John Brubaker Becomes
Mayor Here in 1891

by George Nye

This is fifth in a series of articles on the history of Warsaw mayors, written by County Surveyor George Nye.

John H. Brubaker, Warsaw's fifth mayor came to Warsaw to live in 1880, the family having lived at Wakarusa prior to that time.

The Brubaker brothers, John and Abe, formed a partnership with A. G. Wood in the law profession with offices in the Moon block. Later the brothers withdrew and started a law office of their own south of the public square. This office was a landmark in town for 40 years. Abe withdrew to become cashier of the State bank and later Walter Brubaker became one of the firm of Brubaker and Son. They also handled abstracts, insurances and loans.

The name Brubaker has been connected with the legal profession in Warsaw longer than any other firm with the exception of Widaman. John D. Widaman came to Warsaw in 1875 and began to study law in the office of W. S. Marshall. There is no law firm in Warsaw older than about 75 years.

Brubaker married Harriet Bly and to this union four children were born. Arthur, Walter, Howard and Maurice, all of whom are living today except Arthur. While Brubaker was mayor the family lived on Main street, just east of the present George Stephenson home. He became mayor of Warsaw in 1891 at the age of 38. Brubaker died in 1936 at the age of 83. He was an able lawyer, an intelligent citizen, a man who was well liked and he had many friends.

Mustard on Doughnuts
We were sitting beside him in Carteaux's restaurant one morning and he was having doughnuts and coffee. We were greatly surprised to find that he was eating mustard on his doughnuts. He was as much surprised to find that I had never thought of that combination and told me that I was missing a great treat! We will always remember Brubaker with his still catey hat and his grey suits. He had a good voice and was doubt a good speaker. It goes without saying that he was a worker in the ranks of the GOP.

Brubaker was mayor during the panic of 1893, one of the worst that ever affected the United States. In Chicago the unemployed people paraded the streets in such numbers that the merchants began to fear that their stores would be looted. Mayor Harrison, of Chicago was assassinated in October, 1893.

An army of unemployed known as Randall's army encamped close to Warsaw at one time during this depression and the citizens here became alarmed. Tramps were very numerous on the trains, so much so that special detectives were employed to rid the trains of these non-revenue passengers. Wes Light and Bill Ripple had the job in Warsaw.

Had 2 Banks
Warsaw had two banks then, the Lake City and the State. The State bank was capitalized at $100,000 and the Lake City at $60,000. Albion Beck had a sort of a farmers' bank east of Shanes corner. It took only two men in those days to run a Warsaw bank. Silas Chipman and Abe Brubaker ran the State, and Bram Funk and Dan Bitner took care of every thing at the Lake City. The State bank was founded in 1863 and the Lake City in 1872. If an ordinary man had walked into either of them in 1893 and asked to borrow $200 they perhaps would have called the sheriff.

Daily wages for a 10-hour day was around $1.25. N. N. Boydston, the leading realtor of the town, said he had many good houses for sale in town at from $400 to $1,500. The best house in town rented for about $12 a month.

Bathrooms and running water had not yet come into general use. On most lots one would find besides the house, a barn, a woodshed, a chicken coop, buggy shed, a corn crib, and out house. A good well of water helped a place to sell.

Oysters were 20 cents a quart at Con Walters' restaurant, pie five cents a cut, sandwiches five cents, and a dish of baked beans five cents. For 15 cents a person could get a fairly good lunch at Cal Wilshire's place. At Jackman's New Brunswick cafe an oyster stew was only 20 cents. Maple syrup from Beniah Rosbrugh's camp sold for $1.25 a gallon, eggs were 13 cents a dozen and butter 15 cents a pound.

John Nye sold his cracked eggs for five cents a dozen. Jim Phillips once counted the cracked eggs in a wooden dish and said, "Why John, there are only 11 here." John picked up a good egg, cracked it, placed it in the saucer and said, "Now there are 12."

Streets Main Problem
Not too many changes were made about town in the early 1890's. The street problem and the sidewalk problem were the two major headaches of the day. Marshall Ward would grade the streets in the summer and put some gravel on those uptown and that was about all that was done. Wooden walks were beginning to give way to stone and concrete. Winnie Bates and Tom Lehew were the sidewalk men.

The new depot was built between Lake and Washington streets and thrown open for business in April 1893. Tuesday evening, April 18, trains first began to stop at the new depot. April 27 the John Bull engine and a short train of cars went through to the World's Fair. Some reporters from Fort Wayne rode as far as Warsaw. The train was a week going from New York to Chicago.

It stopped here about 20 minutes while the crowd viewed the old relic of the 1830's. Water for the contraption was carried in a hogshead just behind the engine proper. The outfit is still in some museum of the present time.

The United Brethren built a new church in 1893-94 at Washington and Center streets and the Peashwa building where the Sharp Hardware store is now, was built in 1894. It replaced several old frame buildings in one of which was the Chinese Laundry of Wong Lee.

The first store to use the new rooms was the Enterprise, run by Jakey Shields. this store had the basement and the first two rooms above. The Red Men's lodge had the third floor. The Enterprise was one of the finest and largest stores ever to do business in Warsaw but after a few years it was forced to fold up.

Will Frazer built his fine home in 1893 which we now know as the Bilby funeral home. Beyer Brothers, who were the proprietors of Spring Fountain park, built a ship canal in 1893 from Eagle lake to a point just southeast of the intersections of the two railroads. Capt. F. B. Pine had charge of two steamers, the Welcome and the Daisey. Several round-trips a day were made to and from the lake. The fare was 15 cents a round trip for adults and 10 cents for children.

Mandolin Popular
There was much doing in society circles in these years. A club called the Naulahka club had room in the Phoenix block. L. W. Royse was one of the members.

New Year's Eve, 1983, at Josh Curtis', a mask party was held. Mandolin clubs were numerous and were very entertaining. A mandolin had eight strings, four sets of twins which were picked with a metal pick. They sounded good with guitars. A Negro quartet serenaded the town on summer evenings. Two of them were Ott Riley and Frank Robinson. Rev. J. I. Hill was pastor at the Negro church on South street.

Edward Taylor was superintendent of schools. The class of '93 consisted of four girls and one boy. They were Lura Thomas, Ola Sharp, Carrie Swihart, Nettie Morris and John Sloane. Sloane afterwards married Ola. In the summer pretty lawn parties were held. One hundred and 30 people attended one at Bram Funk's where the high school is now. Funk lived in a large house here that sat high above the terraced lawn. Jack-o-lanterns lighted the lawn that was interspersed with lawn furniture and hammocks.

The Frazer home in East Warsaw was another favorite place for such parties. In January, 1893, the Warsaw Reading club boarded four bobsleds and spent the evening at the Charlie Rippey home, near Leesburg. Another company came over from Pierceton in bobsleds and spent tan evening at the home of Charlie Morris.

At the Opera House all winter long good plays were given. Davis' "Uncle Tom's Cabin" traveled in three palace cars, had a company of 40 people including Uncle Tom, Little Eva, Ophelia and Simon Legree. Seven bloodhounds were a part of the troupe. Ermine, a home talent play, was put on at the Opera House. Gord Rutter, Marian Loomis, Charlie Downs, Brownie Rutter and Zella Comstock were some of the players.

Time of the World's Fair
Much could be written about the early '90's but the biggest thing was the world's Fair at Chicago. The round trip fare was $3.25 on the Pittsburgh railroad and $3 via the CW & M and Lake Michigan through Benton Harbor. The Daily Times all summer long devoted most of the front page to the fair which was also known as the White City. Most all of the prominent people of Warsaw attended the fair.

The Brubakers spent the glorious Fourth of July taking in the sights at Chicago. It was the greatest thing of its kind since the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876. About the only man in town who did not get to the fair was Pete Evans. He was too busy helping Boney Mathews and Sheriff Stoner take care of the prisoners at the jail!

Warsaw Times Union Friday March 26, 1955

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