by George A. Nye
A newspaper ninety years old and published in this town is somewhat of a curiosity. A person peruses its torn and crumbled pages with a good bit of interest. It is a copy of the old Kosciusko Republican, bearing the date of Wednesday morning, November 18, 1846. This paper which was started as a strict Whig advocate was launched at Monoquet by Charles L. Murray in 1845. He later became representative from Elkhart county. The Republican was printed on a press that was purchased by a company in Elkhart about 1833. The press was brought from Goshen where it printed a paper called the Northern Indianian, later called the Goshen Express. In the early 40's the press was purchased by Fred Harris and brought to Monoquet. The Harris brothers had the leading store in this thriving village at this time. Murray ran the paper there about a year and a half and then sold it to Andy Bair and Peter L. Runyan, who soon transferred it to Warsaw. The building in which it was published at Monoquet sat on the southeast corner of Main and Prairie streets which intersection was the heart of the village. This was opposite Harris' store and cater-cornered across from James Hall's tavern on the northwest corner.
Monoquet Then Thriving
Monoquet in those days was a lively village as is evidenced by the facts related in James W. Armstrong's "History of Plain Township." He was a boy about the village from 1843 to 1852 and remembered the north and south street leading up from the mills to be sparsely lined with cabins and frame houses. Here lived Mr. Miller, the miller for Harris & Co.; Mr. Duncan, the village blacksmith; Mr. Hinks, the shoemaker; the Ingerhams; the Rev. J. M. Sadd, the Underwoods, and Andrew P. Koontz, who worked at the sawmill. On the east and west street running down to the bridge, lived Dr. Taylor, the postmaster, a Mr. Lamson, ex-postmaster, Nelson Watts and the two Bass brothers John and Albert. Lined up along the river at this time was a tannery, flour mills, saw mills and woolenmills. Under the Harrises and later under the Shulls, some of these mills continued in operation until in the 90's
Changed Hands Many Times
This old paper must be one of the second issues published in Warsaw, for it is Number 2 of Volume 1. After it was located in Warsaw, Bair soon bought out Runyan's interest in it and ran it alone for several years. During these years it was published in the old Republican building, a two-story frame which stood on the southwest corner of Buffalo and Market street. It was under the direction of Mr. Bair that the late General Reub Williams, then just a boy around town, set up his first stick of type and began to master the "art preservative." John R. Nye and William Pershing, two other boys about twelve years of age, also learned to set type in the old Republican office. The paper passed into Hiram Bair's hands and he ran it until his death, when John Rogers and Reub Williams bought out the establishment. Old John Rogers proved too slow and tedious for the impetuous Reub who sold out his interests and started on a western trip as a "jour." By 1856 Rogers had roiled the Odd Fellows lodge, which was a controlling factor at this time, and taking the old press with him he set out for Sigourney, Iowa, where he started a paper called Life in the West.
Founding of "The Old Indianian."
In 1856 Williams & Fairbrother started the Northern Indianian for the purpose of advocating the policies of the newly-formed Republican party and so, in a way, the present Warsw Daily Times really had its beginning at Monoquet in 1845 as a Whig organ. In March, 1845 John Tyler was closing his four years as president. The admission of Texas as the Lone Star state was his final act. On July 4, 1845, the Texas legislature ratified the act of annexation and the union was completed much to the embitterment Of Mexico. James K. Polk of North Carolina was then president, with James Buchanan as secretary of state. The Whigs were not in favor of the Mexican War for they saw in it the southerners' chance to extend the institution of slavery which they did not favor. When the call came for volunteers for the Mexican War, however, the Whigs were loyal to the call.
The Old Paper's Motto
"Better test the fallacy of a thousand errors by the use of sound investigation than to crush one beneficent truth," is the motto under the heading of this old paper. It was a four-sheet paper measuring about 15 x 20 inches, each sheet having six columns. An extra sheet in this particular issue contains the delinquent tax list which "is to be sold at public outcry at the east door of the new court house on the first Monday in January 1847." It is signed by Alfred Wilcox, county auditor. Wilcox was one of the earliest settlers in Warsaw. He wrote several articles on early history. In one of these written in 1877 he tells of the old Losure hotel on the southwest corner of Center and Lake streets and of the awful plague of mosquitoes and malaria which struck the village in the summer of 1837.
On the front page of the paper is a Farmer's Hymn to Thanksgiving, a long article concerning who should be the ruler of the home the father or the mother; and another article about George Washington. Medical advertisements take up some of the page and some short notices concerning the Mexican War. Santa Anna's wooden leg comes in for its share of comment. He had been exiled to Havana on the island of Cuba, but had been recalled in the fall of 1846 to again become president of Mexico and lead the army. General Arista was in command of the Mexican forces near Matamoras at the mouth of the Rio Grande The Steamers Vixen and Spitfire flying the American flag had been ordered to the Gulf of Mexico. Since January 1846, General Zachary Taylor had been in command of forces near the mouth of the Rio Grande at Fort Brown. Large bodies of Mexican marauders, infantry and cavalry had crossed the Rio Grande. The battle of Palo Alto was fought on May 8, 1846 and Resaca de la Palma the next day, both engagements being a victory for Taylor. It was not until fall, however, that another campaign was made and Monterey captured. During the hot summer months many of the Americans in his army died of disease, so that he was criticized for his inactivity.
Mexican War Period
War was declared on Mexico on the 11th of May, 1846. Fifty thousand volunteers were asked for and ten million dollars. Everywhere over the country war meetings were held. Three hundred thousand men volunteered. Perhaps fifty from this county were accepted and sent down to join Taylor's army. The men going from here left in wagons and contacted the railroad at Rochester. Most of our men returned but some died of disease and wounds on the hot sands of Mexico. On September 19 the battle of Monterey was fought and the city captured after routing an army of Mexicans greatly superior in numbers as compared with Gen. Taylor's forces. An eight weeks' armistice was declared which the Mexicans used to a good advantage. Santa Anna was recalled from Cuba to take charge of the situation at Mexico City.
Such was the status of affairs about the time that this paper was published. The Americans, although outnumbered by the Mexicans, were placing a well-drilled army against a people made up of half Spanish and half Indian blood. The Mexicans, however, were treacherous fighters and oppressive to those over whom they ruled. They had won their freedom from Spain in 1821. They were fighting now to avenge themselves for the loss of Texas. Under Samuel Houston the people of Texas had gained their independence from Mexico in 1836 after several severe battles. It was near the beginning of this war for independence that David Crockett, an ex-congressman from Tennessee and a famous hunter, together with a small garrison was massacred at the Alamo, an adobe house still standing in San Antonio. For ten years Texas remained a small republic until it was taken into the Union as the Lone Star State in 1845.
The Mexicans claimed that the Neuces River was the boundary line; the Americans claimed that the Rio Grande was the line. The war lasted most of two years and was settled by the treaty of Guadalope Hildalgo by which the United States came into possession of California and all the land between California and Texas. We were to pay Mexico $15,000,000 and assume all debts due from her to American citizens. The ink had hardly dried on the treaty before gold was discovered at Sutter's mill on the American fork of the Sacramento river and the greatest gold boom in all history began in California. By 1850 San Francisco had risen from a small village of a few huts to a city of 15,000 people, and by 1852 the territory acquired from Mexico had a quarter of a million souls. Enough gold was found in one week to more than repay all the money paid to Mexico for this vast area of land comprising California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and part of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
Big Soldiers' Reunion
At a soldiers' reunion held in Warsaw in June 1877, fifteen survivors of the Mexican War marched in a big parade and a few soldiers of the War of 1812 reported to Thomas Thomas. The Mexican War heroes, led by Henry P. Kelly, carried banners displaying the words Cerro Gordo, Monterey, Buena Vista and Vera Cruz. Captain Henry Walters, in true military style, rode a fine horse at the head of the artillery. Major James H. Carpenter was chief marshal of the day. Other leaders at the reunion were General Reub Williams, Captain John N. Runyan, Captain Andy Milice and Major Nelson N. Boydston. No speech at such a great reunion was complete without paying a glowing tribute to the heroes of Monterey under General Taylor and the heroes of Scott's campaign. In the spring of 1847 he captured the sea-port of Vera Cruz, then set out for the City of Mexico, and so completely routed Santa Anna and his horsemen that the Mexican leader abandoned his private papers and in the shuffle left behind his farm-famed wooden leg! To cap the climax the speaker always told how the boys then reveled in the halls of Montezuma!
What Old "Ads" Set Forth
Many interesting ads appear in this old paper. Jonas Hacker was sheriff, filling out the term of Ludlow Nye. The latter had passed away some weeks before its publication and was buried west of town in the old Ford cemetery. He lived on the southwest corner of Jefferson and Buffalo streets. This was ten years before the railroad was built down Jefferson street. Washington Bybee was administrator of the estate of Reuben Flanagan. Jesse Thompson and John Baker were executors of the last will and testament of Abraham Thompson. Sarah Ward, widow of Henry Ward of Syracuse, by her attorney, C. B. Simonson, makes application for the assignment of her dower in certain real estate including 102 lots in the town of Syracuse. Crosson & Ward had laid out the town in 1837. Crosson's Mills were located there in very early days. All notes due the late Dr. James Anderson are left in the hands of Rev. J. M. Sadd for collection. Sadd was a Presbyterian minister who had been sent to Monoquet as a missionary from New York State. He lived in a comfortable house at the north end of Main street near the church. The house burned and Sadd moved to the south part of the state. Dr. Armstrong was the first doctor at Monoquet. He was of Irish descent. He came to Monoquet in 1843 and was quite successful in treating a disease of the tongue and throat known as black tongue. It was very serious and few cases recovered. He was young and ambitious, so much so that he overworked himself and died April 14, 1846 being only 36 years of age. He was the father of the late J. W. Armstrong of Leesburg.
Monoquet in Early Forties
In Armstrong's History of Plain Township we read concerning old Monoquet that in the early 40's Van Rensselaer and Frederick Harris of South Bend, bought land at Monoquet. They were both stirring, energetic men who possessed nerve along with the spirit of adventure and enterprise. There was already a small grist mill at Oswego. Levi Lee also had a saw mill and corn-cracker about two miles up the river from Monoquet. At his mill the lumber was sawed out for the first house in Leesburg. In 1842-43 the Harris Brothers built a dam at Monoquet which made a lake east of the Leesburg road. Evidences of this dam may still be seen. They then erected a tannery, a four-story flour mill, a sawmill and a woolen mill. From these mills a street ran north and south up to the main corner of the village. On the east side of the grist mill was a sort of a lean-to built out over the flume. It had a brick floor, a box stove, and some cots for travelers to rest on.
A trip to the mills in those days was a time-consuming episode. The driver had to wait his turn and this usually meant a stay overnight. So around this box stove they swapped some big yarns of the War of '12, Indian fights, and stories concerning the hardships of pioneer life. Armstrong as a boy eight years old, was one of the interested listeners of these hair-raising tales of the border life. Monoquet figured quite prominently in the county's history for a number of years. Sylvester Murdock Huff, grandfather of the writer, used to tell of hauling loads of sawed lumber to Monoquet from Packerton in the 80's when ox teams were still used. In 1862 the Harris Brothers sold out to a Mr. Stoffer who in 1864 sold to Elias Shull, who had been running a mill at Oswego. Some of the mills were destroyed by fire, but were rebuilt. The woolen mill was perhaps the last to be torn down. No trace now remains of any of them but along the river bottom may occasionally be seen a big hewed timber which years ago was a part of the old Monoquet mills. The deed to the McConnell farm has its place of beginning at the northeast corner of the old headgate. Monoquet would have been a beautiful site for a city and did at one time bid for the county-seat, but the Pennsylvania railroad in 1856 was run through Warsaw and this seems to have blasted forever the chances that village had to become the county-seat.
Warsaw as a Village
Warsaw in 1846 was just a village ten years old. However a few of the merchants here advertised in the old paper. Samuel Shearer was a tailor in a frame building opposite east from the public square. The drug store of Thralls & Pottenger was on this same site just north of the alley. They advertised for sale four dozen primers, three dozen Webster spelling books, one dozen Kirkham's grammars, two dozen Smith & Ray's arithmetics, one Goodrich first reader, and all of McGuffey's popular readers. They also listed two dozen spectacles, twenty ounces of quinine, two barrels of turpentine, two barrels of tanner's oil, one barrel of Epson salts, 400 pounds of superior Ohio cotton warp, several kegs of square iron nails, and many kinds of iron. One thousand pounds of Rio coffee is on their list. Barter was the order of the day. Store goods were traded for farm produce. Some Mexican money used to pass. A coin called shilling was used, its value being 12 ½ cents. Some things sold at a shilling a pound. Some coffee was sold green and roasted in the home. Soft A sugar or brown sugar was used. Tomatoes were thought to be poison. They were called Jerusalem apples. Bananas were unknown here as a fruit for table use.
Business and Professional Men
Thomas J. Pearce was a Warsaw physician with headquarters at Pottenger's store. Elijah Hays was a blacksmith at the little red shop just west of the postoffice. He became well to do. In the 80's he built the present Hays Hotel. In his old age he signed much of his wealth over to the missionary society of the Methodist church. Andy Bair was a counselor-at-law. William Williams and James S. Frazer were two of Warsaw's leading attorneys. Both became influential men in the community. Eli Stanford was a wagon maker at Monoquet. H. Day & Co. ran the Oswego tannery. They advertised for tanbark, skins and hides. They tanned on the shares. H. Jacoby had a general store at Oswego at the southwest corner of Main and Second streets, just east of the postoffice. He took ashes, tan bark and hides in exchange for merchandise. Dr. Jacob Boss was an English and German reformed physician at Monoquet, a short distance south of the Harris store. His remedies consisted mainly of herb preparations the formula for which he had learned from the Indians. Dr. Jacob Boss then later moved in to Warsaw where he became well-to-do and built several of our store buildings. Joseph A. Funk was a Warsaw druggist. His father, Michael Funk, built the first Wright House, a tavern that stood on the present cigar store corner. Joe Funk was also about this time one of our first school teachers. He and his cousin, a Miss Yocum, taught in a two-room school house on South Indiana street. Moon & Cosgrove had a general store where the Strand theater is now. They accepted tallow, hides and beeswax on accounts. Peter L. Runyan advertised for plans for a new jail, the price to be $30. He was county agent and had much to do with the spending of public funds. A log cabin jail in the center of the north side of the public square was still being used. The prisoners were let down into a kind of a log pen through a trap-door in the second story. The new jail proved to be a brick structure erected on the southwest corner of the square. S. H. Colms had a general store on the southeast corner of Buffalo and Center streets. George R. Thralls was the county surveyor with S. R. Gordon as his legal deputy. His surveys are still on record in a very old book. He seemed to be much interested in this work. Grogg & Upson was a Warsaw tailoring establishment They made clothes according to the very latest styles from Philadelphia and New York.
Warsaw Nicknamed "Redbrush"
And so this in a general way is a review of the contents of this old paper of ninety years ago. Warsaw was then a struggling village of two or three hundred people living largely in cabins made of tamarack poles. In derision it was nicknamed "Redbrush." Fever and ague came around regularly every year, no doubt caused by the mosquitoes which came in swarms. Whiskey and quinine was a popular cure for this malady which was called the shakes. Warsaw was a very sociable community, however, and the story is told that very often a company of its citizens including Jonas Hacker, Billy Williams, Ludlow and Michael Nye, Amos Joy, Michael Funk and others would go out to some claim that some pour family was trying to pre-empt and spend the day erecting for them a cabin in which to live. Some freshly cooked venison, cornpone, berries, honey and spicewood tea made up their noonday meal. During this work the little brown jug was usually on hand. Life then was the simple life of the frontier where character and intelligence counted perhaps more than money and where a family had a wonderful chance to show to the world what kind of stuff they were made of. It may be that Warsaw was seeing its best days in this pioneer period long before the frivolities of so-called civilization made their inroads into our simple life.
Warsaw Daily Times and The Northern Indianian Sat. July 11, 1936
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