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
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
("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