Urbana did have its own newspaper for a very brief time - a weekly published for four
weeks in 1933 by Ralph Oliver. It was discontinued due to insufficient advertising.
We feel very fortunate to have 2 of the 4 issues.
The Romance of Founding Urbana
Pioneers Overcame Many Difficulties and Endured Hardships in Building our Little
City. Founded just Eighty Years Ago
"Did you know" that Urbana had its beginning in 1853: in just such trying times as these
Thousands of men out of work, millions of dollars invested in city property and
realestate railroads and California gold mining stocks, were lost because of the
approaching panic of 1857, during the administration of President Pierce. The
problems of slavery was being discussed argued and fought over, and was anti-
climaxed in the famous Dred Scott decision (36-30 to you) in 1857.
Three of Wabash county's earliest settlers; Mr. James Wright, Mr. Samuel Welman
and Mr. William Richards, platted and laid out the village of Urbana.
Mrs. Wellman owned the tract of land now known as the Geo. Pretorious farm which
at that time extended to the main street of our town, the Kendall residence on the
Mr. Richards bought the tract known as the Denning farm, south of the east-west
road, and west of the north-south road, now the State Road No. 15, Conrad and
Holstein now occupy that corner. Mr. Wright owned the tract where your old friend
Rickey Pretorious now lives. At that time the property extended to the corner where
Mr. Beghtel now lives. The other main corner of the new town was swam. I mean
swamp. The hotel now occupies that corner.
When the village was laid out on the corners of these farms, the next thing was to
choose a name. After several suggestions, such as Ohioville and other names relating
to the nativity of the promoters, they decided upon Urbana, suggested by a son of one
of the founders, it being the first one drawn from a hat.
There was no school building in the town, but for several years an old log cabin west
of town on what is now the Mrs. Jacob Miller farm served as both school and church.
It was known as the sliding chapel, due to some rotted logs and a violent wind. It was
used until 1856.
Another similar structure stood on the south west corner of the original Speicher farm,
about one half miles east of Urbana. The first teacher was C.A. Wellman, a son of
one of the three organizers.
Bear in mind that the town was surrounded by virgin forrest, filled with squirrels,
pheasant, wild turkeys etc. An incident of those pioneer days, in contrast with modern
religious deportment may interest your. One Sunday morning near the close of "Lords
Day Worship", the door opened and in walked Thomas Vandyne a famous hunter, a
gun in one hand, a string of squirrels in the other, and hunting knife in his belt. He
greeted everyone with "Good morning Ladies and gentlemen," sat down near the door
and stayed till he heard a squirrel bark.
A frame school building was constructed in 1856 just north of St. Peter's Evangelical
Lutheran church. The first teacher in this school was a young man named McKinney.
Among other teachers there were Harrison, Beck, Mathias Galster, Malinda Griffith,
M. B. Wellman, G.A. Wellman and Andrew Holland.
You may be interested in knowing that our wartime vice-president, T. R. Marshall,
went to school to the daughter of one of Urbana's founders.
Now we have tried to show you that Urbana has its inauspicious beginning founded on
hard work, cooperation, persistence, and courage. These things contributed toward
making Urbana a thriving, prosperous, industrious community. "You can remember
when" Urbana had a real championship winning high school basketball team. If you
can't ask Leo McLaughlin. "You can remember when" Urbana shipped more car
loads of live stock and other farm produce in a year than towns much larger. "You can
remember when" we really got together in community enterprise.
Just at present Urbana doesn't have much left, but the first thing to do when you "Buy
American" is to "Buy Urbana" you know the rest.
From Urbana Post-Times - February 17, 1933
History of Urbana
It is impossible in this space to do the history of this area justice. Briefly the area
was first occupied by the Miami Nation of Indians. French Missionaries in 1672
spoke of the Miami as being one of the most powerful nations of the west. The
English started to move in but the building of the Wabash and Erie Canal in 1834
was a major turning point bringing in more people. The county of Wabash was
formed March 1, 1835. Urbana, which is located partly in PawPaw and partly in
Lagro township, was surveyed in 1854. Soon the Quick and Company built a
sawmill and a Mr. Van Pyne opened a shoe shop. Within a couple of years there
was a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop and two stores. Urbana did not really thrive
until the Cinncinnati, Wabash & Michigan train went through in 1874. Charles
Miller built the depot in 1874. As the town grew, there were saw and grist mills, 2
resident physicians, two meeting houses (Evangelical & United Brethren), the Bank
of Urbana, and the Urbana Independent Telephone Company.
Below is article from the Urbana Post Times 1933 about the history of Urbana.