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Our History & Culture

Acquaint yourself with the Amish culture

Almost 200 years of history is captured and remembered in the buildings, the communities and the traditions of Shipshewana/LaGrange County. Enjoy several exhibits and displays chronicling the stories of our past and our journey as a county. Perhaps of most interest is the quiet, traditional lifestyle of our Amish population. As our lives become increasingly busy, their simplicity can be quite soothing—and their traditional handcrafted goods are always a favorite.

The Amish way of life

The first Amish settlers came to Shipshewana/LaGrange County from Pennsylvania in 1844. Today, LaGrange and Elkhart Counties are home to the second largest Amish population in America. Visitors continually return to Shipshewana/LaGrange County to sample the delicious flavors and handcrafted furniture, quilts, toys and household items of Amish markets and shops.

The Amish prefer a simple, humble way of life that places a priority on family and community. To maintain this focus in an ever-changing world, they live by a specific code of conduct, dress and tradition that sets them apart. They also choose to live without many modern conveniences, which they believe weaken the need for reliance on each other and foster inequalities that can segment a community.

The Amish are a private people, and although they are very welcoming and friendly, your respect is appreciated.

Our historical landscape

Shipshewana/LaGrange County was once home to the Potawatami Indians. The first white settlers came from the east to establish communities in this Midwestern wilderness in the early 1830’s. Howe, the former county seat, was settled in 1834 as Mongoquinong, and later Lima. The town’s name was eventually changed to Howe in honor of John B. Howe, one of the founders of the community’s first bank. Mr. Howe’s mansion now houses the rectory and administration building for Howe School.

Several other historic sites include the 150-year-old English Prairie Church of the Brethren in Brighton, and remnants of one of the areas first one-room schoolhouses. Two general stores, one complete with the original soda fountain remain much as they were an era ago and are still open for business today. And Greenfiled Mills is Indiana’s oldest commercial water-powered flour mill.