Created By: PocketSights Ruthmere Tours
Look across Elkhart’s Main Street bridge toward the downtown area. On the other side of the river, you’ll see what is more or less the original city of Elkhart. This is the land that Havilah Beardsley purchased from the Indian Chief Pierre Moran before the bridge, or anything else, existed here. In 1831, Dr. Beardsley paid the Chief fifteen hundred dollars for this land and hired George Crawford to lay out a plan for the city. Settlers started moving in, but in 1835, there was a problem.
A Frenchman by the name of Richard Godfroy claimed he’d already purchased the land in 1826 from Pierre Moran for three hundred dollars. He claimed to have Presidential approval, which was required on any business dealings with the Indians. Well, everything stopped. The settlers stopped coming. Some wanted their money back. It was not good. Because no one wanted to buy land in a town if they weren’t sure it would ever BE a town. Godfroy’s paperwork was questionable at the very least, partly because Moran claimed Godfroy got him drunk in order to make the deal. And as it turned out, Godfroy had only given Moran a down payment: a horse and cart which he said were worth one hundred and twelve dollars. Moran, now sober, said they were only worth twenty-five dollars, now that he thought about it. None of this mattered much because Beardsley, and Elkhart, were still stuck, but it did provide Beardsley with a bit of an opening.
Havilah Beardsley agreed to give Godfroy some land in Elkhart equal in value to the horse and cart, essentially to buy him off, while offering Pierre Moran a much more reasonable price of fifteen hundred dollars for the land. Finally, President Andrew Jackson approved the sale. Beardsley owned the land free and clear, and the town on the riverbank was born.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Elkhart's Beardsley Tour (Blue Tour)