Thursday, June 11, 2020

Lost Porter County: Hickory Point

Visible on the lower left corner of A. G. Hardesty's 1876 plat map of Porter County's Porter Township is a community labeled Hickory Point. This community's name appears in several early Porter County records and histories. However, similar to Mayville located along the northern banks of the Kankakee River, Lansing in Jackson Township, and Tassinong in Pleasant Township, Hickory Point appears to have slowly faded out of existence as commercial activity shifted elsewhere in the county.

Plat map of the southwest portion of Porter Township
showing the Hickory Point community (Sections 27 and 34).
Source: A. G. Hardesty, 1876.

Geographically, Hickory Point was situated in the southwest quarter of Section 27 and the northwest quarter Section 34 of Porter Township, west of present day Indiana State Road 2. The community extended west into Lake County to about the point of present day Stony Run County Park.

The community was named in reference to a grove of hickory trees in an area that was dominated by prairie. This prairie was originally known as Horseshoe Prairie due to its shape, but the name was shortened to Horse Prairie. According to one early history of Porter County, during the early years Hickory Point served as "a trading point and social center of some importance."

Timothy H. Ball, in 1904, cites the earliest known mention of Hickory Point, which predates the founding Porter County. Ball, probably the most reliable historian of nineteenth century Northwest Indiana, relates the story concerning the tragic death of David Agnew; he writes:
In the course of years, and in any community, as human life is, there will always be some events of more than ordinary sadness. At least two of such events may fittingly be recorded here. The first is the death by freezing of David Agnew, whose wife was a Bryant [Nancy Bryant], on the night of April 4, 1835. As one of the Bryant family making the settlement at Pleasant Grove [located in Cedar Creek Township, Lake County], it fell to his lot to take an ox team from Morgan prairie in Porter county to the new settlement.

The weather had been mild with some rain, and snow and cold were no longer expected; but on that April day there came "a most terrible snowstorm." Circumstances had separated David Agnew with the ox team from the others of the party, but as the storm became very severe Simeon Bryant stopped at Hickory Point, built a fire, and waited for their coming. They came not as expected, and at about four in the afternoon, Simeon Bryant, thinking that Mr. Agnew had concluded not to come on in that storm, building a large fire of logs for a camping place if he should come, started on foot for the settlement, distant ten miles west. He was "a remarkably strong, robust man," said one of the family, but was thoroughly chilled when at dark he reached the cabin of E. W. Bryant [Elias W. Bryant]. David Agnew was not a very strong or healthy man, and no one thought of his undertaking that perilous trip of ten long miles on such a fearful night. The next morning, when the storm was over, an April fog coming on, as Simeon Bryant, David Bryant, and E. W. Bryant [David, Elias, and Simeon were brothers] went out to look over the land, they saw some object lying in the snow, and E. W. Bryant said, "It looks like a dead man." David Bryant took a closer look and said, "It looks like Agnew." And the body of David Agnew it proved to be, beside which those three stout-hearted men stood aghast. What that night had been to him in suffering and in struggle no one could fully know.

I quote from the Bryant narrative: "Upon looking around they found beaten paths where Agnew had at first run around in a circle to try to keep from perishing, and then, as if strength had failed and he had not been able to do that, he had supported himself with his arms around the trunks of the trees, running around them until there was quite a path worn, and leaving the lint of his coat sticking in the bark. He finally got hold of a pole about seven or eight feet long, and placing one end on the ground and leaning on the other, ran around in a circle until, as it would appear, his strength was entirely exhausted, and he fell across his support, leaving no sign of having made a struggle after."

We can see in this account how heroically Agnew struggled for life; and that he should have perished so near a home and shelter seems doubly pitiable. It was found that he had reached Hickory Point with his oxen and wagon, but instead of trying to camp there with them by the fire, had drawn out the keys from the ox bows, dropped them with the yokes all chained together upon the ground, thrown out a few unbound sheaves of oats from his wagon as food for the oxen, and had started immediately to follow Simeon Bryant across the ten miles of prairie and marsh.

The Bryant narrative states there was an Indian trail passing by Hickory Point and through Pleasant Grove, but that the night was very dark, although the snow-storm was followed by almost incessant lightning. Somehow Agnew made his way across, but perished within reach of help.
Several accounts of this incident have been published. Some suggest that Agnew was buried on the prairie in Porter County, while others state he was buried in Lake County very near Pleasant Grove. The Porter County location is plausible since Lewis Comer, one of the first residents of Morgan Prairie in eastern Porter County, has been noted as officiating Agnew's funeral service.

Yet another source, Clara Vaile Braiden's book concerning the Bryant family genealogy published in 1913, states the David Agnew died on "Apr. 15, 1835, at Pleasant Grove, Ind., and is buried at Westville [Champaign County], Ohio." There are no burial records showing David being buried in Ohio. Additionally, it would have been quite remarkable if his remains were taken back to Ohio given the distance and cost involved in with such transport at that time. Regardless, all accounts are nearly identical concerning to the circumstances surrounding Agnew's death.

William O. Wallace, writing about Hickory Point as "The Stroller" in the September 26, 1958, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, created an alternative story about the naming of this prairie:
Cheaps-o-tucky, living northward on section 34, in 1836-7 was the last Pottawattomie. The others gradually drifted westward following the deported tribes, or went to Michigan where a small remnant remained. Cheaps-o-tucky finally sold out to an incoming settler and walked majestically away in 1846. He left behind one aged horse, on the prairie -- and the area became known as 'horse-on-prairie' until it was condensed to Horse Prairie when E. P. Abbott (sic, Abbot) made the county map from government surveys in 1855.
While "The Stroller" stories are very popular, it is important to note that Wallace intentionally weaved fabricated information with true facts into his columns, similar to historical fiction. This resulted in his columns being more entertaining to the reader and more valuable to the publisher through increased newspaper circulation. Wallace did put his readers on notice that he was including "legend" in his columns. The unfortunate consequence of this type of writing has been that many of the contrived facts published in The Stroller columns have been perpetuated as true.

Though it seems that Wallace had intentions to provide a coherent understanding of Porter County's history, his literary style often created nothing more than nonsense. In this case, there is no evidence that a Native American named Cheaps-o-tucky was residing in Porter County, especially as late as 1846 when all the land in area surrounding Hickory Point had been either deeded through federal land patents or was being "proved up" by settlers for land patent applications. In fact, the name Cheaps-o-tucky only appears in Wallace's column and seems to possess a derogatory undertone. Furthermore, surveyors laying out section corners in the counties of Lake and Porter in 1834 pointedly write in their field notes that they found no Native Americans living in this area at that time; a few, however, were living in the far northern parts of the county. Finally, it has been established that the prairie surrounding Hickory Point was referred to as Horseshoe Prairie due to its shape prior to 1846.

The Hickory Point community was referred to as Carman Run during its formative years, being named after a small creek in the immediate area, and there are a handful of records where this name can be found. The creek, in turn, was named in honor of Morris Carman, a pioneer of the Hickory Point area.

The first individuals to receive deeded land in the Hickory Point area, through federal land patents, included: Hail Bates, Benjamin Soal, and Silas Gregg on July 1, 1845; Josephus Gregg and Ezekiel Morrison on May 1, 1848; Charles McFarland, Joseph McFarland, and Hazard Sheffield on May 10, 1848; and George Washington Gregg on January 1, 1850. It is very likely that numerous individuals and families were residing in the Hickory Point area prior to the land being patented by the federal government.

Alfred Nichols opened a general store on the Porter County side of Hickory Point in 1844, but would later remove to Crown Point and Frank Wallace would operate the store for several years. Wallace is thought to have sold the business to a son of Matthew A. Carson. Competition with Boone Grove’s retailers and the fact that railroads failed to traverse through or near the community eventually led to Hickory Point’s slow demise shortly after the Civil War.

Henry A. Nichols, brother of Alfred Nichols, was appointed the first postmaster of Hickory Point on September 4, 1850. It is believed that the post office operated out of Alfred's general store. Henry was succeeded as postmaster by his older brother, Alfred Nichols, on June 11, 1853, and Alfred was replaced by his father, William A. Nichols, on May 6, 1854. Hamlin G. Porter was appointed the next postmaster of Hickory Point on August 14, 1856, followed by Daniel Cross on May 18, 1858.

The post office discontinued operations on August 16, 1858, but was reestablished on March 13, 1861, with Hamlin G. Porter again serving as postmaster. Hamlin would be followed by his daughter, Mary M. Porter, as postmistress on May 26, 1868; Hamlin had died on May 3,1868, and it is believed that Mary's appointment to the postmistress position was necessitated by her father's death. Mary would operate the post office until it was permanently closed on August 27, 1868.

Information published in Goodspeed and Blanchard's 1882 history of the counties of Lake and Porter provides some conflicting information regarding the establishment of the Hickory Point post office, and also indicates that the location of the post office moved between counties over time. Goodspeed and Blanchard write:
About 1845, a post office was established at Hickory Point, with Jeremy Hickson [Hixon] as Postmaster. He carried the mail from Crown Point for the proceeds of the office. A few years later, Henry Nichols took the office and kept it three years, when his father, William A. Nichols, took it into his care for two or three years. Up to this time, the office was kept just over the line in Winfield Township, Lake Co. Mr. [Hamlin G.] Porter next took the post office and removed it across the line into Porter Township, and was holding it at the time of his death, after which the office was discontinued.
This description suggests that the Hickory Point post office was established as a Lake County post office until removed into Porter County by Hamlin G. Porter.

Records of the United States Post Office Department indeed enumerate the Hickory Point post office as being in Lake County. However, this may very likely be in error since Alfred Nichol's general store was located just east of the county line in Porter County and the post office was in all likelihood located in his store when Alfred's brother Henry was appointed the community's first postmaster.

Additionally, contrary to what was published by Goodspeed and Blanchard, records of the Post Office Department do not indicate that a "Jeremy Hickson" ever served as Hickory Point's postmaster. However, a Jeremy Hixon appears in official records as being appointed postmaster of the Eagle Creek post office in Lake County on July 23, 1839, succeeding his son Lucas Hixon. Eagle Creek is located about three miles southwest of Hickory Point. The Eagle Creek post office was discontinued on August 16, 1842, more than eight years prior to the establishment of the post office at Hickory Point.

Collectively, this information suggests that residents of the Hickory Point community had to travel to the Eagle Creek post office in Lake County to receive their mail until August 16, 1842. Where Hickory Point residents collected their mail during the eight year period between the discontinuance of the Eagle Creek post office and the establishment of the Hickory Point post office is unknown.

News item concerning the location of Hickory Point.
Source: Porter County Vidette, July 15, 1875.

The Hickory Point School, also referred to as the Skinner School, was situated about three-quarters of a mile directly east of the Hickory Point community on land owned by Ezekiel Morrison. Its location was about one-quarter mile west of present day County Road 600 West along the south side of County Road 500 South. This school was erected in 1867 and was of wood frame construction. Somewhat ironically, Goodspeed and Blachard's 1882 history of Porter County stated that this school "is at present the poorest [condition] in the township."

Prior to 1867, it is believed that students from the Hickory Point community were taught at the Methodist Episcopal Church in that community. This church was constructed in 1844 by William A. Nichols and Reverend Jeremiah Early, a circuit-riding Methodist minister from Crown Point, was the first to preach regularly here. The church building, the first wood framed church built in Porter County, was still standing as late as 1873, but reportedly in a very derelict condition with no resident pastor.

Like most Midwestern frontier communities, agriculture was the predominant occupation of Hickory Point's pioneer settlers. Numerous grist mills were established in Porter County prior to 1860 to process farmers' grains. The nearest grist mill to Hickory Point was unlike others in the county, which were powered by waterwheels and erected adjacent to creeks. The grist mill serving the Hickory Point community was powered by wind.

Wilson's Windmill in the far northwest corner of Boone Township was located about three-quarters of a mile southeast of Hickory Point. Robert Wilson erected the large windmill in 1845 and served as the area farmers' miller. Wilson operated his grist mill for approximately two years and then sold it to his brother, Charles Wilson, who continued the grist milling business for about seven more years before dismantling the structure (circa 1855). The mill was located at about present day 610 South along the west side of Indiana State Road 2. The headwaters of Cobb Creek are located immediately east of the former site of the mill. The windmill appears on Abbot’s 1855 sectional map of Porter County.

Map showing general location of
the Hickory Point community. Also visible is
Robert Wilson's grist mill powered by wind.
Source: Abbot, 1855.

Porter County pioneer Isabella "Isabel" (Stewart) McKnight wrote about her family's migration to Hickory Point in 1851, which took place when she was nine years old:
AMONG my earliest recollections is our trip from Ohio to Indiana. We left Waynesburg, Stark Co., Ohio about the middle of October 1851 and traveled from there to Cleveland in a canal boat. The canal boat was used principally for transporting grain from one point to another and had a little cabin at one end which was fitted up for the women and children. The men must have had another apartment for the mules were kept in the other end and the center of the boat was used for the grain. The boat was drawn by mules. They walked on the bank of the canal and were attached to the boat by a large rope. Not a very swift way to travel. From Cleveland we went across Lake Erie to Detroit in a steam boat and from there across Michigan to Michigan City. There we put up at a hotel kept by a Mr. Shrieve who had moved from near the old Hazzard Sheffield farm. It rained continuously that night and the next day it was a problem how we were to get from there to Horseprairie or Hickory Point. Mr. Shrieve had to send a man to the farm he had left to get a load of corn so it was decided that we should go with him. The family of father, mother and four children together with our belongings were packed in the wagon, we started for our destination with the rain the day and night before and so much corduroy road it was not a very pleasant trip. At one place father was pitched off into the water. We stopped at a little town called Doorville for lunch and to feed the horses, went through Westville and arrived at Valparaiso at night. Put up at the Freemont House which stood where the Specht and Finney Store is now located. The next day, October 31, we arrived at Hickory Point. Stayed at Joseph McFarlands, a home for strangers until a log cabin 12 x 14 was vacated. We moved in and lived there for two years. If it was small we entertained strangers. At one time Mr. [John] McIntyre, wife [Rebecca (Carson) McIntyre] and two children stayed with us two weeks. I don't know how it ever was done, there was the trundle-bed of course.

McKnight writes that she attended school in the Methodist Episcopal Church, a church constructed by William Nichols at Hickory Point in the 1840s; her teacher was Mary Almira Cleveland, who would later marry William Augustus Winslow.

It appears that Hickory Point attracted an inordinate number of pioneers of Scottish or Ulster (i.e., Northern Ireland Protestant) origin or descent. For instance, individuals and families residing in the Hickory Point area with the surnames of Cadwell, Campbell, Carson, Dunn, Foster, Gregg, McCann, McDonough, McFarland, McGinley, McGinnis, McIntyre, McKay, McKnight, Stewart, and Wallace appear in federal census and other records prior to 1880.

A active burial ground called Hickory Point Cemetery once existed about one-half mile southwest of the community just beyond the county line in Lake County. Timothy H. Ball referred to the cemetery as an "Old Burial Ground" in his history of Lake County published in 1873. In 1958, the cemetery was described as "the most neglected cemetery in Northwest Indiana. Not a single grave-stone remains standing, and the once sacred spot is over-run by weeds and brambles and sinuous vines. Overhead the trees are matted together as if to hide the sacrilege, and the ground is damp and moldy."

Map showing portion of Lake County immediately west of Hickory
Point. Hickory Point Cemetery is visible at center of Section 33.
Source: Blanchard, 1874.

During the 1950s, a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) attempted to identify graves they could uncover at the Hickory Point Cemetery. In their enumeration they described the general condition of the cemetery as "There are two large pine trees, an undergrowth of blackberries bushes, sumac and brush trees." They also indicate that most of the burials at the cemetery had been moved about one and one-quarter mile northeast to the Salem Cemetery in Porter County's Porter Township.

The DAR does not provide a precise location or map of the Hickory Point Cemetery, instead describing it as "ninety feet by thirty feet, on the east side of the north-south road, and is at the turn to the north of the east-west road at the corner of the present Andy Nethery Farm, once owned by the Ward family.

The "north-south road" mentioned above is present day Union Street and the "east-west road" is East 145th Avenue. The cemetery is now contained in a 170-foot by 170-foot brushy woodlot, as marked on the Google Earth image provided below. Several pre-1900 death notices were published in local newspapers for Hickory Point residents, but the burial locations for many of these individuals cannot be found in cemetery enumerations. Thus, it is suspected that the remains of numerous pioneers are located in this "lost cemetery" in unmarked graves.

Locations of historic Hickory Point Cemetery
and the Hickory Point community.
Source: Google Earth.

The DAR was able to identify five individuals in the Hickory Grove cemetery and partially read the tombstones of three others:
  • CARSON, M.A.; son of M. and N. Carson; died Oct. 29, 1863; aged 11 yrs. 9 mos. 19 da.
    CULVER, Aaron; died Nov. 22, 1958; aged 75 yrs.
  • McFARLAND, ???; Dau of David and Mary McFarland; died Oct. 18, 1877; aged 3 yrs. 3 mos 7 da. (stone broken across name)
  • NICHOLS, Joseph B.; son of William and P. Nichols; aged 4 yrs 6 mos 16 da. (also marker with J.B.N. on top)
  • -- Pamela, wife of ?; (stone broken and gone; probably a Nichols since it is near those of the two Nichols children and their stones bear the initial "P" as mother.)
  • -- Silas G.; son of William and P. Nichols; died Apr. 20, 1837; aged 5 yrs. 9 da. (also a headstone bearing the initials S.G.N.)
  • WARD, Willie; son of A.B. and D. Ward; died Oct. 5, 1859; aged 12 da.
  • -- W.B.; (headstone with only these initials; could be Ward since lot is nearby)
The DAR also found a headstone with the initials J.G., three bases with no headstones, and several broken fragments of grave markers.

Salem Cemetery, on mile northeast of Hickory Point.
Many Hickory Point pioneers are buried here. This
cemetery is not located in Palmer in Lake County.
Source: Collection of Steven R. Shook.

Many of Hickory Point's pioneers are interred in the Salem Cemetery, which is located about one mile northeast of the community and four and one-half miles directly north of Hebron. The cemetery’s founding is associated with the Salem Presbyterian Church, which was erected in 1848 by Ananias Freeman on one acre of land donated by Edmond Sheffield; the church and cemetery were adjacent to one another on the north side of present day County Road 350 South.

Assistance in establishing the Salem Presbyterian Church came from Reverend James Caldwell Brown of Valparaiso, a Presbyterian minister, who was also responsible for erecting the first Presbyterian church at the county seat. Brown would die at Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky, on July 14, 1862, while serving as a chaplain in the 48th Indiana Volunteer Regiment; the Chaplain Brown Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Valparaiso was named in his honor.

George A. Gregg, a Presbyterian minister, was also likely instrumental in the early development of the Salem Presbyterian Church. He would later remove to Bellefontaine, Logan County, Ohio, where he was a minister at the Presbyterian Church in that community, but many of his children remained in Porter County.

Residents of Hickory Point and areas to the north, however, were predominantly Methodist and as the Presbyterian's use of the church began to wane the Methodists acquired the church property. The Salem Cemetery Association was formed in 1888. Prior to construction of the Salem Church, Sunday services were held in the home of Reverend Henry Augustine Humphrey in Lake County just across the county line from the Hickory Point community.

The first church was destroyed by fire on May 16, 1903, and was soon rebuilt at the same location immediately west of the cemetery. The second church was removed from the site on October 6, 1960. The current Salem United Methodist Church is located directly across County Road 350 South from its former site. The burial ground is occasionally referred to as the Salem Methodist Cemetery.

Newspaper item concerning the Methodist
Episcopal Church at Hickory Point.
Source: Porter County Vidette, October 24, 1874.

Northwest Indiana historian Timothy H. Ball indicates in his 1872 history of Lake County, Indiana, that a Methodist Episcopal Church was constructed at Hickory Point around 1844 and that it had become dilapidated by 1872. He also writes that "The pastor of the Covenanter Church in Porter county, also preaches at Hickory Point."

Members of the Covenanter faith were Scottish Presbyterians and strongly anti-Papist; the Covenanter's were instrumental in quelling the Jacobite Rising of 1689 in Scotland. The fact that a Covenanter pastor was preaching at Hickory Point makes sense given the large number of Scots living there.

It is unknown as to whom Ball is referring to as the "pastor of the Covenanter Church in Porter County," but it is known that only one such Covenanter congregation has ever existed in Porter County and it was located at The Corners (Hebron's former name). The congregants' church was called Bethlehem Church of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian, and it was organized on July 28, 1838, by a traveling pastor named Reverend Hannan.

Example of Hickory Point new items.
Source: Porter County Vidette, May 6, 1875.

Reverend Hannan circulated a petition and delivered it to the United States Post Office Department seeking the establishment of a post office to serve the community known as The Corners. The petition, if granted, also requested that the post office be named Hebron rather than The Corners.

The petition for a post office was approved and Wilson L. Blaine would be appointed the first postmaster of Hebron on December 30, 1843. Blaine also served as the Bethlehem Church of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian's first resident pastor (1839-1847) and he would rename the church the Associate Reformed Church of Hebron soon after the establishment of the post office. The use of The Corners as a name for the community rapidly disappeared with the establishment of the Hebron post office.

The most notable resident to have resided at Hickory Point is likely to have been Samuel S. McClure. McClure was born in Ireland and received his early schooling there. Upon the death of his father, McClure emigrated to America in June 1866 with his widowed mother Elizabeth and his three brothers. They landed at Quebec and then traveled to Indiana, arriving at Hebron on July 4th where Mrs. McClure had relatives.

During the winter of 1867, McClure would be introduced to American education at the Hickory Point School, which had been constructed earlier that year. In his 1913 autobiography, ghostwritten by a McClure's Magazine employee, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Willa Cather, the school is mentioned:
I went to the Hickory Point School, and my Irish speech afforded the boys there a great deal of amusement, and the crust was often so hard that we skated to school, over fields and fences. I was so fond of school that, if I had to work at home for part of the day, I would go all the way to school to get the last hour, from three to four, there.

When I was twelve years old and was still going to that school, I heard somewhere, for the first time in my life, that there was a kind of "arithmetic" in which letters were used instead of figures. I knew at once that I must somehow get hold of this. I asked the teacher, a young man [James E. Carson] who was then trying to work his way toward medical school; but, though he had heard of algebra, he had never studied it and had no text-book. There lived not far from us an ex-soldier named McGinley, and I had heard that his wife had been a school-teacher. I went to Mrs. McGinley to ask her advice, and she lent me an algebra. My brother John and I took up this book and went through it as fast as we could, working it out for ourselves and solved the problems as we came to them. We got so excited about it and talked about it so much that my stepfather
[Thomas Simpson] said he thought he would like to study it, too. He would sit down with us in the evening and work at the problems. But after a little while his zeal flagged and he decided that he could get through the rest of his days without knowing algebra.
Samuel S. McClure would later attend Valparaiso High School, teach one term at the Babcock School in Liberty Township, serve as a printer's devil for the Porter County Vidette, and graduate from Knox College in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois. While at Knox College, McClure founded the Western College Associated Press, which was a syndicated service that provided news for college publications located throughout the Midwest and western states.

Babcock School, circa 1910,  in Liberty Township, Porter County, Indiana.
Samuel S. McClure taught at this school for one term.
Source: Collection of Steven R. Shook.

After serving as editor of the Wheelman, a new monthly publication focused on the rapidly emerging activity and sport of bicycle riding, McClure founded McClure's Magazine in 1892, arguably one of the most influential magazines published in the United States during the turn of the century. The magazine was noted for its socio-political content and the high quality of its serialized novels-in-progress.

Ida M. Tarbell's 1902 articles in McClure's Magazine concerning the monopoly abuses of Standard Oil Company would eventually result in numerous Congressional hearings, lawsuits, and the breakup of that company. Ray Stannard Baker focused a series of articles in McClure's Magazine on the United States Steel Corporation and its conduct as a business. The magazine was known as the premier publisher of muckracking articles.

Cover of the November 1902 issue of McClure's Magazine. Ida M.
Tarbell's article concerning the history of the Standard Oil
Company eventually led to the breakup of that company.

In the area of published fiction, McClure was able attract numerous notable authors to publish their novels in his magazine before being published in book form; typically, a few chapters of a novel were published per issue of the magazine (serialized). Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Mark Twain were friends with McClure and published their work in his magazine. One has to wonder if McClure's education at the Hickory Point School influenced his ability to succeed later in life?

Photograph of Samuel S. McClure the
year he entered Valparaiso High School
Source: McClure, 1913.

The last significant historical event that seems to have occurred at Hickory Point was a political rally in support of Republican presidential candidate William McKinley on October 3, 1896. The rally attracted more than 1,500 farmers and a "hickory McKinley pole, 105 high" was raised in celebration. Accounts of the event were covered in newspapers throughout the Midwest. Former congressman Thomas Jefferson Wood, a life-long Democrat from Crown Point, Indiana, reportedly "astonished the crowd by making a Republican speech and announcing that he was for McKinley and the Republican ticket."

News item concerning huge rally at
Hickory Point and the raising of a McKinley pole.
Source: The Indianapolis Journal, October 5, 1896.

I conclude this history of Hickory Point with the "Pioneer Reminiscences of Mrs. Hanna Gibbs," which is contained in the unpublished files of the Federal Writers' Program housed at Indiana State University. Hannah J. Carson was born February 24, 1843, and would emigrate to Porter County with her parents, Irish-born Matthew J. Carson and his wife Margaret Jane (Knox) Carson, in March of 1863. Hannah would marry Harvey Gibbs. Her essay, thought to have been originally written in the early 1920s, provides a young woman's view of removing to Porter County and residing in Hickory Point area.
I came with my father's family to this state in the spring of 1863, during the civil war. We had to drive fifteen miles to Canton, Ohio, to take the train. We left there at 6:30, and traveled all night, crossing the line between the two states in the latter part of the night.

The first I saw of Indiana was somewhere about Plymouth. I think I looked out the window in the gray of the morning, and saw water, water, everywhere, and large trees growing in it. I wondered at the time what kind of a country we were getting into. I learned later it was the Kankakee river, then in flood.

I saw nothing else that I remember until we arrived in Valparaiso at 9:30 p.m. For some reason, the vehicles that were to have met us did not show up; but along about noon two lumber wagons arrived. The one that I and the rest of the children rode in had no seats of any kind. So, we sat in the bottom of the box as best we could.

The one my father and mother rode in had a seat I remember. My aunt, Mary McFarland, was along, but the only recollection I have of her was seeing her trudging along on foot. We arrived at my uncle's at Hickory Point that evening.

I remember the next morning. It was a beautiful March morning, the sun shining brightly. I went out and looked around. There was not a hill or a patch of timber anywhere in sight
[This suggests any standing timber in the immediate area had been harvested by 1863]. I could see apparently for miles. The prairie chickens - plentiful then - were making their peculiar calls. They were something we had never seen before. I could see the Bates house, the same on that stands there now.

The only thing left of Hickory Point is a dwelling house and an abandoned schoolhouse. But at the time I knew it, it was different. It had a post office, kept by a man who worked at the tailoring trade. We had no railroad at that time, and our mail was brought from Valparaiso twice a week - something like the rural routes of the present day. The mail man stopped at Hickory Point, and then went on to Lowell. There was also a shoemaker, familiarly called "Uncle Phil," who worked at his trade. I have worn some of his shoes. I would like to see them compared with some of the young ladies' shoes of the present day. There was also a schoolhouse, and a Methodist church. I remember the first time I went to that church. Mrs. William Beattie, the mother of Joseph Beattie of Crown Point, came in to see if any of us would go. Well, I got ready and went with her.

There was also a brick building, ordinarily used as a store, but vacant at that time.

When my father sold his farm in Ohio, he did perhaps an unwise thing. He sold to a man who kept a small store in Malvern, and took the buyer's stock of goods in part payment on the farm. That is how we came to locate at Hickory Point. We moved into the brick building, using part of it as a dwelling house.

I waited on the store, sewed for the family, and later on taught school. There were six boys in the family, and it was a job to keep them covered. You could not get ready-made clothes for either boys or men. I used my first month's wages to buy a sewing machine. It was a little affair, and had to be attached to a table, something like the meat choppers of the present day. It was turned by a crank with the right hand, the left hand handling the goods.

We got lots of butter that first year. It was my business to work it all over, as it came in rolls, and pack it in 50-pound firkins
[a wooden cask] for the Chicago markets. It had to be hauled to Valparaiso, as that was the nearest railroad. In the summer of '63, we had a Fourth of July celebration. J. Q. Benjamin had been teaching a singing school at the schoolhouse that spring, and we sang the familiar war songs. The celebration was held in a grove now owned by Jack Wright. John Cass, a lawyer, delivered the oration, and the families of the community furnished the dinner, which was set out on long tables. There was a large crowd, but everyone had a free dinner, and a good time.

My impression at that time was that the neighborhood was settled mostly by people who had known one another, or were related or had church affiliations.

Salem wa
[s] the name of a prominent Presbyterian church at that time. It had attended the Sheffields, the Campbells, the Mutchlers, the Revves [Reeves], the Beebes, the Carmans, and three families of the name of Greggs, besides others that I did not know.

Asel Carman, the most prominent member of the church, enlisted in the army some time during 1864. He was killed in battle, and his body was buried in the South
[Private Asal G. Carman was a member of Company E, 17th Indiana Infantry; he was killed in action at Selma, Dallas County, Alabama, on April 2, 1865]. Memorial services were held for him in the church. In the choir on that occasion were Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin, bass and soprano, and Mr. and Mrs. Loren Hixon [Mrs. Hixon is Hellen Martha (Lawrence) Hixon], as tenor and alto.

Mrs. Baker and her brother, Charles, of Hebron, one of the Carman family, and George Gregg, of Hebron, and Mrs. Flor Gregg are the only survivors felt in this part of the country.

The Covenanter church, as it was called, or the Reformed Presbyterian, was located about a mile north of the Salem church in a grove. It was attended by the McFarlands, the McKnights, the Youngs, the Bovards, and a number of families further north. There was quite a congregation. I have been there often. I was there when Mrs. James H. Love
[Sallie B. (McKnight) Love], a babe in long clothes, was baptized in the faith of her fathers.

Hebron at that time was very small. I saw this schoolhouse they had then. It was a large log house, about where the vacant Presbyterian church now stands. I think the Methodist was the only church in Hebron at that time. But the Presbyterians had a church down close to where the graveyard is now. The Rev. Mr.
[James Nelson] Buchanan, the pastor, lived close to it. The McKnights and the Stewarts belonged to it. We used to see them passing on a Sunday morning to attend.

People were loyal to their churches in those days than now, for the families had to drive at least eight miles to attend services.

Teaching school in those days was not what it is now. Three dollars a week in summer, and four in winter, was all I received. We had to board around. I had nothing to complain of at any place I boarded, and a few places were very pleasant. But I will mention just one.

I boarded a week at a place where there were a man and his wife and one little boy. They were nice people, I thought. The husband semmed
[sic] to be very quiet. He had nothing to say.

I had a nice bedroom, a nice clean bed, and a father bed you would sink out of sight in. Well, the first night I was there I slept soundly and never woke until morning. Then I noticed there was a depression in the feather bed alongside of where I had slept. Well, I was puzzled, as I had seen no one, had heard no one. I had the same experience every morning, but on the last morning as I awoke the lady of the house was just getting up from alongside me. She may not have been as careful that morning as usual. I lay on the outside, and she had to climb over me. I learned later the old gentleman, her husband, was out of his mind.

The young people of those days had very good times, even if war was raging. They had parties quite often and enjoyed themselves as young people are wont to do.

I taught school at Dublin [near Leroy in Lake County's Winfield Township] the winter of '64 and '65.

Our farm was not yet fenced, nor was that of the James Loves, the Moses Henderson, or the Dave Wilsons. The McLaren place seemed to have been settled early, and was the only one after leaving the farm now owned by Andy Netherly [just west of the county line in Lake County] until you arrived at Dublin. James McKnight was getting out timber the winter of '64-'65 to fence his farm and build his log cabin in the following spring. There was a large log cabin where Ed. Howes' house stands, and Moses Phillips occupied a log house so low that even I had to stoop in going in at the front door. The two Gregg families also occupied log houses.

Everyone got along fine in those days. There is a great deal said these times about the high cost of living. Well, I can recall the prices of a few things in that time. I remember someone coming into our store to buy a pound of whey they called fine-cut chewing tobacco, to send to a friend in the army. That cost $1.50. I wore a calico dress that cost 40 cents a yard and it took ten yards to make it. At that time they wore crinoline and full skirts. We had a bolt of sheeting, yard-wide, that sold for 80 cents a yard. A small bunch of matches about an inch in diameter had a revenue stamp on it. I don't remember what it sold for. Coffee was almost impossible to get, and sugar was 25 cents a pound. Every one in those days made sorghum molasses. It was a great help to have your barrel of sorghum molasses. The first sauce I tasted in this state was made of wild crabapples, cooked in sorghum molasses.

The money at the time was green-backs, and it took two dollars and a half of them to get on[e] dollar in gold. Silver at that time was unknown. The change for anything less than a dollar was in paper of five, ten, twenty-five and fifty cents, in what was called scrip or shinplaster.

The women in those days had their fashions, just as now. They wore sky-scraper bonnets, and did their hair in what was called water falls.

The people in Indiana seemed more progressive than those farther east, except in the matter of education. The accommodations in the log houses of the settlers were rather primitive. The house, as a rule, consisted of only one room. If they needed a spare room, all they did was to hang a curtain from a tall frame, shutting a space off from the rest of the room.

The vehicles in those days were also very primitive. I don't think I ever saw a top buggy, and the cutters
[winter sleighs] the boys sported were home made.

Well, in 1868 I was married, and in the spring of 1869 we moved to a place called Ward's Hill. The Pennsylvania railroad had been built in the summer of 1863. While living at Ward's Hill, we heard that a town was going to be built close to the John Ross farm. During the summer of 1869 we could see the store building going up. That was the first building erected in the town of what is now Leroy. I have been told that there was another before that, used for storing grain by a Crown Point firm.

Amos Edgerton was a man who built the store. He also put up a dwelling house for his family. He was the first resident of Leroy.

Source Material

Baker, J. David. 1976. The Postal History of Indiana. Volume II. Louisville, Kentucky: Leonard H. Hartmann, Philatelic Bibliopole. 1,061 p. [see p. 953]

Ball, Timothy H. 1873. Lake County, Indiana, from 1834 to 1872. Chicago, Illinois: J. W. Goodspeed. 364 p. [see pp. 16, 92, 139, 180-181]

Ball, Timothy H. 1884. Lake County, Indiana, 1884: An Account of the Semi-Centennial Celebration of Lake County, September 3 and 4, with Papers and Other Interesting Records Prepared for this Volume. Crown Point, Indiana: Lake County Star. 488 p. [see pp. 193, 274, 277]

Ball, Timothy H. 1904. Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana, with a Compendium of History 1834-1904. Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company. 674 p. [see pp. 19-20, 134]

Braiden, Clara Vaile. 1913. Bryant Family History: Ancestry and Descendants of David Bryant (1756) of Springfield, N. J.; Washington Co., PA.; Knox Co., Ohio; and Wolf Lake, Noble Co. Ind. Chicago, Illinois: Clara Vaile Braiden. 258 p. [see pp. 55-56]

Federal Writers' Program, Works Progress Administration. 1936-1942. Porter County, Indiana. Indiana Writers' Program, Microfilm Reel No. 20, Folder, 231. Terre Haute, Indiana: Indiana State University, Cunningham Memorial Library. 1,193 p. [see p. 364, 400-407]

G. W. Hawes & Company. 1858. Indiana State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1858 and 1859. Indianapolis, Indiana: G. W. Hawes and Company. 623 p. [see p. 122]

George A. Ogle & Company. 1921. Standard Atlas of Porter County, Indiana: Including a Plat Book of the Villages, Cities and Townships of the County. Chicago, Illinois: George A. Ogle & Company. 61 p. [see p. 30]

Goodspeed, Weston A., and Charles Blanchard. 1882. Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. Chicago, Illinois: F. A. Battey & Company. 771 p. [see pp. 169, 225, 226, 327]

Hardesty, A. G. 1876. History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: A. G. Hardesty. 90 p. [see pp. 24, 39]

Howat, William Frederick. 1915. A Standard History of Lake County, Indiana and the Calumet Region. Volume I. Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company. 471 p. [see pp. 78, 79]

Kalb, George L. 1900. History of the First Presbyterian Church of Bellefontaine, Ohio. Bellefontaine, Ohio: The Index Printing & Publishing Company. 278 p. [see pp. 37-38]

Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Volume I. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 357 p. [see pp. 171-172]

Lyon, Peter. 1963. Success Story: The Life and Times of S. S. McClure. New York, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.433 p. [see pp. 7-13]

McClure, S. S. 1914. My Autobiography. New York, New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 266 p. [ghost written by Willa Cather]

McKnight, Isabel Stewart. Circa 1917. Pioneer Life and Impressions. Publication location not provided: Mrs. R. E. Morris. 14 p.

Redfield & Logan. 1866. Redfield & Logan's Columbus & Indianapolis Central Railway Business Guide, and Western Gazetteer, of Indiana and Ohio, for 1866-67. Indianapolis, Indiana: Redfield & Logan. 347 p. [see p. 21]

Smith, John L. 1892. Indiana Methodism, A Series of Sketches and Incidents, Grave and Humorous Concerning Preachers and People of the West. Valparaiso, Indiana: John L. Smith. 482 p. [see p. 119]

Periodicals and Maps
Abbot, E. P. 1855. Sectional Map of Porter County, Indiana: Carefully Compiled from the United States Surveys. Cincinnati, Ohio: Gibson and Company. 1 p.

Blanchard, Rufus. 1874. Hardesty's Section Map of Lake Co. Indiana. Chicago, Illinois: Rufus Blanchard. 1 p.

Gordon, Leon M. 1951. Settlements in Northwestern Indiana, 1830-1860. Indiana Magazine of History 47(1):37-52. [see p. 45]

McClure, Samuel S. 1913. My Autobiography. McClure's Magazine 42(1):78-87. [ghostwritten by Willa Cather]
Newspapers (listed by date of publication)
Western Ranger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; May 17, 1848; Volume 4, Number 42, Page 3, Column 2. Column titled "Wool Carding and Cloth Dressing Establishment."

Practical Observer, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; December 25, 1855; Volume 3, Number 52, Page 4, Column 1. Column titled "Wind Flouring Mills."

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; October 22, 1874; Volume 18, Number 43, Page 3, Column 3.

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; November 26, 1874; Volume 18, Number 48, Page 3, Column 5. Column titled Hebron Items."

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; May 6, 1875; Volume 19, Number 18, Page 3, Column 5. column titled "Hickory Point Items."

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; July 15, 1875; Volume 19, Number 28, Page 3, Column 6. column titled "Hickory Point Items."

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; September 7, 1882; Volume 26, Number 36, Page 8, Column 1. column titled "The County. Hebron."

The Indianapolis Journal, Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana; October 5, 1896; Page 6, Column 7. column titled "Thomas J. Ward for McKinley."

The Chesterton Tribune, Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana; June 7, 1906; Volume 23, Number 10, Page 8, Column 3. Column titled "Hebron."

The Lake County Times, Hammond, Lake County, Indiana; August 22, 1913; Volume 8, Number 56, Page 6, Column 4. Column titled "Editor M'Clure Lived Near Here."

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 3, Pages 17-18." Column titled "Morgan High School History of Morgan Township: As Compiled by History Class and Instructors for The Vidette-Messenger."

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; September 26, 1958; Volume 32, Number 70, Page 1, Column 4 and Page 6, Columns 3-4. Column titled "Hickory - Forgotten Community," by The Stroller [William Ormand Wallace]

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; December 19, 1958; Volume 32, Number 141, Page 1, Column 4 and Page 6, Columns 1-2. Column titled "Salem Viewed as Christmas Card Church," by The Stroller [William Ormand Wallace].

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