Today the road doesn’t really take you close to Goshen at all, but many, many years ago it did. Shown is a stretch of the former Huntington-Goshen Road in Whitley County, between South Whitley and Larwill. Now it is known as State Road 5. Originally it was part of one of the earliest state routes in Indiana, the Huntington-Goshen Road. As the name implies, it connected the towns of Huntington and Goshen. It passed through South Whitley on its way north to Goshen. The road was an important route allowing those from the south to come to the mills in or near Goshen. Eventually when roads were reconfigured in Indiana it was broken up into multiple roads, some of them now county roads and others state roads. Look to the left in the photo and the rise in the grade may indicate an older alignment of the road.
Levi Coffin House
I’m going to take a break this week from local history remnants to post something of statewide historical interest. During a summer vacation week, I had a chance to visit the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City, which is in Wayne County, Indiana. The photo shows a beautifully restored Federal style house originally built in 1839. I was able to take a tour inside the house and see the craftsmanship invested in an old home, as well as the hiding places for runaway slaves. The Coffin house was known as a depot on the Underground Railroad. It is said the Coffins helped more than a thousand slaves on their way to freedom in Canada. The Coffins were Quakers who were opposed to slavery. This is a story that needs to be preserved and I highly recommend a visit if you are anywhere near the area. It is considered an Indiana State Museum and rightfully so. Visit indianamuseum.org/levi_coffin for more information.
County Road 44 in Benton Township, Elkhart County, has an interesting history. The road dates back to the early days of the county when it was once known as Prickett’s Mill to Fort Wayne Road. There were mills in and around the town of Benton and it is reasonable to assume the road was originally built as a means to access those mills. The fact it connected to the Fort Wayne Road, which is essentially what U.S. 33 is now, is also significant because it would have opened up access to more people in an era when many more people lived in rural areas. County Road 44 parallels the Elkhart River in Benton Township. Roads in the early days quite often followed rivers. And for a few miles in Benton Township, the road also at one time ran parallel to the Wabash Railroad, a railroad no longer in existence. There are several older houses along the road, as well as the Lutheran Cemetery dating to the 1840s.
If you can picture an old country cemetery with tombstones dating to the Civil War years or even earlier, this would be it. Booneville Cemetery is located in Richland Township, Whitley County, at the intersection of county roads 950 West and 150 South. It is a quiet and peaceful area with the older, narrower county roads nearby and is surrounded by mostly farmland. Many years ago there was a small community nearby, known as Booneville, with a few businesses and a schoolhouse, too. On the cemetery property stood a church, too. It is no longer there, but part of the foundation remains. This particular cemetery is of personal interest to me because some of the Hathaway family is buried there. They lived in the area generations ago, but later owned the land on the edge of South Whitley where my immediate family now lives.
The former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line, now owned by CSX, came through Nappanee in Elkhart on its trek across northern Indiana and ultimately to Chicago. Nappanee had a train station and the building is still standing as shown in this photo. It is a beautiful building so typical of depots built in that era. Located just west of Main Street and south of the town square, the depot building was built in 1910. You can find an old photo through an online search of “Nappanee train station” which shows both the old depot and the new one when it was being built. The old depot was a wooden frame structure. Today the old Nappanee train depot is used by Open Door, a social services agency helping those in need in various ways.
According to an inventory of historic structures in Elkhart County published in 2005, this building was originally built in either the 1830s or 1840s. It is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of State Roads 120 and 15 in downtown Bristol. The building is of the Greek Revival architectural style. I am told there was a general store in this building at one time, though I am not for sure what it is being used for presently. Fittingly, the county history museum is only about a block away to the west on 120. Downtown Bristol has quite a few historic structures still standing.
I’ve mentioned this before on another post, but for those interested in remnants of abandoned railroad lines, the former Erie Lackawanna Railroad has plenty of remnants in both Wabash and Huntington counties. Shown is what is left of an old concrete telephone shanty in Huntington County near where the railroad once crossed Business U.S. Highway 24. The booth was located in the right of way of the Erie Lackawanna. Before the days of cell phones and other forms of communications used on trains now, section crews and train crews used the telephone booths to communicate. Apparently these concrete booths were kept locked until needed. It’s a simple reminder of how people kept in touch before cell phones, which seems so long ago now.
It’s nothing more than a hump in the ground now, but years ago it was the location of the Eel River Railroad. The photo shows a location near Calhoun Street in South Whitley where the railroad line once came through. It is also close to where the Eel River RR crossed the old Nickel Plate Railroad, still an active line and now used by Norfolk Southern to ship freight. State Road 5 is also nearby. The Eel River line was owned by different railroad corporations, including the Wabash and Pennsylvania, before being abandoned by the late 1970s. Other remnants of the Eel River can be seen in South Whitley, including a beautiful old trestle above a creek on the south edge of town.
Mock is a common last name around North Webster and Syracuse in Kosciusko County. A few live around Milford, too. This barn was built by George Mock who was part of a family that dates to the early years of the county. The barn, moved to its present location, was originally built in about 1870, if not sooner. It is need of repairs and is not used for much today except some storage. Descendants of this Mock family still own the barn. It is located off County Road 500 North, east of State Road 13 in Tippecanoe Township.
In reference to my Oct. 6 post about the former lumber yard in South Whitley, I am told Morsches Lumber used the building for a while after it was owned by the Lee family. And the town of South Whitley now uses it for storage and it is not used by EMS.