Hoosier Dusty Files - February 17, 1838 - Indiana Legislature Creates Mishawaka by Combining Four "Towns"
|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Four villages had grown up in the Mishawaka area by late 1839. Indiana City was on the north Bank of the river. St. Joseph Ironworks and its two additions occupied the south bank. St. Joseph's Ironworks two additions were Barbees Addition on the east side and Taylor's Addition on the west side.
St. Joseph Ironworks
A Detroit businessman named Alanson M. Hurd sent William Earl to the area of the St. Joseph River in 1832 to study the area's possibility. Earl was a prospector and found deposits of bog iron in the river. He followed the deposits to a marshy area near the river and found large bog iron deposits there. He returned to Hurd and reported his findings. Upon his personal inspection, Hurd decided to build a blast furnace at the site to extract the iron from the ore. Hurd platted the town of St. Joseph Ironworks in 1833. The blast furnace and the jobs it promised attracted people and people created the need for businesses. This led to the two additions to St. Joseph's Ironworks, Taylors Addition and Barbees Addition. The first elections for St. Joseph's Ironworks occurred on January 1, 1835, resulting in the election of five village trustees. The blast furnace at St. Joseph's Ironworks was the first blast furnace in Indiana.
Bog iron develops in boggy areas from iron rich water emerging from springs. Bacteria in the water, called iron bacteria, acts on this dissolved iron, oxidizing it, creating the bog iron ores from which a blast furnace can extract usable iron.
Taylor's Addition grew up on the west side of St. Joseph's Ironworks. This addition acquired a post office in 1834. The Post Office was given the name "Mishawaka."
William Barbee laid out an addition on the east side of St. Joseph's Ironworks in 1833. This addition also developed into a small village.
Three men, Joseph Bartell, James R. Lawrence and Grove Lawrence, platted Indiana City on the north bank of the St. Joseph's River, directly opposite St. Joseph's Ironworks and its two additions. This created four growing villages in the area.
The Legislature Acts
On February 17, 1838, the Indiana Legislature combined the four cities, using the name of one of St. Joseph's Ironworks as the name for the new town, "Mishawaka." This is an Amerindian word whose meaning is the source of disagreement. One favored meaning is that it means "big rapids." Another group favors the theory that the name is that of an Indian Princess.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning