Friday, October 15, 2021

Clear as Mud: Coffee, a Stream, and The Stroller

Toponymy is the study of place names based on etymological (origin of words), geographical, and historical information. George R. Stewart's 1945 classic Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-naming in the United States, published in more than 64 editions, provides an outstanding critical, as well as entertaining, examination of American history as told by the origin of place names.

As Stewart explains, place names can originate from story-telling and tales that are not altogether based on fact. Here, we review one of the first named geographic features in what would become Porter County. But instead of starting our review at the time when the feature was allegedly named, we jump forward 122 years to September 22, 1955, when The Vidette-Messenger published an article titled "Indians Recover Wheels of Stage Coach Mired In North County, Stroller Recalls." The column written by The Stroller, the pen name of William Ormand Wallace, provides an account of an event that allegedly gave rise to the naming of Coffee Creek.

The Stroller relates that a "Converse & Reeves" stagecoach that was built in 1833 by the Standard Wagon Works in Chicago was supposedly too heavy for one team of horses, and poorly built such that freight had to be piled in with passengers inside the coach. The stagecoach's first journey by Converse and Reeves was a trip from Fort Dearborn (Chicago) to Detroit. When the stagecoach approached the mouth of present day Coffee Creek near the Little Calumet River it became "hopelessly mired in a so-called bottomless swamp." The passengers and horses were able to safely get themselves out of the marshland, but a bag of coffee on the top of the stagecoach became torn and dumped its contents into the creek and ever since that time the "stream has been known as Coffee Creek."

The Stroller writes that one of the drivers supposedly rode a horse back to Fort Dearborn to fetch another stagecoach while the stranded passengers trekked to Joseph Bailly's home 
to wait for his return. We learn from the article that the stagecoach mired in the swamp was supposedly dismantled, the front wheels and part of the body removed, but the rear wheels were "too deeply imbedded [sic] in the quick-sand-like marsh to pay to dig them out" and were abandoned at the site.

The Stroller's narrative concludes with some Indians discovering the rear wheels of the stage near the creek and recovering them for use. The Stroller directly quotes Charles H. Bartlett as saying:

As proud as any conquering monarch in his golden chariot was this red chieftain [Leopold Pokagon] trundling through the forest across the prairie, in his brave contrivance, which, he trusted, should convince the world that the Indian might master the arts of the pale face.
That two-wheeled vehicle continued to do service for many years and was at that time a matter of no little astonishment to the early inhabitants of the region.
One of the old settlers was prone to recall the times when he saw a strange apparition moving across the prairie at a fairly good pace. As the equippage [sic] drew near it proved to be Pokagon and his wagon, with the chief himself holding the reins over a horse and a presumably stolen steer that were harnessed together and worked as submissively as could be desired.
The royal car rolled away along the ridge, then turned to the north for that way lay the Dragon Trace the military road to Fort Wayne, and the Indian village beyond.
Well remembered now is the day when two farmer boys dug out of the spring's spongy earth around Pokagon town the broken parts of a huge wheel, a most fortunate relic of the past.
These fragments of a broken wheel seemed to teach their lesson plainly for were they not to last as visible tesimony [sic] of the Indian's struggle with the white man's art.

Research focused on the facts stated above very strongly suggest that William Wallace's story concerning Coffee Creek may be entirely fabricated, with the exception of the stagecoach operated by "Converse & Reeves" on a road between Fort Dearborn and Detroit during the time period in question.

Postcard image of Coffee Creek, 1912.
Source: Collection of Steven R. Shook.

Converse and Reeves first appear in written Porter County history in Adolphus Gustin Hardesty's Illustrated Historical Atlas of Porter County, Indiana, published in 1876. Here, Hardesty states that:

Mr. Bailey [Joseph Bailly] was monarch of all he surveyed up to 1831, when there was a mail line established from Fort Dearborn to Detroit, called the Detroit and Chicago road. It ran through the territory that now comprises Jackson, West Chester, and Portage township. The mail was carried in knapsacks on the backs of two soldiers detailed for that purpose. In 1833 stage coaches ran over this line three times a week. The first contractors were Converse & Reeves. The Porter county Stage House was kept by Jesse Morgan.

Eight pages later, Hardesty, while writing about various locations in Porter County, mentions how Coffee Creek received its name:

Coffee Creek -- named so in consequence of the mail carrier, who was driving a wagon, in the early history of this county, across the creek losing in it a sack of coffee. The creek was swollen from recent rains, and hence the accident.
Goodspeed and Blanchard appear to have lifted from Hardesty in their 1882 work Counties of Lake and Porter, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. Unlike Hardesty, however, Goodspeed and Blanchard seem to directly link the tumbling coffee sack incident to Converse & Reeves. In other words, they took two separate entries from Hardesty's history and mashed them together, as follows:

The year 1833 was an important era in our history. A stage line was established, and coaches ran from Chicago to Detroit, making three trips per week. The first contractors of this line were Messrs. Converse & Reeves. At a season of high water, the mail carriers lost a sack of coffee in a large swollen stream, which incident gave to coffee creek its name. With the establishment of this stage line, commenced the actual settlement of Porter County by white families.... The Morgan brothers, Jesse, William and Isaac, natives of Monongalia County, Va., arrived early in this memorable year. Jesse settled in what is now Westchester township, on Section 6. The Chicago and Detroit road passed through his farm, and invited him to assume the character of "mine host." He accordingly christened his home the "Stage House," and had no lack of guests in his hostelry.
So, what's fact and what's fiction? Let's scrutinize The Stroller's newspaper column and square it with known historical facts.

First, was there a Standard Wagon Works in Chicago in 1833? No. In 1833, Chicago's population stood at approximately 350 and the few businesses that did exist were most likely serving the military outpost at Fort Dearborn. Early histories of Chicago never mention a Standard Wagon Works. Neither does the massive and comprehensive Encyclopedia of Chicago maintained by the Chicago Historical Society. A Chicago map prepared by Walter Conley shows how Chicago appeared in 1833. There is no wagon works to be observed on Conley's map.

Map of Chicago, circa 1833.
Source: Walter Donley, 1932.

Next, who were "Converse & Reeves?" Given their historical significance to "the actual settlement of Porter County by white families," as claimed in Goodspeed and Blanchard in 1882, one could assume that biographical information concerning these two individuals exists as it applies to the county's early history. It does not. However, after considerable research, "Converse & Reeves" have been identified 145 years after they first appeared in Hardesty's 1876 history of Porter County.

"Converse" is John Phelps Converse. A rather detailed multipage biographical sketch of Converse appears in a history of the counties of Geauga and Lake in Ohio published in 1878 by the Williams Brothers. Within this extended biography appears this sentence: "In 1833 the first mail ever carried across the territory of Michigan was carried by him [Converse] to Chicago, then only a trading-post, with three or four houses, in the vicinity of Fort Dearborn, thus becoming a second time a pioneer." Elsewhere in Converse's biography it is revealed that he had secured several contracts with the United States Post Office Department, today's United States Postal Service, between 1824 and 1836, "in which time he had overcome all the difficulties of the route and literally made straight paths for the feet of those who should succeed him." These contracted routes traversed Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

Engraving of Hon. John Phelps Converse.
Source: Williams Brothers' History of
Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio
, 1878.

John P. Converse was born at Randolph, Orange County, Vermont, on January 27, 1792, the eleventh child of Israel and Hannah (Walbridge) Converse. In 1818, John married Hannah Breck Parkman. He would serve as a member of the Ohio State Assembly from 1842 to 1843 and then served as an Associate Judge of Geauga County, Ohio, from 1846 to 1851. Hannah died in 1859 and John married Mrs. Rebecca Hahns, apparently a widow, in 1862. John had at least one child through his marriage with Hannah and three children resulted from his union with Rebecca. Converse passed away at Parkman, Geauga County, Ohio, on February 20, 1865, and was buried in the Old Cemetery located in Parkman.

The process of identifying "Reeves" was much more problematic, but eventually this individual was identified as Henry Joseph Rees through one of many petitions submitted to the United States House of Representatives by John P. Converse. Fortunately for historians, Converse filed numerous claims related to the payment of tolls he incurred while under contract with the United States Post Office Department during the very early 1830s. Then Postmaster General, William Taylor Barry, had allegedly assured bidding contractors that bridge tolls would not be collected from individuals under contract with the Post Office Department. However, tolls were collected and Converse had to pay these tolls out-of-pocket. These accumulated tolls were significant, running into the thousands of dollars, as mail ran weekly and later daily on Converse's contracted routes; Converse was petitioning Congress to be reimbursed for these costs.

A handful of Converse's many claims mention a Henry J. Rees. Converse's petitions show that he and Rees had secured contracts for several mail routes and that they worked in tandem, each using different modes of transport to get the mail efficiently delivered. Specifically, Converse appears to have provided the ground transport of mail, while Rees provided transfer of mail by ship.

Example of claim petition by John P. Converse presented to
the United States House of Representatives, January 28, 1845.
Source: Reports of Committees, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, Report No. 54.

Though "Reeves" has been identified as Henry J. Rees, relatively little is known about his life. It is known that he was born to Thomas and Mary Taft (Reed) Rees on October 20, 1800, at Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania, and in 1824 he married Mary Hubbard, a union that resulted in at least two children. Henry and Mary would become pioneers of Michigan City where they can be found in the 1850 Federal Census enumeration. These census records indicate that Henry's occupation was "Forwarding Merchant;" he was very likely providing shipping services similar to today's freight forwarders.

Rees served on the Board of County Commissioners of LaPorte County, Indiana, from 1855 through 1857. He passed away on April 20, 1859, at Michigan City and was buried in the "Old Buryal Ground" that was located at the southeast corner of the intersection of present day Detroit Street and Spring Street in Michigan City. This one acre burial ground was set aside by Isaac C. Elston when he laid out Michigan City in 1835. The city council vacated this burial ground in 1882 and during the following year the remains in this cemetery were exhumed and reburied elsewhere; Rees' remains were laid to their final rest in Michigan City's Greenwood Cemetery.

Scant information exists concerning Rees' shipping activities. It is known that while still residing in Ashtabula County, Ohio, Rees was the co-owner of the schooner Nehemiah Hubbard, which was built in 1832 in Ashtabula by Amasa Savage. The great-grandfather of Rees' wife, Mary, was Nehemiah Hubbard, who had been a prominent banker in Connecticut. 
The ship's other owners included William A. Fields, Walter Joy (a New York banker), George B. Webster, and James Blair. On November 15, 1842, the Nehemiah Hubbard ran aground in Lake Erie off the shore of Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, resulting in the death of seven crew members. The ship was a total loss.
At this point, we can be certain that The Stroller did not create the characters of Converse and Reeves (Rees). These were real men that had secured mail contracts in the Midwest with the United States Post Office Department and one route they operated was between Chicago and Detroit during the early 1830s. Hardesty's 1876 history of Porter County is likely The Stroller's source concerning who was delivering the mail through the region.

But what is known about the road mentioned in The Stroller's 1955 column? As pointed out in Hardesty's 1876 history, Porter County's first road was cleared by the United States government in 1831 through the townships of Portage, Westchester, and Jackson, said road connecting Fort Dearborn with Detroit. It would be most commonly referred to as the Chicago-Detroit Post Road.

Goodspeed and Blanchard's 1882 history states this same fact, but adds to it by mentioning that this road had "formerly ran along the beach of the lake, but was afterwards moved farther south." This additional information suggests that some sort of roadbed, however crude, existed near Lake Michigan prior to the construction of the Chicago-Detroit Post Road in 1831.

In 1834, surveyors were contracted by the United States to lay out the townships that would become Porter County two years later. Surveyor Andrew Burnside, with his two chainmen, Adam Guthrie Polke and Seth May, and his marker J. Hines, surveyed the land that the Chicago-Detroit Post Road traversed and provided remarks about this road in their field notes. 
These field notes were later used by Lucius Lyon of the Surveyor General's Office in Detroit to draw township plat maps. Relevant portions of two of these maps are provided below.

As an aside, Andrew Burnside was an uncle of Civil War General Ambrose Burnside, who also served as the first president of the National Rifle Association and whose rather interesting facial whiskers gave rise to the word "sideburns." Andrew's chainman Adam G. Polke served as the second sheriff of LaPorte County and once owned land north of LaPorte that later became known worldwide as the Belle Gunness farm; Adam would die at the Cascade Locks in Hood River County, Oregon, on November 10, 1847, at the age of 40.

General Land Office plat based on Andrew Burnside's survey field notes
showing Morgan's Stage House Tavern and the stage road traveled
by Converse and Rees 
(Sections 1-18, T36N R5W), 1834.
Source: National Archives and Records Administration.

General Land Office plat based on Andrew Burnside's survey field notes showing
the stage 
road crossing Coffee Creek (Sections 33-36, T37N R6W), 1834.
Source: National Archives and Records Administration.

Lucius Lyon's map of Township 36 North, Range 5 West, shows the Chicago-Detroit Post Road heading southeast through today's Jackson Township where it would continue eastward and connect with the community of LaPorte before turning northward to Detroit. Shown on this map adjacent to and south of the road is a building labelled "Morgan's." This was Jesse Morgan's Stage House Tavern.
Therefore, using contemporary survey evidence, we know that The Stroller was correct in stating that a road did exist and that it was constructed prior to 1834.

Can we narrow down when Coffee Creek was named? The answer is "yes." Since the Chicago-Detroit Post Road was not cleared as a military road until 1831, we know that the creek was likely not named any earlier than that year. Hardesty's 1876 county history seems to imply that wagons were not traversing the road until 1833, so perhaps 1833 is the earliest this stream was named.

The first post office in existence in what would become Porter County was established at Morgan's Stage House Tavern on January 29, 1835, and it was named Coffee Creek and located east of the stream in question. It was a very common practice to name post offices after nearby rivers and streams. The stream, therefore, was very likely named Coffee Creek prior to the post office's establishment.

It should be noted, however, that post offices were also very often named in honor of locations already in existence elsewhere - a place naming convention George R. Stewart referred to as transplanted names. Regrettably, no extant official records provide evidence of who named this post office or why it was named Coffee Creek. Thus, a bit of uncertainty remains.

At the time of its creation, the Coffee Creek post office was within the boundaries of LaPorte County as Porter County as a political entity did not yet exist. This post office operated intermittently until it was finally discontinued on December 31, 1849. A second Coffee Creek post office was established on April 15, 1850, but it was located west of the creek along the Valparaiso & Michigan City Plank Road, today's North Calumet Road, in what would later be known as Chesterton.
What is quite interesting and revealing about Hardesty's 1876 Porter County history is that it is impossible to trace the source of his story concerning the naming of Coffee Creek and the year it was named. Hardesty was born in 1846, well after the naming of the stream, so he was either told or overheard the story of the stream's naming from someone or had possibly read about it. It is important to note, however, that no newspaper published in Porter County prior to 1876 relates how Coffee Creek received its name, and Hardesty's history was published  more than 40 years after the stream was given its name. It is entirely possible that Hardesty or someone he communicated with fabricated the sack of coffee story.

Calumet Region map, 1833. Shaded area shows
location of stage road crossing Coffee Creek.
Source: Moore's The Calumet Region: Indiana's Last Frontier, 1959 [see p. 57].

Let's return to The Stroller's newspaper column once last time and then examine some alternative theories to the naming of Coffee Creek.

Who was Charles H. Bartlett whom The Stroller quotes at length about a coach mired in the mud, which was then dismantled, and parts abandoned that were later used by Potawatomie Chief Leopold Pokagon?

Charles Henry Bartlett published a book titled Tales of Kankakee Land in 1907, which is a compilation of numerous tall tales. In 1833, Chief Pokagon had negotiated an amendment to what became the Treaty of Chicago. The amendment called for Pokagon's band to remain in Michigan (near Dowagiac), which they did. 

Chapter XII, the last chapter in Bartlett's book, recalls a story concerning Chief Pokagon's wagon, and even includes a sketch of the chief in his war bonnet regalia guiding his wagon with a horse and ox. The sketch of Pokagon's wagon is rather peculiar. The wheels of the wagon are shown to be very heavy and solid. In Bartlett's story, he states that that the wagon consisted of "two massive wheels, each from six to seven inches in thickness and not less than two and a half feet in diameter. They were cross sections of the trunk of a great white oak." Obviously, these were not the wheels of a stage coach used for delivering mail as related by The Stroller.

Sketch by Will Vawter of Chief Pokagon's famous wagon.
Source: Bartlett's Tales of Kankakee Land, 1907.

Also in Bartlett's story, Pokagon Town is repeatedly mentioned as if it is a location in Northwest Indiana. The problem here is that this place name has never existed in Lake County or Porter County, though there was a Pokagon Town situated for a very brief period of time about six miles north of South Bend.

A news item published in the March 6, 1897, issue of The South Bend Saturday Tribune, makes mention of Chief Pokagon "Seated high in a wooden cart drawn by a little pony" near the St. Joseph River. The article fails to mention any of the chief's activities in Porter County or of the origin of his cart. A biography of Johnny Appleseed, published by Eleanor Atwood in 1915, also recalls Pokagon's "chariot," but it, too, is silent as to how he came into possession of it. Pokagon would pass away in 1841 at the age of about 65 years.

Neither the newspaper articles nor Bartlett's book refer to a mired in the mud stage coach. More importantly, Chief Pokagon is never mentioned in the five major histories written about Porter County. Other histories of Pokagon fail to introduce his activities in what would become Porter County.

Collectively, evidence strongly suggests that The Stroller merely weaved two stories together, Hardesty's and Bartlett's, and concocted several other "facts" along the way to fashion a more remarkable tale for his newspaper audience.
Perhaps the spilling of coffee into the stream did give rise to the naming of Coffee Creek. It would not be the first stream named because of such an incident. In Henry Gannett's Origins of Certain Place Names in the United States, published in 1902, a Coffee Creek located in Humboldt County, California, was "named from the circumstance of a sack of coffee having been spilled into it."
Personally, I believe the tale of a dumped sack of coffee into a Porter County stream is fictional; alternative and more plausible reasons exist to explain why this stream was named Coffee Creek. First, and most compelling, is the fact that there is no contemporary account that provides direct evidence of the coffee sack incident. Instead, it is first mentioned more than 40 years after it allegedly took place. Everyone loves an entertaining story, and it is conceivable that a tale was created because nobody really knew how the stream got its name. Also, the man most likely to know the true story behind the naming of the stream, pioneer Jesse Morgan, had already been dead for 23 years when Hardesty published his county history.
Second, according to Goodspeed and Blanchard's 1882 history of Porter County, Converse and Reeves (Rees) were crossing the creek "at a season of high water" when it was "swollen." A very credible explanation for the naming of the stream is soil erosion. Seasons of high water very often result in collapsed stream banks, even in areas where agricultural practices are not taking place. Was this steam brown or muddy when it was named, while other nearby creeks were clearer? If yes, then the creek could have simply been named Coffee Creek due to its coffee or muddy-like appearance.
Third, the use of the name Coffee Creek for a stream is far from being unique. According to the United States Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), there are at least 94 streams named Coffee Creek in the United States.

Curiously, one of the many Coffee Creeks in the United States is located in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Today, this Coffee Creek parallels Interstate 90 to the south just before one arrives at the cloverleaf exit onto Ohio State Road 11 while heading eastbound. One pioneer that resided very near this Ohio-based Coffee Creek was none other than Henry Joseph Rees of the partnership of Converse & Rees. Maybe Rees named the Porter County stream. It would be far from the first time that an individual would name a place, stream, mountain, etc. after one that is preexisting (e.g., Coburg, Valparaiso). Coincidence?

Word of Caution. William Ormand Wallace, or The Stroller, authored a column about Porter County history that regularly appeared in The Vidette-Messenger from 1953 to 1962. More than 700 of his stories were published; many were later republished by the newspaper about twenty years later to entertain another generation of readers. The bulk of Wallace's source material can easily be traced to the 1876, 1882, and 1912 histories of Porter County. These old county histories provided lots of facts presented in a rather uninteresting, and to be quite blunt, boring manner. Wallace had a knack for embellishing Porter County history.

In fact, Wallace's 1962 death notice says that his "articles eliminated the usual dryness of historical accounts by injecting fiction in his always interesting stories about early Porter county." Indeed, the majority of Wallace's columns are very entertaining. And good stories sell newspapers. Unfortunately, Wallace's columns were so well written that it is often difficult to tease out the fiction from the facts. Many readers have apparently disregarded the small-type editor's note appearing with most of The Stroller columns indicating that the historical series was "based on fact and legend...." (emphasis added)

Why does all this matter? Local history is always an interesting topic as it provides much of the context to today, whether published in book or newspaper form, or presented orally. But history can evolve from being solely factual to highly contrived when historical fiction or tales, which is the genre of writing practiced and published in The Stroller columns, evolves into believed fact by readers. There are literally several dozen articles appearing in local and regional newspapers that repeat fictional components lifted from Wallace's Stroller column. There are also local history books published since the mid-1980s that repeat Wallace fiction as fact.

The accurate telling of history requires researching contemporary source material and, if possible, triangulating across multiple contemporary sources. One should avoid reading more into source material than what it actually provides.

In addition, well composed history examines the people who made it. Very often biographical information provides the context behind an historical event, and can also lead to alternative rationales to explain historical facts. This article focuses on the simple act of naming a geographical feature: a stream. The first source to mention the naming of this stream as Coffee Creek appeared in 1876, but it does not specifically point to Converse and Reeves as the individuals that had a sack of coffee fall into the stream from their stagecoach. Rather, it was the 1882 county history by Goodspeed and Blanchard that appears to link the coffee sack incident to Converse and Reeves. Then The Stroller runs with these early facts to create a "new history."

Two alternative rationales have also been presented to explain why this stream may have been named Coffee Creek; though, admittedly, neither is as interesting as the spilled sack of coffee story.

Source Material

Books and Maps
Atkinson, Eleanor. 1915. Johnny Appleseed: The Romance of a Sower. New York, New York: Harper & Brothers. 341 p. [see pp. 244-245]

Bartlett, Charles H. 1907. Tales of Kankakee Land. New York, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 232 p.

Blake, Darius P. 1929. Early Days of Lake and Porter Counties. In History of Lake County (pp. 77-89). Volume 10, Publication of the Lake County Historical Association. Gary, Indiana: Calumet Press. 223 p. [see p. 84]

Charles C. Chapman & Company. 1880. History of LaPorte County, Indiana. Chicago, Illinois: Charles C. Chapman & Company. 914 p. [see p. 550]

Conley, Walter. 1932. Map of Chicago about 1833. 1 p. [Map]
Gannett, Henry. 1902. The Origins of Certain Place Names of the United States. U.S. Geological Survey, Bulletin No. 197. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Geological Survey. 280 p. [see p. 77] 

Goodspeed, Weston A., and Charles Blanchard. 1882. Counties of Lake and Porter, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. Chicago, Illinois: F. A. Battey & Company. 771 p. [see pp. 17, 35, 156, 215]

Hardesty, A. G. 1876. Illustrated History of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: A. G. Hardesty. 90 p. [see pp. 23, 31]

Howe, Frances Rose. 1907. Story of a French Homestead in the Old Northwest. Columbus, Ohio: Nitschke Brothers. 165 p. [see pp. 62, 91]

The Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Volume I. Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company. 357 p. [see p. 35]

Moore, Powell A. 1959. The Calumet Region: Indiana's Last Frontier. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Bureau. 654 p. [see pp. 51-59]

National Archives and Records Administration. Public and Survey Township Plats, Compiled 1789-1946. Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49 for Range 7: Range of Ranges and Townships: N and W R5 T1 - N and W R9 T37, 2nd Principal Meridian.

Poore, Benjamin Perley. 1882. The Life and Public Services of Ambrose E. Burnside, Soldier - Citizen - Statesman. Providence, Rhode Island: J. A. & R. A. Reid. 448 p. [see pp. 19-21]

Stewart, George. R. 1945. Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York, New York: Random House. 418 p.

Tenney, H. A., and David Atwood. 1880. Memorial Record of the Fathers of Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin: David Atwood. 400 p. [see pp. 53-55; biography of Surveyor Andrew Burnside].

Williams Brothers. 1878. History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Its Pioneers and Most Prominent Men. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Williams Brothers. 259 p. [see pp. 87-89]

Works Progress Administration, Writers' Program. 1939. The Calumet Region Historical Guide. Gary, Indiana: Garman Printing Company. 271 p. [see pp. 21, 71]

Newspapers (listed by date of publication)
The South Bend Saturday Tribune, South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana; March 6, 1897; Volume 24, Page 7, Columns 1-2. Column titled "Old Pokagon Town."

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; April 10, 1930; Volume 3, Page 13, Columns 2-3. Column titled "Death Takes Chesterton Woman Who Came to America Eighty Years Ago by Sailboat, at 91."

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 1, Page 5, Columns 4-8, Page 6, and Page 7, Columns 6-8. Column titled "The Founding of Porter County --- A Story of the Daring and Fortitude of Pioneers Who Came From South and East To Bring Civilization To Indiana."

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 6, 1949; Volume 23, Number 29, Page 1, Column 4 and Page 2, Column 3. Column titled "Porter County Atlas of 1876 Offers Wealth of Data On Early Life Here."

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 16, 1952; Volume 26, Number 37, Page 1, Columns 7-8 and Page 2, Column 6. Column titled "Centennial Plans are Complete: Chesterton's 'Party' Will Start On Sunday," by Kari D. Henrichs.

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Idaho; September 22, 1955; Volume 29, Number 68, Page 1, Columns 5-6 and Page 6, Column 4. Column titled "Indians Recover Wheels of Stage Coach Mired In North County, Stroller Recalls," by The Stroller (William Ormand Wallace).

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; October 18, 1962; Volume 36, Number 90, Page 1, Column 4 and Page 6, Column 8. Column titled "'Stroller,' Wife Are Found Dead," by Rollie Bernhart.

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; December 8, 1989; Volume 63, Number 122, Page 1A, Columns 1-5 and Page 12A, Columns 5-6. column titled "The Stroller: Author's Life as Mysterious as Stories," by Beverly Overmyer.

© 2021 Steven R. Shook. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Great history. I am looking for any pictures of the Hollands, Thompsons or Pagins from Valparaiso / LePorte area.

    1. You can find a photograph of J. R. Pagin on this Flickr link: