26 February 2014

LaFontaine (luh-fountain, per Hoosier-speak)

The Parker House & Store, LaFontaine
William Grant was the first settler in Liberty Township; he settled in 1834 near what would become LaFontaine.  William Grant created a wolf trap in that area and the creek that flows through LaFontaine is named for him and his two brothers, Daniel and Smith.  The town of LaFontaine was originally platted in 1845 by Daniel Grant and named Ashland.  The first house, which was a log cabin, was constructed in 1841.  The settlement acted as a trading post for the Miami Indians which lived on a nearby reservation.  A few stores were established in the years following Daniel Grant’s plat, but growth was slow.  This was partly due to a road that was constructed through the town of America.  America was platted in 1837 and was just over a mile east of Ashland; after the road’s construction America boomed during the 1850s and 1860s.  Eventually America was abandoned and local lore indicates that a few of that community's buildings were relocated to LaFontaine.  The next boon for LaFontaine came with the construction of an electric rail line, but it was short-lived.  Later the town's main highway was also bypassed.

The oldest house in LaFontaine was built by the Rogers family in about 1848.  The Rogers established one of the first businesses in LaFontaine.  The house was also used as a general store prior to its purchase by the Parker family.  The Rogers completed the sale of their home to Adam and Nancy Parker for $600.00 in 1854.  The Parkers were natives of Kentucky who established a tailor shop in the community in 1853.  That business was expanded over the years to include other staples and hardware.  The original Parker store is located west of the house; a second store building was constructed by the Parkers in 1881 east of the house.  They used the first floor for their store and the second floor was known as the Parker Opera House.

Adam Parker became the postmaster and Justice of the Peace for the community.  He was also an officer of the local chapter of Free Masons and was a founder of the LaFontaine Bank.  The iron fence in front of the house was added at the time the second Parker store was constructed.  Adam’s grandson Kenneth also lived in the home.  Kenneth married Mable Boys in 1906 after which time they became the owners of the home.  Kenneth Parker made minor modifications to the house in about 1910.  At that time the circular columned porch was added on the front of the house.  The Parker home and store, which closed in 1960, remain in the family.  These folks do love their history, much of the entire town is being placed on the National Register.

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