(July 1, 1792-Apr. 5, 1829). A native of Virginia and veteran of the War of 1812, James Paxton came to Indianapolis in October 1821 and constructed several early buildings in the new village. He was a contractor on the first Marion County Courthouse, completed in the fall of 1824. This structure also served as the state capitol building for several years.

Paxton was essential to gaining land for Military Park in Indianapolis, shown here in 1904. Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society. View Source

Paxton was elected colonel of Militia when Marion County officers balloted for leadership on September 7, 1822. He assumed command of ten infantry companies and one company each of artillery, rifles, and cavalry (the 40th  Regiment, Indiana State Militia).

His citizen soldiers trained in what is now known as Military Park, land which he was instrumental in obtaining from the federal government. The companies drilled and paraded there, generally for little more than the amusement of citizens. He held this post until 1826 when he was succeeded by Alexander W. Russell.

Paxton was also active in politics and business. He was a representative from Marion and other nearby counties to the 1823-1824 and 1825 -1826 sessions, and he sponsored legislation that facilitated the removal of the capital from Corydon to Indianapolis. The following year, he became president of a local Henry Clay for President club. He invested in some of the city’s early business ventures and counted among his closest friends two other settler citizens of Indianapolis, Calvin Fletcher and Daniel Yandes. Paxton is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Revised March 2021

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