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Burr Oak

Excerpted from  Ghost Towns of Noble County - by T.C. Holcomb

Burr Oak is located in Noble Township, five miles south of Albion and 1/2 mile west.

The Burr Oak Store was built by Vernon Rivir in 1898. Dan Harlan, a livery stable operator of Columbia City, purchased the store in 1900. Along with the general store, Dan operated a Huxter wagon for several years. He bought poultry, butter and eggs on the Huxter route as well as at the store. Charles Beck, a produce and poultry dealer of Albion, made weekly (or oftener) trips to collect from Burr Oak and other points.

The Burr Oak Store was a general store, and handled work clothes, yard goods such as calico, ribbons, etc., and quite a line of hardware, nails, bolts, buckets, hinges and many other small articles. Also garden tools, boots and shoes, certain leather articles for harness. This was in addition to groceries, confectioneries, school supplies, etc.

The store was quite popular as a gathering place for the men of the area in the evening. It gave them an opportunity to fellowship, smoke and eat peanuts together while they exchanged information. Otherwise, they seldom got together except at church.

Harlan traded the store to P. A. Reed about 1909 or 1910 for the Reed farm on what is now Indiana 9 opposite the Chain O'Lakes Park.

Reed sold the store to the YOUNGS in the early teens. In addition to the line of general merchandise, they did a large volume of business in Osborn Farm machinery and built a mill, large for the time, in which area farmers could have their feed ground and where they could buy commercial fertilizer and feeds.

Young also operated a huxter wagon. One memorable event of their Huxter experience was when the Wagon upset and scrambled several cases of eggs.

Arlow Young and Clare Glass were operating a Hardware store in Albion along with the Burr Oak Store when the Burr Oak Store was sold to Carl Huntsman in November 1959. Carl operated the store successfully until April 30, 1974 when it was closed, perhaps permanently. There are no immediate plans for the future of the building.


The first school building built in 1840 was a log structure about l 1/2 miles North of Burr Oak, on the southwest corner of the Pearl Sparrow farm. Later in the forties a log one stood a few rods west of Burr Oak crossroads. Still later, a frame building was constructed just East of Glass Lake near a Burr Oak Tree. (This tree or a Burr Oak tree which stood across the road in front of the church or both may be the source of the name ("Burr Oak.")

When this frame building was no longer used for school purposes, perhaps in the early 1880's, Cornelius Ott purchased it, dismantled and re-assembled it near a spring on his farm some 80 or more rods southwest of the original site. Mr. Ott and his family lived there for many years, perhaps near 30 years.

In 1881 an acre of land across the road East in front of what later became the store was purchased for $30.00. A brick school building was constructed here. (Now, 1975, Ethel (Gale) Young owns the old school ground and has a home almost on the exact spot of the old school building). At times, nearly sixty students were enrolled here in one-room with one teacher and eight grades. In 1896, ten Ott children were enrolled.

Martha (Seymoure) Stanley taught the last term at Burr Oak 1922-1923. After that pupils were transported to Merriam, and still later to Wolf Lake.

Several teachers previous to 1909 were Alice Prickett; Bertha Holmes; Conda Hile; Albert Williams; Hazel Gray; Sam Kimmell; D. J. Starkey; Rhoda Galloway; H. J. Starkey; Lawrence Tuttle; Carl Thomas and C. C. Zigler.

Graduates of the Burr Oak School, who later taught school, were Clyde Baughman; Iva Baughman Stureman; Chancy Baughman; Grace Lindsey Clark; Lottie Lindsey Surfus; Addie Lindsey Wilkerson; Clarence Mawhorter; Thurlo Holcomb; Frank Winebrenner; Alma Winebrenner Schmidt and Pearl Reese Egolf.


The school building was also used for church purposes until the present church building was constructed in 1892. Finley Fuller, contractor, completed the job and took his tools away October 8, 1892. Jane Braden's funeral was the first, in 1893.

In the good old days the church was yoked with one of the following Baptist churches, which furnished the parsonage; Wolf Lake, Ormas, Cosperville or Eddy. Sunday School was held regularly each Sunday but church services were held alternately in morning and evening.  Since then, the building has been enlarged and kept modernized. They also have a parsonage and a full-time minister.  Services were usually attended by a goodly number. Prayer meetings were held on Wednesday evenings and still are. Each winter, revival meetings were held for perhaps two weeks with record attendance, good interest and a number of conversions. Among the early ministers were Watkins; Tucker; Dull; Rendell; Whitaker; and Lash.

The Strouse Post Office

Martin V. Strouse, Civil War Veteran, had a post office established Jan. 21, 1899. Since there was already a Burr Oak Post office in Indiana, this one was named Strouse, in honor of the first postmaster. The office was housed on the property of Mr. Strouse, only a few rods north of the store.

Finally the Strouse Post Office was moved into the Harlan Store and Dan Harlan became postmaster until the office was discontinued December 31, 1902, at which time rural routes were established. Among the early carriers through Burr Oak were Billy Marshall and Herbert Cockley.


Mr. George Lindsey married Elizabeth Strouse, daughter of the future postmaster in October 1887. They immediately set up housekeeping a few rods west of the Burr Oak Corners. We do not know that a smithy existed before this time, but at the time of their marriage or very soon thereafter, Mr. Lindsey started blacksmithing in a shop just west of his dwelling. He served the area well as the "Village Smithy" until his health failed. He went to Oklahoma in 1908 but apparently got no relief. He returned to Noble County, moved to Wolf Lake in 1910 where he died in 1911. The shop was operated by others for a few years, but soon closed permanently.


Around 1905 Charles Wilkins and Elmer Holcomb operated a small saw mill near the ditch south of the store, where they sawed onion crate material, mostly.  At an earlier date a cider mill was operated at approximately the same location.

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