by George A. Nye
Palestine, eight or nine miles southwest of Warsaw, has been a beloved community in our county for 101 years. It was surveyed on the banks of Trumble's creek in April, 1837, by George Bumgardner. The plat of the village was filed May 3, 1837, by Islam Summy, the proprietor. The plat was notarized by G. W. A. Royse, who was a justice of the peace at that time. Mr. Royse was the father of our first citizen Judge L. W. Royse. the creek is now known as Trimble creek. It flows northwestward from Palestine lake and enters the Tippecanoe river. The plat of Palestine originally contained 96 lots but in 1879 some of the lots were vacated. The north and south streets are Mill street, Miami street, and Columbus street. The others are 1st, 2nd, etc. The location of Palestine was, of course, determined by the mill site. There is fall enough in the creek to maintain a head of water sufficient for running the grist mill most of the year. It was founded when steam engines were very scarce in this new country and when there was a necessity for grist mills to which the early settlers could take their grain and return home with flour and feed for stock. There were other such mills in the county at this time at Oswego and Monoquet. The first grist mill at Palestine was built by Islam Summy father of the late Mel Summy and grandfather of ex-Surveyor Paul Summy. The name of Islam Summy appears on the old assessment rolls of 1837 compiled by Henry Felkner, the assessor.
Decline Started in 1882
The heyday of Palestine was before the year 1882 when the Nickel Plate railroad went through south of the village a mile or so and the town of Burket came into existence. The early 80's marked the beginning of the decline of the village as a trading center. In the early 90's some of the frame store buildings were still standing on the west side of the main street. They have long since disappeared and for years only one store has been located there and it is on the east side of the street. During the 60's and 70's the village was a live place where there were grocery stores, drug stores, a saloon, a blacksmith shop, a doctor's office and a postoffice. During these days means of communication and travel were quite primitive so that a trip into Palestine on horseback or in the buggy took as much time as a trip would now take if the part went to the county seat.
Prominent Family Names
Some of the older generation of landowners who owned land around the village of Paletine in 1866 are shown on a map, possessed by the writer, dated 1866. Some of them were W. Gochenour, J. Andrick, L. Andrick, and R. Andrick, M. A. Calkins, A. Philpott, J. H. Mayers, J. Rupe, J. Everly and J. Hastings, all of whom lived northeast and east of the village. To the northwest lived S. Shirey, J. Romine, S. Vandermark, E. Clark, L. L. Latimore, J. M. Jacobs, J. Borton, B. Borton, And A. Melton. To the south and west lived C. Sarber, D. Williams, S. Vandermark, J. Hartman, Porter & Blackmore, W. E. Sarber, H. Milburn, J. Kibler, A. Messersmith and A. Warren. To the Southeast lived D. Williams, A. Ault, J. I Best, H. Sewell, W. Magner, M. Hatfield, H. Bowser, and E. Rupe. These are the names appearing on the map. Some of them may have been absent landlords and lived elsewhere. The 160 acres on which the town of Burket has since been built was then owned by E. Burket and S. A. Byers. Just west of the present site of Burket, J. Weirick owned 160 acres. This map shows a steam sawmill near the southwest corner of the village of Palestine where B. Davis and D. Hubler owned a small tract of land. It appears that the grist mill site at this time was owned by the heirs of J. H. Mayers. A cemetery was northwest of the mill./ An old road is shown angling to the south and west leaving the southwest corner of the village. It came out to the north and south road at school No. 6 which is now just south of Burket a half mile. Kiblers, Messersmiths, McSherrys and Millers lived along this road. On the road east to the Devil's backbone a Baptist church is shown on the farm of Mr. Gochenour, and a half mile east of it at the crossroads is shown school No. 15. About two miles west and a little north of the village is shown school No. 9 on the corner of Mr. Barton's land. Tabor & Ewing who were Indian traders owned two sections of land west and north of this school.
N. Henderson, Millright
Thirteen years later in 1879 a very complete atlas of the county was published. The village of Palestine at that time was surrounded by some of the most prosperous farmers of the county. The Gochenours, the Andricks, the Rupes, Shivelys, Ebys and Hendersons were north and east. N. Hendrson was then running the mill. to the north and west were the farms of J. Latta, S. Shirey, G. Cook, W. Keller, T. Holman, W. H. R. Kay, A. & E. Hatfield, J. Galloway and R. Huffer. To the south and west lived S. Vandermark, S. Lattimore, H. B. Dunnuck and G. R. Stillwell. To the south and east of the village lived W. H. Loehr, D. Shutt, T. Davenport, J. Brunner, J. T. Alt, A. E. Mayer, R. Foreman, and B. D. Kinsey. The present site of Burket was owned then by E. Burket and S. A. Williamson owned the 160 acres south of this. A. U. B. church and School N. 6 were just one-half mile south of the future site of Burket.
Mill Built in 1838
From this atlas (Kingman Bros. Standard Atlas of Kosciusko County Indiana, 1879) we find that the first mill in Harrison township was the one at Palestine built by Islam Summy in 1838. It was a mill for grinding grain and also for sawing wood. Though very primitive, being a burr mill, it did a great service for this community. It further says that Daniel Underhill in 1836 had the first general merchandise store at Palestine in a log cabin. The first postoffice in the township was at the home of James Wooden but during the early part of Van Buren's administration (1836-1840) it was moved to the village of Palestine and Islam Summy was appointed postmaster. The earliest settlers in and around Palestine were James Wooden, Andrew Sell, Thomas Romine, Daniel and John Underhill, Thomas Reed, Joseph Shively, William Blue, Islam Summy, and Christian Sarber. These all came between 1834 and 1836. The first marriage in the township was April 29, 1840, when "Billy" Williams, later a famous politician, married Miss Eliza Jane Douglas. During the years 1856 and 1857 the Methodist church building was built at Palestine. It was dedicated in 1859 by Rev. Jacob Colclazer who at one time was minister at Warsaw. The church trustees then were A. E. Mayer, William Sarber, Elijah Baker, John Fresh and William Daugherty. Prior to the building of the church building the congregation had their services in a blacksmith shop.
Thriving Village in 1870's
It would be interesting to talk to an oldtimer who as a boy played on the main streets of Palestine during the 70's. At that time Ezra Uplinger had a general merchandise store there and sold liquors. The selling of wines and spirituous liquors in general stores was then common over the county. Adam Horn had a drug and grocery store. These were the days of real drug stores when a doctor could find there such medicines as he needed. Henderson and Ward were running the grist mill at this time. J. W. Heffley and F. M. Pearman were two local physicians. These were subject to a hard life during the winter months. Many a person in need of immediate medical attention was forced to wait until some member of the family could ride into town for the doctor.
Dr. Pearman, Postmaster
Dr. F. M. Pearman had two daughters, one of whom we know as Mrs. Ed Meyers and the other as Mrs. Hugh Kingery. He later moved to Warsaw and lived in the present Dillingham property on North Buffalo street. He was postmaster at Palestine in 1879 under President Hayes. Palestine was then on a star route out of Warsaw. A hack went through to Palestine and Beaver Dam daily from the Weirick House. In 1879 George M. Weirick was running a boot and shoe store at Palestine. He was borthered with a burglar who several times robbed his store. To put a stop t this he laid in wait one night and when the robber showed up in his store that night Weirick opened fire on him and the robber was killed. Weirick had a son at the village who, though rather rough in his early days was later converted to Christianity and became a successful evangelist. As an elderly man George Weirick mended shoes in a shop in Warsaw. His shop in 1898 was in the basement, some doors east of the Haymond corner on Center street. Later he went to Mishawaka. He was a very kind old gentleman with whom the writer has had many a chat while getting his shoes half-soled.
Smaller Peaceful Village
While the history of Palestine since the 90's is a story not filled with romance of the period just after the Civil War, yet it is a story of a peaceful village on the shores of Trimble creek and Palestine lake. People have moved there to live in quietness far removed from the smoke and noise of the city. It will always be a very pleant place to live and with our good pavements and automobiles today a person can live away from the city and yet be home in a short time after his work is over. For years the village school children have been hauled to Burket. The schoolhouse used to be opposite the Methodist church. Some of the teachers were Sam McDaniels, Charlie Hudson, Mr. McCullough, Tom Loehr and his sisters, and Henry Bradley. To write a complete story of the village would be an interesting task necessitating a great deal of communication with such old-timers as John Wainwright, Elmer Vandermark, Mr. Sarber, the present "Mayor of Palestine," and members of the Black family, the Fisher family, and the Henderson families, all of whom were prominent there in early times.
In 1902 John Sloan ran the grist mill. He and his good family lived in a large house on the main street. Flour was then hauled to Warsaw, Burket, Mentone and other towns. The pavement was built through the village as the Turner Road about 1926 when a great deal of road building was being done by the county with Stanley Boggs as surveyor.
On First Paved Road
The Vandermark road beginning at the west edge of the village and running into Mentone was one of the first hard-surface roads in the county. It was built when Paul Summy was county surveyor about 1917. Elmer Vandemark was sponsor of the road. He was the first man in the county to deliver mail in an automobile. For several years he directed a fine band at Palestine which was so accomplished that it was often invited away from home. During some of Warsaw's street fairs the Palestine band furnished the music. It was composed of both men and women.
Villages Lack Railroads.
It might be said that Palestine is only one of the several communities which had its future changed by railroads coming through the county years ago. Others were Kinsey, Monoquet, Oswego, Clunette, Millwood, Beaver Dam, Orion, Charlottesville, Wooster, Packerton and Hepton. In the early days of our settlements the Tippecanoe river was a factor to be considered for steam power had not come into general use. When it did in the 50's the mills along the river were no longer patronized so well. The coming of the Pennsylvania railroad in 1856 sounded the knell of such villages as Monoquet and Oswego. The coming of the Nickel Plate railroad in the early 80's made the towns of Sidney, Claypool, Burket and Mentone and undermined Kinsey, Palestine, Dodgertown, and Beaver Dam as trade centers.
Larger Centers Get Trade
With continued progress and good roads the smaller villages have suffered almost a complete loss of trade except those which are conveniently located near a lake resort. The town of Charlottesville was actually laid out as a trafficking center on the Tippecanoe river in Harrison township but never materialized. The consolidation of schools beginning about 1900 under the leadership of Edison B. Sarber, detracted from the smaller villages as social centers. The rural churches have had a difficult time to keep up their membership. And so taking the situation all in all the so-called progress of the last fifty years has drained the small villages of their one-time importance. Nevertheless every village in the county has an interesting history which if written by some old-timer who knew the facts first-hand would be very fascinating to this later generation which knows little or nothing about the perils, hardships, and trials that confronted the early pioneers. When this is written the story of Palestine will be one of the most romantic and picturesque of all those pertaining in this county. The picturesque Palestine mill is now operated by Edward Shirey using water power. The narrow Palestine bridge, scene of many bad auto accidents will some day give way to a wider and less hazardous structure.