KOSCIUSKO COUNTY —In January of 1966 the Kosciusko County Historical Society was formed. One hundred sixty-five persons attended the first meeting held at the courthouse. From that beginning fifty years ago, the society has grown to nearly 500 members and has become the caretaker of the Old County Jail (now a museum), the Chinworth Bridge (Greenway Trailhead), and the Pound Store in Oswego (oldest commercial building in county). But the society does not only preserve historical sites, they also are the caretakers of the official county records, and business, family and personal histories.
In very early days Warsaw contained one of the queerest characters known to this section of the state was Stephen Philpott, Sr. He was of English birth and had first settled in Ohio. He came to Fort Wayne by canal, and then to Warsaw by private conveyance (railroads were not to Warsaw yet). Reub Williams wrote in his newspaper, the Northern Indianian of Philpott, “he was honest and upright and charitable to a remarkable degree, he aided more people than anyone else in town.” When Reub started his newspaper, Philpott did everything in his power to help get it on its feet financially. Reub many times went to him to borrow money to pay for a small “bundle” of paper in order not to miss an issue.
In religion he was a “Universalist” and he lived at a time when that denomination was far from popular. On his belief he was always ready for an argument and in maintaining his side he was exceedingly skillful and forcible. He referred to himself as “Old Sinner” and it was the name that everyone in town called him.
He was the first man in the town to erect an ice-house to store ice and sell it during the hot summer months. He lived on North Lake Street, and as he boated and fished a great deal, he built a small wharf and boat-house at the foot of the bluff in the rear of his residence. There was an old barn on the shore of the lake which he converted into an ice-house and it did not take him long to fill it with ice almost to the roof.
A stranger from Cincinnati, who owned a large packing-house, had offered Old Sinner $700 for his ice, just as it stood, the stranger to pay all expenses of shipping and delivery to the cars. Old Sinner refused and the stranger up the price to $800. It was a very good offer for it had taken very little time to fill the icehouse. But Old Sinner wasn’t concerned about the money he was concerned about his customers, about the people who in the hot summer months might come down with sickness, the folks of the town who depended on him for ice, so he again refused the offer.
The summer came, and with it more than an average severity of sickness in August and September, and Old Sinner Philpott could be seen pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with ice to his customers all over town, and giving it to those unable to pay for it. When he died his funeral was attended by almost everyone in town.
An unfortunate accident happened to his son Stephen Philpott, Jr. during the centennial celebration of our country’s independence. Philpott, Jr. was on the gun squad and the unit had discharged the gun six times. Philpott Jr. was ramming home the next charge when the cartridge exploded halfway down the barrel. The ramrod struck Philpot on the arms, entirely severing his left hand at the wrist and throwing it sixty feet away. His right forearm was severely lacerated. Dr. Leedy amputated the left arm half way between the wrist and elbow, and the right arm about two inches below the elbow. It was a sad beginning to Warsaw’s celebration of our nation’s 100 year.
The Kosciusko County Historical Society is celebrating its 50 year in preserving county history. Help support the Society’s efforts by becoming a member. Send name and address along with $25 for a family membership to KCHS, PO Box 1071, Warsaw, 46581. With your membership comes our quarterly publication, The Thaddeus Magazine, which contains fascinating stories of our county’s history.