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The Jack Wickline story

The Jack Wickline story

John "Jack" Wickline was born in 1889 near Pittsburgh, Pa. In the early 1900s, Wickline moved to LaPorte County along the Kankakee River.

September 05, 2014 12:00 am
Guide for the novice Kankakee River hunter

Guide for the novice Kankakee River hunter

Major Samuel L. McFadin was a prolific writer about the Kankakee River. Much of the source material I have comes from his pen.

August 22, 2014 12:00 am
The mighty steam engine

The mighty steam engine

In my last column I told you the story of the first steamboats on the Kankakee built by Del Kellogg and Sol Gordon. In this column I will tell you the tale of the rest of the life of the mighty steam engine that drove the second steamboat.

August 08, 2014 12:00 am
Steamboats on the Kankakee River

Steamboats on the Kankakee River

Most early Kankakee River settlers trapped, hunted, farmed and logged. All of these activities required a means to get their product to market. The river met most of those needs. The problem was that the Kankakee was a rather slow and cantankerous waterway. Steamboats solved this predicament.

July 25, 2014 12:00 am
Baum's Bridge Park

Baum's Bridge Park

The Baum's Bridge area in south Porter County has had continuous occupation for more than 11,000 years. In early times, it was a Native American encampment; later it was the site of a ferry crossing where today a bridge from Jasper to Porter counties is located.

July 11, 2014 12:00 am

Tassinong, a gathering place turned ghost town

Tassinong has been identified the "oldest gathering place for humans in Porter County" by Vidette-Messenger reporter A. J. Bowser in a piece he wrote in 1934.

June 27, 2014 12:00 am
J. Wesley Johnson and the Kankakee Marsh

J. Wesley Johnson and the Kankakee Marsh

Many types of men with various backgrounds and aspirations were drawn to the Kankakee Marsh. Some were honest and upright and some were a bit unsavory.

May 30, 2014 12:00 am
Jasper Rangers ruled Kankakee Marsh

Jasper Rangers ruled Kankakee Marsh

The Kankakee Marsh was justifiably reputed as a lawless land. Many an unsavory character plied his criminal trade along the Kankakee and justice was scarce. In response to this threat a group of men came together and formed a vigilante group named the Jasper Rangers.

May 16, 2014 9:30 am
Learning about river towns

Learning about river towns

I find the evolution of river towns a fascinating subject. Baum's Bridge in south Porter County is an exceptional example of the birth and life of such a town.

May 02, 2014 12:00 am
All about the Collier family

All about the Collier family

Baum's Bridge in south Porter County is a spot steeped in history. The last remaining structure from the Sportsmen Era (1880-1900) at Baum's Bridge is the Collier Lodge.

April 18, 2014 12:00 am
Faunal archaeology

Faunal archaeology

As the last Ice Age receded about 14,000 years ago, people began moving into the Kankakee Marsh. These early people were drawn to this "Everglades of the North" because of its abundance of wildlife and other natural resources.

April 04, 2014 12:00 am
McFadin meets Killbuck and LaBonta

McFadin meets Killbuck and LaBonta

In previous columns I have told of Major S. L. McFadin's accounts of Kankakee River legends Killbuck, LaBonta and Mingo. In this column I will tell of how McFadin met them.

March 21, 2014 12:00 am
Meet Mingo of the Northwest Indiana legend

Meet Mingo of the Northwest Indiana legend

Surprisingly, I find few accounts of individual Indians of the Kankakee River Valley. Mingo is the exception.

March 07, 2014 12:00 am
Labonta saves his sweetheart

Labonta saves his sweetheart

I last left you with Kankakee River legends Killbuck and LaBonta hunting and trapping in the Rocky Mountains. LaBonta is on the run from the Memphis constables after the killing of his rival in a duel over his sweetheart, Mary Brand.

February 21, 2014 12:00 am
LaBonta was Kankakee River pioneer

LaBonta was Kankakee River pioneer

Another early Kankakee River pioneer was LaBonta. Despite all that has been written about him, I have not discovered his first name. Maj. Samuel L. McFadin wrote, "He was a splendid specimen of a man 6 feet tall and straight as an Indian and about 40 years old and of French extraction. His f…

February 07, 2014 12:00 am
The tale of Killbuck

The tale of Killbuck

I find very few accounts of early Kankakee River pioneers. That is not the case for Killbuck and LaBonta. Major McFadin wrote: "I will now tell you how Old Killbuck and LaBonta, two old hunters and trappers, left the Rocky Mountains nearly fifty years ago, and came to trap and hunt on the Ka…

January 24, 2014 12:00 am
'Pioneer Hunters of the Kankakee' traces marsh's history

'Pioneer Hunters of the Kankakee' traces marsh's history

"Pioneer Hunters of the Kankakee" by J. Lorenzo Werich is considered by many as a must-read book about the Kankakee Marsh.

January 10, 2014 12:00 am
Fur trappers important back in the day

Fur trappers important back in the day

A very important figure in Kankakee River history was the fur trapper. From earliest times up until today fur trapping of the Kankakee Marsh has been an active pursuit.

December 27, 2013 8:30 am
The Hall family history

The Hall family history

The Hall family story is one of the more interesting Kankakee River tales. Edward Hall was born in Ireland in 1812. He immigrated to Canada with his wife, Ann Maxwell, where they lived for two years and then on to Indiana in 1836. Major McFadin was a close friend of Edward Hall's and wrote t…

November 29, 2013 12:00 am
Champion of the Kankakee River

Champion of the Kankakee River

Among the numerous champions of the Kankakee River I would place Major Samuel L McFadin in the top tier.

November 15, 2013 12:00 am
Alfred H. Meyer was Kankakee River restoration advocate

Alfred H. Meyer was Kankakee River restoration advocate

I consider professor Alfred H. Meyer the most learned and influential Kankakee Marsh Restoration advocate.

November 01, 2013 12:00 am
Kankakee River restoration efforts

Kankakee River restoration efforts

In my last column I wrote about the apparent lack of action to avert the draining of the Kankakee Marsh in 1918. Today I will discuss restoration efforts proposed after the Kankakee was ditched.

October 18, 2013 12:00 am
At least one group opposed Kankakee River dredging

At least one group opposed Kankakee River dredging

One question I am frequently asked is: Why weren't there objections made to prevent the channelization of the Kankakee River? I've wondered the same thing.

October 04, 2013 12:00 am
Rowley Morehouse a Kankakee River legend

Rowley Morehouse a Kankakee River legend

One of my first columns was about the Rowley and Bertha Morehouse 50th anniversary in 1937. Rowley was arguably one of the most knowledgeable and legendary characters of the old Kankakee River. Rowley was born in 1859 in Michigan. Around 1882 he moved to Jasper County. Eventually, Morehouse …

September 20, 2013 12:00 am
'Fisherman' with club and spear rewarded for charity

'Fisherman' with club and spear rewarded for charity

John G Benkie was a Kankakee River veteran. Benkie was originally spelled Behnke. He was born in Prussia in 1857 and immigrated to the U. S. in 1867. In 1879 John married Rosetta Whitney. They had two daughters, Etta and Mae, and lived in Wanatah.

September 06, 2013 12:00 am
'Everglades of the North' worth preserving

'Everglades of the North' worth preserving

The Kankakee River is a much abused and misused tributary. This stretch of water is a mere shadow of its former majesty. The Kankakee Marsh sprang from the Wisconsin glacier meltwater 24,000 years ago. This large freshwater sea broached its banks and the resulting "Kankakee Torrent" formed w…

August 09, 2013 12:00 am Photos

Photos

Porter County's first fortification

Porter County's first fortification

Documentation is vital for historical research. Some subjects have more records than others. This column represents the later of the two, but it makes a great story.

July 26, 2013 12:00 am
Baum's Bridge Sesquicentennial celebration

Baum's Bridge Sesquicentennial celebration

KVHS board member Bob Riggs brought to my attention that this is the 150th anniversary of Baum's Bridge. Baum's Bridge has been known by many names: Indian Crossing, Potawatomi Ford, Sherwood Ferry, Eaton's Ferry, and Sawyer's Bridge are several.

July 12, 2013 12:00 am
William Cameron was Kankakee River restoration pioneer

William Cameron was Kankakee River restoration pioneer

Soon after the Kankakee River was channelized in 1918, it became obvious the action destroyed most of the Kankakee marsh's ecosystem. The Kankakee marsh was the main stopping point for waterfowl migration that followed the Mississippi Flyway route.

June 28, 2013 12:00 am
E.W. Erwin details Kankakee River adventure

E.W. Erwin details Kankakee River adventure

One of my main goals for this column is to spur people to contact me with Kankakee River stories and pictures. Recently, Gene Curtis, of Kouts, contacted me about a story written by E.W. Erwin.

June 14, 2013 12:00 am
Gathering of Old Timers at Baum's Bridge

Gathering of Old Timers at Baum's Bridge

One very important aspect of historical research is taking down the memories of old timers. I am always searching for family stories, general information and pictures of the old Kankakee River.

May 31, 2013 12:00 am
Lew Wallace: A Hoosier Renaissance Man

Lew Wallace: A Hoosier Renaissance Man

I give historical/ecological tours at the Collier Lodge site at Baum's Bridge. Most of the tours are for Valparaiso University students. I begin the tour at the Collier Lodge with the historical background of the area and then walk through the bayou to the Kankakee River for the ecology part.

May 17, 2013 12:00 am Photos

Photos

Story of Baum's Bridge begins in prehistoric times

Story of Baum's Bridge begins in prehistoric times

The Kankakee River along southern Porter County has long been known for its prehistoric and historic human activity. The spot surrounding the Collier Lodge at Baum's Bridge was especially active and has had numerous archaeological investigations.

April 19, 2013 12:00 am
Kankakee River couple's golden anniversary was a community affair

Kankakee River couple's golden anniversary was a community affair

Anniversaries are special celebrations that bind us as a family. While looking over my Kankakee River material for this column, I rediscovered the golden anniversary story of Rowley and Bertha (Lange) Morehouse.

March 08, 2013 12:00 am Photos

Photos

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