There are numerous stories that tout the virtuous and sometimes non-virtuous events that marked the county's history. In my researching the history of La Porte County, I came across articles of people, places and events that defined the county's history. Some of the articles referenced the first person to do this or that. Others announced the first time an event or opening occurred. This is the first in a series of articles that may bring a smile or frown to your face, or cause you to say "Oh my gosh," or "I didn't know that."
There are but few soldiers of the Revolutionary War buried in La Porte County. One of them is at rest in the Door Village cemetery. His name is Clark Burlingame. He was buried sometime in the winter of 1842-1843. He was 85 years old at the time of his death. He was born in Rhode Island. As a young man, he was associated with the renowned Ethan Allen and enlisted and served in the same regiment with General Allen. He was with him at the taking of Ticonderoga.
Burlingame died at the residence of his son, Abel Burlingame, on the Summit a few miles north of La Porte. Elder Tucker, one of the pioneer Baptist ministers of Northern Indiana, preached the funeral sermon.
No stone marked his grave at that time. There were only two other Revolutionary soldiers buried in the county at that time. They were Abijah Bigelow Sr., of Michigan City, and Simon Wheeler, buried in Low's burial ground between the Summit and Waterford (Michigan City News, Oct. 2, 1901).
Although La Porte County had few white people in its borders prior to 1830, in the decade following, several soldiers of the Revolution came to make their home in what was then wilderness. More than 800 were living in Indiana in 1835 and at least six of these were in this county at that date.
The Indiana Society of the Sons of the American Revolution made an effort to locate and mark the graves of these men. They were able to locate the following graves:
The remains of Abijah Bigelow lie in Greenwood Cemetery. He was one of the small company of immortals known as Minute Men, who, on April 19, 1775, allied on Lexington Commons at the call of Paul Revere and "fired the shot heard round the world." Later, he fought at Bunker Hill and served with distinction during the war. In 1836, he came with his daughter, Mrs. Herbert Williams, to La Porte County. He died in 1848 at the age of 92. His grave is on the Circle in Greenwood in the Williams-Haddock lot.
Also, Ezekiel Smith is buried at Door Village, Henry Van Delsem at Oak Grove, Simeon Wheeler at Low Cemetery near Waterford and Frederick Drulliner at Hamilton.
Clark Burlingame is known to be buried at Door Village, but his grave at the time could not be located. The bodies of Hezekiah Smith and R.B. Oglesbe rest in unknown graves in the county somewhere. Their graves were marked with The Grand Army of the Republic bronze markers (Michigan City News or Evening Dispatch).
Mrs. Louise Mayo, mother of the famous Mayo brothers doctors at Rochester Minnesota, was a La Porte girl and was married to Dr. William Mayo, who was a noted physician and surgeon in his day, a reputation which was sustained and added to by his illustrious sons. Mrs. Mayo, formerly Miss Louise Wright, married Mayo in La Porte on Feb. 2, 1851. They were living with their sons. Dr. Mayo was 91 years of age at the time and his wife was 85 (Michigan City Evening News, Jan. 4, 1911).
Arnold Bass is a past president of the La Porte County Historical Society.