1882 COUNTIES OF
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL
Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
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
The Wolcottville Seminary-Miss Susan Griggs-Education and Religion.
In about the year 1851, Mr.
Wolcott disposed of his various industrial pursuits, McMeans &
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
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,
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,
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:
William Myers, William Guiser, G. Miller, N.
Nunun, C. Hulbert. The present officers are:
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
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
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.
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,
Pierce, Dyer, Hovey, Lampson,
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,
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,
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
the winter of 1840-41, this lady taught in a building belonging to
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
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.
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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,
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 Shafer, D. Smith,
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
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
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
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,
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.
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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