Huntertown Historical Society

Local Histories

 

 


PERRY TOWNSHIIP HISTORY from B. J. Griswold, THE PICTORIAL HISTORY OF FORT WAYNE, INDIANA and THE STORY OF THE TOWNSHIPS OF ALLEN COUNTY by Mrs. Samuel R. Taylor, Chicago, Robert O. Law, 1917, pages 648 to 659

 

Monarchs of all they surveyed were CHARLES WEEKS and WILLIAM CASWELL for the first three years of their pioneership in the township of Perry.  Belonging to that early group of settlers who invaded the forests of Adams township in 1823, their experience had made them bold enough to go further still and to brave the lack of human society for the pursuit of the furred and feathered denizens of Perry.  Both men were famous hunters yet industrious axemen, and their farms were well-cleared.  MR. CASWELL, a Canadian, was perhaps the hardier and more aggressive of the two, but the team work of these friends was excellent.  They were joined in 1833 by THOMAS AND EPHRAIM H. DUNTEN, and the latter’s son HORACE F., with their families.  The Duntens did not allow the underbrush to lie long in their path to pioneer prosperity.  Horace built the first hewn log house the summer following his arrival and EPHRIAM H. DUNTEN, JR., who came in the fall was but a few months later in building the first store room of the settlement, on a spot which is now a town lot in Huntertown.  To this frame building, he brought goods from Toledo, by way of the canal as far as Fort Wayne and thence to the woodland market place by wagon, thus establishing a business which endured far beyond real pioneer days, being carried on by his sons after him.  

 

The Lima Road was opened about the same time, and as it immediately became a popular route for travel and pioneer traffic, this same Mr. Dunten set up a temporary tavern beside it, near the future village.  Guests poured in, and the genial host found it necessary  within a few years, to build a more commodious hostelry.  A brick kiln, set up about this time, seems to have been the only unsuccessful venture this man ever made.  He fell victim to the cholera epidemic in 1854.  THOMAS DUNTEN, the uncle, left a beautiful farmhome in New York, and undertook the hardships of pioneer living in Indiana in the hope of providing equally good fortunes for each of his children.  He was a generous and self-sacrificing father and neighbor, bearing his share and more of the difficulties of the first few winters.  At a time when the corn supply was so short that it became necessary to make a 7 days trip by ox-team to bring grain from settlements farther north, Mr. Dunten was the first to go, though it involved sleeping at night in the forest, as there was no other shelter by the way.  His children were given the best edu-cation obtainable under the circumstances, and were capable of afterward making the most of what they received.  His daughter, LUCINDA, was a pupil in a school taught by EBENEZER AYRES, claimed to be the first term taught in Perry Township.  MR. DUNTEN AND WIFE were both born in Vermont.  HORACE F. DUNTEN, only 20 years of age when he entered his first forty acres, proceeded at once to enlarge his holdings by the labor of his hands, earning $16 per month at canal work, and $10 a month when canal work closed for the winters.  A quiet, steadfast and industrious citizen, his services to the community may be estimated to some extent by the circumstance that of his 10 children, 8 became teachers.  THOMAS DUNTEN AND HORACE together selected the site of the cemetery near Huntertown.  Toward the end of HORACE DUNTEN’S life he was known as the oldest living settler of the township, having survived all his generation.  DUNTEN is still a very prominent name in Perry Township.

 

ALBERT WOOD was a settler of 1833, who married Miss NANCY DUNTEN, the daughter of EPHRIAM DUNTEN, SR., the year of his arrival, this being the first wedding in this group of colonists.  Their daughter, MARY JANE WOOD, was the first white child born in the settlement.

 

NATHANIEL FITCH  who first came to Allen County in 1832 entered Perry in 1836.  His marriage to MISS SARAH DELONG was the first celebrated after the organization of the township, and within the township borders.  MR. FITCH, was a self-made blacksmith, and a man of all-around ability, whose forge was the first to be set up in Perry, the date being 1837.  At nearly the same time, JAMES VANDERGRIFT, engaged in the manufacture of plow points and steel traps, both useful implements in a pioneer community.  BENJAMIN AND AMAZIAH PARKER followed the DUNTENS from Jefferson County, New York, in 1834, and soon became prominent in the affairs of the settlement.  MR. AND MRS. JASON HATCH from Pennsylvania came with their son, NEWMAN HATCH, in 1834.  NEWMAN HATCH was married in 1839 to MISS ABIGAIL PARKER, daughter of the Benjamin Parkers.  PHILEMON RUNDELS, who came the same year, GEORGE SIMON, and JAMES VANDOLAH and family credited to 1836, were valuable additions to the colony.  A notable year was 1837 during which arrived WILLIAM HUNTER, who purchased a large tract of land, including that part which subsequently was platted as Huntertown.  MR. HUNTER at once became an active citizen.  The years immediately following this witnessed a sudden increase in immigration, and names can scarcely be mentioned in detail.  Most of them are still familiar, however, to Allen County citizens, the BOWSERS, the TUCKERS, the GLOYDS, JAMES THOMPSON, ISAAC BENWARD, RAPIN ANDREWS, JACOB HILLEGASS, VACHEL METCALF, DR. E. G. WHEELOCK, AUGUST MARTIN AND SAMUEL SHRYOCK are among them.  Dr. WHEELOCK was of course the first physician of the colony.

 

The first election was held in 1835 in the pursuance of the order of the commissioners at WILLIAM CASWELL’S house, and MR. CASWELL was appointed Inspector by the board.  MR. CASWELL and JASON HATCH were elected Justices of the Peace.  The first post office established in 1836 was located in the home of CHARLES WEEKS, where it remained until 1840 when it was removed to the residence of WILLIAM HUNTER, who at that time became postmaster.  The first school taught, in 1835, though housed in a log cabin like many other pioneer schools, was far superior to the common run of such schools.  It is said that the first term was taught by EBENEZER AYERS, but this is probably incorrect, and the honor should be give to MISS ELIZA PARKER, the daughter of BENJAMIN. 

 

The first mill, the prime necessity of new settlements, was built for Perry township by “BLAIR AND HINES” and was merely a sawmill at first.  A corn cracker was added afterward, which made a product too coarse to be called meal, and while a little better than nothing, was felt to be a dubious blessing, even at that early day.  SAMUEL SHRYOCK  bought the mill in 1836 and sent to Dayton for a “run of burrs” which was put in, making it a merchant mill and established a profitable custom.  Fifteen  or sixteen years later the mill was sold to JOHN STONER and thereafter was known as “Stoner’s Mills”.

     

In 1834 and 1835 respectively, THOMAS and his nephew, HORACE F. DUNTEN set out orchards, the first to be planted in the township which after 50 years had passed, were still in fine fruit-bearing condition.   The first road to be surveyed through the town-ship extended from Fort Wayne to the Union Mill.  It was opened in 1835 and in 1849 was planked and became a source of large profit to its projectors, as it was traversed by a line of state coaches and the extensive timber industry of the district reached a market by its means.  Its importance as a thoroughfare of this latter sort waned, however, after the advent of the railroads, and the planks being allowed to decay, the road was gradually abandoned for better routes.  In later years, of course, these once neglected roads are being renewed, for the more legitimate rural traffic, and the Lima Road is once more a factor in the highway system, the county having assumed its improvement.

 

MR. NICKERSON, a Methodist exhorter, was the first to hold religious services in Perry Township, the place of worship being the house of  HORACE DUNTEN, the year 1834.  Several weeks later another service was held in a log cabin near the site of Huntertown conducted by REV. MR. RANKIN, the Presbyterian minister from Fort Wayne.  Everybody went to these meetings, regardless of their denominational leanings.  The Methodists were the first to organize, in 1836, and also the first to build a church in 1846 at Huntertown.  Robinson Chapel was a second building of the same denomination, in 1851, the land for the chapel and also for a cemetery, being donated by ANDREW BYERS.  The same year a Universalist church was organized and built and shortly after a Sunday School was opened, which being non-sectarian, accommodated all the children of the district.  Several years later the Methodists opened a large Sunday School of their own, but also non-sectarian so that the children of Perry Township who were not instructed in the way wherein they ought to walk, must have been a rarity.  Secular education received early and careful attention.  The second school to be opened was taught (1837) in a log cabin on section 8 by MATTHEW MONTGOMERY, a man of fine talent and training, and who have great impetus to education in general in the district and was a person of inspiration to his pupils.  He won early prominence in the community, and in 1846 was a candidate on the Whig ticket for State Representative, but was defeated by PETER KISER, on purely partisan grounds. MR. MONTGOMERY’S work for Perry Township terminated by his death while yet in early prime.

 

JAMES VANDOLAH first visited Perry township vicinity in 1832, while searching for a desirable mill site with convenient water power.  He located one on Cedar Creek, and having secured the land he returned to Ohio for 3 years, coming back in 1835 to dig a race for his mill.  He then returned for his family, and in 1836, they settled on the farms where his sons afterward spent most of their lives.  MR. VANDOLAH’S land holdings were extensive, including not only the 520 acres in Perry, but 400 acres in Eel River township, and a quarter section in DeKalb County.  He was an expert mill-wright, and spent a great part of his time at his trade, having worked at many mills in the middle west.  The Shryock mill at Leo, the Dawson mill at Spencerville, the grist mill near Clarksville, his own mill and a number of others were built by him.  MR. VANDOLAH was township trustee several terms.  The VANDOLAHS reared a family of 8 children, 5 of whom survived the parents, and achieved honor and prosperity in their own right, as well as worthily inheriting that of their parents.  BENJAMIN VANDOLAH, who was but 3 years of age when brought to Indiana, has spent his whole after life on the same farm, one of the best which have been unearthed on its soil.  THOMAS VANDOLAH, the 2nd son, was also prominent as a farmer and in the social life about him, but has always avoided office holding.   

 

SOLOMON SIMON, who came to Perry township when only 12, there to live and die, was a pioneer by heredity.  Three generations of pioneering must so have imbued his blood with pioneer spirit that one thinks this pioneer lad must have come to the new country alone, had his parents not brought him.    His grandfather was a pioneer of Washington County, Pennsylvania, to which place he carried his infant son, George, across the mountains in a pack-saddle, a journey which the baby survived, growing to vigorous manhood on the new soil.   But he too would go a-pioneering and Columbiana County , Ohio, was his next home, settling there in 1809, and from there enlisting in the war of 1812.  After a service of 6 months he returned and farmed for more than 20 years during which time, in 1825, his son SOLOMON was born.  The year 1836 saw the family settled in Perry township.  GEORGE SIMON died in 1872.  SOLOMON married in 1852 MARY A. RHOADS, the daughter of DeKalb County settlers.  The charm which held the SIMONS for life in Perry township was perhaps the elusive thing, Prosperity, at last captured and domesticated here, the beginning of fortune being a trade in ‘coon skins and other furs, of which the forests were full.  MR. AND MRS. SIMON were members of the old Lutheran church in which MR. SIMON was an elder.  Seven sons and daughters honor their memory.

 

The story of JOHN SURFUS should receive more detailed narration than can be accorded here, but however briefly, it must be given for in counting over the old pioneers it might be easy to overlook some who did not come with a flourish of, axes let us say, or at least with a fair assortment of worldly implements, education, money, and similar plenishings, with which to subdue the wilds and make themselves fairly comfortable while they did this.  JOHN SURFUS did not come with any of these.  Hard circumstances landed him in Perry township, unlettered, penniless, with the care of what was left of his family upon his hands, at the age of 21.  The sum of the Surfus worldly goods when they arrived at the wilderness home, may be briefly stated:  A yoke of cattle, a table, chest, set of wooden chairs, and an oven.  Their first bed was made by boring holes in the log walls of the cabin, and setting hewn poles, which were then wrapped with elm bark for a mattress.  Yet energy and perseverance will work wonders even if the tools be few and crude.  After nine long years of struggle, MR. SURFUS was married to ELLEN DELONG, a brave and faithful woman, who assisted her husband without flagging, and added 12 children, ten of whom survived them to the population of Perry.  To the careless ear, the recital of these struggles may sound dull and sordid, but to the man who began life with such empty hands, what romance there must be in the review of 60 years of toil, as he sits at ease and comfort by his prosperous hearthstone, basking in the warmth of achievement!  What a picture he must see, as he looks back, across a thousand smiling acres of farmlands, to the rude little cabin with its bed of hickory poles while in the foreground the smoke of his children’s hearthfires feathers the landscape like incense!  Let posterity doff its hat to the John Surfuses of pioneer history. 

 

My Note:  JOHN SURFUS came to DeKalb County as one of the early pioneers in 1835 with his father, Andrew and his brother, Jacob.  Also they built a cabin while here for a brother, William.  They came from Montgomery County and Miami County, Ohio, with GEORGE DELONG, and PETER AND ABRAHAM FAIR. 

 

NATHANIEL FITCH was another who came empty-handed to the wilderness.  Shrewd and intelligent, he had learned for himself numerous trades, being blacksmith, gunsmith, locksmith, with which he speedily made himself indispensable.  Starting from Pennsylvania with but 15 cents in his pocket he was obliged to walk, and earn his board en route.  His life had already been full of adventure.  Before he came to Indiana he had been shot in the leg during a wolf hunt;  and again, while crossing Lake Erie on a side-wheel steamer, their ship was caught in a gale and one shaft disabled.  In this predicament, in which ruin seemed inevitable, they were saved by the stratagem of breaking the other shaft.  Not only the wild beast inhabited the forests at the time when Nathaniel set up his forge, but Indians were still very numerous, and though subdued, were by no means fully civilized.  On one occasion he was obliged to ask an Indian, who had a gun to mend, to wait, whereat the Indian became enraged and sprang at him with knife drawn.  Mr. Fitch was sharpening a shovel at the moment, and an old story quaintly states that the Indian would probably have been hurt with the shovel had not the chief, Chopine, intervened.  Among other notable things recorded to Mr. Fitch’s credit is his work for the canal, for which he made all the iron used in the locks from Fort Wayne to the Wabash River.  He was married, 1840, to SARAH,  the daughter of GEORGE AND ELIZABETH DELONG.  Fifteen children came to them, thirteen of whom outlived their parents, who reared them in comfort while amassing a large property.  2,300 acres, all told, belonged to the Fitches by the time they reached the evening of life.                                                                                                             PERRY FITCH, the eldest son married SARAH E. GLOYD, daughter of GEORGE AND MAGDALENA GLOYD, and reared to maturity 8 of their 12 children.  MR. FITCH was 12 years a Justice of the Peace.

 

MATHIAS FITCH, Nathaniel’s second son married FRANCES VANDOLAH, daughter of JAMES AND REBECCA VANDOLAH.  They also have been very prominent, and their 6 children who survived to adulthood have proved worthy sons and daughters. 

 

Another son of NATHANIEL FITCH was AMOS FITCH who married the daughter of WILLIAM T. HUNTER, MISS NANCY E. HUNTER, their family consisting of one son and one daughter, while DAVID FITCH, the youngest of the sons, married EMMA B. STIRLEN and lived on the homestead farm with his aged mother.

 

GEORGE B. GLOYD became a conspicuous figure very soon after his arrival in 1832, being a man of much executive ability and consequently in demand in the construction of the public works of his time.  His first engagement was as superintendent of part of the construction work on the Wabash and Erie Canal.  He was married to MISS MAGDALENA MITTLER, of Ohio, in 1835.  Subsequently he undertook various contracts in railroad building, and at the time of his death was engaged in this work on the Saginaw Railroad (now the L.S.& M.S.)  MR. GLOYD was successful from every viewpoint, and his family of 8 are now worthy representatives of the name in their native township. 

 

JEROME D. GLOYD, married in 1875 to FITELIA FITCH, daughter of NATHANIEL AND SARAH FITCH, has 4 children, and after serving the township for years as trustee, was elected County Commissioner in 1882, re-elected in 1884, and served six years in all.  WILLIAM S. GLOYD, the third son, marred MISS MARY GUNDER. 

 

EDWIN G. GLOYD by natural adaptation became an expert miller, and the proprietor of the Gloyd Water Mill.  (Originally the Vandolah Mill.)

 

SCHUYLER WHEELER was born in Massachusetts but reared in Oswego County, New York, where at the age of 9 years he was apprenticed to the tanner’s trade, and at the age of 21, formed a partnership with his father and LUTHER BRIGGS, in a combination tannery and boot and shoe store.  MR. WHEELER was a strong character, which has commended him to the respect of his new neighbors in Allen County, when he brought his family here in 1836.  He succeeded financially, and left a large property.  In public life he served as representative of Allen County in the State legislature of 1859.  MRS. LYDIA SMITH WHEELER was also a native of Massachusetts.

 

DAVID M. SHOAFF, who came to Allen County in 1839, with his brave young wife, MARY MENDENHALL, and their 2 little babes, had their share of hardships, and triumphs also.  Young, moneyless, and with very little else than pluck, they made their way, MR. SHOAFF working in the winters for better situated neighbors at the princely stipend of 50 cents a day, and spending the summer at his own clearing, in which work MARY helped him, gathering and burning brush while her babies played at a safe distance on the ground.  Safe distance, do we say?  As if any distance were safe in a country which harbored wild animals and teemed with snakes not all of which were harmless.  Who can tell what fears assailed the young pioneer mother’s heart at the slightest call of distress from her little ones while she worked to help make them a home?  Among other incidents attending the pioneer life of DAVID SHOAFF is related a memorable trip he made to Maumee City, Ohio.  Salt it seems was selling in Fort Wayne for $9 per barrel in the spring of 1840.  This was deemed too high a price to pay with wages at 50 cents per day.  Still, salt was a necessity.  A brother, JAMES P. SHOAFF, furnished the money and DAVID SHOAFF and F. C. FREEMAN undertook the trip.  It was early March and the snow was so deep and heavy that it took 12 days to reach Maumee City.  The return trip was made by way of the still frozen Maumee River, a route quite common in winter, but fraught with some danger in March.   They had some narrow escapes from drowning, though they reached home safely at last, but it was a rather expensive barrel of salt after all, even reckoning their wages at 50 cents a day.  The arrow that flieth by day had been driven from the woods, but arrows were not all the risks that beset the settler’s path to fortune.  When in the fall of 1843 DAVID SHOAFF helped to build the houses of his brother J. P. SHOAFF, and SQUIRE JONES, they were the first houses between his own home and Heller’s Corners on that road which ADAM HULL and his neighbors helped to cut.  DAVID SHOAFF and RAPIN ANDREWS, though coming to Perry at nearly the same time, but in quite different circumstances, were both there in time to be two of the 11 voters in the township to cast a vote at the first presidential election held there.  DAVID was a Whig.  RAPIN ANDREWS, who came with his wife, MARY BRIMMER and their 2 sons, from New York, had already attained worldly success before they became pioneers in Perry Township.  MR. ANDREWS brought ripe experience to the affairs of the new district, and was from the outset a valuable and appreciated citizen.  He died in 1849 at the age of 67.  THERON ANDREWS, his oldest son, born in New York State March 1822, was married in 1849 to HELEN L. POTTER, daughter of Oliver and Clarissa Potter, born October 1830.  THERON ANDREWS during a long life in Perry was one of its foremost men, having served successively as township assessor, township trustee, member of the Board of County Commissioners, Board of Drainage Commissioners, and a member of the Board of Equalization.  His family occupy a social position of high regard.  DEXTER B. ANDREWS, the second son of Rapin and Mary Andrews, married in 1849 MISS CELESTE A. SAUERS,  born at Watertown, New York, October 1832.  The year before he had entered the shops at Fort Wayne, never completing this course, but gifted with unusual cleverness in many directions of a mechanical nature, he was successful in whatever he undertook.  For several years, Mr. Andrews devoted a part of his energies to daguerreotyping, in which, although entirely self-taught, he made an enviable local reputation.  During his various experiences and changes of occupation, he saw a great deal of the United States, a broadening process which made him always one of the township’s most valued citizens.  He left 3 daughters,  AMELIA (MRS. J. N. BASSETT), CORA M. (MRS. L. C. HUNTER) and CLARA G.

 

PHANUEL JACKSON, who came to Perry township with his sister and her husband, ELEAZER CUMMINGS,  from Maine, to a farm which afterward became his, had an unusual career, if being a successful farmer, and a practical one, and for more than 20 years a successful (self-taught) practitioner as an oculist, becoming also licensed physician of Allen County may be called unusual.  MR. JACKSON was elected Justice of the Peace in 1886.  Three daughters, MERCY M., MARGARET D., and MELIA N., survived him and a fourth, CORDELIA M., dying some years before.  After the CUMMINGS in 1842, came JOSEPH WARNER, who earned his first 40 acres by clearing another 20 acres during his first winter in Perry, a good bargain well fulfilled: and his son SAMUEL, “a born carpenter” who never lacked a job, because of the good quality of his work.  He married JULIA A. SPENCER and they reared 7 children to be a credit to their training. 

 

SAMUEL WARNER was a member of the “Regulators”, an organization formed to rid the country of outlaws, as were also DAVID FITCH and  MATHIAS FITCH, and JACOB KELL, whose sister was the wife of PHANUEL JACKSON.

 

The KELLS were of Franco-German descent.  JACOB KELL came to Perry in 1843, and entered, in all, 120 acres of land.  He earned the money with which to furnish his own house by splitting rails at 75 cents per hundred, furnishing the timber and boarding himself while doing the work.  JACOB KELL was a “Regulator” and served as township trustee for 4 years.  Industry, not speculation, was ever the method of Mr. Kell, who amassed thereby a 1000 acres of Allen county’s best farming land, 800 of which was incorporated in his homestead farm.   

 

SOLOMON KELL, his son, received a good education at the Perry Centre Seminary, after which he taught for 5 years, a part of that time as a resident of Iowa, where he was honored with public office, returning to his native township in Indiana, and took a similar position to that of his father in the estimation of the community.  He was a constable, and a “Regulator”, in both of which capacities he did his full duty.  

 

The family of JACOB HILLEGASS has been one of extreme prominence since its first arrival in 1843, and is so well known all over the county that it seems odd that its personal history was nearly all made in Perry township.  As a boy, JACOB HILLEGASS was a pioneer’s son in Montgomery County, Ohio, receiving only the meager advantages afforded by the log school houses in the woods.  Married in 1841 to MISS LUCY A. POWELL, like himself of Pennsylvania origin, the young people came to Perry in 1843 and took up the half section where they pass the remainder of their lives.  It is impossible to go into detail, but MR. HILLEGASS’S career was characterized by every quality of good citizenship, and he was in constant requirement as an official of the township, and also of the county.  Mr. and Mrs. Hillegass were both Presbyterians, and reared their fine family of girls and boys in that creed.  Mr. Hillegass was always a supporter of churches in general, also of schools and all worthy enterprises.  Determined that his children should not like himself, lack opportunity, he encouraged each one in his bent, and gave them the most liberal advantages.  Three of his sons graduated from Michigan University, JOSIAH and ISAIAH becoming lawyers, while JEREMIAH or “Jerry” was called from his post-graduate course at college to become County Superintendent of Schools.  HEZEKIAH chose a farmer’s life and the daughters SARAH, MARY and LUCY received their education in the Fort Wayne High School.  SARAH became the wife of her brother’s law partner, JOHN STAHL (who died in 1878) and MARY married the late SILAS B. MacMANUS, the well-famed dialect poet, whose quaint and sincere verses touch many a Hoosier heart.    

 

PERRY CENTRE SEMINARY, already referred to, was an institution founded in 1856 by NATHANIEL FITCH, JACOB KELL, and GEORGE B. GLOYD, and, notwithstanding its short existence, bore strong witness to the quality of Perry township people.  It was a flourishing institution for 5 years, during which time it gave a start to men and women who have since made a name for themselves and the township.  Among the names of its pupils are the HILLEGASS boys, DR. S. C. METCALF, DR. E. G. WHEELOCK, and the three GLOYDS, JEROME, WILLIAM and ALBERT, the MCQUISTONS, DR. DILLS, of Fort Wayne, HIRAM MYERS, and MISS JENNIE FITCH,  afterward professor of Greek and Latin at Logansport.  At the breaking out of the Civil War, the seminary faculty and all of its adult students enlisted, which was praiseworthy and has happened to other schools with like result, namely, it was deserted, and at the close of the war its scattered pupils were grown up or had found other openings.  It was too late to resuscitate the once promising educational center.  The building went to decay, and is only remembered by what it has done.          

 

WILLIAM T. HUNTER, whose name is perpetuated in the one village of Perry township, was a native of Cumberland, England, who first came to America in 1828, and in 1837 settled in Perry, on the Lima Road.  He began clearing a farm at the same time but con-ducted a tavern at his home.  The site of Huntertown was a natural gathering place for settlers’ homes, as it was the only spot not covered with forest.  “The Opening” as it was called, was not made by the settlers, nor for them.  However, they gladly availed themselves of it, setting up their temporary cabins and camps there while they cleared more permanent sites for home building.  MRS. MARY JANE BEARDSLEY, nee WOOD, the first while child born in Perry, still resides in Huntertown.  Her faculties at the age of 83 are still unimpaired and active in mind and body “the youngest old lady in town”.  The “Opening” at the Huntertown site is thus explained by MRS. BEARDSLEY, who learned of it from the Indians in her childhood.  Lying north and south of a slight eminence of Huntertown, which once was forest, also were two muck prairies both of which took fire in some very dry season, and burned until they reached the edges of the forest, destroying the timber before it burned itself out.  The opening, as has been stated was included in the land purchased by Mr. Hunter, whether in a mood of prophecy or no, we cannot tell.  When the town was finally platted in 1869, a village already existed, in effect, so close was the settlement in that spot.  Many of the homes in Huntertown are preserved from settlement days, remodeled or rebuilt upon the same site as those of their forefathers.  The building of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad was the opportunity which crystallized the rural community into an organized town.  Forty-five town lots were sold in a day, after the plat was opened, an auspicious beginning for the new shipping point.

 

MRS. BEARDSLEY was born while her parents were still partially sheltered in the “prairie schooner” which had brought them and their furnishings to the settlement, many of these vehicles being the nearest approach to civilized luxury attainable in those days.  She related several particulars which are enlightening in the study of the development of the locality.  The Indians, generally friendly, were familiar visitors at the white cabins, asking not only for food but fire water.  If the settler’s family had what was asked for, they gave it.  Indeed, the Indian never accepted a refusal.  If the cabin, as commonly happened in Perry anyway, contained no fire water, the only way to maintain peace was to invite the Indian in and allow him to search the premises for himself.  If he found what he wanted he took it and if not, he kept his good temper.  MRS. BEARDSLEY has watched the prairie schooner drawn by oxen, and the saddlebags method of transportation give way in succession to the spring wagon with its span or horses, the old-fashioned “high buggy”, the stage coach (some of elegance in its day), the railroad, with its only passenger accommodation, the “caboose”, then the modern passenger trains, and now the electric cars, and the automobile, the latest cry of progress, and she quaintly gauges the advance of Perry township by these epoch-making changes.  

 

Of the two churches, the METHODIST and UNIVERSALIST, which flourished at Huntertown, the Methodist still thrives, but the Universalist following has dwindled until the chapel has now been closed for a long time.  A two-room township school is located in the village.  The chief street of Huntertown is the Lima Road, along which the electric interurban line extends, and which within the village goes by the name of Plank Street.  At intervals along the street, the business of the town is strung, the lines of trade represented, including:  The livery and garage headquarters of J. L. MCCOMB, and CHARLES S. KRUSE;  two general stores kept by MCCOMB AND SLOFFER, and J. C. RUNYAN;  two meat markets kept by H. J. HILLEGASS, and V. E. MCCOMB; a restaurant and grocery managed by W. B. COLE, a drug store, C. O. BUSH, proprietor;  the plumbing, cemetery fixtures and lightning rod establishment of W. J. SNYDER;  two dealers in agricultural implements, A. J. BAKER and SAMUEL HIEBER;  two blacksmith shops, run by W. F. SNYDER and W. A. GRIMME and sons;  the wagon “smithy” of N. C.  GLAZIER;  H. G. DUNLAP’S dry cleaning house and two tonsorial parlors.  Huntertown is both temperate and peaceful, supporting neither saloons nor lawyers.  The ailments of the town are healed by DR. FRANK GREENWELL, long established and known the country “round” and DR. HARRY ERWIN, “the young doctor”.  MRS. GREENWELL is the daughter of W. T. HUNTER, and with her daughter, MRS. H. C. NELSON, is as well-known as the doctor himself.  The Huntertown State Bank, CHARLES HARTUNG, president has very smart headquarters, above which are the Masonic Lodge rooms.   Visible are the little interurban depot, the HATCH Hotel, and the post office.  The latter serves three rural routes, is in charge of MRS. MYRA WARCUP, a daughter of early citizens.   MRS. WARCUP’S father and mother, STEPHEN THORNTON and ANGELINE CUMMINGS,  were married 60 years ago in a little cottage which still stands at the north end of the village street and during their earlier married life lived at the hotel which was at that time the WAMSLEY HOUSE, kept for a long period by CHRISTOPHER WAMSLEY, who traveled for the Updegraff firm in Fort Wayne.  The hotel is fully 70 years old, the original house from which it was enlarged, being still older than that.  It is well preserved and still conducted by MRS. MARY HATCH into whose hands it passed after the proprietorship of the WAMSLEYS.  The place is well-known to the tourists who stop there for the good country dinners which are served.

Telephones are supplied to Huntertown by the Farmers’ Mutual exchange, and connected with Fort Wayne by the Bell Company’s lines.  A little paper called the “HUNTERTOWN ECHO” is published fortnightly by the Methodist minister.  Huntertown has no fire department, but is organizing a volunteer company, and arrangements are being made to raise money for the apparatus, as fires have been frequent, though fortunately not very disastrous.  The community is very proud of its new agricultural society, the only one in the county, and strengthening rapidly.  Its second cattle show will be held this year (1917) and real premiums are being offered, where only ribbons could be awarded in 1916.  Fancy stock sales are conducted by the society also.  DR. FRANK GREENWELL is the president.  But the automobile that flies along Plank Street without stopping, flinging the dust of Lima road all over the village porches, cannot realize the really big industry of Huntertown, which is the mammoth elevator plat of the “Huntertown Grain Elevator Company”.  The elevator, or rather several which preceded it and perished by fire, had been in existence since the early railroad days.  At first it was used only for grains, but since it was taken over, in 1910, by the new company, it has been repeatedly enlarged and broadened to include the storing of lumber, cement, and all sorts of building material, as well as other agricultural products, such as potatoes (from as far away as Minnesota), and is constantly crowded to capacity, which for grain, is 10,000 bushels, but like the omnibus will always hold a little more.  In 1916 the capital stock was increased from $8,000 to $30,000, all of which is sold, and which pays from 20 to 40 percent.  A milling room has been added, which grinds only for cus-tomers, and not for the trade.  DR. GREENWELL is the president of the company.

 

Huntertown has an actual population of about 250 wide-awake individuals, and has all the materials of growth, in spite of which the census shows but slight increase from time to time.  Perhaps the new “community spirit” has not yet been breathed into its nostrils.

 

Between the Huntertown neighborhood and the Eel River line is located the fresh air camp of the Anti-tuberculosis League of Fort Wayne, known as “Fort Recovery”, while well to the south of this, in portions of sections 30 and 31 of Perry, and section 36 of Eel River Township, lies the new tract purchased by the county for a county infirmary to which, before long, the county dependents will be removed.

 

For picturesqueness and unique topographical features no part of Allen County equals Perry township.  “Dutch Ridge” the highest point in Allen County, is a part of the Wabash-Aboite moraine, which, near the bend of Cedar Creek in the vicinity of Gloyd’s Mill, lies more than 100 feet above the creek which runs through a deep gorge cut through the moraine near its highest altitude.  The sides and the gorge, steep and precipitous, are of great beauty, clothed with trees and vegetation of wild variety.  A wagon road in very good condition leads through the gorge, which abounds in attraction to the artist or the tourist, and should be better known and more visited than it ever has been.  The whole vicinity is picturesque in the extreme, Gloyd’s Mill, the suc-cessor, on the same site, of the VANDOLAH MILL, itself being worth a trip in that direction.  There are cold springs of mineral water in the neighborhood, which offer considerable advantage as a place of summer sojourn. 

___________________________________________________________________

 PERRY TOWNSHIP by L. H. Newton

 

From HISTORY OF ALLEN CO., IN by Thomas B. Helms, with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers.

Township histories compiled by L. H. Newton

Reprint of 1880 edition, published by Kingman Bros., Chicago

 

 

The history of the township begins with the year 1830, prior to which time no one made any attempt to improve upon the natural conditions of its territory, or clear away from its surface the veil which hid the vast store of natural wealth.  Its forests remained untouched by the pioneer’s ax, and the wild animals trod its labyrinths almost unmolested.

 

THE FIRST SETTLERS

 

who came to reside within its limits were CHARLES WEEKS and WILLIAM CASWELL, who came in the year above named.  Weeks was fond of the chase, and although he cleared a farm and proved himself a man of great industry, his gun was his most acceptable companion, and his cabin was well supplied with trophies of his successful pursuit of the game then so abundant.  William Caswell was a native of Canada, and was of a hardy nature, great strength and endurance, and although uneducated, was a man of some natural ability.  He went to work with energy in his forest home, and during the first winter of his residence in the county cleared a tract of land from which he was enabled, during the following season, to raise a crop sufficient for his subsistence during the ensuing winter.  Like his associate, Mr. Weeks, he took delight in hunting, and was often absent from home for several consecutive days in pursuit of deer and other game to supply him with meat for the winter.  He remained a number of years in the township, and was a man of some prominence in its early history.  He subsequently moved to another locality, and nothing is now known of him.  After the advent of Weeks and Caswell in the township, there were no further arrivals until the fall of 1833.

 

In that year THOMAS DUNTEN and his nephew, HORACE F. DUNTEN, started from Jefferson County, N.Y. to find a Western home.  There was little in this locality to prepossess them in its favor.  They were confronted by dense forests, and severe labor and trials stared them in the face; but beyond this, their acute foresight discerned a rich reward for such labor, and their decision was made.  They purchased land and began at once the erection of a cabin for shelter.  Soon they began the work of clearing the land, and, in due time, were enabled to raise sufficient for the satisfaction of their immediate necessities.  THOMAS DUNTEN remained in the township until his decease, and during that time was largely interested in its growth and development.  HORACE F. DUNTEN was, at the time of his arrival, a young man of 20 years, and gave to his work the zest and enthusiasm of early manhood.  His subsequent life has been passed in the township, and now, at a ripe old age, he enjoys the fruits of his labors and a competence well earned.  He still resides on Section 17, on the farm cleared by his own hand.  Late in the fall of 1833 EPHRAIM H. DUNTEN SR. joined his son, Horace F. and settled on the same section.  He also cleared a farm and remained in the township until death ended his labors.  He was accompanied by his son, GEORGE, who assisted him to “make” his farm, and is now a prosperous farmer himself.  ALBERT WOOD came with Mr. Dunten in the fall of 1833 and continued to reside upon the farm until his decease in 1878. 

 

NATHANIEL FITCH, an unmarried man came from Pennsylvania in the same year, and after clearing a farm, married Miss SARAH DELONG and reared a large family, several of whom are now living in the township.  He was a man of great natural ability, and was highly esteemed by his neighbors.  He was a blacksmith and conducted that trade in connection with farming.  A long life of labor and industry brought him a rich return, and made him the possessor of a fine fortune.  He remained in the township until his death in January, 1878.

 

BENJAMIN AND AMAZIAH PARKER came from Jefferson County, N.Y. in the spring of 1834, and were prominent movers in many of the improvements subsequently inaugurated in the township.  In the same season, EPHRAIM DUNTEN, JR. located near the present sight of Huntertown, where he erected a building in which he kept the first tavern in the township.  Subsequently he moved to Fort Wayne, where he engaged in business for a short time.  Returning to Perry Township, he made it his home until 1854, when he fell victim to cholera and died.

 

JASON HATCH came from Pennsylvania in 1834, and settled on Cedar Creek, where he erected a saw mill.  He settled on the farm now owned by THOMAS WILKINSON and cleared a large tract of land, besides superintending the mill.  He was a man who speedily won his way to the hearts of his fellow citizens, and was repeatedly called upon to fill local offices.  He remained in the township until death.

 

PHILEMON RUNDELS came in 1834, and cleared a farm near the Coldwater Road, where he resided until death.  His life was marked by industry, and he accumulated a fine estate.  He was a man of ability and served as Justice of the Peace in the township.

 

GEORGE SIMON came from Columbiana County, Ohio, in October 1836 and settled on a farm now occupied by his son, SOLOMON SIMON.  He remained in the township until death.

 

WILLIAM T. HUNTER, came in 1837, and purchased the tract of land upon which the village of Huntertown is now located.  He has done much toward the improvement of the township, and is universally respected by his neighbors.  He now resides in Huntertown.

 

RAPION ANDREWS came in 1837, and cleared a farm, which he cultivated until called from his labors by death.  SCHUYLER WHEELER came from the State of New York in the same year.  He was well educated and soon rose to a position of prominence among his neighbors.  In 1858 he was elected by the Democrats of the district to represent them in the State Legislature.  He gained many friends and was always held in high esteem.

 

JACOB AND GEORGE KELL came in 1837, and still reside in the township.  Their labors have been crowned with success, and they are among the substantial farmers of the township.

 

GEORGE, SAMUEL, HENRY, AND JOHN BOWSER came in 1837.  After that date, new arrivals were so frequent that it is impossible to give a complete list of names.  Among the number, however, may be mentioned THOMAS TUCKER, JAMES THOMPSON, JAMES VANDOLAH, JACOB HILLEGASS, VACHEL METCALF, GEORGE GLOYD, L. GLOYD, JAMES TUCKER, DR. E. G. WHEELOCK, AUGUST MARTIN AND SAML. SHYROCK.

 

At the September session of the Board of County Commissioners, in 1835, the township was organized in response to a petition presented by its residents.  Its boundaries comprised “all of Township 32 North, Range 12 East, and the east half of Township 32 North, Range 11 East, together with the territory North of said Township within Allen County”.  The Sheriff was then ordered to advertise an election for two Justices of the Peace and two Constables. 

 

THE FIRST ELECTION

 

Pursuant to the order, the qualified voters of the township met at the house of WILLIAM CASWELL, on the second Saturday in October, 1835.  WILLIAM CASWELL was appointed Inspector by the Board of County Commissioners.  The election resulted in the choice of JASON HATCH and WILLIAM CASWELL, Justices of the Peace, and LEWIS HAMMON, Constable.

 

THE FIRST HOUSES

 

All the earlier settlers of the township lived in cabins, hastily constructed from the round timber, as it was felled from the forest, and only used as temporary abodes until logs could be hewed to make more comfortable dwellings.  The first hewed log house was erected by HORACE F. DUNTEN in 1834, and was speedily followed by others of similar character.  Shortly after its erection (perhaps in the same year), EPHRAIM H. DUNTEN, JR. erected a frame storeroom on the lot now owned by N.V. HATCH at Huntertown, in which he kept the first store of the township.  In this building he continued to sell goods during his life, and after his decease, the store was conducted by his sons, until quite recently.  His goods were purchased at Toledo, Ohio, and brought to Fort Wayne via the Wabash and Erie Canal.  From this point were conveyed to their destination in wagons.

 

THE FIRST TAVERN was kept by EPHRAIM H. DUNTEN, in a building at the north end of Huntertown on the Lima Road.  It was on the great highway between Fort Wayne and English Prairie, and was well patronized by emigrants en route for that region, as well as by numerous teamsters engaged in conveying goods from Fort Wayne to the prairies.  He was a genial host and made his house popular with the traveling community, and was rarely without as many guests as he could accommodate.  Several years later, he erected a more commodious building at the south end of Huntertown.

 

THE FIRST MILL

 

IN 1834 BLAIR AND WINES built a saw mill on Cedar Creek, to which they subsequently added a “corn-cracker.”  The stones used for this purpose were about 18 inches in diameter, and worked in an upright position.  It ground very coarsely, merely cracking the kernels.  It was a very primitive affair, and of little good to its proprietors or the settlement.  The saw mill, however, was a good investment, and yielded its proprietors a fair revenue.  SAMUEL SHRYOCK purchased the mill in 1836 and sent to Dayton, Ohio, for a run of buhrs.  He made it a merchant mill and established a good trade.  In 1851 and 1852, Mr. Shyrock sold it to JOHN STONER, by whom it was operated a number of years, and was then sold to George Kell, its present proprietor.

 

 

 

 

THE FIRST BLACKSMITHS--In 1837, NATHANIEL FITCH started the fires of his forge, and later in the same year, JAMES VANDERGRIFT opened a shop in another part of the township.  Both were engaged in the manufacture of plow-points and steel traps.

 

THE FIRST PHYSCIAN--DR. E.G. WHEELOCK came from New York in 1837, and was for many years a practicing physician in the township.  Now he resides in Leo, this county.

 

THE FIRST ORCHARD—In 1834, THOMAS DUNTEN set out the first orchard in the township and in the following season HORACE F. DUNTEN set out the second, on the farm now owned by N.V. HATCH at Huntertown.  Both  orchards are in fine condition and bear fruit.

 

THE FIRST ROAD was surveyed through the township in 1835 from Fort Wayne to Union Mill on English Prairie.  In 1848 or 1849, it was made a plank road, and a large amount of toll was collected annually by its projectors.  A line of stage coaches was established and traversed its length at regular intervals, and through this road a large timber trade found access to the markets.  After the construction of railroads through the county, it was no longer a thoroughfare of importance, and the planks were suffered to go to decay, and finally removed.  Other roads were constructed later in various portions of the township, which is now well supplied with all the necessary channels of transportation for its products.

 

THE FIRST WHITE CHILD—-MARY J. WOOD was the first white child born in the township.  After reaching maturity, she married JAMES O. BEARDSLEY, ESQ., now deceased, and at present resides in Huntertown.

 

THE FIRST MARRIAGE—-In 1836, NATHANIEL FITCH AND SARAH DELONG were married in the residence of the bride’s parents.  (Actually they were married in 1840 and it was may have been at the home of her sister, CHRISTINA FAIR or cousin, GEORGE W. DELONG). This was the first marriage solemnized in the township.  In the same year, HORACE F. DUNTEN was united in marriage with MISS ALMENA TIMMERMAN, in Swan township, Noble County, Indiana and at the same time HIRAM L. PARKER, a resident of Perry township married MISS SARAH RICKARD, in the same township and county.  ROBERT BLAIR AND MISS LUCY DUNTEN, residents of Perry township, were married in the same year.

 

THE FIRST CEMETERY was purchased from a Mr. Blair by residents of the township in 1834, and is still used as a place of interment.  Its first occupant was MR. VALENTINE, who was drowned in Cedar Creek in 1834.  In the same year, E. R. BURK died, and his remains were consigned to rest in the same place.  The cemetery is located one mile east of Huntertown on Section 16. 

 

THE FIRST BRICK KILN was burned in 1837, by EPHRAIM H. DUNTEN, SR., but it was not a lucrative business, and he did not continue it long.

 

THE FIRST POST OFFICE was established in 1836 at the house of CHARLES WICKS.  Mr. Wicks was appointed Postmaster, and held that position two or three years.  He then resigned and was succeeded by MR. JONES, who had formally served as his assistant, and the office continued to kept at the house of Mr. Wicks until 1840.  In that year WILLIAM T. HUNTER was appointed Postmaster, and the office was removed to his house.

 

THE FIRST SCHOOL was taught by ELIZA PARKER, in 1835, a log cabin on Section 6. The tuition fund was contributed by residents of the town-ship, whose children attended the school, and it was the place where some of the best farmers of the township received their education.  It was greatly in advance of the subscription schools of that period;  its teacher was a lady who had acquired a good education in the East, and its scholars were led beyond the ordinary routine of reading, writing, and elementary arithmetic.  Among its surviving pupils are DANFORD, OMRI, SUEL PARKER, LUCINDA DUNTEN AND MALINDA HUNTER.  Lucinda Dunten subsequently became a teacher, and in this capacity was identified with the schools of the township for a number of years. 

 

In 1837, the second school was taught by MATTHEW MONTGOMERY, in a cabin on Section 8.  Its teacher was a man of great natural ability, and had received a fine education.  He won golden opinions as a school teacher, and became a prominent man in the township.  In 1846, he was a Whig candidate for State Representative, but was defeated by Hon. Peter Kiser.  He died while yet a young man.  An improvement was made in the system of education, with the introduction of public schools, of which there is now 9 in the township, having a total enrollment of 446 scholars. 

 

PERRY CENTER SEMINARY

 

In 1856, NATHANIEL FITCH, JACOB KELL AND GEORGE GLOYD incorporated the seminary known by this name.  They were moved by a laudable desire to establish in this township a first-class institution of learning and with that end in view, erected near the center of the township a large frame building, and in the winter of that year, secured the services of Prof. T. W. TILDEN as teacher.  In 1860 it was divided into 3 departments or grades, and Prof Tilden retained as Principal, with 2 able assistants in the other grades.  Its pupils came from Noble, DeKalb, Allen, LaGrange, and other counties in this State.  The course was academic, including the languages, higher mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, etc., etc.

 

It was a prosperous institution until 1862 or 1863.  Then a number of its pupils enlisted in the army and its Principal, Prof. Tilden, resigned his position.  It never rallied or regained its reputation, and the building is now a ruin.  Many of its pupils now occupy prominent mercantile and professional positions in Allen and other counties.  Among the number may be mentioned JOHN STAHL, an attorney at law (now deceased);  JOSIAH HILLEGASS, attorney at law, also deceased.  Both occupied high positions at the bar of this county.  JERRY HILLEGASS, Superintendent of Schools of Allen County;  DR. S. C. METCALF, a prominent physician of Fort Wayne, and Demonstrator of Anatomy in the Fort Wayne College of Medicine;  DR. E. G. WHEELOCK, JR. now practicing medcine at Leo, Indiana, was elected Professor of Materia Medica in the Fort Wayne College in which capacity he now acts.  JOHN DEAL, now a resident of Iowa, has served one of the counties of that State in the capacity of County Clerk;  CHARLES FITCH, a resident of the same State, is a Deputy Sheriff;  JEROME D. GLOYD, now Trustee of Perry Township;  WILLIAM AND ALBERT GLOYD, now merchants at Effingham, Illinois;  WILLIAM MCQUISTON, merchant at Auburn, Indiana;  WILSON MCQUISTON, now editor of the Fort Wayne ENTERPRISE;  GEORGE W. HUSH, Superintendent of Public Schools in one of the counties of California;  DR. DILLS, now a practicing physician in the city of Fort Wayne;  HIRAM MYERS, now the Superintendent of Schools in one of the Eastern States;  and MISS JENNIE FITCH, Professor of Latin and Greek, at Logansport, Indiana. 

 

CHURCHES

 

The first religious meeting was held at the home of HORACE F. DUNTEN, in 1834, by Mr. Nickerson, an exhorter of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Several weeks later a meeting was held in a cabin near the present site of Huntertown, at which time services were conducted by REV. RANKIN, a Presbyterian exhorter from Fort Wayne.  There were no religious organizations in the township at that time.  Services were held at irregular intervals by ministers of various denominations and were attended by all. 

 

THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH was the first church organized in the township.  Its members, 6 in number, met in the home at James Thompson in 1836 and under the ministration of REV. BALL of Fort Wayne, organized a class from which grew the Methodist Episcopal Church at Huntertown.  Meetings were held at James Thompson’s house for 2 years, after which the Caswell Schoolhouse the place of meeting.  The society was always supplied with a minister from Fort Wayne.

 

In 1846, they erected their present house of worship in Huntertown.  It is a frame building, 30 x 40 feet, and cost $1,500.  After its completion, REV. JESSE SPARKS was chosen and installed as Pastor, and served in that capacity until transferred to another charge by the Conference.  The labors of their Pastors have been attended with successful results, and the Church is now in a prosperous condition.  REV. D. P. HARTMAN is the present Pastor.

 

ROBINSON CHAPEL –- In 1851, REV. ANDREW BYERS donated a tract of land to the Methodist Episcopal denomination to be used as a cemetery, and also as a site for a church of that denomination.  The society was organized in the preceding year, and held meetings at the schoolhouse until 1852.  In that year, they erected a frame church on the land donated by Mr. Byers.  It was dedicated by Prof. Robinson for whom it was named.  REV. IRA M. WOLVERTON is the present Pastor.

 

THE UNIVERSALIST CHURCH AT HUNTERTOWN was organized at the house of DR. VANDERHYDEN in 1850, with 17 constituent members.  WILLIAM CHAPLIN of Kosciusko County, Indiana, was the officiating Pastor on this occasion, and visited the congregation at irregular intervals for several years succeeding that date. 

 

In 1851, they erected the present house of worship at Huntertown, at a cost of $1,500.  It was dedicated by Mr. Chaplin, who, in 1855, was engaged as Pastor.  He served as such for a term of one year and was succeeded by J. MERRIFIELD;  and in the interim between that time and the present, the following pastors have had charge of the Church;  REV. RAYHOUSER, REV. SPOONER, REV. S.F. GIBB, WILLIAM STEWART AND JOHN P. CHAPLIN.  Since the close of Mr. Chaplin’s pastorate, the Church has been served by REV. M. CROSLEY, of Fort Wayne.  It now has a membership of 63.

 

The Sunday School was organized in 1863, with fully 100 scholars.  Of this number many were the children of parents belonging to other denominations, and it was conducted as a union school.  Several years later the Methodist Episcopal Sunday school was organized, and the withdrawal from the union school of the Methodist children lessened its numbers fully 50%.  It was continued under the superintendence of BENJAMIN MORRIS, and has since been maintained as a school of the church.  It is now in a prosperous condition, having 60 scholars enrolled.  JOHN MALCOLM is the present Superintendent. 

 

THE VILLAGE OF HUNTERTOWN

 

After the completion of the Coldwater road, from Fort Wayne to English Prairie, a number of settlers built their houses near what was regarded as the great highway and WILLIAM HUNTER purchased a tract of land adjacent thereto;  and although no town plat existed, and no lots had been sold, it received the name of Huntertown, which it has since borne.  The first sale of town lots was effective in 1872, after a completion of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad.  The following are the businessmen of the village:  J. C. HUNTER, dry goods, groceries, and general merchandise;  J. R. BALLOU, grocery and saloon;  F. B. BACON, drugs;  J. D. SECHLER, grocery;  R. S. FERRAND, Postmaster.  Physicians: DR. CHARLES ORVIS and DR. FRANK GREENWELL. 

 

SECRET SOCIETIES

 

HENRY KING LODGE, No. 382, A., F. & M. – On the 29th day of February, 1868 a petition was signed by T. M. ANDREWS, S. A. THORNTON, J. O. BEARDSLEY, IRA A. WEST, F. C. WERT, H. F. BOYNTON, THOMAS VANDOLAH, HENRY KING, JAMES W. FLEMING, CORWIN PHELPS, DAVID MCQUISTON, F. C. BACON, JOHN ANDERSON, WILLIAM ROSS AND WILLIAM ANDERSON.  The petition was sent to HARVEY G. HARDING, G.M. of Indiana, and on the 28th day of March following, the petitioners received a dispensation to organize a lodge, to be known as Henry King Lodge 382, naming T. M. ANDREWS, W.M.; S. A. THORNTON, S.W.;  and J. O. BEARDSLEY, J.W.  The remaining officers were appointed by the W.M. and were as follows:  HENRY KING, Treasurer;  F. C. BACON, Secretary;  F. C. WERT, S.D.;  C. PHELPS, J.D.; D. MCQUISTON, Tiler.

 

June 18, 1869 the Lodge received a charter (dated May 25, 1869) and was duly constituted by SOLOMON D. BAYLESS, P.G.M. and proxy for M. H. RICE, G.M.  June 14, 1869, the Lodge held its first election, which resulted in the choice of the following officers:  T. M. ANDREWS, W.M.;  G. W. HAND, S.W.;  W. W. SHOAF, J.W.;  J. O. BEARDSLEY, Treasurer;  F. C. BACON, Secretary;  J. SHRYOCK, S.D.;  B. MORRIS, J.D.;  WILLIAM S. FLEMMING and N. FITSIMMON, Stewards;  M. N. DUNTEN, Tiler.  These officers were publicly installed June 24, 1869, by P.G.M., SOLOMON BAYLESS,  and an address was delivered by J. STONER.

 

The Lodge meetings were held in the upper story of F. C. BACON’S dwelling at Huntertown until November 13, 1869 when they were removed to a new and commodious hall on the opposite side of the street, which was dedicated to Masonry on the evening of that day, by P.G.M. SOLOMON BAYLESS, assisted by members of neighboring Lodges.  On that occasion the wives and sisters of the members presented the Lodge with a beautiful chandelier, and a very fine Bible was presented by P.G.M. SOLOMON BAYLESS, in behalf of the Brethren of Fort Wayne.  The Lodge and its visitors were then adjourned to the banquet prepared for them at the hotel.

 

It is now in good working order and financially prosperous.  The officers for 1879 are as follows:  S. A. THORNTON, W.M.;  J. SICKLER, S.W.;  W. W. SHOAF, Treasurer;  J. SHRYOCK, Secretary;  E. SICKLER, S.D.;  W. I. WORK, J.D.;  A. WATTERS and D. BAIRD, Stewards;  W. CAREY, Tiler. 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 From HISTORY OF ALLEN COUNTY, INDIANA, by Thomas B. Helms, with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers.  Township histories compiled by L. H. Newton.  Reprint of 1880 edition published by Kingman Bros., Chicago

 

 EEL RIVER TOWNSHIP HISTORY

 

LOCATION AND BOUNDARY – Eel River is the northwestern township of Allen County,  and comprises Congregational Township 32 north, of Range 11 east.  It is bounded on the north by Noble County, south by Washington and Lake Townships, west by Whitley County, and has an area of 35.16 square miles. 

 

NATURAL FEATURES – The soil is clay, intermixed with sand, black loam and peat.  It is watered by Eel River which flows through the southern part of the township;  Blue Grass Creek, which has its source in the northwestern part, and flows south, joining Eel River near Heller’s Corners;  and Willow Creek, which flows through the northeast corner, joining Cedar Creek in Perry Township.  The township is covered with a heavy growth of timber, embracing in its variety, white oak, burr oak, walnut, ash, beech, elm, poplar, hickory, etc.

 

EARLY SETTLEMENT – In 1828, JOSPEH CROW, WILLIAM KELLISON AND ______ KELLISON, from Darke County, Ohio, settled on Section 82, the present site of the GEESEKING farm.  Here they erected cabins and cleared small portions of land.  They remained but a few years, finally removing further west. 

 

ADAM HULL, SR. from Shelby County, Ohio, came to the township in December 1830, and purchased the land of William Kellison, upon which there was a log cabin.  The tract contained 40 acres, and it was thought the cabin was within the boundary line of that farm;  but when an accurate survey was made, Mr. Hull found that he was living “beyond the lines” and accordingly purchased the 40 acre tract adjoining his own. 

 

In 1834, JOSEPH JOHNSTON and JOHN R. JOHNSTON, natives of Ohio, settled on Sections 21 and 28 respectively.

 

In June, 1835, JOHN VALENTINE came from Ohio, and settled on Section 33, where his son, JACKSON, now resides.  The father resided in the township until his death;  his wife survives him, and now lives on the old homestead with her son.

 

On the 6th of February, 1836, JOHN P. SHOAFF came from Miami County, Ohio, and settled on Section 13, where he still resides.  A few weeks subsequent to his arrival, F. C. FREEMAN, SAMUEL HILLEGASS, SAMUEL SHRYOCK, BENJAMIN MASON, JOSPEH JONES, WILLIAM F. MOONEY, HENRY BOSLER, AND SAMUEL KNISS, settled in the eastern part of the township and in September of the same year, ABRAM TAYLOR from Cuyahoga County, Ohio, settled on Section 29, where he resided until death.  The farm is now owned by his son, JOHN M. TAYLOR, the present Treasurer of Allen County.  Later in the same year (1836) GEORGE GREENWELL and WILLIAM ANDERSON settled in the eastern part of the township.

 

Between 1837 and 1840, came R. D. BAIRD, SOLOMON BENNETT, JOHN BENNETT, WILLIAM BENNETT, CALEB BENNETT, JOHN MCKEE, STEPHEN HATHAWAY, ________ SHILLING, JOHN R. MAYO and WILLIAM MADDEN.

 

EARLY EVENTS

 

THE FIRST ROAD – In 1834, ADAM HULL assisted by some neighbors, cut a road from Heller’s Corners to the east line of the township.  It was never “viewed” and was located at random, and later surveys have caused its course to be so often changed that few traces of it now remain. 

 

THE FIRST DEATH – Late in the fall of 1832, a stranger traveling on foot, sought the house of ADAM HULL and asked for lodging and food.  He was taken in, and, during the night, he arose from his bed and walked toward the door, where he was seized with convulsions and died next morning.  A few weeks subsequently, a family of emigrants by the name of Fosdick stopped for the night with Mr. Hull, and it was ascertained that several of their children were suffering with scarlet fever.  During the night, one child died, and two days later, was followed by another.  These children and the stranger previously alluded to, were buried on the south side of Eel River, in ground which was afterward consecrated for cemetery purposes.

 

THE FIRST MARRIAGE – About Christmas season, 1833, SQUIRE DU BOIS was called from Fort Wayne to perform the ceremony of uniting two young hearts in the sacred ties of matrimony.  The wedding took place at the residence of ADAM HULL, his daughter, BARBARA and ISAAC TIBBETS being the contracting parties. 

 

THE FIRST SCHOOL – was taught in a cabin erected for that purpose in 1837 on the farm now owned by JOHN R. MAYO.  It was built almost entirely of hickory logs, and from this fact, received the appellation of the “Hickory Schoolhouse.”  Among its surviving scholars are THOMAS AND WILLIAM MCKEE, JOHN TAYLOR, and his sister, MRS. ALTHA HULL.

 

THE FIRST STOCK OF MERCHANDISE was opened in 1838, by JOSEPH JONES, at his own house, on the land now known as the CHARLES HANNA farm.

 

THE FIRST BLACKSMITH SHOP was conducted by HENRY BOSLER, who started the fires of his forge soon after his arrival in the township.  (1836)

 

THE FIRST SAW-MILL was erected by SMITH & DIFFENDERFER, in 1852.  It was situated on the bank of Eel River, from which it received its motive power.  The general desire for better residences than the log houses, created a demand for sawed lumber, and the mill proved a pro-fitable investment to its proprietors.  It was operated successfully for a number of years, but was finally suffered to go to decay.  In 1855, PETER HELLER erected a steam grist-mill near the saw-mill of Smith and Diffenderfer.  He operated it successfully for several years, when it was destroyed by fire and never rebuilt.

 

THE FIRST POST OFFICE was established in 1834, and ADAM HULL appointed Postmaster.  He held the position until his death, which occurred September 1, _______.  PETER HELLER  was appointed his successor, and removed the office to his house, when it received the name of Heller’s Corner Post Office.  In 1862, the office was removed to Wesley Chapel.

 

THE FIRST ELECTION was held in 1836.  ADAM HULL and MR. BOND were can-didates for the office of Justice of the Peace, and the votes in favor of each candidate were found, when counted, to be equal in number.  To spare the expense consequent upon another election, the candidates mutually agreed that the ballots should be placed in a hat, and the Judge be requested to draw one ticket from the number, the name it bore to indicate the successful competitor.  The ticket was drawn accord-ingly, and the name it bore was that of ADAM HULL, who was duly qual-fied as the first Justice of the Peace in the township.

 

CHURCHES

 

METHODIST EPISCOPAL – In the winter of 1837 and 1838, a class was organized at the home of JOHN MCKEE, with 10 members.  JOHN BENNETT was appointed class leader.  They then had no pastor, but were visited occasionally by REV. JAMES ROSS, by whom services were conducted.  In 1843 they erected a hewed-log house opposite the present site of Wesley Chapel and consecrated it as a house of worship; and from that date, they received the visitation of a pastor every alternate Sunday.  The congregation increased and in 1865, they erected a frame church at JOHNSTON AND MCKEE CORNERS.  The following is 40 x 60 feet, and cost $2,500.  It was dedicated by S. N. CAMPBELL, February 18, 1866.  The present church membership is 80.  REV. D. P. HARTMAN is the present pastor.  The Church officers are as follows:  A. W. ROBINSON and S. K. WATERSON, stewards;  HENRY DICE, ISRAEL HOLLOPETER and S. K. WATERSON were class leaders. 

 

BAPTIST – The Baptist Church in this township was organized by ELDER WEDGE, on the 21st day of December 1844.  At the first regular meeting, January 25, 1845, APPLETON RICH was chosen Deacon, and JOHN ROSS, Clerk.  On the 16th of May, 1846, REV. A. S. BINGHAM was chosen Pastor, and stood in that relation until ill health and the infirmities of age compelled his resignation – a period of more than 25 years.  He died in June 1876.  April 15, 1848, JOHN ROSS, JACOB DIFFENDERFER and SAMPSON JACKSON were elected the first trustees of the Church, and 3 days later, JACOB DIFFENDERFER, APPLETON RICH, and JOHN J. SAVAGE were elected as a building committee.  In 1850, a frame house of worship was erected near Heller’s Corners, and dedicated on the 28th day of September of the same year.  The building was 21 x 30 feet, and cost $600.  In 1878 the congregation built a substantial brick edifice, adjacent to the old building.  The present church is 38 x 58 feet and was built at a cost of $1,400.  It was dedicated August 25, 1878, by REV. RIDER.  Connected with the Church is a well-organized Sunday school, having more than 100 scholars enrolled.  CHARLES LIPES is the present Superintendent. 

 

GERMAN BAPTIST – In 1874, 28 members of this denomination withdrew from the Cedar Creek Church, for the purpose of organizing in Eel River Township.  JEREMIAH GUMP was chosen Pastor, and still serves in that capacity.  In 1875, they built a frame church, 36 x 50 feet on Section 9, at a cost of $1,500.  The number of members at present is 50.  CYRUS WILLIAMS, WILLIAM RINEHOLD, GEORGE BOSLER, AND NATHAN JOHNSON, Deacons.

 

WESLEYAN METHODIST – The Wesleyan Methodist Church in this township was constituted by those who were formerly attached to the United Brethren Church.  The latter denomination, organized in 1853, with a class of 10 members and moved harmoniously for a number of years.  In 1860 they erected a frame church in the west part of the township, at the cost of $700.  Here they held regular services and their membership increased until 1874;  then a number of their members embraced the doctrine of sanctification, but were unable to secure the sympathy or co-operation of their Pastor.  The majority of the congregation embraced the doctrine, and the position taken by the Pastor caused a disaffection, which grew until the members who held those views, withdrew, and organized the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  Soon after this, meetings at the United Brethren Church were discontinued and the organization ceased to exist.   On the 10th day of May, 1878, the Wesleyan Methodists purchased the church building from the Trustees of the old organization, paying them $200.  The organization now has 10 members.  WILLIAM KENNEDY, Pastor, WILLIAM MCCORMICK, Class-Leader and Steward. 

 

CHURCH OF GOD – In February, 1875, a Church of this denomination was organized at Potter’s Station, with 10 constituent members.  REV. JOHN PARKER was the first Pastor;  L. BOWMAN, Elder, ELAM DISLER, Deacon.  In the spring of 1876, they build a house of worship, 40 x 52 feet at a cost of $1,360.  It was dedicated May 12, 1876, by REV. MRS. MCCAULEY, and christened “Ari Chapel”.  The present number of members is 15.  REV. OBER is the present Pastor;  ELAM DISLER, and L. BOWMAN, Deacon.  Mr. Bowman is also Superintendent of the Sunday school, which has an enrollment of 50 scholars.

 

CONCLUSION

 

This township stands highly as a productive locality, and has a history – civil and military – which will compare favorably with any region of the county and of which her citizens may be proud.  HON. JOHN P. SHOAFF was elected Justice of the Peace in 1837.  Trustee in 1842 and Representative in the State Legislature in 1862 and was re-elected in 1864 and 1866. 

 

JOHN M. TAYLOR, a resident of this township, was the successful candi-date for Treasurer of Allen County at the last election, and is now serving in that capacity.  During the late war, this township furnished a full quota of soldiers – twice clearing herself from the draft;  and at one time, it is said, scarcely a man of military age remained in the township.    

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From B. J. Griswold,  THE PICTORIAL HISTORY OF FORT WAYNE, INDIANA and THE STORY OF THE TOWNSHIPS OF ALLEN COUNTY, by Mrs. Samuel R. Taylor, Chicago, Robert O. Law Company, 1917

 

HISTORY OF EEL RIVER TOWNSHIP

 

          “Once this soft turf, this rivulet’s sands

                   Were trampled by a hurrying crowd,

           And fiery hearts and armed hands

                   Encountered in a battle cloud.”   Bryant

 

What quaint conceit was responsible for the name bestowed upon the little river that winds through the extreme northwest of the county may only be conjectured, but the name is appropriately applied to Eel River township since the stream finds its source there.  Blue Grass Creek also begins in the northwestern part, and flowing south joins Eel River to the southwest of Heller’s Corners;  but modern drainage has reconstructed this stream and its pretty name is lost in a series of ditches bearing their petitioners’ names.  Willow Creek, which drains the northeastern portion, then meanders eastward, eventually emptying into Cedar Creek, has likewise been assisted, but not so ruinously as Blue Grass – for it retains its name in places.  However the hand of the white settler does really “improve” and often serves to develop hidden natural beauties.  This is true of Eel River township, in which red man nor white man could have foreseen certain features of the present landscape through the dense timber which clothed it a hundred years ago.  Allen County holds no prettier sight, today, than the meeting of the ways at “Old” Heller’s Corners – nor is the new Heller’s Corners far behind it in attraction.

 

The first white settlers to enter the Eel River territory after the departure of the Indians were WILLIAM KELLISON and his brother, and JOSEPH CROWE, from Darke County, Ohio.  The Kellison brothers, coming in 1828, had erected cabins and set to work clearing land on what long afterward became widely known as the GIESEKING farm.  Lonely and isolated, and at that period probably obliged to hunt and trap for most of their food, they did not make rapid progress at their clearing, and were quite ready when ADAM HULL and family arrived in 1830, to sell out their “deadenings” to him, and betake themselves farther west.  ADAM HULL was of true pioneer material – not the merely adventurous spirit, but the hardy giant who delights to pit his strength against opposing circumstance and subdue it to his will, -- the type of man who invariably becomes a leader in his world.  That he became well known throughout the county was a matter of course.  The rough sports which characterized those days when the pioneers met in the market town witnessed many a good-natured wrestling bout in which Adam Hull proved unconquerable.  One of Mr. Hull’s first moves after settling was to build a much needed bridge across Eel River, the first bridge to span that stream.   He exacted a reasonable toll from those who crossed it, to which quite unreasonable objection was sometimes made by travelers who wished to enjoy its convenience.  Perhaps Mr. Hull’s prowess at personal encounter was an invisible safeguard, for, in spite of this grumbling, “Horatio held the bridge!”   At the same time, his cabin (mayhap enlarged) became a shelter to many homeseekers westward bound, so, the student of early history may be assured, it was no lack of generosity or human kindliness which demanded a trifling toll for the useful bridge which carried so many “safe across.”  The Hulls gave shelter when it was at the risk of their own family that they gave it.  The first death which occurred in the township was that of a wayfarer who slept in the cabin, was seized with illness in the night, and died as morning came.  Nameless he came to their door, and nameless they buried him, in the old burying ground on the south side of Eel River.

 

Shortly after this pitiful event, a west-bound family stopped at the Hull cabin for shelter, their children having developed scarlet fever.  The extremely contagious nature of the disease was not fully realized at that date, nevertheless, it is evidence of the Good Samaritan spirit of the first settler’s family that room was made in that crowded log cabin home for the suffering children, two of whom died there, and were buried with the wayfaring stranger in that strange new land.

 

When the final survey was made a few years after settling, it was determined that the Hull cabin was “over the line,” a situation which Mr. Hull promptly remedied by buying the next forty acres, thus saving his home.

 

PETER HELLER, recorded in 1833, was the first sharer of the neighborhood with the Hulls.  During the year following, quite a colony had gathered to the south of the Goshen road, and in 1834, with these neighbors to help, MR. HULL cut a road through from Heller’s Corners east to the township line – the first highway in Eel River.  This road, not being regularly surveyed, was subjected to many changes as time passed, so that but few traces of it are embodied in the re-located highway of today – but it served its purpose then, none the less.  At Christmas season, in 1833, SQUIRE DUBOIS had been called from Fort Wayne to the Hull’s home, to officiate the marriage of MISS BARBARA HULL to ISAAC TIBBITS, there being no local “squire” as yet, in Eel River.  This was the first wedding in the settlement. 

 

The year 1834 brought more sturdy pioneer stock to the settlement.  JOSEPH and JOHN R. JOHNSTON and JOHN VALENTINE, settling respectively on sections 21, 28, and 33, had arrived by mid-June of that year.  1836 witnessed another inrush of settlers, this time in the eastern portion, in the Lima Road vicinity, JOHN P. SHOAFF, who in later years became successively Justice, Trustee, and State Representative, being one of this group.   Up to 1840 at least, as far as is known, Eel River township recruited its pioneer population from Ohio entirely, those who came with Mr. Shoaff being F. C. FREEMAN, SAMUEL HILLEGASS, SAMUEL SHRYOCK, BENJAMIN MASON, JOSEPH JONES, HENRY BOSSLER and SAMUEL KNISS.   Others had drifted in singly, and by April of 1834, the population justified the setting apart of the township.  The first election was held duly, with MR. HULL and MR. BOND in the field as candidates for the office of Justice.  The votes were counted and a tie was announced.  To avoid the expense of a second election, both candidates consented to have the ballots placed in a hat, and well shaken, the election judge then to draw at random the lucky name.  This was done, and MR. HULL won, duly qualifying as the first Justice of Eel River.  Previous to this, MR. HULL had been appointed postmaster, a position he continued to hold until his death in 1837.  After the election of 1836, ABRAM TAYLOR, father of JOHN M. TAYLOR, came to the Hull neighborhood, while WILLIAM ANDERSON settled in the southeast.  WILLIAM F. MOONEY and URIAH CHASE took up residence in 1837 and between 1837 and 1840 were added with their families, R. D. BAIRD, the three BENNETTS, SOLOMON, CALEB and JOHN, JOHN HATHAWAY, MR. SCHILLING, JOHN R. MAYO and WILLIAM MADDEN. 

 

On Mr. Mayo’s land, in 1837, was built the cabin known as the “Hickory school-house”—it being constructed chiefly of hickory logs –-in which the first term of school was taught.  The name of that first teacher is forgotten, but JOHN M. TAYLOR, once Treasurer of Allen County, was a pupil there. 

 

PETER HELLER, who succeeded ADAM HULL in the post office, removed that institution to his own home, and from the soubriquet the office thus gained the locality, the rural metropolis of Eel River took its name “Heller’s Corners.”  A village designed to be called “Kraco” or Cracon was platted in 1835 by ASA MILLER, on land which lay on both sides of the Lake township boundary.  Its main street was to be not 32 feet narrow, like some city streets, but 132 feet broad.  In the center of the plot MR. MILLER reserved a circular park to bear his name.  What a pity so amiable a conception should have failed to materialize!

 

HENRY BOSSLER was a skillful blacksmith, and his forge, the first in Eel River, was set up soon after he arrived in 1836.  JOSEPH JONES, who occupied the farm which afterward became the property of CHARLES HANNA, brought the first stock of general merchandise to the township, and opened trade in his own house.  About 1852, a sawmill was built on the Eel River, by SMITH and DIFFENDERFER, which supplied lumber for the frame houses that began to supplant log cabins.  Its business was of a local character, however, and local needs once supplied, custom fell off gradually, and the mill was allowed to decay in idleness.  PETER HELLER built a steam grist mill near the same site, in 1855, and for several years operated it successfully, but it was at last destroyed by fire, and not rebuilt.  Except for the railroad which cuts across the northwestern corner of the township, the quiet of Eel River township is not broken by any sound of steam save that of harvest engines, but its painted landscape is everywhere astir with rural life, and its ribbon-like roads are beloved of the automobile whether visiting or resident there. 

 

ADAM HULL, JR. was a pioneer figure worthy of preservation.  A young man nearing twenty years of age when he came to the township with his father, he worked shoulder to shoulder with him, earning his own way to independence.  Like his father, he was a born pioneer, and the long struggle by which his original capital of “a five franc piece, a fiddle and a gun” was converted into solid prosperity was thoroughly enjoyed by him.  He was married in 1836, to MISS ELIZABETH CROWE but whether before or after the election of April that year, when MR. HULL, SR., was made Justice and the younger ADAM elected Constable over what are now three counties, we do not know.   But he bought a government tract, cleared it, and built a log cabin on it before he took his young wife to live upon it.  ELIZABETH HULL died early, but left a son, the third “ADAM”.  Her husband married again, in 1845, to MISS HESTER ANN STREAN, and seven sons and daughters survived him.  At the time of his death he had for some time been the oldest township settler living. 

 

Much might be said of the quality of the “Ohio” colony which peopled Eel River township.  Certainly there could not have been found a more evenly sterling set of citizens than the personnel of this group of pioneers.  Not one of them is there of whom some fine thing cannot be said.  They did not come armed with wealth to fight their battles.  The only capital any of them brought with them was a few slow-saved hundreds, and most of them came with only the riches of clean health and stout hearts, fortunate if to these they could add a yoke of oxen, a table and a half dozen wooden chairs, and the necessary implements of their trades.  Quaint, amusing and pathetic are the mementoes of the log cabin days that descendants still treasure, and around which the great-grandchildren might build again the romances of their fore-bears, --ADAM HULL’S old Virginia rifle, ADAM, JR’S tax receipts (the unbroken accumulation of more than 60 years), the old clock of GRANDFATHER HYNDMAN, and a host of things rude and homely, perhaps, but priceless to those who appreciate to what scenes they must have been mute witnesses. 

 

Little is told of the early schools except indirectly.  Yet they must have been fully up to the pioneer mark, for we find in following the life story of different pioneer families, the names of such early teachers as ELIJAH ROBINSON, MARY T. SMITH, GEORGE W. DOANE, G. W. HUTCHELL, and MISS NANCY GRISWOLD who were thorough enough to turn out good teachers of their own training, as in the case of DAVID, son of JOHN R. JOHNSTON.   The intermediate history of school development need not be told.  At the present date, Eel River is abreast of the times, with nine school houses, aggregating $16,000 in value, and a school year of 150 days taught.  Recent school enumeration gives the township 351, while the school enroll-ment is 215, and an average daily attendance of 177 pupils.  Twenty-one pupils were graduated from the Eighth grade in 1916.  The township and school library began the year with 884 volumes, to which were added 113 volumes during the year.  Without going into detailed financial statement, three items may be included here, the year 1915-16 being taken as a basis:  For teachers’ salaries, $3,774.00;  for general “upkeep” expenses, $809.94;  cost of education per capita, $21.32.  There are no high schools in the township, nor parochial schools.

 

Eel River settlers were characterized by a general and genuine observance of religion chiefly as expressed in the denominations represented in the church edifices which have dotted the district for many years.  The Methodist Episcopal, the Wesleyan Methodist, the Baptist and the German Baptist, also the Church of God, have all had strong following, locally, the Wesleyan Chapel congregation growing out of a group formerly affiliated with the United Brethren, who have also arrived at the strength of an independent congregation.  The Methodist Episcopal is the oldest organization in the township, dating from 1834. 

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Waterways were key to Eel River Township’s early settlement

 

          Eel River Township was noted for its waterways as the first road disappeared early after continuous rerouting. In addition to Eel River, Blue Grass Creek and Cedar Creek flow through the township;

          In 1828, Joseph Crow and William Kellison from Darke County, Ohio, settled in Section 32, but moved west soon after.

          Adam Hull Sr., from Shelby County, Ohio, came to the township in December 1830. Other early settlers were Joseph and John R. Johnston, John Valentine, John P. Shoaff, Samuel Hillegass, F.C. Shryock, Benjamin Mason and William F. Mooney.

 

          Late in the fall of 1832, a stranger, traveling on foot, sought the house of Adam Hull and asked for the night’s lodging and food.. He was taken in and during the night he got out of bed and walked toward the door. He was seized with convulsions and died the next morning. This was the first death in the township.

          About Christmas in 1833, Squire DuBois was called from Fort Wayne to perform the first wedding in the township. The ceremony took place in the home of Adam Hull for his daughter, Barbara, and Isaac Tibbets.

          The first school was taught in a cabin erected in 1838 on the farm of John B. Mayo. It was built almost entirely of hickory logs and from this fact received the name, “Hickory Schoolhouse.”

          Joseph Jones opened the first store in 1838.

          The first post office was established in 1836. Adam Hull was postmaster, Peter Heller was his successor and moved the office to his home where it was known as “Heller’s Corner Post Office.

          The first election in 1836 ended in a tie between Adam Hull and Mr. Bond for the office of Justice of the Peace. To spare the expense of another election, the candidates mutually agreed that the ballots should be placed in a hat. One ticket was drawn to name the winner, Adam Hull.

          John P. Shoaff served the community as Justice of the Peace and later as State Representative.

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HUNTERTOWN HISTORY WRITTEN PROB FROM LIBRARY HISTORY BOOKS:

Don’t know the author and it is prob. all found in other places but will type it as it is a simple history to look at and may have some information not found other places.

Dates do not indicate birthday, but date they came to Perry Township. 

THOMAS & EPHRAIM DUNTEN

HORACE F. DUNTEN             Uncle 

LUCINDA DUNTEN                Father Thomas Dunten

EBENEZER AYRES                  Early School Teacher

HORACE F. DUNTEN             10 children, 8 of them teachers

THOMAS & HORACE              Founded Cemetery site

ALBERT WOOD                       1833,  married NANCY DUNTEN, daughter of Ephraim

                                                Dunten, Sr.

MARY JANE WOOD                 First white child born

NATHANIEL FITCH                1832, Allen Co., 1836 Perry Twp., married SARAH DELONG

                                                Their marriage was the first celebrated after the organization

                                                Of the township.

NATHANIEL FITCH                Blacksmith 1837

JAMES VANDERGRIFT           Blacksmith, manufactured plow points and steel traps

BENJAMIN & AMAZIAH PARTKER    Followed the Duntens in 1834

MR. & MRS. JASON HATCH   Son, NEWMAN HATCH, 1834

NEWMAN HATCH married ABIGAIL PARKER, 1839

PHILEMON RUNDELS           1836 or 1839??

GEORGE SIMON                     1836

JAMES VANDOLAH                1836

WILLIAM HUNTER                 1837     Purchased large tract of land which was platted as

                                                Huntertown.

BOWSERS

TUCKERS

GLOYDS

JAMES THOMPSON

ISAAC BENWARD

RAPIN ANDREWS

JACOB HILLEGASS

VACHEL METCALF

DR. E. G. WHEELOCK             First physician

AUGUST MARTIN

SAMUEL SHRYOCK

First Election                            1835 at WILLIAM CASWELL’s house

EPHRAIM H. DUNTEN, JR.    Built first store room in Huntertown;  Built first tavern

                                                beside store room.

WILLIAM CASWELL               Inspector, Justice of the Peace

JASON HATCH                        Justice of the Peace

First Post Office                        1836-1840 in the home of CHARLES WEEKS.  Moved to

                                                William Hunter residence in 1840.

WILLIAM HUNTER                 Postmaster

Lot Cabin School                       1835

First teacher                             Ebenezer Ayres??  Caswell School??

                                                Eliza Parker (father was Benjamin Parker)

ELIZA PARKER                       First teacher at Parker School House #3

                                                (in histories she was listed as first teacher in township)

First Mill                                  By BLAIR & HINES

SAMUEL SHRYOCK                Bought it in 1836

JOHN STONER                       Sold to John Stoner in 1851-1852 and became known as

                                                Stoner’s Mills.

THOMAS & NEPHEW, HORACE F. DUNTEN            1834-1835 

                                                Planted orchards;  the first planted in the township

First Road Surveyed from Fort Wayne to the Union Mill

                                                Opened in 1835;  1849 it was planked

NICKERSON                            Methodist exhorter held first religious services in Perry

                                                Township.  Place of worship was the house of Horace

                                                Dunten in the year 1834.

REV. MR. RANKIN                  1834, in a log cabin near Huntertown services held by Rev.

                                                Mr. Rankin a Presbyterian minister from Fort Wayne.

Methodists organized                 1836.   First to organize and first to build a church in 1846 in

                                                Huntertown.

Robinson Chapel                       Second building of the same denomination (Methodists) in

                                                1851.  Land for the chapel and cemetery was donated by

                                                ANDREW BYERS.

2nd School opened                      1837, in a log cabin on Section 8 by Matthew Montgomery

MATTHEW MONTGOMERY    1846, was a candidate on Whig ticket for St. Representative

PETER KISER

JAMES VANDOLAH                1832, Mill site near Cedar Creek, 1835; 1836 family comes

                                                From Ohio;  520 acres in Perry;  400 acres in Eel River;

                                                Quarter section in DeKalb Co.  Was an expert millwright.

 

                                                He built the Shryock Mill at Leo;  the Dawson Mill at

                                                Spencerville;  grits mill near Clarksville.  He was a town-

                                                ship trustee.  Had 8 children;  5 of whom survived the

                                                parents. 

BENJAMIN VANDOLAH         Was 3 years old when brought to Indiana and spent his whole

                                                Life on the same farm.   Indian relics found on their soil.

THOMAS VANDOLAH             Second son

SOLOMON SIMON                  (born 1825) Came to Perry township age 12, 1836

GEORGE SIMON                     died in 1872;  1836 settled in Perry township

SOLOMON SIMON                  married MARY A. RHOADS in 1852 from DeKalb Co.

                                                Prosperity came as trade in coon skins and furs.  They were

                                                Members of the old Lutheran church and an elder.  They had

                                                7 sons and daughters.

JOHN SURFUS                       age 21 (age 30?) married ELLEN DELONG.  They had 12

                                                Children, 10 of whom survived them. 

NATHANIEL FITCH                Blacksmith, gunsmith & and locksmith.

                                                He made all the iron used in the locks for the canal from Ft.

                                                Wayne to the Wabash River.  Married in 1840 to SARAH,

                                                Daughter of GEORGE & ELIZABETH DELONG.  They had

                                                15 children, 13 who outlived their parents.  2300 acres

                                                belonged to the Fitches

INDIAN CHIEF CHOPINE

PERRY FITCH                         was the eldest;  married SARAH E. dau. of

                                                GEORGE & MAGDALENA GLOYD and reared 8 of their 12

                                                Children.

PERRY FITCH                         was 12 years the Justice of the Peace

MATTHIAS FITCH                  Nathaniel’s second son married FRANCES, daughter of

                                                JAMES & REBECCA VANDOLAH.  6 children to adult age.

AMOS FITCH                           Nathaniel’s son, married NANCY E. daughter of WILLIAM T.

                                                & JANE HUNTER.  Family consisting of 1 son and 1 dau.

                                                (Actually that is an error;  they had 1 son and 3 daughters)

DAVID FITCH              Nathaniel’s son, the youngest of the sons, married EMMA B.

                                                STIRLEN

GEORGE B. GLOYD                 1832, Superintendent of the part of the construction work on

                                                The Wabash and Erie Canal.  He was married to MADELINE

                                                MITTLER of Ohio in 1835.  He had various contracts in rail-

                                                Road building and was in engaged in work on the Saginaw

                                                Railroad.  (Now the L.S. & M.S.).  They had 8 children.

JEROME D. GLOYD                 Married in 1875 to FIDELIA, daughter of NATHANIEL &

                                                SARAH FITCH.  They had 4 children.  He served as a town-

                                                ship trustee.  Was elected commissioner in 1882;  re-elected

                                                in 1884.  Served 6 years total. 

WILLIAM S. GLOYD                (Third son) married MARY GUNDER

EDWIN G. GLOYD                   Became an expert miller and proprietor of the Gloyd Water

                                                Mill.  (Originally the Vandolah Mill)

SCHUYLER WHEELER

LUTHER BRIGGS

LYDIA SMITH WHEELER

DAVID SHOAFF                      Married MARY MENDENHALL

 

                                                Salt sold in Fort Wayne at $9 a bushel in 1840.  Wages were

                                                50 cents a day in 1840.

JAMES P. SHOAFF

F. C. FREEMAN                       (March)

DAVID SHOAFF                      1843 David Shoaff helped build the houses of his brothers,

                                                J. P. SHOAFF and SQUIRE JONES.  They were the first

                                                Houses between his home and Heller’s Corners on that road

                                                Which Adam Hull and his neighbors helped cut. 

RAPIN ANDREWS

            &

DAVID SHOAFF                      Were 2 of the 11 voters in the township to cast a vote for the

                                                First presidential election held there.  DAVID was a Whig.

RAPIN ANDREWS                   wife was MARY BRIMMER.  RAPIN  died in 1849 age 67.

THERON M. ANDREWS          oldest son born in New York, March 1822, married in 1849 to

                                                HELEN L. daughter of OLIVER & CLARISSA POTTER, born

                                                1830. 

 

                                                Theron served as township assessor, township trustee,

                                                Member of the board of County Commissioners, County Board

                                                Of Drainage Commissioners, and a member of the Board of

                                                Equalization. 

DEXTER B. ANDREWS            second son of Rapin and Mary Andrews married in 1849,

                                                CELESTE A. SAUERS, born at Watertown, N.Y., Oct. 1832.

                                                Andrews devoted his energies to daguerreotyping. 

Three daughters                       AMELIA (MRS. J. N. BASSET)

                                                CORA M. (MRS. L. C. HUNTER)

                                                CLARA G. 

PHANUEL JACKSON              Came from Maine with sister and husband.   He was a

                                                Self-taught practitioner.  Also an oculist, becoming a licensed

                                                Physician of Allen Co.

SISTER NANCY &

ELEAZER CUMMINGS            Sister and brother-in-law of Phanuel.  Came together.

PHANUEL JACKSON              Elected Justice of the Peace in 1886.  Had 3 daughters

                                                MERCY M., MARGARET D., & MELIA N.   A fourth

                                                CORDELIA M. died. 

JOSEPH WARNER                   1842, son of SAMUEL WARNER

SAMUEL WARNER                  married JULIA A. SPENCER.  They had 7 children.

                                                Samuel was a member of the Regulators, an organization

                                                Formed to rid the county of outlaws.  Also belonging to the

                                                Regulators were DAVID & MATHIAS FITCH, JACOB KELL

                                                ( whose sister was Phanuel Jackson)  prob. meant wife of

JACOB KELL                           Franco-German descent, came in 1843.  Regulator and served

                                                As township trustee 4 years. Kell earned money to furnish

                                                House by splitting rails at 75 cents per 100. 

SOLOMON KELL                    Educated at Perry Center Seminary.  He taught there for 5

                                                Years.  Was a constable and Regulator.

JACOB HILLEGAS                   1843,  married in 1841 LUCY A. POWELL.

                                                JOSIAH, ISAIAH & JEREMIAH  (lawyers)

JEREMIAH HILLEGAS            County Superintendent of Schools

HEZEKIAH HILLEGAS            Was a farmer;  had daughters:  SARAH, MARY & LUCY

SARAH HILLEGAS                  married JOHN STAHL, who was her brother’s law partner)

                                                He died in 1878

MARY HILLEGAS                    married SILAS B. MACMANUS, dialect poet

PERRY CENTRE SEMINARY   1856, founded by NATHANIEL FITCH, JACOB

                                                            KELL & GEORGE B. GLOYD.  Attending the

                                                            School were:

HILLEGAS BOYS

DR. S. C. METCALF

DR. E. G. WHEELOCK, JR.

3 GLOYDS, JEROME, WILLIAM & ALBERT

THE McQUISTONS

DR. DELLS of Fort Wayne

HIRAM MYERS

JENNIE FITCH, professor of Greek and Latin at Logansport

 

                                                At the breaking out of the Civil War students enlisted and

                                                school soon became no longer in existence except in the lives

                                                of its people.

WILLIAM HUNTER                 Came from England in 1828, settled in Perry Township in

                                                1837 on the Lima Road.  He cleared a farm at the same time

                                                and conducted a tavern in his home.

 

                                                The “Opening” as it was called  ………… no more written, but

                                                assume it was going to say they named it Huntertown after

                                                William T. Hunter. 

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