(This is the second half of The History of Lowell from its beginning to 1896, penned by H.H. Ragon, founder of The Lowell Tribune, for the cornerstone of the first Lowell High School on Main St. Unearthed when the cornerstone was opened in 1986, the original manuscript was pieced together from decaying pages by local historian Richard C. Schmal, our columnist, whose comments clarifying Ragon's narrative are included in italics. The first half of the story appeared as Schmal's December column.)
On Jan. 11, 1866, Lodge No. 245 IOOF was organized. The petitioners for a charter were H.P. Robbins, Henry Sanger, George Death, G.F. Sutton, John M. Scott, and (unintelligible). The first officers were J.M. Death, G.F. Sutton, John M. Scott, H. Sanger and G.M. Death. Present officers are J.H. Morriss, Marian Emerson, Allen Gregg [Gragg], George Wilson. Present (1896) number of members 53.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a benevolent and fraternal order formed early in Lowell's history, was established in England during the 18th century and began in the United States in 1819. The organization is no longer active in the Lowell community, but many of the local members have transferred to Shelby Lodge No. 742.
A dispensation was granted by the Most-Worshipful Grand Lodge of Indiana to Colfax Lodge No. 378 of Lowell in March, 1866, and on May 27, 1868, the lodge was fully organized with the following officers: J.A. Clark, WM; J.N. Moore, SW; C.M. Blachley, JW. Present officers are J.A. Clark, WM; G.W. Lawrence, SW; Albert Foster, JW; Wm. Kobelin, Treas.; J.F. Love, Secretary; E.A. Clark, SD; ____ W. Smith, Tyler. Members at this time, 60. Very hard to read last few lines.
Colfax Lodge No. 378 first met on the third floor of a large building that stood ont he corner of Clark St. and Commercial Ave. in downtown Lowell. The big fire of 1898 destroyed their clubrooms there, and within the year the lodge occupied the second story of the newly-constructed George Water's building, which is now owned by the order and has been remodeled.
A lodge of Knights of Columbia was organized July 15, 1896 _____ With the following officers: H.C. Taylor, Past Sir Knight Counselor; Henry Worley, Sir Knight Counselor; P.A. Berg, Sir Knight Sergeant; J.A. Dinwiddie, Sir Knight Scribe; E.E. Knight, Sir Knight Cashier; E. Ragon, 1st Guard; Joe Buckley, 2nd Guard.
The Kinghts of Columbia existed in Lowell for a time and were not "Knights of Columbus."
A Daughters of Rebecca Lodge was organized in 1867, but after running a number of years, was disbanded. It was re-organized in the winter of 1895. The first officers were Mrs. Wheeler Wood, WG; Mrs. Clement, VG; Nola Carstens, Rec. Sec.; Bertha Brannon, Sec.; Mrs. Gregg [Gragg], Treas.; Libby Harrison, Chaplain. The following are the present officers: Sarah Gregg [Gragg], Isadora Gregg [Gragg], T. Powell, Jennie Ault, Abigail Powell, Aola Askins, and H. Clement.
Burnham Post GAR No. 376 was organized Dec. 2, 1883, with a charter membership of 53. The first officers were H.H. Ragon, Post Commander; G.S. Clark, Senior Vice Commander; M. Boney, Junior Vice Commander; E.R. Bacon, Surgeon; J.A. Clark, O.D.; C. Chaffee, Chaplain; Waters, Adj.; M. Yates. The present officers are J. Spalding, Post Commander; C.A. Brownell, Senior Vice Commander; Dan Lynch, Junior Vice Commander; Fred Castle, Surgeon; H.H. Purdy, O.D.; C.E. Ketchum, Chaplain; J.M. Dwyer, Q.M.; R.W. Bacon, Adj.; Perry Nichols, G; Leslie Gregg [Gragg], S.M.; George Clark, S.M.S. -- Present memberhip -- 68.
Burnham Post No 376, the Grand Army of the Republic, was the veterans organization following the Civil War. H.H. Ragon, founder of the "Lowell Tribune," was the first commander and was very active in the group through the years.
The Order of the Eastern Star, the P.O., S of V, IOGT (Templars), and the Sons of Temperance are orders that once existed here, but have been disbanded.
The order of the Eastern Star was soon in existence again and is still active at Lowell.
The Independent Order of Foresters of America in Lowell, Court No. 13, was organized May 26, 1892. The following were the first officers: Chief Ranger was Dr. Petry, Vice Chief Ranger was H.C. Taylor, Fin. Sec. was George Fisher, Recording Sec. was H.J. Massoth, Treasurer was Louis Berg, Senior Warden was Milo Brannon, Jr. Warden was ____ Henry, Sr. B. was A. Webb, Jr. B. was J. Schaller, Chaplain was John Klein, Marshal was John Fisher. The present officers are H.D. Fuller, J.C. Palmer, Ed Buckley, Hago Carstens, Niles Clement, Elsworth Brown, Peter Berleen, Albert Davis, and Dr. E.R. Bacon. Number of members 36.
The Rathbone Sisters Auxiliary of the K of P was organized here Apr. 1, 1896, with the following officers: Past Chief Mary Maxwell, Most Excellent Chief Sylvia Bacon Dwyer, Most Excellent Vice Chief Kate Handley, Most Excellent Jr. Vice Chief Rhoda Kenney, Manager of Temple Jennie Hull, Mistress of Records & Correspondence Mary Bixeman, Mistress of Finance Mary McNay, Inner Guard Theresa Hogan, Outside Guard Martha Bacon.
The Knights of Pythias Club Rooms were above the present radio station on Commercial Ave. downtown after the 1898 fire.
A petition by the qualified voters of Lowell was presented to the Board of Commissioners of Lake County at their June meeting in 1868, praying for an order to determine the wishes of the people of Lowell regarding the incorporation of the town. The prayer was heard and granted, and an election was held, resulting in incorporation. At the September 1868 term of the commissioners court, an order was made incorporating the territory as set forth in the petition. Viz, The south half of Section 23, Town 33, Range 9 West Made in the name of Lowell. The First Election of officers was held Sept, 26, 1868, when the following persons were chosen trustees -- L.H. Westerman, P.A. McNay, and John Lynch. Clerk, Assessor, and Treasurer was Daniel Fry. Marshall was Cornelius Blachley. A bond of $100 was required of the Marshal, and $300 of the Treasurer. The present town officers are J. Clark, Martin Driscoll and P.D. Clark. Clerk-Treasurer -- Hiram Haskin; and the Marshal, C.C. Pattee. The two last named officers were required to give a bond of $3,000. The salary of the trustees and the clerk is $50 per year. The Marshal is paid $30 per month.
Ragon wrote a very interesting account of the incorporation of our town and of the wages paid to officers and employees.
Up to Apr. 1, 1884, the Township Trustees controlled the schools of Lowell, but at that date the town was separated from the township for school purposes. The first Board of School Trustees was composed of the following gentlemen: John E. Davis, P.D. Clark, and (blank). The following compose the present board: George W. Waters, E.R. Bacon, and W.L. Handley.
When the first School Board was elected in 1884, there was a smaller school house on the same lot as the present old school house on Main St. The smaller brick building held both grade and three-year high schools. In 1896 the present building was erected on Main St., and the high school was extended to four years. The first high school graduates in 1890 were Albert Post, Urvie Spindler, Achilles Davis, Ruth Bacon, Etta Clark, Maud Sherard, and Lottie Field. Almost all came from pioneer families.
Daily mail delivery from Crown Point to Lowell was established in 1864. We now have mail four times a day each way on our railway and a daily mail to Orchard Grove.
That daily mail from Crown Point to Lowell was delivered by stagecoach, driven by John Wilkinson, son of 1834 pioneer Judge Robert Wilkinson of West Creek. The Orchard Grove post office was at the general store founded by Jeremiah Kenney in 1872, located at the corner of the east junction of State Rd. 2 and 55.
The valuation of taxable property of Lowell (1896), real and personal, including rails and telegraph, is $238,000. The Monon was built in the summer of 1880 and the winter of 1881. The first regular train began running Apr. 9, 1881.
It is interesting to note that the assessed valuation of Lowell's taxable real property is now nearly nineteen million dollars. The railroad through Lowell caused a big change in the business life of the town, since businesses moved closer to the tracks, and mills, etc. were erected.
The Commercial Bank was organized in December 1888 with R.S. Dwiggins as President and Jay Dwiggins as Cashier. This Bank failed Apr. 9, 1893. It paid its creditors in full. The State Bank of Lowell was organized June 5, 1893, with a paid-up capital of $25,000. John Lynch is President and F.E. Nelson, Cashier.
The two banks mentioned were in the building that is still standing just to the west of the present police station. The word "Bank" is still visible high on the structure.
The first newspaper in our town was the Lowell Star. Its first appearance was in 1872, and in 1877 it was moved to Crown Point, Ind. The Star was followed by the Enterprise, published by _____. In 1880 W.H. Mansfield started the Lowell Local News. This moved to 'Nebr' in May 1885. [There was a mention of a Temperance paper, could be the "Tucsin"] The publication of The Lowell Tribune was begun in May 1884. It was printed in Hammond by the Tribune printing company. M.C. Vosburg was its first editor. In May 1885 H.H. Ragon became the Editor and the paper was published under the firm name of Winslow and Ragon. In January 1892, H.H. Ragon and Son became owners and publishers of the Tribune. The first paper prionted in Lowell by this new firm was printed Jan. 14, 1892. In September 1892, H.H. Ragon sold his interest to son E.E. Ragon, who still continues (1896) the publication. Circulation 600.
The "Lowell Enterprise" was published by Rae and Hewgill. The circulation of the Lowell Tribune is now 4,300. This section of the history was pieced together in bits and pieces and was very difficult to read.
Three general stores ----- Three hardware stores, two drug stores, one tin shop, one clothing store, one tailor shop, three hotels, ---- brick and tile making factory - manufactories - four saloons, one bakery - six implement shops - two meat markets, three livery and feed stables - Blacksmith shops [could be three] One bank, two barber shops, one newspaper and job office, one shoe shop, one furniture and undertaking establishment, one creamery, four painters, ten carpenters, six dress makers, five physicians, two attorneys, and one coal dealer. ----- The total cost of the new school house will be $15,000. Jonah Thorn kept the first hotel in Lowell. The first Postmaster was Dr. Hunt -- The present (1896), Louis Berg. Population of Lowell in 1880 was 458. In 1890, 758. At the last municipal election of May 1896, there were 275 votes counted, which put the population close to 1,500.
If Mr. Ragon wrote more in this story, we do not know, for this is the last page we could find.
This hard to read last paragraph was torn and decayed, but showed about seventy business places in Lowell in 1896, with many changes down through the years.
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