LaGrange County was settled and founded in 1832 by mostly Yankee immigrants from New England. They so admired the Marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat and military officer who fought alongside the Americans in the American Revolutionary War, they named their county after his French estate outside of Paris.
But within a dozen years, LaGrange County started becoming home to a migrating Amish community from Pennsylvania who spoke German and “Pennsylvania Dutch.” Today, the county is most known for its Amish/Mennonite community. Over a third of the population of LaGrange County is Amish, and LaGrange, along with neighboring Elkhart County, is home to the third-largest Amish community in the United States.
Reflecting the diverse culture, the town of Shipshewana, which is almost synonymous with the Amish/Mennonite culture, is named after Chief Shipshewana of the Potawatomi Tribe of Native Americans who were forcibly removed from their lands by the federal government in 1837.
Shipshewana has become a tourism mecca drawing in visitors for its auctions and flea markets, quaint shops, and Amish craftsmanship and cooking.
The renowned Shipshewana Trading Place has grown into a destination for its seasonal Tuesday/Wednesday flea market, the largest in the Midwest; weekly year-round antique, livestock and horse auctions; lodging; dining; craft and vintage shows, antique markets, and RV service. People come mostly from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, but it also attracts visitors from all over the United States and Canada.
To give visitors a better understanding of the unique culture of the Amish in the area, the Menno-Hof Amish & Mennonite Museum in Shipshewana showcases the history and the faith and life of the Amish and Mennonites who trace their beginnings to the Anabaptists in Switzerland in 1525 at the time of the Protestant Reformation.
The Amish were part of this movement until 1693 when they formed their own group in Switzerland and the Alsatian region of present-day France. Their first leader was Jakob Ammann, and they became known as Amish.
The center is generally open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Before planning a visit, be sure to check its website for updated info concerning COVID-19 and hours of operation.
Named for: the French home of Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette outside of Paris known as “the Château de la
Population: 39,330 (2018 estimate)
County seat: LaGrange