1882 COUNTIES OF 
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL

Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
 

NEWBURY TOWNSHIP

By: R.H. Rerick

Newbury Township- First Election and Officers-Early Physical Features,Lakes,Indians,Etc.-
The First Settler and His Successors-Mills and Towns-Forest Customs-
The Amish-Their Customs,Churches,Schools,Etc.-General Development.
 

     The township received its name, not in honor of any personage, but to distinguish it from the older town of Middlebury, in Elkhart county, which it adjoins. This was the borough, and Newbury it has remained. The name was given at the first town meeting. The township was a part of Lima, and was seperated and given a distinct organization in 1837. On April 3, of this year, the settlers held their first election, at the house of Truman
Wilkinson. It was difficult to get together a good show of voters, and the canvassing was as thorough as at 
some modern elections. If there was any law then requiring a long residence in the township, it was probably accidentally forgotten that day. The workmen on the Shipshewana Mills were taken to the polls, whether or no. 
By this means a poll-book of thirteen voters was made. There were just about enough offices to go around and 
the list contains the names of most of the adult male settlers. Daniel K. Keasy and Elijah West acted as Clerks; Amos Davis and James Cotton, Judges; and Truman Wilkinson, Inspector.When their laborious duties had been performed, it was found that the following were the first officers: Amos Davis, Justice; Willard Cotton, Constable; Elijah West, Inspector; Esick Green, Supervisor; George Lotterer and Elijah West, Overseers 
of the Poor; Franklin Goodenough and George Hilt, Road Viewers. The vote was unanimous. The first official act of the new Justice was to solemnize a marriage between Esick Green and Miss Hackett, a member of the Wilkinson family. It was not the officers fault, but, for some lack of affinity, the newly-married couple soon seperated.

     The earliest comers sought two places mainly- the beautiful country about Shipshewana Lake, in the north, 
and the forks of the Little Elkhart River in the southwest. The east part of the township was in great part covered by marshes, and was not so desirable. The country was densely wooded, as a general thing, but there were large tracts of openings. An idea, however, prevailed among many of the pioneers, who were largely of Southern 
birth, that the openings were unhealthful, and the woods were consequently in favor. There were also marsh lands along the little streams which supplied the Little Elkhart, which flows, in two branches, through the southwest corner. A diagonal line through the township from northwest to southeast, is about the position of the ridge that divides the drainage of the Pigeon River from that of the Elkhart. Cass Lake, about twenty acres in extent, on the 
northern line, and Hood's, a small body in the east, are drained into the Elkhart, while the beautiful Shipshewana, one of the largest lakes in the county, and Cotton Lake, a smaller one, have their outlet in Shipshewana Creek. Cotton, Hood and Cass Lake commerate the names of the earliest settlers near them, and Shipshewana, the Pottawatomie chieftain, who is said to be buried somewhere on the banks of the lake. A lady, now deceased,
claimed to know the place of his grave, but the secret has been lost with her death. The old chief died some time prior to the settlement. His tribe inhabited the township, and their deeply cut trails ran through the woods, taking the best courses, and never missing the beaver dams, in every direction, so that the settlers had to blaze their road in order not to wander off on the wrong track. The red men hunted amicably with the whites, and would come back even after their removal to exchange venison and cranberries for the pioneers'  extra potatoes and flour.
Game was plentiful-deer and turkeys and bears. Bees were especially numerous, and one hunter cut as many as sixteen nests in one day. The earliest settlers came to the forks of the Little Elkhart, and this was also the starting point of the second settlement by the German people, who now almost entirely occupy the township. The first comers were the Woodbridges, who "squatted" in Section 19, about 1831. This was before the land was for 
sale, and there is no record of their names or later history. They soon moved away, and their cabin was old and deserted when the later settlers moved in. The land was not open to entry until much later, and the first certificate issued was to Obadiah Lawrence, dated July 17, 1835.

     In the north, a Mr. Andrews and Elijah West came in in 1834, and the next year built a dam and race and saw mill on Shipshewana Creek, near the center of Section 3. Mr. Andrews died August 24, 1835, the first 
death among the pioneers. His son, Jarius Andrews, lived in the township until his decease in 1879. West, the partner, soon moved West. This mill was in operation several years, and the damming up of the waters was 
thought to be the cause of much illness in early times, on account of its overflowing the lake. The dam was finally torn down, and the mill went to pieces. A log house in a grove near by, which forms a contrast with the fine residences in the vicinity, probably contains some of the logs of these old buildings. A little later, a number of settlers entered their lands. In 1836, Amos Davis, one of the most prominent men in the early history of the county, came to the Woodbridge place. He had already entered land, in 1835, in Section 19. He built the second
saw-mill in the township on the river here.

     Esick Green, who remained about twenty years, and Truman Wilkinson, who lived here until his death in 1857, brothers-in-law, settled about 1836. Hiram Wilkinson settled at the same time, but soon left. Charles Barron was another pioneer. Wilkinson was the neighborhood poet and lampooner in the early days. Some of 
his effusions are still remembered, and we are able to give part of one, occasioned by the tragical girdling of an 
oak in front of John Keightley's house, against Mr. K.'s wishes. The oak sings:
              "Here once I stood a handsome oak,
               This is the first I ever spoke.
               My kindred oaks shall live instead,
               While I am numbered with the dead.
               Here once I stood,a noble tree,
               Till Sam and Charlie girded me."

Another couplet was of an epitaph nature:
             "The devil,with old snaps and snarls,
              Dragged off to h--l poor Sam and Charles."

     Franklin J. Goodenough entered land in Section 7, and built the first frame barn in the township. Almon Lawrence, who had come to Van Buren in 1830, and Alexander W. Poynter, of Delaware, Alexander Berry, of Ohio, and his sons-Samuel, Conrad and Doomide- were early settlers in the neighborhood of the site of the Dunkard Church. Other early settlers were Garrett and Griffith Shrake, Warren Stiles, James Cotton, a carpenter, who gave his name to Cotton Lake, and Samuel Hood, who is similarly honored. Joseph Keasy,
later of St. Joseph County, Ind., came, in 1836, from Fulton County, Ohio. It was on his farm, at the house of Joseph Nelson, that the first church was organized in the fall of 1837, by a Methodist evangelist, who used to go about on foot among the settlers, doing good. This pioneer preacher had the simple name of Brown, but from his residence received the euphonious title of "Bald Hill" Brown. He went from here to a more arduous field-
to Texas. Joseph Nelson was the class-leader of this little organization, which had about nine members starting. James Latta, of the Haw Patch, and Christopher Cory, were among the early preachers. In those days, 
families would walk three or four miles for a sermon, and find their way home by the light of a clapboard torch.

     In February, 1837, George Lotterer took possession of land, including that owned at present by Horatio Halbert, on Shipshewana Lake, where he laid out a village called Georgetown, which never grew beyond the paper. Mr. Lotterer was then the richest man in Newbury, and had just previously owned the plat of Ontario.
He remained in the township until about eight years since, when he removed to Fort Scott, Kan.

     John Keightly and Peter N. Keightly moved upon their land near Shipshewana Lake in the fall of 1836.
The latter soon moved into Van Buren, but the former is still an honored citizen of this township. Mr. K. came from England, in 1828, to Tompkins County, N. Y., married Miss M. A. Winter in 1830, and started for 
Indiana in November, 1836. The journey was a sample of that which the patient pioneer went through- a day's
journey eight or ten miles, deep mud in what were called the roads, no bridges but crossways of logs, and these sometimes almost washed away by floods. Soon after Mr. Keightly had built a house, it was burned, probably 
by an incendiary, and some $1,500 in money, lying in the house, was never seen again by the owner. Such was 
the life in the good old days, full of hardship and disappointment, in great contrast with the comfort of the present.
A schoolhouse, in which religious services were held, was built on the northeast corner of Mr. K's land, where a graveyard is situated. Methodist meetings were also held at his residence, where among other attendants were George and Melicent Winter, brothers-in-law of the Keightlys, who came in with them from Tompkins County, N.Y., in 1836. George Winter was born in Lincolnshire, England, and died in Newbury in 1868. His wife had died in 1854. His son, Wrinch Winter, who was only eight years old on moving here, now occupies a finely situated residence on the old homestead, in view of Shipshewana Lake. Among other early settlers, Peter Schermerhorn entered land in Section 5, and died north of the Yoder settlement. In 1845, Francis Lampman,
of Oswego County, N. Y., settled in northwest Newbury. He remained upon the farm until 1864, when he 
removed to Lima, where he was still living in 1881, at the age of eighty-three. Among the later comers in the northeast is Elias Wight, who came from Ohio in 1854, and lives upon Section 3. Mr. Wight was elected County Commissioner in 1879.

     The trading of the early days was done mostly at White Pigeon and Middlebury. Some hauling was done from more distant points. In 1837, Amos Davis brought through flour and goods from Michigan City to Lima with five yokes of oxen. LaGrange, then, was unborn, and the country to Middlebury was almost impassable, except on foot. On the White Pigeon trail there were but two houses. In 1833, a road was run through from Lima to Goshen by John Kromer, and this was the only one until 1836, when a party went through the township eastward, 
running the Baubaga road to the future county seat. Amos Davis, about 1840, surveyed three roads- the Middlebury and Haw Patch, which follows the course of the main branch of the Little Elkhart, the Middlebury 
road to intersect the Goshen road, and the White Pigeon and Ligonier road.

     The first schoolhouse was put up on the farm of Joseph Keasy, on Section 19. The house was of unsquared logs, with a low roof, and densely-shaded in a little opening in the forest. The first teacher was Miss Mary Pomeroy. The teachers were not heavily paid in the early days. The ladies would get as low as $1.25 and up to 
$2 a week in the summer schools. There was quite a discussion at first about how long school should be kept.
That it should be nine hours a day was agreed, but some were of the opinion and some not, that for the munificent wages school should be taught six days in the week. The second schoolhouse was a log one, on Section 20, built 
in 1840, and the third on Section 19, about 1842.

     Besides the early preaching already mentioned, a Presbyterian society met at Forest Grove, southwest of 
Davis' Mill, and the United Brethren and Free-Will Baptists had meetings occassionally in various places. All 
these small socities worked together for the common good. At present the Methodist meeting place is Shipshewana Schoolhouse, included in the Middlebury Circuit, now under charge of Rev. John T. Blakemore.

     In 1838, Newbury experienced its share of the ague and bilious fever. Like the rain of  that spring, it fell on all alike, and like the drought of the fall, it had no intermission. Drs. Latta, of Goshen, and Elliott, of Middlebury would call about twice a week upon the unfortunate shakers. There was quite a mortality among the young on account of the fever.

     The hopes of the settlers were raised to a considerable height by the talk in an early day of the Buffalo & Mississippi Railroad, and deeply sunk by its failure. The road was surveyed through the northern part of the township. The same experience was repeated by a preliminary survey of the Baltimore & Ohio road in later years.

     In 1839, Amos Davis was chosen an Associate Judge for the county, and held the position until the abolition of the office, sitting on the bench with Judges Hobbs and Spaulding.

     Mr. Davis was born in Loudon County, Va., in 1797. When yet a boy, he went to Ohio, where his parents settled in Fairfield County. He was a man of ability and energy. Mr. Davis represented LaGrange and Elkhart Counties in the Legislature in 1862-64, and was active on the side of the war party in the struggle between Gov. Morton and the majority of the Legislature. He removed to Greenfield Mills, and died October 5, 1867, from the 
effects of an injury received on his seventieth birthday. His son Hezekiah Davis, was eleven years of age when 
he first saw Newbury, and has ever since remained here. He has served the county as Commissioner for thirteen years, beginning in 1853. In 1848, he moved to his present commodious residence in Section 2, which is a 
portion of his farm. Newbury has always been remarkable for its quietness and freedom from crime. Of 
course, there has been a law-suit now and then, but, as a rule, she furnishes little litigation. The first law-suit in the township was before Justice Davis, and between Sylvanus Lamb and Charles Hascall over a difficulty in the division of land. This called in lawyers- Mitchell, of Constantine, and Chamberlain, of Goshen. No causes celebres have come from Newbury since that time. Especially since the Amish and other German sects have 
taken up the most of the township  has everything been peaceful. There was once a case of horse-thieving which caused considerable sensation. Three horses were stolen in 1855, or thereabouts, and taken to Pennsylvania, whence the owner received them after expending much more than their value in the search.

     As far as the records show, the following is a list of the Justices of Newbury: Amos Davis, 1837-42; 
Andrew Ashbaugh,1842-47; Alexander W. Poynter, 1845-50; Perley R. Cady, 1852-57; John Butt, 1859-71; Benjamin F. Lieb, 1856-60; Oliver Lampman, 1859-67; Jacob Hines, 1863-69; H. J. Vandorsten, 1869-73; William Wiler, 1873-75; Horatio Halbert, 1875-84; Michael Hoff, 1880-84. At the census of 1880, there were found to be the following named persons, residents of the township, who were over seventy-five years of age: Horatio Halbert, seventy-seven; George Miller, eighty-five; Joel Yoder, eighty; Fannie Miller, eighty-three; Francis Walter, eighty-four.

     In 1844, an event of great importance was the first settlement of members of the Amish Church, in the southwest portion of the township. Daniel and Joseph Miller came on horseback to Davis' place, on a prospecting tour, out two months from Somerset County, Penn. They stopped here and bought farms, Daniel Miller taking the old Woodbridge place. Soon after, Christian Bontrager and Joseph Bontrager bought farms in Sections 19 and 20. This was the beginning of an inflow of Germans from Pennsylvania, at first, and later from Holmes County, Ohio. Emanuel Miller, who bought land in Section 29, and Philip Weirick were also among the earliest settlers. John C. Yoder, familiarly called the doctor, on account of his skill in healing some of the human ills, came in November, 1844, from Somerset County, where he was born in 1821. He still resides 
upon his farm near the Moses Kaufman mill-race (1849), on the Little Elkhart, and is a patriarch among the 
original Amish. This branch of the church, which is distinguished by a strict observance of all the old customs, has 
a large membership among the Germans, who now occupy almost the whole of Newbury. There are three 
districts of the old school in the township, the southern one having, in 1881, 161 members, the western 100, and the northern, including part of Van Buren, about one hundred and twenty. Each district has its Bishop and two ministers. The Bishop alone can perform the rites of baptism and marriage. At present this position is held by Dr. Yoder and David Kaufman.  The peculiar characteristic of the church is a literal observance of every injunction 
of the Scriptures, as they understand them. There are no meeting-houses, but they meet at the homes of the members; no written creed is used by the church; the apostolic rite of feet-washing is observed at the meetings.
But the most obvious characteristic is that no ornament of any kind is tolerated on the person, nor in the way of paint or plaster in the houses, nor any brilliant coloring about the buildings. The natural grace and beauty of the person is altogether unthought of, or only considered as a snare of the evil one. As no conformity to the world is allowed, something like a German peasant costume is still used, and as buttons are under the ban, hooks and eyes supply the neccessary fastenings. Lightning rods were for sometime forbidden. As for literature, there is nothing in much favor but the sacred Scriptures. The Amish seem to conform their social lives especially to Paul's 
instructions to the Corinthians, and renounce the world, even to the extent of casting out from among themselves 
all who have worldly failings. In avoiding the world, politics, of course is somewhat neglected, but more formerly than of  late. German is also spoken continually in their home life, and this is another "tie," and distinction from the "world." A marked degree of mortality pervades this people. The children are educated to read and write well,
but higher studies are considered useless. Financially they are prudent, frugal and successful, and allow none of their members to depend upon the county for support. Besides this home charity, foreign charities are well
contributed to. In many of these particulars, the other German socities agree with the Old Amish. There are four branches of the church in this township. The other leading one is the New Amish, which is about twenty-five 
years old, and has about two hundred members. It has but one meeting-place, a frame church, erected in 1863,
at the Forks, which cost some $600, and seats 500 persons. In 1881, Jonas Troyer was the Bishop, with four subordinate preachers- Emanuel Hostettler, Seth Troyer, Christian S. Plank and Christian Miller. The 
new church believes in going into the water for baptism, while the old adheres to sprinkling on dry land. There is also no rule in regard to clothing, and more freedom in customs. The Mennonite Church resembles the Amish, being, infact, the original from which the Amish sprang, and a union between them is not unlikely. The Mennonites have a church upon the Baubage road, at Lake Shore, which was erected in the fall of 1874.

     The German Baptist Church, or "Dunker," has a large following in this township. The earliest efforts of the church were in 1854, when meetings were begun in the Poynter Schoolhouse. In 1857, the church was partly organized, and Samuel Doney and Samuel Lupold appointed deacons. Samuel Lupold has remained one of 
the ministers and elders till the present. David Evans and Benjamin Leer have also served as ministers. At the 
present time, David M. Truby is elder of the district, including Newbury, and Benjamin Leer minister of the Shipshewana Church. On Christmas, 1874, this society dedicated a frame church, on the land of Samuel Lupold, which is valued at $700. Regular meetings are held here fortnightly, and a Sunday school at the Marsh Schoolhouse. The membership of the church is about ninety.

     The post office of Pashan was established in 1844, and was kept at the house of Amos Davis until his removal, when it was discontinued. In 1872, it was re-established at a small settlement north of the Baubaga road, near the center of the township. This little "burg,"  in 1881, is in possession of one business house, a store, kept by Harmon Stutsman, who is also Deputy Postmaster; the chief in this department is Dr. Myers, the resident physician. These, with the smithy, make up the business part of the settlement. In 1881, a post office was 
established at the neighborhood called Lake Shore, near Hood Lake, and the official name of the post office is Shore. It, as well as Pashan and Emma, lies on the mail route between Goshen and LaGrange. In 1881, the neighborhood contained about twelve families. Dr. W. H.. Shrock, who has been here four years in the practice of medicine, holds the position of Postmaster. The omnipresent blacksmith shops are owned by Benedict Miller
and Jacob Lupold. Amos Walters, who has been a resident for many years, owns a steam saw-mill which was built here about 1870, by Charles and Monroe Atwater, and does an extensive business in lumbering. A schoolhouse and the Mennonite Church are on the shore of the lake. In the southeast corner of  the township is 
the settlement and post office, now called Emma; formerly the place was known as Eden Mills, but went down under that title. The saw-mill here is within Newbury, and is owned by Joseph Schrock. Jacob and Andrew Hostettler are the propietors of a store, and the former attends to the United States mail.
 


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

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