Brown County, Indiana

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Brown County
Brown County Courthouse in Nashville
Brown County Courthouse in Nashville
Map of Indiana highlighting Brown County
Location within the U.S. state of Indiana
Map of the United States highlighting Indiana
Indiana's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 39°12′N 86°14′W / 39.2°N 86.23°W / 39.2; -86.23
Country United States
State Indiana
Founded4 February 1836 (created)
August 1836 (organized)
Named forJacob Brown
Largest cityNashville
 • Total316.22 sq mi (819.0 km2)
 • Land311.58 sq mi (807.0 km2)
 • Water4.65 sq mi (12.0 km2)  1.47%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density49/sq mi (19/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district9th
  • Indiana county number 7
  • Most Forested County in Indiana

Brown County is a county in Indiana which in 2010 had a population of 15,242.[1] The county seat (and only incorporated town) is Nashville.[2]


The United States acquired the land from the Native Americans, part of which forms the southwest section of what is now Brown County, in the 1809 treaty of Fort Wayne. By the treaty of St. Mary's in 1818 considerably more territory became property of the government and this included the future Brown County area. No settler was allowed in the area until the government survey was completed in 1820. The first white man known to arrive was a German, Johann Schoonover, who lived for a short time on the creek later named for him to trade with the Native Americans, about 1820. In that same year William Elkins, the first pioneer, built a log cabin and cleared land in the area.[3] In the 1850s Elkins was recorded as having settled in the future Van Buren Township, and the settlement that grew up around him was known as Elkinsville.[4]

The earliest pioneers came from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas. They crossed the Ohio River and traveled north on narrow Indian trails through dense hardwood forest with wagons drawn by oxen. Many made their way to Bloomington, then east to hilly country, or they reached Jackson County and came north into future Brown County on the Sparks Ferry Road, or west from Columbus in Bartholomew County. Pioneers who had settled on lowland near Columbus came to the hills to escape malaria. Others deliberately chose the hills having lived in mountains before they made the trip to Indiana in search of new land. By 1830 an estimated 150 settlers had arrived; the United States census of 1840 reported 2,364 people.

Covered bridge in Brown County, Indiana

By 1828 the Indiana State Legislature had divided the land of present-day Brown County between Monroe, Jackson, and Bartholomew counties. In 1835 settlers presented a petition to the Legislature requesting a new county. On February 4, 1836, both the House and Senate passed a bill providing for the formation from western Bartholomew, eastern Monroe, and northern Jackson counties of a county to be named for Gen. Jacob Brown, who defeated the British at the Battle of Sackett's Harbor in the War of 1812.[5] The county covers a nominal 320 square miles (830 km2), measuring a surveyed 16 miles (26 km) from east to west and 20 miles (32 km) from north to south.

In August 1836, the land was divided into five townships of Jackson, Hamblen, Washington, Johnson, and Van Buren. Nashville, then known as Jacksonburg, was chosen as the county seat. Banner C. Brummett was appointed County Agent to lay out Nashville in lots to be sold at auction.[3] It was expected that money from the sale would help pay expenses of the county government. The lots sold very slowly, for pioneers had little money, and funds were short for a number of years. In 1837 a log court house and jail were built. They were built on the same lots on which the present court house and log jail stand. Nashville, at that time, consisted of a cluster of log cabins and 75 people.

The country was wild in 1836; bears, panthers, and wolves were plentiful. The wolves were so numerous that the Commissioners paid $1 for every wolf pelt brought to them.[3] Settlers lived a rugged pioneer type of life for many years. Their cabins and small settlements were mere niches in the great forest that covered hills and valleys.

By the time Nashville was incorporated in 1872, water-powered grist mills and sawmills were scattered over the county. Each village served its own locality with at least one general store, a blacksmith shop, a church and a post office. A doctor, sometimes more than one, lived in almost every village. In 1881 there were 20 doctors in the county, and 37 churches - Methodist, United Brethren, Baptist, Christian, Presbyterian, and New Light. There were many immigrants in Brown County at this time, including immigrants from England, Wales, Germany and elsewhere. Two of the Presbyterian churches in the county had congregations that consisted entirely of Presybterians of Scottish descent who came to America from County Down and County Antrim in the northeastern part of Ireland, in what has since become Northern Ireland. These immigrants were referred to by the rest of the community as being "Scots-Irish", however they referred to themselves as "Ulstermen" and "Irish Presbyterians".[6] Money continued to be scarce and much business was conducted by the barter system. The first schools were built of logs, but by 1872 one-room frame school houses dotted the county; in 1900 there were 73.

People farmed but they depended on forest products for cash. Lumber was taken to Indianapolis, also tan bark, cross ties, hoop poles, and barrel staves. The trees were cut recklessly and this led to deep trouble. Since there was not enough farm land on the ridge tops and in the creek bottoms, trees were eliminated on the sides of hills. Wheat and other crops were planted, and erosion became a significant problem. By 1900, soil was so completely washed from hillsides and creek bottoms that crops could not be grown. Poverty was widespread and people began to leave the county in droves. Cabins all over the hills and valleys stood empty. In 1890, 10,308 people lived in Brown County. By 1930 only 5,168 remained. Not until 1980 did the population exceed the 1890 figure.

In 1900, villages were still the centers of Brown County life. Travel by horseback, wagon, or carriage was exceedingly limited due to deeply rutted, rocky roads. There were people in remote areas who never made a trip to Nashville during their lives. Many a family's only contact with the outside world was a salesman's weekly visit with his horse and wagon. As a result, the pioneer way of life continued long after other counties had adopted a new pattern of living.

In 1905 the Illinois Central Railroad built a line from Indianapolis to Effingham, Illinois. The line ran from Morgantown across the southwest corner of Jackson Township. Helmsburg was the main station. Two trains a day from Indianapolis, and two from Effingham, brought freight, mail, and passengers. Horse drawn hacks took people and wagons transported mail and freight from the station to Nashville.

The first cars appeared in Nashville in 1913. Their use was strictly limited because of the poor roads and because of the widespread belief, peculiar to Brown County, that cars were both autonomous and maleficent. By necessity as the number of cars increased, county roads were gradually improved. By 1934 State Road 135 north from Nashville to Morgantown had been built and in that year was hardsurfaced. State Road 46 between Bloomington and Nashville was worked on extensively until it was considered one of the best gravel roads in the state. Some years later it was hard surfaced.

In 1907, artist T. C. Steele built a studio near Belmont in rural Brown County and Adolph Shulz came to Nashville and thus began the Brown County Art Colony. Will Vawter, V.J. Cariani, Marie Goth, C. Curry Bohn, Dale Bessire and others moved to Nashville. The Brown County Art Gallery was opened in 1926. In 1954 a larger gallery was built on East Main Street, and an Art Guild established a gallery in the old Minor House on Van Buren Street. Nashville continues to be an art center and tourist attraction.

Brown County State Park opened in 1931 offering many advantages: a lodge, cabins for rent, picnic areas, a swimming pool, and miles of trails. And at present there is Yellowwood State Forest, the Hoosier National Forest, Lake Monroe and Lake Lemon.


Unlike much of Indiana with its low rolling hills, the terrain of Brown County is rugged and hilly, with the drainage areas filled with brush, undergrowth, or trees.[7] The county's highest point (1,058 feet/322 meters ASL) is Weed Patch Hill, the third-highest prominence in the state.[8]

According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 316.63 square miles (820.1 km2), of which 311.98 square miles (808.0 km2) (or 98.53%) is land and 4.65 square miles (12.0 km2) (or 1.47%) is water.[9] Brown County is tied with Benton County as the least densely populated county in Indiana. Brown County has by far the highest concentration of forested land of any of Indiana's 92 counties with nearly 90% coverage and almost no large farms at all.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Incorporated community[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Former communities[edit]

  • Beck
  • Beveridge
  • Buffalo
  • Cleona
  • Cooper
  • Gent
  • Kelp
  • Lock
  • Marble
  • Marshall
  • Ramelton
  • Sherman
  • Youno

[12] [13]


Census-designated place[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Protected areas[edit]


Climate and weather[edit]

Nashville, Indiana
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: The Weather Channel[14]

In recent years, average temperatures in Nashville have ranged from a low of 19 °F (−7 °C) in January to a high of 86 °F (30 °C) in July, although a record low of −21 °F (−29 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 110 °F (43 °C) was recorded in July 1936. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.66 inches (68 mm) in January to 5.12 inches (130 mm) in May.[14]


The county government is a constitutional body, and is granted specific powers by the Constitution of Indiana, and by the Indiana Code.

County Council: The legislative branch of the county government; controls spending and revenue collection in the county. Representatives are elected to four-year terms from county districts. They set salaries, the annual budget, and special spending. The council has limited authority to impose local taxes, in the form of an income and property tax that is subject to state level approval, excise taxes, and service taxes.[15][16]

Board of Commissioners: The executive body of the county. Commissioners are elected county-wide to staggered four-year terms. One commissioner serves as president. The commissioners execute acts legislated by the council, collect revenue, and manage the county government.[15][16]

Court: The county maintains a circuit court with jurisdiction to hear civil and criminal cases. The judge on the court is elected to a term of six years and must be an attorney licensed to practice in Indiana. The judge is assisted by a magistrate who is hired by the circuit court judge, not elected.

County Officials: The county has other elected offices, including sheriff, coroner, auditor, treasurer, recorder, surveyor, and circuit court clerk. These officers are elected to four-year terms.

Brown County is part of Indiana's 9th congressional district, Indiana Senate district 40[17] and Indiana House of Representatives districts 60 and 65.[18]

Presidential election results
Presidential elections results[19]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2020 64.3% 5,777 33.8% 3,036 1.9% 168
2016 63.1% 5,016 31.7% 2,518 5.2% 411
2012 56.8% 4,332 40.1% 3,060 3.2% 242
2008 50.4% 4,060 47.9% 3,854 1.8% 141
2004 61.6% 4,512 37.2% 2,730 1.2% 88
2000 56.8% 3,871 38.3% 2,608 5.0% 338
1996 47.4% 2,988 38.3% 2,413 14.4% 908
1992 41.6% 2,633 32.1% 2,029 26.3% 1,663
1988 60.9% 3,348 38.5% 2,115 0.7% 38
1984 56.7% 3,517 42.9% 2,657 0.4% 24
1980 54.5% 2,884 38.1% 2,014 7.4% 393
1976 50.3% 2,466 48.6% 2,381 1.2% 57
1972 65.1% 2,737 34.3% 1,443 0.6% 27
1968 49.4% 1,881 34.9% 1,327 15.7% 599
1964 39.2% 1,390 60.2% 2,135 0.5% 19
1960 51.8% 1,679 47.3% 1,533 1.0% 32
1956 51.2% 1,649 48.3% 1,555 0.5% 15
1952 51.2% 1,517 47.7% 1,414 1.1% 33
1948 41.5% 1,092 55.5% 1,459 3.0% 78
1944 45.7% 1,174 52.6% 1,352 1.8% 45
1940 46.7% 1,477 52.6% 1,662 0.7% 21
1936 43.7% 1,244 55.7% 1,585 0.5% 15
1932 31.3% 790 66.3% 1,676 2.4% 61
1928 48.5% 959 50.5% 999 1.0% 19
1924 36.9% 756 60.0% 1,229 3.0% 62
1920 36.8% 788 61.4% 1,316 1.9% 40
1916 31.7% 506 65.6% 1,046 2.7% 43
1912 19.7% 305 58.8% 909 21.4% 331
1908 34.6% 663 61.4% 1,177 4.0% 76
1904 37.4% 760 56.9% 1,157 5.8% 117
1900 32.1% 707 65.8% 1,450 2.1% 46
1896 32.6% 726 66.5% 1,480 0.9% 19
1892 30.3% 656 63.6% 1,378 6.1% 133
1888 29.1% 661 67.7% 1,538 3.3% 74


Historical population
Census Pop.
2018 (est.)15,234[20]−0.1%
US Decennial Census[21]
1790-1960[22] 1900-1990[23]
1990-2000[24] 2010-2013[1]

2010 Census[edit]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 15,242 people, 6,199 households, and 4,444 families in the county.[25] The population density was 48.9 inhabitants per square mile (18.9/km2). There were 8,285 housing units at an average density of 26.6 per square mile (10.3/km2).[9] The racial makeup of the county was 97.6% white, 0.3% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.3% black or African American, 0.3% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.2% of the population.[25] In terms of ancestry, 27.2% were German, 13.1% were Irish, 11.6% were English, and 11.3% were American.[26] Those citing "American" ancestry in Brown County are of overwhelmingly English extraction, however most English Americans identify simply as having American ancestry because their roots have been in North America for so long, in some cases since the 1600s.[27][28][29][30][31]

Of the 6,199 households, 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.2% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 28.3% were non-families, and 23.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.85. The median age was 46.7 years.[25]

The median income for a household in the county was $47,697 and the median income for a family was $56,911. Males had a median income of $42,269 versus $30,175 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,312. About 9.0% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.2% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Brown County QuickFacts". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 31 May 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Blanchard, Charles (1884). Counties of Morgan, Monroe and Brown, Indiana: Historical and Biographical. Chicago: F.A. Battey & Co. p. 3.
  4. ^ Salt Creek Valley - A New Place to Roost (Lake Monroe Oral History, accessed 11 August 2020)
  5. ^ De Witt Clinton Goodrich & Charles Richard Tuttle (1875). An Illustrated History of the State of Indiana. Indiana: R. S. Peale & Co. p. 552.
  6. ^ Dorothy Birney Bailey. Brown County, Indiana: History and Families, 1836-1990, Vol. 1 (1991), p. 92; Brown County Historical Society - Turner Publishing Co. ISBN 9781563110252
  7. ^ Brown County IN (Google Maps, accessed 11 August 2020)
  8. ^ Weed Patch Hill (, accessed 11 August 2020)
  9. ^ a b "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 12 February 2020. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  10. ^ Elkinsville, IN Quadrangle N3900 W8615 /7.5 Field Check 1947
  11. ^ Salt Creek Valley - A New Place to Roost (Monroe Lake Oral History, accessed 11 August 2020)
  12. ^ Drainage Map of Brown County, Department of Conservation, State of Indiana, Engineering Dept 1933 Official Map
  13. ^ General Highway and Transportation Map Brown County Prepared by State Highway Commission of Indiana and USDA 1937
  14. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Nashville IN". The Weather Channel. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
  15. ^ a b Indiana Code. "Title 36, Article 2, Section 3". Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  16. ^ a b Indiana Code. "Title 2, Article 10, Section 2" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  17. ^ "Indiana Senate Districts". State of Indiana. Archived from the original on 15 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  18. ^ "Indiana House Districts". State of Indiana. Archived from the original on 15 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  19. ^ Leip, David. "Atlas of US Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on 23 March 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  20. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Archived from the original on May 29, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  21. ^ "US Decennial Census". US Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  22. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  23. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 4, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  24. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). US Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  25. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  26. ^ "Selected Social Characteristics in the US – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 14 February 2020. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  27. ^ "Ancestry of the Population by State: 1980 - Table 3" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  28. ^ Sharing the Dream: White Males in a Multicultural America By Dominic J. Pulera.
  29. ^ Reynolds Farley, 'The New Census Question about Ancestry: What Did It Tell Us?', Demography, Vol. 28, No. 3 (August 1991), pp. 414, 421.
  30. ^ Stanley Lieberson and Lawrence Santi, 'The Use of Nativity Data to Estimate Ethnic Characteristics and Patterns', Social Science Research, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1985), pp. 44-6.
  31. ^ Stanley Lieberson and Mary C. Waters, 'Ethnic Groups in Flux: The Changing Ethnic Responses of American Whites', Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 487, No. 79 (September 1986), pp. 82-86.
  32. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 14 February 2020. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  • Bailey, Dorothy B. (1985). History of Brown County. Brown County Historical Society.
  • Inman, N. Carol (1991). The Origins of 1001 Towns In Indiana. Indiana State Historical Association.
  • Forstall, Richard L. (editor) (1996). Population of states and counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990 : from the twenty-one decennial censuses. US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Population Division. ISBN 0-934213-48-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°12′N 86°14′W / 39.20°N 86.23°W / 39.20; -86.23