How did Columbus, Indiana get its name?

How did Columbus, Indiana get its name?

Columbus, Indiana, a small city located in Bartholomew County, has a population of around 46,000 people. The city is known for its unique architecture and public art. However, many people may wonder how Columbus got its name. In this article, we will explore the history of Columbus, Indiana, and the origins of its name.

Early History of Columbus, Indiana

Before European settlement, the area that is now Columbus, Indiana was home to Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and the Miami. In 1803, the United States purchased the land from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The area was then surveyed in 1806, and the first settlers arrived in the 1820s. By the 1840s, the town was a hub for transportation and trade, thanks to its location near the White River.

The City's Name

The city of Columbus, Indiana was officially founded in 1821 and was originally named Tiptonia, after John Tipton, a prominent political figure of the time. However, the town’s name was changed in 1822 to Columbus, after Christopher Columbus, the famous Italian explorer. There are several theories about why the town was named after Columbus.

Theory 1: Political Pressure

One theory is that the town's name change was the result of political pressure from the Indiana legislature. At the time, the legislature was seeking to honor Christopher Columbus, and many towns and cities in Indiana changed their names to reflect this. Therefore, it is possible that the town's name was changed to Columbus in response to this political pressure.

Theory 2: The Founder’s Name

Another theory is that the town was named after its founder, General John Tipton’s son-in-law, Colonel David C. Graham. Graham had a son named Christopher, and it is possible that the town was named after him as a tribute to Graham's family.

Theory 3: The City’s Growth and Expansion

A third theory is that the name change was part of the city's growth and expansion. At the time, the town was rapidly expanding, and the residents may have wanted a name that reflected their hopes and dreams for the future. Columbus, as the discoverer of the New World, represented exploration and discovery, which may have appealed to the town's residents.

Regardless of the reason for the name change, Columbus, Indiana continued to grow and thrive. By the 1890s, the city had become a center for industry and manufacturing, with companies like the Cummins Engine Company and the Arvin Industries calling Columbus home.


Columbus, Indiana is a city with a rich history and a unique name. Whether the town was named after Christopher Columbus, Colonel David C. Graham’s son, or as a reflection of the city's growth and expansion, it has become a beloved home for thousands of residents. Today, the city is known for its architecture, public art, and strong community.