1882 COUNTIES OF 
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL

Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
 

JOHNSON TOWNSHIP
Part 2
By: Weston A. Goodspeed

 Johnson Township-The Earliest Settlers-The First Election-The Tamarack-Wright's Corners and
Valentine-Incidents and Adventures-Rise and Subsequent Growth of Wolcottville-Industrial interests-
The Wolcottville Seminary-Miss Susan Griggs-Education and Religion.

        In about the year 1851, Mr. Wolcott disposed of his various industrial pursuits, McMeans & Weston
it is said, buying the mills and perhaps other property. After a few years, these men sold out to Wilbur & Hitchcock, who owned the mills until 1860, when they were purchased by Taylor & Wildman. In 1866, they went to other parties. Among the industries that have flourished in the village are the following: A rake factory, owned and operated by Alvin Hamlin. He continued the occupation about ten years, and turned out no small number of implements. A tannery, owned by Anthony Watson, which was conducted some ten years. In about the year 1855,  E. Bunce built a foundry, and commenced the manufacture of plows, scrapers, kettles, machine-casings, etc. The industry was continued about fifteen years, passing through the hands of  Paulus & Ewing, Higgins & Harnes, Mr. Hutchins, and at last, to Mr. Cochran, in whose possession it was 
abandoned. A few years ago, Ed Harding built a new foundry, which is being conducted by him at present.
Moon & Rogers are the present proprietors of a carriage factory. It was first established some eight or ten 
years ago, and some changes in the ownership have since been made. Some ten or twelve years ago, Paulus &  Yeager built a planing-mill. It is now owned by Paulus & Nichols. Doors, blinds, sash, etc. etc, are manufactured. Mr. Haley owns a cooper shop.

     L. L. Wildman opened the second store in 1849. He had previously been in business at Wright's Corners.
He began with about $3,000 worth of goods, and continued merchandising some sixteen years, having associated with him at different times: William Taylor, Mr. Law, O. B. Taylor and others. He was a member of the excellent firm of  O. B. Taylor & Co., that continued about seven years; also of the firm Taylor & Wildman. H. L. Taylor was associated in the partner-ship of O. B. & H .L. Taylor. Considerable money was made during 
the war by these men. Taylor and Woodruff were mechants for a few years at the close of the war. Mr. 
Wildman went into the hardware business in 1867. More of this may be learned by asking him. In 1873, he 
began a private banking business under the name Wildman's Exchange Bank, the same being continued until 
the present. There are now in Wolcottville three dry goods stores, one grocery, three drug stores, one hardware store, one stove and tinware establishment, two milliners, one art gallery, one harness shop, one furniture shop, etc., etc. The estimated population, decennially, is as follows: In 1840, 20; in 1850, 100;  in 1860, 300;  in 1870, 450;  in 1880, 500. Wolcottville is one of  the liveliest business points of the size in the state. This is given on the authority of commercial travelers who ought to know.

     Dr. Leonard Barber, who resided at Northport in Noble County, was the first physician to administer to the bodily ills of the citizens of Wolcottville. Dr. Myers was perhaps the first resident physician. Others have been Eno, Chappell, Gower, White, Raby, Scoville, Shepard and others. Lawyers have lately dared the frowns of the villagers by hanging out their signs. An Odd Fellow's Lodge was instituted May 10, 1875, with the following charter members: A. Axel, M. Westler, W. H. Rodgers, L. D. McGowen, A. Blackman, J. White, N. M. Bassett, E. Bryan, J. L. McQueen, J. Bally and E. Blodget. The present membership is about twenty-seven. The lodge is out of debt, and has about $500 worth of property, but has no hall. The present officers are: M. Westler, N. G.; D. Whitmer, V. G.; E. Stanbaugh, Treasurer; W. H. Rodgers, Secretary. The Masons also have a lodge, which was instituted in May, 1868, with the following charter members: A. Eminger, William Myers, William  Guiser, G. Miller, N. Nunun, C. Hulbert. The present officers are: John Grannis, W. M.;
William Culver, S. W.; George Nunun, J. W.; O. B. Taylor, Treasurer; W. H. Rodgers, Secretary. The 
lodge is out of debt and in good financial condition. Present membership is about forty-two.

     In about 1839, Mr. Sabin built a dam and saw-mill on the river a short distance west of  Wolcottville. A few years later, he sold out to Dr. Leonard Barber, who operated it successfully for a long period. At last it went to Andrew Ponty, thence to John Swain, thence to Aaron Kimmell, thence to Horace Hamlin.

     Wolcottville was laid out into thirty-three lots and recorded in October, 1849.

     In 1880, there were living in the township the following persons over seventy-five years of age: Gideon B. Johnson, seventy-five; William Ryan, eighty-eight; George Meeker, seventy-seven; Luke Briggs, seventy-eight; William Loret, eighty-one; John Martin, seventy-nine; Nathaniel W. Bates, seventy-eight; Tempy Olenhouse, eighty-five. Mary
Wolcott, seventy-six.

     Where the first school in the township was taught is not clear, but was, most probably, at Wright's Corners.
A log schoolhouse was erected there at a very early day, and used until not far from 1848, when a small frame structure took its place. This was used until after the last war, when another frame was built, but this house, in a few years, became too small to hold comfortably all the scholars, and, at last, in 1878, the present fine two-
storied brick building was constructed at a cost of over $2,000. Two teachers are now employed. The evidence seems to show that the first school was taught at the corners as early as 1836, although it might have been a year later,or, as Mrs.(Wright) Vaughan thinks, a year earlier. The first school is remembered as being very insignificant, and it is to be presumed that very little was learned save mischief. In 1838, Mr. Barns, who lived a short distance north of Wolcottville, built a log barn, in which his daughter taught during the summer of the same year. Wolcott, Taylor, Culver, Lampson, Nichols and others sent to her. No other term was taught there, as 
at its close the house was occupied by Mr. Barn's domestic animals. In about the year 1839, a log schoolhouse was built a half mile north of  Wolcottville, or one mile north of the township line. Ozias Wright taught the first term in this house the same year. After a few years, the building was destroyed by fire, and another was built in 
its place, which was used until the Seminary was erected. Several early terms were taught in a house belonging to Mr. Wolcott, Volucia Brown being one of the teachers. In 1838, a log schoolhouse was erected half a mile 
south of  Wolcottville. Levi L. Wildman became the first pedagogue, receiving $10 per month and "boarding round". McQueen, Nichols, Pierce, Dyer, Hovey, Lampson, Munger, Cunningham, Greenman, Taylor,
and perhaps others, sent children to him. No schoolhouse was built in Wolcottville until several years before the Seminary was abandoned. At that time a frame house was built and used until the present ample, two-storied 
frame house was erected some ten years ago at a cost of about $2,800, under a contract with Henry Haller. Frank P. Taylor is the present Principal, and has two assistants. In about the year 1841, a log schoolhouse was erected one mile north of the Tamarack. Among those who sent their children here Jeremiah Bidwell,
Phineas Tillotson, George Meeker, Daniel Lewis, Henry Miller, Robert Meeker, Oliver Osborn and others. After five or six years of use, this house was abandoned, and a frame was built at the same place, which was burned down two years later and replaced with another, which lasted until the present brick house was erected in 1881. A log schoolhouse was erected at Valentine, not far from 1840, Thomas Oliver furnishing a portion of the lumber, and Abraham Eiman making the shingles. Hiram Gardner helped build the house.
Elmira Crandall was one of the first teachers, her term being the winter of 1842-43. She boarded at Hiram Gardner's, paying two bushels of corn per week for her board. This house was used until about 1848. A log dwelling on the Schoonover farm was devoted to uses of education after that, but was finally destroyed by fire about twenty-five years ago, when the present small frame was built. Since the village of Valentine has sprung up 
with an increase of families to send to school, the house has become too small to properly accommodate the children. A new and larger house should be built without delay. A log schoolhouse was built near Mr. Dickinson's, or near Mr. Koon's, in 1841. Lucretia Crandall, now the wife of Hiram Gardner, was the first teacher, most probably. She taught during the summer of that year, and was paid ten shillings per week. During 
the winter of 1840-41, this lady taught in a building belonging to Almon White, and was paid twelve shillings per
week. The school building north of Oliver Lake was erected some twenty years ago, Benjamin Williams being the first teacher. A log buiding in the northeastern part, on A. J. Rayer's farm, was devoted to school purposes 
as early as 1842. It was probably used until a schoolhouse was constructed about six years later. The present country schools are above the average.

     The most important school in the township, and one of the most important in the county, was the "Wolcottville Seminary." In 1851, ex-Gov. Slade of Vermont was President of the National Board of Education. The 
Protestant denominations in the East saw, with concern, that the Roman Catholics, with greater religious 
enterprise, were sending teachers out into the backwoods, and were founding many Catholic schools and 
churches in the great West. This led to the creation of the above mentioned Board of Education, a Protestant organization, whose object was the establishment of  Protestant schools and churches in the backwoods. This led to a strong demand for Christian workers who were willing to take their chances in the rapidly growing West.
About this time, also, Mr. Wolcott became dissatisfied, for some reason, with the schools in his vicinity, whereupon he wrote to ex-Gov. Slade, asking that a thoroughly competent Christian teacher be sent out to Wolcottville, to labor as a governess in his family until some arrangement could be made for her in a public school. It had entered Mr. Wolcott's mind to build a seminary at Wolcottville. Ex-Gov. Slade promptly sent out Miss Susan Griggs, a very earnest, true-hearted Christian lady. She was immediatly employed as governess in Mr. Wolcott's family at a salary of $250 per year, and, to commence with, had but one scholar. Miss Griggs
reached Wolcottville and began her labors in October, 1851. Her presence at the village was soon known, and several citizens asked that she might teach their children. A house belonging to Mr. Wolcott was fitted up for her, in which she taught during the winter of 1851-52, having twelve scholars. She also taught in this house the 
following summer, having thirty scholars. During the summer of 1852, Mr. Wolcott, at an expense of over 
$3,000, erected the Seminary building, and also a large frame structure in which students might find rooms while attending the school. In November, 1852, school in the Seminary was begun. A tuition of $3.50 was asked for 
the term of eleven weeks, and if Latin, French, German, painting in oil or music were desired, extra tuition must be paid. About fifty students were in attendance during the winter. Miss Eliza Dudley, of York State, was 
employed as assistant. Miss Griggs was to have all she could realize from the school tuition, and was required 
to keep the buildings in repair. The doors of the Seminary were thrown open to young men, although the school was originally designed for females alone. Here it was that Miss Griggs, for seventeen long years, labored in the field she had chosen. Sometimes she had enrolled as high as 115 students, the average being about 
sixty-five for the entire period. Sometimes two assistants were required. Diplomas were not granted. The 
Seminary was not denominational, though Christian exercises were regularly held. A catalogue was published,
and perhaps two-thirds of the students came from abroad. The effect of the school upon the neighborhood was soon seen. Education and intelligence were at a premium, and Wolcottville acquired fame over a large section 
of country for its thrift, brightness and general excellence. Too much cannot be said in praise of Miss Griggs
She gave herself no relaxation from labor, and, as a necessary consequence, lost her health in 1869, and was compelled to sever her connection with the Seminary, greatly to her regret. A Sunday school was organized in the Seminary in 1852, under the superintendence of  Miss Griggs, and continued through the years until school
there ended. Miss Griggs was Superintendent for thirteen consecutive years. Through her earnest determination alone, the Sunday school not only lived, but greatly prospered, with an average attendance of about fifty. Miss Griggs has shown a heart and character extremely rare in this gilded age of money-making and sordid selfishness. The best years of her life have been spent in self-denial, charity, humanity, and pure womanly work. Her health
has been sacrificed, her means employed, and her life dedicated to the struggle of widening the sphere of 
Christian intelligence and human happiness. True as a magnet to her life duties, she has beaten down all obstacles, and inspired those around her with the enjoyment of noble endeavor. In view of her long years of labor at the village, how scores have been made happier by her, how hundreds have gone out from her instruction with truer
ideas of life and its duties, how patient self-denial and faith in God have been the watchwords of this noble 
woman, it is unquestionably due her from the citizens that her declining years be rendered free from the bitterness of poverty and thanklessness. And the part borne by Mr. Wolcott, does not that deserve recognition? All the expense of  erecting the buildings was sustained by him. In one year he paid as high as $75. tuition, when, under the contract of Miss Griggs, his children were to receive instruction free of charge. Lack of generosity was not one of his faults.

     The Evangelical Lutheran society, which has a frame church on Section 15, was organized in 1856 by Rev. J. G. Biddle. During the winter of 1856-57, a memorable revival was conducted by Rev. Biddle. Among the 
early members were Elias Plank and wife, Mrs. Mariah Teeter, Michael Hoff and wife, Tobias Aichele
and wife, Mr. Alspaugh and wife, Daniel Holsinger and wife, and others. In 1858, the membership was
about fifty. The pastors after Rev. Biddle have been A. J. Kromer, W. Waltman, Jabez ShaferD. Smith, Leander Kiser, and at present, L. Rice. The church was erected in 1860, and cost about $1,600. The society has preaching every two weeks. Sunday school has been had occassionally. In 1840, a Methodist Episcopal society was organized near Valentine, by John and Abraham Rowe. Among the early members were the 
Rowes, the Brundages, the Flints, the Braytons and others. For a time they met in John Rowe's house;
but later, schoolhouses were used. The society has lived until the present. It has now a fine brick church at Valentine, erected last year at a cost of about $3,000. The Albrights effected an organization at Wright's 
Corners about the close of the last war. Their fine church was erected twelve or thriteen years ago. The society 
is prosperous. In July, 1837, the following persons organized a Baptist society at Wolcottville: Samuel Barnes and wife, Almon White and wife, Dr. Perkins and wife, D. A. Munger and wife, Nancy Dickinson, Julia 
A. Pierce and Sister Sawyer. Elder McMack presided, and L. M. Chont acted as clerk. Elder Burroughs became the first pastor, continuing until 1845, when Elder C. H. Blanchard succeeded him, giving the society 
half his time. Elder Blanchard has been with the society the greater portion of the time since. In 1843, a log meeting house was built one-half mile south of the village, and used until 1851, when the frame church was 
erected at Wolcottville. In 1844, the Sunday school was organized. The Methodists effected an organization at Woclttville in 1839, under the ministrations of Revs. Posey and Allen. The society started with but four 
members, A. Witter, Mrs. Witter, Kizziah Nichols, and another whose name is not remembered. 
Schoolhouses and dwellings were the first meeting houses. A building owned by Ozias Wright was used several years. The society became quite strong in 1844; but, in 1858, had weakened until only seven persons belonged -seven women - as follows: Susan Griggs, Mary A. Taylor, Melinda Strayer, Mrs. Strayor, and three
others. The society got its first real start from a revival held in the Seminary building by Rev. D. P. Hartman, at which time some thirty persons became members. About as many more joined at the time of a revival held by 
Rev. William Van Slack. Meetings were held in the Seminary until 1874, at which time the church was built 
at a cost of about $3,000. As stated above, Miss Griggs conducted the Sunday school for years, but was finally
succeeded by Mr. Cutler. The society is now strong and prosperous. Posey and Allen organized a Methodist society at the Tamarack in 1840. There were some eight members at first. In 1852, a small frame church was 
built, and was occupied by the society until about ten years ago, since which time the membership has been so small that but few meetings have been held. The church is at present used to hold funerals in, there being a cemetery near it. Other small religious societies have flourished in the township at different times
 
 


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

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