Attracted by the abundance of wildlife and the beauty of the region, John Conner began trading for furs with the Indians in southeastern Indiana and located his trading post to the site of present day Connersville in 1805.
On March 4, 1813, Conner recorded his plat of Conners Post, which contained 62 lots along the banks of the Whitewater River. Up river from the town, he built a saw mill, taking advantage of water power to operate it, and later a grist mill to grind corn for area farmers.
In 1816, Indiana became the nations 19th state. Three years afterward, Connersville was named the seat of Fayette County and the community began to grow. Connersville was established as the Town of Connersville in 1841.
The Whitewater Canal was begun in 1836 as one of Indianas first transportation projects. It was finally completed to the National Road in Cambridge City in 1846 as a privately financed endeavor. The Canal House was built in 1842 as the headquarters for the publicly held Whitewater Valley Canal Company, and has been restored to its original splendor. The first canal barge arrived at Connersville in 1845 and signaled a character change for the community, adding industry to its already successful agricultural economy. The town was soon recognized as an important stop on the canal route. The Town of Connersville officially incorporated as the City of Connersville in 1869.
In order to expand his growing buggy business, in 1886 John B. McFarlan, Sr. created the nations first industrial park by locating his suppliers next to his factory. This improved the flow of parts to his operation and resulted in the high quality, high productivity for which Connersville is noted. As the buggy gave way to the horseless carriage, these companies also made the transition to automobile production. Over the years that followed, the former cornfield attracted numerous operations from auto manufacturing to appliance production. Today the same area continues an important manufacturing section in Connersville.
After the turn of the century, Connersville plunged headlong into the automobile era. Between 1905 and 1937, 10 different automobiles were built in the community, including the Lexington, the McFarlan and the Empire. E.L. Cord, while president of Auburn Automotive Company, purchased several assembly buildings in Connersville in 1928 and began production of Auburn automobiles. During 1937, 3,000 Cords were built exclusively in Connersville. During the years of World War II, Connersville went back to automobile production, contributing nearly one-half million Jeep bodies, in addition to aircraft parts and munitions for the U.S. military in the national war effort.
The broad range of manufacturers and skilled craftsmen was reflected in the variety of products, from farming to furniture, lamps, toys and musical instruments, all produced in Connersville and distributed throughout the world.
Today, Connersville industry is diverse, but remains an important supplier for the automotive industry with Stant Manufacturing and Visteon Automotive Systems prominent 100-year businesses in the community. Stability and innovation lead the way for Connersvilles future.
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