Lathrop Taylor was born in 1805 and came to South Bend, Indiana, from Clinton, New York, in 1827. He was a fur trader and trapper and came here to trade with the Indians. He worked for Hanna & Company, a rival of the American Fur Company. Mr. Taylor could read and was an excellent writer, spoke French, English, and the Miami and Potawatomi languages. He developed a close relationship with the Indians and they helped him clear a place in the woods for his trading post.
Along with Alexis Coquillard, Mr. Taylor worked to found the city of South Bend. Both men bought land from the government and on March 28, 1831, they platted the town of South Bend. They planned wide streets, donated land for the county courthouse, schools, and a city cemetery. Today, the roads within downtown South Bend are still in the same location that Mr. Coquillard and Mr. Taylor first created them on a map.
In 1829, the U.S. government surveyed the lands that made up the state of Indiana. Because of this survey, the new city of South Bend was allowed to set up a post office. Lathrop Taylor was appointed the first Postmaster of what was then known as, “Southold, Allen County, Indiana.” Monthly mail was received from Vincennes, Indiana [where?]. There wasn’t much mail at the beginning of the Southold post office. There really wasn’t an actual post office building, Mr. Taylor had a wooden cabinet with small shelves where he would assign the mail. Lathrop Taylor was also the county clerk and county recorder. Early records in the county courthouse still show Mr. Taylor’s beautiful handwriting.
In 1832, the town of South Bend received and sent mail twice a week to Fort Wayne, Indiana, twice a week mail was sent to Detroit, Michigan, and once a week mail was sent to Chicago. In the same year a small fort was built in South Bend to protect the residents against the raids of Chief Black Hawk [who?] and his followers. Lathrop Taylor was appointed a Colonel and placed in charge of the fort, even though it never needed to be used. In 1833, Mr. Taylor married Mary Johnson, the daughter of Peter Johnson, a local carpenter and business owner. Together they raised six children. Mr. Taylor lived in the community he helped found until 1892, when he died at the age of 87. He is buried in South Bend City Cemetery.