History of Boone Township, Porter County, Indiana
From: History of Porter County, Indiana
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago-New York 1912


Boone township, situated in the southwest corner of the county, was created by the county commissioners at their first meeting in April, 1836, though the boundary lines were changed several times before the township assumed its present form. It is bounded on the north by Porter township; on the east by Pleasant; south by the Kankakee river, which separates it from Jasper county, and on the west by Lake county. Its area is approximately thirty six square miles. The surface slopes gently toward the Kankakee river on the south. At first, the township was a fine prairie, with fine groves of timber scattered here and there, soft maple, elm, hickory and black walnut being the principal varieties of forest trees. Some of the land lies in the Kankakee swamp region, but by scientific and systematic ditching much of this land has been reclaimed, and practically the entire township is under cultivation. There are no mineral deposits worthy of mention, hence agriculture is the principal occupation of the inhabitants. The soil is above the average in fertility and large crops of hay, cereals, potatoes and other vegetables are raised.

The first permanent settlers in the township were Jesse Johnston, Isaac Cornell and Simeon Bryant, all of whom came in the year 1836 in the order named. The next year Thomas Dinwiddie, Absalom Morris, Orris Jewett, Solomon and James Dilley brought their families and settled near those who had come the preceding year. Other early settlers were John Prin, Thomas Johnson, Jennings Johnson, Frederick Wineinger, William Bissell, George Eisley, William Johnson, A. D. McCord, John Moore, John W. Dinwiddie, John Oliver, Amos Andrews, Joseph Laird, T. C. Sweeney, E. W. Palmer and a man named Bricer, all of whom had located in the township by the close of the year 1837.

When the board of county commissioners established the first townships, an election was ordered in Boone for the last day of April for one justice of the peace. This election was held at the house of Jesse Johnston and seven votes were cast, of which Mr. Johnston received six and Aschel Neal, one. Another election was held at the same place on September 24, 1836, for one justice of the peace, when John W. Dinwiddie was elected without opposition, receiving the seven votes cast. At this election Jesse Johnston was inspector; Joseph Laird and William Bissel were judges, John W. Dinwiddie and Isaac Cornell, clerks. Besides these five members of the election board, the only two voters were A. D. McCord and John Moore, though there were then in the township twenty men who were entitled to vote.

The first birth was that of Margaret Bryant - April 16, 1837. Harriet Dinwiddie, the youngest child in a large family, died the same year and was the first death in the township. The first marriage is believed to be that of James Dilley and Sarah Richards, though the date cannot be ascertained. Orris Jewett, one of the early settlers above mentioned, was a blacksmith, and for several years his shop was the only one in Boone township. The few settlers who brought their families with them felt the need of educational facilities for their children, and in 1837 they erected a log school house of the most primitive pattern in which a school was taught in the fall of that year, but the name of the teacher seems to have been forgotten. A Presbyterian church was organized in July, 1838, by a minister named Hannan, and after a few years the old school house was abandoned and the church building used for school purposes. In 1840 a second school house was built about a mile and a half southwest of the present town of Hebron. It was also a log structure, about 18 by 20 feet in size. The third school house in the township was built on the northeast corner of section 15, township 33, range 7, in 1842, and Mary Grossman was the first' teacher. Two years later the building was burned. Some of the early teachers were Ellen Hemes, Amos Andrews, James Turner, Eliza Russell, Sarah Richards, Rhoda Wallace, George Espy and Alexander Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton afterward studied law and became a prominent attorney in the city of Chicago. The first frame school house in the township was located two miles east of Hebron. In May, 1853, a meeting was held for the purpose of determining whether a special tax for the support of free schools should be levied. Fourteen votes were cast, ten of which were against the levy and four in favor of it, so the proposition failed to carry and the old school system was continued in operation. In 1854, the highest amount received from the state school fund by any district in the township was $43.00, and the lowest was $12.62. For the school year of 1911-12 there were eight teachers employed in the Hebron high school and five in the district schools. In the high school A. E. Dinsmore was superintendent; Elizabeth Patton, principal; and the teachers were R. M. Hamilton, Thomas G. Scott, Maggie Rex, Neva Nichols, Emma Morgan and Hattie Felton. Outside of the high school the teachers for the year were: District No. 1 (Malone), Grace Ling; District No. 2 (Aylesworth), Ruby Wood; District No. 6 (Bryant), Edna Dilley; District No. 7 (Tannehill), Bess Hawbrook; District No. 8 (Frye), Mabel Wheeler.

At the time the first white men came to Boone township, there were still a number of Indians living there, and in a few instances they showed a disposition to make trouble for the settlers, notwithstanding they had ceded their lands to the United States in 1832. A story is told of how old chief Shaw-ne-quo-ke came to the cabin of Simeon Bryant one day in 1836 while the "men folks" were absent and demanded that the white men vacate the Indian "hunting grounds." Taking a piece of chalk, the old chief drew a rude circle upon the floor, and then explained in the Indian tongue that all the land within a radius of five miles belonged to the people of his tribe. As Mrs. Bryant made no move toward giving up her frontier home, the Indian grew incensed, and seizing a butcher knife threatened to kill her if she did not leave immediately. The woman's screams awakened two large dogs that lay asleep in the cabin, and this fortunate circumstance doubtless saved her life. The dogs attacked the Indian with such vigor that his designs upon Mrs. Bryant were thwarted, and as soon as he could get away from the ferocious animals he beat a hasty retreat to the Indian encampment. A few years later the red men were removed to their reservations west of the Mississippi river, leaving the white men in undisputed possession of their homes.

For a quarter of a century after the first settlement, the population increased but slowly, with the exception of a tide of immigration in the latter '40s. Dr. Griffin, who settled at Walnut Grove in 1838, was probably the first physician in the township. When the railroad came through in 1863 a large number of people came with it, most of them settling in the vicinity of Hebron. Since then the growth has been gradual but substantial.

The town of Hebron had its beginning in 1844, when John Alyea laid out three lots of one acre each at the cross roads a mile east of the Lake county line, where the Presbyterians had erected a small church some four of five years before. The next year a man named Bagley built a log house there-the first dwelling in Hebron. That year Mr. Blain, the Presbyterian mininster, succeeded in having a postoffice located at the "Corners," as the place had been known up to that time, and the name of Hebron was given to the postoffice, Mr. Blain being appointed the first postmaster. In 1846 Samuel Alyea built the second house and put in a small stock of goods. His store was about forty yards from the crossroads, but a year or two later he formed a partnership with E. W. Palmer and a. new store was erected near the junction of the roads. An addition was made to the town in 1849 by Mr. James, who laid out several hall acre lots south and east of the cross roads. West of this addition the Siglar brothers laid out a tier of lots in section 15 in 1852. In 1864, when the railroad was completed through the town, the Siglars also laid out a considerable addition in sections 10, 11 and 15. Three years later, Patrick's addition was laid out in the southeast quarter of section 10. The first brick building in Hebron was the residence of Daniel Siglar, which was built in 1867. Sweeney & Son built the first brick business building in 1875. It was two stories in height, the upper story being used as the town hall. The first hotel was opened by Samuel McCune in 1849. After him the house was successively conducted by Tazwell Rice, Harvey Allen and John Skelton. In 1865 the Pratt House was opened by Burrell Pratt. About two years later he sold the house to another Mr. Pratt - no relation of his - who kept it for two years. The house then changed hands several times, being conducted by John Brey, John Gordon, Harvey Allen and John Siglar, the last named taking charge in 1879, when he changed the name to the Bates House. Henry Smith started a hotel near the railroad station in 1866. He was succeeded by a Mr. Winslow, and when he went out of business the house was purchased by a man named Poole, who converted it into a dwelling. The Central House, built in 1878 by John Skelton, was operated as a hotel for over two years, when it was also turned into a residence. Bumstead's County Directory for 1911-12 gives but one hotel in Hebron - the Commercial, kept by Otto Wharton. A newspaper called the Free Press was started at Hebron in September, 1878, by H. R. Gregory. The next year the name was changed to the Local News, and in 1880 the publication office was removed to Lowell, Lake county. Dr. John K. Blackstone was the first physician to locate in the town. He was soon followed by Dr. S. R. Pratt. Other early physicians were Andrew J. Sparks and Dr. Sales. In July, 1838, Bethlehem church of Associate Reform Presbyterians was organized by a minister named Hannan. The Methodists had been holding meetings for a year or more previous to that date, and a congregation was regularly organized by Rev. Jacob Colelasier in the latter part of 1837. The Old Style Presbyterians organized in 1860; the Union Mission Church in 1877; a Congregational church in 1882, and a Christian church some years later. (For a more detailed account of these churches see the chapter on Religious History.)

The first attempt to incorporate the town of Hebron was in the year 1874. This was followed by two other unsuccessful efforts, and it was not until 1886 that the town was incorporated. On Agust 1, 1886, a census was taken by Aaron W. Fehrman, and a petition signed by seventy four residents was filed with the county commissioners praying for incorporation. With the petition was also filed a map of the proposed town, embracing 186.08 acres in the southeast quarter of section 10, the southwest quarter of section 11, the northwest quarter of section 14, and the northeast quarter of section 15, all in township 33, range 7. The census report showed a population of 663 within the corporate limits as defined by the map. At the September term the board of commissioners granted the petition, subject to a vote of the people, and ordered an election to be held for that purpose on Saturday, October 2, 1886. At that election a majority of the electors expressed themselves as in favor of the project, and Hebron became an incorporated town. Since that time the growth of Hebron has been gradual, the United States census reports showing a population of 689 in 1890; 794 in 1900, and 821 in 1910. A number of the leading secret orders are represented in the town, to wit: Hebron Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Spencer-Baker Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star; Hebron Tent, Knights of the Maccabees; Court Hebron, Independent Order of Forestors; Hebron. Camp, Modern Woodmen of America; Hebron Lodge, Knights of Pythias; Hebron Temple of the Pythian Sisters; Shiloh Camp, Sons of Veterans, and Walters Post, Grand Army of the Republic. A lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized there at a comparatively early date, but it was allowed to lapse, and the records concerning it have apparently been lost. According to Bumstead's County Directory, already referred to, the town government for 1911-12 was composed of A. W. Blanchard, president; Roy Rathburn, clerk; O. E. Bagley, treasurer; I. V. Fry and B. F. Nichols, trustees, and E. F. Phillips, marshal. Among the business concerns are the Citizens' Bank, the Hebron Telephone Company, a butter and cheese factory, the Hebron Lumber Company, the implement house of A. V. Phillips, the hardware store of W. F. Morgan, four general stores, the Commercial Hotel and the Hebron News. There are also livery stables, jewelry and drug stores, a bakery, millinery stores, a confectioner, and the town has its quota of physicians, dentists, etc. The Hebron postoffice is authorized to issue international money orders, and three rural delivery routes supply mail daily surrounding agricultural districts.

Boone township is well supplied with transportation facilities by the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Company, which operates a double track line through the township, entering on the east two miles south of the northern boundary and running due west to Hebron, where it turns northwest and crosses the west line of the county one mile north of Hebron. Aylesworth is a flag station on this road, four miles east of Hebron, and with the exception of a small portion of the southwest corner, no part of the township is more than three miles from the railroad. There are over twenty miles of macadamized road in the township, most of the lines leading to Hebron, so that the farmers have splendid opportunities for marketing their produce.

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