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, Page 12.



From the period between 1906 to 1921, with exception of two years, during the world war, Valparaiso and Porter county people enjoyed the high class entertainment which the Chautauqua, then in its ascendancy throughout the country, provided.

Valparaiso men back of this huge entertainment were Edgerton W. Agar, former mayor of Valparaiso, and practicing attorney; Roscoe C. Jones, former county clerk, now deceased, and Leslie R. Skinner.

The Valparaiso Chautauqua was incorporated in 1906, and the first chautauqua was held at Sager's lake. Great crowds attended the initial sessions. A regular tented city of campers dotted the hills to the south of the lake, there being at least forty tents.

William A. Sunday, the celebrated evangelist, who died decently, was one of the big headliners. Father Vaughn, noted Catholic lecturer, was another, as was L. B. Wickersham. A large band of Iroquois Indians held a pow wow during the conclave.

The second chautauqua held at Sager's lake in 1907, drew an even larger attendance. Besides Sunday and Father Vaughn, the Dixie Jubilee Singers, LaLa, the Philipino, and others were on the program. The Porter County Teachers' Institute held its sessions on the grounds.

The chautauqua was held three times at Sager's lake, and remainder of the time at Brown Field, with exception of one time on the law of O. P. Kinsey. During 1906 and 1917 no sessions were held. The last chautauqua was in 1921.

Among the distinguished speakers was Thomas R. Marshall, former governor of Indiana and vice-president under Woodrow Wilson.

Edgarton W. Agar served as president of the chautauqua during its entire existence as did Roscoe C. Jones, secretary-treasurer. L. R. Skinner withdrew after rendering valiant service for a number of years.

Valparaiso and Porter county citizens purchased stock in the enterprise, which in reality was a gift by these subscribers as no dividends were ever paid, and none of the officers received a cent for their services.

The purpose of the chautauqua was to bring the best talent of the country to Valparaiso, comprising a varied program of high class music and lectures touching on every phase of adoration.

The attractions for the local chautauqua were obtained from all Lyceum bureaus, and the program was built with the idea of getting a proper balance.

The chautauqua movement in the larger communities began to wane with the development of the automobile and the introduction of the movies on a grander scale. With support lacking the promoters were unable to finance the sessions which entailed a huge outlay for a ten days' program.

All of the records of the chautauqua which were in possession of Mr. Agar, were destroyed at the time of the Academy of Music fire in 1926.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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