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Leaving a Legacy

The Baron von Steuben Society


The purpose of the Society is to identify and thank those who, as part of their estate planning, have made bequests naming the Community Foundation. To honor this example, the Steuben County Community Foundation established the "Baron von Steuben Society." Society members are those making a personal imprint and a lasting legacy in our community.


Baron Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben

Steuben County, Indiana, was named after Revolutionary War hero Baron von Steuben. Baron von Steuben was born in Europe in 1730 to a Prussian army lieutenant and his wife. Von Steuben was an officer in the Prussian army, serving as a member of the General Staff and eventually assigned to Frederick the Greats' Headquarters. His experiences as a General Staff member in the Prussian Army gave him a wealth of knowledge. His training would eventually bring to the American soldiers the technical knowledge necessary to create an army.


In 1777 he was introduced by a letter from Benjamin Franklin to General George Washington. Congress accepted Baron von Steuben's offer to volunteer his services to the fledgling republic. In February of 1778 he reported to duty with General Washington at Valley Forge. Von Steuben set up a training program for the soldiers which found approval with the Commander-in-Chief in March. Von Steuben's system of training and his standards of sanitation and camp layouts would serve as a standard for a century and a half. General Washington recommended and the Congress approved the appointment of Baron von Steuben as the Inspector General.


Baron von Steuben aided General Washington throughout the war and helped in demobilizing the army in 1783 and with the defense plan of the new nation. In 1784 he became an American citizen. He established residency in New York State where he became a very prominent figure. He died a bachelor in 1794.


The Baron von Steuben Society Plaque hanging at the Steuben County Community Foundation.