History of Owasco,
Carroll Co., IN
-by Orpha (Troxel) Goslee
[written in 1968; edited here for length]
[Meaning of name
"Owasco" follows this history.]
of Owasco, Clay Township
Carroll County, Indiana
For a long time it had been my desire to write a history
of the little town of Owasco, which is so dear to my
heart in my younger days. I hesitated to do this,
thinking perhaps no one else would be interested, but
numerous friends and schoolmates have urged me to do so,
and I will endeavor to do the best I can with the
This history will not be one hundred per cent accurate
for all the older people and many of their descendants
have long gone from this earth. I am sorry now that I did
not concern myself more about historical records that
should be kept for future generations.
At the time when I could have asked elderly folks about
the origin of their town, I was not interested in
history. It was just a subject, and I thought rather a
dry one that had to be studied in order to make passing
grades. But through the years, I am constantly reminded
that we are making history every day and that it should
be preserved for posterity.
In the gathering of this material, I have used the
records found in the Recorder's Office at Delphi and from
files kept by Mrs. Faye Wise, a well known county
historian. I have also gathered material by asking older
folks who are left, and I have material from my own
memory and from what my father and my uncle told me, both
of whom were born within a mile of Owasco in the 1800s.
My thanks go to all who have so willingly helped me.
Orpha (Troxel) Goslee
Author of narrative
As far as is known, Owasco came into being in the year
1884 after the building of the Monon Railroad in 1883.
Why this little town did not grow to the size intended
for it, we do not know, for the original plot shows that
it was carefully laid out for future generations.
Also it was in the heart of a prosperous farming
community, and several of the first families went to
considerable lengths to start the town as is shown by the
records I found in the Recorder's Office in Delphi. It
reads as follows: The Town of Owasco in Carroll County,
Indiana, is situated in the Southwest corner of the
Southeast quarter and the Southeast corner of the
Southwest quarter of Section No. 3 in Twp. No. 23 North
range 2 West and except the lots adjacent to the railroad
is laid off at right angles to the line dividing section
3 & 10, lots numbered 1, 2, & 3 in block one are
fractional, the dimensions of each being shown on said
lot. Lots No. 4 and 5 in block 2 are also fractional, the
dimensions of each being shown on the plot.
The lots numbered 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 are each 60 by 120
feet. Main Street north of the section line is 30 feet.
Front and 2nd Sts. are each 60 ft. wide. Center St. is 60
ft. wide; North Alley is 20 ft. wide; Air Line Alley is
16 ft. wide; Water and South Alleys are each 12 ft. wide.
Out lot No. 1 extends back to the creek and contains
9/100 acres. Front Street and Water Alley each extend
North to low water mark on Wildcat Creek.
The undersigned proprietors of the annexed plot hereby
declare the same to be correct and be recorded in the
office of the County Recorder: Shelby Moore
Mary S. Moore
John M. Beard
State of Indiana, Carroll Co. S.S.
Before Solomon P. Winter, a Justice of the Peace in and
for said county, Shelby G. Moore and Mary S. Moore, his
wife; John M. Beard and Rachel, his wife; William Lewis
and Clara, his wife, on the 17th day of December 1884
acknowledged the execution of foregoine plot, for the
purpose specified. Signed, Solomon P. Winter, Justice of
the Peace, and recorded Dec. 18, 1884 at 2:30 o'clock
P.M. George W. Beals, Recording Clerk of the Court
The first lot purchased in what was the beginning of
Owasco was by Catherine M. Roth, lots 4 and 5 in the
original plot. The price paid by her was $120.00.
THE MONON RAILROAD
Since the railroad seems to have been the incentive for
starting the town we will begin with it.
As has been found in some records, it was said to have
been build in 1883, but Elder Jacob H. Skiles, aged 92
years, declares it was built in 1881 and that he
remembers the first train that ran over it. We can,
however, safely say it was built somewhere between the
years 1881 and 1883. Also we fine the trains coming in
from the South and going as far North as the R.R. bridge.
From there the record is not very clear. Some folks still
living today, seem to remember the bridge being built in
the year 1891 or 1892. One older resident recalls his
father telling him that trains came over the railroad as
far north as where the bridge was later built to take on
water. It is known that there was a water tank and a
pumping station just beyond where the road crossed the
railroad northwest of town. The water was pumped from the
creek, and it is said that some of the old wooden pipes,
reinforced by iron bands and treated to prevent rot, are
The pump man in my parents' time was Ben Palmer. There
might have been others, but this I cannot verify. Some
years later thisservice was discontinued and trains took
on water at Ockley.
The railroad did a thriving business for many years
through Owasco. A depot was built; passenger trains
stopped; mail was sent in and out, and much shipping in
and out was done.
Stock pens were built east of the tracks and near the
crossing which made it handy to ship stock both in and
out. Carloads of coal, implements, and even a carload or
apples were sent in during my remembering years. Later
the stock pens were removed, and shipping then consisted
of logs which were hauled in from the surrounding
territory and sent out.
Later, after the mail route was discontinued, no more
mail bags were to be seen on the mail post. Passenger
trains zipped by without stopping, but the "ole
Plug" still continued to stop twice a day for a long
time. Finally, even it ceased to run, and eventually the
depot was torn down.
Today (1968) only a few trains run through Owasco, and
none of them stop. All shipping has ceased.
STORES AND POST OFFICE
Having the railroad going through and the town plotted, a
store was needed and a post office was felt necessary.
According to the records of Mrs. Faye Wise, the first
post master was William Lewis in 1883- 1884, followed by
Mary Stettler and Frank Butz in 1887; Alvin Delong in
1888; Samuel Clauser in 1893; John Anderson in 1894, and
Jacob Cripe in 1896. After Jacob's departure from Owasco,
his brother Perry Cripe took over and for many years was
both post master and store keeper. Both of these men ran
a huckster route over the country side.
Following the moving away of the Perry Cripe family, we
find quite a few others in the store and the post office,
some of whom were -- as I recall -- Lewis Cooper, Virgil
Stinebaugh and Herby Ward, Martin Ridder, Parker and
Lane, Herman Wente, William Wiggs, and Edward Roth. Each
of these men had the post office in his store.
However, in 1903 a mail route out of Owasco was
established, and the mail was carried by Isaac Cripe. It
operated until 1917 when it was discontinued, and Mr.
Cripe moved to Rossville. He carried the mail from there
until his death just a few months short of his scheduled
To this day (1968), the mail is still brought in from
During the time of William Wiggs' store, the post office
ceased to exist. The last man to have a store was E. C.
Roth who closed out sometime during the depression years
in the 1930s
During the years I went to school, from 1901 to 1909,
that store seemed to me to be an enchanted place where
you could buy anything from a stick of candy or a piece
of bologna to a few yards of calico.
Besides the thriving business the railroad and the
general store did, there were several engaged in the
saw-milling industry. J. J. Cripe had the first saw-mill;
later, Sherman Deeds. It is on record that Jacob
Schweiger owned the first flour and grist mill just east
of town. However, he never completed the mill, and it
It is also on record that many years prior to the town's
establishment, Anthony Dehner built a dam near the
railroad bridge and sawed logs. Two blacksmith shops
existed in my time; one was operated by a John Smith (not
the Johnny Smith most of us know, but an itinerate
preacher in the white church). Later, Ben Krissley also
had a shop. I recall Oliver Roth as being the man to call
if your well was in trouble.
THE LITTLE WHITE CHURCH
Owasco had been in existence some ten or twelve years
before feeling the need for a church.
This might have been because two churches were within
walking distance: three-fourths of a mile east of town
was the German Baptist Church (closed in 1900), and one
mile southwest of town was St. John's Lutheran and
Reformed Church (closed in 1943). Also within horse and
buggy driving distance were the churches in Rossville and
In about the year 1894 or 1896, a little white church was
built on the north side of town on land donated by Isiah
Geeting. It was dedicated according to Mrs. Orpha
Hufford, who remembers being present, by a Rev. Mygrant.
It started as a United Brethren Church, but as time went
along and as more radically evangelistic ministers served
it, the church developed intoa Pilgrim Holiness Church.
The first pastor was the Rev. Mygrant. The second pastor
and probably the best known was the Rev. Johnston who was
from Huntington. He married Mae Hughes, daughter of Bill
Hughes and sister of Orth Hughes.
All history should include some human interest incidents.
Well, now, this church held a revival every year. It
would last three or four weeks. Crowds came, perhaps not
so much to hear God's word preached as to watch the
behavior of those who got "happy." I clearly
recall being present one night when one of their lady
members became "inspired" and tossed a
paper-back song book over her shoulder and narrowly
missed striking her cousin in the face.
Also I was present one night when a very embarrassing
situation occurred. It was a very cold night; there were
two stoves, and both were going full blast. The church
was nearly full, and in came two young men, one very much
the worse for drinking. They sat immediately behind one
of the stoves, and soon the heat became too much for the
drunk and he became very ill, vomiting on the floor
before his companion hurried him outside. Needless to
say, we all listened to the Gospel that night in the most
Sometimes we were made to wonder if those long protracted
meetings did too much good, for nearly every time those
meetings went beyond two weeks, trouble and differences
would arise and sometimes end in strife.
But not all was lost. I do remember a rather impressive
One year, an old couple from Indianapolis came to be the
Evangelists. They were temporarily housed in a dwelling
which I passed everyday as I walked to school. Evidently
they were paid very little or perhaps nothing for their
efforts, receiving probably donations from members. One
morning as I was on my way to school, I heard them
earnestly praying, but I could not tell for what. I
thought nothing about it until I was told the story
These old people had run out of provisions and had no
money and were praying to God for help. Well, it just so
happened that a certain farmer, noted for his
closed-fistedness, had become interested in the services
and had been attending the revival. No one ever expected
much help from this man, but God works in various ways.
The very day this old couple prayed so hard for help, God
heard and put it into the heart of this man to bring them
a load of supplies. So who are we to say those meetings
did not do much good; only God knows the answer.
The services were discontinued soon after 1910.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH
The people of the Baptist faith opened up the brick
school house, which was not used for a school after the
new one was built in 1896.
No one remembers exactly in what year this church was
started, but it must have been in the early 1900s. For a
number of years, a thriving little church kept going and
growoing so much so that when the Holiness quit having
services in the White Church, the Baptist took it over
and for several years were served by a veteran minister
by the name of McCorkle. He came from Monon on the
"Old Plug" on Sunday mornings and returned home
after early eveying services via the "Plug." He
was probably the last minister to serve, for services
were discontinued about 1919 or 1920.
The first minister to preach to the Baptist in Owasco was
the Rev. W. P. Tedford. Another preacher at the church
was the Rev. Kleckner, a well-known Baptist minister of
After preaching was discontinued in the little Whit
Church, I am told Sunday School was still conducted for
several years, but in the early 1920s everything ceased,
and the building was sold and later torn down. Since
then, Owasco has had no church services.
The first school was in the community long before the
town came into being.
My father often mentions the old school house he
attended. This school house stood just across the road
that crossed the railroad at the place where it joins
state road 421. It was called Bulla School and was built
In 1857 a frame school house was erected in the corner in
the turn of the road where the old brick building is now.
This was called the Moore School.
In 1879 it was replaced by the brick building just
mentioned, and was the first one to be called the Owasco
School. It is still standind and is in good repair, now
being used as a tool shed.
The school my generation attended was built in 1896, in
the northeast corner of town.
Unfortunately, this building was destroyed by fire nearly
in 1920. It was replaced that same year by a nice,
well-equipped modern building used for many years. After
Clay Twp., joined with the Ross Twp., Clinton Co. School
Corporatoin in 1960, it was used only a few weeks each
autumn for the children of migrant workers in the
community. Finally in 1968, it was torn down, and all
Clay Twp., pupils are transported to the Rossville
For ten years from August 23, 1931, to August 1941, a
yearly reunion was held in the William Fetterhoff grove
east of town. Many were the happy memories that were
recalled on those occasions. A big dinner, a good
program, and sports for the youngsters were enjoyed. At
first attendance was gratifying with some coming
considerable distance to honor Owasco School, but as the
years went by the crowd dwindled and interest lagged. In
1941, during the Second World War, the yearly reunion
ceased to be.
Oh! Those happy days. Where have they gone?
At the end of this history will be the names of the
teachers who taught during the years, beginning with 1869
and going until the school closed in 1960.
OWASCO ITEMS AT RANDOM
While Owasco has not grown like it should have, it still
had its exciting doings and time.
I recall many things that went on, and so could my
readers, I am sure. I remember some 4th of July
celebrations which were thrilling for me as a kid. I also
remember several times when revivals were held in the
summer time in tent-meetings. I can remember the a
combination sale or two, besides all the gatherings and
Halloween parties that were held at the school house.
In 1885, the population was 56. Today in 1968 it is 46 or
However, Owasco will be perpetuated by the fact that on
September 5, 1930, State Road 421 (or 39 as formerly
known) passed along the west edge of town, and the State
Highway Commission established the "Owasco Rest
Park," three-fourths of a mile south of town on land
the state bought from Frank Redenbacher in 1930. A
constant reminder that Owasco is on the map.
My thanks go to Orpha Fetterhoff Hufford, Elga Beard
Cripe, John Moore Beard, Herbert W. Cripe, Preston Roth,
Ruth Beard White, the Rev. J. W. Skiles, and others who
supplied me the information.
Orpha (Troxel) Goslee
TEACHERS FROM 1869 TO 1960
1869-70 Squire Stanton
1870-71 Andrew Saylor
1871-72 Henry D. Mohler
1872-73 O. A. Kirkpatrick
1873-75 Sarah E. Cripe
1875-76 O. A. Kirkpatrick
1876-77 Charles Sines
1877-78 George B. Cripe
1878-80 Joe W. Bates
1880-81 C. McMahon
1880-82 John Golden
1882-85 Levi Summe
1885-87 Will Moore
1887-89 Levi Summe
From 1889, I could find no dates for when the teachers
served. I might not have them listed in the order in
which they taught.
J.J. Hufford (taught for many years at different times)
Maud (Moore) Neher
Ella (German) Heiney
Loona (Nevin) Johnson
Ida (Cripe) Pressel
Pearl (Shedron) Burkhalter
Della (Snyder) Baker
Orpha (Fetterhoff) Hufford (taught at different times)
Cora (Cripe) Harris
Bernice (Griffith) Beard
Ethel (Hufford) Reppert (taught many years)
Maud (Ritchey) Oakes
Mary (Ritchey) Luper
Rosa (Beard) Kirkman
Florence (Clawson) Porter
Lucille (Quinn) Donahoe
Carolyn (Clauser) Chopson
Myrtle (Vanatta) Gardner
Marie (Hood) Zimmerman
W. B. Ireland
Golden (Rule) Thomas
Margaret (Goss) Kent
Edith (Myers) Chapman
Bethel Baird (taught for many years)
P. B. Hemming
There may have been others, I hope I have not missed
anyone. If so, it was not done intentionally.
[NOTE: Following the style set by the
author, married women's names appear with their maiden
names in parentheses. Most of these women married after
they taught at Owasco School, but the author learned
their married names.]
Meaning of the
Alice Marie Beard
The word "Owasco" is an Iroquois word for
"place by the floating bridge."
When John M. Beard was township trustee in Clay
Township, Carroll Co., IN, in the 1870s, there was a
one-room school house erected. As township trustee, he
was responsible for schools. The school was named
"Owasco School." It appears to be the first
that the name "Owasco" was officially used. The
school was in the area known as Owasco. It is reasonable
to assume that the area was being referred to as Owasco
before the school was named. In other words, the school
was likely called whatever the area was called.
John M. Beard had arrived in Carroll Co. with his parents
and siblings in 1835. His father first rented and then
bought property in the area now known as Pyrmont. His
mother's brother lived in the area now known as Owasco.
These two areas were on opposite sides of the Wild Cat
Creek. The creek is no little stream. At times, it's much
more like a river than a creek. When John M. Beard's
family would have visited his mother's brother's family,
they would have had to cross the Wild Cat. The standard
way of crossing a stream at the time was to keep a rope
stretched across the creek at it's most passable part,
with end of the rope secured to trees on opposite sides
of the creek. A raft could be tied to the rope and safely
moved across the water to the other side. The raft would,
in effect, be a "floating bridge."
Obviously, someone who was in that area at some time HAD
to have known the correct meaning of the Iroquois word
"Owasco." Who and how are anyone's guess.
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