The land on which the town of Rochester was built was purchased from the United States Government in 1831 by Hugh Allison. In 1834 he built a dam and hired a man by the name of Berry to build a Sawmill. In 1835 he sold the property to Simpson Cummins, who platted the town of Rochester. It was laid out on both sides of the Elkhart River, in Section 26, Township 35 North, Range 8 East, in November 1836. Fifty blocks and fractional blocks were surveyed on the river bank. Each full block comprised 8 lots, four lots being donated for School and Church purposes. The lots were immediately offered for sale and the Village grew rapidly. Several houses had been erected before the Village was laid out. Everywhere for miles around the talk was about Rochester, the beautiful location, the splendid water power and other natural advantages. A man by the name of Powell opened an excellent store in about 1837, at which time seven families lived there.
In l844 Baldwin & French commenced the erection of a Forge, for the manufacture of iron from ore found in Sections 16 and 17 in York Township. Baldwin soon after died, and the business failed for want of Capital. Henry French,the surviving partner, sold the lease of the water power to Warren F. Lee & Company of Fawn River, Michigan, who started the works and operated them several years, making a superior quality of iron. But the ore failed, and the business was of necessity abandoned. The manufacturing interest of the town drew a population in 1845 of over one hundred. It was, at this time, one of the largest and most enterprising towns in the County.
Alexander McConnell laid out an addition to Rochester in March 1845,and another in January 1848. He was for many years proprietor of the water power, and with his son, he erected a Flour mill. The same time James McConnell erected a 5aw-mill. Mr. McConnell died in 1854, and this event left matters in such a shape that the Railway Company could not get satisfactory tile, and the Depot (which had already been located there) was removed to Ligonier.This was the death-blow to Rochester and from that day its glory departed.