Want to buy some LaPorte property? Did they have a deal for you in 1832


Available transportation mattered as much in the 1800s as it does now. Here's a stagecoach that traveled between LaPorte and Valparaiso from the 1840s to 1870. The coach carried nine people crowded inside, and 10 outside on top. The trip from LaPorte to Westville took about two hours. Photo courtesy of LaPorte County Historical Society (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

   Making real estate sound as enticing as possible is nothing new. In October 1832, LaPorteans A.P. Andrefernw Jr. and Walter Wilson, the proprietors of some lots in the town of LaPorte, advertised the sale of those lots.

   The area for sale, published information stated, “is situated in the center of LaPorte County, on the Door Prairie, which is acknowledged by all who have seen it to be one of the most healthful, fertile and beautiful prairies in the world.” Of course, the lakes were emphasized in the description: “The lakes can be easily connected, and will comprise 18 to 20 miles of navigation.”

   To get folks to respond quickly, the ad stated that “the surrounding country is settling very rapidly and will admit of a more dense population than any other county in the state, and every thing that the merchant or mechanic can ask to induce him to emigrate here, is here to be realized. Already an extensive settlement of wealthy Farmers and others are coming into the county daily.”

   As additional incentives, “materials for building can be easily procured; the best clay for brick immediately in the neighborhood can be had as experience has proven; timber is abundant immediately adjoining, and in the vicinity.”

   Established businesses and services available to the prospective buyers were also noted: “a Steam Saw-mill now in operation within half a mile of the town and two grist-mills and a saw-mill in progress in the vicinity, and will be in operation this fall and winter.”

   As always, available routes of transportation mattered: “The National Road from Detroit to Chicago is laid out within three-fourths of a mile and will no doubt pass through town, on which there is a line of stages from Detroit to Niles, and will in all probability be continued next season on through this place to Chicago. The great Michigan Road from the Ohio River to Lake Michigan, which is now in rapid progress and will soon be completed, passes about four miles north of, and terminates at Lake Michigan about twelve miles northwest of town — at the termination of which it is believed, a good harbor can be had on the lake.”

   Legalities were an important part of early life just as they are today. It was pointed out that “the town of LaPorte has recently been fixed as the seat of Justice of LaPorte County.” As an additional enticement, it was noted that the property was “about 20 or 25 miles west of the town of South Bend (the County Seat of St. Joseph County) and about the same distance from Niles, on the St. Joseph River.”

   But the best part of the sales pitch came in this descriptive paragraph: “The site is high and dry, and the scenery around I will not attempt to describe, but will remark that the person sitting on his porch with ‘Thompson’s Seasons’ in his hand, the lake clear as crystal hung with a heavy forest of trees on one side, and the extensive farms and yet uncultivated prairie interspersed with groves of timber on the other side, and could not enjoy the scene must have a soul so small that it could find more room in a tobacco seed than a frog would in Lake Michigan.”

   Now, who could turn that down?

FERN EDDY SCHULTZ is LaPorte County’s official Historian. Visit the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum, 2405 Indiana Ave., and its website, www.laportecountyhistory.org, to learn much more about LaPorte County’s history.

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