The Town of New Carlisle was founded in 1835 by Richard Risley Carlisle. Carlisle purchased 160 acres of land from a Potawatomi Indiana named Lazarus Bourissa. Bourissa was given the land through a treaty with the United State dated October 16, 1826. He and several other Native Americans were each given land because they had attended the Carey Mission, a school whose mission was to educate and help assimilate Native Americans to the white man's culture. the school was located in near Niles, Michigan.
Richard Risley Carlisle was born in Burlington County, New Jersey in 1814. He married Rebecca Willetts on October 15, 1833. They had two sons; John born in 1834-1835 in New Jersey and Henry born in 1837-1838 in St. Joseph County. Carlisle traveled to Olive Township with his family in 1835 and platted the Town in August that year. Carlisle was a theatrical and circus performer and traveled extensively with his two sons performing all over the world. Carlisle developed his trademark juggling routine in 1840-41, an act that would eventually be known in the circus world as the "Risley" act. Carlisle took Risley as his professional name and was often called "Professor Risley." He died on May 25, 1874 in Philadelphia.
New Carlisle was platted along the Michigan Road which was surveyed from Madison to Michigan City. This early road helped open up settlement of the area. The rich, fertile soil was attractive to the early setters who came from New York, Ohio, New Jersey, southern Indiana and Kentucky. Olive Township had at one time several small towns such as Plainfield, Warwick, Richardson and Hamilton. When the railroad decided to come through New Carlisle, it caused most of the other small settlements to virtually disappear. The coming of the railroad in 1852 was a boon for the Town of New Carlisle and created growth with the construction of new homes and businesses.
New Carlisle has always been well situated on major transportation routes. The town was platted on the Michigan Road and served as a stagecoach stop along the route connecting with the Chicago-Detroit Road. In 1907 two electric interurban lines were established on Zigler Street. New Carlisle was also a stop for the South Shore Railroad which was established in 1909 as an interurban line to Chicago. In 1913, New Carlisle was included on the original Lincoln Highway route which was the first transcontinental highway from east to west. The viaduct wall is a product of the Lincoln Highway route. The viaduct was built in 1925 to eliminate what had been called the "Death Crossing"
New Carlisle was a progressive community and had many businesses, fine homes and schools. The first schoolhouse was built in 1852 on the northwest corner of Front and Cherry Streets. A new school was built in 1861 called the Carlisle Collegiate Institute which later became known as New Carlisle High School. Several churches were built representing different religions. A public library was built downtown in 1921 with a grant from the Carnegie Foundation.
Today, New Carlisle is proud of its rich history- one built on the solid foundation of the early settlers who first called New Carlisle home. The town still boasts a beautiful school, a new state-of-the-art library, baseball fields, parks, beautiful homes, locally owned businesses, festivals, parades and a wide variety of community organizations and clubs that contribute to the community.
History of New Carlisle
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