Map of Porter County, Indiana with an inset showing the location of the community of Tassinong
|• Total||0.1 sq mi (0.026 km2)|
|• Land||0.1 sq mi (0.026 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||695 ft (211.8 m)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
Tassinong is an unincorporated rural community in Porter County, Indiana, south of the city of Valparaiso. The community includes an historic marker claiming to be a French mission and trading post in 1673, making it the oldest European settlement in Indiana as well as neighboring Illinois.
The first use of the word Tassinong appears in 1830, referring to a village of Potawatomi Indians. The earlier existence of an Indian village and a French trading post are identified by an historic marker in Tassinong. (See Controversy below.) The earliest presence of Europeans in the Porter County area is in 1679 when Sieur de La Salle passed down the Kankakee River, 7 miles (11 km) to the south. At that time, the area south of Lake Michigan was embroiled in the Beaver Wars, which began in the Iroquois lands of New York in 1638. Iroquois war parties had destroyed the Erie Nation by 1656  and had moved west into the western Great Lakes by 1670  In 1689, the Miami, with aid from the Anishinaabe Confederacy (Odawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibwa) defeated the Iroquois near modern South Bend. That begins a return migration of Potawatomi peoples to the lands around the St. Joseph River with over 200 warriors and their families to the St. Joseph valley by 1695. The arrival of a settlement occurred in 1834, four years existence of a Potawatomi village. The village may have taken its name from the nearby woodlands, Tassinong Grove. A post office began operations at Tassinong Grove on April 10, 1838. Tassinong Grove was located 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the community of Tassinong. By 1846, the community and post office had moved north to the location where the Baum’s Bridge Road, joined the road to Valparaiso, modern State Route 49. In that year, several businesses are listed, including two stores, two blacksmiths, a carpenter, a tavern and a shoemaker. A church was built in 1855 by the Presbyterians. The decline of the village began in 1865 when the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louise Railroad was built through Kouts, 2 miles (3.2 km) to the south.
The location of Tassinong first appears on a map in 1875, when the State of Indiana completes its survey of Morgan and Pleasant Townships in Porter County. A trail is shown leading from the Potawatomi Ford at modern Baum’s Bridge along the Baum’s Bridge Road to the area of Tassinong, then heading north towards Valparaiso. The oldest available Atlas of Porter County, 1876, shows the village of Tassinong in the southeast quarter of section 31, Township 34, Range 5.
Tassinong is in East Porter County School Corporation. The high school is Morgan Township High School, located north of Malden on State Route 49.
On June 13, 1960, a brass plaque was unveiled in Tassinong to commemorate the long history of the site. The marker reads, Oldest Village in Northern Indiana * A French mission and Trading Post – 1673 - Post Office Established – 1837 * John Jones, P.M. * Incorporated as a Village 1852 by Joseph Bartholomew and Jesse Spencer. It was created and placed through the efforts of Historical Society of Porter County, Duneland Historical Society. The controversy revolves around the 1673 date for a French mission and trading post. No documentation has been found that predates 1915.
In 1915, Hubert Skinner, then president of the Porter County Historical Society, wrote an article in the Indiana Magazine of History, showing the origin of the word Tassinong from the French word Tassement. In the following issue, P. Dunn of Indiana University, Bloomington, rebuted the assertion that Tassinong could be derived from Tassement. The implication of the Skinner article was ‘conclusive proof that they (the local Indians) derived the word from the French and passed it on, establishing a French presence at that location. Skinner wrote a counter rebutall afterwards and nothing further was heard.
In 1934, A.J. Bowser wrote Tasssinong and Kouts for the local newspaper. Here he introduced the name Bengal as a prior name for the area, while supporting the Dunn argument that there is ‘no proof’ of a French connection. The Kouts High School History of Pleasant township was published in the local paper in 1936, establishing the presence of Claude-Jean Allouez, Claude Dablon, Father Jacques Marquette, and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in Porter County, passing ‘through this territory on foot.’ No mention of Tassinong for any French post was made.
The Stroller was a local columnist through the 1950s and 1960s who wrote extensively in the newspaper about Porter County and its history. In 1957, he picked up the story of Tassinong. He identified that Fathers Allouez, Chardon and D’Ablon (Dablon) preached at Tassinong and that Sylvester Pierre, the Tassinong postmaster in 1875 provided an extensive history for the village. including that it was originally called Sequada Tiera by the Spanish, and then haute terre by the French. By 1700, it was Tassament de Benevole, becoming Benevole in 1763 when the English occupied the site. Then in 1781, it appears as Tassnaugh. He further wrote that the French post was burned in the 1700s by the English and had also been conquered by the Spanish for two weeks sometime in the 1700s. Specific dates were not given. He confirmed the return of the Potawatomi in the early 1800s and the first store in 1846.
The interest in Tassinong continued in 1959, when the Porter County Historical Society began discussions about placing an historic marker at the site. According to a newspaper article by Henry Rankin (reported living in 1882), the history of the site included:
- 5.5 miles (8.9 km) above the ford, used by ‘illegal Coureurs de bois’ and Indians as an illegal buying place.
- Indian-English officer with a party of Ottawa, witnesses the eating of ‘La Damonsal’ a Miami
- First known as Tassinong Grove, covered several miles.
- Until 1821, it was a trading place called Bengal, near J.N. Anderson’s place. Daniel Scott was the trader, previously working for Joseph Bailly. (American Fur Company)
- Post Office called Tassinong.
- Hubert Skinner searched state archives and found it was Tassament Grove (Fr), but locally called Tassinong.
- Early settlers found charred logs and debris of a structure.
- 1846, Harper, Unruh, Eaton, McCarthy, Rinker, and Wright established log cabins.
- 1840, the Post Office was established.
Based on this evidence, the brass historic marker was erected at Tassinong, commemorating the 200 year history.
- Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History; Civilization of the American Indian Series; Helen Hornbeck Tanner; Cartography by Miklos Pinther; University of Oklahoma Press; Norman, Oklahoma, 1986; Pg 134;
- Nouvelle Devourverte d’un Pays plus grands que l’Europe situé dans l’Amérique. Louis Hennepin (Franciscan Recollect) Pg 113 of Bartlett (1899)
- Wallace, Paul A. W. (1961; 2nd edition, 2007). Indians in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Diane Publishing Inc.
- Barr, Daniel P (2006). Unconquered: The Iroquois League at War in Colonial America. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98466-4.
- Jennings, Francis (1984). The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-01719-2.
- Archives des Colonies, Paris. Cited by W. V. Kinietz, The Indians of the Western Great Lakes, 1615-1760, 309
- Baker, J. David. 1976. The Postal History of Indiana, Volume 2. Louisville, Kentucky: Leonard H. Hartmann. 1,061 p. [see p. 1,035]
- Goodspeed, Weston A., and Charles Blanchard. 1882. Counties of Lake and Porter, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. Chicago, Illinois: F. A. Battey and Company. 177 pgs; Chapt 8, pg 188
- Ball, Timothy H.; Northwestern Indiana From 1800 to 1900: A View of Our Region Through the Nineteenth Century. Chicago, Illinois: Donohue & Henneberry; 1900; 570 p. [see p. 322–323]
- Plaque to Point Out Where Tassinong Once Flourished, The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Indiana; July 21, 1959 pg 4-5
- Town 33 Range 5, Jeremiah Smith, for Auditor of the State of Indiana, State of Indiana, 1875
- Town 34 Range 5, Jeremiah Smith, for Auditor of the State of Indiana, State of Indiana, 1875
- Maps of Indiana Counties in 1876, Reprinted from Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Indiana; Baskin, Forester & Co, Chicago, Illinois 1876; Indiana Historical Society 1968
- The Era of Tassements, or Stockaded Trading Posts, Hubert Skinner, Indiana Magazine of History, 1-12 (1915-16), Department of History, Indian University, Volume XI, Bloomington, Indiana; 1915, Page 272
- The Meaning of "Tassinong", Jacob P. Dunn, Indiana Magazine of History 1-12 (1915-16), Department of History, Indian University, Volume XI, Bloomington, Indiana; 1915, Page 348
- Tassinong and Kouts: Siftings: Gleaned from Hither and Yon . . . and Now and Then . . . and Way back When --; A.J. Bowser; The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Indiana;; Oct 2, 1934
- KOUTS HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY OF PLEASANT TOWNSHIP, As Compiled By History Class and Instructors For The Vidette-Messenger; The Vidette-Messenger Centennial Edition, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 3, Pages 13-14.
- Tassinong Was Important Site; The Stroller, The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Indiana; June 13, 1957