Local History and Genealogy

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Prize Large Family of Steuben County

     Above is a picture of Alonzo Williams, his wife, Ella Smith Williams, and their fourteen children, of Metz,
Steuben County, Indiana.  The father is a blacksmith, and his father and grandfather followed the same trade.
Mr. Williams and his wife have raised a family that is a credit to any community, and Metz, noted for her many good qualities, has added reason to be proud.  Mr. Williams and his family are all opposed to any undue publicity, and it was after a considerable amount of coaxing that Senator Powers, president of the Old Settlers' Association, was able to procure a photograph from which the cut has been made.

From:  "Steuben Republican", August 7, 1912.

Angola Circa 1870

Property of Carnegie Public Library

                       Looking South
 "Old schoolhouse (Angola Academy), showing Snider house in the distance. Over the roof of the courthouse you see the Darling home and Brownfield home.  To the right nothing until you come to the Vandz home."

Description written on the back of photo donated to the library.

Angola Circa 1870

Property of Carnegie Public Library
SE corner Public Square:   "Old schoolhouse in the distance.   Thomas Gale and Cornelius Gilmore donated the site for the original courthouse which was a frame building.  This was replaced by the present brick building, built in 1868, in the style of Faneriel Hall in Boston."

Description written on the back of photo donated to the library.                                  

Angola circa 1870

Property of Carnegie Public Library
Looking Northeast from Courthouse  

"Showing M.E. parsonage, now Fred Richardson and A.E.Morse house in the distance.  Mr Rice home showing evergreen in front yard.  Empire Store moved from site of the IOOF bldg. and used as annex to the Eagle Hotel.  Later moved to N. Wayne St and at present (1924) occupied by Greenwood Body as a plumbing shop."

Description written on the back of photo
donated to the library.                                     

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Settlement of Angola

In 1836 Cornelius Gilmore and Thomas Gale came to what is now the town of Angola and Steuben County, which was then included under the name Lagrange county.  Mr Gale was a member of the state legislature and it was through him that Steuben county was set off and later the site of Angola located.  To secure location of the county seat on the land they had entered these two gentlemen agreed to give necessary land  for the county buildings and build a courthouse.  The land was entered by them jointly, April 4, 1836, and there came a day when it was necessary to divide their possessions,  This division was made June 28, 1838, and the town was plotted the same date.  What is now Wayne street was chosen as the division and in casting lots the east half fell to Mr Gale and west half to Mr Gilmore. It was further understood that when the county commissioners selected the site for the county buildings, which they had a right to do, the one from whose land the selection was made was to deed the other half as much land. Upon the plotting of the town Gale and Gilmore decided to name streets after themselves and their wives, hence the first street north was named Gilmore, the first to the south was Gale, to the east Martha after Gale's wife and the first street to the west was named Elizabeth after Gilmore's wife.

When Gilmore came here in 1836, he built a bark shanty at the east side of what is now known as public square and the same year on the site of the Eureka, ( southwest corner of square) he erected a tamarack building which he occupied as a residence,  Mr Gale came later the same year and began the erection of the Bee Hive that stood where Hotel Hendry is now located (SW corner of  Maumee and Elizabeth). The result of casting lots gave Mr Gale the tamarack building, so Mr Gilmore built another house just north of where is now the Christian church and Gale occupied the tamarack house with a general stock of goods consisting of articles needed by the early settlers, not the least in demand being quinine. In 1841 Mr Gale tore down the tamarack shanty and erected the west half of the building known as the Eureka, extending to the east side of the door on the north, and moved to it from the Bee Hive, this was the first frame house in Angola.

Taken from an article in the Steuben Republican June 13, 1900. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Organization Of Steuben County

The county of Lagrange was organized by an act of the General Assembly, approved Feb. 2, 1832, and " all the territory lying east of said county to the State line and south of said county and said
territory to the line between townships 33 and 34," was attached thereto for civil and judicial purposes. The county of Steuben was organized in pursuance of an act of the General Assembly, approved Jan. 18, 1837, which provided that from and after the first day of May, 1837, the county of Steuben should " enjoy all
the rights and jurisdictions which belong to separate and independent counties."

John W. Yiolet, of Elkhart County; Henry Hosteller, Sr., of  Noble County; Isaac Eaton, of St. Joseph County ; Benjamin Jones, of Lagrange County; and John Mcintosh, of Allen County, were appointed Commissioners for the purpose of locating the permanent seat of justice of said county. These commissioners were required to meet, as soon as a majority of them could agree, at the house of Cornelius Gilmore, at or near the center of said county.


The county was named in honor of Baron Frederick de Steuben, a noted soldier who served under the great King Frederick, of Prussia. He came to America during the war of the Revolution, and
tendered his services to the patriot cause. He was commissioned, and rendered efficient aid to the army by greatly improving its discipline. He was killed at the battle of Camden, S. C, in 1780.

History of Steuben County, Indiana 1885 : Inter-state Publishing Co., Chicago,
Pages 273, 274


County Seat War
 Steuben County had all of its county seat trouble before the first site was selected. The locating commissioners named in the act of January 18, 1837, were ordered to meet "at or near the center of said county on the third Monday of January, 1838," at the house of Cornelius Gilmore.00 Two sites were offered for their consideration, the present site of Angola and Steubenville. The Steubenville advocates, led by Isaac Glover and Abner Winsor, offered to donate $16,200, but their site was too far from the center of the county to receive serious consideration. The Steubenville of 1837 was not the same town as the town of that name at the present time. The first Steubenville was north of Pleasant Lake in range 13, township 36, near the line between sections 10 and 15. Angola's claims were presented by Cornelius Gilmore and Thomas Gale, and their offer to give a site for the courthouse and erect the building, was accepted. The central location has proved entirely satisfactory and no other town in the county has ever been considered as the seat of justice.

Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 10  March, 1914 No. 1
County Seats and County Seat Wars in Indiana By Ernest V. Shockley, PH.D.
Pages: 35, 36

The First Settlers Of Steuben County Indiana

The smoke from the first permanent settler's cabin first arose within the present limits of Steuben County in the spring of 1831. That settler was Gideon Langdon. His rude cabin was in the southwest quarter of Section 5, Jackson Township, afterward known as the Town farm. Langdon, on the 17th of September, in the year following, made the first entry of land recorded in the county, being the east half of the quarter named.

It was in what is now Jackson Township that the first settlers mostly located. Jackson Township contains considerable prairie land, and the first immigrants, at a time when their choice was unrestricted, naturally selected the rich, fertile soil there, because of the comparative ease with which it was brought under cultivation.

The next settlers were John and Jacob Stayner, and their families - twelve persons in all. The Stayners came from Ohio, and arrived in Jackson Township on May 16, 1831. John built on the north side of the prairie, and entered the west half of the southwest quarter of Section 5, September 27, 1832, being ten days after Langdon's entry, and the second made in the present limits of the county.The two brothers had been soldiers under Jackson in the War of 1812, and were both strong and hearty men. John Stayner lived upon the land entered by him until his death in 1870. He was sent to the Legislature, and the township in which he lived was, at his instance, named Jackson in honor of his old military chieftain.

The first white child born within the present limits of the county was Zephaniah Stayner.

The first death was that of Mrs. Gideon Langdon, in 1832. The remains were interred in the prairie burying ground.

The first marriage was contracted between James Huntsman and Hannah Davis, in 1832, before the organization of the county.

The first schoolhouse erected in the county was on the north side of Jackson Prairie. Hannah Davis, the first bride in the little community, was the first teacher. The first schoolhouse was a rude tamarack cabin, erected at a cost of about $50, by John Stayner and Adolphus Town. Eliza Eaton was the next teacher, and received $2 for each pupil, that being the tax levied on those sending their children to the school.

Andreas, Alfred T. (1876). Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Indiana, Baskin, Forster, Co., Chicago.