Laketon: a La Porte village that soon met its demise

By Fern Eddy Schultz, La Porte County Historian

There seems to be much interest these days in villages that never became recognized, many of which were referred to as “flag stops” or “whistle stops” and were located near a railroad. There are varied

La Porte County Historian Fern Eddy Schultz

beliefs regarding the actual designation of these two entities. One definition reported: “From a railroad rules standpoint, flag stop is correct. From a colloquial use standpoint you could use whistle stop.  When you give the train a signal to stop, it should whistle to acknowledge the signal. Thus, whistle stop.”

La Porte County had a number of these, but also villages that were platted but never became renowned. One of these was Laketon.

The village of Laketon was platted November 28, 1857, and the recording may be found in the La Porte County Recorder’s Office in Original Plat Book 1, page 267. The village was laid out in Section 36 of Township 37 North Range 3 West (Center), Section 31 in Township 37 North Range 2 West (Kankakee), Section 6 in Township 36 North Range 2 West (Pleasant), and Section 1 of Township 36 North Range 3 West (Scipio). It contained 275 lots and was platted by W.J. (William James) Walker and his wife, Caroline M. (Caroline Matilda Rose) Walker.  

W.J. was the son of John Crawford Walker Sr., one of eight children.  John had established considerable friendships with influential legislators in Indiana and he used that position in 1829 to influence the bill passing the construction of the Michigan Road from Madison. He received vouchers, or certificates known as “scrip,” which he could exchange to purchase land in the north part of the state. He was paid because he was considered a contractor who supplied tools and manpower for projects.  

In 1830, John Crawford Sr. purchased 5,120 acres of land through the Government Land Office in La Porte and in 1831 and 1832, another 5,250 acres at South Bend and Logansport. He was reportedly the largest landowner in the state at that time. Some of this acreage was the location where La Porte was platted. He moved his family to La Porte in 1839. His life was certainly not without troubles. He was eager to make La Porte a railway site. He envisioned facilities for the shipment of lumber and grain arriving via ships on Lake Michigan. This dream was not fulfilled.  He died in 1844 and was buried in the Walker family cemetery, which he had established. The cemetery still exists but went through a very poor condition period. His sons carried on John’s expectations.

W.J. was very interested in La Porte and believed it would one day be a great metropolis. In a 1916 issue of the local newspaper, it was reported that about the time the Cincinnati, Peru & Chicago Railway (later the Lake Erie) was put through La Porte, indications were that in a few years the town would be of several hundred thousand population. It was then that Laketon was platted. It was located on the shores of what formerly was Walker’s Lake, which was at the southeastern edge of La Porte’s boundary at that time. The railroad passed through the edge of the “dream village,” but nothing developed in the area and there was nothing within the borders “but waving grain and green grass.” What had been hoped to happen had not and even the waters of the lake, which once were so clear and beautiful, had vanished.

According to the news of the day, it was on this date, March 23, 1916, that the “sordid” end of Walker’s dream came when in the circuit court a petition was presented by William Niles asking that the “village” be vacated, that the plat be canceled, and that the land be described in the future as “farm land.” Laketon was annexed into La Porte and was bounded by Rumely, Ohio, Roberts and Clement streets. The Patton Cemetery occupies land located between Laketon and the old Walker’s Lake.    

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

One Response to “Laketon: a La Porte village that soon met its demise”

  1. Jerry

    Aug 10. 2018

    Interesting story. As kids we used to ice skate on Walker Lake and tried fishing without much luck. We always referred to it as “the pond”. Maybe the city should officially name it Walker Lake and put it on the map?

    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply