With Lake Michigan and the Ohio River as major waterways, Native Indian groups have been numerous to the region for centuries. From the earliest Paleo-Indians, Adena, and Hopewell people, the area eventually has the Mississippians Native Indians. Just before the Europeans arrived, five American Indian Iroquois tribes defeated many of the lesser tribes all along the mid-west region, including in Indiana. Those remaining, the Algonquian tribes in Indiana (Shawnee, Wes and Illinois) barely existed.
When the French explorers came to the Indiana region in the 1670s, the militaristic Iroquois were upset that the French traded with the Algonquian tribes. The Iroquois immediately destroyed a French outpost in Indiana. The French in turn continued to aid the Algonquian Indians for years. Fighting ended in 1701 with most of the Algonquian tribes killed or had left the region.
The French stayed in the area because of the fur trade between Canada and Louisiana. In the 1730s many of the traders had been joined by Catholic priests to convert the Indians. When France was at war with England in the 1750s, the Indian assisted the French. With France’s defeat by England, the French military presence left Indiana completely by 1761. Yet, the established French fur traders remained.
During the 1760s, the British established peace with the natives and with the French traders.
In 1775, George Rogers Clark laid claim for Virginia to this land of Indiana. After the American Revolutionary War, the Northwest Territory included Indiana. On July 4, 1800, the Indiana Territory was then created. This opened the flood gates for people from the eastern states to resettle further west, an important note for Indiana genealogy. Especially from New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, people moved to Indiana.
There were still Indian hostiles in the region in the early 1800s, especially with the Shawnees. With the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe won by the Americans, all Native American uprisings ended and allowed the American frontier pioneers to take full control of all of Indiana.
By November 1816, Indiana was now admitted as a state with not slavery allowed. Former Indian lands were opened up for new settlers. In 1810 the population was around 24,500. By 1820 it had increased to 147,100 people. Just before the outbreak of the American Civil War the population soared to 1.3 million residents. Once a frontier, within a few years, Indiana had become a major populated state.
The waterways of rivers and Lake Michigan helped speed its economic development. With the railroad systems, progress came even faster. With natural gas discovered in Indiana in the 1880s, a new major industry grew. It remained a major industry until the gas ran out in the early 20th century. Indiana’s industrialization continued with the manufacturing of medicines and then steel.
By 1900 Indiana had grown to 2.5 million then 3.2 million by 1930. By having an educated population, low taxes, easy access to transportation, and business-friendly government, people continued to settle in Indiana as it became a leading manufacturing state.
In 2009, for Indiana genealogy information, the state has approximately 6.4 million people with an ethnic make-up of 88 percent white, 9 percent African-American and 1.4 percent of Asian heritage. During the years of greatest immigration to Indiana, it was individuals of German heritage as well as those from Ireland who settled the state. In recent years the Hispanic population was grown in numbers. Those of the Protestant religions represent the largest percentage.