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Elkhart County, Indiana

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Please add profiles for people who were born, lived or died in Elkhart County, Indiana.

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the area now within Elkhart County boundaries was mainly inhabited by the Potawatomi tribe. Pioneers began settling in the Elkhart Prairie in 1829 and in April 1830, Elkhart County was officially established with its original county seat in Dunlap. After some reorganizing of the county borders, the seat was moved to Goshen near the geographical center of the county.

Elkhart County was founded by immigrants from New England. These were old-stock "Yankee" immigrants, descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. The completion of the Erie Canal in 1821 caused a surge in immigration from New England to what was then the Northwest Territory. The end of the Black Hawk War in 1832 increased the immigration surge of immigration, again coming from New England as a result of overpopulation combined with land shortages in that region. Some of these later settlers were from upstate New York, whose relatives had moved to that region from New England shortly after the American Revolutionary War. New Englanders and New England transplants from upstate New York were the vast majority of Elkhart County's inhabitants during the first several decades of its history. These settlers were primarily members of the Congregational Church though due to the Second Great Awakening many of them had converted to Methodism and some had become Baptists before moving west. The Congregational Church subsequently has gone through many divisions and some factions, including those in Elkhart County are now known as the Church of Christ and the United Church of Christ. As a result of this heritage, most of Elkhart County supported the abolitionist movement before the American Civil War. Elkhart County provided substantial numbers of recruits for the Union Army. During the end of the nineteenth century, Irish and German migrants came to Elkhart County, although most did not come directly from Europe, but had stopped in other areas in the Midwest, such as Ohio.

The origin of "Elkhart" is not known. Three theories have been proposed: a) the area was named after a native tribe (although no historical evidence has surfaced to prove the existence of such a tribe); b) the Island Park in Elkhart City has the shape of an elk's heart. Although this theory is carried on the city's website, simple logic throws doubt on this possibility. c) The county was named after the Shawnee Indian chief Elkhart, cousin of the famous Chief Tecumseh, and father of princess Mishawaka (for whom neighboring Mishawaka, is named).

Adjacent Counties

Cities, Towns & Communities

  • Benton
  • Bonneyville Mills
  • Bristol
  • Dunlap
  • Elkhart
  • Foraker
  • Goshen (County Seat)
  • Jimtown
  • Locke
  • Middlebury
  • Midway
  • Millersburg
  • Nappanee
  • New Paris
  • Simonton Lake
  • Southwest
  • Vistula
  • Wakarusa
  • Waterford Mills



National Register of Historic Places

Indiana Amish


Elkhart County Genealogical Society

Genealogy Trails

IN Gen Web

Roots Web

Elkhart County Historical Society Collections


Genealogy Express