pine and Westchester, when he discovered the body of a young woman that had evidently been washed ashore. There was a bruise upon the head and a gash in the neck that indicated violence, but the coroner's jury returned a verdict of death by drowning. When found the body was naked except for the shoes and stockings. The shoes were of stylish make, indicating that the wearer belonged in good, society, but, although the incident was widely advertised, the body was never identified.
In the winter of 1896 some persons, while passing through a piece of timber about two miles north of Valparaiso, came upon a curiously constructed hut. Four trees formed the corners and between these were small poles, wrapped with hay and straw, set on end and bound together with barbed wire. The roof was of heavy sheet iron. There was also a barbed wire fence around the hut, with two entrances. The one door was provided with two locks - one on the inside and the other on the outside. An account of the strange hut was published in the Valparaiso Messenger, stating that officers from Valparaiso went out to investigate the "find." Inside the building were some long benches,
an ax, a lantern, some books, magazines and newspapers, but who built it or occupied it, was never ascertained. It is still a mystery.
In September, 1909, three skeletons - supposed to be those of a man, woman and child, judging by their size - were found near a fishing camp in the sandhills north of Porter. Around the wrist of the largest skeleton was a leather thong, in fairly good condition, which led Professor Stultz and George F. Batteiger to believe they were the bones of Indians, and that at some time in the remote past there had been an Indian burying ground in the vicinity.
There is hardly a city of 5,000 population or more in the country but what has its haunted house. In May, 1893, the Valparaiso Sun published a story of Valparaiso's "ghost house" that reads like a chapter from the Arabian Nights. According to this story, the house was occupied many years ago by John Marsh, a prominent lawyer and widower. Although Mr. Marsh had the reputation of being liberal and charitable, on one occasion he refused alms to a woman, because of her impudence. The woman started to leave, but at the door turned and said: I curse you to the seventh generation. Misfortune will follow you and yours to the ends of the earth." Upon this Marsh directed his coachman, or man of all work, to conduct the woman from the premises. The coachman took hold of her arm and led her to the gate, when she turned on him with the fury of a tigress and said: "And curses on you, too. Before another month you will be dead."
Now comes the strangest part of the story. Marsh and his man laughed at the curse, but about two weeks later the latter was kicked in the head by one of the horses and killed. Marsh soon after lost an important case, involving the title to property in Cincinnati, Ohio, worth several hundred thousand dollars. His daughter, nineteen years old, died of diphtheria some two months after the curse was uttered. The woman to whom he was betrothed jilted him. His seventeen year old son was expelled from college, and upon being upbraided by his father committed suicide, after which Marsh lived the life of a recluse for several years, finally dying in a lunatic asylum in Chicago. After he va-
cated the house where the curse had been pronounced against him, no tenant would occupy it for more than a few weeks at a time, and the building was finally razed to the ground. The writer was unable to find any one who remembers Mr. Marsh, but several old settlers recall an old house on East Main street, near the city limits, about which uncanny stories were told when they were children. This may have been the house once occupied by the unfortunate lawyer.
Instances of heroism and self-sacrifice are comparatively rare in modern times, but on November 19, 1889, a humble citizen of Porter county did a deed that should long perpetuate his memory. Murray Beach was engaged in digging a well in the rear of his house, near the Grand Trunk station, and on the date above mentioned had reached a depth of some twenty-five or thirty feet. While Mr. Beach and his helpers were at dinner the well filled with choke damp. After dinner Beach went down in the well to resume work, but soon began to feel a dizziness and told the men to draw him out. When about ten feet from the bottom, he was overcome by the carbonic acid gas, lost his hold on the rope and fell. Seeing that he was unconscious and unable to cooperate with those above, John C. Sharp volunteered to go to his rescue. The men lowered him into the well, where he fastened Mr. Beach to the bucket and then got on himself. With the extra weight, the men above were not able to raise the bucket very fast, Mr. Sharp was overcome by the noxious gas and fell a distance of some fifteen feet. The others, afraid to enter the well, succeeded in bringing him to the surface with grappling hooks, when it was found that his neck had been broken by the fall. Murray Beach's life was saved, but at the sacrifice of John Sharp's. "Greater love than this hath no man - that he will lay down his life for his friend."
1912 HISTORY OF PORTER COUNTY
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