Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

In 1913 Arnold Bennett, an English novelist, toured the United States and then wrote his impressions of life in America. There are times when a foreigner can make some very keen observations on life in America, because he can see so much that seems commonplace to us. Bennett stated that he was impressed by the fact that every community in the United States felt that it was the number one city of the country. He says, "as I went from one city to the next, I found that each was the Queen City of the United States." He tells of how cities would have exaggerated population estimates; also of how they would poke fun at nearby rival towns.

We ran across a good local example of this a short time ago while going through an 1871 volume of the Northern Indianian. It seems that Warsaw had made some exaggerated population claims which were found to be in error when the official 1870 census figures were published. The Columbia City Post immediately published the following statement: "Warsaw --great big Warsaw, you know -- only contains a population of 2,205. What havoc the census made with those blow-hard towns!! In five years Columbia City will lay Warsaw in the shade, in business and population." However not to be outdone, the editor of Warsaw's Northern Indianian had this to say a few days later: "A traveler stopping over night in this place (Warsaw) a short time since, said that he had put up in the outskirts of Fort Wayne the night previous and upon further investigation it was found that Columbia City was the place he meant.

Going back to Bennett's observations there was one story which he tells that is very interesting to us locally. While visiting our State capital, he was told that Indianapolis was destined to be the leading city in the Midwest. When Bennett brought up the name of Chicago as a possible rival, he was told that Chicago was only a suburb of Warsaw.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. Nov. 28, 1953