Local History and Genealogy

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Three-Day Festivities Observed Here in Colorful Wedding

Three days of joyous festivities last weekend marked the celebration of a double wedding in the local camp of gypsies, which is under the leadership of Steve Zeko.  The wedding occurred at the gypsy camp at the Round-up near the Ohio state line on US 20.
Sunday morning the festivities began with Marie and Anna Johnson, two sisters, as the brides, and Robert Miller and Steve Peet, who are cousins, the bridegrooms. The Brides were dressed in billowy white gowns, floor length, with white sashes.  Each wore finger-tip length ceils with head dress of lace decorated with flowers and colorful ribbon streamers.
At noon a feast was prepared in one of the tents.  The feast commenced with the official announcement of the marriage and was followed by toasts to the tow couples.  a loaf of bread was cut in two and the soft part taken out.  Salt was put into the cavity and then it was passed around the table and each guest at the wedding placed a substantial cash wedding present inside the hollow loaf.
A pig and a quarter of beef were barbecued on a long pole spit over a fire and then placed in the center of the table.  Other parts of the dinner included bread, a gypsy salad, special native hot sauce for the meat, relish and celery.
Following the feasting and toasting to the couples, the afternoon was spent in dancing in the open field to an orchestra, secured for the occasion. Couples danced in American style with some of the younger ones "jitterbugging."  Frequently the group would gather in a native dance somewhat like the American square dance, with everyone singing and swaying to stirring gypsy airs.  All of the women of the tribe were dressed in their most colorful billowy dresses.
Visitors from outside of the group  who attended the celebration were made welcome, and were solicited for fortune telling fees.
Shortly before six in the evening the orchestra led a grand procession finally depositing each of the brides at their new homes.
The gypsy ceremonies and celebration continued for three full days during which time the brides wore their wedding dresses. Then they discard their wedding veils and place on their head scarfs which indicated that they were then married women.
Steve Zeko, head of the tribe, said that they pay taxes in Steuben County and consider this their home and are proud to be citizens of Steuben County and Indiana.  To conform to the civil ceremony customs , he said, a civil marriage ceremony will be performed after the gypsy rites have been completed. 
About 100 gypsies from the tribe of more than 100 of which Steve Zeko is the head, were presnt at the ceremony.  The brides and bridegrooms were all members of the tribe,  It was reported that a dowry of between $5,000 and $6,000 was given by the fathers of the two young bridegrooms to the father of the brides.
When one guest asked where the couples were going on their honeymoon, a wise old member of the tribes grinned and said, "Every day is a honeymoon.  Tomorrow, or next week, whenever they choose, they may go to California, Florida, or eastern cities as they desire.  The gypsy is free to go when and where he pleases, so every day is a honeymoon to him.


Monday, December 7, 2015


Crowds Will Scramble For Share In Biggest Free Prize Event

     Santa Claus will come to Angola by aeroplane Friday afternoon in one of the biggest free prize sharing events ever conceived by the merchants of Angola.  The opening of the
Christmas season here will be celebrated by the raining down from the skies of myriads of colorful "Santalites" which will contain valuable gifts for those who are on hand to pick them up.  "It sounds almost to good to be true," said Glen Maxwell, who is the chairman of the merchants division of the Angola Chamber of Commerce. which planned the big event.  "However, it is real, " continued Mr. Maxwell.  "There are no strings attached, no obligations and there will be no blanks.  There is a prize for everyone who captures one of the little messengers from Santa's plane.  It is simply a goodwill gesture on the part of the Angola merchants who are celebrating the opening of the Christmas shopping season.  It is for old and young alike and is all free," concluded Mr. Maxwell.
     In preparation for the event the streets in the business section for two blocks each way from the public square will be barred from traffic at 2:00 p.m. to give the prize seekers safe opportunity to share in the scramble.  It is for adults and young people alike, and there are no restrictions, according to the merchant group.
     Prizes vary from hair cuts to bird feeders, from ice cream to anti-freeze, from table clothes to hamburgs, and the list may be seen elsewhere in this newspaper*** -- and there many of several kinds, until the list will reach nearly 2000.  Each "Santalite" will contain a gift certificate and the finder may go to the store and claim his prize.  It will be fun and profit for everybody.
     The elaborate Christmas decorations on the public square which have always been the occasion for wide comment, will be lighted up during the evening and Christmas will be in the air all over the city.  The merchants invite everyone to come to Angola, and whether they buy or not, everyone is still invited to come and get a start for the Christmas spirit.
     Following the excitement, the stores of the city will be open Friday evenings to give people and opportunity to see what is new and desirable for the Christmas season, with suggestions for a Christmas selection. 
     Angola merchants have arranged a schedule for open evenings during the holiday season.  Beginning Monday, December 9, store will be open evenings up until Christmas Eve, December 24, and every possible accommodation and assistance is assured by the merchants to all who come to the city for holiday shopping.


 Steuben Republican - November 27, 1957

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Transcribed from the original documents in the Wilder Archival Collection located in the library.

Articles of Association
Orland Mutual Horse Thief and Felon Detective Society
Filed for record Jan. 1 1895 at 3 p.m. Misc. Record No. 10 page 241
                                                               A. F. Day Recorder - Due $1.00

Sec. 1
We the undersigned citizens of Steuben county and State of Indiana do associate ourselves together for the term of twenty years from Dec. 27th, 1894,

Sec. 2
Said association shall be known as The Orland Mutual Horse Thief and Felon Detective Society.

Sec. 3
The object of the association is the forming of a company for the purpose of detecting and apprehending horse-thieves and other felons, or offenders against the criminal laws of this State, for mutual protection against the acts of such horse-thieves and felons, and for the reclaiming of stolen property, and with the consent of the Board of Commissioners of Steuben County may designate any or all members of the association, who in pursuit and arrest of horse-thieves and other offenders against the criminal laws of this State, shall have all the powers of Constables.   

Sec. 4
In order that we may receive the benefit of an act of the Legislature passed Dec. 27th, 1865, we do subscribe to the above Articles of Association and adopt a Constitution and By-laws to govern said association.

State of Indiana County of Steuben, SS:
E. A. Wilder being first duly sworn upon his oath says:
That he is a member of the Orland Mutual Horse Thief and Felon Detective Society, which is located in Orland, Steuben County, Indiana; that all of the signatures which re attached to this Articles of Association which are herewith filed are genuine according to the best of his knowledge and belief.
E. A. Wilder
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 27th day of December 1894
Milo Thompson,
Justice of the Peace

 Name of Members                                                            Residence

Chester D. Salisbury                                                          Orland, Ind.
Orrin Brown
William Barber
Ira D. Merrill
E. A. Wilder
Milo Thompson
I. A. Lyle
D C Squires
B.F. Barber
S. N. Alcott
J G Parker
Charles L. Alcott
JJ Wilkinson
Alonzo A. Smith
O.T. Kimball

Roll of Members of the Orland Mutual Horse Thief and Felon Detective Society, organized Dec. 27, 1894.      (Click on names to make larger)

From the Steuben Republican Jan 30, 1895

The Board of Commissioners Saturday on the recommendation of the Orland Mutual Horse Thief and Felon Detective Association, appointed special constables as follows: Chester Salisbury, Orrin Brown, Wm Barber, Ira Merrill, E. A. Wilder, Milo Thompson, I. A. Lyke, D. C. Squire, B.F. Barber, F. H. Alcott, J. G. Parker, Charles Alcott, J. J. Wilkinson, Alonzo A. Smith and O.T. Kimball.  Lawbreakers would do well to steer clear of Orland and vicinity hereafter.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Family History

Following is a short history of the Zabst family, read recently at the family reunion.
 John Zabst was the second child of John and Margaret Lance Zabst, and was born in Germany, March 24, 1817.  When but 14 years of age, he and his sister came to America.  He earned a living by driving a horse on a canal running between Massillon and Cleveland.  The following year, his parents cane to America and with them settled on a farm in Crawford County, Ohio, working at whatever he could find to do. 

John Zabst
Catherine Weaver was the fifth child of Frederick and Mary Magdelena Bermela (Beiramela) Weaver, and was born at Eaton, Germany, Oct.23, 1823.  When ten years old she with her brothers and sisters and widowed mother came to America and settled on a farm in Richland County, Ohio, working out to help support the family.

Over 60 years have passed since the subjects of this sketch were united in marriage at the home of her mother.  The began their life together in a little log house situated in a deep forest in Crawford County, Ohio.  They lived here four years, then sold their farm and with their two children, George and Amanda, and what household goods that were of a necessity, started out, driving overland in a large covered wagon in search of a more favorable location, having no idea as to how far, where or what their destination might, getting nights lodging at private houses and doing their cooking along the road.  The end of ten days found them at Angola.  The trip was made without mishaps or incidents
Catherine Weaver Zabst
except once, near Toledo, they got stuck in the mus and had to pry the wagon with fence rails. They had a little colt following the team and in passing through Swanton, Ohio, where were a number of horses and the colt got lost among them and staid behind while the rest journeyed slowly onward, they not missing it until some five miles out.  Grandma waited by the roadside, while Grandfather retraced his steps to find the colt.  Commencing housekeeping anew in a little log cabin, they cleared and settled what is now known as the old Zabst homestead, three miles southeast of Angola, there being at that time  only ten acres of cleared ground.  Spinning and rocking the cradle with one foot at that time was a very familiar scene in this household for now more children had come to live here, Magdalena, Margaret, Sarah, Cassie and John.  Grandfather had to haul his produce many miles, going to Hillsdale or Waterloo, taking from two to three days to make a trip, leaving Grandma alone with the little children. The whip-poor-wills would call and hoot owls screech, making things more weird and Grandma more timid.  The deer were plenty and often came up close to the cabin.  Working hard together, they managed in the fourth year to build a good barn, and in the eighth year they moved out of the old house into a new,  Willie and Frank now prattle at their mother's feet.  From two hearts that beat as one we have reached the fourth generation.

Steuben Republican November 11, 1903

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Steuben Civil War History and Monument

Jesse H. Carpenter's war history of Steuben county will be on sale in a few days.  It is dedicated to the "mothers and wives of the veteran; the memory thereof to the sons, daughters and kins of veterans."  The book is to be sold at $2 per copy, and after paying necessary expenses of canvassers and advertising, two-thirds of the proceeds will be set aside to purchase a soldiers' monument.  The following gentlemen have been selected as a monument committee to examine specification and designs  and receive money from canvassers: S. A. Powers, Oscar Rakestraw, Eugene Carver, W. E. Kimsey, A. J. Snyder and A. Somerlott.  We trust every citizen of the county will take a special interest in this matter.

A proposition has been made to erect upon the circle in the public square of Angola, a monument to the memory of those who fell in deference of their country, its flag and its government in the late war.  The purpose is a most worthy one, and should appeal to every patriotic heart.  Ingratitude is the basest of crimes," it said.  Those now on the stage of American life, enjoying all the honors and blessings of a preserved Union.

Steuben Republican July 3, 1889

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


By Harriet Collins Saxton

Barton Collins and Annah Chaffee were married in 1820 and lived in Rutland County, Vermont.  They were blessed with eleven children, making just a baker's dozen in the family, thirteen.

In June 1835, when I was four years old, father caught the Western fever and nothing but trying the experiment would do for him.  There were nine children, the youngest being a baby, six months old. We gave up a comfortable home and started in a covered wagon to make a home in what was then the far West.  The wagon was drawn by two horses, their names were Dick and Nig.  It took some little time to prepare for the this journey, for we all had to have an outfit for traveling which consisted of a calico dress and sunbonnet.  I forgot to say that Grandfather Collins came with us as far as Buffalo.  He was old and childless,  our noise, singing, and laughter disturbed him terribly and we were not sorry, I can tell you, when he made up his mind to return to Vermont.

Well, on we went up hill and down, hungry and tired.  When we arrived in Buffalo, where we took the boat to cross Lake Erie, the lake was rough.  The waves rolled high and some of us were pretty sick.  I remember how we were put to bed in berths one above another.  Some were crying, some seasick, and I guess all were homesick, so we did not get much sleep.  I remember of walking on the pier.  This was built out over the water and we stepped very light for fear we would fall through the into the water.

We landed in Detroit.  Father got us some crackers and cheese.  Nothing ever tasted so good for we were very hungry.  I have never eaten any crackers since that tasted as those did to me.

We all got aboard the wagon again and went on our way rejoicing.  I do not remember very much that happened only that we were very tired and hungry.  When night came we would generally stop at a house and Mother would get supper for us all, then make up beds on the floor.  We did not sleep very much, for it was very warm.

After journeying on for many days, we came to the promised land.  Father bought a section of land of the Government in Jamestown Twp., Steuben County, Indiana.  It was a dense forest, no roads, only Indian trails.  The next thing was to clear a place large enough to build a cabin.  This took some time but finally it was completed except the windows and doors.  Not having any lumber, had to go back to Detroit to get some and the rest of our goods.  There was one thing about our cabin which was strictly up to date, we had natural wood finish inside and out,but it was not quarter sawed  While busy building, one of the horses wandered off.  Father searched the woods far and near and when he finally located it in a bog, it had nearly been eaten up by wolves.  He bought a team of oxen and hitched the remaining horse ahead of them.  This is what they called a "spike" team.

In this way he went to Detroit after the goods, windows and doors.  This took two weeks.  Just think of the courage and nerve Mother must have had to stay alone with nine small children, nothing but blankets at the doors and windows.  The nearest neighbors were six and seven miles away.  The woods was full of Indians and wolves.  The wolves would come at night, bark and howl, and their eyes looked like balls of fire. 

Then the Indians would come in the daytime. Father had been gone only three of four hours when a great Indian came stalking in.  I tell you it made all of us tremble.  Father had a fine rifle, of course that caught his eye.  He took it down, drew it up and took aim.  Mother thought, of course, that he was going to shoot her.  He wanted to know when "Smoke" man would be home.  Mother told him, as best as she could by counting her fingers.  When father got home the Indian came and traded rifles with him.

Now we had some doors and windows.  The doors and casings were made out of the boxes that the goods were packed in.  The door had a wooden latch with a sting which hung out except at night when we pulled it in to lock the door.  You see it was burglar proof.  Anyway we felt perfectly safe. We did not have any tramps in those days, for it was all we could do to get enough to eat ourselves.  Had to go   to Ft. Wayne to the mill, about forty miles through the wilderness, had plenty of meat as the woods were full of deer and all kinds of wild game; plenty of berries in their season, and wild flowers of every description; so you see nature provided in a measure for us until we could get enough ground cleared to raise grain and vegetables and get some fruit trees to growing.

As the older children were girls, they helped to do what they could until the boys were old enough to help.  Mother would  get homesick and discouraged at times, especially when we all be sick at once and could hardly wait on one another.

As time sped on we all grew to be men and women.  Of course the girls had to have a "best fellow" then the same as they do now, only they did not have any parlor to entertain them in.  They used to hang up blankets to make a cozy room especially in the winter time.  A big cracking fire in the fireplace added to the comfort and cheer as well as the "cricket" swinging on the hearth and the old car sitting in the corner waiting for a mouse to peep out so she could have an evening meal.

We had our joys and sorrows but were a a happy family nevertheless.  Always had a family gathering either at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Our mince pies were made of pumpkin sauce and cranberries, the spareribs were hung by a cord before the fireplace, first one side and then the other turned to the fire until it was brown as you please, and other good things too numerous to mention.  Oh, how hungry we would get and how good everything tasted and all seemed so happy.  Such was the pioneer's life, way out west upon the farm.

Taken from "The Collins Genealogy" and read at the 1904 Collins Family Reunion
Located in the Genealogy and Local History Archives - Carnegie Public Library of Steuben County