Celebrate! William Wells
Who: The Wells Corridor Business Association and Fort Wayne Outfitters
When: 4-9 p.m. Saturday
at the Wells Street Bridge at Superior and Wells streets.
*4-6:30 p.m. ARCH “Boat, Bike and Walk About” tours
*5-6 p.m. Family canoe races
*5 and 7 p.m. William Wells storytelling by authors Joe Krom and William Heath
*6 p.m. William Wells Day Proclamation by Mayor Tom Henry
*6:30-7:30 p.m. Mark's Ark native animals
*7:30 p.m. Watermelon-eating contest with celebrity judge
*8 p.m. Luminarias and braziers along St. Marys River
Learn more: visitfortwayne.com/event/celebrate-william-wells
For anyone interested in learning more about the history of Fort Wayne, this Saturday presents a unique opportunity when the city will celebrate one of downtown's most historic sites, the Wells Street Bridge.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the death of the man the bridge is named for. To celebrate his life, the Wells Corridor Business Association will hold the third annual William Wells celebration.
The bridge was named in honor of Wells, a native of Jacob's Creek, Pa. Wells was kidnapped by the Miami Indians when he was 12 years old and was raised by their chief, Little Turtle.
According to Judi Wire, president of the Wells Corridor Business Association, Wells “was given all of the property from Wells Street over to the St. (Joseph) River, and it was known as the Wells Preemption.”
The street and the bridge were both named after Wells because he owned the land; however, it is still a major historic site in Fort Wayne because of the ornate, rare style of the bridge, which no longer carries vehicle traffic.
Like the current downtown beautification effort, the bridge was an attempt to make the area more attractive. The iron Whipple truss-style bridge was built by Alvin John Stewart in 1884.
Wells himself, though not very well-known among the public, was a brave fighter and protected his family, both Native American and white.
“He was just a really, really interesting guy that we don't pay much attention to in our history,” Wire said. “He got reconnected with his white family, and when they were going to be attacked by the Potawotami, he took off and rode to Fort Dearborn to where his family was, and on the way back he was killed (in 1812) by the Potawatomi, and they ate his heart because he was so courageous.”
“It's a fun time; it's all family-oriented and almost all of it is free. (Everyone) can just come out and have fun and learn some history at the same time and learn about why we are where we are,” Wire said.
There will be two Native American storytellers, Three Paws and Gerry, interacting with the public, as well as storytelling by Joe Krom and William Heath.
It is a free event with activities and demonstrations for the whole family, with children's events starting at 4 p.m. and winding down around 8 p.m.
A beer garden will be available for the adults, serviced by Hall's Restaurants.
Food provided by Big-Eyed Fish will be available until 9 p.m.