Gibson Country

Gibson County is a county in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Indiana. As of the 2020 United States Census, the population was 33,011. The county seat is Princeton.

In 1787, the fledgling United States defined the Northwest Territory, which included the area of present-day Indiana. In 1800, Congress separated Ohio from the Northwest Territory, designating the rest of the land as the Indiana Territory. President Thomas Jefferson chose William Henry Harrison as the territory’s first governor, and Vincennes was established as the territorial capital.[4] After the Michigan Territory was separated and the Illinois Territory was formed, Indiana was reduced to its current size and geography. By December 1816 the Indiana Territory was admitted to the Union as a state.

Starting in 1794, Native American titles to Indiana lands were extinguished by usurpation, purchase, or war and treaty. The United States acquired land from the Native Americans in the 1804 Treaty of Vincennes, which included the future Gibson County. Settlers had been pouring into the extreme southwest part of the Indiana Territory starting in 1789, and by 1813 there was sufficient to form a local governing body. The area included in present-day Gibson County had been first placed under the jurisdiction of Knox County, formed in 1790. Parts of that extremely large county were partitioned off in 1801 to create Clark, in 1808 to create Harrison, in 1810 to create Jefferson and Wayne, and in 1811 to create Franklin counties. On 1 April 1813 the Territorial legislature authorized partitioning a further large section of Knox to create Gibson County. The boundaries of this new county were reduced that same month (30 April 1813) to create Warrick; in 1814 to create Perry and Posey; in 1816 to create Pike; and finally in 1818 to create Vanderburgh counties.

The first white settler of the future Gibson County was John Severns, a native of Wales who had come with his parents to North America several years before the Revolutionary War. He settled in Gibson County in 1789–90 on the south bank of the Patoka River at a place now known as Severns Bridge. Another early Gibson County settler was William Hargrove, who came from Kentucky by pack mule in 1803; Captain Hargrove commanded a company of militia from Gibson County at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.

Indiana Map of Counties on April 1, 1813.
The Rev. Joseph Milburn and his son Robert also arrived in 1803. They settled near Princeton, between the Patoka and White Rivers. The Milburns were from the area of Washington County, Kentucky. Rev. Milburn, a Baptist, established the first church; Robert established the first distillery in Indiana.In 1805, Jacob Warrick arrived, along with his father-in-law, Thomas Montgomery. They burned out the last Native American village in 1807, chasing the inhabitants into the Illinois Territory. Captain Warrick was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.

Gibson County was named for John Gibson, an officer in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.Gibson was Secretary of the Indiana Territory, serving as acting Governor on two occasions. The two counties of Gibson County and Warrick County, separated by Rector’s Base Line, were formed March 9, 1813. Gibson County was organized on April 1, 1813, while Warrick County was organized on April 30, meaning that both territories fell under Gibson County for that nearly two-month period. Gibson County occupied everything from the Wabash River and from the White River’s extension to the Paoli Base Line down the 2d Principal Meridian to the Rector’s Base Line. The area south of this line became Warrick County, which covered the area from the 2d Principal Meridian west to the Wabash River and down the Wabash River and with meanders up the Ohio River back to the 2d Principal Meridian (which had separated Knox County from Harrison County, Indiana Territory). Orange County, Spencer County, Pike County, Dubois County, and Crawford County all came from the roughly 2,000-square-mile (5,200 km2) area occupied by the original Gibson County, as well as small portions of Lawrence County, Perry County, Posey County, the current Warrick County, and Vanderburgh County.

When the county was organized, Patoka was intended to be the county seat. However, Patoka’s low-lying location along the Patoka River gave rise to a malaria epidemic; to avoid this, the commissioners chose to establish a new town, eventually known as Princeton, on higher ground approximately 4 miles (6 km) south. However, although Princeton contends it was the only county seat, some contend county records indicate Owensville was a temporary county seat since Princeton was not laid out until late 1814, at least a year after Gibson County’s organization.

 

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