Indiana Bicentennial Commission to honor William Polke

(Photo Supplied/Indiana Bicentennial Celebration)

FORT WAYNE (Press Release) — A dedication ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, to place a grave marker at the burial site of William Polke in McCulloch Park, on Broadway just south of the old General Electric plant.

Born Sept. 19, 1775, in Virginia, Polke and his mother and three sisters were captured by Native Americans in 1782 and held prisoner by the British in Detroit until 1783. Polke later fought with Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and became a Knox County associate circuit court judge. Polke was a delegate to the convention in 1816 that created the Indiana Constitution, a key step toward Indiana becoming a state. He later helped escort the Potawatomi Indians west after the U.S. government forced them to move to Kansas in 1838 and treated them with compassion, according to Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi.

Polke’s burial site was in doubt until recently, when local officials learned that his grave, which lies perpendicular to the existing grave of former Indiana Gov. Samuel Bigger, is in the northeast corner of McCulloch Park. The graves of all but Bigger reportedly were dug up about 1860 and moved to Lindenwood Cemetery, but historians suspect some bodies never made that trip, possibly because no family members were present to give permission.

The ceremony, sponsored by the Mary Penrose Wayne Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, is an official endorsed Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project. Invited speakers include Indiana Archivist James Corridan, Indiana Senate President Pro-Tem David Long, Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi and Fort Wayne City Parks Executive Director Al Moll.

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