Michigan City Public Library
Sand dune
100 E. 4th Street, Michigan City, IN 46360, phone 219 - 873 - 3044 fax 219 - 873 - 3067

               
      People From Our Past




 

The criteria used for selection of People From Our Past were general interest, diversity, and the representation of different periods of time in our community's history. Any attempt to select the most important, or influential, or even colorful, people from the past would, of course, be impossible. It is merely hoped that the reader will find these stories of some of the People from Our Past informative and interesting.

The Pottawattomie Indians   
Eviction by Civilization

As George Washington took the oath as first President of the United States and the 18th Century approached its final decade, the present area of Michigan City still was a wilderness. Buffalo roamed in great numbers. The Pottawattomie Indians dwelled in and governed these lands. But fate held cruel turns for both the bison and the Indian.

In 1790, a severe succession of winter storms first left snow four to five feet deep in what now is Northern Indiana, then covered the snow with freezing rain. Buffalo could not walk through the deep and ice-covered snow. And they were too heavy to walk on top of it, as did other animals. Thousands of them perished from hunger or were killed by Indian hunters and predatory animals. The few bison which survived the terrible winter migrated west of the Mississippi.

The Pottawattomie Indians were first formally recognized by the United States when leaders of the tribe joined with other Indian leaders in signing a treaty at Fort Harmar, Ohio, on Jan. 8, 1789, confirming earlier arrangements for cession of Indian lands. At the time, they were a proud and powerful people - dominant occupants of the land on the southern and eastern shores of Lake Michigan. In less than 50 years, Indiana Pottawattomies would be marched from the state by the white man in the name of "progress.

The Pottawattomie were an Algonquin tribe, whose culture, language and particular traditions united them to prehistoric Obijwa and Ottawa of the eastern woodlands. According to Indian legend, the Pottawattomie, Chippewa and Ottawa were all members of a single tribe which came down from the north and arrived at the upper region of Lake Huron at an early time and later divided into three separate tribes.

The Pottawattomie are believed to have lived at a very early date in the upper part of Michigan's lower peninsula. But they were driven north and West by Indian adversaries, including the Iroquois, into the upper peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin. There they were harassed by the Sioux. In 1641, they had relocated at Sault St. Marie. Claude Allouex, a Jesuit missionary, reported meeting about 300 Pottawattomie warriors in that area in 1667. In 1670 some of the Pottawattomie were reported to be living on the islands in the mouth of Green Bay - where they were visited by Sieur de LaSalle in 1679. He described them as very friendly. At that time, the Pottawattomie migration southward already had begun.

The beginning of the 18th Century found Pottawattomie villages on the Milwaukee and St. Joseph rivers. About 1765, the tribe took possession of part of the state of Illinois. They extended their territory eastward, through Indiana and over southern Michigan, and gradually south to the Wabash River.

By the arrival of the 19th Century, the Pottawattomie nation consisted of about 50 villages and they were in complete possession of the country surrounding lower Lake Michigan. As the Iroquois and Sioux had evicted the Pottawattomie from earlier lands, they now did the same to the Illinois and Miami tribes.

The name Pottawattomie, which is derived from the Chippewa language, in all probability means "People of the place of fire." (Apparently the tribe had gained fame for skill in lighting fires for Indian councils.)

The Pottawattomie tribe had two divisions. Those who moved south from the forests and islands of northern Wisconsin into the prairie lands of southern Lake Michigan became known as the Prairie Pottawattomies - or Mascoutens. Those who remained in the forests of northern Michigan and Wisconsin were known as the Forest Pottawattomies or the Pottawattomie of the Woods.

The influence of the Pottawattomie on Michigan City is evident. Indian trails converged on Trail Creek. A north-south road, built the length of Indiana after a Pottawattomie treaty ceded land for the road to the government, was Michigan City's reason for being. The first road between Michigan City and LaPorte when the two towns came into existence followed an Indian trail. Pioneers coming by wagon or horseback to their new homes in the wilderness that bordered Lake Michigan came by Indian trails. Early county and state roads followed the trails, as do many of today's highways.

A village inside the city of Michigan City, a country club and golf course, and a road all are named for the Pottawattomie. It was because of the Pottawattomies, of course, that Father Marquette came into Trail Creek and to the spring near Memorial Park which bears his name as do a high school, street, and shopping mall.

It is unlikely that one of the 50 Pottawattomie villages stood on the present site of Michigan City, which was too swampy and sandy for such a use. The Indians required land suitable for farming as well as hunting.

But they obviously had councils and campsites here - as witness the Marquette visit. And warriors apparently came to the Michigan City swamps to secure poisonous plants which they used to make their arrowheads more lethal. Arrowheads have been found in most outlying parts of town - but pottery and other evidence of village life have not.

This also appears to have been the scene of Indian battles. War clubs, tomahawks, flint scalping knives and other artifacts have been found. Relics and skeletons unearthed on a hill near Eighth and Walker streets indicated an Indian battle took place there. A grooved stone ax was found at the site of Elston High School.

Besides finding Michigan City's site a good place for a fight, it's been theorized that the Indians also may have been the first "tourists" to discover Michigan City's shoreline virtues as a summer place. As one writer put it: "These happy lands were loved by the Indians. They knew the peaceful sheltering hills around Trail Creek as attractive resorts where they could rest and escape their everyday worries ... and seclude their families while on the warpath."

Historians say there were villages and burial grounds near Tremont, and this entire area was a popular Indian hunting and fishing locale. The Indians' influence also is evident today, of course, in such names as Wanatah, Camp Topenebee, Winamac and others.

The 19th Century found Indians and soldiers walking the lake shore trails between here and Chicago as part of a military mail route from Detroit to Chicago's Fort Dearborn. For more than 20 years, Trail Creek was a resting place and Hoosier Slide a campsite.

Joseph Bailly, the French-Canadian fur trader who settled on a bluff above the Little Calumet River with his Indian wife, Marie LaFebre, was the first settler in the northern part of Indiana. He built a chapel in 1822 and encouraged Indians who traveled the trail to pause, pray and trade.

Even in the mid-1830s, when the Pottawattomie dominance in the area had passed, Indians came often to Michigan City. A history of the period states: "Indians were frequent visitors. In the spring they came down the lake shore from Michigan and Wisconsin bringing fruits and birch bark baskets - or cranberries, maple sugar, furs and Indian work to exchange for goods kept by the store keepers. They usually camped on the lake shore near Hungry Hollow."

The reported visit of Father Marquette occurred in April of 1675. He had been severely ill for more than a year, and was being taken to St. Ignace, Mich., where he had chosen to be buried. He was accompanied by many faithful Pottawattomie followers, who had been frequent visitors to his cabin near Chicago. Indians had invited him to preach to them here, the story goes, and he accepted. His journey ended near Marquette, Mich., where he died - but his followers later made good his wish and took his remains to St. Ignace for burial.

Priests such as Father Marquette had followed French explorers into the Pottawattomie country. The explorers were searching for a route to China and extending French interests in the New World, an objective of King Louis XIV. The missionaries told the Indians about Christianity.

LaSalle, one of the young explorers commissioned by the king, is the first white man to leave an actual record that he visited this spot. In 1681, he passed Trail Creek in late December and wrote a description sufficient for the stream to be shown on a 1684 map. A federation which LaSalle built up among the Indians when he met them at the great council oak near South Bend in May of 1681 made it possible for the Western Indians to defeat the Iroquois in 1700. The victory made it safe for the Indian tribes to establish permanent villages in Indiana.

The Pottawattomie, who had signed a friendship treaty with the French while still residents of the Lake Superior country in 1671, remained allied with them until the peace of 1764. That year, the Pottawattomie and eight other tribes had taken part in massacres and scalpings involving English traders and their families at British forts. But the uprising, led by Ottawa Chief Pontiac, ultimately failed. Pontiac was murdered by an Indian, and that led to a fierce war that pitted the Pottawattomie, Miamis and Kickapoos against the Illinois tribe. The Illinois were virtually annihilated in 1765, the final fight taking place on Starved Rock in the Illinois River.

The British supplanted France as the dominant European force in the New World - just in time for the War of Independence.

The history of Michigan City by Rollo Oglesbee and Albert Hale notes, "The war came, and though the battle fields were in the east, the echoes of the struggle were heard even on the banks of Trail Creek." General Washington was authorized to accept Indians in his armies and offer them rewards for prisoners. The British went further and offered higher rewards for scalps. "Many of the western tribes, including our Pottawattomie, espoused the cause of King George and traveled far to fight his battles."

They didn't have to travel far to fight one of them - a force of British and Indians joined to defeat 18 Americans in a battle Dec. 5, 1780, atop a wooded dune about 500 feet from Marquette Spring in what is now Memorial Park.

On Sept. 3, 1783, by the treaty that terminated the Revolution, this area became legally American soil. Says the Oglesbee-Hale history: "The frontier kept pushing doggedly west and the American flag was approaching the southeast shore of Lake Michigan. Twenty years after the close of the Revolution the stars and stripes were seen at the mouth of Trail Creek." In the 1789 treaty signing at Fort Harmar, Ohio referred to previously, the Pottawattomie and the United States had established "a league of peace and amity."

With establishment of the Northwest Territory in 1787, the Oglesbee-Hale book observes, "the day of the backwoodsmen was come in Indiana. The red men, inspired by their own reluctance to give up their hunting grounds and incited and armed by the British on the north and the Spanish on the south, held him back, but he marched on, over the dead and scalped bodies of his murdered neighbors and through the hot ashes of their frontier homes, and even the government could not restrain him from crossing the treaty boundary. He sneaked over the line in defiance of ,law and loudly demanded an army when the rightful proprietors of the soil sought to dispossess him."

American soldiers sent to the territory were defeated in 1789 and 1790 battles by Indian warriors - including Pottawattomies - led by Chief Little Turtle of the Miamis. The worst single American military defeat until Pearl Harbor occurred in Indiana 11 miles east of present-day Portland on Nov. 4, 1791, when Chief Little Turtle's warriors attacked a U.S. military expedition. The American dead numbered 632 and the wounded nearly 300.

In a bloody battle in 1794, the Indians were beaten by an army commanded by Gen. Anthony Wayne. That led to signing of a treaty at Fort Greenville, Ohio on Aug. 3, 1795, which exchanged 25,000 square miles of Indian country for $20,000 in goods plus an annual allowance valued at nearly $10,000.

Ironically, Little Turtle, who had inflicted such a toll on the Americans, was a friend of the United States the rest of his life and visited Presidents on four occasions, seeking a better life for his people.

Forty Pottawattomies went from Lake Michigan to Greenville for the five-week council that resulted in the treaty. Among the cessions was land in Pottawattomie territory six miles square at the mouth of the Chicago River.

But hostilities were not yet to cease. Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief who has been called "the greatest of American Indians" by some historians, was the strategist in a final effort to ally the tribes and repel the white invasion. Plotting with him was his brother, Elkswatawa who was a spellbinding orator known as "the Prophet." Tecumseh visited all the lake tribes, and others as far as Canada, the Mississippi area and Florida. The still-hopeful British supplied arms and supplies.

But the battle came, Nov. 7, 1811, near Lafayette, at the time when Tecumseh was absent in the south. The Indians were routed by the forces of Gen. William Henry Harrison. Many feared pursuit and fled to the lake hills 100 miles north for refuge.

England and America were approaching another state of war - and the British again enlisted the aid of Tecumseh and other Indians. Most of the battles of the War of 1812 were fought on the Great Lakes. After the British captured the fort at Mackinac, the American general surrendered both Detroit and the Michigan territory, which included the Trail Creek region, to the English. A group of soldiers, women and children left Fort Dearborn in Chicago to go to Fort Wayne, traveling first along the lakeshore. When they reached the sand hills, Pottawattomie rear-guard escorts for the party suddenly attacked. Twenty-six soldiers, two women and 12 children were killed. Some Pottawattomie also took part in the Massacre of the River Raisin, near Detroit. On Oct. 5, 1813, Gen. Harrison defeated the British and Indians at the great battle of the Thames, in which Tecumseh, wearing the uniform of a British general, was killed. "The Prophet" sank into obscurity as a common medicine man, drawing a British pension until his death in 1834.

United States sovereignty had been restored in Michigan and in the valley of Trail Creek.

The treaty with the Pottawattomie which resulted in the founding of Michigan City was signed Oct. 16, 1826, at the mouth of the Mississinewa River near Peru. The object was to obtain land needed for a north-south road from the Ohio River to Lake Michigan. All the Pottawattomie chiefs were in attendance at the treaty ceremony.

Most of the Indians couldn't sign their names. The white men wrote the Indian names, spelling them the way they sounded, and each Indian placed an "X" after his name. It quite clearly was the white man's wording on the treaty: "As an evidence of the attachment which the Pottawattomie tribe feels toward the American people, and particularly to the soil of Indiana, and with a view to demonstrate their liberality, and benefit themselves, by creating facilities for traveling and increasing the value of their remaining country, the said tribe does hereby cede to the United States a strip of land, commencing at Lake Michigan and running thence to the Wabash River, one hundred feet wide for a road..." The Indians also ceded to the government one square mile of good land touching the road for every mile of its length. The government planned to sell that land to settlers, using the money to finance the building of the road.

The Pottawattomie were to receive an annuity of $2,000 per year for 25 years, another $2,000 for education, and more than $30,000 in goods. The U.S. also agreed to build for them a mill on the Tippecanoe River and provide for them a miller.

Before the road was built and Michigan City came into being as a community, there was one final Indian attempt to block the white migration.

Black Hawk, a Sauk chief, came to Trail Creek in the autumn of 1831 seeking an alliance of the Pottawattomies with the Sacs and Foxes. But Pottawattomie chiefs Pokagon, Topenebee, Chadonnais and others convinced their warriors not to join Black Hawk's army. The chief went back to Illinois and raised his force there. Settlers in this area hastily erected a little fort at Door Village. The following spring, Black Hawk was easily defeated in a series of skirmishes. One of the captains opposing him was a long, lanky Kentuckian named Abraham Lincoln.

The Pottawattomie made many treaties with the American government. More than 40 are recorded. The biggest of them all was signed at Chicago on Sept. 26,1833, ceding more than five million acres of land in Illinois and Wisconsin to the United States. The Indians were to receive a like amount of land west of the Mississippi, along the Missouri River, plus nearly one million dollars in money and goods.

Settlers in Indiana were anxious to claim the land which had been assigned as Indian reservations under prior treaties. In 1836, Pottawattomie chiefs from reservations which occupied much of Marshall County agreed to sell their land for $1 an acre. They were given two years to vacate the land.

Some friends of the Indians - such as Rev. Isaac McCoy of Carey Mission near Niles - also had concluded it would be best for the Pottawattomie to move west - not for the selfish interest of the white man, but on the contrary, "so they might be free from the vices of the white man."

The authors of the Oglesbee-Hale history make the same point. They observe that while the Indians had welcomed French traders for more than a hundred years, they had a different outlook when they watched the wave of American settlers which moved west after the Revolutionary War - occupying the Indians' lands, clearing their forests, eliminating their hunting grounds. This history book states that the Indians had been "inclined to be friendly with the whites until the aggressions and vices of the civilized invaders made friendship and respect impossible.

"The Indians became first suspicious and then hostile when they saw the whites, preaching a mystical and incomprehensible gospel of salvation, engaged in practices that violated every principle of the red man's ethical code and at the same time defying the only real estate laws the savages knew anything about, erecting forts in their hunting grounds, claiming sovereignty over their lands and driving them slowly and irresistibly to new homes they did not want.

"Drunkenness, stealing, murder for the purposes of robbery, other unknown vices, new diseases - all these were among the introductions of civilization which the untutored savage could not understand but which he gradually adopted or acquired (Topenebee, leader of his people for a half-century, became addicted to drink, to a point that he would sell his last acre for whiskey. While drunk, he fell from his horse and was killed July 26, 1826).

"The Indians loved their lands with savage passion and those who dwelt in the Trail Creek region (away from the swamp and sand of the lakeshore) had special grounds for their attachment to the soil, for it was rich in all the natural resources upon which they depended for their sustenance. Bison were on the prairies, beaver were among the shaded streams, the woods had plenty of bear, deer were all about, and fish, fowl and small game abounded, besides which in season, wild fruits grew everywhere in profusion."

Harriett Martineau, prominent Englishwoman who traveled through this area in 1836 and later wrote a book about her journey (see fuller account elsewhere in this publication), included this observation:

"(After leaving Niles) we crossed the St. Joseph by a rope ferry. As we drove up the steep bank, we found ourselves in the Indian territory. All was very wild; and the more so for the rain. There were many lodges in the glades, with the red light of fires hanging around them. The few log huts looked drenched. The poor, helpless, squalid Pottawattomies are sadly troubled by squatters. It seems hard enough that they should be restricted within a narrow territory, so surrounded by whites that the game is sure to disappear, and leave them stripped of their only resource. It is too hard that they should also be encroached upon by men who sit down, without leave or title, upon lands which are not intended for sale. I enjoyed hearing of an occasional alarm among the squatters, caused by some threatening demonstrations by the Indians ... and leave them the benefit of his house and fences. Such an establishment in the woods is the destruction of the game - and of those who live upon it."

Miss Martinieau's sentiments to the contrary, the settlers - and squatters - were here to stay. The time was come, as the Oglesbee-Hale history puts it, when the Pottawattomie would begin "their sorrowful march toward the setting sun.

On Sept. 4, 1838, the Pottawattomie - the last great body of Indians in Indiana - were herded together and marched away westward over what was to become known infamously as "The Trail of Death.

More than 800 Indians - men, women, children - were forced at bayonet point across 660 desolate, dusty miles to the Osage River Valley in Kansas - the reservation selected for their re-location by the government. Many died (one in every five, according to the 1976 publication, Indiana Heritage), many became ill and a few escaped along the way. The day of the Indian was forever gone in Indiana. Chief Alexis Menominee - who had been converted to Christianity just four years before and whose tribe had built a huge log chapel - shouted to the soldiers that he had signed no treaty, had sold no land. He and other Pottawattomies maintained Indian agents had cheated the tribe out of its land - liberally using liquor to get young chiefs to sign documents. But Menominee (who died three years later, at age 50, at the Kansas reservation) and 859 Pottawattomie were marched away from their village by order of the governor of Indiana.

Simon Pokagon, who was to be the last chief of the Pottawattomie in this area, and who finally secured the 3 cents an acre for the sale of Chicago 60 years after the treaty had promised it, wrote this about the l838 "Trail of Death:"

A... and all of this was done by a people who had declared to the world to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuits of happiness is the God-given right of every human being. I wondered in my boyhood days how a Christian people could do such acts of cruelty and yet teach that all men are brothers, and that God is the Father of all...

Abijah Bigelow   
Minuteman. . .Settler. . . Abolitionist

The 19th birthday of Abijah Bigelow of Massachusetts (and later Michigan City) very nearly coincided with the birth of the American military revolution. And when the revolution came, three days later - 200 years ago, young Abijah was there.

On the evening of Bigelow's 19th birthday, April 16, 1775, engraver-silversmith Paul Revere, an official courier for the Massachusetts Assembly to the Continental Congress, rode the 17 miles from Boston to Concord. He warned the patriots that the British might march on Concord, to seize munitions stored there. He arranged a signal - one lantern in the North Church steeple if the redcoats moved by land, two if by water.

The signal would alert the Minutemen - a militia composed of villagers and farmers who had pledged to respond to the call of duty at a moment's notice. They constituted the first American Revolutionary Army. Included in their ranks was Pvt. Bigelow, a member of Capt. Abraham Pierce's Company in Col. Thomas Gardner's Regiment.

Two nights after Abijah's birthday and Revere's visit to Concord, the word went out: "The redcoats are coming!"

It was a chilling April night in the little village of Lexington, a strategic point between Boston and Concord. About 2 in the morning, church bells began to ring. Senior citizens (what did they call them in 1775?), middle-aged men, and boys   like Abijah  came, sleepy-eyed, from their homes, bearing cumbersome flintlocks. They assembled on the Lexington Green, across from the Congregational Church. For an hour they waited, exchanging rumors and nervous small talk, blowing on their hands to warm them, mumbling under-the-breath comments about their leaders (the beginning of an American army tradition). Finally, persuaded the alarm had been false, the Minutemen dispersed some back to their homes, others to the village tavern.

But about 4:30, Revere rode into town, shouted a warning, then hastened on toward Concord, The church bells rang again. Once more the 60 militiamen assembled. Morning's first light and the British came at about the same time. Fifes and drums heralded the approach of the redcoat regiments. It was, one historian has written, "the zero hour of autocracy."

The British, 700 of them, halted in military formation and faced the Minutemen. A British officer dramatically drew his sword, pointed it at one of the patriot leaders, and shouted: "Lay down your arms, damn you! Disperse, you rebels! "

Tense silence filled the crisp air for an historic moment. And then, from the ranks of the Minutemen, a shot was fired, "a shot heard around the world." No one knows, or ever will, who fired the shot. It could have been Abijah Bigelow.

Twenty minutes later, when shooting ceased, eight Americans were dead on the Commons grass. Ten more were wounded. The redcoats resumed their march to Concord, six miles away.

But that shot in the dawn light at Lexington and the skirmish that followed marked the beginning of the American fight for freedom. Lexington today properly calls itself "the birthplace of liberty."

The British soldiers spent five hours wrecking what remained of the patriots' arsenal at Concord. Mission completed, they formed ranks to march back to Boston. But at Concord's North Bridge, they were challenged by another gathering of Minutemen - including some who had fought hours earlier at Lexington. His record shows that Abijah Bigelow was at Concord, too.

It was in the North Bridge encounter that the first British soldier died - another shot "heard" the world over. The Minutemen had the upper hand this time. During a lull in the fighting, the redcoats crossed the bridge and ran for Lexington. More patriots joined the battle along the road. By the time the British reached Lexington, they were demoralized and nearly out of ammunition. Only the arrival of 1,000 reinforcements saved them from defeat.

Bigelow and the other rustic insurrectionists kept up the attack for 10 more miles, all the way'. to Charlestown, effectively employing guerrilla warfare against the redcoats' gentlemanly formations. By the time the British reached Charlestown that night, they had suffered 273 casualties. American casualties totaled 95.

Abijah Bigelow's service record shows that he also saw duty in the Battle of Bunker Hill, a bloody confrontation for both sides, two months later. He became a corporal, then a sergeant, his service in the Revolutionary Army continuing until 1778 - mostly in the area of Cambridge, Mass., the place where General George Washington formally assumed command of the American army.

In 1780, the year before Cornwallis' surrender to Washington, Abijah, then 24, married 19-year old Mercy Amelia Spring. The marriage was to produce 12 children and continue for 66 years until Mercy's death in LaPorte County at age 85 in 1846. Abijah would live to the age of 92, dying in Michigan City in 1848.

Following their marriage, the young couple lived in a comfortable two-story white farmhouse at New Braintree, Mass., about 60 miles west of Boston. It was with daughter Lucy, born there April 11, 1797, that the Bigelows would one day make their home and their move to Indiana.

After 28 years at New Braintree, Abijah sold the farmhouse in 1808 and went into business with his oldest son, Marshall, at Barre, Mass., north of New Braintree. They operated a store on the Barre commons. The Bigelows lived in a yellow house on the village outskirts, with enough adjoining acreage for a garden, a few cows, and a horse.

In 1822, Abijah and Mercy Bigelow went to live with daughter Lucy and her husband, Herbert Williams in Brooklyn, Conn., 40 miles almost due south of Barre. Abijah was 80, Mercy was 75, and Indiana had been a state only 20 years when the decision to move westward was made in 1836. Ellen Williams Haddock, daughter of Lucy and Herbert Williams, and granddaughter of Abijah Bigelow, left a written account of the move to Indiana and the subsequent years in and near Michigan City. Ellen's husband was Joseph

Clary Haddock, a druggist and son of a widely known Michigan City pioneer family. The Haddocks built a home on South Franklin Street in the area now known as Valentine Court.

Mrs. Haddock writes: "My uncles Jacob and Abijah were pioneers in the West. They brought back glowing reports of the fertility of the soil and the rapid development of the country. Michigan City, Indiana, was to be a large city, developed on the lake; a fine shipping port. My father was wearied with cultivating a farm where stony ground needed much fertilization, and the large barns and outhouses were needing repairs. He and mother felt it would be a relief to get away from religious controversy (then a common occurrence in New England) and decided to make the great venture of removal to the West."

Many in the family opposed such a strenuous journey for the elderly Bigelows. But, that revolutionary spirit still aflame, Abijah concluded they should join in the adventure with the sons and daughter (Lucy, Marshall, Jacob, Abijah and Sumner) who were Indiana-bound.

The house in Brooklyn was sold. Furniture and goods were shipped to Michigan City. Farewell trips were made to homes of New England relatives - by boat to Boston, train to Worcester, stage to Leicester.

In May of 1836, the month-long journey from New England to Michigan City began. After a stop to visit relatives in Cooperstown, N.Y., the group traveled via the Erie Canal to Buffalo, then crossed Lake Erie by boat to Detroit. They were there for a day or two while Williams bought teams of horses and arranged for the journey to Michigan City over roads that were almost impassable. Travel time from Detroit to Michigan City, including a Sunday stopover in Ypsilanti: Nine days.

Abijah Bigelow, who had been present at the birth of a nation, set foot in Michigan City in the year of its incorporation. The first local residence of the Williamses and Bigelows was a cottage on East Michigan Street not far from Franklin Street.

Mrs. Haddock writes that her father "would have preferred Milwaukee as a location, but never wished to make a stand in Chicago, which was 'such a low, muddy place' he could not think it had a future of prosperity."

When household goods arrived and arrangements were completed, the families left Michigan City and moved to a new home on a farm 20 miles south - between Haskells and Wanatah.

Williams and the younger Abijah Bigelow (a Whig who was to serve a term as a LaPorte County commissioner) built a grist mill on "Hog Creek." The mill, and the town which for a time flourished around it, were called "Bigelow's Mill." Many families which had come from Canada lived in the settlement. Bigelow was postmaster.

The partners had purchased 40 head of cattle But, assured by natives that the winter would be mild and the animals could survive, they concentrated on building the mill. Unfortunately, winter came early and proved long and severe. Many cattle died from exposure. Prairie wolves dined on their carcasses. "'So the families faced losses and discouragements,@ Mrs. Haddock recalled. "Father and my uncle dissolved their partnership and my parents devoted themselves to the development of the farm." The mill enterprise was not a success; Bigelow sold it.

The Williamses and the elderly Bigelows remained on the Clinton Twp. farm, where Williams built a fine new 1 2 story home of hewn logs. Mrs. Williams, who had been a teacher in New England, also taught in LaPorte County schools.

The anti-slavery movement was gaining momentum. It was a cause in which Abijah Bigelow was much interested. "Grandfather was very strong in his opposition to slavery," writes Mrs. Haddock. "He had a hatred for oppression of Negro people."

And so the Williams Bigelow home became a station on the underground railway. Escaped slaves, fleeing to Canada, would be housed and fed there. Then, concealed under quilts and hay in a wagon, they would be transported to the next station, near LaPorte, by Ellen's brother, Wolcott.

Mercy Amelia Bigelow died Aug. 20,1846. In 1848, Williams sold the farm. The Williams family and Abijah moved to Michigan City, to a home on the southwest corner of 10th and Washington streets - torn down in later years to make room for an apartment building. Williams was to serve as assessor, tax collector, school trustee and church treasurer as a Michigan City citizen. On Oct. 23, 1848, at age 92, Abijah Bigelow died. He and Mercy are buried in Greenwood Cemetery, close to the circle where the World War I memorial stands. Daughter Lucy Williams also is buried there. The grave of the Revolutionary War soldier - the only one in Michigan City - is marked by a modest slab. There also is a bronze marker, placed many years ago by the Indiana Sons of the American Revolution.

On April 14, 1926, just two days short of the 170th anniversary of Abijah Bigelow's birth Michigan City chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution was formed and named for him. Abijah Bigelow: Minuteman... Michigan City pioneer settler... abolitionist. His simple grave site is Michigan City's most direct link to the birth of a nation, the great fight for freedom, years ago.

Another son of Massachusetts, a hero of a late American war for freedom, John F. Kennedy, said in his 1961 inaugural address: "We dare not forget today that we are the heir of that first revolution." It's an appropriate thought as observance of America's Bicentennial takes place.

Such a City Was Never Before Seen  
A British Traveler's Account of Michigan City in 1836

A descriptively vivid account of Michigan City in the year of its incorporation exists in an 1837 book, Society in America, written by Harriet Martineau. An English social and historical writer and a prominent public figure of her day, Miss Martineau visited the United States from 1834 to 1836. Part of her travels here - possibly the most memorable part - consisted of a stagecoach trip from Detroit to Chicago. Her party left Detroit on June 15,1836, and arrived in Michigan City six days later. The roads were so rough that the travelers were forced to transport a dozen eggs by each one holding an egg in his hand for the entire length of the day's journey. Miss Martineau was 34 years old at the time of her visit here. The following account is excerpted from her journal.

We reached LaPorte, on the edge of the Door Prairie, at three o'clock, and were told that the weather did not promise an easy access to Michigan City. We changed horses, however, and set forward again on a very bad road, along the shore of a little lake, which must be pretty in fine weather. Then we entered a wood, and jolted and rocked from side to side, till, at last, the carriage leaned three parts over, and stuck. We all jumped out into the rain, and the gentlemen literally put their shoulders to the wheel, and lifted it out of its hole. The same little incident was repeated in half an hour. At five or six miles from LaPorte, and seven from Michigan City, our driver stopped, and held a long parley with somebody by the road side. The news was that a bridge in the middle of a marsh had been carried away by a tremendous freshet; and with how much log-road on either side, could not be ascertained till the waters should subside. The mails, however, would have to be carried over, by some means, the next day; and we must wait where we were till we could profit by the post-office experiment. The next question was, where were we to be harboured? There was no house of entertainment near. We shrank from going back to LaPorte over the perilous road which was growing worse every minute. A family lived at hand, who hospitably offered to receive us; and we were only too ready to accept their kindness.

Our sleep, amidst the luxury and cleanliness and hospitality, was most refreshing. The next morning it was still raining, but less vehemently. After breakfast, we ladies employed ourselves in sweeping and dusting our room, and making the beds; as we had given our kind hostess to much trouble already. Then there was a Michigan City newspaper to be read; and I sat down to write letters. Before long, a wagon and four drove up to the door, the driver of which cried out that if there was any getting to Michigan City, he was our man. We equipped ourselves in our warmest and thickest clothing, put on our india rubber shoes, packed ourselves and our luggage in the wagon, put up our umbrellas, and wondered what was to be our fate.

We jolted on for two miles and a half through the woods, admiring the scarlet lilies, and the pink and white moccasin flower, which was brilliant. Then we arrived. at the place of the vanished bridge. Our first prospect was of being paddled over, one by one, in the smallest of boats. But, when the capabilities of the place were examined, it was decided that we should wait in a house on the hill, while the neighbours, the passengers of the mailstage, and the drivers, built a bridge.

We learned that a gentleman who followed us from Niles, the preceding day, found the water nine feet deep, and was near drowning his horses in a place which we had crossed without difficulty. This very morning, a bridge which we had proved and passed, gave way with the stage, and the horses had to be dug and rolled out of the mud, when they were on the point of suffocation.

At half-past two, the bridge was announced complete, and we re-entered our wagon, to lead the cavalcade across it. Slowly, anxiously, with a man at the head of each leader, we entered the water, and saw it rise to the nave of the wheels. Instead of jolting, as usual, we mounted and descended each log individually. The mail-wagon followed, with two or three horsemen. There was also a singularly benevolent personage, who jumped from the other wagon, and waded through all the doubtful places, to prove them. He leaped and splashed through the water, which was sometimes up to his waist, as if it was the most agreeable sport in the world. In one of these gullies, the fore part of our wagon sank and stuck, so as to throw us forward, and make it doubtful in what mode we should emerge from the water. Then the rim of one of the wheels was found to be loose; and the whole cavalcade stopped till it was mended.

The drive was so exciting and pleasant, the rain having ceased that I was taken by surprise by our arrival at Michigan City. The driver announced our approach by a series of flourishes on one note of his common horn, which made the most ludicrous music I ever listened to. How many minutes he went on, I dare not say; but we were so convulsed with laughter that we could not alight with becoming gravity, amidst the groups in the piazza of the hotel. The man must be first cousin to Paganini.

Such a city as this was surely never before seen. It is three years since it was begun; and it is said to have one thousand five hundred inhabitants. It is cut out of the forest, and curiously interspersed with little swamps, which we no doubt saw in their worst condition after the heavy rains. New, good houses, some only half finished, stood in the midst of the thick wood. A large area was half cleared. The finished stores were scattered about; and the streets were littered with stumps. The situation is beautiful. The undulations of the ground, within and about it, and its being closed in by lake or forest on every side, render it unique. An appropriation has been made by Government for a harbour; and two piers are to be built out beyond the sand, as far as the clay soil of the lake. Mr. L. and I were anxious to see the mighty fresh water sea. We made inquiry in the piazza; and a sandy hill, close by, covered with the pea vine, was pointed out to us. We ran up it, and there beheld what we had come so far to see. There it was, deep, green, and swelling on the horizon, and whitening into a broad and heavy surf as it rolled in towards the shore. Hence, too, we could make out the geography of the city. The whole scene stands insulated in my memory, as absolutely singular; and, at this distance of time, scarcely credible. I was so well aware on the spot that it would be so, that I made careful and copious notes of what I saw; but memoranda have nothing to do with such emotions as were caused by the sight of that enormous body of tumultuous waters, rolling in apparently upon the helpless forest, and everywhere else so majestic.

The day was damp and chilly, as we were told every day is here. There is scarcely ever a day of summer in which fire is not acceptable. The windows are dim; the metals rusted, and the new, wood about the house red with damp. We could not have a fire. The storm had thrown down a chimney; and the house was too full of workmen, providing accommodation for future guests, to allow of the comfort of those present being much attended to. We were permitted to sit around a flue in a chamber, where a remarkably pretty and graceful girl was sewing. She has a widowed mother to support, and she "gets considerable" by sewing here, where the women lead a bustling life, which leaves no time for the needle. We had to wait long for something to eat; that is, till supper time; for the people are too busy to serve up anything between meals. Two little girls brought a music book, and sang to us; and then we sang to them; and then Dr. F. brought me two harebells,  one of the rarest flowers in the country. I found some at Trenton Falls; and in one or two other rocky and sandy places; but so seldom as to make a solitary one a great treasure.

Our supper of young pork, good bread, potatoes, preserves, and tea, was served at two tables, where the gentlemen were in proportion to the ladies as ten to one. In such places, there is a large proportion of young men who are to go back for wives when they have gathered a few other comforts about them. The appearance of health was as striking as at Detroit, and everywhere on this side of Lake Erie.

Immediately after supper we went for a walk, which, in peculiarity, comes next to that in the Mammoth Cave, if indeed, it be second to it. The scene was like what I had always fancied the Norway coast, but for the wild flowers, which grew among the pines on the slope, almost into the tide. I longed to spend an entire day on this flowery and shadowy margin of the inland sea. I plucked handfuls of pea-vine and other trailing flowers, which seemed to run over all the ground. We found on the sands an army, like Pharaoh's drowned host, of disabled butterflies, beetles, and flies of the richest colours and lustre, driven over the lake by the storm. Charley found a small turtle alive. An elegant little schooner, "the Sea Serpent of Chicago," was stranded, and formed a beautiful object as she lay dark between the sand and the surf.  The sun was going down. We watched the sunset, not remembering that the refraction above the fresh waters would probably cause some remarkable appearance. We looked at one another in amazement at what we saw. First, there were three gay, inverted rainbows between the water and the sun, then hidden behind a little streak of. cloud. Then the sun emerged from behind this only cloud, urn-shaped; a glistering golden urn. Then it changed, rather suddenly, to an enormous golden acorn. Then to a precise resemblance, except being prodigiously magnified, of Saturn with his ring. This was the most beautiful apparition of all. Then it was quickly narrowed and elongated till it was like the shaft of a golden pillar; and thus it went down square. Long after its disappearance, a lustrous, deep crimson dome, seemingly solid, rested steadily on the heaving waters.

We walked briskly home, beside the skiey sea, with the half-grown moon above us, riding high. Then came the struggling for room to lie down, for sheets and fresh water. The principal range of chambers could have been of no manner of use to us, in their present state. There were, I think, thirty, in one range along a passage. A small bed stood in the middle of each, made up for use; but the walls were as yet only scantily lathed, without any plaster; so that everything was visible along the whole row.

When I arose at daybreak, I found myself stiff with cold. No wonder: the window, close to my head, had lost a pane. I think the business of a perambulating glazier might be a very profitable one, in most parts of the United States. When we seated ourselves in our wagon, we found that the leathern cushions were soaked with wet; like so many sponges. They were taken in to a hot fire, and soon brought out, each sending up a cloud of steam. Blankets were furnished to lay over them; and we set off. We were cruelly jolted through the bright dewy woods, for four miles, and then arrived on the borders of a swamp where the bridge had been carried away. A man waded in; declared the depth to be more than six feet; how much more he could not tell. There was nothing to be done, but to go back. Back again we jolted, and arrived at the piazza of the hotel just as the breakfast-bell was ringing. All the "force" that could be collected on a hasty summons; that is almost every able bodied man in the city and neighbourhood, was sent out with axes to build us a bridge. We breakfasted, gathered and dried flowers, and wandered about till ten o'clock, when we were summoned to try our fortune again in the wagon. We found a very pretty scene at the swamp. Part of the "force" was engaged on our side of the swamp, and part on the other. As we sat under the trees, making garlands and wreaths of flowers and oak leaves, we could see one lofty tree-top after another, in the opposite forest, tremble and fall; and the workmen cluster about it, like bees, lop off its branches, and, in a trice, roll it, an ugly log, into the water, and pin it down upon the sleepers. The moccasin flower grew here in great profusion and splendour. We sat thus upwards of two hours; and the work done in the time appeared almost incredible. But the Americans in the back country seem to like the repairing of accidents - a social employment - better than their regular labour; and even the drivers appeared to prefer adventurous travelling to easy journeys. A gentleman in a light gig made the first trial of the new bridge: our wagon followed, plunging and rocking, and we scrambled in safety up the opposite bank.

Godlike Daniel Webster   
Fourth of July Oratory

He was born Jan. 18, 1782. He was a congressman, a United States senator, and the secretary of state. He was one of the first, and one of the greatest, Whigs. In his day he was as well known as Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun. To his contemporaries he was "Godlike Daniel." To historians he has become: "The greatest man which this country ever produced," and "the most consummate orator of all time." A century of school children would memorize his famed speech ringing with "liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable." His name was Daniel Webster and he visited LaPorte County on at least two occasions. . "Godlike Daniel's" first visit to the county was, apparently, purely political. The year was 1836, the first year the Whigs attempted to apply national leverage. Webster was too closely associated with the interests of the American Northeast to contest the candidacy of Democrat Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson's vice president. The Whig strategy was to run regional candidates in hopes of denying Van Buren the majority electoral vote, thus throwing the selection of the President to the House of Representatives. Webster represented the North, William Henry Harrison the West, and Hugh L. White of Tennessee the South. The strategy failed. But Webster had been an active Whig candidate and, on July 4, his favorite day for oratory, he addressed a crowd in the emerging city of LaPorte.

It was a Sunday and a large crowd had gathered around his buggy in the public square. During the course of his speech a procession of Sunday School children came into his view. Immediately the great orator hesitated, seizing on the opportunity with the sense of timing and drama for which he was noted, extended his arm toward the young ones, and proclaimed in loud and steady voice, "there, fellow citizens, is the hope of our country."

There seems to be no other reason than political stumping for Webster=s first visit to LaPorte County. But the great orator did have other interests. He was known to have been fired by the speculative fever involving land in the newly formed states of the frontier and to have been an avid purchaser of prairies, timberlands, and town sites in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. It was this interest of Daniel Webster's that seems to have been related to his second visit to LaPorte County.

The second visit came one year later to the day, July 4, 1837. Webster, with his wife, had been taking a cruise on a steamer between Chicago and Buffalo. Chicago was, as yet, not much of a community, and there was intense rivalry between a number of lakefront communities to capture federal support for communications and trade outlets. Canals and rails were all intricately involved with the demand for harbor support. Chicago was at the mouth of the Chicago River, Michigan City was at the mouth of Trail Creek, and nearly a century before the name of Gary had been heard, George Earle had founded Liverpool (now part of East Gary) and other promoters were plumping a new town of Manchester at the mouth of Salt Creek. The competition was intense. No less than the future of the Midwest was at stake.

The competition that involved Daniel Webster seems to have had its roots in conflict between two different groups of entrepreneurs in the county. The first, dominated by LaPorte businessmen, involved incorporation of the Buffalo and Mississippi Railroad. Their scheme was to connect the head of Lake Erie from Maumee Bay to the public harbor at Michigan City, then extend the rails southward to connect with the navigable waters somewhere on the Kankakee or Illinois rivers, thus connecting with the Mississippi. Daniel Webster seems to have been intimately involved in this venture.

A group of Michigan City entrepreneurs, miffed at the granting of a charter to the LaPorteans, incorporated their own company, the Michigan City and Kankakee Railroad, went west and laid out the town of City West at the mouth of Fort Creek (which now enters Lake Michigan near the pavilion in the Dunes State Park). By 1837 City West had a hotel, a tavern, store, sawmill, blacksmith shop, and about 25 resident families. All they needed was federal funds to develop a harbor, and the great Daniel Webster, senator from Massachusetts, and a known connection to financial interests in the East, was on a steamboat near Chicago. The promoters of City West invited the Senator to their new town. He arrived on July 1, 1837, looked over the site, made a brief speech to the residents, but gave no promises. Hearing of such doings the promoters of the Buffalo and Mississippi sent an urgent message to Webster to visit Michigan City as well. Thus, on Independence Day, 1837, the great statesman stood at the foot of Hoosier Slide on the banks of Trail Creek in Michigan City, predicted a sure success for the community, and symbolically threw a handful of sand into the air to mark the beginning of its new destiny. In gratitude, the promoters "gave" the senator a lot in the community (lot 5 in block 10, at the corner of Michigan and Spring), although the deed stated that Webster had paid $2,000. In view of the fact that James M. Scott (builder of the first mill in Michigan City) had secured the lot several years previously for only $40, there can be little doubt that the "gift" was a bit of promotional propaganda as well as an honorarium to Daniel Webster for supporting the interests of the Buffalo and Mississippi Railroad.

The City West people would later grumble that Michigan City received the senator's support because the entertainment he had received was more lavish and more to his liking. Such a conclusion seems unwarranted, however, since the Congress had approved the funding of a public harbor at Michigan City a year before Webster's visit to the dunes in 1837. For a short time, however, the county was witness to a business struggle which involved one of the greatest of American statesmen. The involvement was short-lived, however, since records indicate that Daniel Webster and his wife sold their interest in the lot, which he had been "given," to two gentlemen from Philadelphia in 1841. A decade later the famed senator was gone.

Martin Krueger   
An Indelible Imprint on the Community

Martin T. Krueger loved Michigan City. He showed it in words and in deeds. More than any public official in the first 140 years of the city's history, he left an indelible imprint on the community. A German immigrant who came here as a young boy in 1864, Krueger served his city with distinction in many capacities. Six times he was elected mayor. Three times he was elected city clerk. He served as LaPorte County's state representative, as a Michigan City school board member for 12 years, and as a city councilman. Virtually self-educated , he had one of the city's largest and most successful law practices up to the time of his retirement at age 88 in 1941.

Krueger, above all, was a man of foresight with the ability to get what he wanted and what he felt the city needed. Politics was a major part of his life, but he did not hesitate to pursue an unpopular course if he felt it was right. That trait cost him at least one election - but fellow citizens gained a belated appreciation for his position and restored him to office four years later. The News-Dispatch story of his death, at age 92 on May 9, 1945, noted: "Michigan City owes much of its beauty and reputation to him ... It is hard to point to a single public work or institution that he did not create or was not a factor in its creation."

Existence of Washington Park is due to Krueger's vision, craftiness and persistence. During the Krueger years, electricity replaced gas and kerosene lighting in Michigan City. The first extensive street-paving program was initiated (against much opposition from taxpayers). The Franklin Street bridge, the establishment of an excellent water department - these and more milestones in community progress were Krueger accomplishments. The land on which the Memorial Park forest preserve is situated was given to the city by Krueger in memory of American soldiers who died in World War I. Krueger also had a reputation for wit and public speaking ability.

His parents brought 10-year-old Martin Krueger and their other eight children to America from Macklenberg-Schwerein, Germany, in 1864. They settled in Michigan City, where Martin's grandparents had emigrated eight years earlier.

Young Martin served an apprenticeship that ideally prepared him for the political plunge. He began doing chores for pay almost immediately on his arrival in America. He recalled often in speeches years later that he and five buddies were on their way, walking, to plant potatoes for a Waterford farmer when they heard a cannon shot from the top of Hoosier Slide, signaling the arrival of the Lincoln Funeral Train in Michigan City the morning of May 1, 1865. (See account of young Krueger's experience with the funeral train in another publication in this series "Moments to Remember.")

His first regular job - one which ended his formal school career - came when David Marsh (who, with his brother, George, owned all the land south of 11th Street to Greenwood Cemetery and who pastured cows on it) offered Krueger's mother a dollar a week for Martin to be a cowherd. He worked at other jobs - as a factory employee at the Haskell and Barker car shops, in a planing mill, and as a cleaner of locomotive grates for the Michigan Central Railroad  in Michigan City before he got some experience in the world of agriculture.

At age 13, he had worked on a farm during the summer months for $1.50 a week. After his ventures into industrial employment, he went to Mendota, Ill., and secured a farm job at double his former wages - $3 a week. He worked on Illinois farms for five years before his return to Michigan City in 1877. (It was in Bureau County, Ill., in 1876, that he cast his first ballot. His vote for President Tilden was described as the only Democratic vote cast in the precinct.)

Krueger began the study of law in 1877 in the office of Michigan City attorney Fred Johnson. When Johnson died the next year, Krueger opened a real estate and insurance office. He also was actively engaged in assistance to immigrants - helping to bring many families from Germany to Michigan City.

He continued his study of the law and, in spring of 1879, he and Harry Francis opened a law office at 205 1/2 Franklin St. Francis left in the autumn to become publisher of the Michigan City Dispatch. Krueger's office later - and up to the time of his retirement - was in the First National Bank building. His clients included his two former employers - the Michigan Central Railroad and the Haskell & Barker Car Co. - as well as the Pere Marquette Railroad, the First National Bank, and others.

The year he began his law practice, Krueger also entered politics. He was elected city clerk. He was re-elected to that post in 1881 and 1883. In 1884, he was elected to the state legislature. He was chairman of the committee on cities and towns and a member of other important committees. During that and later service in the General Assembly, he was responsible for enactment of much major legislation. He also won the respect and friendship of many fellow legislators which was to prove extremely valuable for Michigan City in years to come. In 1886, he was on the state Democratic ticket as candidate for clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court, but it was a Republican year in the state.

When he returned to Michigan City, he declined a request that he run again for city clerk. But he agreed to be a candidate for 2nd Ward councilman. Though that was a traditional Republican stronghold, Krueger was elected - as the nominee of both parties.

In 1889, he was elected mayor of Michigan City. In 1891, he won re-election with no opposition. An unprecedented program of public improvements was initiated under his leadership. Streets were paved, sewers built, and other projects implemented.

His activist leadership was not without opposition in the community. That, plus a division in the Democratic ranks here, saw him lose his bid for a third term by a narrow margin in 1893. But in 1898, Krueger was once more elected mayor this time to a four-year term. And in 1902, he won another one.

In 1913, running on a "citizen's ticket," he was elected to a fifth term as mayor. And in 1927, he became mayor under the commission-manager form of government that was temporarily in effect in Michigan City.

Krueger also had been a candidate (in 1896) for Congress. He was the 10th District chairman at the Democratic Congressional Convention, and when no candidate could be agreed on after several ballots, he agreed to run. The district was overwhelmingly Republican and Krueger lost in November - but he managed to reduce the normal plurality considerably, and to carry two counties (including LaPorte) which had previously gone to the GOP.

Krueger, whose own public school education had been abbreviated, served for 12 years on the local school board as member and secretary. The News-Dispatch obituary in 1945 observed that he had "worked tirelessly for better school facilities."

Many older citizens remember Krueger, his moustache, his distinctive and booming voice, his habit of tracing a circle with his downward pointed finger while talking.

One contemporary recalls that Krueger "never was given to social life. He liked his association with friends either gathered at his home or at his favorite bar near city hall downtown. At both places, he would spin yarns to the delight of all his listeners. He was the town's best story teller - generally telling them on himself or ones which illustrated a particular point he was trying to make at the time. He was not a heavy drinker, but liked beer. He had a sarcastic tongue - perhaps caustic is a better word - that he used mercilessly to flail those whom he felt earned his displeasure. His gruffness, with a guttural German tone, combined with the fact that on his own admission he was the homeliest man in the state, made him a most impressive figure.

Some of his pointed stories were widely repeated, though not printable. Above all, those who remember the way he got things done - the acquisition of Washington Park land the most frequently-cited illustration.

The lakefront acreage was the scene of a squalid skid row when Mayor Krueger first envisioned a park there.

"I do not remember now when the thought of a park on the shore of Lake Michigan first came," Krueger said in a speech to Rotary Club in 1922. "I do remember about the year 1893 upon a visit to Lincoln Park in Chicago ... the hope was born in me that someday Michigan City might possess and improve a portion of our lake shore as a park. I was only city clerk at that time and mentioned this thought to Mayor Harvey Harris, who answered me that such a thing might be a possibility at some future time, but that both of us would probably be dead when that time arrived. I was elected mayor in 1889 and my dream of a park by the lake again haunted me. The more I thought of it the more the conviction grew in me that the thing might be done."

Michigan City's shoreline was a disgrace at the time. Waste material from booming lumber days had been used to build shacks by "ex-convicts, dissolute men and women and every kind of human scum that ever hung on the outskirts of a civilized community." (The quotes are Krueger's.)

After a long and uphill battle, Krueger obtained approval for the erection of a $10,000 bridge that extended Franklin Street to the lakefront.

Community skepticism about the proposed bridge was reflected in a remark made to Krueger by his friend, former mayor H.W. Walker: "You are building a bridge from somewhere to nowhere.

The site of future Washington Park was owned by Easterners who had bought the lots sight unseen when Maj. Isaac C. Elston pushed his real estate promotion of "Indiana's only lakeport." The land purchasers, belatedly learning of the nature of their holdings, never came west to claim the land or settle on it.

The only way the city could obtain title to the land, Krueger knew, was through court action. Quiet title proceedings could be filed - but it would be necessary to put up several thousand dollars in escrow in case any owners should show up. The city had no such money.

Krueger had the answer: Sell part of the courthouse square! At the time the courthouse was at the location of the present Superior Court building, but was the only building on the square block bounded by Franklin, Fourth, Washington and Michigan streets. It was illegal, Krueger knew, for a city to sell municipally owned real estate. Again he had the answer: A trip to Indianapolis, where the legislature was in session. There he got a former colleague to introduce a bill providing that a fifth class city located on the shore of Lake Michigan (i.e., Michigan City) could sell part of its municipally owned real estate if it in turn acquired real estate of equal dollar value.

Conceding that the special (and short-lived) legislation bordered closely on confiscation was Aa little too rank even for an Indiana Legislature, Krueger nonetheless made no apologies for the action. He explained: "Necessity knows no law, neither did I.

In addition to securing special state legislation, the Washington Park plan required approval of the city council. Seven affirmative votes were necessary. When the roll was called at a special meeting Aug. 18, 1891, presided over by Mayor Krueger, the vote was 6-1. Krueger tells what happened then:

"Immediately there was great confusion among the spectators. I did not announce the result of the vote officially, but instead declared a recess of 20 minutes or until order was restored. Then I asked the one councilman who had voted no to come with me into the clerk's office adjoining the council chamber and he came. I was excited, nervous and sore and what I said to this man in that little room had best be forgotten. He and I had been good friends and I had at one time been of great service to him and saved him a large sum of money, all without charging him a cent. I reminded him of that. Then I showed him that his three objecting friends (three anti-park councilmen who had not come to the meeting) had not the courage to come and vote with him but had tried to make and were making him the goat by voting no alone and shifting all the responsibility on him and finally I said, 'As long as you live people will blame you and, you alone for having been the instrument by which the city had been robbed of its lakefront park.

"Suddenly he said, 'What do you want me to do?'

"I told him I would have the roll called again because of the confusion in the council chamber and I wanted him to vote aye when his name was called.

"He said, 'Mr. Mayor, you are the only man in this town who could get me to do that, but I owe it to you personally and I'll do it.'

"I called the council to order again, ordered the roll called again and seven men voted aye. The resolution had passed.

"I have been in many a hard fought political battle; I have won some and lost others, but in all my life I never felt so bitterly disappointed as when that vote stood 6 to 1, and never have I so glorified over a victory as when it finally stood 7 to 0.

"One great shout of victory went up from the assembled audience. The fight was over; the park was an accomplished fact."

Krueger named the first park board, had the lakefront area graded, and solicited help of common citizens and influential industrialists in the establishment of the park. While citizens were planting saplings, industrialists were paying for erection of a monument, peristyle and bandstand.

Krueger's Song

It's clear that Martin T. Krueger was a better politician and attorney than he was a poet, but the song he wrote for Michigan City reflects the deep feeling he had for his community. It was entitled The City by the Lake. Its words:

There's a city by the lake

That is bright and wide awake!

Michigan City, Indiana!

You can travel up and down

And not find a better town

Than Michigan City, Indiana!

Michigan City

Hurrah, folks, hurray!

Strong in December

And full of pep in May

And the water's always fine

In the good old summertime

In Michigan City, Indiana!

Krueger's resourcefulness came to the fore again when money was not available for the establishment of an adequate water department here. In 1899, he organized a stock company of wealthy citizens who built the water plant and turned it over to the city on terms it could easily meet.

The immigrant mayor was passionately patriotic and dedicated to his adopted land.

On Feb. 3, 1917 - the day on which President Woodrow Wilson severed diplomatic relations with Germany - Krueger was a speaker at the annual Elks banquet in Chicago.

His stirring speech brought the audience to its feet, drew editorial praise in the Chicago Herald and other publications, and was reprinted in many newspapers all over the country. An excerpt from that address:

"...In this great republic where men are judged largely by what they know and what they can do, he (the immigrant) is welcome only if he will sincerely seek to make the most and the best of established conditions which he finds here, and will prepare himself honestly and diligently for the great responsibility of American citizenship.

"He is welcome to every blessing that flows from the fountain of free and popular government, but he must not muddy the water for others after he has drunk his fill. That is the price. If he cannot pay it, let him go back and tell those he left behind that although this country may be a melting pot, it is by no means a garbage can."

Krueger's wit was demonstrated in a full speech which he delivered to Rotary Club in 1928 on the subject of the groundhog. He was an ecologist - a fact demonstrated by his act to preserve the lakefront, by his gift of the unspoiled Memorial Park forest preserve to the city, and by a speech he made in 1926 on the topic of trees and conservation. And he was a proud community booster - as evidenced by these concluding words of a speech to the Michigan City Rotary and Lions clubs at the Spaulding Hotel in 1929, on the subject of his 65 years in Michigan City:

"Such are some of my impressions of old Michigan City, as I knew it more than half a century ago. What it is today you know as well as I do. With great wisdom and foresight she was the first Indiana city to beckon to herself the great commerce of the inland seas and provide for it harbor of trade and refuge.

She was the first Indiana city to seek and obtain legislative authority to acquire and improve land for public park purposes and to use that authority to possess for her people nearly a mile of lakefront and the most picturesque and lofty mountain of sand on the lakeshore; a worthy monument to her foresight and a priceless heritage for the present and future generations.

Such is Michigan City: There she stands, behold her. What opportunities are ours to make her indeed a model and master city. Not alone to excel in commerce, industry and good citizenship, but to dominate by a lofty and aspiring soul and place herself by the side of the best and fairest cities of our state."

That was Martin T. Krueger - a self-made man who said what he thought in plain terms.

Something in Their Hearts Besides Despair   
Eight Men Determined to Turn Things Around

Jasper Packard wrote, in his 1876 History of LaPorte County: "Michigan City has been subject to many vicissitudes, her prospects at times seeming to be very bright, at other times gloomy in the extreme; but the leading business men of the place have never abated one jot of heart or hope. When a bright future seemed to offer, they have energetically set themselves to meet and improve its opportunities; when the prospect was forbidding, they resolutely met the emergency, by themselves opening new avenues to prosperity.

Packard's words, written nearly a half-century earlier, could as well have been put to paper in response to the positive action taken by eight men in 1918.

Michigan City, where cycles of progress seem to be punctuated by periods of doldrums, was very much in a doldrum state in 1918.

Even as the community joined in the national celebration of victory in the War to End All Wars, citizens found little to cheer about on the local scene. Michigan City was deep in vicissitudes again - the kind that, in Packard's words, made her prospects gloomy in the extreme.

The years between 1916 and 1918 had not been good ones for the community.

Many of its 19,000 inhabitants were leaving, and so was industry. There were 300 vacant homes and 50 empty stores. When the Michigan Central Railroad moved its shops to Niles, Mich., 200 more homes were vacant. Four new industries had come to town in those two years. Three of them had gone broke. Michigan City was virtually a one-industry town. The Pullman "car shops" dominated the economy - an unhealthy situation.

There were other problems, too:

A smelly, open ditch - a veritable sewer - ran right through the heart of the residential section. Known as Rommel's ditch, it meandered all over town, crossing Franklin Street at Decatur Street and ending up on Michigan Street near Porter Street.

The harbor was in serious disrepair. The turn of the century had seen Michigan City with a thriving port. But in the first decade of the 1900s, shipping business began dwindling away and maintenance of the harbor decreased proportionately. The city asked for help from the Federal government. But the Army Corps of Engineers, in a tough-worded report, said there just wasn't enough shipping and industry in Michigan City to warrant investment in the harbor.

The city shoreline was littered with debris. The sandy beaches were covered with trash. The amusement center in Washington Park had been destroyed by fire.

Roads connecting Michigan City with other communities were in sad shape - little better than cowpaths.

The city's luxury hotel of the 1880s, the Vreeland, was no longer modern. A new high school was needed. Citizens were outraged because the graves of their dead in Greenwood Cemetery were not receiving proper care.

Looking back on the situation which existed in Michigan City in 1918, an article in The Nation's Business magazine of January 1924 concluded:

"The sands of the desert about Michigan City began to grow cold."

That's how it was in January, 1918. Then came one of those dramatic turning points in the community's history. As the 1924 magazine story put it: "In February some citizens with something in their hearts besides despair got together...turned their backs on the past and founded a Chamber of Commerce."

The eight founding fathers of the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, men determined to turn things around and set the community on a positive course, were Joe Hays, Leon Kramer, Jacob L. Staufer, George T. Vail, Louis W. Keeler, William W. Vail, John R. Abbott and Major George O. Redpath. Men with something in their hearts besides despair.

The magazine article notes, "These men didn't hurry. The situation was too serious for hasty action. Plans were formulated and carefully considered. Not until October was a secretary secured. A young businessman in Chicago, active in the Association of Commerce there and familiar with Michigan City (Walter K. Greenebaum), agreed to spend three days a week on the job to assist in developing a program." He was to become one of Michigan City's biggest boosters and promoters.

Other citizens quickly joined the Chamber bandwagon - men such as Lewis Stein, E.A. Simpson, William Manny, Herb Levine, Harry B. Tuthill, Louis Bartholomew and Walter Mellor.

In a short time, 171 members had joined the new Chamber of Commerce. In only nine days, $10,000 was raised for special projects. Then the chamber moved into its first permanent office, on the second floor of the building at the northwest corner of Franklin and Seventh streets. Over the entrance was placed a sign: "Where there is no vision the people perish."

The funds were raised by calling on business and industry, by asking persons who made $500 to $1,000 a year to contribute 50 cents a month, and persons who made $1,000 to $1,250 a year to give 75 cents a month. In the first 10 years of the chamber, no less than 26 new industries moved to - or started anew in - Michigan City. It was no longer a one industry town.

The smelly Rommel's ditch was closed over. A million-dollar sewer system was installed.

A new hotel was needed. Citizens raised several hundred thousand dollars to build the Spaulding Hotel. The original plans for the Spaulding called for a six-story structure. But this would have meant that Michigan City's new hotel wouldn't be as tall as the Rumely Hotel in LaPorte. So the walls of the Spaulding were extended two more floors, leaving the floors as shells without rooms. Michigan City then claimed the tallest building in LaPorte County. And, within a year, the hotel's top two floors were completed.

There were other developments of consequence in the community in the Roaring '20s and the chamber was instrumental in all of them. The lakefront park and midway were improved. The Dunes Highway was built and other road improvements made - including the taking over by the state of the route of Ind. 43 (now U.S. 421) so it could be paved. The new high school was built. So were 500 new houses and an apartment building. Michigan City became a convention and tourist center.

Chamber members were prepared to do battle to obtain improvements they regarded as vital. The magazine article gives an example: "The Chamber of Commerce advocated the building of a three-quarter-mile strip of pavement to connect two important districts. The city council considered the matter one night and by a majority vote turned down the proposition. The Chamber of Commerce rallied its forces, got the council to reconvene, and at ten o'clock the same night the original vote was reconsidered and the construction authorized."

The determination that went into the chamber's effort to secure new industry was illustrated in a quote from the president of a company that invested a million dollars in Michigan City: "When this company decided to abandon its old plants in Illinois and consolidate its efforts in a new plant, a score or more cities sought the industry. Of this number, but three got their story across right from a salesmanship standpoint, and Michigan City walked off with that order. And it was C.O.D. in spite of offers of free factory sites by some other cities. When it came to final negotiations, practically the entire town waited on us in a body. The delegation was composed of two judges, the leading bankers, merchants, manufacturers, physicians, the mayor and city officials and representatives of labor."

Ernest R. Smith, author of the Nation's Business article, commented in 1924: "So remarkable is the spirit of the community, so unusual the program, so inspiring the way in which the citizens of all classes and creeds stand behind their Chamber of Commerce, that one turns to cold figures assured that these will reveal how substantial have been the profits that the city gathered to itself by developing to the highest degree the physical and mental assets of the community.

"It is no surprise, therefore, to learn that between 1917 and 1922 the annual payroll jumped from $4 million to $10 million, the annual value of building permits from $117,000 to $2 1/2 million, the assessed valuation from $7 million to $19 million, and the bank resources from $4.8 million to over $8 million."

He quoted a manufacturer familiar with the Michigan City situation at the time the eight men got together to organize the chamber: "In 1918 the city was absolutely without community spirit. The people would not work together. Now they have a common object. They decide what they want to do and then unite and do it. It took all of three years to bring this change about. There are still fossils without vision, but they may, in time, get the right viewpoint."

Another author much impressed with Michigan City's accomplishments in those years was Fred High, writing in The Rotarian of January 1924 He wrote: "Since (the Spaulding), they have' built two more big hotels... and converted their city into an all-year-round health resort. One of the finest moving-picture theaters in northern Indiana was recently added to the attractions of Michigan City and it is significant that the working people subscribed for a large portion of the stock. A new $1,250,000 plant was recently built at Michigan City. Its output is mostly sold abroad so that, in this case, it was not so much traffic facilities which the company was seeking as it was a location where the community understood the meaning of cooperation. The official bulletin of the Pere Marquette Railroad mentions Michigan City as an example of what can be done through united community effort. But that is not the whole story.

"Besides transforming barren sand dunes into industrial sites; besides spurring the State of Indiana to appropriate $1 million for the conversion of barren wastes into a state park; besides building 30 miles of boulevards; and having building projects costing a total of $5 million, the people of Michigan City have gone to work to make theirs a great convention city. In 1922 they had 11 conventions; in 1923 they had 15, and an equal number have already been secured for 1924."

Writer High concluded that "the spirit of service is infectious - nearly everyone in Michigan City has his share of it. And that is the real secret behind these achievements in a city of 25,000 population." That was the dramatic story of years in which a bleak situation in Michigan City was faced up to. Adversities were overcome. Achievements were notable. Things were turned around. And it all began, as the magazine article so well put it, when some "citizens with something in their hearts besides despair got together.

Diana of the Dunes   
A Tragic but Fascinating Character

Philosophers say the more things change the more they are the same - and so it is with streakers, the current crazies of a zany age. Suddenly it's the "in" thing to dash about in the altogether, startling or titillating sundry oglers. To the naked nuts, it's a brand-new rage ... a never-done-before kick.

Nonsense! Cavorting in the buff really is old stuff, as any Hoosier elder with a bright memory can tell you. A half-century ago, Indiana had a renowned streaker making gaudy headlines. They called her Diana, nude nymph of the dunes.

And for the benefit of others who may suffer delusions of first-ever grandeur, Diana also was a gung-ho women's libber ... a drop-out rebel against society ... a flower child who fled to wilderness ... and died there after a short life that wrote a tragic but fascinating story.

Diana really was Alice Fray, a Chicago doctor's daughter who grew up in a comfortable home with a sister and two brothers, had a happy childhood, a splendid education - including European studies - and in time a good secretarial job.

Small, shapely and lithe, Alice loved nature and often came to Indiana to hike in then-wild and beautiful dune country east of Gary. About 1915, in her early 20s, she grew troubled, hating the city, the sham of society, male chauvinism.

Suddenly Miss Gray rebelled. No one is sure what triggered it - a shattering love affair, perhaps, or quarrel at home, or accumulated frustrations of fighting what then was an undisputed man's world. In an early interview, Alice herself gave these few clues:

"I wanted a life of my own - a free life. The life of a salary earner in the cities is slavery, a constant fight to live. Here (in the dunes) life is so different. My salary when I worked was nothing extraordinary, but here I have lived all winter and summer on my last paycheck. I buy only bread and salt..."

Whatever her inner reasons, Alice Gray came to the dunes with only the clothes she wore, a glass, knife, spoon, blanket and two guns. For a few days the sky was her roof, the sand her bed. Then she found an abandoned fisherman's shack and moved in, later fashioning some "furniture" of driftwood and adding a few utensils and philosophical books.

Alice had one winter of peace and privacy. The spring and summer of 1916 brought trouble, and "streaking" was her undoing.

Most mornings Alice hiked to a nearby bit of deserted beach, shed clothes and plunged into Lake Michigan, skinny-dipping with childish delight because she dearly loved to swim. Emerging, she disported nymph-like - or "streaked" if you prefer - on the beach until dry. Often. she sun-bathed - a nude bronzed goddess.

Inevitably Miller fishermen soon found excuses to cluster off Alice's beach each morning ... and just as inevitably their wives got wise. One marched righteously to the "hussy's" hermit shack to protest. Gun in hand, Alice warned her away.

The fishwife got revenge by tipping off Chicago papers. In no time, Alice's retreat crawled with reporters. She talked with one, pleading to be understood and left alone. That story was sympathetic. The others, mostly made-up hokum, appalled shy, sensitive Miss Gray. They had her flitting sylph-like and naked through the woods and dale. They put words in her mouth, love affairs in her past.

And they tagged her with a name never thereafter shed - Diana of the Dunes. Worse, this yellow journalism infested Diana's dunes with peekers, prowlers and curiosity seekers who made life a hell of dodging and hiding. Gradually, however, the uproar subsided. World War I flamed and Diana, to her joy, was largely forgotten.

She still swam nude and "streaked" on the beach to dry. She roamed the dunes, studied nature, read, reflected - and guarded her privacy with guns and half-wild dogs.

To buy essentials, Diana sold wild berries. Her clothes (when she wore clothes) were crude but serviceable. She made occasional trips to Miller- and more rarely Gary - for food and library books. Among people, she was shy and reserved - never surly, mean or balmy. Her voice was pleasant and melodious, her manner gentle, her courtesy inbred.

World War I ended and 13 months later a new decade began. Contentedly alone and obscure, Diana had no hint that her fleeting years of relative happiness soon would end with a strange mating, unwanted violence and mysterious murder.

No one is quite sure how or exactly when Diana was wooed and won by Paul Wilson, a towering, gangly giant of prodigious strength, volcanic temper and possibly a prison background.

In any case, Paul began sharing Diana's squatter shack in the dunes late in 1921 -- a curious mating of opposites. She was small, lithe, darkhaired, cultured, well-educated, almost dainty despite their crude wild life. He was tall, angular, blond, rawboned, scantly schooled, rough mannered and easily angered.

Their love was strange, yet deep and enduring. Unwavering devotion later carried both through great trouble and travail.

How Paul came to Diana is still a mystery. So is his background. Many versions, none confirmed, have been offered. He was a Texas rattlesnake who read about Diana, fell in love from afar and came to the dunes to woo and win. Or he was an ex-convict holed up in a sand cave ... or an industrial engineer who met Diana while camping and also chose to forsake society's world...or a Michigan City ne'er-do-well with a knack for woodsy courting.

Whatever his origin, Paul Wilson (if that be his true name) was a great comfort to Diana. Tough, resourceful and handy with fists, tools or gun, he won them greater privacy, improved their shack and enlarged their income by fishing and making rustic furniture to sell.

Murder and chain-reaction violence destroyed this idyllic new life. Early in June, 1922, dune hikers found the gruesome remains of a man who had been clubbed or strangled then half-cremated on the spot - not far from Diana's retreat.

Flaring headlines spawned ugly rumors. Paul's trigger temper was well known. So was his great strength, his jealousy, his dislike of strangers.

Hearing the rumors, Wilson and Diana confronted Eugene Frank, a special deputy hired to guard dunes cottages. A violet row ensued. Diana's skull was fractured by a pistol butt and

Paul was shot in the foot. Police arrested both -Wilson and Deputy Frank. Diana went to Gary's Mercy Hospital, near death.

Next day, released on bond, Paul hobbled home to find their shack stripped of almost everything, including Diana's books and writings. Bitterly he blamed Deputy Frank's friends, but police said it could have been souvenir hunters, reporters or cheap thieves.

While Diana hovered near death, Paul next deepened the puzzling murder mystery by telling police a mad, gun-crazy hermit named Burke lived in the dunes and had visited them a time or two.

"He's got one bad foot that leaves an unusual track - and I saw those footprints near the murder scene," Paul concluded.

To prove sincerity, he helped police try to find the gimpy trail, but it was futile. By then, the scene had been thoroughly trampled by police, reporters, and morbid hordes.

Then Paul offered a Diana diary that described their activities in precise detail around the time of the murder.

All this merely complicated the mystery and raised new questions. Burke couldn't be found. Could he have been the victim, slain by Paul? If not, who was the nameless seared corpse? Who killed him? Why?

The questions went unanswered because the body never was identified - although grisly Chicago reporters gave it a real college try. One midnight they reopened the grave and "borrowed" skull, jaw and teeth to try for a dental identification.

That, too, failed and police finally wrote the case off as unsolvable. Ultimately Deputy Frank was stripped of police authority and the assault case against him was dropped. Two years later he fell off a horse and died of a broken neck.

Diana recovered after long hospitalization and, with Paul, tried anew to find peace in obscurity. It was a futile, pathetic struggle. Besides the new publicity, the talk and the dark suspicions which the murder and their fight with Frank had provoked, Diana and Paul had a new enemy - progress. Slowly but inexorably civilization was creeping toward their once-wild sanctuary in the dunes.

Diana's last days were saddest of all: In 1922, a Gary group headed by Sam Reck, bought 600 acres and prepared to create the fine home development which now is posh Ogden Dunes. Smack in the middle of it was Diana's shabby shack. At first they resisted, taking refuge in squatters' rights. But Diana saw the inevitable end. "We must find a new sanctuary," she said.

"I know just the place," Paul replied. "There's some wild, unpopulated country along the Nueces River in Texas. I've been there. We can go by boat - to the Illinois River, the Mississippi, the Gulf..." .

They tried twice in small boats that year. Both voyages failed and Paul and Diana came back to winter again in their beloved dunes. Through the summer of 1923, they worked toward a third departure. A handy mechanic, Paul built a sturdier boat, added a topside cabin, an engine and storage lockers. Late in the fall they left. In November, Reck told newsmen they'd reached the Mississippi and all was going well.

Their boat, the Nueces III, apparently got as far as New Orleans. There, for reasons never clear, Paul and Diana changed their minds and came back to the dunes - probably because Diana's health had been fragile and failing since her skull was cracked.

A quiet, prosaic summer and fall ensued. Paul fished and again built rustic furniture to sell. Occasionally Diana, clad in blue jeans and a man's shirt, guided nature tours through the dunes. Although barely into her 30s, she looked wan and weak and old. But her spirit was bright, her voice cultured and melodious - and children especially loved her.

Came winter, a new year - and suddenly Diana was in the headlines a final time. The night of Feb. 8, 1925, a desperately worried Paul fetched a doctor to their hermit's shack. It was too late. Wasted by uremic infection, Diana already was in coma. Near midnight, she died in Paul's arms.

For Diana, there was one final frustration. She'd asked to be cremated, but no facilities were available. Paul offered to build his own pyre in the dunes and consign Diana to it. Instead, he was persuaded to bury her in Oak Hill Cemetery after orthodox services.

Paul didn't see Diana buried. After chapel services, he broke down completely at her casket. Barely recovered, he was infuriated by a reporter, whipped out a gun and started shooting. Fortunately the slugs went wild and cops jugged Paul to cool off.

Released the next day, he returned to their dunes shack, moped around a few days, then packed up everything, put a torch to the legendary structure - and disappeared.

Five years later, a Paul Wilson came to state prison at Michigan City for a Porter county robbery.. Diana's Paul? No one can be sure. Some say the nude nymph of the dunes' mate went alone to that Nueces river country in Texas and ultimately died there.

If alive, he'd be pushing 100 today. In a curiously offbeat way, the Diana story does finally contrive a happy ending of sorts... because a girl who hungered so desperately in life for privacy and peaceful obscurity seems to at last have found it in death.

For 10 years, Diana's grave in Gary's Oak Hill Cemetery was scrupulously tended by a Miller woman who knew and admired her. Finally that stopped, probably because of illness or death.

Today the grave is overgrown and neglected. There's no stone, and not even the cemetery's oldest workers are sure of its location.

So at long last Diana evidently has found the precious privacy she had the rare courage to seek but the ill fortune never to find.

He Gave His Life for His Country  
Michigan City's Medal of Honor Recipient

Abijah Bigelow, whose story is told in a previous chapter of this publication, is the only Revolutionary War soldier with a direct connection to Michigan City.

That's understandable, since settlers did not begin to make this their hometown until more than 50 years after the War for Independence was fought.

But in all of the nation's wars after Michigan City was established, young men from the community saw action. Michigan City men died, suffered wounds, gave years of their lives, performed acts of gallantry, in the wars.

One Michigan City man, a teen-aged Marine, performed an act of battlefield heroism which cost him his life - and which made him the posthumous recipient of the nation=s highest award for military valor.

The Medal of Honor was presented posthumously to Marine Corps Private First Class Daniel D. Bruce, a Michigan City native who was killed in action in Vietnam at age 18.

President Richard M. Nixon made the presentation in Washington Feb. 16, 1971, to Bruce's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dean Bruce.

The presentation cited Pfc. Bruce for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty."

He was honored for action in combat that saved the lives of three fellow Marines.

The citation said in part: "Early on the morning of March 1, 1969, he was on watch on his night defensive position at Fire Support Base Tomahawk in Quang Nam Province in Vietnam when he heard movements ahead of his station. An enemy explosive charge was thrown toward his position and he reacted instantly, catching the device and shouting to alert his companions.

"Realizing the danger to the adjacent positions he held the device to his body and attempted to carry it away from the vicinity of the entrenched Marines. As he moved away the charge detonated and he absorbed the explosion with his body.

"Pfc. Bruce's indomitable courage, inspiring valor and self-devotion to duty, saved the lives of three of his fellow Marines and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.

"He gallantly gave his life for his country." Daniel D. Bruce was born in Michigan City May 18, 1950. He entered Garfield Elementary School in 1955, attended Barker Junior High School, and was graduated from Elston Senior High School in 1968.

He enlisted in the Marine Reserves in Chicago May 20, 1968, and entered the regular Marine Corps July 17 that year. In September of 1968, he was graduated from recruit training at San Diego, Calif., and then was transferred to Camp Pendleton, where he completed individual combat training in November and basic infantry training in December.

On Jan. 1, 1969, he was promoted to private first class and later that month was ordered to Vietnam. He was assigned to duty as an antitank assault man with Headquarters and Service Co. of the lst Marine Division in Vietnam.

Other medals he had received were the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze Star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Pfc. Bruce was one of 12 American servicemen who died heroically in Vietnam named recipients of the Medal of Honor at the 1971 ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

He was only the second LaPorte County serviceman ever to be named a Medal of Honor recipient, according to records in the Library of Congress.

The other recipient was a Civil War soldier, Aaron Hudson. Library of Congress records show his home only as LaPorte County, noting that he was born in Kentucky and moved to Indiana at an early age. He was awarded the Medal of Honor June 17, 1865, "for the capture of the flag of the Worrill Grays in the state of Georgia.

Pfc. Bruce was the second Indiana serviceman named a Medal of Honor recipient as a result of gallantry in the Vietnam War. The other was Sgt. Sammy L. Davis of Martinsville.

The first in a series of memorial services for the young Michigan City hero took place at the city council meeting March 2, 1971. Mayor Conrad S. Kominiarek presented a plaque to the parents and their other three children, naming the Medal of Honor recipient as an outstanding citizen of Michigan City.

Part of the text of the plaque reads: "This city joins the nation in paying tribute to one of its most gallant sons. While we grieve at his loss, we laud and honor the principles by which he lived and the love of his fellow man that made necessary the ultimate sacrifice...his own life." The council also unanimously adopted a resolution commemorating Pfc. Bruce.

On March 15, 1971, ceremonies at Barker Junior High School and Elston Senior High School honored the young man who had attended those schools.

A monument honoring Pfc. Bruce was dedicated at Washington Park - between the Coast Guard station and the Yacht Club near the marina - at the beginning of the 1975 Summer Festival observance. The monument was erected by the city as one of its American Bicentennial projects.

About 500 persons attended the July 4 dedication ceremony, honoring Pfc. Bruce and 31 other Michigan City servicemen killed in the Vietnam War. Marine Corps Brigadier Gen. Edward A. Wilcox gave the dedicatory address.

People From Our Past was written by Bob Kaser, with the exception of a narrative published by Harriet Martineau in 1837, an article about Daniel Webster written by Jaznes Landing, and the story of Diana of the Dunes, written by Al Spiers. Reference sources for the other articles included Great Lakes Indians, by William J. Kubiak, The Pottawattomie Indians of Southwestern Michigan, by Everett Claspy; Michigan City's First Hundred Years, by Elizabeth M. Munger and a compilation of local historical material by Edna Kitchell, Michigan City Historian.