The first settlers in Wabash County were Colonel David Burr, Colonel Hugh Hanna and Alexander Worth. In January 30, 1833, Wabash County was established and Wabash City was first incorporated in January 1849. Joseph A. Matlock was elected the first mayor of Wabash. Click here for a list of mayor and their years of service.
On January 26, 1856, the first passenger train arrived in Wabash. The railroad continued to play a major role in the development of Wabash. The big Four Railroad (the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad) were persuaded to build shops in Wabash. Neither the railroad nor the canal nor the Indians brought Wabash its greatest claim to fame.
At eight o'clock on the evening of March 31, 1880, Wabash became the first electrically lighted city in the world. Click here to read the article from the Wabash Weekly Plain Dealer.
Wabash County is located in northeastern Indiana approximately eighty-five miles from Indianapolis. The county is largely agricultural and much of Wabash County is rich bottom land on which large crops of corn, wheat, and soybeans are produced. The largest river in the county is the Wabash River. In the late 1960's the Mississinewa and Salamonie were dammed by the United States Corps of Engineers to create two large reservoirs.
The original inhabitants of Wabash County were Native Indians and for hundreds of years it was the home to the Potawatomi and Miami Indians. Initial European contact was made in the 17th century by French explorers and fur trappers, many of whom intermarried. Such names as Godfroy, LaFontaine, and Richardville are still to be found among descendants of the Miami Indians.
In 1826, representatives of the Miami and Potawatomi tribes met with Colonel John Tipton and the United States commissioners at the site of Kin-Com-A-Ong Spring now located within the present city limits of Wabash. The result of this meeting was two significant treaties. The first opened Indian territory in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan to white settlement. The second treaty made a provision for a canal to be built across lands reserved for the Indians.
After resolutions with the Native Americans, white settlement began in earnest. Traders and speculators were among the first. In March 1835, the county was finally politically organized. The main impetus for settlement was the Wabash and Erie Canal. Began in 1832 at Fort Wayne and completed to the Ohio River, it was the longest canal in America. Unfortunately, railroads took over by the 1870's and you now can only find traces of the canal throughout the county.
The citizens of the county have played an active role in the military history of the state and the nation. Wabash solders who fought in our nations conflicts are interred throughout the county. Samual Burdge for example, a Revolutionary War Veteran, lies buried at Stockdale.
During the Civil War thousands of Indiana young men volunteered for service and many companies were raised in Wabash County. Four regiments, the 75th, the 89th , the 101st, and the 118th, began their military training at Camp Wabash. This camp, also known as Camp Pettit, was located just south of the Wabash River in what is now the incorporated city of Wabash.
Both World Wars drew from Wabash County, which provided not only personnel but also materials necessary to carry on the war effort. The Service Motor Company produced ambulances and engines for airplanes needed during World War I. During World War II the Honeywell Company made bomb sites and tank periscopes. The General Tire Company produced rubber products. Wabash County has been justly proud of her role in the defense of the nation and perpetuates the memory of these sacrifices with an eternal flame shrine in front of the Courthouse.