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 24.


Reminiscenses of W. W. Huntington

My Grandfather Benjamin and his family came from Monticello, New York state, to Valparaiso in 1852. They took the boat at Buffalo, destined in time to reach Michigan City, with all their earthly goods. When they reached the above named port all their possessions other than the clothes on their backs had disappeared. Their first stop in Porter county was the Malone Settlement. From there my father, Benjamin Franklin Huntington, returned to New York and married my mother, Lucinda Kyle. My recollections of my father are few. At the outbreak of the civil war, he enlisted at LaPorte under Col. I. C. B. Suman in the Bloody 9th Indiana Infantry and was killed at the Battle of Buffalo Mountains, West Virginia, during the first three months of service. I remember admiring the brass buttons on his uniform when he returned from the enlistment.

My father built a shack in the heart of the woods near Talbot's Corners and set up a shingle machine near a pond there. Blocks of wood, the depth of shingles, sawed from the logs of trees felled there, were soaked in the pond; then the singles were shaved off by the machine. Ed Green of Porter Cross Roads traded eighty acres of land for enough shingles to cover every building on his place. Many of these shingles were black walnut. This Ed Green was quite a character. In front of his place he erected a huge bronze serpent. Like Moses in the wilderness he wished to warn passers by to repent for their sins.

A few years after my father's death my mother married Abel Isham, who had a book store on the site where the Vail Jewelry store now stands. Mr. Vail put his first stock of jewelry in one of Mr. Isham's window. Mr. Isham was a devout Presbyterian. He and Mr. Morgan Crosby saw that the walks and steps of the Presbyterian church just back of the store were shoveled off for Sunday Service in Winter and looked after the weeds in summer. My stepfather was fond of music and told me of an old organ he had enjoyed at Hartford, Conn.

It was due to a business deal that my desire to be a musician was gratified. A man who owned Mr. Isham a large sum of money left town between two day with such of his possessions as he could move. He wrote later to his creditors that he had left a Prince Melodeon in the house where he had lived to which my stepfather was welcome; he could offer nothing more. This melodeon, now in the historical collection at the public library, was brought to our home. Afterward Miss Virginia Hammel, who lived where the Woman's Club House was later erected, offered to give me lessons in exchange for the rent of the melodeon. The family were invited over to hear me play my first hymn, "I want to be an angel and with the angels stand, a crown upon my forehead, a harp within my hand." My parents were sufficiently impressed to continue my music lessons. Successfully I played for the Presbyterian congregation the melodeon, now in the possession of Miss Mabel Benney, the small reed organ still in the church, the big reed organ, and the fine pipe organ now in use. I played at the dedication of the church in 1885. For twelve years I played the pipe organ in the Christian church.

During the pastorate of Rev. S. N. Wilson, we had a splendid choir. Dr. Evans, Mrs. M. E. Bogarte, Mrs. Jennie Thatcher Beach, Mrs. Hartie Herr, Miss Maud Benney, Miss Carrie Letherman, W. F. Wilson and W. W. Hinshaw were among the members. Once a month we gave a Sunday evening concert, which people from all over the countryside attended. We also gave several operettas. I have a picture of myself as skipper in the "Wreck of the Hesperus."

It might be of interest to mention that the Prince Melodeon was traded to a Mrs. Mitchell for a family Bible. This was after we had acquired a square piano. Mrs. Mitchell's daughter, Mrs. Sydney Rigg, gave the melodeon to the historical society when she moved to Chicago.

In 1879, I married Miss Lilian Parks and we built a house just east of the old homestead. Here we lived with the three daughters and two sons born to us. Here in 1929 we celebrated our golden wedding. Since Mrs. Huntington's death I have lived on alone, but still interested in music and every good project in my home town.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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