Bicentennial Celebration Ending: The greatest gift from Sir Francis Vigo

Sir Francis Vigo put in his will that Vigo County would receive $500 to help pay for the bell, but you may not know, it took the county several years to actually get that money.

Posted: Jan 23, 2019 6:29 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2019 9:14 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Linda Jeffries not only works in the Vigo County Courthouse. She also serves as the building's historian. News 10 met up with her to learn more about one of the county's biggest pieces of history.

"The bell is under a restricted area because the traverse is very perilous," said Jeffries.

It’s a ten-minute climb through the empty halls of the courthouse, but in the middle of the courthouse tower is the house of the bell.

Sir Francis Vigo put in his will that Vigo County would receive $500 to help pay for the bell, but you may not know, it took the county several years to actually get that money.

The reasoning is Francis Vigo had loaned it to the US Government during the Revolutionary War before he died. It took years of legal battles before the government repaid Vigo’s Estate.

"And they honored that request and sent the money. Vigo County added funds to it and purchased the bell that now hangs in the bell tower," said Jeffries.

There is evidence of his gracious gift on the side of the bell. That's where there’s an inscription on it saying “By his will, $500 dollars of the cost of this bell was presented by Francis Vigo."

What others also don't know is that there was another bell that called Vigo County’s first courthouse home. There was a prior bell that was used in the first Vigo County courthouse that still rings in Terre Haute.

Allen Chapel down the road from the courthouse is where this original bell hangs, and it’s where it rings every Sunday. For historians like Jeffries, these bells do more than ring out for all to hear. They remind us of what we've done to get where we are today.

"History forgotten, we repeat the mistakes of the past. When we talk about what we really have here it’s critical that we know that we keep in mind where we come from," said Jeffries.

This Story wraps up the Bicentennial of Vigo County. News 10 hopes everyone has enjoyed it as we reflected on the past 200 years.

You can help preserve the next 200 years of history by helping out the Vigo County Historical Society. The society is still collecting donations for its new museum location. If you would like to donate to the cause check out their website here.

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