When settlers began filling in the new state of Indiana in the first half of the 1800s, they proudly adopted names relating to their heritage. One county’s Polish ancestry stands out in its name — Kosciusko — and its seat — Warsaw.
The northern Indiana county, founded in 1836, is named after the Polish general and military architect Tadeusz Kościuszko who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The county seat is named after the capital of Poland.
By mid-century, with its location amid the county’s plentiful natural glacial lakes, Warsaw and the county had become an early tourism destination. The lakes, along with the railroads, brought more residents — and industry.
The lakes and one industry in particular — medical devices — have given Warsaw and Kosciusko County much of its character and economic prosperity since the late 19th century.
The many lakes bring bustling activities to Warsaw, North Webster, Winona Lake and Syracuse, and provide endless opportunities for water recreation. Indiana’s oldest sternwheeler, The Dixie, cruises Webster Lake in the summer, and Lake Wawasee hosts an annual fireworks display during the Fourth of July weekend.
At 3,060 acres, Lake Wawasee is the largest natural body of water wholly within Indiana. It is a summer vacation area for residents from Indianapolis and Chicago.
In 1895, Revra DePuy, a 35-year-old chemist and pharmaceutical salesman, had grown so fond of the area’s lakes during his work-related travels, he decided to make Warsaw home of his new manufacturing plant. DePuy Manufacturing began designing and building fiber splints that could be customized for patients to set fractures, an advance over the wooden splints used at the time. DePuy became the world’s first manufacturer of orthopedic devices.
Thirty-two years later, DePuy employee and area native J.O. Zimmer launched his own company.
Today, Warsaw’s orthopedic device cluster is one of the country’s most concentrated centers of medical device makers. These companies, which include industry giants like DePuy Synthes and Zimmer Biomet, represent 50% of the global orthopedic market for total joint replacements. Truly, Warsaw is “the Orthopedic Capital of the World.”
Named for: Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish military architect and officer who fought on the American side during the Revolutionary War
Population: 79,344 (2018 estimate)
County seat: Warsaw
Known for: its many natural glacial lakes, including Lake Wawasee. “Orthopedic Capital of the World” for its medical device manufacturers.
It’s No Yolk!
The town of Mentone, on the southwestern corner of Kosciusko County, is home to what the locals call the world’s largest egg — a 3,000 pound concrete egg statue. It proudly proclaims the area’s nearly 140 year-history of providing commercially produced eggs to stores nationwide. Hence, Mentone is known as the “Egg Basket of the Midwest.”