Pioneer History by Richard C. Schmal

(from the October 28, 2003, Lowell Tribune, page 16)

Historical markers and memorial plaques are abundant in the Lowell area, marking important historical areas of our community and honoring the memory of our townspeople.

Because of his great interest in schools, a bronze marker honoring Melvin Halsted, Lowell’s founder, was placed on a boulder in front of the 1896 Lowell school building on Main Street. It reads: "Melvin Halsted -- Founder of Lowell Public Schools in 1862 -- Pioneer, Builder & Adventurer."

His good friend Jabez Clark was also honored on the same stone: "Jabez Clark -- A Public Benefactor who was the first Physician, Merchant, Justice of the Peace, School Director & earliest married settler in Cedar Creek Township."

The original markers, placed there by the Lake County Historical Society in 1925, disappeared in the 1970’s and were replaced by the Three Creeks Historical Association in cooperation with the Student Council of Lowell High School in August 2002, during the town’s sesquicentennial celebration.

Halsted’s brick home at the northeast corner of Main and Halsted Streets, has a plaque near the front entrance: "Home of Melvin Halsted, founder of Lowell, was built in 1849. His pit and kilns were located just across Cedar Creek. Acquired for the community through the combined efforts of interested citizens, area organizations and the Three Creeks Historical Assn. Inc., 1978."

A small brick in the flower garden at the house reads: "Lowell Garden Walk 2003."

In a far corner of the Halsted yard there is a plaque on a concrete slab: "Town of Lowell Sesquicentennial Time Capsule Buried August 23, 2002." The historic Halsted House, after four years of restoration and the collecting of period furniture and artifacts, was opened as a public museum that same month.

"A Tribute of the Three Creeks Townships" is written in stone on the north face of a huge, 25-foot veteran’s monument in Olde Towne Square Park. Built early in the 1900’s and honoring several hundred men and one woman who were involved in four wars of the 1800’s, the big stone was honored decades later with a bronze plaque: "Three Creeks Monument, dedicated 1905 in honor of those who served in the Civil, Mexican and Spanish-American Wars and the War of 1812 by the women of Tri-Creek. Lowell Women’s Club, 1972."

Printed in the park sidewalk: "USMCR -- Co. A -- 6th Eng." This is near the circular flower planter which once was the foundation for a 100-foot water tower, or "standpipe." The Marine Corps Engineers (Reserves) constructed sidewalks and a shuffle board area and aided in landscaping the park.

Nearby a plaque on the flag pole in front of the former Lowell Public Library building, now a realty office, reads: "Presented to the Town of Lowell by American Legion Post 101, dedicated to Americanism and the principals of good government."

The newest plaque at the former Senior Citizens Park, dedicated in June 2003, reads: "Celebrating his efforts in Chronicling our past, Olde Towne Square Park is dedicated, 2003, to Richard "Dick" Schmal, historian of the Town of Lowell."

The cornerstone on the northwest corner of the First United Methodist Church on East Commercial Avenue reads: "First Methodist Episcopal Church -- 1870-1924." Several trees near the church are also marked with memorial stones. The original 1870 brick church stood at the northwest corner of Burnham and Main Streets.

A small brass plaque on the flagpole in front of the Lowell Chamber of Commerce Office at the southwest corner of East Commercial Avenue and Fremont Street bears a tribute to Harrison Snell: "Since May, 1995, this flag has waved in memory of Harrison O. Snell -- Leader, Business man and friend to the community for over 37 years." A bronze marker on the front of the building recalls its history as: "Lowell Town Hall -- erected 1922."

Crossing Commercial Avenue (carefully), a stone marker can be seen on top of the lodge building: "Colfax Lodge -- A.F.-A.M. No. 378," while another one above the window reads: "G.W. Waters -- 1898." He owned the building and operated a drug store on the lower level in the early 1900’s.

The following is on the cornerstone of the 1896 Lowell School, still standing on Main Street: "Colfax Lodge No 378 -- A.L. 5896 - August 1st A.D. 1896."

When an addition to the 1914-15 Lowell High School (now Lowell Middle School) was started, a new cornerstone was placed at the northwest corner of the first gymnasium. On the north side of the stone are the words: "Grand Lodge -- F.and A.M., A.L. 5928, July 14, A.D. 1928." On the west side it reads: "Board of Education -- Merrit W. Kelsey, Harry P. Simms, A.E. Condon, W.H. Tatman, Builder." The words "Lowell School" are engraved in stone above both north entrances. At the flagpole in front of the present Lowell Town Hall (former Lowell Public Library) at Main and Fremont Streets, a plaque reads: "Presented to Lowell Public Library By American Legion Lowell Post 101 -- 1969."

A bronze plaque on the flagpole at the Lowell Public Library (built in 1993) on East Commercial Avenue reads: "Presented to the Lowell Public Library from the American Legion Post 101 & V.F.W. Memorial Post 6841." Near the flagpole is a bench "Donated by Smith Ford of Lowell, Ind." Many memorial bricks can be seen on the Library building and interesting informational plaques can be read in the vestibule. About 43 stone markers can be seen near trees on the Library’s Nature Trail. The markers show the names of the trees, the memorials and the donors.

At Legion Park, in fromt of American Legion Post 101, two plaques were installed near the three flagpoles: "This Park is the result of the cooperative efforts of American Legion Post 101, Lowell Town Council, Lake County Drainage Board, with special appreciation to Lake County Surveyor George Van Til, Dedicated June 14, 2002." The second plaque (for the flagpoles) reports: "Dedicated to the WW I Veterans who made the Post possible."

A memorial plaque on a large stone near the tennis courts at Liberty Park (at Main Street) reads: "In memory of Randall R. Ruge -- 1942-1975 -- Lowell Town Board of Trustees -- Served 1972-1976." A large stone marker on the north wall of Trinity Lutheran Church on West Commercial Avenue reads: "Trinity Lutheran Church -- 1949."

A stone plaque on the north wall of the bell tower at St. Edward Catholic Church notes: "1958 -- St. Edward’s Church, Most Rev. Andrew G. Grutka, D.D., Bishop of Gary, Rev. Chester P. Zurawiec, Pastor." This is the fourth church building for St. Edward parish; the first frame church was built in 1870 on Burnham Street.

On the north facade of the Church of Christ on Burr and Harrison Streets, a plaque reads: "Lowell Church of Christ, 1978, Founded 1842." Their first building in Lowell was on Castle Street, near Commercial Avenue, erected in 1870.

One of the newest plaques is near the front door of The Vault antique shop in downtown Lowell: "Original location of Lowell National Bank, which opened May 15, 1903, and remained here until June 28, 1958." It was placed there in June 2003. The word "Bank" can still be seen in stone high on the tall facade.

Near the ornamental clock which stands in front of the Lowell Fire Station, a plaque reads: "December, 2001, this clock is a gift of the Town of Lowell from the Lowell Garden Club." Many bricks with names of organizations, businesses and individuals are near the well-landscaped base of the clock, where another marker reads: "These bricks each represent those who showed their love, dedication and support with this project and helped to see it completed."

At the Lowell Memorial Cemetery, near the north lane, a lone stone stands by an entrance: "This tablet has been erected to commemorate the rehabilitation of this cemetery -- Paul Hathaway, Thomas Grant, Phillip McNay." No date is shown, but the Old Timer thinks that the stone was placed before 1940 and that the three men were on the Cemetery Board. (Thomas Grant died in 1943.)

In West Creek Township, on 205th Avenue, east of US 41, an old marker at Sander’s Cemetery reads: "William Sanders, Emma Harris Sanders, Pioneers who settled this section, built the first school and deeded the cemetery to the Township. Centennial Memorial -- 1841-1941 erected by the Sanders Clan." This was the area called "Pine Grove."

A large boulder holds a bronze plaque at the entrance of the barnyard of the Buckley Homestead County Park. It reads: "A living park donated to the citizens of Lake County in memory of Dennis Buckley and his son, John, from Cork County, Ireland. Given to the Northwest Indiana Natural and Human Resource Foundation by great-grand daughter Rose Buckley Pearce. December 30, 1977." The Buckley family came to the area in 1849.

On another large stone near the driveway to a farm house at Buckley Homestead County Park on SR 2 there is another memorial plaque: "In memory of Jennie Fuller Dickinson, husband Warren Dickinson, former owners, and daughters Gertrude Dickinson Pearce and Neva Dickinson Dumond. The moneys given by Rose B. Pearce, the widow of the late J. Murray Pearce."

In 1988 a new veteran’s monument was erected near Lowell Memorial Cemetery on East Commercial Avenue. Five large granite stones were placed on a neatly landscaped concrete platform, with three tall flagpoles on a rise to the north. The words on the center stone read: "Dedicated to the men and women who served in our armed forces and those who have given their lives for our country by citizens of West, Cedar and Eagle Creek Townships, dedicated May 1, 1988." Four stones honor the area dead from World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts. Two large stone benches honor family heroes. North of the 1988 monument complex stands a large stone dedicated by the Mothers of World War II, to the dead of World War II (east side), and the Korean Conflict and all future wars (west side).

A monument and flagpole stand on the north side of Evergreen Park on East Commercial Avenue, and a plaque on the ornate stones reads: "Operation Desert Storm, in recognition of those from Tri-Creek who served with honor and pride. Presented by Tri-Creek-Cedar Lake Desert Storm Group." Thirty-six names are listed on the bronze plaque.

The Old Timer has not recognized all of the area’s historical markers and memorials, and asks readers to call 696-9234 to let him know about those that he has missed, so they can be added to another story.

Last updated on September 10, 2008.

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