• Margaret Rothrock

Lost Villages of Steuben County Part 1

This is a series on the villages in Steuben County that no longer exist.

Steuben (Steubenville)

The town of Steubenville was the first town or village established or platted in Steuben County, and was by far the largest and most prosperous of all the vanished towns of the county. The town was located on the Old Defiance and White Pigeon Trail, about three-quarters of a mile north of the main street of what is now Pleasant Lake, and was on the east and west sides of the present road (150 W).

Isaac Glover, who entered the land on the west side of the road and who purchased land on the east side of the road from Reuben Warnick, entry man, had the town surveyed by John Kroner, Surveyor, in October 1835, and dedicated the plat to the public November 12, 1835. The first plat consisted of of fifteen blocks of eight lots each, three of which blocks, 1,3, and 7, were marked "blank" on the plat and in the dedication, it stated that these three blocks were "set off for public use." This plat is recorded in the Deed Record Volume 2, page 130 of LaGrange County, which included Steuben County at that time.

The street furthest west was called First Street and it is shown adjacent to the mill pond on the plat. The north and south streets were marked First to Sixth Streets. There were four east and west streets named Joseph, Armstrong, Mary and Glover Streets. (Joseph and John Armstrong purchased the first lots, so evidently the two north streets were named for them, Mary Street evidently was named after Mary Glover, wife of Isaac Glover, and Glover Street for the founder).

The ford across Pigeon River, where the old road crossed, and which ford is mentioned in the written accounts of Abner Winsor and other early settlers, was located about thirty rods down the stream from the village, according

to Giles T. Abbey, who came to Steuben in the fall of 1838; this ford was the only place that Pigeon River could be crossed by team for several miles and was used for some years until a bridge could be built. (The first bridge in Steuben County was built on this old road where it crossed between Silver and Hog Back Lake).

A large number of lots were sold in this village and some forty or fifty houses were erected, some of logs, a few of brick, but mostly frame houses. Dr. Conant built a large two-story store building near the bank of Pigeon River, but the building was never used as a store for some reason.

Evidently there was quite a boom in this village in the early part of the year 1837, for the town was re-platted on March 27, 1837, by Isaac Glover, and several more blocks added with several additional streets included, and the shape of the town was changed considerably.

The future prospects of this center of civilization must have been very bright in the years 1835 and 1836 but something happened in the year 1837 that broke the spirit of the founders and inhabitants of this early metropolis, and the promoter, Isaac Glover, lost his entire property and moved away. Part II --- The County Seat Controversy In the year 1836 Thomas Gale came down the Defiance and White Pigeon trail from LaGrange county, and with four other men, established the town of Julius, six miles west of Angola. He then went on down the trail to the town of Steuben, looked the situation over, and with his partner Cornelius Gilmore, tried to form a partnership with Isaac Glover and make a real town out of Steuben. Mr Glover refused to have any business dealings whatever with Gale and Gilmore due to religious differences: Glover being a staunch member of one of the outstanding churches while Gale (and possibly Gilmore) was a Spiritualist (commonly called "Free Lover"), and this difference of opinion led to the controversy over the location of the county seat of Steuben County. The County of LaGrange was organized February 2, 1832, and included all of the present County of Steuben and the north twelve miles of what is now DeKalb County. Gale and Gilmore, failing to acquire an interest in teh thriving town of Steuben, came further north and east and decided to start an opposition town at the center of section 26, Pleasant Township, which section they entered at Fort Wayne Land Office April 4, 1836; this town they did establish June 28, 1836 as Angola. Before they risked establishing the town, however, they has to do some work behind the scenes, for the town of Steuben, being nearer the center of the unnamed territory, and having a fine start of buildings, enterprise and population, was the logical location for the county seat. In the fall elections of 1836 Thomas Gale, by skillful work, was elected State Representative for LaGrange County, and at the January session, 1837, of the State Legislature of Indiana introduced a bill to establish the County of Steuben, to include only the present area of the county, and to drop off the two south tiers of townships. The bill passed and Steuben County was organized as a separate county January 18, 1837. Angola, then being somewhere near the center of the new county was selected as the county seat. At that time the town of Angola had not been established, but had been platted, and the plat was introduced in evidence, together with a promise of a courthouse without cost to the county and a representation that there was a water power site in the east part of the village. Isaac Glover, failing to get the county seat at the town of Steubenville, read the handwriting on the wall , and sold out his interest in the town and farm lands adjoining, to Dr Alonzo P. Clark and the town quickly declined, business ceased and eventually the village vanished. Many of the buildings were moved to other parts of the county. One was moved about one-half mile east to the James Long farm and was used for a school house for many years; two buildings were moved to the south part of Pleasant Lake, and occupied as dwellings; others were torn down and moved away, while some being obstructions to farming were burned down. About all that remains to remind one of the towns is the remains of the old dam on the old course of the Pigeon River southwest of the town site; a few stones and brick from foundations that are occasionally plowed or dug up, and the old cemetery about one-half mile north of the town site where many of the first settlers in Steubenville are buried, but the graves of most of the pioneers are unmarked and unknown. Note: For my authority in stating religious differences caused the downfall of the town of Steuben (Steubenville), I have a written statement to that effect by Giles T. Abbey, father of Mrs John B. Parsell of Angola, who states that he came to the town of Steuben, then called Steubenville in the year 1838 and taught his first term of school in the schoolhouse Written by Orville Stevens for the Angola Herald January 16, 1942 and January 23, 1942


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