With Daviess County located a few miles from the first capital of the Indiana Northwest Territory and the heartbeat of western American expansion, bands of Indian warriors, British and French soldiers and American troops crisscrossed the county region in the 1700s and 1800s. No less than 11 small forts once guarded pioneers within the county, which was named for Colonel John Hamilton Daviess—a hero killed in action at the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe.
The county seat of Washington—originally named Liverpool in the early 1800s by a handful of pioneers—was once home to the transportation powerhouse called simply “The Shops.” Roughly halfway between Baltimore and St. Louis, the B&O Railroad once maintained a large-scale railroad repair facility and roundhouse in Washington that lifted the region out of the 1800s economic “Long Depression.” A $75,000 gamble by city officials paid off handsomely, as the B&O facility would employ thousands of engineers, administrators and yard-workers in the decades to come. Wealth generated by the railroad industry resulted in the construction of stately homes and businesses throughout the region, many of which are still standing.
No less than three national presidential candidates have made notable visits to the county seat of Washington, with Abraham Lincoln visiting the area a number of times and delivering an address to Washington residents on Main Street on October 25th, 1844. Richard Nixon formally kicked off his successful 1968 national campaign before a packed house of state dignitaries and local residents at the then-new gymnasium at Washington High School in February 1968. Even presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy made a storied visit to the city a few months later, shortly before making his historic remarks in Indianapolis upon the untimely death of Martin Luther King.