Lying southwest of Valparaiso is the township of Porter, which is the second largest in the county, containing
forty five square miles. It is bounded on the north by Union and Center townships; on the east by Morgan; on the
south by Boone, and on the west by Lake county. When the original division of the county into ten townships was
made by the county commissioners on April 12, 1836, the territory now included in Porter township was made a part
of Boone. In March, 1838, the northern part of Boone - that portion lying north of the line dividing townships
33 and 34 - was erected into a township called Fish Lake, from the little body of water known as Lake Eliza, but
then called Fish Lake. In June, 1841, in response to a petition of the inhabitants, who did not like the name of
Fish Lake, the commissioners changed the name of the township to Porter. The first settlements in what is now Porter
township were made during the years 1834-35, when Samuel and Isaac Campbell, Newton Frame, David Hurlburt, Isaac
Edwards, and a few others located in that part of Porter county. Others who came during the next few years were
the Sheffields, William McCoy, Ezra Reeves, Morris Carman, Dr. L. A. Cass, William A. Nichols, J. C. Hathaway,
William Frakes, Alpheus French, Henry M. Wilson, A. M. Bartel, Jonathan Hough, William C. Shreve, Edmund Hatch,
David Dinwiddie, Moses and Horatio. Gates, William Robinson, Richard Jones, Asa Cobb, and a few others who became
prominently identified with the township's industries and affairs. Alpheus French was a Baptist minister and preached
the first sermon in the township.
Owing to the fact that most of Porter township is prairie land, the early settlers were not annoyed as much by
Indians as those who settled in the timbered parts of the county. Occasionally an Indian hunting party would pass
through the settlement, but the members of it were nearly always friendly, and there were always a few who would
maintain peace and order among their fellows. Game was plentiful and the pioneer who was a good marksman was never
in fear of a meat famine until the encroachment of civilization drove off the deer and other game animals, and
by that time the farms were so well developed that the settler could depend upon domestic animals for his supply.
For several years after the first settlement was made, Michigan City was the nearest point where supplies could
be obtained, and occasional trips were made to that port for salt, sugar and other things that could not he grown
or manufactured at home. Matches were scarce and commanded a price much higher than at the present time, hence
the fire was never allowed to go out, a little being kept at all times "for seed." Wolves roamed over
the prairie and carried off lambs and pigs occasionally, but aside from this the losses and hardships of the early
settlers were not great.
Children belonging to the families that settled in the western part of the township attended a school on Eagle
creek, just across the line in Lake county. The first school in the township is believed to be the one taught by
Mrs. Humphrey at her home about 1837 or 1838. This school was patronized by the Sheffields, the Stauntons, and
a few other families. One by one school houses were erected as the population increased until there were ten districts
in the township. Two of these - Numbers 3 and 6 - have been consolidated with other schools, and in the school
year 1911-12 there were eight district schools and a three years' high school at Boone Grove. The teachers in the
high school were J. E. Worthington, C. Marguerite De Marchus and Lillie Dorsey. In the district schools the teachers
were as follows: No. 1 (the Cobb school), Miss Myra E. Jones; No. 2 (Gates Corners), Grace Mains; No. 4 (Kenworthy),
Maud Williams; No. 5 (Merriman), Bessie Love; No. 7 (Porter Crossroads), Marie Benedict; No. 8 (the Beach school),
Neva Doyle; No. 9 (Hurlburt), Rhoda Bates; No. 10 (the Skinner school), Gertrude Albertson. The schools of Porter
township have always maintained a high reputation for their efficiency.
In 1844 a postoffice was established at Porter Cross roads, and was known by that name. It was probably the first
postoffice in the township. The next year a postoffice was established at Hickory Point, just across the line in
Lake county, and the inhabitants of the western part of the township received their mail at that office. Jeremy
Hickson, the postmaster, carried the mail from Crown Point. He was succeeded by Henry Nichols and his father, William
A. Nichols, who between them kept the office for about six years, when it was moved across the line into Porter
township and a man named Porter became postmaster. At his death a few years later the office was discontinued.
The Porter Cross roads office continued in existence until about the close of the Civil war. The postoffices in
the township at the present time (1912) are Boone Grove and Hurlburt. Boone Grove is an old settlement, and the
postoffice there was established a few years before the war. About 1857 Joseph Janes opened a store at Boone Grove,
with a small stock of goods, and continued in business for several years, when he closed out his stock. With the
building of the Chicago & Erie railroad, which passes through Boone Grove, the village began to grow, and in
1910 had a population of about 150. There is a local telephone exchange, and in 1912 the principal business enterprises
were the general stores of Dye Brothers, F. Wittenberg, and J. B. Woods, the last named being the postmaster. For
a time Boone Grove was known as Baltimore. Hurlburt is a comparatively new place, having been made a postoffice
after the completion of the Chicago & Erie railroad, on which it is a station about two and a half miles northwest
of Boone Grove. It was named for one of the pioneer settlers who located in that part of the township, and in 1910
had a population of over 100. It has two general stores, kept by S. H. Adams and W. F. French, and is a shipping
point for a rich agricultural district. The Hickory Point above mentioned was on the line between Lake and Porter
counties, and was once a trading point and social center of some importance. Shortly after the postoffice was started
there in 1844 Alfred Nichols opened a store on the Porter county side, but some years later removed to Crown Point.
A man named Wallace then conducted a store there for several years, and when he went out of business a Mr. Carson,
who had recently come from Ohio, engaged in the mercantile business there. The discontinuance of the postoffice,
and the competition of Boone Grove, influenced Mr. Carson to close out his stock, and with the building of the
railroad Hickory Point sunk into insignificance. It is now little more more than a memory.
About two miles northwest of Hurlburt, and a short distance north of the Erie railroad, the old Salem church
was erected at an early date. Before the church was built the members of the congregation held their meetings in
the homes of the settlers. Just about a mile north of this church the Old School Presbyterians, or Scotch Covenanters,
built a church. Christian and Methodist churches were later established at Boone Grove. A more complete account
of these pioneer religious organizations will be found in the chapter relating to Religious History.
Owing to a lack of vital statistics, it is impossible to learn at this late date of the first birth, the first
marriage or the first death in the township. One of the early deaths was that of a young man named Robinson, a
son of John Robinson, his death resulting from a cut in the thigh with an axe.
Porter township has been from the first an agricultural community. No manufacturing establishments of consequence
have ever been located within its borders. About the time the Civil war commenced a Mr. Sheffield started a sawmill
in the northern part of the township, where there was some timber, but no one seems to know what became of it.
The people are progressive, and some of the best improved farms in the county are to be found in Porter township.
There are about sixteen miles of macadamized road and a number of large ditches in the township, which is crossed
by two lines of railroad. The Chicago & Erie enters the township about two and a half miles west of the southeast
corner, runs northwest throught Boone Grove and Hurlburt, and crosses the western boundary of the county not far
from Salem church. About four miles north of this road and almost parallel to it runs the Chesapeake & Ohio
(formerly the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville) railroad. Beatrice, in the extreme northwest corner of the
township, is the only station on this road within the limits of Porter. Beatrice is a small place and has grown
up since the railroad was built.
The population of the township in 1890 was 1,121; in 1900 it was 1,075, and in 1910 it had decreased to 1,000.
Notwithstanding this slight decrease in population, the township has increased in wealth, and in 1911 the property
of the township was assessed for tax purposes at $1,439,590.