History of Mulberry, Indiana
Dania Remaly provided another piece of historic documentation of our roots.
This is an excellent description of all of the historical markers found around town in Mulberry. This document is also filled with a huge supply of history that many folks never witnessed first hand. For example, “Dayton Gravel”, which is State Road 38, used to be a toll road!
The history of Mulberry, Indiana seems to mirror that of many small towns in Indiana. It had its start in 1858 with a country store in a log house owned by Thomas Waldron, Sr. Many of the settlers in the town were of German heritage. Homes and other businesses gradually followed. The first electric company was founded in 1880 and gave residents power by the use of a steam generator which provided electricity for lighting only between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Several railroads reached Mulberry by the 1870’s. The Interurban was an important part of Mulberry history. The depot for the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company line was in place from 1902 through 1930. The electric line was both a passenger and freight train taking livestock, people and goods between Frankfort, Mulberry, and Lafayette. Later the depot served as the Greyhound bus station until 1960.
Other early businesses included a sawmill, lumberyard, a well known creamery, hardware and dry goods stores, a few hotels, grain and livestock businesses, drug stores, bakeries, and in 1901 the first Mutual Phone Company. There was an ice-house, a car dealership and a car-wash. In 1888, the Jay Grain Seed, & Flour Company had its beginning. It has changed hands over the years and is now Mulberry Feeds, Inc. Later Mulberry also had such businesses as a jewelry store, furniture store, a dance club; and crafts store which was owned by the Bennett Family and was established in 1992.
Mulberry also once had a well respected newspaper. The Mulberry Reporter was published each Thursday from 1890 to 1972. In the first quarter of the 1900’s, John Russell Stair opened an airport on land just outside of Mulberry. He later organized the Mulberry Flying Club and also trained a number of World War II pilots. Among his more notable students were Roger Chaffee and John Glenn. The airport closed in 1960.
Mulberry’s population hit 817 in 1938 and surprisingly enough was then the second largest town in the county and was reportedly the wealthiest town of its size in the U.S.
In 1905 a church based academy was opened in Mulberry. Later named the Weidner Institute, it became a junior college. It ran for a couple of decades and closed in 1927. A 14,000 square foot “home for the aging” was then opened with a new building being built in 1975-1977. The well maintained “retirement home” and cottages are still in operation to this day.
The Town Hall was erected in 1957. For many years Mulberry also had its own high school. The first school was built in 1878 with a new school constructed in 1904. The Mulberry high school was closed in 1961 and the elementary school followed suit in 1985 as several districts consolidated. The old brick building still stands although not maintained.
The Mulberry Community Library had its beginnings in 1937. With continued success, the library opened its most recent, 5,000 square foot facility in 2001.
Mulberry, Indiana has an approximate population of 1,400. Yes, that’s right, one thousand, four hundred people; no zeros are missing. It’s located in Clinton County and lies approximately 13.5 miles southeast of Lafayette, Indiana. The proximity of the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette, which have a combined population of over 156,000 people, provides easier access to shopping, entertainment, and other services.
Mulberry has a post office and a telephone cooperative, one beauty salon and tanning center, a bank, three churches (Gloria Dei Lutheran Evangelical. Mulberry United Methodist, and the Trinity Church of Christ), a Fire Department, an assisted living/long term care facility, a police department/Marshal, a gas station/convenience store, one family restaurant/pub, The Pizza King, a public library, and a liquor store. There are a handful of other businesses but no retail stores.
Mulberry Centennial park offers a playground, tennis courts, and softball fields as well as a picnic area and is the site of the annual chicken and pork chop cookout.
In 2008, Mulberry observed it’s Sesquicentennial with a weeklong celebration.
Although some rural areas are unable to offer residents services such as cable TV and high speed internet, Mulberry does have access to these modern conveniences.
Some new development has occurred in the past 5-10 years, with a handful of new housing developments growing on the outskirts of town. A number of older homes have also been purchased and renovated. It’s hard to know what the future holds for this small town but eventually it may find its way back to a more prosperous existence.