Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Kosciusko county land first went on sale in June of 1835. In general it can be said that the northern part of the county was taken up by preemptors and the southern part by speculators. Those "squatters" who had already taken up residence in the county paid off there preemptions during the first few months after the land went on sale. The speculators included such families as the Gilchrists, Barnetts, and Ewings. They entered large bodies of land in what became Jackson, Clay, and Franklin townships, while their purchases covered large tracts in Fulton, Wabash, and Huntington counties, as well as Kosciusko.

In 1836 fairly good quarter sections (160 acres) without any improvements ranged from $1,000 to $1200 in price. The price remained about the same until 1839 when there was a decided drop, and until 1845 land was selling for less than the 1836 price.

In 1836 there was plenty of money in the county. Nearly everybody who came had money and as a consequence real estate rose rapidly in value. The reverse was true in the years following. The nation-wide panic of 1837 and the sickness of 1838 took money out of the county. In the late thirties most of the exchanges were made by a system of barter with the use of skins and furs as a medium of exchange. Two coon skins were considered right for a marriage license. John Kimes paid his taxes in the spring of 1889 with several mink and raccoon skins. These were valued at a higher price than the tax he owed, however, so he received a muskrat pelt in change. Money continued to be rather scarce during the forties. Merchant advertising columns in the newspapers of the late forties include such statements as "wheat, corn, oats, beeswax, and eggs will be taken in exchange for goods," and "grain taken as cash."

In 1843 land was priced at a lower level than it had been at the time of the first land sales. After 1843 there was a gradual rise in farm prices; in 1848 the land was priced at about the 1835-36 level. If Kosciusko county were to become a thriving agricultural or manufacturing community, however, it was necessary that transportation be improved. The railroad proved to be the answer to the transportation problem, and in the 1850's with the coming of the "iron horse," real estate values rose rapidly.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Feb. 16, 1954