History of Mishawaka

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Mishawaka, the Princess City, lies nestled along the meandering path of the St. Joseph River. The city is named after Princess Mishawaka, daughter of Shawnee Chief Elkhart. The legend of her romance with white trapper Deadshot, and abduction by her jealous Indian suitor Grey Wolf, characterizes the mixture of romance and history still found in Mishawaka today.

The city’s history began with the discovery of bog iron deposits in the early 1830’s. Settlers arriving to mine these deposits founded the town of St. Joseph Iron Works in 1831. Within a couple years, the town had a blast furnace, a general store, a tavern, and about 200 residents. Business prospered, and in 1838, St. Joseph Iron Works and three other small towns nearby were incorporated into one— Mishawaka.

In September of 1872, a fire destroyed three quarters of Mishawaka’s business district. However, the persevering citizens rebuilt and attracted new industry. The Dodge Manufacturing Company, Perkins Windmills and the Mishawaka Woolen and Rubber Company (later Ball Band then Uniroyal) all helped the town to prosper industrially. The town also grew agriculturally. In the late 1800’s, the city gained the title as the "Peppermint Capital of the World" due to the rich black loam found in the area that yield great quantities of mint.

Stone sculpture of Princess Mishawaka located next to City Hall