The knowledge and ambition of Pioneer Benjamin McCarty influenced many communities in the early days of LaPorte, Lake and Porter Counties of Indiana. The Honorable Judge Benjamin McCarty Jr. was born in 1796 in Franklin County, Ind., the son of Benjamin McCarty Sr., who also served as a judge in his home county.
Before 1832, Benjamin and his wife, Deida Young McCarty, traveled by oxen from his father's home south of Richmond, Ind., and came to LaPorte County in the northern part of the state. Both Ben and Deida were well-educated and became community leaders wherever they settled. When LaPorte County was organized in 1832, Ben served as acting sheriff, and was soon elected Probate Judge.
When the United States Government opened the sale of land in Porter County in 1834, Benjamin purchased a land grant on section 22 on the old Joliet Rd., which is now the Old Lincoln Highway. That same year he laid out the town of Porterville, which is now a part of the city of Valparaiso, where he served as Postmaster from 1836 to 1839. He made sure that his quarter section of land was near the geographical center of the new county, and he used his influence in placing the county seat on his land.
Looking for a new challenge, Benjamin became interested in forming another new county, that of Lake. The early settlers of Lake County were trying to decide where their county courthouse would be located. Some were favoring Liverpool, while others wanted Crown Point.
McCarty purchased the claim of Dr. Calvin Lilley on the east side of the Lake of the Red Cedars; the land included a store and an inn. He moved his family to the new claim, built a comfortable home, laid out a town he called 'West Point," and worked hard for it to become the new county seat of Lake County. He offered some valuable tracts of land and money to secure it.
But Crown Point was chosen instead, probably because the little village of the Lake of the Red Cedars was not near the center of the county, and because of the powerful influence of Pioneers Solon Robinson and William Clark of Crown Point. Dr. Lilley at that time was busy extending his claim to the south, near the outlet of the lake.
When they moved to the Lake of the Red Cedars in 1839, Ben and Deida brought with them their two daughters, Hannah and Candace, and six sons, Enoch Smiley, William Pleasant, Miles Franklin, Fayette Asbury, Morgan and Jonathan. The older children were young men and women, more cultivated and educated than most. They received excellent home training from their parents, who spared no expense or effort which contributed to a better way of life for their children, who had the best of clothing and manners. They brought fine riding horses and expensive saddles with them.
The family was said to be an asset to their community and county. Deida and her family ran the inn for several years, and worked hard to make it a popular place. They took part in the social life of the pioneers, and enjoyed horseback riding, racing, boating, fishing and bobsled riding. Many times the early Cedar Lake Baptist Church services were held in their home.
Provoked over the loss of the county seat at his village of West Point, the judge, a quick tempered Irishman, quickly abandoned his land, sold the property, and bought a farm one-half mile south of Tinkerville now, Creston. This property in later years was the Hamman Farm. He constructed a grist mill on Cedar Creek, then a part of the Pleasant Grove Community and currently the site of Lake Dalecarlia.
Deida continued to make their home life a pleasant one and her quiet, even temper helped to balance the judge's fiery, quick one. She died on the farm Mar. 28, 1848, at the age of 52, and was buried in the little McCarty Cemetery which was west of the farm house, but has since disappeared.
In 1854, Benjamin sold his grist mill to the father of Henry Carsten, and traveled to Iowa with his son William P. It is believed that they later went to Oregon. William's wife, Sarah, died at the age of 24 in 1853, and their two children Mary and Charles, passed away before her. All were buried in that same family plot on the farm. Sarah was the daughter of Rev. G. Taylor of Pleasant Grove.
Hannah, one of the daughters of Pioneer McCarty and his wife Deida, married Israel Taylor, son of Adonijah Taylor. Their other daughter, Candace, married George Belshaw and settled in Oregon.
Enoch Smiley McCarty, one of the six sons of Ben and Deida, married a woman from White Post, according to an old history.
His brother, Fayette Asbury McCarty, saddened by the death of his fiancee at the hands of Indians, traveled over most of the south and the west. He probably eventually traveled to Oregon, where other family members were settling, including his brothers Morgan and Jonathan. At some time during their stay in Lake County, two of the brothers were teachers.
Another brother, Miles Franklin McCarty, usually known as Franklin, was married to Catherine Scritchfield, daughter of Esther Ann and Hiram Scritchfield, who were originally from Kentucky and became early settlers of Lake County in 1852. Miles and his family lived at Tinkerville, where they built their home in the 1850's.
In 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, Miles enlisted in the 12th Indiana Cavalry, and was a member of Company G. He was critically wounded in battle, and died at Nashville in 1864. (His wife, Catherine, later married Hamlet Snell; she died in 1913.) Miles and Catherine's children were Henry C., William, Anna, Sophrona, and Lincoln. Henry married Catherine Claussen of Crown Point, and their children were: Ernest Buckley McCarty of Lowell; Minnie and Ruby who were teachers and lived at Crown Point; Ray of Kansas; Blanche, who married Fred Schlink and lives east of Cedar Lake; Earl of Crown Point; Verna Phillip of Florida; Sylvia Robinson; and Virgil, who lived in Chicago, Ill.
William, another son of Miles and Catherine McCarty, was born in 1858, and died in 1915. He was well-known in the Lowell area. He married Eenice (Uenice) Wheeler, and their children were: Raymond, Fremond, and Beth (Wesley) Blanchard, and two more who probably died at an early age.
Fremond and Raymond, grandsons of Miles and Catherine McCarty, were well known barbers in Lowell for many years. Fremond was recognized as one of Lowell's oldest business men, both in service and age. He was born in 1899 on Burnham St. in Lowell, but remembered most of his childhood at the family home on North Nichols St., just south of Ruim Equipment Co., and almost across the street from the old Blanchard home in the woods.
He served as an apprentice with O.A. Lloyd, and soon his brother, Raymond, joined him. They opened up their own barber shop, Raymond staying with his brother until 1934, when they operated separate shops. Fremond was a collector of Indian relics and antique barber tools, some going back to colonial times. He married Margaret Fisher, and their daughters are Charlotte Seramur of Lowell and Kathleen Johnson of Michigan. The children of the Wesley Blanchard's are Halley, Beth and Janice.
Anna, daughter of Miles and Catherine, first married Cassius Taylor, and sometime after his death, married Clinton Hill. She had one son, Harry Taylor.
Her sister, Sophrona, did not marry, and her brother, Lincoln, died while very young.
The following is a quote form an old issue of the Lowell Tribune: "Descendents of the grand old Judge and Deida are the kind of folks who populate southern Lake County and make it the ideal democratic American Community."
Other family members buried in the little family cemetery on the old McCarty farm were: Emily Young, daughter of James M., son of James and Sally, who died in 1853, at age one and a half years; and Sally Young, wife of James, who died in 1854, at age 35. Young was the family name of Deida, the pioneer, and it is probable that the older James was her brother.