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Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882

Town of LaGrange
Part 3

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. 

     There are several secret societies in LaGrange, representing many of the various orders found throughout the country; the purposes of which are generally for the moral, social and mental culture of its members. The "Meridian Sun Lodge of Masons" was instituted  at Lima June 1, 1849, and three or four years later its place of meeting was transferred to this town, where it became essentially a LaGrange society. It had for its first officers William 
Martin, Worshipful Master; John Brisco, Senior Warden, and A. C. Vanorman, Junior Warden. The I.O.O.F. Lodge was organized in June, 1856; its officers were William Rheubottom, Noble Grand, John F. Clugston, Vice Grand; John Q. Reed, Scribe; John Will, Treasurer; and R. S. Hubbard, Warden, all of whom are living here, except Mr. Reed, who is in St. Louis, Mo. The Hutchinson Lodge of Good Templars was organized in 1866. It is a thrift society, and makes it influence felt in the interests of temperance. Their place of meeting is in Will & Clugston's building. The Davis Lodge of Good Templars was organized in 1878. They have a membership of about forty, with lodge room in Wigton and Eyler's block, and are in a vigorous condition, with a good record in the cause in which they are enlisted.

     [In the month of January, 1867, a number of young men of LaGrange, having in view a  general intellectual and moral culture, organized an Addisonian Debating Society in the town. The charter members were James S. Drake, Lieut. Samuel  A. Cherry, U.S.A.,  Robert Wigton, M. R. McClaskey, Seymour BriscoLewis Wertsbaugher, J. P. Duck, Thomas  Ellison, J. A. McClaskey, C. Y. Roop, and Deloyn Carson. The following officers were elected: S. A. Cherry, President; J. A. McClaskey, Vice-President; J. S. Drake, Secretary; Thomas Ellison, Treasurer. The present membership is about forty. Young men, between 
the ages of eighteen and thirty, and of good moral character, may become members.

     On the 21st of February, 1879, W. M. Obermyer, D. G. D., of Indiana, instituted at LaGrange a lodge of the Knights of Honor, the following being the charter members; Thomas H. Sefton, Samuel P. Bradford, Isaiah Piatt, A. D. Mohler, E. G. White, George W. Berry, John A. Miller, C. H. Hollis, J. H. Hayes, A. D. Moore, M. V. Devor, W. S. Berry, J. M. Preston, J. B. Davenport, A. C. Beecher, E. G. Machan, H. M. Casebeer, E. V. Case, O. L. Ballou and Leonard Peck. The following were the first officers: O. L. Ballou, P. D.; Isaiah Piatt, D.; T. H. Sefton, V.D.; H. M. Casebeer, A.D.; J. H. Hayes, G.; A. D. Moore, Chaplain; E. V. Case, Reporter; J. B. Davenport, Treasurer; J. A. Miller, Guardian; A. C.  Beecher, Sentinel; and S. P. Bradford, E. G. Machan and E. G. White, Trustees. The membership has since reached forty, but it is now thirty-nine, one of the number having died. The lodge has property valued at about $500, and meets on Thursday evenings. Two thousand dollars are paid to the descendants of each person dying.--ED.]

     The business interests of the town are represented by seven dry goods stores, one millinery and fancy goods, three millinery and dress-making establishments, two tailor shops, five grocery stores, four boot and shoe shops, 
six drug stores, one stationery and and periodical store, three hardware stores, three butcher shops, three saddlery and harness shops, two banks, twelve lawyers, thirteen physicians, three newspaper and printing offices, two jewelers, two dental offices, two photographers, one piano and organ store, three sewing-machine offices, three barber shops, four restaurants, three flour and feed stores, three hotels, three saloons, three livery stables, two agricultural implement establishments, two marble-shops, five blacksmith-shops, one railroad office, two express offices, one patent-medicine manufactory, one gunsmith and manufacturer, two grain warehouses, two steam saw-mills, one steam flouring-mill, two plaining mills, three wagon shops, one carriage factory, one pump factory.

     A cheese factory, the first of its kind in the county, has been in successful operation during the past season by 
Mr. Chamberlin, the projector and proprietor.

     Since the original  plat was surveyed, several additions have been made to the town. Ellison's, on the south, in 
the east half of the northwest quarter of Section 30, was laid out May 6, 1861. Drake's, in the west, was laid out 
by James L. Drake, October 6, 1868. Ryason's, in the west half of the northeast quarter of Section 30, laid out November 24, 1868. McClaskey's, February 13, 1869, on the Haw Patch road, in the south part of the town.
McClaskey's East Addition, on the east side of the creek, by Robert McClaskey, and Herbert's, in the northwestern part of the town, fronting on the Baubauga road, was laid out by Ralph P. Herbert, in 1877.

     LaGrange was incorporated in 1855, and the following constituted the first Board of Trustees: Andrew Emminger, William C. Kennedy, William Rheubottom and Rensselaer Rheubottom, who held their first meeting December 26, 1855, and organized with the following officers: Rensselaer Rheubottom, President; Charles B. Holmes, Clerk; Andrew Ellison, Marshal; Caleb Strang, Treasurer; and John B. Case, Assessor.

     The general growth of the town, though slow, has been permanent, and its improvement gradual. Its residences, though not palatial, are mostly neat and homelike. They are principally frame structures. The business houses were originally built of lumber, but fire has made its inroad upon them at different times, until but a few of these old landmarks are left; in their stead, good substantial brick buildings have been erected. The population of the place,
as shown by the census of 1880, varied but a few from 1,400. There are but three persons now living in the place, who were heads of families and residents here in 1844. These are Andrew Ellison, Robert McClaskey and 
C. B. Holmes.

     The educational advantages and system of instruction in the schools of LaGrange present no features of striking contrast with the general system throughout the state of  which it is a part. However, from the rude beginning of the first school taught in the village, gradual progress and improvement have been made, until the present high standard
of excellence in the graded school has been reached. The first opportunity offered the little urchins of the village to prepare themselves for the high and responsible duties of  matured life, in the way of book learning, was at a school taught by Miss Laura Brown, subsequently Mrs. Dr. Butler, in a barn just north of where the American Hotel used to stand, or opposite, and to the northwest of the present Central Hotel. Prior, and up to the year 1866, the public educational facilities were those of the ordinary district schools. Among those who taught in these schools,
and who have attained prominence, are Samuel P. Bradford, the present Clerk of the LaGrange Circuit Court,
and Rev. J. W. Welch, Presiding Elder of the Warsaw District of the North Indiana Conference. The people,
however at an early day, desired a higher grade of education and better facilities than were afforded by the district school, and an attempt was made to satisfy the demand under a law, for the purpose of providing for a county seminary. The funds were gathered together from the various authorized sources, and the construction of a 
two-story frame building, for the purpose, was commenced a few rods south of the site of the present school 
edifice. About the time it was inclosed, and before completion, the funds were exhausted, and work was consequently suspended. The building remained in this condition for a time, and was finally sold to the authorities 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who proceded to complete its construction and occupy it for school purposes. The first term opened in the autumn of 1850, under the direction of  James C. McIntosh, of Connersville, Ind.,
a graduate of Asbury University. He continued one year of highly acceptable service, when he returned to his home. He was succeeded by Robert Parrott, also of Asbury, who taught one year, and then entered the practice of law. At the breaking out of the rebellion, he entered the army, and was commisioned Major of the One Hundredth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, but was killed by the falling of a tree during a storm, while in his tent near Vicksburg. 
Mr. Parrott was succeeded by Isaac Mahuren, and he, after a few months, by John Paul Jones, who had 
been elected to the office of Clerk of the LaGrange Circuit Court, who taught the remainder of the term, then resigned to enter upon the duties of his office. In 1854, John B. Clark took charge of the school and conducted it for several years. Others were Thomas L. Hubert, George Hall and a Mr. Pierce. With the close of the latter's administration, the history of the seminary ends. By reason of financial embarrassment, the building was finally sold 
to Samuel Thurber, and he in turn conveyed it to the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Company, and received 
in payment capital stock of said company. Finally, after one or two changes, the building was purchased, in 1866,
by Moon Brothers, who removed it to their grounds in the south part of town, on the Haw Patch road, where it is still occupied by S. D. Moon as a carriage and wagon manufactory. Following the year 1866, a change was made by the erection of a large two-story frame building, and the adoption of a higher course of instruction, embracing more advanced branches than those taught in the district schools. This supplied the wants very well until the 
opening of the schools in 1874, when a complete graded course was adopted, and the school brought more nearly to the requirements of the times and the advancement of the country. The Principals employed since 1866, with 
their term of service, are as follows: A. W.  Durley, one year;  J. H. Graham, two years; C. Hewett, one year; Alfred Bayless, two years; Samuel Lilly, one year; O. A. Reubelt, one year; A. D. Mohler, seven years.

     The building now occupied by the public schools is a brick structure, erected, in 1874, at a cost of  $30,000, including furniture and apparatus. It is of the modern style of  architecture in its general design, and three stories high. The main building, on the ground, is 60x70 feet and the wing 31x64 feet. The basement is used for the furnace purposes, rooms for storing wood, and others for exercise of the scholars in inclement weather. On the first floor there are six rooms, two in the wing and the others in the main part. There are two halls, in which are placed the stairway, wardrobes, etc., one of the halls being in the wing. The sizes of the halls are 21x60 feet and 16x30 feet. The superintendent's office is in the tower, directly over the main entrance to the second floor. On the third floor is the lecture-room, 43x60 feet, which is approached by two stairways, giving ample means of  ingress and egress. 
It's seating capacity is estimated at forty persons. The building is covered by a mansard roof and has accommodations for 480 pupils. The heating and ventilating are done by means of three furnaces and their equipments. This building will compare favorably with any of its kind to be found in Northern Indiana. There are enrolled at the present time 300 pupils. The school is divided into three departments- the higher, grammer and primary, with twelve grades. The present teachers are: C. P. Hodge, Superintendent; Miss Achsa Huffman, Principal; Miss Ella Goodsell, Mr. Ora Rowe, Miss Ada Henderson, Miss Lulu Storer and Miss Mattie Parry, Assistants.

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

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