Diverse Goshen

Goshen, Indiana, the county seat of Elkhart County, was platted in 1831. The area was home to Indigenous Miami and then Potawatomi band people before they were driven out of the region by expansionist policies of the United States government. White settlers displaced these Native peoples as they established local communities. Beginning in the mid-19th century, Elkhart County’s emerging cities and towns included free Black families who struggled against segregationist attitudes of white community members, and of whom only 20 remained at the time of the 1890 census.

White Mennonite and Amish settlers grew into a substantial population of Anabaptists and established the Mennonite institution, Goshen College. A Jewish community was thriving here at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, but that had been reduced to 52 remaining members by 1927.

Beginning in the mid-20th century, the Bracero Program introduced Mexican laborers to the area who planted the seed for a growing Latinx community, who made up 30% of Goshen's population by 2019.

The stops on the tour highlight both community achievements as well as the challenges faced by groups as they lived and worked in Goshen.

Potawatomi Leader Onaxa and Baintertown Park

A commemorative rock in River Preserve County Park marks the legacy of the Potawatomi leader, Onaxa. Also known as Wonyanoshonya or Five Medals, Onaxa was a leader of the Potawatomi of the St. Joseph River. He was involved in major treaty…

Goshen College and the Mennonite Community

In 1894 the first post-secondary school geared towards the Mennonite community opened when the Elkhart Institute of Science, Industry and the Arts was established. Shortly after its opening, the operation of the institute was taken over by the…

Newell Brothers General Store

South of the County Courthouse on Main Street is Goshen’s business district. This area was developed in the first decade of the 20th century as “the most modern block in Goshen.” The Jefferson block was anchored by Newell’s, originally built as a…

Neptune Statue and Olympia Candy Kitchen

The Neptune statue that sits on the south east lawn on the Elkhart County Courthouse highlights the story of immigration to Goshen and the building of a successful business. Across Main Street from the statue is the Olympia Candy Kitchen. It was…

Elkhart County Home

The County Home facility was built on this site in 1886 to provide housing for those who were unable to support themselves. The Indiana Constitution mandated that counties, when able, should build a facility “to provide one or more farms to be an…

Goshen’s Jewish Community

The Gutierrez Mexican bakery was home to the Louis Simon Clothiers beginning more than one hundred years ago. It was a staple of Goshen’s Jewish community that established itself in the mid-1800s with a small concentration of Jewish families,…

Kercher’s Orchard and the Bracero Program

Kercher’s family-run orchard began in 1922 when William Wheeler Kercher planted apple trees at his home on 7th Street. The business began on 40 acres across the street from the orchard’s current location. Today, the orchard covers over 600 acres and…

The Carter Road Subdivision and America's Sundown Towns

Just south of the Goshen College campus, the Carter Road subdivision has a good view of the pond created by the Goshen Dam. It is rather unassuming but serves as a reminder of Goshen's past as a “sundown town.” During the first half and mid-20th…