New Edition of Classic Book Centers on History of Maxinkuckee and Surrounding Area
Writer / Jeff Kenney
Photography / Jeff Kenney
It may not be obvious to everyone, but the areas of Culver, Lake Maxinkuckee, and Marshall County in general are undergoing some historic anniversaries these days, with related endeavors accompanying them.
Among these is the publication, by the Lake Maxinkuckee Association (LMA), of a new hardcover book reprinting county historian Daniel McDonald’s 1905 work titled “History of Lake Maxinkuckee.” It includes a new forward and an extensive, photo-filled timeline by local historian Jeff Kenney, covering the years after the book was first published, up to the present.
The new book was actually first published last year to celebrate the 115th anniversary of the original McDonald book, though it’s been making the rounds this year, and this summer in particular.
Anna Campbell Nowalk, director of the LMA, says the project came about as she was thumbing through a previous printing of the McDonald book, which has been reprinted twice in the past, and realized that the original book was published by the Association, which was originally founded in 1897 to promote the safety and health of the lake and its shore area. One of the most visible endeavors of the LMA is the Lake Patrol, which patrols the water and roads around Lake Maxinkuckee.
“I was thinking that Daniel McDonald’s book hadn’t been reprinted since the 1990s, when the Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver published a version,” Nowalk says. “A lot of people hadn’t read the book. When I realized the Lake Association was the original publisher of it, I thought it might be time for a reprint.”
Lake Association members Beth Ann Clark and Sarah Clark agreed, and spearheaded the reprint project, asking Kenney if he might write a forward to the new edition. Kenney, who had just given a presentation at the Marshall County Historical Museum about McDonald’s life and legacy, was happy to oblige.
“Daniel McDonald was really a remarkable person,” Kenney says, noting McDonald and his parents were among the pioneer families who arrived near Lake Maxinkuckee from southern Indiana in 1836, when McDonald was still a child.
McDonald would go on to operate one of the county’s first newspapers, help found Plymouth’s first fire department and the county’s first historical society, serve as postmaster and as Marshall County’s first telegraph operator, and become a founding member of the county’s first Masonic lodge. He was also among a small group that first brought the railroad to Culver and Plymouth.
Late in life, McDonald became a state senator, and in that role he introduced legislation to erect the first state-sponsored monument to a Native American in the entire country – the Chief Menominee monument on Peach Road, south of Plymouth. Besides the Maxinkuckee book, McDonald wrote the first – and most extensive to date – history of Marshall County, a book on the removal of the Potawatomi Indians from this area, and a history of Freemasonry in Indiana.
In the process of writing the introduction to the new edition, Kenney suggested an addendum to the book could be created using local history timelines he had already written, and the suggestion was enthusiastically received by both Clarks. The notion of adding historical photographs to the timeline soon emerged.
Among other historical highlights of the area described in text and images are the famous writers and musicians who spent time at and were inspired by the area, including Kurt Vonnegut, Cole Porter, “Ben Hur” author Lew Wallace, and James Whitcomb Riley, as well as the presence of the first integrated high school basketball team in Indiana at Culver High School. Also included are the proliferation of apple orchards on the lake’s east shore, the rich history of Culver Academies and its involvement in presidential inaugural parades and serving as the inspiration for Hollywood movies and novels, the settlement in Culver of one of the few Titanic survivors to live in Indiana, and much more.
“Jeff and Beth Ann have such a vivid recollection of growing up around Lake Maxinkuckee,” Sarah Clark says. “Sifting through so many old pictures prompted wonderful stories, reminding us that we all play a part in the history of Culver, whether we realize it at the time or not.”
Beth Ann Clark hopes the book will help bridge the generations between local families long familiar with the area, and newer ones.
“Our future generations can flip through the pages and learn the value of simplicity and tradition,” she says.
McDonald’s remarkable Marshall County legacy is connected to another anniversary taking place this summer, which marks the 185th year since the aforementioned settlers arrived at what would become Union Township, east of Lake Maxinkuckee, in July of 1836.
One hundred years later, in 1936, a group of descendants of those pioneers erected a boulder with family names engraved into it at the site of the group’s first stop in the Maxinkuckee area, at the intersection of State Road 10 and Queen Road, where it still resides today.
A group of descendants were on hand for the unveiling of a new historic marker on State Road 10 and Queen Road in July (more on that in a future edition of The Lakes).
In the meantime, copies of the book are available at Culver Coffee Company, located at 634 East Lake Shore Drive in Culver, and questions can be directed to the Lake Maxinkuckee Association via their website at lakemaxinkuckeeassociation.org.