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History

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Timeline Marriage Mill Dillinger Escapes Valentino Cobe Cup

Crown Point Timeline

1803 Oct 21 In Tolland, Connecticut, Solon Robinson is born to Jacob and Salinda (Ladd) Robinson.
1830 Solon Robinson marries Mariah Evans of Philadelphia.
1834 Oct 31 S. Robinson and family stake claim to prairie land and thus become Crown Point's first settlers.
1836 Territory (later designated as Lake County) is divided into North, Center, and South Townships.
1837 Feb 15 Lake County is decreed a county, and Liverpool is designated as its county seat.  (Later the county seat is located at the Lake County Courthouse.)
1837 Timothy Ball, a youngster, and his family move to Indiana (10 mi. west of Michigan City, Indiana).  Ball later becomes a noted Crown Point minister and historian.
1837 summer Brothers Milo and Solon Robinson begin operation of Crown Point's first general store.
For $500, Lake County's first courthouse is built.  This two-story log structure is funded by S. Robinson.
1847 S. Robinson offers final address to the Lake County Temperance Society (he being the founder) providing a full account of this pioneer years.
1850 A second county courthouse is constructed.
1852 S. Robinson leaves Crown Point to pursue work in Washington D.C and New York.  Mariah, his wife, remains in Crown Point.
1863 Timothy Ball, pastor and historian, establishes his home in Crown Point.
1868 First wooden sidewalks are constructed in Crown Point.
1868 Crown Point is incorporated.
1878 Construction begins on yet another Lake County Courthouse, the one that endures at Crown Point's most prominent landmark.
1880 S. Robinson dies in Jacksonville, Florida where he (due to health reasons) spent his final years.
1891 Electrical service is available for Crown Point
1896 Telephone service is available for Crown Point.
1896 Oct. 7 William Jennings Bryan, democratic presidential candidate, addresses a large audience from the courthouse steps.
1907 Additions to the Lake County Courthouse begin.
1909 Louis Chevrolet wins Crown Point's Cobe Cup Car Race.
1912 summer Electric streetcar begins operation, transporting between Crown Point and Gary, Indiana.
1923 Mar. Rudolph Valentino and Winifred DeWolfe are wed at the Lake County Courthouse.
1928 Final single-story wing additions to Lake County Courthouse are constructed.
1934 Mar 3 Dillinger escapes from the Lake County Jail.
1973 May 17 Old Lake County Courthouse is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1974 Lake County offices move from the courthouse to the newly constructed Lake County Government Center.
1978 Ribbon cutting for the Old County Courthouse as home to commercial shops
1982 June 2 Lake County Historical Museum in Old Courthouse is opened to the public
Sources

Lake Court House Foundation, Inc.

Swisher, Charles W. and Mabel.  Crown Point, Indiana 1834-1984:   The Hub City.  L. E. Laney & Son, Crown Point: 19884.

Cobe Cup Car Race

Believed to be Indianaís first major car race, The Cobe Cup continues to be an annual event for Crown Point, Indiana. Now a ceremonial event, the once grueling race was originally held south of the County Courthouse. First held on June 19, 1909, this 25 mile race was the forerunner of the Indianapolis 500.  Awarded the winnerís cup for the Cobe race was a Swiss-born man who later became quite famous: Louis Chevrolet. 

The first (and only) 25 mile Cobe Cup was an enormous financial flop.  Promoters anticipated an onslaught of race fans, all eager to buy tickets and flock to waiting stores to purchase souvenirs.  What happened, however, was quite the opposite:  the Cobe Cup had a grand total of one paying ticket holder.   More frugal race fans opted for lawn chair seating along the race route, as opposed to the ticket-charging grandstand. 

What was once a financial flop has become a sentimental success.  The Cobe Cup Cruise, as it is also referred, is an annual summertime delight for those who showcase their vintage cars and for those who view the cars along that historic 25 mile route.  
Cobe Cup Race | Crown Point, Indiana Cobe Cup race that ran in 1909 in Crown Point, Lowell and Cedar Lake.  The winner of the event was none other than Louis Chevrolet in his "Buick".  One of the racers in front of St. Mary's Church in Crown Point.

Sources
Swisher, Charles W. and Swisher, Mable Wise. Crown Point, Indiana 1834-1984: The Hub City. L. E. Laney & son.,      Crown Point: 1984.
1999 Lake County Historic Kalendar.  Kwik Kopy Printing.
Photo: Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Dick Oram (assistance with  historical information)

Marriage Mill

One of Crown Point's most endearing events, the Marriage Mill, perpetuates the town's romantic heritage.  Each summer, during the Hometown Festival, couples stand at the courthouse steps to marry or to restate their matrimonial vows.   It must be that these couples revel in joining the ranks of other national celebrities who have wedded at the Lake County Courthouse.

What other small towns can vouch that Rudolph Valentino paraded around the town square with his new bride, waving to admiring onlookers? It is none other than Crown Point, the town well-known as a "marriage-mill" and where Ronald Reagan wed his bride Jane Wyman.  (Also, see Valentino article on this page.)

During the years of 1915 to 1940, Crown Point was a well-known marriage mill.  An estimated 175,000 couples flocked to the Lake County Courthouse to be wed, since it became associated as a "quick and painless" marriage site.  The Justice of the Peace Howard Kemp, in those early years of the marriage mill, advertised in Chicago that Crown Point was the "Gretna Green of the Midwest," alluding to an area in Scotland where British couples eloped.  In Crown Point, couples could marry 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  However, a later-passed blood test law in Indiana (1940) stunted the Crown Point marrying mahem; it then took couples three days to receive test results. 

Also married at the Lake County Courthouse:
     Red Grange, football player
     two of the Mills Brothers, singers
     Muhammed Ali
     Tom Mix
     the parents of Michael Jackson
    

Sources

"Valentino is Married Here." Lake County Star. Mar. 16, 1923. Crown Point, IN.

Miller, Avi.  "Love Fills the Air as Vows Recited." Lake County Star.  June 30, 1994.  Crown Point, IN.

 

 

Marriage Mill | Crown Point, Indiana
East side of the Old Courthouse - modern day site of the Marriage Mill

Marriage Mill | Crown Point, Indiana
"Products" of the Marriage Mill, Jennifer and Robert Stockton of Hebron were married June 25, 1999, at the Lovers' Landmark Celebration.

Crown Point Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Amidst decoration at the Gretna Green wedding site, Chamber of Commerce President, Gayle VanSessen narrates to an audience the significance of Crown Point's marriage history.
Dillinger Escapes
from Crown Point Jail

On January 30, 1934, the notorious John Dillinger was captured in Tucson, Arizona.  Due to a bank robbery in Chicago, which resulted in a murdered police officer, Lake County gained priority to Dillinger.   Held in the Lake County Jail (pictured) in Crown Point, Indiana, Dillinger planned his fantastic escape.

While incarcerated in the Lake County Jail, Dillinger  carved a gun from a wooden washboard or a bar of soap (local legend varies), and stained the fake gun with black shoe polish. The escape occurred during the early hours of March 3, 1934.  The prop was soon replaced by an automatic gun which Dillinger took  from a guard. Soon after,   hostages were taken but later released in the get- away to nearby Illinois. On July 23rd of that same year, Dillinger was shot and killed by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

source

Mackanos, Adele.   "Dillinger Escape: 50th Anniversary." Crown Point Register.  March 8, 1989.


Sherifs House Crown Point, Indiana

Rudolph Valentino
Married in Crown Point

Following is a complete and verbatim copy of an article from the Lake County Star     (publ. Mar. 16, 1923) covering the celebrated marriage of Valentino:

VALENTINO IS MARRIED HERE

Famous Screen Sheik and Winifred
DeWolf Wed by Judge Kemp

   The Crown Point marriage mill cut another notch in the hall of public fame on Wednesday afternoon when Rudolph Valentino and Miss Winifred DeWolfe, with a party of friends from New York and Chicago journeyed to the famous "Gretna Green" and were married by Justice of the Peace Howard Kemp.

   After securing the necessary license at the county clerk's office, in which Valentino gave his name as Rudolph Gugliema, aged 28, and his bride as Winifred DeWolfe, aged 26.  the couple went immediately to the office of Judge Kemp and the ring ceremony was performed which made them man and wife.

   Several witnesses were present at the marriage ceremony.   and those signing their marriage certificate were Attorney Michael Romona, of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Butler Graham, of New York, and Mrs. Welner, of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Judge Theodore Klotz, of Hammond, a friend of the party accompanied them to Crown Point.  When it became noised about that the famous screen artists were in the city, a crowd quickly gathered curious to see Valentino and his bride and they were given an impromptu ovation and showered with congratulations as the party started Chicago-ward after the ceremony.

   Following the marriage, the news was flashed to the press of the world and once again Crown Point gets into the limelight as being the scene of the marriage of famous folk.

   Valentino, while going through the ceremony appeared as nervous as any country swain that ever took the important step and there was nothing about his appearance during the ceremony that bore out world-wide reputation of being the cool, calm deliberate and "perfect lover" of screen fame.

 

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