Boundaries before statehood

Moving lines, making changes

More than a decade of changing boundaries for the Indiana Territory came before statehood.

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. After Ohio was admitted as a state in 1803, the line of what would become Indiana Territory’s northern boundary, too, was drawn. 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 originally, but the starting point was moved east to the mouth of the Great Miami River when Ohio became a state.

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, and from that date until 1816, the Indiana Territory included what is the present state of Indiana.

Indiana entered the Union as a state on Dec. 11, 1816 , when the town at the stronghold of Fort Wayne was celebrating its 22nd birthday.

Fort Wayne’s Commandant Maj. Whistler was transferred to St. Louis in 1816 and replaced by Maj. Josiah N. Vose of the 5th U.S. Infantry. Vose’s command consisted of a garrison of some 56 men. Among his first efforts was replacing the council house which had been burned during the siege of 1812 before 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 today’s fire station. For some time, the structure was used for a school, and it was later repurposed as a residence for the noted pioneers Michael Hedekin and Louis T. Bourie.

Historian Bert Griswold recorded a description of Vose, quoting from a letter written in 1859 by Col. 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 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 and headed 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 Maj. 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.”

First appeared in the March 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

Along the Heritage Trail

Find more here...

Latest Articles