Location and Size
Boone County occupies a central position in the great State of Indiana. It is bounded on the north by Clinton County, on the east by Hamilton County, on the west by Montgomery County, and on the south by Marion and Hendricks Counties. It is 24 miles from east to west and 17.5 miles from north to south, and contains about 268,800 acres. Boone County is divided into 12 civil townships as follows: Center, Clinton, Eagle, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Marion, Perry, Sugar Creek, Union, Washington, and Worth.
Name and Organization
Boone County was named in honor of Daniel Boone, the noted Kentucky hunter and pioneer. The county was organized on April 1, 1830, when there were only 622 citizens in the county. Lebanon was chosen as the name of the county seat.
Boone County was first settled by its first white inhabitants in or around 1822. Its central position, excellent soil, water power, and other advantages, natural and improved, ranked it as one of the first counties of the state. A remnant of the Miami Indians occupied the northwest corner of the county by stipulation from the US Government until 1828. Here they had lived, hunted, and traded for years, but about the year 1834 their fires went out and their songs were heard no more. This reserve or territory embraced all of Sugar Creek Township, two-thirds of Washington Township, nearly one-half of Jefferson Township, and five sections of Center Township, or about 64,000 acres. The first pioneers in 1822 - 1824 found unbroken wilderness, no roads, no mills, deep-tangled brush and vines, and a good portion of the land covered with water. The water flows in almost every direction in Boone County, and it is the dividing summit of White River and the Wabash River. The principal streams in the county are Sugar Creek, Eel River, Big and Little Eagle Creeks, Prairie Creek, Brown’s Wonder, Mud Creek, Raccoon, Fishback, Mounts Run, and Spring Branch. Nearly all of these at one time afforded propelling power for mills and machinery, etc. for the citizens.
Three of the five new commissioners appointed by the Governor met about the first of May 1831 to locate the center (within two miles) of the county for the purpose of establishing the county seat. After prospecting various sites near the center of the county, they finally came upon the tract of land where Lebanon now sits. This tract of land was owned by two prominent Indianapolis men, General James Perry Drake and Colonel George L. Kinnard. Their military titles were derived from their service in the Indiana Militia. Both men, in addition to being progressive community builders, were shrewd developers and speculators.
Drake and Kinnard learned early of the planned organization of Boone County and purchased three tracts of land near the geographic center of the new county. The two men knew that this location would be the most likely site for the new county seat and, therefore, would develop as a town. According to Federal Land Office records in Crawfordsville, Drake and Kinnard applied for deeds to the land on March 1, 1830. It is believed that the purchase price was $1.25 per acre, which was the going rate for property in the area.
The honor of naming the town fell on Adam French, one of the new commissioners. Because a cluster of tall trees reminded him of the “the tall cedars of Lebanon” in the Bible and of sacred history, French shouted to a group of onlookers, “the name of this town shall be Lebanon”.
Prior to Lebanon becoming the County Seat, the first courts were held in Jamestown, which remained the seat of justice until the move to Lebanon. An act of the State Legislature on January 21, 1832, provided for the commissioners to relocate the County Seat to Lebanon. In addition, to ensure that their property would be selected as the county seat, Drake and Kinnard donated every third lot, the town square, and forty acres of additional land to the county. They also furnished at no cost the bricks and shingles for the original courthouse. The County Commissioners readily agreed to this bargain.
The original plat of Lebanon consisted of over 19 blocks surrounding the public square. In 1832, Abner H. Longley was the first settler to locate in Lebanon and he erected a one-bedroom log cabin on Lot No. 1 block No. 16, which is located at the southwest corner of West Main St. and South Lebanon St. By 1849, Lebanon contained 80 dwelling houses – 4 of brick and 76 framed, with a population of 500.
Thorntown sits on historic ground. It was here that the first settlement in the area took place by the first white settlers and pioneers. But before they arrived, the area was inhabited by American Indians and the French traders and trappers for nearly a hundred years prior. As the Indians retreated, a few hardy pioneers made their way to the area and established a settlement as early as 1827 in the vicinity of the current town. In 1831, the town was surveyed and platted by Cornelius Westfall. As far back as 1719, there was an established French and Indian trading post at this point on Sugar Creek. The first church (Presbyterian) was organized in 1831 with Clayborn Young as its minister. The first school house was built in 1834 and was undoubtedly the first school house in the county.
Jamestown is located near the south line of Jackson Township, which is also the county line adjoining Hendricks County, the old Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railroad (built in or around 1870), the State Road leading from Indianapolis to Crawfordsville, and on the west bank of the Eel River. It sits about twelve miles southwest of Lebanon. The first settlers made their way here in 1826 -1827. The town was laid out in or about 1832 by James Mallock and John Gibson. By 1849, the town contained about 30 houses and had a population of 150. By 1870, the town had expanded to about 1,100 citizens. The town suffered from three different fires, the first being September 5, 1876, the second being November 10, 1880, and the third being on September 11, 1883. All 3 fires caused significant damage; however, the community fought back and rebuilt the area. During the 1800s, Jamestown had several hotels, livery stables, and saw mills that produced significant amounts of finished walnut lumber.
Zionsville dates back only to 1852 and established itself on the completion of the old Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette Railroad. It was laid out on the land of Elijah Cross, just below and west of the where Big and Little Eagle Creeks unite. The original plat of the town was laid out in 1852 by William Zion and Elijah Cross and consisted of nine blocks, containing 81 lots. The name “Zionsville” was given to the town in honor of William Zion of Lebanon, who was the principal founder. It lays fourteen miles north of Indianapolis on the Indiana and Michigan thoroughfare. An excellent school house was built in Zionsville about the year of 1860 and was considered one of the finest in the county. By 1887, the town had prospered, gaining in strength and accumulating a population of 1,100 citizens.
Whitestown is located in Worth Township on the old Indianapolis, Cincinnati & Lafayette Railroad. It lies about seven miles southeast of Lebanon and about the same distance northwest of Zionsville. Whitestown was laid out in the year 1851 or about the time the railroad was built in the area. The first plat was on the land of Abram Nese. The area was surrounded by some of the best agricultural ground in the county. Whitestown sported a new grist mill in 1886, owned by Riley & Vaughn, and sold some of the best flour in the state.
The County Courthouse
The present Courthouse, which was completed and dedicated July 4, 1912, is built of Bedford limestone and one of the features is the dome, which is the second in size in the state, being fifty feet in diameter. The north and south entrances are each adorned by four columns that are 35 feet 3 inches in length, 52 inches in diameter at the base and 48 inches at the tip. In 1915, these columns were said to be the largest one-piece columns in the United States.
Other Interesting Facts
According to the Society of Indiana Pioneers, an individual was a pioneer of our county if they resided here on or before December 31, 1835.
The Boone County REMC built Indiana's first electric cooperative line on the Clark Woody farm, 5 miles west of this site, with funds borrowed from the Rural Electrification Administration on July 22, 1935. Historical Marker Database
Abraham Lincoln stopped in Lebanon enroute to Washington, D.C., to become the 16th President of the U.S. He addressed citizens of Lebanon and Boone County from the rear of a railroad passenger car on the evening of February 11, 1861. Historical Marker Database He also stopped in Zionsville to address citizens there. Abraham Lincoln Park
Abraham Lincoln was shot by an assassin on the evening of April 14, 1865. He died the next day at 7:22 a.m. While Union soldiers hunted the conspirators, the nation went into mourning. The funeral for the assassinated president took place April 19, 1865 at the White House. The New York Times reported that “thousands wended their way up the capitol steps, into the grand rotunda, by the bier and coffin of the President… their homage was silent and tearful.” On the morning of April 21, a military guard placed Lincoln’s casket in the ninth car of a funeral train, which was draped in black. The casket of Lincoln’s son William who had died in 1862 was also aboard for the trip back to the Midwest. On May 1, 1865 his funeral train passed through Augusta, Zionsville, Whitestown, Lebanon, Hazelrigg, Thorntown, Colfax, and Stockwell, before reaching Lafayette. The New York Semi-Weekly Times reported on the trip through these towns: “These are small places, but it seems the inhabitants are on the roadside. Some of them hold torches in their hands, and the surroundings are solemnly lighted. Men stand with uncovered heads as the train hurries on its way.” At Lebanon the residents “hung over the track, suspended from two uprights, a hundred variegated Chinese lanterns.”The Funeral Train in Indiana – Indiana Historical Bureau
Boone County has provided men and women for every branch of the armed services in the United States. Our faithful sons and daughters have also paid with the ultimate sacrifice on every battle front that has faced our nation. Veteran Affairs