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Porter County Jewish History In 1836, Porter County was formed, including the territory now comprising both Porter and Lake Counties. French explorers, traders, and missionaries were the first Europeans to visit and live in the area with the Native Americans. In 1822, the first permanent white settler was Joseph Bailly. Valparaiso, the county seat, was originally platted as Porterville in 1836. Pennsylvania Railroad reached as far west as 1858 and many of the public buildings of the square were constructed in 1850.