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 4-6.


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


In each community there are always to be found "Believe It Or Not" yarns.

Here are two of Union Township's yarns, as told by Lee Hodsden:

Extermination of the Wild Pigeons Of Union Township

It was late fall of the year 1851 and Stephen Hodsden had been required to remain after school because of a prank committed during the day. Darkness was approaching before the schoolmaster saw fit to allow his unruly pupil to go home. Taking a short cut through the woods Stephen noticed on a limb in a dead tree near the edge of the woods the only flock of wild pigeons left in the neighborhood. Near this tree stood a circular hay stack against which were resting some long fence rails, spaced some six feet apart -- intended to prevent the wind from blowing the stack to pieces.

Hurrying home he loaded the old muzzle-loading rifle. He wanted just one of those pigeons. Approaching the tree as stealthily as possible, he had the misfortune of falling over a stump in the near darkness and bending the rifle barrel into a small arc. He made his way to the hay stack without scaring the pigeons and, making allowance for the curve of the rifle barrel, he aimed as best he could and pressed the trigger. The arc in the barrel was such that the bullet, instead of being directed toward the tree, was actually going in a circle around the stack of hay! Realizing this, Stephen dropped the discharged rifle and raced around the stack just ahead of the whistling bullet! Finding himself losing speed and the bullet getting closer, he thought of cutting the circle smaller in which he was running. In so doing he caught his foot on one of the rails leading against the stack and fell flat. The rail being kicked away from the stack was struck by the bullet which glanced off into the tree, and -- believe it or not -- killed not one pigeon, but the entire flock -- the last of Union township's wild pigeons.

Ezra Ferguson's Masterpiece

Mr. Ferguson entered into a contract to plow and have ready for planting an eighty-acre plot that had been cleared off of heavy timber the winter previous. With his twenty yoke of oxen -- forty oxen, you will understand -- and a specially built plow he had no trouble in uprooting green stumps twenty-four to thirty inches across, and the smaller ones were as easy to turn under as corn stubble.

But some ten rods from the edge of the field was a white oak stump measuring exactly seventy-seven inches across, and tough and gnarled as you could find anywhere. This was what worried Ezra. It so happened that just as his plowed land approached this stump a rainy spell occurred, during which time the oxen became quite frisky, because of the fact that Ezra had neglected to cut down their grain ration.

After three or four days he was able to continue plowing, and with the help of my grandfather yoked and hitched his oxen to the plow. He was entering the field when a small shower set in. Wishing to take the "edge" off his frisky oxen before unhitching, he called to Mrs. Ferguson to bring out a heavier coat than the one he was wearing and in the excitement Mrs. Ferguson brought out Ezra's Sunday swallow-tailed coat, which he put on rather than go to the trouble of hunting around for another.

They were off with a jump -- rolling under stump after stump and going faster at each step. Then the big part of the story happened! Just as the dashing oxen and plowman were about to pass this giant stump, the heel of the plowshare struck a firmly-embedded rock, throwing the plow out of the ground and striking the big stump square in the center. So great was the rate of speed that the stump was split right through the middle -- plow and plowman passing through -- but with a tremendous bang the split closed tight . . . on Ezra's flying coat tails! Quickly grasping tightly to the plow handles Ezra yelled at the oxen to "get down and pull." They did, and pulled the big stump clear out of the group.


The very first inhabitants of what is now Union township were the mound builders. These rather mysterious inhabitants preceded the Indians. Very little is known about them, although extensive research work has been carried on by ethnologists to find out how they lived, where they came from, and at what time they occupied this township.

One of the mounds in this section of the country was examined by a state geologist and the following report was given:

"A ditch was dug three feet wide, thirty-two feet long and, at the center of the mound, fourteen feet in depth. The mound was found to be composed of a compact yellowish clay in which were a few scattered pebbles of small size. In the center ten feet from the crest, the earth became darker, harder, and more compact. Six inches lower was a layer of black organic matter, in which were the remained of a very badly decayed human skeleton. It lay in a reclining position with its head to the south. Only a few pieces of bone and fourteen teeth were removed, the remainder crumbling to dust. The crowns of the teeth were hard and solid, but the fangs for the most part crumbled like the bone. No implements of any kind were found, thought the excavations were extended four feet lower and over an area of five by seven in the center of the mound."

The first Indians to occupy the township were the Pottawatomies. As a rule, these Indians were friendly, and willing listeners to the Jesuits, and willing to accept the new methods of civilization. In October, 1832, a treaty was made with them in which they were to receive an annuity of $20,000 for a period of twenty years; they were given goods amounting in value to $130,000; and the whites assumed indebtedness to certain members of the tribe, amounting to $62,412. Some of the Indians refused to go at the appointed time to the reservation in what is now the State of Kansas, and so had to be moved by soldiers.

Quite a number of old trails made probably by the Pottawatomies and other tribes run through our township.

Union township was made a township on April 12, 1836. It has been called the peaceful township on account of its natural beauty. The township was farther away from the institutions of civilization than any other township; therefore, it made it harder for settlers who resided here. It is rather doubtful who the first settlers were after the departure of the Indians had made it safe for pioneers to come and make their homes in this township. Among the first settlers through were William B. Blachly, Benjamin McCarty, James Wilson, Ed Wand, Noah Fowts, and Lewis Walton.

The first frame house in the township was built by a Mr. Snow. The lumber was hauled from LaPorte. After the building was completed, Mr. Snow bought supplies and a small stock of goods, and became the township's first merchant. Two years later he sold out to Oliver Shepard, a Yankee, who put up a sign, "The Hoosier's Nest," and it soon became a meeting place for travelers from far and wide.

The earliest information concerning Indiana was furnished by the Jesuits who came from France to try and civilize the Indians in the territory of the Great Lakes, therefore taking in this section of the country. As the Indians passed on their way to trading posts in Canada, they made many trails, some of which may pass through here today.

Probably because of the fact that Union Township is not located along any river, trading posts were not set up around here, and settlement was rather slow.

The first Indians to settle here were the Pottowatomies and the Quintanous, who came here some time during the seventeenth century. A few years later, traders began to settle around here.

Before the French and Indian War, the French had full control over all the Indians in this part of the United States, and during the war the Indians at first aided the French, but later turned to the side of the British. After the war the English gained control of this part of the country.

Although many tribes came to Indiana, they seldom remained, on account of their fear of the savage Iroquois, who massacred other tribes that dared invade their domain. But as the years passed, people began to settle more freely.

Then came the American Revolution and the passing of more years, in which more settlers and pioneers were bringing in their families.

After more years of settlement and progress the state was divided into counties, which were in turn divided into townships. And on April 12, 1836, Union township was recognized as a township.

This township is five miles east to west and six miles north to south, containing thirty square miles.

Hollister's lake -- six or seven acres in extent -- is the township's only lake worthy of mention.

The "twenty mile prairie" is in the northern part and was so named because an old settler once said that it was "twenty miles from anywhere," meaning it was twenty (or some multiple of twenty) miles from the nearest trading post.

Early settlers found plenty of wild game such as deer, bears, lynx, badger, otter, and other fur-bearing animals. There were also hordes of prairie and gray wolves, the latter species being the more numerous by far.


Wheeler was laid out in 1858 by T. A. E. Campbell who at the time owned the entire tract upon which the town was located. Three business houses were built that year.

First was a frame building erected by Mr. Monfort and first occupied in the fall of 1859 by Sigler Brothers who began with a merchandise stock amounting to about $4,000, and increased it in a year or two to a stock worth $10,000.

Second was the Wheeler House, built by George Kimball, conducted by him for some five years, with Ichabod Hall successor, and abandoned about 1872."

Third was a small saloon built by Carroll & Harner, and conducted about one year.

George Longshore was the first postmaster.

The first blacksmith shop was built in 1862 by D. McHenry.


The official history of Union township began in 1785, for that year the Continental Congress passed an ordinance pertaining directly to the history of Union township. We quote:

Ordinance of 1785

"An Ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of lands in the western territory.

"Be it ordained by the United States in congress assembled, that the territory ceded by individual states to the United States, which has been purchased of the Indian inhabitants, shall be disposed of in the following manner:

"A surveyor from each state shall be appointed by congress, or a committee of the states, who shall take an oath for the faithful discharge of his duty, before the geographer of the United States, who is hereby empowered and directed to administer the same; and the like oath shall be administered to each chain-carrier by the surveyor under whom he acts.

"The geographer, under whose direction the surveyors shall act, shall occasionally form such regulations for their conduct as he shall deem necessary; and shall have authority to suspend them for misconduct in office, and shall make report of the same to congress or to the committee of the States; and he shall make report in case of sickness, death, or resignation of any surveyor.

"The surveyors, as they are respectively qualified, shall proceed to divide the said territory into townships of six miles square by lines running due north and south, and others crossing there at right angles, as near as may be, unless where the boundaries of the late Indian purchases may render the same impracticable, and then they shall depart from this rule no farther than such particular circumstances may require. And each surveyor shall be allowed and paid at the rate of two dollars for every mile in length he shall run, including the wages of chain-carriers, markers, and every other expense attending the same.

"The first line running north and south as aforesaid, shall begin on the river Ohio at a point that shall be bound to be due north from the western termination of a line which has been run as the southern boundary of the State of Pennsylvania; and the first line running east and west shall extend throughout the whole territory; provided that nothing herein shall be construed as fixing the western boundary of the State of Pennsylvania. The geographer shall designate the townships or fractional parts of townships by numbers, progressively, from south to north -- always beginning each range with No. 1; and the ranges shall be distinguished by their progressive numbers to the westward. The first range, extending from the Ohio to the Lake Erie being marked No. 1. The geographer shall personally attend to the running of the first east and west line; and shall take the latitude of the extremes of the first north and south line, and of the mouths of the principal rivers.

"The lines shall be measured with a chain; shall be plainly marked by chips on the trees, and exactly described on a plat; whereon shall be noted by the survey or, at their proper distances, all mines, salt springs, salt licks, and mill-seats that shall come to his knowledge; and all water-courses, mountains, and other remarkable and permanent things, over or near which such lines shall pass, and also the quality of the lands.

"The plats of the townships respectively, shall be marked, by subdivisions, into lots of one mile square, or six hundred and forty acres, in the same direction as the external lines, and numbered from one to thirty-six -- always beginning the succeeding range of the lots with the number next to that with which the preceding one concluded. And where, from the causes before mentioned, the lots protracted thereon shall bear the same numbers as if the township had been entire. And the surveyors, in running the external lines of the townships, shall, at the interval of every mile, mark corners for the lots which are adjacent, always designating the same in a different manner from those of the townships.

"The geographer and surveyor shall pay the utmost attention to the variation of the magnetic needle, and shall run and note all lines by the true meridian, certifying with every plat what was the variation at the times of running the lines thereon noted.

"As soon as seven ranges of townships, and fractional parts of townships, in the direction from south to north, shall have been surveyed, the geographer shall transmit plats thereof to the board of treasury, who shall record the same, with the report, in well bound books to be kept for that purpose. And the geographer shall make similar returns, from time to time, of every seven ranges as they may be surveyed. The secretary at war shall have recourse thereto, and shall take by lot therefrom a number of townships and fractional parts of townships, as well from those to be sold entire as from those to be sold in lots, as will be equal to one-seventh part of the whole of such seven ranges, as nearly as may be, for the use of the late continental army; and he shall make a similar draught, from time to time, until a sufficient quantity is drawn to satisfy the same, to be applied in manner hereinafter directed. The board of treasury shall, from time to time, cause the remaining numbers, as well those to be sold entire as those to be sold in lots, to be drawn for, in the name of the thirteen states respectively, according to the quotas in the last preceding requisition on all the States; provided, that in case more land than its proportion is allotted for sale in any State at any distribution, a deduction be made therefor at the next.

"The board of treasury shall transmit a copy of the original plats, previously noting thereon the townships and fractional parts of townships, which shall have fallen to the several states, by the distribution aforesaid, to the commissioners of the loan office of the several States, who after giving notice of not less than two, nor more than six months, by causing advertisements to be posted up at the court houses, or other noted places in every county, and to be inserted in one newspaper, published in the states of their residence respectively, shall proceed to sell the townships, or fractional parts of townships, at public vendue, in the following manner, viz: The township, or fractional part of a township, No. 1, in the first range, shall be sold entire; and No. 2, in the same range, by lots; and thus in alternate order through the whole of the first range. The township or fractional part of a township No. 1, in the second range shall be sold by lots; and No. 2 in the same range, entire; and so in alternate order through the whole of the second range; and the third range shall be sold in the same manner as the first, and the fourth in the same manner as the second, and thus, alternately, throughout all the ranges; provided, that none of the lands within the said territory be sold under the price of one dollar the acre, to be paid in specie or loan office certificates, reduced to specie value, by the scale of depreciation, or certificates of liquidated debts of the United States, including interest, besides the expense of the survey and other charges thereon, which are hereby rated at thirty-six dollars the township, in specie or certificates as aforesaid, and so in the same proportion, for a fractional part of a township or of a lot, to be paid at the time of sales; on failure of which payment, the said lands shall again be offered for sale.

"There shall be reserved for the United States out of every township, the four lots, being numbered 8, 11, 26, 29, and out of every fractional part of a township, so many lots of the same numbers as shall be found thereon, for sale. There shall be reserved the lot No 16, of every township, for the maintenance of public schools, within the said township; also one-third part of all gold, silver, lead and copper mines, to be sold, or otherwise disposed of as Congress shall hereafter direct.

"When any township or fractional part of a township, shall have been sold as aforesaid, and the money or certificates received therefor, the loan officer shall deliver a deed in the following terms:

"The United States of America, to all to whom these presents shall come, greeting:

"Know ye, That for the consideration of ------ dollars, we have granted, and hereby do grant and confirm, unto ------, the township, (or fractional part of a township, as the case may be) numbered ------ in the range ------ excepting therefrom, and reserving, one-third part of all gold, silver, lead and copper mines, within the same; and the lots No. 8, 11, 26, and 29, for future sale or disposition, and the lot No. 16, for the maintenance of public schools. To have to the said ------ his heirs and assigns, forever; (or if more than one purchaser, to the said ------ their heirs and assigns, forever, as tenants in Common.) In witness whereof, A B, commissioner of the loan office, in the State of ------, hath, in conformity to the ordinance passed by the United States in Congress assembled, the twentieth day of May, in the year of our Lord, 1785, hereunto set his hand and affixed his seal this ------ day of ------, in the year of our Lord ------, and of the independence of the United States of America ------.

"And when any township, or fractional part of a township, shall be sold by lots as aforesaid, the commissioner of the loan office shall deliver a deed therefor in the following form:

"The United States of America to all to whom these presents shall come, greetings:

"Know ye, that for the consideration of ------dollars, we have granted and hereby do grant and confirm, unto ------, the lot (or lots, as the case may be, in the township or fractional part of the township, as the case may be, numbered ------, in the range ------, excepting and reserving one-third part of all gold, silver, lead and copper mines, within the same, for future sale or disposition. To have to the said ------ his heirs and assigns for ever; (or, if more than one purchaser, to the said ------, their heirs and assigns, forever, as tenants in common.) In witness whereof A B, commissioner of the continental loan office in the State of ------ hath, in conformity to the ordinance passed by the United States in Congress assembled, the twentieth day of May, in the year of our Lord, 1785, hereunto set his hand and affixed his seal, this ------ day of ------, in the year of our Lord ------ and of the independence of the United States of America ------.

"Which deeds shall be recorded in proper books, by the commissioner of the loan office, and shall be certified to have been recorded, previous to their being delivered to the purchaser, and shall be good and valid to convey the lands in the same described.

"The commissioners of the loan offices, respectively, shall transmit to the board of treasury, every three months, an account of the townships, fractional parts of townships, and lots, committed to their charge; specifying therein the names of the persons to whom sold, and the sums of money or certificates received for the same; and shall cause all certificates by them received, to be struck through with a circular punch; and they shall be duly charged in the books of the treasury with the amount of the moneys or certificates, distinguishing the same, by them received as aforesaid.

How the Public Lands Were Surveyed
(From Niles Register, April 12, 1817)

"Captain Jared Mansfield, U. S. A., succeeded Rufus Putnam, the first Surveyor-General, in 1803. It was necessary for him to survey the Vincennes Indian Grant of 1795, confirmed in 1803. But as the tract was surrounded by Indian lands, cut off from the other surveys and remote from the Ohio river, he was at a loss as how to proceed. If he tried to survey the tract in conformance with the lines east of the Greenville Treaty line, he felt sure that when the lines were connected after the Indian title to the intervening land was secured, there would be great confusion, and if he merely surveyed the tract as a unit it would destroy any uniformity of surveys in the Indian Territory. He therefore decided to base the surveys upon great lines which could control all future surveys in that region. To this end, he ran the Second Principal Meridian through the northeast corner of the cession. For a base line he used a line running from the western-most corner of the Grant of Clark on the Ohio -- the nearest surveyed land.

"This was the beginning of the combination of principal meridians and base lines which have been used in all later surveys. Both had been used before -- Mansfield perfected the system and applied his brilliant talents in the astronomical location of the important points from which surrounding surveys could be made. The Second Principal Meridian governed the surveys of Indiana and those in Illinois to the western boundary of the fourteenth range. West from that line to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers the surveys have been based on the Third Principal Meridian, which runs from the south of the Ohio river.

"The north and south lines are run by the true meridian, and the east and west lines at right angles therefrom, as far as practicable, in closing. But as the east and west line of the sections or townships, they frequently vary a little from those points, being run from one section of township corner to another. The lines are well marked by having all those trees which fall into the line notched with two notches on each side where the line cuts, and all of the line near it blazed on two sides, diagonally or quartering towards the line.

"At the section corners there are posts set, having as many notches cut on two sides of them as they are miles distant from the township boundary, where the sectional lines commenced. At the township corners the posts have six notches made on each of the four sides facing the lines. Wherever a tree falls exactly at the corner, it supplies the place of a post, and is marked in the same manner. The places of the posts are perpetuated this: At each corner the courses are taken to two trees in opposite directions as nearly as may be, and their distance from the measured. These trees are called "bearing trees" (witness trees) and are blazed on the side next the post, and one notch is made with an axe in the blaze. But in prairies, or other places where there are no trees within a convenient distance for bearings, a mound of earth is raised at each corner, not less than two and a half feet high, nor less than that in diameter at the base, in which the mound-posts are placed.

"At the section corners the numbers of each section, together with the numbers of the township and range, are marked with a marking iron (such as are used in mills and warehouses) on a bearing or other trees standing within the section and near to the corner, thus: A blaze large enough for the purpose is made on the tree, and on the blaze the letter R is made, with the number of the range annexed; below this the letter T, with the number of the township; and under that the number of the section, without any letter to denote it. To the number of the township is the letter N or S is added, according as the township lies north or south of the base-line; and to the number of the range the letter E or W as the range may be east or west of the principal meridian. By proper attention to these numbers and marks a purchaser is enabled to know the quarter and number of the section he wishes to enter, and the number of the township and range in which it lies.

"The quarter section corners are established in the same manner that the section corners are, but no marks are made for the numbers of section, township and range; "1-4 S" only is marked on the post.

"The deputy surveyors are required to note particularly and to enter in their field books the courses and distances of all lines which they may run; the names and estimated diameters of all corner and bearing trees, and all those threes which fall in the lines, called station or line trees, together with the courses and distances of the bearing trees from their respective corners, with the proper letters and numbers marked on them; all rivers, creeks, springs and smaller streams of water, with their width and the course they run in crossing the line, and whether navigable, rapid, or otherwise; also the face of the country, whether level, hilly or mountainous; the kinds of timber and undergrowth with which the land may be covered, and the quality of the soil; all lakes, ponds, swamps, peat or turf grounds, coal beds, stone quarries; uncommon, natural, or artificial productions, such as remains of ancient fortifications, mounds, precipices, caves, etc.; the true situation of all mines, salt licks, salt springs, and mill-sites which may come to their knowledge. From the returns of the surveys thus made a complete knowledge of the country may be obtained, and maps thereof drawn with the greatest accuracy. The field notes of the surveyors, together with the plats and descriptions, made out therefrom, are filed in the office of the surveyor-general of the United States, or of the principal surveyors for the territories of Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri.

The official history of Union township started two years later in the Ordinance of 1787, which in part said:

" . . . . The Governor, for the time being, shall be commander-in-chief of the militia appoint and commission all officers in the same below the rank of general officers; all general officers shall be appointed and commissioned by congress.

"Previous to the organization of the general assembly, the governor shall appoint such magistrates and other civil officers, in each county or township, as he shall find necessary for the preservation of the peace and good order in the same. After the general assembly shall be organized, the powers and duties of magistrates and other civil officers shall be regulated and defined by the said assembly; but all magistrates and other civil officers, not herein otherwise directed, shall, during the continuance of this temporary government, be appointed by the governor.

"For the prevention of crimes and injuries, the laws to be adopted or made shall have force in all parts of the district, and for the execution of process, criminal and civil, the governor shall make proper provisions thereof; and he shall proceed, from time to time, as circumstances may require, to lay out the parts of the district in which the Indian titles shall have been extinguished into counties and townships, subject, however, to such alterations as may hereafter be made by the legislature."


The first cheese factory of Union township was established by John Harris and Charles Arnold in 1872, and named "Cheese Factory No. 1." The output per days was from twelve to twenty cheeses. The next one was the "Union Cheese Factory," which was built in the spring of 1879 by the farmers of the neighborhood. The stock was divided into forty shares and held by about twenty farmers. The cost of structure was $1500. Charles Arnold of Wheeler was the first cheese maker. The capacity was 12,000 pounds of milk per day. The average daily consumption was about 6,500 pounds of milk and 600 pounds of cheese; however, the average consumption of milk in Cheese Factory No. 1 was nearly as much.

The Pure Milk Station of Deep River takes the place of these cheese factories of Union township. The Pure Milk station was built in the fall of 1925 by the Midwest Dairyman's Company, but there have been several improvements made in the equipment since then. There have been no decreases in the shipment of milk; rather it has increased gradually from 10,000 pounds daily in 1925 to 36,000 daily in 1936. It is owned by the International Dairy Company and all members that belong are Pure Milk members.

The first and only carding machine in the township was built by Boyd Blachly. It was built in 1845. The average was about 150 pounds of wool per day. He also fulled and dressed the cloth.

At the present time, we have Roper and Brown's Feed Mill, which was used first in 1875 as a warehouse for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and later was used as a storehouse for the railroad. It was then located where our present depot stands. In 1895 it was moved between the Nickle Plate and Pennsylvania railroads, and remained there until it was first used as a grain elevator, operated by horse power, until 1926, when it was purchased by Roper and Brown. It was then built into the present elevator with feed stores and grinding service. It has been operated by electricity since 1926.

In the spring of 1837, the Blachly Brothers erected the first sawmill in the county, on the branch of Salt Creek, With their sash mill and flutter wheel they sawed about 1000 feet of lumber daily. The next saw mill was framed by Jacob Axe and owned by Benjamin Long. He sawed about 2000 feet of lumber per day. In 1870 a partable steam sawmill was located at the headwaters of Little Salt Creek. It was operated about two years with an average of 2,000 feet per day.

In 1890 Andrew Harris started a mill in Wheeler, but after two years he moved to Michigan.

Don Richmond's sawmill now takes the place of the sawmills mentioned above. When he began in business he moved his mill around to places where he sawed, but now he is permanently established. He saws on the average 100,000 feet a day; however, in 1903 he sawed 100,000,000.

The first grist mill in the township was established by the Blachly Brothers, in the same building with their sawmill. It was built in 1846. They ground -- averaging about 8 bushels per hour.

The Cascade Grist Mills were built by David Hardesty, on Taylor Creek, in 1861. The structure is 18x40 feet and two stories high.

The Union Grist Mill was established by David Long and George Pierce. It was located on Salt Creek.

The Monarch Book Company was established in 1900 on the Perrine farm. Half of the stock is owned by Mr. Perrine, while the other half was owned by the Monarch Company of Chicago. Sixty people were employed, and from 50,000 to 75,000 books were made each year. A few years later it went into bankruptcy, and fell into the hands of the Dwight Paper Company of Chicago. This factory had the largest press roll in Indiana at this time. In 1907 when it was still in the hands of the Dwight Paper Company it burned down.

James Snow had the first store in the township. James Blachly and his son, Edgar, had the second store at Blachly's Corners. It was established there some five or six years before the Fort Wayne road was run through. Among the first merchants were Daniel and Samuel Sigler, and A. E. Woodhull of Wheeler.

At the present time there are three stores and an ice cream parlor.

Wilbur's Grocery store was stated in 1919; however, in 1911 the building was built and used as a post office and telephone office. Later it was used as a printing office and store combined. It has been run by the Wilbur family since 1919. John Reimers owns the building at the present time.

Barney's Grocery store was established in 1900 as a barber shop and pool room. In 1927 it was made into a store, and in 1933 when the new road was put through wheeler, an addition was made to it.

Hagenow's Grocery store was established in 1933 by Mac Hollister; however, his entire business is now supervised by Mr. Hagenow. It is a grocery store, lunch room, and filling station combined.

Our present ice cream parlor was established thirty years ago; however, it began thirty-seven years ago as a meat market and grocery store combined. Seven years later it became an ice cream parlor, but has been improved continually until the present time.

In 1922, the Standard Oil Company erected three Standard oil tanks in Wheeler, under the supervision of Henry Theisau. All three tanks together hold 100,000 gallons of oil. We now have a Sinclair, Standard, and Texaco filling stations in Wheeler, and one garage.

The telephone office now located in Wheeler first began in the building where Wilbur's store is now situated. When it started, on July 26, 1913, it had thirteen subscribers. During the years since then the list of subscribers reached a high point of two hundred during "good times" and now stands at approximately one hundred thirty.

Places of Historical Interest

Thomas Snow settled in the Hoosier Nest in Union township about 1835. The nest was on the Old Sac Trail, and was quite a town then, as Mr. Snow had built there one of the first frame houses in the county.

In 1837, Oliver Shephard, of Connecticut, purchased a store there. Being a "Down-Easter," he thought it would be appropriate to put up the sign "Hoosier's Nest." This could not fail to attract the wayfarer. Soon it was known five hundred miles in any direction. Thus the Hoosier Nest received its name.

At present the Hoosier Nest is owned and occupied by Edward Mankey.

The following poem by John Finley gives a good description of the Hoosier Nest:

The Hoosier Nest

I'm told in riding somewhere west
A stranger found a Hoosier's Nest;
In other words a Buckeye cabin
Just big enough to hold Queen Mab in.
Its situation low, but airy,
Was on the borders of a prairie;
And fearing he might be benighted,
He hailed the house, and then alighted.
The Hoosier met him at the door;
Their situations soon were o'er.
He took the stranger's horse aside,
And to a sturdy sapling tied;
The having stripped the saddle off,
He fed him in a sugar trough.

The stranger stooped to enter in
The entrance closing with a pin;
And manifested a strong desire
To sit down by the log-heap fire,
Where half a dozen Hoosieroons
With mush and milk, tin cups and spoons,
White hands, bare feet, and dirty faces,
Seemed much inclined to keep their places,
But Madam, anxious to display
Her rough but undisputed sway,
Her offspring to the ladder led
And cuffed the youngsters up to bed.

Invited shortly to partake
Of venison, milk and Johnny cake,
The stranger made a hearty meal
And glances 'round the room would steal,
One side was lined with divers garments,
The other spread with skins of varmints;
Dried pumpkins overhead were strung,
While venison hams in plenty hung.
Two rifles were placed above the door
Three dogs pay stretched upon the floor --
In short the domicile was rife
With specimens of Hoosier life.
The host, who centered his affection
On game, and range, and quarter sections,
Discoursed his weary guest for hours
Till Somnus' all-composing powers
Of sublunary cares bereft 'em.
And then I came away and left 'em.

Salt Creek

This is one of the most important streams in Union township. It got its name Salt Creek (Wum-tah-gi-uck, which is the Indian name for deer lick) from the numerous salt springs along its course.

Union Cheese Factory

The "Union Cheese Factory" was built in 1879 by the farmers of the surrounding neighborhood. Cheese Factory No. 1 was located east of Wheeler. The stock was divided into forth shares, and hold by about twenty farmers. Charles Arnold, Wheeler, was the first cheese maker, and was succeeded by J. Wagoner of Canada.


The first store was owned and operated by James Snow. The second store was at Blachly's Corners and was owned and operated by James Blachly and his son, Edgar.


The first saw mill was erected by Aaron and Joseph Blachly. It was erected on a branch of Salt Creek.

Amos Wilson started a mill one hundred rods north of Boiling Springs, five miles west of Valparaiso. The mill was a two-story building, where they carded wool, sawed wood, made cider, sorghum molasses. The mill was founded in 1837. Some of the ties for the Grand Trunk Western Railroad were made at this mill. The mill is now gone but not forgotten.

In 1861 The Cascade Mill was built by David Hardesty. It was mainly a flour mill. It was sold in 1882 to Levi Huffman. The mill is still in operation and is better known as the Huffman Mill. They still use an old stone burr that was installed by David Hardesty. It is located eight and one-half miles west of Valparaiso, one-half mile south of the Lincoln Highway.

A flour mill was installed at Cherry Glenn in the early eighties.

Sorghum mill at Sorghum Corners was built by Josay Gunder. Sorghum molasses and cider was made there.


The James cemetery was built in 1838. Mr. Walton gave the land for the cemetery. Donald Lane was the first man buried there. Three trees have now grown over the grave.

The Blachly cemetery is over one hundred years old. It was first a private cemetery of the Blachlys, but was later opened to the public.

The Bear's Nest

The was a log house, owned by John Currier, used for an inn.

Twenty Mile Prairie

This is on the boundary of Union and Portage townships. It was once an inland lake with occasional islands.

Sac Trail

The trail came from Michigan City and followed the highest ground available. It ran south of the present village of Wheeler, past the James Cemetery, and past the Hoosier Nest. Here it joined the Lincoln Highway, a little east of Deep River.

Land Valuation in Township

The value of land in Union township showed a steady increase during the years 1898, 1903-1907, 1911-1915, 1915-1919, and 1923-1932 respectively. Considering the valuation of ten farms, there was, on average, a steady increase.

Distribution of Our Tax Dollar

Where does our money go that we pay in taxes? Have you ever heard that question? From 1875 to 1931 there have been twenty-nine places among which to divide the tax dollar, with a total of six poll taxes.

In 1875 there were only seven places among which to divide the tax dollar and four polls. As time went on, and needs arose, the tax dollar was divided to meet those needs. In 1928, and in that year only, the tax dollar had to yield money for checking the corn borer.

In 1913 the tax rate was the highest, and in 1876 the lowest. In 1913 it was $2.80, and in 1876 it was ninety-nine cents.

Valuation of Public Utilities

The valuation of public utilities made an increase in valuation up to and including 1930; then there has been a rapid decrease since that time.

Going from a valuation of $2,224,140 in 1926 to one of $1,371,640 in 1935, there was a loss of $852,500 in taxable property in Union township.

Figured in dollars and cents this means a loss of $20,530.50 in tax dollars that has to be made up by local tax amount or rates.

Trends in Population

The population of Union township since 1860 shows the following: 1860 - 867; 1870 - 1,057; 1880 - 1,054; 1890 - 985; 1900 - 938; 1910 - 1,009; 1920 - 973; 1930- 909.

Union township had its largest population in 1910 - 1,960, with the years 1870 and 1880 close behind.

The Effect of the Civil War

When, at the beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln called for soldiers to fight for the Union, the men of Union township responded nobly. This same spirit was evident throughout the war. The following is the roll call of Union township as taken from The Enrollment of State Soldiers, Widows and Orphans of 1886:

Elijah Adkins, private; Charles Arnold, second lieutenant; Cyrus A. Bay, private; Joseph Barnes, private; Joseph Barnes, private; William Beltyhoover, private; William Clement, private; James Cutter, private; Dallas Cross, corporal; William Elliot, private, Francis Field, private; Ezra Ferguson, private; Thomas Frame, private; Solon French, private; John Goodyer, private; Daniel Gott, private; Thomas Haggerty, private; Andrew Harris, private; Gilbert Harris, private; Steven Hodsden, adjuntant captain; Laurl Husline, private; William A. Jones, private; James Loder, private; Benjamin Loux, private; Silas Mason, drummer; James McCann, private; Joseph Neff, private; Zalmany Peck, musician; Ruthvew Peck, private; David Peck, private; John Ritz, private; James Shinabarger, corporal, Samuel Stilwell, private; John Tatlock, private; Joseph W. Zea, private.

One of the soldiers, DeWitt Hodsden of Union township, wrote the following poem for the entertainment of the cam, in 1862:

If in looking o'er this poem,
You should wonder why 'twas written;
Why this tale of blood and battle
Should be published to the nations
I would answer -- read these pages;
Read how in the latter ages,
When the meek and lowly Savior
Had taught peace to all the nations;
Taught them peace and love and goodness.
Taught them to forget their hatreds.
Had them live in peace together --
How forgetting his wise counsels.
Disregarding all his teachings
And despising his commandments.
Wicked and ambitious people
Did aspire to fill high places
Through the power of mighty armies,
But the dint of war and bloodshed.
'Tis no legend of the Ancients;
'Tis no story of Dark Ages,
No tradition of the Indians
That I tell you, that I sing you;
But of times and men enlightened,
When the glorious blessed gospel,
And the arts of peace and science
Had developed all their goodness.
And had taught the people better
Than to dig up the buried hatchet
And besmear themselves with wet paint;
How with all these things before them
To mark out the path to greatness
The true greatness of a nation --
As upon the rock seacoast
Stands the constant warning beacon.
Silent pointing to the sailor
Where the shoals and bars are dangerous,
That he all their strands avoiding
May glide safely through the channel,
And in due time reach the harbor.
They forgot their father's counsels,
They forgot the dear earned freedom.
That their fathers staked their lives for
And through many years of conflict
Only gained by bloody battle,
And with disregard the birthright
Which their valorous sires' transmitted.
Flung away for empty baubles;
Vain and empty as the blubbers
That rise on the wash-maid's soap suds;
Even as the wicked Esau
For a tempting mess of pottage
Traded off his father's blessings --
And conspiring to be rulers,
With their subtle cunning speeches
Disaffected all the people,
Who inhabit the warm regions
Of the bright and sunny southland.
Made them think that they were injured
By outrageous, bold aggressions
From the men of northern regions,
Made them think that the afflictions
Called aloud for speedy vengeance.
Then they gathered all the young men
From the hills and vales and woodlands
From the village and cities,
From the swamps and from the pine groves.
Brought them all in mass together,
Some by coaxing, some by forcing,
Volunteering and conscription;
Thus they raised a mighty army
And arranged it all in legions
And in squadrons and battalions.
Then with shouts of bold derision
They defiance did the northmen,
Saying, O ye rabbit-hearted,
Ye are menials, ye are dastards,
You are but a row of cowards.
No more fit to be our equals
Than the curly pated darkies
That we work on our plantations.
Slow to anger were the northmen,
But this taunting got their dutch up
And they shouted back defiant,
Come try on our greased mechanics,
Take a set-to with our mud-sills
And if those white lily fingers
Of the gentry of your people
Don't find more than they can handle,
We'll give up that we are cowards.
Only fit to be companions
Of your curly pated niggers,
But the southerns only answered,
There can never be effected
Any reconciliation;
Part we must, for 'tis degrading
Longer to maintain connection
With such low born working people;
Nothing but a separation
Can give peach and satisfaction;
And we are prepared with armies,
Cannon, muskets, balls and powder,
Mighty arsenals, transportation;
And that helps to carry war on
We have long since been providing;
So it's with no idle boasting
We declare a separation
Then began the war in earnest;
Then was heard the tramps of war horse,
Then was heard the muskets' rattle,
Then was heard the roar of cannon
Then was heard the shout of battle.
On the field of old Manassass,
'Mong the hills of West Virginia,
At the sacred church of Shiloh,
On the low lands near to Richmond,
Where the "Seven Pines" are growing,
In the cedars of Stone River,
On the Pennsylvania borders
And a hundred other places,
Was the ground bedewed and sprinkled
With the crimson of the mangled;
Was the sacred cause of freedom
Made more sacred, made more holy
By the dead and wounded victims
Sacrifice upon the altar.
But of all the mighty battles,
Which make up the numerous stations
On the track of this rebellion.
Where the war-train thundering onward
Stops to blow its extra steam off;
None more savage, none more bloody
Than the battle field of Crawfish.
In the early days of Autumn,
In the sunny clime of Georgia.
When the drouth had dried the streamlets
And the earth with dust was covered,
Could be seen two mighty armies
Moving forward, falling backward.
Now extending, now conversing,
Like the folding of the Serpent
As he coils before his striking,
Each to get undue advantage
Of his sturdy, wily foeman,
'Twas among the hills of Georgia
Ran a quiet little river
By the name of Chickamauga.
With its limpid waters coursing
Through a rich and lovely valley.
In this vale close by the wayside
Gurgled forth from out the rock's ledge
A large spring of cold, clear water,
Where the weary, thirsty soldier
Stopped to slack his thirst and rest him;
This was called the Spring of Crawfish.
In this valley, by this river
Lay the left wing of the army
Which was battling for the Union;
And far southward and to westward
Passing through the mountain gorges
Was the right wing and the center
Wending on their toilsome journey
To the rear of Chattanooga,
When by rapid concentration
They had hoped to bag the rebels
Ere they packed their traps and vamoosed.
But their nimble-legged commander
Peeping down from Lookout Mountain
Saw the trap thus laid to catch him,
And with crafty, cunning foresight
Cut and run far down in Georgia
Quicker than the wiley Rosey
Could close in his scattered army
To the town of Chattanooga;
There will rest my worn-out soldiers,
Bring us stores of provisions
With a pile of ammunition.
And in short -- I here will make a
Base for future operations.
But no sooner had he spoken
Than the clouds of dust seen rising
In the value beyond the mountains
Told him that a vastly army
Soon would merge from all the passes
And crush out his left and center
Ere he got his men together.
Then dispatches went more swiftly
For the right to move to leftward,
And on double quick the army
Was thrown into a position
Where they best could make resistance
To such overwhelming number.
Oft was heard the sentry's musket,
Oft was heard the tramp of horses
And such other indications
As the practiced ear of soldiers
Hears foretell the coming battle.
'Twas the eighteenth of September
As the sun was fast declining
To the shady lands of evening
That the sound of coming wagons
Broke the stillness in the distance,
And approaching nearer, nearer,
Told us by its dismal rattle
'Twas no bread train long expected
Heralding its welcome coming,
By its rumbling on the turnpike
But the harsher notes of conflict.
Then the sunlight dimly faded
And the twilight changed to darkness;
Yet the army till was active
And in taking up position
Broke the stillness of the night watch
Till the golden light of morning
Gorgeous crowned the east horizon.
Then the stillness that was painful
Reigned throughout that lovely valley
As though nary bloody foeman
Desecrated its bright landscape.
But at last a single musket
Broke the awful deathly stillness --
Then another, then another,
Thicker, faster, then a volley,
Quickly following each other,
Mingled with the roar of cannon --
Till distinctly heard no longer
All was mingled in one dreadful
Long continued roll of thunder;
And the leaden storm of bullets
Hissed and whistled through the vapor
As the fury driven tempest
Rends and tears the mighty forests.
Then were seen the charging columns
Then was heard their yells and shouting

Then a moment all was stillness --
Painful, dreadful, awful stillness,
For that moment told the contest,
Who was vanished, who was victor

Others' part had commence in the front. This plan of attack was agreed upon some five or six days before it was attempted to be carried into execution.

And during that time a private from the twenty-eighth Ohio, but who was a native-born Virginian and who had served out his time in the penitentiary and had seen all the wickedness of this world, asked permission of General Millroy to get some rat-tail files and spike the rebels' cannon -- some eighteen or twenty placed, which request was granted; he started off on that hazardous enterprise; but forgetting his duty as a soldier and citizen he went to the secession general and told him all that he knew about the intended attack. The general got men from Monterey and set them all to felling trees in all the approaches. Then again the rage of battle.

Louder, longer, and more fiercely,
Till beneath the smoke of war clouds
Thickly on the ground lay scattered
bleeding, mangled, helpless victims
Who by ghastly wound or life blood
Well had proved their manly valor.

Mrs. Josephine Hodsden, sister of S. P. Hodsden, received the following letter from her brother remitting interesting experiences while in Camp in December, 1861:

Cheat Mountain, Dec. 14, 1861

Miss Josephine Hodsden
Dear Sister:
I have just returned from perhaps as hard fought battle as Virginia has ever seen, and even the Battle of Waterloo for the numbers engaged was not far ahead of it. However, the Ninth did not have the hardest of the fighting to do, and if our Colonel Moody (same who had that duel with Heffron) had been another Millroy we would have been victorious. As it was, we got badly whipped. The attacking party consisted of the Thirteenth, Second and parts of the Twenty-fifth and Thirty-second Ohio. These were to fight the enemy in front, and the Ninth and Third companies of the Second Virginia were to go around to their rear and pitch into them there so soon as the leading to the camp. Day before yesterday, about noon, we set out for the rebel encampment, but just as we were about to start a cavalryman came in with the news that a large party of the enemy had lain in the laurels and fired on some of our boys belonging to Companies Six and One and killed two or three, and some five or six more were wounded. We, that is our company, went immediately on to where they had been, but they had gone and had hastened to their old stand again. We all went on to Green Brun and encamped there until nearly midnight, when we started up and went through a foot path over the mountains. We came to this fort by 8 o'clock in the morning.

Before coming up to the fort we shot two of their pickets, which raised an alarm in their camp, and when we came to the road with fallen trees thick on each side of it, we marched the whole of our division right up to their rifle trenches and doubtless would have taken them in a few minutes when the bullets came whizzing around us from all sides from the enemy concealed in the fallen timber. The captain of the first company (A) was shot just about then and his company came to a halt, and consequently all the companies likewise halted. There being no staff or field officer present to command us what to do the whole of the man laid down. One of the boys went to hunt up the colonel, but came back with the orders to pitch in and do our best, but left the colonel where he found him -- some forty rods back of the rear of the batallion, crouching down behind a pile of logs. Now was our chance and our only chance to take the trenches; but no one being there to order us what to do, some lay where they were, other flanked out and skirmished with those concealed in the timber. There we stayed shooting and doing whatever we pleased.

Nobody gave any commands but the major came up after we had been fighting one and one-half or two hours and gave the order "to give them hell." Very few flinched, and the captains of companies were the absolute commanders during the battle as far as their own companied extended. DeWitt was in command of Company B and all the boys who saw them said that they fought like tigers. They probably went the nearest to the trenches of any company and stayed a full hour after all the other companies had been withdrawn from the field. They had only two killed and a few wounded. Our company had one killed, Sergeant Mackey, and two wounded, one of them, Sherwood, probably mortally. When he found that he was badly shot he told one of the boys that he had done his duty and willing to die. I saw four men shot within eighteen feet of me. I saw five or six of the rebels fall.

They had a piece of cannon which they fired on us but before they had loaded the second time six of them were shot down. They tried it again and five were shot. Then they left the piece alone till after we retreated. They killed fourteen of the Ninth and wounded perhaps twice as many. We killed and wounded as many as eighty of theirs. The trenches were full of men fifteen or twenty rods from me during the engagement, which lasted six or seven hours. But it was not here that the fighting was done. General Millroy's division opened the battle before we came up and so had two or three to one against them. The Twenty-fifth and Thirteenth charged bayonets on them, and in the charge about one-third of the Ohio boys were killed and wounded. They then left the field for good.

Millory then rallied the Thirteenth and they charged again upon the rebels and routed them from their entrenchments, killing over 20. This regiment made three distinct bayonet charges, probably laying out in all 300 of the enemy. To sum it up, they had 350 or 400 killed and wounded, and forty-two prisoners, while our loss was about the same. After Millroy's division left the field we had the whole of the forces against us, and part of the time against Company N, and fragments of other companies making one company more. It was the bet company on the ground. DeWitt escaped unhurt and so did I.

The enemy burned the whole of their equipage the same night and started for Petersburg, Va. So we are left without an enemy within sixty miles of us. This was the hottest battle I was even in, and I saw perhaps fifteen men fall. If our colonel had done his duty we would have won the day, to a certainty. I helped carry 6 men from the field, during the battle. After all was said and done, we came back to encamp. Though I stood my ground as well and as long as any, I could not help thinking that college life was far pleasanter. The forces engaged on our side were 2,300, or there abouts, the rebels had some 3,500. They fought the best they have done in Virginia and the whole of our boys except the Twenty-fifth did as well as soldiers can do. We were out five nights without sleep and most of the time marching, and two days marching and fighting. These few days past have been beautiful, the weather is fine and we enjoy ourselves finely, hoping the same good luck to attend you. I will try to write to you every week. If you desire it and hope you will do the same by me.

Having nothing further to offer, I hasten to sign.


The Pennsylvania Railroad

This railroad was the first to cross Union township. It was chartered in 1846, completed in 1854, and trains ran through to Chicago in 1858. The road was planned to go through Valpo and on through Union township, but later officials of the road were going to change the route and run it through via LaPorte. However, under the leadership of T. E. Campbell, a group of men from Valparaiso had the company again change its plans and run the tracks through Valparaiso. This was very vital to the property owners of Union township, because to go through Valparaiso means to go through Union township.

The first track was a single track. The double track went through Union township in 1907. On June 3, 1907, J. B. Tower, named for John Barnes, track foreman at Wheeler for forty years was put into operation, and the double track was officially in operation. Several years later a double track was laid from Wheeler on through until it tied up with the double track from the east. J. B. Tower was then done away with, but it is remembered to this day as a landmark among railroad men.

The Pennsylvania shipped milk daily from Union township to Chicago. A special milk train was run for this. In Union township there were milk stands at Louck's Crossing, Salt Creek, and one in Wheeler. This milk train was discontinued when trucks began hauling milk in the late twenties. This milk train also carried a passenger coach, and many passengers from Wheeler and vicinity used it as a method of conveyance to and from Chicago.

The first depot at Wheeler was in the back of an old store that stood close to the railroad. Later the company built a small building between the Pennsy and Nickel Plate. Shortly after the World War, the Nickel Plate and Pennsy merged their depots with one man caring for both. On August 15, 1931, the depot was discontinued. No agent was there at all; only a waiting room was left. The down fall of the railroads was on its way. Small stations which used to be prosperous were losing money and had to be discontinued. Wheeler at one time was a very busy center for both freight and passenger trade.

Several people have been killed at the Wheeler crossing, and movement for signals of some kind have been made but to no avail. Never have there been crossing signals or watchmen in Wheeler.

The Pennsylvania Railroad is complete from Chicago to New York. Several small roads are owned by the Pennsylvania. The main track, however, is the one which runs through Union township.

The Grand Trunk Railroad

The last of the three railroads to get an option or right-of-way through Union township was the Grand Trunk Western Railroad. This road was built in 1880. Because it was the last of the three, it had to take what was left for a road-bed. Because of this fact the Grand Trunk makes many curves and incidentally many of these curves cause dangerous crossings. The one at Sedley and Springman's Crossing are the most dangerous in our township.

Before the tracks went through Union township, the trains came as far as Valparaiso and then went into Chicago on the Pennsylvania Railroad. At this time the Grand Trunk had the name of the Peninsula Railroad. Then in 1880 the road went on through to Chicago by its own present route, the name then being changed to the Chicago and Grand Trunk Railroad. A few years after the track had been put through Union township, officials of the railroad informed farmers of Union township that if they could get six cans of milk daily at each of the following places -- Small's Crossing, Springman's Crossing, Sedley, and Summer's Crossing -- they would stop a special train and pick up their milk. Harmon Hardesty and Joseph Ditlow were the leaders of the milk shippers. This milk train was taken off the schedule shortly after the World war because about that time trucks began hauling milk.

In 1898, the post office of Sedley was moved from Vine Clement's store to the depot of the Grand Trunk in Sedley. Lew Miller was the first postmaster, and incidentally the only one while the office was in the depot. The office was discontinued in 1910. This was done because of the fact that rural routes out of Valparaiso had been started.

Early in the twentieth century, the Grand Trunk was carrying much through freight. The large freight lines were then called "trunk lines." Of course, the Grand Trunk was carrying most of its freight from east to west, and its name was changed from the Chicago and Grand Trunk Railroad to the Grand Trunk Western, and commonly referred to as the Grand Trunk. This name is still carries.

During the World War, the Grand Trunk put through a double track from near Sedley, into Lake County. Upon doing this, the company had to put on more men at Sedley to take care of the switching and the other work that comes from the junction of the double track.

On September 15, 1933, an automatic signal and switch was installed at Sedley, and the agency was discontinued. Trains now come and go without the aid of agents.

The VIDETTE-MESSENGER carried this account of discontinuing the agency:

"The Grand Trunk Railroad agency at Sedley, seven miles west of Valparaiso, was discontinued Friday. L. W. Miller, who has been agent for the company at Sedley, for thirty-nine years, and in the employ of the company for forty-two years, was retired on pension. Howard Davis, second trick operator, who has been stationed at Sedley for twenty-three years, was transferred to the station at Griffith. Leroy Beckwith, third trick operator at Sedley for the last twelve years, will -- after a short vacation -- go to LaPeer, Michigan, where he will take a position.

The Grand Trunk Western Railway now runs from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Chicago, Illinois. Although there are no important business stops in Union township in order to reach the terminals. One important point in Union township is the automatic signals where trains must wait and take orders before changing from single to double track and vice versa.

The New York, Chicago and St. Louis

This road was the last to be completed through Union Township. It was completed and ready for traffic in 1882. Men and teams from Wheeler and vicinity were employed to do the grading. The grading was completed one year and the track laid the next. There was no opposition or change of plans and the road went through with little difficulty.

The road was built under the direction and ownership of Carl Brice. This road was always known for its extensive trade in freight. The Vanroad was a rival to them. According to the story, Vanderbilt asked to buy the road and wanted Brice to set the price. The price, unknown, was evidently high, because Vanderbilt is known to have said, "Why, Brice, I wouldn't pay that amount if your road was nickle plated." Brice held out for his price and the road has been known to this day as the Nickle Plate. Vanderbilt gave in and finally bought the road.

The road through Union township is a single track. Most of the road, however is double track. No place in Union township is there a double.

The first depot in Wheeler stood at the west end of town. The depot was built at the same time the track went through. The depot stood at this same place for many years. Shortly after the world war the depot was merged with the Pennsylvania depot. This was done to cut down the expense; the Pennsylvania paid the agent sixty per cent, and the Nickle Plate paid forty per cent. Other expenses were paid as each road used things. The depot of the Nickle Plate was discontinued at the same time as the Pennsylvania deport, on August 1, 1931. The Nickle Plate still has a freight house for receiving freight, but no trade is sent out. Most of the local freight of Union Township is carried by the Nickle Plate because they still have the freight depot. The Pennsylvania, however, carries nearly as much as does the Nickle Plate.

The Nickle Plate Road runs complete from New York to St. Louis. Some of the important cities it runs through on its way to terminals are Buffalo, Cleveland and Chicago. Very little passenger trade is carried on by the Nickle Plate Road, but its freight trade is right at the top of the list. It has been struck bare by the depression and by the trucking business. It has survived the storm as we might say, but it has often talked merger and receivership.

Development of Highways

The development of highways in Union Township begins with the Indian Trails described in the chapter on Early History.

Following is a brief location of three of the first important roads in Union township:

Joliet Road begins at a point on the line between Ranges 6 and 7 in Porter county, 111 links south of the East Quarter of Section No. 21, in Township No. 35 north of Range 1 west, leaving Union Township at Mill Race.

Burge Road, built in 1852, begins at Twenty Mile Grove and goes to Wood Mill. Southwest of East half of the Southeast Quarter of Section 10, Township 35. It intersects the old road near the house of James Alexander.

The Jones Gravel Road -- a special session of the Board of County Commissioners of Porter County was to be held May 5, 1897, to consider a petition for a gravel road in Union township.

In the petition it was asked that he road begin at a point of the highway eighty rods west from the Northeast corner of Section 2, Township 35, North of Range 7 West, and running thence south along said highway across the Pittsburgh-Fort Wayne-Chicago Railway, and the New York-Chicago-St. Louis Railroad, thence south along said highway to near the center of the Southwest quarter of Section 2, thence in a south-westward direction to the center line, running north and south of section 2, thence south on the highway to the center of section 14, all in township 35, north of Range 7 West.

Commencing again at the intersection of the highway running along the north line of the railroad grounds of the Pittsburgh-Fort Wayne-Chicago Railway Company, at a point when said road intersects the north and south road, eighty rods from the east line of Section 2 aforesaid, and running thence along said highway in a southeasterly direction to a point on the said highway eighty rods east from the west line of section 7 in Township 35 North of Range 6 West.

Commencing again at a point on the last named highway at the east limits of the town of Wheeler and running thence in a northeasterly direction along the highway to the center line running east and west in Section 1 in Township 35, North of Range 7 West and running thence due east to the center of said Section and thence due north along the center line of said Section to the North line of said Section and to the Township line between the Township of Portage and the Township of Union. The estimated length was fifty-eight and a half miles. The petition was granted, and the road made.

Union Township has one national road and one state road.

National Road 30 was built in 1923 and was formerly the Joliet Road described above. This road was a main road to Chicago and since 1923 the traffic has been heavy upon it.

In 1936 at the western end of the highway, the Highway Department straightened the road so that it now leaves the township below Deep River. The fill that was made was done in record time. Diesel tractors were used, and seven yards of dirt was moved at one trip. Five men did in a few weeks what would otherwise have taken a hundred horses and three hundred men to accomplish in months.

The whole road from this point will have to be rebuilt because it is becoming very rough.

State Road 130 is a new road built in 1933. Since its opening the traffic to Chicago has become greater and greater so that today the heavy part of the traffic goes this way rather than over National Road 30.

Township Gravel Road Bonds

Malone -- Bonds issued, $20,000; amount paid, $18,000; Outstanding Dec. 31, 1935, $2,000.

Carey -- Bonds issued, $7,405; amount paid, $5,183.50; Outstanding Dec. 31, 1935, $2,221.

Young -- Bounds issued, $6,000; amount paid, $3,600; Outstanding Dec. 31, 1935, $2,400.

Nelson -- Bonds issued, $21,000; amount paid, $9,450; Outstanding Dec. 31, 1935, $11,550.

Knoblock -- Bonds issued, $12,400; amount paid, $4,340; Outstanding Dec. 31, 1935, $8,060.

Total indebtedness of Union township for township gravel roads -- $26,231.50.


The first school in Union township was built at the Hoosier's Nest in Twenty Mile Grove; the date is uncertain. This was a one-room affair made of logs. It was only about 18x20 feet in size. It had a clapboard and puncheon floor. The furniture consisted of a board, resting on pins in the wall, for the teacher's desk, and chairs or seats brought from home. Grammar was taught in concert.

The second school building was located at Blachly's Corners. This is the site of the present Union Center school. Several more schools were soon built, most of which were one-room schools, until there were twelve schools in Union Township -- one in each district. The school terms were three months in the summer: June, July, and August; two fall months: September and October, and a short winter term beginning in December. Teachers were hired by the term instead of by the year. Among the interesting activities of this time were the "Society Spelling Bees." People from all over came to spell each other down. These were held in the evening.

Some time later a new kind of seat was introduced into the schools. It was a sort of bench long enough to seat two or three students. The boys sat on one side and the girls on the other.

In the fall of 1883 Isaiah B. McGinley, trustee at the time, started a historical sketch in which he stated that the number of districts should be increased [should read decreased] to ten, each one having a school. This was the beginning of consolidation of schools in the township. By 1876, there were only eight schools. These were:

Wheeler -- District 1, Jones' Corner.

Union Center -- District 2, Blachly's Corner.

Riley -- District 3, Sorghum Corners.

Peck -- District 4, Chas. Frame Place.

Mt. Pleasant -- District 5, John Hollis Place.

Curtis -- District 6, U. G. Blachley Estate.

Gordon -- District 7, Present Site.

Cherry Glenn -- District 8, N. E. central part of township, near border.

By 1923 consolidation was completed. This was when the new Wheeler school building was erected. At this time, there were only two schools in the township: Wheeler and Union Center.

Union Center was built in 1913. This was a two-room building, constructed while William McGinley was trustee. In 1916 two more rooms were added. Eight years of elementary and two years of secondary education were offered. Up until 1929 the high school students were there for their first two years of high school and then finished at Wheeler. In 1929 the high school students were transferred to Wheeler immediately after eighth grade graduation. This was under Chester Marquart's administration as trustee of Union township.

In 1922 when plans were being made for the building of a new school, there was much discussion as to whether it would be at Union Center or at Wheeler (where it now is). It was decided to be built in Wheeler. Allen Dobbins was at this time trustee. Under the advisory board consisting of Orace Tatlock, George Arnold, and John Hardesty, the new building was started. The Anderson brothers did the building. In the basement there was a gymnasium, manual training room and stage. On the first floor there were three grade rooms, two grades in each, and a cooking and sewing room combined, while on the second floor there were three classrooms, an assembly, office, seventh and eighth grade room, and a library. The building was used thus until 1930, when in the summer it was remodeled. A new gymnasium was added and several improvements were made in other parts of the building. A cafeteria and dining room were made of the old gymnasium. The combination domestic science room was then remodeled and used only for sewing and the kitchen with new electric portable stoves was used for cooking. A new larger stage was built in the east end of the gymnasium. Several kinds of new furniture were purchased, including a baby grand piano, new books, etc. Fred H. Cole was superintendent, and John M. Brown was trustee. The advisory board for the remodeling as made up of H. W. Kent, George Arnold, and Ray Crisman. John Turner, as contractor, had Willard M. Elwood with assistants to do the architectural work.

These were great improvements, but still more was done in 1936 to add to the usefulness and beauty of the Wheeler school. A new gymnasium floor was laid in that year to replace the old warped one, and a balcony was built on the south side. This proved to be a valuable addition, for the school's large crowds at entertainments. Also in 1936 a tract of land north of the school was purchased through Charles Koeppen from Harris of San Francisco, for additional playground.

Valuable courses have been taught at Wheeler and Union Center schools ever since their completion.

Our four-year English course permits any student to have advanced grammar the seventh semester, and public speaking the eighth. Also the commercial courses offered here is quite beneficial, consisting of typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, and general business. Biology happens to be the only science offered sometimes. The only foreign language given in this school, as in most small schools, is Latin. Two years are given, which will prepare the student for college. In the line of music, both orchestra and chorus are offered. These are open to all students. Several extra-curricular activities are offered also. Among them are debating, Girls' Athletic Club, Hi-Y, school paper, and several sports -- the most popular ones being basketball, baseball and ping pong.

Wheeler has both a Boy Patrol and a Girl Patrol system. The boys patrol the buses at railroad and highway stops and crossings. Also they direct school children across the highway running through Wheeler, as well as across the railroads. The girls, rather than indulging in such manual labor, keep the office and library in order, answer telephone, receive visitors, and in general act as any office girls would.

Since there is a need for librarians we have four seniors, a junior, and a teacher taking these positions. The following program illustrates which librarian performs at each period that the library is open:

Monday -- Second period, Helen Chelf; third period, Eloise Hollister.

Tuesday -- Second period, Mildred Koeppen.

Wednesday -- Second period, Ralph Keene.

Thursday -- Second period, Mann Spitler; third period, Eloise Hollister.

Friday -- Second period, Mrs. Keene; fifth period, Ralph Keene.

A new activity was introduced in Wheeler in 1936. This was a different opening exercise for each day. On Monday the opening period is used for study by everyone. On Tuesday, the classes and faculty rotated in giving a short program. This is usually a talent program. Sometimes playlets are given. Wednesday some speaker comes and gives a short talk. Usually Rev. Beatty from the Wheeler Community church has been with us this year. Thursday morning is a joyous one, spent in singing songs. Elaine Landgrebe or Mrs. Keene act as pianist. Friday morning is usually used for pep sessions, of which a wide variety have been planned throughout the year, for the purpose of boosting our teams when they go out into action.


Rivalries and jealousies were the real causes of the war. All the countries of Europe were on the verge of war for these reasons, and were looking for a reason to declare war. When a Serbian killed Archduke Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary accused Serbia of the murder, and the war was on.

The different European countries joined together against another group of European countries, U. S. declaring neutrality.

The submarine warfare used by Germany angered U. S. When Germany sank the Lusitania, peace or war was the question. U. S. thought they had submarine warfare restricted, but Germany sunk the Sussex without notice, which brought a crisis. Germany was forced to yield, so U. S. didn't go to war.

Germany continued to cause trouble and shortly withdrew the Pledge of Submarines. Germany sunk the City of Memphis, and U. S. declared war on Germany, April 6, 1917.

April 6, 1917, meant Union township was called to fight for its country, which its citizens did with the finest response.

During the month of May, Wheeler's principal, R. M. Robertson, gave military drills for the boys of Wheeler school. Besides the schools doing their part, Mrs. A. O. Dobbins was appointed recruiting agent for student nurses for Wheeler.

Union township's quota was $20,000. Under the direction of Dr. A. O. Dobbins, $42,300 was purchased. We did our share in the purchase of War Saving Stamps. We were in the Victory Drive.

Wheeler school did its share by being 100 percent in Thrift Stamp Drive, having over $600 invested. Union township was second to over the top in the Liberty Loan Campaign in the fall of 1918, and the canvass was not yet completed.

The effect of the War was quite serious in the month of December, 1918, at Union Township's schools. They had to be closed because of lack of coal; Wheeler schools closed because of influenza also.

A Wheeler news item of those days tells us that a trainload of soldiers stopped for three-fourths of an hour here. The sammies were allowed to leave the train as they had been on the road for three days. Five squads, each giving its drills and exercises, proved to be a real treat. School was dismissed for one-half hour and everyone who could turned out to see them. The people could do very little for the soldiers, considering what they soldiers were doing for them.

On August 23, 1920, all but three of the thirty-six who responded to service call were home. Those three were expected then to be home for the big celebration they were planning. They were going to have the boys attired in uniforms and give a demonstration drill.

The Forester's Lodge gave the big celebration on Labor Day, 1920. Some of the men were in the Army of Occupation almost a year after the Armistice was signed. Three of the boys didn't get home for the celebration. The other boys decided they had had all the drills they cared for, so did not give a demonstration drill but they were attired in their uniforms.

The Veterans of the World War:

Sam Ostrander, Philo Robinson, Louie Betz, Reed Peck, John Hartman, Walter Eichelberg, Paul McAuliff, Irving Peregrine, Gilbert Jarvis, Jess Hutton, Ira Sole, Adam Yeager, Leslie Moreland, Enrico Papili, Ishmael Buck, Frank Brown, Wm. Gorm, Roy Burton, Robert Murray, Ross Foster, Abe Barnes, Joseph Gordon, Harry Barnes, Thomas Jasinske, Ross Barnes, Riley Johnson, John Conric, Harry Kincade, Clarence Baker, Ross Marquart, Harold Shearer, Maynard Cox, Cecil Ditlow, Wm. Guernsey.

Mr. and Mrs. John Barnes received a letter from their son, Harry, who was at the time in France. They also had two other sons in the army.

The letter was as follows:

Dear Mother;
As this is the first time I have written you since I left the states, you will expect me to tell you much, but that is hard to do as so much of the interesting things which I could write would not pass the censor. It was a few days after we left camp that we sailed. The first three days were rather groggy for me.

There are very interesting things over here. The trains are so different from those in the states. The scenery is very beautiful. The field are divided by dirt banks and poppies grow everywhere.

We are in a camp hospital getting in training. I am assistant wardmaster. If you will send me a box of chocolates as we can't get any candy here, I sure will appreciate it.

I can't speak the French lingo yet, but I will learn in time.

How is everyone? Did you get the letter and post card that were mailed when we landed?

P. V. T. Harry Barnes, M. D. 16th
F. A. American Expeditionary Force, France.


The work for this history was organized by the editors of Green and White Scribles, and carried on under the leadership of Principal A. Pryce Noe, assisted by Mrs. Marjorie Keene, teacher of history. The following persons were co-authors:

Monica Buergler, Dellcena Marquart, Pauline Bundy, George Marquart, Helen Chelf, Ruth Marquart, Lucille Chelf, Bernard Michaels, Robert Crisman, Albert Noak, Marjorie Dunlap, Annette Perry, John Graybill, Arthur Reimers, Robert Hardesty, Maryrose Scott, Eloise Hollister, Mike Scott, Ralph Keene, Betty Smith, Trustee Thomas Keene, Dorland Spencer, Mildred Koeppen, Mann Spitler, Elaine Landgrebe, West Spitler, Dorcas Noe, Malvin Taylor, Norman Mankey, Lillian Wegrzyn; Wheeler seventh and eighth grades, taught by Mr. Glenn Collins.

Charted, typed, and arranged by Alice Studebaker.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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