Welcome to Sullivan county Indiana

The county's first settlement occurred between 1808 and 1812, by a religious society of celibates known as Shakers. The 400 members of this communal group occupied 1,300 acres, seven miles west of Carlisle.

In 1815, Carlisle was founded.

Sullivan County was formed on 30 December 1816 from Knox county; was organized by an act of Legislature, which became effective January 15, 1817. It was named for Daniel Sullivan, said by some sources to have been a Revolutionary War general killed by Native Americans while carrying a dispatch between Fort Vincennes and Louisville.

Sullivan county is 447 square miles in size.

Sullivan County is divided into 9 Civil Townships as follows: Cass, Curry, Fairbanks, Gill, Haddon, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson and Turman.

Carlisle was the first county seat, although “unofficial.” The records were kept in a private home.

A log courthouse in Merom served as Sullivan County's first “official” county seat from 1819-1842, complete with a log courthouse. Merom was an important river port and a stop on the stage route known as The Old Harrison Trail. The Merom courthouse caught fire in 1821, destroying some precious records.

On February 15, 1841, the Legislature passed an act that provided for a board of commissioners to select a new seat of justice, to be located as near the center of the county as possible. Sullivan, then an unbroken wilderness, was selected and the present town was platted. The formal transfer of records took place in 1843into another log courthouse. By 1849 it contained the Courthouse, Jail, County Seminary, Churches for the Methodists and Reformers, and 400 inhabitants.

The Courthouse, along with all records, was destroyed by fire February 6, 1850.

Most of the early county records were destroyed between the couthuse fires at Merom and Sullivan.

The new courthouse was completed on January 1, 1852

Sullivan was founded in 1853 and became the county seat.

In 1968 Sullivan County Park and Lake was founded. It contains a 468-acre reservoir in 1968 for swimming, boating and fishing. Sullivan County Park and Lake has 400 acres of land for camping as well as a 9-hole golf course.

The Sullivan County Library’s Genealogy and Local History Department is a great resource for those seeking their family connections in that county. The library has on microfilm many of the surviving or re-recorded county records, such as marriages, wills, probate records, deeds, delayed birth records, and naturalization records. In addition they have on their shelves a good collection of indexed census records, church histories, death records, cemetery records, obituaries, funeral home records, and family histories. The library is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday noon to 5 p.m. The staff will also do research on a particular query for a small price. To submit a query, contact Donna K. Adams at dadams@sullivan.lib.in.us or (812) 268-4957.

If it’s Sullivan County history you are interested in, try visiting the Sullivan County Historical Society at 10 S. Court St. in Sullivan. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Membership in the society are at the levels of individual or couple, student, and corporate sponsorship; contact the society for more information. Members will receive a bi-monthly newsletter that includes articles on local and family history, queries, and information on meetings and upcoming events.

Counties Surrounding Sullivan County

Vigo Clay Greene Knox


Clark Crawford Lawrence

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