Editor's Note: Interesting Reminiscences of Syracuse and Vicinity of Fifty Years Ago

The reader of our paper today will find in its columns a most deeply interesting reminiscent article from the pen of Leonard Brown who as a boy was a resident of Syracuse. It will be seen that he refers to seeing the old Kosciusko Republican on the table of his father when he was a mere child. The Kosciusko Republican was first published at Monoquet, by the Harris Brothers, the projectors of that town. It appeared for two years, the late Charles Murray, of Goshen, being its editors, and then in 1847, was sold to the late P. L. Runyan and Andrew J. Bair, the latter still in the enjoyment of a fair state of health for one of his age, now 83. It was but a short time till Runyan retired, leaving the Republican the exclusive property of Mr. Bair, with whom the present editor of THE INDIANIAN commenced learning the printing business. This was in 1848. Mr. Bair within a few years sold the establishment to the late John Rogers. Rogers became decidedly unpopular, and decided, when Williams & Fairbrother projected THE NORTHERN INDIANIAN, to remove to Iowa, and did so, THE INDIANIAN thus becoming the legitimate successor of the Kosciusko Republican, to which Mr. Brown refers, becoming the organ of the, then infant Republican party. This was in 1856, and we allude to it for the reason that there are still a good many elderly people firm in the belief that we fell heir to the original printing plant of this county. Mr. Brown's personal reflections will be perused with no little interest by the people of the northeast corner of the county. The Harvey Veneman to whom he refers, was commissioner of this county for two or three terms, and if we remember correctly, was along with the late James Bowen, associate judge -the law under the old constitution providing for three judges - a central figure, and two figureheads; the central individual supposedly having some knowledge of law, and whose decisions always ruled the other two. Mr. Brown writes very interestingly.

Interesting Reminiscences

Leonard W. Brown, an old Kosciuskoan, Formerly Residing at Syracuse
Writes from Iowa

Messers. Reub Williams & Son:
I have long had in view to write for THE INDIANIAN recollections of my boyhood days in Syracuse, where I was born in 1837, and lived till 1853. I then moved with father, stepmother, brother and four sisters to Des Moines, Iowa, which has ever since been my home. I visited Syracuse in 1888, the first and the last time since moving out here. At the age of sixteen, I quit the blacksmith shop of William Shelmadine, with whom I had worked learning that useful trade. After reaching Des Moines, I attended school and have spent most of my life in the occupation of a school teacher. I remember old Republicans on my father's table more than half a century ago; for my father was a loyal Whig. He was like all the pioneer settlers of Indiana, a hospitable man and liked his dram; keeping in the bottom of his bottle a sprig or so of tansy to satisfy his conscience that the liquor was only taken to "keep off the ager."

My mother was an earnest, enthusiastic Methodist, converted under the preaching of such earnest evangelists as Allen Richhart, who still lived in Syracuse in 1888, and his good wife, whom I knew when I was a child, then Mrs. John Woods. The Rev. John Woods was, when he died, a young man, leaving Mrs. W. the care of several children. My mother died in 1848. I was then eleven years old -- -my brother and two sisters still younger. My grandfather, Jonathan Smith Brown, my mother and one brother and one sister like buried in the cemetery at Syracuse and one brother near Mud lake. I can, in memory, re-people Syracuse as it was fifty years ago and more. Samuel Crosson was the founder of the town. He built a log mill west of the outlet of the lake as early as 1833. I remember when very young being in a great crowd of people and seeing the mill sink down under the waves, the chain having broken. A millrace was then dug and I remember well when it was dug and a mill built farther down the creek. In 1837, Syracuse was a flourishing village.

Mr. Crosson built a large frame dwelling with a ball-room up stairs. He had a family of beautiful daughters and one son. One of the daughters married Calvin Cory, another married William Guy and another, Jane Crosson, married John Gill. The girls were short lived, except Mrs. Guy; she was living in 1853. Jane, I remember well when she was a young unmarried woman. She taught me my ABC's The school house stood on the hill near where Widner's shop now stands. Mr. Crosson had one son, Samuel Crosson, Jr. He died when a young man about the year 1850. The widow was still living in 1853. A large store-room and dwelling was built about the year 1885 by Joseph Kirkpatrick. The crash of 1837 broke him up. This dwelling house was built about on the ground that the Methodist church occupies now. It was a large house for that day so far West, with a large brick chimney, with four fireplaces, two downstairs and two upstairs. There were no stoves in that day. I was eight years old before I ever saw a cookstove. I think that James Defrees brought the first one to Syracuse.

That was as late as 1846. The Defreeses came after the first merchants, Crosson & Kirkpatrick, had broken up, died or left the place. I remember well Father Defrees and his sons, James, Joseph and Rollin. Joseph Defrees was the first man I ever saw have a moustache. I was seven or eight years old then. All men shaved themselves smooth in that day, except the Tunkers, and they neither shaved nor cut their hair. Jane Defrees was a beautiful young girl. She died at about sixteen years. Elizabeth married Richard F. Mann; but I must go backwards several years and speak of Henry Ward. I remember him well. He was, I think, a partner with Mr. Crosson in the flouring mill, sawmill and distillery. Mrs. Ward was a cultured woman. She introduced silk production into Syracuse and planted white mulberry trees that for many years stood as shade trees in Syracuse. Mrs. Henry Ward was, if I remember, one of Mr. Moore's daughters who lived at the head of the big lake. Her father was the pioneer school teacher of that lake shore. Plenty of interesting anecdotes might be told of him.

Once he was being examined by a school committee. He turned on them and soon had the committee stalled. He was a good scholar, but he liked his dram, as all the old men then did. Cornelius Webster lived in Syracuse in 1836. He boarded with my father the winter of 1836-37. He agreed to give for his board all the venison he got from deer he might kill, keeping the skins for himself. He killed nine that winter. Deer were plentiful then around the lake and in the "pocket." I will name as many as I can recall to mind who lived in Syracuse in the early days between 1837 and 1853: Zebidee Wood, a blacksmith, Edward Desbrough, a preacher, Mrs. Desbrough taught school the summer of 1844 in Syraucuse; Peter Smith, a blacksmith and farmer in 1845, and he and Peter Hayner in 1845 manufactured cow-bells in Syracuse, James G. Ackerman lived in Syracuse in 1848, and Thomas Brown, a shoemaker; George Parks, a physician come there in 1846 and died about the year 1851. John Gill was a resident there from 1831 until later than 1853. Then there was Wm. Grissinger as early as 1844. James Hall moved there in 1847 and bought the Samuel Crosson dwelling house.

Thomas Davis was one of the foremost citizens of Syracuse for many years from 1840 to 1853. He was for a long time a justice of the peace, a Baptist deacon and a school teacher. In the winter of 1843, on Christmas day, his school barred him out to make him treat, as was then the custom. He treated the school to a bucket full of low wine (diluted alcohol) and several pounds of sugar. His school (boys and girs) all got full. Syracuse was a religious town; but not a word of fault was found with "Brother Davis" for this. Prohibition was not thought of then. In 1837 there lived in Syracuse one William Cassidy, and in 1839 Dr. Harshorn. The principal business of a doctor in those days was to bleed his patient. Dr. Shoe, who lived across the lake, made his own pills of vegetables, barks and roots. They were nearly as large as bird's eggs. Henry Hawthorn lived in Syracuse in 1848. He was a blacksmith. Hugh Calhoun, also a blacksmith, lived there in 1845. Andrew G. Wood, Joseph H. Wood and Samuel Wood were prominent citizens of Syracuse in that early day. Cyrus Davis, a brother of Thomas Davis, and Curtis Bales were residents of Syracuse as early as 1845, as was Daniel Blancher in 1843. My memory has been assisted in the preparation of the above by an old account-book of my father. I will bring my article to a close by naming from memory the farmers who lived then right adjoining Syracuse and a mile or so distant from the village. Harvey Veneman, Lemuel Veneman, `Squire M. Cory, Curtis Cory, Wm. Strombeck, Henry Strombeck, John Gordy, Jeremiah Cory, Jr. and Jeremiah Cory, Sr., Daniel Thorp, James Renfrow, Moses Renfrow, Samuel Wood, Sr., Jacob Ott, Mr. Terry & Taylor Gulick Zebidee and Henry Widner, Solomon Judy, Calvin Cory, Walter Cory, George Angel, John Baird, Henry Taylor, Mr. Funk, Mr. Guy, Jackson Cory and Robert Cory. Now I have missed a number of names, for it is hard to recall the names of all the men I knew fifty years ago. But how pleasant the memory of that long-ago period:

My native village by the lake.
Gladly a pilgrimage I'd make
Revisit thee, and paddle o'er
Thy lovely lake from shore to shore.

On Cedar Point do cedars grow
As they did fifty years ago?
And is the "big lake," too, as wild
As when I played a happy child?
Those islands too, do they appear
The same, and are they filled with deer?
Leonard Brown
Des Moines, Iowa

Warsaw Daily Times Saturday Dec. 2, 1899

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