Wabash, Indiana, USA - 1914 - City of Wabash
CITY OF WABASH
The City of Wabash, the county's seat of justice and its commercial and industrial metropolis, was eighty years of age in April, 1914; still young as a city of the Ohio Valley, but substantial, cultured and beautiful, and yearly developing into a greater municipality. Its site on the Wabash River is striking from the viewpoint of picturesqueness, and favorable to the best hygienic conditions.
PICTURESQUE AND SUBSTANTIAL
The business and manufacturing districts stretch away on comparatively level ground from the river and canal, while toward both the north and the south the resident sections cover bold and healthful highlands. The rise is especially abrupt and striking north of the Wabash, which embraces the main portion of the city.
The streets of the city are broad and well kept; its residences tasteful, without being gaudy; its stores substantial and attractive in appearance, and its manufacturing plants large and expanding. Wabash as a city, with its prosperous looking citizens, has the inevitable appearance of a municipality which is not founded on a "boom," or a special class of manufactures, but has been developed normally and solidly, and has fairly distributed its profits and its prosperity among all classes of its residents.
After sixteen years of existence as a town, Wabash had a population of 964, and in 1860 these figures had been increased to 1,504. From 1870 and 1875, the growth of the city showed a high percentage - its population being 2,881 in the former year, against 4,000 in the latter. It was during this period that the old Wabash & Erie Canal was abandoned as a means of transportation and commercial exchange, a north and south railroad having been added to the city's facilities in that line. The early '70s marked the commencement of the railroad era and the growth of diversified manufactures. The banks were increasing in number and financial resources, and modern Wabash really was founded. In 1890 it had a population of 5,105; in 1900, 8,618; in 1910, 8,687.
As will be seen by reference to the chapter on transportation, this well to do community of 9,000 people has also since that period become thoroughly supplied with intimate avenues of communication With all parts of the state and nation through fine systems of interurban lines. Some of the main facts leading to this laudable development as a municipality and a commercial, industrial and financial center, are given as follows:
The Town of Wabash was laid off in the spring of 1834 by Col. Hugh Hanna. The original plat is situated on the north bank of the Wabash River, about ninety miles northeast of Indianapolis, being the site of the Treaty Grounds and Paradise Springs where the treaty with the Pottawatomies and Miamis was held in 1826, the treaty being signed on the 16th and 23d days of October of that year. This ground is now occupied by the shops of the Big Four Railroad. The streets running north and south were named after the counties lying east and west, commencing with Allen, Huntington, Wabash, Miami, Cass and Carroll. The original plat contains 233 lots, and since then ninety nine additions and subdivisions have been made to the City of Wabash. The first sale of lots was on the fourth day of May, 1834.
The first settlers in the town were George Shepherd, Col. William Steele, Allen W. Smith, Alpheus Blackman, Jacob D. Cassatt, John Smith, Zara Sutherland, Michael Duffey, Andrew Murphy, Dr. J. R. Cox, Col. Hugh Hanna, David Cassatt, Dr. Isaac Finley, Dr James Hackleman and James W. Wilson.
The first lot cleared and enclosed was 22, which was improved by Colonel Steele and Allen W. Smith. George Shepherd built the first house, which was on lot 63, and Colonel Steele built the second one on lot 22. These were built in May, 1834. Alpheus Blackman made a kiln of brick in 1834, and Doctor Finley built a small brick house in the fall of that year on lot 54, and which was located where the Spiker Block now stands. Colonel Steele and Colonel Hanna built houses of the same kiln of brick.
FIRST NATIVE WHITE CHILD
Only a few days after George Shepherd had moved into his log cabin his first child was born, being the first white child born in the original limits of the Town of Wabash. Many have been under the impression that J. Warren Hanna, son of Col. Hugh Hanna was the first white child born in the town, but on September 11, 1879, when he signed the constitution of the Old Settlers Organization, he gave the date of his birth as June 2, 1838, some four years after the town had been laid out, and with the number of families then living in the town, it is fair to suppose that there were several children born before that date.
On the 20th of May, 1835, the commissioners appointed for that purpose by the Legislature in an Act of January 22, 1835, located the county seat at Wabash.
Colonel Steele opened the first provision store and Colonel Hanna the first drygoods store. In the summer or fall of 1834 the first tavern was opened by Andrew Murphy on lot 37. From this time forward the town improved rapidly.
In early times calico sold for a shilling a yard and it took eight yards to make a dress. Merchants gave 3 cents a dozen for eggs, and as there was no shipping facilities the supply often exceeded the demand and many bushels were emptied into the canal Since these early times calico has sold as high as thirty five and forty seven cents a yard, and eggs have reached the fabulous price of from three to seven cents a piece.
FIRST TOWN CORPORATION
On the 16th day of January, 1849, Hon. Jacob D. Cassatt, then representative in the Lower House of the General Assembly, secured the passage of a bill incorporating Wabash, and at the election held on the first Monday in April of that year the following gentlemen were selected as the board of trustees for the first year: Daniel M. Cox, Tobias Beck, Allen W. Smith, Alexander Jackson and John lams. The board organized by the election of Daniel M. Cox as president, and the appointment of John L. Knight, clerk; William O. Ross, treasurer; Albert Pawling, marshal; Erastus Bingham, supervisor; and Henry B. Olin, assessor. The first allowance by this board was made to Albert Pawling "in the sum of twenty eight cents for candles and nails furnished."
The report of the first assessment, for which Mr. Olin, the assessor, was allowed $1.50, was as follows: Real estate, $43,430; improvements, $40,475; personal property, $48,470; total taxables, $141,385; total number of polls, 161; total number of dogs. 3, owned by Peter King, William Black and James D. Conner. This was all the four legged dogs scheduled.
SECOND TOWN CORPORATION
The second incorporation of the town was by an election held at the courthouse on Monday, July 24, 1854, for choice of one trustee for each of the five districts, or wards, into which the town had been divided by the commissioners. This second town corporation continued in existence until March, 1866, when it was ascertained that there was a population in the town of 2,868 persons, and an election, as provided by law, was ordered to be held on Monday, March 26. 1866. to determine whether the town should be incorporated as a city. It was so determined, and on the 9th of April, 1866, an election was held to select the officers of the incoming city government, which resulted in the choice of Joseph H. Matlock for mayor; William Bell, marshal; Fred Bouse, street commissioner; Lewis B. Davis, treasurer; and James M. Amoss, clerk.
Councilmen for the First Ward, Joseph Mackey and William Steele, Jr.; Second Ward, John D. Miles and Josiah S. Daugherty; Third Ward, Levi Rose and Archibald Kennedy. The first regular meeting of the new officers was held on Wednesday, April 11, 1866.
The following persons have been elected mayors and served the city government from the date of its organization to the present time: Joseph H. Matlock, 1866-68; Warren G. Sayre, 1868-76; Clarkson W. Weesner, 1876-78; Charles S. Parrish, 1878-82; Clarence W. Stephenson, 1882-88; Henry C. Pettit, 1888-90; Michael R. Crabill, 1890-92; Horace D. Banister, 1892-94; James E McHenry, 1894-1902; Jesse D. Williams, 1902-04; Joseph W. Murphy, 1904-10; Dr. James W. Wilson, 1910.
The old courthouse and the roof of the building near it in which were located the public offices were burned April 14, 1870. The county commissioners then bought what was known as the new Presbyterian Church, located across the street from the public square, and this was occupied as a courthouse until the present substantial and modern structure was erected in 1878-79. The first term of the Wabash Circuit Court to be held in this new building commenced in September, 1879. Hon. John U. Pettit and Hon. Lyman Walker, who succeeded him October 22, 1879, being the presiding judges.
THE CITY HALL
The municipal home of Wabash is the fine city hall at the southeast corner of Wabash and Main streets; a substantial two story structure surmounted by a tower, with the first story of stone and the second, of red brick.
The present site of the city hall was purchased under authority of an ordinance passed March 18, 1878, during the mayoralty of Clark W. Weesner. The cost was $1,400. Seven years passed before the structure was completed.
At a meeting of the city council held on the evening of Monday, April 28, 1883, plans were presented and adopted for the erection of a city building on the lot mentioned. On May 14th, the contract for its construction was awarded to F. A. Grant of Wabash; the contract price was $13,850. C. W. Stephenson was mayor at that time.
The city hall was over two years in the building, being turned over complete to the municipality on June 22, 1885. The building stands 60 to 89 feet on the ground, the first floor being mainly occupied by accommodations for the fire and police departments. On the second floor is the mayor's office, and rooms for the city clerk, treasurer, engineer, etc. To the rear of these a corridor extends across the entire floor. Beyond this is the council chamber, a conveniently arranged hall, 52 by 57 feet in dimensions.
The front of the city hall is in excellent taste, all the windows being arched with stone cappings. Ornamental stone work also surrounds the base of the Mansard roof, which is surmounted by an iron bell tower on which is a flagstaff. The words "City Hall, 1883," are displayed across the front under the roof.
THE WABASH POSTOFFICE
The postoffice, or Uncle Sam's Home in Wabash, is a handsome building, rather Grecian in its style of architecture. It was erected in 1912, at a cost of $75,453.23, and is thoroughly adapted to the purposes for which it was designed.
PROTECTION AGAINST FIRE
Soon after Wabash was organized as a city, in April, 1866, a small volunteer fire company was organized. It was composed of such a few members that there were scarcely enough to operate the tiny hand engine which had been purchased as a protection against fire. At a later date a hook and ladder company was formed and a steam. engine purchased, with sufficient hose and hosecarts for both the north and south sides of the city.
The city constructed sixteen fire cisterns, so located as to command the entire area of the several sections into which the municipal area was divided for fire purposes. Each had a capacity of from five hundred to eight hundred barrels.
The efficiency of the department was much strengthened and protection against fire made far more certain, when the city waterworks were completed in 1887. About one hundred hydrants were thus added to the means of water supply in ease of fire. This number has since been more than doubled, with a vastly increased force furnished by the new powerhouse of the waterworks.
If it were not for this fact, the fire department of Wabash City would be inadequate for the city's requirements. It must also be remembered that all the large manufactories have special provisions to guard against the damage of their properties by fire.
With the foregoing in mind, the showing made by the Wabash Fire Department may be considered with equanimity. As stated, the headquarters of the department are at the city hall, wherein are housed the steam fire engine, one hook and ladder wagon, one hose reel, one hose truck, two teams and 3,500 feet of hose. The working force consists of the chief and seven salaried members, and their territory covers the north side
The force for the south side consists of eight volunteer members, and the apparatus for that section of the city comprises one hose reel, and one ladder wagon.
FINE SYSTEM OF WATERWORKS
The construction of Wabash's fine system of waterworks was begun in September, 1886, under plans furnished by Clarence Delafield, one of the most prominent mechanical engineers in the United States. On June 19th of the following year they were completed at a cost of $130,000. Mr. Delafield supervised the construction of the works himself and in no instance was an attempt made at small economy at the expense of ultimate efficiency.
As completed, they constituted a telling illustration of the practical merits of the Holly system, combining both direct and standpipe pressure. The standpipe pressure alone was seventy pounds to the square inch, sufficient to throw water to the top of the hat factory, the highest point in the city. When to this was added the direct pressure obtainable, the citizens of Wabash felt that adequate protection against fire was assured.
The pumping station was located about a mile from the courthouse on the Wabash and La Fontaine turnpike, the supply of water being drawn from a series of flowing wells situated in a broad ravine about half a mile from the powerhouse. The artesian wells then in operation averaged about fifty feet in depth, those of much deeper bore having been sunk within comparatively recent years. The standpipe into which the water is forced from the pumping station is 100 feet high and has a capacity of 360,000 gallons. It is kept filled to within ten feet of the top.
As the water flows through iron tubing and empties into underground reservoirs, it is guaranteed to be both cold and pure. This no doubt accounts for the low death rate among the children of Wabash of school age. This conservation of the public health is further attained by the erection of numerous drinking fountains in the business districts of the city. Consequently, the water supply system of the City of Wabash performs the two important public duties of protecting both the lives and property of its people.
Wabash has one of the best systems of waterworks of any city of its size in the country. The old works, situated near the present paper mill, were completed in June, 1887, and served the public for more than a dozen years. The old system, at the height of its usefulness embraced about ten miles of pipes and 100 fire hydrants.
CHANGES IN MANAGEMENT
The original waterworks system was operated by S. R. Bullock & Company, of New York, until 1900. It was then sold to the First National Bank of New York, which, at the same time, bought out the old Wabash Electric Light Company. On January 1, 1901, the interests of the two were combined under the name of the Wabash Water and Light Company. At that time was built the new waterworks powerhouse south of the river, at the Big Four Bridge, and in 1904 the new management rebuilt and completely modernized the electric plant. The First National Bank of New York continued as owner and manager of the local water and electric service until November, 1912, when the United Service Company of Scranton, Pennsylvania, assumed control.
The system now embraces thirty two miles of mains and 245 hydrants. The plant has a pumping capacity of 2,000,000 gallons daily, the supply coming from fourteen artesian wells varying in depth from forty five to eight hundred ninety feet. The water goes to more than one thousand residences, and virtually to every factory in the city with the exception of the great paper mills which have their own system of artesian wells. The city water is pumped to an underground reservoir and is then distributed to consumers, never seeing daylight or microbes until it is tapped in house or factory. It is examined four times a year by the state board of health, and has always passed unquestioned muster.
LIGHTING BY ELECTRICITY
Most of the streets and stores and many of the factories and residences of the city are lighted by electricity. The electric plant also furnished about two thousand horsepower to factories and other establishments. Since 1901, T. W. McNamee, who was formerly identified with the old Wabash Electric Light Company, has been secretary, treasurer and active manager of the Wabash Water and Light Company. His predecessor was W. S. Still, who was the local superintendent of the system from its establishment until the year named.
PIONEER IN MODERN STREET LIGHTING
In the matter of street lighting by electricity, Wabash made a record which brought the city into cosmopolitan notice. It was the first municipality to test, adopt and put into successful operation the Brush system of electric lighting.
During the winter of 1879-80 the city council began to canvass various methods in vogue for the lighting of public thoroughfares. While thus engaged the promoters of the Brush Light offered a public test to prove the superiority of their illuminating agent. Finally March 31, 1880, was fixed upon as the day of trial.
At the appointed time, 8 o'clock P. M., in the presence of a large number of representatives of the press from different sections of the state, with other visitors, citizens and city officials, the grand test was made. One who was present, and a close, accurate observer, thus describes it: "At 8'clock the ringing of the Court House bell announced that the exhibition was about to commence. Standing on the street in front of the Plain Dealer office, we hurriedly looked around to measure the general darkness as best we could. The city, to say the least, presented a gloomy, uninviting appearance, showing an abundance of room for more light. Suddenly from the towering dome of the Court House burst a flood of light which, under ordinary circumstances would have caused a shout of rejoicing from the thousands who had been crowding and jostling each other in the deep darkness of the evening No shout, however, or token of joy disturbed the deep silence which suddenly settled upon the vast crowd that had gathered thus far and near to witness the consummation of a singular enterprise in which Wabash was the first city in all this wide world to move.
"The people, almost with bated breath, stood overwhelmed with awe, as if in the presence of the supernatural. The strange, weird light, exceeded in power only by the sun yet mild as moonlight, rendered the Court House square as light as midday. While we contemplated the new wonder in modern science, we could but think how our electricians had got it on Ben Franklin. He brought down the lightning from the heavens on a kite string and bottled it, just to show, presumably, how smart he was. Brush and Edison take a steam engine, belt it to a huge electro magnetic. machine, manufacture lightning and use it to light cities and hamlets, thus benefiting mankind and blessing posterity.
"After thus meditating and somewhat soliloquizing upon the occasional improvements made by young Americans over the ways and means that obtained in 'our grandfathers' days, we took a stroll along one of the streets to observe the efficiency of the light in the outskirts. At a distance of one square we could very distinctly read nonpareil print. At a distance of two squares we could read brevier print; at four squares, ordinary displayed advertising, such as may be seen in the display lines of an advertisement in a county newspaper. We could also readily ascertain the time of night from the watch, the hands being visible without any strain upon the eyes. When we left Wabash, we remained upon a platform of the train to note the power of the light from a greater distance. At from three to four miles we could easily distinguish the face of our watch held at a reasonable distance from the eye. Indeed, the distance at which the effects of the light are appreciable is almost incredible.
"From the flagstaff of the Court House four lamps, of the general design in use, are suspended, a plain glass globe surrounding the carbon points to protect them from snow and ice, the whole covered with a shield or roof of galvanized iron. From these lamps the spectator will notice two ordinary telegraph size copper wires leading down over the roof and down the west side of the building to the basement, where stands the Brush Dynamo Electric Machine that generates the current of electricity that flows through the wires to the carbons, between which it flashes with the brilliancy of lightning. The leaping of this current from one carbon pencil to the other produces the light, and the space thus made brilliant is termed the voltaic arc. This dynamo machine occupies a space of four feet in length and two in width and will last for years. It is practically indestructible, all its wheels revolving in the air. It requires no chemicals, and generates the most powerful electricity.
"The cost of the Brush Light machinery complete, exclusive of the engine, is $1,800. If two additional lamps were desired, there would be an additional cost of $120. If the city purchased the engine, $600 more would be required. Total cost, $2,550. The cost per night (ten hours) per lamp, outside the expense of fuel and engine tender, is estimated at 15 cents. It is believed that the entire expense for light, including fuel, engine driver and carbon points, would not exceed $2.50 per night, or about $9,000 per year."
The following is a copy of the contract under which the City of Wabash tried and accepted the light: "The Common Council of the city of Wabash agree to purchase one Brush electric machine, arranged for four lights on one circuit, four Brush electric lamps, four hangers, 100 feet of copper wire No. 8. This order is given with the understanding that when properly operated, according to instructions, it will give four good, powerful, lights, and will work in a practical manner. It is guaranteed by said company that these four lights will light an area one mile in diameter sufficiently to enable people to get around at the farthest point, and that nearer the court house will increase in brilliancy as the distance is decreased. At the farthest point above indicated, it is by said company guaranteed that the light will be as great as that of a gas burner of usual street size at 100 feet distance, and will be equal to the light of a street lamp 100 feet away at any given point, within said distance of 2,640 feet from the light "
Public tests and continued use of the Brush apparatus satisfied the city, and the system was not abandoned for several years, or until the expansion of the business district made it necessary to more evenly distribute the illumination of the city streets.
THE NATURAL GAS ERA
The completion of the first waterworks marked the virtual beginning of what may be called the natural gas era, which flourished locally about a dozen years. The cheapness of the supply, before its exhaustion from its widespread use, had the effect of stimulating the industries of the city and of retarding all efforts to generally introduce manufactured gas.
In 1887 the Howe Natural Gas Company of Indiana commenced active operations in the gas belt south of Wabash County, and a few years afterward their interests were taken over by the Logansport & Wabash Valley Gas Company. The field headquarters of the system were located seventeen miles southwest of Wabash, with the natural gas plants located at Somerset, Herbst and Mier, Grant County.
The company named controlled sixteen sections, or 10,240 acres of land, which, with the exception of a small strip in Jackson Township, Miami County, was included in the townships of Richland, Sims, Franklin and Pleasant, Grant County. At the field headquarters mentioned was a substantial station house, a telephone exchange, and all the necessary appliances for regulating the gas pressure and making repairs along the line. The office in Wabash was in telephonic communication with these headquarters, thus enabling the company, with the assistance of its portable telephone service, to locate and repair any break within a few minutes after it had been reported. Thus Wabash received fully as good service as Marion, Anderson, Kokomo and other places which were located in the natural gas field.
In the early period of the natural gas era the local plant was operated by the Wabash Fuel Company, its interests being purchased by the Logansport & Wabash Valley Gas Company, also known as the Dietrich syndicate. The low rates heretofore extended to local factories were maintained, and the field supply was increased by at least fifty per cent as a result of the consolidation. At the same time the Dietrich syndicate purchased the artificial gas works, G. S. Courtier being retained as superintendent. The other local officers of the consolidated company were Clarence Henley, manager, and M. S. Howe, superintendent.
When the Logansport & Wabash Valley gas people came into control of the Wabash plant they greatly improved its physical equipment, replacing its old regulator with a modern one and building six additional reducing stations. It was this company which induced the great Diamond Paper Mill to locate at Wabash, a contract being made by which the gas company agreed to furnish the mill with any required supply at a nominal price. At the time Mr. Barber, of Diamond match fame, was connected with the paper mill enterprise, and he estimated that if the mill were required to use coal as fuel the annual cost of the same would reach $50,000. Under its contract with the paper mill the Logansport Wabash Valley Gas Company received but $5,600 for the gas it annually furnished that plant, or $44,000 less than the coal fuel bill of the paper mill would have been.
THE NATURAL GAS SYSTEM
Although the natural gas supply is now a thing of the past, it had its good day. The system upon which Wabash depended embraced twenty two miles of main line seventeen miles of 8 inch pipe and five miles of 6 inch pipe, as well as a 4 inch belt line encircling the company's thirty wells. Add to the miles of mains, the ten or twelve miles required to supply gas to the farming communities, and the consumers of Wabash and Grant counties were furnished with a finely equipped system comprising about thirty five miles of piping. As long as the supply held out, there was no better company in Indiana than the Logansport & Wabash Valley.
With the collapse of the natural gas supply in the early 1900's, the interests of artificial gas revived. Since then the Northern Indiana Gas Company has obtained control of the local plant. A modern holder was commenced in the winter of 1905-06, with a capacity of 100,000 cubic feet, and householders began to get their manufactured supply in May, 1906. Some 1,800 consumers now use this means of illumination and heat, so that, with electrical appliances and all, Wabash has her wants in such fields well supplied, despite the retreat of natural gas to parts unknown.
FIRST SCHOOLS IN TOWN
And speaking of illumination, one is reminded of intellectual enlightenment - of the splendid public school system of Wabash City. As in all new communities, private effort preceded public organization in the young Town of Wabash. For the first two or three years after its platting by Hugh Hanna its people were too busy taking care of the county seat, buying and selling town lots, erecting the county buildings, organizing the courts and otherwise getting things ready for newcomers, to think much of schools for their children. But with the influx of permanent settlers, the schools had to come just as certainly as the churches, and other evidences of up to date civilization.
In the winter of 1836-37 Ira. Burr started the procession of little log schoolhouses by providing for a class of eighteen or twenty children in a building previously used as a storehouse by William S Edsall, situated on lot 26, original plat of the town.
Then followed schools taught in the spring or summer of 1837 by Sarah Blackman, and in the following fall and winter by Emma Swift.
In the fall and winter of 1838-39 a school was taught by Mrs. Daniel Richardson in what afterward became known as the Pat Duffey building on the north side of Market Street east of Wabash. This building is described as a house built of large logs, which had previously been used for school purposes and as a public house and a courtroom, and may have been one of Colonel Burr's buildings.
SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 ORGANIZED
Several other attempts were made by the good men and women of the raw little town to establish private schools, but in the winter of 1839-40 the citizens of the locality decided to organize for public education. Thus at that time was founded School District No. 1 of Congressional Township No. 27 north, range 6 east, in Noble Township, and citizens awarded a contract to erect a building for public educational purposes to Joseph Ray. Under his hands, in the spring of 1840, a little frame schoolhouse arose on the north part of lot No. 157, of the original plat of Wabash Town, a little south and east from the freight depot of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway.
FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS
This first public school of Wabash was taught by Miss Mary Ross, daughter of William O. Ross, one of the pioneer lawyers and leading men of the town. A few years afterward Miss Ross married a Mr. George Miller and became a resident of Peru, Indiana. Daniel Jackson, one of the associate judges of the Wabash Circuit Court, a man of some means and much influence, is said to be the power behind the building of the first public schoolhouse at Wabash.
This one public school building, with other quarters rented for the purpose by the school authorities, supplied the demand for schoolhouses in District No. 1 during the succeeding ten years or more.
On the 5th of July, 1851, the school board of the Town of Wabash, of which Dr. James Ford was probably the leading member, employed James Fulton to teach for a term of three months in the public schoolhouse, at a compensation of $100. About three weeks afterward the board employed Robert Gordon to teach a school in a house on Hill Street, situated on lot 73, old plat. The building was known as "Rev. Smith's meeting house," and Mr. Gordon received for his three months' services $90. At the same time a third and a fourth teacher were engaged - Lydia C. Hunt to teach a school in a house located on lot 1, north addition to the town, and Mrs. Martha G. Cressy, wife of Rev. Edwin W. Cressy, in a house not located in the records. The women were paid $60 per term.
The three additional schools mentioned were opened and conducted in accord with the resolutions adopted at a public meeting of voters of the district held July 11, 1851, by which it had been divided into four wards. It was further resolved that the four free schools therein should be taught for a term of three months each, and that in case of a deficiency of funds to defray their expenses for the prescribed period a tax should be levied to meet such deficiency...
BUILDING OF THE UNION SCHOOLHOUSE
Under the provisions of the state school law of 1852, the people of Wabash soon commenced to move for the erection of a union schoolhouse befitting the growing town. In May, 1855, the board of trustees passed an ordinance levying a tax of 50 cents per $100 valuation for building such a schoolhouse. But that levy and several subsequent levies were failures, financial complications ensued, and it also seemed impossible for the town board of trustees to agree upon any plan for the building of the union schoolhouse. Finally the following five trustees were appointed for school purposes, viz.: Robert Cissna, M. R. Crabill, Albert Pawling, Warden McLees and Daniel Sayre.
In the fall of 1857 the school fund was made available and plans for a union building adopted. Further, contracts were actually let. That for the brick and stone work was awarded to David Kunse and that for the carpenter work to John Wilson. The bricks for the building were made and furnished by Hezekiah Caldwell and Hugh Hanna at $5 per thousand, the former furnishing 180,000 and the latter, 100,000.
On the 18th of May, 1858, the cornerstone of the union schoolhouse was laid under the auspices of Hanna Lodge No. 61, with all the impressive ceremonials of Masonry, Thomas Jay acting as most worthy grand master and Hugh Hanna as deputy grand master. In September, 1859, was commenced the first term of the Wabash graded schools in the building thus provided. For six months W. E. Spilman was principal and superintendent. Subsequently Samuel Eastman was principal of the high school department, Mr. Spilman continuing as superintendent of the city schools. During the first year the corps of teachers consisted of two males and seven females. The union school was opened and continued on the present Miami schoolhouse lot on North Miami Street. The original cost was $11,000, but in 1873 changes were made in its construction, mainly to remedy defects in ventilation, and $6,000 added. The high school was maintained in the union building until the construction of the present one, in 1894.
WARD SCHOOLS OF THE CITY
In the meantime other ward schoolhouses had been erected - the West Ward, on West Maple Street, in 1877; the East Ward, on Walnut Street, in 1883; and the Miami school, in 1888. Following the completion of the new high school on West Hill Street, in 1894, were the building of the South Side school, on Vernon Street, in 1897, and the erection of the Century school, on Manchester Avenue, in 1900. The last named is one of the best constructed public school buildings in the city, being a massive two story structure of red brick, with high stone foundation and basement.
THE NEW HIGH SCHOOL
The ground for the new high school was broken in the fall of 1893, and the cornerstone of the building was laid by the Indiana Grand Lodge of Masons on the 11th of April, 1894. Finally, it was completed and opened to pupils on the 26th of November, of that year.
The main building consists of two stories and basement, and is of beautiful Bedford cut stone. Three handsomely carved arches, supported by four massive stone pillars, span the front entrance, the floor of which is paved with tile. The ground dimensions are 116 by 65 feet, and the main tower rises 108 feet from the surface.
The two upper stories are finished in quarter sawed white oak, the entire building is lighted by electricity and gas, all the rooms have hot and cold air connections, and in other ways every provision is made for sanitary heating, lighting and ventilation.
On the first floor are reception, class and assembly rooms. The latter is large and well ventilated and will accommodate 250 pupils. On the second floor are the library, principal's office, meeting room for the board of education and class rooms. The superintendent of schools who was originally accommodated in the high school building has convenient quarters in Memorial Hall. The physical and chemical laboratories are in the basement of the high school, being well arranged and ample. In a word, the Wabash High School is one of the city's most worthy institutions, and indicates that the welfare of the younger generations holds a large and a firm place in the consideration of the citizens of Wabash...
SOUTH WABASH ACADEMY
The South Side School. a substantial and handsome structure, two stories and basement with stone foundation and brick superstructure, is surrounded by spacious and beautiful grounds which were formerly the property of the South Wabash Academy. The old academy was established in the '60s by Prof. F. A. Wilbur, of Wabash College, as a girl's preparatory school for the institution named, which was under the general management of the Presbyterian Church. It was originally known as the Female Academy, but after some years of unsuccessful experimenting in that circumscribed field the scope of the institution was enlarged so as to include both sexes. In this form the academy was more successful, but evidently did not reach the expectations of Professor Wilbur who resigned its principalship in 1873. At that time the Presbyterian Church also ceased to be its controlling body, the institution falling into the hands of the Society of Friends. Prof. S. G. Hastings of Earlham College then assumed charge, being succeeded as principal, in 1874, by J. Tilghman Hutchens of the Spiceland Academy. The academic course aimed to give both a preparatory training for college and a practical business education and on the whole, the institution was well managed. Of course, it had its ups and downs, and eventually succumbed, as did similar academies, to the advancing excellence and breadth of the Wabash High School.
SUPERINTENDENTS OF CITY SCHOOL
As stated W. E. Spilman was the first superintendent of the public schools of Wabash. He served from 1859 to 1861; Joseph Mackey, during two terms of 1861 and 1862; Miss Hattie E. Grosvenor (afterward Mrs. Mackey), in the spring term of 1862; E. P. Cole, from 1863 to 1865; R. H. Wilkerson, 1865 to 1866; Samuel C. Miller, during a portion of 1866; R. C. Ross, earlier part of 1867; J. B. Yeagley, 1867-68; Pleasant Bond, 1869-71; J. J. Mills, 1871-73; I. F. Mills, brother of the foregoing, also during 1873; D. W. Thomas, 1873-86; Miles W. Harrison, 18861903; Adelaide S. Baylor, 1903-11; Orville C. Pratt, 1911.
ADELAIDE S. BAYLOR
None connected with the educational system of Wabash has made a higher or more enduring record than Miss Adelaide Steele Baylor, for thirty six years identified with every step in the progress of the public schools, whether of the city, county or state. During a period of fourteen years she served as principal of the Wabash High School and eight years as superintendent of the city schools, while since July, 1911, she has been the able assistant to the state superintendent of public instruction, as a lecturer and active organizer in the field. Aside from her abilities as a clear, luminous and convincing expositor of both practical and advanced theories in the field of higher education, and her inspiring work at teachers' institutes and other meetings of the profession, Miss Baylor has achieved a national reputation for the strength and profundity of her mental attainments in mathematics, philosophy, psychology and other provinces of deep investigation and learning. Officially, she is a leader in both the state and national teachers' associations.
What makes this record a special cause of pride to the home community is that Miss Baylor is a native of Wabash, her mother being of the well known Steele family of which Col. William Steele, one of the fathers of the town and the county, Was one of the most popular and highly honored citizens who ever lived within their limits. In 1878 Adelaide Steele Baylor graduated from the Wabash High School, and the same year was employed as a teacher in the city schools. In 1884 she assumed her first position in the high school as assistant to the learned and able Prof. A. M. Huycke, its principal, whom she succeeded in 1889. Her fine administration of the affairs of that institution earned her an advancement to the head of the city schools, which she assumed in 1903, being the first woman in the state to hold that position.
In the midst of her pressing and absorbing duties as high school principal and city superintendent, Miss Baylor never rested in her determination to add to her individual attainments and efficiency. In the years 1893-94 she was a student at the University of Michigan, also attending the summer sessions of 1894 and 1895. During the summer quarter of 1896 she also studied at the University of Chicago, from which she graduated in the summer of 1897. Not satisfied with this, in 1908, while superintendent of city schools, she pursued post graduate courses at both the universities of Michigan and Chicago. These numerous university courses have been supplemented by European travel, so that Miss Baylor's culture is both pleasing as well as broad and deep.
HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPALS
Following Miss Baylor, as principal of the high school, was C. W. Knouff, who succeeded her in 1903, and served until 1908. In the latter year C. H. Brady was placed at the head of its affairs, and in 1911 he was succeeded by the present incumbent, O. J. Neighbours.
WARREN BIGLER'S SERVICE TO THE SCHOOL
In here taking leave of the public schools of Wabash, it would be inexcusable to omit anything but enthusiastic mention of the services rendered to them and to the cause of higher education, by Warren Bigler, who has served as a member of the city school board since 1885 to 1903, and during a large portion of that period as its president. If any one man can be mentioned in the same class with Miss Baylor, it is Mr. Bigler, albeit force of circumstances has made it necessary for him to make the dedication of his time, means and strength to the cause of education and individual culture, somewhat auxiliary to the insistence and pressure of a business and financial life. It is needless to add for the information of those who know Mr. Bigler that he is one of the stanchest admirers of the abilities, services and character which are associated with the personality of Miss Baylor.
THE WOMEN FOUND A LIBRARY
The Carnegie Public Library of 'Wabash is an educator of wide usefulness, and everybody takes a just pride in its work. The earlier efforts to supply the public with mental food and stimulus are credited largely to the women; and that is the rule, as the histories of all similar movements will prove.
At Wabash, the initial step in the founding of a library was taken by the women's club known as the Round Table. At a called session of that organization, held on June 4, 1889, as a memorial meeting to Miss Jessie Stitt, a charter member of the club whose death had occurred about two weeks previously, a motion was made that a fund be raised to be known as a Jessie Stitt Memorial fund, and that this money should form the nucleus for a library fund.
The question of a public library had been discussed for a long time but nothing was done until the Round Table took the initiative. Immediately after this resolution was passed the meeting adjourned and at once organized and went into session as the Woman's Library Association. There were twenty four charter members of this association and each was a member of the Round Table.
Each agreed to pay 50 cents to start the fund. Later an assessment was made and the members kept up the work until $50 had been raised, when the library was announced as an assured fact.
The ladies after fixing the membership fee at $1 a year, began soliciting donations in money and books, and also solicited for new members. On January 11, 1890, the Woman's Library of Wabash was opened, the Probate Court room having been secured to be used for library purposes.
MRS. C. E. COWGILL
Mrs. C. E. Cowgill was the first and only president the association ever had, being reelected each succeeding year. In this connection it may not be out of order to say that Mrs. Cowgill deserves special mention, in any discussion of library history in Wabash. She gave liberally of her time and money, and without detracting from the credit due others, it may be said that the success of the enterprise was due in no small degree to her indefatigable energy and marked liberality.
The association started out with 300 volumes and this number was steadily increased from time to time. The services of the librarian were always donated.
The Probate Court room continued to be used for the library until 1895 when the books were removed to the high school building, the Woman's Library Association continuing in charge.
WABASH CITY LIBRARY
In 1900 the Woman's Library Association consolidated with the High School Library, the former passing out of existence, the new organization being known as the Wabash City Library with Mrs. Nelson Zeigler as librarian. The board of directors consisted of members of the school board, Mrs. C. E. Cowgill and Mrs. J. I. Robertson. Shortly after the formation of the Wabash City Library, the books and headquarters were transferred from the high school to Memorial Hall. There the public library remained until the opening of the Carnegie building in 1903.
AS A CARNEGIE PUBLIC LIBRARY
At different times during the few previous years applications had been made to Mr. Carnegie for a donation, at least a dozen letters having been written to the noted founder of libraries. On February 23, 1901, Warren Bigler, then president of the school board and ever a steadfast and influential promoter of library matters, wrote again to Mr. Carnegie, and two days later Mrs. Cowgill added her earnest plea to the steel magnate. The latter especially gave a history of the hard struggle made by the ladies for the establishment and maintenance of a library at Wabash. Although Mr. Carnegie, through his secretary, had previously intimated that he was limiting his appropriations for library purposes to cities of at least 50,000 inhabitants, he evidently capitulated before these last pleas, for about two weeks afterward Mr. Bigler received the following from James Bertram, Mr. Carnegie's secretary, dated March 6, 1901: "Dear Sir: Yours of 23d received. If the city of Wabash will furnish a site and agree to spend $2,000 a year on the support of its library, Mr. Carnegie will be glad to give $20,000 for a free library building." At this time the library had 3,300 volumes on its shelves.
The stipulations mentioned in Mr. Carnegie's letter were fully met by the Common Council of the city, and the present beautiful building was completed in February, 1903. Since the library became a Carnegie institution, its board of managers has included two members of the City Council. The first meeting under the new order was held at the residence of Cary E. Cowgill, April 25, 1901, and the following officers were elected: Charles S. Haas, president; Mrs. C. E. Cowgill, vice president: Oliver H. Bogue, secretary Miss Effie Roberts was the first librarian. At the next meeting, held on April 30th, it was resolved that the cost of the new building was to be limited to $17,000; the actual contract (awarded to John Hipskind & Son) amounted to $17,795, without heating.
The library has continuously increased in literary volume and public favor under the management of such earnest and able men and women as Mrs. Cowgill, Mr. Bigler. Mr. Haas, Mrs. James I. Robertson and Messrs. J. H. Stiggleman and C. S. Baer. Both Mr. Haas and Mrs. Cowgill have held the presidency for several terms.
The present board of managers is as follows: President, Mrs. C. E. Cowgill; vice president, C. S. Baer; secretary and treasurer, Charles S. Haas. There are some 6,000 volumes in the library, a generous and wise assortment of current magazines, and surroundings so comfortable and tasteful that there is no more profitable institution, or more restful place in Wabash than its public library. The librarian is Mary Roberts. Since 1911 traveling libraries have been installed at the South Side and Century schools. Thus those who are at an inconvenient distance from the Carnegie building can avail themselves of the library privileges. This is but one of the many features which has earned such warm commendation for the liberal scope of its work.
The city has two pretty public parks, both located north of the Wabash. Hanna Park, which is on the eastern outskirts of the municipality, is in process of improvement. The rounds of the city park toward the west are laid out to a certain extent, provided with a music pavilion and refectory, and other public conveniences. There also is the Lincoln Log Cabin, with its historic museum and pretty rest room.
The cabin is not only historic, but the adjacent ground. The depression in front of its steps was caused by incessant travel along the first road running through the site of Wabash - the old road running from Vincennes to Fort Wayne, of which this rut in front of the Lincoln Cabin was a small section. The Indians made this trail through the woods while on their travels to and from these cities. They rode horseback, single file, both men and squaws astride their ponies, and would halt at the cabin of Little Charley, which was located where the abutment of the railroad bridge now stands on the west side of Charley Creek. On their way they would also stop at Paradise Spring, afterward known as Hanna Spring. This road angled through the city as it is now located.
THE CITY PARK
The city park was formerly the grounds of the old Agricultural Society of the county, and something about the early steps leading to its establishment as a beauty spot in Wabash is thus given in a souvenir edition of the old Wabash Times, published in 1897. The story reads: "In no other city, probably, of like population can be found a public park possessing more natural loveliness, grandeur and magnificence than the One owned by the city of Wabash. The grounds comprise about thirty five acres and were formerly the property of the now defunct Wabash County Agricultural Society. The site was selected by that society many years ago when it was yet a part of the virgin forest. Its most attractive natural beauties were retained, and these have been made more pleasing of late years to the artistic eye by intermingling with them adornments of a less primitive character.
"When the old Agricultural Society went out of existence on January 23, 1889, it conveyed a portion of its grounds to the county for the location of an Orphans' Home, and a part, consisting of about ten acres it conveyed to the City of Wabash conditionally, viz: 'That the same shall be forever held and maintained by said city of Wabash as a public park, or other public purposes, and with the further condition, that the ground shall be held for the use of all county and town outdoor meetings of a lawful character fitted for such uses, until such time as the same may be laid out and set apart for a Public Park by said city, and then they shall set apart a space of one or two acres in some prominent and proper portion of said grounds in the discretion of such city, to be held and kept for such meetings and for such purpose, proper and convenient buildings, sheds, tents or amphitheater may be erected thereon, and all other ground to be kept for ornamentation and use common to Public Parks and places of resort.'
"Somewhat to the discredit of the city be it said, that for several years after it had been so generously dealt with by the old Agricultural Society, the City Government showed but a niggardly appreciation of the gift. No effort was made to further beautify the park or even preserve from desecration its natural loveliness At last, however, steps were taken looking to transforming the grounds into a City Perk which should be such in appearance as well as name. A Board of Park Commissioners was constituted, plans for the further beautifying of the park were evolved and an appropriation was made by the Common Council for the purpose of giving tangibility to these plans. The park commissioners were Messrs. Marland Gardner, Will Yarnelle and Arthur Burrell, all young men and possessing artistic tastes combined with practical sense.
"Under the administration of the present Board of Park Commissioners many attractive features have been added, among which may be mentioned electric lights, drinking fountains, comfortable seats and the finest bicycle track in the state. It is the intention of the commissioners to add to these attractions just as rapidly as the funds which may be appropriated for this purpose will admit. Among the additional improvements contemplated is a beautiful lake of sufficient dimensions for boating and skating purposes. The natural conditions of the grounds will admit this superior attraction at comparatively small cost, and when completed and other plans akin to it are carried into effect Wabash can boast of an ideal public park."
The city since then has purchased about thirty acres adjoining the above tract, making in all about forty acres, and a new steel amphitheater has been erected, and macadam driveways are being constructed throughout the park, which is the principal one in the city, and is located on West Hill Street.
Hanna Park is on East Hill Street, and was donated to the city by the heirs of Col. Hugh Hanna, which gives it its name This park has been placed in an attractive condition, but as yet no buildings have been erected in it. It has been made attractive with flower beds and is a fine resting place for those who live near it.
History of Wabash County, Indiana, Clarkson W. Weesner, Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago/ New York 1914
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