Melvin Halsted, founder of Lowell, wrote the following in his autobiography in 1900: "Lowell was surrounded by good farmers and good land. The mills [saw mill and grist mill] caused Lowell to begin to settle. In 1852, the first brick school house was erected. It was 20' by 30' and stood where Hago Carstens' harness shop is now."
Hago Carstens' shop was in a square front two-story frame building with a balcony on the facade. It stood east of the present Davis Store in downtown Lowell.
Another story about the old downtown school was included in the "History of Lowell, 1896" written by H.H. Ragon, publisher of The Lowell Tribune. It was found in the cornerstone of the 1896 school building (still standing but no longer used as a school) on Main Street in Lowell.
Mr. Ragon wrote: "The first school house within the present limits was erected on the south side of what is now Commercial Ave., about 20 rods [330 feet] west of the public square [Olde Towne Square Park]." Halsted was contractor and builder of the structure, which was 20-by-30-foot and two stories high.
Previous to the building of this house, pupils from the area attended school in a log house on what is now the property of Capt. Manning.
In 1867 the capacity of this little brick school house was outgrown, and it became necessary to build larger.
It was replaced with a larger, two story building on the Main Street site in 1867. The 1867 school was torn down and the larger, 1896 building was erected on the same site on Main Street.
Another story about the 1852 school appeared in the August 2, 1928, Lowell Tribune, written by Cecil A. Grayson, well-known Lake County educator and superintendent of Lake County Schools. He was principal of Lowell High School when the Old Timer was a freshman, 1930-31.
He wrote: "The first log school building in Lowell was located in the old town near the present site of the Clark Monument Works, east of the cemetery. But when Melvin A. Halsted, who is regarded as the 'Father of Lowell,' began the new town on Cedar Creek, he built a one-room brick schoolhouse on Lot #1 of Clark's Addition to the Town of Lowell."
Soon this building proved inadequate and a frame house was used as an annex. During the 1860's the overflow of the school was cared for in the upper hall of the Mee Hotel. The upper floor of this hotel was a large hall in which school was held by day and dances by night.
The Mee Hotel was located on the site of the Mrs. L. Davis residence, which is now (1928) the home of Dr. and Mrs. G.W. Bardens. The hotel was later destroyed by fire.
Clark Brothers Monument Company was across the highway from the present Evergreen Park, and their old office building still stands. The area may have been the property of the "Capt. Manning" mentioned. According to an old real estate map, Lot #1 of Clark's Addition was about 330 feet west of the square.
The Mee Hotel was across Commercial Avenue from the present First United Methodist Church. Dr. John Bardens, who lived on the site as a small boy, told the Old Timer that his family lived in the frame home just east of the present apartment building and that he remembered the Mee family living in the house to the east of the Bardens' home in the early 1930's. The Mee home was built after their hotel burned.
Rev. Timothy Ball, pioneer historian, wrote the following weather report in his book Northwest Indiana, 1900: "Lake County has a weather record kept with more or less fullness of detail from 1835 up to 1900. Whether it will be continued after 1900 ends is uncertain."
There is no doubt that the farmers and business men kept their weather journals after 1900, but only bad storms were mentioned, with temperatures written in Ball's publications after 1900.
"January and February, 1900, were pleasant winter months, although the temperature fell to six below zero on January 31; Down to 8 below on Feb. 1st, then light snow and rain; on Feb. 24 it was zero at 9 am, with four degrees below at night; Feb. 25, zero; Feb. 27, snow commenced at night, continued all day on 28th, but quite mild, a pleasant snow, but heavy, about 16 inches in depth, but drifted.
"March 1, 28 degrees, 18 on the 5th, sleet falling all day, only a few inches; -- March 6, 34 degrees in the afternoon, snowy, the short thaw of the 4th at 36 degrees now over.
"The ice harvests for this past winter were three. The first came about the last of December, the second in the middle of January, the third about the last of February. Each lasted from one to three weeks, the ice clean and nice, from 8 to 12 inches in thickness.
April 6, summer heat 80 degrees at 3 pm; 9, 10, 11 of April were cool; April 12, 2 to 3 inches of snow, but wild flowers were blooming by the 26th of April; 80 degrees again on the 28th of April.
"Children were barefooted on the 2nd of May, in general a warm and growing month; 90 degrees at noon of the 27th.
"During June rain was quite frequent -- strawberries ripe on June 2, raspberries June 27, 28, 29; June 30, cool wind all day, strawberries gone; Rain at night on July 2, July 3d [was] a very hot night, 80 degrees in the mornings of July 4,5,6; showers and 76 degrees on July 7th, with showers at night...on July 11 very cool wind in afternoon; rain and showers from 15th to 17th; 70 degrees July 19th and 20th in am; 56 degrees on July 21st; a growing, pleasant summer.
"On Monday, July 16, 1900, the hay barn of John Pearce struck by lightning and burned; -- also H. [Hugh?] Boyd's hay stack."
Weather reports in the pioneer days and later were kept in journals written by Crown Point pioneer Solon Robinson, Rev. H. Wason of the Lake Prairie community, and by Rev. T.H. Ball and members of his family from Cedar Lake and Crown Point.
"Pioneer History" has been featured in the Lowell Tribune and the Cedar Lake Journal for 21 years.
Return to Lowell History
Return to the "Pioneer History" A to Z Index Page