1840 - 1841- 1842 - 1843 - 1844 - 1845 - 1846 - 1847 - 1848 - 1849
Indiana population was 685,866.
1840 Samuel Bigger is elected 7th Governor of Indiana. He died September 9, 1845 and was buried in Broadway Cemetery, now McColloch Park in Fort Wayne. His is one of only two bodies still buried there as all the other bodies were removed to Lindenwood Cemetery.
Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne from the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper says: The village of Fort Wayne is incorporated as a city. The first mayor is George W. Wood.
1840, February 24 -
Indiana lawmakers approved “An Act to prohibit the amalgamation of whites and blacks.” Although an anti-miscegenation law from 1818 existed, the 1840 statute proscribed harsh penalties for interracial couples and those who married them. An 1881 law decreased some of the penalties, but a law against white and black marriages in Indiana remained in effect until it was repealed in 1965, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that such laws were unconstitutional. Read about one couple's experience with interracial marriage in Indiana at Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage, 1945-1987 by Nancy Poling posted January 17, 2018 by the Indiana Historical Bureau. Posted February 24, 2018 by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook.
1840, May 28 - William Henry Harrison launched his presidential campaign at a large Whig rally at the Tippecanoe Battlefield.
1840, August 22
August 22, 2023 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
#OTD in 1840, the Indiana Horticultural Society held its first meeting in Indianapolis at the new statehouse. According to a “Moment of Indiana History” program, attendees came from across the state with samples of fruit they had grown, such as the Bartlett pear, which was rare for the time.
Participants learned about fruit varieties being grown in other states. W.H. Ragan recalled his parents' departure to the first meeting, stating, "In August, 1840, I saw my father and mother, each well mounted, he with saddlebags filled to their uttermost capacity, and she with a good-sized bag swinging from the horn of her saddle, vanish from view into the wilderness that well nigh surrounded our cabin home, and for a period of almost or quite a week they were gone from us. On their return they had much to tell us about their visit to the great city and of the many things they saw and heard while gone."
The 1906 image of the Bartlett pear below is courtesy of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.
The First Indiana Horticultural Society [pages 71-79, 9 page pdf] published June 1, 1908 in Indiana Magazine of History journal in the archives at Indiana University Scholarworks.
1840, August 29 - a copy of The Fort Wayne Times newspaper is available on the Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana website. It has an index of names including the obituary of Revolutionary War soldier Michael Crants who died in Fort Wayne, age about 90 years, a native of Orange County, New York on page 3 column 1.
1840, December - Fort's Wayne First Christmas Tree
The story of Fort Wayne's first Christmas tree is documented in Bert Griswold's Pictorial History of Fort Wayne, published in 1917, but his source for the story is not known. It may be based more in legend than in fact. Is the first line of Fort Wayne's First Christmas Tree by John Beatty published November 23, 2011 on the History Center Notes & Queries blog.
Page 358 of the book: The pictorial history of Fort Wayne, Indiana : a review of two centuries of occupation of the region about the head of the Maumee River Volume 1 by Griswold, B. J. (Bert Joseph), 1873-1927; Taylor, Samuel R., Mrs, Publication date: 1917 on Archive.org
The first home in Fort Wayne to be graced by the presence of a Christmas tree was that of Dr. Charles A. Selimitz, in 1840. The Schmitz home stood on the site of the building on Calhoun street which adjoins the Noll (formerly Schmitz) block, on the north. In June of 1840 Dr. Schmitz arranged for the shipment of the tree from Cincinnati to Port Wayne over the canal. On Christmas eve this tree, glittering with candles and brilliant ornaments and decorations, was viewed by a company of invited guests. An infant daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Schmitz was placed in a basket beneath the tree, and the guests, including a number of Indians, were admitted. The beautiful tree brought exclamations of delight from the red men, but it is recorded that they found the baby a more lasting object of admiration. . . . Rev. Julian Benoit, a distinguished missionary of the Catholic church, assigned to the charge of the affairs of the church at Fort Wayne, arrived, in 1840, to begin his long service. He became the first vicar general of the Catholic diocese in Fort Wayne.
In his book “The Ohio Canals,” Frank Wilcox points out the Wabash & Erie Canal opened between Fort Wayne and Toledo in 1843. Wilcox also said the Wabash & Erie connected with the Miami & Erie Canal toward Cincinnati. In 1840, that canal had just opened and extended only to Dayton. Copied from Tree tradition arrives Via the canal, Tom Castaldi, Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 on Fort Wayne.com.
December 23, 2023 post by Friends of Wyneken on Facebook:
Fort Wayne's First Christmas Tree
Many sources credit Martin Luther with being the first person to decorate a Christmas tree. It’s said he marveled at the stars twinkling through some evergreen branches while walking home one night and decided to recreate the scene for his family by placing a tree with lighted candles in the main room of his home. Although the veracity of this story isn’t certain, many beloved Christmas traditions can be traced back to Germany. They include the Advent wreath (Adventskranz), Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte), and even Santa Claus/Saint Nikolaus (Weihnachtsmann). But it’s the German Christmas tree (Tannenbaum) that has become ubiquitous with the celebration of the holiday here in the United States.
During the early years of this country, Christmas trees were considered an oddity—even a pagan custom. The Puritans enacted laws making the observance of December 25th a punishable offense. People could be fined for simply hanging decorations that celebrated the day. But as more German immigrants settled in the colonies and later the states, the celebration of the birth of the Christ-child became a common and accepted practice.
The first Christmas tree in Fort Wayne was brought to the city in 1844 by a German immigrant who wanted to recreate the Christmas traditions he remembered from his youth. Carl “Charles” Schmitz was born in Borgloh, Germany, in 1809 and studied medicine in Bonn. He came to the United States in 1835 and arrived in Fort Wayne in 1837 after a brief stay in Philadelphia. In addition to his medical practice, he also served as the editor of the German newspaper, "Der Deutsche Beobachter von Indiana."
According to information provided by his daughter, Caroline “Carrie” Douglass, Schmitz was unable to find a suitable evergreen tree locally, so he sourced one with a merchant in Cincinnati. The tree arrived via canal boat, along with several “unusually brilliant and glittering tree decorations.” Carrie recalled that her father added to the decorations by “gilding English walnuts and attaching them to the branches of the tree. Candles also must have been used, for the observance of the Christmas time in his native Germany and in Philadelphia, where he stopped a short time before he came here.”
Once the tree was decorated, the Schmitzes opened their home and welcomed the residents of Fort Wayne to view the display. Among the visitors were Native Americans still living in the area. Everyone marveled at the beautifully decorated and lighted tree, but their attention was quickly drawn to a basket beneath it. Inside the basket was the Schmitzes’ infant daughter, Lisette, who had been born in August.
The Schmitzes’ house was located on the west side of Calhoun Street, north of Washington Boulevard. Dr. Schmitz purchased the entire quarter block in 1839 and built his residence there in 1840. During the mid-1860s, the family moved to a house on Wilt Street in Fort Wayne’s West Central neighborhood. They then subdivided the land at Calhoun and Washington and erected storefronts as rental properties. After Dr. Schmitz died in 1887, his widow, Henrietta, commissioned architect Frank B. Kendrick to design the Schmitz Block at the location as a memorial to her husband. The four-story Richardsonian Romanesque style structure still stands today and is part of Midtowne Crossing in downtown Fort Wayne. (Older Fort Wayne residents may remember shopping there at Hutner’s Paris or Nobbson.) Because of its architectural significance, the Schmitz Block was added to the National Historic Register in 1988.
Were members of the Wyneken household present at the unveiling of Fort Wayne’s first Christmas tree in 1844? In all likelihood, they were. The Schmitzes were members of Die Erste Evangelisch-Lutherische Gemeinde zu Fort Wayne, today’s St. Paul’s Lutheran, where Friedrich Wyneken was the pastor. The church and parsonage were only four blocks from the Schmitzes’ house, an easy walk. Living in the parsonage at the time were two men studying to become pastors, G. H. Jaebker and C. H. F. Frincke. It’s reasonable to assume that Wyneken and his students joined the Schmitzes as they relived the holiday traditions of their homeland. But it’s unlikely that Sophie Wynken joined them. The Wynekens’ twin sons, Henry and Martin, had been born on December 15th, so Sophie was probably still observing her postpartum confinement. (Perhaps Dr. Schmitz had attended the births?)
In addition to being baptized by Pastor Wyneken, the baby in the basket under Fort Wayne’s first Christmas tree has other connections to the Wyneken family. When Lisette Schmitz grew up, she married Rev. Adolph H. A. Biewend, a classmate of the Wyneken twins, both at Concordia College in Fort Wayne and at the synod’s theological seminary in St. Louis. But the family connections go back an additional generation. When Pastor Wyneken and Sophie returned from their two-year sojourn to Germany in 1843, onboard their ship was Adolph F. T. Biewend, Lizette’s future father-in-law. Biewend had responded to Wyneken’s appeal for church workers and initially served a Lutheran congregation in Washington, D.C. He briefly taught at the practical seminary in Fort Wayne before moving to St. Louis in 1850. There he served as the head of the synod’s gymnasium until his untimely death from typhoid fever in 1858. In 1896, Concordia Publishing House printed a biography of Biewend’s life titled "Adolf Fr. Th. Biewend, weiland Professor am Concordia-Seminar und Director des Gymnasiums zu St. Louis, Mo.: Ein Lebensbild." The author of the biography was Henry Wyneken.
Much has changed since the Schmitz family erected Fort Wayne’s first Christmas tree back in 1844. But the central message of Christmas, first proclaimed by the angels at Jesus’ nativity, remains the same: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
A shorter post:
December 20, 2023 post by Friends of Wyneken on Facebook:
Our December newsletter is out! You can (and subscribe to) the newsletter here: Friends of Wyneken Newsletter
This issue includes information on the 2024 board, details about our newly-reestablished committees, and pictures of the interior of the house. The newsletter ends with the story of Fort Wayne's first Christmas tree and a short description of Pastor Wyneken's nativity set. [ See Historical Articles Fort Wayne’s First Christmas Tree ]
(Pictured: Schmitz Block, c. 1928. Dr. Schmitz was the owner of Fort Wayne's first Christmas tree.)
1840, December 2 - former Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) on Indiana Historical Bureau. He was elected President of the United States, defeating incumbent Martin Van Buren. He served the shortest term of any president when he died April 4, 1841. Read William Henry Harrison's Presidency Explore the highs and lows of ninth U.S. President William Henry Harrison's administration, from his lengthy inaugural address to his death in office on History.com. See William Harrison (1773 – 1841) on Miller Center University of Virginia.
Chief Richardville, a participant in the victories and final defeat that led to the loss of Native American control of the area, dies and is buried in downtown Fort Wayne. A monument marks his resting place.
1841, February 20
February 20, 2023 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
#OTD in 1841, William Henry Harrison, former Governor of the Indiana Territory, and his family visited a Washington D.C. studio to sit for this silhouette portrait, created by the famous French artist August Edouart. President-elect Harrison had arrived in the capital just over a week earlier to deliver his inaugural address to Congress in which he promised lawmakers not to impede their progress with his own agenda. He stated: “Indeed, I hold all the above principles subject to the will of the majority and shall conclude this partial development of my plan of government with the assurance that whatever measure a majority of your community may propose will receive my sanction, as I do not allow my oath to support the Constitution to lay me under any foolish scruples in opposition to the Legislative will.” [Punctuation edited for clarity]. Harrison was the only president elected from the Whig Party and he promised to be a popular one, having won almost four times as many electoral votes as his opponent Martin Van Buren, as well as the popular vote in nineteen (out of twenty-six) states. President Harrison took office March 4, 1841 but served for only thirty-two days before his death from pneumonia. However, this was not the end of the Harrisons’ presidential ambitions. Also pictured in the portrait here, second from left, was William Henry Harrison’s seven-year-old grandson, Benjamin Harrison, who would become the 23rd President of the United States in 1889. Learn more about William Henry Harrison through the University of Virginia’s Miller Center: https://millercenter.org/president/harrison
Original Cut Silhouettes of William Henry Harrison and Family, February 20, 1841, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society via Indiana Memory, https://digital.library.in.gov/Record/IHS_dc050-2174 .
1841, April 7
April 7, 2017 post by Indiana Bicentennial Commission on Facebook:
ON THIS DAY // On April 7, 1841, a funeral service was held for President William Henry Harrison in the East Room at the White House. Harrison was the Indiana's first Territorial Governor and the ninth president of the United States.
Commissioners authorize construction of the county's second courthouse, a brick structure. From Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper.
1842, February 20
February 20, 2013 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
On this day in Indiana History, 1842, the first medical school in Indiana opens as a department of LaPorte University. A graduate of the school is William Worrall Mayo, who establishes the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in 1889.
1843 - the Wabash & Erie Canal was opened between Fort Wayne and Lake Erie.
December 16, 2023 post by NYPL The New York Public Library on Facebook:
Charles Dickens' novella "A Christmas Carol" was published on December 19, 1843.
By Christmas Eve, it had sold out in all the shops and has remained a festive favorite ever since. The Library has in its collections Dickens’ prompt copy of the book, which he used when doing his famous readings. In 2013, to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the novella’s publication, author Neil Gaiman performed the story as Dickens himself at NYPL, a role he will reprise at Town Hall NYC in New York City on December 18 and 19.
Revisit the very special reading and plan your visit to see NYPL’s “A Dickens Christmas” display. https://on.nypl.org/3Ros14
A Christmas carol by Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870; Rackham, Arthur, 1867-1939, Publication date 1915 on Archive.org
1844, May 24 - inventor Samuel Morse s
urrounded by an audience of Congressmen, inventor Samuel Morse sent the first official telegraph from the Supreme Court Chamber (then located in the Capitol) to his partner, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore. He tapped the message, “What hath God wrought!” copied from Historical Highlights The Capitol's First Official Telegraph on the History, Art & Archives United States House of Representatives blog.
May 24, 2023 post by The Library of Congress on Facebook:
Today in History: Samuel F.B. Morse dispatches first message by telegraph, 1844 #WhatHathGodWrought #otd #tih What Hath God Wrought?
1844, June 27 - Mormon leader Joseph Smith is killed by a mob. Mormon sun stone from that year on Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog.Sunstone Capital
1845, March 18 - John
Johnny Appleseed Chapman
death notice on March 22, 1845, saying that he died on March 18, 1845 in the Johnny Appleseed article inCityscapes - People & Places series of articles from the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper.
1845 - Congress decides all national elections to be held on 1st Tuesday after 1st Monday in November.
Election Day falls on the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November. November was chosen because it followed the harvest season, but preceded the onset of winter and Tuesday was chosen to allow time for those in rural areas to travel to polling locations without necessitating travel on Sunday and since Wednesday was often the day farmers would sell produce at markets. Polling locations are commonly located in municipal and public buildings, including community centers, churches, fire stations, public schools, public libraries, city halls, and county buildings, many of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Copied from a November 8, 2022 post by Indiana Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeologyon Facebook.
1845, December 29 - Texas, the "Lone Star State," became the 28th state to joined the United States.
Map of Allen County, Indiana, 1846, is zoomable at Indiana State Library Map Collection
This map is a hand-drawn map showing Allen County, Indiana in 1846. The map shows townships, some settlements and tribal reservations
Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne from the archives of The News-Sentinel newspapersays:
- The Miami tribe, which is scattered across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, is forcibly divided into two groups. About 600 are shipped by boat to a reservation in Kansas, and eventually on to Oklahoma. The other group is allowed to remain in north-central Indiana.
- Fort Wayne Female College is founded with the support of the Methodists. In 1852 a separate school was added for young men. Today the two have become Taylor University, headquartered in Upland, Indiana.
- A Lutheran academy for men is established; then moved to St. Louis in 1860, and Concordia College is transferred from St. Louis to Fort Wayne.
- The state of Indiana goes bankrupt over the canal. It was abandoned by 1874 and its right of way sold to the Nickel Plate Railroad in 1881.
1846, May 13 - the U.S. declares war against Mexico.
1846, May 22 - Governor James Whitcomb called for Indiana men to join the Mexican War. Five regiments were sent from the Hoosier State. From May 22, 2013 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook.1846, August 10 - the Smithsonian Institution was established through legislation signed by President James Polk. From a August 10, 2022 Facebook post with newspaper image and FOUNDING OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION with newspaper articles by Newspapers.com and an August 10, 2022 post by Heritage Documentation Programs, NPS on Facebook.
1846, September 10 - Elias Howe was granted a patent for his Sewing Machine. Howe claimed that his machine could sew 250 stitches a minute. Invention of the sewing machine revolutionized the textile and garment industries. Died October 3, 1867, read his obituary in the October 17, 1867 "The Morning Post" on the British Newspaper Archive.
1846, September 30 - ether is used as an anesthetic for the first time at a Boston dentist office.
1846, October 6 - On this date the forced removal of the Miami Tribe began in Peru, IN. Follow and read Aacimotaatiiyankwi the Myaamia Community Blog to learn more about this forced removal and its ongoing impact on Myaamia people read October 6, 1846 Peru, Indiana.
1846, December 7
December 7, 2018 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
On December 7, 1846, Caleb Mills authored the first of his anonymous letters to the Indiana General Assembly calling for the establishment of a public school system.
He cited that only one in seven Hoosier adults could read. He also wrote that only 37% of Indiana children attended school and, of those, most attended only a few weeks a year. Mills would author six anonymous addresses to the General Assembly between 1846 and 1851, each spurring the body to take action for public education.
Learn more about Caleb Mills' involvement with public schools here: Caleb Mills and the Indiana Free School Law[ Indiana Magazine of History journal in the archives at Indiana University Scholarworks]
The photograph of Mills below is courtesy of Wabash College.
1846, December 28 - Iowa, the Hawkeye State, is the 29th state to join the union. The abbreviation IA, sometimes used for Indiana along with Ind. was often confused in early census records.
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In 1847, the Indiana General Assembly approved a law "for the protection of the property of married women." As scholar Virginia Dill McCarty noted, the law "removed from a husband's control any real property acquired by a woman before marriage and exempt[ed] its rents and profits from being counted against his debts." It is one of the earliest laws in the state of Indiana that entitled relatively equal legal protections for women. Copied March 24, 2019 from Indiana Archives and Records Administration at IN.govon Facebook.
1847, October 9
October 9, 2021 post by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
On October 9, 1847, African American David Powell and his family fled their enslavement in Boone County, Kentucky and crossed the Ohio River into Indiana. The family’s enslaver, John Norris, unsuccessfully sent a party of 40 men to track down the Powells.
Two years later Norris received word that the family was living in Michigan and set out to find them. He found them in their home and the family was taken through Indiana on their way to Kentucky. When neighbors heard of their abduction, they set off in pursuit of Norris and the Powells. They caught up with them in South Bend and halted their progress.
Edwin Crocker represented the Powells in the "South Bend Fugitive Slave Case" and argued that Norris failed to acquire a certificate to transport the Powells through Indiana on their way to Kentucky. The judge ruled in their favor and, after an additional hearing a few days later, the Powells returned to their home in Michigan.
Norris, outraged by the court's decision, filed suit in the U.S. Circuit Court against those who had assisted the Powells in their escape. He sued for the cost of his lost "property." Although just months before, it had been decided that the Powells were not his property, he won the suit and was awarded $2,856. According to historian Claire Harvey, the South Bend Fugitive Slave Case “exposed the impact of local cultural attitudes towards slavery at the time upon the outcomes of legal proceedings. The South Bend Fugitive Slave Case involved two individual judges, each of whom examined the evidence and rendered quite a different judgment."
Learn more here: Image 2 of The South Bend fugitive slave case : involving the right to a writ of habeas corpus.
The image below, showing a pamphlet published in 1872 relating the story, is courtesy of the St. Joseph County Public Library.
1848, January 24 - gold discovered at Sutter's Mill, California.
January 24, 2012 post by The History Center on Facebook:
The California Gold Rush began on this day in 1848, leading to Mark Twain's story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," Twain's first major hit as well as a shifting of the population in California from primarily "Indian" to primarily "non-Indian" (Writers Almanac's words). And all because John Sutter wanted to build a saw mill.
August 23, 2013 post by the Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook:
FRIDAY FACT: In February 1848 the Indiana legislature passed a law exempting widows from having to go through the probate process if their husbands' estates were valued at $200 or less (they still had to file an inventory listing all the assets).
Source: "General laws of the State of Indiana, passed at the thirty-second session of the General Assembly" (Indianapolis: John D. Defrees, 1848).
October 3, 2014 post by the Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook:
FRIDAY FACT: In February 1848, the Indiana legislature passed a property tax law giving the state government 25 cents out of every $100 of assessed property, plus a flat tax of 75 cents. Special taxes were also added to support the state institutions - 1 cent for the insane hospital, 1 cent for the blind school and 2 cents for the deaf school.
Source: General laws of the State of Indiana, passed at the thirty-second session of the General Assembly (Indianapolis: John D. Defrees, 1848).
1848, March 10 - The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is ratified ending the United States' war with Mexico.
1848, March 29 - Niagara Falls stops flowing for one day due to an ice jam
1848, December 5 - California Gold Rush
December 5, 2011 post by the US National Archives on Facebook:
Today in 1848, President James K. Polk triggered the Gold Rush of '49 by confirming that gold had been discovered in California. This photograph (ARC 296580) shows miners standing outside an unidentified mine shaft, in California's Sierra Nevada gold mining district. Would you have joined in the rush to California to hunt for gold?
December 5, 2023 post by the U.S. Census Bureau on Facebook:
#OnThisDay in 1848, President James Polk confirmed the discovery of gold in #California.
Fortune seekers rushed to the region, helping California’s population increase by more than 300 percent between 1850 and 1860.
Learn more about the California Gold Rush and its impact using #CensusData and records: January 2018
#CensusHistory #OTD #OnThisDayInHistory
1849, May 16 -
three black businessmen, Willis W. Elliot, Henry H. Canada and George W. Fisher, purchased at the public land auction a lot on the south side of Jefferson Street, between Francis and Hanna streets. In order to ensure that the property was removed from the tax rolls so that the congregation could build a church there, the three men sold the land to Reverend George Nelson Black, a thirty-four-year-old blacksmith who served as minister to the congregation, and then had the deed registered in the name of the “Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Fort Wayne, Indiana.” Read the rest of the story in Fort Wayne’s early African-American settlers blazed a trial that burns bright today by Tom Castaldi published March 28, 2013 in the History Center Notes & Queries blog.
1849 July to October - Fort Wayne's had a cholera epidemic, then again in 1852 and 1854. More than 600 people die when the epidemics were over. Read more in It Could Be Worse! a blog post by Carmen Doyle February 6, 2013 in The History CenterNotes & Queries Your Stories from Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana blog.
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