First Proprietor • Sale of Lots • Town Site • High Hopes • Great Designs • Parent Hive • Age • Central Situation • Prairie Poetry • Palmy Days • Early Road • Hitching Post • Concluding Reflections

As the time draws near (September 1st) for a re-union of the old settlers to be held in Leesburg, some brief memories of that ancient village may be read with at least a passing interest. Its history has been the type of many others; and perhaps will be for many more. Leesburg is the oldest town in Kosciusko County, and was laid out by Levi Lee, in August 1835. The first sale of lots was held in that month, and only one lot was sold on the day of sale. Lot 24 struck off to Doctor Sellick of Lagrow for $11. The Doctor failed to comply with the conditions of sale, and the lot was afterward re-sold to M. Beck, who occupied it with a store and a place of residence for nearly 28 years. Leesburg was first a hazle patch, and a very dense growth stood on the ground which is now covered by the best buildings; the prairie adjoining was thought too good to be wasted for a town. The village was early infected by dazzling dreams, high hopes, and lofty aspirations for future greatness; at one time it aspired for the county seat, at another, we projected a plank road to begin at Leesburg, run through Oswego and Fort Wayne, and terminate in Cincinnati. We had a happy feeling that we were the center of the world, and all outside of us our tributary circumference. Leesburg has been a kind of parent hive, which has colonized other places, in the county, and many of our present citizens of Warsaw, have had their former residence in that ancient and time-honored village. In point of age, it is not surpassed by many towns in the North West; it is nearly as old as Chicago, and has at times in its history, been swelled by hopes nearly as high as the great marvel itself. Being situated at the East end of Big Turkey Creek Prairie, with Little Turkey Creek Prairie, North, and Bone Prairie East; it was a centre, and having a wide scope of fine building ground, we used to look forward to the time when a large and populous town would be our certain destiny. But the population came not; years dragged onward in their weary flight, and hopes shrivelled in their pathway, the sun rose and set and bro't his annual equinoxes to the same number of inhabitants; spring and summer, autumn and winter, seedtime and harvest, came and went in regular order, and found us still the same; we grew in little else than age. The same number of confirmed loungers leaned hard against the horse-racks, and the same idlers smoked, chewed, spit, and talked horse-talk in the village bar-room. Dog-fennel and Gympson reigned supreme, and the maternal swine with her new litter, quietly rooted for grubs, or laid in her black wallow scooped out of our alluvial streets; we were to the last extent rural. Dogs barked, cocks crew, and geese gabbed, over the commons. W. B. Blain, compared the village to an "Illinois stock yard." Akin to the high hopes of early days and perhaps inspired thereby, a prairie poet gave vent to his feelings in an ode beginning thus:
"Immortal Leesburg earth's Metropolis
Before whose lustre cities fade to naught."

Whether the writer long maintained this lofty flight of eulogy, history and memory alike fail to inform us, we may however reasonably infer, that it would be hard for him to find many lines suited to his high starting point, and that he perhaps suddenly and abruptly came down to the dead level of the prairie which surrounded him. From 1836 to 1854 were the palmy days of Leesburg, in which it was the chief business point in the County. It's decline began from the time the railroad first reached Warsaw. The prairies in early days were called Egypt by the outside settlers, who went there to buy corn and at that time, Leesburg was its mart for the sale of merchandise. In those days settlers on Eel River bought their goods in Leesburg when they came to the prairie for their supply of grain. Many of the first settlers on the prairies were from Southern Ohio, Western Virginia, and Kentucky, large men with large hearts who (money or no money) seldom sent their customers home with empty sacks. Merchandising in those days was both pleasant and profitable. John R. Blain, M. Beck, M. E. Horan, Jonathan Moon, and Edward Archibald were the established merchants. E. Archibald is yet there, and I think can now boast of being longer in one place of business than any other man in the county. For the few past years, Leesburg has been in a kind of Rip Van Winkle sleep, which is now disturbed by the din of the railroad from Goshen to Warsaw, and she may yet again waken to a degree of life and business activity, if not to her ancient importance. She was once thought to be the centre of community, and was quaintly termed the "Hitching Post" to which every man would tie his horse. When the railroad touched Warsaw, that illusion was dispelled, and the post came down. Thus passes the world! The fine things of to-day, gives place to the new grand of to-morrow; our wisest predictions of the future are mostly at fault, and the only real umpire at last is time, who decides with certainty, and convinces by truth. August 9th 1870 B.

Northern Indianian August 11, 1870 page 2, column 8

Editor's Note page 3, column 3

We publish in to-day's paper a very interesting sketch of the early settlement of Leesburg, from the pen of an old resident of that town, and who has placed us under many obligations for original articles heretofore. We feel sure that his sketch will be read with interest, and we entertain the hope that he will furnish us with other similar articles.

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