Orange County History
Orange County was formed from parts of Knox, Gibson and Washington Counties by an act approved on December 26, 1815; it took effect on February 1, 1816. The same year, the county seat was established in Paoli, which was named after Pasquale Paoli Ash, the 12 year old son of the Governor, at the time, of North Carolina .
The first courthouse was a temporary log structure that was built for $25; a more permanent structure of stone was completed in 1819 at a cost of $3,950. In 1847, plans were made for a new larger courthouse, which was completed in 1850 at a cost of $14,000. This building is the second oldest courthouse in the state that has been continuously used since its construction. Like the oldest in Ohio County, it is a Greek Revival building with two stories and a Doric portico supported by fluted columns; it has ornamental iron stairs and a clock tower. In 1970, the clock tower was damaged by fire.
The early settlers were mostly Quakers fleeing the institution of slavery in Orange County, North Carolina. Jonathan Lindley brought his group of Quakers from North Carolina to the area in 1811. Under Lindley’s leadership, they were the first to build a religious structure, the Lick Creek Meeting House in 1813. It was from this group that Orange County got its name. (See List of Indiana county name etymologies). The name Orange derives from the Dutch Protestant House of Orange, which acquired the English throne with the accession of King William III in 1689, following the Glorious Revolution.
In the early 19th century when the Quakers came from North Carolina to settle in Orange County, Indiana, they came to escape slavery. They brought with them a number of freed slaves. These free men were deeded 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land in the heart of a dense forest. Word of mouth soon spread the news, and this land became part of the "underground railroad" for runaway slaves.
For many years, the freed slaves in this area farmed, traded, and sold their labor to others while living in this settlement. A church was built and a cemetery was provided for their loved ones.
All that remains today is the cemetery. Some of the stones were broken or vandalized over the years. Several years ago, a troop of Boy Scouts came in and restored the cemetery, replacing the lost or broken stones with wooden crosses designating a grave. The name of "Little Africa" came about because of the black settlement, but "Paddy's Garden" was the name those early residents called it.
Orange County is located in the south part of the state. It is bordered by Lawrence County to the north; Martin and Dubois counties to the west; Crawford County to the south; and Washington County to the east. According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 408.19 square miles (1,057.2 km2), of which 398.39 square miles (1,031.8 km2) (or 97.60%) is land and 9.80 square miles (25.4 km2) (or 2.40%) is water.
Orange County contains four incorporated settlements. The largest is the county seat of Paoli, which lies near the center of the county. To the north of Paoli lies Orleans. To the west, French Lick and West Baden Springs are connected but are separate entities.
There are several small unincorporated settlements in the county. Chambersburg lies along U.S. Route 150 about 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Paoli. To the east of Orleans in the northeast corner of the county is the town of Leipsic. Prospect is on U.S. Route 150 just north of West Baden Springs. Orangeville is northwest of Paoli, near the center of Orangeville Township. In the southeast corner of the county, Valeene lies near the center of Southeast Township.