Particularly during the last couple of years I’ve put more emphasis on taking photos of old barns. I’ve often found there is a story worth telling with many of these barns. They were built as multi purpose barns and commonly housed cows, pigs and horses and sometimes chickens, turkeys or ducks. Farming has changed considerably and some of the older barns have been torn down to make way for a new, more functional pole barn. Some of the older ones have survived, though, such as this one along Beer Road just outside the town limits of Milford to the east. It sits right next to Turkey Creek. I’m not sure exactly when it was built, but I would guess early 1900s if not sooner. I do know it was part of the Slabaugh farm many years ago and ducks were raised there. There is an interesting story to tell about ducks being raised around Milford, but that would take more space than I have here. Several farms raised ducks and today Maple Leaf Farms has a strong presence in the area. If you know of another old barn worth taking a photo of contact me.
Old barn east of Milford in Kosciusko County.
A specific area on the eastern shore of Webster Lake near North Webster in Kosciusko County is known as Miller’s Landing. It includes summer cottages, a boat landing and a long pier reaching out into the shallow water. It was named after the Miller family who settled there in approximately 1856. David and Sophia Miller came to the area from Mercer County, Ohio. They had a son named Joseph David Miller who eventually owned and operated Miller’s Landing. Residents built their cottages and Joseph collected annual rent from them for the use of his property. Miller’s Landing was also operating as a campground as early as 1898. Those who came to Miller’s Landing would sometimes come by horse and buggy and parked their rig in a barn on the Miller farm. The farm stretched east from Webster Lake to the Oak Grove area. The photo shows an old barn built by Joseph in 1907, so it was likely not the original barn on the property. It is located just off County Road 950 East. Until the 1980s Miller’s Landing was also a frequent flag stop for the Dixie tourist boat. There is still a sign along CR 950E identifying the area as Miller’s Landing.
Old barn near Webster Lake.
While visiting a cousin in Ohio during the summer of 2016, I was able to visit a few historical sites. She was nice enough to take me to see a few covered bridges in southwestern Ohio. The one shown in the photo is known as Pugh’s Mill Covered Bridge in Butler County. It was built in 1868-1869 to give access to a saw and grist mill owned by James B. Pugh on Tallawanda, or Four Mile, Creek. Gradually through the years the name of the bridge changed to Black Bridge because there was another bridge upstream not far away that was white in color. The beautiful bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It was restored and rededicated in 2000. The Oxford Museum Association has stewardship of the bridge. There is a marker near the bridge with these details on it. There are very few covered bridges remaining in Indiana or Ohio or anywhere else for that matter. Most of them no longer carry vehicle traffic, though there are a few exceptions. I’m glad at least a few are still standing. They give us a very good picture of our history.
Covered bridge in Butler County, Ohio.
This may look like an abandoned, or at least little used, driveway, but there is some local history associated with it. The photo was taken from County Road 30, or Bashor Road, west of Old County Road 17 in Harrison Township, Elkhart County. This particular driveway led to what used to be a working farm. Although not shown in the photo, there is also a remnant of a grain silo still standing and which can be seen from Bashor Road when the leaves are off the trees. I was told Dallas Ganger and his family lived on the farm for a while. I’m sure others did at various times through the years. This particular Ganger family has deep roots in Elkhart County, but that’s another subject to deal with later. This property is part of the Bashor Children’s Home. They may have leased or rented the farm at one time, though I’m not sure to be honest. Usually there is a story to be told when remnants of farming are visible.
Driveway off Bashor Road in Elkhart County.
Yes, I get curious when I see an old farmhouse while driving in the countryside. There is a story to go with every building. I did a little research and found out the photo shows the old Lower farmhouse on County Road 40, east of County Road 19 in Elkhart Township, south of Goshen in Elkhart County. CR 40 was once known as the Waterford-Wakarusa Road. Daniel Lower arrived in Elkhart County in 1854 and purchased land in 1855. According to the historic structures inventory done by Indiana Landmarks for Elkhart County, this house was built in about 1870. I didn’t look close enough to see if there are any other farm related buildings on the property. I did find a newspaper article from 1897 showing a barn was destroyed by fire on this property. I’m assuming another barn was built, but I can’t say for sure. At one time when Daniel Lower owned the farm it was on both sides of CR 40 and exceeded 150 acres. Daniel died in 1904 and is buried in Violett Cemetery in Goshen. This farm remained in the family under the name of Miller, a son-in-law. I’m not sure who lives there and whether or not the land is still in the same family.
Former Lower farmhouse in Elkhart Township.
This cemetery, the County Line Lutheran Cemetery, has the look and feel of a very old and historic cemetery. It sits at the Whitley-Huntington County line near the intersection of state roads 114 and 5. It is about 6 miles south of South Whitley in Cleveland Township, Whitley County. I stopped to take photos and walk around the cemetery for a little while. There are some very old tombstones dating to the 1840s or 1850s, some of them laying down on the ground. I’ve said it before, but it’s remarkable a tombstone would survive for that long but there are several of them still standing. The cemetery gets its name from a Lutheran church that once stood by it. The church was organized in 1840 with a membership of 10, though I’m not sure if the original church was at the cemetery. I’m guessing it would have been. In later years it was removed and all that remains is part of the foundation. I was able to see the remnants of the foundation. Nearby the cemetery was a small community of Luther, originally known as Sawdust Hill. Perhaps Luther would be known as a “ghost” town today.
County Line Lutheran Cemetery in Whitley County.
One door closes, another one opens. It happens once in a while when researching history. I was trying to locate the former Murray farm on County Road 30, west of Goshen, in Elkhart County. I saw in the architectural survey of historic sites in the county done by Indiana Landmarks several years ago the Murray farm listed. On the farm is an Italianate cube house built in about 1872. As shown in the photo, it is beautiful. But when I researched the Murray name, I did not find it listed on any of several township plat maps I looked at, nor was it listed in several county directories I looked at. At least not at that address. Apparently there was a mistake made when the survey was done. But what I did find was a man Joseph Ummel came to Elkhart County in 1854 and purchased 350 acres of land, then cleared it for farming. He still owned the land in 1874, so I surmise he is the one who built the house or had it built. The farm was passed on to his wife when Joseph died in 1883, then later it was passed on to a daughter. She, in turn, passed it on to a daughter. As of 1937 it was still in the family. I’m not sure who lives there now, but obviously there is quite a bit of local history associated with this farm. Joseph Ummel was one of the early settlers in Harrison Township.
Historic house in rural Elkhart County.
I know, this is a photo of a freshly blacktopped rural road. But this particular road has some historical significance in Kosciusko County. More specifically, this is County Road 700 North east of Leesburg. Off in the distance to the right in the photo is another historic road, Harper Road. I was told 700 North was the first concrete road in the county highway system. More than one person told me this, including two farmers who have lived in the area a long time and so have their families. I would tend to trust their information. For clarification, there were probably other concrete roads before this one in the county, but those roads were either in a town or were under the jurisdiction of a township trustee. I do also recall the county highway superintendent telling me 700 North does have a layer of the older concrete underneath all the asphalt. Concrete was obviously a big step up from dirt or gravel roads. This is Christmas Eve and I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate it!
County road near Leesburg in Kosciusko County.
Remnants of Native American trails are very difficult, if not impossible, to find. Obviously the topography has changed much in close to 200 years. Fields have been plowed, housing developments built, cities and towns have grown, etc. I was with a friend in the spring of 2016 and he took me to a place south of North Webster in what is now part of the Tri-County Fish & Wildlife Area of the Department of Natural Resources. He had been told there was a remnant of a trail in that area. After walking around for a while, we came to a place where he felt confident it was likely located. But of course the land was altered significantly when DNR took possession of it several years ago. This particular spot is located along Hoss Hill Road, south of North Webster in Kosciusko County. There is a small ridge that indicates a possible trail location. Trails were often located on higher ground. Several years ago I was able to obtain a map showing Native American trails in Kosciusko County and it shows a trail heading in a northwesterly direction in this area.
Possible remnant of Native American trail near North Webster.
Our local history dates prior to the arrival of white settlers. We know Native Americans lived in the area. Several relics such as arrowheads and more have been found scattered throughout the area. We also know the Miami tribe lived near what is now Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County. Native Americans were sometimes nomadic and didn’t stay in the same place very long. They followed their food sources and lived near bodies of water. Chief Flat Belly, a very large man according to historical accounts, lived in the area near Lake Wawasee. At least at one time, his village was located in the area shown in the photo, which is the intersection of County Road 1000 North and State Road 13, south of Syracuse. This can be determined, for example, through copies of surveying notes. Surveyors were in the area in the 1830s and often made notes of what they saw, including Native American villages or encampments. Flat Belly owned a large amount of land around Lake Wawasee and led his people from 1820 to 1837. The U.S. government built him a brick house in the late 1820s in Noble County. I don’t believe it is known for sure how long Chief Flat Belly lived in the area shown in the photo.
Former location of Chief Flat Belly village in Kosciusko County.