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What is now the State of Indiana, the commonwealth of a century, has developed into a civic body of remarkable interest and variety. Its people and its institutions have a national fame for their virility and vitality. For several generations we have been rather proud of the European assertion that there is no mistaking the American or Yankee, wherever he may travel. The citizen of the United States likewise asserts, positively and affectionately, that the Hoosier is known by all Americans from coast to coast and from the Canadian to the Mexican lines.

The people of northern Indiana have especially developed into the energetic, electrical, complex, inspiring type of Hoosierdom, from which have evolved men and women of distinctive fame in literature, statecraft and business and industrial life. The reasons for the fact are centered both in natural and historical forces, all of which are well illustrated in the organization and growth of Elkhart County. Divided into three great triangular tracts by the valleys of the St. Joseph and Elkhart rivers, the county saw the racial life both of the reds and whites develop mainly in their valleys. The power and the beauties of those streams have served a double purpose; the early industries and commerce of the region were founded and, at the same time, the higher influences of nature were at work. As the years passed and the river trade was replaced by railroad commerce, not only were these towns developed, but others were born. At a later period the northern part of the county partook of the great industrial and commercial expansion of the regional belt which stretched from the East, through southern New York and western Pennsylvania, to northern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, with the southern shores of Lake Michigan as its western boundary. While Elkhart and the northern districts of the county were effected more vitally than the more southern sections there was material growth everywhere.


Whatever the industrial and commercial progress, it is noteworthy that education, religion, morals and a high type of sociability likewise flourished. The schools, the press and the courts were maintained according to the Indiana standard. which is saying all that is necessary. At the same time a large bulk of the people kept in touch with the healthful and vitalizing soil, and crops and live stock assisted to mold the type of residents and workers, in common with recognized means of education and elevation.

It is such general features of the county's development as these which have been projected in detail through the pages of this work. The project was undertaken with a determination to be just in the treatment of the numerous topics involved, and has been concluded along that line. If the editors have fallen short of that ambition, the excuse is not lack of effort on their part, but failure to respond by those who have been solicited for information. Fortunately, this unresponsiveness has been rare, and we have nothing but thanks to extend to the many men and women throughout the county who have so courteously and completely complied with our requests.

As supervising editor of the history, I also extend special thanks to the following advisory editors: S. F. Spohn, F. E. C. Hawks and Aaron S. Zook, Goshen; John W. Ellis and Dr. A. L. Fisher, Elkhart; J. O. Kantz, Nappanee; Dr. B. F. Teters, Middlebury; Stanford Willard, Wakarusa; W. B. Barnard, Millersburg; Israel Immel, New Paris, and J. F. Hauenstein, Jamestown.


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