Indiana Counties
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Indiana Counties

Indiana is divided into ninety-two counties. The oldest and newest Counties in Indiana are Knox County (created 1790) and Newton County (created 1857).Many Indiana counties are named for the US Founding Fathers and personalities of the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and Battle of Tippecanoe; early leaders of Indiana Territory and Indiana, as well as surrounding states like Michigan and Kentucky; plus Native American tribes and geographical features.

Elkhart County, Indiana

Elkhart County Education, Geography, and HistoryElkhart County, Indiana Courthouse

Elkhart County is a county in the state of Indiana. As of 2010, the county's population was 197,559. Elkhart County was created on April 1, 1830. The county seat is Goshen. There are several theories, and the most likely, claims that the county is named after the Shawnee Indian chief Elkhart, cousin of the famous Chief Tecumseh, and father of princess Mishawaka for whom neighboring Mishawaka is named.

Elkhart County in part of the Elkhart-Goshen Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in turn is part of the South Bend-Elkhart-Mishawaka Combined Statistical Area. It is also considered part of the broader region of Northern Indiana known as Michiana, and is 20 miles (32 km) east of South Bend, Indiana, 110 miles (180 km) east of Chicago, Illinois, and 150 miles (240 km) north of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Etymology - Origin of Elkhart County Name

There are several theories concerning the origin of the county's name.

The first says that the county was named after an Elkhart tribe. However there is no historical proof that such a tribe existed. Another theory, one provided on the city's website, says that Elkhart's Island Park looks like an elk's heart. However, it is unknown how Beardsley could have known what the Island looked like from above. Hot air balloons existed at the time but the first air flight did not take place until the late 1800s.

A third theory, and the most likely, claims that 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.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Elkhart County History

At the beginning of the 19th century, the area now known as Elkhart was mainly inhabited by the Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi tribes. Pioneers began settling in the area known as the Elkhart Prairie in 1829 and on April 1, 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

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 468 square miles (1,212 km2), of which 464 square miles (1,201 km2) is land and 4 square miles (10 km2) (0.86%) is water.

Elkhart county is located in north Indiana and sits in predominantly rural farm land with some rolling hills in its northeast corner. Those hills were caused by glaciers and are part of the St. Lawrence Seaway Continental Divide.

Elkhart County is also located in the Northern Indiana region known as Michiana, 20 miles east of South Bend, 110 miles east of Chicago, and 150 miles north of Indianapolis. The area is playfully referred to by locals as the RV capital of the world and is known for its sizable Amish population. For the latter reason, the county teams up with neighboring Lagrange County to promote tourism by referring to the area as Northern Indiana Amish Country.

The St. Joseph River, which flows across the Michigan border north of Bristol, is the main waterway in Elkhart County. The Elkhart River enters the county east of Millersburg and winds its way through Goshen and Dunlap to Island Park in Elkhart where it meets the St. Joseph. The Little Elkhart River flows into the county southeast of Middlebury and creates some scenic views in Bonneyville Mills County Park before emptying into the St. Joseph near Bristol. Numerous creeks wind their way through the countryside and several lakes, including Simonton Lake, dot the landscape.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Northeast: St. Joseph County, Mich.
  • East: Lagrange County
  • Southeast: Noble County
  • South: Kosciusko County
  • Southwest: Marshall County
  • West: St. Joseph County
  • Northwest: Cass County, Mich.


Higher education

Elkhart County has six institutions for higher learning, three of which are solely located in the county: Goshen College, a small Mennonite liberal arts college of 1000 students in Goshen; the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, which has been operating on Elkhart's south side since 1958: and Indiana Fundamental Bible College in New Paris.

The city of Elkhart also has four satellite campuses within its city limits. Bethel College of Mishawaka has a small satellite campus on the south side, Indiana Institute of Technology has a small operation on Middlebury Street, Indiana University South Bend has its "Elkhart Center" downtown, and Ivy Tech Community College has a campus as well.

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