By Doug Toney, Staff Writer
In the northwest corner of the Kosciusko County courthouse is an office which will be occupied until the end of December by Garold Horrick, Wayne Township Assessor.
Horrick's retirement from public office at the end of the year will conclude his fifth year in the township assessor's office and leaves County Republican Central Committee Chairman Ed Pratt in a perplex.
Pratt says find a Republican candidate to slate for the November general election is a difficult task in the Wayne Township Assessor's case.
"Garold Horrick will be a hard man to replace." The party chairman said, and Vice Chairman Pauline Jordan echoed his remarks.
"Mr. Horrick has been a very competent township assessor and a fine gentleman in that office," Miss Jordan said.
Taking the post in 1969 Horrick, of 515 North Columbia Street., Warsaw, was appointed after the death of Paul Oberly. In 1970 Republican Horrick was elected to continue his duties as assessor.
At age 69, the county official is in his sixth year in government work, which began in 1968, as head of the county's computation department for the reappraisal of real estate.
Before beginning his career in local government, Horrick worked for the Kaufman Oil Company of Warsaw, Lawlor Company in Chicago and 26 years with the Winona Railroad and Interurban system.
"When I started work for the railroad, I started in as a stenographer," remembered Horrick, "in 1926 I held several positions, including general freight manager and finally vice-president of the company."
"I was elected vice-president after the death of Theodore Frazer, president of the railroad. At the time of his death, I was working as his private secretary."
Reminiscing thoughts of an era long passed in the Kosciusko County area, Horrick continued, "When I started, the Interurban system in Indiana and Ohio had more than 5,000 miles of track. The Interurban was instigated originally by the Winona Assembly to get people to Winona Lake from Indianapolis, South Bend, and Louisville.
"The system was quite a network, there were stations in every town on the line and shelters about every mile or so. The line was really nice for the rural people because it would stop anytime a passenger reached his destination.
"The trains ran from six o'clock in the morning till 11 o'clock at night, with a train going through Winona and Warsaw ever two hours in each direction.
"On the weekends families would travel...you would ride all the way from Peru to Goshen for $2.04, and thousands of people would use it on the weekends for the special events at Winona," Horrick recalled.
"For a while I was working 16 and 17 hours a day trying to get my work done. I haven't been unemployed a day since I started to work for the railroad in 1926," he said with pride.
Working didn't gradually become a way of life for Garold Horrick, it simply was a way of life. Born on a farm near Pleasant Valley, he grew up with farm work and chores as a daily routine.
Then at the age of 15, he moved with his family to another farm west of Pierceton.
"I didn't mind farm work in the fields but having to come in to do the chores made for long hours. When asked why he left farming he remarked, "I don't know I guess I just decided to go to business college."
In 1923, after graduating from Pierceton High School where he played center for the Pierceton basketball team, he enrolled at Fort Wayne International Business College. Living in a rooming house, Horrick worked in a small restaurant during his college years, and after leaving the summit city, he began his career with the railroad.
1923 was an important year in ways besides his graduation from high school. While attending the Epworth Forest League Institute at North Webster, he met a young lady named Mae Barton, who was a minister's daughter from Leesburg.
Four years later, they were married in a church in Geneva, Indiana. Now, 47 years later, they have a married son and daughter and three grandchildren.
The Horrick family, long-time residents of the county, has a history that reaches back to the early settlement of Kosciusko. Born on the same farm as his father, Warren Horrick, his ancestry demonstrates a type of work-ethic philosophy that characterizes his career.
"My great-grandfather, Guy, who brought his family to this county sometime during the 1830's helped clear the land for the original courthouse here in 1842," remarked Horrick.
Included in the ancestry is a link with the most famous seamstress of the American Revolutionary War -Betsy Ross.
"I don't know for sure but I've been told that the Horricks are related to Betsy Ross. I have a Bible that is supposed to be her daughter's," said Horrick.
His reluctance to mention or have printed the background of his family demonstrates Horrick's certain no-nonsense attitude. Blessed, with almost 50 years of constant working, 45 years as an usher at the First United Methodist Church a member of the National Rifle Association Association for 50 years.
The 48 years of constant employment is coming to an end. Horrick is planning to retire at the end of his present term. "I'm ready to retire," said Horrick. "My wife and I would like to do some traveling."
However, he acknowledged a catch to his plans for retirement. During the May primary elections no Republican or Democratic candidates surfaced for Horrick's post as Wayne Township Assessor.
According to law, if no one is elected for the assessor's job in the November balloting, Horrick automatically will be installed in the post for another term.
Both parties have until Sept. 1 to slate candidates for Wayne assessor and for other offices vacant in the primary election. What would Horrick do if he were re-installed in office next January? "Well, I could serve it out," he said, "but I could also resign."
Whatever the decision, retirement would be a just reward for 48 full years of constant working.
ALONG THE WINONA
The tracks, the sounds, of railroad cars, and the small weather shelters are gone. an era lost to progress.
Long before the energy crisis and a car in every garage, the Winona Railroad provided a mass transit that stretched from Goshen to Peru during the first quarter of the 20th century.
The Winona Interurban, at its peak in the late teens and early 1920s carried as many as 15,000 people a day to special events in Winona Lake.
Created in 1902 by the Winona Assembly, it began as a trolley system between Warsaw and Winona Lake. After a $170,000 subsidy from Peru, Warsaw and Goshen, the Winona Railroad laid its tracks to Goshen in 1905 and Peru by 1907.
It is estimated that the Directors of the Assembly invested over $1,500,000 of their own money to expand and support the system. During its prosperous years the railroad built, at a cost of $200,000, a steam "powerhouse" with a boiler capacity of 6,000 square feet. Developing 1200 kilowatts, it furnished power for the entire railway plus all of Winona Lake's steam utilities and heating.
However the prosperous years of the Interurban were numbered. The advancements of mass production, lower priced cars, such as Henry Ford's Model A, allowed more people to purchase an automobile, undermining the demand for the mass transit.
In 1924, the struggle for survival caused the system to convert to freight hauling, hoping to keep the intra-city network alive.
But in 1934, the line from Goshen to Warsaw was closed and passenger service was only maintained on the three mile line between Warsaw and Winona Lake.
After World War II, the battle for mass transit and against personal mobility was soon to be lost. The railroad went into receivership, and by 1949 the company started the procedures for shutting down.
On May 31, 1952 the train ran its last between Warsaw and Winona Lake, ending the era of local transportation. The Winona Railroad Interurban system became history.
Warsaw Times Union Spotlight June 8-15, 1974