Porter Township Memories
by Art McKay
March 20. 2011


I grew up in Olive Green, which is the biggest town in Porter Township. My great uncle Fred McKay was the township clerk for many years. According to him and the records I viewed, Olive Green was surveyed in 1803. While the surveyors were doing their work a young girl rode to them on horseback. She was on, what is called, Plantation Road. They asked her her name and she said "Olive Green." So they named the town Olive Green.

Olive Green in the 1940's had 2 grocery stories and a feed mill. At various times there was an automotive garage and in the early 40' s another gas station.

Farmers around the area were largely sustenance farmers; they usually had 160 acres or so and had a small dairy herd, 50 to 100 chickens, sometimes some hogs, and hay fields as well as grain fields. It was general, not specialty farming on a very small scale. The main cash source was selling the milk to a local creamery.

Olive Green was where they did their shopping and had their grains ground for cow feed.

In the fall of the year the Olive Green Street Festival was held. Store owners, Frank Roberts and Gerald Crowl, and the manager of the feed mill hosted the festival. Walter Phillips was the owner of the feed mill for some time. There was a game played called "Chuck a Luck." It was played with bingo cards and kernels of corn. Usually Francis Ulery was the announcer for the game. He had a cage-like affair with a crank on it. There were several dice in the cage. As I recall, he'd crank it a couple of times and call out some numbers. When some player had completed a row or column, there was a minor prize. Since it was late fall, there was cider,-pumpkins, and  other produce displayed.-A-small band-would play as they sat on a hay wagon. The fiddler was a man with the last name of Bennett. He was from Marengo, Ohio. My grandfather, Frank McKay, called him by his nickname which was Toad Bennett. A woman with a usually severe expression played the piano. They would have square dances and, as a small boy, I enjoyed watching the steam from the people's breaths as they danced and spoke to each other.

The most important point of this account is that there was a sense of community and many times neighbors would help one another. There were.times when a farmer was disabled by accident or illness and other neighboring farmers would.help him with the cows or harvesting crops.

An important historical feature of Olive Green and East Liberty was that prior to the Civil War slaves fled from their masters and were kindly treated via what was called The Underground RailroadTime and time again I had elderly men point out to me a house in East Liberty that was a primary station in The Underground Roilrocd. Also in East Liberty was a Reverend Brown who helped with this movement. His daughter, Stella, married the local store keeper, Clayton VanSickle, in East Liberty. He and his wife Stella were my great grandparents. Stella was also known by the name Estella. They were staunch abolitionists.

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