Michael Pearce, early pioneer of Eagle Creek Township, came to Lake County and located a claim in 1838, before the big land sale of 1839. He was born near Hamilton, Ohio, in 1808, and came with his father, Squire Pearce, a Scotsman from New Jersey who was among the early settlers of LaPorte County. But Michael traveled a little farther, into Lake County, where he farmed.
Michael held offices of Justice of the Peace and School Trustee in Lake County. He was elected Associate Judge of Lake County shortly before the office was abolished in 1851. The term was for seven years, and the following pioneers were also elected to that office prior to it's abolishment: W.B. Crooks, Wellington Clark, H.D. Palmer, Samuel Turner, Alexander Brown and W. Rockwell.
Michael Pearce was also on the first board of directors of the Lake County Agricultural Society in 1851, the year the board decided to hold the first Lake County Fair for one day during the following year, in October, 1852.
In 1840, Michael was married to Margaret Jane Dinwiddie, daughter of another Lake County pioneer. They started house-keeping in a double log cabin, and a larger home was built in 1853. Margaret was born in Trumbull County, Ohio, in 1818, and died in 1894.
When a young girl, Margaret had quite an experience with two young Indians who were living near her cabin home. Seizing an opportunity to frighten her, they sprang from the roadside and threatened her with their tomahawks. Instead of crying out, or turning pale with fright, she simply stood still and laughed at them. The confused and ashamed young Indians then let her pass unharmed.
According to a story in 1882 by historian Goodspeed, Michael Pearce sowed the seeds from which many of the area orchards sprang. Pearce remarked that if his neighbors were too poor to buy trees, he would give each one trees, that all might have fruit. At one time the Pearce farm included 660 acres.
Michael and Margaret Pearce had ten children, though we find later information on only seven.
Their son, John Pearce, was born on the Eagle Creek farm in 1842. When his father died in 1861, John, age 19, took over the management of the farm. He provided for the family welfare and was a successful farmer, raising hogs and cattle.
Like the rest of the pioneer children, John had attended the local log cabin schoolhouse. He received efficient training in farm management from his father. Historian T.H. Ball had this to say of John Pearce, "He has not neglected the many other interests of society and citizenship and is held in high esteem for the worthy career that he has made for himself during a long life in one community."
It is interesting to note some of the prices the farmers were paid in those early days. Corn was 10c a bushel; oats 10c and 12-1/2c a bushel; wheat, when delivered to Chicago, brought 50c a bushel, and dressed hogs were sold at $1.25 per hundred-weight. Their products were hauled to Chicago or to Michigan City, and the grain was ground at LaPorte, forty miles away.
John Pearce marrried Elizabeth V. Foster, a native of Pennsylvania and the daughter of Frederick and Betsey Foster, who came to the Crown Point area in 1854. Elizabeth taught in the area schools and was an instructor at the Ball Institute in Crown Point.
The children of John and Elizabeth were Florence, who married Thomas Ross and had two sons, John and Paul; and Jay M. who became a partner with his father on the farm where they raised Poland China hogs and shorthorn cattle. Jay's wife was Margaret Miller, and their children were John and Beth.
Seth L. Pearce, another son of Michael and Margaret, was born in Eagle Creek Township in Lake County in 1854. He was educated in the local schools, attended Crown Point High School, and went to the Northern Indiana School at Valparaiso. After spending almost two years in Oregon and California, he returned to his native Lake County to farm.
In 1886, Seth married Sarah Patterson of Kosciusko County, Ind. Sarah was born in July 1859, the daughter of John and Margaret (Kirkpatrick) Patterson. One daughter, Margaret E., born in 1887 to Seth and Sarah, later married Dr. Charles Kurtz.
In 1904, their farm consisted of 116 well-improved acres, producing good crops and live stock. Seth became known in his township as a man of integrity and industrious habits.
Other children of Michael and Margaret Pearce that we find records of were: Harriet, who married Isaac Bryant; Nancy, wife of Orlando Servis; Mary J., wife of W.T. Buchanan; Susanna, married to G.H. Stahl; and Thomas, married to Mary Turner.
Harriet's husband, Isaac Bryant, a member of another early pioneer family living in Porter County, was the son of Samuel and Joanna (Woodruff) Bryant. Isaac was a member of the Ninth Indiana Volunteers, Co. H., and was wounded at the battle of Green Brier, Va., during the Civil War.
Nancy's husband, Orlando V. Servis, was of the Southeast Grove area, a prominent farmer and veteran soldier, born in 1843. In 1861 he enlisted in Co. E, also of the Ninth Indiana Infantry, and served over four years during the Civil War, taking part in many battles.
Thomas, the youngest of the pioneer family, was farming on the old homestead in 1904. He married Mary Turner, and their children were Edna (Mrs. Anton Dahl), Myrtle (Mrs. Lowell Bowman), and Murray Pearce, who married Gertude Dickinson who died in 1938 and Rose Buckley.
W.T. Buchanan and G. Henry Stahl were well known names in the early part of the history of Plum Grove and Eagle Creek Township. The family names of Pearce, Servis, Dinwiddie, Turner, and Foster are among those listed in the Lake County Census of 1840.
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