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Extracts from "An Illustrated Historical Atlas of LaPorte County, Indiana"

Compiled, Drawn and Published from Personal Examinations and Surveys by Higgins, Belden and Co., Chicago, 1874.

(Transcribed by T.C. Wyman, August 2000.)


LAPORTE is the French translation of "The Door," and is so called from the beautiful prairies which it includes within its boundaries. A natural opening through the timber from one prairie to another, where "Door Village" now stands, gave the name to the county and the city.


The first bona fide white settlers in Laporte County were the widow Benedict and her family, consisting of four sons and two daughters, as follows: Stephen H., Levi J., James, John K.; Sarah, who married HENLEY CLYBURN, and Maria, who subsequently married Benjamin T. Bryant. They reached what is now called New Durham, March 15, 1829, and erected a log cabin on section 21, about 100 rods northeast of Westville. The first birth in this family after their arrival was that of ELIZABETH MIRIAM CLYBURN, daughter of Henley, July 15, 1829. She subsequently married Joseph G. Warnock, now of Westville, and is deceased.

April 1, 1829, William Eaheart and family, consisting of John, William, Abram, Alexander, Ursula, Elizabeth, Judith, etc., settled on Section 22, New Durham Township. After these came James Whitaker and brother, settling on section 23, Jacob Inglewright and Samuel Johnson, the "soldier." It is said widow Benedict suggested the name of New Durham for the township.

July 6, 1829, the widow Shirley and family arrived in what is now Scipio Township, and settled on Section 9. Her family consisted of her son Lewis Shirley and wife, Julia (Keith), and her daughter, Elizabeth, who married ADAM KEITH. The first child born in this family after their arrival in this county was KEITH SHIRLEY, son of Lewis. He was born Oct. 10, 1829.

In the Summer of 1829, Joseph W. Lykins, a trapper, hunter and cattle buyer, and a member of the first grand jury empanneled in the county, settled on Section 33, in what is now Hudson Township. In the Fall of 1829, Asa M. Warren settled on Section 4, in this township.

The above are all the settlers we have been able to find who came in 1829.

The first death among the white settlers was that of Mrs. Elizabeth (Shirley) Keith, May 30, 1830. James and Captain Andrew built the first mill and sawed the first lumber In the county in the Fall of 1832, and Ward Blake kept the first tavern.

The following came in 1830. Those marked * may have been later:

Wm. Garwood, New Durham; Joseph Osborn, Anna Keith, Scipio; Charles Strong, Hanna; Richard Harris, Centre; George Thomas, Adam Smith, Aaron Staunton and family, Wm. Staunton and family, Benajah Staunton, Alfred Stanton, John S. Fosdick, John Wills and family, Wills; David Wills, John E. Wills, Philip Fail and family, Kankakee; Benajah S. Fail, John Garrett, Jacob Miller and family, Nathan B. Nichols and family, Chapel W. Brown and family, Emery A. Brown and family*, Daniel Murry,* Ezekiel Provolt and family, Geo. W. Barues,* Galena; Orra Sperry, Henry Sperry, Bazil Sperry, Asa Sperry,* Mrs. Olive Vail, Union; Ellen Wagner, Ephraim Bush, Nathan Haines, Hudson; Elijah H. Brown, Scipio; Elijah Newell, New Durham; Andrew Shaw.

The following arrived in 1831. Some of them made their claims this year, and brought their families the following year; such are marked with a * :

Arba Heald, Hugh McGivins, Wm. Adams, Arthur McClure,* Christopher McClure,* John Welsh, John Garwood, Jane C. Kimball, Scipio; John Stanton, Elijah Stanton, Cynthia C. Stanton, Wm. Clement, * Stephen Clement,* Wm. Bond, Centre; James Wills, Matthias Dawson,* David Stoner, Wills; Thomas Stillwell,* John T. Vail,* Henry L. Vail,* Union; Lane Markham, Horace Markham, Arthur Ervin and family, Noble; Leonard Cutler,* Alonzo R. Cutler,* Morris D. Cutler, Chas. and Myron Ives, James Highly, Kankakee; John Dunn, Johnson; Joseph Pagan (or Pegin), Centre; Wm. Clark and family, Serepta Hall, John Brown, Manlius Y. Brown, Lewis Redding, Ezekiel Provolt, John Provolt, Eliza A. Provolt, Mr. Willetts and family, Rev. Mr. Baker and family, Mr. Reeves, Tobias Miller and family, Daniel Jessup, Irwin S. Jessup,* John S. Jessup,* Ebezar Jessup,* James Andrew,* Abraham P. Andrew, Centre; James Nixon, Adam G. Polke, Chas. W. Cathcart and brother, Alden Tucker and brother, New Durham; Charles Egbert, Hudson; Jesse W. West and family, Hanna; Priscilla Hiser, (?)


The act forming the County of Laporte was approved January 9, 1832, and was as follows:

SECTION I, Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, That from and after the first day of April next, all that tract of country included in the following boundaries shall form and constitute a new county, to be known and designated by the name and style of Laporte County, to-wit: Beginning at the state line which divides the State of Indiana and Michigan Territory, and at the northwest corner of township No. 38, north of range No. 4, west of the second principal meridian; thence running east with said state line to the center of range No. 1 west of said meridian; thence south 22 miles; thence west, parallel with the said state line, 21 miles; thence north to the place of beginning. [Such was the original boundary.]

SEC. 2. That the new county of Laporte shall, from and after the said first day of April next, enjoy all the rights and privileges, benefits and jurisdictions which to separate and independent counties do or may properly belong or appertain.

SEC. 3. That Samuel Lewis of the County of Allen, Isaac Coleman of the County of Fountain. Andrew Ingraham of the County of Clinton, Levi Thornton of the County of Tippecanoe, and Merritt S. Craig of the County of Ripley, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners agreeably to the act entitled "An act fixing the seats of justice in all new counties hereafter to be laid off." The commissioners aforesaid shall meet on the second Monday in May next, at the house of David Pagan, in said county of Laporte, and shall immediately proceed to the discharge of the duties assigned them by law, And it shall be the duty of the Sheriff of Carroll County to notify said commissioners, either in person or by writing, of their appointment, on or before the first day of April next. And for such services he shall receive such compensation as the board doing county business in said County of Laporte may, when organized, deem just and reasonable, to be allowed and paid as other county claims.

SEC. 4. The Circuit Court and the board doing county business, when elected under the writ of election from the executive department, shall hold their sessions as near the center of the county as a convenient place can be had until the public buildings shall have been erected.

SEC. 5. The agent who shall be appointed to superintend the sale of lots at the county seat of the County of Laporte shall receive ten per centum out of the proceeds thereof, and pay the same over to such person or persons as may be appointed by law to receive the same, for the use of a county library.

SEC. 6. The County of Laporte shall be attached to the County of St. Joseph for representative purposes.

SEC. 7. The board doing county business may, so soon as elected and qualified, hold special sessions, not exceeding three during the first year after the organization of said county, and shall appoint a lister, make all necessary appointments, and do and perform all other business which might have been necessary to be performed at any other regular session, and take all necessary steps to collect the state and county revenues, any law or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.


This county was organized in 1832. It is bounded on the north, by the State of Michigan, east by St. Joseph, south by Stark, and west by Porter, and contains about 369,680 acres, and is at present divided into nineteen townships.

On the 28th day of May, 1832, the Commissioners' Court held their first session at the house of George Thomas. Chapel W. Brown, Elijah H. Brown, and Jesse Morgan presented their certificates of election signed by the Sheriff, with the oath of office duly indorsed according to law, Benjamin McCarty acting Sheriff, George Thomas, the elected Clerk of the Circuit Court, was appointed clerk of this board. The board being duly organized, proceeded to constitute the commissioners and electoral districts and townships. The county was divided into but three, as follows:

Ordered, That all of that tract of country embraced by said county which lies east of the range line dividing ranges two and three, west of the second principal meridian, shall be known as the first district, and shall be designated Kankakee Township.

And range three west shall constitute the second commissioners' district, to be called Scipio Township.

And range number four west shall constitute the third commissioners' district, and shall be named New Durham Township.

The election for Kankakee was ordered at the house of N. B. Nichols, and John Wills was appointed inspector; Scipio, at the house of Captain A. P. Andrew, and Mr. Andrew was appointed inspector; New Durham, at the house of Elijah Newell, and Mr. Newell was appointed inspector. Benjamin McCarty was appointed commissioner of the three per cent fund; William Clark, county surveyor; Jesse Morgan, lister of the taxable property; Aaron Stanton was appointed county treasurer; bonds $2000.

At the July term, Chapel W. Brown was appointed president of the board. Nathan B. Nichols was appointed collector of the state and county tax for the year 1832; bonds, $5000.

The first jury selected by the commissioners in the county were ordered this (July) term. Among these names will be recognized some of our most worthy citizens, a few of whom still survive, but the most of them have passed away.


Andrew BurnsideLeonard Cutler
George BarnesSamuel Weston
John MelvilleWilliam Phillips
John W. ColeJoseph C. Orr
Arthur IrwinNathaniel Sted (or Steele)
Arba HealdRobert Simmewell
John WhitakerJoseph Osborn
Richard HarrisIra Richardson
David StonerJoseph W. Lykins


William MorganAlfred Stanton
Charles CampbellAdam G. Polke
Jeremiah SherwoodMyron Ives
Lewis ShirleyWilliam Bond, Sr.
Jesse MorganJacob Coleman
James NixonCharles West
Samuel HarbinsunStephen Brayton
Arthur McClureDaniel Jessup
Ezra TylerAsa Warren
Adam KeithCharles Egbert
Henly ClyburnSamuel Smallwood
Bazell SperryJohn Wills (?)

The first Grand Jury in the Circuit Court that actually served were as follows. June term, 1833:

Arthur McClure-Foreman.

John StantonEmery A. Brown
Noble McKinstryGaines Munger
John CarterJonathan Sherwood
Peter WhiteJosiah Bryant
Martin BakerElijah Stanton
Aaron StantonWilliam Thomas
William StantonJames Highley

The first Petit Jury that actually served:

Philip FailEzekiel Provolt
Peter LoweElisha Newhall
Henry Capenter Roswell Muncie
William C. ThrallJohn Garrard
Absolom RomboWilliam Garrard
John GarwoodJonathan Morgan

The rates of taxation were as follows:

Ordered, That the rates of taxation be fixed-for horses, 37 1/2 cents per head; for work cattle, 18 3/4 cents per head; for poll tax, 50 cents; for gold watches, 50 cents; silver and composition watches, 25 cents; for pleasure carriages, 5O cents; brass clocks, 50 cents.

It was ordered at this time that there be an election held in the different townships for school commissioners for the county, on the first Tuesday in August next.

It appears (as a matter of inference) that a committee consisting of Isaac Coleman, Andrew W. Snodgrass, Merritt S. Craig, and Levi Thornton were appointed a committee to locate "the seat of justice for Laporte County", and were allowed $3 per day for their services.

At the March term, 1833, it was ordered that the elections in Scipio Township, which were held at the house of A. B. Andrew, shall now be held at the Town of Laporte, where the courts of the county are usually held.

The following indicates the advance in population, etc.: In 1830, the population of the entire State of Indiana was 343,031; in Laporte County, in 1870, 27,062.

In 1834, the net revenue of the state was $45,945; in Laporte County, in 1873, it was $188,000.

THE OLD SETTLERS' SOCIETY holds its meetings annually, in June. Any person who has been thirty-three years a resident of the county may be admitted as a member of said society.


The first Board of County Commissioners was composed of the following persons: Chapel W. Brown, Elijah H. Brown, and Jesse Morgan. The present board (1874) are: Hazard M. Hopkins, B. S. Faii, and Charles Wills.

THE OFFICERS of the county, and date of election, are as follows:


George Thomas, May 28, 1832. William Hawkins, 1835. (?) Thomas P. Armstrong, August 29, 1845. Volney W. Bailey, 1853.(?) James Moore, November 11, 1857. James H. Shannon, May 5, 1865. Charles Spaeth, May 5, 1873.


Benjamin McCarty, May 28, 1832. Adam G. Polke, December 30, 1834. Sutton Van Pelt, August 16, 1836. William Allen, August 17, 1840. John M. Clarkson, August 17, 1842. Harrison F. Hinkley, August 26, 1844. Joshua S. McDowell, August 22, 1846. Herman Lawson, August 16, 1850. William Allen, November 10, 1852. William H. H. Whitehead, March 14, 1854. Joshua S. McDowell, Novemller, 1860. Stephen P. Mead, March 8, 1861 Ithamer D. Phelps, November 5, 1865. Daniel L. Brown, October 27, 1870.


George Thomas, January 17, 1832. William Hawkins, March 14, 1835. Burwell Spurlock, September 8, 1835. Willard A. Place, January, 1856. Anderson Hupp, April 14, 1856. William Copp, April 18, 1864. Henry C. Brown, April 14, 1868.


John D. Collings, August, 1841 Joel Butler, August, 1843. Andrew J. Wair, August 25, 1848. John Walton, November 8, 1858. Jasper Packard, November, 1866. Harvey R. Harris, March 1, 1869.


Aaron Stanton, May 28, 1832. [Perhaps others.] (Treasurer's and Collector's office separated.) Willard A. Place, August, 1840. John M. Lemon, September 10, 1847. Edmond S. Organ, April 14, 1852. A. D. Porter, October 1857. Reginald H. Rose, September 4, 1891. Charles D. Alexander, August 28, 1865. Mark Allen, November 15, 1869. George W. Mecum, November 15, 1873.


William Clark James Bradley Joseph Wilson, June 15, 1847 Elam Clark, March 24, 1849 John P. Cathcart, October 26, 1852 Daniel Leaming, November 10, 1854 Elisha L. Bennett, November 11, 1858 Edward H. Leaming, November 11, 1860 John P. Cathcart, November 11, 1866


Gustavus A. Everts, 1833Robert Lowry
Samuel C. SampleThomas S. Stanfield
John B. NilesAlbert G. Deavitt, 1857
Ebenezar M. ChamberlainAndrew L. Osborn, 1857, 1870
Thomas S. Stanfield, 1870


Jacob Miller, 1833Gustavus A. Rose
Judah Leaming, 1833Willard A. Place
Charles W. HenryAbner Bailey
Clinton FosterWm. Andrew


Chapel W. BrownJabez R. Wells
Gilbert HathawayM. K. Farrand


Herman LawsonWm. C. Talcott
Elisha EgbertEd. Wood
Daniel Noyes


Benjamin Kress


A. G. Polke, 1833William Hawkins, 1834
C. W. Brown, 1835Abraham Hupp, 1836
N. W. Saxton, 1837A. Lomax, 1838
William Allen, 1839Willys Peck, 1840

ATTORNEYS - Settled in the county in, or prior to 1837. (Furnished by Judge Osborn). * Removed from the State. # Dead.

Gustavus A. Everts*John B. Niles
William C. Hannah*Robert Merrifield #
Myron H. Orton #Me. ___ Saxton *
John H. Bradley #T. Tyrrell *
Jabez R. Wills *Alonzo W. Enos #
Andrew L. OsbornGilbert Hathaway #
Joseph W. Chapman #Edward A. Hannigan #
A. H. Wright #

List of Attorneys admitted to practice in Laporte Co. (Furnished by Judge Farrand)

William O. Ross, June 10, 1833John H. Bradley, Oct. 12, 1835
John B. Niles, Dec. 16, 1833Myron H. Orton, April 26, 1836
John S. Lacy, Dec. 16, 1833Jabez R. Wills, April 26, 1836
William Hawkins, Dec. 16, 1833Gustavus A. Everts, Oct. 10, 1836
Robert Merrifield, Oct. 13, 1834Thomas Terryll, Oct. 10, 1836
Burrel B. Taylor, Oct. 17, 1834N.W. Saxton, Oct. 10, 1836
Wm. C. Hannah, Oct. 18, 1834Alonzo W. Enos, Oct. 10, 1836
Charles McCleese, Oct. 12, 1835J. W. Chapman, April 12, 1837
E. A. Hannigan, April 22, 1837


The schools of the county are improving in efficiency and importance. The following statistics will give some idea of their present condition.

No. white males, between 6 and 215,056
No. white females, between 6 and 214,908
No. colored males, between 6 and 2132
No. colored females, between 6 and 2533
Number enrolled9,300
Average length of schools in days144
Number of teachers216
Average compensation per day in primary$1.57
Average compensation per day in high$2.20
Total revenue for tuition$75,012.09
Total special school tax$34,829.51
Total value of school property$202,102.00
Total value of apparatus$3,733.00
Total number of school houses159


1. Michigan Central has10 miles
2. Michigan Southern & Northern Ind.25 miles
3. Baltimore & Ohio20 miles
4. Chicago & Lake Huron28 miles
5. Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne & Chicago14 miles
6. Cincinnati, St. Louis & Chicago8 miles
7. Indianapolis, Peru & Chicago21 miles
8. Louisville, New Albany & Chicago31 miles
Total157 miles


Among the religious denominations, the Methodists were the first on the ground. The Rev. Erastus Felton preached in this county in 1830, and the Rev. L. H. Gurley in 1831. At the Indiana Conference, the Rev. James Armstrong was appointed missionary to Laporte County. He accordingly moved here and settled on a farm near Door Village, and commenced the work of an Evangelist. He was an active, energetic man and influenced many church members from older parts of the state to immigrate to the county. He died near Door Village, Sept.12, 1834.

Rev. Phineas Culver was the first Baptist preacher, and established a church at Kingsbury. After these came multitudes of different denominations, until within our borders almost every shade of religious faith is represented.


The country from ten to twelve miles southeast of Lake Michigan was formerly heavy timber lands, generally level, but in many parts hilly or uneven. The soil is thin and sandy near the lake. The timber consists of oak and hickory. The level part is covered with beach, sugar maple, poplar and other kinds of forest trees, while in the vicinity of the lake and around Michigan City are sand hills, covered mostly with pine. The country south of the above for about eight miles in width is gently undulating prairie, interspersed with groves of timber and small lakes, and possesses a very rich soil.

Still further south are burr oak barrens, a few dry prairies, and the marshes of the Kankakee. Large portions of these marshes have been drained and prove to be the best grazing land in the county. It is estimated that 188 sections of land lie in different prairies in the county, the principal of which are Door, or LaPorte, Rolling, Domain, Stillwell and Hog prairies, which, with the exception of a few wet places, are well-adapted to wheat, oats, corn, barley, hemp, and vines, and garden vegetables of description. Fruit is raised in abundance. The prairies and the burr-oak barrens do not differ much in point of fertility.


The first grange in the county was organized in 1873; present number, 16; total membership, 1000.

The County Council of Patrons of Husbandry was organized February 24, 1874. The County officers are as follows:

Master - W.A. BanksChaplain - Z. Bayley
Overseer - E.J. DirksTreasurer - B.S. Fail
Lecturer - Geo. H. TeeterRec. Sec. - I.N. Whitehead
Steward - B.H. HollenbeckCor. Sec. - J. Osborn
Asst. Steward - Wm. CrichtonGate Keeper - D. Haskell
Trustees - L.J. Fitch, Sam. Harvey and H.S. Webster
Executive Committee - J.W. Zigler, R.G. Leaming and Seth Loomis

The following Granges, in the order of their organization, have been established since 1873:

No. 65, Clinton Tp., Clinton Grange, P. Loomis, Master
No. 78, Noble Tp., Noble Grange, William Crichton, Master
No. 88, Clinton Tp., Hopeful Grange, E. Phillips, Master
No. 538, Union Tp., Kingsbury Grange, J.H. Donly, Master
No. 542, Centre Tp., Centre Grange, B.S. Fail, Master
No. 606, Cass Tp., Wanataw Grange, J. Osborn, Master
No. 610, Kankakee Tp., Rolling Prairie Grange, I.N. Whitehead, Master
No. 699, Scipio Tp., Scipio Grange, Samuel Harvey, Master
No. 1026, Wills Tp., Wills Grange, W.B. Young, Master
No. 1043, Pleasant Tp., Pleasant Grange, Z. Bailey, Master
No. 1044, Centre Tp., Pine Lake Grange, R.G. Leaming, Master
No. 1590, Lincoln Tp., Lincoln Grange, Ed. Bear, Master
No. 1592, New Durham Tp., New Durham Grange, J. Livingston, Master
No. 1806, Coolspring Tp., Coolspring Grange, A. Thorpe, Master
No. 1912, Galena Tp., Galena Grange, J. Francis, Master
No. 1954, Kankakee Tp., Kankakee Grange, H.L. Vail, Master

The object of these organizations is briefly set forth in the preamble of the articles of association, which reads as follows:

"Since Agriculture is the basis of social, civil and commercial prosperity, and the great nursing mother of all that ennobles our race, it is but proper that its patrons should hold its government and secure its perfect protection. Therefore, to accomplish the great purposes of our calling, we adopt the following Constitution:"

Article 6 is as follows: "The work of the Council shall be for the promotion and advancement of the essential conditions that secure a good husbandry, viz.: Tilth, planting, growing, propagating, selecting, saving, testing, preserving, purchasing and selling, and every purpose that practically works for the good of the order."

Their numbers are rapidly increasing and they are destined to exert an influence in the social, civil and political circles of our country.


Centre, except City1130179042431147
Laporte City6469112457620056581
Michigan City394045240015853985
New Durham1982216033811984


Pop. - Census 187031,687
Acres in Cultivation86,305
No. of Cattle18,023
No. of Horses7,916
No. of Mules471
No. of Sheep10,332
No. of Swine17,484
Bushels of Wheat384,323
Bushels of Corn919,346
Bushels of Rye2,750
Bushels of Oats182,228
Tons of Hay4,392
Bushels of Barley27,096
Bushels of Potatoes63,372

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