Waynedale Community History

The farmland that once comprised the area of Waynedale, and indeed all of Wayne Township, though fertile, was also highly alkaline. During the Pleistocene period a vast sea covered the region of northern Indiana. While it flourished, billions of sea creatures died and left a rich deposit of limestone, which would later be instrumental in the building of Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas, including Waynedale. This limestone, when quarried, provided an excellent base for concrete. The accessibility of such an inexpensive building material would become a contributing factor in low building costs. The region covering Wayne Township has been glaciated at least three times. The last glacier receded about 10,000 years ago, which left a moraine running southwest toward Roanoke.

For hundreds of years, the local rivers and lakes served as the highways for travel, and those who commanded them were in control of all trade. Native American traders and guides brought travelers from central Canada through Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, up the Maumee and the St. Marys Rivers, through this portage, then down the Wabash and Mississippi rivers to the Gulf of Mexico.

The first town to be platted in Wayne Township outside of Fort Wayne’s city limits was Lewisburg. Waynedale was platted several years later and was located near the original Lewisburg plat. On February 15, 1921, the land was sold to Abner Elzey. The only residence in the original plat was the Cunnison farmhouse, the site that is now occupied by Umber’s Do-It-Best Hardware. The original bounds of Waynedale were McArthur Drive on the south, Old Trail Road on the east, Lower Huntington Road on the north and Beaty Avenue on the west.

Waynedale represented the dream of Elzey for a community in which anyone could build a home to his own design and enjoy suburban life. This unincorporated town of approximately 3,000 residents was situated about three miles southwest of Fort Wayne on State Roads 1 & 3, and was founded by Elzey on February 15, 1921. On a cold December day in 1920, while standing on the southeast corner of the Lower Huntington Road and the present Old Trail Road, Elzey pointed to the southwest toward the Cunnison farmland and proclaimed it an ideal location for a community. The town built on the location and its surrounding area stands as a memorial to its founder. Naming the community was difficult. At first, Elzey had intended to name the community after his only daughter, Ilo, but this idea was dropped. And since those living in this area spoke of Fort Wayne as “Wayne,” he chose that as part of the name, using the name of his son “Dale” as the other.

Newspapers have also helped strengthen and maintain Waynedale’s community identity. The first edition of The Waynedale News came out on September 2, 1932. The name of the paper at that time was The Waynedale Press. Arden McCoy was the editor, and the paper consisted of a single sheet measuring 15 by 10 inches. Noble’s Home Store was the main advertiser, listing Hershey Cocoa at one pound for 17 cents and Camay Toilet Soap at five cents per bar. Potatoes were 7.5 cents a peck and 25 cents per bushel. In a small corner of that first paper was a note from the local businessmen, which read: “This is surely a big moment for we ‘old timers’ of Waynedale. This is the first edition of The Waynedale Press and is something quite beyond our fondest dreams. We wish the owner success and pledge our support morally, physically and financially”.

A pivotal moment in Waynedale’s history occurred in 1957, when the community made a final decision on the community’s status as to whether it would be an independent city or a part of Fort Wayne. Early that year the move to annex Waynedale, which had been in the talking stages for some years, took a positive turn. On June 25, 1957, the Fort Wayne City Council voted unanimously in favor of an annexation ordinance. This measure meant the taking of 5.27 square miles of the southwest area, boosting the city’s population by nearly 6,000 persons.

Through it all Waynedale has managed to survive and prosper. It was annexed into Fort Wayne in 1957 and although it is now part of the larger community of Fort Wayne it has maintained a sense of individuality. The principal occupation is no longer farming but the values that were developed on the farm have carried through to an urban-style of life where a person can still build the house of their dreams and raise a family in a safe community