In Ball's "History of Lake County, 1884" is this paragraph: "In January 1835, Lyman Wells, and with him an unmarried man named John Driscoll, settled a little southeast of what is now the town of Lowell. Lyman Wells had a wife and four children."
John Driscoll is the subject of this month's column. Very little was written of the Lyman Wells family.
The Wells family and John Driscoll (O'Driscoll in Ireland) settled in South Lake County soon after pioneers Thomas Childers, Solon Robinson and Robert Wilkinson, the first three in the area.
When Bartlett Woods, an early pioneer, was president of the Old Settlers Association of Lake County in 1884, he said the following, "I should do an injustice to the pioneer history of Lake County were I to omit stating the reasons of the slow growth after the first settlement. The majority of the first settlers lacked means, a want of capital; it was the day of small beginnings.
"The man was rich who owned a breaking team. Some had a yoke of oxen, very few had horses, but many had neither. No one had pastures; everything was turned out, and the tinkle of the bell led many a wanderer to the settlers' cabin.
"Hunting the oxen on foot through the wet tall grass and sloughs in the early morning was anything but pleasant, and often finding them late, made plowing slow work, and a wooden mold board on the plow made good work impossible. No steel plows then. And then after working and waiting for years and when at last we did raise something to sell, our means of transportation was so impeded by bad roads, that it cost nearly all it was worth to get it to market. In 1850 the railroads came and opened up to us the world and a market the year around."
Those conditions and problems faced early pioneer John Driscoll when he came from Ireland and settled in Indiana.
John Driscoll, whose name was listed in the 1840 Lake County Census, came to the United States when he was sixteen years of age, and worked as a farmer in Vermont, New York, Michigan and Illinois for a few years. He once owned forty acres on the site now occupied by the town of White Pigeon, Michigan.
John came to Porter County, Indiana, in 1834 and home-steaded 160 acres later owned by the Bryant family. He came to Lake County, Indiana, in 1835, where he acquired another 160 acres in Cedar Creek Township. These acres he traded for a like number with pioneer Peter Surprise, and there on he resided until his death in October, 1862.
John and Betsey were the parents of six children, and their pioneer home was located just south of State Road 2 on what is now Joe Martin Road. Before the first frame building of St. Edward Catholic Church was built in 1870, Mass was said at the Driscoll home by a visiting priest from Crown Point.
John and Betsey Driscoll had six children: Martin, William, Catherine Ann, Ellen, John Robert and Mary Eliza.
Martin, the oldest son, was born in 1840 and died in 1925. He received a fair education and worked for his father until he was 21 years old, at which time his father gave him 155 acres in West Creek township. This he farmed until 1864, when he sold the farm.
In February, 1865, he enlisted in Company K, Forty-third Illinois Volunteers, and served until he was mustered out in December of that year. After returning from the army, he purchased 100 acres of unimproved land in West Creek Township, on which he resided until 1870. He then sold and exchanged this property several times, at the same time owning a livery stable and farm near Lowell. The village livery stable he exchanged for land adjoining the farm, and where he was living in 1884.
On August 21, 1861, he was married to Elizabeth (Lizzie) Binyon (1841-1910) of Walnut Grove, Porter County, the daughter of John and Nancy B. (Hughes) Binyon. John Binyon was from east Tennessee and was an early settler of Porter County. He was from the Binyon Hotel family of Cedar Lake.
Martin and Lizzie's oldest child, Johnnie Driscoll, was born in 1869 and drowned in Cedar Lake in January 1892. The following is from the newspaper account of the accident: "A gloom was thrown over this community Tuesday when word was received that Johnie, eldest son of Martin Driscoll, had been drowned in Cedar Lake. The particulars of this sad affair as we learn them are as follows: He came across the lake from his uncle's to Paisley for the mail on his skates and in returning when midway of the lake, skated onto a thin space of ice forty feet across which gave way with him." The story went on to tell how a little girl saw him fall in and gave the alarm, but he drowned in twenty feet of water.
Another son of Martin Driscoll was Davis Christopher, who was named after Dr. John Davis, who had come to Lowell when a young doctor in 1869 and practiced there for many years. Davis C. Driscoll was known as "Doc" to the townspeople of Lowell, where he ran a drug store.
His store was on the lower floor of the Colfax Lodge building, built by George Waters in 1898 after the big Lowell fire. George Waters sold his business to Doc Driscoll in 1915 and later Doc sold it to Logan Scritchfield, who moved the business to the northwest corner of Commercial and Clark Streets, where the Geo. Death Hardware store had been.
Many readers will remember Doc's son, Davis Driscoll, who now lives in California.
The following headline appeared in the 'Lowell Tribune' on May 25, 1933: "Bank Bandits Visit Lowell Tuesday A.M. Lowell National Bank looses $5000 to Bank Robbers. They Escape." During this robbery Doc Driscoll was walking in front of the bank on his familiar crutches. He was ordered inside by a lookout. No one was hurt. The robbery is a story in itself, and will be told at another time.
Mildred (Millie) Driscoll (1865-1946) was one of the four daughters of Martin and Lizzie. She married Hago F. Carstens, who died during a tragic fire at their home in 1909. Hago owned a harness shop in Lowell at 408 E. Commercial Ave., where the Paper House is now located.
Millie's daughter, Doris Carstens Fatch (Mrs. Walter Fatch), is widowed and living in Crown Point. Millie and Hago's son, Driscoll Carstens, had the family name of his mother for a first name although he was known for years by many people as "Dick." He was married to Imogene Strickland and died in 1977.
Martin and Lizzie's other daughters were Bessie, Alice and Ella. Bessie (1868-1949) married Henry Taylor and later moved to Jennings County, Indiana. Alice, called Allie, married Frank Fletcher and moved to Canada. Ella, called Ellie, married Eli Shields, a Monon Railroad employee, and moved to Indianapolis.
The third son of Martin was William R. Driscoll (1875-1946) who may be remembered by some old timers of Lowell as the friendly butcher, was married and had a son, Robert.
William Driscoll, the second son of John and Betsey Driscoll, was born about 1842. In the 1870's he moved to Longton, Kansas, and purchased a drug store. He was joined by his cousin Martin Comeford (Grant), son of Bridget Murphy Comerford Grant, sister of William's mother Betsey Murphy Driscoll. Martin worked for William for three years and then moved to Colorado. Nothing is known of William after the 1870's.
John Robert Driscoll, the third son of John and Betsey Murphy Driscoll, was born in Cedar Creek Township in 1852. His father died when he was 10, and John remained on the farm until he was 21.
He then went to Lowell, engaged in the dry good business until 1878 when he moved to a part of the old homestead left to him by his father and where in 1884 he had a farm of 140 acres. In September 1876 he married Ida Lynch, daughter of John and Sarah M. (Sherard) Lynch, formerly of Ohio. John and Ida were the parents of a son, Don Carl Driscoll, and a daughter, Madeline (Mrs. Ned Nelson).
Catherine Ann, eldest daughter of John and Betsey Driscoll, was born October 18, 1844, and died November 28, 1924. She married John Hack November 23, 1863, and they were the parents of Alta and William. Daughter Alta married Ernie R. Lynch and they were the parents of Madge Lynch. Son William married Daisy Dinwiddie and they were the parents of John William Hack.
Ellen Driscoll, the second daughter of John and Betsey Driscoll, was born about 1848. Her name appears on the 1850 and the 1860 censuses, but no information is available about Ellen.
The third daughter of John and Betsey Driscoll was Mary Eliza. She married James W.* Smith on May 28, 1878, and they had one son.
We were not able to locate pictures of the Dirscoll pioneers, but were glad to receive information from Doris Carstens Fatch, Catherine Grant Talbott, Earle Tanner, census records, and of course, the old history books.
NOTE -- A 1905 article lists Mary Eliza Driscoll's husband as John Smith, rather than as James W. Smith. However, family researcher Tom Grant says the correct name of her husband is James W. Smith.)
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