The Old Settlers Assn. of Lake County, forerunner of the Lake County Historical Society, celebrated 50 years of settlement in Lake County in 1884. Pioneer historian Rev. Timothy H. Ball wrote a book that year and included many stories about the anniversary. The book, Lake County, Indiana, 1884, also featured stories about the early communities, and their progress.
Rev. Ball wrote: "On Wed., Sept. 3 , the morning dawned as pleasantly as could be desired. At sunrise the town bells were rung and the stars and stripes were unfurled to the breeze on top of the court house [Crown Point]. The people from town and country began to gather at the Fair Ground. A fresh breeze sprang up which made speaking in the open air more difficult; but which sent the waters in the little Lake [Fancher] dancing in the bright sunshine."
The meeting began about 10:30 a.m. with the Hon. Bartlett Woods presiding. Prayer was offered by Rev. Ball, as the acting chaplain; then the whole assembly joined in singing Dr. Smith's beautiful hymn "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Words of greeting and welcome were given by the president, and letters from invited guests were read.
Among the letters read from those who were sorry they could not attend was one from Schuyler Colfax (1823-85), who was vice president of the United States from 1869 to 1873, during the first administration of President Ulysses Grant. He wrote from South Bend on Sept. 1, 1884: "From 1851, when I first visited Lake County, I have never driven across its prairies, or enjoyed the hospitality of its homes, without feeling that nowhere had I better or warmer or truer friends than within its borders."
At 11:30 a.m. Rev. Ball talked for over an hour about the history of the county, telling pioneer stories from 1834 to 1884 and describing the beauty of the area. His speech is spread over 25 pages in his 1884 book.
After Rev. Ball's lengthy talk, a paper was read by Mrs. S.G. Wood, who told about"Methodist History" with interesting stories which are printed on about a dozen pages in the book.
Then came Congressman T.J. Wood, who talked about his memories through the 50 years, his speech taking six pages in Rev. Ball's book.
Rev. Ball then read a lengthy semi-centennial poem.
After that, a fine picnic meal was enjoyed by the "Pioneers" and the "Early Settlers." It had been decided that a "pioneer" was a person who was in Lake County from 1834 to 1844, and the "old settlers" were those who lived here for at least 25 years before 1884. Different colored ribbons were used to identify the two.
At a stand in the grove, the song "The Family Bible that Lay on the Stand" was sung by Jacob Wise, who was assisted by George Krinbill, both early settlers.
The president of the association, Barlett Woods, talked for about a half hour on the subject, "The Pioneer Settlers, Their Homes and Habits," followed by a shorter talk by Amos Horner, Esq., of Ross.
One of the highlights of the meeting was a fine display of artifacts. Rev. Ball explained: "One object was to show to the present generation some of the customs, styles and proofs of cultivation of the former generations who have now passed away. The cultivation of some love and even veneration for the past many consider desirable for every truly refined and noble nature."
Among the relics shown were many form the old historian's own collection, like a pocket comb made of horn in a horn case marked "T.H." and dated 1786. The initials were those of his grandfather Timothy Horton. Also, a copy of the Boston Primer, well used and dated 1809; a child's book, The Seven Wonders of the World, circa 1810; a small pocket almanac from 1834; a copy of the first map of Lake County, drawn by Solon Robinson in 1836 (Robinson was the founder of Crown Point); a rifle made at the Springfield Armony in Massachusetts and brought to Cedar Lake in 1838 by H.H. Horton, Rev. Ball's uncle; part of a large elk horn form the West Creek low land on the farm of Joshua P. Spalding; an Alabama wildcat skin; a military plume of red feathers, then 75 years old; the remains of a man exhumed at Cedar Lake on Oct. 6, 1880, after being buried for about 200 years.
Items shown by Lewis G. Little included an old book printed in London in 1650, owned by Mrs. M.G. Little; two old papers, 1776 and 1815; a warming pan that was about a hundred years old; some ox shoes; very old iron-rimmed spectacles; a pair of velvet breeches lined with buckskin which belonged to the great grandfather of Jesse Little of West Creek Twp. (The Old Timer had the privilege of seeing these a few years ago); a wooden cup made from the old elm tree which stood near the well and door of Daniel Webster, dated 1782; a gun, six-and-a-half feet long; a large elk horn found a year ago (1883) on the farm of August Miller of West Creek Twp.; and an old Indian pipe and whistle.
E.P. Ames presented a sundial brought from Salisbury, England, in 1649; Mrs. Betsey R. Abbott Wason brought a pewter platter which was part of the wedding present, owned by her grandmother, Phebe Ballard Abbott, who was married Nov. 12, 1772, along with a very old silver spoon.
Artifacts brought by Mrs. J. Fisher included a heart-shaped snuff box which came from Scotland, having been in the Brown and Fisher families for over 200 years.
Mrs. M.J. Hyde presented a very fine powder horn made from the horn of a wild ox and brought into this area in 1844 as well as a cane made by Daniel T. Stichelman from a piece of timber taken from the U.S. Steamer Edith, said to be the first propeller boat built for the government and wrecked in 1848.
J.P. Spalding brought a very old bevel which belonged to the Farley family at one time and also a lumberman's rule, of black walnut, two feet long, an inch in diameter with eight sides, used to calculate lumber, once owned by Heman Spalding, his grandfather.
Before the close of the celebration, rain dampened the proceedings, and the meeting closed informally. Rev. Ball said, "It was certainly a fair success; and those who may live to see the close of the second fifty years of our settlement and growth can compare notes, and form estimates, and judge of interest, as they review these records of this reunion."
Return to Lowell History
Return to the "Pioneer History" A to Z Index Page