In his book, Reports for the Historical Secretary of the Old Settler and Historical Association of Lake County, Indiana, from 1901 to 1905, Rev. Timothy H. Ball, pioneer hisortian wrote: "Quite an interest in the schools was awakened in the winter and springtime of this year , in writing histories of the different townships to be sent to Indianapolis and then to St. Louis [1904 World's Fair] for exhibition there in the display of school work from Indiana."
Only one of the histories written by eighth grade students was selected in each township, the final decision made solely on the grounds of historical merit.
Rev. Ball wrote, "As our Association is interested in encouraging young writers of history in our country, I do not hesitate to insert here one of those township histories."
West Creek Township
By Ethel M. Hathaway
West Creek Township is in the southwest part of Lake County, its average size being twelve miles long and five miles wide. It was divided from South Township and made a separate township in 1839, and its name was taken from the creek which flows through it, being called West Creek because it is the farthest west of the three creeks flowing through the south part of Lake County.
There was much more prairie than timber. The timber lands were found along West Creek and south of the State Road [Belshaw road], while north of this road and extending beyond the northern boundary of the township, the land was one large prairie, known as Lake Prairie. The first settlers did not make any roads, but went anywhere through the prairie and timber lands. The wild animals were very numerous, there being deer, wolves, rattlesnakes and other reptiles, and many other small fur- bearing animals. The deer were easily killed, Robert Wilkinson going out one morning and killing ten.
There were a few Indians, the Pottawatomies, in the township. A treaty was made with them in 1832, and when the first settlers came there were not many left.
Some of the first settlers in the township were: Robert Wilkinson, 1836; Nehemiah Hayden, 1837; H.M. Spaulding, 1838; Bethuel Hathaway, 1939; Wellington Clark, 1839; and Peter D. Hathaway, 1939, all of whom settled near West Creek. Also William Sanders, 1841, and David Pulver, 1842, who settled near the Sander's cemetery.
Their first occupations were hunting and trapping, but they soon turned their attention to farming, having to go as far as Chicago for their supplies.
In the northwest part of the township were Charles Marvin, 1936; the Fullers, 1849, and Knisleys, 1852. In the northeast part were the Taylor's and Palmer's. In the east and central parts were John Wheeler, a surveyor, 1847; Brannon's, 1944; Burhan's, 1853; and Belshaw's, 1842. Later, in 1856 and '57, a number of families from New Hampshire settled on Lake Prairie, among whom were the Little's, Ame's, Wason's, Gerrish's, Morey's, and Plummer's.
Methodist services were held as early as 1840 in private homes, and the first church, a frame, was built in 1844, a little north of the State road and east of the creek. This church stood until 1869, when it was replaced by a new one. Among the first members of this church were: John Kitchel and wife, Peter D. Hathaway and wife, Mrs. Nehemiah Hayden, and Mrs. Spaulding.
The second church was built by the German Methodists in the northern part of the township in 1855. In 1857, Lake Prairie Presbyterian Church was organized by the people of the New Hampshire settlement, with Rev. H. Wason for pastor. Their church was not built until several years later. In 1895, a Christian church was built near the Sander's burial ground.
The first school house was built of logs in 1838, near Torrey Bridge, by the people who lived near there. There were benches for the children to sit on and a long board in front for them to write on. This school house stood for 10 years and then the school was held in private houses.
The first teachers received one dollar per week and had to board around with the patrons of the school. The second school house was built in the Clark Grove, northwest from the place where the present  West Creek school stands.
The first bridge over West Creek was built by N. Hayden at a cost of $400, and was west from the place where the Lake Prairie church now stands. It was called the Torrey bridge, the name being the name of a man who lived near the bridge. At that time there were only two or three little traveled roads, but new ones have been built as they were needed, and at the present  time there are roads in all parts of the township.
When the early settlers came, the southern part of the township, a strip of land four or five miles in width and extending across the township north of the Kankakee River, was all swamp.
There were no roads across this land, and it could only be crossed in very dry weather, or in the winter when the ground was frozen. Much hunting and trapping were done on this marsh, and the farmers from the prairie got nearly all their wood from this place, hauling it when the ground was frozen.
About 1868, a road was built running from east to west on a ridge just north of the river, and about ten years later another road was built, running north and south and connecting the first with the road on the higher land. Now there are many roads crossing the marsh; ditches have been dug, and land drained generally so that most of it can be cultivated, and especially in dry years, big crops of corn are raised.
Hiram Wason, Samuel Ames and Joseph Little have been representatives in the State Legislature.
At the present time , West Creek is one of the best townships in the country, farming being the only occupation. All parts are quite thickly settled, the northwestern part being occupied chiefly by Germans. Excepting for a year or two there never has been a saloon in the township.
August, 1904 -- Ethel M. Hathaway
Ethel Mary Hathaway (1890-1942) was born at Lake Prairie, West Creek Township, daughter of Henry and Jane (Maxwell) Hathaway. In 1914 she married Henry Boyd Wason, well-known West Creek Township farmer and Lowell business man. The Wason family history book, a well-written hard cover, is available for viewing at the Lowell Public Library.
The Wason story, with many other stories about West Creek Township, can
be found on "The Pioneer History" pages at the Lowell Public Library web
Go to "Judge Pinkerton Speaking on the History of West Creek Township" for further information.
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