Lake County, Indiana
The Railroad Period
Outline History from 1851 to 1904.
When the first half of the nineteenth century closed, the frontier or pioneer method of living, of working, of making sure, but slow progress, was coming, in Lake county, to a sudden end. For, eastward, in the distance, and not far away, could be heard the sound of the railroad whistle. The railroads were coming; the swift passenger cars, the long lines of freight cars, with all the changes which these meant to the quiet life of the settlers, were coming to help build up a mighty city on the Lake Michigan shore just outside of the county of Lake. Of necessity, from its geographical situation, every railroad entering Chicago, which in 1850 was just commencing its remarkable growth, must, coming from the east or southeast, cross the northwestern corner of Indiana. And rapidly they came after a beginning had been made. So, when the families in the central part of the county, waking one early morning in the springtime, besides the sounds, to which they were accustomed, of the sand-hill cranes and wild geese in the marshes and of the thousands of the grouse on the prairies near them, heard far up among their northern sand hills, the shrill whistle of the steam engine, they knew that a new agricultural and commercial life was near at hand. The very deer were startled by the sound, unaccustomed as they had been even to the sound of horns and the baying or trailing of dogs, hearing only sometimes a cowbell in the woodlands. Wild life, so abundant as then it was, at length grew wary. The railroads came. The Indians had gone. The deer followed them or were exterminated.
It has always been stated in Lake county history that the first road to enter Lake county was the Michigan Central, and the date assigned has been 1850. And this date is found in a paper prepared by Rev. H. Wason, one of the best statisticians of the county, for the Semi-Centennial of 1884. He says: "For statistical purposes, I append the report of the State Board of Equalization on Railroads for 1884 one column in that report is headed, "Time when roads commenced running," and the time for the Michigan Central is given, 1850. This authority is good. And yet the writer of this Outline, from some information gleaned in the last few years, hesitates now to claim that date, believing himself to have been responsible for it at first, and he thinks the date ought to be 1851, the same year in which the Michigan Southern came into the county.
From the best evidence to be obtained two other dates., as given in that State Board report are here changed, and the following are believed now to be the certain dates of these various roads when trains commenced running in the county:
Michigan Central - 1851
Michigan Southern - 1851
Joliet Cut Off - 1854
Pittsbnrg, Fort Wayne, & Chicago - 1858
'Pan Handle" road - 1865
Baltimore & Ohio - 1874
Chicago & Grand Trunk - 1880
Chicago & Atlantic (Erie) - 1882
New York, Chicago, & St. Louis (Nickel Plate) - 1882
Louisville, New Albany & Chicago (Monon) - 1882
Indiana, Illinois, & Iowa (the Three Fs) - 1883
Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern (Belt Line) - 1888
Chicago & Calumet Terminal - 1888
Wabash - 1892
Griffith & Northern (Freight) - 1899
Chicago, Cincinnati, & Louisville.. - 1903
These sixteen roads, taking the whole railroad period of fifty years, are placed together here, near the beginning of this Outline, for convenience of reference, and that the readers may see at a glance what have so largely helped to make Lake county, in the last few years, first in rapid growth among all the counties of Indiana.
On these roads are now three cities, Hammond, East Chicago, which includes Indiana Harbor, and Whiting; three incorporated towns, Crown Point, Hobart, and Lowell; and seventeen towns and villages, these having a population of one hundred and less up to four hundred and five hundred.
That Lake county stands first among the counties of the State in the number of miles of railroad might naturally be expected, Marion, Allen, LaPorte, and Porter, coming next in number of miles of road-bed. Three of the best roads of the State, which are "great thoroughfares in the nation," the Michigan Central, Michigan Southern, and Pittsburg & Fort Wayne, pass across the county. These were assessed for taxation in 1884, "at twenty thousand dollars for each mile of road-bed."
Having looked over the railroads which have been built in this period of new life and more rapid growth, it will be instructive to look at some of the stages of advancement. The first place for shipment of grain and for obtaining freight from cars was Lake Station, distant from Crown Point fifteen miles. This gave no great impetus to farming or to building. The next stations were Ross and Dyer, and the latter soon became a large shipping point. Ross Station gave facilities for a daily mail at Crown Point, a little stage which carried passengers running up and back daily. This town, the only one in the county, in fact only a village itself for several years, had been slowly improving in the latter part of the pioneer period. The log huts had been gradually disappearing, shade trees and fruit trees were taking the place of the native growth, business houses were increasing in number, and in 1849 the frame court house was erected, "George Earle architect; Jeremy Hixon builder," so the statement on the building said; and from 1850 to 1860 a large amount of business was done for a small inland town. In these years some enterprising and excellent business men were building up the town. Some of these were: J. S. Holton, J. W. Dinwiddie, Joseph P. Smith, William Alton. A. H. Merton, David Turner, James Bissel, E. M. Cramer. J. C. Sauerman, H. C. Griesel, and J. G. Hoffman. There were also the firms of Nichols & Nichols, Luther & Farley, Lewis & Dwyer, then Lewis & Pratt. Also, business men, Fred J. Hoffman, Levi Tarr, and W. G.McGlashon. The railroad stations from which goods were hauled were Lake and Ross and at length Hobart. The roads were dirt roads, sometimes dusty, sometimes very muddy, some of the way deep sand. Brick buildings as well as frame dwellings were erected. In 1858 were built the brick dwelling houses of Z. P. Farley, of J. Wheeler, of J. G. Hoffman, and a three-story business house; in 1859 two brick county offices and the brick school-house, the Sons of Temperance donating to the schoolhouse one thousand dollars: and in 1860 was erected the present Methodist church building. In its steeple was placed a bell, and since that time the families of Crown Point have been able to hear for these last forty years in their peaceful homes "the sound of the church-going bell."
The completion of the Pittsburg & Fort Wayne road enabled Hobart, founded in 1847, to become a prosperous manufacturing town. The mill-dam was completed and a sawmill started in 1846, and soon a grist mill was busy grinding wheat and corn. Town lots were laid out in 1848. But there was little to bring business or inhabitants until the railroad passed through to Chicago. Then busy life commenced. Making brick became a great industry, followed by making what is called "terra cotta lumber and fire-proof products." Hobart has continued year after year to improve, having as citizens some very enterprising and energetic business men, and of terra cotta alone, the State Geologist has said that from Hobart "sixty carloads a month are shipped to all parts of the United States." Hobart has good, brick buildings and is a thriving little city.
Another village or town owing its growth if not its origin to that same railroad is Tolleston, between the two Calumets, twelve miles due north of Crown Point. Its elate as a village is 1857. The Michigan Central road also runs through it, and the Wabash touches its northeastern corner. The inhabitants are for the most part German Lutherans and the men work on the railroad. It has a large Lutheran church and parsonage and school, and the population has reached five hundred.
For several years no new road crossed the county, and from 1860 to 1865 the interest of the inhabitants of the central and southern parts was concentrated on the events that were threatening the destruction of the nation. The inhabitants north of the Little Calumet were then few. Lake county having been strongly Democratic in its earlier years, became, when those troublous times came on, intensely Republican, and sent to the war, as men were needed, company after company of her brave and patriotic sons, until, so far as can be determined, fully one thousand had joined the regiments of Indiana and Illinois to help decide the great question then at issue over all the land. The population of Lake county in 1860 was 9,145. This number, of course, includes men, women and children, also men too infirm or too far advanced in life to perform a soldier's duty, and leaving these all out, it will appear that Lake county sent a large proportion of men into the fierce conflict. Some of them returned, but not nearly all of the one thousand.
Much money was sent back to their homes by the soldiers on the field, and in a new form; what were called "greenbacks" then came into circulation, and many improvements in the county were thus made.
It was not a time for building railroads, and yet. in 1865, a road came up from the southeast, passing directly through Crown Point onward to Chicago. It has had several names but is now generally known as the Pan Handle. For this the business men had been wishing long. They had for about fifteen years felt the great disadvantage of being "inland:" of bringing all their goods and sending off their butter, eggs, and prairie chickens, immense numbers of which they shipped, on wagons that went back and forth to Ross and Lake and Hobart. To them and to all Crown Point the railroad was a cause of new life. The growth began and kept steadily on.
In the spring of 1868 the town was incorporated.
This road gave two other stations, one at Le Roy, which though a small village became a large shipping point, and one called Schererville, a larger village, mostly German families, and a place for some shipments. As the road left the county south of the Calumet it gave no growth to the northern townships.
The year 1870 came with no other new road. But without a road, without much prospect of one, a town of no little importance had been growing up in the south part of the county in these eventful years from 1860 to 1870. Its commencement may be placed as early as 1850. Its founder was Melvin A. Halsted. It is called Lowell. It is located in the best agricultural portion of the county. West of it lies the southern portion of Lake Prairie, and east of it and south of it the rich farming belt skirting the Kankakee marsh lands. As early as 1836 it was selected as a "mill seat on Cedar Creek" by John P. Hoff, of New York City. He purchased the claim from Samuel Halstead. who had selected and claimed it in August, 1835. In November, 1836, the New York man having forfeited his right, it was transferred for two hundred and twelve dollars to James M. Whitney and Mark Burroughs. It came at length into the possession of Melvin A. Halsted, whose name is not written as was the first Halstead. He commenced his long residence there in 1850 in a brick house, built a flouring mill in 1852. laid out town lots in 1853. and secured the erection of a brick church building in 1856, a small brick schoolhouse, used as a church, having been built in 1852. About 1853 Lowell's first store was opened by Jonas Thorn, and about 1857 William Siglers store and soon after Viant's store were opened for business. These two were for some time the two principal stores of Lowell. The growth of Lowell was also advanced in these years before 1860 by a settlement made in 1855 and 1856 by a group of families from New Hampshire, who made their homes near the heart of Lake Prairie. This was known for some years as the New Hampshire Settlement.
The citizens of Lowell were not behind others in the war period, from 1860 to 1865, in showing their loyalty to the flag and in sending men to the conflict. Their deeds as patriotic citizens belong to a later portion of this Outline.
In going on along this railroad period from 1870 to 1880, it will be interesting to notice yet further the enterprise and growth at Lowell. One lesson might here be learned, the benefit for a town to be situated in a growing and rich farming community. In 1869 and 1870 new church buildings were erected, making in Lowell four churches. In 1872 Lowell had the largest and best school building in the county, built of brick, a two-story structure, costing, with the furniture eight thousand dollars. The other largest building at that time in the county was also at Lowell, a brick building of three stories, built for a factory, eighty feet long and fifty feet wide, also costing eight thousand dollars. At that time there were in Lowell one hundred and six families. For some years Lowell was the strongest temperance town in the county. It had a Good Templars Lodge with one hundred and sixty members.
In 1874 there came yet another railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio, but it kept so very close to the shore line of Lake Michigan that it added very little as to any growth in the county. It gave one station called Miller's, among the sand hills of the northeast township now called Hobart, about one mile and a half from the Lake Michigan shore. The Michigan Southern had passed along among those sand ridges in 1851.
The ice business formed for years the principal business at Millers Station, to which was afterwards added shipping sand, both profitable industries, and requiring no large amount of capital on the part of the men who carry them on. A gravel road has been made from Lake Michigan through this village to the town of Hobart, and there is a good church building and good public school building. The inhabitants are mostly Swedish Lutherans. There is one large store.
About 1869, perhaps 1870, a small industry was commenced on the Calumet River and the early Michigan Central Railroad near the Illinois State line. The place was called the State Line Slaughter House. About eighteen men were employed, and three or four carloads of beef packed in ice were shipped each day to Boston. It was understood that George H. Hammond of Detroit was the head of the company who started this line of business. The men worked seven days in the week for-a long time, never stopping for Sunday. As the business increased village life started. In 1872 there was one store, one boarding house. After a few families moved in besides the early settler-families (the Hohman, Sohl, Drecker, Dutcher, Booth, Miller, Goodman, Olendorf and Wolf families, of that corner of the county), a Sunday-school was proposed, organized, and carried on, and then regular Sunday work ceased. Sending beef to Boston soon assumed quite large proportions. The village was becoming a town, and to the town was given the name of Hammond. Could the founders, men from New England, have thought that on those sand hills or ridges and those marshes of 1870 in a few years a city would be flourishing with only an air line between it and the southeast corner of the city of Chicago, they would probably have laid foundations with more care. It seemed far enough away from any Christian civilization in 1870. For a footman on a cloudy day to have undertaken to cross, then, from the slaughter house to the little station called Whiting on the Michigan Southern road, would have been very risky. The distance in a straight line is about five miles; but the swampy underbrush then was well called impenetrable. This writer tried crossing there once, years after 1870. He failed, and he had been in many a wild.
Hammond continued to grow. The first plat of the town as so called was recorded at the office in Crown Point in the spring of 1875 growth had already commenced there which soon made Hammond the first place in the county for manufactures, for shipments, for population.
In these years, from 1870 to 1880, there was growth elsewhere also in the county. In 1873 the building of brick blocks of business houses commenced in Crown Point. The first three large halls were in that year opened. These were: The Masonic Hall, Cheshire Hail, now Music Hall, and the Odd Fellow Hall. In 1874 was organized the First National Bank of Crown Point.
In 1872, on an island in the Kankakee Marsh, a singular enterprise was commenced. The island, called School Grove, as it was on section sixteen, afterward Oak Grove, a beautiful grove surrounded by marsh and water, was an early home for a trapper known as John Hunter. Heath & Milligan of Chicago afterward bought some land on this island, and with eight other Chicago men built in the grove a hunters' home in 1869. It was called Camp Milligan. The entries in their Hunters' Record Book show that no shooting was done there on Sundays, and that eight men in a. few days shot five hundred and thirteen ducks. The one who kept this camp, G. M. Shaver, has the record of shooting in 1868 eleven hundred ducks. In 1871 there visited this camp a young man from England, William Parker, said to be a member of a family belonging to the nobility of England and heir to the title of an English peer. With him. in some relation, was an older man called Captain Blake. These were so well pleased with the island and the abundance of wild fowl that, after visiting England, they returned in 1872, laid out quite an amount of money in lands and buildings and stock. The buildings comprised a quite large dwelling house, barns and kennels. They imported from England "some sixteen of the choicest blooded dogs known to sportsmen." and some choice Alderney cows and some horses. Other choice stock they imported or purchased. They had a black bear and some foxes. The establishment was called Cumberland Lodge. A younger brother of William Parker came with the others in 1872. who was for a time a very pleasant member of Crown Point society. Captain Blake seemed quite communicative to the writer of this sketch. who visited the Lodge and was much interested in examining the kennels find in seeing all the animals that came from England, but the real reason for such a singular incident, which was soon passed into other hands, remains to this day unseen in Lake county. Lord Parker, if that is now his title, if now living. could give the real reasons. Short as was the residence of these English visitors in the county, they laid out quite an amount of money and so aided the business interests of Lowell. And Lowell iv. these years was steadily improving, as also was Hobart. The increasing productions and wealth of the farmers were building up Lowell; manufacturing was building up Hobart.
In 1875 was organized at Crown Point the Old Settlers' Association; in 1876 quite an interest was manifested in collecting specimens of mineral, agricultural, and manufactured products for the Centennial at Philadelphia. A number of the citizens visited Philadelphia that summer, among whom was Wellington A. Clark, Esq., who spent twenty-four days viewing that great exposition.
The votes of the county this year as cast for governor were 3,187, showing that there must have been at that time as many as thirty-two hundred voters. In this same year a large brick business house was erected by Geisen, Fancher & Groman. And in 1878 a brick block costing about fifteen thousand dollars was built by Hartupee, Griesel., and J. D. Clark. September 15, 1879, is the date on record for the beginning of the occupation of the new court house, the corner stone having been laid in the presence of a large assembly of citizens September 10, 1878. It cost fifty-two thousand dollars.
The year 1880 came and cars began to run on a new road, the Grand Trunk. This road gave a station at Ainsworth which grew into a small village, passed through what became Griffith, and helped to build up no town. But it did what was probably better. It sent a morning milk train over its line of road, stopping at every place convenient for the farmers, to receive their cans of milk. These stopping places, called milk stands, were very convenient for the farmers and their families who wished to spend the day in Chicago, as the train would stop in the evening to put off the empty cans.
In 1880 was erected the central Crown Point brick school building at a cost of twenty thousand dollars. In 1881 brick buildings forming a block or part of a block were put up by John Griesel, Conrad Hoereth, and the National Bank; and another brick building in 1882 by J. H. Abrams; and yet another in 1883 by Warren Cole. The year 1881 was the great )-ear for railroad building in the county, and in 1882 cars were running on three new roads, called the Erie, the Nickel Plate, and the Monon. The Erie passed through Crown Point or near it, and enlarged its business and its bounds; it passed through Hammond and helped that to enlarge; it gave milk stands along its line, and two of its stations, Palmer and Highland, are villages. Highland has a factory and two good church buildings. The Nickel Plate helped Hobart and Hammond. It did little good for Hessville. The Monon made a village of Shelby and gave to Lowell communication by rail and telegraph with all the outside world. It furnished a name and a place for shipment in a neighborhood now known as Creston, where descendants of Red Cedar Lake pioneers yet live; and passing along the western shore of that lake it made of it a great pleasure resort, visited by thousands each summer. It passed northward making a station and a town of St. John, and helped Dyer and Hammond. It also sent through the county a morning milk train. It has proved to be for many interests a very important road.
In 1883 a road passed across the south end of the county, as Rev. H. Wason said, "came quietly creeping up the Kankakee marsh," commonly known as the three I's (the I.I.I.), which probably added some business life to Shelby.
In 1883 Decoration day began to be publicly observed in Crown Point. James H. Bail, Esq., now Judge Ball of Kansas, delivered the oration. In 1884 Judge E. C. Field, now of Chicago, gave the oration.
At the presidential election in 1884, there were cast for four candidates 4,145 votes, showing that there were then, in the fiftieth year of the county's growth, about forty-one hundred and fifty voters.
A semi-centennial celebration of the beginning of permanent settlement of the county was held on the Fair Ground September 3d and 4th, 1884. Considerable preparation was made for this event through the Old Settlers Association, and by a large number of citizens much interest was taken in preparing for the proceedings and in carrying them out. A volume of 486 pages containing a full account of the proceedings was soon afterward published, and to that the reader is referred for full details. It is called "Lake County, 1884." It has been for many years "out of print" but is in the libraries of many citizens of the county, and in some large public libraries.
It will be sufficient, probably, to state here that a large general committee of arrangements was appointed, thirty subjects named and assigned to writers for historical papers, and six special committees appointed. Of those who were on these different committees eleven are not now living. Also, that an oration was delivered by previous appointment, which by the special influence of the chairman of the committee, George Willey, Esq., was assigned to T. H. Ball, who occupied one hour of time in its delivery; that an address was given to the members of the Association of Pioneers and Old Settlers "by Congressman T. J. Wood" and that a semi-centennial poem was read comprising twenty-five stanzas of eight lines each. The oration, address, also the poem, can be found in full in "Lake County, 1884." Also, that seventy-one relics and antiquities of various kinds, historic and prehistoric, were presented for inspection. Not numbered among these were also twelve either old or curious coins, making the full number eighty-three. Most of these rare, curious, valuable relics and heirlooms are supposed to be still in the county, and some of them can probably be secured for the Association when a suitable room is found in which they can be preserved.
Besides the exercises at the Fair Ground on the two days of Wednesday and Thursday, literary exercises were held on Wednesday evening at Hoff-man's Opera House in Crown Point, the Crown Point Band, that then was furnishing some excellent music; Willie Cole and Miss Allie Cole giving a flute and piano duet: singing also by a quartette. Benton Wood. Cassius Griffin, Miss Ella Warner, Miss Georgie E. Ball. Mrs. Jennie Young, pianist. On the first day of the celebration the opening hymn was the well known one "My Country 'Tis of Thee." On the second day the new hymn was sung called "Our Broad Land."
Further features of this celebration cannot here be given, but this writer hopes that thirty years from now, in 1934, a still larger gathering will be found upon the Lake County Fair Ground, when a book now in the Recorder's office is then to be opened, a book presented to the Association by Hon. Joseph A. Little, and which contains very many signatures of persons present at Lake County's semi-centennial in 1884. A special committee, to be appointed thirty years hence, is to open that at present sealed book. To be called for and to be opened at that same time, by that same committee, there is now sealed up in the Recorder's office a quite large map of Lake county. On this map are the names of many children some of whom, as men and women, it is expected will be present then.
On Saturday, September 17, 1887, at four o'clock in the afternoon, the real work began of boring an artesian well on the south side of the public square in Crown Point. One half of the cost was to be paid by the town and one half by the county. The work was carried diligently on, into an immense mass of rock which seemed to underlie the town, until the fall of 1889, when work was given up, as there was no reasonable hope of obtaining flowing water without an outlay of more money than it was considered wise to expend. The depth reached was about 3,100 feet. In the summer of 1887 two steam dredges were busily at work cutting ditches in the Kankakee Marsh. Attempts to drain that wet land by ditching had been made by state legislation soon after 1852, some large ditches had been dug, but the methods employed were costly and slow in attaining results. The newly employed steam dredges worked busily in 1888 and 1889, and in the latter year, by means of the ditching through the marsh, a road was opened from the Orchard Grove postoffice to Water Valley, on the east line of the town lots laid out that year by the Lake Agricultural Company and called "the village of Shelby." It was found that the sand brought up by the dredge made a good road-bed, and so bridges were built across the ditches that went westward, and a bridge for wagons over the Kankakee River, and at last there was a good wagon-road leading from Lake county over into Newton. Soon there was another road passing by Cumberland Lodge in Oak Grove, and another bridge, and a road running directly south to Lake Village in Newton. It was a new and a pleasant experience, after so many, many years, to be able to ride in a carriage down to that long line of blue which had ended the view southward in Lake county, and to pass that great barrier of marsh and river, and visit the citizens of Newton county. While as to distance in miles they had been neighbors, as to access to their homes they had been for more than fifty years strangers.
Returning to the history proper of the railroad period in this Compendium or Outline, five other roads are yet to be noticed.
In 1888 the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern road commenced running cars across the county from Dyer to Hobart, but as a belt line, a freight line, adding not much to business or agricultural interests. In the same year, 1888, several miles were built and used of a road called the Chicago & Calumet Terminal. This must have aided much in building up a city the first family in which commenced a residence in 1888. The name East Chicago was given to the locality, and the name of the first resident family was Penman. This locality was truly "in the woods" or the wilderness state in 1888. Sand ridges, and marshes, long and narrow, parallel with the ridges, and thick underbrush of a swampy and not an upland growth, characterize that strip of land north of the Grand Calumet for some miles eastward. It was not an attractive spot on which to build a city. But it was near a great city, and work commenced. The swampy growth was cleared out of the way. Sand ridges were quite easily transferred into the low, wet places. Dwelling houses were erected, manufactured articles were produced soon in the factories, a saw mill furnished a large quantity of lumber, various industries were soon starting into existence, and in a little time, almost as if by magic, there were long streets lined with city-like buildings, there were stores filled with goods, there were school buildings and churches and waterworks and electric lights, social organizations, clubs and lodges, a well conducted newspaper, an electric railway line passing through, and the needed adjuncts of a modern city. East Chicago was for a short time an incorporated town, and then, not waiting long there, it became an incorporated city. The Penman family of 1888 soon had around them some three thousand neighbors. Much was done in building up this city by the Terminal railroad.
Another city soon started. There had been for several years a station village called Whiting, on the Michigan Southern road, which in 1872 contained fifteen families. Railroad work was the main employment. In 1889 some land was there bought, according to popular report, for one thousand dollars an acre, and nine hundred men were soon employed in erecting a large brick building for what it was claimed would be the largest oil refinery in this country. The estimate was for twenty millions of brick to be used in the construction of the first large building.
This was the beginning of the work of the Standard Oil Company in Lake county. In 1890 about seventy-five votes were cast. In 1895 the town was incorporated. In 1900 about fifteen hundred votes were cast. The town is a city now.
Starting as a town and to become a city in 1899, its growth, like that of East Chicago, has been remarkable. It is located on quite level land on the first low ridge of sand that here skirts Lake Michigan, with no sand hills eastward for several miles and none westward between it and Chicago. Whiting has some fine resident and business streets, but not much room for territorial growth, being surrounded by Lake Michigan, East Chicago, and Hammond.
In the winter of 1890 and 1891 there was much excitement in Lake county on account of a strong effort on the part of some citizens of Hammond to secure the passage of a bill by the State Legislature which would lead to the removal of the county seat from Crown Point to Hammond. For fifty years the question of the county seat location had been at rest; but this winter restless and ambitious men were determined it should rest no longer. The citizens of Crown Point and citizens of other counties fought against the bill and its passage was defeated.
In the summer of 1891 Main street and some other streets of Crown Point were paved with cedar blocks.
September 10, 1891, at about 6:30 o'clock, electric lights first flashed out in Crown Point. The date of the first electric lights at Hammond is not at hand. In fact Hammond, East Chicago, and Whiting have grown so rapidly from nothing to cities, that to keep trace of their improvements is almost bewildering.
In 1891 was founded the town of Griffith. Its location was excellent, on the Cut Off and the Belt Line, on the Erie and the Grand Trunk. It made a promising beginning. In 1892 it had four factory buildings, one church edifice, two Sabbath congregations, two Sunday-schools; and in these schools were eighty members. Two years before the family of the station agent lived alone in the woods and the undergrowth. It is not yet a city, bright as its first promise was. It has two schoolhouses, some stores, and a good many dwelling houses. It has an abundance of room for growth. It needs enterprise and capital.
In 1892 the Wabash line of road was completed across the county. It scarcely touched Tolleston, but passed through East Chicago and Hammond. It added not much to the growth of either of these places.
The year 1893 was one ever to be remembered in Lake county, as the inhabitants so largely had the opportunity of attending the Columbian Ex-position at Jackson Park. Their locality was favorable: the number of railroads running near so many of their homes, passing in the morning and returning in the evening as the passenger cars did, gave them excellent opportunities for spending the days at the expositon and the nights at home, and well did they improve their opportunities. An effort was made to obtain the exact number of school children that visited Jackson Park, but only a part of the teachers made any report. So the whole number can never be known. There were reported, through the kind consideration of quite a number of teachers, pupils from Hobart graded school 250, from Ross township 47, from Hanover 24, from Crown Point 375, from Eagle Creek township 83, from Cedar Creek 53, from West Creek township 84, making, with a few other small numbers reported, 973. Certainly never before did so many thousands and hundreds of thousands of people cross Lake county as in that very pleasant summer of 1893.
The year 1894 was a very different year. It was noted for great stagnation of business in mining and manufactures, the year of the Pullman boycott, the Debs strikes, and the miners strikes, and railroad communication with Chicago for a time ceased. In Hammond the civil officers were unable to maintain order and enforce law and United States troops and about eight hundred State militia of Indiana were sent in to secure railroad transportation and the passage of the mails through the city. A gatling gun stood on the platform at the Erie station and the passenger room could be reached only by passing the sentry and the corporal of the guard. The tents, the soldiers on duty with their arms gave to Hammond the appearance of a city under real martial law. Cars on the electric railway were running in the summer of 1894 so that passengers could go into Chicago from Hammond on the electric and elevated roads.
The year in Lowell was noted for much building. Thirty-one dwelling houses and four business houses were erected within the year. Cedar-block paving was laid on nine more streets in Crown Point at a cost of over forty-five thousand dollars.
The Superior Court at Hammond dates from 1895.
Some interesting figures are here inserted, obtained from the County Auditor, then A. S. Barr. The valuation of the taxable property of the county for 1895, without railroad, telegraph, and telephone property, was $15,224,740. The number of polls in 1895 was in North township 1,929, and the number of men over twenty-one years of age was 4,309: number of polls in the county 4,265, and of men 8,216. The trustees reported for the same year school children in North township 4,068 and in the county 9,380. The United States census gave the population of the county in 1890, 23,886.
In May, 1896, was opened for public use the electric railway from Hammond direct to South Chicago between Lake George and Wolf Lake, thus enabling one to go for three, fares only into the heart of Chicago. In August of this year the Crown Point Telephone Company began erecting poles and putting up wires. The road improvement for the year was in Hobart township, the road leading from the south line of the township through Hobart and Lake to Lake Michigan.
November 3d of this year, a presidential election, there were votes cast in the county, for Congressman, 8,300; for President, 8,267; of these 3,384 were for Bryan, 4.883 for McKinley. Also some Prohibition votes. In the county probably 8,400 voters. In 1884 there were about 4,200. The number of voters was doubled in twelve years. Of the 8,300 votes in November of 1896 there were in North township 4,328; in Center township 842.
February 16, 1897, made the sixtieth year of the existence of Lake as an independent county, and it happened to be the four hundredth anniversary of the birth of the noted Melancthon of the Reformation.
The number of children of school age enumerated this year was 9,834. Of these, in North township were 4,512, Hammond having 3,106, and East Chicago 547. Crown Point had 689, and Lowell 356. Hobart, town and county together, 859. North township, including Whiting then and the county, had the same number, 859. These figures from the official reports are given that the growth and the nature of the population may be more readily seen. In the manufacturing cities there will naturally be more men and more voters in proportion to the children than in the country towns.
In 1898, according to a quite careful count, there were in the three older towns of the county the following number of families: In Crown Point 580: in Lowell 290; in Hobart 315; in even hundreds 600, 300. 300. It has been already stated that in 1850 there were in all Lake county 715 families. No attempt was made to count the families of Hammond, East Chicago, and Whiting.
For the year 1899 the great improvement going on in the county was road-making. Some of the roads were called gravel, and others stone roads. Before this year eleven miles of gravel road had been made in Hobart township.
The following paragraph is quoted: "Cost of different roads: In Hobart township, 1st gravel road, $36,990, 2d, $21,990, 3d, $36,990, making in all for Hobart, $95,970. In North township, the Bradford roads, $124,500. In Ross, $71,485. In Cedar Creek, $47,540. In Calumet, $42,988. In St. Johns and Center, $167,500, and in Center, the Jenkins road, $12,900, in all for St. Johns and Center roads, $180,400. Grand total for roads in the seven townships, $562,883, or a little more than half a million of dollars."
These were not all completed till 1900. Around the public square in Crown Point was laid a walk of sandstone, the stone ten feet in length, five in breadth, and six inches in thickness, the walk costing $11,000.
The Nineteenth Century closed upon a certainly prospering, enterprising community in this county of Lake.
In 1899 one more railroad was constructed running from Griffith to Lake Michigan and then westward, called the Griffith & Northern. This is a freight road and made no towns.
In Tune, 1901, work was commenced in the northeast part of the limits of East Chicago, miles away then, however, from its factories and stores and dwellings, for new industries, especially for a large, independent steel mill, which was to furnish employment, when in full operation, for one thousand men. In July, when the locality was first visited by this writer, about one hundred and fifty men were at work grading the ground for streets and for buildings, and breaking the ground for a new city. It was an interest-ing sight. This record was made in August, 1902: "A large mill building has been erected called The Inland Steel Mill, and on Monday, August 11, 1902, the wheels of the big mill were started to receive the first iron of the rolls; A well sunk by the Inland Mill people 276 feet deep will furnish abundance of good water. Indiana Harbor is already a town, almost a city of itself. Its future none can foresee, but it promises now, when its mill work is all in operation and its harbor constructed, to make East Chicago one of the great lake cities of Indiana"
Indiana Harbor, as this part of East Chicago is called, is rapidly making good the promise of 1902. Since February 20, 1904, electric cars have been running between the two divisions of the city. To one who saw cities try to grow in northern Indiana sixty-seven years ago, and saw them fail, it is amazing to see how cities now spring up and grow. Electricity is a great agent now. Money and energy, steam and electricity, are doing much for Lake county in its rapid advance among the counties of the State.
In 1903 yet another road was completed as far as Griffith, the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville road, which promises to be an important thoroughfare when its trains can reach Chicago: It has made the village of Merrillville, which had waited long, a railroad town, and may yet add quite a little prosperity to Griffith.
Besides the sixteen roads named, most of them important roads of the country, there are six short lines within the county as given by the State Board of Tax Commissioners for 1903. These are: Chicago Junction, length three miles, fractional parts omitted; East Chicago Belt, five miles; Indiana Harbor, nearly five miles: South Chicago & Southern, seven miles; Standard Oil Company, fourteen miles; Chicago. Lake Shore & Eastern, eight miles: making, according to that report of the State Board, miles of main track in Lake county, 324.28. and of side tracks, 194.55. Lake county has many more miles of railway than any other county in Indiana.
According to the United States census the population of Lake county in 1900 was 37,892; the population of Hammond was 12.376; of Whiting 3,983; and of East Chicago, 3,411. The population of Whiting may still be placed, in round numbers, at 4,000; and that of East Chicago, which includes within its limits that new locality called Indiana Harbor, may also be placed at 4,000. It thus appears, by consulting a county map, that more than twenty thousand of the inhabitants of the county live within five miles of the southeast limits of Chicago. According to a state authority the number of voters in the county in 1901 was 11,162, of these 16 being colored men.
The Old Settlers' Association, of which mention has been made, was organized at the court house in Crown Point, July 24, 1875. The first public meeting was held at what was the old Fair Ground, September 25, 1875. September 14, 1876, the annual meeting was held at the same place. September 15. 1877, on account of rain, the meeting was held in Cheshire Hall. September 10, 1878, after the public exercises connected with laying the corner stone of the new court house, the fourth meeting was held at the old Fair Ground. In 1879 the Association met in the then new Fair Ground. In 1880, met again in Cheshire Hall. In 1881 and 1882, met in Hoffman's Opera House. In 1883 and 1884 at the Fair Ground. Since 1884 the annual reports of the Historical Secretary have been printed every five years for the members of the Association and other citizens of the county. Sixteen of these reports are now in print, four more will this year be in writing, and these, if continued on, will furnish, it is supposed, quite an amount of information for the historian, whoever he may be, of 1934. It is probable that no other county in Indiana has so full historic records.
At the annual meeting in August, 1903, the name of the Association was slightly changed. The "s" was dropped from the word "Settlers" and the word "Historical"' was added, so that the name now is THE OLD SETTLER AND HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION of Lake County, Indiana. It is expected that the Association will have a room before long in which to preserve records and relics.
An account has been given of the anniversary meeting of 1884. At the annual meeting in 1889, when East Chicago and Whiting, now thriving cities, were starting into existence, the following address was delivered to the children present at the Fair Ground; and believing it to be of interest to the children of the families where this book will come, it is repeated here:
"Beloved children, representatives of the descendants of the pioneers of Lake, some of you grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those pioneer settlers whose names have already, in the annals of Lake. Income historic.- representatives also to-day of some three thousand children in our county, it is my privilege to speak to you for a few moments in regard to the heritage which those pioneers and early settlers, with others who have come among us. have left and will leave for you and those whom to-day you represent.
"My subject is. Our Heritage to the Children. I am to represent therefore those men and women, venerable in age, a few of whom yet remain among us, who have come down to us from a former generation. As in their name and in their behalf, and in behalf also of pioneer children, who are now between sixty and seventy years of age, I am to speak to you to-day.
''We are leaving, we are to leave you, this county of Lake with its present great resources. We found it almost a wild. We shall leave it to you a wealthy portion of this great commonwealth of Indiana.
'Whether or not the Indians succeeded the Mound-Builders here, I do not certainly know. But I do certainly know that we took possession of Indian hunting grounds; of Indian homes. When the pioneers came they found here Indian trails and dancing floors, Indian gardens and burial grounds, Indian ponies and Indian life. I have been in an Indian canoe on the Lake of Red Cedars, have seen them eat and trade; and there are those yet among us who have seen them in their wigwams and on their hunting grounds. We came next to the Indians here. And almost a wild, so soon as they were gone, were these five hundred square miles of land and water. We found here the prairie and the woodland, the lakes, the marshes, and the streams. These were then free and bridgeless streams. We have put bridges over them all. The only obstructions, the only dams then were made by the beaver. We have built dams and erected mills. The musk-rats made their homes in the marshes. We have turned many of these into meadows and corn-fields. On the southwest of Cedar Lake, where over a large area the sand-hill cranes waded, where the largest boats of the lake passed, and the best fishing ground was found for the large pike, we have made dry land.
"Through the great Kankakee Marsh, where lived the muskrats and the mink, where the wild geese made their nests, we have cut long ditches with steam dredges and have opened up thousands of acres for pasturage and farming. We have fenced up all the once wild prairie, and now, where the deer bounded and the wolves galloped leisurely along, where the cranes 'danced' on the high areas and the prairie hens had their nests undisturbed, where the wild flowers of such rich beauty grew, there are orchards and gardens and barnyards and dwelling houses, and the wild life of the prairie is no more. We have planted twenty-five towns and villages where were only Indian wigwams and gardens. We have built forty-eight churches and one hundred schoolhouses. We have dug some three thousand wells of water. In the early times, in a dry season, it became sometimes needful to steal water. One spring on the west side of Cedar Lake supplied at one time nearly all the families around the lake. What the Indians did for water in the dry season I know not. They left very little. We found only nature here: but we shall leave to you the marks of white men on this soil which no coming years will erase. Lake county has been made first in the state of Indiana in railroads, first in exporting beef to foreign markets, first in the great oil refinery now in process of erection at Whiting, first in organized Sunday-school work. And it has been placed among the first in exporting hay, raising horses, in the general prosperity and intelligence of the people. There are now some eighteen thousand people, about one-half living in the twenty-five towns and villages, and the other half, nine thousand, on the rich and well cultivated farms.
"Now, all these farms and orchards and pasture lands, all these towns and villages, all these manufacturing interests and industrial pursuits, all the material results in our public school and Sunday-school work, all this civilization and prosperity attained since the moccasined Indians ceased here to tread, we shall leave as a heritage to you, the children of this generation.
Instead of succeeding Indians, who left only trails and dancing floors and burial places, you will succeed a generation of busy workers, of intelligent white people, who will leave you wagon roads and railroads, bridges and fences, and the results of the outlay of a large amount of money and labor making what we call fixed capital in the land. The property in Lake county was assessed for taxes in 1888 at nearly nine and one-half millions of dollars. Do you see how differently you will enter upon life compared with your pioneer ancestry? You will have no court-house, no public buildings to erect, few churches and few schoolhouses to build, no prairie sod to turn over and subdue, few fences to make, few houses to build. All these things have been done for you by those who struck the first blow here with the axe, erected the first log cabin, built the first bridge, constructed the firsv mill, made the first brick, sowed the first wheat and oats, and reaped the first harvest.
"Can you see, beloved children; and through you I speak as to the three thousand, can you see how much has been done for you by the two generations that have gone before you here? Some have worked in one line, some in another. They have all helped to furnish for you a rich, a valuable, and, as earth is, even a glorious inheritance. Soon it will all be yours, for rapidly we are passing away.
"SHOW YOURSELVES WORTHY OF THIS INHERITANCE."
Since this address was delivered to the children in 1889, those who have read a few preceding pages have seen that the heritage for the children has very largely increased, more than half a million dollars having been invested in improved roads, a hundred thousand dollar court house having been built and furnished at Hammond, the assessed value of the property in the county having reached the sum of twenty-one and a half million, and the county auditor's report for January 1st, 1904, showing receipts for 1903 with balance then on hand of about one million dollars.
And now the question comes up: Who were the men of the past generation who seventy years ago began to lay foundations here, and who for twenty, thirty, forty years, toiled on, amid privations and discouragements, to furnish for us the inheritance which we all now enjoy? Shall we not honor their efforts, and count their names worthy of lasting remembrance? For the names of some of these men, all of whom have passed from the activities of life, see in another chapter short memorial sketches.
Churches, School Houses, Banks.
The first church buildings erected in the county were a Methodist church on West Creek and a Roman Catholic chapel near the present St. John, date of both, 1843. In 1872 there were twenty-three church buildings, one only being north of the Calumet, the Lutheran church at Tolleston. There are now: In West Creek township three; in Cedar Creek five; in Winfield four; in Center eight; in Hanover three; in St. Johns four; in Ross two; in Hobart nine; in Calumet two; and in North twenty-six. In all sixty-six.
Of schoolhouses there are one hundred and twenty, and of teachers two hundred.
Of banks there are: In Crown Point two; Lowell has two: Dyer one; Hobart two; Hammond three; East Chicago two; Whiting two. Total number fourteen. The capital invested in most of these banks is owned by residents of the county.
Of the Lake County State Bank of East Chicago, Potter Palmer, Jr., is a director, vice president, and cashier, and probably a large owner of the capital, which is advertised to be fifty thousand dollars.
A FEW MORE PARTICULARS.
So far as surface water was concerned the county was originally well watered. While not a region of rocks and rills, of springs and streams of crystal water, there were marshes in abundance and some flowing springs, which in the pioneer days usually furnished a supply for all the domestic animals. In these hundreds of marshes usually lived some muskrats, some little fishes, and one or two pair of wild ducks. Shallow wells were dug near the marshes or in low places which furnished drinking water for the families. But dry seasons came, marshes began to be dry, the muskrats even, were driven by thirst and hunger to the houses and stables of the settlers, and the cattle were driven to the central lake and to the large streams once a day for water. The surface wells also gave out, as dry seasons came and the draining of marshes was commenced, and deeper wells were dug and walled up with brick; and at length wells were driven or bored, so that now on every large farm there is a well of some depth, a windmill to work the pump, and a good-sized tank to hold the water. These windmills are pic-turesque as well as useful. Without them it would seem almost impossible for the farmers to keep such large numbers, as now they do, of domestic animals. There are yet a few, comparatively, of valuable living springs in the county, four or five of these furnishing a large flow of water; and there are a very few artesian wells. The cities of the county can obtain water in pipes from Lake Michigan; and the larger inland towns have "water-works." Many of the town families have their own wells and cisterns. The water in every part of this county, where they who use the water have wells, is generally good.
In regard to wells of water, there have been found some peculiar and interesting facts in the county. Along the line of the Grand Trunk Railroad west of Ainsworth is the Adams' neighborhood. I quote a sentence: "There is a strip running across that neighborhood, about three miles long and eighty rods wide, where good water can be obtained at a depth of from sixteen to eighteen feet. On each side of this narrow strip it is needful to go about forty feet to obtain water." Other peculiarities have been found.
The county now known as Lake was "erected out of the counties of Porter and Newton" January 28, 1836, and by act of the Legislature, January 18, 1837, it was declared to be an independent county on and after February 16, 1837, the day on which the writer of this was eleven years of age.
At the first meeting of the first board of County Commissioners the county was divided into three townships, North, Center and South, each extending across the county from east to west. This meeting was in April,
May 9, 1839, the Commissioners divided the original south township into three townships called West Creek, Cedar Creek, and Eagle Creek townships, from the names of the creeks running through them from north to south.
In 1843 Winfield township was set off from the original Center, named, it is supposed, after General Winfield Scott.
June 8, 1848, the Commissioners took off a large strip from the north part of Center township, and organized St. Johns township and Ross town-ship, the latter taking its name from our earliest farmer settler, William Ross, a settler in 1833, and the former, probably, from John Hack, the first German settler.
Whatever may have been the boundary lines of the original north township of the county, boundaries were fixed September 5, 1849, for North township, which boundaries give that township as laid down on the map of Herbert S. Ball in "Lake County. 1872." That map shows the ten townships as they were from 1853 until the Calumet township was organized.
June 8, 1853. Hanover was taken off from Center by the Commissioners and made a separate township. The present Center township was therefore left as it now is, in June, 1853.
Hobart township was at first formed September 5, 1849, but its boundaries were slightly changed December 6, 1853, and the township then included the sections as shown in the county map in "Lake County, 1872," the north part not extending beyond the Little Calumet River. March 9, 1883, its territory was again changed, sections 1 and 2 in township 35 being given to it from Ross township and its west line, running on the west side of section 2, was extended up to Lake Michigan, its east boundary line following the county line up to the lake. It was thus made five miles in width and eight miles long.
A strip five miles in width, on the west side of the old North township., was then made a new division of the county, called North township; and between that and the new township of Hobart, a strip of territory six miles in width extending from the north line of township 35 to Lake Michigan, was made a new township and called Calumet. As this took three sections away from Ross, the village of Ross is no longer, as it originally was, in Ross township.
The three original townships of the county have now become eleven, there having been no other changes since 1883.
RED CEDAR LAKE or the LAKE of the RED CEDARS, or as more commonly called in Lake county and by the railroad officials, plain CEDAR LAKE, has some interesting special history. In its original wildness it was beautiful. Job Worthington of Massachusetts, who spent a summer and a winter there in 1837 and 1838, said years afterwards that he had thought of it by day and dreamed of it by night, as one of the most beautiful places that he had seen; and as late as 1879 Colonel S. B. Yeoman, of Ohio, who was deciding upon a line of railroad to run across Lake county, is reported to have said that whatever interests in other parts of the county might be affected by the location to be made. Cedar Lake was "too beautiful to be left out, promising too much as a pleasure resort." So the proposed road was laid on the west side of the lake, adding nothing, however, to its beauty, and a pleasure resort it did indeed become.
Solon Robinson spoke of the lake as being in 1834 very attractive to claim-seekers. Charles Wilson in that summer laid a claim on the west side, on section 27. This soon passed into the hands of Jacob L. Brown, and by him the claim was transferred to Hervey Ball for $300. So says the Claim Register, date July 18, 1837. The family tradition adds, "in gold." This was much more than the claim was worth, but it was then considered one of the most desirable locations in the county. For some twenty-three years this place remained in the possession of the Ball family and was one of the prominent religious, educational, and literary centers until the pioneer days had ended. Its church, its school, its Sunday-school, its two literary societies, were second in influence to none in the county. After the first settlers: the Brown, Cox, Nordyke, and Batton families sold their claims, the neighborhood which was to continue for many years was formed in 1838 by the four families of H. Ball, H. Sasse, Sr., H. Von Hollen, and Louis Herlitz; and of these, the last, of the older members of the households, known as Mrs. H. Van Hollen, has lately passed away, eighty-seven years of age and having lived in the old home for sixty-five years. Younger members of the Herlitz family yet remain on what was at first the Nordyke claim, bought from that genuine pioneer sixty-five years ago.
On the east side of this lake claims were located and settlements made in 1836 by members of the large Taylor families, of whom the men then in active life were four, Adonijah and Horace Taylor, brothers, and Dr. Calvin Lilley and Horace Edgerton, sons-in-law of the father, Obadiah Taylor, then quite an aged man. Records of this family will be found among memorial sketches. These families gave considerable attention to saw-mill building and to fishing.
On the southwest side of the lake were the two regular fisherman families of Lyman Mann and Jonathan Gray. They soon left that side of the lake.
A PLEASURE RESORT.
From the very first of the settlements in the county this lake had been a favorite place to visit for fishing and recreation by small parties from the growing neighborhoods; but after cars commenced running on the new7 road in the spring of 1881, that it would become a large pleasure resort was evident.
In April, 1881, Captain Harper, a Lake county man, who had learned to manage a boat on Lake Michigan, put a small sailing vessel on this lake. It would carry about twenty passengers. Excursion trains soon commenced running, many row boats were put on the lake, many improvements to accom-modate pleasure seekers followed, a seven hundred dollar steamer was put on the lake in 1883, and one worth twelve hundred dollars in 1884. Other sail boats also came into use. As early as 1884 about two hundred boats of different kinds were on the waters of this lake, and from three to five thousand people would sometimes be visiting the lake in the same week. Since then buildings have been erected on both sides of the lake and every summer there are thousands of visitors. Almost entirely in these later years has that Lake of the Red Cedars been given up to the devotees of pleasure in the summer time, and in the winter to the ice business when busy men fill the Armour and other large ice houses.
REMAINS OF MAN.
Before taking final leave of this lake there is one more item of interest to be recorded. On the first day of October 1880, two young men, Orlando Russell and Frank Russell, commenced excavations for a mill foundation. The spot they had selected was a beautiful grassy knoll, a very sunny spot, a few feet higher than the sandy lake beach, sloping slightly in every direction. It had been, the summer before, a camping ground for many days and nights of a pleasure party, who did not dream as they reposed upon that turf, what dust was slumbering a very few feet beneath their heads.
When on that October morning the work of excavation commenced an unexpected discovery was made. It was found that the top of that mound was artificial, so soon as the surface soil was removed, and as the plowshare cut into the second layer of earth it struck a mass of human bones, evidently entire skeletons, until the plow reached them, of human beings and in a good state of preservation. As many as twenty skeletons were taken out from a small space of ground, and a tree, under the very roots of which some of them were found, gave evidence that they were buried there, apparently in one promiscuous heap, two hundred years ago.
LARGE LAND HOLDERS.
In 1872, about twenty years after railroads began to cross Lake county, the following areas of land were held by the following named persons: Non-residents of the county: Dorsey & Cline, about 12,000 acres: Forsyth, 8,000; G. W. Cass, 9,577; J. B. Niles, about 1,800; Dr. Hittle, 1,200; D. C. Scofield, 1,000. Residents: A. N. Hart, 15,000; J. W. Dinwiddie estate, about 3,500; Wellington A. Clark, 1,320. In all, 53,500 acres.
Calling the area of the county, wet land and all, five hundred sections, the Claim Register says: "This county contains 508 sections of land, about 400 of which are dry, tillable ground" and considering each section to contain 640 acres, there are, then, in the county 320,000 acres: and. according to the figures given above, in 1872 the representatives of only ten families held one-sixth part of the area of the county. Thirty years have made quite a change in those ten families, and all those tracts of land have been more or less divided up. The Lake Agricultural Company, President W. R. Shelby of Michigan, still holds quite a portion of the G. W. Cass land, and William Niles, Esq., of La Porte, still holds quite a large amount of the J. B. Niles land. The other tract of land now held by non-residents lies on Lake Michigan cornering on Tolleston, comprising about 4,000 acres. Real owners unknown.
SOLDIERS OF LAKE COUNTY.
Some mention is justly due, beyond what has yet been made, of the men and young men, some of them scarcely more than boys, who so readily left their homes,
"To march o'er field and to watch in tent,"
to fight for their country, and perhaps to die. But of the more than a thousand that probably went from the "Homes of Lake," and of the two hundred or more that never returned, of only a few can memorials be recorded here.
There are on one Lake county roll, taken from Volume VIII of the Ad-jutant General's Report, the names of nineteen who died, members of Company G of the Twelfth Cavalry; nineteen who were members of Company B of the Twentieth Regiment; of twenty who were in Company A, Seventy-third Regiment; and twenty members of Company A of the Ninety-ninth Regiment.
The following are some records concerning a few. Were the material ample it is evident that some selection must be made or the war record alone would make a quite large volume.
Colonel JOHN WHEELER. Born in Connecticut, February 6, 1825, spending the years of youth and early manhood in Ohio, married in 1846 to Miss Ann C. Jones, a daughter of John D. Jones, himself the son of Johnson Wheeler, who was the father of seven children, in 1847 the Wheeler and Jones families becoming residents in Lake county, the home of John Wheeler was for about six years in West Creek township. In 1853 he was appointed or elected county surveyor, holding the office for three years. For the next four years he was associated with Zerah F. Summers in editing and publishing the, Crown Point Register. In 1861 he raised a company of one hundred men, was chosen Captain, his company becoming a part of the Twentieth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers. February 16, 1862, he was commissioned Major, and in March, 1863, Colonel. "In July, as Colonel of the Twentieth Indiana Regiment, he led his veteran troops on that bloody and decisive field of Gettysburg, and there fell on July 2d in the slaughter of that terrible conflict."
Colonel Wheeler's line of genealogy, traced backward, is the following: His father, Johnson Wheeler, who removed from Connecticut to Ohio in 1824, and who became a resident of Lake county in 1847, was born in 1797 and was the son of Johnson Wheeler, born in 1754, who was a son of Samuel Wheeler and Ruth Stiles Wheeler, born in 1712, who was a son of John Wheeler, born in 1684, who was a son of John Wheeler, of Woodbury, who died in 1704, date of birth not known, who was a son of John Wheeler, who settled in Fairfield, Connecticut, in 1644, and had resided in Concord before 1640. Date of migration from England not known.
Ruth Stiles, wife of Samuel Wheeler, and so the great-grandmother of Colonel Wheeler, was a daughter of Benjamin Stiles, of which New England Stiles family Dr. Stiles of Yale College was a member; and as Dorcas Burt, of the noted Burt family of Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1658 was married to John Stiles of this same family of which Dr. Ezra Stiles was a member, the probability is that Ruth Stiles was a descendent through Dorcas Burt of Henry and Eulalia Burt, who came from England also "before 1640."
To one who traces lines of genealogy, it is singular how many of the earliest New England families have been, in some generation, connected by marriage. And that those first early families should have intermarried is natural. One line from that same Henry and Eulalia Burt goes down to that noted man, Grover Cleveland. It is certain that there were eight Burt daughters who were married and had many descendants, and it is claimed that there were eleven sons. No man can choose his ancestry; and no man can be sure of what sort will be his descendants.
STILLMAN A. ROBBINS. In marked contrast with the foregoing record of one who had led veteran troops in brilliant and bloody battles, is placed a memorial of a soldier youth. It is copied from a publication of 1864. "Died. In Huntsville, Alabama, July 18, 1864, Stillman A. Robbins, of Company G, Twelfth Indiana Cavalry, aged 22 years and 8 months. There are those who recollect, a few years ago, a bright little boy, deeply interested in mastering that key to knowledge, the magic alphabet; then, in early boyhood, leaving the sports of other children, and stealing away by himself with his favorite books, treasuring with care a neglected Sunday-school library; then in the academy the attentive scholar, winning the love of teachers and classmates by obedience and politeness; and soon again in the business of life with a mechanical taste becoming a skillful engineer; and they saw in the child, the boy, and the man, a characteristic nobleness, manliness, and energy, that ever attracted attention, and won respect and love.
"In November, 1863, when returning after a five months' absence the young engineer finding a cavalry company recruiting in his neighborhood, after spending but a few hours under his parents' roof, enrolled himself as a volunteer.
"Soon after the organization of the regiment he was detailed as clerk in the adjutant's office, where he soon won the confidence and esteem of all the officers in the regiment by his attention to business and soldierly conduct. At Huntsville he was again detailed as chief clerk in the provost marshal's office, which position he filled for a month with great credit, when he was taken with a fever from which he was just recovering, when a hemorrhage suddenly closed his career.
"He sleeps where 'southern vines are dressed above the noble slain,' none the less a martyr to his country than if he had wrapped his colors round his breast in some blood-red field of battle; and there is no nobler grave than that of a patriot soldier. His loss was deeply felt by all the regiment-'talk not of grief till you have seen the tears of warlike men'-but who shall speak of the loss to those parents who had given up their two brave boys, their all, without a murmur, to their country?-C. Ball."
The writer of the record just copied was Lieutenant CHARLES BALL, himself a member of the Twelfth Cavalry, who "was, detailed to serve as a staff officer, and was appointed sergeant-major," a position which "kept him generally at the headquarters of the regiment."
He sent to his Cedar Lake home very interesting letters, but they are too lengthy to be reproduced here. Some of them are in a publication called "The Lake of the Red Cedars."
One incident only will be given here of his many experiences. There was assigned to him at Huntsville a somewhat dangerous duty. He had taken from his home the best horse for cavalry service that he could find, a^good and easy traveller and very hardy. "Mounted on this hardy and faithful animal the sergeant-major started from the headquarters and passed out of Huntsville alone to carry orders. He knew not what moment the aim of a concealed foe would be upon him, but proceeding upon a gentle gallop, he slacked not rein nor did his trusty steed break his pace, till a ride of about twenty miles was accomplished." It had not the excitement of Sheridan's famous ride, but perhaps it was more dangerous.
MILES F. MCCARTY. Another member of the Twelfth Cavalry was Miles F., usually called Franklin, McCarty. He was the third son of Judge Benjamin McCarty. of West Point, a member of a pioneer family of La Porte, of Porter, and of Lake counties. He was talented and ambitious. He had capabilities which would have developed nobly under favorable circumstances, but by some means he was not in the line of promotion. He was taken sick at Nashville, or on the way there: and died at Nashville, May 27, 1864. His death was more than usually sad. Four members of Company G died at Nashville.
GEORGE W. EDGERTON. Of two members of Company B who fell at Gettysburg with their Colonel on that bloody field, July 2. 1863, one was George W. Edgerton, a member of a true pioneer family and a young patriot soldier. He was a son of Amos Edgerton, a grandson of Horace Edgerton, and was connected with the large Taylor family of pioneers of East Cedar Lake. He was a promising youth, and his loss, like that of thousands of others, was a great grief to a fond mother who has herself long since passed to the peaceful shore. Her son fell in one of the greatest decisive battles of the world.
M. GRAVES. Another youth whose life was given for his country was M. Graves, son of Orrin W. Graves, of West Creek. He was a member of Company A, Seventy-third Regiment and died at Nashville, December 16. 1862. He was a mild and pleasant boy, too young to bear the exposures of a soldier's life.
Nashville seems to have been a fatal place for our soldiers. The record states that of the Seventy-third there died at Nashville Lewis Atkins, November 22, 1862; Eli Atwood, November 29, 1862; E. Woods, November 29, 1862; Albert Nichols, December 1, 1862; John Childers, December 3, T862; William Frazier, December 15, 1862; A. Lamphier, January 7, 1863; James Roney, February 8. 1863; L. Morris, April 30, 1863; T. W. Loving, September 30, 1863; of the Twelfth Cavalry, W. M. Pringle, November 4, 1864; William Harland, January 8, 1865: William Stinkle. February 1, 1865; besides M. F. McCarty and M. Graves, specially named.
Captain ALFRED FRY. Among those who returned from Mexico in 1848 was Alfred Fry of Crown Point, fifteen years older than when he first became a soldier, who enlisted as a private July 26. 1862, and was mustered into the service of the United States as Orderly Sergeant of Company A, Seventy-third Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, August 16, 1862. September 1st of the same year at Lexington, Ky., he was commissioned Second Lieutenant of Company A. The regiment returning to Louisville he was as-signed to the position of Brigade Commissary. December 2d he was commissioned First Lieutenant and engaged in the battle of Stone River. He was under fire for six days. January 19, 1863, he was commissioned Captain of Company A. His regiment was assigned to Colonel Streight's brigade and surrendered in May, 1863, in that disastrous attempt of about fifteen hundred men to pass through North Alabama to Rome, in Georgia.
Captain Fry's narrative of the treatment the officers of the Seventy-third Regiment received, after they had surrendered on honorable conditions, was published in full in "Lake County, 1872," and presents a very dark picture of man's inhumanity to man.
For one year they endured the horrors of Libby Prison, and for about one more year were removed from one prison pen to another. Finally they were paroled, February 14, 1865, and in March entered the Union lines. Captain Fry was in a few weeks exchanged, returned to his company, then in Alabama, was discharged in the summer with his regiment, and became again a resident of Crown Point, where he continued to live, engaged in the peaceful pursuits of life, until 1873.
Captain JOHN M. FOSTER. Of Company G, Twelfth Cavalry, John M. Foster became Captain, promoted from First Lieutenant. His brother, Almon Foster, was the first captain. They were sons of Frederick Foster, of Crown Point, and brothers of Mrs. John Pearce, of Eagle Creek. Unlike the infantry regiments, the Twelfth Cavalry was sent into no great battles and the officers and men had no opportunity to gain promotion through deeds of valor; but the regiment performed a large amount of cavalry service. Colonel Karge, of the Second New Jersey, who commanded in the course of the war several different regiments, is reported, in a letter written June 11, 1865, to have said that the Twelfth Indiana was the best regiment he ever commanded.
After the war closed, Captain Foster returned to Crown Point and engaged again in the peaceful pursuits of business life. Sons and daughters grew' up in his home. He was a worthy citizen; was quite successful in business: and lived until February, 1893, rejoicing in the prosperity of a united nation.
As this cavalry regiment gained no distinguished war honors, as the infantry regiments did, it seems just to quote a few statements from the report of the Adjutant General of Indiana, see Vol. Ill, showing that its members accomplished a large amount of soldier work in various ways, in North Alabama, in Tennessee, in South Alabama and Florida, and over many hundreds of miles of southern territory. Out from Huntsville as a center the men "were employed very extensively in fighting and ridding the country of guer-rillas and 'bushwhackers' in which numerous skirmishes and engagements were fought." In September, 1864, the regiment was removed to Tullahoma, Tennessee, and there constantly employed against General Forrest's forces. They went to South Alabama and into Florida, fighting, skirmishing, doing different duty from what infantry could do. "The regiment was highly and specially complimented by Major General Grierson, in a letter to Governor Morton, for its gallant conduct and military discipline." No one reading the full report of the Adjutant General could reasonably think that the members of Company G failed to do their duty. As to what to do a soldier has little choice.
Captain DANIEL F. SAWYER. Officers as well as men in the ranks fell victims to the sickness incident to camp life and to climate. Daniel F. Sawyer, the first captain of Company A, of the Ninety-ninth, was taken sick and died in Mississippi, and was succeeded in command by K. M. Burnham. Captain Sawyer was from Merrillville, and his body was brought home and laid away to sleep in the Merrillville cemetery.
Lieutenant JOHN P. MERRILL. One of the sons of Dudley Merrill, of Merrillville, John P. Merrill was born October 13, 1843. on August, 1862, he enlisted in Company A, of the Ninety-ninth Regiment, and in October, 1864, was promoted from the office of Sergeant to that of First Lieutenant. He returned home in June, 1865, and became a merchant. In 1867 he was married to Miss Martha T. Randolph. He was for many years Trustee of Ross township, and at length, having been elected County Treasurer, he removed to Crown Point. Spending several years of life as an active., useful citizen of Crown Point, he died there suddenly "at 5 o'clock Sunday evening, February 21," 1897.
Immediately following the record of his death is the following record: "Captain W. S. BABBITT was born in Vermont, December 19, 1825. When eleven years of age he went to sea. Sailed five times around Cape Horn and made three voyages on a whaling vessel. Came to Ross township in 1854. Was a soldier in our army in that great conflict, and died, at Crown Point, on the next day, February 22, one of our national anniversary days. Age, 71 years." The "next day" in the record here quoted means the day after the death of Lieutenant Merrill. Like him he was Lieutenant in Company B, of the Twentieth, but was transferred to Company C and was promoted Captain. He also removed to Crown Point, where he spent with his family the later years of his life. He did not forget God in the days of peace, of whom he could say as king David once said, "Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle," but was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Such are a few brief memorials of our loyal and gallant soldier dead. There were many others, perhaps not quite so well and widely known as these who were equally dear to their special kindred and friends, and of these others a small volume of memorials might be collected.
Of the Twelfth Cavalry there fell in battle or died, at New Orleans, Henry Brockman and Sidney W. Chapman; at Kendallville, Charles Crothers, Fred Kable, and Albert Moore; at Vicksburg, Jacob Deeter; at home, R. L. Fuller, F. S. Miller, William Stubby, and Ezra Wedge; at Starkville, Ephraim E. Goff; at Huntsville, M. Hoopendall; at Michigan City, A. McMillen: making with those elsewhere named sixteen of whom no memorials are here given. But their names will live and their deeds are on record.
Of the Twentieth, Company B, there fell in battle or died, Horace Fuller, Wilderness; Lawrence Frantz, Spottsylvania; John Griesel, David Island; M. Hafey, Pittsburg; C. Hazworth, ----; William Johnson, Petersburg; Albert Kale, Camp Hampton; William Mutchler, Camp Smith; P. Mutch-ler. Washington; James Merrill, Wilderness; S. Pangburn. Andersonville: C. Potter, ------- ; D. Pinkerton, -------; J. Richmond, Gettysburg; John F. Farr, Washington; Isaac Williams, Charles Winters, City Point.
Seventeen names without memorials.
Of the Seventy-third, Company A, the names not already given in the Nashville list are these: John H. Easley, Stone River; R. W. Fuller, Indianapolis; J. M. Fuller, Gallatin; I. W. Moore, M. Vincent, Gallatin; John Maxwell, Scottsville; C. Van Burg, Bowling Green; E. Welch, Stone River; S. White, Blount's Farm.
Nineteen names in all of this company, with no memorial sketch.
Of the Ninety-ninth, Company A, the names are: O. E. Atkins, D. T. Burnham; J. Bartholomew and H. H. Haskins at Andersonville; J. D. Clinghan at Huntsville ; H. A. Case at La Grange; James Foster and James Horton at Atlanta; R. T. Harris and T. C. Pinnel at La Grange; John Lorey, Adam Mock, N. Newman, at Black River; Corydon Pierce at Washington; Albert Robbins, a brother of Stillman Robbins of the Twelfth, dying August 6, 1864; J. Schmidt, Indianapolis; and J. Stickleman, A. Vandervert, and M. Winand, the last one dying "at home," December 11, 1864. Of this company are also nineteen names.
Seventy-one names are thus here given following the eleven memorial sketches. Patriot soldiers all.
This writer gives no sketches of the living.
A SOLDIER'S MONUMENT.
In 1903 the citizens of the three southern townships, Eagle Creek, Cedar Creek, and West Creek, including as quite central the town of Lowell, determined to erect a monument to perpetuate on lasting stone the names, if not all the deeds, of their brave sons who engaged in the great conflict which commenced in 1861.
It is understood that the monument is to cost three thousand dollars, the money mostly, perhaps all, raised by the efforts of the public-spirited women of those townships. It is to stand on the public square at Lowell.
(Fom the book "Encyclopedia
of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana" by Rev. T. H. Ball,
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