History of Huntington County

Huntington County, Indiana, was organized on December 2, 1834. It was originally part of The Adams New Purchase of 1827 which evolved from The Delaware New Purchase. Indiana Counties developed from these land claims include the modern day counties of Adams, Clinton, Grant, Huntington, Jay, Wells, and portions of Boone, Carroll, Tipton and Wabash. Several of these counties maintain mutual commercial and cultural relationships today.

Huntington County is named in recognition of Samuel Huntington of Connecticut, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and president of the Continental Congress under The Articles of Confederation. 

Huntington County has an area of 384 square miles (24 miles north-to-south by 16 miles east-to-west) and 12 townships: Clear Creek, Dallas, Huntington, Jackson, Jefferson, Lancaster, Polk, Rock Creek, Salamonie, Union, Warren, and Wayne. The principal communities in the county are Andrews, Bippus, Huntington, Markle, Mount Etna, Roanoke, and Warren.

First-known inhabitants

The Miami Indians were the first-known inhabitants of the area, recognizing its strategic importance as a transportation route for commerce and military activities. The Little River joins the Wabash River in Huntington County, forming the area known as the Forks of the Wabash. The land associated with “The Forks” was very significant to Tribal activities, serving as a Treaty Grounds as well as a center of commerce.

The larger region of Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio was heavily influenced by the history of the Northwest Territory of the Great Lakes and the military struggles. These ultimately resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Greenville after U.S. General “Mad” Anthony Wayne defeated Chief Little Turtle of the Miami Nation at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

The Miami had discovered a short portage near present-day Fort Wayne, allowing a convenient connection between the Great Lakes (via the Maumee River) and the Mississippi River basin (via the Wabash and Ohio Rivers). Only the short portage at Fort Wayne interrupted an otherwise seamless water route connecting the upper Great Lakes with New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. 

Chief Francis La Fontaine

Chief Francis La Fountaine became the Miami Chief after Chief Richardville.  La Fountaine built a trading house and residence adjacent to the Forks of the Wabash. The site still exists today and is maintained by the Historic Forks of the Wabash Foundation.

During the 1830s, with the construction of the Wabash and Erie Canal, the county grew economically and in population. Later, the Canal was replaced by the railroads, resulting in another growth “spurt” in Huntington County. The present-day U.S. 24 highway follows this original corridor.   

City of Huntington

The City of Huntington grew from the consolidation of the smaller communities of Drovertown, Ubee, and Huntington itself. The community earned the nickname “The Lime City” as a result of the natural limestone deposits beneath the surface soil in the area. Indeed, several gravel pits, stone quarries and other mining interests are found in Huntington County.

The Civil War era put Huntington in the national spotlight with the trial of Huntington native Lambdin P. Milligan and the eventual U.S. Supreme Court Case ExParte-Milligan. This case determined that U.S. civilians could not be tried in a military court as long as the civil court system was functioning.

Huntington was in the national spotlight in the late 1960s as Huntington native J. Edward Roush, Member of Congress, introduced the nation to the 9-1-1 emergency response system.  He placed the 1st Bell-System 9-1-1 call in 1968.  He is recognized nationally as the "father of 9-1-1" having been the Congressional sponsor for the system. 

Huntington again hit the national spotlight in 1988 when Huntington native United States Senator Dan Quayle was selected by George H.W. Bush to serve as his running mate. Quayle served as the 44th vice president of the United States. He joined four other Hoosiers who previously served in that capacity: Schuyler Colfax, Charles W. Fairbanks, Thomas Hendricks, and Thomas Riley Marshall. Interestingly, all five of Indiana’s vice presidents all came from hometowns along the Indiana Highway 9 corridor, earning the route the designation as “The Highway of Vice Presidents.”

Andrews, Indiana

The economic developments of the other communities of Huntington County also share a rich heritage. The development of Andrews was heavily influenced as the railroad industry grew in Huntington County. Once referred to as Antioch, the town is served by the Norfolk-Southern Railroad today. On the banks of the Wabash River, Andrews lies on the Hoosier Heartland Industrial Corridor of U.S. Highway 24, connecting Toledo, Ohio, Fort Wayne and Lafayette, Indiana. The Salamonie Reservoir State Recreation Area and Salamonie Dam are nearby.

Bippus, Indiana

The claim to fame of small town Bippus, in the northwest corner of Huntington County on Indiana State Road 105, is as the hometown of the late ABC Sports Broadcast Legend Chris Schenkel. Schenkel was best known for his work on ABCs Wide World of Sports, Pro-Bowlers Tour coverage, and the ABC coverage of the Olympic Games.

Markle, Indiana

Also on the banks of the Wabash River on the eastern side of the county is Markle. It lies at the intersection of U.S. 224 and Interstate 69, and is home to a variety of manufacturing concerns, including Novae Corporation, Wayne Metals, ALH Building Systems, and Dayton Freight. The U.S. 224 Industrial Park offers prime manufacturing sites right on I-69 at Exit 286.

Roanoke, Indiana

Roanoke is situated in the northeastern part of the county, owing its origin to the canal and the railroad, as well as the eventual construction of U.S. Highway 24. The canal included locks at Roanoke. During its canal days, waterpower was abundant. Gristmills and later steam mills for flour milling developed. Woodworking establishments followed as the town grew. Today, Roanoke’s downtown is a regional model for downtown revitalization, spurred by the headquarters of American Specialty Insurance. Roanoke is conveniently served by I-69 at Exit 286.

Warren, Indiana

The Town of Warren developed on the banks of the Salamonie River in the southeastern section of the county. Served by two exits off I-69 (Exit 73 & Exit 78) Warren proudly announces that it is “three miles on your way” as you travel I-69. The development of the town was heavily influenced by the history of Indiana’s petroleum industry. 

The historic Trenton Oil Field lies just south of the community. Numerous small towns in the region grew as the petroleum industry flourished as area wells produced a wealth of natural gas and crude oil. According to the geologist for the State of Indiana, wells around Warren produced nearly 4,041 barrels of crude per day in 1897. Warren hosts the museum collection in honor of The U.S.S. Salamonie, AO-26, Cimarron Class Fleet Oiler from World War II and is also the location of Heritage Pointe.

Famous people originally from Huntington County

  • U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle
  • Purdue University Basketball Star Chris Kramer
  • Indiana University Basketball Star Sean Cline
  • Former U.S. Congressman J. Edward Roush
  • ABC Sport Broadcaster Chris Schenkel
  • E.J. Tackett, 2016 PBA World Championship, Reno.

Today, approximately 38,000 people live in Huntington County.

Compiled and edited by Mark Wickersham, executive director, HCUED