• By Kirk Gaw

'Tis The Season Shopping For Gifts In Walkerton

Our favorite, idyllic, small town has always provided something for everyone. West Troy was founded out of the dust during the 1840's along an Indian Trail connecting Michigan City to Logansport. The stagecoach community evolved into what was next, called West York by 1850.

It was young New Yorker, Charles W. Stephens, established as a farmer along the shores of early Koontz Lake since, 1847 who opened the first community post office a few miles north at the bridge over Pine Creek. He sensed the ancient Indian Trail turned stagecoach line from Michigan City to Logansport was apt for heavy business in what would later become Walkerton.

Stephens recognized that the opportunity for potential retail could happen at the West York stagecoach stop since a railroad line was being planned for the area. Charles W. Stephens established the first general store at that "Bridge Street" location for many years, dealing in general merchandise, livestock, grain, furs, etc. Today, we now know it was at the westside railroad diamond area, Adams St. location. The empty lot it once, stood is near where the old Plas/ Steel plant stands.

After the Cincinatti - Peru - Chicago Railroad was built by LaPorte banker, James H. Walker, Stephens chose the first lot in the new town platted farther east as Walkerton. He relocated the general store complex. In his busiest years Charles W. Stephens employed twenty-two men, and had from twelve to seventeen clerks in his store.

Over $1300 was taken in over his counters in a single day. He paid out $100,000 for grain in one year. The Stephens Store Co. building was a substantial frame measuring 44 ft. x 100 ft. and two stories high. His establishment was a great center of trade for many miles around the Walkerton area. Unfortunately, the operation caught fire and burnt down in 1894. By that time the commercial business district of downtown Walkerton was built out along Avenue F and other businesses picked up where the Stephens Store Co. left off.

We know that commercial center addressed as Roosevelt Rd. today, after US 6 connected the east coast at Massachusetts to the old wild west in Bishop, California near Yosemite. 204 years of commerce and retail is historic upon the Victorian atmosphere reflecting the age of iron horses and stagecoaches. The Walkerton community flocks to the heart of the town on Roosevelt between Washington Street and John Glenn Drive.

There exists a tradition of entrepreneurship once, enjoyed by Charles W. Stephens. This article reflects where you can shop during the busiest season of the year. Families and business people destined to celebrate one occasion after another like no other time. The Walkerton area has the neighborly charm and convenience for those seekers who want to complete their gift lists. It is a place to enjoy stocking the party! Here is where to look:

1. Dollar General - 304 Michigan St. - You will find holiday decorations, seasonal items, party / occasion supplies, pet, health, cleaning supplies, electronics, personal care, beauty, household supplies, food & beverages, apparel, toys, auto / hardware. Plenty of parking.


2. The New Kitchen Store - 330 Liberty St. - Lot's of friendly helpers here to guide you with cooking supplies, crafts, recipe's, cookware, decorations, electronics, dishes, glassware, ornaments, tea, cheeses, linens, dinnerware, coffee, tea, and accessories. Great gift ideas, and cooking classes.


3. Tranquil Daze - 611 Roosevelt Rd. - This new store has recently opened in the historic commercial district. You will find baja pullovers, scented oils, hacky sacks, pipes, incense, posters, decals, hookahs, tobacco accessories, and candles.


4. Kabelin's Ace - 410 Indiana St. - They have it all here. Great gifts for the whole family. Sporting Goods, Housewares, Decorations, Gift Wrapping, Grills, Hardware, Paint, Yardware, Electronics, Toys, Hobby Crafts, Shoes, Clothing, Gardening, Power Supplies, Keys & Locks, Plants, Party Rentals, and Seasonal Items. Friendly Service in every aisle.


5. MJ Package Liquor - 728 Roosevelt Rd. - Large variety of liquor, wine and spirits, select moonshine, bourbon, scotch, and whisky. Selection of craft beers and seltzers. Tobacco, cocktail supplies, and soda pops.

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