History of Wabash County, Indiana
The Wabash County of the olden time lay in one of the historic waterways between the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley. It was a primitive highway along which traveled the Indian tribes of the North and the Northeast, such as the Miamis and Pottawatomies, and the tierce Iroquois of the East. The former settled in the beautiful valley of the Wabash; the latter passed across it like a scourge, after the Pottawatomies and Miamis had retreated to the Illinois and the West.
The valley of the Wabash, the central section of which includes the fertile and progressive county of which we write, also became an avenue of commerce and discovery binding together New France and French Louisiana. Then came the English and Americans as lords of the soil, with a final bit of war between white and red men in Wabash and the neighboring county.
As in all the counties of the Northwest Territory, so in Wabash — there was a most interesting period of transformation during the first third of the Nineteenth Century. While the Indians were departing from their lands in the Wabash Valley, which they had ceded to the General Government, the state was furnishing the incoming whites with a commercial agency which did more to develop that portion of the commonwealth than all other artificial forces. The Wabash & Erie Canal, forerunner of the railroads, was an undisguised blessing to the people of the county for more than a quarter of a century. Although Ohio was somewhat tardy in taking advantage of its practical value as a projection of the great commercial way from the East, the Erie Canal in Wabash was not only the cause of decided material development, but brought to Wabash, La Gro and other towns along its route, some of the most prominent of our citizens. It was thus of double value to Wabash County, besides being a later-day reinstatement of the historic highway between the East and the AVest. The old home of the Iroquois was joined with the hunting and trapping and fishing grounds of the Miamis and Pottawatomies, which they so long coveted, but under the co-operation of modern civilization. East and West aimed to improve each other.
It was fortunate for Wabash County that the canal did not relinquish its hold on the commercial community until the railroad was firmly fixed on its soil. But the more modern means of transportation and communication displaced Wabash Valley from its position of eminence as an important section of the great historic waterway and brought it into competition with more favored interior points. The result was that in comparison with the growth of other localities of Interior America our county suffered from the coming of the railroads. Yet, as stated, during this period both the canal and the railroad were with us, and although the commercial development of the county was not rapid, it was safe and substantial.
The same spirit of conservatism permeated the civil organization and conduct of county affairs. Particularly fortunate have been the people of Wabash County in the administration of public matters, the erection of courthouses, the building of schools and the prosecution of other matters which they have relegated to their servants. The bench and bar, the journalists and the physicians of the county, have also contributed to its high and substantial standing. When the health and convenience of the people are in question, both citizens and the county as a civil body have always been united and even enterprising. Whether the community is large or small, it has always striven to give its residents pure water and adequate light. In the latter field, the City of Wabash is so much a pioneer that her record is a part of the municipal history of the United States, as that corporation was the first in America to install a successful arc system for lighting its streets.
When it comes to the question of patriotism, there has never been a query placed after the name of Wabash County. From the Mexican to the Spanish-American war, her sons and daughters have ever been true blue. It is a speaking fact that one of the most beautiful and massive buildings at the county seat is the Memorial Hall, which especially perpetuates the valor and faithfulness of the men and women of Wabash County during the period of the Civil war.
The county has also been very fortunate in the interest which both its pioneers and those of later generations have taken in preserving the records of those lives and institutions which have placed it upon such a substantial basis. They are so numerous and they have been so earnest and helpful in the preparation of this work, that we forbear the mention of individuals, fearing lest some good friend and assistant might be overlooked. Grouping them generally, we may say that our advisory editors, members of the press, county and municipal officers and that galaxy of bright, if retired, "pioneer citizens," have so heartily co- operated with us that we give them the bulk of the credit for the completion of the many involved labors attached to the history of Wabash County.
Table of Contents
PHYSICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE... 1
DISCOVERERS OF UPPER WABASH VALLEY... 13
INDIANS OF THE UPPER WABASH... 25
THE MISSISSINEWA EXPEDITION... 41
LAST OF THE INDIANS... 53
FIRST WHITE SETTLERS AND SETTLEMENTS... 71
INDIAN CAPTIVES AND ADOPTIONS... 88
WABASH COUNTY PIONEER SOCIETY... 98
PIONEER PICTURES... 125
COUNTY ORGANIZATION... 152
MISCELLANEOUS AND STATISTICAL... 170
BENCH AND BAR... 189
EDUCATIONAL MATTERS... 206
MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION... 223
PHYSICIANS OF THE COUNTY... 244
MILITARY MATTERS... 256
NOBLE TOWNSHIP... 287
CITY OF WABASH... 301
THE PRESS, FINANCES AND INDUSTRIES... 331
CHURCHES AND SOCIETIES... 343
CHESTER TOWNSHIP... 367
NORTH MANCHESTER... 381
LA GRO TOWNSHIP... 401
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP... 422
PAAV PAAV TOWNSHIP... 433
PLEASANT TOWNSHIP... 445
WALTZ TOWNSHIP... 458
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In the case of Wabash County Nature was very kind, for it nestles ill the lap of one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys in the world, and one of the great natural passages for the primitive races of men before ownership in land was even a dream. It would lie stretching the subject beyond reasonable proportions to revert to the dim period when that part of the world was "without form and void;" so the story commenees with the laying down of the great limestone beds of Central and Northwestern Indiana. Then by glacial action and the slower scouring of the receding waters, the graceful grooves which we call the valleys of the Wabash, the White and the Kankakee, were worn in the limestone beds, and finally clad with soil, verdure and forests.