Oliver Surprise, who was born in a log cabin on a farm northeast of Lowell, is today the oldest living man born in Lake county. He will be 86 years old December 1st next. He married Clarinda Thompson, formerly of Michigan, in May 1866, and they will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary next May. Both Mr. and Mrs. Surprise have their hobbies, his being a garden and hers being her flowers. Both are adept in their especial hobby and if one visits their home on Halstead street, Lowell, they will see a fine vegetable garden and beautiful flowers. Mrs. Surprise likes to have others enjoy her flowers, giving them to callers and sending them to the sick. They had a large family, being the parents of nine children, six of whom are living. Three sons -- Clarence, Allegan, Mich., Ernest, of Lowell, and Charles, of Hammond; three daughters -- Mrs. William Love and Mrs. Melvin Robinson, of Lowell, and Mrs. J.W. Thompson, of Hollywood, Calif.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Surprise attended the Old Settlers' meeting here last Saturday and were awarded the prize for being the oldest married couple present. Mr. Surprise also received the prize for being the oldest man born in Lake county and also for being the oldest Union soldier present. Their many friends all hope they may live to enjoy many more years.
Mr. Surprise is the oldest native-born resident in Lake County at the present time and recently passed his 89th birthday. He and his bride of 62 years are still hale and hearty and able to work with the best of the old timers.
Their six living children were with them Sunday. They included Charles of Hammond, Ernest of Gary, Clarence of Allegan, Michigan, Mrs. Will Love of Lowell, Mrs. John Thompson of Los Angeles, California, and Mrs. Mel Robinson of Lowell.
Mr. Surprise and his wife, who was then Miss Thompson, were married in 1866, shortly after he returned from three years of service with the Union army in the Civil War. They have lived in Lowell all of their lives.
Mr. Surprise was born in a log cabin three miles north of the present town of Lowell in 1838*, three years before the first surveyor's stake was driven in the county, which was then a wilderness.
*NOTE -- Although this article lists Mr. Surprise's birth year as 1838, his obituary (below) lists it as 1839.
He was buried on 13 Oct. 1931 in Lowell Cemetery, Lowell, IN. He was described as [having] great physical strength and unusual good health. Lowell Tribune article stated "He was a man of keen mind and genial disposition and because of his unquestioned integrity acted as an arbitrator in many cases. He belonged to the old school who thought that a man's word should be as good as his bond." He served in the military. Mustered 16 Aug 1862 in Indiana Volunteers -- Civil War. He mustered with the 73rd Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, Company A. He served throughout the war and was twice wounded in battle. Military Service between 2 Aug 1862 -12 Jul 1865, Indiana, Company A, 73rd Regiment, Infantry 4.
Oliver was a farmer for many years, and a soldier during the Civil War. He was a man loved by his neighbors for his integrity and genial disposition. For a number of years he was the oldest native born resident and with his wife would take the prize as the oldest married couple at the Old Settlers' meeting.
During the Civil War Oliver received a gun shot wound to his hand which resulted in the amputation of his thumb. He was then transferred to the Volunteer Relief Corp on Oct. 24th, 1863, in which he performed light duty work. Oliver E. Surprise and Carlinda Lucinda THOMPSON were married on 16 May 1866 in Cedar Lake, IN. Oliver married Carlinda Thompson. She was born in South Albian, Mich., in 1849 and came to Lowell with her parents when she was 14 years old.
Two years later she married Oliver, a young soldier just returned from the Civil War, where he was wounded twice in battle. For thirty years they lived on their farm northeast of Lowell, and then lived in Lowell for many years.
Their children were Lovisa, Hermoine Edessie "Hermie," Clarence, Clayton, Clifford, Ernest Albert, Lulu, Ella, and Charles L.
Go to Oliver Surprise, "Pioneer History Index," for further information.
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