200@200 : October — To Govern and Serve
Date:
1840—1856
Title:
Ballot Box
Description:
The Indiana General Assembly passed an act establishing Allen County in December 1823, and formally recognized the new county the following April. The county encompassed not just today's Allen County, but also the counties of Wells, Adams, DeKalb, Noble, Steuben, LaGrange, Huntington and Whitley. The first election of county officers took place on May 22, 1824. Two years later, Samuel Hanna was the first person elected to represent Allen County (and Randolph County) in the Indiana General Assembly.

On September 7, 1829, the majority of local citizens voted to establish the city of Fort Wayne. Eleven years later, skyrocketing population led to the incorporation of the city, approved by the Indiana Legislature in February 1840. A month later the city charter was approved by the citizenry in a vote of 116—53. George W. Wood was elected Fort Wayne's first mayor in March of 1840, alongside a city council of six members.

Ballot Boxes came into use in the 1800s to attempt to provide for fair elections. Secret ballots required that the ballots were all the same and printed at government expense, contained the names of all candidates, were distributed only at the polling place and were marked in secret.

This ballot box was used from 1840 to 1856. It held ballots cast during the elections of the first nine mayors of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Though the paper ballots are long gone, still today votes are cast by secret ballot to insure fair elections.
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Ballot Box, 1840-1856Ballot Box, 1840-1856
Ballot Box, 1840-1856Ballot Box, 1840-1856
Ballot Box detail, 1840-1856Ballot Box detail, 1840-1856
Ballot Box detail, 1840-1856Ballot Box detail, 1840-1856
Mayor George W. Wood, elected 1840Mayor George W. Wood, elected 1840