Post 22/2022 Saturday 28 May . . . I’m offering one more post before I ease off to tinker with blog frequency and focus. Today’s post brings Cornwall Cogitation full circle, maybe like the last chapter of a book. I’ve been helped in summing up this year so far, I’m happy to say, by a comment from a friend, John Hertzler, who asked if I was planning to do an A-Z post about Elkhart County for readers in the UK and elsewhere, similar to last’s week’s summary of our experience in County Cornwall.
“Good idea!” I replied. “It’s a chance to summarize some of what’s noteworthy right under my nose here in Elkhart County, Indiana.”
The impetus comes, too, from a conversation I had during the interval (intermission) of the stage production, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in April at the Hall for Cornwall. The couple next to us had visited Disney, the Grand Canyon, New York City and elsewhere, but nowhere in the Midwest. “What are the attractions in Indiana?” the husband asked, noting one as the Indianapolis 500.
Ooh, how about a flea market? Rural expanse of farms and small towns. State parks. Museums. Recreational Vehicle industry–the world capital centered in our home county.
I couldn’t think fast enough to put the best picture forward on Indiana (his was a serious question), but since then I’ve thought of other attractions in our state, established in 1816, with settlements first in the southern section along the Ohio River, Kentucky on the other side, to its reach north to the border with Michigan, and flanked by Illinois and Ohio. May the wonders contained within the State of Indiana be as they are, I’m on the trail to find my way around Elkhart County, with a brief foray into contiguous counties.
Welcome to my little, far from exhaustive, list.
My take on Elkhart County, Indiana, zipping A to Z
Alpha. I’m using the first letter of the Greek alphabet to reference the use of Greek and Hebrew in the courses offered in the Master of Divinity program at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart. I’ve never studied those languages, but I’m happy that many of our pastors and other church leaders have–Greek for the New Testament, Hebrew for the Old Testament. The county is home to many Anabaptist congregations, agencies and schools–including Goshen College, as it is for other faiths.
Bonneyville Mill. Oldest continuously operating grist mill in the state, near Bristol. The mill is surrounded by trails and rolling woodland across 222 acres, with picnic shelters. A good place to buy stoneground wheat, corn or rye flour.
Chief, The. Like Jelberts, noted last week, this is a small go-to institution in Goshen, where the queues for ice cream cones or pints are worth the wait. There are other notable ice cream businesses in the county, including Yups on the far east side, on SR 120 north of Middlebury.
Dairy. “The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the American Dairy Assn. recently coordinated an Elkhart County Dairy and Business Tour to educate legislators, economic development professionals and the media,” begins a news story in The Farmer’s Exchange Online Edition (May 27, 2022). Written by Mary Ann Lienhart Cross, the story certainly opened my eyes to the function of the Dairy Farmers of America Plant here in Goshen, owned as a cooperative by 11,500 dairy farmers on more than 6,000 farms nationwide. The article also recounts two other innovative dairy operations in the county. Really enlightening. Good stuff. Check out The Farmer’s Exhange Online for Friday May 27.
Elkhart County 4-H Fair. A state festival guide notes: “One of the greatest 4-H county fairs in the nation. Grandstand entertainment, famous food row, rides, rodeo, demolition derby PPL tractor pulls and more.” I can take everything but the last two features. The fair runs July 22-30. It is a big deal, starting off with a parade through the city. Glad for the high numbers of rural and urban children involved in 4-H.
Funk, John F. My hero, who gave up a lucrative lumber business in Chicago to move with Salome and their daughter to Elkhart in 1867 to continue publication of The Herald of Truth and its German-language counterpart and to establish the Mennonite Publishing Company, a private enterprise to serve the church and wider commercial interests. Funk (1835-1930) founded the Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart in 1871.
Greencroft Communities. We live at the Greencroft Goshen Continuing Care Retirement Community. the original location of this not-for-profit enterprise that sponsors similar communities elsewhere in the state as well as Michigan and Ohio. Of course, I’m biased, I’m glad to be here, pure and simple.
Health. Our county is well-covered for hospital, mental health and addiction treatment, as well as community care services for all residents, including immigrants.
Indigenous population. Potawatomi and Miami native peoples occupied Elkhart–and adjacent–counties prior to the arrival of European settlers. It’s a disquieting story, the displacement of native nations at the hands of new arrivals. There are fitting commemorative events locally and beyond and a thriving indigenous population in northern Indiana and southern Michigan.
Jayco, et al. Is one of the manufactures of recreational vehicles, based in Middlebury. Besides RVs, the county is home to leading manufacturers in the marine, musical instrument, and manufactured housing industries. I think of fellow West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society member and former newspaper executive, Derek, who prizes his old “honest to goodness” Conn trumpet, once manufactured in Elkhart. I invited him to attend the Elkhart Jazz Festival, June 16-19, however he is traveling less these days, even as he recalls the sumptuous diet of jazz, he and two buddies used to enjoy in New Orleans.
Kosciusko County. Adjoining county to the south. Home to leading pharmaceutical industries and, one of our favorites, The Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts. The first show of the summer is coming up June 6: Cinderella. We’ve had season tickets for probably 40 years.
LaGrange County. Adjoining county to the east. The town of Shipshewana over the years has metamorphized from a farming community of about 500 to an influx of people from everywhere for world class entertainment; shopping, including the Shipshewana Flea Market (noted in 1001 Things to Do Before You Die); Menno-Hof, telling the Amish, Mennonite and Hutterite story–and still going strong as a farming community.
Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale. It may be the grandparent of such annual sales held in Anabaptist communities in the USA and Canada. Volunteers organize an annual sale of quilts, food, antiques and other items to raise money for the relief, service, and development work of Mennonite Central Committee. MCC was organized at a meeting at Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart in 1920.
Nature. The county is blessed with city and county parks and playgrounds. Thankfully, toilets are fairly well distributed throughout the parks, though not everywhere on a year-round basis. The parks offer loads of history and provision for foot or cross-country ski locomotion.
Olympia Candy Kitchen. Breakfast and lunch and candy to take home. Another staple in Goshen. Adheres to the old practice of closing on Wednesday afternoon. Add to that the enduring South Side Soda Shop and favorite gathering spots in surrounding towns.
Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. This is an all so fine linear park that runs along a former rail line from Goshen to Shipshewana. I am still in awe, years later, and with deep gratitude, to friend John D. Yoder who, with an energetic board, persisted in seeing the trail develop and be prized. against early resistance and opposition. Its heavy use for biking and walking is testimony to the value of such trails all over the state.
Quilt Garden at Elkhart County Courthouse, Goshen
Quilt Gardens. The Quilt Gardens movement along the Heritage Trail celebrates its 15th anniversary. “This colorful patchwork of quilt inspired, super-sized gardens and hand-painted, quilt themed murals deliver dazzling views in the communities of Bristol, Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury, Nappanee, and Wakarusa,” notes the 2022 guide, available at each garden. This year sees the return of Seward Johnson sculptures adjacent to each garden. “It’s the only experience of its kind in the World!” the guide confidently states. A bit overstated? Probably not. The gardens require detailed planning and plenty of care. Thanks to the volunteers who put their skills and passion to work to create and maintain the gardens. We’ll take in the blooms and no doubt food destinations along the trail. The Quilt Gardens open May 30.
Rivers. The Elkhart River meets the St Joseph River in Elkhart. These two vital rivers figured centrally in indigenous life, early commerce, and recreation today.
St Joseph County. County to the west, main city is South Bend, named for being at the southern bend of the St. Joseph River. Home to the early industry of Studebaker, Oliver (farm equipment), and location of a number of higher education schools, including Bethel University, Indiana University at South Bend, and University of Notre Dame. St Joseph, Kosciusko and Elkhart counties together are the same size and almost same population as County Cornwall.
Trains. Each day more than 100 freight and passenger trains pass through the Elkhart Yards. At one time 40 passenger trains passed through Elkhart daily. The tale is told of an administrator, Nelson Kauffman, in the 1960s being hurried out of the office by his secretary, Mary Martin, lest he miss his train. Shortly thereafter, from the train depot, Mary got a call from her boss, “Where am I going?” he queried.
Underground Railroad. Escaped slaves traveled through Indiana in the years prior to and during the American Civil War. Abner Blue (1819-1894), moved with his mother to Elkhart County when he was 17 years old. Abner was active in providing passage to these escapees as they traveled to Michigan and on to Ontario. The Indiana Historical Bureau recognized him as a “conductor” on the Freedom Trail.
Vacation. Elhart and surrounding counties are happy to welcome visitors. For a look at the past and present, visit the Midwest Museum of American Art in Elkhart, the Ruthmere Mansion in Elkhart, the Elkhart County Historical Museum in Bristol, The Goshen Historical Society in Goshen, the galleries at Goshen College, and the splendid stage shows at the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart.
Wellfield Botanical Gardens. As its name implies, this 36-acre wellfield the main water supply for the City of Elkhart, offers 20 themed-gardens amidst the attractive pumping stations. The gardens are a year-round delight for people of all ages. Admission, though Tuesdays are free. Worth a membership for residents.
Xyst. If this term has any place of reference in Elkhart County, it could be the portico at Ruthmere or The Lerner, but probably most properly it could apply to a tree-lined section of the Elkhart County Parks River Preserve. Xyst in ancient Rome referred to a long portico or a tree-lined garden walk.
Zimmer Biomet. One of the industries, along with Paragon Medical, OrthoPediatrics and DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction that make Warsaw, the seat of Kosciusko County, the Orthopedic Capital of the World.
Quilt Garden at Old Bag Factory, Goshen
Here’s advance notice of what many communities in the UK and across the Commonwealth will be celebrating June 5-7. God Save the Queen!
Until next time
Last night I dreamed that I was telling someone what my plans were for my blog. Too bad I don’t recall who I was talking to, or what exactly I said. I have a foggy notion of what I was thinking, time will tell. I hope to focus next steps over the coming weeks.
Right now, I’m off for my second cup of coffee–clearing off my desk will wait. THANK YOU for reading, for responding (in writing, in Like, in person, or just in thought), and for keeping the world moving toward peace, justice and harmony. We can do it.
Finally, heartfelt thanks to Marty for proofreading. Often has saved me great embarrassment. Until next time.