Warren County History

The first European settler in Warren County was French trader Zachariah Cicott, who settled near Independence around 1803. Cicott got along well with the native Miami, Potowatomi and Kickapoo and did a good business in furs which he shipped down the Wabash. Cicott was instrumental as a scout and guide for William Henry Harrison during the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, which was fought a few miles further northeast near Lafayette. Harrison’s army marched through Warren County and several soldiers are buried here. Harrison would later be elected president of the US with the memorable slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!”

Other settlers began arriving in the 1820s and Warren County was formally organized in 1827. Although the famous Wabash and Erie canal passed down the other side of the Wabash river in Fountain County, enterprising locals cut a side canal by which boats could leave the main canal, cross the Wabash and dock at Williams’ Port. When the canal declined in importance and the railroad came through on the edge of the prairie above the Wabash, Williamsport grew up the hill. Today’s county seat still spreads from the prairie’s edge down the steep hills onto the Wabash plain.

Warren County leaned politically toward the Whigs and their successors the Republicans. When Fremont ran for president in 1854, the local newspaper changed its name to the Warren Republican. This paper, still published today as the Review-Republican, is recognized as the first newspaper named after the Republican party.

At the end of the 19th century and in the first decades of the 20th, Warren County enjoyed an international reputation for its resorts, the Hunter House and Mudlavia Sulfo-Saline Springs. People travelled from across the US and around the world to take the curative mud baths and drink the mineral water. Though both hotels were gone before World War II, Mudlavia collectibles remain popular in antique shops and in online auctions.

The town of Pine Village staked its claim on history with one of the first great professional football teams in the United States. Claire Rhode recruited college stars, local boys and free agents to form a team which was not only undefeated but not even scored against in 1915. The team won the Independent Champion of the Midwest title in the days before the NFL organized and established a national championship. Pine Village lost only six games before disbanding in 1919. In their last game they beat the Akron team which won the national championship the following year. Seventeen Pine Village players went on to play with NFL teams in the early years of the league.

Warren County has changed gracefully with the years. The community has managed to preserve the quality of small-town life while bringing in modern industry and technology. A thriving group of local artists turns out stained and fused glass, museum dioramas, and country crafts. Retired farmers Boyd Crone and Audley Wiley have built a series of traditionally crafted yet modern log cabins which have been featured in Architectural Digest.

Recently, Warren County found itself in the headlines again when local basketball player Stephanie White-McCarty led the Purdue women’s team to the NCAA championship in 1999. Stephanie and her hometown of West Lebanon were featured in Sports Illustrated magazine. Stephanie went on to a career in the WNBA.

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