William N. Sykes, Obituary/Death NoticePorter County obituaries and death notices . . . .

William N. Sykes

Obituary of Mr. Wm. N. Sykes.

A brief notice of the death of Wm. N. Sykes, of Lake County, appeared in your paper a short time since. In consideration of the fact that Mr. Sykes was one amongst the first settlers in and a prominent citizen of Lake County, many of his friends have thought that a more extended notice of his life, character, and death, ought to be given to the public. By their request I have, from the best sources of information at my command, compiled the following short and imperfect sketch.

He was born in Burlington County New Jersey, about the close of the year 1779 or the commencement of the year 1800. With reference to his early life the writer is unacquainted any further than at an early age he went to the City of New York and there engaged and continued for some time in a dry goods establishment. In the year 1836 he emigrated to Lake County Indiana. At that early day Lake County had but a few white inhabitants, and was in fact regarded as almost the western limit of civilization. -- The first settlers had all the hardship to undego, all the difficulties to overcome that are common in a new country, and many who have been raised and grown up where time and industry have overcome difficulties and procured the things necessary for a man's convenience and comfort, become discouraged in a new country and sink into a state of indifference and indolence; it was not so however with the subject of this notice. Of an energetic character and an inquiring mind, he began to explore the county, viewing the formation of the country, observing its resources, examining its advantage, and more particularly becoming acquainted with it with a view to the location of roads. He once observed to the writer of this article that as soon as he saw the geographical position of Lake County, washed on the north by a sheet of water that extended several hundred miles north, he knew that all the land travel of a vast scope of country must necessarily pass through Lake County from the east and from the west. This led him to acquaint himself thoroughly with the topography of the country. In addition to this he was an excellent practical surveyor, and as such was called upon to mark our lines and to survey roads to such an extent that he became more thoroughly acquainted with all the parts of the county, the situation of the lands, streams, and groves, than perhaps any other man that ever lived in it. This intinuate knowledge of the country, rendered his service to the people very valuable.

In August 1840 he was elected to the office of County Commissioner, and commenced acting in that capacity in September of the same year. In 1842 he was elected President of the Board of Commissioners and acted in this capacity until 1845, and continued to act as a member of the Board until the year 1846; and as far as the writer knows, he gave general satisfaction in his official career. In 1847 he was elected justice of the Peace, and still continued to serve as surveyor, and did much to assist the settlers in obtaining suitable selections of Land. In 1850 he was appointed by the Governor to select the Swamp Lands in Lake County that had been donated to the state by Congress. For this work he was well qualified, and performed it, as the writer believes, to the satisfaction of persons who employed him. In 1852 he was elected County Surveyor, and in this capacity he continued to act until the autumn of 1853, when he was attacked with a rheumatic affection this was succeeded by a billious attach of great severity.

After a protracted and very painful illness of several weeks, the struggle of nature ceased, the wheels of life stood still, and he quietly sunk into the arms of death, with a calm serenity and peace that was occasioned by feeling (as he assured his brother a few minutes before his death) that his spirit would be wafted away to the regions of bliss. He breathed his last on Saturday morning Sept. 24th. On Sunday his remains were followed by a large concourse of people from his residence in Ross Township to Centreville School House, where a funeral sermon was preached to a very large attentive and deeply solemn Congregation from Ecclesiastes, 9th chapter and 10th verse. He was then interred in the Centreville grave Yard, and before the congregation dispersed, some of his nearest neighbors who best knew how to appreciate his worth, proposed by voluntary subscription to place a monumental stone at the head of his grave in token of the respect they had for this fallen Pioner of Lake County.

It will be seen from this brief sketch that he was a man of untiring energy and perseverance.

In his occupation as surveyor he had much fatiguing labor to perform, but neither cold nor heat, snow nor ice, brook or river, in summer or winter, deterred him from his business. He studied much, and his knowledge was general and extensive. He was very original in some of his ideas and sound in his opinions.

Free from a desire of show or ostentation, he was plain in his manner, plain in his dress and in every respect he carried out the principles of republican equality. He was deeply interested in the properity of Lake County, he was an ardent lover of his country. He was strictly honest. His sociability, exemption of pride, and his extensive information, made him an agreeable companion.

As a pioneer of Lake County, he was respected, and his death was deeply regretted. During his illness his brother watched over him with assiduous care and kindness, and the people gave evidence of their respect by assembling in greater numbers to his funeral than the writer has ever seen at any other funeral in Lake County.

[Note: The year of Mr. Sykes' birth was likely 1779 or 1780, and not 1800 as mentioned in the article.]

Newspaper: Practical Observer
Date of Publication: October 10, 1853
Volume Number: 1
Issue Number: 41
Page: 1
Column(s): 4 and 5

Key to Newspaper Publication Locations:
    Newspapers Published in Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana
                Chesterton Tribune
                The Tribune
                Westchester Tribune

    Newspapers Published in Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana
                Porter County Vidette
                Practical Observer
                Valparaiso Practical Observer
                Vidette and Republic
                Western Ranger

The obituaries and death notices appearing on this website have been transcribed exactly as they were originally published in the newspaper. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of obituaries and death notices appearing on this website.

Obituary/death notice transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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