Pulaski County, an Indiana legacy

The land that now forms Pulaski County was ceded by the Potawatomi Indians to the United States on 26 October 1832, in a treaty signed in Rochester in neighboring Fulton County.  It was another 10 years before the Native Americans relocated, but before the ink had dried on the treaty, white trappers, hunters, and squatters moved into the territory from settlements along the Wabash River.

In February 1835, the state legislature approved an 18-by-24-mile area (labeled on maps as “Indian Lands”) to be known as Pulaski County, in honor of General Casimir Pulaski, about whom you can read more here. Four years passed before the county was populated enough to formally organize on 6 May 1839, when a group of five men, from White, Carroll, and Cass counties, met at settler John Pearson’s log cabin and designated ‘Winnemac’, which had already been laid out, as the county seat, making Pulaski County the 87th of Indiana’s 92 counties.

John Pearson, known as the founding father of Pulaski County, was a community leader and also Winamac’s first entrepreneur.  He owned the general store, tavern, and sawmill in addition to his elected duties — he was also Clerk, Recorder, and Auditor.  Pearson held those offices until 1853, when he severed relations with Pulaski County and moved to California, where he died one year later.

By the early 1860s, towns had been platted and were growing, the county was dotted with churches and schools, and a variety of businesses — from mills to retail stores — were opened to provide people of town and farm with their needs.  New railroads had taken the county out of its isolation.  Four of the settlements later became incorporated towns: Francesville, Medaryville, Monterey, and Winamac.

Today, Pulaski County is northern Indiana’s most rural and sparsely populated county.  The population today — slightly over 13,000 — numbers almost exactly what it did 100 years ago.  Pulaski history and culture revolve around agriculture and small-town life.  A pioneer spirit continues to thrive here — a rich and increasingly rare lifestyle that produces solid citizens who credit their success to their roots.