Merrillville, Indiana, located in Lake County, is 7 miles south of Gary and 30 miles southeast of Chicago. It was once a forest belonging to the Potawatomi Indians, and in 1834 a clearing was created for ceremonial purposes and named McGwinn Village. A year later, a white man named Jeremiah Wiggins settled there and the area became known as Wiggins Point. In 1838, after Wiggins' death, the colonists who had followed him decided that Centerville would be a more appropriate name.
Later, when the Merrill brothers (Dudley and William Merrill) left their mark on community life, Centerville became Merrillville. In 1848, the post office changed the name of the settlement in honor of the Merrills. At the time, the city included a store, a blacksmith shop, a cheese factory and the California Exchange Hotel. The railroads crossed Merrillville in 1876 (Chesapeake & Ohio) and 1880 (Chicago & Grand Trunk), opening links to Chicago markets.
During World War II, Merrillville was a typical Midwestern farming community.