Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dearly Departed 2014

by Nancy McCammon-Hansen

Saturday is Dearly Departed at Lindenwood Cemtery, located on the west end of Main Street. This free program runs from 2 to 5 p.m. and features a look at some of Fort Wayne’s more notable residents who are buried there AND....have streets named for them. 

You can read more about my love of studying history through headstones at but for now, here’s a look at who will be featured in this year’s tour.

Dearly Departed is sponsored by ARCH with assistance from the History Center.

Harry W. Baals - Section C, Lot 14 Most newcomers to Fort Wayne, or those not familiar with the city’s past, will remember the name Harry Baals as a suggestion for the name of what is now Citizen’s Square. Baals was mayor of Fort Wayne and a former postmaster. One of Baals’ major accomplishments was to garner Federal funds for various city projects in a time when a Republican office holder (1935) had a harder time than he would have today. But Baals was successful and the city was able to undergo street construction, improvements to the City Light and Powerworks and the erection of a $5 million sewage treatment plant.

Sylvanus F. Bowser - Section I, Lot 7 Bowser founded the S.F. Bowser Company in 1885 on Creighton Avenue (the former police station was in the building until moving into the Rousseau Center). Bowser’s design for a water pump eventually led to the invention of the gasoline pump. To learn more about Sylvanus Bowser, go to our blog and read:

Joseph Brackenridge - Section J, Lot 86 Brackenridge was a judge, first appointed to the Courts of Common Pleas in 1857. He ran for re-election in 1858 and 1860 and served until 1864. Brackenridge had been a Circuit Court Judge in 1846 and was Allen County Prosecuting Attorney from 1846-1851.

Louis Curdes - Section I, Lot 21 Lt. Louis Curdes was Fort Wayne’s first WWII ace, piloting a P-38 Lockheed Lightning. On April 29, 1943, he was attacked by a dozen German planes. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was involved in other major battles, was shot down over Italy and taken prisoner, escaping and reaching Allied lines. He was then assigned to the Pacific theater and achieved the distinction of being only one of three airmen to destroy German, Italian and Japanese aircraft.

Captain Asa Fairfield - Section B, Lot 114 Much of the property south of Creighton was once owned by Fairfield as part of his farm. This property was annexed in 1894 and made a part of the city. Fairfield was a former sea captain who moved to Fort Wayne from Maine in 1835. He constructed the first boat to operate on the canal.

Oscar G. Foellinger - Section A, Lot 90 The Foellingers were one of the most influential German-American families in Fort Wayne in the 20th century. Oscar became general manager of The News in 1906, after joining the company only twelve years prior as a junior accountant. Oscar died unexpectedly in 1936 on a hunting trip in Canada and his daughter Helene became publisher. The Foellinger Foundation is a lasting legacy of this family and a tribute to Oscar’s campaign to “Build Fort Wayne”.

Colonel David N. Foster -  Section G, Lot 178 Foster was one of the owners of the Foster Shirtwaist Factory. You can see a shirtwaist in our gallery Allen County Innovation. Foster and his brother Samuel donated the land where Foster Park now is located near Bluffton and Old Mill Roads between 1912 and 1913. This occurred as part of a move to improve the overall appearance of Fort Wayne and followed upon George Kessler’s plans for beautification.

John B. Franke - Section I, Lot 59 Franke was the founder of Perfection Biscuit Company in 1901. Franke donated the 80 acres of land on North Sherman for the park that bears his name.

Bert J. Griswold - Section I, Lot 34 If you’re a reader of the Old Fort News, the magazine published by the Historical Society, you’ve likely seen a Griswold cartoon. You’ll find a number of his illustrations in the two-part “History of Fort Wayne” that is for sale in our gift shop. Griswold was the author of “A Pictorial History of Fort Wayne” published in 1917. You can see his portrait in the stairwell at the History Center or on our blog at

Olaf N. Guldlin - Section G, Lot 174 Guldlin Park is named for Olaf in one book and another says the park was named for his wife. Olaf outfitted the children’s playground at this park at  his own expense. The play equipment was later destroyed by river ice one winter. Olaf was married to Addie Bleekman Guldin, who was a major advocate for the establishment of playgrounds for children. See and

Allen & Emerine Jane Hamilton - Section H, Lot 27 Allen was a sheriff in 1824 shortly after Allen County was formed. He formed a partnership with Chief Richardville and amassed a great deal of wealth through land purchases from Richardville’s land reserve. He became postmaster in 1828 and joined with other “civic leaders” in businesses. Hamilton is said to have fraudulently acquired some of his land. Emerine Hamilton, Allen’s wife, took an active interest in the promotion of women’s rights, particularly as they related to ownership of property and the abolishment of “legislative divorces” that allowed men to divorce their wives and take their possessions. She was a friend of Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony and pressed the issue of suffrage at First Presbyterian Church. At Emerine’s urging, Allen “introduced a motion in the Presbyterian assembly that ‘the ladies be allowed to vote on the question before the meeting’.” This was not a popular position to take at the time but the Hamiltons prevailed, women gained voting privileges and Elder James Robinson, who vehemently opposed the measure, left the congregation.

Samuel Hanna - Section B, Lots 60 & 61 Hanna was an influential businessman in the early days of Fort Wayne and opened a trading post at the corner of what would become Barr and Columbia Streets in 1819. He was a long-time investor in his adopted cit. You can see his portrait in the stairwell at the History Center or by reading Hanna was highly in favor of a canal linking Fort Wayne with the Great Lakes. He became a canal commissioner in 1828. Land values in Fort Wayne increased and Hanna gained wealth by being a major purchaser of property. See also

William Rockhill - Section F, Lot 5 Rockhill was prominent in Fort Wayne in the same time period as Hanna. Rockhill’s land holdings eventually became the West Central neighborhood which at one time was the most prestigious spot in Fort Wayne in which to own a residence. The Rockhill House hotel, built in 1840, was considered the most elegant building in Fort Wayne during its heyday.

Henry W. Rudisill - Section H, Lot 1 Rudisill, a contemporary of Hanna and Rockhill,  built a flour mill on the St. Joseph River. He later constructed a major woolen mill for carding of wool into yarn. Rudisill was instrumental in urging John Barr to bring German immigrants to the city to work. In 1841, Rudisill and S.C. Freeman joined forces to create a regulator group after a number of citizens expressed frustration with the local marshal. The Wayne Guards were short-lived and just one of many groups that tried to bring law and order to the city.

Colonel Thomas Swinney - Section D, Lot 86 Swinney built a federal-style mansion near the St. Mary’s River which still stands today and is the home of The Settlers. The house was the original location of the Historical Society. Swinney is also remembered as a farmer, speculator and entrepreneur. The grounds of the Allen County Fair were once located on a part of Swinney’s farm property. See the blog post and also

Information for this blog post comes from The History of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana and Twentieth Century History of Fort Wayne by John Ankenbruck

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