History of Noble Township, Wabash County, Indiana
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 first meeting of the board of county commissioners was held at the house of David Burr, Town of Wabash, on the forenoon of Monday, June 15, 1835. The board was organized, several county officers were sworn in and some other preliminary business was disposed of before it adjourned for an afternoon session to the house of Commissioner Blackman. At the afternoon meeting the county was divided into both commissioners' districts and townships.


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.

An election was also ordered to be held in Noble Township, at the house of David Burr. on the 8th of July, 1835, for the selection of three justices of the peace - two for Noble Township and one for the Town of Wabash.


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.

Thus the original Noble Township, or the west half of the county, was reduced to the present township.

With the exception of the City of Wabash, there is virtually no center of population in the township. Rich Valley postoffice, about four miles to the west of the county seat, was at one time quite a promising village, but is now scarcely on the map, the rural route system having even abolished its distinctive poetoffice.


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.

On either side of the Wabash River there is a strip of bottom land of varying width, bordered by high bluffs the substructure of which is chiefly limestone of superior quality, but its strata much varying in thickness. Though the surface of the country is considerably broken along the margins of the river and the creeks, the major part of the area is comparatively level, or gently undulating. The productive quality of the soil is scarcely surpassed by that of any other township.

Every natural condition favors the creation of a first class country for the cultivation of hay, wheat, oats, corn, and the raising of hogs, horses and milch cows, and the farmers of the township have taken such continuous advantage of these natural advantages as to add constant wealth and unfailing comforts to the rural communities and the county at large. For a verification of this statement, go to the auditor and his figures covering any series of years for the past fifty.


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 meeting of the United States commissioners and the chiefs, warriors and head men of the Miamis and Pottawatomies, which resulted in the treaties of October 16 and 23, 1826, has been fully described, as well as the opening of the Treaty Grounds on the present site of Wabash as the Headquarters for New Comers. The story has also developed the fact that home seekers from near and from far were not backward in responding to the kind invitation of General Tipton, the Indian agent, and other promoters of white settlement.


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.


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.


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.


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.

About the same time Joel and Champion Helvie arrived at the Treaty Grounds, but remained only a short time, finally settling opposite the mouth of the Salamonie River in what is now the Town of La Gro.


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.

The Kintners came next, but although they gave their name to the creek they only remained a few months, moving their saddlery and harness shop to Logansport in March, 1828. At that time the Indian agency was transferred from Fort Wayne to Logansport, and the Kintner brothers depended almost entirely upon the Indian trade for their business.


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.


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.

On the same day John Tipton purchased the fractional southwest quarter of section 10, containing 42.29 acres, and the north fraction of section 15, containing 73.66 acres, all in township 27, range 6 east.

On the 3d of February, 1832, Hugh Hanna purchased the fractional southwest quarter of section 11. township 27, range 6, containing 118.60 acres, all of which is covered by the town plat of Wabash.


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.


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.

Keller's Settlement, or Keller's Station, became quite well known in later years, and Rich Valley, with its postoffice, was a still later development. The latter was also one of the stations on the old Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroad.


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.

About the same time Col. William Steele came from Wayne County, as well as Allen W. Smith.

Of this period were also David and Jacob D. Cassatt, father and son. Alpheus Blackman, John Smith, Zera Sutherland, Michael Duffy, Andrew Murphy, Isaac Thomas, Dr. Jonathan R. Cox and others were of the immigration of 1833-34, locating chiefly within the present limits of the City of Wabash.


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.

Col. Hugh Hanna became a permanent settler of his new town in October, 1834, and he and Mr. Shepherd built its first stores.


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.


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."

The year 1854 did not show great advancement, except perhaps in becoming better acquainted with the situation and its wants. No new schoolhouses were constructed in the township either in 1854 or 1855, but during the latter year a tax amounting to $3,140 had been levied for that purpose to be applied in the following year.

In 1856, educational matters picked up; for three schoolhouses were built and 944 pupils attended the schools taught for a period of two and a half months. Again there was a tax of $2,478.83 levied for the erection of schoolhouses, and three additional buildings were provided in 1858. During that year out of a total enumeration of 1,462 pupils, 1,162 attended school during an average period of sixty five days. In 1859 there were three and in 1860 seven schoolhouses built at a cost of $3,630 for the two years. At that time, within the boundaries of Noble Township, as then constituted, there were twenty eight schoolhouses, a majority of which had been constructed under the provisions of the new law on the subject, being therefore a decided improvement over the old order.


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.

Outside the city, the township is divided into the following districts, with teachers as enumerated Linlawn, 9; Chippewa, 9; White's Institute, 4; Rich Valley, 2; country schools. 7. The enrollment of pupils in 1914 was 629. In 1913, according to the county auditor's figures, $59,292.89 was paid to the school board of the City of Wabash for the support of its educational system, and $33,501.31 to the school boards of Noble Township.


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 Institute includes three buildings in which dependent children are housed and cared for, and two more are in course of construction - a well planned hospital and a home for small boys. It is situated about four and a half miles southeast of Wabash along Treaty Creek, and its farm of 640 acres was formerly a portion of the famous Me-shin-go-me-sia Indian Reservation. Four hundred acres of this land is in cultivation, and the property of the institute includes substantial barns for the care of its sixteen horses and 100 head of cattle. There are now 210 children at the institute, of whom seventy are girls. and, in accord with the objects for which it was founded they are receiving a moral, religious and industrial training which will make them useful members of society.


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.

In this work Josiah White was employed from 1810 to 1818, when the works were purchased by the City of Philadelphia. He was one of the pioneers both in the improvement of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers and in the mining and marketing of anthracite coal, and through his executive and financial connection with various coal and navigation companies accumulated a much larger fortune than his original capital. He died in 1850, and in his will made bequests for the establishment of various manual labor schools in Iowa and Indiana, to be placed at the disposal of the Society of Friends.


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.

This body was incorporated on the 25th of October. 1852. and purchased the 640 acres on Treaty Creek described as section 31, township 27 north, range 7 east. In 1859 an administration building, a schoolhouse and a boarding house were erected on the purchased tract, a superintendent appointed and the institute organized on a modest scale to carry out the aims of the founder as far as could be done with the means at the disposal of the management.

From that time forward, the institute strengthened and broadened and, although it has had its periods of depression, there was never any doubt as to the honesty and faithfulness of those at the head of its management. Since its establishment Josiah White's two daughters have left endowments amounting to about thirty seven thousand dollars. Mary Emily Smith, late of Richmond, Indiana, also made a bequest of $13,000, and William Wohlgamuth willed to it a sum of $1,000 and 160 acres of land in Nebraska.


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 Americans."

While the Government paid to the institute a certain sum per capita for the Indian children brought there, the board of trustees concluded that this feature of its work was outside of its scope as defined by Mr. White. A few years after the inauguration of the experiment the Government also established its own Indian schools; so that White's Institute abandoned the work.


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.


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.

The income from the farm produce and livestock, the proceeds from the endowment funds and the 30 cents per day received from the county for each child, make the institute more than self supporting. The result is that improvements are constantly progressing, and ere long White's Institute will be one of the most convenient and attractive homes for dependent children in the state.

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