Razing the Old Frazer Home

by George A. Nye

The late Harriet Frazer once told us that the old Frazer house on East Center street, pictured here in the early stages of razing to make room for a new E.U.B. church, was built in 1867 by her father, the Hon. James S. Frazer, who was a prominent attorney in Warsaw 100 years ago.

The old Atlas for 1879 reveals that Judge Frazer was born in Pennsylvania in 1824, his parents being of Scotch descent. His grandfather came her from England as a private in the English army but after reaching America he decided to become an American and the English army saw him no more. Frazer came to Warsaw in 1845 and opened up a law office. His advertisements appear in the Kosciusko Republican, a paper published about this time in Monoquet. He was a member of the State Legislature in 1847, 1848 and 1854.

During this period one of the big issues was free schools and Frazer championed the cause. The first free school in town was built in 1858.

In 1848 young Frazer was married to Caroline Defrees, of Goshen. Six children were born into this family, three of whom were W. D., Harriet, and Jeanette. From 1865 to 1871 Frazer was one of the judges of the State supreme court. In 1871 he was placed on a commission by President Grant to help settle some claims involving Great Britain.

After his father

s death W. D. Frazer carried on the law office above the old State Bank. Harriet was a clerk in the office and was court reporter. She began this work when Judge Edgar Haymond was judge of the common pleas court. She remained as court reporter during the incumbency of H. S. Biggs, Judge Royse, Bowser and Royse making a period of about 40 years.

Harriet died in 1944 being about 92 years of age. She told us once that when her folks moved back to Warsaw from Waukegan, Ill., about 1856 she went to the first free school in town and one teacher, a Miss Horan, was cruel to her. She said when she was a girl at the old home Walter Scott lived at what is now the northeast corner of Center and Scott streets. Scott street was named for him. He was rector at the St. Andrews Episcopal church and taught some at the Cowan Seminary.

Going east from Scotts one would pass the homes of Billy Graves, Dr. J. W. Quayle, a dentist: and the Billy Williams home now owned by Lloyd Johnson. Down on the corner at Bronson street D. W. Wharton had a wagon shop. She said east of her home and across the north and south street was the home of Lizzie White who cared for orphaned children. Later she was a milliner.

The ground on which the Frazer house stands measures 200 feet along Center street and 280 feet south to Market street. It has always been a very pretty place shaded by some excellent trees. It is said that the house contains seven bedrooms. Its overall measurement is 40x70 feet.

On top there is a square cupola where people could sit and look about over the town. This lookout contains the initials of many of the young men and women of days gone by.

The Frazer home used to be the scene of some very pleasant gathering s and in the summertime parties used to be given on the lawn with light from Japanese lanterns making the setting very picturesque. This ground has never been divided into lots and in early days it was "across the marsh." It is still described by a metes and bounds description.

The Kaufman family from Chicago occupied the house for several years after the Frazers sold the lot and they remodeled the old house to some extent.Now they have sold it to the trustees of the E.U.B. church and they propose to build here a new church to take the place of their old church building which was built in 1894.

(Photo from microfilmed newspaper -- sorry)

Warsaw Times Union January 12, 1953