DECATUR, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Mark it on your calendars; August 19th thru the 28th, Decatur Indiana celebrates its 175th birthday.
175 years ago the land that Decatur sits on was part of the great Loblolly Marsh, a huge swamp encompassing all of what is now Adams County. There was one patch of dry land, however, on the shores of the St. Mary’s River and it was there that Samuel Rugg landed his canoe in 1836, and decided to build a town. He and fellow settlers felled trees, drained wetlands and planted crops. And they named their budding town after Stephen Decatur, a hero of the war of 1812. Schools and public buildings were erected. The first courthouse went up in 1839. Samuel Rugg was a devout man and freely gave land for the building of churches.
“He thought religion was important,” says Decatur mayor John Schultz, “and we still have that foundation in religious belief today.”
Decatur evolved over the years from a farm town to an industrial center, the biggest boost to industry coming in 1871 when the railroad pushed through. The Decatur Truck Company made its mark on the transportation industry. Furniture, clothing and farm implements were also made here. But it was Dale McMillan, founder of Wayne Feeds in Fort Wayne who really secured Decatur’s future when he bought an old beet processing plant and built central soya, a boon for local soybean farmers.
“Well that really was a big boost to farmers,” says local historian Herb Myers. “We became a central point where they could bring their produce not ship it out but bring it here and be processed into oils and meals.”
Dale McMillan’s legacy still contributes to Decatur’s economy, still provides jobs and futures to its citizens, still one of the reasons life in Decatur Indiana is and will remain, just a little better.
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