History of Pleasant 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

PLEASANT TOWNSHIP

Pleasant Township, comprising fifty six square miles in the northwestern part of Wabash County, does not belie its name. It is a country of varied surface, of beautiful streams and numerous pretty lakes, and of fertile soil and comfortable homesteads. The sportsman, the lover of out of doors and the home builder, are equally pleased with the outlook.

BEAUTIFUL LAKES AND RIVERS

Eel River and its tributaries are chiefly responsible for the pleasant outlook of the country. That stream enters from the eastern border of the township and flows generally in a southwesterly direction, through the southeast central and southern sections into Paw Pass Township toward Roann. On its way, it passes Laketon and South Laketon, and receives Otter, Silver and Squirrel creeks from the north. These, with several smaller tributaries from that direction, bind together various chains of little lakes.

This feature is most pronounced in the watercourse west of Laketon, which embraces Long, Round and Mud lakes in a sort of triangle. Long Lake, nearly a mile long and one third as wide, is the largest compact body of water in Pleasant Township. South of its west end is Round Lake, considerably smaller and lying directly west of Laketon, while Mud Lake to the west of Long is not much more than a fair sized pond_ But they are all sunny and offer good fishing grounds, while the surrounding country is justly attractive to the hunter and tourist generally.

Silver Creek, the largest of the Eel River branches, rises in an unnamed lake in section 26, in the northwestern part of the township, and flows southeasterly through Flat Lake and other expansions of its, bed into the main stream, about a mile north of the southern line of the township, between sections 16 and 21.

The largest lakes outside of the Laketon region are along the course of Squirrel Creek in the western part of the township. The source of that stream is Flora Lake in section 11. Half a mile to the south, lying mostly in section 14, is Lukens Lake, through which it flows southwest into Miami County, doubling back into Pleasant Township and emptying into the Eel River just east of Stockdale in Paw Paw Township.

Lukens Lake is nearly midway between Stockdale and the old postoffice of New Harrisburg, Pleasant Township. It is a little smaller than Long Lake, and received its name from the fact that in early times most of the land upon its shores was owned by Matthias Lukens, one of the leading and wealthy pioneers of the township.

In the early times Squirrel Creek was utilized considerably as a waterpower stream, some of the first settlers in that portion of the county coming up its valley from the Eel River and building cabins and mills on its banks. It derives its name from the Indian Village founded by the Indian chief, Captain Squirrel, adjoining the site of Stoekdale. Squirrel, in the Indian tongue, is Niconza, which was the name of a postoffice established, many years ago, on the banks of the creek about a mile southwest of Lukens Lake and just over the boundary line in Miami County.

TOPOGRAPHY AND SOIL

The northwest part of Pleasant Township is very hilly, the northern sections being less hilly and considerably rolling. In early times the timber in these regions was large and abundant, consisting of black walnut, poplar, hickory, ash, oak and sugar maple. The shores of most of the lakes in the western part of the township, such as Lukens and Twin, have rough and hilly banks, while further east they are low and sandy. The country south of Eel River is generally level, but not so low as to prevent easy drainage The valley was heavy timber land. Toward the north are the prairies, the barrens and "bastard barrens."

The barrens are tracts of land originally covered with an open growth of oak and hickory, which grew to a height of fifty or sixty feet. The "bastard barrens" were much like the simple barrens, except that a greater variety of timber could be found on them of a somewhat smaller growth.

The soil throughout the township is considered rich and strong. In the bottoms of the streams it is a sandy loam; in other places, clay predominates. The barrens and bastard barrens, though more high and rolling than the "bottoms," produce good crops of grain. In fact, the bastard barrens are thought by many farmers to embrace the best lands in the township, except the Eel River bottoms, for the general production of cereals and grasses.

PLEASANT TOWNSHIP OF TODAY

As a political and civil body, Pleasant Township was created in May, 1836, by striking off from the north of Noble Township nine tiers of sections (eight sections in a tier). This division would include Stockdale, but exclude Roann. It was not until 1873 that Paw Paw Township was created and the two southern tiers were taken from Pleasant, thus reducing it to its present territory - seven miles north and south, and eight miles, east and west.

The reader must keep these facts in mind, in order to reconcile apparently conflicting statements as to the first settlers of the two townships.' For instance, both Pleasant and Paw Paw townships often claim John Anderson as their pioneer settler. Undoubtedly he was the first white resident in the Pleasant Township of 1836, but is displaced by another when the Pleasant Township of 1873, or of the present, is considered.

JESSE MOYER, FIRST SETTLER

The local historians have reached an agreement that the first settler within the limits of Pleasant Township of today was Jesse Moyer, one of a party which in 1835, came through from Wayne County. Ohio, its members locating either in Miami or Wabash counties, near the boundary line. The story of that journey and especially the circumstances which determined Mr. Moyer's choice of a location in Pleasant Township are thus told by Matthias Lukens, then a youth and an enthusiastic member of the colony: "I came through from Wayne County, Ohio, with a company of movers going to the Wabash Valley, in the spring of 1835. There were two families, with only two wagons - one ox team and one team of horses. The families were these: Matthias Moyer's, seven in all; Jesse Moyer's (brothers), five in family; as also Jacob Gill, a widower with no children, and myself, who was a boy eighteen years old, and came with them and stayed. Father (Abraham Lukens) came two years later.

TYPICAL PIONEER TRIP

"In passing through the Black Swamp, that awful place, where so many horses were killed and wagons broken, and where there were so many taverns to take in the weary and sometimes discouraged emigrants (there being thirty two of them in thirty one miles) our teams got completely stalled and the wagons were swamped. Some of the goods were taken from the wagons and left at one of the taverns, and they floundered through with the rest and with themselves until they reached the head of the rapids. Here Matthias Moyer was taken sick at the house of his brother in law, Amarah Wilson, and we stayed there until he became able to travel. Only Jesse Moyer and Jacob Gill went back with the wagons and brought the goods which had been left behind, the distance being some twenty five or thirty miles. These goods thus brought forward were loaded upon some pirogues and sent onward to Fort Wayne, and the company of emigrants resumed their westward way to the residence of Colonel John Anderson in Wabash County. The Moyers had been well acquainted with Mr. Anderson before he left Ohio. and they were gladly welcomed by him in his new home in the Eel River Valley.

"To pass over the distance of thirty one miles across the Black Swamp consumed ten days and the whole journey consumed from May 4 to July 25, 1835. After arriving at Colonel Anderson's the teams. with two of the men, returned to Fort Wayne for the goods which had been conveyed from the head of the rapids of the Maumee to that place."

MEMBERS OF THE FIRST COLONY

The outcome of the migration was that Matthias Moyer settled in Miami County not far from Niconza meeting house, and Jesse Moyer, his brother, located with his family near Squirrel Creek in the northeastern part of section 23. Matthias Lukens was a distant relative of the latter. Abraham Lukens, his father, having married a cousin of Jesse Moyer's. The elder Mr. Lukens came to the locality with his family in 1837. but it was Matthias who became the owner of the large tracts of land south and east of the lake which bears his name.

SAMUEL THURSTON AND FAMILY

In August, 1835, the month after Jesse Moyer located just north of what was afterward. Shiloh Church, Samuel Thurston, wife and two young sons, reached the Wabash Valley from Delaware County, Ohio, in company with a family of neighbors. They had come through in an ox wagon in the usual way. Mr. Thurston had made no prospecting trip, and knew neither the country nor its people. His first intention had been to settle at Wabash, but he did not like the prospects there and so pushed on toward the north, thinking to find his way to Turkey Prairie. As they camped on the banks of Silver Creek, at an old Indian stopping place, the country seemed so pleasant that the wife said "This is a fine place for a homelet's stop here." And so they did, Mr. Thurston entering an "eighty" in section 7, three miles west of Laketon. This tract became the family homestead, where five other children were born and where both parents died the father in 1847 and the mother in 1861. Mr. Thurston was a faithful Methodist and a popular citizen and as his house was near the center of the township, it was long a favorite gathering place for those concerned both in religious and political matters. He was the second permanent settler in Pleasant Township and a good, useful pioneer, his wife and children also honoring the family name.

THE FIRST ELECTION AT THURSTON 'S

The first election in Pleasant Township was ordered to be held on the second Saturday in July, 1836, at the house of Samuel Thurston, to elect a justice of the peace. Soon afterward the county commissioners appointed the following officers: Samuel Thurston, constable; John Ferree and Jesse Moyer, overseers of the poor; Cornelius Ferree. inspector of elections; Richard Adams and James Larew, fence viewers.

According to this account of the first election, told by an old settler, there were but five legal voters present: 'In the fall of 1836 the importance of the presidential election about to take place so impressed the minds of the few settlers that they met and organized Pleasant Township, in order to secure the privilege of holding an election within their own limits. The voting was done at the house of Samuel Thurston, and there were but five legal voters present, those being all on hand who had been in the State a year - just enough to form their board and no more. Their names were: Jesse Moyer, John Anderson, Joe Dennis, John Ferree and Jacob Gill. There were three Whigs and two Democrats; but as the Democrats did not know the names of their electors, only three ballots were cast, and two of the five legal voters, the judges of election, carried the returns to Wabash."

THE FIRST CHURCH

The first regularly organized church in Pleasant Township seems to have been organized by the German Baptists, their meeting house being about three miles northeast of Laketon in the northeast corner of section 2. That locality is some two miles west of North Manchester, from which place the bulk of the membership was drawn. The society, which was formed in 1836, was called the North Manchester Church, and for a long time its meetings were held in dwellings and barns; the larger gatherings took place in the latter. Among the early members who threw open their houses and barns were Joseph Harter, Eli Harter, Israel Harter, Adam Ohmart, Isaac Ullery, Jacob Metzgar, Daniel Cripe, Daniel Swank, Henry Heeter and Nicholas Frantz. The meeting house was built about 1858. This society became very strong, and in the early '80s was split into two congregations, the separatists building a church on the line between Pleasant and Chester townships.

ROBERT SCHULER BUYS THE MOYER PLACE

In 1837 Robert Schuler, with his wife and family, came from Pennsylvania and while going up the valley of Squirrel Creek met Jesse Moyer and his family in their cabin north of that stream. The location pleased them so well that they bought the place and at once occupied it. At that time, Daniel Schuler, the eldest son of the family, was in his twenty first year.

Nine years afterward (in 1846) Mr. Schuler married Miss Mary A. Sowers, and they became the parents of ten children. By a second marriage Mr. Schuler had three children. For thirty five years he was a ruling elder in the Shiloh Church. Considering all, the Schuler family is as well known as any in the township.

FOUNDING OF THE SHILOH CHURCH

Shiloh Presbyterian Church was one of the first religious organizations to be perfected in the township. It was founded on October 25, 1840, at the house of Robert Schuler, in the northeast quarter of section 23 just north of Squirrel Creek. The officiating clergyman was Rev. Asa Johnson, of Peru, and the first members of the society were Robert and Elizabeth Schuler, John and Matthew Miller, A. D. Seward, Hannah Johnson and Jacob Rantz. Robert Schuler, who was considered the founder of the Shiloh Church, was ordained an elder in March, 1841, and died in 1848. James Jack, who was chosen in 1843, passed away the same year. His son, Rev. Andrew D. Jack, served Shiloh Church for two terms The congregation at one time reached a membership of about one hundred.

THE GAMBLES AND EARLY METHODISM

The pioneer Methodists largely centered their activities around the Gamble family and their farm in sections 19 and 30, northwestern part of the township. Thomas Gamble, his wife and several children located in section 19 during the year 1838, coming from Kosciusko County, Indiana. The father died after about ten years' residence in Pleasant Township, the widowed mother surviving him at least thirty five years. The Gamble estate was a large one, and for many years the widow retained nearly two hundred acres of it, lying in the southwestern part of section 19 and the northwestern quarter of section 30.

When the family first came to the original claim in section 19 during the month of March 1838, a snow storm covered the ground to a depth of a foot, and while the older members were building a cabin, the younger ones lay under a brush heap. At that time there was only one house between their cabin and Warsaw, fourteen miles north, and Mr. Gamble had to go to Elkhart Prairie, some forty miles, for breadstuffs until they could raise some grain. As he was obliged to go with a yoke of oxen, the family were in serious straits before he returned. But that was the expected in pioneer life. Toward the south, it was three or four miles to Samuel Thurston's and farther yet to Mr. Luken's.

But within the next two or three years a number of settlers located in the northern and northwestern portions of the township and Rev. Ansel Beach, the Methodist missionary, commenced to preach in the little schoolhouse several miles south. Protracted meetings were also held in Mr. Gamble's barn, as well as several camp meetings in the vicinity, at "Tucker's Camp Ground." Finally, about 1842, the Methodists of the neighborhood erected a hewed log meeting house, which stood about half a mile east of the Gamble farm, at the cross roads where sections 19, 20, 29 and 30 meet. The Tucker Camp Ground was some distance southwest.

The old log meeting house of the Pleasant M. E. Church stood until 1874, when a small frame building was erected for the holding of religious services. Mrs. Thomas Gamble continued steadfast in the support of its activities until her death at a venerable age, and her children and grandchildren have followed in her footsteps.

LAKETON PLATTED

On September 8, 1836, Laketon was platted by Hugh Hanna, Isaac Thomas and J. D. Cassatt. This was the first town laid out away from the Wabash River, and it was the ambition of its proprietors to make it a rival of North Manchester as a trading center in the Eel River Valley. There were ninety lots lying near the river on the north side, and the streets were Pottawatomie, Spring, Main, Mill and Tamarack, north and south, and Eel, Wabash, Lake and Wayne east and west. Additions were afterward made by S. P. Petrie and I. R. Mendenhall.

The site of the old Laketon is a level and beautiful tract, with Round Lake at the west and Long Lake at the northwest. A mile west, on Silver Creek, James Cox established a grist mill, or corn cracker, about the time the town was platted. William Johnson and Ira Burr were the first merchants of the place, and within a few years a blacksmith shop was built and several dwellings appeared, while along in the '80s it had a number of stores, a schoolhouse (District No. 12), and a newspaper. The last named, the Laketon Herald, was established in 1883 by Charles A. Richards, then a veteran printer who had been "at the case" for over sixty years.

Soon after the completion of the Detroit, Eel River & Illinois Railroad, in 1873, Daniel Van Buskirk laid out South Laketon, south of the river, as an addition to the original town, a mile to the north. In 1874 Mr. Van Buskirk established a large general store, and in the same year Philip & Thomas Ijam set a sawmill in operation. Not long afterward they gave their family name to the postoffice established at the new addition, which was long known as Ijamsville or South Laketon and is now designated by the former name.

LAKETON AND IJMSVILLE JOINED

Mr. Van Buskirk, however, continued to be perhaps the strongest moving force at South Laketon, operating at times a sawmill, a blacksmith shop and a tile factory. Among the other early industries was the brickyard of F. H. Williamson, established in 1880, and the shingle factory of George W. Harter, started in 1881. For many years the Ohmart family has been a strong factor in the progress of Laketon - Abram. Jacob and J. E. Ohmart, the last named being a present day resident of the place. In 1883 the Chicago & Atlantic Railroad was completed through Pleasant Township, running between Ijamsville and Laketon.

LAKETON OF THE PRESENT

But Laketon, as a whole, is still but a rural town. It has a flour mill, a depot of the Standard Oil Works, a bank, three general stores, a hardware store, two drug stores and perhaps half a dozen other business houses. The villagers are accommodated by a good union school, housed in a large two story and basement building erected in 1897. The superintendent of schools is E. E. Roby and principal, Aaron Miller. and they are assisted by six teachers in the Laketon school and two at the Ijamsville building.

THE STATE BANK

The Laketon State Bank was organized August 31, 1912. It has a capital stock of $25,000; deposits of over $69,000; loans, $75,000 and cash and money in other banks, $14,775. The bank owns its own building at the corner of Lake and Main streets, and its officers are: Jacob Miller. president; Quincy A. Earl, vice president, and George F. Ogden; cashier.

THE CHURCHES

The United Brethren Church at Laketon is one of the oldest in the township. Preaching and worship by this body of Christians began about 1853, the clergyman officiating being Reverend Mr. Heischer. The meetings were at first held in a vacant store house, kindly offered for the purpose. Among the earliest members of the society were David \Varner and wife, Jacob Warner and wife. William Sholty and wife and Jacob Lautzenhizer and wife. Rev. John Frantz held a series of revivals in the earlier period of the church's history which materially added to its membership and influence. The first house of worship specially dedicated to Divine services was completed by the United Brethren in 1857 and dedicated by Rev. Jacob Rinehart. The building still stands, and is used by the township as a public hall. The trustees of the church during the erection of that building were William Sholty, David Warner and Levi Miller. The present church edifice was completed in 1904, and is a brick structure erected under the trusteeship of H. E. Wyland, V. W. Fites, M. T. Sholty, Daniel Wertenberger and J. E. Thomas. Among the pastors who have served this church may be mentioned Revs. Ambrose Penland, Presley Wells, S. W. Wells, Noah Surface, D. M. B. Patton, J. Morrison, Z. W. Webster, J. N. Martin, William Simons, A. M. Cummins, J. A. Farmer, J. M. Baker, R. J. Parrett, J. S. Miller, G. Z. Mattox, J. E. Grimes, D. Robinson, T. A. Stangle, C. A. Sickafoose, I. S. Cleaver, J. W. Bonnell, J. A. Kek, J A. Farmer, Noah McCoy, S. M. Hill, N. E. Tillman. C. J. Miner and J. N. Martin (the present incumbent).

The Wesleyan Methodist Church at Laketon was founded in 1897, and a house of worship was erected in 1903. The society has a membership of forty five and is under the pastorate of Rev. H. G. Brown.

NEW HARRISBURG

The two old postoffices of New Harrisburg and Rose Hill should be briefly mentioned. The former, which fifteen or twenty years ago was called a "village," lay among the hills of Pleasant Township, mostly in the southwest quarter of section 35, and wandered over into Miami County. George Gearhart had laid it out as early as April, 1856. William Carpenter built a small frame dwelling and a store on the Wabash County side in 1858, and within the next quarter of a century there are records in the history of New Harrisburg of the establishment of three more stores, a blacksmith and a wagon shop, several physicians and some mills In 1876 the postoffice at Niconza, Miami County, three miles south, was moved to the village, and in April, 1883, the Chicago & Atlantic Railroad just grazed its southern edge and allowed it the privilege of a depot. At that time it had a Methodist church (built in 1873), about twenty five dwellings and perhaps a hundred people. This was the high tide of its life.

ROSE HILL

Rose Hill, the postoffice on the north line of Pleasant Township, was established when the Cincinnati, Wabash & Michigan Railroad was built through the township and the county, in 1872. As it is about six miles from Laketon, eight miles from New Harrisburg and five miles from North Manchester, its location was considered good for a growing center of trade. But all such calculations and predictions went for naught.

RAILROADS AND TOWNS

The general status of the railroads which traverse Pleasant Township, as well as their relation to the towns within its limits, in 1884, is thus described by a local authority of those times: "The Detroit, Eel River & Illinois Railroad was projected about 1854, and considerable work was done upon the route, but at that time it proved a failure Many years afterward the project was renewed, and this time the enterprise was accomplished, being completed in 1871. It enters Pleasant Township in section 21, passes through sections 22, 15, 14, 11, 12 and 1, town 29, range 6. Its track is in the valley of Eel River, and upon the south side of the stream. South Laketon (Ijamsville P. O.) is the only village upon its route in this township. The length of tracks of this railroad in Pleasant is five miles, running in a direction nearly from northeast to southwest. its course through Paw Paw and Pleasant being in a straight line for eight miles from a point southwest of Roann to about half a mile east of Ijamsville, and in a slightly varying course two miles more straight to the east line of Pleasant, passing thence into Chester Township and to North Manchester.

"This railway is now combined in the system called the Wabash, or more fully, the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific."

The Cincinnati, Wabash & Michigan Railroad passed from south to north, through Wabash and North Manchester, where it deflected to the northwest and cut through the northeast corner of Pleasant Township, which it left at Rose Hill, which was never more than a postoffice and a by station.

The 1884 account continues: "The Chicago & Atlantic Railroad is a late enterprise, only completed in April, 1883. It passes through the township in a northwesterly direction, crossing the Eel River Railroad about half a mile east of South Laketon, passing between Laketon and Ijamsville about half a mile from each place and spanning Eel River itself near the latter. It crosses Silver Creek upon a high and extensive trestlework, and the track leaves the township near and south of the little town of New Harrisburg upon section 35, having entered it on section 13. The length in the township is about nine miles, crossing as it does its entire extent from east to west. This new road is of great advantage to Pleasant Township, since it passes near all three of its towns, offering the direct means of increase and development of traffic to them all, and thus to the township at large.

"The route promises, in fact, to be an important thoroughfare between the East and West, possibly the most so of any road in the county. It will be of considerable advantage, especially to the towns of Laketon and New Harrisburg, which before its advent were floundering helplessly and hopelessly in their distance from railroad facilities, and will in like manner be of great service to the country dwellers in their respective regions."


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