History of La Porte County, Indiana
Local histories are the basis of general history. They supply all its popular elements. The great mass of people study historical details only by restricted localities. Few read the immense volumes of the history of past ages, and almost forgotten lands, but all desire to know something of the history of their own country, their State or their county. With a view to supplying such local information in a permanent form for preservation, so far as it relates to La Porte county, this history is prepared. The facts concerning the early settlement of the county are fast fading from the memory of men. The pioneers are disappearing from our midst. Death is busy; and with the passage of a few more years, none will be left who were eye witnesses to the time when our prairies and groves existed in their virgin loveliness untouched by the plow or the ax. The material facts for such a history as this must come largely from the men who made it, and unless written now or very soon, it never can be written. Great labor is involved in the work of its preparation, much more than there would be, if its basis was documentary; but it has been undertaken, notwithstanding other duties have pressed very heavily, in order to supply what seems to be a public need. It aims simply to be a repository of facts, most of which would, in a few more years be entirely lost. To obtain these facts of local, historical interest, and put them in a form for permanent preservation, is the object of these pages. No county in the State is more worthy of having its history preserved, both on account of the men who settled it, and the rich and fruitful lands which became theirs to occupy. The county has within it elements of wealth and prosperity which are yet largely undeveloped. There is latent wealth hidden away in every part of it, from the sand ridges on the north, across the prairie belt of the center, to, and including, the Kankakee marshes on the south, which will yet prove the richest and most productive soil of our county. The avenues of an extensive commerce are at our doors. Besides the eight railroads which cross the county in various directions, a good harbor is opened at Michigan City, giving access to the great lakes, and bringing into our midst a large share of the trade which floats on this broad highway. But the harbor is yet in its infancy; and as it is extended and made more commodious, the commerce of the lakes will seek it, and bring the products of the Lake Superior iron mines, and the pine forests of Michigan for shipment southward and eastward by rail, the facilities for which are ample at Michigan City. A heavy business is now done in this line, but it may be increased ten-fold, until the entire county shall feel the spur of enterprise and rise into a new life, for which there is abundant motive and opportunity.
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The county of LaPorte, comprises all that region of country which is bounded on the north by Lake Michigan and the State of Michigan; on the east by St. Joseph county; on the south by Stark county, the Kankakee river separating the two counties, except on the east end of the southern boundary, where the river is wholly within LaPorte county; and on the west by Porter county. It possesses a great variety of soil and external characteristics. The whole north side of the county is well timbered, the timber belt extending from St. Joseph county on the east to Porter on the west. The timber consists of oak, ash, sugar and soft maple, elm, walnut and many other species, the whole forming a source of wealth, of which far too little account is taken, and great wastefulness has been the result. Formerly the region bordering the lake was w^ell covered with beautiful white pine; but this valuable tree has almost wholly disappeared, being cut off for lumber. This timber country is from ten to fifteen miles in width, and much of the soil, especially on the eastern end, is deep and rich, rivaling the loam of the prairie infertility. Approaching the lake, sand, predominates, and the country becomes more broken and hilly, consisting of sandy ridges, which on the lake shore are in many places almost wholly destitute of vegetation. The sandy soil of Springfield, Michigan and Coolspring townships, though not so rich as that of the heavier timber land farther to the east, in Galena and Hudson, is yet especially adapted to certain kinds of crops. Potatoes raised on it are of superior quality, and all kinds of fruit, even peaches, do well, the crop being more certain to endure the winter's cold than in the open prairie. The soil is warm, products come forward early and rapidly, and are easily cultivated. Through the centre of the county from east to west, the prairie belt extends.