The friendly town of Larwill, Indiana is west of Columbia City situated just off U.S. Hwy 30 and State Road 5. With a population of just less than 300 people, everyone is your neighbor in Larwill.
Larwill has always been a rural community and was established as Huntsville in 1854 at the corners for four farms – Henry McLallen, Sr., Jesse S. Perrin, Thomas J. Hammontree, and Truman Hunt. The town was platted along the route of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railroad under construction at the time.
Due to another post office named Huntsville elsewhere in Indiana, the town changed its name to Larwill on March 8, 1866 in honor of William and Joseph Larwill. They were resident engineers in charge of the railroad construction from Columbia City to Warsaw.
Proximity to the county seat and the location along the railroad line proved economically beneficial to Larwill. In the middle 1800s, the area was wooded, and the town quickly became a trading center for lumber and for grain as the timber was cleared.
Businesses first established along Center and Main Streets and families then built homes around the businesses. The growing community attracted several doctors to Larwill, including Dr. John Firestone, a long-time physician, and Dr. Christopher Souder, who had studied and practiced medicine under Dr. Firestone’s guidance.
Following his service to Company E, 45th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Dr. Souder built his historical brick home, which finished construction in 1877. The house was registered on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, and still stands on the south side of town. Dr. Souder was elected county auditor in 1890 and continued to practice medicine until his retirement due to poor health. Dr. Souder died on Dec. 15, 1899.
The railroad was double-tracked in 1902, and the first overpass bridge was built soon after (the current one was erected in 1965). At its peak, six trains a day stopped at the Larwill depot, and freight trains were loaded at a grain elevator and stock yard. While the activity has decreased over the years, trains of the Chicago, Fort Wayne, and Eastern still shine the rails daily.
Basketball started at the Larwill high school about 1918. The first games were played outside on the schoolyard, but games were soon moved inside, first to an old Baptist Church, then to the feed room of the Larwill Feed Mill. The Larwill Community Building was built in 1925 at the high school; one of the first basketball halls in Whitley County. After the school closed, the Community hall was sold and is now used by a business.
After years of government business being conducted in various places around town, Larwill cut the ribbon on its Town Hall in May 1994. The building was the former Richland Township fire station, which had moved to a new facility on the east side. It was an exciting occasion, as the Town now had a utility office and regular Town Council meeting chamber.