Valparaiso History

The State of Indiana was known as Indian territory because it was a rendezvous point for many Indian Tribes. The first pioneers ventured through this area about 1670. The first settler in the area was a French-Canadian named Joseph Bailley, who in 1822 established a thriving fur post on the shore of Lake Michigan about 12 miles north of now Valparaiso. The site of the present City of Valparaiso was included in purchase of the land from the Potawatomi Indians by the U.S. Government in October 1832.

Located on a glacial moraine (now known as the Valparaiso Moraine) and the ancient Sauk Indian Trail from Rock Island (Illinois) to Detroit, the town had its first log cabin in 1834. In 1836, the state general assembly separated the county from LaPorte County and named it Porter County after the famous naval captain of the War of 1812.

In 1836 our first Commissioners were appointed and asked to locate a site for the county seat. The town of "Portersville" was quickly divided and platted and the town grew.

It was considered the appropriate name for the county seat because the county was named in honor of Commodore David Porter of the U.S. Navy. During the Battle of Valparaiso (Chile) that Captain David Porter aboard the U.S. Frigate Essex suffered defeat at the hands of two British warships within the neutral waters of Valparaiso Harbor. Although a defeat for the Americans, the battle contributed to a victorious end for the United States in the War of 1812.

H.M. Skinner, an early historian, tells of a group of old sailors who stopped at Hall's Saloon and passed the evening by telling nautical tales. One tale was of a South American seaport where Porter fought his famous battle aboard the Essex. The story must have captured the imagination and admiration of local residents for in 1837 the town was renamed "Valparaiso", which means "Vale of Paradise", and a township was called Essex.

It is believed there are no other "Porter" Counties in the United States. There are several known "Valparaisos" in the world: in Columbia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Florida, Nebraska, and, of course, INDIANA

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