1995 marked the sesquicentennial of permanent settlement in what is now Munster, Indiana. It was in 1845 that Allan and Julia Brass established an inn for Chicago-bound travelers, and in doing so also established the foundations for the future Town of Munster.
Munster's first structure was a tavern, built by David Gibson about 1837 at the corner of today's Ridge Road and Columbia Avenue. In 1845, Allen and Julia Watkins Brass took over the property and built a new, large, two-story inn, the Brass Tavern on the south side of this very primitive "Ridge Road." This building served both as a way station for travelers and a gathering spot for neighbors, including the many Dutch farmers who after 1853 began establishing truck farms along this stretch of land east of the Illinois State Line.
Brass Tavern & Inn established in 1845 - Pen & Ink Sketch Original by Ed Verklyn - Watercolor Rendition by Ted Muta, Sr.
Allen and Julia Brass and their three children are listed in the 1850 Lake County censuses. The Brass farm extended from present-day 35th Street to the Little Calumet River. Julia Brass was the daughter of Oliver Watkins, a veteran of the Revolutionary War; the Crown Point chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is named in her honor. Allen and Julia are buried in the Maplewood cemetery in Crown Point. County Times (November 4, 1909) described the inn as a famous landmark with huge fireplaces and good wine both of which warmed travelers far from home.
Stage coaches drove through the area every day. Once a telegraph was placed in the Inn, news began to arrive with unheard of quickness. It was from this device in the Stallbohm Inn that the Calumet Region learned of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. As the social center of the area, the Stallbohm Inn was occasionally used for evening dance parties. Wilhelmina noted that these events attracted large crowds with folks coming from miles around. Yet this corner of the state was still a relatively untamed locale: Dingeman Jabaay, who was born on a newly established farm in 1867, claimed that his mother would not go out at night for fear of the timber wolves.
Declining business in the 1890s forced the Stallbohms to close the inn, yet the family continued to reside at this corner for nearly another 100 years. Soon after the deaths of Johann and Wilhelmina Stallbohm (in 1899 and 1901, respectively) their daughter Wilhelmina and her husband Hugo Kaske moved back home from Minneapolis, remodeled, and set up housekeeping in the old building.