Gibson County is a county located in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Indiana and is included in the Evansville, Indiana–Kentucky Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2010, the population was 33,503. The county seat is Princeton.
The first white settler of Gibson County was John Severns. He was a native of Wales and came with his parents to America several years before the Revolutionary War. He settled in Gibson County in 1789-90 on the south bank of the Patoka River at a place now known as Severns Bridge. Another early Gibson County settler was William Hargrove, who came from Kentucky by pack mule in 1803; Captain Hargrove commanded a company of militia from Gibson County at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.
The Rev. Joseph Milburn, along with his son, Robert Milburn, also arrived in 1803. They settled near Princeton, between the Patoka and White Rivers. The Milburns were from the area of Washington County, Kentucky. Rev. Milburn, a Baptist, established the first church; Robert established the first distillery in Indiana.
In 1805, Jacob Warrick arrived, along with his father-in-law, Thomas Montgomery. They burned out the last Indian village in 1807, chasing the inhabitants into the Illinois Territory. Captain Warrick was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.
Gibson County was organized in 1813 out of Knox County. The county was named for John Gibson, an officer in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. Gibson was Secretary of the Indiana Territory, serving as acting Governor on two occasions. The two counties of Gibson County and Warrick County separated by Rector's Base Line, were formed March 9, 1813 and organized on April 1, 1813. Gibson County occupied everything from Wabash River and from the White River's extension to the Paoli Base Line down the 2d Principal Meridian to the Rector's Base Line separated the southern half to form Warrick County, which covered the area south of the rector's Base Line from the 2d Principal Meridian west to the Wabash River and down the Wabash River and with meanders up the Ohio River to the 2d Principal Meridian, which had separated Knox County from Harrison County, Indiana Territory. The counties of Warrick, Orange, Perry, Spencer, Posey, Pike, Dubois, Crawford, and Vanderburgh, and part of Lawrence County all came from the roughly area occupied by the original Gibson County.
When the county was organized, Patoka was initially intended to be the county seat. However, Patoka's low-lying location along the Patoka River gave rise to a malaria epidemic; to avoid this, the commissioners chose to establish a new town, eventually known as Princeton, on higher ground approximately south. However, although Princeton contends that it was the only county seat, some contend that county records indicate that Owensville was a temporary county seat since Princeton was not even laid out until late 1814, at least a year after Gibson County's organization.
Note: The Gibson-Warrick county boundary differed slightly in 1850 from its alignment in 1830-40 and 1860-1990.