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 onSmithsonian 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.

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

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.

February 10, 2023 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook.

#OTD in 1851, the Indiana Constitutional Convention adjourned after eighteen weeks in session. That same day, the convention ordered 55,000 copies of the new constitution to be printed and circulated, and newspapers ran the text on their front pages. The convention suggested the new constitution be submitted to the people for ratification. The General Assembly agreed, and on February 14, 1851, Governor Joseph A. Wright directed election offers to organize the referendum. The total vote was 113,230 for ratification and 27,638 against. Hoosiers voted separately on Article 13, which provided that “no negro or mulatto shall come into or settle in the State, after the adoption of this Constitution.” It also voided all contracts made with Black Hoosiers, prohibiting business or real estate transactions, and fined white Hoosiers who offered employment to their Black neighbors. The fines were intended to support the removal of Black residents and their colonization in Liberia. The vote for exclusion of Black settlers was 113,828 out of a total vote of 135,701, according to the Indiana State Journal on August 30, 1851. This meant almost 84% of voters wanted to completely exclude people of color from the state. The Indiana Supreme Court case Smith v. Moody invalidated Article 13 in 1866. Learn more about the legal path for Black civil rights in Indiana through the Indiana Law Review: The Indiana Supreme Court and the Struggle Against Slavery by Sandra Boyd Williams.

The image below of Governor Wright is courtesy of the Indiana Historical Bureau.

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.

May 27, 2023 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:

#OTD in 1851, the State Board of Agriculture was formed, which facilitated the exchange of information about farming techniques and research findings. Historians Frederick Whitford and Andrew G. Martin noted that the state board "brought together politically astute individuals, progressive farmers, and agricultural leaders to discuss the current state of agriculture in Indiana."

The board compiled and published reports annually until 1907, and each volume "contained agricultural information dealing with the changing trends of agriculture, new production techniques, scientific papers, policy recommendations, and legislative proposals."

Read the first annual report of the board here: Annual report of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture ... 1851

The image below is courtesy of the Huntington City-Township Public Library, accessed Indiana Memory.

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 onSmithsonian National Museum of American History blog.

1851, October 15

October 15, 2023 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:

#OTD in 1851, Indiana's first woman's rights convention concluded at Dublin. Women and men from across the state who supported temperance, abolition, and suffrage attended the convention. Members adopted resolutions for political, social, and financial rights for women. In 1852, the convention formed the Indiana Woman's Rights Association to promote united action for woman's rights. The association demanded equality in all political rights and functions at the 1853 convention. It voted to be an auxiliary to the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1870 and later the Indiana Woman's Suffrage Association.

Learn more here: Indiana's First Woman's Rights Convention

The state historical marker picture below is courtesy of the Indiana Historical Bureau.

1851, November 1

November 1, 2022 post by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:

Indiana's second constitution went into effect. One hundred and fifty delegates met for 127 days in the House of Representatives chamber in the State House to draft the document. According to historian David Vanderstel, “The constitution that emanated from those four months of deliberations was not a radical revision of the original document nor did it significantly alter the existing form of state government. Rather, the proposed draft addressed numerous concerns and problems that had emerged during the formative years of the state.” Changes included a prohibition on incurring state debt, a commitment to public schools, an increase in the number of elected officials, and suffrage rights for foreign-born males. This new constitution also codified racism in Article XIII, which prohibited the immigration of African Americans into the state. Article XIII was repealed in 1866 when the Indiana Supreme Court ruled the provision unconstitutional because it was contrary to the newly passed 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Article XIII was formally removed in 1881.

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. Indiana Constitution, 1851 About this collection Reccurring issues brought support for a constitutional convention in 1850. The 150 delegates convened in the state capitol and 127 days later this document was completed. It did not significantly change the way the state was governed, but contained revisions which did have an impact. It has been amended and interpretations change as society evolves, but it continues to be the foundation for Indiana state and local government. At We Do History online digital collection by the Indiana Historical Society. 1851 constitution kept Indiana debt-free by Andrea Neal published in the November 3, 2014 Indiana Policy Review and also published November 5, 2014 in The News-Sentinel newspaper.

Constitution of Indiana made in 1851 by Potterf, Rex M Publication date 1900, on Archive.org.

Shown on the last page after a mention on page 10 of Indiana Constitution by the Indiana Historian A Magazine Exploring Indiana History at IN.govit 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). See more on our German Heritage of Allen County, Indiana page. One of the more disturbing items in the 1851 Constitution is Article 13, see our African-American 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.

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

1852 - This daguerreotype in Fort Wayne was taken on Calhoun Street. It is the oldest exterior photo in the Indiana Historical Societycollection. (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. Copied from a June 29, 2018 post on their Facebook page and reposted June 29, 2018 by Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana on Facebook. Calhoun Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana A man is seated in a carriage hitched to two horses. Buildings line the dirt street. This is one of the oldest known outdoor daguerreotypes made in Indiana. Exhibited as part of "Treasures from the Collections - Celebrating 175 Years: 1830-2005." Copied from Treasures from the Indiana Historical Society at the Indiana Historical Society also as Calhoun Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana at Indiana Memory digital library at IN.gov. The photo is a mirror image with words on the signs reversed.

1852 photo Fort Wayne
The History Center 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 photograph is shown as a mirror image drawing in the book below with the actual photograph in the blog A Daguerreotype of the Fort by John Beatty published October 28, 2010 in the History Center Notes & Queries blog. Also see our page Forts of Fort Wayne.

Page 143, RUINS OF THE LAST BLOCKHOUSE OF OLD FORT WAYNE, IN 1852 in The pictorial history of Fort Wayne, Indiana : a review of two centuries of occupation of the region about the head of the Maumee River by Griswold, B. J. (Bert Joseph), 1873-1927Taylor, Samuel R., Mrs, Publication date 1917 on Archive.org.

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.

October 20, 2023 post by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:

#OTD in 1852, the first Indiana State Fair opened at Military Park in Indianapolis. The State Fair was one way in which the newly formed State Board of Agriculture attempted to foster development in farm production and animal husbandry, establishing a venue for farmers to share ideas and theories as well as exhibit the products of their hard work. From October 20 to October 22, farmers gathered to display over 1,300 exhibit entries. Cash premiums were awarded in categories such as “best 3 year old bull,” “best stallion for heavy draft,” “best manure fork,” and “best lot of butter made from 5 cows in 30 consecutive days.” Approximately 30,000 Hoosiers visited the fair in its first year. After the Civil War ended, the fair moved to the former site of Camp Morton. It opened at its current site on 38th Street in 1892.

Learn more here: Indiana State Fair and Fairgrounds

The 1887 State Fair poster below is courtesy of the Indiana State Library.

October 20, 2023 post by the Indiana Historical Society on Facebook:

The first Indiana State Fair took place on this day in 1852 at the location of modern-day Military Park in downtown Indianapolis. Pictured here is the ‘diploma’ presented to Michael Ingermann of Hamilton County, an award for best plowing by a boy under 18 years of age. What’s your favorite memory of the Indiana State Fair?

1852, November 24

November 24, 2020 post by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:

On November 24, 1852, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the Decatur Circuit Court's conviction of Luther A. Donnell for aiding “fugitive slaves.” In 1847, Donnell assisted Caroline and her four children who sought freedom in Canada, violating an 1843 Indiana law which stated that "any person assisting a slave to escape or hindering any person in lawfully recovering any 'fugitive slave or person owing service,' upon conviction can be fined up to $500."

The Indiana Supreme Court stated that the section of the Indiana statute on which Donnell was indicted was unconstitutional based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Prigg v. Pennsylvania. Prigg v. Pennsylvania found that federal Fugitive Slave Acts superseded state acts. While considered a pro-slavery finding, Prigg v. Pennsylvania was used in this case and elsewhere to benefit the anti-slavery cause. Lawyers argued that since all state Fugitive Slave Laws were null-and-void, fugitive slave cases could not be tried at the state level, but rather at the national level.

Learn more about this case with this Indiana state historical marker: Donnell v State 1852

The image below, showing Luther Donnell, is courtesy of the magazine Great Escapes: The Underground Railroad.

Prigg v. Pennsylvania at Oyez. Prigg v. Pennsylvania at Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.


  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.

1853, September - the banner from the first day of public school in Fort Wayne was displayed as a 200 @ 200 2016 Bicentennial items at The History Center.

1853, September 23 - The "Pennsylvania" was the first boat to make the entire trip from Lake Erie to Evansville on the Wabash and Erie Canal from Wabash & Erie Canal Beginnings as the Central Canal at HistoricEvansville. This canal connected the Great Lakes with the Ohio River. Indiana had plans for at least 5 canals during the 19th century, but most remained uncompleted. The Wabash & Erie Canal, however, was over 460 miles long when it was finished, making it the longest canal ever built in North America. Copied from a September 23, 2022 post by Indiana's Historic Pathwayson Facebook.

200 @ 200 published January 2, 2016 by WANE 15 News on YouTube.


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.

1854, May 30

On this day in 1854, President Franklin Pierce signed into law one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in...

Posted by American Experience | PBS on Thursday, May 30, 2024

Thursday, May 30, 2024 post by American Experience | PBS on Facebook:

On this day in 1854, President Franklin Pierce signed into law one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in American history: the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Conceived by Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas as a solution to the question of slavery in the West, the law granted settlers the right to choose via "popular sovereignty" whether or not to allow slavery in their territories. The law effectively overturned the consensus established by the Missouri Compromise, leading to violent conflict between pro- and anti-slavery settlers—known as "Bleeding Kansas"—and propelling the nation toward civil war.

Opposition to the bill also led to the birth of a new political party: the Republicans.

1854, June 5 - the U.S. Senate ratified a treaty that recognized the Miami Nation of Indiana as a tribal group separate from the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. According to an essay published by the University of Illinois Department of Anthropology, U.S. officials forcibly removed most of the Miami people to Kansas in 1846. Several Miami families including descendants of Jean Baptiste Richardville and Francis Godfroy were allowed to remain in Indiana due to land allotments previously granted to their ancestors by the federal government. The 1854 treaty recognized the 148 “Indiana Miamis remaining scattered along the Upper Wabash Valley of Indiana from Lafayette to Fort Wayne.” Federal recognition of the Miami of Indiana was terminated in 1897. In 1937, these Miami descendants incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Their repeated attempts to reclaim federal recognition have been unsuccessful. Learn more here: The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma v Rex Walden et. al. Copied from a June 5, 2022 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook


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.

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