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Indiana and Kentucky boundary collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: S1489

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence and reports dealing with a land boundary dispute between Indiana and Kentucky dealing with the Evansville, Indiana Water Works plant and Green River Island ranging from 1938 to 1951.

The items are as follows:

Folder S1489

1938 Dec. 5 Letter, S. J. Kagan to the Evansville City Attorney 1938 Dec. 6 Letter, Leo Warren (Assistant City Attorney of Evansville) to Louis L. Roberts City Attorney 1938 Dec. 6 "Summary of the Facts involved in a land dispute between the state of Indiana and the Commonwealth of Kentucky" (2 copies) 1939 Jan. 20 Letter, S. J. Kagan to Dr. Christopher B. Coleman 1939 May 3 Letter, Louis L. Roberts to William E. Treadway, Administrative Secretary of the Commission on Interstate Cooperation 1943 May 24 H.J. Resolution 131 1951 "The Case of the Missing Slough"


1942 Kentucky and Indiana Boundary Commission Report and Plat of Resurvey of Kentucky and Indiana State Boundary Line


  • 1938-1951


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Historical Note

In 1935, Kentucky filed a claim against the city of Evansville, Indiana to include real estate in the city on Kentucky tax assessment records. The state of Kentucky claimed that the land was actually part of the state of Kentucky. There had been a dispute between Kentucky and Indiana over land boundaries going back to 1820. The case was brought to the United States Supreme Court in Handly’s Lessee v. Anthony and the court decided that the boundary line was the low water mark of the Ohio River. However, when the plat maps were made the boundary line used was the high bank mark.

In 1873, Kentucky and Indiana both created commissions to ascertain the true boundary line between them. In 1877, Kentucky adopted the report of the commission, while Indiana suspended their commission. The legislature of Indiana gave the governor the power to enter into negotiations with Kentucky for all the rights and jurisdiction of Green River Island and any lands on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. The negotiations were unsuccessful and the case again came before the United States Supreme Court in Indiana v. Kentucky in 1890. The court again found the boundary line to be the low water mark of the Ohio River but stated that it was the low water mark of the river at the time the area was controlled by the commonwealth of Virginia. They decided that the land then passed to Kentucky when it entered the Union. In 1944, the boundary was set by the United States Congress and they found that the Evansville Water Works plant was in Indiana.


0.12 Cubic Feet (1 folder, 1 extra-large oversize folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from L.A. Smith on 1942/04/13 and WPA Historical Records Survey on 1939/01/20.


No further additions are expected.

Related Archival Material

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in the Indiana Division, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

Report and plat of resurvey of the Kentucky-Indiana state boundary line at Green River Island between Evansville, Indiana and Henderson, Kentucky / Kentucky-Indiana Boundary Commission, 1942. Format: Map; Call number: [Map Rm-L] ISLZ 912.772 I42K, (1942)

Indiana - Kentucky boundary / Indiana. State Highway Commission (1961-1981). Format: Pamphlet; Call number: ISLO 977.2 no. 263

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2007/03 by Barbaqra Hilderbrand. EAD finding aid created 2007/03 by Barbaqra Hilderbrand. EAD finding aid revised 2015/12/09 by Brittany Kropf.
Indiana and Kentucky boundary collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.