Local History

Early History of St. Joseph County

Before any white European explorers had stepped foot upon the soil of the Old Northwest, the St. Joseph Valley was occupied by Native Americans. There have been several tribes and early native peoples located around the St. Joseph River. Some of the earliest groups to occupy what would later become northern Indiana and southern Michigan were the Miami tribe. Later, the Potawatomi would move into the St. Joseph River Valley region, utilizing the rich food and natural resources found along the river. The Potawatomi would occupy this region of Indiana and Michigan until the majority were forcibly removed in the 1840s.

The first white footprint placed in the soil of northern Indiana was that of Father James Marquette, who traveled up the Kankakee River and across the portage to the St. Joseph River in May of 1675.  “It was by way of the Sault de Ste. Marie (The Falls of St. Mary’s River) and the straits of Mackinaw that the French reached the Northwest from Canada. In 1641 the first Canadian envoys met the western Indians at the Sault. It was not, however, until 1659 that any of the adventurous fur traders spent a winter on the shores of the northern lakes, nor till 1660 that the devotion of the missionaries led by Father Mesnard, caused the first station to be established. In 1668, came Fathers Claude Dablon and James Marquette and founded the mission at the Sault.”1


The main reason for the popularity of the South Bend area was that it was closest to the Kankakee River. To get to the Mississippi River from, let’s say, eastern Canada, you sailed west through the Great Lakes until you reached Lake Michigan. Then you traveled along the eastern or western shore of Lake Michigan until you reached the mouth of the River of the Miamis, or the St. Joseph River, and up that river to the portage at South Bend. A portage is a trail between two rivers. The South Bend portage was the shortest overland route to the Kankakee River. So, you got out of the St. Joseph River and walked overland along the portage to the Kankakee. The Kankakee River flowed into the Illinois River and then into the Mississippi. Once you got to the Mississippi, you could travel north, south, or cross the river to explore the West. This was the route used for centuries, first by Native Americans, then the French explorers and traders to travel from Detroit to New Orleans.

In addition to the portage, there were several other Native American trails that crossed throughout the Michiana (the combined Michigan and Indiana communities) area. One trail was the Fort Wayne Trail that lead from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois. Another popular trail was the Great Sauk Trail that started in Detroit, Michigan, went through Chicago and split into two trails in Missouri, “later becoming known as the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail.” 2

In 1680, the French established and built Fort Saint Joseph, first built as a mission, in Michigan about 60 miles from the mouth of the St. Joseph River. The fort was established to protect the St. Joseph waterway and the portage trail. Fort St. Joseph became one of the most popular posts in the Old Northwest territory. However, the French lost the fort after the French and Indian War in 1763. The British then occupied Fort St. Joseph and many residents loyal and friendly with the French moved out of the Michiana area. The British never got a community established, and in 1781 French and Spanish soldiers captured and destroyed the fort. In the 1830’s Niles, Michigan would be established near Fort St. Joseph. Even today, Niles is known as the city of four flags, because four nations occupied the fort at one time or another (French, British, Spanish, and American).

The first real permanent residents of South Bend were the fur traders who had settled in the area because of the rich wildlife that congregated along, and in, the St. Joseph River. The first successful trader to occupy the St. Joseph River Valley was William Burnett. Mr. Burnett was from a very prominent New Jersey family, well educated, and had family wealth. He was attracted to this area because of the possibility of great wealth participating in the fur trade. Burnett built a storage warehouse for storing furs, maple sugar, grain, and salt near the mouth of the St. Joseph River (near the present town of St. Joseph, Michigan). Like most other traders, Mr. Burnett married a Native American wife. His death date has been lost over the centuries.

Pierre Navarre

Pierre-NavarreThe first white settler to settle in present-day St. Joseph County was Pierre Navarre. Mr. Navarre was of French descent, well educated, and moved to St. Joseph Country from Monroe, Michigan in 1820. At the time of this move, Mr. Navarre was an agent for the American Fur Company.3 Prior to Mr. Navarre settling in St. Joseph County, he had trapped and traded furs among the Native Americans that lived in the area. But, in 1820 he decided to permanently reside in South Bend and open a standing trading post.

Pierre married a Potawatomi woman named Angelique and had six children (and, possibly, ten children), three sons and three daughters. Pierre and his new family built a log home, the first home to be erected in the county, on the north side of the St. Joseph River, now in South Bend.4 Mr. Navarre located his home on a trail in which Native Americans traveled and traded every spring and fall to reach the other posts along the river, down to Lake Michigan. This brought Pierre ample amounts of furs, maple sugar, baskets, and other articles. He was very loyal to the Potawatomi tribe and when they were forcibly removed from the Michiana area in the 1840s, he traveled west with the tribe, but afterward returned home. Pierre Navarre died in the home of his daughter on December 27, 1864. His body was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery on the grounds of the University of Notre Dame. Navarre’s cabin is still standing and has been moved to Leeper Park East in downtown South Bend.

Alexis Coquillard

Alexis-CoquillardAlexis Coquillard established the first American home in St. Joseph County. He is usually regarded as the founder of the city of South Bend. Mr. Coquillard was born in Detroit September 28, 1795. He served in the American forces during the War of 1812 under the leadership of William Henry Harrison. After the war, he returned to the St. Joseph Valley where he became an employee of John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company.

In 1823, Mr. Coquillard built a trading post on the St. Joseph River. Along with a partner, Francis Comparet, who ran an associate trading post in Fort Wayne, the two trading posts became the centers of the fur trade with the Native Americans of northwestern Indiana and southwestern Michigan. In 1824, Alexis Coquillard married Frances Comparet, the daughter of his partner.

On Monday afternoon, January 8, 1855, Mr. Coquillard was examining the ruins of his flouring mill, which had burned the previous Saturday, and accidentally fell from a beam on which he was walking 16 or 18 feet below, striking with his whole weight on the front part of his skull, crushing it in, so that he lived but about one hour. He did not speak after his fall, or give any evidence of being alive. The funeral procession which followed his remains to the chapel of Notre Dame showed how extensively he was respected when living, and how sincerely all mourned for him in death. During the day of his funeral, places of business in South Bend remained closed.5

Lathrop Taylor


In 1827 Lathrop Taylor settled in South Bend. He was a native of Clinton, New York, and was born July 4, 1805. Just like many of the first residents in South Bend, Mr. Taylor was a fur trader who relocated to this area. It wasn’t long until he built his own trading post, and along with Coquillard, he established a thriving business here in South Bend. Mr. Taylor became very important in the formation of the city of South Bend and St. Joseph County and held some of the first official offices of duty in South Bend.


Henry M. Stull

When Henry Stull came to South Bend there were only two trading posts in the area, owned by Coquillard and Taylor. There were only a few houses, no streets, and only Indian trails running through the thickly wooded area now known as South Bend. Henry built a log cabin for his family and later built a larger, more modern home on South Michigan Street. Mr. Stull passed away some years before his wife, who died in 1879. Mary Stull, the daughter of Henry Stull, married John Mohler (J.M.) Studebaker.

Horatio Chapin


Horatio Chapin was born in Massachusetts in 1803. He moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1822, and then moved to South Bend in 1831. Mr. Chapin became the superintendent of the first Sabbath-school in South Bend, which was organized in 1833. In 1838 he became a cashier at the State Bank of Indiana, a post he held for twenty years.6 In 1862 he became involved with a private banking house that was named Chapin, Wheeler and Company of Chicago. After he retired he moved back to South Bend. He died May 13, 1871.



Colonel Norman Eddy

Colonel-Norman-EddyNorman Eddy was born in New York, his father being one of the earliest settlers of the Cayuga county region. In 1836, after studying medicine, Col. Eddy moved to Mishawaka to begin his medical practice. He moved to South Bend in 1847, where he remained until his death.

In 1847, Col. Eddy decided to change professions and enter the study of law. He became a lawyer in April of 1847 when he was accepted into the Indiana Bar Association. Studying law for only three years, Col. Eddy was elected an Indiana State Senator on the Democratic ticket. He was elected to Congress in 1852, having Schuyler Colfax as an opponent. Col. Norman Eddy received many governmental tasks and served the United States government in many capacities.

When the American Civil War broke out, Col. Eddy organized the 48th Indiana Regiment, of which he was appointed Colonel (hence the title that he would carry the rest of his life). He was severely wounded at Iuka and resigned as disabled after he fought at Vicksburg. He returned to South Bend and resumed his law career. He remained in South Bend until his death.

Judge Thomas Stanfield

stanfieldThomas Stanfield was born in Logan County, Ohio on October 17, 1816. The Stanfield family moved from Ohio to southern Michigan in 1830. After unsuccessful attempts to buy land, Tomas’’ father moved the family to South Bend. Judge Stanfield wrote this about early South Bend:

Young as I was, I was charmed with the natural beauty of this country. It was distinguished as oak openings, thick woods and prairie. At this time hardly a furrow had been turned upon the prairie; a few cabins were scattered around in the oak openings bordering the prairies.7

When he became a young adult he was South Bend’s first Assistant Postmaster. He studied law in the office of Judge Sample and was later made a judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Indiana.8 Judge Stanfield was an early judge of Indiana and had to travel over eleven counties, holding court. While working as a circuit judge, he became instrumental in attracting the railroads to build in the new territory of northern Indiana. Judge Thomas Stanfield died September 12, 1885.

Almond Bugbee

Born in Hyde Park, Vermont on January 3, 1815, Almond Bugbee became an orphan at the age of ten. At the age of 16 he learned the trade of a tanner, currier and shoemaker. Mr. Bugbee was intending to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but on his way, he heard about the many prospects in South Bend and Almond decided to see for himself. He arrived in South Bend in 1837 and began work as a shoemaker. By December he had opened a shoe store of his own. “In 1842, however, Mr. Bugbee purchased a tannery of G.D. Edge, which he enlarged, equipped with water power, and at that time gave employment to more men than any one employer in South Bend.”9 He was also the first person to see shoes that were manufactured ready-to-wear.

Almond Bugbee married Adelia Ann Crocker of South Bend and they had one son, Willis A. Bugbee. Almond married again after the death of Adelia in 1861, to Mary P. Moody. Mr. Bugbee was against slavery and helped African-American slaves to escape from the South. His home was a station on the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves would come to Mr. Bugbee’s house in the early morning, would hide all day, and, at nightfall, he would direct them to the next ‘‘station.’’ Almond Bugbee served the community well and was mourned at his death on May 24, 1904.

The Removal of the Miami and Potawatomi Tribes from Northern Indiana

The excitement caused by the Black Hawk War was the beginning of the downfall of Native American tribes in Indiana. Although these Indians were perfectly quiet and peaceful and had nothing to do with causing the Black Hawk War, the white settlers of Indiana could not get used to their presence in the community.

As early as 1819 Congress had planned to civilize (Christianize) the Indians. A law of that year gave the President power to use $10,000 to pay the tuition of Indian children enrolled in mission schools. Several mission schools had been established in Indiana and were said to have done good work. However, there was no backing for this law and nothing of importance was accomplished.

In 1822 the system of registering traders with the Indiana government was abolished and a horde of irresponsible and depraved traders were allowed into the tribal areas of local Indians. These traders carried whiskey to the tribe and traded it for furs. They are, basically, categorized as petty thieves.

Various missionaries and other friends of the Indians soon began to plead to the government for help. Most of them agreed that it would be better to get the tribes moved beyond the frontier. It was a policy of the Jacksonian Democrats to get them out of the way of the white settlers. The law of May 28, 1830, permitted any tribe that cared to, to trade its land for lands beyond the Mississippi River. The law of July 9, 1832, which provided for a complete reorganization of the Indian service, also appropriated $20,000 to hold councils among the Indiana tribes in order to induce them to migrate beyond the Mississippi.

During the summer of 1833, and later, agents were busy along the upper Wabash and on the Eel River gathering up parties of Indians and transporting them to the West. A favorite plan was to give horses to a number of chiefs and pay their way out to the new country on a tour of inspection. If necessary, they were then bribed to give a glowing report of the country they had seen. The Indians were then persuaded to emigrate.

The best illustration of the hatred that the Indiana settlers bore toward the Indians is their treatment of the Potawatomies, whom they forcibly expelled form Indiana in the summer of 1838. The Potawatomies originally hunted over the region south of Lake Michigan, north of the Wabash, and west of the St. Joseph and St. Mary’s rivers.

They were usually hostile to the Americans when war was on. They led in the Indian massacre at Fort Dearborn, and in the attacks on Fort Wayne and Fort Harrison. Most of the warriors under the famous Prophet at Tippecanoe, as well as those who perpetrated the Pigeon Roost murders and harassed the White river border from Callonia to the Wabash above Vincennes during the following years, were thought to be Potawatomies. On the other hand, they had given the settlers the land for the Michigan road-a body of land equal to a strip a mile wide from the Ohio to Lake Michigan.

Few settlers penetrated their lake-region hunting grounds before 1830. Beginning as early as 1817, in a treaty at Fort Meigs, the government adopted the unfortunate policy of making special reservations for Indian chiefs who refused to join the tribe in selling land. As a result of this policy several bands of Potawatomies had special reservations in Marshall and adjoining counties. The treaty of 1832 took from the tribes its tribal lands, leaving Chief Menominee a reservation around Twin Lakes and extending up to the present city of Plymouth. Down around Maxinkuckee, Indiana, Chief Aubbeenaubee had a large reservation in Tippecanoe Township. In fact, Indians claimed and occupied the whole county except for the strip of land given for the Michigan road, stretching across the county north and south through Plymouth.

In 1834 a commission tried to buy the Indian land and succeeded in making a contract for most of it at fifty cents an acre. But on account of some individual reservations made in the treaty the government refused to ratify the purchase.

Colonel Abel C. Pepper, of Lawrenceburg, then Indian agent, succeeded, in 1836, in buying the Indians out at $1 per acre, giving the Indians the privilege of remaining two years on the lands. The Indians asserted that this cession was obtained by unfair means, but it seemed to have been accomplished as most others had been.

Anticipating the land sale that was to take place when the Indian lease expired, August 5, 1838, squatters began to enter the country and settle on the Indian land. They expected to hold their land later by the right of pre-emption. The Indians began to show their resentment as the time for their forced removal approached. They contended that the chiefs had no right to sell the lands, and went so far as to murder one of the chiefs who had ‘‘touched the quill.’’ General Morgan and Colonel Pepper were busy among them, trying to persuade them that the West was a much better place for them. Councils were held at Plymouth and at Dixie Lake, but the Indians were resolute.

Pioneers had already squatted on the Indian lands. On August 5th these squatters demanded possession of the Indian wigwams and fields. Many of the Indians had been persuaded to plant corn. They were told that the government would not sell their land until it was surveyed, and that could not be done before the summer of 1838.

The Indians refused to give possession and both parties resorted to violence. The fur traders in the region sided with the Indians and advised them to resist the squatters. The Catholic priest located in the Twin Lake Mission also advised them that the squatters had no right to demand their land, especially the crop of corn that was now growing.

A squatter name Waters, it seems, was especially persistent in demanding that the Indians give him possession of a quarter section of land he had laid claim to. About the middle of August some Indians battered down his cabin door with an ax. In return the squatters joined together and burned eight or ten wigwams.

The pioneers along the frontier were expecting trouble. It had been only a few years since the scare of the Black Hawk War. The Miamis had been sullen all the season. Stragglers from the transported tribes were returning from the West and telling how their fellow tribesmen had suffered from cold and hunger out on the Plains. So, when word was received that the Indians were committing acts of violence, the government acted swiftly.

Colonel Pepper called all the warriors together in council at Twin Lakes on August 29, 1838. He could do nothing with them, however. The old men had lost control of the young warriors of their tribe. All flatly refused to leave, saying that both they and the President had been deceived. While they were sitting in council, John Tipton and his militia arrived. The government’’s agents had been preparing all summer for the removal of the tribe, but, perhaps, would not have been done until the cool weather of the autumn.

As soon as Colonel Pepper of Logansport had heard of the first Indian refusal to move-and he heard as soon as a courier from the squatters could reach him, August 26, 1838-he at once sent a dispatch by mounted courier to Governor David Wallace asking for a good general and at least one hundred soldiers. He reported that the Potawatomies on Yellow River were in arms and an outbreak was expected at any moment. This message reached Governor Wallace on the next day. The same day he received word the Governor sent an order by courier to John Tipton of Logansport, ordering him to muster the Cass and Miami County militia and proceed quickly to the scene of trouble.

Tipton lost no time in enrolling the militia. They left Logansport at 1 p.m. August 29. At 10 p.m., they went into camp at Chippewa. Breaking camp at 3 a.m., they reached Twin Lakes and found Colonel Pepper and the Indians in council. Tipton at once stated his business, scolding the chiefs for the violence. The Indians made no excuses for the outbreaks and again refused to leave their homes. From the report it seems clear the whites were the aggressors and had done nearly all the damage. Tipton wasted no words, but established a camp on an island in the lake and detained all the Indian chiefs present, which numbered about 200. As all the leaders were present it was easy to control the rest. All were disarmed as soon as they were found.

Squads of soldiers patrolled northern Indiana in all directions looking for the Indians and driving them to the Twin Lakes area. Many, fearing harm to those chiefs at the council, came in to see what was wrong. By September 1st more than 700 were rounded up. All the Indian wigwams and cabins were destroyed. Their horses and their property were brought into camp.

Early on the morning of September 4th, Tipton commenced to load 13 army wagons with the Indians personal property. About 400 horses were found and kept on the island until Tipton was ready to start.

The procession left the Twin Lakes area on September 4th and dragged its mournful way south over the Michigan Road through Chippewa, traveling 21 miles before establishing camp. Father Petit, the missionary whom Bishop Brute had stationed there, had been allowed to gather the Indians into the little chapel and conduct a farewell mass before they started. The first day’s march was excessively tiring. No water could be found for drinking and the road was dusty. They traveled from 9 a.m. to sunset, the mounted militia prodding on the stragglers. The next day 41 Indians were unable to move. Others had to wait on the sick. Beef, flour and bacon had been ordered from Logansport, 46 miles away, but only a little had reached them.

On September 5th they reached Mud Creek. Twenty guards deserted during the day, stealing Indian horses on which to get away. On September 6th the Indians marched 17 miles, reaching Logansport, about 800 strong. They waited near the town three days for the government agents to make better arrangements for traveling. One-half of the militia was discharged and half were kept to accompany the Indians to the Indiana state line.

By this time the Indian children and old people were completely worn out. The children, especially, were dying in great numbers, not being used to such rigorous work. Physicians from Logansport reached the Indians on September 9th and reported three hundred unfit for travel. The march from this time was not so rapid. William Polke took a small detachment of troops and revisited the abandoned villages to see if any Potawatomies had returned. Several children died during the stay at Logansport.

On September 10th they started at 9 a.m. and skirted the north bank of the Wabash all day, reaching Winnamac’s old village by 5 p.m. Food was very scarce. The priest was given permission to say mass every evening. They left Winnamac at 10 a.m., marched seventeen miles on the 11th, and camped at Pleasant Run at 5 p.m.

The next day the haggard group forded the Tippecanoe River at 11 a.m. and passed Tippecanoe Battlefield at noon. Here, Tipton distributed $5,000 worth of dry goods, hoping to raise the spirit of the Indians.

Chief Wewissa’s mother died on the 12th at the extreme age of 100. She had asked to be killed and buried with her fathers at the Mission and the chief had decided to humor her, but the white authorities would not permit it.

On September 13th the group reached Lagrange on the Wabash, a short distance below Lafayette, marching eighteen miles. One hundred and sixty were under the care of Dr. Ritchie and his son, the attending physicians. They were almost entirely out of medicine. The children were dying at the rate of from 3 to 5 a day. On the 14th they reached Williamsport. On the 16th they reached Danville, Illinois. The heat and dust was getting worse. Large numbers of sick had to be left in the road. Horses were worn out and the guards were nearly all sick, and unable to proceed.

At Sandusky Point, Illinois, on September 18th, Tipton turned the command of the group over to Judge William Polke, who had been appointed by the national government to oversee the removal. Judge Polke, Father Petit, and an escort of fifteen men continued with the broken tribe to their destination on the Osage River in Kansas. The journey required about two months with the cost the lives at one-fifth of the tribe.

A few Potawatomies remained in Indiana scattered on small reservations in various parts of the State. The larger numbers of these were on the lower Mississinewa, around Maxinkuckee Lake, and around small lakes in Kosciusko County. The introduction of settlers, whiskey, and white culture practically annihilated a native culture. Northern Indiana has kept the many place names that have Native American influence, but has found no room for a modern tribe representation.

The Trail of Death, as it became known, was not one of the shining moments in Indiana history.

Early South Bend

St. Joseph County was formally created in 1830, with four original townships. Lathrop Taylor and Alexis Coquillard plotted the town of South Bend in 1831. Most of the inhabitants of the town were tavern owners, merchants, or fur traders. The population of South Bend in 1831 was around 128 men, women, and children. 10 This is the original wording of the court record:

State of Indiana, St. Joseph County, ss.:

On this 28th day of March, A.D. 1831, Alexis Coquillard and Lathrop M. Taylor, the proprietors named in the foregoing instrument and town plat of the town of South Bend, personally appeared before me, one of the associate judges of the St. Joseph circuit court in and for said county, and severally acknowledged the signing and sealing of the aforesaid plat, to be their own free act and deed for the purposes therein expressed.

Given under my hand and seal the day and year first above written.

William Brookfield,

Ass’t J.C.C.11

The first industry in South Bend was developed in the in the late 1830’s. Some of the first factories were glass factories, but their product was so poor in quality, the companies did not last. However, in the middle of the 1840’s, industry began to grow around the South Bend area, especially along the St. Joseph River. The early industries were located on two races (or man-made canals), one on each side of the St. Joseph River in downtown South Bend. The race on the east side was known as the East Race and it covered an area bounded by the St. Joseph River, Niles Avenue, Madison Street, and Corby Street. The race on the west side of the river was known as the West Race and runs next to the South Bend Century Center. The industries harnessed waterpower for their production needs. Many of the major industries started on one of the two races before relocated to other locations after the development of electric power.12

In 1846 another village was platted and added to St. Joseph County. The town of Lowell, Indiana was formed and covered the area between Washington Street to just north of Cedar Street; the river to just east of Hill Street. The founders of Lowell hoped to capture the success of industry of its namesake, Lowell, Massachusetts. However, in 1867 South Bend annexed the town of Lowell and it ceased to exist.

City Improvements


The first electric producing plant in South Bend had to be tied to the East and West Race along the St. Joseph River. The partnership of Abraham Harper, William Patterson, and Lathrop Taylor into the South Bend Manufacturing Company brought the first usable dam to the St. Joseph River in 1842. The South Bend Hydraulic Company had ownership of the water proceeding down the East Race. A steam-powered generator was used on the East Race to produce vast quantities of power that lighted and heated most of the city of Mishawaka and South Bend. In 1903 the ownership of the West Race was purchased by the Oliver Chilled Plow Company. The Oliver Chilled Plow Company constructed a power plant on the West Race (which a part of the old plant can still be seen). The power plant was so efficient and powerful that it supplied electricity for light, heat, and power to the Oliver Opera House, Oliver Hotel, factories, and other Oliver properties.13 These power plants remained on the races of the St. Joseph River until the invention of self-contained coal/steam driven generators that allowed companies to move away from the East and West Race.


The first locomotive to reach Mishawaka and South Bend roared into town the evening of October 4, 1851, when the locomotive, John Stryker, came puffing into the stations to a grand collection of local citizens clapping and cheering.14 The South Bend Street Railway Company was formed in 1873 to investigate the feasibility of electric streetcars being constructed in South Bend. In 1882 the first overhead or trolley system was attempted-the first time electrified streetcars were put into service anywhere in the world. However, the cars could only travel part of a city block because of the deterioration of electric current over a long expanse of wire (before electric transformers were used). In the latter part of 1882, after the electricity problem was solved, another streetcar company constructed an electric streetcar line from South Bend to Mishawaka (a distance of four miles) that was a successful enterprise.15


The first telegraph line strung through northern Indiana was completed in 1847. However, because investors were slow to devote money to this endeavor, it was 1848 before South Bend was in communication with the whole country. The telegraph line was constructed between Buffalo, New York and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The telegraph soon gave way to the telephone. The South Bend Telephone exchange was authorized to erect poles and wires in March of 1880.[16] The lines extended to include Mishawaka and other places outside of St. Joseph County. The first phones created were hooked into “party lines.” Party lines are where everyone’s phone on a city block is connected into the same line. Each household had its own ring pattern or sets of rings to alert the members of the home that they had a call. In 1899 the first direct dial (private line) phone was installed to the Oliver Chilled Plow Works factory office.

Water Works

Most early residents of South Bend received drinking water from wells or the St. Joseph River itself. However, in 1871 there was a plan by the Holly Water Works Company to provide the city of South Bend with water that could be piped directly into homes (and provide water for fighting fires). This was going to be accomplished by the construction of a standpipe (or water tower). When the standpipe was pumped full of water the pressure (or weight) on the water mains throughout the city would be equal (there would be equal water pressure). The leader in support of the standpipe was Leighton Pine the superintendent of Singer Sewing Machine company (which had just recently moved to the East Race on Mr. Pine’s invitation). A huge debate between Mr. Pine and supporters of a reservoir-type water system raged for months. The standpipe finally won majority support in 1872 and Mr. Pine’s plan would be put into action.

The standpipe was constructed with the following dimensions and materials:

A wrought iron pipe 5 feet in diameter and 200 feet high; the weight of the iron plates that made up the outside of the standpipe was 42,000 pounds; the castings for the support of the pipe, resting upon concrete foundations, weighed 12,180 pounds; the iron bolts used to put the plates together weighed 250 pounds; between the pipe and the protecting wall (the steel plates) was a winding stairway of 290 steps to the top; a roof was installed on the top of the standpipe with a diameter of 22 feet.[17]

The standpipe was raised at the crossing of Pearl, Jefferson, and Carroll Streets in South Bend (which is now the parking lot of the Century Center). After the construction of the standpipe it had to be lifted into place. “The undertaking of lifting this mass of iron from the ground to perpendicular was the greatest engineering feat ever attempted in this part of the country. A like attempt at Toledo [Ohio] resulted in the falling and breaking of the stand pipe when it had been lifted half way up.”18 The raising of the standpipe began on Friday, November 14, 1873, which raised the pipe 22 feet off the ground. On Saturday, November 15 the raising continued until 4 p.m. when the standpipe reached an elevation of 70 degrees and hung in the air that night. Raising continued throughout the day on Sunday and finally the standpipe was placed into its footing at 11 a.m. on Monday, November 17, 1873. The great standpipe never cracked or bent and stood 200 feet perpendicular from its rocky base.19 The standpipe was torn down in the 1920s.


1. Howard, Timothy Edward. A History of St. Joseph County Indiana: Volume 1. Lewis Publishing. Chicago, 1907.

2. Palmer, John. Early South Bend Manufacturers and Their Influence on Ethnic Settlement Patterns. Unpublished.

3.  Howard, Timothy Edward. A History of St. Joseph County Indiana: Volume 1. Lewis Publishing. Chicago, 1907.

4.  Ibid.

5.  Chapman, Chas. C. History of St. Joseph County Indiana. Chapman and Company. Chicago, 1880.

6.  Ibid.

7.  Ibid.

8.  Brown, Edythe J., ed. The Story of South Bend. South Bend Vocational School Press, Indiana. 1920.

9.  Howard, Timothy Edward. A History of St. Joseph County Indiana: Volume 1. Lewis Publishing. Chicago, 1907.

10. Palmer, John. Early South Bend Manufacturers and Their Influence on Ethnic Settlement Patterns. Unpublished.

11.  Howard, Timothy Edward. A History of St. Joseph County Indiana: Volume 1. Lewis Publishing. Chicago, 1907.

12.  Palmer, John. Early South Bend Manufacturers and Their Influence on Ethnic Settlement Patterns. Unpublished.

13.  Howard, Timothy Edward. A History of St. Joseph County Indiana: Volume 1. Lewis Publishing. Chicago, 1907.

14.  Ibid.


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