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Vigo County Courthouse in Terre Haute, Indiana
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History of Vigo County
of Negroes and Mullattos, 1853-1854
County is named in honor of Francis Vigo, an
Italian tradesman who was instrumental in the
capture of Fort Vincennes by George Rogers Clark,
and assistance both in financing Clark's
expedition and American Revolutionary War efforts,
and in service as an agent obtaining military
information for Clark against British campaigns on
the then frontier. Francis Vigo was of Italian
heritage but a citizen of Spain due to residence
in St. Louis.
Sullivan County was formed in 1817, and the area
that later became Vigo County was part of it until
1818, when the county was created by an act of the
Indiana General Assembly which took effect on
February 1, its borders changed several times; in
1821, part of the county was formed into Parke
County, and later that year Putnam County was
formed which also affected Vigo's borders. The
final change came in 1873 when the present
boundaries were defined.
The county is one of the best bellwether regions
for voting in the U.S. presidential elections; it
has voted for the winning candidate in every
election since 1956 and in all but two elections
Vigo County's first courthouse began construction
in 1818. In the meantime, the temporary courthouse
was the Eagle and Lion Tavern on the corner of
Wabash Avenue and Second Street. Early records
show that on May 13, 1818, Nathaniel P. Huntington
was allowed $10 for drawing up bonds; John M
Coleman $350 in part pay for building foundations;
William Durham $400 in part pay for building
walls, and Elihu Hovey and John Brocklebank $300
in part pay for building the Court House. In
November 1818, public records show that Charles B.
Modesitt was allowed $25 for "clearing off the
public square," indicating that the work of
building the Courthouse began in 1818, though the
structure was not completed until 1822.
The original structure was brick with a broad
arched transom and an interior with elevated box
seats and steps. A center aisle ran through the
center of the building, dividing the structure
into a south side dedicated to seating and a north
side for the express use of the court and room for
a judge's bench, lawyers' tables and a jury box.
The bottom floor of the courthouse was completed
in 1822 and quickly became the place for court
business, political gatherings, elections, public
town meetings, lectures, sermons, and more.
Sometime in 1834-35, Joseph Smith and Sidney
Rigdon held meetings there defending the fledgling
Latter Day Saints movement. In the 1850s, George
W. Julian delivered an Abolition speech in the
courthouse, where an angry mob gathered to prevent
him from speaking but eventually departed.
Numerous notable lawyers from the region began
their careers at the first Vigo County Courthouse,
including Thomas H. Blake, James Whitcomb, Elisha
Mills Huntington and Edward A. Hannegan.
On July 4, 1832, Colonel Francis Vigo, the
county's namesake, traveled from his home in
Vincennes, Indiana to visit Terre Haute and the
urging of some of its prominent citizens.
Impressed by the city, Vigo remembered the
courthouse in his will (dated Dec 9, 1834) by a
gift of $500 to Vigo County to be used "in the
purchase of a bell for the courthouse of said
county, on which will be inscribed 'Presented by
Fayette - Harrison - Honey Creek - Linton - Lost
Creek - Nevins - Otter Creek - Pierson - Prairie
Creek - Prairieton - Riley - Sugar Creek
CITIES AND TOWNS
Riley - Seelyville - Terre Haute - West Terre
County Seat: Terre Haute
Allendale - Burnett - Lewis
- Libertyville - New Goshen - Pimento -
Prarieton - Sandcut - Sandford - St. Mary's
Year Organized: 1818
Square Miles: 410.45
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Where to find information in Vigo County,
|Vigo County Public
One Library Square
Terre Haute, IN 47807
|Vigo County Health
171 Oak Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807
(birth & death certs)
|Vigo County Clerk
33 South Third Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807-8449
(marriage & court records)
|Wabash Valley Genealogy
P.O. Box 9347
Terre Haute, IN 47808-9347
|Vigo County Historical
1411 S 6th St
Terre Haute, IN 47802-1114
|Vigo County Recorder
Vigo County Annex Building, 199 Oak St
Terre Haute, IN 47807
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