Asa Brown came into the wilderness of Allen township with money. He built the first frame house in 1837, and erected a steam saw-mill which for many years did good work. In 1840 he built an Ashcry, and began, on an extensive scale, to manufacture black and white salts and a fine article of pearl-ash. He manufactured some twenty tons of the ash, which was shipped by wagon to the market in Fort Wayne. About the time the ashery was started, he built an addition to the house in which he placed a large stock of goods, too large and costly to be profitable in the back woods. Goods were given in exchange for ashes and sold on credit, which proved to be long and troublesome. He also opened his house for the entertainment of the public, and his hotel became widely known because of the hospitality of the landlord.
He surveyed and platted the town of Lisbon in October 1847, at which time twenty four lots were laid out along the Lima and Fort Wayne road. His influence enabled him to bring to the village, mechanics and artisans of all descriptions, but these men were too poor to pay several hundred dollars for a small lot upon which to live, and so were compelled to go to some other locality. At first Mr. Brown did not observe the injury he was doing to his town, as he thought the village must grow, and that sooner or later, the prices demanded must he paid. But he suffered for his lack of foresight, and when it was too late, his prices for the lots were lowered.
Asa Brown could have used his influence to bring the railroad through but he did not believe in railroads, and so Kendallville succeeded in getting the road.
A Post Office was established in Kendallville December 7, 1836, but was changed to Lisbon in May 1849. Asa Brown became the Postmaster January 6, 1850. The Post Office was begun and discontinued many times during the next years until it was finally discontinued when Wilbur L. Baughman was Postmaster August 30, 1919. The old Lima Plank road was a well-traveled line for the underground railroad which extended across Allen Township for many years prior to the Civil War.
History books record that Lisbon was a station on this railroad. Stories were that many a load of fugitive slaves were seen being conveyed along this line, stopping here and there for refreshments. Augustus H. Whitford is said to have been in the employ of this celebrated road, serving in the capacities of station master, engineer, conductor, and train dispatcher. Mr. Waterhouse, residing in LaGrange County, was a sort of Tom Scott or William H. Vanderbilt on this road, and at all hours would order out special trains.
Mr. Wadsworth, one day, saw a load moving rapidly along, when upon turning the corner swiftly and suddenly, the wagon very nearly overturned, causing several heads to appear in alarm from the covering. Mr. Wadsworth called out to the driver, "Ah, here's your underground railroad!"
"Yes," answered the driver, "They're going it almost every night."
Many an unfortunate colored man or woman, aiming by the north star for the dominion of the British Queen, has received much needed assistance from the John Brown's and Owen Lovejoy's of Allen Township.