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 4, Page 16.


Memories of Valparaiso


I came to Valparaiso in 1850 at the age of five from LaPorte where my people had been keeping a boarding house for medical students at Pine lake. It was a long journey from LaPorte in a two-seated spring wagon over corduroy roads built of logs laid side by side across the road. In places the water reached to the hubs and I remember how our driver kept talking to his horses to get them through the water.

My parents rented the Tremont House, located where the Farmer's bank now stands. At first this was a private boarding house for the families of Mr. Hass and Mr. Pierce. Later when many young men were coming in to try their luck in the west, it was opened to the public. I was very proud of the beautiful peacock feather fans my father had made to keep the flies from the table. Most people used a branch with plenty of leaves.

As I remember it, the court yard was much as it is now, except the trees. These were locusts instead of maple. The court house stood in the center of the year, a small building that had been covered with plaster or something of that kind. On each side of the court house stood a small building. These held the county offices.

It was here on the court house lawn that we celebrated the Fourth of July. Long tables were put up in the yard and everyone came with well-filled baskets. There was always a parade with speeches in the afternoon.

Here also, the men had their game dinner in the fall. Game was plentiful and everyone hunted. Captains were chosen and the hunters divided into sides. The losers furnished the dinner. There were some wild turkeys. Geese, ducks, prairie chickens and quail were in abundance. A man could often kill two ducks with one shot.

Main street was about five blocks long and running parallel on each side were two more streets. I do not remember that either these or the few cross streets had names. Main street had board walks but the other streets were without walks. The stores and houses were small frame buildings, the front doors which opened right on the street. There were no front yards.

On the east side of the square where the Windle building no stands was the Gould House, a hotel with about eight rooms for guests. Mr. Gould later moved to the larger Harrison hotel, situated where the Premier theatre now stands. Just south of this was the Cheney home. Mr. Chaney gave the land for the old city cemetery.

On the south where the filling station is, was the shop and home of Mr. Strong, a cabinet maker. There are still some pieces of furniture in Valparaiso which he made but his principal work was the making of caskets.

The stores were located on the west and north sides. On the west was the Frank Hunt dry goods store, the grocery of George Buel, the blacksmith shop of Jackson Buel who was also a wagon maker, and a drug store. A little later Cave Rogers opened the first clock repairing and jewelry store here.

Across from us on Main street where the Bondy building now stands, was Jimmy McLaughlin's saloon. Next to him was the grocery where I bought my stick candy. Then there was a dry goods store which was later sold to Mr. Bloch. These early merchants went to Cincinnati for their goods.

There were no stores to the east of us at that time. The first to locate there were the Drago blacksmith shop and the LePell furniture and cabinet shop.

Where the Bornholt building now stands was the home of Dr. Blachley. I remember that he always went on horseback carrying his medicine in his saddlebags. A little later the Dillingbecks had a store at this location but they soon sold to A. V. Bartholomew. Another early doctor was Dr. Ball who lived where the Presbyterian church stands. He pulled my first tooth with a turnkey.

The school I attended was at the east end of Main street. It was well back from the street on a hill among the scrub oaks, which we children used as swings. It was about south of the present Grant Crumpacker home. The two rooms on the ground floor were occupied by the primary and intermediate departments while the higher grades used the second floor. This school was in charge of Ashley L. Pierce. It burned while I was still in the primary department and after this I attended school in several different places. The Presbyterians then built a school where the Central school now stands and I finished there. I don't remember of any public school in Valparaiso at this time. They were either private or controlled by churches.

In 1850 the Presbyterian was the only church. It was on Franklin street, a little south of the Carson property. The Rev. J. C. Brown, pastor of the church, believed in the children being well grounded in the fundamentals and we all learned the shorter catechism, which contained 107 questions and answers. When the class was ready we went to Mr. Brown's home. We were seated in the dining room and one by one we repeated the answers as he asked the questions. Then the next Sunday we went to the front of the church and each received a bible. I remember how on Sunday mornings Rev. Brown would announce where he expected to call that week and then we children were kept particularly clean as he expected to see us all. He knew every one of us by name. He never called on Monday as that was wash day.

The village was surrounded by hazelbrush and beyond this was heavy timber. Everyone kept a cow and these were turned out to graze in the brush or streets. They all wore bells and usually came up at night but if they didn't we children were sent to find them. Many people had pigs and these were allowed to roam the streets.

Everyone had well kept gardens. We all raised currants, which were used not only for jelly but fresh for sauce. One of our summer outings was going to Lake Michigan for huckleberries. The grown folks occupied the two spring seats and we children rod on the bottom of the wagon. I can still remember the jolting we got. Wild blackberries were also plentiful in the woods.

Mine were not pioneer days, just early days. Homes for the most part were simply furnished. We used stoves and burned wood. We had a few lamps but depended largely on candles that we made at home. Everyone had his own beef in the winter and all this tallow was saved for candles. The wells were open and the water was drawn up in buckets by means of a windlass. Two or three families usually used each well. Of course we all had rain barrels for soft water. Mother used to buy the wool and take it to the carding mill west of town to have it carded. Then she would spin it into yarn and we would knit stockings for the family. We bought cotton yard and made our summer stockings also. However, cloth for the rest of our clothing could be bought at the dry goods store and the garments were made by hand at home. I can't remember of having any toys or playthings. If we wanted a doll we made it. When two or three children got together we always played church. The older young folks rode horseback a good deal.

As I look back I realize I have come a long road and lived a long time in an ever changing Valparaiso.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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