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Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882

Town of LaGrange
Part 2

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 Establishments-Gradual Growth 
and Developement-Industrial Enterprises-(Part 3) Secret Societies-Present Business Occupations- 
(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 down to 
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. Robert 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. Samuel A. Bartlett, County Treasurer, put 
up the house on the next lot north, now owned by Jacob M. Church. John 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 any 
contiguous property, and lending symmetry and beauty to the whole surrounding. C. 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 with the
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. Drs. 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. Dr. Betts still 
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, added 
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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