EARLY DAYS OF GOSHEN
IT HAS BEEN very geneally supposed that the first house built in Goshen was built by William Bissell and was
located where the Baptist church now stands, at the corner of Sixth and Washington streets. It was a cabin, built
of round logs, as about all of the first cabins were built, with fireplace, stick chimney, puncheon floor and greased
paper windows. As far as can be ascertained, this was the first house built on the original plat of Goshen, but
it may not have been the first house built within the present city limits of Goshen.
Some time in the summer of 1906 Mrs. Nancy Grissom, told the writer that in the fall of 1828 her stepfather, George
Bunger, and David Hendricks came from Preble county, Ohio, expecting to locate in LaPorte county and that when
they came as far as the present site of Goshen they found a cabin a short distance south of Rock Run, and occupied
by a man named Jacobs. It is also said that Elder David Cripe, the first Dunkard preacher in northern Indiana,
built a cabin within the present limits in 1829, when he came here from Ohio. The date of Mr. Bissell's coming
here is not known. It is almost certain that it was not as early as 1828, the year that Mrs. Grissom says her step
The original plat of Goshen consisted of 92.28 acres, acquired by pre emption from the government for county seat
purposes and a tract purchased of Oliver Crane containing 27 acres, three roods and three rods. making a little
more than 120 acres. The tract acquired from the government embraced that portion of the present city extending
from the Elkhart river on the west to Cottage avenue on the east and from Clinton street on the north to the alley
between Washington and Jefferson streets. The tract bought of Oliver Crane is immediately north of this, extending
north from Clinton street.
As is stated elsewhere, after the site had been selected for a county seat, Oliver Crane was appointed county agent
to sell lots. George Crawford surveyed the plot and the county agent began the sale of lots in the summer of 1831.
Building began immediately afterward, log houses being built first. Nobody knows the dates when buildings were
erected on any particular locations. However, it is known that as early as 1832, there were a number of dwellings.
One of the residences was that of Henry Dusenberry, where the Elkhart circuit court held its fourth session in
the early part of 1833. This was located on the east side of South Main street, about half way between Washington
street and the first alley north. The house built by William Bissell, already mentioned, afterward became the home
of Luke Hulett, who after Bissell's death married his widow. Abner Stilson had a tavern for several years on the
southeast corner of Main street and Lincoln avenue. There the county commissioners held their sessions from May,
1832, until August, 1833, when the new court house was ready for occupancy. Mr. Stilson evidently did not conduct
a hotel many years, as Mrs. Phoebe Chamberlain told the writer on her ninetieth birthday anniversary that when
she came to Goshen, there was but one hotel, which was conducted by James Cook and that it was located on or not
far from the site of the old Masonic block on north Main street. A log house stood on the site of the present Hotel
Alderman. The Goshen Democrat had just been established and was conducted in a small frame building on north Main
street and only a short distance south of Rock Run. Ebenzer Brown, who lived a mile and a half northeast of Goshen,
Col. John Jackson and several other of the prominent men were financially interested in the enterprise. The Goshen
Express, a Whig paper, was started a little while before The Democrat, by Anthony DeFreese and Charles L. Murray.
A little later it was moved to Monoquet, in Kosciusko county.
When Mrs. Chamberlain came to Goshen there was only one brick building and that was the court house. The greater
number of homes were built of logs, but there were some that were part log and part frame. As mentioned elsewhere,
her husband built the first brick residence.
As late as 1852 there were only twenty one brick buildings in the town, including the court house and stores. Thirteen
of the buildings were residences. These were the residences of James H. Barnes, on West Lincoln avenue, now the
city hall. George P. Rowell, corner of Lincoln avenue and Third street, now the Mrs. Charles Kohler residence;
W. A. Thomas, corner Second and Clinton streets; E. M. Chamberlain, North Main street, until recently Dr. Edmand's
office; Fred Jackson, north Fifth street, now Goshen hospital; John Cook, Jr., Mrs. Derlin, John Carpenter, Sr.,
Fred Funk, B. G. Crary, Dr. Wickham, P. M. Henkel, and E. G. Chamberlain. Joseph D. Knox had a brick blacksmith
shop on East Clinton street, just west of the present Church of the Brethren. His residence was across the street
east. The Methodist church was on the west side of North Main street, on the alley north of Clinton street. The
location of the other residences is not known. One of them was the Harvey E. Hawks residence, corner Third and
Pike streets, but it has been impossible to ascertain who was the owner of it.
There is a rather interesting tradition concerning a romance connected with the last mentioned residence. It is
said that George P. Rowell and the man who built the house were rival suitors for the hand of the same young lady
and that Rowell lost. The successful suitor built that house for his bride after their marriage. Mr. Rowell, in
order to show her that he could build a bigger house, built the house on the corner of Lincoln avenue and Third
street which he occupied for so many years.
In an article written for the Goshen Democrat in 1895, Mrs. Chauncey S. Hascall told many interesting things
about Goshen and vicinity in the years of her early residence in this county. When her father, Ebenezer Brown came
here in 1834, the town was only three years old. They located a mile and a half northeast of Goshen, on what was
for many years known as the Yeoman farm. Their nearest neighbors were the residents of Goshen. The Brown family
came from Yates county, N. Y., traveling by wagon to Buffalo, from Buffalo to Detroit by water and from Detroit
to Goshen by wagon. They were two weeks on their way.
A part of her article is so interesting that it seems a pity to abbreviate it, so that part is reproduced here.
"The Methodists had a strong foothold here as in most new countries and the barn like structure they used
many years for their church services witnessed many stirring, old fashioned revivals. There was no underpinning
to the house and the meetings were often disturbed by animals which made their sleeping quarters there. The men
sat on one side of the house and the women on the other.
"The first time I saw Mrs. Robinson, sister of Mrs. John Irwin, she was riding to church on the horse behind
her husband who was the circuit preacher at that time. I think they came in from the Jackson homestead.
"Socially there were no dividing lines. Every man was as good as his neighbor, if not a little better. Log
rollings, barn raisings and quilting bees were the chief entertainments. All the women in the neighborhood, an
area of two or three square miles, assisted in getting up the big dinners for the men's gatherings, thus combining
pleasure with business in a way peculiar to new countries. John Hull's dancing parties divided the social interests
with the churches for some years. The late William Thomas, L. G. Harris, Abijah Hubbell, the Hascall's, E. M. Chamberlain,
E. G. Chamberlain and wife and Mrs. J. P. Hawks are all that are left of the band that once tripped the light fantastic
toe to the music of Hull's violin in the old dancing room at Cook's tavern. I remember seeing Mrs. J. P. Hawks
(sister of Mrs. Hascall) starting for one of these parties on a horse behind her escort. That primitive fashion
went out of date, as the new corners brought in buggies and other light vehicles which took the place of 'prairie
schooners' and 'riding double' for pleasure excursions.
"The first wedding of note was that of E. M. Chamberlain to Miss Phoebe Hascall in 1838. All the 'youth and
beauty' of Goshen graced the occasion. A Rev. Mr. Brown performed the wedding ceremony.
"The first 'society event' of the town was Mr. Barnes' large house warming party, some time near 1850: A number
of South Bend people were there, among them Schuyler Colfax.
"As the town increased in population and wealth, large residences were built and society began to 'put on
airs', divide itself into 'circles', issue its mandates and with its city charter, put on metropolitan customs."
Not long ago Dwight H. Hawks, told the writer a little story about L. H. Noble and James T. Maxfield, and how they
came to locate in Goshen. In 1849 they left their home in Norwich, Ohio, to seek their fortunes in the West. They
had no particular place in view but thought they might find a better place somewhere than their old home. They
reached this county on the Fourth of July, ate their dinner at Benton and then drove on to Goshen. As they drove
through Elkhart prairie they admired its fine fields of wheat and corn, but that was not what decided them. In
less than an hour after they arrived in Goshen there was a fight in Main street a little south of Market street,
(now Lincoln avenue). Mr. Maxfield remarked to Mr. Noble, "This must be a live town. Let's stop here."
So they stopped and made plans for engaging in business. Mr. Maxfield remained only a few years, when he moved
on to St. Paul, Minnesota, but Mr. Noble made Goshen his home for the remainder of his life, a period of more than
fifty years. He was engaged in the hardware business for a number of years, but is remembered by the older people
now living as a manufacturer of school furniture, his shops being the same ones which the Rock Run Mills now occupy.
On the 26th of March, 1899, Mr. and Mrs. Noble celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary.