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.



In 1854 I was born, Aug. 26, in a one-room log cabin just east of the center township line in Washington township, and there I have spent practically all of my life. The cabin had a window to the east and one to the west, and a door to the south. There was neither window nor door on the north or front wall; and much of the space was filled with a big fireplace, where the cooking was done. There was another building near of about the same dimensions, which my grandfather, Adam S. Campbell, used as a shoe shop. It was here or under the trees shading the house that the first Masonic lodge in Porter county was organized. My father, Samuel Campbell, was the only one of his father's family who grew to manhood.

The year after my birth our new home, now occupied by Martin Cain, who married my eldest daughter, was erected. I remember a man named Frazier was digging a well on the place and stopped to light his pipe. The pipe refused to light. This probably saved his life, for he signaled the men above to pull him out and this escaped the deadly damps. This well was boarded up instead of bricked.

Our home was on the Old Sac Trail and bands of Pottawatomie Indians had a village just east of us. I wish to testify to their honesty. When we left home, a chunk of wood placed against the unlocked door signified "no one in." The Indians never took so much as a shoe string. The Indians frequently got a hold of enough firewater to go on a big drunk, but they delegated a half dozen of their number to keep sober and guard their weapons. The next time another group was chosen to guard the camp. The windings of the road to LaPorte are due to the Indians, who followed a trail, "Old Tac Trail," by which they could most easily cross bogs, creeks and quicksand. We dug up on our land many proofs of Indian occupancy, arrowheads, hatchets, and implement used to dress hides, and ovens. All except the arrowheads were of stone, which was heated very hot; then dough was laid upon it to cook.

As soon as I was old enough I began helping with the farm work. We cut the marsh hay with cythes, because horses or oxen and a machine were likely to mire. When it was gathered into bundles, we dragged it out of the marsh with ropes, or carried it in on poles. Oxen were more fitted to stumpy ground than horses. Craig Cornell and Cyrus Axe bought our last yoke of oxen and drove them on a prospecting trip to Montana. We kept a flock of sheep. In the spring we drove the flock to Flint lake for a bath before we sheared them. Many movers gong west drove their sheep past our house. When we saw a cloud of dust on the road to the east, we hurried down to our flock and drove them into the woods, so that they might not follow along with the migrating flock. I remember a suit of clothes made from wool that was manufactured into cloth at Bartholomew and Powell's woolen mill now the Continental Diamond Fibroc building. Our first orchards were from seedlings; later varieties of apples were grated on these seedlings. In 1861 father dressed hogs and hauled them to the Chicago market, where he sold them for two and a half cents a pound. Right after the war many movers' wagons passed our place; some with a muslin placard "Kansas or Bust." Some came back with the sign "Kansas Busted." A few stayed on in their sod houses and later achieved prosperity.

Out on Horse Prairie near Boone Grove still stands the log house, since boarded over, in which my mother was born. At one time there was an Indian village near there. The Indians moved over into Illinois and left one poor old horse on the prairie, whence the name, which was originally "One Horse Prairie." Storms have been many in that section. A story is told of a horse being struck by lightning one night and a man sleeping beside his wife was killed, the wife unhurt. Our chief neighborhood recreation was the spelling school at the Malone school house. George Parshall was one of the teachers. These sometimes threatened unpleasantness, if there was doubt concerning the spelling of a word.

Many of the settlers died young unable to stand the rigors of our winters. As a boy I used to read the inscriptions on the stones in our family burying ground just north of the homestead and feel sorry for my uncle Sanford who died in his teens. They missed, these early dead, many of the joys of life and likewise many sorrows.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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