1882 COUNTIES OF
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL
Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
By: Weston A. Goodspeed
Milford Township- Long List of Pioneers-Conjectures as to the
First Township Election-A Backwoods Burial-Hunting Experiences-The
The Underground Rail- Road-Mud Corners and South Milford-The Educator
Moralist- Manufacturing Interests.
To Milford belongs the credit of organizing
the first company of Regulators in accordance with an act of the State
Legislature, approved in 1852. On the 12th of September, 1856, the following
men and others assembled
at the Bullock Schoolhouse to affect an organization, and devise some
means to bring horse-thieves, counterfeiters and other criminals to punishment:
J. L. Bullock, Alanson Hill, Orrin Fuller, Zopher
Case, George W.
James, J. P. Case, Jacob Hill, William Hill,
Ebenezer Hill, Isaac Carpenter, Charles Cochran, Phillip
Helmer, Stephen Shearman and John Shearman. Mr. Bullock
was chosen President, Alanson Hill, Vice-President, and Orrin
Fuller, Secretary. The latter, and perhaps others was appointed to
constitution, which was done, it being presented and adopted on the
20th of September, 1856. This company
did very effective service in this and adjoining counties.
Milford was the home of Benjamin B. Waterhouse,
a native of Connecticut, though reared in Oswego County, N. Y. He was one
of the noblest and kindest-hearted men that ever lived. From his earliest
soul shrank in repugnance from that so-called "divine institution,"
known as human slavery. His conscience cried out against the wrong, and,
at last, led him into prominent connection with a well-traveled line of
Railroad. He lost no opportunity to assist runaway slaves on their
way to Canada, and his house at last became a noted harbor, and was known
to colored people far down in the Southern States. The first noted station
south of his house was at the Whitfords, in Allen Township, Noble
County, while the first one north was at Orland, and
the second at the residence of John Waterhouse, twelve miles
south of Coldwater, Mich. A volume might be
employed in which to tell all the incidents connected with the career
of Mr. Waterhouse as an Underground Railroad agent. He had
a covered buggy, or carriage, in which the slaves were placed, when not
(in such case a wagon was used) and a blanket thrown over the heads
of the blacks), and conveyed to Orland,
and there delivered to a wagon-maker named Clark, or to Mr.
Barry and one or two other trusty men; hence they were taken on to
the house of John Waterhouse and other places north. Some hypercritical
persons have said that his carriage stunk terribly of the negroes who rode
in it. It is safe to say that Mr. Waterhouse helped 100 runaway
slaves to escape. His neighbors did not molest him, though some were much
opposed to what he was doing. It is said that David Randall went
out one morning with his hoe on his shoulder to dig potatoes. He had scarcely
begun, when a gigantic negro came swiftly from the woods a short distance
away, and approached him. Mr. Randall saw instantly, from the weary
appearance, torn clothing, haggard face, and indispensable
bundle of clothing of the colored man, that he was a fugitive slave.
Thinking to try the fellow a little, Mr. Randall called out, "Look
here! You are running away from your master. You turn right around and
start back for the South, or I'll report you." It was no fun for the desperate
colored man, for he thought Mr. Randall was in
earnest. He looked fiercely at the settler for an instant, and then
cooly laid down his stick and bundle, took off his ragged coat and placed
it on the ground, doubled up a pair of fists that looked like sledge-hammers,
and then started for the settler, exclaiming, "Massa, ye'd better got yerself
ready; I'se a comin'. "The settler, in alarm,
instantly protested that he was only fooling; and the fugitive desisted
and went slowly back and put on his coat. Mr. Randall directed him
on his way, and the determined fellow was soon out of sight.
After the enactment of the fugitive slave law,
in 1852, Mr. Waterhouse worked harder than ever for the slaves.
Early one morning, during the autumn of 1853, Augustus Whitford of
Noble County, brought five or six fugitive colored men in a wagon to the
residence of Mr. Waterhouse. As they were to be taken on to
Orland by Mr. Waterhouse without delay, Mrs. Waterhouse and
daughters hurriedly prepared them a substantial breakfast. This they dispatched
as only travelers know how and soon they were again on their way, reaching
Orland in a few hours. At this point the whole party, including Messrs.
Clark, Barry and others, of Orland,
were seen by men who reported the violation of the law to Dr. Marsh,
a Deputy United States Marshall residing there. The slaves were taken on
to Canada by the Abolitionists without molestation. The owners of the slaves
became aware of how the latter escaped, and learned the names of Mr.
Waterhouse and those at Orland who had assisted him. They therefore,
in the fall of 1854, had these men arraigned before the United States Circuit
Court at Indianapolis for a violation of the fugitive slave law, Mr.
Cyrus Fillmore, brother of ex-President Fillmore, appearing
as one of the prosecuting witnesses. Mr. Waterhouse was found guilty,
and sentenced to pay a fine of $50 and to be imprisoned for twenty-four
hours. The imprisonment was remitted or avoided, but the fine was probably
paid. This action of the court did not deter Mr. Waterhouse one
iota from frequent future violations of the (to him) odious law.
About this time, strong anti-slavery meetings
were held in various portions of the surrounding country. One
was held at Orland, which, at that time, contained many Abolitionists.
Miss Whitford, of Allen Township, Noble County, an enthusiastic
Abolitionist and a lady of excellent heart and character, was present and
sang, with great power and effect, the song, one verse of which is :
"The baying hounds are on my track;
Old massa's close behind
And he's resolved to take me back
Across the Dixon line."
A large meeting of the same nature was held
at Brushy Chapel, Springfield Township about the same time,
Miss Whitford being present and singing the same and other appropriate
Mr. Waterhouse was a sincere and ardent
Methodist, and took his position regarding slavery because he thought that
Divine approval would sanction such a course. May his name be written with
those of "Old" John Brown and Owen Lovejoy.
During the autumn of 1836, Col. Cochran
built a dam at the outlet of Long Lake, and over a short race erected the
first saw-mill in the township. The mill was provided with a "flutter-wheel"
and a "sash saw." It has changed owners many times and has been subjected
to many alterations, but it is yet in operation. George Bassett,
at an early day, made shingles by horse-power. He turned out a considerable
quantity, finding a ready sale in the neighborhood. Smith & Chaffee
built a steam saw-mill about thrity years ago. It was a good mill.
They also manufactured shingles. In 1848, the Plank Road Company built
a steam saw-mill at South Milford, which, under a change of owners, has
been in operation since. It has done a vast amount of sawing. A Mr.
Baxter conducted an ashery in the southern part for a series
Quite a little village grew up at Mud Corners
at an early day. F. B. Masey erected a store building there
about the year 1845. He had probably $3,000 worth of goods. Wright
& Barry soon succeeded him. They erected an ashery, and for several
years manufactured more than twenty tons of pearl-ash per annum, the greater
portion of which was shipped away to market. James Knight began
the erection of a brewery at the place,
but abandoned the project before the building was completed. George
W. Hatch built a tannery there; he
bought hides, but retired from the business before any leather was
finished. William Knight conducted a blacksmith shop there; Judge
Seeley the same. William Dunn was Postmaster there, and it is
said the office
paid the official well. The place saw its brightest days about thirty
years ago. The road past the corners and on down into Springfield Township
was at that time known as "Brain street," from the number of Judges and
other officials who lived thereon.
In 1856, John A. Bartlett and
Francis Henry, owners and proprietors, laid out forty-seven lots
on Section 32, and named the village thus founded South Milford. There
were four or five families living in the village at the time it was laid
out. In about the year 1852, Wildman & Taylor opened a good
country store. Jonathan Law was in the partnership in some capacity.
Lambert and Rowe appeared with a stock of goods a few years
before the last war broke out. Other merchants have been Hamlin Brothers,
Dr. Gower, Austin, Jenkins, W. W. Miller, Hamilton
Trindle, and the present partnership, J. N. Strayer & Co. The
Bartlett Brothers owned
the old store building. They erected the first hotel building. Theodore
Upson is the present owner of a wagon
and carriage shop, which is doing an excellent business. Orrin Fuller
was in the same business about twenty
years ago. Wildman & Taylor removed their store in about
1857. Fuller and Francis owned a good store at
an early day. Dr. Diggins located in the village in about the
year 1854, but did not remain over a year. Dr. John Dancer appeared
in August, 1855, and has since remained practicing in the village and surrounding
is one of the substantial men of the place. Dr. White was in
two years, coming in 1869. Dr. Broughton was in three years. Dr.
Robinson was in a year and a half. Dr. W. A. Nusbaum appeared
with packages and powders last March. The present population is about two
hundred. In 1880, the following persons had passed the age of seventy-five:
Clarissa Dyer, seventy-eight; John Fought, eighty-seven;
Kalzamon Gunn, seventy-nine; Isaac Heywood, eighty-eight;
Jacob West, eighty; Mary Fiandt, eighty-nine; Valentine
Groh, seventy-nine; Betsy Gunn, seventy-nine; Peter Sabin,
Schools started up at a very early day in Milford.
The first school building in the township was erected during the autumn
of 1836, by several of the settlers in at that time, among whom were the
Cochrans, the Goodsells,
the Turners, the Butts and others. Orris Danks
taught in this house during the following winter, some twelve scholars
attending. Danks was a long-limbed, eccentric Yankee. He had a good
education for the times, and the
backwoods children regarded him as a marvel of learning and greatness.
Of course the Yankee was equal to an emergency of that kind. It did him
proud. This schoolhouse was located at what afterward became known as
"Mud Corners," named so from the extremely muddy place at the crossing.
The old house was a substantial one, and was used until not far from
the year 1854, when another was erected at the same place by Capt. Barry
Judge Seeley. The walls were built of cobble stones and mortar,
and the building became known as the "Mud Schoolhouse." Some say that this
schoolhouse (built as it was of mud and stone) gave name to the place,
is a mistake, as the locality was known as "Mud Corners" long before
the building was erected. The "mud" house was a poor concern, as the boys
soon picked it in pieces with their jack-knives. In this manner an extra
soon made at one corner, and then the building became dangerous, and
another was built. Not far from the year 1840, a log schoolhouse was built
in the western part, near the Cases. In about the year 1838, a log
schoolhouse was built about half a mile north of South Milford. This was
probably the second school building in the township. The Baileys,
the Fitches, the Sturgises, the Bassetts and others,
sent to this house. Two terms of school
were taught before 1840, in a building near the saw-mill owned by Col.
Cochran. Immediately afterward, a log schoolhouse was built in the
Perkins neighborhood. The Cochran school building was erected
about twenty-five years ago. The one near the Kinsman saw-mill was
built in about 1843, and the one two miles east of it not far from the
same time. In those early days, schoolhouses followed the settlers- no
regard being paid to their location- just so far apart. Wherever a sufficient
number of children were found, there was the spot for a log schoolhouse.
The first school structure in South Milford was a frame building, now used
as a dwelling by J. A. Bartlett, and was erected in 1854. Miss
Hartsock was one of the first teachers. The house was built wholly
at the expense of the townspeople, no assistance being received from the
Township Trustees. Good schools were held in this house, which was used
until five years ago, when the present brick building was erected. The
township is at present provided with good schoolhouses.
A small Baptist society was early organized
at the residence of Col. Cochran. Elder Bailey, of Angola,
preached for the few families that gathered there. The society survived
but a few years. As early as 1838, a Methodist Episcopal society was organized
at Mud Corners by Rev. Thomas Conley. Among the early
members were B. B. Waterhouse and family, John Searl,
wife and daughter, Capt. Barry and wife, John Barry and wife,
Jacob Butts and wife, the Trowbridges, Hiram Hunt
and others. In a short time trouble arose in the society, and a division
occurred, one faction going northwest and building the Brushy Chapel, and
the other remaining at the old schoolhouse at Mud Corners. After a few
years, the latter scattered or died out, but the
former has endured until the present. A Church of God society was organized
in the southwestern part about thirty-five years ago. It was instituted,
it is said, by Elder Martin, who became the first pastor. Subsequent
pastors have been Elders Hickernell, Thomas, Logue,
Blickenstaff, Sands and Bumpus. In 1848, the
society numbered some thirty members, and soon afterward exceeded that
number, reaching about fifty in 1860.
In 1864, the frame church was erected under a contract of $1,000 with
W. W. Lovett, the building committee being David Lower, Jacob
Sturgis and Jacob Adams. The total cost of the building was
about $1,200. The society numbers some sixteen members at present. Sunday
school was organized at an early day, Alexander
Meleny being the first, or one of the first, superintendents.
It was an excellent country Sunday school for many years. Quite a strong
Methodist society was early organized in the Cochran neighborhood.
It flourished for some eight or ten years. The Church of God society in
the northeastern corner had its origin many years ago in the old schoolhouse.
Here the members continued to assemble until some questions arose regarding
the use of the schoolhouse, when it was thought best to build a church,
which was accordingly done not many years since. The society is not very
strong numerically, though it is doing good work. Some of its best members
live in Springfield Township.
Volunteer transcription by Pati Blowers May. Material for transcription
gathered by Barbara Henderson.
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