The experiences of the pioneers on the prairie land in Lake County were different, in some respects, from the earlier life of the settlers in the large forests of Ohio and of southern and central Indiana. The Lake County pioneers built their cabins on the edges of woodland, or in the groves where they had shelter from the trees, instead of having to make clearings in heavy timber.
The early West Creek Settlement pioneers started at once with large breaking plows with six or more yoke of oxen attached, and often could plant the first summer after their arrival. They also had the advantage of cutting as much grass as they could find time to now, and using it for hay.
One of their hardest jobs was splitting rails for the Virginia worm fence, which was used on the early farms.
One of the early settlers experiencing this type of pioneering was Peter Hathaway. He was born in the State of New York in 1782. He lived with his wife Rebecca in New York state for a time and then journeyed to Lake County, Ind., to homestead at the early West Creek Settlement in 1838. Peter and Rebecca had twelve children, namely: James P., Silas D., Abram, Bethuel, Sarah E., Temperance R., Lewis A., Peter, George B., Elizabeth, Harriet and Asher.
Listed among members of the first Methodist Class in the West Creek area were Silas D. Hathaway, Sarah Hathaway, Bethuel Hathaway and his wife Lucinda. Abram Hathaway and his wife, Elizabeth Hathaway, and Paul Hathaway and his wife. This Paul lived in Sherburnville and was no relation to the Peter Hathaway family.
Among students attending a log school house situated on the east bank of West Creek in 1839 were the following family names: Sanger, Hayden, Kitchel, Hathaway and Pulver. The Hathaway's later attended the Sanders School near the Sanders burial ground.
The Lake County Census of 1840, taken by L. Warriner lists the heads of families which include three Hathaways: Abram, Peter D. and Silas D.
Peter Hathaway, Sr. died in 1862, and all but Abram and Bethuel died before 1872.
Bethuel Hathaway was born in New York state in 1815. When he was twenty years old, he started out on his own and journeyed west, walking from Ohio to Elkhart County, Ind. and arriving with just a few shillings in his pocket.
He did farm work for a time, then went to LaPorte County for two years. He then came to Lake County to purchase land, and later went on to Kankakee County, Ill., to again acquire acreage.
"In 1844 the wheat crop was almost a total loss and the farmers were very discouraged for several years the situation was so discouraging that many farmers left Lake County and went farther west to seek new homes in Illinois" is a quote from Thomas H. Cannon, History of the Lake and Calumet Region of Indiana, Vol. 1, page 100, given to us by Beatrice Horner, Cedar Lake Historian.
In 1855* Bethuel was married to Mrs. Lucinda Cleaver, widow of Walter Cleaver and a daughter of Nehemiah and Harriet Hayden, West Creek Pioneers of 1837 and subjects of this column in November 1980.
Bethuel and Lucinda farmed in Illinois until 1864, and then moved to the land he had purchased in West Creek before going to Illinois. They had three children: Mahlon, Henry and Jane. Mrs. Hathaway's three sons by her first marriage were David, Daniel and Walter Cleaver.
Their son, Mahlon Hathaway, married Julia Smith, and their three children were Edna, Blanche and Carrie. After Julia died in 1887, Mahlon married Barbara Grimes, and to this union were born Leslie, Gladys, Luceilla and Archie.
Bethuel and Lucinda's daughter Jane married Charles Belshaw, a member of another pioneer family of the West Creek area.
Son Henry Hathaway was married in 1883 to Jane (Jennie) Maxwell, who was born in Wakeman, Ohio, in 1856. She came to Lake County with her parents in 1860, taught school at West Creek, and in Kankakee County, Ill. Henry and Jennie Hathaway celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in March, 1933. Their children were Abbie ,born in 1886, Harry in 1888, Ethel in 1890 and Grace in 1898.
Abbie was married to Fred A. Dahl, and their children are Harold, presently Cedar Creek Township trustee; Jeanette, now living in Florida; and Fred H. "Jim" Dahl, a resident of West Creek.
Harry married Lyrrell Diss of West Creek area. Their daughter, Ruth, and her husband, John Keithley, live on farm land which was the homestead of George Lyman Foster, another pioneer written about in our column in January 1981. Their daughter Dorothy is married to Hayden Patz.
Henry and Jennie's daughter, Ethel, was married in 1914 to Henry Boyd Wason, a member of one of the families pioneering in Lake Prairie Settlement of West Creek. To them were born three children: Marjorie Jean (Mrs. John C. Holliday); Ethel Harriet (Mrs. Roy R. Butler); and Doris M. (Mrs. Lamione D. Brumbaugh).
It is easy to see why an early historian called part of the West Creek area "The Hayden and Hathaway Settlement."
Information for this month's column was taken in part from "The Hayden Family Book;" "Encyclopedia of Geneology and Biology of Lake County, Indiana, 1904" by T.H. Ball; the "Watson Ancestory;" and from information supplied by Mrs. John (Ruth Hathaway) Keithley.
* NOTE -- Although this article places the marriage date of Betheul Hathaway to the widow Lucinda Hayden Cleaver as 1855, Betheul Hathaway's obituary lists it as Dec. 31, 1856.