News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 18, 2012

RONN MOTT: Give Francis Vigo his due by pronouncing name correctly

Ronn Mott
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — Driving up Third Street the other day, I noticed the clock tower on the courthouse was working. Congrats to the people who keep it doing so.

I was reminded that underneath the cupola there rests a gift from Francis Vigo to the city of Terre Haute and the county. It is a huge bell and I would guess it weighs more than a ton. It is the largest bell I have ever laid my eyes on. It was meant to be an alarm bell, but technology would render it useless. It is a reminder of why this county is named after Mr. Vigo.

Francis Vigo was an Italian tradesman who had been sanctioned by the Spanish and the French to trade with Native Americans not only in this area, but also along the Mississippi River and what is now the states of Missouri and Illinois.

He had the vision to see the energetic Americans as the future of this area. He would place his entire fortune at the disposal of the Americans who were fighting to wrest control from the British. It certainly can be said if it weren’t for Francis Vigo, this may not be the country we now enjoy.

I think the least we can do, and it’s a small thing, is to pronounce his name correctly. It’s pronounced “Vee-go,” not with a long “I”.

I was driving on the loop of U.S. 41 one morning when I was pulled over by a deputy sheriff. He identified himself as Deputy So-and-So of “Veye-igo” County. I was not going to argue the fact that I was speeding because I probably was. I did remind him, however, that he was not a Deputy Sheriff of “Veye-go” County, but of “Veego” County and he would not have that uniform, the badge, or the gun, if it had not been for a man named Francis Vigo.

Needless to say, I got my ticket.  It was, perhaps, not the time for a history lesson.

Being a patriot is not just waving the flag, decorating a house or business in patriotic bunting, but that you are willing and would make sacrifices for this country. Francis Vigo (I believe this is correct) never got his money back that he gave to our fledgling government. It’s obvious he was willing to make the sacrifice.  

We should at least honor him as a patriot by pronouncing his name correctly.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.