Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

On the early maps of Kosciusko county the lake which is now called Crystal lake in Harrison township is listed as Wooden lake. This lake was named after James Wooden, one of the first settlers of that area.

James Wooden was born in Virginia in 1805. When he was eleven years old, the family moved to Ohio. As a young man he worked at both the hat-making trade and at farming. In 1834 he came to Kosciusko county and bought a farm located just a half-mile south of the lake which for many years bore his name. His biographer says: "he was eminently fitted for pioneer life, being a powerful man; he stood six feet three in his stockings."

At the time Kosciusko county was organized the area around Wooden lake was part of Wayne township.

The township was so large, however that it was soon divided into six townships. Wooden was evidently a very influential man at that time, for he was given the privilege of naming his township. He chose the name Harrison, after William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe.

Wooden was the first postmaster in the Harrison township area, being appointed by president Andrew Jackson in 1836. The office was located in Wooden's home. His term of service as postmaster was short, probably due to the fact he campaigned for the wrong man in the presidential election of 1836. Two of the principal candidates for president in 1836 were Van Buren and Harrison, with Van Buren the winner. Wooden probably campaigned for Harrison --at least we know that he thought enough of "old Tip" to have the township named after him. Shortly after Van Buren became president, Isham Summy replaced Wooden as postmaster and the office moved to Palestine, where Summy was soon to build a grist and saw mill. As postmasterships were handed out on a "spoils system" basis, Sunny probably had campaigned for Van Buren.

Wooden's name was not only applied to the lake, but also to the community area around the lake for many years after his death in 1868. Perhaps some of our readers could supply us with the information of when and why the name was changed to Crystal lake.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Nov. 17, 1953