The Stories Behind (Some) Whiting-Robertsdale Street Names

 John Hmurovic
November 2018

The newest street in Whiting-Robertsdale is called Dedelow Parkway, which came into being this summer. It intersects with New York Avenue at 126th Street and is named after Duane Dedelow, who served as Hammond’s 19th mayor from 1996 to 2004. It was during his administration that the giant Bairstow slag pile which stood east of Calumet Avenue at 129th Street was leveled and turned into the Lost Marsh golf course. Today, a housing development is going in on the far eastern edge of that site, and Dedelow Parkway will be the entrance to that development.

All street names have some history, although the thought process of those who picked the names is often lost in time. But, fortunately, the files of the Whiting-Robertsdale Historical Society contain a few notes on how some of the street names came into being.  Here’s a list of what we’ve found about how the streets acquired their names:

Amy Avenue: Named after Amy Roberts, daughter of George M. Roberts, a major landowner in the area and after whom the community of Robertsdale is named.  

Atchison Avenue: Named after Robert Atchison, a gravel-shipper, railroad man, and property-owner in the area.

Benedict Place: In honor of Rev. Benedict Rajcany, the first pastor of St. John the Baptist Church, known to everyone at the time as Father Benedict.

Burton Court: One of several streets named after a Standard Oil executive, Burton Court is named after Dr. William Burton, a former president of the company.

Caroline Avenue: Caroline Forsythe was the sister of George W. Clark, a major landowner in Northwest Indiana, and she inherited much of his land upon his death in 1866. Her husband, Jacob Forsythe, managed the property holdings.

Clark Street: George W. Clark owned land on which most of what is now Whiting, Hammond, East Chicago and Gary now stand.

Davis Avenue: Another major landowner in the area, Edwin S. Davis once owned a sizeable piece of property east of today’s Calumet Avenue and south of Indianapolis Boulevard.

Fischrupp Avenue: Frederick Fischrupp was an early settler in Whiting.

Forsythe Square: Jacob Forsythe was a major landowner who passed away in 1899, but whose family held the property for many years. Forsythe Park also bears his name.

Myrtle Avenue:  It was originally called Harrison Avenue, but in the 1910s it had to be changed because there was another Harrison Street in Hammond. A suggestion was made to change it to Gehrke Avenue, after Edward Henry Gehrke, one of the earliest settlers on the street. But he declined the honor, and suggested it be named after his daughter, Myrtle Gehrke Gardner.

Oliver Street: After the death of his father, Jacob Forsythe, Oliver Forsythe managed his huge property holdings.

Reese Avenue: Henry Reese came to live in this area in 1854 as a section worker on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad, as well as on the Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio lines.

Roberts Avenue: In the 1850s, George M. Roberts made major purchases of land in Northwest Indiana. Parts of Whiting, Hammond, East Chicago and Gary now stand on land he owned. Besides Roberts Avenue, the entire section of Hammond known as Robertsdale is named after him.

Schrage Avenue: Henry Schrage was the city’s first store-owner, its first postmaster, and founder of the First Bank of Whiting, which eventually became Centier Bank.  

Sheffield Parkway: A group of Chicagoans planned to purchase 8,000 acres of land from Jacob Forsythe and create an industrial city known as Sheffield. It was named after an English industrial town of the same name. In 1874 a huge hotel, known as the Sheffield Inn, went up at what is today Calumet Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard. But soon the national economy went into a tailspin and the rest of the project collapsed. The hotel later took the name of the White House and stood at that location until it burned in 1910.   

Steiber Street: Carl and John Steiber were early settlers who come here in the 1850s.

Stewart Court: Colonel Robert W. Stewart was a Chairman of the Board of Standard Oil of Indiana.

Warwick Avenue: William E. Warwick headed up the Standard Oil refinery in Whiting, and served as Whiting’s first mayor.