by George Nye
This is the third in a series of articles on Warsaw mayors written by George Nye for The Times-Union. The first two stories dealt with the regimes of Hiram Biggs and William Cosgrove.
The third mayor of Warsaw was Edward J. Green, a young attorney of this city. Green had served as city attorney under the first two mayors, Hiram Biggs and William Cosgrove. Green was mayor from 1881 to 1885.
No biography of Green is on record in any of the historical books pertaining to this county. He was one of the speakers in the Blaine-Cleveland campaign of 1884. Some of the other speakers were I. W. Royse, W. D. Frazer, and Billy Williams.
It was the day when rural schoolhouses were much used for campaign meetings. A young men's quartette from Warsaw helped in these meetings. It consisted of Cliff Reid, George Nicely, Charlie Downs and Frank McConnell. It was a hard fought race and most people thought Blaine had it in the bag but Cleveland was declared winner. He was the first democratic president since the Civil War. Young Charlie Nye who was a clothing salesman on the road said he lost $1,800 betting on Blaine.
Green was interested in boating on Center Lake as were many other citizens of the day. He and Doc Eggleston and W. H. Standish sailed the Pinafore across the lake in 90 seconds which broke a record. It is likely that Green left Warsaw in the later 1880's either for the far west or for some larger city.
Fires During Regime
It was during the regime of Mayor Green that Warsaw was visited by several bad fires. On Sunday morning, Feb. 12, 1882, Charley Bayless, a carrier for the Daily Times, discovered that the caliboose was on fire. It was a one-horse jail just west of the present Gove corner. Nobody regretted much the passing of the old bastile but stored within was the old hand pumper brought here in the 1850's from Adrian, Mich. It went up in smoke. today it would be a valuable antique at a firemen's tournament.
Towards evening on March 21, 1883, the biggest hotel in town was found to be on fire. It was the Lakeview hotel where the Crownover store is now. The upper three floors of the building were used as a hotel. On the corner below was Pringle's saloon and east of it was Richardson and Moran's big dry goods store. On east was Grabner's hardware store and the postoffice with John Runyan as postmaster. The local fire department drained all the cisterns in the vicinity, then sent to Fort Wayne for help. Fifty-five minutes later some fort Wayne firemen with their pumper and additional hose were on the job.
Water was pumped from Center Lake and about midnight the fire was out. Center and Buffalo streets were littered with bedding and furniture. Runyan moved his postoffice over into Bob Hickman's saloon. Hickman sanctioned the move for he said the town could get along without one of its ten saloons better than it could without a postoffice.
Sunday morning, Nov. 25, 1883, a big fire occurred at the Lesh Manufacturing Co. and 31 men were thrown out of work.
In January, 1884 a row of frame buildings extending from the present Phillipson corner north to the Cosgrove brick burned to the ground. Jim Cisney who had a store on the corner lost $60,000. McCauley's hat and cap store, Danner's jewelry store, Mayer and Zimmerman's notion store were burned and Layman Sapp's drug store was damaged. C. W. Chapman and Mrs. Dick Loney rebuilt the block as it is today. W. H. Gibson moved his store to the new corner room from the Moon block.
Court House Built
It was during these years when Mr. Green was mayor that the old court house was torn down and the new one built. During this time the offices were moved to the basement of the Center Ward schoolhouse and to the lower rooms of the Methodist church. The commissioners were John Whetton, H. P. Comstock, and Allen Bybee. John N. Reid was sheriff; Joe Baker, auditor; J. H. Taylor, clerk; and E. Van Long was the judge.
Many men worked on the building which cost about $210,000. J. F. Tolan was the architect; Hiram Iddings, the contractor; and Wash Vanator was in charge of the work. Duncan Russell laid all the cut stone. Tom Lehew came here from Rochester to make the brick. He liked the town so much that he decided to stay here. Later he built many of the concrete walks now used in all parts of the city.
The wood used in the building was the finest walnut and butternut. Robert Hitzler, a Warsaw cabinet maker, had the contract for making the furniture. Biewend's drug store sponsored a card giving the main points about the new building. The total cost was $197,799.65. The bell and clock cost $2,300. The bell weighs over 2 tons. Height to the clock floor is 77 feet, to the bell floor 90 feet and to the very top 162 feet. The building is 99 feet by 160.
Mayor Green spoke at the laying of the corner stone on May 25, 1882. The Masonic lodges from Wabash and other cities attended. One thousand Knights Templar were in parade. The Odd Fellow lodge had a large attendance. Across the street in front of the book store they were selling a new fruit called bananas. They hung from 2 x 4's and were going at 25 cents a dozen. Some people were a little squeamish about eating them. It was the biggest day the town had ever seen.
It was in this period of our history that Fred, Ed and Chris Beyers bought the land around the Boss Spring, built the Eagle Lake creamery and started Spring Fountain park. The Nickle Plate railroad was built through the south part of the county. The last spike was driven at Sidney and a big dinner held in honor of the event.
Bill Hull, a long-haired butcher of the day, after attending a shindig at Joe Rough's house just west of town, was found dead along the railroad by Dick Hubler who was returning home from a literary at the Swihart school. Hull failed to make good his boast that he could lick any man in the house. His ghost walked the tracks near Rough's house for several months and stopped some trains.
Gas lighting was new in town. Women would stage an afternoon party, darken the house and light up the gas lights. Signs in hotels read "Do not blow on the gas."
In the spirited campaign of '84 the republicans stole Billy Binn's cannon from his barn and dumped it into Center lake.
The Funny Boys put on some shows at the opera house and one summer day staged a circus. Their parade down the main streets was really something. They had animals in cages, wild west riders, Indians, fortune tellers and what not. Tobe Aborn was their press agent. Ed Hendee, Jack Powers, George Smith, Joe Brewer, and Sam Manley were in charge of the company. For two days before the parade not a cat or dog could be found on the streets.
If one saw a crowd gathering on the street in 1883 it was for the purpose of watching a dog fight, a fist fight in which some claret was spilled, a first class runaway, or a rat slaughter in which rats one at a time were being released from a wire cage with some rat terrier dogs on the receiving end of the line.
Warsaw Times Union Friday Feb. 18, 1955