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 13-14.


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


This history of Pleasant Township has been compiled by the United State History Class of the Kouts High School with the aid of their instructor, Miss Dittmer. It has been taken from the current histories of the township and the town of Kouts, from old land deeds and from interviews with residents who have lived in this community for a long period of time. Our aim has been to give as correct and as authentic a history of the township as possible. No date, fact, or statement has been placed in this history unless it has been verified from several different sources.

The poetry that has been placed in this history was selected because it was written by people who lived here and second, because it gives a true picture of Pleasant Township.

To these who have given us their support and help we acknowledge our gratitude,

            Raymond Gesse
            William Heffron
            Harold Heinhold
            Virginia Herring
            James Kaufmann
            Mary Kosanke
            Lilah Schwanke
            Dorothy Henrickson
            Evelyn Slain
            Barbara Starkey
            Clayton Sutter
            Darlene Talbot
            Pearl Thomas
            Paul Vogel

Early Exploration

Claude Allouez and Claude Dablon, missionaries, landed around the lake region of the territory that is now Porter County about the year 1673 and covered the territory to the Kankakee.

In the following year, Father Jacques Marquette paddled up the Kankakee to its source on his return trip from the Mississippi.

In 1679 a celebrated company passed down the beautiful river. Robert Cavelier Sieur De LaSalle was the leader and Chevalier De Tonti, the lieutenant. This group of thirty men went on down the Kankakee to the Illinois. The next spring, LaSalle returned on his way to Frontenac with only three companions, and passed through this territory on foot.

In 1711, the natives of this region came under the influence of Chardon, a missionary. Many were baptized from his post at St. Joseph, and partly because of this, the natives were very friendly with the French.


In 1759 all of Northern Indiana passed into the hands of the British. Because of the friendly relationship between the French and the Indians, the British found their rivals had a great lead over them. The Indians caused several small battles, supposedly to help the French regain the territory. However, peace finally followed and trading posts were established.

In 1781, the northern part of the territory was invaded by Don Eugenio Pierre. Pierre came from St. Louis to seize the territory in the name of the King of Spain. Now the third flag waved over the territory which was to be Pleasant township.

By the treaty of peace between England and the United States in 1783, a fourth flag waved. The British continued to claim this district until 1796, when Porter county became a part of the American Republic.

There is a legend that there was a war called the "Boundary War" between the natives of this region and those of the regions father west. The former possessed themselves of the ford of the Kankakee at Eton's Crossing. A battle was fought at the north end of Morgan Prairie. Evidence can be found that there was some such battle. It is possible that the old fort on the Kankakee in Pleasant township was erected at that time as a place of refuge in case of defeat. Part of the remains of the old fort can be seen. A period of peace followed this war.

During this time there were very few white settlers in the region which was to be called Pleasant township. The Kankakee region was very valuable for its furs and fish, but most of the white settlers and the natives were farther north because Lake Kankakee, as it was sometimes called, covered most of the southern part of the county.


In 1816 the entire state of Indiana was admitted to the Union as a State and in this year the government purchased the Indian titles to all the lands of Porter county lying south of the old Indian territory established in 1816.

The Pottawatomies in 1832 ceded to the United States the territory that was later to be called Pleasant township.

In 1835 came the sale of Public Lands. The sale was conducted at the town of LaPorte -- a town of log cabins.

During the "general division," April 12, 1836, Pleasant township was formed. Its name is said to have been suggested by its pleasant location and appearance. The following action of the First Board of Commissioners appeared:

"That the following territory shall constitute a township by the name of Pleasant: commencing at the southeast corner of Porter county, thence north to the northeast corner of Section 1, township 34, Range 5, thence west to the southern boundary of Washington township to the southwest of the same, thence south to the Kankakee river, thence east with the same place of beginning."

In July, 1836, a county road was established from the quarter post on the north line of Section 30, township 35, Range 5, to Sherwood Ferry on the Kankakee. This was probably one of the first planned roads of this new township.

The ferry across the Kankakee was advertised for sale because there had been no license for it. It was to be sold to the highest bidder at the following rates:

"Each footman, 5 1/2 cents; man and horse, 12 1/2 cents; horse and Dearborn wagon, 37 1/2 cents; two horses and wagon, 37 1/2 cents; any higher number of animals to wagon, 60 cents; one yoke of oxen and wagon, 37 1/2 cents; each head of cattle, 6 1/4 cents; asses, mules, each 6 1/4 cents; and when the water was high, so that the ferry would have to run up to the head of the canon, three times the above rates were charged."

In March, 1837, a license to keep this ferry across the Kankakee was given to Joseph Stearns and John Ship for the price of nine dollars.

About the time that this was taking place, the northern boundary line of Pleasant Township was extended west to the great Marsh, between Horse and Morgan Prairies, thence south with the center of the marsh to the Kankakee.

In 1841, the division line between Pleasant township and Boone township was established to commence at the northwest corner of Section 2, Township 33, Range 6, thence west one mile and thence south to …

Morgan township, in August, 1843, was created from the territory north of the line running east and west between section 29 and 32, Township 34, Range 5.

In 1852, Sections 2 and 11, of Township 33, Pleasant Township, were attached to Boone.

This was one of the last divisions taken from Pleasant township, leaving an area of approximately fifty-eight square miles.

Today Pleasant township is important in many ways. It is the largest of all the townships of Porter county, and every year its seasonal occupations have a great bearing on other sections of the county, state and nation. In past years it was more important. Spring brought the hunting and fishing season and travelers from far and wide. Summer brought still more fishing. Early Fall brought the hay season and travelers from far and ing[?]. Winter brought ice, lumber and more hunting. Pleasant township was known for miles. The following information has been obtained from settlers who have been in this section for many years. It is a mere attempt to show the importance in history of this one time great hunting ground.


In early years this territory was known as "Hunters Paradise," because of the swampy grounds around the Kankakee river and the abundance of wild life. Several creeks helped to make the township rich in regions for this game. Crooked Creek, on the east, named because it was so very crooked (it is said that this creek was so crooked that it met itself coming and going in several places), and Sandy Hook, on the west both emptied into the Kankakee.

No direct road could be taken to get into this region from the South. When this land was purchased from the Indians in 1832, settlers from the Carolinas and other southern states came north to the free lands. Their route was round about as they had to go to the town of LaPorte and then south until they hit the spot where they decided to settle. Others came up the Kankakee and settled along its banks, while still others came from far off Pennsylvania to make their homes in the land of game and plenty.

Land had to be cleared and homes had to be built on high spots because of the overflow of the river in certain seasons of the year. As an example of this, there was a "little bump in the marsh" at the mouth of Crooked Creek known as Lone Tree Island. This was sometimes called Hyde's Island because a man named Hyde lived there. Hyde built his home there because it was a high dry place. Three of his children were buried there because the water was too high to take them farther away. Another high dry place was Grape Island, south of Kouts. -- Years ago this little island would be covered with fox grapes, wild grapes about the size of Concord, and the rest of the surrounding territory would be under water.

Many people who came here were slave holders but slavery was never an issue due to the Ordinance of 1787. Slaves would have been expensive cargo to bring that long distance by wagon. Few women other than natives were here at first.

In 1835 Mrs. Sherwood remarked to Mrs. Trinkle, both early settlers, that she had not seen a white women except her sister in two years.

The Indians that the whites found here were the friendly Pottawatomies. They taught the settlers how to make hominy by cutting mortars in logs, pounding the corn and then cooking it. Many times the Indian would come begging for a piece of white bread and would bring a deer or a bucket of wild honey to give in exchange. Many of the Indians sold their land to the whites of this territory.

There is a story told that when the government started to move the Indians to Kansas, one Indian refused to go because he owned a man a debt of a few cents. He stayed until he had worked off the debt and then started out to follow the rest of his tribe. Some of the Indians married whites and some remained in the territory and others went with the tribe to the western reservations.

An Indian by the name of Swamp Toe sold the 160 acres that is now Kouts to Salome Kouts (160 acres) this deed is held by the relatives of the Kouts family.

When the surveyors for the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis railroad were working in Pleasant township they searched for a place to stay. There was no town in the vicinity, but there was a house near a store near by the roadbed. They asked the lady of the house for lodgings but she was too busy for boarders, so they moved on. Opportunity had passed by the home of Gilla Trinkle, for had she taken in these strangers, the town of Kouts would not exist. Instead there would be a town by the name of Trinkle on the Pennsylvania railroad, located a mile and a quarter west of the present town. Mrs. Kouts took the men as boarders and later the station on the railroad was named after her family -- Kouts Station. A town was later built around the station.

This is an excerpt from a History of Kouts.

"This town was laid out by B. Kouts and took its name after him. He built the first business block, which is now occupied by Dr. Atkins. The second business house was built by Brown and Dilley; the third was built by A. Williams. The post office was established here in 1865, with H. A. Wright as Postmaster, who held the office until 1881, when S. E. Douglas, the present incumbent, took charge of the office. The Chicago and Atlantic railroad has reached the town within the past year and as Kouts is the only station on either side of the road in the township, its prospects are quite flattering. Counting the floating population brought in by the building of the railroad there are perhaps 300 people in the town. It has two general stores; one is kept by B. Kouts, and other by H. Rosenbaum. There are two drug stores; one is kept by S. E. Douglas, and the other by L. Atkins. A grocery is kept by Mrs. Margaret Williamson; E. R. Kosanke keeps furniture; William Kee and William Cinkaske do the blacksmithing. The town has two saloons and one church. The Hodjins House is kept by J. A. Hodjins and restaurant by Albert Spencer. A hay barn, belonging to a Chicago man, is operated by H. A. Wright. Dr. Sprague and Dr. Kellog located here but did not stay long. The town is regularly plotted. Three additions have been made to it and entered of record by Mr. Kouts."

There have been two wooden frame school houses in the town of Kouts. The first of these was sold for a saloon and the second burned. The school term had to be finished in Obrlen hall while a new school was being erected. The building was completed in 1896, and included four large rooms, two rooms upstairs and two downstairs. The Architects were Krutch and Laycock, and George T. Pallison was the constructor of this four room brick structure. It was built to house the first eight grades. In 1936 an addition of two rooms and two hallways was made to the building. This now composes the assembly for the high school and the eighth grade room. Prior to the year 1906, the hot air system was used as a means of heating this building. A steam plant was then installed and was used for twenty-one years. From 1927 until the present time the vacuum system of steam heating has been used. In 1914 the present domestic science room was built in the basement. A modern building is planned now to take the place of this structure and is being constructed at the time of this writing.

In 1890 the Chicago and Atlantic Railroad became the Chicago and Erie. The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis railroad was known as the Panhandle, since it was only a minor line of the Pennsylvania Lines.

Kouts has had several industries, but most of them have failed to survive. Because there was no way to transport milk, and since this was a large dairy district, there was a large creamery here. Butter was shipped to several other places. In another section of the town there was a cheese factory, but these two factories lasted only a few years. The cheese factory was later used for a home while the creamery was bought by the Bowman Company to be used as a milk station. Farmers bring their milk to the station and it is then trucked to Chicago.

There is little left of the pickle factory. The climate and the soil around here were very good for pickles and at one time a great market was expected from this section. Large vats were built along the Panhandle and a great quantity was shipped to out of town markets. Now there is only enough for private use.

Due to the location near the creeks and swamps there were many willows. This brought into existence a basket factory which lasted only a few years.

Some residents say there was an ax-handle factory here but this cannot be proved.

Kouts also had an important stockyard. Cattle were brought for many miles to be shipped to the city markets. Part of this stockyard is still in use.

There is an old mill in Kouts that at one time was a good size general mill. All types of flour were ground here. It was the third mill in the township. One other a dutch windmill was built northeast of Kouts. Only buck wheat flour and corn meal were ground here. Then south of Kouts there was a large water mill. Here all kinds of grain were ground. These last two are gone and only the one in Kouts remains.

Early Events

The first birth was that of Henry Trinkle on Dec. 2, 1835, to Oilla Trinkle and William Trinkle.

The first death was that of Jeremiah Sherwood, a son of J. Sherwood. He was buried on the Widow Bonesteel's farm, south of Kouts.

The first marriage was that of Alexander Wright to Miss S. Jones in 1839.

One of the first murders was that of W. Swett, who was shot by Charles Chase in 1879. In the same year, Charles Askam was shot by McIntosh.

Early Casualty

In 1873 the daughter of J. M. Pugh, Sarah, burned to death. Her father was plowing near his home and found the marsh hay to be troublesome. He called his daughter to bring some fire from the house to burn the hay and while she was carrying it her dress caught on fire. She died the next day because of the burns she received.


Kouts has had to tornadoes. The first occurred on May 17, 1917. Two people were killed and many people were injured. Most of the homes of Kouts were either blown down or damaged a great deal. The second tornado occurred on May 28, 1935, and only slight damage was done. Windows were broken and in some instances glass was blown in door posts, but only two buildings were damaged to a great extent.

Importance of Sports

Kouts at one time was a great town for sports. The Hodgins Park located on the eastern part of the town was used for all types of races. It was quite a noted placed for horse races, and horses were brought for many miles to Kouts. The old race track can still be seen, but it is not in use today.

Every week found some kind of sport going on in Kouts. All kinds of sack races, foot races, baseball games, and other such sport were held in the Hodgins Park. At one time excursions were run from Chicago to Kouts for the great baseball games, and Chicago teams came out to play.

Following is an article taken from the Gary Times sometime during the spring of the year 1917.

"Old Time Fans Tells of Indiana's Longest Fight. How Ike Weir and Frank C. Murphy Went Eighty-Five Rounds to a Draw in the Town Hall at Kouts, Ind., Twenty-Six Years Ago -- Finish Fights Recalled.

"You weren't at the fight the other night, I noticed," the sporting writer remarked to the "old-time" fan as they sat enjoying an evening smoke together.

"The 'old-time' fan pondered a moment. 'No," he said and reached for a match. 'I didn't attend the boxing exhibition, if that's what you mean. Call things by their right names. There hasn't been a fight in this neck of the woods since they closed up the old Pete Reich's arena at Hessville, stopped the bare fist exhibitions at the slaughter house and fought for the championships of the world at North Judson and Kouts.'"

There was no stopping the "old-Time" fan for he had a story to tell and a good one too.

"About twenty-six years ago this coming summer," he resumed," Ike Weir, the Belfast spider and champion feather-weight of American fought Frank E. Murphy of England at Kouts, Ind. It was a finish fight to start as soon as a special train bringing the fighters from Chicago reached Kouts. The Hammond sports were at the Erie station -- the Wabash went over the Erie line then -- and when the special came in attempted to board it. Pinkertons were on the steps of each of the fourteen coaches and would let no one on although they were offered all kinds of money.

"I was one of the fans that tried to ride the special and failed and three of us were standing on the platform bemoaning our fate when a fast freight came along and we caught the caboose. Down the line we passed the special which had been sidetracked because of a hot box and just before we reached Kouts it passed us again.

"As soon as the mob hit Kouts they went to the town hall and the fight started. When my two friends and I arrived we found the hall packed to the limit and no more were being admitted. Weir and Murphy fought eighteen furious founds with skin gloves. When I finally got in by carrying a pail of water for the seconds -- after my money had been refused a short time before -- I found myself in Weir's corner.

"Spectators were fighting among themselves and in Weir's corner there were English sports who had followed him from England to see the fight. In the eighteenth round Murphy's eyes were closed so tight he could not see and as the bell rang it was presumed Weir would land the knockout blow. But instead he just stood in his corner and looked at Murphy. "Knock him out," Weir's seconds shouted.

"As a matter of fact Weir couldn't have hit a punching bag. The knuckles of his hands were broken and the flesh torn. Both mitts were swollen and bleeding. Weir just couldn't hit Murphy, although the Irishman stood up blind as a bat expecting it, round after round.

"It was from the eighteenth to the sixty-seventh round -- forty-nine rounds -- that not a blow was struck. Murphy's seconds lanced his eyes to let the bad blood out and little by little the whites began to show. Finally in the sixty-seventh Weir walked out and delivered two blows, broken hands or no broken hands. These blows closed Murphy's eyes up again tighter than a drum. Then they started stalling again. During the eighty-fifth round word came that the sheriff was on the way from Valparaiso and everybody went to the train. The fight had lasted from eleven o'clock at night until daybreak. That is the only time I ever heard of two fighters going eighty-five rounds to a draw. Murphy was a glutton for punishment and Weir a speed king in the ring . . . . . . "

This article would make the fight take place in the year 1891. Kouts must have been a famous town.

In the Spring of 1921 Kouts was finally incorporated. Before this people feared the idea of losing too many rights with incorporation -- The next spring electricity was added to the town.

Today Kouts, the center of population in Pleasant township is still a small town, but it is industrious and progressive. With the new school and dreams of waterworks and new roads it is gradually improving.

Natural Resources and Their Importance

Because this township was so densely populated with all types of trees, the land had to be cleared. This called for sawmills and made lumber one of our products. One of the historic old sawmills was located at Burke's Landing, which was on the Burke Ranch. The ranch was purchased from the Aetna Life Insurance Company in 1886 by an Irishman named Burke. The company had gained it through foreclosures of mortgages. It composed about six thousand acres and reached from the Kankakee river north to the present located of Clanricard. Burke's Landing or Howell's Landing was situated on the south part of the ranch. Lumber was shipped from here by flat boat down the Kankakee to the Illinois to the Mississippi and then on to New Orleans. Much of the lumber from this landing was shipped south. There was also a place for the river boats to land and a ferry for passengers. All evidence of this landing is now gone.

After the land was cleared this ranch was important as one of the large cattle farms. Texan steers were shipped here and landed at Clanricard for fattening. Clanricard is a switch for taking the incoming and "outgoing" stock. When the switch was built, Burke was told to name it. He could not think of a name so he asked his wife to name it. She called it after the place that she same from in Wales -- Clanric'ard. Large quantities of marsh hay grew on the north end of this ranch and this was used for feed.

Other sawmills were located in the southern part of the township until the land was cleared and then the mills would be moved to the next place of clearing. Many times the land would be cleared by a company interested in the lumber and then sold at a very cheap rate to private owners.

Many times the logs were drawn by sled from the river to places north. It was great sport for the children to hook on to the large bobsleds and ride to the river and back through the town, to wait for the next ride to the river.

Stories are told of timber thieves who cut the trees at night, rolled them to the bank of the river, pinned them together to make rafts, and then floated them down the river to Momence, the location of large sawmills.

Besides timbering, marsh hay was another important product from this region. In fact, one place, Grasmere, located east of Kouts, was named because of the grass. Lee Howell went to manage the Reeve Ranch and because the country was nothing but prairie grass, he called the place Grasmere. There seemed to be two kinds of prairie grass prevalent here. One called "Turkey-foot" because the top looked like the foot of a turkey. It grew in bunches about five feet high. The bottom of the stems made find wide leaf hay. The other type, known as Prairie Grass, grew about three feet high and was all leaves. It is said that this looked like timothy when timothy was large. The hay was but, pressed and shipped to Chicago and other places. Each bundle averaging about 150 pounds was weighted and the weight was written on small wooden tags.

Some of the hay was shipped to Peoria to the distilleries, and therefore it was known as Distillery Hay. Here the hay was used as ruffage with the malt that was sold to the large cattle farms on the region. Cattle were brought in Chicago and shipped to Pleasant township. Here they were pastured and wintered. Then they were driven to Herschel, Illinois, just south of Kankakee, to the great corn belt. There they were made ready for the Chicago market. This marsh hay of Indiana was used with the malt to make the cows eat the malt, since the malt was so prevalent then. When prohibition went into effect this one use for hay was stopped.

Another product was ice. During the winter it was every one's job to get his own ice. Individual families had their own ice house as did each store and each saloon. There is one original ice house left in Kouts. This still stands back on the Runyon place.

Religious Element of Pleasant Township

The First Christian church was built during the years 1886 and 1887 by the community at large. Mrs. Rose Yoder donated the lot for it. The building was a frame structure. Rev. Carpenter dedicated the church. In 1917, the tornado blew down this structure. At that time Rev. J. W. Whitt was visiting his daughter, Mrs. Meyers, and was preaching his sermon at the Community Hall (now the Luer's building). Because there were twenty-two members, large enough for a building, he decided to rebuild the church. He sent for a cement block machine and soon the work was started. With the aid of the people, the cement blocks were made for the structure. The church was dedicated March 17, 1918, and Rev. Whitt was the first pastor. Sometime after his death the church stopped being used as the Christian church and is now used by a group of Mennonites.

Lutheran Church

The first religious services of the township were held at the home of John Jones in 1836. Mr. Jones, although not a regular minister, often preached in the neighborhood, and occasionally in adjoining communities. These informal meetings were changed from house to house at first, and at a later day from school house to school house. Then in 1882 the first church was built in Kouts by the Lutherans at a cost of $1,000.

Much of the labor to build the church was furnished by the members.

Some of the first Lutherans to come to Kouts were Mr. Denzine, Mr. Klemz and Mr. Paul. They all came direct from Germany and their ---?--- was to build a free church in a free state. In 1906 Rev. Hicken came to a group of thirty-seven members. In 1908 a brick church was constructed across from the old church. There are now some 223 members.

St. Mary's Church

According to the recollection of the oldest living Catholics at Kouts, Father Stephens, later Rt. Rev. Msgr. Stephan, director of Catholic Indian Missions, who died in September, 1901, at Washington, D. C., was the first Catholic priest who administered to the then few Catholics at Kouts and said Mass a few times in the old log house of Anthony Dyszkiewicz. Father Michael O'Reilly, pastor at Valparaiso, took charge of the Kouts Mission in August, 1864. Until 1883 he attended it once in two months, after then, up to May, 1887, once a month. As the few Catholics were too poor to build a church, the services were held in different residences, but mostly in the house of Jerry McCarthy, one mile from town. In 1883 a meeting was called to build a church and about seven hundred dollars was subscribed. A picnic was held for the same purpose July 24, 1884. Father O'Reilly then bought the present church lots from Hillary A. Wright. In the deed of Sept. 1885, the property was described as Lots Three (3) and Four (4) in Block Two (2) in Wright's Addition to the town of Kouts. Soon afterwards the church, later destroyed by the cyclone, was built. Since Kouts had two railroads, Father O'Reilly entertained great hopes that the congregation would soon become strong enough to have a resident Pastor. Therefore the building was put up in such a style that it could easily be converted into a school house.

Father O'Reilly was succeeded in May, 1887, by Father Koblinski, who attended the Kouts congregation twice a month on Sundays from North Judson. Succeeding this priest, Father John Frericks, a resident at Pulaski, had charge of St. Mary's church for a short time. Then Father Dominic Schenck, pastor at Wanatah, visited the Mission at regular intervals. During his pastorate a bell was purchased, and the belfry built inside the church. In 1917 the cyclone destroyed the church and a brick one was built underground. At the same time the rectory was built in the adjoining lot. In 1926, Father Saltzer built the present church over the old basement church. In 1934 a pipe organ was installed, by Father Kondsiela, the present pastor -- dedicated.

Mennonite History

The Kouts Mennonite church belongs to the Central Conference of the Mennonites which had its origin in the Anabaptist movement of Europe at the time of the religious reformation of the sixteenth century. It is an organization of the Peaceful Anabaptists by Minne Simon from whim the Central Conference gets its name. There was a division in this church, and these were called Amish -- of which there still are a few today. Many Mennonites migrated from the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany into western Pennsylvania and Central Illinois. Due to some differences of opinion and conservatism, a great number under the leadership of Joseph Stuckey broke from this church in Illinois and formed the Central Conference of Mennonites. Many from both branches migrated to Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana. In Indiana they settled at Kouts, Kokomo, Goshen, and Middlebury. They settled in Kouts and these other towns chiefly for land interests.

Presbyterian Church
(Minutes of Season, Presbyterian Church).

The Presbyterians were the first to organize a congregation and erect a house of worship in the southern part of the county. The first church in Pleasant township was erected at Tassinog. This church now would be in Morgan township, which was at that time a part of Pleasant township. At the first session recorded, Rev. Spencer Baker presided with the Elders, George Biggart and John Freer. This date was Aug. 24, 1848. Session records show that this church was attended until the year 1898. The new church at Kouts was finished in 1904, and the first session was held in February, 1904. Sometime after that the church was rebuilt, the date could not be found, and this is the one in use today.

Reclamation Project

The ease with which wild life was to be found made the Kankakee marsh a "hunters paradise" and people from many other states came to the marsh to hunt, fish or trap. Wild game was to be found in every good hiding place, and thick underbrush afforded these places. Fox, wolves, rabbits, ducks, jacksnipes, geese, brants, plover, deer, mink, coon and skunk were all abundant in this region. Channel catfish, dog-fish, pickerel, bass, bull-heads, carp, buffalo, suckers could be caught in the Kankakee and some of the creeks. All types of wild flowers could be seen. It is said that this country was a blanket of yellow in the blooming time of the golden rod. Huckelberries were very plentiful, as were other types of berries. Even the beaver found this region to be as he liked.

Many clubs were formed by prominent people of this district and people from afar. There was a Louisville club composed of Short, Thompson, Grizzel, and Garnet Munn. Their official guide was "Doc" Price of Hebron. The Pittsburgh Club was composed of Ira Brainerd, captain of the club; John Streetor, and Harry and Joe Wainwright. Frequent guests of the club were Joe Gomez, who was the superintendent of the Eastern Division of the Pennsylvania railroad; Lewis Swift of Swift and Company, and Ned and Jim Brainerd. Another club was called the Lew Wallace. Still others were the Fort Wayne club and the Rockville club. Others who came here to enjoy the pleasure of hunting and fishing were: Fleishman, Henry Wallace, General Lew Wallace, and many others. Most of these were millionaires and they would bring their private servants with them. They would buy bread, butter and other articles from residents of Pleasant township. Many times a party would be given at the club houses or house boats and residents were often invited. There for the first time these early settlers of Pleasant township saw the fine linens, silver, cut glass and social regalia that were used in the best and most outstanding social homes in the United States. Most of these clubs were located at Baum's bridge. This bridge -- so named because a Mr. Baum owned territory around there, was very important. It was the crossing place of the old Pottawattomie trail. Years before the bridge was built over the river there was a ferry located there.

With all of this great wealth that was brought into the region, there was a demand for more land. The value of the "Tourist" was not known as it is today. In the 60's the Kankakee Drainage Association was organized. This was organized under the auspices of the federal government and the aim was to reclaim part of the land that was now covered by water and swamp. The Reeves Ditch was the first ditch to be started. It forms one of the boundary lines between LaPorte and Porter county. A little later, Hod Marble got up a petition to dig a ditch east and west, following the old river. His petition was granted and Marble Ditch was dug. This is now called the Kankakee. The old river is almost all back water now. The old bridge across the river was torn down. Two large tiles were placed where it stood, and a road was constructed. Now there is a bridge across Marble Ditch, the new Kankakee, at Baum's Bridge. Hunters say that the most beautiful river in this section was spoiled by this ditch. After this many more dredge ditches were dug and the marsh was drained.

As a result of the reclamation project there have been some good things and some bad. Much of the land was suitable for agriculture, but a part of the land was sand and muck. The muck exists almost wholly where the water was drained off the land, while the sand is found in the higher places. Now they are finding various kinds of crops that will thrive in muck soil. Many will not grow at all. Because of the drainage and the loss of the swamp regions, the wild life has had to search for another home and feeding place. Most of the wild life has now become extinct in this community. Marsh hay, that one time important product, was destroyed with the drainage of the land. Flowers and plants have been destroyed and most of the trees have been converted into lumber. The surrounding territories suffered because they were drained too much.

There is a movement now by the game lovers of today to reclaim the old swamp region and make it as it was. Birds and other types of wild life are being placed in the community. Fish are being placed in the streams, but there is a fear that the glory of nature that has been spoiled by the dredges cannot be remade by the art of man.


Two people in Pleasant township have contributed to the literary field. Mr. Porter Childers, locally, and his sister, Idael Makeever, who is notes in the West for her poetry.

These two moved to Pleasant township with their parents in 1889. Mr. Childers has lived here ever since. Mrs. Makeever taught school at Kouts for a time and moved west to Nebraska. There she gained fame for her poetry. In 1898 her book of poems "Golden Rod" was published. Later she wrote a lengthy poem, "Nebraska."

Mr. Childers is known for his poetry in Pleasant Township. His poems are full of local color and reminiscent of the Kankakee River as it used to be.

"A rapid river winding through
        A hundred miles of swamp and slough
Carrying the overflow
        From summers rains and Winter's snow."

Historic Old Landmarks

There are many interesting old land marks still remaining in Pleasant township that have been forgotten by or were never known to most people.

The gravel road which runs northeast and southwest through the western part of the township was an old Indian trail -- called the "Old Pottawattomie Trail." This was used as an Indian trail over a hundred years ago. When the Indians made the trail, they followed a ridge and this today the road runs diagonally and is very irregular. Just northeast of the junction of this road and State Road 8, lies the old Spencer cemetery which is also over one hundred years old. One can see this by looking at some of the very old and crumbling tombstones which are still standing.

In the southwest corner of the township, one can still see a few mounds which are a part of the old Indian burying ground. This was called "The Indian Garden or Bachelor's Heaven." This one time Indian village and cemetery was later inhabited by a bachelor, Henry Brody. Later several other bachelors lived there and it became known by the name, Bachelor's Heaven.

At Burro's Camp, nine miles southeast of Kouts, is the old Dunn's Bridge, which was built in 1894 from some steel which was once a part of the huge ferris wheel at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893.

The Coyer Building which now stands just north of the dance hall, was built in 1885. At that time it was called Baile's Hunting Lodge. Each Sunday, delicious chicken dinners were served to the Eastern hunters. The Pittsburgh Gun Club, also situated at Baum's Bridge, was built in 1880 by Joseph and Henry Wainwright and a Mr. Brainerd. This building is still remaining there, although its builders have been long since dead. Collier's Building, also in the same vicinity, was built in 1898 and is now used as a general store.

The Stowell Schoolhouse, located about nine miles southeast of Kouts, was built in 1885. Part of the oldest school in the township still stands south of State Road 8.

About six miles southeast of Kouts stands an old log house which was built in 1873 by James Hall. This building was used as a dwelling for many years and was called "The Tea Garden." Dr. Tea Garden of LaPorte owned the land, and so its name.

The two oldest houses situated in Kouts re the Wright home, built in 1883 at the time when the Chicago and Atlantic was laid through the town, and the Denzine home, built in 1893 on the same street. The Denzine home was the first two be built on the north side of the road, now Road 8.

The Benkie Drug store, the original part of which was built by Dr. McKee in 1888, was purchased in 1902 by Mr. Benkie and has been remodeled since then.

The first postoffice is used for a general store now. The one time frame building has been remodeled with tin and brick and Mrs. Cunningham owns this property.

Mrs. Williamson's store, one mentioned in the early history of Kouts, stands in a field north of Kouts about a half mile.

The Michigan State Road ran through the eastern part of the township. This road went from Michigan City to Lafayette and was a very important one. Today it is only a side road. An old marker can be seen from the road. Part of the old road was a corduroy. Just south of Clanricard there was a section called "Log Heap," so called because the logs were placed across the muck to allow the stage coach and wagons to pass over. The road went on until it came to Sand Channel, the only place that a wagon could ford. This was also corduroy. Logs were cut from small trees, split into two pieces, and placed lengthwise across the road. This made a firm bottom for wagon wheels. The road continued to the river and crossed at Birch's bridge. This was a covered bridge. There is no trace of this bridge today, because most of it burned. The rest of the timber fell into the river, and when the river was dredged, some of the lumber was found. Fred Miller has part of this same lumber found in the river in his barn. This same road was called the "Omnibus road" and the "Old State Coach Road."

South of Kouts is the remains of the old fort mentioned above in this history.


Pleasant township has taken part in most of the wars of the United States. In our town cemeteries west of Kouts the following graves can be found.

Spencer Cemetery

George H. Jones . . . . . Civil War
Rev. John Johns . . . . .  Mexican War
Jonathan Maine . . . . . . Civil War (Serg. Co. M 12 Ind. Cav.)
William Rinker . . . . . .  Civil War (Co. R, 9th Cav.)
Joe Hackman . . . . . . . Civil War
Lewis Stoddard . . . . . . Civil War (Capt. Co. M 12th Ind. Inf.)
A. L. Cunningham . . . . Civil War (Co. A 99th Ind. Inf.)
Henry Williamson . . . . .Civil War
John Maxwell . . . . . . .  Civil War
Thorton Bowman . . . . . Civil War
Henry Goff . . . . . . . . . Civil War
Edward Hall . . . . . . . .  Civil War
Chester Wagner . . . . . Civil War (C. E. 153rd Ill. Inf.)
E. Fisher . . . . . . . . . .  Civil War (Sgt. Co. A 13th Ind. Cav.)
Simon Witham . . . . . .  Civil War
Abraham Finney . . . . . Civil War (Co. G 73rd Ind. Inf.)
John Lane . . . . . . . . .  Civil War (pvt. Co. L 33rd Ind. Inf.)
Thos. Morrison . . . . . .  Civil War (Quartermaster Bat. 9th, Ill. Cav.)
John Hall . . . . . . . . . .  Civil War (Co. 9th Ill. Cav.)
Frederick Klott . . . . . .  Civil War

Lutheran Cemetery

Paul Schreiner . . . . . .  Spanish Am. War (Tech. Sgt. <ed. Serv., Med. Dept.)
Charles Krueger . . . . . Spanish Am. War (Priv. 4 U. S. Inf.)
William Schultz . . . . . . World War


Dr. P. D. Noland . . . . . World War
Austin Leser . . . . . . . . World War
------ Weddie . . . . . . . World War
Andrew Young . . . . . . Civil War (Co. E 89th Reg.)
Richard Simon . . . . . . World War
Orville Scott Johnson .  World War (Pvt. 140 Field Art., 39th Div.)
T. Stoddard Caswell . . Civil War
Albert Spencer . . . . .  Civil War (Co. I 73rd Ind. Inf.)
Samuel Shapely . . . .  Civil War
Z. Miller . . . . . . . . . .  Civil War (Corp. Co. D 69th Ind. Inf.)
George H. Miller . . . . . Civil War (Co. C 190 Pa. Inf.)
Jacob Miller Schwartz . Civil War (Private Co. A 2nd Ind. Cav.)

Catholic Cemetery

Martin Redilyack . . . .  World War
William Redilyack . . . . World War

After the death of William Redilyack, son of Mrs. Margaret Redilyack, in 1920, Luther B. Wise and J. Raymond Benkie organized a Legion post for Kouts. Redilyack was the first veteran that Kouts lost from its ranks -- since they were fortunate not to lose any during the war.

Wise, through his efforts, succeeded in getting the required number of fifteen ex-service men, in order to hold a charter, and with the assistance of Benkie held a special meeting at the school to organize the Post.

The charter members and a number of ex-service men who joined decided to name the Post after William Redilyack. Election of officers took place, with Wise as Commander and Benkie as Adjutant. A charter was received from the department headquarters of the American Legion in Indianapolis, Aug. 10, 1920.

In 1921, under the commandership of Dr. S. E. Dittmer, the Post had an enrollment of fifty-two members, the largest since the Post has been organized. In the succeeding years it has been over its quota of twenty-three members.

Comrade James A. Hodgins, Civil War veteran, in 1922, presented to the Post a lot to be used as they so desired. In 1925, the Post presented to the Town officials, a six by ten flag, as a remembrance from them. This was to be used on the steel flag pole which stood in front of the town hall. The same year, they sold flags and staffs to every business house to be placed in the sidewalks.

In 1930, the Post planted an Elm tree in Graceland cemetery on the lot of a Civil War veteran, Albert Spencer. The purpose of the tree is to act as a memorial for the soldiers and sailors of Pleasant township. The lot was given by Mrs. Turner Eadus. Each year, at this sacred spot, memorial day services are held, with a salute fired over the graves.

In 1934 over six thousand evergreen trees were sold to the public. As a memorial from the Post, they gave each and every child in the schools of Pleasant township a tree.

In 1935, the Post erected a steel flag pole in front of the post office.

In 1936 the Post is going to furnish the posts for the memorial plaques that are to be dedicated during the coming Centennial. One is to be at the old fort, near the Kankakee. The place that Lew Wallace wrote part if his great book, and the other at the Indian Mounds.

The Post has a membership of twenty-seven at the present time, and has five citations, in succession for over top membership. One community citation has been received.

Boys in the service from Pleasant township in the World War were:

Harry Jones, Emil Hofferth, Everett Metherd, Paul Iliff, Orville S. Johnson (deceased), Arthur Rivelt, Edward Wandrey, Frank E. Lauer, James L. Garrigan, Paul E. Bodecker, Luther B. Wise, Archie Metherd, Otto Metherd, Ewalt E. Rosenbaum, Vaughn Lane, Paul H. Miller, Lafayette Cornell, Henry Swing, Fred Behrends, Burney Maxwell, James Collier, Paul Lauer, J. Raymond Benkie, Carl cannon, Hazen Cannon, Paul K. Gordon, Oley J. Betterton, Joe Betterton (deceased), Gleeron Fall, Jay Tabler, Blaine Callahan, Guy Callahan, William J. Ryan, Rheinhold Klemz, William Klemz, Herman Klemz, Henry Klemz, Dr. S. E. Dittmer, Martin Redilyack (deceased), William Redilyack (deceased), John Redilyack, Emil Pulaski, Fred H. Potter, William P. Schultz (deceased), Vernon Schultz, Henry F. Schultz, Albert Schultz, Emil Schultz, Walter Jackson, Ben Tanner, Albert Sinn, Harry Mockler, William Schwanke, Chas. Wray, John Wray, John Shutske, Leo C. Shutske, George Young, Lester Lane, Alva Taylor, Albert Honehouse, Arthur Bandemer, Ray Cannon.


Of all the places I have seen
        In all the land where I have been,
It jest delights my eyes to see
        The lands along the Kankakee.

I know folks say things mean an' harsh,
        An' call it an old musk-rat marsh,
An' make a heap o' fun of me
        Cause I was born on the Kankakee.

Fer in the happy days gone by,
        Beneath the blue of summer sky,
A lank, barefooted, awk'ard child
        I roamed acrost its marshes wild.

        An' moored my boat acrost the tide
Of the old river's boomin' side;
        'Cause mother thought she allus mus'
Have lots of roots, and calamus.

Fer it grew on the marsh jes' think
        In case any of us got sick.
Too fur to git a doctor, see
        In them days on the Kankakee.

In winter, when the skatin come,
        We had more 'an our share of fun.
An', on the crooked river, miles
        We glided down the gloomy wilds.

When from a happy little tad
        I lengthen'd to a longer lad.
Acrost the row-boat's gentle swish
        I threw my hook an' line to fish.

An' 'twas the greatest happiness
        If I could git a nice big mess;
But they never taste so good to me,
        As they did from the Kankakee.

An' when the stiddy falli  rain
        Booms the old river up again,
-- No danger of us getting stuck --
        We went a-huntin' geese an' duck.

Fer months the hunter's rapid "whang"
        Acrost the floatin' marshes rang.
'Twas fun, I tell you, yes, sir-ree,
        A-huntin' down the Kankakee.

An' when I git through huntin here,
        Jest make my old canoe my bier.
An' under sands an' rushes rank,
        I want to slumber on its bank.

                            Idael Childers Makeever
                                "Golden Rod and Dialect Poems."


A rapid river winding though,
        A hundred miles of swamp and slough,
Carrying away the overflow,
        From summer rains and winter snow.
Raising, spreading as it is pressed
        Ever onward toward the west.
Raising o'er its banks and sands
        And flooding all its bottom lands.

        A hundred miles of swamp and slough,
Where timber in the water grew,
        Where oaks and elms and maples spread,
Their leafy branches over head.
        Narrow boat roads lead the way,
To where some hidden island lay,
        And bayous showed where long ago,
The ancient river used to flow.

        Then this wild and swampy land
Was yet unchanged by human hand,
        And was the greatest spot for game,
Ever known since white man came.
        Upon its ridges roamed the deer
That made their home there all the year,
        While many of its hollow trees
Sheltered swarms of honey bees.

        Near its swiftly flowing water
Lived the mink and coon and otter,
        Beneath its waving pickerel grass,
Swam the pike and gamey bass.
        Wide marshes lay on either side
Filled with water from its tide,
        There the muskrats lived and bred
And Mallard ducks and wild goose fed.

        Snipe and plover by the scores
Were found along its boggy shores,
        And near by these, the prairie hen
        Such was this country in that day
When nature had her own wild way
        A land of fish and fur and game
Well suited to its Indian name.

        Who can forget that thrilling sight
The old time wild fowls northern flight.
        Like winged invaders from on high
Their flying squadrons hid the sky.
        A wild rejoicing exile band
Returning to their native land
        Ducks and geese, brant and crane
All happy to get home again.

        But the dredge has done its deadly work
And left no place for game to lurk
        The Jacksnipe and the plover too,
Have bid their dried up land, adieu
        The prairie grass is heard no more
Crowing on its marshy shore,
        The tide of time is flowing fast
Those old time hunting days have past,
        Their memories already seem
Like some half forgotten dream.

        The greedy white man's ruthless hand
Has robbed us, of our native land
        And out beloved Kankakee
A dirty ditch shall forth be.

                                                -- W. P. Childers

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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