1882 COUNTIES OF 
LaGRANGE and NOBLE INDIANA HISTORICAL and BIOGRAPHICAL

Chicago F.A. Battey and Company Publishers 1882
 

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP
Part 2
By: R. H. Rerick

Van Buren Township- Surface Features-Incidents of Early Settlement-
Catalogue of Pioneers-Village of Marion- Industrial Growth-Village of Van Buren-
The Dwight and Barnes Tragedy- Learning and Religion

     By 1837, the land was practically all taken up by actual settlers and speculators, and was held at $5 per acre. The most efficient aid in the development of the country has been the building of the Michigan Southern Railway, through one of the early trading posts, White Pigeon. At that time land at once rose from $10 to $20 per acre. Since then the advance in prosperity has been steady and marked. The population has gradually increased
and embraces, besides those already named, many men of wealth and social importance. In politics the township has been steadily Republican. The records show the following persons to have served as Justice of the Peace, though the list may not be complete: Alfred Martin, 1841-46; Charles Dwight, 1844-49; David Elmore, 1844-49; H. B. Ostrander, 1849-54; Josiah B. Cook, 1851-52; C. W. Wilson, 1852-68; John W. McIntyre, 1854-58; C. W. Chapin, 1867-77; James Galloway, 1869-73; James Haggerty, 1877; Edwin Owen 1878.

     Schools were a matter to which the earliest comers gave their attention. Until the sale of the school lands, the settlers paid their teachers directly, which was not a severe tax, as the usual rate was about $1 a week. Clarissa Munger was the first school-ma'am, and gathered the young ideas at a log schoolhouse on the land of Nathaniel Callahan in Section 17. Later, a school was started at the village, in 1835, at Marion, and, in 1836 or 1837, another school south of the river at Nicholas Sidener's, where a graveyard now is. In the west the earliest were the Marshall Schoolhouse on the Vistula road, the Bethel on Section 17, and a log house on the shore of Stone Lake.

     There are now in the township ten neat frame houses, valued at $6,000, which are attended by 410 pupils. Eleven teachers are employed at an average rate of $1.50 for men and $1.37 for women. In 1880, some $2,500 were expended for tuition.

     The history of the churches is another matter intimately connected with the lives of the people. A Methodist Episcopal society yet exists at VanBuren, which was organized in 1834 by Charles Best, an Ohio exhorter.
There were about five members, including Esther and John Olney and Nancy Callahan. The first preacher in the township was Christopher Cory, a Presbyterian minister, then of White Pigeon. In 1848, the Methodist Church at Van Buren was erected, and has since been used as a union meeting-house.

     In the west, the earliest religious meetings were held at the house of  Jason and George Jones, north of the old Bethel Schoolhouse, in 1841 or 1842, Prayer-meetings were held there, and at the time of the Millerite excitement they were largely attended. It was in "about 1843" that the world was to finish up its career, and the year before, 1842, Elders Speers, Stalker and Burns, of  "somewhere about" Orland, commenced revival meetings in the old Callahan Schollhouse. A very exciting and memorable time followed. The meetings lasted six weeks,and about forty persons were converted. The Baptist Church in Van Buren was organized in 1858, with fifteen members. Since then they have steadily maintained their meetings, and have since recieved some forty members; but, owing to constant changes in residence, the society is hardly more numerous now then at first. In
1864, a Methodist society was organized at the Marshall Schoolhouse by George W. Newton.

     The Protestant Methodist society in Van Buren was organized by Fred Soy about 1851, with twenty-five or thirty members, as the result of an extensive revival. About 1869, an "Abright"or Evangelist Church was 
organized and a church built on the Defiance road two miles east of the village, at a cost of about $2,400. There were about fifty members in 1881.

     The only county officers the township has furnished besides Coroner Belote have been Gabriel T.
McIntyre, who was a resident of the township a year or two before his election as Sheriff, in 1853, and Seldon Martin, who was elected a Commissioner in 1837.

     The township has suffered very little from crime. There is a rememberance of one case of horse stealing, in 1844 or 1845, from Henry Albert. The freedom of the people of late from these marauders is no doubt due to the organization of a Protective Association, September, 1866. This was re-organized for ten years in 1876, and had, in 1881, sixty-five members, and $135 in the treasury, devoted to the capture of criminals. The association
is so organized that a strong body of men can be collected, at any point, in an exceedingly short time. An annual meeting of the members is required each year, in September. In 1880-81, the officers were Frank Galloway, President; John McDonald, Treasurer; and William Bycroft, Secretary.

     The saddest tragedy in the annals of the county took place, singularly enough, on the quiet, charming beach of Stone Lake, where one would expect nothing but the ripple of the waves, the songs of the birds, and the laughter of children, which this mad crime so rudely disturbed. Addie Dwight, a chrming young lady of eighteen years,
who was admired and respected by all who met her, the youngest daughter of Charles Dwight, was teaching
at the Lake Schoolhouse and took her pupils down to the lake at noon, on June 22, 1871, to give them a 
promised frolic on the beach. While here, unconcious of any danger, Chauncey Barnes, a young man living near this place, in Elkhart County, drove up, accompanied by a young woman of White Pigeon, and asked for an interview with the school teacher. They walked away together for a short distance. Barnes had, for some time, been paying marked attentions to Miss Dwight, but she had declined to recieve his company, and his attempts at a reconcilliation had been in vain. He took his disappoinment very much to heart, and, suffering from jealousy, he went to see her this day for a last attempt, and madly resolved to end her life and his, if he could not win her. As the children came toward the two, seated together at some distance, a pistol shot was heard, and Addie was
seen, with her hands raised, begging for her life. But a second bullet was sent crashing through her head, and she fell dead at the feet of her lover and murderer. Barnes then emptied the revolver into his own head, and when the neighbors came to the scene, though bleeding horribly, he was reloading his revolver, determined to take his own life. The murderer was confined in the county jail, and for some time was at the point of death, but finally recovered. At his trial, the defense was insanity, but though ably defended, he was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to the penitentiary for life. He is still confined there. This causeless crime, which so cruelly blotted out 
an innocent young life, aroused great feeling throughout the county, and much sympathy was expressed for the victim, and indignation toward the murderer. This latter, however, was softened by his attempted suicide, and the sorrow of his family. It was one of those events which, though having a tinge of romance in history and stories of love and sorrow, are too terribly tragic in the real life of one's own generation.

     Since that time, the history of the township has afforded little of interest. In 1880, according to the census of that year, there were ten residents of the township, each of whom was seventy-five years of age, or over, their names being, with their respective ages: Ann Brockway, seventy-eight; Robert Smith, seventy-six; Maria 
Hoff, seventy-five; Elizabeth Smith, seventy-five; John H. Hoofnagle, eighty-three; Elizabeth Dayton, seventy-five; David Seybert, eighty-one; Henry Young, seventy-five; Lydia Young, seventy-five; Andrew Henkle, eighty-five.

     Van Buren is the only village, and Scott is the only post office in the township, and these are one and the same. The original plat of the village was owned by the Martin brothers- Seldon, Phylammen and Alfred - who bought 280 acres in this section of the Goverment in December, 1833. In 1837, the village was surveyed by Delevan Martin. The plat was in April, 1844, enlarged by an addition at the north by Nicholas N. Sixby.
Before the plat was surveyed, the enterprises were established which have since been the chief  feature of the town- the lumber and flouring mills. The Martins built a saw-mill upon the fine water-power which the Pigeon affords at this point, in the summer of 1834, and, during the next, erected a flouring-mill. The mosquitoes were formidable at that time, and it is said that the Martins could not sleep until they constructed a platform up in the
trees, where the troublesome insects would be less numerous. The old mills have, of course, disappeared, and, since then, mills have been put in, capable of turning out, in the palmy days of Van Buren, 15,000 barrels of  flour per year, and 350,000 feet of lumber. But at the present time, little more then custom work is done.

     James Haggerty, who was, in 1881, still living in Van Buren, came to the place in 1835, having exchanged 
his land in Michigan for mill property. Mr. Haggerty was originally from New Jersey, where he lived in the town of  New Brunswick, just across the street from Commodore Vanderbilt, whom the old pioneer remembers gratefully as a kind neighbor and generous patron. His brother, Michael Haggerty, was here in 1837, but 
removed, and returned in 1855, since when he has been a resident of the village, and for some time Justice of the Peace. In 1836, Pierce built a blacksmith shop, and was rewarded for his enterprise by being elected, in 1837,
the first Justice. Thus the village smithy became the hall of Justice. Harvey B. Ostrander, about the same time, established himself in the cooper business, one Crary built a wagon-shop, and C. Z. Barnes, carepenter, came 
to town. L. D. Brooks built a house on Lot 5, in Sixby's Addition, and kept a tavern. A physician, Dr. Sidney Cobb, lived in the village about a year, then dying, he was succeeded by Dr. William Fox in 1838. His brothers, George and James Fox, were the shoemakers of the town. John Rank and father, Joel H. Sanford, Kellogg Munger and Miner were among the residents. Thus it will be seen that Van Buren in its early days was a 
flourishing and promising settlement, and would have fulfilled all its early promise had it not been for the perverse running of the railway too far to the north. A log house owned by Pierce, vacated in 1837, and donated to the township, was the first schoolhouse in the village. There is now a two-story frame building, 26x40, devoted to this purpose.

     In 1836, the Martins started a distillery in a large log building near the mill, and ran the establishment until 
after 1840, when the removal of the Indians terminated the greater demand for a distillery. Another one was run 
for some time after, at the Hart place, below the mills. A post office was established at Van Buren under the 
name of Scott, in 1836, and was upon the line between White Pigeon and Fort Wayne. Clark was the first postmaster. A frame church was built about 1858, and is still in use by all the denomiations. In 1881, there were two stores in the village, owned by Frank Galloway and Dr. W. B. Grubb, who has practiced medicine here since 1865. Dr. A. Toms is another physician in this place. William Allison, a resident of the village since 1867, and of the township since 1860, has held the position of Trustee for ten years in succession, and, in 1881, was commencing another series of years. He has proved one of the most efficient officers in the county.
 



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

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