City History

The Origin of Boonville’s Name and History

Boonville bears the family name of Ratliff Boon, Warrick County’s most illustrious citizens and public official.  Whether or not it was named for Ratliff, as is generally stated, or for his father, Jesse, or a son, as some historians assert, undoubtedly Ratliff Boon, born January 18th, 1781, was most influential in the establishment of Boonville and Boon township in which it is located.

Ratliff Boon was a cousin of Kentucky’s famed Daniel Boone.  Daniel’s father, Squire Boone, was brother to Ratliff’s grandfather, Joseph Boon.  They were sons of George Boone III, a Quaker, born in England in 1666, immigrating to Pennsylvania in 1717.

Ratliff Boon came to the Warrick county area in 1809, was commissioned a lieutenant in the territorial militia in 1812 and rose to Colonel of the Tenth Regiment in 1817.  With the formation of Warrick County in 1813, he was the first county treasurer and was active in public life for 25 years.  He was a member of territorial assembly and each house of the state legislature.  He was Lieutenant governor of Indiana, 1819-1824, and was acting governor of Indiana in 1824, from September 12 to December 4th.  In the U.S. Congress he was a member of the House for five terms during 1824-1838.  He was President Jackson’s “faithful among the faithless”.  In 1838 he moved to Missouri. On November 20, 1844 Ratliff Boon was buried in Louisiana cemetery in Pike County of that state.

In this centennial year of 1958, Boonville completes a century of municipal government.  In its 100 years of incorporation Boonville was a town with a board of trustees until 1906 when it became a city of governed by a mayor and common council.

Boonville had existed as a community with a platted street system for 40 years before incorporation in 1858.  A commission authorized by the Indiana Legislature in 1818 selected the present site of Boonville, to be the location of a new county for the revised Warrick County.  Large areas of Warrick, on the east and west, had been ordered removed for the formation of Spencer and Vanderburgh counties, and a county seat nearer to the center of the reshaped county appeared to be more desirable that where I then was at Darlington, near the Ohio river about two miles east of the mouth of Cypress Creek. 

The first Courthouse 1851-1905 was located in the center of the public square amid many towering trees.  The Courthouse was remodeled in 1904 and presently houses the Health Department, Veterans Affairs, Plain Commission, Commissioners offices, Emergency Management, as well as many other offices.

This and more information can be found at the Warrick County Museum located at 217 South First Street, Boonville, IN 47601 Phone: 812-897-3100