The Beginnings of Fort Wayne

Audio: “The Beginnings of Fort Wayne” featuring Tom Castaldi. Courtesy of WBNI-Fort Wayne.

John McCorkle of Piqua, Ohio and John T. Barr of Baltimore had purchased the original fort plat for $2,838.43. After the sale, Robert Young surveyed and laid out the town. The most desirable business lots on Columbia St. were purchased by Alexander Ewing, Samuel Hanna, and Allen Hamilton. They were 60 by 150 feet and sold for a hundred dollars each. The community itself was smaller than it had been 30 years earlier during the heyday of Miamitown. Before the coming of the Americans, in the earlier French, British and Indian period, the three rivers town was a central point in the political control of the Northwest. Throughout the 1820s, the legal organization of Fort Wayne was taking place. In 1822, Samuel Hanna was appointed the first post master of Fort Wayne and a regular mail service was established between the town, Maumee and Piqua, Ohio. Before that time, the local citizenry had to depend on military express, suppliers, and travelers. On May 22, 1824, the first County Commissioners were elected, as were the associate judges, recorder and clerk.

Benjamin Cushman and Samuel Hanna were elected judges. The commissioners appointed were William Rockhill, James Wyman, and Francis Comparet. Anthony L. Davis was named clerk and Charles Ewing was appointed by the court as prosecuting attorney. William G. Ewing was admitted as attorney of the court. Allen Hamilton was named Fort Wayne’s first sheriff by the governor in 1824 and later formed the first local bank. Court was held in the Ewing Tavern (Washington Hall) and the courts first action was to grant Alexander Ewing a license to keep a tavern in the city of Fort Wayne. The commission to locate a permanent county seat of government met on May 24, 1824. Among the propositions made was one from John T. Barr and John McCorkle; they offered to donate to the county the square land bound by Main, Court, Berry, and Calhoun Streets. The offer was accepted which gave way for the location for the County Courthouse. As a part of this proposition, they also offered to pay the county treasury five hundred dollars and give other lots for religious and educational uses. Accepting the generous donations from Barr and McCorkle marked the beginnings of Fort Wayne.

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Samuel Hanna

Samuel Hanna

Ewing plot document of Fort Wayne

Ewing plot document of Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne Centennial Celebration Arches, 1895

Fort Wayne Centennial Celebration Arches, 1895

Photos courtesy of Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society and ARCH Inc.

Resources:

  • The Bicentennial Heritage Trail Group, ARCH Inc., Essex Group, Inc. ,On The Heritage Trial, Fort Wayne, Indiana: A Walking Guide Book (1994) pp.90-92.

  • John Ankenbruck, 20th Century History of Fort Wayne (1975), pp.110-113.