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Jeffersonville ( ) is a city in Clark Countymarker, Indianamarker, along the Ohio River. Locally, the city is often referred to by the abbreviated name Jeff. It is directly across the Ohio River to the north of Louisville, Kentuckymarker along I-65. The population was 30,479 at the July 2008 census. The city is the county seat of Clark Countymarker. .



In 1786 Fort Finney was situated where the Kennedy Bridgemarker is today, to protect the area from Indians, and a settlement grew around the fort. The fort was renamed in 1791 to Fort Steuben, to honor Baron von Steuben. In 1793 the fort was abandoned. Precisely when the settlement became known as Jeffersonville is unclear, but it was probably about 1801. In 1802 local residents used a grid pattern designed by Thomas Jefferson for the formation of a city, and Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison decided to name the new city after Jefferson. Jeffersonville would be the only city ever designed by Jefferson. On September 13, 1803, a post office was established in the city. In 1808 Indiana's second federal land sale office was established in Jeffersonville, after the first was established in Vincennesmarker in 1807, initiating the growth of the white population in Indiana that was further spurred by the end of the War of 1812.

Shortly after formation, Jeffersonville was named to be the county seat of Clark County in 1802, replacing Springvillemarker. In 1812 Charlestownmarker was named the county seat, but the county seat returned to Jeffersonville in 1878, where it remains.

In 1813 and 1814 Jeffersonville was briefly the de facto capital of the Indiana Territory, as then-governor Thomas Posey disliked then-capital Corydonmarker, and wanting to be closer to his personal physician in Louisville, decided to live in Jeffersonville. However, it is debated by some that Dennis Pennington had some involvement to his location to Jeffersonville. The territorial legislature remained in Corydon and communicated with Posey by messenger.

Civil War

The American Civil War increased the importance of Jeffersonville. Jeffersonville was one of the principal gateways to the South during the Civil War, due to its being directly across from Louisville. It was served by three railroads from the north and had the waterway of the Ohio River. Naturally, this influenced its selection as one of the principal bases for supplies and troops for the Union Army. Operating in the South, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad furnished the connecting link between Louisville and the rest of the South. Camp Joe Holtmarker was instrumental in keeping Kentucky within the Union. The third largest American Civil War hospital, Jefferson General Hospital was located in nearby Port Fultonmarker (now within Jeffersonville) from 1864-1866, as it was close to the river and Louisville. The original land was seized by the Government from the Honorable Jesse D. Bright, United States Senator, a sympathizer of the Confederate cause. During the war it housed 16,120 patients in its 5,200 beds and was under the command of Dr. Middleton Goldsmith. A cemetery was built for fallen soldiers down the hill, but the wooden grave markers by 1927 had rotted away, causing the Jeffersonville city council to build a ball field over the cemetery, and not bothering to move the graves, located on Crestview Avenue. The Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot had its first beginning in the early days of the Civil War, near its present location.


By 1870 17% of Jeffersonville residents were foreign-born. Most of these were from Germanymarker.During the 1920s, Jeffersonville was a popular gathering place for the Ku Klux Klan, as Louisville and New Albany had strong anti-KKK laws and Jeffersonville didn't.

City Hall in the Quadrangle complex
Gambling in the 1930s and 1940s was instrumental in Jeffersonville's recovery from the Great Depression and the Flood of 1937. Casinos, betting parlors, night clubs, and even a dog track were present, giving the town the nickname "Little Las Vegasmarker". After a New Albanymarker businessman was gunned down, public sentiment turned against gambling. On January 2, 1948, Indiana State Police raided every casino in the city before the operators could warn each other, and the judge who had devoted the past nine years in eliminating gambling from Jeffersonville, James L. Bottorff, made sure that the equipment was confiscated and the money at the casinos given to charity. It is memories of this that kept Jeffersonville residents from voting to approve riverboat gambling in the 1990s. In 2006 riverboat gambling was approved, but for the return of gambling to occur the Indiana State legislature would either have to approve an additional riverboat, or one of the existing riverboats in Indiana would have to relocate to Jeffersonville; presumably, it would be one of the three currently serving the Cincinnatimarker market.

During World War II the Quartermaster Depot in conjunction with Fort Knox, Kentuckymarker housed Germanmarker prisoners of war until 1945. Now the Depot is used as a shopping center.

Ship building

In 1819 the first shipbuilding took place in Jeffersonville, and steamboats would become key to Jeffersonville's economy. James Howard made his first steamboat in 1834 in Jeffersonville named the Hyperion. He established his ship building company in Jeffersonville in 1834 but later moved his business to Madison, Indianamarker in 1836 and remained there until 1844. He returned his business to the Jeffersonville area to its final location in Port Fulton, Indianamarker in 1849. In 1925 the United States Navy assumed control of the Howard Ship Yards until 1941, after Jeffersonville finally annexed Port Fulton. During the Second World War the ship yards built landing vessels like the LST. It was later established as the Jeffersonville Boat & Machine Company, later simply known as Jeffboat, which still supports the local economy. The history of shipbuilding in Jeffersonville is the focus of the Howard Steamboat Museummarker. There was an annual festival held on the second weekend in September called Steamboat Days, but lack of participation led to its demise.


On February 5, 2008 the city of Jeffersonville officially annexed four out of six planned annex zones. Two of the zones not being annexed were put off due to law suits. The four areas annexed added about to the city and about 4,500 citizens raising the population to an estimated 33,100. The total area planned to be annexed is . The annexed areas receive planning and zoning, building permits and drainage issues services right away with new in-city sewer rates which are lower. Other services are being phased in such as police and fire and will work jointly with the pre-existing non-city services until they're available. One of the other two areas remaining to be annexed is Oak Park, Indianamarker an area of about 5,000 more citizens.

Just weeks after the February 5 annexation of the four plots the Clark County Courts dismissed the law suits on February 25, 2008 against the city. This dismissal of the court cases brings the remaining Oak Park area into the city. The population of the city is now expected to be 38,100 citizens and is the largest annexation in Jeffersonville's history.


Jeffersonville is located at (38.295669, -85.731485) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.6 square miles (35.2 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 27,362 people, 11,643 households, and 7,241 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,014.7 people per square mile (777.9/km²). There were 12,402 housing units at an average density of 913.2/sq mi (352.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.50% White, 13.68% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.84% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.65% from other races, and 1.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.80% of the population.

There were 11,643 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.3% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,234, and the median income for a family was $45,264. Males had a median income of $32,491 versus $24,738 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,656. About 6.9% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.9% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.

Dining and bars

Jeffersonville has a mix of restaurants that range in popularity along the river front and downtown. The city is scattered with smaller scale bars, restaurants and fast food chains in areas such as the Quadrangle in which the Town Hall is now located and other shopping centers. Jeffersonville is most known for its being the birthplace of the national pizza chain Papa John's Pizza. The pizza chain started in Mick's Lounge, a local bar in Jeffersonville. Another restaurant chain that started in Jeffersonville is Rally's.

National Processing Center

Jeffersonville is home to the United States Census Bureau's National Processing Center, which is the bureau's primary center for collecting, capturing, and delivering data. The facility is one of southern Indiana's largest employers.

Notable people

Jeffersonville is the birthplace of athletes Detroit Tigers Walt Terrell, NFL wide receiver Jermaine Ross, and professional wrestler Nick Dinsmore, as well as musicians Travis Meeks of Days of the New and Duane Roland, a guitarist and founder of Molly Hatchet. Also former New Yorkmarker Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan spent part of his childhood in Jeffersonville and actress Natalie West also lived in the city at one time. Actors Theatre of Louisville alum and television actress Diane Lander was raised in Jeffersonville before she moved to Los Angeles in 1974 and twice married playwright Neil Simon. Businessman John Schnatter graduated from Jeffersonville High School and started Papa John's in Jeffersonville. Jeffersonville native politician Richard B. Wathen represented the city in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1973-1990. There is also a park Wathen Park and the Wathen Heights neighborhood named after his family.

See also


  1. Official History of Jeffersonville
  2. Life of Walter Quintin Gresham, 1832-1895 By Matilda Gresham (Rand, McNally & company 1919) page 23-23
  3. Indiana History - Camp Joe Holt
  4. Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot - History and Functions
  5. The Howard Ship Yards & Dock Company
  6. Clark County, Indiana - History
  7. Jeff absorbs 4 annexed areas (by Harold J. Adams) Courier Journal February 8, 2008
  8. Parts of Jeffersonville annexation official (by David Mann) The Evening News February 8, 2008
  9. Jeffersonville annexation challenge is rejected (Ben Zion Hershberg) Courier Journal February 26, 2008
  10. City of Jeff - Dining
  11. National Processing Center

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