Source: T.B. Helm, History of Wabash County (1884), pp. 273-274

...In September, 1834, [Col. Richard Helvy] was joined by a neighbor, James Abbott, whose name is quite as prominently linked with the settlement and improvement of the township as that of its first settler--Col. Helvy. Not a great distance intervened between their respective locations. Col. Helvy located on the bank of Eel River, about a mile northeast of the present site of North Manchester, and Mr. Abbott located on the same stream about two miles above the present site of Liberty Mills. In that period of sparsely settled neighborhoods, these few miles were thought little of, and the Helvys and Abbotts were intimate friends as well as "near neighbors." Together they undertook the task of hewing out farms from the surrounding wilderness, and for years afterward they were hand-in-hand in the public improvements of the township.

Col. Helvy was a native of Virginia, but removed to Indiana at early day, locating near Indianapolis. In 1831 or 1832, he removed to La Gro, in Wabash County, and was engaged in agricultural pursuits at that point until his removal to Chester Township. Here he cleared and improved a large farm of more than a hundred acres, and for a number of years was devoted to its cultivation. In later years, however, he removed to North Manchester, and kept hotel on the corner of Main and Walnut streets. He died at a ripe old age, having lived to see the forest transformed into a thrifty farming community, and to witness the many changes and improvements that followed in the tread of the pioneer army.

James Abbott was a native of South Carolina, and a man whose early life developed within him those qualities of self-reliance and energy which are so essentially a part of the "make-up" of the true pioneer. Left an orphan at a tender age, he was bound out to a slave-holder, from whom he afterward escaped, on account of severe treatment, and made his way to North Carolina. From that time he knew that he must depend upon himself alone, and through various vicissitudes he fought his way to manhood. About the year 1800, he removed to Ohio and was subsequently a soldier under Gen. Wayne, in his campaigns against the Indians. In August, 1834, he came to Wabash County, and entered a tract of land on Eel River, upon which he located, as previously stated. Here he cleared and improved a large farm, to the cultivation of which he gave his attention for many years. He died in 1867, at the age of ninety-one years.

Source: T.B. Helm, History of Wabash County (1884), pp. 280

The Christian Church. Probably the first sermon ever preached in Chester Township was delivered by a representative of this denomination. The occasion was the fall of 1835, when the families of Col. Helvy, James Abbott and Peter and John Ogan assembled in Peter Ogan's cabin to participate in the religious exercises led by Elder Bryant Fannin. Mr. Fannin had made his appearance in the settlement a few days previously, to select land, and, remaining over Sunday, delivered the first sermon on that day. Shortly after his return as a permanent resident of the settlement, he and his neighbor, Joseph Spencer, organized a society of this denomination in the house of Mr. Fannin. This was probably in the year 1841 or 1842. The society had a membership of not more than a dozen persons, and met twice a month, in the Fannin cabin, and subsequently in a schoolhouse south of North Manchester, known as the Walters Schoolhouse. At a later date, the schoolhouse at New Madison was adopted as the meeting place, and in this they worshipped until after the close of the war. In 1866 or 1867, the congregation purchased a lot in the village of New Madison, upon which they erected their present house of worship, a substantial brick building. The church has grown and prospered from the first, and now has a large congregation. It is under the pastoral care of Elder Rittenhouse. This denomination has two other houses of worship in the township; the first, known as Pleasant Grove church, is situated about three miles east of North Manchester, and the second, known as Antioch Church, is about three and one-half miles southeast. The Pleasant Grove congregation was organized in 1844, under Elder Joseph Roberds, at the house of Isaac Robbins, whose house continued to be the meeting place for a few years. Finally the members of the church united with the citizens in erecting a house which was used for a log schoolhouse during the week, and a church on Sunday. A tract of land was donated by John Simonton and Joshua Simpson for a cemetery, with the privilege of building a church upon this tract, extended to any denomination who would permit their church to be sued by all other denominations for funeral services. The conditions were accepted by the Pleasant Grove congregation, who in 1858 erected their present house of worship (1884). The church is a substantial frame building, plain and unpretentious. It has maintained a strong organization, and now ranks among the foremost churches of the township. Elder William McClurg is the present pastor.

Antioch Church was organized in 1861 by Elder George Abbott [son of James Abbott], who still resides at North Manchester. Mr. Abbott occupied the pastoral office for about four years, during which time the public services of the church were conducted in private houses or a neighboring schoolhouse. The society prospered from the first, and its membership increased. In 1866 a lot was donated by John Dunbar, in Section 14, upon which they erected their present chapel--a neat brick edifice. The church is now under the pastoral care of Elder William Heflen (1884).

Source: T.B. Helm, History of Wabash County (1884), p. 285


Liberty Mills is situated on the south bank of Eel River, and occupies nearly the entire east half of the southwest quarter of Section 22, Town 30 north, Range 7 east, of the Second Principal Meridian. The land upon which it is situated was originally entered by James Abbott, but was sold by him to Mr. McBride, and by the latter to John Comstock, who founded the town in 1838.

Source: T.B. Helm, History of Wabash County (1884), p. 288

...[in 1837 John Comstock] bought forty acres from one McBride, a portion of which, on June 24, he laid off into town lots. The deed for same he took from James Abbott, Sr., McBride having forfeited his right in a title bond thereto.