Our History

John Bicknell, born in Knox County married Eliza Ann Chansler, a neighbor girl, and became a prominent farmer. In 1860 he purchased 240 acres for $13.00 an acre and had part of it laid out in lots. George Fuller, Emison, purchased the first lot in 1868 and built the first store which contained his residence and the Post Office. The area had been called “Stumptown” because of the multitude of tree stumps from the dense forest that had to be removed. After Mr. Fuller built his store people began to call it “Fullertown”. In 1869 it was agreed it should be called “Bicknell” in honor of John Bicknell.

The town began to grow. The first commercial coal mine was sunk in 1873 and more mines were started. The first telephone was installed in 1898 by George Cleveland.  In 1905 the first electric plant (DC) was built by August L. Brocksmith, who owned the first auto.  The town was incorporated in 1907 with 4,005 citizens.  Main Street was paved six years later and the waterworks was built in 1918.  The Coal mining industry brought more people, and in 1920 there were almost 8,000 persons living here.  There were over 20 shaft mines producing with rail connections, providing employment for 2,000 men.

Daily trains ran from Bicknell to Vincennes, seats and aisles full of commuting miners.  In 1927 many of the early mines began to close and according to several citizens, delivered a “death blow” to Bicknell.  Today the population is less than 4,000, but the City did not die; it just changed directions from a booming mine town to a great, little City in which people could raise children and retire.