Who is the founder of Mishawaka? Most likely you either guessed Princess Mishawaka or realized you had no idea. The answer will surprise you.
Tim McDonald serves up really great food every morning to diners that visit his Lincolnway restaurant. And each dish comes with a side of Mishawaka history.
"I love Mishawaka history," says McDonald.
McDonald decorates his restaurant, Macadoo's in Mishawaka, with historical memorabilia. Each booth has a different theme. He is just about to create a booth to recognize Dodge. McDonald knows a lot about Mishawaka history. But, like most people, McDonald has no idea who Alanson Hurd is.
"No, I don't know that one. Who is that?" asks McDonald.
Believe it or not, Alanson Hurd is the founder of Mishawaka.
And it is no wonder no one knows who Alanson Hurd is: There are no parks named after him. No streets named after him. Nothing is named after him. That kind of irks Mishawaka history buff and Penn High School teacher Pete DeKever.
"It is a way for us to see the importance of where we live," says DeKever as he talks about knowing the history of your community.
DeKever says Alanson Hurd was born in New York in 1804. He went to Detroit in the 20s looking for opportunity. He wanted to get into the iron business so he came looking in northern Indiana.
"He needs water power and he needs iron ore. And when he sees those two things he knows this is the place to build his iron business. And that is the origin of Mishawaka," says DeKever.
In 1833 Alanson Hurd purchases land and begins to establish his factory: St. Joseph Iron Works.
"He also purchased that square mile that surrounds downtown Mishawaka with the expectation that that would be the origins of a town," says DeKever.
And soon a town sprang up around his factory. Eventually it would be called Mishawaka. And according to DeKever, it was all thanks to Alanson Hurd.
This of course is a surprise to McDonald...and just about everyone after they find out. Now that he knows, though, maybe he'll dedicate a booth to Alanson Hurd...or at least a seat.
According to the Center for History, by the end of 1837 there were four independent towns within a sizable area surrounding Alanson Hurd's factory. And on February 17th, 1838 an act of the state legislature was approved to combine those four towns into one called Mishawaka. The name Mishawaka is an Indian word that means "big rapids." Some people believe Mishawaka is named after an Indian princess, others believe that is just a myth.