A Chicago Tribune photographer met the Monon as it pulled into Dearborn station and very gratifying publicity was given the Lowell Centennial via WGN's TV program, Chicagoland Newsreel, shown Monday forenoon and evening. Ty Alyea, promotional chairman, and his wife, also were interviewed on TV after the game. The eventful day is one ever to be remembered by those who made the trip.
In the early fall of 1844 he paid a visit to this area and was so well pleased with the verdant prairies of this new county he lost no time in selling his farm and stock upon his return to Dayton. He returned to Lake County, moving his young family and belongings by team, and purchased an 80-acre deeded farm all fenced and plowed, for $500.
There was also a crude cabin on the land which was located in West Creek Township.
In 1848 he built a water-powered saw mill where the residence of Mrs. Merritt Kelsey now stands and the next year having established his family here, he made a trip to the west coast to pan gold.
Returning in 1851, he constructed a flour mill on the bank of Cedar Creek near his saw mill and installed, in one portion, wool carding machinery. Soon after, he commenced the work of platting the town. He laid out 16 lots forming the nucleus of his town, which he named after the famous New England city in the hope it might some day emulate the Massachusetts municipality.
Halsted burned the first bricks out of which the first church and school were built in 1855. The church served as the place of worship for all religious denominations until about 1870.
By 1872 Lowell had the largest and best school building in Lake County, a two-story structure costing $8000. The other largest building at that time in the county was also in Lowell, a brick building of three stories, built for a factory, 80 feet by 50 feet, also costing $8000.
Halsted was the guilding genius behind the founding of the Monon railroad through Indiana. Impressed with the need of railroad facilities he conceived the "Air Line" route from Chicago and set about to achieve his dream. For 15 years he worked indefatigueably on the idea until he interested enough men to back the venture.
He conscripted funds and, in a story written by him and published in the Lowell Tribune by his friend and co-worker on many projects, H.H. Ragon, Halsted states that he invested $20,000 of his personal funds to build the right-of-way from Lowell to Cedar Lake. Later, when the state passed a railroad land tax in order to permit communities like Lowell to receive tax revenues from the carrier, it was Halsted who lobbied the bill through.
Lowell grew rapidly after April 1881, when the first train steamed through. At that time, Rev. T.H. Ball of Crown Point, the county's authoritative historian, wrote:
"It is interesting to note the enterprise and growth at Lowell. One lesson might be learned here, the benefit for a town to be situated in a growing and rich farming community."
This farm land is now selling from $250 to $350 per acre. The sons of the Lowell communities' master farmers -- Future Farmers of America -- an organization comprised of Lowell high school students, won top national honor in 1950, "National Gold Emblem Chapter."
Mr. Halsted made many trips to the west coast where he employed his ingenious engineering skill in the gold mines, always returning with money to invest in his "dream city." A true cosmopolitan, this most untiring pioneer lived each day of his life to its fullest measure, succumbing at the home of his son, William, in Auburn, Kansas, at the age of 93 years, 11 months, and 25 days. He lies to rest beside his first wife, Martha Foster Halsted, in the West Creek cemetery, where interment was made with Masonic ritual by members of the Lowell Order of which he was a charter member.
The marker placed in his honor on the Lowell grade school grounds bears the inscription which describes perfectly the life and work of Melvin A. Halsted, "Pioneer, Builder, and Adventurer."
Volumes could be written about the people who have enriched the community during this past century by carrying the torch of Freedom and lighting the way of Progress.
Patriotism is ever at a high ebb in the Lowell community. Over the past century, more than 1500 men have responded to our country's call to arms, 600 serving in World War II.
Lowell, without corruption, without ill will -- is one of the communities over the nation which form the essence of American democracy.
The staging of a gigantic spectacle, a pageant depicting the Lowell community's history of the past century, "Our American Heritage," with a cast comprised of 250 people, will be the main feature of each day's program. Other daily highlights include a parade, noted speakers, special music, fireworks and all the usual carnival attractions. Program details are published elsewhere in this issue.
"Miss Lowell Centennial" will be crowned by Gov. Schricker Friday evening, August 29th, and she will be recipient of a galaxity of prizes plus a trip to Bermuda. The day is also designated as American Youth Day and of much prominence is the over night camporee of the Hammond Council of Boy Scouts of America, with which the Lowell troop is affiliated.
Old Settler's Day will be observed on Saturday, August 30th, while on Sunday, August 31st, will be featured a Freedom of Religion program with all area churches participating.
Everyone in the community is putting forth a united effort to make this centenarian town of Lowell the center of wide attraction as it marks this all important event in its history, its 100th anniversary.
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