Warsaw in 1879

by George A. Nye

In 1879 Warsaw was about forty-three years old and had a population of perhaps 2,500 people.  For twenty-three years there had been a good weekly paper in the town known as The Northern Indianian, edited by Reub Williams. This paper was then being published every Thursday in the Indianian building where the Lake City Bank is now.  The paper then had many correspondents in the towns of the county, among which were North Galveston (now Clunette), Mill Creek, Boyston's Mills, Morris Chapel, Palestine, Sevastopol and Oak Ridge, a postoffice southwest of Palestine.  Many people from Warsaw and Kosciusko county went west to Kansas, Missouri and Colorado, and the papers of that day were full of interesting letters written back home.  Major N. N. Boydston was agent here for western lands. In fact this western immigration became so pronounced to the Kansas and Salomon river valleys that certain communities round about were sadly crippled.  At Hiawatha, Kansas, a Warsaw colony had been founded by John W. Pottenger, one of our earliest druggists.  Emigrant trains went through Warsaw loaded down with people direct from Europe.  So crowded were some of these trains that the more daring rovers rode on top of the cars.  These trains were made up of just day coaches, so whatever the emigrants had to eat consisted of lunches they had prepared and when night came they stretched out on the seats, on the floor and on the platforms.  The running time of a passenger from her to Chicago was four hours.  Much time was wasted by standing on sidings waiting for other trains to pass or meet.  Confidence men would sometimes board these trains for the sole purpose of fleecing the emigrants out of their money.  One conductor just in the nick of time saved one man from losing $2,700 that he had counted out for the two sharks to grab.  As late as 1896 these trains were still run occasionally, but unless the desert is made to blossom as the rose the last emigrant train had been run over the Pennsylvania lines.

Old Pennsylvania Station
The two railroads in Warsaw in 1879 both did a good business.  Dwight Nichols was the agent for the Pennsylvania.  The busiest place along this road was down on Union street.  Here was located the passenger depot, the freight depot, a handcar house, wooden platform, and an inclined plane from which grain was unloaded directly into the cars.  Farther down, Jacob Elgenfritz had his pumping station.  Opposite the depot was Shorb's hotel and saloon and the brick mills of Shoup & Oldfather. This was a busy community fifty-four years ago.  The C. W. & M. road was then nine years old and connected Warsaw and Goshen.  A turn-table was located about where the depot is at present and this was for several years the south end of the line.  Their depot was in the house that still stands at the southwest corner of Center and Hickory streets.  Here Mrs. Ludy lived and sold tickets and in the same building was John Royston's cigar manufactory.  Both railroad companies were much interested in making Warsaw a famous summer resort so that excursions might be run here from Fort Wayne, Anderson, Peru and other places.  About this time Lakeside park was started.  Winona was still known as Wilcox's spring.   A "Y" was put in later so the Pennsylvania could take its cars directly to Lakeside.  Norman Beckley was one of the well-known managers of the C. W. & M. road.  Buffalo street and Center street were becoming dangerous crossings, so the city council asked that watchmen be placed at these two places.

Boats on Center Lake
Center lake, of course, has always figured quite prominently in the life of Warsaw people, the year 1879 being no exception.  O. P. Jaques had finished grading the foot of Buffalo street down to the lake and had set out shade trees. This was a project that The Indianian had advocated for a long time.  Many of the prominent citizens had yachts, sail boats and row boats, some having such names as Minnehaha, None-such, ark, Blue Band, Continental, Centennial and Paul Standish.  The Long John was owned by Samuel Weirick.  The Pinafore was a sailboat which crossed the lake once in one and one-half minutes, with William Standish as captain, and Dr. Eggleston and Ed Greene as mates. Standish was one of the leaders in navigation of our lakes.  "Port News" appeared in the Indianian.  Many boat-houses had been erected in a helter-skelter fashion at the foot of Buffalo, a condition that did not improve the looks of that section.  Jaques & Oldfather were leaders in the ice business and had houses that would hold twenty acres of one-foot ice.  In the winter of 1878-79 the ice was seventeen inches thick and so clear that large print of a newspaper could be read through it.  After the ice harvest was over the workers were always given an oyster supper at the Eagle restaurant run by Cal Wiltshire.

Much Building in 1879
During the summer and fall of 1879 there was a great deal of building going on around Warsaw.  John Grabner was building a room north of the Wright House which gave him an outlet on Buffalo street.  Samuel Oldfather was building one of the finest mansions in town at the southwest corner of Detroit and Center streets.  This had formerly been the site of a small but popular skating pond.  Diagonally from this W. H. Gibson was getting ready to build the fine mansion now used by the K. P. lodge and 100,000 feet of the finest kind of native wood went into this building.  The stairway was a masterpiece.  The Gibson family a short time previously had moved here from Pierceton.  R. C. Smith built north of his funeral parlors on Lake street.  H. P. Lamson was an undertaker here and he built the small frame we know as Dr. Siders' office and moved his parlors into it.  Billy Williams built the present McDonald hospital in 1879, this being considered an entirely new pattern in residence architecture.  Johnson B. Roberds, then county recorder, was building the brick house on Buffalo just south of the railroad.  B. Q. Morris built on the old brewery site just south of Marcus Phillipson's on North lake street.  here Alfred Randalls and Herman Lang had had a brewery started years before by one Mauger, of German descent.  John R. Nye and Andy Thomas were each building large dwelling houses on Prospect Hill on West South street.  Iron fences were coming into style and cement sidewalks were something new.  A tunnel was being cut under the railroad at Columbia street and in the fall of the year an iron bridge was placed at this crossing.  This was to relieve the people of Prospect Hill from waiting on the cars that blocked the crossings.  For several there had been talk of a new court house so that this program was being pushed in 1879 while materials were cheap.  The Oak Grove German Baptist church just northeast of town was dedicated to divine service on January 1, 1880.  Lizzie Wallace, who wedded Dr. J. M. Bash, was getting ready to build a fine mansion where the new postoffice is now, this corner being known as the Dr. Leedy corner.  Laubaughs used to live here and Samuel M. Hayes lived here when he died in 1876 while serving as treasurer of the county.  Laubaugh was an influential lumber man and Hayes was a son of Dr. William Hayes, pioneer at Pierceton.

The Old Weirick House
Much of uptown Warsaw was built of wood in 1879 so that fires were likely to break out at any time.  On Monday afternoon, October 27, 1879, the old Weirick house was found to be in flames. This was a hotel and boarding house run by Adam Weirick on the southwest corner of Lake and Center streets.  It was a large two-story frame building facing on Center street.  The upstairs was used for bedrooms.  On the corner downstairs was a bar-room and west of this was a larger room used for a dining room.  Back of this was a kitchen.  West was a room used as a sample room unless rented for store purposes.  Traveling men in those days carried many trunks and had to have a room in which to display their samples.  On the alley was the stables that were always a necessary addition to any hotel of this day when horses and buggies were used as a common means of conveyance.  On west across the alley was the blacksmith shop of William Johnson.  South of the hotel were two large frame buildings which had the customary rectangular false fronts so common in that day. In the building next to the alley was the notorious Hog-Eye saloon, once owned and operated by the late Elijah Evans, Frank McConnell, as a boy, once passed this place and to his astonishment there was staring out at him Deliah Brake, a notorious character, smoking a long black cigar.  She was so scantily attired, and the whole episode so frightened Frank that he ran all the way home to relate the news to his mother.  In this fire the entire hotel building was consumed; but, strange to say, note of the surrounding buildings burned.  Perry Brown and John Grabner had the steamer, a hose-cart, and a hand engine at the fire.  Grabner was engineer of the steamer which had taken several prizes.  Cisterns were pumped dry, the hand pumper was worked by people in turns, and finally the fire was out.  The east two rooms of this hotel were owned by Thomas Thomas and his brother, Andy Thomas.  A hotel had been on this corner since 1837 when Jacob Losure kept tavern here.  Commissioners' court was held here in 1837 after an adjournment was taken from the school house at Leesburg.

Mrs. Cowan's Grove Seminary
Another building that burned in November 1879, was the Cowan Grove Seminary.  This was a large frame building which stood south of the tracks on Detroit street.  It burned November 4, the fire supposedly starting from some hot ashes that were unfortunately placed near the building.  This old school building dated back to the early 50's and for twenty-five years had been the home of the select school of Warsaw.  Mrs. Lucretia Loney, now Mrs. Perry Jaques, was at one time a teacher in this school.  Jane Cowan, the originator of the seminary, had died in 1876.  Another big fire in 1879 which must have meant considerable  to Warsaw was the burning of the McCullough & Christiancy flour mills on the west side of Wooden or Crystal lake, about seven miles west of town.  These burned in march.  They were considered some of the largest and best water-power mills in the county.  This lake was then much larger than it is now.  At this time Con Walters had charge of the mill at Palestine.  Other mills were at Webster lake and at Monoquet.  Joseph A. Kindig had extensive mills at Syracuse.

Warsaw Business Houses in 1879
A few of the business houses in Warsaw in 1879 were about as follows; Frank Brothers had a clothing store.  William Wolf & Company were clothiers immediately south of The Indianian office.  Marcus Phillipson was on the corner in the Odd Fellows' block.  A. C. Hayward at 75 Phoenix block and McCauley & Co at 50 Buffalo carried men's supplies.  (This was before Warsaw was renumbered by Ed C. Aborn and Mel R. Williams, whose work was approved by the city council.)  Andy Bair, pioneer druggist, had a boot and shoe store on South Buffalo.  ed Snyder and George Kleder were proprietors of the Occidental hotel.  Chipman's store in Phoenix block was still going strong.  Bob Hickman had the Home Billiard hall where Stephenson is now.  Next to him was the postoffice in charge of Capt John N. Runyan.

Opposite the office was a feed store sponsored by the Monoquet Mills. Caleb Hendee and Jackson Glessner were pioneers in the shoe business on Buffalo street.  The Bennetts had a grocery store that was moving to South Buffalo.  Here, too, was the grocery store of Daniel Bitner, who had bought out John R. Nye, where Schlemmer is now.  South of this was Dick Rutter's hardware store.  Josh Curtis was a jeweler at 61 Buffalo.  Ed Hinds was also a watch-mender and jeweler in the Wright house block.  Uncle Ben Wright was still proprietor of the hotel on the corner where the cigar store is now.  The hotel was upstairs.  On the corner was Pringle's saloon.  George Pringle had lost an arm at Shiloh.  the Pringle brothers, George and Thee, were active hunters who usually left Warsaw in the fall with other sportsmen to shoot deer in the northern woods. Runyan and Milice were proprietors of the Corner Book store.  Here was also the office of the Western Union Telegraph Company.  John Bybee had a grocery.  Ettinger & Co. and Harvey Beazel were leading harness makers.  A colored barber named Henry James had a shop in the basement of the Boss block.  J. George Moon was selling the Manny single reaper at the old wigwam east of the Kirtley house.  I. J. Morris was his active competitor.  A reaper was still a curiosity that was trying to replace the old reliable cradle.  Dr. Burket in 1879 sold out his drug store to A. B. C. Biewend of Columbia City.  Charley Neff had a drug store. 

Other business men were Ott Brown, Bennie Becker, N. D. Heller, Milice Brothers, Frank Hetrick, James H. Cisney, Wright & Vangilder and Cal Wiltshire.  Wong Shin Foo kept the stiff shirt bosoms and the stiff collars and cuffs ironed glossy white for the dressy people of the town. Phil Huffman saw that the beer steins were kept cool and overflowing at his saloon on Market street.  His place finally got so bad that he could no longer get a license, and so Jimmy Oram, his bartender, got the license and then ejected Mr. Huffman with a blanket quietus.  Heller's store occupied the five west rooms of the Opera House block.  Mrs. Harry Oram for four years or more was in charge of the dressmaking department.  Her husband, Harry Oram, was working for Conrad.  The Orams lived on the present Times corner.  The Pierces had a millinery store where one could buy wedding hats, mourning bonnets, and dress caps and head dresses for elderly women.  A complete writeup of all the business houses at this time is beyond the scope of this work and we leave it until some future date.

Warsaw's Industries Then
Warsaw at this time afforded work for quite a number of people.  There were two foundries in town, a pulley works on Detroit street, two tombstone shops, several lumber mills, two wagon shops, some blacksmith shops, many livery barns, one copper shop, a broom factory, and at least one cider mill.  Joseph Carty had a foundry opposite north of the court house.  Chris Smith had another in the west part of town.  The pulley works was about to occupy the building which was erected originally for a woolen mills where the Croop Bakery is now.  Avery & Richhart and Furlong & Son had tombstone yards on Market street at Washington and at Lake.  Lesh's plow-handle factory, was a going concern on Columbia street the plant reaching over on Washington street.  A. W. Thomas & Co. were lumbermen in the large brick at the northwest corner of Center and Columbia streets.  The Trishes had a wagon-shop a block west of the public square.  Wm. Conrad was a pioneer in the wagon business and had two frame shops just east of the alley east of the present Hays hotel. West of these shops lived Varnum J. Card in a frame house with up-and-down siding.  A large boarding house stood on the present hotel site.  Hank Rouch had a horse-shoeing shop just south of Thayer's mill on Lake street.  J. D. Thayer had purchased the flour mill opposite west of the court house, formerly known as the Chapman mill.  Rouch & Case owned a place known as the Lake City Iron Works.  Daniel Deeds had a cooper shop.  John Richhart made brooms on North Lake street and Jack Schue had a cider mill east of the C. W. & M. railroad.  Perry Jaques had two retail ice houses on Buffalo street and eight large houses on the east side of the lake for wholesale purposes.  At the south end of Washington street was the bung factory run by W. L. Standish.  This factory used poplar logs from which they made bungs for cider barrels, vinegar barrels, molasses barrels and beer kegs.  This factory had to run day and night to supply the great demand for barrel bungs.  Dave Breading was there efficient engineer.  The whistle at the bung factory, according to reliable reports, could be heard at Claypool, "ballistics" being in favorable aspect!

(Concluded in another article to appear at a later date). Part 2 Warsaw in 1879

Warsaw Daily Times & The Northern Indianian Saturday, June 24, 1933

Back to YesterYear in Print