Also in 1971, Merrillville officially became a city under the statue of the state of Indiana. The incorporation was voted on by a majority of Ross Township residents who lived within a certain border line that our founding fathers set up. In 1835, when American settlers advanced west to northwest Indiana, Jeremiah Wiggins bought a claim just south of Turkey Creek and named it Wiggins Point. Other settlers arrived soon after, changing the name to Centerville due to its location in the county.
In 1848, the post office changed the name of the Merrillville settlement, in honor of residents Dudley and William Merrill. At the time, the town included a store, a blacksmith shop, a cheese factory, and the California Exchange Hotel. Railroads crossed Merrillville in 1876 (later the Chesapeake %26 Ohio) and in 1880 (Chicago %26 Grand Trunk), opening links to Chicago markets. During World War II, Merrillville was a typical Midwestern farming community.
The 31 square miles that span the city of Merrillville were once densely covered with forest and inhabited by the Potawatomi Indians. Originally known as McGwinn Village, the town went through several name changes before being named Merrillville, in honor of brothers Dudley and William Merrill. In 1971, it officially became a city under Indiana law. A Merrillville resident writes,% U201Cin my area around Gary, many communities became unofficial cities by sundown.
In fact, in Gary himself, the Calumet River was a dividing line between Gary and his suburb Glen Park, which was part of the city. But the rule was that there were no blacks in Glen Park at night. The area outside Gary is still quite segregated. I was told that the city of Whiting was the same.
In Merrillville, a black family lived there during the war. They tried to burn them, but they stayed. Until 1957, the only black person who attended and graduated from Merrillville, Beverly Wells, was from that family.