Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Our county's first representative to the Indiana general assembly got into political "hot water" with the folks back home immediately after Kosciusko county was organized. John B. Chapman, who is the man who named both Kosciusko county and Warsaw, was the representative from Elkhart and Kosciusko counties when the name and bounds of our county seat were determined. He also was instrumental in locating the site of the seat of justice.

When Chapman came up for re-election, four candidates --John Jackson, John D. DeFreis, E. M. Chamberlain, and William Crawford --opposed him. One of the big problems discussed in the campaign was how to get means of transportation in the area. Chapman advocated the building of railroads, which was a rather unpopular stand at the time. The farmers were especially afraid that the railroads would cut their farms and kill their cattle. The majority of the people at that time seemed to favor the building of canals to provide a means of transportation.

John B. Chapman wrote a letter to the editor of the Northern Indianian (Warsaw newspaper) which was published in the issue of March 22, 1877. In this letter he told of a political meeting held in a store house at Leesburg during his campaign for re-election.

All five of the candidates spoke at this meeting. Chamberlain promised that if he were elected he would see that canal service would be extended to the area and that railroad projects would be forgotten. Several of the candidates criticized Chapman severely for choosing the name of Kosciusko for the county, maintaining that it was too hard to spell and to pronounce. Some of the speakers criticized the size of the county, claiming that it was too large. When it came time for Chapman to speak he stoutly defended his policy of encouraging railroad building, as well as upholding the name and bounds of our county.

E. M. Chamberlain was the successful candidate, but the policies of Chapman proved to be the lasting ones.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Apr. 28, 1953