The Management of Progress: The Pre War Years.

"We trust the police will exert themselves to keep the city in order and quiet after nightfall and render it safe for pedestrians to perambulate the streets once more without providing themselves with arms and bludgeons."--An article posted in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel (1863)

The Beginning of a City Landmark: Lindenwood Cemetery.

By the mid 1850's Fort Wayne was facing another growing pain, a new place to consummate the deceased. McCulloch Cemetery, the city grounds at the time, was filling up to capacity. A new, larger area was need to continue to fill the needs of the city. On July 5th, 1859 a group of prominent Fort Wayne businessmen including Allen Hamilton and Hugh McCullogh purchased a tract of land on the citys west side for $7,627.50. This area known as the Pollock plat was made up of marshland and thick underbrush, but with development could render a beautiful resting place for the dead. In 1860 the board of directors were chosen, and the project of developing the grounds were under way. A man by the name of John W. Doswell was chosen as superintendent, and the grounds were offically dedicated on May 30th, 1860. Ironically, the date was not chosen because of Memorial Day. Only after the Civil War did May 30th become a permanent holiday to remember those lives lost in the conflict.

"The Most Lawless Town in Indiana": The Fort Wayne Story.

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A Call to Order: Fort Wayne's First Police Force.

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"Educating Fort Wayne:The "Free School" System.

One of the most heated debates in Fort Wayne's history was the free school system. Private institutions like the Presbyterian Academy and McJunkin School (prior to 1853)charged a fee to educate the privileged while a majority of children went uneducated. As the population of Fort wayne grew to around 4000 people, of which roughly 1200 were children, the lack of a common education system was becoming a problem.

The first mention of free education was during a trustees meeting on March 26th, 1836 when the motion of free schools was dropped due to the overwhelming demand the program would have on the town of Fort Wayne. It wasn't until 1853 that the citizens of Fort Wayne took action. The concept of a "free school" plan was based on the opening two large schools. One on the east side of Fort Wayne at Clay and East Washington Boulevard, and one on the west side near Jefferson and what is now Fairfield Avenue. The plan was put into action by electing a board of trustees to direct the action. The board voted on a short term solution by renting a previously run private school, the McJunkin School. Alexander McJunkin had run the pioneer school located at Main and Berry Streets for many years, so the building was well equipped for the task. The Free School movement seemed to be off to a promising start, but this was short-lived. Their was so much oppositon to money being used for educating the masses that the board of trustees, made up of Hugh McCulloch,Charles Case, and William Stewart, disbanded. All three of the members resigned, and the push for free education was back to square one. The movement had lost a step, but had not stumbled. Money raised from private citizens was enough to start construction on both the Clay and Jefferson schools, but funds were needed to maintain both institutions. In 1855 a new board of trustees was chosen and $3,500 was appropriated toward the completion of the schools and a committment to maintain them. This action again was met with strong opposition, but after court litigation, the free school system won out. Every citizen of Fort Wayne was now going to be able to send their children to receive an equal education. Both schools opened to great fanfare and social gatherings. Fort Wayne was gearing up for the growth ahead.

The school systems of both Fort Wayne and Allen County grew at a tremendous rate. By the early 1900's school houses reached from one side of the county to the other. Center School in Aboite was one of the first to be built in 1893. Only a few of these one room school houses remain today. A reminder of our ancestors commitment to the future.

The Great Drainage Projects of the 1890's: The End of the Portage Swamp.

For centuries a major part of southwest Allen County was made up of swamp. A reminder of the great glaciers that once consumed the area. The Great Black Swamp which played a major part in allowing passage on the Wabash-St.Marys Portage spanned over parts of Allen, Huntington, and Whitley Counties, and as far east as the Auglaise River in western Ohio. Indians and fur traders using the Portage took advantage of the swamps to lessen the carrying distances of their canoes. During the rains of early spring and late fall the Portage distances could be reduce as much as half.

However, by the mid-1800's use of the Portage was next to non-existent. Better, faster transportation made the Portage obselete. What remained was a large series of swamps that collected mosquitoes and spread the treat of malaria, a great health concern in those days. In addition, thousands of acres of land were being lost to the existence of the swamps. On May 20th 1885, the Allen County Courts approved a plan to drain the swamps by building a series of drainage ditches which would flow into both the Wabash and St Mary's Rivers. The costs would be levy toward the landowners who in turn would recover usable tracts of farmland. The property owners land value would go up, and a great health threat would be eliminated. The County Commissioners awarded the contract to a local dredging company by the name of Boltz and Derheimer for the sum of 137,017 and the project became a reality. In July 1889 the last stretch of ditch was blasted allowing the swamps to drain into the Wabash and St. Mary's Rivers. The last reminent of the Portage was history.........

Robison Park: Fort Wayne's Summer Hot Spot!

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The Electric Rail: The Rise and Fall of the Interurban.

During the late 1800's, railroads had become the primary mode of transportation in the United States. Traveling from one city or town to another took far less time than it did in the canal days. However, there was one problem that needed to be solved. How to effectively transport people within the city. Locomotives could effectively transport many passengers at one time, but were designed for long distances. Steam locomotives required great distances to build up enough speed for effective travel. This would not work for short distances in town. The solution: Develop an interurban system of trolleys for transport around Fort Wayne, and surrounding areas. Eventually an effective electric rail system would emerge to rival anything that existed at the time.

The first of these vehicles were seen on Fort Wayne Streets in the late 1870's. Horse drawn trolleys moved passengers from one side of the city to another. The plank roads,later to be replaced by brick, made transportation easier. Though effective, this mode of transport seemed cumbersome to most. Gasoline combustion engines were not perfected at this time, and the drawbacks of steam were already eminent. The problem was to find a way to start and stop these trolleys quickly. Not until the turn of the century did electricity prove it's potential. An elaborate network of rails were built through the streets of Fort Wayne using electric lines strung above to propel the trolley to its destination. A power plant was contructed on East Baker Street near Calhoun Street to supply the lines. The first trolleys including those drawn by horse were made of wood. By 1910, steel was being used to reinforce and prolong the vehicles. While streetcars were being used to transport people in the city, the system soon expanded to include towns around Fort Wayne. In its heyday, the interurban had two-thousand miles of track in Indiana. Most made use of the old canal right of ways as it was more cost effective. In its infancy electric rail was big business. Huge profits were made by providing passengers luxury transportation rivaling that of the locomotive.

One of the most interesting business ventures began in 1896 when the Fort Wayne Electric Railway Company purchased 265 acres of land north of the city. Any passenger willing to pay the fair was treated to beautiful pavilions and exciting rides. Robison Park, as it was later known, offered boatrides on the St. Joseph River, shooting galleries,confection stands,bowling alleys, a merry-go-round, and a pony track. The park operated until 1919 when it went into receivership and was closed.

Between 1905 and 1911 the major lines of operation included the Fort Wayne and Wabash Valley Traction Company,the Fort Wayne Bluffton and Marion Traction Company,the Lafayette and Logansport Traction Company. As the business climate changed, so did the profits of these companies. Gasoline powered carriages known as automobiles began to take hold in America. By 1911, these companies along with the Fort Wayne Electric Light Company,the Carrol Electric Light Company, and Fort Wayne Power Company formed the most comprehensive merger in Indiana History. Fort Wayne and Northern Indiana Traction Company as it was called, was one of the largest of its kind in the nation. This company operated until 1919 when it went into receivership and reorganized under the name of Indiana Service Company. The patronage of the interurbans continued into the 1920's with newer and faster cars with names like Little Turtle and Anthony Wayne. These cars had carpeted floors, swivel chairs, and table lamps to attract new customers to an ever decreasing mode of transportation. The downward trend began in the late twenties when automobiles became more cost efficient mode of transportation. More reorganizations in the 1930's dwindled down operations to only a few lines. These lines began running mostly freight as their cargo. The last passenger out of Fort Wayne left the terminal at 11p.m on January 18th 1941. A passenger by the name of Roy Bates who rode the last train into Fort Wayne recalls the event, " On arrival at South Broadway everyone took a turn at blowing the whistle. This continued until our arrival at the terminal on West Main St. We pulled into the terminal at 1:20 a.m. We gave No. 63 a parting salutation. Her lights were switched off. Then the station lights were extinguished." Over the years the interurban tracks were removed to provide a smoother surface for automobiles. Like the canal before it, the interurban has mostly been erased. Only the stories remain of this great industrial innovation.

Dealing with Disasters: The Aveline Fire and Great Flood of 1913.

Fort Wayne's infrastructure was put to the test in 1908 and 1913 when disaster struck at the heart of the city. In early morning on May 3, 1908 a prominent city landmark burnt to the ground. The Aveline House located at the corner of Calhoun and Berry Streets was one of the finest hotel since opening it's doors in 1863. The building was orginally four stories high, but two more stories were later added. The cause of the fire was unknown, but flames quickly swept through the hotels upper levels. Most guest were able to escape onto adjoining roof tops, but the fire claimed 12 lives before it was extinguished. Many residents came to view the building in the early morning to see the extent of the damage. The building was beyond repair, and quicky razed.

Another disaster with much wide-spread devastation was the flood of 1913. The days between March 22nd and March 30th 1913 would test the will of every Fort Wayne resident. As a result of spring thaws and over four inches of rain the three rivers began to rise quickly. On March 23rd the Maumee River was at 6.7 feet, but by the morning of March 26th the River was at an all-time record of 26.1 feet. The dikes on the St. Joseph River began to give way and soon the entire downtown area was engulfed in water. The city relief organization was put into action by the Mayor. Martial law was declared to keep looters from abandoned homes. Police were given the orders to shoot on site if this law was not obeyed. The City Council approved financial aid, and was joined by some of the most prominent businesses in the city. The Berghoff Brewery, Indiana Lighting Company, and the telephone company were gracious in assisting the city. Most of the damage was only to homes and businesses. Loss of life was kept to a minimum. Only six residents lost their lives due to drowning. A greater flood control plan was needed. Fort Wayne would have to endure more floods before a comprehensive plan would be developed.

The Storm on the Horizon: Preparing for World War I.

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This photo taken in 1889 shows West Berry Street still unpaved at the turn of the century. Note the Ewing Mansion at the right. Courtesy,Allen County Public Library.

This photo is taken at the front entrance to Lindenwood Cemetery. The grounds were offically dedicated on May 30th, 1860. The It is still one of the finest in the nation.

The Citizens Street Railroad Company was the first street cars in downtown Fort Wayne. Horses were used until 1892 when they were replaced by electric wire. Courtesy,Allen County Public Library.

The first police force in Fort Wayne. Cira 1892. As the city grew so did the need for law enforcement. Courtesy of Allen County Public Library.

Many firehouses like this one on Washington Street were constructed in the late 1880's to keep up with the demands of big industry. Firehouse No.3 houses the Firefighters Museum, one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the nation.

Center School in Aboite Township is an example of the many one-room schools that were built to supply the growing demand for education in and around Fort Wayne. Built in 1893, Center School represents one of a few old one-room schools in existence.

The fourth Courthouse in Allen County built in 1860. It stood until it was rebuilt in 1902. Courtesy,Allen County Public Library.

The Fort Wayne City Hall was built at the turn of the century. It currently houses the Allen County Historical Museum.

The current Allen County Courthouse pictured above is nestled in the center of downtown Fort Wayne. Completed in 1902, the Courthouse was the fifth since the city was founded. The old Courthouse was in disrepair, and it was said that a distasteful odor orginating from its basement could not be neutralized.

Across the street from the current Allen County Courthouse was the first Fort Wayne Police Station. A small holding area was on the first floor, and womens holding areas upstairs. This marker is the approximate location of the Station.

Maumee-Wabash Portage: The Glorious Gate.
Fort Miamis: The First European Settlers
Historic Fort Wayne: The Great American Outpost
Wabash and Erie Canal:The Great Waterway.
Johnny Appleseed: The Pioneer Spirit
The American Civil War: Fort Wayne's Soldiers.
Arrival Of Locomotives:The Canal's Demise.
The Rise of Industry: Fort Wayne's Revolution.
The War to End All Wars: Patriotism and Fervor.
The Promise of Hope: The Depression Years.
Great Strides in Industry: World War Two.
High School Proms & Cherry Sodas: The Fifties.
The Coming of Age: Fort Wayne in the Sixties.
The Rebirth of Fort Wayne History: The Seventies.
A new Sense of Direction & Growth: The Eighties.
The Bicentennial of Fort Wayne: 200 Years of Prosperity.
The Year 2000: Reflections and Great Expectations.
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Last updated 02/2/2003

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