1850-1859 Timeline of Allen County, Indiana

Fort Wayne city directories start in 1858 with business and city resident addresses. Public domain copies before 1923 are listed on the City Directories page and embeded within the Timeline pages.

1851 - 1852 - 1853 - 1854 - 1856 - 1857 - 1858 - 1859


Indiana population was 988,416.

Author Esarey, Logan, 1874-1942 has several ebooks on Internet Archive.

1850: Fort Wayne's first pioneer dentist, Dr. Von Bonhurst, arrives.

1850s - Women's Sufferage begins leading to 70 years before the August 18, 1920 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. One of the early leaders of that battle in Indiana was Mary Frame Thomas, a brave Quaker activist who lived in Fort Wayne from 1849 to 1856. After she and her family moved to Richmond, Indiana, in 1856, Thomas became one of the leaders of the growing women's rights movement. And on Jan. 6, 1859, Thomas was the first woman to address the Indiana legislature, presenting a petition for the right of women to vote. She died in 1888 never getting the right to cast a vote. From Stand up, be counted Ballot's implications are too awesome to ignore published November 3, 2014 in The Journal Gazette newspaper.

1850s - prior to now, firefighting in urban America was performed by volunteers. They also functioned like community clubs for their members. These volunteer companies bought their own uniforms and equipment. Biggest investment was a fire engine. From June 27, 2013 Smithsonian American History Musuem on Twitter.

1850, July 9 - Zachary Taylor, 12th POTUS, dies in Washington, D.C., after serving only 16 months in office. Read Zachary Taylor 1784-1850 on Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog.

1850, July 24 - William C. Scott, the census enumerator, started recording the 7th U.S. Federal Census in Wayne Township.

1850, September 18 - Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 passed, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

1850, September 20 - the United States Congress abolished the slave trade in the District of Columbia as part of the legislative package called the Compromise of 1850from Today in History - September 20 both at the The Library of Congress.

Back to top


A traveler's impression of Indiana in 1851 (1954) - Beste, John Richard Digby, 1806-1885. Archive.org ebook.

1851: Fort Wayne's businessmen, who had already brought many German immigrants to the area, petition the state for help in encouraging more immigration. Local voters vote to exclude blacks from moving into Indiana as part of their vote on the new state constitution. The first street numbering system is established, and the Fort Wayne Times reports that young women appeared on the streets of the city wearing short dresses and bloomers. "The new style looked exceedingly well and is bound to prevail," it reported. Soon, other newspaper reports describe a near-riot that happened after another young woman appeared in public in the new style. Copied from 1000 TO 1900 Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper

1851, February 10 - the original handwritten 1851 Indiana Constitution was given to the Secretary of State in Indianapolis. 150 Delegates to the Constitutional Convention had met for 127 days in the chamber of the House of Representatives of the State House to create this document. See Indiana at 200 (37): 1851 Constitution Kept Us Debt Free by Andrea Neal published November 3, 2014 on Indiana Policy.org.

1851, May 27 - the Indiana State Board of Agriculture was organized with Governor Joseph Wright as president. This meeting conceived the Indiana State Fair as an annual agricultural exposition. From May 27, 2015 Indiana 2016 Tweet.

1851, June 5 - Uncle Tom's Cabin appears in serial form in an antislavery newspaper. For more read The First Chapter of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published on June 5, 1851published June 5, 2013 by JD Thomas on on the Accessible Archives blog.

1851, August 12 - Isaac Singer is granted a patent on his sewing machine. See his story 1851 Singer's Sewing Machine Patent Model on Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog.

1851, November 1 - the new Indiana Constitution of 1851 from the convention adjourned February 10, 1851 when the original handwritten constitution was given to the Secretary of State discussed on IN.gov, goes into effect. Constitution of 1851 as originally written on IN.gov.

On the last page of the Constitution of the State of Indiana 1851 history discussed in the The Indiana Historian in 2002 it shows 10% of the copies were printed in German! - Before the convention adjourned, it ordered 50,000 copies of the Constitution printed in English and 5,000 copies printed in German (Dunn, 496). The new Constitution was also published in many newspapers throughout the state. (Barnhart and Carmony, Indiana, 99). Posted by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook. See more on our German Heritage of Allen County, Indiana page.

Gesetze des Staates Indiana : passirt in der Extra-Sitzung ... flip book from HathiTrust. We have more German information on our German Heritage of Allen County, Indiana page. Both the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and the Indiana Constitution in 1851 were translated into German to secure support for their ratification. Copied from History is in session Courthouse,occupants getbook treatment published May 12, 2019 in The Journal Gazette newspaper. After the United States Constitution was drafted in 1787, the document was translated into German and Dutch for the German-and Dutch-speaking populations of Pennsylvania and New York. Copied from FOUNDING-ERA TRANSLATIONS OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION Christina Mulligan, Michael Douma, Hans Lind, & Brian Quinn at the University of Minnesota Law School.

1851, December 24 - fire at the Library of Congress destroys two thirds of its volumes, including most of Thomas Jefferson's library.

Back to top


1852 daguerreotype photo taken in Fort Wayne on Calhoun Street
Indiana Historical Society photo

This daguerreotype in Fort Wayne was taken on Calhoun Street. It is the oldest exterior photo in the Indiana Historical Society collection. (They have some undated photos that could be older.) At the time they purchased this image, it was one of the earliest known extant outdoor daguerreotypes made in Indiana. It measures 3 1/4 inches by 4 1/4 inches. Posted June 29, 2018 on their Facebook page and reposted June 29, 2018 by Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana on Facebook.


1852 photo Fort Wayne
The Hisorical Society photo

1852: The last remaining blockhouse of the old fort was demolished. Copied from 1000 TO 1900 Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper. The actual photo shown as a drawing in the book below is show in the blog A Daguerreotype of the Fort by John Beatty published October 28, 2010 in the History Center Notes & Queries blog. For more see our page Forts of Fort Wayne.

1852: Construction of the city's first railroad begins. Copied from 1000 TO 1900 Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper.

1852 - first steam locomotive arrived and one of the last removed in 1957 shown in photo of Lake Erie & Fort Wayne steam locomotive No. 1 originally built for the Wabash Railroad in 1906 and on May 8, 1957 was on its way to Swinney Park from THIS DAY IN HISTORY: May 8 in photos posted May 8, 2018 in The News-Sentinel newspaper.

1852, February 3 - the Indiana General Assembly requested information about Liberia from James Mitchell, agent of the recently formed Indiana Colonization Society that began providing funds to help Indiana free blacks emigrate to Liberia on the western coast of Africa. For more information see Indiana Emigrants to Liberia by Mary Anthrop guest editor in the March 2000, The Indiana Historian A Magazine Exploring Indiana History. On page 4 it states: The earliest report of African Americans living in what is now Indiana comes from a 1746 report on French settlements which states that forty white men and five black slaves lived in Vincennes on the Wabash River. Frenchmen living in the area continued to keep slaves throughout both the French and English occupations.

1852, October 20 - the first Indiana State Fair was held in what is now Military Park in downtown Indianapolis. See History of the Indiana State Fair at in.gov.


  1. The council establishes the city's first free schools, adding to the township schools that had served unincorporated areas since county government was organized. 
  2. The Fort Wayne Gas Light Co. is granted a franchise to provide artificial gas service in the city. In 1857, the company won a contract to light city streets.
  3. The city's first theater, Colerick Hall, opens on the north side of Columbia Street, between Clinton and Barr streets.
  4. The nickname "Summit City" is first applied to Fort Wayne by Times editor John W. Dawson. Copied from 1000 TO 1900 Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper


1854: The city celebrates the opening of the Ohio and Indiana Railroad. Copied from 1000 TO 1900 Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper.

1854: The office of the Standard, the city's anti-slavery newspaper edited by D.W. Burroughs, is egged, and he is threatened by supporters of slavery. Copied from 1000 TO 1900 Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper.

1854 Lanternier Flowers opened for business. After 158 years it closed in August 2012.


1856: The state legislature authorizes citizens to organize as regulators to help corral the bands of criminals who terrorize northern Indiana. Copied from 1000 TO 1900 Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper


1857, August 24 - the Panic of 1857 when the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company failed due to bad agricultural investments and embezzled funds. Read more in Fortunes Made and Lost: The Panic of 1857 on Ohio Memory.


There are three different url addresses for this directory:

  1. Williams' Fort Wayne directory, city guide, and business mirror : volume 1, 1858-'59 - Williams, C. S. (Calvin S.), No more published; later editions by C. S. Williams or bearing the title Williams' Fort Wayne Directory by other publishers
  2. Williams' Fort Wayne directory, city guide, and business mirror : volume 1, 1858-'59 (Volume yr.1858-1859) - Williams, C. S. (Calvin S.) - same directory different url?
  3. Fort Wayne, Indiana, city directory by R.L. Polk & Co.cn same 1858-1859 directory a 3rd url? 


1859: The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is builtStephen A. Douglas, running for president against Abraham Lincoln, speaks here to a crowd estimated at 60,000. The following year, Allen County residents cast 3,224 votes for Douglas and 2,552 for Lincoln, who wins the election. Copied from 1000 TO 1900 Millennium milestones in Fort Wayne in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper

1859, March - because of Indiana's large population of German immigrants, the Indiana legislature authorized laws passed in 1858 and 1859 translated into German, then distributed to county clerks and sold to the general public. Read more in the December 10, 2013 Tuesday Tidbit on the Indiana Genealogical Society Facebook page.

Back to top

Page updated: