Local History and Genealogy

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

Friday, March 28, 2014


Prizewinning Home

The above picture of Judge S. A. Powers' residence in the west part of Angola as it appeared last fall in a picture taken by George W. Kemery.  As mentioned in the Republican last week. the picture was published in the Ladies Home Journal of Philadelphia and received third place as a vine-clad cottage, in a collection obtained from publishers from various towns throughout the states of the union.  The vines that is so beautiful has been grown by Mr. Powers for several years and has, in addition to its foliage, a very small flower and red berried.  It is an annual and grows rapidly, and is clean and has a neat trailing growth.  The first and second prizes were won on residences in New York city and High Park, Illinois.

Steuben Republican July 5, 1899

Librarians Note:  Judge Powers house was located where the Elmhurst building is on W.  Maumee Street.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Dr. Lewis E. Carver

Dr. Lewis  E. Carver died at his home in Angola, Ind., March 21, 1890 at 10:30 p.m., aged 83 years and 9 months.  He was born June 22, 1806, in Hebron, Tolland County Conn., and was the son of David T. Carver and Shirley (Tarbox) Carver, who were farmers by occupation and natives also of Hebron.  They were descendents of English ancestors, who came to this country about 1740.

Doctor Carver enjoyed in boyhood and youth the advantages of common and select schools which he attended winters, assisting his father at farm and other work until the remainder of the year until the age of twenty, when he ceased to attend school.  Having acquired a good English education, he engaged in teaching during the winter terms for four years.  In 1828 when in his twenty-second year, he began reading medicine under the instruction of Dr. John S. Peters, of Hebron, with whom he remained for about one year, supporting himself in his studies by teaching.  After leaving Dr. Peters office he was for two years with Dr. O. C. White, and afterward began the practice of medicine, being at the same time connected with a drugstore and continuing until the fall of 1844, when he removed to Indiana, locating near Orland, in Steuben county.  The following winter he taught school at Jackson Prairie and in the spring of 1845 resumed the practice of hid profession at that place, continuing until 1849, when having been elected county treasurer, he closed his business and removed to Angola.  At the expiration of his term of office, in company with Thomas B. Morse, he purchased a sawmill and embarked in the manufacture of lumber until 1855, when he sold out his interest, having been elected county recorder in which office he served for eight years, the last four years being as deputy, after which he engaged in the drug business; for the first two years as manager and clerk for Doctors Howard and Rice, when he bought the stock in trade and continued on his own account until 1865, when he associated with himself  his son Orville as a partner under the firm name of L.E. Carver & Son, which continued until he sold his interest to his son Orville.  In 1873, Doctor Carver began the erection of a substantial brick building on the corner of the public square.  After the completion of the building in 1874, he retired from active labor, living a quiet, peaceful life to the time of his death.  When in active professional life he occupied a distinguished position among the physicians of this county.  In surgery, although the opportunities were limited, he was usually successful, but his practice was principally in medicine, in which he won distinction.  His labors extended over a large extent of country and he endured all the hardships and privations formerly encountered by the pioneer physician.  While in activie business he made for himself many warm friends and a reputation among his fellos much more than local.  In all pursuits of life, professionally, socially and in business, he always commanded the respect and confidence of all.  In religious matters he believed that honor integrity and kindness make a good faith of themselves.

He was married September 6, 1840 to Miss Francis A. Porter, of Hebron, Conn., a lady of more that ordinary ability and worth, who after having shared the joys and sorrows of life with him for nearly fifty years is now left with her five surviving children to cherish the memory of one who has lived a long and useful life.

Steuben Republican  March 26, 1890

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Orlenzo S. Light

The subject of this sketch was born in Allegany county, New York, April 9, 1842, and died at his home in Scott township, Steuben county, Indiana, Jan. 30, 1918, aged 75 years, 9 months, and 21 days.

When a small boy he came to Steuben county, where he grew to manhood, and in answer to his county's call, enlisted in the Union Army and was mustered into service on August 2, 1862, in the 74th Indiana Regiment, Co. H, and served until the close of the war, taking part in the battles at Chickamauga, The Wilderness, Missionary Ridge and in Sherman's march to the sea.

Mr Light was known by his comrades as a good soldier and won and held their respect to a large degree.  He was mustered out June, 9, 1865, he was joined in marriage with Selena Button, and to this union were born six children, three of whom had preceded their father in death.  Mr Light was always interested in the welfare of his fellowmen and ready to lend a helping hand where needed, and his honesty was never questioned by anyone.  Jovial in disposition, he was always looking on the bright side of life, and never complained.  He was a hard worker and an excellent provider for his family.

In the fall of 1916 he made the good confession and obeyed his Master in baptism, and later united with the North Scott Christian church and found great comfort in the promises of the Gospel.  

He leaves to mourn their loss his wife and three children, Mrs. Mary Myers and Mrs. Addie Sowles, of Scott township; and William Light, of Pike Lake, Mich., and many other relatives and friends.

Services were held on February 2, conducted by his pastor, Elder D. C. Ford.

Steuben Republican February 13, 1918

Mr. Light is buried at South Scott Cemetery per Steuben County Cemetery book.

Taken from the book "War Record of Steuben County, Indiana" by Jesse H. Carpenter
 Our company casualties were fortunately light. Robert Warren was wounded and once Orlenzo Light dropped as though killed, but on examination we found a bullet had passed through eight folds of his blanket and stopped at the ninth and last. It was a narrow escape with life, but many close chances occur in war."

Monday, February 24, 2014


Fire about four o'clock yesterday afternoon came near destroying the old Eagle House, one of the oldest landmarks in Angola.  The fire originated in a room occupied by Councilman Frank Bassett as a storage room for hay and straw in connection with his feed store in the same building.  The blaze was first discovered by Mrs. Bassett in its incipiency, and in a few minutes smoke enough belched forth to make people think the whole block was on fire.  The firemen were soon on hand and quenched the flames in fine shape.  The building is owned and occupied by Miss Louisa Orten, who is in very poor health..  She was carried from her cot to the Hotel Hendry across the street and placed in a chair in the office room where she sat and watched the fire laddies save the old landmark, with more coolness than a girl girl of sweet sixteen.  Had the fire occurred at night, the entire building along with Watson's restaurant and the J.A.J. Sowle saloon building would probably have gone up in smoke, as they are all old wooden structures and as dry as punk.  The corner room of the old hotel building is occupied by John Walker, the cobbler and Timothy Gay, the tailor, both of whom kept cool and saved their "last goose."  Mr Bassett estimates his loss at $50.00.  It is claimed that a little 5 year old boy was playing with matches and started the fire, as he was seen to run away from the building a few moments prior to the discovery of the blaze. 

Steuben Republican October 23, 1901

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Destructive Fire

On last Monday night occurred on of the moat destructive fires that ever befallen this place.  The property destroyed will, we are assured, not fall short of eight or nine thousand dollars.  The Eureka building and the greater portion of all the property contained in it was entirely consumed.  (Located where former First National Bank Building and Masonic Building is on the southeast corner of the square)  The fire originated in that part of the building occupied by Wm. Roades as a grocery and saloon, and when discovered the inside of the room was a bed of coals, the flames darting out of the windows and siding above the door.  Any attempt to stay the progress of the devouring element being useless, the citizens went to work with a will to clear the building of its contents.  A large amount of furniture was saved, but a still larger amount was destroyed.  Fortunately there was little or no air stirring, or the loss would necessarily have been much greater.Even with the air so still it was only through the united efforts of the citizens that the Dry Goods store of Hendry and Merriman, the Angola House, and Woodhull and Croxton's Law Office was saved.  The last named building sustained considerable damage.  The Drug Store of L. E. Carver, and Harness Shop of Israel Kemery were stripped of their contents, and the archives of the county removed from the County Offices, but through the superhuman efforts of the citizens the further progress of the fire was arrested at Woodhull and Croxton's office and the danger in that direction averted.

The loss sustained by the destruction of the Eureka is estimated about as follows : L.A. Russel & Co, proprietors of the building, loss $6,000, insured for $2,000 ; Myron Hord, Billiard Saloon in same building, loss $1,200, insured for $500 ; Jacob Stealy, Marble Shop in same building, loss $200, no insurance ; William Rhoades, Grocery Store, in same building, loss $1,200, insured for $600.

It is not known how the fire originated, but it is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary, as there is evidence to confirm this belief. 

Steuben Republican July 12, 1866

Monday, January 13, 2014



Death Probably Caused by Injury Sustained a Few Weeks Ago
Was Prominent Mason

    Dr. Thomas J. Creel was suddenly stricken while in the reception room at his office this morning just before eight o'clock, and died within a half hour.  The news came as a severe blow to his many friends about the city where he had lived the most of his life.  For several months Dr. and Mrs. Creel had taken on their residence in the rooms just over the office, and he had gone down stairs and started the fire, not yet having eaten his breakfast.  Just as he was about to return upstairs he was stricken, and Mrs. Creel hastened to his side, and seeing the serious nature of the attack summoned Dr.
    Dr. Creel was born near Parkersburg, W. VA., in a prominent family and was 56 years of age.  He attended Tri-State College and later at Rush Medical College and entered into practice in the office of Dr. T. F. Wood, and had been a prominent practitioner for 30 years, and was local surgeon for the New York Central Railroad.  He was a thirty-third degree Mason, that honor having been conferred upon him at the September meeting in New York City.  He also was a member of all the Masonic bodies in Angola and the Scottish Rite Masons and Shrine at Fort Wayne.  He was also a past Grand Patron the the Eastern Stars of this state. He served as mayor of the city for a term and his administration will ever be remembered for its excellent accomplishments. He has also been active head of the Steuben County Chapter of the Red Cross for several years, and has been active in many other ways for the good of the city and community.  He was a member of several social clubs, including the Rotary club and his death is keenly felt by the entire community he served so well.  President E. D. Long in college chapel this morning said that no man in Angola was a better friend of the students of Tri-State than Dr. Creel.  Besides his widow he leaves a son Donald, and a daughter, Mrs. Joyce Eastburn , of Indianapolis, besides several members of his parental family.

Humphreys, who also directed that more assistance be sent for.  Mrs. Creel then phoned to her brother, A. C. Wood, to hasten to the office with her father, Dr T. F. Wood, and Dr. Sutherland was also summoned but it was readily seen that Dr. Creel was beyond assistance.  Death was probably caused by thrombus at the heart, which was occasioned by an injury to a vein in the leg, which was sustained by Fr. Creel when he jumped from a wagon at the Wood farm east of the city before Thanksgiving, and from which injury he had been confined to his home until the last few days. It is also quite probable that the exercise which he has taken in the last few days about the streets contributed to the circulation of the blood clot.  Dr. Creel was almost entirely conscious to the moment of his death, and seemed to fully realize his condition.  In appealing to Dr. Humphreys that something he done for him he asked if the trouble was not thrombosis, indicating that he realized the gravity of the situation.  Hypodermics were given but apparently had not taken effect at the time of his death.  He apparently suffered no pain other than the suffocation attendant upon such heart attacks.