Bourbon Sesquicentennial

Bourbon Town Hall

Light and Shadow Cast Upon the Movement – Claims set Forth that It Is a Political Move – A "Coon" in the Wood Pile


The January 21, 1897 edition of the News Mirror contained two pieces of ‘news’ which had the potential to greatly impact the town.

Word had circulated that the Pennsylvania Railroad would relocate the present depot to the east to either the Marshall – Kosciusko County line or north of the local railroad car house near Main Street. Railroad officials had not commented on either location.

In that same issue a report was made concerning a petition which was being circulated requesting the dissolution of the town corporation. The petition, bearing more than the required number of signatures, was presented during a counsel meeting and, according to the editor, "no doubt would have passed the council, if a reaction had not set in caused by the rumor, that is was a political move,"

According to the report, one story was that a few of the prominent republican politicians wanted to enlarge the corporation so as to make the council solid republican. Another story circulating in the rumor mill was that if the corporation was dissolved, a few of the most heavily taxed property owners would attempt to defeat any moves to re-incorporate, thus evading the corporation tax. News Mirror editor Burt Harris appealed to all citizens to continue "working for the best interest of our town." He added, "We honestly think there is not a man connected with this matter, who would endeavor to grind a political or personal ax, to the detriment of our city. " There is no need for us to say how badly we need water works and electric lights; nor is it a secret that inactivity, which has predominated so long, awakes us to the fact that property has so depreciated in value, that sufficient money cannot be raised to put in either of the needed improvements. "As we have said before, something must be done to help our town out of the rut and it is the duty of every man to lend his assistance in bringing about harmonious action."

Harris’ eloquent words must have fallen on cooler heads as 1-˝ years after those turbulent times. " town departments and their respective families, the town board, and the Bourbon Cornet Band, together with a few invited guests" of the yet incorporated town attended the dedication ceremony of the newly constructed city hall building.

"The building was of brick, 36 by 50 feet in size and two stories high. The lower floor was designed for the exclusive use of the fire department with two large double, self-opening front doors. The second floor is to be used for city hall purposes, and features a small room for the use of the town board."

"The cost of the building complete will not exceed $2,800", was the promise made in the days before cost over runs.

Dr. A. C. Matchette was on the program to speak and had prepared "an admirable paper which, through the unavoidable absence of the doctor, was read by the town clerk, Harlan S. Colvin.

"G.B. Harris delivered an excellent paper appropriate for the occasion in a masterly manner, and W.E. Escott followed with a few impromptu remarks.

Jerome H. Chamberlain, who with J.M. Filtcraft, enjoys the distinction of being the oldest firemen in the city, the regaled the audience with a short but pathetic speech, indulging in reminiscence, and, in referring to one of the old chiefs (who at present is lying at death’s door, awaiting the command of the chief supreme) and his unselfish devotion to duty, the speaker with difficulty kept from breaking down completely."

Harris went on to praise the volunteers, writing," From the organization of the Vigilant Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, which was formed twenty odd years ago, to the present time, the Bourbon company has enjoyed the proud distinction of being one of the best, and possibly the very best volunteer hook and ladder company in the state, having fairly won first place in every contest entered by them."

Twenty-one years ago the 4th the Bourbon company went away from home, attending a tournament in the woods near Bremen,

Later they went to Plymouth, Warsaw, Goshen, Fort Wayne and other places, never failing to bring home the coveted prize.

Jim McCrum built the first service truck.

The company were harassed at time for lack of funds, no help whatever coming from the town board. When in need of extra ladders, a festival was given, and the public urged to patronize it. If a gong was wanted for the truck, a dance was advertised; if buckets were needed, an entertainment was produced.

Harris, always the cheerleader for Bourbon, went on to exhort the population to work together for the betterment of all writing, " It may be just possible that the public may be asked to patronize an entertainment for the present company ere long, and it is to be hoped they will meet with a large patronage."

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