Genealogy Trails

Gibson County Indiana



Princeton (the county seat)
The seat of justice was located at the February (1814) term of the Common Pleas Court, which court ordered that the seat of justice should be known as Princeton. It is located nearly in the geographical center of the county, and is at the junction of the Evansville and Terre Haute railway and the Louisville, Evansville and St. Louis railway.
The town was surveyed and the plat was recorded March 28, 1814, but owing to a mistake a new survey was made the following year. The name of the town was decided upon by the commiissioners, who cast lots among themselves for the privilege of naming it. Capt. William Prince was the fortunate one in the contest, and hence the name Princeton.
The first merchant of Princeton was Willis C. Osborn. who located here in the latter part of 1814. In the same year Robert Stockwell became a merchant of the town. and was for many years the leading merchant of the place. A postoffice was early established and John J. Neely, a prominent man in the early history ad the county, became the first postmaster. The town had a steady growth and enjoyed for several years the largest mercantile trade of any town for many miles eastward. The place did not have a newspaper until 1845. when John F. Bunton brought an outfit here and established the Princeton Chronicle, which was the first newspaper printed in the county. The town now (1896)has two daily and four weekly newspapers.
Princeton has good schools, ten well supported churches, a public library of 6.000 volumes, water works, electric light plant, the Air Line railroad shops, one of the largest saw mill and lumber yards in the State. several other industrial enterprises, many well stocked and managed mercantile establishments, and now (1896) has a population of about 7.000. Its population has doubled during the last five or six years.
The Maule coal mine was recently opened. and thereby another very important industry added. The people of this thrifty town are not plodders. but enterprising, intelligent and progressive.
Source E.W. Peattie 1896

Oakland City

OAKLAND CITY. the second largest and commercial town in Gibson county, is situated on a beautiful elevation, and commands an extensive view of the surrounding country, and located in the center of a rich agriculturally district. It has excellent railway facilities, as the Louisville, Evansville & St. Louis, and the Evansville & Indianapolis form a junction here, giving an outlet to the north, south cast and west. With these advantages the town has had a prosperous growth and has developed into a first-class town of nearly 2,000 population. Its population in 1896 was 1,524.
One of the first settlers here was Jesse Houchins. The Hargroves, Cockrums, Barretts and others have been prominently identified with the history of the place from an early day. The town was laid out by James W. Cockrum and Warrick Hargrove, in 1856. The first physician to locate here was Dr. William R. Leister. In 1871 the Independent, the first newspaper, was established. The place now has two newspapers, the Enterprise and the Journal. Oakland City has always been an educational center. She has maintained good public schools, and at present has a splendid academical institution. The town is enterprising and progressive, and a pleasant resident town.
Source E.W. Peattie 1896


The Beginning of Buckskin.
In the early days of Gibson county a road was opened from Boonville in Warrick county to Princeton in Gibson county. As there were but few farms cleared between the two places, this road was built the shortest route regardless of the land lines. It was cut through the woods nearly all the way and was used as the stage line between the two towns. The great, awkward stage coach lumbered back and forth and all the traveling men going from one of these towns to the other took passage in this coach. It also carried the mail. Now along this road lived several men who made their living hunting game, and all the deer hides or other pelts they had to sell were sent to Boonville or Princeton and as these hunters never knew just when the stage would pass their locality, they would take their skins to the roadside and put their mark on them and hang them up in some conspicuous place When the stage came along the driver would gather up the hides he thus found and deliver them to the merchants in one or the other of said towns who knew the marks and would give the hunter to whom they belonged proper credit for them. Thus the travelers in the stage coach would see the driver stop every mile or two and gather up the deer skins which he found hanging up by the roadside. Soon this route became known as the Buckskin road. This name became general throughout the whole country and for many years remained unchanged, until the farmers along the route began to straighten the road and put it on the lines. This road left the old State road at the Young place, just south of Princeton, and ran in a southeasterly direction. It passed just south of the poor farm to Port Gibson and from there on to Lynnville. in Warrick county. and from there almost due south to Boonville. For many years this was the main route to all this country between Boonville and Princeton. and along this line the early settlers clustered and small business places sprang up along the road, such as cooper shops, blacksmith shops and other industries.
Along in the early fifties there came a young German from Evansville by the name of Emil Sasse, and started a small store on this road. near the eastern line of Gibson county. His business at first was a kind of settlers canteen, with a few groceries, powder, lead and other small wares. He also secured a post office and named it "Buckskin." after the road on which it was located. His business was prosperous from the start. It was fifteen or twenty miles to any other point where people could trade and he did a good business. His brother, Theodore. was in business in Evansville and soon sold out and joined Emil at Buckskin. They increased their stock and built a larger store. Trade rushed in and people came for ten miles in every direction, and the Sasses were the busiest men in the whole country. Emil Sasse was twice elected treasurer of Gibson county. After the closing out of the Sasse store at Buckskin the Evansville & Indianapolis railroad was built. It ran about a mile east of old Buckskin. A new town was laid out on this railroad and Herman Buskuhl opened a store and secured the post office and still continued the town of Buckskin. But Buckskin never has and perhaps never will enjoy such prosperity as it did in the palmy days of the Sasses.
History of Gibson County by Gil Stormont
Transcribed by J. M. Kell

Fort Branch

FORT BRANCH is a prosperous town of perhaps one thousand people. In 1890 the population of the place was 748. It is located on the Evansville & Terre Haute railroad. and is the northern terminal of the Mt. Vernon branch of this road. The town is pleasantly situated in the midst of one of the richest agricultural districts of the county. In 1852 the railroad was built through here, and a station located, and called La Grange. in honor of Aaron La Grange, who owned the land. and the postoffice was removed from Little York. which was about one mile north of the station on the state road. There being a La Grange in the northern part of the state, the name here must be changed. The name Fort Branch was selected in order to perpetuate the name of the old fort built here by the pioneers as a means of protection against the Indians. The town has had a steady growth and at present does a large volume of business. A bank was recently established and one good flouring mill and elevator is operated here, and three papers are issued here. Good schools and several churches indicate the progressiveness of the people. it is an incorporated town, and its people are law-abiding citizens.
Source E.W. Peattie 1896

FRANCISCO was platted and laid out in January. 1851. by John Perkins. It is on the line of the old Wabash & Erie canal. and during the time that canal was in operation the town was very flourishing. It is now on the Louisville, Evansville & St. Louis railroad, and is a thrifty little village of about 500 people.
Source E.W. Peattie 1896
HAUBSTADT. formerly known as Haub's Station. an old stage station on the state road, is located on the E. & T. H. R. R. and nearly in the center of Johnson township. The town was laid out in 1855, by James H. Oliver. The place is peopled by a thrifty and enterprising class of German citizens. In 1877 the Roman Catholics built here a handsome church edifice. The public schools are well maintained. The town contains a population of about 600.
Source E.W. Peattie 1896
HAZLETON has a population of about 850. and is situated on the south bank of White River and on the Evansville & Terre Haute railroad. The town was laid out by Gervas Hazleton, from whom it takes its name. The second settlement made in the county was made here.
Source E.W. Peattie 1896
OWENSVILLE was laid out in 1817, and named in honor of Thomas Owens of Kentucky. The town is situated on the branch of the Evansville & Terre Haute railroad. which runs from Fort Branch to Mt. Vernon. The surrounding country is one of the richest agricultural districts in the state.. The leading and most important business man in the early history of the town was John C. Warrick. son of Capt. Jacob Warrick. The town has never had a phenomenal growth. but a steady one. June 20, 1876. the whole solid front of stone buildings. on the east side of the square, except the northeast corner brick, was swept away by fire, with a loss of about $40,000. The town was incorporated in 1881, has one bank. one weekly newspaper and one religious journal devoted to the Baptist church. The place is peopled by an intelligent and enterprising class of citizens. In 1890 it had a population of 759: it has grown but little since then.
Source E.W. Peattie 1896
PATOKA is situated on the north bank of Patoka river, from which it derives its name. and on the Evansville & Terre Haute railroad. Patoka is an Indian name and signifies "log on the bottom," and was applied to the river on account of so many logs having settled to the bottom and there sticking fast in the slimy mud. This town was first known as Smithfield. then Columbia. and was platted and recorded as such in the fall of 1813. It is the oldest town in Gibson county, and the name Patoka was given it in order to avoid having two post offices in the state by the name of Columbia. In 1890 it had a population of 729; there are now about 1,000 people domiciled here.
Source E.W. Peattie 1896

Unincorporated Communities

DONGOLA is situated on the south bank of the Patoka River. The proprietors were William Carpenter and Isaac Street. They laid out the town in March, 1851, on Sections 31, Township 1, Range 8, and Section 6, Township 2, Range 8. It was here that the old Wabash &Erie Canal and state road crossed the Patoka River. Dongola was laid out with broad streets ranging from seventyfour to seventy-six feet wide. About in the center of the town south of the river was laid out a public square. The names of the principal streets were Columbia, Locust, Cherry, Canal, Walnut, Main and Mulberry. For a while this place bid fair to become a flourishing town. Several business houses were established here, and for a few years considerable pork packing was done. After the canal ceased to operate the town gradually died, and at present the only business is a saw-mill operated by Ferdinand Knier.
BY JAS. T. TARTT & CO. (1884)
(Transcribed by J.M. Kell)
Lyles Station