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Monday, April 15, 2024

VanderBurgh Turns 200

January 7, 2018, marked the 200th anniversary of the formation of Vanderburgh County. The creation of the county was the result of Warrick County being too large to be governed effectively and the need for area politicians to maintain their respective power bases. At the December 11, 1817, meeting of the Indiana General Assembly in Corydon, “Mr. Boon presented the petition of Moses Wood, and others, praying for the formation of a new county, out of the counties of Posey, Warrick, and Gibson.”

Less than a month later, the bill was signed into law by Governor Jonathan Jennings. The name of the new county was apparently influenced by General John Tipton to honor former Indiana Territorial Judge Henry Vander Burgh, who died in 1812.

Vander Burgh, of Dutch extraction, was born in Troy, New York, in 1760. At age 16 he was appointed a first lieutenant for the 5th New York Regiment of the Continental Army. He remained in the army throughout the entire Revolutionary War rising to the rank of captain. After the war he studied law, and in 1788 moved to Vincennes, Indiana, in the Northwest Territory, where he had a remarkable career.

In the years before his death on April 12, 1812, Vander Burgh served as U.S. land claim commissioner, Knox County judge, assembly member and president of the Northwest Territory legislative council, Indiana Territory judge, and trustee of what is now Vincennes University.

Judge Vander Burgh had no connection to, and probably never passed through the area that was named for him. Two hundred years of history have been hard on Henry Vander Burgh. There is no known likeness of the man and his gravesite is at an unknown location under a Vincennes subdivision. Even his name was changed when the county named in his honor was called Vanderburgh.

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