Solon Robinson, (1803-1880), founder of the City of Crown Point (his name already appears in about forty of the Pioneer History columns), brought his family from the eastern states to settle for a short time in southern Indiana. After parts of the crude north-south "Michigan Road" were constructed (part of it is now US 31), his three wagons left the area of Madison, Indiana . After the long trip through the forests, Robinson was in awe when he saw the prairie for the first time. As they emerged from the Deep River trees, the whole party was amazed to see the beauty of the "Grand Prairie." They traveled toward a large grove of trees, where they decided to mark a claim on land that is now Crown Point, where he became a large land holder and business man, wrote many stories, and was instrumental in having Crown Point as the county seat. Dozens of his writings at Crown Point from 1846 to 1851 were printed in some of the later history books and included in the Indiana Historical Collections, Volume XXII, published by the Indiana State Department of Education, 1936, in 21 chapters and over 500 pages. His many newspaper articles and books appeared after his adventurous spirit urged him to leave his family after a few years in Indiana. Off he went for New York state, where he wrote many columns about agriculture in the Albany newspaper, and in 1853 a column about life on the streets of New York City that became so popular that the stories were printed in a large volume called Hot Corn, which included tales of "Little Kattie," "Madalina, the Rag Picker's Daughter" and "Wild Maggie." Hot Corn went very fast, with over 50,000 copies sold!
Another large book, authored by Robinson that had a big circulation all over the country, was an agricultural encyclopedia with the title of Facts for Farmers. Solon traveled across the country to sell his books After his success in the eastern states he moved to Florida where he continued his writing. He was buried in Florida, though his body was moved and now lies near the graves of his family at Crown Point, close to where a city school now bears his name.
Rev. Timothy H. Ball, 1837 pioneer, Baptist minister and circuit preacher, took time from his busy schedule to write the early history of south Lake County and recorded it for many decades. Without his passion for writing, very little of our past would have been saved for future generations.
He made notes as he rode his favorite horse while visiting south county communities and homes on his ministerial circuit.
He came to Indiana from the East as a young boy and was fascinated by their trip west on the Erie Canal and aboard a steamship on the Great Lakes. His father purchased a large covered wagon with a five horse team upon arrival in Ohio. The size of that wagon was important to him for there was room for the many books that became a part of the Ball family library when they settled at Cedar Lake in 1837, and where his mother became one of the pioneer teachers. Timothy received a long formal education, was ordained a Baptist minister, founded a Teacher's Institute, and wrote many books. He also has been the subject of dozens of "Pioneer History" columns in the Lowell Tribune and the Cedar Lake Journal.
Some of his schooling took place in Alabama, and one of his first volumes was The Creek War, 1813 & 1814, and he also wrote a small hard-cover book, The Gospel of St. Luke. He wrote many history books through the decades, including Lake County Indiana, 1834-1872, a hard-cover volume of 360 pages with a fold-out map of Lake County, Indiana, under the front cover.
What a joy it was when the Old Timer, a young soldier, found a copy of that same book while he was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1945! The soldier's great grandfather and grandfather are both listed in that book as 1838 pioneers; the grandfather as a boy of 9. We wonder how that book traveled so far from Lake County.
Among the many hard-cover volumes written by Rev. Ball are the following -- The Lake of the Red Cedars, 1880; Lake County, Indiana, 1884;" Northwestern Indiana, 1900; and Encyclopedia of Genealogy & Biography of Lake County, 1904. He also wrote hard-cover volumes called Reports of the Historical Secretary, published every five years for several decades. The books listed above (and more) are available for viewing at the Lowell Public Library.
Rev. Ball ended his 1884 book by writing: "I am sure that there would be some appreciation of the work accomplished by this unpretending volume, in treasuring up many facts that would otherwise have been buried in oblivion." -- Rev. Ball, many generations have appreciated and enjoyed all the work accomplished by all your writings and for saving so much of the history and the traditions of our past. Thank you from all of us!
Chief Simon Pokagon (1830-1899), son of Chief Leopold Pokagon, was the chief of the Potawatomi in southwestern Michigan. He became known as the best-educated full-blooded Indian in North America and was called the "Redskin Bard," "The Longfellow of His Race."
He studied for three years at the South Bend school when it was called "Notre Dame du Lac," followed by three more years at other colleges. "A literary genius" and a man of great moral strength, Simon Pokagon also visited President Lincoln two times and smoked a peace pipe with President Grant when he traveled to Washington to get the money due to the tribe for payment of thousands of acres of land that was sold to the government for three cents per acre, land that included the site of the present City of Chicago which was sold by treaty by Chief Leopold Pokagon.
Simon Pokagon spent his lifetime working for his tribe, but found time to write many pamphlets, newspaper articles, and books. Though none of his writings were about our local history, he left behind many lessons concerning diversity and human rights as he wrote: "Future of the Red Man," "Problems with His Race," "Indian Superstitions and Legends," as well as several larger books: Algonquin Legends, Redman's Greetings, and Redman's Rebuke.
He also wrote Queen of the Woods, a real romance of Indian life and about meeting Lodinaw, the little Indian girl who became his wife. When he saw her from across the river for the first time, he thought that she was a mirage, as she moved quickly through the forest followed by her tame white deer. But his greatest desire in publishing the historical sketch of his life was to help the white man and the red man into closer sympathy with each other.
The following is among his many poems:
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