by George Nye
County Surveyor George Nye is writing a series of articles for The Times-Union regarding former mayors of this city. The first story, concerning Mayor Hiram S. Biggs, who served from 1875 to 1879, appears today and other articles will follow periodically.
After quite a bit of agitation pro and con a vote was taken April 19, 1875, whether or not to incorporate Warsaw as a city. Four hundred and 78 persons voted, 278 being for a city government and 200 being against it. Hiram S. Biggs, a prominent attorney, became the city's first mayor.
Some other officers elected May 4, 1875, were Charlie Ketchum, clerk; Marsh Parks, deputy clerk; S. B. Clark, treasurer; John Killinger, marshal; and Ed Green, city attorney.
The Biggs family settled in this county in 1936 in Prairie township. In 1847 the father died when Hiram was only nine years old. Hiram attended one of the log cabin schools of the day and later went to Valparaiso college and to college at South Bend. He taught school several short terms during the winter. He decided to become a lawyer and in 1863 entered the law office of Frazer and Frasier. After two years of study in this office he was admitted to the bar in 1865. for the next seven years he was a partner with the Hon. George W. Frasier, who died in 1872.
Biggs married Miss Alice Frasier, eldest daughter of George W. and M. H. Frasier. Two children were born to them, Arthur F. and Mable F.
Served in Legislature
Biggs was a member of the legislature in 1870 from this district. In later years he became judge of the Kosciusko circuit court. In 1882 he built the store room southwest of the courthouse and had his law office upstairs. He died in the early years of this century, a much respected lawyer and citizen.
The Biggs family used to live near Angleton. This term does not mean much to many people but it was the name given to the vicinity northwest of Stony Point. Will Anglin had a general store here, and there was a postoffice established here, and it was given the name of Angleton. It was on a star route out of Warsaw.
North Galveston, now known as Clunette, was also on such a route. The old store at Angleton can still be seen setting back in the barn lot, and inside the old postoffice boxes are still intact and one of them has the name Biggs on it. With the establishment of rural mail service about 1906 many of these smaller postoffices were abandoned as such.
Build Opera House
There are several things that might have stirred up the citizens of Warsaw about 1875 and caused them to want a city set up. The new opera house had just been built and the town had its first good auditorium. Shows, entertainments and school functions could be staged here. Hellers big store occupied the five west rooms. The new C. W. & M. railroad had reached Warsaw and this was a big help.
The northbound stage could now be tabled and people attending a political rally at Goshen could go on the train. A new jail had been built where Ben Richart had formerly lived and this might have helped some for there was much drinking and fighting in 1876.
The Boss block at the southwest corner of Buffalo and Market was built in 1877. The Centennial block on the east side of Buffalo street was built in 1876 the centennial year. A big fire in 1871 destroyed the old Empire block and this site had been built new including the three-story Odd Fellow building.
Another fire in 1873 had destroyed the block east of the present Centennial theatre.
Rebuilt in '77
Three schoolhouses had been built here in 1872, all being rebuilt. So it perhaps was true that about 1875 the town of Warsaw began to have growing pains and the people wanted something better.
Mr. Biggs was re-elected in 1877 and served as mayor until 1879. He used to live on East Fort Wayne street. His home was surrounded by a spacious well-kept lawn beautified with a fountain. To pump the water he had a windmill. He owned land off to the north and was instrumental in getting a canal cut from Pike to Center lake. The intentions were to colonize the east shore of Pike lake where Mineral Beach is today and have the people go back and forth via steamer which would land at the foot of Buffalo (street).
The late Silas Meyers once told us that he pushed one "steamer" through the canal along with other helpers and when they got through they went to Bob Hickman's place and had a toast that they would never push another.
Such was the Mineral Beach bubble! But Hi Biggs got his lowlands drained and what did he care for the colonization of Mineral Beach! And Martin Martin got six cents a cubic yard for digging the ditch.
Warsaw Times-Union Friday, February 4, 1955
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