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Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882


By: R.H. Rerick

Clearspring Township- Introductory-Topography-Early Appearance of the Country-The Coming
   of the Pioneer-The Settler's Home-Rollings and Raisings-Industrial
   Development-Incidents and Statistics-The Teacher and the Preacher.

      The Justices since then, as far as the county records show, have been:William Harding, 1839-49; John Strang, 1843-48; Hawley Peck, 1848-51; William D. Sloan, 1849-50; William H. H. Aldrich, 1850-52;
John Strang, 1851-55; Nathan P. Osburn, 1852-56; William Price, 1856-60; John L. Strang, 1860-64; William Yarwood, 1865-73; Orvin Kent, 1867-71; Willard Hervey, 1871-75; James Chandler, 1873-77; Thomas H. Low, 1875-79; James Chandler, 1877-81; Norman Babcock, 1879. The records of the 
township were kept on papers or memorandum books until 1844, when the Trustees made an appropriation for
record books and for copying the old records. But the records, notwithstanding this provision, are not to be 
found for any earlier year than 1842. The place of election was then still at the house of Elijah Pixley. The spring election of that year resulted in the choice of Elijah Osborn, William Dallas and John Strang, as Trustees;
N. P. Osborn, Clerk, and Anson Lewis and Caleb Strang, Constables. At that time, there were three Trustees.
In 1845, William Dallas,William Harding and Benjamin Chandler were elected; in 1846, Chandler
Charles Roy and Amos Newhouse; in 1848, Chandler, Roy and E. Osborn; in 1850, William Baxter, Charles Roy and John Kitchen; in 1852, Baxter, Kitchen and W. D. Sloan; in 1854, Charles G. Doty, Erastus Nelson and John Tumbleson. At the spring election of next year, but one Trustee was elected, and 
this has been the rule. The Trustees since have been: Schuyler Nelson, 1855; John Kitchen, Sr., 1859; Schuyler Nelson, 1862; John Kitchen, Sr.,1863; Joel Miller, 1864; Christopher Hooley, 1865; Erastus Nelson, 1870; John Greenawalt, 1876; John Price, 1880. Among the early Clerks were W. H. H. Aldridge,
in 1846; William H. Price, who still lives in the township with his son, the present Trustee, and Richard Green
a popular, but rather eccentric old settler, who for many years constituted the "Anti-Masonic party" in  the county. The place of election was in 1842 removed to the house of Nathan Bishop; in 1845, to Charles Roy's, and about 1854 to the Bishop Schoolhouse.

     At the taking of the 1880 census, the returns for the township show that the following named persons, residents thereof, were of  the age set opposite their names, the object being to show those who have attained the age of seventy-five or over, viz.: Robert Bishop, seventy-nine; Sarah Misner, seventy-five; Eliza Parks, seventy-five; Samuel Smith, seventy-five; Benjamin Wortinger, seventy-five; Charles S. Sperling, eighty-eight.

     In 1846, Hawley Peck began the growing of mint and manufacture of oil, which became quite an industry in the township. The oil was canned and shipped to the East, or sold to buyers who would collect it, and found a ready sale at prices varying from $1.25 to $5 per pound. Several persons engaged in mint raising, Charles Roy and Erastus Nelson being among the earliest and most extensive growers. The annual production varied in 
value between $5,000 and $10,000, until within the last few years, when the industry has been discontinued.

     Before 1850, there was serious talk of running the road now called the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Air Line, through the southern part of the township. A line was surveyed, and there were positive assurances of the building of the road through Clearspring, which induced the hope of a speedy rise in the value of real estate, and the growth of a flourishing town on the site of  "Slabtown." Years after, when the road was finally built the superior persuasive powers of the land owners of the little village of Kendaville led the engineers to adopt a more southern route, and Clearspring's first hope of being on an east and west iron line was blasted. But it was through no fault 
of the early settlers, who did their best to secure the road, and were at one time positively assured of it.

     As there has never been a village in the township, the business history is very light. The first store was kept by the Cummings family, south of "Slabtown," upon the Eden town line, and Timothy Hudson, Jr., afterward kept 
a store at his house in Clearspring, in connection with the saw-mill and tannery. The first brick yard was on Harrison Smith's land, on "Jordan Street," and two are now in operation, by B. F. Ditman and Henry J. 

     In 1873, there were two granges of the Patrons of Husbandry organized in the township. One, the Clearspring Grange, met at Pixley's Schoolhouse, and had at one time forty members. The Worthy Master was John Gillette, and Secretary, Ira Ford. The Dallas Grange met at Curl's; Ichabod Jones was the first presiding officer. These associations survived until 1880. This movement met with greater encouragement in this township and Eden 
than in any other part of the county.

     The numerous narrow trails of the Indians were the first roads of the settlers, but steps were soon taken to make highways. Anthony Nelson was at one time notified of his appointment as Road Supervisor, and promptly mustered his forces and went to work, camping out nights until his job was completed. His road district extended from Lima to Ligonier. Elijah Pixley was one of the earliest Supervisors, and built the road running east from Sycamore Corners in 1835-36. Orvin Kent, not at that time a permanent resident in the township, but who later became one of the most influential men of Clearspring, was that year upon his land, and was called upon to assist on this road. This was the first road in the township, and formed part of the Haw Patch, or Ligonier road.

     In 1842, the township was divided into four road districts, which increased to eleven in 1846, and now 
number fifteen. The roads are generally good ones, and kept in excellent condition. In 1872, there was an
excellent prospect for the building of the Chicago & Canada Southern road through the south of the township. It was, in fact,a sure thing. But the panic of 1873 came, and Clearspring is still without a railroad.

     The first school in the town was held in a little log house on Charles Roy's land, southwest of Clearspring, in the fall of 1839. The teacher was Miss Anna Maria Crosby (daughter of Simeon C.),who married Samuel Dallas in 1841. The pioneer schoolma'am then, dressed in homespun linsey-woolsey, teaching in a log house, twelve feet square, for $1.25 per week, was in great contrast, as to her surroundings and facilities, with the 
teacher of modern days in the comfortable buildings which dot the township over. But in earnest teaching and real success in their work, the first school teachers need fear nothing from a contrast with the modern "educator."  The text-books which the boys and girls of that day used were mainly Webster's Speller, the New Testament and the Old English Reader. This log building which has now disappeared, had been Mr. Roy's first house, and besides 
serving as an educational institution, also afforded a temporary shelter for many poor pioneers until they could 
build log cabins of their own. In 1840, two schoolhouses were built of logs, one at Hervey's Corners, by Willard Hervey, and the other at Hiram Taylor's, and the township was divided into two school districts. The first teacher at the Hervey Schoolhouse was Joseph Miller. The building of schoolhouses, at this early day, by levies
of school tax, was too slow a method, and in 1855, the citizens were granted the privilege of building and 
repairing schoolhouses with the right of having credit for the same on their subsequent taxes. Soon after, one district agreed, as the record runs, "nem.con. to build a hewed log house, 18x20."  In 1841, the township, divided by sections, included only seven districts, but the schools were not crowded, as the enumeration four years later
shows but fifty-two school children in the township. One of the earliest schoolhouses was Pixley's, about 1850,
on Section 28, and was built by that neighborhood. The old log house was replaced by a frame in 1861. In 1856, the house at Hiram Taylor's was rebuilt. In 1849, Orvin Kent deeded land for the site of the Sycamore Schoolhouse, so called on account of a tall Sycamore at the corners; this school district was formed through the efforts of Orvin Kent and others, and includes territory in Eden and Clearspring. A new schoolhouse was
built further east in 1870; on the same section stands the Walnut Schoolhouse, with the 
Walnuts still there, built in 1861. The "Jordan" Schoolhouse, built in 1860, and the Wertinger, in 1863, are still in use. A log schoolhouse was erected on Nathan Bishop's land, on the east line of Section 22, in 1850, which has since disappeared, being replaced by the Sloan house in 1860, a short distance north. Near this schoolhouse lies the old burying-ground, started before 1850, now known as Sloan's. The Hackenburg or Red Schoolhouse, dates back to 1865, and Harris' to about the same year. The first brick schoolhouse was the Chandler, built in 1877. Another one has just been completed, in the same quarter, called Streeter's, which takes the place of the old Curl Schoolhouse, which was first built about 1841. According to the latest statistics, the township has 351 pupils,
who are instructed in twelve schoolhouses. The average length of school is 140 days. The revenue of last year 
was $4,969.67, and the value of school buildings is $5,000.

     The earliest preacher, Nathan Bishop, has already been spoken of. The first society to be organized in the township was one of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which held its meetings at Swank's house, over the line in Noble County. Among the members of this little congregation were Elijah Pixley, Mark Kinnison, Mrs.Ruth Ray and Henderson Potts. Rev. James Latta, of the Haw Patch, was the organizer. The famous itinerants, Posey and Allen, had preached here before the society was formed, and paved the way for it. This society soon died out, and was succeeded in that neighborhood by a Methodist Protestant Church, meeting at Hervey's (or Ray's) Schoolhouse. The first quarterly meeting was held here February 15, 1845, when Willard Hervey was licensed as an exhorter. Rev. Beardsley was the pastor in charge at this time, and this was one of the 
societies in the Goshen Circuit. A church of the same denomination was organized at the Taylor Schoolhouse in 1851. There was also a Methodist society meeting at John Hammond's on the Clay town line, which was preached to by William Connelly and James Latta.

     Of late years, an Amish organization has been formed in the northwest part of the township, which has its meetings by appointment at convenient places among its members. The church of the "Best Endeavor"  is one of the most recent religious organizations. This somewhat familiar title attaches to the congregation formerly meeting 
in the Pixley Schoolhouse, and now in the Beulah Church, and for several years addressed by Rev. John Paul Jones, of LaGrange. It is quite unsectarian in character. The origin of the church building is quite interesting. The land upon which it stands was deeded by John Greenawalt to the Evangelical Union Mennonites, to be used by them, but to be free for other churches, and after their disuse of it, to go any other Christian organization under the
same conditions. Here a handsome brick church was built, principally by popular subscription, and was dedicated May 8, 1881, the services being conducted by Rev. J. P. Jones, assisted by Revs. D. Brenneman and 
Thomas H. Low. The building is,  in dimensions, 32x54, is furnished with comfortable seats, and cost $3,000.
The erection of this church is in great part due to the efforts of  Thomas H. Low, formerly a minister in the Mennonite Church. This society was organized in 1867, by Elder John Krupp, with thirty members, and held its early meetings at the Walnut Schoolhouse.

     The township, as a whole, does not make a proper showing in the way of churches. The fact is that on every side there are churches just outside the township limits, which draw much of their attendance from Clearspring,
and this explains a fact which might tend against the fame of a people who are, as a whole, industrious, religious and public-spirited.

Volunteer transcription by Pati Blowers May. Material for transcription gathered by Barbara Henderson.

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