1882 COUNTIES OF
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL
Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
Town of LaGrange
By John Paul Jones
Town of LaGrange-(Part 1) First Plat-Early Residents-The County
Seat Question-Appearance Of
The Village Thirty-Eight Years Ago-(Part 2) Former Mercantile
and Developement-Industrial Enterprises-(Part 3) Secret Societies-Present
(Part 4) Outline Sketch of Religious and Educational Interests-Cemetery.
The contract for building the new courthouse had been let by the
Board of Commissioners to Francis F.
Jewett, of Lima, and work was formally begun on its erection
in 1842. The building was to be a two-story frame, with a court room, jury
rooms, and rooms for the several county officers. Mr. Jewett pushed
the work with vigor, and completed it December 5, 1843; the cost was $8,000.,
and the structure was considered a fine one for
those primitive times. As was the case elsewhere in the county, the
pioneer suffered greatly from chills and fever,
and as quinine was a scarce article, they had to resort to such means
for relief as could be obtained from barks
and herbs, the natural products of the soil.
Following the erection of the first two log
houses, came other settlers to locate in the new town and build likewise,
though the growth was slow for a period. The first two frame dwelling houses
were built by Peter H. Fox and George Hopkins. The first
one continued in existence until about two years ago, when it was torn
give place to the commodious and elegant structure, now the residence
of Thomas H. Sefton. The other
formed a part of the residence of M. L. Punches, and was
destroyed by fire. Mr. Hopkins was a carpenter and joiner by trade,
and came from Medina County, Ohio, in 1843. He sold this property after
two years to Solomon Shattuck, who was the first village blacksmith.
McClasky and family came from Ohio in 1843. He was
the first boot and shoemaker, and built the third log house on the
lot now owned by George P. Robinson, and on which is situated his
fine brick residence. A few other small dwellings were erected during this
season. The locating of the county seat here and the completion of the
new courthouse, fixed the destiny of the embryo town. In 1844,
the county officers having been removed from Lima, and the courts holding
their sessions here, gave an impetus to the village and caused it to improve
rapidly. Simon M. Cutler, who had been elected County Auditor, built
the house now owned by Mrs. Will, opposite of the Methodist Church.
A. Bartlett, County Treasurer, put
up the house on the next lot north, now owned by Jacob M. Church.
Kromer and Andrew Ellison built
the houses which were recently removed for the purpose of enlarging
the court house square. They occupied a
strip of ground west of the courthouse, with a narrow street or lane
running between the two. The county
purchased this property, vacated the street, and inclosed the land
with the courthouse grounds, thereby increasing the width to 280 1/2 feet,
corresponding to the width north and south, and thus separating it from
contiguous property, and lending symmetry and beauty to the whole surrounding.
B. Holmes built a residence
on Detroit street. Peter L. Mason put up a double log house
on the lot now occupied by the Presbyterian Church. The south part of the
American House, which was the first hotel building in the place, was put
up this year by Frederick Hamilton, who became the first "mine host"
to cater to the comfort of the traveling public; at the same time being
Sheriff, he performed double duty, that of looking after the security of
the unruly guests of the county.
This building occupied the northeast corner of Detroit and Michigan
streets, now the vacant corner lot to the northeast of the courthouse square.
The American House was destroyed by fire in 1874. The once famous Boyd
House, built by William S. Boyd, and used as a hotel and for stores
and dwellings, for a number of years, was situated opposite the court house,
to the east, on Detroit street. This was, in its day, by common selection,
the headquarters of the gathering hosts during court sessions, and for
the politicians and other "wire-pullers" of the early times. Many were
the schemes concocted and matured there for the political and financial
aggrandizement of those who were ever on the alert for personal preferment.
It was finally partly destroyed by fire, and the ruins removed to give
place to the fine brick structure erected by Abijah Brown and his
three sons, Ira, Jacob S. and Adrian D.,
for hotel purposes. The building was four stories high, including basement.
This, in its time, was one of the best
hotels in Northern Indiana, and had a wide reputation as such. This,
too, was destroyed by fire in January, 1877,
the grounds of which are now occupied by the brick buildings owned
by Brown Bros., Rose & Williams, and
Jacob Newman. Messrs. Bingham & Newman,
and Hubbard & Ruick, built the frame business
houses now owned by John Will, and occupied by Will &Clugston
as a dry goods store, F. M. Vedder, grocer, and others, on Detroit
street. In 1870, the Devor brick block was erected, and the Rice building
in 1871. The new jail, a sub structure, built of brick, and inclosed by
a substantial iron fence, was put up in 1872, at a cost of $28,000, and
serves its purpose quite satisfactorily, though, like all places for the
security of prisoners, there have been
occasions when it has proved insecure, notably in the escape, just
previous to this writing, of one Miles, who was confined for bigamy,
but was recaptured and received his just deserts by a sentence of three
years in the penitentiary. Drs. John A. Butler, John Brown,
and Isaac Parry were the first physicians having offices or residing
in the town; these have all passed away. Dr. Parry went to California
in 1850, where he died 1880, and Dr. Brown at his home, on the Haw
Patch, several years ago.
C. B. Holmes has been mentioned as inaugurating
the mercantile business here by establishing a general store. The second
enterprise of merchandising in the town was established in 1843, by Harmon
B. McCoy and William S. Boyd, in the Boyd building. Mr. McCoy
was married in the fall of 1845 to Miss Eliza Price, and with his
bride went to Ohio, whence he had originally come. They returned in the
following spring, when he, in partnership with James B. Caldwell,
started a tannery, and commenced the manufacture of leather in connection
with harness-making. Samuel H. Boyd came in 1843, and started a
tannery in the east part of town near the creek; this was the first institution
of the kind put in operation in LaGrange. The tannery of McCoy &
Caldwell changed hands several times, and finally, in about the year
1858, the business was discontinued, and the lots were sold to the
Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Company. This line of business
had entirely died out, there being no tanneries
now in existence here. McCoy was subsequently engaged in the
manufacture of shingles at the Boyd Saw-Mill on Fly Creek, at the northeast
of town, where he met a horrible death by accidentally coming into contact
saw. This saw-mill was built by Delavan Martin, in 1844, and
was the first put in operation; it was fitted up with one of the old fashioned
upright saws, driven by water-power, with an old style water-wheel. The
same water-power was also utilized to drive the first grist-mill, built
by William S. Boyd and John Starr, in the year 1857. This
mill was a great convenience to the community and surrounding country.
It was a two-story frame building, with sufficient capacity to meet the
wants of the people. It was destroyed by fire in 1873, being owned
then by the Kerr Brothers. The fine steam flouring-mill now
owned by Hudson & Peck was erected by William Hudson
and Samuel K. Ruick in 1874, also a saw-mill adjoining. The grist-mill
has two run of stone, and the capapcity of turning out fifty barrels of
flour per day. The first regular drug store was started by Rensselaer
Rheubottom in 1852, in a small frame building near the Boyd Block.
John H. Rerick and Howard M.
Betts were the second to embark in that business; this was in
1860, in the building then owned by Dr. John A. Butler, just north
of the American House. They soon after removed to the building on the northwest
corner of Detroit Michigan streets. Dr. Rerick sold out his interest
to Dr. Betts in 1861, and entered the service of the United States
as Assistant Surgeon of the Forty-fourth Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry.
continues the business at the old stand, the entire building being
now owned by him, and occupied in part by the Central Hotel. This building
was built by John Will in 1855, and occupied by him in the mercantile
trade. The first tinware and stove establishment was started by Perry
S. Hemminger, in 1855. He built the frame building on the site of the
Devore Block in 1857. The business was afterward conducted by Hemminger
and J. W. Rheubottom. J. P. Jones purchased Hemminger's
interest in the concern in 1857, and, in company with Rheubottom,
a general stock of iron, nails and shelf hardware, which was the first
store of the kind in the village. C. B. Holmes was the pioneer in
the family grocery business. Andrew Emminger came in 1844, and inaugurated
the industry in the manufacture of chairs. Not until as late as 1872 was
there a regularly organized banking institution in the place.
In that year the LaGrange County Bank was started, the proprietors
being Ralph P. Herbert, R. S. Hubbard and Henry M. Herbert.
In the following year, Andrew Ellison commenced the banking business;
this he still
conducts in connection with his son Rollin. In 1874, the LaGrange
Bank was started by Thomas J. Paulding, of Lima Township, and
R. S. Hubbard. They occupied the Devor Building. In September of the
same year, the
First National Bank was organized, with a capital of $50,000, by many
of the same parties interested in the LaGrange County and LaGrange Bank,
these two banks merging their interests into that of the First National,
and discontinuing business. John S. Merritt, became the first President,
and R. S. Hubbard the first cashier of the
new institution. It occupies an eligible business location opposite
the court house in the brick building owned by Messrs. Rose & Williams.
Its present officers are Solomon Rose, President; J. S. Merritt,
Vice President, and H. M. Herbert, Cashier.
There are two public halls in the town, Ellison's,
and one known as Brown's, the latter owned by Brown Bros., and situated
in the second story of the brick block on the Southeast corner of Detroit
and Michigan streets,
opposite the court house. It is devoted to theatrical and other entertainments
and to other uses.
Volunteer transcription by Pati Blowers May. Material for transcription
gathered by Barbara Henderson.
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