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History of Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne, the county seat of Allen County, derives its name from a U.S. military fort established in 1794 by Gen. Anthony Wayne. This fort, built where the St. Joseph and St. Mary’s rivers come together to form the Maumee, followed Wayne's victory over the Miami Indians. The region was originally the capital of the Miami nation, then known by the name Kekionga. The first European settlers were French fur traders who established their trading post during the 1680s. The place was the main portage between the Great Lakes via the Maumee and the Mississippi rivers. The first French port, named Fort Miamis, was built in 1697 and was part of a group of forts built between Quebec and St. Louis. Following the French and Indian War, the fort was annexed by the British in 1760 and renamed Fort Miami. The British dominion was however short lived. The fort was taken over by the Indians following Pontiac's Rebellion. Indian rule lasted for about 30 years, following which the United States army attacked the region and established their hold. Fort Wayne was built following this victory. In September, 1813, the fort was besieged by Indians, who retreated when General William Henry Harrison arrived with reinforcements. The first settlement took place in 1815 and the fort was abandoned in 1819. Although no traces of the original fort remain, a reconstruction, Historic Fort Wayne, is open to the public. Fort Wayne was platted in 1824, at which time it was made the county seat. The city charter was obtained in 1840. The local economy was aided by the arrival of the Wabash and Erie Canal in 1843. In 1871, the National League of Professional Base Ball Players was formed and its first game was between the Fort Wayne Kekiongas and the Cleveland Forest Citys on May 4, 1871. Fort Wayne saw an increase in its population during the 19th century with the arrival of immigrants from Germany and Ireland. The immigrants brought about a mixed culture in the city. The large number of Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches bears testimony to this diversity. In 1893, the city hall, now known as Old City Hall, was built. Today it is occupied by the Fort Wayne History Center. Fort Wayne suffered serious damage from the flooding of its three major rivers in 1913. Despite these setbacks, Fort Wayne saw the construction of Lincoln Tower, then the tallest building in Indiana, which was completed in 1930. The oldest college in Fort Wayne is Concordia Theological Seminary, founded in 1846. Saint Francis College (1890), Fort Wayne Bible College (1904), Indiana Institute of Technology (1930), and Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne (1964) are other four-year institutions. Fort Wayne is today known for its excellent park system, including the grave of Johnny Appleseed in the Johnny Appleseed Memorial Park. The city boasts the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.