William Polke House / Stagecoach Inn
Rochester, Indiana - William Polke house/stagecoach inn. GPS N-4106557 W-8614460
William Polke, the conductor of the Trail of Death, built this white house in 1832 on the Michigan Road (Old 31) a mile east of the Fulton County Museum. It is now the white house in the Living History Village immediately south of the museum. FCHS has summer interns (college students) who give guided tours of the village and Polke house. At the north end of the grounds is the Fulton County Museum and round barn beside US 31 and county road 375 N.
The Polke house was the first frame house built north of the Wabash River and was known as the White House. It was the subject of college excursions up until about 1920. It served as a stagecoach inn for several years after it was built, when the Polke family lived there. It was donated to FCHS by Airvac and, with help from a loan from Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, the old house was moved to the museum grounds in 1993. Airvac purchased the land and built a new factory on the former site of the house. Volunteers Bill Willard, Leon Stewart, and Charles Dekeyser, Rochester, restored and repaired the house. It was also given a new cedar shingle roof and paint.
Pictured above are Rose and Larry Prichard, Lynn, Indiana, beside the William Polke house and historical marker. Larry Prichard is a descendant of William Polke, who was the conductor on the Trail of Death. Larry and Rose volunteer to host the Polke house during the annual Trail of Courage Living History Festival held the third weekend of September. The metal marker was erected 1976 by Fulton County Historical Society and descendants of William Polke: Fanny Scott Rumely and her son Scott Rumely, LaPorte, Indiana. The marker was moved to FCHS when the house was moved. (Photo by Melinda Clinger, Museum Director, 2005)
To go back to the Trail of Death, drive east on 375 N and turn south on Old 31. Follow this road into Rochester, where the Potawatomi marched single file Sept 5, 1838, stretching a mile long. There is a marker beside the court house.
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