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LaOtto

The Mongoquinonq road had been laid out on an old Indian trail before settlers appeared, and this proved to be a vast convenience, serving as a large artery to transport products to Fort Wayne which was considered the Mart of all northern Indiana. This trail wound its way through the eastern part of the County. It was surveyed for a main road in 1833, but was not opened until about 1837 as the Lima Plank road. It extended from Fort Wayne north to Lima, Indiana (now Howe.)

Post offices were established early along this road. John Miller, who had a cabinet manufacturing business about a half mile south of present LaOtto, was the first Postmaster at that place and he called the Post Office Simon's Corners. (Postal stations were named at the whim of whoever maintained the station.) John Miller received the appointment August 19, 1856.

In October 1871, David Voorhees, David, Solomon and Jonathan Simon, and Martin Bilger, laid out and platted the town of Simonsville. It was located in the middle part of the northeast quarter of Section 25 in Swan Township.

Probably the first building in this village was a steam saw-mill built during the winter of 1871-2, by David Simon. It was operated until about 1873. In the Spring of 1872, a blacksmith shop was erected by Martin Bilger, into which John Miller and his family moved on the 5th of April the same year. On the same day, Abraham Zern moved into a shoe shop that had been built there a short time before.

The Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad company was organized and incorporated, January 18, 1854, with power to construct, maintain and operate a railroad from Hartford City in Blackford County, to a point on the State line towards Grand Rapids, Michigan. This railroad passed in a general north-south direction through the eastern part of Noble County. It was completed in December 1873.

An east-west railroad, originally the Detroit, Eel River and Illinois, was surveyed in 1853. It started from Logansport, Indiana, and extended northeast, intersecting with the Airline Division of the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana, at what is now Butler, Indiana, in DeKalb County. In 1854, the work was suspended and it was not resumed until 1875, when it was completed. Later it became the Wabash, St.Louis and Pacific, and finally in January 1902, the name was changed to Vandalia railroad. At that time there were six passenger trains daily over this railroad -- three going east and three going west.

These two railroads crossed in Simonsville. The railroad company did not like the name Simonsville, so they began calling it Grand Rapids Crossing.

At the suggestion of Rev. B.F. Stultz, pastor of the newly organized Imanuel Lutheran Church society of LaOtto, whose meetings were held in the Preston wagon shop hall, and in residences in April 1875, a petition was enacted to change the name of Simonsville to LaOtto. The petition was signed by eighteen freeholders in the village and vicinity. Three weeks notice of such change was published in the New Era newspaper, and a certified copy of the order was made and recorded in the Recorder's Office of Noble County July 20, 1875.

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