Maps tell a tale


Before we became Indiana, we were just weird colors on a map.

What Indiana looked like in the years preceding statehood. On the left, the 1809 version. Note, there is no Franklin County. Knox County, where Vincennes is located, was essentially managed by Gen. William Henry Harrison, who commanded the military in later years that defeated various Indian tribes and led to the formation of the state. Harrison later became president and died a month after being elected, catching the flu on his way to the inauguration.

Not a fun way to go out.

The line that separates Dearborn from Clark County is the Greenville Treaty line, signed in 1795 by the federal government and various native tribes. By 1809, the treaty had been pretty much replaced by ... well, agreements. The native tribes were selling off the land, even though some of them weren't quite sure who actually owned it.

The green area on the left map is the so-called Twelve-Mile Treaty area, signed in 1809.

Details, details.

The areas in white were still generally considered native lands and would be absorbed by the Indiana Territory as the move toward statehood continued. Statehood would come in 1816 after the population reached sufficient levels (60,000 was the minimum.)

As populations shifted, new counties and townships were formed.

On the right, we can see Franklin County, and various hash marks are important. One that splits Dearborn County is the final demarcation of the original Greenville Treaty Line. The original line lay just to the west of what became Fairfield.

Also note in the 1814 map, the two lines that cross through northern Franklin County, lines that sealed Fairfield's fate. The blocklines in that area of the map indicate what would become Fayette and Union counties, only a few years later. Those would doom Fairfield to the northern fringe of Franklin County and exclude it from consideration as the county seat, though it's been suggested that was never a serious conversation in the first place.

The blue line that divides Franklin County from Wayne County (Richmond) basically runs through what became Liberty in Union County.

Changes in the map were ongoing, depending on population shifts and political maneuvering that created fiefdoms as new counties were formed. Until 1825, Brookville, which did become the county seat, enjoyed enormous prosperity as the site of a federal land office -- and with that, the clout as a center of important government.

Bad things began to happen in the middle of the decade, when somebody (probably a race car fan) decided to create Indianapolis. The Cornfield with Lights became the state capital and life changed for the worse in SE Indiana after that.

Meanwhile, Fayette County opened for business, Indiana became a state, and somebody decided to cut another chunk out of Franklin County to make Union County.

After that, we all played basketball.