The name Indiana means "Land of the Indians". For untold centuries, some say millennia, the Indians moved across the land. It was their hunting ground. Permanent Indian settlements in Indiana were to the north and to the south. And then the white man came, and the Indian way of life would change forever as two cultures clashed and shattered.
Indiana was part of the great Northwest Territory, stretching west to the Mississippi River, first claimed by England, then by the U.S. Continental Congress following the Revolutionary War of 1776. The state of Indiana became a part of the Union on April 19, 1816. The land we call Indiana was covered with virgin forest from the Ohio River to the shores of Lake Michigan. On April 1, 1822, Putnam County was created by Act of the Indiana Legislature.
On September 27, 1823, Ephraim and Rebecca Dukes gave 70 acres of land located on a hill overlooking Walnut Creek, with the provision that the county seat be located in Greencastle. A further gift of 80 acres by Dukes' daughter, Elisabeth, and her husband, John Wesley Clark, was made on June 7, 1825. The original Greencastle site was comprised of 150 acres. With these two gifts, the town of Greencastle was defined.
Ephraim Dukes, a successful early land developer, was born in 1760 in northern Maryland. He married Rebecca Miller of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. It is believed that the city of Greencastle was named in remembrance of her childhood home. It was from Kentucky and Ohio that the Dukes moved to the new county of Putnam in Indiana in 1821. Here, Ephraim Dukes became active in civic affairs, and a street was named for him. This street was later renamed College Avenue. In 1837 the Methodist Church had established Indiana Asbury University (now KePauw University) in Greencastle.
Ephraim and Rebecca Dukes are recognized as the founders of Greencastle. In late 1822, they built a log cabin on the corner of what is now Washington Street and College Avenue.
In 1835 the Dukes, of the generous hearts, moved to the LaPorte area in northern Indiana. Dukes died there in 1839 at the age of 79, leaving a sizeable estate. Rebecca died soon after him. As our pioneer ancestors moved ever westward across this land, the story of Ephraim and Rebecca Dukes is the proud story of a new nation pushing its boundaries from "sea to shining sea". It is the story of America.
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Nancy Michael, Mayor
May 12, 2001