In 1849, when Melvin Halsted was building his brick house in Lowell, there was a great potato famine in Ireland. Many of the citizens of Ireland did not own land, but were taxed heavily, so for that reason many of them immigrated to the United States.
Among those who immigrated here were Dennis and Catherine Buckley and their five children. One child, a son, died at sea. The Buckleys entered the United States at Ellis Island, then traveled directly to Lowell where some friends and relatives were living. Their relatives here were the Driscoll family, who came earlier from Timoleauge, County of Cork, Ireland, where their name was O'Driscoll.
Following the early wars of our nation, soldiers and sailors were awarded land grants in payment for service. Among the sixty-one million acres given in this way was the seventy-nine acres that made up the original part of the Buckley Homestead, purchased by early settler Dennis Buckley for a low price.
Dennis built his log cabin just west of the present home on the Buckley farm. The Buckley farm, like many of the land holdings of early settlers, is near an old trail that followed near the edge of the Kankakee Swamp, this used by many tribes of Indians and by the early trappers. The trail is now a part of Belshaw Road, which begins near the Illinois state line, ending near where the Orchard Grove School was located on the present Grant Street.
Dennis Buckley worked hard on his land and probably died from overworking. He died in 1851, just a few years after arriving in the United States.
His son, William, then about twenty-three years of age, became the head of the family, ruled with a heavy hand, and divided the land among his brothers and sister. His mother lived with him on the farm west of the homestead. William suggested to his mother that she donate land for a schoolhouse, and soon the Buckley School was built.
Mrs. Dennis Buckley was Catherine Fleming, born in the County of Cork, Ireland, in 1804, and died in Lake County, Indiana, in 1858. The children of Dennis and Catherine were William, John, Patrick, an infant son lost at sea, and one daughter, Julia.
William, born in the County of Cork, Ireland, in 1828, came to this country with his parents at the age of 18 and began working by the month as a farm hand. He assisted in building the brick Halsted House (1850) in Lowell, and for some time continued to work for Melvin Halsted, the founder of Lowell.
For several years, William farmed in partnership with his brothers John and Patrick, and afterward engaged in farming alone. In 1897 he retired from active farming and moved to his home in Lowell, located at the southeast corner of Burnham and Indiana Streets. In a 1904 history book it is noted that William Buckley was the owner of four hundred acres of good farm land in Lake County.
William was married twice, first to Elizabeth Darst, and their children were Kate, Franklin D., Dennis P., Addie, Julia M., John P., Joseph L., Fred W., and Raymond. Some time after the death of his wife Elizabeth, William married Louisa Comeford of Vermillion County, Ill., who was the mother of nine children.
Julia Buckley, William's sister, married Patrick Feeley (1825-1908) who was a farmer in Cedar Creek township. Their children were Thomas, William, Mary and Ann. Daughter Mary was married to Anda Maxwell of Lowell. Ann's married name was Harmon.
Julia and Patrick Feeley's farm was south of the Buckley Homestead. Born in Ireland in 1831, Julia died in Lake County in 1915.
Patrick, another son of early settler Dennis Buckley, was born in Ireland in the County of Cork in 1840. He was a member of the Indiana Volunteers in the Civil War.
Patrick and his wife, Mary Ellen (1852-1936), farmed their land just north of the Buckley Homestead, where their home was located at what is now the corner of Hendricks Street and State Road 2. Their children were Edith (Berdine), Clara (Berg), WIll, Edward, Bernard, Eugene and Benjamin.
Benjamin was drowned at age 13 in the Mill pond just north of Lowell, Partick and Mary Ellen later moved into Lowell to their home on Burnham Street just north of the present nursing home. Patrick died in 1923.
Dennis and Catherine Buckley's son, John, farmed in partnership with his brothers, then bought them out, and in the 1850's built the house on the Buckley Homestead. He married Harriet DeWitt, whose family lived on a farm in the same area. Their children were Adelia (Mrs. Frank Schmal), Harriet, Effie (Mrs. Peter Miller ), Sarah (Mrs. Oren Thomas) and Charles.
On his farm, John raised beef cattle and grain. The original barn burned to the ground about 1915 and a new barn was soon built while at the same time a new kitchen area was built to the rear of the house.
At that time, the old kitchen, which was a separate building behind the house, was moved across the street and was there until the summer of 1982, when it was removed, too old to be restored. A survey was made of the old kitchen building and it is hoped it can be reconstructed the way it once was. The old smokehouse still stands behind the house, as well as other necessary outbuildings.
When John moved into Lowell, at the corner of Viant Street and Commercial Ave., his son Charles took over the Homestead and raised Holstein cattle, sending the milk into Chicago, Ill.
Charles married Alta M. Garrison, and their children were Irene Ida, Gladys May, Rose B., Charles Archibald (Archie), and Gerald Albert (Doc). Rose Buckley (Pearce) is the only living child of Charles and Alta.
Rose said that when she rode her horse to school in Lowell, she would stable it at a downtown livery stable. Her horse, named "Lady," was ridden side-saddle.
She also told us an interesting story about the early cabin. When Dennis and Catherine Buckley, her great-grandparents, lived in the log cabin, there were many wolves in the area.
While Dennis worked in the fields, and Catherine cared for the younger children, sometimes the aroma of the cooking attracted the wolves. The younger children were hurried to the cabin loft as Catherine kept the hungry wolves from coming in the cabin door.
Rose also told us the first automobile on the farm was an E.M.F. touring car. Her father, Charles, had quite a time driving at first because the car did not respond to "Whoa!"
The large tree on the lawn of the Buckley Homestead was planted by Harriet Buckley, wife of John, soon after the house was built.
John P. Buckley, son of William and grandson of Dennis, graduated from Valparaiso College and was a doctor of Dentistry. John F. Buckley, the 3rd John and the son of Dennis P. and great-grandson of early settler Dennis Buckley, lives at Cedar Lake. He is a boyhood friend of this writer.
The stone marker at the Buckley Homestead reads as follows:
"A living park donated to the citizens of Lake County in memory of Dennis Buckley and his son John from Cork County, Ireland. Given to the Northwest Indiana Natural and Human Resources Foundation by great grand-daughter, Rose Buckley Pearce, December 30, 1977."
Return to Lowell History
Return to the "Pioneer History" A to Z Index Page