Vincennes, Indiana: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

City of Vincennes, Indiana
—  City  —
Vincennes' most reconizable landmark,
The George Rogers Clark National Historical Park Rotunda.

Location in the state of Indiana
Coordinates: 38°40′42″N 87°30′58″W / 38.67833°N 87.51611°W / 38.67833; -87.51611
Country United States
State Indiana
County Knox
 - Mayor Al Baldwin (D)
 - Total 7.2 sq mi (18.6 km2)
 - Land 7.1 sq mi (18.5 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)  0.97%
Elevation 420 ft (128 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 18,701
 Density 2,620.3/sq mi (1,011.3/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 47591
Area code(s) 812
FIPS code 18-79208[1]
GNIS feature ID 0445300[2]

The city of Vincennes is the county seat of Knox County, Indiana. It is located on the Wabash River in the southwestern part of the state. As of the 2000 census, the population was 18,701. It is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in Indiana.



Inhabited for thousands of years by different cultures of indigenous peoples, in historic times, native groups were the Shawnee, Wabash, Miami tribe, among those in the Wabash confederacy.

The first European settlers were French, when Vincennes was founded as part of the French colony of Louisiana. After the French and Indian War (part of the Seven Years War, in defeat France ceded territory east of the Mississippi River to England. The area was under British rule associated with the colony of Canada until after the American Revolution. It then became part of the Illinois Country of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia. Next part of Knox County in the Northwest Territory, it was later included in the Indiana Territory. Vincennes served as capital of the Indiana Territory from 1800 until 1813, when the government was moved to Corydon.


New France

The first trading post on the Wabash River was established by the Sieur Juchereau, Lieutenant General of Montréal. With thirty-four Canadiens, he founded the company post on 28 October 1702 to trade for Buffalo hides with American Indians. The exact location of Juchereau's trading post is not known, but because the Buffalo Trace crosses the Wabash at Vincennes, many believe it was here. The post was a success; in the first two years, the traders collected over 13,000 buffalo hides.[3] When Juchereau died, the post was abandoned. The French-Canadian settlers left what they considered hostile territory for Mobile (in present-day Alabama), then the capital of Louisiana.

The oldest European town in Indiana, Vincennes was officially established in 1732 as a second French fur trading post in this area. The Compagnie des Indes commissioned a Canadian officer, François-Marie Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes, to build a post along the Wabash River to discourage local nations from trading with the British.[4] de Vincennes founded the new trading post near the meeting points of the Wabash River, White River, and the overland Buffalo Trace.[5] De Vincennes, who had lived with his father among the Miami tribe, was able to convince the Piankeshaw to establish a village at his trading post. He also encouraged French settlers to move there, and started his own family to increase the village population.[6] Because the Wabash post was so remote, however, de Vincennes had a hard time getting supplies from Louisiana which for trade with the native nations, who were also being courted by British traders.

In 1736, during the French war with the Chickasaw nation, de Vincennes was captured and burned at the stake in the modern state of Arkansas. His settlement on the Wabash was renamed Poste Vincennes in his honor.

Louisiana Governor Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville next appointed Louis de Bellerive de St. Ange to command Poste Vincennes.[7] With little help from the colonial government, St. Ange was able to build up the small village and attract new tribes to trade. In 1742, he received a grant from the Piankeshaw for 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) to the north and east of Poste Vincennes.[8] The opportunity for land attracted many new French settlers, and the growing village was sometimes called St. Ange.[9]

As the French colonials pushed north from Louisiana and south from Canada, however, the British colonists to the east continued to push west. In addition, British traders lured away many of Indians who had traded with the French. This competition escalated in the Ohio Country until the eruption of the French and Indian War (the North American theater of the Seven Years War between England and France.)

British Empire

Diorama of Fort Sackville

On February 10, 1763, when New France was ceded to the British Empire at the conclusion of the French and Indian War, Vincennes fell under the dominion of Great Britain. British Lt. John Ramsey came to Vincennes in 1766. He took a census of the settlement, built up the fort, and renamed it Fort Sackville. The population grew quickly in the years that followed, resulting in a unique culture of interdependent Native Americans and French and British colonials and traders.

Vincennes was far from centers of colonial power. In 1770 and 1772 General Thomas Gage, the commander in chief of Britain's North American forces, received warnings that the residents of Vincennes were not remaining loyal, and were inciting native tribes along the river trade routes against the British. The British Colonial Secretary, the Earl of Hillsborough, ordered the residents to be removed from Vincennes. Gage delayed while the residents responded to the charges against them, claiming to be "peaceful settlers, cultivating the land which His Most Christian Majesty granted us." The issue was resolved by Hillsborough's successor, Lord Dartmouth, who insisted to Gage that the residents were not lawless vagabonds, but English subjects whose rights were protected by the King.[10]

In 1778, residents at Poste Vincennes received word of the French alliance with the American Second Continental Congress from Father Pierre Gibault and Dr. Jean Laffont. They revolted in support of the Americans, as did the local Piankeshaw, led by Chief Young Tobacco.

Henry Hamilton, Lieutenant Governor of the British Fort Detroit, thought Poste Vincennes "a refuge for debtors and Vagabonds from Canada." He led an expedition from Detroit to reclaim the post. Upon his success, Hamilton built up the fort to prepare for a spring invasion of Illinois Territory. Before he could try, however, George Rogers Clark recaptured Fort Sackville in the February 23, 1779 Battle of Vincennes without losing a single soldier or shot being fired. This was thanks to an Italian soldier and fur trader, Captain Francis Vigo, who offered his financial assistance and services, and worked as a secret agent.

The episode was featured in the 1901 novel Alice of Old Vincennes by Maurice Thompson. Also, the USS Vincennes AEGIS cruiser would be named in honor of this battle.

United States

Although the Americans would remain in control of Vincennes, it took years to establish peace. In 1786, Captain John Hardin led a mounted Kentucky militia across the Ohio River and destroyed a friendly Piankeshaw town near Vincennes. This led to a series of attacks and counter-attacks between Wabash Indians and American settlers. Finally, on 15 July 1786, the Wabash landed in forty-seven war canoes at Vincennes to drive the Americans back to Kentucky.[11] The Indians warned the French in advance of their attack and assured them that they would not be harmed, but the French warned the Americans. They quickly supplied Fort Patrick Henry and waited out the siege. One American was killed and four wounded, and the war party left after destroying the Americans' farms.

In response, Virginia Governor Patrick Henry authorized George Rogers Clark to raise the Kentucky militia and mount an expedition against the warring tribes. General Clark gathered a force of 1,000 militia and departed Clarksville 9 September 1786, along the Buffalo Trace.[12] The militia spent ten days in Vincennes before marching north along the Wabash, but men deserted by the hundreds. Clark was soon forced to return to Vincennes without any action taken. Clark left 150 men to help defend Vincennes, but this force soon turned into a lawless mob, and the citizens of Vincennes petitioned Congress for help.[13] Secretary of War Henry Knox sent Colonel Josiah Harmar and the First American Regiment to restore order. The Kentucky militia fled Vincennes at the approach of U.S. Regulars.[14]

Colonel Harmar left 100 regulars under Major Jean François Hamtramck and directed them to build a fort, Fort Knox.[15] Vincennes remained an isolated town, difficult to supply due to its position deep within Indian territory. Secure transport to and from Vincennes meant travelling with a large, armed party, whether over land or via the Wabash River. On 30 September 1790, Major Hamtramck led 350 men from Vincennes as far north as the Vermillion River, to engage some of the Indian villages which had been at war with Vincennes. The Kickapoo tracked the party, however, and evacuated every village along the way before the Americans arrived.[16] Hamtramck destroyed some abandoned villages, but he did not engage any war parties. Faced with desertions from Kentucky militia, Hamtramck returned to Vincennes. The expedition had done no serious harm to the enemies of Vincennes, but it distracted some of the Wabash villages while Josiah Harmar, now a General, led a much larger expedition up through Ohio country towards Kekionga.

Vincennes was not secure until the conclusion of the Northwest Indian War in 1795. By 1798, the population had reached 2,500. Vincennes was no longer considered a trading outpost, but a thriving city.[17]

Flag of Vincennes, Indiana


This flag for the city of Vincennes, Indiana, albeit somewhat unofficial, is used by several areas around the city. It features the signature V, four fleurs-de-lis, symbolizing the city's French heritage, its existence in four centuries: 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, since the city's establishment in 1732. Similar in appearance to the flag of Indianapolis, Vincennes' flag is more squared in appearance and has a diamond center rather than a circle. It represents the layout of Vincennes. White stripes radiating from the diamond represent Vincennes' part in the settlement of the frontier, as it was at the crossroads of several great pioneer trails.


Vincennes is located at 38°40′42″N 87°30′58″W / 38.67833°N 87.51611°W / 38.67833; -87.51611 (38.678329, -87.516067)[18].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.2 square miles (18.6 km²), of which 7.1 square miles (18.5 km²) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) (0.97%) is water.


Public Schools

Elementary Schools

  • Tecumseh - Harrison Elementary
  • Franklin Elementary
  • Vigo Elementary
  • Riley Elementary
  • Washington Elementary

Middle School

  • Clark Middle School

High School

Parochial Schools

Elementary School

  • Flaget Elementary (K-5)

High School

Other Private Schools

  • Wabash Valley Christian Academy (K-1)
  • Southwestern Indiana Youth Village (4-12)

Higher Education

  • Vincennes University was established in 1801 as Jefferson Academy. It is the oldest college of higher learning in the US north of the Ohio River and west of the Appalachian Mountains.


Knox County Courthouse

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 18,701 people, 7,614 households, and 4,332 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,620.3 people per square mile (1,011.3/km²). There were 8,574 housing units at an average density of 1,201.4/sq mi (463.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.34% White, 3.28% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.48% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.02% of the population.

There were 7,614 households out of which 26.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.1% were non-families. 35.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.0% under the age of 18, 20.5% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,289, and the median income for a family was $35,424. Males had a median income of $27,029 versus $20,254 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,993. About 15.0% of families and 20.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.9% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those age 65 or over.


The city government consists of a seven member city council. Five of whom are elected from districts the other two are elected at large. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote.

Time Zone Controversy

On November 4, 2007, Knox County joined Daviess, Martin, Pike, and Dubois counties in returning to Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-5). Controversy concerning time in Indiana has caused a change in the time zone of Vincennes on three different occasions since The Standard Time Act of 1918.

Notable residents

Attractions of Vincennes

Xavier Cathedral





  • Vincennes Sun-Commercial

List of Vincennes' Firsts

  • Site of the First Catholic church in Indiana. (1749)
  • Home of the First newspaper in Indiana. (1799)
  • Site of the First Presbyterian church in Indiana. (1806)
  • Site of the First Masonic Lodge in Indiana. (1809)
  • Home of the First bank in Indiana. (1814)
  • Host to the First medical society in Indiana. (1817)
  • First Bishop of Vincennes, Simon Bruté. (1834)
  • First county hospital in Indiana. (Good Samaritan Hospital 1908)
  • First Post Office in Indiana.
  • First sheriff's department in Indiana.

State Championships

Vincennes High School or Vincennes Lincoln High School

  • 1923 and 1981 (IHSAA) State Basketball Champions.
  • 2002 IHSAA State Baseball Champions.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ Lasselle, Charles B (March 1906). "The Old Indian Traders of Indiana". The Indiana Magazine of History (Indianapolis: George S. Cottman) II (1): 3. Retrieved 11 January 2008. 
  4. ^ Derleth , 4
  5. ^ Derleth, 8
  6. ^ Derleth, 9
  7. ^ Derleth, 14
  8. ^ Derleth, 16
  9. ^ Derleth, 17
  10. ^ Barnhart, 172-173
  11. ^ Allison, 57
  12. ^ Allison, 58
  13. ^ Allison, 58: One resident of Vincennes was heard to pray "Lord, please send the Kentuckians home and bring back the Indians."
  14. ^ Allison, 61
  15. ^ Allison, 62
  16. ^ Allison, 68
  17. ^ Allison, 87
  18. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

See also


  • Allison, Harold (©1986, Harold Allison). The Tragic Saga of the Indiana Indians. Turner Publishing Company, Paducah. ISBN 0-9380-2107-9. 
  • Barnhart, John D; Riker, Dorothy L (©1971). Indiana to 1816. The Colonial Period. Indiana Historical Society. ISBN 0-8719-5109-6. 
  • Derleth, August (©1968). Vincennes: Portal to The West. Prentice-Hall, Inc, Englewood Cliffs, NJ LCCN 68-20537. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VINCENNES, a city and the county-seat of Knox county, Indiana, U.S.A., in the S.W. part of the state, on the E. bank of the Wabash river, about 117 m. S.W. of Indianapolis. Pop. (1890) 8853; (1900) 10,249, of whom 736 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 14,895. It is served by the Baltimore & Ohio South-Western, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis, the Evansville & Terre Haute, and the Vandalia railways. Extensive levees, 15 m. in length, prevent the overflow of the Wabash river, which for nine months in the year is navigable from this point to the Ohio. The city is level and well drained, and has a good water-supply system. In Vincennes are a Roman Catholic cathedral, erected in 1835, one of the oldest in the West, occupying the site of a church built early in the 18th century; Vincennes University (1806), the oldest educational institution in the state, which in 1910 had 14 instructors and 236 students; St Rose Female Academy, and a public library. Coal, natural gas and oil are found near Vincennes. The city is a manufacturing and railway centre, and ships grain, pork and neat cattle. The total value of the factory products in 1905 was $3,172,279. Vincennes was the first permanent settlement in Indiana. On its site Francois Margane, Sieur de Vincennes, established a French military post about 1731, and a permanent settlement was made about the fort in 1735. After the fall of Quebec the place remained under French sovereignty until '777, when it was occupied by a British garrison. In 1778 an agent of George Rogers Clark took possession of the fort on behalf of Virginia, but it was soon afterwards again occupied by the British, who called it Fort Sackville and held it until February 1779, when it was besieged and was captured (on the 25th of February) by George Rogers Clark, and passed finally under American jurisdiction. The site of the fort is marked by a granite shaft erected in 1905 by the Daughters of the Revolution. Vincennes was the capital of Indiana Territory from 1800 to 1813, and was the meeting-place in 1805 of the first General Assembly of Indiana Territory. In 1839 it was incorporated as a borough, and it became a city in 1856.

See J. Law, The Colonial History of Vincennes (Vincennes, 1858); W. H. Smith, "Vincennes, the Key to the North-West," in L. P. Powell's Historic Towns of the Western States (New York, 1901); "The Capture of Vincennes by George Rogers Clark," Old South Leaflets, No. 43 (Boston, n.d.); also chap. ii. of J. P. Dunn's Indiana (Boston, 1892).

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