Sin in the Summit City
Feb20

Sin in the Summit City

Based on a Presentation led by:  Karen Richards, Allen County Prosecutor The history of Fort Wayne is quite dicey, starting in 1830 with the Wabash & Erie Canal construction which brought in two types of people.  Because of the commercial opportunities, men, women and families with more of a Puritan view came from northern England.  The second group consisted of the German and Irish single men who were more of a drinking crowd. During the Victorian era, the view of sex by the Puritans was that sex was only for those who were married and was for procreation only.  Any woman having sex outside of marriage was considered a prostitute.  Prostitutes in Fort Wayne were native born Irish/German women.  They were mostly between the ages of 17 and 21, but some were as young as 14.  Some prostitutes had children and were married but their husbands had left them and left them with nothing.  These women would be in the prostitution business for approximately 5-6 years.  Many had died after those years and others would move away who had assumed different identities while prostituting.  Some women became prostitutes because they left an abusive relationship and had no other occupational opportunity or women were left by their lovers and considered ‘fallen’ women.  Others were enticed as a new immigrant, feeble minded, had no safety net or lived in poverty. Many businesses were built around the canal:  Hotels, Brothels, Saloons, Dance Halls and the Parlor House.  The Parlor House would have a legitimate business on the first floor while the second floor housed prostitution.  Many arrests were made on the 2nd floor.  These businesses were on E. Wayne St, E. Columbia St. Broadway & Main St area.  The Chicago Times (1871) labeled Fort Wayne ‘The most lawless town in Indiana’.  The population was growing, more crimes were committed, more whiskey and beer shops had opened (180) and prostitution was rampant. Fort Wayne residents had decided a court was needed.  They came up with the mayor’s court where adultery was considered illegal and you were either fined or the case was dismissed if you left town.  Franklin P. Randall came to the rescue as mayor who created a police force to deal with the gambling, prostitution and drinking from twilight to daybreak.  The first Fort Wayne police station was on Court Street.  Iron cages were built for men and women were on the second floor.  The ‘Randall’ building is located on Lafayette and Berry where the now GTE building stands. In early 1900s, the railroad came to town which fueled growth.  The Bass Foundry came to town and locations of prostitution grew. ...

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