History of Noble Township, Wabash County,
From: History of Wabash County, Indiana
Compiles under the Editorial Supervison of
Clarkson W. Weesner
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York 1914
As has been stated, Noble and La Gro townships are the original units of Wabash County, the seven subdivisions
which now form its territory having been made from these parent bodies.
THE TOWNSHIP LAID OFF
All that part of Wabash County lying west of the line dividing ranges 6 and 7 was to be known as the Township of Noble, in honor of James Noble, late senator of the United States, and all lying east of that dividing line was to be called La Gro Township.
For Noble Township the following officers were appointed: Constables, Thomas Burton, D. J. J. Jackson and Vincent
Hooten; inspector of elections, Daniel Jackson; overseers of the poor, D. Burr and II. Hanna; supervisor District
No. 3, S. F. McLane; supervisor District No. 4, James H. Keller; fence viewers, Jonas Carter and Bradley Williams.
CUT DOWN TO PRESENT AREA
The chief steps by which Noble Township was reduced to its present dimensions and form were the creation of
Pleasant Township from its north end, or the northwest corner of the county, in 1836; the slicing off of its six
southern sections in 1841, to farm Waltz Township, and the consolidation of the north part of Noble and the south
part of Pleasant Township into what is known as Paw Paw, in 1872.
DRAINAGE AND SOIL
Noble Township, considered from a physical standpoint, is a fertile, well watered tract of country. The Wabash
River throws a broad band across its central sections from east to west, and both northern and southern branches
are thrown out, every mile or so, into the adjacent districts. The chief southern tributaries come from beyond
the limits of the township - Mill, Treaty and Burr creeks - while Kentner. the main northern branch, penetrates
well into the northeastern corner. Batchelor Creek waters several of the northwestern sections; so that, as stated,
the township, as a whole, is abundantly drained and fertilized by running waters.
INDIAN MILL AND ITS MILLERS
The first settlements in what is now Noble Township were at and near the present City of Wabash. The Indians
had first to be bought off before the whites could come in, and the first step was taken under the Treaty of 1818;
for shortly after it had been ratified the General Government sent Benjamin Level to the point on a creek, four
miles southwest of the present City of Wabash, which the Indians had selected as a site for their promised mill.
There - on Mill Creek - Mr. Level erected it, and Lewis Miller came as its first miller. On the 4th of July, 1826,
Gillis McBean moved to the Indian Mills as its superintendent. These two millers, with their families, represented
the white settlers of Noble Township and Wabash County prior to the opening up of the Indian lands north of the
Wabash in the fall of the year named (1826).
THE KINTNERS AND THE CREEK
Some of those who were present during the progress of the council with the Indians concluded to return to the country and remain permanently. Among these were Frederick R. and James H Kintner, who, within about a year after the conclusion of the treaties, had settled at the mouth of the creek which bears their family name and opened a harness shop.
McCLURE, FIRST FAMILY MAN
But the first to arrive on the Treaty Grounds with his family was Samuel McClure, Sr., who left his native state of Ohio on Christmas day, 1826, and arrived at headquarters on the 15th of January, 1827. This was about three months after the treaties had been made and before the lands had been surveyed which the Miamis and Pottawatomies had relinquished. McClure and his household immediately moved into one of the shanties built for the traders and others who had attended the council. As he had a wife and ten children, his affairs were naturally pressing. After getting his family under cover he set to work to feed them. With the winter half spent, he soon cleared the timber and underbrush from fifteen acres of land near the family cabin, and early in the spring planted the tract to corn. In May the section including his corn field was surveyed by the Government, and it was found that the McClure family was squatting on land which had been granted to the Indian chief, Little Charley. The McClures therefore abandoned their first selection and by the 10th of June, 1827, the head of the family had completed a log cabin on the banks of the Wabash about three miles below the Treaty Grounds.
FIRST STORE KEEPER, McCLURE, JR.
In the following August, Samuel McClure, Jr., who had assisted his father in all these pioneer enterprises looking to the permanent settlement of the family, opened a store near their residence, which was the first mercantile establishment of the township. These rude cabins were situated on the tract of land afterward owned and occupied by Jonas Carter, a son in law of Samuel McClure, Sr.
GOVERNMENT BLACKSMITH WILSON
In May. 1827, Benjamin Hurst and Robert Wilson arrived at headquarters to "look around." Shortly afterward
Mr. Wilson was appointed Government blacksmith at the Indian mill and went there to live.
ARRIVAL OF DAVID BURR
A little later in the year 1827, Col. David Burr (after whom the creek is named) seems to have taken possession
of several buildings on the Treaty Grounds - probably by purchase, although the entry of his lands was not made
until three years afterward. In one of these buildings, the colonel opened the pioneer hotel of the county, and
lived in another, at which a postoffice was located in 1830.
KELLER BROTHERS AND KELLER CREEK
Shortly before the Kintners left the township and the county, the Keller brothers commenced to come into the county. James and Jonathan settled in Noble Township, while Christian and Anthony became residents of La Gro Township. In the fall of 1828, Jonathan took charge of the Indian mill and remained there for two years. Anthony, after residing a few years in La Gro, returned to this township, and various members of the family eventually located around the headwaters of Keller's Creek, in the western part of the township, and formed the nucleus of a considerable settlement.
TRACTS WITHIN THE ORIGINAL WABASH
The first recorded purchase of land in Noble Township was that made on the 11th of October, 1830, by David Burr.
He entered the fractional southeast quarter of section 1, township 27 north, range 6 east, containing 155.21 acres:
also, the north fraction of the northeast and the north fraction of the northwest quarter of section 12 of the
same township and range, the former containing 49.60 acres and the latter, 101.80 acres. A large portion of these
tracts is now embraced in the corporate limits of the City of Wabash.
TOWN LAID OUT
The tract immediately north of this was purchased February 27, 1834, by Alexander Worth, contained 132.54 acres and was also a part of the original town plat, which was laid out by Col. Hugh Hanna, April, 1834.
Among the first settlers not heretofore mentioned, who located on what thus became the Town of Wabash, was Milton Wheeler, brother of Isaac and father of Henry Wheeler, who located about 1832. Some two years later Isaac Wheeler opened a blacksmith shop in what is now Wabash perhaps the first in the county, outside the Government shop at the Indian mill.
THE KELLER SETTLEMENT
Outside the Town of Wabash, probably the most important cluster of settlements in the early '30s was that founded
by the Kellers. On the 3d of October, 1832, Jonathan Keller bought the east half of northeast quarter of section
14, township 27, range 5; also, the southeast quarter of the same. On December 15th of that year Thomas Curray
purchased the west half of the southwest quarter of section 1, township 27, range 5. These were the first purchases
and represented the pioneer settlements in the western part of the township.
OTHER SETTLERS OF THE EARLY '30s
Maj. Stearns Fisher came to Wabash County in 1833, at the building of the Wabash & Erie Canal, with which
he was prominently identified. He became a resident of Wabash not long after it was platted.
FIRST NATIVE OF WABASH TOWN
George Shepherd built the first house in the Town of Wabash on lot 63, immediately west of the southwest corner
of Allen and Market streets, soon after the original sale of lots in May, 1834. A few days after moving into their
cabin a child was born to Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd. the first in the town.
Within a few years after the creation of Wabash County, the fixing of the county seat and the civil organization of Noble Township, all of which happened in 1835, the Indian lands had also been completely surveyed, and the population increased so rapidly that the permanent settlers took steps to provide schools for their children. As early as 184243 private, or subscription schools were taught in different parts of Noble Township, generally in the winter season and occasionally in the summer.
IMPROVEMENTS IN THE '50s
But even prior to 1851-52 the schools were not very numerous, nor were public schoolhouses very generally provided.
In 1853 there were 1,363 of school age within the limits of Noble Township, including the Town of Wabash, and fifteen
schoolhouses. They were described as "uniformly in bad condition - usually log structures and illy supplied
with even the ordinary paraphernalia of the schoolroom. School furniture was as yet almost unheard of in the routine
of school life."
SCHOOLS OF THE PRESENT
The schools of the present, it is needless to say, are up to the modern standard, in support of which statement
reference is made to the report of the county superintendent of schools, a synopsis of which is published elsewhere.
In these days it would be only Civil war or a raging pestilence which could cut the school year down to two months.
Including the schools in the City of Wabash, more than ninety teachers are now employed in Noble Township, of which
thirty five hold forth in the establishments outside the municipality.
WHITE'S MANUAL LABOR INSTITUTE
White's Manual Labor Institute, or, as it is generally called, White's Institute, is one of the most noted educational
establishments in Noble Township and Wabash County. Throughout its life of more than half a century it has combined
in a noteworthy degree, educational training, religious instruction and practical benevolence; and no pupil has
ever been barred from its good influences on account of "race, color or previous condition of servitude."
White's Manual Labor Institute has always been under the control of the Society of Friends, of which Josiah
White, its founder, was a lifelong member. That fine Quaker was born in 1781 at Mount Holly, New Jersey. In his
youth he had a passion for mechanical pursuits and received a fair education. In Philadelphia he was apprenticed
to the hardware trade, and after serving his time conducted a store on his own account. When he commenced an independent
business he resolved to devote all his energies to it until he had accumulated $40,000 in money. provided he could
do so before his thirtieth year. Two years before reaching that age, he realized his ambition and retired from
business. At first he was tempted to invest that sum at interest, but instead his active temperament induced him
to apply at least a portion of his fortune in building a dam and lock at Schuylkill.
FOUNDED IN 1852
For the establishment of the Indiana Institute, $20,000 was devised; "to be appropriated to the erection
of a college, or manual labor school for the education of colored people, Indians and others likely to be benefited
by the practical application of industrial with educational and religious instruction." One half the sum mentioned
was to be used for the purchase of grounds and the other half for the erection of buildings. A board of trustees
was appointed by the Society of Friends of Indiana to select the location of a suitable site within the state limits.
It first met at Wabash on the 5th of October, 1852, its members being George Evans, Luke Thomas, Aaron Hill, William
Reese, Alfred Johnson, Isaac Jay, Jesse Wilson, David Miles and Jesse Small.
EDUCATION OF INDIAN CHILDREN
In the summer of 1883 the experiment was first tried of bringing Indian children from the western plains to
the institute for the purpose of educating them. On the evening of February 5, 1884, Professor Coppack, of the
institute, with Nathan Coggshall and Mrs. Joseph Pleas, started for the far West to arrange for bringing thirty
seven Indian children to the institute, in addition to the thirty three who had already been accommodated. Their
purpose was to "select such children as know little or nothing of civilization and make them over into civilized
CARE OF THE COUNTY WARDS
At that time the institute began caring for the county wards. The children are received from different counties of the state and from juvenile courts and other institutions, as well as from the hands of guardians of orphan children. They are trained in manual and farm work and in domestic service, receiving also the religious and educational instruction which forms so large a part of the original plan. The institute provides instruction not only in the common branches, but in art and music.
BRIGHT PRESENT AND FUTURE
The surroundings of the institute are ideal for the normal boy and girl, and the trustees, who devote their
time and services without compensation, may well be proud of the good work accomplished. The present board is composed
of the following: Nathan Gilbert, president, Wabash; Isaac Elliott, secretary, Fairmount; John Johnson, Richmond;
William Diggs, Winchester; William Elliott, Fairmount; I. P. Hunt, Fountain City. Some of the members have been
on the board for years, Isaac Elliott ranking them all in length of service.