NORTH WEBSTER — North Webster’s history came alive during the 10th annual North Webster Cemetery Walk held Sunday, Sept.11. Thirteen past residents told their story as tour guides lead groups through the North Webster Cemetery.
This event was approved by the state as a legacy project for the state bicentennial.
The event is sponsored by the local history and genealogy center of the North Webster Community Public Library. The day started with an unveiling of “Wooly Webster,” a Bison part of the bicentennial celebration. The bison was selected since it’s plays a prominent part of the state seal.
This art project is the first state public art project in the country. Kasha Iacob, Kerry Barrett and Trent Barrett were the artists who painted both sides of the large bison.
Members of the North Webster Friends of the Library provided food to the enactors as well as provided refreshments and acted as tour guides.
The first resident those on the tour met was David Mock, played by Victor LaBarbera, who moved to Tippecanoe Township in 1840 with his father and brother. “The land here was beautiful,” he said. A mechanic by trade, Mock operated a sawmill and threshing machine. He even made his own coffin out of black walnut, but for some reason was not buried in it at his death in 1906.
He told of bringing an Atlas Steam Engine to thresh his field. His wife, Kathrine died in 1864. The couple had eight children. He later remarried and in 1902 drew up his will leaving $400 to each of his children.
Next those on the tour met Caroline Huffman, portrayed by Janette Stackhouse, who married Jessie Huffman at age 14. He was 24. “We had a wonderful time,” she said. After Jessie died, she married Adam Rizzo who made cement ornaments and cemetery markers. The couple moved to North Webster where he was a shoemaker.
When she died, Rizzo made her cemetery marker. Because it is made of cement, it is impossible to repair.
Abner and Charlotte “Lottie” Gerard, portrayed by Clayton and Pam Koher, were the next stop on the tour. Abner was born in 1878 in Huntington, PA., as one of 11 children. Lottie was from Ohio.
Abner served in the War of 1812. At the time, he and Lottie had been married only a year and a half. Twenty years after the war, the couple moved west and in 1834 settled in what would become North Webster.
The Gerards were some of the first settlers in the area and when North Webster was plated, the Gerards owned 1/6th of the area that became the town.
The couple raised 10 children.
Abner’s stone was recovered in 2015 by a family member. Lottie’s stone has not been recovered, although she was buried near her husband.
John Lincoln Scott, portrayed by Gary Earnhart, was the next stop on the tour. He was born in North Webster in 1861, one of three sons. When his father died, in the 30th regiment of the Indiana Volunteers, his mother remarried. She and Scott’s stepfather had eight children.
He married and had four children of his own. His family moved to Leesburg and then in 1887 moved back to North Webster where he was the millright for the North Webster Mill.
Scott also played clarinet. In 1895 he received a patent for a roller bearing to improve farm equipment. That roller bearing is still in use today.
In 1910 Scott purchased land in Wilmont, in Noble County where he owned the general store and ran the grist mill until 1935. He then went back to farming until his dead in 1941.
Lester and Elsa Weyland, portrayed by Todd Lucas and Katie Anders, were next on the tour. The couple met in Valparasio, where Lester settled after his first wife died. Lester was a car inspector for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Elsa’s family had immigrated from Sweden. Elsa first worked in a toy factory and then as a typist. The couple was married in 1936.
Shortly after their wedding, they moved to North Webster where they lived until 1980, when they moved back to Valparaisio. Lester died at the age of 90 while Elsa was 83 when she passed away.
The Schwinns, Morton and Tressie, portrayed by Forrest Boesenberg and Lori Hickman, were the next stop on the tour. Morton, or Twister as he was known, served in World War I where be got his twisted leg, hence the nickname.
Morton and Tressie married in 1925 and moved to North Webster in 1930 where they opened Twister Restaurant, located on Main Street.
While the couple had no children of their own, they “adopted” the town’s children, even staying open late to make sure the basketball team was fed when the players came home from an away game.
Frank Kruger, portrayed by Garet Becker, married his wife Jennie in 1908. The couple had two children, Alton and Loren.
Kruger owned North Webster Ice Cream and Bottling Co. He also owned a grocery store and lived in the highlands area of North Webster.
Kruger loved to fish and fished just about every day. Ever the entrepreneur he purchased a freight line out of Fort Wayne and then retired in 1935. He noted he was very active in the community.
Next on the tour was a visit with Ruth Hamman, who married Albert Hamman and settled in North Webster. The couple had three children, although their youngest died.
Albert Hamman was an electrician and owned a bait shop. Ruth’s sister lived in Mentone and Ruth enjoyed cooking when she and her family came to visit.
The last stop on the tour was Bernard and Avelda Roberts, portrayed by family members Matt and Mariah Roberts. Bernard Roberts went to several schools in the area and graduated from North Webster High school.
The couple married in 1939 and moved to a grandparents farm. In 1950 the couple purchased a piece of land that once belonged to Avelda’s family.
Avelda raised chickens and traded eggs at the White Front Store. Both were very active in the community and had seven grand children and 12 great grand children.
Matt is one of Bernard and Avelda’s grandsons and he and his wife live on John and Avelda’s farm.