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 18.


One of Westchester's Real Historic Sites Still In Hands of Furness Family


One of the interesting spots in Westchester township is the Furness homestead. The first home to which Edwin Leigh Furness took his bride has been rehabilitated and is now called the lodge; the later mansion, in which the present owner, Edwin Furness Leigh, was born, stands near. The builder of both homes, Edwin Leigh Furness, was born in Portland, Maine, of sea-faring stock, which may have prompted him to buy large acreage along the shore of Lake Michigan. He established his dwelling three miles from the lake on an eminence overlooking the Michigan Central tracks. This house followed the architecture of the later nineteenth century. It is a three story structure of twelve rooms, a central hall, double parlors, sliding doors, a small sunny sitting room, kitchen, and dining room with eight bedrooms in the two stories above. Tall narrow windows give an imposing air to the building.

The Furness family numbered two sons and four daughters who grew to manhood and womanhood. All show characteristics of their distinguished ancestry. Two great grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary war, one donated a vessel to the government service; the other founded Berwick Academy, Maine; an uncle founded Leigh's Mills. He fought in the War of 1812. It is not surprising, therefore, that Edwin Leigh Furness represented his county in the legislature and was instrumental in securing a station and a postoffice for the little hamlet of Furnessville. A brick school house was built on his land and the teacher boarded in the Furness home. The daughters were all musical as well as intellectual; the sons, Leigh and Dwight, were among the first scientific agriculturalists in Porter County. They experimented in rotation of crops and bee culture, and studied the relationship between political and economic problems.

The Furness home, however, is best remembered as a home with friendly interests ramifying the whole county. Each of the children entertained his or her circle of friends in unostentatious but liberal fashion. For twenty years from the time Edwin Leigh of St. Louis courted the eldest daughter, to the marriage of Mary the youngest to Thomas Young of Guanaguato, Mexico, weddings, birthdays, and historic anniversaries were celebrated with friends gathered from near and far. Edwin Leigh and his wife, Clara Leigh Furness, planned a great celebration for her father on one of his last birthdays, which closed with a display of fireworks in the evening. To this all the countryside was invited. Many Valparaiso citizens drove to Furnessville to pay their respects. But the family were scattered from New York to California, from Florida to the state of Washington. For years the home was closed except at holidays. This year the grandson, Edwin Leigh, has made extensive improvements in the house and became a citizen of Porter county.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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