Research Library Research Library

Location: Lawn of Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant, Pine Lake Ave., La Porte

Dedicated: April 29, 1999

Front View

Northwest Territory formed 1787:
Indiana Territory formed 1800.
Admission of Ohio 1803 and formation of Michigan Territory 1805 established Indiana Territory's northern boundary at southern tip of Lake Michigan. When Indiana became a state in 1816, Congress moved boundary ten miles north giving Indiana part of Lake Michigan.

Back View

Northern boundary of Indiana Territory established at southern tip of Lake Michigan when Michigan Territory formed in 1805.

Indiana Territory Boundary Line

The Old Northwest Territory was the first step westward by the United States in its march from ocean to ocean or, if you will, from sea to shining sea. Thomas Jefferson's conception of subdividing the new west was contemporary with his Ordinance of 1784 and allowing for ten states to be established. However, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, established the precedent followed to this day for admitting states to the Union. There would be six states formed from this territory: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The Indiana Territory was formed May 7, 1800 and Governor William Henry Harrison was appointed Governor.

And now, for the first time, the line which runs along the north of La Porte, the ordinance line, the east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan comes into prominence. For all that portion of the east Michigan country which lay north of this line was organized as Wayne County of the Northwest Territory and settlers supposed that their fortunes would be identified with those of Ohio.

Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803, and in that same year, the formation of the Michigan Territory occurred. No sooner had Ohio Congressmen taken their seats after her admission into the Union than they began working to secure formal congressional assent to their proviso about the boundary line.

In 1805, Indiana Territory's northern boundary was established at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. The appeals of Ohio became so urgent that Congress was willing to consider the matter. A bill passed provided for surveying the boundary as established by the enabling act of 1802, the ordinance line. Congress had not sufficient knowledge of the country to venture to change the line, and it is probable that the line prescribed in the Ordinance of 1787 was regarded as inviolable.

The bill, to survey the boundary, was passed in 1812, when the government was engaged with hostile Indians, and with the war against England, and so nothing was done for three years, or until 1815, and even then, little was accomplished. Had the survey been made at once, before the disputed strip became so populated, the question might have been settled. But during the delay the tide of immigration was pouring into the region and the question of jurisdiction became more and more important.

The survey was made in 1816. The surveyor general of Ohio employed a Mr. Harris to run the line, not, however, according the president's direction, but according to the proviso of the Ohio State Convention. The Harris line is the second of these two northern boundaries.

The third soon appeared. On April 19, 1816, Congress passed the enabling act for the admission of Indiana, fixing the northern boundary by a line drawn due east and west "ten miles north of the southern extreme of Lake Michigan." Indiana was required to ratify this boundary, which she did by a duly elected convention which sat at Corydon, June 10-29, 1816, and framed a constitution and she was formally admitted into the Union December 11, 1816.

Moving the boundary to the north, cut off from Michigan a strip ten miles wide and one hundred miles long, which she claimed had been guaranteed to her by the ordinance of 1787, and by several other acts of Congress.

Michigan, however, allowed the act to pass, probably because she was engaged in her contention with Ohio and because the strip taken away from her was sparsely settled and little known.

The Upper Peninsula was given to Michigan as compensation for what she lost to Ohio and Indiana. For many years Michigan did not relinquish her claim to her lost tracts of land. In 1838 and again in 1842, the question was brought up in the Michigan legislature, and eminent lawyers were consulted as to her right to the disputed tracts. It is thought she would have made a legal test of the question long ago but for the development of immense wealth of her mines in the Upper Peninsula. This development began about 1845 and soon convinced her that her lost strips bore no comparison in value to the rich mining region which she had acquired.

Starting on the east side of La Porte on North Street, the line follows an almost direct west course and is located a little north of the center line of North Street. It crosses Lincoln Way East, diagonally, at North & Scott Streets and diagonally at Heinz Street, North of Lincoln Way, it strikes Grove Street near intersection of Rush Street. Then diagonally across Grove Street and comes out on Brighton Street just east of Glover Court. Brighton Street nearly parallels the line to Pulaski Street. It runs Diagonally across Pulaski and north of Washington Street and comes out on Tipton very close to the railroad tracks. Then, diagonally across Linwood Ave. and Clear Lake Blvd. Into Clear Lake at the foot of Detroit Street, coming out in the old Rumely Foundry. It then crosses where the old Pere Marquette Railroad tracks were and through the middle of the former Bastian-Morley plant. Across Truesdell, just west of Rockwood Street and CROSSES PINE LAKE AVENUE IN THIS VICINITY.

At one time, there was a iron pipe marker to indicate the exact location of the crossing, but this has long been gone and probably disappeared when the road was first paved if not before.

There was also an iron stake just off Waverly Road to mark the line but that, too, is no longer to be found. However, in very close proximity to where that stake was, is the corner marker of sections 27, 28, 33 and 34 of Township 37 North, Range 3 West.

This marker is referred to by the surveyor as a "monument." It is not visible as they are buried to be sure there are not stolen or vandalized as they are costly to replace. They are easily located, however, by the surveyor. Continuing westward, the line crosses SR 421 in the vicinity of today's CR 50 North.

For anyone wishing to become more knowledgeable about this line, I invite you to visit the La Porte County Historical Society's Museum Research Area. All of the backup materials for the application for the marker are on file there. Staff at the museum will be happy to point you to references to further your research of this very important part of La Porte County's history.

History presented by Fern Eddy Schultz

Indiana Historical Markers Searchable Database

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