1850's Pioneer Village
The land where our Pioneer Village lies was once owned by Reed Case, contractor for the Carroll County section of the Wabash & Erie Canal, and his business partner from Lafayette, James Spears. At one time, the site was home to two brick kilns, which were responsible for firing bricks for many of the buildings in downtown Delphi.
Our 19th century trades people and buildings in the Village are available for demonstrations and cabin tours. All docents and trades people are volunteers, so specific trades or cabins are subject to availability. Docents and trades people include: the Blacksmith, Broom/Basket Maker, School House, Loom House, Fouts Cabin, Cooper and Papermaker. Pets are welcome in the Village but not in the cabins. Visitors are also welcome to walk through Pioneer Village on their own.
Reed Case House
Reed Case's personal 1844 Federal-style home anchors the village, complete with period furnishings, some of which came from the Case family. Each room of this magnificent two-story structure is furnished and has been sponsored by an individual, a family or an organization, many times with furnishings from their ancestors. As you step into the entrance, immediately your eyes land on the unique faux Marble walls and unique woodwork of early craftsmen. Upstairs are bedrooms, a sewing room, children’s playroom and even a room with a back stairway where a young Irish female otherwise known as the “hired girl” lived as she was serving the family.
Fouts Log House
See an authentic log house from years past—an impressive two-story timber structure built in 1839 by Noah Fouts. It had been moved from its original site near the town of Deer Creek in Cass County next to France Park, a Cass County Park, finally here to Pioneer Village. Features of the repairs after moving the last time included replacement of the “sill logs” which are actual 1840s Canal timbers from the Fort Wayne area dug up and saved when US 24 was being rerouted in 1990.
During festivals and summer weekends visit with the matron of the house as she cooks in the fireplace or performs domestic duties common in the pioneer era.
VanDerVolgen’s Blacksmith Shop and Jim’s Carpenter Shop
This small but vital part of our campus houses the blacksmith shop dedicated to our late master blacksmith, Lawrence VanDerVolgen. Mr. VanDerVolgen’s uncle owned a General Store in Pittsburg, where there’s an ever-flowing spring where many people today bottle their own tasty drinking water. Jim’s Shop is named for the ever popular 1989-1999 President of the Canal Association Jim French. He was a retired grade school principal who loved working with kids and knew how to motivate and discipline them, and they respected him. He would help them make their own bird houses and pound the nails as they learned from this inspiring man.
The Log School House
This structure was relocated to Canal Park from Parrish Farms nearby Monticello, Indiana. The logs for the outside walls of this one-room schoolhouse were joined through use of a style of cut referred to as a saddle notch. Clay was generally used to “chink” or fill the spaces between the logs. Inside the benches separated by an isle in the middle contained the boys on the left and girls on the right. The schoolmaster ruled by the tune of the “hickory stick” and kept order as the multi-grade level kids were encouraged to learn.
This building has been transformed from an earlier use as a Smoke House. In the days prior to modern day refrigeration and the large-scale packing houses of today, meat could only be preserved through a smoking process. Woods like hickory and apple were often used to impart flavor through “smoking” the meat that was hung from large hooks in the center of the smokehouse as the smoldering fires choked the room with dense smoke. Once finished, the food could be stored in the secure smokehouse itself, or in barrels of dry oats or bran until needed.
We now use this building as the Papermaker’s shop where demonstrations of this early craft can be seen. Watch a live demonstration of papermaking when the docent is available.
The Speece Shelter
Made partly of original timbers from the 1850 Speece Warehouse donated in 1982 from the estate of Josephine Blanchard to create the shelter in the center of Pioneer Village. Ms. Blanchard was a granddaughter of Lewis Speece and of Dr. James Blanchard, a Canal-era medical doctor in Delphi. Mr. Speece and his brothers operated a small but thriving shipping enterprise along the Towpath at Carrollton. Like many Canal shippers who had previously been captains of larger ships, he was familiar with maritime enterprises. Mr. Speece owned a warehouse and a canal boat.
Descendants of Jacob and John Kuns donated this edifice in 1981 and it was moved here that same year. In the Canal Era, the Kuns brothers settled in the area which is known as Rock Creek Township and operated a store from which they shipped and received goods on the Canal. At one time, as many as thirteen family members lived in this small log home. The Kuns family comes back about every three years for a family reunion.
The Bowen Cabin
This structure was originally located six miles south of Delphi on the Charles Bowen farm. His grandfather, Abner Bowen, settled here from Ohio and had a shipping franchise on the Canal. The Bowen family was known for its acumen in both farming and banking. They owned farmland as far west as Missouri and operated the Bowen Bank in Delphi. The cabin is currently used during festivals as a gift shop selling cabin crafts and hand-made gifts by local artisans.
Bank barns are European in origin. These unique structures were (and still are) built into hillsides to allow for more space. Typically, these barns would store equipment in the upper level and would house livestock in the lower level. Ours allows access to the canal on its lower level.
An elevated (chest high) chicken coop behind the Case House was typically there to provide a family with meat and eggs. The simple design made it easy to fetch the eggs, and at night, the trap door could be closed to keep varmints out. It was usually the hired girl’s duty to watch over the coop, feed the birds, open the hatch and gather the eggs before breakfast, and even hook a couple birds to prepare some fresh chicken for supper.
See buckets and butter churns being made from Cedar staves by a traditional Cooper, laboring in the hardworking fashion of trades workers in the rugged backdrop of 19th century America, when Indiana was still a mostly untamed wilderness.
See Weavers at work on 19th century looms. Watch masterful hands as they put together their intricate patterns to craft various woolen items in the manner of old-world textile production.
Broom Maker’s Cabin
This addition represents the Trailblazer Era when fur traders such as John Duret and the descendants of Antoine Bondie from Fort Wayne traveled up and down the Wabash River and other streams in the area. This small building was brought here from Galveston by our volunteers. We use this structure now to house our Basket and Broom Maker.
Fitting in with the aesthetic of our village, this old, rustic cook shack was (before being moved to Canal Park) used in warmer seasons by the Kuns family near their original Cabin site. It was traditional in hot summer days for the women to do their cooking outside under roof—thus reduce the heat inside the family’s living quarters.
Nowadays in its present location it’s often open with food and refreshments for visitors during Canal Park’s summer weekends.
This small structure across from the Case House represents a Toll Station where money or trade goods were exchanged as fees for cargo passing by this point in barges traversing the canal. The Toll Stations were more frequently located at a Lock site where boats had to temporarily stop anyway before entering the lock chamber.
An essential part of any home, shop, or public area, the outhouse is an often unsung hero of the 19th century and even into the 20th until indoor plumbing became more widely available.
Enjoy some highlights from our Village.
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See the Interactive Map!
Get a closer look at Canal Park with our Interactive Map!
Make a reservation to bring your class to the canal for a fun and enriching experience.
Our beautiful and historic trails are OPEN! Learn more about the trails and get some fresh air.
It’s as important as it is a pleasure to learn about those who have come before us and all the brave and impressive things they did which led up to the modern world we live in today. Learn more from the Learning Center on our site, starting with Canal History.
Things to Do
Come one, come all! Whether you have a school group, an event that needs hosting, or you plan on making a day trip, there’s no shortage of fun activities, period architecture, and educational displays to keep you engaged and inspired during your time here.
Weddings & Events
Your wedding day is one of the most memorable and magical days of your life. Bring your family and your friends, and we’ll supply the atmosphere to make your big day one to remember with memories and photos full of old-world charm. Contact us to reserve the Chapel and Canal Boat.