1882 COUNTIES OF
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL
Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
By:Weston A. Goodspeed.*
*Portion of the facts were compiled
by John P. Jones, J. C. Kinney and others.
Pioneers-Catalogue of Early Settlers-The Red Race-First Land
Purchased in LaGrange County-Interesting Incidents-Founding
Village-Outline of its Growth-Manufacturing Interests-Village
Its Industries and Developments-The Lima Seminary-The
Collegiate Institute-First School in the County-Education and
In about 1838, David Pucket began manufacturing
furniture, which he continued quite extensively several years. The same
year Wright & Drake erected and began conducting a wagon
factory, employing from twelve to twenty hands, and continuing a number
of years. In about 1850, Lyman Wilcox was conducting an excellent
cabinet shop. He turned out a considerable quantity of furniture, making
a specialty of bedsteads. Nathan and William Place also manufactured
wagons, together with coffins, etc., carrying on the business eight or
ten years, beginning about 1840. Theodore Moore, in about 1840,
manufactured gloves and moccasins, dressed deer skins, and made robes,
etc. In about 1845, Richard and John Salmon erected a wooden
building, converting the same into a foundry. Here they began manufacturing
all kinds of general castings, and quite a large number of plows, that
were largely used in all the surrounding country. They employed about a
dozen workmen. In about 1849, Samuel P. Williams purchased the entire
business, but soon afterward sold to Taylor & Vance,
who a little later, sold to Hill & Taylor, the latter
firm conducting the enterprise successfully for many years. Mr. Keith
is the present owner of the factory, which is yet doing good work. Other
men have owned and conducted the foundry, among whom are Hawks &
Co., Woodruff & Morse, and Gore & Hardesty.
Bar-iron was manufactured from bog-ore obtained in some of the neighboring
swamps, and a portion of the iron thus obtained was so tough and malleable
that it was used for horseshoe nails and steam boilers. Some of the owners
have shipped large quantities of ore. Hawks & Co. kept a
store to supply their workmen with goods, etc. In 1870, the Star Grist-Mill
was erected on Crooked Creek, two miles northwest of Lima, by Post
& Torry, in which were placed two sets of buhrs. A little later,
Flusher bought the mill, and soon sold an interest to Mr. Arnold.
Another set of stones and a turbine water-wheel were added.
W. T. Millerbegan,
in about 1837, to manufacture wagons, continuing the business some
twenty-five years, turning out about thirty vehicles per annum, on the
average. John Taylor also followed the same occupation in an early
day. In about the year 1836, Albert Powell erected a distillery
on the bank of "Still" Lake, named thus from the location of the
distillery. No very large quantity of liquor was made there, although that
which was distilled is said to have been
of excellent quality. This statement is clearly proved by the rapid
disappearance of the whisky as soon as made. The business soon passed to
the ownership of Hiram Harding, and later to H. W. Wood,
who removed the still, and began to manufacture potash on quite an extensive
scale, continuing as long as ashes could be obtained cheaply. A Mr.
Hort manufactured the potash. The corn, or other grain, used in this
distillery was mashed by hand, some four men being employed. In about 1845,
Marten erected a distillery in Lima. Ten or twelve workmen were employed,
and from 15,000 to 20,000 bushels of grain were annually consumed in the
manufacture mostly of what were called "high wines". Several teams were
constantly employed to convey the liquor to market. One set of 44-
inch buhrs was used to grind the grain. Two teams were necessary to
draw the wood used, and four or five coopers were employed to make barrels
to contain the liquor. From thirty to sixty head of cattle and about two
hundred hogs were fed largely from the refuse of the distillery. This was
in many repects, the most extensive industry ever in Lima. After about
twelve years, the building was rented by Robert Triplett and Samuel
Ruick, who carried on the same business for a few years, after which
Burdick took control. But the enterprise was soon abandoned,
J. H. Ladd placing in the building a turning lathe, though at the end
of a year this business was discontinued.
In about 1838, Follet & Johnson
built a tannery at Lima, sinking some fifteen or twenty vats. They dressed
large quantities of skins, selling the leather both at home and abroad.
Sering began making chairs about thirty years ago. The old saw-mill
at Lima was built in 1831, by Lewis P. Judson, probably, but in
1833 it was
destroyed by fire. About the time the saw-mill was built, or perhaps
a little later, Mr. Judson and William A. Mills erected the
grist-mill that, under many alterations, is yet doing good work. The mill
was conducted by Palmer Grannis in 1837. The mill in its day has
been a good one, and has been a great accommodation to the citizens of
Lima. Two sets of buhrs were placed in at first. Many have conducted the
mill; but all who tried to carry on a merchant business, with few exceptions,
have been bankrupted. When the old saw-mill was burned, another took
its place. One was built in about 1846 by Samuel Howard for
B. Howe. In 1847, Alphonso Martin built a saw-mill in Lima,
but soon afterward sold to S. M. Cowley. It was finally thrown down
by having its supports washed away by the water. It is probable that
Judson erected the saw-mill that took the place of the one destroyed
by fire, at the same time he built his grist-mill. Attached to the Martin
Saw-Mill was a shingle factory, by Alvaro Hunter; also a lath-saw
by S. M. Cowley.
Palmer Grannis conducted the saw-mill at
the "Lima Mills," and might have erected the same. About the same time,
Shortell was conducting a harness-shop there. A
man (the name is withheld) erected a buiding 16x26 feet, near the mills,
designing the same for a store. Dry goods were placed therein, and, for
a time, things went on nicely; but suspicion fell upon the man, and his
building was searched, whereupon three sets of counterfeit dies, two for
quarter dollars and one for half dollars, were found, together with about
half a peck of half-finished bogus coins. Some of the finished article
was also found, which
could not be distinguished by novices from the genuine coin. It was
reported that some of it had been passed upon the agent at Fort Wayne for
lands, and that he took it for genuine money. The building was transformed
into a schoolhouse, and afterward into a dwelling now occupied by Mr.
Doll. In 1833, a brick-yard was opened, and a kiln burned on the bank
of Pigeon River, half a mile west of Lima: but the soil was such that the
bricks were worthless, as they fell in pieces within a short time. Later,
another kiln was burned a short distance southwest of the old foundry.
In 1854, Samuel P. Williams and John B. Howe founded the
LaGrange Bank at Lima, receiving a charter under the free banking law of
the State, and having a circulation of about $70,000. A good banking
business was done until 1857, when the bank became a branch of the
State Bank of Indiana, with a capital stock
of $150,000, which was owned by twelve men, among whom were John
B. Howe, Samuel P. Williams,
Samuel Burnell, James B. Howe, Thomas J. Spaulding,
Halsey, and Philo Nichols. The bank sustained itself easily,
and the stockholders realized handsome revenues. In 1862, in accordance
enactment made at that time, the institution became a National Bank,
with about the same stockholders, with a capital stock of $100,000, continuing
thus until 1880, when a private banking business was begun. The same stockholders,
a number of years ago, founded the National Bank of Sturgis, owning controlling
interest in the stock, and also bought largely of the stock of the National
Bank at Coldwater, and of other banks. The bank at Lima is firmly founded,
and has the unlimited confidence of the public.
The village of Ontario was laid out by Nathan
Jenks, proprietor, early in March, 1837, on the southwest quarter of
Section 33. There were laid out twenty-three blocks of ten lots each, two
blocks of five lots each, two blocks of six lots each, and a public square.
In June, 1844, Mr. Jenks made an addition to the village of ninety-five
lots of the usual size, and seven large lots, four of which were north
of the river. The addition was laid out between
the original town and the river. The first settler on the present site
of Ontario was George Latterer, who built a log cabin in 1834. During
the same year, or perhaps during the early part of 1835, Henry Lake
and Mr. Gibson also located there in small, rude log dwellings.
At about the same time, J. C. Kinney and Mr. Hubbard, from
Blissfield, Ohio, settled on the north bank of the river, and began building
the dam, which was finished after a great deal of
hard labor; when it was completed, which was the same season, a saw-mill
was immediately built on the south bank, having one of the old-fashioned
up-and-down saws. About this time, or a little later, a Mr. Allen
came there from Ohio, with a small set of "niggerhead" buhrs, and
effected a contract by which the power operating the saw-mill
was also connected by belts with the machinery which ran the stones.
Here was ground the first grain in Ontario. Allen had hard luck for some
time; he suffered with ague and fever, and lost money, and thus became
so discouraged that one night he took the pillow case from under his head,
went down to the mill dam, filled the case partly full of sand, tied it
up and attached it with a stout cord to his person, and plunged into the
mill-flume. He was found dead in the flume early the next morning by Mr.
Kinney's son, who was sent to call him to breakfast. His clothes and
hat were first noticed lying on the bank. The old saw-mill was quite well
patronized, the work being
done mostly on shares. Elisha Thorp, who hauled log there with
a team consisting of six ponies, owned a wagon, the wheels of which were
made of huge, solid, wooden cross-sections of some large log. In 1836,
purchased the mill property, at which time he stated that it was his
intention to secure an act of the Legislature to charter a company who
should bear the expense of conducting the water-power created by the dam
at Ontario, from the latter place, through a long race, to Lima. The act
was passed by the Legislature, the location of the race was staked off,
subscription books were opened and liberally signed by the citizens of
Lima; but for some reason
unknown to the writer, and to most of all the old settlers, Mr.
Jenks subscribed a controlling interest in the stock, and abandoned
the project without further ado, greatly to the regret of Lima. It is thought
by the writer that, as Mr. Jenks was dissatisfied about this time
with the offers made him by Lima to induce him to locate the "LaGrange
Collegiate Institute" there instead of Ontario, and as he refused to accept
their proffered assistance as being not
an adequate consideration, this had something to do with his action
in canceling what had been done toward continuing the water-power to Lima.
The real facts could not be ascertained why
Jenks so completely "squelched" the work on the race. It is also
stated that, about this time, the surveyors of the proposed Buffalo &
Mississippi Railroad surveyed a route east and west, a short distance south
of Ontario, and that Mr. Jenks thought that, by building up Ontario
at the expense of Lima, he could, in the end, succeed in securing the removal
of the county seat from the latter village to the former; and that therefore,
he located the Institute at Ontario, set aside the work on the race, and
did all he could to kill
Lima and infuse vitality into Ontario. In that day, as steam had not
come into general use in the mills, a good water-power was alone sufficient
to insure the building of quite a town. More on this subject will be found
in other parts of this volume.
Mr. Jenks built the present mill-race
at Ontario and, in about 1843, erected the large grist-mill, that, in its
time, was one of the best ever in the county. It cost about $10,000. The
building was four stories in height and in it were placed four sets of
French buhrs. Others were afterward added. The mill was so well patronized
that it was found profitable to run it day and night and two sets of mill
hands were employed. The work increased until some thirty thousand barrels
of excellent flour were shipped, by wagon, to market in one year. This
infused life into various
other industries, such as cooper shops, stave factories, etc. Ontario
grew very rapidly at first.C. W. Wilson probably erected the third
or fourth house in the village. Mr. Codding also erected an early
one. In 1838, there were living in the village the families of Messrs.
Doolittle, Codding, Field and five or six others.
However, two or three of these were unmarried. In 1840, at least twenty-five
families lived in Ontario, representing a population of about 120. Perhaps
at no time has the population exceeded 300.
In August, 1838, Jenks & Fields
built a storeroom and began selling goods from a stock valued at about
$5,000. They were purchased in New York, shipped to Toledo, and from there
drawn to Ontario by Wagon. At
the end of two years, Nathan Jenks sold his interest to C.
W. Jenks, and two years later the goods were sold at auction. Boyd
& McCoy conducted a good store about this time. Jenks
& Wright opened a store about 1843, with about $1,000 worth
of goods. They dealt in cattle, losing considerable money, and closed their
store, in consequence, two years later. Robert Dykes began selling
goods in about 1844, from a stock worth probably $6,000. This was about
the best store ever in Ontario. Hestus &
a store in the village. Among other merchants, have been Charles
and Anson Vaughan, George Mallow, Aaron Mallow, John
Rufus Herrick, Jenks &
& Parish, William Scott,
Mr. Dickinson, W.
and Timothy Field, who again began about eleven years ago, continuing
until the present. The Vaughan boys conducted a good store. George
Mallow was shot by Stephen Jenks (not a relative of Nathan
Jenks.) The cause is not clearly known. Jenks was tired for
the crime convicted and sentenced for life to the penitentiary. Warren
Green was probably the first Vulcan in the village. Doolittle,Wilson,
and Mills were
carpenters, and the first. Among the village physicians have been Messrs.
Dayton (a good one), Sargent,
Ontario saw its best days between 1850 and
1864. Franklin Duncan opened a hotel not far from 1840. L. M.
Abbott did the same about six or eight years later. Ontario was the
northern terminus of the famous plank road that was built about 1848-49
and kept up some ten or twelve years. George Mallow sold liquor
at an early day. Alanson Beers was the first Postmaster. Uncle Sam's
agents since then have been Robert Dykes, James Turley,
Mrs. Farrand, O. W. Parish, Henry Grannis and
Field. Charles Miller owned a fine hotel, which was destroyed
by fire. The good Templars organized a lodge in about 1856, continuing
two or three years.
A little later than 1860 (Henry)
Jenks & McKinley purchased the grist-mill owned by Nathan
Jenks; but three years later, Henry Jenks sold his interest
to his partner. The mill was finally mortgaged to Mr. Blodgett,
into whose control it passed in about 1878-79; but it soon after was purchased
by Alexander Beach, upon whose hands it burned down about a year
ago. This was a serious loss, not only to the owner but to the village.
In 1842, L. M. Abbott erected a woolen factory, the entire cost,
including the water-power, etc., amounting to about $10,000. The building,
three and a half stories high, and thirty-six by forty feet, alone cost
$6,000. Two sets of machines for custom work were placed in the building,
as was also one for the manufacture of flannels, fulled cloths, satinets,
cassimeres, etc. From 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of wool were handled annually,
the work being done mostly on
shares. The various kinds of cloth were kept for sale in a small storeroom.
After four years the factory was bought by Nathan Jenks and Andrew
Dutcher, who added several power-looms and other machinery. They continued
from three to five years, and then rented to James Scott, who continued
on through the last war, making a great deal of money. At the close of
the war, between $5,000 and $6,000 worth of new machinery took the place
the old; but hard times came on, and the factory was mortgaged to Dr.
Dayton, and perhaps others. It finally went to Dr. Dayton, who
rented it to Chapman & Chess. Two years later, Joseph
J. Scott rented it, and about the
1st of January, 1882, bought it.
Charles Doolittle, who owned
part of the water-power, built a cabinet shop not far from 1847. He made
a goodly number of bureaus, chairs, tables, bedsteads, etc., and added
a turning lathe. Daniel McKinley, about the same time or a little
later, built a tannery on the race, and sank some twenty-five vats. He
dressed large quantities of skins, and in the upper story of the building
manufactured boots and shoes. George Mallow also conducted a tannery,
employing about four work men. It was afterward owned by Sol. Liphart,
and later was turned into an ashery, where potash was manufactured. Argus
McKinley erected a small building on the race, not far from 1850, and
began manufacturing buckskin gloves, mittens, etc.; his sales running up
during the year to about $4,000. He carried on business three or four years.
The old tannery was finally turned into a barrel-stave factory. He made
large numbers of excellent flour barrels that were used in the grist-mill.
& Son tranformed the old shoe shop into a sash, door and blind factory.
John Shingler manufactured wagons ten or twelve years. In about
1850, Carlos Jenks and a Mr. Wright opened a factory for
the manufacture of saleratus from potash and pearlash. But little was done,
however. About the same time, or perhaps earlier, Carlos Jenks attempted
to introduce the manufacture of silk. He planted mulberry seed to raise
plants, the leaves of which were to be used as food by the caterpillar
of the silk moth Bombyx mori. Pupae of this moth were obtained from
& Mosher, who came from the East; but about this time neither
the mulberry seed nor the pupae did as had been expected, and within two
years the whole project was abandoned. It was about this time that the
locust tree (Robinia pseudacicia) was introduced into the county for the
first. The first newspaper in the county was published at Ontario, and
afterward at Lima. Full account of this will br found elsewhere.
Doolittle has resided in Ontario longer
than any other person. He has for many years been dealing in furniture,
for the manufacture of which he has a shop. George Mallow conducted
a tailor shop in the village about forty years ago.
In 1833, a small log schoolhouse was built
about a quarter of a mile southeast of Lima. Here it was that John B.
Howe taught the first school in the county. The house was a most rude
affair, with three or four small windows, a huge fireplace and a few rough
desks and benches. Some eighteen or twenty scholars were in attendance,
and the teacher was paid $10 or $12 per month for his services. Mr.
Howe says that the funds from which he was paid were either raised
by ordinary taxation, or from the sale or other disposal of Section 16.
It was not a subscription school. All accounts and reports agree in saying
that Frederick Hamilton taught the second term in the same house.
After about 1835, no other terms were taught there, but school was held
in several vacant buildings. At last, a frame schoolhouse was erected where
the depot now stands, and was used until the beginning of the last war.
Among the early teachers at Lima were T. H. Codding, Nelson Prentiss,
Christopher Cory, Mr. Seymour, Hugh Hamilton,
Hamilton, Miss Sarah Smith, Miss Eunice Moore,
Laura Brown, Mrs. Dr.
Butler and others. Before the house at the depot was built,
school was held, among other places, at Mr. Cory's residence, in
the Presbyterian Church, in the court house, and in private dwellings.
After the county seat was removed to LaGrange, the court house was used
for a schoolhouse, and for a hotel. Among the teachers were
Miss Julia Sanborn, Mrs. J. M. Flagg,
Mason, and Miss Lucinda Keith. The teachers were usually paid
by rate-bills. The house at the depot was built with funds donated by S.
P. Williams, John B. Howe, H. W. Wood , Abram Nipp,
Ingraham, J. C. Kinney and others. It cost about $500. On one
occassion, this building was struck by lightning during a thunder storm,
while it was filled with children. The building was shattered, and about
a dozen of the children scattered. Two boys were quite badly burned, but
In 1855, Samuel P. Williams, assisted
somewhat by the citizens, erected a frame building at a cost of $2,500,
designing the same for a young ladies seminary. Miss Eliza Dimond,
a graduate of Mount Holyoke Seminary, and a lady of unusual talent and
culture, was employed to take charge of the seminary. She was assisted
by Miss Julietta L. Oaks, and by Miss Mary A. Sherring, teacher
of music and drawing. Mr.Williams collected the tuition, and paid
Dimond about $300 per annum. The school was barely self-supporting.
fixed the tuition as follows: Common English branches, $3; higher English
branches, $4; Latin (extra) $2; French (extra) $2; penciling, $2;
Monochromatic, $5;Crayolithic, $7; Pastel, $7; piano, with use of instrument,
$10; melodeon, with use of instrument, $10. Miss Dimond was one
of the many young ladies sent out to teach by Gov. Slade, of
Connecticut. From twenty-five to sixty young ladies were in attendance.
the land where the house stood to be used only for school purposes, in
any other case to revert to himself. In 1862, the seminary was sold to
the village, and used as a public schoolhouse until the present fine school
erected at a cost of over $20,000. It was built in 1874-75. The funds
to build the house were raised by issuing certificates, drawing interest,
to be paid from school-money, obtained by levying a tax on property of
the township not to exceed a certain specified per cent per annum. The
house has already cost twice as much as was expected, and several thousand
dollars are yet to be paid. Mr. Howe gave $2,500 toward the house
in addition to his tax. Mr. Burnell also gave liberally. The
house is one of the finest in Northern Indiana. Lima has always had good
schools and good morals.
Volunteer transcription by Pati Blowers May. Material for transcription
gathered by Barbara Henderson.
On to Part 3
Return to 1882 History
Return to Home Page