With respect to burial information in Porter County, the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society's cemetery indices provide a wealth of information. The Society's index of Portage Township cemeteries, published in 1995, includes this statement concerning Crisman Cemetery:
Benjamin & Elizabeth (Baughman) Crisman arrived in Porter Co. in 1850. Their family consisted of Solomon, Isaac, Addison, Oliver, Henry, Milton, Haney, Wesley, Eliza, Jane. While excavating for a service station at the SE corner of US 20 in section 1, stones were found. One stone had I. & J. Crisman and another had Wilbur - Martha children of I & J Crisman. Isaac Crisman was born June 3, 1839 and married Jane White on December 12, 1870.The genealogical society's information was probably gleaned from the following article published in the July 11, 1962, issue of The Vidette-Messenger:
Grave QuestionAbout one week after this story was published, the following column appeared in the July 19 issue of The Vidette-Messenger:
By ROLLIE BERNHART
PORTAGE -- Descendants of Portage pioneers, Isaac and Jane Crisman, are currently mulling over a monumental question involving recently unearthed family gravestones.
The three stones -- a family monument and two headstones – were found by workmen at the southeast corner of U.S. 20 and Crisman road during excavations for a new filling station.
Big question to descendants Mrs. Celia (Crisman) Nealon and her sister, Mrs. Max Wheat, was the locale of the family cemetery.
Both Portage women are of the opinion that the family plot was located north of the spot where the stone were found, in an area north of the former Soule restaurant.
Erected By Pioneers
They feel it is impossible to believe that heavily travelled U.S. 20 could now be running through and desecrating the Crisman family graveyard. "If so," they asked, "how was the law evaded involving desecration of graveyards?"
The monument apparently was erected by pioneers Isaac and Jane Crisman, grandparents of Mrs. Nealon and Mrs. Wheat, in memory of two children, Wilbur and Marta, who died in 1876 of scarlet fever at ages of five and three.
Both the monument and headstones are of unpolished marble and in excellent state of preservation. The headstones bore the names of Wilbur and Marta on top.
Mrs. Nealon, who resides north of the highway on Crisman road, said she and her husband found other tombstone markers of the two children when they acquired their present property 20 years ago. She belives [sic] there was a township graveyard extending north or south of U.S. 20 along Crisman road, which may have become neglected and overgrown with weeds and brush prior to construction of the highway in the middle 1920's.
She said she intends to do some research and checking of records at the courthouse in Valparaiso.
Meanwhile, excavators at the filling station site may turn up more evidence of the possible existence of a graveyard.
Isaac Crisman, son of Ben Crisman, who migrated to the Portage area, was reported to have been the township's first trustee and its first postmaster.
Isaac and Jane resided at 355 Crisman road, south of U.S. 20, now occupied by Glenn Hankinson.
Explanation Offered Crisman Grave MysteryExamination of the factual elements mentioned in these companion articles shows that Celia (Crisman) Nealon believed that the Crisman Cemetery was a township cemetery. It is important to note that the term "township cemetery" has a long established legal meaning in Indiana; today, Indiana Code Title 23, Article 14, Chapter 68 provides the legal authority for the care of cemeteries by township trustees.
By ROLLIE BERNHART
PORTAGE -- Any possibilities of the existence of the pioneer Crisman family cemetery at the southeast corner of U. S. 20 and Crisman road in Portage, were dissipated in a report from Mrs. Celia (Crisman) Nealon today.
The question of the family cemetery being located at the intersection arose after workmen two weeks ago unearthed three family gravestones during excavation for filling station at the corner.
Mrs. Maude Blair, 500 Old Porter road, who knows her early Portage history well, aided Mrs. Nealon and her sister, Mrs. Max Wheat, in clearing up the mystery Wednesday.
Mrs. Blair took Mrs. Nealon to a spot north of U. S. 20. directly south of the present Portage Township School administration building and "positively" identified the section where the township cemetery was located, Mrs. Nealon stated.
It is Mrs. Blair's opinion that members of the pioneer Crisman family are still interred there, even though there are no visible stones or markers. The cemetery is located on a high bank overgrown with trees and thick brush.
The mystery of how the three recently unearthed stones, in Wilbur and Marta, son and daughter of I. and J. Crisman, became buried at Crisman road and U. S. 20, still remains unsolved, Mrs. Nealon said today.
Next, it was thought by Nealon, Wheat, and Blair that the Crisman Cemetery was situated north of U.S. Route 20 along the east side Crisman Road and not at the southeast corner of the intersection of U.S. Route 20 and Crisman Road. Celia Nealon remarked that when she and her husband purchased their property north of U.S. Route 20 around 1942 that they had found on it "other tombstone markers of the two children." Similarly, Maude Blair "'positively' identified" the location of the burial ground, which was north of U.S. Route 20 "on a high bank overgrown with trees and thick brush." A 1948 plat map shows that the location identified by Blair was adjacent to property co-owned at that time by Nealon and Wheat.
The second article concludes with the sentence: "The mystery of how the three recently unearthed stones, in Wilbur and Marta, son and daughter of I. and J. Crisman, became buried at [the southeast intersection of] Crisman road and U. S. 20, still remains unsolved...."
Perhaps the location of the excavated tombstones is not a mystery. It is possible that the tombstones found their way to their discovered location during the construction of U.S. Route 20 in 1930. This particular area is relatively low and somewhat marshy ground and required the installation of a properly engineered drainage system and elevated road bed when U.S. Route 20 was built. The "high bank" where the burial ground was believed to have been situated would have offered a readily available and low cost opportunity for road builders to obtain fill when establishing the road's grade. Thus, heavy earthmoving equipment may have transferred soil, along with the tombstones, from the high bank southward to the location where excavation was taking place in 1962.
Published historical information suggests that maybe this obliterated burial ground should not be referred to as Crisman Cemetery, but rather it should be called the Hunter Cemetery or Field Cemetery. The following short news item appeared in the October 19, 1882, issue of the Porter County Vidette published in Valparaiso:
Fields [sic; Field], who owns the Geo. Hunter farm, refuses to allow any more graves to be dug in the grave yard on his farm and gives notice to have those removed already there. As there is no deed for the lot, his wish will probably he [sic; be] complied with.
Interestingly, despite Oscar Field's notice to have human remains vacated from his property in 1882, the death notice for Elizabeth Crisman published on December 20, 1888, in The Tribune (Chesterton) states that Elizabeth was "buried in the Oscar Field cemetery." Thus, this burial ground was still in use as late as December 1888. Field had died in February of 1888, so area residents continued to use his property for burials while his estate was proceeding through probate.
Perpetual injunction against Oscar and Jane Field, most
likely in reference to burials on their property.
Soon after his birth Oscar moved with his parents to Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, where his mother would pass away when he was a year old. At the age of twelve, Oscar's father died and he would soon travel to Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, with a total of three cents in his possession upon arrival. Oscar reportedly met a farmer in a tavern a few miles west of Milwaukee and, by chance, learned he was a friend of his now-deceased father, Reuben. The farmer offered Field a job at his farm situated thirty miles west of Milwaukee, which Oscar accepted, and there he became a farm hand for several years.
Field's obituary mentions that when still a boy he went to the plains and entered the service of the Overland Stage Company where he would eventually rise to be a superintendent of a division of that firm. He moved to Chicago in 1860 where he purchased Ed Price's livery business. In 1865, Oscar married Mrs. Jennie Stokes, the widow of Charles Stokes. Field's livery business would be completely destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 and he would rebuild his business only to have it destroyed by another fire in 1874. Once again, he would resurrect his business, this time at 165-166 Michigan Avenue, two blocks south of the Chicago River in today's downtown core.
An 1886 published biography of Field remarks that:
For many years he has been one of the largest shippers of racers and fancy stock in the country, enjoying the patronage of many of the largest horse-owners.... Mr. Field is the owner of the well-known stock-farm at Crissman, thirty-two miles from the city. It contains five hundred and fifty acres, and is supplied with large barns for stock with box-stalls, etc., sheds, water, and shade.It is believed that Field purchased the Hunter property in the fall of 1882, which he would name Pleasant View Farm. The following news item appears in the January 11, 1883, issue of the Porter County Vidette and described Oscar Field's real estate investment in Portage Township:
There is located near Crissman Station one of the largest stock farms in this part of the country. Mr. Oscar Field, of Chicago, a large dealer in and breeder of stock, has purchased about 40 acres of land near the above place and laying out considerable money in making it second to none in the country. He has already 50 head of stock on hand, among which are six head of horses valued at $12,000.Not only was Field purchasing real estate, he would also improving it. It is known from a short news item appearing in the October 1, 1884, issue of Chesterton's newspaper, The Tribune, that Field had been investing in repairs and remodeling on his Pleasant View Farms property:
Mr. Oscar Fields [sic], owner of "Pleasant View Farms," has been for several years doing a vast amount of repairing on his farm. At the present writing he is remodling [sic] his dwelling house, which when finished, will look very neat and sensible and add greatly to the value of the farm.
Advertisement for assorted goods and stock at Oscar Field's
Pleasant View Farm located in Portage Township.
Arthur J. Bowser, longtime publisher of the Chesterton Tribune, mentions in the December 24, 1884, issue of his newspaper a visit that Field had at Bowser's newspaper office. Bowser provides a description of Field as follows:
Mr. Oscar Field, of Pleasant View Farm, Crissman, called at our sanctum last Friday [December 19], and when we say that he made us a pleasant call, we will emphasize that remark by adding that he ordered THE TRIBUNE sent to his address for one year, and also left an "ad" which, the way, we call your attention to. In Mr. Field, we found one of those great big-hearted, jovial democrats who are always looking on the bright side of life, eccentric in some things maybe but at the same time full of enthusiasm for the "forlorn hope."Mr. Field was apparently benevolent and kind. The January 1, 1885, issue of The Tribune states in separate news items that:
On the 28th of the present month, Oscar Field, of the Pleasant View Farm also owner of several large livery-barns in Chicago, will give the orphans of the Orphan's Home, of that city a grand sleigh-ride free of cost. Mr. Fields does this every year, and there is not an orphan in the Orphan's Home but what calls him "uncle."
Last week's issue of THE TRIBUNE gave our fellow-townsman, Oscar Field, owner of the Pleasant View Farm, a generous puff. It is not our intention to write the gentleman's biography, which undoubtedly would be very interesting as well as instructive reading. Mr. Field's life has been a very active as well as eventful one. The fire-fiend has twice robbed him of all his wealth. He lost every dollar in the Chicago fire of '71, yet undaunted he strove again adversity and to-day he is the possessor of thousands, which he distributes with lavish hand on his Porter County home. Besides he furnishes scores of men with employment, who are well paid and the proceeds go toward building and happy homes. The needy man, if honest, never was dismissed without receiving pecuniary aid, and in many instances, profitable employment. A visit to his farm will convince the most skeptical sour milk and codfish aristocrat in Porter County that a man of great wealth can be a prince, and yet be respected by all who known him. Mr. Field is fully aware of the fact that there are millions of people on God's green earth besides himself, who are entitled to a chance of becoming independent, consequently he considers it his duty to make business lively so far as lays in his power. To make a long story short, such men make our world a fit place to live in -- they are the levers that move every branch of industry -- their presence in a community causes business to boom, and elects democratic presidents. In this instance the heart is the power that moves the brain.
Less than a year into his term as the postmaster of Crisman, however, a column critical of Field's management of the Crisman post office appeared in the December 23, 1886, issue of The Tribune. The column states that Field had appointed "a bigoted, narrow-minded republican. By his acts he has brought down the displeasure of the major portion of the patrons of the office, regardless of party and is regarded as a nuisance generally. The Crismanites, in their own language say 'they will not be brow-beaten out of the constitutional right of mailing their letters where they please, by this Mr. Cobb,' and say that his attitude toward them compels them to mail their letters on the train. Great complaint comes from Crisman about this Mr. Cobb, and now Postmaster Field, if you have such a critter in your employ, fire him. Yes, fire him for the good of the cause."
Oscar passed away at his Chicago residence located in the Pullman Building on February 12, 1888, and his funeral took place from his home on February 15. He was interred in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery. Oscar had been ill one year prior to his death and he had undergone two surgeries, the second of which reportedly resulted in his death. At his death, Field's estate was estimated to be worth at least $50,000 (or approximately $1.5 million in 2022). Oscar bequeathed his entire estate to his wife, Jennie, and no children are mentioned in his will.
Public sale notice placed by Jennie S. Field for
sale of personal property of Oscar Field at Crisman.
located northeast of the intersection of Crisman Road and U.S Route 20.
CRISMAN, Elizabeth Baughman
Birth: August 16, 1816, in Carroll County, Ohio
Death: December 15, 1888, in Crisman, Porter County, Indiana
Note: Wife of Benjamin G. Crisman; tombstone for Elizabeth (Baughman) Crisman appears in the McCool Cemetery in Portage Township. The following death notice published on December 20, 1888, in The Tribune (Chesterton) for Elizabeth Crisman:
DIED- On Dec 15, Mrs. Elizabeth Crisman, of Typhus fever. The funeral took place on the 17th inst., and the remains buried in the Oscar Field cemetery. Mrs. Crisman was the wife of Benjamin Crisman and was an old settler of Porter county, having come to the county with her husband in 1850. Her home was at Crisman Station.CRISMAN, Martha
Death: December 1876
Note: Daughter of Isaac and Jane (White) Crisman; given name may have been Mertie.
CRISMAN, Wilbur F.
Death: December 1876
Note: Son of Isaac and Jane (White) Crisman; given name may have been spelled as Wilber.
Two children of Isaac and Jane (White) Crisman that lived to adulthood.
Andreas, A. T. 1886. History of Chicago from the Earliest Period to the Present Time. Chicago, Illinois: The A. T. Andreas Company. 875 p. [see pp. 363-364]
Baker, J. David. 1976. The Postal History of Indiana. Volume II. Louisville, Kentucky: Leonard H. Hartmann, Philatelic Bibliopole. 1,061 p. [see p. 920]
Hardesty, A. G. 1876. Illustrated Historical Atlas of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: A. G. Hardesty. 90 p. [see p. 67]
Historical Publishing Company. 1886. Origin, Growth, and Usefulness of the Chicago Board of Trade: Its Leading Members, and Representative Business Men in Other Branches of Trade. New Yok, New York. Historical Publishing Company. 421 p. [see p. 376]
Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society. 1995. Portage Township Cemeteries. Valparaiso, Indiana: Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society.
Porter County Circuit Court. 1887. Will Record, Volume C, October 1886 to December 1896. Valparaiso, Indiana: Porter County Circuit Court. pp. 80-86 [Will Record No. 622].
Stacy-Ray Map Publishers. 1948. Stacy-Ray Farm Plat Book of Porter County, Indiana. Kankakee, Illinois: Stacy-Ray Map Publishers. 21 p.
Newspapers (listed by date of publication)
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; December 7, 1876; Volume 20, Number 49, Page 3, Column 6. Column titled "Joy's Run Items."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; October 19, 1882; Volume 26, Number 42, Page 8, Column 2. Column titled "The County. Joy's Run."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; October 26, 1882; Volume 26, Number 43, Page 5, Column 5. Column titled "Notice To Vacate Burying Ground."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; November 2, 1882; Volume 26, Number 44, Page 5, Column 3. Column titled "Notice To Vacate Burying Ground."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; November 9, 1882; Volume 26, Number 45, Page 5, Column 5. Column titled "Notice To Vacate Burying Ground."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; November 16, 1882; Volume 26, Number 46, Page 4, Column 5. Column titled "Notice. For Sale at Pleasant View Farm."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; November 16, 1882; Volume 26, Number 46, Page 8, Column 6. Column titled "Notice To Vacate Burying Ground."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; November 23, 1882; Volume 26, Number 47, Page 4, Column 5. Column titled "Notice. For Sale at Pleasant View Farm."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; November 23, 1882; Volume 26, Number 47, Page 8, Column 6. Column titled "Notice To Vacate Burying Ground."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; December 21, 1882; Volume 26, Number 51, Page 7, Column 6. Column titled "Notice To Vacate Burying Ground."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; December 28, 1882; Volume 26, Number 52, Page 5, Column 5. Column titled "Notice. For Sale at Pleasant View Farm."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; January 11, 1883; Volume 27, Number 2, Page 5, Column 2.
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; March 1, 1883; Volume 27, Number 9, Page 1, Column 3. Column titled "The County. Joy's Run."
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; June 28, 1883; Volume 27, Number 26, Page 1, Column 4. Column titled "Circuit Court."
The Tribune, Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana; December 24, 1884; Volume 1, Number 39, Page 8, Column 3. Advertisement for Pleasant View Farm.
The Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Cook County, Indiana; July 31, 1887; Volume 47, Page 13, Column 6. Column titled "Business Chances."
The Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; February 13, 1888; Volume 48, Page 3, Column 2. Column titled "The Obituary Record. Oscar Field."
The Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, Cook County, Indiana; February 15, 1888; Volume 16, Number 325, Part I, Page 8, Column 2. Column titled "Deaths."
Daily Journal, Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana; February 16, 1888; Page 8, Column 4. Column titled "Telegraphic Brevities."
The Tribune, Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana; December 20, 1888; Volume 5, Number 36, Page 1, Column 6. Column titled "Newsy Nuggets. Culled From All Sources."
The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; January 28, 1960; Volume 33, Number 174, Page 1, Columns 1-3. Photograph column titled "Portage Corner Brings $75,000."
The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; July 11, 1962; Volume 36, Number 6, Page 1, Columns 1-3 and Page 6, Column 6. Column titled "Grave Question," by Rollie Bernhart.
The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; July 11, 1962; Volume 36, Number 6, Page 1, Columns 2-5. Photograph column titled "Monument(al) Question."
The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; July 19, 1962; Volume 36, Number 13, Page 1, Columns 3-4. Column titled "Explanation Offered In Crisman Grave Mystery," by Rollie Bernhart.
The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; November 3, 1972; Volume 46, Number 106, Page 1, Columns 1-4. Column titled "Last Section of I-94 Opened," by Rollie Bernhart.
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