The History of Lowell, Indiana


NOTE: The contents of this page were reviewed by Richard C. Schmal,
Lowell's official Town Historian.  Mr. Schmal has written a monthly 
"Pioneer History" column in the Lowell Tribune (Indiana) since 1980.  
      

Websites of Interest

Click"Pioneer History" to read some of his columns. Click Lowell Photo Albums for pictures. Click Biographies for information on some of the people from Lowell.

Indexes of Interest

NEWSPAPERS Click Older Newspapers for a personal name index to the Lowell Star (1872), the Lowell Souvenir (1901-1903) and the Lowell Tribune (1917-1918). Click the appropriate heading (1920-49, 1950-2013) for indexes of Lowell Tribune articles on Birth Announcements Birthdays Engagements, Weddings, Marriage Licenses, Anniversaries Death Notices and Obituaries YEARBOOKS Click Lowell High School Yearbook, 1915-2013, for a name/photo index. HALSTED HOUSE MUSEUM -- DOCUMENTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS Click the appropriate Halsted House Museum Inventory heading for lists of photos/documents owned by the Three Creeks Historical Association. Copies of most of these items can be viewed on CD- Rom at the Lowell Public Library. People -- Information, Documents, Photos Places, Events -- Documents, Information, Photos Unidentified photos Books, Publications, Pamphlets

* * * * * According to the Lowell Centennial Book, Melvin A. Halsted named the village Lowell presumably because its water facilities and milling industries resembled those of Lowell, Massachusetts.

BUSINESSES

1848 -- M.A. Halsted built a saw mill on the land at Sect. 23, Twp. 33, Range 9 (known as the "mill seat" property). 1852 -- Jonah Thorn opened the first business in Lowell, a small frame hotel and general store and tavern. 1853 -- A frame flour mill was built by M.A. Halsted. It stood on the west side of Mill Street at Jefferson Street and was powered by water from the dam on Main Street. Water came rushing down a long, wooden trough. It was in use for approximately 15 years. 1854 -- William Sigler opened a store. Mr. Foley built a saw mill about 4 miles north of Lowell. 1855 -- H.D. Mudge opened a clothing a general store on what is now Commercial Avenue. 1860 -- Perry Clark (son of Jabez Clark) opened a brickyard on the north side of Main Street on the west bank of Cedar Creek. 1861 -- The first actual hotel was originally a school house and used for approximately two years. In 1861 it was used as a hotel and was known as the "Union House." 1864 -- The first daily mail service was established in Lowell. A stagecoach route between Lowell and Crown Point started. 1868 -- Melvin A. Halsted built a brick woolen mill on the east side of Cedar Creek at the dam on Main Street. It was 3 stories high, 80x50 feet, and cost $8,000. At that time it was the largest building in the county. It was used as a woolen mill for only a short time and then became a grist mill, with some of the equipment moved from the older mill. 1872 -- The first newspaper, the Lowell Star, was published by E.R. Beebe. (Some sources spelled his name "Beebie.") 1880 -- The Louisville, New Albany, & Chicago (or Monon) put a railroad line through Lowell. 1881 -- A 60,000 bushel grain elevator and steam powered grist mill was built by the firm of Du Breuil & Keilman directly across from the present depot. It was torn down in 1927. 1896 -- Prominent Lowell men met in November and organized a cooperative group to protect their homes and businesses in the event of fire. 1918 -- This list of Lowell businesses in 1918 was compiled by Fremond McCarty. 1943 -- This list of Lowell businesses in 1943 was compiled by Fremond McCarty. 1948 -- This list of Lowell businesses in 1948 was compiled by Fremond McCarty. 1952 -- This list of Lowell businesses in 1952 was compiled by Fremond McCarty. 1960 -- This list of Lowell businesses in 1960 was compiled by Fremond McCarty. Click here for information on other Lowell businesses of the past.

CHURCHES

1837 -- Methodists organized a class and held meetings in private homes and school houses. 1841 -- The Christian Church of Lowell was organized. It met in members' homes. 1849 -- Methodists built a frame church. This building was not in the town of Lowell, but in the country nearby. 1856 -- The Baptist Church was organized. M.A. Halsted built and deeded the Baptists a brick church on the corner of Mill and Main Streets (the site of Jabez Clark's first cabin) this same year. (Jabez Clark moved to a site at Commercial Avenue and Burnham Street.) 1856 -- Lake Prairie Presbyterian Church organized 1865 -- Catholics met for the first time in the home of John Hack. 1869-70 -- The Christian Church built a brick church building at a cost of $4,000. 1870 -- The first Catholic Church was completed. It was a frame building on the southwest corner of Burnham and Michigan. The second Catholic church, a gothic frame, was built on Castle Street in 1897 and burned down in 1914. A large brick building, now (1997) a part of the Lowell Health Center, was completed in 1915 and was used for both church and school until 1958 when the congregation moved into new limestone buildings on 10 acres on South Nichols Street. 1870 -- Methodists built a brick church at a cost of $4,000. It was located at the corner of Main and Burnham Streets. When the Methodists built a new church in 1924, the old church was bought by the Lutherans and used by them until they erected a new building on West Commercial. 1904 -- Presbyterian Church organized in Lowell

CRIMES AND CRIMINALS

Although we've all heard stories about the "good old days," and Lake County history books as well as obituaries from the past indicate that every local citizen was a pillar of society and had a host of friends, the area was not devoid of crime -- including the time bandits from the John Dillinger gang robbed the Lowell bank. Here's a sampling of old- time crime: 1800's -- Bogus Island horse thieves 1877 -- The murder of Cornelius M. Blachley 1905 -- The murder of Ida Taylor Jeannette, a "crime of passion" 1917 -- Raid at Cedar Lake 1920 -- Domestic violence -- Forged checks 1921 -- A bogus bank robbery 1922 -- Car theft 1923 -- Bootleggers 1930 -- Gas station holdup 1931 -- Gypsies -- murder of former Lowell Marshall E.E. Duckworth 1932 -- Cattle Rustlers -- Bank Robbery 1933 -- Bandits of the John Dillinger gang rob the Lowell Bank on May 23. 1934 -- multiple robberies 1935 -- Murder/suicide 1940 -- Raid on a liquor still 2000 -- Escaped convicts in Lowell

DISASTERS / TRAGEDIES

(See also Fires) 1873 -- Heavy rain storm 1903 -- Lowell family caught in Chicago's Iroquois Theatre Fire 1920 -- Three killed in a car/train crash 1924 -- A barnstormer is killed in an air stunt over Lowell. 1948 -- Cyclone hits near Lowell on April 7 1952 -- A 69-car Monon Railroad express freight derails in Lowell and six cars of denatured alcohol exploded. 1963 -- Six teens die in a car crash. 1967 -- A blizzard covers Lowell with 22 inches of snow. 1974 -- A tornado hits Lowell, causing over $1.5 million in damages. 1977 -- Snowstorms maroon 150 Lowell students at school overnight. 1982 -- Floods ravage a wide area along the Kankakee. 1994 -- Roselawn plane crash 1998 -- An ice and snow storm paralyzes northwest Indiana. Some Lowell residents are without power for a week.

DOCTORS

Early pioneer Jabez Clark practiced medicine. There is no record of whether or not he was an actual doctor; he did not use that title. But he was the earliest known medical practitioner in the area. 1837 -- Dr. James A. Wood made rounds in Lake and Porter County beginning in this year. 1840 -- Dr. James A. Wood moved to Cedar Lake. 1847 -- Dr. James A. Wood settled in Lowell. 1855 or 56 -- Stephen B. Yeoman became a partner to Dr. Wood until Yeoman died in 1864. 1855-58 -- Dr. John Hunt worked in Lowell. 1858-59 -- Dr. Crane worked in Lowell. 1865 -- Dr. A.A. Gerrish 1866 -- Dr. E.R. Bacon came to Lowell after serving in the Civil War. He built a mansion in downtown Lowell. 1869 -- Dr. J.E. Davis *NOTE: Goodspeed & Blanchard say that Dr. James A Wood arrived in Lowell in 1837, but Ball's chronological list of early settlers, compiled from the Claims register, does not have Wood's name for that year. Ball states that Wood settled in Porter County in 1837 and made his rounds through Porter and Lake Counties on horseback. In 1840 he moved to Cedar Lake, and in 1847 he settled in Lowell. Goodspeed & Blanchard's biographical sketch about him says the same thing. Dr. Wood remained in active practice until the 1880's.

FIRE DEPARTMENT

1896 -- Prominent Lowell men met in November and organized a cooperative group to protect their homes and businesses in the event of fire. 1904 -- The fire department received their state charter as a Volunteer Fire Department of Indiana. 1916 -- Lowell and the township purchased its first fire truck.

FIRES

1898 -- On Oct. 4 fire destroyed most of the Lowell businesses on the north side of Commercial Avenue. Construction on a waterworks system was to have begun the following day, and as there had been a good deal of controversy over the system, arson was considered the cause. 1902 -- Fire broke out on the north side of Commercial Avenue. A news article states "It is the first time our water works have had any real test and they were certainly not found wanting." 1905 -- On Nov. 3 fire in the Frank L. Hunt Drug Store spread to the phone company and killed two operators--Mabel and Abbie Simpson. 1926 -- Schneider fire 1952 -- On May 22 a 69-car Monon Railroad express freight derailed in Lowell and six cars of denatured alcohol exploded. 1985 -- On Oct. 26, 1985, fire destroys the Livery Stable containing several antiques shops in Lowell.

GEOGRAPHY

Longitude 87 degrees, 24 minutes, 47 seconds west Latitude 41 degrees, 17 minutes, 41 seconds north Elevation around 665 feet

HOUSES

1835 -- Samuel Halstead made a claim in August on Timber & Mill seat on Sect. 23, Twp. 33, Range 9. His cabin was the first Lowell building. 1837 -- Jabez Clark, his wife Marietta, and two children came to northwest Indiana from New York. In 1838 they built a log cabin and bought a quarter section of land from the government in the east half of what is now Lowell. This was the second Lowell building. 1845 -- Jabez Clark built the first frame house. It stood on the south side of the county road (originally an Indian trail) which is now Commercial Avenue. It was built of hewn timbers with oak siding and homemade shingles. It had two downstairs rooms and two upstairs rooms and was built over a cellar in the side of a hill. The housewarming was also the first dancing party in the area. 1850 -- Melvin A. Halsted discovered a deposit of clay in his mill site and in 1849 turned out 400,000 bricks and began the construction of the first brick house in Lake County on the corner of what is now Main and Halsted Streets. The house was completed and occupied in 1850. In 2002 it was turned into the Halsted House Museum.

LIBRARIES

1904 -- The Lowell area had a small subsciption library of 500 books. 1917 -- The Lowell Library was organized and housed on the second floor of Lizzie Davis' hat shop. 1920 -- The Lowell "Public" Library was established and a one and one- half story Carnegie library building was erected on the town square. 1969 -- A new public library building on the corner of Fremont and Main Streets in Lowell opened on Dec. 9. It replaced the Carnegie building. 1993 -- A new library building was opened on Nov. 8. It was located at 1505 E. Commercial Ave. and replaced the 1969 building. Click here for a brief history of the development of the library in Lowell.

MONUMENTS

1905 -- Three Creeks Monument was dedicated in June. It was erected in the memory of the 400 men from West, Cedar, and Eagle Creek Townships who served in the Civil War. It also has the names of those who served in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish America War. There is the name of one woman, Mrs. Abbie Cutler, who was a nurse in the Civil War. Her husband was a doctor. The monument cost $3,000. 1950's -- Shelby War Monument 1988 -- A monument was erected next to Lowell Memorial Cemetery in honor of the war dead from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. Following the Persian Gulf War a monument was erected in honor of the Tri-Creek area people who served. This monument is on the east side of Evergreen Park on Commercial Avenue.

MUSEUMS

1933 - 1944 -- The Lowell Museum

NEWSPAPERS

1872 -- The first newspaper was the Lowell Star edited by E.R. Beebe. (Some sources spell his name "Beebie.") 1885 -- Henry H. Ragon and A.A. Winslow establish the Lowell Tribune. 1901-3 -- The Lowell Souvenir

NOSTALGIA

Early Lowell Ordinances County Home Fremond McCarty's History of Lowell Schneider Antics 1872 -- Highlights of the news from the Star 1873 -- Highlights of Lowell in 1873 1874 -- Highlights of Lowell in 1874 1875/6 -- Silver Cornet Brass Band 1876 -- U.S. Centennial celebration in Lowell 1898 -- Highlights of Lowell in 1898 1899 -- Highlights of Lowell in 1899 1900 -- Highlights of Lowell in 1900 1901 -- Highlights of Lowell in 1901 1904 -- Highlights of Lowell in 1904 1917 -- Automobiles in Lake County 1918 -- January weather 1934 -- Sixth Infantry 1952 -- Centennial events Centennial photos Centennial/Labor Day parade photos Old Settlers' Day

ORGANIZATIONS

Founded Organization 1868 Colfax Masonic Lodge #378 1891 Knights of Pythias 1896 Knights of Columbia 1919 Lowell American Legion Post #101 ? Modern Woodmen

PARKS

The library called the Park Department (Jan. 17, 1994) for information on the first park, but they did not have records that showed the first park. Possibly it's Oakland Park, mentioned as in existence in a 1923 news article. Mr. Schmal, a local historian, said that the little area sometimes known as Railroad Park in downtown Lowell could be called the first park. Oakland park, originally owned by the Lowell Gun Club, was given to the town in the early part of the century. 1969 -- The Park Board met for the first time.

PEOPLE / PLACES / THINGS

Early BLACKSMITHS -- southern Lake County First BLACKSMITH -- Theodore Burnham First DEATH in Pleasant Grove -- David Agnew First DOCTOR -- Dr. James A. Wood First electric lights -- Turned on in Lowell on June 20, 1897 First FARMER -- John Driscoll First GENERAL STORE -- Jonah Thorn owned and operated it. First HARDWARE and TIN STORE -- Operated by J.W. Viant First HOTEL -- the "Union House" First MARRIAGE in Lake County -- 1837 -- David Bryant and his second wife First NEWSPAPER EDITOR -- E.R. Beebe (Beebie) First POSTMASTER -- James H. Sanger First SCHOOLMASTER -- Richard Cannon First TAVERN -- kept by Jonah Thorn First TAX COLLECTOR in Lake Co. -- J. Addison Clark First TELEVISION installed -- W.R. "Bill" Weaver First TOWN MARSHALL -- Edward Curtiss (appointed May 3, 1869) First WHITE WOMAN in Lake Co. -- Mrs. Farrell (July 4, 1833) See also Biographies of Local People See also "Pioneer History" by Lowell Town Historian Richard Schmal.

POLICE

1869 -- Edward Curtiss, the first Town Marshall, was appointed on May 3. 1898 -- After the Oct. fire, the marshall was on duty during the day and a night watchman walked the business district looking for fires. 1972 -- A Metropolitan Police System went into effect in Lowell as of Jan. 1.

POPULATION

By 1850 The entire population of the Three Creek Townships was 1,227 people -- 501 in Cedar Creek Township, 315 in Eagle Creek Township, and 411 in West Creek Township. In the 2000 census, the population of the Three Creeks area had grown to 17,325 -- 10,649 people in Cedar Creek Township, 1,695 in Eagle Creek Township, and 4,981 in West Creek Township. The town of Lowell, which is partly in Cedar Creek Township and partly in West Creek Township, had a population of 7,505 people according to the 2000 census. Here are some other statistics gleaned from newspapers and census reports in the LH-Population files at Lowell Public Library:
Year Lowell Cedar Creek Twp. Eagle Creek Twp. West Creek Twp. Lake County
1850 -- 501 315 411 3,991
1860 -- -- -- -- --
1870 -- -- -- -- --
1880 -- -- -- -- --
1890 -- 1,619 647 1,201 28,800
1900 -- 2,407 597 1,173 --
1910 1,235 -- -- -- --
1920 1,197 -- -- -- --
1930 1,274 -- 717 1,148 --
1940 1,448 3,010 756 1,566 --
1950 1,616 3,530 773 1,902 --
1960 2,270 5,327 769 2,362 --
1970 3,839 -- -- -- --
1980 5,827 -- -- -- --
1990 6,423 9,063 1,374 4,231 475,594
2000 7,505 10,649 1,695 4,981 484,564
2010 9,276 12,097 1,668 6,826 496,005

POST OFFICE

1843 -- The Outlet Post Office was established. It was located in the vicinity of the Lowell High School, about 1 mile east of Cedar Creek. James H. Sanger was Postmaster. 1864 -- The first daily mail service for Lowell began in January after Melvin Halsted went to Washington, D.C., to ask for Vice President Colfax's assistance.

RAILROADS

1880 -- The first railroad was built through Lowell by the Louisville, New Albany, & Chicago Co. (also called Monon). There were some freight and passenger runs in 1880, but regular runs started in 1881. 1883 -- The Three I (later called the New York Central) Railroad came to Cedar Creek Twp. 1905 -- The New York Central, which ran through North Hayden, was built. 1952 -- The Monon freight train derailed in downtown Lowell.

SCHOOLS

The first Lake County school was located on the John Meyers farm south of Cedar Lake. The first Cedar Creek Township school was built on the Drake farm which was later purchased by Thomas Dickinson. The site lies south of Lowell on the east bank of Cedar Creek. Richard Cannon was the first Cedar Creek schoolmaster. This school was discontinued in 1927. 1852 -- The first grade school building was erected by M.A. Halsted. It was a small brick building that doubled as a church and was built near the present intersection of Clark Street and Commercial Avenue. 1862/68 -- A brick school house was built on the corner of Main and Union Streets. It was a two story building, the largest and best school in the county. Building and equipment cost $8,000, and the building was used until 1896 when it was torn down and a larger school was built on the same site. This school is still standing today, although it is no longer used as a school. 1896 -- This brick school replced the building from the 1860's. 1915-16 -- A high school was built on Oakley Street replacing the one on Main St., which became a grade school. 1965 -- The schools were reorganized to make a single system of Lake County's 3 southernmost townships. 1969/70 -- Lowell High School moved from its Oakley St. location to 2051 E. Commercial St. The Oakley Street school became the Middle School, which closed in 2011 and was demolished in 2012. Further Reading Binyon School Bruce School Brunswick School Buckley School Center School school at Creston History of Eagle Creek Township Schools Fifield School Liberty School History of Lowell High School Orchard Grove school house Sheridan School History of West Creek Schools School enumeration Cedar Creek Twp. Schools -- 1920 8th Grade Graduates Pine Grove Alumni 1901 -- Cedar Creek Twp. (commencement program) 1901 -- West Creek 1903 -- Cedar Creek Twp. (commencement program) 1910 -- Eagle Creek 1912 -- Cedar Creek Twp. (graduation photo) 1917 1920 1924 1938 -- Center and Liberty Schools undated Lowell High School Alumni LHS graduates, 1890-1969 Class of 1895 Class of 1905 Class of 1911 (graduation photo) Class of 1911 (1951 reunion) Class of 1912 (graduation photo) Class of 1912 (commencement program) Class of 1915 (1965 reunion) Class of 1920 Class of 1922 Class of 1923 Class of 1923 (1928 reunion) Class of 1924 (1977 reunion) Class of 1927 (1929 reunion) Class of 1940 Class of 1949 Class of 1962 (2002 reunion) Class of 1963 Teachers 1926/27 school year Nostalgia School in 1890 School in 1891 School in 1898 School in 1902 School in 1906 School in 1912 School in 1921 School in 1954 School in 1959

SETTLERS

1835 -- Samuel Halstead made a claim in August on Timber & Mill seat on Sect. 23, Twp. 33, Range 9. His cabin was the first Lowell building. 1835 -- John Driscoll was the first farmer. He settled on a quarter section of land southeast of Lowell. 1836 -- John P. Hoff of New York City bought the tract of land that Samuel Halstead claimed in 1835. He failed to comply with the conditions of the claim, however, and forfeited it. 1836 -- On November 29 the claim on Sect. 23, Twp. 33, Range 9 was transferred to Mark Burroughs and James Whitney for $212. 1837 -- Jabez Clark, his wife Marietta, and two children came to northwest Indiana from New York. In 1838 they built a log cabin and bought a quarter section of land from the government in the east half of what is now Lowell. 1845 -- Melvin A. Halsted and his wife Martha came to Lake County and settled in West Creek Township. They moved to Lowell in 1848. See also "Pioneer History" by Lowell Town Historian Richard Schmal.

SPORTS, ATHLETES, and SPORTSMEN

Baseball Baseball, The Early Days Our National Pastime John "Bud" Clancy, professional baseball Football Lowell's Beef Trust Football Team (early 1900's) LHS State 4A Football Champs, 2005 Corby Davis, professional football Racing Cobe Cup Race, 1909 Cobe Cup Race, photos and information Belanger Special, Indianapolis 500 winner, 1951 Hunting Sportsmen on the Kankakee

SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES

Brunswick Conrad Creston Dinwiddie Eagle Creek Township Klaasville Lake Dalecarlia Orchard Grove Schneider Shelby Sherburnville and Yellowhead Twp., Illinois Tinkerville/Creston West Creek Township

TIME LINE

1837 -- On Feb 16 Lake County became an independent county. 1839 -- On May 9 the south township of Lake County was divided into the townships of West Creek, Cedar Creek, and Eagle Creek. 1852 -- The town of Lowell was laid out. 1868 -- Lowell was incorporated on June 27, 1868. 1968 -- A planning commission was formed. 1969 -- A zoning ordinance was prepared.

UNUSUAL PEOPLE / PLACES / EVENTS

Gypsies Gypsy Graveyard Ku Klux Klan

VETERANS

1812 -- War of 1812 1846-1848 -- Mexican War 1861-1865 -- Civil War 1898 -- Spanish-American War 1914-1918 -- World War I 1939-1945 -- World War II 1950-1953 -- Korean War 1961-1975 -- Vietnamese Conflict 1991 -- Persian Gulf War
Last updated on May 9, 2013.

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