Local History and Genealogy

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014


The passing of the late Judge Clyde C Carlin bring to memory a group of the well known citizens and professional men of the past generation who termed themselves the "Sons of Rest" - a sort of a "Last Man's Club."  These were all prominent men and many will bee remembered by the older readers.  It is suggested that the reader pause and try to name each of these before proceeding with the article.  A good narrative could be told of each of these men.  First at the left was Thad K. Miller, who had his office in the building now known as the Bassett building.  He was a veteran of the Civil War and was a notary public and U.S. Claim Agent.  Next was Frank E. Burt, well known jeweler and optician, who then had his store next north of the Steuben Printing Co., building.  Next, somewhat blurry was Nathan E. Sickles, notary and insurance agent, and for some time township trustee and assessor.  Next was John W. McCrory, justice of the peace, whose office was in the present Steuben Printing Co. building.  Next to the right was William Brown, able and well known lawyer, in whose office Judge Carlin started to learn and practice the law.  The patriarchal looking gentleman next right was Lawrence Gates, also a Civil War veteran, and prominent Odd Fellow, who was also engaged in the insurance business.  Dr Robert Tremaine was next with his little Van Dyke beard. He was an optician also in the Steuben Printing Company building, and was also a skilled artist on the cello.  Sitting on the ground between the two chairs, Judge Carlin will be readily recognized with his forelock and well known smile.  Next was Lauren F. Smith, for many years county surveyor, and the father of Fred Smith, Angola business man.  And last to the right was Orville Goodale, associated for many years with Francis Macartney in the abstract business, acquiring this business under the name of Goodale Abstract Company on the death of his partner.  The company still doing business under that name is now owned and managed by Orville Stevens, a nephew and namesake.

Steuben Republican February 2, 1949

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Catherine Stealy Bigler

"Mother is dead"-only a brief telegram to the children, but to them it holds a world of meaning.  What memories of a life time it suddenly brings to the mind!  What joys and sorrows once shared in the old family nest, now at lasted broken up and deserted forever.  But it all must be for the best.

Catherine Stealy was born near Marion, Seneca County, Ohio, August 5, 1830 and died at her home near Fox Lake, July 27, 1909, aged 78 years, 11 months and 27 days. She moved to Pleasant township with her parents Elder John Stealy and Susannah Stealy, 74 years ago when she was only 5 years old.  Her father was one of the earliest of the pioneer settlers of Steuben county and the first resident preacher to proclaim the Gospel in this part of Indiana.  She was the last surviving member of a family of thirteen children, a younger sister, Mrs Lydia Adams, having preceded her only a few weeks.

She was married to Levi Bigler, Oct 15, 1854, who departed this life March 27, 1907.  To this union were born seven children: Jessie Franklin Bigler, of this city; Viola Lowater, who died Nov 22, 1890; Scott Bigler, of Alameda Cal.; Augusta Bigler of Angola; Mrs Viva Lewis, of Toledo, Ohio; Barton B Bigler, of Logansport, Ind; Mrs Maud Ruckman, Hillsdale, Mich.

Funeral services were held from her late home on Thursday, July 29th, at 2 o'clock p.m., Rev John Humfreys officiating.  Interment in Circle Hill cemetery, so closes a long life, seventy-five years of it being lived here in Steuben county.  It was a life that was full of pioneer toils.  Mrs. Bigler was a woman who never knew what it was to shirk her duties.  The spirit of heroism pervaded her life, even to the last and "Her children arise up and call her blessed."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Join Us If You Can

                Genealogy Roundtable

The Carnegie Public Library of Steuben County is starting a monthly Genealogy Roundtable.  Get together with your peers and work on family history. Give or get advice, suggestions and hints from others on how to knock down those bricks walls or just simply learn how to get started on your family tree. Both beginners and longtime researchers welcome.
The first meeting will be Wednesday April 23 at 2:00 PM in the Reference Department. At this time we will decide on the day and time for future meetings.  If you can't attend the first meeting let us know you are interested my emailing this blog at cplsc.loclhis@gmail.com or calling the library at 260-665-3362 EXT 28.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Quite an exciting wedding occurred at the county clerk's office yesterday.  The contracting parties were H.G. Thompson of Minneapolis, Minn., and Josephine LaCroix, of New York City.  They were evidently connected with the Rosary Company that appeared at the Croxton the evening before, and were about the city during the forenoon.  Ten minutes before time for the train south they appeared at the clerk's office, asked for a license, took an oath that the lady was a resident of Steuben county, made out required papers. Elder Stauffer, who happened to be within calling distance tied a double-bow knot in a short minute, and the badly excited couple started on the run for the depot.  The groom was ahead, and was cheered on by the voice of his new wife with the words: "Hurry, dearie; hurry dearie." Elder Stauffer promised to forward proofs of record, and the groom likewise promised to send the $2.

Steuben Republican,  January 11, 1911