A Short History of Lexington, Indiana

Scott County’s earliest pioneer town was Lexington.  The town began around a log tavern and an Indian trading post in 1804.  In 1813 a town was platted by Jesse Henley, William McFarland, and Nehemiah Hunt.  At this time Lexington was still part of the Indiana Territory.  Lexington continued to grow as the new state of Indiana was formed in 1816.

At the time the new state was formed Lexington became part of Jefferson County.  Then in 1820, the new county of Scott was formed from parts of the surrounding counties of; Clark, Jefferson, Jackson, Jennings and Washington Counties.  By 1860, Lexington had a population of over 500 and had livery stables, doctors, a newspaper, several blacksmiths, a train station, a school, grist mill, a woolen mill, saw mills, barrel heading and stave factory, a tannery, a bank, three hotels, five churches and a small college.  It remained the principle town of Scott County for many years.

In 1871 the town of Scottsburgh was laid out.  Since the new town had a more central location in the county, it was decided to move the county seat.  The new courthouse was completed in 1874 and the counties records were transported by wagon from Lexington to Scottsburgh.  It has been told that tempers and hard feelings were running so high over the move that the transfer was done under cover of darkness.

Many local historical events happened in Lexington.

In 1863, Confederate General John Morgan stopped in Lexington for the night during his famous Morgan’s Raid across Indiana.

In 1868, the trial of the Reno Gang was held in Lexington following their daring train robbery which was the first train robbery in the United States.

In 1876, Asa M. Fitch established the first chewing gum plant in America.  Then in 1885 Finch would patented the first farming plow on wheels.


Famous men with Lexington connections include:

General William McFarland was one of Lexington’s founders and served as adjutant general to General William Henry Harrison during the war of 1812.

William Hendricks, the Second Governor of Indiana, first U.S. Congressman from Indiana, practiced law in Lexington.

William H. English, born and raised in Lexington, ran for Vice-President of the U.S. in 1880 and was U.S. Congressman from 1853-1861.

Captain Will English served with Colonel Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders during the Spanish American War.

Lexington and Scott County has much of which to be proud.


Thank you to Wanda S., our library genealogist for this post.  If you have questions about genealogy or Scott County history, feel free to shoot Wanda an email at wanda@scott.lib.in.us.  She will be happy to assist you.

(Visited 310 times, 3 visits today)

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *