<p>Places of historical significance in Steuben County, Indiana. </p>

Collins Schoolhouse – Lou Ann Homan

By on Aug 17, 2017 in Events, Family Fun, History, Holidays, Steuben County Indiana, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I check the back ribbon of my Minnie Pearl straw hat before leaving the house. I gingerly step into Kathy’s car ducking my head wondering how did women drive with these hats? (Perhaps they didn’t?) I notice we are both wearing summer cotton dresses and sandals. This is not an ordinary outing for a Sunday afternoon. No, we are headed to the Collins Schoolhouse to participate in the fifth annual Ice Cream Social. The drive is once again beautiful as we meander over country roads. We pass the schoolhouse and have to turn around. Once Bart Collins helps us find parking, I feel we have been transported to another century. Tents are set up with tables and chairs for the social. Another long table is filled with home grown and homemade cobblers of peach and berry and rhubarb followed by a tub of ice cream. Whereas we are anxious to sit in the shade and visit with folks, we are, of course, drawn into the schoolhouse itself. It is not my first visit. I used to bring my Hamilton students to the schoolhouse when June Collins was still on this earth and giving her glorious tours. We always came in the Autumn. I can remember June ringing the bell and my students, in awe, taking their seats. My wandering eyes followed the trees in the windows…tree leaves of ruby and scarlet and tangerine. It was enchanting. Once in a while I would be pulled out of my daydreaming state as June reprimanded one of my students. Now the tours are given by other members of the family. On this day is it Claudia Smith who welcomes us smiling from ear to ear. We all comment on the glorious weather and step over the threshold into 1877. It is as it was. Perfect. The books are lined up on bookshelves, lunch pails ready to be taken out to sit under the old trees, cursive writing on the board (is that still June’s handwriting?) and desks waiting for students. It is magical. It is  beautiful. It wasn’t always so. This school, along with most one room schoolhouses in America, fell into disrepair and neglect. The Collins School  was saved by the...

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Adventures Had and Memories Made – The Schiffli Family

By on Aug 7, 2017 in Events, Family Fun, History, Steuben County Indiana, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Vermont Settlement Festival I remember every year when I was little my dad would take my sister and I to the Orland Vermont Settlement Festival and this year, my dad and I took the girls for some fun! The first thing we went through was the settlement where the girls got to see animal skins, a stuffed beaver, an old time wagon and people cooking their lunches over the fire. The girls were even given homemade soap by one of the settlement men. Next we had to visit the free kid zone bounce houses! They had so much fun I had a hard time getting them out of there. We ate lunch at the park, got some homemade ice cream and Emi even got her face painted. We weren’t able to stay for the talent show or the other fun activities because it was almost nap time but we all had a great time and had lots of fun at the Orland Vermont Settlement Festival, held at the Orland Town Park. This event is held the last full weekend in July and recognizes Orland as the birthplace of Steuben County. The event is put on by the Orland Chamber of Commerce.  You can always find more information at lakes101.org or by calling...

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Our Town’s History

By on Jul 19, 2017 in History, Steuben County Indiana, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The note came in the middle of January. At first I thought it was a scam email offering me a million dollars if I were to send out my social security number and my bank routing information. The subject line was in large print: MEREDITH. Curiosity does funny things, and while I secretly wish the Duke of Any Country would find me a great recipient and care taker of money, I know better. But, one never knows. I open the email. I blink and read it twice before I realize the weight of the note, the importance of the note and how it was worth more than the million dollars offered to me by the Duke. Meredith writes that she and her mother, both from the Phoenix area, are descendants of the Hendry family and they would like to know more about them. She came across my writings of Louisa Gale Hendry through KPC. I actually sat quietly for a few moments letting this story sink in for me. It is no secret that I love my town and the history behind it. During the Angola Carnegie Library Centennial Celebration I portrayed Louisa Gale Hendry at the library. I loved researching her and learning all I could with the help of Peg Dilbone, our county historian. I wrote back immediately. We chatted through a few more emails until I got the note that she and her mother Yvonne and sister Claudia would come here to Angola to see their family history with their own eyes. I took my note up to the library and found Peg, as usual, working away. We sat knee to knee talking about this event. Peg had already made a list of all the places we should go. Even Peg’s list made my head swim a little. “We can’t possibly do all of that in two days!” I remarked to her. But Peg has an uncanny way of raising her eyebrows to adversity. I just had to smile. A few more emails, a few more months and the day has come. I want the day to be beautiful with blue skies, wispy clouds, and a cool breeze coming off of our 101 lakes. It is...

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Vermont Settlement Festival

By on Jul 19, 2017 in Events, Family Fun, History, Steuben County Indiana, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I grew up in Orland, Ind., and remember enjoying the annual Vermont Settlement Festival. Everything from eating a funnel cake with lots of powdered sugar (that mostly ended up all over my face and on my clothing), to being on a parade float and throwing candy are special memories. I remember pushing the bulls-eye on a dunk tank and watching the local grocery store owner fall into a tub of ice cold water. The annual festival is full of family fun and things to do for people of all ages and stages in life. Even as a college student who lived away from home, I always made time to come home for this annual event and often brought my friends. In my younger years friends from home paired with college friends to make a team for long-time festival favorites like the mud volleyball competition. We also enjoyed the evening activities like the live bands and action at the Draft Horse. Other times it was nice to just relax under a tree at the town park to listen to a band and eat homemade warm peach cobbler topped with ice cream. Orland isn’t a big town. Frankly, it’s something you would see in a movie like Hoosiers. Booming with industry and innovation behind the residential portions of the town, Orland has a rich history and tradition, but more than anything it has a feeling of the “good old days” when life was simpler. Nestled along the Fawn River in the northwestern portion of Steuben County, Orland is known as the birthplace of Steuben County. In 1834 early settlers originally referred to it as the “Vermont Settlement” because they were immigrants from Vermont. Town founder John Stocker had gone prospecting for his family and neighbors. Stocker chose the area because of the burr-oak trees and streams of the Fawn River. More pioneers coming from Windham County, Vermont arrived shortly thereafter and built a Baptist church. The early settlers named the town Orland after the hymn called “Orland”. Orland is recognized as the first settlement in Steuben County. Each year in late July, Orland celebrates this heritage with the Vermont Settlement Festival. This year the festival is July 29-30 and the theme...

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Apples & Beer

By on Nov 10, 2016 in Food, History, Steuben County Indiana, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Nothing goes better with autumn than apples. Last week, I wrote about Stroh’s Orchard, but this week I want to concentrate on another kind of apple. Johnny Appleseed. As many of you know his real name was John Chapman. He dedicated his life to planting nurseries throughout the upper Midwest. While legend says he sprinkled apple seeds everywhere, he actually carefully planted orchards and put up well-engineered fences to ensure quality harvests. Today that same spirit of quality lives on in Chapman’s Brewery on Industrial Drive in Angola, Indiana. The company opened its doors in 2012. Though the tasting room and brewery is new, they are quick to point out that local beer crafting is an old tradition. Just a century ago, most towns of substantial size had at least one local brewery. There are a few perks and updates to the old way of doing things. For instance, precise measuring devices and stainless steel equipment, as well as a quality supply of steady ingredients makes for richly flavored and consistently drinkable beer. It’s their hope that customers will find the beer fresh and smooth, so that they’ll always want another. They keep the menu simple with just six main beers. Valiant, is an American stout with hints of chocolate and espresso. Enlighten, my favorite, is a Kolsch ale. It’s light and crisp. Undaunted is Chapman’s IPA. It has a more hoppy spice and pine flavor. (As a disclaimer: I make soap using these three beers as base ingredients. They are incredibly popular with customers.) Englishman, their most popular variety, is a southern brown ale. It’s a traditional pub beer, malty with a sweet caramel flavor. Wry American is a red rye and one of the brewery’s newer beers. Brighten Pale Ale, is a lighter beverage with a perfect combination of malty and hoppiness. Finally there’s the Rolette Series. These are small limited release beers. The idea is that it allows the brewery to work on new flavors while getting customer feedback. Sometimes the new brew work out so well, they become regulars like Wry American—which was originally called Red Ryeding Hood. (Cute. You should have kept it.) The simple menu has worked so well, it’s allowed Chapman’s to...

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Steuben Co. Indiana Torch Relay

By on Oct 4, 2016 in Events, Family Fun, History, Steuben County Indiana, Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s Sunday October 2, 2016. So many memories come for me with Indiana’s Bicentennial. When I was 6 years old my family and I went to a special bicentennial celebration for our country. My little sister and I got to wear long dresses and bonnets just like our first settlers. I still remember watching my shadow and wishing I could wear an outfit like that every day as. My family and I walked to the big church picnic in Bloomington, Indiana—my sister and I taking short turns pushing our baby brother in his stroller before being distracted again by our shadows. At church everyone was wearing period costumes, playing games, and eating tons of great potluck. It’s a memory I’ll never forget. Little did I know, just 40 short years later I’d be helping Indiana celebrate it’s bicentennial too. Trying to explain the torch relay to my 5 year old hasn’t held the same mystique for him as the great experience I had when I was his age. “Indiana’s turning 200,” I told him. He looked at me blankly. “Why?” “Well it just is. It’s very old now and we’re holding a birthday party for it.” “Will it get presents?” I considered telling him about the gift of the new buffalo statue by the new public restrooms in downtown Angola, but answers must be kept short with ADHD 5 year olds. “No, but people are going to run with something like a big birthday candle.” He looked at me skeptically. “That does not sound safe.” I smiled. “This one time it will be all right…and there will be cake.” He brightened at that and all in all has been a very good sport in the 5 hours it took for me to shoot the torch relay. Twenty torchbearers have now escorted the flame from Trine Recreational Area to Pokagon State Park, where it circled the area in a seaplane piloted by Randy Strebig. (You see, I did find a way to work in some seaplane footage after last week’s fiasco!) A short ceremony has followed in which it was pointed out to Tourism Director June Julien that we get to celebrate another bicentennial, this time for Steuben County, in...

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