Several weeks ago in this column we told the story of how Leesburg almost became the Kosciusko county seat in 1836 when the county was organized.
At a later date another town in our county had dreams of becoming the center of justice of the county. In 1837 William Barbee, Rolan Willard and Ezekiel French platted the village of Oswego. They publicly announced that they meant to have the seat of justice shifted from Warsaw to their new village. They erected mills and made other improvements, and by the liberal use of money, Oswego soon became a popular and thriving village.
At the time Leesburg was trying to become the county seat there was a plan afoot to cut six miles off the southern part of the county so that Leesburg would be nearer the center of the county. The Oswego interests revived the "clipping" plan, but this time with the definite determination to succeed where Leesburg had failed. Ezekiel French was a good organizer, and is generally considered the "brains" of the movement.
A combination was effected between the proprietors of Oswego and the landowners in the southern part of the county. In the revised "clipping" plan, Oswego was to be the new county seat. Also, a new county was to be formed out of parts of Kosciusko, Wabash and Miami counties with a seat of justice in Clay township (Clay township at that time included the area which is now Clay and lake townships.)
A solid combination was therefore formed against Warsaw, who had few friends outside its immediate vicinity. Historians feel that had a vote been taken on the clipping question in our county at the time, the Clippers would have won.
It was in 1839 that the clippers nearly got the state legislature to approve the plan. Representative A. L. Wheeler, of Plymouth, and Senator Thomas D. Baird were the representatives of this area in the General Assembly. Wheeler championed the cause of Oswego and the Clippers; he succeeded in persuading the House to approve the plan in what is described as a "stormy session". Baird, however, made a series of brilliant speeches in the Senate favoring the cause of Warsaw; the bill was defeated by a narrow margin in the upper house.
This was not the last battle Warsaw had to fight to retain the seat of justice. Later attempts were made to change the county seat, each of which form an interesting story and will have to be dealt with in future columns.
Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Mar. 31, 1953