History of Porter County, 1912County history published by The Lewis Publishing Company . . . .
The Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Volume I. Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company. 357 p.
HISTORY OF PORTER COUNTY
TOWNSHIP HISTORY - Continued
PINE TOWNSHIP - HISTORICAL SKETCH
OF IN COURT-HOUSE CORNER-STONE - SCHOOLS - RAILROADS - POPULATION - PLEASS4NT
TOWNSHIP - LOCATION AND BOUNDSRIES - EARLY SETTLERS - SCHOOLS - RAILROADS - TOWN
OF KOUTS - CRIMES AND CASUALTIES - CENSUS REPORTS - PORTAGE TOWNSHIP - PHYSICAL
FEATURES - PIONEERS - SCHOOLS - POSTOFFICES AND VILLAGES - TRANSPORTATION
FACILITIES - HIGHWAYS - POPULATION - PORTER TOWNSHIP - LOCATION AND BOUNDARIES -
FORMERLY FISH LAKE - SETTLERS - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS - SCHOOLS - POSTOFFICES
AND VILLAGES - RAILROADS - HIGHWAYS - POPULATION - UNION TOWNSHIP - LOCATION AND
BOUNDARIES - PHYSICAL FEATURES - SETTLERS - EARLY ELECTIONS - PIONEER LIFE
-"HOOSIER'S NEST" - FINLEY'S POEM - SCHOOLS - HIGHWAYS - RAILROADS - TOWN OF
WHEELER - CENSUS - WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP - LOCATION AND BOUNDARIES - FIRST
SETTLERS - SCHOOLS - RAILROADS AND VILLAGES - PRATTVILLE - WESTCHESTER TOWNSHIP
- CHANGES IN BOUNDARIES - RESOURCES - PIONEERS - SCHOOLS - TOWNS AND VILLAGES -
CHESTERTON - PORTER - RAILROADS - CENSUS REPORTS, ETC.
In the preceding chapter have been presented historical accounts of the settlement and progress of Boone, Center, Jackson, Liberty and Morgan townships. As it is the aim to present the township histories in alphabetical order, the first in this chapter will be:
The following historical sketch of
this township was written by William Lewry, at that time trustee, for deposit in
the corner-stone of the court-house, in October, 1883:
"Pine township was organized on the 13th of August, 1853, by D. S. Steves, John Reader, David Poor and Elias Taylor. By order of this board George Porter was duly appointed treasurer and the township was divided into two road districts. The civil township of Pine received its name from the growth of pine trees that cover the northern part. The surface and physical features vary. At the north there are high sandhills, partly covered with pine, juniper, cherries, yellow oak and grapes. The fertility increases as you journey southward and wheat, oats, barley, corn and hay grow in abundance. The whole township was heavily timbered at one time. The north abounded in pine, white and red oak, cherry, elm and white wood. The south and center abounded in beech, maple, hickory, white ash, and other varieties. Much of the timber was sold for railroad wood and ties, and for building cars, boats, docks and sewers at Chicago. Deer, wild turkey, and all kinds of game were abundant up to 1860; about this time the last Indian left the township.
"This township has been backward in settlement, many coming here to work in the woods in the winter and leaving it in the spring. A few have been industrious and determined to build a home, and to all appearances are doing well. In the central part of the township there is a colony of Poles, who are determined to build homes and cultivate land that would otherwise remain wild. They have large families and all work with a will, from the wife down to the six-year-old child. The children are bright, but almost wholly ignorant of the English language.
"Owing to the tardy growth of this township, its history is rather meager. The timber and wood business has been the main dependence of the people. Sawmills were established at an early day in various places, but after using up the timber in the vicinity were moved away
or allowed to decay, till but one remains. Charcoal and cheese wagons are the only articles of importance manufactured in the township. The cheese factory is in the southern part and was established by Younger Frame in 1881 and is still run by him. Samuel C. Hacket has three charcoal kilns in the southern part. One is about one mile west of the Laporte county line; the other two are about two miles farther to the southwest. Mr. Hacket believes he has produced more charcoal than any other man in Indiana. He has held all the township offices, is a prominent leader in politics, and a most respected and honored citizen.
"The blacksmith and wagon factory of William Lewry & Son is in the northern part of the township, at Furnessville, and has a large patronage in Pine and Westchester townships.
"The first school house erected in the township was built on the county line between Laporte and Porter counties thirty years ago. It was an octagon structure, built of narrow, thick boards, placed one upon another, lapping at the corners, and making a wall about as thick as an ordinary brick wall nowadays. Isaac Weston sawed the lumber for this house and John Frame and Elias Dresden were prominent among those who constructed the building and organized the school. The second school house on the north side, District No. 2, was built in April, 1854. The building was 14 x 20 feet, and Roman Henry received $160 for building it. The board of trustees was composed of Theodore D. Roberts, D. S. Steves, and John Reader. This house has passed away. A new one was built by George Shanner in 1871 - John Frame being the trustee. The school house in District No. 3, was built on the 16th of October, 1874; Henry Hacket trustee. All of these school houses are of wood. School houses in District No. 4, center of township, was built in July, 1883, by William Lewry, trustee. This is a substantial brick structure and the first of the kind in the township.
"The roads of the township are divided into two districts - John Bayless supervisor of the north half and William Goodwin of the south half, as follows: Commencing at the southwest corner of section 21, thence east to the northwest corner of section 26, thence south and east to the
county line. Our roads have been in bad condition. Being new and cut through timber, it has been impossible to plow or ditch them. As the timber decays we turnpike them, giving us roads equal to the older townships."
The above sketch by Mr. Lewry gives a fairly succinct account of the development of the township. Since it was written an additional school district has been established. In the school year 1911-12 the teachers in the several districts were as follows: No. 1(Smoky Row), Mildred Carver; No. 2 (Frame), Florence Frame; No. 3 (Brick), Ada Purdy; No. 4 (Carver), Emma Goodwin; No. 5 (Bayles), Martita Furness. Although Pine township is well supplied with railroads, there are no towns or villages within its borders. In the northern portion the Michigan Central, the Pere Marquette, and the Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend (the last named an electric road), cross the township in a north-easterly direction, almost parallel to the shore of Lake Michigan, and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern crosses the southeast corner. There are about twelve miles of macadamized road in the township.
During the last thirty years the population has been fluctuating in character. In 1880, three years before Mr. Lewry's account was written, 138 votes were cast at the presidential election in November. This would indicate a total population of about 550. In 1890, according to the United States census, the population was 596. Ten years it had increased to 634. Then came a falling off, and in 1910 it was only 564.
Pleasant township, established by
the board of county commissioners on April 12, 1836, is situated in the
southeast corner of the county, and is the largest township in the county. It is
bounded on the east by Laporte county; on the south by the Kankakee river, which
separates it from Jasper county; on the west by Boone township, and on the north
by the township of Morgan. Its area is about fifty-six square miles. Crooked
creek flows southward through the center of the township and
Sandy Hook creek along the western border, both emptying into the Kankakee river. The name Pleasant was conferred upon the township on account of the natural beauty of its location. For years before the advent of the white man, the groves and marshes along the Kankakee river formed a favorite hunting ground for the Indians. Game of all kinds abounded there, fur-bearing animals were plentiful, and pleasant sites for encampments or villages could easily be found on the higher grounds along the river. Southwest of Kouts, at a point where two Indian trails crossed the Kankakee, the early settlers found the outlines of an ancient fortification - so old that trees two feet or more in diameter were growing on the embankments - indicating that the spot had been a resort for the aborigines for years, perhaps for centuries.
John Sherwood was the first white settler in the township, coming there with his family in 1834. During the next two years William Trinkle, John Jones, Henry Adams, William Billings, John and Joseph Bartholomew, Enoch Billings, Martin Reed, Morris and James Witham, Lewis Comer, John Adams, Charles Allen, Luke Asher, Hisel Coghill, Oliver Coles and several others were added to the population. The first election for township officers - a justice of the peace only - was held at the house of Henry Adams on April 30, 1836, when eleven votes were polled. The judges of election were William Billings, who acted as inspector, Enoch Billings and Morris Witham. Lewis Comer received the unanimous vote of the electors and became the first justice of the peace. At an election on December 24, 1836, for justice of the peace and to fill a vacancy in the office of associate judge, only nine votes were cast. Seneca Ball received nine votes for judge, and John Adams the same number for justice of the peace. The first birth was that of Henry, son of William and Gillie Ann Trinkle, December 2, 1835. The first marriage was that of Alexander Wright to a Miss Jones about 1839, and the first death was that of Jeremiah, son of John Sherwood.
As most of the early settlers located in the eastern part, between the county line and Crooked creek, it was a natural sequence that the first school should be taught in that section. In 1838 a small log school
house was erected on section 13, township 33, range 5, a short distance south of where the Panhandle railroad now enters Porter county. It was built by the patrons of the school and had the customary clay fireplace and greased paper windows. A pioneer teacher says that these windows possessed a great advantage over glass ones, as they admitted the light but prevented lazy pupils from gazing out of the window instead of studying their lessons. A larger school house was erected upon the same section a little later. Several years later the first frame school house in the township was built near the same site. In the school year 1911-12 there were five district schools in Pleasant township, in addition to the commissioned high school at Kouts. In these schools thirteen teachers were employed, to wit: High school, E. E. Wright, superintendent; Bertha Tofte, principal; Katherine Kring, Jeannette Anderson, Lulu M. Benkie, Grace Jones, Frederica Witham and Hattie Felton; District No. 1 (Marshal Grove), Claire Hannon; No. 4 (Five Points), Marie Beckwith; No. 5 (Morrison), Marguerite Tofte; No. 7 (Lauer), Grace Gay; No. 8 (Stowell), Clara Young.
Agriculture has always been the leading industry of the people. The soil is fertile and well adapted to hay, grain, corn and potatoes. A considerable portion of the land lies in the Kankakee marshes and has to be drained before it can be successfully cultivated. Several large ditches have been constructed through the township, and where the land has been thus reclaimed it yields large profits to the owner. The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis railroad, commonly called the Panhandle, runs east and west, two miles south of the northern boundary; the Chicago & Erie railroad crosses the eastern boundary a little south of the center and runs in a northwesterly direction, crossing the Panhandle at Kouts, and a line of the Chicago b Eastern Illinois system crosses the southeast corner. These lines afford good transportation facilities for practically all parts of the township. Very little macadamized road has been built in Pleasant, but in the summer of 1912 there were some sixteen miles under construction.
Kouts is the only village of importance. It is situated about two miles
northwest of the center, at the junction of the Erie and Panhandle railroads as already mentioned. This town was laid out by Bernard Kouts, from whom it took its name, about the time the railroad was completed. A postoffice was established there in 1865, with H. A. Wright as postmaster. Mr. Kouts built the first business building in the town, and the second was built by Brown & Dilley. When the Erie railroad was built
in 1881, Kouts began to grow more rapidly and
now has a population of about 500. Very few attempts have been made to establish
manufacturing enterprises, and with one exception these attempts have been made
at Kouts. Joseph Hackman erected a sawmill on the bank of the Kankakee river
some years ago, but sold it to James M. Pugh, who converted it into a portable
mill and used it in various parts of the township. H. A. Wright started a cheese
factory about 1877, but after a short time aban-
doned the undertaking. In 1887 Jerry Ryan started an ax-handle factory which employed five or six men for a while, but the lack of suitable timber led him to discontinue the business. On June 21, 1912, the Kouts creamery was opened for business. It is of a cooperative nature, the stock being owned by sixty-seven persons, all residents of the immediate neighborhood. Kouts also has a wholesale and retail bakery, and a saw and feed mill operated by the Betterton Milling Company. The Porter County Bank is located here. The oldest church in the town is the Evangelical Lutheran, of which Rev. Hicks Hicken is pastor. A Christian church has recently been organized. There are six general stores, a hardware and implement store, insurance agencies representing all the leading companies, Adams and Wells Fargo express offices, and a money order postoffice with one rural route emanating from it. The secret orders are represented by the Odd Fellows, the Foresters of America and the Modern Woodmen. Considerable shipping is done from Kouts, which is the only railroad station of consequence in the township. Clanricard is a small station on the Erie, one mile from the east line of the county, and there is a flag station called Burke's on the Chicago & Eastern Illinois, not far from the Kankakee river.
Pleasant township has had its share of crimes and casualties. In the fall of 1873, while James M. Pugh was plowing near his residence, he found some dry marsh grass somewhat annoying. He asked his daughter, Sarah, to get some fire and burn the dead grass. Scarcely had she ignited the grass when a sudden change in the direction of the wind blew the flames toward her, setting fire to her clothing. The accident occurred about two o'clock in the afternoon, and after intense suffering the girl died at four o'clock the following morning. In 1873 a man named Swett was shot and killed by Charles Chase. Two murders occurred in the year 1879, when Charles Askam was killed by John McIntosh and John Dutton was killed by Brainard Taft. On Thursday, March 23, 1882, David Ramsey, an old hunter and trapper was found dead in a swamp about three miles southeast of Kouts. The day previous he had been seen in
Kouts, where he was drinking heavily, and was warned by Robert Hall to be careful, not drink any more and to go home. It is supposed that he started home and either lost his way, or deliberately wandered into the swamp, where he died from exposure.
Census reports for the last twenty years show a steady and healthy increase in the number of inhabitants. In 1890 the population of the township was 984, ten years later it was 1,209, and in 1910 it was 1,424.
This township was created by the
general order of the board of county commissioners, April 12, 1836, which
divided the county into ten civil townships, but the present boundaries are
materially different from the ones originally defined by that order. It is
situated in the northwest corner of the county, and is said to have been named
after Portage county, Ohio. It is bounded on the north by Lake Michigan; on the
east by the townships of Westchester and Liberty; on the south by Union
township, and on the west by Lake county. It is four miles wide from east to
west on the northern boundary, and five miles in width on the southern. Its
greatest length from north to south is a little over eight miles and its area is
about thirty-six square miles. In the northern part are the sandhills common to
the shore of Lake Michigan in that region. South of the sandhills lies the
valley of the Little Calumet river, which contains some swamp lands, and still
farther south is a level prairie, with a rich soil, well adapted to agriculture.
This prairie is watered by Salt creek and its numerous small tributaries. Salt
creek crosses the southern boundary near the southeast corner, flows northward
until it enters Liberty township near the northwest corner of section 33,
township 35, range 6, and reenters Portage township near the northeast corner of
section 20 of the same township and range. Large quantities of sand have been
shipped from this township to Chicago, and near Crisman there is a fine-grained
clay that has been used quite extensively for
molding, calking boilers, etc. Some bog iron ore has been found, but the deposits are small and have never been developed.
In the spring of 1834 Jacob Wolf, Berrett Dorr and Reuben Hurlburt brought their families and located claims in Portage township. They were the first settlers. Jacob Wolf had three grown sons; Mr. Dorr had two sons of age, and Mr. Hurlburt had five sons, three of whom were then in their "teens." Later in the year George and James Spurlock and Wilford Parrott joined the settlement. During the next two years a number of immigrants settled in the vicinity, among whom may be mentioned Benjamin James and his son Allen, S. P. Robbins, Walker McCool, Thomas J. Field, Henry Herold, Griffin and William Holbert, Daniel Whitaker, Francis Spencer, J. G. Herring, George Hume, William Frame, John Hageman, Jacob Blake, Henry Battan, John Lyons and James Connet. An old tally sheet of the election held in April, 1836, shows that most of the above voted at that time, and at the election in August following twenty-nine votes were cast. Henry Battan was an old revolutionary soldier. The life and customs of these early settlers did not differ much from those of other pioneers. The first dwellings were log cabins, erected without nails, with greased paper windows or no windows at all, the huge clay fireplace and the same rude furniture. There were the same dreary trips through the forests and across the bleak prairies to Michigan City for supplies, the same plain food and homespun clothing.
The first birth is not known. The first marriage is believed to have been that of Henry Herold to a Miss Dorr, and the first death was that of a man named Ashton in 1837. In that year a man named Carley opened a tavern at Willow creek, on the old stage line running from Chicago to Detroit. Two women, whose names seem to have been forgotten, later opened a house of entertainment for travelers at the same place. The first school house was built in 1840 on section 20, about a mile and a half southeast of the present village of McCool, and not long afterward a second school house was erected in the southwest part of the township. Among the early teachers were N. E. Yost, M. L. Ferris, W. E. Haw-
thorne, Lottie Hewitt, Minnie Spencer, Rose Mitchell, Cyrus Sales, Christina Fry, Emily Gerhart, Chancey Gaylord and a Baptist minister named Bartlett. In the school year of 1911-12 there was a certified high school at Crisman and four district schools. The teachers in the high school were W. A. Briggs, Minnie I. Hyde, Glen Kinne, Mary Rice and Camilla Babcock. In the district schools the teachers were: No. 1 (Peak), Goldie Johnson; No. 6 (Dombey), L. Clyde Bay; No. 8 (McCool), Bertha Sweet; No. 9 (Wolfe), Rudolph Mahns. The absence of numbers 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 is owing to the consolidation of districts or the absorption of some of them by the Crisman high school.
Portage township has three postoffices, located at Crisman, Dune Park and McCool. The first two are money order offices. Crisman was laid out by B. G. Crisman, after which it was named. It is located on the Michigan Central railroad in the eastern part. The postoffice was established there in 1871 and the first postmaster was Isaac Crisman, who was also the proprietor of the first store in the place. After a short time he sold out to Charles Seydel, who in turn was succeeded by Joseph Bender and Joseph White. For many years this was the only store in the township. The town has never grown to any considerable proportions and in 1910 had a population of about 75. McCool, named after the pioneer family, is located in the triangle between the Baltimore & Ohio, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, and the Wabash railways, and apparently, like Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin, it "just growed." The railroad junction attracted a few small business enterprises, whose proprietors built dwellings in the immediate neighborhood, others followed, and in 1910 McCool and Crisman were about the same size. Dune Park is a small station on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad, about a mile and a half south of Lake Michigan. It takes its name from the sand dunes in the vicinity. In October, 1891, Frank A. Turner, of Valparaiso, filed in the recorder's office a plat of a town named Fairview, located on section 34, township 37, range 7, in the extreme northwest corner of the county. The plat is rather pretentious in character, showing some six
hundred lots, with streets and alleys, but there was never a house built upon the site.
About thirty-five years ago a few Swedes settled in the northern part. They were soon followed by others of their countrymen until a large number of them came. These people are industrial and generally make good citizens. One of their first acts was to establish a church, which is still in existence. Presbyterian and Methodist churches had been founded in the township many years before.
Portage township is a network of railroads. In the northern part are the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and the Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend, the latter an electric line. Through the central part, radiating in various directions, are the Michigan Central, the Wabash, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, and the Baltimore & Ohio, and the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago crosses the extreme southwest corner. The great manufacturing enterprises of Chicago have worked their way gradually southward and eastward around the head of Lake Michigan, building up successively the cities of Hammond, South Chicago, East Chicago, Gary and Hobart, and the excellent transportation facilities offered in Portage township lead many to believe that this portion of Porter county will in the near future become a great manufacturing district.
Probably no township in the county, unless it be Center, can show a better system of public highways than Portage. More than thirty miles of fine macadamized roads traverse all portions of the township, and good bridges span the streams. Like some of the other townships of Porter county, the population of Portage has been rather variable during the last twenty years. In 1890 it was 954. Ten years later it had increased to 1,014, but in 1910 it was but 959.
Lying southwest of Valparaiso is
the township of Porter, which is the second largest in the county, containing
forty-five square miles. It is
bounded on the north by Union and Center townships; on the east by Morgan; on the south by Boone, and on the west by Lake county. When the original division of the county into ten townships was made by the county commissioners on April 12, 1836, the territory now included in Porter township was made a part of Boone. In March, 1838, the northern part of Boone - that portion lying north of the line dividing townships 33 and 34 - was erected into a township called Fish Lake, from the little body of water known as Lake Eliza, but then called Fish Lake. In June, 1841, in response to a petition of the inhabitants, who did not like the name of Fish Lake, the commissioners changed the name of the township to Porter. The first settlements in what is now Porter township were made during the years 1834-35, when Samuel and Isaac Campbell, Newton Frame, David Hurlburt, Isaac Edwards, and a few others located in that part of Porter county. Others who came during the next few years were the Sheffields, William McCoy, Ezra Reeves, Morris Carman, Dr. L. A. Cass, William A. Nichols, J. C. Hathaway, William Frakes, Alpheus French, Henry M. Wilson, A. M. Bartel, Jonathan Hough, William C. Shreve, Edmund Hatch, David Dinwiddie, Moses and Horatio Gates, William Robinson, Richard Jones, Asa Cobb, and a few others who became prominently identified with the township's industries and affairs. Alpheus French was a Baptist minister and preached the first sermon in the township.
Owing to the fact that most of Porter township is prairie land, the early settlers were not annoyed as much by Indians as those who settled in the timbered parts of the county. Occasionally an Indian hunting party would pass through the settlement, but the members of it were nearly always friendly, and there were always a few who would maintain peace and order among their fellows. Game was plentiful and the pioneer who was a good marksman was never in fear of a meat famine until the encroachment of civilization drove off the deer and other game animals, and by that time the farms were so well developed that the settler could depend upon domestic animals for his supply. For several years after the first settlement was made, Michigan City was the nearest
point where supplies could be obtained, and occasional trips were made to that port for salt, sugar and other things that could not he grown or manufactured at home. Matches were scarce and commanded a price much higher than at the present time, hence the fire was never allowed to go out, a little being kept at all times "for seed." Wolves roamed over the prairie and carried off lambs and pigs occasionally, but aside from this the losses and hardships of the early settlers were not great.
Children belonging to the families that settled in the western part of the township attended a school on Eagle creek, just across the line in Lake county. The first school in the township is believed to be the one taught by Mrs. Humphrey at her home about 1837 or 1838. This school was patronized by the Sheffields, the Stauntons, and a few other families. One by one school houses were erected as the population increased until there were ten districts in the township. Two of these - Numbers 3 and 6 - have been consolidated with other schools, and in the school year 1911-12 there were eight district schools and a three years' high school at Boone Grove. The teachers in the high school were J. E. Worthington, C. Marguerite De Marchus and Lillie Dorsey. In the district schools the teachers were as follows: No. 1 (the Cobb school), Miss Myra E. Jones; No. 2 (Gates Corners), Grace Mains; No. 4 (Kenworthy), Maud Williams; No. 5 (Merriman), Bessie Love; No. 7 (Porter Cross-roads), Marie Benedict; No. 8 (the Beach school), Neva Doyle; No. 9 (Hurlburt), Rhoda Bates; No. 10 (the Skinner school), Gertrude Albertson. The schools of Porter township have always maintained a high reputation for their efficiency.
In 1844 a postoffice was established at Porter Cross-roads, and was known by that name. It was probably the first postoffice in the township. The next year a postoffice was established at Hickory Point, just across the line in Lake county, and the inhabitants of the western part of the township received their mail at that office. Jeremy Hickson, the postmaster, carried the mail from Crown Point. He was succeeded by Henry Nichols and his father, William A. Nichols, who between them kept the office for about six years, when it was moved across the line into Porter
township and a man named Porter became postmaster. At his death a few years later the office was discontinued. The Porter Cross-roads office continued in existence until about the close of the Civil war. The postoffices in the township at the present time (1912) are Boone Grove and Hurlburt. Boone Grove is an old settlement, and the postoffice there was established a few years before the war. About 1857 Joseph Janes opened a store at Boone Grove, with a small stock of goods, and continued in business for several years, when he closed out his stock. With the building of the Chicago & Erie railroad, which passes through Boone Grove, the village began to grow, and in 1910 had a population of about 150. There is a local telephone exchange, and in 1912 the principal business enterprises were the general stores of Dye Brothers, F. Wittenberg, and J. B. Woods, the last named being the postmaster. For a time Boone Grove was known as Baltimore. Hurlburt is a comparatively new place, having been made a postoffice after the completion of the Chicago & Erie railroad, on which it is a station about two and a half miles northwest of Boone Grove. It was named for one of the pioneer settlers who located in that part of the township, and in 1910 had a population of over 100. It has two general stores, kept by S. H. Adams and W. F. French, and is a shipping point for a rich agricultural district. The Hickory Point above mentioned was on the line between Lake and Porter counties, and was once a trading point and social center of some importance. Shortly after the postoffice was started there in 1844 Alfred Nichols opened a store on the Porter county side, but some years later removed to Crown Point. A man named Wallace then conducted a store there for several years, and when he went out of business a Mr. Carson, who had recently come from Ohio, engaged in the mercantile business there. The discontinuance of the postoffice, and the competition of Boone Grove, influenced Mr. Carson to close out his stock, and with the building of the railroad Hickory Point sunk into insignificance. It is now little more than a memory.
About two miles northwest of Hurlburt, and a short distance north of the Erie railroad, the old Salem church was erected at an early date.
Before the church was built the members of the congregation held their meetings in the homes of the settlers. Just about a mile north of this church the Old School Presbyterians, or Scotch Covenanters, built a church. Christian and Methodist churches were later established at Boone Grove. A more complete account of these pioneer religious organizations will be found in the chapter relating to Religious History.
Owing to a lack of vital statistics, it is impossible to learn at this
of the first birth, the first marriage or the first death in the township. One
of the early deaths was that of a young man named Robinson, a son of John
Robinson, his death resulting from a cut in the thigh with an axe.
Porter township has been from the first an agricultural community. No manufacturing establishments of consequence have ever been located within its borders. About the time the Civil war commenced a Mr. Sheffield started a sawmill in the northern part of the township,
where there was some timber, but no one seems to know what became of it. The people are progressive, and some of the best improved farms in the county are to be found in Porter township. There are about sixteen miles of macadamized road and a number of large ditches in the township, which is crossed by two lines of railroad. The Chicago & Erie enters the township about two and a half miles west of the southeast corner, runs northwest through Boone Grove and Hurlburt, and crosses the western boundary of the county not far from Salem church. About four miles north of this road and almost parallel to it runs the Chesapeake & Ohio (formerly the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville) railroad. Beatrice, in the extreme northwest corner of the township, is the only station on this road within the limits of Porter. Beatrice is a small place and has grown up since the railroad was built.
The population of the township in 1890 was 1,121; in 1900 it was 1,075, and in 1910 it had decreased to 1,000. Notwithstanding this slight decrease in population, the township has increased in wealth, and in 1911 the property of the township was assessed for tax purposes at $1,439,590.
This township, one of the western
tier, was created by order of the board of county commissioners on April 12,
1836. In extent it is five miles from east to west and six miles from north to
south, and contains thirty square miles. It was named Union to commemorate the
federation of states in the American Republic, and has been called the "Peaceful
Township," on account of its natural beauty. Being located chiefly in the
morainic belt of the county, the surface is rolling, and, next to Jackson
township, presents a greater diversity of physical features than any other
township in Porter county. The entire area, however, can be cultivated, and
agriculture is the principal occupation of the inhabitants. Salt creek crosses
the northeast corner, and a branch of that stream flows northward through the
eastern tier of sections, uniting with the main
stream about half a mile south of the northern boundary. Taylor creek rises in Hollister's lake, in the southern part, and flows northwesterly course into Lake county. Hollister's lake is about six or seven acres in extent and is the only lake in the township worthy of the name. Originally there was some marsh land, but the greater portion of this has been drained and brought under cultivation. Twenty-mile prairie extends into the northern part. Charles S. Hyde says: "This was so named because, as an old settler facetiously said, it was 'twenty miles from any-where' - meaning of course, that it was twenty miles (or some multiple of twenty) from the nearest trading post, being twenty miles from Michigan City and Laporte, and forty miles from Chicago." In the central portion the soil is generally sandy, though there is some loam. The hard clay found in all parts of the township makes it unprofitable to try corn growing, but wheat, oats and rye are raised in large quantities, and the township is well adapted to grazing. The hills, ravines and forests combined to render this part of the county an ideal haunt for game animals, when the first white men located there they found plenty of deer, a few bear, the lynx, the badger, the otter and other fur-bearing animals, and a horde of prairie and gray wolves, the latter species being by far the most numerous. There is some question as to who was the first settler. William B. Blachly, Benjamin McCarty, James Walton, John G. Forbes, Sylvester Forbes, Andrew and Joseph Wilson, Joseph Willey, George W. Turner, E. W. and Noah Fowts, Lewis Walton and a few others had settled in the township by the spring of 1836. At the election for justice of the peace on April 30, of that year, James Walton was inspector; George W. Turner and B. Bunnell, judges; E. W. Fowts and Joseph Willey, clerks. Fifteen votes were cast, Joseph Willey receiving the unanimous vote for the office of justice of the peace. The election was held at the residence of George W. Turner. "Squire" Willey was evidently not a highly educated individual, as may be seen by the grammar and orthography in the following entry from his docket in December after his election:
"State of Indiana,
"John Burge, James Burge and Orson Strong was brought before me, Joseph Willey, a Justice of the Peace, for trial for killen sum hogs, on or about the first day of December, 1836, and I proceeded on the 8th day aforesaid to hear the proofs and allegations, and the defendants was acquitted for the above offense. Nicholas Mount, tried for profane swearing, committed, and paid his fine.
JOSEPH WILLEY, J. P."
In the pioneer days Union township was farther from the institutions of civilization than the settlements farther north and east. It was thirty miles to the nearest grist mill, and it was a custom for one of the settlers to make up a wagon load of grain among the neighbors and make the three day trip with an ox-team, distributing the flour or corn meal among the owners of the grain upon his return. When this supply ran out another man would take his turn in going to the mill. The miller's toll was heavy, and some of the settlers overcame the difficulty by burning a hollow in the top of a large stump for a mortar, and pounding their corn therein with a hard-wood pestle. The meal produced by this method was coarse, but it was wholesome, and frequently the only supper served was a bowl of mush made of this meal and a generous portion of fresh milk. The implements used by the pioneer farmers were of the most primitive character. The first plow used in the township was of the old "bull-tongue" pattern, and harrows were made by selecting a V-shaped fork of a tree, boring holes at regular distances through each branch of the fork and driving into them hard wood pegs for teeth. Wheat was cut with the cradle and bound by hand. In some cases the sickle, or "reap-hook," was used, especially if the grain was rank and tangled by the wind. The grain was threshed with the flail, tramped out by driving horses or cattle over it on a piece of ground smoothed off for the purpose, or in some instances the "ground-hog" threshing machine was used. This would
loosen the grain from the chaff, but did not separate them. The farmer must accomplish that by winnowing the grain - that is by tossing it into the air - the wind blowing the chaff away and the grain falling upon a sheet. Occasionally there was a farmer who was the proud possessor of a "fanning mill," in which the wheat and chaff were poured into a hopper at the top, and by turning a crank were shaken down through the mill, a revolving fan blowing the chaff out at the rear end while the wheat poured out of a spout at the bottom of the machine. Many a boy has blistered his hands while turning one of these fans, no doubt muttering meanwhile mental maledictions upon the inventor. Now, the farmer frequently rides as he plows, his grain is harvested with the twine binder, the Gum of the steam thresher is heard instead of the "thud, thud" of the old-fashioned flail, and the fanning mill has gone, never to return.
Not far from the western boundary, on the old Sauk trail, James or Thomas Snow (authorities differ as to the name), in 1833, erected the first frame house in the township. The lumber was hauled from Laporte, and when the building was completed Mr. Snow put in a small stock of goods, thus becoming Union township's first merchant. Two years later he sold out to Oliver Shepard, a Yankee, who put up a sign bearing the legend "The Hoosier's Nest," and in a short time the place became known far and wide. The fame of this place has been perpetuated in verse by John Finley, and as his poem is really a part of Porter county's history, it is here reproduced.
THE HOOSIER'S NEST
I'm told, in riding somewhere West,
A stranger found a Hoosier's Nest;
In other words, a Buckeye cabin
Just big enough to hold Queen Mab in.
Its situation low, but airy,
Was on the borders of a prairie;
And fearing he might be benighted,
He hailed the house, and then alighted.
The Hoosier met him at the door;
Their salutations soon were o'er.
He took the stranger's horse aside,
And to a sturdy sapling tied;
Then, having stripped the saddle off,
He fed him in a sugar trough.
The stranger stooped to enter in,
The entrance closing with a pin;
And manifested strong desire
To sit down by the log-heap fire,
Where half a dozen Hoosieroons,
With mush and milk, tin-cups and spoons,
White heads, bare feet, and dirty faces,
Seemed much inclined to keep their places;
But madam, anxious to display
Her rough but undisputed sway,
Her offspring to the ladder led
And cuffed the youngsters up to bed.
Invited shortly to partake
Of venison, milk and Johnny-cake,
The stranger made a hearty meal,
And glances round the room would steal.
One side was lined with divers garments,
The other spread with skins of varmints;
Dried pumpkins overhead were strung,
Where venison hams in plenty hung.
Two rifles hung above the door,
Three dogs lay stretched upon the floor --
In short, the domicile was rife
With specimens of Hoosier life.
The host, who centered his affections
On game, and range and quarter sections,
Discoursed his weary guest for hours
'Till Somnus' all composing powers,
Of sublunary cares bereft 'em,
An then I came away and left 'em.
It is claimed by some that this poem first called attention to the use of the word "Hoosier" to designate an inhabitant of the state of Indiana. The first school house in Union township was a log structure, 18 by 20 feet, located near the "Hoosier's Nest," but the date of its erection is uncertain, and the name of the first teacher cannot be learned. In October, 1883, when the corner-stone of the court house was laid, Isaiah B. McGinley, at that time trustee of the township, prepared a historical sketch, in which he stated that there were 447 children of school age and ten school districts in the township. Since then a commissioned high school has been established at Wheeler, and the number of districts has been reduced to seven. The teachers in the Wheeler high school for the year 1911-12 were :Thurman B. Rice, Helen Whitlock, Ruth R. Matthews, Vera S. Bradley, Flora Cobb, Ethel O. Ruth and Irene Paddock. The teachers in the district schools were as follows: No. 2 (the Blachly school), Frank Peregrine; No. 4 (the Peck school), Mary Conrick; No. 5 (Graves), Martha Marquart; No. 6 (Foster), Mary Cronacan; No. 7 (Gordon), Elsie Ditlow; No. 8 (Cherry Glen), Lura Conrick; No. 10 (Spafford), Anna Ehlers.
A Sunday school was started in Portage township, just across the line, in 1838, Benson and Ira G. Harris, two residents of Union, being active participants in its organization, and a majority of the attendants came from Union township. Alpheus French, a Baptist minister, held services in a grove at Blachly's Corners in the spring of 1836, and this was probably the first sermon preached in the township. Rev. Jacob Colclasier, a Methodist missionary, also held services in the township at an early date, and conducted the first quarterly meeting in January, 1840. (See the chapter on Religious History.)
In the matter of public highways Union township is among the most progressive in the county, having nearly thirty miles of fine, macadamized road. Several lines of railroad cross the township in various directions. The Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago crosses the northeast corner, passing through Wheeler; the Grand Trunk runs east and west through the central portion, and the Chesapeake & Ohio touches the southwest corner. Wheeler is the only village of importance in the township. It was laid out in 1858, when the railroad went through, by Thomas A. E. Campbell, who owned the land upon which the village is situated. The first business building was that afterward occupied by Siglar Bros. with a stock of goods, the second was the hotel called the Wheeler House, and the third was used as a saloon by Carroll and Harner. George Longshore was the first postmaster. At the present time Wheeler has a population of about 200, ,three general stores, a telephone exchange, a Methodist church, lodges of Odd Fellows and Foresters, a feed mill, and a money order postoffice, the only postoffice in the township. On the Grand Trunk is a small station called Sedley, which was formerly a postoffice, but which was discontinued upon the introduction of the free rural delivery system. Some of the maps show a place called Spriggsboro on the line between Union and Center townships, but the name does not appear on the railroad time-tables nor in the United States postoffice guide, and no official plat of the town was ever recorded.
The population of Union has had its "ups and downs" almost from the organization of the township. In 1860 it was 867; in 1870 it had increased to 1,057; ten years later it was 1,054; in 1890 it had decreased to 985; a further decrease followed during the next decade, the population in 1900 being only 938; then came a substantial gain, and in 1910 it was 1,069, the highest in its history.
Washington township, in the middle
of the eastern tier, was created by the board of county commissioners on April
12, 1836. Several changes
have been made in the western boundary, but the township of the present day has the original boundary lines as established when it was first erected. It is bounded on the north by Jackson township; on the east by Laporte county; on the south by the township of Morgan, and on the west by Center. Its area is thirty square miles, being five miles in extent from east to west and six miles from north to south. The surface of the township is affected by the great glacial moraine which passes through the central portion of the county, and is generally undulating in character. Crooked creek, which is the outlet of Flint lake, enters near the northwest corner and flows southeast to section 23, township 35, range 5, where it turns almost due south, crossing the southern border about two miles west of the Laporte county line. This stream has two small tributaries in the northeastern part, so that the township is well watered and well adapted to grazing and stock raising. The soil is similar to that of the surrounding townships, being composed principally of clay and loam sandy in places, and marshy in a few localities. Some of the best farms in the county are upon the Morgan prairie, where the first settlements in the county were made.
William Morgan is credited with being the first settler. He came from Wayne county, Ohio in the spring of 1833, and located upon the northern part of the prairie that still bears his family name. Before the close of the year, Adam S. Campbell, Isaac Morgan, Rufus Van Pool and Reason Bell also settled upon the prairie. Samuel Flint took up a claim where the village of Prattville was later located, and Jacob Coleman settled about two miles south of Flint's place. In 1834 James Blair, Isaac Werninger, James Baum and a few others, among whom was Ruel Starr, who afterward became prominently identified with the county's political affairs. Other settlers were David S. Holland, Benjamin Saylor, Levi Chamberton, Seth Winslow, W. B. Smith, Michael and Andrew Ault, George B. Cline, Joseph Todd, Henry Rinker, Anthony Boggs, Robert Fleming, John Shinabarger, Peter Cline, Joseph Brewer and Clark Babcock. All these men and a few others voted at the first township election on April 30, 1836, when Henry Rinker was elected justice
of the peace, receiving twenty-three votes. W. B. Smith received twenty votes and Peter Cline, seventeen, making a total of sixty votes cast.
There were still a few Indians in Washington township when the first settlers came. Near the place where Prattville was afterward laid out there was a Pottawatomie village of 100 or more inhabitants, with a burying-ground near it. While these Indians were of some annoyance to the whites, they did not commit any serious depredations, and in 1836 they removed to another location near the Kankakee river, in the southern part of the county, where they remained until 1842, when they were removed west of the Mississippi.
The first white child born in the township was Reason Bell, Jr., a son of Reason and Sarah Bell, who had come from Wayne county, Ohio, in 1833. The date of birth of their son, who was also the first white child born in Porter county, was January 11, 1834. No record can be found to show the first death or the first marriage. The first "big" house-raising was in 1834, when some thirty settlers gathered to assist Isaac Morgan in raising a double log house on section 16, a little north of the Laporte road. The first tavern was opened in this year by David Oaks not far from Prattville. A year or so later John Shinabarger started the second tavern about a mile north of Oak's place. The first store was opened in the double log house of Isaac Morgan above referred to, late in 1834 or early in 1835. In May, 1836, Andrew Ault opened a general store about three-fourths of a mile west of Prattville. He also took out license to retail liquor, his license costing him ten dollars per annum. The first shoe shop was established in 1835 by Adam S. Campbell, who brought his leather and other materials from the state of New York. The same year Russell opened the first blacksmith shop near Prattville. The fist school was taught by Mary Hammond in the winter of 1835-36. The first school house was built the following year, and not long afterward the Luther school house was erected. Among the early teachers were Thomas Campbell, George Partial, Nancy Trim, Dr. Pagin and Lowry Hall. In 1911-12 Washington had a township high school and five district schools, in which the teachers were as follows:
High school, Elmore Perry and Mary Trudelle; District No. 3 (the Luther school), Bess Finney; No. 4 (Prattville), Gracia Green; No. 5 (Bryarly), Mariola Cornell; No. 6 (Island), Lillian Burns; No. 7 (Blake), Maude Green.
No stirring events have ever occurred in Washington township, hence its history differs very little from that of any agricultural community. The men who redeemed the soil from its wild state and brought it under cultivation cared little for the more exciting phases of life, and were content to pursue "the even tenor of their way." Their life was one of toil, sometimes privation, but it had its recompense. They saw the Indian and the wild beast disappear before the march of civilization; many of them lived to see the railroads come and place Porter county in communication with other portions of the country; their social intercourse was usually without envy or jealousy and their friendships were sincere, and they have handed down to their posterity an inheritance in which their children and their children's children may feel a just pride. As in other portions of the county, the early settlers were compelled to go to Michigan City for their supplies or to market their surplus products. The nearest grist mill was at Kingsbury, a little village about six miles southeast of Laporte, and for several years grain had to be taken there to be ground. In a few instances the pioneer farmers went nearly a hundred miles to obtain good seed for planting, yet with all these difficulties to contend with the courageous frontiersman persevered, and to him Porter county owes a debt that can never be repaid.
Washington township is crossed by four miles of railroad, all running in an easterly and westerly direction. Near the center of the township is the Grand Trunk, but there is no station on this line in Washington. The Baltimore & Ohio crosses the northeast corner. Coburg, near the northern boundary is a station on this line and a trading center for the northern part of Washington and the southern part of Jackson townships. The Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago enters at the southeast corner and runs a little north of west through Valparaiso, and the New York,
HISTORY OF PORTER COUNTY
Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate) crosses the southwest corner. The time-tables of the last named road show a small station called Nickel two miles east of Valparaiso and near the boundary line between the townships of Washington and Morgan. There are about fifteen miles of macadamized road in Washington, and as the distance to Valparaiso is not more than eight miles from any portion of the township, the people depend chiefly upon that city for their supplies. There is no postoffice in the township, but mail is distributed daily through the medium of the rural free delivery routes that traverse all parts of the county. The population in 1890 was 670; in 1900 it had fallen to 556, but during the next decade there was a substantial gain, the population in 1910 being 610.
The old town of Prattville, mentioned several times in the above sketch of Washington township, was laid out by Thomas Pratt, Wilson Malone and Lyman Beach. It occupied the east half of the northwest quarter of section 21, township 35, range 5, on the Laporte road, about two miles east of the city of Valparaiso. The plat was recorded on November 11, 1856, and a few lots were sold, but the town never became a substantial reality and the name is about all that remains.
Wilson Malone, son of Lester Malone, was born in Ross county, Ohio, June 18, 1805, and in that county came to manhood. The death of his parents in his youth left him to his own resources, and in 1826, when he was twenty-one years old, he came west, stopping in Fountain and Montgomery counties, Indiana. . On February 22, 1832, he married Sarah Swank, born in Springfield, Ohio, October 15, 1811, the daughter of Jacob Swank, an early settler in Montgomery county. In the same year of his marriage he removed to La Porte county and later came to Porter county, where he continued to reside until his death, December 22, 1876. His first earnings were invested in Porter county land; he was one of the prosperous men of his day and was the owner of more than 1,000 acres of land at the time of his death.
When the board of county
commissioners issued the order of April 12, 1836, dividing the county into ten
civil townships, the territory now comprising Westchester was included in the
townships of Lake, Liberty and Waverly. Two months later the citizens of Lake
and Waverly townships petitioned the board of county commissioners for the
consolidation of the two townships. The petition was granted and the new
township thus formed was called Westchester. As thus created, it included all
that portion of the county lying north of the line dividing township 36 and 37.
Subsequent changes were made by the erection of Pine township, and changes in
the boundaries of Liberty and Portage, until Westchester was reduced to its
present size. It is bounded on the north by Lake Michigan; on the east by Pine
and Jackson townships; on the south by the townships of Jackson, Liberty and
Portage, and on the west by Portage. Its area is about thirty-three square
miles. In the northern part are the sandhills so common along the shore of Lake
Michigan, but the central and southern portions have a more fertile soil and are
well adapted to agriculture. Originally the surface was covered with a heavy
forest growth, but the portable sawmills have used up practically all the native
timber suitable for lumber. A great deal of sand has been shipped to Chicago,
and in the vicinity of Chesterton are fine beds of clay which has been utilized
extensively in the manufacture of brick both common and pressed. These claybeds
and the sandhills are the only mineral deposits of commercial importance in the
It was in Westchester township that the first white settler in Porter county built his cabin. In 1822 Joseph Bailly located on the Calumet river, at the place later known as Bailly Town. A more complete account of Mr. Bailly and his frontier post will be found in Chapter III. In 1833 Jesse Morgan came with his family and settled in what is now Westchester. His daughter Hannah, born in February, 1834, was the first white child born in the township. In 1835 William Thomas, Sr., William Gosset, Jacob Beck, John Hageman, John Foster, William Frame and
Pressley Warnick brought their families and located in Westchester. Some of these men settled in territory afterward added to other townships and their names appear as pioneers therein. Other early settlers were Eli Hendricks, Elhanan Ranks, William Coleman, Alfred Marvin, two men named Abbott and McCoy, and a mulatto named Landy Gavin, who had purchased his freedom from slavery. The first death in the township was a son of Joseph Bailly in 1827, and the first marriage was that of Esther Bailly to Col. John H. Wistler, who came from Detroit in 1803 and erected old Fort Dearborn near the mouth of the Chicago river. Their marriage occurred in Chicago, but they later became residents of the township. The second marriage was between Samuel Thomas and Lucille Hale.
In the winter of 1833-34 a private school was taught at the home of Jesse Morgan, but the name of the teacher cannot be ascertained. Two years later a school was taught in a vacant trading post on section 5, township 36, range 5, about a mile and a half east of the present town of Chesterton. As the population increased regular school districts were organized, school houses erected and teachers employed under the public school system. In the year 1911-12 there were twenty-three teachers employed in the public schools of the township and the incorporated towns of Chesterton and Porter. Eleven of these teachers were in the commissioned high school at Chesterton, viz: F. M. Goldsborough, superintendent, Galeman Dexter, principal, Matilda Swanson, Agnes Long, Helen Miller, Etta Osborn, Jennie Crane, Dott Osborn, Agnes Morgan, Rose Murphy and Mabel Pelham. E. E. Stultz was principal of the grammar school at Porter, and his assistants were Emily Peterson, Tennia Osborn, Mary Bradt and Anna Kossakowski. Of the ten school districts at one time, three have been discontinued through consolidation, etc. The teachers in the district schools for the year 1911-12 were as follows: No. 3 (Furnessville), Edith Lindstrom; No. 4 (Waverly), Edna Doyle; there are two schools in District No. 5, that at Bailly Town taught by Emma Peterson, and the one at City West by Bertha Carlson; No. 6 (Old Porter), F. M. Wimple; No. 7 (Salt Creek), Mabel Brum-
mitt; No. 10 (Mosquito Town), oral Haslett. The school houses in all these districts are modern in their design, well equipped with working apparatus, etc., showing that the people of Westchester are not behind in their ideas pertaining to the education of their children.
The first attempt to establish a town was in the spring of 1835, when
Foster, who was a surveyor, laid out the town of Waverly on land belonging to
William Gosset about two miles northwest of the present town of Chesterton.
Several thousand dollars were expended in making improvements, but in 1838 a
forest fire destroyed the work that had been done and the town was abandoned.
City West was started about a year after Waverly. It was located near the mouth
of Fort creek and for a time promised to become a town of considerable
proportions, but a change
in the main route of travel inflicted such an injury upon the town that it sank into decay. Porter (afterward called Old Porter) was started when the Michigan Central railroad was built in the early '50s. The first house there was erected by John Richards and used for a store. The second and third were built by Frederick Michael and used for a store and dwelling, respectively. A postoffice was established at Porter soon after it came into existence and continued there until 1872, when it was removed to Hageman, which was started in that year by Henry Hageman. A new postoffice was established at Porter the following year. The two offices being only a mile apart there was considerable confusion in the distribution of mail, and the office at Hageman was officially discontinued. The present town of Porter was incorporated early in the year 1908, with a population of about 500. Furnessville, in the northeastern part, takes its name from Edwin L. Furness, who was appointed postmaster when the postoffice was established there in 1861. This place was formerly known as Murray's Side Track. No regular plat of this place was ever recorded. A Mr. Morgan built the first house there in 1853. Two years later Mr. Furness built a frame house and opened a store.
Chesterton, the largest town in the township and second largest in the county, was at first known as Coffee Creek, from the stream of that name. It is said that the creek is so called because a teamster lost a bag of coffee in it while trying to cross at a time of high water. A postoffice was established there as early as 1833 and was kept by Jesse Morgan for nearly twenty years. It was first located on section 6, southeast of the present town, and was called Coffee Creek postoffice. After several years the people grew tired of the name Coffee Creek and changed it to Calumet, after the river which flows just north of the town. When the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad was completed in 1852, the town moved northward to the railroad and by the close of that year there were some twenty or more houses in Calumet. The next year the postoffice was removed from Coffee Creek and the name changed to correspond to that of the town. In the meantime a postoffice had been established at New City West, about a mile south of the old City West, and this
office was consolidated with the one at Calumet, with D. H. Hopkins as postmaster. The first house in the present town of Chesterton was erected by Luther French in 1852 and was used for a hotel under the name of the Sieger House. The second was built by a man named Enoch. The first brick building was erected by Young & Wolf in 1874. Just when the name was changed to Chesterton is a matter of some difference of opinion. The adjutant-general's report of enlistments for service in the Civil war shows a Porter county company, most of the members of which came from Calumet, and it is probable that the name Chesterton was not adopted until during or after the war. It is said that the name was changed to avoid confusion with the town of the same name in the State of Illinois. The present name was derived from that of the township. The Northern Indiana House was built by Leroy Brown about 1855, and kept as a hotel by him for several years. In the early '50s Mr. Hopkins removed the Central Hotel from City West to Calumet, where it was remodeled and used as a house of entertainment for many years. In the early days Calumet (or Chesterton) was known as a "tough" town, having at one time nineteen saloons, though the population numbered only about 300. That has all been changed, and the Chesterton of the present is as orderly a town as there is in northern Indiana.
On March 31, 1899, a petition was filed with the board of county commissioners asking for the incorporation of Chesterton. A census taken according to law, showing 198 voters and a total population of 716. At a special meeting of the commissioners on April 24th, an election was ordered for May 4, 1899, when the people should vote on the question of incorporation. The proposition was carried by a vote of three to one, and since then Chesterton has been an incorporated town. Chesterton has a bank with a capital of $25, 000, an ice company, a telephone exchange, a number of well appointed retail stores covering all lines of merchandise, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran and Swedish Methodist and Lutheran churches, and lodges of a number of the leading secret and benevolent organizations. The population was 1,400, an
increase of 612 during the preceding ten years. (See Chapters XII and XIII for detailed accounts of fraternal organizations and churches.)
Some difficulty was encountered in the incorporation of the town of Porter. A petition was first filed with the county commissioners on August 7, 1907, but when it came for hearing on September 2nd, a number of citizens appeared and asked for the exclusion of certain territory. The board dismissed the petition, chiefly on the grounds that the petition had filed no bond. On October 7th a new petition, accompanied by a satisfactory bond, was filed with the board, but again the remonstrators appeared and succeeded in defeating the project to incorporate. The petitioners then appealed to the circuit court, which tribunal ordered an amended plat, excluding the territory in question, and the matter was then referred back to the commissioners, who ordered an election to be held on the last day of February, 1908, when the people might vote on the question of incorporation. At that election eighty-three votes were cast in favor of the proposition, and only eighteen in the negative. Porter has one Congregational and three Lutheran churches, a commercial club, a large department store and several other mercantile establishments, and in 1910 reported a population of 524.
Westchester township is well supplied with railroads. The Michigan Central, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, and the Pere Marquette all center at Chesterton and Porter, the Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend electric line passes through the northern part, and another electric line connects Chesterton with Valparaiso. West of Chesterton there is a place marked "Gilbertville" on some of the maps, but no official plat of the town was ever filed in the office of the county recorder. There are about thirty miles of macadamized road in the township.
In 1890 the population of the township was 2,669. During the next ten years it decreased to 2,455, but since 1900 there has been a marked increase, and in 1910 it was 2,953, a gain of almost 500 during the decade.
1912 HISTORY OF PORTER COUNTY
CHAPTER I - General Features
CHAPTER II - Aboriginal Inhabitants
CHAPTER III - Settlement and Organization
CHAPTER IV - Internal Improvements
CHAPTER V - Educational Developments
CHAPTER VI - Military History
CHAPTER VII - Township History
CHAPTER VIII - Township History (continued)
CHAPTER IX - The City of Valparaiso
CHAPTER X - Financial and Industrial
CHAPTER XI - The Professions
CHAPTER XII - Societies and Fraternities
CHAPTER XIII - Religious History
CHAPTER XIV - Miscellaneous History
CHAPTER XV - Statistical Review
Transcribed by Steven R. Shook, November 2011