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Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882

Part 3

By:Weston A. Goodspeed.*
    *Portion of the facts were compiled by John P.Jones,J.C.Kinney and others.
       Lima Township-The Pioneers-Catalogue of Early Settlers-The Red Race-First Land 
   Purchased in LaGrange County-Interesting Incidents-Founding of Lima 
   Village-Outline of its Growth-Manufacturing Interests-Village of Ontario- 
   Its Industries and Developments-The Lima Seminary-The LaGrange 
  Collegiate Institute-First School in the County-Education and Religion 

          In 1835, a small log schoolhouse was built at what afterward became Ontario. It was a small, insignificant-looking structure, and was located about twenty rods southwest of the present mill-dam. The seats 
were slabs, with long wooden pins, driven into auger holes, for legs, and the desks were made by driving strong pieces of wood horizontally into mortises in the walls, the other end being supported by a strong leg, and a slab 
being placed upon two of these contrivances, to be used as desks. A huge fire-place graced one end of the room, 
he smoke and flame passing up a broad chimney built of sticks and plastered with clay mortar. The first teacher 
was an English lady  from White Pigeon, Mich. She taught twelve or fourteen scholars until within a short time 
before the close of her three months' term, when the house was destroyed by fire. In about 1840, a small frame schoolhouse was built in Ontario at a cost of $500. It was used until a few years before the last war, when the present two-storied frame building was constructed. It cost about $800, and though remodeled several times since, is yet in use. About the year 1836, or a little later, Nathan Jenks founded the "LaGrange Collegiate Institute.
" The idea had its origin at Victor, N.Y., as early as 1835, at which place it was resolved to establish such an institution somewhere in the West, by a number of prominent men, among whom were Nathan Jenks, Elisha Dickinson, and others. A number of these men came to the vicinity of Ontario during the year 1836, where they purchased land and settled. Here the plan was perfected to build a literary institution modeled after the then Oberlin Institute of Ohio. So far as known, the first public meeting was held at the residence of Lewis Vance, Lima, on the 6th of February, 1837, at which time it was resolved, "that, in view of the prospects before us, we are warrented in undertaking to establish a literary institution to be located in this neighborhood, to be denominated the "LaGrange Collegiate Institute." Joshua T. Hobbs, Nathan Jenks, Mills Averill, Elisha Dickinson, Thayer H. Codding, Ansel Dickinson and Rev. John J. Shipherd were selected and recommended as a Board of Trustees. At this meeting, offers of assistance of money, lands and labor were freely given, and the outlook seemed promising. At the same time a prospectus was framed and adopted, setting forth that the institution should be modeled after the Oberlin Institute, that its course of instructions should embrace five departments, as follows: A preparatory or academical school, a collegiate course, a full theological course, an irregular, or shorter course, for those advanced 
in life or in peculiar circumstances, and a thorough course of female education; that "the several courses should be decidedly of a Christian character, to the exclusion of demoralizing pagan authors and sectarian principles;" that the manual labor system should be incorporated in all the scientific departments; and that "a liberal charter should be obtained as soon as may be, empowering the trustees to fill their own vacancies." It was also decided that the institute should be founded upon this, that "corporate bodies and public institutions, no less than individuals, are bound to do right, irrespective of worldly expediencies, popular favor, or any consequences. Therefore, this institution will allow free discussion and openly sustain the great moral enterprises of the day, such as revivals, temperance in all things, the sanctification of the Sabbath, moral reform, Christian union and human rights under whatever color or circumstances. As this is a great work of public utility, which cannot be done by individual enterprise, the liberal co-operation of the philanthropic and pious is solicited." Two days later, the trustees located the proposed institute at Ontario, just across the line, in Bloomfield  Township. Nathan Jenks had at his disposal $5,000 (whether his individual property or that of the men in the East is not known), which he offered as a conditional subscription toward the erection of the building, provided an additional $10,000 could be raised by the citizens. In May, 1837 it was ordred that a frame building, 18x26 feet, be erected, to serve as a workshop for the erection of the main structure and to be used later as a preparatory school-room and dormitory. In this building C. W. Wilson and his wife, Beulah Wilson, taught during the winter of 1837-38, the lady continuing until July 4, "when that terrible sickly season came on, stopping all business before the 10th. From the 20th, there was only one man-Mr. Salmon-able to go round to the fifteen or eighteen families, and he only just able to carry a pitcher of water to each." *told by C. W. Wilson, Rockford, Ill., May, 1872. Mr.and Mrs.Wilson, also taught the succeeding winter in the same building. During the year 1837, the funds were secured, and in June such advance 
had been made that it was determined to erect a frame building, 50x60 feet, three stories in height. The frame was raised about the 1st of August but the building was not completed until 1840. It was used, however, in 1839. 
During the years 1837 and 1838, strong inducements were held out to the founder to induce him to locate the institute at Lima. He was offered thirty village lots, an eighty acre tract of land at half-price, adjoining the village, 
for a site, besides a considerable sum of money, grain on the ground, etc. privately subscribed by the citizens of Lima. This offer was rejected, but was afterward somewhat favorably reconsidered, when some changes were 
made in the offer, until finally negotiations ceased and the house was finished at Ontario. The following proceedings relative to this topic are recorded on the trustees books; "This proposition not being considered equal to Nathan Jenks' pledge of $10,000, and in view of our having a flourishing school in operation, numbering from fifty to sixty students and a building erected worth about $4,000, the proposition was rejected by a unanimous vote." On the 13th of February, 1840, the incorporating act passed by the Indiana Legislature was approved by the Governor. Nathan Jenks, Joshua T. Hobbs, Thayer H. Codding, Aaron Thompson, Rev. Christopher Cory, Joel K. Salmon, Cyrill W. Wilson, Charles Mosher and their associates and successors were created a body of politic and corporate, to be styled the "Board of Trustees of the LaGrange Collegiate Institute." On the 21st of October, 1839, the institute was formally opened by W. J. Baxter, Principal, in charge of the then only course-Preparatory. The building cost about $4,000. The $10,000 (only partly paid) raised by subscription in 1866-67 was employed 
as an endowment fund, drawing interest, and as fast as the notes were redeemed the money was reloaned. In this manner, and by means of a small tuition and the rent of the lands, buildings, etc. the expense of carrying on the school was defrayed. From 25 to 125 students were in attendance annually during the continuance of the institute, and more than 2,000 names of students are on its catalogue. The principals in charge of the institute were as follows: Cyrill W. Wilson, 1838-39, one year; Witter J. Baxter, 1839-40, one year; Rev. John D. Skelly, 1840-41, one year; Rev. Julius Steele, A. M., 1841-42, two terms; Henry Steele, 1842, one term; Rev. William Jones, A. M., 1842-44, one and one-third years; Edward Brown, 1843, one term; Rufus Patch, A. M., 1844-49, five and one-eighth years; Rev. A. H. Kerr, A. M., 1849-50, two terms; Rufus Patch, A. M., 1850-56, six years; Rev. Henry C. Morse, A. M.,1856-57, one and one-third years; A.G. Van Etten, 1858, one term; Frank Cotton, 1859-60, one year; interregnum, one and one half years; Rufus Patch, A.M., 1862-79, sixteen years.
      It may be justly said that the institute, during the long period of its continuance, did a great deal for the morality and education of LaGrange County. Its presence at Ontario attracted wide attention, and directed capital, intelligence and energy to that point, that other-wise would have passed on to distant places. Ontario became noted for its thrift, intelligence, morals and general excellence. Its literary societies are highly spoken of, and are 
remembered as sanguinary ground for the intellectual encounters that occurred. Neighboring towns were green with jealousy, and coveted the really excellent effects the presence of the Institute insured.
     "With the multiplication of village high schools, and the improved facilities for imparting classical instruction in the preparatory departments of neighboring colleges, the field of patronage of the institute at length became so limited that its affairs were placed in the hands of a receiver and wound up in 1881." *by John P. Jones

     "In the month of July, 1832, Rev. Christopher Cory preached in Lima, in the open air, having a stump for his pulpit. From this time onward he continued his labors, preaching in  private houses, schoolhouse and elsewhere, 
until November, 1833, at which time he organized the Presbyterian Church of Lima. The first members were Samuel Cory, Phebe Cory, Mary A. Cory, Aaron Cary, Phebe Cary, Abigail McNeal, Elizabeth Blair, Anna Blair, Elizabeth C. Blair, Martha Gale, Catherine P. Judson, Emeline Cory and Elizabeth MillerSamuel Cory and Aaron Cary were elected Elders. Rev. Mr. Cory continued his pastoral labors, and by 1834 had organized two or three socities in other neighborhoods. By 1839, some 149 persons had been received into 
the church, many of whom were dismissed to form the other socities. Rev. R. L. Sears took charge of  the Lima society in 1842; After him came Rev. S. E. Lane, H. C. Morse and D. C. Meeker. The first church, a small frame, was dedicated February 15, 1843. In 1855, the membership was 72. Rev. A. S. Wells was pastor in 1851; after him came Rev. Lewis Hamilton, who, a short time ago, was killed in Colorado by a switch-engine; Rev. B. Farrand was pastor for a time, beginning in 1859, and continuing until 1864; then came Rev. W. Pattinson, who served until 1869; then Revs. C. M. Temple, T. E. Hughes, J. M. Drake; and T. E. Hughes since 1873. Present membership, about 70. The Sabbath school numbers about 150; W. B. Cory, Superintendent. 
     Rev. Leonard B. Gurley organized the Methodist Church, at Lima, in the house of Robert Hamilton, in 1831-the first religious society organized in the county. The class consisted of six members, two of whom were Robert Hamilton and wife. Ministers served the society regularly, and the class grew and thrived. The church 
was built in 1847; present membership is 70; Rev. J. K. Watts, Pastor; Mr. Duck is Superintendent of the 
Sunday school. Rev. R. S. Robinson was pastor in 1836; then came Revs. G. M. Beswick, Erastus Kellogg, Warren Griffith, Mr. Sanford, R. C. Weeks, G. M. Boyd, William Jenkins, Wade Posey, L. L. Allen,
Enoch Holdstock, G. H. Hard, W. J. Forbes, J. C. M_______, E. Doud, W. E. B. Storux, J. P. Jones,
Benjamin Winans, I. M. Stagg, J. J. Cooper, E. S. Preston, Emanuel Hall, W. S. Birch, Isaac Ayres
D. P. Hartman, Thomas Colclazion, J. P. Force, W. F. Hemmingway, G. W. Newton, C. P. Wright, J. Edwards, A. V. Gorell, J. P. Greer, and the present minister, Mr.Watts.
     "The Baptist Church at Lima was organized in the schoolhouse, September 24, 1846, with fourteen members- Enoch Leighton, Phebe Leighton, Josiah Shumway, Lydia Shumway, Oliver Smith, Polly Smith, Abbott Fleming, Margaret Fleming, Cyrus Sprague, Oliver Cowan, Sally Cowan, Charlotte Flagg, Margaret Winnie and Mary J. Thrall. Ten of the above are dead. The society occupied the schoolhouse until 1853, when their present house of worship was erected. The following ministers have served the society:  Revs. Cook, Spear, Fleming, Fish, Bailey, Briggs, _______, Chaffee, Lamb, Keene, Latham, Stevens and Childs. Accessions 
to the society, 129 by baptism; 104 by letter and experience; removals by death and dismissal, 193. Elder A. Fleming served the class from 1851 to 1855, the longest pastorate. In 1853, Elder D. S. Dean, evangelist, held 
an important revival, many joining, and the other societies sharing in the results. Elder Fleming preached the first sermon in the church. In 1881, he preached in the same house the Garfield memorial sermon.
     "Bishop Philander Chase was the first minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church who preached in Lima. He was the first Bishop of the Diocese of Ohio. He preached at Lima as early as 1834, but resided in Michigan. In 1836-37, Rev. Mr. Whitesides preached every alternate Sunday at Lima. The church was established at Lima in 1851, and the church building erected in 1852. The first settled minister was Rev. John O. Barton.
     "The Congregational Church at Ontario was first organized as a Presbyterian Church in April,1840, by Revs. Stephen Thompson and Christopher Cory. The change in the form of goverment was made in March, 1843, by 
a unanimous vote of the members. It, however retained its connection with the Presbytery until 1854. For fourteen years, services were held in the chapel of the institute. In 1854, the present church building was erected. Some
200 accessions have been made to the membership, seven of whom have become ministers. The resident pastors have been Stephen Thompson, D. M. Bardwell, C. M. Morehouse, A. G. Martin, H. C. Morse, E. Halliday, and W. E. Catlin. The following Prebyterian ministers also served the society: A. S. Wells, Lewis Hamilton, B. Farrand, W. Pattinson and J. M. Drake. Great revivals were held by Morehouse, Farrand and Pattinson.
     "The nucleus of what is now the Methodist Church at Ontario was formed by the organization of a class consisting of eight members, by Rev. G. M. Boyd. Charles Doolittle was one of this number, as were also Joseph Wilson and wife. Services were held in the institute and in the public schoolhouse until the erection of the present church. Rev. H. B. Hunt preaches to the class every alternate Sunday. Lima Township is well supplied 
with religious privileges."

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

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