NWIGS Pioneer Heritage Circle

The Pioneer Heritage Circle is sponsored by the Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society (NWIGS). NWIGS will approve membership in the Pioneer Heritage Circle to direct descendants of the early residents of Lake County or Porter County, Indiana, in three categories. By creating the Pioneer Heritage Circle, NWIGS hopes to encourage the preservation of Lake and Porter Counties’ family history through proven lineage of the early settlers’ descendants. NWIGS will preserve the documentation submitted for the Pioneer Heritage Circle certificates and make the documentation available to other family history researchers. Recognition of membership in the Pioneer Heritage Circle will be provided in the NWIGS newsletter TWIGS and on the Society’s website. A certificate, suitable for framing, will be issued to the individual submitting the application. It is the hope of NWIGS that this certificate will be a source of pride for you and your family. You may request additional certificates for your children or grandchildren in their name(s). To qualify for membership in the NWIGS Pioneer Heritage Circle, your direct ancestor must have settled in Lake or Porter County, Indiana, during one of the following time frames:

Applicants may apply for membership with as many ancestors as they wish, in as many categories as they wish. Applicants do not need to be members of NWIGS to apply. Any application in need of corrections or additions will be returned to the applicant with instructions for completion. Applications will be subject to approval of the Pioneer Heritage Circle Coordinator. All application materials and proofs become the property of NWIGS

APPLICATION PROCEDURE [Adobe Acrobat pdf version available here]

  1. Applicants must complete application in black ink, typewritten, or computer generated in black ink.
  2. Submit a pedigree chart that starts with yourself and ends with your pioneer ancestor. The pedigree chart should be typewritten or computer generated, if possible.
  3. Provide proof of residence for ancestor for the designated time period.
  4. Provide proof of direct blood descent from pioneer to applicant. Applicants are encouraged to include proofs for all information submitted on the application, but are required only to show blood descent.
  5. Label each piece of documentation on the back in the upper left hand corner with applicant’s name, name of ancestor(s) and generation(s) for which the document applies. Generation 1 is the applicant.
  6. Put documentation in order, from generation 1 to that of the pioneer ancestor.
  7. Number each piece of documentation sequentially and record the total number of documents submitted on the application. Do not staple, clip, or bind the documents together.
  8. All proofs must include complete source citation (i.e., book, page, volume, location of original documentation, etc.). This may be printed on back of each proof.
  9. Do NOT send original documents in your application packet. Copies are acceptable, but must be legible.


A $15 ($20 for non-members) non-refundable fee is required with each application. A $20 ($25 for non-members) non-refundable fee is required for each application for ancestor and a separate certificate for the ancestor’s spouse when application is made for both ancestors at the same time. Additional certificates for applicant’s parents, siblings or children may be obtained for $3.00 each, but must also be submitted with proof of relationship to applicant. Check or money order should be made payable to NWIGS. Send completed application, pedigree chart and proofs with the fee, and monies for any additional certificates, to:

NWIGS Pioneer Heritage Circle
PO Box 595
Griffith, IN 46319


April 18, 2015

                            New Members of the Pioneer Heritage Circle

At the April 18, 2015 meeting, Laurie Kender, Chair of the Pioneer Heritage Circle, presented Bruce Rhein with certificates for himself, as well as for his brothers, Hugh Rhein and Wayne Rhein. Their 2X-great-grandparents, John and Margarethe (Schmal) Rhein, werre reconized at Pioneer level for Lake County, Indiana, having resided there prior to 1851.

German immigrants, John Rhein arrived in America in 1836, and Margarethe Schmal came with her family two years later, in 1838. They were married in Lake County in 1839, John becoming a naturalized citizen in Crown Point in 1847. John and Margarethe purchased land north of Cedar Lake the year they were married and expanded their farm through several purchases in 1852-3. They remained in the county for the rest of their lives, farming their land and raising their many children, true pioneers of Lake County.