Warsaw in 1889 Part 1

by Geo. Nye


The 1880's in Indiana was a period of slow but substantial growth. Many of our farms still possessed a large amount of timber which was a good thing both for our water table and for our climate. Dotted about over the county were numerous small community centers that have almost become extinct. Such were the villages of Kinsey, Dodgertown, Millwood, Dutchtown, Beaver Dam and Orion.

The 1880's saw the building of many small brick schoolhouses in the school districts of the county. These replaced the frame buildings which had served since about 1850. Many of these brick buildings have been torn down but some are standing as storehouses for farm machinery. There were, of course, no hard-surfaced roads in the '80s and no means of conveyance except the horse and buggy and the steam cars. In any small Indiana town the depot, the blacksmith shop, the sawmill, and the grist mill were the busy spots.

Most every community of any size had at least one saloon, a few general stores, perhaps one doctor, a blacksmith who could shoe a horse or set a tire, and a town wag who was either at the head end or the butt end of most every practical joke that went the rounds. The bill each school would hold forth for about seven months under some teacher that was able to subdue either by the flame in his eye or by the rod the most contemptible gang of rowdies that the village harbored.

The last day of school was a grand event. The 1880's were the days of gold-headed canes, of white fancy vests, of big hats, and long dresses. The pinnacle of success in these days for the young man was to drive up in front of his girl's house with a Studebaker buggy wall shined up and say "whoa" to a spirited, prancing horse ready to take her a ride at a 2:40 gait.

Harrison Clubs
Nationally the country was under Republican rule in 1889. William Henry Harrison, grandson of the hero of Tippecanoe, was president, and Oliver P. Morton, Indiana's former war governor, was vice president. When Harrison was running for president he made a talk at the east end of the new depot here in Warsaw. But this was the second time he ran in 1892. Harrison clubs were formed in this country, these being made up of men who had voted for William Henry Harrison in 1840. One can easily see that all of these men would have to have been around 70 years of age. Reub Williams published the names of these members in the Northern Indianian.

If one turns to an American history he finds that in those days the nation was not concerned with any war, but such measures as the tariff, the Sherman silver law, pension laws, and the admission of Oklahoma were headliners in the newspapers. Oklahoma was thrown open to settlers at noon on April 22, 1889. Fifty thousand people waited on the border to run at the sound of the bugle. City is were staked out and city governments were organized before the day closed. North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming all joined the Union in 1889 and 1890. The Constitution of the two latter states gave women the right to vote, which was something new to our policy.

The Mafia, a murderous society of New Orleans, made the front page by killing seven Italians in that city. Other national items were concerning Samoa, Chile, and the seal fishing rights in the Bering Sea which was settled by treaty with Russia. In 1892 Cleveland won again, thus b to eing the only president that was in four years, out four years, and then in again. The panic of 1893 followed and by 1896 the country was glad to go back to Republican principles under McKinley and Hobart. McKinley, of Ohio, had been the author of th eMcKinley tariff bill.

Warsaw in 1889
Part One
In 1889 Warsaw had a population of about 3,000 people. Scott street was about as far east as the city had grown since it was founded in 1836. East of this street there was a fairgrounds and a race-track. On east of that was Dr. Jacob Boss' farm. Hon. L. W. Royse was mayor then and Marshall H. Parks was clerk. He was a short heavy man who was a veteran of the Civil war, one of the first three to volunteer when Lincoln called for men after the firing on Fort Sumpter. He was the father of Beulah Parks, who was the mother of the late Tom Frazier. W. S. Vanator was the town treasurer and Edgar Haymond the city attorney. Haymond was judge of the Kosciusko circuit court for several years and lived on the northeast corner of Buffalo and Main where his daughter resides today. Haymond was one of the party that some years before 1889 went down to Monticello in a flatboat called the "Northern Indianian," steered by Reub. Williams. Robert S. Richhart was a little man, but he made a good marshal. Frank MacConnell says that one time there was a bully in a saloon causing trouble and the proprietor called Richhart to take the man to jail. When the man saw Richhart he made fun of him and asked him how many like him there were. Whereupon Jerry Gleason, a musician, picked the big bully up, threw him across his shoulder, carried him out and threw him in the calaboose as he would so much rubbish. These were the days when a good fist-fight, a first-class run-away, or a wreck on the railroad caused by a misreading of orders made a first-page human interest story for The Daily Times.

Tamarack Sills for Buildings.
Caleb Hughes was the civil engineer of the city. He and Amos Kist had rotated the surveyor's office between them for a long time. Perry Brown was the fire chief. He was a large man who operated a butcher shop in an old frame building where Chinworth's are now. this was torn down about forty years ago and it was found that the floor sills were tamarack poles. The building had been built about 1840 when in this vicinity tamarack was plentiful and the poles were used to build cabins. East of the present Big Four depot was a tamarack swamp which was common property.

There were six councilmen in 1889 R. C. Smith, the undertaker; Levi Zumbrun, a bricklayer and contractor; J. Fred Beyer, who was one of the firm of Beyer Brothers and manager of the grounds at Spring Fountain Park; H. C. Milice, who was a veteran photographer; James M. Leamon, who had grocery at 22 West Center street, and Dr. J. M. Bash, who had married Lizzie Wallace of Turkey Prairie and lived where the postoffice is now. The city then comprised three wards and there were two councilmen from each ward. Bash and Leamon represented the third ward. Three men were on the board of health Dr. Ben Burket. Dr. C. W. Burket, and Dr. Tiffin J. Shackelford, who had recently come here from Fort Wayne, Dr. Shackelford was the son of Rev. Shackelford. The doctor was somewhat of a poet. With his sideburns and his jovial disposition, he was well liked, especially by the maiden ladies of the Methodist church where he sometimes played the pipe-organ. He married Mrs.Emma Irland and lived where the Kelly funeral home now is. An old house that stood here, the former home of Dr. Gilbert, was remodeled before the doctor moved in. In 1897 the Shackelfords lived in the brick house on Washington Street south of the old Lesh factory.

Our Fire Department

In 1889, as we have said before, Perry Brown was fire chief. William Conrad was foreman of Protection Fire Company No. 1, a position he held for forty years. C. C. Stoner was foreman of Never Fail fire company No. 2. Gib Furlong was foreman of the Lake City Hook and Ladder company. Amos Kehler was foreman of the G. B. Lesh hose company. This company had been formed a few years after the Lesh factory had caught fire. The Lesh sawmills and lumber yards were where the Johnson Lumber company is now located. For many years John Grabner was engineman in the fire department, but by 1889 Warsaw had a new water plant so the old engine was no longer used. The old fire cisterns of the former days were being filled up and fire hydrants had taken their place. The proprietors of the new Warsaw Water Works company were James S. Frazer, president; Lynn B. Martindale, secretary; William D. Frazer, treasurer; and Col. S. H. Lockett, chief engineer. F. F. Porter was superintendent of the plant which also at this time or a little later began to furnish light for the streets. It was about this time that the late Cal Weiss and Jeff LaFollette began their long careers with the company. A standpipe, about 125 feet high and five feet through, stood for years at the southwest corner of the building to furnish pressure for the water. The waterworks whistle blew along with other whistles when there was a fire. The whistle could be heard for a long distance. North and northwest of the plant was a cat-tail swamp and on the west side of the street was a lineup of old boathouses with walks in front of them the walks being up on stilts so a pedestrian wouldn't get his feet wet. Small boys would go there fishing for shiners or turtles, mostly turtles. Where the city park is now was underbrush.

City School Board
The school board in 1889 consisted of the following citizens; Jack Glessner was the president. He was a shoe dealer at 9 South Buffalo which would be about where the Kroger store is now. Wm. B. Funk was treasurer. He was in the dry goods business and lived in a pretty home where the high school is now. John D. Widaman was secretary. He was an attorney with offices over Burket's drug store, one door north of the Lake City bank. The superintendent of schools was T. J. Sanders, an uncle of our own "Candy" Sanders. The teachers in the schools were Miss Flora Crouch, Josephine A. Fielding, Lizzie M. Reid, Mattie Richardson Cook, Fannie M. Davis, Viola Strain, Rose McCauley, Mary Cosgrove, Emma Mills, Hannah Lovell, Lura Davenport, Minnie Stuart, Beulah Parks and Margaret J. Bates. In those days the superintendent received about $1,500 a year and the teachers about $40 to $50 a month. Anybody who had a salary around Warsaw in 1889 of $100 a month was considered aristocratic. As late as 1910 a salary of $18 a week for a clothing store clerk was considered the best in town; $10 a week was about the average. A beginning clerk worked for $6. The salary on the railroad for section hands was about $1 a day. The only library the town had in 1889 was in the one-room basement of the center ward school house. The superintendent was supposed to be in charge of this on Saturday afternoons when books could be brought back and taken out. Compared to 1942, there were very few magazines in 1889. Cheap magazines with corresponding so-called "funny" papers are a product of the last twenty-five years.

Music and Business College
Besides the schools and the library for the edification of the youth there was in Warsaw in 1889 a Warsaw Business College and Conservatory of Music in the Phoenix block on South Buffalo street. H. D. Seele, M. A., was the president. The teachers were W. H. Stiver, who taught penmanship, and Mrs. George R. Taylor, who had charge of the music. This institution had a career lasting only a few years. Its successor was the Dillingham Business College of the late nineties which was founded by Wallace J. Dillingham over Webber's hardware store on Market street west of the old State bank. this too was of short duration, for about 1900 Dillingham became county surveyor.

continued in Part 2

Warsaw Daily Times Saturday April 25, 1942

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