In 1832, a prospector named William Earl was sent to the Mishawaka area by a Detroit businessman, Alanson M. Hurd. Mr. Earl was to check the south bank of the St. Joseph River along the rapids where Mishawaka would later be founded. He found a deposit of bog iron [rock-like geologic deposits containing a very small amount of crude iron] and followed it to the swampy and wet areas south of the river and found that this land, also, contained large deposits of bog iron.
Eventually, Alanson Hurd came to the region to check the area and decided that the area was a great place to build a blast furnace. Water power from the river rapids could power machinery and the blast furnace would smelt the bog iron to make iron castings. In July 1833 Mr. Hurd applied for land to establish a village and his factory. This first plat of land was Union Street to West Street, First Street to Fourth Street, with a small sub-division of First and Front Streets.