Indiana History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

An advanced mound-building culture (Mississippians) flourished in this area of ​​North America from AD 800 to the mid-15th century.

As a result of the mid-17th century French and Iroquoian wars in New France, much of North America, many indigenous Indian tribes were forced further west into the central Great Lakes region just to survive. Miami and Pottawatomie were in first place, followed by Delaware and the Shawnee countries.

In 1679, French explorer Robert de la Salle traveled through the Ohio River Valley region ; he claimed the lands of France; French fur traders soon took the risk and isolated trading posts were established.

Needing protection from the local Indians, the French built forts in the 1720s at Fort Wayne and Lafayette. Along the Wabash River in southwestern Indiana, Vincennes (trading post) became the first permanent settlement around 1732.

As the French expanded their control in the region, Jesuit (Catholic) priests soon followed. Their mission was to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, and although that task proved difficult, their efforts proved quite fruitful for the French, as the Indians became their valuable allies against expanding British influence.

This land, first claimed by France and now the object of Great Britain ‘s desire, was soon embroiled in the French and Indian War (1754-1763) as both European powers fought for complete control of North America. In the end, the British dealt heavy blows to the French and their Indian allies and they now controlled all the lands east of the Mississippi.

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During the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), George Rogers Clark, an experienced officer from the Colony of Virginia, led American forces in Indiana to fight the British and claim this land to America. After the war, the Indiana area became part of the expansive Northwest Territory of America in 1787.

In 1800 , the Indiana Territory, or Indian Land, was formed by an act of the American Congress. This included the lands that would later become the US state of Indiana, as well as Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. It was the first new territory formed from the lands of the Northwest Territory; its first governor, William Henry Harrison, would later become the 9th President of the United States of America.

When more settlers arrived in the south-reach territory, the local Indians were determined to make a final stand. Tecumseh, a Shawnee leader and warrior, rallied the Indian tribes to fight. After many harrowing defeats, including the 1811 major Battle of Tippecanoe, the Indians were all but crushed.

At the end of the War of 1812, the remaining British forces in America and the somewhat small Indian confederation led by Chief Tecumseh were firmly defeated; the settlers were now free to move in as the United States had firm control of the Indiana Territory.

Indiana Timeline

1600s – 1700s

(1614 – 1615), Samuel de Champlain, New Governor of France, explored the region of the Maumey River

(1671) Simon de Saint-Lucson claimed most of the province of France

(1679) René-Robert Cavelier de la Salle, Louis de Baud de Frontenac, planned control of the Maumey-Wabash trade route; the plans included the relocation of the Miami Indians to the headwaters of the Momi River

(1728 – 1732) Vincennes, established on the River Wabash by France, the first European settlement in the area

(1747) British staunch Huron Indian chief, King Nicholas, to attack French Fort Miami

(1752 – 1753) Smallpox epidemic devastated the local Indian population

(1754 – 1763) France and the Indian War

(1763) England gained control of Vincennes and Indiana area; A 1763 proclamation banned settlement west of the Appalachians; British sent Indian war parties to attack settlers who disobeyed the proclamation

(1772) General Gage ordered France to abandon the settlements in the Wabash Valley, claimed land deeds

(1774) British Parliament passed the Quebec Act, French settlements, including Indiana, were incorporated into the province of Quebec

(1775 – 1783) War of Independence

(1777) British Indians encouraged to attack the settlers by George Rogers Clark

(1778) Colonel George Rogers Clark’s expedition captured Fort Sackville at Vincennes; Indiana became part of Virginia; British governor Henry Hamilton overtook Fort Sackville

(1779) British at Fort Sackville surrendered to Colonel George Rogers Clark, his expedition and Francis Vigo

(1783) Treaty of Paris gave modern Indiana lands to the United States

(1787) Continental Congress created the Northwest Territory; territory to be governed by a governor, three judges; laws banned slavery, encouraged public education, guaranteed religious freedom and civil rights

(1794) Anthony Wayne crushed the Shawnee Indians, led by Tecumseh, in a battle near the rapids of the Momi River; Anthony Wayne established a fort named Fort Wayne


(1800) Indiana Territory established from Northwest Territory; William Henry Harrison first governor; Vincennes named capital

(1803) Indians signed agreements ceding land in Indiana

(1805) Michigan Territory separated from Indiana Territory

(1809) Illinois Territory seceded from Indiana Territory

(1811) Chief Tecumseh and Indians defeated at the Battle of Tippecanoe

(1812 – 1814) war of 1812

(1813) Chief Tecumseh killed at the Battle of Thames; capital of Indiana Territory moved towards Corydon

(1814) Treaty of Ghent ended the war of 1812

(1816) Indiana became the 19th American state; Jonathan Jennings first governor; Abraham Lincoln and family moved to Indiana

(1818) Indians cast claims for part of central Indiana, “New Purchase”

(1825) State capital moved to Indianapolis

(1835) Wabash and Erie Canal opened from Fort Wayne to Huntington

(1842) University of Notre Dame founded

(1851) State Council passed, included property rights protection measures for married women

(1861 – 1865) civil war

(1889) Standard Oil Co. built a refinery in Mela

(1897) Tribal status of Miami Indians was ending


  • (1906) American Iron and Steel Company built mill, founded by Gary
  • (1908) Serial killer, Bell Gunns, died in a fire on her farm in LaPorte
  • (1911) First Indy 500 car race occurred
  • (1915) Workers’ Compensation Act enacted
  • (1925) Tri-state tornado hit Indiana, Illinois, Missouri; many dead
  • (1930) Mob broke into Marion prison, beat two young black men to death, hung them from a tree
  • (1937) Ohio River flooded causing severe damage in southern Indiana
  • (1956) Indiana Northern Tollway completed
  • (1963) Studebaker Automobile Corporation ceased auto production at the South Bend plant
  • (1974) Series 148 tornadoes hit Midwest and Southern states (including Indiana); many killed by severe property damage
  • (1980) Indianapolis businessman, Herbert Baumeister, killed 16 men, the most homosexual
  • (1984) NFL Colts Baltimore moved to Indianapolis
  • (1985) AIDS patient Ryan White banned from public school
  • (1987) Air Force plane crashes into Ramada Inn near Indianapolis Airport, ten killed
  • (1988) Indianian J. Danforth Quayle elected U.S. Vice President
  • (1998) Explosion at Southern Energy Co. killed 16 in Hammond
  • (1999) Lilly Endowment Inc. presented a $50 million grant to the Latin American Scholarship Fund


  • (2001) City President Cicero, nine others, accused of stealing $10 million in monies of taxpayer; Oklahoma City terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, executed at federal penitentiary in Terre Haute
  • (2003) Governor Frank O’Bannon suffered a massive stroke, died
  • (2004) Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts broke Dan Marino’s pass record
  • (2005) School measles outbreak; tornado hit Evansville, 22 killed, 200 injured
  • (2007) Indianapolis Colts win Super Bowl XLI
  • (2010) Eight teenagers shot at an ice rink during a concert in Gary
  • (2011) Five people killed, more than 40 injured in stage collapse at Indiana State Fair
  • (2012) A series of violent storms and tornadoes left 13 dead, devastated Marysville towns

Indiana History