The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 3, Pages 10-11.


As Compiled By History Class and Instructors For The Vidette-Messenger

The name Washington, given in honor of the father of our country, is indicative of the patriotism and other noble qualities of the pioneers -- characteristics inherited by their descendants who now dwell there.

Today we see in Washington township a peaceful agricultural community with well-kept farms, good roads, modern school facilities, and other advantages of an established country. We see trains and trucks carrying products to nearby cities. We hear the hum of wires, flashing messages; electricity lights the homes; the mail carrier in his car brings newspapers and letters; tractors traverse the fields while planes drone overhead. Prone are we to forget that this is very recent history.

Only one hundred years ago in this region the red man roamed vast forests, wild beasts stalked their prey, and deer came unafraid to drink at the water's edge. There were no roads -- no conveniences of any kind. Then came the white man, ushering in a new era.

The Indians

Near the site of the village later known as Prattville there lived, when the first white settlers came, one hundred or more Indians. They were the Pottawattomie tribe of the Algonquin group, called by other nations "The People of the Place of Fire." They believed in two spirits, Kitchemondo, the Great Spirit, and Matchemonedo, the Evil Spirit. Their biggest ceremony was the Feast of Dreams, of which dog-meat was the chief dish. Their cemetery was on the site of Harmon Beach's orchard where E. D. Cain later lived.

Their village, called Skeenwah's Town, from one of the prominent Indians, was located by one authority on Crooked Creek near the site of Wilson Malone's house, by another, near the Malone stop on the Grand Trunk. Probably it was a scattered settlement.

The Pottawatomies had gained possession of this land in the Boundary War waged on Morgan Prairie with the tribes to the west. It was decided that three battles were to be fought, the victor to be the side winning two of the three. The Pottawatomies in large number assembled at Eton's Crossing on the Kankakee, the only place for miles either way where the river could be crossed. Here they left most of their warriors in order to fool the enemy as to their strength, and with a small number went to the north of Morgan Prairie where they fled after a few minutes of fighting. To the next battle they took all their forces. The enemy were over-confident, so were defeated an pursued to Garie's River at the mouth of the Chicago River. Here it was decided that to the Pottawatomies went all the country east of that place. The bodies of those killed in battle were buried on the Kankakee.

These Indians were rather kindly toward civilization except when under the influence of too much "fire water." When the Indians went on a drinking spree, they always detailed three or four to keep sober and look after things. Some petty thievery occurred, but nothing very serious arose between the red men and their white neighbors. The Indians begged constantly for food, blankets, etc., each time asking for something more valuable. When the settler finally rebelled and sent him away, he pretended great anger but rarely vented it on the white man. Mrs. Jasper Finney recalls when the Indians in their blankets and feathers would cup their hands about their faces and peer through the windows of her home, when they came begging food, etc., from their camp in the lane east of the Finney farm.

A rather amusing story is related about two Indians in the village who were not the best of friends. Wapmuk once won a fight from Chaninewin because the latter was too drunk to fight well. (The controversy, it is reported, arose over the question as to which warrior was to be the happy owner of two wives). Fearing he might not be able to win the conflict bound to take place when Chaninewin sobered, Wapmuk shot off the top of his rival's head as he lay asleep under a tree.

Some of the whites wished to arrest and try the murderer by white law. The Indian custom was to forfeit the slayer's life, but finally a compromise was made by which Wapmuk gave the victim's squaw several ponies and a number of valuable furs. Since Chaninewin was a drunken rascal whose loss no one deeply deplored, the penalty was fixed low enough so that wapmuk could rather easily pay it. To celebrate the happy ending, a dog-meat banquet was given to which G. W. Bartholomew (who had assisted in the case) was invited. History fails to record whether or not he accepted, and his grandson, the present mayor of Valparaiso, does not know. Mr. Bartholomew settled on section eight, north of the present Martin Cain farm, but through a claim on the land known as an Indian "float" some one forced him to leave this land.

In 1836 the Pottawatomies went to the Kankakee river in a village near Hebron where they lived until 1842 when they were moved west of the Mississippi.

In 1835 the county commissioners of LaPorte county ordered the territory now comprising Porter county to be laid off in three townships, Waverly, Morgan and Ross, the north part of Morgan township being the present Washington township. The first election of Morgan township was held at Isaac Morgans, where Adam Campbell and George Cline were elected justices of the peace. Twenty-six votes were cast. These election returns were counted in the vote of LaPorte county.

Washington township in the middle of the eastern tier of townships was created by the board of county commissioners on April 12, 1836. It has the original boundary lines as first established, although several changes have been made on the west, giving part to Center township. It is bounded on the north by Jackson township, on the east by LaPorte county, on the south by Morgan township, and on the west by Center township. Its area is thirty square miles, five miles east to west and six from north to south.

The undulating surface was affected by the glacial moraine. Crooked Creek, the outlet of Flint lake, flows southeast and then south through the township, crossing the southern line two miles west of the LaPorte county line. There are two small tributaries in the southeastern part, which are advantageous for stock raising. The soil is for the most part clay and loam, sandy in some places, and marshy in a few. In the marsh below the old Pickrell farm (now Sheffield's) was once a "salt lick" caused by a salt spring. To this spot came deer in great numbers to lick the ground for salt. Venison was one of the chief foods of the pioneers, one man killing as many as one hundred deer in one winter.

North of the Indian trail, now Road 2, in early times was a dense forest. South of the trail was a prairies made to order for farming, and here the first settlements were made when the land later called Porter county was under the jurisdiction of LaPorte county. The first settler, William Morgan, a native of Virginia, came from Wayne county, Ohio, in the spring of 1833, and made a home on the north part of the prairie, thence called by his family name. (This land was later taken by Wilson Malone, who lived where Barnetts now live, and Morgan moved near Chesterton). Adam S. Campbell, Rufus VanPool, Isaac Morgan and Reason Bell settled on the prairie before the end of 1833. Although the land had not been surveyed, they erected cabins and began cultivation at once. They planted crops trusting they could get the land when it should be surveyed. This was done in 1834, and in October, 1835, the land was offered for sale at LaPorte. From that time immigration was rapid, as a stage coach line from Detroit to Chicago opened in 1836, running three stages per week.

The only road at that time was the old Sauk (Sac) Trail from the St. Joseph river through LaPorte and Valparaiso to the Kankakee in Illinois. The trail first entered Valparaiso on what is now Linden avenue, or Cemetery avenue, because of springs south of the Campbell place at which the Indians stopped for water. The front entrance of the Campbell house was on the south facing this trail until the road was moved between the house and barn where No. 2 now goes.

Michigan City dates from 1831, and every point in the county was reckoned as so many miles from "the city," as it was then called. To it the pioneers went to sell their products and to obtain their meager supplies, traversing an almost impassable road with pole bridges. The nearest gristmill was at Kingsbury, six miles southeast of LaPorte, and to it they took their grain to be ground. Some of the early settlers went one hundred laborious miles to get seed.

Due to the shortness of the timber the log cabin of the settlers was about eighteen by twenty feet, and if more room was desired, two were erected with a door between. Sometimes a roofed-over space called a "stoop" was between the cabins. The chimney was made of flat sticks covered with "cat-in-the-clay" made of swamp grass or straw cut fine and mixed with clay. The roof was covered with "shakes" (thick shingles cut from logs) with "weight-poles" to hold them in place. Wooden pegs served as hooks and all furniture was home made. When the family went from home, they left a stick of woof leaning against the door as a sign that they were absent and wished nothing molested.

The early "squatters' claims" gave rise to some difficulties when the township survey was made. Many found that their land was cut by roads and township lines, and in one instance three men held the same eighty acres.

Adam S. Campbell, coming from New York, was the second settler, taking up the land now owned by Martin Cain, trustee of Washington township, and his wife, who was Edna Campbell. This land has been in the hands of the Campbell family for one hundred and three years. Mr. Campbell was headed for Hickory Creek settlement in Illinois, but when he got to the little town of LaPorte, he found that land could be had there in what became Washington township, so he left his family there and came on to investigate. He went no farther but erected a log cabin on the rising ground across the road and little east of the present Cain home. When he settled there, not a white man lived to the west in Indiana. In those days the government gave to pioneers starting to found new homes, weapons as protection against Indians. Sanford Campbell has in his possession the old flintlock pistol that Adam S. Campbell obtained from the government.

His son, Samuel A. Campbell, attended what is by some considered the first school in the county on the Starr place, east of the Jasper Finney farm (where Birkys and Comefords now live) in 1834-35. Samuel was the father of twins, Myron and Marvin, and of Otto, who now lives in Washington township with his daughter, Mrs. John Bickel. He too was born in the log cabin above mentioned. Marvin and Myron attended school in a log building on their grandfather's farm. In 1835 Adam Campbell established the first boot and shoe shop, bringing his leather, etc., from New York. In the possession of Otto Campbell is a small walnut chest with five drawers in which his grandfather kept his awl and strings. In this cobbler shop was held in May, 1842, the first Masonic lodge in the county. Six men met to form this lodge. The last meeting on record here was held May, 1844. A cane made from the logs in this building was presented by Otto Campbell to the Masons of Valparaiso. A justice of the peace office was also on the Campbell farm. He was the first justice of the township.

Framed and hanging on the wall in the Martin Cain home we find Preemption Certificate No. 1802, which reads as follows:

The United State of America,

To All to whom these presents shall come, greeting:

Whereas Thomas Bruce Campbell, assignee of Adam Smith Campbell, has deposited in the General Land Office of the United States a certificate of the register of the land office at LaPorte whereby it appears that the payment has been made by the said Adam Smith Campbell according to the provisions of the Act of Congress of the twenty-fourth of April, 1820, entitled "An act making further provisions for the sale of public lands," for the west half of the SW quarter of section 20 in township 35 north of range five west of the second meridian, in the district lands, subject to sale at LaPorte, Indiana, containing eighty acres according to the official plat of the survey of the said lands, returned to the general land office by the surveyor-general, which said tract has been purchased by the said Adam Smith Campbell; now know ye, that the United States of America, in consideration of the premises, and in conformity with the several acts of congress, in such case made and provided, have given and granted, and by these presents to five and grant, unto the said Thomas Burnes Campbell and to his heirs, the said tract above described: To have and to hold the same with all the rights, privileges, immunities, and appurtenances of whatsoever nature, thereunto belonging unto the said Thomas Burnes Campbell and his heirs and assignees forever.

In testimony whereof, I, Martin VanBuren, president of the United States of America, have caused these letters to be made patent, and the seal of the General Land Office to be hereunto affixed.

Given under my hand, at the City of Washington, the second day of November in the Year of Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven and the Independence of the United States the sixty-second.

By the President,
By A. VanBuren, secretary.

Joseph S. Wison, acting recorder of the General Land office and interim.

The names and data on the above document were written with a quill pen, and in once place one may see where the pen sputtered and sprayed their ink. The Campbell land was obtained at one and one-fourth dollars per acre.

One of the earliest deeds found in the recorder's office in Valparaiso, dated October 7, 1837, is that by which Adam S. Campbell, county agent of Porter county, "granted, bargained, sold, aliened, enfeoffed, released, conveyed and confirmed a parcel of land" in Valparaiso to Henry F. Stevens.

Mr. Campbell served on the first petit jury in Porter county with Wilson Malone and Isaac Morgan.

In the possession of Otto Campbell is a small copper-banded leather trunk lined with a French paper dated 1795. This trunk was used by Adam Campbell's father for his papers. Mr. Campbell also has a double-ply coverlet which his great-grandmother wove for his grandmother's trousseau.

In the old cemetery on the Cain farm, protected forever from encroachment by a huge wall and pilasters, are buried may of the Campbells. Adam S. Campbell died while on a visit to Ohio and is buried in Greenfield in that state. His wife is buried here, and on the stone is this inscription:

Adam S. Campbell -- Died Aug. 15, 1850; aged 54 years. Buried at Greenfield, O.

Polly Campbell, wife of Adam S. Campbell. Died October 17, 1892; aged 94 years, 6 months, 14 days.

The stone of their son and his wife is inscribed:

Samuel A. Campbell, born Feb. 8, 1821. Died Sept. 22, 1909.

Harriet, wife of Samuel A. Campbell, died Jan. 12, 1864. Aged 35 years, 3 months, 5 days.

Here, too, are the graves of Margaret, aged 8; Sanford, 19, and Robert, 22, sisters and brothers of Samuel Campbell. On Robert's stone is a Masonic emblem. It is also found on Nathaniel's and Hamilton's, both of whom died in 1849. These were probably cousins of Samuel Campbell. There are memorial verses in very small letters on some of the stone, but time has made them illegible.

The beautiful trees on the Cain lawn were set out by Samuel Campbell, one in 1850, the others in 1860.

Adjoining the Campbell farm on the east was the land once belonging to Rufus VanPool but sold to David Oaks, who was a roommate of Millard Fillmore at one time (both men died in 1874), and a man of some wealth. Here he erected in 1834 the first tavern in the township. (Some of the original building is still incorporated in the house recently owned by Harry Pierce and now occupied by James Krachey.) At this tavern stopped the stage coach, and many of the covered wagons creeping along the Indian trail, ever westward. One can here do nothing better than to quote from Hubert Skinner's poem, "The Old Oaks Tavern":

A man of dignity was David Oaks,
A friend of Fillmore, and a scholar bred
In the old school training.

What might the walls of this old house relate
If they could speak! What tales of storied men!
What tragedies unwritten, and what scenes
Of happiest reunion have they witnessed!

Mr. Skinner is this poem tells us of a young man, who, accused of some treasonable act, fled from Canada and after escaping the dangers of the wilderness fell exhausted from his horse in front of the gate of the old tavern.

Then manly arms raised him
And bore him to the lighted rooms
And in delirium he gazed around
Upon the scene of comfort in the wilds.

How many more
Experiences, unwritten and forgotten,
But meaning life or death or less than his
Have been related to the ancient rooms
Of this quaint hostelry! A thousand volumes
Could not contain the story of its life!

A monument
Of old heroic days, and of the trail
Whose guardian it was on the frontier.

David Oaks also owned the Valparaiso Hotel located where Windle's grocery now is.

Another old tavern was the one erected in 1835-36 by John and Eleanor Shinabarger on the edge of the forest near Pleasant View Hill. This building, which cost between five and six hundred dollars, was twenty by forty-five feet and had two stories, the hall upstairs being used for dancing. This tavern enjoyed a good business also from wagon trains on their way west. In later years the house was said to have been haunted by the ghost of a pedlar who had once been murdered there, and whose satchel was later found in a tree in front of the tavern. It was also rumored that this tree was trimmed in a peculiar fashion which had a meaning for the initiated, perhaps indicating the hostelry to be a hide-out for refugees.

The third white family to settle in what is now Porter county was that of Reason and Sarah Bell, who like Morgan came from Wayne county, Ohio, and settled in 1833 on the prairie on what was later called Pleasant View Hill. Here on January 11, 1834, was born Reason Bell, Jr., the first white child born in Washington township and the first in Porter county. The senior Mr. Bell was one of the early commissioners, road supervisor and viewer, a juror many times, and township trustee a number of years. He died in 1867 and is buried in Luther cemetery. When Reason, Jr., was quite young he went to live with Sylvester W. Smith, who was prominent in county affairs. When fifteen years old Reason's right leg was crushed between the wheels of the horse-power of a threshing machine causing the loss of the limb. At eighteen he was deputy county auditor. When the republican party was organized he became a leader, although he was not yet twenty-one. He was elected county auditor at the age of twenty-three and served eight years. Beginning in 1870 he served eight more years in the same office. He was also justice of the peace in Center township. He owned property in Valparaiso where the Julia Bliss home and the Ruge flats now are. He died on July 15, 1899. Mr. Bell was the gret-great-uncle of Thelma Bell, one of Washington's 1936 graduates.

Shortly after the coming of the pioneers already mentioned Samuel Flint took up a claim on the site which later was Prattville, and Jacob Coleman settled about two miles south of him. James Blair, who settled near Coburg; James Baum, whom we shall discuss later; Isaac Werninger, who settled on what became the Crumpacker farm, and Ruell Starr, who became a prominent county politician, came in 1834. Following them came a number of others, who with the above-mentioned voted at the first election April 30, 1836, when they chose Henry Rinker, justice of the peace. Sixty votes in all were cast. This election was held at Isaac Morgan's house, and he was an inspector for the occasion.

In 1834 at Isaac Morgan's was held the first big "house-raising." Thirty settlers aided him in building a double log house in section 16, on the creek a little north of the LaPorte road. In this was the first store kept by a Mr. Holland who obtained his meager supplied from LaPorte, and who served as mail carrier for the settlement.

Jeremiah Hamell, father of Narcissa Hamell, living in Valparaiso, was a great friend of Morgan, and very devoted to a Mr. Henning who became his partner in conducting a store in George Cline's log house near Prattville in 1836. Their stock of groceries and dry goods, obtained from Michigan City and South Bend, was valued at not more than fifty dollars. They traded with the Indians, exchanging arms, ammunition and whiskey for furs.

We find a letter, simply folded with no envelope nor stamp, sealed with red sealing wax, and addressed to Hamill and Henning, merchants, Morgan Prairie, Porter county, which reads as follows:

Messrs. Hamill and Henning:
I send by Mr. Wells, the bearer, seven bundles of furs, containing each fifty except one bundle of coon which has twenty-nine coon, thirteen muskrat, one mink, which with seven mink delivered makes up the bundle -- 300 delivered with them makes the 500 -- 100 are fall skins -- 79 coon, eight mink, and the balance I think firstrate winter and spring muskrat. I have some more to pack and a hundred or two to get if I ever find time to go to the wigwam after them.

In haste, yours, etc.
(Robinson was an Astor trader in Lake county.)

Ruel Starr, one of the two men in Porter county who were soldiers in the Blackhawk War, came from Michigan in 1834 and established a home on the land later known as the Comeford and Peter Horn farms. He became very prominent in politics and other activities of the township and county. He built a $5,000 grist mill on Crooked Creek (east of Frank Bond's and near the Clarence Brown home) which furnished water power for the twenty-four inch turbine wheel. The race was one and one-half miles in length. Only a little corn was ground here, and McGill made it into a cheese factory which ran one year, after which it was moved to Center township. Captain James McGill was Starr's son-in-law and uncle of the Valparaiso James McGill. Starr helped found Valparaiso's largest business block, the Starr and Anthony block, later Academy of Music block. At the time of his death Mr. Starr was the wealthiest man in the county. His name appears on many deeds and mortgages in the recorder's office. One reads as follows:

Ruel Starr bonded to State of Indiana as school commissioner for the use of schools in said county for the sum of $10,000, September 6, 1836. -- Signed by Starr, Sailor, Wilson Malone, etc.

James Baum, before mentioned, came to Washington township in 1835. He obtained 160 acres for $450. His father was an Indian spy in the War of 1812, and he himself was a wagoner in that war. His son, James W., was born here in 1837. This was the father of Allen Baum.

Wilson Malone, who was born in Ross county, Ohio, in 1805, came from Ohio to LaPorte county in 1832 and soon after to Porter county. It is said that he had a few household goods and fifty cents. He contracted to build one mile of what was later called the Michigan State Road and invested in land. The first winter was spent in a cabin with no floor nor windows; at the time of his death in 1876 he owned 1,100 acres and was one of the richest men of the time. His land extended from the Grand Trunk to the corner where Namons now live. Mr. Malone gave the right-of-way to the railroad on condition that trains stop where Road 2 crosses the railroad. This was done until his death.

The Malone home was where Barnett's now reside. The story is told that Mr. Malone wished the road which ran south and east of his house to go past his home, but the county refused to move it. He built rail fences on both side of the road, and every year tore them down and moved them nearer his home, until at last the road was where No. 2 is now.

Mr. Malone married Sarah Swank in 1832, and they were parents of the following: Elizabeth (Mrs. Dr. Pagin), Caroline (Mrs. A Stanton), Catherine (Mrs. A. Brown), Rebecca (Mrs. H. Slover), James R., William L., Martha (Mrs. E. Powell), and Harriet (Mrs. C. Talcott).

Another pioneer of the township was Andrew Pierce, whose ancestors were from Scotland. He was born in New York in 1829 and came with his parents to this township in 1834, locating on the Wilgen place were Busserts now live. (Wilgens later bought this place from Andrew Pierce). The family came from New York in a covered wagon and led a cow the entire way. The milk that was not used at once by the family was placed in a container, and by night the constant jarring of the wagon had converted it into butter for their use.

The Pierces first occupied a log cabin on the Bussert place and later built on the same site. Indians lived very near, and the small Andrew was frightened by their coming to the cabin, and by the howling of wolves and screaming of catamounts. Deer too were numerous.

When Andrew's mother was once holding her baby, a squaw rushed in jabbering excitedly and pointing to the child. Mrs. Pierce feared that she might steal the baby, but later learned that she had been trying to tell her that her papoose had been killed by hogs.

The father of Andrew died in 1841 when only forty-five, so Andrew had to care for the family. He educated himself by extensive reading. When twenty-eight years old he began farming for himself. Eventually he owned all the land extending on both sides of the road from the farm now owned by James Rigg, east of the corner where Mrs. William Pierce now lives.

Andrew's brother, who lived in a log cabin just north, was struck by lightening and killed as he opened the door to look at the storm.

Andrew married Mary Johnston, daughter of Isaac Johnston, first judge of Porter county. He died in 1901 and was buried in the Luther cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. Pierce were the parents of eight children. Leroy lives in Valparaiso and William died in this township in 1935.

Mr. and Mrs. William Pierce had eight children, of whom three reside in Washington township at present, Geneva Schneider, Blanche VanCleek and Arthur L., who lives on parts of the original farm. To Mrs. William Pierce we are indebted for some of the incidents cited.

Theophilus Crumpacker, born in Virginia in 1822, came to Union county in 1828 and to Porter county in 1834. His father settled on land purchased from the government. He moved to LaPorte county where he died in 1848. Theophilus remained until 1853 when he went to Illinois, but in 1865 he returned to Washington township and settled on the farm where Walter Jacobs now lives.

Mr. Crumpacker served three terms in the state legislature. He married Harriet Emmons, and they were parents of eight children. Mr. Crumpacker moved to Valparaiso in 1888 and died there in 1908. His son, Edgar, now dead, served eight terms in the congress of the United States. His son, Grant, is a prominent lawyer in Valparaiso, and former judge.

Jared Blake, whose son Harry resides in Washington township, and whose grandson James, graduated this year from the township high school, came from LaPorte county to a house near Crisman in 1836. His parents on their way from Virginia camped one night on the place where Notre Dame university now is. Jared was born near what is now Pinhook, where the family was then camped. Mr. Blake fought in the Civil War, and his name, with those of the other soldiers of his regiment, can now be seen on a monument in Princeton, Ill. He was a guard at the bier of Lincoln when he lay in state in Springfield. One of the white gloves he wore on that occasion is now in possession of his daughter in Chicago. After the funeral Mr. Blake walked to Lincoln's grave.

After the Civil War, Mr. Blake came to Washington township where he married Amelia Beach, daughter of Sheldon Beach, and lived in Prattville for a time. Then they moved to a home near Hogans saw mill, and in this house Mrs. Black and son still live. Mrs. Blake is now eighty-eight years old, a most charming person.

The settlement near Prattville was once called Beaches' Corners. Five brothers and a sister lived in homes from the one where Paynes now live to the Four Corners south of Black's, where lived Philo Beach, owner of countless horses and various articles vastly interesting to the boys of the neighborhood. Mrs. Blake, when a child, ;played at the home of Ruel Starr and at the Oaks Half-Way Tavern where the children delighted to watch the stagecoach and the dozens of covered wagons loaded with all the household goods and often with crates of chickens on the back. She recalls riding over the plank road to Westville with her father when he took loads of wheat to sell. This side of the village was a toll-gate kept by a Captain Burns, and here she would stay until her father returned. This was a bumpy journey, as many board were broken or missing from the road.

Mrs. Blake attended the red frame school house at Prattville and remembers also the Luther school with a long seat around the room with desks in front of it. Here the big unruly boys were forced to "toe the mark" and bend over so that the rod could be applied. Here at night were held spelling bees, singing schools and writing schools.

Mrs. Blake recalls a political parade in Valparaiso in which she rode in full regalia, including a white cap. Accompanying her was Myron Campbell before mentioned. Clear in her memory is the fear every one felt when the first lamp came into the home. They felt sure it would blow up at any minute, and for some time it was an object of distrust.

Among many interesting relics Mrs. Blake has a chest which her uncle, Philo Beach, brought from Canada. On the back is the date 1830.

Harmon Beach, to whom we referred to before, came here in 1837 and became owner of 1038 acres. His house was located where Henry Leffew now lives. He was a carpenter and joiner. Two of his nieces, Mrs. Amelia Blake and Mrs. Henry Black, still reside in this township. Mrs. Black living on one of the Beach farms before mentioned.

It is said that Harmon Beach and Tom Pratt loved to play jokes on each other. One winter one of Mr. Beach's horses died out by a straw stack and froze stiff. He set the horse up on its feet so that just his head showed around the stack. Then he told Mr. Pratt that the horse was getting old and should be killed, but since he had had it so long, he could not do it. He asked Mr. Pratt to slip up so the horse would not see him, so he got on his hands and knees and crawled a long way behind a fence until he was close enough for a shot. After shooting three times, he decided something was wrong and upon investigating found three bullet holes in the frozen horse's head.

Alfred L. Brown's parents came from Hardin county, Kentucky, to Rockport, Spencer county, Indiana, with Lincoln's parents in 1816, and the families lived as neighbors for many years. In the winter a flatboat was constructed, and in the spring both families and all of their possessions floated down the Ohio toward their new Indiana homes. Alfred's father, Joseph Brown, married Susan Carter, who was born in North Carolina in 1789. Alfred's oldest sister, Nancy Mariah, was named by Nancy Hanks Lincoln for herself. She was born December 5, 1808, and Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, Mrs. Brown caring for Mrs. Lincoln at this time. Alfred's brothers, Presley and Oliver, were playmates of the young Lincoln.

At the time of Lincoln's birth the famous old Catholic mission at Bairdstown, Ky., now a college, was a religious school for Indians.

Alfred Brown was born in 1830 and lived at Rockport until he was thirteen, when he went to Missouri to live with Presley. These two brothers came to Washington township in 1849 to their father's home (where Sievers now live) which he had established there in 1836. Their trip was made by boat on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and on canals to Lake Michigan. They stopped at Chicago, then a mere village. By way of the lake they continued to Michigan City, then by stage finished their journey to Washington township. Eventually Joseph Brown owned over one thousand acres on Morgan Prairie, now owned by Sievers, Clifford and Pierce. His huge house, with an observatory on the roof, and his fine barns made one of the show places of the time. On the Clifford farm, now occupied by the Morgans, was built the first race track in the county, and the only one until that at the fair grounds was constructed. Mr. Brown was a great admirer of fine horses and had several good race horses. "The Slug," a Kentucky thoroughbred, would race riderless in the three-mile race. If the start was not right, he came back at twenty rods with one tap of the drum. This horse was valued at $500, a very large sum for those times.

In 1835 Alfred married Catherine Malone at the Malone home (where Barnetts now live) and lived there one winter, then bought a farm near the Adams cemetery. James Baum purchased this from Mr. Brown and to pay for it dug up in his smokehouse $5,000 in gold that he had buried there. From this place the Browns went to Pleasant View Hill in 1859, built the corner place in 1864. Their son, Cassius, lived in the second house from the corner.

Susan Carter Brown, who cared for Mrs. Lincoln when Abraham was born, spent the latter years of her life at her son, Alfred's, dying there January 3, 1870.

Alfred Brown died in 1920 and his son, Cassius, in1933. Mrs. Cassius Brown resides with Mrs. Fisher in Valparaiso.

Later the Joseph Brown farm was owned by Nathan Cooper, who was owner of Red Star, the fastest horse in the county at the time. Mr. Cooper in 1855 came here with an uncle and worked for Elias Schenck. On March 4, 1861, the day Lincoln was inaugurated, he went on to the farm he later bought, but continued to work for Schenck until the end of the war. He also worked for a Mr. Stoner and married his daughter Zada. Their daughter, Mrs. Lulu Worstell, lives in Valparaiso.

The most perfect skeleton ever discovered in the county was unearthed by men dredging in the Koselke ditch on the Cooper farm in the fall of 1911. This skeleton was that of a mastodon, a huge animal that lived here at the close of the glacial period, and these remains were left by one of the great masses of ice, probably the one that formed the Valparaiso moraine. The men who discovered the mastodon took part of the skeleton, the Coopers part, and (according to the Lewis history) part was left in the ground. One of the immense bones is on exhibition in the historical room of the Valparaiso Public Library.

John Hansford was born in England in 1813 and came to America when he was fifteen. He worked in New Jersey, Louisiana, Cuba and Chicago. He came to Washington township in 1842 and became a successful farmer, owning over two hundred acres.

Henry Slover was born in New York in 1828 and came to Washington township in 1843. When twenty-four with several other, he crossed the plains to California where for a time he mined. Because of his health he gave this up and worked by the month. In 1858 he returned to this township and the next year married Rebecca Malone. He purchased land from the Willis Malone estate, one hundred acres of which are still owned by his son, Charles, who lives in Valparaiso. (The original Malone house as has been stated before was where Harnetts now live live, and Mr. Slover's land is adjoining.)

Charles Slover was born on the Isaac Cornell farm. When he was seven years old he started to school at the old Malone school, which he states was the first school house. When his father died in 1890, he was left to care for his mother and sister. He married Phoebe Pickrell, elsewhere mentioned.

Mr. Slover is one of the few who retain land owned by the family in an early day. He recalls the dense timber north of the old trail and the abundant game. Often he went out before breakfast and in a very short time obtained all the wild pigeons, squirrels, pheasants, etc., he desired.

Nicholas Pickrell was born in Ohio in 1828. His mother came to Elkhart county after his father's death in 1835 where she remained until her death in 1862. Mr. Pickrell came to Morgan township in 1849 but later came to Washington township. It is said that his 310 acres were obtained from the government for twenty-five cents an acre. He served in the Civil War. Mr. Pickrell was elected trustee in 1874 and in 1880 became a county commissioner. In 1856 he married Sarah Bell, sister of Reason Bell, the first child born in the county. She died in 1873, leaving five children, all now deceased: Lizzie, wife of F. Concannon; Carrie, wife of Charles Bull, the mother of Nelson Bull and Lulu Clark, who live in this township; Mary, wife of Jack Forbes of Jackson township; Phoeve, wife of Charles Slover, who lives in Valparaiso, and John.

In 1903 Charles Sheffield bought from the heirs of Mr. Pickrell, who died in 1901, the farm on which they now reside. The house is the original one built by Nicholas Pickrell, who made numerous additions to it. Mr. Sheffield's step-grandmother was a sister of Mrs. Nicholas Pickrell and Reason Bell.

H. W. Forbes, father of Ross and Ruby Forbes, was born in Canada, coming to Jackson township in 1854. The barn which he built on the farm now owned by Ross is still standing. When the Baltimore and Ohio railroad went through about 1877, he and his brother, T. H. Forbes, both built houses in Washington township and named the village Coburg from the town in Canada where they had lived. The railroad was given the right-of-way on condition that a station always be maintained for the shipment of cordwood and the convenience of passengers. H. W. Forbes was the first agent and first postmaster at Coburg and shipped grain and wood. He owned a mill near Coburg. The postoffice and general store were in the railroad station. The first school attended by Mr. Forbes was a missionary school for Indians where he went for three years. He attended the common schools until he was nineteen when he spent three terms at Valparaiso college. He was killed by a train on Christmas Eve in 1906 while filling switch lamps just west of the station. His son Ross still lives in Coburg. To him we are indebted for the following stories:

A man name Orr about sixty-five years ago owned the marsh now known as the Kelly marsh east of Coburg. Usually it was so wet that he could not get on it with horses, but one year he succeeded in plowing a strip through the middle. The following year there came up blue or purple flowers unlike any seen in this region before. The next year there were no flowers, but cottonwood trees grew up and became so thick one could scarcely get through them. Prisoners, escaped from Michigan City, used to hide in them.

About fifty years ago horse thieves would steal horses in Michigan at night and hide in the thick timber south of Coburg the next day, driving to Chicago that night to sell their loot. Sometimes the procedure was reversed.

Among former prominent citizens of the township are Thomas and James Wilson who owned very fine farms. Thomas was born in LaPorte county in 1852. His father settled in this township in 1870 on the farm which Thomas later owned, now occupied by the Buzsiski family. He died in 1892. Thomas Wilson was prominent in township affairs. Mrs. Wilson taught school in Valparaiso for three years and in this township for four years. They lived at Prattville before they went on the old homestead. They were the parents of Kathryn (Mrs. Gwllyn Jones) and Clarence. Both Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are dead.

James Wilson was two years younger than Thomas. His farm, "Broad Lands," was the one where Otto Copas now lives and was noted for its beautiful trees and hydrangea hedge. Mr. Wilson bought this place from Mr. Snyder and built the spacious house now in use. The old barn, which had been a saw mill previously mentioned, he tore down. An old house then on the place was once used as a flour mill. In what became the Wilson garden stood the old postoffice building which he also demolished.

Mrs. Wilson, who was Jennie Bundy, was born in a log house in Morgan township on what is now the Casbon farm. Her grandfather Bundy has sixteen children for all of whom he made boots and shoes. It was he who cleared the land later owned by Thomas Wilson. Mrs. Wilson's father, Daniel Bundy, moved from Morgan to Washington township to the place where John Skinner lived on the creek, then to that now occupied by Amel Lawrence. When she married Mr. Wilson, she lived where Schuyler Hutton later lived. Her father's youngest brother, George Bundy, owned the place next to the Wilson home where Henry Roberts now lives.

Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were the parents of five children of whom only Carroll survives. Their granddaughter, Genevieve Olds, daughter of Laura Wilson Olds, recently married Gerald Wilgen and resides in this township. Mr. Wilson was president of the fair association and took part in many other community activities. He died in 1933. Mrs. Wilson, who is seventy-six years old, now resides in Valparaiso.

William Bartz was born in Prussia in 1847 and came to America in 1865. The journey took over seven weeks. He worked in Wisconsin until 1866 when he went to an uncle in LaPorte county. Later he worked in Morgan township. In 1880 he married Louise Kaupke and purchased from Patrick Carr twenty acres in Washington township where Mrs. Bartz still resides. Mr. Bartz bought this land for one thousand dollars, paying the money to the Valparaiso Catholic church to which Mr. Carr had given this tract. Mr. Bartz purchased other land at various times including parts of the Beach and Baum estates. He was assessor in 1900. He died in 1917.

Mrs. Bartz was born in Pulaski county in 1862. Her father came from Germany in 1853 and settled in Pulaski county. He helped found a church in Medaryville, walking from there to Michigan City to obtain a pastor. He died at the Bartz home in 1891. His wife died in 1871. Her church membership certificate is a prized possession in the Bartz family.

Mr. and Mrs. Bartz had eight children. One son died in 1911. Two daughters and two sons live in this township and take active parts in all community affairs.

In the Goodspeed and Blanchard history of 1882 it is states that the first school was taught by Mary Hammond in the winter of 1835-36 in a log house erected by A. V. Bartholomew. He had come from Michigan City, a village of seven families, in 1834, and bought 500 acres in Washington township where he lived for a year. Children of four families attended a term of three months, the teacher being paid by subscription. One log was left out on the side to admit light, and the opening covered with oiled paper. At one end of the room was a fireplace. Split saplings served for seats; the desks were wide board on pins driven into the logs agong the sides of the room.

The first school house proper seems to have been the one on the Starr place, mentioned in the account of the Campbells, or the Morgan school erected in 1836-37. The latter was a log structure situated between the Morgan home (where Barnetts live) and the site of our present school building. This was across the road from Truman Freeman's home and Miss Mabel Benney's mother, Mary Catherine Herr, niece of Mrs. Freeman, attended school there for a short time. The building cost twenty-five dollars to erect, and the wages of the teacher were two dollars per scholar, which amounted to ten or twelve dollars a month.

There is some doubt, too, about the second school, some saying that it was one taught for one term by Thomas Campbell on Kimmerer's farm (where Austins lived), others insisting that it was the Luther school, named from early settlers by that name. Another early school was the one before mentioned on the Campbell farm, and one just east of the Center-Washington line, north of Campbell's. Another ancient school structure is part of an old house still standing on the Brown place, now occupied by the Montonys.

Among the early teachers were Thomas Campbell, Dr. Pagin, George Partial, Nancy Trim and Lowry Hull. "Birching" twenty-year-old boys furnished one of the chief amusements. "Barring out" the teacher at Christmas was an annual custom of the pupils. This was rather hard to do on a "shakes" roof. In 1838 George Partial was "barred out" for three or four days and finally had to "treat," bringing from neighboring kitchens a two-bushel sack filled with doughnuts and other edibles.

The old log-cabin schools gradually passed into history, and later one finds five brick or frame schools scattered over the township -- Luther, Island, Prattville, Blake and Bryarly -- and the Malone school on the site of the present high school.

On July 9, 1903, the Bryarly school house was struck by lightning and burned during a violent storm in which barns were wrecked and crops ruined. It was rebuilt and used for some time. After it was abandoned for school purposes the building was bought by Charles Bull and town down. The Blake school building is owned by the Schwinkendorfs and used as a granary, as is the Island building, recently bought at auction by Ted Bull. The red brick at Prattville is owned by Dr. Evans' estate and is used as a residence. The Luther school, last to be abandoned for school purposes, was closed in 1932, and last winter was purchased by Oscar Grass and torn down. Pupils from these districts are taken by buses to the Washington consolidated school where they have better educational facilities.

The frame building, now remodeled into a garage for the school, is, so far as can be ascertained, the first school on the site of the present high school, and some insist that it was first in the township. This was known as the Malone school and is seventy-five or more years old. Messrs. Schuyler Wilson, Roy Pierce and others of Valparaiso attended this school when they were eight or ten years old, and it was even then not a new building. Mrs. James Wilson's father and the other Bundy's also went to school there.

In this one-room building the benches were arranged around the wall, and in the center of the room was a large stove. A platform on which sat the teacher's desk occupied one end of the room. The boys and girls sat on opposite sides. Often an unruly boy would be sent to the little stream behind the school to but a willow stick with which to be whipped. The wise youngster notched the stock so that it would break before too much damage could be inflicted.

Once a phrenologist of great food nature and egotism who was visiting Valparaiso, was to lecture in the Malone school house. The men equipped themselves with strong cigars and soon rendered him invisible in clouds of smoke. The lecturer, an anti-tobacconist, was forced to run for the door, his good nature momentarily deserting him.

In 1911 a white brick structure was built by the late E. D. Cain, who was then trustee. It consisted of two good-sized rooms with a corridor and cloakroom between. Grades seven and eight and two years of high school occupied the one room, and the lower grades the other. The cloakroom later was used as a tiny classroom.

In 1917, during Fred Schwinkendorf's term as trustee, two classrooms were built on and a third year of high school was added. After some time and effort a commission for a four-year high school was obtained, which commission expired every year. In 1928 under the trusteeship of the late Morgan Porch, a $48,000 addition was built, and a continuous commission was granted for all twelve grades.

The Washington township high school is the only white brick school in the state. It is a long and low building with a spacious lawn set off by shrubs and trees, and rather resembles a country clubhouse. Mrs. James Wilson tells us that her uncle, George Partial, before mentioned as one of the earliest teachers of the county, planted the locust trees around the Malone school when he taught there, and that they became a landmark. These trees still stand in front of and behind the old part of the Washington high school.

The building contains four grade rooms, a laboratory, two classrooms, an assembly room, an office, a storeroom, furnace and boiler rooms, a gymnasium, a large and attractive dining room, and a home economics room with an electric range and tables equipped with hot plates. The school is a center of activities of the entire community. An athletic field of several acres affords recreation facilities.

At present the faculty consists of four high school teachers, four grade school teachers, and a music supervisor. Unless the record has recently been beaten, this school has the highest ranking of any rural high school in the state on the basis of scholarship of its alumni in college. Washington has three Phi Beta Kappas among the alumnae.

The first class graduated in 1917, and the alumni now number 116. Every year they hold a banquet at the school.

In early times there was no church in Washington township, but we find that Baptist services were held in George Cline's double house in 1835. Lewis Comer preached in the Morgan school in 1837. The congregation paid the preacher in whatever useful articles they could give. Donation surprise parties were popular. The first Sunday school was conducted by D. C. White in the Morgan school in 1856 with only a small attendance.

On May 10, 1889 Mr. Al Brown deeded to the township one and one-half acres for the site of a church. This was erected that summer on top of Pleasant View Hill, most of the work being done by men of the community. In the autumn the church was dedicated as a Methodist church, although in the first place it was supposed to include all denominations. Jared Blake and W. T. Brown were two of the founders of the church, and the Wilsons and Malones were also great workers on it.

The women of the church soon organized the Pleasant View Aid Society of which Mrs. W. T. Brown, it is believed, was the first president. Mrs. James Wilson is the oldest living member of this club. The primary purpose of the society was to earn money to pay the preacher, which was done by sewing, quilting, socials, etc. Dues were also charged. This group aided the poor in many ways.

For a time the church flourished, but later interest lagged, and services were discontinued. In 1920 the building was sold to Laine Young, and part of the material went into the building of the William Golden house.

The Aid Society was active until 1920. In 1922 it reorganized as a women's division of the Farm Bureau and started Purdue Extension projects, still carrying on charitable work as well.

Another active organization in the township is the Mutual Benefit club organized in 1924 with Mesdames Porch, Greenwell, Bickel, and Magnuson as charter members. Mrs. Leona Porch was its first president. It has twenty-two members. The purpose of the club is for the entertainment and benefit of the members and the community.

In 1835 a man named Russell opened the first blacksmith shop near the site of Prattville. In May 1836, Andrew Ault opened a general store three-fourths of a mile west of Prattville and obtained, at ten dollars a year, a license to retail liquor. In 1843 Bell and King had a tannery a mile and a half northeast of Prattville. This lasted two years. In connection with it Moses Turner ran a boot and shoe factory.

In 1844 the Bundy sawmill was started on the creek a mile and three quarters east of Prattville. After the frame had been erected at great expense, Bundy began to dig the race. Truman Freeman on the next farm refused to let him dig and a lawsuit resulted. So much trouble arose that mill never really operated but was torn down.

In 1852 a steam grist mill was built at Prattville. A 25-horsepower engine, obtained at Coldwater, Michigan, for $2,000, was brought from Michigan City with the greatest labor. The framework cost $1,000. Later burrs for grinding corn and wheat were added.

About sixty-five years ago McCurdy's cheese factory was located at the corner east of the Finney place.

The town of Prattville was laid out on LaPorte Road two miles east of Valparaiso by Wilson Malone, Lyman Beach, and Thomas Pratt. The plat was recorded on November 11, 1856, and a few lots were sold, but the town never fulfilled the hopes of its founders. When the block for the courthouse was donated to Valparaiso by the Portersville Land Company, Prattville, Flint Lake, and other little villages that had hopes of being chosen for the county seat lost any chance at becoming eminent.

In the township there are four miles of railroads running east and west. The Baltimore and Ohio crosses the northeast corner and the Grand Trunk near the center, the Pennsylvania enters the southeast corner with Nickel Station near the line between Washington and Morgan.

The Grand Trunk, known as the Peninsular railway, was built in 1874 with Malone as the station near the site of the old Indian village. The Baltimore and Ohio was completed at about the same time. Later the Peninsular became known as the Chicago and Lake Huron, then was sold to the Grand Trunk which extended the line from Valparaiso to Chicago. The New York, Chicago, and St. Louis came in 1881.

Just after the Pennsylvania railroad was built in 1858, a road was constructed, joining the Pennsylvania about 1500 feet east of the college buildings. It ran southeast through a corner of Washington Township and through Morgan Township, probably to LaCrosse where it joined the Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. This road was known as the C. C., possibly standing for Chicago and Cincinnati, but was abandoned in a short time. Some say that a few trains ran into Valparaiso over this road, thence into Chicago over the Pennsylvania. The Nickel Plate, built through this section by Patrick Clifford's father, followed for some distance the old embankment of the C. C., and the Chesapeake and Ohio also followed it in once place. Part of the grade may yet be seen near the Finney farm in Washington township, in Center near the Nickel Plate viaduct south of the cemetery, and in Morgan township.

In 1842 the entire amount of taxes paid by the people in Washington township was $262.61. The amount assessed was $705.79. 13,824.86 acres were valued at $47,815. The amount of taxable property was $60,643. In 1935 the assessed valuation was $2,546,630, and the tax rate was $1.86 per hundred dollars. This rate is one of the lowest in the county. The railroads pay a great share of the taxes. The low tax rate, the fact that no point in the township is more than eight miles from the county seat, and the good farm lands make Washington one of the best townships in the county.

The population in 1860 at the eighth census was 493; in 1870, 647; in 1890, 670; in 1900, 556; in 1910, 610; and in 1930, 632.

Not many exciting events have occurred in Washington Township, but many people remember one that took place on September 23, 1893. Two brothers named Robinson made an attempt to rob the safe at the University offices. A man named Nathan Howe who had brought a load of peaches from Michigan left his wagon and joined in the pursuit with five hundred students and several townsmen. At the Campbell place he obtained a carbine rifle which belonged to S. A. Campbell, and in a field on the Jasper Finney farm he killed Frank Robinson (he had intended to shoot the robber in the leg,) after which his brother surrendered. On Howe's return to Valparaiso his peaches were sold at auction for $350, some baskets selling for as much as ten dollars. The carbine referred to is in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Cain.

Mr. Otto Harbeck has a picture of himself at the wheel of one of the first cars in Washington township. This was in 1909. The car was a two-seated Surrey Rambler with no top, no wind shield, and no tread on the tires. It had acetylene lamps, and a wheel below the steering wheel served as the throttle. If the lever on the running board was moved forward, the car would reverse. This automobile cost $900 second-hand. Gas was obtained at the hardware store for ten cents a gallon.

The early settlers had a life of toil and hardship, but they were good friends and neighbors. Some lived to see the Indians vanish, railroads built, and other vanguards of civilization advance. Their descendants should feel great pride in these sturdy pioneers.

Instead of the covered wagon crawling along the trail, today we see the auto-trailer home, containing all the family possessions, speeding over smooth highways; but the people still have the sterling qualities their pioneer ancestors possessed, and still strive to make good neighbors and goof citizens in a progressive community.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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