Biography: Walter Lightcap

A standard history of Starke County, Indiana (1915)

Walter Lightcap was a son of Levi and Mary (Smith) Lightcap and brother to my gg-grandfather George.  A biography of Walter was published in “A Standard History of Starke County Indiana” by Joseph N. McCormick, Chicago, 1915, p. 593-594.

WALTER LIGHTCAP. One of the men who have had a large share in the development of the thriving City of North Judson is Walter Lightcap, whose home has been in that section of Starke County for sixty years. Mr. Lightcap and his family have owned much of the land around and in North Judson, and part of the town has been built up on property that was included in their old homestead. Mr. Lightcap is a veteran of the Civil war, and has played a useful part in Starke County.

Walter Lightcap was born at Melmore, Seneca County, Ohio, November 7, 1842. His parents were Levi and Mary (Smith) Lightcap, both natives of New Jersey and probably married in Pennsylvania. They began life in Seneca County, Ohio, where Levi Lightcap followed the trade of carpenter. All the children, four in number, were born in Ohio, as follows: Walter, George, Frances and Henry. In 1855 the family left Ohio, and with wagons and teams crossed the intervening country to Indiana, halting in Starke County in the wilderness about the present City of North Judson. They located on land that was covered with dense timber, filled with wild game, which supplied many of the necessities of the household in the early days. Levi Lightcap received forty acres given him by his wife’s father on section 9 of Wayne Township. There the parents set up housekeeping, and started out to make homes for themselves and children. Levi Lightcap after improving the first forty bought forty acres more, and while improving his land also followed his trade as carpenter and built many of the early homes found in Starke county. His first home in Starke County was a log cabin, with a puncheon floor, a slab door, and with very few comforts and conveniences. During the Civil war Levi Lightcap and wife moved to North Judson, where he followed his trade as carpenter, and later opened a stock of merchandise. He was one of the well known early pioneers in Wayne Township and died at North Judson in 1870. He was born in 1820. His wife died about twelve years after his death, and was about sixty years of age. She was a member of the United Brethren Church. Politically he was first a Douglas democrat and later a republican. All four of their children are still living, all are married, and all have children of their own except Henry, whose home is in North Judson.

Walter Lightcap was thirteen years old when the family came to Starke County, and back in Ohio he had attended the common schools. In Starke County he attended one of the old fashioned log cabin school houses, sat on a slab bench, and learned his lessons in a temple of learning such as only the old citizens can recall. At the same time he made himself useful on the home farm, and was already of an age when the family came to this county so that his services could be used both in the house and in the field. After starting out for himself he did farming work chiefly, and has made somewhat of a specialty of buying and improving wild land. In this way he has brought under cultivation several farms in Starke County, and his first enterprise in this direction was on a part of the 120 acres included in the old homestead, all of which lay about North Judson Village. Mr. Lightcap still owns ten acres within the corporation limits, a part of the old Lightcap homestead. In the course of years he has added four subdivisions to North Judson, and is a man who has witnessed practically every phase of the growth of the town.

On September 21, 1861, when nineteen years of age, Mr. Lightcap enlisted as a private in the Twenty-ninth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and was a soldier throughout the remainder of the war. His term of enlistment was for three years, and after his honorable discharge he reenlisted and became a veteran. He was honorably discharged from service December 2, 1865, several months after the close of actual hostilities between the North and the South. He received his discharge at Marietta, Georgia. In the course of four years he had participated in many of the historic campaigns throughout the South. Among the better known battles in which he engaged were those at Shiloh, Stone River, Chickamauga. Though frequently in the midst of the heavy fighting, he escaped with only one slight wound and was never taken prisoner nor spent a day in a hospital. He came out of the war with the rank of first sergeant.

Walter and Eliza Jane (Stewart) Lightcap

Mr. Lightcap was married in North Judson to Louisa Jane Stewart, who was born in September, 1842, and died at her home in Wayne Township January 6, 1911. Her father, James Stewart, came from Ohio, was an early settler of Starke County, but later moved out to Kansas, where he and his wife both died when quite old. James Stewart was a farmer by occupation, and belonged to the Presbyterian Church. Mr. and Mrs. Lightcap became the parents of the following children : Charles, who died when two years old; James B., who lives in Chicago Lawn, and has two children, Marvin and Myra ; Fred, who died in early childhood; Margaret, who also died when a child; John S., who is clerk in the First State Bank of North Judson, married Martha Kroppa, and has a son Harold. In 1913 Mr. Lightcap married Mary (Jarrett) Hines. She was born in Henry County, Indiana, grew up and received her education there, and was married in Starke County to Charles Hines, a farmer and a veteran of the Civil war, who died when about fifty years of age. By her first marriage Mrs. Lightcap had the following children: James is a conductor with the Erie Railway, lives at Huntington, Indiana, and has two children; Orlando is married and lives in the West ; Otis Irwin lives at South Bend, is with the Oliver Plow Company, and has three children. Mr. and Mrs. Lightcap are members of the Methodist Church. In politics he is a republican, and has affiliations with the Grand Army Post.

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