Kendallville, a city packed with a rich and vibrant history, is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. From humble beginnings, Kendallville emerged to become Noble County’s largest city, and with a population of nearly 10,000, it plays a dynamic role in growing the Hoosier economy.
This session, I authored a House resolution recognizing Kendallville for its sesquicentennial birthday and for serving as a major industrial center for the state. The city, known for its famous vanilla and caramels, manufactures water pumps, plastics and machine tools, just to list a few.
To truly understand what a momentous occasion this is, I believe it is important to know where Kendallville originated from and how it was developed. I would like to provide a brief glimpse into how Kendallville was founded and became the leading city in Noble County.
According to the History of Noble County, authored by Samuel E. Alvord, prior to 1832, the present site of Kendallville was entirely uninhabited. Considered the first person to settle in the area, David Bundle, which little is known about, foraged his way through the wilderness and later erected a simple log cabin there. The log cabin was later sold to Mrs. Frances Dingman, a wealthy widow with five or six children, who was the first person to officially own land and construct the first frame house in 1836.
That same year, William Mitchell of New York, constructed a double log cabin and was followed by many others increasing the population size to approximately 35 residents. Mitchell owned around 500 acres, possessed considerable means and opened the channels of communication by establishing the first post office in his cabin.
The post office was later moved and shared its location with a small convenient store. The office building was named after the Postmaster General, Amos Kendall, who was appointed by President Andrew Jackson. As the town developed around the post office in 1847, it was then christened as Kendallville in honor of the Postmaster General.
Although it was always referred to as Kendallville, the town was officially incorporated in 1863 and then again as a city three years later. Over time, Kendallville became an attractive location to raise a family with plenty of land to cultivate and easy access to the city of Fort Wayne.
With many people settling in Kendallville, a few individuals emerged that made considerable contributions to the state’s and nation’s history, including: Dr. Harold Urey, Nobel Prize recipient in Chemistry (1934); Arthur Mapes, author of Indiana’s state poem (adopted by the General Assembly in 1963); and State Representative L.D. Baker who was an influential leader at the statehouse and was integral in adopting the peony as the state flower (1957).
It is apparent that even though Kendallville began humbly 150 years ago, it has flourished into a city filled with rich Hoosier heritage. In celebrating this historic year, I encourage you to participate in many of the exciting and educational events taking place in Kendallville beginning June 1st. The events are located on the Kendallville Sesquicentennial Facebook page or you can visit www.visitnoblecounty.com and click on the Events link provided on the homepage. Also, I encourage you to join me as part of the birthday celebration on June 4th, at 119 West Mitchell Street for a proclamation ceremony honoring Kendallville. I look forward to celebrating the history of this incredible city together and hope to see you all there.