Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fort Wayne Allen Co in 1816

(Fort Wayne Monthly “Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” – Mar 2016 No 134)
2016 Indiana Bicentennial Commission Legacy Endorsed Project

Fort Wayne Allen Co in 1816

By an Act of Congress on May 7, 1800 the American region north and west of the Ohio River was established as the Northwest Territory.  All land west of a north south line extending from the mouth of the Kentucky River through Fort Recovery (Ohio) and on up into Canada was dubbed the Indiana Territory.  After Ohio was admitted as a State in 1802, the line of what set its northern boundary was directly east from the southern point of Lake Michigan and was added to the Indiana Territory. Later in 1805, most of what we know as the State of Michigan was given the name Michigan Territory. The Illinois Territory was established in 1809. Indiana entered the Union as a State on December 11, 1816, when the town at the stronghold of Fort Wayne was celebrating its twenty-second birthday.

In a letter dated June 17, 1843, recalling his witnessing of the 1812 Siege of Fort Wayne, Captain McAfee described the community when he stated, “My recollection of the condition in which we found that place in September, 1812, when General Harrison’s army relieved it from the attacks of the Indians who had burnt and plundered every house outside of the fort, are yet fresh in my mind.”

Fort Wayne’s Commandant Major Whistler was transferred to Saint Louis in 1816 and replaced by Major Josiah N. Vose of the Fifth U.S. infantry.  Major Vose command consisted of a garrison of some fifty-six men. Among his first efforts was replacing the council house which had been burned during the Siege of 1812 when William Henry Harrison’s Army came to the rescue of Fort Wayne.  A two-story log structure, the council house stood on present-day East Main Street near the fire station and served the community.  For some time, the structure was used for a school and later repurposed as a residence for the noted pioneers Michael Hedekin and Louis T. Bourie

Josiah Vose had been commissioned a captain in the Twenty-first infantry in time for the War of 1812. During that conflict he was promoted to Major, the rank he enjoyed when assigned to the Fort Wayne post. Later in 1842 he earned the level of Colonel while commanding troops during the Second Seminole War. 

Historian Bert Griswold recorded a description of Vose quoting from a letter written in 1859 by Colonel John Johnston who had once served as Indian Agent at the Three Rivers:  “Major Vose was the only commandant of the fort who publicly professed Christianity. It was his constant practice ‘to assemble his men on the Sabbath day and read the Scriptures to them and talk with them in a conversational way about religion. The conduct of such a man can only be appreciated by persons familiar with the allurements and temptations of military life.’”

Change came to Fort Wayne in the year 1819 with the departure of the troops and the abandonment of the fort as a military stronghold. It was on April 19, that Vose and his men climbed into dugout pirogues on the Maumee River heading to a new assignment in Detroit with the heavy armament in tow.

 Left behind in Fort Wayne were four vacated buildings which were taken over by civil authorities represented by Indian Agent Major Stickney.  Griswold wrote: Even at this period, the shelter of the stockade brought a feeling of security, and the fort was not without its convenient firearms and supply of ammunition. The provision of these comfortable living quarters served also to attract many travelers, some of whom remained to stamp their names and characters upon the history of the village and the town.”

Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail,” which is broadcast. Mondays on WBOI, 89.1 FM; and “Historia Nostra” heard on Redeemer Radio 106.3 FM. Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog, “Our Stories,” at history centerfw.blogspot.com.


No comments:

Post a Comment