Welcome to Indiana’s Territorial Past, located in Vincennes and Knox County.

Indiana’s first city is the perfect getaway for history enthusiasts.

‘History’ Category

Get Reacquainted with Local History

Maybe you were born and raised here, or maybe you’re looking to visit. Getting reacquainted with local history is something easy that anyone can do, without driving hours away.

Fort Knox II

Fort Knox II was built in 1803, three miles north of Vincennes on the Wabash River. The fort’s location is outlined with short posts and interpretive markers which tell the story of the site.

George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

The park features a massive granite memorial which commemorates the conquest of the Old Northwest Territory. It is the largest national monument outside of Washington, D.C. The Memorial is located on the site of the former British Fort Sackville which was captured by Colonel George Rogers Clark and his army of 170 frontiersmen and Frenchmen.

The moment of the fort’s surrender on February 25, 1779 marks the birth of the United States north of the Ohio River. Docents are available to give tours during hours of operation. The park’s Visitor Center is handicap-accessible and features exhibits, a gift shop and a 30 minute movie presentation . *Unfortunately the monument is not handicap accessible.

Grouseland, President William Henry Harrison Mansion

Grouseland is the home of William Henry Harrison, then governor of the Indiana territory, later ninth president of the United States. Built in 1803-1804, it was saved from destruction and restored by the Francis Vigo Chapter of the DAR in 1911. Grouseland was the focal point of the social and official life of the territory. Now open for tours, it is furnished with pieces from the time period including some of Harrison’s possessions.

Indiana Military Museum

The Indiana Military Museum has one of the most outstanding displays in the Midwest spanning the Civil War through WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and current engagements.

The newly-opened Annex exhibit space displays feature tanks, artillery and aircraft and the indoor museum showcases uniforms, flags, battlefield relics, captured enemy souvenirs, WWII toys, home front items and vehicles.

Exhibits include an authentic WWII Homefront and WWII barracks from George Field, military aircraft, vehicles, artillery, uniforms, related artifacts and more. The annex is included with museum admission. To begin your tour at the Indiana Military Museum, check in at the brick building.

Knox County Veteran Memorial Park

This impressive monument is dedicated to the veterans of Knox County who served in the civil war through current military engagements.

McGrady-Brockman House

The McGrady Brockman House is the Knox County Public Library’s history/genealogy center and the repository documents from the Old Northwest Territory as well as the Indiana Territory. Housed in the facility are the Library’s Historical Collection, genealogy materials from the Byron R. Lewis Historical library, the Francis Vigo chapter DAR library and original records from the Knox County Records library. The majority of Knox County’s records can be found in the building, as well as extensive published sources on other Indiana and Illinois counties, and on states such as Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina, that fed the migration to this area. When Knox County was created, it was not only a part of Indiana but also included Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and parts of Wisconsin.

Old Cathedral

The current Old Cathedral was built in 1826, and stands on the site of three previous churches. The first was a crude log structure built about 1732, where the first Catholic parish in Indiana was formed. Four bishops are buried in the crypt of the current Cathedral, and the adjoining cemetery is the final resting place of over 4,000 early citizens of Vincennes.

Located behind the Old Cathedral, is the oldest library in Indiana containing ten thousand rare volumes and documents. The oldest document in the collection is a Papal Bull issued by Pope John XXII, dated 1319. The oldest book is a 13th century illuminated manuscript volume on vellum of the Officium Sanctae Mariae. Artifacts on display include prehistoric stone tools, 18th and 19th century maps and paintings, Governor William Henry Harrison’s peace pipe, Shawnee Warrior Tecumseh’s war club, various chalices, Abraham Lincoln’s campaign banner and many other items too numerous to mention.

Old French House & Indian Museum

The Old French House is an excellent example of French Creole architecture. Home of Michael Brouillet, built in 1809, and furnished much as it would have been in that period. The Old French House is operated by the Vincennes State Historic Sites.

 

Old State Bank

The Old State Bank was the Vincennes branch of the State Bank of Indiana in 1838 and is an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture with massive Doric columns and triangular pediment.

Vincennes State Historic Sites

The original territorial capitol was used from 1800 to 1813 while Vincennes was the capitol of the Indiana Territory. It is considered the oldest major government building in the Midwest. A replica of the Jefferson Academy is used to interpret the first college in Indiana, the direct predecessor of Vincennes University.

The Elihu Stout Print Shop is a replica of the building where the first newspaper, the Indiana Gazette was published featuring an authentic Ramage press of the era.

The Thompson birthplace is a small frame house where the author of Alice of Old Vincennes was born. An 1830’s style Log Cabin serves at the Visitors Center.

Last Minute Summer Fun with Kids

With trails, playgrounds, and museums made for kids, we’ve got everything you need to have a fun day with your kids before school starts back up!

WALK OR BIKE THE RIVERWALK

If you’re looking for a relaxing walk or bike ride location, the Downtown Riverwalk is the perfect place to go. Spanning Main Street to Hart Street with access from either street, the walk is perfect for kids to let out some energy.

Also check it out on Monday nights for Food Truck Monday’s.

TRY FARM-FRESH FOODS AT THE FARMERS’ MARKET

With colorful produce, the smell of freshly baked pastries and various artisan vendors, there’s something to captivate all your senses at every turn at the Vincennes Historic Farmers Market.

GET IN-TOUCH WITH KNOX COUNTY’S HISTORY

Take the kids to learn about the history of WWII at the Indiana Military Museum, featuring displays with tanks, battlefield relics, captured enemy souvenirs and more.

Next, visit the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy to let the kids do what they do best: touch everything! This fully interactive museum focuses on Red’s life and the many characters whom he brought to life through his radio and television shows.

Your kids will be begging to return to these two historic sites, even when school is back in session.

SPLASH AROUND 

When the dog days of summer become too much, head over to Rainbow Beach for some fun at the pool! With water slides and a splash pad area, this family-fun space has something for kids of all ages!

Also be sure to check out the Splash Pads around town located at various parks.

When play time at the pool is over, be sure to stick around Gregg Park and go to one of the many playground areas.

TAKE A HIKE

4 miles of marked trails, picnic areas and playgrounds are what’s in store at Quabache Trails Park. If you’re looking for an overnight adventure, check out their modern rental cabins and RV sites, complete with a full service shower house facility, laundry service center and a whole lot of fun.

If you’re interested in bringing your furry friends along, the Knox County Dog Park is a great place to take them and let them explore.

 

Rainy summer day? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Check out our Rainy Day blog for things to do while you wait for the storms to pass.

The 14th Annual Red Skelton Festival

The 14th Annual Red Skelton Festival is this Saturday, July 20th at the Red Skelton Museum. Join us in celebrating the comedy genius that was Red Skelton. Festivities begin on Friday at 7pm.

Friday

7 pm – Red Skelton impersonator, Brian Hoffman will perform with an opening act by J.J. Jones, a world-renowned mime!

Tickets: $15/adult; $5/students 13 & under

 

Saturday

11 am – 3 pm – Kids can enjoy bounce houses and carnival games with prizes, food vendors will be serving up special treats for all!

11 am – Be sure to get your seat for one of the funnest parades that Vincennes has to offer! The parade will run down 5th & Main Street down Second Street to finish up at the Red Skelton Museum and Festival.

12 pm – Clown Follies on the outside stage with guest clowns and JJ Mime! 

12:30 – 2 pm – Tribute to Tim Conway, the 2019 “Red Skelton America’s Clown Award Winner” with sketches of Tim Conway on the Red Skelton Hour.

1 pm – Take a seat and catch the Circle City Clown Band!

1:30 pm – Do you love donuts? Join in on the Donut Eating Contest!

2 pm – Be amazed by the Magic of Chippo the Clown at the outside stage!

2:30 pm – A crowd favorite, the Bath Tub Race will take place on the festival grounds.

2:30 – 5 pm – The day ends with the showing of “Du Barry was a Lady,” Hosted by Dr. Annette Bochenek.

You may purchase a festival button for $5, which is good for museum entry on Saturday the 20th.

Weekend Happenings

Kickoff the Easter weekend at Bicknell’s Friday Night Flashlight “Eggstrvaganza” located at Northside Park in Bicknell. This FREE event is open to children ages 10 – 17 and will begin at dark around 8:30pm. Participants must bring their own basket and flashlight. Enjoy candy and prizes! For more information, please call 812.381.4583.

On Saturday April 20th hop on down to Gregg Park and join the fun at the Community-Wide Easter Egg Hunt! Children will be divided into four age groups, registration begins at 10:00am and the hunt starts at 10:30am. Register for great prizes and bring your camera for photos with the Easter Bunny! For more information please call the VPRD Office at 812.882.1140.

National Parks Week will be celebrated at the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park on Saturday as well.  From 11am to 4 pm Park volunteers will be offering a variety of demonstrations throughout the day including historic weapons demonstrations, cooking, and many more. The day also serves as National Junior Ranger Day and Junior Rangers are invited to the park to complete the parks Junior Ranger activity sheet and earn a badge.

Weekend Happenings

STEP OUT TO THESE GREAT EVENTS THIS WEEKEND…

This last weekend of March features two family-friendly events you won’t want to miss.  On Saturday from 9:00am – 5:00pm and Sunday from 9:00am – 4:00pm, the Indiana Military Museum is hosting a living history event paying tribute to “The Great War”, WWI.  Hundreds of WWI artifacts will be on exhibit including a 100-yard re-created WWI trench, artillery, vehicles and living history displays. Battles will be re-enacted both days with representatives of Allied and German troops. FREE admission to outdoor events! Visit the Indiana Military Museum website for more information on the museum and upcoming events.

Also on Saturday, the rangers of George Rogers Clark and volunteers are providing the public with an opportunity to fly your kite into the sky at Kite Day! Participants are welcome to bring their own kites or make one at the park, kite kits are limited. Contact the park staff at 812.882.1776 extension 210 with any questions.

Come to see these impressive museums and what they have to offer!

Celebrating George Rogers Clark and his Accomplishments

Kick off the 240th anniversary celebration of the capture of British-held Fort Sackville by Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark, the public is invited to three events hosted by George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.

A program on early Vincennes financier, Francis Vigo will be presented by Dr. David Nichols on Friday, February 22. During the program, Dr. Nichols, an Associate Professor of History at Indiana State University will focus on Francis Vigo and the vital role that he played in Clark’s campaign. The presentation will take place at 6:30pm (ET) at the George Rogers Clark Visitor Center, 401 S. 2nd Street.

In 1779, Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark captured British-held Fort Sackville in Vincennes. The public is invited to take part in the experience of one of the greatest feats in the American Revolution on Saturday, February 23. During the Clark March, participants will have the opportunity to engage in the annually-held five-mile walk or 12-mile walk.  For more information and to reserve your spot on the buses for either walk, please contact the visitor center at 812-882-1776 x. 1210.
Also marking George Rogers Clark’s great victory, the rangers of George Rogers Clark NHP invite the public to tour the battlefield of 240 years ago. This program will be presented at 5:00pm (ET) on Saturday, February 23 behind the George Rogers Clark Visitor Center. Tours of the battlefield will be conducted highlighted by talking with different participants involved in the battle. A historic weapons demonstration will be included in the program.
The 240th Anniversary of the siege and the surrender of British Fort Sackville ceremony will be conducted 11:00am (ET) in the rotunda of the George Rogers Clark Memorial, 401 S. 2nd Street. The program includes the presentation of colors by the Indiana Society Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard, patriotic tunes being sung by Juliet Gilchrist of Vincennes University’s Music Department, and a presentation pertaining to the Clark Memorial by National Park Service Rangers Joe Herron and Jason Collins. The public is invited to the free event.

The Annual Clark Day Luncheon will follow directly after the ceremony at St. Francis Xavier/Old Cathedral Parish Center (106 S. Third Street). The cost of the luncheon is $13/person; a drink and dessert are included with the meal. For tickets, please call Dennis Latta at 812.726.5333. *Reservation deadline is Saturday, February 23, 5:00pm.

2018 Knox County Watermelon Festival

The Annual Knox County Watermelon Festival is this Friday and Saturday at Patrick Henry Square, Vincennes, IN. The festival is a free two-day event filled with contests, concerts, and of course, FREE watermelon! There will be food booths set up both days of the festival. Be sure to stop by either Friday or Saturday for a great family-friendly event!

The festival begins Friday the 3rd at 5:00pm and on Saturday the 4th at 9:00am. The schedule will proceed as listed:

Friday

5:00pm – Vendor Booths Open

  • Food and craft vendors will be lining the street both Friday and Saturday.

5:00pm – Carnival Opens

  • Bring your kids down to Patrick Henry Square for some kids attractions and carnival rides!

5:30pm – Miss Amazing Pageant

  • The mission of Miss Amazing is to provide an opportunity for girls and young women with disabilities to build confidence in a supportive environment. Come out and cheer these amazing ladies on!

7:00pm – Free Concert by Jared & Luke

  • Jared & Luke are a Knox Co. favorite! Be sure to stay for their show Friday night.

Saturday

10:00am – Baby/Toddler Contest

  • All babies are cute, but sign your baby or toddler up for the Baby/Toddler contest to kick off the festival Saturday morning.

1:30pm – 3:30pm – Free Concert by Heath Eric & Molly G

  • Heath & Molly present a professional, passionate, and authentic blend of Rock and Americana. You won’t want to miss this performance!

3:30pm – Seed Spitting Contest

  • Think you can spit watermelon seeds further than your friend? Bring your competition and spit those seeds as far as you can!

4:30pm – Pet Contest

  • Do you have the cutest pet in Knox County? Be sure to register for the Cutest Pet Contest! All proceeds go to the Vincennes Animal Shelter.

6:00pm – Miss Watermelon Pageant

  • The purpose behind this pageant is to award on deserving female high school student a one-time $500 scholarship for their chosen field. This scholarship is made possible by the Illiana Watermelon Association.

The Farbest Foods BBQ Grill Off will take place all day on Saturday.

  • Think you’re BBQ is the best of the best? Test your skills at the Farbest Foods Grill Off!

 

Also be sure to check out The Vincennes Brewing Co. this weekend! They will be releasing their Watermelon Wheat Beer that is made with melons from Mouzin Brothers and helped made by the Knox County Home Brewers Association.

For more information on how to enter these contests, check out the official 2018 Knox County Watermelon Festival page on Facebook, hosted by the Knox County Chamber of Commerce!

Vincennes Rendezvous

The 42nd Annual Rendezvous will be held next weekend on May 26-27, 2018. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the American Revolutionary War period! This year’s theme is the French Marines. All of the old favorites are back including Creek Fried Potatoes, the Amazing Budabi Brothers jugglers and more!

New this year is a French citizen of Vincennes camp who will portray the early French of Vincennes. This will also include some French Marines who were the military force on the frontier. Vincennes founder Sieur de Vincennes was a French Marine officer and a statue will be dedicated in his honor on Saturday at 2pm on the Riverwalk located at 1st and Main Streets.

Battle re-enactments will be held on Saturday at 1pm and 4pm and on Sunday at noon and 3:30pm.

The ever popular candlelight tours of Grouseland and the Vincennes State Historic Sites will take place on Saturday evening.

Two day advance buttons can be purchased at the Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and local banks. Buttons also serve as a pass for shuttle service to the State Historic Sites and Grouseland during the event.

For more information visit, https://www.spiritofvincennes.org/

Six More Weeks of Winter

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning which means we can expect six more weeks of winter weather.  To help you pass the time we have put together a list of Winter Activities to consider.

Visit 1972 for laser tag, video games, rock climbing, foot darts, and more!  Admission is charged.

Bundle up and hike the trails at Ouabache Trails Park or take a stroll on the Riverwalk.

Take in a production at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center or other local theater.

Visit the Red Skelton Museum and you’re sure to leave laughing.  The fully interactive Museum explores Red’s life and career as well as American Comedy.

Warm up with a coffee drink at I’Mpressed Coffee Shop.

Take a swim at the YMCA during open swim times.  Membership is required, visit their website or app for swim times.

Feed your creative side at one of the downtown art galleries.  Exhibits are changed regularly and many pieces are available for sale.

Check out a new book at the Knox County Public Library.  Stay and read or cuddle up with the book at home.

Brush up on your Indiana history by touring our local historic sites, George Rogers Clark NHP, Grouseland, and the Vincennes State Historic Sites.  George Rogers Clark has free admission.

Meet a friend at the newly opened Vincennes Brewing Company or Windy Knoll Winery for an adult beverage!  Must be 21 to visit either location.

Tour the Indiana Military Museum for look at military artifacts spanning the Civil War through current military engagements.

Ladies can get some retail therapy shopping downtown at several of the new boutiques and some of their old favorites too!

Stop by the Visitors Bureau, 779 South 6th Street, to pick up 2018 Indiana Festival or Travel guides and explore our great state!

US Mint Quarter Ceremony in Vincennes

The United States Mint will release the 40th quarter in the America the Beautiful collection.  A ceremony marking the coin’s release will be held at the Riverfront Pavilion, 102 North 2nd Street, Vincennes on Tuesday, November 14th at 10am with a coin exchange immediately following.  The Indiana quarter features George Rogers Clark and his men crossing the flooded Wabash.  Clark’s daring surprise capture of the British Fort Sackville is considered one of the greatest feats of the American Revolutionary War.  The capture successfully limited British control of the region and was instrumental in the subsequent establishment of the Northwest Territory and American expansion west of the Appalachians.  This is the second quarter celebrating Indiana released by the US Mint in recent years.

A Coin Forum will be held by the United States Mint the evening before the ceremony on Monday, November 13th at 6pm at the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park Visitors Center.   The park is located at 401 South 2nd Street in Vincennes and features a massive granite memorial located on the former Fort Sackville.  The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm.