Heman Spalding, a resident of New England in the very early days of the United States, moved with his wife Mary and his family to Oneida County, N.Y., stayed there for a while, and then became a pioneer in Michigan in 1785, with their seven sons and two daughters. We have records on three of these; Henry Monroe Spalding, 1825-1901, and Sylvanus Sullivan Spalding, 1811-1901 became settlers in Michigan, while their brother Heman M. Spalding found his way to Indiana.
Heman M. Spalding, born in 1809, became a Lake County, Indiana, pioneer in 1837. He traveled into this county the spring of 1837 to look for a place to settle with his family. He purchased a claim from Judge Robert Wilkinson of Attica, early settler of 1835.
He then returned to Michigan to prepare for the move to Indiana, arriving here Aug.3, 1837, driving two yoke of oxen. For a while the family rented part of a large double log house owned by the Judge, built in the "Kentucky Style."
By Jan. 1, 1838, Heman moved his family into their new log house, built from timber on the place. The house was 16-by-20 feet, one and one-half stories high. Split logs were used for the floor, and large shake shingles were used on the roof. The fireplace, like many in that period, was made of mud and sticks. Some were called "cat and clay," for they mixed the fiber from the cattail plant with the mud for strength.
Their eldest daughter was born in that house on Jan.11, 1838, just a few days after completion. They soon found out that they were in the midst of one of the hardest winters in the area, for that winter was very severe, with snow staying on until April.
By the fall of 1838, the little farming community had grown and a log school house was erected near their home. One of the first teachers there was the daughter of Pioneer Joseph Jackson.
Heman, a blacksmith by trade, set up his shop outdoors until winter, and then was able to build a shed for shoeing oxen. It was hard for the early settlers in that area to get provisions, the closest mill being at Wilmington, Ill., with poor or no roads in between.
They bought corn from the neighbors, and shaved it with a jack plane to make bread or corn mush. Many times their diet consisted of corn, wild plums, and prairie chicken. Many Indians were on the marshlands in those early days, and they drove away the game for a while, except the wolves, which were pests. Later game became plentiful, especially deer. Rattlesnakes were all over the new settlement.
Heman Meyer Spalding had a large family of five sons and four daughters, though our records are not complete for the name of his wife and some of the children. Two daughters, identified as Mrs. J.T. Handley and Mrs. Isaac Handley, later lived with their families near Winfield Station, Ind.; Mariettta, 1843-1928, married George Sims and lived in Shelby, Ind.; James Spalding, who died 1914, married Margaret Grimes, 1848-1930, and lived in Sherburnville, Ill.
Heman Spalding, named after two of his ancestors, was the youngest son of Heman M. Spalding, 1837 pioneer, and was born September 1852. He attended local schools, went on to DePauw University for three years, and then graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1881.
Dr. Spalding became the Chief of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases for the Chicago Dept. of Health in 1894. He conducted a wide vaccination campaign in 1901, and was credited with checking the smallpox epedemic.
The following was written at the time of Dr. Spalding's death in 1926 by Dr. Herman N. Bundesen, Chicago commissioner of health: "The Chicago Dept. of Health has lost a loved, honored and faithful member who devoted the best years of his life to public health work; the Medical Profession, a skilled and high principled physician; and the people of Chicago a servant whose sense of duty was great enough to put service above material gain." It was a well-deserved tribute.
Joshua Parker Spalding, eldest son of West Creek Pioneer Heman M. Spalding, was born at Monroe County, Mich., November 1833, and died at Lowell in October 1921, at the age of 87. He came to Lake County in 1837 with his parents, and underwent all the hardships and pleasures of a pioneer youngster, and saw the last of the Potawatomi Indians disappear from this region. As a boy and a man, he helped to turn this wilderness into a garden.
On Oct. 22, 1856, he married Cynthia Dodge, eldest of thirteen children born to Henry and Lucretia Dodge. They were married by J.J. Michael, then a justice of the peace, at the home of the bride's parents.
Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Parker Spalding celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary Oct. 22, 1916, when a fine dinner was served, and their children and friends spent a joyful day.
Joshua lived on the farm until 1861, when the Civil War broke out and he answered the call of his country and enlisted in the 99th Indiana Volunteers, serving until the end of the war. Returning after the war with his wife and three small children, he resumed farming.
In March 1869, Joshua was appointed Postmaster at West Creek. His appointment, dated Mar. 5, 1869, was signed by John A.J. Creswell, then Postmaster General of the United States. The following is a quote from an old clipping: "He was a soldier in the Civil war for three years and was one of West Creek's early settlers, having had the post office in their home, where "Urvie" Brown (Ervin J. Brown) now lives."
Ervin's daughter, Aline Brown Patchett, told us that in a story handed down thru the years, the post office was in the corn crib on the farm. From a story written by Bessie Kenney, we find that Judge Wilkinson was the first postmaster of West Creek (1839), followed by Major Torrey, 1855, Ed Farley, who was in charge for a while until 1869, when Joshua was appointed.
Joshua had the office until 1882, the year he moved to a farm at Orchard Grove. The office was discontinued for a few years, and at about the turn of the century Charles Bailey opened an office at the old Bailey homestead for a while until the mail delivery was made from Lowell.
On his 80th birthday in 1913, it was said that Joshua was still interested in farming, and would walk to the farm in Orchard Grove from his home in Lowell to oversee activities. During his farming days, he won many ribbons and prizes for his corn.
On Aug. 27, 1915, he attended the funeral of his old friend Isaac Erb. They both were members of Co. A. the 99th Indiana Volunteers, and Erb was the last member of the Regiment living in Crown Point.
The children of Joshua and Cynthia Dodge Spalding were: One child who died as an infant; Milo, who married Dora Hamilton in 1883 and lived in Iowa; Henry, a soldier in the Spanish American War, who moved to California; Levi, 1861-1929, who married Millie Edgerton of Creston, and lived in Louisiana and Oregon; Mary, who married Albert Thompson in 1877, and made their home in Eau Claire, Wis.; Helen, who wed L.S. Willing, and lived in Lowell; Alice, who married Cassius H. Scritchfield, son of Richard Scritchfield and Sarah Garrison Scritchfield. Cassius had two brothers: Logan, married to Hazel Smith of Crown Point, was a well known druggist in Lowell for many years after 1913; and Robert., who married Clara Nichols, sister of Hattie McNay.
"Cass" and Alice Spalding Scritchfield were the parents of Bessie Kenney, wife of Cordie Kenney of the Orchard Grove pioneer family.
Bessie Belle Scritchfield Kenney, now deceased, was well known in the area for her efforts in preserving the history of Lake County. She was recording secretary for the Lake County Historical Assn. and was on the editorial committee for the book "Historical Association of Lake County, Ind., Reports and Papers Volume XII," printed in 1970, which also included a fine poem, "Lake County," written by her.
She was the author of many interesting stories of the area.
Her two sons, Donald and Russell, still live on the farm in Orchard Grove, and her daughter, Bonnie, married to Wilbur Schwanke, lives in Lowell. Bonnie told us stories about some of the hard times on the farm, but was also happy to tell of the joyful times when Grandpa Cass would take them for a ride on the cutter or the bobsled.
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