The Origin of Boonville’s Name and History
Boonville bears the family name of Ratliff Boon, Warrick County’s most illustrious citizen and public official. Whether or not it was named for Ratliff, as is generally stated, or for his father, Jesse (who is buried in Harpole Cemetery just West of Boonville), 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.
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, 1819-1822, and was acting governorof Indiana in 1822, from September 12 to December 4th. In the U.S. Congress he was a member of the House for six terms during 1825-1827 and 1829-1839. He was President Jackson’s “faithful among the faithless”. In 1839 he moved to Missouri. On November 20, 1844 Ratliff died and was interred in Riverview Cemetery, Louisiana, Pike County, MO.
Ratliff Boon was said to be a cousin of Kentucky’s famed Daniel Boone. However, this has not been confirmed in any historical documents or genealogies.
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.
In its first 45+ years of incorporation Boonville was a town with a board of trustees. In 1906 it became a city governed by a mayor and common council. In 1958, Boonville completed a century of municipal government. It has been over 60 years since that centennial celebration and Boonville has continued to expand with new growth and a vibrant town square.
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