Among the pioneers making up the "New Hampshire Settlement" in the Lake Prairie area of West Creek Township was Capt. Thomas Little. This is the story of his family.
Thomas was a descendent of George Little, who came from England to America in 1640, landing at one of the ports along the coast of Massachusetts Colony. As time went on some of the members of the family became first settlers in Amesville, Boscawan, Canterbury and Contoocook, in what is now New Hampshire.
The area was home to many of them during the years of the Revolution; some served in the army and the militia, some stayed on the farms raising food and getting supplies, while others took part in the politics and government of the new state and nation.
George Little married Alice Poore, who arrived in America in May of 1638 aboard the British ship "Bevis." His second marriage was to Eleanor Barnard, a widow.
Bringing the Little line up to the time of the early settlers in Lake County the direct line descendants of George follows. Moses, the son of George and Alice Little, was born in 1657 at the Newbury, Massachusetts homestead established on land granted by the King of England in 1640.
In 1940, "Ripley's Believe It or Not" showed a drawing of the farm and told of it being the oldest farm in the USA, and continually cultivated for 300 years by the Little family. At that time (1940) it was owned by Silas Little, the tenth generation of Little's living there.
Tristram Little, the second son of Moses and Lydia Coffin Little, was born in 1681, and was married to Sarah Dole. Tristram was the builder of part of the house at Newsbury.
Enoch Little, son of Tristram and Sarah Dole Little, was born in 1728. Jesse Little was born in 1767, the son of Enoch and Hannah Hovey Little. Jesse married Martha Gerrish, daughter of Col. Henry and Martha Clough Garrish of Boscawen, New Hampshire.
Jesse and Martha were the parents of Capt. Thomas Little. Thomas was born in 1802 in Boscawen and died in West Creek, Indiana, in 1877 and buried in Lake Prairie Cemetery. He was married in 1829 to Myra Ames, daughter of Capt. Joseph and Hannah Ames of Boscawen, New Hampshire.
In 1854 Thomas and Myra Little moved to the Lake Prairie area. They settled on land purchased from a Mr. Barker, and their house was about one-half mile south of the North intersection of US 41 and Indiana 2. With their daughter, Sarah, they were charter memebers of the Lake Prairie Presbyterian Church organized in 1856.
They lived in a square frame house with four rooms downstairs and a loft above. Myra Little Spry, granddaughter of Thomas and Myra, wrote in 1951 that at one time there was a log house on the east 40 acres, near a spring. She said that the Thomas Little house was moved to the Spry place at the marsh.
Thomas and Myra had three children: Joseph Ames, Sarah Higley and Lucy Jane. Joseph Ames Little was born in 1830 in Merrimac County, New Hampshire and lived there until 1854, when his father moved his family to the "open, wild and beautiful center of Lake Prairie in West Creek Township," Lake County, Ind.
Coming west about the same time as the Little family were Abiel and Eliza Dodge Gerrish, and their daughter Mary became the wife of Joseph in 1859. They were married in the home of his uncle, Rev. Henry Little, at Madison, Ind.
Their first home was at Askum, Ill., but they lived most of their lives on the farm where his father Thomas had settled in West Creek. Their home, built close to his father's, was later removed when a large brick house was built by their son, Jesse. The brick house was later torn down when US 41 was widened.
Joseph was successful and prosperous farmer who kept large flocks of sheep and who early recognized the possibilities of the Kankakee marsh and bought more land in that area. He looked forward to the time when the marshlands would be drained and useful for farming. This marshland area later became the farms of his three sons.
In 1886-87 he served as a member of the House in the State Legislature. His name was synonymous with industry, integrity and kindness.
Joseph and Mary made one trip back to New Hampshire to visit friends and relatives. It was while climbing Mt. Kearsage that Thomas noticed a shortness of breath that continued to bother him afterward.
He inherited a tall grandfather clock from his own grandfather in New Hampshire, and it was shipped by rail to Dyer, Ind. Joseph drove over to pick it up and loaded the box, about the size and shape of a coffin, in his wagon. As he made his 'long trip' back to Lake Prairie, the travelers he met respectfully removed their hats and pulled over to the side of the road to let him pass, thinking he was pulling a funeral wagon.
Joseph and Mary Little believed in the importance of education and all six of their children went to college.
A quote we used recently was written by Joseph in 1884 and was part of a letter he wrote to the people who would be attending the 1934 Centennial of Lake County. At the time, he was president of the Lake County Old Settlers and Historical Society and of the Semi-Centennial Celebration in 1884.
In the letter he wrote of the many hardships of the early settlers, described the timber and the animals, and included stories of the Indians which made it very interesting. More of the letter will be included in future columns.
Much of the information for this column was taken from the "Joseph and Mary Little Family History" compliled by Hester C. Little Adams and Bertha K. Wilson and printed in 1976.
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