Ohio County, IN

Local History

Rising Sun in Ohio County, Indiana was originally a hunting ground for many Indian tribes.

The first documented settlers were members of the family of Samuel Fulton, an uncle to steamboat inventor Robert Fulton. The family posted lookouts on the hillsides to watch for Indians while they cleared fields and built homes.

In 1814, John James of Fredericksburg, MD, journeyed to the area and purchased a large tract of land which he and his son, Pinckney, surveyed and platted.

In 1816, they registered town of Rising Sun which became Ohio County’s county seat.

Barkshire family
Sunrise Ohio County

Several legends attempt to explain James’ choice for the name of his small town.

Some say it was taken from an early ferry on the riverfront. Others speculate that James chose it because he was so struck by the view of the sun rising over the Kentucky hills.

Descendants of Robert Huston, who arrived with the Fulton’s in 1798, claim family records show Huston named the town. His party—which included a pregnant woman—was headed down river apparently without a destination.

For her comfort they anchored along the bank for the night. Daybreak was so beautiful that the site was named Rising Sun and adopted as the traveler’s home

With its beautiful and convenient riverfront location, Rising Sun was a seasonal stop for hundreds of flatboats heading down the Ohio River in the 1830s.

Rising Sun was home to J.W. Whitlock, an inventor and furniture builder who made history when he decided to pursue powerboating. Crafted by Whitlock himself, the famous Hoosier Boy powerboat set a never-to-be-equaled distance record between Cincinnati and Louisville.

The boat and Whitlock’s awards are only a few of the many items on display at the Ohio County Historical Museum in Rising Sun.

Hoosier boy boat
Ohio County Courthouse

The smallest county in Indiana, Ohio County is the location of the state’s oldest courthouse in continuous use. The structure is a two-story Greek Revival brick building supported by Doric pillars.

For more information on the history of Rising Sun/Ohio County, contact the Ohio County Historical Society and Museum at (812) 438-4915 or log on to ohiocountyhistory.org.

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Ohio County, IN

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