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Howard County History

Village on the Wildcat Part Three - The Residue of the Reserve

(from Footprints, May 2019)
By Gil Porter

Kokomo Early History Learning Center

As the northern area of Indiana took shape with the arrival of Euro-Americans and the removal of the Indian tribes by treaties, Indiana’s state legislature in 1835 named 14 new "paper" counties for organization, thus effectively uniting the entire state of Indiana from south to north. These entities completely surrounded the 900-square-mile Big Miami Reserve, the largest territory in the state not incorporated into an existing county and all that remained of collectively held land for the Miami tribe of Indians.
Two sections of the reserve – the western Seven Mile Strip in 1834 and the northern Five Mile Strip in 1838 -- had been siphoned to help subsidize the Wabash & Erie Canal and were the first areas surveyed and sold to settlers. In March 1838, the Indiana General Assembly informed Congress in Washington, D.C., that the remaining reserve land will “in a few years, become very valuable” and formally requested that the state be allowed to “purchase the whole of said lands” to “aid in the prosecution” of “public works” for its new citizens. On Feb. 16, 1839, the Indiana legislature then “temporarily” assigned “the untouched central area” of the reserve to adjoining counties for judicial purposes and this "residue" was designated to be “Richardville” county ”at such time as the Indian title shall be extinguished. …” The Forks of the Wabash treaty in Huntington in November 1840 was all but a fait accompli.

For five years, settlers poured in ahead of the public land survey, much of the Miami population prepared for a wrenching removal, and the legislature in Indianapolis more than once heard from the "citizens of Richardville county" who were "praying for its organization." On Jan. 10, 1844, debate began on the bill in the General Assembly that would finally organize the last two named counties in Indiana. Tipton was actually introduced with the name “Cicero” (the Tipton name had been considered for other counties as early as 1840 and on its own in 1843). The name “Richardville” was challenged when an amendment sought to “strike the word Richardville and replace it with Whitcomb” (James Whitcomb was Indiana’s governor).

This name change was defeated, the bill was approved, and on Jan. 15, 1844, the new counties of Tipton and Richardville were born, at least on paper.