Warsaw in 1883-84 --Some Local History

by George A. Nye
The talk of the town on New Year's Day, 1883 was about the death of William Hull. He was a well-known character about town who had worked in Perry Brown's market. those who knew him say that he was a large man, with rather long curly black hair, and when not under the influence of liquor was quite congenial. He had several children and lived at the west end of Pike or Perry street in an old house. His wife was not a part of his family at this time. Hull on Saturday night, December 30, 1882, had walked out the railroad with some other men to the home of Joseph Rough, which was bout a mile west of town along the north side of the Pennsylvania tracks. The place is now marked only by a few trees just west of the Zimmer airport. They had gone to Rough's home to hold a dance as was customary in many country homes. Rough did not allow them to dance because they were drunk. To make a long story short, a fight ensued and Hull's body was discovered along the tracks by young Dick Hubler, who was returning from a literary at the Swihart school. Hull was taken into the house and later hauled to the depot in Warsaw on a handcar. The funeral took place from R. C. Smith's undertaking establishment, and it is said that the body was buried in the potter's field.

John Shaffer was indicted and tried for the murder of Hull. A long trial was held in the basement of the old Methodist church for the present court house was then being built. The crowds became so large that an adjournment was taken to the opera house. Judge Elisha Van Buren Long presided; John M. Reid was sheriff and Joseph H. Taylor was clerk of the court. After a second trial it was decided that Hull was not murdered at all, but was struck by the evening fast train. John Shaffer was acquitted. Hull's ghost was often seen walking the track about the old Rough home by Mrs. Rough and others, it is said. so persistent was the spectre that one trackwalker quit his job. At one time it flagged a train; the engineer stopped, climbed down from the cab, but saw nothing. In April, 1886, Hull's ghost was seen by Frank Whitney, an engineer, as a pure white object as tall as a tree, moving uneasily as though it was seeking rest that never could be found. At one time Joe Hale saw the ghost walking on the tracks carrying an axe. For years a cross marked the tie where the body was found. The death of Bill Hull is an unsolved mystery, and the cause of his death will always be charged up to John Barleycorn, as were many others in the days of the old saloon. Hull's children at the undertaker's Sunday morning said that if daddy had listened to them and stayed at home that night he would not be dead. The children were sent to Columbia City.

The Gold-Spike Railroad
Another topic of conversation around Warsaw at this time was the Gold-Spike Railroad. Its official name was to be the Detroit, Indiana & St. Louis. It was to come down through Albion, on to Warsaw and go on through Illinois. Had the line become a reality it would perhaps now be the main line of the Wabash from Detroit to St. Louis. One of the chief sponsors of the line in this town was Amos Thompson Shaw Kist, who for many years had been connected with the surveyor's office. Kist surveyed several routes out of Warsaw, one through Mentone, another through Sevastopol. He and his party were feted wherever he went for every town wanted a railroad and railroad projects were talked of all over northern Indiana. At Sevastopol the citizens promised to erect a depot if the line went through. Technicalities arose with regard to the sale of the bonds and the Gold-Spike Railroad had to be listed with other mythical projects in Warsaw's history. The Nickel Plate had just been completed through the southern part of the county, giving rise to the new towns of Kinsey, Packerton, Burket and Mentone. Soon the B. & O. was built through the northern part of the county and this finished railroad building in Kosciusko county until about 1903-04 when the interurban lines were built. At the present time a sponsor of a new railroad through the county could not get as many followers as a man selling snowballs in the Klondike.

Finishing the Courthouse
During the years 1883-84 the present courthouse was under construction. The building was first occupied in February 1884. The interior finishings of the courthouse were considered very exceptional, the wood being the finest of walnut and butternut. The ceiling of the court room was a work of art. Joe Hahne, a son-in-law of Fred Sessel, was the artist for this building and other buildings, the Gabriel R. Lesh residence and the Bash mansion.. T. J. Tolan the architect, died and the work was carried on by his brother. The building stands as a fitting memorial to its architect. After it was completed commissioners from other places came here to inspect it. Duncan Russell set everyone of the cut stone in the building. The steel tower of the building was put up in May, 1883, by Joseph Marshall. It was then painted by Nate Sleeper. The clock and bell cost $1,900. The bell weighs over two tons. The clock faces were first lighted by gas lights controlled by electricity from the basement so that the janitor did not have to go up to the tower to light the lights. In 1884 standard time went into effect so the clocks were turned forward about 25 minutes. This did not please some people, so they tried two faces on standard time and the other two on sun time. This, however, balled up the striking and so standard time was finally decided on. Robert Hitzler, pioneer cabinet-maker, was awarded the contract for making all the new furniture necessary for the building. Homer Reeves appears to have been one of the first janitors. Soon after 1884 Valparaiso, Lafayette and Columbia City built new courthouses. George Hughes of Warsaw was killed while working on the one at Valparaiso. Hitchracks were installed on the south side of the square by the merchants on Center street. In the summer of 1883 the old Thomas building was removed and the present brick building was erected on the same site. In the west room Charley Thomas had a grocery store, bakery and a farmers' lunch counter.

The Old Frazer Ditch
It was in the spring of 1883 that workmen were constructing the Frazer ditch to drain the tamarack swamp just east of the C. W. & M. Railroad. All of this low ground in early days was a huckleberry marsh. It is said that this ditch used to be an open natural waterway and that there was a bridge where it crossed Center street under the sidewalk at the corner of Park avenue. This bridge was provided with wooden handrails when it was an open drain at that point. Valentine Hammond was drainage commissioner in 1883 and had charge of the building of this tile ditch. Much quicksand was encountered so the work progressed slowly. In 1866, a ditch had been constructed to drain this swamp, but the tile proved to be too small. The new ditch was supposed to have five feet of fall at its upper end and heavy additional fall at its outlet. It is quite likely that the word "heavy" was a misprint. There were few houses on Center street at this time between the railroad and Scott street. The Jaques residence, the Frazer home and the J. D. Thayer mansion were three of the old-timers on this street. Once or two blocks east of the railroad on the south side was the "show grounds." E. C. Aborn and other older citizens remember when prominent circuses showed here to large crowds. Once a band of Indians with a show roamed through the adjacent marshlands in quest of medicinal herbs. Shows were using grounds in this vicinity as late as 1895.

Some Large Fires
Warsaw was visited by three large fires in 1883-94. On March 21, 1883, the largest hotel in Warsaw, the Lake View House, burned. Flames were discovered along towards evening. It was midnight before the first [fire] was out This was a four-story brick building on the northeast corner of Buffalo and Center streets. William Kirtley had the upper three floors for a hotel. The lower floor was occupied by Pringle's saloon on the corner, and by Richardson & Moran's dry goods store east and north of the saloon. The Fire burned as far east as Grabner's hardware store where a fire wall arrested its progress. The several cisterns were pumped dry by the steamer and the hand-pumper, and so a call for help was sent to Fort Wayne. They sent a company which came to Warsaw in fifty-five minutes. They connected their thousand feet of hose with our six hundred and in this way set an engine at the foot of Buffalo street. Center lake..... cistern to be pumped .... fire was finally under control. During the fire Captain John N. Runyan ordered the postoffice moved across the street into Bob Hickman's billiard hall for the entire block seemed to be doomed. The next morning it was moved back, the whole change being made without missing a single mail. The office was then where Mumaw's news stand is now. This fire seemed to have started in what was known as the lamp room of the hotel. Mr. Kirtley lost heavily. Once before his hotel had burned when he was located in the old Popham Exchange. Soon after the fire Daniel Shoup commenced to build the present Temple block. The third story was put on by the Masonic lodge. No longer was this corner to be a hotel corner as it had been for over forty years. Chapman & Seloff operated a cigar factory and store on this corner and it has been a cigar store corner ever since. The hotel problem in Warsaw was to be solved by Elijah Hays who soon started the Hays House.

Lesh Factory Fire
On Sunday morning, November 25, 1883, the factory of G. B. Lesh & Co. was destroyed by fire. thirty-one employees were thrown out of work with winter staring them in the face. The total loss was $60,000. This factory was along the north side of the railroad between Washington and Columbia streets. Some time later a new company was formed (May, 1884) to be known as the G. B. Lesh Manufacturing Company. They built one of the largest band sawmills in the state. G. B. Lesh, John H. Lesh, Lewis Petry, Owen Switzer and others were members of this firm. For twenty years this factory specialized in plow handles. They had their own electric light plant, formed their own fire company, and gave employment to fifty or more people either as factory hands or log-haulers. At the time of this fire Perry Brown was fire chief, William Conrad was foreman and Robert Shaw was engineer of the steamer. About 1905 the Lesh factory moved to Tennessee where lumber was more plentiful.

Frame Store Buildings Burn
During the last week in January, 1884, fire was discovered in a room adjoining the general store of James H. Cisney near the northeast corner of Buffalo and Market streets. It was not long until the whole row of long frame buildings reaching northward were on fire. In spite of the efforts of the hook-and-ladder company, the hose companies, and the steamer the buildings were reduced to ashes. Cisney lost heavily. What was left he moved across the street. McCauley's hat and cap store was burned. W. T. Danner's jewelry store and Mayer & Zimmerman's notion store was a total loss. Lyman Sapp's drug store was damaged. Mrs. Loney's frame building to the north was saved. Cisney's loss was estimated at $6,000. Jap Frush's house on Union and Perry streets is said to have been one of these buildings that went through the fire. He was given this building for moving it away. Other frames were moved around where The Times building is now. Col. C. W. Chapman rebuilt the corner for a year or so. After Mr. Gibson's death his store was closed out and Phillipson's has occupied the corner ever since.

Warsaw Industries in 1883
The lumber business and the ice business were two of the leading industries in Warsaw in 1883-84. One big factory of the day was that of Fred Myers on Market street west of Washington. Myers had come here from Leesburg where he had a big sawmill and lumber yard during the seventies. He had leveled down a big hill which stood just southwest of the present U. B. church, pushed the dirt into the low ground to the south and had built a planing mill. At Janesville, Wisconsin, he owned another mill and many acres of forest land. His son, Silas, was sent to this mill, and although he was young in years he made good. All in all, Fred Myers at this time was worth over one hundred thousand dollars. The Myers planing mill continued to run in Warsaw until about 1910. On the low ground to the east sat an old frame two-story house which T. J. Quick had moved there from the State Bank corner in 1876. Years ago it had been known as the Republican building. North of this site and south of Trish's wagon shop was John Gartee's blacksmith shop.

Old Flour Mills
In 1883-84, Shoup & Oldfather were running the large mill near the depot on Union street. They decided to tear the old mill down and rebuild it. The first mill had been built by Heller & Gallentine in 1858.  It was a two-story brick with a hip roof.  It was a burr mill.  Shoup & Oldfather built the mill which is there today and made it into a roller mill.  Gilt Edge and Sunshine were their two leading brands of flour  It is now operated by the Warsaw Grain and Milling Co.  Trish Brothers were makers of fine wagons on Washington street.  William Conrad was a pioneer here in wagon and carriage making.  His shops were just east of the present Hays hotel, across the alley.  Harry Oram worked for Conrad for fifteen years, but in October, 1883, he purchased the blacksmith shop of Beroth Brothers just west of the court house, and began building up a business which in a few years rivaled Conrad's, Armington's at Leesburg, and Trish Brothers.  About 1887 Oram tore down several old frames that graced the corner and erected a substantial two-story brick wagon and carriage shop.  Goerge Schrom was one of Oram's reliable wagon-makers for many years.  In the fall of 1883, the Orams moved into the William Chapman house where the family has lived for fifty years.  They formerly resided on the present Times corner.

Some Old Merchants
In 1883-84 Marcus Phillipson's clothing store was in the first room south of the Lake City Bank.  He had been in business here in several locations since 1864.  Wahl & Masters was the firm name of a dug store just north of the bank.  They had bought out George M. Thomas.  Two doors north was the drug store of A. B. C. Biewend.  One of the Biewends was a teacher of modern languages at Kendallville.  Some of the grocers of the day were Tom Nye Sr., Thomas Brothers, H. D. Hetfield, Ed. Moon & Son, Weimer Brothers and Ben Dunnuck.  McKrill's restaurant was opposite the public square on Center street.  Eli Snyder, Press McFann, George and Thee Pringle, John Lathrope, Eugene Sullivan and Philip Huffman were a few of the saloon-keepers.  E. A. Sheffield had a paint store in the east room of the Opera House block.  Beyer Brothers were enterprising young men who had bought Wilcox spring near Eagle lake and were buying up butter and eggs. A junk yard called the Palace of Fashion was just west of Huffman's saloon on the northeast corner of lake and Market streets.  Hartson & Rittenhouse built the brick barn later known as Hessel's feed barn on the southeast corner of Washington and Fort Wayne streets.  H. M. Zekind & Co. were selling ironclad suits at $6.50.  They were forerunners of the Globe.  Ed. Moon built the brick building just south of Shane's corner after removing an old frame long occupied by McCauley's store.  Moon's grocery was here until about 1900.

Sechrist & Zumbrun had brickyards north of the city.  Uncle John Bybee had a small store on the Odd Fellows' corner surrounded by a grass plot which was known as "Central Park."  J. W. Campfield was a renovator of feathers.  Tommy Loveday was head cutter at Phillipson's J. S. Hirshman was proprietor of the Lion store. Thomas & Manly dealt in building supplies.  Chapman & Seloff started the corner cigar store in September, 1883. Their brands were CWC, Lord Nelson, Monogram and Henry Clay.  W. H. Bowser sold the White, St John and Eldridge sewing machines.  Adam Weirick, after his hotel burned on the corner, opened a tavern just south on the alley next to the Hog Eye saloon, owned and operated by Elijah Evans.  This location would no be just north of the new postoffice.  F. H. Dresser & Co. at that time owned the Corner Book store.  In February, 1884, Kilmer & Nusbaum bought out Wahl & Masters and remodeled the place into the finest drug store that Warsaw had known.  Mr. Kilmer was the father of Orville Kilmer, our present postmaster.  The Kilmers then lived on the northwest corner of Union and Pike streets.  Rutter's hardware store on South Buffalo at this time expanded into the room to the south which had been purchased of Ed. Moon.  The firm ran for a year or so as Rutter & Rousseau, but Dick Rutter soon became the sole owner and the store remained there for seventeen years.  The rooms are now just south of the laundry.  Johnny Dillon's peanut stand was a landmark on the Book Store corner.

Old Hotel Hays Site
After the big fire which destroyed the lake View House, Elijah Hays began building the present Hays house.  There had been a boarding house on this corner years before.  A picture of the corner in 1871 shows a house there surrounded by a neat fence inside of which several pretty trees were growing.  East of the corner were some frame buildings sadly in need of repair.  Workmen were a year or so putting up the hotel.  It was begun in May 1883.  By May 1884 the outside walls of the hotel were completed.  On Thursday evening September 11, 1884 a grand opening was held and the house thrown open to the public.  Two hundred people visited the place and listened to a concert by Lathrope's band.  Mr. and Mrs. Kirtley served a bountiful feast about 9 p.m. to all guests.  The hotel was modern in all respects.  Each of the forty-four rooms had outside ventilation.  The office on the ground floor was very large and roomy.  It had a tile floor.  The whole place was brilliantly lighted with gas.  Two large sample rooms were near the office for the convenience of traveling men.  On the following night General Lew Wallace spoke in Warsaw for Blain and Logan and a large crowd inspected the new hotel.  Wallace stayed at the home of W. D. Frazer for Mrs. Frazer being of the Ristine family at Crawfordsville, was a personal acquaintance of the general.  The Hays hotel for almost fifty years has been one of the leading hotels of the city.

More Old-Timers
In 1884 Fred S. Clark was teacher of a Sunday school class at the Episcopal church.  Some of his students were: Ora Holbrook, Dora Karst, Carrie Farrar, Ada Philpott, Grace Brantt, Georgia Ostrander, Ada Rizer, Minnie Peckham, Myrtle Reeves and Anna Bratt.  Stephen Philpott was a member of this church and had studied to be a minister in England, but had never preached. On Sunday Aug 5, 1883 the United Brethren congregation dedicated their frame church on West Market street.  Prof. M. Dewitt Long of Roanoke Seminary preached the sermon.  Oak Grove school closed March 29, 1883, with George Elliott as teacher.  The funeral of Philip Doener took place at Whitney's school house.  He was a witch doctor who could cure erysipelas with hot coals on a fire shovel.  A new postoffice had been started at Kinzie.  Warsaw was trying to become the site of a new insane asylum.  Marcus Phillipson's father was a Warsaw resident.  He was born in Germany in 1800 and remembered the battle of Waterloo.  The Russian soldiers fighting against Napoleon brought a terrible disease to his home which claimed both of his parents within a few days of each other.  The hook-and-ladder company paraded in their new green and white uniforms.  The old Wright House stables were in the alley in the rear of the Cosgrove brick (now the Globe) and were being torn down.  A hack left the Weirick house daily for Sevastopol.  Charles Butler, who had killed his wife at Ira Ryerson's home in Pierceton, was here in jail.  He escaped with some other prisoners, was caught, and on a change of venue was put on trial at Columbia City, and hung there in the jail yard on October, 1884.  The execution was witnessed by Doctors Webber, Bash and Davisson of Warsaw.  He was a prodigal son of Dr. G. W. Butler, a rich man of Columbus, Ohio.  George W. McCarter, a young graduate of Asbury university, was running for surveyor.  A pretty June wedding in 1884 was that of Merl Funk to Orrilla Mabie at the home of A. T. S. Kist, the bride's stepfather.  Rev. A. M. Cummins, minister at the U. B. church, baptized thirty new converts in Center lake.  Negro camp meetings were held in August in Graves' grove on Prospect hill.  Eli Snyder was drum major of the Warsaw band.  Rev. Aaron B. Maston of Pierceton was a missionary in far off New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania.  His letters were very interesting.  The immortal J. N. was still roaming the county in the cause of Freedom of Conscience.  He wore a large hat, had long hair flowing over his shoulders, and as he strode down the street one would think either Paul or Silas had returned to earth.  In speaking in the cause of freedom he always assumed all the pressure and wherever he went he lifted the veil of doubt and fear that the sunshine of love and freedom might penetrate into the stygian darkness of sine and shame!

But this was all fifty years ago!



John Hanson of R. F. D. 3, Warsaw, on Friday renewed his Warsaw Daily Times for his forty-eighth consecutive year as a reader of the Daily Times and Northern Indianian.  Hanson begun taking this paper when 19 years of age.  Today he recalled that as a young man he was employed on excavation of the old Pike-Center Lake canal, dug probably 50 years ago and designed for passage of steam boats and row boats between the two lakes.  The canal was filled in about 30 years ago and designed for passage of steam boats and row boats between the two lakes.  The canal was filled in about 30 years ago, but part of the old ditch remains.  It will be cleaned out soon to facilitate drainage, says Police Chief Lucas.  Meanwhile Pike and Center Lakes are again being connected to bring fresh water supply into Center Lake to keep Center Lake at its regular level with fresh water after the Frazer ditch outlet is changed from emptying into Center lake and made to flow directly into Tippecanoe river by building of the new drainage sewer extension.  Work on both projects is progressing.

Warsaw Daily Times & The Northern Indianian Saturday, December 30, 1933

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