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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Historic Preservation & Archaeology > Learn About Topics > Cultures > Jewish Heritage Initiative > Jefferson DHPA Jewish Historical Resources

Jefferson County MapJefferson County

Madison, Indiana sits on the Ohio River. It served as one of the important cities in the early development of Indiana. Its location on the river made it one of the central shipping locations in the state. One of the largest commodities trade were pigs, earning Madison the dubious title of “Porkopolis.”1 Despite this fact, Madison became a place for settlement by Jews.

One of the first families to arrive was Elias and Teresa Hilpp in 1847. They had lived in New Orleans and Louisville before settling in Madison. Also in that year, Aaron Marks from German settled in Madison. He worked as a peddler before coming to Madison, so when he arrived he had enough money to open a store. In 1849, a marriage between Ernestine Wehle and Max Abeles was performed in Madison, possibly the first Jewish marriage officiated by a Rabbi.