1882 COUNTIES OF 
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL

Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
 

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP
Part 1
By: Weston A. Goodspeed

 Springfield Township-Mongoquinong Fifty Years Ago-The French Traders-More Of The Gage
  and Langdon War-Saw-Mills,Woolen-Mills,Distilleries,Etc.-Incidents Of
  The "Hard Cider Campaign"-Wild Game-Township Organization-Village
     of Springfield-Schools and Churches-Spiritualism-Union Hall.
 

     The first white settler in what is now Springfield Township was probably John B. Clark, who, according to 
his sister, Mrs. Judge Prentiss, located on the west bank of Turkey Creek, near the center of the township, sometime during the autumn of 1830. He was, of course, a squatter, as were also all others before the fall of 
1832, and, so far as known, was the only one before the spring of 1831. At that time, a man named L. K. Brownell, an enterprising settler, located a claim at what is now Mongoquinong. He had considerable money at command, which was immediately invested in the construction of a dam across Pigeon River. At the same time, 
he began the erection of a two-storied grist-mill, completing both it and the dam during the summer of 1831; so that, in August of the same year, a fair article of flour was furnished by the mill. Two sets of buhrs were employed, one for wheat and the other for corn. Mr. Brownell was not a practical miller, but employed a man, whose name is not remembered, to manage the running of the mill. The vicinity of the mill, in years before, had been the site of 
a temporary encampment of Pottawatomies, and, for a number of years afterward they continued to assemble there at certain seasons. As everyone knows, they were extremely fond of whisky, and would resort to any means 
to get it. An Indian (unless pretty well civilized) does not sell his furs; he barters them for something he wants. He goes in for bulk, much as the Irishman did with the boots. The result was that they were easily cheated by unscrupulous traders, who obtained their peltries for a comparative pittance. French traders from Fort Wayne established themselves at Mongo, two of them being (as well as the writer can spell their names), Druryeaur and Cuttieaur. The latter was in business in Fort Wayne, in the partnership of Comparet & Cuttieaur, while the former, so far as known, was not connected with them, unless in the purchase of fancy articles for the Indian trade, and in the disposal of the furs thus obtained. Druryeaur was at Mongo as soon as Brownell, and there he remained until late in the autumn of 1832, when so much hostility was shown him by everyone, on account of his responsibility for the "Gage and Langdon war," that he found it unprofitable to remain longer, whereupon he removed his trading station, some say, to an Indian village in Michigan. Brownell, at the time he built his grist-mill, saw at once the profit to be realized from the sale of whisky to the Indians and the settlers; and he, therefore, erected a large distillery building near his mill, and employed a practical distiller to conduct the manufacture. His expectations were more than realized, as the most of his whisky (from thirty to forty gallons per day) was purchased and consumed almost as fast as it was made. The distillery and the mill together furnished a market for grain that the settlers appreciated. They could take their corn to the mill, get it ground, and then take it to the distillery, where it was either exchanged for so much whisky, or was brewed on shares. Druryeaur had a small tradinghouse across the river from the mill, where his furs were kept, and where he dealt out whisky to his red friends. As soon as the mill and distillery were up and running, many persons searching homes were attracted to 
the spot. The place was certainly promising at that time, for there was the large encampment of Indians across the river from the mill; there was the grist-mill furnishing flour and meal for a large section of country; there was the abundance of large and excellent fish in the broad mill-pond; there were the wild game and the furs of all kinds brought in by the Indians and the white trappers and hunters, and there was the market for grain. The mill and the distillery were no sooner up than a man named John O'Ferrell, a native of the "Emerald Isle," came to the place and erected a small storeroom, in which was placed a stock of goods worth about $400. The stock consisted mainly of those miscellaneous articles most needed in the backwoods. Some say that Brownell owned part of the stock, and it is very likely he did, as he would scarcely let the golden opportunity of deriving so excellent a profit pass easily into other hands. The facts, however, as to the ownership of the store are not clear. O'Ferrell was certainly the first store-keeper, and, while he was there, kept the post office for a short time. Arthur Burrows opened a hotel in 1833, paying $7.50 per annum license. At the same time, O'Ferrell was licensed to sell 
merchandise, paying therefor $20 per annum, and at the same rate for the time he had been selling without a license. There was a blacksmith at the village, but his name is not remembered. This was the Mongo of 1833.

     The originators or perpetrators of the Indian scare, known as the "Gage and Langdon war," were the Frenchman Druryeaur, the Irishman O'Ferrell, the Yankee Brownell, the German miller, and a few native Americans. Such a unity of nationality could not fail to produce a sensation. All persons at the time were talking about the Black Hawk was, and speculating as to the probability of trouble with the Pottawatomies. Those easily 
frightened saw dreadful times ahead, and were ready for the scare. The details are told in the chapter on Greenfield. Langdon fled to Brushy Prairie, and told the few settlers there of the massacre at the mill. Men for miles around armed themselves and repaired in haste to the spot, to assist in quelling the outbreak. Over one hundred assembled, though, for some reason unknown, no organization was effected. About seventy-five Indians were encamped near by. They thought the whites were going to attack them, and hung out the white flag. In
truth, the settlers could hardly be restrained from firing upon them. It was not long before the truth became known,and then the perpetrators of the hoax were treated to an exhibition of wrath and indignation. So hostile were the settlers to the jokers that trade at the mill, the distillery and the store languished. Under this pressure, the Frenchman left the place; and very likely the early disappearance of O'Ferrell, and the sale of the property of
Brownell were hastened, if not caused, by their perpetration of the joke. Do not say the story is magnified. When 100 men assemble, armed and prepared for fight; when attempts are made to build forts and garrison islands in lakes, that section of the country is in earnest and means business. Such are the facts, at least.

     Among the earliest settlers in the township were William S. Prentiss, Benjamin Jones, Jesse Huntsman, Joseph Foos, Benjamin Foos, William Seaburn, Erastus Haskins, George Thompson, Elijah Fothergill, Drusus Nichols, Otis Shepardson, George Ray (Peckham), William Bullmer, Samuel Bradford, Norman Dyer, Jacob and Isaac Gage, David Michael, Barnabas Thompson and others. At the same time, and prior to 1839, there came Leonard Appleman, Russell Brown, Almon Brine, Isaac Carpenter, Moses Chapin, Conrad Deal, W. B. Dunn, George Donaldson, Edwin Davis, Robert Dayton, William Eastlick, the 
Emersons, Rufus Freeman, Robert and G. W. Greenfield, Elias Gilbert, Job Gifford, Jacob
Greene, J. T. Hobbs, John and William Hall, Luke Hammond, Charles Hull, Sylvanus Hatch, Orsemus Jackway, Jehu Lackey, W. S. Newnam, D. I. and N. B. Newnam, T. H. Nichols, Harvey and Elisha Olmstead, Richard Rice, David Sockrider, Edward Smith, Hiram Smith, E. G. Shepardson, James Shears, Elisha Talmage, B. B. Waterhouse, the Wades, Sheldon Williams, Job and James Wilcox, A. T. Waliace, Samuel H. Wright, Samuel Westcott, Ephraim Seeley, Jacob Vandeventer and others. The greatest rush into the township was during the years 1836 and 1837. The terrible sickly season of 1838 swept away many of the settlers, and,on account of the drought, the crops of that year were poor. This state of
things, following in the wake of the financial crash of 1837, carried hard times to the verge of desperation. Counterfeiters, theives and others of their ilk overran the country, and soon honest settlers could not depend 
upon the integrity of their neighbors.

     In 1832, George Bullmer erected a saw-mill on Pigeon River, in the eastern part of the township. A dam 
was built across the river after a great deal of trouble, and a short race or chute carried water to the flutter-wheel, which communicated motion to the saw. The mill was a good one, turning out a considerable quantity of lumber.
In 1833, Samuel Bradford erected a saw-mill on Turkey Creek, about a mile from its mouth. The race was 
about half a mile long, and the owner himself expressed doubt, while it was being dug, whether it would carry the necessary water to the mill. George Thompson worked on the race, and, according to his account, the mill did not begin to run until the spring of 1834. The mill, greatly altered in appearance and capacity, is yet in operation.
In 1838, William S. Prentiss erected one on the same creek, on Section 34; this is yet in operation. A saw-mill was early built at Mongo; it is yet running. These were the only early mills. In the fall of 1834 or spring of 1835, Samuel Bradford erected an addition to his saw-mill, and placed therein the necessary machinery for carding wool. In November, 1836, he sold both mills and the eighty acres of land upon which they stand to Josiah T. Hobbs; Mr. Crane was employed to conduct the carding-mill; wool was taken there by the settlers to be carded, after which it was taken home, spun, woven into cloth, and returned to the mill to be dressed and colored. No cloth was probably manufactured, several old settlers to the contrary. After many years, the property passed into the control of John and James Tinkler, who, for a short time, infused new life into the enterprise, and probably talked of purchasing weaving machinery and employing a weaver; they did not, however, but within about two years left the place with many debts behind, going to some point in Michigan. While the mill was under the ownership of Hobbs, large quantities of wool were carded, the value of the enterprise being fully appreciated by the settlers over a large scope of country. The carding-mill died with the disappearance of the Tinkler boys.

     In about the year 1836, or earlier, the mill property at Mongoquinong was purchased by Drusus Nichols, as were also the O'Ferrell store and the distillery. A man named Skeels was employed to conduct the mill. In 1837, George Smith became the distiller. Nichols himself managed affairs at the store. He increased the stock until it was worth about $6,000, and at times had a very large trade. As high as fifty gallons of whisky were 
manufactured in one day. The distillery ran very successfully until about 1842, when it was destroyed by fire, and was not rebuilt. The old grist-mill was used under a change of owners until 1869, when the present structure was erected by C. L. Hawk, who is yet the owner. Nichols died about 1848, and the property passed to Robert Dykes, and afterward to others. Staley and Payne were coopers, who were in the village very early; they manufactured whisky kegs and barrels, and found a sale for all they could make, if not there, at other distilleries,
of which there were several in the surrounding townships. In 1835, there were some seven or eight families living 
in the village. William Hall was an early hotel keeper, as were also Albert Powell and a man named Davis.
John Brisco and the Sheldons were other tavern keepers. The Sheldon brothers were physicians, and were among the earliest of that profession in the township. Erastus Haskins was an early blacksmith; John D. Filkins was another. While Judge Seeley was at Lima, a post office called Mongoquinong was established there, and he received the appointment as Postmaster. About this time he removed to Greenfield Township, taking the office, which retained the same name, with him. Finally in about 1833 or 1834, he moved to Springfield Township, and the office was removed to Union Mills, as it was then called, and O'Ferrell, or as some say Nichols, received 
the appointment as Postmaster; the office still retaining its first name. Drusus Nichols was Postmaster for many years. Mason Brown was an early mail carrier on the Fort Wayne & Lima road; Bourie of Fort Wayne was another; William Legg, another. During the years 1844, 1845 and 1846, Drusus Nichols shipped over 1,000 barrels of flour annually to Fort Wayne and other points, as to Adrian, Mich. At the same time, large quantities were consumed at home. Nichols built the first saw-mill at the village about the time he bought out Brownell and O'Ferrell. Robert Dykes, the successor of Nichols, carried on a very extensive business. Edmund G. Shepardson has been in business in the village for the past seventeen years. Mr. Hawk has been in business 
there for a long time.

     During the Presidential campaign of 1840, several prominent candidates for Congress were announced to speak in Mongoquinong. Eight hundred men gathered to hear them. Bands of martial music came in four-horse wagons, with drums beating and colors flying. Great enthusiasm was manifested for "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." 
A gayly decorated wagon from Angola appeared, the wagon-box being a large canoe, in which a fine martial
band was seated. It was a great Whig day, though many Democrats were present to see the show and hear the speakers. Games were projected, and the sturdy politicians enjoyed themselves. It is said that Samuel Burnside, at hop, step and jump, on this day, cleared fortysix feet. Losey Young and John Davidson did about as well.
Otis Shepardson, Sr., felt unwell while in Nichols' store, whereupon the later bathed his head with whisky. This 
started the idea that every Democrat present should be baptized with whisky into the Whig faith. It is impossible to describe the scene that ensued. Whigs with mugs of whisky in their hands were seen in all directions chasing down Democrats, running through houses and gardens, jumping fences, clearing ditches in their precipitous efforts at political regeneration. Many were baptized on that wee-remembered day. Drusus Nichols employed a surveyor, and, in March, 1840, had laid out about one hundred and eighty lots on Sections 5 and 8. This was the first plat of Mongoquinong. That long name has been lately shortened to Mongo. The population of the village has probably at no time exceeded onehundred and fifty.

     In early years, the streams of Springfield afforded an excellent place to fish and hunt. Hunters with flaming torches would float down the streams in canoes, and the deer which had come to drink would stand and stare at the light until shot. E. G. Shepardson and a companion were thus engaged one night, when they approached a deer so closely that they could have reached out their hands and touched it. Shepardson shot it through the heart.
The report of the rifle rang in the ears of his companion for many years afterward. The deer fell partly across the boat. An old Indian near there was thus engaged one dark night, when he shot a deer that plunged into his canoe, upsetting it, and spilling the red man and his accouterments into the river. The old fellow reached shore in safety. Many years ago, the workmen who were excavating under a barn in the township unearthed two human 
skeletons, probably those of Indians. Some say the skeletons belonged to persons who were murdered by a man named Hubbard, who had lived there very early, and who afterward was convicted of murder in Allen County,
and punished. Springfield has within its border a Government signal station.

     After the organization of the county, and prior to May, 1834, Springfield Township remained attached to Greenfield; but, at the latter date, the County Commissioners- in response to a petition presented them by John B. Clark, Jesse Huntsman, Joseph and Benjamin Foos, William Seaburn, Benjamin Jones, William S. Prentiss, and possibly a few others, who had sometime before met at a cabin built and abandoned by Samuel Gauthrop, and had drawn up the petition in which it asked that a new township be created, and that it be named Springfield- ordered the creation of such township, and directed that the first election be held at the residence of Benjamin Jones, on the first Monday in August, 1834. Mr. Prentiss was appointed Inspector of the election. Who were elected to the different township offices is not remembered. George Thompson was appointed by the Commissioners in September, 1834, to serve as Constable. In May, 1835, they appointed Benjamin Jones and Jesse Huntsman to officiate as Overseers of the Poor; and David Michael and Edward Smith as Fence Viewers. At this time, the township was divided into two road districts, the division line being Turkey Creek. Joseph Foos was appointed Supervisor for the district west of the creek, and Leonard Appleman for that on the east side. Jane Clark, daughter of John B. Clark, was the first white child born in the township, June 4, 1831.
In 1832, Ephraim Seeley, Esq., married William S. Prentiss and Jane Mary Clark. Some highly
interesting works of the Mound-Builders are found in the western part of the township- fortifications, mounds,
war implements, etc.
 


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

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