13 January 1830: A Major State Road Approved

Several laws passed by the 1829-1830 legislature in January 1830 involved what would become the first major north-south road in the state. The idea of the legislation was this: “An act to establish a state road from Lake Michigan, by way of Indianapolis, to some convenient point on the Ohio river.” That act created the Michigan Road, although with just a bit of vagueness in description.

Chapter LXIX, Section 1, Laws of the State of Indiana 1830

The first section of the law mentions that the northern part of the Michigan Road was actually approved by the legislature on 24 January 1828. Section 1 approves the route surveyed by John I. Neely, Chester Elliott and John McDonald. That route was planned from the new town of Michigan City, on Lake Michigan, to Indianapolis. This section also mentions the treaty “made and concluded near the mouth of the Mississinewa upon the Wabash, in the state of Indiana, on the sixteenth day of October, 1828.” This was the treaty where the US Government, and the State of Indiana, purchased a 100 foot right-of-way through Potawatamie territory for the purpose of building a road. It is also mentioned in this section that 1) the approved survey is the second such done for the placement of the road and 2) on 2 March 1827, the road was extended from Indianapolis to Madison, via Greensburgh. (Before you ask, prior to the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, and his spelling reforms, most “burg”s were spelled with an “h” on the end. The spelling reformed removed the “h” from all of these names, among other things. In some cases, the “h” was put back.)

The next section would spell out the commissioners of the road between Madison and Greensburg, and they are to examine the surveyed section of the road to see if they feel it needs to be changed in any way. This led to the old road connecting Bryantsburg and Napoleon directly, where the “modern” Michigan Road connects through Versailles. The commissioners chosen by law were from locations that had no vested interest in the Michigan Road (Wayne, Knox and Sullivan Counties, to be specific).

There are seven more sections for this act, which are shared below. The source for these images is the book “Laws of the State of Indiana,” available on Google Books.

The following chapter in said book reports a law that was approved 29 January 1830. It stated “that so much of said Michigan road as lies between the Wabash river, and the Ohio river, at the town of Madison, shall be, and the same is hereby directed to be cut and opened, one hundred feet wide, between the first day of August 1830, and the last day of November 1831.”


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