by Carmen Doyle
(A brief reason why some things in Fort Wayne were named that)
(The dead guys with streets and places named after them)
It’s the holidays and you’re sitting around trying to think of ways to impress visiting relatives with how knowledgeable you are about your town, or you’re bored and don’t want to go outside because of the cold. If you’re like me, you probably start to wonder why a place got called by that name. So, here is a cheat sheet of some of the most recognizable names around town. Have fun amazing your friends and neighbors with how smart you are!
Aboite- French name, meaning minnow
Allen- Col. John Allen, a lawyer who became a soldier in the War of 1812.
Art Smith- Daredevil Pilot was known as “The Birdboy of Fort Wayne”. Artifacts relating to Art are on display at the History Center. http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2011/02/flying-high-in-fort-wayne.html
Barr, John- merchant who bought the first tract of land in Fort Wayne. Tract is now the center of downtown. See the blog post http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/09/barr-street-market-trading-under-trees.html
Bass, Col. Sion St. Clair- Civil War hero. Had an iron manufacturing company later sold to brother John. Died as a result of wounds received at Battle of Shiloh. Buried in Lindenwood Cemetery.
Bass, John- built Brookside (now on the campus of St. Francis University) Ran Bass Foundry.
Bishop Dwenger- 2nd bishop of Fort Wayne diocese.
Bishop Luers- first bishop of Fort Wayne diocese. Helped to build the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Buried in Cathedral.
Cass, Lewis. Senator. Remembered in Fort Wayne for falling off a gangplank and into the canal.
Centlivre, Charles- Brewery. Statue is on top of Gas House. Centlivre Brewery poster available for purchase in History Center gift shop. Also check out Old Fort News, Vol. 75, no. 1, article on “Seeing Fort Wayne History through beer ads”
Chief Richardville House National Historic Landmark owned by History Center.
Ewing, George- Col., helped to find Frances Slocum decades after her capture.
Ewing, William- merchant
See the History Center blog post: http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-ewings-and-indian-trade-on.html
Fairfield, George- merchant, contemporary of Samuel Hanna
Foster, - manufacturer. Helped to establish Foster Park. Portrait is on Grand Staircase at the History Center.
Francis Slocum- Kidnapped by Indians at age 5. When found decades later by birth family, she was so thoroughly Indian that she no longer spoke English. She refused to go back to her birth family.
Hamilton, Allen- merchant and Indian Agent. The History Center digital collection has communication between Allen Hamilton and Chief Richardville
Hanna- Samuel Hanna. Businessman; One of 1st associate judges for Allen County; bought lots of land, extending into Wabash. He was one of the leaders in building Wabash-Erie Canal. Hanna’s family portrait is in our digital collection. For more info, visit the History Center blog http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/07/samuel-hanna-founder-of-fort-wayne.html
Harrison, William Henry- war hero, won the Battle of Tippecanoe, ran for President with John Tyler- “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” Known for being the President with the shortest term in office, dying after only month, due to pneumonia. (He made a long inauguration speech, in the middle of winter, without an overcoat) see History Center blog http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2012/02/short-presidency-but-lasting-impact-on.html
Johnny Appleseed- Real name was John Chapman. He is buried in Fort Wayne, at Johnny Appleseed Park. The History Center has on display a flask that belonged to him. The gift shop has the “Chapman Documents” which are replicas of a deed signed by Johnny, as well as a 2003 Old Fort News on Johnny Appleseed.
Kekionga- means “blackberry patch” Miami village that became Fort Wayne
Lawton, Henry- General in Civil War. Career Army, fought in Indian War against Sioux and Apache. Helped to capture Geronimo. Fought in Spanish-American War; killed in Philippines. Statue in Lakeside Park. (Lawton Park used to be North Side Park)
Lincoln- Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President. Lincoln Tower and Lincoln Highway are named in his honor, although he never won the Allen County vote.
Little Turtle- leader (war chief) of Miami. Sword is on display in History Center. He won the Battle of Kekionga in 1791, one of the worst defeats of the U.S. Army by Native Americans. Recognizing that it would be better for the Native Americans to try and live peacefully with whites, signed Treaty of Greenville. Daughter Sweet Breeze married William Wells. Statue stands in Headwaters Park. For more info, the gift shop has a pamphlet on Little Turtle, called “Little Turtle: The Man and his Land”. Or you can visit the History Center blog http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/06/meshekinnoquah-little-turtle.html There are also several blog entries from July 2012 on Little Turtle, quoting back issues of the Old Fort News
Lindenwood Cemetery- historic cemetery in Fort Wayne. Many of Fort Wayne’s founders are buried here.
McCullough, Hugh- Banking. Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln’s second cabinet, also under Andrew Johnson, and later Chester Arthur.
Mother George- Civil War nurse. For more info, visit the History Center blog http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/11/eliza-mother-george.html
Nebraska- named because it was so far away from the rest of Fort Wayne
Pontiac- Native American Chief
Richardville, Chief Jean Baptiste de Richardville. His father was a French fur trader, and his mother was the sister of Little Turtle. Wealthiest Native American in the U.S at the time of his death. Indian name was Pechewa (wildcat). Business and industry came from mother. Civil Chief of Miami. See History Center website for more information.
Rockhill, William- one of the first men to purchase land in Fort Wayne. He later became a state representative.
Rudisill, Henry- prominent in developing what became St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and then in developing Trinity English Lutheran. For many years, he was one of the few people in Fort Wayne who could speak German and English.
Shawnee- Tribe of Native Americans, led by Tecumseh.
Swinney- Thomas Swinney. Swinney Homestead. For more information, you can pick up a copy of Graceful Plutocracy put together by The Settlers.
Tecumseh- Leader of the Shawnee. He was hostile to whites.
Wayne- General Anthony Wayne. Revolutionary War. Worked with George Washington. Won Battle of Fallen Timbers. Known as “Mad Anthony” because of his bravery. His statue is in Freimann Square.
William Wells- He was captured by Native Americans. Little Turtle was his father-in-law. Wells worked with Little Turtle and the Miami, before deciding to join the whites and work with Gen. Wayne. Spy Run is named for him. Wells was killed at Ft. Dearborn in Chicago. For more info, visit the History Center blog http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/10/william-wells-miami-apekonit.html and
Wolf & Dessauer- THE place to shop for Christmas. Downtown holiday exhibits of Santa in his sleigh and the Wreath are from the old W&D’s. You can also look at the History Center virtual exhibit on the legendary store!