This store and Post Office was located on county road 100 north and 350 east in Jefferson Township. On October 4, 1854, George Baker purchased 80acres of land in the east half of the southwest quarter of Sec. 27, Jefferson Township from Alexander and Catherine Adair. The Baker's, George and Ann, sold one acre off this tract to Uriah Franks who built the Bakertown store and dwelling.
Prior to this time, the area had been known as Baker's Corners. A blacksmith was located there and there was a saw-mill south in Section 34.
The Stanley Post Office was established in the store November 16, 1885. It was discontinued October 2, 1888. Uriah Franks was the first Postmaster. He operated the store until 1898 when he sold to John Stevens. Stevens sold to Washinqton Keller, who sold to Wilbur Fuller in 1904. Fuller sold to Washington Keller's son, Frank, in 1907 and five years later Frank sold to Albert Hockenbarger and Milton Stiffney, partners in the venture. This arranqement lasted for four years then Mr. Stiffney sold his half share to Mr. Hockenbarger.
Albert E. Hockenbarger, son of Elias and Susan (Snare) Hockenbarger, was born in 1869. He married Viola Tryon, daughter of Cornelius and Diane (Emerick) Tryon, December 1, 1900 in Kendallville. Albert was a "Huckster" by trade. Those who remember him, say he was blind. He owned a Huckster waqon which was used to deliver and pick up items for the store.
The store was the village gathering spot. Men played cards and visited in the evenings, and local residents picked up qroceries and hardware supplies.
Viola Hockenbarger died in 1934 and a family by the name of Greenwalt moved in to help Mr. Hockenbarger with the store. In 1935, Mr. Greenwalt moved out. Leonard Summers and wife, Ruth, with their family, moved in. It was told that their son, Tommy, would lead Mr. Hockenbarger to neiqhbors to peddle shoe strinqs, etc.
In 1937, Jarrett and Jennie Ragan moved in with Mr. Hockenbarger. Jennie was the daughter of Dora (Hockenbarger) Kuhn, sister of Albert. Jennie married Jarrett Ragan August 26, 1911. Their son, Kenneth, said that when they lived at Baker-town, they sold lots of gasoline, at five gallons for one dollar. Harold Bushong said they had one hand pump in front of the store which was operated by pumping the qas up into a glass cylinder, then transferring it by gravity into a gasoline tank. The cylinder held about 8 to 10 gallons of gasoline.
Ragan's were the last to operate the store. They moved out in 1940, and Bessie, Mr. Hockenbarger's daughter who had married Gloyd Gaff, moved in to help with his care in 1942. After the store closed, Albert took a trunk around to auctions and sold shoe strings, candy bars and peanuts among other things. John Singleton, one of the local auctioneers, would take Albert with him to sales.
The store had been a qathering place for men of the area among whom were: Arthur Trittipo, Milo Krieger, Frank Jacob, Dale Dreibelbis, Cullen Prouty,Casey Melvin, Bert Moree, Charlie Campbell, Ed Whipple, Dewey Moon, Leonard (Barney) Summers, and Walter Brown, who kept his school bus in the shed where Albert Hockenbarger had kept his Huckster Wagon.
Albert Hockenbarger died in 1945. His daughter, Bessie, died in 1954, and her son, Burt and wife Jocquelyn Gaff, moved in to care for Burt's dad, Gloyd. Before Gloyd died in 1966, he sold the property to Charles and Evelyn McDonald, who made it into apartments.
Other owners since that time have heen, Paul Christlieb, Jerry Dinius and Bill Russell, who completely renovated the building.
Excerpted from Ghost Towns of Noble County - by T.C. Holcomb:
MISTAKEN IDENTITY NEARLY ENDS IN TRAGEDY
I was yet a boy living with my parents, a short distance west of Bakertown, in Jefferson Twp. There being but my parents and myself in the family, I frequently spent the evenings away from home. On this special occasion I spent the evening at Roderick PROUTY 's (father-in-law of the late Everson FREEMAN) who lived a little east of the Rehoboth church. The PROUTY family consisted of Roderick and his wife, "Aunt Polly," as she was always called; their son John, and James JOSLIN; a young man who had his home there. Also five daughters were still in the family, the eldest afterwards became Mrs. James MCMANN. Of course the conversation naturally drifted into the exciting topics of the day, such as the arrest of horse thieves and counterfeiters and the stirring events of the days of the Regulators. At this time, the farm now owned by Mrs. BAKER, in Bakertown, was known as the GUTHRIE place and was partly cleared. A two or three acre pasture field lay next to the crossroads, in which were two fine young horses, the property of Washington KELLER, who lived a mile and a half east of there, near what was then called the Scott sawmill. The conversation turned to the matter of KELLER losing his young team in the pasture above mentioned. Mr. PROUTY commenting strongly on the great risk that was run on their being stolen.
With this topic in mind, I started home near 11:00 P.M. The road wound around the big tamarack swamp with a dense forest on the other side and was in no way a pleasant road to travel at night. As I walked along I resolved in my mind what I would do if some one should steal KELLER 's young team and how I would act. When nearly through the forest and yet some distance from home, I was startled by hearing a shrill whinney from a horse in KELLER 's pasture. I concluded at once that someone has stolen one of the horses and that the other was restless for its mate. None was living on the GUTHRIE place at the time; the next nearest resident being Mortimer BENWARD, who lived still farther and next was Ephriam FOSTER. I decided to investigate and if the horse was gone, to give the alarm as soon as possible.
The road in front of Father's house was considerably higher than where I was walking at the time and looking in that direction, my hair fairly stood on end, for there, clearly outlined against the starlit sky beyond, I saw someone coming directly toward me on horseback and who I at once decided was the thief, for the other horse still kept up his loud neighing. To say that I had a severe attack of the "Buck fever" just then would be putting it mildly. If we both kept on we would meet at the foot of the hill where it was quite dark for the road was lined on one side by the woods and on the other by dense willow bushes and was quite narrow at this point.
My "Shakes" passed away as quickly as it came and I unexpectedly became quite cool and determined to stop the thief and save my neighbor's horse at all hazards. I was well armed and decided that I would return the stolen animal if I had to shoot the rider to do it. I remember of thinking at the time that the "Regulators" would see me safely out of the trouble if I should resort to extreme measures. Pistol in hand ready cocked, I kept on in the middle of the road until within a few steps of the horse when I demanded: "Where are you going with that horse?"
I do not think the man could see me very well on account of being so much higher than I, and on account of the darkness of this point. However, the horse stopped, but the man did not say a word. I was greatly excited of course, but my hand was steady. I had now fully determined to pull the trigger unless I got an answer very shortly, and standing at the horse's head with a steady hand I took deliberate aim at the man's breast and again, and for the last time I demanded in a louder and firmer voice:
"Where are you going with that horse?" Then just in the nick of time came the answer: "Oh just up to PROUTY 's for Aunt Polly."
I then recognized my neighbor, Mr. BENWARD, who not having a horse of his own handy, come up to the pasture, and got one of Mr. KELLER 's and was going to get the services of Mrs. PROUTY who frequently acted as mid-wife, in that neighborhood. I stepped aside and he hurried on and I doubt if he ever knew how near he came to being the victim of a tragedy. Had he delayed answering a few seconds more, I should have fired and the result, in all probability would have made me a felon for life even if it had not been the cause of my "stretching hemp".
J. M. Baker, Ventura, Calif. Reproduced from the Democrat, Albion,Indiana, Thurs., Dec. 14, 1893.