By George A. Nye
Fifty years ago Warsaw was booming perhaps as it never had boomed before. It is difficult to say, however, just when Warsaw did boom the most for old timers of the seventies used to mention the boom times before the war and mention the fact that the biggest boom used to be in the forties in front of Loney's store. Reub Williams used to remark sixty years ago in The Northern Indianian that "the crowd in town last Saturday reminded him of olden times in front of Loney's store." This store was the Crystal Palace opposite the present Eagles' Temple. To one who makes a careful perusal of the papers of the early 80's it appears that these years marked a period of great prosperity for this vicinity. In any event the times were a considerable contrast to the present.
Courthouse Cornerstone Laying
The eighties found uptown Warsaw largely a city of wood and left it a city of brick and mortar. It was in 1882, on the 25th of May, that the cornerstone of our present courthouse was laid with much ceremony. Governor Albert G. Porter, of Indiana, and Mayor Edward J. Greene, of Warsaw, delivered the two main addresses of the afternoon. Attorney W. S. Marshall was president of the day. It is said that there were 20,000 people in Warsaw that day. Every train brought hundreds to town. Many lodge attended from cities as far away as Lima, Ohio. Over a thousands lodge members, led by the Warsaw Silver Cornet Band, staged a grand parade. The company was made up mostly of Knights Templar, Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows. All about the public square stonemasons were working. Derricks were busy lifting the heavy stone in place. One of these was even higher than the Wright House which was a four-story building. Steam engines were used to lift dummy elevators loaded with brick. Everywhere workers were busy pushing the work to rapid completion. Capt. Hiram Iddings, of Kendallville, was the contractor. The building of courthouses was popular during this period. One at Anderson was built the same year. In county seats all about us the rising generation was doing away with frame and brick courthouses and building new ones bigger and better. One early building still stands. It is a brick courthouse built in 1862 which stands on the southeast corner of the town square at Angola.
A Building Boom
The building of the new courthouse seems to have started quite an active building campaign. Henry Lathrope built a new building for his saloon opposite east from the public square, using the same kind of stone. His former building had been a frame with wooden porch built out over the walk. Thomas built opposite south from the square the rooms which are still in use. Thomas Thomas and his son, Charles, had been in business in Warsaw for twenty-five years. West of Thomas' Hiram Biggs built the handsome structure which still stands. This was just east of Hitzler's furniture store which was then a two -story frame. All of the four rooms just east of the corner candy kitchen were built in 1882 by enterprising citizens. In order going east they were built by Metcalf Beck, an old retired merchant; E. R. Wright, William Conrad, and a promising young man, Wilbur Maish. Reub Williams remarked that it was unfortunate that this left one old frame next to the alley opposite Billy Binns' store. This was recently removed by Joe Foote. For years it was Yost's cigar store. In 1882 the Hendee & Wright building was built just south of the present Globe Clothing Store. It was not until three years later that the present Phillipson corner was built by Col. C. W. Chapman. This site is 1882 was a sort of a feed-yard for horses. Farmers could drive in there and unhitch and feed. Samuel Sechrist and Levi Zumbrum were two active contractors of the day. Nate McConnell ranked high as an interior finisher. Jimmy Oram was one of the best paper-hangers in town.
Advent of Telephone
In 1882 Warsaw was just getting introduced to telephone. Dr. W. H. Eggleston was one of the first to install one of these talking devices. The first phone message was sent out to the home of Judge Frazer in East Warsaw. The idea of the telephone spread to some extent, but it was not until in the nineties that there were really many patrons. At that time the central was upstairs in the corner room of the Moon block. There was much talk in 1882 of telephone lines to the small towns of the county. Another innovation of 1882 was gas. J. D. Kutz seems to have been the first gas man of prominence. Gas was the up-to-date lighting medium of the early 80's. No new home was complete without chandeliers with just common burners. A large one was installed in the Methodist church. Our courthouse was planned for gas lights and fireplaces. Warsaw placed a gas post at all prominent corners about the town. A man was hired to light them in the evening and turn them off in the morning. The globes, too, had to be swabbed out daily. This was one man's job. Gas lights stayed in the old town for about fifteen years. They were better than nothing, but even with them many people still carried lanterns if they lived very far out. A few of these old gas posts may still be seen about town doing duty as clothes line posts.
Water Supply for Fire Protection
Warsaw of 1882 still depended on cisterns for fire protection. These were on all main corners. They were kept full by pumping the water from some nearby pump. Nelson and John Richhart were two of the pumpers of the day. Nelson would lead John up to the pump handle and John would do most of the pumping. From these cisterns the water for a fire was pumped by a steam pumper. It was not until about 1886 that the water works was installed at the foot of Buffalo street. The fire department consisted of two companies, the Never Fails and the Protection Engine Company No. 1. They had parade suits so that on special occasions they could come out in uniform and take part in the doings of the day. Perry Brown was fire chief and William Conrad was foreman. The apparatus was either pulled to the fire by hand or hooked onto a dray pulled by a team of horses. To announce the fact that a fire had broken out every whistle in town and every bell was at the command of the department. The loudest whistle in town was the siren whistle at the bung factory in Frog Town; Lesh & Hascall's factory was a close second.
Old Calaboose Burns
On Sunday morning, February 12, 1882, as Charlie Bayless was distributing the Sunday morning edition of The Daily Times he discovered that the old calaboose was all in flames. This was a small building about 20x20 with barred windows which stood just west of where the Union office is now. Then it stood just opposite Dr. Bash's new home. It had been built some twenty years before to put drunks in until they sobered up. In spite of the mud in the streets the firemen managed to get the old steamer down the street. Their efforts, however, were devoted to putting out the fire on adjoining buildings, especially the home of Mrs. John Lane. As for the calaboose no tears were shed because the devouring element made it take the air. A man was seen running down the alley with an oil can in his hands but nobody pursued him or cared much who he might be. There was a sad phase to the fire in this respect. Our first fire engine was consumed in the flames. It had been placed in here for safe keeping. "The Old Tub" was bought in '58 at Adrain, Michigan, and was said to have been the first engine taken west of Detroit. It had paid for itself many times and was used in the big fire on Center street in 1867.
Warsaw Mercantile Establishments
The stores of the early 80's in Warsaw consisted of about all the kinds we have now and then some. Of course they kept open at night, there being no regulation amongst the merchants about closing. Most of the stores were lighted with large oil lamps hanging from the ceiling. Each of the front windows were lighted by such a lamp. Most of the stores were heated with a big stove in which wood was burned. With the stove full of maple and jack oak and the draft open the stove became so hot that all the loafers had to move back. Grocerymen carried varied stocks. In a grocery store one might have found a line of buggy whips, jack knives, dishes, some silverware, a few books, fresh pork in season, live chickens, and fresh sauerkraut. The front door to many stores was up higher than the sidewalk so that the basement could be used. This permitted large lower windows on each side of the door. Saloons, barbershops, restaurants and bakeries were about the town in some of the basements. A man named John Brown started a restaurant years ago in the basement of the present Globe building. There was a restaurant in the west basement of the Opera House block in the early 80's A saloon used to be in the basement of the frame building that used to set where Foote's restaurant is now.
Newspapers in Early 80's
In 1882 there were two Republican papers being published in Warsaw. One was the Republican by Quin Hossler and the other was the Northern Indianian by Reub. Williams & Son. They consolidated into the Indianian-Republican in the summer of 1882. The paper was published in the building where the Lake City Bank is now. The part not occupied by this bank in 1882 was used by the paper. Williams & Hossler built this building about 1873 after the Empire fire. The initials W. & H. are still on the front columns of the building. It used to be considered one of the handsomest buildings in the town. Two stone dogs used to guard the front doors, and there was a door on each side of the front of the building, one leading upstairs to the editorial and composing rooms, the other to the business office. Beautiful heavy oak doors showing a printing press in walnut overlay on each were used. Just south of the Indianian in 1882 was Phillipson's clothing store. This store had been down on the corner to the south, but this corner was now occupied by Scott & Bartol's dry goods store. The First National Bank, later the State Bank, had just moved from East Market Street to the southwest corner of Buffalo and Market. Milice Brothers moved their butcher shop into the room just west of the opera house left vacant by the bank. Some business houses on south Buffalo at this time were Comstock's grocery, Rutter's hardware store, Pierce's Occidental Hotel, and a general store run by W. H. Gibson who had come here from Pierceton. Two of the young clerks in Gibson's store were Hugh Kingery and Charles Nye. Gibson had the two corner rooms in the Moon Block. By 1885 Mr. Gibson had passed away and his wife was closing out the store. The Gibsons built the present K. P. Home, this being considered at the time one of the finest residences in town. North of the Gibson's store was some vacant ground where Phillipson's store is now. This was used by farmers for a feeding lot for horses. Chapman built his block on this ground about 1885. North of his store was a restaurant run by Cal Wiltshire and called the new Eagle restaurant. Hendee & Wright built the brick block just south of the present Globe building in 1882 and Wiltshire had one of these rooms. For years Wiltshire had run a restaurant just off of Buffalo on West Center street known as the Eagle restaurant because he had a big eagle in a cage on a pole out in front. In the present Globe room in 1882 Henry M. Zekind had a one-price clothing store. For years before this Cosgrove had had a store there. On north of the corner in 1882 was the store of Henry Shane. Shane had been there for about twenty years. His store always was run on the old style. He also dealt in hides which were kept on the sidewalk and in the basement. On Center street Thomas' grocery store was a well-known establishment and had been for twenty-five years.
Some of Our Storekeepers
To mention all the business houses here at that time would be a long story. Suffice it to say that some of the leading merchants were Charlie Pyle, Con Walters, Funk Brothers, I. J. Morris, Billy Binns, C. W. Chapman, John Royston, the late George M. Thomas, Robert Hitzler, W. H. Mershon, Ike Wheeler, Jackson Kirtley, Frank Hetrick, Thomas G. Terry, John Rousseau, Caleb Hendee, David Scott & Son, J. F. Philo, Bob Hickman. The Woolen mills on North Detroit had ceased to run and Morris & Hanna were making counters here. Lesh, Hascall & Co., were turning out plow handles by the carload at their factory on Columbia and Washington streets, and down the street farther to the south was the bung factory run by W. L. Standish. The bung factory had a whistle on it that could be heard by the foreigners who were building the Nickle Plate Railroad through the south part of the county. Dave Breading was their faithful fireman and engineman. Shoup & Oldfather were operating the brick flour mill on South Union street and David Scott & Son had the old Chapman mill west of the public square. Scattered about town were several saw and planing mills, one being at the west end of Center street, another being on Columbia street.
Summer Resort Prediction
In 1882 very little had been done to establish any summer resorts in this county. Reub Williams predicted, however, that the day would come when this county would be noted for its resorts and that much more use would be made of the grounds about Eagle lake What is now Winona was still the Wilcox farm. Picnics were held here at Hamilton's Mound. The place was also known as Prairie Knoll. A more popular place for gathering was the ground between Center and Pike lakes which sometime later became known as Lakeside Park. Many Sunday School picnics were held here, the picnickers coming in front other towns on the cars. Beyer Brothers who were to start a creamery at Eagle Lake were about due on the scene. They bought up butter and kept it below the cold water at Boss' spring near the present Winona depot.
Amusements of That Period
The people in this vicinity did not lack for amusements in the early 80's. Square dances were very popular. Masquerade dances were well attended. A calico hop at Webber's Hall was occasionally on their program. Once a masquerade dance was held at Daisey's Hall (a part of the old woolen mills) and it is said that all they did to remove their masques was to wash their faces. It was bout this time that Jimmy Woods and several others went to a house on North Lake street where a shindig was in progress. They soft soaped the floor of the front porch and the board walk leading from the porch. Then they stood in front of the house and cried "Fire! Fire!" in stentorian tones. The leading burlesque dancers soon appeared in scanty attire only to slip and come down in a very attractive manner on the porch floor! School programs were well attended. The county fair was held each year on the fair grounds just east of Scott street. Camp meetings were held every summer. In 1882 the Tunkers had a big meeting at Arnold's Station on the C. W. & M. just north of Milford. Thousands attended. The "Y" was hurriedly constructed here so that the people could be transferred to that place. Sleigh rides, shows at the Opera House, spelling bees, singing schools, and literaries helped the winters to pass away. Picnics in Thralls' grove or on Graves' Hill under the auspices of the band or Sunday schools always brought out a crowd. Parades, political campaigns, firemen's conventions and drills were among the amusements fifty years ago.
Warsaw's "Funny Boys"
In 1882 Warsaw had an aggregation of boys known as the Funny Boys. George Hendee was the prime instigator of the movement and the original degrees were given at Hendee's shoe shop. Boys in this company were Jack Power, George Smith, Sam Manley, Joe Brewer, Frank Breading, Warren Smith, Billy McGovern, Willie Encell, Joe Strauss, Henry J. Mansfield and others. Ed Aborn was press agent. On Wednesday afternoon, March 15, 1882, a great commotion arose on East Center street. Down the street came George Hendee mounted on a big black charger. He wore a Sir Waler Raleigh costume. Following Hendee was John Lathrope's Silver Band. Some of the members were: Wilbur Maish, Frank Hetrick, Charles Grosspitch, Will Vanness, Logan Williams, Charles A. Funk, Charles F. Morrison, Hugh Hanna, Al Moreland, Ed Milice, George McConnell and Horace Kegg. Following the band came a delegation of city officers and two platoons of police made up of boys dressed for the part. Following these were show barkers on horseback together with famous feminine bareback riders. Clowns were strung along the line. On down the street reaching to the railroad were gaily painted cages containing lions, tigers, wildcats, zebras, elephants and other wild animals just recently captured in wildest Africa! In each cage was a trainer. In the parade was a cheese-box drum corps made up of some twenty smaller boys. Some of these were Murray Wiltshire, Fred and George Hossler, Ernest and Wid Burket. Following the parade was a calliope drawn by four teams of prancing horses. Inside the contrivance some twenty boys were furnishing the toots. A player sat at the keyboard in great style. For several weeks the boys had been capturing every house cat they could. About seven hundred of these (it is said) was in one of the cages. When they were released after the parade there was a momentous scramble of tabbies towards the suburbs!
Lion Turns on Tamer
A laughable incident occurred in the lion's cage just as this wagon was turning in to Buffalo street. Will Peterson was playing the role of the lady in this cage. He was dressed for the part with blonde hair made by unbraiding new rope. With short skirt and tights he made a pretty respectable looking lion tamestress! Eugene Boydston was the lion in the cage with an enormous leonine head. The blacksnake whip of the tamer stung Leo a little too severely. The lion objected in emphatic language; jerked off his lionesque headgear and was going after "the lady" rough shod when the latter offered abject apologies with a subdued snicker. The parade moved on to the amusement of hundreds out in front of the Old Windsor Hotel and Clave Gilliam's livery barn in the "Wigwam."
Other Activities in 1882
The year 1882 was marked with many miscellaneous event which affected the growth and progress of Warsaw. Ben Wright, who for twenty-seven years had run the most popular hotel in Warsaw, passed away. The Wright House became the Lake View Hotel and was bought out by William Kirtley, who previously operated the old Kirtley House. Wright had been a well-known landlord in Warsaw since a decade before the civil War. The first Wright House was a frame that burned in the fire of 1867. Wright had lost a son in the Civil war and this sad demise had hastened the time of his death. It was in this year that Chapman built some ice houses on Eagle lake and had a switch run out to them. The construction involved the filling of the low ground near the present Big Four depot and this was a real problem. An engine rolled off in this ground once and the smoke stack never was found. One of the section hands said it went on through to China! On East Market street at the corner of High street a new Presbyterian church was being built. The old church was on the ground now occupied by the Robinson Market in the Opera House block. John P. Mather, a Quaker from Richmond, was in charge of our schools. He was a small man with a dark beard. He was well liked and his pupils remembered hi as one of the best superintendents the town ever had. Mrs. Hattie J. Kutz was one of his high school pupils. Others were Charlie Moon, Perry Smith, Arthur Biggs, and Mrs. F. E. Bowser. Mather married a Richmond girl in 1882. It was in 1882 that L. W. Royse was first spoken of for congress, and it was in this year that Hon. William Williams, better known as Billy Williams, was appointed charge d'Affaires of American interests at Montevideo, Paraguay, in far off South America. He was the town's most influential politician and had been congressman at Washington. He and his wife were tendered a grand ovation at their new home where Lloyd Johnson now lives. Congressman Williams was given a fine gold watch. He and his wife had to go first to England and then sail for Montevideo, the trip being about ten thousand miles. They arrived there in July, 1882. Letters telling all about their trip run in the Indianian for two months.
Completion of Nickle Plate
The year 1882 meant a great deal to the south part of Kosciusko county. It was during this year that the last spike was driven on the Nickle Plate Railroad which connected Lake Erie with Chicago. The last spike was driven in April at Sidney by Mrs. W. L. Sarber of Claypool and a Miss Brown of Clay township. It is not surprising that it took two women to drive this last spike. Whether the spike was of gold as it was on the Union Pacific Railroad is not known. Anyhow after the ceremony was over the crowd of some five hundred people repaired to Mr. Boltz's sawmill and all sat down to a grand banquet of fried chicken and all the necessary side dishes. The coming of this railroad caused towns to spring up and become known as Sidney, Packerton, Burket and Mentone. It also caused Claypool to take on new life. Papers of the time are full of ads trying to sell the lots in these boom towns for large sums. Kinzie and Dodgertown were on the map at this time. Sidney arose like a mushroom out of the pasture fields of Nelson Baker's estate. Caleb Hughes and Amos Thompson Shaw Kist hurried to a point half way between Warsaw and Rochester and laid out a town which afterwards became Mentone. Mr. Jefferies, a business man of Mentone now, recalling these days says that he saw the present main street of Mentone when it was a bridle path leading through the timber. A church used to stand about where the main street crosses the railroad tracks of the Nickle Plate Railroad and this was known as Morris Chapel Hiram E. Smith, our present drainage commissioner, used to attend this church as a boy of the 70's. Packerton was one of the busiest points along the line. John C. Packer, an enterprising citizen, had sawmills and a store at Packerton and sold groceries and whiskey. A tile mill was located here. Packerton was a busy place even in the late nineties. Sidney and Mentone both enjoyed rapid growth for a number of years. The Davis store at Burket has been there ever since the town was founded.
A few locals taken from the papers of 1882 are of interest:
The boys who are accustomed to sing at the Pittsburgh depot did some very fine singing last evening.
Beautiful handsome and toothsome white bass from Eagle lake were in the market yesterday.
The Funny Boys, as it always the case, met with grand success at their pavilion dance at the foot of Buffalo.
Dangler vapor stoves for sale at Grabner's.
Visit the store of C. W. Graves in the Phoenix Block.
Trade at Biewend's drug store.
Yesterday when Sam Wiltshire was shoeing a mare she stole a plug of tobacco from his hip pocket.
Dr. Bash rejoices in the advent of a brand new boy.
Frank Tucker , son of Marshal Calvin Tucker, burned his hand severely last evening.
Fine strings of panners can be seen on our streets most any evening.
Bushels of strawberries received daily at Comstock's
The Knights Templar picnic in Moon's grove was a huge success.
"Coon" Hubler, an old-timer of this place, arrived in town yesterday.
The large fire cistern that the city has built in the southwest part of town is finished.
There is not a better gate keeper along the Pennsylvania lines than Uncle Robert McNeal, who keeps the Buffalo street crossing.
Beyer Brothers are very enterprising. They have built a new brick building near the school house.
Ask C. V. Pyle for a sample bottle of Dr. King's New Discovery.
The courthouse derricks are very musical when heavily loaded.
Ed Ettinger had some fingers of his hand injured today at Lesh & Hascall's factory.
The new brick building that O. Musselman is building between the fire station and the livery barn is near completion.
Hon. J. D. Thayer returned yesterday from a trip to New York City.
Our Changing Customs
Customs and habits of the people in this vicinity have changed much since 1882. A trip to town then was perhaps an all-day affair. The children were loaded in a wagon, lunch was put up, and things arranged for the day. Much of the time in town was spent in visiting. The lobby at the post-office was crowded all day long on Saturdays. Now the rural deliveries and the telephone take care of this part of our desires. Stores then expected a large crowd of people waiting around and provided seats for them about the store. Clay pipes and tobacco were furnished sometimes to old men and women who wanted to enjoy a social hour smoking. Farmers stayed in town until late and took home large baskets of groceries which many can buy now from the traveling groceries that pass their door every day. Green coffee was sometimes purchased and browned at home. Coffee A sugar was a good seller. On Monday morning some grocery stores looked like they had gone into the butter and egg business. All the excess was sold to Beyer Brothers.
This was Fifty years Ago
Houses in 1882 were designed more for fireplace heating than for furnaces. They had several chimneys so that a stove could be put in most any room. Sleeping rooms were kept closed at night for the night air was considered bad. Old people slept in nightcaps and left a kerosene lamp burning out on the kitchen table. Heavy carpets laid over straw or paper covered the floors. A new rag carpet was a very pretty floor covering. Straw ticks were used on beds in the summer and feather beds in the winter. Houses contained only cook stoves that burned wood. Vapor stoves were just coming into use. They burned gasoline. Most every house had a barn back of it and many families in town had pigs, chickens, and a cow. Every family had much homemade medicine about the house for old people still passed along remedies that they had learned from the Indians. Quinine, nux vomica, belladonna, sage, thyme, and a hundred different herbs were used for healing purposes to say nothing of the little brown jug full of fourth-proof brandy which was definitely known to cure everything from fever to ague to angina pectoris to say nothing of the yellow pappaproo. But all this was fifty years ago.
Warsaw Daily Times and the Northern Indianian March 26, 1932
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