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1/1/2018 11:00:00 AM
Monroe County officials used liquid incentives to attract settlers to new county in 1818
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Ernest Rollins, Herald-Times

Government officials use various incentives to encourage people to move to, and invest in, a community. They point to parks and trails, a talented workforce, and sometimes entice businesses with a tax abatement or other agreements.

But, 200 years ago, with none of those things to offer, the first board of county commissioners of the newly created Monroe County found another way to attract residents to south-central Indiana — whiskey.

Then-Commissioner Bartlett Woodward suggested the county purchase a barrel of whiskey and offer drinks from it for free to those who attended the first land auction for lots in Bloomington in June 1818.

It’s hard to tell if the whiskey boosted land sales, but according to The Daily Herald-Telephone edition celebrating the county’s sesquicentennial, the alcohol offering, along with extensive advertising of the land for purchase in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio newspapers, brought people out to the Midwest.

Getting people to move to a mostly vacant territory was only one small step in establishing a new county. The Indiana Legislature authorized the creation of Monroe County on Jan. 14, 1818, with it set to take effect April 10 of the same year.

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