Before 1850 this area was known simply as Olive Township. The census of that year counted 337 people in Olive Township in 55 families: about 6 people per family.
These people decided they needed a community center, so three people plotted a square block each--on the northeast, northwest and southeast corners--creating a town square. They named it the Village Salem.
Unfortunately, the villagers didn't know there was another Salem, Indiana, at this time. But after seven years, confusion between the two communities caused the local villagers to change the name to Wakarusa.
The village was incorporated in 1897. In the mid-1850's a Mr. Thomas Harris started the Salem Bank, which move to Goshen 10 years later.
The Exchange State Bank opened in 1890 and the Citizens Bank in 1907. In 1975 the Exchange State Bank merged with Salem Bank of Goshen and remains in the same building now as a branch office. Today the bank is called Key Bank.
The first church services were held in homes and schoolhouses. The first church building was the Holdeman Mennonite Church, constructed in 1851 of logs. Subsequent church buildings were the Baptist Church in 1868, the Christian Church in 1869, the Methodist in 1872, the United Missionary in 1887 and the Church of the Brethren in 1896.
Wakarusans built a one-room schoolhouse for their children. In 1877 they built a new brick schoolhouse east of the square which was later added to and became their high school.
In 1924 a grade school/high school was built north of the square; this building is still in use as a middle school (NorthWood Middle School).
In 1875 a newspaper called the Wakarusa Sun began. It was followed by the Wakarusa Tribune in 1893 and the Citizen in 1907. The Wakarusa Tribune is still published today.
The Wabash Railroad came to Wakarusa in 1892; and later was the Norfolk and Western. Today there is no railroad in Wakarusa.
Wayne Feed Supply opened in 1893 and the Wakarusa Feed Center in 1937.
A disastrous fire leveled the southeast part of the Town Square in 1899. However, hard-working and dedicated Wakarusans have built the town up into the attractive community you see today.
The first physicians here were Drs. Wolverton, Mayers and Robinson. In the 1890's there were Drs. Sensenich, Wagner and Knepple and in the 1920's Drs. Amick, Eicher and Hannah.
Today Drs. Abel and Miller practice in the Wakarusa Clinic. The clinic is very modern and has the highest technology available in the medical field. The town has modern ambulance services and fire fighting equipment and personnel as well as an excellent police department.
From http://www.wakarusachamber.com/, 17 Jan 2005