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John H. Oberlin. The Oberlins are a family that have been rather numerous and prominent in DeKalb County for over seventy years. Mr. John H. Oberlin, who was born in DeKalb County, has spent the greater part of his active career in Steuben County, and beginning life as a renter followed farming successively and aggressively for many years and is now enjoying a well earned retirement at Hamilton.

He was born in Franklin Township of DeKalb County May i, 1854, son of John and Rachel (Duck) Oberlin. His father settled in DeKalb County in pioneer times, developing a tract of wild land, and later moved to Butler, where he exercised his trade as a tanner by establishing a tannery. He died in 1863. In religion he was a Methodist. He was the father of a large family of children, named William, Fred, Philip, Hiram, Elijah, Benjamin, Joseph, Daniel, Orlando, Mary, Lucinda, Sarah, Hannah and John H.

John H. Oberlin, who was only nine years old when his father died, attended public school in Otsego Township, also a school at Butler, and as he inherited nothing except good character and a tendency to industry, he started out as a young man to make his own way in the world. He worked as a farm hand, and on January 23, 1881, when still possessed of little capital, he married Minerva J. Wilson, daughter of Alexander and Mary J. Wilson. They established their first home on a rented farm in Otsego Township, lived there three years, then in Richland Township four years, and in 1888 Mr. Oberlin took possession of the County Farm and lived there three years. In 1891. having in ten years acquired some capital, he bought eighty acres in Otsego Township and followed an uninterrupted career of industry and productive labor on that farm for twenty-five years. In the spring of 1916 he left the farm and has since lived in Hamilton.

Mr. and Mrs. Oberlin became the parents of four children : Edgar, who married Grace Hunt ; Edna May, wife of Benjamin Taylor; Hiram W., who married Hertha Weaver; and Ethel, wife of Fred Haines. The mother of these children died November 20, 1913. In February, 1916, he married Rhoda (Martin) Houlton, daughter of Henry and Catherine (Davis) Martin. Her father was a soldier in the Civil war. Rhoda Martin was first married to Lewis Houlton, of Franklin Township, DeKalb County. The family are conspicuous as being the very first family to settle in DeKalb County, locating there in 1831. A number of references are found to them in the pages of this publication. Mrs. Oberlin has in her possession the first deed given for land in DeKalb County. It was written on parchment and is signed by Andrew Jackson, President of the United States. Mrs. Oberlin by her marriage to Lewis Houlton had three children: Vern, who married Rosa Mills; Firm; and Leland, who married Jessie Hathaway. Mrs. Oberlin is a member of the Christian Church and her husband is a Methodist. He is affiliated with the Masonic Lodge and Knights of Pythias. From 1908 to 1918 he served as assessor of Otsego Township.

("History of Northeast Indiana: LaGrange, Steuben, Noble and DeKalb Counties," Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, 1920)

This website created October 17, 2011 by Sheryl McClure.
Indiana American History and Genealogy Project