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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

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

Allen County MapAllen County

Fort Wayne, the county seat of Allen County developed from a fort founded in 1794 fort. Early pioneers were attracted to Fort Wayne by the profitable fur trade. The first known Jewish man in the area was John Jacob Hays, who moved to Cahokia on the Mississippi in 1793 and was appointed an Indian agent at Fort Wayne.

Construction of the Wabash & Erie Canal in the 1830s fostered further commercial possibilities and caused a great influx of immigrants to the growing community. Jewish immigrants from Germany began arriving in Fort Wayne in the 1830s. Although no Jews are listed in the 1840 census, Sigmund Redelsheimer had arrived the year before and soon established a general store on Columbia Street in partnership with Abraham Oppenheimer. Redelsheimer would help found the first congregation. In 1844, Isaac Lauferty arrived to establish a clothing store, and later a private bank. In 1875, the city directory lists Lauferty as a banker and broker.

Congregation Acduth Vesholom
Congregation Acduth Vesholom

Congregation Acduth Vesholom - Scroll
Congregation Acduth Vesholom - Scroll