28 August 2013

Hoosier pioneer left a New England mark in LaPorte County



1842 Captain Ames House, LaPorte County, IN
One of the oldest homes in LaPorte County is the Captain Charles Ames House located northwest of LaPorte.  Ames served in the War of 1812 from his home state of Massachusetts.  Ames came to LaPorte County by waterway in 1836 two years after his brother, George, landed in Michigan City and established a business.  George Ames became a wealthy philanthropist who had a hand in establishing the public library in the 1890s.  Immediately Charles struck out to build a cabin and later a barn in 1838 which still exists.  He built a Federal style home inspired by his New England roots in 1842.  The house features corner posts exposed inside the home, a certain New England construction method and quite rare to find in the Hoosier state.

In 1856 Charles son, Augustus Ames, constructed a home near his father's house.   Augustus Ames kept a diary during the year of 1851 which gives some insight into the life of a young pioneer man.  The diary is part of the Ames Family archives of the La Porte County Historical Society.  Augustus recorded his daily work activities that included dragging logs that had been cut on the property to the mill during the winter months of January and February.  He also recorded cutting rail timber for fences in a number of entries and mentioned doing so once with Mr. Mayhew, who was likely his future father-in-law.  He mentioned cleaning the ice house and stable and “drawing corn into the barn”.  In the spring Augustus mentioned making wagon shed poles, digging holes for them and covering the wagon shed, presumably with wood siding.  He also mentioned cleaning out the barn and boarding up the ice house.  Later that spring he split rails for fencing and replaced the old fence.  In the early summer Augustus recorded mowing the orchard.  He also recorded buying a yoke of oxen and going to pick them up.

Augustus also recorded in his diary other activities of pioneer life besides work.  He mentioned several times attending Sunday meetings to hear Minister Cunningham preach at the “brick school house”, the location where Augustus also attended “singing school”.  He recorded attending an event with his future bride, Amanda “in the forenoon”.  Augustus mentioned visits from his father’s uncle Thomas, and from uncles Fisher and George, who lived in Michigan City.  He recorded attending the funeral of Uncle Fisher’s baby in Michigan City on March 16th and James Orr’s funeral on April 6th.  James Orr was a La Porte County pioneer with a neighboring farm.  Augustus recorded attending the dedication of the Methodist Church in La Porte on July 27th.   He also recorded that his father had “come home from the East”, presumably to visit family.  Augustus had also traveled east going to New York with his uncles Fisher and George to visit his grandmother.  At the end of 1851 Augustus recorded a trip he made to Milwaukee.
 
The Ames' family homesteads are being carefully preserved and were listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

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