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


Pleasant township, established by the board of county commissioners on April 12, 1836, is situated in the southeast corner of the county, and is the largest township in the county. It is bounded on the east by Laporte county; on the south by the Kankakee river, which separates it from Jasper county; on the west by Boone township, and on the north by the township of Morgan. Its area is about fifty six square miles. Crooked creek flows southward through the center of the township and Sandy Hook creek along the western border, both emptying into the Kankakee river. The name Pleasant was conferred upon the township on account of the natural beauty of its location. For years before the advent of the white man, the groves and marshes along the Kankakee river formed a favorite hunting ground for the Indians. Game of all kinds abounded there, fur bearing animals were plentiful, and pleasant sites for encampments or villages could easily be found on the higher grounds along the river. Southwest of Kouts, at a point where two Indian trails crossed the Kankakee, the early settlers found the outlines of an ancient fortification so old - that trees two feet or more in diameter were growing on the embankments - indicating that the spot had been a resort for the aborigines for years, perhaps for centuries.

John Sherwood was the first white settler in the township, coming there with his family in 1834. During the next two years William Trinkle, John Jones, Henry Adams, William Billings, John and Joseph Bartholomew, Enoch Billings, Martin Reed, Morris and James Witham, Lewis Comer, John Adams, Charles Allen, Luke Asher, Hisel Coghill, Oliver Coles and several others were added to the population. The first election for township officers - a justice of the peace only - was held at the house of Henry Adams on April 30, 1836, when eleven votes were polled. The judges of election were William Billings, who acted as inspector, Enoch Billings and Morris Witham. Lewis Comer received the unanimous vote of the electors and became the first justice of the peace. At an election on December 24, 1836, for justice of the peace and to fill a vacancy in the office of associate judge, only nine votes were cast. Seneca Ball received nine votes for judge, and John Adams the same number for justice of the peace. The first birth was that of Henry, son of William and Ghillie Ann Triükle, December 2, 1835. The first marriage was that of Alexander Wright to a Miss Jones about 1839, and the first death was that of Jeremiah, son of John Sherwood.

As most of the early settlers located in the eastern part, between the county line and Crooked creek, it was a natural sequence that the first school should be taught in that section. In 1838 a small log school house was erected on section 13, township 33, range 5, a short distance south of where the Panhandle railroad now enters Porter county. It was built by the patrons of the school and had the customary clay fireplace and greased paper windows. A pioneer teacher says that these windows possessed a great advantage over glass ones, as they admitted the light but prevented lazy pupils from gazing out of the window instead of studying their lessons. A larger school house was erected upon the same section a little later. Several years later the first frame school house in the township was built near the same site. In the school year 1911-12 there were five district schools in Pleasant township, in addition to the commissioned high school at Kouts. In these schools thirteen teachers were employed, to wit: High school, E. E. Wright, superintendent; Bertha Tofte, principal; Katherine Kring, Jeannette Anderson, Lulu M. Benkie, Grace Jones, Frederica Witham and Hattie Felton; District No. 1 (Marshal Grove), Claire Hannon; No. 4 (Five Points), Marie Beckwith; No. 5 (Morrison), Marguerite Tofte; No. 7 (Lauer), Grace Gay; No. 8 (Stowell), Clara Young.

Agriculture has always been the leading industry of the people. The soil is fertile and well adapted to hay, grain, corn and potatoes. A considerable portion of the land lies in the Kankakee marshes and has to be drained before it can be successfully cultivated. Several large ditches have been constructed through the township, and where the land has been thus reclaimed it yields large profits to the owner. The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis railroad, commonly called the Panhandle, runs east and west, two miles south of the northern boundary; the Chicago & Erie railroad crosses the eastern boundary a little south of the center and runs in a northwesterly direction, crossing the Panhandle at Kouts, and a line of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois system crosses the southeast corner. These lines afford good transportation facilities for practically all parts of the township. Very little macadamized road has been built in Pleasant, but in the summer of 1912 there were some sixteen miles under construction

Kouts is the only village of importance. It is situated about two miles northwest of the center, at the junction of the Erie and Panhandle railroads as already mentioned. This town was laid out by Bernard Knouts, from whom it took its name, about the time the railroad was completed. A postoffice was established there in 1865, with H. A. Wright as postmaster. Mr. Kouts built the first business building in the town, and the second was built by Brown & Miley. When the Erie railroad was built in 1881, Kouts began to grow more rapidly and now has a population of about 500. Very few attempts have been made to establish manufacturing enterprises, and with one exception these attempts have been made at Kouts. Joseph Hackman erected a sawmill on the bank of the Kankakee river some years ago, but sold it to James M. Pugh, who converted it into a portable mill and used it in various parts of the township. H. A. Wright started a cheese factory about 1877, but after a short time abandoned the undertaking. In 1887 Jerry Ryan started an ax handle factory which employed five or six men for a while, but the lack of suitable timber led him to discontinue the business. On June 21, 1912, the Knouts creamery was opened for business. It is of a cooperative nature, the stock being owned by sixty seven persons, all residents of the immediate neighborhood. Bouts also has a wholesale and retail bakery, and a saw and feed mill operated by the Betterton Milling Company. The Porter County Bank is located here. The oldest church in the town is the Evangelical Lutheran, of which Rev. Hicks Hicken is pastor. A Christian church has recently been organized. There are six general stores, a hardware and implement store, insurance agencies representing all the leading companies, Adams and Wells Fargo express offices, and a money order postofflee with one rural route emanating from it. The secret orders are represented by the Odd Fellows, the Foresters of America and the Modern Woodmen. Considerable shipping is done from Knouts, which is the only railroad station of consequence in the township. Clanricard is a small station on the Erie, one mile from the east line of the county, and there is a flag station called Burke's on the Chicago & Eastern Illinois, not far from the Kankakee river.

Pleasant township has had its share of crimes and casualties. In the fall of 1873, while James M. Pugh was plowing near his residence, he found some dry marsh grass somewhat annoying. He asked his daughter, Sarah, to get some fire and burn the dead grass. Scarcely had she ignited the grass when a sudden change in the direction of the wind blew the flames toward her, setting fire to her clothing. The accident occurred about two o'clock in the afternoon, and after intense suffering the girl died at four o'clock the following morning. In 1873 a man named Swett was shot and killed by Charles Chase. Two murders occurred in the year 1879, when Charles Askam was killed by John McIntosh and John Dutton was killed by Brainard Taft. On Thursday, March 23, 1882, David Ramsey, an old hunter and trapper was found dead in a swamp about three miles southeast of Kouts. The day previous he had been seen in gouts, where he was drinking heavily, and was warned by Robert Hall to be careful, not drink any more and to go home. It is supposed that he started home and either lost his way, or deliberately wandered into the swamp, where he died from exposure.

Census reports for the last twenty years show a steady and healthy increase in the number of inhabitants. In 1890 the population of the township was 984, ten years later it was 1,209, and in 1910 it was 1,424.

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