Town of New Pekin

A Caring Community with Caring People

"A Bit of History"

 New Pekin

The land for the town of New Pekin was first entered on August 25, 1818. The original town plat was made on December 23, 1883 by W. A. Graves. The town of New Pekin was incorporated in 1903 to provide funds to build and operate a school.

 

"Old" Pekin

On September 29, 1819, Isaac Davis entered section 30 in what was to become Polk Township. Several years later in 1831 Christian Bixler laid out the town of Pekin on the south side of Mutton Fork, Blue River.

Before 1831, there were several buildings at this location. As early as 1830 stage coaches were making regular runs between Jeffersonville and Salem. A wagon route between Salem and New Albany also passed through this area. Pekin was a staging stop where horses were watered and changed.

The town prospered until 1851 when the railroad was completed. The train station was built on the more level north side of Blue River. Businesses gradually migrated to the new location. In 1854 the County Commissioners declared the town vacant and the area became known as Old Pekin.

 

Fourth of July Celebration

The town of New Pekin claims the distinction of having the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States of America. Pekin began celebrating Independence Day in the year 1830.

The first several celebrations were said to be neighborhood affairs. It is assumed that it did not stay that way for long. Many families lived in the surrounding townships and there were not many social activities.

Various sources recount that the celebration was held near Old Pekin from 1830 until 1856. Around 1857 the celebration was moved to near the Blue River where festivities were held until 1885. In either 1872 or 1873 the picnic was held at the farm of James Campbell where he had built a recreational area.

The fall of 1884 saw the completion of the fairgrounds. The following year (1885), the celebration was moved to the new fairgrounds. Many local residents did not agree with the celebration being moved there and held a second celebration at Tash Grove.

In 1909, the Gill brothers bought the southern part of the old fairgrounds. It became known as Gill's Grove. This became the present location of the Pekin Community Park, where the celebration has been held every year since.

Today the celebration consists of a fireworks display, a parade with 200+ entries, live bands, 3 on 3 basketball tournament, carnival, food vendors, a flea market, reading of the United States Declaration of Independence, prince & princess contest, a queen contest, cookouts and many other small celebrations around the town of New Pekin.

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