Welcome to Puddletown!

An 1892 plat of Section 9, Wills Township, LaPorte County, showing the location of Puddletown near Finger Lake. (image provided)

By Fern Eddy Schultz, La Porte County Historian

According to recorded information, a place called Puddletown was located between New Carlisle and La Porte. Puddletown was one of the earlier place names in La Porte County, being located in the southern

La Porte County Historian Fern Eddy Schultz

portion of Section 9 in Wills Township. For many years, a public school by that name served the rural students of the area. The village was along the northeastern margin of what was known as Finger Lake in an area along the southern side of Ind. 2, 3 1/2 miles east of the intersection of U.S. 20 and Old Ind. 2. There was, at one time, a sawmill located there.

Puddletown was never laid out as a village. But, according to Daniels’ La Porte County history, at an early day it may have deserved the name of a village. By 1904, the only thing remaining as an indication of the town’s existence, according to a report, was a small store kept by L.C. Vandusen who first engaged in the boot and shoe business at Puddletown in 1857. In 1872, he added a small stock of groceries; in 1876, he abandoned the shoe shop in favor of a small stock of groceries, drugs, dry goods, hardware and queensware. In 1856, Waters & Dugan started a blacksmith shop and continued in that business for about three years. During the year 1862, a post office was established with J.W. Culp as postmaster. It was discontinued after about two years. As of 1904, Daniels reported in his history that “this little country village can no longer be called a town; it was never laid out as such.”   

Benjamin Franklin Taylor (image provided)

Benjamin Franklin Taylor, one of La Porte’s early journalists, authors and lecturers, spent his childhood near Puddletown. His first work was called “Puddletown and its People.”  No copy of this publication has been located, but a number of his books are on the shelf in the Fern Eddy Schultz Research Library in the La Porte County Historical Society Museum, along with other La Porte-authored books. Taylor had several editions. Many of his letters were gathered together and published in 1872 under the title of “Pictures of Life in Camp and Field.” Much of his prose was considered “very fine.” It was noted that “although his fancy was exuberant and untrained, it was also picturesque, sympathetic and earnest.” The London Times called him the Oliver Goldsmith of America. His “Isle of Long Ago” is quoted in Chapman’s 1880 history of La Porte County and “The Old Barn” is quoted in Daniels’ 1904 La Porte County history.

Taylor was educated at Madison University, New York, where his father was president. He graduated from there in 1838. He was, for many years, the literary editor of the Chicago Evening Journal and was its war correspondent during the rebellion. His description of the Battle of Lookout Mountain was noted

Taylor’s grave in Colgate University Cemetery, Madison County, NY. (photo provided)

as being “a marvelous pen-picture of that memorable contest.” His life was a struggle, his income seldom being equal to his necessities. He briefly taught the men at the Warrenville Seminary, a private co-educational finishing school in DuPage County, IL. It attracted many students from Chicago, with as many as 200 enrolled at one time. It was closed during the Civil War.

Personally, Taylor was reported to have been “genial and responsive, but he was so sensitive and shrinking that he invented methods to avoid meeting strangers and to account of his late appearance before and sudden disappearances after his lectures.” To the chairman who was to introduce him, he would say: “Do it quickly! I would rather chop a cord of wood than sit here five minutes.”

In his later years, Taylor traveled extensively in California. The University of California gave him the degree of LL. D. He was married in 1839 to Mary Elizabeth Bromley. She died in 1848, leaving two sons:  John Bromley Franklin Taylor, born February 26, 1843, in Hamilton, Madison County, NY, and Porter H. Wood Taylor, born October 26, 1844, in Norwich, New London County, CT.

Benjamin Franklin Taylor died in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, OH, on 24 January 1887. He is buried in Colgate University Cemetery, Hamilton, Madison County, NY.

FERN EDDY SCHULTZ is La Porte County’s official Historian.

2 Responses to “Welcome to Puddletown!”

  1. Mike

    May 11. 2018

    Curious to know if anyone is familiar with the location? If I do the math right, I’m guessing this would be around the area of 700 E and 400 N? I believe the lake there is known as Hunt Lake now.

    Anyone have anymore insight?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dig It

    May 11. 2018

    I metal detector old properties as a hobby, so I really love reading about the old history. Thanks Fern for all that you do for us.

    Reply to this comment

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