The first Germans settled along Walnut Creek in the 1840s. Beginning in the 1850s, German-Catholic settlers from Wurges, Germany – led by Philip Goertz – arrived in the area. The first Catholic church was built in 1876, but it was destroyed by arson in 1891. In 1900, the town got its first post office and took the name Lehmanville. In 1931, the children of the Sacred Heart School were tasked with renaming the town. Rockne was chosen in honor of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne, who had recently died in a plane crash.
Step back in time at Pioneer Village, where visitors can walk through replica log cabins of early German settlers like Goertz and John T. Lehman. For more general history about Rockne, visit the Rockne Museum.