A lot of folks, even some longtime Elkhart residents, don’t realize that there was actually a village, of sorts, here before the town of Elkhart was even thought of. When Dr. Havilah Beardsley arrived on horseback on his way to Chicago from Ohio, he found the village of Pulaski, here on the north bank of the St. Joseph River.
The settlement had been established only a couple of years before Beardsley’s arrival, and it consisted of a post office and trading post situated along the Fort Wayne Road. The road was originally an indian trail that forded the river here where it’s shallow, and continued on to near Niles, Michigan. In addtion to the post office, Pulaski had a few settlers -- essentially squatters who had come here -- along with a grist mill on Christiana Creek, but not much more.
Beardsley recognized the business potential of the water power from the creek and the two rivers, the Elkhart and St. Joseph that all came together here. When he returned later, he immediately began developing his own ventures, establishing the Village of Elkhart on the south side of the river in 1832.
Even so, the post office was still designated for Pulaski until 1839 when it was finally renamed for Elkhart. Pulaski Park and a marker for the original village stand at the site today -- small reminders of the settlement that came first in this area.