The focus of this issue of Gateway Family Historian is Indiana.
As in any genealogical search, understanding a states history and settlement patterns can be helpful. Indiana was first discovered by Europeans in the 1670s when French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Robert La Salle traveled throughout the area and claimed it as part of French Canada. Several French trading settlements sprang up during the early 1700s. The area became British in 1763, but repeated Indian uprisings made settlement difficult until the end of the Revolutionary War.
With the establishment of the Northwest Territory, settlement increased dramatically. The Michigan Territory was created in 1805 and the Illinois Territory in 1809, creating the modern boundaries of Indiana. Statehood followed in 1816. The state was settled in a south to north pattern, with emigrants from Kentucky, Virginia, and the Carolinas moving into the southernmost counties first. Swiss and Germans followed in the 1830s. Another important group was the Quakers, who came to Indiana to avoid slavery. There is still a strong Quaker association within the state. The millions of Europeans who came to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries did not, for the most part, settle in Indiana. However, there was a final population shift in the early 20th century, when steel mills and oil refineries in the northern part of the state attracted African-Americans moving north for jobs in industry.
Indiana also played an important role in the Civil War, furnishing approximately 200,000 Union soldiers. Despite strong Confederate sentiment in the southern part of the state, Indiana remained in the Union throughout the war. Quakers and others in the state provided a strong anti-slavery presence, and Indiana provided an important route for many people on the Underground Railroad. The Indiana State Archives holds numerous types of record of interest to the researcher with an Indiana Civil War soldier ancestor. These records include the following:
Records of the Indiana State Soldiers Home at Lafayette. Records for men, 1871-1980, and women, 1890-1980.
State Archives Division,
Indiana State Library,
Information about these and other materials in the collections of the Indiana State Archives may be found on its website at: www.ai.org/icpr/webfile/archives/homepage.html.
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