Archives staff have been hard at work attempting to save a 100 year old map of Evansville. The map below had been folded 8 times and placed in an envelope for much of that time. The blue bin in the photo serves as a re-hydration chamber used to get moisture back into this brittle document. Once it was able to be opened without tearing, we used the weights on top of the blue bin to help flatten the map over the period of a week. Today, we are repairing the rips and tears that are ever present in a map this old. It is coming along nicely! Look for it this fall at the Evansville Museum of Art, History, and Science.
The oldest of our county’s records are not easy to miss when processing and cataloging. They are always fragile, sometimes have broken loose from their binding, and often contain untold tales of joy, tragedy, and hope. They serve as a record of the day to day events of a long forgotten past.
This Probate Court order book is dated from 1823. Within it are the names of our county’s earliest pioneers– a who’s who of society in a still tiny river town.
Shortly after Vanderburgh was established as the county seat, Elisha Harrison became secretary of the newly incorporated town’s board of trustees. He was responsible for listing the town’s taxable properties and his efforts to do so remain in this book and others like it. His claim to fame comes from his lineage as second cousin to President William Henry Harrison. He was the first state senator elected from Vanderburgh county, a brigadier general in the militia, operator of Evansville’s Weekly Gazette, maintained the ferry on the Ohio River, and built the county’s first courthouse.
By the account of John Iglehart, he was “an able man of many excellent traits, public spirited, well educated and until his death in 1825 or 1826, was in the front of every public movement, and freely invested his fortune in public enterprises, more perhaps than any man of his time.”
Corrigan, S. (2012, March 24). Evansville Bicentennial: A town rises from a river. Evansville Courier and Press.
The records found in our archives have many uses. They are used by those with Court business, genealogists and family history researchers, and historians. They also serve an important purpose as a resource for our fellow employees in offices county-wide. Today we were able to help our colleagues in the Department of Metropolitan Development research a specific location on a subject of interest to our neighborhood associations. This piece of land was a hot property and found itself at the center of a land dispute in Circuit Court in 1855. Hidden in the Court Order Book from that period, which tells us what happened in Court each day, is this gem that illustrates the parcel of land in question. Note that the map is in color and the care someone took with the details of the buildings and the bend of the creek.
The map is of the area where Negley’s mill stood.
Here is that area today:
“Negley’s mill in those days was a regular Mecca, or rather a Jerusalem of trade and exchange, in flour, meal, bran and grain of all kinds, embracing the patronage from a territory of thirty or forty miles around. The farmers, on certain days of the week (called grinding days at the mill), could be seen with their horses and wagons and ox-teams, like a caravan crossing the plains, all headed for Negley’s mill.
Negley’s mill was, too, a sort of trysting place for the farm lads and lassies, for the girls frequently accompanied their papas and big brothers to the mill, and many’s the little courtship and little scandal that grew out of these meetings of country lovers.”
Excerpt from the ebook version of:
Elliot, Joseph Peter. A History of Evansville and Vanderburgh County, Indiana: A Complete and Concise Account from the Earliest Times to the Present, Embracing Reminiscences of the Pioneers and Biographical Sketches of the Men Who Have Been Leaders in Commercial and Other Ente. Evansville, Indiana: Keller Print Company, 1897. Pp 93-97.